A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 70

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THE OUTBREAK OF WAR


which met the representatives of the multiple grocery firms and of the Grocers' Federation, and it was decided to set up a maximum retail figure announced by the government for certain staple foods, such as sugar, butter, cheese, lard, bacon, and margarine. The government went farther. The price of sugar had been forced up to, in some instances, as much as 7d. a pound. The state purchased an immense quantity of sugar, sufficient for the national supply for many months, and arranged its distribution through the wholesale trade at a much more reasonable price.

The problem of the anticipated winter distress and unemployment among the working classes engaged widespread attention during August and September. The Prince of Wales' Fund was established to meet the distress — a fund that within nine months was to exceed £5,000,000. The Board of Trade established a new department for the promotion of fresh industrial enterprises, and this brought all manner of fresh enterprises to the attention of manufacturers. The chairmakers of Luton were lacking work; a Board of Trade official showed them how to make bentwood furniture so as to capture the Austrian trade. Nottingham factories were given samples of fresh lines wanted abroad. Dundee was put in touch with new continental buyers. The little master in the east end of London was shown how to make fasteners or bag frames, and where to sell them when made.

There was much talk of a business war against Germany. While our soldiers were fighting the German armies in the field, our merchants and manufacturers were to establish British trade in localities where Germans had hitherto been dominant. Britain was to reconquer the South American market, to make an end of German manufactures in Canada, to do the business formerly done by Germany in China, and to have Australian trade once more. This talk was very popular for a time. Then it died away, as people came to realize that there was something very much more important to do than to make fresh trade conquests. The business in hand was to beat Germany in the field of war. People felt that there was something a little paltry in so much talk of trade benefits at this crisis. Hence various campaigns, such as the "business as usual" campaign, faded out of sight as the serious purpose of the war loomed larger and larger.

When arrangements began to be made for the arming, clothing, and equipping of Lord Kitchener's New Army of a million

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