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With these views the Legislature has had no difficulty in agreeing, but slam-clearing remains an expensive process, and the London County Council cannot be excused of waste or extravagance on that score.
As regards the erection of lodging houses and dwellings for the poor, the case is different. Lord Rowton has built two model lodging houses in no way inferior to that of the County Council, and the nightly charge is the same. The first built of the two is a commercial success, and the other bids fair to be. But the Council's lodging house is conducted at a loss to the ratepayer.
Again, there are several Artisans' Dwellings Companies that are doing business on a firm commercial basis; but most of the Council's dwellings are carried on at a loss. Councillors are, however, quite alive both to the unfairness of saddling poor ratepayers with a portion of the cost of lodging persons, some of whom are no poorer than themselves, and also to the danger of interfering with private dwelling building enterprise by rate subsidized dwellings, and, taught by the light of experience, they are narrowly scanning the cost before proceeding to commit themselves to any further schemes.
The Royal Commission made several recommendations with the object of enabling artisans' dwellings to be erected at the least possible cost. Trustees and limited owners were to be allowed to sell land for housing purposes under the market value, and it was suggested that the owners of sites of disused prisons, in some cases connty justices, and in some cases the government, should be encouraged to do likewise. So far the Legislature endorsed the views of the Commission, and the powers given have been acted upon; but another and far-reaching recommendation as to the rating of vacant land has been up to the present completely shelved.
The law of rating places an artificial impediment in the way of building in large towns by decreeing that land till it is built apon shall only pay rates on its agricultural value, so that a landowner may occupy a large and very valuable plot of building land as a pleasure ground and pay hardly any rates upon it. Thus, at a small expense, a great deal of land may be kept out of the building market. The Commission recommended the adoption of the American system of assessment on capital value, consider
ing that under that system there would be a free market in building sites, which would tend to the reduction of rent.
The difficulty of rehousing during the progress of improvement schemes, having regard to the great convenience, indeed, in some cases, the necessity of living near to one's work, was present to the Commission, which urged the importance of making rebuilding as far as possible simultaneous with the process of demolition.
Here the factor of cheap and speedy locomotion comes in and the service of trains and trams suitable to the pocket and needs of workingmen is a question that an extended suffrage has brought very much to the front, and bids fair to exercire a considerable influence on the housing problem.
How that problem will ultimately be solved it is impossible to forecast with any confidence. This much however is certainthat the evils of overcrowding and bad sanitation are steadily diminishing, and will continue to diminish. The Peabody & Guinness Trusts are and have been dealing on a large scale with the housing of the poor. Their efforts are being supplemented by those of numerous public companies, some of which have imposed upon themselves a maximum limit to their dividend of 4 or 5 per cent. Local authorities are making experiments in the same direction, and it has even been proposed, perhaps with doubtful wisdom, to increase the powers of those authorities by enabling them not only, as they can do at present, to erect workmen's dwellings, but also to take upon themselves the functions of building societies, and lend money to artisans to buy their own houses.
Perhaps the most satisfactory feature of the general outlook is that the standard of living of the working classes is being raised. Lord Rowton, an expert and enthusiast on workingmen's dwellings, and one of the prime movers in the administration of the Guinness Trust, finds that the demand for single-room tenements is decreasing, and that new buildings will have to be erected on more commodious lines than the old.
Many causes have no doubt contributed to this result. The crowded parts of London have now been thoroughly explored not only by the medical officer and the sanitary inspector, but by an army of philanthropists who live near the poor at Toynbee Hall and Oxford House and elsewhere; by missions started, maintained, ,
and begged for by the clergy of all denominations, and by nurses and sisters whose devotion to their calling is beyond all praise.
Public opinion would seem to be tending in the direction of socialism. The individualism taught by Mr. Herbert Spencer is for practical purposes as extinct as the old high Tory. Possibly some day the local authorities or the state may nndertake the housing of the poor to the exclusion of every other agency. Rent for these habitations may be light, or perhaps there may be none at all. In principle there is no very enormous difference between free education and free lodging. If for the general benefit we insist on people living decently against their will, they may urge that the expense should be borne by the community for whose convenience they are reluctantly compelled to turn out of their single tenements. This may or may not be the ultimate drift of public opinion. The realization of extreme socialistic views may or may not tend to the general good. These are debatable propositions. There is, however, one socialistic delusion for which no pretence of justification can be alleged. Socialists are constantly asserting that they worship at the shrine of Liberty. There never was a greater mistake than to suppose that socialism and liberty are congenial or even possible companions. Socialism can only be enforced under a cast-iron system of despotism crushing out individual predilections in a man. ner repugnant to every sentiment of liberty. The advantages of socialism may outweigh the despotic terrors by which the promulgation of its edicts must in the nature of things be accompanied, but in estimating those advantages, do not let us forget the price at which they are to be bought. The great Goddess of Liberty has indeed good reason to complain, not only, as Madame Roland said on the scaffold, of the crimes that are committed in her name, but of the ignorance and impudence of even well-intentioned worshippers in her temple.
