Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/316

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Messages and Papers of the Confederacy.

have directed solemn protest to be made, after a vain attempt to obtain satisfactory explanations from the British Government. In a published dispatch from Her Majesty's Foreign Office to her Minister at Washington, under the date of 11th of February, 1862, occurs the following passage:

Her Majesty's Government, however, are of opinion that, assuming that the blockade was duly notified, and also that a number of ships are stationed and remain at the entrance of a port sufficient really to prevent access to it, or to create an evident danger on entering it or leaving it, and that these ships do not voluntarily permit ingress or egress, the fact that various ships may have successfully escaped through it (as in the particular instance here referred to) will not of itself prevent the blockade from being an effectual one by international law.

The words which I have italicized are an addition made by the British Government of its own authority to a principle the exact terms of which were settled with deliberation by the common consent of civilized nations and by implied convention with this Government, as already explained, and their effect is clearly to reopen to the prejudice of the Confederacy one of the very disputed questions on the law of blockade which the Congress of Paris professed to settle. The importance of this change is readily illustrated by taking one of our ports as an example. There is "evident danger" in entering the port of Wilmington from the presence of a blockading force, and by this test the blockade is effective. "Access is not really prevented" by the blockading fleet to the same port, for steamers are continually arriving and departing, so that tried by this test the blockade is ineffective and invalid. The justice of our complaint on this point is so manifest as to leave little room for doubt that further reflection will induce the British Government to give us such assurances as will efface the painful impressions that would result from its language if left unexplained.

From the foregoing remarks you will perceive that during nearly two years of struggle, in which every energy of our country has been evoked for maintaining its very existence, the neutral nations of Europe have pursued a policy which, nominally impartial, has been practically most favorable to our enemies and most detrimental to us. The exercise of the neutral right of refusing entry into their ports to prizes taken by both belligerents