« PrécédentContinuer »
and new potentates to conquer: who routed armies which could scarce be numbered, and took cities which were deemed impregnable. Do they not follow him in the path of slaughter with horrid complacency? and when they see him deluge the peaceful fields of industrious simplicity with blood, and leave them desolate to the widow and the orphan of the possessor, do not they grow frantic in his praise, and concur to deify the mortal who could conquer only for glory, and return the kingdoms that he won?
To these questions I am confident the greater part of mankind must answer in the affirmative; and yet nothing can be more absurd than their different apprehensions of the
hero and the thief.
The conduct of Bagshot and Alexander had in general the same motives, and the same tendency; they both sought a private gratification at the expense of others, and every circumstance in which they differ is greatly in favour of Bagshot.
Bagshot when he had lost his last shilling, had lost the power of gratifying every appetite, whether criminal or innocent and the recovery of this power was the object of his expedition. Alexander when he set out to conquer the world, possessed all that Bagshot hoped to acquire, and more; all his appetites and passions were gratified, as far as the gratification of them was possible; and as the force of temptation is always supposed proportionably to extenuate guilt, Alexander's guilt was evidently greater than Bagshot's, because it cannot be pretended that his temptation was equal.
But though Alexander could not equally increase the means of his own happiness, yet he produced much more dreadful and extensive evil to society in the attempt. Bagshot killed two men; and I have related the murder and its consequences, with such particulars as usually rouse that sensibility, which often lies torpid during narratives of general calamity.
Alexander perhaps destroyed a mil lion: and whoever reflects, that each individual of this number had some tender attachments which were broken by his death; some parent or wife with whom he mingled tears in the parting embrace, and who longed with fond solicitude for his return; or perhaps, some infant whom his labour was to feed, and his vigilance protect; will see, that Alexander was more the pest of society than Bagshot, and more deserved a gibbet in the proportion of a million to one.
It may perhaps be thought absurd, to enquire into the virtues of Bagshot's character; and yet virtue has never been thought incompatible with that of Alexander. Alexander, we are told, gave proof of his greatness of mind, by his contempt of danger; but as Bagshot's danger was equally voluntary and imminent, there ought to be no doubt but that his mind was equally great. Alexander indeed gave back the kingdoms that he won; but, after the conquest of a kingdom, what remained for Alexander to give? To a prince whose country he had invaded with unprovoked hostility, and from whom he had violently wrested the blessings of peace, he gave a dominion over the widows and orphans of those he had slain, the tinsel of dependent greatness, and the badge of royal subjection. And does not Bagshot deserve equal honour for throwing back a shilling to the man, whose person he had insulted, and whose son he had stabbed to the heart? Alexander did not ravish or massacre the women whom he found in the tent of Darius: neither did honest Bagshot kill the gentleman whom he had plundered when he was no longer able to resist.
If Bagshot, then, is justly dragged to prison, amidst the tumult of rage, menaces, and execrations; let Alexander, whom the lords of reason have extolled for ages, be no longer thought worthy of a triumph.
As the acquisition of honour is fre
quently a motive to the risk of life, it is of great importance to confer it only upon virtue; and as honour is conferred by the public voice, it is of equal moment to strip those vices of their disguise which have been mistaken for virtue. The wretches who compose the army of a tyrant, are associated by folly in the service of rapine and murder; and that men should imagine they were deserving honour by the massacre of each other, merely to flatter ambition with a new title, is perhaps as inscrutable a mystery as any that has perplexed reason, and as gross an absurdity as any that has disgraced it. It is not, indeed, so much to punish vice, as to prevent misery, that I wish to see it always branded with infamy: for even the successes of vice terminate in the anguish of disappointment. To Alexander, the fruit of all his conquests was tears; and whoever goes about to gratify intemperate wishes, will labour to as little purpose as he who should attempt to fill a sive with
I was accidentally led to pursue my subject in this train, by the sight of an historical chart, in which the rise, the progress, the declension, and duration of empire, are represented by the arrangement of different colours; and in which, not only extent, but duration is rendered a sensible object. The Grecian empire, which is distinguished by a deep red, is a long but narrow line; because, though Alexander marked the world with his colour from Macedonia to Egypt, yet the colours peculiar to the hereditary potentates whom he dispossessed, again took place upon his death: and indeed the question, whose name shall be connected with a particular country as its king, is to those who hazard life in the decision, as trifling, as whether a small spot in a chart should be stained with red or yellow. That man should be permitted to decide such questions by means so dreadful, is a reflection under which he only can rejoice who believes that God only
reigns; and can appropriate the promise, that all things shall work together for good.
To the Editor of the Herald of Peace.
SIR,-Having been taught in my infancy that Christians, as well as others, are justified in carrying on the terrible, though I supposed necessary business of War, I could not but regard as fanatics all those individuals who refused to bear arms, when called upon so to do by the voice of their countrymen, or by the authoritative requirements of their government. With such feelings, it will not appear surprising that, when musing one day upon the benefits which would probably have resulted from the universal prevalence of Christianity (thus understood) at an early period of its history, I should have fallen into such reveries as the following:
Methought the Jews of Palestine and Syria, together with the Heathens of Asia Minor, had by universal consent adopted the faith of Christ; and that the apostle Paul, instead of being carried a prisoner to Rome, and falling a victim to the cruelty of Nero, had been chosen by the tens of thousands of Asiatic converts to be their legislator and sovereign.
Again I beheld, in the flights of my imagination, the zealous and polished inhabitants of Greece, who had thrown down the altars of Jupiter and Venus, Bacchus and Diana, and were resolved to serve the true God only, whom they before time had ignorantly worshipped as the unknown God-I saw them meeting in crowds, and sending to Athens deputies, whose chief business was to elect some one as their governor and chief, who should regulate their affairs at home, and lead them against their common enemy the Romans. Shortly afterwards an honourable embassage from the assembled deputies was seen, bearing costly robes and ornaments, and entering the humble habitation of that
disciple whom Jesus loved. appeared the venerable man himself, who, instead of exile to Patinos, and an agonizing death in a cauldron of burning oil, I beheld seated on a splendid throne, and decked out in all the ensigns of regal pomp.
See! the fierce engagement begins. As the many-oared ships rush violently past each other, showers of darts, arrows, and stones, are promiscuously thrown by their christianized crews. But the contest between these warriors of Asia and Europe becomes closer, and more destructive. Several brave vessels, with their unhappy mariners and soldiers, have sunk beneath the waves, pierced in twain by the sharp prows of their more successful antagonists; others secure with their iron grapnels those that would fly, and a fearful, bloody struggle ensues.
The inhabitants of these Asiatic and European countries having, under the conduct of their Christian leaders (who headed their armies, and were greatly distinguished by their martial prowess,) after many bloody encounters, succeeded in throwing off the Roman yoke, prepared to sit down quietly, and enjoy the fruits of their hard-earned independence. In the mean time, the amiable disciple who leaned on the bosom of his Master, and the great apostle of the Gentiles, who desired to know nothing Swords flash in air, or glitter on the ground; among his converts but Christ crucified, prepared to occupy themselves in political arrangements, and to fortify their separate sovereignties by foreign alliances.
But alas! this calm was only of short duration. The subjects of the chief magistrate of Greece laid claim to an island in the Archipelago, which the Asiatics considered as belonging to them. Mindful of their Master's command to love one another,' the two leaders employed several couriers to settle the difference amicably. But the question of right was not easy to be ascertained; and as the people and courtiers of each country, after several epistles of remonstrance and explanation, could not think of abandoning their supposed possessions, and as no other mode of adjustment, besides an appeal to arms, occurred to them, War was determined upon.
Many a vessel with its iron or brazen prow, and well furnished with weapons of human destruction, was prepared; and ere long the waters of the Archipelago were crowded with the hostile fleets. Near the little spot in dispute, the opposing forces met; the one to claim, the other to defend what was of no value, compared with peace and happiness of man.
No room to poise the lance or bend the bow,
But hand in hand and man to man they grow;
With streaming blood the slipp'ry shores are dy'd,
In the midst of this scene of carnage and desolation, I beheld the beloved disciple in a ship richly adorned with many a splendid device. He was surrounded with his armed bands, and waved high his brilliant sword, as yet unstained with human blood.
Presently, piercing through the thickest of the fight, darted forward the royal ship of Asia, adorned with all the pomp of eastern magnificence. Fired with rage, and impatient to terminate the furious contest, appeared in gorgeous and martial array the apostle Paul, brandishing aloft his bloody falchion, and urging the rowers to give increasing rapidity to his flying galley. Too late the Grecian helmsman strives to meet prow with prow. The brazen and well sharpened beak of the Asiatic strikes with a dreadful concussion the side of the Grecian ship. Instantly she parts in two, the deeply ensanguined waters close over her, and the hope of Greece is overwhelmed for ever; while a shout of triumph arose from the conqueror's ships, which, together with the horror of the spectacle, put an end to the wanderings of my imagination. I
[From the Friend of Peace.] THERE is no action of the mind more calculated to depress the spirits, and to excite painful reflection in the Christian, than a review of those dreadful contests in which men have been so frequently engaged with their fellow men. Scarcely has one war terminated, scarcely have the panting exhausted nations had time to recover a little from the effects of their mortal struggles with each other, than new sources of contention have arisen, and the hacked sword, yet stained with human blood, must be re-sharpened for the awful work of slaughter.
To these observations we have been led by the perusal of an article in The Friend of Peace, entitled, "Review of the Wars of Britain, No. 6." The substance of this communication we purpose submitting to the view of our readers, only remarking, that while we bitterly lament the facts enumerated, we presume not to investigate the motives which led to them. The question with us has ever been one of Christian morality, independent altogether of political principles.
