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traband trade, which all other neutral na papers, whether he had not a good cause tions would think they had a right to carry to make a search. Upon the whole,
But the noble lord ought to have therefore, it appeared to him that the known that this was only a specific treaty question in the present case was, whether with one nation, which could not bind any treaty could be less objectionable than any other power, and had nothing to do the present? He was convinced in his with any treaty that might be entered into own mind that it was a treaty of conwith Denmark or Sweden; and which siderable merit, and tended to secure to could never hereafter give either Holland this country some of her best and most or America the right of carrying on a con- essential interests. traband trade. The treaty was confined Lord Holland said, he certainly should to Russia alone; and we had no quarrel, vote for the address, but not upon any nor were we at war with Russia. There of the reasons assigned by the mover and was here a complete renunciation of the seconder. He agreed with a great deal coasting trade: there was a clear, un- of what had fallen from the noble lord, equivocal admission of the right of search; who had so accurately divided the rights and he would ask, on the whole, if the claimed by this country as her undoubted country had not established the right for maritime rights, under five distinct heads which she had contended? With regard He owned that he did not consider those to the right of search, he must say, he rights entitled to all the stress and imporwished he could see that right exercised tance which the noble lord had imputed to by privateers as well as by king's ships, as them; at least, he must strongly object these vessels formed a great part of the to the manner and the moment in which naval power of the country; and re- they had been insisted upon, as he did jecting that false philanthropy by which not think it was any justification of the the practice of privateering had been late war with the Northern powers on our condemned in France, he would regard it part, to allege that we went to war as most essential to the interests of this merely to insist on some of the principles country: As, however, the right of comprehended in those rights. The late search' by privateers might be resisted, ministers, he thought, had much to and could not be exercised in some in- answer for, in having idly wasted the stances without a declaration of war on blood and treasure of the country in a war one side or the other, he thought it better with the Northern powers, merely to to give it up altogether. The objection maintain a speculative point. At the same made by the noble lord as to the right of time he declared, that the learned lord search on the part of Great Britain, on the woolsack had not satisfied him that applied not to the right itself, but to an those rights had been effectually secured undue detention after the search was by the present convention. With regard made. The captain of the belligerent to the concessions that had been made in power would have the right to go on board the convention, upon the manner of the ship that guarded the convoy. If, enforcing the observance of those rights, then, he had no motive for suspicion, he he highly approved of them, and should might go away without making any search. vote for the address, because he considered But if he had a sufficient motive, he was these concessions as likely to tend to the not bound to declare what it was, but conservation of the peace. Having might proceed to his search. If, after touched cursorily upon each of the five the search, it appeared that there had heads stated by lord Grenville, he spoke been no justifiable motive for detention of of the former treaties that existed between the vessel, then he was responsible lo no Sweden and Denmark and this country, power for what he had done except his and read several clauses of the two last own, country. He contended, that not treaties in respect to what was deemed withstanding what the noble lord had said, contraband in those treaties. He read an a search might still be made ; and that extract also of a letter from Pensionary there would be as little danger of neutral De Witt, dated 1654, upon the subject of vessels containing contraband goods now commerce, and the carrying trade, as as formerly. From the nature of the they were affected by them. After reasonthing itself, the ground of suspicion must ing shortly upon these points, his lordship depend on the discretion of the officer; said, that upon the whole he approved of and he was to determine from other cir- the convention, and thought it held out cumstances, besides the examinations of enough to bear out the assertion in the latter part of the address; but that he and in a bond of 3,0001. if they carried a still thought, that further explanations greater number of hands. He entertained of the articles of the convention were great doubts, whether it would not add to necessary.
