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debt, with the fraudulent debtor, in the same dan. ger, of suffering a new fraud, with the swindler; or in an equal chance of suffering a second mayhem, with the assaulter of his life, or were they to turn him out upon the road, to try his fortune, in another robbery, with the highwaymen ; what would common sense say of their distribution? It would doubtless pronounce them to have just escaped from bedlam; and order them to be strait-waistcoated, until they should recover their reason, Here the injured person constitutes himself his own judge ; and resolves on a mode of punishment, which, if ordered by any other umpire, he would reject with indignation. What ? he would exclaim; am I, because I have been injured once, to be injured a second time? And is my enemy, because he has robbed me of my character, to be permitted also to rob me of my life? Let it be remembered, that the decision is not the less mad, because it is voluntarily formed by himself. He, who wantonly wastes his own well being is of all fools the greatest.
As a reparation, duelling has still less claim to the character of rational. What is the reparation proposed? If it be any thing, it must consist either in the act of fighting, or in the death of the wrong-doer. If the injury be a fraud, neither of these will restore the lost property ; if a personal suffering, neither can restore health, or renew a limb, or a faculty. Or if the wrong be an injury to the character, it cannot need to be asserted, that neither fighting as a duellist, nor killing the wrong-doer, can alter at all the reputation which has been attacked. He has, perhaps, been charged with lying. If the charge is just, he is a liar still. If it be known to be just, neither fighting nor killing his antagonist, will wipe off the stain. The public knew him to be a liar before the combat ; with the same certainty they know him to be such after the combat. What reparation has he gained ? Not
onre man will believe the story the less, because he has fought a duel, or killed his man. If on the other hand, the charge is false, fighting will not in the least degree prove it to be so. Truth and falsehood must, if evinced at all, be evinced by evidence; not by fighting. In the days of knight-errantry this method of deciding controversies had, in the reigning superstition, one rational plea, which now it cannot claim. God was then believed to give success invariably, to the party which had justice on its side. Modern duellists neither believe, nor wish God to interfere in their concerns.
The reparation, enjoyed in the mere gratification of revenge, will not here be pleaded, because, duel. lists disclaim with indignation the indulgence of that contemptible passion. In the progress of the discourse, however, this subject will be further exam. ined.
As a prevention of crimes generally it is equally absurd. I acknowledge readily, that the fear of danger
and suffering will, in a greater or less degree, prevent crimes, and that men may, in some instances, be discouraged from committing private injuries by the dread of being called to account in this manner. But these instances will be few : and this mode of preventing injuries is almost wholly ineffectual.Duelling is always honorable among duellists; and to be generally practised, must be generally esteem. ed honorable. That which is honorable will always be courted. The danger to life, will therefore re. commend duelling to most men instead of deterring from it. None who call themselves men of honor, ever shew any serious reluctance to give, or accept, a challange. All are brave enough to hazard life, whenever the hazard becomes a sourse of glory.Every savage, that is, every man in a state of nature, will fight because it is glorious. Civilized men have exactly the same natural character. Persuade them
that it is glorious to give and accept challenges, and to fight duels, and few or none of them will hesi. tate. The dread of danger, appealed to, and relied on, in this case, is therefore chiefly imaginary.
Few persons will ultimately, be prevented from do ing injuries by duelling. Affronts on the contary, will be given, merely to create opportunities of fight. ing., Fighting in the case supposed, is glory; and to acquire glory men will make their way to fighting through affronts, injuries and every other course of conduct, necessary, or believed to be necessary, to the end. This fact in the case of humbler and more vul. gar battles has long been realized. Many a bully spends a great part of his life in fighting ; and will at any time abuse those, with whom he is conversant, not from malice nor revenge, but merely to provoke them to battle, that he may obtain the honor of fight. ing. The nature of all classes of men is the same; and polished persons will do the same things which are done by clowns, without any other difference than that which exists in the mode. The clown will fight vulgarly; the polished man genteelly: the provoca. tions of the clown will be coarse; those of the gentleman will be more refined. With this dissimilarity excepted, the conduct of both will be the same; but as the gentlemen will feel the sense of glory more exquisitely, he will seek it with more ardour, and do wanton injuries with more frequency, and less regret,
Thus the ultimate effect will be to increase, and not to prevent, injuries; and the extent of the increase cannot be measured.
Besides, injuries so slight as to be ordinarily disregarded; nay, imaginary and unintended injuries, will, amidst the domination of such pride and passion, as regulate this custom, be construed into serious abuses ; and satisfaction will be demanded with such imperiousness, as to preclude all attemps at repara. tion, on the part of the offender; least, in the very
offer of them, he should be thought to forfeit the character of an honorable man. Whenever fighting becomes the direct and chief avenue to glory, no occasion, on which it may be acquired, will be neglected. The loss of any opportunity will be regarded of course as a serious loss; and the neglect of the least, as a serious disgrace. The mind will, therefore, be alive, vigilant, and jealous, least such a loss, or such a disgrace should be incurred. Almost every thing, which is eithier done, or omitted, will by such a mind be challenged as an affront, and resented as an injury. Thus the injuries, which will be felt will be incalcu. lably multiplied.
To what a condition will this reduce society? But duelling is considered as a source of reputation. In what does the reputation conferred by it, consist ?
The duellist is a brave mari. So is the highway. man, the burglar, the pirate, and the bravo, who de. rives his name from gallant assassination. Nay, the bull-dog is as bold as either. Bravery is honorable to man, only when exerted in a just, useful, rational cause; where some real good is intended, and may hopefully be accomplished. In every other case it is the courage of a brute. Can a man wish to become a competitor with an animal ?
But this claim to bravery is questioned. If from the list of duellists were to be subtracted all those, who either give, or receive challenges from the fear of being disgraced by the omission, or refusal; how small would be the remainder? But is acting from the fear of disgrace, merely, to be regarded as brave. ry in the honorable 'sense; or as courage in any sense? Is it not, on the contrary, simply choosing, of two evils, that which is felt to be the least. Greature, which is not bold enough to do this?
Genuine bravery, when employed at all, is always employed in combating some real evil; something which ought to be opposed. When public opinion
Is there any
is false and mischievous, it will of course meet reso. lutely, public opinion ; and dare nobly to stem the torrent, which is wasting with its violence the public good. Genuine bravery would nobly disdain to give, or receive a challenge; because both are pernicious to the safety and peace of mankind. No man is truly great who has no resolution to withstand, and will not invariably and undauntedly withstand every false and ruinous public opinion.
But suppose it were really reputable in the view of the public, the question would still recur with all its force. Is it right? Is it agreeable to the will of God? Is it useful to mankind ? No advance is made towards the defence of duelling, until these questions can be answered in the affirmative. The opinion of the public cannot alter the nature of moral principles, nor of moral conduct. In the days of Jeroboam, the public opinion of Israel decreed, and supported, the worship of the two calves; and both before, and afterwards, sanctioned sacrifices of children to Moloch. The public opinion at Carthage destined the brightest and best youths in the state as victims to Saturn. In a similar manner public opinion has erred endlessly in every age and country. An honest and brave man would in every such case have withstood the public opinion and would firmly resolve with Abdiel to stand alone. rather than fall with multitudes. He who will not do this, when either the worship of a stock, the immola. tion of a human victim, or the murder of his fellow men, is justified by public opinion, is not only de. void of sound principles, but the subject of misera. ble cowardice. It is a mockery of language, and an aftront to common sense, to call him, who trembling for fear of loosing popular applause, sacrifices his faith and his integrity to the opinion of his fellow men, by any other name than a coward. • But duellists claim the character of delicate and peculiar honor. On what is this claim founded? Are