Friday, January 10, 2014

Wisdom About War: William Wilberforce 1803

William Wilberforce, a member of the British Parliament best known for his tireless work in abolishing the slave trade, wrote the following in opposition to England's participation in the Napoleonic Wars in a letter to a Captain Bedford in November 5, 1803:

"It is much to be regretted that, from pride and other similar passions, nations are always forward to rush into wars, though the bulk of a people soon begin to repent of them and to wish for the termination of hostilities. Ministers of state, on the contrary, are really less prone to get into wars; but when a country is once plunged into them, they are drawn forward by their own schemes; they flatter themselves that they shall by this measure and that, weaken the power of the enemy; and forgetting that the expenditure of blood and treasure is always going on, they seldom are disposed to leave off till they are forced to it. Often also they are afraid lest a less honorable peace than the sanguine expectations of men led them to hope might be obtained, should disgrace their character, and fix on them an imputation of pusillanimity or weakness. They should remember more than they do, that it is the bulk of the people who suffer the evils of war, but that they reap little advantage from its most successful prosecution."

from Wilberforce & Wilberforce, The Life of William Wilberforce, volume III, p. 140
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