Gambar halaman

with the other parts, it will be elevated, where it should be, to a conformity with the principles of the Gospel itself. This is the great object-to bring the code of nations in strict conformity with the code of Jesus Christ, who, as compared with any other, is to be considered the great and authoritative lawgiver of the world. Every one, who is capable of exerting an influence in matters of this nature, ought to direct his efforts to this end.

But whatever may be our wishes on the subject, it should be kept in mind, that this great process of international improvement, owing to the strength of the human passions, the power of ancient prejudices, and the difficulty of bringing large masses of men to act in the same direction, will probably be gradual. The Gospel condemns all war; and the public Code, if it were entirely conformed to the Gospel, would do the same. But the public Code is a reflection or representation of the opinions of the great mass of individuals in civilized nations ; and it cannot be expected, while the great body of the people in all such nations, as well as in all others, approves of war, that this odious feature will be removed. The approximation of the Law of nations to the benevolent spirit of the Gospel will depend upon the general infusion of that spirit among individuals. Whenever the greater portion of the individuals, who compose nations, shall denounce war, then the Law of nations will denounce it; and not before.

But, at the same time, it is a matter of no small satisfaction to notice, that there is a decidedly increasing disposition among the advocates of war to disapprove and denounce its atrocities, and an increasing desire to remove from the International code all those principles, which, without any just grounds for it, operate unfavorably to pacific and neutral nations. The friends of peace in this country, and in all others ought to notice and

cherish these favorable dispositions ; they ought to lend their united and decided influence in favor of all improvements of this character, even if they fall short of what they may reasonably anticipate, when the doctrines of peace shall become more generally adopted.

It is in consequence of and in furtherance of the views, which have now been expressed, that we engage, though we must acknowledge with much hesitation, in this part of our labors. What we have to say in the chapters immediately following we denominate Suggestions; and wish them to be regarded as such; not as elaborate Essays, but as thoughts thrown off for the consideration of abler minds, who are animated by a sincere love of peace. If the doctrine of contraband of war, so far at least as to prevent the confiscation of that species of property, could be subverted, and the right of blockade be overthrown, if the right of destroying private property on the ocean and of employing privateers could be expunged from the Law of nations, and some other improvements of a kindred character be made, it cannot be questioned, that the cause of peace would be very sensibly advanced. Wars would then be limited, in the attack and defence, in the victory and defeat, to the national forces; and the great mass of the people, the cultivators of the soil, the mechanics, and merchants would be preserved from many of the evils, which now press so heavily upon them, whenever war exists.



One of the unsound parts of the Law of nations is the doctrine of the right of Blockade. The doctrine, as laid down by Vattel is as follows. “All commerce with a besieged town is absolutely prohibited. If I lay siege to a place, or even simply blockade it, I have a right to hinder any one from entering, and to treat as an enemy whoever attempts to enter the place, or carry any thing to the besieged without my leave ; for he opposes my undertaking, and may contribute to the miscarriage of it, and thus involve me in all the misfortunes of unsuccessful war."*

The doctrine, however, is commonly limited by saying, that the blockade must be a strict or efficient one. In other words, the principle laid down, not only by Vattel but by writers on international law generally, is essentially this ;— That belligerent nations have the right of instituting the blockade of an enemy's port and of excluding all neutral commerce under penalty of capture and confiscation, provided the blockade, which is instituted, be such as to render all entrance impossible, or at least exceedingly difficult. Now admitting for the sake of argument, that nations

* Law of Nations, Bk. III, Chap. 7.

have a right to go to war, (which, whatever may be true on the light of nature, they have no right to do on the principles of the Gospel) we maintain, nevertheless, that they have no right to institute blockades, operating in this way upon neutral nations. The objections, which we entertain to the doctrine of blockade, as laid down in the existing Law of nations, are briefly these.

1,--In the first place, it is an impracticable doctrine. We do not undertake to say what, under other auspices, it might be. What we mean to say is, that the doctrine is actually laid down at present in such general terms, with such a want of minute specification, with such an inattention to the circumstances which must necessarily arise in all cases of actual blockade, as to be a practical nullity. A rule of the Law of nations ought to be a rule, by which those coming under its operations can guide themselves; otherwise it tends only to deceive, to lead astray, and to destroy. Now the right of blockade, as it stands on the international statute-book, is a mere abstraction, unsustained by those collateral and subsidiary principles, which are necessary in order to render it applicable in the actual intercourse of nations. The subordinate doctrines must be settled, before the general one can be made practicable. The merchant, who wishes to guide himself by this rule of the Law of nations, may well ask, When does the blockade commence ? Is it constituted by the mere presence of a sufficient number of ships of war? Is it requisite, that it should be commenced by a formal and public notification of the Government, under whose orders they act ? And when this is the case, is the blockade supposed to exist, till it is repealed by a like formal and public notification ? Is the blockade broken as much by vessels coming out with a cargo, as by going in? Do the liabilities, attending a violation of blockade, extend to all neutral vessels both go

ing out and coming in, and under all circumstances ? If vessels, coming out from a blockaded port, have passed safely through a blockading squadron by reason of greater dexterity and vigilance, at what time and place does the liability of such vessel to capture, on the ground of having violated a blockade, terminate ?

These inquiries will show what we mean. If, however, any person is desirous of a more full enumeration of difficulties attending this subject, he will find abundant satisfaction by consulting the Admiralty Reports of the belligerent nations of Europe, during the fierce wars from 1790 to 1815. Such an examination will hardly fail to result in the conviction, that the subject of blockade is far from being settled, that the practices and pretensions of different nations conflict with each other, and that for these reasons, as well as for others which might be mentioned, it is truly an impracticable doctrine.

II.-In the SECOND place, in consequence of the doctrine of blockade being in many of those things which relate to its practical application exceedingly unsettled, it is liable to the most gross and iniquitous perversions ; and consequently stands condemned by the pernicious results, to which it gives rise. A single fact will be enough to illustrate this statement. It is clearly settled by the unanimous consent of all writers and authorities on these subjects, that a legal blockade implies and requires the presence and position of a force, which shall render access to the blockaded place manifestly difficult and dangerous. But this perfectly plain principle, which every nation is competent to understand and act upon, has been violated in cases almost without nurnber. The ordinary channels of commerce have been interrupted, opulent families have been beggared, and wars have been excited by illegal paper restrictions, by mere nominal blockades, without an adequate number of vessels to

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »