A Plea for Liberty: An Argument Against Socialism and Socialistic Legislation

Edited by: Mackay, Thomas
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Thomas Mackay, ed.
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New York: D. Appleton and Co.
In print: Liberty Fund, Inc.
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Collected essays, various authors. Includes "From Freedom to Bondage," by Herbert Spencer.

1. [1] See essay on 'The Morals of Trade.'

2. [2] Marvelous are the conclusions men reach when once they desert the simple principle, that each man should be allowed to pursue the objects of life, restrained only by the limits which the similar pursuits of their objects by other men impose. A generation ago we heard loud assertions of 'the right to labour,' that is, the right to have labour provided; and there are still not a few who think the community bound to find work for each person. Compare this with the doctrine current in France at the time when the monarchical power culminated; namely, that 'the right of working is a royal right which the prince can sell and the subjects must buy.' This contrast is startling enough; but a contrast still more startling is being provided for us. We now see a resuscitation of the despotic doctrine, differing only by the substitution of Trades Unions for kings. For now that Trades Unions are becoming universal, and each artisan has to pay prescribed monies to one or another of them, with the alternative of being a nonunionist to whom work is denied by force, it has come to this, that the right to labour is a Trade Union right, which the Trade Union can sell and the individual worker must buy!

I. The Impracticability of Socialism, by Edward Stanley Robertson

3. [3] I will briefly refer to one other instance—I mean the influence of climate upon bodily condition. The human race can exist in almost any climate; but there is no climate in which the average human being can enjoy perfect health. Every region suffers from diseases peculiar to itself, and it may be doubted whether more human suffering is inflicted, e.g. by malarious fever in Africa or by lung disease in our own islands. Volumes have been written on nature's adaptation of means to ends, but I venture to think that volumes remain to be written on the imperfection of that adaptation.

4. [4] Eighth edition, translated by Bernard Bosanquet, M.A. Swan Sonnenschein & Co. 1889. When I quote other authorities I shall specify them, but most quotations will be from Schäffle.

5. [5] Socialism is very commonly called Utopian. But when one compares calm and temperate statements of Socialist projects, such as we find in Schäffle, with the wild rodomontade of the Fabian Society, to say nothing of the still wilder oratory of Hyde Park meetings, it is not so much More's Utopia of which one is reminded, as Swift's Laputa.

6. [6] Schäffle, p. 15.

7. [7] Ibid. p. 12.

8. [8] I am bound to admit that Mr. George says he is not a SociaIist. But on the subject of the proletariat he writes as if he were one.

9. [9] Kegan Paul, Trench & Co. 1886.

10. [10] Schäffle, p. 20.

11. [11] Schäffle, pp. 28 and following. The whole passage will repay perusal, but it is too long to quote in extenso.

12. [12] Ibid. p. 45.

13. [13] Ibid. p. 23.

14. [14] Ibid. p. 30.

15. [15] Ibid. pp. 32,33.

16. [16] Ibid. ch. iii. 39–45 inclusive

17. [17] Ibid. ch. viii. pp. 97–110.

18. [18] Ibid. p. 110–111.

19. [19] Ibid. p. 116.

20. [20] Ibid. p. 5.

21. [21] Schäffle, p. 5

22. [22] Schäffle, p. 43.

23. [23] Ibid. p. 48.

24. [24] Schäffle, p. 5.

25. [25] Ibid. pp. 82, 83.

26. [26] Schäffle, pp. 82, 83.

27. [27] Schäffle, p. 112.

28. [28] Ibid. p. 113.

29. [29] Schäffle, p. 82.

30. [30] Ibid. p. 70.

31. [31] Ibid. p. 86.

32. [32] Fabian Essays, pp. 145, 146.

33. [33] Parliamentary Papers, Lighthouse Illuminants, 27 Jan. 1887.

34. [34] Letter No. 111, page 139 of Report.

35. [35] Letter to Times, 7th April, 1888.

36. [36] Schäffle, p. 53.

37. [37] I am here speaking of civilised communities. I am quite aware that savage women are fit to work in a very short time after child-bearing; but Socialism contemplates a state of civilisation not inferior to what now prevails, with, it may be presumed, a civilised and not a savage physique.

38. [38] Some very striking remarks on the rewards given by society to men of letters will be found in Professor Graham's work, cited above (The Social Problem, ch. v. p 167 et seqq., 'Spiritual Producers and their Work'). Professor Graham is not a Socialist, though his opinions have some bias in that direction. But the interest of the reference lies in this; that Professor Graham emphasises very strongly, though quite unconsciously, the fact that literature is a profession, and is subject in the long run to commercial influences like other professions.

II. The Limits of Liberty, by Wordsworth Donisthorpe

39. [39] Is it not a pity to go to France for a term to denote a political idea so peculiarly English? The correct and idiomatic English for laissez-faire is let-be, 'Let me be; says the boy in the street, protesting against interference. Moreover, it is not only colloquial but classical. 'The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him' (Matt. xxvii. 49). There is a barbarous ring about Let act, which is calculated to reflect on the doctrine conveyed. For the last seventeen years I have always found it convenient to speak of the Let-be School.

40. [40] I may, however, refer to a quaint tract entitled 'Municipal Socialism,' published by the Liberty and Property Defence League. This capital satire on modern local legislation I take up in the name of our forefathers and fling at the heads of those pharisaical reformers of today who never weary of tittering at 'the wisdom of our ancestors.'

41. [41] 'Whereas, notwithstanding all former laws and provisions already made, the inordinate and extreme vice of excessive drinking and drunkenness doth more and more abound, to the great offence of Almighty God and the wasteful destruction of God's good creatures...'

42. [42] See Mr. Spence's contribution to the Symposium on the Land Question, p. 42, 1890 (T. Fisher Unwin).

43. [43] Symposium on the Land Question.

44. [44] Blackstone.

