Popular Science Monthly/Volume 68/May 1906/A League of Peace
|A LEAGUE OF PEACE|
By ANDREW CARNEGIE, Esq., LL.D.
Principal and Students of St. Andrews: My first words must be words of thanks, very grateful thanks, to those who have so kindly re-elected me their rector without a contest. The honor is deeply appreciated, I assure you. There is one feature, at least, connected with your choice, upon which I may venture to congratulate you, and also the university—the continuance of the services of my able and zealous assessor, Dr. Ross of Dunfermline, which I learn are highly valued.
My young constituents, you are busily preparing to play your parts in the drama of life, resolved, I trust, to oppose and attack what is evil, to defend and strengthen what is good, and, if possible, to leave your part of the world a little better than you found it. You are already pondering over the career you will pursue, what problems you will study, upon what, and how, your powers can be most profitably exerted; and apart from the choice of a career I trust you ask yourselves what are the evils of this life, in which all our duties lie, which you should most strenuously endeavor to eradicate or at least to lessen,—what causes you will espouse, giving preference to these beyond all other public questions, for the student of St. Andrews is expected to devote both time and labor to his duties as a citizen, whatever his professional career. You will find the world much better than your forefathers did. There is profound satisfaction in this, that all grows better; but there is still one evil in our day, so far exceeding any other in extent and effect, that I venture to bring it to your notice.
Polygamy and slavery have been abolished by civilized nations. Duelling no longer exists where English is spoken. The right of private war and of privateering have passed away. Many other beneficent abolitions have been made in various fields; but there still remains the foulest blot that has ever disgraced the earth, the killing of civilized men by men like wild beasts as a permissible mode of settling international disputes, although in Rousseau's words, 'War is the foulest fiend ever vomited forth from the mouth of Hell.' As such, it has received from the earliest times, in each successive age till now, the fiercest denunciations of the holiest, wisest and best of men.
Homer, about eight hundred and fifty years before Christ, tells us it is by no means lit for a man stained with blood and gore to pray to the gods, and that "Religious, social and domestic ties alike he violates, who willingly would court the honors of internal strife." ('Iliad,' IX., 63.)
He makes Zeus, the cloud-gatherer, look sternly at Ares, the God of War, saying: "Nay, thou renegade, sit not by me and whine. Most hateful art thou to me of all the Gods that dwell in Olympus; thou ever lovest strife, and wars and battles." ('Iliad,' V., line 891.)
Euripides, 480-406 B. C., cries, "Hapless mortals, why do ye get your spears and deal out death to fellow-men? Stay! from such work forbear!"..."Oh fools all ye who try to win the meed of valor through war, seeking thus to still this mortal coil, for if bloody contests are to decide, strife will never cease!"
Thucydides, who wrote his great work sometime between 423 B. C. and 403 B. C., asserts that "Wars spring from unseen and generally insignificant causes, the first outbreak being often but an explosion of anger." And he gives us the needed lesson for our day which should be accepted as an axiom: "It is wicked to proceed against him as a wrong-doer who is ready to refer the question to arbitration." Aristides praised Pericles, because, to avoid war, 'he is willing to accept arbitration.'
Andocides, about 440-388 B. C, says: "This then is the distinction, Athenians, which I draw between the two: peace means security for the people, war inevitable downfall."
Isocrates, 436-338 B. C., teaches that "Peace should be made with all mankind. It should be our care not only to make peace, but to maintain it. But this will never be until we are persuaded that quiet is better than disturbance, justice than injustice, the care of our own than grasping at what belongs to others." ('Oration on Peace.')
The sacred books of the east make peace their chief concern.
"Thus does he (Buddha) live as a binder together of those who are divided, an encourager of those who are friends, a peacemaker, a lover of peace, impassioned for peace, a speaker of words that make for peace." ('Buddhist Suttas,' 5th century B. C.) "Now, wherein is his conduct good? Herein, that putting away the murder of that which lives, he abstains from destroying life. The cudgel and the sword he lays aside, and, full of modesty and pity, he is compassionate and kind to all creatures that have life." ('Buddhist Suttas.')
"Truly is the king our sovereign Lord! He has regulated the position of the princes; he has called in shields and spears; he has returned to their cases bows and arrows." ('The Shik King,' Decade I., Ode 10.)
Many hundred years before Christ, the Zendavesta pronounces 'Opposition to peace is a sin.'
The Buddhist commandment, six hundred years before our era, is 'Love all mankind equally,'
'To those of a noble disposition, the whole world is but one family,' says the Hindu.
Coming to the Romans, Cicero (106-43 B. C.) says: "War should only be undertaken by a highly civilized state to preserve either its religion or its existence." "There are two ways of ending a dispute—discussion and force: the latter manner is simply that of the brute beasts; the former is proper to beings gifted with reason." He also reminds the senate, "For in this assembly, before the matter was decided, I said many things in favor of peace, and even while war was going on I retained the same opinions, even at the risk of my own life." No better proof of the true patriot and leader can be given than this—a lesson much needed in our day.
Sallust (86-34 B. C.) recounts, "But after the Senate learned of the war between them, three young men were chosen to go out to Africa to both Kings, and in the words of the Senate, and of the people, announce to them that it was their will and advice that they lay down their arms and 'settle their disputes by arbitration rather than by the sword; since to act thus would be to the honor both of the Romans and themselves,'" ('Jugurtha/ XXI., 4.)
Virgil (70-19 B. C.) laments that "The love of arms and the mad wickedness of war are raging. ... As for me, just come from war and reeking with fresh slaughter, it would be criminal for me to touch the gods till I shall have washed the pollution in the running stream."
From Seneca (4 B. C.-65 A. D.) we have this outburst: "We punish murders and massacres among private persons; what do we respecting wars, and the glorious crime of murdering whole nations?"
..."The love of a conquest is a murderess. Conquerors are scourges not less harmful to humanity than floods and earthquakes."
Tacitus shrewdly observes, "To be sure every wicked man has the greatest power in stirring up tumult and discord; peace and quiet need the qualities of good men." ('Historæ, IV., 1.) This is why the demagogue comes to the surface, to inflame the passions of the multitude, that he may ride to power upon them. Beware of the man who leads you into war.
Josephus, born only thirty-eight years after Christ, writes: "David said, 'I was willing to build God a temple myself, but he prohibited me, because I was polluted with blood and wars,'"
Plutarch, born 46 A. D., holds that "There is no war among men not born of wickedness; some are aroused by desire of pleasures, others by too great eagerness for influence and power."
Such are a few examples from the testimony of the ancients.
I now solicit your attention to the views held and expressed by the early christian fathers, which can not but be of special importance to such of you as are theological students.
Justin Martyr, who died about 165 A. D., proclaims, "That the prophecy is fulfilled we have good reason to believe, for we (Christians), who in the past killed one another, do not now fight our enemies."
St. Irenæus, about 140-202 A. D., boasts that "The Christians have changed their swords and their lances into instruments of peace, and they know not how to fight."
Clement of Alexandria, whose works were composed in the end of the second century and beginning of the third, writes, 'The followers of Christ use none of the implements of war.'
