We shall see history repeat itself with little variation. Promoters will come forth from their haunts in swarms; they will offer to the excited and eager public hundreds of companies that will be pure swindles. And the public will not discriminate; they will not be in the discriminating mood; it will be far too much trouble. Anything in the shape of a mining company or a mining share will be irresistibly attractive to them, for the boom will not be confined to South African mines. It will spread itself over every section of the mining market, and every gold-field in the world will share in it to a more or less extent. We shall have mining properties brought to us from all the zones of the earth. South Africa alone will not suffice to satiate our cupidity, and the demand will not be confined to this country. It will as usual extend to the other side of the English Channel. French investors and speculators will not look on with indifference; they have far too much at stake already. And, moreover, they are seeking opportunities for the employment of their capital, which has been accumulating so long and which is not increasing rapidly enough to satisfy them. There is stagnation in their own country, and there is no prospect of a speedy improvement. They are casting longing eyes, therefore, elsewhere. But they can see nothing enticing elsewhere than in England. Germany has been disappointing, and so has Russia. Already vast sums have been sent to this side for investment in Consols, Treasury Bills, Exchequer bonds, and even in some of our municipal bonds, to say nothing of the buying of Sterling bills. But far vaster sums would come immediately on the outbreak of a mining boom. Investors and speculators in France would only be too pleased at such an opportunity for the employment of their idle capital. The depression that has lasted so long in this country and abroad, the vast accumulation of capital, the difficulty of finding profitable investments for it, the prospect of continued cheap money in spite of the indebtedness of Europe to America owing to bad crops, all make a mining boom assured, and insure also a prolongation of it for a longer time than usual.
One element of danger will be removed in Western Australia. That it will share in the boom is certain, but it will be only to a limited extent. Promoters will not be able to attract the public with West Australian mines as they attracted them in the past. The boom will, therefore, be confined to the proved mines, of which there are not a large number. But West Africa will take the place of West Australia. Already hundreds of worthless properties have been floated from this quarter of the globe, but they are only a tithe of the companies that will hereafter be floated. That West Africa is a rich gold-field has been proved beyond refutation. But every company that is floated will not share in that wealth; that is impossible, just as it was impossible for every West Australian company to be a success that was floated on the strength of the boom. It is not the object of the average promoter to take the trouble to search for a proved mine; that would take too long a time, and the search would probably be fruitless. All he has time to do before the boom collapses is to peg out claims as fast as he can, say vaguely that they are in the heart or almost in the heart of some celebrated field, put in the title the name of some successful mine and add the words East, West, Extended, or Block, etc., pay somebody to write a report or two upon it and put M.E. after his name, and the thing is ready for sale and the public will buy it. This is what has been done already in the case of West Africa, and will be renewed on a far greater scale as soon as the occasion is ripe. All that I or any other writer in a position of trust can do is solemnly to warn the public to discriminate. But will the warning be heeded? I have no great hopes of it. But that would not excuse silence on our part. When we have cried our cry in the wilderness we have done our duty. The penalty must be paid if it is disregarded.