Front Page Titles (by Subject) SKETCH IX: Military Branch of Government - Sketches of the History of Man, vol. 2
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SKETCH IX: Military Branch of Government - Henry Home, Lord Kames, Sketches of the History of Man, vol. 2 
Sketches of the History of Man Considerably enlarged by the last additions and corrections of the author, edited and with an Introduction by James A. Harris (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2007). 3 Vols. Vol. 2.
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Military Branch of Government
During the infancy of a nation, every member depends on his own industry for procuring the necessaries of life: he is his own mason, his own tailor, his own physician; and on himself he chiefly relies for offence as well as defence. Every savage can say, what few beggars among us can say, Omnia mea mecum porto;1 and hence the apti-tude of a savage for war, which makes little alteration in his manner of living. In early times accordingly, the men were all warriors, and every known art was exercised by women; which continues to be the case of American savages. And even after arts were so much improved as to be exercised by men, none who could bear arms were exempted from war. In feudal governments, the military spirit was carried to a great height: all gentlemen were soldiers by profession; and every other art was despised, as low, if not contemptible.
Even in the unnatural state of the feudal system, arts made some progress, not excepting those for amusement; and many conveniencies, formerly unknown, became necessary to comfortable living. A man accustomed to manifold conveniencies, cannot bear with patience to be deprived of them: he hates war, and clings to the sweets of peace. Hence the necessity of a military establishment, hardening men by strict discipline to endure the fatigues of war. By a standing army, war is carried on more regularly and scientifically than in a feudal government; but as it is carried on with infinitely greater expence, na-tions are more reserved in declaring war than formerly. Long experience has at the same time made it evident, that a nation seldom gains by war; and that agriculture, manufactures, and commerce, are the only solid foundations of power and grandeur. These arts accordingly have become the chief objects of European governments, and the only rational causes of war. Among the warlike nations of Greece and Italy, how would it have sounded, that their effeminate descendents would employ soldiers by profession to fight their battles! And yet this is unavoidable in every country where arts and manufactures flourish; which, requiring little exercise, tend to enervate the body, and of course the mind. Gain, at the same time, being the sole object of industry, advances selfishness to be the ruling passion, and brings on a timid anxiety about property and self-preservation. Cyrus, tho’ enflamed with resentment against the Lydians for revolting, listened to the following advice, offered by Croesus, their former King. “O Cyrus, destroy not Sardis, an ancient city, famous for arts and arms; but, pardoning what is past, demand all their arms, encourage luxury, and exhort them to instruct their children in every art of gainful commerce. You will soon see, O King, that instead of men, they will be women.” The Arabians, a brave and generous people, conquered Spain; and drove into the inaccessible mountains of Biscay and Asturia, the few natives who stood out. When no longer an enemy appeared, they turned their swords into ploughshares, and became a rich and flourishing nation. The inhabitants of the mountains, hardened by poverty and situation, ventured, after a long interval, to peep out from their strong holds, and to lie in wait for straggling parties. Finding themselves now a match for a people, whom opulence had betrayed to luxury, and the arts of peace to cowardice; they took courage to display their banners in the open field; and after many military atchievements, succeeded in reconquering Spain. The Scots, inhabiting the mountainous parts of Caledonia, were an overmatch for the Picts, who occupied the fertile plains, and at last subdued them.*2
Benjamin de Tudele, a Spanish Jew, who wrote in the twelfth century, observes, that by luxury and effeminacy the Greeks had contracted a degree of softness, more proper for women than for men; and that the Greek Emperor was reduced to the necessity of employing mercenary troops, to defend his country against the Turks.3 In the year 1453, the city of Constantinople, defended by a garrison not exceeding 6000 men, was besieged by the Turks, and reduced to extremity; yet not a single inhabitant had courage to take arms, all waiting with torpid despondence the hour of utter extirpation. Venice, Genoa, and other small Italian states, became so effeminate by long and successful commerce, that not a citizen ever thought of serving in the army; which obliged them to employ mercenaries, officers as well as private men. These mercenaries at first, fought conscientiously for their pay; but reflecting, that the victors were no better paid than the vanquished, they learned to play booty. In a battle particularly between the Pisans and Florentines, which lasted from sun-rising to sun-setting, there was but a single man lost, who, having accidentally fallen from his horse, was trodden under foot. Men at that time fought on horseback, covered with iron from head to heel. Machiavel mentions a battle between the Florentines and Venetians which lasted half a day, neither party giving ground; some horses wounded, not a man slain. He observes, that such cowardice and disorder was in the armies of those times, that the turning of a single horse either to charge or retreat, would have decided a battle.4 Charles VIII. of France, when he invaded Italy anno 1498, understood not such mock battles; and his men were held to be devils incarnate, who seemed to take delight in shedding human blood. The Dutch, who for many years have been reduced to mercenary troops, are more indebted to the mutual jealousy of their neighbours for their independence, than to their own army. In the year 1672, Lewis of France invaded Holland, and in forty days took forty walled towns. That country was saved, not by its army, but by being laid under water. Frost, which is usual at that season, would have put an end to the seven United Provinces.
The small principality of Palmyra is the only instance known in history, where the military spirit was not enervated by opulence. Pliny describes that country as extremely pleasant, and blessed with plenty of springs, tho’ surrounded with dry and sandy deserts. The commerce of the Indies was at that time carried on by land; and the city of Palmyra was the centre of that commerce between the East and the West. Its territory being very small, little more than sufficient for villas and plea-sure-grounds, the inhabitants, like those of Hamburgh, had no way to employ their riches for profit but in trade. At the same time, being situated between the two mighty empires of Rome and Parthia; it required great address and the most assiduous military discipline, to guard it from being swallowed up by the one or the other. This ticklish situation preserved the inhabitants from luxury and effeminacy, the usual concomitants of riches. Their superfluous wealth was laid out on magnificent buildings, and on embellishing their country-seats. The fine arts were among them carried to a high degree of perfection. The famous Zenobia, their Queen, being led captive to Rome after being deprived of her dominions, was admired and celebrated for spirit, for learning, and for an exquisite taste in the fine arts.
Thus, by accumulating wealth, a manufacturing and commercial people become a tempting object for conquest; and by effeminacy become an easy conquest. The military spirit seems to be at a low ebb in Britain: will no phantom appear, even in a dream, to disturb our downy rest? Formerly, plenty of corn in the temperate regions of Europe and Asia, proved a tempting bait to northern savages who wanted bread: have we no cause to dread a similar fate from some warlike neighbour, impelled by hunger, or by ambition, to extend his dominions? The difficulty of providing for defence, consistent with industry, has produced a general opinion among political writers, that a nation, to preserve its military spirit, must give up industry; and to preserve industry, must give up a military spirit. In the former case, we are secure against any invader: in the latter, we lie open to every invader. A military plan that would secure us against enemies, without hurting our industry and manufactures, would be a rich present to Britain. That such a plan is possible, will appear from what follows; tho’ I am far from hoping that it will meet with universal approbation. To prepare the reader, I shall premise an account of the different military establishments that exist, and have existed, in Europe, with the advantages and disadvantages of each. In examining these, who knows whether some hint may not occur of a plan more perfect than any of them.
