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sent, for this sovereignty is the principal bulwark of the country. No, I have no objection to the sovereignty of the sea by us, but I object to the erercise of it in the nanner we do, on neutral nations. I do not object that “we enjoy the strength of a “ giant, it is glorious to do so; but, I object “ that we exercise it like a grant, because “ that is tyrannous and unjust.”—R. R.
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SIR ; The distance of my present residence from town has prevented me from sooner expressing my obligations to Mr. W. Hurdon, of No. 7, Somerset Street, Portman Square, for the information which I have derived from his most acute and profoundly learned lucubrations upon the subject of the Rights and Laws of Nations, inserted in the last Number but one of your Political Register (p. 661.) When in his opening period he observed: “ the subject “ of the laws and rights of nations being in “ my opinion, much misconceived, permit “ me to use my endeavours to place it in its “ proper light, ‘ I confess, that my mind was, in some measure, prepared for the appearance of those grand and sublime conceptions with which Mr. W. Burdon, of No. 7, Somerset Street, Portman Square, has irradiated the subject. Anticipating what would be the substance of those lucubrations; “ here,” said I to myself, “shall ** we see the misconceived notions of such “ weak reasoners as Mr. Cobbett, who has “ argued against the existence of any such “ thing as a law (properly so called) of na“ tidns completely exposed, and the thing “ placed in its proper light.'" Nor, Sir, was I disappointed; for, the very next passage which easued was so pregnant with sound reasoning, that it was quite impossible that it should fail of producing that, ef. fect. Pray let it adorn your pages once more : “ that nations have rights as well as ** individuals, and laws too, cannot for a “ moment be doubted " Now, could any thing, in the shape of argument, be more satisfactory and convincing than the passage last quoted, which you see, Sir, takes for granted the only thing, which, with respect to the laws of nations, stood in need of proof o! But, Sir, this is not all, for the sage follows up his logical argument with a prophetic denunciation, calculated to make you, Mr. Cobbett, and all who agree with you upon this subject, quake with terror! Steel your nerves, then, to meet the shock a second time ! “To deny,” he observes, “ the rights and the laws of nations would “ be to realize that Savage state of nature,
“ which has hardly ever existed but in the warm region of a poetical fancy!!” Say no more, Mr. Cobbett, for Heaven's sake, against the existence of any law of nations, seeing that Mr. W. Burdon hath clearly demonstrated, “ that in proportion to the suc“ cess with which your srguments are at“ tended, will the civilized nations of the “ earth approximate to a savage state . ." Thanks, unfeigned thanks, to Mr. W. Burdon for his exertions in the cause of nations!! Grotius, Vattel, Puffendorf, ye are outdone !!—So muth for Mr. W. Burdon's reasoning in proof of the actual existence of the rights and laws of nations. Now for Mr. W. Burdon's new invented code of maxims, as he calls them, with respect to those lights and those Laws. First, for the Rights, and here again the new light of Mr. W. Burdon has shone forth with so much effulgence, that all those old fashioned notions, as to the rights of nations, which I had once entertained, fled at its approach like the flimsy vapours of the night before the great orb of day—“ The rights of na“tions,” says Mr. W. Burdon, “like those of individuals, arise from their acquisi...tions in society.” Precious discovery : " :
in point of fact acquire, it also acquires a right to, no matter whether the means emplayed be iniquitous or just . . However, Mr. W. Burdon gives a most satisfactory reason which cannot fail to reconcile us to this new doctrine of his, for he adds, that, “such is the nature of man that it is not ‘ always requisite to scrutinize too severely into the origin, of those acquisitions, though it is at all times justifiable to resist the encroachments of power whether public or private." In saying thus much, Mr. W. Burdon, has, doubtless, given the reason why such a scrutiny, being requisite or not, depends upon the nature of man, although I cannot, for my life and soul, discover it. This inference, however, is sufficiently apparent—that in Mr. W. Burdon's opinion it is sometimes requisite to scrutinize too severely, and, as it will presenly appear more clearly, requisite sometimes not to scrutinize at all, even in those cases where resistance to the power exerted would have been justifiable: for Mr. W. Burdon assures us: “ though time may legalize the “ acquisitions of conquest or fraud, no“thing can diminish their original injus“ tice : " And, Sir, Mr. W. Burdon is right, for time is to be sure a worker of wonders, and it is in that way easily to be accounted for, that what has its root in iniquity becomes sanctified; and that aw act origi
