J. Morrison (John Morrison) Davidson.

New politics for the people. Let there be light! 1.-Religion. 2.-Politics. 3.-The family. 4.-Economics. 5.-Miscellanea .. online

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has ever since been scourged in accordance with
" law and order." Under pretence of restraining
extortion where the very poor were the pawners,
the Parliament of that day was actually at the
greatest pains to make them smart, in a direct ratio
to their poverty. The smaller the sum borrowed
and the shorter the time, the heavier the statutory
usury which the Act of 1S72 tliscreetly, but quite
erroneously, terms " profit." In respect of "loans
of ten shillings or under " the Schedules of the Act
set forth : —

The pawnbroker is entitled to charge for this ticket one half,
penny ; for pront on each two shillings or part of two shillings
lent on this pledge, for not more than one calendar month, one


halfpenny ; and so on at the same rate per calendar month. After
the first calendar month, any time not exceeding fourteen days
will be charged as half a month, and any time exceeding fourteen
days, and not more than one month, will be charged as one

The pawnbroker's true "profit" consists of a
ceaseless inllux of halfpennies "for this ticket,"
whose intrinsic cost is an entirely negligible quantity
that ought, in all conscience, to be borne by the
pawnee himself instead of the borrower, on whom,
indeed, until i860, it was not imposed, in case of
loans under five shillings. What is called his
"profit" in the Act is really his "usury" of one
halfpenny monthly for every unit of two shillings or
part of two shillings lent on the security of pledges
valued by the pawnbroker himself. In other words,
he lends, absolutely without risk, twenty-four pennies
for a month and receives in return, ticket-mulct and
usury together, one penny, or at the rate of 50 per
cent, per annum by order of a paternal Government !

Were the pledge to remain unredeemed till the
expiry of the allotted period of twelve months, the
pawner, it is true, would have to pay only sixpence-
halfpenny, or at the rate of twenty-seven per cent,
per annum, but it is precisely on the "parts" of
time and coin that he comes most seriously to grief.
Be the loan over or under the two shilling unit, the
pawnbroker "scores " equally gaily, thus : —

Rate per

Loan. Period. cent, per an.

2S. od. Two weeks 108^

2S. od. One week 2i6'l

28. od Three days 505J

IS. 6d. Three days 676

IS. od Three days 1,014

Make the 2s. 2s. 3d. for three days, and 171 per
cent, is added to the tribute exacted from Lazarus.
Reduce him, on the other hand, to a loan of 6d., and
he pays at the rate of 2,068 per cent, per annum !
And worse — with the growth of this enlightened nine-

"THE POOR man's BANK:" " UNCLE." 123

teenth century the evil has grown, or rather has
been progressively enhanced of set legislative pur-
pose : —

Act of 1800 Act of i860 Act of 1872

Loan 2S. 6d. — Gain §d. ... ^d. ... id.

Time, 3 days' ticket Nil. ... id. ... jid.
Rate per cent, per an. 192 ... 384 ... 576

Week in week out, the business transacted by
" Uncle " is enormous — at the rate of ten pledges per
head of the population, it is computed, or four
hundred millions a year. All are fish that come to
" Uncle's " net, high and low, rich and poor, but the
poor especially in overwhelming proportions. They,
like the poor in the Gospel, "are always with"
" Uncle," but most of all in times of adversity.
"Strikes," "lock-outs," low wages, no wages, sick-
ness, accidents, bereavements, all bring grist to
** Uncle's " mill. When other shopkeepers sink, the
pawnbroker swims buoj'^antly on the crest of a wave
of prosperity.

His twofold "profit ' on ticket and loan is good,
but it is not the only arrow in his quiver. He has
another, in case of loans under ten shillings, still
more killing. Such pledges become the " absolute
property of the pawnbroker," if not redeemed within
the statutory twelve months. It is consequently his
interest to undervalue articles (and he does it, of
course) on the chance that in time they will become
his " absolute property," a contingency, in many in-
stances, to be calculated on with the utmost certainty.

But if the amount loaned exceeds ten shillings his
position is apparently somewhat less enviable. He
has then got to sell by auction and, if the pawner
turn up " within three years," by paying a penny he
is entitled to inspect a record of the sale, and the
pawnbroker must hand him over the surplus, if any.
Needless to say, however, " the trade " has learned
so to manipulate the sales as to reduce them to a

124 "THE POOK man's BANK:" "UNCLE."

farce in which the pawner invariably comes out at
the small end of the horn.