The most illustrious military establishment of antiquity is that of the Romans, by which they subdued almost all the known world. The citizens of Rome were all of them soldiers: they lived upon their pay when in the field; but if they happened not to be successful in plundering, they starved at home. An annual distribution of corn among them, became necessary; which in effect corresponded to the halfpay of our officers. It is believed, that such a constitution would not be adopted by any modern state. It was a forc’d constitution; contrary to nature, which gives different dispositions to men, in order to supply hands for every necessary art. It was a hazardous constitution, having no medium between universal conquest and wretched slavery. Had the Gauls who conquered Rome, entertained any view but of plunder, Rome would never have been heard of. It was on the brink of ruin in the war with Hannibal. What would have happened had Hannibal been victorious? It is easy to judge, by comparing it with Carthage. Carthage was a commercial state, the people all employ’d in arts, manufactures, and navigation. The Carthaginians were subdued; but they could not be reduced to extremity, while they had access to the sea. In fact, they prospered so much by commerce, even after they were subdued, as to raise jealousy in their masters; who thought themselves not secure while a house remained in Carthage. On the other hand, what resource for the inhabitants of Rome, had they been subdued? They must have perished by hunger; for they could not work. In a word, ancient Rome resembles a gamester who ventures all upon one decisive throw: if he lose, he is undone.
I take it for granted, that our feudal system will not have a single vote. It was a system that led to confusion and anarchy, as little fitted for war as for peace. And as for mercenary troops, it is unnecessary to bring them again into the field, after what is said of them above.
The only remaining forms that merit attention, are a standing army, and a militia; which I shall examine in their order, with the objections that lie against each. The first standing army in modern times was established by Charles VII. of France, on a very imperfect plan. He began with a body of cavalry termed companies of ordonnance. And as for infantry, he, anno 1448, appointed each parish to furnish an archer: these were termed francarchers, because they were exempted from all taxes. This little army was intended for restoring peace and order at home, not for disturbing neighbouring states. The King had been forc’d into many perilous wars, some of them for restraining the turbulent spirit of his vassals, and most of them for defending his crown against an ambitious adversary, Henry V. of England. As these wars were carried on in the feudal mode, the soldiers, who had no pay, could not be restrained from plundering; and inveterate practice rendered them equally licentious in peace and in war. Charles, to leave no pretext for free quarters, laid upon his subjects a small tax, no more than sufficient for regular pay to his little army.*
First attempts are commonly crude and defective. The franc-archers, dispersed one by one in different villages, and never collected but in time of action, could not easily be brought under regular discipline: in the field, they display’d nothing but vicious habits, a spirit of laziness, of disorder, and of pilfering. Neither in peace were they of any use: their character of soldier made them despise agriculture, without being qualified for war: in the army they were no better than peasants: at the plough, no better than idle soldiers. But in the hands of a monarch, a standing army is an instrument of power, too valuable ever to be abandoned: if one sove-reign entertain such an army, others in self-defence must follow. Standing armies are now established in every European state, and are brought to a competent degree of perfection.
This new instrument of government, has produced a surprising change in manners. We now rely on a standing army, for defence as well as offence: none but those who are trained to war, ever think of handling arms, or even of defending themselves against an enemy: our people have become altogether effeminate, terrified at the very sight of a hostile weapon. It is true, they are not the less qualified for the arts of peace; and if manufacturers be protected from being obliged to serve in the army, I discover not any incompatibility between a standing army and the highest industry. Husbandmen at the same time make the best soldiers: a military spirit in the lower classes arises from bodily strength, and from affection to their natal soil. Both are eminent in the husbandman: constant exercise in the open air renders him hardy and robust; and fondness for the place where he finds comfort and plenty, attaches him to his country in general.* An artist or manufacturer, on the contrary, is attached to no country but where he finds the best bread; and a sedentary life, enervating his body, renders him pusillanimous. For these reasons, among many, agriculture ought to be honoured and cherished above all other arts. It is not only a fine preparation for war, by breeding men who love their country, and whom labour and sobriety qualify for being soldiers; but is also the best foundation for commerce, by furnishing both food and materials to the industrious.
But several objections occur against a standing army, that call aloud for a better model than has hitherto been established, at least in Britain. The subject is interesting, and I hope for attention from every man who loves his country. During the vigour of the feudal system, which made every land-proprietor a soldier, every inch of ground was tenaciously disputed with an invader: and while a sovereign retained any part of his dominions, he never lost hopes of recovering the whole. At present, we rely entirely on a standing army, for defence as well as offence; which has reduced every nation in Europe to a precarious state. If the army of a nation happen to be defeated, even at the most distant frontier, there is little resource against a total conquest. Compare the history of Charles VII. with that of Lewis XIV. Kings of France. The former, tho’ driven into a corner by Henry V. of England, was however far from yielding: on the contrary, relying on the military spirit of his people, and indefatigably intent on stratagem and surprise, he recovered all he had lost. When Lewis XIV. succeeded to the crown, the military spirit of the people was contracted within the narrow span of a standing army. Behold the consequence. That ambitious monarch, having provoked his neighbours into an alliance against him, had no resource against a more numerous army, but to purchase peace by an abandon of all his conquests, upon which he had lavished much blood and treasure (a) . France at that period contained several millions capable of bearing arms; and yet was not in a condition to make head against a disciplined army of 70,000 men. Poland, which continues upon the ancient military establishment, wearied out Charles XII. of Sweden; and had done the same to several of his predecessors. But Saxony, defended only by a standing army, could not hold out a single day against the prince now mentioned, at the head of a greater army. Mercenary troops are a defence still more feeble, against troops that fight for glory, or for their country. Unhappy was the invention of a standing army; which, without being any strong bulwark against enemies, is a grievous burden on the people; and turns daily more and more so. Listen to a first-rate author on that point. “Sitôt qu’ un état augmente ce qu’il appelle ses troupes, les autres augmentent les leurs; de façon qu’on ne gagne rien par-là que la ruine commune. Chaque monarque tient sur pied toutes les armées qu’il pourroit avoir si ses peuples étoient en danger d’ être exterminées; et on nomme paix cet état d’effort de tous contre tous. Nous sommes pauvres avec les richesses et le commerce de tout l’univers; et bientôt à force d’avoir des soldats, nous n’aurons plus que des soldats, et nous serons comme de Tartares” (b) .*
But with respect to Britain, and every free nation, there is an objection still more formidable; which is, that a standing army is dangerous to liberty. It avails very little to be secure against foreign enemies, supposing a standing army to afford security, if we have no security against an enemy at home. If a warlike king, heading his own troops, be ambitious to render himself absolute, there are no means to evade the impending blow; for what avail the greatest number of effeminate cowards against a disciplined army, devoted to their prince, and ready implicitly to execute his commands? In a word, by relying entirely on a standing army, and by trusting the sword in the hands of men who abhor the restraints of civil law, a solid foundation is laid for military government. Thus a standing army is dangerous to liberty, and yet no sufficient bulwark against powerful neighbours.
Deeply sensible of the foregoing objections, Harrington proposes a militia as a remedy. Every male between eighteen and thirty, is to be trained to military exercises, by frequent meetings, where the youth are excited by premiums to contend in running, wrestling, shooting at a mark, &c. &c. But Harrington did not advert, that such meetings, enflaming the military spirit, must create an aversion in the people to dull and fatiguing labour. His plan evidently is inconsistent with industry and manufactures: it would be so at least in Britain. An unexceptionable plan it would be, were defence our sole object; and not the less so by reducing Britain to such poverty as scarce to be a tempting conquest. Our late war with France is a conspicuous instance of the power of a commercial state, entire in its credit; a power that amaz’d all the world, and ourselves no less than others. Politicians begin to consider Britain, and not France, to be the formidable power that threatens universal monarchy. Had Harrington’s plan been adopted, Britain must have been reduced to a level with Sweden or Denmark, having no ambition but to draw subsidies from its more potent neighbours.
