§ MR. GREGORY
Sir, before going into Committee of Supply I wish to call the 1159 attention of the House to a subject which I conceive to be one of the most important that can be brought under its notice. Per haps, Sir, I owe some explanation to the House for having chosen a Supply night for the discussion of this question; but I trust the House will allow that I have not been infringing upon a Government night unnecessarily, because the public business has been proceeded with so rapidly that I think they may well spare a night for the discussion of so important a question. Then I think it was absolutely necessary not to postpone the consideration of this question any longer—a question involving matters of international law, and a question likewise affecting the welfare of the working classes of this country. I am the more induced to select this evening for the discussion of this question, because my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool (Mr. Horsfall) has given notice of his intention, on Tuesday next, to call the attention of the House to questions of international law; and I thought it was most essential that this special question of the blockade of the ports of the Confederate States should not be mixed up with other questions of international law without having' formed, first of all, the subject of a separate discussion. When, in the month of May last, the mails brought to this country the reply of Mr. Seward, the American Secretary of State, to Governor Hicks, of Maryland, I confess that no one in this House re-echoed more heartily than myself the expression which the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary made use of when he said, "Thank God, we have hitherto refrained from all interference in these American dissensions." Governor Hicks, of Maryland, being a man of prudence and humanity, and being anxious to spare his State the horrors of civil war, proposed to Mr. Seward the mediation of England. Mr. Seward replied that, under no circumstances, would he submit their internal affairs to the arbitrament of any foreign Power, and least of all to the arbitrament of a European monarchy. Now, Sir, I think, had we been in the position of the United States, with dismemberment threatening every portion of her dominions, with a bloody civil war impending, we might have replied that we would not submit our internal dissensions to any foreign Power; but I hardly think we would have thrown in the gratuitous affront—that least of all would we submit our internal affairs to the arbitrament of an American republic. See- 1160 ing, then, that these were the sentiments which animated those to whom the destinies of the United States are confided, I assure the House I deprecate interference now as I deprecated interference then, quite as fully as the noble Lord. But it may be in the recollection of the House that, early in the last Session of Parliament, I gave notice of my intention to bring before Parliament the expediency of recognising the Southern American Confederation. I can assure the House I did so without the slightest intention of advocating interference. I did so in the hope that the united action of France and England—for I was in hopes that united action might possibly be procured—would have given great moral weight to the many humane, benevolent, and far-sighted men in the Northern States, who were anxious at that time for a peaceable separation; and that it would have induced the Ministers of the United States to pause ere they plunged their countrymen and themselves into the vortex of a ruinous, a fatricidal, and allow me to add, in spite of the news recently arrived, what I firmly believe to be a hopeless contest. When the night for the discussion of that Motion came on, my hon. and gallant Friend opposite appealed to me not to proceed with it; and that appeal was so evidently in accordance with the general wish of the House that I did not hesitate to acquiesce. My hon. Friend, no doubt, thought that in the course of the debate expressions calculated to promote irritation might have been made use of likely to endanger peace between England and America. Now I can assure my hon. Friend that, so far as I was concerned, I should have made use no irritating expression. I should have affirmed then, as undeterred by what has occurred since, I affirm now, that secession was a right, that separation is a fact, and that reconstruction is an impossibility. I should have additionally stated that all my heart and sympathies were with one portion of the American people—not that portion that is fighting for empire, but with that portion which is struggling for independence. If I rejoiced to acknowledge these sentiments on the occasion of Bull's Run, I am not going to Blink from them now, on the occasion of Donelson. If that discussion had been permitted to have gone on, I should have endeavoured to show the House what has since been better shown by Mr. Spence, in his admirable book on the causes of secession, and the right which the Southern 1161 States claim to separate. I should have endeavoured to show that, in recognising a Government which I consider to be a Government of stability de jure and de facto, we should have been acting in accordance with our usual practice; and, perhaps, I should have been tempted to quote a celebrated despatch of the noble Secretary for Foreign Affairs upon the revolution in Italy, as bearing upon this question. I should have endeavoured to show—not paradoxically, but I think conclusively—to those who hate slavery and the slave trade in their heart that separation of the United States was the circumstance of all others most likely to lead to the realization of their hopes, and that the reconstruction of the Union was the circumstance of all others most likely to lead to the strengthening of the one and spread of the other. I should also have referred to the shortsighted and selfish commercial policy that now prevails, and which is openly acknowledged throughout the Northern States, and which, if it be not rendered hopeless and nugatory by the independence of the South, will not merely shut out from 30,000,000 of customers the manufacturers of Europe, but will, rely upon it, ere long breed a crop of troubles most dangerous to the peace of this country I do not quarrel in the slightest degree with the House of Commons for the feeling that it expressed on that occasion. It was a proof, at all events, to the world at large of conciliation and goodwill. But I am sorry the discussion did not take place, because it would have come from an independent Member whose authority was nothing but a mere statement of his own opinions, and because I conceive that a free nation, accustomed to free comments on the actions of other nations, had no right to consider itself aggrieved by a free comment on an event of such enormous magnitude to the world as this. And not only that, but because I believe the attitude of the House of Commons on that occasion was not interpreted by the United States as a proof of conciliation and friendship, but that it was considered to be the result of fear, and that it encouraged that opinion of which we have had so many practical proofs, that whereas it may he dangerous to trifle with France, any out rage and insult may be given to England with impunity. Now, I am not going to press the subject of recognition, or say any more upon it at present, because, in my opinion, the great and pressing reason that 1162 induced me to bring it forward last year has passed away—namely, the hope that the tide of battle might be stayed. I shall confine myself throughout the remainder of the remarks that I am about to make strictly and closely to the question of the blockade. I shall not travel one inch beyond that question, lest I might provoke other hon. Members to wander into discussions which are foreign to the Notice which I have placed on the paper. I think I may fairly say that this question, of the blockade of the Southern ports of America is a question of the most vital importance, not merely to England, but to the whole world. It is a question of importance to England as regards the national character for honour, good faith, and justice, and as regards the daily bread of multitudes of our working men. To the world at large it is a question of the most vast importance with regard to the interpretation of a great question of international law; it is a matter of importance in every part of the globe where the culture of cotton is likely to be brought about, and it is a matter of great importance as regards the manufacture of those articles which are likely to reach the continent of America, subject to the announcement that the country will receive from her Majesty's Government this evening I must justify myself when I say that this is a matter in which the national character for good faith and justice is concerned I am quite sure that most hon. Members of this House have read the remarks that have been made on the subject of this blockade by a very eminent French jurist, M. d'Haute-feuille. Those remarks, coming from such a person as M. d'Hautefeuille, have been extensively published. M. d'Hautefeuille speaks in this manner of this blockade—Among the fictitious blockades invented by belligerents, it will be sufficient to allude to the blockade by cruisers, to which the Northern States have resorted, and still resort, in their quarrel with the Confederate States. It consists in sending one or more vessels to cruise at a distance off a coast, the blockade of which has been previously proclaimed; and all neutral vessels sailing towards or from that coast are seized and confiscated as having run or attempted to run the blockade. By this system a despatch-boat, with a couple of guns, can maintain a blockade of a seaboard of 100 or 200 leagues in extent,That is M. d'Hantefenille's opinion of the present blockade. But he does a great deal more than merely give his opinion of the blockade. He does not hesitate to accuse England of conniving at its ineffi- 1163 ciency and illegality; and that not from any doubt upon our mind as to its inefficiency and illegality—not from any reasons of conciliation or friendship towards the United States—but that we may make that illegal and fictitious blockade the basis of our own future arrogant pretensions when England herself, becoming belligerent may want for herself some evasion of international law. These are the words which M. d'Hautefeuille applies to us—How does it happen that England, to-day a neutral Power, consents to acknowledge a blockade of this description? Is it not that this nation, which has always and for so many centuries contrived to obtain such advantages for itself by paper blockades, which has so often and so odiously abused these means, contrary to all laws human and divine, to ruin neutrals, feels by no means sorry to preserve this immense resource for the moment, which she always foresees, when she shall be belligerent? The manœuvre is a skilful one. It consists in permitting at present the United States to interpret in their sense all existing treaties, to accept that interpretation, and even to apply it to the Declaration of April 16, 1856, in order that she may lay claim to be perfectly justified in following the same jurisprudence when Great Britain shall herself be involved in hostilities.This is what he says of our attitude; and on the strength of that assumption he calls out loudly at once for armed neutrality against England. If this statement did not come from such an authority, I would not trouble the House with it; but coming from a man of M. d'Hautefeuille's position, such an insinuation is deserving both of comment and refutation. I will give the comment; the refutation I will leave to the Treasury Bench. Now, as regards our character for justice. On the 23rd of May last, the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary announced to the House that belligerent rights were to be conceded to the Southern States; and this was followed by the announcement of perfect impartiality and neutrality. The Southern States shortly afterwards complained of the Proclamation that privateers should not take prizes into the ports either of England or of France. They naturally thought that the commercial marine of the United States was its vulnerable point, and they were naturally sorry that this one means of making war intolerable to the Northern States was taken from them. They naturally concluded that the United States having refused in 1856, when they were invited to join in the Declaration of Paris, the European Powers would not have been sorry to have given those States 1164 a lesson for their selfishness. But the Southern States acted with that moderation and good temper which I think has distinguished them throughout; they acquiesced with a good grace in the course pursued by the Governments of France and England. They did not threaten England with the vengeance of 100,000,000 of men, who, providentially, are not at their call. But they said they would accept the three last Articles of the Declaration of Paris, laying, at the same time, great stress upon the fourth, namely, that blockades, to be considered binding, should be strictly effective. Mr. Bunch, our Consul at Charleston, writing to his Government, said—The fact is, the President and the Government of the Confederate States are a good deal annoyed at the refusal of France and England, and other nations, to allow prizes to be condemned in their ports, which they consider some departure from a strict neutrality, and which they still hope may be reconsidered. They hope that France and England will induce other nations to insist on a rigorous fulfilment by the United States of the 4th Article of the Treaty of Paris.I say our justice and our impartiality is involved in this case. If this blockade to be binding is to be effective, where is our impartiality in conniving at the employment of a weapon of warfare by one belligerent which it is not in the power of the other belligerent to employ? It is precisely the same thing to my mind as if you were to issue a proclamation of perfect neutrality, and were to permit one of the belligerents to obtain stores and ammunition in your ports whilst you effectually kept the other out. If you allow your vessels to be illegally captured (and I am proceeding upon an assumption), it is most unquestionable that you are not acting with strict justice, and you are throwing your power into the scale of one of the belligerents. I am going upon assumptions which I intend hereafter to establish by facts. If my facts are not true, my arguments are not valid; but if my facts are true—and I have a right to go on this assumption—you are doing injustice, not only to the Southern States, but also to the fair traders of this country, by making access to the Southern States a mere smuggling and gambling speculation. Again, if this blockade is legally fictitious, you are acting unjustly by your own operatives by depriving them of the raw material of the manufacture by which they exist. Hitherto they have borne their privations with the most exemplary 1165 patience. But is it not natural they should inquire whether these privations are brought upon them justly or not? This is essentially a question for the working man. It is all very well to say that at this moment the world is flooded with the over-production of past years; but I am given to understand there are orders coining in, and there would be a demand from many parts of the world if the ports of the Southern States were open to our commerce. And not only that, but presuming that these ports were open, there are 8,000,000 Southerners anxious and ready to take our manufactures, which would not be kept out by a Morill tariff or by differential duties upon our ships. Can you wonder that the people of Lancashire and Yorkshire are turning their eyes in that direction? Can you wonder they are anxious that these ports should be opened, when they believe that if they were open, the closed gates of the mill would he thrown wide open, and gladness and plenty and cheer would revisit many a cold and desolate hearth? Can it be that the patient endurance of distress has induced the Government to acquiesce in an illegality, if it be such? I wish distinctly to say, that in any remarks I have made, or am about to make, I have not the slightest intention to attack Her Majesty's Government. I consider they have had a difficult card to play, and they have played it to the satisfaction of the country. Whilst they have vindicated its honour, they have done so in a spirit of conciliation and forbearance. I have read with the greatest attention all the papers which bear upon this American question, and I am bound to say, I am more than satisfied with their conduct under circumstances of the greatest difficulty. All that I am afraid of is, that we may go too far, and that the same spirit of conciliation and forbearance which has characterized all our dealings with the United States, may induce us to acquiesce in illegalities and in infractions of the law most prejudicial to our own interests, and most damaging to the name of England in the eyes of foreign Powers.
