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For an overview of the literature on Everest from first sighting until first summit, see my essay, From First Sight to Summit: A Guide to the Literature on Everest up to the Ascent. This is a monumental piece of well documented research. But what is most refreshing is how well it reads. It is a book that flows from cover to cover. I only wish that the authors of my history books in school had the same combination of passion, command of material and written language. This is a master work. Another great history of Everest can be found in the collection of photographs, maps and first person accounts edited by Peter Gillman.
This is a wonderful book covering the history of the mountain from its first "discovery" by Europeans up to the time of writing, If one wanted an overview of the mountain, and was going to buy only two books, I suspect that Unsworth and Gillman might be the best choices. They complement each other beautifully. In order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1st summit, National Geographic Magazine put out a special edition in May This issue is of interest less for the articles, than for the excellent large format map of Everest, showing the key routes.
What is of additional value is that this map is available on-line, as is an interactive 3D relief map of the Mountain and surrounding region, and a degrees interactive panorama view from the summit. Click here to access the site. Both the physical copy of the magazine and the online resources will likely be of interest to students of the mountain. While I have a general interest in Everest, my focus has been mainly on the expeditions leading up to the first ascent in by Hillary and Tenzing.
My collection covering this period is complete famous last words! Buxton, A key part of this document is the table at the end of this section. The European exploration of the Everest region is rooted in map making. From many perspectives, there can be no empire without maps, and Britain at the time was certainly an empire. Mapping India was no small feat. The mapping of India, especially with the precision at which it was done, counts as one of the great achievements of the era. But then, Britain was not the only empire in the region.
The Chinese cartographers, however, were not climbers. Not so the British. They did much of the early climbing in the Himalaya. They were simply? Some of the early pioneers included W. Graham see essays in Macleod and in Thompson et. Conway , Charles Bruce , and Tom Longstaff. As early as , Clinton Dent , the then president of the Alpine Club of Great Britain, wrote that he believed that Everest could be climbed.
Then, in early , during a mission to bestow British recognition to the new Mehtar of Chitral, the first proposal to explore Everest was probably made. Bruce claims that Younghusband made it to him, and Younghusband claims that the idea came from Bruce. The first hint of a follow-through came in , when as part of the Younghusband mission to Tibet in , Captain C G. Rawling was dispatched to map parts of Tibet, including territory as close as 60 miles from the north side of the mountain.
While Viceroy of India, , Curzon attempted to initiate a joint expedition to the mountain through Nepal, by the Alpine Club and the Royal Geographical Society; however, he was not able to get approval to enter Nepal Younghusband, In , to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Alpine Club, there was another attempt to organize a reconnaissance expedition, this time through Tibet; however, again permission to enter the country was denied — this time by the British government, which was afraid of upsetting ongoing negotiations with Russia Longstaff, To this point, most of the discussion had been more about exploring the mountain, and making a reconnaissance, not climbing it.
Kellas , was one of the key catalysts that started shifting mountaineers thinking about the big peaks. However, the initiative for the Alpine Club and Royal Geographical Society to form the Mount Everest Committee, and launch the first expedition grew out of the discussion following a talk to the Alpine Club in by J. Noel Noel, ; Younghusband, , For a good summary of the first three British expeditions to the mountain, see Younghusband's The Epic of Everest. It is a contemporary description of the expeditions of , and , and can be easily found since it has recently been reissued in paperback.
The full text and photographs are also available on line. This book is as interesting for its style as for its content. The language is old fashioned but Younghusband's perspective on the use of oxygen and "fair means" is modern, even today. Reading this early account brings one far closer to understanding the frame of mind and attitude of the protagonists than is obtained by reading about the events in more recent second-hand accounts, such as Unsworth's, which is not a slight on Unsworth's writing or research.
Senior Fellow, Hillsdale College Churchill Project, Writer and Historian
In Younghusband wrote another book, Everest: The Challenge , the second edition of which summarized the Everest expeditions up to It also presented his views on high altitude mountaineering and the Himalaya. The primary sources for the Everest expeditions are the official accounts. Concerning the pre-war expeditions to the north side of the mountain, there are Howard-Bury's Mount Everest: The Reconnaissance, , Bruce's The Assault on Mount Everest, , Norton's The Fight for Everest: , Ruttledge's Everest , Ruttledge's Everest: The Unfinished Adventure , which is the account of the expedition which he led led, and Tilman's Mount Everest , an account of the last pre-war expedition, and the last in this series to the North side.
The account of the reconnaissance expedition led by Shipton did not appear in book form, except almost as an aside in Ruttledge's Everest: The Unfinished Adventure. However, Shipton did publish an account of the expedition " The Mount Everest Reconnaissance, ", in the Himalayan Journal, in The expedition led by Tilman is especially interesting in how it broke tradition with all of the previous ones, in its relatively "light weight" approach. While the weather dictated that no serious assault on the summit could be made, this expedition paved the way for the even smaller expeditions that Tilman and Shipton were famous for, and led to the alpine-type approaches more common today.
Again, this was essentially an expedition that did not use supplemental oxygen. There are also first person accounts from members of these expeditions. For example, Finch , and Longstaff each include chapters that document their respective participation in the expedition.
A favorite of mine is Smythe's account of the 4th British expedition in , Camp Six. This is an exceptionally descriptiveaccount of both the walk in through Tibet and the climb itself. As with the earlier British expeditions, the effort got tantalizingly close. Three climbers in two assaults Wyn Harris and Wagner in the first, and Smythe in the second matched or exceeded Norton's high point of 8, metres, and did so without supplemental oxygen, and despite being plagued by bad weather.
Yet another account of this expedition can be found in Shipton's early autobiography, Upon that Mountain , which also covers his experience with the expeditions of , '36 and ' While the books that being discussed have to do with climbing the mountain, one footnote of interest is the first flight over the mountain in , described by Fellowes, et.
This flight was a logistical and engineering tour de force, and resulted in the first aerial photographs of the mountain and its surroundings, which are reproduced in the books. Another interesting early flight was that of Robert Scott. In addition to the officially sanctioned expeditions, there was also one extraordinary covert attempt on the mountain by the EnglishmanMaurice Wilson. Wilson believed that his faith in God, and his diet, would see him to the summit, despite his complete lack of mountaineering experience.
His expected success would thenprovide the world an example of the power of faith. While one cannot help but admire his spirit and determination, his judgment was lacking, and the result was that he died in his attempt. An account of his story, based largely on his extensive diaries, can be found in Roberts' I'll Climb Mount Everest Alone. II moved to the south side of the mountain - from Tibet to Nepal. Tilman and Houston made a preliminary expedition to the Everest region in Nepal in , which is one of the expeditions described in Tilman's, Nepal Himalaya.
Then in Shipton led a reconnaissance expedition to the mountain, described in his Mt. Everest Reconnaissance Expedition , which is also discussed by Hillary who was part of the team in both, High Adventure and View from the Summit. They made it through the Khumbu Ice Fall to the Western Cwm, thereby establishing that the mountain would "go" from the south side.
Then it was the turn of the Swiss. This was the first time that an official expedition had been mounted to Everest by anyone but the British, who thought of the mountain as "theirs. Tenzing Norgay, along with the Swiss climber Lambert, came very close to reaching the summit. Tenzing's account of the expedition can be found in his first autobiography, Tiger of the Snow. Two other books on the Swiss expeditions are, a collection of essays editted by Kurz, The Mountain World: Everest , and Roch's beautiful book of photos and essays, Everest The British, watched these expeditions with great anxiety.
With the hope that the Swiss would not succeed, they made plans for an attempt in In order to be better prepared for this attempt, while the Swiss were active on Everest, the British under Shipton set out on a training expedition to Cho Oyo, which is described by Hillary in High Adventure. While they came very close, the Swiss expeditions did fail, so the British had their chance in - a chance which they were well aware was likley to be their last before the mountain would be scaled.
This expedition was led by Hunt, whose official account in, The Ascent of Everest , is dry, but nevertheless compelling. I always find this term offensive. The concept of "conquering" a mountain is absurd, and is contrary to mountaineering as I think of it. However, given the military approach and siege tactics used, this title is not surprising. Hunt's book includes a chapter written by Hillary describing the final summit bid with Tenzing.
It is extremelyinteresting to compare Hillary's account here with his more recent one in his View from the Summit. The latter describes things in a far more subjective and candid manner. Tenzing's account of the climb is covered in his first autobiography, Tiger of the Snow. One of the classic books on this expedition, and one of my favorites overall, is Noyce's South Col. In my opinion, this is one of the best "climber's eye view" in the literature. Another book worth reading is by Morris who was the correspondent for The Times assigned to the expedition.
Rather than a description of the climb, it more a portrait of Nepal and the Sherpa people in the early 50's. It is a portrait such as I have not read elsewhere. A small book, but wonderful to read. While the Times had an exclusive on the story of the expedition, that didn't stop their competitor, The Daily Mail, from dispatching a correspondent to Everest. The story of the interloper, Ralph Izzard, who was no mountaineer is told in his, An Innocent on Everest.
I also think that Charles Evans' sketch book, Eye on Everest , is well worth seeking out, for its humour, as well as its sketches and cartoons. Other books relating to this climb are referenced in the table below. Another source of interest is Steele's book on Shipton, which gives a good second hand account of the expeditions immediately leading up to the expedition, and the controversy surrounding Hunt's appointment as leader over Shipton, who did not take part in the expedition but continued to provide advice.
This is an issue completely avoided in Hunt's book. How this expedition justifies three books, I have no idea. Why I have all three is even a bigger mystery. They aspire to be as much detective as climbing books, but this aspiration is somewhat diminished due to the rather shallow research that was conducted. One of the key pieces of the puzzle that helped guide the search was the ice axe of Irvine. This had been found by Wyn Harris near the ridge, just below the First Step, during the expedition.
Its discovery is described in the official account by Ruttledge , as well as in Smythe's, Camp Six. Significantly, Smythe's book includes an appendix specifically on the discovery of this axe, and what he believed it signified with respect to the fate of Mallory and Irvine. As it turns out, through the discoveries of the expedition, Smythe's conclusions appear to have been correct insofar as Mallory's body was found where he had predicted in this appendix. That Mallory died of exposure after a fall is now clear.
