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A somewhat similar disadvantage in respect of advancement in virtue, at least, would attend any community whose institutions were such as tended to arm against the laws large bodies of such persons, as were not, in the outset, destitute of all moral principle, but whose mode of life was a fit training to make them become so. Such are poachers and smugglers. An excessive multiplication of the latter class is produced by the enactment of laws, whose object is, not revenue, but the exclusion of foreign productions, for the supposed benefit of domestic industry. Whatever may be thought of the expediency of those laws with a view to national wealth, all must agree that the extension of smuggling must produce the most demoralizing effects.
'They enter not upon wars but upon some at least specious
It is a very curious fact, that, throughout great part of the world, England has a bad name for perfidy, and for grasping ambition; while, in truth, it is probably the only great nation that ever was free from ambition; and is pre-eminent for good faith. Territorial aggrandizement has often been avoided by us, when there would have been a plausible plea for it; and so far from being [as by most States] welcomed with exultation, even when unjust, is regarded by the English Public as needing apology, even when it is in a manner forced upon us by circumstances.
Yet Napoleon the Great never ceased to declaim against the perfidious arts, and the insatiable cupidity of England. He could hardly have said more, if an English King had, in time of peace, entrapped, under pretext of friendship, a King of Spain, and sent an army to place his own brother on the throne: or if he had kidnapped a multitude of harmless non-belligerent French travellers who had entered his territory in time of peace. And if this had been done, the English King would not have found so many admirers and sympathisers in France, as Napoleon found in England.
The chief cause, probably, of the injustice done to our national character, is, the freedom of the Press, and of speech, beyond what exists in most other countries, and of which our political partisans so largely avail themselves, in the use of such language respecting their opponents as would hardly be tolerated else
where. Whatever political Party may chance to be in power, some members of the Opposition generally represent the Ministry as a set of the most unprincipled statesmen that ever existed Now on the Continent the English Government,—that is, the Ministry for the time being,—is considered as the Nation, And those who are predisposed, through envy, to think ill of the English Nation, have only to adopt the representations which Englishmen themselves—that is, those in Opposition—give of the existing Government.
'Howsoever it be for happiness, without all question, for greatness, it makvth to be still for the most part in arms'
It is consolatory to think that no one would now venture to write, as Bacon does, about wars of aggrandizement. But it was the doctrine of his day; and of times not only much earlier, but also much later than his; for the same sentiments are to I* found in authors near two centuries after Bacon. Indeed we read in a Work of the present Generation, that 'War is the condition of this World. From Man to the smallest insect all are at strife; and the glory of arms, which cannot be obtained without the exercise of honour, fortitude, courage, obedience, modesty, and temperance,1 excites the brave man's patriotism, and is a chastening corrective for the rich man's pride.' But probably no non-military Writer, and very few> even of the Military, would now speak in such a tone.
True it is, Men are still bad enough in practice; but the theory must come first; and we may hope the practice will follow in time. It is certain that the folly as well as the wickedness of wars of aggrandizement is much better understood, and more freely acknowledged, than even fifty years back. And to the shame of Christians, it must be admitted that the more correct discernment of the costliness and consequent inexpediency of even a successful war of conquest—which are every day becoming better understood—operates more in making men pause before they enter into a war, than motives of humanity.
1 It is remarkable that the same author has, in the very same Work, cited passages from letters of Sir Arthur Wellesley (afterwards Duke of Wellington), iiatt-2 in May, 1809, complaining of the Army as 'a rabble who eaunot hear saws- 'jt failure; behaving terribly ill; and plundering the country uioot terribly.'
The much agitated questions as to the allowableness of defensive war, need not be here discussed. The reader is referred to the Lessons on Morals (L. 14, § ,5), where it is pointed out that those who hold the principle of complete non-resistance, cannot consistently resort to the law to enforce payment of a debt, or to obtain protection of any kind; since it is manifest that the law rests ultimately on the appeal to physical force.
As to the general question concerning the right of selfdefence, it would evidently become a merely speculative one, and not at all practical, if all States, and all individuals, would abstain from aggression; since, then there would be no outrages to repel. But as it is, every State, and every individual, that does abstain from all aggression, is so much gained to the cause of humanity.
