Popular Science Monthly/Volume 48/April 1896/War and Civilization
|WAR AND CIVILIZATION.|
By W. D. LE SUEUR.
THE events of the last few months in the field of international politics, though they have been of a sufficiently disquieting character, have served at the same time to reveal the profound antagonism between the idea of war and the developed moral consciousness of the age. Rumors of war have filled the air, and, in more than one highly civilized community, popular passions have been roused to a dangerous pitch; yet, in spite of the raging of demagogues and the angry acclaims of the populace, war has not broken out. The sky has been black with thunder clouds, but the storm has not burst. To say that war between civilized nations is henceforth impossible would be to speak with singular rashness, in view of the vast and ever-increasing preparations for war which the most civilized nations have, during the last ten or twenty years, been engaged in making, and in view also of the waves of warlike sentiment which have lately swept over communities that might be supposed to be by instinct and principle most inclined to peace. At the same time it is impossible for those who abhor the thought of war not to derive hope and comfort from the fact that it seems almost impossible even now to bring the dread result about. Jingoes and other light-hearted and lightheaded persons may talk as they like; the moral difficulties to-day in the way of a war between any two very advanced countries are enormous. We do not say they can not be overcome, that the dielectric can not be ruptured by some sudden and enormous rise of potential; but we do say and rejoice to say that the strain will have to be enormous, and the circumstances fateful to the last degree, before such a result is reached.
We freely grant that, looking at the question theoretically, it is very difficult to imagine the complete cessation of war or the complete discontinuance of warlike preparations. De Quincey, in his celebrated essay on War, took the ground first that war could not be abolished, and secondly that it ought not to be abolished. He regarded it, as he tells us, first as "a physical necessity, arising out of man's nature when combined with man's situation," and in the second place as "a moral necessity connected with benefits of compensation, such as continually lurk in evils acknowledged to be such." War ought to exist, he further explains, "as a balance to opposite tendencies of a still more evil character. . . . as a counter venom to the taint of some more mortal poison." De Quincey has developed and, as they say in French, "embroidered" this thesis with his usual eloquence; but we can not admit that he has proved it, which after all is the principal thing. After dismissing the idea that wars have frequently had their rise in the most trivial causes, such as quarrels of the boudoir or a king's ill-humor vented in the first place on his foreign minister and by the latter diverted to a neighboring nation, he states that the real causes of war "lie in the system of national competitions; in the common political system to which all individual nations are unavoidably parties, with no internal principle for adjusting the equilibrium of those forces, and no supreme Areopagus, or court of appeal, for deciding disputes." He points out too, what is perfectly true, that war conducted by responsible powers according to recognized rules is better than unregulated conflicts and reprisals along the frontiers of adjoining states; but, unless we are to assume that such unregulated conflicts could not be prevented by the internal police of the respective countries, we can hardly accept this as a valid argument for the necessity of war. In point of fact such conflicts are prevented in this precise manner; and the frontiers of two neighboring civilized states enjoy in time of peace just as much security and tranquillity as the rest of their territories.
More serious is the argument that war necessarily results from the natural rivalries of states. De Quincey speaks of it as "an instinctive nisus for redressing the errors of equilibrium in the relative position of nations. Civilities and high-bred courtesies, "he adds," pass and ought to pass between nations; that is the graceful drapery which shrouds their natural, fierce, and tigerlike relations to each other. But the glaring eyes, which express this deep and inalienable ferocity, look out at intervals from below these gorgeous draperies; and sad it is to think that at intervals the acts and the temper suitable to those glaring eyes must come forward." That differences of national temperament, differences of institutions, and commercial rivalries do breed animosities is, unfortunately, true; but still the question presents itself: How long will the civilized nations of the world persist in a willingness to slaughter one another for these causes? It is acknowledged on all hands that the character of war has changed greatly for the better in modern times. It still is a matter of killing and of maiming in the endeavor to kill; but, decade by decade, it has to reckon more and more with the spirit of humanity. In this age, when civilized nations fight, they fight because they must or think they must, because overmastering circumstances have driven them to it; but the spirit to do the dreadful deeds which they set out to do is not what it was in past times: they neither hate nor contemn their enemies sufficiently to make war quite a satisfactory pastime. Our essayist talks of the "glaring eyes." Doubtless there is always danger when the eyes glare, for the next thing may be a spring; but the eyes may glare under momentary provocation, when there is no permanent rancor in the heart; and then what woe it would be if a moment's madness should mean the wrapping of a kingdom or a continent in the flames of war!
