« PreviousContinue »
ance to it could rescue them from its per ence, would that have been a sufficient nicious effects. Such was the sense of ground for us not to look further to our America upon the Decree of 1798. What, interest? What! because France chooses now, has been the sense of America upon to except America from her injurious dethe Decree of 1806? We have a right to crees, are we to consent to their continulook to that Government for the same sort ance? If France thinks proper to violate of conduct upon that subject, when there the territories of several neutral powers was the same sort of Decree issued by and not to act in a similar manner towards France, with the addition of declaring the another neutral, does it follow that those British Isles in a state of blockade. Was other nations are to submit and endure a it too much to expect of America, that on misconstruction of her conduct? Such, being informed of that Decree, she should then, is the construction that can be put consider it as a measure issued totally re upon her conduct by the law of nations, gardless of her rights and independence? which is the principle of natural justice, Was it too much to expect that she would honestly and bona fide employed. It is make a firm resistance to oppose ils conse not by inancuvre and management of this quences. We shall suppose, then, that sort that we are to be bound to make the America did actually interpose, and the same exception in our conduct towards question must come to this, was it done in France, that she may be pleased to make such a manner as to satisfy her honour and towards America, by that private assue her interest as connected with G. Britain? rance, if it may be so called, that passed As it was a measure of warfare against this through M. Decres.--!That took place country, was it not tending to affect Ame- upon the 17th or 19th of Feb. ? The Sparica remotely? She owed her interposi- nish Decree was then issued, and it may tion, undoubtedly, not only for her own be looked upon as the act of France. 'honour but for her interest, and those du- Was there any exception in favour of ties she should have observed towards the America ? If it was to be understood that belligerent power that was thus attacked, | America was excepted out of the Decree, and with whom she was in perfect amity of the 21st of Nov.is it to be supposed ihat It has been asked, upon a former occasion, in that subsequent decree we should not in order to shew the illegality of our mea have had some notice of that exception? sures, has this French Decree been at all This, surely, was a pretty strong proof enforced in France ? But I apprehend that America was never intended to have the question ought to be-has the measure been exempted. Did not the capture of been revoked by France? Are we to re the ship Sanson, by the Spanish officers, sort to the ministers of France for the pur- evince what was their understanding of the pose of knowing whether they can exer blockade of England ? She was taken upon cise their own Decree or not? After the the sole ground of her violating that bloikdiscussion that has already taken place ading decree. Now, let us go on to anoupon the subject of M. Decres’ Letter, can ther point that will yet further clucidate any body consider that it contains that the nature of that Decree. Iailude to the sort of revocation that ought to have satis- Treaty of Tilsit. France now had consufied America. Ilas there been any Decree mated partly her object; Russia and Prusdeclaring that America was excepted out sia had made their peace with France and of the Order of the 21st of Nov.? If France were become neutrals; but do they call chose to give a doubtful and prevaricating for a revocation of that Decree No; answer to America, was that to assure Ame- they are converted into the allies of rica that her commerce would be free from France; and can any one doubt that it interruption? Did not the tenor and the was part of the system of that Treaty, that maxim still continue? Were not her ves Denmark, Russia, and Prussia, were all to şels, as well as those of other countries, be condemned to comply with the cooleobliged to pay higher insurance, in con- veracy ? France now had accomplished sequence of that Decree still existing? what she deemed a grand object towards Undoubtedly it must be conceded that a excluding the commerce of G. Britain private assurance of this sort onght not to from all the continental ports. What was have been considered any thing upon the answer of Buonaparte himseif, as to which America could rest satisfied. But, America? He expressly disavows any ineven let it be granted, that there had been tention of excluding her from his meaa public assurance to America that she sures, even when he began to feel that the alone was to be exempted from its inilu- blockade of this country might tend to
retort upon him the evil of his own injus- | tempt to force open the door to the contitice. Now, let us look a little into the nental market, or submit to those terms of situation of this country and Europe, as peace which France was willing to impose affected by the Treaty of Tilsit, in the lat- upon us. If France had the means of obter part of Oct. or beginning of Nov. last, taining from other sources those articles when these Orders in Council were issued. of which she stood in need, is it at all proThe fact was, that with regard to England, bable that she would ever have consented she was excluded from every port of Eu- to admit our produce? When France is rope, except the island of Sicily. Her deprived of those articles, is it not natural produce and manufactures were com to suppose that she will become the vio. pletely interdicted. Yet, it has been lator of her own prohibitions ? Will she stated, that these Orders have been the not then be induced to receive our comruin of our commerce. Look at our situ- merce into her territories? Is there any ation without these Orders, and then let chance of her doing this, if she could be us consider the question. Not a port was supplied