Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

daunted, as the Dutch incident clearly demonstrates.

The Venezuelan explanation of the surprising tameness of the American Government in the asphalt disputes with Venezuela, and of a similar spirit of forbearance on the part of the French Government in its dispute about the Franco-Venezuelan cable, is that Castro holds documents that would fix most unsavory responsibilities on influential American and French politicians. Hinc illae lacrimae. Some Dutch official has been reported as saying that the time has come to decide whether Castro or the outraged conscience of the civilized world is to prevail. That is the rub. Who is to bell the cat, even in the absence of the pretended damning documents held by Castro? The rivalries and antagonisms of interests and ambitions amongst the Great Powers, and the touchiness of the United States in all matters affecting Latin America, are a bulwark of protection for Castro, who knows wherein his own strength lies, and acts accordingly.

As regards his own people it is to be assumed that they are not happy. Castro is a despot, and as irresponsible and unscrupulous as ever despot was. He maintains some semblance of constitutional government in the outward form. The country is divided into federal sections, so-called sovereign states, as is the United States of America; there are State Legislatures and a National Congress, but there is no Governor of a state, nor member of the Legislatures or of the Congress, either in the Upper or the Lower House, who

The Saturday Review.

dares call his soul his own, and all parliamentary action either in the sections or in the National Assembly is characterized by a most suspicious unanimity. With Castro, as with his various fellow despots in the neighboring countries, the exercise of public power is a personal business for personal ends. All the industries that are susceptible of it are converted into grinding monopolies, which are given to the favorites and accomplices in the work of spoliation, and the rights thus granted are violated whenever it suits Castro's convenience, even though they be held by foreigners, as was proved by the recent repeal of the match and salt monopolies owned in England. The result of all this to the welfare of the people may be easily imagined; yet the people can do nothing: they are absolutely helpless, for Castro has the army with him, and the army is the one decisive element of government in countries like Venezuela.

We will mention one more anomaly in this tangle of incomprehensible social and political conditions. It is true that Castro is hated by the people of Venezuela; it is true that at home the slightest sign of discontent, or of remonstrance, would be heavily punished; it is true that the only newspapers allowed are those that sing exclusively hymns of praise of Castro, of his greatness, of his ability, of his magnanimity; yet, were Venezuela attacked in earnest by a foreign Power, Castro would at once find himself acclaimed as the hero of the national defence. What is to be the end of it all?

THE PLEASURES OF WASTE.

Some people take a pleasure in waste. It gives them a momentary but distinct sense of happiness to waste something, and the delight of wasting figures largely in youthful dreams of prosperity. "Enough money to throw away!" The phrase expresses literally many men's notion of desirable riches. It is very unreasonable, if one thinks of it, to wish for more money than we desire to use, give, or leave; but human nature is unreasonable, and hoarding and wasting both seem instinctive in many natures. Some children show a love of destruction for which it is impossible to account, and others a keenness in adding to any form of collection, though of the least attractive object, which is equally incomprehensible. We do not, of course, consider that a man takes pleasure in wasting who deliberately calculates that certain economies, though desirable in themselves, are not worth the expenditure of time and thought necessary to carry them out. The majority of Englishmen, each in his separate sphere, have come to this conclusion. A man may set a very false value upon his own time, and grudge thought to his expenditure which might better be given to it; but neither of these mistakes proves that he is capable of the strange sense of enjoyment which we are discussing, a sensation common among the low-minded and not unknown among very high-minded people.

We have been told that it is not uncommon for casual paupers in the various workhouses to insist upon having the last crumb of bread allowed by the law, though they cannot eat it. It gives them positive pleasure that the food should be wasted. Perhaps a ciever "casual" might reply to this accusation that he is merely guarding the rights of future paupers with larger

appetites than his own. It is, however, more than unlikely that such esprit de corps explains the frequency of the offence, for this is not the only instance in which the tramping class display their love of waste. They will beg importunately of cottagers who they know cannot afford to give them money, but who often do not like to refuse food, and then when they have got what perhaps the giver can ill spare they throw it away. Whether it gives them a momentary sense of affluence to feel that they have got more than they want, or whether the wasteful act is but an expression of that lawlessness which finds a further and even more repulsive expression in abstinence from the good custom of ablution, it is impossible to say. Wherever ostentation comes in the pleasure derivable from waste is in part explained; but even then it is not altogether comprehensible. That a man should be proud of his wealth we can all understand, and that he should seize upon the readiest method of displaying it is natural enough; but how can we account for the fact that his dependents like to watch him doing it? One could readily believe that the sight of waste should produce bitterness in persons of small means whose work in life obliged them to watch it, but it seems incredible that it should produce admiration. It is undeniable, however, that a great many domestic servants think more of their employers because they waste, and people who would not steal a pin take a pleasure in systematic improvidence. Perhaps it is possible in a roundabout manner to connect this feeling with a good quality. Servants identify themselves with their employers in an admirably loyal manner, and are pleased when the glory of the householder glorifies the household, and the sad thing

