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阿瑟·詹姆斯·贝尔福 七月四日

2006-07-07 16:59

Arthur James Balfour



  On this anniversary in every part of the worldAmerican citizens meet together and renew,as itwere,their vows of devotion to the great idealswhich have animated them.All the world admires,and all the world sympathizes with the vast workof the great American Republic.All the worldlooks back upon the one hundred forty-one yearswhich have elapsed since the Declaration of Inde-pendence and sees in that one hundred forty-oneyears an expansion in the way of population,in theway of wealth and of power,material and spiritu-al,which is unexampled in that period,and,as faras I know,in the history of the world.

  We of the British race,who do not fall shortof the rest of the world in our admiration in thismighty work,look at it in some respects in a dif- ferent way,and must look at it in a different way,from that of other people.From one point of viewwe have surely a right to look at it with a special satisfaction,a satisfaction born of the fact that,after all,the thirteen colonies were Britishcolonies;that the thirteen colonies,in spite ofsmall controversies,grew up broadly speaking,under the protection of England;that it was ourwars,the English wars with Spain in the sixteenthcentury,with Holland in the seventeent century,and with France in the eighteenth century,whichgave that security from external European attackwhich enabled those thirteen colonies to developinto the nucleus of the great community of whichthey were the origin.

  We British may also surely,without unduevanity,pride ourselves on the fact that the menwho founded the great American Republic,themen whose genius contrived its constitution,theirforefathers who,struggling in the wilderness,gradually developed the basis of all that has hap-pened since,were men speaking the English lan- guage,obeying and believing in English laws,andnourished upon English literature;and althoughwe may say that the originality and power and en-durance were theirs,they were men of our ownrace,born of the same stock,and to that extent asleast we may feel that we have some small and notinsignificant part in the great development whichthe world owes to their genius,courage,and loveof liberty.

  In that sense we may well look with peculiarpride and satisfaction upon this great anniversary.There is,of course,another side to the question.The Fourth of July is the anniversary of the sepa-ration,the final political separation—not,thankGod,the final separation in sentiment,in emo-tion,or in ideal—but the final separation betweenthe thirteen colonies and the Mother Country.Weof the Mother Country cannot look back on thatevent as representing one of our successes.Nodoubt there was something to be said,though per-haps it is not often said,for those on this side ofthe Atlantic who fought for unity,who desired topreserve the unity of the Empire.Unity is a causefor which the American people have sacrificedrivers of blood and infinite treasure.

  I am not going into ancient history,but themistake we made,an almost inevitable mistake atthat particular period of the development of thehistory of the world,was in supposing that unitywas possible so long as one part of the Empirewhich you tried to unite,speaking the same lan- guage,having the same traditions and laws,hav- ing the same love of liberty and the same ideals,would consent to remain a part of the Empire ex-cept on absolutely equal terms.That was a pro- found mistake,a mistake which produced a greatschism and produced all the collateral,though I amglad to think subordinate,evils which followed onthat great schism.

  All I can say in excuse for my forefathers isthat,utterly defective as the colonial policy ofGreat Britain in the middle of the eighteenth centu-ry undoubtedly was,it was far better than thecolonial policy of any other coutry.Imperfectly aswe conceived the kind of relations that might,orcould,bind the colonies to their Mother Country,thoroughly as we misconceived tnem,we miscon-ceived them less than most of our neighbors.

  If I rightly read the sings of the times,a truerperspective and a more charitable perspective isnow recognized and felt by all the heirs of these sadand ancient glories.Heaven knows Ido not grudgethe glories of Washington and his brother soldiers.I do not shed tears over the British defeat whichended in the triumphant establishment of theAmerican Republic.I do not express any regretson that subject.My only regrets are that the mem- ories of it should carry with them the smallesttrace of bitterness on our side.I do not know whythere should be.I think it may properly carrymemories of triumph on your side,but it should bea triumph seen in its true perspective,and by thistrue perspective seen in such a way that it does notinterfere with the continuity of history in the de-velopment of free institutions,and with the con-sciousness of common kinship and common ideals,and the considerations which ought to bind us to-gether,and which have bound us together,andwhich year by year,generation by generation,andcentury by century are going to bind us still closerin the future.











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