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human thought; that it warmed into life new and glorious growths of right reason as to international relations; and we recognize the fact that, from his day to ours, the progress of reason in theory and of mercy in practice has been constant on both sides of the Atlantic.
It may be objected that this good growth, so far as theory was concerned, was sometimes anarchic, and that many of its developments were very different from any that Grotius intended or would have welcomed. For if Puffendorff swerved much from the teachings of his great master in one direction, others swerved even more in other directions, and all created systems more or less antagonistic. Yet we can now see that all these contributed to a most beneficent re sult,—to the growth of a practice ever improving, ever deepening, ever widening, ever diminishing bad faith in time of peace and cruelty in time of war.
It has also been urged that the system which Grotius gave to the world has been utterly left behind as the world has gone on; that the great writers on international law in the present day do not accept it; that Grotius developed everything out of an idea of natural law which was merely the creation of his own mind, and based everything on an origin of jural rights and duties which never had any real being; that he deduced his principles from a divinely planted instinct which many thinkers are now persuaded never existed, acting in a way contrary to everything revealed by modern discoveries in the realm of history.
It is at the same time insisted against Grotius that he did not give sufficient recognition to the main basis of the work of modern international jurists; to positive law, slowly built on the principles and practice of various nations in accordance with their definite agreements and adjustments.
I am also aware that one of the most deservedly eminent historians and publicists of the Netherlands during our own time has censured Grotius as the main source of the doctrine which founds hurnan rights upon an early social compact, and, therefore, as one who proposed the doctrines which have borne fruit in the writings of Rousseau and in various modern revolutions.
I might take issue with this statement; or I might fall back upon the claim that Grotius's theory has proved, at least, a serviceable provisional hypothesis; but this is neither the time nor the place to go fully into so great a question. Yet I may at least say that it would ill become me, as a representative of the United States, to impute to Grotius, as a fault, a theory out of which sprang the nationality of my country: a doctrine embodied in that Declaration of Independence which is this day read to thousands on thousands of assemblies in all parts of the United States, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.
But, however the Old World may differ from the New on this subject, may we not all agree that, whatever Grotius's responsibility for this doctrine may be, its evils would have been infinitely reduced could the men who developed it have caught his spirit,—his spirit of broad toleration, of wide sympathy, of wise moderation, of contempt for “the folly of extremes,” of search for the great principles which unite
rather than for the petty differences which separate them?
It has also been urged against Grotius that his interpretation of the words jus gentium? was a mistake, and that other
1 The right of nations, in other words, international law.
mistakes have flowed from this. Grant it; yet we, at a distance, believe that we see in it one of the happiest mistakes ever made; a mistake comparable in its fortunate results to that made by Columbus when he interpreted a statement in our sacred books, regarding the extent of the sea as compared with the land, to indicate that the western continent could not be far from Spain,--a mistake which probably more than anything else encouraged him to sail for the New World.
It is also not infrequently urged by eminent European writers that Grotius dwelt too little on what international law really was, and too much on what, in his opinion, it ought to be. This is but another form of an argument against him already stated. But is it certain, after all, that Grotius was Bo far wrong in this as some excellent jurists have thought him? May it not be that, in the not distant future, international law, while mainly basing its doctrines upon what nations have slowly developed in practice, may also draw inspiration more and more from “ that Power in the Universe, not ourselves, which makes for righteousness.
An American, recalling that greatest of all arbitrations yet known, the Geneva Arbitration of 1872, naturally attributes force to the reasoning of Grotius. The heavy damages which the United States asked at that time, and which Great Britain honorably paid, were justified mainly, if not wholly, not on the practice of nations then existing, but upon what it was claimed ought to be the practice; not upon positive law, but upon natural justice: and that decision forms one of the happiest landmarks in modern times; it ended all quarrel between the two nations concerned, and bound them together more firmly than ever.
But while there may be things in the life and work of Gro
tius which reveal themselves differently to those who study him from a near point of view and to those who behold him from afar, there are thoughts on which we may all unite, lessons which we may learn alike, and encouragements which may strengthen us all for the duties of this present hour.
For, as we now stand before these monuments, there come to us, not only glimpses of the irony of history, but a full view of the rewards of history. Resounding under these arches and echoing among these columns, prayer and praise have been heard for five hundred years.
Hither came, in hours of defeat and hours of victory, that mighty hero whose remains rest in yonder shrine and whose fame is part of the world's fairest heritage. But when, just after William the Silent had been laid in the vaults beneath our feet, Hugo de Groot, as a child, gazed with wonder on this grave of the father of his country, and when, in his boyhood, he here joined in prayer and praise and caught inspiration from the mighty dead, no man knew that in this beautiful boy, opening his eyes upon these scenes which we now behold, not only the Netherlands, but the whole human race, had cause for the greatest of thanksgivings.
And when, in perhaps the darkest hour of modern Europe, in 1625, his great book was born, yonder organ might well have pealed forth a most triumphant Te Deum; but no man recognized the blessing which in that hour had been vouchsafed to mankind: no voice of thanksgiving was heard.
But if the dead, as we fondly hope, live beyond the grave; if, undisturbed by earthly distractions, they are all the more observant of human affairs; if, freed from earthly trammels, their view of life in our lower world is illumined by that infinite light which streams from the source of all that is true