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fall in the exchanges is paralysing our Eastern merchants, and, by stimulating exports from countries with depreciated currencies, is keeping down the prices of commodities. Business men are living from hand to mouth, and not a few are drawing on their capital, and thus wearing out the machinery of their calling, in the endeavour to keep their connection together until better times come round. And those times must come soon, or it will go hard with many who are now struggling with difficulty to keep their heads above water. Already the distress in the City is very great, and I could tell of many unspeakably sad cases of men who a few years ago were earning comfortable incomes, but who now are sorely put to it to keep the wolf from the door. "If one had only oneself to think of, it would be bearable enough," I have heard more than one father


of a family say. One of the most melancholy things is the number of clerks, many of them married men with families, who are thrown out of work for no fault of their Their employers have either failed, or else have been compelled by pressure of circumstances to reduce their establishments, and fresh situations are very difficult to obtain. In some businesses, the tea and wine trades particularly, the middleman has been elbowed out, owing to the cutting down of profits. Many formerly remunerative occupations have thus entirely disappeared, and those who are engaged in them do not easily find new openings. Owing to the same cause, the position of the small trader is becoming more and more difficult. When the margin of profits is so small, operations must be conducted on an extensive scale to yield any adequate return, and business thus tends

to become concentrated in the hands of large firms and jointstock companies.

Depression in the City of course reflects itself in the diminished earnings of nearly every trade and calling in the outside world. Literature and art in their various branches, the purveyors of all kinds of luxuries, the entire shopkeeping class all these suffer from loss of clientèle. Hard times for agriculture mean hard times for the Church and the Universities, whose interests are bound up with those of the landowners. Even the doctors are calling out that nowadays people cannot afford to be ill. The losses of investors through through the various financial panics of the last four years have been colossal, and their full effects have only lately made themselves felt among the non-business community. Many people, growing tired of holding on to shares and bonds that yield no return, have sold them, and the pressure of money that is seeking safe reinvestment has driven the sounder class of securities up to a prohibitive price. Thus, with diminished capital returning a lower rate of interest, many a British householder finds his income to-day. sadly straitened. In only too many cases families have been left with little more than the bare means of subsistence. It is not surprising to hear, therefore, of the number of men of gentle birth who are to be found in the ranks of the army, driving cabs and omnibuses, and otherwise engaged in occupations unbefitting their social position. Harder still is the lot of those women who suddenly find themselves compelled to go out into the world to earn a living. A friend of mine, who himself is not well off, tells me that he advertised a short time

ago for a 'daily governess. Forty fairly well-qualified candidates for the post answered the advertisement, and of these fifteen were ready to work for such a miserable pittance as one would imagine could hardly keep body and soul together.

"How much longer is this state of things likely to last?" is the thought uppermost in many anxious minds. One may reasonably expect, without being unduly optimistic, that times will improve before long. Prices cannot continue to fall for ever, and the natural law of reaction must surely reassert itself some day. Whether the improvement will last long is another and very different matter. For myself, I more than doubt it for many reasons. Some of the causes of our present troubles are, it may be hoped, temporary, and will disappear. Others, I fear, are permanent, and the sphere of their operation is more likely to expand than to contract. In the first place, the cycles of business prosperity show a steadily diminishing tendency. Formerly economists and merchants looked for alternate decades of inflation and depression, but now and in future we must anticipate more prolonged eras of slack trade and general cheapness, with correspondingly short periods of high prices and business activity. When a demand arises it is more rapidly supplied, owing, I presume, to increased facilities of production and transport, and to the fierce competition that prevails everywhere. The constant tendency of profits to a minimum seems to be one of the few really established economic doctrines. It is certainly being exemplified now in a most unpleasant way, both in trade and in the low rates of interest procurable from sound investments. The claims of labour, and its ever-growing power to enforce

