Page images

defensive measures the drain of gold to America continued, and it was an open question whether we should get through to Christmas without the declaration of an 8 per cent, minimum from the Bank of England. The strain entailed by these high monetary rates was naturally enormous, and reports which we published at the time from many representative British industries proved how severely it was felt, not merely by stockbrokers and financiers, but by commercial men in every walk of life. Thanks to the long warning that had been given and the admirable way in which the Bank of England met the crisis, actual failures in this country were comparatively few; but in the United States, in Germany, in Holland, and in South America a number of merchants and manufacturers collapsed because they could not borrow money enough to support their credit. Now money is something of a drug, and the difficulty is not to borrow but to lend; profits, indeed, are lower, but the strain has gone, and there is no feeling that the City is living from hand to mouth. But unhappily, though the strain no longer presses on the City it is still felt—and felt far more strongly—by the working classes, who are now in the worst position they have known for some years. In our own country the percentage of trades unionists unemployed was 4.6 per cent. in November, 1907; it is 9.6 per cent. now. ln the Eastern States of America there are, according to friendly estimates, one and a half million men out of work, and in Germany the municipalities have been forced to the desperate remedy of starting relief works, and are spending large sums out of the rates to make a census of the unemployed and support the workmen and their families. Last autumn it was the financiers who were in trouble; this year it is the working men. The one evil is the necessary sequel of the

other, and until we have learnt the art of avoiding panics we shall not master the secret of employment.

In the industrial world the position has been enormously altered since last November. Manufacturers have been relieved from the pressure of dear money and the high prices of commodities, but demand has fallen off proportionately, and in every great manufacturing centre abnormal activity has been succeeded by abnormal slackness. in the first seven months of the year British foreign trade declined by about 10 per cent., and American foreign trade by 17 per cent., while there is a corresponding loss in the figures of all the continental countries. Our index number of prices, which will be brought up-to-date in next week's issue, fell from 2,457 at the end of September, 1907, to 2,168 at the end of August, 1908, and although there has since been a marked recovery it is still impossible to say whether prices have returned permanently to the higher level. Last year the most sensational decline was, of course, in the price of copper, which fell by 40 per cent, in about three months, and touched 60 per ton at the beginning of the crisis. Since that time the quotation, though fluctuating from day to day and week to week, has been, on the whole, more steady, and is almost exactly the same now as it was twelve months ago. In fact, many competent observers believe that commercial interests would have been better served if American speculators and producers—not merely of copper but of iron and steel—had held out less firmly for their high prices, and had allowed the value of metals to fall with the general decline in trade. For some months the managers of the Steel Corporation fought desperately to maintain their quotations, and as long as they fought the consumer, so long did their business decline; whereas now that they have recognized the ele

mentary rules of supply and demand their liusiu.'ss is beginning to revive, and the quarterly reports show unmistakable signs of recovery. The truth is that in times of depression salvation lies in cheap prices of raw material and food, and a combination to render commodities artificially dear is the heaviest incubus that could be placed on industry. Fortunately the price of wheat is about 5s a quarter lower now than it was a year ago, and from the cheapening of this primary commodity, Great Britain, in common with every other country, should derive the greatest benefit. lf only the American harvest had turned out as well as the Wall Street optimists anticipated, the prospect of a general recovery would be a good deal nearer.

The changes with which we have hitherto been dealing—changes in the money market, in employment and in industry—all result naturally and inevitably from a breakdown of credit; given the crisis, they might all have been predicted in more or less of detail But on the Stock Exchange the year's events have been more obscure, and the course of prices more difficult to follow. The accepted theory that cheap money brings business to the stock markets has been partially confirmed, and the position of dealers and brokers is certainly better now than it was last autumn; but the change has not been altogether satisfactory, and the improvement in prices has come at unexpected points. American railways, which have been worse hit by the depression than any other, have risen

The Boonomlit.

very rapidly, and the average price of twelve leading stocks is now 98%, against 77% last November, so that there has been a change of 21% points, or 28 per cent. We have never understood, and we still do not understand, what justification there is for this sudden appreciation. Mining securities have also risen to a much higher level, but here there is a valid reason in the improvement of the industry, and the permanent reduction of working expenses. Consols, meanwhile, which ought to gain most from a 2% per cent. Bank rate, have risen very little, and stand only two points higher than at the end of October twelve months ago. At one time this year they rose as high as 88, but they have sunk back gradually and still show little signs of recovery. The weakness of the gilt-edged market is not easily explained, but in so far as it results from the fear of more issues of lrish Land stock it must continue until the finance of the Act has been satisfactorily arranged. This is a point that a good many of us overlooked when we prophesied a rising gilt-edged market on the strength of cheap money rates. Whether we are yet in sight of the trade recovery is a point on which no one is likely to dogmatize; but it is significant that the most recent trade returns of America, of the United Kingdom, of France, and of Belginm show a simultaneous increase, and we may hope that "the dim signs on the horizon," of which the Prime Minister spoke last week, will prove to be the dawning of a better day.


