Images de page

of God as well as of man; and introduces and propagates opinions and practice as much against Heaven as against earth, and erects a deity that delights in nothing but cruelty and blood. Are we pleased with the enlarged commerce and society of large and opulent cities, or with the retired pleasures of the country? Do we love stately palaces and noble houses, or take delight in pleasant groves and woods, or fruitful gardens, which teach and instruct nature to produce and bring forth more fruits, and flowers, and plants, than her own store can supply her with? All this we owe to peace; and the dissolution of this peace disfigures all this beauty, and, in a short time, covers and buries all this order and delight in ruin and rubbish. Finally, have we any content, satisfaction, and joy in the conversation of each other, in the knowledge and understanding of those arts and sciences which more adorn mankind

than all those buildings and plantations do the fields and grounds on which they stand? Even this is the blessed effect and legacy of peace; and war lays our

natures and manners as waste as our

gardens and our habitations; and we can as easily preserve the beauty of the one as the integrity of the other, under the cursed jurisdiction of drums and trumpets.-May 26, 1832.

[blocks in formation]


[After stating the circumstances attending the Russian Dutch Loan, and that upon the principles of justice and equity, the course pursued by the Ministers is correct, the Editor proceeds:-1

HAPPILY has the question ended: bright through the mists of the past hypocrisy and violence, by which nations have been governed, we see that era when Opinion shall dictate to states in their foreign relations, as it does now in their domestic. When justice shall be maintained and oppression checked, - not by the sword and fire, but by the loud expression of the moral voice: when that indignation on one side-that homage on the other -which retain individual virtue in its paths, and make men feel that not only Knowledge but Character is Power,— shall make the code of states and the terror of kings. As that time advances, those nations will become the most powerful which are the most esteemed; and that opinion will be the most obeyed which proceeds from such states as are most jealous for honesty, and most scrupulous in justice. Happy then, we say, has it been for England, that she has done nothing to forfeit that proud eminence, which, be her former faults and blindness what they may, in these respects she may already assert.'



Punishment of Death.


THE law enacting the punishment of death is either a very cruel and sanguinary law, or an idle threat, to hang over the heads of the wicked. If it be a serious and veritable law, then are we one of the most barbarous nations in the world; but if it be merely a bugbear to frighten criminals in embryo, then it is worse than the absence of all laws, since it brings existing laws into contempt, and helps to loosen the

ignorant and the depraved from their allegiance to the institutions of the country. It is notorious that public feeling is so strongly opposed not only to the principles of this law, but to the inequality of its visitation, that jurors shrink from their responsibility, and, in nine cases out of ten, the injured permit criminals to go unpunished altogether, in preference to performing that duty to society which, were the law just, they would not hesitate to fulfil. Lords Eldon and Tenterden deny these facts; but our law lords are not of the people, and do not form their judgments by the measure of public opinion, but by the crooked requirements of legal usage. They want a secondary punishment, which they say they have been endeavouring to devise for the last quarter of a century in vain; and so, because they cannot find out any other mode of punishment, for certain offences, than death, they prudently resolve to oppose its abolition, although they acknowledge that it is not one of which they can entirely approve. We should like to have a hanging judge's account of his travels in search of a sensation. Such a man might travel far to no purpose for sensations that would touch such a heart are, we suspect, as difficult to be found as the sensations for which a visionary Frenchman looks in the London fogs.

We have always held, that the last persons who ought to be applied to for an opinion in the formation of laws that affect the morals of society are the lawyers. They are bound up in a web of fallacies, and forms, and quibbles. They see through dark glasses. They know nothing about the wants and desires of the country at large, and are generally prone to mistake the constructions of the statutes for the actual condition and organization of society. Now when law is to be reformed, the test is not that which will be agreeable to the ways of the law, but that which will be consonant with the new views and demands of the public. We do

