Page images

separate parts, which are all in their nature, tyrannical and discordant. Supposing the argument to be a good one, we have not at this moment, and never have had, and to the end of time, never can have, a single organized state in the world. The kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland is no longer one kingdom, but is England, and Scotland, and Ireland, nay, it is the different local divisions of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and we are carried back beyond the days of the Saxon Heptarchy. And so of every other country made up of what were once separate sovereignties, as is the case with all Europe and America, - and the people, though existing united in nations, in fact, have no national existence in Professor Cousin's philosophy. But happily,

“ There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

Than are dreamed of in your philosophy.” The kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland is the kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, - and France is France, and not Burgundy, and Normandy, and Brittany, and the other provinces, - and the United States are the United States, in spite of logic and philosophy. If the argument were good, the whole world would now be in a condition of original barbarism, in which each family of savages (no, not each family of savages, but each savage, there could be no such thing as a family) lived, and hunted, and fought by itself. The idea of every individual man is quite as selfish, aggressive, hostile, and tyrannical, as that of every nation, — the root of selfishness is inherent in individuality, and grows and flourishes in it as in its natural soil. But in the advance of human nature, the social state springs out of the savage ; society breaks down and subdues the selfishness, the hostility, the tyranny of the single barbarian, and submits them to the authority of law. And out of this system, in process of time, springs up a nation. Who shall prescribe limits to the process of association? Who shall say that nations shall not come to obey the same laws of justice among themselves, which the individuals composing them acknowledge ?

Cousin not only argues that war is necessary, but following out his principle that every nation is the representative of certain opinions and institutions, which he calls “ the idea of a nation,” he undertakes a justification of war, and an exhibition of its benefits, on the ground that the victory brings about “ the predominance of the idea of the conquering nation." But war in general has no such object. Take all the wars, as many as you can recount, from the time when man first raised his hand against his brother, and they had no other object but ambition, revenge, or the gratification of some selfish passion, (with a very few exceptions, and had nothing to do with the predominance of an idea. They had to do with the predominance of men, not ideas. And what palliation shall we undertake to invent for an institution, which has commonly had its origin in the worst motives in princes, and leaders, and which fosters the worst passions in the people; which works by murder and every mortal suffering ; which does not contemplate good as an object; which, in the main, does not produce good, but terrible evil; and which, where good is its aim, might, and ought to be superseded by better means ?

And supposing the purpose of war to be what Cousin represents it, namely, “ the predominance of the idea of a nation ;” (which it certainly is not in most cases ;) and supposing it to be beneficial, and worthy the countenance of a good man; (which it is not;) still war is not the best means of answering this purpose. There are now other and far better means. Whatever it might once have been, it is not now necessary to answer this object. Commerce, mutual, familiar intercourse, such as exists at this day among the civilized nations, the interchange of literature, and public opinion, and the thousand reciprocal national relations of this most favored era, can accomplish this end much more safely and surely, much


more for “ the glory of God, and the relief of man's estate.” Did Great Britain, after she had abolished the slave trade for herself, go to war

with France and Spain and Portugal to compel them to abolish it? And yet that blessed cause is carried, — the predominance of this idea of the British nation over its neighbors is accomplished without a battle, by the peaceful process of negotiation, now most triumphantly successful in similar cases. Apply this fanciful theory of war to the relations which existed two years ago between this country and the French people. Suppose France and the United States had then gone to war upon the causes of quarrel which then existed between them, and France had been victorious, would she have made faithlessness to treaties predominant ? or had the United States prevailed in the contest, would they have made forbearance under injuries and insults predominant? No. War is now recognised among the civilized nations as an institution to be justified and called into use, only as an arbiter of disputes; in a word, as a trial for ascertaining an issue, resulting in no predominance, - and any people, who should now adopt it for the latter purpose, would be put down by all the rest, leagued together in a common cause.

Well may the Mahometan claim the art of war as his agent of predominance, but not a Christian philosopher. Would Cousin recommend to us to exterminate Brahmanism by the sword, and so to establish the predominance of the idea of the Christian nations ? Or to take up arms against Mahometanism, or idol worship, or inhuman and brutalizing rites of religion of any kind ? Would he counsel us to make war against every evil national influence, out of the borders of Christendom, in order to make our civilized creed and arts and institutions predominant ? Our instruments in this work are noiseless, bloodless, yet most mighty reformers, - national intercourse, example, generous competition, and the benevolent ministrations of a gospel of peace. There is no philosophy, no religion, no humanity, no heart, in such a justification of war. It springs from a misapprehension of the spirit of our time, and belongs to the policy of barbarians, and the history of other ages. Our heroism, the heroism of this our period, is in a scientific, an intellectual, a moral, a religious, a manly, a godly warfare. We fight the powers of evil. Our expeditions are fitted out in the love of God, and of his creature, our fellow-man, and led against the armies of Belial, among benighted nations. We send forth our missionary forces, Christian warriors, having on the helmet of salvation, grasping the sword of the spirit, and their feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. We send our Howards to invade the dungeons and prisons where misery and guilt dwell together, to relieve and bless them. Our Parks, Ledyards, Denhams, and Clappertons, our Parrys, Rosses, and Backs, go out to explore new regions of the globe, and new channels for the allpervading course of human enterprise.

And our Franklins, our Davys, our Watts, and our Fultons vanquish the forces of nature, and wrest the elements from their ancient seats. Such is the warfare with which we bring about the predominance of our ideas. These are our heroes. This our chivalry. This our glory. Let other ages boast of their exploits on the field of battle, their victories, their conquests, and send us down embalmed in history, and oratory, and poetry the names of their “man-killers," as Dryden calls heroes. We live in a different age, and for other destinies.

Cousin seems charmed with war, because, as he says, an absence of it is a state of absolute immobility.” Then such is the present state of the Christian world. Profound peace reigns between all the nations. But is immobility the condition of the times ? On the contrary, was it not such, during the almost continual wars of Europe, from the reign of the emperor Charles V. to the fall of Napoleon ? And is it anything but peace which has changed this


immobility to motion, rapid motion, and motion forward? Is there no virtue in the thousand impulses of an intensely active and excited public spirit, in philanthropy, in the communication of opinion and literature, in gaining and getting, and a generous but pacific rivalry among states, to keep the wheels of human affairs from standing stock still, in a state of “ absolute immobility”? Will nothing keep them in motion, but a perennial, rushing stream of human blood ? *

When the application of the magnetic properties of iron to the purposes of navigation was discovered, then its power as an instrument of destruction was on its way to a sure decline and fall. The compass came into use, and the sword ceased to be the efficient agent of national predominance; and commerce assumed its office. This has thrown the affairs of the civilized world into a new orbit, to which war is an antagonist and disturbing force. Attraction is now the law of the nations, where, formerly, it was repulsion; intercourse is now their object, where before it was separation.

Yes. The world is changed. Heaven has vouchsafed to man a new order of events, and a higher aim for his aspirations of social advancement.

Magnus, ab integro, sæclorum nascitur ordo.

Jam redit et virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna. War has ceased to be the employment, it has ceased to be the glory, it has ceased to be the enricher of


* The universal consent of men, learned and unlearned, has spurned the theory of Hobbes, that war is the natural state of

And he is looked upon, for his views in this matter, as a sort of evil genius; and his name, as a philosopher is in reproach. But if the doctrine we have attempted to examine be correct ; if war be necessary; if men cannot be kept from fighting with each other, and it is justifiable that they should fight, and beneficial too, then Hobbes's theory is true. War is the natural state of man. It is in vain to disguise this. If we denounce Hobbes, why do we embrace his doctrine ? If we abjure his sentiments, why are they found nestling in our own bosoms?

« PreviousContinue »