What caused the fall and how Irvine died, are still unsolved, and almost certainly unsolvable questions. It is virtually certain that they did not get to the summit, and fell below the First Step as suggested by Smythe. But the discovery of Mallory is an amazing story that further supports Smythe's judgment and understanding of mountaineering. It is well written, researched, and beautifully produced. Coming back to Ghosts of Everest, The Lost Explorer , and Lost on Everest , while the expedition and its findings were interesting, they warrant criticism for a number of reasons.
Anyone trying to uncover the "mysteries" of the Mallory and Irvine should reasonably be expected to read everything from the expedition available, such as Shipton's Upon that Mountain , and especially the appendix in Smythe's Camp Six. After all, these were the first climbers on the ridge since the disappearance of Mallory and Irvine, they were climbers familiar with both Mallory and his approach to climbing, and the only people alive at the time who had first hand knowledge of the location and context.
From the perspective of history and scholarship, my view is that the specific issues analyses, conjectures, theories, etc. Yet, the only account that I found which cites, much less discusses, Smythe's Appendix, for example, is Breashears and Salkeld's Last Climb. Furthermore, my sense is that any serious analysis needs to reflect a balanced analysis of the various interpretations or possibilities that might be drawn from the data. However, in my opinion, they are worthy of a more serious analysis and presentation. This general failure of most books on the disappearance of Mallory and Irvine suggests that, their efforts are often more of a treasure hunt, than scholarship or serious history.
Hence, I have almost no interest in this huge, and growing, volume of books speculating on, and romanticizing, Mallory and Irvine. Now, if one does wants to find controversy, then a much better place to find it is in the American expedition of , which is covered in Ullman's Americans on Everest. The story of the other half of this expedition, the ascent via the easier South Col route which resulted in the first American ascent by Jim Whittaker is described in Whittaker's autobiography , a somewhat disappointing book in terms of the little light that it sheds on the climb.
For something completely different, there is Miura and Perlman's account of Miura's attempt to ski straight down the Lhoste face. He fell most of the way, and yet lived to tell about it. To me, this expedition, and the resulting book and film constitute some kind of bizarre cultural artifact that just makes me shake my head in bewilderment. In some ways the book is worth reading just to have it reaffirmed that truth is stranger than fiction.
Clicking on the link will take you to the full citation and a summary. The format that I have followed is based on Neate Walker a , Freshfield , Walker b. Bruce and Younghusband first suggest mounting expedition to explore Everest. Bruce , Younghusband Rawling leads survey of region north of Everest. Noel , Kellas publishes study on feasibility of climbing higher Himalayan peaks. Kellas British Climbing Expedition. Younghusband Boustead , Greene , Longland , Shipton , , , Smythe , , , Tharkay Fellowes et al Roberts Hanson , Russell n.
Shipton , Astill Ruttledge Snaith , Ullman Hagen et al. Secret flight over mountain by K. D Neame, RAF. Anglo-American expedition, led by Oscar Houston. Cowles , Tilman Becker-Larsen Bryant , Hillary , , , Murray , , Sale Shipton , , , , Temple , Ward , Tharkay Spring Swiss Expedition, led by E. Dittert et al Unsubstantiated and suspect Russian attempt from the north in fall. Gippenreiter , Kurz Band , Shipton , Venables , Ward In marked contrast, in terms of mountaineering, is Bonington's Everest the Hard Way , a wonderful book describing the British expedition that made the first ascent of the South West Face.
In terms of spectacular ascents of the mountain, few can compete with Messner's solo climb of the north face, without supplemental oxygen, described in The Crystal Horizon: Everest - The First Solo Ascent. This book is extremely wellwritten. It is also very well researched, in that it goes beyond the obvious, "we climbed it, and here's how" type of account. It gives a great deal of background on the mountain, as well as Tibet and the route in. This expedition was interesting for its light style, climbing without Sherpa support, not taking the standard route, and for getting the first North American woman, Sharon Wood to the summit.
Perhaps the most remarkable verging on insane expedition was the four climber oxygenless ascent of the East Kangshung Face in , which is described by Venables in Everest Kangshung Face. This is also highly recommended. Another account of this climb, with fantastic photos, can be found in Webster's Snow in the Kingdom. The following is a table covering the literature on Everest from the period leading up to the first British expedition in , to the first ascent in The table is based on that in Neate's, Mountaineering and its Literature. I have added additional references to his, I now have all of the referenced books in my collection.
I have followed Neate's format in making the table, except that I use the first author's name, rather than a number, as the reference. Clicking on the reference will take you to the full citation and annotation in my bibliography. Books associated with more than a single expediton are indicated by the entry in the "Year" column showing a range e. Note that the definitive bibliography on Everest, up to , is the little known, but extremely well prepared, Climbing Mount Everest: The Bibliography , by Salkeld and Boyle.
For a more recent bibliography covering climbs up to , with a focus just on books rather than periodicals, etc. The following table carried on from the previous one. However, it is incomplete, and has the narrow intent of simply cataloguing the books in my collection by expedition, more-or-less following the table format used by Neate. Only post expeditions are included below. Ullman , Hornbein , Whittaker.
Venables , Webster. Coburn , Breashears , Norgay. Hemmleb , Firstbrook, Anker.
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Discussion about what happened on Everest in the spring of Everest has become almost as banal as it is tiresome. This is largely a result of the popularity of Krakauer's Into Thin Air. If only he wasn't such a good writer! The good news is that he draws so many people into the mountaineering literature. But then, that is also the bad news. Everyone is an expert and has an opinion, few have any practical mountaineering experience to back up their opinions, and many of these opinions are heavily biased due to Krakauer's compelling prose.
My argument is not against armchair mountaineers, which would largely include myself. Rather, it is the lack of inquiry that seems to accompany this lack of on-mountain experience. Partially due to the success of Krakauer's book, and partially due to the compelling nature of the events that took place, there are a number of other books that deal with the events of the spring of , most of which were like that of Krakauer written by people who were there. The bad news is that none of them are written as well as his, so opinion is partially shaped by the best writing rather than by the best analysis which may well be that of Krakauer, but it would be nice if this was due to a balanced evaluation of the content of the various stories rather than the form and style.
To be fair to Krakauer, he is not only the best writer of the lot, he is also the most experienced journalist, so it is not just the quality of his prose that has given his version the weight that it has assumed. Taken collectively, these books resemble Kurosawa's classic film Rashomon which examines the accounts of an event as recounted by a number of witnesses, each of whom has their own perspective and vested interest.
If there is a villain in Krakauer's version, it is Boukreev, the star guide on the Scott Fischer team. This is pretty compelling, and it is rare to see a book which is so pointedly directed at countering the opinions real and imagined articulated in another. And, just to make thing more interesting, the newer Illustrated Edition of Into Thin Air has a postscript that addresses some of the arguments made in The Climb.
Having read both The Climb and Into Thin Air, one will be of a very different state of opinion than if one read just one or the other. Confused might be the most likely state, which is all the more reason to dig deeper. Why not? What could be better than when scholarship and one's interest merge? Gammelgaard's book, while painful to read at times, in some ways is one of the best. Like Krakauer, Gammelgaard presents the view of one of the clients, and a relatively experienced one, at that. What I like about this book is its perspective on that seldom discussed concept: responsibility.
Between the new age views, and all-too-sensitive diary entries, Gammelgaard actually addresses the issues at a reasonable level of abstraction. She is explicit in terms of articulating the philosophy of guiding as exemplified by Boukreev vs. Hall, and gives some pretty compelling arguments on the side of the Boukreev school of thought. Essentially, she is of the view that at this level, the role of the guide is to teach you to look after yourself, not to hold your hand. The underlying rationale is that when not if thing go wrong and you are on your own, if you are used to relying on your guide rather than yourself, you will be unprepared.
From this perspective, an overly attentive guide is a danger not an asset unless the guide can guarantee to be always there and able, which - of course - they cannot do. In many ways, this analysis rings more true coming from a client and near-victim, than from Boukreev himself. He obviously had a more vested interest. It is pretty hard to discount the views of someone with the strength of spirit to survive despite being left for dead 3 times. A couple things are pretty interesting in this.
One is the view that comes out in both the interview and the book, that there was a "them and us" thing going on on the mountain. That is, he seems to say in both the book and the DVD interview that the Fischer crew looked after their own, and left the Hall clients to their own devices all of the Fischer team survived, other than Fischer himself. Nobody else suggests this, so it stood out pretty strongly to me. It is interesting, since as far as I can see, the behaviour of members of Hall's team towards Weathers after his first "resurrection" appears pretty shoddy, and this very much includes Krakauer, who was Weathers team-mate, and yet left him in a tent to die alone.
But this is likely too simple of an analysis. However, the events around this incident alone should make it clear that Into Thin Air is "a" story, perhaps a "good" story, but not "the" story or the "only" story. The Australian Mike Groom was one of the three guides for the Rob Hall team, and his experience is documented in a chapter of his climbing biography, Sheer Will. In some ways, Groom is self critical, especially in not having double checked on Andy Harris before descending from the South Summit.
However, he seems to have handled things rather well on the mountain, in particular in terms of Beck Weathers and Yasuka Namba. He only talks about what he personally experienced, rather than trying to give the whole story. In some ways, he tells more in doing so. For example, from reading Krakauer, one might easily get the impression that the members of the Fischer and Hall teams knew each other. Reading Groom, it is clear that they did not.
What Groom does not provide is any analysis or thoughts about the underlying decisions or actions on the climb. He states, for example, that the Hall and Fischer teams decided to team up on summit day to form a "powerful force trail breaking to the summit He states that "We planned to keep our eight climbers, three guides and five Sherpa within a distance of metres from front to back" which, seems a surprising thing, given the individual differences in ability and fitness of the team, especially at that altitude.
