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England, under the loads it has to bear? One test and one alone is applicable, and that is the test of social well-being.

At first sight the population of this country will appear to bear that test remarkably well. The national debt has been decreasing with tolerable steadiness for many years, and for more than a generation we have had no class of the people flung into a state of absolute distress except the cotton workers during the American Civil War. Pauperism we have always with us, but even that social canker has been on the decrease for some considerable time. Whereas in 1871 the " mean number" of paupers in England alone was 1,037,360, it was in 1881, or ten years later, only 790,937. That showed a decrease of 246,423, and does not indicate that the community suffers from the weight of its debts. The figures of the savings bank returns also seem to bear out this conclusion. Between 1871 and 1881, both inclusive, the total in the hands of the various savings banks of the United Kingdom rose from £56,000,000 to £80,000,000. This was an increase of £24,000,000, or about 43 per cent. The wage-earning classes have therefore been able to save money in spite of the extent to which the proceeds of their labour may have been pawned to the wealthy few. Much the same truth is enforced by the general aspect of these classes. During a recent visit to Manchester the writer was much struck by the appearance of comfortableness which the working population of that city, and indeed of Lancashire generally, wore, notwithstanding the loud complaints made about the depressed and unprofitable condition of trade.

All these facts may be admitted and a good deal more, and still even for England there is shade to the picture. Although its national debt has decreased, the charges upon that debt have increased of late years, and, at the present time, amount to fully 18s. per head of the population—a most serious burden. The decrease in the number of paupers, again, has been accompanied by an increase in the cost of their maintenance, which is unaccountable when the cheapness of food is considered, save upon the assumption that the more rigorous refusal of out-door relief now enforced increases the number which the nation has to maintain out and out, while lessening the aggregate pauper roll. In that case the multitude of the hungry may be much larger than it was eleven years ago, although the recognised paupers have diminished. Whatever the reason, in 1871 the paupers of England cost £7 12s. 1d. per head to maintain, and in 1881 the cost was £10 4s. 10d. It therefore cost £215,000 more to maintain the 791,000 paupers of the latter year than it cost to keep the 1,037,360 with which we were burdened ten years before. So too with the savings bank figures. Nearly two-thirds of the increase in the deposits in the eleven years came from interest credited, and granting that the whole of this sum was set off by the investment of

withdrawn deposits elsewhere, the accumulations of the working population did not amount to 20s. per head for the entire period. This does not indicate rampant prosperity.

Considerations of this order might go for less were it not for the fact already alluded to, that England is a tribute and interestreceiving nation. Our position in this respect is unique in the world. Favoured by possessing great colonies, the splendid but now almost exhausted dependency of India, a great kindred nation across the Atlantic, and the control of almost one-half the entire over-sea carrying trade of the world, the wealth we draw each year from other nations can scarcely be computed. Not only have the wealthy classes of this country a large share of the interest paid upon all foreign debts, except those of France, the United States and Prussia; but they hold the bulk of the colonial debts, they have furnished the means to build many thousands of miles of railway in North America, they work mines wherever a temptation of profit is held out, and lend their surplus capital for enterprises of every complexion in all parts of the world. They are the greatest bankers the earth has ever seen, as well as the largest traders; and if all these sources of wealth extraneous to ourselves are taken into account, an estimate that we receive annually, one year with another, £250,000,000 revenue from abroad will not seem exaggerated. In some years it is probably a good deal more, if we may judge by the extent to which the wealthy classes can devote money to new enterprises or to fill the loans of foreign powers when in the mood. But take the average gains of the past ten or dozen years at £250,000,000 per annum, as representing what we draw from other nations for services rendered and money lent. Try to realise what that means on the computation already given. It means that the labour of ten millions of foreign workers is enjoyed by the population of Great Britain, that we absorb, one year with another, the entire sustenance of a labouring popu lation almost equal to the whole number of inhabitants now within the United States of America. For India the facts are more amazing still. In one form or another we draw fully £30,000,000 a year from that unhappy country, and there the average wages of the natives is about £5 per annum-less rather than more in many parts. Our Indian tribute, therefore, represents the entire earnings of upwards of six million heads of families--say of 30,000,000 of people. It means the abstraction of more than one-tenth of the entire sustenance of India every year. This is what the steady influx of wealth from abroad implies for all countries that owe us money in a greater or less degree. Is it not a startling thing, putting out of sight for a moment the pauperism and misery this inflow causes to those who send it, that our population should, after all, be so poor, that one inhabitant of England out of forty should

still be a pauper, absolutely dependent upon his brethren for the means of subsistence, or that the bulk of the people, both in towns and in the rural districts, are always on the confines of want? What would the condition of this population be were any considerable source of foreign tribute to fail us? Can it be a safe or wise thing to put burdens upon the backs of the people on the strength of an indefinite continuance of existing extraneous sources of revenue?

In order to find an answer to questions of this order, let us examine into the position of the inhabitants of London-this huge inchoate metropolis, devoid of corporate life, charged with millions of inhabitants, scarcely one in a thousand of whom knows how his neighbour lives. The expansiveness of London, about which we boast and marvel so much, has been created through its position as the centre towards which the wealth of the nation tends to flow. The landlords of the country spend their rents there, and the great majority of those who draw incomes from abroad, or who have come home with "fortunes," live wholly or partially in the metropolis. Towards it also the bulk of the seventy millions of imperial taxes gravitates and gets dispersed through the medium of the great spending departments. Its citizens make the largest profit of banking and exchange business. The seat of the greatest stock and share market of the world is there, and it is the centre of the largest importing and distributing trade in the kingdom. To wealth thus drawn from a variety of sources it owes its population of 4,000,000 in round figures, and prima facie this population ought to be comfortable and well to do. It does not appear to be so. On the contrary, there is a startling not to say alarming mass of poverty and even of absolute want within the wide circuit of the metropolis. The absolutely pauper population is under 100,000, but not one million out of the entire 4,000,000 inhabitants live comfortably and save money. All over London the seething misery of the crowd arrests the attention of the observer directly the main thoroughfares are left. Side by side, flaunting wealth and abject misery lie, knowing nothing of each other. London is a place of greater social contrast in this respect than any other city in the kingdom. The social forces at work steadily press the multitude downwards, one might say almost in proportion as the wealthy few increase in substance.

