Изображения страниц

indicates a total want of any steady principle of action, or of any settled rule of policy. The plan brought forward since the change of administration does not indeed directly repeal the last measure for increasing the army; but it interferes with it so materially, that for a considerable time it must be rendered utterly nugatory. It is neither more nor less than a revival of the ballot as a temporary expedient; that ballot which all parties had concurred in reprobating and abolishing as partial, cruel, and oppressive. The recourse which is had at present to this exceptionable mode of raising men, is, indeed, justified on the ground of necessity. Politicians are generally very fond of imagining cases of necessity; they afford a most convenient apology for every illegal stretch of power, and for every deviation from the rules of justice or of sound policy. The following very simple considerations will show, however, that, in the present case, the plea is advanced with even less than the common apology.

It appears to us to be one very great recommendation of voluntary enlistment, that it recruits the army from that class of the population to whom a military life is no hardship,--to whom it even presents powerful attractions. Even although the expense of raising men in this way should exceed that of raising them by a compulsory conscription, yet, if the burden were fairly distributed, we are convinced the sum of hardship imposed upon the community in general would be infinitely less. The ballot extends from the age of 17 to 45; the lot must consequently fall generally on those who are soberly settled at some regular pursuit,—who are married perhaps, and have families,—to all whose habits the military profession is completely revolting, and whose views of life it would utterly confound and disturb. Rather than enter into the army, therefore, such persons either insure themselves against the risk of the ballot, or they enter into clubs. The expense of insuring is from three to five guineas per annum. is not easy to say what may be the expense to each individual in a club. It may probably be from three to four guineas. Those therefore, who can, by borrowing, or by any other exertion, raise this money, will not run the risk of the ballot, although they must abridge themselves of the necessaries of life in order to

A heavy tax is thus levied on those whose necessities should wholly exempt them from all direct taxation, and who ought to be very lightly touched by any sort of impost. As by the present plan, the paying of a fine exempts indeed the in


repay it. *

We know one individual, with a wife and two children, and only nine shillings per week, who paid fifty shillings to be free from the bal lot for the militia and army of reserve.

dividual from the ballot for one year, but does not stop the operation of the ballot, it is the interest of the clubs to raise the men at any price, rather than pay the fine. But they have no way of procuring men but by voluntary enlistment. They cannot have recourse to ballots. That by far the greater part of the men procured will be raised by clubs and insurance offices, we can have no doubt, as it appears, by returns. laid before Parliament, that both in the militia, and in the army of reserve, the principals bore no proportion to the substitutes. That the proportion of principals will be greater in the present than in any former levy, we readily admit, because the means of relief are less attainable ; and it must be observed, that the principals consist of those who are disabled, by their scanty means, fron securing the enjoyment of their liberty. Their exposure to the ballot seems to be imposed on them by the humanity of the legislature as a penalty on their poverty. As it appears evident, therefore, that the greater part of the men raised will be procured by voluntary enlistment, what, it may be asked, becomes of the argument drawn from the necessity of the case ? Cannot government procure the men by voluntary enlistment as well as individuals? And would it not be fully more equitable to raise them in this way, and to defray the expense, by an equal tax on the community in general, than to exact it principally from the labouring classes of society ? It looks almost as if the authors of this severe measure were more anxious to save the rich from contribution, than the poor from oppression. We cannot forget how they whined about the expense of voluntary enlistment, when it was proposed to provide for it in parliament; but now that it is to fall upon the poor individually, they seem to think it of no importance. The discontent and disaffection produced by this project, is not among the least of its evils. To talk to men, who are forcibly dragge:t into the army, of the blessings of liberty, must be admitted to be a little unseasonable; and we have heard, indeed, from those who were the objects of this severity, various shrewd sarcasms on the blessing of living under a free government. Other objections might have been enumerated to this measure, such as the renew. ing of the old competition between the bounties of the regular army, and the bounties of private recruiting ; but we wished principally to appeal to the country, and to parliament, on its manifest injustice and inhumanity.

With respect to the other modes of defence which have been adopted, namely, the volunteer system, the training act, &c. if is not our intention to say much. We cannot help observing, however, that, in case of invasion, it appears to us that our main reliance must be placed on the exertions of the regular army. Those who argue in favour of the efficacy of militia and volunteers, do not seem to consider, that the country in which they would have to act is exceedingly unfavourable to their oper: ations. It is only in woody, mountainous, and difficult countries, where there is abundance of defensive positions, that inexperienced troops can be employed with any hope of success against yeterans. This was precisely the case' in America ; and if our readers will look into the history of the American war, they will find that the object of General Howe was always to bring Washington to a battle on fair and' equal terms, which the latter always declined, by retiring to strong defensive positions on the high grounds, and these positions he still further fortified, by throwing up entrenchments, in order to prevent the possibility of being dislodged. Why, it may be asked, did the two hostile generals, in pursuing the same objects, namely, the ruin of their respective opponents, adopt such opposite means for its attainment? Evidently, because they were both of op nion that the American levies were unable to withstand the British army in the fieldHad America been a fat country, however, Washington would have had no defensive positions to retire to, and it is probable his army must have been soon ruined. Now, this is precisely the case in Britain. The country is level; and abounding with excellent roads, and in any part of it almost an enemy might be forced to a battle without any very decided advantage of position. The skill of the officers, therefore, and the bravery of the troops, must evidently be our only reliance. And to us it has always appeared, that discipline was something very different from mere proficiency in the manua! and platoon exercise. The battle of Jena shows that men may have the external appearance of soldiers, without any thing of their real character. The Prussians were probably dressed in very smart uniforms, and, we have no doubt, went through all their mas neuvres with complete accuracy. And yet, how completely were they discomfited by the attack of the French! It will be recollected, also, that 6000 of our militia fed before about 1200 French in Ireland; which may serve to show us how little dependance can be placed on that sort of troops. We throw out these observations merely to recommend caution, and to prevent men from being placed in situations for which they are un lit.