And he clearly states that the turn-around time was pm, and yet makes no comment when he describes discussions with Hall who was still ascending at pm. From the experience and perspective of a guide, one would hope for more insight. From a human being, I guess I understand. While Simpson was not on Everest that spring, he has somewhat earned the right to comment on issues around the ethics of leaving people to die on mountains, given his own experience that he recounts in Touching the Void. His writing on these events is pretty interesting, although, in my opinion, his perspective on events is perhaps too strongly shaped by Krakauer's account.
He emphatically makes the point that even if you feel that you cannot do anything to keep someone alive, if you can, you should at least do your best so that they are not left to die alone. Kropp, who was conducting his own expedition-of-one on the mountain while all of this was going on, represents the exact opposite of what Krakauer perhaps unfairly characterized as guided adventure tourists. His philosophy of climbing reflects his extreme definition of "fair means" which dictates that he must carry everything to and up the mountain himself, and accept no outside help.
One could only wish that his talents as a writer matched the quality of his spirit and expedition. For contrast, contempt, and another view from those on the mountain, the accounts of two other expeditions are pretty interesting. The other is that of the South African expedition, led by Ian Woodall. This expedition is described in two books, both hard to find. While essentially a climbing autobiography, the Breashears book spends a significant amount of space on the IMAX expedition.
Both Breashears and Coburn comment on what was going on on Everest, and especially on the evacuation of Weathers. Their ethics in this regard were exemplary. They risked their entire expedition to help, regrouped, and then went on to do the seeming impossible - getting an IMAX camera onto the summit and shooting some remarkable footage. Then there was the South African expedition. From Krakauer's telling, among others, one comes away with the impression that this was one of the most divisive and incompetent expedition to ever attempt the mountain, and that the expedition leader, Woodall, must be the biggest jerk that ever picked up an ice axe.
What does emerge is a strong sense that Woodall just seems to be someone who polarizes opinion. This is why the second book, by O'Dowd, is so interesting. Unlike the earlier book, this one addresses the conflicts within the team and with other teams. If nothing else, it is a pretty interesting portrait of human behaviour and responses. I talk about Woodall and Breashears together largely out of mischief.
Based on their written comments, it is hard to imagine greater mutual contempt. But despite what one might think of the other, it is hard to reconcile the statements, such as by Coburn, about Woodall's unwillingness to assist on the South Col, with the account by O'Dowd, that the South Africans provided radio communications during the storm, radio batteries for the New Zealand team, and that Woodall made two forays onto the col during the storm, where it is claimed that he encountered Neil Laughton, of the Henry Todd team, on one trip, and Stuart Hutchison, of Rob Hall's team, on another.
Where the truth about the South African lies is hard to determine. But people's lives were at stake, and this was not a literary debate. This is brought to mind in Dickinson's The Death Zone , which is the account of his team's experience on the north side of the mountain at the same time. To me, it is interesting to contrast Dickinson's perspective regarding the fate of the 3 Indian climbers on the north side, to that expressed by Simpson in Dark Shadows Falling.
I cannot help but wonder about the degree to which Dickinson's relative inexperience led to his "there was nothing that could be done" assessment of the situation. In medicine, there is a dictum: "You are not dead until you are warm and dead. But how compelling a reason is that for leaving conscious people to die alone? Smarter and more experienced people than me hold different views on this, so I cannot claim to have any answers.
In fact, none of these books gives "the answer" or "the truth". One glimpse of common sense, and which addresses some of the most prevailing myths as he describes them , is a interview with S tuart Hutchison in Explore magazine by Geoff Powter. It may be that all of them are too soft on Hall and Fisher who are typically shouldered with the ultimate responsibility for the controllable aspects of what went on on the south side.
Despite appearing to be nice guys and highly experienced, their judgment seems to have been lacking in many regards. But Stuart Hutchison points out what each mountaineer should know: ultimate responsibility for decisions rests on the shoulders of the individual climber. In climbing as in football, it is important not to confuse arm-chair quarterbacking with the real thing, no matter how literate one might be. Strong opinions are easy to form when you have nothing a stake. But that is not to say that there is nothing to learn from reading these various accounts.
It is likely never a bad thing to be reminded that there are multiple viewpoints on almost all situations. What these books do do, is provide the catalyst for serious thought, and the opportunity to address some fairly serious issues that extend beyond mountaineering. For those who have the time, I recommend reading them all.
For those who don't, I recommend Rashomon. For the true student, one should certainly do both. One of the key issues that arose in the aftermath of Everest had to do with having inexperienced climbers on the mountain. Yet, absent amongst the strong words exchanged was a small matter of history - one which I believe was both germane to the issue, and could have helped lead to a less heated, and more worthy debate. Despite having no previous climbing experience, he was invited by his cousin, General Charles Bruce , to join the British Everest Expedition in the capacity of transportation officer and interpreter.
Due to a range of circumstances, including fatigue and illness amongst the climbers, Geoffrey Bruce, along with a Gurkha NCO from his regiment, Tejbir Bura who, likewise, had no previous climbing experience , joined George Finch on a push from base camp on an attempt to get as high as possible - hopefully the summit. The three pushed above the North Col towards the north shoulder, where a storm forced them to camp.
The next day they proceeded, however Tejbir turned back to the last camp due to fatigue, while Finch and Bruce continued using supplemental oxygen. In their push they reached 8, metres, which exceeded the previous high point which had been reached by Mallory, Norton and Somervell without supplementary oxygen.
Hence, they set a new world altitude record - and did so on Bruce's first climb! Bruce was subsequently invited to join the expedition, but this time in the joint capacity of Transportation Officer and Climber. If one argues points in terms of black and white, there is a reasonable argument to be made that one has to draw one of two conclusions.
Either, Finch was as irresponsible in taking Tejbir Bura and Geoffrey Bruce onto the mountain, as were any of the guides on Everest. That seems especially so since I have seen no claims that any of the clients in had no previous experience. Alternatively, one has to acknowledge that the issue is not black-or-white, and is therefore worthy of a much more considered discussion. For me, the take-away lesson is that if an issue is important enough to argue strongly, then it is also important enough to research so that it can be discussed from the most informed position possible.
One of the great things about mountain culture is the breadth and depth of its literature, and access to it. This example suggests to me that too few are availing themselves of that literature before leaping into the fray with strong, inflexible opinions. The literature is just one source - deep experience being another. But especially without either or both, it strikes me that we would all be better off if we entered conversations with a bit less hubris, and certainty in our positions, and instead, did more listening, and were open to actually learning — something that I believe holds regardless on which side of the issue one is on.
While I might be wrong, I am nevertheless, also listening. Another reference if you are interested in the views of some of the participants is the following Mountainzone web sites:. This climb was remarkable for a number of reasons, mostly to do with style:. To make this expedition all the more remarkable, Markus Schmuck and Fritz Wintersteller followed their ascent of Broad Peak with a flash ascent of a nearby mountain, Skil Brum 7, m , which they climbed in pure alpine style.
Starting from base camp at 4, metres, they climbed to 6, metres where they camped. The following day they summited and then returned to their high camp. They descended the next morning. From all of the above, this expedition was a wonderful precursor of the new style that what was to follow, such as that exemplified in the climbs of Messner and Habeler. But there was a dark side to this expedition.
It suffered from interpersonal difficulties. By the time of the second successful summit attempt, the members were no longer climbing as a team of four, but as two teams of two: Schmuck and Wintersteller, and Buhl and Diemberger. Further, following the ascent of Skil Brum by Schmuck and Wintersteller, Buhl and Diemberger made an alpine-style attempt on Chogolisa 7, m. It was on this attempt that Buhl was killed. Buxton, William Broad Peak and the Austrian Karakoram Expedition.
Canadian Alpine Journal , 89, A video interview that I conducted with the expedition's Pakistani liasion officer, Qader Saeed, can be found here:. As the first mountain over 8, metres that was climbed, Annapurna is a special mountain. The first ascent was made in by a French team. This latter is the largest selling mountaineering book of all time. It is a gripping story, and extremely well written.
The problem is, the accuracy of the story that it tells has recently been questioned by Roberts in hisbook, True Summit - What Really Happened on the Legendary Ascent of Annapurna. In his book, Herzog described a heroic adventure by a team unified by a common goal. But Roberts contradicts this characterization of the expedition. A good example that he cites occurred at the airport right at the point of departure.
After all the preparations, and without any advance notice, Herzog sprung an agreement on the team members compelling them not to write about the expedition for 5 years. The agreement also required them to hand over all diaries and photos at the expedition's end. The penalty for not signing was not traveling. Remember, this was at the airport! Herzog was to have sole control over the story and how it was told. Likewise, in the aftermath of the climb, the team ethic described in the book, was belied by Herzog's behaviour.
Far from promoting the team, the book notwithstanding, Herzog ended up receiving the bulk of the credit. Others, especially Lachenal, who also made the summit, were left in relative obscurity, while Herzog parlayed his celebrity into a very successful career in politics and business. For him the loss of his toes and fingers was worth it. Lachenal, who summitted with Herzog, wanted to turn back on summit day. He continued to the summit due to his ethics as a guide. Herzog would not turn back, and if left to continue alone, Lachenal was convinced that he would die.
The result of this loyalty was that, along with his toes and fingers, he lost his ability to climb, and therefore his career. Who then, is the "hero" of Annapurna? Given the stature that Herzog has assumed in the mountaineering community, it is not surprising that someone would come to his defense. The champion that emerged was none other than Messner, by way of his recent book, Annapurna: 50 Years of Expeditions in the Death Zone. Unfortunately for "Mr. Annapurna, " the title bestowed on Herzog by Messner, this is a hastily written and poorly argued defense.
Yes, Herzog and Lachenal got to the top and back. And, as Messner argues, they would not have done so were it not for the determination of Herzog. But the question that is begged is, "Was it worth it? Messner clearly believes that it is, even while making clear that Herzog went too far. If the consequences affected only Herzog, then it would be easy to agree with Messner. But by his behaviour, Herzog compelled Lachenal to also suffer the consequences. But while Herzog was in some way compensated for his losses, Lachenal was not. For all intents and purposes, the making of Herzog's future career spelled the end of Lachenal's.
