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Epilogue - Hugo Grotius, Commentary on the Law of Prize and Booty 
Commentary on the Law of Prize and Booty, ed. and with an Introduction by Martine Julia van Ittersum (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2006).
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Turning to the next and final phase of our discussion, let us consider the matter from the standpoint of benefit. Undoubtedly our inquiries on this subject will seem superfluous to many persons who measure benefit in terms of material gain and who will therefore assume that no one can fail to realize how beneficial it is to acquire spoil, the source of such considerable additions to private property.
Part I of Chapter XVFor my own part, however, having embraced the belief that true benefits can never be disjoined from the concepts of honour and justice,a so that I should regard the vaunting of benefits unattended by these two attributes as the mark of a thoroughly corrupt person, I propose to establish the existence of beneficial elements in the present case, wherein the said attributes are not lacking, precisely on the basis of its just and honourable character.
Thesis IFor the just man (as we have already indicated in another context)b benefits himself before all else. Thus Plato,c too, in his eulogy of justice, holds that not only glory or εὐδοξία [fair fame], but also pleasure or benefit, should be reckoned [among its effects].Thesis II Similarly, in regard to that which is honourable, whether we find that a certain perverse system of reasoning (a system undoubtedly calamitous for mankind) has violently isolated this concept which is essentially bound up with the concept[152′] of what is beneficial, or whether it is acknowledged that the attribute of honour forms an especially conspicuous and preponderant element of all things termed beneficial, assuredly everyone desirous of a reputation for virtue will readily agree that nothing base is truly advantageous, whereas nothing honourable can fail to be expedient by virtue of the very fact that it is honourable. A great many observations in support of this sentiment were made by Cicero in his treatise On Duties.d In another work by that same author,e the following argument is presented: “Whatever is just, is beneficial; and whatever is honourable, is also just; whence it follows that whatever is honourable is also beneficial.”1 Certainly no one will be able to refute this contention; for even the Epicureans, those foremost champions of personal convenience, declare that,a οὐκ εἰ̑ναι ἔδἑως ζη̑ν ἄνευ του̑ καλω̑ς καὶ δικαίως ζη̑ν; “it is not possible to live pleasantly unless one lives both honourably and justly.” Moreover, those benefits which are of a common and public characterb and to which the juristsc for the most part refer, reveal a particularly close relationship with the concept of what is honourable.
In the first place, then, since every just acquisition is beneficial and should be classified with the things described even by the strictest philosophers as προηγμἑνα, or “preferable,” on the ground that riches facilitate the accomplishment of many ends, spoils come under this same head and are in nowise to be spurned, provided that they are just and honourable.
In fact, we have already pointed oute that God reckons this particular benefit as one of the blessings which He confers upon the pious.
Thus spoils are beneficial primarily because the individuals honourably enriched thereby are able to benefit many other persons, and because it is to the interest of the state that there should be a large number of wealthy citizens. Furthermore, inasmuch as a part of the prize in question has fallen to the state at no expense to the latter, a very great and special benefit is involved here, in view of the difficulties confronting the public treasury, which is exhausted in consequence of such an arduous war. Over a period of many years, the Romans were compelled to pay tribute in order to meet the needs incessantly arising from various wars, a burden which was tolerated as unavoidable, despite the fact that it was rendered onerous by the very duration of the necessity. After the conquest of Macedonia, however, the sum paid into the public treasury out of the spoils was so great as to exempt the citizens from the obligation of payment, nor were they called upon in later years for any contribution. Thus the wars that followed were conducted at the expense of the conquered peoples. I myself shall not attempt to estimate in advance the [financial] outcome for which the Dutch may hope in the future; but everyone will admit that the treasury benefits when aid is derived to the greatest possible extent from the resources of the enemy rather than from those of the citizens.
Thesis IIIThe philosophers,a in their discussion of that which is beneficial, lay stress upon the admirable doctrine that one must take into account, in this connexion, the institutions, customs, and peculiar needs of each individual state.
It is certain that in all lands the management of shipping falls within the sphere of supreme governmental power,b so that persons who have gone abroad for the purpose of bringing back supplies of grain and various necessities are regarded as absent practically on state business.c More specifically, who is so ignorant of the affairs of the Dutch as to be unaware of the fact that the sole source of support, renown, and protection for those affairs lies in navigation and trade? Among all of the Dutch enterprises in the field of trade, moreover, our business in the East Indies easily occupies first place in worth, extent, and resultant benefits.
For when the savagery of the Spaniards had interrupted our commercial activities [in other regions], God Himself by His special favour opened up that part of the world to the Dutch, whose commerce was then on the verge of ruin. It is possible, indeed, that Divine Beneficence was also making provision for the welfare of the East Indians, by willing that they should be encouraged (through the example set by the Dutch) to defy the fearful fame of the Spaniards, and at the same time given an opportunity to acquaint themselves with the true and unperverted faith. In any case, [it cannot be denied]2 that Providence intervened at an opportune moment in behalf of the Dutch, pointing out the regions where one might seek the very articles already long sought at far higher prices amid perils graver by land than by sea, which the ferocity of the foe would not willingly relinquish even in these new circumstances. For is it not strange and well-nigh incredible that, during ten years of voyaging to and from the Orient, in the face of uncertain and tempestuous weather, over unknown tracts of sea, to unknown ports, with Portuguese snares scattered about in every locality, it never once happened that any fleet returned entirely unladen? No doubt the purpose of this divine intervention was to prevent the consequences that must otherwise be feared, namely: dejection of spirit, and the crushing defeat of an exceedingly salutary enterprise at the very outset, the most difficult stage of any great undertaking.
Accordingly, it is my belief that the members of our States Assembly, the “Fathers of the Fatherland,” were guided not merely by human wisdom, but also by what might be called a form of divine favour, when they turned their sagacious attention to this matter and ordered that the various East India companies existing under their jurisdiction (as separate and therefore mutually injurious and destructive entities) should be consolidated into a single body subject to fixed laws. The many privileges thereafter granted to the new Company by the States Assembly constituted more than sufficient testimony to the Assembly’s opinion of the great public significance of this coalition. Moreover, when the task of unification had finally been accomplished (for it entailed no inconsiderable amount of trouble), there was no one who doubted that the surest possible foundations of public prosperity had been laid.
As a result of this measure, the East Indians viewed with respect the Dutch enterprises so firmly founded upon a basis of concord;[153′] the Portuguese were thrown into a state of trepidation; and other European nations were so favourably impressed by the good faith and foresight of the Dutch that they chose to entrust their funds to a Company already established and administered in an orderly fashion, in preference to risking the perils of the sea on their own account. In this way, the business organized less than ten years previously with a fund of less than 300,000 florins, had increased its capital at the time of which we are speaking to more than 7,000,000 florins. Furthermore, the rejoicings and general expressions of delight were so lavish as to reveal an assured and prophetic hopefulness that foresaw a vast yearly increase in pro-fits; and, in the light of the evidence already furnished by experience, that confidence was by no means unjustified.
Nevertheless, results of far greater importance remain to be achieved. Only a small number of the East Indian ports have been visited as yet. On every side inviting shores await us: here, the lands bordering upon the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal; and yonder, the shores of China, so rich in new opportunities for profit that, when cargoes of merchandise are conveyed there one after another in rapid succession and distributed to the most remote regions, the prices placed on the earliest cargoes can still be maintained.
We know from what depths of poverty the Spaniards and Portuguese have risen, and to what wealth! In fact, during the earlier history of those peoples, before the days of their voyages across the seas, their rulers could scarcely scrape together enough money to fit out the first vessels; and even to-day, their custom of reckoning currency in terms of tiny copper units persists as a token of former indigence. Nowadays, however, we see that those same peoples, both at home and in their inordinately proud colonies scattered throughout the world, display in their dwellings, household furnishings, attire and retinues of servants, not merely splendour and elegance, but actual luxury, to such an extent that one may truthfully apply to them the comment made in regard to the ancient Tyrians,a namely, that their merchants are like princes. Indeed, when the prize from the Catharine was recently put up for sale, who did not marvel at the wealth revealed? Who was not struck with amazement? Who did not feel that the auction in progress was practically a sale of royal property, rather than of a fortune privately owned?
