Page images
[ocr errors]

meddling monks say masses for its soul. AII wars of interference, arising from an officious intrusion into the concerns of other states ; all wars of ambition, carried on for the purposes of aggrandizement; and all wars of aggression, undertaken for the purpose of forcing an assent to this or that set of religious opinions; all such wars are criminal in their very outset, and have hypocrisy for their common base."

First, there is the hypocrisy of encumbering our neighbor with an officiousness of help, that pretends his good, but means our own ; then there is the hypocrisy of ambition, where some restless and grasping potentate, knowing that he is about to injure and insult, puts forth a jesuitical preamble, purporting that he himself has been first insulted, and injured ; but nations have the justest cause to feel a fear that is real, when such begin to express a fear that is feigned. Then comes the hypocrisy of those who would persuade us that to kill, burn, and destroy, for conscience sake, is an acceptable service, and that religion is to be supported by trampling under foot those primiary principles of love,

charity, and forbearance, without which it were better to have none. Lastly, comes a minor and subordinate hypocrisy, common to the three kinds I have stated above : I mean that of those who pretend deeply to deplore the miseries of war, and who even weep over them, with the tears of the crocodile, but who will not put a stop to war, although they have the means, because they find their own private account in continuing it, from the emoluments it bestows, and from the patronage it confers. Like Fabius, they also profit by delay, cunctlando restituere rem,” but they do so with a very different motive, not to restore the shattered fortunes of their country, but their own. Neither must we forget, in this view of our subject, the raw and ignorant recruit, whom to delude and to kidnap, a whole system of fraud and hypocrisy is marshalled out and arrayed. The grim idol of war is tricked out and flounced in all the col. ours of the rainbow: the neighing steed awaits her nod, music attends her footsteps, and jollity caters at her board ; but no sooner is the sickle exchanged for the sword, and the fell contract signed, than he finds that this Bel


lona, whom he had wooed as a goddess is courtship, turns out to be a demon in posses

that terror is her constant purveyor, and that her alternate caterers are privation and waste; that her sojourn is with the slain, and her abode with the pestilence : that her fascinations are more fatal than those of the basilisk; that her brightest smile is danger, and that her warmest embrace is death. * * * * In fact, the demoralizing tendencies of war are so notorious, that to insist upon them, would be to insult the understanding of my readers ; and to purchase refinement at the expense of virtue, would be to purchase tinsel at the price of gold. The most peace loving minister that ever governed the affairs of a nation, decidedly declared, that even the most successful war often left a people more poor, always more profligate, thar it found them.

The children of those days, when the world was young, rude as the times they lived in, and rash at once from ignorance and from inexperience, amused themselves with the toys and the trumpets, the gewgaws and the glitter of war. But we who live in the maturity of things, who to the knowledge offthe

* * * *

present, add a retrospection of the past, we who alone can fairly be termed the ancients, or be said to live in the olden time, we I trust, are no longer to be deluded or befooled by this brilliant but baleful meteor, composed of visionary good, but of substantial evil. We live in the manhood and in the fulness of time, and the triumphs of truth and of reason, triumphs bright as bloodless, these are the proper business and the boast of those who, having put away childish things, are becoming men.

* * Unlike those of the warrior, the triumphs of knowledge derive all their lustre, not from the evil they have produced, but from the good; her successes and her conquests are the common property of the world, and succeeding ages will be the watchful guardians of the rich legacies she bequeaths. But the trophies and the titles of the conqueror are on the quick march to oblivion, and amid that desolation where they were planted, will decay. For what are the triumphs of war,* planned by ambition, ex

*Speaking of the couqueror, the inspired writer observes, that before him the land is as the garden of Eden, behind him as the desolate wilderness;" and that poet who drapk

套 t

ecuted by violence, and consummated by devastation ? the means, are the sacrifice of the many ; the end, the bloated aggrandizement of the few. Knowledge has put a stop to chivalry, as she one day will to war, and Cervantes has laughed out of the field those selfconstituted legislators that carried the sword, but not the scales of justice, and who were mounted and mailed. I am no advocate for a return of this state of things; but when that heroic and chivalric spirit was abroad, when men volunteered on dangers for the good of others, without emolument, and laid down the sword when that for which they resorted to it, was overcome, then indeed a measure of respect and admiration awaited them, and a

deepest of the sacred stream, has the following lines :

“ They err who count it glorious to subdue By conquest far and wide, to overrun Large countries, and in field great battles win, Great cities by assault ; what do these worthies But rob and spoil, burn, slaughter, and enslave Peaceable nations, neighboring, or remote, Made captive, yet deserving freedom more Than those their conquerors; who leave behind Nothing but ruin, whereso'er they rove, And all the flourishing works of peace destroy ? Then swell with pride, and must be titled gods. Till conqueror Death discovers them scarce men, Rolling in brutish vices and deformed, Violent or shameful death their due reward." Milton

« PreviousContinue »