Puslapio vaizdai




[ocr errors]



JULY, 1886.


ART. I.-1. On the Conditions and Prospects of Trade. Address delivered by the Right Hon. G. J. GOSCHEN, M.P., to the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, June 23, 1885.

2. On the Prices of some Commodities during the Decade 1874-83. By L. HANSARD, Esq., F.S.S. Address delivered before the Institute of Bankers, London, December 17, 1884.

3. History of Prices since the year 1850. By M. G. MULHALL, F.S.S., &c. London: 1885.


ITHIN the last half-century-we may say, within forty years-commerce in all its branches and dependent trades has undergone a series of remarkable changes through improvements in the means of conveyance. Locomotion, alike personal and of merchandise, has wholly altered its character during the present generation, and the new powers it has acquired are incomparably superior to those of the earlier times. As regards both conveyance and communication, the civilised world now works by or through appliances of a rare perfection, and some of them of a marvellous character; and the result is an extraordinary increase of human power and enlargement of the sphere of human action. We can travel round the world as easily as our grandsires could reach the south of France; and we can make our words and wishes known across the globe at its widest, and even our individual voices can be heard and recognised at a distance of several miles, by means of a power as invisible as it still remains mysterious. Each and all of these new and powerful agencies have been promptly utilised by commerce



for which service, indeed, they were chiefly designed; and the happy effects of their commercial operation are to be seen in the remarkable extension of trade and production which had its beginning at the middle of the present century. Moreover, these effects of improved conveyance and communication have much to do with the present depression of prices, just as previously they tended to check the depreciation of the precious metals. These influences, therefore, are obviously of no small importance at the present time, and their operation will be duly considered in the sequel, in connexion with the position and prospects alike of our commercial and of our monetary affairs.

In our own country-which took the lead of the world in this matter the first epoch of improvement in the means of conveyance was marked by the Canal Mania' of the last century, now wellnigh forgotten, but which rendered, and in its effects still renders, great service by cheapening the conveyance of heavy and bulky goods. Nor let us forget how early the great modern work of cutting through isthmuses and connecting adjoining seas by navigable canals was begun in Scotland-by the Caledonian Canal; by the Forth and Clyde Canal, uniting the German Ocean with the Atlantic; and in later times by the Crinan Canal, so familiar to tourists. But it is with the fifth decade of the present century that the great revolution in locomotive agencies fairly began. During the previous twenty years (1820 40), the powers of the steam engine had been proved applicable alike to ships and to railways, to the work of traction or propulsion both by sea and land. So early as 1802 Symington's steamboat was successfully employed on the Forth and Clyde Canal; a steam-packet first plied for hiro on the Thames in 1814; and the steam engine was first employed for traction on tramways on the short mineral line now known as the Stockton and Darlington Railway.

Of these two greatest of the new agencies of locomotion, steam navigation at first took the lead. In the year 1819 the Savannah,' an American sailing ship fitted with steam enginery, crossed the Atlantic, arriving at Liverpool after a voyage of twenty-three days, during sixteen of which she was propelled by steam. So strange was her appearance in those days that when first seen off the Irish coast, at Cape Clear, the Savannah 'was mistaken for a ship on fire; and the admiral in command of the British squadron lying in Queenstown harbour sent out a vessel to her relief. But it was not until nearly twenty years later that the scepticism of scientific

« AnkstesnisTęsti »