Tertullian, about 150-230 A. D., asks, "How shall a Christian go to war, how shall he carry arms in time of peace, when the Lord has forbidden the sword to us? . . . Jesus Christ, in disarming St. Peter, disarmed all soldiers." ('De Idololatr.,' 19.) "The military oath and the baptismal vow are inconsistent with each other, the one being the sign of Christ, the other of the Devil." ..."Shall it be held lawful to make an occupation of the sword, when the Lord proclaims that he who uses the sword shall perish by the sword?"
Origen, 185-254 A. D., says, "The angels wonder that peace is come through Jesus to earth, for it is a place ridden with wars."
"This is called peace, where none is at variance, nothing is out of harmony, where there is nothing hostile, nothing barbarian." "For no longer do we (Christians) take arms against any race, or learn to wage war, inasmuch as we have been made sons of peace through Jesus, whom we follow as our leader." ('Patrologia Græca,' XIV., pp. 46, 988, 1231.)
St. Cyprian, about 200-257 A. D., boasts that "Christians do not in turn assail their assailants, since it is not lawful for the innocent even to kill the guilty; but they readily deliver up their lives and blood." (Epistle 56, to Cornelius, section 2.)
Arnobius, who wrote about 295 A. D., says, "Certainly, if all who look upon themselves as men would listen awhile unto Christ's wholesome and peaceable decrees, the whole world long ago, turning the use of iron to milder works, should have lived in most quiet tranquility, and have met together in a firm and indissoluble league of most safe concord." ('Adversus Gentes,' Lib. I., page 6.)
Lactantius, who wrote in the beginning of the fourth century, insists that "It can never be lawful for a righteous man to go to war, for his warfare is unrighteous itself." "It is not murder that God rebukes; the civil laws punish that. God's prohibition is intended for ihose acts which men considered lawful. Therefore it is not permitted for a Christian to bear arms; justice is his armor. The divine command admits no exceptions; man is sacred and it is always a crime to take his life." ('Div. Inst.,' VI., 20.) Thus does he declaim against men-slayers: "This, then, is your road to immortality. To destroy cities, devastate territories, exterminate or enslave free peoples! The more you have ruined, robbed, and murdered men, the more you think yourselves noble and illustrious." ('Div. Inst.,' I., 48.)
Athanasius, 296-373 A. D., states that when people "hear the teaching of Christ, straightway instead of fighting they turn to husbandry, and instead of arming their hands with weapons they raise them in prayer." ('Incarnation of the Word,' section 52.)
St. Gregory of Nyssa, 335-395 A. D., preaches that "He who promises you profit, if you abstain from the ills of war, bestows on you two gifts—one the remission from the train of evils attendant on the strife, the other the strife itself." (' Patrologia Grseca,' XLIV., p. 1282.)
St. Augustine, 354-430 A. D., declares that 'Not to keep peace is to spurn Christ.' ('Migne's Patrologia Latina,' XXXIII, p. 186.) He holds that 'defensive wars are the only just and lawful ones; it is in these alone that the soldier may be allowed to kill, when he can not otherwise protect his city and his brethren.' (Letter 47.)
Isidore of Pelusium, 370-450 A. D., is no less outspoken: "I say, although the slaughter of enemies in war may seem legitimate, although the columns to the victors are erected, telling of their illustrious crimes, yet if account be taken of the undeniable and supreme brotherhood of man, not even these are free from evil." ('Patrologia Græca,' LXXVIII, p. 1287.)
We have also the undisputed historical record of Maximilian, the centurion, who, having embraced Christianity, resigned his position and refused to fight. For this he was put to death.
Celsus, the great opponent of Christianity, who wrote about 176 A. D., reproaches the christians for refusing to bear arms, and states that in one part of the Roman army, including one-third of the whole, 'Not a Christian could be found.'
Martin replied to Julian, the apostate, 'I am a Christian, and I can not fight.'
If we turn to the Popes, who were then supreme:
St. Gregory the Great, 540-604 A. D., writes the King of the Lombards, 'By choosing peace you have shown yourself a lover of God who is its author.'
Pope Innocent III., to the King of France, in protest against the wars between Philip Augustus and Richard of England, writes, "At the moment when Jesus Christ is about to complete the mystery of redemption, he gives peace as a heritage to his disciples; he wills that they observe it among themselves and make it observed by others. What he says at his death, he confirms after his resurrection. 'Peace be with you.' These are the first words which he addressed to his Apostles. Peace is the expression of that love which is the fulfilling of the law. What is more contrary to love than the quarrels of men? Born of hate, they destroy every bond of affection; and shall he who loves not his neighbour love God? "
Erasmus declares, "If there is in the affairs of mortal men any one thing which it is proper to explode, and incumbent upon every man by every lawful means to avoid, to deprecate, to oppose, that one thing is doubtless war."
Luther declares, "Cannons and firearms are cruel and damnable machines. I believe them to have been the direct suggestion of the Devil. If Adam had seen in vision the horrible instruments his children were to invent, he would have died of grief."
Nothing can be clearer than that the leaders of Christianity immediately succeeding Christ, from whom authentic expressions of doctrines have come down to us, were well assured that their Master had forbidden to the christian the killing of men in war or enlisting in the legions. One of the chief differences which separated Roman non-christians and christians was the refusal of the latter to enlist in the legions and be thus bound to kill their fellows in war as directed. We may well ponder over the change, and wonder that christian priests accompany the armies of our day, and even dare to approach the Unknown, beseeching his protection and favor for soldiers in their heinous work. When the warring hosts are christian nations, worshipping the one God, which, alas, is not seldom, as in the last gigantic orgy of human slaughter in Europe, we had the spectacle of the rival priests, praying in the name of the Prince of Peace, to the God of Battles for favor. Similar prayers were offered in the churches, where in some instances battle-flags, the emblems of carnage, were displayed. Future ages are to pronounce all this blasphemous. There are those of to-day who deplore it deeply. Even the pagan, before Christ, direct from human butchery, refrained from appealing to his gods without first cleansing himself of the accruing pollution.
It is a truism that the doctrines of all founders of religions have undergone modifications in practise, but it is strange indeed that the doctrine of Christ regarding war and warriors, as held by his immediate followers, should have been so completely discarded and reversed in the later centuries, and is so still.
Bentham's words can not be overlooked: "Nothing can be worse than the general feeling on the subject of war. The church, the state, the ruling few, the subject man, all seem in this case to have combined to patronize vice and crime in their widest sphere of evil. Dress a man in particular garments, call him by a particular name, and he shall have authority, on divers occasions, to commit every species of offense—to pillage, to murder, to destroy human felicity; and for so doing he shall be rewarded. The period will surely arrive when better instructed generations will require all the evidence of history to credit that, in times deeming themselves enlightened, human beings should have been honored with public approval in the very proportion of the misery they caused."
Bacon's words come to mind: "I am of opinion that, except you bray Christianity in a mortar and mould it into new paste, there is no possibility of a holy war."
Apparently in no field of its work in our times does the christian church throughout the whole world, with outstanding individual exceptions of course, so conspicuously fail as in its attitude to war—judged by the standard maintained by the early christian fathers nearest in time to Christ. Its silence when outspoken speech might avert war, its silence during war's sway, its failure even during calm days of peace to proclaim the true christian doctrine regarding the killing of men made in God's image, and the prostitution of its holy offices to unholy warlike ends, give point to the recent arraignment of Prime Minister Balfour, who declared that the church to-day busies itself with questions which do not weigh even as dust in the balance compared with the vital problems with which it is called upon to deal.
