Abbildungen der Seite

would not deny that, even with reference to the object of defence, they were preferable. He admitted that troops under the command of officers who in foreign countries had seen severe services, and had reaped the glories of their cousage and their labours, and who themselves had shared in these glosjes, were by their experience and their skill inulled to much more confidence ihan troops, 'who, wiih the fame bravery, never enjoyed the ineans of improving themselves in the school of difficulty and danger. Allowing all this in the fullest exteni, he confetled he did not see how a great many general doctrines, on which so much frers had been laid, were at all applicable to the subject before the House. When Gentlemen valked so much of the value of regular troops at the present moment, he should be glad to hear where they were to be procured. They seemed to argue as if we were to ballot noi forride men, but for the experience, for the skill, for the discipline of veteran soldiers. If the milina were acually disbanded, and the system of balloring were to be suspended, would more discipline, more skill, more experience be obtained? Would the individuais brought into the ranks poffess more of the character of regular troops? As to the great question before the House then, these general doctrines led to a mere delusion. It, indeci, ihe menaces of is.vasion could be suspended, if Bon. parte would confent to delay his project of attacking this country till we had time to form a large army for general service, and would suffer this army to go abroad, and, after learning experience in the art of war, return in safety to the detence of the country, this would be all very well; and certainly he should not be at all disposed to controvert the position, that in all cases regular troops, while they could be procured, were preferable to those potfelling inferior discipline and more limnited experience. As, however, ihe number of men necessary for the exigencies of the public service could not be obtained, a measure of the nalure now before ihe House was rendered indispensably necessary. In judging of the merits of the measure, Genilemen onght to bear in mind that it did not at all interfere wi.h the tulure augmentation of the regulat forces. If there is in the bill nothing to prevent the recruita ing of the arıy from the very fórce now to be raised; it this recruiting is even fandtioned by a pofitive clause in the bill, which, for his part, he thought highly expedieni, he submitted to the House whether there was not a belser chance of procuring a very large augmentation to the army


by individuals inlisting into the regular army out of the regimenis now to be raised, than there would be by endeavoming to procure this auginentation by recruiting in the first inttance. In this way not only would the public be saved a very conliderable expence, but individuals would be freed from inaienial inconven ence. Supposing then that the number of men to be raised by the provisions of the bill are actually embodied, and that the recruiting service continues in go on as ufual, ha afk«d, whether any man doubled that fifteen or twenty thousand men could be found ready to inlin into the regular army, if such a number as that was thought necessary for undertaking offensive operations ! After the experience of what had been the alacrity of the militia in volunteering their services, he was sure that this could Do be considered as an exaggerated an icipation.

It was to be considered that the militia had made their of. fers of service under circumstances very different from 10e under which individuals in the regiments w to be railed would be called on to offer themselves for admillion into the regular army. The officers of the inilitia, after all ihe exer. sions which incy had made in bringing their regime's to a fare of high compara:ive discipline; had naturally strong objeétions in their being mutilated by the inlitting of valt numbers into ihe regular ariny. Tie Bivarion of the officers in the regimenis now to be raised was totally different.. So far were they from having any with that the men should nor enter into the regular arıny, that they would be inclined to encourage thefe offers of service, and look forward 10 a period when they themselves mighe have a command in a regular regiment. I hat before the end of the year a number cqual to that which he had already stated would be found to volunicer their services, was therefore not a matter of conjellure and experiment, but of almost abfolute certainly. If

ich was then the case, he put it in the confideration of the ilouse whether there could be any thing like a reasonable prospect of so great a body of troops being raised for ibe regular arıny by the most active recruiving for that period. He was sure that a great majority of the House would agree with him in thinking that the thing was utterly imposible. On thi: part of the subject he had only one doubi, and it was one of very, confiderable importance. It had not hitherto been meninned, but it is necessary to mention is now, accompanied by a few observations. The objection was, that 10 permit recruiting froin the regiinents now to be raised, .



would be uiterly subversive of their discipline. He was wil. ling to allow that this would be the cale, if he recruiting were allowed to be indiscriminate, if it were to be permited at all times, and above all if the flagitious practice of crimping was endured.: By proper regulations, however, all the inconveniencies which were made the grounds of objection, might be removed. The inlitting might take place on particular days of mufter; on these days the officers might be authorized to receive offers of service from a certain proporiion of the men, and as in all probability three or four times more than were wanted would offer, it would remain with the officers to make the clioice of the individuals whose offers might be accepted. What the particular days were on which the propotitions should be made, it was not neceffary for the officers previously to disclose. A power might be granted to his Majesty to appoint the days of mufter whenever there appear. ed any particular necessity, by the previous notice of a torte night. By this means no soldier would know when he was to quit his officer, and the danger of want of discipline would be avoided. If he was at all right in these ideas. if he was at all borne out in the conclusions which he had endeavoured to establish, the measure could not be denied to be one which, while it made the most effectual provision for the safety of the country, held out the molt effectual prospect of providing, with the greatest expedition, for the increase og the regular army, ..One of the principal reasons which induced liny particularly to give his support to the plan was, that it was dir. tinguiihed by the utmoft fimplicity. The regulations applicable to the militia, which the experience of forty years had proved to be highly useful, were to be continued, and the only distinction betwixt the force now to be raised and the ordinary militia of the country was, that the force now to be established was to be placed under regular opeers. For this alteration the caules were obvious and latisfactorv. It was found that officers having the qualifications required by the militia laws, could not be obtained; and that viher considerations made it highly desirable to have officers to discipline this new force who had known a good deal of actual service. As far as the system of appointing the officers was concerned, there was no fair ground of objection to the bill. The right hon. Gentlenyan next adverted to the proposed commutation of service by paying a fine of 201, He was much disposed to doubt the policy or, the expediency,


