Slike strani

Like examples could be produced by the score. Greenock no longer supplies Russia with sugar, because Russia has plenty of her own at the same price as it sells at in England. The watchtrade is no more a speciality of Switzerland, and I saw skilled guillocheurs earning a miserable existence by carding wool and the like. India extracts from her ninety collieries two-thirds of her annual consumption of coal. The chemical trade which grew up on the banks of the Clyde and Tyne, owing to the special advantages offered for the import of Spanish pyrites, and the agglomeration of such a variety of industries along the two estuaries, is now in decay. Spain, with the help of English capital, is beginning to utilise her own pyrites for herself; Germany extracted them to the amount of 158,410 tons in 1882, and manufactured no less than 358,150 tons of sulphuric acid, and 115,000 tons of soda, as against 42,500 in 1877— pay, she already complains about over-production, and indeed the prices have fallen from twenty-three marks to fourteen and twelve marks the hundred kilogrammes.

But enough! I have before me so many figures, all telling the same tale, that examples could be multiplied at will. It is time to conclude, and, for every unprejudiced mind, the conclusion is selfevident. Industries of all kinds are decentralised and scattered all over the globe; and everywhere a variety, an integrated variety of trades grows, instead of specialisation. Such are the prominent features of the times we live in. Each nation becomes in its turn a manufacturing nation; and the time is not far off when each nation of Europe, as well as the United States, and even the most backward nations of Asia and America, will themselves manufacture nearly everything they are in need of. Wars and several accidental causes may check for some time the scattering of industries: they will not stop it; it is unavoidable. For each new-comer the first steps only are difficult. But, as soon as any industry has taken firm root, it calls into existence hundreds of other trades; and as soon as the first steps have been made, and the first obstacles have been overcome,

the growth of industries goes on at an accelerated rate. The fact is so well felt, if not understood, that the race for colonies has become the distinctive feature of the last twenty years. Each nation will have her own colonies. But colonies will not help. There is not a second India in the world, and the old conditions will be repeated no more. Nay, some of the British colonies already threaten to become serious competitors with their mother-country; others, like Australia, will not fail to follow the same lines. As to the yet neutral markets, China and Japan will never be serious customers to Europe: they can produce cheaper at home; and when they begin to feel a need for goods of European patterns, they will produce them themselves. Woe to Europe if, the day that the steam-engine invades China, she is still relying on foreign customers! As to the African

half-savages, their misery is no foundation for the well-being of a civilised nation.

Progress is in another direction. It is in producing for home use. The customers for the Lancashire cottons and the Sheffield cutlery, the Lyons silks and the Hungarian flour-mills, are not in India por in Africa. They are amidst the home producers. No use to send floating shops to New Guinea with German or British millinery when there are plenty of would-be customers for British millinery in these very islands, and for German ware in Germany. And, instead of worrying our brains by schemes for getting customers abroad, it would be better to try to answer the following plain questions—Why the British worker, whose industrial capacities are so highly praised in political speeches; why the Scotch crofter and the Irish peasant, whose obstinate labours in creating new productive soil out of peat-bogs are so much spoken of now, are no customers to the Lancashire weavers, the Sheffield cutlers, and the Northumbrian and Welsh pitmen? Why the Lyons weavers, not only do not wear silks, but have no food in their mansardes ? Why the Russian peasants sell their corn, and for four, six, and sometimes eight months every year are compelled to mix bark and auroch-grass to a handful of flour for baking their bread ? Why famines are so common amidst the growers of wheat and rice in India ? Under the present conditions of division into eapitalists and labourers, into property-holders and masses living on uncertain wages, the spreading of industries over new fields is accompanied by the very same horrible facts of pitiless oppression, massacre of children, pauperism, and insecurity of life which we have seen in this country, and which we still see in hundreds of industries. The Russian Fabrics Inspectors' Reports, the Reports of the Plauen Handelskammer, and the Italian inquiries are full of the same revelations as the Reports of the Parliamentary Commissions of 1840 to 1842, or the modern revelations with regard to the 'sweating system'at Whitechapel and Glasgow, and London pauperism. The Capital and Labour problem is thus universalised; but, at the same time, it is also simplified. To return to a state of affairs where corn is grown and manufactured goods are fabricated for the use of those very people who grow and produce them—such will be, no doubt, the problem to be solved during the next coming years of European history. Each region will become its own producer and its own consumer of manufactured goods. But that unavoidably implies that, at the same time, it will be its own producer and consumer of agricultural produce; and that is precisely what I shall discuss next.




No truer saying was ever uttered than that one half the world does not know how the other half lives. And yet I am tinually contradicted by wiseacres of the streets and squares when I meekly but firmly maintain that it is actually possible to live a happy, intelligent, useful, and progressive life in an out-of-the-way country parish—“far from the madding crowd'—and literally (as I happen to know at this moment) three miles from a lemon. Don't tell me!' says one of my agnostic friends who knows everything, as agnostics always do, and who is absolutely certain, as agnostics always are, that they know all about you—don't tell me! You may make the best of it as you do, and you put a good face upon it, which I dare say is all right; but to try and make me believe you like being buried alive is more than you can do. Stuff, man! You might as well try and persuade me you like being snowed up!'