In Switzerland, it is true, boys are, from the age of twelve, exercised in running, wrestling, and shooting. Every male who can bear arms is regimented, and subjected to military discipline. Here is a militia in perfection upon Harrington’s plan, a militia neither forc’d nor mercenary; invincible when fighting for their country. And as the Swiss are not an idle people, we learn from this instance, that the martial spirit is not an invincible obstruction to industry. But the original barrenness of Switzerland, compelled the inhabitants to be sober and industrious: and industry hath among them become a second nature; there scarcely being a child above six years of age but who is employ’d, not excepting children of opulent families. England differs widely in the nature of its soil, and of its people. But there is little occasion to insist upon that difference; as Switzerland affords no clear evidence, that a spirit of industry is perfectly compatible with a militia: the Swiss, it is true, may be termed industrious; but their industry is confined to necessaries and conveniencies: they are less ambitious of wealth than of military glory; and they have few arts or manufactures, either to support foreign commerce, or to excite luxury.
Fletcher of Salton’s plan of a militia, differs little from that of Harrington. Three camps are to be constantly kept up in England, and a fourth in Scotland; into one or other of which, every man must enter upon completing his one and twentieth year. In these camps, the art of war is to be acquired and practised: those who can maintain themselves must continue there two years, others but a single year. Secondly, Those who have been thus educated, shall for ever after have fifty yearly meetings, and shall exercise four hours every meeting. It is not said, by what means young men are compelled to resort to the camp; nor is any exception mentioned of persons destin’d for the church, for liberal sciences, or for the fine arts. The weak and the sickly must be exempted; and yet no regulation is proposed against those who absent themselves on a false pretext. But waving these, the capital objection against Harrington’s plan strikes equally against Fletcher’s, That by rousing a military spirit, it would alienate the minds of our people from arts and manufactures, and from constant and uniform occupation. The author himself remarks, that the use and exercise of arms, would make the youth place their honour upon that art, and would enflame them with love of military glory; not adverting, that love of military glory, diffused through the whole mass of the people, would unqualify Britain for being a manufacturing and commercial country, rendering it of little weight or consideration in Europe.
The military branch is essential to every species of government: The Quakers are the only people who ever doubted of it. Is it not then mortifying, that a capital branch of government, should to this day remain in a state so imperfect? One would suspect some inherent vice in the nature of government, that counteracts every effort of genius to produce a more perfect mode. I am not disposed to admit any such defect, especially in an article essential to the well-being of society; and rather than yield to the charge, I venture to propose the following plan, even at the hazard of being thought an idle projector. And what animates me greatly to make the attempt, is a firm conviction that a military and an industrious spirit are of equal importance to Britain; and that if either of them be lost, we are undone. To reconcile these seeming antagonists, is my chief view in the following plan; to which I shall proceed, after paving the way by some preliminary considerations.
The first is, that as military force is essential to every state, no man is exempted from bearing arms for his country: all are bound; because no person has right to be exempted more than another. Were any difference to be made, persons of figure and fortune ought first to be called to that service, as being the most interested in the welfare of their country. Listen to a good soldier delivering his opinion on that subject.
Les levées qui se sont par supercherie sont tout aussi odieuses; on met de l’argent dans la pochette d’un homme, et on lui dit qu’il est soldat. Celles qui se font par force, le sont encore plus; c’est une desolation publique, dont le bourgeois et l’habitant ne se sauvent qu’à force d’argent, et dont le fond est toujours un moyen odieux. Ne voudroit-il pas mieux établer, par une loi, que tout homme, de quelque condition qu’il fût, seroit obligé de servir son prince et sa patrie pendant cinq ans? Cette loi ne sçauroit être desapprouvée, parce qu’il est naturel et juste que les citoyens s’emploient pour la défense de l’état. Cette methode de lever des troupes seroit un fond inépuisable de belles et bonnes recrues, qui ne seroient pas sujetes a déserter. L’on se feroit même, par la suite, un honneur et un devoir de servir sa tâche. Mais, pour y parvenir, il faudroit n’en excepter aucune condition, être sévére sur ce point, et s’attacher a faire exécuter cette loi de préférence aux nobles et aux riches. Personne n’en murmureroit. Alors ceux qui auroient servi leur temps, verroient avec mépris ceux qui repugneroient à cette loi, et insensiblement on se feroit un honneur de servir: le pauvre bourgeois seroit consolé par l’example du riche; et celui-ci n’oseroit se plaindre, voyant servir le noble (a) .*
Take another preliminary consideration. While there were any remains among us of a martial spirit, the difficulty was not great of recruiting the army. But that task hath of late years become troublesome; and more disagreeable still than troublesome, by the necessity of using deceitful arts for trepanning the unwary youth. Nor are such arts always successful: in our late war with France, we were necessitated to give up even the appearance of voluntary service, and to recruit the army on the solid principle, that every man should fight for his country; the justices of peace being empowered to force into the service such as could be best spared from civil occupation. If a single clause had been added, limiting the service to five or seven years, the measure would have been unexceptionable, even in a land of liberty. To relieve officers of the army from the necessity of practising deceitful arts, by substituting a fair and constitutional mode of recruiting the army, was a valuable improvement. It was of importance with respect to its direct intendment; but of much greater, with respect to its consequences. One of the few disadvantages of a free state, is licentiousness in the common people, who may wallow in disorder and profligacy without control, if they but refrain from gross crimes, punishable by law. Now, as it appears to me, there never was devised a plan more efficacious for restoring industry and sobriety, than that under consideration. Its salutary effects were conspicuous, even during the short time it subsisted. The dread of being forc’d into the service, rendered the populace peaceable and orderly: it did more; it rendered them industrious in order to conciliate favour. The most beneficial discoveries have been accidental: without having any view but for recruiting the army, our legislature stumbled upon an excellent plan for reclaiming the idle and the profligate; a matter, in the present depravity of manners, of greater importance than any other that concerns the police of Britain. A perpetual law of that kind, by promoting industry, would prove a sovereign remedy against mobs and riots, diseases of a free state, full of people and of manufactures.* Why were the foregoing statutes, for there were two of them, limited to a temporary existence? There is not on record another statute better intitled to immortality.
And now to the project, which after all my efforts I produce with trepidation; not from any doubt of its solidity, but as ill suited to the present manners of this island. To hope that it will be put in practice, would indeed be highly ridiculous: this can never happen, till patriotism flourish more in Britain than it has done for some time past. Supposing now an army of 60,000 men to be sufficient for Britain, a rational method for raising such an army, were there no standing forces, would be, that land-proprietors, in proportion to their valued rents, should furnish men to serve seven years, and no longer.† But as it would be no less unjust than imprudent, to disband at once our present army, we begin with moulding gradually the old army into the new, by filling up vacancies with men bound to serve seven years and no longer. And for raising proper men, a matter of much delicacy, it is proposed, that in every shire a special commission be given to certain landholders of rank and figure, to raise recruits out of the lower classes, selecting always those who are the least useful at home.