Sir, I now proceed to allude briefly to the present state of international law upon the subject of blockade. The Dutch, I believe, were the first to give great and undue latitude to the system of blockades. The English were not slow in following their example. I will pass on to the year 1780, which is the date of the declaration on the part of Russia to belligerent Powers, 1166 Count Panin, the Minister of the Empress Catherine, whose opinions and views were then hostile to England, on the occasion of two Russian ships being seized when conveying corn to Gibraltar, issued this Declaration. It affirms three principles—1. Free ships make free goods; 2. Contraband of war must be defined by treaty; 3. Blockade, to be acknowledged, must be stringent and effectual. This Declaration was the basis of the armed neutrality in which the Baltic Powers joined, and which was subsequently willingly acceded to by France, Spain, and other Powers. In the Convention between England and Russia, of June 17, 1801, a blockaded port is declared to be one at which there is, "by the disposition of the Power which attacks it with ships stationary, or sufficiently near, an evident danger in entering." Throughout the present century every one who has studied the progress of international law, will have perceived an evident desire to arrive at some more strict definition. The United States have always been most urgent and anxious on this subject. In a treaty between the United States and Chili, in 1832, and in the Peru-Bolivian Convention of 1838, the definition given of a blockaded port is "one actually attacked by a belligerent force capable of preventing the entry of any vessel." I will also call attention to the words, "attacked port," in the Russian Convention, and in these treaties between the North American and South American Republics. It is held by a great number of persons that a blockade by itself, as a simple instrument of warfare, is void; that a blockade to be really good must be ancillary to other operations for the reduction of the port, and that it would in fact be levying war against neutrals were we to employ a blockade as the only and sole method of reducing an island with which we are at war. I quote this not to insist upon it at all, but because I wish to show that on the Continent there are opinions held that are far different from ours, and that we may rely on it that no laxity on our part, no endeavouring to evade the Declarations of Paris, will ever avail on any future occasion when we shall be belligerents, and may wish to fall back upon this American precedent of 1861–2. In stating the nature of international law on the subject of blockade, he would quote a very short extract from one of the greatest American authorities, universally recognised in this country, Judge Kent, who stated— 1167The squadron allotted for the purpose of the execution of the blockade must be competent to cut off all communication with the interdicted place or port. The failure of either of the points requisite to establish the existence of a legal blockade amounts to an entire defeasance of the measure.Judge Kent proceeded to say—The Government of the United States has uniformly insisted that the blockade should be effective by the presence of a competent force stationed and present at or near the entrance of the port, and they have protested with great energy against the application of the right of seizure and confiscation in case of ineffectual and inefficient blockades.Then comes tins all-important passage—The occasional absence of a squadron does not suspend a blockade; but if the blockade be raised by the enemy, or by the employment of the naval force or part of it, though only for a time, to other objects, or by the mere remissness of the cruisers, the commerce of neutrals with the place ought to be free.This is corroborated by Wheaton and other American authorities on international law. A great number of French jurists, in their strictness say, that if a blockade be interrupted by a storm, it is ineffectual; they hold that a blockade should be so stringent as that the vessels should be so stationed at the port blockaded as to cross their fire; and they say that merchantmen should be allowed to visit ports blockaded, in order that by actual inspection they may see whether the blockade is valid. According to a treaty of 1800, which I believe is still in existence, between America and France, each French vessel attempting to enter a blockaded port, must have a distinct and separate warning of the blockade before she can be captured. I need not say, I do not hold a doctrine of this description. I quote it to show, that abroad and on the Continent of Europe the whole question is looked upon with far greater stringency than it is looked upon by us in this country. I will now proceed to show what has been the practice. There was one celebrated case, the case of the Nancy; and I will quote the decision of the Privy Council in this case in 1809. In 1804, as a British vessel was endeavouring to enter a port of the blockaded island of Martinique, she was captured; and the capture was pronounced illegal by the Privy Council upon these grounds—The capture is contrary to international law, because it was the duty of the blockaders to maintain such a force as would be of itself sufficient to enforce the blockade. This could only be effected by keeping up a number of vessels on the different stations so communicating with each other as to be able to intercept all vessels.1168 And in Lord Stowell's judgment in 1809 this view is confirmed—The usual and regular mode of enforcing blockades is by stationing a number of ships, and forming as it were a circle of circumvallation round the mouth of a prohibited port. Then, if the arch fails in any one part, the blockade itself fails.Passing from 1809 to 1856, we find an attempt made in Paris to give some definition, some interpretation, and, in my idea, some real efficiency to blockades. The Declaration of Paris says, that "blockades, in order to be binding, must be effective, that is to say, be maintained by a force sufficient really to prevent access to the coast of the enemy." I ask the House of Commons, what is the meaning of this word "really"? Is it introduced to round a sentence? or is it to be taken as some Oxford divines wish the doctrines of the Church of England to be taken—in a non-natural sense? If so, diplomatists employed pens and ink to little purpose. Mr. Marcy seems to have been of that opinion in 1856, for he says—This rule has not for a long time been regarded as uncertain, or the cause of any 'deplorable disputes If there have been any disputes in regard to blockades, the uncertainty was about the facts, but not the law. Those nations which have resorted to what are properly denominated 'paper blockades,' have rarely, if ever, undertaken afterwards to justify their conduct upon principle, but have generally admitted the illegality of the practice and indemnified the injured parties.And it appears to me that, without quoting further from Grotius, Puffendorf, or others, the word "really" is a word that appeals to our common sense; it means that a blockade shall first of all be duly notified, and then that it shall be thoroughly effective and unintermittent, and of such a character that vessels shall, except in very rare contingencies, be unable to get in. I should consider, from what I have read in the papers presented to Parliament, that the blockade of New Orleans was an effective blockade; as regards other ports, the thing has been a delusion. I must now turn to the letter of the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary, and upon that I shall rest my case. He particularly selects, at the commencement of his despatch, the two ports of Wilmington and Charleston. He says, writing on Feb. 15, 1862—Her Majesty's Government have had under their consideration the state of the blockade of the ports of Charleston and Wilmington. It ap- 1169 pears from the reports received from Her Majesty's naval officers, that although a sufficient blockading force is stationed off these ports, various ships have successfully eluded the blockade; and a question might therefore be raised as to whether such a blockade should be considered as effective. Her Majesty's Government, however, are of opinion, that assuming that the blockade is duly notified, and also that the number of ships is stationed and remains at the entrance of a port sufficient really to prevent access to it, or to create an evident danger of entering or leaving it, and that these ships do not voluntarily permit ingress or egress, the fact that various ships may have successfully escaped through it—as in the particular instances here referred to—will not of itself prevent the blockade from being an effective one by international law.It appears to me, that this is one of the most astounding letters I have ever read; because all the evidence which can be brought forward shows that these very ports of Wilmington and Charleston are not blockaded, and that not one of those conditions which constitute an effective blockade are applicable to these particular ports. Then the noble Lord goes on to say—The adequacy of the force to maintain a blockade being always and necessarily a matter of fact and evidence, and one as to which different opinions may be entertained, a neutral State ought to exercise the greatest caution with reference to the disregard of a de facto and notified blockade, and ought not to disregard it, except when it entertains a conviction, which is shared by neutrals generally having an interest in the matter, that the power of blockade is abused by a State either unable to institute or maintain it, or unwilling, from some motive or other, to do so.Well, Sir, I should like to know what is the opinion of neutral Powers upon the subject of this blockade? I have every reason to believe, and there are many other Members of this House who have very good reasons to know, that the opinions of neutral Powers are almost unanimous that the blockade is ineffective and is illegal. And, Sir, I cannot produce better confirmation of my views than by alluding to the reply that was made in the House of Lords the other night by Earl Russell to the Earl of Carnarvon, in which the former says—From time to time the French Ambassador and some other Representatives of the Maritime States have asked me whether the British Government was prepared to interfere in this matter of the blockade.Now, Sir, I would like to know why the French Ambassador and the Ministers of the other Maritime Powers should inquire of the noble Lord if it was the intention 1170 of England to interfere, when she had no business to interfere unless she could justify herself by the law of nations? The reason is perfectly clear. This demand was made by the other Foreign Ministers of Lord Lyons in the full conviction and belief that this blockade was illegal and untenable.
Sir, that is in reality the case: and that it does not fulfil any of the formalities which a blockade ought to fulfil, I shall now proceed to show you, from the number of vessels that have run the blockade ab initio to the present time, and I shall take my authority from communications that have been made to me, from the despatches of your naval commanders, from your consuls, from the City articles of The Times, and from the acknowledgements contained in the American newspapers themselves. After having read some extracts, and pointed out to the House the facts which I am about to quote, I shall then ask the House if they will agree with the hon. Gentleman who sits below me (Mr. Bright), who declares that this is the most effective blockade in the annals of the world?
§ MR. GREGORY
That this is the most effective blockade in the annals of the world, because cotton, which costs 4 d. per pound at New Orleans, costs 1 s. 2d. at Liverpool. The statement I have now to make is with regard to the number of vessels that have run the blockade. The latest date to which I have any account of these vessels is November 1st; but here is a statement that has been put into my hands, the substantial correctness of which, I believe, will not be impugned, though some questions may arise as to the tonnage and size of the vessels. But all I can say is, that the general accuracy of this statement will not be impugned, that in some ports, up to the 1st November—in others up to August, in others up to July—upwards of, I may say in round numbers, 400 vessels had run the blockade; and, from the statement I have received, I am given to understand that the running of the blockade is just as constant as it was before. I have carefully eliminated from the list that has been given me all vessels that have proceeded from the internal waters of the United States—these vessels are only vessels that have actually and positively run the blockade. And I may just mention here that surely it is all very 1171 well to say that, because these are small vessels, this is not an infraction of the blockade. It is an infraction, not of the blockade only, but of the trade rights of neutrals; because if one class of vessels, or the vessels of one nation, are allowed to run the blockade without being checked, to the prejudice of another, that other is placed at a disadvantage to which she ought not to be subjected. As early as the 20th of May last Lord Lyons writes—I am very apprehensive that the blockade is not being carried out with a due regard to the established principles of international law, or to the rights and interests of neutrals. No sufficiently public or official notice appears to be given of the precise date of the beginning of the effective blockade in each locality, or of the exact limits to which it extends. If the statement in the enclosed newspaper extract is correct, the terms of the warning given by the Niagara to a British vessel off Charleston were, 'Ordered off the whole Southern Coast of the United States of America, it being blockaded.' These terms are not only vague and indefinite, but plainly inaccurate; at the time the warning was given the greater part of the coast was not blockaded, and (so far as I know), up to the present moment, nothing like an effective blockade of the greater part of the Southern Coast exists.And now, Sir, when this illegal warning was given by the Niagara, let me remind the House that Mr. Seward, the Secretary of State, was perfectly well aware what was the legal state of the case, what was the meaning of a blockade, and what were the regulations enjoined by the practice of the United States. The noble Lord at the head of the Government, who is quite aware of all transactions connected with foreign affairs, will perhaps recollect that at the time of the Mexican war Mr. Maclean, the Minister from Washington in this country, read to Lord Aberdeen ft letter from Mr. Buchanan, Secretary of State in Washington, in which Mr. Buchanan declared that it was the intention of the United States to announce the blockade of the coast of Mexico. Lord Aberdeen replied, "There must surely be some mistake; England can never recognise the blockade of a coast;" and Mr. Maclean referred to Washington for further instructions. Shortly afterwards a reply was received saying that it was a typographical error, and that the word ought to have been "the ports" of Mexico, not the "coast," for that the United States would never dream of proclaiming the blockade of a coast in direct contravention of the principles they had always 1172 laid down. Now, the extract which I have read to you from Lord Lyons is amply confirmed by the reports of the Consuls. There is a communication from Consul Bunch, dated May 17, but that I will not tremble you with. But the communication of Lord Lyons on June 3rd is still more important, because it conveys to you directly the fact that that principle which has been laid down by Earl Russell, as constituting the efficiency of a blockade, has been abandoned in that particular case—namely Charleston—upon which he relies. Lord Lyons, writing on the 3rd June, reports that no blockading ship has been off Charleston from the 16th May to the 28th May, but that Mr. Seward holds that the withdrawal of the blockading squadron does not amount to the discontinuance of the blockade. He encloses Mr. Seward's letter to him, in which Mr. Seward assumes the extraordinary position that though there was no blockading vessel present off Charleston, yet the blockade of the port was neither abandoned, relinquished, nor remitted. And Mr. Seward lays down this doctrine—I hasten to express the dissent of the Government from the position which seems to be assumed in your note, that that 'temporary' absence impairs the blockade, and renders necessary a new notice of its existence.Because it is inconvenient at the present moment to Mr. Seward and the Government of Washington to institute an effective blockade, Mr. Seward—as Mr. Seward generally does—put his foot upon every principle of international law. He says—sic volo, sic jubeo; it answers our purpose for the present, and it will answer perfectly well. And, says Mr. Seward, as for all those principles of international law which we have ever upheld, they are but dust in the balance compared with the exigencies of the moment. Now, what is Consul Bunch's comment upon all this? If you turn to p. 17, you will see what he says on the subject. He says—It is true that the Niagara did take up her position in front of this harbour.But then he goes on to say, having given the whole account of the vessels which came in—Without desiring to impugn the correctness of Mr. Seward's statement to a greater degree than may be necessary to establish the truth, I will only remark that neither the Harriet Lane nor any other vessel was ever in a position to maintain the blockade, as the foregoing facts will clearly prove. But whatever may have been the 1173 intentions of the Government of the United States, it is perfectly clear that the blockade was utterly and entirely ineffective and null for nearly fifteen days. My colleagues of France and Spain have so reported it to their respective Governments, so that I am not alone in my opinion.Well, Sir, let us now leave the port of Charleston and let us go to Savannah, At Savannah the blockading ship arrived on the 28th May. It left on the 1st June and was not heard of until the 13th. Mr. Fullarton, our acting Consul at Savannah, writing to Earl Russell, says that the blockade of that port commenced on May 28; that the war steamer remained off there till the 1st June, when she left, and had not since been seen or heard of, leaving the entrance to the harbour entirely unobstructed. In July Consul Archibald, of New York, reports that there was no blockade between Cape Hatteras and Cape Fear (p. 20). On the 29th July Commander Hickley reports that the important town of Wilmington, in North Carolina—the other port mentioned by Earl Russell—was not blockaded, and that Ocracoke, the chief inlet to Painter's Sound, was not blockaded either. On July 25th Consul Bunch writes from Charleston—At the moment at which I am writing there is no blockading ship whatever, nor has there been for upwards of twenty-four hours, although no bad weather has arisen to drive a ship off the coast. In fact, I have no hesitation in saying that the blockade of this portion of the American coast is effective only as regards large vessels, the property for the most part of neutrals, whilst the coasting trade between Charleston and the ports of North Carolina, of Georgia, and of Florida, conducted in steamers of light draught, and schooners of from 100 to 300 tons burthen, goes on unmolested.But on August 6 a still more startling document appears. Consul Bunch writes to Lord John Russell, and encloses a sworn affidavit, sworn before the Vice Consul, to corroborate his statement. He says—and listen to this, I pray you; for what in the name of mercy is not ft blockade if this is? He says—The several privateers which have sailed from this and other Southern ports, are making captures every day, and sending their prizes into all the ports, quite unmolested by any of the ships of the United States. In North Carolina the same state of things prevails. Even the little steamer the Daylight, which remained for five days off the port Wilmington, has been withdrawn, and, so far as I believe, not a single ship of war is at present to be found on the entire coast of the State.Again, on the 20th of August, Consul Bunch reports— 1174The coasting trade continues in full force, and I feel quite assured that were larger vessels to approach the coast, they could easily enter almost any of the ports.On September 4th Consul Bunch writes from Charleston—I have the honour to report that the blockade of this port continues to be conducted with the laxity which has hitherto distinguished it. Vessels of various sizes enter and sail almost at pleasure.And at page 83, he says—Ingress into the port of Charleston has certainly been allowed at all times, since the first establishment of the blockade, to steam transports in the service of the Confederates, which have come in from the surrounding coasts with the Confederate flag flying, in full sight of the blockading squadron. Similar ingress has not been allowed to any other vessels.This appears, Sir, to me to be perfectly astounding. Here is our own Consul—the very official to whom, in full confidence in his integrity and veracity, Lord Russell applied for information—and this is the answer he received. Well, Mr. Bunch goes on to say—The blockade has been adequate to cause obvious danger to large vessels, but totally inadequate to prevent the ingress of small vessels from 50 to 300 tons, and drawing less than ten feet of water. The above remarks apply to the port of Charleston. Of the ports between it and Savannah I can safely say there has been no blockade at all.He then gives the description of the vessels, and he says—Off Wilmington, up to two or three days ago, there has been no blockading vessel, except the Daylight, on 20th July, which vessel went away on the 25th. …. Of the blockade of North Carolina, I can only say that it has scarcely existed at all. …… Schooners and brigs have arrived from and sail for the West Indies, with cargoes, ever since the nominal commencement of the blockade.Now we have got to the end of September. This is what Commodore Dunlop says. He writes to Admiral Milne on the 26th of September that there were no cruisers off Savannah. And Commander Hewett, on the 12th September, reported to the Admiral that the coast from Cape Look out to Cape Clear was not efficiently blockaded, and that there were no cruisers at Beaufort. Then we come to October; and Mr. Fullarton, writing on October 11th, makes the following remarkable statement:—Since the beginning of September the blockade of this port has been less strictly maintained than at any period since its commencement. Intermissions of the blockade have lately been very 1175 frequent, during which the entrance to the river was left quite unobstructed; they occurred as follows:—From the 8th to the 14th September, from the 15th or 16ht to the 23rd September, and from the, 29th September to the 4th October. Since the latter date another intermission took place of about two days' duration.He says Again—The blockade of the coast to the south of this has all along been maintained in a very ineffective manner, and at the present moment as much so. as ever. The vessels employed are too few in number; they merely cruise up and down, visiting for a day or two at a time one harbour after another. The consequence has been that many vessels run in and out, to and from various points on the coast, without seeing a blockading vessel. …. Another proof of the inefficiency of the blockade of the coast consists in the fact that since the commencement of the blockade the line of steamers between this city and the St. John's River, Florida, has kept up an uninterrupted communication.Now, Sir, we have got down to October, and Commander Lyons in December reports the inefficiency of the blockade at Charleston, Wilmington, and elsewhere. And so all through the reports quoted by Lord Russell. Here the papers end. I have no farther official information; but I can tell you from private information, that on the 9th February, some English vessels sailed out from Charleston harbour, and not only that, but a large steamer, whose name I will not mention, left Wilmington on the 5th of the month, laden with cotton and spirits of turpentine perfectly unmolested, and the pilot stated that there was not the slightest sign of a blockading vessel. These facts, I think, Sir, prove the inefficiency and intermission of the blockade from May 28th to the present time. What can be stronger than the City Articles which have appeared in The Times? In one of those articles of Friday the 21st ult. is this—It is said that insurances are being effected daily on ships and cargoes about to run the blockade of the Southern ports. The highest premium paid is fifteen guineas, the ship being entitled to select any port. In some instances the risk to a single port of easy access has been as low as ten guineas. Nearly all the vessels so insured are steamers of about 1,500 tons burden.On the following day The Times states that similar insurances were being effected in France and other countries. And now, Sir, it is scarcely necessary that I should quote the New York press. It is quite sufficient to say, that if you read them, you will see that they complain loudly and indignantly of the inefficiency and illegality of the blockade. I do not say it 1176 is in the least degree for the purpose of aiding England in breaking the blockade, or for giving any comfort to the Southern ports, but I have no doubt they have friends who are anxious to place their ships out, and that they wish the Government to purchase them with the view of increasing the number of ships and making the blockade efficient. But the fact remains that, from whatever motive, the New York press does loudly complain of the inefficiency of the blockade. Have you not a practical confession