THE POLITICAL EFFECT OF FOREIGN INVESTMENTS.
THERE is a singular change passing over the relation between capital and politics which deserves more than a passing remark. The capitalists of the world are losing all the advantages and some of the disadvantages of national feeling. Up to 1840 no class of society were so patriotic, or in international questions so full of localism, as the owners of property, more especially in Great Britain. Merchants, ship- owners, landowners, all the class which had profited greatly by trade, all who had money to invest, were earnest, of ten savagely earnest, for the power and honour of their own country. Every other was a rival intending to steal away some of her profits, or bribe Englishmen to foster future enemies by applying capital abroad. Dutch extension in the Archipelago was to every East India merchant detestable, and France was to be put down, not only out of national feeling, but to prevent competition in sugar. Merchants subscribed thousands to keep up the anti-Revolutionary war, every gain of a foreign power was discussed with angry jealousy, and the rich felt that their riches were involved in British political superiority. National feeling and property feeling went together. Within twenty years that spirit has passed away so utterly that this generation fails to realize, still more to understand, its old intensity. The whole world has been thrown open as a field for investment, and English capital is flowing over the whole world. The political propriety of a foreign loan can hardly be discussed without ridicule ; it is an investment, and for investment a Russian loan raised to pay for an invasion of Hungary is indefinitely better than an Italian one raised to liberate Venetia. English investments in America have increased till they affect all the financial policy of the Union. In Germany the railways are being built mainly with English money, and English capitalists have had a large share in rebuilding the provincial capitals of France. Great sums have been sunk in Spain, and greater will be sown in Italy, while in Scandinavia, including Den- mark, the little accomplished is all due to British cash. No country in Europe can now be assailed either by war, or revo- lution, or financial disaster, without immediate consequences, unpleasant and direct consequences, to our middle class, and there is every evidence that the process has only just begun. The speculators have nearly finished the railways, but they are just discovering the great secret that there are countries where money put into agriculture will return seven and ten per cent., while in England it returns three. Englishmen are beginning to hold vineyards, olive
- difficulty of communication, difficulties of tenure, difficulties in sociated from the people. A bit of its strength had, in fact, the selection of agency, are disappearing daily, and even now gone out necessarily, gone out of the nation. Baron Roths- one may almost as well hold land in Italy or France, or house child, we dare say, cares heartily about England, and so does property in America, or hunting property in Norway, as farms the Duke of Hamilton, or Lord Hertford, but is it possible for in England or Scotland. They are all pleasant things, for either to have that intensity of national feeling as against reasons other than the annual interest they yield, and they France which an ordinary squire has? Allow that national tend, as society in England becomes gorged, to become even feeling is bad, a mere form of localism—a proposition we pleasanter. Ownership is becoming cosmopolitan, and will utterly deny—and still the evil remains that between the mass within a few years very materially affect the politics of the of the people and the proprietors in many lands there will be world, a chasm of feeling. That chasm, of course, deepens as power For good or evil ? That question is considered by Man- passes from the middle class. We do not mean that the work-
eltster men to be settled beyond discussion, but we confess to men will not understand foreign countries as well as the shop- a lingering doubt. The facts are not quite in accordance with keepers. On the contrary, though their knowledge is less, the theory. The theory is that all this intercommunication their power of sympathy is greater, and they sometimes obtain
of purses, this rapport among pockets, this stretching of wires by perception the wisdom which the middle class gain only between till and till, tends at once to peace and enlighten- through knowledge. The workmen saw, for example,
talent, And that is in a degree true. Clearly a man who holds what the American struggle meant while the shopkeepers estates in two or three countries will be inclined, will indeed be were endorsing idiotic inventions about its true origin being forced, to understand more of those countries, will realize their the contest between protection and free trade. But their motives better, will be more reluctant to oppress them, will, sympathetic perceptiveness, though it often saves them from
as a foreign politician, be less narrow and less selfish. Mr. mistake, in no degree leads the workmen in the direction of Chowler himself would have a different view of the sin of ina- the capitalist, rather impels them in a contrary one. The porting corn if he had a corn-growing estate in Odessa, and capitalist, for instance, was in the case of Hungary much Englishmen with vineyards in the Bordelais are apt to see opposed to intervention, for he knew that Hungary really. the injustice of differential duties in favour of Portugal with needed Austrian support to secure her material civilization. most commendable clearness and freedom from prejudice. Let The middle class differed entirely, seeing in the whole tran- Lord Derby own an estate in Tuscany, and he will begin to saction nothing but tyranny, but still not liking an inter- think the Irish cottier who objects to eviction is not there- rupted trade or a great war, it was with the capitalist. The-
fore a leper among the clean, an exceptional being, to be workman was uninfluenced by either view, but was ready to,
exceptionally treated ; let him buy a block in Marseilles, and fight rather than allow a free people to be conquered, and had he will perceive that strong edileship might have unexpected he then held power, the chasm between him and the capitalist consequences in Liverpool, might, for example, pay the would have been as wide in action as it was between the ground landlord very well. We cannot buy coffee land in capitalist and the middle class in opinion. If we all shared Wynaad and be careless about roads in South India ; or in in the cosmopolitan influence of foreign investments their Ceylon, and not feel that a colonist, protesting against waste result might be unmixed good, but as we do not and shall not, of taxes, ought to be heard respectfully. The ballot seems to their result is to hamper the force of the nation by disuniting the British squire a subversive institution, but if he held opinion and shattering national sentiment. Cosmopolitan pasturage in Australia he would doubt whether, besides up- ownership will not secure peace, but it will weaken war. It setting morals, and Church and State, and liveries, the ballot will not prevent the army from fighting, but only make the did not enable the Conservative workmen to vote in a way officers half-hearted.
