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hill, or upon the margin of some unfrequented beach, to settle this important question of honor by stabbing or shooting at each other.
One or the other or both the parties fall in this polite and gentlemanlike contest. And what does this prove? It proves that one or the other or both of them, as the case may be, are marksmen. But it affords no evidence that either of them possess honor, probity or talents.
It is true that he who falls in single combat, has the honor of being murdered : and he who takes his life, the honor of a murderer. Besides this, I know not of any glory which can redound to the infatuated combatants except it be what results from having extended the circle of wretched widows, and added to the number of hapless orphans.
And yet, terminate as it will, this frantic meeting, by a kind of magic influence, entirely varnishes over a defective and smutty character. Transforms vice to virtue, cowardice to courage, makes falsehood truth, guilt innocence.... In one word, it gives a new complexion to the whole state of things. The Ethiopian changes his skin, the leopard his spot, and the debauched and treacherous..... having shot away the infamy of a sorry life, comes back from the field of PERFECTIBILITY quite regenerated and in the fullest sense an honorable man. He is now fit for the company of gentlemen. He is admitted to that company, and should he again by acts of vileness stain this purity of
character so nobly acquired, and should any one have the affrontery to say that he has done so, again he stands ready to vindicate his honor, and by another act of homicide, to wipe away the stain which has been attached to it.
I might illustrate this article by example. I might produce instances of this mysterious transformation of character, in the sublime circles of moral refinement, furnished by the higher orders of the fashionable world, which the mere firing of pistols has produced.
But the occasion is too awful for irony.
Absurd as duelling is, were it absurd only, though we might smile at the weakness and pity the folly of its abettors, there would be no occasion for seriously attacking them -But to what has been said, I add, that duelling is
RASH AND PRESUMPTUOUS.
Life is the gift of God, and it was never bestowed to be sported with. To each the Sovereign of the universe has marked out a sphere to move in and assigned a part to act. respects ourselves not only but others also.-Each lives for the benefit of all.
As in the system of nature the sun shines, not to display its own brightness and answer its own convenience, but to warm, enlighten and bless the world ; so in the system of animated beings, there is a dependence, a correspondence and a re
lation through an infinitely extended, dying and reviving universe-In which no man liveth to himself and no man dieth to himself. Friend is related to friend. The father to his family ; the individual to community. To every member of which, having fixed his station and assigned his duty, the God of nature says, “ Keep this trust-defend this post.”
For whom? For thy friends—thy family—thy country. And having received such a charge, and for such a purpose, to desert it is rashness and temerity.
Since the opinions of men are as they are, do you ask, how you shall avoid the imputation of cowardice, if you do not fight when you are injured ? Ask your family how you will avoid the imputation of cruelty-ask your conscience how you will avoid the imputation of guilt-ask God how you will avoid his malediction if you do? These are previous questions. Let these first be answered, and it will be easy to reply to any which may follow them. If
you only except a challenge when you believe in your conscience that duelling is wrong, you act the coward. The dastardly fear of the world governs you. Awed by its menaces you conceal your sentiments, appear in disguise and act in guilty conformity to principles not your own, and that too in the most solemn moment and when engaged in an act which exposes you to death.
But if it be rashness to accept, how passing rashness is it, in a sinner, to give a challenge? Docs
it become him, whose life is measured out by crimes, to be extreme to mark and punctilious to reseni whatever is amiss in others ? Must the duelist, who now disdaining to forgive, so imperiously demands satisfaction to the uttermost-must this man, him. self trembling at the recollection of his offences, presently appear a suppliant before the mercy seat of God. Imagine this, and the case is not imaginary, and you cannot conceive an instance of greater inconsistency or of more presumptuous arrogance. Wherefore avenge not yourselves but rather givplace unto wrath; for vengeance is mine, I will repay it, saith the LORD.
Do you ask then, how you shall conduct towards your enemy who hath lightly done you wrong? If he be hungry, fced him; if naked, clothe him; if thirsty, give him drink. Such, had you preferred your question to Jesus Christ is the answer he had given you. By observing which, you will usually subdue, and always act more honorable than your enemy.
I feel, my brethren, as a minister of Jesus and a teacher of his gospel, a noble elevation on this article.
Compare the conduct of the Christian, acting in conformity to the principles of religion, and of the duellist, acting in conformity to the principles of honor, and let reason say which bears the marks of the n:ost exalted greatness.
Compare them, and
let reason say which enjoys the most calm serenity of mind in time, and which is likely to receive the plaudid of his Judge in immortality.
God, from his throne, beholds not a nobler object on his footstool, than the man who loves his enemies, pities their errors, and forgives the injuries they do him. This is indeed the very spirit of the heavens. It is the image of his benignity whose glory fills them,
To return to the subject before us-GUILTY, ABSURD, and rAsH as duelling is, it has its advocates. And had it not had its advocates-had not a strange preponderance of opinion been in favor of it, never, O, lamented HAMILTON.! hadst thou thus fallen, in the midst of thy days, and before thou hadst reached the zenith of thy glory.
O that I possessed the talent of eulogy, and that I might be permitted to indulge the tenderness of friendship in paying the last tribute to his memory. O that I were capable of placing this great man before you. I
Could I do this, I should furnish you with an argument, the most practical, the most plain, the most convincing, except that drawn from the mandate of God, that was ever furnished against duelling, that horrid practice, which has, in an awful moment, robbed the world of such exalted worth.
But I cannot do this, I can only hint at the variety and exuberance of his excellence.
The MAN, on whom nature seems originally to have impressed the stamp of greatness.