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appreciating the sympathetic terms in which the acceptance of the greater part of the governments was expressed, the Imperial Cabinet, at the same time, has received, with lively satisfaction, the evidences of most sincere approval which have been addressed to it, and which do not cease to come from all classes of society and from all quarters of the world.
In spite of the great movement of opinion which has taken place in favor of the idea of general pacification, the political horizon has materially changed its aspect. "In recent weeks, several Powers have determined upon new armaments, taking upon themselves the task of increasing further their military forces. In view of this uncertain situation, one might be led to ask whether the Powers really consider the present moment opportune for the international discussion of the ideas put forth in the circular of August 24.
Hoping, nevertheless, that the elements of confusion which are disturbing the political spheres will soon give place to calmer feelings, such as will favor the success of the proposed conference, the Imperial Government is of the opinion that it will be possible to proceed at once to a provisional exchange of ideas between the Powers with this aim in ew, and to make an inquiry without delay as to the means of putting a stop to the progressive increase of armaments on land and sea. The solution of this question is evidently becoming more and more urgent, in view of the recent extension given to these armaments, and of the necessity of preparing the way for a discussion of all questions having reference to the possibility of preventing armed conflicts by the pacific means which are at the disposal of international diplomacy.
In case the Powers should consider the present moment favorable for the meeting of a conference of this kind, it would certainly be useful for the Cabinets to come to some agreement upon the subject of the programme of its deliberations. The topics to be submitted to international discussion in the conference might be stated in general terms as follows:
1. An agreement stipulating that for a time to be agreed upon the existing armed forces on land and sea shall not be increased; the same agreement to apply to the corresponding budgets. visional study of the ways in which, in the future, a reduction of these forces and budgets may be brought about.
2. Interdiction of the use, in the armies and navies, of any new firearms whatever, and of new explosives, as well as of powders more powerful than those actually in use, whether for rifles or for
3. Limitation of the employment, in land warfare, of the formidable explosives already in use, and prohibition of the hurling of projectiles or explosives of any kind from balloons or in analogous ways.
4. Prohibition of the employment, in naval warfare, of submarine torpedo boats or “divers,” or of other engines of destruction of the same nature. Engagement not to construct in the future ships of war with rams.
5. Application to maritime warfare of the stipulations of the Geneva Convention of 1864, on the basis of the additional articles of 1868.
6. Neutralization, on the same terms, of ships or small vessels engaged in saving the wrecked, during or after battles at sea.
7. Revision of the declaration concerning the laws and customs of war made in 1874 by the Brussels Conference, but not ratified up to the present hour.
8. Acceptance of the principles of mediation and voluntary arbitration for cases to which they are applicable, with the view of preventing armed conflicts between the nations; an understanding as to the mode of their application, and the establishment of a uniform practice in their use.
It is, of course, understood that all questions concerning the political relations of the states and their treaty rights, as, in general, all questions not directly included in the programme adopted by the Cabinets must be absolutely excluded from the deliberations of the conference.
In requesting you, sir, to find out the wishes of your government in regard to the subject referred to in this communication, I beg of you, at the same time, to bring to its attention the fact that, in the interest of the great cause which my August Master has so much at heart, His Imperial Majesty judges that it would be advisable for the conference not to sit in the capital of one of the great Powers, where are centred so many political interests which might retard the progress of a work in which all the countries of the world are equally interested.
The Peace Conference at The Hague met on the 18th of May, 1899, in response to the rescript of the Czar of Russia issued on the 24th of August, 1898. The invitation went to all the States having accredited diplom representatives at St. Petersburg; and all of the States invited to the Conference accepted the invitation. There were one hundred members of the Conference: a full list of these, arranged by States, may be found in Mr. Holls's book on the Conference. The commissioners from the United States were Hon. Andrew D. White, Hon. Seth Low, Hon. Stanford Newel, Captain Alfred T. Mahan, and Captain William Crozier; and the secretary and counsel of the commission was Frederick W. Holls. Baron de Staal, the head of the Russian delegation, was elected the president of the Conference. The Conference continued until July 29, when the final act and other documents were signed. The arbitration treaty was signed on July 29 by the representatives of sixteen powers, and was afterwards signed and ratified by all the powers represented at the Conference. The United States Senate ratified it unanimously on Feb. 5, 1900.
