previous next

[248] sail, because no ships could carry coal enough to keep up a constant blockade by steam. During the war of the Revolution, he recollected, when their ships were blockading Toulon, they were on one occasion driven by storm across the Mediterranean to the coasts of Africa. Such an event might occur again, and, according to the strict literal meaning of the words, if it did, it would not be an effective blockade. Therefore, the words must be susceptible of some explanation, and he thought they must be understood with that qualification which commanded all the operations of man at sea — namely, wind and weather. If the words were to be taken with that qualification, then he thought it was to be regretted that Her Majesty's Government, instead of adopting words totally new, had not adopted the usual form, namely, “lawfully established and effectually maintained,” because a blockade was not lawful unless it was effectual. He wished to know in what sense they were to understand the words used in the proclamation. Did they intend to convey the exact meaning of the words used in the Treaty of Paris, or, on the other hand, did they intend to qualify it? As to the second question, he could not help regretting that there was so much vagueness in the expression, “contraband of war according to the law and modern usage of nations.” How were plain men to find out what was considered contraband of war by the law and modern usage of nations? They must look to all the recent decisions of the Courts of Admiralty, not only in this, but in foreign countries, and it was probable that those decisions would be found conflicting. He wished to know what were the further articles not mentioned, to which the proclamation applied, and which Her Majesty's subjects were cautioned not to convey. He apprehended that the articles contraband of war were constantly changing, and followed all the alterations made in the mode of conducting war. The time was when the armor alone would have been considered contraband of war. But he thought he had read in books of law that all these changes were controlled by one principle, which was that contraband of war was that which, in the possession of an enemy, would enable him the better to carry on the war. That was clear, reasonable, and intelligible to every one. He regretted that Her Majesty's Government did not go back to that principle which all could understand, instead of using new words; he therefore wished to know what were the articles not mentioned to which the proclamation referred.

Earl Granville said the questions put by the noble Earl were very important and very difficult to answer. At the same time it was his duty to give the noble Earl all the information in his power. If, however, he fell into any mistake on the subject, he should feel grateful to any noble and learned lord on either side of the house to correct him. With regard to the first question as to the meaning of the words “lawful and actual blockade,” he thought the noble Earl somewhat embarrassed the question by referring to the Declaration of the Congress of Paris. He apprehended that no change had been made by that Declaration as regarded those countries who were not parties to that agreement. The question of international law remained the same as previously, except with regard to paper blockades, which were formerly held to be good. There was no doubt that blockade was lawfully and actually established, if maintained in a proper form and manner, and by such a force as to make it, not impossible, but difficult, for vessels to enter or come out. It was more difficult to give an answer to the second question put by the noble Earl. But the Government pursued the same course on the present occasion as had formerly been pursued. The noble Earl had partially answered his own question, because he had admitted that the meaning of contraband of war must vary with the changes in the mode of conducting war. Certain articles were clearly contraband of war, and the character of others could only be determined by the decision of the prize courts. Her Majesty's Government, therefore, had pursued a wise course, in his opinion, in not specifying what was contraband of war. [Hear, hear.]

The Earl of Derby said the answer of the noble Earl was entirely satisfactory. He did not feel inclined to complain of the terms of the proclamation as being vague and uncertain. It was impossible to introduce such a definition of a blockade, or of contraband of war, as his noble friend seemed to wish should be laid down. Nor did he complain of the proclamation as going beyond the necessity of the case-he meant as to the warning given to all British subjects with regard to their taking part in privateering expeditions. The proclamation wisely and properly informed the subjects of Her Majesty that whatever might be the result, if they engaged in these expeditions they would have no right to claim the protection of this country in case of any penal consequences arising from their own act. He did not complain of that extensive and solemn warning being given. But there were two points upon which it was absolutely necessary that Her Majesty's Government should lose no time in coming to a thorough understanding with the Government of the United States. First, with regard to this blockade, the Northern States have given notice of their intention to blockade the whole of the Southern ports. Now they knew that even if the fleet of the United States was three times as numerous as it was, it was not in their power to effectually blockade the whole coast of the Southern States; and though, no doubt, they might effectually blockade a port here and there, it was important that Her Majesty's Government should not commit themselves to the doctrine that the United States were to lay down the principle of a universal blockade, or that that universal blockade would be recognized

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
United States (United States) (3)
Toulon (Illinois, United States) (1)
Paris, Edgar County, Ill. (Illinois, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Derby (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: