Page images
PDF
EPUB

the instrument of punishment, very heavy. After he had received the hundred lashes, or nine hundred stripes, his back presented a mangled appearance, and the blood poured down his person.

“As soon as the first man left the square, the second man, Slade, a much slighter person than the other, was called to the front. He was sentenced to receive one hundred and fifty lashes, or one thousand three hundred and fifty stripes. It was evident he did not possess the nerve of the other man; he shook so violently that he was scarcely able to pull his jacket off, and his terror was evident to all. Upon being tied up, he shook from head to foot; and the moment he was struck, he began to shriek loudly, and earnestly called out 'mercy, mercy!' which were heard very distinctly all over the Tower. The cat fell with double force on his back, owing to its being wetted with the blood of the other man. Slade no sooner began to call out than the drums were beaten to stifle his cries, and re-echoed among the walls. When about seventy or eighty lashes had been inflicted, the poor fellow's head fell on his shoulder, and it was supposed he had fainted; but such was not the case, as the commanding officer walked up to the triangle, and on looking him in the face, he ordered the drummer to proceed. At this time, with the exception of the drummers who were selected to flog, it took all the others to secure him, his back being literally cut to pieces from his neck to his loins. His cries for mercy were unavailing, until one hundred lashes had been inflicted, when it was found he was unable to bear any more. He was led away between two of his comrades, a truly shocking spectacle of suffering humanity. Several men fainted away; and we could mention the names of several officers who did have humanity enough to loosen the stocks and coats of several privates. Many clerks and others of the ordnance department, witnessed part of the punishment, but, to use their own words, were unable to stand it out. The lady of the resident governor happened to go to her window, and, hearing the cries of Slade, fell into hysterics, and the whole family were for some time in great confusion. Several respectable civilians expressed their indignation, and said they would not live in the Tower, if such scenes were repeated.”

In other countries, military punishments are often still more barbarous; but I will quote only a single case similar to those of England and the United States. “Shortly,” says Campbell, writing from Algiers, “after we reached the ground where the French deserter's fate was to be enacted. From the prison-gate we saw come forth a company, their drums muffiled with crape, and the victim in the centre on foot, followed by the horse and cart that were to carry back his dead body. After his sentence had been read by the commanding officer, he made his last speech to the troops, more than a thousand in number, drawn up around him: 'Comrades, what my sentence of death has told you is all true, except that it has unjustly called me the chief conspirator in this late desertion. For I seduced nobody into it; on the contrary, I was persuaded into it by others. The motive of my crime was merely an intense desire to see my father's family in Italy; and now

blood is to be shed, and my brains scattered on the ground, because my heart yearned for a sight of my brothers and sisters! Soldiers who are to shoot me, do your duty quickly, and do not keep me in torment.'

“He then stepped forward some paces; eleven musket shots laid him low, though he jumped up before he fell, when the balls pierced him; the twelfth soldier, going up to him as he lay on the ground, fired close into his head. You will not wonder that my tears at this crisis blinded me; and when I denied them, I could not see the victim. I said to Lagondie, Where is he?' 'Look there,' he answered, pointing with his finger; don't you see a red stripe on the ground ?' And sure enough I saw it; his red pantaloons made one part of the stripe, and his bleeding head and body the other. All the troops defiled around him. We came down to the spot; but before we reached it, the body had been removed in a cart, and nothing remained but some blood and brains, and a portion of his skull.”

These examples will speak for themselves; but I must beg the reader to note a few points—the frequency, as well as the excessive severity of these punishments; the slight offences for which many of them were inflicted; the despotic power vested in officers; the exposure of privates without a screen to the fury of their passions; the utter want in most cases of a fair trial, or any trial at all; and the impossibility of obtaining any redress even for the most outrageous cruelties practised upon them by superiors.

Nor can it be said that these enormities are foreign or obsolete; for every one of the foregoing examples has been taken from the nineteenth century, and from the most enlightened nations in Christendom! They are inseparable from war; some of the very writers I have quoted, plead their necessity as a justification of their severity ; and, if we wish an end put to such brutal outrages, we must abolish the whole war-system.

