Ah! we shall always live under the burden of the ancient and
odious customs, the criminal prejudices, the ferocious ideas of our barbarous ancestors, for we are beasts, and beasts we shall remain, dominated by instinct and changed by nothing. Would not any other man than Victor Hugo have been exiled for that mighty cry of deliverance and truth? 'To-day force is called violence, and is being brought to judgment; war has been put on its trial. At the plea of the human race, civilization arraigns warfare, and draws up the great list of crimes laid at the charge of conquerors and generals. The nations are coming to understand that the magnitude of a crime cannot be its extenuation; that if killing is a crime, killing many can be no extenuating circumstance; that if robbery is disgraceful, invasion cannot be glorious. Ah! let us proclaim these absolute truths; let us dishonor war!'
"Vain wrath," continues Maupassant, "a poet's indignation. War is held in more veneration than ever.
"A skilled proficient in that line, a slaughterer of genius, Von Moltke, in reply to the peace delegates, once uttered these strange words:
"'War is holy, war is ordained of God. It is one of the most sacred laws of the world. It maintains among men all the great and noble sentiments--honor, devotion, virtue, and courage, and saves them in short from falling into the most hideous materialism.'
"So, then, bringing millions of men together into herds, marching by day and by night without rest, thinking of nothing, studying nothing, learning nothing, reading nothing, being useful to no one, wallowing in filth, sleeping in mud, living like brutes in a continual state of stupefaction, sacking towns, burning villages, ruining whole populations, then meeting another mass of human flesh, falling upon them, making pools of blood, and plains of flesh mixed with trodden mire and red with heaps of corpses,