« PoprzedniaDalej »
are dragged unwillingly from their peaceful homes into the field of battle. A soldier is a man whose business it is to kill those who never offended him, and who are the innocent martyrs of other men's iniquities. Whatever may become of the abstract question of the j ustifiableness of war, it seems impossible that the soldier should not be a depraved and unnatural being.
To these more serious and momentous considerations it may be proper to add a recollection of the ridiculousness of the military character. Its first constituent is obedience: a soldier is, of all descriptions of men, the most completely a machine; yet his profession inevitably teaches him something of dogmatism, swaggering, and self-consequence; he is like the puppet of a showman, who, at the very time he is made to strut and swell and display the most farcical airs, we perfectly know cannot assume the most insignificant gesture, advance either to the right or the left, but as he is moved by his exhibitor.—Godwin's Enquirer, Essay v.
I will here subjoin a little poem, so strongly expressive of my abhorrence of despotism and falsehood, that I fear lest it never again may be depictured so vividly. This opportunity is perhaps the only one that ever will occur of rescuing it from oblivion.
FALSEHOOD AND VICE.
Whilst monarchs laughed upon their thrones
Red with mankind's unheeded gore.
Mingling with shrieks a drunken roar, There vice and falsehood took their stand, High raised above the unhappy land.
Brother! arise from the dainty fare,
A finer feast for thine hungry ear
And, secret one, what hast thou done,
I, whose career, through the blasted year,
What have I done! I have torn the robe
From baby Truth's unsheltered form,
And round the desolated globe
My tyrant-slaves to a dungeon-floor
And streams of fertilizing gore
I dread that blood!—no more—this day
Is ours, though her eternal ray
Yet know, proud Vice, had I not given
To thee the robe I stole from heaven,
Thy shape of ugliness and fear
Had never gained admission here.
And know, that had I disdained to toil,
But sate in my loathsome cave the while,
And ne'er to these hateful sons of heaven,
GOLD, MONARCHY, and MURDER given?
Hadst thou with all thine art essayed
One of thy games then to have played,
With all thine overweening boast,
Falsehood t I tell thee thou hadst lost:—
Yet wherefore this dispute ?—we tend,
Fraternal to one common end:
In this cold grave, beneath my feet,
Will our hopes, our fears, and our labours meet.
I brought my daughter, RELIGION, on earth; She smothered Reason's babes in their birth;
But dreaded their mother's eye severe,—
And loosed her bloodhounds from the den
They started from dreams of slaughtered men,
And by the light of her poison eye,
Did her work o'er the wide earth frightfully;
The dreadful stench of her torches flare,
Fed with human fat, polluted the air!
The curses, the shrieks, the ceaseless cries
Of the many-mingling miseries,
As on she trod, ascended high
And trumpeted my victory!—
Brother, tell what thou hast done.
I have extinguished the noon-day sun,
With the seal of her security
For the bloated wretch on yonder throne
Commanded the bloody fray to rise: Like me he joyed at the stifled moan
Wrung from a nation's miseries; While the snakes, whose slime even him defiled. In ecstasies of malice smiled: They thought 'twas theirs,—but mine the deed! Theirs is the toil, but mine the meed, Ten thousand victims madly bleed. They dream that tyrants goad them there With poisonous war to taint the air:
These tyrants on their beds of thorn,
Restless they plan from night to morn:
Brother, well:—the world is ours;
The pestilence expectant lowers
On all beneath yon blasted sun.
V. Page 35.
Thus do the generations of the earth
Go to the grave, and issue from the womb.
One generation passeth away and another generation cometh, but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth toward the south and turneth about unto the north, it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again, according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; unto the place whence the rivers come, thither shall they return again.
Ecclesiastes, chap. i.
V. Page 35.
Even as the leaves
Like leaves on trees the race of man is found,
Now green in youth now withering on the ground \
Another race the following spring supplies;
They fall successive, and successive rise:
So generations in their course decay;
So flourish these, when those are past away.
V. Page 36.
The mob of peasants, nobles, priests, and kings.
When the wide ocean maddening whirlwinds sweep,
And heave the billows of the boiling deep,
Pleased we from land the reeling bark survey,
And rolling mountains of the watery way.
Not that we joy another's woes to see,
But to reflect that we ourselves are free.
So, the dread battle ranged in distant fields,
Ourselves secure, a secret pleasure yields.
But what more charming than to gain the height
Of true philosophy 1 What pure delight
From Wisdom's citadel to view below,
Deluded mortals, as they wandering go
In quest of happiness! ah, blindly weak!
For fame, for vain nobility they seek;
Labour for heapy treasures, night and day,
And pant for power and magisterial sway.
Oh, wretched mortals! souls devoid of light, Lost in the shades of intellectual night!
Dr. Busby's Lucretius.
V. Page 37.
And statesmen boast
There is no real wealth but the labour of man. Were the mountains of gold, and the valleys of silver, the world would not be one grain of corn the richer; no one comfort would be added to the human race. In consequence of our consideration for the precious metals, one man is enabled to heap to himself luxuries at the expense of the necessaries of his neighbour; a system admirably fitted to produce all the varieties of disease and crime, which never fail to characterize the two extremes of opulence and penury. A speculator takes pride to himself as the promoter of his country's prosperity, who employs a number of hands in the manufacture of articles avowedly destitute of use, or subservient only to the unhallowed cravings of luxury and ostentation. The nobleman, who employs the peasants of his neighbourhood in building his palaces, until "jam pauca aratro jugera