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combatants in all circumstances ? Shall privateering cease, and no more letters of marque and reprisal be allowed? Shali this practice of legalized piracy be utterly abolished, and commerce be left, alike in peace and war, to traverse every sea, and barter its commodities in every port, safe from the attacks of privateers or of public ships? A consummation incalculably important to the commerce and prosperity of the whole world. It would strip war of more than half its remaining pecuniary evils, and hasten its entire abolition.
We may allude, also, to the right of interference with a nation at war. May troops be raised in one country to fight. against another, without violating the laws of neutrality ? Was the part taken by some of our own citizens in the troubles of Canada, or in the war of Texas, an infringement of our amicable relations with England and Mexico? This practice has for ages prevailed more or less throughout Christendom. English officers have in India raised considerable armies avowedly on purpose to fight for pay; English admirals and American commodores have sold their services to other nations in the trade of human butchery; and whole regiments went, year after year, from England to engage in the civil broils of the Peninsula. There is scarce a country in Europe that has not occasionally furnished mercenaries for foreign wars.
There is, likewise, the question of search and impressment. This right, boldly claimed by some nations, is resolutely denied by others; and this collision of views and practices must be a fruitful source of strife. Here was the main cause of our last war with England; but the point, left at the close of that war just where it was before, still remains a magazine of mischief ready to be kindled by a spark into such an explosion as mignt convulse each nation to its centre, and cover its fairest fields with carnage and devastation.
But far more important would be measures in concert for the abolition of the whole war-system. This would be the grand aim of such a congress as we propose; but a result so mighty and glorious, can be reached only by a gradual process. A. resort to arms should be allowed, if at all, in less than a tithe of its past or present cases; ample means should be provided even in such cases for a peaceful adjustment of the dispute ; the conflict, if inevitable, should still be, like ancient wagers of battle, under the strictest regulations to check its tendencies to unnecessary mischief; and the grand provocative to war, found in standing armies, and other military preparations, should be removed, as far and as fast as possible, by a reduction of all such establishments through the civilized world. The alleged necessity of them is deplored by all as a most enormous evil; but no nation dares to reduce its own estab
lishment without an assurance that all the rest will do the same. This difficulty would be met at once by a congress of nations; one of its earliest acts would probably be to propose a simultaneous, proportionate reduction of all standing armies; and this process could easily and speedily be carried so far as to leave a force barely sufficient for the preservation of internal order and peace.
This synoptical view will suffice to show the necessity of some measure to settle the law of nations as a means of preserving peace between them, of regulating their intercourse, and promoting a vast variety of common interests. The importance of our scheme in this as well as other respects, is readily admitted; but not a few doubt both its feasibility and its efficacy. These are the main points, and deserve a more minute and thorough discussion than our present limits will allow.
SECT. 4.-PRACTICABILITY OF THE MEASURE. There is certainly no impossibility inherent in the nature of our project. Nations can, if they will, call such a convention, and establish such a tribunal as we propose ; and the only question is, whether they can be induced to do so. Can they be made to see the vast importance of such a measure, its absolute necessity to their highest welfare? Can they be brought into the requisite degree of concert? Will they ever consent to come into such a confederacy?
A partial answer to these questions might be inferred from the obvious necessity of a congress of nations. The deficiencies of their present code can never be supplied, the evils now incident to their intercourse never be remedied, and their highest welfare, or their perfect safety secured, without some tribunal of the kind as their acknowledged lawgiver and judge. No treatises on the law of nations, no decisions of admiralty courts, no treaty stipulations, no rectitude, capacity or vigilance of rulers, no degree of intelligence or honesty among the people, no force of custom or public opinion, can ever meet all the exigencies of the case, and thus supersede the necessity of an international tribunal for the various and vastly important purposes already suggested. Can such a chasm in the wants of the world never be filled ?
We find a bright augury for our cause in the general progress of society. The genius of universal improvement is abroad. The whole age is instinct with new life, and power, and impulse. The world is all awake and astir. Its intellect is on the stretch for new discoveries, inventions and improvements. Onward is the watchword; and every thing that has wings, is spreading them for a wider range, and a loftier flight. Art, and science, and manufactures, and commerce, and agriculture, and every department of human effort, are catching the inspiration of the age. What enterprises of philanthropy! What plans of reform in education, society and government? How much has already been gained, how much more in certain prospect, for the welfare of mankind !-And will this spirit of the age never reach the great subject of international law and intercourse? While hewing down forests, and converting entire provinces into gardens; while intersecting almost every land with eanals and railroads ; while making a thousand applications of steam-power to manufactures and commerce; while remodelling entire systems of science and philosophy, of education and government; while combining high and low, rich and poor, old and young, in successful efforts to supply every hamlet in Christendom with the word of life, to send the gospel through the world, and to banish from the earth such evils as intemperance and the • slave-trade ; will such a spirit pause before accomplishing a task so needful as that of a code and court of nations ?