our naval strength, and assist commerce Lord Mulgrave said, he approved of during a war, if privateers were abolished the address, but could not agree in the altogether. They took men from the navy, ground his learned friend had taken to encouraged deserters, raised the price of defend all the articles of the convention, seamen's wages in the merchants service, and to exult over it as the most advanta- and checked the ardour of those who geous convention that this country had would, but for privateers, have entered ever made. He said, it often happened, voluntarily into the navy. He could not in the joy of the moment, on a sudden agree with his learned friend that this was obtainment of peace, after an expensive the best convention this country had ever and bloody war, that through inadvertency entered into; yet, as his learned friend omissions escaped unobserved in a treaty, was satisfied that the construction was that led to future altercation and war. favourable to the rights claimed under the Thus he could, he thought, trace the law of nations by this country, he would commencement of the armed neutrality of vote for the address. 1780 so far back as a century and a half Lord Nelson rose to say a word or two ago. At the end of the war in the middle upon the convention, which he highly apof the seventeenth century, in a treaty proved. It had put an end to the prinwith Holland, an unguarded relaxation of ciple endeavoured to be enforced by the our maritime right gave the Dutch the armed neutrality in 1780, and by the late power of carrying the goods of belligerent combination of the northern powers, that powers under their flag, both coastwise free ships made free goodsma proposition and from the French colonies to France, so monstrous in itself, so contrary to the and that continued for a considerable law of nations, and so injurious to the matime. Upon that very point it was that ritime rights of this country, that, if it the armed neutrality of 1780 was founded; had been persisted in, we ought not to and he feared that, through not expressly have concluded the war with those powers prohibiting the carrying of naval stores, while a single man, a single shilling, or as contraband of war in the present con- even a single drop of blood remained in vention, it might hereafter be taken an the country. That abominable proposiundue advantage of by neutral powers tion was now set at rest, and abandoned during some future war. He however by Russia. The rashness and violence of regarded the convention as having secured the emperor Paul had formed the confe. several of our essential maritime rights. deracy against us to support and enforce It put an end to the principle, that free that proposition; but the good sense, ships made free goods; it established the moderation and temper of his successor, right of search, and it ascertained that a the present emperor, had consented to cruising feet destined to blockade a port give it up and renounce it. By the conwas a blockade. With regard to the res- vention, military stores had been stated as tricting the right of search of ships under the only contraband of war stipulated convoy of a neutral flag to our ships of with Russia to be considered as such, and war, and not suffering such right of search much had been said in the course of the to be exercised by privateers, he highly debate about naval stores, which were not approved of that prohibition. Privateers stipulated to be deemed contraband, bein all former wars, had been in some in. cause Russia had neither produce of naval stances guilty of cruelty, of plunder, and stores, nor shipping enough to have of various abuses of the right of search: freighted them for France. He almost whereas, in the last war, he defied any wished she had possessed both during the man to state an instance in which the latter years of the war; because, in that officers of the navy had not acted in the case, France would have been enabled to exercise of the right of search with great send their fleets out of port, which we caution. He said, it was clear that priva- should have fought, and the war in all teers had at an early period abused their probability would have been much sooner powers, since in the middle of the seven- at an end. But, certainly, to allow other teenth century they were compelled to neutral countries, and those maritime give security for their good conduct in a states, to carry naval stores to the ports bond of 1,500l. if they carried 300 men, of the enemy, might prove highly inju
rious to us, by furnishing those at war and Sweden have declared their readiness with us with the means of strengthening to accede; to express our grateful sense their marine. He approved of the article of the happy issue of his majesty's exerrestricting the right of search of ships un- tions in support of the maritime interests der the convoy of a neutral flag ship of of this kingdom, by which the essential war to our navy only during hostilities; rights for which we have contended are and stated what would have been his own effectually secured, and provision made, conduct if he had met with such convoy, that the exercise of them should be atdeclaring that he should have endeavoured tended with as little molestation as possito discharge his duty with all possible ci- ble to the navigation and commerce of vility to the captain of the neutral frigate, the contracting powers." should have inspected his papers, and if, Mr. Ryder concurred most heartily in from the information of any seaman, he the sentiments of the Address. The subwas led to entertain a suspicion that the ject was not new to the House, for it was papers were fraudulent or fabricated, and one with respect to which every member that the convoy did contain what was con- was called upon to make up his mind at traband or illicit, he should in that case the end of the last session. The House have insisted on a search; and if he found then gave a just support to our maritime any contraband articles on board, he rights, and to the energy at that time disa should have detained such ship or ships. played by the House and by governments The Address was then agreed to. the country was indebted for the advan.
tageous situation in which we were now Debate in the Commons on the Conven- placed with regard to the neutral powers. tion with Russia.] Nov. 13. On the order To form a proper opinion of the merits of the day being read, for taking into con of the present treaty, it was necessary to sideration the Convention with Russia, consider what was the nature of the new earl Temple wished to know if the acces- questions agitated, and the pretensions sion of the courts of Denmark and Sweden set up by the confederacy. It was not to the treaty had been received ? Lord necessary for him to remind the House of Hawkesbury said, the formal accession of the alarm which the convention of the those powers to the treaty had not been northern powers created. A new dereceived; but that the Danish and Swed. scription of blockade was laid down: it ish ambassadors had signified the readiness was pretended, that neutral flags should of their respective courts to accede to the make free goods; and that they should convention.