Volumes could be filled with the denunciations of war by the great moderns. Only a few can be given.
Lord Clarendon, 1608-1674, says, "We can not make a more lively representation and emblem to ourselves of hell, than by the view of a kingdom in war."
Hume says, "The rage and violence of public war, what is it but a suspension of justice among the warring parties? "
Gibbon writes, "A single robber or a few associates are branded with their genuine name; but the exploits of a numerous band assume the character of lawful and honorable war."
'In every battlefield we see an inglorious arena of human degradation,' says Conway.
A strong voice from a St. Andrews principal is heard. Sir David Brewster, 1781-1868, says, "Nothing in the history of the species appears more inexplicable than that war, the child of barbarism, should exist in an age enlightened and civilized. But it is more inexplicable still that war should exist where Christianity has for nearly 2,000 years been shedding its gentle light, and should be defended by arguments drawn from the Scriptures themselves."
One of the greatest American secretaries of state, Colonel John Hay, who has just passed away, denounced war as 'the most futile and ferocious of human follies.'
Much has man accomplished in his upward march from savagery. Much that was evil and disgraceful has been banished from life; but the indelible mark of war still remains to stain the earth and discredit our claim to civilization. After all our progress, human slaughter is still with us; but I ask your attention for a few minutes to many bright rays, piercing the dark cloud, which encourage us. Consider for a moment what war was in days past. It knew no laws, had no restrictions. Poison and assassination of opposing rulers and generals arranged by private bargain, and deceptive agreements, were legitimate weapons. Prisoners were massacred or enslaved. No quarter was given. Enemies were tortured and mutilated. Women, children and non-combatants were not spared. Wells were poisoned. Private property was not respected. Pillage was the rule. Privateering and private war were allowed. Neutral rights at sea were almost unknown.
Permit me briefly to trace the history of the reforms in war which have been achieved, from which we draw encouragement to labor for its abolition, strong in the faith that the days of man-slaying are numbered.
The first action against the savage custom of war is found in the rules of the Amphictyonic Council of the Greeks, some three hundred years before Christ. Hellenes were 'to quarrel as those who intend some day to be reconciled.' They were to "use friendly correction, and not to devastate Hellas or burn houses, or think that the whole population of a city, men, women and children, were equally their enemies and therefore to be destroyed."
We owe chiefly to Grotius the modern movement to subject hitherto lawless war on land and sea to the humane restraints of law. His first book, 'Mare Liberum,' appeared in 1609. It soon attracted such attention that Britain had to employ her greatest legal authority, Lord Selden, to make reply. Up to this time Spain, Portugal and Britain had maintained that the surrounding seas were closed to all countries except those upon their shores, a doctrine not formally abandoned by Britain until 1803.
Grotius's second and epoch-making work, 'The Eights of War and Peace,' appeared in 1625, and immediately arrested the attention of Gustavus Adolphus, the greatest warrior of his time. A copy was found in his tent when he died on the field of Liitzen. He stood constantly for mercy, even in those barbarous days. Three years after its appearance, Cardinal Richelieu, to the amazement of Europe, spared the Huguenot garrison, and protected the city of Rochelle, when he was expected to follow the usual practise of massacring the defenders and giving the town and inhabitants over to massacre and pillage. It was then holy work to slay heretics, sparing not one. He was denounced for this merciful act by his own party and hailed as 'Cardinal of Satan' and 'Pope of the Atheists.' The Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, three years after the death of Grotius, closed the Thirty Years War in Germany, the Eighty Years' War in the Netherlands, and a long era of savagery in many parts of the globe. It shows clearly the influence of Grotius's advanced ideas, being founded upon his doctrine of the essential independence and equality of all sovereign states, and the laws of justice and mercy. In the progress of man from war, lawless and savage, to war restricted and obedient to international law, no name is entitled to rank with his. He is the father of modern international law, so far as it deals with the rights of peace and war. He has had several eminent successors, especially Puffendorf, Bynkershoek and Vattel. These four are called by Phillimore 'The Umpires of International Disputes.' They are followed closely by a second quartette, the British judges—Stowell, and the American judges—Marshall, Story and Field.
International law is unique in one respect. It has no material force behind it. It is a proof of the supreme force of gentleness—the irresistible pressure and final triumph of what is just and merciful. To the few who have contributed conspicuously to its growth in the past, and to those laboring therein to-day, civilization owes an unpayable debt. Private individuals have created it, and yet the nations have been glad to accept. British judges have repeatedly declared that 'International law is in full force in Britain.' It is so in America and other countries. We have in this self-created, self-developing and self-forcing agency one of the two most powerful and beneficent instruments for the peace and progress of the world.
The most important recent reforms effected in the laws of war are those of the Treaty of Paris (1856), the Treaty of Washington (1871), which settled the Alabama Claims, and the Brussels Declaration of 1874.
The Treaty of Paris marks an era as having enshrined certain principles. First, it abolished privateering. Henceforth, war on the sea is confined to national warships, organized and manned by officers and men in the service of the state. Commerce is no longer subject to attack by private adventurers seeking spoil. Second, it ruled that a blockade to be recognized must be effective. Third, it established the doctrine that an enemy's goods in a neutral ship are free, except contraband. These were great steps forward.
America declined to accept the first (in which, however, she has now concurred) unless private property was totally exempt on sea as on land, for which she has long contended, and which the powers, except Britain, have generally favored. So strongly has the current set recently in its favor that hopes are entertained that the forthcoming conference at The Hague may reach this desirable result. It is the final important advance in this direction that remains to be made, and means that peaceful commerce has been rescued from the demon war. Should it be made, the trenchers of St. Andrews students may well whirl in the air with cheers.
The Treaty of Washington is probably to rank in history as Mr. Gladstone's greatest service, because it settled by arbitration the Alabama Claims, a question fraught with danger, and which, if left open, would probably have driven apart and kept hostile to each other for a long period the two branches of the English-speaking race. A statesman less powerful with the great masses of his countrymen could not have carried the healing measure, for much had to be conceded by Britain, for which it deserves infinite credit. Three propositions were insisted upon by America as a basis for arbitration, and although all were reasonable and should have been part of international law, still they were not. Their fairness being recognized, Mr. Gladstone boldly and magnanimously agreed that the arbiters should be guided by them. These defined very clearly the duties of neutrals respecting the fitting out of ships of war in their ports, or the use of their ports as a naval base. This they must now use 'due diligence' to prevent.
Morley says, in his Life of Gladstone: "The Treaty of Washington and the Geneva arbitration stand out as the most noble victory in the 19th century of the noble art of preventive diplomacy, and the most signal exhibition in their history of self-command in two of three chief democratic powers of the Western World."
The Brussels Convention met in 187-4.
Even as late as the earlier half of last century the giving up of towns and their inhabitants to the fury of the troops which stormed them was permitted by the usages of war. Defending his conduct in Spain, Wellington says: "I believe it has always been understood that the defenders of a fortress stormed have no right to quarter." After the storming of San Sebastian, as to plunder, he says: "It has fallen to my lot to take many towns by storm, and I am concerned to add that I never saw nor heard of one so taken by any troops that it was not plundered."
Shakespeare's description of the stormed city can never be forgotten:
The gates of mercy shall be all shut up,
And the flushed soldier rough and hard
In liberty of bloody hand shall range
With conscience wide as hell.
