their adjudications in cases of capture are binding upon all parties interested unless they are tainted with fraud or gross mistake. Being thus interposed between the nation making a seizure and the nation aggrieved by that seizure, and proceeding always upon solemn truth and argument of the matter in controversy, their functions are essential to the preservation of peace. Accordingly it has always been a law of the world since maritime warfare has been governed by settled principles that every cruiser making a seizure whther of things belonging to an enemy or a neutral and whether on board of an enemy or a neutral vessel shall bring that vessel in and subject that lawfulness of the seizure to adjudication in a prize court. There is one excuse only that can be set up in justification of a failure to make an effort to bring in the vessel and that occurs when the captors have not sufficient force to put a proper prize crew on board the prize, for they have no authority to compel the crew of the prize to navigate for them-selves.
In the case of the Trent this rule has not been complied with. By the act of our own officer we are without the means of showing the lawfulness of the seizure in the only mode known to the law of nations. If we had any cause for intercepting and seizing Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell on board of a neutral vessel going from a neutral port to a neutral port it must have been because they were either enemies, ambassadors or fugitive traitors. Suppose they were both; the lawfulness of seizing them from a neutral vessel is the matter in dispute and we can justify it only because the public law gives us a right to do it. But we cannot take the benefit of one part of that law which we say gives us the right to make the capture and reject that other part which prescribes the mode of making the capture and the mode of establishing its lawfulness when made.
When threfore England says that she cannot consent to have the proper function of a prize court set aside by theseizure of a person or thing from one of her vessels, followed by no adjudication, she says a thing of the utmost importance to every maritime nation in the world. This is her real case, her whole case; and it is one which will place all Europe on her side if she presents it in the attitude properly belonging to it. If she says to the President, "I cannot discuss with you the lawfulness of this seizure for you cannot adjudicate it; and as there is now no possibility of a judicial determination, restitution of the men can alone repair the wrong of which I coplain," what answer shall we make or compel the President to maki? Not I trust to give Lord Lyons his passports, but rather to see if there is a reason sufficient in the eye of the law fro having placed ourselves in a position where we cannot give to England what she has a clear right to demand-the judgment of the judicial tribunal on the lawfulness of the seizure.
So far as the case is at present understood their is but one valid reason suggested for not having brought in the Trent. If it can be shown that Captain Wilkes was unable to bring her in for want of a sufficient prize crew England may well be asked to admit that excuse. But the tenderness of Captain Wilkes toward the remaining passengers or toward Her Majesty's mails although fairly enough to be urged as grounds of consideration by the English Government seems to me not to be a legal excuse for the absence of a regular adjudication of the lawfulness of the seizure.
Our countrymen have not so little intelligence or so much false pride as not to be able or willing to see that a principle important to the peace of the world is involved in this case. Let me repeat that the