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Are the volunteers to be called from their homes, and marched into diftant parts of the kingdom, there to be formed into armies, on every alarm? The repetition of fuch coftly and vexatious means of preparation, would foon exhauft both the purfe and the patience of the country, Befides, as the danger muft always be imminent as long as a large army is encamped within fight of our coafts, and the moft fpecious indications of an immediate intention to embark, could be eafily made, the enemy, if he found he could reduce us to fuch coftly defenfive expedients, would take care we mould have alarms enough/to haTafs our volunteers prior to an actual attempt. It is plain, then, that forces which are to be aflembled from many different diftrifts of the kingdom, at the expenfe of every branch of civil induftry, as well as of domeftic comfort, muft probably be, for the moft part, unembodied when the enemy is on his way to our mores.' p. 130—133.
In this situation, is it possible for a moment to doubt, that our clanger is great, and that our preparation is inadequate? or, is it conceivable that men should still be found, who' can fancy that they act a laudable and spirited part, in discrediting the danger, and obstructing the necessary preparation? or in raising a sense-: less cry of disaffection or cowardice against all who have courage to look our situation in the face, and patriotism, to wish that it (should be rendered more secure? It seems to be the great object of those who assume the direction of the public sentiment, to hold put the enemy as something very hateful, but by no means very formidable; and thus to inflame our animosity, without exciting our apprehensions. Now this, we conceive, is exactly the reverse of the policy which ought to be pursued. Our animosity is already more violent than is either reasonable or becoming; and our apprehensions are proved, by the imperfection of our preparation, to be far less active jhan they ought to be. To talk with contempt of the greatest military power that the world ever saw, is either base affectation, or mere drivelling, or insanity; and yet this is the popular tona among those who seem most inclined to drive us on to the encounter. Provided we are angry enough, and sufficiently convinced that we have to do with a despicable opponent, they seem to think it but of little consequence how we are prepared in other respects for the contest. Our want of discipline and numbers—of generals—of strong places, or plans of operation, are all overlooked; and instead of remedying them, it seems to be the prevailing policy to discountenance all who would press them on our notice, and to make up all deficiencies by more abuse of the enemy, and more high-flown compliments to our own confidence and prowess. In consequence of all this, a general feeling is propagated in the country, that no extraordinary exertions can be necessary to repel these presumptuous invaders; and it is but too familiar and obvious a truth, that no
thing but a conviction of absolute necessity -will ever lead us to those exertions without which we cannot be in safety. That necessity, we think, is now come. We must be an armed nation, before we can be safe-from the hostility of a nation much more numerous in arms : and, that we are not already an armed nation, is owing mainly to the pains which have been taken to disguise from us this necessity, to feed us with the vain idea that no foe will dare to assail us, and that we have nothing to do but to retort their menaces by unmanly abuse and impotent reviling.
Thofe who agree with us, and with the author before us, as to the miferies which this nation, beyond all others, would have to fuffcr from fubjugation, will feel enough of anger and indignation at thofe by whom they are threatened with fuch a calamity. There can be no need, therefore, to inflame our animofiry by any other confiderations. Frenchmen, as Frenchmen, were never very popular in this country; but infulting and invading Frenchmen, could never have met but with one reception. Is it not an infult, then, to the loyalty of our people, as well as to their fpirit, to fuppofe that they need the excitement of paffionate invectives, or that they will fight better, and more willingly, if they are kept in the dark as to the danger of the encounter? All this is the worfe, too, becaufe we are verily perfuaded that the vulgar railing, in which we indulge ourfelves towards the enemy, is very nearly as much mifplaced and unjuftifiable as the accufations which they fo induftrioufly circulate as to us. The French are indifputably a gallant, a focial, and an ingenious people; and, except that they are at war with us, and have beaten our allies, and are^purfuing meafures that endanger our fecurity, it does not occur to us that they are more deferving of moral reprobation than molt other nations. Their manners are fomewhat more licentious, perhaps, than ours; and they are more boaftful and infolent than we are faid to have been in former times; but, compared with any other Continental people, we cannot help thinking they would appear to confiderable advantage; and that they would probably be reckoned, by an impartial tribunal, fully as amiable and refpe&able as our good allies the Portuguefe or Neapolitans—the Coflacs or Laplanders. As to their leader, it mull be admitted that he has fome flaws in his character that do not perfectly become a hero. He is more irafcible and vindictive, it teems, than fome other heroes have been; but his infatiable ambition, with his difregard of the lives and comforts of others, are very much in the common heroical ftyle. We do not know that he is worfe than the common run of conquerors or arbitrary princes; and are inclined to place him, as to general character, j;ot far from the level of the great Frederic, or the illuftrious
Catharine. Catharine. Thofe diftinguifhed perfons had vices enough, both public and private; and were rather given to interfere with their neighbours, from other motives than thofe of pure philanthropy. We ftill talk of them, however, not only with patience, but with admiration, and manifeft a liberal indulgence to their failings, while we invoke all the lightnings of heaven on the head of their more formidable fucceflbr. Now this, we mud fay, is very partial and childifh, and altogether unworthy of the character of the nation, and the conteft in which we are engaged. Its moft pernicious effect, is in relaxing the vigilant anxiety of our preparation; but it deferves alfo to be reprobated, as throwing unnecefTary obftacles in the way of that pacification to which we mujl ultimately look forward, and in indifpofing us to copy from the enemy thofe things which may be neceffary for our prefervation.
