Imperial Commonwealth

Imperial Commonwealth

Imperial Commonwealth

Imperial Commonwealth

Excerpt

I have tried to write a history, sufficiently founded upon the authorities, yet capable of being read with enjoyment by the ordinary reader, of that greatest and most fruitful of recorded political achievements, the British Empire. This is a story of which at present, thanks largely to the indifference of schools and Universities, the British themselves know next to nothing. And knowing so little of the nature of the achievements by which their ancestors changed the destiny of mankind, they necessarily. know all too little of the vast opportunities and obligations of the Empire-Commonwealth of to-day, while for three generations past they have cherished illusions as to its character and record which would have been unthinkable among an even moderately instructed people.

Yet it is not chance that, save Holland, every one of the great rivals and assailants of the Empire-Commonwealth has been a despotic state. Once England, and three times the Empire Commonwealth, has saved itself, and Europe, from a tyrant— from Philip of Spain, from Louis of France, from Napoleon and from Germany of the Hohenzollerns. These words are written before the long struggle against the fifth despotism, the Germany of Hitler, has ended. But if there is to be any future for freedom in the age to come, it seems certain that, as pttern, or even, it may be, as nucleus, of the world organisation of the future, there will be a vital rôle to be played by the one world community in existence—which discovered and spread abroad the art of self- government, and has already stablished permanent peace mong a quarter of mankind. It will not be easy, however, to render mankind that last great service, so long as the bulk of our citizens remain in almost total ignorance of the character and achievements. of our own world society.

For an elaborate bibliography the reader is referred to the Cambridge History of the British Empire. I have confined myself here to listing, at the end of each "book," for the benefit of those who may wish to investigate further, a number of the most useful and accessible secondary authorities. 'Finally, I must express my gratitude to the distinguished historian, Mr. Milton Waldman, for the great assistance I have derived from his kindly and penetrating criticisms.

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