IV. State Socialism in the Antipodes, by Charles Fairfield

45. [45] Returns relating to colonial legislation—Canadian liquor legislation chiefly-have been occasionally presented to Parliament. In 1889 Mr. Bradlaugh obtained one return showing the limitation of hours of labour 'in Canada and the United States'; but as Acts of Congress are often loosely carried out, or allowed to remain dormant, American 'results' are not very instructive. When Sir John Lubbock's Early Closing of Shops Bill was discussed, in 1888, some reference was made to the Victorian Factory Act of 1885. In 1890, when Mr. Goschen's Local Taxation Bill was reviewed, it was not noticed at all that the whole question of 'compensation' to owners and lessees of licensed premises had been fully thrashed out and dealt with in Victoria in 1884, under conditions almost exactly similar to our own. A Glasgow newspaper (Aug. 1890) stated that Mr. Bradlaugh next session might raise the question of obtaining—either through colonial governors, or by small commissions sitting in the colonies-independent evidence as to the scope and results of certain State Socialistic enactments in Australia; and added, rightly enough, that the British public, through 'Consular Reports: knew a good deal more about American, or Portuguese, legislation than about colonial. Of course the official etiquette in such matters is to refer to the Agents General for the Colonies. But although these gentlemen are always most willing to give information, the majority of them have now been absent from their own colonies for years; they may also, while members of Colonial Parliaments, have been zealous partisans—or opponents—of the very legislation on which an unbiased opinion is required.

46. [46] A then member of the opposition in one of the colonial legislatures—himself an acute observer, able thinker, and scathing critic in the Local Assembly of the financial, economical, and moral results of State Socialism—visited London early in 1890. On his return to Australia he assured a newspaper interviewer that he had been careful, in conversation with public men in London, to refrain from mentioning any awkward facts which might tend to alarm investors in the United Kingdom. This reticence is significant. Yet, it is not the business of Australian colonists to warn investors here against lending them that money without which State Socialism—including protected industries, fancy wages, short hours, extravagant educational privileges, and other 'collective' luxuries—would long since have collapsed. Caveat emptor is a principle discreetly inculcated by colonists of all classes.

47. [47] Although there is not, and never has been, any speculation—in the gambler's sense-in colonial securities on the London Stock Exchange, and although no large account in them is ever open 'for the fall' there, an uneasy superstition prevails in the colonies that 'the Stock Exchange bears' are, somehow, habitually interested in depressing those securities. As far as that institution is concerned, colonial bonds are taken up and held in large blocks, by a few very rich 'jobbers; who try to retail them gradually to the investing public. Practically the Stock Exchange must always be a 'bull' of colonial securities.

48. [48] A Colonial Office Return, 81 of 1890, 'Statistics of the Colony of Victoria,' gives (p. 50) the 'net earnings' of the State Railways since 1884 at a fraction over four per cent. The reality of these 'net earnings' is extremely doubtful. The 'Finance Account' on p. 32 will not bear examination. A note on the same page gives the 'statement' (really an official précis of that year's budget) 'distributed to members of the Legislative Assembly in July, 1889,' which showed a credit balance, or surplus, of £1,607,559. These figures, it is cautiously added, were 'not final.' They certainly were not; for by the close of the Parliamentary session, on the 21st November, 1889, it was discovered that the huge surplus—which the hon. the treasurer in August had generously distributed in doles, such as £60,000 a year extra, to railway labourers; £140,000 a year to municipalities; £250,000 bounties on exports, to already 'protected' industries, cottage asylums, wire netting for the State rabbits, public buildings, &c.—had no existence.

The whole story of this bogus surplus had already been told in the Melbourne Press two months before the Colonial Office Return in question (which reproduces it as genuine with the endorsement of the then governor of the colony, Sir Henry Loch), was 'presented to both Houses of Parliament, by command of her Majesty.' In the last hours of the session of 1889, the hon. the treasurer announced that the government balance in the hands of the associated banks had fallen to £142,000, that he had been compelled like all his predecessors to borrow from 'Trust Funds,' but to the extent of £1,230,000, and that he would require to float at once on the London market a loan for £1,600,000 (formally devoted by Parliament to railway construction in 1885) as well as a further loan of £4,000,000 to square his accounts. It was subsequently admitted by ministers that the surpluses of that and previous years had been mainly arrived at by the strange but, it appears, time-honoured bookkeeping expedient of crediting the revenue with all money received during the financial year and 'carrying forward' certain expenditures, or debits, to futurity. A memorandum to the Premier from Mr. Edward Langton (an old Victorian public servant and financier of ability, who is banished from political life because he is a free trader) was published in the principal Melbourne newspaper, Dec. 4, 1889, and showed that, according to the Victorian audit commissioners, for years past, large sums had been expended without the sanction of Parliament, improperly withdrawn from the debit side of the public accounts and carried forward for subsequent adjustment. Since 1885-6 this 'charging forward' amounted to £3,500,000. The audit commissioners, it further appeared, are powerless to interfere with this 'system of bookkeeping.' It transpired at the same time that no separate or distinct Railway departmental account or budget existed; the audit commissioners and the railway department did not even agree as to the real amount of the railway capital account; no railway 'sinking fund,' or reserve, to meet losses, such as compensation to passengers for railway accidents, existed; while expenditure which, by the General Post Office, or by any solvent railway, in this country, would be charged to revenue, was habitually charged to a floating capital account, to be recouped out of future loans. The fiction of 'non-political control' of the Victorian railways is reproduced by Sir Charles Dilke. It is true that (chiefly owing to the efforts of the 'Argus') since 1884, Mr. Speight, a railway authority of great experience from the Midland Company, a born judge of work and possessed of singular energy, ability and tact, has been 'at the head' of the Victorian Railway department. But in matters of high State Socialistic finance the 'Minister of Railways' was, until the attempt to create a new Parliamentary Committee ad hoc in 1890, supreme. Mr. Speight has been constantly attacked and thwarted by the labour party and their political satellites, but now shows some signs of having become a convert to their ideas. Chaotic as is the condition of Victorian 'bookkeeping,' matters are still more confused in New South Wales. From February, 1886, to January, 1887, an Irish gentleman, who in the romantic garb of a disguised troubadour had won the heart of a charming colonial heiress, and thus laid the foundation of political eminence, was premier of the colony. He managed, before stumbling out of office, to associate himself with a deficit of £1,000,000, which has since been stated in the local Parliament, Feb. 1889, to have grown to £4,064,844. The truth is that no one in the colony knows how the matter stands. In South Australia and Queensland the 'system of bookkeeping' and 'the objects on which their debts are spent,' are, as Mr. Herbert Spencer would say, 'unthinkable.' New Zealand, the colony whose credit has stood lowest of recent years, alone has what may perhaps be called a sinking fund, and managed, at least on paper, to reduce her debt by £1,383,432 in 1889–90. Irregularities and bad management in the public accounts of Victoria and New South Wales might no doubt be remedied in time, were it not that the prosperity of the dominant class and their dependents is now inextricably bound up with the continuance and extension of reckless financing. In order to appreciate the State Socialistic 'system of bookkeeping' in Victoria, we ought to imagine Mr. Goschen dimly suspecting a deficit, drawing freely on funds in the hands of the Receiver General of the Court of Chancery in order to pay off incoherent issues of Exchequer bills; and squaring one year's public accounts by council drafts on India—in the following year. Meantime distributing 'surpluses' thus obtained in bribes to various political groups, suggested by the Social Democratic Federation.

