« ElőzőTovább »
but lately your dear mother died. To-day I die. And you, my son, though but young, must shortly follow us. "Yes, my father,' replied the broken hearted youth, 'I shall shortly follow you, for indeed I feel that I cannot live long.' And his melancholy anticipation was fulfilled in a manner more dreadful than is implied in the mere extinction of life. On seeing his father in the hands of the executioner, and then struggling in the halter, he stood like one transfixed and motionless with horror. Till then, proceeds the narration, he had wept incessantly; but soon as he saw that sight, the fountain of his tears was staunched, and he never wept more. He died insane; and in his last moments often called on his father, in terms that brought tears from the hardest hearts.*
We ask the favor of the reader's attention to one melancholy instance more.-Near the close of the last Century there was a family in France; their name and place of residence are not given by the narrator; but this the reader may be assured of, that the members of the family, as is the case generally, were tenderly attached to each other. Under the system of Conscription, which has so long prevailed in France, two brothers of this family were required to leave their home, and enter the army. They had joined the army but a short time, when they were called into action. In the heat of the engagement, one of these young men was killed by a musket ball, as he stood by the side of his brother. "The survivor, petrified with horror, was struck motionless at the sight. Some days afterwards he was sent in a state of complete idiotism to his father's house. His arrival produced a similar impression upon a third son of the same family. The news of the death of one of the brothers, and the derangement of the other, threw this third victim into a state of such consternation and stupor,
* Life of Marion, as quoted in Thatcher's Military Journal, p. 208.
as might have defied the powers of ancient or modern poetry to give an adequate representation of it. My sympathetic feelings, (says M. Pinel, who at that time had charge of the Bicetre Hospital and has given the account,) have been frequently arrested by the sad wreck of humanity, presented in the appearance of these degraded beings; but it was a scene truly heart-rending to see the wretched father come to weep over these miserable remains of his once enviable family."
Such instances as have now been given, show us how exceedingly those are mistaken, who imagine that the horrors of war are chiefly limited to the person of the soldier, and the boundaries of the battle-field. Happy would it be if such were the case. We might indeed consider ourselves as having great occasion to rejoice, if it could be satisfactorily shown that none but the poor soldiers with their mangled limbs and dying agonies are doomed to suffer in consequence of wars. But the soldier, vicious and degraded as he too often is, has yet his friends and relatives, who have watched over him and perhaps prayed over him, with the deepest affection and solicitude; some father, grey-headed and bowed down with years, some mother, in whose withered and decrepid form the passion of maternal love still glows with its inherent intensity: some sister, who, amid the distressing perplexities and contumelies of life, consoles herself with the recollection, that there is one, who, although less worthy than he ought to be, she can still call a brother. But the news comes suddenly from the field of battle, that he has fallen, that his manly form has been torn and crushed by the instruments of death, and that they have a son and a brother no longer. Then indeed is it true, that grey hairs are brought down with sorrow to the grave. But how much greater is their grief, when the victim of war, whose death they lament,
was adorned not only with the graces of form, but with every quality that is kind and amiable; with every trait that is pure, virtuous, and ennobling. Many are the individuals, doomed to fall on the fields of battle, over whose accomplishments and virtues, rival nations, that could agree in nothing else, have united in shedding the tear of heart-felt sorrow. But what can be their grief, who have beheld the lustre of those accomplishments and virtues only in the dim distance, compared with the sorrow of those near friends and relatives, in whose arms they first budded into life, and on whose bosoms they have shone from infancy!-Writers have from time to time given us the statistics of armies; it would perhaps be no difficult task for them to furnish the statistics of battle-fields, prison-ships, and military hospitals; but who is able, except that God without whom not even a sparrow falls, to give the statistics of the sighs and tears, the groans and the broken hearts of wretched parents, of mourning brothers and sisters, of desolate widows and orphans! We close this article by giving an extract from Grahame's British Georgics. Poets have often done injury by clothing the pomp and the heroic achievements of war in the enchantments of verse, and thereby encouraging a military spirit; happy will it be, when their lyre, so full of delight, and so potent in its influence, shall be attuned to the celebration of the arts of benevolence and peace; and happier will it be than it now is, when, as in the present instance, they paint the sufferings and blighting influence, rather than the factitious charms and glories of international strife.
"Once I beheld a captive, whom the wars
I asked his story. In my native tongue,
(Long use had made it easy as his own,)
I married one, who from my boyish days
Had been my playmate. One morn, I'll ne'er forget,
To warp a cradle for our child unborn,
INFLUENCE OF WAR ON THE MORALS OF SOLDIERS.
THE evils of war, in almost every possible point of view, have been pointed out. One form of those evils, however, has not arrested that attention, to which it seems to be justly entitled; we refer to the influence of war on the moral and religious character of the soldiers themselves. It is not necessary to assert, that the evil, which is now referred to, is one of the greatest resulting from a state of war; but it is certainly an evil so consid
erable as richly to deserve the notice of the philanthropist. In making this remark, we do not permit ourselves to forget, that the moral and religious improvement of the human race is one of the greatest objects, to which the attention of mankind can be directed. Certainly, when we consider, that this object was one of the most effective in bringing the Son of God down from heaven, this statement will not be likely to be regarded as an exaggerated one. And can it be pretended, that the moral and religious improvement of the soldier is less important than that of other men? On the supposition, therefore, that the moral and religious interests of the soldier are not less real and urgent than those of other classes of persons, we are prepared to enter into an examination of the circumstances, in which he is placed, considered in their bearing upon moral and religious character. And accordingly we do not hesitate to assert, that the life of a soldier is decidedly adverse to sound morals and particularly to religion.
In proof of this assertion we might rely, without going into particulars, on the prima facie evidence, which is every where presented. Who has ever supposed, or believed, that large armies were remarkable for the purity and strictness of their morals? Who has ever heard, with some rare and marked exceptions, of special attention to religion in the military encampment? Undoubtedly there have been at various times some distinguished soldiers, who have been men of religion. Such seems to have been the character of Col. Gardiner, who was killed at the battle of Preston Pans. And such probably was the character of many of the soldiers and officers, (among others, Fleetwood, Harrison, Goffe, Whalley, and perhaps Cromwell himself,) who bore a conspicuous part in the great English Revolution of 1640. It is almost literally true, that the soldiers on the Parliament