WAR, horrible war, is upon us. The match is ignited, the combustible passions are being enkindled, and who can tell how great a fire may result;—how destructive, how costly in blood and treasure? It is lamentable indeed that such horrors should be practically unavoidable; yes, really incidentals to our civilization. Except for a great advance in civilization, the present war would not be waged.
League wars, where nations fought for each other because of treaty covenants (hoping for similar favors in return) have been known; religious wars for the aid of co-religionists have been known; race wars, where bonds of blood led one nation to fight for another, have been known; wars of jealousy and pride have been known; wars for freedom have been frequent; wars for conquest and plunder have been many: but never before, so far as we are informed, has there ever been a war like the present one—a benevolent war; a war for the oppressed; a war for the poor and starving; a war for a different race, of a different tongue and of a different religion; a war for a people who can never repay—neither in money, influence, trade nor otherwise. The masses of the people of these United States are far enough from being saints; far enough from having perfect love rule their every thought and word and deed; far enough from fully conquering inborn selfishness; but for them as a people, and for their British cousins, the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ has done far more than for any other peoples in the world. If it has not given them love, it has given them the sheen or reflection of love—"the milk of human kindness," sympathy.
Spain cries, Robbers! Thieves! Hypocrites! You want to steal my possessions and merely make a pretense of sympathy for my rebels! All Europe shouts the same, denouncing the war as perfidious, a disgrace to modern civilization—national piracy, national highway robbery.
And no doubt these charges are honestly made; that is, they are believed to be true; they reflect the real judgment of Spain and of Europe. Controlled only by motives of pride and selfishness themselves, they cannot conceive of others being influenced by so much nobler motives. And in the United States quite a minority who have no conscientious scruples against war complain bitterly, because "It won't pay." Verily, if the parable of Dives and Lazarus were to be adapted to present times and affairs between nations, it would be incomplete, unless the dogs ate Lazarus, while Dives would refuse all succor because Lazarus could not pay him for it.
If the suggestion of generous motives on the part of the United States should be even glimmeringly seen by Europeans, it would be repulsed; because it would be a reflection upon United Europe's conduct of a year ago in the matter of poor Armenia—united to them by ties of blood and religion, as against him whom they term "the unspeakable Turk." Nor will anyone acquainted with the spirit of the Americans doubt that, had they lived where Austria lives, or where Russia lives, much more than a cup of cold water would have been promptly extended to poor Armenia.
We did not advocate the war. We cannot take part in it; for we are aliens. We belong to the Loyal Legion of the Great King, whose Kingdom is not of this age, and whose soldiers must not fight with carnal weapons. But we want to be able to appreciate the motives of our fellow-creatures when they are noble and good, as in this instance. We should sympathize with every effort for righteousness and the uplift of humanity, even tho we can render our service only to [R2298 : page 132] our Captain in the warfare which we esteem to be still more important than any other.
Where the matter will end, none but the great King, the Captain of our salvation, knows. Peace may suddenly be ushered in by some suggestion of compromise, or the war with its frightful horrors may continue for months or even years—our expectation is that it will not be very prolonged. We do not consider it any part of the final struggle. The following clipping from the Pittsburg Gazette will be interesting:—
"Not that they love Spain more, but the United States less, the sympathies of the European countries are generally with Spain in the present crisis, and there is little reason to doubt that if they could have secured the cooperation of Great Britain the evidence of such sympathy would have found stronger manifestation ere this than in the weak and well nigh meaningless joint note presented to this government a few weeks ago by their ministers at Washington. By reason of the blood relationship between the rulers of Austria and Spain the sympathy referred to has been less concealed in Austria than in other European countries. One Austrian, prominent in scholastic and political matters in that country, is quoted as saying that 'the sympathies of Europe for Spain don't express admiration for her colonial administration, but are rather the instinctive expressions of the presentment that the victory of America will be the beginning of the Americanizing of European institutions.' It is further complained that 'already the republics of America have fallen under the influence of the United States.' In view of the issues involved in these and kindred arguments, surprise is manifested, not to say impatience and disgust, that Great Britain should seem disposed to take its place with the United States in what might develop into a world alignment of the forces of militarism and royalty on the one hand and of republican institutions on the other. It is not approval of Spain nor fear of territorial conquests by the United States that causes now the poorly concealed European sympathy for Spain, but fear of a greater working in the old world of the leaven of republics. Tho it may not be, and probably will not be, it is nevertheless possible that the impending hostilities may widen into a greater conflict than war between Spain and the United States."
