Page images
PDF
EPUB

so you have a mind or self. The self is not what looks at objects. When you look for what looks, you cannot find it. The self is just they.

Realism seems here to be renouncing the self altogether and flinging itself into the arms of reality. Something of this nature Idealism must do. Something of this nature, strange as the assertion may seem, it began by doing. It has to learn that the question whether esse is percipi, or whether reality is experience, is not the whole issue. Nor does the issue depend on whether there are only qualities, or only relations, or both qualities and relations. It goes further back. It depends on what is legitimately to be made of something prior to all these views and held, independently of them, by all disputants. Whatever our view of any of these questions may be, it is at least certain and allowed by everybody that we have all, in being born, arrived in the presence of a prima facie plurality of some sort. Idealism, it would seem, must commit itself to that, and set about to deal with things in all their crude and unredeemed heterogeneity; it must see whether or not there be a Logic in them of the idealistic sort, that is to say a nisus towards a whole ; and see whether that Logic-that nisus or movement or fundamental drift of things---can be traced in time; try whether it can be found written out there, in the evolution of nature and in the course of history.

As to the lines along which such a concrete vindication of the postulates of man's higher life may possibly be carried out, this is perhaps hardly the place to speculate. But one point at least is much in need of being made. That strain which Idealism puts upon faith, to which we made reference at the beginning, is nothing against its truth. There are two matters of importance here. First, it is a mistake to regard Idealism as a theory of the matter of the universe only; it is a theory of its constitution and articulate construction. It is not interested in saying what the world has been made out of, except in so far as that prescribes what it must have been made into. It has no interest, for example, in proving that everything in the universe is psychical; which is probably the utmost that the Berkeleian argument proves, if it proves even that. Not that the world is ideas, is the thesis of idealism, but that, in some

6

legitimate sense of the term, it is good. The other point is this. To gather the general structure of things into one focus is a task whose result, if it be successful, will most likely demand great effort to assimilate. There is nothing in the mere fact that it is hard to take in, to prove any doctrine untrue. It depends on the kind of difficulty. Hard, in the wide and just sense, all truth, like all goodness, must ever be. The only suspicious sort of difficulty is that which accompanies the determined effort to evade the strain of the full-orbed truth-the intellectual analogue to the hardness' which is ascribed to the way of transgressors.'

The universe is big, after all. To keep the truth of it in view is to keep the truth of everything in view. This must entail a specific kind of strain-that which presses in equalised fashion over our whole nature, the strain of that summoning of our whole being together which a high act of courage entails. If Idealism be the truth, we must be prepared to find that there come periodically recurring times, in the slow march of civilisation and thought, when this strain is too much, and when the truth temporarily ceases to convince. It is only in such pauses of scepticism, under the conditions of finitude in which we have to do our thinking, that our vision is enriched. We may be passing through one of these pauses-suffering an inundation of the crass and crude real, to put it metaphorically-in more regions than that of thought. But even so, it is well to keep awake, to rise a little above the flood at times, and send a glance across the vast of sheer disconnected fact and casual or unbeautiful achievement, to where we can catch a passing glimpse of the whole, towards which we have no right to doubt that our temporary movement is still ultimately tending.

J. W. SCOTT.

Art. 8.-THE BRITISH TRADE CORPORATION.

A GREAT deal of water has passed under the bridge since the article on English and German banking, which appeared in our number of October 1916, was published. The subject has been frequently canvassed in our principal financial papers, and it is already in some degree better understood. Gradually we are learning that the system which has been so generally called the German system is not an exclusively German system at all, but was really the original banking system in Europe and practised particularly in Italy. The name of Lombard Street,' which has adhered so long to the street in the City which is especially devoted to the business of banking, reminds us of this. It was practically impossible that the business should have been otherwise than in the hands of foreigners during times when the whole commercial system of this country was so little developed, and yet the rudiments of banking had begun. That business implies the employment of the resources which the banker holds in loans made principally to merchants and traders but also to manufacturers. In early days these traders had but little capital of their own to employ, and hence, more than most people, required loans of a fixed character.

