WHAT A WILLING GOVERNMENT COULD DO TO ABOLISH DUELLING.
Ir the Government of this country were of a paternal character— interested in the moral and social happiness of the people, instead of being distracted by the strife and rivalry of party-spirit—Duel- ling would long since have fallen as completely into desuetude, as those judicial combats, or public duels, which are now only known to the readers of chronicles of the middle ages. But while hu- manity and common sense have rendered intolerable the revolting spectacles of two men fighting to the death before assembled hun- dreds, under the sanction if not in the presence of their Sovereign, both Society and the Government still tolerate, nay encourage, similar atrocious practices in private. It is true that Queen VIC- TORIA would not, like her royal predecessors, preside in person and regulate a combat between two nobles of her court revenging a personal quarrel; nor would the law permit such a scene. There is, however, only slight difference in the consequences between the open sanction and avowed approbation of the Sovereign in former times, and that tacit encouragement which duelling receives from the Court and the Government at the present day. The letter of the law does all that the law can do ; but Public Opinion, always stronger than Law, acting alike upon judges and juries, has made its enactments a dead letter. A primary duty of all Governments is to correct, not succumb to, popular prejudice, and to give a high moral tone to the public mind: but our Government, though armed and supported by the law, has been mean and cowardly in its con- duct on this subject. Happily the tide of public opinion is at last setting very strongly in a contrary direction—following instead of opposing the feelings of justice and religion."' The current may eventually reach the Crown; and perhaps an officer will never again he dismissed the Army with disgrace for not fighting a duel, at the same time that the military code denounces such a proceeding as a military crime, and assigns to it the heavy penalty of being cashiered.
Few opportunities are given to Monarchs, in diese unchivalrous days, to gain immortal renown. Such an enviable opportunity is, how- ever, happily afforded to Queen VICTORIA and her amiable husband. Let them determine to rescue the country, if not the age, from a practice which is alike an outrage upon religion and a violation of the first principles of humanity. Such an act would be as consistent with the character as becoming to the sex of our gracious Sove- reign; and we have no doubt that if the resolution were taken and uniformly acted upon, it would be successful. Perhaps duelling cannot be entirely suppressed except by the establishment of tri- bunals composed of men of high station and unimpeachable honour, for arbitrating those grievances which though beyond the reach of courts of law and equity should not be left unsettled, nor be deter- mined only by the parties involved. To such tribunals, however, we will not now further allude : our present suggestions are of a more directly practical nature, and depend for being carried into full effect only upon the pleasure of the Queen and her responsible advisers.
Let a proclamation be issued, and its provisions be strictly and invariably executed, to the following purposes, and duelling will soon become as vulgar, unpopular, and unfashionable, as it is un- christianlike, inhuman, and illegal.
I. Any person holding a commission or office, or being em- ployed in any department in her Majesty's service, civil, naval, or military, of any kind or degree whatsoever, who may act as principal or second in any duel, should be dismissed from his office or em- ployment, and be incapable of being reinstated, or of holding any other employment under the Crown or in the public service.
II. All other persons advising, abetting, or in any manner counte- nancing a duel, should be suspended from their office for the space of five years.
IIL All persons, of whatsoever rank or degree, who may be con- cerned in a duel, whether as principals or seconds, or as eiders or abettors of such a proceeding, should be forbidden from again ap- pearing at Court, or elsewhere in her Majesty's presence.
IV. Notifications of each dismissal, suspension, and prohibition from appearing at Court, should be repeatedly published in the London Gazette ; and a general list of the dismissed, suspended, and proscribed persons, should be published twice every year in the said Gazette.
If it be said that such measures would be too severe, let it be re- membered that a fatal duel is in law a murder, and that a murderer and the abettors of murder ought not to be intrusted with public duties; that those who have shown themselves to have no control over their own passions or temper, nor sufficient greatness of cha- racter to bear undeserved obloquy without taking the law into their own hands, are unworthy of public confidence, and are therefore unfit for employment in the public service ; that men whose hands are stained with the blood, or who from a spirit of revenge have sought the life of a fellow-creature, are unfit to appear in the presence of their Sovereign ; and that it is proper to denounce such men in the most public manner, not only as a punishment, but thst they may be avoided by the peaceable and well-conducted part of the com- munity.