Hooks And Eyes. SceneHis dressing-room. Time, 745.

He has fust come up to dress for dinner. He has taken off his coat, when there is a knock at the door. He. Halloa!

She (outside). Can I come in He. Yes, certainly. What do you ■want?

She (entering). Charles! You'll be late again; and you know the Lampeters are the soul of punctuality. Now do try to be in time.

He (testily). i'm trying as hard as i can, but I don't think you can help me, you know. i can beat the record right enough if you'll only leave me alone. (Proceeds to unbutton his waistcoat.) Do clear out. Why, you're not ready yourself Your dress isn't done up behind.

She. That's just it. i want you to do it up. Poor Eliza's got a sick headache, and the other maids are so busy and so clumsy I don't like to take up their time. I wish you'd do it for me, there's a dear.

He. Right. i'll do it; but it'll make me late, you know. Let's have a look. (He approaches her, takes the back of her dress in hand, and begins operations.) Hooks? Yes, I see the hooks, but i'm hanged if i can see any eyes. Yes, here's a little Johnnie all ready for his hook. Got him. Three cheers. Where

the No, that's the wrong one.

Here he is. Missed him! Do, for heaven's sake, keep still! How do you expect me to do you up when you're wriggling about like an eel? Now you've got your front to the light. Turn round. (He seizes her violently and whirls her round.)

She. I'm not a top, Charles.

He. i don't care what you are, but I'm going to get this beggar of a hook in or

She (faintly). Oh!

He. Don't yell like that. It only puts me off. Now, then, all together.

Whoo—oo No, he's out again.

Come back, you little Aha, would

you? Plop! he's in. Stop! Stop!! STOP!!! (He stands off and contemplates his handiwork with a look of despair.)

She. What is the matter? You'll have the whole house in here if you shout like that.

He (wildly). They've all got loose again. As soon as ever I put number four in the other three simply romped out with a rush, and—(inspecting)—yes, they've taken number four with them. i must start again. (He does so.) That's one. (He places his thumb firmly on number one, and proceeds.) No, you don't. You'd better come quietly. There.

She (looking over her shoulder into the glass). I knew you'd do it, Charles. You've missed the two top eyes.

He (madly). Do you mean to say I've got to take 'em out again?

She. Yes; look at the top. It laps over. D'you see? Oh, oh, oh! Don't put your knuckles into my backbone. i shall be black and blue, and what will they all think? Take it quietly, quietly, quietly. You'll tear it to strips. Oh!

He (between his clenched teeth). Don't struggle. It's useless. I'm going to do this infernal job if it keeps me here till midnight. One! got him. Cheer up. They're coming along. Heave ho! Hooked, by Jove! Now we shan't be long. Want votes, do you? With dresses like that? Why

She. Well, you've got a vote.

He (still working). What's that got to do with it?

She. Fancy giving a vote to a man who can't get a hook into its own little eye. Charles, i'm ashamed of you.

He. Oh, do be quiet. if you'll only shut up for half a minute—I've torn my linger on something. Get in, won't you, get in. (Screaming.) They're all out again! (He sits down on a chair and mops his face.) it's no use, old girl, i can't do it, and my finger's bleeding, and I've only got five minutes for dressing. You'll have to go down with your dress undone. Tell 'em it's the new style—all the duchesses dine like that now—no self-respecting woman ever dreams of doing up her dress— tell 'em any old story. (He rises painftUly and takes off his waistcoat. There is a little knock at the door.)

She, Come in. [Enter a little girl, aged about 8, in a

pink dressing-goicn.

Little Girl. i thought i heard you call, mummy.


She. Yes, darling, I did. i wanted you badly. Now stand on that footstool and fasten up mother's dress, just to show Dad how it's done. (The little girl does the whole business without a break in about half a minute.) Thank you, darling. (Kisses her.) Now come away back to bed. (To Him). Hurry up, Charles. There's a ring at the door. it's the Lampeters. i'll make an excuse for you. We're going now, unless you'd like Polly to stay and tie your white tie.

He. Oh, do go, and let me dress.
(They go.)

