Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

an enemy's port; the fourth, whether and on which he considered that the free ships made free goods; and the treaty deserved a vote of approbation. fifth, wbat constitutes contraband of war. | The hon. gentleman had thought it irre. In spite of the ingenious speeches that gular not to wait till information had been had been made, he could not consider officially received of the accession of either of these points to be settled by the Denmark and Sweden. That they were present convention. The coasting trade ready to accede did not rest only upon his he conceived to be completely given up (the noble secretary's) authority. This to the neutral powers—the right of had been expressly declared by his mablockade so modified as to be of very jesty in his speech from the throne. Belittle advantage—the right of search by sides the House was called upon now to no means secured. He approved, how- consider merely the convention with Rusever, of that stipulation which took it sia, and if there should be any thing objecfrom privateers; for he was so much an tionable in the treaty concluded with enemy to that species of warfare, that he Denmark and Sweden, there would still was glad to see any measure adopted for dis- be room for censure and condemnation. couraging it. The examination of papers After repeating the assertions of the two could not afford sufficient evidence of the last speakers, the noble lord denied that property on board neutral ships. It was this was a compromise, as stated by the very easy for these ships to be provided | hon. gentleman, or that we had given up with papers which might appear perfectly what we had been contending for, as fair and regular; and yet if an officer stated by the noble lord. We had maincommanding one of his majesty's squa. tained in full force our maritime rights, as drons found them so, his hands were tied far as it was our interest, and even as far up, and he could not proceed to search a as it ought to be our desire. We had gained neutral convoy.

The character of a all we were entitled to demand, and all it blockaded port, as given in the conven- was our wish to procure. The treaty was tion, must render all attempts to blockade at once just and expedient, equitable and an enemy's port completely abortive. If wise. Some asked, what did the treaty our squadrons were driven off a coast by a give us which we had not before? We squall of wind, though still within sight of had not entered the contest to expect any it, neutral vessels would be at liberty to new advantage, but to preserve our ancienter. The specification of articles con- ent and incontestible rights; if these were traband of war he regarded as improper, preserved, the object of our endeavours in omitting many naval stores which it had been fully attained. The hon. genhad always been the policy of this country tleman, in complaining that we stood exto regard as contraband. He was not actly where we were before we engaged in one of those who had doubts with respect the struggle, did not take a just view of to our maritime rights. He wished the the state of the question. The powers of question to be decided, but hoped for a the North had confederated to dictate a decision of a different nature. His opi- new code of maritime law to Europe. We nion was conformable to that of an hon. went to war to dissolve this confederacy, gentleman whom he was sorry not to see and to defeat its purposes. What the in his place, and who declared that those House therefore had now to determine rights ought only to be abandoned with was, whether this confederacy had been our existence. The House would recollect dissolved, and whether we had asserted that he had compared them to the national our ancient rights. The importance of flag, which ought to be nailed to the these rights it was unnecessary for him mast, and with which we ought to sink or now to dwell upon. There was not, he swim. Alas! that flag was now struck! believed, a man in the country who would Notwithstanding the objections he had to not allow that it could not be over-stated. the convention, he should not oppose the There was one point of view, however, in address.

which he thought it had not been sufficiLord Hawkesbury said, that from the ently considered. To her maritime turn the debate had taken, he should not greatness this country owed her happy find it necessary to trouble the House at issue from the late awful struggle in which any length; he should not do his duty, she was engaged, and to the maritime however, if he did not shortly state the greatness of England the continent of grounds on which he differed from the Europe owed whatever it retained of hon. gentleman and from the noble lord, independence. This power had reached

