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miles south of the Dead Sea, being thus nearly half-way to Mecca. The work has been entrusted to a German engineer, and the whole of the railway material is of German manufacture.1 It is expected that the line will reach Mecca in three years' time, when the Sultan's hold of Arabia will be enormously strengthened.

Turning now to the Persian Gulf, it was satisfactory to hear, while visiting Aden, that both the Home and Indian Governments are alive to the nature of the attacks which are being made on British commercial interests in the Gulf region. The value of British trade with Persian Gulf ports amounts to nearly £4,000,000 annually, 75 per cent. of the total imports into Persia by this route coming from the United Kingdom and India. These figures indicate the value of an asset of increasing worth which must not be lost to the Empire. A stronger assertion of diplomatic pressure seems to be required for the protection of British commercial interests in Persia. The new Customs tariff which was forced on Persia by Russian pressure, and which came into use in 1903, has been carefully drawn up to favour Russian and exclude British imports. The results of the tariff are making themselves felt on British trade with Persia. During 1904 there was a decrease in imports from the United Kingdom amounting to £29,708, while

1 According to information lately received, orders have been placed in Germany for 17 locomotives, 250 carriages and trucks, and other material for use on the Hedjaz Railway.

there was a corresponding Russian increase amounting to £21,935. Owing to the 100 per cent. ad valorem duty placed on tea, there was a decline of 61 per cent. of tea imported into Bunder Abbás as compared with the previous year. In the face of these and other figures, is it not time for Great Britain to give up her laisser-faire policy, and assert

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her power by requiring a revision of the Customs tariff which was secretly negotiated by Russia when the hands of our people were full with the trouble in South Africa?

But there is a still greater danger to British interests from the monopoly for railway construction granted to Russia in Persia and to Germany in Mesopotamia. If a Russian railway is made from Teheran to Bunder Abbás, and a German railway from Baghdad to Koweyt, the mastery of the

Gulf will pass out of British hands. Neither of these two schemes can be carried out except with the consent of Great Britain, and a first condition of that consent should be that the Gulf sections of both railways should be constructed with British

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capital and worked under British administration.1 Great Britain has won her right to mastery in the Persian Gulf by long years of unselfish naval guardianship. At the cost of her people, and by

1 When questioned in Parliament on December 19 last as to whether the Government had taken any steps to secure British control over the Killis to Baghdad, and Baghdad to Koweyt sections of the German railway, Sir Edward Grey's answer was in the negative.

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the energy of her seamen, she has kept the door open to all the world, and that door must not now be closed against her. His Majesty's Government would regard the establishment of a naval base or of a fortified port in the Persian Gulf by any Power as a very grave menace to British interests, which we should resist with all the means at our disposal.' Lord Lansdowne's words contain an opportune declaration of policy, but they do not cover the whole field. If Koweyt and Bunder Abbás become the termini of German and Russian railways, a death-blow will be struck at our commercial supremacy in the Persian Gulf. England sends her warships to police the Gulf in order to protect her trade. If that trade goes, the fleet will go too. Then will the flank of our great Imperial trade route to the East be exposed to attack, and we shall awake to a situation full of grave difficulties, which may easily develop into one of grave peril.1

1 The following words contain the grave warning of Captain Mahan, an always friendly critic of British policy, in regard to the threatened situation in the Persian Gulf: 'Concession in the Persian Gulf, whether by positive formal arrangement or by simple neglect of the local commercial interests which now underlie political and military control, will imperil Great Britain's naval situation in the Farther East, her political position in India, her commercial interests in both, and the Imperial tie between herself and Australasia.' -National Review, September, 1902.

CHAPTER VIII

CEYLON THE MODEL CROWN COLONY

'And we came to the Isle of Flowers;
Their breath met us out on the seas;
For the spring and the middle summer
Sat each on the lap of the breeze.'

No greater contrast can be conceived than the change from Aden, with its black, rock - girt harbour and endless stacks of coal, to Colombo, the seaport capital of Ceylon, where Nature has been as lavish with her gifts as she has been sparing at Aden. Did time and opportunity permit, it would be a pleasant task to describe the scenery and other characteristics of this beautiful island, which has so fascinating an interest alike for the florist, the sportsman, the geologist, and the antiquary. Such a task, however, is outside this volume, the scope of which has been limited by the terms of reference as indicated in the introductory chapter. What is rather wanted is to ascertain the strategical, commercial, and historical circumstances under which Ceylon became a

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