He (alone). Now to bust the record. (He looks at the white shirt laid out for him.) No studs in it. Where are they? And that tie's no good. Must wear it all the same. Now for it. [Left struggling with his dressing, while

the guests assemble downstairs.


The latest volume in the Popular Library of Art, of which E. P. Dutton & Co. are the American publishers, is devoted to that strange and whimsical genins George Cruikshank, and is written by W. H. Chesson. It is a wellproportioned study of the eccentric and imaginative caricaturist, fifty or sixty of whose drawings are reproduced in the accompanying illustrations.

Mr. Augustus Thomas's "The Witching Hour," is a novel made from a play in which thought transmission is one of the chief agents; in which defects, thought to be hereditary and incurable, are removed by suggestion, and a strong-willed, able-bodied man is forced by suggestion to act against his own interest. The story is interesting, although the chivalrie, brave, self-sacrificing gambler is anything but real. Harper & Brothers.

The brief story of Hero and Leander has been extended by Professor Martin Schiitze into a brief spectacular drama in which the Priest of Venus Urania in Lesbos figures as restraining Hero from deserting her duty to marry Leander, and from creating a scandal by lighting his way across the straits. The entire action is included in a few days, and the clearly written dialogue and the arrangement of the scenes would make the presentation of the play perfectly possible. As a reading drama it is somewhat fragmentary, but its ingenuity is undeniable. Henry Holt & Co.

Badpai, otherwise Pilpay, is a sage known to all Southern and Eastern Asia, and for seven or eight centuries known to Europe, and the versions of his fables are countless, but his name is unfamiliar to most American children, and they will fancy that Miss Maude Barrows Dutton's "The Tortoise and the Geese" contains tales by a new writer. Her version is clear and simple and Mr. E. Boyd Smith's illustrations are perfect. Nobody portrays a conceited beast so well as he, and the varieties of strut to be found in this group of pictures should make wellmannered modest little boys and girls of the readers. Houghton, Miffiin Co.

Marion Harland's portrait is the frontispiece of "The Housekeeper's Week" under which title she instructs the fourth generation of her fortunate disciples. In this work she iirst describes and directs the special work of each day; then she tells what should be done every day; and lastly she tells something about all the processes of cleaning and repairing and recuperating omitted in the early chapters. Even the care of the sick, and bathing find a place somewhere in the 450 pages. if anything be omitted a search for topics not mentioned in many other manuals has been invariably successful in this. Bobbs, Merrill Co.

Mr. Joseph B. Ames's "Pete, Cow Puncher" is not the wild creature who shoots up the town, but a young New Yorker who, feeling mentally unfit to fulfil his father's ideal of graduating from Yale, goes to Texas hoping to like "cow-punching." The hard ugliness of some of the work does not dismay him, the charm of the wide spaces and clean air entrances him, and when his father comes in search of him he finds his boy repentant, respectful, but sure that his feet are set in the right path for him. The story is not likely to lead any young reader to Texas, or to rebellion against paternal authority, but it cannot but interest any boy with a taste for knowing many sides of life. Henry Holt & Co.

The melancholy death of "Ouida" sets her last work beyond the pale of just comment on the faults due to her temperament, although all of them appear in "Heliauthus." It is a romance of a non-existent European kingdom, the hero being a prince of the royal house, the heroine the greatgrand-daughter of a patriot, the victim of the reigning sovereign, and its burden is the cruel fate of one held fast in the invisible bonds enmeshing royalty, and the general depravity of royalty itself. The book had been read in proof by the author, and although left unfinished, its ending is evident, and it is as well worth reading as any of her work. The Macmillan Co.

Mrs. Edith Ogden Harrison, author of "The Flaming Sword and other Legends of the Earth and Sky," explicitly requests that "in offering her fancies to the public there shall be no confusion of her imaginative legend with the true Bible story." It is easy for an adult to obey her, but a child is likely to be misled by such straightforward statements as that which she makes in regard to the position of Heaven in the star Alcyone. The Tales are written in tastefully chosen and well-phrased words, and their atmosphere is calm and beautiful. Miss Lucy Fitch Perkins's pictures in black and white are always good, and some of them are excellent in their illusion of star-strewn sky-heights. A. C. McClurg Co.

No one else has quite the knack of Mr. E. V. Lucas in the making of anthologies. There is an indescribable flavor, an impress of originality in his selection and grouping of quotations which gives them fascination. Last year he gave us a delightful anthology of children's poetry, and a whimsical and charming collection of letters under the title "The Gentlest Art." This year his anthology is for women and

« PreviousContinue »