Second. Those who claim to be dismissed after serving the appointed time, shall never again be called to the service, ex-cept in case of an actual invasion. They shall be intitled each of them to a premium of eight or ten pounds, for enabling them to follow a trade or calling, without being subjected to corporation-laws. The private men in France are inlisted but for six years; and that mode has never been attended with any inconvenience.‡
Third. With respect to the private men, idleness must be totally and for ever banished. Supposing three months yearly to be sufficient for military discipline; the men, during the rest of the year, ought to be employ’d upon public works, forming roads, erecting bridges, making rivers navigable, clearing harbours, &c. &c. Why not also furnish men for half-pay to private undertakers of useful works? And supposing the daily pay of a soldier to be ten pence, it would greatly encourage extensive improvements, to have at command a number of stout fellows under strict discipline, at the low wages of five pence a-day. An army of 60,000 men thus employ’d, would not be so expensive to the public, as 20,000 men upon the present establishment: for beside the money contributed by private undertakers, public works carried on by soldiers would be miserably ill contrived, if not cheaply purchased with their pay.*
It has more than once been under deliberation, whether the tolls may not be added to the public revenue, after paying the expence of keeping the turnpike-roads in good order. But as ministers frequently are more intent upon serving themselves than their country, it may happen that the tolls will be levied and the roads neglected. Upon the plan here proposed of a military establishment, the reparation of the roads would contribute to keep the sol-diers in constant employment. And as it would be difficult otherwise to find constant exercise for threescore thousand men, no minister surely, for the sake of his own character, will suffer men in government-pay to remain idle, when they can be employed so usefully for the public service. Now, were a law made permitting no wheel-carriages on a toll-road that require more than one horse, it would lessen wonderfully the expence of reparation. Nor would such a law be a hardship, as goods can be carried cheaper that way than in huge waggons, requiring from six to ten horses (a) . By such a law the tolls would make a capital branch of the public revenue, being levied without any deduction but for carrying gravel, or stones where gravel is not to be had.5
The most important branch of the project, is what regards the officers. The necessity of reviving in our people of rank some military spirit, will be acknowledged by every person of reflection; and in that view, the following articles are proposed. First, That there be two classes of officers, one serving for pay, one without pay. In filling up every vacant office of cornet or ensign, the latter are to be preferred; but in progressive advancement, no distinction is to be made between the classes. An officer who has served seven years without pay, may retire with honour.
Second. No man shall be privileged to represent a county in parliament, who has not served seven years without pay; and, excepting an actual burgess, none but those who have performed that service, shall be privileged to represent a borough. The same qualification shall be necessary to every one who aspires to serve the public or the King in an office of dignity; excepting only churchmen and lawyers with regard to offices in their respective professions. In old Rome, none were admitted candidates for any civil employment, till they had served ten years in the army.
Third. Officers of this class are to be exempted from the taxes imposed on land, coaches, windows, and plate; not for saving a trifling sum, but as a mark of distinction.
The military spirit must in Britain be miserably low, if such regulations prove not effectual to decorate the army with officers of figure and fortune. Nor need we to apprehend any bad consequence from a number of raw officers who serve without pay: among men of birth, emulation will have a more commanding influence than pay or profit; and at any rate, there will always be a sufficiency of old and experienc’d officers receiving pay, ready to take the lead in every difficult enterprise.
To improve this army in military discipline, it is proposed, that when occasion offers, 5 or 6000 of them be maintained by Great Britain, as auxiliaries to some ally at war. And if that body be changed from time to time, knowledge and practice in war will be diffused thro’ the whole army.
Officers who serve for pay, will be greatly benefited by this plan: frequent removes of those who serve without pay, make way for them; and the very nature of the plan excludes buying and selling.
I proceed to the alterations necessary for accommodating this plan to our present military establishment. As a total revolution at one instant would breed confusion, the first step ought to be a specimen only, such as the levying two or three regiments on the new model; the expence of which ought not to be grudged, as the forces presently in pay, are not sufficient, even in peace, to answer the ordinary demands of government. And as the prospect of civil employments, will excite more men of rank to offer their service than can be taken in, the choice must be in the crown, not only with respect to the new regiments, but with respect to the vacant offices of cornet and ensign in the old army. But as these regulations will not instantly produce men qualified to be secretaries of state or commissioners of treasury, so numerous as to afford his Majesty a satisfactory choice; that branch of the plan may be suspended, till those who have served seven years without pay, amount to one hundred at least. The article that concerns members of parliament must be still longer suspended: it may however, after the first seven years, receive execution in part, by privileging those who have served without pay to represent a borough, refusing that privilege to others, except to actual burgesses. We may proceed one step farther, That if in a county there be five gentlemen who have the qualification under consideration, over and above the ordinary legal qualifications; one of the five must be chosen, leaving the electors free as to their other representative.
With respect to the private men of the old army, a thousand of such as have served the longest may be disbanded annually, if so many be willing to retire; and in their stead an equal number may be inlisted to serve but seven years. Upon such a plan, it will not be difficult to find recruits.
The advantage of this plan, in one particular, is eminent. It will infallibly fill the army with gallant officers: Other advantages concerning the officers themselves, shall be mentioned afterward. An appetite for military glory, cannot fail to be roused in officers who serve without pay, when their service is the only passport to employments of trust and honour. And may we not hope, that officers who serve for pay, will, by force of imitation, be inspired with the same appetite? No-thing ought to be more sedulously inculcated into every officer, than to despise riches, as a mercantile object below the dignity of a soldier. Often has the courage of victorious troops been blunted by the pillage of an opulent city; and may not rich captures at sea have the same effect? Some sea-commanders have been suspected, of bestowing their fire more willingly upon a merchantman, than upon a ship of war. A triumph, an ovation, a civic crown, or some such mark of honour, were in old Rome the only rewards for military atchievements.* Money, it is true, was sometimes distributed among the private men, as an addition to their pay, after a fatiguing campaign; but not as a recom-pence for their good behaviour, because all shared alike. It did not escape the penetrating Romans, that wealth, the parent of luxury and selfishness, fails not to eradicate the military spirit. The soldier who to recover his baggage performed a bold action, gave an instructive lesson to all princes. Being invited by his general to try his fortune a second time; “Invite (says the soldier) one who has lost his baggage.” Many a bold adventurer goes to the Indies, who, returning with a fortune, is afraid of every breeze. Britain, I suspect, is too much infected with the spirit of gain. Will it be thought ridiculous in any man of figure, to prefer reputation and respect before riches; provided only he can afford a frugal meal, and a warm garment? Let us compare an old officer, who never deserted his friend nor his country, and a wealthy merchant, who never indulged a thought but of gain: the wealth is tempting;—and yet does there exist a man of spirit, who would not be the officer rather than the merchant, even with his millions? Sultan Mechmet granted to the Janisaries a privilege of importing foreign commodities free of duty: was it his intention to metamorphose soldiers into merchants, loving peace, and hating war?
In the war 1672 carried on by Lewis XIV. against the Dutch, Dupas was made governor of Naerden, recommended by the Duke of Luxembourg; who wrote to M. de Louvois, that he wished nothing more ardently, than that the Prince of Orange would besiege Naerden, being certain of a defence so skilful and vigorous, as to furnish an opportunity for another victory over the Prince. Dupas had served long in honourable poverty; but in this rich town he made a shift to amass a considerable sum. Terrified to be reduced to his former poverty, he surrendered the town on the first summons. He was degraded in a court-martial, and condemned to perpetual prison and poverty. Having obtained his liberty at the solicitation of the Viscount de Turenne, he recovered his former valour, and ventured his life freely on all occasions.6
But tho’ I declare against large appointments beforehand, which, instead of promoting service, excite luxury and effeminacy; yet to an officer of character, who has spent his younger years in serving his king and country, a government or other suitable employment that enables him to pass the remainder of his life in ease and affluence, is a proper reward for merit, reflecting equal honour on the prince who bestows, and on the subject who receives; beside affording an enlivening prospect to others, who have it at heart to do well.
