Imatges de pÓgina

the heart of an affectionate wife. Faithless friendship may destroy, at once, the life of a friend. Ungrateful subjects have shortened the life of an affectionate Ruler by their ingratitude merely. Rulers have, probably, in millions of instances, put their subjects to death, without any immediate violence, by the gradual, but sure, operations of a comprehensive and hard-handed oppression.

From these observations it is evident, that Murder in the proper sense, is begun in unkindness: and that unkindness is begun in the early and unrestrained indulgence of human passions. This indulgence, therefore, Parents, and all other Guardians of children, are bound faithfully to restrain, from the beginning. The first tendencies towards cruelty, the first evidences of an unfeeling disposition, should be repressed, discouraged, and, as far as may be, destroyed. Tenderness, on the contrary, a spirit of general benevolence, and an active, affectionate beneficence to others, should be cultivated in every child with care, sedulousness, and constancy, resembling that, with which an impassioned florist watches, nurses, and cherishes, a choice flower; procured with great expense from a distant climate; his own favourite possession; pre-eminent for its fragrance and beauty; and regarded by him as the pride, and boast, of the country, in which he lives.



EXODUS XX. 13.-Thou shalt not kill..

IN the preceding discourse, from these words, I proposed to point out,

1. Those instances, in which life may be lawfully taken away, agreeably to Scriptural exceptions under this law;

II. Some of those instances, in which life is destroyed in contra

diction to this law.

The first of these heads I discussed at that time; and made several observations under the Second. The remaining subjects, included in this division, are Duelling, Suicide, and Drunkenness. The first of these, viz. Duelling, shall be the topic of immediate investigation.

That Duelling is a violation of the command in the text is evident,

1. From the words of the precept itself;

Thou shalt not kill.

I have already observed, that these words contain a command entirely absolute, without either condition, or exception. I also observed, that, as this is a command of God, man cannot, without impious presumption, attempt to limit it; and that no other exceptions, therefore, can be made to it, beside those which God Himself has made. But God has made no exception, which the most ingenious mind can so construe, as to render it, even in the most remote degree, favourable to Duelling. As this assertion will neither be denied nor doubted; it will only be necessary to add, that this precept stands in full force against Duelling; and that every Duel is a gross violation of its whole authority.

Nor is this all. Duelling is a violation of this precept, of the very worst kind; superior in its guilt to most other crimes of the same nature, and inferior to none. For,

2. A Duel is always the result of a design to take away human


I say always. It is not, however, my intention to deny, that there may be exceptions to this general declaration. But these are probably as few, as to any general rule concerning human conduct. The challenge originally contains a proposition to kill, or to be killed. It is accepted with an expectation of killing, or of being killed. Each of the combatants, also, takes his aim at the seat of life, and intends to destroy his antagonist, if he can. No

pretence, therefore, is more unfounded, than that duellists do not design to kill each other.

3. Duelling always involves Efforts to destroy life.

The weapons, used in it, are always the proper instruments of 'death; and they are used with the utmost skill, and care, which the parties possess, for the direct purpose of producing this dreadful catastrophe.

4. Men are put to death in Duels with more Deliberation, than in almost any other case whatever.

The Challenger has always ample opportunity to deliberate, before he gives the Challenge. This opportunity, also, it is reasonably supposed, he extends as far as he pleases; both because the case is of the utmost importance to himself, and because he manages it according to his own choice. To him it is entirely optional, whether he will fight at all; and, when he has determined this point, at what time he shall give the challenge. Whatever time, therefore, he chooses to take for consideration, he actually takes; and this he himself will not deny to be a sufficient time. During this period also, the subject, being of the highest importance, and necessarily making the strongest impressions, must be often, if not always, in his mind; must therefore be viewed in its various lights; and must receive all the examination which such a mind is capable of giving to subjects of the highest consequence. Of course, a duel is invariably the result, if it be not the Challenger's own fault, of the most ample deliberation. It must be his own fault also, if this deliberation be not cool and thorough. All these observations, it is to be remembered, are applicable, with the same force, to the person challenged.

Duelling is, probably, always perpetrated with a spirit of Revenge. I say probably always. For that this is usually the fact, no sober man can doubt for a moment. To me it seems inconceivable, that any man, whatever may have been his feelings in the earlier parts of this transaction, should go into the field and employ himself in the several measures, adopted by duellists for the purpose of taking away each other's lives; and not be under the influence of predominating passions. These passions can be no other than Hatred and Revenge. If we trace this subject with even a moderate degree of attention, from its commencement to its close; it will, I think, be impossible for us to adopt any other opinion. The Challenger receives, or at least believes himself to have received, an injury, (of what kind is a matter of perfect indifference) sufficiently great to demand of him the exposure of his own life to probable destruction; and the death, so far as he is able to compass it, of the injurer. Now let me ask, and let every sober man answer the question, whether an injury, felt to be of this magnitude, was ever regarded, or can possibly be regarded, by such men, as duellists always are, without strong feelings of wrath and revenge? Duellists, every one knows, are men pre-eminently

