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the occupiers of cottages in England, including Mr. Holloway's, were, instead of paying their rent, to commence shooting the agents and owners, and, urged on by paid agitators, created the same state of things here as in Ireland; and supposing also that the Government appointed a cottage commission, and this commission, after enquiring into the question of rent, fixed the rent at about half what it was before, and if this judicial rent (if the cottagers followed the example of Ireland) was found not to satisfy them; suppose someone were to propose compelling the owners to carry out the same scheme with regard to their cottage property, upon the same basis as Mr. Holloway suggests should be done with regard to Irish land, what would Mr. Holloway and other owners have to say about it 2 I fancy they would say it was anything but justice. I am, Gentlemen, Your obedient servant, ARTHUR SMITH.
What Women Write and Read.
To THE EDIToRs of THE “NATIONAL REVIEw.” GENTLEMEN, I have just read a paper in the November number of the
National Review, called “What Women Write and Read,” and am much struck by the exceedingly sweeping accusations brought by the writer against her own sex. I feel it behoves some of us to take up the cudgels on the other side, and endeavour to show that we are, as a whole, not quite so black as Mrs. Layard has painted us.
As to what women read. I am afraid it is true that they read at least five novels, magazines, and short stories to two volumes of travel, history, science, or biography. Mrs. Layard says, “ to two of good sound solid literature,” but as I cannot admit that novels never come under the head of good sound solid literature, I prefer to state the fact in another way.
Be it so; perhaps it is a pity, but we cannot all be wise, and even novel reading is possibly as good, not to say better, than the gossip. and mischievous talk which would in many cases be the alternative in filling up the time of those who, from choice or necessity, have idle hands and empty heads. It might be better that the empty heads should be filled with “sound, solid" information; but if the only things their owners will pay any attention to are the lives and loves of other people, it seems quite as well that they should pick to pieces imaginary rather than real characters. All this, supposing that only trashy novels are read ; of the good ones, it will hardly be denied that their influence is educational and beneficent in a high degree. To quote from the preface of that noble work, John Inglesant— But, you say, it is only a romance. True, it is only human life in the “highways and hedges,” and in the “streets and lanes of the city,” with the ceaseless throbbings of its quivering heart; it is only daily life from the workshop, from the court, from the market, and from the stage; it is only kindliness and neighbourhood, and child-life, and the fresh wind of heaven, and the waste of sea and forest, and the sunbreak on the stainless peaks, and contempt of wrong, and pain, and death, and the passionate yearning for the face of God, and woman's tears, and woman's self-sacrifice and devotion, and woman's love. Yes, it is only a romance. It is only the leaden sky breaking for a moment above the bowed and weary head, revealing the fathomless Infinite through the gloom. It is only a romance. However, in this matter of novel reading, there is room for two widely different opinions; but with regard to novel writing, that is a matter of fact, and I venture to hope that on this subject Mrs. Layard is wrong. I do not pretend to any intimate knowledge of what is in the minds of lady writers when choosing their profession, and will not advance an opinion as to whether they do or do not “forget that they must build their house upon a rock if they expect it to stand”; but I have read many novels, good, bad, and indifferent, and my experience does not bear out the assertion that a large proportion (Mrs. Layard says “not all ”) of the books written by women, are of an unclean and impure tendency, or that men novelists “do not so often offend on this score in their writings.” After reading Mrs. Layard's article, I took up a circulating library catalogue and jotted down all the names of writers with whose books I am acquainted (leaving out American authors and all translations), and divided them into three classes. First, writers of books no one could object to ; second, writers of doubtful books ; third, writers of unmitigatedly bad ones. The result does not seem to tally with Mrs. Layard's experience. I found in my first section twenty authors and nineteen authoresses; in the second, six authors and eight authoresses; and in the third, seven authors and five authoresses; sixty-five names in all, and out of these, thirty-three women, very few of whom seem to deserve to have their work described as “drivelling trash,” “effeminate twaddle,” “poor and meretricious imitations of the worst forms of French realistic literature,” &c. I had the curiosity to go a little farther in my list-making, and try to discover whether the male or female sex are mostly responsible for the quantity, without regard to quality, of novels in circulation. This it was not possible to do very completely, so many names unknown to me having only initials before them. In a catalogue of 825 novels I found 159 written by men and 175 by women, 490 being left to account for. Of these, it is fair to assume that, at least, half were written by men, as they seem to be much more addicted to signing their names with only initials before them.
On the whole, may we not conclude that, of the novels written nowa-days, men are responsible for their full share; and that the same is true of those which have bad and immoral tendencies. Why, therefore, Mrs. Layard should have thought fit to attack her own sex, and stigmatize them as the largest purveyors of a style of literature which we all deplore, I am at a loss to understand.
Trusting, if no one better qualified to speak than I has already come forward to try and prove that “what women read and write” is not so utterly bad as Mrs. Layard deems it, that you will kindly give me space for this letter,
I am, Gentlemen,
Nov. 26th, 1887.
FLORENCE M. RAMSEY.
I append my list of authors, for publication, if you think fit, merely to show that my reading is of a most ordinary description, and may fairly be considered as a type of that of many other ladies.
Author of “John Her
Competition and Free Trade,
To THE EDITORs of THE “NATIONAL REVIEw.” GENTLEMEN, For one who has been disposed by the tendency of modern
thought to hold that principles, provided they be truly based upon scientific generalizations, are the most practical things in the world, and admit of no limitations that are not now, and permanently, noxious, the paper entitled “Competition and Free Trade " in the November number of the National Review, offers a tempting field for comment. The writer of that paper seems to be inspired throughout by the spirit of compromise, which would artificially stem the flow of present evil without regard to those laws of force still so persistently called theoretic by all to whom the generalizations of science are an empty sound in an alien tongue, without meaning in our present needs. Although he occasionally quotes the principles laid down by Mr. Mill, he does so with an indulgent air, as who should say, This is the letter of the law : see now how it fails to apply in the complications of practical economics. Again and again he brings to notice a plan of action diametrically opposed to these principles; and while advocating Free Trade in the abstract, declares its adoption to be inexpedient for England in the present state of things. That he sincerely wishes to be helpful is undoubted; that he fails to be so is as certain. In order to make good this latter statement, I will offer, with your permission, a few criticisms suggested by his treatment of the leading obstacles to Free Trade in this country.
He states clearly at the outset that “a general system of Free Trade would encourage the more efficient employment of the productive forces of the world, and that it is well worth while to make temporary sacrifices to obtain the immense resulting benefits.” So far, good. But he goes on to say that “the question is whether, as in other forms of competition, the weaker party is, in all cases, wise to encourage industrial annihilation at the hands of a stronger rival, dazzled by the prospect of a great cosmopolitan millennium, in which, after all, the chief advantages will be monopolised by the strong.” “We want to know,” he adds finally, “whether any special circumstances make the general principle inapplicable ; and at what points England is, in regard to foreign competition, in the weaker position.” | Free Trade is thus, it will be seen, made synonymous with industrial annihilation for the weak; the question is, moreover, narrowed to one of the expediency of Free Trade for England, who is, by implication, weak at points. The outcome of these preliminaries resolves itself into the question whether England will not suffer industrial annihilation in the measure of her weakness by adopting Free Trade.
To this there is an obvious answer from the politico-economists. It turns upon the right understanding of terms. If the surrender of certain branches of our industry to other nations, more competent by natural or acquired facilities to pursue them, means a measure of industrial annihilation without compensating benefits, then Mr. Cripps' question must be answered in the affirmative. If, on the other hand, the surrender of certain branches of industry means a progress of the productive forces of the world towards the moving equilibrium which it is the interest, as well as the inevitable tendency, of society to produce, then Mr. Cripps must be answered in the negative. And if it can be shown that such surrender may be made productive of benefits in the present, at a temporary sacrifice, then his whole fabric of suggestion must fall to the ground. To do this it will be necessary to examine, by the light of the alternative proposition above implied, a few of Mr. Cripps' suggestions. It may be granted at the outset that the position assumed by those who conceive of protective tariffs as injurious alone to the countries which impose them is false. No juggling can conceal that the loss is to the community at large; directly, to the country imposing the tariff—despite the seeming progress witnessed in America and Germany; indirectly, to those remaining countries whose export trade is thereby partially congested. “It is said that general over-production is impossible,” continues Mr. Cripps. “A kindly nature is supposed to provide an inexhaustible market; and this, it is said, will continue until some far distant date, at which the wants and luxuries of all human beings are amply provided for.” This position he would grant, were it not for the inevitable corollary of Mr. Mill, that “the capital and labour displaced by the closing of a market naturally finds substituted employment.” Here Mr. Cripps exclaims: “What is to be said of a theory which, in its practical aspect, makes the creation and maintenance of markets matters of no importance to the producer ?” Truly, very little could be said for such a theory, were it in question. But it is not ; the statement of the theory is from the mouth of Mr. Cripps. It is the creation and maintenance of artificial markets, which is of no lasting benefit to the producer. More fully put, the creation and maintenance of markets which would not be available for a country under the ultimate conditions of a moving equilibrium of the world's productive forces, cannot permanently benefit the country; and it can benefit it temporarily by the sacrifice alone of those advantages which accrue from the productive forces of a country being exercised upon lines natural and permanent ; that is, upon the lines of least resistance from climate, soil, and characteristic dexterity. Not the least of these advantages is that the constant friction of re-adjustment is thus obviated; and the greatest present advantage is that, by the surrender of certain branches of industry, an