not want to model law upon law, but to make laws that shall be modelled upon the feelings of the people, and accordant with the general good. It is quite absurd to take the sense of a judge upon such a law as the punish ment of death. He cannot see his way out of the mazes of tortuous habit. He will not consent to surrender a single iota of what he has been accustomed to, without getting a satisfactory equivalent. While other men are labouring to create a humane alternative, the judge is deep in the technical details; and by the time that others have suggested a simple reform, he has succeeded, perhaps, in detecting a legal difficulty. It would be a waste of time to quarrel over the assumed impossibility of instituting a secondary punishment. Punishments are as plenty as blackberries. Legislation is never at a loss for severities: the arts of torture are inexhaustible. If we are so very delicate about moderating the cruelties we have hitherto practised, let us, instead of racking our brains for invention, look into the customs of other countries, where we shall readily find precedents that will settle the question at once. In Holland, for instance, they never put a man to death until he has confessed his guilt; and even then they only shed blood for blood. Take a few examples of this kind, compare them one with another, and it is hard if some reasonable inference be not established. It is plain that our law. makers have never admitted the moral distinctions that divide the degrees of the same crime, and that distinguish, elementarily, one crime from another. If they had, they would have discovered, before this, that there is some inconsistency in putting one man to death for a petty theft, and hanging up another beside him for a cold-blooded and atrocious murder. But we have been all along in the hands of a few persons, who formed, as it were, a sect of their own in morals. The reign of the moles, however, is at an end. We are emerging into daylight. The

sightless orbs begin to feel the light, and, no doubt, we shall all see well enough by-and-by. But the public mind must keep the topics that require attention constantly alive. There cannot be too much said, nor can it be said too frequently. If, as one means, every newspaper editor in England, who agrees with us, were to recur to this subject at stated intervals, say

be necessary. All that is now required, in order to accomplish the desired repeal, is that the people should every where, and on all occasions, make known their decided opinions. The law-makers cannot always stand up against those for whose government the laws are made.

once a fortnight, and merely print in War is bitter, therefore we ought to capital letters thus,



in some conspicuous part of his publication, there is no doubt it would produce a strong effect, and spread the spirit of legal reform more usefully than a succession of the most powerful demonstrations. To argue the question would be an insult to the common

sense of England. The time has arrived when argument has ceased to

have Peace.

[blocks in formation]

Continued from p. 430.

Lecture delivered by the Secretary of the London Peace Society, at Colchester.

[From the Colchester Gazette.] ON Tuesday evening last, a lecture was delivered at the Friends' Meetinghouse by the Rev. James Hargreaves, secretary of the London Peace Society. As the subject has excited considerable interest, we are induced to give the following brief outline of the arguments adduced by the lecturer, premising, however, that our report is to be considered only as an outline, the lecture having extended over the space of two hours :—

The lecturer commenced by stating that the subject was not one of the most popular, and that some apology might be expected of him for introducing it. They would soon discover,

"" the

however, that he did not possess tongue of the learned, nor the pen of the ready writer," and the importance of the subject must form the apology for his temerity. The Society had met with neglect and opposition, because its principles were misunderstood. He would briefly state its nature and objects, without going into details; and he would study, in encountering objections, to avoid sweeping assertions, and unlimited censure. It had been supposed that the Society went the length of unchristianizing all military men: this was not the case; for among military men he rejoiced to say there were some" Israelites indeed in whom was no guile." Such was Colonel Gardiner, who lived and died in the field. We read of devout soldiers in the New Testament, and of a centurion whose faith was admired by all who

.believed. The Society did not interfere with the province of the civil magistrate; it rather taught subjection to the powers that be." It was not sectarian it imposed no particular creed upon its members: all were welcome to its ranks, if they deprecated war and loved peace. It had been represented as a Quakers' Society, but this was a misnomer. It could no more be said to be monopolized by the Quakers than by any other denomination of Christians, although, to their great honour, they had generally patronized it. The members of the Parent Committee were required to denounce all war as impolitic and antichristian: the auxiliary Committees were not required to go that length. The reason for that regulation was this-that, as it devolved upon the Parent Committee to issue tracts, it was essential that they should be unanimous in their opinions. He would ask, Was not war an evil? If we glanced at its origin, we should find that it sprung from the unsanctified passions of human nature. Had there been no sin in human nature, there would have been no sin in the human family. There have always existed various pretexts for engaging in war; but if we go to the fountain, we shall find that they all resolve themselves into the wickedness of the heart. The practice of war must necessarily partake of the nature of its origin it is allied to idolatry and slavery. In its train we behold desolation-a total prostration of the sympathies of the soul, and of the energies of the body. In vain does the field smile with plenty to-day-to-morrow it is strewed with the bodies of the slain, and weeps its tears of blood. Such were the horrors which accompanied the retreating army from the flames of Moscow, and such which defiled the fair plains of Waterloo. Where was the son?-where the father? Ask the desolate one who sits pining in the midst of her bereavement! And then, what was the effect of war upon the interests of the nation, but a load of

