CHAPTER 24: On Tacit Faith.
Tacit faith — Example of in desiring to be taken under the
protection of a king or nation — Implied in the demand or grant of a
conference — Allowable for the party seeking it to promote his own
interest thereby provided he uses no treachery — Meaning of mute signs
allowed by custom.
I. BOTH public, private, and mixed, conventions admit of tacit
consent, which is allowed by custom. For in whatever manner consent is
indicated and accepted it has the power of conveying a right. And, as it has
been frequently observed in the course of this treatise, there are other signs
of consent besides words and letters: some of them indeed naturally rising out
of the action itself.
II. An example of such tacit agreement may be found in the case of a
person coming from an enemy, or foreign country, and surrendering himself to
the good faith of another king or people. For such a one tacitly binds himself
to do nothing injurious or treacherous to that state, where he seeks
protection, a point which is beyond all doubt.
III. In the same manner, a person who grants or requests a
conference, gives a tacit promise, that he will do nothing prejudicial to the
parties, who attend it. Livy pronounces an injury done to an enemy, under the
pretext of holding a conference, a violation of the law of nations.
IV. But such a tacit promise, to take no advantage of a parley or
conference, is not to be carried farther than what has been said. Provided all
injury and injustice are avoided, it is reckoned a lawful stratagem, for any
one to avail himself of a parley in order to draw off the enemy's attention
from his military projects, and to promote his own. The device, by which
Asdrubal extricated his army from the Ausetanian forests, was of this kind, and
by the same means Scipio Africanus, the elder, gained a perfect knowledge of
Syphax's camp. Both these circumstances are related by Livy.
V. There are certain mute signs, deriving all their force and meaning
from custom; such as the fillets, and branches of olive formerly used: among
the Macedonians pikes erected, and among the Romans shields placed upon the
head, were signs of a suppliant surrender obliging the party to lay down his
arms. In the present day a white flag is a sign of suing for a parley.
Therefore all these methods have the force of express declarations.
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