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I pass over a Commission, the announcement of which was the occasion of a protest in the Press quite unexampled in our time, and the conduct of the Commission, which elicited from one of the leading organs of the gold' Press 13 the following statement over the signature of its editor. The Government of India 'packed the Commission most carefully, and it appointed a chairman who stopped at nothing.' Still another Committee was required to offset the protests which came in from every portion of the Empire and from every organ of public opinion.14 This Committee, the Fowler Committee, declared of the evidence of its own selected witnesses :

So far as the proposals of the Government of India were intended to secure the confidence of the commercial community they have failed in their effect. These proposals have not been supported before us by the representatives of the commercial and financial interests connected with India, nor, indeed, by any of the independent witnesses whom we have examined.

We now come to the era of the gold standard ; to the continued melting up of 'redundant’ rupees; to famine years memorable for low prices, even for food. By the winter of 1897 the rupee currency had apparently ceased to be redundant, for Mr. Vicary Gibbs declared in the House of Commons that rupee loans had recently been arranged in Bombay on the security of gold bars, at 2 per cent. per month. The next stage, when gold is to rush in and fill the vacuum, is eloquently covered by a dispatch from the Government of India to the President of the Bombay Chamber of Commerce.

The Government of India have never concealed from themselves the inconvenience attending a gold standard which is not accompanied by an effective gold circulation, and they are in full accord with the view that a more general use of gold among the people would simplify the task of directing a managed currency. It will be within the memory of your Committee that a definite attempt to stimulate the circulation of gold was made in 1900-01. The Treasuries, the Post Office, and the Presidency Banks co-operated in special measures for the issue of gold; and it was estimated that, for the time being, about 1 millions sterling were thus put into the hands of the public. But there is no evidence that the popularity of gold was thereby increased; on the contrary, it is clear that the great bulk of these issues promptly came back to the banks and the treasuries, and the experiment had ultimately to be abandoned. To press a circulating medium upon the people is more likely to retard than to promote the demand for it. Popular confidence in an unfamiliar form of currency must be allowed to develop in its own way; and the Government are fully convinced that any official attempt to force its growth will inevitably do more harm than good.

From all this and much more, which had better be passed lightly over, the fostering proposal of the two great republics in 1897 would have saved India. But to-day there presides at the India Office a statesman, not a gramophone, and the writer of these pages ventured to inquire whether, in the event of issues of 'Goscu i potes' by

13 Statist, 15th of July 1899. 14 Vide an important special article on ‘Indian Affairs,' Times, 11th of July 1898.


America and other nations, such an advance in silver would be met by a deluge of melted rupees. In that case the Indian and Chinese exchange is tied down to forty-three pence for all time. If such is to be the policy of India the twilight deepens and the position has become hopeless. The following short reply from Lord Morley is very important:

India Office: Feb. 9th, 1909. Dear Mr. Moreton Frewen,—There is no intention or idea of making any change in the currency system of India ; and as regards & rise in the price of silver to 43d. per ounce, we shall be quite ready to cross that bridge when we come to it. Nothing would, as a matter of fact, suit India better than a rise in silver. If it went to the intrinsic value of the rupee (43d. or over) we should raise the issue price of the R. to one-and-six, and would, of course, retain our currency.-Yours sincerely,

MORLEY OF B. There is, enough, probably, in the above note to have contented France and the United States in 1897, and the negotiations might have succeeded. What they required was to be protected against the melting of India. If the Government of India, and that of Singapore, will raise their issue price and keep their exchange, as would not be difficult, just higher than the bullion point of their currencies, that is a subscription hardly less valuable than open mints. No coins could

. go to the melting-pot, and never again after the terrible lesson of 1897 will the rupee currency be starved on the reasonable annual additions needed. It is, then, just possible that we are at the dawn of a new day. Bimetallism, indeed, has gone, but given a steady advance in silver, Mexico, Japan, and the Malay States, warned by the crisis of last year, might probably revert to silver. China is pledged by the Peking Treaty of the 28th of July 1903 to supersede her currency abominations, unsecured notes, copper cash, debased silver issued by her provincial mints, by an uniform national coinage, to be legal tender in payment of all duties, taxes, and other obligations throughout the Empire by British as well as Chinese subjects.'

The Chinese envoy, Tong Shoa Yi, is now in Europe on this mission. A truly remarkable personage, it would be well if our mandarins approached this one in knowledge of currency conditions. His Excellency writes to me the 12th of February :

In China fluctuations in exchange such as those of last year are, of course, very troublesome for our importing merchants ; still, no doubt last year's fall in silver greatly assists our mills and other manufacturing industries, which might be damaged by the competition of imported foreign goods if the exchange

Thus the fall in exchange is even as an increasing tariff; but, unlike a tariff, our exports are not reduced, but are, so to speak, subsidised.

