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from the latter power a renuneiation of her claim to impress our seainen. The greatest Dumber of American samen erer uticiany alleged to be compuisorily serving in the Briush Basy, was about eight bundred. To overturn this injustice, the whole country was doomed, for more than three years, to the accursed biigut of war. Our commeree was driven from tbe seas ; the resources of the land were drained by taxation : villages on the Canadian froutier were laid in ashes; the metropolis of the Republie was captured, while gaunt distress raged every were within our borders. Weary with this rude trial, our Government appointed Como.issioners to treat for Peace, under these instructions: - Your first duty wis be to conclude peace with Great Britain, and yoa are authorized to do it in case you obtain a satisfactory stipulation against impressment, one which shall secure under our tag protection to the ere*. If this encroachment of Great Britain is not proviced against, the United States have appealed to arms in vain.". Afterwards in despair of extorting from Great Britain a rejinquishment of the unrighteous claim, and foreseeing only an accumulation of calamites from an inveterate prosecution of the war, our Government directed their negotiators, in concluding a Treaty of Peace. - io omit any stipulation m the subject of impressment. The instructions were obeyed, and the Treaty that once more restored to us the blessings of Peace, woich we had rashiy cast away, and which the country hailed with an intoxication of jov, contained no asilsion to the subject of irupressment; nor did it provide for the surrender of a single American sailor detained in the service of the British davy, and thus, by the confession of our own Government, " the United States had appealed to arms IX VAIN."
All this is the natural result of an appeal to war in order to establish justice. Justice impies the exercise of the jurigment in the determination of right. Now, war not only supersedes the judgment, but delivers over the results to superiority of force, or to chance. Who can measure beforehand the currents of the heady fight? We speak of the chances of battie; even soidiers speak of it as a game. The Gireat Captain of our age, in a formai address to his officers on enteriny Russia, says: “In war, fortune has an equal share with ability in procuring success." The mighty victory of Varengo, the accident of an accident, wrested unexpectedly at the close of the day from a foe who at an earlier hour was successful, must have taught him the uncertainty of war. Afterwards, in the bitterness of bis spirit, when his inmense forces had been shivered, and his triumphant eagies driven back with broken wing, he exclaimed, in that remarkable conversation recorded by the Abbé de Pradt: "Well! this is war. High in the morning, -low enough at night. From a triumph to a fali is often but a step.” The military historian of the Peninsular campaigns, says: “ Fortune always asserts her supremacy in war, and often from a slight mistake, such disastrous consequences flow, that in every age and in every nation, the uncertainty of wars has been proverbial.” In another place, when considering the conduct of Wellington, he says: “ A few hours' delay, an accident, a turn of
fortune, and he would have been foiled! Ay! but this is war, always dangerous and uncertain, an ever-rolling wheel, and armed with scythes.” And can intelligent man look for justice to an ever-rolling wheel armed with scythes ?
But the most interesting illustration of war as dependent upon chance, is to be found in the history of the private wars, and particularly of the judicial combat, or trial by battle, in the dark ages. The object was precisely the professed object of modern war, the determination of justice. It would be interesting and instructive to trace the curious analogies between this early ordeal by battle, and the great ordeal of war. Like the other ordeals, by burning ploughshares, by holding hot iron, by dipping the hand in hot water, or hot oil, they are both a presumptuous appeal to Providence, under an apprehension and hope, that Heaven will give the victory to him who has the right. The monstrous usage of trial by battle prevailed in the early modern centuries thoughout Europe ; it was a part of the common law of England; and, though it fell into disuse, overruled by the advancing spirit of civilization, still, to the disgrace of the English law, it was not legislatively abolished, until in 1817 the right to had been distinctly claimed in Westminster Hall. Abraham Thornton, on appeal against him for murder, when brought into court, pleaded as follows: “Not guilty, and I am ready to defend the same by my body;" and, thereupon taking off his glove, he threw it upon the floor of the court. The appellant, not choosing to submit to this trial, abandoned his proceedings; and in the next session of Parliament, trial by battle was abolished in England.
