pondence was a correspondence which was conducted through various neutral agencies in neutral countries, and ultimately through the Department of State at Washington by the agency of the American Ambassador in London. It was correspondence which related to the whole subject of the treatment by the respective belhgerents of enemy ships, their cargoes, and their crews, and it was based upon the efforts which had been made at the Hague Conferences to arrivé at a convention on such
subjects. Now there being correspondence of that kind on these
matters during August, at the end of August the Secretary of State at the Foreign Oflice lays great emphasis upon the fact that, whatever His Majesty's Government is ready to do, it will be only upon the terms that the German Government shall be ready to do the same things ....
On August 25 the American Ambassador submitted to the Foreign Office a message received from the American Ambassador at Berlin. In that message the German Government desired to be informed whether, if the British Government rejected the proposals of the German Government which had then been under consideration, they would confiscate all German ships which had been seized without compensation or whether, in accordance with certain provisions of the Hague Convention No. VI, they would hand back the ships and their cargoes at the end of the war, or, in case they requisitioned them, would at once give compensation .... Sir Edward Grey, His Majesty's Secretary of State, rephed to that communication. He referred to the Hague Convention, by which he said the procedure of His Majesty's Government was governed, and then proceeded as follows: „As stated in my note of the i4th ultimo, His Majesty's Government will grant to German. ships the benefits of articles 2, 4 (first paragraph) and 5 of the Convention, but not those accorded by aiticles 3 and 4 (paragraph 2) to which Germany is not a party. The décisions of the Prize Court in such cases will proceed upon this basis." First of all, with regard to the forecast in this letter of the décision of the Prize Court, I make this observation, on reading that phrase, that it was impossible that any Minister should declare in advance what would be the décision of a Court which is a Court of law, and that the employment of that phrase was no more than a forecast which might prove to be right or wrong. It was only the more likely to be right in that the person from whom it proceeded was a person of éminence with means at his command of being properly advised upon the subject. It was nevertheless a déclaration which did not bind the Prize Court....
That letter, I think, is not relied upon as evidence of a concluded agreement. There is a subsequent communication on September 2, 1914, in which the German Government sets f orth again its dem and for release at the close of the war of detained ships, with compensation during the war — „de suite" is the expression employed — for the use of requisitioned ships, and its proposals as to the treatment of crews of interned ships, and the writer goes on to say that, those terms being conceded, the German Government wül adopt in this matter a similar process to that for which it has asked. There is an answer to that letter on September 20