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. they more sincere, just, kind, peaceable, generous,
and reasonable than other men? These are the ingre. dients of an honorable character. They themselves cannot deny it. That some men who have fought du. els, have exhibited greater or less degrees of this spirit, I shall not hesitate to acknowledge. Men of real worth have undoubtedly been guilty of this foily and sin, as well as of other follies and other sins. But these men derived all their worth from other sources ; aad gained all that was honorable in their minds, and lives, by their character, as men, and not as duellists. As duellists they fell from the height, to which they had risen. He who will explain in what the honor or the delicacy, of the spirit of duelling consists, will confer an obligation on his fellow men, and may un.. doubtedly claim the wreath due to superior intellect.
How generally are duellists, on the contrary, haughty, overbearing, quarrelsome, passionate and abusive; troublesome neighbours, uneomfortable friends, and disturbers of the common happiness? Their preten. sions to honor and delicacy, are usually méré preten. sions; a deplorable egotism of character, which precludes them from all enjoyment, and prevents those around them from possessing quiet, and comfort, un. less every thing is conformed to their vain and capri. cious demands.;
There is neither delicacy, nor hoyor, in giving, or taking, affronts easily, and suddenly ; nor in justify. ing them on the one hand, or in revenging them on the other. Very little children do all these things daily, without either honor or delicacy, from the mere impulse of infantine passion. Those who imitate them in this conduct, "resemble them in character ; and are only bigger children...
But duelling is reputable in the public opinion. I have already answered this declaration ; but I will answer it again. Who are the persons of whom this public
is constitutes ? Are they wise and good men ? Can one wise and good man, unqestionably wise and good, he named, who has publicly appeared to vindicate duelling? If there were even one, his name would ere this, have been announced to the world. This public is not then formed of such men, and does not include them in its number. Is it formed of the mass of mankind; either in this, or any other civilized country ? I boldly deny, that the generality of men, in any such country, ever justified duelling, or respected duellists. Let the appeal be made to facts. In this coun. try certainly, the public voice is wholly against the practice. Some person's who have fought duels, have ungestionably been here respected for their talents, and their conduct; but not one for duelling. The proof of this is complete. This part of their conduct is never the theme of public, and hardly ever of pri. vate cominendation. On the contrary, it is always mentioned with regret, and generally with detestation. Who then is this public? It is the little collection of duellists, magnified by its own voice, as every other little party is, into the splendid character of the public.' "That duellists should pronounce duelling to be reputable cannot be thought a wonder, nor alledged as an argument.
But it is dishonorable not to give a challenge, when affronted; and to refuse one when given Who can endure the sense of shame, or consent to live in ini. famy? What is life worth without reputation, and how can reputation be preserved, as the world now is, without obeying the dictates of this custom ?
This, I presume, is the chief argument, on which duelling rests; and by which its votaries are, at least a great part of them, chiefly governed. Take away the shame of neglecting to give, or refusing to accept a challenge; and few men would probably enter the field of single combat, except from motives of revenge.
On this argument I observe, that he, who alleges it, gives up the former arguments of course. If a man fights to avoid the shame of not fighting, he does not fight, to punish, repair, or prevent an injury. If the disgrace of not fighting, is his vindication for -fighting, then he is not vindicated by any of these considerations; nor by that of delicate honor, nor by any thing else. The real reason, and that on which alone he ultimately relies for his justification is, that if he does not fight, lae shall be disgraced ; and that this disgrace is attended with such misery, as to necessitate and to justify, his fighting.
In alleging this reason, as his justification, the duellist gives up, also, the inherent rectitude of duelling and acknowledges it to be in itself wrong. Otherwise he plainly could not need, nor appeal to, this reason, as his vindication. The misery of this disgrace, therefore, is according to his declaration, such as to render that right, which is inherently, and which, but -for this misery, would still be wrong, or sinful. This is indeed a strange opinion. God has, and it will not often be denied that he has, prohibited certain kinds of conduct to men. These he bas absolutely prohibited. According to this opinion, however, he places men by his providence in such circumstances of distress, that they may. lawfully disobey his prohi. bitions; because otherwise, they would endure intolerable misery. Has God, then published a law, and afterwards placed men in such circumstances, as to make their disobedience to it lawful? How unreasonably, according to this doctrine, have the scriptures charged Satan with sin. His misery, as exhibited by them, is certainly more intolerable than that, which is here professed, and of course will warrant him to pursue the several courses, in which he expects to lessen it. This is the present plea of the duellist; Satan might make it with double force.
Had the Apostles bethought themselves of this argument, they might, it would seem, have spared
themselves the scorn, the reproach, the hunger, the nakedness, the persecution, and the violent death, which they firmly encountered, rather than disobedience to God. Foolishly indeed must they have gone to the stake and the cross, when they might have found a quiet refuge from both in the mere recollec. tion, that the loss of reputation was such extreme distress, as to justify him who was exposed to this evil, in any measures of disobedience, necessary in his view to secure his escape.
What an exhibition is here given of the character of God ? He has published a law, which forbids homicide, a law universally acknowledged to be just and particularly acknowledged to be just in the very adoption of this argument. At the same time it is in this argument averred, that he often places his crea. tures in such circumstances, that they may lawfully disobey it. Of these circumstances every man is considered as being his own judge. If then any man judge that his circumstances will justify his disobe. dience, he may according to this argument lawfully disobey. If the argument were universally admitted, how evident is it, that every man would disobey every law of God, and yet be justified ?. Obedience would therefore vanish froin men, the law become a nullity, and God cease to govern and be unable to govern his creatures. This certainly would be a most ingenious method of annihilating that law, every jot and tittle of which he has declared shall stand though to fulfil it heaven and earth pass away.
On the same ground might every man, in equal dis. tress, seek the life of him who occasioned it however innocently'; and hazard his own. But poverty, disappointed ambition and a thousand other misfortunes, involve men in equal sufferings; as we continually see by the suicide which follows them. Of these misfortunes, generally, men, either intentionally, or unintentionally, are the causes. He, therefore who causes them, may, on this ground, be lawfully put to death
by the sufferer. What boundless havoc would this doctrine make of human life ; and how totally would it subvert every moral principle ?
How different was the conduct of St. Paul, in sus. ferings, inestimably greater than those here alleged ? Being reviled, says he, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; bèing defamed, we entreat. Thus he acted, when, as he declares in the same passage, he was hun, gry, and thirsty, and naked, and buffeted, and bad no certain dwelling place.
But what is this suffering? It is nothing but the an. guish of wounded price. Ought, then, this imperi. ous, deceitful, debasing passion to be gratified at the expense of murder, and suicide? Ought it to be grati fied at all? Is not most of the turpitude, shame, and misery, of man the effect of this passion only ? Angels by the indulgence of this passion lost heaven; and the parents of mankind ruined a world.
But a good name is by the scriptures themselves' asserted to be an invaluable possession. It is. But what is a good name in the view of the scriptures ? It is the result of wisdom and virtue; not of folly and sin ; a plant brought down from the heavens, which will fourish, and blossom, and bear fruit forever.
But is not the esteem of our fellow men an inestimable enjoyment ? And have not wise men, in every age of the world, given this as their opinion? The esteem let me ask of what men ? The esteem of banditti is cer. tainly of no value. The character of the men is, there. fore, that which determines the worth of their esteem. The esteem of wise and good men is undoubtedly a possession, of the.value alledged; particularly, because it is given only to wise and good conduct. If you covet esteem then, merit it by wisdom and virtue ; and you will of course gain the blessing. By folly and guilt you can gain no applause, but that of fools and sinners; while you assure yourself of the contempt and abhorrence of all others,