Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

again; his child; his hand could press her. Her head was against his head. He held her wrist; feeling the throb of her pulses. The long, the long suspense was all but over. Miradou would be here.

It was getting darker now. It was much, much darker. Was there any colour in the flowers? And Miradou's print gown, that hung on a peg by the window-it was the child's red gown, remember-What was the colour of Miradou's red gown ? Had the curtain any colour?

FREDERICK WEDMORE.

NEW BRITISH MARKETS

I

WESTERN CHINA

The subjects which have most influenced the working-class electors in our manufacturing districts in their choice of a representative have, I have little doubt, been “New Markets and the protection of British interests. Many of them, owing to restricted markets, are threatened with, or suffering from, the dire effects of lack of employment. As Mr. Benjamin Kidd has pointed out in his Social Evolution, the remarkable series of statistical inquiries into the condition of the people in London, recently undertaken by Mr. Charles Booth and his assistants, has brought out the enormous proportion of the population which exists in a state of chronic poverty. The total percentage of the population found 'in poverty,'as the result of these inquiries, is stated to be 30:7 per cent. for all London. Such is the case, not only of London, but of other industrial centres. The late Professor Huxley held, and with ample reason, that the condition of life which the French emphatically call la misère, that in which the prospect of even steady and honest industry is a life of unsuccessful battling with hunger, rounded by a pauper's grave, is the permanent condition of a large proportion of the masses of the people in our civilisation. In his work Social Diseases and Worse Remelies, published in 1891, he says:

Anyone who is acquainted with the state of the population of all great industrial centres, whether in this or other countries, is aware that amidst a large and increasing body of that population la misère reigns supreme. . . . I take it to be a mere plain truth that throughout industrial Europe there is not a single large manufacturing city which is free from a vast mass of people whose condition is exactly tbat described, and from a still greater mass who, living just on the edge of the social swamp, are liable to be precipitated into it by any lack of demand for their produce. And, with every addition to the population, the multitude already sunk into the pit ard the number of the host sliding towards it continually increase.

Great changes have been occurring in the world of late years which require close study and consideration in order to form an intelligent judgment as to their probable and necessary results. The population of Great Britain has trebled itself since the commencement of the century. Fifty years ago two-thirds of the working classes of Great Britain were employed upon agriculture. Now, less than onefourth are so employed, and more than one-half are dependent upon manufacturing and distributing pursuits. The population of this country is increasing by 1,000 souls a day. This increase to our population has to be provided for in other pursuits than agriculture. Not only is this the case, but year after year more land is being thrown out of tillage and more agriculturists, displaced by this cause and by improvements in agricultural machinery, have been driven by necessity into the large centres of population to compete with the industrial and other working classes.

Of late years, owing to inventions and improvements in the process of manufacture and the restriction of our markets by the growth of foreign competition and hostile tariffs, employment in some of our chief industries has ceased to expand or been subject to serious decrease. The statistics brought to the notice of the Royal Commission on gold and silver by the Lancashire delegate showed that, while the population of Lancashire was increasing at the rate of 2per cent. per annum, the operatives employed in the cotton industries during the previous twelve years had increased at the rate of only .44 per cent. The population in Lancashire of late years has therefore been increasing five times as rapidly as the chance of employment in the main industry of this country.

The remedy for this lack of employment—the natural remedy-the remedy proposed by the Royal Commission on Trade Depression -is new markets for our trade, millions of new customers for our manufactures. Outside a few minor suggestions this remedy, which I had been urging for years upon public attention, was the only effective remedy that could be found by the Commissioners.

Years have passed since the Report of the Commission was issued, and absolutely nothing has been done towards the acquirement of such markets. In the meantime the great army of unemployed has been steadily increasing; and it is only now, when we are threatened with the loss of our great but undeveloped markets in the Far East

- the markets to which our manufacturers and merchants are looking for the future extension of their trade—that the leaders of the Unionist Party have awakened to the full importance of the subject and made the retention and development of neutral markets one of the chief items of their electoral programme. Speaking at Manchester on the 10th ult. Mr. Balfour urged that it must be evident to every impartial observer that the future of our manufactures must depend largely upon the amount, character, and size of the markets which we can command, which are not shut out from us by hostile tariffs. After referring to the hostile tariffs raised by our rivals against our goods as the great danger which now menaces the whole manufacturing industry of the country, he pointed out that if some new area of the surface of the world falls into the power of a foreign country, everything is immediately done to discourage and exclude British manufactures, to turn the whole stream of commerce into the hands of the nation who have conquered or otherwise obtained the new colony. He said :