This inhuman practise was formally abolished by the Brussels Declaration—that 'a town taken by storm shall not be given up to the victorious troops to plunder.' To-day to put a garrison to the sword would be breach of the law of quarter, as well as a violation of the Brussels Declaration. We may rest assured the civilized world has seen the last of that atrocity.
We look back from the pinnacle of our high civilization with surprise and horror to find that even in Wellington's time, scarcely one hundred years ago, such savagery was the rule; but so shall our descendants after a like interval look back from a still higher pinnacle upon our slaying of man in war as equally atrocious, equally unnecessary and equally indefensible.
Let me summarize what has been gained so far in mitigating the atrocities of war in our march onward to the reign of peace. Noncombatants are now spared, women and children are no longer massacred, quarter is given, and prisoners are well cared for. Towns are not given over to pillage, private property on land is exempt, or if taken is paid or receipted for. Poisoned wells, assassination of rulers and commanders by private bargain, and deceptive agreements, are infamies of the past. On the sea, privateering has been abolished, neutral rights greatly extended and property protected, and the right of search narrowly restricted. So much is to be credited to the pacific power of international law. There is great cause for congratulation. If man has not been striking at the heart of the monster war, he has at least been busily engaged drawing some of its poisonous fangs.
Thus even throughout the savage reign of man-slaying we see the blessed law of evolution unceasingly at work performing its divine mission, making that which is better than what has been and ever leading us on towards perfection.
We have only touched the fringe of the crime so far, however, the essence of which is the slaughter of human beings, the failure to hold human life sacred, as the early christians did.
One deplorable exception exists to the march of improvement. A new stain has recently crept into the rules of war as foul as any that war has been forced by public sentiment to discard. It is the growth of recent years. Gentilis, Grotius and all the great publicists before Bynkershoek, dominated by the spirit of Eoman law, by chivalry and long established practise, insist upon the necessity of a formal declaration of war, 'that he be not taken unawares under friendly guise.' Not until the beginning of the last century did the opposite view begin to find favor. To-day it is held that a formal declaration is not indispensable and that war may begin without it. Here is the only step backward to be met with in the steady progress of reforming the rules of war. It is no longer held to be contrary to these for a power to surprise and destroy while yet in friendly conference with its adversary, endeavoring to effect a peaceful settlement. It belongs to the infernal armory of assassins hired to kill or poison opposing generals, of forged despatches, poisoned wells, agreements made to be broken and all the diabolic weapons which, for very shame, men have been forced to abandon as too infamous even for the trade of man-slaying. It proclaims that any party to a dispute can first in his right hand carry gentle peace, sitting in friendly conference, ostensibly engaged in finding a peaceful solution of differences, while with the left he grasps, concealed, the assassin's dagger. The parallel between duel and war runs very close through history. The challenger to a duel gave the other party notice. In 1187, the German diet at Nuremberg enacted, "We decree and enact by this edict that he who intends to damage another or to injure him shall give him notice three days before." It is to be hoped that the coming conference will stamp this treachery as contrary to the rules of war, and thus return to the ancient and more chivalrous idea of attack only after notice.
We come now to the consideration of the other commanding force in the campaign against war—peaceful arbitration.
The originator of the world-wide arbitration idea was Emeric Cruce, born at Paris about 1590. Of his small book of 226 pages upon the subject only one copy exists. Gerloius had propounded the idea in the 12th century, but it failed to attract attention. Balch says, "Cruce presented what was probably the first real proposal of substituting international arbitration for war as the court of last resort of nations." It has a quaint preface: "This book would gladly make the tour of the inhabited world so as to be seen by all the kings, and it would not fear any disgrace, having truth for its escort and the merit of its subject, which must serve as letters of recommendation and credit."
Henry IV., in 1603, produced his scheme for consolidating Europe in order to abolish war; but as its fundamental idea was armed force and involved the overthrow of the Hapsburgs, it can not be considered as in line with the system of peaceful arbitration.
St. Pierre, the Duc de Lorraine, William Perm, the Quaker founder of Pennsylvania, Bentham, Kant, Mill and others have labored to substitute the reign of law for war by producing schemes much alike in character, so that we have many proofs of the irrepressible longing of man for release from the scourge.
I beg now to direct your attention to the most fruitful of all conferences that have ever taken place. Other conferences have been held, but always at the end of war, and their first duty was to restore peace between the belligerents. The Hague conference was the first ever called to discuss the means of establishing peace without reference to any particular war. Twenty-six nations were represented, including all the leading powers.
The conference was called by the present Emperor of Russia, August 24, 1898, and is destined to be forever memorable from having realized Cruce's ideal, and given to the world its first permanent court for the settlement of international disputes. The last century is in future ages to remain famous as having given birth to this high court of humanity. The conference opened upon the birthday of the Emperor, May 18th, 1899. The day may yet become one of the world's holidays in the coming day of peace, as that upon which humanity took one of its longest and highest steps in its history, onward and upward. As Ambassador White says, 'The Conference marks the first stage in the abolition of the scourge of war.' Such an achievement was scarcely expected, even by the most sanguine. Its accomplishment surprised most of the members of the conference themselves; but so deeply and generally had they been appalled by the ravages of war, and its enormous cost, by its inevitable progeny of future wars, and above all by its failure to ensure lasting peace, that the idea of a world court captivated the assembly, which has been pronounced the most distinguished that ever met. A less sweeping proposal would probably not have touched their imagination and aroused their enthusiasm. The prompt acceptance of the international court by public sentiment in all countries was no less surprising. Every one of the powers represented promptly ratified the treaty, the United States Senate voting unanimously—a rare event. We may justly accept this far-reaching and rapid success as evidence of a deep, general and earnest desire in all lands to depose war and enthrone peace through the judicial settlement of disputes by courts.
At last there is no excuse for war. A tribunal is now at hand to judge wisely and deliver righteous judgment between nations. It has made an auspicious start. A number of disputes have already been settled by it. First, it settled a difference between the United States and Mexico. Then President Roosevelt, when asked to act as arbiter, nobly led Britain, Germany, France, Italy, America and Venezuela to it for settlement of their differences, which has just been concluded.
Britain had recently a narrow escape from war with Russia, arising from the unfortunate incident upon the Dogger Bank, when fishing boats were struck by shots from Russian war-ships. There was intense excitement. The Hague Treaty provides that when such difficulties arise international commissions of inquiry be formed. This was the course pursued by two governments, parties to the treaty, which happily preserved the peace.
It was under another provision of the Hague conference that the President of the United States addressed his recent note to Japan and Russia suggesting a conference looking to peace, and offering his services to bring it about. His success was thus made possible by the Hague Treaty. The world is fast awakening to its far-reaching consequences and to the fact that the greatest advance man has ever made by one act is the creation of a world, court to settle international disputes.
As I write, report comes that to-morrow the august tribunal is to begin hearing France and Britain upon their differences regarding Muscat. There sits the divinest conclave that ever graced the earth, judged by its mission, which is the fulfilment of the prophecy, "Men shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
Thus the world court goes marching on, to the dethronement of savage war and the enthronement of peaceful arbitration.
The Hague tribunal has nothing compulsory about it; all members are left in perfect freedom as to whether they submit questions to it or not. This has sometimes been regarded as its weakness, but it is, from another point of view, its strongest feature. Like international law, it depends upon its merits to win its way, and, as we have seen, it is succeeding; but so anxious are many to hasten the abolition of war that suggestions are made towards obtaining the consent of the powers to agree to submit to it certain classes of questions. In this it may be well to make haste slowly and refrain from exerting pressure. This will all come in good time. Peace wins her way not by force; her appeal is to the reason and the conscience of man. In all treaties hitherto the great powers have retained power to withhold submission of questions affecting 'their honor or vital interests.' This was only natural at first, and time is required gradually to widen the range of subjects to be submitted. The tendency to do this is evident, and it only needs patience to reach the desired end. The greatest step forward in this direction is that Denmark and the Netherlands and Chili and Argentina have just concluded treaties agreeing to submit to arbitration all disputes, making no exception whatever. To crown this noble work, the latter two have erected a statue to the Prince of Peace on the highest peak of the Andes, which marks the long-disputed boundary between them.
Another splendid advance in this direction has been made in the agreement to arbitrate all questions between Sweden and Norway. Questions affecting 'independence, integrity or vital interests' are excepted; but should any difference arise as to what to do, that question is to be submitted. In other words, either nation can claim that a question does so, and, if the Hague tribunal agrees, it is not arbitrated. But if the tribunal decides the difference does not concern the 'independence, integrity or vital interests of either country,' then it is submitted to arbitration. This is certainly a step forward; and you will please note that intangible thing—'honor'—is omitted.
These nations are to be cordially congratulated on taking the initial step in this splendid advance. We grudge not the honor and glory that have fallen to them therefrom, though in our hearts we may feel that this might more appropriately have been the work of the race that abolished slavery, both branches participating, and also abolished the duel. What our race should now do is to follow the example set and conclude such a treaty, operative within the wide boundaries of English-speakers, empire and republic. Less than this were derogatory to our past as pioneers of progress. We can not long permit these small nations to march in advance. We should at least get abreast of them. We have noted that honor or vital interests have hitherto been excepted from submission by arbitration treaties. We exclaim, 'Oh, Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name!'—but these are trifling compared with those committed in the name of 'honor,' the most dishonored word in our language. Never did man or nation dishonor another man or nation. This is impossible. All honor's wounds are self-inflicted. All stains upon honor come from within, never from without. Innocence seeks no revenge; there is nothing to be revenged—guilt can never be. Man or nation whose honor needs vindication beyond a statement of the truth, which puts calumny to shame, is to be pitied. Innocence rests with that, truth has a quiet breast, for the guiltless find that
So dear to heaven is saintly innocence,
A thousand liveried angels lackey her
To keep her from all sense of sin and shame.
Innocent honor, assailed, discards bloody revenge and seeks the halls of justice and of arbitration. It has been held in the past that, a man's honor assailed, vindication lay only through the sword. To-day it is sometimes still held that a nation's honor, assailed, can in like manner be vindicated only through war; but it is not open to a member of our race to hold this doctrine, for within its wide boundaries no dispute between men can be lawfully adjusted outside the courts of law. Instead of vindicating his honor, the English-speaking man who violated the law by seeking redress by personal violence would dishonor himself. Under our law, no wrong against man can be committed that justifies the crime of private vengeance after its commission.
The man of our race who holds that his country would be dishonored by agreeing to unrestricted arbitration forgets that according to this standard he is personally dishonored by doing that very thing. Individually he has become civilized, nationally he remains barbaric, refusing peaceful settlement and insisting upon national revenge—all for injured honor.
Which of us would not rejoice to have Britain and America share with Denmark and Holland, Chili and Argentina, the 'dishonor' they have recently incurred, and esteem it a proud possession?
Nations are only aggregates of the individual. The parallel between war and the duel is complete; and as society within our race already relies upon courts of justice to protect its members from all wrongs, so shall the nations finally rely upon international courts.
Objection has been made that unreasonable, dishonoring or baseless claims might be made under arbitration. That any member of the family of nations would present a claim wholly without basis, or that the court would not decide against it if made, is a danger purely hypothetical. The agreement between nations when made will undoubtedly be framed in accordance with the ideas of Grotius, and the independence and equality of all members and their existing territories recognized. These could not be assailed.
Three incidents have occurred since the court was organized which have caused much pain to the friends of peace throughout the world.
America refused the offer of the Filipinos to adjust their quarrel by arbitration. Britain refused the offer of the Transvaal Republic to arbitrate, although three of the court proposed by the republic were to be British judges, and the other two judges of Holland—the most remarkable offer ever made, highly creditable to the maker and a great tribute to British judges. Neither Russia nor Japan suggested submission to The Hague. Since the Hague Court is the result of the Russian Emperor's initiative, this caused equal surprise and pain. The explanation has been suggested that peaceful conferences were being held when Japan attacked at Port Arthur without notice, rendering arbitration impossible.
We must recognize these discouraging incidents, but we have the consolation left us of believing that, had either of the three nations seen, at the beginning, the consequences of ignoring arbitration, as clearly as they did later, they would have accepted arbitration and had reason to congratulate themselves upon the award of the court, whatever it was. They will learn by experience. Notwithstanding these regrettable failures to refer disputes to the Hague Court as peaceful umpire, we have abundant reason for satisfaction in the number of instances in which the court's award has already brought peace without the sacrifice of one human life—the victories which bring no tears.
Signs of action in favor of universal peace abound. Among these may be mentioned that the Inter-Parliamentary Union assembled at St. Louis last year requested the governments of the world to send representatives to an international conference to consider:—First, the questions for the consideration of which the conference at the Hague expressed a wish that a future conference be called. Second, the negotiation of arbitration treaties between the nations represented. Third, the advisability of establishing an international congress to be convened periodically for the discussion of international questions.
President Roosevelt invited the nations to call the conference, but has recently deferred to the Emperor of Russia as the proper party to call the nations together again.
Should the proposed periodic congress he established, we shall have the germ of the council of nations, which is coming to keep the peace of the world, judging between nations, as the Supreme Court of the United States judges to-day between states embracing an area larger than Europe. It will be no novelty, but merely an extension of an agency already proved upon a smaller scale. As we dwell upon the rapid strides towards peace which man is making, the thought arises that there may be those now present, who will live to see this world council established, through which is sure to come in the course of time the banishment of man-slaying among civilized nations.
I hope my hearers will follow closely the proceedings of the Hague conference, for upon its ever-extending sway largely depends the coming of the reign of peace. Its next meeting will be important, perhaps epoch-making. Its creation and speedy success prepare us for surprisingly rapid progress. Even the smallest further step taken in any peaceful direction would soon lead to successive steps thereafter. The tide has set in at last, and is flowing as never before for the principle of arbitration as against war.
So much for the temple of peace at The Hague. Permit me a few words upon arbitration in general.
The statesmen who first foresaw and proved the benefits of modern arbitration were Washington, Franklin, Hamilton, Jay and Grenville.
As early as 1780 Franklin writes, "We make daily great improvements in Natural, there is one I wish to see in Moral, Philosophy—the discovery of a plan that would induce and oblige nations to settle their disputes without first cutting each other's throats." His wish was realized in the Jay Treaty of 1794, from which modern arbitration dates. It is noteworthy that this treaty was the child of our race and that the most important questions which arbitration has settled so far have been those between its two branches.
