Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

pugbt to bę inficted. Resentment A law of honour ! Where is this law is a passion which excludes reasonable to be found ? In what senate was it enquiry; and hence it is that men are enacted ? By the consent of what peoselected as judges of injuries and pu. ple? Is it of man, or an emanation nisments, who cannot be supposed from the Deity ? In what age of the to act under any influence that in- world did it originate, and in what terferes with strict impartiality and books are we to find it? A short chajustice. Were not this the case, I racter of it is to be found in Paley, do not say that in all instances justice and I will transcribe it for the inwould be a mere farce, but I will say formation of men of honour, that they that the decision in almost every in may know what glorious provisions stance would be a crime. The life of this law has made for the welfare of man is too facred a thing to be the society. {port of resentment or anger.

• The law of honour is a system of Thus far, duelling has been con- rules constructed by people of fashion, sidered as a mode of punishment, or and calculated to facilitate their interreparation. That it is contrary to course with one another; and for no the laws of God and man, requires no other purpose. Consequently, nothing proof: it is only a matter of surprise is adverted to by the law of honour, that those who will allow that it is but what tends to incommode this inperfeally illegal, cannot prevail upon tercourle. Hence this law only prethemselves to act agreeably to a con- scribes and regulates the duties beviction of so much importance. They twee: equals ; omitting such as relate may, perhaps, think, that the laws of to the Supreme Being, as well as those man, being merely political regulations which we owe to our inferiors. for a numerous fociety, may be in cer- which reaion, profaneness, neglect of tain urgent cases dispensed with, and public worship or private devotion, that the present secret mode of con- cruelty to servants, rigorous treatducing a duel, while it answers its ment of tenants or other dependants, purpoles, preserves a respect for such want of charity to the poor, injuries regulations. But were we disposed to done to tradesmen by infolvency or grant this, we have got over only the delay of payment, with numberless Jeffer difficulty, and it would be waft- examples of the fame kind, are acing words to prove that a man has counted no breaches of honour; benot done a very wise or a very good cause a man is not a less agreeable action, who boalts that he has eluded companion for these vices, nor the the laws of his country, and despised worse to deal with, in those conceras those of his God.

which are usually transacted between But we shall be told, that neither one gentleman and another. Again, punishment nor separation are intend- the law of honour being constituted by ed by duels. • A law of honour,' men occupied in the pursuit of pleafays the excellent author above quoted, sure, and for the mutual conveniency

having annexed the imputation of of such men, will be found, as might cowardice to patience under an affront, be expected from the character and challenges are given and accepted, design of the law-makers, to be, in with no other delign than to prevent molt instances, favourable to the lior wipe off this suspicion ; without centious indulgence of the natural malice against the adversary, generally paisions. Thus it allows of fornica. without a wish to destroy him, or any tion, adultery, drunkenness, prodiconcern but to preserve the duellifts gality, duelling, and revenge in the own reputation and reception in the extreme ; and lays no stress upon

the world. Such is unquestionably the virtues oppolite to these.' language of duellifts, and such is the Such is the law of honour, if that defence they set up.

really deserves to be called a law,

which in fact is the capricious consent wrong? How comes it that telling a of a certain description of people, to lie, which may after all arise in a set alide the laws of God in their petty mistake, is to be punished with death, quarrels. It is a law (for I must still and all the crimes enumerated by ule the word) which naturalizes and Paley, are not considered worthy of legalizes the palfions of pride and re- punishment by the laws of honour ? Sentment, and gives a sanction to Is it possible to entertain the smallest murder, which takes from it all that degree of Christian faith or moral horror with which it would inspire a principle, and listen with patience to good mind. It is easy to perceive, such absurd pretences, as a law of that whoever wilhes to take away honour paramount to both? If a man another's life has only to provoke him commits all those crimes, is not bis to a duel, in which from superior kill reputation tarnished? Will not all he may secure the advantage. And who speak, call him a villain, and that duellifts, in general, are regu. will his reputation be restored, and all lated by this law, and no other, will the foulnesses of his character be done appear, if we consider the history of away, merely by his having the such duels as have come within our courage to fight a duel ? As well may knowledge for the last thirty years, we say that it is impossible to think ill who were the parties, and what the of a man who has a good constitution, subject of the dispute. It would ap- or to blame the character of him, who pear invidious to enter too minutely is insensible to Mame or forrow?" into this consideration, because there Let us now consider some of the may be a few cases, in which one of arguments which are ussd to defend the parties may have been impelled duelling, as a public good, for strange to give a challenge, in compliance with as it may seem, such have been offerthis law of honour, and contrary to ed. It is said that it has been of his own sense of duty. It remains for great use in the civilization of mansuch to consider, whether, to preserve kind, who in great societies, would a man's reputation, he has the right foon degenerate into cruel villains to take away the life of another? and treacherous llaves, were honour