Let the Dutch learn, even from their enemies, just methods of enriching themselves; and let them learn the proper use of riches from their own ancestors, who were honourably frugal men. Now, the finest fruits of wealth are to be found in the benefits derived from it by the community; and these benefits consist primarily in greater revenue from tributes and imposts. For even though the profitable outcome of voyages abroad emboldened the King of Spain to spread terror throughout the whole world, the success that encouraged a spirit of despotism in so far as he was concerned will serve in the case of the Dutch more justly as a means of protecting life and liberty. Another aspect of the benefits to be received by the public lies in the fact that great numbers of the vast multitude comprising the common people are engaged in commerce or navigation and derive support from no other source. Thus it will come to pass, as Isaiah prophesied,a that all merchandise and all profit shall be consecrated to the Lord: it shall not be treasured nor laid up, but shall be for them that dwell before the Lord, that they may eat unto fullness and be clothed sufficiently.3
Is it desirable, then, that this commercial activity, which is so beneficial and so necessary, should be abandoned? I do not believe that there is anyone who favours the adoption of such a measure.
But that activity can be continued only if we drive away those persons who will not allow others to be secure in any locality where they themselves enjoy security, who by their words and deeds proclaim that they will not suffer any other European to approach the lands in question for purposes of trade (an attitude based, moreover, not upon some lawful right but merely upon unwillingness to forgo or share profits gained from any source whatsoever), and who leave no means untried for the acquisition of such profits, whether through treacherous guile or in open warfare. Indeed, what act for the sake of self-enrichment is incredible on the part of men who did not shrink from spreading calumny among the regional officials, or even from bribery, in an attempt to bring about the death of their own neighbours, the Castilians, subjects of the same King and practically compatriots of the calumniators themselves, not so very long after the arrival of the Castilians in China? These designs would have been successfully accomplished, too, but for the fact that among the Chinese (a people otherwise free from scruples, and justifiably hostile toward the Castilians at that time because it was reported that the Spaniards had slain ten thousand Chinese in the Philippines), the rights of suppliants and guests carried more weight than did the obligations of blood relationship among the Iberian peoples. Yet even this Portuguese treachery toward the Castilians should not cause excessive surprise, since everywhere the Portuguese, moved solely by considerations of personal profit and by jealousy, pursue to the death their own fellow countrymen when the latter are not members of the same trading company.4 Thus it is impossible to protect oneself from persons of the kind described without resorting to vengeful measures. As the Spanish theologian Victoria has rightly observed, even war undertaken solely for defensive purposes cannot be waged without the infliction of vengeance upon the foe. “For the enemy would be emboldened to make a second attack,” Victoria argues,a “if they were not deterred from injurious acts by the fear of punishment.” Therefore, just as public interests call for the maintenance of the East Indian trade, with precisely the same urgency they call for the imposition of restraints upon the Portuguese in whatsoever manner the occasion may permit, including the infliction of ills of every kind, the least of which will be loss of property.[154′]
Thesis IVAlthough the benefits listed above are of a domestic nature, there are others, no less important, whose effects are manifested in foreign lands, in the form of advantages for allies or disadvantages for enemies.
Throughout the whole universe, there is nothing—save for immortal God—more beneficial to man than man himself, so that the most beneficial of all achievements is the winning of human goodwill. Ciceroa treats of this point in numerous passages, where he follows Panaetius,b who devoted his entire discussion on the subject of expediency [i.e. that which is beneficial]5 to this same line of argument. Similarly, Aristotlec lists friends and friendships among those things which are most beneficial, saying that friendships are desirable both for their own sake and also because they are productive of many [beneficial] results, wherefore he holds that φιλεταιρία, “love of friends,” is nobler than φιλοχρηματία, “love of money.”
Thesis VOn the other hand, it also happens at times that man is exceedingly injurious to man, as is indicated in the well-known lines:
whence it follows, by the very nature of mutually opposed factors, that what is worst for our enemies is best for us, just as, by a reverse process of reasoning, we perceive that what is pleasing to our enemies is injurious to us. Such is the implication contained in the plea:d
Therefore, those authors who deal with the question of what is beneficial, quite correctly attribute outstanding importance to this particular benefit, [i.e. injury to enemies,] also.
To return to our first point, however, no one is ignorant of the great force inherent in friendship; and it is because of this force that alliances not only with neighbours but even with distant communities are beneficial for persons engaged in warfare, just as they are necessary for traders. Mithridates is commendeda because he sent envoys from the Albans all the way to Spain, to Sertorius and the generals against whom the Romans were warring at that time. For Mithridates knew the quality of the enemy with whom he had to deal: that is to say, he knew that the Romans were in possession of a large part of the world, and that they were a strong and wealthy nation. Consequently, he had arranged matters in such a way that this nation would be fighting for its supremacy while torn by a twofold struggle, in a war waged on land and sea in two entirely different and widely separated regions, against two [hostile] forces7 acting in concert within each region.
It is not my intention either to magnify or to belittle the strength of the Iberian peoples. This I do know: that they rule over a domain more extensive than that of the Romans in the days of Mithridates, and perhaps even more extensive than any domain of our own or any other age. Furthermore, I know that the very foundations of that Iberian power lie, not in the Low Countries nor in Spain, but in transoceanic regions from which the said peoples derive their wealth and the means to maintain their public largess and their wars. But I also know that they have gained for themselves in those distant lands as much hatred as power, and that the Dutch ought to make use of that hatred if they wish to see the war ended. The North must unite with the farthest Orient, in order that the despotism which has spread to every quarter of the world may be overthrown.
The Dutch should have sought the goodwill of the East Indian kings and peoples, long ago. But, lo and behold! the goodwill of the Dutch themselves is now voluntarily sought. For who among our chief officials has not been implored by the East Indians to lend succour and assistance against the Portuguese? What of the supplications made by the King of Ternate and by the state of Amboyna? What of the letters received from the King of Johore? Moreover, the nobles of Achin have even presented themselves in person at the palace of The Hague. Occurrences like the one regarded as an outstanding feature of the good fortune enjoyed by Augustusa (that is to say, the visit paid him by East Indian envoys, who came bearing precious gifts but boasting only of the length of their voyage, although the very colour of their skins showed plainly enough that they hailed from another clime), or like the event that shed special lustre on Claudius’ reignb (his reception of an embassy from Taprobane [Ceylon]),8 have become so ordinary among the Dutch that wonder has ceased with the cessation of novelty. And what is it that these envoys seek and entreat, other than attack against the Portuguese by a general combination of forces? So great is their confidence in our good faith, that they actually beg the Dutch to erect strongholds upon East Indian soil! They urge that the straits of Malacca and Sunda should be kept [under the control of the Dutch]. Some of them offer supplies9 to aid us in blockading Malacca, the very seat of slavery, and point out the ways by which this undertaking may be accomplished.
Another and more significant feature of the situation is the fact that friendship with the Dutch acts as a conciliatory force among the East Indians themselves. Already, treaties are being concluded between Sumatra and the island of Ceylon,10 while the Kings of Kandy and Achin swear common enmity against the Portuguese. For the sake of the Hollanders, that same King of Achin is renouncing his ancient grudge against the ruler of Johore, and all rivalry between the two sovereigns is confined to one point alone, namely: which of them shall excel in the eyes of the Dutch. Many other kings, too, would have joined our cause openly long ago, if the Dutch had not seemed somewhat slack in their attitude toward the war against the Portuguese.
What, then, is the conclusion to be drawn? Should this favourable disposition be disdained? Quite aside from the fact that such indifference would be contrary to the public interest, it has been morally impossible to adopt an indifferent attitude, from the time when the Portuguese first besieged the cities of the East Indians, laid waste their fields and set aflame their rural districts, in retaliation for the friendship between[155′] the natives and the Dutch. For if it is in every sense expedient that alliances of this kind should be not merely encouraged to persist but also stimulated and expanded (and certainly there is no other alternative to the destruction of our trade itself), what pledge, what bond of good faith shall we offer to the foreign nations whose alliance we seek? Surely we must offer the sole pledge that they covet: intrepid attacks against the Portuguese (whose enemies the Dutch avow themselves to be) and treatment of the Portuguese as enemies. For even as it is just and honourable to take vengeance upon that people in accordance with their deserts, so also it is perilous to spare them; and the peril is particularly grave wherever the suspicious disposition of the East Indians must be taken into account.
