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set sail for America to arrange the Treaty of Washington. In five days Sir Stafford, with his sons Henry and John, was on board the Russia- -a Cunard steamer. On March 1 they reached New York, and were greeted by the usual imaginative emissary of the New York Herald.' They went straight on to Washington, where Sir Stafford joined the other British Commissioners - Lord de Grey, Lord Tenterden, Sir E. Thornton our Ambassador, Mr Montague Bernard of All Souls, and the Canadian Commissioner, Sir John A. Macdonald.
The purpose of the Commission was to settle terms of agreement about the Alabama and similar claims, about the Canadian fisheries, about San Juan, and other matters -terms which might be referred to a court of arbitration. As to the whole subject of arbitration in national disputes, Judge Hoar, one of the American Commissioners, told a story which illustrates the general opinion. “A man came
A into court and called the judge a d—d fool. The judge threatened to commit him for contempt of court. The man begged to refer the question to the arbitrament of the jury. The judge consented; whereon the jury decided
! that his referring to them proved he was a d—d fool, and gave their award accordingly.” The Geneva arbitrators also gave their award accordingly when the time came. This being a foregone conclusion, it may be asked how Englishmen could be induced to sit on such a Commission? The answer is, I fear, that necessity knows no law.
? England is a country which practically cannot fight on 1871.]
NO SUCH ALTERNATIVE AS WAR.
points of honour and delicacy. In regard to America, especially, she would have to fight a most powerful people which is at home, while she is at an immense distance from her base. She has to fight with a vast undefended and indefensible flank-the whole frontier of Canada. She has to fight the country by whose corn her own huge and agriculturally unproductive population is nourished. Though she might do the States a good deal of harm, she could not cripple them nor dream of subduing them. “We shall have to give you a beating,” said an Englishman once to an American. “What! again ?" said the other. The question was an answer. With starvation and probable rebellion at home, with certain loss abroad, is it likely that England will fight America if she can possibly evade the war? It is needless to add reflections on the horror of such a strife between peoples of the same language, proud of the same literature, and united by a thousand private ties of friendship and kindliness.
As to there being no alternative at that moment but war on one hand or apology and arbitration on the other, Sir Stafford wrote to Mr Disraeli (January 24, 1873): “Our work has not been made more palatable by persons who have spoken as though the alternative had been war. There was no such alternative; and if it had been present to the Government, they ought to have taken a totally different tone, and doubtless would." The real alternative was an eternal hostility of feeling.
Judging by Sir Stafford's letters and diary, the Presidential election was the mainspring of the whole machine of the Commission. Was General Grant to be re-elected ? Much appeared to depend on the successful American conduct of the Commission. I gather (these are private inferences) that the American Government wanted as considerable a triumph as possible, as conspicuous a defeat of England, without the disturbance and discomfort of actual hostilities. Mr Charles Sumner, who had just been removed from the American Committee of Foreign Relations, was regarded as the great anti-Englishman.
It is only fair to say that, during the sitting of the Commission, his attitude was friendly and genial. Foibles he had, caused or increased by the long excitement of the war against slavery; and, it may be, by the cowardly assault on him several years before, by a Southern planter and politician. Despite these foibles, his relations with the Commissioners were distinctly friendly.
Before entering on the social and diplomatic adventures at Washington, it may be well to note what intentions and ideas Sir Stafford, for his part, had in his mind. He conceived, as he wrote to Lord Beaconsfield, that here was a chance for neutral, maritime, and commercial nations to come to an understanding as to the rights and duties of neutrals. England and America might give the effect of an international agreement to those parts of their municipal law which were common to both countries. They might agree on a definition of contraband of war, and 1871.]
EARLY MEETINGS OF COMMISSION.
might sketch a tribunal to settle disputed points. Other Powers might accede to the treaty, and be represented on the tribunal. A mode of settling the claims and counterclaims arising out of the late war might be devised “without admitting any inconvenient pretensions.” These ideas,” he adds, "are rough-hewn.”
The Commissioners of either side, at Washington, had some private intercourse, and euchre, before business regularly began. At this semi-official euchre they seem to have played “ for love." On March 8, Mr Fish, for the Americans, opened the Alabama claims, proposing that they should try to agree to certain principles of international law, to be applied by themselves, or by the arbitrators. On March 9, the English produced their counter-proposals; “another long wrangle, and -- exhibits great powers of twaddling.” It may be said that this Commissioner was not of our party. On the former day (March 8) the Protocol XXXVI. sets forth, in the words of the American Commissioners, how, owing to the Alabama and other ships, "extensive direct losses had arisen in the capture and destruction of a large number of vessels with their cargoes, and in the heavy national expenditure in pursuit of the cruisers; and indirect injury” (the italics are mine) in a transfer of a large part of the American commercial marine to the British flag, in the enhanced payment of insurances, in the prolongation of the war, and in the addition of a large sum to the cost of the war, and the suppression of the rebellion. And they also showed that Great Britain, “by reason of failure in the proper observance of her duties as a neutral, had become justly liable for the acts of these cruisers and of their tenders; that the claims for the loss and destruction of private property which had thus far been presented amounted to about fourteen millions of dollars, without interest, which amount was liable to be greatly increased by claims which had not been presented; that the cost to
1 which the Government had been put in pursuit of cruisers could be easily ascertained by certificates of Government accounting officers; that in the hope of an amicable settlement, no estimate was made of the indirect losses, without prejudice, however, to the right to indemnification on their account, in the case of no such settlement being
All this passage is particularly important to the history of Sir Stafford's own conduct in the mission. Without entering into the long international controversy which followed—a matter for legists—one may say that a person of ordinary wits could understand the text quoted in only one way. In the hope of an amicable settlement, the indirect claims were not estimated, nor, of course, presented to the arbitrators, though the right to present them, failing an amicable settlement, was reserved. An " amicable settlement” was made, as I understand (compare, however, Sir Stafford's letter to Mr Fish, p. 10), and yet the Americans revived the indirect claims.
1 The italics are mine throughout.