Page images
PDF
EPUB

templated being heard for many months. And the result of all this meditation, and of all this earnest desire to serve his country, was a series of arguments mostly immaterial to the issue, as the final judgment of the Tribunal plainly shows, and coming in after the main question had been actually settled in the cases of the Alabama and the Florida. That is to say, and it is in this relation the point is introduced, the claims of the United States rested on a basis which all the great forensic skill and ability of Sir Roundell Palmer could not move,—which commend ed itself to the confidence of the neutral Arbitrators, —and which even extorted the reluctant adhesion of the prejudiced British Arbitrator.

Subsequently, on requirement of the Arbitrators, we discussed, in successive printed Arguments, the special question of the legal effect of the entry of the Florida into Mobile; the question of the recruitment of men for the Shenandoah at Melbourne; and the question of interest as an element of the indemnity due to the United States.

QUESTION OF DAMAGES. Meanwhile, the Tribunal had voted definitively on the question of the liability or non-liability of Great Britain for the acts of the cruisers named in the “ Case” of the United States, in the terms which will appear in explaining their final judgment. They had also voted on several of the incidental questions, such as the abstract question of due diligence, entry into Confederate ports, commission, and supply of coal,

raised by successive requirements of the Tribunal. They had thus arrived at the point of discussing matters, which only affected the form and the amount of the judgment to be rendered against Great Britain,

And here, on the 26th of August, the Tribunal voted to deliberate with closed doors, in spite of the objection of Sir Alexander Cockburn.

Thenceforth, and until the final Conference of the 14th of September, the Tribunal sat with closed doors, that is, without the assistance of the Agents and Counsel.

Down to this time, the Agent, Counsel, Solicitor, and Secretaries of the United States had been assid. uously occupied in preparing, copying, translating, and printing Arguments and other documents for the use of the Tribunal. And even when the regular discussions were ended, we had still to attend to the laborious task of preparing schedules of the claims of the United States in response to argumentative estimates filed by the British Government.

FINAL JUDGMENT OF THE TRIBUNAL.

On the 9th of September the Arbitrators definitively adopted the Act of Decision, which had been considered at the preceding Conference, and ordered it to be printed. They also resolved that the Decision should be signed at the next Conference, to be held with open doors, and they then adjourned to the i4th.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF TIIE DECISION. On Saturday, the 14th of September, the Tribunal assembled at the hour of adjournment,-half past twelve o'clock. The Hall of Conference was crowded at this hour with the Arbitrators and the gentlemen attached to the Arbitration, the ladies of their respective families, the members of the Cantonal Government, representatives of the Press of Switzerland, the United States, and Great Britain, and gentlemen and ladies among the most estimable of the private citizens of Geneva. The day was beautiful; the scene imposing and impressive. But the British Arbitrator, , Sir Alexander Cockburn, remained unaccountably ab-, sent, while curiosity grew into impatience, and impa. tience into apprehension, until long after the pre- : scribed hour of meeting, when the British Arbitrator finally made his appearance.

The official action of the Conference commenced with the accustomed formalities.

The President then presented the Act of Decision of the Tribunal, and directed the Secretary to read it in English, which was done: after which duplicate originals of the Act were signed by Mr. Adams, Count Frederic Sclopis, Mr. Stæmpfli, and Viscount of Itajubá;

copy of the Decision, thus signed, was delivered to each of the Agents of the two Governments respectively.

Another original was subscribed in like manner, to be placed, together with the archives of the Tribunal, among the archives of the Council of State of the Carton of Geneva.

and a copy

Sir Alexander Cockburn, as one of the Arbitrators, declining to assent to the Decision, presented a statement of his “Reasons,” which, without reading, the Tribunal ordered to be received and recorded.

Thereupon, in an appropriate address, Count Sclopis declared the labors of the Arbitrators to be finished, and the Tribunal dissolved.

The discourse of Count Sclopis was immediately followed by salvos of artillery, discharged from the neighboring site of La Treille by order of the Cantonal Government, with display of the flags of Geneva and of Switzerland between those of the United States and of Great Britain.

It is impossible that any one of the persons present on that occasion should ever lose the impression of the moral grandeur of the scene, where the actual rendition of arbitral judgment on the claims of the United States against Great Britain bore witness to the generous magnanimity of two of the greatest nations of the world in resorting to peaceful reason as the arbiter of grave national differences, in the place of indulging in baneful resentments or the vulgar ambition of war. This emotion was visible on almost every countenance, and was manifested by the exchange of amicable salutations appropriate to the separation of so many persons, who, month after month, had been seated side by side as members of the Tribunal, or as Agents and Counsel of the two Governments; for even the adverse Agents and Counsel had contended with courteous weapons, and had not, on either side, departed, intentionally or con

sciously, from the respect due to themselves, to one another, and to their respective Governments.

CONDUCT OF THE BRITISH ARBITRATOR.

To the universal expression of mutual courtesy and reciprocal good-will there was but one exception, and that exception too conspicuous to pass without notice.

The instant that Count Sclopis closed, and before the sound of his last words had died on the ear, Sir Alexander Cockburn snatched up his hat, and, without participating in the exchange of leave-takings around him, without a word or sign of courteous recognition for any of his colleagues, rushed to the door. . and disappeared, in the manner of a criminal escaping from the dock, rather than of a judge separating, and that forever, from his colleagues of the Bench. It was one of those acts of discourtesy which shock so much when they occur that we feel relieved by the disappearance of the perpetrator.

SIR ALEXANDER COCKBURN'S REASONS FOR DISSENT.

The British Arbitrator, who, so frequently in the course of the Conferences, acted as a party agent rather than a judge, had been occupying himself in the preparation of a long Argument on the side of Great Britain, in which he throws off the mask, and professedly speaks as the representative of the British Government. He withheld this Argument from the knowledge of the Tribunal at the proper time for its presentation as the “Reasons" of an Arbitrator. At the last moment,—without its being read to the

« PreviousContinue »