on the part of the Northern States themselves of the utter inefficiency of this blockade? For have you not heard of those stone fleets sent to dam up and to destroy the ports of the South? I remember reading with horror and disgust an article which appeared in one of the American papers, which was greatly, praised at the time, which stated that for the future so many hundred leagues of coast would be without a port, and spoke of Charleston and Savannah and Wilmington, once the scenes of business and bustle, as doomed to utter desolation, so that the very sites of them would be matter of conjecture to future historians. If the blockade was not a fiction, would the Northern Government have resorted to this barbarous and abominable system. A more barbarous or a more disgraceful action was never before committed by a nation making any claim to civilization. Even an American paper characterized it as "an act of barbarity unparalleled in the history of civilization," and as an endeavour to undo what Columbus had done—to shut up from mankind the ports which that great discoverer had opened, and to destroy, by artificial impediments, those great natural harbours which were intended for the benefit of mankind. It is a crime against humanity, and is all the more barbarous and disgraceful, as it is the emanation of a nation which boasts of its enlightenment. I will read to the House a paragraph upon this subject, because it is so eloquent and true, it is besides so applicable to the case, that I wish to enforce my argument by it. The following extract was from The Times:—The Federal Gevernment itself has emphatically admitted the failure of their naval blockade by an act of barbarity which is unparalleled in the history of national wars. They have actually endeavoured to undo what Columbus had done—to shut up from mankind for ever the ports which the great discoverer opened to the human race, and to destroy by artificial impediments the gates by which men of all nations enter and pass out 1177 of some millions of fertile and productive lands. This is a crime against all human kind. If it does not call down universal execration and arouse general opposition, it is only because the enterprise is believed to be as impossible as its design is execrable.Nor is this English opinion alone. There has been an expression of opinion on this subject from the other side of the water, which will perhaps be more listened to in America than in England. Here is the opinion of M. Casimir Perier, and I make no apology for reading it in the original, lest I should dilute the power of the words by endeavouring to give a translation—Plus condamnable encore est l'obstruction des ports, car ce n'est pas seulement la génération présente, ce sont les générations futures qu'on prive de leur patrimoine. Les ports, les fleuves, que Dieu a donnés à l'univers pour faciliter les communications et les échanges, sont un dépô t sacré fait à l'humanité toute entière, et que nul ne peut aliéner sans crime.I will not now allude to Mr. Seward's evasions upon this question; it is suffcient to say that the evasions were worthy of the man and of the cause, I only ask whether, if war should unhappily arise between this and any other country, do you believe, for a single moment, that the laxity and irregularities that we have tolerated in the interest of the Northern States, and which will be encouraged by the letter of the noble Earl, will be acquiesced in for one moment by the United States? England's emergency will, you may rely upon it, be America's opportunity. All I ask is this, that we should act with the strictest justice by the United States—with justice, and nothing more—for we owe that Government scant courtesy. That we should act with strict justice, that we should bind them down to the strictest adherence to international law, is perfectly clear from the whole course of their procedure from the commencement of the war to the present time. At the very commencement of the war we found Mr. Seward declaring his intention to seize in Canadian waters a British vessel suspected of being about to be fitted out as a privateer. He said he should seize it, and if he found he was mistaken, he would make reparation. It turned out after all that this identical vessel had been privately bought for the American Government. Next he takes four American citizens off a British vessel proceeding from one neutral port to another neutral port; and though he subsequently gave them up, confessedly be- 1178 cause it was discovered to be an illegal capture, he declared at the same time, that if their persons had been of sufficient importance to the Northern Government, they would have been retained in defiance of the law. What was the course pursued in New Granada? He seized two persons within the territory of that neutral State. Perhaps the persons seized were of importance to the Northern Government, for although New Granada had protested against this flagrant violation of her soil, no redress had been vouchsafed. Then we find further that Mr. Seward says the United States are not prepared to acknowledge the otherwise universally acknowledged principle of international law, that the intermission of a blockade destroys its efficiency, just because it did not suit their convenience. And yet this Minister, so lax, so unscrupulous, so lawless of the rights of others, looks with the eye of an eagle and a serpent into the actions of other people. Consul Bunch was required by Her Majesty's Government, acting along with France, to make representations to the States Government to endeavour to get them to adhere to the humane articles of the Declaration of Paris; and although Mr. Bunch did but obey the instructions of his Government, and although these representations were made for the sake of the Americans themselves, and to spare them the horrors of war, so punctilious was Mr. Seward that he withdrew the exequatur of the United States from Consul Bunch, but did not withdraw the exequatur from the French Consul. So true it was, as he had stated at the commencement of his speech, that the people and Government of the United States knew well that it was not prudent to trifle with France, however prudent it might be to trifle with and insult England. And when these statements reach the Confederate States, will they not be read with astonishment, sorrow, and indignation? And when the Confederate States see that you tolerate such treatment, what can they think but that you are conniving at the designs of the North? I have been in every part of the Southern States, and I can say with truth that throughout them I have found the deepest attachment to the old country. There still remain among them ancestral and hereditary recollections of England. I can say with truth, and I know there are other hon. Members who can say the same, that the name of Englishman is a passport, not only to the 1179 House, but to the heart of the greater portion of the Southerners. If the South be not subjugated, if they do not fail to maintain their independence, which, I most unhesitatingly affirm they will not, yet events may arise, and I believe will arise, which will make England deeply regret the course she has pursued, which will leave her without one friend on the continent of North America. Hon. Members may have seen in old drawings representations of an ancient hero listening to the earnest suggestions of two mythological personages of the female sex. England appears to me to be at present very much in that position. In one ear I hear whispered in Northern accents, "Is it wise or manly to pick a fresh quarrel with a State that has behaved very handsomely to you, even at the risk of alienating the confidence of the people from whom all their power comes? Bear with us for a little longer, and we will open a cotton port in the Southern States, and the loyal men of the South will come down, and ships shall cross over the broad billows laden with cotton, and Manchester and Liverpool shall rejoice." "And," says the same voice, "if you do not bear with us, consider the cost of a war; reflect on the expenditure which a quarrel between the North and yourselves would impose; that burden would be infinitely heavier than those that are now imposed upon you by your privation of cotton. Bear with us a little longer, for the sake of the cotton cultivation in India, and we shall be able to put down the slaveholder and the slave cultivation of cotton in the South. Remember what your leading journal says—that England, of all nations, is the nation that ought to be the least disposed to infringe upon the law of blockade; and if you close your eyes to our irregularities, laxities, and illegalities, and the time should come when you are the offender, then we will close one eye to similar peccadilloes on your part." But to the other ear I hear a Southern voice saying, "You have pledged yourselves to impartiality and neutrality. The promise of a cotton port has been given you; but where are the loyal Union men of the South, and where are the bales of cotton you are asking for? If you are involved in the quarrel, let it be a quarrel in vindication of law and of right. But depend upon it there will be no quarrel, because, with France and the rest of Europe on your side, resistance is impossible. As for your cotton cultivation in India, remember that 1180 2,000,000 of bales are necessary for the manufacturing districts next year, and you cannot get that amount, or anything like it, from the interior of India to the coast." I believe, indeed, that my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester has stated that it would take 5,000,000 bullocks and 1,000,000 of attendants to bring down that quantity, even if it were attainable, to the port of embarkation. "With us," the same voice urges, "you have open ports, free trade, no differential duties on foreign ships. Heed not the argument that England has an interest in winking at a violation of the law, because England is the greatest commercial country in the world, her fleets cover every sea, her merchantmen penetrate every port where a market is established; and England, moreover, is one of the few countries in the world whose powerful steam marine enables her, if belligerent, to keep up an efficient blockade, and to comply with all the formalities connected with international law." It is not into the ears of England alone that these whispers are poured. The Northern voice says to France, "Are you oblivious of the hereditary attachment between France and the United States? Whatever we may have done to others, we never acted an unworthy part by you." The Southern voice says, "Have not the wine-growers of France, the people of the Faubourgs, and the people of Alsace, an interest in putting a stop to this system of protection which will from henceforth prevent all foreign goods from entering the American provinces?" In conclusion, I can only assure the House that my views are in no degree extreme; I have not intimated any wish to abolish blockades. Being a lover of peace, I am of opinion that the more intolerable war is made the less likelihood exists of its being resorted to. If it be sought to bring hostilities to an early termination, war ought to be waged in such a manner that any nation which has tasted its bitterness will be slow to anger and easily entreated. But this country has accepted the Declaration of Paris, and I sincerely hope the House of Commons would not allow its character to be tarnished by any evasion of it. The attitude of England ought to be that of a beacon to the world, but if we are now acting, not in conformity with law, but merely with a wish to conciliate and to propitiate the United States, we are playing the part of wreckers; we are holding out false lights to allure people to destruc- 1181 tion. I can only say that if Her Majesty's Government are not able—I hope they will be able—to give a complete explanation of all that has been said, and all that will be said, I must pronounce the declaration of Paris to be, as regards the Confederate States, a mockery; as regards the interpretation of international law, a delusion; and, as regards the trade and commerce of the world, nothing better than a snare.
Amendment proposed,To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, Copy of any Correspondence relative to the Blockade of the Ports of the Confederate States of America, subsequent to the Papers presented to this House.'—instead thereof.
§ MR. BENTINCK
, in seconding the Motion said, that if he proposed to confine himself to the topic which had just been so ably put before the House, he should not feel it necessary to add a single word; but there was another question besides that of the validity of the blockade, to be disposed of—namely, the question of the recognition by this country of the independence of the Southern States of America. Before, however, adverting to that part of the discussion, he wished to disencumber the subject from one element, the introduction of which would produce extreme inconvenience. He alluded to the question of the abolition of slavery. The Northern and the Southern States stood in precisely the same position with regard to this institution—there was nothing to choose between them. It was perfectly true that the institution of slavery dominated in the South, but the North had been perfectly concurrent parties. Then how did this country stand in relation to the matter; and what would be the effect of introducing the question of slavery into the discussion before the House? Going back to the time when large sums were voted as compensation to slave owners, it should be borne in mind that there were in this country persons who had received great sums for emancipating their slaves. Did any reproach now attach to the recipients of those sums? What was the fact as to slave-grown sugar? What was the conduct of this country recently, and what was the answer of this House when an appeal was made to it, not long ago, to impose differential duties upon slave-grown sugar? The answer was, that they preferred the 1182 maintenance of the new doctrine of free trade to the abolition of slavery. What had been the conduct of this country throughout? When they were annually receiving large quantities of slave-produced cotton from the Southern States, was any objection raised on the ground that it was the produce of slave labour? He had never heard such an objection raised. Putting for a moment a hypothetical case, he would ask what would be the decision of this House and this country if a reconciliation were effected between the Northern and the Southern States, with the distinct understanding that slavery, as an institution, should remain unimpaired, He felt persuaded that this country would be contented to resume commercial operations upon the same footing as before. He wished to ask those gentlemen of the commercial interest, who stood silent formerly on the subject of slavery, and who might now seek to introduce the question of slavery into the discussion, in what position they stood? Why, as long as slavery had been profitable to them they were willing to make use of slave-grown cotton and remain silent on the matter, but as soon as cotton was to be had elsewhere than in the Southern States of America, they wanted to create a feeling in the House for the Northern States—that when they could do so without injury to their own pockets they were willing to raise a discussion on the horrors of slavery. In making that observation he did not wish it to be supposed that he was the advocate of slavery; he loathed it; and would support any proposition for its abolition. But let the question be approached by those who could touch it with clean bands. The introduction of the slavery element, then, would be the height of hypocrisy and absurdity. In his opinion, the hon. Mover (Mr. Gregory) had clearly made out that the blockade was null and void; and the two questions of the efficiency of the blockade and the recognition of the independence of the Southern States were so closely connected that they could not be discussed apart. It was perfectly hopeless to expect within any given time that the conflict in North America would cease. The North was only entering upon its difficulties, and the power for defence by the South was unlimited. The only prospect of the war closing was to be found in the recognition of the Southern States by this country and the European Powers. That any number of vic- 1183 tories would ever bring back the latter to a reunion with the Northern States, he held to be an impossibility. He would next ask what complaint could be made by the North if her Majesty's Government thought fit to acknowledge the independence of the South? Why, what was the origin of the United States themselves? Successful secession from this country. And what was the very first act of independence? An act of repudiation. Some gentlemen might say, that the United States rebelled against the tyranny of this country; but, in reality, they rebelled against the taxation imposed by this country. That was exactly what the Southern States were doing now in respect to the North. The noble Earl at the head of the Foreign Affairs of this country—who, in his eloquence, had always been given to a somewhat magniloquent tone—had stated that the Northerners were fighting for empire and the Southerners for independence. On the ground that they were fighting for independence, the Southerners had his sympathy; but he ventured to think that the Northerners were fighting for dollars, and nothing else. They heard a great deal of "the stars and stripes." He could not help thinking that if the stars were rounded off and made into dollars, they would represent the feelings of the North very much better than they did in their present shape. What right had the Northern States to claim the allegiance of the South? What was the meaning of republican institutions? If republicanism meant anything, it meant that any individual member of the Republic, if he had the means, could set up independently on his own account. He was therefore at a loss to understand how the Northern States, themselves the result of a successful rebellion against this country, could have the slightest ground for complaining of or stigmatizing men who wished to withdraw from them. But was the course pursued by Her Majesty's Government in accordance with the opinions they had before held under somewhat similar circumstances? The Government appeared to him to be acting, with regard to America, in a spirit totally opposed to that which marked their conduct towards Italy. The noble Earl, the Foreign Secretary, in one despatch recognised the right of the Italian people to elect their own governors, as they were the best judges of their own interests. Might not the Southern States 1184 put in a similar claim? The noble Earl, who often quoted Vattel, produced his authority to show that it was an act of justice and humanity to assist brave men in defence of their liberties, and he (Mr. Bentinck) insisted that there was no distinction to be drawn between the people of the Southern States of America and the Italians in this respect. Where was the distinction between the condition of the Southern States and the principle so highly eulogized by the noble Earl, and applied to the Italian States? The noble Earl (Earl Russell) said in the case of the Italian revolution that the people were the best judges, and that Her Majesty's Government would not feel themselves justified in declaring that the subjects of the King of the Two Sicilies were not justified in throwing off their allegiance. If the Government acted on this principle in one case, they were bound also to carry it out in all similar cases. The noble Lord said that he could not concur in the doctrine once affirmed by the University of Cambridge which gave to the Sovereign an inherent right to reign. He held, on the contrary, that subjects had a right to rise against a monarch who did not give them protection, and had rightly forfeited their allegiance. If that principle were applicable to the subjects of a monarchy, surely it was applicable à fortiori to those who lived under republican institutions. If the subjects of a monarchy could set up another form of government, were those of a republic to be debarred from the same liberty, and to be forbidden to choose their own form of government? It appeared to him that Her Majesty's Government had no ground whatever for refusing to recognise the Confederacy of the Southern States. What principle animated the Government in dealing with this question? Was their conduct regulated by a wish to uphold free institutions? If that were so, all he could say was that it had been clearly demonstrated within the last few months that freedom was not compatible with republicanism. There was nothing so odious, so galling, so tyrannical, or so unbearable as the tyranny of a democracy. There was one remarkable difference between the tyranny of the autocrat and the tyranny of the democrat. Take the case of France and the States of North America, for instance. In France a man could live quietly in possession of his property provided he did not give public utterance to opinions hostile to the Government. But in 1185 the Northern States of America a man suspected of holding opinions adverse to the popular voice stood a good chance of being tarred and feathered. The Government of the King of the Two Sicilies committed atrocities under a despotism; but everything that was unconstitutional and tyrannical was perpetrated in North America under the name of free institutions. There the liberty of the press had been restricted, the Habeas Corpus Act suspended, and all the safeguards of liberty removed. They had established a tariff of duties not only protective but prohibitive. Was that their claim upon the friendship of Her Majesty's Government? Tell it not in Birmingham—tell it not in Ashton, or in that portion of Downing-street which was devoted to frittering away the financial resources of the country—the Northern States had imposed a duty on paper! Was that their claim on the consideration of Her Majesty's Government? Was the endless corruption in every public department in the Northern States the ground for the friendship and partiality of Ministers? He was surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) say, on the first night of the Session, that the statesmen of America had had great difficulties to contend against, and that they had got out of them in a manner creditable to themselves He (Mr. Bentinck) admitted those difficulties; but if the right hon. Gentleman were present, he would ask him, when he spoke of the creditable conduct of American statesmen, whether he recollected, that although every jurist of the United States admitted that the capture of the Confederate Commissioners was illegal, they were held for several weeks in durance and were only released by the Northern States under compulsion; and also, whether he remembered the remarkable passage in Mr. Seward's despatch, in which, while acknowledging the injustice of the capture, he said that if they had found it convenient to detain the Commissioners, they would have done so? He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would tell the House the reasons he had for eulogizing the conduct of American statesmen. He (Mr. Bentinck) wanted to know whether, upon any of the grounds to which he had adverted, her Majesty's Government thought themselves justified in extending to the Northern States a partiality which they were not prepared to show towards the Italian kingdom. 1186 Was it not the case that the non-recognition of the Southern States, and the consequent disarrangement of commerce, was a great source of inconvenience to the manufacturing interests of this country? Was it not the case that a large amount of distress existed in consequence amongst a large number of our artisans? Her Majesty's Government belonged to a party who arrogated to themselves the title of "friends of the people." They called themselves "Liberals." He confessed he never could understand what that word really meant. But he wanted to know how it happened—seeing that, owing to a combination of circumstances, it was the interest of capital that cotton should not be introduced, and of labour that it should be introduced—he wanted to know why Her Majesty's Government, who called themselves the friends of the people, should side with the objects of capital and not with the cause of labour? He contended that they were doing that which was entailing a vast amount of distress upon a large and suffering portion of the population. The House would, no doubt, be told, that if the Government were to recognise the Southern States of America, a war with the Northern States would immediately ensue. He held the strongest conviction that no such result would take place, and the best proof of that was to be found in the manner in which the Federal Government treated the question of the surrender of the Confederate Commissioners. There was no use in denying the fact, if Her Majesty's Government had not accompanied that demand for redress with the presence of "the man with the big stick and violent gesticulation," the persons seized would never have been restored; and his proof of that was to be found in the celebrated despatch in which they were distinctly told that if it had been convenient, in spite of law and in spite of right, Messrs. Mason and Slidell would have been retained. He felt satisfied there would never be a war between this country and America until the Northern States believed it to be their interest to go to war, and they would go to war with England the very moment they thought themselves strong enough to do so. In conclusion, he begged the House to understand that his object in making this statement was, not to debate the question at issue, but rather to invite her Majesty's Government to offer some explanation why, according to the policy 1187 which they had pursued with respect to Italian affairs, they had abstained from recognising the independence of the Southern States?
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
Sir, I do not rise for the purpose of following the remarks and arguments of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, because I cannot but think that the speech he has made was prepared for delivery on the occasion of the Motion of which my hon. Friend the Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory) gave notice last year, rather than for the Motion which he has brought forward to night. But, before any Member of Her Majesty's Government replies to the charges which my hon. Friend has made, I trust the House will allow me a short time for taking a very different view of the facts to that which has been presented to them. This question with regard to the American blockade must be considered as a question of law and as a question of fact. The legal question I shall not attempt to meddle with, but leave it for some Member of Her Majesty's Government, from whom the House may expect explanations. I fully agree with the hon. Member for Galway, that if it can be proved that the blockade, according to international law, and especially according to our interpretation of international law, is illegal, either because it is not effective or from any other cause, then it would be a breach of neutrality for us to advocate its continuance. I quite agree that if it could be proved that, according to the interpretation of international law as between us and the United States in times past, the present blockade is not a legal one, then the Southern States have a right to say that we are infringing the principle of neutrality. But if it cannot he proved that, according to strict international law, the blockade is illegal, then to break it would be a still greater breach of neutrality, because an act of commission requires more care in its performance than an act of omission. As to what constitutes a legal and efficient blockade, I am not the person to decide—that I leave to the legal advisers of the Government; just premising, that when my hon. Friend takes it for granted that the United States are bound by the letter of the Treaty of Paris, I demur, inasmuch as they were no parties to that treaty. But I do not wish it to be supposed that they were not bound by the 1188 principles of that treaty as to blockades, because they have asserted and maintained those principles in times past. I say "the letter of the treaty as to blockades," because my hon. Friend laid great stress on the particular passage, "really to prevent access to the coast of the enemy." Now, if blockades are to be interpreted in future by all the Powers who signed that treaty strictly by these words, then there is an end of all blockades. I am contented to take the definition of the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office in the despatch with which the papers on the blockade conclude, leaving the right hon. Gentleman who follows me to deal with the legality of his definition. The noble Lord (the Foreign Secretary) says, the blockade is effective if it is duly notified, if there be no permission to any special ships to depart—no undue preference; and if the blockading force is sufficient to prevent access to the port blockaded, or to create an evident danger of entering or leaving it. And he adds—The fact that various ships may have successfully escaped through it (as in the particular instances here referred to) will not of itself prevent the blockade from being an effective one by international law.I understand the definition of the noble Lord to be, that the blockade is to be a real and not a paper or sham blockade. I now come to the question of fact. Have the conditions, thus laid down, been fulfilled or not? In the first place, the notification is not doubted. My hon. Friend laid a great deal of stress on the general order which it is said was issued by the captain of the Niagara in the very beginning of the attempt to enforce the blockade. I do not dispute that order, though it has not been confirmed by Lord Lyons or by any advices from our own Consuls. But, whether it be confirmed or not, it is at all events stated that the United States Government never attempted, and never intended, to act upon it. In no single case have they done so. In the case of every port they have made a special proclamation, and given special notification when the blockade was to begin and when the fifteen days where to expire during which neutral foreign vessels were to be allowed to pass. Then undue preference is not charged. Therefore the argument, whether this blockade is effective or not, is really made to depend 1189 upon the number of escapes. I hope the House will allow me for a short time to go into the figures. My hon. Friend mentioned a list, but he passed very gingerly over it. I expected to have heard more of it; because, before Parliament met, we were told that a list of 600 vessels which had escaped, notwithstanding the blockade was in the hands of some gentlemen, and my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, it was understood, was to give us information with regard to this list. Well, I suppose he has found out that this information is not altogether to be depended upon, and therefore he has not brought it forward. But still the hon. Member for Galway did say that, throwing aside ships from the interior, there were still nearly 400 vessels of which information existed that they had run the blockade from its commencement to the end of October. Now, that agrees with two lists which we find by the despatches have been furnished to the Government: namely, one sent in by Messrs. Yancey, Rost, and Mann, the Confederate Commissioners, on November 30, and a supplementary list sent in by Mr. Mason. Now, I have taken the trouble of analysing these lists, and if the House will allow me, I will give the result. I will take the departures as the test, because it is certain that we should be more anxious to get cotton than to export contraband of war. In the list of Messrs. Yancey, Rost, and Mann, given in on November 30, they say, that between "the proclamation of the blockade and the 20th of August more than 400 vessels had arrived and departed unmolested; thereby giving conclusive evidence that this blockade was not effective, and therefore was not binding." Passing by several eloquent comments on this inefficiency, I find that the total departures, according to the clearances by the Custom-house Returns, was 322. Of that number 119 were before the declaration of the blockade; 75 were from New Orleans before May 27, the day on which, we learn from Consul Mure, was notified the blockade of that port; 44 were from Wilmington before July 13, when that port was notified by Commodore Pendergrast; and 56 were foreign vessels, which left before the fifteen days of grace had expired. I do not blame the collectors for sending in these returns. They were ordered to do so. But I do think it extraordinary that the Commissioners should have given in a list in which, in one case, 119 vessels 1190 were given, and 56 in another, as having broken the blockade, when all these vessels had left before the blockade was enforced. It is the more extraordinary, because, looking especially at the list of those 56 vessels, if they had been real breaches they would have been most important breaches, because a very large number of them were large vessels that sailed from New Orleans and Mobile to Europe, and chiefly to Liverpool; and if it had been shown that they had really broken the blockade, I should have admitted that there were grounds for blaming our Government for assenting to its legality. But the fact was, every one of these 56 vessels came out during the fifteen days in which time was given for them to escape; and the very paper which contains this list contains a congratulation from our consul at Mobile that these very vessels had been able to get out before the blockade came into force. Adding these numbers together, we have, out of the 322 vessels, only 147 left. Of these, 25 were river boats, chiefly flat boats coming from the interior to New Orleans to be broken up. Not much is said about them. I will give Mr. Mason credit that when he again handed in the Commissioners' list he refused to take account of them. But in the list, as first handed in by Messrs. Yancey, Rost, and Mann, no allowance was made for the river boats, it no doubt being expected that the list would pass without examination. Thus, I have reduced the 322 to 122. Of these, 106 were coasters, and of these 106, all but three are what Mr. Mason in his despatch, "wishing to be frank," called "quasi inland;" 66 of them went between Mobile and New Orleans, and I am informed by several gentlemen who have visited that coast that it is perfectly absurd to suppose that the voyage of a vessel behind lagoons, and scarcely appearing in the open sea, was a breach of the blockade. The same remark applies to vessels between Savannah and Charleston, where they have to creep behind islands. In fact, Mr. Bunch himself acknowledged that these vessels did not make their appearance in the open sea, except for a very short time. Then, taking off from the 122 these 106 coasters, that leaves 16 departures for foreign ports, of which 15 were to American ports, chiefly to Cuba, all schooners except one sloop, and only one departure for Europe—namely, a schooner from Charleston to Liverpool. 1191 Now, we have heard a great deal of sham blockades, but I appeal to the House whether this is not a sham list. Again, looking at Mr. Mason's supplementary list, it gives 51 departures to the end of October. Of these 5 are from Port Lavaca, in Texas, and this small number proves the efficiency of the blockade, inasmuch as they are all before May 17, and therefore before the declaration of the blockade; thus showing that though there was a foreign trade before the blockade, there has been none since. This leaves 46, of which 27 are quasi-inland vessels, leaving only 19. Of these one was a privateer; three were small coasters from Wilmington, 14 were small vessels for American ports, and only one for Europe. It was the steamer Bermuda. I allude especially to this steamer, because we must not suppose the blockade is ineffective from the stories we have heard of escapes. It has been so extraordinary for vessels to get out, that escapes have been talked of in the newspapers of America, North and South, and we heard of them over and over again. If you look at the account of the escape of Bermuda, you will find that it was managed under circumstances of great difficulty. Consul Molyneux, of Savannah, describes how she got out on a dark and stormy night. But surely, if we are to declare a blockade ineffective because a screw steamer gets out on a dark and stormy night, then my hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Mr. Cobden) need not trouble himself with attempts to relax the international law. Then, again, as to the Nashville. If you look at No. 6 of the Parliamentary Papers, you will see a deposition of one of the crew of the Nashville, describing how she remained three weeks unable to get out, and sending a small steamer down daily to see whether the way was clear; and how, at last, the Commissioners left by another route. The fact is, those gentlemen, the Southern Commissioners, found the blockade so effective that they gave up attempting to leave by the Nashville, and consequently had a more unpleasant voyage than they might otherwise have had. My hon. Friend has alluded to the escapes made by one or two privateers. Now, I have analysed the list of escapes through this blockade; and let me compare it with another list—the list of escapes of American privateers during the last American war. It is true we have 1192 in times past occasionally reverted to a fictitious and paper blockade, and that a great feeling has been excited in Europe upon account of our having done so; although, I confess, I was surprised to hear my hon. Friend quote the remarks made on this subject by a writer so excessively hostile to us as M. d'Hautefeuille. But whatever may have been our practice in past times, there is no doubt that the blockade which we enforced during the last American war was as efficient as we could make it, and probably as efficient as we could ever make it. We had every reason to make it effective, for the inhabitants of these islands were humiliated to an extent never before known, by American privateers being enabled to come close to our own shores. Yet, notwithstanding all this, I find that in less than three years no fewer than 516 privateers got out of the American ports. I say, then, judging the case from the evidence produced by those most interested in persuading us that we ought to take steps to break the blockade, that this blockade has been wonderfully effective from the beginning. And what is the nature of the blockade at this moment, if we may judge by the last accounts? There is no question that our Consuls have done their duty in reporting any, the least signs, of inefficiency; and they have looked at it, as it was natural they should, from the neutral, rather than from the belligerent point of view. Nevertheless, if we look along the whole length of the blockaded coast, and take the last accounts, as furnished by our Consuls and naval officers, we shall find that the blockade is much more effective than the House has had any reason to expect from the statements of my hon. Friend. I will begin with Galveston, and in every case I will take the latest statements. On the 19th of October, Mr. Lynn, our Consul at Galveston, wrote to Lord John Russell that the blockade was effective for all vessels of more than six feet draught. On the 22nd, Acting Consul Coppell wrote that as to New Orleans ingress or egress was almost impossible; and that since the 14th of June he had not heard of any vessels leaving except the Confederate steamer Sumter. My hon. Friend did not, indeed, dwell upon New Orleans, although it is the most important of all the ports, and though more than one-half of his list of 400 vessels are reported to have come from New Orleans. Again, on 1193 the 28th of December, Commander Ross stated that "from Galveston to Florida the blockade is actively maintained." Then we come to Savannah. It is true Mr. Molyneux writes on the 26th of November that for a few days the block ade was ineffective on account of the Federal officers taking all their force to Port Royal. But that circumstance does not give us the power to declare the blockade ineffective, or the right to break it; but it does give us the right to state, that if captures were made of English vessels during that time, there would then be a question whether the American Government would be justified in detaining them. But, it must be observed, that in the same letter Mr. Molyneux adds that "the proximity of Port Royal and the occupation of Tybe Island will effectually blockade Savannah in future." Then Mr. Molyneux shows that the river would be effectively blockaded in future. The next port is Charleston. From Charleston the last accounts I have are to the 19th of December. Although Consul Bunch in July declared the blockade ineffective for small vessels, allowing it to be effective for large ones, at that time Commander Lyons said it was effective both for Savannah and Charleston; and on the 19th of December he writes that the force was sufficient at Charleston and Wilmington; though he adds that, through want of vigilance on the part of the naval officers, the blockade was not so effective as it should be. But surely that was not a ground on which Her Majesty's Government should attempt to break a blockade which had been duly notified, and which was maintained, not by cruisers, as my hon. Friend has asserted, but by stationary vessels? I have now gone through the evidence, as far as we find it in the despatches, with regard to the effectiveness of the blockade; but I cannot disregard the fact, which is so patent to us all, though my hon. Friend passed over it so gingerly, of the enormous inducements there are at this time to break the blockade—that is, to open trade with the Confederate ports, and yet that trade continues closed. I have here the last price current from New Orleans; and it is another proof of the effectiveness of the blockade that it so enormously difficult to get price-currents or letters, or anything else from New Orleans. I find that the price of cotton at New Orleans on the 11th of January was such as would leave a profit 1194 of fully 100 per cent upon its export to Great Britain; yet, notwithstanding this enormous profit, cotton has not come here either from New Orleans or from Charles ton. I am aware it is stated that cotton is not sent down to the ports, and that therefore vessels will not go for it. All I can say is, that what I know of trade convinces me that if there was anything like a certainty of 100 per cent profit to be obtained, nothing but the very greatest possible risk would prevent the attempt being made to break the blockade. Cotton, however, is only one article upon which there is a great profit. The profit upon salt is stated to be no less than 1,000 per cent, and the profit upon contraband of war is probably still greater. But the real truth, and the real reason why we have had these statements from my hon. Friend to night is, not because the blockade is ineffective, but because it is effective; and, indeed, we are asked to break it because, in consequence of its effectiveness, there is great distress and misery in parts of our own country. I do not deny the existence of this distress. My hon. Friend did not dwell upon it one whit more than he was justified in doing. The distress is very great, and I fear it will be still greater. It is considerable in my own district, though, thanks to a beneficent legislation, less so than might otherwise have been the case. Still, cotton mingles largely with the manufactures of the district which I represent, and probably a third of its trade was with America. I can therefore easily conceive what must be the state of Lancashire. But, I must ask, who is it that wishes the blockade to be broken? Are they persons connected with the districts most interested in the question? On the contrary, the cry comes not from Lancashire; not from Manchester, where mills are shut; or from Liverpool, where ships are lying idle; but from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory), and it is supported by the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck). I do not blame them for the course they have taken, but I cannot but think they have looked at the question not so much from an English as from an American point of view. In the first place, we should not have been asked to break this blockade if it had not been for distress in England; and secondly, the existence of this distress would not have been given as a reason for breaking the blockade if it 1195 were not supposed that its breach would be an enormous advantage to the Southern States. I do not mean to say that upon the first blush it might not appear to be the interest of the manufacturing districts that the blockade should be broken. But the manufacturing districts do not themselves think so. They are opposed to the breaking of international law, to the great credit of all concerned. I think I know something of the working people of the North, as well as of the capitalists of the North; and I am sure the feeling is quite as strong among the working men as it is among the capitalists, that we ought not to transgress international law even for their interests' sake. They deserve very great credit for the way in which they are bearing their privations; but they very much doubt whether by any breach of international law their interests would be really advanced. They believe that no step would be so likely as that of interference on the part of this country to embitter and prolong the present unhappy war, I think that the history of the steps taken with regard to this matter are curious, not to say instructive. I confess I thought when we met after the recess that my hon. Friend would have renewed his Motion for the recognition of the Southern States; and I quite understand why the hon. Gentleman who followed him seemed so much surprised that he has not. I confess, too, that I was especially surprised to hear my hon. Friend state that he had last year given up the notion of prosecuting that Motion, because he had hoped to prevent the war, when I remember that he persevered in it till almost the end of the