Morality In William Gladstone's 'Colonialism'

999 Words4 Pages
Religion, and the morality associated to it, constitutes the core of many of William Gladstone’s speeches. Colonialism leads to violence, he explains, l.18: “Sometimes they may be not without bloodshed; sometimes they are not made without a threat of bloodshed.” This is a fact impossible to deny. But violence, in most human societies, needs justification. As Mr Gladstone’s explains, the British kingdom denies its culpability, its “fault” (L.19). The fault lies on “those people”, meaning the colonised population, ”who cannot perceive the wisdom of coming under our sceptre” (L.20), that is to say they will fight against their invaders. In one sentence, Mr Gladstone ridicules the notion of the white man’s burden, or the 3C, as spread in British…show more content…
William Gladstone base his argument, once again, on morality. The Empire should spread and defend the interest of humanity, such as “the hope of freedom” (l.26), “honour and justice” (l.33-34). Although he previously defended slavery in his youth, due to his father’s lands, we can only surmise that the following sentence “[...] it was to England that the eyes of the oppressed were always turned” (l.27) was a reference to the abolition of slavery decades ago, as the popular opinion had turned against slavery. But the sentence is vague enough for the audience to make its own interpretation, which can make it even more powerful than if a precise example had been given. In this speech, the aim was to act in favour of the slaughtered Christian Bulgarians in the Ottoman Empire, but this notion can be applied to Gladstone's entire policy. If these moral interests are not taken into account, there is no point in maintaining or extending the Empire. In contrast, Benjamin Disraeli, as a RealPolitik politician, has more pragmatic view, and defends colonisation as a way to support British interests, through concrete arguments as previously explained. However, the last paragraph of his speech details another view of the spirit of the Empire: that of a colony so attuned with its “mother country” (l.33) that it survived all previous attempt of “disintegration’ (L.32) from the Liberal government. According to Mr Disraeli, the Empire exists, survives, and thrives because the colonies want so. And the British Kingdom benefits from it. As such, it is only the natural order of things to maintain and extend the colonies. Therefore, Mr William Gladstone sees British interest in association with the defence of humankind, peace, and diverse Christian notions, whereas for Mr Benjamin Disraeli, the very spirit of the Empire exist because colonies
Open Document