With respect to the private men, the rotation proposed, aims at improvements far more important than that of making military service fall light upon individuals. It tends to unite the spirit of industry with that of war; and to form the same man to be an industrious labourer, and a good soldier. The continual exercise recommended, cannot fail to produce a spirit of industry; which will occasion a demand for the private men after their seven years service, as valuable above all other labourers, not only for regularity, but for activity. And with respect to service in war, constant exercise is the life of an army, in the literal as well as metaphorical sense. Boldness is inspired by strength and agility, to which constant motion mainly contributes. The Roman citizens, trained to arms from their infancy and never allowed to rest, were invincible. To mention no other works, spacious and durable roads carried to the very extremities of that vast empire, show clearly how the soldiers were employ’d during peace; which hardened them for war, and made them orderly and submissive (a) . So essential was labour held by the Romans for training an army, that they never ventured to face an enemy with troops debilitated with idleness. The Roman army in Spain, having been worsted in several engagements and confined within their entrenchments, were sunk in idleness and luxury. Scipio Nasica, having demolished Carthage, took the command of that army; but durst not oppose it to the enemy, till he had accustomed the soldiers to temperance and hard labour. He exercised them without relaxation, in marching and countermarching, in fortifying camps and demolishing them, in digging trenches and filling them up, in building high walls and pulling them down; he himself, from morning till evening, going about, and directing every operation. Marius, before engaging the Cimbri, exercised his army in turning the course of a river. Appian relates, that Antiochus, during his winter-quarters at Calchis, having married a beautiful virgin with whom he was greatly enamoured, spent the whole winter in pleasure, abandoning his army to vice and idleness; and that when the time of action returned with the spring, he found his soldiers unfit for service. It is reported of Hannibal, that to preserve his troops from the infection of idleness, he employ’d them in making large plantations of olive trees. The Emperor Probus exercised his legions in covering with vineyards the hills of Gaul and Pannonia.7 The idleness of our soldiers in time of peace, promoting debauchery and licentiousness, is no less destructive to health than to discipline. Unable for the fatigues of a first campaign, our private men die in thousands, as if smitten with a pestilence.* We never read of any mortality in the Roman legions, though frequently engaged in climates very different from their own. Let us listen to a judicious writer, to whom every one listens with delight:
Nous remarquons aujourd’hui, que nos armées périssent beaucoup par le travail immodéré des soldats; et cependant c’étoit par un travail immense que les Romains se conservoient. La raison en est, je croix, que leurs fatigues étoient continuelles; au lieu que nos soldats passent sans cesse d’un travail extreme à une extreme oisivété, ce qui est la chose du monde la plus propre à les faire perir. Il faut que je rapporte ici ce que les auteurs, nous disent de l’education de soldats Romains. On les accoutumoit à aller le pas militaire, c’est-a-dire, à faire en cinq heures vingt milles, et quelquefois vingt-quatre. Pendant ces marches, on leur faisoit porter de poids de soixante livres. On les entretenoit dans l’habitude de courir et de sauter tout armés; ils prenoient dans leurs exercices des epées, de javelots, de flêches, d’une pésanteur double des armes ordinaires; et ces exercices étoient continuels. Des hommes si endurcis étoient ordinairement sains; on ne remarque pas dans les auteurs que les armées Romaines, qui faisoient la guerre en tant de climats, perissoient beaucoup par les maladies; au lieu qu’il arrive presque continuellement aujourd’hui, que des armées, sans avoir combattu, se fondent, pour ainsi dire, dans une campagne (a) .*
Our author must be here understood of the early times of the Roman state. Military discipline was much sunk in the fourth century when Vegetius wrote (Lib. 3. cap. 14. 15.). The sword and pilum, these formidable weapons of their forefathers, were totally laid aside for slings and bows, the weapons of effeminate people. About this time it was, that the Romans left off fortifying their camps, a work too laborious for their weakly constitutions.8 Mareschal Saxe, a soldier, not a physician, ascribes to the use of vinegar the healthiness of the Roman legions: were vinegar so salutary, it would of all liquors be the most in request. Exercise without intermission, during peace as well as during war, produced that salutary effect; which every prince will find, who is disposed to copy the Roman discipline.* The Mareschal guesses better with respect to a horse. Discoursing of cavalry, he observes, that a horse becomes hardy and healthful by constant exercise, and that a young horse is unable to bear fatigue; for which reason he declares against young horses for the service of an army.
That the military branch of the British government is susceptible of improvements, all the world will admit. To improve it, I have contributed my mite; which is humbly submitted to the public, a judge from which there lies no appeal. It is submitted in three views. The first is, Whether an army modelled as above, would not secure us against the boldest invader; the next, Whether such an army be as dangerous to liberty, as an army in its present form; and the last, Whether it would not be a school of industry and moderation to our people.
With respect to the first, we should, after a few years, have not only an army of sixty thousand well-disciplined troops, but the command of another army, equally numerous and equally well disciplined. It is true, that troops inured to war have an advantage over troops that have not the same experience: but with assurance it may be pronounced impracticable, to land at once in Britain an army that can stand against 100,000 British soldiers well disciplined, fighting, even the first time, for their country, and for their wives and children.
A war with France raises a panic on every slight threatening of an invasion. The security afforded by the proposed plan, would enable us to act offensively at sea, instead of being reduced to keep our ships at home for guarding our coasts. Would Britain any longer be obliged to support her continental connections? No sooner does an European prince augment his army, or improve military discipline, than his neighbours, taking fright, must do the same. May not one hope, that by the plan proposed, or by some such, Britain would be relieved from jealousy and solicitude about its neighbours?
