Lapas attēli
PDF
ePub

perty of private individuals on board for the benefit of the captor. But how would the suppression of privateering without going further operate upon the United States ? Suppose, for example, we should again, unfortunately, be engaged in a war with Great Britain, which I earnestly hope might never be the case, to what a situation must we be reduced if we should consent to abolish privateering ?

.. The only means which we would possess to counterbalance in some degree their (Great Britain's) far greater numerical strength, would be to convert our merchant vessels, cast out of employment by the war, into privateers, and endeavour by their assistance to inflict as much injury on British as they would be able to inflict on American commerce.' (Digest, vol. iii. p. 484.)

Very much to the same effect was President Pierce's message in the same year, and it cannot be doubted that the policy of the American statesmen who were in power in 1854 has obtained the approval of the American people and of American jurists. But it is also certain that the abolition of privateering is a recognised step towards the abolition of the right of a belligerent to capture private property at sea. The United States would have been in a better position to obtain a general adhesion to their larger principle had they consented to agree to the abolition of privateering. That in thus urging the acceptance of the broad principle they were pressing for a just and reasonable rule of international conduct is certain. The seizure of private property on the high seas during the progress of a war may enrich the captors of one nation and may ruin the merchants of another, but scores of privateers would make no difference now in the result of a war, just as numerous captures of merchant ships by properly commissioned ships of war would be equally without effect on the issue of the struggle between two belligerents. It should be the aim of civilised nations, while making on the one hand the most effective preparations for effectual warfare, to endeavour on the other to minimise as much as possible the disasters of war to private citizens. A step in this direction would be to exempt private property at sea from capture.

Yet it is clear that the abolition of privateering may be after all but a very nominal improvement. For fast cruisers taken from the merchant service, manned by regular or volunteer seamen, and properly commissioned, are to all intents and purposes privateers in a respectable form, and under official control. And the tendency of the time is to make these auxiliary vessels an important factor in naval warfare. What Great Britain has therefore abolished in principle, she will in the next war that takes place be seen

[ocr errors]

in fact adhering to. The question of the legality—from the

point of view of international law-of volunteer men-of-war has already received elucidation. In the Franco-German war of 1870

the King of Prussia invited all German seamen and shipowners to place themselves, and their forces and ships suitable thereto, at the service of the fatherland. The officers and crews were to be enrolled by the owners of the ships, and were to enter into the federal navy for the continuance of the war, and to wear its uniform and badge of rank, to acknowledge its competence, and to take an oath to the articles of war. The ships were to sail under the federal flag, and to be armed and fitted out for the service allotted to them by the federal royal navy. . . . The French Government, regarding the institution by Prussia of a volunteer naval force as the revival of privateering in a disguised form, lost no time in calling the attention of the British Government to the Royal Prussian decree as instituting an auxiliary marine contrary to Prussia's engagements under the Declaration of 1856.' After consulting the law officers of the Crown, Earl Granville replied that the British Government could not object to the decree of the German Government as infringing the Declaration of Paris.'* It is clear, however, that writers on international law are not agreed upon this point, and it is an open question among them whether such an arrangement as that mentioned is not a breach of the Declaration of 1856. From this point of view, therefore, it is clear that the difference between the principles of the European powers and the United States would in practice lead to no very different results. Hence it becomes obvious that the only lasting and satisfactory settlement of the question can be obtained by the adoption of the view of the United States, viz. 'to exempt private property ' on the ocean from seizure by public armed cruisers as well as • by privateers. The object of the powers who agreed to the Declaration of Paris will not in fact be obtained without a settlement of the question on a broader basis than that contained in this instrument. It is certain that time will eventually bring about the general acceptance of the American principle, viz. to exempt private property from capture at sea; and until such a conclusion is arrived at, there is but little to be said against a nation adhering to privateering in name as well as in reality.