These are the thoughts which, we believe, are pressing themselves more and more upon the minds and hearts of men in the present day. Our essayist himself tells us that war is "ever amending its modes," and that, though it is a necessary final resort, it is even in that character "constantly retiring farther into the rear." This was written fifty years ago, when as yet arbitration between nations was scarcely known. The question which we may reasonably ask is, how much further war will have to retire into the background without falling into practical desuetude. War, moreover, tends continually to its own extinction, inasmuch as it is continually bringing the principles of international justice into clearer relief, and operating as "a bounty upon the investigation and adjudication of disputed cases." In this way "a comprehensive law of nations will finally be accumulated"; so that "it will become possible to erect a real Areopagus or central congress for all Christendom; not" (the essayist is careful to add, keeping in mind his thesis) "with any commission to suppress wars, but with the purpose and effect of oftentimes healing local or momentary animosities, and of taking away the shadow of dishonor from the act of retiring from war." It is encouraging to think that these words have more point to-day than ever they had before; that the progress of events and the development of humanitarian feeling have within the last fifty years very greatly increased the difficulties in the way of war, and powerfully inclined nations to regulate their relations with one another on principles of equity. Where is this process to stop? There is evidently a radical contradiction between the appeal to reason and the appeal to force; and if the habit of appealing to reason is gaining strength day by day, can we believe that the nations will go on indefinitely making preparations on the most enormous scale for the other mode of arbitrament? "One thing is clear," says De Quincey, "that when all the causes of war involving manifest injustice are banished by the force of opinion focally converged upon the subject the range of war will be prodigiously circumscribed." It is a great satisfaction to know that things are most distinctly moving in this direction. As a much more recent author, M. Ernest Lavisse, in his admirable little book, entitled A General View of the Political History of Europe, observes: "The ambition of territorial aggrandizement is tempered by a certain modesty. At the present day no sovereign would dare to undertake annexations on pretexts such as Louis XIV gave before attacking Spain in 1667, or Frederick II in 1740 after invading Silesia. If Poland's existence, miserable as it was, had been prolonged a few decades, her destruction would perhaps have been impossible."
That wars have directly or indirectly resulted in some advantage to the world in past times, it would be vain to deny; and that their role of usefulness even between so-called civilized nations is wholly and forever at an end, it would not be safe to assert. This, however, may be said, that if war ensues between two such nations, it is owing not to their civilization in any true sense, but to some lack in the civilization of one or other or both—some predominance of the spirit of greed, some inaccessibility to the dictates of reason, some fault of domestic government by which the crude passions and ignorant prejudices of the multitude or possibly the interested and partial views of a governing class, are allowed undue sway, some national overweeningness, some aberration of public opinion. War in such a case teaches sharp and much-needed lessons; but, unfortunately, it does not invariably advance the cause of justice. It shows where power resides, but does not always indicate the right. It may chasten where chastening was less needed, and exalt the pride of those who already were too insolent. Whatever evil it may destroy, it leaves new-created evil in its path. All we can hope is that, upon the whole, the education of the world may be advanced by the dire experience. We need not, however, laud war on this account, any more than we laud the epidemic which, taking its origin in neglect of sanitary principles, attacks by preference the weakly constitutions in the community, and, having passed, leaves the average of constitutional vigor somewhat higher than before. If we do not laud war, still less should we laud the dispositions that lead to war. Yet this is precisely the fatal error into which many fall: because some of the ulterior effects of war have in certain cases been beneficial, they hold themselves justified in cultivating and encouraging the war spirit. As well might we deliberately heap up garbage for the purpose of breeding a second epidemic because a preceding one had, from a sanitary point of view, produced some good results. The lesson to be learned from epidemics is how to avoid them, not how to bring them on; and, so with war, the question should ever be how to prevent it for the future, how to destroy the nidus in which its seeds germinate.