by other means? It is true, that open at the period they were issued. The before these Orders in Council were issued, continental market of Europe was com- there was a considerable degree of benefit, pletely shut against us. But then it is in my opinion, derived by the effect of the said, that those vigorous measures of the Order of the 7th of Jan. That Order French government would not have been pressed very considerably upon the conticarried into execution, had not our Orders nent of Europe ; and the more so as the been adopted. Now, I answer to this, powers gradually came under the dominion that we have not read a single news-paper, and controul of France, as there was then for many months back, that did not bring no neutral intermediate power through us accounts of fresh measures being taken which they could violate those Orders. for the rigorous and strict observance of We must be aware, however, that the that original decree. Besides this, let us coasting trade of Europe was necessarily look to the probability of the fact. It open to very considerable evasion, by might very probably have been the case, stealing along their shores in small vessels; had France continued at war with some and besides, that there were means of of the other continental powers, that she communication through the great rivers would, from necessity, have softened the of Europe, by which with considerable rigour of her Decree, and connived at inconvenience to themselves, they might neutrals introducing British commodities be supplied with the various products of upon the continent; but, when Buonaparte the continents. But with respect to the has consummated his grand scheme for foreign commerce, they were actually the destruction of our maritime power, under no inconvenience whatever, notcan any person believe, that he would withstanding all our boasted maritime suany longer have suffered this connivance? periority. Our enemies had, in fact, betWould he not have done every thing to ter opportunities for
ter opportunities for procuring foreign forward his grand object of excommuni commerce, than if they had employed a cating G. Britain from the society of na great maritime force to protect their trade. tions? We have only to refer to the news. This may, indeed, appear paradoxical, papers of the month of Oct. to find, that but the truth is, that by means of neutral at the very moment when Buonaparte res vessels they could bring home, not only tores to their legitimate sovereigns the dis- all the produce of their islands, but even tricts of Mechlenburg and Oldenburg, it is the produce of America, as securely as if upon the express condition that they shall they had not been in a state of warfare : exclude British commerce. If this, then, under neutral names they enjoyed a comwas the case, what was the situation of this. plete supply of all the products from the country? We might send our manufac- various quarters of the world. They coltures for the consumption of our colonies, lected the duties upon the export of them and in return we could bring home our from their colonies, and they were even colonial produce, but there our commerce doing something more than this; they ended. Not one article of British manu were granting bounties for the carrying of facture could find its way to the continent those very products to the mother country. of Europe. Will any person say, that Wines and brandies and other products of this situation would not be the destruction France, went in exchange for oils, soap, of the resources of this country : We and other products of their colonies, withould have nothing to do, but either to-at out being in the slightest degree qués
tioned. In short, they were in the full presents the injustice of the French Deenjoyment of all the advantages of peace, cree of Nov. 1806, and justifies the conby having an ample supply of all sorts of duct of his majesty in issuing the Order in goods. The regular tea sales at Amster- Council, of 7th Jan. which Order was dam went on without any the smallest in- founded upon the just principle of retaliterruption, just as if the Dutch were in a ation. This principle seems to have been state of the most profound peace; ships asserted by France herself. I do not feel that traded from Amsterdam to China be- it, notwithstanding these authorities, neing allowed to navigate with the greatest cessary to plead the justification of these facility. Even the capital of every Dutch Orders, by the precedent of that issued by merchant was fully employed. Most of his majesty's late government.-No ; I the houses in Amsterdam have houses in think, and I am sure, this house will feel, America, or have agents in that country, that they are perfectly justifiable; and, I so that the money was advanced in many will add, founded on the law of nations. instances before a single bale of goods left In 1798, Russia teeling at that period the America. They had then colonial and aggressions and overweening tyranny of other produce conveyed to them just in the France, did issue an Order of a much same manner as if we had not the enjoy- stronger stamp than those issued by G. ment of any maritime superiority at all. I Britain, and so much complained of; that do not know whether or not I have been Order authorised the seizure of all ships succesful in my view of the subject, but it proceeding to France. I do contend, that does seem to me, that looking to the situ- the question of the conformity of these ation of Europe, and of this country, at the Orders to the law of nations, cannot be time of issuing these Orders, it was ruinous viewed in the abstract. It may be asked, to us in the extreme. While this country will you repel injustice with injustice ? No. was in this state of blockade, America -But, I would ask, is it to be endured, could not take from us a single bale of Bri- that one belligerent shall be suffered to tish goods without the risk of her vessels act towards another in a manner the being lawful prizes to the French. Our most unjust, and the most contrary to commerce and