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of their papers and effecting a revolution, the English labourer either reads the political articles and fails to act up to them, or does not read them at all. Nothing is more common than to hear a working man extol some particularly bitter onslaught on his social betters. "Splendid attack on So-and-so,' he will say. Quite true ; So-and-so has had his way too long ;' but apparently it never enters his head to rise in rebellion against the object of his animadversion. His ideas are more abstract than practical. Possibly, too, he recognises that the journalist has written not from conviction of the soundness of the position he supports, but because he believes that it is the position which the working classes will approve and appreciate. It is, moreover, as he knows, much easier to examine a thing and attack its anomalies as a whole than to examine its parts and foundation and discover whether its heart is sound. The efforts of the journalist are thus entirely wasted. Again, for one man who reads the political section of the paper, half-a-dozen study the latest 'mystery' and the police news, while another half-dozen devote their chief attention to the general sketches. The newspapers which appeal to the working classes would do real good if, instead of picking holes in the characters of the high-born and criticising in a spirit of narrow and mistaken economy the national estimates, they were to devote some time to matters which exclusively concern the working population of the country. For instance, it is rare to find a working-man's newspaper pointing out the advantages of the colonies to the people and the best way to emigrate, or the adverse side of Free Trade. The Radical section of these newspapers is bigoted in its democratic sentiments, and supports every anti-capitalist or antilandlord utterance, however wild, from Messrs. Cobden and Bright down to Messrs. Chamberlain and Morley. Luckily, as I have said, the superficial views usually current in the Sunday broadsheet have not yet succeeded in ingratiating themselves with the masses. It will be an ill day for this country when the literary pedagogue of the Sabbath can induce the democracy to believe in his infallibility.

In the shape of books the working classes read very little. Years ago, had one walked into almost any poor but respectable man's room in the kingdom, one would probably have found two books at leastthe Bible and the Pilgrim's Progress. Both were held in extreme veneration. Now it is to be feared that very few working men and women read the Pilgrim's Progress, and the Bible is far from being what it wasthe book of the home. For this the propagation of Sunday newspapers is largely to blame. The weary toiler now spends his Sunday afternoons smoking his pipe and digesting the week's record of criminalities. Formerly, if not addicted to drinking or wasting his hours with boon companions, he became one of the family gathering, whilst his wife or daughter, or perchance he himself, read a chapter from the Book of books. I do not intend to say that the working classes do not read the Bible now; what I do say and believe is that they do not read it as extensively and regularly as they did a generation or two previously. It is not easy to indicate precisely what other books they read. There can be no question, however, that when they read books they usually read good books. They do not read many, but what they read are of a high order. Cheap editions have brought standard works within their reach, and though the privilege is not largely availed of, it is not altogether neglected. No idea of the reading of the working classes can be arrived at by comparing it with the reading of the upper classes. The latter read everything possible of nearly every author. The former read one or two works in a lifetime, but they usually re-read them several times. Such a method may tend to narrowness; it at least tends to thoroughness, as far as it goes. Lots of working men have studied with great care one or two of Shakespeare's plays; others know one or two of Dickens's works almost by heart. One working man I knew claimed to have read carefully only two books—the Bible and Shakespeare. To say nothing of what it would mean to acquire an adequate perception-and of course he had not done so-of all the glories of these two glorious works, how many

ople of culture have ever read botb, word by word? Another member of the democracy had plunged into the deep waters of Paradise Lost, and gone from cover to cover. At the same time there are working men who will devour every book they can buy or can secure from friends, and a curious undigested, if not indigestible, mass they do sometimes get hold of. Hundreds, on the other hand, have never read a line of a book.

The chief difficulty about literature for the working classes is to reach them. If the literature were lying on their table they would often read, but they seldom sally forth into the highways and byways of the literary world to discover what they shall purchase. Beyond doubt they have become possessors of thousands of cheap volumes, but the working men and women of England do not number thousands, but millions, and it is matter for regret that, with the many means of disseminating among them the masterpieces of the English language, more energy is not exerted in bringing home to them the inherent attractions of Shakespeare, Scott, Marryat, Dickens, Lytton, Eliot. The working classes read the Sunday newspaper as largely as they do because it is left at their door. What religious organisations have done in the distribution of tracts which the working classes do not read, surely some other organisation might do for the distribution of works of a wholesome character and of abiding interest which they would read. Without underrating their beneficial action, it may safely be said that free libraries have not done all that was expected of them in the way of bringing the literary gems of the world within the reach of the son of toil. The elementary education now received by every child at least gives him a power of reading not always possessed by his fathers, but such power is not necessarily employed. He might read more if books were brought to his home. Between the free library and his home, morally and materially, stands the public-house.

