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It will thus be seen that both in practice and in principle, international good faith justifies and even requires from neutrals the honourable and equitable discharge of their international obligations in such cases, in compliance not merely with the form but with the spirit of such obligations.
This brings us to the consideration of the argument, which, apart from all technical objections founded upon the language and construction of the Act of Parliament, is chiefly relied on for the defence of those charged with a breach of neutrality in building and sending forth ships such as the 'Alabama' and 'Alexandra;' viz., that ships, per se, are articles of commerce with which neutrals may lawfully supply belligerents; and that these ships, leaving a neutral port unarmed, and with no intention of committing hostilities immediately, or until after being armed either on the high seas or at some other neutral port, are only to be viewed at most as contraband of war, or as designed to break blockade; in which point of view, although the belligerent may exercise against them his right of capture, their own Government is not called upon to interfere.
building of the ships maintain a complete silence as to their real destination or ultimate purpose or employment; they do not apply for a licence from the Crown, which would be a complete protection to them; they do not seriously pretend to deny that the ships are built for the Confederate Government government engaged in a war by sea and land, but which has no commercial marine, no port which is not blockaded; which has only vessels of war at sea, procured at and sailing from neutral ports exclusively, and employed solely in capturing and destroying the merchant vessels of its enemy.
Under such circumstances the doctrine of these ships being merely articles of commerce or contraband of war, or ordinary blockade-runners' is untenable; it is a fiction or device too transparent to be made available consistently with good faith, inter gentes, by one nation in answer to the remonstrances of another.
The ships, be it remembered, are not to be delivered at any port of the nation for whose service they are built; they are, ex concessis, to proceed to sea beyond British jurisdiction for some alleged neutral destination; although without cargo, or any clearly explained object. Nevertheless it is seriously argued that the British Government is not to interfere; but to fold its hands and close its eyes, and to content itself with expressing its regret if it should turn out that the vessels, though armed and equipped either on the high seas or in the most convenient neutral port, should nevertheless in effect proceed from a British port to commit hostilities against a nation with which England is anxious to maintain peaceful and friendly relations; provided only that they receive their armament either on the high seas or elsewhere out of British territory. Let us ask ourselves as Englishmen what we should say and what we should do, if the case of the Federal Government was our own; and the answer cannot be doubtful.
If (in sea phrase) we look further
The parties concerned in the ahead,' what consequences do we
VOL. LXIX. NO. CCCCIX.
often involve the necessity of relaxing such limitations, and of intrusting the government with a discretionary and to some extent even an arbitrary authority over its own subjects. Thus, if the object in view cannot be attained without a special law, such a law (as we have seen in our own case and in that of the United States) must be framed; and if in the continual changes and chances of international relations, with all their complications and emergencies, the existing legal machinery of the nation is insufficient for its work, it must be altered and adapted according to circumstances.
It is true that any such measures may not unreasonably be exposed to a jealous political criticism, and that they should only be sparingly resorted to; whilst mere technical or formal defects may be obviated without scruple, the introduction of novel principles of legislation or of procedure is open to more serious objection; but what is above all essential is the timely and effectual protection from danger of the peace and welfare of the kingdom.”*
In the case under consideration, we feel that great national as well as international interests are at stake; the peace and welfare of the nation, as well as its dignity and character, will, in our opinion, be inevitably exposed to risk, if, whether by reason of any technical defects of the existing law, from any mistaken national sensitiveness as to what is called 'altering the law under foreign dictation,' or from any apprehension of temporary political difficulties, there should be any hesitation in resolutely carrying out the sound policy of precaution which our Government has so wisely initiated.
Extreme pressure of circumstances has driven the Confederates to this attempt to make use of our ports in
a manner which we cannot permit consistently with the law and usage of nations, with our duty as neutrals, with our modern maritime policy, or with our national character and position. For the first time in modern history we are called on to set an example to all nations of the unflinching discharge of our duty as neutrals; to carry out in that character in 1863 the policy which we proclaimed as belligerents in 1854, of 'lessening as much as possible the evils of war, and restricting its operations to the regularly-organized forces of the country,' and to prevent the establishment of a system, hitherto unknown, which would in any future war greatly aggravate and extend those evils; and would constitute a most injurious precedent as against ourselves in common with all others resorting to the 'highway of nations.'