ART. ART. XII. Corinne, ou L'Italie. Par Madame de Staël Holstein.

A Londres, chez M. Peltier. 1807.

HE plan of this work, if not altogether new, is at least very

different from that of an ordinary novel. The object of Madame de Staël has been, to intermix, with the incidents of a fictitiouş narrative, the description of whatever was to be found in Italy most worthy of attention, while that country remained in full enjoyment of the noble patrimony which it inherited from past ages. This attempt, therefore, is in some respects the same with that of Barthelemi, in the Travels of the Younger Anacharsis. It must, however, be admitted, that the union of the true with the imaginary is much more skilfully effected in the work before us than in that of the French academician. The story, by which he has endeavoured to connect together his descriptions of Greece, is, in itself, dull and uninteresting, and comes across the reader every now and then as an unseasonable interruption. The narrative of Madame de Staël is as lively and affecting as her descriptions are picturesque and beautiful ; so that each of them, by itself, could maintain a high place in the species of composition to which it belongs. The conception of the story is also in a high degree original; the difference of national character is the force that sets all in motion; and it is Great Britain and Italy, the extremes of civilized Europe, that are personified and contrasted in the hero and heroine of this romantic tale.

Oswald, Lord Nelvil, is a Scots nobleman of great promise and accomplishment, who, at the age of twenty-five, trayels into Italy on account of his health. The loss of a father, whom he loveil with more than filial affection, and absence at the moment of his father's death (which, though ynavoidable, seemed, in his rigorous estimate of duty, to involve a degree of culpability), had produced a deep melancholy, that made him indifferent to life, and little concerned either about its pleasures or its pains. In the circuitous route which he was obliged to pursue (it was in 1794), he passed through Inspruck, and there made an acquaintance with the Count d’Erfeuil, a French emigrant, whom he carried with him into Italy. The gay, frivolous, and unsteady character of the Count, is well delineated throughout; and he finds in these qualities, as so many of his countrymen have lately done, a defence against misfortune, more effectual perhaps than the deepest thought and most unshaken constancy would have afforded.

As they passed through Ancona, a fire that happened in the town, and threw all the inhabitants into dismay, called forth the



activity of Lord Nelvil, and gave occasion for him to show, that, in proportion as he was regardless of his own sufferings, he was disposed to feel for the sufferings of others.

When they arrived in Rome, Lord Nelvil found that a journey through a country where he knew nobody, and was known to none, so far from removing the gloom that hung over his mind, had only rendered his insulation from the world more complete. On the day, however, after his arrival, the ringing of bells and the firing of cannon announced some great solemnity; and he was told, on inquiry, that CORINNA was going to be crowned in the Capitol. "To the question, who is Corinna ? he received for answer, that she was the most celebrated personage in all Italy,-an excellent poet,-an improvisatrice,—and one of the most beautiful women in Rome. That her first work had appeared about five years before,—that she was a woman of fortune,—but that of her birth and family nothing certain was known.

This mixture of mystery and celebrity excited the curiosity of the strangers, and they made haste to mingle in the crowd. Corinna appeared in a chariot drawn by four white horses; and was conveyed to the Capitol, amid the shouts and applauses of the Roman people. The Prince de Castel Forte pronounced a speech in her praise ; she herself spoke an extempore poem in praise of Italy; and the Senator of Rome placed a crown of myrtle and of laurel on her head. 'Nelvil felt himself interested in this extraordinary scene, and in the singular person who gave occasion to it. His appearance had also been remarked by Corinna ; and, as she descended the stairs of the Capitol, turning about to look at him, her crown fell on the ground; Nelvil, catching it up, presented it to her, with a suitable compliment; to which she replied in good English, without any trace of a foreign accent.

The novelty of the whole scene, and the surprise occasioned by this last circumstance, could not but produce in Nelvil the strongest desire to become acquainted with Corinna. While he was contriving in his own mind how this was to be brought about, he found that his wishes were anticipated by Count d'Erfeuil, who had already written a note to Corinna, requesting that he and his friend might be permitted to wait on her. The account of the first visit to Corinna,—the description of her house, - her person,-her conversation-are striking and beautiful in the highest degree. Nelvil began to feel more interest in, life than he had done for a long time. Their intercourse was kept up; and, after a little, Corinna, as Nelvil was yet an entire stranger to Rome, offered herself to become his guide and conductor to all the curiosities of the antient metropolis of the


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »