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I may assert very safely, that there is no one natural evil, by which ihe unhappy race of man is afflicted, so ruinous in its effects as war : not the hurricane, nor the earthquake, nor the plague is so disastrous and overwhelming to the different nations, as their mutual contests. Nor is there any one moral evil, not even intemperance, so desolating to mankind.
To prevent misapprehension 1 would remark, that in respect to the right of a strictly defensive war, as the repulsion of an invading foe, there seems to be no more reason to doubt, than in respect to the right of executing a pirate and murderer. The sword of the magistrate is not to be confined to evil-doers of the community, over which he rules, but may, with the same reason, strike the evil-doers, who come from abroad.
With this adınission as to an unavoidable, defensive war, let us now look for a moment at the bearing of wars on national interest and national happiness.
If we consider national interest as consisting in the greatest happiness of the greatest number, we may perceive, that wars are destructive in various ways to this interest.
1. The immense destruction of human agency is to be taken into the account.
It is a settled principle in political economy, that human industry produces wealth. “ Labor was the first price, the original purchase-money, that was paid for all things.”" It is to labor, and to labor only, that man owes every thing, possessed of exchangeable value. Labor is the talisman, that has raised him from the condition of the savage, that has changed the desert and the forest into cultivated fields, that has covered the earth with cities and the ocean with ships, that has given us plenty, comfort, and elegance, instead of want, misery, and barbarism.”—Thus speak the masters in political economy.
As all values are then the products of human labor, the greater the number of laborers, the greater is the wealth, which may be produced. No nation has yet found the limits of a useful population. If in some countries those limits seem to be passed, it is because unwise political arrangements exclude many from the productive industry, in which they might be employed. They might till the unnumbered acres of proud forests, and idle, luxurious fields around them: at least, the world has many an uncultured spot, where their toils would be rewarded. Human agents for the production of wealth are still wanted in Europe ; and the world longs for millions of an industrious and virtuous population, to be added to its numbers.
But war sweeps away these laborers, these producers of wealth. It selects for its victims the most vigorous and active, and drags them from the smiling vintage and the joyous harvest-field to the field of battle and of death. The untilled ground grows up to weeds, and the noise of the busy workshop is silent. The whole depopulated land mourns.
Of how many battles do we read, in which forty or fifty thousand men have fallen ? How often has an army of one hundred thousand men been consumed in a campaign? Who is ignorant, that in the expedition of Napoleon into Russia, half a million of men perished ? When the flower and vigor of France were thus destroyed, the labors of the field and of the workshop were performed by females and by old men and children, until a new race grew up to supply the waste of war.
But this loss of life, occasioned by ambitious heroes and blood-thirsty tyrants, is not to be reckoned by thousands. There have been several men, as Julius Cæsar, GenghisKhan, Tamerlane, and Napoleon, to whom the amazing eminence must be ascribed of having caused the destruction of millions of their species. Is there a man of blood, who stands on a higher pinnacle than they? That man is the ferocious bigot, Philip II. of Spain, who died in 1598, and who confessed in his last will, that " he had sacrificed twenty millions of men to his lust of dominion, and laid more countries waste, than all he owned in Europe.”
2. The destruction of wealth, which is ever the accompaniment of wars, swells the amount of national injury, caused by the loss of life. A soldier produces nothing ; yet must he be paid wages out of the products of the industrious. He must also be fed, and clothed, and equipped at their expense; and from the same source must be furnished all the costly materials of warfare. Let the affair be disguised as it may, the laboring people must always pay the expenses of war.
The late American war of only three years, cost one hundred and fifty millions of dollars. But this sum is a trifle, compared with the expenses of wars in other countries. The wars of Great Britain in the year 1815, cost two hundred and forty millions of dollars. The wars of France and Great Britain, from 1793 to 1815, a period of twenty-two years, cost each country about three thousand millions of dollars; and the whole cost of the wars of those twenty-two years, among the nations which are called Christian, has been estimated at twelve thousand millions of dollars. Who can comprehend the bearing of this immense loss on national happiness? Who can measure the extent of works of internal improvement, which this amount, thrown away in war, might have constructed ;—the wants, it might have supplied ; -the anxieties and pangs, it might have removed ;-and the tide of joy, it might have poured through the hearts of millions of wretched human beings ?
Besides this direct cost of wars, there is to be considered also the destruction of wealth in the trampled corn-field, the ruined village, and the plundered and burning city.
3. Wars are prejudicial to national happiness, not only by the destruction of human agency and wealth, but also by the miseries, which they occasion to the immediate victims and their friends, and the immoralities and crimes, of which they are the cause.
