Page images
PDF
EPUB

things are, on a smaller scale, and it is only necessary to enlarge the scale, and the purpose is effected.

It is time now to notice some objections, but as I have already extended my

remarks beyond my usual limits, I must defer the consideration of them, together with some remarks on the Holy Alliance, and the Congress of Panama, until my next number.

NO. 36.

OBJECTIONS TO THE

SCHEME OF INTER-NA

TIONAL LAW, AS A REMEDY FOR WAR, CON

SIDRED.

I promised, in my last, to consider some objections to the “ Great Scheme," as to its practicability or utility. As to its practicability, I answer, that whatsoever depends on human volition, is practicable--what has been done may be done again-what now exists on a small scale, may hereafter exist on a larger one. As to its utility, I refer to

what has been, in the ancient leagues, and what is in the leagues which do exist. What would Switzerland do without such a league? What should we do without our confederation ? What will the states of South America do if the Congress of Panama does not go into operation ? War would take the place of peace.

I cannot therefore imagine, that any one can seriously object to such a scheme, unless he thinks that war is preferable to peace, but the number of such is so small, and they are so unreasonable, that it is not worth while to notice them. Many will doubt the practicability,--but if the scheme cannot at present be carried to all its desired extent, it is very certain, that it is in successful operation on a smaller scale, viz. in Switzerland, and even our own confederation has somewhat of a similar foundation ; for our States are all independent of each other, and yet linked together much more closely than it would be necessary for Christian nations to be, in order to secure permanent and universal peace. Though bound together by one constitution, yet there is a great diversity in the constitą;

tions of the several states, for some states tolerate slavery, while others do not; in some, the qualifications of a voter are raised so high, that the form of government approaches to an oligarchy, while in others, the equality of all classes of citizens, brings them nearer to a pure democracy. Now, as the toleration of slavery, and the different qualifications for suffrages do not prevent our close union, certainly the difference in forms of government, among Christian nations, would not prevent a coalition, barely for certain purposes. It did not prevent the council of the Amphictyons, in which kingdoms and republics were mixed. It does not prevent the Swiss confederation, in which aristocracies and democracies are mixed. Such a confederation would not affect the form of government of any state, or any of their internal affairs, but only the concerns of a foreign and external character.

The greatest objection to the Great Scheme, and indeed the only one, lies in the danger to which it might expose the liberty of the citizen and subject. But, on examination, this fear will be found to he groundless. I

will allow, that the scheme, as first proposed by Henry, would have endangered the progress of liberty, and that, chiefly, because it provided for keeping up a great body of troops, which would have endangered the peace, as well as the liberty of the world for liberty does not live in camps. But, on our Scheme, the keeping up of a large army or navy, would be useless, and even prohibited, as we should depend on the force of public opinion, and not on physical force, to execute the decisions of the Congress of Nations. A peace

extorted by force is no peace at all : it is scarcely a truce. Whatever might have been the pretensions of the Holy Alliance, I have no doubt, that it was organized among erowned heads, chiefly for fear of the loss of crowns, and perhaps of the heads that wear them, and that it is rather a conspiracy of kings, than a league of nations. But, a confederation of nations, in which republics and limited monarchies would have the chief in fluence, would have a directly contrary effect, and, if it intertered at all with the internal affairs of nations, that interference would be in favor of liberty. But, more than this, a

state of peace would be favorable to an increase of light and knowledge, which must always precede liberty. It is impossible to make an ignorant and vicious people free, and war is the greatest promoter of ignorance and vice Liberty cannot spread in the world, without peace, so that such a confederation would be more likely to promote liberty than abridge it.

That the Scheme is practicable, theoretically, is self-evident. That it has been actually put in practice on a small scale, has been proved. If some of these schemes have failed after a lapse of centuries, it has been owing to their imperfections—they have been alliances for the purposes of war as well as for peace,-leagues offensive as well as defensive, for the purpose of foreign war, as well as internal peace, and though they have kept peace among themselves, they have engaged in-foreign wars, and that has proved their ruin. But this would not happen to the Schéme proposed, for two reasons. One is, that the league is not to engage in foreign war, unless they are attacked, and then the war to be strictly defensive, which is no war

« PreviousContinue »