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REPRISALS TO GERMANY. SIR E. GREY'S ruNT. CANNDT REMAIN BmJHO BY RULES WHICH! ENEMY ss mm. BRITAIN'S dEXT STEP. British warships hare hitherto not interfered with neutral vessels carrying food to civilian Germany, but an im- portant memorandum communicated to the United States Ambassador by Sir Edward Grey hints that foodstuffs may shortly b-3 declared absolatd contraband by Britain.* The Note states: At tha time when his Majesty's Gov- ernment gave directions for the seizure of lite cargo 01 the steamship WiUiel- mina as contraband, they had before them the text of the d-^j-ee made by the German Federal Council on January 2'" under Article 45, of which all grain and Sour imported into Grerm~ny after Jan. at was declared deliverable only to cer- tain organis1\tions under direct Govern-, raent control or to municipal authori- ties. This provision was released, it would a p p e, express purpose of rendering difBcult the anticipated pro- ceedings against the Wflhelmiua- The repeal wns not known to his Majesty's Govem?nont at the time of detention of the cargo, indeed, until now. Seizures by German Ships. It i«; o^coa-ary to elate that the (.Jer- man decree is not the only ground m wmch the eubmission of the cargo of the Wilhcbmna to a Prize Court is justified. The German Government, have in public announcements claimed to treat practi- cally every town or port on the English East coast as a fortified plac* and base of onerativils. On tho strength of this, contention they have subjected to bom- bardment the open towns of Tarmouth, fecarborougli, and Whitby among others. On the same ground, a number of neu- tral vessels sailing for English ports on the East coast with cargoes of goods on. the German list of conditional contra- band have been seized by German cruisers and brought before the German Prize Ck>uxt. Tho Gorman Government cannot hare it both ways. Il they consider them- sel^ ves jastiiied in destroying by born-, bardment the lives and propertv of peaceful civil inhabitants of English open towns and watering places, aoid in seizing and sinking ships and cargoes of conditional contraband on the way thither on the ground that they were con- signed to a fortified place or bass a fortiorL hie Majesty's Government must be at liberty to treat Hamburg (whither i the Wilhelmina w?us bound), which is in part protected by the fortifications at the mouth of the Elbe, as a fortified town and a base of operations and supply for the purpose of Article Sf. of the Declara-I! tion of London. Policy of Forbearance There is one further observation to whieh his Majesty's Government think it right and appropriate in the present connection to jrive expression. They have not so far declared foodstuffs to be abso- lute contraband. They have not interfered with any neutral vessels on account of their ca.ryr? M.g foodstuffs except on (BE j basis ot sucb foodstuffs being liable to capture if destined for the enemy force? | or In eo acting they have' been guided by the general principle of late uriversaily 'upheld by civilised > nations und observed in practice that; th civil ]x>pulations of countries at war are not to he exposed to the treatment htl r?erv?d fc? ecmbatant,s. r1 ^Th. is distindion has to ?dl intents a.rd purpoe.es been swept away bv the nove] doctrines proclaimed and acted upon by the German Government. It is unneces- sary here to dwell upon the treatment that has beers meted out to he civil popu- lation of Belgium and those parU of i-ranoe which are in German occupation, wnen (iarmany, long before any mines had oeen laid by tho British authori- ties, proceeded to sow mines ul)on the high seas, and by this means sink a considerable number not only of British, but also of central merchantment, with their unenffending crews. By .Wgy of Reprisa.'s," xho Note goes on to refer to the bardment of undv-fenderl British towns and the threat against all British me". diant vessels, and continues: • Faced with tlú-s situation, his Majesty's Governmsnt consider it 'Would he altogether unreasonable that Great Britain and her allies should be ex- pected to remain indefinitely bound, to triGir grave detriment, by rulas and prin- ciples of which they recognise the justice if impartially observed as between belli- gerents, but which are at the present moment openly eit at defiance by their enemy. If. therefore, his Majesty's Govern- ment should hereafter fee! constrained to declare foodstuffs absolute contra- band, or to take other measures for ir- terfering with German trnd", by wa^ of reprisal*, they confidently expect that such action will not be challenged on tlte part of neutral fitahes by appeals to th. laws And u«5tges of war, wlvose val- idity rests on their forming 3Ti integral pa,rt of tJle astern of international doc- j trine, which, a-s a whole, their enomy fran.41,y boasts the liberty and intention i-o djsregard so long as such neutral States cannot oompsl the German Gov- ernment to abandon methods of warfare which have not in recent history been regarded as having tho sanction of either law or humanity. USE Of NEUTRAL FLAG. Foreign Sesretsry Justifies Britain's Action. Sir E. Cray's Memorandum to the United states Ambassador, after explain- ing the facts of the Lusitania case, says: Now that the German Government have announced their intention to sink merchant vessels at sight, with their non- combatant crews, car,c-,er, ar,-fi papers, a proceeding hitherto regarded by the opinion of the world not as war but a3 piracy, it is f,.1t that the Usited States Government could not fairly ask the British Government to order British mer- chant vessels to forego the illeans-always hitherto permitted-of escaping not only capture but the much worse, fate of sink- ing aDd destruction. Great Britain has always, when neutral, accorded to tLe vessels of other States at war liberty to use the British flag as a means of pro- tection against capture, tUJd instances are on record when United States ves^elH availed themselves of this facility dining the America-i civil war. It v-omld be contrary to fiir expectation if novi-, w1!>-e tiie conditions are rev ersed, tne United States and neutral nations were to grudge to British ships liberty to take 1 similar actio-o. The Srttish Government hava no intention of adrisiiLg their, meT- chant shipping to use foreign flags "5 a general practice, or to reaort to HaDl otherwise than fcr escapuig capture or ? destructton. The obligations upon a bell:gereT!f war-j ship to a-.certarn definitely for itself the nationality and character of a merchant! vessel btfors capturing it. and a fortiori" before sinking and destroying i it, has been universally recognised. If J iiiat obligation is fuliillad, hoisting a neutral on board a British vessel cannot possibly endanger neutral shipping; and the British Government holds that, if loss to neutrals is caused I by disregard of tliis obligation, it is upon the enemy vessel disregarding it and upon! the Government giving orders that it;, should be disregarded that the sole respoa- j mbulty for injury to neutrals Ou-lht to rest.





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