Introduction: The Imperial Frontier in the Tropics

  • W. David McIntyre


WE have been of late much perplexed by a new word, “Imperialism”, which has crept in amongst us.’ With these words the fourth Earl of Carnarvon, speaking to a large Edinburgh audience in 1878, entered upon a discussion as to the ‘meaning and value of the word Imperialism’, which has continued from his day to this. In the course of his lecture he found it easier to say what imperialism was ‘not’ than to define what it was. In particular was he at pains to refute analogies which were then being drawn between the Roman Empire and the mid-Victorian British Empire. In one respect, however, Carnarvon admitted that they could be compared. Every great empire, he declared, was confronted by ‘similar difficulties of frontier — the same arguments for and against — the same provocations real or supposed — the same questions as to the key of the position — the same temptation of those on the spot to acquire territory’.1 These remarks highlighted an important, though comparatively neglected, aspect of imperial affairs.


Forward Movement Gold Coast Colonial Policy British Control Frontier Zone 
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Copyright information

© W. David McIntyre 1967

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. David McIntyre
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CanterburyNew Zealand

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