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Sunny field, and shady nook
Or the heifer's balmy breath'In this we cannot but observe, both in the choice of the epithets, tufted violet '-'gadding woodbine,, &c. and in the easy and natural flow of the whole description, a habit of observing nature accurately, and of seizing such beauties as are best suited to description. We have principally attended to Mr Mant's descriptions of nature, because it is there he seems to us most fortunate. His other poems have, on the whole, little to detain us. We must except from this general sentence, his WarSong on the threatened invasion, of which as well as the Dirge on Lord Nelson's death, it is b rely justice to observe, that they are the best on the subject we have yet seen.
• I mourn thee not ;-chuugh Thurt thy day,
Thy giant course was run :
And cheer thy setting fun.
Fair deeds of mercy wrought ;-
Be bliss,- I mourn thee not.' Mr Mant must learn, however, that the too frequent mention of his own conjugal felicity is very dangerous ground; and that, in general, addresses to private friends, and the occurrences of private families, require a very nervous lyre indeed to preserve them from the ridicule of a world, to whom their persons are uninteresting, and their characters probably unknown.
It is seldom, perhaps, much to the purpose, to praise a poet for his morality ; but it must always afford us pleasure, in one particularly of Mr Mant's profession, to observe in his whole volume, and every part of it, a strong and manly train of virtuous sentiment, which may be very advantageously contrasted with the strains of some of his most celebrated contemporaries.
On the whole, though these poems evince (what is no small or vulgar praise) considerable powers both of describing and enjoying the pleasures of an elegant and virtuous retirement, yet we cannot help hinting to Mr Mant, that we think he had more merit in composing than in publishing them. To write smooth verses is a very innocent amusement for a man of leisure and education, —and to read them in manuscript to his family or intimate associates is also a very venial and amiable indulgence of vanity ;but to push them out into the wide world, is not altogether so safe or laudable a speculation : and, though we are happy to tell him, that we think his talents respectable, yet we feel it a duty to announce to him, that we have not been able to discern in his works any of the tokens of immortality; and to caution him not to put himself in the way of more unmerciful critics.
ART. XI. General Observations upon the probable Effects of any
Measures which have for their Object the Increase of the Regular
Army; and upon the Principles which should regulate the System for calling out the great Body of the People in Defence of the British
Empire. By a Country Gentleman. 8vo. pp. 100. London
and Edinburgh. 1807. IN In considering the various measures which have been brought
forward for the purpose of increasing our military strength, we are naturally struck with the ease and rapidity with which established plans are put down, in order to make way for new and more inviting experiments. Every year brings forth some new project; and a military plan, like the minister's budget, is almost expected to make part of the business of each new session of parliament. Does this propensity to continual alteration proceed from any national view of emendation, or is it the result of fickle and of erring counsels? We confess, we are rather inclined to favour the latter supposition, when we consider the origin and the fate of the various projects that have lately succeeded each other on this most important subject. It is now four years since we began to dabble in military matters; from that period we have been continually groping, with blind improvidence, from one experiment to another; and we now seem to be as far from any certain or settled views on the subject, as when we first set out. We appear, indeed, to have exhausted our stock of expedients; and, having no new device to exhibit, we are forced to have recourse to an old project, which, in an unlucky moment of sober reflection, we had abandoned for its iniquity and folly. There is, indeed, no department of our policy (although it is proper to speak with diffidence on this point) in which such puerility and mismanagement have been displayed, as in the measures which have been adopted for the increase of our army; it
is on this account that we propose to make a sober appeal to the good sense of the country on the principle of those measures ; fully convinced that, when they are brought to the test of reason and argument, their true tendency and character will quickly appear. For the sake of clearness, we must premise a very few
There are two ways, and only two, in which a state may recruit its armies ; either by compulsion, or by voluntary service. Where the first of these modes is adopted, the business is accomplished with very little trouble to the government. The men are taken wherever they are found; and nothing is required but an order for a levy or conscription. As this mode of proceeding saves an infinite deal of trouble to the rulers, so it has always been much in favour with those who had the means of enforcing it, and, under one form or another, has been very generally adopted. Even in this country, although we have not often resorted to direct compulsion, our policy has always had a leaning that way. This has, indeed, been justified on the ground of necessity ; but statesmen are always eager to lay hold of this plea, as an apology for their own incapacity or sloth. Before admitting it, therefore, it will be proper to consider, whether there are any inherent disadvantages in the military profession, which prevents the state from procuring, by voluntary inlistment, the number of men necessary for its defence.