To this the answer will be, no; to be removed from them. This is because this is forbidden by the laws an argument not less extraordinary of heaven and earth; but if the answer for the manner in which it is expressed, should be in the affirmative, it will than for its being totally contrary to only serve to introduce another ab- fact. Duelling, if encouraged, must furdity in the genius of duelling. in the very nature of things produce Taking away a man's life will not in that cruelty and treachery, which it is fact answer this purpose. It will not said to prevent. Take away

from men preserve the reputation of him who the refraints of divine and human takes it away. For example, if A. law, and you make them the worst of has committed a crime, and to screen barbarians, every man avenging his it, tells a lie ; he challenges B. who own quarrel, and in his own way. gives him the lie, and kills him. But But the assertion is totally contrary to all who know the affair know that A. historical evidence ; for no sooner did did tell a lie, and therefore all the men begin to be civilized, than they satisfaction he gets is, that he has enacted laws against duelling, and now the reputation of a murderer every remains of the ancient combats. added to that of a liar. Suppose that On the other hand, it does not answer B. was wrong, and that A. did not the purpose of civilization, for dueltell a lie, will the reputation of the ling is more common now than ever, latter be better preserved by fighting, and yet, I presume, it will not be er by proving that B. was in the said that we are returning to the days

of

of barbarity. If we are, I have little innocent exprellion into a deligned doubt that duelling mutt very con- affront. fiderably accelerate our progrets. The orly Englih author who pre

Another argument is, that if every, tends to write in fa our of duelling, illbred fellow might use what language concludes with the following words, he pleased, with impunity, and continue for which I should be glad to fubftioffensive, becaule entrenched fronte, tute others, if I could find any others fear of being called to an account for, as happ ly arranged to express my it, then all conversation would be sentiments. · The mo i cogent argufoiled. - It has also been said, and, ment that can be urged against moif I mittake not, Dr. Robertson, the dern honour, and its favourite prinhistorian, was of the fame opin on, ciple the spirit of duclling, is its being that duelling tended to produce good. lo diametrically oppolite to the forbreeding. But I am very ignorant giving meeknels of Christianity. The of the doctrine of causes and effects, goipel commands us to bear injuries if ever such a cause produced fuch an with a religned patience : honour tells etiect. Fear is the worst instrunientus, if we do not relent them in a bethat can be employed in correcting coming manner, we are unwortlıy of the intemperance of the human mind. ranking in society as men Revealed Fear may keep a man fiom p«rforin- religion commands the faithful to iug certain overt acts, but fcar never leave all revenge to God; ho our bids made a good man, and to reach a persons of feeling to trust their reman politeness

, under the penalty of venge to nobody but themselves, even death, would be nearly as racional as where the courts of law, by the into teach him dancing at the mouth of a terfering of justice, might do it for cannon. But here the fact will bear them. Chritianity, in express and us through. I appeal to any observer positive terms, forbids murder: hoof life and manners, whether good- nour rises up in barefaced opposition breeding has increased with the tre- to jultify it. Religion prohibits our

Visit our public shedding blood upon any account places of amusenent, and judge whe. whatsoever : punctilious honour comther good-breeding is more cultivated, mands, and eggs us on to fight even since box-lobby challenges became for trifles. Christianity is founded common, whether rudeneis and bruta- upon humility; honour is erected lity are repreffed by the mutual threats upon pride.' of profigates, or men of honour, as The length to which this letter has they affect to be called. With respect already extended, obliges me to postto ill-bred felloks spoiling conversa- pone the farther consideration of the tion, it is an occurrence that cannot subject to another occasion, when it happen very often. The company of will be proper to make some allowill-bred fellows is seldom courted; ance for the cruel neceffity imposed whereas there is no more effectual way upon that useful body of men, the ofļo spoil conversation, and to repress ficers of the army and navy. This the brilliancy of wit and genius, than necesity it is which forms 'the only to introduce that pettith humour, that excuse that can be made for duelling ; minute acrention to harmless words, how far it is a fufficient one, will be which occasions a jealous watchful- considered hereafter, pels, and a disposition to turn every

Eikenos. 3

quiency of duels.

GLEAN

G L E A N I N G S.

SPARSA COLLEGI.

A Good author Bould have the Ayle

When a man is disposed to reveal courage of a captain, th: a secret, and expect that it shall be integrity of a dying man, and fo much kept, he fould first enquire whether fenfe and ingenuity, as to impose no. he can keep it himtelf. This is good thing, either weak or needless, on the advice, perhaps a little in the Irish world.

way. The best of authors are not without All the wisdom in the world will their faults, and if they were, the do little, while a man wants presence world would not entertain them as of mind. He cannot feace well that they deserve. Perfection is often is not on his guard. Archimedes lol called for, but nobody would bear it. his life, by being too busy to give an The only perfect man that ever ap- answer. peared in the world was crucified. Notwithstanding the difference of

The man whole book is filled with estate and quality among men, there quotations, may be said to creep along is such a gencral nixture of good and the shore of authors, as if he were evil, that, in the main, happiness is afraid to trust himself to the free pretty equally distributed in the world. compass of reasoning: Oihers defend The rich are as often unhappy as the such authors by a different allusion, poor, as repletion is more dangerous and ask whether honey is the worse than appetite. for being gathered from many flow It is wonderful how fond we are of ers?

repeating a scrap of Latin, in preferA few choice books make the best ence to the lame sentiment in our own library: a multitude will confound us, language equally weil expressed. Both whereas a moderate quantity will assist the tenie and words of Omnia vincit and help us.

