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longing to an Englishman, are declared good prize," and all Englishmen found by his troops or officers were allowed to be made prisoners of
As a rejoinder to the British order in council of November 11th, 1807, Napoleon at Milan, on the 17th of December, 1807, issued an Imperial Decree of which we insert a translated copy. It is in these words :
"Napoleon, Emperor of the French, King of Italy, Protector of the Rhenish Confederation."
“Observing the measures adopted by the British government on the 11th November last, by which vessels belonging to neutral, friendly, or even powers the allies of England, are made liable not only to be searched by English cruizers, but to be compulsorily detained in England, and to have a tax laid on them of so much per cent. on. the cargo, to be regulated by the British legisla.
“Observing that by these acts the British go. vernment denationalises ships of every nation in Europe ; that it is not competent for any government to detract from its own independence and rights; all the sovereigns of Europe having in trust the sovereignties and independence of the flag; that if by an unpardonable weakness, and which in the eyes of posterity would be an indelible stain, such a tyranny were allowed to be established
into principles, and consecrated by usage, the English would avail themselves of it to assert it as a right, as they have availed themselves of the toler. ance of governments to establish the infamous principle, that the flag of a nation does not cover goods, and to give to their right of blockade an arbitrary extension, which infringes on the sovereignty of every State ; we have decreed and do decree as follows: “ 1st. Every ship, to whatever nation it
belong, that shall have submitted to be searched by an English ship, or to a voyage to England, or shall have paid any tax whatever to the English government, is thereby, and for that alone, declared to be denationalised ; to have forfeited the protection of its king; and to have become English property.
“2d. Whether the ships thus denationalised by the arbitrary measures of the English government, enter into our ports, or those of our allies, or whether they fall into the hands of our ships of war, or of our privateers, they are declared to be good and lawful prize.
66 3d. The British islands are declared to be in a state of blockade, both by land and sea. Every ship of whatever nation, or whatsoever the nature of its cargo may be, that sails from the ports of England, or those of the English colonies, and of the countries occupied by English troops, and proceeding to England or to the English colonies, or to the countries occupied by English troops, is good and lawful prize, as contrary to the present decree; and may be captured by our ships of war, or our privateers, and adjudged to the captor.
" 4th. These measures, which are resorted to only in just retaliation of the barbarous system adopted by England, which assimilates its legislation to that of Algiers, shall cease to have any effect with respect to all nations who shall have the firmness to compel the English government to respect their flag. They shall continue to be rig. orously in force as long as that government does not return to the principle of the law of nations which regulates the relations of civilized states in a state of war. The provisions of the present decree shall be abrogated and null in fact, as soon as the English abide again by the principles of the law of nations, which are also the principles of justice and honor.
- All our ministers are charged with the execution of the present decree which shall be inserted in the bulletin of the laws.
NAPOLEON." This and the Berlin decree exhibit Napoleon's continental system adopted to compel Britain to abandon her sweeping blockades and her unjust
assumption of municipal jurisdiction over the seas.
By this imperial decree of Milan, and by the Berlin decree, (a copy of which is given in the section on belligerent rights,) Napoleon fully equaled the British orders in council and act of Parliament in injustice and unfounded pretension, by making municipal law for neutrals on the high seas, and subjecting them to capture for disobedience, and by forbidding all commercial intercourse and correspondence with the British Islands. By the Berlin decree he violated all private rights by way of retaliation, while he held that by sea and land private property ought to go free. By the Milan decree all neutral ships were declared good prize for being forcibly searched by a British man of war, or for being coerced to enter a British port and pay tribute.
tribute. It asserts the monstrous principle that a neutral ship partially robbed by the British, should for that reason be seized and confiscated by the French and their allies. These bold and reckless assumptions of municipal jurisdiction over neutrals on the high seas fall within the same condemnation which we have bestowed upon the illegal and unjust British orders in council and act of Parliament, and upon the yet more infamous and inhuman practice of impressment of seaman from neutral ships. It was truly a lawless system of piracy. Public opinion in all enlightened nations, the fundamental declaration on which the Holy Alliance was based, the Gospel and the moral law of nations reprobate these atrocious pretensions to municipal authority over the high seas on the part of France as well as Britain.
SECTION FOURTEENTH. RIGHT OF SEARCH AND MA
The right of search or visitation is another mode by which Britain has sought to push her maritime jurisdiction beyond the three league line of demarkation, which we have shown to be the true boundary of a nation's internal or municipal jurisdiction. This pretension of Britain, under plea of a belligerent right, has no foundation in right reason or the moral law of nations. A neighbor may call at my house for inquiry or civility, and so one ship may speak or visit another in courtesy. It is not a right to visit, it is a visit. This is the view put forth by Albericus Gentilis, a learned and able Italian professor of civil law at Oxford in 1582, called by Sir James Mackintosh the forerunner of Grotius. By some he is esteemed the Father of the Law of Nations. Gentilis maintaining for England the freedom of the Mediterranean sea, in speaking of an attack of a Tuscan ship of war