Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 3.djvu/57

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1805.
45
MONROE'S DIPLOMACY.

of the "Essex." Setting aside his ruling in the case of the "Polly," [1] he held that the neutral cargo which came from Martinique to Charleston, and thence to London, was good prize unless the neutral owner could prove, by something more than the evidence of a custom-house entry, that his original intention had been to terminate the voyage in an American port. In consequence of this decision, within a few weeks American ships by scores were seized without warning; neutral insurance was doubled; and the British merchantmen vied with the royal navy in applauding the energy of William Pitt.

Of the decision as a matter of morality something might be said. That Pitt should have planned such a scheme was not surprising, for his moral sense had been blunted by the desperation of his political struggle; but the same excuse did not apply to Sir William Scott. The quarrel between law and history is old, and its source lies deep. Perhaps no good historian was ever a good lawyer: whether any good lawyer could be a good historian might be equally doubted. The lawyer is required to give facts the mould of a theory; the historian need only state facts in their sequence. In law Sir William Scott was considered as one of the greatest judges that ever sat on the English bench, a man of the highest personal honor, sensitive to any imputation on his judicial independence,—a lawyer in whom the whole profession took pride. In history he made himself and his court a

  1. See First Administration, ii. 400 [sic: actually ch. 14: 327, 340]