In so far as our colonies and dependencies are under our control, we give the same privileges to the rest of the world as we reserve to our own fellow-subjects. Our policy is a generous policy. I do not believe that on that account it is a foolish policy. On the contrary, wherever in neutral markets fair play is afforded to British goods, there you will find that the great bulk of the commerce falls into British hands. That is a distinct gain to us as a nation. It is, above all, a distinct gain to you as the working people of this country, and I ask you, therefore, as the moral to which I wish to gain your adhesion—I ask you to support the party which, without a single exception, is in favour of the material interests of Great Britain ; which desires, both for the honour of the country and the prosperity of the country, to see English commerce safe, English markets widespread, and a great field for the industry, the ability, and the enterprise of England's sons.

To obtain new markets and the millions of fresh customers that we desire, we must open out the great undeveloped countries of the world by the construction of railways. Without railways, the cost of carriage in a landlocked country so enhances the price of our goods as to render their purchase prohibitive even in regions but a short distance from the seaports. Every increase of railway communication in a country is equivalent for trade purposes to double the similar increase of the coast line, with the additional advantage of a safe port at every railway station. To stay-at-home people it is difficult to realise the condition of affairs in Eastern countries where railways do not exist and all traffic has to be carried on by pack carriage. Where was the trade of England previous to the commencement of the Bridgewater canal in the middle of last century, when our goods had to be conveyed through the country on packsaddles and in cumbersome wagons ? and how greatly is its present extension due to the cheapening of the cost of carriage by the invention of steam transit by land and sea !

For many years I have been spreading the gospel of 'new markets' throughout the country, and have striven my utmost to interest the public in the great and yet undeveloped markets of the East-markets which, if opened out by railways, would give an enormous impetus to our manufacturing industries by multiplying, perhaps tenfold, our customers amongst the cotton-clad inhabitants of Asia. I have endeavoured to impress upon the Government and the mercantile and manufacturing community that Great Britain is in possession of certain advantages which render her the envy of competing nations. She is in possession of India and Burmah, and is thus the neighbour of the landlocked half of the great and populous Empire of China. I have endeavoured to awaken and have awakened an intelligent interest in the subject, and by explorations

and close study of the subject have proved beyond question that a practicable route between these two great empires exists, and that along that route à railway can be constructed at a reasonable cost, which would tend greatly to enhance the commerce of Great Britain and India with India's Eastern neighbours-Siam, the Shan States, and the western half of China. This railway is an absolute necessity for the protection of our North-Eastern Indian frontier, and to circumvent French designs upon our valuable present and prospective markets in the Far East.

The construction of railways gives employment, much-needed employment, to our iron industries, and creates trade. No one has treated this subject with greater ability and clearness than Mr. Gladstone did when laying the first cylinder of the railway bridge over the Dee in 1877, which saved twenty miles in railway distance. He said:

Twenty miles for commodities, some of which are not worth more than four or five shillings a ton at the pit's mouth, twenty miles of communication lost or saved, is a question of a market or no market; it is a question of getting the mineral or not. And what is now proposed means an enormous expansion of supply for those who want the goods, and an enormous extension of demand for this country of North Wales, a stimulus of its labour, new fields for its enterprise, and large profits, as I hope, by the operation of those powerful organisations that are to carry the products of one portion of the country to meet the wants of another.

The effect of railways in a country like India was stated as follows in the Parliamentary Blue Book on Indian Administration during the past thirty years, published in 1889 and presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for India :-

It is hardly necessary tò refer here to the incalculable benefit done by railways which, in time of need, carry food from prosperous districts to famine-stricken provinces; or to the impulse given to production and trade when railways carry to the seaports surplus products that would otherwise have found no market, and might have rotted in granaries; or to the enormous addition to the military strength of the country, when troops and material can be moved to the frontier, or to any scene of disturbance, at the rate of 400 miles instead of 10 miles a day, and at onesixth of the old cost. Railways have now been made, or are being made, on all the main routes in British or native territory; the system of military railways on the north-west frontier is nearly complete; and several lines which do not pay commercially have been constructed for the protection of tracts specially liable to visitation by famine.

But carriage in India is by cart, whereas carriage in Western China and across the landlocked hilly region lying between the plains of Burmah and the River Mekong is by caravan, a far more costly form of conveyance, as can be judged by the report of our Consul at Zimmé in 1892, where he states the actual cost of carriage between Maulmain and Zimmé as 35 rupees per mule load of 150 lb. ; the distance being 300 miles. The cost of carriage by mule-caravan between the two places is therefore 11 rupee per ton per mile, or

« ElőzőTovább »