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efficacious aid materially diminished the suffering ? Has it earned commendation by asserting respect for authority and by restoring confidence and hope in the future ?
These queries will be variously answered, because, as is usual in Southern Italy, politics and personal ambition have entered the ' field of suffering,' and are endeavouring to reap to their advantage. The single-hearted devotion and true Christian charity of the King and Queen of Italy might well have served as examples to all. They have not so served. The period of general election is at hand, and the temptation has been too great to deter men from selfish considerations, from unjust aspersions, from personal recrimination. If at first prompt assistance was not forthcoming (except from British and Russian ships), as it was not, it may be urged that to be unprepared for so unlooked-for and immense a catastrophe is not a matter for wonder. Most of the local authorities had been either killed or wounded; others had fled. Communication of all kinds had been nterrupted. The public service in Sicily is unhappily beset with so many unnecessary restrictions, and responsibility weighs so heavily on the minds of all save a few courageous officials, that sudden emergency is followed by vexatious delays and confusion. These were not wanting at Messina and in Calabria. Had it been otherwise many lives might have been saved.
Socialists (who are noisy, if comparatively few in number, and who have their own objects in view) maintain that the proclamation of martial law in the Messina province, which vetoed the return of fugitives to search for and rescue relatives buried beneath the ruins, was a grave error. It is certainly a question whether that stringent order, given with a just view to protect the property of the citizens from the miscreants who, like jackals, descended upon the city to despoil the dead and dying, was a wise one at a time when private endeavour could have greatly assisted public effort to save the many whose cries for help were heard and had to be disregarded for want of men to dig. What was the loss of treasure compared to the loss of human lives? This is a question which Socialists put cogently and effectively. And it is one which may have its serious political importance in the future.
I have referred to the great importance attaching to family ties in Sicily. Northern countries are scarcely aware of the Southerner's love for his relatives. It is a culte, a sacred possession which we do not fully realise. To offend one member is to offend the whole family. It may be a relic of those days, not very remote, when to stand by one another in troublous times was necessary to existence. Or it may be, as is more probable, the natural love of kith and kin, a recog. nition of blood-relationship. Whatever be the cause, family ties are paramount, and he who ignores them or obstructs the performance of the duties which they demand becomes an object for detestation.
Although United Italy is an accomplished fact, and must be so accepted if its Southern provinces are to advance rapidly in the paths which lead to social well-being, the real union of hearts, the true welding together of the peoples, is yet awaited. If that desirable end has not been reached, the fault is not to be sought only in the South. The unrest and discontent which have always been part of the Sicilian character are still active. And anything which hurts their pride, touches their purse, or injures their cherished ideals, adds to the increasing discontent. Socialists maintain that Sicily, always neglected, will never forget the further neglect of which she has been the victim to-day. It is a threat which, perhaps, will be ignored. But it springs from a dangerous source—a sense of grave personal injury, which may have its further development, no matter whether rightly or wrongly founded. The distrust of Sicilians in Italian institutions is greatly to be deplored. It is fostered by those who desire to overthrow the present Government at all costs. In no way is that distrust shown more than in the openly expressed doubt that the vast sums of money contributed by foreign nations will not go directly to the relief of the sufferers by the earthquake, will not be employed for the sole purpose for which they were sent to Italy. It is, of course, inconceivable that such should be so when the names of those who are acting in Rome as trustees for the open-handed charity of the world are considered. Those names alone should be a guarantee for the faithful performance of a solemn international obligation. It is useless to point out in Sicily that none can desire the money either to be delayed or diverted from reaching the sufferers who are still in the direst want. Unsatisfactory distribution of former funds is referred to; and the delay now attending the arrival of effectual succour in the afflicted districts (except the aid administered by private initiative), notwithstanding the immense sums hoarded in Rome, is pointed to as a valid reason for that distrust.
They complain of the erection of public offices at Messina before habitations are provided for the homeless. Bureaucracy flourishes in face of death and destitution, they say. Unfortunately, bureaucracy does reign supreme in Italy. It is the modern hydra, and no Hercules has yet appeared to sever the many heads from its ubiquitous body. Italy has yet to learn that if public money now spent in paying incompetent clerks to do superfluous writing were applied to developing its resources, the country would benefit greatly. But the same might be said of other countries.
It is pleasant to turn from recriminations to the countless acts of acknowledged kindness and devotion to the afflicted. The cities and towns of Sicily (those of Italy were not behind in the work of charity) opened their doors to their suffering fellow-countrymen with a generosity that was as large-hearted as it was spontaneous. Catania alone received twenty thousand refugees; has housed them, and is still caring for them, though at a cost of great self-sacrifice. All, from the richest to the povrest, vied with one another to clothe, feed and
comfort them. Orphans have been adopted or otherwise provided for. In this work Sicilians have led the way pre-eminently; for it must be remembered that the presence in their midst of so many indigent persons constitutes a serious sociological problem in which the vital interests of the charitable themselves are involved. Employment is by no means plentiful. Trade is bad. Commerce is almost at a standstill. Therefore, the flooding of the labour market at such a moment is attended with serious complications and fears.
Though the daily press has ceased from publishing the harrowing details of the catastrophe, it would be wrong to suppose that the suffering has diminished greatly. It is true that those who were left to die beneath the fallen masonry have mercifully ended their agony. To them
All is ended now, the hope and the fear, and the sorrow;
Nevertheless there are many survivors whose lot is scarcely better. Indeed it may be questioned whether some of these, maimed, homeless, destitute of family, deprived of all their possessions, and with their future a blank, are much better off than those to whom the feathered death had quickly flown' on the fateful night of the disaster. Others there are who are still living in open or scantily covered boats, drawn inland for safety, or in huts of badly joined boards ; some, indeed, are sleeping in the open air notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather, with no change of raiment and with scanty food. Misery is still supreme, though some kind folk endeavour to mitigate the distress.
