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Asserbs of the Presbyteriaa Church, and other endlesiastical bodie-aperty for representation o ibebeve Carsdan con mucity-pab. sed resolutions, and issued appea's strong condersteg the custom.
Tois reje of barbarsa miatt esz's be abowsoed. It would soon die of itself without the support of a perverted pubic opinion; and should icat every were frono ca te due st as a co.d-blooded murderer, and demand for him the pusisment due to be murderer, lew sould be found reckas enough to fht a duel. Let the pulpit denounce the practice as a nich orience against Heaven; let the press bad it up to universal abhorrence and contempt; let cirujans, judgas and legaior unite in condemping it as an outrace upon social order; ler all classes in society band toge:ber in determined resistance aga this foe to their peace and happiress; let every parent train his chudren, and every instructer teach his pupils to sbucder at the very thought of a dueilist, as a wretch stained with his broiber's blood, and trampling on the laws both of God and man; let all this be done, and dueling would soon come to an eod.
We might make a more direct appeal to the duelist's sel. fishoess. He is generails a cou ard; and, if death or lasting disgrace were certain, he would shrink from the dead. No duelist erpects to fall. Chiey assigned as the reason for basteding his rencontre with Grares, that he wished to return to his duties in Congress." A southern bully, proud of his reputation as an honorable murderer of several antagonists, challenged a man from the north ; but when the Yankee, shrewdly suspecting his courage, put it to the test by demanding to fight with the mouth of their pistols at each other's breast, he declined the contest. Frederick the Great, seeing what baroc this custom was likely to make of his best ofñcers, resolved to give it a death-blow. Learning that two of his favorites bad made arrangements for a duel, he sent for the parties, ascertained the fact from their own lips, and informed them that they must both die in presence of the whole army. They begged hard, but in vain, to be excused from fighting at all. The troops were drawn up; the parties met in their presence, and fought till one fell; the soldiers appointed for the purpose then shot down the survivor as a criminal; and Frederick proclaimed to his army, that the same fate awaited every one that should give or accept a challenge. The wellknown character of Frederick made it certain ibat the duellist must die; and there were no more duels in his army.
VIEWS OF DUELLING.
Public opinion, in all the free States of the Union, is so unanimous and strong against duelling, that it may appear superfluous to quote opinions; but it is well, at a time like the present, to strengthen ourselves against this barbarous practice by remembering how the wise and the good have hitherto regarded it.
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in 1805 “unanimously resolved, that they do in the most unequivocal manner declare their utter abhorrence of the practice of duelling, as originating from the malevolent dispositions of the human heart, and a false sense of honor, as a remnant of Gothic barbarism, as a presumptuous and highly criminal appeal to God as the sovereign Judge, as utterly inconsistent with every just principle of moral conduct, as a direct violation of the sixth commandment, and destructive to the peace and happiness of families; and that it be recommended to all ministers under the care of the Assembly, that they scrupulously refuse to attend the funeral of any person who shall have fallen in a duel, and that they adinit no person who shall have fought a duel, given or accepted a challenge, or been accessory thereto, unto the distinguishing privileges of the church, until he manifest a just sense of his guilt, and give satisfactory evidence of repentance.'
We cannot help pausing here to ask, if all these characteristics of duelling are not strictly applicable to war. Is not war a gigantic system of duelling? Does it not in all cases spring " from the malevolent dispositions of the human heart, and a false sense of honor?' Let the apostle answer in the passage which assures us, that 'wars and fightings come from the lusts of men. Is not this custom, equally with duelling, “a remnant of barbarism?” Is it not“ a presumptuous appeal to God," as if he would take part in such brutal contests ?
Is it not “utterly inconsistent with every just principle of moral conduct?” Does it not “violate the sixth commandment, and destroy the peace and happiness of families?” Every man of common intelligence and candor must answer these questions in the affirmative, and admit that war only multiplies the guilt and evils of duelling by thousands and millions.
Mix. of Gen. Ass., 1803, or Panoplist for July, 1805, vol. I, pp. 76, 77,
But do the ministers of the Prince of peace treat the warrior as they do the duellist? Do they “scrupulously refuse to attend his funeral," and exclude him from the distinguishing privileges of the church until he give satisfactory evidence of repentance?” No; the very men who brand the duellist as a murderer and an outlaw, eulogize the hero as a favored servant of God, and heir to the blessedness promised in heaven to the peacemaker! Dr. Dwight and Dr. Nott, the most eloquent denouncers of duelling, were among the warmest and wildest panegyrists of our revolutionary heroes; at one moment stigmatising the duellist, and the very next applauding the warrior; now dooming to hell the destroyer of one victim, and anon raising to heaven the butcher of thousands.
