Australian patriotism or nationalism: Speech by Lord Carrington [30 September 1889]

[Editor: An article regarding the imperial-patriotic relationship between Australia and Britain. Published in The Brisbane Courier, 30 September 1889.]

Australian patriotism or nationalism.

Speech by Lord Carrington.

Speaking at the King’s School, Parramatta, last week, Lord Carrington said:—

It has given me much pleasure to attend your prize-giving as well as your sports, which show that bodily exercise requiring pluck and skill is not neglected at the King’s School. But what gives me the greatest pleasure of all is to see the love which you have for your school and through your school for your native land, and for this sentiment all men must honour you.

With all their affections for the land of their adoption, perhaps the softest corner of your fathers’ and grandfathers’ hearts was for the old English village or country town where they were bred and born. With you it is different. As future citizens your first care should be for your country, and your ambition should be to be a credit to and to serve your young free nation.

I know that some people fear that this feeling of patriotism or nationalism must develop dislike to the old country from which so many of us sprang. How does this accord with the last two expressions of public feeling in Australia? Five years ago England was engaged in a tribal war and this country suddenly volunteered to send troops to her assistance. The war itself was unpopular, the offer was illegal; some people here went so far as to call it ridiculous; and there certainly was no crisis which necessitated sending 800 men to help a nation which, besides owning the mightiest navy ever seen, has 140,000 regular troops, a large army reserve, 130,000 militia and yeomanry, and 250,000 volunteers, a country which could, if required, easily put a million fighting men (many of whom had already gone through the ranks) in six months into the field. It was in reality what is so well described in an article of the Daily Telegraph (Sydney) “as an impulsive interference in the struggles of the Empire.”

Whatever objections the offer might be open to on the score of illegality or absence of impelling need, England took it in the spirit in which it was made, and such was the feeling aroused that a refusal would have meant the downfall of the Government of the day; and now that William Dalley, the gifted Irish-Australian, who struck the sympathetic chord, has gone from us, Englishmen have erected a monument to his memory close to the resting-places of Wellington and of Nelson, in the crypt of the great cathedral which stands in the midst of the greatest city which the world has ever seen.

Again, last month the news came out that the dock labourers in London had struck for a small advance. It was feared that eventually 250,000 men might be thrown out of work. Taking four to a family this means a population nearly equal to that of New South Wales. Again burst out another “impulsive interference with the struggles of the Empire,” and £30,000 was subscribed. It was not a question of socialism or of class antagonism that moved Australians; it was simply an honest outburst of sympathy and pity for starving men, women, and children, of their own race struggling for a bare existence. And this pity and this practical sympathy in Australia, as well as in England, gave these poor creatures courage in their trouble and no doubt saved scenes of riot, disorder, and violence. The telegraphic news of this morning tells us that Mr. Gladstone says: “The issue of this strike is pregnant with hope for the future improved condition of all classes of labour.”

Is not the reflection that this young nation has in a great measure contributed to so splendid a result a source of pride to you Australians? It is work such as this which lays deep and broad the foundations of that national pride which springs from one’s country’s good deeds, and which enables us to rise above all the arguments of separatists and Imperialists alike. No doubt we shall have some misunderstandings, but the feeling between the two countries is so good that it will require a very serious blunder on the part of Australian or English statesmen to cause a rupture.

And, my dear boys, always remember this: You are now in the closest alliance with the only country in the world which, while she assists the colonies to protect themselves, has never asked and never will ask them to contribute a shilling or a man for her own defence; you are allied to the country that will stick by you to the last. With her at your back you need have no fear of an attack on your liberties which your fathers are handing down to you as a sacred trust to preserve and to cherish for all time.

The Brisbane Courier (Brisbane, Qld.), 30 September 1889, p. 7

[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]
[Editor: Added a comma to the end of “in England”.]

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