of such a commutation. He thought that the principle of the militia system ought, in this as in other instances, to be ftrictly adhered to. He was, therefore, inclined to contend, thit unless personal service was given, every individual bahored for thould be compelled to procure a substitute. At all events, if the principle of commutation was to be admitted, he could not agree to its being admitted on its present footing.. The fine as now proposed to be levied; would fall equally on all ranks of the community, Among those orders of society from whom our army was to be supplied, the fine would operate as a compulsion of perfunal service. Among the higher orders of society, no such effect would be produced. Those unwilling to serve, and to whom the payment of the fine is a matter of no consideration, would, by offering a high bounty, procure a substitute, and avoid all the trouble and inconvenience which the production of one might obtain. He was anxious either to put it out of the power of those ballotted for to procure relief by the payment of a fine, or, if that could not be effect, ed, to impose she fine in a proportion corresponding to the situation in life in which they are placed. Persons of rank and ability, if they would not contribute their personal ser, vices, ought to be under the necesity of employing their influence in procuring able fubfiitutes; and, if forgetful of all that they owe to themselves and the country, they are relucę iant in granting their equitable share in support of the public honour and dignity, then it was bui fair that they ought to be made to contribute in that proportion in which they can be made to commute their services. In the Committee, he trusted that this part of the subject would undergo particular investigation; and he just now ihought it his duiy to call the attention of the House to it by a few observations on the present occasion. The object of the fine, if it was at all calculated to produce any advantage, was to force those ou whom it was levied to use all their exertions in procuring substitutes, and ad in this instance in the capacity of recruiting officers for the service. Unless it was iinposed in such a way as to produce this effect, it would be totally useless, and not useless alone, but highly inexpedient and dangerous. He had lille more to add to ihe observations which he had taken the liberty of submitting to the House. He was wil. fing to give a right hon. Friend of his (Mr. Windham) full credit for the purity of his intentions in opposing the bill. He allowed that in all that he said 'on the subject, he was


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

animated by the most earnest desire to promote the best interests of his country. He knew that no one could be more desirous of taking every step to rescue Europe from the calamities, the disgrace and the misery with which so great a proportion of it was now opprefled. He was sensible that in no man's heart there burned a more ardent flame of an tachment to the best interests of mankind, or was more defisous of making any exertions which in their consequences might relieve nations now groani ngunder the moft gallant tyranny. That his right hon. Friend would be the foremost in supporting these great objeéts, he cordially admitted ; and it was not from any difference of opinion respecting their importance, that he was at all inclined to give the bill his warmest support. Their opinions on the subject were in unilon, but it was because the bill was better calculated ibani any other mode which occurred to his mind to hold out a prospect that, when a favourable opportunity presented its self, a large disposable force may be most speedily prepared.

Mc Pict, afier a few more observations, concluded by vote ing for the second reading of the bill.

The Secretary at War said, that there should be a clause introduced into the bill to enable the men belonging to this furce to volunteer their services for the army.

Mr. Windham said, his opinion concerning this measure ftill continued unchanged. So far from being calculated for offensive operations, it was not even fit for defence ; and it in consequence of such an ill-digested plan the country Thould perish, then adieu to all offensive operations, and to cvery chance of saving Europe from subjiigarion and ruin! He would lay out of his view every thing which, at this moment, was necessary to bring the struggle we were engag din to a speedy termination : he would look at the immediate means of defence about to be adopred ; and on this principle he could not without dread and terror behold the measure now proposed. His righi hon. Friend on the other lide of the House had afferied, that this measure would all the recruit, ing of the army: though he differed directly in opinion with him he would not argne on that topic at present. He would admit that by the present measure, more men might be procured at the present moment than could be got any other way : but, in considering the value of such a force, it was necellary not to consider ihe number, but the qualiiy of the men to be. raised. An experienced officer could at once point out the difference between recruits taken into a regular regiment of VOL. IV. 1802-3.



« ZurückWeiter »