As an aside, it has been argued that one of the reasons for Herzog getting the credit was the summit photo taken by Lachenal. The photo of Lachenal by Herzog was not usable. Were this a credible explanation, it would be too ironic. But it isn't, and one need only reflect that there is no photo of Hillary, just Tenzing, on the summit of Everest, and yet we have heard of Hillary, nevertheless.
If one only considers what happened on the mountain, one might again be inclined to agree with Messner. He argues that Herzog cannot be held accountable for how other people reacted to the climb, or Lachenal's choices on the mountain. Based on his actions before and after the climb, it is hard to accept Herzog's behaviour as something that happened due to the stress of being on the mountain and at altitude. His last minute making members sign the agreement not to publish for five years and to hand over materials at the end of the expedition, as a condition of going, is one example. Note, there was little precedent for this.
For example, on the British expedition to Everest in , accounts were written by not only the leader, Ruttledge, but also by Boustead , Greene , Longland , Shipton , , , Smythe , , and Tharkay. Herzog's censoring of Lachenal's account of the climb before it was published posthumously is another example. These and other examples make clear that Herzog's behaviour was systemic, and therefore seemingly indefensible. Messner is not persuasive. However, it is still worth considering his viewpoint.
His own accomplishments warrant his opinions being heard. Having heard them, I for one discard them as mainly specious. Those interested in finding out more about other members of the French expedition, are directed to Terray's Conquistadors of the Useless , which is as brilliantly written as it is titled. It is an autobiography which includes a discussion of Annapurna, among other important climbs although do not expect any controversy from Terray's account.
This is probably my favorite mountaineering book of all time. Before leaving the topic of the ascent of Annapurna, I can't help but contrast the condition of the French team after the climb, with that of the participants of the much earlier British expeditions to Everest, such as described by Younghusband and Smythe. In , Herzog and his team were climbing almost 30 years after the first British Everest expedition. They had the benefit of much more modern equipment, as well as the collective experience through the written accounts of seven British expeditions. Remember also, that while at 8, metres, Annapurna was the first 8, metre summit to be reached, the British had previously been significantly higher.
As early as Norton reached 8, metres on Everest without oxygen, a feat repeated by three other English climbers in Yet, unlike the British, the French were almost devastated after their climb. I think that the condition of the French team in general, and Herzog in particular, draws into question his overall judgment as opposed to his courage or determination. To be fair, there were incidences of frostbite in British expeditions. For example, in Mallory, Norton, Somervell and Morshead all suffered frostbite. Morshead's was serious, and he lost the tips of several fingers and a toe.
And, in a Sherpa lost 3 fingers. But despite inferior equipment and climbing several years earlier, there was nothing like the devastation on Annapurna. Finally, in addition to making his case about Herzog, Messner's book describes a number of important climbs of the mountain, and therefore is a valuable source of information of what happened after the French expedition.
And, this part of the book is much better written, perhaps because Messner was on much more familiar and firmer ground with this kind of writing. As for other notable climbs of the mountain, the south face expedition, led by Bonington. Annapurna South Face , was an important landmark in Himalayan climbing for its style.
Also worth noting is the expedition led by Blum, Annapurna: A Woman's Place , which was a landmark in women's climbing. As perhaps the ultimate test piece in the Alps, the north face of the Eiger has a pretty broad history andliterature. Written by one of the members of the team that made the first ascent of the north face in , Harrer's The White Spider is the definitive climbing history of the mountain. Reading it in was my introduction to mountaineering literature. An excellent companion to this is the collection of essays and photographs of the Eiger, Eiger: The Vertical Arena , edited by Daniel Anker.
However, for the best photo that I have seen showing the routes on the face, see issue number 2 of The Alpinist journal www. The second successful ascent was made in by the French team of Terray and Lachenal, who both played important roles in the first ascent of Annapurna in This climb is well documented in Terray's, Conquistadors of the Useless. Terray also had a role in another account, as one of the rescuers, of an attempt in by the accidentally combined ropes of the Italians Corti and Longhi, and the Germans, Northdurft and Mayer. All but one of the climbers died, and the saving of Corti was one of the most dramatic mountain rescues of all time.
The story of this climb is as complicated as it is fascinating. Harrer gives an account, but it leaves many questions unanswered, and by necessity, does not go into great detail. Terray's book, besides discussing his own ascent in , also includes an account of his part in the rescue. However the ultimate story of this climb is Olsen's classic The Climb up to Hell, which has recently been reissued as a paperback. For me, one of the most interesting aspects of the climbing literature is comparing different accounts of the same climb. In this regard the Eiger offers up a wonderful contrast between the 8th ascent by the "not really by choice" combined French and Austrian teams.
As stated elsewhere, I found the Buhl book a painful read in many ways, since it is more of a diary of seemingly every climb that he ever made, regardless of importance. But it is worth getting even if only to read about the Eiger and Nanga Parbat ascents. Another interesting account is that of the ascent by Diemberger and Stefan, documented in Summits and Secrets found in The Kurt Diemberger Omnibus.
Contrasting this climb with the first ascent provides a nice sense of how mountaineering had developed over the intervening 21 years. One can say the same about Hargreaves' solo ascent in , While it was not on the north face proper, it was remarkable in its speed and new line on the Lauper Face. The book is gripping in its description of this marathon effort, in which the leader, John Harlin , fell to his death.
See also Haston's The Eiger , which chronicles the history of the Eiger's north face from that climb in to , when his book was published. The literature on mountaineering and exploration in the Himalaya, Karakoram, Pamirs, and Hindu Kush has mostly been from the perspective of the mountaineer, or explorer, virtually all of whom were foreign to the area being described. The perspective of the indigenous people who frequently were carrying the loads, and whose lands were being explored is seldom heard.
At worst, the foreigners write as if they were the only ones on the expedition. Think about Denman titling his book, Alone to Everest , for example. He might be the only person on the planet who would consider himself alone when accompanied by Tenzing Norgay! Less extreme, but another example of the same foreigner centric perspective, is the often seen practice of reducing the natives into a generic group, rather than individuals, in photo captions e.
This is not only a European and North American trait. While he gives lip service to the question of death, he neither names the Sherpa who died in the service of his expedition, nor went to their memorial service. They are just "six Sherpa. Some of this is simple ignorance. Some of it is racism. Some of it reflects the values at the time that the accounts were written.
For example, in Five Miles High , we see Houston writing about the Sherpa, "To them an attempt on a high mountains a pilgrimage and the white climber almost a holy man. While Houston's high regard for the Sherpa is made abundantly clear in other passages of the book, it is equally clear that passages such as those quoted are, on the one hand, not uncommon in the literature of the time, and on the other, impossible to imagine appearing in print today. The times and attitudes have changed for the better - not to say that there isn't still a ways to go. What is clear, however, is that without native help and guidance, most foreign expeditions would never have accomplished what they did, and the indigenous help have generally gotten far less credit than they deserved in the aftermath.
But a key reason that the native's voice, itself, has not been heard more has to do with the fact that most of them were illiterate - despite often being excellent linguists. For the most part, they have had to rely upon others presenting their history, such as Neale's Tigers of the Snow. There are, however, a very few older books that have captured the first person stories of some of those who participated in early pioneering expeditions.
These are as precious as they are interesting. This is one area of the literature where I believe that I have all of the books that have appeared. The earliest of these is Servant of Sahibs , which is the autobiography of Ghulam Rassul Galwan. This book is unique in that it is the only one from the early period which was not an "as told to" book.
They were so taken by his stories that they taught him to write English and had him write his stories and arranged for publication. What most adds to the book is that they did not edit or correct his writing except when neccessary for understanding the text. Hence, the voice is decidedly his.hostmaster.wecan-group.com/17194.php
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This is a book which cries out to be read aloud. When one does so, the listener is transported to the campfire, where the stories were originally told. This is one of my favourite books in my entire library! Ang Tharkay was one of the most famous of the Sherpa in the early days of Himalaya mountaineering. He accompanied Shipton on no less than eight of his expeditions. He was also sirdar on the French expedition to Annapurna , led by Herzog. Ang Tharkay was both Tenzing's landlord in the latter's early days in Darjeeling, and his climbing mentor - he hired Tenzing for his first job in the mountains.
Until recently, this book has only been issued in French - it appearing in that language as a consequence of the immense interest following Annapurna - the first successful ascent of an 8, metre peak. While the translation remains true to the original book, a Dutch friend and mountaineering historian, Bob A.
Schelfhout Aubertijn and I contributed substantial end notes and after-matter, while the basic translation remains true to the original text. Third, there is Tenzing's autobiography, written with the help of James Ullman, Tiger of the Snow. As part of the expedition led by John Hunt , Tenzing, along with Hillary , was the first to summit Everest. While Tenzing could neither read nor write, he was clearly an exceptional man, not only for his climbing, but for his character and intelligence in general.
While his story has been put down on paper by Ullman, his voice and thoughts come through convincingly. Tenzing was clearly a motivated man. He climbed and traveled in Chitral, Kashmir, Garhwal, and Tibet. Finding himself on the top of Everest was also no accident. He had been to Everest 6 times before: to the North Side in with Shipton , with Ruttledge and with Tilman.
He had been to the South Side in the spring of with Swiss team led by Wyss-Dunant, and back again in the autumn on their second attempt led by Chevalley. This is a wonderful book. There is also a second autobiography by Tenzing, covering his life after Everest, which is where the autobiography with Ullman left off. This second autobiography, After Everest , was written with Malcolm Barnes.
But interwoven with this are two far more interesting stories. The first of these is a meditation on his father, to and from which the story cuts throughout.
The second is a seemingly quite sincere attempt to explain Sherpa culture. Again, this tread is woven into the book from beginning to end. This is an account of Tenzing's life, as well as profiles of a number of other Sherpa who were involved in the early expeditions. Finally, there are a few anthropological studies that, while being written by foreigners, are extremely valuable in terms of providing insights into native culture.
The best is Sherry B. Ortner's work, including her study, Life and Death on Mt. I think that Life and Death It is full of insights that significantly help one interpret the literature, especially as it concerns interactions between European mountaineers and Sherpa. See also M. Kohli's, Sherpas: The Himalayan Legends. This is an older academic study, whose primary importance is its being the first major study of the Sherpa, and the grandfather of those which have followed. One of the things that has emerged during my reading is the number of women who, while largely unheralded, were doing remarkable things, very early on.
