If it is obviously no longer satisfactory to write of the middle decades of the last century as though British policy was dominated by an aversion to empire, what did the imperial idea amount to at this time? Unfortunately mid-Victorian thought about empire, colonies, trade, and influence in general, is also surrounded by much controversy. Even in the late 1950s, when the general outline of the Gallagher—Robinson thesis of continuity began to be accepted in many quarters, several writers continued to draw a clear distinction between general attitudes towards empire and the actual policies Great Britain pursued in administering her colonial possessions.1 The myth of mid-Victorian ‘indifference’ took much longer to dissipate.
KeywordsFree Trade Responsible Government British Government Settlement Coloni British Empire
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