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June 7. 1890
Record and Guide.
^ ^^ ESTfcBUSHED^WJy;H?l'-i^ia5B.
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BusiiJess Alto Themes of GeNeraI I/Jtehesj
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Published every Saturday.
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C.W. SWEET, 191 Broadway,
J. T. LINDSEY, Business Manager.
JUNE 7, 1890
The stock market for the week cannot be called a satisfactory one
for either the bull or the bear, although the tendency has been
towards ulightly higher pricea, particularly with the Vanderbilt
stocks. AU of these show great strength, due to the general im¬
pression that larger dividends are likely to be declared at the meet¬
ing of directors which takes place very soon. While the reports of
tbe condition and prosperity of Lake Shore will be moat gratifying,
it is extremely doubtful if any increaaed dividend will be dticlared,
for tbe policy of keeping a large surplus for emergencies of every
kind is likely to be continued. The Granger shares close the week
at about the same prices at which they opened, and any con¬
cession from present figures will find steady buyers. We are one
week nearer the solution of the silver question, and it looks as though
the hill introduced by Senator Plumb, which ia strongly supported
by President St. John, of the Mercantile National Bank, containa
the provisions which Eastern people would like to see com¬
promised upon by the House. Thia bill provides for the purchase
every month of four and one-half million ounces of fine silver,
payment for same to be made in silver certificates of such denom¬
inations as are now provided for the silver certificate of the United
States. Tiiese notes are to be lawful money—a legal tender in pay¬
ment of all debts, unless otherwise specified, in any contract, and
shall be receivable for customs and other public dues. "While the
Secretary is directed to purchase this fifty-four millions of ounces
of silver per year, he is only directed ts coin not less thau two
million silver dollars per month, and more if lie shall deem
more requisite to meet demands for the redemption of notes
issued for bullion. It is estimated by the supporters of this
bill that the purchase of fifty-four miUion ounces per year
will absorb the product of our own silver mines, provided the
world at large can spare us the whole of our own production.
There can be but little doubt but that our production of silver dur¬
ing the coming year, stimulated as it will be by the passage of a
silver bill such aa is now contemplated, will run up to very large
proportions. The price of silver is even now sucli that old mines
long neglected are being reopened and worked profitably. The
Denver & Rio Grande Railway Company, in a recent report account¬
ing for increased earnings, gave decided prominence to this feature
as one of the principal reasons for the larger tonnage of the road.
Too much dependence, however, must not be placed on the passage
of a silver bill. We have recently had experience in this State of the
way in which two Houses of a legislative body may disagree on a
matter of prime public necessity, even when both branches are con¬
trolled by the same party. It is quite possible that sucha disagree¬
ment may take place over the silver matter.
What, we may ask, is going to be the result of the work of the
present Eapid transit Commission? Very certainly a place on it is
not a bed of roses. The commission, we may be sure, is sparing
neither tirae nor labor. It is sitting assiduously, and trying with
determination to find a route up and down a city which has been
designed to keep people from moving in those directions. The Elm
street improvement would have been a great assistance to them, but
that needed change has been postponed by our Tammany rulers, so
they hardly know where to turn. It is said that they have discarded
the idea of any more elevated roads. But it is useless to discuss the
details of any plan except after the most careful collection aud con¬
sideration of all the available sources of information. The commis¬
sioners frequently complain of the difficulty of. their task. And in
truth -they are trying to build a pyramid with a weak-kneed
derrick. Politics created it not because it could accomplish any¬
thing, but because it would tend to prevent the Republicans from
accomplishing anything; aud eo it sits and sits in wordy impo¬
tence. The commission, iudeed, can help matters in oue way—a
way, indeed, which seems never to suggest itself to them. They
can co-operate with the Manhattan Company to help that corpora¬
tion to extend its lines and increase its facilities. We are aware
that, if such a course were adopted, our newspapers, which, in this
matter, as in that oi the cable road, seemed possessed of a mighty
desire to injure the interests of the public they pretend to repre¬
sent, would raise a. howl of disapprobation, but a wise man at
present can do as well with their opposition as with their assistance.
