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vision in the Orders respecting the warning to be given to neutral vessels, he considered as tending to harass them, as well as that relative to certificates of origin, rendering vessels having them liable to capture, which he considered a peculiar hardship. The whole of this measure reminded him strongly of what was said several years ago respecting Frederic of Prussia, that it would not be surprising if, in the extravagance of his projects, he should issue an order directing all English vessels to come to Memel and pay duty, before they went any where else. His lordship instanced the supposed cases of six American vessels, under different circumstances, which would all, under the operation of these Orders, be liable to capture, detention, or the interruption of their voyages; and concluded by moving, "That the house should resolve itself into a committee, to consider of the Orders in Council."
that one neutral could not be distinguished from another. From this, and from other parts of the conduct of the French government it became manifest, that the Decree was to be rigorously executed. Under these circumstances his majesty's government thought it their duty to adopt a measure of retaliation, upon what he conceived to be a clear principle of right, that when one belligerent adopted measures for the purpose of embarrassing the commerce of another belligerent, the latter had manifestly the right of retaliating by embarrassing the commerce of the former. It must have been in this principle that the Order of the 7th of Jan. was issued, and that Order affected neutrals in a much greater degree than that stated by the noble lord, because under that Order, which prohibited a trade between one of the enemy's ports and another, a neutral vessel trading, as was generally the case, with part of her cargo to one of these ports, and part to another, or taking in part of a cargo at one port, and intending to take the remainder at another, was liable to capture in thus going from port to port, or at least to be brought into one of our ports, and subjected to great delay and expence; and in most instances of this nature, which had come before the Board of Trade, it had been found expedient not to break in upon the general principle
Earl Bathurst requested the indulgence of their lordships, whilst he endeavoured to explain the reasons and motives on which the Orders in Council were founded. With respect to the Order of the 7th of Jan. he contended that it did distinctly assert the right of his maj. to adopt further measures of retaliation, if France did not in the mean time recede from the violent pretensions on which the Decree of the 21st of Nov. was founded. France had not re-adopted in that Order, and therefore not to ceded; but on the contrary, the head of grant licences for any voyages of that dethe French government had ordered a scription. The Order was besides evaded, more rigorous execution of the Decree, and turned to the advantage of the enemy and therefore the Order of the 11th of in carrying on a circuitous trade through Nov. and the subsequent Orders, became this country, as in the instance of a cargo necessary. If the principle stated by the of wine from Bourdeaux destined through noble lord was to be taken as that of the this country for Amsterdam, the insurance Order of the 7th of Jan. then it went much was effected at 30 per cent. and the trade farther than the Order of the 11th of Nov.; could be carried on through this country because the former asserted a permanent at 5 per cent. To prevent this, one mearight of preventing, during war, all trade sure might be adopted, which was to prebetween one port of the enemy and vent the re-exportation; but great injury another, whilst the latter measure arose would result to commerce (he did not allude out of the violence of the ruler of France, particularly to wine) if the merchant was and with that would cease. The noble lord not allowed to re-export on finding the had quoted a letter from Messrs. Monro market overstocked. It was therefore found and Pinckney, for the purpose of proving expedient to regulate that tradewhich could that they were satisfied with the explana- not be prohibited, and with this view the tion of the French Decree; but that satis-Orders in Council were issued, which were, faction arose out of the explanation given in Dec. and which was given without any authority, and was merely the opinion of the minister who gave it. Subsequently, upon an application made to the Grand Judge in August, it was stated, that the Decree applied equally to all neutrals, and
in fact, a compromise between belligerent rights and commercial interests. In ' the exercise of belligerent rights for the purpose of embarrassing the commerce of the enemy, and making him feel the effects of his own acts of violence, every possible attention had, at the
same time, been paid to the commercial interests of the country. The noble lord had expressed some surprise at the trade with the enemy's colonies which was granted to the Americans; but it was, in fact, intended as a boon to the Americans, and must be to them of great value; because, when the intelligence arrived in America of the intention of the French government rigorously to execute the decree, and the embargo was in consequence resorted to, the general impression there was, that we should resort to measures by way of retaliation, which would amount to a prohibition of their trade with these colonies. It was intended that all American domestic produce should be allowed to pass through this country, without the payment of any duty, except the article of cotton. The importance of this trade to them would be evident from a statement of their exports, which according to the last return amounted to 104,000,000 dollars, 43,000,000 of which was domestic produce, and of which 8,000,000 was exported to the enemy's colonies, from whence they derived a re-export of 30,000,000. It was found that the surplus of the produce of our own colonies beyond our consumption, was not above a third of what was wanted for the supply of the continent, it was therefore thought expedient to admit of the trade with the enemy's colonies, with the intention, however, that the produce of such colonies, should, in the circuitous trade through this country, be subjected to a duty, sufficiently high, to prevent its having the advantages over our own colonial produce; and also, that the commerce of the enemy should be embarrassed. With respect to the warning, that was in conformity with the rules of blockade, and was merely applied in a more enlarged sense. As to the certificates of origin, they were documents prescribed by the French government, to shew that the property they covered was not of the manufacture or produce of G. Britain; they were therefore belligerent instruments, and shewed that the neutrals using them, acquiesced in the Decree, and confederated with the enemy, and were therefore good grounds of capture. The noble earl repeated, that the object of these Orders was to regulate that which could not be prohibited, the circuitous trade through this country.
