26 APRIL 1890, Page 6


MR. BLAINE'S dream of bestowing upon the United States a political and commercial hegemony over the whole of the American Continent has melted into air, and nothing remains to testify to the imperial project which caused the assembly of the Pan-American Congress but an abstract resolution in favour of arbitration, and a strangely striking public avowal of the utter want of sympathy that exists between the ideas of English-speaking and Spanish-speaking Americans. Mr. Blaine, wishing to give the guests of the Republic what he considered a specially "good time," engaged a sumptuous train of palace-cars and "sleepers," and as a preliminary to the meeting of the Congress, proceeded to drag the delegates up and down the Eastern and Western States, showing them a succession of " mammoth " works, factories, and "pig-yards," and bidding them admire the wonders of American progress and enterprise. To increase the pleasure of the visitors of the Republic, no pains and no expense were spared, the whole of the scheme being, to borrow a national expression, "waltzed through regardless." Yet, in spite of the genuine intention to delight them everywhere displayed, the grave, quiet, and essentially aristocratic, though possibly not high-born, Americanos became utterly weary of their enter- tainment, and before it was half over, begged for a rest. After the rising of the Congress, it was intended to com- plete the performance by a tour through the Southern States ; but the prospect of more sight-seeing was too frightful to be endured, and only two delegates out of the whole number appeared in answer to the invitation. This, however, was too small a contingent to fete effectively, and accordingly Mr. BlaMe countermanded the arrangements for the trip.

The fact that the South American statesmen were so little interested by the triumphs of American civili- sation, suggests the explanation of the complete failure of Mr. Blaine's whole project. That able and restless politician, who is quite as great a Jingo and almost as magnificent a dreamer as Lord Beaconsfield, con- ceived a scheme of empire for his countrymen which, if we regard it purely from the intellectual standpoint, must be pronounced one of the boldest and most compre- hensive ever planned. Like many other imperially minded Englishmen on either side of the Atlantic, he believes that the Anglo-Saxon race must ultimately be supreme from Behring Straits to Cape Horn, and his fingers itched to begin the work of founding the inevitable supremacy. The Spanish and Portuguese Americans must, he concluded, be willing to recognise the fate in store for them, and would probably be only too glad to seize upon an oppor- tunity for falling into line behind their mighty neighbour. The great Republic had, then, only to offer to unite them to her and to each other by treaties of alliance, and the first step would be speedily and easily accomplished. But Mr. Blaine would not have been the "cute" " Yankee he is, if he had not formed a practical as well as an ideal scheme. He wanted the "Sisterhood of Republics" to formally recognise the leadership of the Northern race ; but he also wanted to make a commercial deal of a kind which would further the interest of his own political party. At present, the great danger to which the Republicans are exposed is the possible collapse of Protection. The high tariff has had its natural and necessary result in driving American goods out of the neutral markets. As long as the policy of Protection prevails, the American and English manufacturer do not meet on equal terms, and the success of the latter is assured. As may be supposed, this causes a great deal of restlessness and uneasiness in the States,—the practical lesson -drawn from hard fact making more converts to Free-trade than any amount of abstract reasoning. This circumstance seems to have struck Mr. Blaine, and he accordingly endeavoured to find some means for conquering a portion of the neutral markets of the world for his own "country. But, granted it possible to make treaties of Reciprocity with the South American Republics under which they would admit goods from the United States without duty, but erect a tariff- wall between themselves and the rest of the world, this desired end would be accomplished. South American competition would not be even perceived by the Eastern manufacturers ; while American iron, glass, cloth, and linen would command the markets of Mexico, Brazil, Chili, and the Plate ; and as a consequence, the most dangerous portion of the cry for Free-trade would be silenced for the next twenty years. It was, then, with the double object of taking the first step, however small, towards establishing a hegemony for the United States throughout the Western hemisphere, and of acquiring the command of new markets, that Mr. Blaine summoned the Pan-American Congress, and instructed his supporters in the Press and on the platform to proclaim the " smart- ness " of his scheme. Unfortunately for Mr. Blaine, he is one of those men who seem able neither to thoroughly understand their own countrymen, nor yet to appreciate the feelings of foreigners. If we mistake not, the majority of Americans felt ashamed of the Pan-American Congress, just as Englishmen would have felt ashamed of it. The Anglo-Saxon likes, no doubt, to possess power, and to take the lead ; but he always hates both to seem to do it, and to hear it talked about. An imperial emblem, to please him, must be painted drab, and called by an evasive name. That is why the system of acquiring and ruling an Empire by means of a Trading Company gave such universal satisfaction. But Mr. Blaine not only failed to understand the sentiment of his race : he failed to see that he was offering the South Americans something they did not in the least wish to obtain. The notion of hegemony they were much too proud not to resent, even though it was nominally kept well out of sight ; while the commercial proposals were at once rejected as giving them dear manufactures without any compensating advantages.

In truth, the Pan-American Congress proved a gigantic fiasco,—one, too, which, if the Americans were not too busy to remember it for more than twenty-four hours, would greatly injure Mr. Blaine's prestige. As it is, we expect that the failure of the Reciprocity scheme will do an amount of injury to the Protectionist cause which could easily be underestimated. When those who are dissatisfied with the present export trade of America see that the scheme for getting hold of the neutral markets without relaxing Protection has ended in smoke, and that no reliance is to be placed on any such proposals, it is by no means improbable that they may develop a strong in- clination towards trying the alternative of Free-trade. Puck, the New York Punch, and quite Punch's equal in ability, suggests this notion in a very clever cartoon. South American Trade, depicted as a woman, is lying back in her chair in a swoon ; while Mr. Blaine tries to revive her with a bellows marked "Wind," and an assistant waves a fan inscribed with the words, "Pan-American Congress." In the foreground, Puck, who always plays the deus-ece-machinci parts given with us to Mr. Punch, produces a bottle of "Free-trade elixir" as the "safe cure." Nor are there wanting independent signs —Puck is a thoroughgoing Free-trade organ—that the Protection shoe is beginning to pinch intolerably. The revision of the tariff has raised enemies in scores for Protection, as it was bound to do. For example, to please the farmer it was proposed to put up the duty on hides, a suggestion which infuriated the bootmakers, who, though they do not want Protection for themselves, are determined not to have their raw material taxed. The Western farmers, again, are apparently beginning to realise that they are the tortoise on whom the whole fabric rests. While they were advancing in prosperity, they ignored the fact ; but now that land is depressed, and that mortgagees are foreclosing on all sides, and creditors are selling up the nominal owners with far more promptitude than even the Irish landlord of Nationalist fictions, things are beginning to look some- what differently. A strong building may no doubt bear many a bad shake without collapsing, and we by no means desire to prophesy a near end to the tariff. Still, the fact remains that the restlessness of the "plain man" is in- creasing, and that the Protectionists, as if resolved to hasten the end, are crying aloud for even more "Protection" than they enjoy at present.