Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

From the Spectator of 6 May.
NEUTRAL RIGHTS.

to say, that it is now declared on the part of his Government that this rule of public law has no foundation in natural right, ALL Englishmen and Americans who love and that the usage rests entirely on force. their country, must be watching with anxiety The principle that "free ships make free the opening of a naval war which might goods," asserted by the Armed Neutrality in revive in their full force questions that have 1780, at a time when England was too hard slept during many years of peace. Popular pressed to resist the innovation, has been passions are easily stirred on either side of alternately insisted upon and violated by the Atlantic, and unprincipled or reckless most of the European powers, according as men are never wanting to inflame them. their interest as neutrals or belligerents may It is therefore gratifying to observe that our have dictated at the time. The United own Government, acting in concert with States, though submitting to the exercise of that of France, is fully alive to the gravity the ancient law, urged constantly its modiof the crisis, and is taking well-weighed fication, and have repeatedly used their steps to meet it; and we confidently appeal influence with the younger members of the to all true friends of freedom and civilization Transatlantic family of republics to procure of Anglo-Saxon race to combine their efforts their adoption of a more liberal and enlarged to secure the triumph of sense and reason principle. The interest of France has usually over the national jealousies of former times, pointed the same way, and it might therethat so a contest provoked by Absolutism fore be anticipated that she would recognize may not embroil the countries where Liberty the new principle without reluctance. Our has her chosen seat. We cannot forget that own Government has now wisely acceded to in England there is still a party, never very the same view; and the effect of the Order far from power, which has shown, in many in Council on the 15th ultimo is, that this instances, that it is equal in obstinacy and country waves the right of seizing enemy's not superior in intelligence to the Ministers property laden on board a neutral vessel, who, to the loss of England and the exas-unless it be contraband of war. A controperation of America, framed and executed versy of seventy years is thus happily and the Orders in Council of the last war. We we trust finally determined. It is worthy had begun to hope that the folly of our of remark, that certain ancient treaties beformer rulers was at length expiated, and tween France and Turkey admit the printhat the hatred of England which their acts ciple that free ships make free goods; and had inspired in America was almost extinct. this is not the only instance where the latter True is it that "the evil that men do lives power has shown a liberality worthy of the after them," and the curse of our fathers' sin imitation of Christian nations. may yet embitter the intercourse of us the sons. Let the value of our boasted progress in intelligence and humanity be now proved; and let the points of maritime law and practice which the last treaty of peace left open be now quietly adjusted, to the honour and satisfaction of both nations.

It may be objected, that by virtue of this principle the trade of Russia will go on under the neutral flag without hinderance or loss; and that the effect of war will be no otherwise felt by her people than in a slight enhancement of the cost of carriage of her produce. But the prudent course for England to adopt will be to narrow and clearly

The friendly arrangement of these questions will be much assisted by the great define belligerent rights so as to obviate all growth of the naval power of America since complaint, and, within the undisputed limits, they were last mooted. A state which strictly and vigorously to enforce them. For desires to preserve the just and necessary a full and sufficient exposition of the laws of rights of war to its own navy will be equally blockade, we may again refer to the great ready to concede the same claims to others. jurists of America. Their writings will Another favourable circumstance is the re-show that it is still within our power to anverence felt by the Americans for law, and nihilate the trade of Russia; only we must the great eminence and authority of its ex- employ more ships and take more trouble positors among them. Indeed, the utmost than under the old system. Each Russian measure of belligerent rights contended for port must be effectually blockaded;-not a by England might be safely rested upon the paper blockade by declaration of the Queen writings of the jurists of America. Thus in Council, but an actual blockade by the Chancellor Kent tells us, that during the presence of a force rendering it dangerous to late war the Government of the United enter. It fortunately happens that the coastStates admitted, as the settled doctrine of line of Russia is short compared with her international law, the English rule that vast territory; and it appears that our Adenemy's property was liable to seizure on miralty are fitting out a great number of board of neutral ships. But then he goes on frigates and smaller vessels, so that Napier

