Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

an astonished world, its inhabitants were not found in this respect, to possess any peculiar traits of character. Impelled by the same passions, they gave vent to them in the same manner. Their enterprises were those of hunting and war, i. e. their chief employment was to preserve their own lives, and to kill their enemies. A similar remark may be made in reference to the savage inhabitants, possessing the isles, either of the Pacific or Indian Ocean. They are known to have been, in the words of inspiration : hateful, and hating one another.

From the remarks already made, it appears, that whatever pre-eminence man may possess, when compared with other animals inhabiting the globe, this superiority is not evinced by the absence of hostile feelings and habits. Wherever there are human beings, there are wars; wherever wars exist, there is deadly hatred ;-a public, systematical endeavor to shed human blood. Nor are we to imagine, that though war may be an evil from which no nation is wholly exempt, it is, however, an evil of unfrequent occurrence. From the building of Rome, to the reign of Augustus ; i. e. for a period of more than seven hundred years, the temple of Janus was shut but twice; i. e. with only two interruptions, the Romans had war for seven centuries. From an account, published in London, four years since, it appears that from the year 1110 to 1813, the number of wars between France and England, was twenty four; and that two hundred and sixty years of the seven hundred were employed by those nations, in hostility and mutual destruction ; that from 1161, to 1471, a term of three hundred and ten years, one hundred and eighty six were spent in war; that from 1368 they were at war one hundred and one years in one hundred and three, having a peace only of two years duration. In the national character, either of the ancient Romans, or of the modern French and English, ferocity cannot be considered as characteristic. If other nations, therefore, have not, for as great a proportion of the time, endured the burdens, and felt the calamities of war, it must be attributed to fortuitous causes, and not to moral principle.

It will readily occur to you that, even if the evils of war were moderate in their kind, they would still compose a vast aggregate, considering their great extent, and the frequency of their occurrence. We are next to show, that the evils of war are not moderate in their kind.

It is, by no means, my intention, on this occasion, to attempt a finished picture. I shall only sketch a few of its hard and prominent features; and these will be exhibited, not in the glowing colors which the imagination might furnish, but in the simple attire of authentic history.

In every war, it has been thought, that as many perish by tigue, casualty, and disease, as are slain in battle; and those who are slain in one battle, may, or may not be, a small part of all that fall in arms, during the existence of a war. In the battle fought at Issus, between Darius and Alexander, the former is stated to have lost one hundred and ten thousand. In the first battle which the Romans fought with the Cimbri and Teutones, nations of Germany, the latter slew of their invaders, eighty thousand. In the second battle, the fortune of war was changed, and the Germans lost one hundred and forty thousand slain.* When Attila entered Gaul, at the head of a vast army of Huns, in one battle with Theodoric, king of the Visigoths, he lost, says the historian, at least one hundred and sixty thousand men.f · The loss sustained by the French, in the battle of Cressy, was soinewhat more than thirty thousand. In the battle of Angora, in 1402, between Bajazet and Tamerlane, the whole number of slain is stated by the Abbe Millot, to have been three hundred and forty thousand. In the action of Malplaquet, the Duke of Marlborough, though victorious, is said to have left twenty thousand men dead on the field.I The loss sustained by the enemy, was probably greater. Of the number killed in the dreadful battle of Borodino, fresh in the minds of all present, accounts essentially vary. The mean number is fifty thousand.

* Of 40,000, who were in the city of Avaricum, scarce 800 survived. Caes. Bel. Gal. vii. 28.

| Le Sage mentions the number, as 300,000. See Atlas Historique, &c.

One hundred thousand were massacred at the seige of Philopolis, Gibbon, 1. 399. The Persians lost 30,000 at the seige of Amida, Gib, III. 209.

But, ceasing to confine our attention to a single battle, we may extend it to the whole Russian campaign. of the four hundred thousand warriors, who had crossed the Niemen, scarcely twenty thousand men returned. Of the Italian troops, commanded by the Viceroy, not more than eight hundred survived.