bear freely the property of one bellige Lord Francis Osborne then rose to rent power, without being liable to intermove an address to his majesty, and pre- ruption from another. But that which faced his motion with a few observations, was the most dangerous feature of the in which he briefly recapitulated, the dif- whole was, the principle on which that ferent articles of the convention, and re- treaty affected to be founded: by this marked, that the stipulations contained in principle it was boldly assumed, that a each were calculated to terminate the dis- few states had the right to legislate for the pute in a manner perfectly consistent with rest of Europe. This pretension, under the honour and theinterests of this country. which the three northern powers wished The relations that we had always main- to reserve to themselves the right of viotained with neutral powers were re-estab- lating treaties that they had formerly enlished by this treaty, and there was no tered into with this country, and of prolonger any danger of their becoming the tecting the like violations in others, was subject of dispute. We were placed on completely done away by the present the same footing that we had always stood treaty.
And here he could not help with respect to Russia, Denmark, and stating his approbation of the conduct Sweden, and our just maritimel rights that ministers had followed in the negowere amply secured. His lordship con- tiations which had terminated this dispute. cluded by moving; “ That an humble Ad. They had acted with a firmness and mo dress be presented to his majesty, to re- deration which could not be too highly turn his majesty the thanks of this House praised. The victory at Copenhagen, for having been graciously pleased to and the abandonment of the confederacy communicate to them the convention en by the emperor of Russia, were sufficient tered into by his majesty and the emperor proofs of the energy and diplomatic skill of Russia, to which the kings of Denmark of those in whose hands the affairs of the
country were trusted. Of their modera- | the nations at war. They are therefore de. tion, the treaty on the table afforded the prived of the means of carrying on the most ample evidence; and when the trade of the enemy, while every opportuHouse had considered it, he was confident nity is given them of fairly conducting they would not like it the worse, that it their own. The third article of the conwas entirely confined to the settling of the vention of 1800 stipulated, that the effects pretensions set up in the convention of of neutral states should be freely navithe confederacy, and did not attempt to gated, and that the neutral flag should be decide many points which might have considered complete evidence of the efbeen adverted to, but which that conven- fects being the property of subjects of tion did not bring into question. Look those powers. This the House would reing at the treaty, he must observe, that it collect formed the foundation of the armwas not to be considered as forming a ed neutrality of 1780. But this claim new law of nations, but as terminating a was completely renounced by the present dispute, by a return to old and established treaty. The next article he should noprinciples. If it should be found that all tice was that which related to ports in a our just rights were fully maintained by state of blockade. According to the conthe present treaty, and that every thing vention of 1800, it was requisite, in order essential was secured to us, the House to constitute a blockaded ports that there would doubtless testify their approbation should be a line of ships stationed in the of the measure, by unanimously voting for front of the harbour, disposed in a manthe address. He was also confident that per somewhat similar to the investment of the House would not be the less satisfied a fort by troops. This article, which was with the treaty, if they should find that it directed against our naval superiority, was gave up any part of claims which were completely disclaimed by the present evidently useless, and tended only to irri-treaty: A blockaded port was now chatate other powers. Such a concession he racterized to be that in which the disconceived to be consistent with the dig. position of the ships of the attacking nity and moderation which had always power produce an evident danger of encharacterized the councils of this country. tering. The treaty on the table, how. In order to show the advantages of the ever, stipulated no particular mode of inpresent treaty, he should briefly contrast vestment, nor determined any number of its principal stipulations with those of the blockading ships. The last article to convention entered into by the three which he should call the attention of the northern powers.