It is stated, that from the accession of "George the First to the present day, more than two thirds of the time have been employed in the work of destroying our fellow men." This is a melancholy reflection, the remem`brance of which will not fail, we hope, to influence our future principles and conduct as a people, and make every individualamong us peculiarly anxious to preserve and to promote a spirit of peace.
"In the twelve years' reign of George the First, there were two insurrections in Scotland in favour of the Pretender, two wars with Spain,
and a war with Sweden and with Russia. These however were of short duration.”
"The former part of the succeeding reign, which began in 1727, the people of England enjoyed an uncommon interval of peace. But in 1739, war was made on Spain; and soon after the nations of Europe seem to have run mad: Alliances were formed, which involved nearly all the European powers in a long and sanguinary conflict, in which many hundreds of thousands of human victims were sacrificed to the ambition of princes, statesmen, and generals." In this contest England unhappily was involved; and in the midst of it another bloody struggle was made in Scotland in favour of the Pretender. "The peace of Aix la Chapelle, in 1748, suspended for a time the Continental war in Europe; but this spread to India, and between France and England it was carried on in that quarter of the world to 1754. The next year a war commenced between these two powers, relating to their claims and possessions in North America. Before this contest was closed, another war occurred between Britain and the natives of India. The flames of war were also rekindled between the European powers; and Germany was again doomed to see her "fertile fields and her opulent cities devastated by contending armies." In this war also England was engaged; and in the midst of it the British sovereign died, after a reign of thirty-four years, about twenty of which had been lamentably occupied in war.
"While the nation was engaged in wars both in Europe and America, George the Third commenced his reign. These contests were still prolonged; and in 1762, another war with Spain was added to the lists. Peace was again restored in 1763.”
In 1767 began the war with Hyder Ally, which continued for more than two years. In 1774, another contest arose in that country between the Rohillas and the British.
April 1775 the war between Great Britain and her America colonies commenced, which was prolonged to 1783. In its progress it involved a war with France, a war with Spain, and a war with Holland." The termination of which afforded an afflicting example of the total unsuitableness, and, frequently, inutility of settling national disputes by an appeal to the sword.
During the contest with the American colonies, a war broke out in India, between the British and the Mahrattas, and soon after another war with Hyder Ally, which continued to 1784. Then a peace was concluded with Tippoo Saib, son and successor of Hyder Ally." "But in 1790 this peace was interrupted, and a war broke out with Tippoo Saib, which continued to 1792."
"In 1793 Britain engaged in a war with the Revolutionary Government of France, which was prolonged to 1802. During this contest there was a formidable and destructive rebellion in Ireland, in 1798, and what Mr. Bigland calls a glorious war' in India in 1799 with Tippoo Saib. It may also be added, that in 1801 England was engaged, not only in hostilities with France, but also with Spain, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, and Russia."
The peace of Amiens, 1802, was of no longer duration than one year. The war between Britain and France then recommenced. In its course, it involved nearly all the powers of Europe on one side or the other, and extended its ravages to every quarter of the world. Prior to its termination in Europe, it occasioned a war between Great Britain and the United States, which did not end till 1815.
In the same year Napoleon Buonaparte made his escape from Elba, arrived in France, rekindled the flames of war, and in a short time occasioned the destruction of more, perhaps, than a hundred thousand men. In this short war, Great Britain shared largely, and lost many thousands of her troops at the horrible
battle of Waterloo. A great part of the time since the peace of Europe was proclaimed, the British nation has been at war with the natives of India.
"Such, however, is the insanity which always accompanies war, that there is little reason to doubt that the people" on both sides "have been made to believe, that each of these innumerable wars was just and necessary. Nor shall we deny that they were all rendered necessary by the barbarous principles, passions, and policy, which have for ages governed the conduct of men in power. But when these numerous wars shall be examined impartially, and on enlightened principles, it will perhaps appear that every one of them might have been avoided, had the genuine spirit of Christian love and forbearance been duly exercised by the rulers of that country."
"The people of the United States will doubtless admit, that the first war of Britain on this country might have been avoided, had her rulers been governed by Christian principles and a Christian spirit. Yet on the maxims and principles of government which were then popular in Europe, that war, on the part of Britain, was unavoidable, and perhaps as just and necessary as almost any war in which she has been engaged for ten centuries. There was not probably any colonies on earth less oppressed by their government than the American colonies prior to the Revolution; nor any government in Europe which would not have made war on subjects for such causes as Britain made war on us. Still we believe that war to have been perfectly unjust, and one which might easily have been avoided on pacific principles."
Our Review of the Wars of Britain has not been undertaken for the purpose of reproaching the country of our ancestors, nor to represent our British brethren as sinners above' all other nations; but to exhibit the horrible fruits of the war-policy, which has been so popular in the world. It will