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what a conviction rushes on you, that nothing deserves the name of wo, but that which crime inflicts. You feel, that there is a sweetness, loveliness, sacredness in suffering and death, when pervaded by holy affections; and that infinite wretchedness and despair gather over these, when springing from unholy passion, when bearing the brand of crime.
I do not mean to deny, that the physical sufferings of war are great, and should incite us to labor for its abolition. But sufferings, separate from crime, coming not through man's wickedness, but from the laws of nature, are not unmixed evils. They have a ministry of love. God has ordained them, that they should bind men to one another, that they should touch and soften the human heart, that they should call forth mutual aid, solace, gratitude, and self-forgetting love. Sorrow is the chief cement of souls. Death, coming in the order of nature, gathers round the sufferer sympathizing, anxious friends, who watch day and night, with suffused eyes and heart-breathed prayer, to avert or mitigate the last agonies. It calls up tender recollections, inspires solemn thought, rebukes human pride, obscures the world's glories, and speaks of immortality. From the still death-bed, what softening, subduing, chastening, exalting influences proceed. But death in war, death from the hand of man, sears the heart and conscience, kills human sympathies, and scatters the thought of judgment to come. Man dying in battle, unsolaced, unpitied, and a victim to hatred, rapacity, and insatiable ambition, leaves behind him wrongs to be revenged. His blood does not speak peace or speak of heaven; but sends forth a maddening cry, and exasperates survivors to new struggles.
Thus war adds to suffering the unutterable weight of crime, and defeats the holy and blessed ministry which all suffering is intended to fulfil
. When I look back on the ages of conflict through which the race has passed, what most moves me is not the awful amount of suffering which war has inflicted. This may be borne. The terrible thought is, that this has been the work of crime; that men, whose great law is love, have been one another's butchers; that God's children have stained his beautiful earth, made beautiful for their home, with one another's blood; that the shriek, which comes to us from all regions and ages, has been extorted by human cruelty; that man has been a demon, and has turned earth into hell.
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.
LOSS OF LIFE BY WAR.
Life is man's chief earthly boon. It is essential to all his other blessings; and without it he can neither do, nor enjoy, nor be any thing. It is the means of all his acquisitions; it is the medium of all his enjoyments; it is the pivot of his destiny for two worlds, the seed-time of his whole immortal being, the period of his preparation for a blissful or a miserable immortality!
Such is life, the destruction of which is the grand aim of war. For what else are its engines constructed, its science and its skill taught, its arts and stratagems practised, all its daring and desperate deeds undertaken? For what purpose its swords and bayonets, its muskets and cannon, its bombs and rockets, and other instruments of death? Are they not made and used almost solely for the butchery of mankind? Is it not for this as her grand object, that Christendom still maintains her two thousand war-ships, still keeps her millions of human blood-hounds ready for their prey, and loads her toiling, struggling, starving myriads with debts and taxes? Have not the chief energies of our race for nearly six thousand years, been absorbed, all over the earth, in the work of mutual butchery ?
Surely, then, the result must be a fearful sacrifice of life. The sum total we cannot ascertain; but let us consider first how war obstructs the increase of mankind, and next how it actually destroys them; its work of prevention, and its work of destruction, both of which conspire to swell the incalculable amount of its havoc.
We cannot dwell on the thousand ways in which war prevents the legitimate and salutary growth of our species. The general poverty which it creates, must tend to hold back the mass of the community from marriage. Virtue is the chief nurse of population ; but this custom is a hot-bed of vice and crime. It reeks with licentiousness; and every one knows that such habits in a community are fatal to the increase of its numbers, and often suffice alone to insure, as in the South-Sea Islands, a steady and rapid diminution. Its laws, its stern exigencies, forbid in most cases the marriage of its agents; and the great body of
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 infiuence 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 war. 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 persons, 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