Page images

of music and poetry, the utmost efforts of the pen, the pencil and the chisel, have combined to throw a most delusive coloring over its manifold abominations, and thus to beguile the young, the ardent and the gifted into a passionate fonduess, or protuund respect for war.

But on whom rests the chief responsibility of a result so deplorable? Not on the mass of conimon minds, for they are only its dupes and victims; but on men of letters as the educators of mankind, and the eulogists of this bloody and barbarous custom. They have been the leading agents in perpetuating its strange, guilty, fatal delusions. Their utmost powers they have tasked to prepare the Circean cup of war. Their genius, learning and taste they have prostituted to its service, and done more than all other classes to keep it alive. They have written its histories; they have composed its songs and ballads; they have eniblazoned the warrior's deeds, and trumpeted his fame through the world. They have been the high priests of war to cultivated minds, and breathed its spirit into the literature of every age. Almost every seminary of learning they have made a nursery of war, and filled on libraries with works too well calculated to perpetuate its reign of guilt and terror.

For such wrongs, is not a large atonement dne from literary men? This whole war-process must be reversed; and only men of letters can repair or counteract the evil done by their predecessors of a hundred generations. They alone can furnish the needful antidote to the wide-spread poison of war. It is for them to strip off the rich and gorgeous drapery of delusion which genius has thrown over its manifold abominations; for them to dissect its rotten-cored philosophy, to expose its heartless sophistries, and silence its coldblooded arguments; for them to show its glaring contrariety to nature, reason and revelation ; for them to guage, if that be possible, the real dimensions of this gigantic sin, to collect the statistics of its mighty mischief for two worlds, and paint its atrocities and woes in such colors as shall rouse every Christian community to the work of its speedy, utter, everlasting extinction

The cause demands a variety of services from men of letters. "Let one," says Chalmers, *take up the question of war in its principle, and make the fall weight of his moral serenity resi upon it, and upon all its abominations Let another take up the question of war in its consequences, and bring all his powers of graphical description to the task of presenting an awakened public with an dressive detail of its crucities and its horrors. Let apaber deutralize the poetry of war, and dismantle it of all those bewiching endors which the hand of misguided genios has thrown over it L another teach the world a trver and mare mantenimous path ka patronal glory than any comtry of the world bas ter waited in. Exce a pathar tell with arresistible present bow the Christinn ethics a # pero me at one with the Christian ethics of its bombest The meth Lar andhet nour the hchi of modern sperulzdoa into w ****** of anda, and prove that not a single war has been undertaken for any of its objects, where the millions, and the millions more which were lavished on the cause, have not been cheated away froin us by the phantom of an imaginary interest.”

But services still more important are needed in the cause of peace. 'The pacific spirit of the gospel is yet to be infused into the literature and religion, the governments and intercourse, the rulers and people of all Christian nations. The history of the world, now a virtual eulogy of war and warriors, must be written anew, and made a faithful mirror to reflect such an image of the guilt and miseries inseparable from this custom, as shall excite deep, universal abhorrence. We need a new literature, the literature of peace, or a thoroughly expurgated edition of all the classics both ancient and modern. The ethics of the gospel must be dug out from the rubbish of centuries, and made to bear upon a custom which embraces in its elements or legitimate effects every species of sin that depravity ever committed. Public opinion on this whole subject must be thoroughly christianized; and the press and the pulpit, every nursery of sentiment and character, must be enlisted in this work of reform. Education, thr all its departinents, must become a handmaid of peace, and the main influences of Christendom turned into this channel.

Such services can be performed only by cultivated minds; but all this they can do for the cause of peace, if they will. They are the law-givers of public opinion. They are the guardians of education, and preside over all the nurseries of intellect and learning. They write our books; they edit our periodicals; they frame our codes of law; they shape our forms of government; they teach our academies, colleges and professional seminaries. They are the leading educators of society. They cast the mould of the civilized world. Their character puts them, of course, in all the high places of influence. They are physicians, and lawyers, and judges, and ministers of the gospel, and teachers of all the first minds in Christendom. They cannot help leaving a deep impress of themselves on the world ; no class in society can exert a tithe of their influence on the mass of mankind; and it is in their power to make wars cease, in this very age, from every civilized nation.

