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crumbled away, and are known to us only through history, through the pen—the work of the sword has disappeared.
Could it be proven that each new empire came nearer to being civilized than did its predecessors, then it could be maintained that the work of arms tended to bring about this civil progress. But, in history, we see empires fall one after another, and very often darkness follows their decline. For instance, if we affirm that, in conquering the world, the Romans civilized it, we cannot claim that the rest of humanity was thereby much improved, because it was then that the barbaric hordes appeared, and after their brutal invasions the Roman Empire relapsed into nothingness, and the long, dark night of the Middle Ages settled for centuries upon it. Then, with the Renaissance, Roman civilization awoke and it was the Arts, Literature, the Codes and the spirit of legislation that revived it. Therefore, again we say that whatever remains of nations is not due to warlike deeds, but to artistic, literary, scientific and social achievements fostered in time of peace.
However, it must be conceded that, in civilization, war has played a necessary and defensive part. Of course, in order to develop, a nation required to be undisturbed, to protect itself from the possible encroachment of its neighbors and to insure its tranquillity. We are no longer alluding to aggressive warfare nor that of conquest, but to that of defense, and we must admit that it is frequently necessary. Indeed, I can readily understand why a people must sometimes defend itself; that is to say, be sufficiently strong and well armed to withstand becoming the prey of its neighbors, and be enabled to quietly accomplish the development of its interior civilization.
We are, I hope, witnessing in our day a slow transformation of the object of war. In the beginning of humanity, in heroic times, war was essentially an aggressive measure: a people attacked its neighbors intending to rob them of their country and reduce them to slavery. To-day, if such be the intention, at least it is not avowed. There is no longer question of anything but war of defense: one's domestic peace and possessions are threatened, and one enters the field merely in self-defense. The most military nations of the day, those most thoroughly organized and best equipped for war, excuse themselves for being upon such a footing on the plea that it is solely for the eventual defense of their country. Not
one of them would confess that it meditates an attack upon its neighbor and seeks the conquest of the world. It seems, therefore, that purpose of war is losing its virulence, since it no longer dares to be one of conquest and seeks its justification in the single necessity of defending the frontiers.
All this leads me to estimate the actual state of Europe. Since 1870, all the large European countries have been converted into immense intrenched camps. This state of affairs is, I believe, due to our defeats; in fact, it is certain that the formidable war footing on which Europe now lives is the result of the situation created by Germany's victories and by her conquest of the two provinces which she took from us. As Germany wished to retain these two provinces she was obliged to keep herself strongly armed; and as we, on the other hand, were anxious to regain them, we had to put ourselves on an equal footing with Germany. It necessarily followed that Austria, Italy, and even Russia, were constrained to do likewise, and therefore, as I have said, all the great nations of Europe are to-day possessed of troops innumerable, and may indeed be compared to huge intrenched camps. Such a situation has naturally produced very serious consequences. First of all, there is obligatory military service-whole nations under arms and at an incalculable cost to their respective treasuries. Next comes the question of equipment, and a great expenditure is required for fortifications, arms, provisions and all war materials. Besides, modern improvements in the manufacture of arms have caused weapons made at an earlier date to be discarded as useless and replaced by new ones, thereby greatly increasing national expenses, and, since 1870, the war budgets of European nations have consumed millions.
This state of affairs has begotten a peculiar social and political condition which threatens precipitate ruin. Business is more or less paralyzed; the money of the different countries goes into the war budget, this budget grows larger from year to year, and it really seems that, if things so continue, these nations must inevitably become bankrupt. And underlying it all there is much anxiety; it may not be admitted, but I am convinced that in poor countries, such as Italy, which has really gone to extremes in the matter of armament, the people know full well that, in case of war, their exorbitant military expenses would exhaust the national fund.
In the Conference held at The Hague there was an indication of this fear. I do not care to analyze the reasons which prompted the Emperor of Russia to convoke this Conference, but, be they what they might, they were born of the situation, they were in the very air. All nations are preoccupied. It is a universally evident fact that the war budget of each people is gradually consuming its fortune and that such a condition of affairs cannot continue indefinitely, unless the nations come to grief. Consequently, to the question of army equipment may be referred the financial, political and social anxiety now prevailing throughout Europe.
