The Collected Papers of John Westlake on Public International Law

The Collected Papers of John Westlake on Public International Law

Bibliographic Details

Cambridge: University Press. 1914

Book Review

Dr. Westlake, who might well be considered the ” DOYEN ” of English publicists in international law, both public and private, died April 14, 1913, after a long life of great distinction and usefulness. Shortly after his death the first edition of his Chapters on the Principles of International Law being exhausted, the Syndics of the University Press resolved to publish a collection of all his lesser contributions to public international law, embodying therein a new edition of these “chapters.” With the consent of Mrs. Westlake, Dr. Oppenheim, who succeeded Westlake in the Whewell Professorship, undertook the editorship of this compilation His work has been admirably done with judgment, learning and modesty, and the result is the present volume of 705 pages.

Introduction to The Collected Papers of John Westlake on Public International Law

The French papers of Prof. Westlake are omitted for want of space, but are easily accessible, for the most part, in the Revue de Droit International et de Legislation Comparee. The collection is divided into two parts, the first consisting of the “Chapters on the Principles of International Law,” and the second of all his other papers in the chronological order of their appearance. Thus the intellectual life of Dr. Westlake is exhibited in its orderly progress.

Context of The Collected Papers of John Westlake on Public International Law

A valuable list of all his writings is appended and a careful index added. The papers are reprinted without alteration, except to correct misprints, and the addition of a few judicious notes by the editor, signed with his initials. Westlake was a profound jurist who, as has been well said, never sought to evade difficult problems but faced them and “wrestled with them.” These essays, extending from 1856 to 1913, dealing very largely with topics of current interest in international law, are a valuable review of fifty-seven eventful years.

Thesis Statement

They are the contemporary comment by as ripe and as just a mind as any which has addressed itself to that branch of knowledge, in the international incidents of over half a century. They contain discussions of situations which became acute, as blockade during our Civil War, as export of contraband and war supplies, during the Franco-Prussian War, continuous voyage during the SouthAfrican War; the Muscat Dhows Case in 1907, the Hague Conferences and the Declaration of London. Many of the questions, agitated in those past years are revived by the present Great War and are again burning questions, as those of blockade, export of contraband and continuous voyage. For instance, Westlake dealt with the objections presented by a former Count von Bernstorf, then Prussian Ambassador at London, to the export of war supplies from England to France during the FrancoPrussian War.

More about The Collected Papers of John Westlake on Public International Law

He absolutely establishes the validity of such export and the fact that like traffic in war supplies from Prussia to Russia during the Crimean War was extensive and habitual. The present writer recently in discussing, on the platform and in print, objections urged to such export from the United States to the Allies, had great satisfaction in quoting Westlake's facts and conclusions and in showing like extensive export of munitions of war from Germany to England during the South African war, which was in no way discontinued when the South African Republics were wholly cut off from access to the German markets, a situation identical with the present.

Analysis of the Text

The above is but an illustration of the light which these masterly papers throw on the vital questions discussed at the present moment. It is of interest to add that a like volume of Westlake's periodical contributions to private international law, in which his authority was equally preeminent as in public international law, is in contemplation. This will complete the record of Dr. Westlake in these two great branches to which he devoted his long life and his markedly able mind. The university, the editor and all who pursue these useful and elevated studies are to be congratulated.

Book Review Details

This legal book review was published in:

The American Journal of International Law,Vol. 9, No. 3 (Jul., 1915), pp. 770-772Published

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