Chap 3-4: Rights

Chap 3: the Rights of Neutral Nations

  • Third, we next show what is due to neutral nations from the belligerent powers.

 

  • The rule of justice with respect to neutral nations is, [275] that they should suffer no injury as they have offended no party.
    • In a war between France and England, the Dutch should have the liberty of trading to both countries, as in the time of peace, as they have injured neither party.
    • They can trade to any part of the country without molestation, unless when they:
      • carry contraband goods, or
      • are going to a besieged town.
  • However, a neutral bottom will not  protect the goods of the enemy.
  • The bottom’s hostility does not forfeit the neutral power’s goods.
    • There is some difference between the practice of ancient and modern nations with respect to theius postliminii, or the recovery of what was lost.
  • The ancient maxim in wartime was that we are always in the right and our enemies always in the wrong.
    • Whatever is taken from the enemy is justly taken.
    • Whatever is taken from us is unjustly taken.
  • On this account, if a Carthaginian had sold to a Roman a Roman ship taken in war, the former owner, whenever he had an opportunity, took it back, as on the above principle it was unjustly taken from him.
  • Now it is quite the opposite.
  • We consider everything done in war as just and equitable.
  • We do not demand nor take back any captures made in it.
  • If an English ship were taken by the French and sold to the Dutch and came to a British harbour, the former British owner has no claim to her.
    • For he had lost all hopes of it, when it had gone into the enemy’s possession.

 

  • There is a very great difference in the conduct of belligerent nations towards a neutral nation in a land war, from what it is in a sea war.
    • This is more the effect of policy than humanity.
  • When an army retreats and the conqueror pursues into a neutral nation, unless it has power to hold out both, it becomes the seat of war, as is often the case, and little or no satisfaction is given for damages;
    • But in a sea war, a ship taken from the most inconsiderable neutral power is always restored. [276]
    • The reason commonly assigned, that it injures their commerce more to take their ships than anything else, is unsatisfactory, for a land war hurts commerce more than it does.
  • The real reason is that a small country cannot assert its neutrality in a land war.
    • But the smallest country can do so in a sea war.
  • A small fort can oblige of the greatest nation to respect its harbour’s neutrality.

 

Chap 4: the Rights of Ambassadors

  • When nations came to have a lot of business one with another, it necessary to send messengers between them.
    • They were the first ambassadors.
  • Anciently, there was little commerce between different nations.
    • Ambassadors were only sent on particular occasions.
    • They were what we now call ‘ambassadors extraordinary’.
    • They returned home after their business was transacted.
  • We find nothing like resident ambassadors in Rome or Greece.
    • Their whole office was to conclude peace, make alliances, etc.
  • Resident ambassadors were first employed in the beginning of the 17th century, by Ferdinand, King of Spain.
    • Even the word ‘ambassador’ comes from the Spanish verb, ambassare, to send.
  • From the earliest times, the Pope had residents or legates at all the European courts.
    • The very same reason that makes embassies now so frequent, induced the Pope formerly to fall upon this method.
    • He had business in all the European countries.
    • Most of his revenue was collected from them.
    • They were continually attempting [277] to infringe the right he claimed.
    • He found it necessary to have a person constantly residing at their courts, to see that his privileges were preserved.
      • The Pope derived several advantages from this custom.

 

  • The merchants of one country had constant claims on the merchants of another country when:
    • commerce was introduced into Europe, and
    • the privileges of every country were settled, regarding the duties payable on goods in another country.
  • They themselves were strangers in those countries.
    • They would be very readily be injured.
    • They often think themselves so.
  • It became necessary to have one of their countrymen constantly residing at the courts of different nations to protect the rights of his fellow-subjects.
  • Anciently, there was little intercourse with different nations.
    • There was no need for resident ambassadors.
    • But now, there is something almost everyday to adjust between dealers.
    • Some person of weight and authority should be there.
      • He should have access to the court, to prevent any quarrel.
  • Ferdinand of Spain established this practice.
    • It initially gave great jealousy to the neighbouring nations to keep ambassadors residing at their courts.
    • He pretended to have no right to do this.
    • He found means of keeping his ambassador there, by:
      • sending an ambassador upon a certain occasion, and
      • starting different questions.
  • This practice was soon copied.
    • It immediately became the universal custom of the European princes.
    • It was reckoned a great affront not to send one.
  • Grotius’ opinions are founded on the practice of ancient nations.
    • He declares against resident ambassadors.
    • He calls them resident spies.
    • But if he had lived in the present [278] age, he would have found that extensive commerce renders it impossible to preserve peace in a month, unless grievances are redressed by a man of authority, who:
      • knows the customs of the country, and
      • is capable of explaining what injuries are really done.
  • The custom of sending ambassadors preserves peace.
    • By giving intelligence, it prevents one country from being invaded by another without notice.
  • When any kind of dispute happens and the ambassador is recalled, you can have intelligence by your communication with other courts, your ambassador there being informed, for ambassadors in general are acquainted with all the business in Europe.