Some traveled alone, and some with male partners. In either case, the prevailing attitudes seem to have been that if a woman did it, it must not have been difficult, or, if she did it with a man, he did all the work. Anybody reading these accounts today, who knows anything about the times and the region, can see that this is unfair. On the face of it, that Fanny Bullock Workman traveled with the Swiss guide, Zurbriggen, should not diminish her accomplishment any more than Conway 's traveling with him.
In any case, the following books may help dispell any lingering impressions that some of these women deserve as much, or more, respect for their accomplishments as their male counterparts. And in this, be very clear, I do not say so out of some sense of "political correctness. Most of the titles cited are from the late 19th century, or early 20th.
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However, I have included a few more recent titles such as Alison Hargreaves' book, since her accomplishments are remarkable by any standard. Annapurna: A Woman's Place. Breaking Trail. Phyllis Munday: Mountaineer. Vanished Kingdoms Janet ElliottWulsin. My Journey to Lhasa. Mountains and Memsahibs. Hard Day's Summer. Climbing Free. A Wayfarer in China. George R.
An English lady in Chinese Turkestan. Betsy Cowles Partridge: Mountaineer. Regions of the Heart A biography of Alison Hargreaves. Clouds from Both Sides. Among The Kara-korum Glaciers. Door de bergwoestijnen van Azie: Karakorum. Women on the Rope. In the Ice World of the Himalaya. Touching the Void. The Kurt Diemberger Omnibus. Nanda Devi's position was first identified in by Webb during his survey of Kumaon. When the wine, cider, etc. In this way, each movement of wine, each entry, and each retail sale lead to the payment of a duty.
Side by side with these rigorous and, one might say, strange principles, the law establishes a few exceptions. With regard to circulation duty:. The following will not be subject to the duty levied under Art. The transport of wines and spirits that are removed for dispatch abroad or to the French colonies will equally be exempt from circulation duty. Owners who wish to sell the wines and spirits they produce at retail will be granted a discount of 25 percent on the duties they will have to pay.
However, they will be subject to all the obligations imposed on professional retailers. Notwithstanding this, inspections by agents will not take place within their domiciles provided that the premises on which their wines and spirits will be sold at retail are separate from these. Exemption from circulation duty for the wines of their harvest that owners send from their own property to their own property elsewhere throughout the entire territory of France;.
Exemption from the same duty for the wine that traders, merchants, retailers, etc. Exemption from the same duty for wine that is exported;. A discount of 25 percent of the retail duty for owners;. Exemption from inspection visits by agents within their own domiciles where the premises on which this sale is made are separate from these. Now, here is the text of the draft law put forward by the minister of finance:. Article Exemption from circulation duty on wines and spirits will be allowed only in the following cases:.
Article 3 of the law dated 28 April and Article 3 of the law dated 17 July are repealed. Wines and spirits from their harvest that owners have transported from one part of their own property to another, outside the limits laid down in the preceding article, will be exempt from circulation duty, provided the owners acquire the necessary permit and are subject at the place of destination to all the obligations imposed on wholesale merchants with the exception of the payment of a license.
The provision of Article 85 of the law dated 28 April , which allows to owners who sell at retail the wines and spirits of their own production an exceptional discount of 25 percent of the retail duty that they have to pay, is repealed. We would greatly exceed the limits we have set ourselves if we carried out a comprehensive examination of the points raised by the draft law, and we will have to limit ourselves to a few short observations. First, does Article 13 of the draft law repeal Articles 4 and 5 of the law? An affirmative answer appears to result from the following absolute phrase: Exemption will be allowed only if.
However, a negative answer may be concluded from the disposition that ends Article 13, since, by repealing only Article 3 of the law, it apparently maintains Articles 4 and 5. Second, since the new measures aim to increase revenue, we should no doubt expect them to be burdensome for taxpayers. It is possible, however, for these measures to exceed their aim and lead to disadvantages out of all proportion to the advantages hoped for. In effect, these measures deal a deathblow to large-property owners through Article 13 and to small-property owners through Article However, it is very frequent for an owner to have vineyards in several neighboring villages that do not border on one another; and in general, in this situation, it is in his interest to gather his harvest into the same cellar.
The new law obliges him either to increase the number of his buildings, making surveillance more difficult, or to bear the cost of circulation duty for a product that is already very heavily taxed and whose sale will perhaps take place only several years later. And what will the exchequer gain? Very little, unless the owner, as M. It will doubtless be said that Article 14 of the draft will counteract this disadvantage. We will wait and examine the spirit and effect of this later. On the other hand, small owners draw a very considerable advantage from retail sales: that of keeping their wooden barrels from year to year.
From now on, they will be obliged each year to make an outlay oft en in excess of their means to buy them. I will say without hesitation that this disposition contains the cause of total ruin for a great many small owners. The purchase of wooden barrels is not something that they can avoid or delay doing. When the harvest arrives, it is essential, whatever the price, to acquire the wood in which to store it; and if the owner does not have the money, he is at the mercy of the sellers.
Wine producers have been seen to offer half their harvest to obtain the means to house the other half. Retail sales would avoid this extreme situation, one that will oft en recur now that this possibility will in practice be forbidden to them. The two modifications or, as the minister puts it, the two improvements to existing legislation, which we have just been analyzing, are not the only Edition: current; Page: [ 15 ] ones contained in the draft law dated 30 December. There are two others on which we ought to make a few comments.
Article 35 of the law dated 21 April had converted the circulation, entry, and retail duties into a single tax, levied at the entrance to towns, thus allowing free circulation within these towns and abolishing customs investigations. According to Article 16 of the draft, this single tax will now replace only the entry and retail duties, with the circulation and license duties continuing to be levied as they were in , so that one could say of it, in chorus with the singer,.
Another difficulty arises here. Since circulation and license duties are no longer included in those to be replaced, they should not be part of the dividend; this being so, since the quotient will be correspondingly lower, the general public will be subject to the old barriers, with no benefit for the treasury. The implication is that if the minister intends the yield of current taxation to be maintained, circulation and license duties will be levied twice, once directly by virtue of the new law and a second time through the single tax, since they are included as elements in the calculation of this tax.
Last, a fourth modification introduces a new basis for conversion of spirits into liqueurs. This is not all. The minister makes it clearly felt that it will not be long before he raises the tariff on wines and spirits to the levels of Many distinguished authorities, he said, considered that it was the right time to cancel the exceptions allowed in Many other such authorities consider that if the minister refrains from making a formal proposal in this respect, it is to allow the Chamber of Deputies the honor of this initiative.
We will now leave the reader to measure the space that separates us from the July revolution. Ten years have scarcely elapsed, and here we are with our legislation on wines and spirits shortly to be indistinguishable from that under the empire or restoration, except for an increase in charges and severity. Beyond this, it was a privilege that nothing justified and that violated the principle of the equality of duties. For the same reason, we propose to cancel the discount of 25 percent to the wine producer who sells the wines of his production at retail.
Now, from the instant the government has the equality of duties as its aim, with the understanding that this language means the subjection of all the classes affected by the law on wines and spirits to the full total of the obstacles weighing on the most maltreated class, then for as long as this aim is not reached, the most rigorous measures can be only the prelude to still more rigorous measures.
We should fear it above all in the knowledge that the master 4 has carried out and recommended a pitiless but prudent tactic in this connection. Later it was reduced to the limits of bordering districts law dated 17 July , Article 3. Now, the proposal is being made to circumscribe it to the limits of a village or bordering villages draft law, Article And this step undoubtedly will be taken, for while these successive restrictions have circumscribed the privilege, they have not destroyed it. There still remains one case in which the harvester consumes a wine that has circulated without paying circulation duty, and it will not be long before it is said Edition: current; Page: [ 17 ] that this is a totally unjustified privilege, which violates the principle of equality of taxes.
At the level of application, therefore, the tax authorities have compromised with principle but have also, in principle, made clear their intent, and is it not enough for once that they have come down from the district to the commune without stopping at the canton? Let us be quite sure, therefore, that the reign of equality is coming and that in a short time there will be no exceptions at all to this principle. On each removal or displacement of wine, cider, or perry, 5 duty will be levied.
But should this be said? Yes, we will be expressing our entire thoughts, even though we may be suspected of giving way to exaggerated distrust. We believe that the tax authorities have perceived that, when the circulation duty is extended to all without exception, equality will have reached only half of its career; it will still subject owners to the yoke of customs inspection. We consider that in Article 14 the tax authorities have sown the seed of this secret intention.
Article 13 of the draft restricts the exemption from circulation duty to the limits of the village commune. The rationale is careful to declare that anything exceeding this exemption is a privilege that is totally unjustified. And Article 14 immediately restores the right that Article 13 removed from us; it gives it back without limits, provided that the owner subjects himself to the obligations imposed on wholesale merchants.
This floury sack bodes no good. First, it appears to be a corrective. Article 13 may have seemed rather harsh; Article 14 comes to offer some consolation. Second, it goes somewhat further than sugar-coating the pill; it hides the pill and hints at the customs inspection without referring to it explicitly. Last, it pushes prudence to the point of being optional; it goes even further, it makes Article 13 optional.
How can we complain? Can we not escape circulation duty by taking refuge in customs inspections and find shelter against customs inspections in circulation duty? Let us hope we are mistaken! However, we have witnessed an increase in the tariff, and we have witnessed an increase in circulation duty; we are right to worry that customs inspections will increase, too.
The gradual progress toward equality is also shown in the development of retail duty. We have seen that current legislation allows owners two forms of exemption in this respect: first, by giving them a discount of 25 percent on the duty; second, by exempting the owner from home inspections when the point of sale is in a different location. For the moment, current legislation merely limits itself to calling for the withdrawal of the first of these exemptions. We cannot examine here all the matters that relate to this huge subject.
