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Government; and the result was The Earl of Carnarvon asked that a million of money had been whether any communication had wasted-more than wasted-for taken place between Her Mathe general paralysis throughout jesty's Government and the Goall the ramifications of our com- vernments of foreign States, relamerce, caused by the warlike pre tive to the Southern blockade. parations of Government, had Papers had been laid on the table already been productive of the containing much useful informamost pernicious effects. The af- tion on the subject, but they did fair of the Trent was nothing but not mention whether any such an unhappy accident, and no one communication had taken place. knew it better than Lord Palmer- Lord Russell answered, that ston himself.
no formal communications with Lord Palmerston, after turning any foreign Governments had into ridicule Mr. Bright's illus- taken place. tration of the messenger who The subject of this blockade made “ferocious gesticulations," was, early in the month of March, said tho point of his argument formally brought before both was, that the Government of the Houses of Parliament, the first United States were bound, by debate originating in the House obligations of international law, of Commons, in a motion by Mr. to give up those persons who Gregory, and the second being were taken from on board the introduced in the House of Lords, Trent, and that they were not by Lord Campbell. influenced by any fear of mob Before entering upon his subdictation, which could justify us ject, Mr. Gregory observed, that in making demonstrations in in the preceding Session, he had order to overawe the mob. If been prevailed upon to abstain So, why did not the American from bringing the question of Government immediately release recognizing the Southern States the prisoners, and why did it into discussion, though he was one department at least-parti- then (as he was still) of opinion cipate in the ovations to Captain that the contest in America was Wilkes? Lord Palmerston re- a hopeless one ; that secession minded Mr. Bright, that his was a right, separation a fact, own countrymen were suscep- and reunion an impossibility. tible of insult as well as Ame- He should then, he said, have ricans; and if he had pocketed counselled the recognition of the the insult, a feeling of inera- Southern States as independent dicable irritation would have been de jure and de facto, and he was produced in this country, which sorry the discussion did not take would have been far more dan- place, since he believed the attigerous to the future prospects of tude of the House of Commons, peace, than any feelings engen- on that occasion, was not interdered by the recent conduct of preted by the United States, as Government. Mutual respect, be- prompted by a spirit of conciliatween nations as well as indivi. tion, but as the result of fear. duals, was the best security for He would not now press the quesmutual good-will.
tion of recognition, but should Shortly afterwards,
confine himself strictly to that
of the blockade-a question of harbours? In conclusion, he the most vital importance, not to moved an Address for certain England only, but to the whole papers. world. He proceeded to argue, The motion was seconded by that by the acknowledgment of Mr. Bentinck, who, deprecating the validity of the blockade, our the introduction of the element neutrality appeared to be one of slavery into the discussion, sided; we seemed to be conniv. which would, he said, be bypoing unfairly at the act of one of critical and unjust, considered the belligerents, and doing an that Mr. Gregory had made it injustice to the fair trader. He clear that the blockade was null was bound to say, that he was and void, and he urged a recog. more than satisfied with the past nition of the independence of the conduct of the Government, Southern States, in conformity under circumstances of the great with the doctrine enunciated by est difficulty; his only fear was Lord Russell, in the case of Italy, that they might go too far, and that a people were entitled to carry forbearance to a point that choose their own form of Govern. would prejudice our own inte- ment. rests, and derogate from our Mr. W. Eorster said the quescharacter in the opinion of other tion of the blockade was one of nations. He then tried the law and of fact. If it could be question by the rules of Inter- proved that it was not effective, national Law, and by the practice he admitted that it would be a of prize courts, insisting that, breach of neutrality to recognize according to the legal definition it. He, however, disputed the of “blockade," to the dicta of fact of its inefficiency, and pointed jurists of authority (including out material errors in the lists the American judge, Kent), and of vessels said to have run the to judicial decisions in reported blockade, and that the manner of cases, the blockade of the South- the escape of some vessels which ern ports by the United States did elude the blockade proved its was illegal ; that it was ineffec. strictness. Judging from the tive, and therefore illegal, was evidence relied upon by those proved by the number of vessels who denied the legality of the which had run the blockade. He blockade, he concluded that it cited as evidence to this fact, had been wonderfully effective communications from our naval from the beginning. The rupcommanders and consuls, and ture of the blockade was asked the acknowledgment of American on account of the distress in our newspapers, testifying to the ab. manufacturing districts; the desence, inefficiency, or intermis- mand, however, had not come sions of the blockade, which, he from the representatives of Lanmaintained, continued up to the cashire and Manchester, but from present time. If the blockade the members for Galway and had been effectual, would the West Norfolk. What the country Government of the United States, desired was, that the policy of he asked, have resorted to the the Government should continue barbarous and disgraceful policy to be one of strict neutrality. He of destroying the Southern believed their forbearance and gerent.
