When Great Britain attempted to enforce these recognized prohibitions against trading with the enemy it was found difficult to show that the suspected ships had in reality had dealings with the public enemy or with its agents. The ships were not bound for a hostile port nor for a blockaded one, but for a neutral harbor which was not even contiguous to either the Transvaal or Orange Free State. Other Governments, although ready to admit that it was competent for England to forbid her own subjects to trade with the enemy, were not willing to allow their respective subjects to suffer the loss of goods which had been shipped in good faith. The character of the goods apparently excluded the idea of contraband of war, and the ships themselves, since they were bound from neutral ports to a neutral port, appeared to be acting in good faith.
THE MARIA.—As early as September 6, 1899, the Maria, a Dutch ship, had touched at Cape Town on her way to Delagoa Bay with a cargo consisting largely of flour, canned meats and oats shipped from New York. She was allowed to proceed after a short detention by the British authorities although goods in her cargo were plainly marked for the Transvaal. It was realized under the circumstances that there was no ground for the detention of ship or cargo, and in view of the fact that no war was in progress at the time, the detention of the vessel even for a short period would appear to have been unjustifiable. The Maria called at Port Elizabeth, whence she cleared for Delagoa Bay. On October 29 she put in for coal at Durban, three hundred miles from Lorenzo Marques, and was boarded by the commander of the English ship Tartar. The Maria’s captain was willing to be visited and searched without protest. According to the official report, “no guard was placed on her,” and “the agents were willing to land all the contraband." The commander of the Tartar informed them that if this were submitted to the vessel need no longer be detained. When the Maria had been brought in and no contraband was discovered by the search, the agents of the ship protested against the landing of that portion of the cargo consisting of flour and other goods which they considered innocent, but spoke of the vessel, it was alleged, as belonging to a British company called the “American-African Line.” The commander of the English cruiser pointed out to them that British subjects could not under the Governor’s proclamation trade with the enemy, and mentioned the warning in a local customs notice as the penalty for “vessels which carried contraband of war or goods of whatever nature the real destination of which was the enemy or their agents in neutral ports."
[Footnote 7: For. Rel., 1900, p. 529.]
[Footnote 8: For. Rel., 1900, p. 575.]
[Footnote 9: For. Rel., 1900, p. 575.]