agriculture, and regard it as their most valuable industry, he
i)rscomiA.GP:Rs and pessimists 221
will reply, " Ah, it's all vuiy well for tlicm, they liave been at
it for years, and know what they are up to ; but liow, in the
name of foruiue, can you expect agriculture to pay when you
can import wheat, bacon, butter, cheese, and everything else
cheaper from a dozen countries than yon can grow or produce
them for yourself? If agriculturists cannot make it pay how
can you expect townsfolk to nuke good farmers; what do tliey
know about it ? Take it from me you'll dro]) your money if
you try that game.
BllITISlI InDUSTUIAL WoIJKEUS Ol'l'OSED TO
Last, but by no means least, comes that great array of
British workers who toil in towns.
The report of the Chief Inspector of Factories and Work-
shops for 1907, issued on July 17, l'.)08, shows that last year
there were 107,321 factories, 146,917 workshops, and 7,210
laundries under inspection in the United Kingdom.
The total number of workers was more than 5,500,000,
and of these 1,043,824 were women and children.
Deducting the women and children from that total, we arc
left with 3,850,170 men who, however much tlieir views in
favour of Tariff Keform may have changed, would practically
vote solid for no change in tlie fiscal and economical conditions
which environ agriculture to-day, liecause of the belief that
ilieir interests are best served by maintaining them. This is
aliogetlier a fallacious view, and, indeed, disastrous to their
cause ; but as this matter is dealt with in other chapters there
is no need to discuss it h^re.
This powerful section of the community naturally exercises
enormous influence over the ([uestion by assuming an attitude
hostile to the establishment of national agriculture ; but as
many of them have at length been brought to realise that Tariff
licform may serve their purpose more effectually than Free
Trade, so will they soon recognise that tlie existence of an
immense universal system of agriculture in this country is
no more incompatible with the existence, or with the expansion,
of manufacturing industries than it is in every other civilised
country on earth.
Ignorance Kules the Situation
Ignorance that is crass and widespread rules the situation
to-day, and all is darkness where there should be light, but
there are, fortunately, signs of dawn on the horizon and the
222 BRITAIN FOR THE BRITON
promise of glad simshine. The sooner a brighter day dawns
the better will it be for England.
Looking at this much discussed and sorely misunderstood
question in this way there certainly seems, at first sight, but
little hope of making anything of it. "We are met all aloug
the line with such a veritable host of discouragers, and others
who are influenced by self-interests, that what we regarded as
a perfectly simple matter, indeed as the common experience
and the common knowledge of the human race of an industry
that is as old as the hills, and as well understood as the simple
law that water will run down a hill but not up it, now seems
to be invested with all sorts of difficulties which reduce us
well-nigh to despair. Our friends and acquaintances cannot
help us because the greater part of them are liopelessly ignorant
of a question which should be as widely understood as the ftict
that it is more economical to turn raw cotton into calico than
to leave it standing in the fields; while the majority of the
people are entirely influenced by what the discouragers say, or
by those who have private interests to serve.
If we turn to that popular educator — the Press — for help,
we find that, with a few notable exceptions, the newspapers
offer little encouragement to, nor advocate, a universal system
of agriculture. Between this host of pessimists, dissuaders, and
others, those who hunger after the land find themselves between
the " devil and the deep sea," and so they leave the land to
look after itself, just as it has been left for the last half century
and more, uncared for, profitless, and a standing reproach to
Now, whatever may be said to the contrary by this formid-
able host of discouragers, there is not only money in the land,
but good money, too. But, like money that is found in every
other industry, it has to be sought after, properly located, and
then dug out by hard, honest work, and the application of
the self-same essentials to success — brains, skill, enterprise,
assiduity, and the rest of it, as are necessary to success in other
The Eoad to Success
We are never likely to succeed in anything in this world
unless we first of all form clear conceptions of what it is we
Wish to essay ; satisfy ourselves that the thing is reasonably
practical, that it, indeed, forms one of the well-known occupa-
tions of human life, and that it offers to the essayer every
reasonable chance of success.