those claims, are also factors in the problem which must not be lost sight of. Then the everpresent over-population ogre keeps showing his ugly face, and threatening us with fresh forms of competition every day. For the upper and middle classes have now a new rival to encounter in the struggle for their daily bread. The children of the working class, whom they have educated to be their competitors in the battle of life, are gradually squeezing them out of many fields of employment which they formerly had to themselves. Meanwhile, so far as this country is concerned, it is almost inconceivable that England can ever occupy quite the same position as in bygone days. Our trade may be greater than ever in volume, but we have undoubtedly lost our commercial supremacy in the sense that we are no longer the sole hucksters, or distributors, or carriers, or manufacturers of the world. It must be remembered, too, that we are drawing to the close of the greatest period of industrial development that mankind has ever seen. The Victorian era has been the golden age of invention and material progress, and a prolonged reaction after a time of such uninterrupted and feverish activity seems almost inevitable. The habitable and profitable areas of the globe are getting rapidly populated. Nearly every country, except China, has been railroaded, and even supposing that some new motive force were to be discovered and used, such as electricity, or vril, or Buddhist akasa, the greater part of the manual labour is accomplished. The rails are laid; the cuttings, the bridges, and the embankments are made. The field of commercial enterprise being thus gradually contracted, I cannot but think that employment is likely to be

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increasingly difficult to obtain, and that, speaking generally, the old days of large profits earned in legitimate trading are not likely to be seen again.

The subject might be discussed indefinitely; but in the short space of a magazine article I can only sketch a few heads and outlines of the argument, leaving my readers to fill in the details for themselves. Enough has been said to show that the man of the moment, whatever his shortcomings may be, has much to contend with. And, on the whole, right manfully, as it seems to me, does he play his part in the battle of life. If, perforce, he stands all day long in the market-place idle, it is because no man hath hired him. Among the multitudes who jostle one another in our great commercial centres all cannot hope to obtain work, for there is not enough to go round. One hears a great deal of talk about the "superfluous woman," but how about the superfluous men? I often apologise to my fellow-men of business for being alive at all! The only excuse I have to offer is that I am not responsible for my existence, and the law forbids me to terminate it! I repeat, then, that the average man of our day is no fainéant. Indeed, if one looks below the luxury, the folly, and the fashion which flaunt on the surface of society, and which seem to monopolise Mrs Grand's gaze, his conduct in the uphill struggle with adversity often strikes me as little short of heroic. Nor has his training, as a rule, been such as fits him to cope with hard times. Unfortunately for a large number of the rising generation, they have been brought up to a standard of living which is quite beyond their means. Our fathers, who lived in the halcyon days of commercial prosperity, have

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given us in our youth of the fruits of their labours. In the matter of education, beyond all things, they have treated us right royally, though it may well be doubted now whether in many cases it was not a cruel kindness on their part. Living is no doubt cheaper, but there is a much higher standard of luxury. In other words, people nowadays—men and women, I would observe - have more wants. As the saying is, they expect to begin where their fathers left off. Small wonder, then, if, at a time when the means of satisfying those wants are harder than ever to obtain, and the outlook is such as I have described, the man of modest means pauses before he puts his head into the matrimonial noose. If he does offer himself as a "candidate for marriage," it is usually late in life, which doubtless accounts for the number of elderly Cupids one sees mating with spinsters of uncertain ages. He is no believer in the gospel of depopulation (though sooner or later that knotty problem will have to be faced), but he refuses to recognise the propagation of paupers as a paramount social duty. The command to "be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth" loses somewhat of its force in an age when most people think that the world is too full already. And uncertainty concerning the future probably acts even more as a deterrent with him than an exiguous balance at the bank. What merchant or trader, for instance, can tell you even approximately how much he will be making a year or two hence, or whether he will be making anything at all? Not a few men shrink from the idea of marrying unless they can see a fair prospect of bringing up their children in the same position in life as they occupy themselves. But what pro

portion of the rising generation can hope to do this? I wonder how many people calculate the expenses of a modern boy's education. I reflect with feelings of the profoundest humiliation that my own, including school and university expenses and legal training, must have cost fully £3000. This is of course excessive, though many of my contemporaries must have had a great deal more spent upon theirs, and schooling is one of the few things that show a tendency to rise in price.

