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indiscriminate fire and slaughter, even of women and children—the aim should be, while not diminishing the efficiency of armies against each other, to ward off their blows as much as possible from all others than the actual combatants.
How can these changes so desirable in themselves be effected? I answer, by the adoption of an international code. Every consideration which serves to show the practicability and expediency of reducing to a code the laws of a single nation applies with equal force to a code of those international rules which govern the intercourse of nations. And there are many grave considerations in addition. The only substitute for a code of national law-an imperfect substitute, as I think it—is judiciary or judge-made law. This is tolerable, as we know from having endured it so long, where there is but one body of magistrates having authority to make it.
But when the judges of each nation, having no common source of power and not acting in concert, make the laws they will inevitably fall into different paths and establish different rules. And when they do there is no common legislature to reconcile their discrepancies or rectify their rules. Indeed, if there is ever to be a uniform system of international regulations made known beforehand for the guidance of men it must be by a means of an international code.
How can such a code be made and adopted? Two methods present themselves as possible: one a conference of diplomatists to negotiate and sign a series of treaties forming the titles and chapters of a code; the other the preparation by a committee of publicists of a code which shall embody the matured judgment of the best thinkers and most accomplished jurists, and then procuring the sanction of the different nations. The latter method appears to me the more feasible.
The difficulties in the way will arise, not in the labor of
preparation but in procuring the assent; yet, great as are these difficulties, and I do not underrate them, I believe they would be found not insurmountable, and that the obstacles and delays which the rivalries of parties and the jealousies of nations might interpose would finally give way before the matured judgment of reflecting and impartial men.
The importance of the work is so great, and the benefits that will result from it in promoting beneficial intercourse, protecting individual rights, settling disputes, and lessening the chances of war are so manifest, that when once a uniform system of rules desirable in themselves is reduced to form and spread before the eye it will commend itself to favor and the governments, which after all are but the agents of the public will, must at last give it their sanction.
Let us suppose this association to make the beginning. There is no agency more appropriate and no time more fitting. You might appoint at first a committee of the association to prepare the outlines of such a code to be submitted at the next annual meeting. At that time subject this outline to a careful examination, invite afterwards a conference of committees from other bodies—from the French Institute, the professors of universities, the most renowned publicists to revise and perfect that which had been thus prepared. The work would then be as perfect as the ablest jurists and scholars of our time could make it. Thus prepared and recommended it would of itself command respect and would inevitably win its way. It would carry with it all the authority which the names of those concerned in its formation could give. It would stand above the treatise of any single publicist; nay, above all the treatises of all the publicists that have ever written.
Is it a vain thing to suppose that such a work would finally
win the assent one by one of those nations which now stand in the front rank of the world, and which of course are more than others under the influence of intelligent and educated men? The times are favorable; more favorable indeed than any which have occurred since the beginning of the Christian era. Intercourse has increased beyond all precedent and the tendency of intercourse is to produce assimilation. When they who were separated come to see each other more and know each other better they compare conditions and opinions; each takes from each and differences gradually lessen.
Thus it has happened in respect to the arts and in respect to laws, manners, and language. In a rude state of society when men are divided into many tribes · each tribe has a language of its own; but as time melts them into one a common language takes the place of the many. Your own island furnishes a familiar example of the influence of intercourse in blending together different elements and forming a united whole.
This tendency to assimilation was never before so strong as it is now, and it will be found a great help toward forming a uniform international code. The tendency toward a unity of races is another element of immense importance. Germany will hereafter act as a unit. İtaly will do likewise. In America no man will hereafter dream of one public law for northern and another for southern States. Even the asperity which always follows a rupture between a colony and the mother country will give way before the influence of race, language, and manners, so far as to allow a large conformity of disposition and purpose, however impossible may be a reunion of governments. The relations between America and England are or were till lately softening under this influence; and if Spain is ever governed by wiser counsels she will
make friends of her ancient colonies instead of continuing to treat them as enemies, and will confer on them benefits rather than wage war against them.
Would it not be a signal honor for this association, rich in illustrious names and distinguished for its beneficent acts, to take the initiative in so noble an undertaking? Would it not be a crowning glory for your country to take it up it on? Wearing the honors of a thousand years, and standing at the head of the civilization of Europe, England would add still more to her renown, and establish a new title to the respect of future ages, if she would perform this crowning act of beneficence.
The young Republic of the West, standing at the head of the civilization of America, vigorous in her youth and farreaching in her desires, would walk side by side with you and exert herself in equal measures for so grand a consummation. She has been studying during all her existence how to keep great States at peace and make them work for a common object, while she leaves to them all necessary independence for their own peculiar government.
She does this it is true by means of a federated system which she finds best for herself, and which she has cemented by thousands of millions in treasure and hundreds of thousands in precious lives. How far this system may be carried is yet unknown. It
may not be possible to extend it to distinct nationalities or to heterogeneous races.
But there is another bond less strict yet capable of binding all nations and all races. This is a uniform system of rules for the guidance of nations and their citizens in their intercourse with each other, framed by the concurring wisdom of each and adopted by the free consent of all. Such an international code, the public law of Christendom, will prove a
gentle but all-constraining bond of nations, self-imposed, and binding them together to abstain from war except in the last extremity, and in peace to help each other, making the weak strong and the strong just, encouraging the intellectual culture, the moral growth, and the industrious pursuits of each, and promoting in all that which is the true end of government, the freedom and happiness of the individual man.