COMMERCIAL TREND OF CHINA.
BY THOMAS R. JERNIGAN, UNITED STATES CONSUL-GENERAL TO
The recently published statement of the Statistical Secretary of the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs that the foreign trade of China for 1896 is more valuable than that of any other year in the history of the Empire will give earnestness to the attention that follows commercial movements in Asian lands. Fortunately for the world, the interest of busiress is subordinating political ambition, and the influence which goes out from business centres is now the most potent factor in directing the course of history. China is to-day the great undeveloped country of the world, and the trend of her commerce cannot fail to invite the careful study of business men,
The total value of the foreign trade of China for 1896 was $270,273,846.00, an increase of $15,066,000.00 over the preceding year. This increase is more significant when considered in connection with the fact that there was a decline in exports of $9,882,000.00, which shows that, moved by the agencies of Western civilization, China, by increased importations, is awakening to an appreciation of that civilization. The margin of gain again appears in the revenue derived from the customs, being for 1896 $966,330.00 more than for 1895-another significant fact, when it is remembered that in previous years there were the collections from the two Formosan ports to be added, which aggregated annually about $810,000.00. To place before the business mar the infallible evidences of China's commercial trend, the following table has been carefully compiled from the latest customs returns. The years 1889 and 1896 have been selected, in the belief that the interval is sufficient to exempt re
sults from ephemeral market influences, and that the results shown will prove substantially accurate indications of that trend.
U, S. U.S.
U.S. U.S. U.S. of America. $3,082,587 $9,663,189 213.4 $,738,138 $9,010,115 56 9 Great Britain... 17,145,559 36,102,823 110.5 12,682,091 9,138,459 27.9 decrease Hong Kong 51,330,575 73,998, 7-9
28,501,181 43,782,978 53 6 India
6,404,329 18,651,915 191. 882,871 1,762,145 99.6 Singapore and Straits 1,518,061 2,624,18 72.8
1,042,527 1,108,232 35. Europe, except Russia
1.786,850 7,639.907 327.5 14,202,302 14.642,801 3. Russia, via sea 474,798 1,616,232 246.7 2,291,183 3,455,314 50.8 Russia and Si
beria via Kiakta
3,208,904 6,735,597 1 99 Rus. Manchuria. 145.799 156,633
7.4 401,2 3 1.883,429 365.9 Japan.
5,317,484 14.085,999 163.4 5,239 914 9,210,871 75.8 Macao
5.5 1,249,069 1,800,634 44. Cochin China. Tonkin and An
133,661 809,885 505 9 50,046 333,761 566 9
45,485 157,342 245.9 287, 445 434,075 51. Korea
97,556 373,889 283. 162,077 387,511 139. All other coun-U. S. U.S.
U, S. tries
$1,170,562 $2,617,882 126. $2,585,723 $2,571,234 00.5 decrease U.S. U.s.
U.S U.S Total...
$91,741,328 $171,788,857| 87. $78,527,737 $106,563,48€ 35.7
nam ••• Siam.....
A gratifying exhibit of the above table is that the trade relations between the United States and China were never so great in value as in 1896, that never in any year has China imported so largely from the United States. The highest rate of increase is seen in the trade with the new French Province on the southwestern border of China, and this is true both in imports and exports. In exports Russian Manchuria comes next and Russia in Siberia third.
The impetus given to the trade with Russia, since the close of the Japan China war, is doubtless due to the substantial service rendered to China by Russia at that time, and the Russian Minister at Pekin has not allowed China to forget the obligation. A Minister less fertile in resources and diplomatic ability might have succeeded in giving a favorable direction to this trade, but Count Cassini has not only given such a direction, but he has laid deep the foundation for its expansion and opened the long-desired way for Russia to the Pacific Ocean, one of the greatest