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examiner's resources, that, instead of framing questions, such as his own superior knowledge should have suggested, he has copied them, in many instances literally, from De Fivas' grammar, a work which owes its popularity perhaps only to the circumstance that the teacher who uses it does not require a perfect knowledge of French, and needs to have none of its idioms. I imagine the grim smile of a German examiner if he were shown one of our French matriculation papers; and I have an idea of what his answer would be if he were asked what he thought of the test.
Another, and a very important reason why the mode of examination should undergo a radical change, is the circumstance that the matriculation examination, so called, does not only test the fitness of those who wish to enter the University, in order to follow the lectures, but that it examines for the civil service as well. In fact, even teachers and governesses have come to consider it necessary to obtain a certificate from our Alma Mater. I think it very necessary that a public test should be applied, but I regret that, as far as modern languages are concerned, the standard for French is too low, and that neither the German nor the French papers enable us to judge whether a student knows anything of the language or not.
The importance of the living tongues to those of our youth who intend to follow business pursuits can scarcely be overrated, and it is a pity that they should be deluded into the opinion of having acquired a knowledge which they do not possess. It is but natural that when they find that they can put the little they know to no practical use in after life, they will abandon all further attempt to learn. Thus a useful, and to the business man an all-important, study, is practically being discouraged, instead of being cultivated and fostered by us as much as we have it in our power to do.
An attempt seems to have been made in some of our schools to divide them into a modern and a classical side, but I fear that in the former the study of Latin is still too much encouraged, to the exclusion almost of German. In Prussia, as indeed throughout Germany, the distinction between the Realschule and the Gymnasium is very marked in this respect, the former discarding entirely the teaching of Latin and Greek. But the pupil of the Realschule also enters the University and without even the slightest knowledge of the ancient tongues of Greece or Rome.
I will not speak of the importance of the study of modern languages to all students, for I should only pursue a beaten track. Coleridge says that “the works of a past age seem to a young man
to be things of another race, but the writings of a contemporary possess a reality for him, and inspire an actual friendship, as of man for man.” I fear that to the majority of even our art students, modern foreign writers are a terra incognita, except by translation; and translation is no more the author himself. Shakespeare, in French, reads ridiculous; and Goethe's “Faust” in English versions seems a work of questionable value, notwithstanding the similarity, in some respects, of the two languages. Who could give in translation, without spoiling the meaning, the simple ditty, which, in his tragedy of “ Egmont,” Goethe puts into Clärchen's mouth:
Freudvoll und leidvoll,
Zum Tode betrübt;
Glücklich allein ist die Seele, die liebt. When Molière was prohibited by the first president, whom he had caricatured in the title-role, from representing the “ Tartuffe,” he avenged himself by stepping to the footlights, and saying to the spectators:-"Je suis bien faché, Messieurs. Vous auriez dû avoir le Tartuffe ce soir, mais Monsieur le premier président ne veut pas qu'on le joue." Could he have said so much in such simple words in any tongue but the French, and yet with such apparent ingenuousness?
CHEAP FREIGHTS AND COLONIAL
WHETHER Australia can compete with America in supplying the Old World with food, is one of the most serious problems which we are called upon to work out at the present time. Success or failure in this matter is largely a matter of transport, and, even with our ordinary internal trade, favourable results depend very much upon our command of cheap carriage and quick delivery. Under these circumstances, we are all interested in ascertaining the condition of our railway service. Is it efficiently managed; can it be improved; can we increase the facilities it offers, or offer those facilities at a cheaper rate?
We propose to devote this article to determining these points. The railway report for 1879 has just been issued, and, upon the whole, it is a most unsatisfactory document.
The net profits have never sufficed to pay the interest on the money borrowed to construct our roads, and the deficit annually grows greater. For 1879, it amounted to £166,223, or an increase of £24,982 over the previous year. The working expenses were heavier by £14,925, and the interest by £15,489, or a total addition of about £30,000, while the revenue had grown only some £5000. The number of passengers carried had increased by nearly ten per cent., but, strange to say, as the lines grew longer the journeys got shorter, so that the receipts have suffered to the extent of about £3000. The goods traffic had diminished by 11,000 tons, and the freights by £18,823. On the other hand, the live stock traffic increased by forty per cent., although crippled by the stock-tax; and the parcels traffic, stimulated by lowered rates, was improving most satisfactorily.