We have to limit ourselves to a few considerations on a question currently being negotiated, a trade treaty with Holland. It is with particular satisfaction that we Edition: current; Page: [ 19 ] submit to your approval the means of relieving the sufferings of a sector of trade that is so worthy of our solicitude. From this pompous preamble, who would not think that our wines are going to enjoy considerable sales in Holland? To measure the amplitude of the concessions that our negotiators obtained from the Dutch government, you ought to know that foreign wines and spirits are subject to two different import duties in Holland: customs duty and excise duty.
It appears that successive governments in France have vied with one another to instill in the wine-producing classes a disastrous prejudice to the effect that their sole hope of escape lies in revolutions. As a matter of fact, the and revolutions at least won the wine-producing classes a great many promises, and we see from the actual text of the laws of the time that the Restoration claimed to be keeping indirect taxation only as an exceptional resource, which was essentially temporary law dated , Article ; and law dated , Article Scarcely had this empowerment consolidated somewhat, however, when its promises evaporated along with its fears.
The revolution, 10 to do it justice, promised nothing, but it did effect some notable tax relief laws dated 17 October and 12 December We can already see that it was thinking not only of returning to the old legislation but also of giving it an aspect of rigor that was unknown in the great days of the Empire and the Restoration.
Thus, in troubled times, the tax authorities make promises, compromise, and relax their severity. In peaceful times, they retract their concessions and march on to new conquests. This would certainly be the most dreadful of errors; and experience, which may be invoked in this regard, proves on the contrary that no reliance should be placed on promises and alleviations wrung through fear from a tottering government.
A government newly come to power may well, under pressure of circumstances, temporarily renounce part of its revenues; but too many charges weigh on the new government for it to abandon totally the intention of regaining them. More than any other government, has it not certain ambitions to satisfy, persons to reassure, prejudices to overcome? Domestically, a government newly come to power has given rise to jealousy, bitterness, and miscalculations; does it not have to develop some apparatus for policing and repression?
Externally, it arouses fear and mistrust; does it not have to surround itself with walls and increase its fleets and armies? However, we believe, and strongly, that the wine-producing population can, through an intelligent and persevering use of legal means, succeed in improving its situation.
We draw its attention in particular to the resources offered by the right of association. For the last few years, manufacturers have acknowledged the advantage of being represented by special delegations to the government and the chambers. Manufacturers of sugar, woolen cloth, and linen and cotton fabrics have their committee of delegates in Paris. In this way, no tax or customs measure likely to affect these industries can be passed without enduring the crucible of a long and rigorous inquiry, and everyone is aware how much the domestic producers of sugar owe the success of their struggle to the vigor of their association.
If the manufacturing industry had not introduced the system of delegation, perhaps it would have fallen to the wine-producing industry to set the example. But what is certain is that the wine-producing industry cannot refuse Edition: current; Page: [ 21 ] to enter the arena into which others have gone before. It is only too clear that inquiries in which its voice is not heard are incomplete and further that it has everything to lose in leaving the field open to interests that are oft en rivals.
In our opinion, each wine-producing area ought to have a committee in the town that is located at the heart of its commercial activities. Each of these committees would nominate a delegate, and the association of delegates in Paris would form the central committee. We have had discussions with several people in this institution without encountering a single one who disputed the usefulness of our proposed legislation, but we have to answer a few objections they made to us.
Are deputies delegates of the wine-producing industry? Clearly, when an electoral body invests a citizen with legislative functions, it does not reduce this mission to matters pertinent to industry. Even less, once he has been nominated, can he concentrate his attention exclusively on a single interest when so many serious matters claim it. Therefore, in the special committees that deal with sugar, iron, and wine, he can see nothing but an advantage in having available the information and documents which would otherwise be physically impossible for him to seek out and coordinate on his own.
Besides, the precedents established by the manufacturers remove any value from this objection. It is also said that it is difficult to obtain long-lasting assistance from people scattered about the country. We, for our part, believe that this difficulty is exaggerated. It would doubtless be insurmountable if active and painstaking assistance were to be expected from each person concerned.
But, in situations like these, the most active participate on behalf of the others, and towns act on behalf of the countryside. This does not cause a problem when their interests are identical, and since there is a wine-producing committee in Bordeaux, there is no reason why there should not be one in Bayonne, Nantes, Montpellier, Dijon, or Marseilles, and from these to a central committee there is just one further step to take. It is when difficulties are exaggerated that nothing is achieved.
It is certainly easier for three hundred manufacturers of sugar rather than several thousand manufacturers to reach agreement and organize themselves. However, just because something does not happen by itself it should not be concluded that it cannot be done. It should even be recognized that if the masses find it harder to organize themselves, they acquire through organization an unstoppable momentum.
But that again is to circumscribe the question. Does the organization of a central committee establish in advance that its sole mission would be to pursue the total abolition of this tax? Would it have nothing else to do? Do customs questions relating to wine not arise every day? In the discussions that resulted in the treaty with Holland, are people sure that the intervention of the committee would have had no influence on the terms of this treaty? And, as for indirect taxation, is there nothing between total abolition and the total maintenance of the current regime?
Do not the method of collection, the means of preventing or repressing fraud, and pertinent powers and jurisdictions offer a vast scope for reform? Moreover, it should not be thought that everything has been said with regard to the principal question. It is not our place to formulate an opinion on the consumption tax; there are leading authorities and great examples both for and against it. Consumption tax is the rule in England and the exception in France.
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Well, now! This problem has to be settled. If the system is bad in principle, it has to be abolished; if it is deemed to be good, it has to be improved, its exceptional character has to be removed, and it has to be made Edition: current; Page: [ 23 ] both less heavy and more productive by its being generalized. Here, perhaps, lies the solution to the great ongoing debate between the tax authorities and the taxpayer. And who can say that the movement of minds generated by the setting up of industrial committees and the regular exchanges of views made either between them or by their agency, between the general public and the government, will not hasten this solution?
Circumstances have not allowed me to transmit to the commission the work it entrusted to me. I regret this most sincerely, since the contribution of the enlightened men that form the commission would have made it more worthy of you. Although I am bold enough to believe that my ideas are not so very different from those that they would have authorized me to submit to you, I must nevertheless assume full responsibility. Sirs, proving first of all that the hardship experienced by our wine-growing people is genuine and presenting a living picture of this to you would both satisfy the logical order of this report and win over your interest and goodwill for it.
I am only too ready to sacrifice this consideration to the desire not to intrude on your time too much, since, ready as I am to admit unreservedly and without fear of being wrong that we are not all in agreement on the causes of the decline of the industry we are discussing, there is at least no disagreement between us on the fact that this decline exists. A detailed analysis of all the causes that have contributed to this unfortunate result would also lead to amplifications that are too wide-ranging.
We would need first of all to examine those causes that are beyond our Edition: current; Page: [ 26 ] means of action. One of these is competition from the southeast of France, which is growing daily, encouraged by the gradual improvement in our transport systems. Another is the relative inferiority that appears to be the lot of regions that, like the Chalosse, are not structured to replace cultivation using manpower with that using oxen. We would then need to distinguish the causes of suffering for which the producer himself is responsible. Has he devoted enough time to improving his cultivating and wine-producing procedures?
Has he been farsighted enough to limit his planting? Has he been clever enough to adapt his products to the changes that may have been noted in the needs and tastes of consumers? Have efforts been made, through the choice and blend of grape varieties or other means, to substitute quality for the quantity of wine produced, insofar as outlets are limited, since this might have restored the balance of income to a certain extent? Finally, we need to list those causes of our hardship that must be laid at the door of government measures whose effect has been to hinder the production, circulation, and consumption of wine, and this would lead me to examine the special influence on our region of direct taxes, indirect taxes, city tolls, and customs regulations.
I will limit the scope of this report to the last three of these causes of our sufferings, first because they are much the most immediate determinants of our decline and second because I consider that they are susceptible to present or future changes, which public opinion may hasten or delay at will through demonstrations for or against them. Before discussing this subject, I have to say that it has been examined with impressive intellectual talent, along with several other economic questions, by one of our colleagues, M. Auguste Lacome of Le Houga, 2 in a paper that was read during one of your previous sessions.
The author assesses the situation of vineyard owners with equal sagacity and impartiality. By granting concessions that were perhaps too great, he acknowledges that the ever-increasing needs of the country, the communes, and the factories make Edition: current; Page: [ 27 ] it unlikely that our public charges will be reduced. He asks the question whether, supposing this to be so, it is just to give satisfaction to all interests at the expense of the interests of wine alone and, after establishing that this is as contrary to natural justice as it is to the letter of the law, he seeks to find out by what means the resources requested up to now from our sector might be replaced.
Going down this route and directing his meditations to practical use is to show genuine capability and the ability to rise above the crowd of critical souls who limit themselves to the facile task of criticizing what is wrong without suggesting a remedy. Sirs, I am approaching the subject I propose to discuss. Has the triple chain of gross impositions that our wines encounter through city dues, indirect taxes, or customs tariffs, depending on whether they seek outlets in towns, nationwide, or through export sales, affected production or caused the burdens that have given rise to our complaints?
What has become of the many commercial houses in Bayonne whose sole activity in days gone by was to export our wines and spirits to Belgium, Holland, Prussia, Denmark, Sweden, and the towns of the Hanseatic League? What has become of the inland navigation system, which we have seen so active and which incontestably gave rise to the many concentrations of population established on the left bank of the Adour? What has become of the proliferating trade investment in a product that because of its property of improving with age would under normal conditions increase in value with time, a product that was effectively a savings bank for our forefathers, spread a comfortable existence among the working classes of the time, and was the traditionally acknowledged source of all the wealth that still survives in Chalosse?
All of that has disappeared together with freedom of production and trade. In the face of this twin assault on our property by the protectionist regime and overbearing taxation, faced with a burden so straightforwardly explained by the obstacles that block our domestic and foreign outlets, nothing surprises us more than the haste with which the tax authorities seek to find the cause of our sufferings elsewhere, unless it is the credulity of the general public in being taken in by their sophisms.
This, however, is what we witness every day. I have in previous times attacked this assertion, but it expresses an opinion that is too widespread and the tax authorities have made it too deadly a weapon against us for me not to return to my refutation in a few words. First of all, I would very much like our opponents to set the limits they intend to impose on the growing of vines! I never hear reproaches made that wheat, flax, or orchards invade too high a proportion of our territory.
