Popular Science Monthly/Volume 52/November 1897/Expert Testimony in the Bering-Sea Controversy



THE intelligent public, fickle and uncertain as it is, has apparently not entirely withdrawn its interest from one of the most important and suggestive of modern diplomatic entanglements, the Bering-Sea controversy. Although thought to have been finally settled by arbitration in 1893, the Paris award seems to constitute only the beginning of a new phase of the subject. The valuable investigations and interesting reports of the last American commissioner, Dr. Jordan, and of his English colleague have seemed to keep the matter alive in the public mind, and to the interested and informed reader they have furnished a fresh example of that curious tendency among scientific experts to come to conclusions diametrically opposed to each other, although starting with essentially the same data. Of course, everybody knows that it is essential to the proper carrying on of a scientific investigation that it be commenced with no preconceived notions as to how it is coming out, and that judgment should wait on fact, ever ready to incline this way or that, in obedience to the compelling laws of thought. Justice to the man of science obliges the admission that, take him in his laboratory or library, with no end in view except that of getting at the truth, he generally lives fairly well up to this high standard, and easily, too. But transform him by the magic influence of a handsome retainer, or any other like incentive, into a scientific expert, and he is a horse of another color. He must now assume a certain theory to be true, and use his experience and skill to convince others that the assumption is sound; he must also be able to discredit and put to shame another scientific expert who is doing the same thing for the other side. This is not an overstrong statement as applied to the greater portion of modern scientific expert work as utilized in legal controversy. Generally one and often both sides in such a controversy will hope to avoid a full exposition of fact or a clear presentation of the whole truth; and just as the able lawyer receives emoluments far beyond those of the abler judge, the expert witness who can prove his case is made much more comfortable in this world than one who sees all sides and no side, but only the truth. Men of science must not be held entirely responsible for this condition of things, however, for they have long and strenuously urged a change in the system to which it is due. Nor must it be assumed that any special moral obliquity exists in such cases, for always and everywhere judgment is unconsciously influenced by personal interests.

It has not often happened that men trained to scientific methods of investigation and modes of thought have been called upon, on that account, to take part in diplomatic negotiations. Indeed, there is at first blush something ill-fitting about such an arrangement, for the word "diplomacy" in theory and in practice, as well as in the dictionary, stands for a certain "dexterity or skill in securing advantages," for which there is no real use in science.

The dispute with Great Britain over the Alaskan seal herd has given opportunity for the utilization of scientific training and expert knowledge in the determination of the fundamental facts and conditions upon which the whole question should turn. The conclusions regarding these facts and conditions which have been reached by the several investigating commissions appointed by the two great powers involved are so different and so directly opposed to each other that a review of the work of one of them ought to be of general as well as special interest.

For this purpose it is not necessary to present a historical narrative of the origin and growth of the sealing industry at the Pribilof Islands under the direction first of Russia, and since 1867 of the United States; nor to trace the beginnings of the international dispute concerning the right to control the taking of seals from the water, either in Bering Sea or in the North Pacific Ocean. It is well known that after the Executive of the United States Government, supported by Congress, had for several years assumed the right to prevent pelagic sealing in Bering Sea, vigorous protest was made by Great Britain, and that there resulted the agreement upon the modus vivendi of 1891, and the concurrence on the part of the United States in the proposal of the British Government for "a reference to a joint commission to ascertain what permanent measures are necessary for the preservation of the fur-seal species in the northern Pacific Ocean." The provisions of the treaty referring to this commission were as follows:

"Each Government shall appoint two commissioners to investigate conjointly with the commissioners of the other Government all the facts relating to seal life in Bering Sea, and the measures necessary for its proper protection and preservation. The four commissioners shall, so far as they may be able to agree, make a joint report to each of the two Governments, and they shall also report, either jointly or severally, to each Government on any points upon which they may be unable to agree."

On June 24, 1891, Sir George Baden-Powell, M. P., and Dr. George M. Dawson were appointed as commissioners for Great Britain, and on July 10th Dr. C. Hart Merriam and the writer of this article were designated to serve the United States in a like capacity.

