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A GLIMPSE OF WAR.
perity, its morals, and its political institutions, though less striking than on the soldiery, is yet most baleful. How often is a community impoverished to sustain a war in which it has no interest. Public burdens are aggravated, whilst the means of sustaining them are reduced. Internal improvements are neglected. The revenue of the state is exhausted in military establishments, or flows through secret channels into the coffers of corrupt men whom war exalts to power and office. The regular employments of peace are disturbed. Industry in many of its branches is suspended. The laborer, ground with want, and driven to despair by the clamor of his suffering family, becomes a soldier in a cause which he condemns, and thus the country is drained of its most effective population. The people are stripped and reduced, whilst the authors of war retrench not a comfort, and often fatten on the spoils and woes of their country.
But the influence of war on the morals of society is still more fatal. The suspension of industry, and the pressure of want multiply vice. Criminal modes of subsistence are the resource of the suffering. Public and private credit are shaken. Distrust and fear take the place of mutual 'confidence. Commerce becomes a system of stratagem and collusion; and the principles of justice receive a shock which many years of peace are not able to repair.
In war, the moral sentiments of a community are perverted by their admiration of military exploits. Every eye is fixed on the conqueror, and every tongue busy with his deeds. The milder virtues of Christianity are eclipsed by the baleful lustre thrown round a ferocious courage. The disinterested, the benignant, the merciful, the forgiving, those whoin Jesus has pronounced blest and honorable, must give place to the hero whose character is stained not only with blood, but sometimes with the foulest vices, all whose stains are washed away by victory.
War also diffuses through a community malignant passions. Nations, exasperated by mutual injuries, burn for each other's humiliation and ruin. They delight to hear that the most dreadful scourges are desolating a hostile community. The slaughter of thousands of fellow-beings, instead of awaking pity, flushes them with delirious joy, illuminates the city, and dissolves the whole country in revelry and riot. Thus the heart of man is hardened. His worst passions are nourished. Were the prayers, or rather the curses of warring nations prevalent in heaven, the whole earth would long since have become a desert.
But war not only assails the prosperity and morals of a community ; its influence on the political condition is alarming. It arms government with a dangerous patronage, multiplies dependants and instruments of oppression, and generates a power which, in the hands of the energetic and aspiring, can hardly fail to prostrate a free constitution. War organizes a body of men who lose the feelings of the citizen in the soldier ; whose habits detach them from the community ; whose ruling passion is devotion to a chief; who are inured in the camp to despotic sway; who are accustomed to accomplish their ends by force, and to sport with the rights and happiness of their fellow-beings; who delight in tumult, adventure and peril, and turn with disgust and scorn from the quiet labors of peace. Is it wonderful, that such protectors of a state 'should look with contempt on the weakness of the protected, and should lend themselves base instruments to the subversion of that freedom which they do not themselves enjoy ? In a community, where precedence is given to the military profession, freedom cannot long endure.
Thus war is to be ranked among the most dreadful calamities which fall on a guilty world; and, what deserves consideration, and gives to war a dreadful pre-eminence among the sources of human misery, it tends to multiply and perpetuate itself without end. It feeds and grows on the blood which it sheds. The passions, from which it springs, gain strength and fury from indulgence. The successful nation, flushed by victory, pants for new laurels; whilst the humbled nation, irritated by defeat, is impatient to redeem its honor and repair its losses. Peace becomes a truce, a feverish repose, a respite to sharpen anew the sword, and to prepare for future struggles. Under professions of friendship, lurk hatred and distrust; and a spark suffices to renew the mighty conflagration. When from these causes, large military establishments are formed, and a military spirit kindled, war becomes a necessary part of policy. A foreign field must be found for the energies and passions of a martial people. To disband a numerous and veteran soldiery, would be to let loose a dangerous horde on society. The blood-hounds must be sent forth on other communities, lest they rend the bosom of their own country. Thus war extends and multiplies itself. No sooner is one storm scattered, than the sky is darkened with the gathering horrors of another. Accordingly, war has been the mournful legacy of every generation to that which succeeds it. Every age has had its conflicts. Every country has in turn been the seat of devastation and slaughter. The dearest interests and rights of every nation have been again and again committed to the hazards of a game, of all others the most uncertain, and in which, from its very nature, success too often attends on the fiercest courage and the basest fraud.