49. [49] Pp. i. 185, ii. 264, 265, 267, 268, 269,272, 279, 288, 296, 357.

50. [50] Mr. Mathew Macfie, in a paper read before the Colonial Institute, Dec. 10, 1889, designed to show that the Australian colonies were crippled and restricted by lack of population, and efficient labour, says, 'The operatives in Victoria are organized into a compact phalanx under leaders who have succeeded by dogged persistence in imbuing the colony with the notion that they constitute the party which controls voting power at elections. So widely is this assumption believed that candidates at a Parliamentary Election, to whom salary or political influence is a consideration, defer with real or affected humility to the wishes of the Trades Hall Council in Melbourne. The inevitable outcome of this state of political subjection on the part of the members of the House, and in many cases of the Government also, is the injustice of class legislation.' Sir Charles Dilke, writing perhaps from the point of view of an 'inhabitant' of a quarter of a century ago, describes (ii. 316), the great respect felt for the Trades Councils, and their almost invariable wisdom, moderation, sense of responsibility, and marked spirit of justice.

Mr. Macfie, who spent several years in Victoria, and only returned in 1889, is however a specially valuable witness, because he lived right in the centre of the Protectionist and State Socialist camp, having been editor of a powerful weekly journal, mainly owned by the same gentleman whom Sir Charles Dilke styles (ii. 272) 'the Founder of Australian Protection,' adding that 'he might easily, had chance so willed it, have made in the world the same name that has been made in later days by Mr. Henry George, having put forward in most eloquent and powerful language the same principles at a much earlier date.' In the Antipod Evolution, of course, proceeds á rebours, and the Founder of Protection in question, who might, had chance so willed it, have become the rival of Mr. Henry George, although he still diverts his admirers, whose pennies and patronage are making him a millionaire, with cheap denunciation of capitalism and landlordism, is today the wealthiest landowner in the colony.

51. [51] Mr. William Webster of Aberdeen once described to me, as evidence of the spread of the light in the colonies, an ardent land nationalizer from the Colonial Little Peddlington, South Australia, who owned much land himself. It was, I gathered, mortgaged, beyond its then value to local banks. Now there are two sections of land nationalizers, confiscationists and anti-confiscationists, the former being, of course, mere brigands, the latter honest, but ignorant folk, who imagine that the mystic 'State' can, somehow, invent money wherewith honestly to buy up all the freehold land in the world before nationalizing it. The Little Peddlington landowner, it seems, had joined the anti-confiscationist section, and as his land was quite unsalable and a burthen to him, I was not surprised to hear that he had high hopes from 'the State,' and was very enthusiastic.

52. [52] The Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Act (765) of 1883, Sect. 62 says: 'The days of labour (sic) of any person employed by the Company... shall be eight hours,' but permits overtime, 'for special payment,' to the amount of sixty hours' work per week. 'The Company shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding £5 for every breach of this section.' It has never been necessary to enforce this penalty. The Regulation of Mines Act (783) of 1883, Sec. 5. says: 'No person shall be employed... for more than eight hours in any day, except in case of emergency.' The penalty for a breach of this section by a 'mine owner' is £50 fine; by 'any other person' a fine of £10, recoverable by summary process before two justices. Although I can find no cases of prosecutions under this section, it seems to have been evaded, for an Amending Act ad hoc (883) of 1886 enacts, solely, that: 'no person shall be employed below the ground in any mine for more than eight consecutive hours... from the time he commences to descend the mine until he is relieved of his work.'... The burthen of proving innocence of charges under these sections is thrown upon the mine owner or 'other person.'

53. [53] A familiar argument for an eight hours' statute in Great Britain is that Trade Unions cannot enforce the rule themselves. Legal agencies are sometimes superfluous. In the grim days when landlords were absolute in Ireland the legal machinery for collecting rents was very imperfect, actually far behind that existing in England; the Act of 1860 first gave large powers in that respect to Irish landowners. Aware of this, I once asked a venerable Irish farmer how landlords managed to collect rent in his youth? 'Well, you see,' he said, 'landlords didn't want much lawyer's law in thim times. The mashther's rint-warner just wint round wid' a big cart-whip, and he found no pettyfoggin' impidimints at all.'

54. [54] The bare, or 'face,' duty on the principal imported articles, which really compete with local manufactures, will be found over a course of years to average from 30 to 50 per cent. ad valorem. On some kinds of paper, matches, earthenware porcelain, china and glass and on wearing apparel, it has worked out of recent years at some 75 to 150 per cent. ad valorem. In order to arrive at the total advantage or 'pull' which the Victorian manufacturer enjoys, we may safely treble the nominal or 'face' amount given in the tariff list. Thus, a nominal duty of 25 per cent. ad valorem means that at least 75 per cent. protection is enjoyed by the local manufacturer. Victorian importers must provide two separate capitals, and pay an average of 6 per cent. interest on at least one of them; one is locked up, perhaps for many months, in the Custom House; the other is required partly in Europe to pay for goods and partly to work with in Melbourne. We must add freight, insurance, and heavy port and landing charges, at a port where wharf labourers get 1s. 3d. per hour for seven and a-half hours of work, and difficulty, loss of time and interest involved in executing orders in a market 13,000 miles distant.