London thus describes " Uncle's Tactics " in respect
of statutory "auctions," and it does not exaggerate : —

While the sale is on the pawnbroker holds a seat by the side
of the auctioneer, and, with his privilege of bidding, takes good
care that the articles fetch a fuil price, otherwise he buys them
back again. There is really no desire at all on the part of many
of the pawnbrokers to sell particular articles scheduled in the
catalogue, and they buy them back with amazing rapidity.
Diamonds, pearls, sets of gold watches and cases of valuable
rings are mostly taken back again. That is certainly the case
unless a certam price is realised. The pawnbrokers compete
against the private bidder, but frequently favour the dealers.
The business is often worked in rings, for directly particular
dealers begin bidding the pawnbroker stops running up the price.

The auction business is in the hands of a few firms who are
on very good terms with, and, in some cases, related to, the
pawnbrokers. There is, undoubtedly, collusion frequently, and
the dealers and pawnbrokers arrange which articles they will
have. It is a farce to say that the sales are public. The general
public get little opportunity to attend, and if an outsider goes
and bids, he is bowled out by a combination of pawnbrokers or
dealers, or he is made to pay a prodigious price for an article.
Should he land the article on the hands of any of the ring they
combine to pay the loss. The sales in London are rarely adver-
tised except in the Pawnbrokers' Gazette, where they come under
the eyes only of members of the trade. A pawner who has
allowed his article to go unredeemed for over a year, may claim
the surplus which may arise from the sale of it. Pawnbrokers
themselves admit that this surplus is rarely claimed. They
manage, as a rule, to show, even on the rare occasions when
claims are made, that the article has involved them in a loss.
It is obviously in the interest of the pawnbroker to |buy the
articles back at a low price and sell them in his shop.

The fraternity are always telling us that they advance a greater
amount on articles than do the (Continental) Monts de Piete.
This is one of Uncle's little schemes to make people believe that
he is a public benefactor. On all articles that are likely to sell
well in his shop he advances as little as possible. It is obvious,
supposing there is no collusion between pawnbroker and auction-
eer, no understanding between pawnbroker and dealer, and
supposing that the sale is attended by the public generally, that
Uncle has still the advantage all round. He possesses informa-
tion which no one else does ; he knows what the articles were

"THE POOR man's BANK:" "UNCLE." I25

pawned for. He has it in front of him marked in his catalogue.
He knows exactly how to act to benefit himself. Under such
circumstances full and fair competition — such as exists in the
sale of unredeemed pledges on the Continent — is impossible.

If the loan is over £i the pawner is practically free
to make the best terms he can with the pawnee.
Under that amount he enjoys the " protection " of
the State, such as I have described it. Its under-
lying principle may be accurately summed up in the
text : " Unto him that hath shall be given, and from
him that hath not shall be taken away even that he

London has evidently got up its case with great
thoroughness, both at home and abroad, and it is
with profound melancholy that one reads such a
passage as this. It implies so much wretched, hand-
to-mouth existence : —

From inquiries we have made we find that, in the working-
class districts of London, Monday is by far the busiest day for
pawnshopping. On that day the Sunday clothes are usually
the articles brought to " Uncle." The same kind of business is
carried on on Tuesday. On Wednesday a little more variety is
introduced, and on Thursday and Friday household furniture
and the week's washing make their appearance, and on Friday
and Saturday, except for miscellaneous pawning, most of the
articles pawned in the early part of the week are withdrawn.
Several managers told me that they knew customers who came_
regularly week by week with the same article for the whole year
Any one thus bringing an article of clothing, for which they
received 2s. 6d., would pay i^d. interest for the week, and if that
article was renewed every week for the whole year, as I have
been told is frequently the case, altogether 6s. 3d. would be paid
by the end of the year for the weekly advance of 2s 6d.

And must this surging stream of misery flow on
unchecked ? Is there no remedy ? Of course there
is : but we must discover the cause, before we can
possibly hope to apply it. The pawnshop is the
product — the inevitable product — of the merciless
institution of private property, called by the Son of
Man " Mammon."

With private property abolished in the Co-operative

126 "THE POOR man's BANK:" "UNCLE."

