« PreviousContinue »
human suffering. When by the carelessness of the boatmen, or the surging of the sea, the boats struck against the stone piers, a horrid cry, piercing the very soul, arose from the mangled wretches on board. Nor was the scene less affecting on the tops of the pier, where the wounded were being carried away to the hospitals in every shape of misery, whilst crowds of Spaniards either assisted, or looked on with signs of horror. Meanwhile their companions who had escaped unhurt, walked up and down with folded arms and down-cast eyes, whilst women sat on heaps of arms, broken furniture and baggage, with their heads bent between their knees. I had no inclination to follow the litters of the wounded; yet I learned that every hospital in Cadiz was already full, and the convents and churches were appropriated to the remainder.'
Sir Charles Bell, the eminent surgeon who was present in the hospitals after the battle of Waterloo, says the wounded French continued to be brought in for several days; and the British soldiers who had in the morning been moved by the piteous cries of those they carried, I saw in the evening so hardened by the repetition of the scene, and by fatigue, as to become indifferent to the sufferings they occasioned.
• It was now the thirteenth day after the battle. It is impossible to conceive the sufferings of men rudely carried at such a period of their wounds. When I first entered the hospital, these Frenchmen had been roused and excited in a degree quite extraordinary ; and in the glance of their eyes there was a character of fierceness which I never expected to witness in the human countenance. On the second day, the temporary excitement had subsided; and, turn which way I might, I encountered every form of entreaty from those whose condition left no need of words to stir compassion.
Surgeon Major, oh, how I suffer! Dress my wounds—do dress my wounds!— Doctor, cut off my leg! Oh! I suffer too much!” And when these entreaties were unavailing, you might hear in a weak, inward voice of despair, “I shall die-I am a dead man!” ?
The following sketch from a British officer in Portugal will help us still further to conceive the horrors of a hospital. “I entered the town of Mirando Cervo about dusk. It had been a black, grim, gloomy sort of day. Huge masses of clouds lay motionless on the sky; and then they would break up suddenly as with a whirlwind, and roll off in the red and bloody distance. I felt myself in a strange sort of excitement; my imagination got the better of all my other faculties; and, while walking out in the principal street, I met a woman, an old haggard-looking wretch, who had in her hollow eyes an unaccountable expression of cruelty, a glance like that of madness; but her deportment was quiet and rational, and, though clad in squallidness, she was evidently of the middle rank in society. Without being questioned, she told me in broken English, I should find comfortable accommodations in an old convent at some distance in a grove of cork-trees, pointing to them with her long, shrivelled hand and arm, and giving a sort of hysterical laugh.
• I followed her advice, anticipating no danger or adventure ; yet the wild eyes, and the still wilder voice of the old crone so powerfully affected me, that I walked, in a sort of muse, up a pretty long flight of steps, and found myself standing at the entrance to the cloisters of the convent. A strange sight now burst upon my view! Before me lay and sat more than a hundred dead bodies, all of them apparently in the very attitude or posture in which they had died. I gazed at them a minute or more before I knew that they were all corpses; and a desperate courage then enabled me to look steadfastly at the scene before me. The bodies were mostly clothed in mats, and rags, and tattered great coats; some of them were merely wrapt round about with girdles composed of straw; and two or three were perfectly naked. Every face had a different expression, but all painful, horrid, agonized, bloodless. Many glazed eyes were wide open; and perhaps this was the most shocking thing in the whole spectacleso many eyes that saw not, all seemingly fixed upon different objects; some cast up to heaven, some looking straight forward, and others with the white orbs turned round, and deep sunk in their sockets. It was a sort of hospital; and these wretched beings, nearly all desperately wounded, had been stripped by their comrades, and left there either dead, or to die.