Whatever any particular nation does, them,
mally unjust, and the injustice of which (mark ye') is not, in any degree, diminished, does, notwithstanding, become tegali:ed ' ' ' This, Sir, is, I take it, Mt. W. Burdon's mode of placing before us the equity of the thing, “ in its proper light.” Unfortunately for yourself, Mr. Cobbett, as well as your readers, this Mr. W. Burdon, of No. 7, Somerset Street, Portman Square, does not define the laws of nations, but in a most patriotic manner asserts, that we have departed from the general principles of those laws “ in asserting the Dominion of the Seas and violating the rights of neutral nations,” but yet trusts (kind gentleman') that those “ maxims,” (maxims ' ') which he has stated, and upon which I have commented above, will justify us. Iłow grateful, Sir, ought not the country at large to be to the author of such a justification But, wiyatever the tenor of the laws o nations may be, those laws are not, it seems, “ capable of being considered in any other light than a compact among a few individuals which cease to be binding upon the rest when they are so far violated by one as to affect their common or individual safety.” He had told us before, that the laws of nations are for ever liable to the unjust control of any individual." In that period of darkness which preceded the luminous appearance in print of Mr. W. Burdon, I erroneously supposed, that nothing could, with any propriety, be called
a law which did not come within the definition of a rule of action prescribed lysome
superior to an inferior power, which rule such inserior was bound, and might ly the superior, be compelled to tley. But, now, after Mr. W. Burdon's learned exposition, my sentiments have, of course, been revolutionized, and I have found it impossible not to imbibe an opinion, that the stipulations entered into is a mere league between nations—a league “existing in practical con“ venience only,” which admits of being totally dissolved at the will of any particular nation inclined to violate those stipulations— a violation, too, which does not draw down upon the aggressor the vengeance or resentinent of the other rations iately in league with it.—I say, Mr. Cobbett, that it would be a most unpardonable perverseness not to agree with Mr. W. Burdon, of No. 7, Sonjerset Street, Portman Square, that such stipulations are, with strict propriety, denominated by him, laws.-Have a care, Mr. Cobbett, how you enter the lists with this champion, for as it is impossible to make any impresssion upon a shadow, however keen may be the edge of your weapon, so
will you find his reasoning to be invulnerable. Your's &c. —Georok Davey — Allstock Cuttage, near Charmouth. Doys INION of The seas. SIR ;—Since late, we, your readers,
have been entertained with your dissertations respecting the dominion of the seas; but, I for one, doubt much whether you and your correspondents who have favoured us with their productions upon this head, are quite correct respecting our right to that dominion having at all times, or even ever been universally admitted.—I shall not now discuss that point, but wish to call your attention to the use which we have made, and now make, of the power we hold, and by which we have so much exasperated all the continental seafaring nations. I am inclined to believe, Mr. Cobbett, that neither you, nor seveneights of the nation; no, nor even the judge of the Honourable Court of Admiralty himself, is aware of the abuse of our maritime power, and of the injustice that is committed, not by the brave tars who so gallantly
fight the battles of the nation, but by a few
(perhaps a dozen) cowardly privateers, fitted out by some unprincipled owners, who by detaining every neutral vessel, however lit. tle reason there may be for suspicion, cause great depredation upon the neutral trade and property, and bring disgrace, hatred, and vengeance down upon the unoffending, and not participating nation.——Far be it from me to reflect upon the decisions of the learn: ed judge of that most honourable court. I
merely allude to the practices out of court.