As we have already hinted, the eloquent De Quincey is far, in our opinion, from having proved his contention that war ought to exist, even if we had power to abolish it. He is not the only writer, however, who puts forward this view. "It is a question," says M. Lavisse, in the work to which we have already referred, "whether universal peace is a desirable object, whether it would not diminish the original energy of national genius, whether the best way to serve humanity, would be to create human banality, whether new virtues would arise to replace the virtues of war. It is also a question whether universal and perpetual peace is not radically and naturally impossible." The doubts expressed by so competent a writer, and one commanding so wide a survey of the historical field, are certainly deserving of all consideration. What strikes us, however, at the first glance is, that plausible as these generalities may be, they have nothing whatever to do in determining the course of events, or in guiding the policy of a single state. Even could it be proved, much more conclusively than has ever been done yet, that war, with all its drawbacks, was favorable to the progress of the world, no nation would on that account burden itself with a war budget. The sole reason why nations tax themselves for the maintenance of armaments is because they consider it necessary to their safety to do so. There is not a power in Europe to-day that would not gladly disband its armies and dismantle its fleets if it were fully persuaded that no prudential reasons existed for keeping them in a condition of efficiency. This, it seems to us, is the broad fact to look at: war may be a school of virtue and may have a thousand other beautiful aspects, but it is not for the promotion of virtue, or the alimentation of poetry and romance, or for any general philanthropic purpose, that the nations of the world arm themselves to the teeth. Their views are of, a more practical kind. They dread the injustice and greed of one another; each would feel its existence imperiled if it did not provide in ample measure to resist foreign aggression. If war is the blessing and benefit that some pretend, the logical thing would be to have war for war's sake, quite independently even of so flimsy a pretext as the Venezuela boundary. Then, by a due course of murder and rapine, we could train our youth to virtue, our army contractors to public spirit and honesty, our newspaper writers to modesty and truthfulness, our legislators to a lofty patriotism, and everybody else to a correspondingly high moral level.
War is the avenger of the faults of civilization; but, like other avengers, it is too furious to be discriminating. It may sweep a certain amount of "rubbish to the void," but none the less are the brain and brawn and heart of noble manhood crushed under its relentless feet. It may destroy some of "the cankers of a calm world and a long peace," but it blights at the same time the fairest promise of the age, and extinguishes its brightest hopes. There are virtues developed in the battlefield and the bivouac; but how much of virtue perishes in the slaughter of the battle or moans itself away within hospital walls! It is easy to talk glibly of the benefits of war; but if we seriously consider the havoc it makes in homes and hearts, and the horrible sufferings of every kind that it entails, not to mention the check that it gives to peaceful industry, and the burdens that it imposes on future generations, the benefits in question will appear very unsubstantial in comparison.
Concrete examples will, however, serve our purpose here better than any amount of generalizing. Twenty-five years ago there was a great and bloody war—of course the bloodier a war is the more we may expect from it—between France and Germany. We may, therefore, advantageously study the effect of the struggle upon both nations, and as regards one of them, Germany, we have the facts of the case ready to our hand in an article by A. Eubule Evans in the February number of the Contemporary Review. The first result which this writer, who is far from wanting in sympathy with the German people, notices is that their national self-consciousness and susceptibility are greatly increased. They wish now to exclude all foreign words from their language, even from the language of commerce, in which it is a decided advantage to have as many words as possible of world-wide signification. Before the war the French word "billet" was commonly used for a railway ticket; now it is banished in favor of "Fahrkarte." Before the war there was a disposition to abandon the crabbed German character, and use the open Roman print, common to the rest of Europe; to-day that idea, we are informed, is tabooed. "The old letters have become the symbol of patriotism, and no one talks of discarding them." So German eyes must suffer, and additional difficulty must be thrown in the way of the acquisition of the German language by foreigners, simply that Germans may enjoy a greater sense of separation from—and doubtless of superiority to—the rest of the world. To the natural abruptness of German manners there has been added, we are told, a decided flavor of aggressiveness which was not characteristic of them before the war. National self-assertiveness has become, the writer states, "a positive cult. It is encouraged," he adds, "by the authorities; it is fostered in the schools; perhaps some day it will form a subject for examination."