'Death all eloquent' has reigned, is reigning still in that island of sweet-scented groves and luscious fruits, where many have found repose for mind and body amid flowers and genial sunshine. Yet it has been always a land of joyful resurrection whose return to life has been sung from time immemorial in its poetry and its legends. True to tradition, Messina and its villages, with Reggio and the Calabrian towns beyond the narrow streak of sparkling sea, will rise again. The Sicilian's love for his birthplace will take him back as soon as he may return. The cities will be rebuilt with the courage and determination which are his own. Here, again, the Oriental belief in fate is seen - ' - Che sarà sarà. If another earthquake is to come, come it will, no matter where man may dwell!
But those who were present; those who have suffered when the sullen anger of the deathful earth' wrought' universal horror'; those who have looked' on the dreadful thing' and lived ; can never in brighter days be quite as they were before, nor be entirely free from the remembrance of that sense of littleness before a greater Presence, which was perhaps the first as it is the abiding feeling following in the train of the overwhelming disaster.
ALEXANDER NELSON HOOD.
THE NEW ERA IN ECONOMIC HISTORY
NEARLY a quarter of a century ago, in the pages of this Review, I drew attention to the increasing difficulty of our trade with more than half the world, because of a fall in the gold price of silver unprecedented in the history of that metal. My paper was entitled, 'Is Free Trade Compatible with the Fall in Silver ?’l. It seemed to me the reply must inevitably be negative. Silver falls; it is the currency which eight hundred millions of people exchange for the gold with which they purchase our goods. The Chinaman who used to buy a bill of exchange on London by paying twenty taels has now to give some forty-seven taels for the same gold bill; how, then, shall we keep his custom, pending a process of price and wage adjustment, indefinitely protracted, and which, after a quarter of a century, has not as yet made any real progress at all? In 1885 these entirely novel conditions of exchange had been puzzling our traders for already twelve years, and it seemed abundantly clear that the economic basis of the ‘Manchester School’? was being stealthily undermined ; that free trade, or free exchanges, predicated fixed exchanges, and that while British exports to Asia were being greatly hampered, with each further fall in silver the exports which Asia sold us, for our gold, exchanged for more and more silver. In this way there was being created within Asia, by the fall in silver, mill after mill and factory after factory, which gave employment to yellow labour in industries hitherto controlled by white labour. Thus, as Asia exported more and imported less she drew the balance owing to her in silver, a modity' with us, but with her a money metal. With this metal she established industries and paid wages. A few years later that ardent Free-trader, the late Professor Emile de Laveleye, wrote to me, ‘Failing the restoration of silver the world will revert to Protection. Since then, in every corner of the universe, the symptoms have shown them
· After my proofs were sent in the title was altered (September 1885).
? Report of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, December 1888: 'We are led to the conclusion that the principal cause which has enabled the Bombay spinners to supersede those of Lancashire in exporting yarn to China and Japan is the great fall in Eastern exchange since 1873. . . . It appears that the geographical advantage enjoyed by the Bombay spinner has been lessening whilst his power to compete with Lancashire has been increasing.'
selves of a deep-seated disease, and the worst is still ahead. When I think of what we have seen in the East of the industrial activities called into being by cheaper and cheaper silver, the whole heart faints. Was it necessary that a vast population in Bombay should be taking Manchester's place in selling cottons to China ? Why that mushroom growth of jute mills on the Hugli replacing Dundee's ? Why those boot mills at Cawnpore lampreyed on Northampton ? Why the control of the world's tin industry by Pahang ? The catalogue could be indefinitely extended. This very year marks the first rolling of steel rails at Hankow. If China could, as of old, buy four sovereigns with twenty of her taels instead of, as to-day, with forty-seven, would she not buy her ton of rails in Middlesbrough or Pittsburgh ? Why wake her from her sleep of ages, first to supply her own needs, and a little later with rails from Shansi to invade every market across the Pacific ? Not without reason, then, did the Yokohama Chamber of Commerce send a note of warning to the London Chamber, which concluded with these words :
Every month of delay in monetary reform does not only a temporary but a permanent injury to the trade of all countries having a gold standard, as, though the eventual righting of the silver question may check the further establishment of mills in Japan and China, those already erected will remain keen competitors of the mills and factories of Lancashire and the West, and there will be great difficulty in ever again getting back the trade now being diverted.
Already under the influence of cheap silver a large proportion of the trade east of the Suez Canal is finding for itself new channels, which will gradually be closed to Western competition, and we foresee that further persistence in the present monetary policy of Great Britain may entail an injury to the manu. factures and industries of the West the extent of which is incalculable.
What we have done in emasculating our own productive powers is beyond all words prodigious! For a thousand years the Asiatic has been converting his profits and savings into silver, until his continent has become saturated with it. In amounts inconceivable it represents in two hundred million homes the mechanism whereby they can buy that which we wish to sell; and yet we of the Occident have so legislated that a Hong Kong bill on London which formerly cost twenty dollars, to-day costs forty-eight, and all the while our professors sit dumb! Well did Napoleon say, 'The economists are an accursed breed; there is no nation so powerful but they can destroy it.' The pre-requisite of free exchange is fixed exchange ; in the last eighteen months we have had the greatest catastrophe in Eastern exchange in all human history, and yet not a professor moves in his chair. The entire phenomenon has remained unnoticed. Where are the successors to Francis A. Walker and Jevons, to McCulloch and De Laveleye, to Cairnes and the younger Mill? There have been in all the history of the precious metals just two, and only two, catastrophic breaks in the price of silver : the earthquake of 1893 and that of the
* May 1894.