It is simply impossible within the limits of this chapter to trace out the whole process. Enough to say that as a rule, to which of course there are exceptions, one man’s prosperity means some one else’s prosperity. Suppose I am a beggar. I wear practically no clothing. The little I have is what somebody else has cast off. I have no home. I sleep in the street. I get very little food, and that I do not pay for. I produce nothing. My children, if I have any, are wastrels like myself. But I am lifted out of this beggary, I become a productive worker. I get a home, wear clothes, buy food, educate my children. Not only have I improved my own circumstances, but I have helped to improve the circumstances of others. Builders, shopkeepers, food-producers, all profit by my redemption.
Now, if not one wastrel only, but 1,000,000 such are raised, a mighty impetus is given to industry of every kind, and the border-landers, instead of being driven on the black rocks by the tide of adverse surroundings, begin to drive back the tide, and conquer the earth, and subdue it, till the border-landers will be border-landers no longer, and the dreadful days of hunger will live only in the stories of famine and want, which the grey old man will tell to his happy and prosperous grandchildren, and ten thousand links of love between emigrant sons and home-staying fathers will bind the fertile plains of Ceylon, Burmah, Africa, and other countries to the populous shores of India.
ELEMENTS OF HOPE.
The picture which I have endeavoured to paint in the foregoing pages is dark enough to strike despair into the hearts of the most sanguine. And if there were indeed no way of escape for these victims of sin and misfortune, we might well prefer to draw a veil over the sad scene, and to bury in the ocean of forgetfulness, the very recollection of this earthly purgatory.
But there are elements of hope in the consideration of this problem, which should prevent us from regarding it despair.
1. In the first place, supposing that we are correct in computing this human wastage at from twenty-five to twenty-six million souls, this would represent only some five million families. It is true that looked at even in this light the number is vast. But surely it is not impossible for India to make sufficient and suitable provision for them within her own borders, to say nothing of the “regions beyond” if reasonable thought and effort were put forth in dealing with the problem.
2. Again, as regards the numbers, it will be found easier to deal with these great national problems in bulk than piecemeal, and their very size will give them an impetus when once they are fairly set in motion. It will be found as easy to dispose of 1,000 people as of a hundred, and of 50,000 as of a thousand, if they be properly organised. Indeed, for many reasons it is easier. The larger the community, the more work they at once provide for each other. Once let this social ball be set rolling on a large scale, and we may believe that it will soon get to move of its own weight.