If, however, the principle of non-resistance were adopted by some States, and not by all, this would give up the peaceable to be subjugated by an ambitious and unscrupulous neighbour. And, moreover, they' would not even enjoy peace after all. For, the conqueror would doubtless seek to recruit his armies for fresh conquests, from the subjugated nations. And though the adults might steadily refuse to fight for him, and prefer torture or death, he would probably take the finest of their male children to be trained in military seminaries; as was formerly done by the Turks to their christian subjects; whose children formed the original corps of Janissaries: so that the non-resisting people would have to see two or three hundred thousand of their finest youths serving in the wars of an ambitious conqueror.
It is important however to observe that whatever can be urged in vindication of bearing arms, is applicable only to the case of a man serving his own country; not, of one who enlists in a foreign army; however just—for them—may be the war they are engaged in. This practice, though countenanced, unhappily, by some persons who are accounted respectable, is surely quite unjustifiable on christian principles. If one who has deliberately gone about to take the lives of men with whom his country was not at war, should be tried—as there seems good reason he should be,—for Murder, he could not fairly plead the sanction or command of foreign rulers, who had no right over him, and under whom he has placed himself by his own voluntary act, for the express purpose of fighting their battles. Any one indeed who settles in a foreign country, and becomes a citizen of it, has the rights and the duties of a boracitizen: but not so, one who enlists as a soldier, in foreign service.
What used to mislead men, and still misleads not a few, as to the costliness of war, and the check it gives to national prosperity is, that they see the expenditure go to our own fellow-subjects. We pay a great deal, it is true, out of the public purse, to soldiers; but then it is our soldiers, the Queen's subjects, that get it. Powder, and guns, and ships of war, cost a great deal; but this cost is a gain to the manufacturers of powder and guns, &c. And thus people brought themselves to fancy that the country altogether did not sustain any loss at all. This very doctrine is distinctly maintained by Coleridge, in his periodical, The Friend, within the present century. He censures very strongly some who had bewailed a 'few millions' of war-expenditure, and who had pointed out how many roads might have been made, and fens drained, and other beneficial works accomplished with this money. Coleridge contends against this that the country had not lost it at all, since it was all spent on our own people; and he parallels it with such cases as that of a man losing money at cards to his own wife, or transferring it from one pocket to another. He was extremely fond of discussing what are really questions of political economy (though the name of it he disliked), and in which he almost always went wrong.
Of course, if a heavy expenditure is incurred in armaments, when necessary for the defence of our just rights, this is not to be accounted a waste, any more than the cost of bolts and locks to keep out thieves. But the argument of Coleridge does not at all look to any such necessity, but would equally hold good if the money had been expended in gunpowder to be exploded in fire-works, or in paying soldiers for amusing us with sham fights, or for playing cricket . For, in that case also, the expenditure would have gone to our own people equally.
The fallacy consists in not perceiving that, though the labour of the gunpowder-makers, soldiers, &c., is not unproductive to tltem, inasmuch as they are paid for it, it is unproductive to uf, as it leaves no valuable results. If gunpowder is employed in blasting rocks, so as to open a rich vein of ore or coal, or to make a useful road, the manufacturer gets his payment for it just the same as if it had been made into fire-works; but then, the mine, or the road, will remain as an article of wealth to him who has so employed it. After having paid for the powder, he will still be richer than he was before; whereas, if he had employed it for fire-works, he would have been so much the poorer, since it would have left no results.
When, however, war-expenditure does result in the conquest of some territory, and this territory brings in some tribute, or other profit beyond the cost of conquering it and keeping it in subjection—which is not often the case,—then, it must be admitted—waiving all considerations of justice and humanity— that something has been gained. But the revenue thus wrested from a subjugated country must evidently impoverish the one party as much (at least) as it enriches the other. The people of the conquered territory have to pay for being ill-governed; and their increase in prosperity is checked; while the greater part of what is taken from them goes to pay the garrisons that keep them in submission.
On the other hand, the revenue derived from other lands by commerce, enriches both parties; since the exchange of a cargo of hardware, for instance, for a cargo of silks, implies that the one who parts with the silk for the hardware, finds the latter the more valuable to him; and vice versa. And thus both advance in prosperity.
From all the extensive provinces which the Romans held under their sway, the English, without holding them in subjection at all, derive many times the revenue that the Romans did; since our commerce with them has caused them to advance and to go on still advancing in prosperity.
If the Czar had spent half what he has spent in encroaching on his neighbours, in making roads, and draining marshes, and in other ways improving his own soil, he would have had much more of the true 'greatness of empire,' and a greatness far less likely to be overthrown by other States. For, as a general rule, States are not exempt from the influences of the same causes which, in the affairs of individuals, produce good or bad success. That the general tendency of each particular virtue