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them become reckless libertines, whose intrigues debauch more or less every community they visit.
There is no record of their countless victims; but the general result in war-countries is seen in the fact, that in Paris, as in
many other parts of Europe, every third child is a bastard. Nor does even this tell the whole truth; for means are almost universally employed by such persons there, with the certainty of success in most cases, to prevent conception, or procure abortion. In some European countries, no man is permitted to marry until he has served in the army a long term of years; and during this time, the common soldiers indulge in the loosest debaucheries, and the officers live on a species of tolerated concubinage which creates whole families of illegitimate children. At the close of their service, some marry, others do not; and the result is such a general relaxation of morals and domestic ties as must greatly diminish the number of lawful marriages, and the growth of a legitimate and virtuous population. Camps and fleets are even in peace most prolific nurseries of licentiousness; every war-ship, when in port, is a floating brothel, insomuch that sir hundred prostitutes are said to have perished in the sinking of the Royal George at Spithead, in 1782; and every recruiting rendezvous, every resting-place of soldiers for a single night, is a centre or source of pollution; nor can you well conceive the full influence in these respects of three millions of men, in the vigor of health, and the fire of youthful passion, withdrawn from marriage, and left to sate their fierce and lawless lusts on female purity.
The general result you may see in war-countries compared with those which have pursued a pacific policy. Such has been our own policy; and in fifty years we have quadrupled our population. Such has been the policy of China; and, with a territory equal to little more than one third of Europe, she has nearly half the people on the globe. While our own population was doubling every quarter of a century, that of Europe, according to Adam Smith, was increasing at a rate so slow as hardly to reach the same result in five hundred years; but since the downfall of Napoleon, the inhabitants of Prussia have been doubling in twenty-six years, those of Great Britain in fortytwo, those of Russia in sixty-six, and those of France in one hundred and five. During these thirty years of general peace, (1845,) the population of Europe, with the exception of Spain and Portugal rent with civil wars, has probably
increased more than in any two centuries before for a thou
The sum total of prevention from war, we cannot of course estimate or even conjecture; but, had this custom never existed, their might hitherto have been full twice as many human beings on the globe, with four times the amount of happiness. Nor can this supposition be neutralized by saying, that the earth would thus have been overstocked; for experiment and calculation have proved it capable of supporting in comfort more than fifty times its present population ! But look especially at the direct havoc of mankind by
It introduces a variety of customs destructive to life. We are not, as friends of peace, concerned with the question of capital punishment; but, if war did not first lead to such penalties, it certainly has increased their number to a fearful extent, and written the code of even some Christian States in blood. In England itself there were, in the time of Blackstone, no less than one hundred and sixty crimes punishable with death; and in the reign of Henry VIII., there perished by the hands of the executioner 72,000 per, sons, or an average of one every hour of day-light for a space of seventeen years! War, likewise, originated duelling, judicial combats, and other practices which have swept off immense multitudes. We little suspect how many have fallen in duels alone, and can hardly believe what a French writer not long since stated, in a paper read before the French Academy, and published under their sanction, that in certain departments of France, five, six, and even ten per cent. of all the deaths in the army are occasioned by this spawn of the war-system!
But the immediate destruction of life by war, is vast and appalling. So it must be, since death is its grand aim; and if you contemplate the thousands and millions of its agents, bold, blood-thirsty and reckless, trained with all possible skill to the trade of human butchery, armed for this purpose with instruments the most terribly effective, plying every art, and stretching every nerve to destroy mankind, and stimulated to desperation by the promise to success of the highest earthly rewards, can you adequately conceive the havoc likely to ensue?
Far greater, however, is the incidental loss of life. Well does Dr. Johnson say,
War has means of destruction more formidable than the cannon and the sword. Of the thousands and ten thousands that perish, a very small part ever feel the stroke of the enemy. The rest languish" in tents
and ships, amid damps and putrefaction, pale, torpid and spiritless; gasping and groaning unpitied among men rendered obstinate by long continuance of hopeless misery; and are at last whelmed in pits, or heaved into the ocean, without notice or remembrance. By incommodious encampments and unwholesome stations, whole fleets are silently dispeopled, and armies sluggishly melted away.” If you
doubt the truth of these sweeping remarks, go to a camp, and there see human life rotting in masses into the grave. The filth, intemperance and licentiousness of soldiers carry them off in vast multitudes, and generate diseases the most malignant and fatal. When seized with sickness, there is little or no care taken of them; no mother, wife or sister near to tend their couch; no pillow of down to ease their aching head; no escape from pinching cold, or scorching heat; no shelter from howling blasts, or drenching rains. Hence death treads sure and quick upon the heels of disease that might, in nine cases out of ten, have been cured at home, or entirely prevented. You can hardly conceive how fast an army will melt away under the influence of such causes alone, and no record kept, no notice taken of its victims. In transferring troops from one country to another, especially to sultry regions, statesmen coolly calculate on losing, from this cause alone, every third man.
