Puslapio vaizdai

the past, which is so vital a factor in that ideal, loses none of its force, but the trend of aspiration is different. D'Annunzio, with the material glories of his dream, with his excessive emphasis and his exaggerated appeal to history, is the poet of the one order; Sem Benelli, with his intense sympathy for the actual human beings of the hour, his spiritual rather than material outlook, is the poet of the other. If d'Annunzio seems to us to overstrain the historical and material rôle, Benelli, perhaps, lays too much stress on the spiritual and mystic; but we must bear in mind that the Latin races have their own heightened way of saying things, and that, in any case, ideals are apt to carry us beyond the bounds of common fact. Benelli's rugged altar on the Carso, then, is to be the shrine of a new democracy, whereat shall meet

'i nuovi figli d'Italia . . .

in accordo perfetto

con tutto l'amore

della più nobile famiglia
del mondo.'

It is a people's war, to win a people's prize, the fraternity of the race in the unity of its home; a war with the popolo as the hero, inspired, no less than the medieval heroes of d'Annunzio, by a passionate devotion to their ideal Italy, but issuing from the people and the people's dwellings,

'Salgono alle trincee e sempre nominano
le loro madri due: la mamma e te.'

That is profoundly true of the Italian soldier now in the trenches; the cry of his heart is for his two mothers, mamma mia and Italia, and, if his religion be still alive, for yet a third mother, Maria Vergine, in heaven. Benelli's vision and aspiration is a 'Democratic Vista,' recalling the hopes and forecasts of Walt Whitman for these States'; but Italy has a richer historical past to draw upon, and even in her democratic mood, la spada dei tuoi vecchi eroi' is invoked to inspire the warriors of the new idea. Italy is always conscious of her past.

And how does the poet envisage the festival commemorative of the sacrifice which has given birth to the New Italy? It will be a gathering of all the arts, of all

the sciences, of all the crafts, of all the industries, of all who are engaged in activities that ennoble man:

'i sommì di tutte le arti,

i nuovi di tutte le scienze,
i coltivatori di tutte

le prime virtù,'

welded in one vast brotherhood by the sacrifices of this war, which is to complete the unity of Italy in body and soul, and to edify it by the mystic knowledge, now acquired, that gain can only come by suffering:

'Nulla dà il bene,

anche se par un sogno,

se non è con dolore edificato.'

The processional hymn will be the chaunt of Italian brotherhood.' Now at last has the word been found which shall bring consolation to all hearts; the song of Italy, for the first time full and complete in perfect diapason, rises on high from the throats of a people united at length in their material home and in their spiritual aspirations:

Trovata è la parola

che finalmente tutti ci consola;

è trovato l'accordo e sale il canto
italico la prima volta in alto
pieno e intiero.'

This is, of course, the language of the visionary, of the poet. It is only Piron the poet' who is speaking, not the guns on the Piave, the Alpini on the Tonale, not the men in the Galleria at Milan, or at the 'Aragno' in the Corso, not the men of Montecitorio; and yet it is the poets who express their race and are speaking for all.


Art. 9.-THE FOOD PROBLEM 1914-1916.

1. Departmental Committee appointed by the President of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries to consider the Production of Food in England and Wales. Interim and Final Reports [Cd 8048, 8095]. H.M. Stat. Office, 1915.

2. Departmental Committee appointed by the Board of Trade to investigate the principal causes which have led to the increase of Prices of Commodities since the beginning of the War. Interim, Second and Third Reports [Cd 8358, 8483]. H.M. Stat. Office, 1916, 1917. 3. Royal Commission on the Sugar Supply. First (interim) Report, showing the operations of the Commission from date of appointment to the beginning of December, 1916 [Cd 8728]. H.M. Stat. Office, 1917.