Taking cognisance of the working classes as a whole, there is one thing which I believe to be indisputable—viz. that the instruction imparted through the Board School has not superinduced any large amount of reading, except in a shape contemptible and worthless. Neither the newspaper nor the novelette contains any element calculated to carry peace and contentment to the working man's door. There is nothing in it to elevate, to ennoble, to inspire with a desire for truth and right-living. And if, as men and women, the masses have a particular liking for such reading, the disposition is not surprising when we consider what they read as children. The periodical literature of the poor is in every respect inferior to the periodical literature of the well-to-do; the Sunday newspaper is not comparable for a moment in its knowledge of politics with the daily newspaper, and is apparently equally ignorant of the ways of men generally. The working classes, in point of fact, are written down to. This is the mistake frequently made by educated men who take up subjects and deal with them for the uneducated. It will, of course, be urged that the Sunday newspaper is a business concern, and that the journalist produces what he finds is read. The excuse is unworthy and unwarranted. The working classes have made no demand for the ephemeral matter placed before them on Sunday mornings, and it is well to bear in mind that one can scarcely look to the working classes to raise the tone of their press. Rather ought we to look to the press to ply the weapons in its hands with all the energy and talent possible, with a view to awakening the working classes to higher ideals and the virtues of self-reliance and self-restraint, and not to court popularity by unmeasured and unjustifiable criticism of people who have made their position by conscientious industry, or of things which, if not of Utopian perfection, are yet not so black as interested agitators paint them. Whatever influence the working-class press may have exercised in the past, one thing is certain—as the masses open their eyes more and more to facts, that influence will probably expand. It is, then, the bounden duty of the press which finds its chief patrons among the labourers, the artisans, and the mechanics of England to beware of leading them astray, morally, politically, or socially.

EDWARD G. SALMON.

1

FRANCE AND THE NEW HEBRIDES.

ANNEXATION in the Pacific is fast becoming a momentous problem, the solution of which bristles with difficulties and imperils the entente cordiale at present existing between Great Britain and foreign Powers. The subject is not only playing a prominent part in the great diplomatic drama of European politics, but is tending to shake the confidence that for more than half a century has existed between the Australian Colonies and the mother country.

Important as the question is to the prestige of Great Britain and the future welfare of Australasia, it is looked at by the Imperial authorities and by the Colonial communities from somewhat different standpoints.

This is not unnatural, for wbile the annexing or giving up of islands in the Pacific may involve the Imperial Government in awkward questions of foreign policy, to our Colonies the matter is one of domestic importance, affecting not only the trade of their country, but the future safety of their shores.

France already possesses very considerable influence in the Pacific. In the great maritime highway between Panama and Auckland, commonly called the Eastern Pacific, the French possessions comprise the Marquesas, the Tahitian Archipelago, and the Leeward Islands.

(1) The Marquesas, a group of eleven islands, were ceded to France by a treaty with Admiral Dupetit-Thouars in May 1842. Here for some time a military garrison was kept up, but the French Government finding such an establishment more expensive than necessary, finally abandoned it on the 1st of January, 1859.

The Tahitian Archipelago may be subdivided thus:

(a) Tahiti Moorea, Tetiaroa, Meetia, Tubai, Raivavae, the Gambier islets, and Rapa, an important island, not so much from a commercial point of view as on account of its harbour, which has been described-possibly by an enthusiast—as one of the finest natural harbours in the world.'

(6) The Low Archipelago, also known as the Paumotu group, a vast collection of coral islands extending over sixteen degrees of longitude, numbering seventy-eight islands, and covering an area of 6,600 square kilomètres, chiefly valuable for their mother-of-pearl trade.

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Admiral Thouars seized Tahiti in August 1842, and during the following year this island was, at the request of its queen and principal chiefs, placed under a French protectorate. On the 29th of May, 1880, King Pomaré the Fifth handed over the administration of Tahiti and its dependencies to M. Chesse, commissioner of the Republic. The cession was duly ratified by the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, and on the 30th of September, 1880, the President of the French Republic declared :

(a) The island of Tahiti and the archipelagoes depending upon it to be French colonies.

(6) French nationality to be conferred in full upon all the former subjects of the king of Tahiti.

Tahiti is now the centre of government of the French establishments in the Eastern Pacific.

(3) The Leeward Islands. Soon after the establishment of the French protectorate over Tahiti in 1843, a dispute arose between Great Britain and France relative to the islands of Huahine, Raiatea, and Borabora, three large islands in the vicinity of the Society group, commonly called the Leeward Islands. The matter was definitely settled between Lord Palmerston and Comte de Jarnac by the Treaty of 1847, in which the two Governments reciprocally engaged :

1. Formally to acknowledge the independence of the islands Huahine, Raiatea, Borabora (to the leeward of Tahiti), and of the small islands adjacent to and dependent upon those islands.

2. Never to take possession of the said islands, nor of any one or more of them, either absolutely or under the title of a protectorate, or in any other form whatever.

3. Never to acknowledge that a chief or prince reigning at Tahiti can at the same time reign in any one or more of the other islands above mentioned, nor, the other hand, that a chief or prince reigning in any one or more of those other islands can reign at the same time in Tahiti, the reciprocal independence of the islands above-mentioned and of the island of Tabiti and its dependencies being established as a principle.

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In 1882, however, in direct contravention of articles 1 and 2 of this declaration, the French flag was hoisted at Raiatea, and a provisional protectorate assumed over that island by the French authorities of Tahiti. True, this proceeding was disavowed by the French Government, but Sir Charles Dilke, in answer to a question put to him in the House of Commons on this point, admitted that the French authorities had seized the opportunity to open negotiations for the abrogation of the Treaty of 1847 in consideration of adequate concessions on our part in connection with other pending questions. How far the much-vexed question of the Newfoundland fisheries was allowed to enter into the settlement of this matter I am not in a position to determine. One thing is certain, that the French flag is

| The population of the French establishments in the Eastern Pacific is over 25,000.

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