WHEN the nations shall have laid down their arms and we see, not as through a glass
darkly but clearly-defined and sharply-drawn, the lessons we have learned, we shall realize the wisdom of conducting a nation’s and an empire’s business by those principles upon which we shall base our courses of action were we considering the business of making money and the conduct of industrial enterprise. The calling of Lord Kitchener to the War Office was a step in that direction. The readjustment of the British Government was, in a great measure another. The appointment of Sir George Paish, economist and editor of a financial paper, to the post of assistant and advisor to the Chancellor of the Exchequer was a third.
George Paish, now Sir George, by the suggestion of a grateful Government and a magic pass of the sword of the King, has achieved greatness. He earned it every bit. And having run the race and pressed toward the mark of his high calling — Finance (and spell it with a capital F in these days if never before)
— more greatness was thrust upon him.
Sir George is that rare species of human-—a self-made man. You notice I say “rare.” Most so-called self-made men are really nothing of the sort. Self did not make them ; circumstances were their collective creator. Not so, Sir George Paish, Knight Bachelor, sometime financial adviser to the British Treasurer, and editorin-chief of the authoritative financial journal of the world, the London Statist. He started at the bottom of “young ambition’s ladder.”
A T the very bottom. His foot when he started, was below the rung called education, for at fourteen he was the youngest member on the very staff which has honored him as one of its chiefs these fifteen years. Paish never had a university education. He never had educa-
tion, if you say that education must be templed in a building of bricks and stone and administered to hungry students by professors, capped and gowned and a’— at all. The Board School, defunct in Great Britain, since Mr. Balfour’s Government abolished it, was Paish’s fount of knowledge. It corresponded to our public school here in Canada.
So that young Paish, between running messages to the composing room for the occupant of the editorial chair of the Statist, had to lay a firm hold on manuals and text books and learn, while he was earning a little money so that he might help at home, that which he ought to have been getting at a good secondary school. From the first he had a passion for mathematics and economics. While he was yet in his early teens he sat far into the night wrestling and juggling with nothing more or less than the intricacies of finance. Finance! At fourteen, when his only connection therewith ought to have been in the way of pocket money!
In this way young Paish was a prodigy. He had a very quick mind, a lightning mentality which was sharp on the uptake, grasping the opportunities, the weaknessess and the fortes of situations at first glance. You can see that, now, in his face. The clear blue eye is like a hawk’s; it misses nothing and it takes no time to read to the bottom of things.
SIR GEORGE is a man to whom the colloquial adjective “brainy” may be fittingly applied. Look again at the broad brow, the clever forehead, the expanse of it. If it belonged—as it does at that—to men like Sir Oliver Lodge and Mr. Woodrow Wilson, we should say it denoted the intellectual—as indeed it does. My dictionary describes “intellectual” as the “power of understanding.” Ergo, since Paish un-
derstands a great department of our individual and national living he is intellectual.
There is one other quality that Sir George has always had on hand. It gained him at twenty-seven the position of assistant editor on a staid British financial journal (wonder of wonders—I can say no less) and it brought him six years later, to the joint editorship of the Statist. “Joint” in this case, is another name for “chief.”
This quality is his obstinacy. Here again you may see it indexed in his face; to be more particular, in his pointed and pointing nose. Sir George—typical John Bull, as he is in cast of features—follows his nose and it rarely leads him wrong. It is a determined, persevering, dogged nose. There is nothing hesitating, nothing dubious about it—nor its owner.
Y) AISH has had a hobby horse. He has ■*it still: witness the pages of the Statist week by week. It is the superiority of the working and management of American railways over British. In this, at least, he takes off his hat to Uncle Sam and for years on the Board of Trade Departmental Committee on Railway Accounts, thus indirectly in Parliament, and by his writings and speeches he has rubbed it into the railway directors of Great Britain that they have to learn their business all over again if they would be economically sound. That is Paish’s opinion; many gainsay it, but not so that he would notice. He knows railways from the sleepers up.
To come to particulars: Paish has urged for years that the British railways follow those of the United States in the matter of more scientific operation, more powerful locomotives, the use of large instead of small capacity wagons, and the compilation of ton-mile statistics. In return for the adoption of such measures, he claimed the British railways would effect economies in working costs and increased efficiency in transportation. Many of these reforms were ultimately made, though the railway boards did not acknowledge Sir George’s suggestion at all. The compilation of ton-mile statistics has not been taken up yet, and Sir George is still on the trail. He is still especially interested in railways.
HE has not neglected other branches of finance therefor: far from it. His grasp of high economics, industrial relationships, trade and general finance is probably second to none. For that reason when, in the time of testing, Great Britain needed above all the right cashier at the cash desk, Mr. Lloyd George called in this man who knows finance through and through, upside down, in all its crooks and turns. And, by the way, the decision of the Government to give a business man and an editor an important say in matters so vastly affecting the public weal was a step in the right direction. Whatever is
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said of the conduct of other departments of the nation’s business during war time, at least the Exchequer had the very best at the hfim. Not a little of the success of David Lloyd George as economist par excellence, this last year, has been due to the advisory voice of Sir George PaisV He has some failings and no biographer
could truly sing his subject did he neglect to say so. Curiously enough this mathematical and keen-witted financier-journalist has a propensity for leaving everything to the last moment. He catches a train as it is steaming out. He boards a liner for New York as the bell sounds for visitors to leave the ship. But for a busy man a miss is surely as good as a mile; and if Sir George gets home by the skin of his teeth, at least he always gets there—that is the main thing.
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