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In maintaining her view of the law of the sea, England did not deny that what she seized on its way to the enemy, the enemy might seize on its way to her own ports—if he could. That her superiority at sea gave her the advantage could not affect the soundness of the principle. So long as timber and stores are contraband, the neutral carries them subject to the risk of seizure; and the advantage lies with the stronger belligerent at sea, who can not only seize cargoes going to his adversary, but protect those coming to his own ports. But once declare them to be not contraband, the advantage of superiority at sea passes away, and the weaker belligerent gets on more equal terms, the neutral profits increasing accordingly. Hence the perpetual struggle to include stores in the free list. This has been true of all our wars with France; it was specially true when she joined the American colonists, with the avowed object of reducing England to the position of a secondrate Power.
The policy advocated by De Vergennes in 1776 was to raise the effective forces of France and Spain 'au niveau de leur puissance réelle'; and even Turgot thought it necessary • rétablir sans éclat nos forces militaires, remplir nos magasins, réparer nos vaisseaux, nous mettre en état d'armer promptement, lorsqu'il en sera besoin, une escadre à Toulon, et successivement une à Brest, pendant que l'Espagne en armerait une à Ferol.' When, two years later, war was declared and England was free to confiscate naval stores in Dutch ships, M. de Sartine, Secretary for the Marine, wrote to Vergennes, "Si les Anglais prennent les neutres, nos approvisionnements pour l'année prochaine seront interceptés; vous jugez du mal que cela nous fera.' Dr Fauchille, in his work on the Armed Neutralities, thus sums up the situation : C'était pour la France l'unique moyen d'assurer l'appro. visionnement de ses ports et l'entretien de sa marine, conditions indispensables au soutien de la guerre navale contre l'Angleterre. La France ne trouvait pas en elle-même les matériaux essentiels pour la navigation-seule, elle n'aurait pu importer toutes les choses nécessaires. Il fallait donc recourir à l'étranger.'
The Archives bristle with similar statements. The syllogism is already complete : war at sea cannot be carried on without ships maintained and equipped in full fighting efficiency; and this cannot be done by either belligerent without ships' timber and naval stores. No country can of itself provide all that those terms connote, but must buy them from the neutrals; therefore all those things which are essential to war at sea are 'munitions of war,' and contraband.
Let us be rid of technicalities, and state the case in simplest terms. On the one side, the deliberate intention to wrest the sovereignty of the seas from England; on the other, the assertion that timber for building and repair of ships, and stores for their efficient maintenance, were munitions of war, because they were as essential to the carrying out of that intention as for defeating it. And yet it was gravely contended that timber and stores were not contraband!
The Vryheid,' seized in 1778, bound from Riga to Rochefort, had a cargo of .71 masts of above 90 feet in length fit for first-rate ships of war, 12 small ditto, 400 boat masts, 100 spars, and 2,900 deals.' The fleet of Swedish merchantmen, seized in 1798, of which the • Maria' was one, were carrying pitch, tar, hemp, deals, and iron to the ports of France. Such seizures, like those in Prussian ships in 1744-48, struck at the root of the enemy's naval preparations; and some way had to be found to get rid of England's obduracy. One way was to denounce her as the Tyrant of the Seas.' But hard words free no cargoes, and it was necessary to devise something which, if possible, could be set up as a principle. And thus many curious doctrines made their appearance, among them these: (a) that neutrals had a right to carry enemy property free from seizure, except contraband; so that, if the definition of contraband could have been limited, the trade in timber and stores would escape molestation; (b) that to visit and search a neutral vessel was an 'insult' to its flag, and that its papers were conclusive as to the nature of its cargo; the statement no contraband on board' would then have been governed by the neutral's own interpretation of the term, which excluded timber and stores ; (c) that this right of the neutral might be
enforced by an escort of war-ships; a challenge which, unless they were met by a larger fleet, would force the cargoes through the perils of the Straits; (d) that neutral merchant ships are part of the neutral territory --which merely stated the flag contention in a more untrue manner; (e) that private property' was immune at sea-a larger and more specious doctrine, much insisted on by Bonaparte, which, if adopted, would have got rid of the necessity for defining contraband altogether. Thus, by every means which sophistry could devise, it was attempted to get timber and stores safely to the enemy dockyards. Here, then, is the first reason for keeping the old policy alive to-day; it emphasises the true intent of those doctrines which still appeal to the humanitarian, the commercialist, and the philosophicradical, almost as strongly as to the enemy and the neutral.
