The press on the debate.
The answer that can be given to Lord Ellenborough is, that a blockade must be, on the one hand, a great deal more than a mere paper prohibition.
A hen may be induced to believe that a broad chalk line forms a barrier which she cannot pass, but mankind have a right to require that before their natural liberty be taken from them, something more substantial shall be interposed between them and the port they desire to enter.
On the other hand, it would be absurd to say that a blockade shall not be respected unless it be completely effective
. Such a rule would be to invite a perpetual breaking of blockades, since the very fact of a successful evasion would prove conclusively, according to the definition, that it was no blockade at all, on the same principle that treason never prospers, because rebellion, when triumphant, ceases to be treason.
Still less reasonable was the complaint of Lord Ellenborough, that the proclamation did not enable plain men to find out what articles are contraband of war. Until some means can be devised of defining, not only all that has been, but all that will be invented by the perverse ingenuity of man, acting upon a very rapidly increasing development of physical science, for the systematic destruction of his fellow-creatures, it will be utterly impossible to point out beforehand what is to be considered contraband of war. The most harmless materials, when taken alone — the ingredients of gunpowder, for instance — when associated together, may produce the most deleterious compounds; and things apparently quite unconnected with war — such as food and fuel, for instance — may, with reference to the purpose with which they were shipped, assume a highly contraband character.
War is a great exploder of fiction; its conduct and its rules are based upon the very sternest of all stern and practical realities.
It eludes the attempt to circumscribe it by metaphysical definitions, and bases itself instead upon the laws of nature and the possibilities open to us by the discoveries of physical science.
A topic far more worthy of mature consideration than the questions proposed by Lord Ellenborough, was the doctrine with regard to “privateering” enunciated by Lord Derby.
The argument of Lord Derby seems to be that the North
, by declaring a blockade of the Southern
ports, claims from neutral nations the respect due to its rights as a belligerent Power; and, therefore, that, whatever the North
may choose to do with the citizens of the Southern States
captured on board the privateers fitted out under letters of marque from Mr. Jefferson Davis
, the North
has no right to treat the belligerent rights of the South
as a nullity with regard to the subjects of countries from whom it claims respect for its own belligerent rights.
The result would be that the North
, by declaring a blockade of the Southern
ports, has bound itself not to execute as pirates the subjects of <*>ral States serving on board such privateers.
The argument is one of great subtlety and refinement, and seemed to receive confirmation from the arguments of subsequent speakers.
It is clear that English subjects serving on board an American “privateer” are not pirates, though, if they choose so to act, the English Government
, by the Proclamation, seems to avow its intention of leaving them to a pirate's fate.
It may possibly deserve consideration whether this decision can be strictly adhered to. At any rate, we cannot doubt that the authoritative declaration of the law by so many judges of eminent authority, will go very far to prevent the danger apprehended, and may possibly be the means of introducing into the very commencement of a dreadful civil war those principles of humanity and moderation, the operation of which might otherwise be suspended until enforced and demonstrated by the barbarous logic of reprisals.--London Times
The uniform tenor of intelligence from the United States
cannot be expected to please the secret sympathizers with the Secessionists, or the still more numerous class among us who, dwelling rather upon differences between the forms of administrative Government in England
than upon their common possession of Anglican liberty, have disqualified themselves for fairly judging the acts of the Federal Administration
It is now seen how false and shallow were the estimates of the Washington Government
, which, until lately, obtained currency here.
Simply because people did not know what Mr. Lincoln
was doing, they were quite sure they knew he was doing nothing.
The favorite argument from ignorance has never been carried further.
All who had paid any attention to American affairs knew well enough what the President
must be about.
The slight and flimsy work for doing which Jefferson Davis
got unmeasured praise, was nothing to that which had to be done.
they had simply to make a government.
had also to do that; but he also had to unmake one.
He had to destroy the coils which Southern traitors had taken care to wind about the new President
, to dispossess a whole army of disaffected officers before it was safe to venture a single step.
The instant that was effected the whole scene changed.
then displayed a military energy which has astonished the South
, and which has already changed the tone of the Secessionists.
Instead of the cheap boast of a march to Washington
, the braggarts at Montgomery
are whining about their rights, and thinking how best to defend themselves from the justice which is shortly to call them to account.
The force at the disposal of the Federal Government
So obvious has this fact become, that a new difficulty is started, and those who were lately chiding Mr. Lincoln
for not exerting himself, now insist that it is all in vain, and ask incredulously