It may surprise you to learn that from the date of the Jay Treaty, one hundred and eleven years ago, no less than five hundred and seventy-one international disputes have been settled by arbitration. Not in any case has an award been questioned or disregarded, except, I believe, in one case, where the arbiters misunderstood their powers. If in every ten of these differences so quietly adjusted without a wound, there lurked one war, it follows that peaceful settlement has prevented fifty-seven wars—one every two years. More than this, had the fifty-seven wars, assumed as prevented by arbitration, developed, they would have sown the seeds of many future wars, for there is no such prolific mother of wars as war itself. Hate breeds hate, quarrel breeds quarrels, war breeds war—a hateful progeny. It is the poorest of all remedies. It poisons as it cures. No truer line was ever penned than this of Milton's, 'For what can war but endless war still breed?'
No less than twenty-three international treaties of arbitration have been made within the past two years. The United States made ten with the principal powers, which only failed to be formally executed because the senate, which shares with our executive the treaty-making power to the extent that its approval is necessary, thought it advisable to change one word only—'treaty' for 'agreement'—which proved unsatisfactory to the executive. The vote of the senate was almost unanimous, showing an overwhelming sentiment for arbitration. The internal difference will no doubt be adjusted.
You will judge from these facts how rapidly arbitration is spreading. Once tried, there is no backward step. It produces peace and leaves no bitterness. The parties to it become better friends than before; war makes them enemies.
Much has been written upon the fearful cost of war in our day, the ever-increasing blood tax of nations, which threatens soon to approach the point of exhaustion in several European lands. To-day France leads with an expenditure of £3 14s and a debt of £31 3s 8d per head. Britain follows with an annual expenditure of £3 8s 8d and a debt of £18 10s 5d per head. Germany's expenditure is in great contrast—only £1 15s 4d, not much more than one-third; her debt, £2 12s 2d, not one-sixth that of Britain. Russia's expenditure is £1 14s 6d, about the same as the German; her debt £5 9s 9d per head.
The military and naval expenditure of Britain is fully half of her total expenditure; that of the other great powers, though less, is rapidly increasing.
All the great national debts, with trifling exceptions—Britain's eight hundred millions, France's twelve hundred millions sterling—are the legacies of war.
This drain, with the economic loss of life added, is forcing itself upon the nations concerned as never before. It threatens soon to become dangerous unless the rapid increase of recent years be stopped; but it is to be feared that not till after the financial catastrophe occurs will nations devote themselves seriously to apply the cure.
The futility of war as a means of producing peace between nations has often been dwelt upon. It is really the most futile of all remedies, because it embitters contestants and sows the seeds of future struggles. Generations are sometimes required to eradicate the hostility engendered by one conflict. War sows dragons' teeth, and seldom gives to either party what it fought for. When it does, the spoil generally proves Dead Sea fruit. The terrible war just concluded is another case in point. Neither contestant obtained what he fought for, the reputed victor being most of all disappointed at last with the terms of peace. Had Japan, a very poor country, known that the result would be a debt of two hundred millions sterling loading her down, or had Eussia known the result, differences would have been peacefully arbitrated. Such considerations find no place, however, in the fiery furnace of popular clamor; as little do those of cost or loss of life. Only if the moral wrong, the sin in itself, of man-slaying is brought home to the conscience of the masses may we hope speedily to banish war. There will, we fear, always be demagogues in our day to inflame their brutal passions and urge men to fight, as a point of honor and patriotism, scouting arbitration as a cowardly refuge. All thoughts of cost or loss of human life vanish when the brute in man, thus aroused, gains sway.
It is the crime of destroying human life by war and the duty to offer or accept peaceful arbitration as a substitute which need to be established, and which, as we think, those of the church, the universities, and of the professions are called upon to strongly emphasize.
If the principal European nations were not free through conscription from the problem which now disturbs the military authorities of Britain, the lack of sufficient numbers willing to enter the man-slaying profession, we should soon hear the demand formulated for a league of peace among the nations. The subject of war can never be studied without recalling this simplest of all modes for its abolition. Five nations cooperated in quelling the recent Chinese disorders and rescuing their representatives in Pekin. It is perfectly clear that these five nations could banish war. Suppose even three of them formed a league of peace—inviting all other nations to join—and agreed that since war in any part of the civilized world affects all nations, and often seriously, no nation shall go to war, but shall refer international disputes to the Hague conference or other arbitral body for peaceful settlement, the league agreeing to declare non-intercourse with any nation refusing compliance. Imagine a nation cut off to-day from the world. The league also might reserve to itself the right, where non-intercourse is likely to fail or has failed to prevent war, to use the necessary force to maintain peace, each member of the league agreeing to provide the needed forces, or money in lieu thereof, in proportion to her population or wealth. Being experimental and upon trial, it might be deemed advisable, if necessary, at first to agree that any member' could withdraw after giving five years' notice, and that the league should dissolve five years after a majority vote of all the members. Further provisions, and perhaps some adaptations, would be found requisite, but the main idea is here.
The Emperor of Russia called the Hague conference, which gave us an international tribunal. Were King Edward or the Emperor of Germany or the President of France, acting for their governments, to invite the nations to send representatives to consider the wisdom of forming such a league, the invitation would no doubt be responded to and probably prove successful.
The number that would gladly join such a league would be great, for the smaller nations would welcome the opportunity.
The relations between Britain, France and the United States to-day are so close, their aims so similar, their territories and fields of operation so clearly defined and so different, that these powers might properly unite in inviting other nations to consider the question of such a league as has been sketched. It is a subject well worthy the attention of their rulers, for of all the modes of hastening the end of war this appears the easiest and the best. We have no reason to doubt that arbitration in its, present optional form will continue its rapid progress, and that it in itself contains the elements required finally to lead us to peace, for it conquers wherever it is tried; but it is none the less gratifying to know that there is in reserve a drastic mode of enforcement, if needed, which would promptly banish war.
Notwithstanding all the cheering signs of the growth of arbitration, we should delude ourselves if we assumed that war is immediately to cease, for it is scarcely to be hoped that the future has not to witness more than one great holocaust of men to be offered up before the reign of peace blesses the earth. The scoria from the smoldering mass of the fiery past, the seeds that great wars have sown, may be expected to burst out at intervals more and more remote, until the poison of the past is exhausted. That there is to be perfect unbroken peace in our progress to this end we are not so unduly sanguine as to imagine. We are prepared for more than one outbreak of madness and folly in the future as in the past; but that peace is to come at last, and that sooner, much sooner, than the majority of my hearers can probably credit, I for one entertain not one particle of doubt.
We sometimes hear, in defense of war, that it develops the manly virtue of courage. This means only physical courage, which some animals and the lower order of savage men possess in the highest degree. According to this idea, the more man resembles the bulldog the higher he is developed as man. The Zulus, armed with spears, rush upon repeating rifles, not because unduly endowed with true courage, but because they lack common sense. One session or less at St. Andrews University would cure them of their folly. In our scientific day, beyond any that has preceded, discretion is by far the better part of valor. Officers and men, brave to a fault, expose themselves needlessly and die for the country they would have better served by sheltering themselves and living for. Physical courage is far too common to be specially extolled. Japanese, Russian and Turk, Zulu and Achenese are all famous for it. It is often allied with moral cowardice. Hotspur is an ideal physical-courage hero when he exclaims—
By heaven, methinks it were an easy leap,
To pluck bright honor from the pale-faced moon,
Or dive into the bottom of the deep,
Where fathom-line could never touch the ground,
And pluck up drowned honor by the locks;
So that he that doth redeem her thence might wear
Without corrival all her dignities.