Session, when the war was in full force, and there was as little doubt of its being affected by anything that passed in this House as there is at this moment. I believe, however, that the real difficulty which my hon. Friend felt was as to the support his Motion would obtain for recognition. I felt that after a very high authority—the highest authority on the other side of the House—had used a most pertinent expression, describing the South as an "Insurrectionary Power," it would be impossible for my hon. Friend to obtain sufficient support to make it worth his while to bring the question forward in the form of a premature recognition of the South. And therefore, instead of that, we have the question of the blockade before us; 1196 and I have a doubt whether even that would have been brought before us if he had been aware that the interests most concerned were not anxious for it. I am sure that the one thing the country wishes for in this matter is, that we should go on through the whole course of this civil war as we have begun—in determined adherence to a policy of strict neutrality. I will not, with the hon. Gentleman opposite, give reasons why I hold this view; but I will say that when he attempts to define what must be the feelings of the inhabitants of a Democratic Republic, I think he is hardly in a position to do so. Whether they are merely ambitious for empire, and blind to the disasters and defeats of which they were warned, or whether they are patriotically struggling for the country which they love, and of which they are proud, and displaying those qualities of Anglo-Saxon perseverance and endurance which they inherited from us, I need not decide. But before sitting down, I must say that no facts have been produced to warrant the Government in breaking the blockade, or in departing from the wise course of non-interference which they have hitherto pursued. I cannot but express my gratitude for the line of conduct adopted by the Government. The firmness with which they have protected the honour of the country, and the forbearance and generosity with which they have acted under circumstances of no slight provocation, I fully acknowledge; believing, as I do, that this union of firmness and forbearance has been the means of preventing a more deplorable war than almost any other in which England could have been engaged—a war in which she would have had to fight for slavery against her kinsmen. I hope that no material interests will induce the Government to depart from their principle of strict neutrality, and I feel confident that those who suffer most in their private interests are least desirous to see any relaxation of a policy which is only just and fair, and at the same time most prudent and expedient. Whatever may be the result of the war in America—whether the union be restored or two commonwealths established—the people on the other side of the Atlantic, when the humiliation and distress of their own troubles which now make them utter harsh and undeserved strictures, have passed away, will acknowledge that we have done unto them as we would that they should do unto us, and that we have 1197 not attempted what we ourselves, in all our history have never suffered—namely, the interference of other nations in our internal affairs.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
thought, that infinite credit was due to the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory) for having abstained from enlarging upon those claims to sympathy which the Southern States might present, and for having confined himself to the main point for discussion—whether there was sufficient ground or not for interference with the blockade of the Southern ports. Irritating discussions upon the internal affairs of the United States could produce no good results; whose people, no doubt, held different opinions from ours upon the question of constitutional law which determined the justice or injustice of the act of secession. Public men in this country had observed remarkable reticence upon this difficult question, and he was glad that both the hon. Member for Galway and the hon. Gentleman who took an opposite view had kept clear of embarrassing topics. He confessed that he rose with great diffidence to follow the able speech of the hon. Member (Mr. Forster) who had analysed so closely the list presented by the British Agents in the Southern States of America of those vessels that had escaped the blockade. Now, unless our agents had thought the sailing of these vessels an infraction of the blockade, they would hardly have made representations which they knew would be presented to Parliament in the form of a blue-book. Without travelling through the earlier months of the year, when it might be questionable whether the sailing of these vessels was an infraction of the blockade or not, he would refer to the list for October and November last. Now, if the reports by the British Consuls were good for anything, they must be taken as conclusive on the question of the efficiency or inefficiency of the blockade. On the 11th of October, the Acting Consul at Savannah reported that since the beginning of September the blockade had been less strictly maintained than at any period since its commencement, and that the line of steamers to St. Johns had continued to run uninterruptedly. Mr. Bunch, writing about the same date from Charleston, stated that some vessels arrived there almost daily. In one of the last despatches Captain Lyons, 1198 writing on the 19th of December, stated that the blockade, either intentionally or through the want of ordinary vigilance, was not effective. He therefore submitted that the speech of the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster) was not borne out by the facts set forth in the blue-book. But it appeared to him that the whole question turned upon the law which regulated blockades. The doctrine of the British Government had always been that a blockade to be respected must be effective. It was well known that the blockade of 1807, to which the Americans were in the habit of referring, to show that the British Government formerly entertained a different opinion, was declared as an answer to the Berlin decree, which nominally blockaded the whole of the British ports; and it would be recollected that Mr. Canning stated in the House of Commons that up to that time the old law requiring blockades to be effective had always been observed. The American Government, however, must in the present instance be judged by their own law. It had already been shown that the American doctrine had always been that a blockade to be legal and effective must be maintained at each port, and that in no case could a blockade of a whole coast be accepted by neutral Powers. But it was also the opinion of Judge Kent and the other American authorities, that if a blockade were interrupted even for a time, it could be renewed only by a fresh proclamation and a fresh notification to foreign nations. Hence it became important to ascertain whether at any time the blockade of the Southern ports had been suspended. Upon that point the statements in the blue-book were clear and decisive, showing that at Savannah, for example, the blockade was suspended from the 29th of May to the 13th of June, from the 8th of September to the 14th, from the 16th to the 23rd, and from the 29th to the 4th of October. The Consuls at Wilmington, Mobile, Charleston, and other places reported that intermissions of the blockade had frequently occurred, and that at no lime had the force been sufficient. He contended, therefore, that this blockade could not be defended on the ground that it had been either continuous or effective. There was another point to be considered. According to too law of the United States, there had been no legal blockade at all; for the right of blockade was a belligerent 1199 right, which could not be exercised until war had been declared or recognised by Congress, and Congress had never declared war against the Southern States or even acknowledged that they were at war; they were not, therefore, in strictness entitled even to establish a blockade. It was also important to remember that when the King of Naples blockaded the ports of Sicily in 1848, Sicily being then in a state for the time of successful insurrection, the American Government not only refused to recognise such blockade, but demanded compensation for American citizens who suffered by it. There had also been an infraction of legality in sinking the "stone fleet" in the mouth of Charleston harbour. Seeing, then, that the blockade of the Southern ports was illegal in its origin, because it had not the authority of the United States Congress; that it was illegal in respect that it was a blockade of the ports of the United States themselves, involving the exercise of a right which the American Government had denied to other countries; and that it was also illegal, because it had been frequently suspended without fresh notifications being given to neutral Powers, he begged to ask on what ground it could be respected? He agreed that we ought to be chary of giving encouragement to insurrection, especially, perhaps, in the United States; but by accepting an illegal and ineffective blockade we assisted one of the belligerents at the expense of the other, and thereby departed from that strict neutrality which we professed to observe. It must not, however, be forgotten that this was not an ordinary case, and that the present state of things could not long be endured. In other cases we had extended our moral support and sympathy to nations struggling for their independence; the Italians, the Poles, the Hungarians, and the Greeks had had from us moral support, and sometimes material assistance; and surely these 8,000,000 of fellow-Christians, struggling for independence and actuated by a sense of right and a love of freedom, were not to be alone cut off from communication with the civilized world and deprived of all sympathy. To respect an indefensible and illegal blockade could only be accounted for by weakness or timidity, and we had already had abundant proofs that a policy of timidity, of forbearance, and of magnanimity would have little effect on the minds of the 1200 American people. Again and again had demands which would have been conceded to any other nation been refused to us, and again and again had we waived the assertion of our rights sooner than run the risk of war. We ought to consider whether it would not be in our power by a strict assertion of our rights, and of the principles of international law, to do a great and lasting service to the world. It could not be expected that the American Republic would come forth from this struggle as safe herself or as little dangerous to the world as when she entered it; and, while the struggle was proceeding, he would ask, was it nothing to us that torrents of blood should he flowing, and that a fratricidal struggle should be proceeding among such a large portion of the human race? If we could contribute to stay this tide of blood, it might be that hereafter, when they came to their better judgment, the American people would be grateful to us for having saved them from the gulf from which no nation had ever yet emerged without fearful loss.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
My hon. Friend the Member for Galway told us, as one of his reasons for introducing this subject, that it was desirable we should consider this particular question before we next week approach the general principle of maritime international law. I beg to differ from him on that point, and I think it would be far better to lay down some general principle with regard to the general question of the law of blockade as affected by the present circumstances of the world, and the improvements in naval science, before we proceed to make an exceptional case for America. There was a great discrepancy between my hon. Friend's eloquent speech and the poorness of the Motion with which he concluded; but it was still more discordant that, with so little practical interest to bear upon the matter, he should have brought forward a discussion which means nothing more nor less than a war between Great Britain and the United States—for we can hardly suppose that the United States Government will consent to be excepted from the general operation of the law of nations, or to be made a subject on which we might try a new system of international law. If the question before us were of that serious gravity which his conclusions would lead us to suppose, we should not now be discussing it in a quiet debate; we should 1201 have a tumultuous agitation out of doors, and the people, driven by the necessities of their position, would be calling on the Government for some violent action, which we on the one side or the other should be either defending or opposing. But so far from there having been any such impulse, we have everywhere heard of the patience and forbearance of the English people under this great calamity. It will not do for a Motion of this kind to come from a political amateur; it must come from a great political necessity, which as yet does not exist. In the events now taking place in America, I see the best possible chance of a conclusion of the blockade. Let the arms of the North only pursue that triumphant course which they have now commenced, after so many months of careful preparation and statesmanlike strategy—let them occupy New Orleans and the mouths of the Mississippi—and there will no longer be any necessity for a blockade. The legitimate Government of the United States will then open the ports to you. These views may appear sanguine, but they are more probable than those which would lead the Government, departing from the dignified neutrality which it has hitherto maintained, to rush into some act of maniacal fury, and, because certain ports are closed, at once to break through the law of blockade This blockade scarcely appears to me to merit the criticism which has been bestowed on it. It is a blockade mainly by cruisers, assisted by some stationary vessels. This is very different from the blockades of fifty or sixty years ago. The gallant Gentleman opposite (Sir J. Fergusson) says that we have never adopted the principle of blockade by cruisers; but surely he does not mean to say that cruisers had nothing to do with our blockade of the coast of the Continent from Brest to the mouth of the Elbe, which led to the Berlin decree and the retaliatory measure of the Orders in Council? But blockade by cruisers has been altogether altered by the general adoption of steam as a means of transit over the seas, and it has therefore become necessary that the whole question should be investigated, and that the different Powers of Europe should endeavour to come to some agreement on it My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster) showed that the utmost which you could deduce from the statistics was, that the American Government, with a moderate fleet, were not able to blockade 1202 the whole extent of their coast at the same time that they were engaged elsewhere in important naval operations. It is a question of the Government of the United States closing certain of its own ports, and it has done all in its power to make the blockade effective, by the sacrifice of as large a force as it can spare compatible with its other naval operations. It appears to me that the common sense of the question must lead us to the conclusion that this blockade is effective, for this reason if for no other,—that never in history has there been so large a portion of the surface of the earth so entirely excluded from all intercourse with the civilized world as the Southern States of America at the present time. We hear of the difficulty the people have in procuring, not only the heavier articles of commerce, but medicines and the lighter and more luxurious articles, which command fabulous prices in all the cities. We hear melancholy stories of Southern families, residing in Europe, utterly ignorant of the fate of their friends at home, from the impossibility of communicating with them by letter, the whole postal system of the American Government being broken down. To tell us that this blockade is ineffective—by which you mean that the Southern States can as freely communicate with Europe as if no blockade existed—is a view that I cannot conceive how any one can entertain. The effectiveness of the blockade appears to be quite sufficient for the purpose for which it was instituted. I think the hon. Gentleman spoke very harshly of the American Government for closing one entrance of the port of Charleston by artificial means. The effect of such a temporary material obstruction was to carry out and promote the efficacy of the blockade; it certainly did not tell in the contrary direction. The American Government wished to employ some of its ships elsewhere, and made this temporary material obstruction part of its operations, by the right of war, and I think there has been some very exaggerated misunderstanding of this matter. It has never appeared that the obstruction is intended to be other than temporary; and we might as well find fault with the Russian Government for sinking its ships before the harbour of Sebastopol, as with the American Government for placing this temporary barrier, which will be necessarily swept away by the action of the rivers 1203 on the alluvial soil in a very few years. The difficulty for me in this matter is, to perceive the animus of this Motion; because my hon. Friend knows very well that he cannot provoke Her Majesty's Government by this Motion to undertake anything so desperate as to make a forcible attack on the navy of America, or by breaking the blockade, commit an act of hostility against a friendly nation. It appears to me, that the Motion is really intended to discredit as much as possible our relations with the Government of the Northern States. But that I hope it will not succeed in doing; because I believe our relations with that Government have been conducted, during the last twelve months under circumstances of considerable difficulty with great wisdom and moderation, and, at the same time, with every due regard for the dignity of the English people. And I trust Her Majesty's Government will not diverge from that course, but that it will pursue it to the end; and I am not one of those who believe the end is very far off. I have never brought myself to believe that there are not many men—that there are not multitudes of men—in the Southern States who, in saner moments, after the violence of a party triumph is over, will see the difference between belonging to one of the first empires of the world, and sinking to a condition hardly superior to that of the Spanish Republican States of South America. Notwithstanding a the violence and agitation of the hour, I believe there are thousands of men in the Southern Confederacy upon whom this consideration will have weight. I have always regarded a disruption of the American Union as a great calamity for the world, believing, with De Tocqueville, that it would do more to destroy political liberty and arrest the progress of mankind than any other event that can possibly be imagined. That disruption has taken place, and the conflict has been defined as a struggle for independence on one side and dominion on the other. I do not know that this is quite true. I do not know how the independence of the South can be greater than it was before, when it was part of one of the first Powers of the world, and not only part of it, but actually predominant in it. Nor can I see how it can be called a fight for empire on the part of the North, when the only terms it has required of the South are that it shall again send its representatives to Congress, where, if they are a majority, they may 1204 govern, as they governed before. Let the people of this country remember, that if this contest has been caused by the institution of slavery, it was England who first transported the African race to America; and it does not become us to taunt Americans, in their hour of trial, with having slavery among them. The Americans are our fellow-countrymen; I shall always call them so; I see in them our own character, reproduced with all its merits and all its defects. They are as vigorous, as industrious, as presumptuous, as powerful, as honest and truthful as ourselves; and I can never, for a moment, disassociate the fortunes of Great Britain from the fortunes of the United States of America.