But how, it will be asked, can we contribute to the abolition of war? Has not war its origin in the ambition of princes? And how shall we obtain an influence over courts and cabinets, and sway the minds of those whose power and station almost place them beyond the reach of instruction ?- It is indeed true, that the ambition of rulers is a frequent cause of war.
The desire of building up their power at home, or of extending their empire abroad, of surpassing other sovereigns, their natural and only rivals, of signalizing their administration by brilliant deeds, and of attracting louder applause than ordinarily attends on pacific virtues; this aspiring principle has in all ages thrown the world into tumult. But the ambition of rulers does not lie at the foot of war. We must remember, that, ambition is directed and inflamed by public opinion. Were there not a propensity in the mass of men to give honor to warn ke trumphs, Wiers would never seea distinction in this body career. The deepest and most operative causes of war are to be found in the universai principles of human nature, in passions which sway all classes of men; and therefore, religious instructors, whose office it is to operate on the human heart, and to purify its principies, ray do more tian any other men to counteract the causes of war.
To assist us in this work, let us inquire into the passions and principles which generate war. And here. I doubt not, many will imagine that the first piace ought to be given to nalignty and harred; but justice to human natore requires, that we ascnbe to national animosities a more limited operation, than is usually as cribed to ther, in the production of this calamity. It is indeed true, that ambitious men, who have an interest in war, too often accomplish their views by appealing to the malignant feelings of & community, by exaggerating its wrongs, ndicaling its forbearance, and reviving ancient jealousies ani resentments; but were not malignity and revenge aided by the concurrence of higher principles, the false splendor of this barbarous custom might easily be obscured, and its ravages stayed.
One of the great springs of war may be found in a very strong and general propensity of human nature the love of excitement, of erootion, of strong interest. No state of mind, not even positive suffering, is more painful than the want of interesting objects, The vacant heart preys on itself, and often rushes with impatience frorn the security which demands no effort, to the brink of peril. Why has the first rank among sports been given to the chase? Because its difficulties, hardships, hazards, tumults, awaken the mind, and give to it a new consciousness of existence, and a deep feeling of its powers. What is the charm which attaches the statesman to an office which almost weighs him down with labor, and an appalling responsibility? He finds much of his compensation in the powerful emotion and interest, awakened by the very hardships of his lot, by conflict with vigorous minds, by the opposition of rivals, and by the alterations of success and defeat. What hurries to the garning-table the man of prosperous fortune and ample resources? The dread of apathy, the love of strong feeling and of mental agitation. We have here one spring of war. War is of all games the deepest, awakening most powerfully the soul, and of course presenting powerful attraction to those restless and adventurous minds which pant for scenes of greater experiment and exposure than peace affords. The savage, the sovereign, the whole mass of a community find a pleasure in war as an excitement of the mind. They follow, with an eager concern, the movements of armies, and wait the issue of battles with a deep suspense, an alternation of hope and fear, inconceivably more interesting than the unvaried uniformity of peaceful pursuits.
Another powerful spring of war is the passion for superiority for triumph, for power. The human mind is strongly marked by this feature. It is aspiring, impatient of inferiority, and eager of pre-eminence and control. I need not enlarge on the predominance of this passion in rulers, whose love of power is influenced by the possession, and who are ever restless to extend their sway. It is more important to observe that, were this desire restrained to the breasts of rulers, war would move with a sluggish pace. But the passion for power and superiority is universal ; and as every individual, from his intimate union with the community, is accustomed to appropriate its triumphs to himself, there is a general promptness to engage in any contest by which the community may obtain an ascendency over other nations.