The most serious injury, however, has been done to the spirit of liberty. Prosecutions for lese majesty are the order of the day, and the charges on which such prosecutions are based are often of the most trivial kind. Editors accused of this crime for their criticism of the Government or the emperor are "treated in many respects like ordinary felons." They are not allowed out on bail before trial, but are kept in confinement, and at trial are brought up in prison dress. "Any adverse criticism of the Kaiser's utterances is a penal offense. Praise or silence—these are the alternatives." And yet, as Mr. Evans very truly observes, there has never perhaps been a monarch whose speeches more loudly challenged criticism. Such, however, is the price, or part of the price, which the German nation is paying for success in a great aggressive war. It is not only in political matters that the utmost restriction of political liberty prevails. "It is the same in everything. There is little possibility of independence in speech or action. The police are always at your elbow; and woe to you if you do not carry out their injunctions to the letter!" He adds: "To live in Germany always seems to me like a return to the nursery. . . . In fine, generally speaking, the aspect of affairs in modern Germany is by no means exhilarating. It seems to me that it may be summed up in a few words: an enormous increase of power and influence abroad, but at home less comfort, less liberty, less happiness."
It did not fall within the scope of the article from which we have been quoting to refer to any of the political events that have marked the interval between the termination of the Franco-German War and the present time; but an instructive commentary on the spirit which warfare, particularly successful warfare, breeds is afforded by the fact that five years after the close of the war the victorious and all-powerful German nation was only prevented by the peremptory prohibition of the Czar of Russia from falling again, without a shadow of justification, upon its weakened adversary, with the avowed intention of so crushing and maiming it, by further loss of population and territory, as to reduce it definitively to the rank of a second-class power. We have said "without a shadow of justification"; but to the military mind, and to a people intoxicated with, military glory, it was justification enough, that their defeated enemy was showing great powers of recuperation. The moral sense of Europe was shocked by this cynicism; but if war is such a beautiful thing as some pretend, and so useful an instrument of Divine Providence, how can we be sure that any war is to be condemned?
If we look at France, can we say that she has profited greatly by the ordeal passed through? An indirect result of the war was a change in her form of government, and considering the fundamental instability of the Napoleonic régime this must be counted a permanent advantage. The change had to come, and it was well that it was hastened. If, however, we look for signs of moral or intellectual improvement in the nation at large it is doubtful whether we shall find them. The politics of the country has been honeycombed by corruption; so that more than once it has seemed as if the people, sick of the misdeeds of their legislators and full of contempt for the whole parliamentary system, were on the point of sending the Third Republic packing after the first two, and making another desperate experiment with some "savior of society." If we consult the literature of the day, we certainly see no signs of moral advance. If such up-to-date writers as Paul Hervieu and "Gyp" may be trusted, the higher walks of society could hardly be more abandoned than they are to greed, luxury, and lust. Education has been making rapid progress, and so has crime; while the financial burdens of the state go on increasing at a portentous rate. The nation has doubtless learned from its calamities some lessons of self-restraint; and, as we have said, it has escaped from an essentially bad form of government, but it is difficult to assign any other beneficial results to the terrible scourging it received in the war with Germany. Comparing it, however, with the latter country, it seems to have suffered almost less from its defeats than the latter from its victories.
