Sidor som bilder

Hence the existing occasion of war, described by Lord Bacon to be one of the highest trials of right. An international law could only proceed from a congress or confederacy of nations, an event which may be possible when Christianity becomes a living fact, when the people learn that the world was given for men, and not for kings and aristocracies and classes, and discovering their latent strength, know how to use it rightly. As nations are now relatively constituted, they must seek guidance from the acknowledged rules of reason and morality, Vattel has asserted the binding force of the law of nature, in enjoining nations to act with justice, good faith, and benevolence towards each other, which he terms the necessary law of nations ; '* but admitting the moral obligation on nations, as on individuals, the same objection applies, of the want of a superior power to make the moral obligation a positive law, which can be enforced by authority. Attempts have been made to reconcile the rival theories of the origin of international custom, so as to avoid the danger of the consequences which some have drawn, that governments are not so strictly bound by the obligations of the moral law in relation to other powers, as they are in the management of their own local concerns. But, while we fully concur in the sentiment, we cannot see that the argument removes the marked distinction between a moral and a legal obligation ; for the infringement of the one, men are answerable only at the great judgment seat ; for the other, there can be no human punishment. Nations, like the refined society of communities, have in time established certain conventional customs, which are only legally binding so long as they are recognised by all. It might seem useless to insist so strongly on a distinction so obvious, were it not that legislators, from that remarkable ignorance, at the present day, of the first principles of right and of the canons of truth-seeking, so essential to all sound legislation, have founded lofty argumentation on the assumption, that there is a fixed immutable code of international law. In the late debate, a rhetorical flourish by the Foreign Secretary produced some amusing gladiatorship. Civis Romanus sum,' said the eloquent minister, referring to the haughty boast of the Roman, and immediately honourable members got to fisty-cuffs on the knotty point. You are wrong in history and law,' cries the astute representative of Oxford ; it came from imperial Rome, when all the world was in slavery.' No,' answers the learned Solicitor-General, the principle is as old as the young and healthy age of the Republic.'

Without doubt, the principle of protection to wandering

* Prelim. sec. 7.

citizens was a Roman sentiment at a very early period ; but that fact does not prove the establishment of a common custom of nations. Antiquity is almost silent with regard to the so-called law of nations. By the morality of antiquity, the foreigner was regarded as a natural born enemy. Piracy, if committed by a Greek on a barbarian, was esteemed an act of virtue-death or perpetual slavery was the hopeless doom of the captive of war. There is a trace of an international custom designed to mitigate the severities of ancient warfare in the Amphictyonic Council, but the rule of action was applicable only to contests between the Grecian states. The Romans, in theory, had better notions; yet although in the last days of the Republic, the soundest truths of public morality were taught by Cicero, history abounds with proofs of the injustice which prevailed in the treatment of foreign states. With the propagation of Christianity from the time of Charlemagne, a more enlightened sense of right and justice prevailed amongst the nations of Europe, and gave birth in time to the conventional code, which we are accustomed to call the law of nations.

It being thus clearly apparent that there can be no public law more binding than the mere dictum of Grotius or Vattel, or any other jurist, when consistent with the principles of morality, let us see what light the conventional customs of nations have thrown on the question. Have they prescribed a specific course of action in reference to the condition of the subjects of one state residing in the territory of another? Is that course of action consonant with the principles of justice and morality, so far as can be ascertained by the light of reason, the only existing test of validity and obligation ?

The rule of custom is to be sought for in the practice of nations, rather than in any specific rule laid down by the jurists. It is granted on all hands, that when foreigners are admitted into a state upon free and liberal terms, the public faith becomes pledged for their protection. Protection is the logical consequence of admission. To this end, it is essential that the public tribunals of justice should be open to all, for the redress of wrongs. This may be taken as a statement of the general obligation of protection incumbent on the foreign state. But the parent state, too, has a protective duty to perform towards its sons. As the protection of law is a right appertaining to citizenship, under the social compact; and as the rights, obligations, and duties of citizenship are neither lost nor loosened by temporary removal from the territory of that state ; it is just and reasonable that the general protection of the state should still attend the wandering citizen. Up to this point, there is at least moral obligation of protection incumbent on both states. It may be

objected that there is no abstract right to protection from the foreign state—that residence there is a voluntary act, and that by that act the person voluntarily undertakes all the risk and consequences of the act; and by parity of reasoning, that the parent state is absolved from the duty of protection. Unless it can be shown that the moral law is obligatory only on particular nations, the objection fails, for the duty of protection is clearly within the moral law. Let us test the question on grounds of common expediency and necessity. As commercial profit, and other national benefits, accrue to a state from the sojourn of foreigners and the general intercommunication of nations, the protection of law, to as full an extent at least as it affords to its own subjects, is a fair and necessary concession in return for this advantage. The merchant or traveller may reasonably say to the government of the country to which he resorts, 'You open your ports and your cities to the citizens of foreign lands; you invite them to dwell here, so long as they act in obedience to your laws; trusting in your good faith, I have come to your shores in search of profit or pleasure, give me a guarantee of protection for life, and liberty, and property.' This surely is a right which all nations in friendly communication are reasonably entitled to demand of each other. It was one more particularly due by the Government of Greece to England on special considerations of gratitude. The reasonableness of the demand has been universally acknowledged and acted on by civilized nations, so that it is as much recognised as a conventional custom as any other principle of the so-called law of nations. And truly, until the nations of Christendom follow the exclusive policy of Japan, and prohibit the entrance of all foreigners, it is not unreasonable to maintain that it is no less the duty than the right of a parent state to enforce, by the best means in its power, protection for its wandering citizens. Vattel, while laying down the general principle of non-interference, distinctly recognises an exception to the rule in cases where justice is refused. As the practice of nations, the enforcement of protection was clearly proved by the precedents cited in the course of the debate.

