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“44 Wars of ambition to obtain extent of country.
22 Wars for plunder, tribute, &c. 24 Wars of retaliation or revenge. 8 Wars to settle some question of honor or prerog
ative. 6 Wars arising from disputed claims to some territory. 41 Wars arising from disputed titles to crowns. 30 Wars commenced under pretence of assisting an
ally. 23 Wars originating in jealousy of rival greatness.
5 Wars which have grown out of commerce. 55 Civil Wars. 28 Wars on account of religion, including the crusades
against the Turks and heretics."
We should naturally infer from the most superficial view of the causes enumerated in this Report, that many of them are very slight. But a more full examination would probably fill us with astonishment. Examine, for instance, those wars, which have arisen from a jealousy of rival greatness, or from a determination to settle some question of honor or prerogative, and it will be seen how little truth, justice, and a due consideration of the consequences have had to do with their origin. In the eleventh century the commonwealth of Modena was involved in war.
It originated in consequence of some soldiers of that State running away with a bucket from a public well, belonging to the State of Bologna. The bucket was of course of very little value, and was taken perhaps in the mere wantonness of sport ; but the circumstance of its being thus taken had the effect to wound the pride of the Bolognese, and to kindle up a long and bloody
We do not propose, however, to go into a narrative of facts; we appeal to the historical recollections of
the reader himself, from the ten years' war of Troy, down to the bloody contests of England and Holland for the nominal supremacy of the ocean.
Although we are sometimes obliged to take the statements of Dean Swift, who understood the art of making a thing ridiculous by skilful exaggerations, with some grains of allowance, there is no need of any abatement in what he has said of the causes of war. “Sometimes, (he remarks,) a war between two princes is to decide which of them shall dispossess a third of his dominions, whereto neither of them pretend to any right. Sometimes one prince quarelleth with another, for fear the other should quarrel with him. Sometimes a war is entered upon, because the enemy is too strong; and sometimes because he is too weak. Sometimes our neighbors want the things that we have, or have the things that we want; and we both fight till they take ours, or give us theirs."
There is one aspect of this subject, which seems to demand a moment's further attention. It is a most melancholy truth, that the human race, with all their unspeakable interests, have been made the mere sport and playthings of those in power. It is not generally the case, that the nation itself, the great mass of the people, plunges into war by its own choice. It is the work of their rulers; sometimes from pure malignity and cruelty, but still more frequently from a cold and selfish indifference to every thing, except their own personal freaks, pleasures, and ambition. Machiavel has somewhere given an account of a dispute concerning the making of a pair of gloves, in which a certain royal personage was involved, which had the effect to change the aspect of affairs in all Europe. And an incident almost as trifling as this, the most trivial affair imaginable, one which in private life should not have been esteemed important enough to
set two neighbors at variance, has often plunged nations in blood. That truly distinguished philosopher, Dugald Stewart, in giving an Account of those Principles in men which lead them to action, has some remarks to this effect, that the cruelties, which boys so frequently practise upon inferior animals, are not so much owing to a really malevolent disposition, as to their love of activity and the pleasure they take in the exercise of power. And does not this remark, as well as what we know of the ambition and of the malevolent tendencies of the human heart, suggest the explanation of a multitude of wars? Kings, and the other great rulers of mankind, kill their subjects, and set their subjects to killing each other, and bring upon them, directly and indirectly, the deepest poverty and wretchedness, not because they in in all cases, or even generally, love to witness suffering for suffering's sake, but because they wish to have something to do, because they love to be in motion, because they take a pleasure in activity and the exercise of power; in a word, because they think only of themselves and of their own personal gratifications and of nobody else.
-There is a passage in Voltaire's History of Louis XV on this subject, worthy of some notice. Speaking of the war of 1756, in which the French nation had been engaged, he remarks, “this nation lost, in the course of this unfortunate war, a great part of the flower of its youth, more than half of the current money of the kingdom, its navy, commerce, and credit. It was believed, that it was very easy to have prevented all these misfortunes by giving up to the English a little piece of litigated ground towards Canada. But some ambitious persons, to make themselves necessary and important, plunged France into this fatal war. It was the same in the year 1741. The selfishness of two or three individuals is sufficient to desolate all Europe.” The same writer informs us,
that Louis XIV once gave orders for the entire laying waste and destruction of the whole Palatinate, a beautiful country in the heart of Europe. The blame of this in human transaction was attempted to be thrown upon the Marquis de Louvois, one of his ministers. But Louis himself, whom history so incorrectly and unwisely styles the Great, was the criminal. “He signed the order, (says Voltaire,) at his palace of Versailles, because he saw nothing in such a command except his power and the unhappy right of war."*
And thus it is. Rulers little think, in the midst of their abundance gathered up from the spoils of the people, and surrounded in their palaces by the allurements of festivals and song, how many hearts of the poor, by such a mere dash of the pen, they have broken ; how many peasants' cottages they have made forever desolate !
OF WAR AS EXAMINED BY THE LIGHT OF NATURE.
WE have thought it a matter of some consequence to attempt, in the preceding chapters, to give some idea, (a very imperfect one we are aware,) of the Evils of war. If the statements which have been made, can lay no just claims to novelty, they may yet perhaps have power to refresh the memory, and to bring before the imagination pictures, which had begun to fade away. In view of the evils of war, the inexpressible calamities to individuals
* Voltaire's Age of Louis XIV, Chap. 15.—See also Louis XV, Chap. 35:
and communities which ever attend it, we may earnestly appeal both to the humanity and the interests of mankind. If they have any kindly and generous feelings remaining, any emotions of pity, any compassion for their fellow-men, any bonds of brotherhood, let them at length listen to the suggestions of this amiable and ennobling part of our nature, and cease to practise those arts of destruction, which for six thousand years have deluged the earth with tears and blood. Or if, hardened against the kindly and sympathetic sensibilities, they consult mer the considerations of interest, we still take courage to entreat them to look upon their ruined habitations and wasted fields, and to learn war no more.
But there is a still higher part in man's nature. We do not feel at liberty to stop short with an appeal to men's sympathies, or to those views of an interested or prudential kind, which they may entertain ; but entering into that more elevated portion of the soul, which may be characterized as the sanctuary of DUTY, we put the question to their conscience and their religion. We ask them, whether as moral and religious beings, as beings subject to the regulation of the two-fold law.of nature and of revelation, they have the right to destroy each other ? -Accordingly this is the distinct and important inquiry, upon the discussion of which we now propose to enter, not whether war is consistent with the dictates of humanity or the claims of common prudence and interest, but whether it is right, whether we can engage in war without sin, in any case whatever ?
We say, in any case whatever, because we do not propose to make any distinction between offensive and defensive war. If it can be proved, that defensive wars are allowable, it would be altogether useless to pursue the inquiry any further, because under the name and pretext of defensive war, national contests of every des