« PreviousContinue »
former was said to have clothed no sinall part of England in mourning; and of the latter Bourienne exclaims, “How many wives and mothers in France could not, without a palpitating heart, break the cover of the official gazette! How many families lost their support and their hope! Never were more tears shed. In vain did the cannon of the Invalids thunder forth the announccment of a victory. How many thousands, in the silence of retirement, were even then preparing the external symbols of mourning! It is still remembered that for the long space of six months, the black dresses of Paris presented a very striking sight in every part of the city.”
Glance at one scene in the campaign of 1794-5. “We could not,' says an eye-witness, proceed a hundred yards without perceiving the dead bodies of men, women and children. One scene made an impression which time can never efface. Near a cart we saw a stout looking man, and a beautiful young woman with an infant about seven months old at the breast, all three frozen and dead! The mother must have expired in the act of suckling her child, as she lay on the drifted snow with one breast exposed, and the milk apparently drawn in a stream from the nipple by the babe, and instantly congealed. The infant seemed as if its lips had but just been disengaged, and its little head reposed on its mother's bosom with an overflow of milk frozen as it trickled from the mouth.'
There is another class of domestic sufferings from war at which decency blushes. I will not stain these pages with minute examples; but take a case of suicidal escape from such outrages. A subaltern officer in Russia, having conceived a passion for a fine looking peasant girl, used every art to win her affections; but, finding all his efforts ineffectual, he applied to the commanding officer who immediately issued an order for the couple to be forthwith joined in wedlock. The parents remonstrated, but in vain. The day fixed for the marriage arrived, and the boor accompanied his devoted daughter; but, just as the priest was about to legalize the union, the aged father, in a fit of desperation, plunged a knife into her heart, and, presenting her to the soldier, exclaimed, “there, sir, is your victim!'
How much do the poor in their humble abodes suffer from war! Take two cases of privateering related by the perpetrators themselves. These prizes are of little or no value to us,' remarks one,
because we can get nobody to purchase them; but the poor, unhappy people who lose them, have lost their all. It would need a heart of stone to see the sorrow painted on their countenances when brought on board. Some of them retire into corners, and weep like children. If you ask what is the matter, a flood of tears is the answer. Sometimes you will hear them sob out-My wife! my children! O what will become of them? I have been more than once obliged to avoid the affecting sight, unable to restrain my own tears, or to prevent theirs. It is far worse when a capture is made after an engagement—the mangled bodies of my fellowcreatures lying pale and breathless on the deck, some dying, and others begging me to put them out of their miseries, while a hungry dog is lapping up the blood that streams all about the ship!'• We were some ten miles from Marseilles,' says the narrator of the other case, 'when we saw a small vessel anchored in a parrow bay; and, fierce for prize-money, we manned a boat, and pushed forward till we came within pistol-shot of the craft, without seeing any one except an old woman seated in the door of a cottage at some distance. Just then a musket-shot from behind a rock laid our bowman a corpse, another disabled our Inarine, a third tore his cravat from the lieutenant's neck, and a fourth crippled the coxswain's arm. Still we saw no one; and, exasperated by these discharges, we gave three cheers, and, pulling for the place whence they seemed to come, saw at length a man and a boy running from us. We interchanged several shots in vain, until the lieutenant, resting his musket on a rock, shot the child while in the act of handing a cartridge to the man. The father instantly threw down his musket, and fell by the side of his son. We seized his musket; but he paid no attention to us. When we bade him follow us, he heeded us not; but, with the child's head in his lap, he kept wiping away the blood that oozed from the wound in his forehead, and neither wept nor spoke, but watched the last chilling shiver of his boy with an eye of inexpressible sadness. Then he jumped from the ground with a frantic air; the marine brought his bayonet to the charge, and the miserable father tried to run upon its point; but the marine, dropping his musket, encircled him in his arms. We desired him to lead us to the cottage. The marine carried the corpse, and the father walked by its side in silence, till we suddenly came upon the rear of the cottage. The old woman was still at her wheel, and, on discovering her son a prisoner, gave a shriek which announced to a lovely female in the but that something painful had occurred. She rushed to assist her mother-her eye fell first upon her dead son in the arms of an enemy; and, seizing the bov, she tore him from the marine, kissed him more like a maniac than a mother, and, giving one deep, piercing sigh, fell at her mother's feet. We could stand it no longer, and has. tened away; but that scene I can never blot from my memory.
