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THE following translation was made several years ago for my own private use, and without any intention of ever publishing it. But Mr. Hall, the editor of the American Law Journal, having expressed a wish to insert it in that valuable periodical work, I freely consented to it, having no other idea at the time but that it should appear there as an anonymous performance. The manuscript was accordingly handed over to the printers of the Journal, and the first ten chapters were printed off, without undergoing any other corrections but such as occurred in revising the proof sheets, to which I subjoined a few short notes as I went along.
But while I was engaged in that occupation, I felt my ancient attachment to a favourite author revive; the subject grew upon me; I gave an attentive revisal to the remainder of the manuscript, and added to it a more copious body of notes; and I now, with diffidence, venture to present the result of my labours in my name to my brethren of the American bar. It is, according to its first destination, published in and for the American Law Journal, and will be delivered to its subscribers as the third number of the third volume of that publication; but a sufficient number of copies will also be struck
off for such as may wish to possess it as a separate work.
I need not explain to those who are conversant with the works of my author, that his Quæstiones Juris Publici are divided into two parts, entirely distinct from and unconnected with each other, otherwise than by being published together under one title, and by their general relation to subjects of public law. The first part, De Rebus Bellicis, treats exclusively of the law of war, and forms of itself a complete treatise on that particular subject. I have thought it best, therefore, to translate and publish it separately, under its appropriate title, A Treatise on the Law of War.
To expatiate on the merits of this excellent work would be useless. It is known and admired wherever the law of nations is acknowledged to have a binding force. Its authority is confessed in the cabinets of princes, as well as in the halls of courts of justice: to be unacquainted with it, is a disgrace to the lawyer and to the statesman. It ranks its author among the great masters of the law of nature and nations, with Grotius, Puffendorff, Wolffius, and Vattel. His range is not indeed so extensive as that of his illustrious colleagues; but he has more profoundly investigated and more copiously discussed than any of them the particular branch which he assigned to himself.
It is extraordinary that a treatise, the merit of which is so generally acknowledged, has not as yet been translated into any of the modern languages (the Low Dutch excepted), and that the English, particularly, who profess to admire it so much, have not favoured the world with a good translation of it into our common idiom. For we cannot consider as such the incorrect and incomplete version which in the year 1759 was, by the help
of some interpolations, published by Mr. Richard Lee, as an original work, under the title of A Treatise of Captures in War, a second edition whereof appeared at London in 1803, in the preface to which the book is for the first time acknowledged to be an enlarged translation of the present work. The insufficiency of that performance to supply the place of our author's text is every where admitted; and the friends of science in this country have long expected that some of the learned civilians of Great Britain, a Robinson, a Ward, or a Brown, would present the world with an English translation of the treatise De Rebus Bellicis, executed in a manner worthy of its author. But this fond hope has unfortunately been disappointed.
No person has wished more anxiously than myself to see this translation performed by some one of the able professors whom I have just named, and who are so capable of doing it complete justice. Then my favourite author would have appeared in an English dress, with all the advantages which brilliant talents, combined with a profound knowledge of the science of which he treats, could have given him. The translation which I offer to the public cannot boast such high advantages; it claims no other merit but that of correctness, the only one which a translator cannot dispense with. To deserve this humble praise has been the object of my constant efforts. I have endeavoured to discover the precise English expressions which my author would have used, if he had written in our language. If sometimes I have shortened his long Ciceronian periods, and divided them into more convenient paragraphs; if sometimes, also, I have connected his phrases in a manner more suited, as I thought, to the idiom in which I wrote, I believe that I have done it without injury to the
sense. Where my author narrates, I have endeavoured to state with fidelity the facts and events that he relates; where he argues, to convey the full force of his able and luminous reasoning, and I was sensible that it could not be done better, than by keeping as close to the text as possible. I have but in few instances wandered from this strict plan, and only where our author treats of local subjects, of little or no interest to the American reader. Of the few other liberties, which I have thought necessary to take in the course of this work, it is proper that I should give an account in this place.
I have shortened the titles of the several chapters, which in the original are presented in the shape of queries, to suit the modest title of Questions, which is prefixed to the whole work. Considering this first part, as justly entitled to be considered a complete and regular treatise on the law of war, I have thought it my duty to present it as such to my readers, and to head its several divisions accordingly.
For the same reason, I have entitled the twenty fifth chapter, which in the original bears the title of “ Various Small Questions,” (Varia Quæstiuncula); MISCELLANEOUS MAXIMS AND OBSERVATIONS, for such they will appear to be; and I have headed each of the sections into which that chapter is divided, with the result of the observations that it contains, in the form of an axiom or aphorism, so that the reader may see at once the proposition which the author means to maintain or to illustrate in each of those subdivisions.
I have omitted the whole of the twenty third chapter and some parts of a few others, which are pointed out in notes in their several places, as treating of subjects which are local in their nature and application, and consequently, are neither useful nor interesting to us. I have, for the
same reason, left out a great number of the references, which our author frequently makes to the Dutch statute books, and to some other national works, little or not at all known in this country. I have, however, preserved few to some of the most noted among them, and particularly to Aitzema, whose Chronicle I consider as an excellent compilation of historical facts and documents, of which I have endeavoured to give a character in a note to page 15.
I have thrown into notes, in the fifteen last chapters, the numerous references which abound in the body of the original work. The first ten chapters being in the press, as I have already mentioned, when I began to revise this translation, I was prevented from doing the same with respect to them by the fear of giving to the printers too much additional trouble.
With regard to the notes which I have subjoined to the body of the work, and which, to distinguish them from those of the author, are marked T., they are principally intended to elucidate and explain the text. Our author often slightly refers to facts which were well known, and some of them even remembered in his day; frequently, also, he alludes to particular texts of the civil law, and to the opinions of writers whose works were familiar to the civilians of Europe and of his country, but are little read among us. In every such instance, whenever it has been in my power, I have presented the reader, in a note, with the text or passage referred to; and where that could not conveniently be done, I have given such explanations as I thought would best enable him clearly to understand the scope and meaning of the observations or arguments of our author.
As I progressed in the work, I have added some other notes, which exhibit a comparative view of the