said, he would endeavour to confine himself as closely as possible to the subject of the blockade. The case of the screw steamer Bermuda had been referred to by the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster), and it was said she had run the blockade in a dark and stormy night; but what was the fact? He had a letter in his pocket from a gentleman who came passenger by the Bermuda, and it stated that she had left Savannah on the 5th of November, 1861, about half-past three p.m. The weather was fine and clear. She carried no lights, but was accompanied by a small Confederate steamer which did carry lights and could have been seen. It was notorious that the ship would leave port, and the Northern papers averred that she would be seized as soon as she did so; yet she went to sea without any interruption whatever. The same gentleman offered to furnish the names of 600 vessels and their owners which had passed out of the Southern ports since this paper blockade was nominally established. The original of that letter he had himself sent to the noble Earl the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, offering to supply, through his friend, the names of the vessels and their owners. So much for the case of the Bermuda and the statements of the passenger by her in regard to the efficiency of the blockade. He had that morning a call from three gentlemen who arrived on Tuesday last from the Southern States. They too had run the blockade; there was no difficulty in their way; they saw no blockading squadron nor Federal ships—and the captain of the steamer by which they came passengers had run in and out of Charleston port twenty times since the blockade was announced, about 1205 the middle of May. The Mercantile Weekly Reporter stated that of a list of vessels trading regularly between Cuba and the Southern ports, ninety-five had run the blockade. But, putting aside these statements, let them look at the facts of the ease as given in these papers. By the Declaration of Paris in 1856 a blockade must be effective—that is, it must be maintained by a force sufficient to prevent access to the coast of the country blockaded. It might be said that the American Government had not been parties to that Declaration. But they had long acknowledged and maintained the principles which were laid down at Paris. Over and over again they had declared that they would not respect a blockade unless it were effective—so effective as to prevent access not to the ports but to the coasts of the enemy; they not only acknowledged, but acted upon these opinions; and if we unfortunately were thrown into war with any other country, he knew no nation that would compel us to maintain that principle so rigidly as America. Earl Russell, in his despatch—a most illogical one—said, "although a sufficient blockading force is stationed off those ports, various ships have successfully eluded the blockade." But, if the force was sufficient, how could various ships have eluded it? His Lordship added, that assuming the blockade to be duly notified, "and also that a number of ships is stationed and remains at the entrance of a port, sufficient really to prevent access to it, or to create an evident danger of entering or leaving it," the fact "that various ships may have successfully escaped through it will not of itself prevent the blockade from being an effective one by international law." Here were embodied two entirely different principles—one according with the Declaration of Paris—namely, that there must be a sufficient number of ships to prevent access; and the other according with the old law, of which everybody complained—namely, that the creation of "an evident danger of entering or leaving" was sufficient. Now, for what purpose did the Paris Conference meet but to get rid of the uncertainty and inconvenience arising from the enforcement of this latter proposition? What was "an evident danger?" Suppose a British ship was going to Wilmington, Savannah, or Charleston, and that only one blockading vessel was maintained along that line of coast, perhaps 1206 200 miles in extent—did the Government mean to say that one such cruiser would constitute an effective blockade there? The British ship would undoubtedly encounter "an evident danger" of capture even from that one ship; but if an effective blockade could be created in this way, then the Declaration of Paris was a deception and a snare, and great injustice was inflicted on the fair trader. The Consuls, who were impartial witnesses, bore repeated testimony to the ineffectiveness of the blockade. Commander Lyons, in his reports to Admiral Milne, had made similar statements; and this officer, writing on December the 24th, had officially announced the startling and disreputable fact that—The Federal Government, with a view of closing the passages, have sunk a number of vessels laden with stones off the harbours of Charleston and Savannah.He (Mr. Lindsay) contended that the sinking of the "stone fleet" at Charleston and Savannah was in itself the strongest admission from no less an authority than the Federal Government, that these ports were not effectively blockaded; but, under any circumstances, it must be said to their eternal disgrace, that repudiating the great principles of humanity, and in violation of every law human or divine, the Northeners thus closed harbours which were given by God for the good of mankind and the preservation of life along that stormy coast. Every act showed that the blockade was not an ineffective one, while the intermissions, as appeared by the papers presented to Parliament, had been frequent; so much so that if any British ship had been captured and condemned during the time when the American Government were proclaiming that a blockade existed, he hoped that the owners would bring their case under the notice of the English Government, and that they would demand compensation. He was anxious to avoid war, and disliked the expenditure which war entailed, but there was a duty which we owed to ourselves to discharge. It was his desire that we should maintain an impartial neutrality in the lamentable dissensions now raging between North and South, but he contended that we had a right to remonstrate and to interfere when our interests were so seriously affected by these paper blockades. A great injustice was thus being inflicted upon our commerce, and the Federal Government ought to be informed that unless the blockades 1207 were really efficient we could not respect them. There was one important question upon which he wished to elicit some opinion from the Government—the question of the recognition of the Southern States. When were those 10,000,000 people to be considered competent to govern themselves? What principles guided the English Government in their recognition of the independence of a people. The Southern States of America comprised a vast territory. As far as we could judge, all that they had done had been done constitutionally. They had a Congress elected by the votes of the people; a Government and a President had been chosen; and events showed that they had no common army. The noble Lord the Foreign Secretary had, in alluding to Italy, expressed sympathy for brave men struggling in defence of their liberties, and declared that the Italians were the best judges of their own liberties. Now, this was exactly the case of the Southern States. If the Italians had a right to take up arms to free themselves from a Government under which they could not live happily, why had not the 8,000,000 or 10,000,000 people of the Southern States the same right? If the Americans of 1784 had a right to rebel against the mother country, surely the Southern States had a still greater right to free themselves from merely Federal obligations to the Northern States. Two-thirds of the exports from all the States, when united, consisted of the produce of the South. Those exports were paid for, as a general rule, by imports. The imports, to a large extent, came from England, and the duties levied upon them had been heavy and increasing in the interest of the Northern States. It was said that the Northern States had always been friendly towards England; but that feeling had not been exhibited in many of their acts, and certainly not in their tariff. In 1857 the duty upon pig iron was 24 per cent. now it was 50 per cent. while the Confederate States duty was 10 per cent. Upon bar iron the Northern States had increased the duty from 24 per cent to 60 per cent. Upon railroad iron the increase was from 24 per cent to 50 per cent. Was it surprising that 10,000,000 of people in the South were indisposed to bear these burdens for the special benefit of the manufacturing North? Much had been said about slavery, and he could be no friend to slavery as an institution; 1208 but when two of the most distinguished Federal generals talked about liberating the slaves, they were immediately recalled. Surely, the people of this country were not to be deceived by the representations now made by many people in the North in regard to this question. When a member of the Cabinet, Mr. Cameron, happened at a public meeting to express himself in favour of giving freedom to the slaves, it will be remembered that he got a strong hint from Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Seward, which resulted in his being turned out of the Cabinet. The fact was that nine out of ten men in the North had no desire to see slavery abolished, and a political necessity alone forced many now to raise the cry of abolition. Looking at the tariff and the conduct of the North in the Trent affair—for no one believed that, had it not been for the firm attitude of the noble Lord, the two Commissioners would ever have been given up—looking at these facts, it was difficult to see any manifestation of friendly feeling towards this country. What, indeed, were the arguments now used? At this moment they say, "When we are again united, then we will pay off England, and we will never rest until the whole continent of America is ours." If we indulged in any sympathies, surely they should be for the weaker and the oppressed party; and our "neutrality," if maintained, ought to be strict and impartial. He would put it to the Government, whether, if the South had had the power to establish such a blockade of the Northern ports as the North had established in the South, they would have respected such a blockade? He feared not. They would have said, "We must stand by the Declaration of Paris." But the South was the weaker Power, and so the blockade of their ports is considered sufficient. If this country did not interfere, but allowed this horrible bloodshed to continue without a prospect of termination—for no one who had visited the States could believe that there would be an end until both parties were prostrate—let us be just and impartial. At present the South had not the same justice dispensed to them by us as the North. All the despatches from the Federal Government were published, but not so those from the South. The South ought to have the same opportunity of stating their case, to enable this House and the country to judge between the two parties. Let it also be remembered that the South were acting 1209 on the defensive, and were not aggressive, for if they had been aggressive, they would have entered Washington the day after Manassas. They were defending themselves; and he believed no army that the North could bring against them would force the people of the South back to the Union. It was remarkable that the South had never been defeated in the field, except when the enemy had the assistance of iron gunboats. If, in conclusion, our policy is to be a strict neutrality, let the Government call upon the Federal Government to make the blockade a real and an effective blockade in accordance with the Declaration of Paris, and not such a blockade as is now maintained at so serious a loss to this country.
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said,*—Sir, it is one of the inconveniences of a discussion in this House upon such a Motion as that brought forward by the hon. Member for Galway—a Motion for papers, tendering no definite proposition—it is no slight inconvenience that the discussion inevitably introduces every kind of acrimonious and irritating topic, which can wound the susceptibilities of either of the parties to the unhappy contest which has arisen in America, and which we ail deplore. Hon. Gentlemen giving way to sympathies—for which I do not blame them, although their expression in this House is unfortunate—rake up and bring forward every word that may have given offence, every word that may be open to just censure or criticism, which Mr. Seward or any other Member of the Federal Government may have used. Hon. Gentlemen propound their views in favour of the recognition of the independence of the Southern States, and in the same breath declare themselves advocates of strict impartiality; while they cannot be ignorant that if that question were prematurely and precipitately decided before the course of events has justified such a policy, it would be an act wholly inconsistent with the neutrality which we profess to observe. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. Lindsay) has said that, after all, he is an advocate for strict neutrality. He will pardon me if I cannot pay him the compliment of saying that the spirit of his speech was the spirit of strict neutrality. But I pass that by, and I agree with the hon. Gentleman—this House will, I am satisfied, agree, I know the country also agrees—that, as we have professed a strict, honest, and impartial 1210 neutrality in the beginning, so it is our bounden duty to persevere in that neutrality. I do not for a moment hesitate to accept the test of the hon. Gentleman, who says that we must deal with the North as we should have done in similar circumstances with the South. But how should we deal either with the North or South? We should remember their position, their difficulties, their trials; we should use towards them the words and adopt towards them the acts of a generous and disinterested forbearance, recollecting that if anything is said or done by them that might justly wound our susceptibilities or be fairly open to exception of any kind, it is done and said under the most trying circumstances in which a great nation was ever placed. We should, Sir, set aside and discard from our minds everything that can irritate or disturb a dispassionate and sympathizing judgment—a judgment sympathizing as far as may be with their misfortunes and difficulties, and earnestly anxious that we may do what is right and just ourselves, and that we may as soon as possible see peace restored to them and to the world.
Sir, I will come to the particular question which the hon. Member for Galway has raised, avoiding the other topics into which some who have preceded me have thought fit to enter. Upon what principles ought Great Britain to judge this question of the blockade to which the present Motion refers? Great Britain must judge that question according to her own principles; according to the principles of international law which her great jurists have laid down, upon which she has heretofore always acted, and which have also been the recognised and common principles of the United States themselves, before their disruption, as much as those of England. Sir, until the late unhappy events, that country had the good fortune to bring forth great jurists, men whose works are known throughout Europe as laying down with candour and with learning, with accuracy and truth, the acknowleged principles of international law. Those great jurists, at all events, standing apart as they and as their country did from the passions and prejudices which might perhaps inflame against England some Continental minds, have borne this testimony to the law recognised by the decisions of our Judges on the subject of blockade. The House 1211 will permit me to read this extract which I have made from Chancellor Kent—The judicial decisions in England and in this country have given great precision to the law of blockade, by the application of it to particular cases, and by the extent, and clearness, and equity of their illustrations. They are distinguished, likewise, for general coincidence and harmony in their principles.I am content, Sir, to set that testimony against 'whatever aspersions may have been cast on this country—on her practice, or on the law as laid down by her—by a French gentleman of acknowledged learning and eminence no doubt, but one whose fairness and impartiality are as little to be relied on as those of any authority of equal eminence ever were. I did not expect to hear the hon. Member for Galway bring forward, for the purpose of stating that he did not adopt them, the views of M. d'Hautefeuille with respect to increasing the strictness and severity of the law of blockade, or all his imputations upon England for acting uniformly upon a system of paper blockade. Why, my hon. Friend knows that to such an extent does national bias affect that writer's mind, that even with the dates and facts before his eyes he did not hesitate to state and write that the Milan and Berlin decrees of Napoleon were retaliations for the paper blockades of Great Britain. The House is well aware that the Berlin decree preceded the first of our Orders in Council; that those decrees were issued on the 21st of November, 1806, and the 26th December, 1807, whereas our Orders in Cuoncil were not issued till January and November, 1807, and bore on the face of them that they were only measures of retaliation, resorted to because the French Government had thought fit to declare all the ports of this country under blockade, at a time when the vessels of France herself were prevented from leaving any of their own ports by the superiority of our maritime force. I hope that we shall not be expected to conform our judgment or conduct in this or any similar matter to the suggestions of that writer. He says that you have a paper blockade in America, and that England, the universal patroness of paper blockades, connives at and supports it, doubtless with a view to her own advantage in future times. Sir, I shall be able to satisfy the House that England is doing nothing inconsistent with her previous practice and principles, or with the principles of settled interna- 1212 tional law. But I can well understand that the writer to whom I refer may think that it might be extremely convenient, in the event of possible contingencies happening hereafter, which he, perhaps, may deem more desirable than I believe the Government of his own country does, that England in the time of confidence and security should, Samson-like, give up the secret of her strength and let her locks be shorn. I can understand that he may think it very convenient that we should make ourselves parties to newfangled notions and interpretations of international law which might make it impossible for us effectively at some future day to institute any blockade, and so destroy our naval superiority—that great arm of our independence and safety. Sir, we do not wish to maintain or increase that superiority by any illegitimate means. We will not have one rule for the time when we are belligerents and another for the time when we are neutrals. We have always condemned that course in others, and we will not adopt it ourselves. But most assuredly Monsieur d'Hautefeuille is right in this—that England has as strong an interest as any Power in the world in understanding well what she is about, when she is invited to take a step that may hereafter be quoted against herself, and may make it impossible for her, with honour or consistency, to avail herself of her superiority at sea.
