Lapas attēli

is conceived by the present writer that very large changes in European investment are likely to occur in the course of the next few years, and that a liberal transfer of capital will be made from European to American securities. Experience conclusively shows that, in the past, the casual investor has given but slight personal attention to the choice or protection of his investments in American railroads. It is accordingly thought possible that a few practical observations on salient points in the situation may be acceptable to those investors who have neither time nor inclination for any approach to exhaustive investigation of the subject.

The present notes are confined to a very limited aspect of the railroad problem-viz., that small range of conditions which affects the interest of the investor, as such. Even in a most superficial view of the subject, the conclusions of experts must inevitably be utilized as data for specific inferences relating to the interest of an investor. In this view, many conclusions contained in the valuable works above indicated have been used or referred to, and the writer's obligations to their authors are freely acknowledged.





SOME fifteen years ago it was held by the writer's friends and by a large section of English society that the government and institutions of America were separated from those of England by an impassable gulf. Every thing American was thought to be more or less ephemeral and transitory, because unprotected by ancient traditions, tending to the growth of an enlightened conservatism. Rights of property in that country were thought by many Englishmen to be more or less illusory, and the permanence of social institutions uncertain and untrustworthy.

Concerning English institutions, on the other hand, a different impression prevailed. It was thought that around property in Great Britain, and especially around the time-honoured freehold, there stood the British Constitution, firm as the hills which stood around Jerusalem. A man who seriously compared the stability of property in England with that of property in America would have been considered scarcely fit to be at large. But since that time many things have happened. Entries have been made on England's record which somewhat alter the relative situation. Such words as "Midlothian,"

"Kilmainham," "National League," "Fundamental Law," "Home Rule," "Three acres and a cow," "Ransom," "House League," suggest political inferences which fifteen years ago were never dreamed of. London has rioted, and Queen Victoria has abdicated in favour of Mr. Parnell. It has been made clear that the equal enforcement of established law and the protection of existing rights are no longer regarded as absolutely essential to British freedom and prosperity; but are subject to modification or suspension, for the mere purposes of party warfare or personal popularity.

Now the rights of property have been ascertained and defined by a long line of thoughtful precedents and wellreasoned decisions. The immense value of certainty in respect of the rights of property, as a factor in credit and commerce, can scarcely be over-rated. Upon this certainty, as upon a sure foundation, was gradually built up the superstructure of England's commercial supremacy. It is true that the present age is apt to be resentful of authority. But the fathers of English jurisprudence, though certainly not all Solomons, were not invariably simpletons. In the aggregate of their decisions may be found a comprehensive chart, which thoughtfully and critically defines the rights of a free people in the property which they own and the remedies incident thereto. To the casual observer it seems somewhat rash to make these solemn and enlightened sanctions subject to the impulses of the restless or lawless members of the community. In a case where such broad and vital interests are concerned, is it worth while to tear up the chart which marks with precision dangerous reefs and safe channels, and to trust to the mere passion of the hour for a safe voyage? This chart which law has laid down is cold-blooded and criti

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »