« PreviousContinue »
4. That ancient and modern infidels unite in ascribing to them these peculiar views:
5. That Celsus, near the close of the second century, charged them with refusing to bear arms under any circumstances, and Origen, in his reply fifty years after, did not deny the charge, but justified them on the ground, that Christianity forbids war:
6. That the war-degeneracy of the Church began very early in the third century, and went so far in the fourth, that under and after Constantine the Great, Christians engaged in war, as they generally have ever since, with as little scruple as they did in any occupation of life.
We cannot well conceive what farther proof any fair mind can ask; but we might add, that a strong odium among Christians attached for centuries to the trade of blood, the canons of the Church expressly prohibiting the ordination of any that had ever been soldiers, and refusing it, so late as the Council of Toledo, to all such persons, even though they had never been concerned in the shedding of blood. War was an object of deep, utter abhorrence to the early followers of Christ; and we deem it high time for his modern disciples to revive the primitive faith and practice on this subject.
How would such a revival exalt the Christian name, recommend our religion to the world, and pave the way for its universal spread and triumph!
TESTIMONY OF DR. Cave.—“No sooner did the gospel fly abroad, but the love and charity of Christians became notorious even to a proverb. There is one circumstance respecting it worthy of special notice, and that is, the universal extent of it; they did good to all, though more especially to them of the household of faith. They were kind to all men, yea, to their bitterest enemies. This, indeed, is the proper goodness and excellency of Christianity, as Tertullian observes, it being common to all men to love their friends, but peculiar only to Christians to love their enemies.
Athenagoras principally makes use of this argument to prove the divinity of the Christian religion, and challenges all the great masters of reason and learning among the heathens to produce any of so pure and refined a temper, as could, instead of hating, love their enemies, bear curses and revilings with an undisturbed mind, and, instead of reviling again, bless and speak well of them, and pray for those that lay in wait to take away their lives. And yet this did Christians; they embraced their enemies, and pardoned and prayed for them. Nay, they did not think it enough not to return evil for evil, or barely forgive their enemies, unless they did them all the kindness that lay in their power.”
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.
We propose to sketch the war-debts, not of the whole world, but of Europe alone. Their exact amount it is impossible to ascertain, first, because its governments often conceal the sum total of their obligations; next, because the debts, even when reported, are frequently made up of items resembling the treasury-notes of Sweden issued without computation or limit; and, finally, because the provincial debts, which form so large a part especially in the south of Europe, are often omitted entirely from governmental reports. We can, therefore, make only an approximation to the truth; and, while quoting official estimates that are sometimes studiously false, and generally underrated, we must leave the reader to make such allowances as the foregoing considerations may seem to require.
I. GREAT BRITAIN.—Charles II., 1660, commenced the British debt by granting life-annuities for money furnished to support his habits of extravagance and profligacy; but it reached, at the abdication of James II., 1688, only $3,300,000. William III., passionately fond of war, and deeply interested in the intrigues and contests of Europe, not only multiplied taxes, but augmented the debt more than $100,000,000. The Spanish War under Anne, 1702–13, added $187,500,000, and that of nine years, 1739_48, under George II., $157,500,000 more. The Seven Years' War, 1756–63, added to the taxes of England $175,000,000, and to her debt $357,500,000. Her first war with us extorted from her in taxes $240,000,000, and in loans $515,000,000; in all, $755,000,000! Nine years of war with France, from 1793 to 1802, added $900,000,000, to her taxes, and $1,460,000,000 to her debt; while her subsequent wars with Napoleon, 1803–15, cost her in loans $1,680,000,000, and $1,130,000,000 in taxes, carrying her entire debt in 1815 up to $4,325,000,000!! *
* We subjoin a brief table of the British national debt from its origin ito 1838 ; estimating a pound sterling in round numbers at five dollars : 1660–1689. Debt contracted under Charles II and James II., $3,300,000 1689–1697. Contracted in the Revolution under William III., 105,000,000 1702–1713. In the war of the Spanish Succession under Anne, 187,500,000 Total Debt in 1713,
270,000,000 1739-1748. In the war with Spain, and the Austrian Succession, 157,500,000 1756–1763. In the Seven Years' War,
357,500,000 Total Debt in 1763,
732,500,000 1775-1783. In the American War,
515,000,000 Total Debt in 1783,
1,195,000,000 1793–1802. In the war of the French Revolution,
1,460,000,000 Total Debt in 1802,
2,630,000,000 1803-1815. In the peace of 1802-3, and war with Napoleon, 1,695,000,000 Total Debt in 1815,
4,325,000,000 Total Debt in 1838,
3,960,000,000 P. T.
It is surprising that any nation on earth should be able to stand under a debt so enormous. No other one could ; nor could England herself, if nearly the whole sum were not due to her own citizens. Sooner or later, however, a day of reckoning must come; and a terrible day will that be to England, or at least to her monied aristocracy.
What enormous taxes must such a debt impose ! nearly $150,000,000 a year to pay simply the interest and management !
