Page:Britain's Deadly Peril.djvu/45

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weights of inferior rubbish pay at a rate which would be ample for the finest coal that could grace the grate of a West-End drawing-room.

Can we shut our eyes to the fact that in this shameful exploiting of the very poor by the unpatriotic lie all the elements of a very serious danger? Let us not forget the noble services the working-classes of Britain are rendering to our beloved country. They have given the best and dearest of their manhood in the cause of the Empire, and it is indeed a pitiful confession of weakness, and an ironic commentary on the grandiose schemes of "social reform" with which they have been tempted of late years, if the Government cannot or will not protect them from the human leeches—the Birthday knights in the making—who suck their ill-gotten gains from those least able to protect themselves.

The Government have promised an inquiry which may, if unusual expedition is shown, make a "demonstration" with the coal-dealers just about the time the warm weather arrives. Prices will then tumble, the Government will solemnly pat itself upon the back for its successful interference, and the coal merchants, having made small or large fortunes as the case may be during the winter, will make a great virtue of reducing their demands to oblige the Government. In the meantime, the poor are being fleeced in the interests of an unscrupulous combine. Is there no peril here to our beloved country? Are we not justified in saying that the machinations of these gangs of unscrupulous capitalists are rapidly tending to produce a condition of affairs which may, at any moment, expose us to a social upheaval which would contain all the germs of an unparalleled disaster?