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dron Cruising before it for that purpose, even although that srruadrou should be driven off tor a ■while by a gale of wind or any other cause. By the present treaty a port is not considered blockaded unless there is a stationary tone before it. The next article as to the right of search he considered equally injurious to us. By this article ships were not to be stopped but upon just causes and evident facts. We had always before exercised the right of search upon good cause of suspicion and not upan the evidence of facts. It is often impossible to get facts in the first instance; they usually come out h~i the search. Notwithstanding the many complaints which had been made against this right of search, he usually found, w hen those complaints came to be examined, that they were ill founded. He had no objection, however, to depriving privateers of this right of search, but with ships of war the right ought to be maintained in its full extent. The causes for detension and seizure seldom appeared till the search was made; they were not to be perceived at a distance by a telescope. He would suppose, in war time, a Danish frigate was going with a convoy into the ]x>rt of Brest: the papers on board the frigate convoying them might be perfectly regular, and yet the ships full of naval stores. His lordship concluded, by saying that he found, in every pan of the treaty, so much ambiguity and concession, so much variance from the established practice, that he felt himself obliged to deliver his opinion, in hopes, even vet, before it came to be the definitive law for the government of
our navigation and marine, that it might be modified and rendered more consonant with our ancient claims, our invariable practice, our national dignity, and our maritime po*er.
The Lord Chancellor defended this treaty, to the conclusion of which he observed that lie had been a party, and consenting to its adoption. He contended that this settlement had been obtained on a great and liberal basis, which showed to the world that Great Britain was not intolerant in her power, and that she did not wi.-h to stand upon trivial nice distinctions. The nation had pi lints, or gained the great objects for which it contended, namely, that free bottoms did not make tree goods; that ships of war had the right of search ; that the blockade of ports should be recognised as legitimate; that the exercise of those rights should be regulated by clear, intelligible and liberal rules ; and what was of more consequence than all, that any casual violation of those rules should not be a ground of quarrel, but should be determined by the tribunals of the country. Those were, as he conceived, the heads of the treaty, and as to the wording of the clauses in their construction, he held an opinion very different from that of the noble lord who spoke before him. He considered that the words were sufficiently explicit to prevent neutrals from carrying on either the coasting trade of an enemy's country, or their colonial trade. France had at one time, in the course of the' war, broached the monstrous doctrine, that they had a right to seize and confiscate the property of neutrals, if of British produce. This treaty went on a different principle
principle, and declared "that this country would not consider as enemy's property such goods as, having formerly belonged to the enemy, had since become the property of neuters." Although we therefore permitted neutrals to acquire the colonial productions of our enemies, yet we did not allow them to carry on the colonial trade. Almost any other treaty which had ever been made would be found liable to as serious objections, if examined with the same criticsl acumen. The intention of the parties, however, formed the true interpretation of every treaty. This was a treaty concluded with Russia separately, and it was not to be supposed that all other neutral nations weTe to come under this arrangement. Sweden, Denmark, Holland, and America, were no parties to it, and could not insist on any of the stipulations of it. His lordship, upon die whole, conceived it as unobjectionable as any treaty which had ever been concluded by this country.
Lord Grenville explained. He did not mean that the article with respect to the " contraband of war," which was introduced in this treaty with Russia, would be extended to tiie treaties to be made with Sweden and Denmark; but lie meant, th^t in this treaty it sixjuld be put oat of all doubt that England genenerally considers naval stores as "contraband of war." Holland and America might again suppose, from the wording of this treaty, that by the law of nations, on which they stood, natal stores were not contraband.
The Lord Chancellor again repeated that this article in a separate treaty with Russia could not be
construed or contrived to extend to any, other nation on earth.
Lord Holland voted for die address, but not on any of the grounds assigned by the noble mover or seconder. He thought many concessions had been made in this treaty; concessions, which so 1st from objecting to, he highly a]>provedof; and should vote for tlie> address, because he thought tlwse concessions likely to tend to »the preservation of peace, by Allowing that his majesty's ministers were willing to grant every accommodation that was reasonable to foreign powers. . His lordship, alter reasoning,for some time on the former treaties subsisting between this country and die Northern Powers, as also upon the live heads enumerated by lord Grenville,' agreed with that noble lord, that there still remained in the treaty much room for explanation and amendment. He could have wished that those explanations which the learned lord (the chancellor), |iad confessed to be necessary, had been obtained before the house was called on for the present vote, but he should, however, support the address.