I shall describe a recent episode in support of this assertion. The King of Kandy (a country which is situated on the island of Ceylon) evinced so great an interest in the affairs of the Dutch at the time of Spilberg’s arrival from Zeeland, that for whole days this ruler devoted all of his inquiries exclusively to the history of our famous war,
Nor was he ever wearied of contemplating the likeness of Maurice, most invincible of princes, and the painting of the Battle of Nieuwpoort. Already the King himself, the Queen, and their children, had begun to learn words from our language in order that the Kingdom of Kandy might be said to have become a part of Holland. The King also declared that he wished to send his eldest child (when the latter should have reached maturity) to Prince Maurice, so that the youth might be instructed in military matters under so great a general. The same ruler entreated the Dutch to select a site wherever they pleased within his domain for the construction of a fortress, adding that he himself, aided by his wife and son and daughter, would carry the stones to that spot rather than abandon a project so dear to his own heart. Shortly afterwards, he received a visit from Sibold de Waert (second in command of the fleet that was under Wijbrandt Warwijck), and begged de Waert to grant him aid in storming the fortress of Colombo, located on the border of his kingdom and held at that time by the Portuguese. The King earnestly requested that he himself might make the assault, but asked de Waert to stand by with the ships, warding off the forces expected from Goa for the relief of the Portuguese. He offered various rewards for such assistance, and in this connexion expressed his willingness to entrust to a Dutch garrison the sites that were to be taken from the enemy. As it happened, Sibold set out from Ceylon for Achin with the purpose of acquiring allies, and captured four Portuguese vessels in the course of that same voyage. Now, the King had entreated Sibold in person, and had implored him by letter after the Dutchman’s departure, in the name of God, by the valour of Prince Maurice, and for the sake of their own friendship, to deliver any Portuguese whom he might seize into the hands of the ruler of Kandy himself. De Waert, however, apparently expecting no difficulty in excusing himself for his clemency, straightway freed his captives; while the King, never doubting that they would be handed over to him by de Waert, went all the way to Batticaloa (where the Dutch ships had by then arrived), as an act of courtesy, although he had promised only to come as far as the city of Vintanum to meet the Dutch commander. At Batticaloa, a deplorable event occurred, as follows: the King, amazed that men who had been captured after culpable conduct should enjoy immunity while his own request was held in contempt, ordered the execution of Sibold (who was answering him in an argumentative and rather insolent manner) together with approximately fifty other persons. In this fashion he avenged himself for the very fact that he had been left unavenged.
Moreover, that same leniency (if leniency is indeed the proper term) has given rise to mockery on the part of our enemies, suspicion on the part of our allies, and grave injury to our own people. Consequently, if the East Indian nations, which wage war more ferociously than the Europeans, can hardly be brought to accept the excuse that it is our custom to preserve our enemies even when we are able to destroy them, and if the said nations are now about to see the Portuguese ships (certainly a prize that is ready and waiting to be taken) allowed to slip from the hands of the Dutch, what can they be expected to believe, save that treachery is secretly at work, and that the Portuguese and the Dutch are working in collusion? It is necessary, therefore, to extend to them this guaranty of good faith, and to give them this cause of rejoicing in return for their friendship, this solace in compensation for the disasters suffered, namely: an opportunity for them to see the despoliation of those men who have been the despoilers of the whole world.
Let us consider next the benefits that we ourselves derive from the ills that befall our enemies.
In the Portuguese, the Dutch have just such a foe as Tacitusa describes in another connexion: one who is timorous when confronted by adverse circumstances, but mindful of neither divine nor human law when circumstances are propitious. Accordingly, a supremely important benefit lies in the fact that henceforth the Portuguese will tremble at the approach of the Dutch, and shaken by their earlier loss will flee from the very sight of our valiant men, nor will they dare to match their own ships, despite the considerable superiority of the latter in number and size, against the ships of the Hollanders. For the enemy will know that these are the vessels by means of which they have so often been despoiled. Consequently, since they will be afraid to approach any spot where the Dutch ships are anchored, the Dutch themselves will be not only more safe from actual danger, but also more free from anxiety. As a[156′] matter of fact, this result has already been achieved in a partial degree; for the East Indian kings declare that the Portuguese tremble and grow exceedingly pale at the sight and even at the mere mention of a Dutchman. Again, what shall we infer from the fact that the Portuguese obeyed the order to transfer the cargo of the captured ships to the Dutch ships with their own hands? Or from the further fact that already some persons have paid the Dutch for the privilege of navigating in safety? Similarly, when our enemies realize how easy it is for the Hollanders to acquire a vast horde of captives, they will be more hesitant in venting their rage upon the captives whom they in turn may have chanced to seize; and fear of retaliation will compel them to adopt the very course of conduct that they refused to follow when encouraged by kindly deeds to do so.
Moreover, in future, either they will provide us perforce with similar spoils, an alternative which obviously would result in tremendous benefits both for our state and for our private citizens, or else they will be obliged to turn from their attacks upon others to defence of themselves, keeping innumerable ships for their own protection in East Indian waters, strengthening their colonies with fortifications, and (most troublesome task of all!) maintaining a suspicious vigil over all things at one and the same time. The numerous and heavy expenses thus to be incurred will drain away not only all the private profits of the Portuguese, but also the whole of the East Indian revenue accruing to their state itself, that unwavering enemy of Dutch liberty. One can readily perceive how extremely profitable both of these consequences will be for our own state. For everyone knows that money constitutes the sinews of war and that, just as it is of the greatest importance [in war] to supply oneself with money, so the precaution of next greatest importance is to prevent the foe from being supplied with it. Accordingly, if all the produce and revenue from Philip’s East Indian possessions can be encumbered with a burden of expense equal to that already laid upon certain European possessions of his, it must surely follow that the future management of the war will prove much easier for us. For no one can doubt that the aid received from Spain through Italian transactions is the chief means of prolonging that war, inasmuch as the Dutch would long since have brought the affair to a conclusion if their resources had been matched solely against the revenue derived from another part of the Low Countries. If, then, the Spanish revenues fail—and with them, the credit necessary in order to procure additional funds—what outcome is to be expected other than a military insurrection leading to a great revolution?
For it is clear to those who read the history of the events in question, that practically everything which has hitherto brought good fortune and prosperity to the Dutch, has had its cause and origin in the enemy’s need. The Peace of Ghent, and the union of almost the whole of the Low Countries against the name of Spain, restored our all but shattered fortunes to a state of complete well-being through the civil discord which arose among our opponents and which was the result, moreover, of the depleted condition of their treasury. What is the explanation of the fact that the Dutch, after being held in subjection for so long by the Duke of Parma, have nevertheless been victorious in their turn throughout an equal period of years under the valiant command of a magnificent leader, unless that explanation lies in the strain placed upon enemy resources (a strain so severe that their restoration has scarcely yet become possible) by the great fleet sent against Britain11 and the crushing expenses of the war with France? It was this depletion of resources that gave rise to the frequent disturbances along the French borders, to the Italian insurrection at Sichem and to mutual slaughter among our enemies; from this starting-point sprang the defection of Saint-André, the series of fresh disturbances that left Flanders open to attack, and the opportunity to wage a famous battle;12 this was the incentive for the rebellion of Hoogstraeten, during which the fields of the Dutch were laid waste by their own orders.
As for present events, precisely because our opponents are beginning to entertain greater hopes and are seeking even to grasp possession of those seas to which the Dutch have a special right, we should strive all the more zealously to ensure their failure in the very midst of that attempt by heaping additional expenses upon those which they have already incurred. In this connexion, it is of the utmost importance that we cause as much trouble as possible for the Iberian peoples throughout the East Indies, so that they may be thrown into confusion again and again by new defeats and losses. Such a course of action is particularly advisable in view of the fact that the expenditures which it will involve for our own side, will lay no burden upon our state but will be met instead by private citizens. Besides, who knows but that success in the East Indies might presently give us confidence to undertake some bold enterprise in the American sphere? And in such an event, surely we could regard that [Iberian] domain [in the New World], built upon the spoils of all nations, as a legitimate object of despoliation by any nation!