Mark especially the increase of popular power. Knowledge is power; and this mighty engine is fast going into the hands of every man in Christendom, and giving him an influence over the destinies of the world. Even despots are beginning to educate their subjects, and legitimacy is sheltering itself under the wing of the schoolmaster. The press, like the sun in the heavens, is pouring a flood of light on the mass of common minds, and revealing to them their rights and prerogatives. The power of the world is passing into their hands; and ere-long will they wield it, not to gratify war-loving despots, but to subserve their own interests by preserving peace, and promoting agriculture, commerce and the arts. Cannot the people be brought to favor such a project as ours ? Most certainly; and, if so, its ultimate success is beyond a doubt.
Observe stiil more especially the influence of popular opinion upon mlers. It is exerting a wider and stronger sway over their policy. Even now does it silently control them, and is daily becoming more and more powerful. It is mightier than monarchs or warriors. No throne, no army, no fortress can long stand before it. Napoleon, in the zenith of his power, quailed before the pen of a British reviewer; and the press, as the chief organ of public sentiment, will ere-long give law even to rulers. Here is the secret of the people's power; and it is forcing the high and mighty to respect them. They are coming to be courted even by emperors and autocrats as the real depositaries of power; their wishes, perhaps not in form, but in fact, are now consulted ; and no cabinet in Christendorn dares to contravene a general and decided ex
pression of their will. Monarchy, aristocracy, all the cherished forms of legitimacy, may still remain; but they will be in the spirit of our own government, only different modes of serving the people, whose fiat must one day become law to the whole civilized world. Give us the people; and we are sure, sooner or later, of our cause.
But mark, also, the special direction of the popular mind. It is busy with what most immediately concerns its own interests. It is looking into government, detecting its hoary abuses, and calling aloud for reform. It is forcing old opinions, usages and institutions through the ordeal of its own scrutiny and judgment. Like Samson grasping the pillars of Gaza, it is laying its brawny hands on the great principles of government, and demanding reform or demolition. One or the other must come; and the final result of this popular interference with the government of states, and the intercourse of nations, will doubtless facilitate the establishment of some international tribunal as the guardian of popular rights, and promoter of the general weal.
Another favorable circumstance is the establishment of free, representative governments. Here we see the result of the people's voice demanding that their rights shall be respected, and their interests faithfully consulted. During the last half century, there have been, besides some abortive attempts, more than eighty new written Constitutions established in Europe and America; and about one hundred millions of people are now ruled by them. Most of these cases recognize the representative principle; a principle which, as carried into practice in England and France, but especially in the republics on this continent, may be regarded as the grand political discovery and characteristic of these later times. When a little more extended, and brought fully into action, it will doubtless operate a change in the international policy of the world highly favorable to the welfare of the people. Their representatives, acquainted with their wishes, and sympathizing in their wants, sufferings and prejudices, will of course plead for their interests. The policy of nations has hitherto been essentially belligerent; but popular representation will be adverse to this policy, and propitious to the great objects sought by a congress of nations. The mass of mankind, so far from being disposed to abet those ruinous contests which have blighted and cursed the earth for so many ages, will be found, when left to themselves, to be decidedly in favor of a pacific policy; and the principle of representation, when fully developed, cannot fail to give vast expansion and influence to their wishes in this respect.
Another strong omen of good, then, is found in the changes of general opinion concerning war. These changes have been rapid and great. Once the right of war was questioned by few, if any; now its lawfulness is boldly denied by large and growing numbers. Once philosophers commended it, statesmen applauded it, and men of letters made it the chief theme of their eulogies; now they all unite in execrating it as a mass of abominations and woes, to be tolerated only as a dire necessity. Once it was deemed the pastime of master-spirits, the sole pathway to glory; now it is fast coming to be held in universal contempt and abhorrence as fit only for brutes or fiends. Once it formed the main business of nations ; now it is professedly their chief aim to avoid it. Once it was their only theatre of competition; now the scene is changed to manufactures, commerce, and other sources of improvement and comfort, wealth and power. Public opinion on this subject is rapidly changing in many other respects. The timehallowed delusions of war are vanishing; its strange and guilty spell is losing its hold of five thousand years upon the popular mind; men begin to reflect on its incalculable waste of blood and treasure, on the fearful accumulation of its crimes and its-woes; its evils will ere-long tell on the ballot-box to the sore dismay of all war-making aspirants after place and power; and, if the custom can be superseded, the people will soon demand that it shall be, and will thus hasten the adoption of some scheme like the one we propose, that shall put an end to its horrors forever.
War is at length rallying all classes against it as their common foe. Once the high favored it, while the lower and middling classes, on whom its evils chiefly fell, had few means of opposition or remonstrance. The principle of representation has given to the latter the power of speech; this power has called into exercise that of inquiry, reflection and reason; and now a voice, unheard before, has come up, as from “ the vasty deep,” loud and terrible, that war shall be no more. Not merely the suffering millions, its chief victims, but men of wealth, and learning, and high authority, are beginning to brand with infamy this wholesale destroyer of human interests. The open and avowed advocates of peace in the various classes of society, have increased an hundred-fold; and the increase of boldness, intellectual power, and consistent zeal, has corresponded to the augmentation of numbers. And why should we not expect it to be thus, when any considerable body of men is brought to reflect on the subject? What source of misery, which is under the direction and control of man himself, can be compared to this? When some terrible disease advances from country to country, when the seeds of the pestilence are scattered abroad by the Almighty,