But the doctrine of protection was pushed to a most extravagant and unreasonable extent by some of the partisans of Government. It was said, that no subject of the British Crown, living under the laws of a foreign country, should be placed in a worse position than he would be in, if he were living under

Space forbids detail, but the reader who may desire to examine further into the question, will find the cases stated in the Speech of Mr. Roebuck, on the first evening of debate.

the laws of his own country.* What are the inevitable consequences of this doctrine ? An Englishman enjoys the protection of the Habeas Corpus and trial by jury, so long as he continues within the territory of England. Give general assent to this ultra-protective doctrine, and we must forth with go to war with nearly every other state in the world.

A few facts in illustration of the political condition of Greece may help to clear away some of the prejudice introduced into the question. Since the venerable Bishop Germanos reared the banner of the white cross at Patras, and led the patriot mountaineers to a successful revolt against the Turks, European sympathy savoured too much of dilettanti sentimentalism to be practically useful to the young nation. With all the warm professions of love made by liberal Europe for young Greece, she was hardly free from the Turkish yoke when she was handed over to the stupid absolutism of German king.craft. The Greeks bravely carried on the struggle for independence, from 1820 to 1828, when England, France, and Russia, interposed on her behalf; or, to borrow the magniloquent figure of an ex-AttorneyGeneral, soared from their illimitable grandeur to protect her. From the time that Greece raised the standard of nationality, the Government was republican. It was, however, decreed by the three guaranteeing powers that she should have a king. The choice fell on Otho of Bavaria, then a minor ; and looking to the happy fortune of the coëval state of Belgium, in electing a chief magistrate with honesty and enlightenment to rule as the servant, not the master of his people, it is to be lamented for Greece that Leopold was not her first President-King. Under the temporizing policy where liberalism is a sentiment, not a principle, England acquiesced in the views of her co-guarantees. Greece was to be made a constitutional kingdom, according to the aristocratic interpretation of that vague phrase. Large promises were made to the nation ; when Otho came of age and to the years of discretion (seemingly a remote contingency at the present writing) the Hellenic State was to receive a constitution, and the promise was ratified by the King of Bavaria in the name of his son. Otho duly came of age in corporal maturity, but neither Hellenic king, Bavarian father, nor co-guaranteeing powers, saw fit to keep their promise to the nation, the constitution-making was adjourned to the Greek Calends. Otho reigned for thirteen years as an absolute irresponsible monarch, and the little state became the seat of the diplomatic intrigues of despotism, and chief of Russia, which has never forgotten the last injunction of Peter the Great to his successor – Prendre part en

* Speech of Mr. Shafto Adair, June 27.

toute occasion aux affaires et démêlés de l'Europe.' The fruits of the irresponsible misrule of this barbarian prince, with the tyranny, corruption, peculation, and profligacy of the Government, were soon manifested in open rapine and plunder amongst the people. The fountain of justice, which had never flowed purely, became altogether stagnant.

And here we must do an act of justice to the Greek people, by a word of vindication from the unjust and ungenerous aspersions lately cast upon them. It is said, that the Greeks are a race unfit for self-government and free institutions. In that bold assertion, there was not only a fallacy of confusion, concluding from the acts of an irresponsible government the character of a whole nation, but a misconception of the genius of the Greek character, and ignorance of facts materially affecting its development for good or evil. The prominent characteristic of the modern Greek, like that of his immortal ancestors, is an intellectual vivacity, producing a restless activity and desire for excitement and change. From the more sober constitution of the northern mind, it is difficult to appreciate the extent and force of this characteristic; but we may fully comprehend the degrading influence of circumstances all tending to hinder the progress of any race, on a subtle and lively people. Ignorance, the influence of the most superstitous form of Christianity, and grinding oppression, must work evil results on any race ; they acted with more than common virulence in forming the Greek character. Under the grievous weight of an iron rule, the national genius could find no peaceful development save in the pursuits of trade in its lowest and most hurtful form. But the national taste was averse to peace, and rapine and plunder, in consequence, came to be considered a regular occupation. Is it strange that dishonesty, in all its varying forms, from the bold robbery of the brigand to the petty knavery of the pedlar-merchant, should seem the prominent feature of the Greek character—and we judge from the worst specimens the trading Greeks—more especially, as no example for intellectual culture and nobler exertion was held out by a higher class, sunk in degrading luxury or profligacy? With proofs before us at home, and in every trading city of Europe, of the lamentable results of the Christian oppression of the middle ages on the character of the homeless Jew, we hold up our hands and exclaim, Behold these dishonest, degraded Greeks ! It is surely proof of intellectual vigour, and of capacity for social improvement, that a national spirit did exist and maintain itself against these disastrous influences. The war of independence carried on from 1820 till 1828, and the general character and conduct of the Greek people since they became an independent nation,

« FöregåendeFortsätt »