We have now dealt-comparatively cursorily–with a few only of the points touched on in these volumes : within their

[ocr errors]

* Digest, vol. iii. p. 478, quoting Sir T. Twiss in Belligerent Rights.'

compass there are many other subjects worthy of discussion did space permit. Some are very special, such as the relations of the United States with the North American Indians; others are connected with points of more universal importance. Such is the chapter on diplomatic agents. In it are contained the code of conduct of the United States on this point, and also several episodes of historical interest. Among the latter may be noted the position taken up by the United States in 1870 in regard to the right of their Minister in Paris to transmit his messages unopened through the besiegers' lines. The remonstrances of the United States' Government against any interference with the free passage of messages between the representative of a neutral state in a besieged city and his Government were spirited and just. This right of uninterrupted correspondence between a neutral power and its representative could not be infringed without detriment to the interests of every nation, and in thus asserting it the United States added another to the services which their independent attitude has done to the cause of civilisation. Again, under this head we meet with the attempt of Mr. Parnell and Mr. O'Connor Power in 1876 to present an address to the President containing such reflections on the conduct of the British Government that the Secretary of State refused to permit its presentation. The supporters of Mr. Gladstone's Home Rule policy are never tired of telling the country that they would have in a practically independent Ireland a friendly and not a hostile neighbour. In itself this episode is of no great importance, but it indicates the unpatriotic temper of Mr. Parnell's party in regard to the foreign relations of Great Britain, and serves to show that that party if in power at Dublin would glory in embroiling the Government of this country with a friendly nation.

We should have been glad to avail ourselves on this occasion of the materials collected by Dr. Wharton for the discussion of the important question of the fisheries, which is still pending between the Cabinets of Washington and London, but this subject would require an article to itself, and we hope to revert to it on a future occasion when the negotiations are more advanced. Meanwhile we can only record our opinion that fishery rights in the sea are not to be determined by strict legal provisions, or by any theory of natural jurisdiction, but by a reasonable compromise formulated in diplomatic conventions. This is precisely one of those questions on which rigorous exclusive pretensions and retaliatory measures are peculiarly mischievous and inopportune.

But apart from the light which this valuable mass of material throws upon particular transactions, it shows us the great part which the United States have played and are yet destined to play in the formation of modern international law, and the exceptional position which they will hold in the history of this subject. The international law of the United States is characterised by a marked individuality and independence of thought. The statesmen of the Republic have not felt themselves bound by theories however venerable, or been troubled by the conflicting views of eminent jurists. They have rested their contentions on clear principles which they have evolved for themselves, and they have enunciated their views without obscurity and with perfect straightforwardness. The faculty of clear and striking exposition which characterises the first of the American writers on legal subjects has equally marked the despatches of successive Secretaries of State. And when occasion has required they have been keen to seize practical advantages, and have never allowed their grasp of principles to stand in the way of national interests. Nor have they been slow to urge their contentions with ingenuity, sometimes even with enthusiasm, and always with dignity, power, and resolution. Since this has been done in the past, and since the influence of the United States on international law has hitherto been so distinctly felt, we may expect that in the future, as their strength increases, American opinion will continue to produce marked effects upon the rules of international conduct.

ART. VII.-L'Europe et la Révolution Française. I. Les

Mours Politiques et les Traditions. II. La Chute de la

Royauté. Par ALBERT SOREL. Paris : 1885, 1887. M. SOREL's work is as original as it is interesting and instructive. Instead of making one

more of the many descriptions which we already possess of the French Revolution itself, it is devoted to a consideration of the environment of that Revolution and of the actions and reactions between France and the other nations of Europe which accompanied it. M. Sorel endeavours, with much success, to set before us how it was that a movement, more or less generally diffused over Europe, culminated in France, and why the waves of that widespread current of opinion, which rose to their highest level in Paris, subsequently produced such different results in different countries. Whereas before 1789 the ruling spirit of surrounding nations was more or less in harmony with that of France, the very success of the French inovement evoked on all sides an antagonism which varied in its character according to the previous history and national traditions of the several European States. Thus it came about that a revolution, which was essentially cosmopolitan, ended by changing the relatively cosmopolitan spirit of the Europe of the eighteenth century into the intense nationalism of the nineteenth.

But however cosmopolitan were the ideas and principles professed by the leaders of thought at the dawn of the Revolution, it would be a great mistake to suppose that the Europe of the ancien régime was composed of States organised on common principles and ruled by monarchs animated by a sense of their common rights and mutual obligations. 'Christendom’had no longer anything more than a nominal existence, and the political ideas of the time of Louis IX. had long died out. Feudal institutions, which were at one time generally diffused over Europe west of Muscovy (with the exception of Ireland), had, towards the end of the eighteenth century, either fallen, or were undermined and ready to fall, ruined by the Renaissance,' by the revival of the Roman civil law, and by the philosophic spirit. One idea was, however, common to every continental power—the idea of the State.' The interests of the State' were deemed supreme and absolute, and its rights were based upon "prescription.' No

[ocr errors]
« iepriekšējāTurpināt »