55. [55] Recess Studies, Edinb., Edmonstons, 1870.

56. [56] The Victorian Tariff Commission of 1883-4 elicited the curious fact that one lonely human being earned his living by cutting corks in the colony. Thus, for the benefit of this cherished unit, a duty of 4d. per lb. on cut corks had been maintained, which was extremely irksome and injurious to the Colonial wine industry generally.

57. [57] The Victorian Commissioners to the last Calcutta Exhibition were denounced at the succeeding Annual Trade Union Congress in 1884 for having suggested that a market might be found in British India for some Victorian manufactures. They were accused of a design to reduce Victorian wages to the Indian level. Representative Trade Unionists have recently protested against the State Technical Colleges because young Victorians learn to become 'fitters; lathe hands, &c., there, and thus compete with 'Labour.'

58. [58] Victorian Free Traders have come to use arguments really borrowed from American Free Traders, from a country where 'Protection' is merely a patch of a strange colour on a garment woven throughout of 'individualistic' materials; contending, for example, that Protection in no way benefits the material interests and pocket of the Victorian working-man. Mr. E. Jowett, of the newly-formed Democratic Free Trade League, in a public debate with Mr. Hancock of the Trades Hall Council, on June 1l, 1890, took this ground. In the United States Mr. Jowett's contention is a truism, and, if we consider wage-earners as a class, and connote free trade in labour, no doubt it is equally true everywhere. But if we consider merely those Trade Unionists now alive in Victoria, and the circumstances determining 'competition' among them, I think it will be found that the high tariff, by increasing enormously the cost of living, has frightened away transient or casual workers, has deterred others from marrying early or rearing large families, and has thus diminished 'competition' generally. Except among Jews and Roman Catholics, the birth and marriage rates in the colony are ominously low. Married women born there are living under artificial, and in many respects unhealthy social conditions, shirk more and more of recent years the duties and exertions of maternity and rearing children. Already the most lucrative branch of medical practice in the colony depends on this sinister fact. The enervating effect of the climate upon women and young children, cost of house-rent, necessaries of life, servants, and even milk, in Melbourne, explain if they do not excuse 'civic cowardice' of this type.

59. [59] During the last seven years Government expenditure has increased by 41 per cent., while population has increased by 15 per cent. only. Public and corporate debts have increased by £22,000,000, and annual exports of 'produce and manufactures' fallen from twelve to nine millions.

60. [60] Anyone who attempts to estimate the economic effect of the reduced hours and fancy wages enjoyed by Labour in Victoria, is at once confronted by the fact that the whole industrial or manufacturing system there is very much a system pour rire. While economists in Europe dispute the existence of a 'wage fund; one becomes aware in Victoria of three such 'funds,' a fictitious 'wage fund,' an equally fictitious 'capital fund; and finally a 'consumers' fund,' all miraculously supplied by the State and the foreign investor. The 'efficiency of labour' means something definite in the United Kingdom, where labour and capital jointly compete in 'market overt' for the world's custom, where withdrawal of capital or diminished efficiency of labour would at once tell upon the nation's home trade, exports and imports. But in Victoria, where every £1 worth of local manufactures which figures in official returns has cost at least £1 10s. to produce, and is nevertheless ensured a forced consumption in the colony by the protective tariff, close calculations as to the effect of reduced hours of labour, wages, &c., are almost impossible.

The population of Victoria in 1883, when resistance to State Socialism virtually ceased, was 921,743, and the exports of home produce were £13,300,000. In 1887 the population was 1,036,119 (estimated), and the exports (which have since risen and then declined again) £8,502,979. Thus, while population had increased some 27 per cent., exports had decreased nearly 40 per cent. All the while the class (farmers, graziers, &c.) who do produce utilities for export, actually work far more than eight hours per diem. The diminution in the yield of gold appears however to be largely due to the action of 'the amalgamated miner' who has long enforced 'the eight hours,' Indirectly, too, short hours and high wages in Melbourne affect the supply as well as the efficiency of labour and production generally in the colony, workers being tempted to despise the slow process of developing the natural resources of the colony by hard toil.

61. [61] An unfortunate expression of the late Professor Fawcett's to the effect that he 'viewed with alarm the rapid alienation of the public domain in Australasia,' is constantly quoted by the advocates of 'bottling up' the nation's patrimony. The net result is that while the land's departments may not sell freeholds to willing purchasers, the 'nation's patrimony' is a huge breeding ground for rabbits, costing thousands of pounds anually for wire fencing, &c., and, as far as production of utilities is concerned, useless.

62. [62] Mr. Andrew Harper, M. L. A., estimates the loss—after deducting net earnings from interest payable—on the State railways (excluding the Hobson Bay system, the most remunerative of the suburban lines) at £258,000 for 1888–9, and the Melbourne Argus, in July, 1890, estimated this loss, for 1889–90, at £500,000. 'Working expenses' alone, it seems, having risen from 521% per cent. in 1879 to 68 per cent. in 1889–90.

63. [63] I saw nothing in Victoria to justify the opinion expressed by J. S. Mill in his latter years (Fortnightly Review, May, 1869) that 'There is absolutely available for the payment of wages, before an absolute limit is reached, not only the employer's capital but the whole of what can possibly be retrenched from his personal expenditure... there is no law of nature making it inherently impossible for wages to rise to the point of absorbing not only the funds which the capitalist has intended to devote to carrying on his business, but the whole of what he allows for his private expenses beyond the necessaries of life.'

