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December 27, 1884
The Record and Guide
THE RECORD AND GUIDE.
PabliBhed every Saturday,
191 Broadway, N. Y.
ONE ¥EA(l, io advance, SIX DOLLARS^
Communications should be addressed fco
C. W. SWEET, 191
J. T. LINDSBY, Buaiuesa Manager.
DECEMBER 27, 1884.
Wiiat a change would come over the business situation if a stop
was put to tlie payment of (he public debt, and the surplus money
in the Treasury was spent iu conatructing harbor defences,
buiMiug a navy, encouraging lines of steamers to foreign countries,
improving our water waya and harbors and erecting in the cities,
where they are called for, new custom houses, postoffices and
buildings for Federal courts. Such a policy would change aa if by
magic the whole business situation, for it would create a demand
for iron, timber" and building materials, and better than all for
labor. It would be economy, for the government would then get
the advantage of the prevailing low prices. It is so obviously the
wisest thing to do that it is surprising there is not a general
demand for the government to use its now worse than wasted
funds to stimulate productive industries.
The press of New York eeems determined not to emphasize
the significance of the failures which occurred on the Vienna
bourse immediately upon the announcement that Austria was
about to resume^pecie payment on a gold basis. Items are given
grudgingly of the suicides, failures and embarrassments; indeed
there seems to be a "conspiracy of silence" touching the moral to be
drawn from the attitude of Austria ou the currency question. It
is now repeating the history of Germany and the United States
when they der*«)netized silver in 1873, In addition to what it had
previoi^fily published, the-HemM of yesterday gave the following
items itf a quiet way:
Vienna, Dec. 25, 1884.—The Discount Bank at Layback, Carinthia, bas
failed. Itsliabit.ities are 1,590,000 florins. Two sugar factories at Badsko
bave stopped work.
Prague, Dec. 35, 1834.—The liabilities of the Bobemian Land Credit
Company, whicb suspended recently, amount to 23,000,000 florios. Tbe
assets exceed that amount, but it will be difScult to collect them. Numer¬
ous small banks are involved in the failure, and some are ruiued. The
shareholders lose tbe whole amount of their investment.
Unless we are greatly mistaken there is a good deal more of the
same kind of news to corae from Austria. But the anti-silver
papers will not see the point.
As we predicted some weeks ago the cattle ranch fever is de¬
veloping itself into a widespread international speculation. The
money for the purchasing of landa and cattle comes in great part
from England and the continent. A railroad scheme has been
evolved out of this laud aud cattle speculation. It is proposed
to build a road from Cheyenne to Hudson Bay, by which route
it was claimed 500 miles of water transportation to England can
be saved an^ i^IO a head added to the value of tbe cattle. A dinner
was given by George H. Stayner, of Brooklyn, on Wednesday
evening, to ex-Secretary of War McCreary and Captain Bedford
Pira, of the British navy, and others who represent an immense
ranch company with stockholders on both sides of the ocean. We
may expect this speculation to rage for a time to the ultimate loss
of those who get in at high prices, but the meat consumers will
probably be benefited by the increased attention given to the
breeding of cattle.
Our Chamber of Commerce is a very curious body. It opposes
every measure likely to help New York in its struggle for foreign
trade. It antagonizes every measure on the part of the Federal
government to aid New York capitalists in establishing steamship
lines with foreign ports. The Chamber has also announced wilh
emphasis against the treaties now before the country, the main
objeci, of all of which is to extend our commerce with other
steamship lines are better represented in the Chamber of Commerce
than are the interests of American commerce proper. It is also a
curious fact that the Journal of Comvierce and the Commercial
Bulletin bitterly oppose every effort on the part of the Federal
government to give our ships foreign markets.
The Maekay-Bennett cable is now open for business. It is, it
seems, the only direct cable between Europe and New York city.
Although it has all the advantages of the recent inventions in
cable telegraphy, yet it is doubtful if it will be a commercial
success. The laying of the cable has, it is understood, taxed Mr.