I/ird Grenville again rose to explain, in consequence of some expressions of censure used by the noble lord against his majesty's late ministers, for advising a war on mere speculative points. Those points which he had named were, by no means speculative points, but rights of the utmost im]x>rtanec, and principles upon which the existence of this country as a maritime power depended.
Lord Mulgrave supported the address, but ditlered from mo>t or Uie noble lords who ha'. »;.oke:i
£n several points: he could not agree with the noble and learned lord (the chancellor), in his exultation at this treaty, as one of the most advantageous this country had ever made; nor could he agree ■with another noble lord (Holland), who had treated lightly the five different heads enumerated by lord Grenville, as the principles which caused the contest with northern powers: he thought those principles were rights of the utmost importance to this country as a maritirne ration; he considered that these rights were not secured by this treaty as fully as might have been wished, but yet that a great deal had been obtained, and a great many claims hostile to this country had been now abandoned by the northern powers. Under this impression he voted for the address.
Lord Nelson highly approved-of the convention which had been concluded. It put flu end to that principle which was endeavoured to be enforced by the armed neutrality in 1780, that '* free ships make free goods;" a proposition so injurious to the rights and maritime interests of this country, that if it had been persisted in, he thought ihe country should wage war to the last drop of British blood rather than be submitted to. That proposition was now set at rest, and abandoned by Russia. It was to obtain this that the rashness and violence of the emperor Paul set forward die confederacy; but the good sense, moderation, and temper of the present emperor abandoned it. As to our not classing naval stores as contraband of war, in our separate trcaty with Russia, he saw no danger in the omission: Russia neither supplied those naval stores, nor had
she ships to convey them. The case would be widely different, if we were to allow some other maritime states the privilege of conveying ship-timber, guns, powder, and shot, into our enemy's ports in time of war. His lordship approved of the article restricting the right of search of ships under convoy of a neutral flag ship, to our ships of war only. He should himself, in many cases, conceive it his duty to make *uch search, although he should do it with the utmost respect and civility to the commander of the neutral frigate. His lordship concluded by declaring, that he should vote for the address.
The question was then put, and agreed to without a division.
In the house of commons, on the same day, lord Hawkesbury moved the order of the day for the convention with Russia.
Lord Temple asked whether ministers had received official information of the accession of Sweden to the convention?
Lord Hawkesbury replied, that they were positively assured of the readiness of Sweden to accede, but that, the formal act of accession had not as yet arrived.
Lord Francis Osburn moved the address. [His lordship spoke in so low a tone of voice, that his arguments could not be distinctly heard].
The honourable Mr. R. Ryder seconded the motion; he began by recalling to the recollection of the house, the pledge which they had formerly given to his majesty to maintain the naval rights of the country and the long-established maritinoo law of Europe. He hoped that, by the terms of the treaty now on the. table, those rights must appear fully supported and maintained^
*nd that the dangerous pretensions advanced by the Northern Powers bad been abandoned. This treaty was not to be viewed as a full and extended system of maritime law, bat as a final decision of certain points of controversy which had been the most disputed, and therefore were selected for discussion. The principle which had been set up by the Northern Powers, that "free bottoms made free goods," tbey had been obliged most unequivocally to abandon. If this had been admitted, the trade of the enemy could be carried on exactly as well in time of war as in peace, and our enemies would be safe from all annoyance on our part. Although in the article respecting "the contraband of war," naval stores are not particularly mentioned, yet, as former treaties are hereby recognized, this matter stood exactly on the ancient footing. The right of search for contraband goods was also admitted, and certain rules laid down for the regulation of it. By this convention too, the precise definition of what shall be " a blockaded port," is laid down on rational principles. A port is to be deemed blockaded when there is a stationary fleet so placed before it, as that it is evidently unsafe for a vessel to enter: in such case every neutral having fair notice of the blockade, will be liable to seizure if they attempt to enter. He hoped that this treaty would put an end to future contentions on this subject. He congratulated the house and the country for having so decidedly refused to listen to the counsels of those who either expressed doubts of the justice of bur claims, or wished ns to wave the assertion of tur rights, and act as the governVot. XLIV.
ment had done in 1780. Having paid some compliments to the spirit and decision of our ministers, and to the gallantry of our navy iu the Baltic, he concluded by giving his hearty assent to the address.
