Mr. Marsh to Mr. Seward.

No. 91.]

Sir: I enclose herewith a copy of No. 89 of the Official Gazette of the kingdom of Italy, for the present year, dated April 13, containing a royal decree on the subject of the entrance of foreign ships-of-war into Italian ports, and I forward in another envelope No. 90 of the Gazette, containing the report on which the decree in question is founded.

I have this morning called the attention of the minister of foreign affairs to the provisions of this decree, and inquired whether it was intended to apply them rigorously to our only vessel-of-war at present in the Mediterranean. The minister replied that such was not the purpose of the government, and that the decree would not, in the actual state of things, be held to apply to our small naval force in that sea, or to make any change in the extent of the privileges hitherto allowed to us for the convenience of our armed vessels in Italian ports.

The report, as you will observe, paragraph sixth, seems to imply that the decree would not be considered as extending to us under present circumstances, and the minister observed that the eighth article of the decree might be considered as embracing our case, we having no ships-of-war in the Mediterranean sent out for belligerent purposes.

For the present, then, we are not likely to be embarrassed by the provisions of the new decree; but if our force should be augmented, or if confederate cruisers should make their appearance within the straits of Gibraltar, a less liberal rule of action toward us might be adopted.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.



Having in view the royal patent of 24th November, 1827, which settled the regulations of the ports; the penal law affecting the merchant service, dated 13th January, 1827; the royal decree of 22d December, 1861, which extends to the new provinces of the kingdom the laws and regulations for the merchant service in force in the old provinces; considering the state of existing relations existing between Italy and other maritime states which are engaged in open hostilities; considering the prerogative reserved by international maritime law in respect of some particular points along the coasts of a maritime state, in view of upholding and guaranteeing the neutrality of the kingdom toward belligerent powers, and to enforce under any circumstances those rights which may possibly arise out of or flow from such a condition, as well as for the object of preserving its freedom of action intact; on the suggestion of our minister of marine, in concert with that of the minister for foreign affairs, we have decreed and do decree:

Art. 1. It shall not be allowed that any vessel-of-war, armed and on a cruise, of any belligerent state, enter and sojourn with prize in the ports or roadsteads of the kingdom except in cases of stress.

Art. 2. In case of entry under stress, ships-of-war armed for cruising, referred to in the preceding, and under the conditions therein pointed out, must remove [Page 333] from the coasts of the kingdom as soon as the cause which compelled them to seek refuge has passed away, with reserve of the provisions of article 11.

Art. 3. No sale, exchange, barter or gift of objects proceeding from prize shall be made under any pretext in the ports, roads or coasts of the kingdom.

Art. 4. Every Italian subject is forbidden from taking a commission from a belligerent party to arm vessels for war, or accept letters of marque, to make cruising voyages, or assist in any way in equipping, arming, or fitting out a vessel-of-war or cruiser, for the aforesaid belligerent parties.

Art. 5. In support of article 35 of the penal code for the merchant marine, every subject of the King of Italy is prohibited from enlisting or taking service in a ship-of-war, or armed for a cruise, of any belligerent state.

Art. 6. Those subjects who shall contravene the prescriptions of the precedent articles 4 and 5, or commit any act in behalf of a belligerent power contrary to the duty of neutrality maintained by the government of Italy toward the said parties, shall not have a right to protection against any act or measure which the belligerent shall think fit to exercise over the same, without prejudice to the punishment which by effect of this decree is threatened against them in provisions of article 80 of the penal code for the merchant marine, dated 13th January, 1827.

Art. 7. No vessel-of-war or belligerent cruiser shall sojourn more than 24 hours in any port, roadstead, or coast of the kingdom, or the adjacent waters, although she present herself alone, except in cases of stress from stormy weather from damage or failure of provisions necessary to the safety of her voyage.

Art. 8. Ships-of-war of a friendly power, although belligerent, can enter and sojourn in the ports, roads, and on the coasts of the kingdom, in case the scope of their mission be entirely scientific.

Art. 9. In no case shall a belligerent vessel make use of an Italian port with a view to war, or to provide herself with arms and ammunition; she shall not under pretext of repairs do any work that may augment her war power.

Art. 10. Vessels-of-war or belligerent cruisers shall not be denied provisions, commodities, and means for repairs purely necessary for the subsistence of the crew and the safety of the voyage.

Those ships-of-war or belligerent cruisers which seek a supply of fossil coal cannot take in this supply later than 24 hours after their arrival.

Art. 11. When vessels-of-war, cruisers, or merchant vessels of two belligerent parties shall be together in port, roads or on the coasts of the kingdom, there must be a space of at least 24 hours between the sailing of a belligerent party, and the following departure of the other party. This interval may be extended according to circumstances by the maritime authorities of the place.

Art. 12. In the ports considered as marine fortresses, or military or armed ports, where places for anchorage are permanently fixed, and arsenals and naval ship-yards, foreign vessels-of-war cannot sojourn in number greater than the flag of the port, or for longer term than eight days. That period of sojourn can only be prolonged in case of stress or damage, after formal permission from the royal government, for which the local authority of the port must apply through the minister of marine.

Art. 13. The ports and anchorages in the preceding article are the following: Genoa, and its adjacent shores, towards the open sea; the Gulf of Spezzia, Leghorn, Porto Ferrajo, Naples, Baia, Castellamare, Gaeta, Messina, and the anchorages of the Pharos of Reggio, (Calabria,) Millazzo, Siracusa, Augusta, Palermo, Trapani, Taranto, Brindisi, Ancona, Cagliari, Madalena island.

Art. 14. The maritime authorities at the places indicated in the preceding article, on the arrival of foreign vessels-of-war, must send to their commander or the chief officer of the same a copy of the present dispositions for their government, and a request that they will conform to them.

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Art. 15. All the naval authorities of the government must look to the exact fulfilment of whatever is prescribed in this present decree, which will take effect from the day of its publication in various parts of the kingdom.

Art. 16. All arrangements now in force are abrogated in whatever parts they may be in conflict with this decree.

We order that the present decree, under the seal of state, be inserted in the official collection of the laws and decrees of the kingdom of Italy, ordering all to regard, observe, and keep the same.