is that their conception of what reflects honor should be so mistaken. Love of power, and admiration fór power in the abstract, are inevitable. Money gives power, and vulgar people enjoy and admire it as displayed in waste, just as wicked people do in cruelty. Possibly, also, the bringing up of servants too often leads them to connect economy with poverty, and poverty with squalor. Sometimes in their delight at being rid of the last they thoughtlessly banish the first. Employers not seldom descant upon the difficulty of persuading servants to care for their masters' goods as they would care for their own. But it has to be remembered that in the eyes of a wasteful servant there is something ideal about the ability to waste. He treats his employer's goods as he thinks he would treat his own if he were as rich as he takes that employer to be.

There may be excuses for all the enjoyment of waste which we have been considering, but, take it as a whole, it is a low feeling condemned by the best individuals of every class. Good servants and good workmen intend at least to make the most of everything, and many of them are genuinely scandalized by wanton wastefulness. Not long ago the present writer observed a respectable working woman having tea in a confectioner's shop. Before pouring out her tea she began to stir the pot, which was half full of tea-leaves. "Why, there's enough for six!" she exclaimed in genuine dismay. "How sinful!"

But the really interesting thing about the love of waste is that there are high-minded people who cannot deny that they understand it,-that they can conceive the pleasure, because they have felt it. As a rule, however, the agreeable sensation of which they are conscious only follows upon the wasting of money. To put a loaf of bread upon the fire would give them the

keenest pain, but they are tempted to throw away the price of many loaves. The other day the present writer heard a man of the highest character, incapable of contracting debts, who has worked hard all his life, has known the want of money, and has never been extraordinarily rich, admit that, having dropped a sovereign, he had felt the temptation to gratify an instinct by not picking it up. This, no doubt, is an extreme instance; but in a lesser degree we do not think that the feeling is uncommon. About smaller coins have not many of us felt it? Is there not more than one person among our readers who, having dropped some pence in a railway train, has groped after them solely for fear he should appear ostentatious, or should pain some poor person, or set a bad example to some boy, and who, had he been alone, would have experienced a slight sense of pleasure in leaving them where they were? Or, to take a still smaller instance, have not many of us walked through a town after being for some while in the country, and been suddenly astonished, and rather ashamed, to find ourselves gazing into shop-windows, our whole minds set upon buying something,-not longing for the beautiful things we could not afford, not seeking any definite article whatever, but simply desiring to exchange the loose money in our pockets for something-anything-else; in fact, actually bent upon experiencing the pleasure of waste? The most determined self-ridicule is impotent to prevent the constant recurrence of this curious instinct in those in whom it is inherent. What is the origin of this feeling? Is the mind of the man who is thus tempted to waste throwing back to some spendthrift great-grandfather? Possibly; but we think the source of the feeling is further to seek. There is something of the savage in us all. In the men

and Women who feel strongly this temptation to waste money the connection between coin and commodities is not very close. With their brains they know the worth of money, in abstract questions of finance they often show astonishingly good sense, and in large sums they may even be somewhat close; but in some subconscious region of their minds they are not yet conThe Spectator.

vinced of the representative character of dirty bits of metal. They please that simpler self when they refuse to take the slightest trouble to recover a missing shilling, and they feel a secret gratification, rising to the level of a conscious sensation of pleasure, when they exchange a bit of dull silver or copper for any less unattractive object.

THE ENTENTE OF AMERICA AND AUSTRALIA.