generosity hitherto had been the The Solicitor-General agreed means of preserving us from a with Mr. Lindsay, that it was the most deplorable war.
bounden duty of this country to Sir J. Fergusson, after remark- persevere in a strict and imparing that Mr. Forster's facts were tial neutrality, dealing equal jus. not borne out by the official tice to the North and South. But papers, said the whole question we should not forget the difficul. turned upon the law which regu- ties of the United States Governlated blockade, and, according to ment, and should discard every. the doctrine of the Americans thing that could disturb our themselves, the facts showed that sympathizing judgment. The the blockade had not been effec. principles on which Great Bri. tive, and it could not be respected tain should judge this question, without a violation of neutrality, were those of International Law, and assisting the stronger belli. as laid down by great jurists.
After examining the definitions Mr. M. Milnes said this subject of “blockade " given by Mr. involved nothing less than the Gregory, he enumerated the conquestion of war between Great ditions of a legal blockade, and Britain and America. The ques. the qualifications to which they tion of blockade by cruisers had were subject. The notion that, been so materially affected by the if the blockade did not extend to application of steam to naviga- the entire coast, but was intertion, that it called for investiga. mitted in some parts, it became tion. The common-sense view altogether ineffective and at an of the case led to the conclusion end, was, he said, incorrect; if that, under the circumstances in the blockade was maintained in which the Southern States were other parts of the coast, it was placed, the blockade must be con effective there. He cited cases sidered effective.
to show the extreme danger of Mr. W. Lindsay, in reply to acting upon the notion that any Mr. Forster, adduced positive intermission of a blockade had. evidence of the running of the the effect of raising it. The blockade by numerous vessels, duty of the British Government, some of them with no difficulty on the commencement of hostiliwhatever. From these instances, ties between the Northern and and from the distinct statements Southern States of America, was of our naval officers on the spot, to take care timt our vessels and he argued that the proof of the property should not be exposed to ineffectiveness of the blockade jeopardy by a paper blockade, or was complete, and he could not by any action not recognized by understand, he said, how the the principles of International Government could make it out Law; but all such pretensions that it was effective, and ought to had been disavowed by the be respected. Whatever might United States Government, which be the conduct of the Northern had professed its intention to act States, he counselled neutrality, according to the law of nations, but a strict and impartial neutra- and had always recognized the lity, dealing as justly with the principles of that law as applicSouth as with the North.
able to the blockade. He argued
from the facts stated by Mr. countenance to an inefficient Forster, and from the reports blockade. of the British Consuls, that a Lord Russell expressed his conbona fide blockade had been viction that the policy pursued maintained by that Government. by Her Majesty's Government At the same time, he did not had obtained the approval of the mean to say a word to prejudice country, and said that from the the case of any particular vessel, very first the blockade of the with reference to any particu: Southern ports had occupied the lar place not actually blockaded; attention of Ministers, who had such cases were proper for recla- had two questions to considermation, or for the consideration first, whether the proclamation of a Prize Court. Mr. Gregory of a blockade had been made had not said what he thought the by sufficient authority; and, Government ought to do. If to secondly, whether the means dictate to the United States, and, employed had been sufficient to should they resist, to establish blockade so large an extent of an armed neutrality, that, he coast. In regard to the first said, would be war, and he ear: point, the proclamation had been nestly deprecated so great a ca- issued, as laid down by Lord lamity.
