Page images
PDF
EPUB

tion of large armies ; the march of troops, especially towards the borders; the assembling of them in camps, occasionally used for military exercise ; the importation of warlike stores ; the establishment of magazines on the borders ; and, among maritime nations, the unexpected despatch of fleets.

But the question, whether the proceedings of one nation be really suspicious and dangerous for the security of other nations, must always be a circumstantial question. And for the farther illustration of this question, reference may be made to the work of Günther, * as more satisfactory, than that of Vattel.

le

SUB-SECTION II.

Positive Right of Melioration.

So much for the right of conservation in a negative point of view, as involving defence, security against apprehended aggression, and the ordinary mode of requiring explanation, and adopting precautionary measures. We have next to contemplate the right of conservation in a more positive point of view, as involving the right of nations to maintain their existing state, to meliorate their condition, and to promote generally their welfare and prosperity. All nations, as well as individual men, have this right, and are entitled to use all means for the attainment of these

* Europäisches Völkerrecht, Erster Theil, Cap. IV. p. 280.

NATIONAL WELFARE.

195

ends, which are consistent with the exercise of the same, or similar reciprocal rights by other nations. No nation is entitled, in these respects, to restrain another, so long as the latter only employs such innoxious means.

Among the chief constituents of the welfare of a people, comprehended under the right of conservation, obviously are, the maintenance of the integrity of the territory of the nation, within its ascertained limits, as occupied by its population, to the exclusion of strangers or foreigners; the extension of that territory, so far as not detrimental to other nations, and particularly the colonization of distant, or transmarine uninhabited countries; the cultivation of its lands for the subsistence of its population, including the protection and encouragement of its agriculture, the protection and encouragement of its various manufactures, and the protection and encouragement of its inland, and also of its foreign commerce ; and, generally speaking, no foreign nation has a right to oppose, any of these operations or enterprises. But the right of a nation to enlarge its territory, particularly the mother country, and otherwise aggrandize itself, like all other rights, is not absolute and indefinite, but relative and limited. In ascertaining its limits, the relative position and condition of surrounding, or adjacent, states, must be taken into view. And these other states, especially, if weaker, are entitled not only to repel actual aggression, as formerly observed, but also to enter into alliances with each other, and to adopt, in concert, precautionary measures, for preventing, or frustrating the injurious consequences of dispropor

tionate aggrandizement. The existence and exercise of this right must always depend very much on special circumstances. But it rests generally on the right of defence. And the problem to be solved in such cases, is the reconcilement of the indisputable right of independence and security on the part of the surrounding or adjacent states, with the right of every nation to meliorate its condition. In the rude state of nations, and in the infancy of international law, the attention of states, is chiefly, if not solely directed to the prevention of legitimate states from being injured by actual invasion or conquest. But the more intimate social connexion, which, from a variety of causes, we have seen, has gradually arisen and taken place, among the European nations, requires such a limitation and moderation of the passions of sovereigns and nations for aggrandizement, as that the general tranquillity and security of this great society of civilized nations shall not be disturbed, either by the means to be employed, or by the power thereby acquired, to the ruin of other states. And nations have certainly the more cause to be on their guard in this respect, since the experience of all ages, ancient and modern, down to the present, proves, that, however little the mere accidental attribute of power, may legally warrant a claim of preference, or prerogative; the more powerful states, have nevertheless uniformly, under some plausible pretext, sought to exercise a sort of right of the stronger, and to aggrandize themselves, at the expense of the weaker. Hence the origin of the system of the balance of power among the European nations ; and the resistance to the attempts at universal empire,

e

BALANCE OF POWER.

197

which have been made in Europe, from Charles V. to Napoleon. And although this system may have been sometimes perverted, and employed as a pretext for warlike aggression, experience seems to show, it has, upon the whole, been beneficial.

It has been maintained, indeed, that the system of the balance of power among the European nations, has no foundation in the natural law of nations. But, in this view, we cannot coincide. Among rude nations, certainly, who have no connexion from identity or similarity of race and language, of political institutions, and of religion, and have but little intercourse with each other, such foresight and extended views, and such concert in precautionary measures, as the system of the balance of power implies, are not to be looked for, and are not found. But when a number of nations, occupying contiguous, or nearly adjacent territories, have made such progress in civilization, are connected by such a variety of ties, and have such frequent intercourse, as the European nations have had, for several centuries past, the right of adopting precautionary measures, and of acting in concert for mutual or general protection, and security, arises as naturally, as the right of individual defence ; and, though later in being introduced, equally forms a principle, and a part of the natural law of nations, without the aid of mere convention.

Klüber, no doubt, seems to hold, upon what grounds it does not distinctly appear, that the principle of the positive equilibrium of power, rests upon convention alone, (Tom. I. p. 75); and considers it desirable that the equivocal terms, “ political equilibrium,” should be

re

“ banished from the language, both of politics, and of the law of nations.” But the opposite opinion, is ably, upon solid grounds, and satisfactorily supported and maintained, not only by the acute and profound Günther, in his Europäisches Völkerrecht in Friedenzeiten, Erster Theil, Erster Buch, Fünftes capitel; but also by Martens in his Précis du Droit des Gens Moderne de l'Europe, § 120, § 121, and by Schmalz in his Europäisches Völkerrecht, 206. And we beg to refer to those high authorities on international law; seeing farther details on this subject would be inconsistent with the design of the present mere sketch of a classification.

SUB-Section III.

Right of National Reputation or National Honour.

Under this general right of conservation, although von Ompteda assigns it a separate chapter, may be included the right of a nation to the maintenance of its honour, character, and reputation—a right, which it is so difficult to define in the abstract ; but which, in the concrete, and in the particular case, is so easily understood and felt, and the maintenance of which is so conducive to the security and prosperity of a nation.

« PreviousContinue »