*Reprinted, by permission, from The North American Review of December, 1891; where it appeared under the misleading caption of: "The Benefits of War."
War is one of the great agencies by which human progress is effected.
Scourge though it be, and much as its practice is to be deplored, we must still recognize war as the operation of the economic laws of nature for the government of the human family. It stimulates national growth, solves otherwise insoluble problems of domestic and political economy, and purges a nation of its humors. According to an ancient proverb, Purgamenta hujus mundi sunt tria, pestis, bellum, et frateria.
War is the malady of nations; the disease is terrible while it lasts, but purifying in its results. It tries a nation and chastens it, as sickness or adversity tries and chastens the individual. There is a wisdom that comes only of suffering, whether to the family or to the aggregation of families—the nation. Man is perfected through suffering.
What is true of the average individual is true of the mass of individuals—the people.