who were far from being peace men, responded heartily to his noble sentiments and his lofty ideal of national grandeur.
Defining war to be ‘a public armed contest between nations in order to establish justice between them, as for instance to determine a disputed boundary line or the title to a territory,’1
he illustrated its character first by the surnames taken from beasts and applied to its heroes in ancient poetry, and then by sketches of sieges and battles, chiefly in French history; showed how rarely it effected any practical benefit, leaving the question at issue, as in our war with England
in 1812, unsettled; referred to the uncertainty of its results, often determined by mere chance; set forth the analogy between war and the trial by battle or judicial combat, which, resorted to in early modern history for determining private disputes, passed away as civilization succeeded barbarism; denied to States rights under the moral law which do not belong to individuals; rebuked the sanctions which the practice of nations, the Christian Church, the code of honor, and mistaken patriotism had given to war; and then dwelt at length on the enormous waste of military preparations, particularly fortifications and standing armies, which he compared with the cost of institutions of justice and education; maintained that such preparations provoke rather than prevent hostilities, whereas a pacific policy, like kindness in the intercourse of men, calls out the generous sentiments of other nations,—according honor to St. Louis
, William Penn
, and other benefactors of mankind who had tested with success this law of human nature; and concluded with an inspiring description of the moral triumphs in which consists the true greatness of nations.
The oration abounded in illustrations drawn from history and literature.
It was everywhere rich in the fruits of culture and in a noble enthusiasm.
Often it glowed with pathos, as in one of its later passages where he spoke of ‘the flowers of gentleness, of kindliness, of fidelity, of humanity,’ which receive unwonted admiration when discerned in war, and paid a tribute to Sir Philip Sidney
for his self-forgetful sacrifice on the battlefield.2
The passage which was most striking at the time, according to the testimony of hearers still living, was the one where, treating