64. [64] A partner in one of the two great Melbourne newspapers mentioned to a friend one day that the Union to which his compositors belonged was about to decree some increase of wages or fresh advantages for its members. The friend replied that he was not surprised to hear it; and further counseled the employer to receive a deputation from the Unionists in question; to grant their demands gracefully; in addition, to present each of them with a gold watch. 'But,' objected the first speaker, 'why the gold watch?' 'Because,' said the other, 'the consistent tyranny and the never-ending exactions of this same Union, which is ever with you, are rapidly making your fortune, by effectually keeping out of the business every man with capitaI enough to think of starting a newspaper in this city. If you go into your composing-room you will see a strange thing; your type-setters, instead of being mostly young men, as in London, New York, or San Francisco, are mostly grey-haired men. Were Melbourne in "the States" the most intelligent and ambitious of your "hands" would long since have got credit and help somewhere and started newspapers for themselves; there would have been at least six Melbourne daily morning papers—four of them making money, and thereby reducing your profits. As it is you have one serious rival, if you have even that. Certainly as long as the Compositors' Union absolutely holds the field here, you will never have another. Meanwhile your type-setters expect to die type-setters, while you and your partners will die millionaires.'

65. [65] During the debates on the present Act the late Mr. J. W. Stephen, Attorney-General in the Francis Ministry, in charge of the Bill, declared that the cost per scholar in average attendance would never exceed 12 per head. It is now close upon i5. The Elementary education vote has grown from £217,704 in 1872–3 to over £600,000 in 1887–8. One official excuse for lavish expenditure is that in rural or remote districts the cost of giving education of a high quality to all children must be far greater than in the towns. All the time the rural population steadily decreases, while the town, i.e. the Melbourne, population is now over 40 per cent. of the total for the colony. In 1861 it was 25.89, in 1871 28.87, and in 1881 32.81. The school attendance has only grown from 184,000 in 1874 to 192,000 in 1887. Apparently interest on some £1,120,000, cost of State school buildings, wear and tear, depreciation, &c., do not figure in the education vote, and seem to be paid out of the imaginary net surplus from the State railways.

66. [66] In 1888 a Board SchooI teacher in Glasgow puzzled me not a little by complaining bitterly of some charge of trifling misbehavior against his pupils (out of school hours), which had appeared in a newspaper for which I was at the moment responsible. He feared, I discovered, that his school might lose the genteel cachet which it enjoyed. Some of the best people in Buchanan Street, he said, sent their children to him. There is, however, historical excuse for this trait among the best people, seeing that the Scottish Board School system is in some way 'sib' to the noble old parochial, burgh, and grammar school system, which for nigh two centuries did so much, in the Scottish Lowlands, to keep alive the true spirit of local self-government, and to develop, brace, and stimulate the best points in the national character.

67. [67] This philanthropic and cultured gentleman, formerly a Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford, and, according to the testimony of Mr. David Gaunson, ex-M.L.A., one of the greatest living authorities on the history of the middle ages, may be regarded as the Prosper Mérimée of the State Socialistic Empire in Victoria. He entered politics as a Free Trader, but was speedily reconciled and received into the Protectionist and State Socialistic fold. In the latter interest he stood unsuccessfully for a constituency in 1877. On the accession of the Protectionist party to power in that year the Ministry declared a Royal Commission on the Education Act to be urgently required, and Professor Pearson (anticipating the Duke in The Gondoliers) became a Royal Commission (limited). He however contented himself with writing a thin but interesting Essay on the education question in the colony, in which, with rare prescience, he condemned the evils of 'payment by results.' His suggestions were entirely ignored by his political patrons, but a fee of £1000 was paid to him for his literary labours upon the thin Essay. Afterwards he was provided with a seat in the Legislative Assembly, a gentleman, whose original avocation was that of a brewer's traveller, having resigned his seat in order to become Librarian to Parliament.

68. [68] The educational policy of 1872 received an impetus from the Franco-German war! The classic fiction, that the German forces owed their victories over the French to superior 'book-learning,' did duty in Australia at the time, and is repeated there to this day.

69. [69] After eleven years' working of the Act it was admitted before the Royal Commission of 1882-4, by officials of the department, that they had never yet been able to compile a trustworthy school census, and the number of children in average attendance was still a matter of guesswork. Professor Pearson, in 1882, described the whole school census system as 'confused and disorderly.'

70. [70] Mr W. H. Archer, the gentlest of men and the most earnest advocate of the Roman Catholic claims in Victoria, in a memoir of his friend, Sir John O'Shanassy (Melb. Rev. xxxi. 243), mildly, but firmly, repudiates the insinuation that he himself was responsible for bringing Sir C. G. Duffy to the colony. It appears that Mr. Archer wrote to the late Frederick Lucas, editor of The Tablet, asking him to come out to Australia to champion the Roman Catholic cause. When the letter reached England Lucas was dead, but it was published in the London press. By the next mail, oddly enough, Mr. C. G. Duffy arrived in Melbourne. Then he was presented with £5000. Afterwards, according to Mr. Archer, Mr. Duffy 'used an unlucky expression as to his being "an Irish rebel to the backbone and spinal marrow;" ' this, it seems, made the English, Scotch, and Welsh colonists angry. They did not then comprehend their Mr. C. G. Duffy, nor foresee that he would continue for many years to draw the only pension accepted by an ex-minister in the colony, quite in a loyal manner.

71. [71] The Report and evidence furnished by the Royal Commission on Education which sat in Victoria from early in 1882 to the middle of 1884, are a mine of information on the working of free, secular, and compulsory State education. I do not suppose that so much could be learnt on this important subject from any other source. It is unpleasant reading for Victorian State Socialists, and after adopting a few trifling recommendations contained in the report they have quietly ignored it. A précis or synopsis of the minute and exhaustive evidence procured by the Commissioners as well as the final 'majority' and 'minority' reports, which are not very lengthy, ought to be available for members of the Imperial Parliament before 'Free Education' is seriously debated in this country. The Commissioners by a majority of one, out of eleven, decided against the Catholic claims on the general grounds that a grant to Roman Catholic schooIs would amount to endowment of one particular form of religion.