I wish the country at large to be made acquainted with them, and it will be found that those privateers have contrived matters so ingeniously, that it becomes nearly a matter of indifference to them, whether the judge restores or condemns the property in question, and strange as it may appear, it is frequently the case, that the former is more profitable to them than the latter, because they almost always have their expenees de; creed to them. Suppose that a vessel and cargo is by them detained, the vessel is generally immediately released, but the cargo it is pretended must be brought before the court, which from the long list of cases pending in that court, is not likely to get a bearing in less than 18 months, or two years, and affords them an opportunity of unloading and warehousing the cargo.—The next step is to inveigle sonne brokers by the expectation of a commission, or otherwise, so declare that the goods are in a perishable
state, and that in their opinion, it would be
for the interest of those concerned, if an im:
mediate sale were made, and by means of this broker's certificate, a commission of appraisement and sale is obtained. Then the captor's agents proceed with alacrity to sell, and as no attention is paid to the circumstance of the goods being at an out of the way port, instead of being at the proper market for which they were intended and prepared, it will be evident that they do not frequently sell for one-fourth of their cost; and never otherwise than at a great loss instead of a profit, to which every trader naturally looks. The miserable proceeds are then, after remaining some time in the hands of the captor's agent brought into court, and upon restitution being decreed, the neutral claimant may receive them upon a further payment of poundage to the registrar; and fortunate is the neutral trader, if after payment of the heavy law expences, any proceeds remain to be remitted abroad. —I have now, Mr. Cobbett, explained how the neutral trader loses, but you would not comprehend how the captors make their profits, if I were not to add, that besides being owners of privateers, they are lightermen, wharfingers, warehouse-keepers, brokers, agents, &c. &c. And you will now be enaled to guess that the goods on being landed, housed, and sold pay, and are wasted so unmercifully, that the captors on having their expences paid, are no great losers.-The board of trade many months ago made sonne investigation into these nefarious practices, and, I doubt not, that as redress is long a coming, it will be the more effectual. If you should deem this subject worth an introduction into the Register, it will lead to the exposure of many more iniquitous practices attending the privateering system; and
I remain, Sir, &c. R. EX PATRIATION.
SIR ;——I am somewhat at a loss to refer to that part of my letter to you, in which it seems, from your observation (p. 646), I have relinquished my “ former construction of the Law of England."—There is one passage in my 24, letter (the last sentence p. 609) which possibly may haveinduced your animadversion : if this be so, it is necessary that I undeceive you, and more clearly explain myself. In that passage, I referred merely to the weakness of Candidus's remark resting on no better authority than “his mere assertion,” and to shew the slender thread on which that observation hung, I meant to convey, which perhaps my expression did not sufficiently do, that my assertion was equally good, and carried as much weight, though I should adopt a contrary
system, not thereby meaning to convey the idea, that “ capacity” of expatriation was not laid down, but that if I chose to assert this, without better authority than an ipsf dixit, my remark, opposed to his, was oe equal weight. This, and no more, did s intend ; and l trust I shall be acquitted of sophistry in this explanation, especially when it is recollected, that my following remarks (612) in support of my construction of the Law of England, contain further authorities, viz. Bracton, Fleta, and Stamford, which, although you object to Vattel on the law of nations, and Wicquefort's book on Ambassadors, I presume you cannot dissent from. They convey to us what was the common law, and with respect to my ideas upon the statute law they remain as they were. I certainly do, Mr. Cobbett, insist upon my former construction of the Law of Engiand, and as to the doctrines of Vattel and Wicquefort as my ideas perfectly coincide with them, I deemed it more proper to refer to them than adopt their opinions as part of my argument. Candidus's charge o fadopting, “revolutionary principles,” would have been well founded, if I had in conformity to the doctrine of the French Emperor overturned Vattel's exposition of the Law of Nations, which has been long acted upon, and I do not see why I should attempt to dispute Vattel's authority, because it may suit his purpose to dispute it, or the propriety of that which Vattel lays down to be the Law of Nations. Vattel does not give us a mere dictum, but he furnishes us with what I deem to be solid argument." Your argument—but which however you have not favoured me with, opposing his. I should wish to have considered; the only reason I did not furnish you with Valtel's arguments, was an apprehension of occupying a greater space in your Register than strictly allowable, and in consequence I referred you to the passages on which I relied. I rest under a serious charge of sophistry, and am stigmatized with the adoption of the ridicule: nothing, be assured, was further. from my thoughts; and if my language does convey those ideas to you, it has arisen currente calamo. Thou shalt “do no murder," I hold to be applicable as well to Nations as to Individuals; one cannot, but to avoid ambiguity, let me comment as I proceed; and observe, that I intend this unfortunate word, as used in common parlance, commit murder without being stigmatized, with as much criminality as the other; although Nations are not amenable to human punishment as