Crossing the Channel, we see a country which, though not unaffected by the increase of the military spirit which has marked the last quarter of a century, illustrates in a broad way the advantages as regards individual liberty and civilization in general which flow from at least a relative aversion to war. For forty years the British nation has waged no war in Europe, nor any war abroad that has at all seriously taxed its strength: and the methods of the government and the habits of the people are consequently more in harmony with a régime of peace and industry than is the case in any of the continental nations. Interferences with individual liberty which on the Continent would be taken as a matter of course would in England be resented as acts of tyranny. One of the chief marks of the industrial, as opposed to the military, régime, according to Herbert Spencer, is that under it the civil authority is chiefly known to the individual citizen as the protector of his rights, not as the director of his actions. This is the case in Great Britain to a remarkable extent. Authority there puts on no airs; it has duties to perform, and demands respect for itself in the performance of them; but it does not pretend to occupy a position of superiority over the people at large. What it does it does in their interest and by their warrant, and the only feeling, therefore, which a magistrate or other officer of the law has in that country is that he is co-operating with others for the general weal. In the courts lawyers may sometimes try to browbeat witnesses; but lawyers are not invested with authority, and the appeal of the witness in that case lies to the judge, who, as a rule, will not allow that kind of thing to go too far. In Victor Hugo's Miserables there is an interview between a young man of good social position (Marius) and a subordinate police officer, whose assistance the former has been obliged to invoke against a band of criminals. The petty potentate questions the young man very brusquely, and, finding him quite self-possessed and free from fear, compliments him in the following terms: "You speak like a brave and honest man. Courage does not fear crime, and honesty does not dread authority." An Englishman would have felt like knocking the fellow down for his impertinence and taking all risks. The preposterous idea that a citizen seeking the assistance of a functionary in a matter which the functionary is paid for attending to, should stand in any dread of him! But in countries infected with the military spirit civil authority can hardly help putting on the airs of absolute power.
The history of England may, however, be appealed to in support of the principle that individual liberty waxes and wanes according to the greater or less predominance of militarism. Wars conducted abroad, though they have an important reactive effect at home, do not affect domestic administration as wars carried on within the nation itself. The Norman conquest secured for England, if we except the struggles which occurred after the death of Henry I, a long period of comparative internal peace, toward the close of which parliamentary institutions began to take form and substance. Then followed the Wars of the Roses, which led to a decided increase in monarchical absolutism. But again peace came to the help of liberty; and, in the words of Bagehot which Mr. Spencer quotes, "the slavish Parliament of Henry VIII grew into the murmuring Parliament of Queen Elizabeth, the mutinous Parliament of James I, and the rebellious Parliament of Charles I." For over a century after the Commonwealth, liberty and social order continued to gain ground; but again came a period of reaction brought on by the incessant wars waged by England between 1775 and 1815. So severely were the resources of the nation strained that the military point of view dominated every other, the Government regarding the people, as has been said, in no other light than as "a taxable and soldier-yielding mass." "While," as Mr. Spencer observes, "the militant part of the community had greatly developed, the industrial part had approached toward the condition of a permanent commissariat. By conscription and the press gangs was carried to a relatively vast extent that sacrifice of the citizen in life and liberty which war entails. . . . Irresponsible agents of the executive were empowered to suppress public meetings and seize their leaders, death being the punishment for those who did not disperse when ordered. Libraries and newsrooms could not be opened without license; and it was penal to lend books without permission. Booksellers dared not publish books by obnoxious authors." It was during this period that the poets Coleridge and Wordsworth found themselves being tracked by a detective in their walks through the country lanes of Somersetshire, the meditative manner and earnest discourse of the two bards doubtless impressing the intelligent minion, of the law with the idea that they must be hatching revolutionary schemes. With the re-establishment of peace on a secure foundation liberty revived; and domestic legislation began to assume a distinctly humane and beneficent character. The penal code was greatly ameliorated, the long list of capital offenses being reduced till there remained but one, and the pillory and imprisonment for debt being abolished. Penalties and disabilities for religious dissent were gradually removed; the franchise was enlarged; municipal reform was inaugurated; the corn laws were abolished; free trade was introduced, liberty of the press established, and the police system of the kingdom greatly improved. These are the works and triumphs of civilization, and they flowed in almost unbroken streams as soon as the nation had recovered from the effects of its prodigious military efforts.
