« PreviousContinue »
finds, it seems, his comparative situation intolerable; and without any change except it is better, he is to do what? murmur or revolt? - now! at this time ! in the midst of his victories ! in the funeral triumph of his admiral ! and to hoist the flag of the conquered ! But it will deprive you of a seventh of your army, flagrante bello; it is said, that they will not re-enlist; experience is on the other side. A noble lord (de Blaquiere) mentioned the 18th dragoons, the militia another instance, the army of reserve another instance; near one half of the men enlisted for general service - on what principle ? On the principle which is denied, that military habits reconcile to military life. The principle of transfer from limited to general service is the re-enlisting principle ; except that, in the latter case, the inducement is much stronger : in the case of the transfer, the soldier exchanges a service, limited in time and place, for service in another regiment unlimited in both. The probability of re-enlistment, being founded in the human mind, and being warranted and conceived by the sense of Parliament, signified in various aets, and being further evidenced by the transfer from limited to general service, is a speculation much less visionary than the apprehensions to the contrary. It is remarkable that the objections to the plan are founded in theory; and the principle of the plan in practice. It is also to be observed, that should the re-enlistment be less general than is expected, the injury to the country will not be unqualified, inasmuch as it will return into the mass of the people a proportion of disciplined men, and add to the general strength, while the recruiting supplies the particular defalcation; so that the worst consequence that gentlemen ominate, is a measure which subjects the country to the expense of recruiting, but adds to the strength of the community.
But it will deprive the state of her army in war! That is answered by the provision which shows it will not, except gentlemen foresee wars so very long, that the country must perish;
not by non-enlisting or limitation of service, but by
To form a judgment of this argument, if it deserves a further investigation, let me apply it to the troops in the different stations; to troops in their home station it can have no application at all; to those employed on the continent of Europe, as Europe is now situated, none; to the colonies then it applies; but you must take the whole of the case, you are to keep the soldier in a foreign and unhealthy climate for life: now, the injustice of that is much greater than the inconvenience of limited service; besides, the hardship to the individual is accompanied by an inconvenience to the state,
namely, the recruiting subject to that hardship: join both the hardship and the inconvenience, and they outweigh the other inconvenience, namely, that of losing certain portions of your men in time of war, an inconvenience remedied by placing such men in a second battalion, and also by the power reserved to the government of prolonging the periods of service. The four objections to limited service admit of a further answer, the practice of the most military countries, of Rome, of France, of Austria, — Rome in her best time: founded thus on example abroad, and experiment at home, the honourable member proposes this part of his plan, which is, to furnish your army rather with the flower of your people than the refuse, and on terms which are not ruinous; but that is a part only, the other goes to make England a military nation. The idea of the honourable member seems to be, a military nation with the greatest fleet and army that the nation can pay, and consisting of the flower of her people: the country, then, according to this plan, will come under three divisions; - men who are rich enough to train themselves, men who are not and cannot be spared from the agriculture or manufacture, men who are not rich enough and can. The plan of the honourable member goes to train all these in the manner in which their respective services shall not conflict; for instance, the man who can train himself shall not receive the
of the man who cannot, and he who can be spared from manufacture and agriculture shall not set up the exemption of the man who cannot: thus his plan comes to its great result, a military nation with a great fleet and army; that is the desideratum, any thing less than that, and your country totters. I know it has been said, that the fate of nations has been decided by armies; so it has been, and fatally you have found it so in the case of military governments, but so it has not been in the case of military nations; it was so with Austria after all her great, but hapless, efforts; so it would be with the deep-revolving potentate of Prussia, and so it has been with that fallen, late power, the continent of Europe, freemen -- not soldiers -- the property of their prince protected by armies, and when these armies were conquered -annihilated, and annihilated by their enemies because they were before subjugated by their princes, and the miserable princes have followed the fate of their miserable subjects; but it was not so with France, nor with America, nor with ancient Europe: why was not France beaten by the powers of Europe ? because she was what those powers were not, a military country; and in są saying, I do not mean that she fought as a tumultuary army, but that she supplied her regular
army with a succession of soldiers, and was thereby enabled to take advantage of every strong position, and every casualty of war, until those recruits should be rendered perfect ; so with America, she was thereby enabled to take advantage of her deserts, and of her solitude; and so of old Rome, ever in the Campus Martius-never on the exchange: - Bellona's temple always open: she lost, in the Punic war, four great armies, one crushed at Thrasymene, another annihilated at Cannæ; but she supplied those armies with the everlasting succession of armed men, and was thereby enabled to take the advantage of her Sabine hills, there to train her armed bands, and to weave her plan of death or of deliverance.
The necessity is stronger when applied to England in a war with France, whom England should never fight on a plan of detachment against detachment, when France
fights her by the eternal succession of troops, that is on the plan of opposing a detachment by a nation.