On the Hobson's Bay lines, the recent reduction of fares had been followed by an increase of half-a-million of passengers, and as
this augmentation in numbers has already nearly compensated for the diminished fare, and promises a profit before long, the procedure stands amply justified. Every section of our railway system has suffered during the year under review, and while the expenses per train-mile have decreased, the revenue has decreased still faster. The former now stand at 3s. 8:40d., and the latter at 7s. 0.71d.; while the net revenue pays 3.57 per cent. upon the cost. As the capital has been borrowed at the rate of about 5.40 per cent., there is a difference, which is represented by the deficit to which we have alluded.
With this epitome of the balance-sheet in our minds, let us pass on to consider the sources of the revenue and expenditure. We shall commence by glancing at our tariff of charges, and by comparing our rates with those ruling elsewhere. Taking the passenger trade first, we find that the popular fare is calculated at the rate of 1.25d. per mile. The East Indian railways carry passengers at as low a rate as one farthing; the rate in England and the State of Massachusetts is about one penny; in South Australia, 1}d.; in New South Wales and Queensland, 2d.; and in New Zealand, 3d. On the whole, therefore, we consider that our popular passenger charges are moderate, and it is not necessary for our purpose to examine into the first-class fares.
Now, let us compare the freight-tariffs of Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, and Queensland. We shall find that, to suit public convenience, the various tariff-sheets divide freightable goods into about 175 articles, of which number about 155 are common to the tariffs of all the colonies named. Taking then the fiftymile distance as a convenient basis for investigation, an examination of the 155 items discloses the following facts. Three articles are carried at similar rates in all the colonies; ninety we carry at rates which are intermediate, being less than those charged in some colonies, and more than those charged in others. For nineteen items we charge more than any of our neighbours, and for forty-three we charge less.
Amongst the nineteen dear items we find some native products which ought to receive more lenient treatment. For instance, fruit is charged 13s. 6d. per ton in Victoria, and only 5s. 8d. in New South Wales; fish, 21s. in Victoria, 12s. 6d. in New South Wales, Smelted copper— Victoria, 21s.; South Australia, 14s. 6d.; New South Wales, 12s. 4d. Seeds—Victoria, 21s.; Queensland 12s. 6d. Turnips—Victoria, 13s. 6d.; New South Wales, 5s. 8d. Frozen or pre
served meat does not appear amongst the nineteen, but as it is just now an item of particular interest, we may say that the charge for its transport is in Victoria, 13s. 6d., and in New South Wales, 7s. 5d. How can we expect to foster this trade when we burden the industry so heavily? The policy of the procedure is shortsighted. A low rate would eventually lead to beasts being slaughtered at convenient inland places, whence the meat would be forwarded by rail for shipment, and thus an important new item of freight would be created.
So much then for the number of the differences in these tariffs ; let us next ascertain their extent. We find that the New South Wales railways carry eighty-two articles, at rates under ours. In the case of ten of these the advantage does not exceed thirty-three per cent., but for the remaining seventy-two items, ours are the dearer by from thirty-three to one hundred and forty per cent. On the other hand, we undercharge the New South Wales railways in about seventy-eight instances; our advantage exceeding fifty per cent. in only two cases, and being less than five per cent. in thirty, the others coming between. Our charges will not compare favourably with those of Europe or America; for instance, in England and in the United States, agricultural produce is carried at less than one farthing per mile, whilst we demand three halfpence. The conclusion to which we come is, that our freights are reasonable relatively to those of most of our neighbours, but are high as compared with those of New South Wales, of England, or of the States.
Again, after deducting the working expenses from the income, our tariff returns a net profit of 3s. 4.31d. per train mile. The East Indian lines return only 2s. 10d., the New South Wales and South Australia, 2s. 9d.; Queensland and those of the United Kingdom, 2s. 8d.; New Zealand, 1s. 6d.; and Tasmania, 7d. Therefore, if we take the working expenses as the basis, our charges are very dear as compared with those of all the countries named.
It is almost superfluous to say anything in favour of cheap freights. The effect of dear freights is that produce nets less than it would do otherwise; and stores, which are usually bought where the produce is sold, cost more. The purchasing power suffers a double drain, trade is cramped, and industries which would start under other auspices are repressed. Cheap freights have effected the most startling transformations of trade which the world has witnessed. In Massachusetts, a movement to get the tariff down commenced in 1865, and soon rates fell sixty-six per cent. So much did this reduction stimulate business, that in ten years the