The third article, it House was one of great importance. It would be observed, determined what was would be observed, that this article, in to be considered a blockaded port; what the convention of 1800, was carried to an articles were contraband of war; and it extent far beyond what was given to it by tegulated the trade of neutrals on the the treaty of 1780, though that was procoasts of belligerent powers. These were fessed to be the basis of the convention. three of the most important articles in dis. That article stipulated, that the declarapute. The conventionof the northernpowers tion of the officer commanding a neutral in 1800, in stipulating that neutralbottoms, squadron should be considered sufficient should make free goods, assumed the right evidence that there was no contraband of setting aside all the existing treaties of merchandise or enemy's property on commerce between this country and those board his convoy. On ihe contrary, the powers. But the present convention with corresponding article in the present treaty Russia brought things back to their former rendered such a declaration insufficient, state, and fixed, as contraband of war, those and the right of search was preserved to articles which were so considered by the our ships of war, in all cases where there treaty of commerce concluded between shall appear a just cause to exert it. As the two crowns in 1797. The second ar- it was the object of the right of search to ticle of the convention of 1800, gives a guard against unfair practices of the subright to the ships of neutral powers to jects of neutral powers, no alteration could trade freely to and from the ports of pow. be admitted with respect to it, and, acers at war. The convention on the table, cordingly, no modification of the princihowever, made an important alteration ples appeared in the present treaty. It in that respect. The ports sailed from are was, indeed, so regulated, as to render omitted, and permission is only.given to the exercise of the right more practicable; Deutral shipstóthe ports upon the coasts of but nothing was granted that could tend
to diminish our security, or compromise Now it appears to me rather a singular our honour.
He trusted, therefore, that mode of putting an end to a dispute, to the treaty would not only put an end to leave it just as it was found. It reminds the dispute at present, but prevent the me of a dying gentleman, who, when tranquillity of Europe from being ever making his will, remarked that he was again disturbed by it. He congratulated leaving a fine occasion for a law-suit. the House and the country, that the ad- But it is supposed that no dispute may vice given by some gentlemen at the close arise upon the construction of this treaty of the last session had not been followed. with Denmark and Sweden. The latter It was fortunate that administration had country never considered naval stores to neither listened to those who expressed be contraband of war, in consequence of doubts of our rights, nor those who the treaty with this country; and I have thought that the question ought to be left no hesitation in stating it as my opinion, undecided, as in 1780. He rejoiced that that, upon the fair construction of that our temporising conduct at that period treaty, 'naval stores are not contraband. had not been followed on the present oc- As a proof that the court of Sweden concasion. It was to that unfortunate dis- siders that treaty in the same light, they position that the late pretensions of the expressly claimed the right of carrying neutral powers were to be ascribed. From naval stores under it. With respect to every view of the subject that he had taken, the question of free bottoms making free it appeared to him impossible that there goods, I shall not examine whether more could be any opposition to the address. is not lost than gained on that point.
Mr. Grey said :-I rejoice, Sir, most The hon. gentleman seems to think that sincerely, that the convention has taken we have gained a great deal by the defiplace, and I am little disposed to exa- nition of a blockaded port. I should mine its terms critically. The hon. gen- rather be inclined to believe that we had tleman congratulates the House, that they adopted the definition of the neutral did not follow the advice of those who powers, than insisted upon one of our expressed doubts of our rights, nor own. This description of a blockade is of those who thought they had too much certainly by no means that which we insense to doubt of those rights. Yet sisted upon in the course of the war, when thought that the question should not be the coast of Holland was blockaded by tried. I am sure, Sir, that on the present ships lying in Yarmouth roads. I am as occasion I have no reason to regret the little inclined to agree with the hon. genopinion I then gave; and if the House tleman in his opinion respecting the compared what might have been lost by coasting trade. The leaving out the the convention, with what has been gained words, from port to port," is of no great by it, they will not find much reason to importance. It appears that though neurejoice that my advice was not followed. tral ships may not carry the property of I must, however again state, that I most the enemy from port to port, they may sincerely rejoice in the present convention; carry it when it becomes their own by for, had it not been concluded, I am con- purchase. How is this purchase to be vinced that we should have had no peace ascertained ? With regard to naval stores, with the French republic. I consider it the case is not better than before. The merely in the light of a judicious compro- French, it is true, cannot bring naval mise; for I cannot agree that the dispute stores from Petersburgh ; but the subjects is settled. We are called upon to thank of neutral powers may ship them on their his majesty for concluding this treaty with own account, and send them to France. Russia, but there is no absolute certainty As to the right of search, I approve very that Denmark and Sweden are willing to much of the regulations which the treaty accede to it. Notwithstanding what has contains with respect to it. It is proper that been said, I do not think this convention those causes of irritation, of which neutral has done away all possibility of dispute. powers had so much reason to complain, The noble lord who moved the address, and should be completely done away. the hon. gentleman who seconded him, Earl Temple said, it would be in the adopted a singular method of proving recollection of the House, that there were their assertions in this respect. They five points in dispute with the neutral went over each article of the treaty; and powers. The first related to the colonial said, this has left us just as we were ; that and coasting trade; the second, to the just places things as they were before. right of search; the third, the blockade of