Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

and free from the insuperable objections to wbich the present measure was exposed. He should be sorry to oppose any plan to which he could possibly give bis assent, con; si iering unanimity as highly important at this time; una. nimity however, to which he could not contribute, without abandoning his duty, and in his opinion, in some degree, compromising the public safety. " It would be obvious, that the grounds on which he differed from ministers were totally distinct from those of his honourable friends! below (Mr. Windham and Mr. Whitbread). His bon. ourable friend had before said, that we must make new ex-; crtions to meet new emergencies, and yet in this greatest of i. all the emergencies that had existed for centuries, it is ! strange to hear hini say, that we ought to rest on our arms and do nothing. lle entirely concurred with those who expected the best effects from the plan of his right honourable friend below (Mr. Windham). It was one which would raise the most lasting monument to his', fame. But as he himself said, that years must ela pse before it could have its full effect, his opinion formed the best argument that something else must be looked to in : an emergency. He ibanked ihe ministers for having per : sisted in giving effect to this plan, which they found ready to their hands. He knew that they had taken measures to : accelerate iss operations, and whether these were the most effectual or not, he was satisfied they were well mcant. He,; would consider the present measure in three points of view :'!" Ist. Whether the advantages from it would be such as were expected. 2d. Whether it wonld be attended with 1 any advantage at all; and Sdly. Whether some other si plan inight not be more desirable. Wih regard to the first point, we had now a milijia of 77,000 men. A finer body of troops could not he scen, nor a better, except such as bad been in actual service. It had been embodied fouryears, was a most formidable part of our defence, and there it existed the best understanding between the officers and 1 men. This force his honourable friend (Castlereagh)" would break by allowing 28,000 to volunteer into the army. J: was impossible to shut our eyes to the bad ef. 1 fects which had before resulted from this tampering with the militia. In 1x03 this force was raised to 90,000 men, i and an argument was used for this which ought not to be vý lost sight of, and that was, that, as the regular force had been greatly inercased ihere might be an increase of ours:

- constitutional

constitutional force also. A new administration came in, i, the additional force bill was put into execution, and the militia was allowed to fall into decay. The effect was, : : that many of the officers gave in their resignation, and this was used as an argument in 1805 for allowing 17,000 to volunteer into the line. He agreed to that, as he thought that the men would be of no use in the militia without the officers. You were at present beginning at: the wrong end. You were to fill up the chasm which would be occasioned in the militia, and to add 10,000 more at the moment that you were disgusting the officers. This was knocking down the milicia with one hand, and raising them with the other; but the blow would be of such a stunning nature that they could not easily recover it. There were disadvantages attending the present measure which could not be compensated by any advantage to be derived from it. With regard to the second point, this appeared to be merely a commutation of service; it was robbing Peter to pay Paul. In 1805 about 17,000 were allowed to volunteer into the line; but did they do it? Now you were to apply to the same individuals who had refused before, and expect that 28,000 of them would volunteer their services! But then there were restrictions before, which were not intended to prevail now. Allowing this, you might get a few-men, but in proportion to the removal of the restrictions, you would disgust the officers. This, therefore, was notbing else than a sickly, threadbare expedient, utterly unfit for the present emergency. With regard to the third point, his right honourable friend opposite (Mr. Yorke) approved of the first part of the plan, but disapproved of the second, and recommended the principle of the army of reserve. So far his right honourable friend disapproved of the measure; but he agreed in the necessity of the ballot. He concurred with his right honourable friend in preferring the principle of the army of reserve. The principle of that measure was not permanent, but it was admirably calculated for an emergency. It had raised 48,00 men in five months, and had done nearly as much in three months as the additional force bill had done in a year and three quarters. This increfure, was the measure which ought to have been resorted to. It had been remarkably suca cessful before, it was simple, the whole machinery was ready, and in every point of view it deserved tbe prefer, ence. ; lle expressed his aj probation of the plan of train

ing to arms the whole of the effective population of the country. The duty of the inspecting field officers of the volunteers might he done in a different manner, and at half the expence. Fie concluded by saying that this inensure was so little calculated for the present crisis, that be had no option but to oppose it.