*This ghastly sight I had begun to view with some composure, when I saw, at the remotest part of the hospital, a gigantic figure sitting, all covered with blood, and almost naked, upon a rude bedstead, with his back leaning against the wall, and his eyes fixed directly on mine. I first thought him alive, and shuddered; but he was stone dead! In his last agonies he had bitten his under lip almost entirely off, and his long black beard was drenched in clotted gore, that likewise lay in large blots upon his shaggy bosom. One of his hands had convulsively grasped the woodwork of the bedstead, and crushed it in the grasp. I recognized the corpse. He was a sergeant in a grenadier regiment, and had, during the retreat, been distinguished for acts of savage valor. One day he killed with his own hand Harry Warburton, the righthand man of my own company, perhaps the most powerful man in the British army. There sat the giant frozen to death. I went . up to him, and, raising his brawny arm, it fell down again with a hollow sound against the bloody side of the corpse.
“My eyes unconsciously wandered along the walls. They were covered with grotesque figures and caricatures of the English, absolutely drawn in blood! Horrid blasphemies, and the most shocking obscenities in the shape of songs, were in like manner written there. I observed two books lying on the floor, and picked them up. One was full of the most hideous obscenity; the other was the Bible! It is impossible to tell the horror produced in me by this circumstance. The books dropt from my hand, and fell on the breast of one of the bodies—it was a woman's breast! Yes, a woman had lived and died in such a place as this ! What had been in that now still, death-cold heart, perhaps only a few hours before, I knew not-possibly love strong as death ; love, guilty, abandoned, linked by vice unto misery, but still love that perished only with the last throb, and yearned in its last convulsion towards some one of these grim dead bodies.
• Near this corpse lay that of a perfect boy not more than seventeen years of age. Round his neck was suspended, by a chain of hair, a little copper figure of the Virgin Mary, and in his hand was a letter in French. I glanced at it, and read enough to know it was from a mother—My dear Son, &c. It was a terrible place to think of mother-of home-of any social, any human ties. What! have these ghastly things parents, brothers, sisters, lovers? Were they once all happy in peaceful homes? Did these convulsed, bloody, mangled bodies ever lie in undisturbed beds? Did these clutched hands once press in infancy a mother's breast ? Now, alas, how loathsome, terrible, ghostlike! Will such creatures, thought I, ever live again ? Robbers, ravishers, incendiaries, murderers, suicides-a dragoon there had obviously blown out his own brains—here is a very pandemonium of guilt and horror!'
Such are the illustrations of war in the heart of Christendom itself at the dawn of the nineteenth century! Are they like the gospel-like its spirit, its principles, its promised results ? Are such woes, such atrocities and horrors necessary, inevitable ? Must they continue even in Christendom forever? Need they ever be repeated again under the blessed light of revelation ? Is there not power
the gospel, God's own panacea for all human ills, to prevent it? Most certainly; and all we need is a right application of its pacific principles. Here is a sovereign remedy for war; but, like every other remedy, it must be applied before it can cure, and it is the business of Christians to apply it wherever the evil is found. Who else wilt make the application ? Hlas not the Prince of Peace devolved this duty upon them as peculiarly, emphatically their own? Will they not then array themselves as one man against a sin so foul, a scourge so terrible? Are you willing that such evils should ever befall your country, and your own father or brothers, your own husband or sons, should be doomed to similar cruelties and sufferings? If not, gird yourself in earnest for the work of putting an end to war first in Christendom, and finally through the world. Means are just as indispensable in this cause as in any other ; but, if used aright, the God of Peace is pledged to crown them in due time with complete SAFETY OF PACIFIC PRINCIPLES.
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.
THERE are two ways to keep men from injuring us—by compulsion, or persuasion ; by brute force, or kind moral influence; by appeals to their fears alone, or addresses to their conscience and better feelings. We may resort to the law of violence, or the law of love; we may rely on the principle of war, or the principle of peace. One threatens, the other persuades; one hates and curses, the other loves and blesses ; the former gives back insult and injury with interest, while the latter meekly turns the other cheek to the sıniter, forgives even its bitterest enemies, and strives to overcome evil only with good.