It will be seen above that the duty of these commissioners was primarily the ascertainment of facts, together with the recommendation of such measures as in their judgment were necessary for proper protection and preservation of seal life in Bering Sea and the northern Pacific Ocean. It is important to note, also, that in the letter of instructions of the respective powers to their commissioners this was emphasized as the "main object of the inquiry." In the letter of Lord Salisbury to the British commissioners they are instructed that their principal duty will be to ascertain "what international arrangements, if any, are necessary between Great Britain and the United States, and Russia or any other power, for the purpose of preserving the fur-seal race in Bering Sea from extermination." He further says: "I need scarcely remind you that your investigation should be carried on with strict impartiality, that you should neglect no sources of information which may be likely to assist you in arriving at a sound conclusion, and that great care should be taken to sift the evidence that is brought before you.

"It is equally to the interest of all the Governments concerned in the sealing industry that it should be protected from all serious risk of extinction in consequence of the use of wasteful and injudicious methods."

It will be remembered that the correspondence relative to the joint commission was concurrent with that in which the proposed arbitration treaty was discussed; and, indeed, it was only on the signing of that treaty that the commissioners were to become endowed with full authority for joint consideration and report.

The American commissioners were especially instructed by the Secretary of State that with, questions relating to the exercise of exclusive jurisdiction by the United States for the protection of seals they had nothing to do, and that they were "not authorized to consider or discuss them." Their function was especially restricted to the consideration of facts, causes, and remedies as suggested in the treaty quoted above.

It thus appears to have been clearly the intention of both Governments to regard the commission as one organized purely for the ascertainment of facts and the recommendation of such remedies and regulations as would be suggested by the facts. There is no assumption of any diversity of interests in the matter; the problem is submitted to the commissioners as it might have been if the whole affair had concerned the United States alone, or Great Britain alone. Certain methods of taking seals, at sea and on shore, are followed; it is claimed that these methods, one or both, or other causes are accomplishing the extermination of the herd; the commission is to investigate all the facts, and if it concludes that the herd is in danger of extermination it is to suggest such regulations as it may agree upon for its preservation—not a word or a hint about national or international or traditional rights or "compensatory provisions."

It is of the utmost importance to note these facts, as they appear in the letters of instruction to the commissioners, for they are the basis of the assertion, which might as well be made now as later, that the American commissioners alone, and from the beginning, considered the subject from a scientific or judicial standpoint, while their colleagues, also from the beginning, treated the problem as if it were diplomatic in character, not omitting an occasional attempt to use "dexterity and skill in securing advantages." A small part of the evidence available will suffice to make good this possibly extreme statement, and in attempting to do so it must be understood that not the slightest reflection upon the distinguished gentlemen, who so ably represented and maintained what they believed to be the best interests of the British Government, is intended, or criticism of the course which they followed during the conferences; it is only meant to draw attention to the fact that they were in the attitude of the expert witness whose vision and judgment are undeniably, though unconsciously, influenced by the necessary demands of a previously accepted hypothesis. It is extremely likely that they have precisely this view of their American colleagues, and it is with a view to a fair adjudication of this question that the facts are herewith submitted.

To begin with, there was necessarily a difference in the state of mind of the two commissions in approaching the problem, due to the fact that the British commissioners had already made public expression of their views upon the subject, in which they made positive declarations of opinions already formed upon nearly, if not quite, all questions at issue, and this before they were even appointed as commissioners. This fact was made the subject of a note by Mr. Blaine to the British minister, on February 6, 1892, and was discussed in a reply by Sir Julian Pauncefote. On the other hand, the American commissioners had taken no part in the current discussion, and, as a matter of fact, had been for several months prior to their appointment engaged in professional work in regions of the country remote from newspapers or telegraphs, and were entirely ignorant of the remarkable wave of public excitement and anxiety by which the country had been swept in consequence of the rather stirring diplomatic correspondence which had been going on. Without returning to Washington, or in any way coming in touch with the generally prevailing irritation due to the attitude of Great Britain, they proceeded to Bering Sea and the Pribilof Islands, having only in mind that they were charged to investigate "the facts having relation to seal life in Bering Sea, and the measures necessary for its proper protection and preservation." They were accompanied in their investigations by the British commissioners, to whom every facility for a thorough study of the situation was accorded. Rookeries were visited together, abandoned beaches were examined in their company, and as far as could be all data from which conclusions might be drawn were made the common property of both commissions. The evidence of great diminution in the number of the seals herding upon the islands seemed to be overwhelming, and much of it, especially the physical condition of the rookeries themselves, was quite independent of human testimony; natives and Government officers who had resided on the islands for many years were practically unanimous in their opinion that the herd was being destroyed. The attention of the British commissioners was called to the unmistakable evidences of depopulated breeding rookeries and deserted hauling grounds, but there were early indications that they were looking for support for a hypothesis carried with them to. the field of observation. After considerable "joint and several" investigation, the commissioners separated, to meet again in conference for the preparation of a report early in the year 1892.