Thesis VINow, if it is true (as the authorities on these matters maintain)a that ease of execution is a point to be borne in mind when one is estimating the benefits attached to a given project, then let the foe fit out fleets as costly as he may please, till the din of prodigious preparations resounds on all sides! If the Dutch are not entirely mistaken about that foe and about themselves, there is no danger, just as truly as no danger to the Romans was to be found in the army of King Antiochus, which (as we know) was wittily ridiculed by Hannibal. For when the King boastfully pointed out to Hannibal the vast numbers of armed men glittering with gold and silver insignia, the chariots equipped with scythes, the canopied elephants, the cavalry with its brightly shining reins, caparisons,[157′] collars and other trappings, and when he inquired whether or not the Carthaginian thought that all these things would be enough for the Romans, Hannibal (whose attention was fixed exclusively upon the weakness of the unwarlike men) declared that the things in question would indeed suffice for the Romans even if the latter were assumed to be the greediest of peoples, thus phrasing his reply as if he had been asked about spoils lying ready for seizure when in reality he had been questioned about comparative strength. We shall borrow the thought expressed by the Carthaginian general, with certain changes in wording, as follows: whatever may be the exact nature of the preparations that the Portuguese are making throughout India—preparations magnificent to behold and costly in price—these will be enough for the Dutch, even if the latter, after suffering tremendous losses, are assumed to be not unjustly desirous of proportionate compensation. As Antisthenesa neatly observed, long ago: ὅ τι δει̑ τοι̑ς πολεμίοις εὔχεσθαι τ’ ἀγαθὰ παρει̑ναι χωρὶς ἀνδρείας· γίνεται οὕτως οὐ τω̑ν ἐχόντων, ἀλλὰ τω̑ν κρατούντων; “We ought to wish that our enemies may have goods and no valour; for in such circumstances the goods become the property, not of the persons who have them [at the moment], but of those who [later] win them.” Surely no one will disagree with this opinion, after judicious consideration.
In proportion as the Dutch vessels are smaller, so also they are more agile, being easily moved to meet every martial or maritime emergency and so constructed that the missiles discharged from hostile vessels fly over them harmlessly. The massive, slow-moving hulks belonging to the Portuguese, fashioned not for war but for carrying cargo, open on all sides to the enemy’s fire, inadequate for strife against the winds, are in general fitted to be conquered rather than to conquer. The Dutch people—reared amid their own waters beneath a frosty, wind-swept sky, under the light of northern stars, and in an amazing number of cases accustomed even from childhood to spending more time upon the ocean than on land—are just as familiar with the sea as they are with the soil. They endure cold extremely well; they display the utmost patience in going without food; they are thoroughly accustomed to the hardships necessarily attendant upon extended journeys such as [the voyages to the Indies], and they have profited by the long-drawn war at home, both in boldness and in martial skill. But the weak bodies of the Portuguese, bodies enervated by warmth and accustomed to luxury, are not strong enough to endure sea-sickness or the tossing of the waves. Furthermore, the Portuguese are essentially effeminate. They are wasted with debauchery, unskilled in the use of arms, and burdened in the midst of their voyages by throngs of ailing persons who hinder the activities even of the men in good health. In short, they are unfit for war and may be described (in the well-known phrase) as “spoil for the Mysians.”13
We find that the Dutch sailors have in consequence acquired so much self-confidence as to reject the possibility that in the event of a struggle, at any time whatsoever, they themselves might be too few or the Portuguese sufficiently numerous. On many occasions, generals of exceptional sagacity, basing their opinion on the faces and bearing of their men, and observing the eagerness of the latter prior to battle, have declared that beyond any doubt victory was already theirs. In the judgement of those generals, such evidence was the best of omens and by far the surest means of prognostication. Thus the Dutch, too, should augur for themselves no slight success when they observe the courageous spirit of their men. For it is neither through recklessness nor without very good cause that these Dutchmen place confidence in their own valour and good fortune, since they have at hand the most incontrovertible proofs on this point, and pledges (so to speak) of victory.
Over a very long period of time, [to mention one proof of Spanish and Portuguese weakness,] the Frencha succeeded in disturbing [Spanish] commerce with America to such an extent that there were few Spaniards of rank who had not fallen into French hands at one time or another; and on some of these occasions, so much spoil was taken by the victors that even every cabin-boy brought back eight hundred ducats. The French were also successful in despoiling all the islands of the New World and the American Continent itself. On the other hand, when the Spaniards in a single instance captured a French vessel—not by Spanish valour but through the timidity of the opposing commander—the event seemed to them so unusual that they celebrated the triumph in a manner suggesting that France herself rather than a French ship had been completely conquered. This situation was the result, however, not of any great superiority in maritime skill on the part of the French, but of that avarice which had induced the Spaniards to load their ships with merchandise and passengers rather than with arms of any kind. The English, too, after circumnavigating the entire globe, have left practically no part of the Spanish dominions intact. No one ever succeeded to any possession with greater impunity [than that enjoyed by the English in this matter].
What, then, may not be hoped for in regard to the Dutch, those true sons of the sea? Without wishing to make invidious comparisons, we may say that the Dutch have never been hard pressed on any field of battle where the conditions were equal, nor in any open naval combat. I shall not illustrate my point by turning to the earlier pages of our history, although glorious examples could be drawn from the records of our conflicts with the French, the Germans, and the English. Let us concentrate all our attention upon the Iberian foe—who has enjoyed some support, moreover, from the Low Countries—and let us briefly review the period extending from the very beginning of the war to the present joyful moment.
We behold the chains of the captive Bossu; the Portuguese wealth that had been seized even at that early date by the people of Zeeland; the Duke of Medinaceli fleeing in a skiff, and de Hont, dripping with Spanish blood. Furthermore, is it possible that there will ever be a more imposing fleet than the one sent forth against Britain and against the Dutch in that terrible year [of 1588]? And are not the East Indian seas much narrower in their straits and much more uncertain in their shallows than even this Gallic sea [i.e. the English Channel]? For the former are said to contain, in addition to their numerous shoals and sand-banks seventy thousand islands, against which the heavier enemy vessels will certainly be dashed. Have we forgotten the fleet near Cάdiz, which was driven upon the shore and given to the flames by the Dutch and English forces? Or the ships of Spínola, so fatal to their master? Again, what braver or more illustrious leader will be granted to the enemy than Andrés Hurtado de Mendoza? Yet he was vanquished near Bantam and put to flight, although no contest could be more unequal than the one between those six comparatively small ships [on the Dutch side] and the opposing vessels, more than thirty in number, which were so[158′] large and so powerful. Since the date of Hurtado’s defeat, how many Portuguese vessels have been captured, sunk, or burned? Leaving aside all the rest, let us speak only of the largest ships. In addition to the one shared as prize between Spilberg and the English, three caracks have already fallen into our hands; and these caracks, while I call them ships, might well be regarded as fortresses, or even as towns, peopled by more than seven hundred men. One of the three, taken by Cornelis Sebastiaansz near the island of Saint Helena, fell to the lot of the Zeelanders. Another is the very ship brought in by Heemskerck. Now a third carack has been captured and despoiled near Macao by the ships of Warwijck. But certain events that were even much more notable have occurred, namely: the conquest of an entire fleet; the liberation of Johore, and the release of a very friendly king from a state of siege. For Jacob Pietersz—who was taking two vessels from the above-mentioned fleet of Warwijck together with a cutter, to Patani, in the hope of enhancing the great goodwill already felt toward the Dutch by the Queen of that region—perceived in the course of this same voyage that a river belonging to the Kingdom of Johore was held by the Portuguese. The latter, with two galleons in addition to more than twenty-five brigantines and other ships of war, had filled the whole vicinity with deadly terror. Pietersz, who felt that it would not be at all right to desert an allied prince threatened by such danger, engaged in a battle that continued until late in the day, when the enemy was routed and took to the high seas. It would be a long story if we were to tell how the king himself, coming in person to the victorious ships in order to express his gratitude, extolled the good faith of his allies, which had just been proven to him anew. But not even these achievements satisfied the Dutch. On the contrary, the enemy was sought out once more and, after a long struggle, both galleons were so badly damaged that the Portuguese barely escaped by bending to their oars.
