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come, I believe, when to carry contraband of war or otherwise knowingly aid a belligerent under a neutral flag, will be held an offence against the law of nations only inferior to piracy, entailing search and seizure by neutral vessels as well as belligerent, and condemnation in any neutral court of Admiralty.
And now, as we have seen, all the nations of Europe are, as they have never been before, united in one inte rest, and that a neutral one. Why should not they settle once for all with or without the concurrence of both belligerents or either—the terms upon which the rights of peace shall henceforth be trenched upon by the so-called rights, or rather the alleged necessities, of war? A beginning of that good work was made at the Congress of Paris in 1856. England, by accepting the rule of “ free ships, free goods," as respects articles not contraband of war, has shown her willingness for concession. Why not carry the work now further ? Why should not a few of the maritime nations, having agreed previously upon a few leading principles or bases of settlement, appoint each a really able jurist as Commissioners to draw up an international “Code of the Sea,"—the respective rights of neutrals and belligerents to form the first subject of consideration,—and with power for the Commissioners to add to their number representative jurists from other mari. time states as they may be appointed ? The Code once framed might be embodied in a great international treaty, and in the meanwhile might receive force, chapter by chapter, through special conventions, as each state acceded to what was done. From the moment when the bases of settlement were agreed upon, still more from the adoption of any chapter of the Code, the navy of each power should be pledged to the enforcement of the rules laid down on behalf of all powers agreeing to them, so that every neutral trader should feel assured of protection wherever the flag of any neutral man-of-war was flying. Such a system would not have the
called “armed neutrality;" it might possibly lead to the establishment of an international “ police force of the seas," the ships affected to which should be inviolable in any war whatsoever.
The work I have sketched out need really not be a difficult or a long one. The Great Exhibition of next year, the approaching meeting of the Social Science Association in London, might be made materially to assist towards its being taken in hand. Assuming that really efficient men were appointed, and at a sufficient rate of remuneration to secure the exercise of all their energies for the time being, six weeks, or two months, ought to be sufficient to give the world some authoritative heads of a “law of search in time of war," which is the main thing required, and a couple of years might probably enable us to see the whole Code framed, together with those authoritative translations into all the maritime languages of Christendom which are essential to its efficacy. And if only the case of the Trent, which, while I write, is still but a dark political riddle, by calling attention to many unsettled questions involved in the present “ law of the sea,” should lead to an authoritative solution of some of them, it may yet be felt that, in the words of another riddle of old, “out of the “ eater came forth meat, and out of the “strong came forth sweetness."
But in the meanwhile ? Well, we neutrals must bear and forbear. It is not a pleasant part to play, that of neutral, especially when, like England, you are by no means used to it. To have your merchant-ships stopped and overhauled on every sea by foreign officers—by mere privateers — seldom over-courteous, often not very scrupulous, is decidedly disagreeable. War, it must be admitted, is a terrible nuisance; and, after all, we should be thankful that it makes itself such. For the chorus of grumbling which it awakes from every captain, ship-owner, merchant, whose ship has been delayed, whose expenditure has been increased, whose profit has been diminished, by a such stoppage, swelling as it is sure to do year after year, must help greatly in course of time to stun and paralyse the very belligerents. But we must remember that—not to speak of older times—in the days of our own fathers we inflicted at all events the maritime portion of the war-nuisance, for the better part of a quarter-century, on all the nations of the civilized world, and that none suffered at our hands as neutrals more acutely than they whose belligerent, doings we are now complaining of. We must remember that at no time are men's passions more vio lent than during the struggle of a doubtful civil war, such as that now raging between the two fractions of the late American Union; and as bystanders, we shall do well to make allowance for these passions, and not to be carried away by them. We must remember, that owing to the monopoly of federal office held almost without intermission since the very formation of the Union by the party who have now led off the secession of the South, the men now in office at Washington are raw hands, ill. prepared by stump oratory, electioneering factions, or even the governorship of single states, for the functions which they have to fulfil ; and we shall do well to make allowance for their inexperience. We must remember that, demoralized as it has been by the long ascendancy of the slave power, the North has not yet even risen to a clear perception of its own standing-ground that the party now in office simply represents the negative principle of resistance to the slave power, many of its members being really mere free-soil filibusters instead of pro-slavery ones; and we shall do well to make allowance for the low morality of this New York stratum of the republican party—this mere topmost drift of spouters and intriguers, who share with, I believe, more sterling elements (the President himself included) the direction of the present American Cabinet. Trusting, as I do, that the present crisis of our great sister nation across the Atlantic is
but of new birth—believing, as I do, that the tremendous necessities of a gigantic struggle will gradually purge away the dross, and bring to the surface the more solid and nobler portions of the nation, -I trust, also, that we shall know how to forbear towards it. Our journalists seemed never to have done enough in sermonizing the American people as to their folly in falling out together; as to the horrors of a fratricidal strife between the members of a kindred race; as to the absurdity of their mutual outbursts of violence. The South miglit bombard Sumter ; take sudden possession of all the Federal property which it could lay hold of; commission privateers ; threaten the Capitol. Still, in England, the doves of the broadsheets went on cooing to the North of peace. Now, a single utterly bloodless “outrage upon the British flag" has been committed without authority by a notoriously hasty-tempered officer ; and because that act is not instantly disavowed, but is lauded by American folly, every dove is turned into a raven, and our nation is not only told to prepare for war, but is, from some quarters, actually hounded on to it. I do not say that, if the Commissioners were not released, war would not be for England a dread necessity. But I say that that war would be at least as great a folly, very nearly as true a fratricide, as the civil war between North and South-I believe that to some extent it would be even more so. I believe there are large tracts of country in these islands, whose relations of kindred with the North are closer and more multiplied than those of the North itself with the South. It has been truly said, that in our manufacturing districts there is scarcely a family which has not some member in America ; and I believe there are more Englishmen, Irishmen, and Scotchmen at the North (in which I include the whole present United States), than there are Northerners at the South, or Southerners at the North. And I believe that the true North—the old Puritan North of the Pilgrim
fights while others loaf and spout (alas! I began by saying that I wrote these even in Boston itself)—is far more genu- pages on the assumption that the soluinely akin to us in feelings, in morality, tion of the “ Trent difficulty" would be in cultivation, than it is to the slave- a peaceable one. I should have nothing owners, slave-drivers, and “poor whites” to unsay, if it were a bloody one. A of the South.
war between England and the United Let us then hope, pray, work, that States cannot last long; and if, as is this dreadful doom of war between Eng- most likely, it should lead to the bolland and America may be averted. Let stering up of a peace between the two us allow no Napoleonic cunning or per- fractions of the Union, that peace canfidy, acting through foreign or easily dis- not last (as I have before endeavoured avowed French journals, after egging us to show in this periodical), so long as on to that war, to take advantage of it the cause of dissension, slavery, is not for the greater glory and profit of French removed. Until that takes place, again neutrality; in order that, when our blows and again will the war between North have operated as a diversion in favour and South break out; again and again of the South, it may hold us up to the will England find herself placed in the scorn of the world as the hypocrite position of a neutral betwixt belligerents, nation that paid twenty millions to again and again will the need be keenly emancipate 800,000 West Indian slaves, felt of a definite “ Code of the Sea." and double that amount or more to But if, indeed, the solution be peacerivet the chains of four millions of able, I must here express my hope, in Southern ones ;-in order that, if occa- opposition to what I know is the general sion suit, it may join the North in the feeling of this country, that in spite of struggle, to the war-cry of “France the past, England will be in no haste to and freedom," against “England and recognise, otherwise than as she has slavery." Let us endeavour ourselves done, in the qualified character of a mere to keep neutral, that our cause may be belligerent, the Southern Confederacy. that of the civilized world. Let us en- Whatever the Times may say, no thinkdeavour, by every act of forbearance ing man can look at the present state of consistent with national honour, to avoid things and say that that body is not every measure which should help to far less entitled to recognition from foprolong the existence of slavery. And reign countries now, than it was six if, indeed, the chains of the black man months ago. Then, the blockade was should burst asunder, and in the wild indeed a paper one ; now, the vaunt frenzy of a freedom he has been rendered made by President Davis of the appli. unfit to use, the very cotton-plant should cation of Southern citizens to manube rooted up from American soil, let us factures, shows clearly how real it is; turn the more gladly to that glorious whilst the surprise excited by the occaempire which God has consigned to our sional arrival of a cotton ship at Havre, charge in the far East; and as we de- of a turpentine ship at Liverpool, proves velop more and more its unlimited re- equally the fact. Then, the Federal sources for the production of every flag had ceased to be in North Carolina, tropical staple, as we apply more and in South Carolina, in Georgia. Now it more our own mechanical and scientific flies in all three states : forty-five couningenuity towards rendering its produce ties of North Carolina have been repre available for manufacturing purposes at sented in a Union Convention, Savanhome, let us thank God that He has nah and Charleston are both threatened at last released us,—though at the cost, from Port Royal, and new expeditions no doubt, of much temporary suffering, are yet preparing Through the sucwhich we should one and all do our cessive lodgments effected at Fortress best to alleviate,- from being any more, Monroe, Cape Hatteras, Hilton Head, as consumers, virtual accomplices in the and now Tybee Island, the Federals PASSING EVENTS.—THE CONSERVATIVE REACTION.
the entire Western sea-board, and a few more such blows to the South will give them the command of the whole coast line. In such a state of things—though the great army of the North be not yet in motion, and the Western campaign seems to have resulted in strengthening the Confederacy,—yet the latter is at best
but a sort of huge unwilling Paraguay, cut off from all intercourse with foreign nations. To recognise that Confederacy now, before it has shown the strength to clear for itself a single line of coast, would be an act of pique, not of policy or of justice.
If the epitaph of the year 1861 were to be written, most people would agree that it might be written very briefly as far as this country is concerned. Both in politics and in religion it has been set down by general consent as a year of Conservative reaction. Whether England be well or ill governed, whether the Church is lost in spiritual darkness or walking in spiritual light, England and the Church are at all events content with the status quo. The din of Parliamentary rivalries scarce has penetrated of late beyond the walls of St. Stephen's into the healthy open air. The question of the enlargement of the Franchise has rocked itself to sleep. Everywhere the country enjoys an almost monotonous political repose, broken only here and there by the tinkle of some ruminating statesman or the distant cry of a melancholy Reformer. The terrible Mr. Bright himself-the Black Douglas, at whose name country gentlemen grow pale—has been infected with the epidemic tranquillity, and the House of Lords been allowed, this autumn and winter, to shoot, hunt, and dine in peace. As for the religious world, it presents a some what similar aspect. Unorthodoxy, which, at the beginning of spring, seemed likely to give the theological public no little trouble, as the days shortened, retired again into its own studious corner. Mr. Bright is not more completely put out of court in general estimation than these bold thinkers, who drew upon themselves the random fire of religious circles at the beginning
passed down the ranks, both as to politics and theology—to let well alone. Nolumus leges, nolumus deos Anglice mutari. Reformers and non-Reformers alike are inclined to believe in a Conservative reaction. The cry has at last become so loud, that it behoves sane people to see if it be well-founded. Are we going forwards, or are we going backwards, or, lastly, are we standing still ?
Those who are immediately implicated in the fortunes of either Parliamentary party may exaggerate to themselves, we think, the importance of the reaction —if a reaction there be. To acertain class of politicians, whose interest in politics is nothing more or less than an interest in the division-list of the House of Commons, the country may well seem to be retrograding. Lord Palmerston, the strength of whose policy lies in its heartiness and sympathy with popular feeling, might always be confirmed in power by a foreign war, or even by continental disorder. Otherwise, it must be confessed that the Derbyite government are nearer office than they were. While we have been busy over the course of events in Italy or America, the Tories have stolen a march upon Downing-street. The gods of the Whigs are intently watching the battles on the windy plains of Troy, and the country gentlemen have almost climbed unnoticed into Olympus. Birkenhead and South Lancashire, and especially the latter, are regarded in some quarters, as not only important, but as
When parties are so evenly balanced in the House, a single vote is not to be despised, and an adverse election may have as depressing an effect on the spirits of the ministerial supporters, as an adverse division itself. Once at least, last session, the equilibrium of the Parliamentary ship was only preserved by a rush, at the last moment, of neutral and indifferent spectators in the centre to the threatened side. A brilliant bud. get from Mr. Gladstone, whose budgets excite Parliamentary opposition in exact proportion to their ability, might this spring upset the Cabinet for good. The tone of confidence in their coming greatness, which never, indeed, deserts the leaders of the Conservatives, is at present more than usually strong; and a stray borough, which now and then comes drifting in to them, is the seaweed which announces to the adventurous mariners that they are nearing the promised land. Lord Derby may not win the race, but he is certainly once more in the running.
We are of opinion that this gain is more apparent than real, and that England is not necessarily less progressive because the country party in the House is preparing itself-it may be prematurely—to be summoned to the Treasury Benches. The reason why the Tory vessel is sailing in upon us so successfully, is that it has carefully hauled down everything like Tory colours. Upon matters of home policy there is little difference between them and their rivals. On foreign questions, their two greatest statesmen, Sir Lytton Bulwer and Lord Stanley, have made speeches about which there is but little of the old Tory ring, while their greatest tactician, Mr. Disraeli, prudently on such subjects takes refuge in his shell of diplomatic reserve. Lord Derby, indeed, has spoken on Italy with less discretion; but discretion is not supposed to be the forte of the Rupert of Debate, nor are the ideas of one or two aristocratical leaders of the Derbyite host shared on these points with their less fashionable comrades or their followers. There is a nameless social something, which pre
Lord Derby from taking the popular and the true view of Italian affairs, and inclines them, like Lord Normanby, to sympathise with Grand Ducalism and gentility. But the popular fibre runs more strongly through the most powerful bulwarks of the future Tory cabinet. Little, probably, except filial piety, divides Lord Stanley from the Liberals or Semi-Liberals of the day. Sir Lytton Bulwer, but for his literary sensibilities, if he had not been a philosophical Conservative, would certainly be a philosophical Radical. It is true that Lord Stanley's creed on the subject of Hungary was less bold and less advanced. This was a graceful concession to the weaknesses of his father's supporters. There can now be little doubt that the Conservatives will go as far as popular feeling compels them. Nobody, however, can expect that they should go farther, or perform works of supererogation to mortify themselves. The cause of Hungary has not yet been called on at the bar of Europe. A theory upon the Hungarian question is therefore as practically unimportant as a theory on the rival claims of Denmark and SlesvigHolstein. Lord Stanley's hesitation simply proved that the party whose good opinion he was bound to consult have no notion of being more progressive than they can help.
On all subjects of foreign policy the Conservative chariot, then, either keeps pace with the Liberal coach, or may be heard rumbling on in the same direction from a little distance behind. In domestic politics both are pretty nearly standing side by side, for the truth is that both are standing still. The only difference between them is, that the one is anxious to get on, and the other is only too happy to be permitted to rest its weary wheels. Until the country gives the signal, it is not necessary for the one to move, or for the other to refuse. It may be taken for granted that the country is in no hurry to decide on action. All things considered, even those of us who do not govern themselves are apparently