In England banking was crippled for many years by being confined to firms not exceeding six partners. We need not go into the reasons which caused this limitation, nor into those which restricted the issue of bank notes, which are a natural feature of the business, and formed, in early times, a very large part of it. People were willing to take the notes of a banker in the discharge of a debt when they would not have taken the 'promise to pay' of any other person. In those days cheques were almost unknown, and business of all kinds was mainly carried on by notes. Gradually this method was altered. Down to the latter half of the 18th century, the Bank of Dundee, practically the only bank whose early history has yet been published, held for years no deposits, but had a large note circulation. It had existed nearly thirty years before deposits appeared in its accounts. This was a very usual state of matters for many years in early English banking. In the next stage, and down to a date still within the lifetime of some business men and most of their fathers, the capitals employed by the greater number of our banks, and their businesses generally, were comparatively small and numerous. This arose from the fact that the business was practically supported by the local standing of the partners themselves. Our banking system was based on the principle that it was not the business of a bank to provide 'capital' for any concern, however prosperous. Loans for a short period, with a promise, which could be depended on, that the advance would be punctually paid off at the date fixed, became the rule, and rightly, considering the small amount of

he capital compared with the liabilities. We are now brought to feel that a different system is required by the exigencies of our trade and industry, and we do not doubt that it will be provided.

The British Trade Corporation has commenced operations after a protracted and somewhat uneasy period of incubation. The connexion with the Government remains in its structure. This we regret for several reasons; First, because we believe that such help was not needed, and that private enterprise could provide all the funds that are required with greater freedom as to the employment of their money; and secondly, because the connexion with the Government is not unlikely to hinder the success of the enterprise, which we should greatly regret. This will certainly be the case if the connexion causes the doings of the company to be criticised, as has already been the case during a somewhat bitter debate in the House of Commons. We regret it, further, because it is clear that more than one institution of this class will be required to provide for the needs of the widely extended business which this country will have to carry on when peace returns, and which will demand considerable financial support. Business is now developing into far larger concerns than has hitherto been the case; and even the most powerful firms will have to strengthen themselves by developing into large limited companies to enable them to meet the requirements of present times.

While the Trade Corporation will, we trust, give a great impetus to our home trade, it has other duties as

well. It should powerfully assist British enterprise overseas. Help is badly wanted in this direction.

* To take one instance from recent history. When the Victoria Falls power scheme, now probably the largest electrical power company in the world, was initiated a few years ago, attempts were made to finance the undertaking in London. They failed in the face of German competition. The close cooperation between the Deutsche Bank and the Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft enabled the Germans to obtain this valuable contract by undertaking at the same time the finance. The electrical companies in England were not backed by any great financial interests.'

The fact that this occurred gives a very strong hint to our own electrical power companies and similar industrial concerns, that, where they have to compete with foreign enterprise, and also in some cases where the business proposed is to be carried on in this country, they must prepare not only what we may call the design of the immediate enterprise that lies before them, but take measures for its immediate execution, without having to hunt up assistance from outside. There would have been, no doubt, resources enough, and much more than enough, at home to do all that was wanted in the case mentioned above, but they were not immediately ready. Some have held that the German trading world has been led into a too hasty expansion by the great power which it has obtained through their modern methods, but, whether this is the case or not, we believe that there is actually no fear of British trade over-expanding in the same manner.

There are several directions in which such an institution as the British Trade Corporation might find useful employment within the United Kingdom at the present time. There is, for instance, the whole question of dealing with the canals of this country. These very important trade-routes have been allowed to be stifled through the greater expansion which the railways have received, and through the unfortunate arrangement by which railways were permitted to buy up the adjacent canals. There is

• From a privately printed paper, by a very competent authority. Vol. 229.-No. 454.

L

« PreviousContinue »