Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 5.djvu/237

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ASQUITH

of the Empire by anything that arrests or im- pairs the material strength of the United King- dom. Mr. Chamberlain says, and says truly, that the Colonies ought not to be treated as an ap- pendage to Great Britain. I agree ; and neither ought Great Britain to be treated as an append- age to the Colonies. After all — we must put in a word now and again for poor little England — after all, this United Kingdom still remains the greatest asset of the British Empire, with its 42 millions of people, with its traditions of free government, with its indomitable enterprise, with its well-tried commercial and maritime prowess. Any one who strikes a blow at the root of the prosperity of the United Kingdom is doing the worst service which can be done to the Empire to which we are all proud to belong.

Mr. Chamberlain is haunted by two specters. The first is the approaching decay of British trade, and the other is the possible break-up of the British Empire. I will endeavour to illus- trate my own precepts and discuss this matter without heat and by argument. Let us see if the specters are real. Let us be perfectly sure about the disease before we resort to remedies which are admittedly heroic, and may be des- perate. First of all, I ask your attention to this : Mr. Chamberlain said at Glasgow the other night — and no more astounding declaration has been made by any public man within my memory — that in the United Kingdom trade has been "practically stagnant" for thirty years. That 203

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