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Nov 22 1902


The Montreal Herald, Saturday, November 22, 1902

The Labor Trusts

The announcement that the Building Trades Section in this city is preparing to enforce the Working Card System or in other words is going to attempt to prevent any but union labor being employed in the erection or fixing of buildings, is a warning that a labor monopoly is about to be consummated here which may be cemented on to squeeze the last cent out of that rather large and unfortunate portion of the public which is unable owing to the rigors of our climate to live entirely out of doors. In the general outcry against trusts I do not know whether most people realize that the biggest and most formidable of them all are the labor trusts. Like their opponents the members of the capitalist organizations, the members of each labor organization are not seeking merely a fair return for their investment, but are out after all they can get. And unfortunately for the poor public, which has to pay the piper, the effectiveness of modern organization enables them to get a good deal. By stringent restrictions upon the numbers of those entering any trade, the various unions control the source of supply, and thus obtain a foundation for arbitrary monopoly and for successfully insisting upon compliance with their demands, such as very few financial combinations are able to secure. And at the same time there is not that probability of a rival organization being brought into existence by too large a scale of profits, which is the great safeguard against the aggression of capital. On the other hand no such economy is effected by trades-unionism as is brought about by the amalgamation of financial interests, and in many cases more than provides for the additional profits which accrue to the combining capitalists. The result of the organization of labor, in fact, is the very opposite, for it limits both the kind and the quantity of the work which any one man is permitted to do. The demand for shorter hours of labor is not an unreasonable one in most cases, but when it comes to restricting not only the time that a man will work, but also the amount which he shall do in that time, thus degrading the able and energetic workman to the level of the shiftless and lazy one, it is going slightly too far. Of course it may be said that higher wages simply mean higher prices, and that it means practically the same thing in the end after all. This might be true if capital and labor, that is organized capital, and organized labor took in all classes of the community. And it may yet be true--"in the end." But meanwhile there is a large class of unorganized employees, which is simply being ground to a powder between the upper and the nether millstones of labor and capital. If an employer or an employing company has been coerced into increasing the wages of its union employees, and cannot see its way clear to increasing the price of its products, there is but one thing to be done, cut down, or keep down in spite of general expansion, the salaries of its clerks and other employees, who are not organized to enforce their claims.

Royal "Sport"

For an English newspaper to criticize royalty is somewhat unusual. But one cannot but feel that, if the facts as presented are correct, the following language of The Mid-Cumberland Herald, in speaking of a duck-shooting party at Netherby, in which the Prince of Wales took part the other day, is, to say the least, not unjustifiable. "Men born in the purple," the writer says, "must shoot something, or pine away and die. It is a prince's birthright to blaze away at birds specially reared for the purpose, and almost tame enough to follow him, like Mary's lamb, wherever he goes. The sportsmen took up their positions at three stands on structures of branches and whins, under cover of which they were effectually concealed. The ducks had previously been drawn into a large wire netting enclosure by one of the keepers. As they have been regularly fed by the keeper the ducks come to know him, and showed no fear in approaching him, and at feeding time they followed closely after him. The keeper liberated the ducks in batches of from eight to twelve or fifteen at a time. Immediately they soared into the air, and were shot as they passed over the guns. The total bag for the day was 1,141 ducks. This is dignified by the name of sport. As simplicity is evidently the thing to be desired in this exciting and elegant pastime, why not supply the "sportsmen" with a handful of corn, or whatever cereal the ducks prefer, and let them club them as they come up for it?"

The Kaiser as an Art Critic

The Emperor William has again broken out into art criticism. At the recent opening of the fine new buildings which have been erected in Charlottenburg as the future homes of the Berlin Royal Academy and the Colleges of Painting and Sculpture and of Music, His Majesty took occasion to reiterate the artistic creed which he proclaimed at greater length in a celebrated speech addressed to sculptors about the middle of last December. On the present occasion His Majesty observed: - "....I cannot let this opportunity pass without addressing to both teachers and pupils in the earnest exhortation to preserve and to cultivate the ideals of art within the paths which are traced by tradition and by the immutable laws of beauty; harmony and aesthetics--keeping in close touch with the incomparable classical models, and faithfully following those numerous great masters of later centuries who dedicated themselves to art and developed it, particularly those masters who taught or were trained in the Academy."