for which, non.Qonservative workmen, if they only knew it,
?roves, rice fields, pasture farms, and even ordinary corn-grow- would administer disagreeable discipline. All that is good, mg estates all over the Continent, the colonies, and the Indian and so in the abstract is the consequent disinclination. hills. There are men among us now to whom a blight in to war. It is very hard indeed that America should be Bordeaux, or an invasion of the coffee disease in Ceylon, or a impertinent, but if one owns a block in New York, firing change in the land-tax of Italy, or a strike in Assam, are of as on New York seems somehow a very wasteful folly. It direct and immediate an importance as a bad harvest in Sussex is like tearing your own hair because somebody else has wor- or a murrain in Yorkshire. It is becoming easy and profitable ried you, a relief, no doubt, but still one to be enjoyed only in- to by estates, say, for example, in Italy, where Baron Ricasoli a very limited form. Commerce has done much to make war will stretch any number of points to encourage English pur- unpleasant, and foreign ownership will do a great deal more. chases, and accordingly they are bought. Indeed, apart from All that is good, but then there is one enormous drawback profit, investment in land abroad must soon become a neces- The process tends to separate the capitalist still further from sity. Great Britain is too little for us all. What with the classes without capital, tends to create in the politics of the the attitude of the great proprietors, who will not sell world the chasm long since existing in the social affairs of at any price whatever, while they will buy without a thought Great Britain. The capitalists learn to judge foreign affairs of return, what with the ever increasing rush for land from a stand-point different from that of the people, a loftier as an element in social status, and what with the sense of the one, it may be, certainly a more tolerant one, but at all events . insecurity of all other investments,—a sense which seems to us one entirely distinct. There was a most remarkable instance to be growing in some odd way pan i passu with increased of this in the early history of the American war. The only readiness for temporary speculation,--land is ceasing to be an Northerners who then thoroughly understood the South were the attainable investment. The stream which, having filled up capitalists, men who had advanced money, founded banks, held England, ought to overflow Ireland, is checked there by two mortgages, worked slave properties in the Slave States. These. impressions, one true, the other ridiculously exaggerated— men saw, of course, what other people saw, but they could not
that the tenure of land there is not finally settled, and be convinced either of the necessity or the possibility of war. that life is unsafe. Nobody knows what a few agrarian They were Southern proprietors themselves, they under-0/0(A maunders have cost Irish landlords in ,eash, or how many the temptations offered by slavery, they knew the excuses id years' purchase the great owners are sacrificing by their be offered even for secession, and they could not believe in an refusal to come to terms with the tillers of the soil. Land armed struggle. And so, when it came, the North lost for in Ireland which ought to be worth forty years' purchase months the whole benefit of their aid, would have lost it is .not worth twenty, because buyers would rather sacrifice altogether, had not the South cut their own anchor cable by the difference by remaining in England or Scotland than confiscating Northern debts. The capitalists holding pro- run the risks of social disorder. If they are to run any they perty in both countries had become pro tanto denationalized, prefer the risk abroad, where their agents will not be shot, would submit to almost anything rather than consent to where the climate is pleasant, and where they enjoy all the throw torpedoes into their own tills. We do not mean advantages of double or triple citizenship. It is a proud thing to say that they were base. The rich are not baser than the in England to own estates in two or three counties, and that poor, are often less base, because they can stand a loss, but feeling is slowly expanding into a liking for ownership in two they obeyed their instincts, which were not those of the nation, or three countries. The thirst for investment, for security, and in obeying them not only weakened their own people, but for position, and for variety of life all tend in the same direc- gave the enemy all the hope to be derived from an apparent tion, and we look to see the period within this generation when division in the assailing force. In this instance they were no one will be really a great owner who has not an estate in wrong, but the British capitalists who did the same thing the North, and another in the Mediterranean, and another in in 1861, who in fact expressed themselves in the same sense Asia, like an old Roman noble. The obstacles to the process, through Mr. Baring, were right, but they were equally dis-