This is the attitude assumed by all sorts and conditions
of men when dealing with economical questions of every
DISCOURAGErvS AND PESSIMISTS 223
description, aud, obviously, it is the (nily rational attitude that
can be assumed in regard to agriculture.
" Is this a practical industry ? Can it be made to pay ? "
are the only two questions that shrewd business men in every
conceivable economic condition at the present time ever find
it necessary to ask. The question — " Can it be made to pay ? " —
is the only one that concerns us here, because agriculture, as a
widespread industry, is too well known to render any other
Agriculture can be made to pay as every other industry
can, but no industry, however common it may be, is likely
to succeed unless those engaged in it possess the necessary
essentials to success. Two men may start in the boot and
shoe manulacturing business, for example, each of them being
equipped with the necessary capital and knowledge of the
trade. One succeeds and the other fails — why ? Tlie answer
is simple enough — because the one who succeeds knows what
he has to do and how to do it, and the other does not.
Two men may start farming under precisely similar con-
ditions, the one succeeds and the other man makes a mess
of his venture — why ? Because one has all the essentials
to success, namely assiduity, the faculty of absorbing know-
ledge and assimilating experience, coupled with industry aud
thrift, and the other lacks some or all of these necessary
qualifications. What other result but failure for the one
and success for the other can tliere be under such conditions ?
Aud so it is all through life. You may do your best to
equalise opportunities so as to give every man the same chance,
but you are bound to fail, because those who start in the race
vary so widely in temperament, ability, and those qualities
which make for success, that even a handicap becomes
Misconceptions about Aguicultuhe
Agriculture itself is a case in point. The common belief
is that the land industry in this country is so hopeless as
to be practically a negligible quantity in the economy of the
nation ; yet, in spite of this widespread idea, agriculture is still
by far tlie largest aud most important industry of the country,
inasmuch as, in spite of the fatuous agricultural policy of
the past, it still engages a greater head of the population than
any two of our largest industries put together, namely, tli^c
whole of the textile iimaufavtures and the miniiuj indiidri/.
That there are successful farmers and unsuccesstul ones
is as certain as that tliere are successes and failures in otlior
224 BRITAIN FOn THE BRITON
iudustries ; but this only exemplilics the fact that agriculture
has its ups aud downs, and that those engaged in it must take
their chances like other men.
No man in his senses can, in face of the overwhelming
evidence in favour of agriculture being still our greatest
industry, legitimately assert that there is no money in the
land, tiiat it does not pay, that it is altogether a quantUe
ncfjllgeaUc, because such a contention would argue that all
who have been engaged in the industry during the last tifty
years and are engaged in it still, are fools, and have only been
throwing good money after bad all that time. Few there are
who would be bold enough to assume so indefensible a position.
The Tkutii about Agriculture
If we delve down to the stable foundation of solid truth we
shall find that, in spite of the fact that everything has been
done Ijy the Governments of the past to ruin the land industry
and to discourage agriculturists in every possible manner, the
land may still be regarded by capable, hard-working, thrifty
persons as a calling by which men may make a decent living.
To assert, however, tliat the industry is in a flourishing con-
dition because some of those engaged in it do fairly well, would
be as foolish as to contend that there is no money in it because
all do not make a fortune, or because some en^aued in it fail.
It is the fashion to believe that there is no money in
agriculture, and that it could not be worked profital)ly, even
if it were conducted with the same skill and energy aud Ixicked
up by ample capital as other industries are. Let us, however,
briefly examine this view of the case and see if there is a real
truth underlying the belief!
In the flrst place we must not overlook the important fact
that up to this period agriculture has not been v/orked on the
same lines as other industries. For years past the land has
been farmed chiefly by poor, unenterprising men who, if they
had the will, certainly had not the power of spending large
sums of money in fortifying their lands with those manures
which are necessary in maintaining their maximum produc-
tiveness, or in e(]^uipping themselves with all those costly,
up-to-date agricultui-al labuur-saving machines and implements
that are essential in economical production. This fact is
exemplified by the reduced yield per acre in wheat, for example,
and in the primitive agricultural methods that are still followed
in many parts of Great Britain.
