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every maritime war, the neutral northern powers have considered as a great grievance the right of searching and making prize of the enemy's property on board of their ships, by which they are deprived of the benefit which they might obtain, by becoming carriers to the belligerent standing most in need of their assistance.
These considerations produced the armed neutrality in 1780. The principles upon which that fystem was formed, are fo congenial to the particular interests of the northern powers, that they will never be abandoned. They may be suspended from the want of power to enforce them, but they are still fondly cherished. We are convinced that the existing dispute is founded upon an endeayour to get them recognised. It will be of importance, therefore, to state distinály, what those principles and pretensions were in 1780. There can be no doubt that they are still the same. For this reason our readers will be gratified to see the doctrines held by Denmark in the official declaration * on the affair of the armed neutrality, in which Denmark and Ruslia were the original parties. Count Bernstorff, indeed, is supposed to have been the author of that system.
After ftating his determination to maintain a striet neutrality, &c. afTerting the claims of free trade, and of the respect due ia the flag of an independent power, the declaration of his Danish Majesty sums up the pretensions of neutrals in the following fix articles :
Art. 1. "That neutrals have a right to navigate freely from port to port, even on the coasts of the powers at war.
2. That the effects of the subjects of the powers at war shall be free in neutral vessels, except such as are deemed contraband.
3. That nothing is to be understood under the denomination of contraband that is not expressly mentioned as such in the third article of his (the King of Denmark's) treaty of commerce with Great Britain in the year 1670, and the 26th and 27th articles of his treaty of commerce with France in the year 1742 ; and the King will equally maintain these rules with those powers with whom he has no treaty.
4. That he will look upon that as a port blocked up, into which no vessel can enter without danger, on account of vessels zf war stationed there, which form an effectual blockade.
5. That these principles serve for rules in procedure, and that justice shall be expeditiously rendered after the rules of the sea, conformably to treaty and usage received.
6. His Majesty does not hesitate to declare that he will maintain these principles with the honour of his flag, and the liberty and independence of the commerce and navigation of his subjects;
* Declaration of the King of Denmark and Norway to the Courts of London, Verfailles, and Madrid, dated July 8, 1780.
and that it is for this purpose he has armed a part of his navy, although he is desirous to preserve with all the powers at war, not only a good understanding, but all the friendîlip which the neutrality can admit of. The King will never recede from these principles unless he is forced to it. He knows the duties and the obligations, he respects them as he does his treaties, and desires no other than to maintain them. His Majesty is persuaded that the belligerent powers will acknowledge the justice of his motives, that they will be as averse as himself to doing any thing that may oppress the liberties of mankind, and that they will give orders to their adiniralty and to their officers, conformably to the principles above recited, which tend to the general happiness and interest of Europe.
Cafe of the Swedish Convoy captured by Commodore Lawford,
30th of June 1798. THE convoy consisted of several thips under the protection of
a Swedish frigate, were bound for several ports in the Media terranean, and laden with pitch, tar, iron, deals, &c.; of, there only one was going avowedly to an enemy's port, Ferrol ; several were destined for Portugal, and the Maria for Genoa. After a Thort detention, the frigates and ships for Portugal were discharged, and the reit detained ; and on the 13th of O&tober following, a Suit was instituted in the admiralty court, the event of which must be decisive of the right to the whole capture. The cause came on to be heard on the 20th of December, before Sir William Scott, who directed further proof; and in compliance with this order, on the part of the captors, among other attestations was produced a copy of the instructions which were given to the commander of the Froye Swedish frigate, which paper is in the French language, and is thus tranflated :
"In case the lieutenant-colonel should meet with any ships of war of other nations, one or more of any fleet whatever, then the lieutenant-colonel is to treat them with all possible friendthip, and not give any occasion of enmity: but if you meet with a foreign armed vessel, which, on speaking, should be desirous of having still further assurance that your frigate belongs to the King of Sweden, then the lieutenant-colonel is, by the Swedish flag and falute, to make known that it is fo; or if they would make any search among the merchant-thips which are under your convoy, which ought to be endeavoured to be prevented as much as pollible, then the lieutenant-colonel is, in case such thing should be inlifted upon, and that remonftrances could not be amicably made, and that, notwithflanding your amicable comportment, the merchant-hips mould nevertheless be violenily attacked, inen violence must be opposed against violence."
On the 1st of May, the cause came on for further hearing, when Sir William Scott rejected the claim for the ship and cargo, and condemned the same as good and lawful prize, as belonging, at the time of the capture thereof, to the enemies of Great Britain, and as such liable to seizure and confiscation.
To this decree an appeal was lodged, which came to be heard before the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, at the Cockpit, in the month of May 1800. The case was stated as follows:
Immediately that the Swedish convoy came in sight, on the 27th of June 1798, the British ships hoisted their colours, and the ships of the convoy showed theirs; but it is not suggested, by the English commodore, that the Swedish frigate then thowed any indication whatever of hoftility or forcible relistance.
The Romney, notwithstanding, beat to quarters, and cast off the lower-deck guns, and ran them out; and upon the Romney and the Swedish frigate getting within hail, Commodore Lawford begged leave to send an officer on board, which was answered (as he himself admits) very politely, and a lieutenant was thereupon fent on board the Swedish frigate, to know the destination of the veffels under convoy, with their lading. The answer was given, without hesitation, that they were Swedes, from Marltrand, bound to different ports in the Mediterranean, laden with hemp, iron, pitch, and tar.
No demand is asserted to have been made of the papers of the Swedish ships į but as the detaining of them by force was, in the opinion of Commodore Lawford, a circumitance which required some consideration, since it might involve the two nations in war, he called a council of the captains of the squadron, and then sent a lieutenant to England, with dispatches to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty for their instructions.
In the mean time, the squadron continued in company with the Swedish frigate and the convoy ; and, on the 30th of June, the lieutenant, who had been fent with the dispatches of Commodore Lawford, returned with dispatches from the Lords of the Admiralty.
The claimant here takes the liberty of noticing, that, although the captors have exhibited, in the manner before itated, the instructions which his Swedish Majesty gave to his own officer, they have not thought proper to bring forward (as it is presumed that they easily might have done, with consent of his Majelly's government) their own representation, coming from all their conmanders, in public council, to their own superiors, nor the in-, tiructions which they received in answer from those superiors; documents which are the most material to show the instant and genuine impression made by the demeanour of the Swedith frigate and convoy on all the British commanders, and the grounds on which alone the Lords of the Adiniralty autho:ized the seizure and detention.
Having received that authority (on whatever motives, and in whatever terms, it may have been given to him), Commodore Lawford sent two of the captains of the squadron on board the Swedish frigate, to inform the commander that he had orders to detain his convoy, and carry them into the nearest English port.
It does not appear that upon this, any more than on the forner occasion, the Swedish commander refused the inspection of the papers of the ships under his convoy, ror indeed that even at this period any such inspection was demanded.
The Swediih commander, however, upon the intimation given by the two captains, said, that he was sorry any difference should arise between the two nations; and, at the faine time, showed his instructions (a copy of which he gave), which'were, to repel any attempt that might be made to board his convoy by force, althoug! he was first to make use of conciliatory mealures, and endeavour to prevent it amicably if possible.
This was communicated to Commodore Lawford, who returned for answer, that he should iminediately proceed to take poffeffion of the convoy; and the Plover, Wolverine, and Pilote, part of the squadroni, were ordered to board the Swedish vesels, Commodore Lawford, at the same time, making the signal to prepare for battle. The thips appointed to board the convoy began fulfilling their instructions; and both guns and muskets were actually fired at the ships which did not bring to upon being ordered. At the fire of each, Commodore Lawford, as he states, expected that the Swedish commander would make the promised resistance, but nothing was offered ; only it is said, that the commander of the Swedish frigate appeared uneasy, by the frequent wearing of his ship during the night, the Romney being, at the same time, clofe under her lee, with lower.deck guns run out, and every man at his quarters.
By daylight, on the 31st of June, the greatest part of the convoy were secured; but it being observed by Commodore Lawford, that i wo large ships, which appeared to be hovering round the frigate, had not been boarded, he ordered the Plover and Pilote to board them, judging, as he also states, that this last measure would decide how far the Swedish commander meant to dispute the point. A boat from the Plover was thereupon sent on board one of the faid large ships, when the Swedish frigate wore, and stood for the Plover, with an intention, as expected by Coinmodore Lawford, of opening her fire. The Romney wore also, and made the signat for the Daphne to tack to support the Plover; but still no firing took place.
The petty officer put on board the large Swedish vessel by the Plover was takeą out by an armed boat from the Swedish frigate.
This, as Commodore Lawford was afterwards convinced, and has fairly admitted, was only done by the Swedish commander in the way of retaliation, on account, as it thould seem, of some of the Swedish crew, whom it was Count Wrangell's dity to protect, having been taken out of their own vertel by the Plover; and the Englith petty officer was immediately after returned, as Commodore Lawford has also admitted.
At the moment, however, of the transaction, the English commodore being, as he avows, extremely exafperated, directed the boat to be fired at; but at that instant the Daphne came in a line with the boat, and prevented the thot being fired at the boat as ordered.
A Swedish officer was then sent on board the Romney, with the complaints of the Swedish commander, and with an intimazion that he would go into an English port with the convoy; and an agreement thereupon took place, that the Swedish commander should direct the convoy into such port as Commodore Lawford Thould point out, and that Commodore Lawford would withdraw the English leamon, and return all the Swedes. This was done accordingly; and Commodore Lawford made the signal for all captains, and acquainted them with the termination of the business, and of his intention to go into Margate Roads. The whole of the ships were shortly after brought to anchor just without Margate Roads, when an officer was fent on board the Swedish frigale, to request that the commander would give Commodore Lawford a liit of his convoy, with an account of their lading; from what port they came, and whither they were destined : and with this, as with every other arnicable requeit made to him during the whole transaction, he readily complied.
The papers of the thips under convoy were not taken into potletlion, nor even demanded for inspection, so far as appears, by ihe captors, until upwards of fix weeks after the capture; and in the interval an offer was made to the ships bound to Portugal, that they might proceed on their voyage ; one thip (the snow St. Johannes, Calitrom master), received, by order of the Lords of the Admiralty, a wriiten discharge, dated on the 20th of September ; she was, however, fuon after ordered, by the guard thip at the Nore, 10 proceed up the river, where she remained nearly three weeks, withont any proceedings being had against her, or the papers having ever been infpccied, or demanded, by the captors, or any person on their behalf, till the maiter himself, being defirous, amri thinking it his duty, to obtain compensation for this long detention, voluntarily carried his papers to the King's proctor, who, in consequence, brought ihem before the court on the 13th of October ; and then, and not before, commenced proceedings againit that veslil and cargo. The Judge of the Admirally, under the special facts of that