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The Record and Guide.
THE RECORD AND GUIDE.
Pu6!tsfted every Saturday,
191 Broad^way, N. Y,
ONE YEAR, in advance, SIX DOLLARS.
Communicatioiis should be addressed to
C. W. SWEET, 191 Broadway.
J. T. LraDSEY, Business Manager.
DECEMBER 20, 1884.
The holiday season which is approaching will be gloomier than
it has been for several years past. Trade ia depressed, and the
immediate outlook in all the markets is anything but reassuring.
AU classes will suffer, but this will be a particularly bitter winter
for the poor. The laboring classes have had several prosperous
years, but it is not likely that the bulk of the working people have
made any provision for such times as they are about Eo experience.
Fortunately food is cheap, and the price of coal must come down.
For a wonder even meat has fallen in price in the wholesale marÂ¬
kets. Some concerted efforts should, however, be made to enable
the poorer class of consumers to profit by the lower prices of meat,
grain and fuel. It is the retail dealers who now get the advantage
of the lower prices, not their customers, and as usual it is the very
poor who have to pay the highest prices for the necessaries of Ufe.
We have our doubts about the wisdom of our governmeoE
undertaking to build an inter-oceanie canal through Nicaragua. The
Panama Canal will be a short but open one. Like its great predeÂ¬
cessor, the iSuez Canal, it will have no locks and vessels can pass
through it within a few hours' time. The Nicaragua Canal will
not only be a long one, necessitating lake and river as well as canal
navigation, but will involve sis locks on the Atlantic side and
seven on the Pacific side. The delay will necessarily be a very
serious one and the advantage will be entirely in favor of its French
rival in point of time and, of course, expense. There are other conÂ¬
siderations which should forbid us going into this enterprise as a
nation, but the one we have indicated is sufficient, if there were
no others. If we wish to compete with the Panama Canal why
not adopt the brilliant suggestion of Captain Eads and construct a
ship railway across the narrowest point of the isthmus. His plan
is to dry-dock the incoming vessels, lift it upon a gigantic railway
and deposit it in the waters on the other side. The scheme is so
novel a one that the ordinary engineer wh! not consider it, yet
experts say it is entirely practical and that it will cost far less than
any water canal and will save time as well as money.
But novelties in engineering, like Captain Eads' plan, are never
adopted when a number of people are asked to give their assent to
an untried experiment. If we have any money as a nation to
spend it should be in building up our navy and providing defences
for our seaboard cities. The construction of'a Nicaragua canal would
be a menace to Europe, a violation of the letter and spirit of the
Clayton-Bulwer treaty and would necessitate on our part a warlike
foreign policy for which we are not prepared. However, there is
hardly much danger of the Nicaraguan treaty being endorsed by
the present Congress; yet it is curious to notice that all our execuÂ¬
tives, including Grant, Hayes, Garfield and Arthur, as well as
their respective Secretaries of State, were in favor of some such
treaty and programme as that contained in the recommendations
of President Arthur in hia last meseage.
All who wish to keep posted should not fail to read the " BusiÂ¬
ness World" department of this paper. It contains some of the
best articles taken from the press of the country on trade prospects.
We rarely quote our city papers, as it is presumed that they are
seen by our readers; but we copy this week short articles from the
Commercial Bulletin and Bradstreet's on the almost unnoticed but
important change wbich is taking place in the foreign policy of the
nation. We have made no pronounced new departure, yet here
we are taking part in an International Congress regulating the
trade of internal Africa, securing coaling stations in different parts
of the world, and proposing to build an inter-oceanic canal in a
foreign country with government money. Brother Jonathan is
evidently beginning to think that the foreign policy of an infant
nation of 5,000,000 of people is not exactly the thing for agreat
country, which will aoon have 60,000,000 of inhabitants. A new
era^is e'vidently dawning.
And now another treaty has 'been made, this time with San
Domingo, the object being as in the case of the Mexican and
Spanish treaties to open new markets for our manufactures, but
we see no prospect of any treaty, however desirable, being sancÂ¬
tioned by the present Congress. Even should the Senate ratify a
treaty the House would refuse, aa it did in the case of the Mexican
treaty, to provide the necessary money to carry out its provisions.
Because the Representatives must vote the supplies that body has
always claimed that it must be consulted when a new treaty ia
being negotiated. True, the trade of the country may suffer by
the non-recognition of a treaty, but that is considered of minor
importance by Representatives in a matter where the_ privileges of
their body are concerned.
The opposition to these new commercial treaties is simply exasÂ¬
perating. The warehouses of the country are stocked with unsalaÂ¬
ble goods, aud our capacity for producing manufactured articles
is far in excess of the requirements of the home market. The aim
of all these treaties and others now negotiating is to give us foreign
markets for our surplus products, but the high protected interests
become alarmed and bring a pressure to bear in Congress which
the latter cannot resist. Then our national legislature is an inefÂ¬
ficient body. Its rules are designed to prevent legislation of all
kinds, and nine-tenths of its members are of a profession with
whom talking and hair-splitting are the chief ends of life. Some
day the mighty intereats of the nation will a-^sert themselves, and
the first thing that Uncle Sam will be asked to do is to put hia foot
on this Congress of chattering lawyers.
The Shorlcomings of Congress.
There is a growing impatience among the people of all countries
at the dilatoriness and incompetency of congresses aud parliaÂ¬
ments. We live in a business sge in which events affecting public
policy are rapidly made known by the press through the aid of the
telegraph and governineots are often called upon to deal with them
summarily. But legislative movements are necessarily slow, and
lag far behind the natural expectations of the community. The
very forms of constitutional legislative assemblies which aro
designed to protect minorities and prevent inconsiderate legislaÂ¬
tion make parliamentary rule procrastinating and inefficient. In
England the Gladstone ministry has been forced to adopt aeveral
measures to expedite necessary legislation. In France Gauibetta,
and Ferry after him, have tried to reform the French Chambers
by electing members on a general ticket rather than by single disÂ¬
tricts. This change, it was hoped, would lead to the choice of
representatives who cared more for France than for their petty
localities, but these efforts have so far failed. Our. own Congress
has become an exceedingly inefdcient body. It pays no heed to
the wisest recommendations of the executive, aud cannot be got
to give any attention to the larger interests of the country. Ex-
Mayor Smith Ely, Jr., declared after having served in the House of
Representatives, that so far as he could see the object of every
rule in that body was to put a atop to legislation. The Times
of last Tuesday prints an interview with a leading lawyer whom
we take to be none other than William M. Evart8,-whc passes the
following judgment upon Congress :
I don't want to he disrespectful to Congress, but a correct appreciation
of what is due the dignity of tbe government would have re.^ulted long
ago in a declaration, backed by all the powers of the government, settling
forever the question of isthmus aupramacy, Onr executive department
has always held right views and urged right measures to enforce them.
The matter has beeu practicallv in the hands of Congress for jiears, for
tha executive is powerless witliout Congressional co-operation. Gen,
G-rant entreated it, as did Mr. Hayes, and now President Arthur. I
regret to say thafc this experience has conclusively proved that the
primary Congressman, the average member, is unequal to questions
beyond the polifcics of the hour or his loual interests. He is utterly
lacking in conception of the true and statesmanlike province of higher
legislation. I don't believe Congress will give effect at this session to
the Nicaraguan treaty, the Spanish treaty, or to any other, aod I am
unable to predict when these important matters will get iutelligcnt
consideration in Congress; probably not until free discussion of them
outside of Congress shall have dictated a course which Congressmen,
uuder the pressure of local influences, will feel bound to follow.
Just now the nation needs wise Congressional action on a numÂ¬
ber of very important subjects. Were we under the control of a
far-seeing and sensible despot there would be some chance of a
beneficial change in the business of tbe country within three
months' time. He could make the Mexican treaty effective ; corÂ¬
rect and adopt the new Spanish treaty ; then he could stop our
absurd debt-paying policy and turn our surplus revenues into proÂ¬
ductive channels, that is, commence works to guard our seacoast
cities, build war vessels, improve our rivers and harbors and so eet
the business of the country again in motion. But our Congress of
pottering lawyers will do nothing but talk. Toward the end of
February it will pass a few appropriation bills and then adjourn.
The next Congress will not meet until December and will not try
to do anything until the spring of 1886. In the meantime our
seaport cities will be at the mercy of any tenth-rate naval power ;
we will be without a navy or a torpedo service, or batteries of guna
to defend our exposed points on tho coast, white the commerÂ¬
cial treaties wbich would have made markets for our manufac-