« VorigeDoorgaan »
I confess that again and again as I visit our industrial districts I find it hard to believe that people can be content to live in them. Can we wonder if, when the imagination of the inhabitants of places like Hull, or Glasgow, or Manchester, or Cardiff, or Accrington, is touched by the promise of life in such forms as is pictured by Colonial emigration agencies, there is bred in many a fierce desire for change? Can we marvel at wholesale emigration when we reflect that the sordid life of our mean streets is embittered by unemployment and by a growing class consciousness? It is surely not of much use to demonstrate to a half-employed labourer that he is a proud citizen of a country which possesses in almost unique measure the greatest spring of modern industrial wealth, while experience teaches him that he is a mere ‘hand,' valued at a poor wage when his work is wanted, and to be thrown on the social scrap-heap as soon as he is not wanted. I can well believe that such a man, gazing at an Australian official advertisement, must feel it better to face the unknown than longer to endure the ills that he has.
And how does the manner of use we have made of our natural advantages appear to the educated mind? When our transport system is compared with that of Germany, one wonders how we could ever have been called a nation of shopkeepers. Germany, land-locked in Europe, has, by building up a national transport system based on economic railways and canals, not only obliterated her comparative geographical disadvantage, but placed her manufacturers and traders on a better footing than their British rivals. We have permitted our trade to be injured at every point, whether in the conveyance of imported materials or of native coal, or in the conveyance of foodstuffs, or in the conveyance for home use or export of manufactured articles, by the exactions of private railway companies who, through the indifference and lack of foresight of a long line of Parliaments, have been permitted to pile up a largely fictitious capitalisation of 1,300,000,0001., and who therefore
therefore find an extortionate monopoly profit of about 50,000,0001. & year inadequate to give satisfaction to their shareholders, or to attract fresh capital to the railway business. In the last five years the British railway system, expressed in miles of single track, has grown by only 900 miles, while that of the German national railways has grown by nearly 6000 miles. And now the Germans are proceeding through railway nationalisation to the national production and control of electrical power, which will lead, in the course of not many years, to such a re-creation of German industry and German social life as will make it possible for the German area economically to maintain at a much higher standard of life than at present a vastly increased population. Here laissez faire still rules in these and
many other things, and there seems to be no possibility of inducing the British governing classes to comprehend the nature of the efforts which are needed to maintain Britain in her rank among the nations. Even a national insurance system, proposed thirty years after Germany started hers, is bitterly opposed by the ' educated’ classes, including two hundred Fellows of the Royal Society !
When population is talked of in this country it is usually in connexion with the conception that the point can be largely affected by efforts in connexion with agricultural operations and small holdings. The idea that the United Kingdom can retain its population by what is sometimes called 'home colonisation' is a fundamental error. Even the creation of a hundred thousand new small holdings a year, for as many years as that was possible in a small country, would not seriously affect the problem we are discussing. Agriculture, it cannot too clearly be borne in mind, offers with the progress of science and engineering an ever-decreasing field of employment. Those who disquiet themselves on that score disquiet themselves in vain. Everything possible should be
. done to improve the status of agricultural work ; but little can be done in this connexion which would provide maintenance for the natural increase of the people of the United Kingdom. That problem must be solved mainly through increased manufacturing industry, and fortunately we possess the means with proper organisation of expanding our manufacturing industry far beyond its present dimensions. The problem is one of a fuller economic use of our natural advantages, combined with a livelier regard for the creation of healthy and beautiful urban and suburban dwellingplaces for those occupied in industrial operations. It is largely a delusion that 'new' countries are better than old ones, and we can easily make it more profitable for a man to remain near a great source of industrial power in the United Kingdom than to take up 160 desolate acres on the Western prairie. We have no right to stay a man from going to a land of opportunity or promise when we deny him opportunity here, but it is within our power to give opportunity in Britain as large as may honestly be offered in the greater part of the world.
L. G. CHIOZZA MONEY.
THE PORTUGUESE COLONIES
THE parable of the Ten Talents is more than ever to the fore as a guiding principle in the ethics of modern Christendom. The great nations of the world-and with the exception of Japan all the great nations are Christian in religion--are scrutinising closely the title-deeds of weak or inefficient States both in regard to the right of these States to govern themselves without interference, and still more the claim of such States to exercise sway over undeveloped areas of the earth's surface. The parable of the Ten Talents is, in fact, one of the truest and most vital of pronouncements. It is the voice of Nature herself, and was in force as a principle before man himself came into existence. It is another statement of the Law of Evolution, the survival and endowment of the fittest. The larger-brained, more finelydeveloped lion and tiger took the place of the worn-out, unadaptable sabre-toothed machairodonts, the Taurine ox has replaced the bison, the white man of Caucasian type has exterminated the man of Neanderthal and other and later races of less perfect type. Repeatedly Europe has been regenerated by the Germanic peoples. A Gothic King of Leon, with the help of a Burgundian prince and a number of French adventurers, created the Portuguese nation out of an amalgam of degenerated Romanised Iberians and Goths, and exhausted Moors. Although other principles of Christianity counteract the too-ruthless application of the parable of the Ten Talents and bring about a desire (especially amongst the peoples of composite type known as Anglo-Saxons) to see fair play and to give every man and every nation a chance to do better after a lapse into doing very badly, still, now and again in each century, there is a period in which progressive nationalities take a survey of the world and see where they may extend their influence and commerce at the expense of some weaker and perhaps decaying Power. However we may stop to regret the application of these principles of evolution in regard to individuals, tribes or nations despoiled of their livelihood or possessions by the trend of circumstances, we cannot but admit that this perpetual 'taking stock' of the world's affairs, this impingement of one people on another, this spirit of unceasing rivalry does tend to improve mankind as a whole. It prevents VOL. LXXI-NO. 421
the isolation and stagnation of peoples, and effects more and more the unification of the human species.