This IS an age of progress, of push and enterprise, and if
farmers stand still where other men press onwards with energy
mSCOURAGERR AND PRSSIMISTS 225
and ever-increasiug vigour, can it be wondered at il' tiiey lull
behind in the race ?
Is it reasonable, then, to expect other results from agricul-
ture than those wliich the country is familiar with ? If the
industry is starved for want of capital, and the soil remains
poor and tliin, what right has the farmer to expect good proiits
and rich abundant crops ? If he fails to put money into the
land, what hope has he of getting money out of it ? As he
sows, so must lie reap !
On the other hand, the farmer has a deep-rooted grievance
against past and present Governments for that sore neglect of
his industry which has been so often referred to in these
pages ; a state of affairs which, while being prejudicial to
complete success, does not necessarily render partial success
Moke Grotesque Beliefs
There are, indeed, all sorts of strange misconceptions
abroad in regard to the land, and not one of the least of them
is that almost anybody is good enough for an agriculturist.
This idea is so prevalent that it extends probably to four-tifths
of the people, but there is no more justilication for such a
belief than there would be if it were applied to any other
Every occupier of a suburban villa with his narrow strip of
back garden, and every labouring man with his eighth of an
acre in "The Workman's Plots," fancies himself an agricul-
turist, but neither of them has more right to the title than has
the man, who occasionally scans the midnight heavens with a
pair of binoculars, to call himself an astronomer.
Dabbling in a back garden with spade or pruning-knife, or
growing a few potatoes or cabbages in a town plot, certainly
affords one glimpse of agriculture, but it requires deeper
insight and wider experience than this to make a successful
A hundred years ago it was said by one of our great novelists
that all the fools of tlie family were pitchforked into the Navy ;
to-day the fool of the family considers himself good enough for
With such ])revalent misconceptions as these, there is no
wonder that, although most of us have been more or less
familiar with the land, in some form or other, all our lives,
either through the medium of our back garden or through some
other feeble connecting link, there is, nevertheless, widespread
ignorance among the people as to the agricultural industry and
its up-to-date requirements. It is, moreover, clear enough that
226 r.RITAIN FOR THE BRITON
unless every misconception in respect hereto be removed and
a more rational view of the entire question set up in their
place, agriculture will continue to pine and languish.
Success only Possible to those who command it
What right has any man to expect that, unless he applies
the same brains, knowledge, experience, skill, capital, assiduity,
and energy to agriculture as must necessarily be applied to all
other industries before success can be hoped for, he will succeed?
Why should ignorance, want of knowledge, lack of experi-
ence, shortage of capital, combined very frequently with feeble
effort, absence of assiduity, and a flabby conception of thrift,
hope to succeed in agriculture when it is well known that such
an undesirable stock-in-trade would be bound to ensure failure
in every other industry ?
Once these misconceptions are understood by those engaged,
or wish to become engaged, in agriculture, there is no reason
why a man should not make a decent living, even under the
present foolish and malign conditions with which past wrong-
headedness has invested the industry.
But, let it be organised under proper tenures, assisted by the
State, and helped onward by co-operation, support, and sympathy,
and the people given the same chances of working agricul-
ture to the best possible results as are given in every country
of the world — except our own — and the city clerk and his
typist wife, the grocer's assistant, the Manchester warehouse-
man and lawyer's clerk, the briefless barrister, the struggling
doctor, the penniless literati, and a host of other earnest,
willing, and capable men who now suffer from a congested
labour market in all trades and professions, will have an
excellent opportunity of turning their talents to account.
Failures there are bound to be in agriculture as there are in
every industry, but the capable man who essays agriculture is
bound to rise if the chance be given him.
