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THE EXPANSION OF GERMANY.
At the Berlin Conference of 1884 Germany, for the first time, takes her place in the ranks of the colonising States of Europe. France has recently exhibited new fervour in the same direction, and everywher in Europe there are signs that national expansion beyond national frontiers is to be a leading feature of the coming era.
In thus recognising a wider application of Professor Seeley's now historic term, one cannot but recall that passage of his admirable book in which he sums up the historical origin and character of the Empire of Greater Britain :
It is the sole rvivor of a whole family of Empires which arose out of the action of the discovery of the New World upon the peculiar condition and political ideas of Europe. All these Empires were beset by certain dangers which Greater Britain alone has hitherto escaped, though she, too, has felt the shock of them, and is still exposed to them; and the great question now is, whether she can modify her defective Constitution in such a way as to escape them for the future.
Whatsoever these dangers which the British Empire alone has survived, it cannot be doubted that other European nations, other States of the Old World ,in spite of the previous losses of colonies, are again reaching a period of redundant population, capital, and energy. Europe, like some mighty human volcano, is again giving signs of a great periodic eruption.
The effort, following close on the discovery of the New World, which Europe made to extend European dominion over large areas of the earth's surface collapsed, after three centuries of toil, in the severance from Europe of all the States so set up. The whole of America had been colonized, but the whole of America, with what was then considered the trifling exception of a narrow strip of inhabited territory in the extreme north, broke the bonds of its European connection. Spain ultimately retained a hold only on her two West Indian islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico. France lost all she had acquired on the mainland of North America, and soon the great West Indian island of Hispaniola ; Portugal lost her dominion over one half of South America ; and her long chain of factories and garrisons, which at one time had given her the monopoly of trade along all the coasts of Africa, Arabia, and India, away to the islands of the Far East, fell into a feebleness which allowed most of them to Vol. XVI.—No. 94.
be absorbed by other Powers or else forced their abandonment. Even Holland lost her Atlantic colonies. In brief, the early years of this century saw the final dismemberment of the great European Colonial Empire, which had come to its birth on the discovery of the New World; and the main determining cause of the collapse was the fact that Europe had no longer redundant population, capital, or energy.
All the while, however, the population of the British Islands, less affected by the general circumstances of the Continent, had not only been rapidly increasing in numbers, but rapidly progressing in new ideas as to the value of liberty and freedom. And there was sufficient superfluous life in the nation to enable it to push a potential dominion over large areas of the world's surface. The development of its remaining North American possessions suddenly became possible and profitable; it established and extended its supremacy in South Africa ; and its settlements along the coast-line of the great Australian continent soon gave it actual proprietory of that. fifth quarter of the world. Meanwhile, in India and the East, its merchants and administrators had built up the the foundations of empire. England was thus the first to inaugurate the revival of the colonial expansion of Europe. And it so happened that in this unnoticed and almost unintended absorption of Canada, South Africa, and Australia, the English had become possessed of an enormous area of the temperate regions of the earth not as yet opened up to civilisation.
As if at once to justify and assist this new movement, European prosperity and progress received an altogether unprecedented impetus from the sudden burst of scientific discovery which marks the first half of this century as a period unequalled in the world's history for the immediate effect of knowledge on the well-being and advance of mankind.
In the British Islands the population very speedily came to exceed normal limits; and on the Continent these scientific advances, aided by many consecutive years of unwonted peace, led to similar growth and progress. The dawn had broken of an epoch of which the leading characteristic was to be an overflow of European energy-a second eruption of this great human volcano. In its first throes, indeed, these redundant energies found their safest outlet in English colonies, which alone had already established law and order and the surroundings of European civilisation over the waste places of the earth. Many minor causes from time to time contributed to these results. Among them may be placed the discovery of gold in Australia, and the fact that by proceeding to English colonies these European emigrants escaped the claims of conscription or the persecution of political or religious dogmas. Thus silently, yet rapidly, the British Empire grew till it suddenly became the envy of Europe. In the meantime European States had advanced steadily in population and wealth ; and their Governments could not but see that in following in the footsteps
of England lay a sure way to get greater national prosperity and power. It is true that among the Latin nations Italy alone has exhibited signs of really vigorous growth and increase ; but among the more northern nations not only has there been a rapid increase of population but an overpowering tendency towards emigration-a widespreading impulse towards enterprise in new countries. These influences have become specially active during the last four or five years, and nowhere has this been more marked than in Germany, where all causes have worked with irresistible effect to force an expansion.
There were also special causes at work in Germany. The one great historical fact for Europe in this century has been the unification of Germany—a culmination cemented at Sadowa and Sedan. Union implied not only greater average prosperity and growth, but greater influence abroad, and, above all, greater power for foreign action. Thus when there arrived the day of overplus of people, money, and energy, there were also present the power and the influence to direct and mature expansion. Such is the ‘historical origin and character of the expansion of Germany.
But what we are to look for in the near future is exemplified in the fact that this expansion has this year assumed very definite form and has been specially active in the tropical regions of the earth. There are rumours that Germany is in negotiation for taking over from Denmark her few remaining West Indian possessions, which, in the lowest depression as plantations, would as trade centres and coaling stations be invaluable to Germany-more especially when the Panama Canal is opened. On the West Coast of Africa, Germany already claims several hundred miles of coast, and her annexing consul, Dr. Nachtigal, will no doubt soon report yet further extensions of German authority. There are whispers of similar annexations on the East Coast. And this occupying of coast stations means the annexation of so many doorways of the Central African area, which may be legitimately regarded as a great future market for European wares.