So numerous and so glorious were the victories won over the Portuguese! And are there still persons who believe that the Portuguese should be feared? By no means! Press on, press on, O nation of seafarers! Imagine that it was not to Augustus at Actium but to you yourselves that these famous words of the Oraclea were addressed:
The last two lines are undeniably true, and especially pertinent to the present discussion. The Dutch sailor knows that he is fighting in defence of the law of nations while his foes are fighting against the fellowship of mankind; he knows that they fight to establish despotism, but that he himself is defending his own liberty and the liberty of others; he knows that the enemy are motivated by an inborn lust for evildoing, whereas the Dutch have been provoked repeatedly and over a long period by calumny, cruelty, and perfidy. The greatest of the Greek oratorsb spoke thus: ὑπὲρ μὲν ω̑̔ν ἂν ἐλαττω̑νται μἑχρι δυνατου̑ πάντες πολεμου̑σιν. περὶ δὲ του̑ πλεονεκτει̑ν οὐχ οὕτως. “All persons fight to the finish and with all their might in a defensive action opposing the infliction of injury; but this is not the case when the motive is greed for another’s property.” Alexander the Great, too, expressed himself in a manner befitting his rank as commander-in-chief, when he said:a τὸ μὲν ἄρχειν ἀδίκων ἔργων οὐκ ἀγνώμονα ἔχει τὴν πρόκλησιν, τὸ δὲ τοὺς ὀχλου̑ντας ἀποσείεσθαι, ἔκ τε τὴς ἀγαθη̑ς συνειδήσεως ἔχει τὸ θαρράλεον, καὶ ἐκ του̑ μὴ ἀδικει̑ν ἀλλ’ ἀμύνασθαι ὑπάρχει τὸ εὔελπι. “He who takes the initiative in inflicting injury certainly gives provocation of the most odious kind; but when one is repelling aggressors, the purpose of the struggle is not injury but self-defence, and therefore (since a clear conscience is attended by self-confidence) the highest hopes are entertained.”
The States Assembly of Holland, in its Decree [of September 1, 1604],14 summarizes in more concise form the very observations above set forth on the subject of benefits. This Decree makes it clear that, by the grace of God, navigation and trade have been protected and expanded in the course of our struggle with the Portuguese,b friendly kingdoms and cities have been liberated, and outstanding victories and advantages have been won from the enemy (from whom we hope to win still greater gains), while the same document also shows clearly that every one of these advantages is heavily fraught with injury and severe loss for the enemy, but with honour, benefit, and fair repute for the United Provinces of the Low Countries and for the citizens thereof, all without any expense to the state.
Part II of Chapter XVNow, just as the state profits quite as much as the merchants from damage done in battle to the Portuguese foe and from the despoliation of that foe, even so it is expedient for the state no less than for the merchants that the latter should become the owners of the prize in question. For, in view of the fact that the public treasury is exhausted by the multiple costs of an exceedingly long and arduous war, and particularly by the heavy naval costs, no development could be more opportune than the destruction of the enemy’s strength at private expense. But the wise man does not incur expense unless the attendant risk is cancelled by the prospect of a fair profit. Therefore, the members of the States Assembly are making a very proper move when they not only favour the East Indian trade in all other respects but also decide that it is just, and beneficial to the state, to assign the things captured at the expense and risk of the East India Company to the members of that Company. Accordingly, in conformity with the principle expressed (for example) in Propertius’a verse, and furthermore implicit in natural reason itself,
We conclude, then, that he who disdains a benefit so estimable is excessively prodigal in his attitude toward opportunity and good fortune. For I should almost be justified in characterizing as a mark of senseless obstinacy the failure to seize straightway with grateful hands (so to speak) whatever becomes our own by the law of war and hence by the law of nations, as well as by grant of the States Assembly, or highest magistracy. Thus we might reasonably suppose, either that no one would persevere in a determination to resist and even fling away possession on these terms, or else, assuming the existence of persons who would do so, that such persons must be men whose example no one rightly disposed toward God and country could wish to follow. Yet there actually are Dutchmen so excessively meek that they listen patiently to sentiments befitting the foe but uttered by fellow citizens. It is indeed regrettable that [enemy] impunity has developed to a point where some Dutchmen dare to proclaim that everything is permissible for the Portuguese and nothing, for themselves! I can wish for such individuals no greater ill than that they may fall into the hands of the very foe whom they so warmly favour, though without impairment of our own sovereignty or danger to our state.
But let their idle talk—or rather, their malevolent disparagement of the public cause—be left to the punishment provided by the laws and to the diligence of the magistrates. As far as we are concerned, it is enough that we have offered enlightenment to those who are in error.
Thus, if there is any logical approach or citation of authorities capable of influencing the persons who may have rejected the profits in question on the ground that otherwise they could not have felt themselves to be complying with the demands of justice and conscience, it is possible that these persons have been rendered wiser by the arguments and corroborative examples adduced in the earlier portion of the present treatise. I myself believe that the observations already made should suffice to convince all but the very obstinate that the aforesaid profits are honourable in the highest degree.
Again, as for those critics (if such there be) who are chiefly interested in the question of benefits, let us see what objection they can offer to the acquisition of the prize. Certainly I do not think that anyone will refer in the present connexion to the well-known saying that, “Ill-gotten gains are dissipated in like fashion, and things basely acquired are not handed down to posterity.” For we ourselves willingly concur in this sentiment. In fact, we go still further and deny that anything inconsistent with justice and honour can be beneficial, even if it be granted that unjust possessions might possibly enjoy the protection of fortune and the authoritative sanction derived from the passage of long periods of time. But it has already been proved by the most incontrovertible arguments that the situation under discussion is the exact opposite of that described in the saying above quoted, so that any objection whatsoever based on such grounds necessarily collapses through the removal (so to speak) of its fundamental assumption. For it is, on the contrary, undeniably true that there are almost no possessions whose status dates back further than the ownership of things acquired through war, and it is equally true that the security of almost any nation depends (as Cicero indicates in his treatise On Duties)a upon possessions of this kind.
Accordingly, in the works of various writers, we frequently come across statements to the effect that whatever has been taken from enemies by armed force is justly possessed, and that such possessions are transmitted to one’s successors by a just title and with just cause. This very point was brought out, moreover, in the reply given by the Romans to the Auruncans with reference to the territory of the Ecetrans. The Volscians, too, were told by the Romans that such martial acquisitions were no less one’s own property than acquisitions obtained as gifts. Possibly these assertions were inspired by the fact that both of the parties who subject themselves to the hazards of war would seem to have entered into a species of contract which provides that captured goods shall be ceded to the captors, so that no injustice will be involved if a would-be conqueror, upon finding himself defeated instead, undergoes the[160 a] fate of the conquered. It will be worth our while to quote the exact words written by Dionysius of Halicarnassus in this connexion. In Dionysius’a account of the speech made by Titus Larcius, the following passage is included:
ὅτι Ῥωμαι̑οι καλλίστας ὑπολαμβάνομεν κτήσεις εἰ̑ναι καὶ δικαιοτάτας, ἂς κατάσχωμεν πολεμῳ̑ λαβόντες, καὶ νόμῳ, καὶ οὐκ ἄν ὑπομείναιμεν μωρίᾳ τὴν ἀρετὴν ἀφανίσαι, παραδόντες αὐτὰ τοι̑ς ἀπολωλεκόσι· κοινωνητἑον τε πα̑σι καὶ τοι̑ς ἐκ τούτων γενομἑνοις καταλιπει̑ν ἀγωνιου̑μεθα. νυ̑ν δὲ ὑπαρχόντων ἤδη στερησόμεθα, καὶ ἑαυτοὺς ὅσα πολεμίους βλάψομεν.
We Romans believe that those possessions are most honourable and most just which we have acquired by capture in accordance with the law of war, and we certainly cannot be persuaded to return the said possessions to the persons who once lost them, thus destroying with fatuous complaisance the monuments to our own valour. Since it is our belief, then, that where this public wealth is concerned we should strive to transmit a vast quantity of such possessions to our descendants, shall we allow ourselves to be despoiled of the things which we have already acquired, and shall we decree against ourselves the very measures that are wont to be decreed against enemies?
Again, in the reply of the Roman senators to the Volscians, we find this declaration:b
ἔμει̑ς δὲ κρατίστας ἔγούμεθα κτήσεις ἂς ἂν πολεμῳ̑ κρατήσαντες λάβωμεν· οὔτε πρω̑τοι καταστησάμενοι νόμον τόνδε, οὔτε αὐτὸν ἀνθρώπων ἔγούμενοι εἰ̑ναι μα̑λλον ἢ οὐχὶ θεω̑ν· ἅπαντάς τε[160′ a] καὶ Ἕλληνας καὶ βαρβάρους εἰδότες αὐτῳ̑ χρωμἑνους, οὐκ ἄν ἐνδοίημεν ὑμι̑ν μαλακὸν οὐδὲν, οὐδ’ ἂν ἀποσταίημεν ἔτι τω̑ν δορυκτήτων. πολλὴ γὰρ ἂν εἴη κακότης εἴ τις ἂ μετὰ ἀρετη̑ς καὶ ἀνδρείας ἐκτήσατο, ταυ̑τα ὑπὸ δειλίας τε καὶ μωρίας ἀφαιρεθείη.
