صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

a greatly increased sum. And this they are less able to do than they would otherwise be, in consequence of the direct destruction of their property, the devastation of their lands, and particularly the interruption of commerce and other civic pursuits by reason of a state of war. Scarcely able to support their families, and utterly unable to obtain for them many things exceedingly desirable for their convenience, and especially for their intellectual and moral improvement, they nevertheless find it impossible to evade the demands of the taxgatherer, which are multiplied upon them in every shape. Their lands are taxed, their houses are taxed, their cattle are taxed, their persons are taxed, their clothing is taxed, their bread and salt and tea are taxed, the very light of heaven in the shape of an impost on windows is taxed; indeed, it is not easy to mention anything, which is free not merely from taxation, but from excessive taxation.

This is no exaggeration. A writer in the Edinburgh Review for January of 1820 undertakes to designate to Americans the inevitable consequences of being too fond of glory. And what are these inevitable consequences ? "Taxes upon every article, which enters, into the mouth or covers the back, or is placed under the foot-taxes upon every thing which it is pleasant to see, hear, feel, smell, or taste-taxes upon warmth, light, and locomotion-taxes on every thing on earth, and the waters under the earth-on every thing that comes from abroad or is grown at home-taxes on the raw material-taxes on every fresh value that is added to it by the industry of man-taxes on the sauce which pampers man's appetite, and the drug that restores him to health-on the ermine which decorates the judge, and the rope which hangs the criminal-on the poor man's salt, and the rich man's spice-on the brass nails of the coffin, and the

ribands of the bride-at bed or board, couchant or levant we must pay :-The schoolboy whips his taxed top-the beardless youth manages his taxed horse, with a taxed bridle on a taxed road :—and the dying Englishman pouring his medicine, which has paid 7 per cent., into a spoon that has paid 15 per cent.-flings himself back upon his chintz bed which has paid 22 per cent.-makes his will on an eight pound stamp, and expires in the arms of an apothecary who has paid a license of an hundred pounds for the privilege of putting him to death. His whole property is then immediately taxed from 2 to 10 per cent. Besides the probate, large fees are demanded for burying him in the chancel; his virtues are handed down to posterity on taxed marble; and he is then gathered to his fathers,-to be taxed no more."

Now what hope is there of competency and happiness, or even of a tolerable degree of comfort, for a man, in the common ranks of life, surrounded by the wants of a rising family, if the little he earns is to be thus plucked from his hands!

It is individuals, that constitute the nation; and if the resources of individuals are diminished, those of the nation are diminished also. There is no fallacy more dangerous and perhaps none more frequently committed, than to separate between the nation and the citizens of the nation. If the people are in mourning, if their fields and vineyards are desolate, if their children are slain on the field of battle, or prisoners in foreign lands, no magic of illuminations, of monumental piles, and of triumphal processions will make such a nation happy. Rachel will still mourn for her children, and refuse to be comforted. And here, as we have already had occasion to intimate, is the great source of mistake and illusion; we look at things in the aggregate, and do not contemplate them in


their elements; we behold the whited sepulchre of national glory, and do not look at the death and horror within. The situation of the great mass of the people, who are the real constitutors and essence of the nation, is wholly overlooked by the promoters and advocates of The leaders of the nation, too rich and too elevated to feel the effects of the storm, which must smite somewhere with unmitigated fury, contemplate the splendor of their armies and the proud banners of their floating military castles, and consider themselves increased in goods and glory, while the condition of the great body of citizens, for whom in particular government was instituted, is one of disappointment, poverty, and wretchedness. The vast majority of the community, in those nations that have plunged deeply into the practice of war, are compelled to drag on their days without comfort for the present, and with as little hope for the future. Peace is banished from their firesides and joy from their hearts and light from their countenances, because their time and strength and substance, to say nothing of the blood frequently poured out by the members of their own families, are invaded and exacted to support a vicious and idle multitude, whose business it is to consume and destroy without producing. These are the legitimate fruits of war; these are the evils flowing from a violation of the laws of God and nature by shedding a brother's blood; these are the results to the miserable people, while kings and military chieftains and rulers of every grade are either indifferent to their condition, or rioting in their own abundance make an open mockery of their wretchedness.



IN adverting to the evils of war, and in endeavoring to impress them upon the mind of the reader, it is important to take into account its unpropitious influence on what may be termed in a single word CIVILIZATION. The leading elements of a truly and highly civilized state of society are various, such as agriculture, the useful arts, the liberal or polite arts, literature, the domestic relations and duties, civil and religious institutions, &c. If we had it in our power to examine at some length each of these elements separately, we could not fail, with the utmost distinctness, to perceive the deleterious influence of war on that complex civilization, of which in a great degree they constitute the parts. Instead, however, of that minute examination of the subject, which would perhaps be desirable, we shall be obliged to leave it with the reader with a few suggestions, made as briefly as possible.

I,―The cultivation of the soil, if we look at the subject with candour and with a suitable regard to all its relations, will justly be esteemed an indispensable element of civilization. As men rise in the scale of being, as they more and more bring themselves under the influence of just and benevolent principles, the earth itself, as if conscious of so propitious a change, will begin to

put forth, and to bloom more beautifully. But war always throws cultivation back; the soldier is called from his plough, and the vine of his cottage droops till his return. But this is not all; whole provinces have been laid waste at once; houses, lands, cornfields, vineyards, all at once, as if by an overflow of lava or a blast of the sirocco. It would not be difficult to adduce instances and facts, that would fill volumes. What was the result of the eruptions of the Huns and Vandals into Italy in this respect, as well as in others? Before that time, historians inform us, that this beautiful country was cultivated to the highest pitch; but afterwards large tracts of land, not naturally barren or of little value, were covered with forests and marshes of vast extent. * Repeatedly, in the course of European wars, has the whole Palatinate been laid waste; not merely cities, but villages, country-seats, cottages, fields, gardens, every thing. The Ukraine during the last century was laid waste, in the same savage manner, by Catherine of Russia. Almost the whole of La Vendee, thickly peopled as it was with an industrious and rural population, and every where bearing the marks of a high state of culture, was subjected during the French Revolution, to a most horrid and complete devastation. The devastation of the Peninsula by the armies of Napoleon was almost as great. "Affecting traces, (says a writer who was there at the time,) of the invasion of this smiling country were every where to be seen. Cottages all roofless and untenanted, the unpruned vine, growing in rank luxuriance over their ruined walls, gardens, the shells of fine houses destroyed by fire, * * * * * * all proclaimed, silently, but forcibly, that I was travelling through a country, which had been the theatre of war."

Robertson's Charles V, Historical Illustrations, Note V. + Recollections of the Peninsula, Phil. Ed. p. 185.

« السابقةمتابعة »