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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 hisown 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 trust, ing the sword in the hands of men who abhor the restraint of civil laws, 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 propofes a plan for a militia, which he holds to be unexceptionable. 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 Britaïn. A most successful plan it would be, were defence our fole object; and not the less successful, by rendering Britain so poor as scarce to be a tempting conquest. Our late war with France is a conspicuous instance of the power that can be exerted by 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, like Sweden or Denmark, must have been contented with an
inferior station, having no ambition but to draw fubfidies 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 by no means an idle people, we learn from this instance, that the martial spirit is not an invincible obstruction to industry. But the original barrennefs 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 fix years of age but who is employ’d, not excepting children of opulent families. England differs widely in the nature of its foil, and of its people. At the same time, there is little occasion to insist upon that difference; as Switzerland affords no clear evidence, that a militia gives no obstruction to a spirit of industry: the Swiss, it is true, may be termed industrious ; but their industry is confined to necessaries and conveniencies : they are lefs 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 ėducated, shall for ever after have fifty yearly meetings, and shall exercise four hours every meeting. It is not faid, 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 fpirit, it would alienate the minds of our people from arts and manufactures, and from any 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 difposed to admit any defect of Providence, 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 fpirit are of equal importance to Britain ; and that if either of them be lost, we are undoné. To reconcile these seeming antagonists, is my chief view in the following plan ; to which I Thall 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; bound; because none can be bound, if every one be not bound. 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 font par fu“ percherie font 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 font encore plus ; c'est une desolation pu“ blique, dont le bourgeois et l'habitant ne se fauvent 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 “ defapprouvée, 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 re“ crues, qui ne seroient pas sujetes a déserter. L'on se feroit même, “ par la suite, un honneur et un devoir de server fa 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 mur“ mureroit. Alors ceux qui auroient servi leur temps, verroient “ avec mépris ceux qui repugneroient à cette loi, et insensible"ment on se feroit un honneur de servir: le pauvre bourgeois fe“ roit consolé par l'example du riche; et celui-ci n'oseroit se “ plaindre, voyant servir le noble (a) *.”
Take (a) Les reveries du Comte de Saxe.
• “ The method of inlisting men, by putting a trick upon them, is fully as o“ dious. 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 hiinself but by money; and it is confe. " quently the worst of all the resources of government. Would it not be more
Take another preliminary consideration. While there remained any portion of our original martial spirit, the difficulty was not great of recruiting the army. But that talk hath of late years become extremely 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 of obliging every man to fight for his country: the justices of peace were empowered by the legislature, 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 practising deceitful arts for recruiting their corps, by substituting a fair and constitutional mode, 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
er 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, beo cause it is consistent both with nature and justice, that every citizen should be 56 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 w 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 s preference, first among the nobility and the men of wealth. There would not s 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 infpirited by the example of his rich neighbour; 6 and he again would have nothing to complain of, when he saw that the nobleso man was not exempted from service.”