Taxes," says the Edinburgh Review,“ upon every article which enters the mouth, or covers the back, or is placed under the feet; taxes upon every thing which it is pleasant to see, hear, feel, smell or taste; taxes upon warmth, light and locomotion; taxes upon every thing on the earth, and in the waters under the earth; taxes on every thing that comes from abroad, or is grown at home; taxes on the raw material, and upon every fresh value that is added to it by the industry of man; taxes on the sauce that pampers man's appetite, and the drug that restores him to health; on the ermine which decorates the judge, and the rope which hangs the criminal; on the poor man's salt, and the rich man's spice; on the brass nails of the coffin, and the ribbons of the bride. Taxes we never escape; at bed or board, couchant or levant, we must pay. The school-boy whips his taxed top, the beardless youth manages his taxed horse, with a taxed bridle, upon a taxed road; and the dying Englishman, pouring his medicine which has paid seven per cent., into a spoon that has paid fifteen per cent., Aings himself back upon his chintz bed which has paid twenty-two per cent., makes his will on an eight pound stamp, and expires in the arms of an apothecary who has paid a license of a hundred pounds for the privilege of putting him to death. His whole property is immediately taxed from two to ten per cent. Besides the probate, large fees are demanded for burying him in the chancel; his virtues are handed down to posterity on taxed marble; and then he is gathered to his fathers—to be taxed no more.”
There is, however, one important benefit resulting from the British debt. It makes England reluctant to engage in war; and well were Canning and Brougham wont to say, she was under bonds of eight hundred millions sterling to keep the peace. Even she, with all her wealth, could not sustain another series of wars like those she waged against Napoleon and the French. There is now no alternative for her but peace, or bankruptcy and ruin.
II. FRANCE.—The history of her debt, written in the blood of her revolutions, it would be very interesting to trace; but it must suffice here to say, that in 1830, it was 4,515,605,834 francs, and in 1840, was slightly reduced to 4,457,736,996.
III. Russia.—The resources of this empire are small in comparison with its vast extent, its annual revenue being rated at 380,000,000 rubles, or only about $75,000,000. It is impossible to learn the precise amount of the Russian debt. McCulloch puts it at 956,337,574 rubles; but the Conversation's Lexicon says it amounted in 1840 to 869,411,191 rubles.
IV. HOLLAND.—The Dutch are, if possible, worse off than the English. The debt of Holland in 1840 amounted to 800,000,000 German dollars, and that of Belgium to 120,000,000. The solvency of Holland is very doubtful; for her expenses since 1830 have almost invariably exceeded her income, and thus her debt has been constantly increasing. The Dutch have tried every expedient to extricate themselves, reducing the perquisites of royalty so low as to make their king little more than a burgomaster, and paring down their protective duties so as to secure the largest possible amount of revenue; yet, after all, bankruptcy is staring them in the face. What a catastrophe for a nation that once stood at the head of the commerce of the world!
V. SPAIN.—The profligacy of Spain in repudiating or evading her obligations, renders it impossible to tell how much she now owes ; but, according to semi-official statements, her entire debt, in October, 1841, was $775,000,000. This sum is divided into an internal and an external debt. The latter is near $316,000,000, chiefly due to English capitalists; but even the interest has not been paid for a long period.
VI. PORTUGAL.—The financial condition of Portugal resembles that of Spain. Her whole debt amounted in 1840 to 144,500,000 German dollars; and her income the same year was rated at 8,000,000 Spanish dollars, while her expenses were estimated at $11,000,000.
VII. DENMARK.—Of the Danish debt, we can form no certain estimate; but, at the close of 1839, it was put at 62,786,804 rix dollars unfunded debt, 5,390,385 funded debt, and 1,423,841 annuities, with an internal debt of 69,601,031; in all, 134,202,061.
We have not space to give in detail the debts of other countries. The different principalities of Germany owed in 1840, a sum total of 650,000,000 German dollars; Austria, 733,200,000 convention florins; Prussia, 130,000,000 rix dollars; Bavaria, 126,550,907 florins; Naples, 108,000,000 ducats, and Sardinia, 87,000,000 crowns.
The sum total of European debts exceeds ten thousand millions of German dollars; and, if we make due allowance for the countries omitted, and for estimates below the truth, the whole in 1840 would probably not be less than the same number of Spanish dollars. Ten thousand millions! What an amount of war-debts for Europe alone! Five times as much as all the coin on the globe; the bare interest, at six per cent., $600,000,000 a year, almost two millions every day! the simple interest nearly as much every day as all Christendom is giving annually for the spread of the gospel!
These liabilities we call war-debts. So they are; they were contracted almost exclusively for war purposes ; had there been no war, there would have been no debt; and, were the war-system now discarded, all Europe could in fifty years, most of her states in far less time, pay off the last farthing of her enormous obligations, and thus start, unfettered and unclogged, upon a new, unparalleled career of prosperity
We subjoin a general view of European debts in German dollars, equal to about eighty-two cents each. Country.
Inhabitants. Aver. to each inhab, Holland, $800,000,000 3,000,000 $266.67 England, 5,556,000,000 25,000,000 222.24 Frankfort, 5,000,000 55,000 90.91 France, 1,800,000,000 33,000,000 54.55 Bremen,
3,000,000 55,000 54,55 Hamburg, 7,000,000 155,000 45.16 Denmark, 93,000,000 2,100,000 44.57 Greece, 44,000,000 1,000,000
44.00 Portugal, 144,000,000 3,800,000 38.63 Lubec,
1,700,000 45,000 37.78 Spain,
467,000,000 13,000,000 35.92
3,700,000 370,000 10.00
3,700,000 430,000 8.60
4,125,000 1,000,000 4.13
$10,499,710,000 201,053,000 $52.23
P. S.-For further information on this subject, see McGregor's Commercial Legislation, McCulloch's Statistical Dictionary, Hunt's Merchants Magazine for "1843, Conversation's Lexicon der Gegenwart.
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.