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the various commodities of its own regions, and taking back those of the parent country in return. On the breaking out of a war, the right of neutrals cannot certainly be admitted as extending further than the carrying on their customary trade ; that is to say, the trade which they had previously enjoyed in the time of peace. The colonies, according to the ordinary arrangements of the colonial policy, are entirely dependent on the mother country for their supplies, and of course for their existence. It is, therefore, a great object with the belligerent to cut off this trade entirely, as a means of reducing the colonies; but this attempt would be likely to prove fruitless, if the colonial trade, under the heavy pressure of an adverse belligerent action, should be thrown open to neutrals, who were excluded from it in time of peace. Accordingly such neutral trade is forbidden and condemned.--"It is an indubitable right of the belligerent, (says Sir Wm. Scott, speaking of the colonies,) to possess himself of such places, as of any other possession of his enemy. This is his common right, but he has the certain means of carrying such a right into effect, if he has a decided superiority at sea. Such colonies are dependent for their existence as colonies on foreign supplies; if they cannot be supplied and defended, they must fall to the belligerent of course. And if the belligerent chooses to apply his means to such an object, what right has a third party, perfectly neutral, to step in and prevent the execution ?"*

But on the other hand, much has been said in opposition to this view. The authorities, which are generally received as the depositories of the law of nations, do not appear to support this doctrine. In the remarks of Grotius on the relations existing between belligerent and

• Case of the Immanuel, p. 199.-See also Life and Writings of Wm. Pinkney, pp. 47, 8, and particularly the Memorial on the Rule of War of


neutral nations, he begins with limiting the general rights of war against the trade of neutrals to cases of plain and very great necessity. As not inconsistent with that general view, he would admit the right of excluding neutral property from blockaded places, and of confiscating articles evidently contraband. But he is entirely silent, for what reason we do not pretend to say, on the right of interrupting and destroying in war such neutral commerce, as is not open and permitted in time of peace. Puffendorf and Barbeyrac appear to be equally silent, with the unimportant exception, that in a private letter of Puffendorf to Groningius, who had consulted him concerning a proposed treatise on free navigation, he indistinctly alludes to it.* Bynkershoek, an authority subsequent in the order of time, who fully discusses the rights of neutrals in the restrictions upon them during a war among other nations, takes a view, different in some unimportant respects, from that of Grotius ; but in pointing out the restrictions incident to the prosecution of a neutral trade, be no where asserts or intimates the liability of such trade to interruption, merely on the ground of its having been closed to the neutral in time of peace. Vattel and Martens take similar ground with their predecessors, both of them maintaining the general freedom of neutral commerce from interruption excepting in the generally acknowledged cases of carrying enemy's property, of trading with besieged or blockaded places, and supplying the enemy with contraband, or goods have ing relation to war. Neither of them includes, in their exceptions to the general freedom of neutral commerce, the prohibitory principle of Great Britain in relation to neutral trade not open previous to the commencement of a

* This is the letter, referred to and quoted, though not given at length, by Sir Wm. Scott in the celebrated case of the Swedish convoy.

war.* No authorities are more frequently appealed to, than those which have just been mentioned, on controverted questions of international law, and yet not one of them professes to establish or even to propose the doctrine under consideration; which, however, has been unhesitatingly assumed as established public law by maritime courts, and has been the basis of condemnation to millions of neutral property.

But this doctrine is not only excluded from these authorities and unsupported by them, it finds scarcely more countenance and support in the great body of modern treaties. The public code of nations is erected on the twofold basis of reason and usage; and in ascertaining what usage is, the treaties existing among nations are undoubtedly the readiest and surest help. On examination it is found, that the great mass of treaties sustain the acknowledged authorities on public law, by stipulations favorable to the general freedom of neutral commerce, excepting the cases of contraband, blockade, and the transportation of an enemy's property; but not making an exception in favor of the case in question. There is another remark worthy of notice. With the exception of Great Britain, no other nation seems to have maintained the principle, that the belligerent has a right to interrupt a neutral trade in time of war, which happened not to be permitted in time of peace. If it were otherwise, we should hardly fail to find the evidence of it in the directions given to armed cruizers, in the decisions of maritime courts, and in the immense devastations on neutral commerce. In this matter Great Britain may justly be regarded as standing alone, uncountenanced alike by the

• Grotius, Bk. III, Chs. 1, 17—Vattel, Bk. III, Ch. 7-Martens, Bk. VIII, Ch. 6_See also a learned work, entitled “ Examination of the British Doctrine, which subjects to capture a neutral trade not open in time of Peace,” where the subject is very minutely and ably discussed.

letter of public law, and by the example of the rest of the civilized world. And yet she steadily maintains the correctness of her position ; the DICTA of her maritime courts are made to harmonize with the mysteries of diplomacy ; her judges go hand in hand with her counsellors ; and in their own language, do themselves consider, and mean that others shall consider their doctrine as the universal law on this great question.

And what, then, is to be said ? In this conflict and confusion, who is to determine ? And who is to furnish the redress of wrongs, committed against right? Has neutral commerce, which is, or ought be the great portion of the commerce of the world, any adequate protection, sailing, as it does, on the broad ocean, without the possibility of knowing, what public law controls it, and without the ability of ascertaining what jurisdictions, and what liabilities it is itself subject to?

It is, indeed, difficult to answer these questions. If men would come at once upon the broad and elevated ground of the Gospel, which forbids, under any circumstances whatever, the destruction or the injury of man by his fellowman, they would then all be swept away at

To this great result, to a consummation so devoutly to be desired, we cannot doubt, that the world is making progress ; slowly, it is true, but still really so. In the meanwhile, among other usurpations which add to the frequency and miseries of war, let all unite in condemnation of the one under consideration ; as flagrant, to say the least, as any that darkens the long list of violations of neutral and pacific rights. It is a doctrine, maintained by Great Britain alone ; palliated and supported, as we should expect it would be under the various motives pressing upon them, by the decisions of her maritime courts, and enforced by the thunder of her thousand cannon ; but which, beyond the reach of those


powerful influences, never has been received by the world ; and such is its obvious outrage of neutral rights, in favor of belligerent purposes, it is to be presumed, it never will be. We may say here, what Vattel has sojustly said of the exclusive pretensions of England and Venice to the Adriatic and British seas, “Such pretensions are respected, as long as the nation, that makes them, is able to assert them by force; but they vanish of course on the decline of her power.”




By the law of nations, one state may attack another under certain circumstances, when the state thus attacked is de facto at peace; but the circumstances must be peculiar, well-defined, and incontrovertible. For instance, such an attack is held to be justifiable, if a neighboring nation, that has already demonstrated its ambitious policy in various ways, suddenly increases its armaments by sea and land, without consenting to give any satisfactory reason of such increase. This right is held to be admissible on the same ground, that it would be right to shoot a supposed highwayman or robber, who should suddenly meet us in a forest, and present a pistol, with

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