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high court of admiralty referred to, without attending to the limitations therein contained.
In order, therefore, to put a stop to the inconveniences arising from these erroneous sentences of the vice-admiralty court, I have the honour to signify to your lordships, the King's pleasure that a communication of the doctrine laid down in the said report, should be immediately made by your lordships to the several judges presiding in them, setting forth what is held to be the law upon the subject by the superior tribunal, for their future guidance and direction.
I am, &c.
The Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty.
Extract of the advocate-general's report, dated March 16th, 1801.
I have the honour to report that the sentence of the vice-admiralty court appears to me erroneous, and to be founded in a misapprehension or misapplication of the principles laid down in the decision of the court of admiralty referred to, without attending to the limitations therein contained.
The general principle respecting the colonial trade, has, in the course of the present war, been to a certain degree relaxed, in consideration of the present state of commerce. It is now distinctly understood, and it has been repeatedly so decided by the high court of appeal, that the produce of the colonies of the enemy may be imported by a neutral into his own country, and may be re-exported from thence, even to the mother-country of such colony: and, in like manner, the produce and manufactures of the mother-country, may, in this circuitous mode, legally find their way to the colonies. The direct trade, however, between the mother-country and its colonies, has not, I apprehend, been recognized as legal, either by his Majesty's government, or by his tribunals.
What is a direct trade, or what amounts to an intermediate importation into the neutral country, may sometimes be a question of some difficulty. A general definition of either, applicable to all cases, cannot well be laid down. The question must depend upon the particular circumstances of each case. Perhaps the mere touching in the neutral country to take fresh clearances, may properly be considered as a fraudulent evasion, and is, in effect, the direct trade; but the high court of admiralty has expressly decided (and I see no reason to expect that the court of appeal will vary the rule), that Landing Thb
GOODS AND PAYING THE DUTIES IN THE NEUTRAL COUNTRY, BREAKS THE CONTINUITY OF THE VOYAGE, AND IS SUCH AN IMPORTATION AS LEGALIZES THE TRADE, ALTHOUGH THE GOODS BE RESHIPPED IN THE SAME VESSELS, AND ON ACCOUNT OF THE SAME NEUTRAL PROPRIETORS, AND BE FORWARDED FOR SALE TO THE MOTHER-COUNTRY OR THE COLONY.
* (A true copy.) JAMES WAGNER,
How very difficult for a naval officer to perform his duty, when the laws by which he is guided, and the orders under which he acts, are capable of such varied construction! A neutral by the simple, though circuitous, mode of purchasing a cargo at Martinique, going to St. Augustine or Charlestown (nothing out of his way to Europe); taking a fresh crew, and other papers, may proceed to any, port not blockaded :—who can detect whether he has paid the duties or not? and, if paid, who knows but they may have been immediately refunded?
The capture of French fishing-boats by British cruisers, was a subject of difficult and intricate discussion, being a question susceptible of much variety of opinion, founded more on assertion than facts. Some of these vessels were large boats of sixty tons burden, with half decks. The French government having caused them to be held in readiness to convey troops, for the purposes of invasion, or our government having received information to that effect, an order in 1798 had been issued for their detention, and afterward rescinded, but on fresh suspicion arising, the order was again repeated and enforced. The reasons for renewing this violent proceeding are given in a letter from Mr. Dundas, to the lords commissioners of the admiralty.
Downing Street, January 21, 1801.
Having received various advices, that the French government has abused the favours granted to the fishermen of that nation, according to the letter addressed to your lordships, the 30th May last, by which I informed you, that it was his Majesty's pleasure that the orders given to cruisers, to capture all the fishermen, as well as their boats, should be recalled; having even reason to believe, that these fishermen, as well as their boats, are in requisition, and sent to Brest to equip and arm the fleet there; and that those who were released from prison, in order to be sent home, under the express condition of not serving again, are comprised in that requisition; I am ordered to signify to your lordships, that it is his Majesty's pleasure, that the orders given in consequence of my letter of the 28th January, 1798, be again put in execution, as far as relates to the fishermen and their boats; and that the commissioners charged with the service of the conveyance and guard of prisoners of war, be authorized to demand, in the usual mode of communication, that all those set at liberty upon parole, be required to return into this country; and to signify to them, as well as tbe French government, that those among them who neglect to obey these orders, shall be made to suffer all the rigour of the laws of war, in case they should again be made prisoners, while serving the enemies of his Majesty..
I am, &c.
Whether, in this discussion, the reasoning of Mr. Otto had any weight, we cannot determine: a perseverance in such a measure was, he observed, more likely to fill the French navy with men, driven from their natural occupation. The order was a second time rescinded. But in justice to our government, it must be observed, that the relative situation of the two countries was widely different. France had declared its intention of invading England, and it had been put forth by them, that there was not a fishing-boat but what would convey a certain number of soldiers; and calculating the number of their boats from the Texel to Rochefort, at the moderate number of two thousand, and that each might convey fifty men, the extent of such a force is readily estimated; nor do we think the point would have been so soon abandoned, had not the representation of Mr. Otto been accompanied by certain indications of a pacific nature. The seizure of these boats was continued with great rigour in the years 1803, 1804, and 1805.
Causes of renewal of the war—Illegal seizure and condemnation of four British vessels—State of preparation in England and the colonies—Committee of supply—Observations of Mr. Grenville—Chancellor of the Exchequer—Comparison of naval forces—Sir Sidney Smith—Right Hon. C. Yorke —His observations on the land forces of France and England—King's message to parliament of 8th March—Ditto, 16th May, announcing war with France—Ditto, 17th June, respecting Holland—Malta—Remarks in the house of lords, by the Duke of Clarence, Lords Mulgrave and Melville—Disposition of the naval forces—State of the dock-yards as to naval stores—Acts of hostility—Doris takes Affronteur—Minotaur the Franchise—Naiad the Impatiente—Loire the Venteux—Capture of the Minerve— Gallant conduct of Honourable Lieut. Walpole—Anecdote of a wounded sailor—Remarks on Monsieur Dupin's work —Treatment of prisoners of war—Cruelty and injustice of French government—Generosity of individuals towards English prisoners—Monsieur Dubois—Peregaux—Anecdote of Captain Hallowell—Detenues—Shameful treatment of them by French—Cruelty to crew of Minerve—Relieved by the British government and their own officers—The blind sailor—French government forbid relief to prisoners—Refuse an exchange—Comparison between French and English officers in care of their men while prisoners— Observation in refutation of Monsieur Dupin—Pontous, causes of suffering, owing to the French only—Reflections.
It is the distinguishing mark of a base mind, to increase in violence in proportion as his adversary offers terms of conciliation. Such was the conduct of Bonaparte towards the government of Great Britain in 1802; and the best informed men of the empire were not so much surprised at the