A further cause of dissatisfaction was found in the assumption by the tribunal of the position, as an undoubted principle of international law, that the commission of a Confederate cruiser, the building or arming of which had been attended with infractions of British neutrality, did not protect her from seizure upon her entering a British port. The impolicy and positive injustice of such a doctrine, unless full notice were given previously to the Confederate Government, is ably shown in the argument of Sir R. Palmer; to which the arbitrators only reply with the rhetorical flourish, that such a vessel "carries with it its own condemnation," and therefore may be seized without notice! No English Government, we may feel certain, will ever act on the principle thus laid down by the tribunal. And to assume as a rule for their judgment an opinion which, though vindicated by some writers, is keenly contested by others, and cannot therefore be regarded as a settled principle of international law, seems to have been scarcely justified by the article of the treaty which directed that the arbitrators should be guided, firstly, by the three rules, and, secondly, by suck principles of international law, not inconsistent therewith, as they might determine to be applicable to the case.
Yet in spite of some things which afford matter for regret, the result of the Geneva and San Juan arbitrations is held by most persons to be not discouraging, but much the contrary, with regard to the general policy of nations submitting disputed points to the judgment of an independent international tribunal. It should, however, show us the unwisdom, on the one hand, of an unlimited reference, as at Geneva; on the other hand, of a reference unfairly and unskilfully limited, as at Berlin. Duly controlled, it may again be useful to us and other nations in the future, and may avert the evils of war, by solving and removing " burning questions," without involving either party to the cause in unmerited humiliation.