This is a subject that deserves deep attention, being of the utmost importance to Great Britain. The importance will clearly appear upon considering our late war with France, and our present war with France, Spain, and our American colonies, all united against us.9 France and Britain have made frequent attempts to distress one another by threatening an invasion. But they are not upon an equal footing: England has many good harbours, not a single fortified town; France has few harbours and many fortified towns. It is provided with a standing army much greater in proportion than Britain; and above all, our capital is open to a sudden attack by sea, which the capital of France is not. Our Bank may in an instant be ruined, and public credit suffer a stupifying blow. We accordingly are terrified at the very thought of a flat-bottom’d boat; and it is acknowledged on all hands, that we have no security against an invasion but a superior fleet. This unhappy situation has, in the present war, thrown our ministers into great perplexity. Our field of action is America and the West Indies, and yet our grand fleet is locked up at home, while the French and Spaniards are at liberty to direct all their force to that part of the world. Our intelligence of the motions of our enemies must be always late, often uncertain; and in fact several capital blows have been struck before we could give any reinforcement to our fleets in those parts. Now if the military branch proposed above had been adopted early during intervals of peace, our ministry would have been at liberty to employ our whole naval force where it could do the greatest execution, and would soon have brought the war to an end.10
With respect to the second view, having long enjoy’d the sweets of a free government under a succession of mild princes, we begin to forget that our liberties ever were in danger. But drousy security is of all conditions the most dangerous; because the state may be overwhelmed before we even dream of danger. Suppose only, that a British King, accomplished in the art of war and beloved by his soldiers, heads his own troops in a war with France; and after more than one successful campaign, gives peace to his enemy, on terms advantageous to his people: what security have we for our liberties, when he returns with a victorious army, devoted to his will? I am talking of a standing army in its present form. Troops modelled as above would not be so obsequious: a number of the prime nobility and gentry serving without pay, who could be under no temptation to enslave themselves and their country, would prove a firm barrier against the ambitious views of such a prince. And even supposing that army to be totally corrupted, the prince could have little hope of success against the nation, supported by a veteran army, that might be relied on as champions for their country.*
And as to the last view mentioned, the plan proposed would promote industry and virtue, not only among the soldiers, but among the working people in general. To avoid hard labour and severe discipline in the army, men would be sober and industrious at home; and such untractable spirits as cannot be reached by the mild laws of a free government, would be effectually tamed by military law. At the same time, as sobriety and innocence are constant attendants upon industry, the manners of our people would be much purified; a circumstance of infinite importance to Britain. The salutary influence of the plan, would reach persons in a higher sphere. A young gentleman, whipt at school, or falling behind at college, contracts an aversion to study; and flies to the army, where he is kept in countenance by numbers, idle and ignorant like himself. How many young men are thus daily ruined, who, but for the temptation of idleness and gaiety in the army, would have become useful subjects! In the plan under consideration, the officers who serve for pay would be so few in number, and their prospect of advancement so clear, that it would require much interest to be admitted into the army. None would be admitted but those who have been regularly educated in every branch of military knowledge; and idle boys would be remitted to their studies.
Here is display’d an agreeable scene with relation to industry. Supposing the whole threescore thousand men to be absolutely idle; yet, by doubling the industry of those who remain, I affirm, that the sum of industry would be much greater than before. And the scene becomes en-chanting, when we consider, that these threescore thousand men, would not only be of all the most industrious, but be patterns of industry to others.
Upon conclusion of a foreign war, we suffer grievously by disbanded soldiers, who must plunder or starve. The present plan is an effectual remedy: men accustomed to hard labour under strict discipline, can never be in want of bread: they will be sought for every where, even at higher than ordinary wages; and they will prove excellent masters for training the peasants to hard labour.
A man indulges emulation more freely in behalf of his friend or his country, than of himself: emulation in the latter case is selfish; in the former, is social. Doth not that give us reason to hope, that the separating military officers into different classes will excite a laudable emulation, prompting individuals to exert themselves on every occasion for the honour of their class? Nor will such emulation, a virtuous passion, be any obstruction to private friendship between members of different classes. May it not be expected, that young officers of birth and fortune, zea-lous to qualify themselves at their own expence for serving their country, will cling for instruction to officers of experience, who have no inheritance but personal merit? Both find their account in that connection: men of rank become adepts in military affairs, a valuable branch of education for them; and officers who serve for pay, acquire friends at court, who will embrace every opportunity of testifying their gratitude.
The advantages mentioned are great and extensive; and yet are not the only advantages. Will it be thought extravagant to hope, that the proposed plan would form a better system of education for young men of fortune, than hitherto has been known in Britain? Before pronouncing sentence against me, let the following considerations be weigh’d. Our youth go abroad to see the world in the literal sense; for to pierce deeper than eyesight, cannot be expected of boys. They resort to gay courts, where nothing is found for imitation but pomp, luxury, dissembled virtues, and real vices: such scenes make an impression too deep on young men of a warm imagination. Our plan would be an antidote to such poisonous education. Supposing eighteen to be the earliest time for the army; here is an object held up to our youth of fortune, for rousing their ambition: they will endeavour to make a figure, and emulation will animate them to excel: supposing a young man to have no ambition, shame however will push him on. To acquire the military art, to discipline their men, to direct the execution of public works, and to conduct other military operations, would occupy their whole time, and banish idleness. A young gentleman, thus guarded against the enticing vices and sauntering follies of youth, must be sadly deficient in genius, if, during his seven years service, reading and meditation have been totally neglected. Hoping better things from our youth of fortune, I take for granted, that during their service they have made some progress, not only in military knowledge, but in morals, and in the fine arts, so as at the age of twenty-five to be qualified for profiting, instead of being undone, by seeing the world.*
Further, young men of birth and fortune, acquire indeed the smoothness and suppleness of a court, with respect to their superiors; but the restraint of such manners, makes their temper break out against inferiors, where there is no restraint. Insolence of rank, is not so visible in Britain as in countries of less freedom; but it is sufficiently visible to require correction. To that end, no method promises more success than military service; as command and obedience alternately, are the best discipline for acquiring temper and moderation. Can pride and insolence be more effectually stemmed, than to be under command of an inferior?
Still upon the important article of education. Where pleasure is the ruling passion in youth, interest will be the ruling passion in age: the selfish principle is the foundation of both; the object only is varied. This observation is sadly verified in Britain: our young men of rank, loathing an irksome and fatiguing course of education, abandon themselves to pleasure. Trace these very men through the more settled part of life, and they will be found grasping at power and profit, by means of court-favour; with no regard to their country, and with very little to their friends. The education proposed, holding up a tempting prize to virtuous ambition, is an excellent fence against a life of indolent pleasure. A youth of fortune, engaged with many rivals in a train of public service, acquires a habit of business; and as he is constantly employ’d for the public, patriotism becomes his ruling passion.*
A number of noblemen and gentlemen, led by ambition, did lately join in parliament to oppose the King’s measures; and with true antipatriotic zeal stood up as champions for the American rebels.11 Charity leads me to think, that they would have acted very differently had they been trained in the military line, and consequently been employed during a course of years in the service of their country.12
The advantages of a military education, such as that proposed, are not yet exhausted. Under regular government promoting the arts of peace, social intercourse refines, and fondness for company increases in proportion. And hence it is, that the capital is crowded with every person who can afford to live there. A man of fortune, who has no taste but for a city life, happens to be forc’d into the country by business: finding business and the country equally insipid, he turns impatient, and flies to town, with a disgust at every rural amusement. In France, the country has been long deserted: in Britain the same fondness for a town-life is gaining ground. A stranger considering the immense sums expended in England upon country-seats, would conclude, in appearance with great certainty, that the English spend most of their time in the country. But how would it surprise him to be told, not only that people of fashion in England pass little of their time there, but that the immense sums laid out upon gardening and pleasure-grounds, are the effect of vanity more than of taste! In fact, such embellishments are beginning to wear out of fashion; appetite for society leaving neither time nor inclination for rural pleasures. If the progress of that disease can be stayed, the only means is military education. In youth lasting impressions are made; and men of fortune who take to the army, being confined mostly to the country in prime of life, contract a liking for country occupations and amusements: which withdraw them from the capital, and contribute to the health of the mind, no less than of the body.
