Home > Uncategorized > Sydney Smith: War, hailing official murderers as the greatest and most glorious of human creatures

Sydney Smith: War, hailing official murderers as the greatest and most glorious of human creatures

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

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Rev. Sydney Smith

If three men were to have their legs and arms broken, and were to remain all night exposed to the inclemency of weather, the whole country would be in a state of the most dreadful agitation. Look at the wholesale death of a field of battle, ten acres covered with dead, and half dead, and dying; and the shrieks and agonies of many thousands human beings. There is more of misery inflicted upon mankind by one year of war, than by all the civil peculations and oppressions of a century. Yet it is a state into which the mass of mankind rush with the greatest of avidity, hailing official murderers, in scarlet, gold and cocks’ feathers, as the greatest and most glorious of human creatures. It is the business of every wise and good man to set himself against this passion for military glory, which really seems to be the most fruitful source of human misery.

What would be said of a party of gentlemen who were to sit very peaceably conversing for half an hour, then were to fight for another half hour, then shake hands, and at the expiration of thirty minutes fight again? Yet such has been the state of the world between 1714 and 1815, a period in which there was in England as many years of war as peace. Societies have been instituted for the preservation of peace, and for lessening the popular love of war. They deserve every encouragement…

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