Vain peacock, unless he could reap the glory and strut bespangled with glittering decorations, he cared not to achieve. All for himself, nothing for the cause, nothing for his country.
Achilles, sulking in his tent, incensed upon the question of loot and praying the gods to defeat his own countrymen, is another example of a physically courageous military hero. Fortunately our modern military men are generally of a different type. It is not the individual who conforms to the standard of his age, but the bad standard of the age that is to be condemned. Men are to be judged only by the standard of their time, and though our standard of to-day may be low indeed, the men conforming to it are not to be decried.
If you would be lifted up and inspired by worshipping at the shrine of the much nobler and rarer virtue, moral courage, stand before the Martyrs' Monument yonder. The martyrs cared nothing for earthly glory and honor or reward; their duty was to stand for a noble cause, and for that, not for their own selfish exaltation, they marched through fire and fagot to death unflinchingly, chanting as they marched.
There is one very encouraging indication of progress within our race, as showing, it is to be hoped, the influence of education upon the masses in evolving clearer ideas of responsibility for their actions. The attention of parliament was recently called to the difficulty of obtaining recruits for the army. The shortage of officers in the auxiliary forces (volunteers and militia) is no less than twenty-five per cent.—one-fourth of the whole. The militia has 32,000 men less than before. The regular army lacks 242 officers, and the British army for India is short 12,000 British recruits. The government pronounces this 'the most serious problem which confronts the military authorities.' Some of the highest military authorities see the final remedy only in conscription. I rejoice to inform you that your kin beyond sea in America have on hand the very same problem for their navy. Their army, being so small, is not yet affected. All their war-ships can not be manned—3,500 men are lacking. From this shortage of recruits we are justified in concluding that there is no longer a general desire in our race to enter the services. This is specially significant, as we are informed that increase of pay would not greatly increase recruiting, as recruits are obtained chiefly from a certain class. We hear of a like trouble in another profession, a scarcity of young, educated, conscientious men desirous of entering the ministry, thought to be owing to the theological tenets to which they are required to subscribe. Both branches of the church in Scotland have accordingly endeavored to meet this problem by substituting less objectionable terms.
Perhaps from the public library young men have taken Carlyle and read how he describes the artisans of Britain and France: "Thirty stand fronting thirty, each with a gun in his hand. Straightway the word 'fire' is given, and they blow the souls out of one another; and in place of sixty brisk, useful craftsmen, the world has sixty dead carcases, which it must bury and anew shed tears for. Had these men any quarrel? Busy as the devil is, not the smallest! They lived far enough apart, were the entirest strangers; nay in so wide a universe there was even, unconsciously, by commerce, some mutual helpfulness between them. How then? Simpleton! Their governors had fallen out, and, instead of shooting one another, had the cunning to make these poor blockheads shoot."
Those who decline the advances of the decorated recruiting officer may have stumbled upon Professor MacMichael's address to the Peace Congress at Edinburgh, 1853, when he said: "The military profession is inconsistent with Christianity. The higher the rank and the greater the intellect, the more desperate the criminality. Here is a person upon whom God has conferred the rare gift of mathematical genius. If properly directed, what an abundant source of benefit to mankind! It might be employed in the construction of railways, by which the most distant parts of the world are brought into communication with each other. It might be employed in flashing the trembling lightning across the wires, making them the medium of intercourse between loving hearts thousands of miles apart; in increasing the wonderful powers of the steam-engine, relieving man from his exhausting toils; in application to the printing-press, sending light and knowledge to the farthest extremities of the earth. It might be employed in draining marshes, in supplying our towns and cities with water, and in adding to the health and happiness of men. It might lay down rules derived from the starry heavens, by which the mariner is guided through the wild wastes of waters in the darkest night. How noble is science when thus directed, but in the same proportion how debasing does it become when directed to human destruction! It is as if a chemist were to make use of his knowledge not to cure the diseases of which humanity is suffering, but to poison the springs of existence. The scientific soldier cultivates his endowments for what purpose? That he may determine the precise direction at which these batteries may vomit forth their fire so as to destroy most property and most lives; that he may calculate the precise angles and force with which these shells may be sent up into the air that they may fall upon that particular spot which is thronged with men, and, exploding there, send havoc among them. Great God! am I at liberty to devote my faculties to the infernal work?"
That is a voice from Dunfermline of weighty import. I found it recently and rejoiced that, when a child, I had often seen the man who wrote these words.
Wyclifs opinion may have arrested the young men's attention:
"What honor falls to a knight that kills many men? The hangman killeth many more and with a better title. Better were it for men to be butchers of beasts than butchers of their brethren!"
Or John Wesley's wail may have struck deep in the hearts of some fit for recruits: "You may pour out your soul and bemoan the loss of true, genuine love in the earth. Lost indeed! These Christian kingdoms that are tearing out each other's bowels, desolating one another with fire and sword! These Christian armies that are sending each other by thousands, by tens of thousands, quick to hell!"
It may be from eminent soldiers that young men have received the most discouraging accounts of the profession. Napoleon declared it 'the trade of barbarians.' Wellington writes Lord Shaftesbury, "War is a most detestable thing. If you had seen but one day of war, you would pray God you might never see another." General Grant, offered a military review by the Duke of Cambridge, declined, saying he never wished to look upon a regiment of soldiers again. General Sherman writes he was "tired and sick of the war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded, who cry aloud for more blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is Hell."
Perhaps some have pondered over Sir John Sinclair's opinion that 'the profession of a soldier is a damnable profession.'
The professional soldier is primarily required for purposes of aggression, it being clear that if there were none to attack, none to defend would be needed. The volunteer, who arms only to be better able to defend his home and country, occupies a very different position from the recruit who enlists unconditionally as a profession and binds himself to go forth and slay his fellows as directed. The defense of home and country may possibly become necessary, although no man living in Britain or America has ever seen invasion or is at all likely to see it. Still, the elements of patriotism and duty enter here. That it is every man's duty to defend home and country goes without saying. We should never forget, however, that which makes it a holy duty to defend one's home and country also makes it a holy duty not to invade the country and home of others, a truth which has not hitherto been kept in mind. The more's the pity, for in our time it is one incumbent upon the thoughtful peace-loving man to remember. The professional career is an affair of hire and salary. No duty calls any man to adopt the naval or military profession and engage to go forth to kill other men when and where ordered, without reference to the right or wrong of the quarrel. It is a serious engagement involving as we lookers-on see it, a complete surrender of the power most precious to man—the right of private judgment and appeal to conscience. Jay, the father of the first treaty between Britain and America, has not failed to point out that "our country, right or wrong, is rebellion against God and treason to the cause of civil and religious liberty, of justice and humanity."
Just in proportion as man becomes truly intelligent, we must expect him to realize more and more that he himself alone is responsible for his selection of an occupation, and that neither pope, priest nor king can relieve him from this responsibility.