Another powerful spring of war, is the admiration of the brilliant qualities which it often displays. These qualities, more than all things, have prevented an impression of the crimes and miseries of this savage custom. Many delight in war, not for its carnage and woes, but for its valor and apparent magnanimity, for the self-command of the hero, the fortitude which despises suffering, the resolution which courts danger, the superiority of the mind to the body, to sensation, to fear. Men seldom delight in war considered merely as a source of misery. When they hear of battles, the picture which rises to their view, is not what it should be, a picture of extreme wretchedness, of the wounded, the mangled, the slain. These horrors are hidden under the splendor of those mighty energies which break forth amidst the perils of conflict, and which human nature contemplates with an intense and heart-thrilling delight. Attention hurries from the heaps of the slaughtered to the victorious chief whose single mind pervades and animates a host, and directs with stern composure the storm of battle; and the ruin which he spreads, is forgotten in admiration of his power. This admiration has, in all ages, been expressed by the most unequivocal signs. Why that garland woven, that arch erected, that festive board spread? These are tributes to the warrior. Whilst the peaceful sovereign, who scatters blessings with the silence and constancy of Providence, is received with a faint applause, men assemble in crowds to hail the conqueror, perhaps a monster in human form, whose private life is blackened with lust and crime, and whose greatness is built on perfidy and usurpation. Thus war is the surest and speediest road to renown; and war will never cease, while the field of battle is the field of glory.
Another cause of war is a false patriotism. It is a natural and a generous impulse of nature to love the country which gave us birth; but this sentiment often degenerates into a narrow, partial, exclusive attachment, alienating us from other branches of the human family, and instigating to aggression on other states. In ancient times, this principle was developed with wonderful energy, and sometimes absorbed every other sentiment. To the Roman, Rome was the universe. Other nations were of no value but to grace her triumphs, and illustrate her power; and he who in private life would have disdained injustice and oppression, exulted in the successful violence by which other nations were bound to the chariot wheels of this mistress of the world. This spirit still exists. The tie of country is thought to absolve men from the obligations of universal justice and humanity. Statesmen and rulers are expected to buid up their own country at the expense of others; and in the faise patriotism of the citizen, they have a security for any ontrages which are sanctioned by mccess.
Let me mention one other spring of war-the impressions we receive in early life. In our early years, we know war only as it offers itself to 18 at, a review ; not arrayed in horror. not scattering wo, not stalking over fields of the slain, and desolated regions, its eye flashing with fnry, and its sword reeking with blood. No; war, 28 we first see it, is decked with gay and splendid trappings, and wears a countenance of joy. It moves, with a measured and graceful step, to the sound of the heart-stirring fife and drum. Such is war; the youthful eye is dazzled with its ornaments; the youthful heart dances to its animated sounds. It seems a pastime full of spirit and activity, the very sport in which youth delights. These false views of war are confirmed by our earliest reading: We are intoxicated with the exploits of the conqueror, as recorded in real history, or in glowing fiction. We follow, with a sympathetic ardor, his rapid and triomphant career in battle; and, unused as we are to suffering and death, we forget the fallen and miserable who are crushed onder his victorious car. Even where these impressions in favor of war are not received in youth, we yet learn, from our early farniliarity with it, to consider it as a necessary evil, an essential part of our condition. We become reconciled to it as to a fixed law of our nature, and consider the thought of its abolition as extravagant as an attempt to chain the winds, or arrest the lightning.
But is there no possibility of abolishing this custom? Yes, by the use of right means; and among these should we place the inculcation of just and elevated sentiments relative to the honor of rulers, and the glory of nations, as not consisting in war. We should turn meni's admiration from military courage to qualities of real nobleness and dignity. It is time that the childish admiration of courage should give place to more manly sentiments; and in proportion as we effect this change, we shall shake the main pillar of war. Courage is a very doubtfol quality. It sometimes results from mental weakness, Peril is confronted, because the mind wants comprehension to discern its extent. This is often the courage of youth, the courage of unreflecting ignorance, a contempt of peril because peril is but dimly seen. Courage still more frequently springs from physical temperament, from a rigid fibre and iron nerves, and deserves as little praise as the proportion of the form, or the beauty of the countenance. Every passion, which is strong enough to overcome the passion of fear, and to exclude by its vehemence the idea of danger, communicates at least a temporary courage. Thus revenge, when it burns with great fury, gives a terrible energy to the mind, and has sometimes impelled men to meet certain death, that they might inflict the same fate on an enemy. You see the doubtful nature of courage. It is often associated with the worst vices. The most wonderful