The proud statesman may think little of the anguish of the bleeding soldier, stretched upon the field of battle ; but every such man is one of a nation, and his misery is a part of the sum of national misery. Besides, then, the thousands who are instantaneously killed, with no calm moment of preparation for eternity; there are other thousands, who survive for a longer or shorter time with horrible wounds and mangled limbs :—Some of the crippled and helpless, as the wave of battle rushes to and fro, are trodden down by the hoofs of the war-horse, or crushed beneath the wheels of the artillery. Extended on the cold ground, burning with a fierce thirst, and overwhelmed with the severity of pain from undressed wounds—how many think of their far distant home, and of the wife, the sisters, or the children, who cannot soothe them by sympathy, nor alleviate their misery by kind attentions? How many linger
How many linger a few weeks in torture, cursing the mad ambition of their leader or their own folly, and then sink down into death?
During Wellington's war against the French, while in pursuit of the retreating enemy, a British officer arrived at Mirando Cervo in Portugal. Meeting a haggard-looking woman in the street, she told him he would find comfortable
accommodation in an old convent, to which she pointed, at a little distance, “and you will find,” said she, “nobody there to disturb you.” He immediately went to the place, and, walking up a long flight of stairs, entered the convent, when he beheld, sitting and lying before him, a hundred human beings, some with their eyes looking upon him with a fixed gaze, but all dead. It was an abandoned hospital. Every face was bloodless, agonized, and horrid. These were the corpses of sick and wounded soldiers. Such were they, who, as the officer was told, “ would not trouble him.”
Repair now to the home of the victims of war, and witness the anguish of bereaved relatives ; and then say, whether war, which causes mourning through a whole land, is not an incalculable national evil?
In all the exploits of Wellington, there is nothing so truly · honorable, as the letter which he wrote after the battle of : Waterloo ;-in which he said to a father, whose son had fallen—"I cannot express to you the regret and sorrow, with which I contemplate the losses the country and the service have sustained.-The glory, resulting from actions 'so dearly bought, is no consolation to me, and I cannot imagine, that it is any to you."
In connection with the miseries of war, its immoralities ought also to be considered. A virtuous population is the glory of a country; but war corrupts the surviving soldiers, and, when they return to their firesides, they bring back pollution and wretchedness with them. And this, however overlooked it may be by statesmen, is a still greater evil than the destruction of life and property. All government is for the benefit of individuals ; and individuals cannot be happy without a principle of virtue. Exemption from want and the possession of wealth are nothing compared with this. A corrupt people is contemptible and miserable. A corrupt people is a fit tool for å tyrant. But it is the certain, necessary effect of war to spread a corrupting influence through the community. Men of plunder and men of blood cannot be expected to be very nice in their moral distinctions. The indulgence of the malignant and ferocious passions and of eager appetites amidst the license of war, creates, or strengthens evil habits; and the iniquity, which is thus brought into families, spreads itself and transmits itself to a new generation, producing new harvests of pollution and misery. And as this corruption may abide with the char
acter after this life, attended by wretchedness, he, who can fathom eternity, can calculate the evil of war.
But, admitting that war is a great and incalculable evil, there are those, who consider it as unavoidable and necessary, and therefore will make no efforts to resist the inevitable: doom of our species. An illustrious man, the second preşi-, dent of our country, has said this—that experience had convinced him, “that wars are necessary, and as inevitable, in "* our system, as hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanoes.". But, if wars depend on the will of man; then they are not necessary and inevitable, like events which are beyond human control and which result from the established laws of nature. Wars are obviously no more necessary, than adut: teries, thests, duels, and assassinations.
In a despotic government, when one man wields an irresistible power, he may wage war, so long as his terrified subjects submit to his authority ; so long as his instruments of fight work his will. But in a free government, like our's; : the remedy for war is in the hands of the people. Publio opinion will govern. Let the people detest war, and their representatives, and agents, and servants will avoid' wari Let public opinion be correct in one part of the country, and it may turn the decisive vote, which settles the question of peace and war, and involves the happiness of thousands; in time and for eternity.
! But, let us listen for a moment to some more particular: defences of war and objections to the project of universal: peace.
First, it may be said, that without the check of wars: the world would soon be burdened by a population too numerous : to be supported. But if war is a crime, resulting from the.. will of man-always a crime, on the one side at least—then. there is no reason nor virtue in promoting it, nor in acquiescing in it, while it is preventable. Assuredly it is not our province to provide against the contingency of too many inhabitants on the earth. As well might the corporation of London hire a body of assassins to thin off its crowded citi
Let us leave the yet future disaster of an overstocked world to the wisdom and providence of its Creator.
Next, it may be said, that wars always have been and therefore always will be. But is the long duration of an evil any reason for rendering it perpetual, or for despairing. of its removal ? Slavery has always existed : shall we then