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for the preservation of the bait fishes binding on Americans, Canadians, French, and colonists alike. The French to recognise a British Consul at St. Pierre, to abandon their connivance at smuggling, and to frame enlightened and honest revenue laws. The alternative in this instance would be the establishment of a system of bounties for the Newfoundland fishermen, provided by the Imperial Government, until the French Bank fishery was crushed, which would not be more than four or five years. The vigorous enforcement of the Bait Act, and, if necessary, the compensating of those engaged in the traffic. The inauguration of a crusade against the smugglers of St. Pierre, in which the support of Canada could be enlisted. The expulsion from Newfoundland of M. Des Isles, the unrecognised French Consul, who is regarded by the colonists as a spy, whose business it is to supply his principals with information as to the movement of colonial cod-fish towards market, so that French shippers can head it off and still further cripple our trade.
It is by no means improbable that the full report of the Royal Commissioners, Sir John Bramston and Admiral Sir James Erskine, which is shortly to be presented to Parliament, will recite the history of this famous question on somewhat similar lines to the above, and that their recommendations for a settlement of the difficulty will be substantially those here outlined. Then we shall look to Mr. Chamberlain, in whose energy, ability, and determination the colony has the utmost confidence, for such measures as shall suffice to arrest the further sacrifice of a colony.
P. T. MCGRATH,
Editor of the Evening Heruld. &t. John's, Nerfoundland.
THE COLONIAL WEAKNESS OF FRANCE
RECENT events have directed considerable attention to the relative positions of France and England, and the present is not, perhaps, an inopportune moment for a glance at one aspect of the French position in relation to ourselves and having for us a special interestthat of France as a colonial Power. The progress of the French nation since its great misfortune of more than a quarter of a century ago presents several remarkable features. The readiness with which France paid off the heavy war indemnity imposed upon her by Germany, the alacrity with which she remodelled her military forces, and the success attendant upon her efforts to safeguard herself from a repetition of her disasters, have called forth general admiration for the patience, resource, and recuperative power of a sorely stricken nation. Much of the credit for this recovery is undoubtedly due to her great natural resources and the thrift of her people ; but, while in some respects she has regained her lost prestige, it is apparent that in others she exhibits signs of weakness, if not of decay.
Two features stand out most prominently in her present circumstances, and are all the more remarkable as being to some extent contradictory, although they are, in reality, in agreement, and taken together represent a serious danger and source of weakness to the State.
The population of France, which since the commencement of the present century has displayed a regular and most disconcerting tendency to grow at an ever-decreasing rate, has now reached a stage at which this growth has almost completely ceased. It is not, perhaps, necessary to dwell at any length upon this fact, which is well known both within and without her borders, and it may suffice to give a few convincing figures of French population from 1801 to the present day. They are taken from the Statesman's Year Book for 1898.
The fourth column shows the density of the population as calculated for the present territory, and therefore allows of a correct comparison throughout the entire period, irrespective of increase or decrease of territory. The gradually retarded growth of French population is clearly shown by these figures, and is mainly accounted for by the gradual decrease in the excess of births over deaths. This excess, which in the decade 1811 to 1820 was 57 per 1,000 of population, had fallen to 1.6 per 1,000 in the period 1881 to 1885.
The birth and death rates for the last three years are rather remarkable and may be given here.
In 1895 the deaths actually exceeded the births by 17,813, and although in 1896 the excess of births over deaths again rose to 93,700, and in 1897 to 108,088, these two figures result rather from a decrease in the deaths than from an increase in the births, which in 1897 were actually 6,439 less than in the preceding year.
Thus, while the death rate is diminishing, the birth rate is not increasing and although the general effect on the population is a gain, not a loss, this is not sufficient, in face of the figures of almost a eentury, to console those Frenchmen who compare the growth of their population with that of other European nations, especially with that of Germany, whose increase is as remarkable as is the falling off of France. So great is the difference between the two nations in this respect, and so important a result must it have upon the armies of the immediate future in nations where practically every able-bodied man enters the ranks, that careful observers, both in France and Germany, agree in declaring that in a few years the military forces of the one will be numerically so inferior to those of the other as to preclude the possibility of the accomplishment—at least unaided-of that revenge that lies so near a Frenchman's heart.
A falling off of this nature in national growth is a sufficiently remarkable and serious sign to give pause to any people, and continuing, as it has done, for so many years, it can only be interpreted
in one way.