Lord Erskine concluded, that the Orders were a violation of the law of nations, and that we had no right to molest a neutral going to an enemy's ports, unless in the
cases mentioned by his noble friend. The violent Decree of the French government, undoubtedly gave us a right to retaliate; but to retaliate upon the enemy and not upon neutrals. He denied the construction put by the noble earl, upon the Order of the 7th of Jan., and contended that principles had been now attached to it, which were never in the contemplation of those who framed it. The noble earl had spoken of an impression in the United States; but upon whom, or upon what part of the people, was the impression? What was called a retaliation of the threatened blockade of France, he contended was much more than a blockade; and he would ask the noble and learned lord on the woolsack, whether this was not so? The principle of a blockade was to prevent the entrance of vessels into the blockaded ports-it went no farther: vessels having notice not to enter the blockaded ports, might proceed to any other port whatever that was not in a state of blockade. But here we not only extended the principle of blockade to ports not actually blockaded, which was all that was on any side contended France had done, but we would not permit the vessels thus excluded, to proceed to any other ports they pleased. We forced them to come in here. They might choose to make for Sweden or any other neutral country; but even this they were not allowed to do. And, therefore, these Orders in Council were not only contrary to the law of nations, but exceeded any thing that it was pretended France had done. His lordship then went on to observe, that we had no right to alter the law of nations of our own authority. It was a question in which other nations were concerned, and they ought therefore to be consulted. We had no more right to alter it for our own convenience, than a judge here had to alter the law of the land without the authority of parliament. - Suppose the lord chief baron, for whom he expressed a high respect, should take it into his head to say that smuggling had grown to such an extent, that he would permit no goods to be carried from one place to another without being first brought to London; and that to prevent all fraud, they must come in by Westminster-bridge and go out by London-bridge. He might be told, that the common law of the land did not permit such a regulation, and that parliament must be applied to before it could be altered. Upon the authority of the principle
cred between nation and nation, as well as between one individual and another. Whatever was contrary to the spirit of the law of nations, he allowed could not be justly altered, even by parliament; but, at the same time, it was to be observed, that from the nature of the thing, there must necessarily be variations in the ap
which we were now setting up, that we had a right to alter the law of nations, so as to suit our own convenience, he might reply, that the evil was of such a nature that rendered it necessary for him to apply the remedy immediately, and that it would be very inconvenient to wait for parliamentary proceedings. But after all, what was the value of this decree, which Buona-plication of the principle to different cirparte, drunk with his victories, had issued? It was worth no more than the paper on which it was written. What was the use of talking of blockading G. Britain, when he had scarcely a ship on the ocean to enforce his Orders? He might as well have talked of blockading the moon [a laugh], and possessing himself of all the lunar influence. And then the Royal Society might imitate the example of ministers, and say, Good God, what a number of wrecks we shall have; let us think of some means of retaliating this dreadful blockade.' Their lordships laughed at this, but he declared he thought it the dullest thing on earth. Buonaparte might equally well have pretended to blockade the moon as to blockade this country, for he was as competent to do the one as the other. His lordship then particularly directed the attention of the house to the injustice and the impolicy of inflicting a great injury on neutrals, in order to do a trifling one to our enemies. He felt a sort of enthusiasm in favour of America; not only on account of the origin of the people, but also on account of the noble stand they had made for their independence. How could they endure an act, now they were independent, which they could not have borne if they were still a colony? It was of the last importance, that both countries should continue in peace and amitywith each other, and every thing ought carefully to be guarded against which disturbed their harmony. He was far from saying, that every thing should be given up to America; but he did say, that nothing but the last necessity could justify our engaging in hostilities with that country.