may not have to complain of that deficiency | soldiers of Napoleon made the winter camwhich so often crippled the operations of paign of Eylau clothed in English greatcoats Nelson. The combined navies of France and boots. To allow war to be needlessly and England ought to be adequate to main-prolonged by hesitating to interfere with tain a strict blockake of every place in the commerce within lawful limits, would be dominions of the Russian Emperor where a worse than foolish: let Government carry ship can load or discharge a cargo. If neu- on the contest in all respects with vigour, tral vessels be tempted by the high profits and still commerce may be very safely left of the trade to brave its risk, it is competent to take care of itself. We shall see it flourish, for them to do so. They have a clear right and yet need not charge our Ministers with to enter a blockaded Russian port, if they treachery nor our Admirals with sloth. can; and we have an equally undoubted When there is business to be done, men and right to capture them in the attempt. Per- means will commonly be found to do it; haps some of the fast-sailing clippers, of and, in spite of the valour and vigilance of whose performances we hear so much, may our cruisers, it will still be true that be willing to try their luck. If they get in and out again, it will be very much to the credit of the builder and captain; and if they fail, we are quite sure that the decisions of their native courts in other cases will silence all complaints.

We are only now entering upon a state of war, and no one can foresee what course the strife may take, or how far powers at present neutral may be drawn into it. But we must expect that, on many occasions, all the good sense and forbearance of both countries will be required to prevent dis

It would be easy to excite dissatisfaction at home at this partial surrender of the rights enforced in former wars. Some persons will be disposed to resist the measure as an imputation upon the cherished memory of Percival and Eldon; and there is always putes between England and the United the temptation to seek popularity by empty States. The prospect of large profits will be vaunting about Nelson and Copenhagen. a strong inducement to infringe the clearest We would observe, however, that there is rights of war, and the loss and violence inlikely to be ample scope for asserting the evitably sustained by those whose attempts prowess of our navy in actual conflict with are baffled cannot fail to supply a mighty an enemy whose position and character com-lever to any demagogue who desires to move bine to provide plenty of the same sort of the mob. The only fair and safe mode of work as Nelson's hardest battle. It is not looking at these questions, is for Americans wise to risk very much for the maintenance to suppose themselves at war and England of forms, if their disregard does not involve neutral, and to insist upon nothing for their the yielding of any really important right. own traders which they would not be preIn the last war, we endeavoured to prevent pared to concede to ours. On our side, in the produce of the French colonies from dealing with neutral ships and property, the being conveyed to the mother-country in utmost care and delicacy must be shown by neutral ships. Admitting that we had the our cruisers, and all accidents and mistakes right to prohibit the direct carriage, still, if fully and promptly corrected or compensated. the ship touched at an American harbour, It is not the least evil of war that the loss and unladed and paid duty there, she might and suffering thereby caused cannot be conresume her voyage under no liability to fined to the states engaged in it. The clear seizure. In this way our precautions were duty of belligerents is to render their operaeasily evaded. The law of nations is open tions as little injurious as possible to neutrals; to all; and the refined distinctions which but it is vain to expect that neutrals can our lawyers have contributed to spin upon entirely escape. On the other hand, if the it may be taken advantage of equally by neutral states sustain some loss, it has also every neutral trader. What is directly pro- the opportunity of fairly and securely making hibited may in many cases be effected indi- great gains, and that without entering upon rectly with a little more time and trouble branches of trade that would have been unand outlay. This truth is already partly lawful in time of peace, but preserving a seen by merchants, and will soon come to be strict impartiality. By upright purposes, better understood by the light of experience. and honest and kindly dealing, we may hope We exhort traders to remember for their to avert from ourselves and our children the comfort, that, in the fullest fury of pro- great crime and calamity of a war with the hibitory Orders in Council and Decrees, the United States.

"Aurum per medios ire satellites
amat."

....

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« ElőzőTovább »