We hear a great deal about the demoralizing effects of the war in the United States
and in the Confederacy
Doubtless this is true to a certain extent.
But, in the main, this war, like all other wars, has simply revealed the native tiger and beast in human nature — not created it. It has, as a French friend of ours used to pronounce the word, "devil-up
" the character of the community.
The men who are now so openly bad, the monsters who are so bloodthirsty, the speculators who are so ravenous, the tyrants who are so cruel, were always bad, ravenous, bloody, and cruel.
The war has simply thrown the broad glare of a policemen's lantern upon midnight prowlers, rogues, and murderers.
It has simply torn the veil from the character of men, and revealed them for the first time to the world, and perhaps to themselves. "Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing?" said Hazael, when the man of God predicted the atrocities he should commit in his future career.
Yet he was a dog though he knew it not, and so the dogs of the present war were always dogs, possessed of all the vile instincts which the war has simply developed and disclosed to their own eyes and those of the world.--They need not charge the war with their demoralization.
The war has only found them out, and made patent the original and inherent corruption of their character.
But, when we talk of the demoralization of the war, has not the war done something the other way?
Has it not revealed good qualities as well as bad, and introduced to the world and to themselves virtuous as well as evil men?
Has it not disclosed in the almost unknown Robert E. Lee
a closer resemblance to George Washington
than we had supposed humanity could ever again furnish?
But for the war, Stonewall Jackson
might have gone to his grave an obscure professor in the Virginia Military Institute, ignorant, in his saintlike humility, of those wonderful qualities which have filled the world with the glory of his name.
And what a host of virtuous and heroic deeds has this war elicited in the citizen soldiery of the South
, deeds which are innumerable as the stars of Heaven, and which would never have been seen but for the darkness that has covered the sky!
Like the ordeal of the last Judgment, the war has separated the wheat from the tares, the sheep from the goats, the just from the unjust, and revealed all men to themselves and to the world in their real character.