We, on the other hand, regard that which has been acquired by capture from the enemy as the most honourable kind of possession. Furthermore, since we ourselves are not the first to establish this criterion but are merely complying with it as with a law of divine rather than human origin, one confirmed by the usage of all nations, Greek and barbarian alike, we shall not be moved by cowardice to restore anything to you, nor shall we renounce the possessions acquired in warfare. For the loss, through ignorance or fear, of acquisitions made through valour and fortitude would be shameful in the extreme.
In the reply of the Samnites, too,a these words appear: πολἑμῳ κρατησάντων ἔμω̑ν, ὅπερ ἐστὶ νόμος κτήσεως δικαιότατος; “. . . since we have obtained possession by force of arms, a fact which constitutes the most just title to possession.” Yet again, the oration of Fabriciusb includes the following statement: ἐκείνῃ μὲν γε κτήσει, καὶ τὸ μεθ’ ἔδονη̑ς ποιει̑σθαι τὰς ἀπολαύσεις, πρὸς τὸ καλω̑ς καὶ δικαίως πόσον ἠ̑ν; “For that type of acquisition” (Fabricius is referring to acquisition through war) “was characterized not only by justice and honour, but also by the exceedingly great pleasure derived therefrom.”
But even if the possession of the prize in question is not in itself a matter open to doubt, we must still deal with the fears regarding some ex post facto development such as might occur, for example, if the case should subsequently be brought into court. We must picture the judge of that hypothetical trial, however, as being either a Spanish subject or a person of non-Spanish nationality.
Anyone who believes it possible for the Dutch ever to find themselves under the obligation of pleading their cause even for past actions before a Spanish court, must indeed entertain the most pessimistic expectations regarding our native land. But if such a situation could and did arise—perish the ill-omened thought!—not only this particular prize but every Dutchman, too, together with all his goods, would be utterly lost. For truly,
Perhaps there are some who fear that as a result of such a development their own property may be held back by the enemy, in the event that commercial relations with the latter are renewed but the war continues. As if, forsooth, the foe had not adopted this very device prior to the events under discussion; or as if he needed a fresh pretext for continuing to do so! Besides, it is not sufficiently clear to me why anyone who finds the East Indian trade so lucrative and for whom it shows a daily increase in profits, should prefer that other field of trade, which is exposed to so many perils and to the malice of the enemy. In short, either we should abandon that [trade with the enemy] altogether, or else we should proceed with our activities in it only after Spain has become unable to do without Dutch merchandise. Moreover, if the foe nevertheless does revert to his former perfidious ways, the suit in question will be brought against the merchants, not15 on the ground that they have possession of the aforementioned prize (for in those [hostile] lands no one can know who has received a share of the prize and who, on the contrary, has refused to receive any), but rather on the ground that the said[160′] merchants have engaged in trade with the East Indian peoples in defiance of the edict issued by the King of the Spanish realms. For are we not aware of the fact that the Spanish Government has proscribed the men at the head of this commercial venture? Nor had these men yet seized the carack, at the time of their proscription. Yet the practice of trade with the East Indians was so heinous a crime in the eyes of the Spanish King, that he devised a substitute as dark and ignominious as possible for the punishment which he could not inflict upon the persons of the individuals involved. Furthermore, even with respect to charges based specifically on the acquisition of the prize, if that act be regarded as manifestly unjust (for it may perhaps be so regarded by the enemy), then the rule of restitution and the authority of legal experts will show that the responsibility lies not only with the persons who took possession, but also—and in the fullest sense—with the authors and advocates of the act.a Therefore, since there would be no impunity on that score if the case were submitted to a judge of Spanish nationality, there is no reason to be more fearful on this ground than on other grounds. Indeed, we ought rather to exert ourselves in order to prevent the case from ever coming before such an arbiter.
If, on the other hand, we picture the judge as being not an enemy but some friendly prince or people, then, in the first place, the fear to which we have referred is quite unfounded, since neither appropriation of pledges nor reprisals are ever allowed for acts that have passed between belligerents. Indeed, as long as a war has not been declared unjust (and no one has pronounced such a judgement against the war waged by the Dutch), the retention of captured possessions is an act so just that those possessions cannot be made the subject of controversy. Besides, recourse is had to reprisals in the interest of fellow citizens but not on behalf of foreigners, and the present case is the concern of the Portuguese [, who would not be fellow citizens of any non-Spanish subject].
Moreover, if we are to conceive of some [non-Spanish] judge who is [nevertheless] devoted to the Spanish cause and eager to surrender everything to Spain, then surely, in the estimation of that judge, it will be not so much the acquisition of the prize, as the use of arms against the [Spanish] ruler, the practice of trade with the East Indians, and numerous other matters, that will call in part for atonement and in part for defensive pleading. For acquisition of spoils can result in an obligation equivalent to but not greater than the value of the spoils taken, so that restitution for such acquisitions merely cancels the profit derived from them without inflicting actual loss; whereas the computation of penalties for the other charges against us would be restrained by no limits.
Furthermore, in so far as reprisals are concerned, their nature is such that the act of any given citizen involves every other citizen of the same state, so that under this head nothing more is to be feared by the persons who have received a share of the prize than by those who have not done so. Therefore, there is no reason [based upon the danger of reprisals] for refusing to lay claim to the prize.
As for the possibility that there may be someone who does lay claim to it in a restricted sense but nevertheless seeks to appease his scruples or timidity by some means other than [outright repudiation of his portion], such a person will be doubly in error. For that which is claimed must be either retained or transferred. It can be retained, moreover, with either of two intentions: that is to say, with the purpose of restoring it to the enemy, or with the purpose of putting it aside for one’s own benefit.
Captured possessions, however, neither can nor should be returned to their former owners. For where will those owners be found? Do we perhaps expect that subjects of the enemy state will come from India, or from Lisbon, in order to reclaim their property through the legal ceremony known as an “act of joint seizure”?16 But the owners themselves have banished from their minds all hope of reclaiming that property, as if openly acknowledging that they have merely suffered the fate decreed by the law of war; and he who takes a contrary view, questioning the lawful right which not even the foe disputes, is indeed deserving of ridicule. For it is quite clear that persons waging a war in good faith are not bound, even in conscience, to make restitution. Neither is it right that spoils should be restored to the enemy, even if such restoration should be entirely possible. For deeds that aid the enemy, whether financially or in any other way, are contrary to the laws and violate the majesty of the nation.a If the fatherland itself were able to address the persons who attempt to give such aid, surely it would speak as follows: “All good citizens act to this end, labour in this cause and unhesitatingly pour out their blood and their riches for this purpose, namely: to ensure the greatest felicity for me by depriving the foe of every means of injury. Thus they believe it to be beneficial for me and consequently glorious for themselves to take from those who are stubbornly inimical their very lives, and from those who are in error the resources which are obviously being misused in a manner ruinous to me. As for you, do you even wish to give back to my enemies the things already snatched away from them by the fortunes of war, thereby turning my loss, forsooth, to a corresponding enrichment of those persons who—impelled not by ignorance nor by any error, but rather by their own ambition and their own avarice—have unanimously conspired to bring destruction upon me[161′] and upon each of you, individually?” In my opinion, no one after hearing this exhortation would have any choice but to acknowledge his fault, confessing that he had been led astray by false arguments rather than that he had been deliberately undutiful toward his country.
Now, granting that it is not permissible to restore captured possessions to the enemy, let us consider whether or not it is in any sense beneficial to keep those possessions apart from the rest of one’s property.
If this policy is adopted in order to prevent other goods from being contaminated by the admixture of spoils, such superstitious scruples certainly call for ridicule rather than for confutation; unless, perchance, we believe that ill-got possessions are like bad eggs in that contagion creeps from coin to coin in consequence (as it were) of their mutual proximity, instead of recognizing the fact that the term “patrimony” denotes a complete whole which preserves the same nature throughout, even though it may be distributed in different coffers and purses.a Thus, precisely as goods justly obtained (a description which includes spoils taken in a just war) serve as a righteous means of increasing and adorning that whole, so the latter cannot possibly escape contamination from goods unrigh-teously acquired even when they are segregated and removed to a great distance. For the only pertinent question is this: do I wish these goods to be numbered among my possessions, or not? Yet I cannot be considered to have excluded from my possessions anything that I take as my own and keep.