In the name, then, of religion and humanity, we ask if a custom which legalizes such savage barbarities, and in the very heart of Christendom, insists, even under the blaze of the nineteenth century, that it cannot exist without them, shall be continued by men calling themselves worshippers of a God of love, and followers of the Prince of peace! Shall baptized poetry and eloquence still eulogize this offspring of a pagan barbarism ? Shall the press stiil fawn upon it, and the pulpit still justify it, and real Christians lend it the support of their example, and the sanction of their prayers ? Will pious parents train up their own sons for the service of such a Juggernaut? Will the young in their thoughtlessness, or the unfortunate in their desperation, expose themselves, as they must by enlistment, to the certainty of such despotic and brutal treatment through life? Will men of any sense or selfrespect much longer lend themselves as its victims or its tools ? Christianity, civilization, humanity, common sense, and common decency, all, all answer, no, no.

AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.

ERASMUS ON WAR.

If there is in the affairs of mortal men any one thing which it is proper uniformly to explode, and incumbent on every man by ev, ery lawful means to avoid, to deprecate, to oppose, that one thing is doubtless WAR. There is nothing more unnaturally wicked, more productive of misery, more extensively destructive, more obstinate in mischief, more unworthy of man, as formed by nature, much more of man professing Christianity. Yet, wonderful to relate! war is undertaken, and cruelly, savagely conducted, not only by unbelievers, but by Christians. Nor are there ever wanting men learned in the law, and even divines, who are ready to fure nish firebrands for the nefarious work, and to fan the latent sparks into a flame. Hence war is considered so much a thing of course, that the wonder is, how any man can disapprove of it; so much sanctioned by authority and custom, that it is deemed impious to have borne testimony against a practice in its principle most profligate, and in its effects pregnant with every kind of calamity.

If any one considers the organization and external figure of the body, will he not instantly perceive that Nature, or rather the God of Nature, created the human animal not for war, but for love and friendship; not for mutual destruction, but for mutual service and safety; not to commit injuries, but for acts of reciprocal beneficence ? Man she brought into the world naked, weak, tender, unarmed, his flesh of the softest texture, his skin smooth, delicate, and susceptible of the slightest injury. There is nothing observable in his limbs adapted to fighting, or to violence. Unable either to speak or walk, or help himself to food, he can implore relief only by tears and wailing; so that from this circumstance alone might be collected, that man is an animal born for that love and friendship which is formed and cemented by the mutual interchange of benevolent offices. Moreover, Nature evidently intended that man should consider himself indebted for the boon of life, not so much to herself as to the kindness of his fellow man; that he might perceive himself designed for social affections, and the attachments of friendship and love. Then she gave him a countenance not frightful and forbidding, but mild and placid, imitating by external signs the benignity of his disposition. She gave him eyes full of affectionate expression, the indexes of a mind delighting in social sympathy. She gave him arms to embrace his fellow creatures. She gave him lips to express a union of heart and soul. She gave him alone the power of laughing, a mark of the joy of which he is susceptible. She gave him tears, the symbol of clemency and compassion. She gave him also a voice, not a menacing and frightful yell, but bland, soothing and friendly. Not satisfied

P. T. NO. IX.

with these marks of her peculiar favor, she bestowed on him alone the use of speech and reason; a gift which tends more than any other to conciliate and cherish benevolence, and a desire of rendering mutual services; so that nothing among human creatures might be done by violence. She implanted in man a hatred of solitude, and a love of company. She sowed in his heart the seeds of every benevolent affection, and thus rendered what is most salutary, at the same time most agreeable.