A military life is the only cure for a disease much more dangerous. Most men of rank are ambitious of shining in public. They may assume the patriot at the beginning; but it is a false appearance, for their patriotism is only a disguise to favour their ambition. A court life becomes habitual and engrosses their whole soul: the minister’s nod is a law to them: they dare not disobey; for to be reduced to a private station, would to them be a cruel misfortune. This impotence of mind is in France so excessive, that to banish a courtier to his country seat, is held an adequate punishment for the highest misdemeanor. This sort of slavery is gaining ground in Britain; and it ought to be dreaded, for scarce another circumstance will more readily pave the way to absolute power, if adverse fate shall afflict us with an ambitious King. There is no effectual remedy to the servility of a court life, but the military education here recommended.13
A military education would contribute equally to moderation in social enjoyments. The pomp, ceremony, and ex-pence, necessary to those who adhere to a court and live always in public, are not a little fatiguing and oppressive. Man is naturally moderate in his desire of enjoyment; and it requires much practice to make him bear excess without satiety and disgust. The pain of excess, prompts men of opulence to pass some part of their time in a snug retirement, where they live at ease, free from pomp and ceremony. Here is a retirement, which can be reached without any painful circuit; a port of safety and of peace, to which we are piloted by military education, avoiding every dangerous rock, and every fatiguing agitation.
Reflecting on the advantages of military education above display’d, is it foolish to think, that our plan might produce a total alteration of manners in our youth of birth and fortune? the idler, the gamester, the profligate, compared with our military men, would make a despicable figure; shame, not to talk of pride, would compel them to reform.
How conducive to good government might the proposed plan be, in the hands of a virtuous king, supported by a public-spirited ministry! In the present course of advancement, a youth of quality who aspires to serve his country in a civil employment, has nothing to rely on but parliamentary interest. The military education proposed, would afford him opportunity to improve his talents, and to convince the world of his merit. Honour and applause thus acquired, would intitle him to demand preferment; and he ought to be employed, not only as deserving, but as an encouragement to others. Frequent instances of neglecting men who are patronized by the public, might perhaps prove dangerous to a British minister.
If I have not all this while been dreaming, here are display’d illustrious advantages of the military education proposed. Fondness for the subject excites me to prolong the entertainment; and I add the following reflection on the education of such men as are disposed to serve in a public station. The sciences are mutually connected: a man cannot be perfect in any one, without being in some degree acquainted with every one. The science of politics in particular, being not a little intricate, cannot be acquired in perfection by any one whose studies have been confined to a single branch, whether relative to peace or to war. The Duke of Marlborough made an eminent figure in the cabinet, as well as in the field; and so did equally the illustrious Sully, who may serve as a model to all ministers. The great aim in modern politics is, to split government into the greatest number possible of departments, trusting nothing to genius. China affords such a government in perfection. National affairs are there so simplified by division, as to require scarce any capacity in the mandarines. These officers, having little occasion for activity either of mind or of body, sink down into sloth and sensuality: motives of ambition or of fame make no impression: they have not even the delicacy to blush when they err: and as no punishment is regarded but what touches the person or the purse, it is not unusual to see a mandarine beaten with many stripes, sometimes for a very slight transgression. Let arts be subdivided into many parts: the more subdivisions the better. But I venture to pronounce, that no man ever did, nor ever will, make a capital figure in the government of a state, whether as a judge, a general, or a minister, whose education is rigidly confined to one science.*
Sensible I am that the foregoing plan is in several respects imperfect; but if it be sound at bottom, polish and improvement are easy operations. My capital aim has been, to obviate the objections that press hard against every military plan, hitherto embraced or proposed. A standing army in its present form, is dangerous to liberty; and but a feeble bulwark against superior force. On the other hand, a nation in which every subject is a soldier, must not indulge any hopes of becoming powerful by manufactures and commerce: it is indeed vigorously defended, but is scarce worthy of being defended. The golden mean of rotation and constant labour in a standing army, would discipline multitudes for peace as well as for war. And a nation so defended would be invincible.
[1. ]“I carry everything I own with me.”
[* ]Before the time that all Scotland was brought under one king, the highlanders, divided into tribes or clans, made war upon each other; and continued the same practice irregularly many ages after they submitted to the king of Scotland. Open war was repressed, but it went on privately by depredations and reprisals. The clan-spirit was much depressed by their bad success in the rebellion 1715; and totally crushed by the like bad success in the rebellion 1745. The mildness with which the highlanders have been treated of late, and the pains that have been taken to introduce industry among them, have totally extirpated depredations and reprisals, and have rendered them the most peaceable people in Scotland; but have at the same time reduced their military spirit to a low ebb. To train them for war, military discipline has now become no less necessary than to others.
[2. ]In the 1st edition the following paragraph begins: “Where arts, manufactures, and commerce, have arrived at perfection, a pacific spirit prevails universally: not a spark of military ardor, nor will any man be a soldier. Hence in such a state, the necessity of mercenary troops, hired among nations less effeminate, who fight for pay, not for the state they serve” [2:4].
[3. ]Tudele’s book is included in Pieter van der Aa, Recueil de divers voyages curieux, 1729.
[4. ]“Men at that time . . . decided a battle”: added in 2nd edition.
[* ]This was the first tax imposed in France without consent of the three estates: and, however unconstitutional, it occasioned not the slightest murmur, because its visible good tendency reconciled all the world to it. Charles, beside, was a favourite of his people; and justly, as he shewed by every act his affection for them. Had our first Charles been such a favourite, who knows whether the taxes he imposed without consent of parliament, would have met with any opposition? Such taxes would have become customary, as in France; and a limited monarchy would, as in France, have become absolute. Governments, like men, are liable to many revolutions: we remain, it is true, a free people; but for that blessing we are perhaps more indebted to fortune, than to patriotic vigilance.
[* ]Nunquam credo potuisse dubitari, aptiorem armis rusticam plebem, quae sub divo et in labore nutritur; solis patiens; umbrae negligens; balnearum nescia; deliciarum ignara; simplicis animi; parvo contenta; duratis ad omnem laborum tolerantiam membris: cui gestare ferrum, fossam ducere, onus ferre, consuetudo de rure est. Nec inficiandum est, post urbem conditam, Romanos ex civitate profectos semper ad bellum: sed tunc nullis voluptatibus, nullis deliciis frangebantur. Sudorem cursu et campestri exercitio collectum nando juventus abluebat in Tybere. Idem bellator, idem agricola, genera tantum mutabat armorum. Vegetius, De re militari, l. 1. cap. 3.—[In English thus: “I believe it was never doubted, that the country-labourers were, of all others, the best soldiers. Inured to the open air, and habitual toil, subjected to the extremes of heat and cold, ignorant of the use of the bath, or any of the luxuries of life, contented with bare necessaries, there was no severity in any change they could make: their limbs, accustomed to the use of the spade and plough, and habituated to burden, were capable of the utmost extremity of toil. Indeed, in the earliest ages of the commonwealth, while the city was in her infancy, the citizens marched out from the town to the field: but at that time they were not enfeebled by pleasures, nor by luxury: The military youth, returning from their exercise and martial sports, plunged into the Tyber to wash off the sweat and dust of the field. The warrior and the husbandman were the same, they changed only the nature of their arms.”]
[(a) ]Treaty of St. Gertrudenberg.
[(b) ][[Montesquieu, L’esprit des loix. liv. 13. chap. 17.]]
[* ]“As soon as one state augments the number of its troops, the neighbouring states of course do the same; so that nothing is gained, and the effect is, the general ruin. Every prince keeps as many armies in pay, as if he dreaded the extermination of his people from a foreign invasion; and this perpetual struggle, maintained by all against all, is termed peace. With the riches and commerce of the whole universe, we are in a state of poverty; and by thus continually augmenting our troops, we shall soon have none else but soldiers, and be reduced to the same situation as the Tartars.”
[(a) ]Les reveries du Comte de Saxe.
