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The British Empire in 1897


According to historian James Morris, the British Empire "was the largest empire in the history of the world, comprising nearly a quarter of the land mass of the earth, and a quarter of the population ... In fact ... it continued to grow until 1933 when its area was 13.9 million square miles and its population 493 million ... The Roman Empire in its prime comprised perhaps 120 million people in an area of 2.5 million square miles" (Pax Britannica, pp 21, 27, 42).


In 1900, Lord Roseberry, the British Prime Minister declared that:


"Human, and not wholly human, for the most heedless and the most cynical must see the finger of the divine ... reaching with a ripple of a restless tide over tracts, and islands and continents, until our little Britain woke up to find herself the foster-mother of nations and the source of united empires. Do we not hail in this, less the energy and fortune of a race than the supreme direction of the Almightly?"