There is obvious danger, increasing danger, in this state of glaring antagonism. If some remedy be not found for it we shall have to encounter social conflicts of the bitterest description. No hate is more implacable than the hate of the hungry against those whose wealth appears to have robbed them of their bread. Now, one principal cause of the extent at least of this misery, this social contrast, is, beyond question, debt. But for the manner and extent to which the labour of the London worker is mortgaged, the wealth it holds

would spread farther downwards, and increase the number of those whose lives are not a perpetual grim tussle with the demon of want. London is at the present day more heavily weighted with debt-including in that term the prescriptive privileges and "rights" of corporate trading and civic bodies-than any other English city. Paris alone, among the great cities of the world, gasps beneath a mightier load. Hence the effects of the modern mania for progress by means of pawned industry can be seen in London as well as anywhere else, although the heaviest part of the people's burdens there does not at first sight appear immediately to arise from this class of mortgage.

In London, at any rate, we find the weakest point in the national life, the greatest aggregate of people whose existence depends on the influx of means from foreign countries, who are absolutely without resource beyond the daily or weekly wage, and upon whom the weight of superincumbent, corporate, civic, and national obligations presses with enormous and ever-augmenting force. At this moment the projected borrowings of the Metropolitan Board of Works foreshadow an addition of more than 50s. per head to the load the masses have to bear, and every year its dead weight grows.

At first sight, however, it must be admitted that London seems to be less afflicted in this way than some provincial towns. The actual debts of the City Corporation, the Metropolitan Board of Works, and the vestries together, are rather below £28,000,000. Taking the ordinary though most delusive per head mode of computation, this would show a burden of not more than £7 per head for a population roundly estimated at 4,000,000. The debt of Birmingham, however, exceeds £14 per head; and that of Manchester £16 per head; while that of Leeds is about £12 per head, and that of Glasgow about £9. Assuming the charges to be the same in all instances, London seems to be extremely well placed. This kind of comparison, however, is valueless, not only because it takes no notice of the tremendous cost at which the routine work of governing, educating, lighting, cleaning, and decorating London is maintained, but because the true debt of London is far more burdensome than that of any town I have named except Birmingham, There, I admit, a daring system of finance has temporarily put a tremendous load upon the inhabitants. All these towns, however, possess their own waterworks, and most of them their gas supply as well. Their debts are accordingly productive of revenue in the same sense as the capital of a mill or a railway, which that of London in no sense is. In order to put the Londoner in the same position as the inhabitant of provincial towns, the weight of the debt just mentioned has to be supplemented by the charges of the privileged gas and water companies, who make splendid profits at the expense of the community. Their revenue for the

year 1882, capitalised at 3 per cent., would imply an addition of £75,000,000 to the debt load upon the London people, and raises the total of the mortgage upon their industry to more than £100,000,000, a sum that exceeds £25 per head. And this burden is more onerous for London than the debt of any town that owns these works can be, because the entire gains of the gas and water supply go into the pockets of the few, instead of, as they should do, helping to mitigate the weight of the other charges which the population has to bear. On much of the capital of the London gas companies a dividend of 10 and 11 per cent. is constantly paid, involving high charges to the public; and as for the water companies, two or three of them enjoy incomes which would have been amply sufficient, had they belonged to the citizens as a whole, to have furnished all modern London with a full supply of water at no additional cost to the inhabitants. As matters stand the rates of London, which average about 5s. in the pound, being in some parishes above 6s., in few much below 5s., are augmented by about 4s. in the pound for consumers' gas and water charges. Allowing 2s. to the pound of rental for the net cost of gas privately consumed, which must have been paid had the citizens possessed the works, we obtain an average charge on account of public and private mortgages, and for general civil purposes, equal to 7s. in the pound. That is a moderate estimate, and amounts to about the same figure as the Birmingham rate, but for the Londoner unfortunately it is not all. He has to bear a coal octroi of 1s. per ton, not to speak of the wine duty levied by the corporation, and market tolls and so on. He is consequently the most heavily laden subject, all things considered, within the limits of the kingdom. For a family of six persons I compute the charges involved by debt alone, including all the forms I have named in that term-national, corporate, and civic-at from £6 to £6 10s. per annum. In other words, from one-tenth to one-eighth of the entire earnings of the head of such a family in London is absorbed in the fruitful maintenance of these obligations. When to this we add the cost of maintenance for the poor, the charges for ordinary municipal purposes and other minor compulsory outgoings, it cannot appear surprising that from one-seventh to one-sixth of the average earnings of the London worker are abstracted before he is free to buy food and clothes. That I believe to be a moderate estimate, and it leaves out of sight the military and civil charges of the State. Taking it as it stands, however, I confess that the perpetual marvel to me is how the multitudes that swarm this metropolis live at all. In the human sense of the word the bulk of them do not live. They exist; they fight a perpetual losing battle with want and misery, and multitudes every year perish in the struggle.

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