Stowell, by the Sovereign auLord R. Cecil disputed in some thority, in the person of the Prepoints the doctrine of the Soli- sident of the United States; and, citor-General, that the continuity in respect to the extent of coast, of a blockade might be inter- we ourselves had formerly prorupted without affecting its le claimed a blockade of a coast gality. He contended that, ac- not much inferior in extent. He cording to International Law, then proceeded to reply to the the intermission of a blockade proofs adduced by Lord Campwas a fatal incident, and that the bell of the inefficiency of the recognition by us of an illegal blockade, recounted the efforts blockade would create an ill. by which the United States had feeling against us in the Southern sought to render it effective, and States.
considered that the want of cotAfter a few words from Ad. ton in our own markets, and the miral Walcot, the motion of Mr. deficiency of our manufactured Gregory was negatived.
goods in the Confederate States, Lord Campbell's motion in the were the best test that the blockHouse of Lords was, in form, for ade was not an empty proclamathe production of correspondence tion. As to the number and size relative to the blockade. His of the vessels which had eluded object was, he said, to give Earl the blockading squadrons, much Russell an opportunity of explain exaggeration prevailed, many of ing the policy pursued by the the vessels which had run the Government with respect to the blockade being only coasters of blockade, which he, Lord Camp- small draught running from creek bell, contended was an ineffec- to creek. On the point of what tive one; and he argued on the constituted effective blockade he impropriety of a great commer. had consulted the Crown lawyers, cial nation, like England, giving and had then written a despatch
on the subject to Lord Lyons. practical bearing of the law as it He could not give the papers existed. Assuming the declaramoved for, for the simple reason tion agreed to at the Conferences that none such existed. He also at Paris, that the flag should stated that no formal communi. cover the cargo, to be the accation had been made by the knowledged maritime law, its French to the English Govern- effect in time of war would be ment on the inefficiency of the that every ship of a belligerent blockade. In conclusion, he ob- must be laid by in docks, that served that the policy pursued neutral vessels would get enby our Government had been hanced freights, and that British dictated, not by expediency, but seamen would be draughted into by justice-a fact which would be neutral vessels. The effect in acknowledged by both sides at time of peace would be, that at some future time. It would be Canton or Calcutta, on a mere impossible to renew the old feel- rumour of war, second class ing between the North and South, neutral vessels would get better and as that was the case he hoped freights than first-class British the North would consent to a vessels. He read the evidence peaceful separation of two States, of witnesses in corroboration of both rich and extensive enough this opinion, and in favour of to be mighty Powers. If that placing ships in the same catewere accomplished he should feel gory as cargoes, as the only with gladness that we had done remedy for this state of things. nothing by our attitude to aggra- After discussing at some length vate the contest, but had done the views and acts of the United our best to act impartially be. States Government on the subtween the two parties.
ject, and on the proposal that The discussion then termi- all private property at sea nated.
should be exempt from capture, A very important and interest: he asked the House to affirm ing debate upon the law of na. the Resolution in the interests tions in its bearing upon the of the commerce of the country, maritime rights of neutral Powers and in the names of humanity in time of war, took place in the and justice. House of Commons upon the The Attorney-General insisted 11th of March, upon a motion that the law, so far from being of Mr. Horsfall, one of the mem- ill-defined and unsatisfactory, was bers for Liverpool, who pro- quite clear and well understood, posed the following Resolution: observing that Mr. Horsfall had, -" That the present state of with one exception, correctly international maritime law, as stated and clearly defined it. affecting the rights of belligerents The change of the law proposed and neutrals, is ill-defined and by Mr. Horsfall would go very unsatisfactory, and calls for the much beyond any relaxation of early attention of Her Majesty's the Maritime Code suggested by Government." He should not writers on international law, and enter, he said, into the past his was one which must be made not tory of our international law ; his by any single country, but by the object was to call attention to the general assent of the maritime