between it and our own, this doctrine is set forth as follows:
The Order in Council of the 23d of June being officially communicated in America, the Government of the United States saw nothing in the repeal of the Orders which should, of itself, restore peace, unless Great Britain were prepared, in the first instance, substantially to relinquish the right of impressing her own seamen, when found on board American merchant ships. * * *
If America, by demanding this preliminary concession, intends to deny the validity of that right, in that denial Great Britain cannot acquiesce; nor will she give countenance to such a pretension, by acceding to its suspension, much less to its abandonment, as a basis on which to treat. * * * The British Government has never asserted any exclusive right, as to the impressment of British seamen from American vessels, which it was not prepared to acknowledge as pertaining equally to the Government of the United States, with respect to American seamen when found on board British merchant ships. * * *
His Royal Highness can never admit that, in the exercise of the undoubted, and, hitherto, undisputed, right of searching neutral vessels, in-time of war, the impressment of British seamen, when found therein, can be deemed any violation of a neutral flag.
Neither can he admit that the taking such seamen from on board such vessels can be considered, by any neutral State, as a hostile measure, or a justifiable cause of war.
There is no right more clearly established than the right which a sovereign has to the allegiance of his subjects, more especially in time of war. Their allegiance is no optional duty, which they can decline at pleasure.
It is a call which they are bound to obey.
It began with their birth, and can only terminate with their existence.
In the Queen
's Proclamation of Neutrality between the United States
and the Confederates
, dated May 13th, 1861, there occurs this express and proper inhibition:
And we do hereby further warn all our loving subjects, and all persons whatsoever entitled to our protection, that, if any of them shall presume, in contempt of this Royal Proclamation, and of our high displeasure, to do any acts in derogation of their duty as subjects of a neutral sovereign, in the said contest, or in violation or contravention of the law of nations in that behalf — as, for example and more especially, by entering into the military service of either of the said contending parties as commissioned or non-commissioned officers or soldiers; or by serving as officers, sailors, or marines, on board any ship, or vessel of war, or transport of or in the service of either of the said contending parties; or by serving as officers, sailors, or marines, on board any privateer bearing letters of marque of or from either of the said contending parties; or by engaging to go, or going, to any place beyond the seas with intent to enlist or engage in any such service; or by procuring, or attempting to procure, within Her Majesty's dominions, at home or abroad, others to do so; or by fitting out, arming, or equipping, any ship or vessel, to be employed as a ship of war, or privateer, or transport, by either of the said contending parties; or by breaking, or endeavoring to break, any blockade lawfully and actually established by or on behalf of either of the said contending parties; or by carrying officers, soldiers, dispatches, arms, military stores or materials, or any article or articles considered and deemed to be contraband of war, according to the law or modern usage of nations, for the use or service of either of the said contending parties, all persons so offending will incur and be liable to the several penalties and penal consequences by the said statute, or by the law of nations, in that behalf imposed or denounced.
And we do hereby declare that all our subjects and persons entitled to our protection, who may misconduct themselves in the premises, will do so at their peril and of their own wrong, and that they will in no-wise obtain any protection from us against any liability or penal consequences; but will, on the contrary, incur our high displeasure by such misconduct.
Now, there was no shadow of doubt that the Trent
was consciously, willingly, employed in carrying very important officers and dispatches for the Confederates
; rendering them the greatest possible service, and one which could not safely be effected in vessels bearing their own flag.
It was not at all the case of dispatches carried unconsciously, innocently, in the public mails of mail steamers; but just such an interference to the prejudice of the one and the advantage of the other belligerent as British Courts of Admiralty had been accustomed to condemn; forfeiting