Chicago Sees Famous War Paintings [excerpt]
Verestchagin’s attitude toward the
life of his time is quite as forcibly indicated in his text as in
his pictures. Thus, he writes:
“Now, listen! An emperor is killed.
Oh, how bad! How wrong! What confusion it brought! But there were
some reasons for this killing. It was removing the head of a monarchy
that was sometimes tyrannical and cruel. But then, the man was caught
and ordered shot. That is right. That is good. He must be prevented
from killing another emperor.
“Then things seemed to be quiet. Order
and confidence were restored. But after a short time a king is killed,
a good king, a king who was kind to his subjects, beloved. Well,
this man was taken. He was not killed, but he was shut up in a cage,
where he was to have no intercourse with his kind for his whole
life. That is good. That is right. He must be prevented from killing
some other king.
“Again all is quiet. Again there is
confidence. But lo, an empress is killed! Now an empress. Oh, that
is too bad! A woman, and a very charming woman. She was not responsible
for the deeds of her husband. She was not in public life. She was
a very good woman. What is the matter? The man is caught again.
He also was shut up. He was not allowed to speak to any man, see
anybody. He was put in a cage. That is right. That is fine. He must
understand that to kill an empress is not a proper thing. He must
be prevented from doing similar wrong.
“Well, again quiet for a certain time.
But, lo, a president is killed! A president! Oh, oh, that is too
bad! There may be some excuse for killing emperors and kings, but
to kill a president in a free country, the choice of the people.
Oh, that is very foolish. What of this murderer? Why, he must be
killed twice. A special law must be enacted. This thing must be
stopped. But what is the matter?
“It is evident that society is sick.
It is suffering from a very severe wound, and the killing now and
then of an emperor and a king cannot cure it. But it is well to
understand; we must realize that the revolver which killed President
McKinley was the same revolver which killed the Russian Emperor,
the King of Italy, and the Empress of Austria, and that this revolver
was the revolver of poverty, of misery, of despair.
“How cure such sickness? There is
need of radical treatment. The money, millions, and millions, and
more millions, which is spent in taking life in different wars,
must be applied to the curing of society. We must make war against
war, seek to save life and not destroy it.”