Mr. Grey said, that he so muoh rejoiced at the termination of the dispute with the Northern Powers, that he felt but little disposed to enter minutely into a consideration of the terms, and he should not have-risen, if the honourable gentleman who spoke last had not so pointedly alluded to the opinion he had formerly delivered on that subject. However that gentleman might think himself justified in congratulating the house and the country, en Iris (Mr. G.'s) advios not being attended to, he by no means repented of the advice he had given, which, in all the circumstances of the country, he thought was the most prudent to have been followed; he rejoiced most sincerely at the termination of die dispute, as ultimately connected with the war with France, and he had no difficulty in affirming, that till that dispute was settled, peace with France was unattainable; he therefore viewed the convention as a judicious compromise, but could not possibly allow that it had satisfactorily settled all points in dispute. He considered the address premature, inasmuch as no official information of the accession of Denmark and Sweden had been received: besides, he could not see upon what ground we could say, that there was no room for future disputes with Sweden and Denmark about the question, whether naval stores were or were not contraband of war, when in this convention with Russia, to which they were invited to accede, naval stores were E not
not mentioned among tlie things ■which were to be considered as contraband. Denmark and Sweden might well conceive themselves to be bound not by the antecedent treaties, which were now confirmed, but by tlits convention, which professed to settle all controverted points. As to what had been gained respecting the signification < of a blockaded port, we had certainly given up our former definition, even if we had not accepted the definition of the neutral powers: by our for'roer definition of blockade, the whole coast of Holland was said to be in a state of blockade when the blockading squadron were in Yarmouth roads. As to the right of search, he considered it had been limited in a very proper way; and the regulation about privateers met his most cordial approbation. Upon the whole, lie rejoiced that the business was terminated, but saw no reason to repent of his former opinions on die Subject. He concluded by supporting the address.
Lord Temple highly disapproved the treaty: he considered that all the grounds on which the house had pledged itself to his majesty in the last sessions, had been wholly or partially given up. His lordship divided into five heads, the points of dispute between this country and the Northern Powers: J st, The colonial and coasting trade; 2d, the right to search ships under convoy; CJd. the right of bloekade; 4th, free ships making free goods; 5th, the articles to be considered contraband of war. From our claims with regard to all these, it had been declared impossible to recede consistently with the honour, the interests, and even the very existence of the country: in every one particular, how3
ever, our claims had been receded from. He so much disliked the system of privateering, that he approved of taking from privateers the. right of searching neutrals under convoy; but he could by no means approve of the method pointed out for ships of war to exercise that right. If the papers were found not to be regular, it was said the captain might search; but how easy would it be for a neutral to carry a set of false papers? He thought, in that point respecting the blockade of ports, we had receded a great way from the rights we claimed, where we admit that if the squadron destined to blockade Brest should be blown oft" by stormy weather, that Brest should on that account cease to be considered a blockaded port. His joy at finding the northern powers had abandoned the principle that "free bottoms make free goods," was much abated by finding in the treaty another clause which would make this of little avail. Neutrals were allowed to purchase the goods of the enemy and carry them unmolested where they pleased: he could not conceive how it was possible to prevent fraud in this species of traffic. When a cargo of French wines, or French colonial property, was met at sea, how could it be certainly known whether the property was or was not purchased by neutrals? With regard to contraband, the treaty conceded a point of the greatest importance, namely, that contraband of war does not include naval stores. This had been before, in former treaties, conceded, for a limited term of years, to powers who could make no great use of the privilege; but now it appeared that this concession was to be ingrafted into a general system of „. maritime