[* ]“The method of inlisting men, by putting a trick upon them, is fully as odious. They slip a piece of money into a man’s pocket, and then tell him he is a soldier. Inlisting by force is still more odious. It is a public calamity, from which the citizen has no means of saving himself but by money; and it is consequently the worst of all the resources of government. Would it not be more expedient to enact a law, obliging every man, whatever be his rank, to serve his King and country for five years? This law could not be disapproved of, because it is consistent both with nature and justice, that every citizen should be employed in the defence of the state. Here would be an inexhaustible fund of good and able soldiers, who would not be apt to desert, as every man would reckon it both his honour and his duty to have served his time. But to effect this, it must be a fixed principle, That there shall be no exception of ranks. This point must be rigorously attended to, and the law must be enforced, by way of preference, first among the nobility and the men of wealth. There would not be a single man who would complain of it. A person who had served his time, would treat with contempt another who should show reluctance to comply with the law; and thus, by degrees, it would become a task of honour. The poor citizen would be comforted and inspirited by the example of his rich neighbour; and he again would have nothing to complain of, when he saw that the nobleman was not exempted from service.”
[* ]Several late mobs in the south of England, all of them on pretext of scarcity, greatly alarmed the administration. A fact was discovered by a private person (Six-weeks tour through the south of England [[by Arthur Young,) which our ministers ought to have discovered, that these mobs constantly happened where wages were high and provisions low; consequently that they were occasioned, not by want, but by wantonness.]]
[† ]In Denmark, every land-proprietor of a certain rent, is obliged to furnish a militiaman, whom he can withdraw at pleasure upon substituting another; an excellent method for taming the peasants, and for rendering them industrious.
[‡ ]Had the plan of discharging soldiers after a service of five or seven years been early adopted by the Emperors of Rome, the Pretorian bands would never have become masters of the state. It was a gross error to keep these troops always on foot without change of members; which gave them a confidence in one another, to unite in one solid body, and to be actuated as it were by one mind. [[Note added in 2nd edition.]]
[* ]Taking this for granted, I bring only into the computation the pay of the three months spent in military discipline; and the calculation is very simple, the pay of 20,000 for twelve months amounting to a greater sum than the pay of 60,000 for three months.
[(a) ][[Kames, Gentleman Farmer, edition second, p. 46.]]
[5. ]Paragraph added in 3rd edition.
[* ]A Roman triumph was finely contrived to excite heroism; and a sort of triumph no less splendid, was usual among the Fatemite Califs of Egypt. After returning from a successful expedition, the Calif pitched his camp in a spacious plain near his capital, where he was attended by all his grandees, in their finest equipages. Three days were commonly spent in all manner of rejoicings, feasting, music, fireworks, &c. He marched into the city with this great cavalcade, through roads covered with rich carpets, strewed with flowers, gums, and odoriferous plants, and lined on both sides with crouds of congratulating subjects.
[6. ]Paragraph added in 2nd edition.
[(a) ]Bergiere histoire des grands chemins, vol. 2. p. 152.
[7. ]“It is reported . . . Gaul and Pannonia”: added in 2nd edition.
[* ]The idleness of British soldiers appears from a transaction of the commissioners of the annexed estates in Scotland. After the late war with France, they judged, that part of the King’s rents could not be better applied, than in giving bread to the disbanded soldiers. Houses were built for them, portions of land given them to cultivate at a very low rent, and maintenance afforded them till they could reap a crop. These men could not wish to be better accommodated: but so accustomed they had been to idleness and change of place, as to be incapable of any sort of work: they deserted their farms one after another, and commenced thieves and beggars. Such as had been made serjeants must be excepted: these were sensible fellows, and prospered in their little farms.
[(a) ]Montesquieu, Grandeur de Romains, chap. 2.
[* ]“We observe now-a-days, that our armies are consumed by the fatigues and severe labour of the soldiers; and yet it was alone by labour and toil that the Romans preserved themselves from destruction. I believe the reason is, that their fatigue was continual and unremitting, while the life of our soldiers is a perpetual transition from severe labour to extreme indolence, a life the most ruinous of all others. I must here recite the account which the Roman authors give of the education of their soldiers. They were continually habituated to the military pace, which was, to march in five hours twenty, and sometimes twenty-four miles. In these marches each soldier carried sixty pounds weight. They were accustomed to run and leap in arms; and in their military exercises, their swords, javelins, and arrows, were of twice the ordinary weight. These exercises were continual, which so strengthened the constitution of the men, that they were always in health. We see no remarks in the Roman authors, that their armies, in the variety of climates where they made war, ever perished by disease; whilst now-a-days it is not unusual, that an army, without ever coming to an engagement, dwindles away by disease in one campaign.”
[8. ]“Our author must . . . their weakly constitutions”: added in 2nd edition.
[* ]Rei militaris periti, plus quotidiana armorum exercitia ad sanitatem militum putaverunt prodesse, quam medicos. Ex quo intelligitur quanto studiosius armorum artem docendus sit semper exercitus, cum ei laboris consuetudo et in castris sanitatem, et in conflictu possit praestare victoriam. Vegetius, De re militari, lib. 3. cap. 2.—[In English thus: “Our masters of the art-military were of opinion, that daily exercise in arms contributed more to the health of the troops, than the skill of the physician: from which we may judge, what care should be taken, to habituate the soldiers to the exercise of arms, to which they owe both their health in the camp, and their victory in the field.”]
[9. ]The “late war with France” was the Seven Years’ War (1756–63). France entered the American War of Independence on the American side in 1778; Spain did the same a year later.
[10. ]Paragraph added in 3rd edition.
[* ]While it was a law in Rome that a man must serve ten years in the army before he could be admitted to a civil office, the republic had nothing to dread from their armies. But when by luxury the fatigues of war appeared unsupportable to men of condition, there was a necessity to fill the legions with the low and indigent, who followed their leaders implicitly, and were as ready to overturn the republic as to protect it. Hence the civil war between Marius and Sylla; and hence the overthrow of the republic by Julius Caesar. [[Note added in 3rd edition.]]
[* ]Whether hereditary nobility may not be necessary in a monarchical government to support the King against the multitude, I take not on me to pronounce: but this I pronounce with assurance, that such a constitution is unhappy with respect to education; and appears to admit no remedy, if it be not that above mentioned, or some such. In fact, few of those who received their education while they were the eldest sons of Peers, have been duly qualified to manage public affairs.
[* ]The following portrait is sketched by a good hand, (Madame Pompadour); and if it have any resemblance, it sets our plan in a conspicuous light. The French noblesse, says that lady, spending their lives in dissipation and idleness, know as little of politics as of economy. A gentleman hunts all his life in the country, or perhaps comes to Paris to ruin himself with an opera-girl. Those who are ambitious to be of the ministry, have seldom any merit, if it be not in caballing and intrigue. The French noblesse have courage, but without any genius for war, the fatigue of a soldier’s life being to them unsupportable. The King has been reduced to the necessity of employing two strangers for the safety of his crown: had it not been for the Counts Saxe and Louendahl, the enemies of France might have laid siege to Paris.
[11. ]Kames is perhaps referring to the passing on February 27, 1781, of Henry Conway’s motion in favor of ending the war in America, an event instrumental to the downfall of North’s ministry.
[12. ]Paragraph added in 3rd edition.
[13. ]Paragraph added in 2nd edition.
[* ]Phocion is praised by ancient writers, for struggling against an abuse that had crept into his country of Attica, that of making war and politics different professions. In imitation of Aristides and of Pericles, he studied both equally.