Commonwealth^ such an institution as the pawnshop
could have no possible place. It would be meaning-
less ; but for the present it is indispensable, and the
immediate question is how to make it alleviate the
prevalent misery most efficacious' y.

We must bring the pawnshop back to its original
purpose. It must be niiuiicipalised and made a real
Monti di Pieta, or Poor Man's Bank, worked without
usury, on the principle (not a penny more than the
cost of management, i.e., from 5 to y\ P^'" cent.) laid
down by the illustrious monk of Florence, Savonarola,
in 1495. Savonarola started State-regulated pawn-
shops to protect the poor ; here we set up pawn-shops
to exploit them. If Parliament and our great Muni-
cipalities cannot in 1895 accomplisli what the Re-
public ot Florence achieved four centuries ago then
they are good for little or nothing, and " Government
of the People by the People for the People " is
merely a hollow and pretentious formula, a delusion
and a snare.


Servility before the Law has become a virtue. — Kropotkine.

Good men should not obey the laws too well. — Emerson.

My thoughts are murder to the State, and involuntarily go
plotting against her. — Thoreau.

Government is the great blackmailer. — Bdckle.

In general the art of Government consists in taking as much
money as possible from one part of the citizens to give it to
the other.— Voltaire.

HE causes which contributed to the sur*
prising rout of the Liberals in Forfar"
shire were various, but not the least
important was one of which we shall hear
more presently, south as well as north of the Tweed.
The farmers of Forfarshire, and the breeding
counties of Scotland generally, hotly resent the
action of the Board of Agriculture in prohibiting
the importation from Canada of lean or "store"
cattle (alive), under the pretext that they suffer from
pleuro-pneumonia. The Dominion profited by the
traffic, and agricultural Scotland profited still more
3o , but because out of two cargoes of Canadian
cattle one or two cases of pneumonia — most pro-
bably contracted in transit — were undoubtedly found,


Mr. Gardner and the "expert" veterinary advisers
of the Board must needs extinguish tlie entire trade.
The statute says that " cattle shall be admitted to
this country provided there is reasonable security
against disease." It does not say provided there is
no possibility of the introduction of disease, the
absurd construction put upon it by the Board of

Now what constitutes " reasonable security " in
such a case ? If it is not enough that the Government
of Canada should declare, as was done at Aberdeen,
by the mouth of Sir Charles Tupper, High Commis-
sioner for tlie Dominion, that

Canada did not have, and never had a single case of pleuro-
pneumonia, except one which was checked in quarantine, at

it is surely to the purpose that it should voluntarily
request the Board of Agriculture

to select the ablest veterinarv experts in the country, and as
many detectives as they liked, Canada to pay the whole cost
of the inquiry if they succeeded in establiahinR that pleuro-
pneumonia existed^in the Dominion.

At the request of a very influential gathering of
Forfarshire and Fifeshire agriculturalists, Sir John
Leng, the Senior Member for Dundee, recently con-
veyed to the President of the Board of Agriculture,
in writing, a succinct statement of the facts ot the
case, as vouched for by the Dominion Government,
with an assurance, which could not be misunderstood,
that the " agitation "in agricultural Scotland against
his " scheduling " infatuation was serious. Mr.
Gardner's response was a long-drawn, circumlocu-
tory, official non-possumus. He was in the hands of
his precious " experts " and they had banned
Canadian live-stock ex cathedra, and banned they
must consequently remain.

At an indignation meeting in Aberdeen a "canny
Bailie suggested that, if " the three experts" of the


Department could not be circumvented in any other
way, they should be pensioned and sent about their
business. Nor am I at all sure that that would not
be the best way of removing their obstruction ; for if
your expert official " scientist " should once blunder,
like the expert liar he is sure to "'stick to it." For
is it not written in the Eleventh Commandment —
"If you tell a lie, stick to it ?" Endow "scientific "
error and it will fight for its stipend as stubbornly as
endowed theological error has ever done.

But the question raised by the Forfarshire
farmers is far more than a mere Scoto-Canadian
affair. It calls in question the entire policy of per-
mitting the Board of Agriculture to " schedule " this
country, or that, at its sweet will, as so smitten with
contagious murrain as to necessitate the slaughter
of cattle, imported thence into Britain, at the port of
debarkation. If we are to revert to a policy of
"(protection," let us do so in an open, straight-
forward manner, and not in the covert, irri-
tating, piecemeal fashion, set by the Board of

Some fourteen years ago, as the representative in
the Far West of a syndicate of leading provincial
journals, English and Scottish — The Aberdeen Free
Press, The Dundee A dvertiser, The Newcastle Chronicle, The
Liverpool Mercury, and others — I had occasion to look
closely into this pleuro-pneumonia imposture, and
have never since ceased to marvel that even John
Bull should not by this time have found it out.

