[Editor: This article, about the Imperial Federation League and Lord Brassey, was published in The Geelong Advertiser (Geelong, Vic.), 27 June 1887.]
The Imperial Federation League.
Banquet by the Victorian Branch.
(By Electric Telegraph.)
(From Our Correspondent.)
Melbourne, Sunday Night.
The Victorian branch of the Imperial Federation League gave a banquet to Lord Brassey, who is treasurer of the parent league in England, last night in the council chamber of the town hall. Mr G. D. Carter, M.L.C., president of the Victorian branch, was in the chair, and there were about 100 guests present, including the Premier, the president of the Legislative Council, Messrs M’Donald and Patterson, the Postmaster-General of Queensland, the Mayor of Melbourne, and Justice Webb.
The chairman, in proposing the toast of “The guest of the evening,” referred to the fact that the Victorian branch of the league had offered prizes for competition amongst State school children for an essay on Imperial Federation. He was glad to welcome the master of the State school at Geelong whose pupils had won two prizes, and who had come all the way from Geelong to attend the banquet.
Lord Brassey received a flattering reception on responding. He said that, speaking on behalf of the Imperial Federation League, it was proper he should say they had no “cut-and-dried” plans which they were anxious to put forward, but they wished to recognise the difficulties they would have to contend with in arriving at any solution of the question of federation. As the colonies grew in population and wealth, the league anticipated that they would see more and more displayed a manly and independent attitude on the part of the colonies, not only by their co-operation for their own defence, but to share in the responsibilities for the defence of the United Empire. The league did not desire to hurry the solution of the question, but he thought that the wisest solution would be of one of a gradual character, dealing with circumstances as they arose. But, for wise action when necessity arose, they wished to pave the way by timely and temperate discussion. If any Englishman were in doubt as to the feelings of the colonies towards the mother country, the evidence of the past week in the noble city of Melbourne would have done much to dispel it, and dispel it effectually. The national character of the Anglo-Saxon race was shown as strongly here as in the old country. It seemed to him that scarcely any other conclusion could be drawn by an intelligent traveller than this: that the ties which bound the colonies to the mother country were stronger than those which any legislation or any statesmanship could provide, and that they were implanted in the innermost life of the people.
Mr Gillies, in responding to the toast of “The Ministry,” said he had come to the banquet, not only with the object of paying a compliment to the guest of the evening, but also with the intention of indicating his adherence to the great sentiment which the league had been inaugurated to put forward. The sentiments so ably expressed by Lord Brassey, and which found a place in the hearts of all, were not simply to be re-echoed in the words, “unity of the Empire.” These sentiments were a protest against the dismemberment of the Empire. (Enthusiastic cheers.) He agreed with Lord Brassey as to the rashness of any attempt to mark out absolute lines and rules on which Imperial Federation should be brought about. What they were immediately desirous of doing was to first endeavor to lead the public mind until they had reached one united and universal sentiment on the subject of federation, and then to endeavor to see the best way in which it could be brought about. He felt pleasure in saying, so far as the sentiments of the people of this colony were concerned, and speaking the sentiments of the Government of the colony in the strongest way, that it was their view to do all they could to draw closer the bond of union between themselves and the mother country. If ever the hour should arise when those sentiments of unity and loyalty were likely to be tested, he did not hesitate to say that there would be no stronger crowd in the whole Empire than those of this side of the seas in their desire to support the unity of the Empire.
The Geelong Advertiser (Geelong, Vic.), 27 June 1887, p. 3
cut-and-dried = a situation, or a solution to a problem or issue, for which the method or strategy for handling the matter is obvious, routine, or straightforward; a strategy for handling a situation which has been arranged in advance, previously determined, or according to a set plan or procedure; a situation which is clear, definite, and unambiguous
Empire = in the context of early Australia, the British Empire
Imperial Federation = a proposal, backed by a wide movement, of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which sought have the British Empire run as a federated state, at least in some aspects (there were various differences of opinion as to the nature of the proposed federation); however, the proposal never came to fruition
See: 1) Jacqueline Banerjee “The Imperial Federation League”, The Victorian Web
2) “Imperial Federation”, Wikipedia
Legislative Council = the upper house of parliament in the various colonies and states of Australia
Lord Brassey = Thomas Brassey, 1st Earl Brassey (1836-1918), a British Liberal Party politician, and Governor of Victoria (1895-1900); he was born in Stafford (England), and died in England in 1918
See: 1) B. R. Penny, “Brassey, Thomas (1836–1918)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography
2) “Thomas Brassey, 1st Earl Brassey”, Wikipedia
Messrs = an abbreviation of “messieurs” (French), being the plural of “monsieur”; used in English as the plural of “Mister” (which is abbreviated as “Mr.”); the title is used in English prior to the names of two or more men (often used regarding a company, e.g. “the firm of Messrs. Bagot, Shakes, & Lewis”, “the firm of Messrs. Hogue, Davidson, & Co.”)
M.L.C. = Member of the Legislative Council
mother country = in an historical Australian context, Great Britain; may also refer to England specifically (may also be hyphenated, i.e. mother-country)
old country = a reference to the country from where one came or from where one’s family originated; in an Australian context, “the old country” refers to the nation which settled Australia, and thus the phrase commonly refers to Great Britain or the United Kingdom (or to England specifically)
race = nationality; people of a particular national or ethnic origin (distinct from the historical and/or common usage of “race” referring to a sub-species of humans, such as Caucasians, Mongoloids, and Negroids, or Europeans, Asians, and Africans)
United Empire = in the context of early Australia, the British Empire (the phrase may imply a situation where the British colonies or dominions are united via Imperial Federation, or moves towards such a federation)
[Editor: Changed “gradua character” to “gradual character”.]
[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]