Now it so happened that, a few days after my bouncing and aggressive friend had delivered himself of this delicate little protest against any and every assertion I might venture to make in the conversation which had arisen between us, I was awaked at the usual hour of 7 A.M. by Jemima knocking at the door; and when Mr. Bob had growled his usual growl, and I had declared myself to be awake in a surly monosyllable, Jemima cried aloud, saying, It's awful snow, sir-drifts emendjous!' I drew the curtains open, pulled up the blinds, and lo! there was snow indeed. Not on the trees—that was well, at any rate—but all the air was full of snow. Not coming down from the clouds, but driving across the fields in billows of white dust-piling itself up against every obstacle-pollard stump or gatepost, hedgerow, or wall, or farmstead-rolling, eddying, scudding along before the cruel north-easter, that was lashing the earth with his freezing scourge of bitterness. At about the distance of a pistol-shot from my window the high road runs straight as a ruler between low banks and thin hedges, and we can see it for half a mile or so till some rising ground blocks the view. This morning there was no road !-only a long broad stripe of snow that seemed a trifle higher than the ploughed lands that lay to the northward, and which were almost swept bare by the gale. To the southward there

were huge drifts packed up against every little copse or plantation, and far as the eye could see not a human creature or sheep or head of cattle to lessen the impression of utter desolation.

By the time we got down to breakfast the wind had lulled, and fresh snow was falling. That was, at any rate, an improvement upon the accursed north-easter. But it was plain that there were to be no ante-jantacular or post-prandial pergrinations, as Jeremy Bentham used to phrase it, for us this day. “My dear,' I said, 'I'm afraid we are really snowed up!' Now, what do you suppose was the reply I received from her Royal Highness the Lady Shepherd ? Neither more nor less than this—What a jolly day we will have ! We needn't go out, need we?'

Nathan, the wise youth-agnostic, as he calls himself, which is only Greek for ignoramus—would have sneered at the Lady Shepherd's chuckle, and she--she would have chuckled at his sneer. But as he was not there we only laughed, and somewhat gleefully set ourselves to map out the next fifteen hours with plans of operation that would have required at least fifty hours to execute.

“The only thing that can be said for your pitiful life,' said Nathan to us once, 'is that you have no interruptions. But there is not much in that, where there's nothing to interrupt.' Nathan, the wise youth, is a type of his class. He's so delicate in his little innuendos, so sympathetically candid, so tender to 'the things you call your feelings, you know.' Do these people always wear hob-nailed boots, prepared at any moment for a wrestling match, where kicking is part of the game? "No interruptions!' Oh, Lady Shepherd, think of that! “No interruptions!'

You observe that our day begins at eight. When we came first to Arcady we said we would breakfast at half-past eight. We tried the plan for a month. It was a dead failure. Jemima never kept true to the minutes. We found ourselves slipping into nine o'clock; that meant ruin. It must either be eight o'clock, or the financial bottom of the establishment would inevitably drop out. So eight o'clock it is and shall be.

At eight o'clock, accordingly, on this particular morning we went down as usual to the library-and, I am bound to say, we were just a little depressed, because we had made up our minds that no postman in England could bring us our bag this morning. To our immense surprise and joy, there were the letters and papers lying on the table as if it were Midsummer Day. The man had left the road, tramped along the fields which the howling wind had made passable. There were nine letters. When I see what these country postmen go through, the pluck and endurance they exhibit, the downright suffering (i.e. it would be to you and me) which they take all as a part of the day's work, and how they go on at it, and retire at last, after years of stubborn jog-trotting, to enjoy a pension of ten shillings a week and the repose of acute rheumatism consequent upon sudden cessation from physical exertion, I find myself frequently exclaiming with the poet,

πολλά τα δεινά κ' ουδέν ανθρώπου δεινότερον πέλει.

Now it will be a surprise, perhaps a very great surprise, to some of my genuine town friends, to learn that even a country parsonwho after all is a man and a brother-gets pretty much the same sort of letters that other people do. He gets offers to assign to him shares in gold mines; offers of three dozen and four, positively all that is left, of that transcendental sherry; offers to make him a life governor of the new college for criminals; invitations to be a steward at a public dinner of the Society for Diminishing Felony; above all, he gets some very elegant letters from gentlemen in very high positions in society offering to lend him money. I do verily believe these scoundrels, who invariably write a good hand on crested paper and express themselves in a style which is above all praise, are in league with one of my banker's clerks. How else does it happen that, as sure as ever my account is very low and that I am in mortal terror lest my last cheque should be returned dishonoured, so sure am I to hear from one of these diabolical tempters? There's one scarlet Mephistopheles who must know all about my financial position. How else could he have thought of sending me two of his gilt-edged seductions in a single week just when my banking account was overdrawn? It is absurd to pretend that he keeps a medium.

Moreover, proof sheets come by post even in this wilderness, and they have to be corrected, too ; and real letters that are not begging letters come, some kind and comforting, some stern and uncompromising, some with the oddest inquiries and criticisms. Sometimes, too, anonymous letters come. What a queer state of mind a man must have got himself into before he can sit down to write an anonymous letter! Does any man in his senses ever read an anonymous letter of four pages? If he does, the writer gets no fun out of it. I am inclined to think that the practice of writing anonymous letters is dying out now that the schoolmaster is abroad; and yet, they tell me, insanity is not decreasing. Then, too, there are the newspapers. I could live without butter-I shouldn't like it, but I could submit to it; or without eggs, though I dislike snow pancakes; or without sugar-and there are some solids and some liquids that are insipid without that; but there is one thing I could not do without-I could not do without the Times. We have tried again and again to economise by having a penny paper, but it has always ended in the same way. As entremets they are all delightful, but for a square meal give me the Times. Without it 'the appetite is distracted by the variety of objects, and tantalised by the restlessness of perpetual solicitation,' till, when the day is done, the mind wearies under 'a

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