On the vast " ranges " that skirt the Rocky
Mountains on the east are raised immense herds of
cattle, which roam the Great Plains from year's
end to year's end, as wild almost as the buffalo they
have supplanted. What they feed on, in such a
State, for example, as Colorado, is a mystery to the
European eye. The rainfall is almost a negligible
quantity, and but for the ubiquitous prickly cactus,



which seems to be able to flourish almost without
moisture, the soil is at first sight destitute of vegeta-
tion. But on closer inspection you discover, at
slight intervals of a foot or more apart, little tufts
of " gramma grass," scarcely over an inch high.
And this meagre herbage is not merely " nutricious,"
but it has the invaluable property of " curing " or
becoming hay where it grows. The cattle in con-
sequence can survive even an occasional snow-
storm. To get at their provender they scrape off
the snow with their hoots and in the spring
they are found not much the worse for their ex-
posure. But they '* lay on " no "fat," developing
only bone and muscle. At the "round-up," which
takes place twice every year the " Cowboys," well-
mounted and lasso in hand, drive the herds into one
dense bellowing mass of hoofs and horns, and each
ranchman proceeds to " cut out " the stock of
kis own brand, the calves instinctively following
their dams.

All are lean, "stringy," and quite unfit for the
English market; but the "steers" destined for
London or Liverpool must be fattened somewhere
and somehow, as the pleuro-pneumonia bogey abso-
lutely forbids the English farmer undertaking that
duty for which he is so exceptionally qualified.
They are accordingly shipped to the Middle States
where, for a few months, they are stall-fed or other-
wise made fit for John Bull's dinner table, John
generously rewarding Jonathan for this little service
at the rate of from £^ to £5 per animal.

Now, why all this generosity ? Surely the British
farmer could put up with a five-pound note as well as
his Illinois brother. England, as we all know is
rapidly being laid down in " permanent asture,"
and, as tillage is disappearing, it stands to reason,
that cattle-raising should in no way be handicapped.
Ship " lean " cattle direct from the great breeding


grounds of Canada and the United States, and they
can be fattened on EngHsh meadows and in the
grazing counties of Scotland as nowhere else in the
world. The best refrigerated or other American
and Australian meat is poor stuflf compared with
the " prime Aberdeenshire," for which it is so
commonly palmed off on credulous Londoners by
the unprincipled rogues of Smithfield, acting in
collusion with highly "respectable " West-end dealers,
whose "swag"' is, in consequence, enormous.

In truth John Bull's pleuro-pneumonia supersti-
tion has made him the laughing stock of all the
knowing agriculturists of America. In the Far West
the disease is unknown, and the cattle of the Great
Plains are otherwise the healthiest that can be
handled. I made every possible enquiry regarding
it, and " Cowboy," Ranchman, and State official
alike testified to its non-existence. Some valuable
pedigree bulls, imported from Aberdeenshire to im-
prove the ill-favoured breed of Mexican cattle, I
indeed found had suffered from it, but they did Mot
communicate the malady to the roaming herds of
the plains, and it may, I think, be doubted if after
all it is even contagious. A few direct experiments
to settle that point have yet to be made before I
for one will believe it.

In the Middle or feeding States of the Republic
pleuro-pneumonia has of course occurred, as it has
done in this country ; but, I believe, if the truth
were told, less frequently. At Washington; I had
an intimate conversation with the Minister of Agri-
culture on the subject. He assured me that such
was the case, but added, with cynical good hu.nour,
that if the British Government withdrew the restric-
tions on "store" cattle importation — so profitable
is the delusion — the disease would break out with
unexampled virulence in every feeding State of the
Union !


All this, and much more, I imparted, on my return
to England, to Mr. Mundelia, who was then Cattle-
doctor-in-Chief to the Liberal Administration. He
evidently knew nothing personally of the subject,
but, like Mr. Gardner, he had his infallible " ex-
perts," and they tiien, as now, said, as did tlie Grand
Monarque : L' etat c'est iiioi.

