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FEDERATIONS AND UNIONS
WITHIN THE BRITISH EMPIRE
HUGH EDWARD EGERTON
SOMETIME BEIT PROFESSOR OF COLONIAL HISTORY
FELLOW OF ALL SOULS COLLEGE, OXFORD
AT THE CLARENDON PRESS
Oxford University Press
Printed in England
THE time was, we are told, when a knowledge of the laws of his country was a part of the liberal education of an English gentleman. The great mass and confusion of the Statutes at large have long made this impossible; and a commission in the Guards is often the modern substitute for attendance at one of the Inns of Court, in the case of a future country magistrate. But an exception to the rule that confines the knowledge of Acts of Parliament to the trained lawyer may well be made, when the Statutes are in question, which embody (to a great extent at least) the political Constitutions which have been evolved by the needs of the peoples of Canada, Australia and South Africa. At a time when our own unwritten Constitution is in the melting-pot, it is surely a matter of importance that we should know the exact significance of the precedents which, with a light heart, our selfconstituted political guides quote to us from their respective platforms.
'So, do I find example, rule of life;
So, square and set in order the new page.' An apology is, then, perhaps scarcely needed for putting together in a handy form these 'fundamental Constitutions', together with some other documents which may assist in their elucidation, introduced by an historical account of the circumstances in which they rose. To the professed lawyer and historian
a book of this kind may appear a hybrid, possessing the weak points of either of its parent stocks; but, on the other hand, it may be hoped that the end justifies the means.
I have advisedly not included the Constitution of New Zealand. The shadowy kind of federation adumbrated by the establishment of the six Provinces can hardly take rank among federal Governments, even during the short period of the existence of these Provinces; and in other respects the Constitution of New Zealand was similar to the Constitutions of the other Australasian Colonies.
I have to express my warm thanks for corrections and advice to Professor W. L. Grant, of Queen's University, Kingston; to Mr. A. Berriedale Keith, of the Colonial office, author of Responsible Government in the Dominions, and to Mr. E. Barker, Fellow and Tutor of St. John's College, Oxford. Professor Grant found time before leaving England to read the book through in MS.; Mr. Keith has generously placed at my disposal his probably unrivalled knowledge, at least in this country, of these Statutes, and Mr. Barker read my Introduction, and made some valuable suggestions with regard to its concluding part.
H. E. EGERTON.