The comparison of supply and demand and costs compared with sale prices are the limits between which the expansion or contraction of industries operates. Why would vine growing, contrary to this general law, extend more widely as it becomes more ruinous? People will say all that is theory. Well then, let us see what the facts reveal. Through the offices of a minister of finance, 3 we learn that the wine-growing area of France was 1,, hectares in and 1,, hectares in The increase is therefore in the ratio of to In the same period of time, the population of France, which according to Necker 4 had been 24 million, increased to 32 million, a ratio of to The cultivation of vines, far from expanding unreasonably, has not even kept up with the increase in numbers of the population.
We could check this result through research into consumption if we had statistical data relating to this. As far as we know, this has been done only for Paris and has provided the following result:. Thus, sirs, it is undeniable that in this half-century and while all branches of production have made such remarkable progress, the most natural thing we produce has remained at the very least stationary. We should conclude that the so-called encroachment of vines is based on allegations as contrary to logic as to fact, and after we have been assured that we are not mistaken in attributing our suffering to the administrative measures that have limited all of our outlets, let us examine the character and effects of these measures more closely.
At the top of the list, we should place the indirect tax on wines and spirits and the duties on circulation, dispatch, consumption, license, transportation, entry, and retail—a sorry and incomplete list of the subtle inventions by which the tax authorities are paralyzing our industry and greedily extracting from it, indirectly, more than one hundred million every year. Far from giving any hint of a foreseeable lessening in these rigors, they redouble them from year to year and although, in , they were obliged in a revolutionary spirit, 9 so to speak, to agree to a reduction of forty million, a reduction that has ceased to be noticeable, they have never allowed a session to be completed without expressing their regret and complaining about it.
It has to be said that the wine-producing populations have rarely brought a practical business attitude to bear in their efforts to escape from this regime of arbitrary exceptions. Driven by the more immediate impact of their own sufferings or by the necessities of the time, either they have demanded, vehemently, the total abolition of all consumption taxes, or they have bowed unreservedly under a system they considered monstrous but irremediable, thus swinging from blind confidence to cowardly demoralization.
The pure and simple abolition of indirect contributions is obviously an illusion. Demanded in the name of equality of duties, it implies the abolition of all consumption taxes, from those imposed on salt and tobacco to those bearing on wines and spirits, and what bold reformer would succeed in decreasing budgeted public expenditure immediately to the level of budgeted income reduced to the four headings of direct taxation? No doubt the time will come, and we should hasten its coming through our efforts as well as our hopes, when private industry, with a morale lifted by experience and expanded by a sense of association, will encroach on the domain of public Edition: current; Page: [ 30 ] services; and government, reduced to its essential function, the maintaining of internal and external security, will require only the resources to meet this sphere of activity, thus enabling a host of taxes that undermine the liberty and equality of our citizens to be removed from our financial system.
But how far from this trend are the views of those who govern us and the all-powerful forces of public opinion! We are being drawn inexorably and perhaps providentially in opposite directions. We ask everything from the state: roads, canals, railways, encouragement, protection, monuments, education, conquests, colonies, and military, maritime, and diplomatic supremacy; we want to civilize Africa and Oceania and what else?
Like England, we are obeying a force for expansion that is directing all our resources to be centralized in the hands of the state; we cannot therefore avoid seeking, like England, the exercise of power in taxes on consumption, the most fruitful, regularly increasing, and even the most tolerable of all taxes, when properly understood, since it is then mingled with the act of consumption itself.
But should we conclude from this that all is well with the current situation, or at least that our ills are irremediable? I do not think so. On the contrary, I think that the time has come to subject indirect taxation, still in its infancy, to a revolution similar to that which the land register and equalization have brought to taxes on land. I in no sense aspire here to the formulation of an entire system of indirect taxes, since this would require knowledge and experience, which I am far from possessing. However, I hope that you will not find it out of place for me to lay down a few principles if only to give you a glimpse of the huge field awaiting your consideration.
I have said that indirect taxation was still in its infancy. However, it must be realized that a tax system is always of necessity imperfect at its outset, since it is established under the influence of some urgent need. Is it to be imagined that if a need for funds gave rise to a land tax in a country in which this type of public revenue was unknown, it would be possible at the first try to achieve the perfection that has been achieved in France only at the cost of fifty years of work and a hundred million of expenditure? How therefore could indirect taxation, so complicated in nature, have achieved from its inception the final degree of perfection?
A rational law for a good system of consumer taxes would be this: make the tax as comprehensive as possible with regard to the number of objects it falls on and as moderate as possible with regard to its level. The closer indirect taxation gets in practical terms to these two rules, the more it will fulfill the conditions that ought to be found in an institution of this kind:. It appears in this case that our financial system has been based on the diametrically opposing principle, namely the limitation of the number of objects taxed and the maintenance of the tax on a high level.
A choice has been made, from a thousand products, of two or three—salt, wine and spirits, and tobacco—and these have been heavily burdened. Once again, it could scarcely have been otherwise. The head of state, desperate for money, has not been concerned with perfection or justice. He has been concerned with making funds flow into the treasury abundantly and easily, and since he had a force capable of overcoming all resistance, he had only to pick a product that was eminently taxable and inflict repeated blows on it.
With regard to us, the public, wines and spirits must have been the first to come to his mind. They are universally used and promise abundant resources. They are difficult to transport and could hardly escape the attention of the tax authorities. They are produced by a scattered population, which is apathetic and inexperienced in public conflict, and their collection did Edition: current; Page: [ 32 ] not seem likely to subject the authorities to insurmountable resistance.
However, two opposing principles can produce only opposing consequences; it could not therefore be denied that indirect taxes such as those instituted by the Decree of Year XII 12 are a perpetual violation of the rights and personal interests of citizens. Indirect taxation is unjust simply by virtue of the exceptions it makes. It offends equity because it raises as much from the wages of a workman as from the income of a millionaire.
Indirect taxation is bad economics because by raising too much revenue it limits consumption, affects production, and tends to restrict the very source that feeds it. It is not good policy, since it encourages fraud and is incapable of either preventing or repressing fraud without encircling the activities of production with formalities and obstacles laid down in the most barbarous code that has ever dishonored the legislature of a great people. They should work with perseverance toward the fertile principle we have just set out, with all its just and practical consequences.
The second cause of the decline in wine producing is the regime of city tolls. In the same way that indirect taxes hinder the general circulation of wine, city tolls drive the wine trade away from population centers, that is to say, its major markets of consumption. This is the second barrier placed by the spirit of taxation between the seller and the purchaser. Except for the fact that city tolls are applied to specific locations, they are a branch of indirect taxation, and for this reason their proper basis in terms both of yield and of justice is the one we have just assigned to this kind of tax: generalization with regard to its area of operation, limitation with regard to the intensity of its application.
In other words, such tolls must cover everything but must subject each product to a duty too small to be noticed. City tolls are all the more properly held to this principle of good administration and equity in that unlike combined duties they do not even have the trite excuse of being hard to collect. However, we see that the principle of taxing only certain key products has won in this instance and that highly populated towns base half, three quarters, and even all of their revenues on wines and spirits alone.
All the working groups of the population would then be seen to engage in an internal customs conflict, a huge turmoil, but one from which the common sense of the general public would probably sooner or later, by way of negotiation, cause the application of the principle we have invoked. It is unquestionably to avoid these domestic disorders that the central power has been given the authority to regulate the tariffs of city tolls, an authority that is an essential part of the franchises of towns and of which they have been deprived for the benefit of the state only on condition that the state is responsible for keeping an even balance between all the various interests.
What use has the state made of this excessive prerogative? If there is one product that the state ought to have protected and removed from municipal rapacity, that product is wine, which already provides the community with so many and such heavy tributes, and yet it is precisely wine that it allows Edition: current; Page: [ 34 ] to be overburdened. What is more, a law has set limits to these extortions; a vain barrier. Has evaporated the law. Would we be showing ourselves to be too demanding if we asked that the tariffs of city tolls be gradually reduced to a maximum not exceeding 10 percent of the value of the goods?
The protectionist regime is the third cause of our hardship, and perhaps the one that has most immediately caused our decline. It is therefore worth your particular attention, especially since it is currently the subject of a lively debate between all of the interests concerned, at the end of which debate your opinion and wishes cannot remain far apart. Customs duties originated as a means of creating revenue for the state. They are an indirect tax, a giant national toll; and as long as they retain this characteristic it is an act of injustice and bad management to remove them from this rule governing any consumer taxes: universality and reasonableness of the tax.
I would go even further: as long as the customs service is a purely fiscal institution, it is in its interest to tax not only imports but also exports, under the twin consideration that the state is thus creating for itself a second source of revenue that costs nothing to collect and that is borne by foreign consumers. However, it has to be said that it is no longer tax but protection that is the aim of our customs measures, and in order to judge them from this point of view, we would have to go into arguments and developments which have no place in this report.
I will limit myself therefore to considerations that have a direct bearing on our subject. The idea that dominates the protectionist system is this: if we succeed in creating a new form of industry in our country or in giving new impetus to an industry that already exists, we will be increasing the mass of work and consequently the wealth of the nation.
Now, a simple way of causing a product to be made within is to prevent its coming in from outside. From this we get prohibitive or protectionist duties. This system would be based on reason if it were in the power of a decree to add something to the wherewithal of production. But there is no decree in the world that can increase the number of hands or the fertility of the soil of the nation, add a cent to its capital or an additional ray to its sunshine.
All that a law can do is to change the combinations of action that these means exercise over each other, substitute an artificial direction for the spontaneous direction of production, and force it to solicit the services of a miserly agent instead of a generous one: in a word, to divide it, scatter it, mislead it, and set it against greater obstacles but never to increase it. Allow me a comparison. Do you not see that you depend on two other farmers? Divide your field into three; divide your time, your advance payments, and your strength into three and grow olive trees, flax, and cereals together.
