« PreviousContinue »
Paul resound with but PEACE, long-suffering, charity? What else do all the writers in the world who are truly Christian?
But let us observe how Christians defend the madness of war. If, say they, war had been absolutely unlawful, God would not have excited the Jews to wage war against their enemies. But the Jews scarcely ever waged war, as the Christians do, against each other, but against aliens and infidels; we Christians draw the sword against Christians; they fought at the erpress command of God; we at the command of our own passions.
But even Christians urge, that the laws of nature, of society, of custom and usage, conspire to dictate the propriety of repelling force by force, and defending life, and money too. So much I allow. But Gospel Grace, of more force than all these laws, declares in decisive words, that we must do good to those who use us ill, and should also pray for those who design to take away our lives. All this, they tell us, had a particular reference to the apostles; but I contend that it also refers to all Christian people.
They also argue that, as it is lawful to inflict punishment on an individual delinquent, it must be lawful to take vengeance on an offending State. The full answer to be given to this argument would involve me in greater prolixity than is now requisite; and I will only say, that the two cases differ widely in this respect: He who is convicted judicially, suffers the punishment which the laros impose; but in war, each side treats the other as guilty, and proceeds to inflict punishment, regardless of law, judge or jury. In the former case, the evil falls only on him who committed the wrong; in the latter case, the greatest part of the numerous evils falls on those who deserve no evil at all,-on husbandmen, on old people, on mothers, on orphans and defenceless females.
But the objector repeats, “ Why may I not go and cut the throats of those who would cut our throats, if they could ?” Do you then deem it a disgrace that any should be more wicked than yourself? Why do you not go and rob thieves? They would rob you, if they could. Why do you not revile them that revile you? Why do you not hate them that hate you? Do you consider it as a noble exploit for a Christian, having killed in war those whom he thinks wicked, but who still are men for whom Christ died, thus to offer up victims most acceptable to the Devil, and to delight that grand enemy in two respects, first, that a man is slain at all, and next, that the man who slew, is a Christian?
If the Christian religion be a fable, why do we not honestly and openly explode it? Why do we glory in its name? But if Christ is “the way, the truth, and the life,” why do all our plans of conduct differ so far from his instructions and example? If we acknowledge Christ to be our Lord and Master, who is love itself, and who taught nothing but love and peace, let us exhibit his model in our lives and conversation. Let us adopt the love of peace, that Christ may recognize his own, even as we recognize hire to be the Teacher of Peace.
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.
THE RUSSIAN CAMPAIGN,
SPECIMENS OF WAR AMONG NOMINAL CHRISTIANS IN THE
NAPOLEON's career was a pretty fair illustration of war among civilized, nominally Christian men; and from his last great campaign (1812) in Russia, we may learn what war ever has been, and ever must be-a mass of evils, a tissue of suffering and wo to nearly all concerned, to the victors as well as the vanquished. The events of that campaign were recorded on the spot by many eye-witnesses; and Labaume, from whose narrative most of the following statements are taken, himself one of the actors in that long and terrible tragedy, says, “it was by the light of burning Moscow that I described the pillage of that city; it was on the banks of the Berezina that I traced the narrative of that fatal passage. It is scarcely possible to conceive the difficulties I had to surmount, in making my memoranda. Compelled to struggle with the most imperious necessity, benumbed with cold, and tormented with hunger, I was a prey to every kind of suffering. Uncertain, at the rising of the sun, whether I should see his setting rays, and in the evening doubtful of witnessing another day, every thought was absorbed in the desire of living to preserve the remembrance of what I had seen. Animated by this feeling, I wrote the events of the day every evening, before a bad fire, under a temperature twenty degrees below the freezing point, and surrounded by the dying and the dead. I made my pens from the quills of the raven, with the same knife that I used in cutting up horse-flesh for my food; and a little gunpowder, mixed up in the hollow of my hand with melted snow, supplied the place of ink and inkstand.”
