Front Page Titles (by Subject) Conclusion.—Tendency of Colonial Possessions to produce or prolong bad Government. - Colony
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Conclusion.—Tendency of Colonial Possessions to produce or prolong bad Government. - James Mill, Colony 
Supplement to the Encyclopedia Britannica (London: J. Innes, 1825).
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Conclusion.—Tendency of Colonial Possessions to produce or prolong bad Government.
If colonies are so little calculated to yield any advantage to the countries that hold them, a very important question suggests itself. What is the reason that nations, the nations of modern Europe, at least, discover so great an affection for them? Is this affection to be wholly ascribed to mistaken views of their utility, or partly to other causes?
It never ought to be forgotten, that, in every country, there is “a Few,” and there is “a Many;” that in all countries in which the government is not very good, the interest of “the Few” prevails over the interest of “the Many,” and is promoted at their expence. “The Few” is the part that governs; “the Many” the part that is governed. It is according to the interest of “the Few” that colonies should be cultivated. This, if it is true, accounts for the attachment to colonies, which most of the countries, that is, of the governments of modern Europe, have displayed. In what way it is true, a short explanation will sufficiently disclose.
Sancho Panza had a scheme for deriving advantage from the government of an island. He would sell the people for slaves, and put the money in his pocket. “The Few,” in some countries, find in colonies, a thing which is very dear to them; they find, the one part of them, the precious matter with which to influence; the other, the precious matter with which to be influenced;—the one, the precious matter with which to make political dependents; the other, the precious matter with which they are made political dependents;—the one, the precious matter by which they augment their power; the other, the precious matter by which they augment their riches. Both portions of the “ruling Few,” therefore, find their account in the possession of colonies. There is not one of the colonies but what augments the number of places. There are governorships and judgeships, and a long train of et ceteras; and above all, there is not one of them but what requires an additional number of troops, and an additional portion of navy. In every additional portion of army and navy, beside the glory of the thing, there are generalships, and colonelships, and captainships, and lieutenantships, and in the equipping and supplying of additional portions of army and navy, there are always gains, which may be thrown in the way of a friend. All this is enough to account for a very considerable quantity of affection maintained towards colonies.
But beside all this, there is another thing of still greater importance; a thing, indeed, to which, in whatever point of view we regard it, hardly any thing else can be esteemed of equal importance. The colonies are a grand source of wars. Now wars, even in countries completely arbitrary and despotical, have so many things agreeable to the ruling few, that the ruling few hardly ever seem to be happy, except when engaged in them. There is nothing to which history bears so invariable a testimony as this. Nothing is more remarkable than the frivolous causes which almost always suffice for going to war, even when there is little or no prospect of gaining, often when there is the greatest prospect of losing by it, and that, even in their own sense of losing. But if the motives for being as much as possible in war are so very strong, even to governments which are already perfectly despotic, they are much stronger in the case of governments, which are not yet perfectly despotic, of governments of which the power is still, in any considerable degree, limited and restrained.
There is nothing in the world, where a government is, in any degree, limited and restrained, so useful for getting rid of all limit and restraint, as wars. The power of almost all governments is greater during war than during peace. But in the case of limited governments, it is so, in a very remarkable degree.
In the first place, there is the physical force of the army, and the terror and awe which it impresses upon the minds of men. In the next place, there is the splendour and parade, which captivate and subdue the imagination, and make men contented, one would almost say happy, to be slaves. All this surely is not of small importance. Then there is an additional power with which the government is entrusted during war. And, far above all, when the government is limited by the will of only a certain portion of the people; as, it is, under the British government, by the will of those who supply with members the two houses of Parliament; war affords the greatest portion of the precious matter with which that will may be guided and secured. Nothing augments so much the quantity of that portion of the national wealth which is placed at the command of the government, as war. Of course, nothing puts it in the power of government to create so great a number of dependents, so great a number of persons, bound by their hopes and fears to do and say whatever it wishes them to do and say.
Of the proposition, that colonies are a grand source of wars, and of additional expence in wars; that expence, by which the ruling few always profit at the cost of the subject many; it is not probable that much of proof will be required.
With regard to additional expence, it can hardly appear to be less than self-evident. Whenever a war breaks out, additional troops, and an additional portion of navy, are always required for the protection of the colonies. Even during peace, the colonies afford the pretext for a large portion of the peace establishment, as it is called; that is, a mass of warlike apparatus and expence, which would be burdensome even in a season of war. How much the cost amounts to, of a small additional portion, not to speak of a large additional portion, of army and navy, Englishmen have had experience to instruct them; and how great the mischief which is done by every particle of unnecessary expence, they are daily becoming more and more capable of seeing and understanding.
That the colonies multiply exceedingly the causes and pretexts of war, is matter of history; and might have been foreseen, before reaping the fruits of a bitter experience. Whatever brings you in contact with a greater number of states, increases, in the same proportion, those clashings of interest and pride, out of which the pretexts for war are frequently created. It would exhibit a result, which probably would surprise a good many readers, if any body would examine all the wars which have afflicted this country, from the time when she first began to have colonies, and would show how very great a proportion of them have grown out of colony disputes.
J. Innes, Printer, 61, Wells-street, Oxford-street, London.