The Convention of Congregational Ministers in Massachusetts presented in 1809 a memorial to our Legislature, expressing the opinion, that “the practice of duelling involves a contempt and defiance of the precepts and sanctions of the Christian religion ; that it involves the deliberate exposure or destruction of life in utter despite of public authority; that it claims, in behalf of a false and absurd law of honor, originating in times of barbarism and ferocity, the power of annulling and superseding the laws of God and men; that it puts in jeopardy all the peculiar benefits of the social and civilized condition, making the intercourse of men in the same communities a scene of danger and bloodshed, and tending to render wholly unsafe the exercise of liberty of action, and the liberty of debate in public bodies, and of speech in general, as secured to every citizen by the laws of this country. As friends of religion, they pray the Legislature “not to suffer such an affront to Heaven, and such an outrage on the first principles of social order, but to restrain that practice of private revenge which throws the powers of society into the hands of the unprincipled and the desperate. As friends of humanity, they cannot contemplate, without distressing emotions, the domestic terror and suffering inseparable from the prevalence of this barbarous usage."
How easy the application of all this to the custom of war ! Does it not involve a contempt of the precepts and sanctions of the gospel ?” Does it not "deliberately expose or destroy life?” Does it not “ claim the power of annulling and superseding the laws of God and men ?” Does it not “put in
* Panoplist for June, 1809, vol. II, pp. 22, 23.
jeopardy all the peculiar benefits of the social and civilized condition?” Is it not “ an affront to Heaven, and an outrage on the first principles of social order?” Does it not “throw the powers of society into the hands of unprincipled and desperate men ?" Is it not invariably attended with “ domestic terror and suffering ?” How strange that leading minds have for ages overlooked the moral identity of duelling and war!
We designed to give large extracts from the discourses of Dwight, Beecher and Nott, on this subject; but our limits forbid us to do more than record a brief staternent of the facts immediately connected with the late tragedy in our capitol.
THE WASHINGTON DUEL,
The newspapers have made the late duel at Washington so familiar to the whole community, that it may be deemed superfluous to notice it on our pages ; but, however unnecessary it may be for any present effect, we wish to record in a more lasting form the main facts of the case.
Col. Webb, editor of a partisan paper in the city of New York, was accused several years ago of having been bribed to change his political party by a loan from the United States Bank. His correspondent in Washington had the last winter brought a vague charge of corruption against certain members of the House of Representatives; and, when a motion was made to investigate the matter, Jonathan Cilley, an administration member from Maine, opposed it on the ground of insufficient authority in the accusation. “ This charge," said he, “comes from an editor of a newspaper; and we all know that, in a country where the press is free, few men can expect to escape abuse, and charges of a similar description. I know nothing of this editor; but, if it be the same that made grave charges against an institution of this country, and afterwards was said to have received from it facilities to the amount of some $52,000, and then gave it his hearty support, I do not think his charges entitled to much credit in an American Congress.
Webb, stung by this allusion, went to Washington, and sent a note to Cilley, demanding an explanation. Cilley would have nothing to do with Webb; and Graves, a Whig member of the House, from Kentucky, and the bearer of Webb's note,
requested a written acknowledgment from Cilley, that he did not decline the note on the ground that Webb was not a gentleman. Cilley refused to say any thing about Webb's character; and Graves thought himself bound by the law of honor to challenge, him. The challenge was accepted; the rifle was chosen as the weapon of conflict; and the time of meeting was precipitated with blood-thirsty haste. Some of these arrangements were made in the very halls of Congress, and all of them with the knowledge and connivance of its members. Both the principals and their seconds were members of the House of Representatives ; and nothing was done in season to prevent the fatal rencontre. The state of feeling in Congress served only to goad them on; they were both apparently bent on a mortal combat; and there is good reason to believe, that each was resolved on the death of his antagonist, not from personal enmity, but for party purposes. The House was almost equally divided ; and the loss of a single member might turn the scale.
Some delay was found unavoidable; but the movements were so rapid and concealed, that all attempts to arrest the parties proved unavailing. The wife of Graves, on learning that her husband was out for such a purpose, went instantly to the marshall of the District, and proceeded with a warrant in quest of them; but they had taken care, by selecting a retired and unusual spot, to elude pursuit, and secure themselves against interruption. They fought at the distance of eighty yards. Three shots were interchanged without effect; and, after each fire, a professed attempt was made at reconciliation, but was defeated by the second of Graves, who insisted that Cilley should acknowledge Webb to be a gentleman. Cilley could not do this; and at the fourth fire he fell, and expired on the spot.
The result convulsed the capitol. Some efforts were made to prevent the respect of a public funeral to a man who had fallen in violation of the laws both of God and the land; but neither of the political parties dared to risk the effect of refusing the usual honors, and both Houses voted to attend his funeral, and wear crape for thirty days. The Supreme Court of the United States, and the entire delegation from Massachusetts, however, declined taking any part in ceremonies designed to honor the memory of a man who had died in the very act of transgressing the laws of his country.
The subject was immediately brought before both Houses of VOL. II.NO. VI.