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way through the crowd "like a wild beast." Sarpedon is aroused against the Argives, "as a lion against the crooked-horned oxen," and afterwards rushes forward "like a lion nurtured on the mountains, for a long time famished for want of flesh, but whose courage impels him to attack even the well-guarded sheepfold." In one and the same passage, the great Telamonian Ajax is "wild beast," "tawny lion," and "dull ass"; and all the Greek chiefs, the flower of the camp, are ranged about Diomed, "like raw-eating lions, or wildboars, whose strength is irresistible." Even Hector, the model hero, with all the virtues of war, is praised as "tamer of horses"; and one of his renowned feats in battle, indicating brute strength only, is where he takes up and hurls a stone which two of our strongest men could not easily lift into a wagon; and he drives over dead bodies and shields, while the axle is defiled by gore, and the guard about the seat is sprinkled from the horses' hoofs and the tires of the wheels ;1 and in that most admired passage of ancient literature, before returning his child, the young Astyanax, to the arms of the wife he is about to leave, this hero of war invokes the gods for a single blessing on the boy's head, "that he may excel his father, and bring home bloody spoils, his enemy being slain, and so make glad the heart of his
From early fields of modern literature, as from those of antiquity, might be gathered similar illustrations, showing the unconscious degradation of the soldier, in vain pursuit of justice, renouncing the human character,
1 Little better than Trojan Hector was the "great" Condé ranging over the field and exulting in the blood of the enemy, which defiled his swordarm to the elbow. - Mahon, Essai sur la Vie du Grand Condé, p. 60.
to assume that of brute. Bayard, the exemplar of chivalry, with a name always on the lips of its votaries, was described by the qualities of beasts, being, according to his admirers, ram in attack, wild-boar in defence, and wolf in flight. Henry the Fifth, as represented by our own Shakespeare, in the spirit-stirring appeal to his troops exclaims,—
"When the blast of war blows in our ears, Then imitate the action of the tiger."
This is plain and frank, revealing the true character of
I need not dwell on the moral debasement that must ensue. Passions, like so many bloodhounds, are unleashed and suffered to rage. Crimes filling our prisons stalk abroad in the soldier's garb, unwhipped of justice. Murder, robbery, rape, arson, are the sports of this fiendish Saturnalia, when
"The gates of mercy shall be all shut up,
And the fleshed soldier, rough and hard of heart,
In liberty of bloody hand shall range
By a bold, but truthful touch, Shakespeare thus pictures the foul disfigurement which war produces in man, whose native capacities he describes in those beautiful words: "How noble in reason! how infinite in faculties ! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god!" And yet this nobility of reason, this infinitude of faculties, this marvel of form and motion, this nature so angelic, so godlike, are all, under the transforming power of War, lost in the action of the beast, or the license of the fleshed soldier with bloody hand and conscience wide as hell.
The immediate effect of war is to sever all relations of friendship and commerce between the belligerent nations, and every individual thereof, impressing upon each citizen or subject the character of enemy. Imagine this instant change between England and the United States. The innumerable ships of the two countries, the white doves of commerce, bearing the olive of peace, are driven from the sea, or turned from peaceful purposes to be ministers of destruction; the threads of social and business intercourse, so carefully woven into a thick web, are suddenly snapped asunder; friend can no longer communicate with friend; the twenty thousand letters speeded each fortnight from this port alone. are arrested, and the human affections, of which they are the precious expression, seek in vain for utterance. Tell me, you with friends and kindred abroad, or you bound to other lands only by relations of commerce, are you ready for this rude separation?
This is little compared with what must follow. It is but the first portentous shadow of disastrous eclipse, twilight usher of thick darkness, covering the whole heavens with a pall, broken only by the lightnings of battle and siege.
Such horrors redden the historic page, while, to the scandal of humanity, they never want historians with feelings kindred to those by which they are inspired. The demon that draws the sword also guides the pen. The favorite chronicler of modern Europe, Froissart, discovers his sympathies in his Prologue, where, with
something of apostleship, he announces his purpose, "that the honorable enterprises and noble adventures and feats of arms which happened in the wars of France and England be notably registered and put in perpetual memory," and then proceeds to bestow his equal admiration upon bravery and cunning, upon the courtesy which pardoned as upon the rage which caused the flow of blood in torrents, dwelling with especial delight on "beautiful incursions, beautiful rescues, beautiful feats. of arms, and beautiful prowesses"; and wantoning in pictures of cities assaulted, "which, being soon gained by force, were robbed, and men and women and children put to the sword without mercy, while the churches were burnt and violated." This was in a barbarous age. But popular writers in our own day, dazzled by false ideas of greatness, at which reason and humanity blush, do not hesitate to dwell on similar scenes even with rapture and eulogy. The humane soul of Wilberforce, which sighed that England's "bloody laws sent many unprepared into another world," could hail the slaughter of Waterloo, by which thousands were hurried into eternity on the Sabbath he held so holy, as a "splendid victory." 2
My present purpose is less to judge the historian than to expose the horrors on horrors which he applauds. At Tarragona, above six thousand human beings, almost all defenceless, men and women, gray hairs and infant innocence, attractive youth and wrinkled age, were butchered by the infuriate troops in one night, and the morning sun rose upon a city whose streets and houses
1 Froissart, Les Chroniques, Ch. 177, 179, Collection de Buchon, Tom. II. pp. 87, 92.
2 Life of William Wilberforce, by his Sons, Ch. 30, Vol. IV. pp. 256, 261.
were inundated with blood: and yet this is called a "glorious exploit." "" 1 Here was a conquest by the French. At a later day, Ciudad Rodrigo was stormed by the British, when, in the license of victory, there ensued a savage scene of plunder and violence, while shouts and screams on all sides mingled fearfully with the groans of the wounded. Churches were desecrated, cellars of wine and spirits were pillaged, fire was wantonly applied to the city, and brutal intoxication spread in every direction. Only when the drunken dropped from excess, or fell asleep, was any degree of order restored: and yet the storming of Ciudad Rodrigo is pronounced "one of the most brilliant exploits of the British army." 2 This "beautiful feat of arms' was followed by the storming of Badajoz, where the same scenes were enacted again, with accumulated atrocities. The story shall be told in the words of a partial historian, who himself saw what he eloquently describes. "Shameless rapacity, brutal intemperance, savage lust, cruelty, and murder, shrieks and piteous lamentations, groans, shouts, imprecations, the hissing of fires bursting from the houses, the crashing of doors and windows, and the reports of muskets used in violence, resounded for two days and nights in the streets of Badajoz. On the third, when the city was sacked, when the soldiers were exhausted by their own excesses, the tumult rather subsided than was quelled. The wounded men were then looked to, the dead disposed of."3 All this is in the nature of confession, for the historian is a partisan of battle.
The same terrible war affords another instance of atrocities at a siege crying to Heaven. For weeks be
1 Alison, Hist. of Europe, Ch. 61, Vol. VIII. p. 237.
2 Ibid., Ch. 64, Vol. VIII. p. 482.
Napier, Hist. Peninsular War, Book XVI. ch. 5, Vol. IV. p. 431.