In certain climates, and under certain circumstances in every climate, it requires only a few brief years or even months to annihilate whole crews or regiments without shedding a drop of blood.
It is often impossible to calculate or trace even the known loss of life. “I was sixteen years old,” said a venerable Christian with the frost of eighty winters on his head, “ when our Revolutionary war began; and, on my brother's fitting out a privateer, I embarked along with him. There were ninety on board besides officers. In a fortnight we were captured, and carried to a prison in Lisbon, whence we were forced on board a British man of war, and sailed for the Indies. There I spent seven or eight years, and did not reach this country till after the treaty of 1783. What became of my companions, I know not; but of the whole crew, not more than four or five were ever heard of again, and those were all, or nearly all, officers. The common sailors, I believe, all perished.”
Let us quote a single instance of the fatal effect of climate. “The climate," says Lord Collingwood, "was
deadly, and no constitution could resist its effects. At San Juan,” near the Isthmus of Darien, “I joined the ship, and succeeded Lord Nelson who was promoted to a larger ship; but he had received the infection of the climate before he went from the port, and had a fever from which he did not recover until he quitted his ship, and went to England. My constitution resisted many attacks, and I survived most of my ship's company, having buried in four months one hundred and eighty of the two hundred that composed it;" a loss of ninety per cent. from the climate alone! “Nor was mine a singular case; for every ship that was long there, suffered in the same degree. The transport's men all died; and some of the ships, having none left to take care of them, sunk in the harbor. Transport ships, however, were not wanted; for the troops they had brought, were no more; they had fallen not by the hand of an enemy, but from the contagion of the climate."
The common usage, discipline and hardships of soldiers prey upon them like murrain.
It would seem impossible for them to survive some of their punishments that are not designed to take life; and multitudes die either by the process, or from its immediate effects. The ill-treatment they receive, frequently drives them to suicide; and their scanty clothing, their unwholesome food, their unhealthy encampments, their want of shelter and bedding, their repose on the damp, cold, frozen earth, their exposures on duty day and night in all seasons, all weathers, and every clime, cannot fail to hurry countless multitudes to the grave. Scarce a peasant in Ireland, or a serf in Poland, or a slave in any country on the globe, is subjected continually to such fatal privations, hardships and exposures as fall to the common lot of soldiers.
Glance at their food, often provided by avaricious, unprincipled contractors with less care than a farmer ordinarily takes in feeding his swine! It has been sometimes so intolerably bad as to be refused even by wretches dying with hunger; and an eminent physician once testified under oath before the British Parliament, that in the military hospitals of Aracan, “monstrous reptiles, engendered in the mass of filth, which the soldiers had been obliged to take for food, were often seen crawling from the mouths of the sick!" Let us select a specimen or two of the treatment of pris
“Our numbers," says one of the sufferers, a
LOSS OF LIFE BY WAR.
Frenchman in Spain, “thinned rapidly on the way. Fatigue and insufficient provision rendered many incapable of rising to renew their march after a night's halt; and the dawn exhibited to us the stiffened limbs of such as death had released from further earthly trouble. The survivors were gaunt and emaciated ; and frequently would a poor fellow drop to the ground in the extremity of weariness and despair. No effort was made to assist these sufferers; but they were either left behind to perish, or bayonetted on the spot.” The French, in their retreat from Moscow, had in one instance three thousand Russian prisoners. "During the march," says Labaume, “having no provisions to give them, they were herded together like beasts, and not allowed on any pretext to quit the limits assigned them. Without fire, perishing with cold, they lay on the bare ice; to appease their ravenous hunger, they seized with avidity the horse-flesh which was distributed to them, and, for want of time and means to dress it, ate it entirely raw; and I have been assured that, when this supply failed, many of them ate their comrades who had sunk under their miseries!”
Take an example of hardships not uncommon in war. “Every day," says a young Scotch soldier in the Peninsular War,“ we were either on guard, or on fatigue. We were not a night in bed out of two during all the time we remained there. Besides, the weather was dreadful; we had always either snow or hail, the latter often as large as nuts; and we were forced to put our knapsacks on our heads to protect us from its violence. The frost was most severe, accompanied by high winds. Often for whole days. and nights we could not get a tent to stand ; many of us were frost-bitten, and others were found dead at their posts. On our march, the rain poured in torrents; and melted snow was half knee-deep in many places, and stained by the blood that flowed from our bruised and wounded feet. There was nothing to sustain our famished bodies, or shelter them from the rain or snow. We were either drenched with rain, or crackling with ice. Fuel we could find none. The sick and the wounded whom we had been still enabled with our own hands to drag along with us in wagons, were now left to perish in the snow. The road was one line of bloody foot-marks from the sore feet of the men ; and on its sides lay the dead and the dying."
Just glance at the havoc occasioned by forced and ex