In considering how we are to oppose that torrent of success, which has hitherto overborne all the bulwarks that have been erected to restrain it, it is neither useless nor unnatural to inquire to what that success has been owing. We may thus be enabled either to discover the vulnerable point of the enemy, or to borrow for ourselves a like invulnerability; to anticipate the decay of what as yet seems to have been constantly growing in strength; or to adopt such arrangements as may raise us to a corresponding degree of force and reputation.
We may talk now of the immense accession of territory and population which France has recently received; of the military discipline that is established over all that vast empire; and of the enormous armies which have been trained to victory in the incessant and extended wars of fifteen years. These, no doubt, are formidable items in the account current of her greatness; but they are rather the fruits of her success, than the causes of it. France, under her old government, was more populous, and more unanimous, and possessed more disciplined soldiers, than in the first of her revolutionary contests; yet, in that distracted and tumultuous state, she overthrew the finest armies in Europe, and established her dominion over provinces which her monarchs had vainly coveted for several generations before. It is to the revolution itself then, and its effects on the interior structure of society, that we are inclined to ascribe the greatness and the successes of France. By that great concussion, the whole talents of the nation were set at liberty, and rose, by their natural buoyancy, to the higher regions of the state. The ruin and confusion which it produced, ,did not prevent this effect from taking place; and whatever the nation may have lost in point of internal comfort or happiness, £here can be no doubt that it has gained inconceivably in point of force and activity as a state. This is an advantage which all new
governments governments possess, to counterbalance the many disadvantages to which they are obviously liable. They are generally insecure, and often oppressive; but they are almost always administered with ability, and are strong and efficient in all their measures of public policy.
The fact is now pretty generally admitted: and the theory does not lye very deep. No man can win a place, who does not deserve to occupy it; but he may succeed to it, without any such qualification. A man cannot make a fortune, without money-getting talents; but he may inherit it, without any other dispositions than those of squandering and improvidence. The case is precisely the same as to public functions and political power. In regular and established governments, they are often given, and must often be given, to rank, and to wealth, and to personal influence, without any great regard to superior fitness or ability. In the first formation of society, or in its second formation, in the event of a radical revolution, no such thing is practicable. Places are not given them, but taken; they are not inherited, but won: and rank and wealth, and adventitious influence being annihilated, tlie only competition is as to personal qualifications; and the only test of their existence is their actual operation and display. All extensive governments, when considered with relation to their functionaries and administrators, are necessarily of the nature of aristocracies; but all aristocracies, at their first formation, are necessarily composed of the strong and the subtle—of those who are powerful or active. Imbecility can by no possibility have a place in them ; negligence or incapacity operate a spontaneous exclusion. The race is then always to the swift, and the battle to the strong. That it is otherwise afterwards, is apparent; and though the reasons, why it is so, are not very remote nor abstruse, it may be instructive to trace their operation a little more carefully and minutely, than we have often patience to do, in these broad and general speculations.
All civilized governments may be divided into free and arbitrary: or, more accurately for our present purpose, into the government of England and the other European governments. AH these, we suppose, were suitably administered in the beginning. The most famous warrior would be king; the next in prowess and reputation would be earls and generals: he who could write best would be chancellor; and he who had the greatest gift of prayer, would be court chaplain or archbishop. The same principle would regulate all the inferior conditions: the first captains, we have no doubt, were taller and more expert than the Serjeants; and they than the soldiers in the ranks. The acquisition of wealth, and the establishrnent of hereditary right, made a great change. in these particulars. A cast, called nobility, was formed, from which alone all the great functionaries of government could be appointed in most countries of Europe; and in process of time, the more important charges could only be given among a small number of families. This produced a twofold effect on the government; in both its branches most prejudicial to its vigour and prosperity. In the first place, by narrowing prodigiously the range of selection, it diminished in the same proportion the chance of a suitable appointment; and, in the second place, by securing in a great degree such appointments to persons of a certain rank and connexion, it excused them from the labour of acquiring those qualifications, which would have been indispensable in the case of a fair competition, and took away the only effectual motive by which they could have been excited, to make themselves fit for the situations to which they aspired. It is well known, accordingly, that over the greater part of the Continent, commands and embassies, and almost all the momentous employments on which the welfare of a state is necessarily dependent, were claimed as appendages of a certain rank and situation, and were considered as altogether out of the reach of low-born ambition. For a long while, this had the effect of repressing, in the great body of the nation, all those habits and talents by which men could be qualified for public situations; and, for several centuries, the Continent of Europe presented the uniform spectacle of a stupid and brutish commonalty, submitting, without murmuring, to the dominion of a capricious and ignorant nobility. At last, as society enlarged, and the common business of men came to require some degree of intellectual exertion, the absurdity of such an arrangement grew visible, and its consequences began to be felt. Men began to mock at the follies of their rulers, and to aspire to be their correctors. A few situations were every where gradually abandoned to industry and talent; and the princes and nobles became somewhat less ignorant and presumptuous. The whole real power and administration of the state, however, continued in the hands of the privileged orders; and the people, increasing in talent and intelligence much more rapidly than in political influence, came to be ranged in some measure in hostility to their governors, and to be looked upon in return with new feelings of distrust and jealousy. This was the state of things in France immediately before the revolution; and was undoubtedly the true efficient cause of that prodigious explosion. With an immense body of information and genius in the nation, they saw the administration shifted from one set of incapables to another; and, sanguine from inexperience, and exasperated by opposition, they rushed forward to the redemption of the country