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66

THE

YALE REVIEW.

FEBRUARY, 1901.

COMMENT.

Queen Victoria; The Ship Subsidy Bill; Reactionary Democ

racy; Fraternity Among the Socialists. TH! HE death of Queen Victoria, which closes the longest reign

in English history and the most important period of material progress which that country has ever witnessed, naturally suggests a comparison between her reign and that of Queen Elizabeth. There are many external, almost accidental, points of resemblance. Both had as ministers members of the Cecil family; both witnessed enormous advances in commerce and manufactures; both lived in the midst of great intellectual activity, although different in character. But these facts were in a sense external to the queens themselves; neither can be said to have more than indirectly influenced the conditions of economic and mental progress. If we compare their own individualities the most striking contrast is shown in the single fact that Queen Elizabeth passed into history as the "Virgin Queen,” while Queen Victoria is mourned by three generations of her own blood. Queen Elizabeth felt obliged by the peculiar bitterness of the religious controversies of her time to sacrifice her affections and the possibility of a family life to the demands of state-craft. If she married a Protestant the Catholics would oppose her; if she married a Catholic the Protestants would withdraw their support; and thus safety seemed to lie in celibacy. The result of that policy of compromise, almost of indecision, was seen in the next century when the Stuarts came to the throne through the failure of direct heirs, and brought with them the civil wars and disturbances of the much vexed seventeenth century. Queen Victoria was not put before the dilemma of her great predecessor, though she might easily have hesitated to assume the burdens and responsibilities of family life in addition to those of sovereignty. In the fact, however, that she not only married but was blessed by a large family of children and thus fulfilled the functions of a wife and mother, is found the secret of the most important political power which she exercised, that of a peace-maker. A constitutional sovereign in England has a comparatively small influence upon home legislation; but the close relationship of the Queen to sovereigns and princes of European states has been and still is a powerful means of preserving the peace of the world.

Queen Elizabeth, considered simply as a queen, was gifted with a more powerful intellect and more robust temper than Queen Victoria, but she left England a prey to factions, because she was a queen only and not a wife and mother as well. In the case of Queen Victoria, it is largely because she was a good wife and mother that she was a great queen. She has thus not only been a powerful influence in favor of peace, but she has helped to change the position which monarchy as an institution occupies in the politics of the world. We have been obliged in the past to attribute many of the wars to disputes about successions and to the ambition for personal aggrandizement of sovereigns. It is not impossible that many such wars may arise in the future, but at the present moment the function of monarchy seems to be that of restraining rather than stimulating international hatred and commercial rivalry. It was an emperor of Russia who called the nations of the world to the Peace Conference at The Hague; the Emperor of Germany is the only public man in his country who has done anything during the South African war to neutralize the intense hatred and contempt of England shown by his people. The Queen herself is known to have been opposed to this war, and on several other occasions to have thrown her influence strongly in favor of peace. In spite of the traditions of a constitutional monarchy in which the sovereign reigns but does not govern; in spite of the additional limitations which her sex imposes on a queen, we have in the life of Queen Victoria a splendid example of the beneficent public influence which a woman may exercise without directly engaging in the formal work of politics.

The agitation in favor of the passage of the Ship Subsidy Bill by the Congress marks a new phase in the already variegated history of American protective legislation. The claims of the industries that in former years were effective in shaping tariff legislation have for the time being been quieted. Either the existing tariff of 1897 has satisfied their demands for government aid, or the present business activity has minimized the importance of that aid. The iron and steel industry has lost its interest in the tariff, and even the textile industries have been unusually quiet in Washington. A new set of claimants upon the bounty of the government has appeared in the persons of the representatives of the various industries concerned with the merchant marine. And just as in earlier times the various claimants for tariff favors had to learn the hard lesson of pulling together with their demands, so the various industries concerned in the Subsidy Bill have been making enormous, but up to the present writing fruitless, efforts to combine on a common line of action and agree on common demands.

The history of our tariff legislation is marked by the attempts of the wool-raiser and of the woolens-maker to join hands in demanding protection for their industries. These attempts have often succeeded notwithstanding the inherent difficulty of convincing the wool-raiser that he was the gainer by raising the price of woolens, and the woolens-maker that he was benefited by a rise in the price of wool.

A similar conflict and combination of interests appears in the present attempt to extend the protective principle to the merchant marine. The shipbuilder and shipowner have joined hands in pushing the measure, but however it is amended in detail, they find it difficult to convince each other that its leading provisions are advantageous to both sides. The shipbuilder wants government aid for an industry, the importance of which to the country at large he seeks to impress on all; the shipowner may believe in its importance, but does not care to assume the burden of encouraging American shipyards. The shipowner from his standpoint quite openly asks for government aid for an industry which he is ready to prove is unprofitable at present, but which he urges is essential to the public welfare; and the shipbuilder loses his interest in the project, but is aroused again when it is proposed to meet the desires of the shipowner by admitting foreign-built ships to American registry and to the privileges of the subsidy.

In another direction the Subsidy Bill has followed well-established precedents of our tariff history. Appeals to patriotic motives in passing the measure have been made, which have had great weight, as has always been the case in protective legislation. But the more the bill was framed to secure for the government the services of fast cruisers in time of war, the fewer friends did it have among the shipowners, whose ships of moderate speed would be of no use to the government as auxiliary naval vessels, and would, therefore, be treated with scant courtesy by the subsidy.

In still another direction does the project for a ship subsidy parallel the familiar tariffs of the past, namely in the appeal made on behalf of the American farmers and wage-earners. The farmer is said to be interested in the subsidy as a means of assuring him lower freight rates upon his produce; and the American seaman is said to be demanding protection, especially in view of the important role he is to play in manning our men-of-war in our next war. This argument has not been given great prominence so far, though evidently the friends of the measure long to secure the support of the farmers if not of the workingmen.

The difficulty of combining the various elements interested in the policy of government aid to the merchant marine seems well nigh insuperable, but the history of our tariff shows how successfully a single well-organized interest will bring into line discordant ones and hold them together in the support of a policy that cannot be advantageous to all parties concerned.

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