Obrázky stránek

him to assure himself thereof, and ready to run the moment he sees others in the slightest degree disposed to follow the like course; while a disciplined body marches boldly on, confident that those who are inclined to swerve from the contest will be compelled to their duty, so that there is no misgivings in the mind of any one with regard to the want of support on the part of his comrades; and while thus each man in the undisciplined host marches on in doubt, in the disciplined on the contrary he marches on in confidence: in the latter one united impulse thus urging on the whole, while in the former every one is actuated by an impulse of his own. Discipline, therefore, operates as much in a beneficial way by impelling the heterogeneously influenced mass to combat through the medium of fear, as it does by rendering it docilely subservient, both in its most extensive and most minutely complicated movements, to the will of the master-mind that presides over it: while knowlege by expanding the human intellect, enables civilised man not only to be constantly devising new weapons of destruction, and rendering others more powerfully effective; but by enabling also those so endowed to take more extended views of the art of war, and make more extensive and effectively combined arrangements than those over whom knowlege has not yet shed her deifying influence: civilised man is thus placed as far above his yet untamed fellow-being in power, as he confessedly is in almost every other quality of which man has reason to be proud.

As the keystone of discipline is passive obedience, hence those nations celebrated for passive courage will, when equally disciplined and as ably commanded, always possess as great a superiority over those celebrated for active courage, as the man who is cool in argument will over the irritable and passionate. A body of Englishmen, therefore, equally well-disciplined and commanded with a similar body of Frenchmen, have always beaten, and will always beat the latter. A man possessed of active courage can never be brought so perfectly into a state of passive discipline as the man of passive courage, and is more liable to the influence of a panic besides: the one requiring to be urged on by successive impulses, pouring onwards like a torrent at one moment, and retrograding as suddenly and speedily at another; while the other moves firm and steadily onwards from a single impulse given, neither flushed into precipitation by the success he may meet with, nor driven to despair by reason of a repulse. The man of passive courage becomes usually more desperate and obstinate in his resistance the more he is pushed to extremities, in which state he is as dangerous to approach as the lion when set at bay; and in fact, the English have gained all their most brilliant victories when

reduced as it were to something like a state of despair: Poictiers, Cressy, Agincourt, and Waterloo, attest the truth of this. The calm and resolute man will always possess an immense advantage over the fiery and impetuous, in whatever way they may be opposed; and when, at the battle of Maida, the whiskered veterans of France observed the beardless Britons halt composedly within some twenty paces of the muzzles of their muskets, and in the midst of a murderous fire from them disencumber themselves of the blankets at their backs, which tended to embarrass in the forthcoming contest with the bayonet, no wonder a sudden terror should seize on them, when seeing men so decidedly bent on making serious work of it, by the cool fearless courage thus displayed in their preparations for it. The English also maintain a great superiority over the French on account of their superiority in boxing; for when an Englishman knows he can generally beat two or three Frenchmen in this way, he will seldom hesitate to face the like number with any other weapon; this giving a confidence to an English soldier, and making him look down with contempt on his adversary: for although it is a good maxim for a general to treat the talents and courage of his adversaries with respect, it is no less a good rule to teach the body he commands to despise them, as by this means he secures their advancing with greater confidence, and behaving with greater energy in the contest. The English also maintain a further superiority which I have before indirectly alluded to-that of being capable, by reason of their passive courage, of being impelled onwards to battle by fear, as much as by encouragement; while the French, by reason of their active courage, can only be excited on by the latter. It is an observation of a French general, that 6C you must keep constantly speaking in a cheering manner to Frenchmen in battle, while Englishmen you must threaten in order to stir them up to greater exertions ;" and in this there is much truth, for although in English discipline both encouragement and threatenings can be effectively employed, in French discipline the former is only capable of being efficiently had recourse to, by reason of the dissimilar spirit of the two nations. Encouragement alone, however, will never urge a coward on to danger, it is downright fear that will accomplish this; and hence it is no wonder we always find the French fail when the contest is to be decided by the bayonet, for the cowardly portion of them quickly deserting their brave comrades, the latter have sense enough to follow speedily the example, seeing it is hopeless to contend single-handed against the compact mass impelled onwards on them. It has also been a fashion in the French army, since the period of the Revolution, for the officers to mix more familiarly with the men than is allowed in the British service, which militates strongly too

against an energetic discipline depending on fear being sustained: for the individual who mixes freely in the company of his officer, and is placed in something like a state of social equality with him, will necessarily pay less regard to his orders than if kept at a most respectful distance: for the old adage, that "too much familiarity breeds contempt," is universally applicable; and when a soldier finds that he is a cleverer man than his officer, and is accustomed to treat him when off parade as a being on somewhat of an equality with himself, half the influence of the officer is consequently lost, and neither his threats nor his encouraging words will have any thing like the effect, as if he had conducted himself less familiarly with his men.