There was one other ingenious argument: that contraband, being munitions of war, meant articles just as they were used in war, and not the materials of which they were made. In one of the propaganda pamphlets issued by Frederick the Great's lawyers in 1753, under the pseudonym of a "Burgomaster of Middelburg,'* this contention was tentatively put forward :
* En général les traités ne mettent au rang des marchandises de contrebande que les munitions de guerre; c'est à dire, les choses faites ou fabriquées, et non les matières qui servent à les faire. Telle est la règle commune.'
True, the rule had sometimes been departed from, as in the Treaty between Denmark and Holland of 1701, which treated naval stores, 'ainsi que tout ce qui sert à l'équipement des vaisseaux,' as contraband. But what a prodigious reduction this involved in the commerce of Denmark! With France and Spain it would be ruined. Such agreements were bizarres, et contraires au droit naturel.' • Voilà,' the author exclaims, 'où conduisent des dispositions contraires au
* • Lettre d'un Bourguemaître de Middelbourg à un Bourguemaître d'Amsterdam, sur le differens entre les Rois d'Angleterre et de Prusse ; traduit du Hollandais'; published at the Hague, June 1753. Vol. 236.--No. 468.
droit commun!' Set against this contention the argument on which the policy of ships' timber' was based, and it crumbles away. Plank and masts, hemp and stores of all kinds were the materials with which ships were built and kept afloat; they must therefore be affected by the contraband quality of the entire ship. What is true of the whole must be true of the part ; for were it otherwise, then, as Sir James Marriott said in the case of the Vryheid':
'If one Dutch ship carries masts, another anchors, another sails, another a ship's frame (and such there is now taken, of size for a 70-gun ship), a whole fleet may go by detail from Holland for the King of France's service.'
Here, then, is the underlying principle: that materials or ingredients of contraband articles are themselves contraband, subject only to the general rule of 'enemy destination '; in this case more precisely defined to bedestined to the construction, or manufacture, of the article of contraband.
The opposite principle, however, in part persisted up to the time of the last discussion on maritime law. The Declaration of London, adopting the list of contraband agreed to at the Second Hague Conference, included the distinctive component parts of certain things them. selves declared to be contraband, as of arms and projectiles, but did not include the materials of which * powder and explosives' are composed.* It is unnecessary now to examine the reasons which led the Conference to adopt this narrow view ; suffice it to say that during the late war, after a few revisions of the list of contraband, this item was added on Dec. 23, 1914, • Ingredients of explosives, viz. ...,' altered on Oct. 14, 1915, to Materials used in the manufacture of explosives, including ..:
: How great a part this broad definition played in the ultimate victory need not be emphasised.
The disappearance of wooden ships probably enabled the British Government to rest content with the item
* It is interesting to note that in the Memorandum of the United States it was suggested that munitions et explosifs de toutes sortes et les éléments dont ces corps se composent' should be included ; and some other nations put forward similar suggestions.
Warships, including boats and their distinctive component parts of such a nature that they can only be used
a vessel of war'; but, though the fundamental principle of the old policy may have been temporarily overshadowed by the desire of the Government of that day to bring about the total abolition of contraband, the necessities of war almost immediately compelled a recognition of the fact that ingredients are of as much assistance to the enemy as the manufactured article.
So great, as I have traced them, through all its story, were the difficulties which the spirit of the Navy has had to contend with, so great was the spirit which overcame them, the endurance with which it triumphed over all the perils which have encompassed it; of which the peril of the enemy was not the greatest, nor the peril of the neutral the most insidious. The greater perils came from the country itself-of pilfering by all and sundry, so that whole houses were built of chips'; of peculation by dishonest purveyors, so that all made fortunes; of party, which set the incompetent in the place of the competent, and of consequent maladministration; of the weevil in the biscuit, and of salted beef blue and white mouldy,' which led to the cat; of mutiny, which led to the yard-arm; of Commissions without number, and reports that always told the same story, lack of oaktimber and stores; of spasmodic plantings urged by the student's eloquence, which succumbed to consistent pillage; of individual profit always preferred to the safety of the State-and yet, through it all, the spirit has prevailed, by its 'native spring and toughness which, perchance, it has borrowed from the English oak -the spirit which has given to England the command of the sea. The command does not rest merely on numbers of big ships, and numbers of their crews, but on the spirit behind them. The Navy has in its charge the Peace and Safety of the Empire. Now it has accepted the larger doctrine, which has its origin in the times when it chased the pirates from the Narrow Seas, that the command carries with it an even greater obligation, to stand for the Peace of the World.
F. T. PIGGOTT.