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perfon of any of its members, has a juft claim to redrefs, and PART II. may make reprisals on the public, or on the perfons and effects CHAP. IV. of any or all the members of the offending nation.
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 diftruft; 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 de- · fence with which they are furnished at home. Their independance must cease 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 less 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 pre- SECT. V.
This may render the question of right and wrong between nations extremely complicated, and suspend or perplex the decisions of justice respecting 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 supposed to act on principles of mere defence; or at what precife point they may be faid to act offenfively, and to become aggressors 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 thofe iflands, 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.
In the quarrels of nations, therefore, much allowance is to be made for the mistake or misapprehenfion of parties, and even for the caution with which it is proper, in national councils, to guard against the claims of a rival, even if he should appear to be supported by juftice.
If one nation employ force in fupport of its claims, however just, the nation attacked is entitled to resist every attempt to reduce it under the power of another; and is not fafe, even in making a just conceffion, while its powers of defending itself are brought into hazard.
For these reasons, we may wave the question of justice, in the cause of a war, as depending on the actual circumftances of the particular cafe, and confider nations, acting without guile or premeditated malice of either fide, as entitled to the privileges of a fair defence.
The means of defence were, in a former section, referred to three feparate titles, perfuafion, ftratagem, and force.
The first, it was faid, may be employed among friends, and in obtaining a favour, as well as in repelling an injury. In cafes where it may be ufed with fuccefs, or where it may be fafe to warn an enemy of a claim, that may be fupported by force against him, it is no doubt required, that proper representations fhould be made, as the leaft hurtful means that can be employed in urging a claim of right.
The Romans, for the most part, by previous complaint and requifition of their right, proposed to fanctify their caufe, and to
give at least an appearance of justice to the hoftilities which they PART II. were about to commence. The manifefto and declaration of war, which generally precedes hoftilities in modern Europe, may be practifed with the fame effect; but they are not ftrictly required. by the law of nature, in every cafe whatever. A nation that has taken the advantage of furprife, in committing an injury, cannot complain if the fame advantage be taken of itself in making reprifals.
Declarations may operate merely as a warning to put the injurious party on his guard, and enable him the better to perfift in the wrong he has done, a fuppofition on which the practice is not at all neceffary, or derivable from any principle of natural justice.
Among nations, however, like thofe of Europe, in which the fubjects of different states are involved together in commercial connexions, and though innocent of any public wrong, are fo much exposed to fuffer by the errors of those who govern their refpective countries, it is at least humane, if not in strict law required, that a certain warning of their danger fhould precede the actual hoftilities by which they are expofed to fuffer, and of the causes of which they are perfectly innocent.
This confideration, it is hoped, may long recommend the practice of declaring war before the actual commencement of hoftilities, among the modern nations of Europe, who, indeed, by the continuance of it, and by custom, have given the expectation of it in fome measure the authority of convention or compact.