Portugal now lies on the surgeon's table of the European Areopagus. She is being examined very minutely-more especially in regard to her outlying members—to see whether she possesses the necessary vitality to survive the present crisis in her affairs as a valid people really fitted to administer colonial possessions. Should the decision of one at least amongst the members of the council of great nations be adverse to the Portuguese appeal for a fresh chance, for another long period of patience during which the westernmost country of Europe may attemptwithout money of her own and with a population not larger than that of London and its suburbs-to administer some 803,000 square miles of territory in Africa and Asia, then, whether the result is pleasing or displeasing to Great Britain and her allies, we shall see some inevitable change occur in the flag flying over Portuguese Africa, Malaysia, and India ; or those regions, though still administered by Portugal, will be placed under radically different conditions in regard to their local self-government, their fiscal freedom from the metropolis, and tariff treatment of foreign commerce.
This being the case, it is highly necessary that the British public should thoroughly understand the position of Portugal in regard to her colonies at the present day, and on that understanding frame, or at any rate consent to the framing of, a logical foreign policy in regard to them.
In the somewhat careless language of the Press, and even of diplomacy, amongst the Portuguese colonies are included islands at no very great distance from Portugal which are really regarded by the Portuguese as integral parts of the mother State. Of such are the Azores Archipelago, at an average distance of a thousand miles due west of the Portuguese coast, a third of the way across the Atlantic towards America. At a little less distance from Portugal to the south-west lies the beautiful island of Madeira, with some adjacent islets of no great importance. Much farther away, within the Tropics and also in the Atlantic Ocean, is the Cape Verde Archipelago, at an average distance of about three hundred miles from the African continent. The Azores have a population of about 257,000, descended from a mixture of Portuguese and Flemish settlers, the Portuguese element predominating, with, however, a slight intermixture of other stocks—Anglo-Saxon, Negroid and Norman French. These beautiful Azores Islands are volcanic, very fertile (for the most part), and produce some of the best oranges in the world. Strategically, of course, they occupy a most important position in regard to any naval war in the Atlantic. Their inhabitants are as much Portuguese as the natives of Portugal herself, are quite content to
remain under the Portuguese flag, and their transference to that of any other Power would excite a world-war which would involve the United States as well as the Western Powers of Europe. Madeira is also emphatically Portuguese in regard to race and language. It is an earthly paradise, with scarcely a drawback, except that its coasts do not offer any one very good harbour. It is not, for example, nearly as capable of furnishing a good coalingstation as are the Canary Islands, farther to the south. If only the island were made independent, fiscally, of the metropolis-that is to say, allowed to have its own budget and its own scale of Customs duties and in return expect no subsidy from the mother country-it would be one of the most prosperous islands in the world, and the chosen resort during the winter months of a very large population of tourists and health-seekers on account of the extraordinary beauty of its scenery, its delicious climate, and its capability of growing almost all tropical products, though it lies ten degrees to the north of the actual Tropic. Its progress in many directions has been arrested for centuries by the fatuous behaviour of the Portuguese metropolitan Government, which has always carried out at Madeira a dog-in-the-manger policy. Sooner than see other European nations benefit by the development of Madeira it has always striven to alienate foreign settlement and foreign commerce as much as possible by its fiscal regulations. Of course, in pursuing this policy the Portuguese have had the excuse that they were a very weak nation, and that if Maderia had home rule and became more intimate with other nations than with Portugal itself, such a valuable possession might pass altogether out of the Portuguese dominions.
With regard to the Cape Verde Archipelago, it is chiefly known to British travellers because it contains the small island of St. Vincent, where there is a British cable-station, and where ships bound for South America frequently call. The town of St. Vincent, indeed, strikes the passing traveller as being more English than Portuguese. Several of the Cape Verde Islands are of fair size, such as St. Antão (Antonio), and are capable of producing a good many things of value to commerce. Others are sterile. Yet on account of the fish that swarm about their shores, and from the fact that the whole archipelago is peopled by an industrious Negroid race,' they are a valuable possession, to say nothing of the strategical position they occupy in the eastern Atlantic. But so far as common fairness is concerned, there would be no more right in detaching this archipelago from the
11 128,000; of whom only 4000 are white. The coloured people of the Cape Verdes (who, of course, are Christians) are civilised, speak nothing but Portuguese or English, and are in increasing request as sober, hard-working employés in West Africa.