Your accounts will show you the reason : 25,000 additional men in two years that wont do: 12,000 men, your
additional force bill, in seven quarters — that wont do: 17,000, your fond, but most improbable estimate, - that wont do. 20,000, the whole annual produce by ordinary recruiting, and additional force bill. Taking the calculations of the tlemen on the other side in support of their own plans, and taking their estimates, it follows that, as far as relates to the military force of the country, you are not now defended: taking the arguments of both sides, and along with them the returns on your table, it follows, that, in a war with France, you cannot exclusively be defended by an army.
The force would be sufficient to conquer your liberties, but not sufficient to conquer your enemy;
It is very true what gentlemen have said regarding the danger to the constitution from the solitary plan of defence, by regular and unqualified armies; and the answer to their objection is, that the danger is already incurred by their plans, seeing that the militia differs from a regular force but in name; and the volunteers on the present plan of expense, can be considered only as a temporary check, and that the danger can only be removed by the plan of the right honourable gentleman, training the people of England to the use of arms, generally, permanently, and systematically, otherwise you become too strong for your charters, and too weak for your enemies. You hazard one great object of the contest, namely, your constitution, and with it the great spirit by which you are to contend, namely, that of a free people; and when your means are perfect, that great distinction, your constitutional
independency, the great and superior object, will have vanished.
I know perfectly well, that such a loss may take place without a conflict, aye, and without perception; the freedom of a country may be lost, or may be secured by position. Thus an armed and undisciplined people will not against a military government make a struggle, and thus a government against a trained people will not make the attack.
In plain, you must become a military government, or a military people: – in the first alternative, you must lose your liberty, and may not secure your empire; in the other alternative, you ascertain both.
I shall illustrate this by taking two periods-one the period of war, the other that of peace: in war you will not be satisfied to remain inactive, without any hopes of success on the continent, nor always safe in the Indies.
But in order to do any thing that is worthy of you, in order that you may not be in a hectic when the wind is at east, south, south-west, south-east, you must be a military country, or will you answer that the French hereafter may not evade you, (you know very well they may,) or that they may not make a descent on Ireland; or that your expeditions will not be too late, ·as they were in Holland; at Isle Dieu; as they were lately at Hanover — feeble, forced, and abortive?
Consider what your colonies require, what India requires, what Ireland requires, what the internal defence of England in the case of a descent requires, and then answer the argument: calculate your disposable army, and then you must say, No military people, no disposable army:
Thus far, with a view to war, its splendour and its safety : see what would be your peace; a peace, the spectatress of the growing navy of France, in the Texel, in Helvoetsluys, in Antwerp, Brest, Havre, L'Orient, Rochfort, Ferrol, Cadiz, Toulon, Carthagena, and now Genoa and Venice. You cannot suppose that France will not be able to get seamen, when she makes advances to the East. What remains then for
your country, as France shall be becoming thus a maritime, but to become herself a military country? Whether she looks to war, where, on any other plan, her efforts would be abortive; or to peace, where, on any other plan, her repose would be miserable; - a war exercising, as far as relates to the land, her impotence, and a peace spent in contemplating her growing destruction. To understand this better, let us suppose the navy of England defeated, as in the American war; would you not then, if you did not put your country into requisition, do what this plan offers; give every possible inducement to your
regular army; fill it with the flower of your people; take away exemptions, where exemptions were not founded in effectual service; train, discipline, and preserve your volunteers, the most consistent with your other service; require of the man
property to train, discipline, and array himself and his tenants; and, finally, to discipline and arm the people of England ?
The idea of the honourable member, with respect to the volunteers, is just; they should be the property of the country, armed, and disciplined at their own expense, assisted somewhat by the state: he goes farther, and he gives them every thing which they now have, save only that which they certainly ought not to have, namely, a privilege to command fieldofficers, and officers of the line. The volunteers, in the proper sense, are inestimable: they are the gentlemen of the kingdom, with their tenants and their connections, armed in the defence of the country; they give a spirit to the whole; they should fill a great place in the military defence of the country, and there is no other place in which you can find them: it is the best occupation for leisure; the best application of wealth, and the best direction to the love of display; it makes human frailty a public resource, and teaches men to seek satisfaction, in the effort which they make to their own deliverance; it communicates the upper and the lower classes in the best possible intercourse - the civilization of arms; it gives a directitude to the understanding as well as to the motions; softening the higher order, and exalting the lower, and contributing to the amelioration of both; so much so, that I should wish to preserve them without their defects, or with their defects; but at all events preserve them, My principal objection to their expense, and to other errors in the volunteer system at present, is, that they tend to abbreviate the duration of the volunteers. Of the arguments on the other side, two deserve to be answered, and the answer is to be found in the conduct of the objectors: they object, that the reduction of rank over the field-officers of the army and militia, and the reduction of permanent service, will disband the volunteers; and yet the Irish yeomanry have no such rank, and are put off permanent duty, and by the orders of the late administration, who by their argument now, it seems, have disbanded their own army. If, then, this argument is true, they have issued an order equivalent to the abolition of the Irish yeomanry in the midst of war: but the Irish yeomanry remain to justify their order, and expose their argument, which must be perfectly weak, or their conduct perfectly criininal; but they don't say that the volunteer, if he be not