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The Colonies of Great Britain.

The Colonial Constitutions and Defences of Great Britain form the subject of a very instructive article in a late number of the North British Review. We condense some of the prominent facts:

The Colonies of Great Britain are fifty in number, and cost the Imperial Government more than three millions of pounds sterling (or fifteen million dollars,) per annum. This is independent of the vast sums contributed by British capital for works of development and improvement. With the exception of one Canadian regiment, which is said to have cost more than a regiment raised in the mother country, they do not contribute even in men to the general military strength of the kingdom. Some of them do not even raise a local militia. Other European nations derive considerable revenues from their dependencies. In 1857, the surplus revenue paid by the Dutch Colonies into their national exchequer, after defraying all their military and naval expenses, was about £2,000,000, and the surplus revenue from the Spanish Colonies for the last year was £1,150,000. At the same time it is admitted there may be considerable indirect advantages resulting from extended colonial possessions. In this connection, the writer demurs to the idea, founded on the commerce of the United States with Great Britain, that the trade would exist independently of the colonial relation. He produces figures to show that both British America and Australia, in proportion to population, are greater consumers of British commodities than the United States. The exports received from Great Britain by Australia are, as compared with its population, at the rate of twelve pounds per head, while the experts received by the United States are less than one.

Great Britain alone among modern States has retained a large portion of her colonial empire. The loss of her thirteen American colonies has taught her that colonial self-government is the true principle both for the development of colonial resources and the consolidation of their union with the mother country. Free representative institutions are now the universal rule. In Australia there is universal suffrage, no qualification being required for a voter that is not required in the United States, except the ability to read and write. In others, there is a small freehold, or money qualification. Of the Royal Colonial Governors, it is said that, "like the Kings of England, they reign, but do not govern." Her vast colonial dominion is now held to Great Britain by the ties of gratitude and affection, and, whilst they might be wrested from her for a time by a foreign enemy, few of them would voluntarily sunder their connexion with a mild and paternal Government.

The mercantile prosperity of most of the British colonies is dwelt upon by the Review at some length. The advance of the Australian dependencies is wonderful. The province of Victoria, which, in 1851, had a population of only 77,345 persons, now numbers more than half a million. Our neighbor, Canada, is said to be making steady advances both in population and enterprise. She now numbers three millions of people, and her public works, built mostly by British capital, are of a costly and splendid character. The conviction is expressed by Sir Edmond Head, Governor General, that the whole of the trade of the Northwestern regions, not only of Canada, but of Western New York, Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, the great grain-growing district of the continent, must ultimately look to Montreal as its port and the St. Lawrence as its highway to the ocean. Canada has combined with the grandest canals in the world, the Grand Trunk Railway, which has a length of 1,112 miles, and is designed to provide for the Western trade of the great Northwestern region by the transport of goods to Portland, being the port nearest to the river St. Lawrence. The American cities on the great lakes, it is well known, have opened a direct trade through the Canadian waters with Great Britain. A scheme said to be founded on the soundest data, and considered in all its bearings, has been most favorably received in England, for the establishment of a daily line of screw steamers, of not less than 2,000 tons burthen, with a speed of from ten to twelve miles per hour, between Liverpool and Quebec, to be connected with another of steamers of 1,000 tons burthen, of the same speed, to the Welland Canal and Railway, Toronto or Hamilton, intersecting a line of similar steamers on Lake Erie or Huron to Chicago. By this connection passengers could reach Chicago from Liverpool in twelve days. "By creating an identity of feeling and interests between the people of Canada and the citizens of the Western States of the Union, it cannot fail to produce the most important commercial and political results." What does the Review mean by "political results?"

The only exception to the general prosperity of the British colonies is their West India possessions. Notwithstanding the abolition proclivities of the writer, he is forced to admit that "the West Indies have palpably and notoriously retrograded, both in prosperity and equalization, since the emancipation of the negro slave." The population of Jamaica at the last census amounted to 377,433, of which only 15,776 were Europeans. "It is, we fear, a fact incapable of being denied, that this, the oldest colony of England, is considerably misgoverned, as it has confessedly fallen into a state of almost hopeless moral and political prostration. However it may be regretted by the economist and philanthropist, the broad fact stands out plainly to the world that the African will not labor." It is quite natural that Great Britain should desire to reduce the Southern States of America to the same condition as her West India possessions; but how any American can co-operate with her in that policy, can only be explained by "the madness which goeth before destruction."

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