To an early monarch of France belongs the honor of first interposing the royal authority for the entire suppression within his jurisdiction of this impious usage, so universally adopted, so dear. to the nobility, and so profoundly rooted in the institutions of the Feudal Age. The soul of St. Louis, tremblingly sensitive to questions of right, was shocked by the judicial combat. In his sight, it was a sin thus to tempt God by demanding of him a miracle whenever judgment was to be pronounced. In 1260 he assembled a parliament, where he issued the ordinance: “ We forbid to all persons throughout our dominions the trial by battle ; instead of battles, we establish proofs by witnesses ; we do not take away the other good and loyal proofs which have been used in lay. courts to this day; but THESE BATTLES DOMINIONS FOREVER.”
Honor and blessings attend the name of this truly Christian king, who began a long and illustrious reign by restoring a portion of the conquests of his predecessor, saying, “I know that the king of England has lost by conquest the land I hold ; and the land I give him, I give only to put love between my children and his children, who are cousin-germans; and it seems to me that what I thus give, I employ to good purpose !” Honor to him who never grasped by force or cunning any new acquisition; who never sought advantage from the turmoils and dissensions of his neighbors, but studied to allay them; who, first of Christian princes, rebuked
WE ABOLISH IN OUR
the spirit of war, saying to those who would have him profit by the dissensions of his neighbors, “ Blessed are the peace-makers.”
The history of the trial by battle will illustrate the chances of war, and the consequent folly and wickedness of submitting any question to its arbitrament. But we are aware that this monstrous and impious usage is still openly avowed as a proper mode of determining justice between nations. At this moment, when the noon-day sun of civilization seems to the contented souls of many to be standing still in the heavens as upon Gibeon, the relations between nations are governed by the same rules of barbarous, brutal force, which once prevailed between individuals. The dark ages have not passed away; Erebus and black Night, born of Chaos, still brood over the earth ; nor shall we hail the clear day, until the mighty hearts of the nations shall be touched, as those of children, and the whole earth, individuals and nations alike, shall acknowledge one and the same rule of Right.
Who has told you, fond man! to regard that as a glory when performed by a nation, which is condemned as a crime and a barbarism, when committed by an individual ? In what vain conceit of wisdom and virtue, do you find this incongruous morality ? Where is it declared that God, who is no respecter of persons, is a respecter of multitudes? Man is immortal; but States are mortal. He has a higher destiny than States. Shall States be less amenable to the great moral laws ? Each individual is an atom of the mass. Must not the mass be like the individuals of which it is composed ? Shall the mass do what individuals may not do? No; the same moral laws which govern individuals, govern masses. The Rule of Right, which binds the single individual, binds two or three when gathered together-binds conventions and congregations of men-binds villages, towns and cities—binds states, nations and empires_clasps the whole human family in its sevenfold embrace; nay more, it binds the angels of heaven, the Seraphim, full of love, the Cherubim, full of knowledge.
We are struck with horror at the report of a single murder ; we seek the murderer, and the law puts forth all its energies to secure his punishment. Viewed in the clear light of truth, what are war and battle but organized murder; murder of malice afore-thought; in cold blood; through the operation of an extensive machinery of crime; with innumerable hands; at incalculable cost of money; through subtle contrivances of cunning and skill; or by the savage, brutal assault? Was not the Scythian right, when he said to Alexander, “ Thou boastest, that the only design of thy marches is to extirpate robbers; thou thyself art the greatest robber in the world ?”
When shall the St. Louis of the nations arise—the Christian ruler or Christian people, who shall proclaim to the whole earth, that henceforward the great trial by battle shall cease forever; that it is the duty and policy of nations to establish love between each other; and in all respects, at all times, towards all persons, as well their own people, as the people of other lands, to be governed by the sacred rules of right, as between man and man? May God speed the coming of that day!
THE TRUE GRANDEUR OF NATIONS:
INFLUENCES WHICH UPHOLD THE CUSTOM OF WAR. *
BY CHARLES SUMNER.