The British Government-by its expressed intention of seizing the 'Alabama' (only defeated by accident), by its actual seizure of the 'Alexandra,' and the 'steam rams,' and by its legal proceedings against the former ship-has not only irreVocably admitted the obligation of discharging its international duty in the cases which have arisen and may be expected to recur, but it has, by necessary implication, undertaken in the face of the world to do this effectually, and not to be deterred in the accomplishment of its object by any obstacles merely of form or of detail; it has proclaimed and entered upon a wise and vigorous course of conduct, and may rely on that support which we are persuaded will not be wanting, in whatever shape it may be required, on the part of the nation which has already so clearly manifested its determination to remain rigorously neutral in this unhappy contest.
* Under the Foreign Enlistment Act, both the intention and the act of its violation must be established to the satisfaction of a jury, as in any ordinary criminal case; but there would be nothing unconstitutional in extending to ships the power already vested in the Crown by the statute 17 & 18 Vict., c. 107 (The Customs Consolidation Act), of prohibiting the exportation of arms, ammunition, gunpowder, military and naval stores, and any articles which Her Majesty shall judge capable of being converted into, or made useful in, increasing the quantity of military and naval stores, provisions, or any sort of victual which may be used for food of man,' under pain of forfeiture. The licence of the Crown (as under the Foreign Enlistment Act) would, as a matter of course, be granted under all circumstances free from objection or suspicion.
Both men remembered her a queen; and if fallen now, she was still, in their thoughts at least, invested with something of her old prestige. Both of them had known her haughty, dazzling, unattainable; and in their company Florence felt again once more her former self. Erle she knew that it was in vain to try to like, and she therefore resolved upon detesting him. But Erle's companion, though not a conquest worthy of her martial fame, had something about him that pleased, interested, and almost touched her. As the handsomest man in the house, he seemed, by the traditions of conquest, her lawful prey. A few years' experience of barracks and drawing-rooms had left him still as frank, simple, and impressible as ever. He still made love, Florence easily perceived, with the same ingenuous but versatile sincerity as characterized his earliest flirtations. Towards herself he tempered the deference of admiration with the privileged familiarity of a friend. How pleasant the union seemed! how honest his kindness -how delicate his good breedinghow agreeable the conversation of a man who, if he could not amuse, knew at any rate the way to flatter! Florence, as she watched him that night hovering about the piano, and beating time approvingly to Nelly's tremulous performance, resolved that, if perhaps barely worth winning, he was nevertheless too good to throw away, and that his subjugation should be forthwith taken in hand. Was she in love with him?-No; but she began to feel extremely anxious that he should be in love with her.
The days slipped pleasantly away. Erle, as a good host should, supplied his guests with cogent arguments against a too hurried departure, and effectually convinced the Squire that in a dozen matters all the best interests of the Sharingham community depended on his presence and advice. Mr. Evelyn, who knew not what it was to be suspicious, fell at once into the snare, and set about examining cottages, criticising fat bullocks, and laying down imaginary lines of
drainage, with all the alacrity due to so congenial an employment. Erle accepted his instructor's counsels with a submissiveness that was perfectly unfeigned, and cheered himself through long agricultural mornings with the prospect of a ride with Margaret in the afternoon, or of some fortunate moment in the evening's festivities which would enable him without suspicion to indulge in the hardly-earned luxury of a téte-à-tête. On the villagegreen they met the reactionary parson; and the Squire had a real struggle with himself to tame his sarcastic mood into the politeness which a churchman had a right to expect.
How is that excellent parishioner of yours,' he inquired, who lives on evil smells and black ditches, and as Erle tells me, has quite discouraged him as a sanitary reformer? Dead! Well, I am really glad to hear it. Do you hear, Erle, the old woman is dead; I knew it must kill her. No constitution can withstand an open ditch. Now I hope you are both convinced.'
The parson thought his visitor beyond the reach of argument, and no amount of scepticism would have resisted Erle's impatience to get home to lunch; so that Mr. Evelyn was left happy in the belief that his morning had not been thrown away, and that two converts at least had been added to the list of believers in fresh air, soap, water, and tubs.
After luncheon the real business of the day began, and one pleasant excursion after another gave room for increased familiarity, and opportunities, to those who chose, of intercourse more spirit-stirring and confidential than was easily attainable in the crowd at home. Erle had skill enough to break up the party into groups likely to keep each other mutually well amused; and Anstruther discovered that Nelly's pony, usually quiet enough, evinced a fractious mood with which he alone of all the riders was competent to deal. Nelly, who was afraid of accidents, and not at all afraid of Captain Anstruther, was well enough content that he should