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But the most fertile source of all the warlike madness by which the world has ever been afflicted, is the idea of GLORY, so unfortunately attached to the spirit of military enterprise. This association has been the more dangerously influential, because it frequently derives its strength from an union with feelings that are in themselves right and valuable. The sentiment which teaches us to despise a mean and cowardly temper is natural and correct, Now meanness and cowardice have indeed given birth to a quiet acquiescence under injuries, though not to that magnanimous forbearance, that moral resistance, which are only produced by truly Christian motives. As, however, the immediate effects of each are similar, men forget to distinguish between two principles, the most opposite in their origin and tendency, and involve both in the same indiscriminating censure. Again, self-devotion and courage are properly objects of respect. The admirer of military honour, seeing these qualities exemplified in his hero, admits them to their due rank in his esteem; but he admits with them sentiments and actions that, deprived of their adventitious companions, could only have excited unmingled disgust. Two distinct ideas—the idea of grandeur of soul, and the idea of destructive violence, become thenceforth united. Shall it then be said, that they are necessarily and inseparably united? The time has been when a deed of abstract revenge was hailed with similar enthusiasm, and from a similar cause; the idea of revenge had been associated with the ideas of
The custom of feudal warfare was once deemed so honourable, or so necessary, as to merit the sanction of legislative authority. To expose to the hootings of popular derision the unhappy captives of her arms, was the crowning triumph of polished Rome. All these feelings have passed away; we look back upon them with curiosity and surprise: we almost wonder they could ever have existed. And may not the time arrive when national warfare shall be regarded among the relics of departed barbarism; when men shall have learnt that the spirit of freedom and heroic disinterestedness is worthy of more dignified associates than rapine, injustice, and bloodshed ?
Even at present, notwithstanding the habitual perversion of our sentiments, the mind experiences a more exalted emotion of pleasure in contemplating the enduring fortitude of the martyr, than the active bravery of the warrior; and an accidental trait of humanity in the chronicles of war shines like a bright spot arnid surrounding darkness. * When too, at seasons of intellectual expansion, we look
this earth as upon a mere speck in creation ; the mighty shadow of human glory vanishes into air. We laugh at the insignificant quarrels and imaginary importance of its inhabitants, who, like ants swarming from their petty citadels, are disputing each their inch of ground. We then feel that the real dignity of man can only consist in that elevation of soul, that superiority of mind over matter, by which he approaches the rank of angels. The courage of the bravest soldier is in fact so greatly dependent on mere animal excitement, and is so often found totally unconnected with all the nobler qualities of heart and head, that it deserves rather to be classed with the instinctive ferocity of the tiger, than with those lofty principles which animate and sustain the true hero.
Let us imagine a man, whose character, formed under the influence of these principles, is unalloyed by any mixture of warlike delusion. We see him consecrating all the faculties of his soul, not to the destruction, but to the improvement of his species. His ardent and comprehensive benevolence recognises no narrow limits of sect or country. Regardless of personal interest, he pursues his philanthropic course, and rejoices to feel himself the friend of man, and a follower of God. While he weeps over the blindness of his brethren, he dedicates his life to their illumination. He does not indeed seek to redress their grievances by rushing into the field of battle; yet his are no idle wishes-no inactive speculations. He can oppose unyielding fortitude to unrelenting tyranny; and he can raise the voice of honest indignation against the wanton abuses of power, until the energies of multitudes are aroused for their suppression. He loves glory, indeed; but it is the glory appropriated to the
* The following story, from the History of Switzerland, in the 14th century will serve to illustrate this remark.