Curiously enough, we find alongside of it in the last few years the remarkable feature of considerable colonial expansion, which at first sight appears to be a set-off against the retarded national growth and a sign that the decadence of France is yet far distant; but when we examine the circumstances more closely, we are reluctantly compelled to the conviction that the one fact does not contradict the other, and that the two together constitute a most serious weakness for France, a weakness that, if not recognised and resolutely faced, is almost certain to lead, sooner or later, to fresh national disaster.
The colonial empire of France is not, of course, a thing of recent growth; it has existed for many years, although for a time its growth was checked-largely by us—and the colonising spirit lay dormant, to assert itself again, however falsely, in the last few years. A most interesting article by M. le Duc de Broglie, published rather more than two years ago in the Revue des Deux Mondes, traces the growth of this new colonial spirit in the last few years, and asserts its origin to be the desire to achieve a success such as had been denied to France in Europe and in Egypt up to 1882.
Accepting this date as that of the new departure, we find that in Asia and Africa alone the territories acquired by France in the last sixteen years comprise over one million square miles and contain more than thirty-two million inhabitants. Colonies that are selfsupporting and, as it were, 'going concerns,' are, as a rule, sources of strength to the parent nation, as affording new markets for her industries and fresh fields for the energy and expansion of the race. But even then they may be sources of weakness rather than of strength under certain circumstances, such as those of a great war which finds them unprepared to defend themselves and the parent nation unable to send them assistance.
Looked at from these two points of view, the commercial and the military, how does the colonial empire of France appear ?
Did the surplus population of the country overflow into these newly acquired territories to such an extent as to account for the diminished growth at home, the figures we have just quoted would lose their chief significance; but this is not the case, and the French colonies, whether new or old, do not attract the youth and manhood of the mother country. And if they are not growing in population, neither are they increasing in wealth, for the indifferent financial condition of most of them is sufficiently notorious, and is acknowledged even by the most patriotic of Frenchmen, who cannot, indeed, deny the stern logic of the balance-sheet. Take Algeria as an example, which is not, I am aware, any longer reckoned as a colony, but which is one for all practical purposes, and is selected by the Duc de Broglie as an object-lesson in this connection. After an occupation of close on seventy years Algeria is financially a failure, although most favourably situated for material development, and is not, as the same writer justly observes, in a position to discharge her debt by the contribution of a single recruit to the French Army or of a single asset to the Budget.
The estimated expenditure of Algeria for 1898 exceeded the estimated revenue by nearly twenty million francs, even omitting from the estimates the departments of Public Debt, War, and Marine.
If we pass the other colonies of France in review they tell, as a rale, the same melancholy tale; and if we contrast them with our own colonial possessions, we cannot fail to be struck with their unsatisfactory and dependent condition, for it is rare to find one that can stand alone, while the contributions of the mother country to their support are often exceedingly heavy. They form, in fact, delicate and unhealthy excrescences on the parent body, drawing from it lifeblood in the forms of men and money, not to return them ten- or twenty-fold, and thus invigorate the whole, but to absorb both blood and treasure in the sands of distant and unproductive regions, whence they never re-issue. The cause of this failure is traced by the French themselves to the want of the true colonising spirit, to the failure to grasp the fact that the despatch of troops to a distant region, there to plant the French flag, does not of itself constitute that region a useful colony, but that something more is wanted than conquest or even a bureaucratic administration of the conquered territory. The prevailing view appears to be that expressed in an article I read some little time ago in a French military periodical, which selects for unqualified praise the system, attributed to Bugeaud in Algeria, of establishing a series of military colonies—coteries would perhaps be a truer word-each consisting of a group of discharged soldiers.
Many as are the virtues of the military spirit, and great as are the influences a military training may exert for good, they are not,
I think, altogether those that we require in our colonists, and certainly the two examples the French writer quotes are scarcely happy from his point of view; for in selecting Canada and Algeria as the types to be copied, he seems to have forgotten that the one has passed from the possession of his nation, and now, under a very different régime, supplies one of the most remarkable instances of a race of foreign origin living in loyalty and contentment under another Government, and that the other can scarcely be regarded as a flourishing and independent colony, occupying a stable commercial or political position.
Yet, based on these striking examples, he is not afraid to declare:
Le seul instrument qui puisse s'appliquer à une cuvre colonisatrice ainsi comprise, c'est l'armée. Une entreprise militaire peut coloniser dignement, honnétement. ...
Statesman's Year Book, 1898.