But, another change is now in progress, induced partly by the extreme tension of the Continental situation, and partly by circumstances peculiar to the present time. The apostle James in his day gave a very summary answer to the question, "Whence come wars and fightings among you?" "Come they not hence," he said, "even of your lusts that war in your members?" A recent article in the London Spectator, under the title of The New Form of International Greed, might almost be taken for a commentary on this text. What the journal in question points out is that while in past times the greed of nations was for territory without special regard to its wealth-producing properties, the greed to-day is for actual wealth and for such territory as is expected to yield wealth. "As the root of socialism" it says, "is the thirst of the poor for more physical comfort, better food, better lodging, and more leisure, so the root of international jealousy is the thirst for a larger national fortune. The peoples are eagerly scanning the roads to wealth, and find them, not in industry and reduced taxation, but in tropical possessions, in foreign trade, in the immense businesses based on 'concessions'—that is, in reality, upon mining rights, state contracts, and monopolies of all descriptions. In particular the thirst for gold in its concrete and tangible shape has broken out everywhere, almost as strongly as it broke out in the sixteenth century among Spaniards, Portuguese, and Elizabethan Englishmen." It happens that most of the gold-bearing territories are in English hands, and this, the Spectator thinks, accounts for a great deal of the jealousy with which England is regarded. Here we have, most unfortunately, a special and somewhat ignoble cause for the intensifying of the military spirit in the present day; and how to find a remedy for it is an extremely difficult question. The Spectator advises the English people "to remember that prosperity and success involve certain duties, one of which is to suffer others to be prosperous too, and another to abstain from boasting."
Here the baffling question arises. Can a whole people be advised? Individuals may listen to counsel; but, when it comes to a whole people, one wonders whether anything but experience, with a touch of natural selection thrown in, can teach. It certainly is the case that, if the nations would abate their greed and boastfulness, the danger of war would be much reduced, and the terrible burdens which it imposes be greatly alleviated. Patriotism is a good thing, but we fear that much evil is wrought in its name. It is not patriotism to disparage rival nations, or to seek to secure for one's own unjust advantages. Not unadvisedly did old Dr. Johnson, in a phrase now sadly trite, but perhaps never more apt than in the present day, describe patriotism as "the last refuge of a scoundrel." The doctor had doubtless seen more than one specimen of the loud-mouthed breed who shout for the flag and execrate the foreigner, but who would cheat their country at the first turn if they could get the chance. Patriotism, let us tell our children, if we can not get wider audience, is not a matter either of shouting or reviling, it is a matter of disinterestedly serving the country in which our lot is cast, and in which we enjoy the benefits of citizenship. That is the whole of it, but that is much. It may mean laying down our life; it may mean sacrificing our property; it may mean incurring unpopularity through fighting against wickedness in high places or in low places, and struggling for the good name of our country against those who are bringing it into discredit; at all times it means a faithful performance of the public duty that lies nearest at hand. "The old flag and an appropriation!" is the motto of a certain well-known brand of patriot; but the true patriot not only drops the "appropriation," but makes his reserves about the flag, which may or may not be associated with a righteous cause. The motto which commands his allegiance is, "My country's honor and well-being!" No less a cause than this is worthy of a good citizen 's devotion.
Much is being said at the present time about the importance of cultivating patriotism in the public schools, and, not only so, but of preparing the scholars—the boys at least—by military drill for more quickly transforming themselves into soldiers at a future day. In several States of the Union this system is already in force, and there are ceremonial occasions when the flag is saluted, and so forth. Whether all this is for the best may well be doubted. It is difficult to put a gun into a boy's hand and drill him without creating in his mind a desire to kill somebody. Do we or do we not wish to cultivate this spirit in the rising generation? There is no doubt that the ease or difficulty with which a country is led into war depends very largely upon the dispositions of its population. If their thoughts run on war; if they have been accustomed by a semi-military training in the schools to make little of the horrors of war, and perhaps less of its crimes; if they have taken in the idea which continually haunts the military mind that might makes right, there can be no doubt that, in a given contingency, when a spirit of moderation and justice would smooth over an international difficulty, the voice of such a people will be given for war. They will perhaps then learn a needed lesson; but how foolish for people to set to work with their eyes open to produce the dispositions which lead to such a result! Admitting that the nation which had sedulously cultivated bellicose sentiments in its youth, and at great expense put itself in a condition to back up any aggressive or offensive policy on which it might enter, should conquer in an ensuing war, would that be a thing to be proud, of, if the war were unjust? If the blood of Abel "cried from the ground," what of the blood of a hundred thousand, or two hundred thousand, or five hundred thousand Abels needlessly slain—slain that a restless military class might have the means of winning distinction in their chosen profession; slain that army and navy contractors should enrich themselves by a nation's calamities; slain that vulgar and ignorant passions might find vent in bloody action?