The mode of life of nations yet in a rude state of civilised existence, by nursing them up in a familiarity with hardships, fortifies thus their natural courage; while the intestine and foreign broils in which they are almost constantly engaged, make them all in some measure a nation of warriors, but of warriors depending on their individual bravery alone for success, their ignorance precluding them from benefiting by the various discoveries and systems of methodic warfare which the knowlege of civilised nations has enabled them so successfully to avail themselves of. If it was not, therefore, for these discoveries in modern warfare, and for that methodic and scientific system of tactics which the greater knowlege of civilised nations has enabled them to mature, the rude and uncivilised portion of mankind would possess as decided a superiority over the civilised, as the latter now do so pre-eminently over the former; and in fact, was it not for this acquired superiority in the tact and science of war, fostered and matured by the institution of standing armies, the civilised world would at this day be as liable to be overrun, and overwhelmed in darkness by the rude inhabitants of the desarts, as it was in the proud era of Roman splendor, or in the more recent memorable inroads of the Arabians and Tartars. It is from the period of the institution of standing armies, therefore, that we may date the permanency and progressive advancement of our civilisation; and in fact, standing armies and the liberty of the press form the two most potent instruments of the dissemination of knowlege and civilisation for while the first serves as a bulwark to protect the portion already acquired from extinction by barbarous hordes, the latter scatters abroad the rays of civilisation and knowlege to enlighten those very hordes who hostilely menaced their overthrow. Rome kept on extending her influence, and spreading civilisation and knowlege over the world, as long as her armies were maintained in proper discipline, by being kept in subservience to the civil power; and consequently all her means of attaining

these objects slowly vanished when the military power usurped over the civil, and losing thus its discipline, became no better than an armed rabble.

We see from the history of all nations of times past, that up to about the period of the institution of regular armies, the remoter parts of Europe continued to be inundated by one rude horde after. another; the latter always effacing all traces of civilisation made by the preceding one, and keeping thus mankind in a state of stationary barbarism. The same effect we perceive to have taken place in central Africa, where the moment a nation began to make advances in civilisation and knowlege, some one not yet emerged from barbarism poured in like a torrent on it, and effaced every trace of its civilised grandeur and acquirements. Such was the fate of the rich and populous kingdom of Bornou, till overturned by the barbarous and warlike Fillatahs; and such too will eventually be the fate of the Fillatah empire, when civilisation has sobered down the warlike spirit of the great body of the nation, unless a standing army on the European model be organised to defend it.

Standing armies are as essential too for the internal tranquillity of a populous state, as they are for defending it against external enemies. They are always ready to be called out when popular commotions require their application; by means of which, property in populous countries where they are in being acquires a security which it could not otherwise attain, and in the attainment of this point consists the main excellence of every government. Would the whole civil power be capable of quelling the dangerous riots which take place every now and then in our manufacturing towns, when disputes take place between the masters and workmen, which, if not put an end to, would quickly drive manufacturing capital out of the country to be more profitably employed elsewhere. It is wonderful to contemplate the immense power which European discipline and tactics confer; for by means of a few months drilling, a body of men may be made to overthrow another body of ten times their force, though equally well-armed, and constituting in fact a part of the same mass from which the disciplined body had been drawn. We have seen very lately a body of about four thousand disciplined Europeans defeat with ease an army of sixty thousand Burmans: yet if these same four thousand Europeans had still been plodding agriculturists and artisans, and been drawn out to oppose the Burmans, though equally wellarmed and provided as when in a state of discipline, yet there is little doubt that one-half of their force of Burmans would have routed them with perfect ease. Discipline and the constant exercise of arms make the civilised portions of mankind unnervated for warlike pursuits, and act not only as a body by methodic rules,

but accustoming them to consider war as a profession they have espoused, they are consequently constantly thinking about the actions they may be engaged in, and thus gradually steel their minds against the terrors of future conflicts.

When the benefits conferred on the world by the institution of standing armies are so manifest, it is astonishing we should, even at the present enlightened era, still find individuals cavilling at their existence. If all those engaged in the cotton manufacture of England, and all the machinery connected with it were destroyed, half a century would scarcely be able to restore it to its wonted state again; while in the meantime rival nations would outstrip us in its manufacture, and undersell and debar us from the very markets we were formerly accustomed to supply: and to the annihilation of a standing army, and all the means wherewith to reconstruct it on the same efficient footing, the same remarks are equally applicable. Nor would the advice so often urged, to take away the power from the king of dismissing officers at pleasure, be less pernicious, withdrawing as it would in a considerable degree the dependance of the military on the civil power, and creating thus a body as dangerous to the state, as the modern janisaries or pretorian bands of old. To His Royal Highness the late much-lamented Duke of York, England is indebted for the perfection to which the organisation of her military power is now brought, and which his high talents and his high station equally contributed to accomplish; for while few possessed the abilities requisite to fill so distinguished a place, or the business, talent, or amenity, to perform the duties of it fully and satisfactorily, both to the army and the public, none, except one of his exalted rank, dared to have so boldly annihilated the corruptions and imperfections which polluted and disordered the whole military system. No man ever more effectually fulfilled the office he was installed in; and no man was ever more respected and beloved by those over whom he was placed for while his talent enabled him to execute his official duties with ability, his strong sense of justice, affable condescension and kind heart made him the idol of all, from the general to the drummer-boy; and the soldier's widow and the soldier's orphan have equal cause to shed the tear of affection and sorrow over the tomb of their warmest friend and greatest benefactor.




Navy-Appointment of Lord High Admiral-Navy in similar state to army on appointment of the Duke of York-Equal beneficial effects likely to result-Navy hitherto a sort of nursery for furthering parliamentary in

« PředchozíPokračovat »