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feeding themselves warranted to educate those sons for the business of war, they must have a firm assurance that the moral principles of their nation, or its government, are about to become so transformed, that there shall be, during the lives of their children, no war which shall not, on the part of their country, stand -^within the justifying conditions that we have specified. And let a conscientious parent seriously reflect, whether there be any good cause for entertaining such an assurance. But, unless he has snch an assurance, he gives his son to be shaped and finished, like a sword or bayonet in a Birmingham manufactory, to be employed in deeds of slaughter, righteous or iniquitous, just as may be determined by the persons in power, to whom he must seli his- services unconditionally, and whose determinations tnay probably enough be guided by the most depraved principles; while there is this unfortunate difference betweeu the youth and the sword, that the .youth,-who is thus becoming an instrument of slaughter, cannot still be divested of the accountableness of a moral agent. A melancholy case! that the father should have cairse to deplore the impossibility of his son's being at once an accomplished soldier and an ideo|<— If a. time'shall"come when the nation and its government shall manifest, with any thing like a sufficient security for permanently manifesting, half as much moderation as they nave shewn pride and ambition, and half as decided auattachment to peace as they have shewn violent passion for war, during the last half-century, then the parent's, conscientious scruples may be turned from the general question of the morality of the military employment, to the particular considerations of its probable influence on his son'»cliaracter> and its dangers to his life; that is to say, if all such considerations, and the profession itself, are not by that time set aside by the final cessation of war. In the mean time, conscientious parents nvy- do well to resign the ambition of training sons to martial ijlory, to those fathers—a plentiful •complement — who will laugh at the sickly conscience which scruples to devote a youth to the profession of war, on the ground that the wars in which he shall be employed may be iniquitous.
We are not sure that Mr. Edgeworth would not join in this laugh, as he makes very light of whatever morality has to do in the concern. He'contemplates, with the utmost coolness, not only the possibility that his young hero may be employed in an unjust cause, (in which case he is here recommended to take no responsibility on his conscience, but mind his proper business of killing and slaying), but the certainty that the prescribed education for a military life will powerfully tend to promote.and perpetuate a state of war. He says,
« After quitting his academy, it is scarcely possible that a young man, who has acquired all the knowledge, and caught all the enthusiasm, necessary for his profession, should not ardently wish for war, that he may have opportunities of distinguishing himself. Martial enthusiasm and a hamaDe philosophical love of peace are rncompa'.ible, therefore military pupils should not be made philosophers, or they cease to be soldiers, and how then can we expect to be defended.'' p. 194.
Thus it is plainly asserted, that a rightly conducted military education will inspire its subjects) with an ardent passion against the nation's being at peace. Now let it be considered, that of the numerous youths to be thus educated, and therefore inspired with this passion, a considerable proportion will be sons of the nobility, who form a branch of the legislature, a kind of permanent council to the king; that another .large proportion are from the^families of the prodigious number of executive functionaries of the state, through all their gradations; and that a very numerous supply is from the families of wealth and influence throughout the country; whose direct or collateral relations have seats in the House of Commons :•—let all this be reflected on but five minutes; let it be considered that the younger sons of the nobility, when thus educated, must be provided for at all events, even i£ they were not burning for martial enterprise; that in the descending ranks of family and wealth, who send their re-i presentatives to the House of Commons, the modern habits of living have created certain necessities very powerfully tending to influence the fathers of these young heroes to promote in that House, in person, or hy their friends, such national schemes as will furnish employment for their sons; and that the generous ambition, as it will be called, of these high-spirited young men, always therefore the favourites ana idols of their families and connexions, will probably have no little direct influence on the volitions of their parliamentary relatives. Let any man think of all this influence, acting in reinforcement of that horror of peace which may prevail as much in the government and a great part of the nation another half centifry, as it has prevailed during the last, and say whether there can be any better security for a constant national disposition to a state of war. The nation is to stand,therefore,in this desirable predicament^ that the grand expedient for defending it against enemies-, is to be most exactly calculated to set* it continually on find* ing and making enemies.
