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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 fighting. 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 provocations 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 preyent, 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 reparation, 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 either 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. lu what does the reputation conferred by it, consist ?
The duellist is a bradé mani. 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 resolutely, 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 immolation of a human victim, or the murder of his fellow men, is justified by public opinion, is not only devoid of sound principles, but the subject of miserable cowardice. It is a mockery of language, and an affront 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 pe culiar bonor. On what is this claim founded? Are
they more sincere, just, kind, peaceable, generous, and reasonable than other men? These are the ingredients of an honorable character. They themselves cannot deny it. That some men who have fought duels, 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 folly and sin, as well as of other follies and other sins. But these men derived all their worth from other sources; aud 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 undoubtedly claim the wreath due to superior intellect.
How generally are duellists, on the contrary, haughty, overbearing, quarrelsome, passionate and abusive; troublesome neighbours, uncomfortable friends, and disturbers of the common happiness? Their pretensions to honor and delicacy, are usually méré pretensions; a deplorable egotism of character, which precludes them from all enjoyment, and prevents those around them from possessing quiet, and comfort, unless every thing is conformed to their vain and capricious demands.
There is neither delicacy, nor honor, in giving, or taking, affronts easily, and suddenly; nor in justifying 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 constituted? Are they wise and good men? Can one wise and good man, unqestionably wise and good, be 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 country certainly, the public voice is wholly against the practice. Some persons who have fought duels, have unqestionably 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 private commendation. 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 infamy? 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.