The late English war in China furnishes some revolting instances of the domestic desolation consequent on this trade of blood. In almost every house the children had been madly murdered. The bodies of most of these victims were found lying usually in the chambers of the women, as if each father had assembled his whole family before the massacre; in some instances these poor little sufferers were the next day still breathing, and writhing in the agony of a broken spine; the way in which they were usually pot to death. In one house were found in a single room the bodies of seven dead and dying persons. It was evidently the abode of a man of some consideration; and the delicate forms and features of the sufferers indicated the high elevation of their rank. On the floor, essaying in vain to put food into the mouths of two young children that were writhing in the agonies of death from dislocated spines, sat a decrepit old man, weeping bitterly at the piteous moans and convulsive breathings of the poor infants. On a bed near these children, lay a beautiful young woman apparently asleep; but she was cold, and had long been dead. One arm clasped her neck, over which a silk scarf was thrown to con. ceal the gash in her throat which had destroyed life. Near her was the corpse of a woman somewhat older, her features distorted as if she had died by strangulation; not far from her lay a dead child stabbed through the neck; and in a narrow verandah adjoining, were the corpses of two more women suspended by their necks from the rafters. They were both young, one quite a girl ; and her features, in spite of their hideous distortion from the mode of her death, still retained traces of their original beauty.'
Let us select two instances from the war of our own revolution. A state of fierce, almost savage exasperation existed between the whigs and tories; and a party of the latter, on capturing a Capt. Huddy from New Jersey, barbarously hung him with an insulting label on his bosom. This excited general indignation, and the people of that state urged Washington to secure justice for the murder, or make retaliation. A grand council of war held on the subject, came to the unanimous conclusion, that there should be retaliation, that the victim should be of equal rank with Capt. Huddy, and be designated by lot. The lot fell on Capt. Asgill, a young man of nineteen, the only son of a British nobleman. When the tidings, which interested many in his fate, reached England, his sister was sick with a delirious fever, and his father so near his end that his family did not venture to inform him of the affair. The mother applied to the king and queen in behalf of her son, and wrote an impassioned letter to the French minister. The subject,' says she, on which I implore your assistance, is too heart-rending to be dwelt on. My son, my only son, dear to me as he is brave, amiable as he is beloved, only nineteen years of age, a prisoner of war, is at present confined in America as an object of reprisal. Figure to yourself, sir, the situation of a family in these circumstances. Surrounded with objects of distress, bowed down with grief, words are wanting to paint the scenes of misery around me. My husband given over by his physicians some hours before the arrival of this news, not in a condition to be informed of it; and my daughter attacked by a delirious fever, and speaking of her brother in tones of wildness without any interval of reason, unless it be to listen to some circumstances which may console her heart. Let your own sensibility conceive my profound, inexpressible misery, and plead in my favor for a son born to abundance, to independence, and the happiest prospects. Permit me once more to entreat your interference; but, whether my request be granted or not, I am confident you will pity the distress by which it is prompted, and your humanity will drop a tear on my fault, and blot it out forever.'
The other case is still more touching. Col. Hayne, of South Carolina, a man of high character, endeared to all that knew his worth, and bound fast to life by six small children, and a wife tenderly beloved, was taken prisoner by the British, and sentenced to
be hung! His wife, falling a victim to disease and grief combined, did not live to plead for her husband; but great and generous efforts were made for his rescue. A large number, both Americans and Englishmen, interceded in his behalf; the ladies of Charleston signed a petition for his release; and his six motherless cbil. dren were presented on their knees as humble suitors for the life of their father. It was all in vain; for war has no heart but of iron. His eldest son, a lad about thirteen years old, was permitted, as a special favor, to stay with him awhile in prison. On seeing his father loaded with irons, and condemned to die on the gallows, the poor boy was overwhelmed with consternation and grief. The wretched father tried to console him by various considerations, and added, "to-morrow, my son, I set out for immortality; you will follow me to the place of my execution; and, when I am dead, take my body, and bury it by the side of your dear mother. Overcome by this appeal, the boy threw his arms around his father's neck, crying, “O my father, I'll die with you! I will die with you, father!' The wretched father, still loaded down with irons, was unable to return his son's embrace, and merely said in reply, ‘no, my son, never! Live to honor God by a good life; live to serve your country, and to take care of your brother and little sisters.
