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been the result had not this persecuted man challenged his assailant ? He would be driven from the ranks of fashion as a polluted man and a coward! Men and women-aye, we say it with the deepest regret--women, too, look coldly and with averted eyes on the man who refuses to fight. Nay, let us go further and assert that it is mainly attributable to women that the odious and unlawful practice of duelling is allowed to exist. Their influence is great—what will not a woman's influence accomplish?--and if they would but pledge themselves if they would but enter into a compact never to admit into their society any one who should henceforth be guilty of striking a blow, we should soon hear of the extinction of that offence; and consequently one great source of duels would be destroyed. May we not, therefore, appeal to women for their assistance in eradicating the evil. Surely they who suffer so keenly when a husband, or brother, or son falls a victim to this barbarous practice, should be the first to rise up and discountenance itfor it is woman's influence which in so many cases gives impulse to public opinion.
A stop should at once be put to duelling; it is more within the control of the laws than war-it comes home immediately to our bosoms, and it is enacted before our eyes. But while we so strongly urge this point, let us for a moment turn our attention to those with whom duelling is most prevalent-let us take a view of those duels which are so common in the army, and particularly in the navy. Much as we execrate the practice, yet in extenuation we should remember, that the education we give to the young men of these professions, particularly fits them for belligerent acts. The crime, therefore, should not be punished with the greatest severity in the persons of the very young men of the army and navy. We must recollect, too, that it is our policy to train them to think lightly of life, for he that is the most fearless, the most careless of his own life, and the most prodigal in the waste of blood on the field of battle, is sure of being advanced in rank and crowned with honours.
The education that they receive blunts their sensibilities, and they become regardless of this unnatural expenditure life. All their tender feelings are paralysed, and their notions of right and wrong perverted. Their religion tells them that blood must not be shed, and their education tells them that human laws permit it. In the progress of this paradox a new passion is generated ; a morbid excitement has grown out of this contrary doctrine. This new principle is a fiery irritability-a nervous sensibility to whatever touches the honour and safety of their country, their personal friends, or themselves. They enter into a compact--and what a compact it is, cemented by such trainings, by such excitements—to stand or fall together! Their daily instructions breathe of vengeance and conquest, and their best acquisition is an insensibility to the value of life.
What a determined, united corps are the young men who are educated under military and naval discipline. The least affront offered to their country or personal friends is sufficient ground of quarrel, and each individual of this strongly cemented body feels himself called upon to resent the affront. If we educate and pay young men for the purpose of defending us from the insults of our enemies, we should not be surprised if they sometimes—without pay--combat with the enemies of their private friends, or sometimes endeavour to redress their own wrongs.
Duelling will never be viewed with abhorrence by the young, nor will it ever cease, so long as the youth of the country are instructed in the art of war-so long as women receive the duellist with flattering distinction; and so long as the civil law holds out such light penalties to those who injure the person and character of an innocent man.
It is abominable that if we wish to stand well in civilised society we must take our chance of life, either from the bullet of our enemy or from the gallows-that we must either submit to this, or endure the contempt and neglect of the community! Many a sensitive person prefers to take the chance of being shot, hung, or banished, than lose caste and be branded for ever as a coward. Let women look to this. Again we say, that if they would but exclude from their notice such persons as shall in future strike another, and look with indifference on a challenger, duels would be more rare. They are fond of associating themselves together for different benevolent and praiseworthy schemes, let them unite in this one, and receive the thanks of the whole Christian world.
Again—it is weak and inhuman, nay monstrous, to say, as we have sometimes heard it said, “if officers will quarrel among themselves let them fight it out if they choose, but let them not be allowed to challenge a citizen.” As if the life of an army or a navy officer were not as precious in the eye of the law as that of a citizen. If it be a crime to send a challenge, then it is as criminal in the one case as in the other. Are we to look upon military and naval men as blood-hounds kept only for the purpose of fighting when it suits our pleasure ?
The practice of duelling has always prevailed in our navy to great extent, and with very little reproof or punishment-if any-from the civil authorities. This neglect arises from two causes: one is that many of the duels take place in the Mediterranean, or far in the interior of the country-and the other cause is that it is not thought politic to reprimand or
punish the young and thoughtless, when the crime is constantly committed by older men.
Although we earnestly desire the extinction of duelling, and hope ere long to see public attention directed to the subject, yet we do not think it wise or humave to endeavour at reform by making examples of the very young in offence-those who have hitherto never been taught to consider duelling as an infringement of the laws. That which is most binding on their young minds is the law called the code of honour, and it is that which regulates their conduct. All those who enter the army and navy know full well, that if they receive a kick or a blow, or have their word called in question, they must resent it by a challenge. If they do not this, they are stigmatized as cowards.
young officer is insulted he must fight or quit the service, otherwise he will be held in utter contempt by his brother officers.
