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the throne, and the "friendly communication," which it was complacently suggested would set the little difficulty right, except that its effect was thwarted by Mr. Gladstone's out-spoken denunciation, which in truth left open no chance for a conciliatory result.
Throughout the long, tedious, and depressing correspondence which has since taken place, in the hope of arriving at terms of accommodation before the meeting of the Tribunal of Arbitration at Geneva, on the 15th June, it is but too apparent, that whilst the United States Government have been firm in insisting upon the competency of the Tribunal of Arbitration to decide as to the admissibility, or the reverse, of the principle upon which the Indirect Claims are based, they do not entertain much expectation of that question being decided in the affirmative, and are quite prepared, rather than the treaty should fail, to abandon any claims which might accrue, in case such principle should be affirmed. They insist, any way, that they require to have the principle decided, not so much for its bearings upon what is past, as upon what may occur in future, should they happen to be neutrals, when Great Britain is engaged in a war. With these professed views, they invited a proposal from the British Government, which the President would undertake to submit for the opinion of the Senate—not a very cordial or conciliating manner of meeting the matter, it is true, nor in accordance with the usual course of negociations between friendly States, but, still, perhaps, the best we could expect, and the only one which, considering the responsibility attached to his position, the President thought it prudent to assent to. The British Government, however, having consented to the modus operandi prescribed to them, the only question remaining was as to the terms of the proposition to be submitted by them; and herein they have been all through hopelessly at variance with the other side. They are not content to avoid the enormous damages possible under the indirect claims, they want to negative the very principle upon which these claims are based; or, at least, to have the claims withdrawn bodily from the case, by an instruction, jointly presented to the Arbitration Tribunal to that effect. This proposition, which Earl Granville has endeavoured to render palatable, in all sorts of shapes and forms, has been persistently resisted ; and over and over again in nearly the same words.
“All the propositions made by the British Government,” says Mr. Fish, in one of his recent telegrams, “involve, covertly, probably without design, what this Government cannot agree tonamely, the withdrawal from the province of the Tribunal of what we believe to be entirely within their province;" adding, “the President cannot, , and will not, withdraw any part of what has been submitted, within his construction of the intent and spirit of the Treaty.” And General Schenck, in
, one of his telegrams to Washington, suggests, as one of the reasons for the pertinacious conduct of our Government in this matter, "an unwillingness on the part of Mr. Gladstone, to seem to retract the extreme position he took at the beginning, as to the interpretation of the Treaty.” It
It would be a
national disaster, and a blot on the page of history, if a few hasty and ill-considered expressions, falling from an individual in the position of Minister of State, should be allowed to imperil the friendly relations between two powerful and leading States : but it would seem not unlikely to prove the case.
At length, on the 10th May, Lord Granville took occasion to flatter himself that he had got clear of the difficulty, and achieved a master stroke of policy, in a form of declaration, which he forwarded through Sir Edward Thornton, for submission to the President at Washington. This document, which is entitled a “Supplemental Article," and is intended to be embodied as a "fourth Rule” established by the Treaty, and which is rather confusedly worded, and strangely inverted in construction, may be summarized as follows:-After reciting the objections of Her Majesty's Government to the indirect claims, on the ground, firstly, “ that they were not included in the Treaty of Washington,” and secondly, that they “should not be admitted in principle as growing out, etc.,” of the acts of the escaped cruisers, and that the said government “has also declared that the principles involved in the second of the contentions hereinbefore set forth will guide their conduct in future ;” and that “the President of the United States, while adhering to his contention that the said claims were included in the Treaty, adopts for the future the principle contained in the second of the said contentions” as operative between the two countries—it is declared that “in consideration thereof, the President of the
United States, by and with the advice of the Senate thereof, consents that he will make no claim on the part of the United States in respect of indirect losses as aforesaid before the Tribunal of Arbitration at Geneva.”
Carefully worded as this document obviously has been, there are two points which cannot fail to be remarked in it, as tending to uncertainty of action. In the first place, though the President is made to consent that “he will make no claim in respect of indirect damages aforesaid,” there is no mention of claims already made, nor even of “the Case" in which they are made,-and no withdrawal of the claims so made therein. Secondly, there is no stipulation to bring the agreement to the knowledge of the Arbitration Tribunal, which will thus remain “seized" of the claims as stated in that case, with the necessity of coming to a decision upon them; which is the very thing the British Government wishes to avoid. Indeed it appears that this is the deliberate intention of the United States. Government; what they propose to consent to, under the operation of this new Article, being to abstain from claiming any pecuniary damages which might possibly be awarded to them for indirect losses, but not to obviate the making of the award.
But this Supplementary Article is not yet adopted. The Senate, to whom the President referred it for their “advice beforehand," have voted in approval of his entering into negociations upon the basis of it, after making some “verbal alterations” in the article itself, with a view of rendering it more palatable to the American people. What those verbal alterations amounted to, was for a long time kept secret, but it was generally believed that they were objected to by the British Government, as tending not to withdraw the indirect claims with sufficient distinctness; and also as introducing some general principle of international obligations which might be highly prejudicial to this country on any future occasion of belligerency. In this awkward predicament negociations were renewed with greater activity than ever, by means of the Atlantic Cable; the
night bells” of the Foreign Office, and at the American Embassy were in constant agitation; and the outer world looked on in mute suspense, whilst Diplomacy was straining every resource “ to save the Treaty."*
Meantime this question began to arise in the minds of practical men,—“Was the Treaty worth saving, at the expense of all this fuss and fret, and humiliation ?” To judge of this requires a consideration of its other important provisions, which have hitherto been too much overlooked.
BRITISH CLAIMS—THE FENIAN RAIDS, ETC.
LORD Granville, in his Instructions to the British Commissioners, declared in emphatic language that “throughout the negociations on the 'Alabama, Shenandoah,' etc., claims, Her Majesty's Govern
* We shall note the progress and result of these negociations in our concluding observations, at the end of the work.