Now view with the eyes of your imagination, savage troops of men, horrible in their very visages and voices; men clad in steel, drawn up on every side in battle array, armed with weapons, frightful in their crash and their very glitter; mark the horrid murmur of the confused multitude, their threatening eye-balls, the harsh jarring din of drums and clarions, the terrific sound of the trumpet, the thunder of the cannon, a noise not less formidable than the real thunder of heaven, and more hurtful, a mad.shout like that of the shrieks of Bedlamites, a furious onset, a cruel butchering of each other! See the slaughtered and the slaughtering! heaps of dead bodies, fields flowing with blood, rivers reddened with human gore! .. Meanwhile I pass over the corn-fields trodden down, peaceful cottages and rural mansions burnt to the ground, villages and towns reduced to ashes, the cattle driven from their pasture, innocent women violated, old men dragged into captivity, churches defaced and demolished, every thing laid waste, a prey to robbery, plunder and violence! Not to mention the consequences ensuing to the people after a war even the most fortunate in its event, the poor, unoffending common people robbed of their little hardearned property; the great laden with taxes; old people bereaved of their children, more cruelly killed by the murder of their offspring, than by the sword, happier if the enemy had deprived them of the sense of their misfortune, and life itself, at the same moment; women far advanced in age, left destitute, and more cruelly put to death, than if they had died at once by the point of the bayonet; widowed mothers, orphan children, houses of mourning, and families, that once knew better days, reduced to extreme penury.

Peace is at once the mother and the nurse of all that is good for man; war, on a sudden, and at one stroke, overwhelms, extinguishes, abolishes, whatever is cheerful, whatever is happy and beautiful, and pours a foul torrent of disasters on the life of mortals. Peace shines upon human affairs like the vernal sun. The fields are cultivated, the gardens bloom, the cattle are fed upon a thousand hills, new buildings arise, riches flow, pleasures smile, humanity and charity increase, arts and manufactures feel the genial warmth of encouragement, and the gains of the poor are more plentiful. But no sooner does the storm of war begin to lower, than what a deluge of miseries and misfortune seizes, inundates, and overwhelms all things within the sphere of its action! The flocks are scattered, the harvest trampled, the husbandman butchered, villas and villages burnt, cities and states that have been ages rising to their flourishing state, subverted by the fury of one tempest, the storm of war. So much easier is the task of doing harm than of doing good; of destroying than of building up!

To these considerations add, that the advantages derived from peace diffuse themselves far and wide, and reach great numbers ; while in war, if any thing turns out happily, the advantage redounds only to a few, and those unworthy of reaping it. One man's safety is owing to the destruction of another. One man's prize is derived from the plunder of another. The cause of rejoicings made by one side, is to the other a cause of mourning. Whatever is unfortunate in war is severely so indeed, and whatever, on the contrary, is called good fortune, is a savage and a cruel good fortune, an ungenerous happiness, deriving its existence from another's wo. Indeed, at the conclusion, it commonly happens that both sides, the victorious and the vanquished, have cause to deplore. I know not whether any war ever succeeded so fortunately in all its events, but that the conqueror, if he had a heart to feel, or an understanding to judge, as he ought to do, repented that he ever engaged in it at all.

Such and so great are the evils which are submitted to, in order to accomplish an end, itself a greater evil than all that have preceded in preparation for it. We thus afflict ourselves for the noble end of enabling ourselves to afflict others. If we were to calculate the matter fairly, and form a just computation of the cost attending war, and that of procuring peace, we should find that peace might be purchased at a tenth part of the cares, labors, troubles, dangers, expenses, and blood, which it costs to carry on a war. But the object is to do all possible injury to an enemy! A most inhuman object! and consider, whether you can hurt him essentially without hurting, by the same means, your own people. It surely is to act like a madman to take to yourself so large a portion of certain evil, when it must ever be uncertain how the die of war may fall in the ultimate issue.

Where are there so many and so sacred obligations to perfect concord, as in the Christian religion? Where so numerous exhortations to peace? One law Jesus Christ claimed as his own peculiar law; it was the law of love or charity. What practice among mankind violates this law so grossly as war ? Examine every part of his doctrine, you will find nothing that does not breathe peace, speak the language of love, and savor of charity; and as he knew that peace could not be preserved unless those objects for which the world contends with the sword's point were considered as vile and contemptible, he ordered us to learn of him to be meek and lowly. He pronounced those happy who held riches in no esteem. He prohibited resistance of evil. In short, as the whole of his doctrine recommended forbearance and love, so his life taught nothing but mildness, gentleness, and kind affection. Nor do the apostles inculcate any other doctrine; they who had imbibed the purest spirit of Christ, and were filled with sacred : draughts from the fountain head. What do all the epistles of

« PreviousContinue »