What are the clear and recognised principles of the law of blockade? Some hon. Gentlemen have spoken as if the doctrine to be found in jurists were, that unless the force be so effective and be so maintained that no ship can possibly run the blockade without permission, there is no blockade at all. It is needless to tell the House that, if that were so, there never has been a blockade since the world began, and there probably never will be. Why, every definition which the hon. Member for Galway quoted, commencing with those of the armed neutrality of 1780, which he wished us to imitate, stopped short of going the length, or anything like the length, which this argument assumes. They were content to go as far as saying that the blockade should be such as to make access to the port apparently dangerous. Again, the convention of 1801 between Great Britain and Russia used that very expression of evident danger in entering, which the hon. Gentleman who spoke last thought Earl Russell 1213 was wrong in using in his despatch, and regarded as a departure from the Declaration of Paris. As to the Declaration of Paris, I was very much surprised to hear what fell from the hon. Member. He said, and said truly, in one breath, that Mr. Dallas himself had stated to Lord Clarendon on the 24th of February, 1857, that "the fourth of these principles respecting blockades had long since become a fixed rule of the law of war." Then Mr. Dallas understood it as nothing new, as going no further, and as not falling short of that which was previously held to be the law of nations. But in another breath the hon. Gentleman said, if no change was made by the Paris Declaration, what was the use of that declaration?—you are reducing it to a nullity. And he forgets that if it did make any change, on the face of that declaration it is provided—what, indeed, it was hardly necessary to provide—that it was not to be deemed binding on any Power which was not a party, or did not accede, to it. The hon. Member stated that Mr. Dallas said his Government adopted it; but Mr. Dallas only said that they understood it in the sense in which it was, no doubt, understood by all the Powers—a sense coincident with and not travelling beyond the true and established principles of international law. What are the essentials involved in a legal blockade? There must be a bonâ fide blockade by a force sufficient to maintain it on the spot, and there must also be a sufficient notification of some kind or other of that blockade. These are the two principles. Whatever may be found in some writers not now of recent date, it is perfectly clear that we have no exact technical definition of what constitutes such a sufficient force. You cannot à priori lay down what particular number of frigates or other ships of war shall be an adequate force in any hypothetical case. The improvements in modern warfare, the introduction of steam, or any other similar change, may have made sufficient or insufficient now means of blockade which were not so before. But what from the beginning of this century has been laid down as the test in this matter? Why, in the first place, that of "evident danger"; and then, that due credit must be given to the judgment of the naval officers intrusted with the execution of the service. Sir William Grant, sitting in the Privy Council on appeal in 1809, re- 1214 versed the judgment of a Vice Admiralty Court in a case which involved that express rule. The port of Trinity, in Martinique, had been under blockade, and the Vice Admiralty Court had released a vessel taken for breach of the blockade, on the ground that it had been maintained by only a single frigate, and even that frigate had been occasionally absent in order to keep up her communication with another blockading force at a neighbouring station a few miles distant. It was held, that the naval officer was a competent judge of the force required to maintain the blockade in an adequate manner; and that unless it appeared that he either in fact raised the blockade, or acted malâ fide so as to create the impression that it was raised, the mere fact that there was only one ship, and that under the circumstances I have mentioned she was occasionally absent, was not a reason for holding that a blockade did not exist; and a vessel that had broken the blockade was accordingly given up to the captors. I do not say that the naval officers are or ought to be the conclusive and final judges; but, at all events, in the first instance they are not only competent, but they are the ordinary judges.
Then, with regard to the question of intermission, there is a matter which seems to have been entirely lost sight of in some of the observations made in the course of this discussion—that, after a blockade has been intermitted, it may be resumed; and when it is resumed, as soon as persons have knowledge of the fact, whether by formal notification of the renewal or otherwise, it becomes as binding again, so far as those persons are concerned, as if it had not been intermitted. It is only during the period of intermission, or as to ships which come in, or intended to come in, during the period of intermission, or which may be affected with notice of the original blockade only, and not of the renewal, that the fact of intermission has any effect. That is a point which is also well settled by various authorities, and about which there can be no doubt whatever, as it has been the uniform practice. A great deal has been said to night from which one might infer, that this question ought to be looked at as if the blockade of the whole coast of America were one single thing, and as if, with the absence of sufficient force on any single point, the whole blockade was gone. There is not the least foundation 1215 for that idea. It may be quite true—in fact, it is clear from the papers—that there were many parts at which from the first, or at least during considerable periods, the blockade was not efficiently maintained. But if there were some parts which were blockaded, the blockade was perfectly good as to those places, although with regard to other points of the coast it could not be said to exist. I wonder that my hon. Friend the Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory), in referring to Chancellor Kent's work, did not perceive that there was another passage connected with one which he read. It is there stated—The investing Power must be able to place its force at every point of the blockaded place, so as to render it dangerous to attempt to enter …. There is no blockade of that part where its power cannot be brought to bear.With regard to relaxation, I have made one observation already. It is also necessary to bear in mind that there are many and not inconsiderable or unimportant relaxations which may exist without vitiating a blockade, except as to those ships in favour of which it may have been relaxed. I will refer to one or two instances which occurred in our own war. There was the case of the blockade of the Elbe and Weser, in the years 1804 and 1806, which, being prior to the Berlin and Milan Decrees, was instituted before any extraordinary practices of blockade arose. The Government of this country allowed the Hanse Towns to carry on a trade in small vessels, over the Watten or Flats, with the blockaded ports. The blockading Power may always give special permission to come in, by passes; and, of course, it is a stronger thing to permit a ship to enter than to be merely eluded by one which has no permission. It was held that the relaxation in favour of the Hanse Towns did not vitiate that blockade. That may have been right or wrong; I will offer no argument about it; but, when such cases have occurred in our own practice, and have been decided by our own Courts, we ought to be very careful how we interfere in a high-handed and extraordinary way with blockades carried on by other Powers, only because they may not have been rigorously enforced. The material distinction, to be found in the decisions, is between such relaxations of blockade as would naturally have the effect of leading merchants and shipowners, acting bonâ fide, to believe 1216 that the blockade was at an end, and such as might not have that effect. If any blockading force had so conducted itself as to produce the impression on those concerned that the blockade was at an end, then the blockade could not be any longer treated as subsisting, unless regularly renewed, with a new and independent notice to neutrals. That was determined in the case of the Rolla, well known to those versed in such subjects, which was decided in the time of Lord Stowell. But in the case of a sufficient force continuing on the spot, even if there should be great and culpable remissness in enforcing the blockade, it by no means necessarily follows that the blockade is at an end, unless the tendency of the acts done is to create a reasonable belief that such blockade no longer exists. The particular ships and vessels allowed during that time to go in cannot be treated as having broken the blockade, though in other respects it may be held to be effective. A most remarkable case in point occurred during the blockade of Havre in the years 1798 and 1799. Public notification was given on the 8th of February, 1798, that there would be a rigorous blockade of that port, and vessels of competent force were despatched for the purpose of establishing it. From some cause which does not appear, and which I am not able to explain, the commanders of that force were so very remiss in the execution of their duty, that not only during that year, but during the greater part of the next year, 1799, they continually and habitually let ships go in, so that practically it might almost have been said that there was no blockade. But still the ships continued there, and the notification was held to have remained in force. Under these circumstances the question was whether neutrals were entitled to hold that the blockade was raised? What was the decision of the Courts here? They decided that the ships which had been allowed to go in could not be confiscated for breach of the blockade; but they also held not only that the blockade was in force as to other ships generally, but that neutral merchants, who loaded cargoes on board the very ships which were allowed to go in were to forfeit their cargoes, because they loaded them with knowledge of the blockade, and without any knowledge that the ships would be permitted to go in. That decision illustrates, in a very remarkable manner, the danger of acting in contra- 1217 vention of a blockade, even though there may have been intentional and culpable neglect on the part of the officers in command of the blockading force. Again, I am not going to argue whether this decision was given rightly or wrongly—that is a question for a Prize Court, and not one for our Government to argue, in the first instance at all events, with the Government of another country. But it shows how such cases have boon determined in the courts of this country; and their decision forms part of the series on which Chancellor Kent pronounced the eulogium I have road.
That being all I think necessary to state to the House with regard to the bearing of the question on the principles of international law as determined in this country, let me ask the House now to consider what our duty was when the blockade was first announced. It was, I think undoubtedly the duty of the Government of this country to take care that our ships and property were not exposed to jeopardy upon any assumption by the Government of the United States of powers not recognised by the principles of international law. If we had found them claiming the right to establish a mere paper blockade, and to set at nought the rules and principles of the law of nations, then, undoubtedly, it would have been our duty to protest against that line of conduct, and, if necessary, by all just means to resist it. But what was the fact? Did the President, in his proclamation declaratory of this blockade, announce any intention of setting aside the law of nations? Quite the contrary. He said the ports should be blockaded in pursuance of the laws of the United States—with which we have nothing to do—"and of the law of nations; and for this purpose a competent force will be posted so as to prevent the entrance and exit of vessels from the ports aforesaid." Whether that promise was fulfilled or not, there is evidently no assumption in that proclamation of the right to establish a paper blockade, nor any indication of an intention to violate the law of nations. In order to make assurance more secure, Lord John Russell took an opportunity of holding a conversation with Mr. Adams on that subject. What did Mr. Adams say? He assured the noble Lord "that it was by no means the intention of the United States Government to institute a paper blockade, a measure against which they had always protested." At all events, 1218 then, this Government was not in a position to assume that the law of nations would be set aside, that a mere paper blockade would be attempted, or that the right to institute such would be insisted on. Whether the blockade has been efficiently maintained or not, it is perfectly clear the profession was uniformly made that the requirements of international law would be complied with. Notice of the blockade of each port was to be given, due time was to be allowed for the ships to go out; and when the Herald was taken in her way to a port clearly not blockaded by any force, representations were made by Lord Lyons to Mr. Seward, and Mr. Seward immediately said the ship should be restored. It is quite true that promise was not acted on; but the reason assigned was irrelevant altogether to this discussion. The United States Government declared that they had good reason to believe the ship was owned by Confederate citizens, and not by British subjects; and, of course, if that were so, wherever the ship was taken, without reference to the law of blockade, the Government of the United States would have a right to bring her into court, and have her confiscated. But in the discussions between the United States Government and Lord Lyons, although propositions which were untenable may sometimes have been advanced, it was never contended for a moment that any other than the recognized principles of the law of nations were to be applied to this blockade. If that be so, what is the course which the British Government ought to take? I am quite willing to admit, that if it had been perfectly clear that, under a profession of consulting international law, the system adopted had in all respects deviated from it, and could not be reconciled with an honest intention to fulfil that profession, then I do not deny that the Government of this country might have been entitled to deal with the subject in the same way as if an open departure from those principles had been avowed and expressed. But on what is the opinion of this country to be formed? It can only be formed on the reports of its consular and naval officers. And, speaking generally, what is the result of these reports? That, though in certain places, and at certain times there was either no blockade at all, or very great remissness in enforcing the blockade, there was at other times and in other places, and in some places at all times, a 1219 strict enforcement of the blockade. Coming, then, to time, place, degree, and circumstances, we should have to determine the case of every vessel that may be affected by the blockade, according to the time, place, degree, and circumstances.
I will not, after the very interesting and able speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, trouble the House at as much length as I otherwise might have done on the circumstances attending the different breaches of blockade set down in the returns. My hon. Friend took up the lists of the vessels that were said to have run the blockade. He showed that there were not more than from thirteen to sixteen cases of anything like running the blockade; and that in all these cases, with, I believe, a single exception, the vessels belonged to Confederate or United States owners. That is a most satisfactory and conclusive statement, and relieves me from any necessity of giving an analysis of these figures and facts, to which no answer has been given, and to which I am satisfied no answer will be given. But what were the reports which the Government of this country received from their Consuls and from the officers employed in cruising for the purpose of acquiring an accurate knowledge of the facts? I can assure the House that there has been no remissness on the part of this country. All the time since the blockade was announced, officers most competent for the service have been cruising about by the various ports to see how this blockade has been enforced; and the Consuls at every port were ordered to send home all the particulars of which they could obtain a knowledge. With respect to the Gulf of Mexico, we have the report of our officers on the 23rd of July, and again on the 4th of September, to the effect that the blockade had been enforced by a sufficient force at all the ports of that Gulf. With regard to the particular port which my hon. Friend the member for Galway admits to have been efficiently blockaded—I mean New Orleans—I cannot help reminding the House, that the hon. Member for Bradford proved a very considerable proportion of the ships which were paraded by my hon. Friend as having run the blockade, to have come from that very port of New Orleans. From Galveston we have a report extending from the 22nd of July to the 30th of October. It states that port to have been so strictly blockaded that there was no possibility of 1220 anything getting out, with the exception of small craft drawing not more than six feet of water, and that they could only get out at night, and by a back way. My hon. Friend the Member for Galway did not feel that his case was very strong in in the Gulf of Mexico; but he seemed to think that it was strong when he came to Savannah. I confess I thought we were going to have heard more from him about Savannah than we did. He referred to Consul Fullerton's report of the 11th of October, in which, undoubtedly, the Consul speaks of some relaxation having then lately taken place. But what is the tenor of Consul Fullerton's reports as to Savannah before that time? Why, that from the 10th of June to the 8th of September, at all events, the port of Savannah, properly so called, was so strictly blockaded, that only one ship had got in.
Then, as to Charleston; that is the place in respect of which the strongest case seems to be made against the blockade by Mr. Bunch, a very efficient Consul. I must observe that he reported what he had heard from a distance, and what had been reported to him through a medium that may have been interested in taking a particular view of the matter. Mr. Bunch speaks of very great laxity in enforcing the blockade; but when you come to the facts, as explained in his own letters and the documents accompanying them, you will find that this laxity prevailed along the coast, and not at the port itself of Charleston. We have the Reports of Commander Lyons and Commodore Dunlop, dated the 31st of July and the 26th of September, that the blockade of Charleston was effective. Mr. Bunch himself, in his letters of the 25th of July, the 6th of August, and the 30th of September, admits the blockade to be effective as to large vessels, which could only come to Charleston by the harbour or main channel; he says, however, that the coasting trade, and the navigation by small steamers and other vessels of light draught, went on unmolested through other channels. On the 19th of December Commander Lyons writes, "The squadron at Charleston should be quite sufficient to maintain effectively the blockade of that port; "but, noticing that five or six vessels were said to have lately got in, he adds that "it would appear that the blockade, either intentionally or through want of vigilance, is not effective." Letters were written to the Consuls, at all the 1221 ports, to inquire whether there had been any intentional laxity—any connivance or consent on the part of the Federal commanders to allow vessels to break the blockade. The answer, with a single exception, which I shall mention, was, that there had been nothing of the kind. The single exception is so extraordinary, that I must express my opinion that the fact stated by Mr. Bunch could not be accepted as conclusive without further inquiry. It is, that although no permission had been given to any other ships to go in and out, yet armed steam transports of the Confederate States, carrying munitions of war, had been allowed to go in and out at Charleston, and no attempt made to stop them. That is an extraordinary statement; I will not say what effect it might not have if established; but we have the testimony of the officers of our own cruisers as to the efficiency of the blockade at Charleston during the long period to which their reports refer. There is a circumstance which goes far to explain the inconsistency between these reports and the statement of Mr. Bunch that a very considerable number of ships have gone in and out—that the coasting trade of the country and some portion of the steam communication with the port have been continued. It is explained by the nature of the coast; and this applies to Savannah, as well as Charleston. It appears that although large vessels could not get to either of these places except by the regular ports, still there are a great number of small bays and lagoons along the coast, with inland rivers and creeks, by means of which vessels of small draught are enabled to reach Savannah or Charleston without entering the ports; so that the ports of these towns are not by any means the only communications between the towns themselves and the sea.