It is not necessary to enter into the details of the extensive observations and studies which led the American commissioners to conclude, first, that the number of seals was rapidly diminishing; second, that the principal cause of this diminution was and had been pelagic sealing; third, that the only effective remedy was the complete cessation of taking seals at sea. Their report, published as a part of the case of the United States, may be referred to by those who wish to know more thoroughly the situation as it presented itself six years ago. It is a satisfaction to know that every assumption which they made has been justified, and every prophecy in which they indulged has been fulfilled by subsequent events.

From the beginning they sought to have the conference at Washington conducted upon the assumption that all political or international questions, rights, or privileges should be ignored; that facts should first be determined, causes got at as far as possible, and remedies proposed, as if an individual were the sole arbiter of the question, and the benefit of the whole people only considered. In fact, at one stage of the conference the following question was submitted as a possible means of clearing the way to what seemed to the Americans to be the real function of the joint commission: "Suppose that one individual controlled the whole matter of killing seals on the Pribilof Islands, in Bering Sea, in the North Pacific, and wherever any of this herd of fur seals are found during their entire life, and suppose that the end in view was to so conduct the killing that the largest possible number of commercially valuable skins could be obtained every year perpetually—that is to say, that the owner or controller would be forever benefited in the highest degree by the existence of the herd; under these conditions, what would be the best method of killing—by hunting at sea under the most perfect and complete regulations and restrictions that are possible, or by killing males only on land under the most perfect and complete regulations and restrictions that are possible?"

But from the start it was evident that the British commissioners were determined to discuss and consider all questions from a diplomatic and political standpoint. There was to be difficulty in agreeing upon conditions; greater difficulty in determining causes; and practical disagreement as to remedies. At the very first conference strong objection was urged against a part of the letter of instructions which the Secretary of State had communicated to the American commissioners, and which they, in turn, communicated to their British colleagues, receiving in exchange the instructions sent by Lord Salisbury. The obnoxious paragraph was that in which the American commissioners are informed that they need not concern themselves with the question of "the exercise of complete jurisdiction by the United States for the protection of seals," it being declared that this made it impossible to consider matters relating to the manner of taking seals upon the Pribilof Islands. This assumed obstacle to a full discussion of the problem threatened to interrupt and delay the conferences, notwithstanding the repeated declaration of the Americans that it did not exist, and it became necessary to suggest that there seemed no occasion for concern on the part of the British commissioners on account of the character of instructions received by their American colleagues, at least not until the latter declined on account of such instructions to consider any question at all related to the work of the commission. The incident is referred to only as one of many evidences of a tendency to avoid the simple line of scientific inquiry upon which it had been hoped the commission might work; and, further, that it may be recorded that throughout the entire life of the commission the representatives of the United States were absolutely free and unhampered in the exercise of their personal judgment, not only as to the scope of their powers but as well as to the attitude which they assumed on any question coming before them.

A preliminary basis of agreement had been prepared and was submitted by the Americans at the first conference. Its first proposition was a simple declaration of the decadence of seal life in Bering Sea. It had hardly been suspected that there could be serious difference of opinion on this point, but there was an unwillingness to go on record as believing that the herd was greatly declining in numbers, except in the most guarded manner. It was even affirmed by the British commissioners that there was evidence to show that the number found on the islands in the season of 1891 was greater than in 1890.

The second proposition submitted was a declaration that this decrease in the number of seals frequenting the Pribilof Islands must be attributed largely, if not wholly, to pelagic sealing. This involved the gist of the whole controversy, and in support of it the American commissioners offered the now well-known facts regarding the natural history of the seal, the inevitable results of sealing at sea, the impossibility of perfect control of land killing, the silent but unimpeachable testimony of skins marketed by pelagic sealers, and other evidence, the strength of which time has served only to increase. There were certain facts of profound significance as affecting this question which it seemed impossible to controvert. An animal whose period of gestation is about one year, and which gives birth to but a single individual, belongs to a species not likely to multiply with great rapidity, even when left to contend only with its natural enemies. Add to this the admitted facts that the two sexes are equal in number at birth, and that polygamy is universal, only one male being found on the breeding rookeries for every fifteen or twenty females, and it follows with a certainty rarely met with in discussions of this kind that the preservation of the herd depends upon the preservation of the female, and that a very large proportion of males may be taken annually without affecting in any way the number born. Had a good set of "mortality tables" for seals existed, such as have long been available for men, it would have been easy to calculate just what number of males of fixed ages might be killed annually without interference with the reproductive power of the herd, and computations of this character were made and submitted by the American commissioners, based upon the best available data, showing that the average number taken upon the Pribilof Islands during the past twenty years could not have been greatly in excess of safety.

