« ElőzőTovább »
the town, till the blaze became universal. The confusion was deepened by the clouds of smoke, the heaps of dead bodies that strewed the ground, the clash of swords, the crash of falling ruins, and the streams of blood which ran along the streets. The atmosphere glowed; and the intolerable heat at last compelled even the murderers to take refuge in their camp. In less than twelve hours, this strong, populous, and flourishing city, one of the finest in Germany, was a heap of ashes, with the exception of two churches and a few houses. The Administrator, Christian William, after receiving several wounds, was taken prisoner, with three of the Burgomasters; most of the officers and magistrates had already met an enviable death. The avarice of the officers had saved four hundred of the richest citizens from death, in the hope of extorting from them an exorbitant ransom. This piece of humanity was owing principally to the officers of the League; and even this questionable clemency, when contrasted with the blind and ruthless butchery of the Austrians, made them be regarded as guardian angels by the citizens.
"Scarcely had the flames abated, when the Imperial soldiers returned to satiate anew their rage for plunder amidst the ruins and ashes of the town. Many were suffocated by the smoke; many found rich booty in the cellars, where the citizens had concealed their valuable effects. On the 13th of May, Tilly himself appeared in the town, after the streets had been cleared of ashes and corpses. Horrible and revolting to humanity was the scene that presented itself. The living crawling from under the dead, children wandering about with heart-rending cries, seeking their parents; and infants still sucking the dead bodies of their mothers. More than five thousand bodies were thrown into the Elbe, to clear the streets; a much greater number had been
consumed by the flames.-The entire amount of the slaughter was calculated at thirty thousand.”*
It has been our object, in the extracts which have been made, not only to give a general idea of the miseries of war, but in particular to free the mind from that illusion, to which it is so liable to, be subject, when it contemplates things in the mass, and is either too indolent or too little interested, to look into their elements. Well does the author of Recollections of the Peninsula say, "when the history of any individual, who has fallen, is brought before us, we feel deeply, but wander over ground, covered with corpses about whom we know nothing, with comparative indifference; yet if we knew the history attached to each lifeless body, on which we gazed, with what tales of sorrow should we not become acquainted!" In this very writer, who was himself an officer in the English army of the Peninsula, and who seems to have been sufficiently partial to a soldier's life, we have a number of affecting instances fully illustrative of this just remark. What recompense had the pomp and splendour of military life to that wretched captain of the 29th regiment, who, dreadfully lacerated by a ball, lay directly in the path of his comrades, and with a heart-rending accent of grief, cried for water, or that they would kill him; but no one regarded his request ! What consolation had the glitter of an epaulette and the sound of the spirit-stirring fife for that mangled and lifeless youth, not yet eighteen years of age, the darling child of a fond mother, who mourned in brokenness of heart on the banks of the murmuring and peaceful Loire! What balm was it in the power of earth to furnish to that miserable man, who, coming upon the field of Victoria and inquiring for his two sons, the only remains of his beloved family, found them both dead! Who can Harbinger of Peace, Volume I, Page 234.
measure the misery of that native of Arragon, who had himself been wounded in the field of battle, who had seen his mother dying of grief, his wife brutally dishonored and perishing in a hospital, his cottage burnt, and his father led out and shot in the market place of his native village! * It is not enough, when we hear of twenty or thirty thousand slain on the field of battle, to heave a sentimental sigh, or to utter an unmeaning ejaculation of astonishment. Such an occasion is one, if we mistake not, which requires real astonishment, real sorrow, deep reflection, anxious inquiry, the exercise of the benevolent sympathies, and unfeigned humiliation before God. It is impossible to repress the desire we feel, that men generally, particularly those who profess to be guided by the principles of the Gospel, should look this great subject fearlessly in the face, not only in its outlines, but its details. With but few exceptions it is certainly not too much to say, that they have never done it as yet. Let it not for a moment be supposed that we can excuse ourselves in this important inquiry; that we can step aside and leave it to others; that we have personally nothing to do, no responsibility to meet, no opinion to express, no warning to utter. The poet Cowper has somewhere said, that he would not reckon in his list of friends the man, who should needlessly set foot upon a worm; and it will not be denied, that this language is expressive of a disposition which promptly commends itself to the just and benevolent feelings of our nature. Yes, it is beyond all question, that as men, as creatures of God, we are to be sparing even of the blood of a brute animal, of the life even of an insect. And what shall we say then, when we steadily contemplate the scenes, which have now been laid open before us; when we see not mere worms and insects destroyed, but human beings; men, created
* See Recollections of the Peninsula, Am. Ed. pp. 159, 162, 243, 247.
in our own likeness, horribly mangled and torn to pieces; in some cases thousands of acres of ground covered with piles of dead; women and children pierced through and dashed down and trodden into dust; the wounded left to perish on bleak snows or burnt to death in their own hospitals; multitudes frozen with the cold and perishing with famine; every possible form and degree of agony and despair. Can we be deemed unreasonable in saying, that this is a state of things which must be met, must be looked into; that it is high time for philosophers, for politicians, above all for professed Christians to scrutinize it with the deepest solicitude? Shall the attention of the whole scientific and intellectual world be directed to the comparatively trifling circumstance of the discovery of a new plant, to the fall of a meteoric stone, or to some atmospheric phenomenon, and shall war, that great moral phenomenon, so inexplicable as to strike angels with astonishment and to fill even the spirits of darkness with wonder, be deemed of so little consequence as to arrest no thought, excite no feeling, and secure no spirit of inquiry?
NOTE. In the extracts from Labaume we have adopted Mr. Rees' Translation of Select Passages, contained in his Tract, entitled Sketches of the Horrors of War, in preference to extracting from the Translation, without the name of the author, in common circulation.
INFLUENCE OF WAR ON DOMESTIC LIFE.
IN exhibiting the evils of war, more attention has generally been paid to the immediate horrors of the battle field, than to the less marked and more remote evils, which have been felt from this source in domestic life. So many attractions, addressed both to the sight and the imagination, throng around the memorable spot, where large armies meet and engage in battle, that, notwithstanding the inexpressible horrors of such a scene, men seldom turn away to contemplate the insulated objects of interest, scattered here and there in the distance. How many have dwelt with excited imaginations, and with a sincere feeling of deep commiseration, on the carnage of Austerlitz and Waterloo, to whom it has never occurred to turn to the distracted sister, mourning in her distant home over her fallen brother; or to the mother weeping in solitude over her beloved son; or to the wife, lamenting with inexpressible grief, the untimely death of her husband! We propose, therefore, in the remarks which we are to follow in this chapter to indicate some of the unpropitious bearings of War on domestic life.
And in doing this it is hardly necessary to remark, that in domestic life we are to look for a large share of what yet remains of earthly quiet and happiness.-The philanthropist and the Christian find much in the present