As has been said, the Conference of The Hague has been prolific of no practical result; still, I consider it a highly important event, a very propitious occurrence, inasmuch as it brought up the question. It showed the uneasiness of nations, indicated that they fully realize that the social and economic crisis through which they are passing is the issue of the terrible war footing on which the people of Europe are obliged to live. The opinion is an intelligent one: the existing situation is indeed awful, and may, in the near future, lead to catastrophe. I therefore consider the Conference of The Hague important, since it called forth a momentous question which must sooner or later be solved. Besides, in the thousands of millions uselessly expended by those nations which, without profit, are exhausting their finances in maintaining standing armies; in the continual improvement of military equipment which is ever making the engines of war more and more deadly—in all this, I, the avowed enemy of war, can see its approaching end. And why? Because it is evident that such a condition of affairs cannot last. Nations cannot remain forever under arms, for if they did, national production and social life would, in the long run, be arrested, hemmed in and sacrificed. Moreover, arms are becoming daily more murderous. With long-distance guns, with shells which are ever more destructive, with other late inventions, machines and explosives which, at a distance of kilometres, can annihilate entire regiments, it is evident that the character of warfare is changing; it is no longer a test of physical courage, a hand-to-hand encounter with sword or bayonet, but a sort of science by the practice of which one can destroy the enemy without approaching him. The aspect of warfare is indeed becoming so terrifying that henceforth one nation, before declaring war upon another, will probably pause and think a second time. It is no longer a question of hirelings fighting a duel in a corner, with two nations for witnesses; no, it is the two nations themselves falling upon each other with intent so abominable that, to terminate the bloody quarrel, either assailant must be destroyed.
Under such conditions war becomes execrable, and humanity should be spared like attacks. It is understood that before plunging into such excesses every possible means is employed to bring about an understanding, the more so, since at present, granting that all Europe is in arms, a war would not be confined to two nations, but would entangle all the neighboring countries till, at length, all Europe would find itself within the mesh, and a general massacre would ensue. This explains why, for the last thirty years, despite threats of war, despite the strong hatred existing between France and Germany, and all that we have been led to fear, there has been no war. And the further we go, the more impossible war seems to become, the more it appears to develop into a crime of high treason against humanity—an atrocity for which no nation would be responsible.
If present difficulties have reached such a pitch that we could not lay down our arms without first fighting it out; if, in the near future, we were to suffer from a sort of general conflagration, I think that war would be forever at an end: because, after the great massacre, the nations would be unfit to resume the struggle, and exhausted, filled with horror and pity, they would be convinced that henceforth peace should reign among them. Yes, the whole world would hold this last abomination in such remorseful abhorrence that warfare would surely die.
When I declared myself the adversary of war, it was not that the martial ideal is not grandly poetic. And that it is poetic may be learned by observing what is at present taking place in the Transvaal. Since the war broke out, we have beheld all nations intensely interested; the newspapers are replete with telegraphic dispatches and all correspondence from that quarter is eagerly perused, even we, the enemies of war, reading it most attentively.
It must be admitted that, in the Transvaal, the situation is peculiar, and I believe that the almost universal sympathy expressed for the Boers is elicited by facts which can be easily explained. The Transvaal is a republic, a small country struggling for its independence. Its antagonist is a very powerful nation, one with infinite pecuniary resources and that boasts its ability to
reduce its foes by sending into their midst troops four times more numerous than they can gather; a nation with immense imperial sway and possessions broadcast throughout the world, and confident of easily subduing the little republic which refused its submission.
Thus we see that the Transvaal is the weaker attacked by the stronger party, the free country seeking to defend its territory and its institutions, and it can be readily understood why the sympathy of the world at large should go out to the Transvaal and not to England, which seems like a great bull-dog, or lion if you will, pouncing treacherously upon an enemy who, it had supposed, would fall an easy prey to its greed.
Moreover, since the beginning of the war, the Boers have defended themselves most nobly and have inflicted bloody defeat upon their powerful assailants, in a manner to call forth the admiration of the entire world.
And here I would like to make a few personal remarks. From the outset of this war I have been appealed to from several different quarters and have received many letters, especially from Holland, soliciting my intervention. During the Dreyfus case the Dutch tendered me their sympathy and congratulated me upon
the attitude I had assumed in an affair of justice, and, looking upon me as a sort of mediator, they asked me to interpose in favor of the Boers, by addressing an open letter to the Queen of England, pleading the cause of humanity and justice, and showing her that it would be a crime to abuse her nation's strength in trying to enslave a small Republic which was seeking to preserve its independence. I resisted these appeals for several reasons. In the first place, I was and am still ignorant of the primary cause of this war: I have not studied the question, and its close consideration was something of which my occupation would not permit. Therefore, it would certainly have been difficult for me to decide either in favor of England or the Transvaal. Secondly, the question was a political one. If I interfered in the Dreyfus case it was because it was not a political issue, but one which concerned humanity and justice ; and my express desire being to keep aloof from politics, I felt the greatest repugnance toward meddling in the dark struggle between the English and the Boers. Besides, I did not consider myself an authority on any such subject. I felt that I would not be listened to and that I would speak in vain,