taxation which crippled our energies, and reduced our vigour to the dust? During the reign of George the Third, the taxes had increased, in twenty-one years, upwards of seven hundred mil lions sterling. And then if we consi dered the incalculable loss of life as a necessary consequence of war, did it require to be asked, Was war an evil? On the 7th of September, 1812, the French and Russian armies left dead on the field eighty thousand men and twenty-five thousand horses! It had been estimated that Cæsar, Alexander, and Buonaparte, had each been instrumental in the death of two millions of human beings, to say nothing of the anguish of the millions of bereaved widows and orphans. It had farther been computed that since the Deluge the entire population of the globe had been swept off by war, as many as seventy times. And then if we dared to think of the immortal souls thus hurried from time into eternity............. But Peace, lovely Peace! she sprung from God, and had no other object but to promote the happiness of man. War revoked the laws of humanity, and seemed to defy alike all moral and social responsibility. Witness, for instance, the depredations committed by an army, where the soldiers are not only permitted, but commanded, to do all the mischief they can. He was old enough to remember when an admiral was tried by a court-martial, at Portsmouth, and condemned to be shot, because, after gaining a victory, he did not burn and sink the enemy's fleet. But it has been asked, Is the object of the Peace Society attainable? Some think that it is not, and that it would be as easy to turn the tides as to prevent nations from going to war. But he affirmed that the thing was possible; it was possible to bring the nations of the earth to live in harmony one with the other. It was possible; for the God of peace had spoken it. It is not only possible, but it is also probable. What had the Society to cope with ?public opinion: and public opinion

was no formidable opponent; it had been changed on other topics, and would soon be changed on this. The time had been, when men had been persecuted for conscience' sake, and when it was deemed impossible to unite in the bonds of friendship persons of different denominations; but that time had passed away by general consent. A few years ago, those who had advocated the emancipation of the slave met but with little encouragement from the intelligence and respectability of the community; but Clarkson made it his business to collect information on the condition of our colonies, with which he supplied Wilberforce, and by the exertions of that excellent man, the subject was not only mooted in the House of Commons, but brought to a successful issue. But not only is the object of the Peace Society possible, or even probable, but it is certain. They have only to refer to the prophetic books of Scripture for proofs of this. In that day, saith the Lord, will I beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruninghooks." He thought that before half a century should elapse, the rising generation would ask, is it possible that men were accustomed to meet on the plain for the purpose of murdering each other, as a preliminary to the settlement of some trifling dispute by arbitration? He was happy to inform them that the certainty of the final attainment of their object was even then perceptible. The seed had been sown, and it was springing up. Not only in England, but on the continent, were the first-fruits of the harvest perceptible. A question which very naturally recurred to the public mind was this, Were the means employed by the Peace Society adapted to the end which they sought to obtain? They were neither rich nor powerful. The weapon they employed was the sword of the Spirit. They were anxious also to promote discussion, which had not always proved either unprofitable or in vain. The Society had published a


variety of tracts, which had found their way into almost every part of the globe; and in some instances they had derived considerable help from the gratuitous services of the public press. The principles of the Peace Society and of the Gospel were precisely the same. At the birth of the Saviour an anthem was sung, the burden of which was, " Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will towards Of the Messiah it was predicted, "Of the increase of his peace and government there shall be no end." The prosecution of war by Christians was a great stumbling-block to the Jews; because they had been taught to expect, from their prophetic books, that the reign of the Messiah should be accompanied with unity and peace. They were given to understand that, with the establishment of his kingdom on earth would be introduced a very different order of things, of motives, and of principles. And this was the sum and substance of what the Redeemer himself taught: "Ye have heard that it hath been said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." Thus it was seen that the principles of peace were compatible with the Gospel,-with the doctrines of the Gospel. "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace.' When the Redeemer entered the world, he brought peace with him; and when he left the world he left, as his legacy,-peace, not among individuals or in families merely, but comprehending the whole world. It was not until man became an enemy of God that he became an enemy of his species; but it was the design of the Gospel to reconcile men to God and to one another. But the principles of peace were compatible with religious experience. What had the Holy Spirit implanted in the heart of every sincere Christian?" The fruit of the

« PrécédentContinuer »