proud, haughty, insolent, and proverbially irritable; jealous to an extreme of what they call their own rights; disdaining to have them determined, as those of other men are, by tribunals of justice. They regard the forgiveness of injuries, and all the peaceful and gentle virtues of man, with supreme contempt; and claim to themselves, in opposition to the laws of God and their country, the adjudication of their own disputes, and the retribution of their own injuries. What should hinder a man of this character from indulging, or executing, revenge in any case: especially in a case of this importance? The rectitude of revenge is a prime principle of his creed: a principle, to which he adheres with such tenacity, and uniformity, as in a better cause, would do honour to the most exemplary Christian. He does not come to the consideration of this subject with doubts concerning the rectitude, or a conviction of the sinfulness, of revenge; but with a determination, long since established, and never called in question, that it is right: a determination, to which he gives the extensive and commanding influence of a Maxim. From the indulgence, and the execution, of revenge, he is restrained, therefore, by no moral consideration whatever. On the contrary, it is sanctioned by the very first principles of his Morality. Of course, it becomes his boast; and is regarded by him as a part of his moral worth; as the ornament, and glory, of his character. It is evident, then, that there is nothing to hinder him from the indulgence of this passion in any case; especially in a case, to which he attaches this high importance.

Should it be said, that the injury in question is not considered as being of such magnitude; but that the laws, prescribed by duellists to themselves, compel a man of honour to resent injuries, which they themselves esteem small, in this manner: I answer; that the injury, how insignificant soever it may be in reality, is still such in the estimation of duellists, as to subject the challenger, unavoidably, to this exposure, and to all the evils, by which it is followed. In this view only it is regarded by him; and all the resentment, all the feelings of revenge, naturally flowing from an injury of this magnitude, will be awakened in his breast.

In the mind of the Challenged the same emotions will be roused, of course, by the challenge itself. The challenge, in his view, infers the same obligation on his part to expose his own life; and either to lose it, or destroy that of his antagonist. Against his antagonist, therefore, all that hostility will be excited in his mind, which is the natural result of such an injury. Now, let me ask any man of common candour, whether it is credible, that in two men, thus circumstanced, strong feelings of revenge will not of course be kindled? They are men, not only wrathful and revengeful in their nature, but glorying in the indulgence of wrath and revenge. They openly declare the exercise of these passions, in this extreme manner, to be right, honourable to themselves, and ornamental to the human character. For this very exercise of

these passions they esteem themselves superior to other men ; style themselves "brave," "men of honour," and "gentlemen ;" and name others" cowards," "scoundrels," and "rascals." Is it possible, that, habitually entertaining these opinions, and habitually indulging these passions, they should not exercise them, peculiarly, on such an occasion?

I well know, that duellists profess themselves to be free from these passions in cases of this kind; and declare, that they proceed to these horrible rencounters with entire coolness and good nature. These professions, however, have not the most distant claim to credit. All men, who feel themselves exposed to the censures of mankind, endeavour to rebut them in the best manner in their power. Fair professions are the most obvious means of rebutting them. In the same manner the bully conceals his cowardice, and the hypocrite his irreligion; and both have as good claims to be believed, as the duellist. Cool, indeed, he may be in some instances; that is, not agitated by fear: but every thing in his situation, and in his conduct, proves, that he is angry, and revengeful.

6. Duellists take the utmost pains to prepare themselves for this dreadful employment.



In places, where duelling is generally practised, it has become a regular employment; and may be fairly considered as a branch of the regular education of children and youths, to acquire skill and adroitness in the art of destroying human life by this species of violence. Children, at a very early period, employ themselves daily, and yearly, through long periods of time, in shooting with pistols; and acquire skill by this practice, just as penmanship is acquired; with as much coolness, and with as much success. Men also, who have not received this education in early life, employ the sober years of maturer age in learning the same horrid art. To excel in it, is regarded by the adept himself, and his fellows, as an attainment of high distinction. To be able to split a ball upon the edge of a knife, or extinguish a candle, with a pistol ball, at the distance of the utmost goal of duelling, is, in the view of these men, to have arrived at glory, not a little resembling that of Tu vrenne, or Marlborough.


In all this conduct is seen, with the slightest glance, a deliberate design, a cold-blooded system, of taking away the life of man with the hand of violence: a design, a system, begun in childhood, and cherished, cultivated, and perfected, through every succeeding period. What dupe of credulity can be so absolutely blind to the whole nature of evidence, as not to see, in this conduct, designs equally hostile against human life, more deliberate, and certainly not less guilty, than those of the professed assassin? 7. The Duellist takes away the life of his neighbour without a



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