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ONE of the last acts of Mr Asquith's Government was the institution of the office of Food Controller, though no candidate could be found bold enough to fill it. One of the first acts of Mr Lloyd George's Government was the institution of the Ministry of Food on Dec. 22, 1916, with Lord Devonport at its head. After some fifteen months' experience of increasing State control over our food supplies and their distribution, it is a matter of considerable interest to review the causes which little by little forced a reluctant Government to suspend the easy flow of voluntary action' and to resort more and more to State interference in regard to food as in almost all other departments of our national life. From the official reports quoted at the head of this article, supplemented by other evidence, it is now possible to get a fairly clear idea of our Government's activities from the outbreak of the war until Mr Asquith's resignation on Dec. 5, 1916-a period throughout which, though there was some reshuffling of the cards in May 1915, Mr Asquith continued to be Prime Minister and Mr Runciman President of the Board of Trade, the Department then most directly concerned with our food supplies. The scope of this article is limited to this period; the intimate history of later happenings is yet to be disclosed.

At the outbreak of the War the United Kingdom was a Free Trade country under a strongly Free Trade Vol. 230.—No. 456.


Government. Its population of forty-seven millions was dependent for two-thirds of its food on foreign supplies. In particular, our islands produced only onefifth of the wheat, only three-fifths of the meat and bacon, and none of the sugar that they consumed; on the other hand they produced more than nine-tenths of the milk, and all the potatoes required. The only staple food of which they produced far more than they consumed was fish. Obviously, therefore, as everybody knows only too well, our very existence in time of war depends on our command of the sea.

At first no statesmen and very few generals seem to have anticipated that the war could last beyond a few months; and neither in this nor in any of the belligerent countries-once the panic of the first few days with its mad run upon the food-shops was over-does there appear to have been any special anxiety about food supplies. It was only as the probable prolongation of the war began to be perceived that drastic measures to secure the feeding of their peoples were taken by the Central Powers, while our own Government was content to devise means to meet special crises as they happened to occur. The Government, said Mr Runciman two years later, had regarded 'practical objects as the only objects worthy of attainment.' None the less, however much in theory Mr Asquith's Government may have been 'wedded to the old voluntary principle,' the actual history of what they did in practice to secure ample food supplies may come as a surprise even to close observers.

As soon as war was declared, the Government appointed a Cabinet Committee on Food Supplies, which took immediate steps to secure supplies of sugar, meat and corn, and-most important of all-unrestricted transport by land and sea. On Aug. 4, 1914, it assumed control over the railways. Next day it announced a system of State insurance for British shipping to compensate our shippers for losses at sea through enemy action. It foresaw a shortage of sugar, due to the fact that in normal times 65 per cent. of the supply came from Germany and Austria; and it made immediate arrangements for the state purchase of sugar from other sources. To guard against a possible meat shortage, it obtained a list of all refrigerated vessels afloat, and gave orders to the Navy to

shepherd them all to our shores; and on Aug. 6 it secured from the Queensland Government the option of the whole of the Colony's frozen meat supply. To allay the senseless food panic of the first few days it took over the control of all flour mills, and appointed on Aug. 7 a Consultative Committee on food supplies, which, in conference with representatives of large distributive Companies and the Grocers' Federation, issued lists of maximum prices-without indeed any legal sanctionat which articles of food might fairly be sold in the retail shops.

On Aug. 10 it passed the Defence of the Realm Act, under which it was authorised to requisition not only food, fodder and stores for the Navy and Army, but also all food-stuffs unreasonably withheld; and on the same day it appointed a special Committee of the Board of Agriculture to consider the production of home supplies. It also ordered the Board to make a survey of our food resources both at the moment and afterwards periodically, and, to increase confidence, announced that there was in the country five months' supply of wheat and nearly a twelve months' supply of potatoes. Further, it prohibited all export of food-stuffs and, two or three months later, all export of fodder. Finally, on Aug. 20 the Cabinet Committee on Food Supplies handed over the purchase of sugar to a special Commission, which it had already empowered to purchase, sell and control the delivery of sugar, and generally to take such steps as may seem desirable for maintaining the supply.'

This last step was the boldest of the measures then taken to safeguard supplies; and, though it was at first subjected to much adverse criticism, it has proved so successful, that the Sugar Commission even now continues its work with but little change from the form in which it started. The Commission was composed of five persons, assisted by a small staff. At the end of August there was in the United Kingdom only one month's stock in store, but by the following November, by purchases through ordinary trade channels in the United States, Cuba, Mauritius, Java, the Philippines and elsewhere, the Commission had completely relieved the shortage; and from that time onward maintained stocks in this country at the normal level till early in 1916, when

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