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gang, then wars will cease. Change the cause and the effect is changed.
Public opinion acts in two ways. It is spontaneous and voluntary, or it is restricted and enforced by compact and agreement.“ The law is the expression of the general will."
The spontaneous effort of public opinion always precedes- and is the cause of-compact or agreement, of which it sometimes takes the place as custom takes the place of law. Thus public opinion first threw disgrace on the slave trade, and when it had induced some nations to prohibit the custom, it then took the form of internal or national law; but when those nations made treatise, by which other nations agreed to prohibit the trade, then public opinion acted by international law and mutual compact of nations. I shall, in this number consider spontaneous opinion, and leave the other until a future opportunity.
Spontaneous opinion has abolished, partially or totally, many of those customs, which have taken hold on the human heart. It has abolished popery, in many countries, and some of its most disgusting featuressuch as the Inquisition and sale of indulgencies to commit crimes in all. It has totally abolished the trial by ordeal, in all countries, and the trial by battle is but faintly shadowed forth by the modern duel, in which the disgrace lies, not in the want of virtue, but the excess of it-not in the crime but in the accusation. Public opinion has abolished the custom of burning a man's body for the good of his soul-a practice which has disgraced the protestant as well as the catholic church. If then public opinion can unclasp the clutch of avarice and let the oppressed go free-if it can overcome our religious prejudices, which we imbibe in the cradle and scarcely quit in the coffin, and cause us to receive into Christian communion those whom our fathers would have consigned to the stake-what can it not do ?
But public opinion has a curb on that master passion of the human heart, which, more than all others, has been a cause of warthe love of glory. Avarice may escape her ; superstition may despise her ; but proud ambition fears and adores the “ Queen of the world ;" lives on her smiles and expires at her frown. As nineteen twentieths of the wars, which have desolated the world, have been undertaken hy their leaders, for the purpose of courting the smiles of public opinion, let that smile be withheld, and nineteen twentieths of wars will cease: let it be converted into a frown, and the remainder will cease.
The only objection that is brought against this argument, is, that, as there are thieves and robbers in a community of individuals, who disregard public opinion, so there is in a community of nations. This is but a poor comparison and a worse argument. Its fallacy is easily detected.
In the first place, it supposes, that a whole nation, or at least a majority of a nation, may be thieves and robbers regardless of public opinion, and that all the vices which are predicable of an individual, are also predicable of a nation.
But such a nation could not exist. At least, we are sure, that no such nation does exist in christendom; and we do not expect to extend our principles beyond the bounds of
the Christian religion; as it is on the operation of the principles of our holy religion, that we chiefly rest our hopes. And when Christians shall cease to destroy each other, and shall unite all their energies in the propagation of the gospel of peace, the whole world will soon be converted, and, in the mean time, Christian nations will enjoy the blessings of peace among themselves.
In the second place, the objection supposes, that the thief and the robber are regarddess of public opinion. This is not the case. They dread public opinion, and endeavour to escape from her scorching gaze. They pursue their occupations in the dark, silently and secretly. A nation cannot do that. All its deeds must be public--all must be registered on the page of history. Let the characier and conduct of every individual be as public, and as well known, as the conduct of nations, and bolts and bars would be useless. Your silver spoons would rest quietly in their places; and you might securely go to sleep with your doors open. But let public opinion change, let theft and robbery be as honourable among individuals as it was once at
Sparta--and as it is now among nations ; let the thief strut about the place of public resort, like a conqueror, with one of your spoons in his hat, by way of cockade, and another in his button-hole like an order of knighthood ; let him be the object of emulation among the gentlemen, and of admiration among the ladies, as is now the case, with robbers on a large scale, and all your bolts and bars will not secure you hy night, nor all the armour you can wear, by day.
In the third place, the objection supposes, that war is undertaken chiefly for the purpose of gain. This is not the case; for, all wars cost more than they come to, and frequently beggar the conqueror, and always load a nation with debt. Wars are now chiefly undertaken for glory, and national honour, and to such the objection does not apply.
All therefore that is necessary to bring about a state of permanent and universal peace among Christian nations, is that public opinion, should stigmatize the nation or ruler, that wages a wanton and unjust war, and that it imperiously demand, that any