For this grand enterprize, designed to be the crowning one of his life, Napoleon had mustered full half a million of men, no less, according to some writers of credit, than 494,000 effective troops; nor is it a high estimate to suppose, that a million, if not more, were engaged on both sides as combatants in that desperate and disastrous struggle. On the 22d of June, he issued from Wilkowiski his proclamation of war; but, passing over the two first months of the campaign, we will quote a few specimens of its subsequent progress :
SMOLENSK.--After an obstinate battle, (Aug. 19,) the Russians set fire to the city, and retreated, leaving the streets and squares covered with their dead and wounded. “The next day," says Labaume, “we entered Smolensk by the suburb on the bank of the river, marching in every direction over ruins and dead bodies. The palaces still burning, presented to our view only walls half
P. T. NO. X.
destroyed by the flames; and thick among the smoking fragments lay the blackened carcasses of the inhabitants who had perished in the fire. The soldiers had taken possession of the few remaining houses, whilst the proprietor, bereft of an asylum, stood at his door, weeping the death of his children, and the loss of his fortune. The churches alone afforded some consolation to the wretched beings who had no longer a shelter. The cathedral, celebrated throughout Europe, and highly venerated by the Russians, became the refuge of those who had escaped the conflagration. In this church, and around its altars, lay whole families stretched upon rags. Here we saw an old man in the agonies of death, casting his last look towards the image of the saint whom he had all his life invoked ; and there, an infant whose cries the mother, worn down with grief, was endeavoring to hush, and, as she gave it the breast, bathed it in her tears.”
BORODINO.-" Before day-break, (Sept. 7,) the two armies were drawn up in order of battle. Two hundred and sixty thousand men waited, in awful suspense, the signal to engage. At six o'clock, the thunder of the artillery broke the dreadful silence. The battle soon became general, and raged with tremendous fury. The fire of two hundred pieces of cannon enveloped the two armies in smoke, and, mowing down whole battalions, strewed the field with the dead and wounded. The latter fell to expose themselves to a fate still more terrible. How agonizing their situation! Forty thousand dragoons crossing the field in every direction, trampled them under foot, and dyed the horses' hòofs in their blood. The fying artillery, in rapid and alternate advance and retreat, put a period to the anguish of some, and inflicted new torments on others who were mangled by their wheels. A redoubt in the centre of the Russian army was several times taken and retaken with desperate slaughter, but finally remained in possession of the French. The interior of the redoubt presented a frightful scene'; the dead were heaped on each other, and among them were many wounded whose cries could not be heard. Night separated the combatants, but left EIGHTY THOUSAND Men dead on the field!
“In traversing next day the elevated plain on which we had fought, we were enabled to form an estimate of the immense loss sustained by the Russians. A surface of about nine square miles in extent, was covered with the killed and wounded, with the wreck of arms, lances, helmets and cuirasses, and with balls as numerous as hail-stones after a violent storm. In many places the bursting of shells had overturned men and horses; and such was the havoc occasioned by repeated discharges, that mountains of dead bodies were raised. But the most dreadful spectacle was the interior of the ravines, where the wounded had instinctively crawled to avoid the shot. Here these unfortunate wretches, lying one upon another, destitute of assistance, and weltering in their blood, uttered the most horrid groans. Loudly invoking death, they besought us to put an end to their excruciating torments.
“ As we drew near Rouza, two days after, we met a great number of carts brought back by the cavalry. It was afflicting to see them loaded with children, with the aged and the infirm; and we grieved to think how soon the horses and carts, which formed the whole fortune of those ruined families, would be divided among the troops. In our advance to the centre of the town, we saw a crowd of soldiers pillaging the houses, regardless of the cries of those to whom they belonged, or of the tears of mothers who, to soften the hearts of their conquerors, showed them their children on their knees; those innocents, with their hands clasped, and bathed in tears, asked only that their lives might be spared.
“ We could judge of the consternation that reigned in the capital, by the terror with which we had inspired the peasantry. No sooner were they informed of our arrival at Rouza, and of the barbarous manner in which we had treated the inhabitants, than all the villages on the road to Moscow were instantly abandoned ; many of the fugitives, driven to desperation, set fire to their houses, their country seats, and to the corn and hay just gathered in. Discouraged by the fatal and useless resistance of the militia of Rouza, the greater part of them threw down the pikes with which they had been armed, and hastened to conceal themselves, with their wives and children, in thick forests at a distance from our route."