But in sealing at sea discrimination as to sex is impossible. It was affirmed that by far the greater number of seals killed at sea were females, an assumption justified by an examination of the skins of a large number of seals taken from the water, as well as by other evidence not less conclusive, though more circumstantial. Indeed, the British commissioners admitted that at least one half of those killed at sea were females, making it extremely difficult to understand how they could argue themselves into the belief that the herd could ever reach its maximum dimensions while pelagic sealing existed, or why the growth of the latter would not necessarily lead to its practical extermination. Finally, it was submitted that if the truth of these two propositions was agreed upon it was impossible to avoid the following conclusions: That the restoration of the sealing industry to its normal condition, so far as relates to the Pribilof Islands, requires the entire cessation of killing, both on the islands and at sea, for a period of years not less than five, and to be extended if competent examination of the rookeries so indicated. When killing was resumed it should be restricted to selective killing on land, under the most rigid inspection, and pelagic sealing should be perpetually prohibited.

In submitting these propositions as the logical outcome of the facts as determined, the American commissioners were adhering to both the letter and spirit of the convention, in which they were directed to investigate and report upon "the measures necessary for the proper protection and preservation" of seal life. They did not believe it to be their duty to consider how such measures would affect the interests, business or political, of the subjects of either or any nation. They believed with Lord Salisbury that it was "equally to the interests of all the Governments concerned in the sealing industry that it should be protected from serious risks of extinction," and that the discussion of compensatory measures, equivalent adjustments, methods of enforcement, etc., was not the duty of a commission organized to ascertain facts and conditions, determine causes, and suggest remedies. They also fully realized that they were tolerably certain to be thought ingenious rather than ingenuous, because the remedies which they suggested were apparently and perhaps in the end really in the interests of the country they represented, although, in their judgment, in the end equally in the interests of the great nation represented by their colleagues.

A lengthy discussion followed this presentation, filling much of the time of the seventeen sessions of the conference, which extended through February and a part of the first week in March, 1892. The British commissioners were unwilling to admit that pelagic sealing was the main or even a principal cause of the diminution of seal life, for which they argued that killing on the islands was most largely responsible. It was even asserted that if taking on the islands was entirely discontinued all the pelagic sealing that could or ever would be carried on in Bering Sea and the North Pacific would never lead to the commercial extinction of the seal herd. Such an assertion made necessary others of an equally extraordinary character, such as that the killing of females at sea to the extent of furnishing one half of the pelagic catch, as they were compelled to admit, should be considered as a desirable and wholesome treatment of the herd, not tending in any way to reduce the total available product. They affirmed that the percentage of seals lost in pelagic sealing was very small, being much less than that by improper killing on the islands. They accounted for the very large excess of skins of females in the pelagic catch by declaring that during the past few years frequent raids upon the islands had been made, in which crews of sealing vessels descended upon the breeding rookeries at night and captured the females in large numbers. The small size of the islands and the presence of numerous guards near the principal rookeries rendered such an assumption practically impossible, and, although occasional raids have occurred, the poachers have always preferred the hauling grounds of the male seals, whose skins are more valuable than those of the females. It was generally believed by residents of the islands and Government inspectors that the number of skins obtained by this kind of poaching was extremely small. The presence of large numbers of dead "pups" or young seals, which was attributed by the American commissioners to starvation owing to the death of their mothers at the hands of pelagic sealers, was charged by the British commissioners to other causes, some form of disease or epidemic being the favorite.

Differences so radical as to causes were naturally accompanied by equally radical differences as to remedies. On the one hand, it was contended that as pelagic sealing was in the largest measure responsible for the evil, its entire suppression ought to be recommended; on the other, that pelagic sealing had comparatively little to do with it, and that severe restriction on the number killed on the islands, with perhaps a small closed area surrounding each, would arrest any diminution in numbers and restore the herd to its normal condition. For an area of protection perpetually closed to pelagic sealing, the British commissioners suggested a zone about each island ten miles in width. When it is remembered that the two principal Pribilof Islands are each about a dozen miles long and nearly half as wide, and that they are approximately distant forty miles from each other, the utter inadequacy of such a suggestion is at once evident. To the consideration of a closed time during which all sealing at sea should be prohibited, they were not at all inclined, except it were so limited as to be practically valueless. They strongly urged the recommendation of a scheme in which it was assumed that some sort of a relation might be established between the number of seals permitted to be killed on the islands and the pelagic catch. This relation was to be elastic and compensatory, and its advocacy logically compelled the extraordinary declaration that sealing at sea could be as vigorously and exactly controlled and restricted as sealing on land.

In short, it became more and more evident every day, as the conferences continued, that the representatives of the people who were engaged in pelagic sealing were set upon opposing any recommendations looking either to its destruction or to its serious curtailment. Apparently the question was not so much How will this measure or that affect the vitality of the seal herd? as How will it affect the profits of this nation or the losses of that? The possible preservation or destruction of a useful and rare species was lost sight of in the consideration of immediate gains, compensatory regulations, equivalent shares, etc. The American commissioners, while not unwilling to discuss all proposals to limit and control sealing, both on land and at sea, became so thoroughly convinced that there was but one efficacious remedy that they felt compelled to reject all schemes of improvement in which that was not insisted upon. Indeed, nothing else was offered or considered which, in their judgment, gave even small encouragement of success in actual practice.

Under these circumstances it was only possible to agree to disagree. A very brief joint report was finally settled upon and drawn up, in which the only conclusion of any importance whatever was a most cautious and circumspect declaration that there had been a diminution in the number of seals annually resorting to the Pribilof Islands, and a hesitating admission that "man" must be held responsible for it.

It is worth noting that during the entire conference there was a singular anxiety and desire on the part of the British commissioners to secure from their American colleagues some formal admission regarding or recognition of pelagic sealing as a legitimate mode of taking seals, and one not inconsistent with the continued preservation of the herd in normal extent. The several methods by which this was sought to be accomplished were striking illustrations of how far the work of the joint commission departed from the lines along which it was originally laid out, leaving the region of scientific investigation for that of partisanship and diplomacy.

As every one knows, the whole question with the joint and separate reports of the commissions went to arbitration before the tribunal at Paris in the summer of 1893. The report of the American commissioners was completed and submitted about the middle of April, 1892; that of their British colleagues was received by Lord Salisbury on August 14th. These dates are significant. In recent diplomatic correspondence relating to the present state of the controversy there has appeared a vigorous protest against a policy of delay in submitting reports which were to be simultaneous or concurrent, and it has been plainly intimated that advantages are expected to accrue from such delay. This is but history repeating itself. The strictures of Messrs. Phelps, Carter, Blodgett, and Coudert, counsel for the United States in 1893, upon the great and unjust advantage taken by the Government of Great Britain in this way might furnish useful, if not interesting, reading for some of the severer critics of the recent action of the Department of State.

The Bering-Sea arbitration, with its disastrous consequences to the sealing industry, can hardly be referred to with satisfaction by those who so earnestly desire the reference of all international disputes to similar tribunals. It serves, however, as an excellent illustration of the fact that international arbitration is now and must be for a long time little more than an elaborate and costly means of reaching a compromise. The Paris award gave to the United States somewhat more protection of seal life than Great Britain had offered through her commissioners, but vastly less than was asked as necessary and just. The British commissioners had suggested a protected zone about the islands of ten miles width, and were willing to consider a close season during that period in which pelagic sealing is unprofitable; the arbitration tribunal gave a zone of sixty miles and a close season of possible consequence, if only it could be enforced, together with a few minor restrictions which have proved to be of really little value. It is difficult to find a compromise between life and death, and even so dignified and learned a body as the Paris tribunal failed in this instance. The experience of three or four years has shown the signal failure of the remedies proposed. And this must not be attributed alone to the lack of perfect application of these remedies. The United States has maintained a fleet of Bering-Sea police at once efficient and expensive. Great Britain has naturally done as little as could well be managed to aid in the enforcement of the arbitration decree, and indeed how could the most sanguine millenarian, with any knowledge of national history or traditions, imagine that the British navy would be spurred to great activity in running down schooners flying the British flag, manned by British subjects, while engaged in the profitable pursuit of an industry which another nation claims as its own?