Again, if any person divides his property with a view to averting the necessity for a search at some future time when he may be compelled by judicial decree to make restitution [for captured goods], that person has not only become fearful of a contingency which (as we have already pointed out) need not be feared at all, or at least never in any grave degree, but he also commits a grievous error in his interpretation of the law and increases the probability of loss to himself. For one is much more easily forced to make restitution for spoils still in one’s possession than for those already consumed, since it is a well-established rule that in the latter case they are ceded to the user in recognition of good faith.b
Nor is anything more effective accomplished by those individuals who do in actual fact lay claim to spoils, but who transfer the goods claimed to others. For, assuming that such individuals imagine some taint to be attached to the property in question, it is certainly impossible to cancel by any transference of possession a responsibility that is not merely established by the laws but imposed still more forcibly by conscience.c Therefore, he who has assumed possession of spoils while acting in bad faith—in other words, while believing that the seizure of the spoils was unjust—is permanently bound by an obligation to make restitution, so that (according to the authoritiesa on the subject) he will not be released from this obligation by the act of selling or giving away the goods involved, even though they be transferred to the thousandth [subsequent] possessor. Moreover, if anyone supposes that he can be said to have shared any less in the spoils because, before touching any part of them, he transferred all right therein to another, such a person is utterly ignorant even of the ordinary aspects of jurisprudence. For whatever has fallen into another’s possession by a grant from me, even though it may have been delivered to him by a process of fictitious transfer,17 so to speak, must still be admitted to have been mine. By any other process of reasoning, nothing of all that we have received and expended through our agents will have belonged to us at all.
Furthermore, he who transfers his possessions must necessarily be distributing them among the poor, or else handing them over to some organized entity or to another individual.
When one bestows a gift upon the poor, he is to all intents and purposes making a gift to God. Such conduct is indeed praiseworthy in the highest degree. For what act is more just than the acknowledgement, when revenue has been quite unexpectedly received, of the benefaction conferred by Him to whom alone victory in war is due? Thus, not only among the Jews, but also among the Greeks, the Romans, and still other peoples, the consecration of a tithe or some such portion of the spoils became an established custom. On the other hand, this very fact indicates with sufficient clarity that it is unnecessary to give up the whole. For even Abraham,b who gave the priest tithes from the spoils, nevertheless did not deprive his allies nor his attendants of their portions. Again, in the history of Moses,c it is clearly written that, even after liberal sacrificial offerings had been made, there was still so much spoil that every man kept a great deal of it for himself. Nevertheless, the most thorough consideration must be given to the question of whether the person who sets aside a certain amount of spoil as an offering to God, makes that oblation as something of his own, or as something belonging to another. If he offers it as his own, he undoubtedly acts rightly, and we have no dispute with him; for whatever any man has acquired, he may also transfer. But if the gift is offered as the property of another, let the giver take care lest he offend God, whom he strives to placate,[162′] by the act of thrusting upon the Deity that which he believes himself unable to retain with a clear conscience. For God, who forbade that the hire of a whore should be dedicated to Him, makes it quite clear that no gift is pleasing to Him unless it be drawn from goods righteously acquired.a This is the import of Augustine’s statementb that one ought not to commit thefts even for the purpose of feeding God’s holy poor.
On the other hand, those persons who transfer a right either to an organized entity or to an individual, must be regarded as having sold that right, if they receive anything in exchange for it; or, even if they wish for no payment except gratitude, they still may not deny that they first considered as their own that which they are now converting into the property of another. For no one can give away what he does not possess.c Therefore, both before the court of conscience and in the judgement of the civil courts, the individuals who have adopted this course of action find themselves in the same position as those who have accepted ownership [of the prize]. For even the latter receive, not the actual goods involved, but the price thereof; and this, moreover, they exchange daily for other things.
EpilogueThus the persons who imagine that there is some reason which makes it imprudent to seize and hold spoil taken from the Portuguese enemy, are in numerous ways either deceivers or deceived.
I therefore exhort the merchants, and the East India Company, not to allow themselves to be dissuaded on any pretext (for all of the pretexts adduced are certainly false and without force) from their purpose: a purpose approved not only by accepted custom and in the eyes of mankind, but also by divine law and in the court of conscience; one which is not merely devoid of turpitude, but worthy of being regarded as especially honourable and even glorious; in fine, a purpose attended by no disadvantage whatsoever, but rather by the richest promise of benefits both from a private and from a public standpoint. Let them make frequent voyages to the most distant lands in that spirit of inviolable good faith which is characteristic of the Dutch! Let them defend the right of commerce against every possible injury! Let them win allies for the fatherland, and let them also acquire enemy property both for their country and for themselves!
Moreover, I beg and entreat of every one of our governmental assemblies (both those of our individual nations and the States General of the United Provinces), the leaders and lords of public liberty, that they will continue to promote and protect, with the favourable treatment accorded at the outset, this enterprise which is opportune in the highest degree, detrimental to the foe, beneficial for our people and fraught with glory for those assemblies themselves. I beg and entreat, too, that they will not permit toil to go without rewards, valour without honour, peril without profit, and expenditures without reimbursement.
As a suppliant also before God the Eternal, sole Author of our state and its Guiding Spirit, whom we call “Most Excellent” in referring to His will and “Greatest” in referring to His power, seeing that it has pleased Him to select the Dutch in preference to all others for the purpose of manifesting through them the feebleness of any degree of human might in opposition to His strength, and seeing, too, that it has been His pleasure to reveal the glory of our race to the farthest regions of the world created by Him, I pray and reverently implore: first, that He will instil into our people such habits of conduct as befit the name of Christian, so that no fault on their part may render the true religion odious to unconsecrated nations; secondly, that He will frustrate the cruel designs of our enemies, not choosing that the innocent shall succumb to the savagery of those enemies but, on the contrary, heaping loss and disaster upon the latter, praise and honour upon the former; that He will restrain the pestilential madness of those who are in disaccord with the fatherland; that He will impart sound understanding to those now led astray by error, and that He will bestow upon all of us a wisdom that will enable us to use and enjoy victory (which is, we acknowledge, a gift from heaven) in a spirit no less grateful than pure.
A copy of each of the following documents will be appended:18
Table of Rules and Laws Compiled from Chapter II of the Commentary
rule i. What God has shown to be His Will, that is law.
rule ii. What the common consent of mankind has shown to be the will of all, that is law.
rule iii. What each individual has indicated to be his will, that is law with respect to him.
rule iv. What the commonwealth has indicated to be its will, that is law for the whole body of citizens.
rule v. What the commonwealth has indicated to be its will, that is law for the individual citizens in their mutual relations.
rule vi. What the magistrate has indicated to be his will, that is law in regard to the whole body of citizens.
rule vii. What the magistrate has indicated to be his will, that is law in regard to the citizens as individuals.
rule viii. Whatever all states have indicated to be their will, that is law in regard to all of them.
rule ix. In regard to judicial procedure, precedence shall be given to the state which is the defendant, or whose citizen is the defendant; but if the said state proves remiss in the discharge of its judicial duty, then that state shall be the judge, which is itself the plaintiff, or whose citizen is the plaintiff.
law i. It shall be permissible to defend [one’s own] life and to shun that which threatens to prove injurious.
law ii. It shall be permissible to acquire for oneself, and to retain, those things which are useful for life.
law iii. Let no one inflict injury upon his fellow.
law iv. Let no one seize possession of that which has been taken into the possession of another.
law v. Evil deeds must be corrected.
law vi. Good deeds must be recompensed.
law vii. Individual citizens should not only refrain from injuring other citizens, but should furthermore protect them, both as a whole and as individuals.
law viii. Citizens should not only refrain from seizing one another’s possessions, whether these be held privately or in common, but should furthermore contribute individually both that which is necessary to [other] individuals and that which is necessary to the whole.
law ix. No citizen shall seek to enforce his own right against a fellow citizen, save by judicial procedure.
law x. The magistrate shall act in all matters for the good of the state.
law xi. The state shall uphold as valid every act of the magistrate.
law xii. Neither the state nor any citizen thereof shall seek to enforce his own right against another state or its citizens, save by judicial procedure.
law xiii. In cases where [the laws] can be observed simultaneously, let them [all] be observed; when this is impossible, the law of superior rank shall prevail.