His Majesty's former speech evoked considerable criticism, and it was pointed out by the Cologne Gazette, for example, that his remarks would be seized upon by those who desired to obstruct the laborious work of reconciling the public to modern art. His Majesty's profound dislike for modern German art was said to date from the epoch of naturalism and its custom of painting "poor people." In the Emperor's entourage these portrayals of scenes taken from the life of the proletariat were curtly characterized as "Social Democratic," and on artists of this school the suspicion was cast that they entertained Social Democratic views. His Majesty's conception that there is an eternal and immutable standard of artistic perfection was also criticized. It was pointed out that this notion had long been abandoned by the greatest authorities on art, and that it was inadequate to explain either Michael Angelo or Rubens; nor would it apply to great modern German painters like Adolf van Menzel or Arnold Bocklin. Regret was expressed that the Emperor had not placed himself at the head of the modern German movement in art, when "a new splendor would have dawned upon Germany." The Berlin correspondent of the London Times, referring to the utterances of the versatile and infallible monarch, says:--"The whole controversy between those Germans whose views on art the Emperor represents and the modern movements, which may be said to have triumphed in England and France and to be conducting a successful struggle for recognition in Germany, is perhaps most strikingly illustrated in the poetic reasoning of Robert Browning's "Old Pictures in Florence." The one school is still inclined to swear by: "the joy which is crystallized forever, and grief, an eternal petrifaction;" while the other desires to "paint man man, whatever the issue," and would "make new hopes shine through the flesh they fray, new fears aggrandize the rags and tatters." It dismisses as unceremoniously as Browning did the cry of "Greek art and what more wish you" and strives "to bring the invisible full into play; let the visible go to the dogs--what matters?"

Gunpowder for Sacrilege

The late lamented Mr. Kensit does not appear to be the only English Churchman who considers it permissible to use violence to prevent the violation of the things which he holds sacred. Mr. George Martin, the unattached clergyman, who was arrested in London for preparing to blow up a stand on Church property on the occasion of the royal procession, and who, it seems, had given up a living in the country to work with the men in Borough Market, sharing their lot, with the object of converting them, made the following statement in court: "I have two reasons for protecting against the erection of such stands, and I wish, with your permission, to state those reasons. The first is that I protest against them because I am certain that ground consecrated remains holy forever, and that no lapse of time can in any sense alter the consecration. The Church, personified perhaps in her clergy, in different places of England, some far distant from London, is at present engaged, as you know, single-handed and alone, humanly speaking, in fierce conflict to maintain the doctrine of consecrated places, and I ask whether the action of the clergy of the Church, the incumbents and churchwardens in this diocese and the diocese of London in the present year will strengthen their hands. The second ground of my protest is deeper, and in one sense more far-reaching. It is that these stands may represent the league between the Church and the more affluent classes, so-called, of the community, which is at present so great a barrier to the very large proportion of the people from coming - I do not say back because they have never been in fully - from coming into the fold of the Church. With reference to the special case before us, the church in the parish of St. George-the-Martyr, I consider that the retention of the stand, after such other erections had been demolished before the procession was allowed by Almighty God to pass, distinctly wrong, very wrong. Moreover, the Church bears the name, the honored name, of St. George-the-Martyr. Now, although he was not chosen until the reign of the third Edward to be the patron saint of this country, the only authenticated fact in his history is that when the Emperor issued his edicts against Christians, he, a Roman soldier, had the courage to tear them down. I cannot understand how any Englishman, who is also a Christian, could sit still without at least making an effort to remove that which is absolutely so repugnant to the mind of his master, and I trust my own. I regret that I was not able to remove that excrescence which had grown upon so fair a body. Sir, I have nothing more to say, except to emphasize this, that we have no right to adopt him as a saint simply nominally, unless we adopt his spirit."


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