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Finally, there remains Africa. When on the Victoria Nyanza three years ago I was delighted to find that the Indian rupee is covering a vast region in seven-leagued boots, and is already current from the Abyssinian frontier nearly to Tanganyika. Between 1896 and 1902

the Mombasa branch of the National Bank of India had imported almost ten million rupees. This coin and its subdivisions in annas and pice is not merely building railways, unlocking trades, and stimulating and rewarding industry, but is teaching millions of the sons of Ham the elements of mathematics. Every effort should be made to irrigate the Dark Continent with the rupee. Imported into Africa and settling down in a myriad hiding-places it is gone for ever; it will never return to India to seek conversion at the hands of that Government. At the present time Lord Morley would lose nothing by selling to Lord Crewe, for external use in railway construction, not fifteen rupees for a sovereign, but twenty-seven. Never again may the British Government have such an opportunity to build cheap railways in East and Central Africa. The profit per rupee will pay half the cost of the construction of the roadbed, while the constructed road will introduce for hoarding and absorption an immense further flow of rupees. Were the wages of native labour in the Transvaal gold mines paid with rupees, even at fifteen to the sovereign, it would appear to that labour, already accustomed to receive florins at ten to the sovereign, even as a rise of wages. The rupee in joint use with gold in the Transvaal might greatly reduce the cost of producing gold, and instead of a large proportion of the product of the gold mines being carried away by natives to Portuguese Africa and to the North, to be lost to commerce, the absorption of silver in place of gold might become of great economic importance.

It has been possible in these few pages merely to survey, as through a glass darkly, the extreme outposts of a mighty domain of economic research. Are we of the West to continue to lay well and truly the foundation-stone of success for the competition of Chinese labour employed in China ?

Above all things, a Commission is needed to report on the problem of exchange. Since the Commission of 1888 a whole Niagara of fact and experience has thundered down the cañons of time. Is all that vast volume to be lost in the arid sands of ignorance, or may we yet learn its lesson and profit by its warning, even though here, and there, an official reputation may perish in its rapids ?




In my record of an expedition undertaken during the years 1905–7 I indicated that sledging would be, in my opinion, at once the least costly and the most feasible method of Arctic exploration. An exhaustive discussion of the reasons on which that opinion was based would, in a narrative designed for the general reader, have been impossible on account of the time, thought and references required for such an explanation. I felt, nevertheless, that in any further discussion of the subject it would be incumbent on me to indicate more minutely the reasons on which my plans were based, and to satisfy the public at large, and in particular those whose expert criticism I would welcome, that sledging was not only the most but, as it appeared to me, the only feasible method. These reasons I now set out. There is, indeed, but one alternative to be examined—that of drifting a ship

ARGUMENTS AGAINST A SHIP Let us first consider the drift of a vessel if it takes the ice at any spot off the American continent. We have several facts to guide us : namely, the descriptions of the ice met with in the Beaufort Sea and the history of ice navigation in those waters; the Bryant and Melville experiment with the drift casks ; ? and, finally, a careful study of the atmospheric conditions of that region.

We have a few descriptions of the ice off the American continent; for instance, the ice met by the Investigator on the 19th of August 1850 is described in the following words: 'Ice of stupendous thickness, and in extensive floes some seven or eight miles in extent, were (sic) seen on either hand; the surface of it is not flat, such as we see in the Baffin Strait and the adjacent seas, but rugged with the accumulated snows, frost and thaws of centuries.' 3

Such is the description of the ice met with in the Beaufort Sea, 1 In Search of a Polar Continent, published by Edward Arnold, 1908. ? The Bulletin of the Geographical Society of Philadelphia, January 1906.

3 Ice met with between Point Barrow and Pullen Isle, 19th of August 1850, North West Passage of Sir Robert M'Clure, by Sherard Osborn, p. 83.


which description, in my opinion, is likely to be true. Quite recently, too, photographs have been taken by Captain Mikkelsen which appear to corroborate this by the contrast he notices between this ice off the Alaskan coast and that found in other better-known parts of the Arctic Ocean.4

International meteorological observations undertaken within recent years afford confirmatory evidence of the likelihood of there being older ice on the American side. As far as we know, the average temperature here is considerably below that of other parts of the Arctic Ocean. The statistical records of the Meteorological Office show the following interesting differences. The mean of the temperature for the year from the 1st of August 1882 to the 31st of July 1883 at Vardö, in latitude 70° 22', was 29° Fahr., and at Spitzbergen, in latitude 78° 28', was 20° Fahr. But on the American side at Point Barrow, latitude 71° 23', during the same period the mean was 8.85° Fahr. The difference between Vardö and Point Barrow is 20° Fahr. ; and Spitzbergen, though 490 statute miles further north than Point Barrow, is 11° Fahr. warmer. This would not only tend to prove that the icefields off Point Barrow are subject to a lower temperature and therefore probably more stable, but also preclude the possibility of any warm current from the Pacific or Atlantic influencing the ice off this coast.

It is to be sincerely hoped that if Captain Amundsen's 5 scheme of placing the Fram in the ice of the Beaufort Sea be put into execution, these descriptions may not prove to be all too sober a reality ; for it is obvious that, should ice of the age indicated actually be met with, no ship would have the slightest chance of drifting far in it.

Ships, to be sure, have drifted in ice which would appear capable of crushing any vessel that was ever built, if it were in open water. Thus the Fram in her drift through the Polar Sea was more fortunate far than the Jeannette. Beneath both vessels a lane opened under the keel; in the case of the Jeannette, however, the ice parted along the major axis and let her into open water; whereas, in the case of the Fram, a lane opened at right angles to her stern ;? nor did she

7 ever get into open water, after taking the ice at the end of September 1893, until she got free on the 3rd of June 1896. Had she got into open water in the spring, summer or autumn of 1895, when in the centre of the Polar pack, she might have shared the same fate as the unfortunate Jeannette.

Four ships have passed through Behring Strait on voyages of exploration, their main object being to penetrate into the unknown part of the Polar Sea : namely, the Investigator, the Enterprise, the


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