Lord Henry Petty was glad that his honourable friend who spoke last had been heard before him, though he was anxious to have addressed tbe House at the time he rose, in order to repel a charge brought by the right honourable gentleman opposite, against the late ministers. He had said that they had abandoned the intention of doing any thing in favour of Ireland. They certainly had done no such thing, but had with anxiety reserved to themselves a power to make represen'ations on this subject. What the right honourable gentleman said was contradictel, even by the garbled documents which had been surreptitiously published. With regard to the present measure, he was anxious to support any thing which could have the effect of a permanent addition to our force. The consideration then was, whether this was a measure calculated for that purpose. Ilis honourable friend (Mr. Whitbread) had entered upon the consideration of the amount of our force compared with our population, and had certainly taken a just view of the subject. He had included in his calculation some who were not properly part of or military force. But, however, without these, our force, compared with our populasion, was as great, if not grea'er, than that of any other country. We had about 400,000 men in our army, and having besides 30,000 foreigners; we had 150,000 in the regular army, 40,000 artillery men, between 70 and 80,000 militia, and 130,000 in the navy. These, with from $70 to 380,000 volunteers formed nearly 2-17ths of our population capable of bearing arms. In one of the most military monarchies of Europe, where there was little commerce and few manufactures, he meant Prússia, the proportion of those actually armed, out of those capable of bearing arms, had been 2-171hs. For any permanent force, more than this, could uot be found. This was a most essential view of the subject, for if there was a moment when we ought to be peculiarly cautious with respect to military measures, it was when we had already advanced to the natural limits by which we ought to be bounded in ordinary cascs. On that ground the

present

there was liet proportioning arms, haid, could not be if there nger ser of invasion continents: first, theanger he

present measure was to be considered. The danger he considered as arising from two sources : first, the general danger from the state of the continent; and seconly, the particular danger of invasion arising out of it. This view of the danger would furnish us with principles to try the propriety of the measure. Now, we ought to be cautious about altering the existing force; and certainly when a plan, co fesse lly of a temporary nature, was brough: forward, it ought only to have a temporary effect on former establishinents. Now, in these respects, the plan was extremely imperfect, for it went to unsettle the great principles of defence. It would have been expected, if any part of our force was to have been destroyed, it would not have been the militia. If there was a time when that ser: vice ought to have been improved and encouraged, not annihilated, this was the moment. If it was good for any thing it was for the defence of the country. At the moment, however, when the attention of ministers ought to be directed to the protection of the country itself, the measure they proposed was one wbich went to Jisorganise, and put out of order this force. This he conceived to be a most extraordinary step, in what could only be a temporary measure of defence. The officers of the militia made many sacrifices for the public advantage. Should even this measure pass into a law, he was convinced ihey would so far forget the degradation and insults offered to themselyes, as to exert their utmost endeavours in seeing that the act be carried into proper effect. But it was impossi. ble that government could again expect to find gentlemen of landed property from these counties, step forward as militia officers. There was always a deficiency in the militia in this respect; there was so at the present mon ment; and the measure now proposed must go greatly to increase it, and to deprive this force of great part of the character it now cnjoyed. He agreed with an lionourable gentleman who had spoken carly in the deba:c, that there was a great difference between the calling on the voluntary services of the militia in the year 1799 and at the present moment. Then an increase was wanted in the disposable force of the country, of course in extending their services, they benefited the country, which had then no occasion for their protection at home, while those by wbose desire they volunteered, shewed that they éstcemeå their services as valuable. Now, however, the danger threatened this

coupiry,

[ocr errors]

country, and instead of looking for assistance from this legitimate constitutional force, the government, by asking them to volunteer into the regular army, clearly informed them, that as militia men they were of no use even in the very service for which they had been raised. The plan of ihe noble lord seemned, so far as the militia was concerned, to carry in it the seeds of its own destruction.

The noble lord in opening his .plan had told the house, that there were a number of the militia within six months of the period of expiry of their service, and that there was little doubt of the whole of them enlisting into the regular army. Tbis he thought very unlikely. By doing so, they could receive only 104. bounty ; whereas, by lying by, and waiting the o. eration of the ballot, they might receive from 501, to 601. in the first instance, and then the additional 101. for extending their service. He objected to the measure still more, however, because it went to destroy the plan of bis honourable friend, from which, as had been expressed by an honourable friend below him, he was of opinion, if allowed to take its fair course, his right honourable friend mus! derive imm:nortal honour. The documents on the table shewed, that if experience was not a cheat and fact a liar, that the plan of his right hon. friend had completely succeeded. The right hon. gentleman opposite seemed highly pleased when his honourable friend near him (Mr. Whilbread) stated, that the plan of his right honourable friend, if it had not done more, had done as much as the additional force act; and the regular recruiting, at the same time. These honourable gentle. men seemeil now to think this nothing, but they were not always of such an opinion. They had formerly represented the additional force act, as in itself a measure of great efficiency, while, at the same time, as they contended, it did not at all interfere in the regular recruiting. Their language, however, was now greatly changed, and they allowed no credit to the plan of his right honourable friend, although it had proved it,elf sup rior to the additional force act, and the ordinary recruiting combined. lle disapproved of compulsory service, which resolved into ballot, as raising up a competition against the regular recruiting, which it could not stand, and which must always drive it out of the sparket. Tie Ibonght that voluntary service should be carried as far as it would go, and that the situation of tbe soldier should be rendered as

comfortable

« AnteriorContinuar »