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in these respects, is matter of history, and admits of indefinite PART II. variations; but we are, in this place, to confider merely upon SECT. IV. what fuppofition the act of hoftility, in any one nation, may be juft; to what extent lawful hoftilities may be carried, or within what limits they are circumfcribed, even to nations who are entitled to use them in the highest degree: But, before we proceed to this principal object of difquifition, it is proper to confider queftions which relate particularly to the cafe of nations, as they are, in their manner of acting or fuffering, diftinguished from fingle
As the perfons of whom we are now to treat, include a plurality of individuals, having each a principle of will and activity centered in himfelf, as well as a common caufe, in which the members compofing the community may jointly act, or suffer in a body; two principal questions may arise concerning them: First, what actions, proceeding from the members of a community, are to be confidered as acts of the community itfelf? And, fecondly, In whose perfon may the community be fuppofed to receive an injury; and from whom, in case of an injury received, may the community exact repation?
To the first question, we may answer, That the fovereign of the state, of whatever defcription, whether a monarch or national affembly, is ever fuppofed to act for the community, and his actions are ever chargeable as actions of that body of which he is the head. In his title of fovereignty is implied a general substitution of his acts, for acts of that nation, of which the fupreme direction is committed to him. To this we may add, that the action of any individual, if employed by the fovereign, or commifVOL. II. PP fioned
PART II. fioned by the public fo to act, or if generally understood to act
But, as private citizens may offend against the peace of their own country, as well as against that of a foreign nation, ftates are not answerable for the offence of particular fubjects, farther than they previously authorise their conduct, or avow and protect the offender after the fact. Thus, pirates committing depredations on the high feas, are confidered as private criminals, and amenable to the penal laws of their own country, whilft letters of marque, or private ships of war, authorised by public commiffion, or publicly received into port with their prizes, and protected in the ufe of them, are juftly confidered as involving their country in the hoftilities they have committed, whether unlawful or juftly provoked.
To the fecond queftion, we may anfwer, That a nation may receive an injury in the perfon or effects of any citizen: That, in the cafe of wrongs fo received, the injured party may exact reparation, and make reprifals on the perfon or effects of any fubject or member of the injurious nation: And, in respect to both ques tions, it is evident, that as a nation may be chargeable with a wrong committed by any of its members, whether authorised or merely protected, fo the injurious nation may be coerced or forced to make reparation by means that immediately affect the private interest of any of its citizens, as well as by means that affect the community at large; in fomuch, that the law of defence, in its application to the cafe of nations, will bear, that a community injured, whether in any of its public interefts, or in the
perfon of any of its members, has a juft claim to redrefs, and PART II.
The fame Subject continued.
PART II. AS national councils are compofed of members differing in their opinions and difpofitions; and often fluctuating in their refolutions, according to the influence of contending parties, communities cannot be known to one another, as individuals are known, under any permanent character of tried affection and fidelity. Nations are, therefore, almost in every instance, mutual objects of jealoufy and distrust; and must think themselves safe so far only, as they are feverally in condition to maintain their respective rights. They must keep a watchful eye on the powers by which they may be annoyed from abroad, no less than attend to the means of defence with which they are furnished at home. Their independance must ceafe to exift, the moment it is held at the difcretion of any foreign power: what a neighbour, therefore, is about to gain, may be to them no lefs a fubject of alarm, than what they themselves are about to lofe; and a war may be justly under
taken, by one state, to check the dangerous progrefs of another; PART II. as well as to make any other provifion neceffary to its own preCHAP. IV.
This may render the question of right and wrong between nations extremely complicated, and fufpend or perplex the decifions of justice refpecting the caufe of a war.
In cases of manifest aggreffion the right of nations, like that of individuals, to defend themselves is obvious, and injustice in the first step of the war communicates a like character of wrong to every fucceeding operation in the conduct of it; but in questions of mere caution or distrust, it is difficult to determine how far one nation may justly oppofe the progress of another, and in doing fo be fuppofed to act on principles of mere defence; or at what precife point they may be faid to act offenfively, and to become aggreffors in any quarrel that may arife between them.
The Romans may have been vindicated in requiring the Carthaginans to evacuate Sicily and Sardinia, but not in taking poffeffion themselves of those islands, much less afterwards in requiring the Carthaginians to remove their city to an inconvenient distance from the fea.
In questions of this kind men of the greatest integrity may be partial to their own country, and fuch is the force with which nature has directed rival nations to pull against one another, that it would be dangerous in the councils of either to effect an impartial part; while an enemy is ftriking, the fword of a friend most not be held in fufpence.