colonial produce might the laws of nations, and that the other have remained in our warehouses and rot-, belligerent shall be bound to observe the ted there ; as I cannot help thinking that accustomed usages and conduct towards the more Buonaparte acquired of the conti- her? I do contend that France has acted nent, the more rigorously would he be in- towards this country in open violation of clined to enforce his measures. And be every law of nations ; and I do maintain it recollected, that our commerce consti- that this country is justified in retaliating tutes the sinews of war, and therefore upon her. If it be said that the law of those measures of retaliation which we nations ought not to be observed, I do adopted were absolutely necessary for our from my heart protest against such a prinpreservation and defence. We have only ciple. I do think that nothing but the imposed those privations upon France most urgent necessity can warrant its nonwhich would induce France, or at least the observance. If, however, your enemy inhabitants of that country, (for I am not will not be bound by it, I do think supposing that we could compel their go that you have no other resort but that of vernment to agree to these measures), to going back to first principles, and lookbecome the violators of their own decrees. ing to self-preservation. --Much has been Now, upon the ground of retaliation we said of the infringement of neutral rights, are perfectly justified. It has been said, but I have heard very little said of neutral that our Orders have been a violation of duties. In the operation of these Orders the law of Nations; but need I revert to in Council, it never was in the contemplaany other authority upon this subject than tion of the framers of them to oppose neuthat of the late government themselves ? tral rights. If America suffer, it is what I confess that I cannot see any difference is unavoidable where her interest is so in the principle, although there may be connected as in the present war between some in the degree, between these Orders this country and France. These measures and that of the 7th of Jan. ; they were against America were alone intended to founded upon the principle of retaliation. annoy France, not to injure or infringe This principle was completely set forth by upon the rights of neutrals. Every cona noble lord (Howick) in a note to Mr. cession, that was compatible with the deRist
, [p. 402,] in which he strongly re fence of the country, I do maintain was Vol. X.
made in favour of neutrals. America was, footing of complete equality. I regret to as before, admitted to go to the colonies hear that so much clamour has been raised, and bring back their produce for her own by I know not what infatuation, for peace consumption. I cannot consider it a hard at the present moment. Are those who ship to require of a neutral whom you are such advocates for that measure, satisadınit to go to an enemy's colony, to be fied that it would be a lasting, solid, and subject to certain restrictions for such ad- safe one? I very much fear that no peace mission: If you have a right to interdict of the kind could be obtained at present. it, you have a right to point out such re- | I ain satisfied, that by carrying on the gulations as you think fit. It has been contest with that spirit and energy that said that the measures adopted towards become a free people, the issue will be America will be likely to produce misun- speedy, honourable, and glorious. derstanding between her and this country. Earl Temple thought his hon. and learned I do not believe it; on the contrary, I am friend, who had just sat down, had dethoroughly persuaded that America will parted from the investigation of the quesfeel, when she views these measures with tion before the house. He contended, that that temper and coolness that I think she the principle of self-preservation laid down will, that this country has been actuated by his hon. and learned friend in defence by no hostile feeling against her, but that of these Orders in Council, was not made whatever injury she may sustain, was ab out. If it had been, he would admit it to solutely unavoidable on our part, and in- be a justification of them.
The injury dispensable to our preservation and exist. done to neutrals, it was contended, was ence. It is impossible that America should unavoidable, and was with a view to the not see that this country has done every ultimate injury and annoyance of the thing in its power compatible with its enemy. He contended, that we could security, to accommodate and convenience have no right to attack neutrals directly her. I am proud it has been so; con in order to injure the enemy collaterally. vinced as I am, that the prosperity of the The Order issued by his majesty's late one country is the prosperity of the other. government, in Jan. 1807, was issued on Different has been the treatment of France grounds totally distinct from the present to America. All communication with G. Orders. The former was in perfect conBritain has been interdicted, under the formity with the laws of nations; the latter threat of destroying her independence. in direct violation of them. In order to The conduct of France towards America, I justify our conduct towards America, it do contend, has been one continued scene would be necessary to shew that she acof insult and injury. G. Britain has, on quiesced in the provisions of the French the contrary, uniformly acted with mode Decree. The contrary, however, appeared ration and forbearance, and with every wish to be the fact. On the appearance of the to cultivate amity and friendship between French Decree, in Nov. the American mithe two countries. I am satisfied, from all nister required an explanation of it, statthese considerations, and from the good ing, that it was contrary to the treaty of sense of the people of America, that no amity and commerce existing between rupture will take place between us and America and France. The answer of the her. A great deal of objection has been minister of marine was, that it was not in raised against the shape of these Orders in the contemplation of the French Decree Council, against the particular time at to affect American ships. He had heard which they have been issued, and against it said, that this was idle assertion; but their being too rigorous; but I do trust he would be glad to ask, if the communi-, the house will feel the weakness of these cation of the explanation of this Decree, objections, and agree that they have been by the President of the United States of founded both upon policy, justice, and law. America to Congress, was nothing more These Orders, I am satisfied, will cause than idle assertion? It was a well-known severe privations on the continent, and fact, that the merchants of this country,