Bennett's resources very severely, and he has had to sacrifice a
great deal of his property to make good the subscription to the
shares which were in the name of hia brother-in-law, Mr, BeU. A
cable is at a disadvantage compared with other telegraph lines in
that it can'only transact business at either end. A line from New
York to San FranoiECO gives and receives messages every few miles.
Then the new cable is handicapped in another^way. The old com¬
panies have direct business relations and prompt connections with
every city in Europe, while on this side the Western Union can
supply them with messages from every point in North America,
The new cable will, it is true, have the service of the Baltimore &
Ohio, the Postal Telegraph and the Bankers' and Brokers', but
these cannot gather one-twentieth of the business at the command
of the Western Union, Hence the new company will be forced to
open offices in the large cities and will in every way ba at a disad¬
vantage with its old-established rivals. Mr. Bennett is plucky and
Mr. Mackay is reputed rich, but they have yet to show that they
possess any business faculty outside of mining and journalism.
The probable fate of the new cable will be to fall into the hands of
the old monopoly at much less than its original cost.
This cable experiment will probably repeat the old, old story.
There is no such thing as permanent competition between natural
monopolies such aa railways, telegraph lines, cables and the sup¬
plying of water and gas and the like to municipalities. The cables
of the world should really be owned by a syndicate representing
the several commercial nations. Private persons should not have
the reporting of raarket news, nor should they be the depositors of
business and family secrets. It is this consideration which haa
induced every government save ours to incorporate the telegraph
system into their postoffice machinery. The several governments
should supply cable facilities to the people of all nations at a mini¬
mum charge. The final result of the Maekay-Bennett cable con¬
struction it is now probable will be to add just so much to the
already large expense of telegraphing under the ocean.
This would be a puzzling attitude for the Chamber of Commerce
to assuu 3, were it not explained by the fact that wc really have
no merchants, because we have no merchant marine. We have, it
is true, shippers of goods, but they are Americans in partnership
with'foreign shipping Hues. True, our navigation laws give a
monopoly of the coasting trade to American ship owners, but the
merchants who are engaged in that field do not seem to be influ-
eptjal in, o^r chief commercial body. Foreigu ipWCbft!it§ aa4
How history repeats itself ! When De Lesseps first suggested the
building of a Suez Canal it was pronounced impossible, and even
derided in England. The London journals declared that it was an
impracticable project. Iiord Palmerston, representing the official
judgment of the nation, pronouncedthe scheme visionary. The
great body of Englisb engineers, with George Stepheuson at their
head, declared that the physical difSculties were insurmountable,
and that what had been accomplished by the Pharaohs before the
beginning of recorded history was an impossibility to the science of
the nineteenth century. Nevertheless De Lesseps has lived not only
to see his canal completed but all his English enemies confounded.
Great Britain to-day has the most vital interest in this important
artificial channel of trade. Americans are now assuming the same
attitude toward the Panama Canal that England did to the Suez
Canal. It is, we are told, a waste of money and time to even
attempt it, the physical obstacles to be overcome being insuperable,
From this time forth the difficulties in the way of De Lesseps will
be the theme of tens of thousands of newspaper articles. The most
experienced engineering experts in the country will pledge their
professional reputation that the canal will never be built, and hun¬
dreds of speeches will be made in Congress showing up this latest
French folly. But, notwithstanding, by 1890 the canal will be
opened and will become the great channel of commerce for the
shipping on the Atlantic Ocean which may have business with the
ports on the east of Asia and in the Pacific Ocean. Then by the
close of the century by an attraction as strong as that of gravita¬
tion the canal will fall under the control of the American govern¬
ment. The fact to be kept steadily in mind by all sensible men is
that modern engineering science backed by sufficient money can
overcome any ordinary physical difficulty in the way of construct¬
ing a canal.
The danger is that, prompted by this feeling of hostility, we
may begin the construction of a Nicaraguan canal which will
involve great cost, trouble with foreign nations, and in the end
be a failure, not because ir cannot be constructed but for the reason
that a canal 170 miles long, with thirteen locks, will never be
able to compete with a canal less than one-third the length and
not having any locks. The building of a Nicaraguan canal to
compete with the papama C^aal woiilcl l>e HM,^ Ptartiog a, horaQ-