No man, at all acquainted with the gospel, needs to be told which of these methods is most accordant with its principles. The bare statement must suffice for any one who has read either the New Testament or the Old; who has traced the example of Christ and his Apostles, or caught from their lips such instructions as these,-lay aside all malice ; do good unto all men ; love your enemies, bless them that curse you, and do good to them that despitefully use you ; resist not evil, but whoso smiteth you on one cheek, turn to him the other also ; recompense to no man evil for evil, but overcome evil with good.
Here is the Christian mode of preventing or curing evils ; but most persons deem it unsafe, and resort to some form of violence. They have little confidence in the power of reason or truth, of justice or kindness, to hold in check bad passions of but employ for this purpose threats of evil, and engines of vengeance and death. Fear they seem to regard as the only effectual restraint upon mischief or guilt; and hence they arm themselves with pistols and daggers against their personal foes, and think it madness for nations to rely for protection, one against another, on any thing but fleets and armies, a soldiery well trained, and fortifications well manned. Milder means, appeals to the better feelings of our nature, they would not entirely discard ; but the former they make their last resort, their sole reliance, and honestly believe that war is the only sure way to peace; that there is no real security but in bloodshed; that we must either fight, or become the prey of malice or ambition, of rapacity or revenge. Nor can we deny that the history of our world, written mainly in blood, and detailing a series of almost incessant jealousies and conflicts between nations, would seem to justify such an opinion; and yet we verily believe that pacific principles are the surest safeguard, and would, if rightly used, suffice, far better than any war-methods, to avert or mitigate the evils incident from bad passions to individual or national intercourse.
Let us first ascertain the precise point in dispute. The question is not whether the principles of peace, any measures of forbearance, kindness and conciliation will, in every case, avert all evil. The depravity of mankind forbids the hope. It is morally impossible; and no means devised by the policy of man, or the wisdom of God, have hitherto succeeded in securing such a result. The war-principle has been tried all over the earth for nearly six thousand years; but has it kept man from preying upon his brother, or nation from rising against nation? Has it prevented bloodshed, violence, rapine, injustice, oppression, despotism, the countless wrongs and evils that form nearly the sum total of history ? Surely then war is no security against the bad passions of men; it would seem hardly possible for any system to produce worse results; and hence we are forced to the inquiry, as the only point at issue, whether a policy strictly pacific will prevent more evil, and secure more good, than war-methods actually have.
The advocates of war seem even now to concede the very point in debate ; for they all admit, that we ought to use pacific expedients as long as we can, and to draw the sword only as a last and inevitable resort. This admission recognizes the superiority of pacific over warlike measures ; and we should, if consistent, abandon the latter, and adopt the former as our uniform and permanent policy.
History too, though extremely barren of examples to illustrate the efficacy of pacific principles, does nevertheless furnish some strong presumptions in their favor. War, as an engine of mere force and vengeance, belongs to a state entirely savage; and communities, like individuals, abandon or relax the war-principle just as fast as they rise in the scale of general cultivation, and come under the sway of moral influences. Nations, even while retaining the war-system in the back-ground as their ultimate reliance, have already reached the wisdom of employing for the most part pacific expedients for the prevention or adjustinent of difficulties with each other. They retain the sword, but keep it in the scabbard, and are fast superceding its use by the substitution of pacific methods. They continue the war-system either by the force of habit, or as a sort of scare-crow; it looms up before the world very like an old, useless hulk afloat on the ocean as a memento of the past, and a warning to the future ; while they sedulously use in its stead the policy of peace in more than nine cases out of ten, and thus bear an unconscious but decisive testimony to the vast superiority of the former.
We can find in history no considerable nation acting on the strictest principles of peace; but those which approach the nearest to these principles, uniformly enjoy the highest degree of safety and prosperity. Take China, Switzerland, or the United States; and you will see in their case a striking confirmation of this truth, and a strong presumptive argument for the strictest principles of peace. None of them have given up the system of armed self-defence; but they have for the most part adopted a