The savage features of war are distinctly seen, when we contemplate the besieging of towns and strongly fortified places. While the siege is maintained, there are no intervals, as to the excitement and terror. There is perpetually a fearful anticipation of the final result. To increase this evil, and to render it the more insupportable, the body may be worn down with fatigue, and perhaps exhausted by famine. So extreme is sometimes the hunger of the besieged, that human flesh, nay, the flesh of friends and children has been consumed for food. At the siege of Paris, in the latter part of the sixteenth century, human bones were pulverized and used for bread. In view of what the besieged endure, and what they anticipate, it will hardly create surprise, that some, reduced to desperation by their sufierings and their prospects, have, by voluntary death, anticipated both the course of nature, and the violence of their invaders. Accordingly, after the destruction of Jerusalem, certain Jews, who took refuge in the castle of Masada, being closely besieged by the Romans, at the persuasion of their leader, first murdered their wives and children; then they slew one another, till but one remained, who, having set fire to the castle, stabbed himself. Something similar to this occurred in Spain, during the second Punic war. The inhabitants of Saguntum, that they might not fall into the hands of the Carthaginian army, burnt themselves, with their houses and all their effects. When Trajan was engaged in his second war with the Dacians, in one of their cities, besieged by the Romans, the men, despairing of its longer defence, having slain their wives and chil

[ocr errors]

dren, secretly withdrew to a large cavern in the mountains. There, unable to sustain or defend themselves, they procured a large quantity of poison; dissolved it in a caldron ; when a few individuals were appointed to deal out the fatal portion to the crowds, who rushed eagerly round this fountain of death.

Should you ask why the inhabitants of a besieged town should be rendered desperate by the prospect of speedy capture, I beg leave to refer you to facts of no distant date,-to accounts of no uncertain authority. When the gates of Moscow had been forced in the late war, so horrid were the outrages, committed on the persons of all whom they discovered," that fathers, desperate to save their children from pollution, would set fire to their place of refuge, and find a surer asylum in its flames.” Nothing, says Labaume, a French officer, present on the occasion, could equal the anguish, which absorbed every feeling heart, and which increased in the dead of night, by the cries of the miserable victims, who were savagely murdered, and by the screams of defenceless females, who vainly fled for protection to their weeping mothers.

In view of that immense variety of sufferings, which results from war, imagination, fatigued and distracted, acknowledges the inadequacy of her powers. Your conceptions may, however, be in some measure aided, by reflecting on the alarming apprehensions, which, but a few years since, were entertained for this town, for your own families, and your own persons. Had invasion, which was not improbable, actually occurred; had it issued in capture and temporary subjugation, which was, doubtless, far within the limits of possibility, in your families and dwelling places, now the abodes of doinestic tranquillity, scenes of wanton waste and desolation might have been exhibited, acts of barbarity and gross licentiousness might have been perpetrated. But if war in our own country has never appeared in its full array of horrors, it must not be forgotten that thousands, to whom it has thus appeared, have felt, no less than we, attachment to life, fears of violent death, love to their families and altars, sensibility to the sufferings, or dishonor, of their parents, their wives, and their children.

In contemplation of the facts, which have now been mentioned, every person, possessing feelings, either of religion or humanity, is led to inquire, whether the future is to resemble the past; whether the earth is doomed to continue through all ages, the theatre of national wars; whether, as the human mind is cultivated, and as science and the arts are carried to greater persection, both will be employed in devising new instruments and methods for destroying the hopes, disturbing the enjoyments, consurning the habitations, and wasting the lives of men. In other words, Shall the sword devour forever?

To answer this question will now be attempted. I take it for granted, that all, to whom I am speaking, believe the Christian religion; and believe further, that Almighty God does not want the power to execute his promises and determinations. On these promises it is no difficult matter to establish a conclusion, highly favorable to the best feelings and hopes of mankind.

I. The empire of Christ, by which I mean the diffusion and effects of the Christian religion, shall be universal : All kings shall bow down before him; yea, all nations shall serve him. He shall have dominion from sea to sea, from the river to the ends of the earth. The stone, cut out of the mountain without hands, as seen in Nebuchadnezzar's vision, itself became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.

This kingdom shall be, not only universal, but perpetual : The God of heaven shall set up a kingdom, saith the prophet Daniel, which shall never be destroyed.—The kingdoros of this world, said the great voices in heaven, shall become the kingdoms of our God, and he shall reign forever and ever.--I have made a covenant with my chosen ; I have sworn unto David may servant: his seed also will I make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven.

Considering the character of him, who is placed at the head of this empire, namely, the Prince of Peace, its mild and pacific nature was to have been presumed. But testimony, as to this

« AnteriorContinuar »