individuals are: but they are liable to severe
censure beyond the power of mortals; we
have but to look at the visitations with which nearly the whole Continent of Europe has been afflicted for their misdeeds. A Nation is bound to protect helpless infancy, and not authorised to suffer an infant to perish with hunger or cold, or from want of care. It is compelled, as you observe, to “nurse and defend him,” until he is capable of defending himself; but although I admit these things. I see not that †eo, of Justice, “when he is grown up to mankind," should he carry his talents and strength elsewhere. The talents of man are bestowed upon him for his own benefit, and he may use them as to him they prove most profitable, but it should be recollected thet the man of talents will not forget “gratitude” as the splendid orb illuminating those talents, which his Creator has bestowed upon him, and the Country, which “reared him up to manhood.” Gratitude will for ever remain, although I contend allegiance may pass away. I have it seems been unfortunate in my simile, though you will hardly allow that term to my companion; so much so have I been that I am apprehensive if I travel one step higher my 'attempt at elucidation may be abortive. A father of a family has more than once been compared to the head of a Government, and you will perhaps agree with the that there is more resemblance between the Nation and the private family, than the dependant in a family to whom in my former letter I alluded. “We natural“ly owe to those who gave us existence," says Blackstone, Vol. I. Chap. 16, page 453, “ subjection and obedience during our minority and honour and reverence ever after;" but I do not find that this “ subjection and obedience” continue after minority has ceased. When we arrive at manhood there is an end of subjection; and I consider as I have heretofore done. that as between the nation and the individual it is similar, and that nothing remains but 'the extension of “ gratitude". Indeed, Blackstone, page 365, says, “ Natural allegiance is therefore a debt of gravitude which carnot be forfeited;" this I have contended too and still maintain.' I have insisted upon the debt of atitude remaining, but not allegiance when a man by cession of minority becomes capable of electing his place of residence and adopting a new county if he thinks fit. I am apprehensive, that, should I adduce various other comparisons, the observations of Crousaz, in his Treatise on the Art of Thinking, Vol. I. part 1. sec. 2 page 387, would fit me, vis: “that a greatouantity of comparisons is frequently a sign of a superfwidl wit.” I had, ore, best leave fur“” Ihootints, 4 – ' " '
ther comparisons and rest my arguments and observations here, together with the authorities of our common lawyers quoted heretofore by me, from which it has not been my intention to depart, howsoever inexpressive and annbiguous I may have been, and with whatsoever injustice I may have communicated their sentiments, and superadded mine, satisfied with that little wit I possess, beit superficial or solid.—The Proclamation (upon which I addressed a letter to you on the
20th instant), so far as it extends is proper
as I have before said; but it does not extend in my estimation as it seems to you to all Br tish subjects. The word “others” bears relation to “such letters of naturalization," which again refers to the beginning of the sentence making mention of “ mariners and seafaring men," to whom letters have been granted and to men employed on board of a ship whether as mariners and seafaring men or otherwise, and not to merchants, manufacturers, or fund-holders, or to his Majesty's subjects in general. I do think, Mr. Cobbett, that it would be well for this highly favoured country, if an act of parliament were passed, prohibiting lawyers from drawing up acts of parliament on pain of death, and to prevent them from expounding laws. From the extreme caution of lawyers arises all the confusion in out courts of law and the doubts upon acts of parliament; and very frequently constructions are put upon statute laws, which never entered into the imagination of the legislature.—Nations, Mr. Cobbett, have not, de jure or de facto, the power of bargaining with their infant subjects, or to become infanticides. In the one case they would act with uncontroulable injustice, in the other with turpitude Nations are bound to extend acts of humanity and not to look to the quid pro quo; to say I have nurtured you, and I therefore claim perpetual subjection from you. It might as well be said that the common offices of humanity due to indi" gent foreigners lay claim to their future ser" vices in perpetuity;-the humane tendency of our laws is such that they do not suffer any person of whatever country he may be to perish through want; but yet we do not, therefore, enlist such perpetually under our banners. Acts of humanity are two blessed, first in the adoption, and secondly in the disinterested motive. This virtue! deem the divine attribute humanized-You know well, Mr. Cobbett, that it has been he retofore not unusual for one of two part" ners, British subjects, to reside in America, an the other here. The man who resided in Amerié accepted letters of nato ralization, and made America his domicil. It has been not unusual for courts of law, common as well as civil, to hold, that although such a man is a natural born subject, yet having become domiciliated in America, America is his country.