There is no subject to-day on which public opinion needs more to be enlightened than on the connection between peace and liberty on the one hand, and between war and tyranny on the other. Mr. Spencer's chapters on this subject, in the volume we have referred to, well repay perusal and reperusal. It may truly be said that we do not as yet know in the full sense what liberty is, and it may be added that, if the military spirit resumes possession of the world, as it is threatening to do, we are not likely to know. In a well-written article on this subject by Mr. A. B. Ronne, in a preceding number (June, 1895) of this magazine, it was pointed out that, since the close of the war of secession, there have been many manifestations of a more arbitrary spirit in the Government of this country than the people had previously been accustomed to, and that the idea of "regulation" was altogether too much in the air. There is one thing to be said on this point, and that is, that the misuse of liberty leads to regulation. Were there only one nation in the world, that nation might fall under a tyranny if its citizens could not use their liberties aright. If peace helps liberty, liberty should take counsel of justice and moderation, so that Peace be not ashamed of her work. We must learn to curb in peace those lusts that lead to war. A nation whose own internal condition was wholly satisfactory could by no possibility be dragged into a war of aggression, and would run extremely little risk of having to wage a war of defense. In such a nation the feelings that prompt to war would be wholly lacking.
We began this article by referring to the fact that very serious impediments, which we were glad to believe were largely of a moral kind, seemed to stand in the way of war between civilized nations in the present day; and, even as we have been writing, news comes that the principle of arbitration is more and more commending itself to the common sense and common humanity of mankind. There seems at the present moment every probability that, as between England and the United States, that principle will ere long be adopted as a fixed and, as it were, constitutional mode of settling international differences; and if once this step is taken the effect on the world at large will be very marked. Governments that have not advanced to the same point will seem to occupy altogether an inferior position; and it will not be long before their subjects begin to inquire with no little urgency why they can not enter into similar treaties and, by so doing, put an end to the terrible tension and hideous waste of human labor which the present situation involves. An article in the February number of the new international magazine Cosmopolis—a happy omen, we take it, of the better times to come—reviews in a very interesting and encouraging manner the progress which the principle of arbitration has made in the world. Since 1872, we learn—that is, since the Alabama arbitration—"nearly forty cases have been settled by arbitration; the large majority of these refer to differences between American republics, or of European states with American republics. The United States referred ten disputes to arbitration and England eight, and of these four were between England and the United States." The writer, W. J. Gennadius, quotes two very apposite declarations, one by General Grant, and one by that experienced and sagacious statesman, the late Earl Russell. Grant's words are, "Though I have been trained as a soldier, and have participated in many battles, there never was a time when, in my opinion, some way could not have been found to prevent the drawing of the sword." And Earl Russell's: "On looking at the wars which have been carried on during the last century, and examining into the causes of them, I do not see one in which, if there had been proper temper between the parties, the questions in dispute might not have been settled without recourse to arms." These declarations are worth reflecting on. The proviso introduced by Earl Russell is particularly significant: "If there had been proper temper between the parties." That is what is wanted, "proper temper." It resolves itself thus into a question of national righteousness. The cynic may laugh at the conclusion; but those who are not cynics will venture to believe that the problem is not hopeless.
- Principles of Sociology, vol. ii, p. 626.