Richard Cobden said that all a reform needed was a good cause
and the opposition of the Times to insure its success, and the remark
is not as paradoxical as it seems. At any rate, in this case the
commission'could afford to disregard the press for the sake of the
public. The commission has powers to construct the makeshift
we propose, wliereas any comprehensive plan it endeavored to
devise, either from the limitation of its powers or the insufflc¬
iency ofthe time for consideration, would certainly be inadequate.
Leave bridges of atone for them who have the tools; let us be
satisfied for tbe present with an improvement which will take the
edge off the difficulty.
No newspaper in New York seems to have any other policy on the
transit question than to be pulled hither and thither by whatever
propositions are put forward by prominent men, whether wise or
otherwise, and to take somewhat the position that any practical
measm'e is a good measure, the aim being to do something, no matter
what, so long as it has the sanction of a few ■' prominent citizens."
An intelligeut and creditable position for any newspaper to take
might be thia : That the whole woit of fixing the number of rail¬
ways required, their extent, method of construction, and system of
operation, should be referred to a board of railway experts ; that
any attempt to settle these matters officially by bankers, merchants,
or other persons who are not masters of railway science, should be
opposed ; but that when the technical plan has been made by experts,
financiers and lawyers, should then determine how the needed capital
is to be raised, and draw up bills of the legislation found necessary.
Some years ago the whole technical problem of making a plan for
the terminal facilities of the Brooklyn Bridge was referred, on
motion of Mr. Hewitt, then Mayor, to a board of engineering
experts. The i^eport of the engineers was rejected by the trustees.
But it has since come pretty generally to be believed that the plan
proposed by the engineers was a better plan, and better elaborated,
than any of the many plaus proposed before or since that time by
persons who are not engineers, and that the rejection of the plan
refiects upon the trustees rather than upon the board of engineers.
At all events, the method of having a plan made by engineers is so
far admitted to be correct that it is even now intended to have
another engineering board treat the subject.
Now, as problems in transportation go, the bridge problem is a
small matter in comparison with the general transportation problem
of the whole city. If the bridge problem should be treated by
experts, how much the more is it fitting that experts sbould treat
the general transit question? Thua, instead of seekingfor legislation
to authorize the building of roads whose plan is not yet made, or
whose plan, is cramped to fit the requirements of some existing law,
rather have experts treat thfe w^hole subject, without restriction,
and then when the plan is made try for the needed legislation. A
transit plan made by such a board of engineers as made the bridge
terminal plan would be vastly better than anything in the way of
any plan with which the public is now familiar. Why won't the
newspapers or any of them hammer away at this point by giving
reasons why the subject should be referred to engineers, and show¬
ing how this method of treating the subject can be brought about?
The bill for the abolition of capital punishment was defeated
during the last session of the Legislature ; but the ventilation the
subject received, and the large amount of intelligent and humane
public sentiment there is behind the movement for the change is
doubtless significant of a still further attempt in the same direction
next year. Of interest perhaps, in this connection, is a measure
recently passed by the French Senate. This bill, introduced by M.
Berenger, draws a hard distinction between old offenders and
criminals who are condemned for the first offense. In a speech in
support of the bill M. Berenger, one of the highest of the French
authorities on the subject, attributed the large increase of crime in
France during the past fifty years to the insufficient punishment
meted out to old offenders. Too much severity in the case of a
first offense had the effect of brutalizing the culprit instead of
reforming him; while unusual severity could justly be used with a
man whose record was siraply one succession of crimes, even
though the particular offense under which he was being tried might
not in itself justify such extraordinary punishment. He accord¬
ingly recommended, among other things, that wherever it was
possible the sentence of impriaonment in the first instance should
not be carried out unless the delinquent was again caught tripping,
and that if at the end of five years the prisoner had a clean bill of
healtb to show tho punishment should be cancelled. The distinc¬
tion upou which M. Berenger laid so much emphasis is observed in
this country to a great extent: the margin between the smallest
and greatest punishment for a given offense is wide, and the old
offender is doubtless much more liable to be treated severely by
both judge and jury than the young innocent whose criminal