It is an undoubted fact, that, in every other calling, whenever an additional number of hands is wanted, they are always procured without any violent interference with the natural order of society. The manufacturer, when he is setting up new works, never speculates on the possibility of being obstructed in his schemes by the want of workmen ; and there is no employment, however disagreeable, disgusting, or dirty, however dangerous or unhealthy, to which there is the slightest difficulty in diverting the quantity of industry which society requires. It is natural, therefore, to inquire, how it happens that individuals are so successful in procuring, for their several vocations, the voluntary services of as many men as they Tequire, while those, to whom the government of the country has been entrusted, although they have been dealing in military plans and projects for some years, have never been able to raise such a number of men as they judged necessary. The reason of this, however, will clearly appear, when it is considered that the means adopted by the two parties for attaining their respective objects, are wholly opposite. An individual, when he is recruiting for any employment which is disagreeable or unhealthy, knows he will not procure men on the same terms as those who are engaging them for more eligible occupations. He offers
higher wages, therefore; and when he has thus compensated the disadvantages of his calling, and set it on a level with other callings, he will procure the number of men which he wants. Unless the government of a country acts upon precisely the same principles in recruiting for soldiers, they can never hope to fill up their armies by means of voluntary inlistments; and where, in any shape, it is found impossible to turn the requisite proportion of the population to the military profession, this is a plain pioof that sufficient encouragements are not held out: we
may rest assured that the pay and the privileges of the soldier are not such as to place him on a level with men in other employments. In that case, there is no resource, but either to resort to direct compulsion, or to apply a remedy to this radical defect in our military policy. The condition of the soldier must be ameliorated; it must be rendered, in advantages, in credit, in term of service, in present emolument, and in future provision, so desireable, as easily and naturally to draw from the population of the country the supply of men which may be required for its defence.
In Britain, the recruiting for the army has always gone on heavily, although every sort of chicanery and deception has been employed to entrap those into the service into which they could not be honestly persuaded to enter, and although the gaols have also been occcasionally drained, in order to make up the deficiencies of the ordinary supply. This difficulty has obviously arisen from the very inadequate encouragement offered to soldiers. Through the inattention of government, their pay had received no augmentation for more than a century, although, during that period, the wages of all other labour had been more than doubled; and when a soldier was disabled in the service, he was dismissed with a very scanty provision for his future subsistence :-wlien he was regularly discharged, although he had spent the greater , part of his life in the army, no part of his pay was continued to him. The cruel and degrading discipline which prevailed in the British army, tended also to spread a very general aversion to the service among the sober and thinking part of the community. In the civil code, the punishment of whipping is reserved for the most atrocious offences, and is supposed to draw after it a total forfeiture of estimation and character ; but it is astonishing to observe for what slight offences it was formerly inflicted in the army, and how very little it contributed to the disgrace of the individual. Its frequency and cruelty rendered him, indeed, rather' an object of sympathy among his companions; and, in this manner, the moral part of the punishment was effectually destroyed, while the alienation and terror which it excited, produced the most incalculable injury to the service.
On witnessing the spectacle of a military execution, how must the honest labourer shudder at the idea of being himself exposed to such dreadful severity, or of sending his children into the army, which he would naturally enough conclude to be nothing better than a school of tyranny and of crime. When to all these disagreeable impressions is added the indefinite term of service, we need not wonder at the aversion which the great body of the people discover towards the military profession. To be irrevocably fixed to any employment by an obligation directly compulsory, is an idea sufficiently repulsive and galling; but when, with this mode of life, various associations are connected' of the most odious kind, the most active efforts to recruit the army can only be attended with very partial success. It is remarked by Dr Smith, and the fact is indeed notorious, that no man inlifts into the army with the consent either of his parents or friends. From that moment they confider him as lost, and exert all the influence they poffefs to deter him from what they consider as a ruinous step. It is impoffible to do away these prejudices against a military life, unless we resolve at once to do justice to the military profession, and to set it completely on a level with all other professions. To lament over the expense which will be incurred in carrying this measure into effect, is quite uselefs and ridiculous. If defence be neceffary, it must be paid for; and, in our opinion, the country cannot be so effectually and cheaply protected as by paying at once the fair price for a regular army.' The annual expense of our idle expeditions would pay this price four times over.
The inefficiency of our military policy, from whatever causes it arose, being too obvious to be denied, immediately after the breaking out of the present war a plan was submitted to Parliament for supplying the deficiencies of the ordinary reeruiting. It was fupposed, at that time, that the enemy was just about to carry into effect his threats of invafion. The plan, it was said, was therefore suited to the urgency of the crisis, and was to furnish an immediate supply of 50,000 men. They were to be raised by a forced conscription ; the conscripts were allowed to find a substitute or to pay a fine of 201., which exempted them from the ballot for one year.
The forces so raised were not to serve abroad. In considering this plan, it is evident that the advantages of direct compulfion were, in a great measure, loft by commuting perfonal service for a pecuniary fine. The measure really operated as a tax; and no tax certainly can be conceived more iniquitous and oppressive, than where the objects of taxation are selected, not because they are able to pay, but because they happen to be of a certain age. The idea of perfonal service, on which the scheme