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No period is so favourable as the opening of a new year for making a careful review of the circumstances ill which we are placcd with regard to the trade of the district. On the present occasion the task is fortunately of a more gratifying character than it Sometimes lias been. Most of our readers will recall but too vividly the unsatisfactory position in which affairs were at the commencement of 1858. Strikes, disastrous in results as any on record, had just occurred, and the discontent seemed likely to spread from the adjoining county into Monmouthshire. Although this fear proved almost groundless, the filischief occasioned by the conduct of a large portion of the Glamorganshire colliers was necessarily severely I felt here, trade being diverted to a considerable extent into other channels, and the recovery even at, present is only partial. The connect'ons our coal owners and iron,masters struggled so long to form, were in a great degree broken up, and the capital invested In various enterprises seemed in danger of being lost. The commerce ol the entire country was in a very depressed state, and it needed no additional untoward events to render business men anxious respecting their investments and specu- lations. The American demand, which had been so useful and important, fell off suddenly, no fresh orders came in, and payment for those already exe- cuted was either obtained with difficulty, or alto- gether evaded. A similar diminution was experi- enced in the Continental inquiry, although the monopolies and" protection" claimed by the French ironmasters render it impossible that that country Could long remain without fresh importations from this. The German buyers disappeared from the market, and the firms which depended most on the Continent must have suffered severely from this withdrawal of their customers. Nor did those houses which relied more on home consumption fare much better. Prices fell, even at reduced rates very few sales were effected, and those few were forced. In Staffordshire, a county by which our own is consi- derably influenced, large failures had occurred, and fresh ones were anticipated. In short, everything was calculated to excite alarm even in the breasts of the most sanguine, and the results were that many furnaces were blown out, wages were generally re- duced, the number of hands diminished, and some works partially suspended. In the Aberdare valley, business was for a time virtually at an end, but this, as we have intimated, is to be ascribed chiefly to the misera- ble -strikes. It was seen that the year must be one full of difficulties, and little hope was entertained of any great change for the better taking place till its close. Heavy losses were sustained in every -,direc- tion, and it is known that in some quarters thoughts were entertained of abandoning the speculations pre- viously entered into altogether. Such, briefly expressed, were the events we were called upon to record during the memorable year 1858. Now that many of these evils have passed away, let us ask how our commercial men have emerged from the glocm which surrounded them? How did they sustaurtlie struggle into wb-ich they were so unexpectedly plunged ? To their credit it must be stated, that never were disasters resisted and overcome more successfully and meritoriously. No collapse occurred, no great firm withdrew from its former position. It is true that a failure does not always prove that a rotten system of trading has been pursued, but the absence of failures at such a period as that we have referred to, must be held to demonstrate the sound and solid principles on which commercial transactions are conducted rin this district. Many circumstances may occur to place a firm in either temporary or protracted difficulties, and none are more potent than a panic added to ruinous strikes. Over these obstacles our iron and coal master! have triumphed, and the fact must nevitably tend to cause business men in other parts of the coustry to repose greater confidence than ever in them. Many have acknowledged—in some cases publicly—that heavy losses were sustained, but they did not succumb to the adverse influences which affected them. On the contrary, the effect of the ordeal has beeu to iiifu-se new vigour, spirited enter- prises are being undertaken, and on all sides a deter- mination is being shown to retrieve honourably the losses which were honourably endured. There is every probability ef the favourable antici- pations held respecting the present year being ful- filled. The iron trade in all parts of the country is -slowly but. surely improving. The last remnants of the panic have died away, and consumers cannot long abstain from replenishing their stocks. In Staffordshire the revival is already felt, and the same may be made with regard to the North of e to" ^-S re*>arc's our own district, we have like- partial, recovery CfCrtain'eVen thou&k at Present a phrase k the mout™" the recent depression. The passed." p^PerityVrsrfQt87tr is thef WOrst is left beVind. Trade »ith fitare-misfortune luLe its cb-te, tTZTrcVr considerable orim have Consent Large export&tions oi tf°n avc &»ade to Russia and France, and the rapi^ extension of works in the latter country ^ust necessitate 8tiu {J ther Bhipments. At home, pursers who waudered to the North are .returning, and ^en they fiJid, as they will do, that they can be served b&Uei in Wales than elsewhere, they will come back in augmented Z5 numbers. It is true that the improvement cmuot. be gaid to he, grca ut it js decisive. Wa^es reman at pw»t, an^ i j, 1; |ook fot my i. ,S J la' m"rScd i«to s„ J h0|,e tliat Cre ,th° ,pnt' J0»,es«»imado» T?r "le much (lcsln;d clia"f ,cCU>t'otl that s„cU ls amPle ground for the e$,ve vi\eai.- *»11 prove to be the case, *• 0{tl thfc passes should derive encouragemei ^rs i. before them. The position a 'oe South Wales district at this moment wthe coSAicated. Slackness ie js chiefly experience ^berda^e, nowhere jjiore strongly than in c0al. ThiLey, the great field for the supply of ste^ e being Inlfl freiglltg st wbich shipments are n(1. ^tes, justify^nd the lituited at even these q[ tUngi plain13 w reach us, but this ftre talk^o(. last ver^ °ng- Already fresh COfi resull 1 1 it may rea8t>n„u. u. :„(Vrrp.d lu • —"«uiy uc iu. QUauucs c the relative to the respe -grease oH aDd Country coal will be SQOn diatrict. The demand mf ov coal- hB t0u tUe SuPply, and we can wish -OerS n0 .tter re^ard of their exertions °.se than this.Tlle COasumption 0f coal can be c f jittle as that of any ar^c\e_it is an indtspe^ L ^quisite of other braucliea of commerce, and it » ■V proved, we tru^t, ^elsl4 coal js better th any other. It would be wrong, then, to attach too much importance to circumstances which must be transitory, and all attempts to influence prejudicially the minds of large owners at this juncture should be sedulously discouraged. The intelligence we have recently published with regard to the iron trade is of a more gi atifying desc: iption. The firmer tone which characterises other markets is also observable in this, and for rail- way iron especially a very fair demand exists. Christmas is never a very active season, but in a few weeks we believe something like briskness will be experienced. In the meantime there is little cause for despondency. Most of the large works have been well engaged dating the past few weeks, although in some others the orders received have been few. Several fresh commissions from Russia and France are looke Jor> and the home enquiry is gradually assuming its former dimensions. At certain works various alterations are being carried out for the pur- pose of enabling the managers to extend their opera- tions when occasion may require. At Blaenavon, for instance, important improvements in the underground workings are in progress. Without making further reference to particular works, we may say that the actions of the ironmasters evince their belief in the approach of a very different season to that of last year. It must be owned that the present trade of both the ports, Newport and Cardiff, is susceptible of much improvement, and any causes whieh tend to retard our progress ought to be immediately removed. It is alleged that a good deal of business is being lost to Newport, and that iron is sent to Bristol for shipment instead. Why this should be we kaow not, but the fact has been stated and not denied. We trust the proper authorities will enquire into the matter, for the sake of all parties who are interested in the pros- perity of the port. There is little to say of the general trade of the district. That it is in a depressed state there can be no question, but the re-action must come, and in all probability speedily. On the whole, we hope in a few weeks to be able to write in a still more satisfactory strain of the commercial affairs of the entire neighbourhood. •

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