Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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CEREMONIAL, International. By ceremony we here understand the aggregate of prescriptions of form which regulate intercourse in select circles of society. International ceremonial is therefore the collection of formal rules to be used in intercourse between the representatives of states.


—Since certain forms are indispensable in all intercourse of any importance; since, further, all intercourse in its inception finds difficulty in overcoming the vanity and self-exultation of those who are concerned in it, it is natural that we should find ceremonial precepts and disputes beginning at the period when European states came into more frequent contact with one another. At that period (the sixteenth century), Spain stood at the summit of her power. This explains why the Spanish ceremonial was enabled to make its way first to France and thence over the whole continent of Europe. The infinitely rigid forms of this ceremonial (see Leti Cœremoniale-historico-politicum, Amsterdam, 1685,) was in keeping with the exclusive rule of dynastic interests and the low degree of culture in that age.


—We remark in the eighteenth century a decrease in the stiffness of ceremonial forms and in the number of ceremonial disputes. An abrupt change was brought about in this direction by the French revolution, whose diplomates and generals purposely showed their contempt for the ancient court ceremonial. After the imperial throne of Napoleon was established all this was changed. The congress of Vienna effected a restoration of ceremonial. In this case, of course, the restoration was in accordance with the spirit of modern times. It was felt to be the task of ceremonial not to render intercourse between political representatives more difficult, but to facilitate it. Efforts were made to simplify it; and this tendency has happily continued to grow.


—There are different kinds of ceremonial according to the manner in which, and the difference of place at which, the representatives of several states meet. If the intercourse is personal and oral it is carried on according to the rules of court or diplomatic ceremonial, whether diplomates or diplomates and sovereigns are present. Court and diplomatic ceremonial are designated by the common name etiquette.


—Chancellery ceremonial gives the necessary rules for written communications between the representatives of states.


—Lastly, ships have long been considered as floating portions of territory, and both their meetings on the high sea, and their entering or leaving foreign maritime districts have been considered as the meeting between different state powers, and rules for salutation have been established. The collection of these rules is called sea-ceremonial.


—Space forbids us to enter into detail concerning these different ceremonials. We content ourselves with citing a few chief points. It is first to be remarked with regard to court ceremonial that sovereigns to whom kingly honors are due treat one another on a complete footing of equality. According to general usage the host yields precedence to his guest; grand dukes do the same when they meet emperors or kings. As to states to which royal honors are not due, at least everything is to be avoided which might be interpreted as want of respect for their sovereignty. That their representative, however, must give precedence to those of first class states, is self-evident.


—Those questions of diplomatic ceremonial which had previously given occasion to most disputes were settled by the protocol of the congress of Vienna signed March 19, 1819. This protocol established a classification of representatives and the order of their rank. Precedence in each class was to be regulated according to priority of credentials. In signing treaties the names were to be alternate or the country was to decide. (See AGENT, DIPLOMATIC.) At present the alphabetical order is usually resorted to, by taking the initial letter of the names which the countries bear in the French language. In personal intercourse diplomates often free themselves from the formalities of ceremony by the so-called pêlemêle.


—Chancellery ceremonial has become remarkably simple. Official letters to a sovereign with the so-called great or middle title, are scarcely seen. The small title, limited to a description of the chief dignity of the sovereign, is considered sufficient.


—The diplomatic intercourse of states is carried on mostly by dépêches communiquées, that is, through dispatches which the minister of foreign affairs sends to his ambassadors who read them to the minister of foreign affairs of the state to which they are accredited.


—In autograph letters between sovereigns of royal rank, the title brother is so usual that Napoleon III. considered the refusal of it on the part of the emperor Nicholas as an offense.


—In sea-ceremonial, the principle has been long in force that the ship which enters foreign waters must salute first. Formerly the great truth was not understood that the high sea could not be subjected to the rule of any state. England claimed dominion over certain parts of the high sea, and demanded in them the first and a humiliating salute from foreign flags, which gave occasion to the bitterest disputes and even to war. This pretension is at present extinguished. The obligation to give the first salute after entering foreign waters is as generally recognized as that on the high sea ships of various nationalities cannot require salutes of each other. Flag salutes on the part of war vessels are no longer customary. Cannon only are used in salutes.


—Though on the high sea a salute can no longer be demanded, it is generally given on both sides from reasons of politeness. It is the general rule that the first salute is given in the following cases: by merchantmen to ships of war; by a war ship having on board an officer of inferior rank to one with an officer of higher rank; by single war ships to squadrons, etc. Compare on this question, the queen's (of England) regulations, and the admiralty instructions for the government of her majesty's naval services, (1861); further, the United States navy regulations, etc.


—In reviewing the precepts of the existing international ceremonial, we call special attention to two points: The ceremonial of the present loses its personal character more and more, that is, its rules are considered less with reference to the single sovereign, diplomate or naval officer, than to the nation which is represented by either of them. Besides, the correct view is becoming more widely accepted, that the rules of ceremony and the claims arising from them, are rules and claims not of right but of manners. This sentence expresses our view of the future significance of ceremonial in the intercourse of nations Ceremonial will retain in the future, also, its significance for the representatives of states, just as the rules of politeness are of high value in the intercourse between cultured men, but its precepts will disappear more and more from international law.


—BIBLIOGRAPHY. Bluntschli, Modernes Völkerrecht, § 171, note, §§188, 189: Heffter, Völkerrecht, § 193 ff., 218 ff.; Martens' Guide diplomatique, 5th ed. by Geffeken, I., pp. 122 ff., 196 ff., 207 ff.; II., pp. 10 ff., 113 ff. 320 ff.


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