Such are the nattrral effects of our author's scheme of mi*, litar^ education, according to bis own statement of its tendency,. on which statement he appears not to have the slightest idea that any one can be so wrong-headed as to found an objection to such an education. It is no business of ours, in, this place^ to enter into a dull and useless discussion whether it be practicable to devise a scheme of education which should qualify young men to be efficient soldiers, whenever duty should appear to summon them to act in that capacity, and should equally, at the same time, cultivate all the moral principles that would inspire a detestation of war. But it is our business as Christian censors and monitors to say, that, if this is not practicable, no parent can educate his son forwar, without a complete virtual abjuration of Christianity; as it is obviously impossible for him at once to be faithful to the laws of an institution which commands every thing gentle,pacific, preventive of strife and suffering, and repressive of ambition, and deliberately to excite in his son an ardent passion for that employment, of which the grand elements are fury, anguish, and destruction. The laws of this institution are fundamental and absolute, forming the primary obligation on all its believers, and reducing all other rules of action to find their place as they can, in due subordination,— or to find no~-place at all. No arguments in favour of this njilitary passion are to be allowed from such topics as national glory, unless it is to be maintained, that Christianity has provided for a s.uspension of its own principles, in favour of that pride and ambition generally implied in this phrase. tAnd if it has made an exception in favour of these, why should it not be equally indulgent to any other depraved feelings connected with 'other kind's :of corrupt interest? that is, why has it an existence, as a moral authority? It had better not exist at all, if it were an institution which enforced gentleness and quietness on mankind, just as if to give the more destructive effect to an exception sanctioning martial madness to harrass and consume them. Truly it would deserve all the contempt which such persons as our author feel for it, if it were a system maintaining itself rigidly obligatory on those whose refined moral sensibility yields to admit the obligation, but not obligatory on those .whose fierce passions disdain its controul; that is, a thing .of which the obligation depends on whether men are willing to acknowledge it or not. »
We have mentioned what is called national glory, as this •is one of the chief idols which men of war are always required to worship, and to which there is hardly any thing in the whole moral system which they will not be justified, by the generality of politicians and moralists in these times, for sacrificing. But national defence is Mr, Edgewortb's immediate plea, in justification of a mode of training which must deprave the moral sentiments of a considerable portion of our youth: * how can we' otherwise, he asks, 'expect to be defended?' We have already said, in reply to this, How can we, at this rate, be ever free from perils, created by pur own foolish disposition to seize or make occasions for war? But we add another question of still graver import,— On the supposition that there is a righteous Governor of the World, how can we expect to be defended, if we industri- rously promote, in the minds of a large and the most active^ proportion of our youth, a spirit which he abominates^ and the national conduct naturally resulting from which he has threatened to visit with punishment? This question, indeed^ it must be acknowledged, can pertinently be addressed only to the 'fanatics;' as we have had extensive opportunity of observing, that the persons so reputed alone shew any real practical recognition of a divine government in speculating on the policy of states. It is to be hoped that all these fanatics will, in Consistency with their faith in such a go* Vernment, beware of soliciting the demon of martial ambition into the minds of their sons; convinced that no possible combination of circumstances under heaven can sanctify a spirit the reverse of their religion, and that, as a general law, a state in danger has just so much the greater cause to despair of being defended, as it prepares its defence in A spirit careless of divine injunctions, and scornful of a reliance on Providence. Till the right spirit shall find its way into nations and governments* it remains to be seen what that Providence. will suffer to be effected among them by that valorous ambition which Mr. E. wishes to inflame, and all the glory of which—except its success, and its efficacy to annihilate national danger—has richly crowned this country during the last half century.
If the question were still urged, But how can a nation be defended? it may be answered at once, that a nation whose piety and justice are approved by heaven, (and how is a nation of an opposite character to have any security of being .defended, whatever be its ostensible meansi) such a nation .may be defended by the divine agency giving efficacy to the operation of such numbers, such military apparatus, and such resources of science, as the purely defensive spirit. would always keep partly prepared, and would soon make ready for action, in an enlightened nation, conscious of haying the most valuable possessions to lose.
Our author's morality appears on the'same level, in the -doctrine that it is not for military men, except those of th'a Tery hfghest rank, to form any judgement of their own on the right or wrong of the cause in which they are to be employed. That is, in the one errjployment which is the most awful on earth, that of inflicting death on human beings in the mass, men are not to consider their actions as of consequence enough for the cognizance of conscience; they may divest themselves of the inconvenience of moral accountable*
"ness, till they return to the solemn functions of buying and selling, and the ordinary proprieties of life. In the civil economy of society, the life of an individual is regarded as of such importance, that it must not be touched without a most grave and punctilious process; witnesses are attested and rigorously examined, juries are sworn and charged, laws are explained, learned judges preside, and aro even allowed, by their office to assume in a certain degree the character of advocates for the accused; and should any one of all these persons concerned, be proved to have acted in the process as a man divested of moral responsibility, his character is blasted for ever. But let an ambitious despot, or a profligate ministry, only give out the word that we must be at war ~p with this or the other nation,—and then a man who has no personal complaint against any living thing of that nation, who may not be certain it has committed any real injury against his own nation or government, nay, who possibly may be convinced by facts against which he cannot shut his eyes, that his own nation or government is substantially in the wrong, then this man, under the sanction of the word war, may, with a conscience entirely unconcerned, immediately go and cut down human beings as he would cut down a copse. It is nothing to him if the people he is to co-operate in attacking are peaceful, free, and happy, and that this very freedom and happiness may have been the cause of the war, by exciting the malignity of the aggressor. The peaceful vallies and hills of Switzerland can be no more sacred in his view, than the borders of the most arrogant and
. malicious rival. The officers who invaded and subdued that, country were, all but the commander in chief, as virtuouslyemployed as those who fell in attempting to defend it. And, admitting that the popular resistance in Spain is really an effort of a long-degradcd people to obtain liberty, the invaders, excepting perhaps the marshal dukes, are as honourably occupied as their opponents; for they are destroying men and desolating the country, under the modest forbearance, enjoined by our moralist, to arrogate to themselves a right of judging of the merits of the cause. And should they receive orders from their superiors to perpetrate the barbarities of Herod, they have only to obey, and exult in their exsmutbu from moral responsibility. The. exemption,