Demand creates Supply in all Industpjes
It is just here that your discourager waxes eloquent. " How
do you propose to find several millions of capable agriculturists
out of the overplus of your town populations whicli must
necessarily include the dregs of the unemployed and the unem-
ployaNe ? Nice farmers they would make," says lie. The answer
is simple enough. There is no proposal to permit so valuable
an asset in the national economy as the Land to be seized upon
Ijy the dregs of the unemployed, or by wastrels of any degree.
DISCOURAGERS AND PESSIMISTS 227
The land will be reserved for Uie sober, thrifty, diligent, and
intelligent citizen, to whom every encouragemeut and State aid
will be accorded, but to no o/hcrs ; and if, out of the vast
numbers of English people who would gladly settle on the
land if reasonable opportunities were oHered, there cannot be
got together a great, capable agricultural population, the world,
for the first time in history, will witness an unique economical
New Manufacturing Industries find no Lack of Labour
Compared with the honourable eld of agriculture, most of
our scientific discoveries, tlie invention of mechanical contriv-
ances and their application to manufacturing processes, are but
things of yesterday — of a brief sixty years or so — and yet there
is no lack of skilled labourers in our great urban industries.
If millions of capable workers can spring up with so rapid a
growth as to fulfil the exigent and difficult demands of new
manufacturing industries, it is obvious there cannot possibly be
any difficulty in getting men to fulfil the requirements of a
simple industry like agriculture — with which man has been
familiar even before the dawn of history.
There is, one way and another, so much premeditated or
unconscious hostility to agriculture in this country from so
many directions that the wonder is, not that it is in a languishing
condition, but that it is alive at all.
That it docs exist is due neither to Governments nor to the
people, but to agriculturists themselves who, despite the cruel
blows dealt to their industry by the administrations of the last
sixty years, have held to it tenaciously. This fact alone offers
the best proof of the stability of agriculture, of its indestructi-
bility and, therefore, of the necessity of regarding it as the
primal industry ; and it must be clear to all who will not permit
their vision to be obscured by political prejudice or party bias,
that if agriculture has not entirely succumbed to the destructive
processes which have been directed against it for more than
half a century, and it is still by far the greatest industry of the
day, the greatest employer of labour, the greatest Life-giver and
the cleanest, wholesomest, and most manly industry of them all :
it must necessarily be the industrial fulcrum upon which all
other industries move and rotate.
Much is being done to make the people acquainted with
these things, and the sooner their eyes are opened to them, the
sooner will the dawn of better times appear.
THE INSENSATE " PARTY " SYSTEM IN PARLIAMENT —
COGENT REASONS FOR DRASTIC REFORM — A BAR
TO REFORM AND A MENACE TO NATIONAL
In discussing the grave results of the present party system, the
writer was recently asked by a friend, " What would you
substitute for the Party system ? " " Boil it down," he said,
" transmute it, reduce it to an irreducible quantity, and you
would still have — a Party."
This is true ; there would still be — a Party. You cannot
have a one-man State nor a one-man Government ; the thini; is
No Government of the past in any great country in tlie
world ever consisted of one man, and no Government of the
present time, nor in the future — so far as we may determine
the future by to-day's standards — will be a one-man Govern-
ment. Xo man wants a one-man Government, nor is it likely
that such a Government would be a good one if it were possible
to have it.
There is, however, a vast difference between a " one-man
show " in the form of a Government, or even a Government
attenuated to an irreducible minimum, and the party-ridden
form of government we have been accustomed to in this party-
The Abuse of the Party System
There have always been political parties in every civilised
State, and it is more than probable there always will be. The
political party, qua i>arty, is not in itself objectionable, but it is
the terrible abuse of political power that has grown up and
around the party principle and which has wrought such in-
calculable harm to the nation, that the people are beginning to
The party in power, for the time being, instead of being left
THE INSENSATE "PARTY" SYSTEM IN TAKLIAMENT 229
free to devote their brains and energies to the true interests
of the commonweal, are more concerned with watching the
movements of tlie Opposition than with framing measures of
Then the party out of power are practically concerned only
with the one absorbing question ;is to how and when they can
turn their op])onents out <»f office.
