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are, however, but an unsatisfactory test, unless we at the same time have regard to the relative prices of the principal commodities. The remarkable feature of 1900 was that although the prices of some commodities, such as coal and iron and steel, reached very high points, yet prices as a whole were only 10 per cent. above those for 1899 and 25 per cent. below the average for the years 1867-1877. The very large figures for 1900 were thus not solely due to an increase in prices, but in some departments of trade represented a genuine expansion. During 1901 there was in some departments a falling off, but this decline is to a considerable extent directly traceable to the lower prices which have ruled in many markets. The average fall in the prices of commodities between the end of 1900 and the end of 1901 has been 6-7 per cent., to which materials have contributed a decline of 7 per cent. and food a decline of 5 per cent. The actual decline in the volume of trade, both of imports and exports, was therefore considerably less than the corresponding decline in the prices of commodities. Though it must not be concluded from this that 1901 was really a better trade year than 1900—the statistics are too imperfect for such a rigid deduction - yet they, at least, do not disclose any serious falling off.
The great margin which exists between the values of imports and exports continues to trouble many minds. Many theories are put forward to account for the discrepancy. The most reasonable explanation is that the difference is made up by interest on British capital invested abroad and by the receipts for work done by British ships in carrying the commodities of three-quarters of the whole world. Foreign trade, though of very high importance in the case of a country like the United Kingdom, is not a perfect test of national wealth. It may even become a source of weakness, as has been shown recently in the case of Germany. The Germans, in their zeal to become world-wide traders, have forced their business into channels which have been not only unremunerative, but even a source of loss. The result is serious depression in trade. The United States, on the other hand, has shown a tendency to expand in directions which seriously threaten some of our best markets.
One of the most noticeable features of the year, from a British point of view, has been the great expansion of the trade of the United States. The over-sea trade of the States has hitherto been comparatively small, but the efforts of Americans to extend it have met with a considerable measure of success. Our own trade has been the principal object of attack. In February, 1901, was formed the United States Steel Corporation. This vast trust has a capital of more than 1,000,000,000 dollars, and was due to the organising genius of Mr. J. Pierpont Morgan. The foundation of the new combination was the Carnegie Steel Company, and with it were grouped the Federal Steel Company, the American Steel and
[239 Wire Company, the National Tube Company, the American Bridge Company, and others. A good deal of apprehension was caused in this country by the formation of the trust, but as its operations were hampered for some months by a strike among the steel workers it is impossible to say how far those fears were justified. It seems probable that the competition of the “ Billion Dollar Trust, as it is called, will stimulate British manufacturers, and will do ultimately more good to us than harm. The United States are also endeavouring to extend their scanty carrying trade. A controlling interest in the shipping line of Frederick Leyland & Co. was acquired by Mr. Morgan and his associates in May. Although the vessels remain at present under the British flag Mr. Morgan has acquired them in order to carry his own exports of steel to Europe. Other smaller lines have also been purchased. Shipping firms do not trouble themselves much about these American purchases, since they can always build more ships for themselves, and in the meantime they get high prices for old ones. The American Tobacco Company has made a bid for British trade by purchasing Ogden's (Limited), a cigarette firm, and by equipping factories in this country. The great British manufacturers have retorted by forming the Imperial Tobacco Company, which has a capital of 15,000,0001. sterling, and comprises thirteen of the best-known firms and companies. On the whole, this American competition, though it has caused much uninstructed alarm, is by no means an unmixed evil. The success of the United Kingdom in its foreign trade has bred a feeling of security which might do inuch mischief if it were not now and then rudely disturbed. The competition of Germany was not very serious, but that of America is enough to make British traders really “wake up."
F. HARCOURT KITCHIN.
FOREIGN AND COLONIAL HISTORY.
FRANCE AND ITALY.
Some skirmishes but no battle, peace in the street, popularity returning to the chief of the State, and exceptional stability allowing the Ministry to undertake work which required time, splendid festivities offered to the Tsar, and a naval demonstration successfully carried out without a blow struck-such are, at the first glance, the achievements of the year 1901. These happy symptoms were, it is true, in part offset by the sudden increase of the deficit, the breaking of the religious truce, the anxiety imbibed by capitalists from the threatenings of strikes, and some disillusion as to the Russian alliance which spread to the mass of the people. As a result there was a general impression of vague uneasiness, which the Opposition did their best to maintain in view of the general election of 1902. The year opened with a veritable leap in the dark from the financial point of view. The law regulating drinks had resulted in the suppression of the duties paid on entering a town by the drinks called hygienic: wine, cider, beer. Paris found itself by this fact in presence of a deficit of about 50,000,000 francs; the State shared in the abatement by an almost equally great sacrifice. All the large and middle-sized towns of France found themselves face to face with the same problem, that of substituting new taxes with doubtful returns for a more than time-honoured duty. The wisdom of financial specialists, both municipal and national, was severely exercised to discover taxes to substitute; it could not be hoped that the new charges would be well received by those who would have to pay them, and, in fact, as they were announced they evoked energetic and useless protests. But it was hoped that they would counterbalance the loss, and unfortunately they failed to do so.