The opposition here noted seems to grow daily, rather than to diminish. Not only do the monarchies of Europe begrudge the Great Republic its successes and prosperity, but the Mexicans and peoples of the Central and South American republics are jealous. They fear that we may eventually develop a rapacity and land hunger similar to that of the great nations of Europe, and that then they would be swallowed up. Moreover, they were mostly settled by Spaniards and their cousins, the Portuguese; and tho they fought and won their independence as the United States did from Great Britain, yet they still feel the ties of blood and of language and of religion. Stranger things have happened, than that they should lend their aid to the Mother country, if they saw her being worsted. They know little of love or sympathy for the oppressed: they do know pride; and it is already leading to subscriptions of money for Spain.
Moreover, the comments of the newspapers of Great Britain favorable to the United States, suggesting that the British could never stand idly by and see the United States crushed, and advocating an offensive and defensive treaty between the countries, laid great stress upon the ties of Anglo-Saxon blood between the nations. And this has stirred the pride of the Latin races, especially the French, and their journals now announce that France could never lie passive and see Spain crushed—for they are of the same blood and of the same religion. And the latest news is that the French fleet is being put into readiness for action.
How comforting and heart assuring to be able to look by faith to our Lord and Master and to realize that he is at the helm; not only to supervise particularly the affairs and interests of his consecrated saints, but also in a more general way to guide the nations and their affairs so as to humble them all and dash them all in pieces as a potter's vessel in the great time of trouble by which his better Kingdom will be introduced. The more the billows near us roll, the more let us hold to our anchorage within the vail.
Royalty is no longer above criticism even in Spain. The spirit of liberty there finds ability to reason and to note the selfishness of rulers. In proof we quote a comment on the queen's recent speech before the Cortes, urging the retention of Cuba as a part of her son's patrimony, at any cost. It is from the Madrid newspaper, El Nacional.
"On reading the words of your majesty we cannot hide from our queen the fact that they fill us with profound sadness. Your majesty says nothing of the employment that has been given our 200,000 sons hurried away from productive work in order to fight for the fatherland, and the king, his majesty; and makes no mention of the 2,000,000 pesetas, earned by the sweat of our brow, which we contributed to preserve intact our honor. You say nothing about the matter in which gold and blood have changed places, nor how the gold and blood are to be regained. We can understand, madam, that in your august heart a large place is occupied by your son, our king, but for a similar reason, your majesty will understand that in our soul there predominates a deep anxiety for our 200,000 sons, your subjects. Your majesty speaks to us only of what is yours. It constitutes an enthusiastic hymn to motherly love. Athwart this speech, madam, we see a mother bending over a cradle, but we seek in vain for a queen bending over a tomb, which appears [R2299 : page 133] to open to receive an ill-starred nation. Still, with that nobility of soul that has enabled us to bestow a name and character upon Spain, we receive your request and have no objection to protect the throne of yourself and the king, in remembrance of that other king, your consort, whose memory, as we have noted with much pain, was not mentioned yesterday from your august lips. But now let us speak of ourselves, because if we perish will not ruin overtake your son? If we be dishonored by ignominious defeat, will not your throne be soiled by the mud in which we are buried?"
Would that we could see such loyalty to the true King and Kingdom by the Spaniards and all nations. No Christian heart can do otherwise than sympathize with these sorrowing people who prefer to bury all their sons and all their wealth, rather than mortify and bury their pride.