« EelmineJätka »
preserve the peace and promote the prosperity of the several American States."
With the view also of promoting the blessing of international concord, a society has been organized in this country. It was fitting that Philadelphia should be chosen as the seat of this society, for its very name signifies brotherly love. Its founder was an illustrious member of the Society of Friends, whose distinguishing characteristic is aversion to strife, and the cultivation of peace and fraternal relations among mankind.
In well-ordered society the disputes of individuals are settled not by recourse to a duel, but to the law. Would it not be a blessing to humanity if national controversies were composed on the same principle, and that the just cause of a nation should be vindicated by a court of arbitration rather than by an appeal to arms? Then to rulers, as well as to private litigants, could be applied the words:
"Thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just."
And this amicable system, while protecting the rights of the weak, would not humiliate or wound the national pride of the strong, since it does not attempt to trench on the sovereignty or autonomy of any power.
Let us cherish the hope that the day is not far off when the reign of the Prince of Peace will be firmly established on the earth, when the spirit of the Gospel will so far sway the minds and hearts of rulers, that standing armies will yield to permanent courts of
arbitration, that contests will be carried on in the council-chamber instead of the battle-field, and decided by the pen instead of the sword.
Christianity has not only diminished the number, but has also mitigated the horrors of wars. In Pagan times the conqueror rarely showed mercy to the conquered. Vae victis, woe to the vanquished, was his usual motto. The cities were laid waste. The wives and daughters of the subdued nation became the prey of the victorious soldiery. The defeated kings and generals were obliged to grace the triumph of the conqueror. They were led away in chains and doomed to hopeless captivity. So sure was the enslavement of captured kings and queens to follow from defeat, that we find prince Hector of Troy thus feelingly addressing his wife Andromache:
"The day shall come when some mailed Greek shall lead thee weeping hence,
And take from thee thy day of freedom.
Thou then in Argos shalt, at another's bidding,
Ply the loom, and from the fountain of Messeis draw water."1
Sometimes the captives were destined for a more summary fate; for they were often sacrificed on Pagan altars to appease the gods. In many instances they were executed without regard to age or sex; and the commander who ordered the
1 Homer's Iliad, B. VI.
execution was not supposed to exceed his rights, nor did he shock the public conscience. In fact, Pagan commanders assumed the same proprietary rights over human beings, including non-combatants, that Christian generals exercise over cattle and beasts of burden in an enemy's country. They were enslaved or put to the sword, as the policy of war dictated.
When Salmanasar, King of Assyria, subdued Samaria (722 B. C.), the people of Israel with Osee their king were all carried into captivity, and Assyrian colonists planted in their stead.
When Nabuchodonozor, King of Babylon, one hundred and thirty-four years later, destroyed Jerusalem, Sedecias, King of Juda, beheld his children slaughtered by his side; his own eyes were torn out, and he was exiled into Chaldea with the princes and officers and the rest of the inhabitants.
Alexander the Great, after the capture of Tyre, ordered two thousand of the inhabitants to be crucified, and the remainder of the population were put to death, or sold into slavery. Nor was his treatment of Gaza less cruel. At the storming of that city, all the surviving defenders were killed on the spot, and their wives and children sold as slaves. How different was the conduct of General Scott after his successful siege of the Mexican capital! As soon as the enemy surrendered, not a single soldier or citizen was sacrificed to the vengeance of the victorious army, and not a single family was exiled from their native land.
Annibal on one occasion slew five thousand captives. His father Hamilcar, on the occasion of a revolt of the Carthagenian mercenaries, did not sheathe his sword so long as a single rebel survived, -an act extolled by Polybius as most just.2 The Romans, though perhaps the most generous of ancient nations, punished military prisoners in a manner which to us appears absolutely heartless and revolting. Jugurtha, king of Numidia, after being borne in chains from his native country to Rome, was cast into the Mamertine prison, a living tomb hewn out of the rock, the contemplation of which, even at this day, excites a shudder. He died after struggling for six days with cold and hunger.
Julius Cæsar avows without apology or scruple of conscience, that in the siege of Avaricum, in Gaul, forty thousand of the inhabitants, including the young and the old of both sexes, were by his command put to the sword. Nor did he hesitate on several occasions to strike terror by acts of cruelty still more revolting. Thus at Uxellodunum (Captenac), in south-western Gaul, he cut off the hands of all that had borne arms against him, and turned the maimed wretches adrift as a warning to their countrymen. And the valiant Gaulish chieftain, Vercingetorix, had his agony prolonged for six years that he might grace the conqueror's triumph, and was then put to death. How humane and magnanimous was Washington's
1See Grotius, Lib. III., Chap. IV., where this and several other acts of cruelty are recorded.
2 See Vuibert's Ancient History, p. 407.
treatment of Cornwallis after his surrender at Yorktown, compared with Cæsar's conduct toward the Gaulish king! While the latter was expatriated, imprisoned and slain for defending his country against a foreign invader, Cornwallis was permitted to return unharmed to England with his defeated troops.
In the year 70 of the Christian era, upwards of a million of Jews perished by war or famine in the siege of Jerusalem under Titus, and ninety-seven thousand were carried into captivity from their native land. Thousands of the more robust captives were sent in chains to work at the Egyptian mines; thousands of others were thrown to wild beasts or reserved to slaughter one another for the amusement of the populace in the Roman and provincial amphitheatres. Of the Jews two thousand five hundred were immolated in honor of the birthday of Domitian, the brother of Titus ; and his father Vespasian's birthday was solemnized by the sacrifice of a multitude of others. The aged and infirm were slain, while the young of both sexes were sold as slaves. The hallowed vessels of the sanctuary of Jerusalem were borne in triumph by the blood-stained hands of Gentiles, followed by Simon, the captive chief, and the flower of the Jewish race, amid the gaze of the Roman populace. Simon, after gracing the triumph of the conqueror, had a rope thrown around his neck, and was dragged to the Forum, where he was cruelly tortured and put to death.1
1 Josephus, Wars of the Jews, B. V. and seq.