APPENDIXES TO THE LIBERTY FUND EDITION
[a. ]Supra, Chaps. xii, xiii, xiv.
[b. ]Supra, Chap. i and beg. of Chap. ii.
[c. ]Dialogues On Justice [Republic, I. p. 352 b–d].
[d. ]III [ passim].
[e. ]On Ends, III [xxi. 71].
[1. ]A very loose paraphrase of Cicero’s actual words: . . . numquam aequitatem ab utilitate posse seiungi, et quidquid aequum iustumque esset id etiam honestum, vicis-simque quidquid esset honestum id iustum etiam atque aequum fore (“. . . that equity can never be disjoined from expediency [i.e. benefit], and that whatever is equitable and just is also honourable, while conversely, whatever is honourable is also just and fair”). Rackham, however, in his translation of the work above cited, points out that the final honestum seems to have been written inadvertently for utile, or else employed in the sense of “held in popular esteem,” and therefore, “profitable.” Interpreted in accordance with Rackham’s note, the substance of Cicero’s argument is accurately reproduced by Grotius.
[a. ]Letter of Cassius to Cicero, in Cicero, Letters to his Friends, XV. xix.
[b. ]Arist., Rhetoric, I. vi [6–7] and ibid. ix [1–7].
[c. ]Dig. I. iv. 2.
[d. ][Homer, Iliad, III. 65.]
[e. ]End of Chap. xiv, supra, p. 459.
[a. ]Arist., Rhetoric, I. viii [1–2].
[b. ]Dig. XIV. i. 1, § 20.
[c. ]Dig. L. vi. 5, § 3; add ibid. xi. 2.
[2. ]Apparently some negative phrase was inadvertently omitted from the Latin at this point. Hamaker appends the words dubitari nequit (it is impossible to deny) at the close of the sentence.
[a. ]Jeremiah [Isaiah], xxiii. 8.
[a. ]Isaiah, xxiii, at end.
[3. ]Grotius’s paraphrase of the passage cited from Isaiah is so worded that the translator has thought it advisable here to adopt in part the language of the Douay version of the Bible, although the King James version is followed throughout the present translation in all direct quotations from the Scriptures.
[4. ]Societatis: this term may refer to various types of association, but it seems probable that Grotius has in mind here the fairly common connotation, “copartnership, or traders’ association.”
[a. ]De Jure Belli, at beg. [n. 1, proof 5].
[a. ][On Duties, passim.]
[b. ][Treatise on Duty.]
[5. ]De Vtili, “concerning that which is Expedient,” or “Useful,” or “Beneficial.” For the sake of consistency, the term “beneficial” is kept throughout the translation of this chapter wherever Grotius employs utilis in presenting his own argument. Nevertheless, no single English term is a satisfactory equivalent for all connotations of utilis, and it is not always feasible to adhere to such a rigid rule of consistency in translating Grotius’s references to the works of other authors.
[c. ]Rhetoric, 1. vi [I. vii. 18].
[d. ][Virgil, Aeneid, II. 105.]
[6. ]From the speech of Sinon, who persuaded his Trojan captors that vengeance executed upon him would be injurious to their own cause since it would be pleasing to their enemies, Ulysses (the Ithacan) and the brothers Agamemnon and Menelaus (the sons of Atreus).
[a. ]Cicero, On the Manilian Law [iv. 9].
[7. ]Binis copiis [hostium]. Owing to the omission of hostium (hostile), Grotius’s phrase is rather ambiguous, and could be translated “with twofold forces [of their own],” were it not for the fact that Cicero, in the passage cited, specifically refers to “hostile forces.”
[a. ]Florus [Epitome of Roman History, II. xxxiv].
[b. ]Pliny, Nat. Hist. VI. xxii [VI. xxiv. 84].
[8. ]Taprobane, the name employed by Grotius himself to designate Sumatra, but generally interpreted as referring to Ceylon in the passage cited here from Pliny. For the significance of Taprobane in other passages of the Commentary, see notes on pp. 14, 263, 307–8, and 335, supra. Cf. also, note 10, p. 473.
[9. ]Commeatus, which could also be translated as “free passage,” “convoys,” or “transportation.” Damsté’s Dutch translation, which should carry special weight in passages referring to Dutch history, has proviand (“provisions,” “supplies”).
[10. ]Celonem: apparently Grotius always uses some form of this name when he intends to refer to Ceylon. Taprobanem, in the same sentence, obviously refers not to Ceylon but to Sumatra, as in every other instance throughout the Commentary where Grotius is neither quoting from nor paraphrasing some other author. See note 8, supra, and other notes therein cited.
[a. ][Virgil, Aeneid, I. 750.]
[a. ][The Histories, I. lxviii.]
[11. ]The famous Armada of 1588.
[12. ]Probably another reference to the “Battle of the Dunes,” fought in July 1600, at Nieuwpoort, a town of West Flanders. This battle resulted in a great victory for Maurice of Nassau over the Spanish forces.
[a. ]Arist., Rhetoric, I. vi [.26].
[a. ]In Stobaeus, Florilegium, LII [LIV. 41].
[13. ]I.e., capable of being despoiled by the weakest of nations. The inhabitants of Mysia (an ancient geographical division of Asia Minor) were held in such contempt for their effeminacy that the Greeks frequently expressed scorn for a given person by saying, “He’s the lowest of the Mysians.” (Cf. Cicero, Pro Flacco, xxvii. 65.)
[a. ]Joh. Metal [or Matal] in Pref. to Osorio [History of Emmanuel, p. 20].
[a. ]Propertius, Elegies, IV. vi [47 ff.].
[b. ][Demosthenes, For the Liberty of the Rhodians, 11, p. 193.]
[a. ][Plutarch, Alexander.]
[14. ]Cf. the reference to this Decree on p. 458, supra.
[b. ]Joh. Metal [or Matal] in Pref. to Osorio [History of Emmanuel, passim].
[a. ]Elegies, III. iii [III. iv. 21].
[a. ]I [vii. 21].
[a. ]VI [xxxvi].
[b. ][Ibid.] VIII [x].
[a. ]In Frag. [Dion. of Hal., Selections on Embassies, p. 10.]
[b. ]Ibid. [, p. 18].
[a. ]Lucan [The Civil War], VII .
[15. ]The Latin text at this point (line 3 from bottom of collotype p. 160) is a little confused because an alteration introduced here by Grotius was not completely carried out. The word ex obviously should have been deleted when eo was deleted, and the immediately preceding non has been left rather far from the phrase which it now modifies. In the English translation, the sentence is treated as if Grotius’s correction had been completed; that is to say, ex is not translated, and the negative force of non is transferred to the following quod-clause.
[a. ]See in discussion of Concl. VII, Art. III, Pt. I, Chap. viii, supra, pp. 155 ff. Lupus, De Bello, § Si bene advertas; Matthaei [De Bello] in Req. 1, at end; [Trovamala,] Summa Rosella, on word bellum, n. 6.
[16. ]The Latin phrase manum ex iure conserere (to make a joint seizure) was used to describe the ceremony in which various litigants laid hands simultaneously upon a disputed possession, each claiming it for his own.
[a. ]Dig., XLVIII. iv. 4.
[a. ]Bartolus. On Dig. XXIV. iii. 2, n. 17; Doctors, On Dig. XII. vi. 38.
[b. ]See in discussion of Coroll. II, Chap. viii, supra, p. 147; Vict. De Jure Belli, 33.
[c. ]Institutes, II. vi. 2.
[a. ]Sylvester, on word bellum [Pt. I] x. ; Lupus, § Si bene advertas; Matthaei, De Bello, in Req. 1, at end.
[17. ]Brevi . . . manu: more specifically, “directly from the hand [of the person preceding me as owner].”
[b. ]Genesis, xiv, at end.
[c. ]Numbers, xxxi. 53.
[a. ]Deuteronomy, xxiii. 18.
[b. ]To Claudius against Julian, V. viii [in Letters, ccvii].
[c. ]Seneca, On Benefits, V. xii ; Dig. L. xvii. 54.
[18. ][[Grotius failed to append the documents in question to the manuscript of Commentary on the Law of Prize and Booty, currently in Leiden University Library. These are reproduced in English translation in appendix I of the Liberty Fund edition—M. J. van Ittersum.]]