I PROPOSE to inquire what are the true objects of national ambition-what is truly national glory, national honor-WHAT IS THE TRUE GRANDEUR OF NATIONS. IN OUR AGE THERE CAN BE NO PEACE THAT IS NOT HONORABLE; THERE CAN BE NO WAR THAT IS NOT DISHONORABLE, The true honor of a nation is to be found only in deeds of justice, and in the happiness of its people, all of which are inconsistent with war. In the clear eye of Christian judgment, vain are its victories, infamous are its spoils. He is the true benefactor, and alone worthy of honor, who brings comfort where before was wretchedness ; who dries the tear of sorrow; who pours oil into the wounds of the unfortunate ; who feeds the hungry, and clothes the naked; who unlooses the fetters of the slave; who, by words or actions, inspires a love for God and for man. This is the Christian hero; this is the man of honor in a Christian land. Well may old Sir Thomas Browne exclaim, “the world does not know its greatest men;" for thus far it has chiefly discerned the violent brood of battle, the armed men springing up from the dragon's teeth sown by Hate, and cared little for the truly good men, children of Love, Cromwells guiltless of their country's blood, whose steps on earth have been as noiseless as an angel's wing.
It is not to be disguised, that these views differ from the generally received opinions of the world down to this day. The voice of man has been given mostly to the praise of military chieftains, and the honors of victory have been chanted even by the lips of
The mother, while rocking her infant on her knees, has stamped on his tender mind, at that age more impressible than wax, the images of war; she has nursed his slumbers with its melodies; she has pleased his waking hours with its stories ; and selected for his playthings the plume and the sword. The child is father to the man; and who can weigh the influence of these early impressions on the opinions of later years? The mind which trains the child is like the hand which commands the end of a long lever; a gentle effort at that time suffices to heave the enorinous weight of succeeding years. As the boy advances to youth, he is fed, like Achilles, not only on honey and milk, but on bear's flesh and lion's
He draws the nutriment of his soul from a literature, whose beautiful fields have been moistened by human blood.
And when the youth becomes a man, his country invites his
* Taken mainly from the fourth topic in Mr. S.'s Oration before the City Authorities of Boston, July 4, 1815.--G. C. B.
services in war, and holds before his bewildered imagination the highest prizes of honor. For him is the pen of the historian, and the verse of the poet. His soul swells at the thought, that he also is a soldier ; that his name shall be entered on the list of those who have borne arms in the cause of their country; and, perhaps, he dreams, that he too may sleep, like the Great Captain of Spain, with a hundred trophies over his grave. But the contagion spreads among us beyond those bands on whom is imposed the positive obligation of law. Respectable citizens volunteer to look like soldiers, and to affect in dress, in arms and deportment, what is called “the pride, pomp and circumstance of glorious war." We all breathe the malaria of war, and the literature of every age and country is steeped in its spirit. The world has supped so full with battles, that all its inner modes of thought, and many of its rules of conduct, seem to be incarnadined with blood, as the bones of swine fed on inadder, are said to become red.
But I pass from this most fruitful theme, and hasten to other topics. I propose to consider very briefly some of those prejudices and influences which are most powerful in keeping alive the delusion of war.
1. One of these is the prejudice to a certain extent in its favor founded on the belief in its necessity. The consciences of all good men condemn it as a crime, a sin; even the soldier confesses that it is to be resorted to only in the last necessity. But a benevolent and omnipotent God cannot render it necessary to commit a crime. When war is called a necessity, it is meant, of course, that its object cannot be gained in any other way; but I think it demonstrable, that the professed object of war, which is justice between nations, is in no respect promoted by war; that force is not justice, nor in any way conducive to justice; that the eagles of victory can be the emblems only of successful force, not of established right. Justice can be obtained only by the exercise of the reason and judgment; but these are silent in the din of arms. Justice is without passion; but war lets loose all the worst passions of our nature.
The various modes, which have been proposed for the determination of disputes between nations, are Negotiation, Arbitration, Mediation, and a Congress of Nations ; all of them practicable, and calculated to secure peaceful justice. Let it not be said, then, that war is a necessity; and may our country aim at the true glory of taking the lead in the recognition of these, as the only proper modes of determining justice between nations !
2. Another prejudice in favor of war is founded on the praclice of nations, past and present. There is no crime or enormity in morals, which may not find the support of human example ; but it is not to be urged in our day, that we are to look for a standard of duty in the conduct of vain, mistaken, fallible man. It is not in the power of man, by any subtle alchemy, to transmute wrong into right. Because war is according to the practice of the world, it does not follow that it is right. For ages the world worshipped false gods ; but these gods were not the less false, because all