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consecrated, and solemnly prays to God before he goes to destroy his neighbour. If the slain in a baitle do not exceed two or three thousand, thic fortunate commander does not think it worth thanking God for; but if, besides killing ten or twelve thousand men, he has been so far favoured by heaven as totally to destroy soire remarkable place, then a verbose hymn is sung in four parts, composed in a language unknown to all the comba
All countries pay a certain number of orators to celebrate these sarguinary actions, some in a long black coat, and over it a short docked cloak; others in a gown with a kind of shirt over it.--They are all very long winded in their harangues, and to illustrate a battle fought in Wateraria, bring up what passed thousands of years ago in Palestine.
At other times these gentry declaim against vice : they prove by syllcgisms and antitheses, that ladics, for slightly heightening the hue of their cheeks with a little carmine, will assuredly be the eternal objects of eternal vengeance; that Polyeute and Athalia * are the devil's works; that he whose table on a day of abstinence is loaded with fish to the amount of two hundred crowns, is infallibly saved; and that a poor man, for eating two penny worth of mutton, goes to the devil for ever and cver.
Among Among five or six thoutand such declamations, there may be, and that is the most, three or four written by a Gaul, named Massillon, which a gentleman may bear to read, but in not one of all these discourses has the author the spirit to animadvert on war, that scourge and crime which includes all others. These groveling speakers are continually prating against love, mankind's only solace, and the only way of repairing it's losses; not a word do they say of the detestable endeavours of the mighty for its destruction.
* Two French Tragedies.
BOURDALOUE! a very bad sermon hast thou m:ide against impurity, but not one, either bad or good, on those various kinds of murders, those robberies, those violences, that universal rage, by which the world is laid waste.
Ye bungling soul physicians ! to bellow for an hour and more against a few flea bites, and not say à word about that horrid distemper which tears us to pieces. Burn your books, ye moralizing philosophers! While the humour of a few shall make it an act of loyalty to butcher thousands of our fellow creatures, the part of mankind dedicated to heroisin will be the most execrable and destructive monsters in all nature. Of what avail is humanity, benevolence, modesty, temperance, mildness, discretion, and piety, when half a pound of lead, discharged at the distance of six hundred paces, shatters my body? When I expire at the age of twenty, under pains unspeakable, and amidst thousands in the same miserable condition ; when my
eyes at their last opening see my native town all in a blaze; and the last sounds I hear are the shrieks and groans of women expiring among the ruins, and all for the pretended interest of a man who is a stranger to us?
VOLTAIRE. Pbilosopb. Dict. art. War,
I wish those who have sufficient knowledge for the purpose, were willing or bold enough to oblige us with a detail of the villanies committed in armies by the contractors for subsistence and hospitals. We should then see that their monstrous frauds, already too well known, are the occasion of greater destruction among the soldiers, than the sword of the enemy, and that to such a degree as to make whole armies vanish as it were instantaneously from the face of the earth.
ROUSSEAU. Inegalité des Hommes, Note (6)
As war is the last of remedies, iunta prius tentanda, all lawful expedients must be used to avoid it. As war is the extreinity of evil, it is surely the duty of those whose station entrusts them with the care of nations, to avert it from their charge. There are diseases of animal nature which nothing but amputation can remove; so there may, by the depravation of human passions, be sometimes a gangrene in collective life for which fire and the sword are the necessary remedies; but in what can skill or caution be better shown than preventing such dreadful operations, while there is yet room for gentler methods ?
It is wonderful with what coolness and indifference the greater part of mankind see war commenced. Those that hear of it at a distance, or read of it in books, but have never presented its evils to their mirds, consider it as little more than a splendid game, a proclamation, an army, a battle, and a triumph. Some indeed must perish in the most successful field, but they die upon the bed of honour, resign their lives amidst the joys of conquest, and; filled with England's glory, smile in death.
The life of a modern soldier is ill represented by heroic fiction. War has means of destruction inore forinidable than the cannon and the sword. Of the thousands and ten thousands that perished in our late contests with France and Spain, a very small part ever felt the stroke of an enemy ;
the rest languished in tents and ships, amidst damps and putrefaction ; pale, torpid, spiritless, and helpless ; gasping and groaning, unpitied among men, made obdurate by long continuance of hopeless misery ; and were at last whelmed in pits, or heaved into the ocean, without notice and without remembrance. By incommodious encampmenrs and unwholesome stations, where courage is useless, and enterprize impracticable, fleets are silently dispeopled, and armies sluggishly melted away.
Thus is a people gradually exhausted, for the most part with little effect. The wars of civilized nations make very slow changes in the system of empire. The public perceive scarcely any alteration but an increase of debt; and the few individuals who are benefitted, are not supposed to have the clearest right to their advantages. If he that shared the danger enjoyed the profit, and after bleeding in the battle grew rich by the victory, he might shew his gains without envy. But at the conclusion of a ten years war, how are we recompensed for the death of multitudes and the expence of millions, but by contemplating the sudden glories of paymasters and agents, contractors and commissaries, whose equipages shine like meteors, and whose palaces rise like exhalations.
These are the men who, without virtue, labour, or hazard, are growing rich as their country is impoverished; they rejoice when obstinacy or ambition adds ancther year to slaughter and devastation ;, and laugh from their desks at bravery and science, while they are adding figure to figure, and cypher to cypher, hoping for a new contract from a new armament, and computing the profits of a siege or tempest.
JOHNSON. Faulkland Islands.
Good news! great news! glorious news ! cried young Oswald, as he entered his father's house. We have got a complete victory and killed I don't know how
many of the enemy; and we are to have bona fires and illuminations !