The principal effect that this wonderful improvement of communication has produced is that nations know far more of one another than in former times.
A great impetus has been given to travelling all over the world, and many travelers have written able and exhaustive descriptions of countries that at the beginning of the last century were comparatively unknown.
This increased mutual knowledge naturally does much to dissipate false ideas of foreign nations. Year by year we find more universal and more complete recognition of the fact that human nature is much the same everywhere, and that in every people much good is to be found.
Different nations, being brought into close connection, learn to recognize each other’s good qualities and to shake off the old-fashioned suspicious hatred of foreigners which was the natural result of former ignorance.
The chief material result of improved communication between different countries and different parts of the same country, is that the best products of each part of the world are rapidly and cheaply conveyed to distant markets.
The cotton cloth of Manchester and the cutlery of Sheffield can now be bought in Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras almost as cheaply as in England, and the agricultural districts of India and Russia export to England their surplus corn produce. Thus one nation supplies the wants of another, to the mutual advantage of both.
In India the advantages of improved communication are seen not only in the increase of foreign trade, which stimulates the productive energy of the people, but also in greater security against famine.
Formerly it was possible for famine to rage in one district of India while another was producing a more abundant harvest than its inhabitants could consume. Now such a state of things is hardly possible.
Thanks to the extension of railway communication, the surplus harvest of one part of India can be rapidly conveyed to any district suffering from deficient crops. Thus the money spent on the construction of railways in India may be regarded as a premium paid to ensure the country against famine.