Surely, then, the cause of peace has strong claims, not only on men of letters in general, but especially on students in our seminaries of learning. There is even now slumbering there moral power sufficient to revolutionize the war-sentiments of all Christendom; and this power ought forthwith to be put in requisition for the accomplishment of a reform so devoutly to be wished. Coming from the first families in the land, moving in the higher circles of society, and occasionally going forth to teach in academies and common schools, they might, even during the course of their education, easily perform for the cause of peace services of vital importance; but when they enter upon the stage of public action, and take the place of those who are now guiding the helm of state, giving law to public opinion, and shaping the character and destiny of the world, they will be able to exert in its behalf a

still wider and more powerful influence. As teachers, editors and authors; as expounders of law, or professors of the healing art ; as preachers of the gospel, or guardians of society and government, they will hold in their hands the main-springs of the world, and could, if they would, so far saturate the public mind with a love of peace, and abhorrence of war, as to prevent this scourge fro ever returning upon civilized nat ns.

Most earnestly, then, would we commend this cause not only to the cultivated, leading minds already on the stage of public life, but especially to the rising generation of scholars now in our seminaries of learning. Fain would we press its claims on your conscience as well as your self-interest. Its destiny is suspended mainly on you; and your character and circumstances, your future pursuits and interests, your obligations to society and to God, all unite in demanding of you special services for a cause so important in itself, and so indissolubly linked with the welfare of your country and the world. Open your mind then to its claims. Examine the subject for yourselves ; you will find it full of unexpected interest. Read and reflect upon it at your leisure. Discuss it in your literary associations. Try your powers upon it both in prose and verse. Make it a topic of frequent conversation, and fully resolve so far to master the whole subject, and so deeply to imbue yourselves with its spirit, that you will feel self-impelled to its earnest, habitual advocacy, and be well prepared in future life to plead with success the clairns of an enterprise so vital to the welfare of all mankind for time and eternity.

CHARLES SUMNER.-One of the obstacles to be encountered by the advocate of Peace, is the warlike tone of literature. The world has supped so full with battles, that all its inner modes of thought, and many of its rules of conduet, seem ro be incarnadined with blood; as the bones of swine, fed on madder, are said to become red. Fain would I offer my tribute to the Father of Poetry, standing, with harp of immortał melody, on the misty mountain top of distant antiquity ; to all those stories of courage and sacrifice which emblazon the annals of Greece and Rome ; to the fulminations of Demosthenes, and the splendors of Tully ; 10 the sweet verse of Virgil, and the poetic prose of Livy. Fain would I offer my tribute to the new literature which shot up in modern times as a vigorous forest from the burnt site of ancient woods; to the passionate song of the Troubadour of France, and the Minnesinger of Germany; to the thrilling ballads of Spain, and the delicate music of the Italian lyre. But from all these bas breathed the breath of war, that has swept the heart-strings of innumerable generations of men!

DOUGLASS JERROLD.-Now, look aside, and contemptate God's image with a musket. Behold the crowning glory of his work managed like a machine, to slay the image of God, ta stain the teeming earth with homicidal blood, to fill the air with howling anguish! Is not yonder row of clowns a melancholy sight? Yet are they the sucklings of glory, the baby mighty ones of a future gazette. What a fine looking thing is war! Yet, dress it as we may, dress and feather it, daub it with gold, Luzza it, and sing swaggering songs about it, what is it, nine times out of ten, but murder in uniform-Cain taking the sergeant's shilling?

