Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 5.djvu/214

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CHAMBERLAIN

THE TRUE CONCEPTION OF EMPIRE 1

(1897)

Born in 1836; elected Mayor of Birmingham in 1873; elected to Parliament in 1876; President of the Board of Trade in 1880; Presi- dent of the Local Government Board in 1886; Colonial Secretary in 1895-1903.

It seems to me that there are three distinct stages in our imperial history. "We began to be, and we ultimately became, a great imperial Power in the eighteenth century, but, during the greater part of that time, the Colonies were regarded, not only by us, but by every Euro- pean Power that possessed them, as possessions valuable in proportion to the pecuniary advan- tage which they brought to the mother country, which, under that order of ideas, was not truly a mother at all, but appeared rather in the light of a grasping and absentee landlord, desiring to take from his tenants the utmost rents he could exact. The Colonies were valued and main- tained because it was thought that they would be a source of profit — of direct profit — to the mother country.

That was the first stage, and when we were

1 Delivered before the Royal Colonial Institute at its annual din- ner, in London, March 81, 1897. Printed here by kind permission or Mr. Chamberlain and the London Times.

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