, May 14.
Discussion in the House of Lords.
In the House of Lords, on the 16th ult., the Earl
of Ellenborough said he wished to put a question to his noble friend the Lord President, on the subject of Her Majesty's recent proclamation.
It seemed to him to be of essential importance that the proclamation which instructed Her majesty's subjects how they were to conduct themselves with regard to the unfortunate war which now existed in America
, should be so clear and unambiguous, that it should not be necessary for a man to consult his lawyer how it should be interpreted, or if he did consult his lawyer, that the lawyer should have the means of giving a clear answer, which as things now stood, he did not think he had. As to the law of England
, the proclamation was clear enough, but it was different with regard to that part which treated of the law of nations.
A great deal of doubt existed as to the meaning of the proclamation on that point.
Her Majesty's subjects were “warned not to break or endeavor to break any blockade lawfully and actually established by either of the belligerent parties.”
Now, he wanted to know in what sense they were to understand the expression, lawfully and actually established.
They were at present under an obligation to adhere to the Maritime law agreed to by the Plenipotentiaries at the Congress of Paris, which declared that, “in order to be binding, a blockade must be an effectual blockade” --that was to say, that it should be maintained by a force sufficient to prevent access to the enemy's coasts.
If these words were to e understood in their strict literal signification, a blockade was a thing almost physically impossible, because no nation in the world possessed a fleet large enough for this purpose.
It must, therefore, be capable of receiving some explanation.
Blockades were carried on by ships at sea, and by ships under