But the craft of min has made a splendid ceremony of homicide. He slaughters with flags Aying, drums beating, trumpets braying. He kills according to method, and has worldly honors for his grim kandiwork. He does not, like the unchristian savage, carry away with him mortal trophies from the skulls of his enemies. No; the alchemy or magic of authority turns his wellworn scalps into epaulettes, or hangs them in stars and crosses at his button-hole; and then, the battle over, the dead not eaten, but carefully buried, and the maimed and mangled howling and blaspheining in hospitals, the meek Christian warrior marches to church, and, reverently folding his sweet and spotless hands, sings Te Deum! And this spirit of destruction is canonized by the craft and ignorance of man, and worshipped as glory! This religion of the sword, this dazzling heathenism which makes a pomp of wickedness, seizes and distracts us even on the threshold of life. Swords and drums are our baby play-things; and, as we grow older, the outward magnificence of the ogre Glory, his trappings and his trumpets, his privileges, and the songs that are shouted in his praise, ensnare the bigger baby to his sacrifice. Hence slaughter becomes an exalted profession; the marked, distinguished employment of what is called a gentleman !!

But, man of war! you are at length shrinking, withering like an aged giant. You are not now the feathered thing you werethe fingers of Opinion have been busy at your plumes ; and then that little tube, the goose-quill, has sent its silent shots into your huge anatomy, and the corroding ink, even whilst you look at it, and think it shines so brightly, is eating into your sword with a tooth of rust.

Leigh Hunt.-I firmly believe that war, or the sending thousands of our fellow creatures to cut one another to bits, often for what they have no concern in, nor understand, will one day be reckoned far more absurd than if people were to settle an argument over the dinner-table with their knives !-a logic, indeed, which was once fashionable in some places during the “good old times.” The world has seen the absurdity of that practice; why should it not come to years of discretion, with respect to violence on a larger scale? Why should not every national dispute be referred to a third party? There is reason to suppose, that the judgment would stand a good chance of being impartial; and it would benefit the character of the judge, and dispose him to receive judg. ments of the same kind ; till at length the custom would prevail, like any other custom ; and men be astonished at the customs that preceded it. In private life, none but school-boys and the vulgar settle disputes by blows; even duelling is losing its dignity.

Two nations, or, most likely, two governments, have a dispute ; they reason the point backwards and forwards ; they cannot determine it, perhaps do not wish to determine it; so, like two carmen in the street, they fight it out; first, however, dressing themselves up to look fine, and pluming themselves on their absurdity, just as if the two carmen were to go and put on their Sunday clothes, and stick a feather in their hat besides, in order to be as dignified and fantastic as possible. They then go at it, and cover themselves with mud, blood and glory! Can any thing be more ridiculous ? Yet the similitude is not one atom too ludicrous; no, nor a thousandth part enough so.

THOMAS CARLYLE.—What is the net purport and upshot of war? To my own knowledge, for example, there dwell and toil, in the British village of Dumdrudge, usually some five hundred souls. From these, by certain natural enemies' of the French, there are successively selected, during the French war, say thirty able-bodied men. Dumdrudge, at her own expense, has suckled and nursed them; she has, not without difficulty and sorrow, fed them up to manhood, and even trained them to crafts, so that one can weave, another build, another hammer, and the weakest can stand under thirty stone avoirdupois. Nevertheless, amid much weeping and swearing, they are selected; all dressed in red, and shipped away, at the public charges, some two thousand miles, or say only to the south of Spain, and fed there till wanted. And now, to that same spot_in the south of Spain, are thirty similar French artisans, from a French Dumdrudge, in like manner wending; till at length, after infinite effort, the two parties come into actual juxta-position; and thirty stand fronting thirty, each with a gun in his hand. Straightway the word ' fire !' is given; and they blow the souls out of one another; and in place of sixty brisk, useful craftsmen, the world has sixty dead carcasses, which it must bury, and anew shed tears for.

Had these men any quarrel ? Busy as the devil is, not the smallest! They lived far enough apart; were the entirest strangers; nay, in so wide a universe, there was even, unconsciously, by commerce, some mutual helpfulness between them. How then ? Simpleton! their governors had fallen out; and, instead of shooting one another, had the cunning to make these poor blockheads shoot.-Alas, so is it in Deutschland, and hitherto in all other lands; still, as of old, what devilry soever kings do, the Greeks must pay the piper !'


« PreviousContinue »