Gradually, no doubt, we shall accommodate ourselves to our new environment, and learn to live in a style more in accordance with our means. Mr Goschen has more than once drawn attention to the increase in the number of people who possess moderate incomes. Unfortunately, the large fortunes in the hands of the minority tend to keep up the standard of luxurious living. There is enormous wealth, but money is exceedingly difficult to make. We have solved the problem of production-only too well, some will say-but that of distribution must be left to our successors to unriddle as best they can. What changes will be wrought thereby in the social order, or in what precise form the latter will emerge from the reorganisation process which is even now going on, it is impossible to foresee. Ours is an age of dissolving views, of spiritual and mental unrest and inquiry. Faith is fading, even where religion and morality hold their own. Authority, like our bank balances, is decidedly on the wane, and the anarchical spirit is by no means confined to the throwers of bombs. One result of all this is that the upper classes are likely to have less and less a monopoly of the good things of life. Beyond doubt

we are living in a transition period, and, like all such periods, it is a cause to many of much anxiety and suffering. Men's hearts are failing them for fear of what the future may have in store for them. And yet, putting monetary questions aside, that same future will probably prove much less terrible when it arrives than many of us now anticipate. One thing, however, seems tolerably certain: mankind in general will have to live less extravagantly. To take one concrete example, our English system of entertaining must be cheapened. The Mammon-god must come down from his high pedestal. We must borrow a leaf from the pages of Carlyle, and remember that the value of the fraction of life can be better added to by lessening the denominator of our desires than by increasing the numerator of our enjoyments. By making our claim of wages a zero we may have the world under our feet. Unfortunately our claim nowadays is rather for a living wage, or, as the London County Council call it, a "moral minimum," which of course varies greatly with the individual. Some people's "moral minimum includes a daily cutlet and pint of Pommery at dinner, and a shilling cigar afterwards. Their motto is "Plain living and high drinking," and if they come short of these necessaries of life they consider themselves ill-used. We have all of us a sort of average which we consider our due, and we naturally make our desires rather than our merits the standard in measuring that average. I often wonder what the sage of Chelsea, if he were alive now, would say to this delightful theory of the living wage and the moral minimum.

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It may seem useless to preach moderate living to an age which is

for ever adding to its wants and heightening its standard of comfort, and when the "THOU (sweet gentleman)" seems to require more pampering than ever. Nevertheless we may be sure that for the frugal-minded the world will not be such a bad place to live in after all. Have we not the authority of the lady novelist for saying that brighter times are in store for us? If the men of the next generation are poorer, they will also, we may hope, be more virtuous, for are not Mrs Grand and her friends going to "spank proper principles into them in the nursery"? Thus purified and redeemed by emancipated woman, the objectionable male will cease to be a stumbling-block in the march of humanity towards perfection. The girls, too, will fulfil the hopes of the lady novelist

by "expanding to their true proportions." Physically, I am inclined to think, these are sufficiently large already. In a moral sense they will lead fuller, freer, and perhaps happier lives. They will be married just as soon-possibly, if the New Woman and the New Hedonist have their way, just as long- -as it suits them. Their minds will be enlarged, and their latent energies and capabilities will, let us trust, find adequate and suitable fields of exercise. Speaking generally, all will be for the best in this best of all possible worlds, and we of to-day, by contemplating the moral and intellectual millennium in store for those who come after us, may find consolation even amid our present sombre surroundings.



BEFORE the great High Altar of his God
Lies Norman John:

And century after century the first gleam
Of dawn has shone

On that still form, and stony brow that wears
A crown thereon.

The Saints and Martyrs pour their life-blood forth,
Then pass away—

Swift as the glories of the sunlit west

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Theirs were the loyal heart, the stainless shield,
The faithful hands:

They sleep beneath the unremembering sea,

Or desert sands;

In nameless graves, on bygone battlefields,

In alien lands.


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