Home > Uncategorized > Nathaniel Hawthorne: Did iron-hearted War itself ever do so hard and cruel a thing as this before?

Nathaniel Hawthorne: Did iron-hearted War itself ever do so hard and cruel a thing as this before?

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

American writers on peace and against war

Nathaniel Hawthorne: Selections on war

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Nathaniel Hawthorne
From Grandfather’s Chair

Among all the events of the old French War, Grandfather thought that there was none more interesting than the removal of the inhabitants of Acadia. From the first settlement of this ancient province of the French, in 1604, until the present time, its people could scarcely ever know what kingdom held dominion over them. They were a peaceful race, taking no delight in warfare, and caring nothing for military renown. And yet, in every war, their region was infested with iron-hearted soldiers, both French and English, who fought one another for the privilege of ill-treating these poor, harmless Acadians. Sometimes the treaty of peace made them subjects of one king, sometimes of another.

The Acadians were about seven thousand in number. A considerable part of them were made prisoners, and transported to the English colonies. All their dwellings and churches were burned, their cattle were killed, and the whole country was laid waste, so that none of them might find shelter or food in their old homes after the departure of the English.

“If such an incident did happen, Shirley, reflecting what a ruin of peaceful and humble hopes had been wrought by the cold policy of the statesman and the iron band of the warrior, might have drawn a deep moral from it. It should have taught him that the poor man’s hearth is sacred, and that armies and nations have no right to violate it. It should have made him feel that England’s triumph and increased dominion could not compensate to mankind nor atone to Heaven for the ashes of a single Acadian cottage. But it is not thus that statesmen and warriors moralize.”

“Grandfather,” cried Laurence, with emotion trembling in his voice, “did iron-hearted War itself ever do so hard and cruel a thing as this before?”

“You have read in history, Laurence, of whole regions wantonly laid waste,” said Grandfather….

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