So much for British Beef, British Bureaucracy,
and British Free Trade ! There is a blessedness
about that word " Pleuro-pneumonia " that even
' Mesopotamia " can hardly rival.

Part v.— miscellanea.







( i^^ ^


O, the bowers of Babylon are rare,

And the tinkling fountains play
Over gardens hung in the drowsy air,
Where the careless youth and maiden fair

Are dreaming the years away.

And the Kings of Babylon are strong,
And their dungeons dark and deep,
And the Rich rejoice in the eign of wrong
And the Priesthood joins in the robbers' soa|
While the Toilers work and weep.

And the walls of Babylon are high.

And their arches grim and low,
And the Birds of Commerce scream and fly
While the proud Euphrates wanders by

In its dark, relentless flow.

But stern and still, like a Group.of Fates,

Round the city's roar and din,
The invading host of the Conqueror waits,
In the midnight hush without the gates,

While the feast goes on within.

For the river that rolls in Mammon's pride

Shall the People's servant be —
By God's right arm shall be turned aside,
And its channel surge with a grander tide.
Than the pulse of the Persian Sea.




Thursday, Fridav , Saturday, and Sunday were spent by tke
Japanese soldiery in murder and pillage from dawn to dark, ki
mutilation, in every conceivable kind of nameless atrocity, until
the town (Port Arthur) became a ghastly Inferno to be remem-
bered with a fearsome shudder until one's dying day. Bodies
of n«en strewed the streets in hundreds, perhaps thousands, for
we could not count — some with not a limbunsevered, some with
heads hacked and cross-cut and split lengthwise, some ripped
open, not by chance, but with careful precision down and across,
disembowelled and dismembered, with occasionally a dagger or
bayonet thrust m the private parts. I saw groups of prisoners,
tied together in a bunch with their hands behind their^ backs,
riddled with bullets for five minutes, and then hewn in'pieces.
I saw a junk stranded on the beach, filled with fugitives of either
sex and of all ages, struck by volley after volley until — I can say
ao more. — Times Correspondent (January 8th, 1895).

HE Times man evidently got faint-hearted
at the sights he beheld at the capture of
Port Arthur by the " brilliant " Japs —
" the English of the Orient "^but he
ought not to. If War is a right thing in itself — and
all Christian nations in particular hold thai it is — it
cannot be conducted in too thorough a manner.



" Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy
might." V^ victis !

This is seemingly Jap sentiment in regard to War,
and there is no occasion lor us to lift up hands of
holy liorror at the massacre and mutilation of the
wounded or of helpless captives and non-combatants.
The victors ought to slaughter all the wounded and
give no quarter. The more horrible War can be made,
the better. It should be the aim of all good men to
strip it of every atom of fictitious " chivalry," every
possible scintilla of "glory," by which the mind
of the military murderer, from Commander-in-Chief
to Drummer-boy, is apt to be glamoured. Everything
should be done to make the butcher of his fellow-men
feel that he is a butcher, and that his gaudy uniform
is a mere badge of superior brutality.

The organ of the German W ar Department, the
other day, expressed serious apprehension that there
ig a perceptible decline in the average ferocity of
sentiment of the German soldier, but promised that
steps should be promptly taken, nay, had already
been taken, to amend the evil, particularly in the
case of officers. This article was said to have been
directly inspired by the Queen's hopeful grandson.
Kaiser Ajax the Bellicose, whom, for his military
virtues, the Mikado of Japan has decorated — and so
deservedly — with the Most Exalted Order ot the

At any rate, it Bismarck's " Young Man " did not
inspire the article, it is certain he was quite equal
to the perfoimance. On one occasion — and who
can forget it? — in 1891, this enfant tevvible ot State
thus addressed certain young soldiers : —

Recruits ! You have given me the oath of allegiance before
the altar and the servant of the Lord. You are still too young
to comprehend the true meaning of what has been said here,
but first of all take care ever to follow the orders and instruc-
tions that are given to you. You have taken the oath of allegi-
ance to me; this means, children of my guards, that you are


now my soldiers, that you have given yourselves up to me, body

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Online LibraryJ. Morrison (John Morrison) DavidsonNew politics for the people. Let there be light! 1.-Religion. 2.-Politics. 3.-The family. 4.-Economics. 5.-Miscellanea .. → online text (page 9 of 13)