Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

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 is the case at present 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 fpirit 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 this untoward state, arts made fome progress, not excepting those for amusement; and many conveniencies, formerly unknown, became necessary to comfortable living. A man can- . not bear to be deprived of the conveniencies and amusements to which he is accustomed : 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 standing armies, war is carried on more regularly and scientifically than in feudal governments; and as it is carried on with infinitely greater expence, nations are more reserved in declaring war than formerly::Lang experience has at the same time made it evident, thäta-nation felãoin gains by war; and that agriculture, manufactures, and commerce, are the only folid foundations of power and:grandeur:':: These arts accordingly have become the chief objects of European governments, and the only rational caufes of war. Among the warlike nations of Greece and Italy, how would it have founded, that their effeminate descendents would employ soldiers by profession to fight their battles ? And

yet

this is necessary, 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 fole object of industry, advances selfishness to be the ruling passion, and brings on a timid anxiety about property and self-preservation.

Cyrus,

Cyrus, tho' Aaming with resentment against the Lydians for revolting, listened to the following sagacious advice, offered by Cræfus, their former King. “ O Cyrus, destroy not Sardis, an an“ cient 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 com

merce. You will soon fee, O King, that instead of men, they will be women.” The Arabians, a brave and

The Arabians, a brave and generous people, conquered Spain, and drove into the inaccesible 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 *

* 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 fame 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 after 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.

[blocks in formation]

Where arts, manufactures, and commerce, have arrived at perfection, a pacific spirit prevails universally: not a spark is left 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. Benjainin de Tudele, a Spanish Jew, who wrote in the twelfth century, reports, that the Greeks, by luxury and effeminacy, had; contracted a degree of softness, that made them resemble women more than men; and that the Greek Emperor was reduced to the neceflity of employing mercenary troops, to defend his country against the Turks. And accordingly when, in the year 1453; the eity of Conftantinople, defended by a garrison, not exceeding 6000 men, was besieged by the Turks, and reduced to extremity, not a single inhabitant had courage to take up 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 ferving 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 not better paid than the vanquished, they learned to play booty. In a battle particularly between the Pifans and Florentines, which lasted from sun-rising to fun-setting, there was but a single man lost, who, having accidentally fallen from his horse, was trode under foot. Charles VIII. of France, when he invaded Italy anno 1498, understood nothing of such mock battles; and his men were held to be devils incarnate, who seemed to take delight in fhedding 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.

country have

The finall principality of Palmyra is the only instance known in hiftory, 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 fandy deferts. 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 pleasure-grounds, the inhabitants, like those of Hamburgh, had no way to employ their riches for profit but in trade. At the fame time, being fituated between the two inighty empires of Rome and Parthia, it required great address, and the most afsiduous military discipline, to preserve the inhabitants from being swallowed up by the one or the other. This ticklish situation preserved them from luxury and effeminacy, the usual concomitants of riches. They made a better figure with their superfluous wealth : they laid it out on magnificent buildings, and adorning their country-seats. The fine arts in general, were among them carried to a high degree of perfection. The famous. Zenobia, their Queen, 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. much decayed in Britain ; and ere it be gone, will no phantom appear, even in a dream, to disturb our downy rest ? Formerly, the culture 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, without hurting industry, has produced a general opinion among political writers, that a nation, if it will preserve its military fpirit, must exclude industry; and, if it will preserve its industry, must give up all hopes of retaining its military fpirit. In the former case, we are fecure against any invader : in the latter, we indeed make a considerable figure, but lie open to every invader. Happy would Britain be, could the spirit of war and of commerce be made compatible by fome military plan, that would protect us against eneinies, without hurting our industry and manufactures. That fuch a plan is not absolutely impracticable, will, I hope, 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 fome 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 Roman citizens were many of them husbandmen, and all of them soldiers. The inhabitants of Rome, in particular, lived upon their pay

when in the field ; but if they happened not to be successful in plundering, they had no means of living at home. An annual distribution of corn among them became necessary, which in effect corresponded to the halfpay of our offi

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 difpofitions to men, in order to supply hands for every necessary art. It was, at the same time, extremely precarious, there being in it no medium between uni

versal

cers.

« AnteriorContinuar »