It is therefore folly to begin the reformation with those who cannot be made to consider duelling as a crime, for their education and the example of their elders teach them contrary doctrines. The reform should be attempted when there is no excitement of the kind; and it should begin with the female sex. Women should avow it to be their determination not to receive into their society-and our remarks only apply to the future, let by-gones be by-gones—any one who cowardly strikes the first blow, or who has been proved guilty of defamation. Young men would think twice before they offended in this way; and if dismission from female society were to be the consequence of folly or malice, every one would be upon his guard.
But if it be deemed necessary to be still more rigorous, and in our earnest zeal we should wish to make an example of the very first that transgressed, let us hope that the offender may be one of mature years and high standing, for such too frequently are culpable in this way. Do not let us pass over his delinquencies and single out a very young man, when an older one has passed without punishment. By what right can the laws touch more recent cases, when those of long standing have not been disturbed ? We consider that the older a man is the more heinous is the offence, and the prompter should be his punishment.
All Christians must ardently wish for the extinction of duelling—this twin brother of war-yet there is not one that would not consider it as cowardly and cruel, if, under existing circumstances, the youngest culprit should be selected, when one of mature years had committed the offence at the same time. A sensible mian, if called upon to decide in a case of this kind, would take into consideration that the young offender could
only be accused of doing what nen of the highest military and naval standing had frequently done with impunity.
What father would punish his youngest son with dire severity for an offence which his eldest brother had often coinmitted without a reprimand—and whose example had been the cause of the younger one's errors: nay, when he, the father, in open day, and with the knowledge of his children and friends, had been guilty of the same crimes and misdemeanours ! Would it not be monstrous ? It is like the old lettres de cachet of France, where a father, or any head of a family, could confine a son or relative at pleasure, he, the father or relative, at the same time being both licentious and profligate.
We therefore stipulate, if no other plan present itself for the suppression of duelling than that of death on the gallows, as for murder in the first degree, not to select the young and friendless for examples. We can have better hope of the efficacy of punishment if we seize on those who are of high standing as to age and character. Surely crime is greater as the rank and power of the culprit are greater; and age, instead of extenuating an unlawful act, does but render it the more conspicuous and inexcusable.
It is a good feature in our law that a criminal can be brought to justice whenever the community demands it. The crime is not washed away because our sensibilities have become blunted, or our friendships have screened the offender. A man is therefore always liable to be brought up for punishment, let the crime be of what date it may. The commonwealth does not suffer a criminal to escape because partialities or party spirit have stepped in between him and the laws, or because he is at the head of some institution and cannot be spared. It is only when we hold up men of age and responsibilities as examples that we can hope to make a salutary impression on the young.
What has hitherto been the state of the case with regard to those duels which have occurred in the navy? If a young officer were either wounded or had wounded his antagonist, we never heard of his being dismissed the service. Many of them were never known to receive a reprimand. On the contrary, the young duellist was called a fine spirited fellow by his brother officers; and on shore he was received with increased respect, and with very flattering attention. Yet the intent to kill was the same as if the pistol shot had proved fatal; the laws, therefore, ought to have punished him, provided those who set him the example had been punished also.
But as society has arranged matters, the laws had to wink at the crime in the younger officer, because, with a servile spirit, they had failed to call the older to account for the same
crime. Many a young man risks his own life, and likewise that of his adversary, through the mere force of pernicious example in his elders. He perceives, that so far from duelling being a preventive to his rise in the service, or even in civil affairs, that the eye of the nation is upon him, and the bravery of the act will be an additional motive for his advancement in rank. Almost every man, particularly those of mature age and character, feels his consequence increased on giving or accepting a challenge. So long as young officers see this, they can have no scruples about duelling. They certainly could never apprehend expulsion from the service, when so many older officers had slain men in duels and had never been brought to justice.
He who has it in his power to deal the first blow, or, rather, who has the power to punish, should himself be immaculatehe should recollect whether the young and inexperienced had not been led to the offence by his own disregard of the laws. He should have led a life innocent of the crime for which the young man before him stands arraigned. Those who are unacquainted with naval and military rules and discipline, and of the education which those who enter these services receive, will scarcely understand how degrading, how blasting in its effects, is a dismissal from the profession. The young man who has been suddenly disgraced for duelling, becomes amenable to the civil laws, and to elude those laws he has to skulk about the world an uncared-for vagabond. Even if he escape from justice he must perish, for it is very difficult to turn his attention to any other mode of getting bread. All these difficulties he would deserve to encounter, were the punishment to fall on those who are of high rank and had committed similar crimes ; as this is not the case, the young cannot, with any degree of justice, be punished.
Happy would it be if a young man, when thus degraded from his profession, had energy and self-respect enough to sustain him. With but feeble notions of the rights of the civil community, and of his own relation to these rights, how can he hope to escape utter destruction ? As to the supposition that he perfectly understands the equity of his punishment—as to making him believe that he has acted criminally in fighting a duelkilled or wounded one man-how can he comprehend it, when he sees an old man standing high in office who has committed a similar offence—how can he think it a crime to kill one man in defence of his friend's honour, when he has already killed a dozen men on the quarter deck, or on the field of battle, in defence of his country's honour ! Did he not receive a sword and the thanks of his country for his bravery, as it is termed, on the bloody plain, where he had with his own hand slain a number