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bero cherished and supported; thus rendering our conduct, as stated from the throne in he year 1794, a contrast to that of the enemy, ultimately maintaining and increasing our character, and contributing to our real security. His lordship concluded by moving the following resolutions :
That it a pears to this house, that ships and other property to a large number and amount, belonging to subjects of his Danish majesty, bave been seized and detained under orders and instructions, issued before information was received by the British government, of the commencement of hostilities with Denmark ; and at a time when there was no alleged or suposed cause of war or reprizals, and when in pursuit of a praceable and lawful commerce, there was an unusual accumulation of Danish ships and cargoes in our ports, under the most perfect confidence of security; and that the said ships and other property have been since condemned as prize to the crown.
That in consideration of the extraordinary circumstances under which the said orders and instructions were issued, it is highly expedient, that except for the purpose of indemnifying such British subjects as may have suffered from the sequestration of their property in Denmark, the appropriation of the proceeds of the said ships and other effects should be suspended, so that no obstacle may be occasioned thereby to such eventual compensation to the original owners, as circumstances may appear to admit of, and as his majesty in his justice and liberality may be pleased to direct.
That it would be highly honourable to the character of this country, that considering the peculiar circumstances of the present case, all mariners and others detained and taken in consequence of the orders and instructions aforesaid, should be released upon such terms and conditions as his majesty may think fit to require.
That at the time of issuing the orders and instructions aforesaid, there were also in the ports of this kingdom many ships and cargoes belonging to subjects of his Danish majesty, which having been unjustly and wrongfully brought into the said ports, had been decreed to be restored to the owners ; and that many more then under adjudication pust, as it appears, have been in like manner decreed to Be restored; that freight-money, to a large amount, had "heen, and other sums of the like nature must have been, pronounced to be due; all which ships, cargoes, and freight-money have, in consequence of the supervening hostilities, been condemned as prize to the crown.
That it is essential to justice and to the honour of the British name, as well as conformable to the ancient practice of our courts, and to the established principles of the law of nations, that effectual means be adopte: for giving to the owners of the said ships, and other property, the full benefit of the decrees pronounced in their favour by the high court of admiralty, or by his majesty's bigh court of appeal for prizes; and the adoption of such means is rendered the more obligatory on the faith of this nation, inasmuch as the posi'ive stipulation of a treaty then sub. sisting between this country and Denmark, was intended to provide again-t a delay, which, however unavoidable in the present instance, has proved so injurious to the ind terests of the subjects of Denmark.
That it is equally essential to jutice and to the honour of the British name, that the crews, or such part of them as had remained in this kingdom, for the better custody and protection of the ships and cargoes so as aforesaid or, dered to be restored, should no longer be considered as prisoners of war.
That the principles of the foregoing resolutions be considered as extending to the proceedlings of all his majesty's courts of prize, wherever the facts of the case, which at present are not before this house, shall warrant their appli. cation.
The Lord Chancellor contended that the real questioni before the house was not with respect to those principles of justice alluded to by the noble lord, but with respect to, their application, under certain circumstances; it being quite clear to his mind, ihat there were circumstances under which the application of these principles must be very different to whai it would be under other circumstances. With respect to the opinion of those eminent men whom the noble lord had quoted, it was quite clear that it was not the opinion' upon which the state bad acted, as in the year 1761 a diametrically opposite doctrine was held, and this country would not subsequently make peace with France, until she gave up the demand that no vessels should be considered as captures which were taken previous to hostilities, or the issuing of reprisals. With respect also to the opinion of sir W. Wynne, a decision of the court of admiralty in the year 1779, was in direct opposition to it. ' An article upon ibis subject was formerly inserted in the seyeral treaties, and from forming part of ilic conventional law of nations, had been confounded with the unwritten law. There could be no doubt, however, that as the law stood, all enemy's property was forfeited to the crown; a
vessel therefore detained, although at the time there might - be no reason for the detention, yet from the circumstances of hostilities commencing, became forfeited to the crown. This might operate as a hard case in many instances upon individuals; but he had great doubts that there could be any thing like a commercial peace and a political war at ihe same time; he thought such a system, and the idea of compensation for losses, would only lead to ruinous speculations on the part of individuals. He saw no ground for the interposition of the house in this case, and should therefore move the previous question.