It is natural for British opinion to be moved by surprise, at least as much as by pleasure, at the spectacle of the entertainment of the American battle fleet in the great Australian ports, and the unbounded warmth of its reception by the people and the statesmen of the Commonwealth. The demonstration is said to have been more cordial than the greeting to the Prince of Wales at the opening of the Commonwealth Parliament, and is compared with the frenzy of emotion with which Paris received the sailors of the Russian fleet. Mr. Deakin, the head of the Commonwealth Ministry, admits that the visit was arranged, and that it was designed by him to enforce a policy on which he and other Australian statesmen have long been at issue with the Imperial Government, namely, the creation of an Australian Navy. The "Westminster Gazette," indeed, points out that Mr. Deakin did not, as Reuter's report indicated, invoke the example of the American Navy as an incitement to Australia to build another such fleet as the only means of securing her against "outside injustice and injury." He only appealed for the building of a Navy "which would rank in time among the real defence forces of the Empire." But even in the modified version the speech strikes us as a somewhat sensational development

of the march of colonial self-government. We are on the best terms with the United States; had our relationship been cold and strained, the visit would not have taken place. But it seems to us strong measure for an Australian statesman to use a foreign fleet as a means of forwarding a project which is not approved by the Admiralty, and is regarded by them as an entirely wrong development of Imperial Defence. Mr. Deakin is still fighting his battle for an Australian Navy. The Admiralty support, as they are bound to support, the opposite policy of Colonial aids to the great force which guarantees the safety of Australasian territory, of a unified command, and of concentration on the seas which wash these shores. It is clear that Mr. Deakin rejects these theories, so far as they hamper his view of Australian naval policy. He uses the American fleet "the last word in the art of naval construction," as he calls it-as a plea for the "creation" of a separate Australian scheme of "naval defence." As we have no real control over Australian policy, it is certain that Mr. Deakin will prevail, especially as Canada cherishes a like ambition for itself. The Australian subsidy of £240,000 to the Imperial Navy will be withdrawn, and a small, and entirely useless, Australian squadron will take its place.

The special point of attraction in the Canadian case is the United States, in the Australian case it is Japan, and, as Mr. Archibald Hurd points out in the "Fortnightly Review," Canada must provide a fleet comparable to the American Navy, and Australia aim at a counterpart to the sea-power of Japan, before these visions can even approach reality.

The truth is, however, that Australia's desire for an independent Navy, in "alliance" with our own, is merely a fresh embodiment of the nationalism which has informed her politics for a generation, and which federation has powerfully aided. Australia has always desired to act alone. She would have liked to govern Imperial policy in the Pacific before and after the day when Sir Thomas McIlwraith "annexed" New Guinea, and was disavowed by the Colonial Office. Even when she joined an enterprise of the Mother Country like the South African War, she did so largely with the desire, expressed to a distinguished Englishman by Mr. Deakin himself, to "blood" her young people, to furnish them with a passage of adventure in the early history of their State. This feeling, consistent as it may be with a feeling of loyalty to the Motherland, finds ready expression in contact with the American people. All visitors to the Colonies are struck by the points of superficial likeness between the Colonial and many prevailing American types-their self-confidence and buoyancy, their newness, their sharply defined and rather material views of life, and their highly developed vision of an organized commercial and industrial democracy unknown to our more delicately shaded and conservative society. Resembling the Americans, the free colonial peoples resemble each other still more. And in one point of exterior policy they are in close harmony with the later, though not the earlier devel

The

opments of American opinion. American fleet was invited to Australia in close sequence on the anti-Japanese riots on the Pacific coasts of Canada and the United States, and the Mayor of Sydney took care to emphasize, in the address of welcome, the identity of views on the color question, and especially on Asiatic immigration. Here, indeed, Australia has led America, and has done as a considered and consistent policy what the States are beginning to do as a consequence of later teachings of the dark evangel of race hatred and fear. And here, again, British and Colonial policy does not move from the same springs. Few South Africans or Australians see with pleasure the admission of Asiatics or negroes to London clubs and the terms of equality on which they subsist with British people of all classes. Many cherish more or less consciously the idea of the old-fashioned Boer that such races as the Kaffirs belong to an inferior, half-finished creation, with doubtful pretensions to a soul. And all "Colonials" are firmly possessed of the notion that the standard of life must be maintained by white men for white men, and that a mixed industrial order, based on inter-marriage and joint government by white and black or yellow, is incompatible with civilization.

It is obviously impossible for an Australian holding such views to approve the action of this country in entering on an equal alliance with Japan. The Anglo-Japanese alliance may and should mean a great easing of the situation in respect of Asiatic immigration, a useful guarantee of peace, if not of good feeling, between white and yellow Governments in the Pacific. But Australia is much more disposed to regard it as a concession to the doctrine of color-equality on which that portion of the British Empire which is self-governing is no longer

« ZurückWeiter »