Moscow.—“As we drew near the city, (Sept. 15,) we observed that it had no walls. We saw nothing to indicate that the capital was inhabited; and the road by which we arrived, was so deserted, that we did not see a single Muscovite, or even a French soldier. We found neither soldiers nor inhabitants in the part of the city we were to occupy; a death-like silence reigned in the forsaken quarters; the most intrepid were intimidated by the loneliness. We marched with timid steps through this dismal solitude, often stopping to look behind us; for our imaginations, overpowered by the magnitude of our conquest, made us every where apprehensive of treachery."
In conformity with the desolating plan of the campaign, the ruin of the ancient capital of the Czars had been determined. The criminals confined in the different prisons, received their liberty on condition of setting fire to the city as soon as it should be in the possession of the French army. In order to insure its destruction, the engines, and every means by which the fire might have been extinguished, were removed or destroyed. The Exchange was the first building that fell a prey to the flames. The stores contained an immense quantity of the most valuable commodities of Europe and Asia; and the cellars were filled with sugar, oils and resin, which burnt with great fury. The French endeavored to check the progress of the devouring element, but they soon discovered that their efforts were vain. The fire, breaking out in different quarters of the city, and increased by a high wind, spread with dreadful rapidity.
" A great part of the population had concealed themselves ir.
their houses, from the terror caused by our arrival; but they left them as the flames reached their asylums. Fear had rendered their grief dumb; and as they tremblingly quitted their retreats, they carried off their most valuable effects, while those of more sensibility, actuated by natural feelings, sought only to save the lives of their parents or their children. On one side we saw a son carrying a sick father; on the other, women who poured the torrent of their tears on the infants whom they clasped in their arms, They were followed by the rest of their children, who, fearful of being lost, ran crying after their mothers. Old men, overwhelmed more by grief than by the weight of years, were seldom able to follow their families; and many of them, weeping for the ruin of their country, lay down to die near the houses where they were born. The streets, the public squares, and especially the churches, were crowded with these unhappy persons, who mourned as they lay on the remains of their property, but showed no signs of despair. The victors and the vanquished were become equally brutish; the former by excess of fortune, the latter by excess of misery.
“ The hospitals, containing more than TWELVE THOUSAND WOUNDED, began at length to burn. The heart recoils at the disaster which ensued. Almost all those wretched victims perished! The few still living, were seen crawling, half-burnt, from the smoking ashes, or groaning under the heaps of dead bodies, and making ineffectual efforts to extricate themselves!
" It is impossible to depict the confusion and tumult that ensued, when the whole of this immense city was given up to pillage. Soldiers, sutlers, galley-slaves and prostitutes, ran through the streets, penetrated the deserted palaces, and carried off every thing that could gratify their insatiable desire. The generals received orders to quit Moscow; and the soldiers, no longer restrained by that awe which is always inspired by the presence of their chiefs, gave themselves up to every excess, and to the most unbridled licentiousness. No retreat was safe, no place sufficiently sacred, to secure it from their rapacious search. To all the excesses of lust, were added the highest depravity and debauchery. No respect was paid to the nobility of blood, the innocence of youth, or the tears of beauty.
“ Dismayed by so many calamities, I hoped that the shades of night would veil the dreadful scene; but darkness, on the contrary, rendered the conflagration more terrible. The flames, which extended from north to south, burst forth with greater violence, and, agitated by the wind, seemed to reach the sky. Clouds of smoke marked the track of the rockets that were hurled by the incendiary criminals from the tops of the steeples, and which, at a distance, resembled falling stars. But nothing was so terrific as the dread that reigned in every mind, and which was heightened in the dead of the night by the shrieks of the unfortunate creatures who were massacred, or by the cries of young females who fied for refuge to the palpitating bosoms of their mothers, and whose