The conclusions of the Conference were embodied in three Conventions and three Declarations. The three Conventions were: I. Convention for the peaceful settlement of international differences; II. Convention regarding the laws and customs of war by land; III. Convention for the adaptation to maritime warfare of the principles of the Geneva Convention of the 22d August, 1864. The three Declarations were: I. To prohibit the launching of projectiles and explosives from balloons or by other similar new methods; II. To prohibit the use of projectiles, the only object of which is the diffusion of asphyxiating or deleterious gases; III. To prohibit the use of bullets which expand or flatten easily in the human body, such as bullets with a hard envelope, of which the envelope does not entirely cover the core or is pierced with incisions. The Conference also passed a resolution favoring the restriction of the present burdensome military changes, and formulated various wishes looking toward the limitation of armaments and humaner methods of war.
By far the most important of the acts of the Conference was its First Convention, providing for the peaceful settlement of international differences. This Convention is printed in the present leaflet. Mr. Holls well pronounces it “the Magna Charta of International Law.” It provided, for the first time in history, adequate machinery for the settlement of differences between nations by the methods of reason instead of by force, and marks an epoch for humanity.
“The Peace Conference at The Hague,” by Frederick W. Holls, the Secretary of the American Commission, is a thorough history of the Conference and a critical commentary upon its proceedings; and the student is referred to this work for full information. In the appendix will be found the full text of the various Conventions and Declarations, as well as the reports of the American Commission, and an account of the Hugo Grotius celebration at Delft, July 4, 1899, with the oration of Ambassador White. The introduction to Grotius's “Rights of War and Peace” is published in Old South Leaflet No. 101. See also William Penn's “ Plan for the Peace of Europe," No. 75.
THE DIRECTORS OF THE OLD SOUTH WORK,
Old South Meeting-house, Boston, Mass.
Letter from Lorenzo Pasqualigo to his brothers Alvise and
LONDON, 23rd August, 1497. Our Venetian, who went with a small ship from Bristol to find new islands, has come back, and says he has discovered, 700 leagues off, the mainland of the country of the Gran Cam, and that he coasted along it for 300 leagues, and landed, but did not see any person. But he has brought here to the king certain snares spread to take game, and a needle for making nets, and he found some notched trees, from which he judged that there were inhabitants. Being in doubt, he came back to the ship. He has been away three months on the voyage, which is certain, and, in returning, he saw two islands to the right, but he did not wish to land, lest he should lose time, for he was in want of provisions. This king has been much pleased. He says that the tides are slack, and do not make currents as they do here. The king has promised for another time, ten armed ships as he desires, and has given him all the prisoners, except such as are confined for high treason, to go with him, as he has requested; and has granted him money to amuse himself till then. Meanwhile, he is with his Venetian wife and his sons at Bristol. His name is Zuam Talbot, † and he is called the Great Admiral, great honour being paid to him, and he goes dressed in silk. The English are ready to go with him, and so are many of our rascals. The discoverer of these things has planted a large cross in the ground with a banner * Calendar of State Papers (Venice), i. p. 262, No. 752. A misprint: “T” for “C.”
of England, and one of St. Mark, as he is a Venetian ; so that our flag has been hoisted very far away.
First Despatch of Raimondo di Soncino to the Duke of Milan.*
24th AUGUST, 1497. Some month afterwards His Majesty sent a Venetian, who is a distinguished sailor, and who was much skilled in the discovery of new islands, and he has returned safe, and has discovered two very large and fertile islands, having, it would seem, discovered the seven cities 400 leagues from England to the westward. These successes led His Majesty at once to entertain the intention of sending him with fifteen or twenty vessels. Second Despatch of Raimondo di Soncino to the Duke of Milan.t
18th DECEMBER, 1497. My most illustrious and most excellent Lord,
Perhaps amidst so many occupations of your Excellency it will not be unwelcome to learn how this Majesty has acquired a part of Asia without drawing his sword. In this kingdom there is a certain Venetian named Zoanne Caboto, of gentle disposition, very expert in navigation, who, seeing that the most serene Kings of Portugal and Spain had occupied unknown islands, meditated the achievement of a similar acquisition for the said Majesty. Having obtained royal privileges securing to himself the use of the dominions he might discover, the sovereignty being reserved to the Crown, he entrusted his fortune to a small vessel with a crew of 18 persons, and set out from Bristo, a port in the western part of this kingdom. Having passed Ibernia, which is still further to the west, and then shaped a northerly course, he began to navigate to the eastern part, leaving (during several days) the North Star on the right hand; and having wandered thus for a long time, at length he hit upon land, I where he hoisted the royal standard, and took possession for this Highness, and, having obtained various proofs of his discovery, he returned. The
* Calendar of State Papers (Venice), iii. p. 260, No. 750.
† Annuario Scientifico, Milan, 1866, p. 700 ; Archiv d'Etat Milan, reprinted by Harrisse, p. 324, from the Intorno of Desimoni, and translated from his text for the Hakluyt Society, with his perniission. Also Tarducci, p. 351.