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

its present stupendous pitch from a sys- in the north of Europe. He went on to tem of policy begun in the earliest tinies say that, in his view of the subject, there of our history, and brought to perfec- were in dispute four essential points, and tion in the time of the commonwealth one or two collateral : 1st, the right to by the enactment of the navigation seize enemy's property in neutral ships ; laws. The principle then established 2nd, the affair of contraband ; 3rd, the was, to limit the commerce of Great Bri- right to search vessels under convoy; and tain to her navigation, wherever the 4th, the right of blockade. A fifth and two clashed to prefer navigation and to sixth might be considered, the colonial sacrifice commerce. The trade of Britain and coasting trade, or they might be conwas thus all confined to British ships, and sidered together, and called a fifth. Of this regulation was extended even to the these we had gained all that were essentime of war, with one single qualification, tial, and our concessions in the others that a larger proportion of foreign seamen would be attended with no disadvantage. was then allowed. The consequence of The maxim of “ free bottoms free goods, those salutary laws was, that, upon the was abandoned in the most unqualified principles laid down by the confederacy, manner, and enemies' property was dewe had nothing to gain, but every thing clared seizable wherever it was to be found. to lose. We allowed no neutral naviga. Those who were dissatisfied because there tion, and the more it was freed from res- was no new regulation with regard to trictions, we suffered the more. France, contraband of war, ought to recollect on the other hand, had long found her that it was not our object to annul existnavigation too small for her commerce. ing treaties. Even the armed neutrality In peace she merely laid a small tonnage had only made an enumeration of articles upon foreign shipping entering her ports, which was to apply to nations between and in time of war she gave it every pos- whom no treaty existed. This treaty was sible encouragement. Her system then not general, and by no means established was, to throw her commerce into the hands the point that naval stores should not be of neutrals, that she might add to the reckoned contraband between others than strength of her military marine. Thus the contracting parties. The advantage the principles we contended for were not of the concession to Russia was as trifling. only abstractedly right, as between all In the course of a season she did not send countries, but of the most essential con- twelve ships without the Sound. He sequence to us in our individual circum- declared himself to be of opinion that, by stances. Yet, he would fairly allow, that our treaty with Sweden, naval stores were he thought we should make the exercise to be considered as contraband. All conof these rights as little vexatious as pos- traband was expressly excluded, and the sible. It was wise not to push them too list in which naval stores did not appear, far; by seeming to recede, we might prop was introduced by an ac specialiter." The them more effectually. He had read al- right of search, he considered the most most every thing that had been written in important of all; without it, the recognidefence of the claims of neutrals, and he tion of all the rest was of little value. had never found any reasoning to show Here a concession had been made, but that they had right upon their side. How- he was free to declare that it had been ever, one strong argument was drawn voluntarily offered by the British governfrom convenience. It was said that our ment, on condition that the northern principle, though just, was liable to abuse, powers would recede from their inadmis. and that theirs, though erroneous, might, sible pretensions. He did not, however, in practice, be found less inconvenient. join in the vulgar clamour against priWith a view to the preservation of our vateering, and it would be found that privileges (a thing he considered of the privateers would suffer very little by this first importance) that foundation on which abridgment of their rights, as the regulathis argument against them rests should tion extended only to ships under convoy. be for ever taken away. His lordship then The noble lord who spoke last, in what made some observations, and quoted a he said concerning the manner of searchpassage from the treaty itself to prove that ing, had fallen into a great error concernit was by no means meant as a new code ing the law of nations. Where there was of maritime law, but merely as a settle- no ground of suspicion, there was no right ment of certain differences that had arisen to search, and the captain exercised this between this country and three powers right always at his own risk. That there

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

was

on

was nothing new in the language used in ; four former depend upon the law of nathis convention, he proved, from the tions, but the colonial and coasting trade treaties with Denmark and Sweden, con. are not to be considered per se, but to cluded in the middle of the seventeenth be regulated by particular treatics. If a century. It was only just ground of sus- nation allowed another to trade to its copicion that authorised the searching of lonies in time of peace, there was 110 single ships, and with regard to ships doubt that its colonial trade might be under convoy, we had always the addi- carried on by that nation in time of war. tional security of knowing when they were Those who said we had here granted assembling, of being able to form conjec- neutrals all they demanded, he referred tures as to their cargo and destination, to the treaty of armed neutrality itself. and of having it in our power to watch It there said, they should be them during the whole course of their at liberty to sail from port to Port voyage. It had been asked, who was to the coast of the belligerent, but be the judge of the suspicion ? Ex vi ter in this convention the words were " sail mini, he who feels it." Gentlemen were to the ports and on the coast.”

Was apt to confound suspicion and proof. The nothing intended by this alteration ? same course would now be pursued with He denied that neutrals would be at convoys as formerly with single ships. liberty, under these words, to commence The words had existed above a century a voyage from the ports of a power and a half, and in their interpretation at war. The coasting trade was illegal in would not now undergo any change. The time of war, only because it was prohipresent definition of blockade went as far bited in time of peace. He was told that as any esteemed writer on the law of Holland laid no restrictions upon this trade pations had ever extended it. Upon this whatever; therefore in her case we could point, opinions had been in the extreme. not suffer by this article, whatever conWhile some contended that the power struction was put upon it. The colony possessing a naval superiority has a ight trade he considered to be in no way afto declare any port whatever in a state of fected by these regulations, but to remain blockade, without sending a ship of war on its ancient footing. It never entered near it; others were of opinion, that a into the consideration of the armed neuport ceased to be in a state of blockade, trality; and this treaty merely settled the as soon as the blockading fleet, from disputes occasioned by their unwarrantwhatever cause, left it open to neutral able claims. However, as some doubts navigation. This treaty held a due me- had arisen, and as it was most desirable dium between these two opposite doctrines. that every ground of future disagreement Considering that the liability of a block should be obviated, an explanation upon ading fleet to be blown off the port by this point had been requested from the stormy weather, constitutes the only dif- court of Russia. It was not in his power ference between a blockade by sea and a officially to state the result of this explablockade by land, the treaty declared that nation, but this lie could state, that when a port should then be considered in a state produced it would be found highly satisof blockade when there was a fleet as factory. The colony trade was expressly signed to wlockade it. Thus these foar disallowed, with this trifling qualification, most essential points, which had all been that whatever relaxation had been made disputed, were all abandoned to us. We during this war, should be continued in have a right to seize enemies' property future to the contracting powers.-- No wherever met with on the seas; we have ship was now to be considered to belong a right to consider every thing as contra to that power whose flag it bore, unless band of war with which our enemies could the captain and one-half of the mariners be supplied to our annoyance; we have a were natives of the country. Those who right to search both individual ships and knew how neutral colours had been abused fleets under convoy wherever there is the in the two last wars, would not consider least ground of suspicion; we have a right this regulation of small importance to us. to blockade, not only with stationary, It was said that the treaty was ambigu. but with cruising squadrons, and all these ous; but what treaty was ever framed are publicly acknowledged by those powers which did not leave room for the cavelling whose interest it is to dispute them.- of the discontented? As to the question, The remaining points he considered as whether more could have been gained, he collateral, and for this reason, that the trusted that ministers would receive credit (VOL. XXXVI.]

[T]

for having used their utmost endeavours respecting the contraband trade in time to promote the interests of their country of war, it did not appear to him, that any But in this case, if no more was gained, thing of moment bad been gained by the it was because no more was wished. The convention. Whatever might be the terms treaty did enough; it contained an ample in which the act of accession on the part recognition of all that was essential to us of Denmark and Sweden might be notified, as the first maritime power on the globe. he trusted that the policy of this country He knew there were some who saw no would not treat the weak powers with sepolicy but in violence. For his part, if verity. In considering the definition given he could obtain what he considered sub- by the learned gentleman, of the state of stantial justice, he not only would let off the blockade, he could not help observhis enemy without blows, but would help ing, that it was rather a dangerous expehim to escape. We had gained by this riment. It had been changed six or seven treaty all that justice, all that policy re- different times. At one time, to constiquired; and he did not see where would tute a state of blockade, it was necessary have been the dignity in pressing severely that the ships should be stationary; at anupon states, because, when compared other, it was required that they should be with us, they were weak and feeble. A sufficiently near to the port to render the petty concession was not to be compared approach to it dangerous. Blockades with the rancour and ill-will produced in could not be justly defined; for there was extorting it. When the northern powers no certain standard, no precise rule, no were confederated against us, and threat traces of them in the admiralty laws. They ened to enforce their pretensions with the had been indeed assimilated to sieges by sword, we showed true magnanimity in land. Whenever the declaration of a state using force to chastise their temerity ; but of blockade was announced, all vessels we showed equal magnanimity in seizing which endeavoured to enter the harbour, upon the first symptoms of returning mo- became from that moment liable to be deration to bring about an amicable ar- seized; yet if the blockade was not ac. rangement. We thus proved that we tually kept up, that circumstance would would neither recede from our rights, nor give rise to strange contradictions in the push the exercise of them beyond the jurisdiction of the country. He should bounds of reason and justice. On these also remark, that no specific time was principles the treaty was founded, and on settled, with regard to the determination ihese principles he asked for it the appro- of the blockade. A case in point had bation of the House.

