Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

“Death in approaching, terrible, imparts

An anxious horror to the bravest hearts ;
Yet do their beating breasts demand the strife,
And thirst of glory quells the love of life."

“There Confusion, Terror's child,

Conflict fierce and ruin wild,
Agony that pants for breath,
Despair and honourable Death."

ON WAR.

CHAPTER I.

“They who allow no war at all to be lawful, have consulted both nature and religion much better than they who think it

may be entered into to comply with the ambition, covetousness, or revenge of the greatest princes and monarchs upon earth: as if God had only inhibited single murders, and left mankind to be massacred according to the humour and appetite of unjust and unreasonable men, of what degree or quality soever.”—LORD CLARENDON.

On the discovery of the treasures of California, people from all nations flocked thither to gather them. The promiscuous assemblage had no government, laws, or police. They arrived poor, intending to return home laden with the wealth which lay mingled with the soil. Yet he riches which the finder might carry away with him, some preferred to obtain by fraud and violence. Those banditti seized upon ground previously occupied by more peaceful and honest adventurers, robbed them of their golden store, maltreated, or murdered them. The

B

2

DEFENSIVE WAR,

English and Americans therefore instituted trial by jury, and on conviction of the offenders, appointed armed men to execute the sentence. Thus the worst members of that new community were restrained, and the rest enabled to dig in peace and encamp in safety.

What they did in California is necessary everywhere. All civilized nations have governments, civil laws, criminal laws, and coercive measures to vindicate right, to punish wrong, and protect the persons, property, and lives of the people. A nation thus overcomes, by superior power, the crimes that would otherwise overspread and overwhelm it.

That beautiful precept, “Resist not evil,” which enjoins us to curb the angry passions, to be more ready to forgive than to retaliate injuries, does not prohibit the resistance of evil, by the prevention or punishment of crimes. For the ruling power “beareth not the sword in vain, but is a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” And if the ruling power beareth the sword to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil as a robber or a murderer, why not also upon ten thousand, or twenty thousand,

[blocks in formation]

or a hundred thousand men, who combine together within or without the state, to commit that concentration of evils and accumulation of wrongs, called War?

If some subjects resist their rulers wrongfully in open rebellion; if foreigners, on some unlawful pretext, threaten to invade our shores, shall no avenging arm be uplifted, to prevent and to punish them, although both might and right are on our side? Shall robbers and murderers be made to suffer for their crimes against individuals, but when they conspire in multitudes and rebel against the whole nation, shall they be allowed to prosecute their nefarious designs unresisted, and to accomplish them with impunity? Shall an armed host of spoilers and manslayers from abroad, prepared for rapine, bloodshed, conflagration, and remorseless ruin, be tamely permitted to land on our coasts, slaughter the dismayed inhabitants, and devastate the country?

Some amiable and very estimable men take this view of the unlawfulness even of defensive

Rebels, it is said, or foreign invaders, may sack and burn our towns and villages ; our

war.

4

CONTINENTAL INSURRECTIONS

mothers, wives, and daughters may be carried off by a licentious and brutal soldiery; our country may be ruined, its power broken, its glorious institutions perish, the abodes of domestic peace, comfort, and happiness be laid waste with fire and slaughter, and the remnant of the miserable inhabitants be enslaved,—but we must not fight. Our repugnance to battle is not from cowardice, but from principle; our courage may be strong, but our consciences must be tender. Brave as lions, we must be gentle as doves.

These pacific sentiments, when conscientious, are to be respected. If all mankind were to think and act thus, wars would cease. this is still a wicked and a warring world, we are compelled to believe that the time has not yet come, when it is possible to dispense with policemen and soldiers, or that we can safely turn our gaols into granaries and our swords into ploughshares.

After the unusual interval of peace among the nations of Europe, for more than thirty years, civil war broke forth in France, and spread from nation to nation; Milan, Genoa,

But as

« AnteriorContinua »