Masters of

great

libra. umor (Love conquers all) are worthy ries are too commonly like book- only of a school.boy, and yet how sellers, acquainted with little else than often repeated, with an affictation of the titles.

deep willom! He who reads books by extras, Reserge, speaking botanically, may may be laid to read by deputy. Much be termed wild juilice, and ought to depends on the latter, whether he be rooted out, as choaking up the reads to any purpose.

true plant. A first wrong does but Satire is the o ly kind of wit, for offend the law, but revenge puts the which we have fcripture authority and law out of office. Surely, when goexample, in the case of Elijati riủi- vernient is once established, revenge culing the false gods of Ahab.

belongs only to the law. He that always praises me, is un For more than a century, has Bil. doubtedly a flatterer ; but he that lingfgate buen proverbial for the someti.nes praises, and fuinetimes re- coarieness of its language. Whence proves me, is probably my friend, is this? What connexion is there beand speaks his mind. Did we noi tween freh fish, and foul words? fiatter ourselves, others would do us Why should the vending of that useno hurt.

ful commodity, and elegant luxury, Men are too apt to promise accord- prompt to oaths, execrations, and ing to their hopes, and perform ac- every corruption of language, more cording to their fears.

than any other? And to think that Secrecy has all the prudence, and the parties concerned are of the fais none of the vices either of fimulation, sex- fye! or dillimulation,

Reason has not more admirers thau

there

there are hypocrites. Hypocrites ad An honest haughtiness of mind, mire only the profits of wisdom, and which (corns to stoop below the digapprove juit to much of her, as is nity of human nature, is the spring agreeable and serviceable to their of honest aud honourable undertakends.

ings; it is what the old moralifts Man is not more superior to a meant by a reverence for ourselves ; brute, than one man is to another by rewards and punishments being only the mere force of wisdom. Wisdom the crutches which men have found is the sole deltroyer of equality, the out to support virtue, where this nofountain of honour, and the only ble icmper of mind is wanting. mark by which one man, for ten mi Self-love makes us crave after nutes together, can be known from pleasures, and look upon all calamities another.

as wrongs done to us. Hence murWere men always skilful, they murings, and impotence of mind. We would never use craft or treachery. feel our ill fortune in proportion to That men are so cunning, arises from our self-love, entirely overlooking the the littleness of their minds, which, intereits of others, and the general if it can conceal itself in one place, good. quickly d'scovers itself in another. The fame pride which makes us

Cunning men, like jugglers, are despise the poor, makes us too fubonly versed in two or three little missive to the wealthy. It is founded tricks, while wisdom excels in the upon the over-valuation of riches. A whole circle of action.

true value of merit makes us despise The cunning man and the wise man the vicious and highly esteem the differ not only in point of honeily, virtuous. but ability. He that can pack the He who is vexed at a reproach, cards, does not always play well. may be assured that he would be very

I have a right to hold my tongue, proud, if commended. and to be filent at all times; but if I We ought not to trust the judgment speak to another, I have no right to of others concerning ourselves ; for make him answer me just as I please. most people who judge a man, take

To reform others perfectly, is as very little trouble in examining him, impossible, as vain. What have we and depend entirely on outward apto do then, but to despite all little pearances. Few physicians will precapricious humours, and to amend tend to know exactly a patient's case, ourselves?

merely by looking at him. Meekness needs no praise; meek One opinion on hypocrisy, is, that ness is the moral paradise ; the only the hypocrite hurts nobody but himcement to the faults and errors of hu- self; the libertine, the whole society. manity. What can we do without Hypocrisy a more modest way of bearing with one another ?

finning ; it is a sort of homage paid Pious frauds are the oily pious to virtue. Another opinion is, that things forbidden in fcripture, which the hypocrite, by palling for what he will not let us hold the truth in un- is not, deceives many; the libertine righteousness. We may not do ill appearing in his proper colours, hurts that good may come of it. If my society less. I would lean to the purse be sufficient to relieve the wants former of these opinions ; all the deof a highwayman, has he a right to ceptions of hypocrify can hurt a man's take it from me? And yet relieving pocket only; the practices of the li. wants is a good allion.

bertine are infectious, and render soAuthors ought nor to regard mere ciety immoral. unqualified abuse. We cannot say of Good and bad times, are only moa garrisoned town, that it is taken, deft expressions for the conduct of merely because the enemy have thrown good and bad men in public employfilth upon the walls.

ments.

« AnteriorContinuar »