In Germany itself the foundation of a colonial empire has come to be one of the most prominent of national questions; and, as is well known, Prince Bismarck bas placed bimself at the head of this new and irresistible movement. The German nation has two objects in view---fresh openings and opportunities for its commerce, and new fields for its redundant population, without that national severance from the mother country which is now the result of German settlement in Australia or North America. The Germans are becoming anxious ultimately to secure that emigration shall mean, wbat it now means for Englishmen, not the loss of the national population but merely its redistribution within the national boundaries.
In the Fatherland these colonial aspirations are rapidly taking very practical shape. The Commercial Geography Society of Berlin
has for some years made a special advocacy of colonial extension, and now we have an actual Association for the Acquisition of Colonies, and among several new periodicals specially dealing with this subject, one-the Deutsche Kolonial-Zeitung-wholly devoted to securing a colonial empire for the German nation.
German commercial energy is just now second only to that of England, and has established itself firmly on nearly every coast. But in regard to new fields for its redundant population, no active measures bave as yet been taken. It is true that until quite recently there was bardly any area of territory outside Germany that was German soil; and the consequence was that there were no predetermining causes of patriotism to direct the German emigrant to any particular locality. Thus it is that the German patriot is now keenly regretting that there are seven millions of German-born citizens in the United States; that much of the prosperity of Russia depends entirely on the German element in the population; and that in the quondam provinces of the Turkish Empire in South-eastern Europe Germans are forced to seek those opportunities from which they are crowded out in the Fatherland. And just as one cause of German emigration is avoidance of the conscription, so the depationalisation of so many Germans of enterprise and spirit is regarded not only as so much loss of strength to the German nation, but as so much accession of strength to certain rivals and possible foes. All this is keenly felt in Germany, and the argument is common, "Why should not Germany as well as England have new national territories sufficient for the expansion of the nation, sufficient to allow all Germans to push their way without being forced to sever themselves from the Fatherland ?'
This is the fons et origo of the new-born German colonial movement; and the measures as yet taken to realise this great national movement are marked by much common sense and caution. The ultimate object, indeed, is recognised, but immediate measures, although definitely tending in the right direction and tentative, as it were, in character, are done the less heartily and vigorously adopted. Prince Bismarck has laid down the principles on which preliminary action will be based :- All we aim at is to ensure access to Africa for German trade at points hitherto not subject to the dominion of other European Powers; ' 'to extend to Germans wherever settled the protection of the Empire ;' to extend the protection of the Empire to German trading establishments, founded on private initiation and at private risk, against foreign avarice and interference.' In brief, Germany has determined to extend the dominion of Germany; and in proof of this we hear frequent mention of the boisting of the German flag in various parts of the world. Great regard is paid to the previous claims of civilised Powers, but, subject to these prior rights, Germany is prepared vigorously to open up outlets for German trade and secure opportunities for real German colonisation.
On another point the guiding spirits of the movement have shown much practical sense. Germany is establishing, one by one, coaling stations in various quarters of the globe. These, we may rest assured, will be properly guarded against the chances of war. Germany takes time by the forelock, and, wisely foreseeing the indispensable need of coaling stations in time of war and their manifold advantage in times of peace, Germany does that which England has been for some time thinking and talking of doing, although Germany is at present only contemplating the foundation of a wide empire and network of trading stations such as that of which England is already in full possession.
Hitherto German energies seem to have been concentrated on and limited to securing trading stations within the tropics. It is true that some of these, as in Africa, may turn out to be mere steppingstones to the occupation of interior plateaux or districts suitable for planting operations. It is remarkable, however, that Germany makes as yet no visible effort to obtain a footing in any temperate regions, wbere German muscle could find fresh fields for its energies without abandoning the Fatherland. This, however, is a development which time may bring into full bearing. At present the only move in that direction is the contemplated State aid for lines of ocean steamers; for this State aid may imply in the future State control and direction, which by making free and easy the channels of trade and communication in definite directions, would tempt along particular channels the stream of emigration. It seems not improbable that Germany will soon be feeling her way in various quarters towards the eventual acquisition of territories where her sons may labour with their hands. It is even hinted that the gradual formation of large German colonies in South America (where there is a climate more closely resembling that of Europe than in any other country south of the Equator) may so leaven the population as to lead it at no distant date to seek what at present is lacking--peace from internecine rebellions and security for person and property, in the arms of the German Fatherland. To such places may be readily turned the tide of overflowing population. No doubt the very dislike to conscription may itself be turned to account by limited exemptions for those who will emigrate to such new possessions. In these and other ways the present expansion of Germany bids fair at no distant date to become one of the most influential elements in the present tendency of European nations to occupy those portions of the earth which the former efforts at colonisation have left practically unoccupied.
It is necessary for Englishmen all the world over to pay very close attention to this expansion of Germany, and it is well to determine forthwith on the right attitude this nation ought to take up with regard to it. A great proportion of British interests are located outside the home islands, either in national colonial enter