the head of its tyrant the evils whose opinions upon these Orders in Counintended to be entailed upon us. The cil' were certainly the most correct, and period in which we live is awful beyond who uniformly complained of them, had example, and the contest in which we are not, in consequence of the French Decree, engaged, great beyond precedent. We been obliged to pay a single additional are possessed of the dominion of the sea; shilling insurance on the trade between, France of the land ; so far we are on a this country and America. Spain was
obliged to issue a similar decree at the prised that the sinews of our strength laid time France issued hers. An American / in our commerce. Hence the whole force ship was brought into a Spanish port for of this injurious system reverted on oura violation of this decree; she was brought selves. He concluded with entering his to trial in the Prize Court
, and ordered to formal protest against the measure. be released. Another instance occurred Mr. Rose defended the legality of the in France, when an American ship, under measure, contending that it had not viothe same circumstances, was released. lated any law whatever, but on the contrary What? he would ask, could be so con was expressly provided for by act of parvincing, as these facts ? and what could liament.' When these Orders in Council more strongly shew that it was not the were made, he assured the house, they intention of France to injure or restrict were not pointed at America, but were inAmerican traders? There were other tended as a direct and justifiable retaliafacts which proved Mr. Munroe's letter tion against France. He then adverted to to Mr. Secretary Canning, (p. 598] stat- the state of the navigation of America, and ing it not to be the intention of France the immense increase of her shipping and to interfere with the trade of America. carrying trade, her trade from the East In the teeth of all this evidence, and Indies with all parts of the world, and the three weeks after the receipt of Mr. Mun- reduction in the sale of all East India goods, roe's letter to Mr. Canning, these Orders pepper, tea, &c. He repeated, that nothing in Council appeared. It was said that was more desirable than 'to avoid warfare America did not obtain the revocation of with Ainerica, and he could not help the French Decree--but how could that hoping, that when America came to conbe expected ? It might not be, nor was not sider coolly and deliberately upon the in her power to do so. - The noble lord subject, she would be satisfied that these proceeded to consider the Orders in Coun- Orders were never intended against her; cil as contradictory to the established prin- that to preserve peace with that country ciples of municipal law; quoting part of was most desirable; and he was well assuMagna Charta, with the commentary of red that government would see it in its Montesquieu, to prove that this country true light—that of a measure of retaliation ever had considered the rights of even fo- adopted through necessity. reign merchants as part of their own con Mr. Hibbert had been anxious to thank stitutional liberty; hence, he maintained, his learned friend (the Advocate General) the exertion of the king's prerogative in for his excellent speech, but could not the publication of these Orders, and their omit, at the same time, to recollect with enforcement, had effectually violated the gratitude another speech of that learned established law of the land. The rights of gentleman,* in which he had ably defendwar should only be exerted by the king on ed the Order in Council of Jan. 1807, not the property of the enemy, and by no only as founded on principles of natural means should they be extended to that of justice, which were the basis of the law of neutrals. This measure had even proceed nations; but as directly bearing upon the ed so far as to raise a tax, and levy supplies, enemy and considerate towards neutrals. without the consent of parliament.— With The principle of that measure was so clearrespect to the policy of the measure itself, ly expressed in a State Paper which had if the inexplicable nature of the Orders been alluded to in the course of the depermitted him to say he could form any just bate,t that he begged permission to read idea even of their tendency, he must ac the words; “Neutrality, properly consiknowledge his decided conviction of their dered, does not consist in taking advantage tendency to injure our trade, to depre- of every situation between belligerent ciate our character among other nations, states, by which emolument may accrue and to deprive us of the means of meet to the neutral, whatever may be the coning the pressing emergencies of the times. sequences to either belligerent party ; but These Orders, as affecting the sugar and in observing a strict and honest impartialcotton trade, had the worst possible effect. ity, so as not to afford advantage in the He could never comprehend how this war to either; and particularly in so far measure could be denominated a reta- restraining its trade to the accustomed liation, since it affected primarily ourselves, and next our allies. The French * See vol. viii. p. 633. would contentedly suffer some'embarrass + Lord Howick's Letter to Mr. Rist, ment and inconvenience, being well ap- see p. 402.