Page:The imperial peace; an ideal in European history.djvu/32

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The Imperial Peace

The notion that union and unity can rest safely, or ever do rest, on considerations of material profit, may be set aside. The opinion of modern writers has changed in a remarkable way in regard to this cause. In 1885 one of the greatest of the historians of Rome spent a week as my guest in Oxford, the first time he had ever been in England. His conversation turned several times on the future of the British Empire. His opinion was confident: the Empire had in it the inevitable seeds of dissolution, which were rapidly maturing to their inevitable result. The colonies had nothing to gain from the union with England; the interests of the colonies were opposed to, and inconsistent with, the interests of Britain; and they must go in the direction that was most advantageous for themselves. What may be for the material and immediate advantage of the colonies I cannot pretend to know or to guess. But it is now generally recognized that the union of the Empire rests on sentiment and not on calculation of apparent material interest. It rests on the possession of common ideals of liberty and free individual 'development, on historical memories and on the English literature.

Oxford: Horace Hart M.A., Printer to the University