The session of the Chambers opened on January 8. M. H. Brisson's Radical and Socialist friends resolved once more to present him as candidate for the Presidency of the
1901.) France. - The Associations Bill Introduced. [241 Chamber, and after a graceful speech from the aged President of the day, M. Rauline, they walked bravely to the urns. M. Paul Deschanel, however, was not seriously threatened; he was elected to the chair for the fourth time by 296 votes to 217. In the Senate, the venerable M. Wallon greeted in noble and elevated words this century, which he had not hoped to see, and expressed his wish for social peace and agreement between the Chambers. M. Fallières was re-elected President of the Senate without opposition.
The legislative work to be dealt with was urgent and difficult; besides the Budget, which was much in arrears, Parliament found itself confronted with many bills which the Government was pledged to carry through. In the first rank appeared the bill on associations. After the committee of the Chamber was formed, the Ministry asked the Deputies to put at the head of the orders of the day the discussion of this measure.
It was only after mature reflection and wide and careful inquiry that the former colleague of Gambetta, the former Minister of the Interior in the great Ministry of 1882, had decided to take up again the old motto: “le Cléricalisme, voilà l'ennemi.” Certainly, from the diplomatic point of view, nothing could have seemed more inopportune than a French edition of the Kulturkampf. France was still engaged in China, where she continued to assert, as the most essential of her prerogatives, her protectorate over all the native Catholics; in Madagascar, in the Turkish Empire, in Africa she appeared as a Catholic Power, and supported vigorously the same Assumptionists, the same Jesuits, to whom the French courts were refusing the right to exist. The Pope, Leo XIII., paraded on all occasions his French sympathies, and affected always to consider France as the eldest daughter of the Church, at the same time recommending the French Catholics to submit without arrière-pensée to the Republican institutions.
The opening of the discussion did not, it is true, shed a bright light on the subject of debate. The Socialist orator, M. Sembat, who interpellated the Government apropos of a letter from the Pope to Cardinal Richard as to the Associations Bill, asked them if they intended to follow the French tradition of firmly resisting the interference of the Vatican in domestic politics. MM. Ribot and de Ramel stated that the Pope's letter was a document which might serve as a warning, but that it was not a threat. M. Waldeck-Rousseau affirmed that he did not recognise in the spiritual power the right to interfere with the acts of the temporal power, and that, while observing the Concordat in the largest spirit of tolerance, he would vigorously preserve all temporal authority in the hands of the State. This traditional language, which seemed like a belated echo of the quarrel over the investitures, did not at all clear up the question, but it nevertheless exercised a moderating influence on the Chamber. The nervous irritability which had seemed to
[1901. prevail at first was calmed, and—a rare phenomenon-the interpellation only lasted for one sitting, at the end of which only some orders of the day expressing confidence in the Government were presented. It was clear to all the world that the personal authority of the President of the Cabinet had increased and strengthened the majority.
The general discussion of the law of associations was very brilliant. Parliamentary eloquence is always much admired, even in circles affecting to have disabused themselves as to its value, and, except in those crises when political passion crushes all other feeling, it is rarely that a true orator does not make himself listened to with deference by his most ardent opponents. Thus, in the debate as to the associations, and particularly the religious congregations, M. Renault-Morlière opened the attack with great force, expounding the doctrine of the old Liberal Republican party. M. Viviani, who followed, declared with his habitual passion that the Socialists thought the project too mild, but that they would vote for it nevertheless while waiting for something better. But the two essential speeches were those which were made at the sitting of January 21 by the Comte de Mun, leader of the Catholic Right, and M. WaldeckRousseau. The Chamber voted that the speech of the President of the Council should be placarded. This vote explained the decision taken by the majority to vote for the bill. M. Ribot, although weakened by a painful illness, made also a great oratorical success in pointing out the legal and political inconveniences of the war against the congregations. Among the speeches in support might be mentioned that of M. Henri Brisson, who endeavoured to show what formidable preparations had been made by the congregations to recover their power. The general discussion was only closed on January 24.
This was on the day after the death of Queen Victoria. M. Waldeck-Rousseau in the Chamber, and M. Delcassé in the Senate, gave official expression to the national participation of France in the mourning of the United Kingdom, and avowed in moving terms the sympathy of the nation and of its Government with the British people and the Royal Family. These declarations were received with the most complete respect.
While the Chamber was discussing, the Senate was acting. It had devoted itself with the legal learning and the financial wisdom which give it an incontestable authority to the examination of the law as to succession duties somewhat hastily voted by the Chamber. This law, which made an integral part of the Budget, was designed to remove a secular injustice in France. It laid down that the duties to be exacted on the passing, through death, of property, either personal or real, should for the future be paid on the net amount received by each rightful claimant; but at the same time it imposed on the net assets a duty whose rate was progressive, not only according to the diminishing degree of relationship, but also according to