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So many encroachments have recently been made on the ancient course
London and Cambridge.
MACMILLAN AND CO.
HAVE yielded to the opinion of those in whose
judgement I place confidence in determining to publish these letters. I have done so with considerable hesitation, because I am profoundly conscious how far they fall below the standard of that which is adequate to the treatment of questions perhaps the most important with which politics or jurisprudence are conversant. The text-writer on international law assumes a noble task, but he at the same time accepts a grave responsibility. His speculations, if unsound, and his maxims, if unjustifiable, must too often be refuted by the sword. They furnish pretexts sometimes for unjust demands, at others for unrighteous refusals. Those who assume the authority of Publicists exercise, in some sort, the judicial functions of life and death. Like the Feciales of old, of whose office they are the legitimate heirs, they deal out the lots of peace and of war; and thereby, according as they guide or pervert the judgements of their age, they affect the destinies of nations and determine the misery or the happiness of whole generations of mankind. It is the immortal glory of Grotius through a new dispensation of international right, to have evangelised the society of nations brutalised by a licentious carnival of force. It has been the shame of others to have degraded the Palladium of Law into the minister of the temporary
passions of Governments and the servile instrument of the interests of States.
These fugitive pieces make no pretensions to a share in this noble work for which the labours of a life would be no excessive preparation. They assume to be nothing more than occasional observations thrown together in the intervals of business from such materials as lay at hand, in order to illustrate, in a popular form, clearly-established principles of law, or to refute, as occasion required, errors which had obtained a mischievous currency. The writer has not attempted any profound or scientific treatment of the questions they discuss, which would have been out of place in the columns of a daily journal, but has confined himself to establishing, by sufficient authority, propositions which have been inconsiderately impugned, and pointing out the various methods of reasoning which have led some modern writers to erroneous conclusions. If these
papers have any merit at all, it is in the spirit in which they are conceived rather than in the manner in which they are executed. The object with which they have been written, is to offer a slight contribution towards that desirable end, the necessity of which is enforced in the wise sentence of that philosophical lawyer, Francis Horner, which I have prefixed to the title-page. The primary object of importance now is to reinspire a deference to solemn precedents and established rules.
It will be seen that of the following papers those on · Blockade,' 'Right of Search,' and Neutral Trade in Contraband of War,' are simple expositions from ordinary books of the admitted and unquestionable law upon these heads. The discussions on the International Doctrine of Recognition,' the · Essential Qualities of Contraband,' and 'Belligerent Violations of