Is it possible tliat national interests can be furtliered when
the party in office is afraid Lo embark on any course of real
and much-needed reform because of the dread that their
opponents out of ofHce may make })olitical capital out of it ?
Does it not become abundantly manifest that under such a
suicidal system there can be no hope to-day, nor at any future
time, of any real lasting good resulting from so pernicious a
state of affairs, because of the paralysing effect that such
a system must necessarily have upon human effort ?
What Government, harassed by tlie present system, and
working always under the lash of the Opposition, fearing even
the censure and perhaps the defection of some of its OAvn
followers, can possibly work in the real interests of the
Is it likely that, under so impossible a condition, any
Government, of whatsoever denomination, can carry through
any measure that w^ould really benefit tlie people ?
Is it not highly probable, nay, indeed certain, that every
liill brought up for consideration, instead of being framed in
that broad, liberal setting which is essential in all questions of
real national reform, must necessarily be drawn up in a manner
simply to disarm criticism and give the Opposition the least
})0ssible chance of making capital out of it ?
Is it possible that national legislation, conducted in so craven
a spirit, and aiming only at half-hearted, palliatory measures,
can ever result in real good ?
Instead, however, of dealing with abstract principles, let us
reduce this question to one simple concrete example.
Evil Effect of Pakty System : A Conceete Example
Let us take, as an illustration of the grave question we are
considering, the case of a mechanical engineer who has been
employed by a large })ublic company to put together the seem-
ingly complicated yet perfectly simple parts of a mighty engine
which lie scattered a])road on the floor of a great factory.
The engineer is an expert and knows exactly what to do
and how to do it, and if left to himself the work would soon be
230 BRITAIN FOR THE BRITON
Unfortunately, however, there is a lar<^'C Board oi' Directors,
whose interests are not altogether identical. Some ])ull one
■way and some another, and what with conflicting interests,
clique serving, jealousy, seltishness, obstructiveness, and general
interference, the expert finds it impossible to get on, and he is
compelled to give up his work.
Another expert takes his place, but the attitude of the
Directors remains unchanged ; each man has his own particular
axe to grind ; the Board is s})lit up into two separate parties ;
work is retarded ; the business of the company suffers, and,
between one thing and another, the unfortunate shareholders
are well-nigh ruined.
This is but an example of what takes place not infrequently
in the commercial world. Many a good business has been
ruined by bad management, and many a public company has
been brought to grief either by an incompetent Board of
Directors or by men who had some narrow, selfish purpose of
their own to serve.
As with men, so it is with Governments. You can no more
carry on the business of a nation with one party of the national
directors pulling one way and another party pulling in the
opposite direction, than you can satisfactorily conduct the
business of a firm under similar conditions.
The Pakty System an Impossibility
Yet this is precisely what we are trying to do every day in
our National Board of Direction.
The members comprising that Board are disunited. They
are split up into two distinct parties, each forming a faction
professedly hostile to the other. Their interests are diametri-
cally opposed to each other, and their antagonism is such as to
preclude the possiljility of the party out of office helping on the
national business by supporting or encouraging the efforts of the
party in office.
It is, indeed, a point of honour and of duty with the party
out of power that every measure, whether it be good, bad, or in-
different, brought up for consideration by the office-bearers for
the time being, shall be as vehemently attacked and as violently
opposed as though it were some effort to defeat the ends of
justice and ruin the nation.
The British Constitution provides for a system of govern-
ment whereunder there shall be two political parties, one of
which shall carefully watch the proceedings of the other, so
that a salutary check may be exercised over the proceedings of
the party in office for the time being. It is a most excellent
THE INSENSATE " PAKTY " SYSTEM IN PARLIAMENT 231
system and a necessary one, and nobody objects to it in principle.
Theoretically, it is sound enough, but in practice it has proved