Lord Erskine admitted that the vessels detained must be forfeited to the crown as enemy's property, and that the court of admiralty could give no relief; but that was no Teason why the crown could not give relief. On the contrary, that was the very object of his noble friend's proposition in this case, to address the crown, with the view of relieving those who had suffered from the application of this principle of law. This proposition had his full and entire approbation, and those who combated it must shew that there was an actual necessity for detaining and keeping these trading vessels ; otherwise the owners were entiiled in justice to a compensation. In justification of the Copenhagen expedition, the case of a conflagration had been put, and it had bech said, that a man had a right to pull down his neighbour's house to prevent the conflagration from spreading to his own : but if his house was under such a plea pulled down by his neighbour, and he afterwards found upon that person some of his property, he would have a right to say, that such a man had not been actuated by a principle of self-defence but of mere self-interest. So in this case, if ihere was a necessity for taking the Danish fleet, a case which he would not again arguc, let us keep it; but do not let us be exposed to the imputation of acting upon motives of mere self-interest, by detai. ing also the trading vessels of the Danes, and thereby commiting great injustice towards individuals. He considercd, therefore, the motion of bis noble friend to be called for by the justice of the case, particularly as mi. nisters had taken no step upon the subject.
Lord Hawkesbury contended, that neither the noble , viscount, nor the noble and learned lord, had proved that there was any departure in this instance from the usage and practice with respect to other nations, or that being consistent with such practice and usage, there was any injustice committed. Phere could not be any doubt as to the law, that enemy's property was forfeited to the crowri, and therefore, that detained vessels in the event of the com• mencement of hostilities became forfeited.
His lordship proceeded to shew that the war was entirely optional on the part of Denmark, and was, in fact, couried by that country; and that the seizing of the ships was not without precedent, a similar conduct having been observed, previous to the breaking out of the Dutch, Spanisl and Prussian wars ; on some of which occasions, the noble lord himself (Sidmouth) was at the head of affairs.
Lord Ellenborough said, the motion of his noble friend did not go to ask a favour of his majesty, in surrendering any thing to which he was entitled jure coronæ ; bat purely to demand from the justice and honour of the country the restitution of those ships, which had been scized at a period when peace and amity existed between the two countries; when we were holding out inducements to them to confide in our assurances of continued friendship ; at a period, in fact, when their ships were in a manner domi. ciled in our courts of adiniralty.
Earl Stanhope expressed his astonishment at the way in which this question had been treated by the noble and
learned lord on the woolsack, and also by the noble baren - (Hawkesbury), who had spoken on the same side of the
question. He was satisfied he should now realize what lie had long ago promised as to the judges, as well as the -bishops, and, as he had then'shewn that the bishops kne sy
nothing of religion, he should now be able to shew that the - judges knew nothing of the law of the land. The noble
and learned lord, indeed, dealt so much in parentheses · within parentheses, that it was hardly possible to extract
bis meaning. As Mr. Justice Vaughan had said, he sheltered hiinself under that veil and cover of words which purported to convey much, but in fact conveyed nothing. As to the knowledge of the noble lord (Hawkesbury) on the subject of Magna Charta, bie should quickly lay him as fat as a flounder. He should astonish the noble lord on this head, and furnish him with information which, from his speech, he should suppose he had never before heard of. His lordship proceeded to quote different passages from Magna Charla, as to the kindness and hospitality to be exercised by the people of this country towards strangers trading towards our coasts; and comparing these passages, and the inducements held out to the Danes to consider the amicable relations between them and this country secure, asked, if our afterwarde seizing, as lawful prizes, on the vessels which, in time of peace, we had detained, could be regarded as any thing short of chousing and rascality? There was a law in this country, which he was sorry to think did exist in it, by which one man was entitled, if another owed him a certain sum, to deprive him of his liberty, and throw him in prison : but would it be attempt. „ed to be maintained, that if such person had been arrested before the debt was due, he could afterwards, when it did become a just debt, be still detained in prison, under the first illegal commitment? If this could not be contended, which he was certain it could not, on what ground of justice, honout, or common honesty, he asked, could the Danish vessels, which had been unjustly seized on in our ports in time of peace, be condemned as lawful prizes because a war had afterwards ensued, which, though it would have warranted their seizure had it existed at the time, that took place, could never have a retrospective quality so as to render valid and legal, what was contrary to every feeling of justice and good faith? He thought the motion did great honour to the noble viscount, and mist raise bim still higher iban be at present stood in tbe opinion of the country and every honest man.
The Earl of Lauderdale entirely concurred in the convin. ciig and judicious observations of the noble earl who had just sat downl, Is to the attempts to vindicate the present measure, by asimilating it to circunstances which bad occurred at the commencement of former wars, these must be completely futile. There never was any thing which bore the smallest resemblance to the present transaction. The war which broke out in the year 1756 bad been referred:o, but it had no application to the present case : there an act of hostility had previously been committed by Frince. As to the last war with Holline, an embargo bad · previously been luid vu in the Dutch ports.