During the various disputes which accompanied each successive election of an emperor, Soleure having embraced the cause of Louis of Bavaria, was besieged by Duke Leopold; and a great inundation of the Aar having carried away his works, machines, and bridges, a great number of his men were in imminent danger of perishing. At this moment the Soleurians, forgetful of all hostile considerations, put off in boats and rescued them. The Duke was touched, and, unwilling to be outdone in magnanimity, requested to be introduced into the town, with only thirty followers, presented a banner, and made peace.” Is there any one who does not feel the beauty of this anecdote, and who does not feel it the more forcibly from the strong impression of contrast ?
benefactor of his race. His eye is lighted up with enthusiasm, --it is the enthusiasm of benevolence. His spirit remains unmoved alike amid the shafts of calumny, or the more open assaults of undisguised enmity. Despised, persecuted, abandoned, he can still, in the testimony of a good conscience, lift up his eyes to an unfailing Protector,still breathe a prayer for the triumph of that great cause to which his heart is devoted,—the downfal of error, and the universal diffusion of light, love, and happiness among men.
Who, that has dwelt upon a character like this, can turn to the contemplation of the most splendid deeds ever enrolled in the annals of military fame, and not feel the immeasurable distance between the courage
of a Christian and that of a Warrior,—not confess that there is a spirit of forbearance which, far from being the ally of pusillanimous weakness, is fitted to excite the sublimest emotions of admiration and respect ?
Since, then, it has been proved that the practice of war is directly opposed to the tenour of Christianity,—that its chance of effecting ultimate good is, in the most favourable case, extremely small, while it is in its very nature productive of incalculable mischief, leaving to the vanquished unmitigated misery, and to the victor a large preponderance of evil, balanced only by the disgraceful joy of selfish exultation,—that it is almost always inadequate to the end proposed, - that the cause of justice might be far better maintained by other means, and that the spirit which supports it is founded in delusion, let
every friend to humanity labour for its abolition. And let not the advocates of peace despair, when they contemplate the apparent magnitude of their task. They ust not indeed expect, that a custom so deeply rooted in the prejudices and passions of mankind, will be speedily eradicated; but they may at least foretell that national wars will not much longer be waged at the caprice of a few; for the tide of public opinion has already advanced with such rapidity as will authorize them to look forward with confidence to its final triumph. And when they reflect on the inportant changes that opinion has undergone, almost within their own memory ;- the trade in human flesh (enjoying scarcely less prescriptive sanction than the practice of war) no longer vindicated as innocent ;—prisons not as formerly the abodes of unpitied wretchedness, where the criminal was doomed by aggravated and disproportioned sufferings to expiate his crime, and increase his guilt:--more especially, when they consider how power. fully that intercourse, which now subsists among benevolent individuals of various countries, whom national differences had too long kept asunder, and who have lately begun to combine in the promotion of philanthropic purposes, must tend to restore alienated affection, and to cement those bonds that unite man to man,- they will be encouraged to persevere in their endeavours to infuse into the current as it flows, a portion of that pacific spirit which alone can render its stream permanently fertilizing. In this labour of love, none are too insignificant to co-operate. It is by an union of individual exertions that every great object is accomplished. If mothers, instead of teaching their infant charge to gaze with delight on the trappings of military preparations, or to listen with childish eagerness to the notes of military music, would early instil into their minds those feelings of universal sympathy, and that deep sense of the horrors of war, which reason and religion alike inculcate ;-if the young and fair would bestow on the exertions of benevolence those smiles too often the reward of sanguinary valour ;-if they, whom heaven has gifted with poetic talent, would dedicate to heaven's own cause an art so fatally misemployed in the celebration of warlike achievements,-we might then hope that the rapid diffusion of Christian knowledge and Christian piety would hasten the arrival of that glorious period, when throughout the world, "the work of righteousness shall be PEACE, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
Tract No. IX. Part I. of the Society for the Pro
motion of Permanent and Universal Peace.
PRINCIPLES OF PEACE
IN TRE CONDUCT OF
THE SOCIETY OF FRIENDS IN IRELAND,
During the Rebellion of the Year 1798
SOME PRELIMINARY AND CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS.
THOMAS HANCOCK, M. D,
IN THREE PARTS.
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