Would it be maintained that there is no real blockade of Savannah or Charleston unless you cut off all communication of this kind so as to prevent small vessels of from 50 to 300 tons finding their way to those towns? There are lagoons and rivers of this character along the coast to a considerable distance north of Charleston, and the same thing occurs to the South. Mr. Bunch, in his letter of the 25th of July, describes some of the vessels which he mentions as having come in by the South and North Edisto Rivers, and others by Bull's Bay, keeping within shore from those points, and never coming 1222 out into the open sea. The North Edisto River is twenty miles southward from Charleston Harbour; the South Edisto is ten miles further; and Bull's Bay, to the north of Charleston, is equally or more distant. Unless, therefore, you maintain that there can be no efficient blockade of Charleston without cutting off all access of small vessels to some seventy or eighty miles of coast offering facilities for reaching that town by those indirect passages, and unless at Savannah it can be deemed indispensable to cover the whole long line of entrances among the Sea Islands, I do not think that even Mr. Bunch's statements made out the case which my hon. Friend the Member for Galway wishes to prove.
I am not going to say a word that could prejudice any ship which, during the intermission of the blockade, or without having received proper notice of an existing blockade, or in a case where there may never have been a blockade, or in the port of Savannah or that of Charleston—where the circumstances are so peculiar—may have done any act which may call for the decision of a Prize Court; I am not going to make any observation which could prejudice the consideration which any such ease should receive. But this I do say, that no one could have heard the facts stated to-night by my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford without perceiving that there is a multitude of particular questions in this case, varying according to circumstances, which bring us to the consideration of what is the established course of dealing with such questions, according to the known and recognised law of nations. Nothing is better known than that, if a belligerent State is acting bonâ fide to maintain a blockade with such force as it may think sufficient and in such a manner as it may think right, neutral Powers must await patiently the decision of the Prize Courts be fore which any of their ships may be taken for an alleged infringement of the blockade. More than that, the parties aggrieved are bound to go before the court of appeal, before they can invoke the interference of their own Government, if the first decision is contrary to what they think right. However, if in the court of ultimate appeal some flagrant and indisputable wrong has been done—some principle of the law of nations disregarded—undoubtedly the country aggrieved is not bound by that decision, but has 1223 a right to demand restitution and compensation for the individuals ill-treated by the decision of the Prize Court. That is the ordinary law of nations. It is not a question whether a neutral country shall dictate belligerent operations to a belligerent nation, but whether in every particular case justice or injustice shall be done to the subject of a neutral Government.
I did not gather from the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Galway what it is that my hon. Friend thinks that we ought to do. The nearest approach to distinctness that I perceived was when my hon. Friend alluded to an armed neutrality. I infer, so far as I can infer anything, that my hon. Friend thinks this country ought to dictate to the United States the manner in which the belligerent operations shall be carried on, instead of allowing particular cases to be carried before the Prize Courts to be dealt with in the ordinary course of international law. But that dictation, if not accepted, will establish, on the contrary, an armed neutrality, you will have to send armed cruisers as convoy with your merchant vessels, and you will break through and destroy the obstacles that the United States Government have interposed to trade with the blockaded ports. What would that state of things be? Sir, I say it would be war. An armed neutrality of any kind is a species of war, and not the most honourable, because it is not avowed. But such an armed neutrality has never been heard of in the history of the world, not even in the days of Catherine of Russia or the mad Emperor Paul. An armed neutrality, by which a Government would break through the blockading force that was besieging a country, would set at nought all the usages of nations. It would be doing a hostile act at the point of the sword, not at the peril of war, but with war as its necessary consequence. It might, indeed, possibly happen as has been shadowed out in this debate, that the country whose rights were so invaded, and in regard to which international law had been so roughly set aside might be labouring under such difficulty and depression as to be unable at that time to do what any high-spirited nation, unless borne down to the earth, would naturally do—namely, to resent such aggression by force of arms. But if, at that precise moment, that country should be unable to resent the offence, do you thing it would ever be forgotten—that friendly relations 1224 would ever be again established with such a country?
I am sure that I speak the sentiments of the House and the country when I say that under no circumstances—not even under such circumstances as have lately threatened us—could there be a more grievous and painful thing for Great Britain than to engage in war with the United States. They are men of the same blood, language, and religion, the children of our forefathers, who are united to us by all the bonds that unite man and man together. Even in the holiest cause, and on the most necessary occasion—even on such an occasion as that which lately seemed imminent—we should enter on such a contest with feelings such as I cannot describe. And I venture to say, that, if on a late occasion we had been forced to enter upon that contest, although we might have had no alternative—for we were not the aggressors, and we could not have declined it without giving up the most sacred duties of a nation, and proving ourselves unworthy to be the depository of the power we possess—the deep and bitter feelings that such a contest would occasion under any circumstances would not have been without their aggravation, in the reflection, that it might be imputed to us that, after having made such sacrifices as we have done for the sake of liberty, we were obliged to find ourselves in active cooperation with a country which, perhaps, without the fault of the present generation, is still one of the last strongholds of slavery. And there would, if possible, have been a more bitter aggravation still; for if we had been compelled to meet our brethren of the United States in arms, we should have desired to meet them as generous enemies on a fair and open field, but we should have been obliged to meet them with their hands tied down, overburdened with the weight of a domestic calamity. If, however, it had been necessary in that case, they would have created the necessity; and we could have looked Europe and the world in the face, and calmly appealed to the verdict of our own age and posterity, knowing that our course, as it had been without fear, was also without reproach. But how would it have been, if, for the sake of any selfish objects, for any mercenary or interested motives—if to provide ourselves with cotton and to meet our own difficulties arising incidentally out of their misfortunes—how would it have been if, for the 1225 purpose of consulting and considering our own interests, we had been the first to break the recognised usages of established law—the first to say that the United States as a belligerent Power should not exercise all belligerent rights in the ordinary manner, because we wanted cotton? If we had taken such a course, we should not have been able to look in the face Europe or the world; we should not have been able to appeal to the verdict of our own age and of posterity. Would any Government presiding over the destinies of this country be capable of entertaining such a policy? If there were any such Government, a power even stronger than the Government would prevent it. Who have been the great sufferers here by the loss of that trade which has been so unhappily interrupted? The artisans and manufacturers of Lancashire—the constituents of my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford. Have they demanded this; has my hon. Friend the Member for Galway spoken under their inspiration; No! They have set an example worthy of the noble people to whom they belong, and have shown that justice and virtue, honour and patience, are better esteemed among those classes that suffer most from such calamities, than any objects of personal interest which they could gain from provoking an unjust and unnecessary war.
Sir, the Government of this country has been actuated by the same spirit. It has desired firmly to maintain our rights, but to do so according to the recognised usages of nations; to be consistently and strictly neutral towards both belligerents, not encroaching on the belligerent operations of either, nor considering whether our neutrality would more benefit one than the other. It has taken that course, not only because it was consistent with our own true interests, but because it was the course of national honour and consistency, because it was the course of generosity and justice, and because it was the only course consistent with the Divine law that we should do unto others as we would wish others to do to ourselves.
§ LORD ROBERT CECIL
said, he was not surprised that the splendid speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman should be welcomed with such merited approbation, nor was he surprised that the hon. and learned Gentleman should have dropped the word "Court" instead of "House," as the tribunal which he was addressing, since the splendid legal subtleties upon 1226 which the hon. and learned Gentleman had entered must have brought back with them ideas of the familiar atmosphere of a court of law. He felt that he laboured under a great disadvantage in following the hon. and learned Gentleman, whose eloquence was so great, and whose knowledge was so profound; but he thought the hon. and learned Gentleman had unintentionally overlaid some facts which were deserving of consideration. It had been said in another place that if England were involved in war, the first thing she would do would be to retreat from the protocols of Paris. He was sure that if she ever wished to do so, she could not have a better model for the manner in which it could be done than the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman. Not a shred remained of the beneficent provisions of the Treaty, if the law as laid down by the hon. and learned Gentleman was hereafter to guide this country. The first thing the hon. and learned Gentleman had told the House was that the naval officer on a station was to judge whether the force engaged in a blockade was sufficient. But the hon. and learned Gentleman did not stop there. He said that if there was an intermission of the blockade, it could still be resumed without any actual notice at all. But, so far as he remembered, all the writers on international law agreed that the intermission of a blockade was fatal to its efficiency. The hon. and learned Gentleman, however, told the House that a blockading force might go away and return, and that the blockade would, notwithstanding, still be efficient and in force. Let them apply that doctrine practically. According to it a State might blockade the whole coast of England or France with a single cruiser. The cruiser might go from port to port, and although the blockade would be continually intermitted, yet upon the arrival of the vessel at any port it would, without notice, be resumed, and thus the trade of neutrals might be destroyed. For it was not only damage to the individual trader that was caused by an inefficient blockade; the trader might obtain redress in a Prize Court, or from his own Government; but in the mean time the trade of the country to which he belonged was utterly broken. Merchants were frightened by a blockade, whether legal or illegal, and would not freight to ports against which it was declared. Then the hon. and learned Gentleman went on to say that, because 1227 the President announced Ms intention to conduct the blockade according to the principles of international law, it was our duty to accept that intention as carried out. In reply to that he would call the attention of the House to the extraordinary doctrine which was laid down by Mr. Seward. Mr. Seward, in a letter to lord Lyons, expressed—The dissent of the Government from the position which seems to be assumed in your note, that temporary absence impairs the blockade or renders necessary new notice of its existence. This Government will hold that the blockade took place on the 11th of this month, and will be fully in effect until notice of its relinquishment shall be given by the President of the United States.It was surely not fair to say, that the Government of the United States had avowed their intention to maintain the blockade according to the principles of international law in the face of a statement which directly contradicted those principles. Coming from the hon. and learned Gentleman's law to his facts, he noticed that he skilfully omitted to mention the port in respect of which the most flagrant breaches of international law had occurred—that of Wilmington. That port had only two entrances, and could easily have been guarded. It was one of the most important ports of the South, and if any port ought to have been blockaded, it was the one. On the 29th of July, Captain Bickley reported that the port of Wilmington was not blockaded. Between the 10th and the 31st of August, fourteen vessels entered or cleared from that port. On the 18th of August, Captain Bickley again reported that Wilmington was not blockaded; and on the 28th, Consul Bunch stated that no change had taken place in regard to the ports of North and South Carolina, that the coasting trade continued in full force, and that were large vessels to approach the coast, they could easily enter the blockaded ports. Here, therefore, if at any place, the blockade was not effective. Yet, on the 3rd of August, the British ship Sarah Star sailed from Wilmington, and having, when thirty-two miles at sea, fallen in with a. United States cruiser, was seized and made prize for breaking the blockade. This was duly reported to the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office; but he made no protest or reclamation against this flagrant violation of international law. Yet such cases were reported in English ports, deterred English 1228 merchants from sending goods to the Southern States, and broke down our trade. But this was not the only ship seized under these circumstances. A schooner left Wilmington on the 17th of August, and having been driven by stress of weather to Newport, Rhode Island, was there seized as a prize for having broken the blockade. He did not say that these cases by themselves furnished a reason for going to war; but had the neutrality of which they heard so much been genuine, and had the Government been resolved that the blockade should be carried out according to the protocol of Paris, some protest would have been made against acts so flagrantly illegal. Before these papers were published he believed in the neutrality of the Government; but after a careful study of them it was difficult to continue in that belief. There had been many acts which showed something like sympathy for the Northern States, and a desire to favour them at the expense of their adversaries. The first was the forbidding ships to bring prizes into British ports—a proceeding which it was known would benefit the North and injure the South, because, while the former would have few or no prizes, the latter would probably, by its privateers, take a great many. The next act of the Government was to turn all the ships of war of the belligerents out of the ports of the United Kingdom and its dependencies. This, again, injured the Southern States more than the Northern ones, because their steamers were smaller, and had less stowage for coal. But what made him the most doubt the Government's profession of neutrality was their unwillingness to carry out with respect to the Confederate States of America that principle upon which they had acted with regard to every other revolution which had occurred within the present century. The English Government had always been prone to recognise insurrectionary Powers. It had been its principle that the people should choose their own governors, and that when the will of the people was clearly pronounced the assent of foreign Governments should follow. Upon that principle they acted in the cases of Belgium, Greece, Italy, and the Spanish Colonies in America. In those instances they never inquired into the origin of the quarrel, and never cared to ask whether slavery was or was not practised within the frontiers of the States which they recognised, They 1229 had always recognised States as soon as an independent Government was established within their borders; and the first instance in which they had departed from that principle was in the case of the Confederate States of America. With respect to them we had for the first time heard of supporting legitimate Government and discouraging rebellion; and it seemed to him that if there had not been an obvious bias on the part of the Government, if they had acted with true neutrality, they would not in this instance have departed from the precedents of former times. And this conduct was as unwise as it was inconsistent. The plain matter of fact was, as every one who watched the current of history must know, that the Northern States of America never could be our sure friends, for this simple reason—not merely because the newspapers wrote at each other, or that there were prejudices on both sides, but because we were rivals, rivals politically and rivals commercially. We aspired to the same position. We both aspired to the government of the seas. We were both manufacturing people, and in every port, as well as at every court, we were rivals to each other. England, therefore, could never count on the secure friendship of the United States. A law mightier than her and mightier than they drove the two Powers into constant antagonism. With respect to the Southern States, the case was entirely reversed. Their population were an agricultural people. They furnished the raw material of our industry, and they consumed the products which we manufactured from it. With them, therefore, every interest must lead us to cultivate friendly relations, and we had seen that when the war began they at once recurred to England as their natural ally, and that the Northerners as soon as free from connection with them burst out into a storm of hatred, bitterness, and animosity against this country, such as had never been seen before. We had often been told that it was the Southerners who created the bitterness between England and America; but this fact seemed sufficiently to refute such an allegation. The moment that the Southern statesmen ceased to act as a check upon the Northenr statesmen the latter gave free vent to their natural feelings, and selected England as the object of all their hostility, and surpassed in abuse all that we had experienced before. It seemed to him that we were giving way to the 1230 Northern States on sentimental grounds. If we united ourselves to the North, with whom we could never agree, we should excite a permanent hatred in those who were our natural allies. If any interest of England could be served, if any honest construction of international law could be shown in support of doing what was so contrary to our interests, he would not object; but it seemed to him a fatal and suicidal policy to relax the laws which bind the comity of nations, and to unite ourselves to those who were our bitterest enemies when the consequence was the starving of our population and the destruction of our trade.
Sir, previous speakers have so fully dilated upon the subject before the House, that they have left no words to be added. I would, however, venture to offer one passing remark, which I cannot forbear to make. The attempt to eke out an inefficient and to give the semblance of an effectual blockade of the coast line of their enemies by the Federal squadron, by means of sinking a number of vessels laden with stone at the entrance of the port of Charleston, which was intended to result in the destruction of a harbour which Divine Providence had afforded, is a most barbarous and unprecedented proceeding. In my opinion, it will be an indelible blot on the escutcheon of the United States, and when the present excitement of men's minds has calmed down, a national shame.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question,"—put, and agreed to.