The next morning, Col. Hayne was led forth to execution. That fond and faithful boy accompanied him; and, when they came in sight of the gallows, the father turned to him, and said, now, my son, show yourself a man. That tree is the boundary of my life, and all its sorrows. Beyond that, the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are forever at rest. Don't, my son, lay our separation too much at heart; it will be short at longest. It was but the other day your dear mother died; to-day I die ; and you, my son, though young, must follow us shortly. Yes, my father,' replied the broken-hearted boy, 'I shall follow you shortly; for I feel indeed that I can't, can't live long. And so it was ; for, on seeing his much-loved father first in the hands of the executioner, and then struggling in the halter from the gallows, he stood transfixed with horror. Till then he had all along wept profusely as some relief to his agonized feelings; but that sight! it dried up the fountain of his tears ;-he never wept again. His reason reeled on the spot; he became an incurable maniac; and in his last moments, he called out, and kept calling out for his father in tones that drew tears from the hardest hearts.
Such is the influence of war on domestic happiness. And must its baleful ravages still continue ? Shall such a fiend from hell be permitted to prowl in pollution, blood and tears over this only Eden of earth ? Husbands and fathers, wives and mothers, sons and brothers, sisters and daughters! will you make no vigorous, determined, persevering efforts to banish from Christendom, if not from the whole world, this deadliest foe to your present and immortal welfare ?
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.
PLAIN SKETCHES OF WAR.
BY R. P. STEBBINS,
WAR is acknowledged by most to be one of the greatest evils; but still there is upon this subject a carelessness truly alarming. When the tocsin is sounded, and our fathers and brothers are giving us their last farewell, then we weep; but it is too late for repentance. We must not wait till the day of trial comes, before we prepare to meet it. We must adopt the motto of the warrior, as we do his other principles, by inversion : “in time of peace prepare for PEACE.”
But how shall we prepare for peace ? Spend the money, now squandered for warlike preparations, in educating the people. Better, if we would keep peace, sell our arsenals and muskets, our war-ships and swords, and buy spelling-books, and turn our generals and commodores into school-masters, than increase our army and navy. To prevent war, be unprepared for it; so when the passions are up, they will have time to subside ere we can act. A war-like spirit and preparation is the most active and deadly foe of peace. Who is the peaceful man,-he who carries his dirk and pistols, or he who is unarmed, and careful in the discharge of his duties? In what neighborhood would you prefer to live for safety's sake;-in that where knives and dirks were worn and used or in that where no such weapons were named or known? The spirit of war, the military spirit, is the one which will plunge us into blood.
The advocates for war dare not impose for its support a direct tax upon the people. They would not bear it; they would rebel; and their rebellion would be as justifiable as the war they are indirectly taxed to pay for. But this draining of our pockets does not come to us in the revolting shape of a tax. It sweetens our tea, smokes in our coffee, pleases in our books, adorns and warms in our vestinents. We never think that we are paying more than the real value of the article bought, when we make a purchase. This is the reason why war is thought by so many to be a money-making business. But the cost is none the less real, nor the destruction of property any the less deplorable, for not being directly perceived. Since the commencement of the Revolution we have expended (1836) $450,000,000 for war and warlike preparations, and only $90,000,000 for civil purposes. If a direct tax was imposed upon us for our warlike preparations, our navies and arms would be sunk in the depths of the ocean to-morrow.
The national debt of England is nearly four thousand millions of dollars; a debt produced by war. The interest on that debt, and the parts of it which have been liquidated, amount to more than
P.'T. NO. LIII.