The World: Civis Britannicus Non Sum

IN the bygone days of Empire, the Australian sheep farmer, the Gold Coast witch doctor and the Bengali peasant shared a common bond. All owed allegiance to the British sovereign; all were British subjects by virtue of that allegiance. As Edmund Burke put it, these were ties "which, though light as air, are as strong as links of iron." In a moment of difficulty or danger, a man's British citizenship could easily be his most valuable possession. In 1849, when Don Pacifico, a Jewish merchant of Malta, was refused compensation by the Greek government for injuries he had suffered at the...

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