72. [72] Mr. Morley, speaking to Mr. Acland's amendment in favour of free education, said: 'Our position I think is this, that when a school is intended for aIl it should be managed by the representatives of the whole community. When on the other hand the school claims to be for the use of a section of the community, as for example the Catholics or the Jews, it may continue to receive public support as long as it is under the management of that sect.'

73. [73] 'The Struggle for National Education,' reprinted from the 'Fortnightly Review,' 1872-73, second edition, p. 97.

74. [74] Ibid. p. 63.

75. [75] Ibid. p. 87.

76. [76] In 1851 the grant for denominational schools was, according to Mr. W. H. Archer, thus divided. Church of England, 48 per cent.; Presbyterians, 22 per cent.; Wesleyans, 6 per cent.; Roman Catholics, 22 per cent. In the following year he says, the latter 'obtained a grant in proportion to their real numerical strength.'

77. [77] Mr. J. F. Hogan, late of Melbourne, writes to me, 'In a few of the Roman Catholic primary schools in Melbourne fees are charged, but in the vast majority throughout the colony expenses are paid by collections and donations... So that practically the system is as "free" as that of the State. The religious orders are now largely employed as teachers, and expenses are thereby reduced to a minimum. Recently new scholarships, new Inspectors and a new curriculum have been introduced.... In country districts a few Protestant children used formerly to attend Roman Catholic schools, retiring during the religious instruction half-hour. But this is becoming rare.'

78. [78] The 45th clause permitted 'shops of any particular class' (not scheduled as exempted), 'on obtaining a license,' to keep open after 7 P.M. '... on a petition certified by the municipal clerk as being signed by a majority of the shopkeepers keeping such shops, within... district.' It also gave municipalities power to fix fines. This power was taken away by an amending Act, ad hoc, 961 of 1887, which imposed fines, for a minimum of 10s. to a maximum of £5.

79. [79] A Shop Assistants' League, patronized by a few political hacks, socialists, and idle apprentices, finding that government did not care to enforce the Act, employed agents provocateurs to 'spot' tradespeople selling goods after 7 P.M. in the outlying suburbs, wherever the municipalities had lacked courage to follow the example of the Melbourne Town Council, and exercise the powers of local option under the 45th clause. On the 2nd of August following, a grocer named John Peregrine, in the suburb of Prahran, was spotted and fined £2 7s. for selling 'small quantities of tea and soap' after 7 P.M. The Argus next day commenting, in a leader, on Peregrine's conviction, said, 'this we believe, is the first instance of a crime of this particular sort having met with retribution in any civilized community. A medal of some inexpensive substance might be struck to commemorate this epoch-making event.' The article wound up by asking, 'Are there any public-spirited people who will subscribe to a fund for the payment of these abominable fines?' In a day or two this appeal was successful, a list of subscribers appeared in the paper, and Peregrine's fine was repaid to him.

80. [80] Chemists, coffee-houses, confectioners, eating-houses, restaurants, greengrocers, tobacconists, booksellers and news agents, were exempted under schedule 3.

81. [81] In June, 1890, the suburban municipality of Hawthorn petitioned the Legislative Assembly to enact a 'really' compulsory Early Closing law. 1200 small shopkeepers had petitioned in favor of the Bill of 1885.

82. [82] I know that it is the private opinion of two of the most experienced members of the late and present Victorian Ministries that the whole of the money (some £1,000,000) already advanced by the State to local Irrigation Trusts, under the vaunted State Irrigation scheme, must be ultimately repudiated by the localities in question.

VI. Investment, by Thomas Mackay

83. [83] Local Administration' by Messrs. Rathbone, Pen and Montague. Imperial Parliament Series, by S. Buxton, M. P.

84. [84] 8th Edition, 1887, p. 120; the preface is dated 1875.

85. [85] Published in the Bristol Times and Mirror, 15 July, 1890.

86. [86] See Foreign Office Report on Trusts, No. 174, p. 72.

87. [87] J. H. Levy, The Outcome of Individualism.

VII. Free Education, by Rev. B. H. Alford

88. [88] Any other scheme which may be proposed laying the expense on the taxpayers rather than the ratepayers may serve to conceal the cost to the public; it will not diminish it.

VIII. The Housing of the Working-Classes and of the Poor, by Arthur Raffalovich

89. [89] Hygiene has, in fact, become an official career. Those who fill the posts given by the State, seek to make themselves indispensable. One of the most distinguished of French doctors wrote to me recently that it will be necessary to make a new '89' against the tyranny of hygiene, and to risk a revolution in order to gain our liberty of eating and drinking, and to limit the busybodydom of Sanitarians in the concerns of our private life.

90. [90] Cte. de Haussonville Socialisme d'État et Socialisme Chrétien, Revue des Deux Mondes du 15 Juin, 1890, p. 859.

91. [91] M. Engels, the fellow-worker of Marx, and the philosopher of revolutionary socialism, has attacked what he calls the 'bourgeois' solution of making the workman the owner of his house. In Germany, according to him, the number of workmen in the small industries who own their houses and a little bit of garden, is very considerable; none of them, however, receive anything but a miserable wage. It is only a trick to enable the infamous capitalist to buy his labour cheaper in proportion to the extra production of the labourer and his family on their own land. As they cannot live by the trade of agriculture alone, they are content with very small wages to make ends meet. This state of things has its influence on the town-workman, and contributes to keep the rate of his wages very low. In time past the ownership of his house was perhaps a benefit to the labourer; to-day it is a cause of bondage for himself and a misfortune for the entire working-class. According to M. Engels, the insanitary condition and dearness of dwellings are the necessary accompaniment of our present social organisation, and will only disappear with it.

92. [92] We are aware of the English laws of 1875 and 1885 giving to the local authorities the power to improve, if necessary to demolish, insanitary areas in cases where the responsibility cannot be equitably fastened on an individual owner. These laws have been applied in London and Birmingham. In London there has been spent in this way some £1,841,176. The original estimates have always been exceeded, sometimes doubled, or even trebled. 33,000 persons can be lodged in the improved districts.

93. [93] A bibliography has been published by MM. Raffalovich and Rouillet, chez Rongier et Cie, Éditeurs. Paris.

