« PreviousContinue »
out pausing to consider whether these observations are perfectly accurate or not as a definition of the law of nations, we may assume that they are substantially. so, and suffice at any rate to show clearly the uncan. did spirit of Sir Alexander's criticism of the imputed language of Mr. Stæmpfli,—a criticism which calls to mind a similar unjust and vicious reproach cast by Junius on Lord Mansfield.
The actual statement of Mr. Stæmpfli, as we have seen, was unexceptionably accurate and precise, in so far as regarded the matters before the Tribunal.
Mes rhile, Mr. Stæmpfli may have said orally, what he says here in print, that in many supposable cases of deficient explicitness either of the conventional rules or of the historic law of nations, “ c'est au Tribunal d'y suppléer en interprétant et appliquant les trois règles de son mieux et en toute conscience."
That is what the Viscount of Itajubá says in one of his opinions, namely, that a certain doctrine, asserted by the British Government, “froisse la conscience.” It is what Count Sclopis intends, when he says, “Les nations ont entre elles un droit commun, ou, si on aime mieux, un lien commun, formé par l'équité et sanctionné
par le respect des intérêts réciproques;" and that such is the spirit of the Treaty of Washington, " qui ne fait que donner la préférence aux règles de l'équité générale sur les dispositions d'une législation particulière quelle qu'elle puisse être.” That is the universal immutable justice," which in all systems of law, international or national, distinguishes right from wrong, and to which the United States appealed in
addressing the Tribunal of Arbitration. And it is the negation of all these great principles of “justice," “equity," or "conscience,” which pervades the “Reasons” of Sir Alexander Cockburn: in reflecting on which, the mind irresistibly reverts to that same line of reasoning which astonished the world in his parliamentary advocacy of David Pacifico.
And now, who is injured by Sir Alexander's acrimonious arraignment of the United States in the last hour of the Arbitration? It does not successfully maintain the honor of the British Ministers; for it recognizes their failure to exercise due diligence, whether tried by the Treaty Rules, by the law of nations, or by the Act of Parliament. Does it influence the action of the Tribunal? No: that was consummated already. Does it injure the American Govern. ment, its Agent and Counsel ? No: so far as regards us, it does but prove that the American Agent and Counsel have done their duty regardless of the vindictive ill-will of the British Arbitrator, and that the United States have been successful to such a degree as to throw the Chief Justice of England into ecstasies of spiteful rage, in which he strikes out wildly against friend and foe alike, but chiefly against his own Gov. ernment, in his desultory criticism' as well of the Treaty of Washington as of the judgment of the Tribunal of Arbitration.
For the British Government, we know, has no dis, position to repudiate the Treaty, and it accepts the Award in good faith, and desires that it should be ac cepted by the people of Great Britain. It can not be
agreeable to the British Government to have all the old debate reopened by the Chief Justice,-to have the Treaty, its Rules, the Arbitration, and the Award, made by him the subject of profuse denunciation,—to have an arsenal of weapons, good, bad, or indifferent, collected by him for the use of the Opposition in Parliament.
Nor can it be agreeable to see the Arbitrator they had appointed demean himself so fantastically, and, as the English Press is constrained to admit, in a manner so painfully in contrast with the dignity and judicial impartiality of the American Arbitrator.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer [Mr. Lowe] gave utterance to these sentiments of grief and regret in a speech at Glasgow on the 26th of September, as fol. lows:
“I conceive our duty to be to obey the Award, and to pay whatever is assessed against us without cavil or comment of any kind. [Cheers.] I am happy to say that such is the opinion of my learned friend, the Lord Chief Justice. But I must say, with the greatest submission to my learned friend, that I wish his practice had accorded a little more accurately with his theory. He has advised us to submit, as I advise you to submit, to the Award, and not only to pay the money, but to forego for once the national habit of grumbling—[laughter]— and to consider that we are bound in honor to do what we are. told, and that, having once put the thing out of our power in the honorable and the high-minded way in which the nation has done, the only way in which we should treat it is simply to obey the Award, and to abstain from any comment whatever as to what the Arbitrators have done. [Cheers.] But, if my learned friend the Lord Chief Justice thought so, I can only very much regret that he did not take the course of simply signing the Award with the other Arbitrators, it being perfectly
well known that he differed from them in certain respects, which would appear by the transactions of the Award. I think it is a pity when the thing is decided, when we are bound to act upon it, and when we are not really justified, in any feeling of honor or of good faith, in making any reclamation or quarrel at all with what has been done, that he should have thought it his duty to stir up and to renew all the strong'arguments and contests upon which these Arbitrators have decided. (Cheers.] I think if it was his opinion that we ought to acquiesce quietly and without murmur in the Award, he had better not have published his argument, and, if he thought it right to publish his argument, he had better have retrenched his advice itself as to the arbitration."
Mr. Lowe can not help seeing that the “Reasons” are not an opinion, but an “argument,” and an “argument" adverse to the conclusions of the writer.
Thus, it would appear, such is the eccentric mental constitution of the Chief Justice, that while he is incapable of going through any process of reasoning without inconsistencies and self-contradictions at ev. ery step, so he can not perform an act, or recommend its performance, without at the same time setting forth ample reasons to forbid its performance.
In the recent debate in Parliament, to be sure, on the Queen's speech, some of the members of both Houses, especially of those in Opposition, speak in terms of laudation of the Reasons" of the Chief Justice. Lord Cairns, on this occasion, seems to have forgotten what he had said, on a previous occasion, of the judicial impartiality to be expected of an arbitrator. And Mr. Vernon Harcourt, in defending the Chief Justice against what the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said of him at Glasgow, unconsciously falls into
the error of characterizing him as “the representative of the Crown, sent forth to discharge his duty to his Sovereign and maintain the honor of his country:" which affords to Mr. Lowe opportunity of responding triumphantly as follows:
“I have not spoken of the Lord Chief Justice in the language in which the honorable and learned gentleman has spoken of him, and which filled me with unbounded astonishment. The Lord Chief Justice was sent to Geneva as an Arbitrator to act impartially, and not to allow himself to be biased by the fact of his being an Englishman, but to give his judgment on what he thought to be the merits of the case. That is my belief with regard to the Lord Chief Justice, with regard to whom I am arraigned by the honorable and learned gentleman as having treated him disrespectfully. But how does the honorable and learned gentleman himself speak of the Lord Chief Justice ? He says that learned Judge was a plenipotentiary,—that is to say, that he went to Geneva to do the work of England, and not to decide between two parties impartially, but to be biased in his course, and to go all lengths for England. The conduct of the Lord Chief Justice negatives such a statement, because in some respects the learned lord went against us. Then the honorable and learned gentleman said that the Lord Chief Justice was sent to Geneva to defend the honor of this country; but the fact is that he was sent to arbitrate, and Sir Roundell Palmer and others were sent to defend the honor of the country. It would be a libel on the Lord Chief Justice to insinuate that he would undertake the office of going to Geneva nominally in the character of Arbitrator, but really to act as an advocate and plenipotentiary for this country.”
It is difficult to judge how much of what Mr. Lowe said on this occasion was intended as sincere defense of the Chief Justice, and how much was mere sarcasm. But this uncertainty is due to the ambiguous and equivocal conduct of the Chief Justice himself, and