Mike the Mad Biologist

Sunday Sermon: Thomas Bewick on War

Thomas Bewick is best known as the eighteenth century’s premier woodcut engraver and ornithologist. His ornithology books were so well-written that they were popular for a century after his death. However, he was also a passionate political activist, who had seen what war did to his country and his fellow citizens’ liberties. Bewick wrote (italics original; from Nature’s Engraver by Jenny Ungow):

One would think that the gaining of Worlds, would not compensate the misery & horrid waste of human life, which are the certain attendants of War, and one would wonder, what kind of materials men are made of or what kind of minds & souls direct the Authors of it – were they to reflect, it may fairly be concluded, they could not bear their own thoughts & that they would after taking a cool survey of the wretchedness they have occasion’d, go immediately and hang themselves…

All wars, except defensive ones are detestable and if Governments admitted morality into their institutions and were governed by its precepts, all wars, would in all probability grow into disuse & cease – but hitherto that treasure of inestimable value I think has been discarded from their councils – And I cannot discover much difference between them & the lesser Banditti of old – for in the former as well as the latter they were guided by the strong disposition to rob as soon as they thought themselves able successfully to do so & to shew that they thought ‘might was right’.

Dirty Fucking Hippy.