The Lord Chancellor agreed that the Orders in Council could not be defended, if they were a violation of the law of nations; and if their lordships could be persuaded that such was their character, there could be no occasion to urge their going into a committee, to consider of the propriety of addressing his majesty to check the operation of regulations which were contrary to the law of nations-that is, the natural justice which ought to be held sa
cumstances. This was all that had been done by these Orders; nor did they trench more upon the municipal law than they did upon the law of nations. That the crown had a right of its own authority to make regulations for the internal trade of the country, to intermeddle with the finances, &c. &c. would not be contended; but certainly it had been the practice for the crown, when the nation was at war, to affect the trade of neutrals, as far as that might be called for by the conduct of our enemies.-As it had been argued, that the previous measures of the enemy were only matters of internal regulation, or a farther extension of a navigation law, which they had a right to resort to if they pleased, his lordship proceeded to state his reasons why they ought to be regarded as a direct violation of the rights of neutrals and the law of nations. For this purpose he began with the preamble of the Decree of the 21st of Nov.; the preamble, as he said, being considered by lawyers as a key to the body of the enactment. From the words of this recital, and the nature of the complaints against G. Britain, which was charged with having put whole coasts and empires in a state of blockade, without having the power actually to execute that blockade, in the established form and manner, he contended that Buonaparte must have meant not only to exclude British produce and manufactures from his ports, but also to prevent all trade whatever in British commodities. This was a flagrant violation of the rights of neutrals; for it was as much as to say, that whoever traded with G. Britain would be considered as an enemy by France. Coupling the preamble with the enactment, this was the obvious sense of the Decree. His lordship then adverted to the Order in Council of the 7th of Jan. last year; and argued also, from the plain construction of this Order, that the Decree must have been understood by the late ministers as extending farther than mere internal regulation which France had a right to adopt. It had been said that the present ministers were more ready to argue that their predecessors
my, the neutral had no right to complain; for the injury to her was consequential. He stated a variety of instances to prove the correctness of this position, and cited cases of blockades, embargoes, &c. as illustrations of the doctrine. As to the mode of the retaliation, he did not think it necessary to say a word on that subject.With respect to the policy of the measure, he maintained that a false view of it had been taken, particularly with regard to America. We were not to consider merely the greatness of the advantages which we derived from an intercourse with America, but also what would be our situation if America should submit to the decrees of Buonaparte. To preserve peace with America no one could be more anxious than he was. He wished well to America, first, because it was his duty as a man to wish well to every nation; and next, because the welfare of America was
were in the wrong than that they themselves were in the right. This could not be imputed to him on the present occasion; for, as far as the Order of the 7th of Jan. went, it had his approbation. At least there was here a recognition of the injustice of France to neutrals, if not an approval of the principle of retaliation, by establishing a similiar system of nominal blockade. But the Order at all events extended further than the old mode of applying the law of nations. It might be said, that, according to the rule of 1756, we had a right to interrupt the coasting trade of France; but this interrupted the trade of Spain, &c. with France, and included those nations where France had such a controul as to enable her to enforce the exclusion of our ships. Any nation had a right to exclude our ships; but the Order proceeded on the sound principle, that in fact the exclusion was owing not to the nation itself, but to France. To sup-materially connected with the interests of port this construction of the Order, his G. Britain. But he could not suffer the lordship cited the speech of the President enemy both of G. Britain and America to of the United States, who, he observed, make use of the one to destroy the other; understood it in the same way; and for and his duty to his own country was clearly the justness of his construction of the paramount to his regard for any other. French Decree, he cited the Spanish De-He hoped these orders would not be procree. He also cited the pretensions and ductive of a war with America. complaints of the Danes to the same effect. not, my lords, he said with earnestness, With regard to the opinion of M. Decrès, bring on such an event, by arguing the in reply to gen. Armstrong, who consult- case upon any such supposition. America, ed him about the application of the De- I trust, will still listen to the voice of truth; crees to America, he considered that as she will see that the whole of this is owworth nothing. The whole answer evi- ing to France; and perhaps she may be dently amounted to this, that Decres at last sensible of the policy of joining knew very little about the matter. This with us in opposition to the wild and exappeared from a sentence in the answer travagant pretensions of a power whose which he observed in a very excellent object is to crush us both. pamphlet on this subject, which, he knew not for what reason, was not published in the official letter. There Decrès distinctly stated, that he had much less positive information on the point than the prince of Benevento, whom he advised gen. Armstrong to consult. The Court of Admiralty also had certainly adopted his construction of the French Decree. When a neutral was captured by an enemy, it was not the practice to grant salvage for releasing the vessel because she was in no danger of confiscation; but on an American vessel being seized for trading with this country, and released by one of our ships, one-eighth of the whole was granted as salvage. As to the question of the right of retaliation, his lordship contended, that when our own preservation required that we should take measures against our ene