fallen within his own knowledge. On the Dr. Laurence said, it was argued, that 18th of April, the squadron which kept a we had established the right of preventing port in a state of blockade, sailed from its : free ships from making free goods; yet situation, and on the 19th, after twenty, that right had been previously acknow- four hours sail from the place, the vessel ledged, and it was matter of fact, that the to which he alluded was taken, and northern powers never seriously wished to treated as if the port had been in actual contend with us for it. They had merely blockade; yet who could undertake to set up a plea against it, with a view of say, that there existed at that moment converting their opposition to advantage evident danger in attempting to enter the in other points. They had contended harbour? No man would venture to asagainst our right in that instance, with a sert, that such a case fell within the deview of withdrawing their pretensions, in finition given by the learned gentleman. order to induce us to make concessions of The right of convoy was consequently a importance in other respects. As to the consideration of the highest importance, right of search, it had never been dis- and should never be enforced but in cases puted, when the circumstances of public of great necessity. The treaty was, in affairs rendered the attempts of the north- that respect, drawo up with as much care ern powers more likely to succeed; when as could be well expected; yet there our ships were doubled in number by those might be a discretion in government to go of the enemy, and when our fleet was farther. Under every impression of the driven up the Channel by a very superior treaty, he insisted that he would not have force. Yet, placed as the country was, built it upon the basis of the armed neuin that alarming situation, no attempt had trality; he would not have constructed been made to deprive us of the right of this vessel upon that keel. Instead of search. When he considered the article weakening the power and influence of Russia, it tended to increase and strengthen the Belt would be still open; a passage, them; for the emperor of Russia was left the discovery of which was reserved for to negotiate for the two other states. It the consummate skill and daring spirit of , was full of discord, and liable to much the British navy. difference of explanation. Having com- Mr. Erskine said :- I cannot, Sir, resist mented upon the policy of giving up to the pleasure of expressing the most unRussia some settlement in the Mediterra- qualified approbation of the manner in nean, he concluded with observing, that which this convention has been so happily he could not tamely think of relinquishing concluded. I have never been in the all the possessions we had acquired, for a House when it was in progress, and only peace which he could not think honour- entered it to day when the seconder of the able to this country.

motion was concluding his speech; but Lord Glenbervie said, there were two though a stranger to your debates upon points upon which he must say a few the subject, I am no stranger to its importwords. One was with regard to the goods ance. Not long ago I saw three great of Russia, in which a difficulty had been nations of the North, one of them powerintroduced by his learned friend which did ful indeed, confederated against the most not belong to the case. The other was a vital interests of our country; yet in so matter of fact, concerning which bis short a time afterwards I now see the learned friend's understanding was incor- same powers pledged to concur with us in rect. Upon the matter of fact his learned their support, by upholding our ancient friend had stated, that the contracting system of commercial law. The effect of parties of the armed neutrality of 1800, such a successful conspiracy must have did not really mean to persist in denying been to establish universally, that free the right of search: this was very extra- bottoms should make free goods ; because ordinary, since they had an express order they who denied the right of search and upon that subject: This was direct evi-enforced therefusal, annihilated every regudence of a fact which was at variance with lation against enemies property or contrathe understanding of his learned friend band of war; since it is only by search upon the subject. A Swedish captain had that the invasion of the law can be de. received express orders from his court not tecied. Our situation, nevertheless, as it to suffer any examination whatever, but regarded those confederating nations, was to resist it with force. This was the po- delicate in the extreme; since some of sitive order and matter uf fact which he their staple commodities were in times of had to oppose to the understanding of his hostility (unfortunately too frequent) learned friend upon this subject. After closely connected with the necessities of wards the captain became subject to our the state. The merit of this convention is search : he thought it wise not to resist not therefore to be lowered by calling it a that search with force, he was brought judicious compromise. During the Ameinto this country, but when he went home rican war it was well observed by the late he was broke for not having resisted the Mr. Burke, whose name the House will al. search by force; a tolerable evidence of ways hear with respect that almost every huthe intention of his court seriously to dis- man benefit was founded in compromise and pute the right of search. A Danish ship barter,"wegive” he said, “andiake, choosactually did use force in resisting the ing rather to be prudent statesmen than search; another proof that his learned subtle disputants." --- If we had endeavourfriend's understanding upon that subjected to insist on barsh terms with the pow. was at variance with the fact.

ers in question, they would have renewed Mr. Sturges considered the treaty, not the contest on the first opportunity that as a compromise, but as a complete sur- offered; but by our wise moderation the render of every object which we could difference has been finally settled ; as they fairly desire. He hoped it would be last- have solemnly pledged themselves, in the ing, and he had well-grounded reasons for face of Europe, that no neutral nation entertaing that hope. They were grounded shall in time of war protect the property in the glorious manner in which we had of enemies to belligerent powers, nor furasserted our rights, and the moderation nish them with the materials of war, for with which our victory had been followed. this prohibition is sufficiently established Northern powers had learnt that the by the recognition of the right of search, Sound was not impassable, and even if

it as the general law of civilized states. We were rendered impassable, the passage of had thus preserved the honour aud inter

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »