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THE BEHRING SEA DISPUTE.
HAT England and the United States should go to war over the seal fisheries in Behring Sea, is, happily, very improbable, in spite of the fact that the almost seven years of active negotiations between them have yet borne no final fruit. During the opening months of 1892, however, there has been a revival of the exaggerated rumors which seem to mark every season of approach to active sealing operations; and, in the present political situation of the two countries -both entering upon the throes of a bitter electoral campaign, and partisan feeling consequently running high -a certain degree of anxiety regard ing the outcome has been inevitable. It is true, that in neither country would a resort to extreme measures find any great support among the upper circles of general public sentiment. Yet it is a cause of universal satisfaction to note, that, during the three months ended March 31, 1892, more substantial progress has been made toward a final friendly understanding, than during any similar period since the trouble began.
As far back as November 10, 1891, the announcement had been made during argument in the Sayward case (see Vol. I., p. 473), that an arbitration agreement had been reached.
This was subsequently confirmed in President Harrison's annual message to Congress, and in the Queen's speech on the occasion of opening the British Parliament. It turned out, however, that the agreement referred to was not a formal one, officially binding upon the respective Governments, but merely a series of propositions subject to revision, which had been assented to by the diplomatic representatives of the Powers. It was not until February 29 of the present year, that the formal instrument was signed, nor until a month later that it received the ratification of the United States Senate. The delay in signing the treaty is understood to have been due to the fact that Secretary Blaine's original proposition for an Arbitration Commission consisting of five members was not assented to by Lord Salisbury, on account of it making no provision to meet the demands of Canada for a special representative on the Commission to guard the interests of Canadian sealers. It was, therefore, necessary, in order that the United States and the British representation might be equalized, to increase the proposed number of arbitrators from five to seven.
The Joint Commission sent last season to Behring Sea to gather all possible information that might bear upon the proposed arbitration, met for the