It was all very well for the untaught, illiterate hind, pressed into King Henry's service, to argue, "Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the King that led them to it, whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection." The schoolmaster has been abroad since then. The divine right of kings has gone. The mass of English-speaking men now make and unmake their kings, scout infallibility of power of pope or priest, and in extreme cases sometimes venture to argue a point even with their own minister. The 'Judge within' begins to rule. Whether a young man decides to devote his powers to making of himself an efficient instrument for injuring or destroying, or for saving and serving his fellows, rests with himself to decide after serious consideration.
To meet the scarcity of officers, the government stated that it was considering the policy of looking to the universities for the needed supply, and that steps might be taken to encourage the study of war with a view to enlistment; but if university students are so far advanced ethically as to decline pledging themselves to preach 'creeds outworn'—rightfully most careful to heed the 'Judge within,' their own conscience—universities will probably be found poor recruiting ground for men required to pledge themselves to go forth and slay their fellow men at another's bidding. The day of humiliation will have come upon universities when their graduates, upon whom have been spent years of careful education in all that is highest and best, find themselves at the end good for nothing better than 'food for powder.' I think I hear the response of the son of St. Andrews to the recruiting officer, 'Is thy servant a dog that he should do this thing?'
From one point of view, the scarcity of officers and recruits in Britain and America, where men are free to choose, and the refusal of university students to compromise themselves by pledges upon entering the ministry, are most cheering, evincing as they do a keener sense of personal responsibility, a stronger appeal to conscience—the 'Judge within'—more tender and sympathetic natures, a higher standard of human action and altogether a higher type of man.
If war requires a surrender of all these by its recruits, much better we should face the alternative and let Britain and America depend upon the patriotism of citizens to defend their countries if attacked, in which duty I for one strongly believe they will never be found inefficient. Colonel Henderson, in his 'Science of War,' states "that the American Volunteers were superior to the conscript levies of Europe—that the morale of conscript armies has always been their weakest point. The morale of the volunteer is of a higher type." This stands to reason.
Should Britain ever be invaded, the whole male population able to march would volunteer, and from many parts of the world thousands would rush to the defense of the old home. Those who invade the land of Shakespeare and Burns will find they have to face forces they never reckoned upon. The hearts and consciences of all would be in the work; and 'Thrice is he armed who hath his quarrel just.'
Students of St. Andrews, my effort has been to give you a correct idea of the movement now stirring the world for the abolition of war, and what it has already accomplished. It never was so widespread or so vigorous, nor at any stage of the campaign have its triumphs been so numerous and important as those of the last few years, beginning with the Hague conference, which in itself marks an epoch. The foundation stone of the structure to come was then laid. The absolute surrender by four nations of all future differences to arbitration, and Norway and Sweden's agreement, mark another stage. Thus the civilized world at last moves steadily to the reign of peace through arbitration.
The question has no doubt arisen in your minds, what is your duty and how can you best cooperate in this holy work and hasten the end of war. I advise you to adopt Washington's words as your own, 'My first wish is to see this plague of mankind, war, banished from the earth.' Leagues of peace might be formed over the world with these words as their motto and basis of action. How are we to realize this pious wish of Washington's? may be asked. Here is the answer. Whenever an international dispute arises, no matter what party is in power, demand at once that your government offer to refer it to arbitration, and if necessary break with your party. Peace is above party. Should the adversary have forestalled your government in offering arbitration, which for the sake of our race I trust will never occur, then insist upon its acceptance and listen to nothing until it is accepted. Drop all other public questions, concentrate your efforts upon the one question which carries in its bosom the issue of peace or of war. Lay aside your politics until this war issue is settled. This is the time to be effective. And what should the ministers of the churches be doing? Very different from what they have done in the past. They should cease to take shelter from the storm, hiding themselves in the recital of the usual formulas pertaining to a future life in which men in this life have no duties, when the nation is stirred upon one supreme moral issue, and its government, asserting the right to sit in judgment upon its own cause, is on the brink of committing the nation to unholy war—for unholy it must be if peaceful settlement offered by an adversary be refused. Refusal to arbitrate makes war, even for a good cause, unholy; an offer to arbitrate lends dignity and importance to a poor one. Should all efforts fail, and your country, rejecting the appeal to judicial arbitration, plunge into war, your duty does not end. Calmly resolute in adherence to your convictions, stating them when called upon, though never violently intruding them, you await the result, which can not fail to prove that those who stood for peaceful arbitration chose the right path and have been wise counsellors of their country. It is a melancholy fact that nations looking back have usually to confess that their wars have been blunders, which means they have been crimes.
And the women of the land, and the women students of St. Andrews—what shall they do? Not wait as usual until war has begun, and then, their sympathies aroused, organize innumerable societies for making and sending necessaries and even luxuries to the front, or join Red Cross societies and go themselves to the field, nursing the wounded that these may the sooner be able to return to the ranks to wound others or be again wounded, or to kill or be killed. The tender chords of sympathy for the injured, which grace women, and are so easily stirred, are always to be cherished; but it may be suggested that were their united voices raised in stern opposition to war before it was declared, urging the offer of arbitration, or in earnest remonstrance against refusing it, one day of effort would then prove more effective than months of it after war has begun.
It is certain that if the good people of all parties and creeds, sinking for the time other political questions whenever the issue of war arises, were to demand arbitration, no government dare refuse. They have it in their power in every emergency to save their country from war and ensure unbroken peace.
If in every constituency there were organized an arbitration league, consisting of members who agree that arbitration of international disputes must be offered, or accepted by the government if offered by the adversary, pledging themselves to vote in support of, or in opposition to, political parties according to their action upon this question, it would be surprising how soon both parties would accept arbitration as a policy. I know of no work that would prove more fruitful for your country and for the world than this. It is by concentrating upon one issue that great causes are won.
In this holy work of insisting upon arbitration, surely we may expect the men and women of St. Andrews, of all universities and other educational institutions, of all the churches and of all the professions to unite and take a prominent part. I quoted the words of Washington at the beginning of this appeal. Let me close by quoting the words of Lincoln. When a young man, employed upon a trading boat, he made a voyage of some weeks' duration upon the Mississippi. He visited a slave market, where men, women and children were not slaughtered, as formerly in war, but were separated and sold from the auction block. His companion tells that after standing for some time Lincoln turned and walked silently away. Lifting his clenched hand, his first words were, 'If ever I get a chance, I shall hit this accursed thing hard.' Many years passed, during which he never failed to stand forth as the bitter foe of slavery and the champion of the slave. This was for him the paramount issue. He was true to his resolve throughout life, and in the course of events his time came at last. This poor, young, toiling boatman became president of the United States, and Mas privileged with a stroke of his pen to emancipate the slaves last remaining in the civilized world, four millions in number. He kept the faith, and gave the lesson for all of us in our day, who have still with us war in all its enormity, many of us more or less responsible for it, because we have not hitherto placed it above all other evils and concentrated our efforts sufficiently upon its extinction. Let us resolve like Lincoln, and select man-slaying as our foe, as he did man-selling. Let us, as he did, subordinate all other public questions to the one over-shadowing question, and, as he did, stand forth upon all suitable occasions to champion the cause. Let us, like him, keep the faith, and as his time came, so to us our time will come, and, as it does, let us hit accursed war hard until we drive it from the civilized world, as he did slavery.
- A rectorial address delivered to the students in the University of St. Andrews. October 17, 1905.