« VorigeDoorgaan »
The profits of this work are bestowed upon the Mariners'
Church in the town of Douglas, Isle of Man.
It was hoped by many, and believed by some few sensible men, that the practice of Duelling was very fast decreasing in this favoured country. Recent events, however, have shown that, notwithstanding the great spread of religious feeling in these realms, much yet remains to be done before this national sin can effectually be eradicated. Within a short period we have seen three successive prime ministers of Great Britain, at times of great political excitement and national ferment, engaging in affairs of honour; one fighting a duel, and the other two taking the steps that usually lead to it. We have seen a judge (holding the appointment of one at least, though not in immediate exercise of the duties,). taking away the life of a young physician in extensive practice. We have seen the highest civic magistrate in a great city, going through the solemn mockery of putting off the duties, together with his robes of office, and breaking the peace, which it was his sworn duty to protect. We have seen a young man, the only child of his parents, involved in an affair of honour, for a tumbler of whiskey punch, and his parents childless the fol.. lowing morning. We have seen a son fighting a duel on his father's account, and that duel accompanied by circumstances so extraordinary, that had it proved fatal, it is most likely it would have cost him his life upon the scaffold. Who would have envied the father who survived him?
These few instances, which I have selected out of a multitude of others, are sufficient to show the necessity for further exertions to abolish or lessen the extent of the crime.
Amongst other means, I conceive that one most essential step to be taken is, to expose the real nature of Duelling and its consequences, by circulating some publication sufficiently long to embrace the leading features of the subject, and yet concise enough not to weary the attention of those for whose benefit it is intended, lest they should throw down the book
in disgust, and refuse to read it. I cannot find, after diligent inquiry, that there is any small work in print, exclusively upon the matter in question ; and, therefore, in the absence of any other of the kind, I have written this little book.* One fact it may be well to mention. In order to judge of its possible effect before publication, I gave the manuscript to a few friends to read; a curious coincidence which arose from this was more encouraging than the favourable opinions of all my other friends. A military man of rank, of the finest feeling and noblest sense of honour, but who previously defended the practice of duelling, returned me my manuscript, and said, “ If you print your book, and I should ever get into a scrape of the kind, I shall send it to my opponent, and tell him he must refute all that you have said before I can possibly think of meeting him.” Another friend, who had had no communication whatever with the first, made me very nearly the same assurance.
Now this is precisely one of the effects I should like to produce. I wish that every man, who
. Since the publication of the first edition of this book a friend procured me a copy of a work upon Duelling, by Joseph Hamilton, Esq.
from principle would refuse to fight a duel, had the means of saying,—“Sir, in this book are my reasons for my conduct; may they have the same effect upon you that they have had upon me!" These two encouraging practical instances of the benefits that might result from the circulation of some such work, helped to determine me to print this. I firmly believe that many a man would refuse to fight a duel, if he was ready furnished with a concise body of sound reasons to meet the false ones set up by the world. It is with this view I put forth my little work, depending for its success upon the blessing of Him who alone can govern the unruly wills of men ; and that my christian friends may have an additional stimulus to aid in the circulation of it, I have to apprise them, that the profits of this and subsequent editions are made over to the Rev. Thomas Howard, and the Rev. William Carpenter, and their successors in the ministry of the two churches of St. George and St. Barnabas, in the town of Douglas, in the Isle of Man, as a small contribution in aid of a plan now on foot, for having the gospel preached to my poor benighted brother-seamen in that port.