That is the prohibitionist regime. It is a bad pruning of the industrial tree, which, while adding nothing to its sap, diverts the tree from growing fruit in favor of suckers. In this way, in each zone protectionism encourages the production of consumable value but discourages to the same degree tradable value, from which we must rigorously conclude—and this is what brings me back to the decline of wine producing in France—that protectionist tariffs cannot promote the production of certain objects we obtain from abroad without restricting the industries that supply us with the means of trade, that is to say, without causing hindrance and suffering to that production that harmonizes best with the climate, the soil, and the gift s of the inhabitants.
And, sirs, do not the facts once again energetically support the rigor of these deductions? What is happening on either side of the Channel? On the other side, with this nation that nature has endowed so profusely with the wherewithal and the ability needed for the development of manufacturing industry, it is precisely the population of the workshops that is devoured by destitution, misery, and starvation. Language has no expression to describe such hardship; goodwill is powerless to relieve it, and the laws are powerless to repress the disturbances to which it gives rise.
On this side of the Channel, a clear sky and generous sun should generate Edition: current; Page: [ 36 ] inexhaustible sources of wealth at every corner of the territory. Well then! It is exactly the wine-producing population that offers the vision of destitution, a sad mirror of the destitution that reigns in the workshops of Great Britain. Doubtless the poverty of French vineyard owners is less widely trumpeted than that of English workmen. Its ravages are not felt by turbulent urban masses, and it is not proclaimed by the thousand outlets of the press morning and evening, but it is no less real.
Travel through our sharecropping farms and you will see families in straitened circumstances, their food mere corn and water, people whose entire consumption does not exceed ten centimes per day per person. Half of this may be supplied to them, apparently as a loan but in effect as a gift from the owner. For this reason, the fate of the owner is relatively no better. Enter his house, one that is falling down, with furniture handed down from generation to generation bearing witness to the struggle that exists, an incessant and bitter struggle against the attractions of well-being and modern comforts that surround him and that he keeps out.
Initially you will be tempted to see a ridiculous side to these constant privations, this ingenious parsimony, but take a closer look and you will soon see its sad and touching and, I might say, almost heroic side, for the thought that sustains him in this painful conflict is the ardent desire to keep his sons up to the level of his ancestors, to avoid descending from generation to generation down to the lowest ranks of the social scale, an intolerable suffering from which all his efforts will not spare him.
Why therefore are these people, who are so rich in iron and fire, so rich in capital and productive abilities, whose men are active, persevering, and as constant as the cogs of their machines, dying of want on piles of coal, iron, and fabric? Why are these other people with fertile land and generous sun succumbing to deprivation surrounded by their vines, silk, and cereals? Solely because an economic error incorporated in the protectionist regime has forbidden them to trade mutually in their various riches. Thus, this deplorable system, already ruined on theoretical grounds by economic science, also has ranged against it the terrible argument of the facts.
It is therefore not surprising that we are witnessing the start of a reaction in favor of liberal ideas. Doubtless, the government is generally in no great hurry to hasten the development of public freedoms. There is, however, one exception to be made in favor of free trade. It can never be through ill will but only through systematic error that those in power paralyze this freedom.
They are only too aware that if the customs service were brought back to its original purpose—the creation of public revenue—the treasury would gain, the task of the government would be made easier because of its neutrality in the face of industrial rivalries, and peace between nations would have its most powerful guarantee in the trade relations between peoples. We should therefore not be surprised by the trend toward favoring free trade that is becoming apparent in the high circles of governments in Prussia, Austria, Spain, England, Belgium, and France, in the guise of customs unions, trade, commercial treaties, etc.
Unquestionably, one of the most significant official demonstrations of this trend is the treaty negotiated two years ago between France and England. In effect, at no time had such brilliant prospects been open to southern France. Not only was England lowering the duties she had imposed on our wines, but Edition: current; Page: [ 38 ] through an innovation of incalculable effect she was also replacing the fixed duty that was so disadvantageous to ordinary wines with a progressive duty which, while maintaining a reasonably high tax on luxury wine, reduced very considerably the duty on lower-quality wine.
This meant that not only a few aristocratic cellars but also the farms, workshops, and cottages of Great Britain were open to our production. From another point of view, the principle of a progressive rate of duty was a fine victory and a step toward the general adoption of an ad valorem tax, the only just and equitable system that conforms to the true principles of science.
A uniform duty is by nature aristocratic; it allows for the maintenance of a few relationships only, and only between high-born producers and consumers. A progressive duty based on value would bring the popular masses of all nations into relations of common interest. However, France could not lay claim to such advantages without opening its market to some of the products of English industry. The treaty was likely, therefore, to be resisted by manufacturers. This was not slow to manifest itself in a clever, persevering, and desperate way. The producers of coal, iron, and fabric made their grievances plain and did not limit themselves to passive opposition.
Associations and committees were organized within each industry; permanent delegates were given the mission of winning acceptance for special interests by ministries and chambers. Abundant and regular subscriptions assured the support of the most widely distributed newspapers to this cause and, through their pages, gained the sympathy of public opinion, which was misled. It was not enough to cause the treaty to fail to be concluded temporarily; it had to be made impossible, even at the risk of a general conflagration, and to this end the patriotic pride that is such a sensitive fiber in French hearts had to be unceasingly inflamed.
Since that time, we have seen these groups stir up, with devilish Machiavellianism, all the Edition: current; Page: [ 39 ] long-dormant jealousies of the nation and finally succeed in sabotaging all the negotiations started with England. A short time afterward, the governments of France and Belgium developed the idea of merging the economic interests of the two nations. This time, circumstances were not favorable for the monopoly; working against it were the interest of the masses and the industries in trouble, as well as the influence of the government and every popular instinct, quick to see in the customs union the prelude to and guarantee of a closer alliance between these two children of the same fatherland.
Journalists who had supported it with regard to the English question were of little succor in the Belgian case for fear of being discredited in the eyes of the general public. All they could do was either counter the customs union through insinuations made with a great deal of oratorical circumspection or retreat into shameful neutrality. However, the neutrality of the newspapers in the most important question to be raised in France at the present time could not be maintained for very long. The monopoly had no time to lose; it needed a prompt and vigorous demonstration to bring about the failure of the customs union and continue to keep our south of France under their heel.
This was the mission that an assembly of delegates, which became famous under the name of the deputy who was its president M. Fulchiron , accomplished successfully. What were the wine-producing interests doing in the meantime? They scarcely managed laboriously to produce a few shadows of association.
When they should have gone into combat, committees were recruited with difficulty in the depths of a province. With no organization, resources, order, or mouthpiece, is it surprising that they were defeated for the second time? But it would be foolish to lose heart. It is not in the power of a few Edition: current; Page: [ 40 ] fleeting intrigues to bury major social questions in this way and to reverse permanently the trends that are leading to the unity of human destinies. These questions may be restricted for a time, but they rise up again and these trends regain strength; at the time I am speaking to you, these questions have already been referred to our national assemblies by the speech from the throne.
Let us hope that this time the committees of wine producers will not be absent from the battlefield. Privilege has immense resources; it has delegates, finance, and supporters who have more or less declared themselves in the press. It is strong in the unity and swiftness of its movements.
Let the cause of freedom be defended by the same means. It has truth and immense numbers in its favor; let it also acquire organization. Let them increase their financial and intellectual resources. May they finally help the central committee to carry out the difficult mission of being a powerful support for the government if it moves toward establishing free trade and an obstacle if it yields to the exactions of the special interests of a privileged industrial sector.
Are you not summoned from all corners of the land as being the men most familiar with the knowledge relating to these two branches of public wealth? Do you not recognize that, since they are exhausted by disastrous measures, they no longer provide not just well-being but even subsistence for the population, and are you not allowed to take such dearly held interests under your wing and do what Chambers of Commerce are doing every day?
Are you not a society to be taken seriously? Is the extent of your attributions legally limited to the inspection of some foreign plant, imaginary fertilizer, or common sector of speculative agronomy? And is it enough for a question to be serious for you to waive your credentials immediately? I have the honor of proposing that it adopt the following resolution:. Acknowledging that the principal causes of this hardship are indirect taxation, city tolls, and the protectionist regime;. It does not consider it impossible that a means of reconciling the requirements of the treasury, the interest of the taxpayers, and the truth of the principle of the equality of charges might be found in an extension of this type of tax at a reasonable level and with a less-complicated method of collection.
It is through a similar deviation from the laws of equity that city tolls were authorized to base themselves almost exclusively on wines and spirits. By reserving the right to sanction the tariffs decided by vote in the communes, it appears that the aim of the state must have been to prevent city tolls, overwhelmed with the industrial hostility aroused, from becoming between provinces what the customs system is between nations, a perpetual ferment of discord.
However, it is in that case difficult to explain how the state can have tolerated and seconded the coalition of the interests of all the towns against one single sector of production. All the abuses of city tolls would be prevented if the law restored their franchises to the communes and intervened in the arrangement of the tariffs only to set them at a general, uniform limit that would not be exceeded to the disadvantage of any product, without distinction.
It has also gained the hope of a speedy improvement in our external outlets from the recent words of the king of the French. The Society does not pretend that the obstacles that the spirit of monopoly will put in the path of the accomplishment of this benefit do not exist. It will point out that by temporarily turning the action of tariffs to the advantage of a few industrial firms, France never intended to relinquish the right to use customs dues for a purely fiscal purpose; rather, far from this, France has always proclaimed that protection was by its very nature temporary.
The time has come at last when private interests should be subjugated to the interests Edition: current; Page: [ 42 ] of consumers, industries suffering hardship, the maritime commerce of trading towns, and the overall interest of peace between nations of which trade is the surest guarantee. The society expresses the wish that future treaties should, as far as possible, be founded on the principle of duties proportional to the value of the goods, which is the only true and fair system and the only one that is able to extend to all classes the benefits of international trade.
Consequently, and in the absence of special committees, whose support it regrets not being able to lean upon in these circumstances, it has decided that the Commission of Wine Producers, which has already been nominated in the session of 17 April , will continue its functions and will communicate with the committees for the Gironde and Paris.
Copies of this resolution will be sent through the good offices of the secretary of the Society to the minister for trade, to the Commissions of the chambers involved, and to the secretariat of the committees of wine producers. The confidence of my fellow citizens has given me the title of legislator.