in a long and well considered article in its issue of Saturday, settles, we think, beyond further cavil, the question of right on the part of the Yankee Government
to arrest our Commissioners on the deck of a British vessel at sea. The Charleston Mercury
, founding its opinion upon a dictum
of Lord Stowell, in the case of the Carolina
, (6 Rob. Adm.
Rep., p. 468,) that a belligerent ‘"may stop the Ambassador
of an enemy on his passage,"’ had expressed a belief that the English Government
would ‘"decline any interference on behalf of our captured Commissioners,"’ and this article of the Enquirer
seems to be intended as an answer to the Mercury.
gives us the passage entire from Lord Stowell's decision.
If reads as follows: ‘"The limits that are assigned to the operations of war against them"’ (Ambassadors) ‘"by Vattel, and other writers upon these subjects, are that you may exercise your right of war against them wherever the character of hostility exists.
You may stop the Ambassador of your enemy on his passage;
but when he has arrived, and has taken upon himself the functions of his office, he becomes a sort of middle man, entitled to peculiar privileges, as set apart for the protection of the relations of peace and amity in maintaining which all nations are in some degree interested."’
‘"You may stop the Ambassador
of your enemy on his passage."’ Certainly you may if he passes through your territory, or if he be found in a ship of your enemy on the high seas.
But is it expressed or implied that you may seize him on neutral ground, or in neutral ships?
Can Lord Stowell really have meant to aver that Lincoln
could seize a Commissioner from the Southern Confederacy in the streets of Quebec
, or on the shore at Havana
Undoubtedly, any power may
stop its enemy's Ambassador anywhere; but it must take the consequences.
If the arrest be made upon neutral territory, the Power to whom such territory belongs will have a right to resist it even to the point of war.
It is probable that Seward
will not rest his cause upon any such foundation as this dictum
His journals already indicate the policy he means to adopt.
They say that Wilkes
proceeded on his own authority.
may disavow the act, and apologise to the British Government
Perhaps he will affect to punish Wilkes
But whether the British Government
will or will not be satisfied with this apology, without the restoration of Messrs. Mason and Slidell,
remains to be seen.
Certainly, if that Government considers the act an outrage, complete atonement cannot be made without their restoration; and if the British Ministry
be satisfied with such an amende
as leaves them where they are, it may be taken as conclusive evidence of their utter indifference to the Southern Confederacy.
We have always contended that our people would rely on their own strong resolution and energy to secure their independence — that they should look nowhere for assistance — that assistance would never be tendered until it was plain they did not need it — that when the world was satisfied of this, it would recognize our Government, and tender its good offices to our people.
Nevertheless, it is important to know how far our citizens are protected by a neutral flag on sea or land, and whether there is enough force in that clause in the extradition treaty between England
and the United States
which excepts from arrest fugitives for political offences, to shield them from the pursuit of Lincoln