94. [94] According to the definition of the law of 1874, Building Societies are established for the collection of funds or capital in order to make advances to their members on real property by way of mortgage. Some also make advances on shares, but this is the exception.

95. [95] In Leeds, a town of 320,000 inhabitants, two societies account together for 11,000 members. In the last twenty years more than 18,000 houses have passed through the hands of the Leeds Permanent Building Society. The average value of a house is £166. In 1886, 9400 were mortgaged, of which 3000 belonged to workmen. In Newcastle, Birmingham, and Bristol, we find the same facts as at Leeds.

96. [96] Sixty societies have spent more than £500,000 in the building of cottages.

97. [97] See Les Questions d' Économie sociale dans une grande vine populaire, par Eugène Rostand.

98. [98] At Mulhouse, the number of houses built on 30 June, 1888, was 1124, against 948 on 30 June, 1887. There have been, therefore, 176 houses built in ten years, costing on an average 3160 marks (3950 francs). The total sum paid by the purchasers is 3,539,495 marks. They remain debtors for 367,681 marks. Turning to the cost price, which is 2,788,220, this shows a profit of 1,118,956 marks to meet taxes, interest, charges of transfer for this period of thirty-five years, say about 50 per cent. In the return for 1877, the sum due was 604,041 marks; it has been reduced to 236,360 marks. The sum paid by workmen in these eleven years has reached 983,663 marks.

In 1877, the house with a story was sold for 3400 marks; houses with a ground-floor only, were sold for 2600 marks. The prices have today risen to 4480 and 2760 marks. The price of the storied house had thus risen 32 per cent. and that of the single storied house only 6 per cent.; and the rise represents the rise in the price of labour, and in the value of the land. This one-storied house has not been built since 1886; workmen prefer the storied-house, and it has been found necessary to enlarge the dimensions. This in part explains the advance in price which is due to the increased value of the ground, the expense of building, and to the improvements added to the original plans.

M. de Lacroix, in a report on the Institutions of Public Utility in La Haute Alsace from 1878 to 1888, asks if this house of 4480 francs, which has now taken the place of that valued at 2760 francs, and which up to this date had been generally built, was not too dear for a working-class family whose income has not increased in the same proportion.

'It appears that it is not so, and the cause is not that which we could have wished. The ground-floor cottage with its kitchen and two little rooms could only with difficulty be made to serve for more than one family. It was not in fact built for this purpose, and it would have been desirable that it should never be diverted from its original use. The laws of hygiene would have been better observed. But the purchasers in their anxiety to discharge their debt sought too often to create a source of revenue by letting a room or even a small tenement; and it is this cause which has given rise to all the irregular gable ends and additions, which the Society cannot prevent, and which gives to the parts of the towns occupied by one-storied dwellings an aspect so odd and unseemly. Once embarked on this road the workman sees that the storied house lends itself better to this trade, and his demand is therefore for that class of house. The Society supplies his demand, and it is thus that the new storied house of 1887 appeared. But what happens? the owner makes three tenements of his house. One on the ground-floor, one on the first floor, and another in the attics. He occupies one himself, generally the ground or first floor, and lets the two others—one at ten or twelve marks per month, the other at four marks; and in this way he gets nearly five per cent. interest on the purchase-money remaining due after his first deposit of 240 marks has been made. But at the price of how much inconvenience? This house, which is intended to shelter one family of five persons, shelters three families of perhaps ten or twelve persons—and all the rules of hygiene are set at defiance. Too often these houses, without the possibility of objection on the part of the Society, and without, in many instances, its knowledge, pass into the hands of speculators who do not inhabit them, and who have no other object in view but to crowd them as much as possible in order to derive a larger revenue from them.

M. de Lacroix adds, sadly, that the great idea dreamt of by the founders of the Permanent City of Mulhouse, has not yet borne all its fruit. 'If on the one hand we have succeeded in awakening in some the instinct of thrift and family life, our success in solving the problem of healthy and cheap dwellings is still very imperfect. It is true that the Society could have succeeded completely in this second part of its task if it had retained ownership and merely let its houses. This is done in the country, and in many foreign centres of industry. But the arrangement is not without its difficulties. How is a society to be financed which never realises? What substitute can be found for the moralizing stimulus of thrift which takes possession of every man who possesses a corner of land or a morsel of stone?'

We have felt obliged to make this less encouraging quotation. It shows how difficult is the task of improving the dwellings of the poor. Things would not go better if the houses were built at a loss by the State or by the municipality. There are in this matter difficulties which are inherent in all human affairs. English societies have had the same experience; at Shaftesbury Park particularly, I understand. There, attempt has been made to repurchase the houses from the owners in order to prevent the abuses described. It is on this account that some well-informed persons recommend building for lease and not for sale.

99. [99] See Les Maisons ouvrières d'Arniens, par Élie Fleury.

100. [100] According to a table prepared by Mr. Gatliffe, during the last forty years up to 1886, 26,643 families, or 146,809 persons have profited from the improved dwelling movement in London.

101. [101] M. Picot delivered an eloquent address on the occasion of the opening of these dwellings, 18 June, 1888. 'It is a social triumph, for it shows to the irresolute the possibility of action. If the "Société philanthropique" earns 4 per cent. on the capital employed, it refutes the wild notions of the Socialists who expect everything from the State, and who demand that the Communes should employ municipal resources, and that the State should use the budget of France for the construction of houses for the proletariat.'

102. [102] I have received from the kindness of M. Cheysson the following note. Let us take for our example the head of a family, aged 35, and a cottage, value 6000 francs. The Society let it with a contract for sale by installments, payable in twenty years with interest at 4 per cent.

Rent 240 francs.
Instalment of purchase-money 201 "

Total yearly payment 441 "

The Society contracts with an Insurance Company a policy stipulating that, if the workman dies before twenty years, the assurance company instead of his heirs, will pay the installments still due. The annual premium for such a policy would be

88.20 francs.
Add to this the rent 441 "

Total 529.20 "

Under these conditions the head of the family does not leave debt behind him if he dies. The house is free on the day of his death, and becomes the property of his heirs. This premium is equal to 1.5 per cent. of the price of the house. If instead of availing himself of this additional security for purchase, the father of the family devoted this sum to the more rapid extinction of his debt, he would be able to complete his purchase in fifteen instead of twenty years. Which is best for him, to complete his purchase, if he lives, in fifteen or twenty years, or free himself from all fear of an interruption by death of the process of purchase?

