Слике страница
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

mer war had the blockading system been pushed to this extent; but this has been not for want of right, but for want of power. If a single port may be blockaded by a single squadron, which has never yet been disputed, a number of squadrons may blockade a certain extent of coast; and if a country possesses the power and means, and will incur the expense and hazard of covering the whole extent of an enemy's coast, it becomes entitled, upon the same principle, to the same exemption from neutral interference, as if, with a single division, it invested a single fortress.

A declaration of blockade to be valid must be accompanied by actual investment. Upon the arrival of the British forces in the West Indies, a proclamation was issued (1st Jan. 1794) by Admiral Jervis, inviting the inhabitants of Martinique, St. Lucie, and Guadaloupe, to put themselves under the protection of the English; and on their refusal, hostile operations were commenced against the various islands, but separately, and in succession, Guadaloupe being captured April 13, 1794. Among the prizes taken was an American ship, The Betsey (1 Rob. 93). A question arising as to the legality of the capture, the captors justified the seizure by a statement, “that in January, 1794, Guadaloupe was summoned, and was then put into a state of complete investment and blockade.” Lord Stowell said, “ the word complete is a word of great energy, and we might expect from it to find that a number of vessels were stationed round the entrance of the port to cut off all communication : from the protest I perceive that the captors entertained but a very loose notion of the true nature of a blockade, for it is there stated, that on the 1st January, after a general pro

H

a

146 clamation to the French islands, they were put into a state of complete blockade.' It is a term, therefore, which was applied to all those islands at the same time under the first proclamation. The Lords of Appeal have determined that such a proclamation was not in itself sufficient to constitute a legal blockade. I cannot, therefore, lay it down that a blockade did exist, till the operations of the forces were actually directed against Guadaloupe, in April. It must, however, be allowed on the other side, that the island of Guadaloupe was at that time in a situation extremely ambiguous and critical. It could be no secret in America that the British forces were advancing against this island, and that the planters would be eager to avail themselves of the interference of neutral persons to screen and carry off their property under such a posture of affairs; therefore, ships found in the harbours of Guadaloupe must have fallen under very strong suspicions, and have become justly liable to very close examination. The suspicions besides would be still further aggravated, if it appeared, as in this case, that those for whom the ships were claimed kept agents stationed on the island, and might therefore be supposed to be connected in character and interests with the commerce of the place. It is true, indeed, the Lords of Appeal have since pronounced the island to have been not under blockade; but it was a decision that depended upon a greater nicety of legal discrimination than could be required from military persons, engaged in the command of an arduous enterprise.”

A blockade may be more or less rigorous, either for the single purpose of watching the military operations of the enemy, and preventing the egress of their fleet,

а

a

[ocr errors]

as at Cadiz; or, on a more extended scale, to cut off all access of neutral vessels to that interdicted place, which is strictly and properly a blockade ; for the other is, in truth, no blockade at all, as far as neutrals are concerned. It is an undoubted right of belligerents to impose such a blockade, though a severe right, and as such not to be extended by construction; it may operate as a grievance on neutrals, but it is one to which, by the law of nations, they are bound to submit; being, however, a right of a severe nature, it is not to be aggravated by mere construction. (Lord Stowell, The Jungfrau Maria Schroeder, 3 Robinson, 154.)

The second point to be examined is the knowledge which the neutral may have respecting the blockade of any particular port: since, in order to affect him with the penal consequences of a violation, it is absolutely necessary for him to have been sufficiently informed of the blockade itself. This sufficient information may be communicated to him in two ways: by a formal notification from the blockading power, or by the notoriety of the fact. To make a notification effectual and valid," said Lord Stowell, in The Rolla (6 Rob. 367), “all that is necessary is that it shall be communicated in a credible manner; because, though

may be more formal than another, yet any communication which brings it to the knowledge of

party, in a way which could leave no doubt in his mind as to the authenticity of the information, would be that which ought to govern bis conduct, and will be binding upon him. It is at all times most convenient that the blockade should be declared in a public and distinct manner, instead of being left to creep out from the consequences produced by it.”

one mode

the

а

“It is certainly necessary,” said Lord Stowell, " that a blockade should be intimated to neutral merchants in some way or other. It may be notified in a public and solemn manner by declaration to foreign governments; and this mode would always be most desirable, although it is sometimes omitted in practice; but it may commence also de facto, by a blockading force giving notice on the spot to those who come from a distance, and who may therefore be ignorant of the fact.

Vessels going in are in that case entitled to a notice before they can be justly liable to the consequences of breaking a blockade; but I take it to be quite otherwise with vessels coming out of the port which is the object of blockade. There no notice is necessary after the blockade has existed de facto for any length of time; the continued fact is itself a sufficient notice. It is impossible for those within to be ignorant of the forcible suspension of their commerce; the notoriety of the thing supersedes the necessity of particular notice to each ship. The sight of one vessel would not certainly be sufficient notice of a blockade.” (The Henrick and Maria, 1 Rob. 147.)

And again, “ A blockade may exist without a public declaration. The fact, duly notified to an individual on the spot, is of itself sufficient; for public notifications between governments can be meant only for the information of individuals ; but if the individual is personally informed, that purpose is still better obtained than by a public declaration.” (Lord Stowell, The Mercurius, 1 Rob. 82.)

Previous warning under treaties is not indispensable. In The Columbia (1 Rob. 156), an American vessel, captured by British cruisers, Lord Stowell, in con

a

a

demning the ship and cargo, said, “it has been argued that, by the American treaty, there must be a previous warning; certainly where vessels sail without a knowledge of the blockade a notice is necessary; but if you can affect them with the knowledge of that fact, a warning then becomes an idle ceremony of no use, and therefore not to be required.”

The effect of notification to any foreign government is clearly to include all the individuals of that nation. It would be the most nugatory thing in the world if individuals were allowed to plead their ignorance of it. It is the duty of foreign governments to communicate the information to their subjects, whose interests they are bound to protect. A neutral master can never be heard to aver against a notification of blockade that he is ignorant of it. If he is really ignorant of it, it may be a subject of representation to his own government, and may raise a claim of compensation from them, but it can be no plea in the court of a belligerent. It

тау

be different in the case of a blockade de facto, where no presumption arises as to the continuance; and the ignorance of the party may be admitted as an excuse for sailing on a doubtful destination ; but in the case of a blockade by notification, the act of sailing to a blockaded place is sufficient to constitute the offence. (Lord Stowell, in The Neptunus, 2 Rob. 113.)

The effect of notification, as to the subjects of those states to whom it has not been directly made, may not

perate upon the subjects of those states from the same time and in the same manner as upon the subjects of those states to whom it has been directly made; but it would be going too far to say that it does not operate

« ПретходнаНастави »