During the past two years, under the efficient direction of Dr. Jordan, elaborate investigations, including something like an actual count, have been made to ascertain the number of seals frequenting the Pribilof Islands. Other studies have strengthened the conclusion that the number has greatly diminished within the past decade, and is now greatly and rapidly diminishing. In spite of the regulations of the Paris tribunal pelagic sealing has increased enormously, while legitimate killing upon the islands has been largely discontinued. That was a charming thrust of Lord Salisbury's when he said that the English interest in the fur-seal industry had for some years exceeded the American, for it is beginning to be apparent that while the Americans have busied themselves arranging for arbitrations, seeking international co-operation, and organizing scientific commissions to prove again what had been proved before, their sleepless adversaries were quietly gathering in the profits, realizing that the business must soon be closed up anyhow. In the report of 1892 the British commissioners had no intention of indulging in humor when they suggested as one of the most desirable measures the setting apart of at least one of the two seal islands entirely for the purpose of breeding seals for pelagic sealers, no land killing to be allowed there.

Is it not time for the people of the United States to ask whether the game is worth the candle? Two considerations call for the preservation of the Alaska seals, the sentimental and the commercial. The former may be dismissed, as it has been in cases of far more intimate contact between man and the species exterminated. The commercial consideration is one that ought not to be difficult to deal with. In fact, all are agreed that the "preservation" of the fur-seal species is important to mankind, and it is only necessary to determine how important or how large a proportion of mankind is deeply concerned in this. If the continued existence of any industry or material product is of extreme importance to the comfort, health, or general well-being of a large part of mankind, extreme measures may justly be resorted to to insure its permanence. It is not difficult to imagine conditions under which the care and preservation of the buffalo might have been forced upon the people of the United States, wisely and justly.

The first part of the argument of the American counsel before the Paris Arbitration Tribunal consisted of a most suggestive half-dozen pages, prepared by Mr. James C. Carter, in answer to the question, "What law is to govern the decision?" Mr. Carter declares that it must rest upon international law, which he defines as the "general standard of justice upon which civilized nations are agreed." This standard is fixed neither as to time nor place, and depends largely on the character of the interests involved. Existing as law without legislation, it controls and influences governments much as public opinion influences individuals. Indeed, international law may be considered as the public opinion of nations, and like other public opinion it may be depended upon to support extreme measures in extreme cases.

If the claim of the United States regarding the evil consequences of pelagic sealing are valid, and its absolute prohibition the only means of preventing the annihilation of the fur-seal species, the method of treatment adopted in 1886 and 1887—being, in fact, that followed by the Russian Government for many years—would be entirely justifiable, provided the value of the species to mankind was so great as to bring to such a policy the support of the public opinion of nations. It is now too late to discuss this question, however, for the nation is in honor bound to respect and abide by the Paris award, no matter how unreasonable and inadequate it may be. It is difficult to see what good will come from further discussions, investigations, or declarations. Until the regulations adopted at Paris are "abolished or modified by common agreement between the Governments of the United States and of Great Britain" they must stand.

Great Britain appears to be well satisfied with them, and ought to be if they have so affected legitimate sealing on the islands that "English interests in the fur-sealing industry now exceed American."

The heroic treatment resting on asserted exclusive jurisdiction and property rights, the basis of which was so strongly argued by Mr. Justice Harlan and Senator Morgan at Paris, is now estopped by the denial of such jurisdiction or rights in the decree of the tribunal appealed to. The artifice of branding female seals, which was to be resorted to extensively during the current season, will in no way diminish the number taken at sea, for the brand can be found only after the seal is killed, and it can not injure the skin enough to make the business unprofitable. Besides, it is an expedient hardly worthy the dignity of a great nation. Is it not the part of wisdom, then, to accept the situation? Already the cost of maintaining the struggle, the expense of commissions, policing fleets, arbitrations, etc., has been enormous; on the other side of the account is the comparatively small tax on the few thousand skins taken on the islands since 1890, to say nothing of possible large payments of damages to the lessees for loss of profits on account of a forced diminution in the catch. With the present attitude of Great Britain, the practical extermination of the herd in the near future seems assured. The United States may have the pick of what remains by wholesale killing on the islands; further international irritation will be avoided, and an episode which has brought into strong relief certain national traits on both sides will close with at least one interesting result: it will be impossible to know absolutely which group of scientific experts was right in regard to the effects of pelagic sealing.