IX. The Evils of State Trading as Illustrated by the Post Office, by Frederick Millar

103. [103] Essay on 'Over-legislation.'

104. [104] Modern Socialism, pp. 29–30.

105. [105] At the Restoration the proceeds of the Post Office ('a rude and imperfect establishment of posts for the conveyance of letters' set up by Charles I, swept away by the Civil War, and resumed under the Commonwealth), after all expenses had been paid, were settled on the Duke of York.

106. [106] History of England, vol. i. pp. 385–6, 7th edition.

107. [107] Essay on 'Specialised Administration.'

108. [108] Vide Mr. Henniker Heaton's Postal Reform, and his letter in Times, Sept. 11th, 1889.

109. [109] Mr. Henniker Heaton's Postal Reform, p. 14.

110. [110] Vide Postal Guide.

111. [111] Post Office Guide, p. 390.

112. [112] The manner in which the Postmaster-General has utilised his 'information' 'for the public benefit' is worthy of notice. He has caused the Post Office to issue postcards of a similar quality to those hitherto produced and soId at a profit by private firms for 6½d. per dozen at 6d. for ten, and in order to prevent private firms selling at a lower rate than the Post Office he has increased the rate for stamping private postcards from 1s. 6d. to 2s. 6d. per quire, thus imposing a fee of 200 per cent. above the price at which any printer would execute the work! See Mr. Henniker Heaton's Postal Reform, pp. 12, 13.

113. [113] St. James's Gazette, June 27th, 1888.

X. Free Libraries, by M. D. O'Brien

114. [114] When the article on Libraries in the present edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica was written the Leicester rate was ½d. in the £. It is a common argument of the Free Library agitators to tell the ratepayers that the library rate will only be ½d. in the £. This was done at Hastings, where the Acts were recently rejected by a majority of more than three to one.

115. [115] Free Life of 10th Oct., 1890, illustrates the greediness of officialism for power in the following:—

'The Pall-Mall Gazette reported (September 20) that, at the Library Association at Reading, Mr. MacAlister proposed, "that in the opinion of this association the time has come when the essential necessity of public libraries as an extension of the compulsory national education being recognised, the question of establishing libraries be no longer left to a plebiscite, and that the establishment of a suitable library in every district as defined under the Acts be compulsory." He expected that the resolution would be lost, as on other occasions, but he should move it year after year till it was carried. Mr. Tedber said they would be laughed at if they passed such a resolution just now. Mr. MacAlister said he was aware of the objections and the dreadful things that would be said if they passed the resolution, but it seemed to him absurd that libraries should be the only institutions whose establishment depended on a popular vote. It seemed to him a reproach to civilisation and to the latter end of the nineteenth century that such should be the case. If he had moved such a resolution before compulsory education was adopted he could understand that the arguments against it would have been strong indeed; but we compelled people to read, some of whom did not want to, and he considered it a cruel thing to create a want the country was not prepared to supply. He held that to make it compulsory to establish free libraries was the logical outcome of the Education Act. The resolution was negatived by four votes—33 to 29. A few more MacAlisters scattered about the country, and people will begin to see what a weapon taxation is to put into the hands of logical fanatics, starting from a false premise. In some parts of the world there is a law obliging a man who has a vote to record it; perhaps Mr. MacAlister will propose presently that we should be obliged to read the books in his libraries.

'What is interesting to observe in all these matters is that the compulsion-fanatics have given up the idea of the people choosing for themselves what is good for them. That pretence is worn out and thrown on one side, and whatever the busy-bodies think good for body or soul, that is to be established forthwith. How ludicrous this reign of busy-bodydom would be, if it were not for the rather dismal fact that so few people take the trouble to fight the busy-bodies resolutely.'

116. [116] Report of a Conference in Birmingham of the Library Association of the United Kingdom, published in the British and Colonial Stationer, 6th Oct., 1887.

117. [117] This is not mere theory. I have before me a letter from a friend in which he says he has ceased to borrow books from the Sheffield Library because 'if you wanted any popular fiction you had a great difficulty in getting it, and often, if you did get it, the books were in such a dirty condition as to detract from the pleasure of reading them.' On one occasion when the Sheffield Central Library was opened after a holiday, the books having all been called in for inspection, there were about half a dozen people at the door ready to rush in and get the latest popular novels before the rest of the public could secure them. The difficulty of getting any particular novel is so great.

118. [118] A few years ago the authorities had to take strong measures in the interests of students against the novel-reading users of the British Museum. It was found that vast numbers of people used the library only to get at the newly published novels, which in many cases are issued at 31s. 6d. the set of three volumes. And it must be admitted that there is something very arbitrary in taxing the general public for a library, and then preventing them from seeing the only books they care to read.

XI. The State and Electrical Distribution, by F. W. Beauchamp Gordon

119. [119] The Middleman in Electric Lighting.

XII. The True Line of Deliverance, by Auberon Herbert

120. [120] Mr. Howell—always, I think, a fair and just writer—in his interesting book (The Conflicts of Capital and Labour, p. 274) states that about 10 per cent. of Trade Unionists have served their apprenticeship.

121. [121] Mr. Howell states that many existing restrictions about apprentices are not enforced. Though partially enforced in some large trades, they are generally confined to smaller trades, and in these cases favoured by the masters (who can be just as restrictive as the men). In many trades only trade-skill, health, &c., are insisted upon as conditions of membership, which in view of the benefits to be paid is quite reasonable.

122. [122] This does not mean that the same percentage of profit exists in all trades, but that the higher percentage is always balanced by disadvantages of various kinds.

123. [123] Of course the two movements have been taking place together, but in an unregulated condition the employment of the unemployed would tend to be the first movement.

End of Notes

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