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termed, of “ Continuous Voyages,” which has recently been applied to the conveyance of Contraband of War and to constructive breaches of Blockade, is open to this objection, as successive voyages have by a fiction of law been treated as a single voyage, whilst voyages between one neutral port and another have been visited with the penal consequences of voyages between a neutral and an enemy's port. Of this new phase of continuous voyages it may be said, that the Belligerent Prize Court has stepped on to a dangerous declivity, down which it may be difficult for it to arrest its descent, until the Belligerent has subjugated the commerce of neutral nations to belligerent exigencies to an extent never before submitted to, and hardly tolerable either to their interests or to their selfrespect. “ The rule thus established,” to use the language of a distinguished American Jurist, * “ gives to the Cruisers and the Prize Courts a wider and more uncontrolled sweep of interference with commerce between proscribed neutral ports, than they possess in respect to commerce between neutral and belligerent ports."
The fiction of continuous voyages, for such I presume to call it, as applied to Contraband of War and breach of Blockade, is not altogether a novel invention. It is a new graft on an old stock, which is now worn out, for the circumstances under which Lord Stowell introduced the doctrine, as it has been termed, of “continuous voyages" have passed away, never to return, any more than the infancy of transatlantic colonial life, of which such voyages were the accidents. The parent stock, on which Lord Stowell's doctrine was engrafted, was known in the language of the English Prize Courts as “the Rule of the War of 1756," under which it was held, that it was inconsistent with neutrality for the subject of a neutral State to interpose in time of war in a trade between a belligerent
* Hon. William Maxwell Evarts, now Secretary of State of the United States of America.
State and its Colonies, when the neutral was forbidden by the laws of the belligerent State to take any part in such trade in time of peace. “ Trade indeed,” to use the language of the eminent American Jurist, whom I have just mentioned, “ between the European States and their transmarine Colonies was not open during the last century, nor in the early part of the present century, to the navigation of other nations. When therefore under the stress of war any one of those States threw open this interdicted colonial trade to neutrals, the hostile Power refused to recognise this as lawful neutral commerce. On the contrary, it was treated as succour to the enemy in relief of his trade, which the war had strangled, and the adverse belligerent captured and condemned the ships and cargoes of the neutral, as of an enemy.” “As trade, however, in subsequent times,” to use the language of the same eminent American Jurist, “ between the Colonies and the neutral State, and the neutral and the European States was incontestably open to the neutral, a trade was attempted of a colourable importation from Cuba, for instance, into Boston, and from Boston to Spain, and so of return cargoes, through the interposition of a neutral port. This scheme was denounced and this commerce was attacked by the belligerent. The question for the Prize Courts was, whether the importation into and the exportation from the intermediate neutral port were really transactions of the neutral's own and of course legitimate commerce, or whether it was really a trade between the Colony and the parent State, and the interposition of the neutral port was only colourable.” It was to meet this novel form of neutral adventure in aid of an enemy's trade and to prevent the produce of an enemy's colony from being imported into the mother country or vice versâ through an apparently legitimate channel, which was in fact a counterfeit, that Lord Stowell took upon himself to invent the doctrine, as it has been termed, of " continuous voyages," and clothed
it in language, which has enabled the Prize Courts of the United States to apply it with plausibility to a very different class of cases. For whereas Lord Stowell's object was to prevent an abnormal trade being carried on by neutrals in aid of the enemy, and he was careful never to condemn the neutral, unless the hostile character of the adventure was conclusively established by the cargo being captured on its ulterior voyage to the enemy's port, in the more recent cases, to which I shall presently refer, the Prize Courts of the United States have dealt more rigorously with neutrals than Lord Stowell ever did, for they have condemned neutral property, whilst it was on a voyage de facto from one neutral port to another, and where an ulterior voyage to an enemy's port has been matter only of conjecture. The corpus delicti in the cases before Lord Stowell was incontestible; in the American cases the corpus delicti has been a presumption of the Prize Court.
The war now raging gives to questions affecting the rights of neutral commerce a peculiar interest at the present moment, and if serious changes have been made by a Great Power in administering the Law of Contraband and of Blockade, it behoves neutral merchants to make themselves acquainted with those changes, and Neutral Governments to determine whether they will acquiesce in them or not. Before the late war in North America, which may be now appropriately described as the Southern Rebellion, it had been commonly assumed that if a neutral port was the bonâ fide destination of a neutral ship, and the intended termination of the voyage, in which she was captured, neither the ship nor her cargo, if the cargo was also neutral property, could be rightfully condemned in a Belligerent's Court as good prize of war; and that a Prize Court would not inquire what was the contingent destination of the cargo, after it had been landed from the ship at its port of arrival. The practice of Great Britain heretofore on this subject has been well stated by Sir Edward Creasy, late Chief Justice of Ceylon, in his “ First Platform of International Law,"* from which I cite, not only because it is an excellent manual of International Law, but because it is one of the most recent English Treatises on the subject. “The subject of the proof of hostile destination of contraband goods," he says, “is one attended with considerable difficulty; and questions on it seem likely to multiply in future wars. The general rules on the subject are thus laid down in the British Admiralty's “ Manual of Naval Prize Law.”+ (a). A vessel's destination should be considered neutral
if both the port, to which she is bound, and every intermediate port, at which she is to call in the
course of her voyage, be neutral. (6). A vessel's destination should be considered hostile,
if either the port to which she is bound, or any other intermediate port, at which she is to call in the course of her voyage, be hostile, or if, in any part of her voyage, she is to go to the enemy's fleet at sea. It frequently happens that a vessel's destination is expressed in her papers to be dependent upon contingencies. In such case the destination should be presumed hostile, if any one of the ports, which under any of the contingencies she may be intended to touch at or go to, be hostile; but this presumption may be rebutted by clear proof that her master has definitely abandoned a hostile destination, and is pursuing a
neutral one. (c). “The destination of the vessel is conclusive as to the
destination of the goods on board. If, therefore, the destination of the vessel be hostile, then the destination of the goods on board shall be considered
hostile also, notwithstanding it may appear from the - papers or otherwise that the goods themselves * John Van Voorst, London, 1876. + Butterworths, London, 1866.
are not intended for the hostile port, but are intended to be forwarded beyond it to an ulterior neutral port. On the other hand, if the destination of the vessel be neutral, then the destination of the goods on board should be considered to be neutral, notwithstanding it may appear from the papers or otherwise that the goods themselves have an ulterior hostile destination to be attained by transhipment, overland conveyance, or other
wise." “ So much of these rules," says Sir Edward Creasy, “as considers the destination of goods on board a vessel to be conclusively established by the destination of the ship, is in accordance with the doctrine hitherto maintained by the British Courts, and is, I believe, also in conformity with the general opinion formerly held by the great majority of jurists on the subject. But it is in conflict with a large number of recent American decisions, and it is nearly certain to be disputed by powerful naval belligerents in future wars. According to the doctrine now maintained by several high authorities, and repeatedly enforced by the Courts of the United States, articles contraband of war, which the belligerent can prove to be destined for his enemies' use, are liable to seizure, though the ship in which they are found is destined to take them only to some neutral port, whenever they are to be forwarded by another conveyance to their hostile ultimate destination."
The case of the Bermuda* (3 Wallace, p. 314), may be cited as the leading case on this subject, in which the subtilties of the new doctrine are ably expounded by the late Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
The Prize Courts of the United States have further engrafted the doctrine of "continuous voyages ” on the
* The case of the Bermuda, a feet and successful blockade runner, had nothing in common with that of the Springbok, except the novel application of the doctrine of "continuous voyages."