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THE DEBATE R.
Which is of the greatest benefit to his country
the Warrior, the Statesman, or the Poet ?
FIRST SPEAKER. — Sir, The question which I have undertaken to open, is, I think, one of considerable importance and interest. We are to be called upon to say — Which is of the greatest benefit to his country, the Warrior, the Statesman, or the Poet ? The Warrior is the man who directs the physical strength of his nation : the man who fights its battles, repulses its invaders, holds discontent in check, and defends its rights at the hazard of his life: the Statesman is the man who governs the mental force of his nation; who by his keen intellect devises laws, avoids evils, secures social order, and controls the wild elements of popular feeling: and the Poet is
the man who guides the moral power of his nation: who teaches it truth, arouses it to goodness, and impresses it with beauty. Yes, it is important to judge between these three: to know which is the noblest kind of power; to discern the highest sort of greatness. For our conduct depends in no small measure upon our opinions, and according to the idea that we form of greatness shall we endeavour to be great. Moreover, the question is a difficult one. Much thought is necessary to elucidate it, and much insight to determine it with truth. It is like judging between the different members of the body. For the Warrior is the arm, the Statesman the head, and the Poet the heart, of the community: and jnst as it is difficult to choose between the members of the body physical, so is it difficult to choose between the members of the body politic. I shall wait, Sir, to hear the sentiments of others before I decide, and for the present shall content myself with this simple introduction of the question, trusting that it will receive that full discussion which it merits.
SECOND SPEAKER. - Sir, I quite agree with the opener that he has presented us with a difficult subject for debate. And, I think, with all submission, that he has increased the difficulty by the selection of these particular characters.
For I cannot believe that they are the best representatives that he could have found, of the different kinds of force between which he calls on us to choose. Granting that the Soldier fairly represents the physical strength of his nation, might we not say with justice that the Philosopher is a completer type of its mind than the Statesman, and the Divine a fairer emblem of its moral power than the Poet? To make the question more debateable, however, without materially altering the opener's words, would it not be better to ask – Which is of the greatest benefit to his country, the Warrior, tile wise Statesman, or the Christian Poet?
OPENER.-- Sir, I have no objection at all to the question being understood as the last speaker wishes : though I think the distinction he has drawn is hardly necessary. In a certain sense the Statesman is the Philosopher, and the Poet is the Divine. The Statesman represents Philosophy, inasmuch as he sways by mental strength ; and the Poet represents the Divine, inasmuch as he is an Apostle of Eternal Truth, and a preacher to the soul. I avoided the terms “ Philosopher” and “ Divine” in my question, because I know that the words are very often misused, and because I feared that instead of a calm and temperate debate, we should be led into a wide
field of disputed science and theological controversy. I think, Sir, that after this explanation the discussion may be safely allowed to flow in the channel which I originally opened for it.
SECOND SPEAKER (in continuation). — I am quite satisfied, Sir, with the remarks of my friend, and shall proceed to consider the question as he proposed it. We are to judge, then, between the Warrior, the Statesman, and the Poet: and the result of my brief reflections leads me to speak in favour of the first. I do not mean to deny the great value of the Statesman, nor do I forget the important mission of the Poet; but it certainly seems to me that the Warrior does more for his nation than either of the others. To him we owe the national safety, and that sense of security which developes all our best wisdom and energy. The fame of his valour, and the prestige that attaches to his name, preserve his country from attack; or if it is attacked, tend to secure for it victory and honour. By a beautiful arrangement of Providence, the Warrior is thus made the harbinger of peace. Of the supreme value of Peace, I need scarcely speak. Under its beneficent smile Commerce thrives, Science advances, the Arts flourish, Civilization spreads improvement, and social happiness is secured to man. The Warrior is a practical lesson of heroism, too, to his nation. By fixing men's admiration on his courage, he leads them to imitate it. One hero makes many. There never was a dauntless Warrior yet who did not raise a dauntless army. And this dauntlessness is not the mere passionate excitement of a moment, but becomes a principle, influencing the whole conduct. It is not confined to the field of battle. It teaches a man to endure calamity, to despise slander, to resist oppression, and to defend insulted right. Sir, I honour the Hero-Warrior much. He seems to me not only a personification of bravery, but a creator of it; he plucks the sweet flower Peace from the sharp nettle War; and he is a constant incarnation of the great and useful truth that exertion overcomes difficulty, and courage ensures conquest. With these remarks I resume my seat.
THIRD SPEAKER. — Sir, the opener of this debate said with some aptness that the Warrior was the arm, the Statesman the head, and the Poet the heart, of the body politic. I like the simile, and adopt it. But does it not tend to fix our verdict absolutely on the Statesman ? Is not the head the most important part of the living man? Compare it with the arm! The arm only acts; the head thinks. And is not thought (the originator) greater than action (the product)? The Thinker is always greater and nobler than the