« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
requiring nations to act upon it, and assembling them together in their acknowledged capacity of friends and brothers for the purpose of amicable discussion, that we can find a remedy for the evils complained of. In other words the body, suitable for this great object, seems to be the representatives or diplomatic agents of nations, met together in an International Congress.
OBJECTIONS TO THE PROPOSED CONGRESS.
Even if it should be admitted, that there is abundant occasion for improvements in national intercourse, and that the existing means of such improvement are inadequate; various objections to the proposed Congress of nations will not fail to present themselves. This is an ordeal, from which no untried measure can expect to escape : the judicious will propose them on grounds of prudence, and the timid from fear; and on the whole it is not desirable that it should be otherwise. A good measure will of course bear examination ; and it is not desirable, that a bad one, which has been ascertained to be so by inquiry, should undergo the trial of an actual experiment.
1,_One objection is, that the proposed Congress, not being invested with legislative and judicial authori. ty or with the means of enforcing obedience, must ne
cessarily be advisory merely, and will of course fail of its object. An obvious remark on this objection is, that it would have applied at any former period better than the present. It is one of the honorable characteristics of the present age, that there is an increased disposition to substitute reason for violence, and the logic of good advice for that of blows and bloodshed. But further, this objection seems to imply too limited a view of the business of the Congress. Their business would be partly diploniatic; propositions for treaty arrangements could be made and discussed, under the most favorable circumstances, by the representatives of different nations ; the bearings of such arrangements on other nations could be promptly ascertained, and the treaties could be concluded with less perplexity and hindrance than at present. In this respect what might be done at the Congress could not be properly considered as merely advisory, although their doings would undoubtedly be subject to the ratification of their respective governments. Not only this, they would necessarily be a great court of reference. Existing differences, in the shape of contested boundaries, conflicting constructions of international law, and the like, would from time to time be submitted by agreement for their adjustment. And their decisions would be more or less binding according to the terms and conditions, under which the reference was made. In other respects their measures would undoubtedly be in a good measure deliberative and advisory, tending to enlighten the dark places of public law, and to point out to nations the path, which reason, benevolence, and religion precribe. But would they, therefore, be necessarily less efficacious ? Were the reasonings of Grotius, Puffendorf, and Bynkershoek any thing more than advisory? Where were their fleets and armies, the neighing of horses, and the warriors clothed in blood, to enforce the
public code which they promulgated ? They went forth, like the first preachers of the Gospel, armed with the rectitude of their cause. They spoke in the name of reason and humanity, and powerful nations bowed at their voice. If individuals could do so much, what can not a Congress of nations do, with the increased influence, which will necessarily attach to their position ?
II,It may be further objected, that the interests of truth and justice will not be secured, in consequence of the undue prevalence of national partialities and predilections. We do not pretend to deny, that there is some weight in this objection; and we will even admit, that intrigues and cabals may be expected to exist at times, and that occasionally the claims of justice will be outraged,and the ends of justice frustrated. On every side there are too many evidences of human delinquency pressing on our attention, to permit us to anticipate otherwise. And yet we apprehend, that this objection intimates to us merely an incidental evil, what logicians might call a FALLACIA ACCIDENTIS ; and that it no more proves the actual impracticability and inutility of a Congress of nations, than the conflicts of different sects and the cruelties of persecution prove the inutility of the Christian religion, whose benefits for a single day outweigh the accidental evils connected with it for an hundred years. The history of the successive Congresses, that have been held, tends to confirm what has now been asserted. Undoubtedly cabals have existed and intrigues have been practised; and still Congress after Congress has been held, in the firm belief, notwithstanding the various incidental perplexities, that they furnished the readiest, and perhaps the only practicable method of settling existing difficulties. Sovereigns and nations have consented to take the good and the evil together; and have not been willing to reject the benefit, because with the gold there happened to be some admixture of alloy.
III,-Again, it may be further objected that the organization of the proposed Congress will be found difficult and perhaps impracticable, in consequence of the great inequality of the nations proposed to be represented in it.-As the nations represented in it are all independent, the smaller States would naturally claim an equal vote with others, however superior they might be in power and influence; and we could not rationally expect the great powers would consent to such an arrangement, which would place in the hands of their inferiors the decision of questions involving the most important consequences. But the difficulty, though a serious one, is not insuperable. The Achæan and Amphictyonic leagues, the German confederacy, the Swiss Cantons, the Republic of the Netherlands, the United States, and the successive international Congresses of Europe, have all met this precise perplexity, and at different times and in different ways, have solved it. We may be assured, therefore, that the solution will, in no circumstances whatever, be above the ingenuity of men, who come to the task with a disposition to promote the general rather than the partial good. And such a disposition, to some extent at least, seems to be implied in the very idea of a Congress; for it will undoubtedly owe its existence, whenever it shall have one, to the greater prevalence of the conviction, that the time has come for a more decided subjection of such partial interests to the general welfare. This favorable disposition will be aided in the removal of difficulties of this kind, by the consideration that the Congress will be essentially consultative, deliberative, and diplomatic, rather than legislative; that it will sit as the expositor of human reason and the friend of human happiness, rather than in the character of a Jupiter TONANS, scattering his thunderbolts and shaking Olympus with his nod.
IV, Without delaying to answer all the objections which may be made, we will further remark briefly upon the following, viz, that the results of Congresses hitherto have not been beneficial, and in some cases positively injurious.—We admit the force of this objection to a certain extent. Vattel speaks of two Congresses, that of Cambray and that of Soissons as useless, as being mere political farces, and undoubtedly some other instances of the like kind could be named. But we ought to remember, in attempting to estimate this objection, that, within two centuries, about forty Congresses, on a greater or less scale, have been held in Europe for terminating wars, settling boundaries, and other international objects. Now that some have failed of their object, and have been broken up before the conferences led to any result, as was the case at Cologne in 1673, or that erroneous principles may have been sometimes promulgated, as was recently done at Laybach, we do not think it worth while to deny.-We assert, however, which we feel ourselves entitled to do with perfect confidence, that such instances are few in comparison with the whole number; and though many of them were held at a comparatively unenlightened period, and often aniid the clash of arms, and for limited and partial purposes, they have nevertheless been of incalculable benefit. We might illustrate and confirm our assertion by instancing the Congress of Breda in 1667, and that of Utrecht in 1712; but as events so far back would require many things in explanation, we shall merely refer to a recent instance of this kind, which is too well recollected to require any minute and protracted remarks ; we mean the recent Conference or Congress of London, which had the disturbed affairs of Holland and Belgium under its arbitrement. It will be recollected that, in August of 1830, the Belgian provinces, forming a part of the kingdom of the