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In a leader upon this sad calamity The Times re- marks :— The destruction of property has been as great as was at first feared, and the loss of life much greater. The business part of the city has been, in fact, almost totally consumed. The flames have swept over the public buildings, hotels, banks schools, and churches, and over so large a number of the private residences that the great bulk of the population of the city has been left homeless. It was on Wednesday afternoon that the Are began. In a few minutes from the fi¡pt outhreak it had already passed beyond control, and in half an hour's time it had spread over several blocks of buildings and was clearly threatening the entire town. The threat has been only too literally fulfilled. All Wednesday night and during the whole of Thursday the flames swept onward, and ceased only when there was nothing left for them to feed upon. The loss is calculated at not less than 15,000 000 dols., and even this estimate, high as it is, gives but an imperfect notion of the calamity. The danger now is from the state of destitution in which the inhabitants of St. John's have been left. They have no food and no shelter. The lives lost during the fire have been about sixty, and it is feared that this terrible total will be largely swelled by the ex- posure and sufferings Which have followed. Relief, we are glad to learn, has been promptly sent from all sides. The telegraph wires have flashed the news abroad, and from other cities of British North America and from the United States food aud money are pouring in. Among the former, Montreal, Halifax, Yarmouth, and Bagnorhave been foremost in lending help. Chicago is making a good return for past favours. Portland lias sent stores of food already, and in Boston, ew York, and Phiiadelphia public meetings have been called and subscription lists opened. We may trust that by this time the worst pinch is over, and that our next news will be of the steps which are being taken to repair the damage done and to raise St. John's from her ruins. Our North American kinsmen are not wont to fold their hands passively in submission to the unkind strokes of fate. Six yellrs ago we had hardly realised that Chicago had been destroyed before we learnt that it had been rebuilt already in grander proportions than ever. It is in such cases as the one before us that the services of the telegraph are most obvious and of the most unmixed vilue. B1!sine" meu complain, with good "reason of the extra trouble it causes them, and of the constant high pres- sure under which it forces them to conduct their affairs. It is a neeessity for them, but it ia one with which they would dispense gladly if they- could think that others would do the same. But to "to John's the telegraph has been indeed use- ful. It has placed the entire resources of the North American continent and, so to say, of the world at the immediate disposal of the inhabitants. Ilelp was on its way to them while their tire was yet burning, aud long before the first new;, of it would other- wise have reached their nearest friends. In peace, as in war, the telegraph informs us at what point reinforcements are needed, and it enables them to be sent instantly. Whether it is a fire in North America or a famine in yhina, the distance of place counts almost for nothing. The same agency which sends on the cry of distress carries back the message of relief. Time and space are almost literally annihilated. Credits are epened and food purchased as easily as if the whole transaction were between near neighbours. The only question which now arisesis in what cases assistance is due. When the debt is recognised it will, we may be sure, be discharged readily. The great Irish Famine was felt to be an affair for individuals as well as for the Government, and from Great Britain and from the United States relief was sent accordingly. A famine in India is not less terrible than this was, but it does not appeal in the same way to the private conscience, and its claims are less listened to. India is somehow thought te be under the special pro- tection of the English Government, and where this is the case aid does not come very promptly from any other quarter. It is not very easy to see on what principle the difference is made. Where self-help is for any reason impossible or insufficient, it would seem that a fair case is made out for charitable help. If a great flood or a great fire happens anywhere in Europe or in the United States, the whole community of nations makes it at once something of a joint affair, and distributes the loss accordingly. It is not merely in aecordance with the extent of human suffering that the wish to relieve is roused or that the relief itself is measured out. Where one part of a nation suiters the first duty thus created is for the national Government. But besides this there is a further duty of somewhat imperfect obligation, and not fixed according to any settled rules. Individuals both at home and at a distance feel it in; cumbellt on them to aid the efforts of Governments. Whether the sentiment is keen or languid, and whether it ever passes into act at all, is and must be very much a matter of accident. If the details of the case are striking, and if the imagination is thus strongly wrought upon, the chances are that the duty of giving help will be more or less generally accepted. St. John's, it is clear, has a good claim on every account, and it is satisfactory to learn with what promptitude it has been acknowledged, and in how exceed- iugly practical a form. We can hardly suppose that the English nation will decline a duty which has been thus readily undertaken by the rest of the Anglo-Saxon family. There is one most unpleasant reflection which the story of the St. John's Are excites. We are reminded once more of a danger to which all cities are exposed, and from which London itself has been pronounced to be by no means free. Within the last six years Chicago has been burnt down twice-once in 1871, and acain jp 1s74 R08ton n" h, as frequent a suIT"- extent. In 1S72 i. news of great COL.. attendant losses of lite has he en the scene. of frth quarters of the city have been t. has been among the foremost in sen. has had her own similar experiences. a.wus nought how far we may venture to presume on our own comparative exemption. We have our fires, of course, frequently enough. Scarcely a day passes without their occurrence in some quarter or another of London. But we have managed to keep them pretty well within bounds and to limit their range of ravage. In some instanrcs of Creat American fires the material3 of the buildings have bcell in fault. Close blocks of houses, constructed principally of wood, have. furnished ti e flames with their natural provender, andhave* been consumed, as a matter of course, almost to the last plank. St. John's has not suffered from the character of its buildings, which have been for the most part solid struc- tures of brick amI stone. The rapid spread of the fire was due in some part.to the timber yards with which the business part of the city abounded, and which supplied the flames with strongholds from which they are not easily to be dis- lodged, and ill great part, too, to the untoward accident of a strong north-west wind, which canied the fire onward until it had swept over the whole city. London is ioo mnch isolated in its parts, and has too great appliances ready at hand, to be 'In danger of quite the same fate as St. John's. But there are many quarters of London in which a dry season, a strong wind, and —what sometimes most inexcusably happens, and what hap- pened, it seems, at St. John's—a failure of water supply might between them cause as great an amount of damage. We should do well to be warned in time by the frequently re- peated experience of others, and to leave nothing to fortune for which we have it as yet in our power to make better and more trustworthy provision.





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