In the preceding chapter I said that there is a great difference between investment and speculation, and it is necessary that I should make my meaning somewhat clearer. There are undoubtedly through-out the country numbers of people who buy mining shares, not to gamble with, but solely for the dividends which they will receive upon them. It is extremely difficult, however, to select those shares that are sound investments, and there is no rule upon which we can act, except, of course, reliable knowledge of the mine in question, of those who are responsible for its administration, and the engineer who has the management of it. We must be able to calculate not only the mine's possibilities and its probable life, but must be able to place absolute confidence in those who have the control of every department of it. Experience of the past teaches us the insecurity of this knowledge, and hence the great risk that everyone must face who puts his money in mining shares. This is mainly why the odium of suspicion attaches to such shares, not so much because a particular mine may be unreliable, but because there are so few that are honestly managed, and so few directorates in whose trustworthiness we can place the least confidence.

But, unhappily, this suspicion is not attached solely to mining shares, and there is no reason why any such odium should be confined to them. No matter in what we invest our money, unless it be in Government and Trust securities, we must be prepared to face a certain amount of risk. Put it into American rails if you like, but you have to risk their honest administration, which is certainly purer than it was in the early days, but which still leaves much to be desired in the present. The competition is exceedingly keen, even now, with all their talk about community of interests, as witness the fight to obtain control of the Northern Pacific, and therefore there is no foreseeing what sudden disasters this rivalry might bring upon speculators and investors. Invest your money in the ordinary shares of Home rails, and though the management of our railways, as far as honesty is concerned, is above suspicion, still they may fail - and they undoubtedly do fail in too many instances - in wisdom and enlightenment. The prosperity of home railways during any given period is dependent, too, upon conditions which cannot always be foreseen and provided against, as witness the results of the past twelve months.

Put your money into all kinds of industrial shares, and you may find in a short time that the capital has to be written down by the million, and that enormous losses have to be wiped off by the stroke of the pen. Buy house property, and you may be unfortunate in getting bad tenants, who will succeed in doing enormous damage to it in a very short time, to say nothing of the risk you run in finding the neighbourhood become unpopular in a few years. Therefore the problem - the very serious problem - for the capitalist is, where to invest his money to the best advantage, combined with a reasonable return and safety. No wonder, therefore, that, unable to solve this problem, so many prefer to speculate right out, trusting to luck, as they call it, to make big and quick profits, rather than wait patiently and anxiously throughout long years for the returns that may eventually fail them. But even if we are lucky in our speculations, and make our fortunes, the problem still presents itself what to do with our money eventually. We cannot store it all in old teapots, nor in half-worn stockings, nor even bury it in holes in the ground, but must employ it in some direction or other. Shall we keep on speculating till the end of our days, therefore? Many do answer this question in the affirmative, until they actually find, at last, that they have nothing to speculate with, as the gambler will eventually gamble away all his gains.

Therefore, when We come to the ultimates, we find that it is in human nature that we have finally to put our trust, and it is questionable whether we could put it in anything more unstable and treacherous. Faith, therefore, seems to be needed quite as much as experience, knowledge, and foresight, and we know, much too sadly, how frequently that faith has betrayed us. I do not say that there are no honest men to be found. I believe that there are many to be found if we search for them diligently enough. But the difficulty is to know where to search, and few men have the time and inclination to undertake the necessary labour. But even when we have found our honest men, we have by no means found everything. I have myself - and I do not think that my experience is unique - made the acquaintance of honest, upright men - men who would not stoop to do a mean action, yet who have been veritable simpletons, and who have been poor all their days because their consciences and likewise their understandings have been unable to contend with the strife and stress of business. They have been content to keep in the background. Peace and quietness have suited them better than contest and noise, and perhaps in a way they are to be envied.

But we have to take man as he is and life as it is, and if we put a certain trust in a man, at his request and upon his declarations, and are impressed by the man's earnest avowals to justify that trust, we do not expect him to play us falsely, but expect him, at least, to do his duty by us to the best of his ability. Unfortunately, it is rarely that we find the man who justifies that trust, who completes his vows, and who sternly does his duty in spite of the temptations that may lure him to neglect it. Therefore, whenever we invest money, it is but the handing it over to other men, not friends who may be bound to us by the strong ties of affection, but strangers, those we have never seen, of whose antecedents and characters we know nothing, of whose ability and experience we are ignorant, and if this is not a risk, a wonderful phase of faith, then I don't know what risk and faith are.