 

  • One country might attain some kind of preeminence by its ambassador’s influence and assiduity.
    • For a long time, no attention was given to it.
    • That balance of power has been recently so much talked of.
    • It was never heard of before.
  • Every sovereign had enough to do within his own dominions.
    • He could bestow little attention on foreign powers.
    • Before the institution of residents, they could have little intelligence.
    • But ever since the beginning of the 16th century, the European nations were divided into two great alliances.
  • On the one hand were England, Holland, Hungary, Muscovy, etc.
    • On the other, were France, Spain, Prussia, Denmark, Sweden, etc.
  • In this way, a kind of alliance was kept up.
    • Sometimes one nation left one side and another joined it, as at present Prussia is with England, and Hungary on the other side.
  • A system of this kind was established in Italy around the 15th century among the great families there.
  • The resident ambassadors of these nations:
    • hinder any one country from domineering over another by sea or land, and
    • are formed into a kind of council not unlike that [279] of the Amphictyons in ancient Greece.
  • They have power to advise and consult on matters, but not to determine any.
    • By combining, they can threaten any one country:
      • pretending to superiority, or
      • making an unreasonable demand.
  • Post offices are of great importance for procuring intelligence, as communication is open through all these countries, both in peace and war, which makes commerce easy, and gives notice of every movement.

 

  • An ambassador’s person must:
    • be sacred, and
    • not subject to any of the courts of justice in the country where he resides.
  • If he contract debts or does any injury, a complaint must be made to his country.
    • When the Dutch arrested the Russian ambassador in 1718, it was complained of as a violation of the laws of nations.
  • The goods which an ambassador buys are not subject to any custom.
    • A sovereign would be exempted from taxes, so must his ambassador who represents him2.
  • When an ambassador makes any attempt to disturb the peace by entering into conspiracies or the like, he may be imprisoned.
    • His house is considered as an asylum for offenders:
      • by way of compliment, and
      • to keep up the dignity of an ambassador.
    • However, he must:
      • be cautious of this privilege, and
      • extend his authority only to the protection of debtors and small delinquents, for the right will be broken through if he harbour those guilty of capital crimes.
  • The ambassador’s servants are also entitled to some considerable privileges.
    • If they have contracted debts, they may be arrested.
    • But this is never done voluntarily.

 

[280]

  • All the words that signify those persons employed by one court at another are derived from the Spanish language.
    • The Spanish court was then the most ceremonious in the world.
    • Spanish dress was everywhere affected.
  • Ambassadors were obliged to keep up much ceremony.
    • They were hindered in the prosecution of their business.
  • A man that has to negotiate matters of the highest importance could not allow so much time to be spent in the endless ceremony of paying and returning visits.
  • Envoys were therefore sent, to whom less ceremony was due, and who could be addressed on any occasion.
    • Their dignity also soon advanced and incapacitated them to transact business.
  • They continued for some time.
  • They were called resident ambassadors ordinary, being of an inferior order to the ambassadors extraordinary.
  • Below this rank is the minister.
  • He resides in the country on account of his own business,
  • He has power to transact any little business of the country to which he belongs.

 

  • A consul is a particular magistrate who is a judge of all matters relating to the merchants of his own country.
  • He takes care to do them justice in those places where it may not be very accurately administered.

 

  • These are the names and offices of the persons employed in the nation’s foreign affairs created by the introduction of commerce.
    • It has now become absolutely necessary.

 

  • Thus we have considered both the laws of nature and the laws of nations.

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