—Now let us see the consequence; the partner in America under cover of this construction ships to France, and, perhaps, touches here for orders, as it is termed; should such ship be brought in by our cruizers, and is libelled in the admiralty, she is released, because, although the partner in America is a natural born subject of Great Britain, yet as he is “ domiciliated” there he is held to be a neutral, and the ship and cargo also neutral, notwithstanding, that the resident partner here is a British subject, and may participate in the profits of the adventure. We pay here a very liberal credit to a nuan's oath, so much so, that if the British subject here swears he has no concern in the ship and cargo, that alone would tend to acquit the ship. A door is, however, open to perjury, and the facility with which this species of evidence, if evidence it can be called, has been received by no means tends to close the aperture. Such have been the mischievous effects of partial expatriation. I say partial, because should the resident partner in America ehuse to return here and altogether quit his domicil abroad, he is received here again as a British subject. I think, therefore, that something more explicit and definite is requested than the language of the proclamation heretofore noticed by me. And now, Mir, Cobbett, for a short time farewell Should you or your correspondents Candidus and R. R. incline to remark upon this and my former letters, you and they may depend upon a proper attention, on my part, as soon after the approaching “saturnalia” as possible. -S. V.-Oct. 28, 1807. PUBLIC PAPERS. GREAT BRITAIN and America.-Offcial Note delivered by the British Plenipotentiaries to the American Commissioners, dated December 31, 1806. The undersigned Henry Richard Vassall, Lord Holland, and William, Lord àuckland, Plenipotentiaries of his Britannic Majesty, have the honour to inform James Monroe and William Pinkney, Commission*rs Extraordinary and Plenipotentiaries of the United States of America, that they are now ready to proceed to the signature of the treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation, on the articles of which they have mutually *greed—But at the same time they have it * Command from his Majesty, to call the at
tention of the Commissioners of the United States, to some extraordinary proceedings which have lately taken place on the Contiment of Europe, and to communicate to them officially the sentiments of his Majesty's government thereupon.—The proceedings alluded to are certain declarations and orders of the French government, issued at Berlin, on the 21st of November last.——In those orders the French government seeks to justify or palliate its own unjust pretensions, by imputing to Great Britain principles which she never professed, and practices which never existed. His Majesty is accused of a systematic and general disregard of the law of nations, recognized by civilized states, and more particularly of an unwarrantable extension of the right of blockade; whereas his Majesty may confidently appeal to the world, on his uniforin respect for neutral rights, and his general and scrupulous adherence to the law of nations, without condescending to contrast his conduet in these particulars, with that of his enemy; and with regard to the only specific charge, it is notorious, that he has never declared any ports to be in a state of blockade, without allotting to that object a force sufficient to make the entrance into them orianitesily dangerous.—By such allegations, univanded as they are, the enemy attempts to justify his
pretensions of confiscating, as lawful prize,
all produce of English industry or manufacture, though it be the property of neutrals; of excluding from his harbours every neutral vessel which has touched at any port of his Majesty's dominions, though employed in an innocent commerce : and of declaring Great Britain to be in a state of blockade, though his own ports and arsenals are actually blockaded, and he is unable to station any naval force whatever before any port of the United Kingdom.—Such principles are in themselves extravagant, and repugnant to the law of nations; and the pretensions founded on them, though professedly directed solely against Great Britain, tend to alter the practice of war among civilised nations, and utterly to subvert the rights and independence of neutral powers. The undersigned cannot, therefore, believe, that the
enemy will ever seriously attempt to enforce
such a system. If he should, they are confident that the good sense of the American government will perceive the fatal corsequences of such pretensions to neutral commerce, and that its spirit and legard to national honour, will prevent its acquiescence in such palpable violations of its rights, and injurious encroachments on its interests. It, however, the enemy should carry these threats