Lord King contended, that France had not put her decrees into execution, and that we had no proof that neutrals would submit to them. As to the argument, that we had a right to hurt our enemy though a neutral might be injured consequently, he denied that we ought to do a great injury to a neutral in order to hurt our enemy a little. Buonaparte could never have put his decrees in execution if we had not assisted him, and stopped our own goods while finding their way to the continental markets. Commerce was much more necessary to us than to France, and therefore it was folly in us to act upon these Orders, which only secured the attainment of the objects of France. He also strongly insisted upon the inconsis tency of the conduct of ministers, who, while they were the loudest in extolling
the advantages of a commercial inter- | pain in uttering, than it could possibly course with South America, both in the give the noble lord in hearing it. case of Buenos Ayres and the Brazils, should begin however, with what had were so ready to put an end to our com- fallen from the noble and learned lord merce with the continent, which was so (Eldon), who, he was happy to find, had much more valuable. He hoped the Or- abstained on this evening from justifying ders would not be productive of a his own conduct, by attempting to crimiwith America, but even if they stopt short nate that of his predecessors, a very unof this, they would be attended with most satisfactory mode of defence, which of pernicious consequences. late had been too much practised. Still, however, the noble and learned lord had not defended the Orders in Council upon their own merits; but, by way of calling off the attention of the house from the measure now before them, he had directed it to a measure of the late administration, for which he was disposed to give them credit, but between which and the present there was no analogy whatever, and which, if it was defensible, it was precisely because it rested on principles directly adverse to those by which the Orders in Council, dated last Nov. were dictated. The noble and learned lord had dwelt much upon the blockade of the French ports from the Elbe to Brest, that had been proclaimed in the decree issued by the late ministers, but all the conclusions which he attempted to deduce from it fell to the ground, when the single fact was stated, that this was not a fictitious, but a real blockade, perfectly conformable to the understood and acknowledged laws of war, and that the publication of the proclamation was accompanied with directions to the admiralty to carry it into effect. The late ministers in this case therefore, instead of violating the law of
Lord Grenville began with observing, that it was common for speakers, in order to arrest the attention of their audience, to exaggerate the importance of their subject; but, of the magnitude of the present subject, so far from its admitting of exaggeration, it was impossible for any eloquence to convey an adequate idea. He was glad to see that at last the public were becoming alive to its importance, and he ventured to predict, that the anxiety which was now felt concerning it would daily increase, as there was too much reason to dread that misfortune would be accumulated upon misfortune, should the measures be persevered in which gave rise to this evening's discussion. He was decidedly of opinion that the house ought to go into a committee upon the Orders in Council, because of the variety of questions which grew out of them, involving their legality or illegality, their constitutional or unconstitutional tendency, their policy or impolicy-in a word, their bearings upon the prosperity and the very existence of the country. It was the duty of the house, and he conjured them not to lose sight of it at a moment so critical and perilous, to inter-nations, upon any plea of necessity or vene between the country and the ruin by which it was threatened, by the rashness, improvidence and folly of the government. So pressing was the emergency, that the smallest delay might be attended with the most destructive consequences, and the most irremediable evils; he hoped therefore, that their intervention would take place before things arrived at a state in which it might no longer be effectual. Nothing to him was personally more pain-asserted, that they would have been jusful, than being obliged to combat the sentiments of the noble lord opposite to him (earl Bathurst), for whom he entertained the highest esteem and respect, but the task was imposed upon him by an imperious sense of public duty, and he trusted that if any expression should escape him of a nature to give any unpleasant feelings to the noble lord, that he would believe that it would give him (lord G.) greater
convenience, or temporary expediency, had done nothing more than apply the principles of this law to the circumstances under which they were called to act. The noble and learned lord farther contended, that in the preamble of this Decree of blockade the principle of retaliation was set forth: he reminded, however, the noble and learned lord, that this principle was not acted upon; they had merely
tified in recurring to it, always understood, that it should be exercised within the law of nations, and instead of recurring to it they adopted a measure of quite a different nature. He intreated, however, their lordships to get out of the eternal circle of justifying one act by comparing it with another; to abstain from the petty warfare of crimination and re-crimination, and to canvass the measure, now before