Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

trict, and the form of the commiffion of array was settled in Parliament, so as to prevent the insertion therein of any new penal clauses; but it was also provided, that no man should be compelled to go out of the kingdom, at any rate, nor out of his thire, but in cases of urgent neceflity, nor should provide soldiers unless by consent of Parliament." In another passage, speaking of the power of the Aheriff, the same writer faid " he is also to defend his country against any of the King's enemies, when they come into the land, and for this purpose he may command all the people of his county to attend him, which is called the poffe comitatus, or power of the county ; which summons every person above fifteen years old, and under the degree of a peer, is bound to attend upon warning, under pain of fine and imprisonment.”. Such were the general principles of the ConItirution as laid down by that able lawyer, He would refer the House to one or two authorities more: By the ift Edward 111. stat. 2, chap. 5, it was enacied, that it was the King's will, no man, from thenceforth, should be charged to arm himself otherwise than he was wont in the time of his progenitors, Kings of England; and that no man should be compelled to go out of his shire, but where necesity required, and the sudden coming of strange enemies into the realm, and then it should be done as had been used in times past for the defence of the realm. Undoubtedly, at that time of day, this was a decifive parliamentary recognition of the law; and in the 5th Henry IV. upon a perition of the Commons, the form of a commission of array was then settled in Parliament, and of course had the effect of an act of Parliament. The commission of array was 10 be found in the rolls of Parliament, s Henry IV. No. 24 and 25: . It was to this effect : “ The King to the Sheriff of Kent greeting: Because by the reports of many to whom we give credit, it has come to our knowledge that our enemies, the French, having assembled with many of their allies and friends, with a large fleet of ships, and with other unusual appointments, our kingdom of England and our liege subjects to overthrow and destroy, and that they propose and intend to invade the faine, unless (by God's favour) they shall be ftrenuouily re. fifted. We, in order to provide for the salvation of our said kingdom, and our liege subjects aforesaid, and from the malice and arrogance of such enemies to guard ourselves by those means which may be most expedient, do.command you, and most strictly enjoin you, that immediately on the light of these presents, you order it to be publicly proclaimed in every place within your bailiwick, where it shall be fit and necellary, as well within its liberties as with ost, that all and every man able to bear arms, men having arms hobellarii, and archers of your bailiwick (ecclefiaftics only exempted) under pain of imprisontnént, do provide, arm, and array themselves, each according to his degree and ability, and in such array do hold themfelves, and remain to the end, that they may be prompt and ready to depart for the defence of our kingdom aforesaid, as often as the incursions of the enemy may threaten any danger, or as they shall be ordered by us, or in our name; and this you are not to omit, under the penalty that may await you. -Witness the King at Coventry, the 26th of October, by the King himself. Similar writs were directed to all the Sheriffs in England. This he conceived to be a complete parliamentary recog: nition of the ancient prerogative of the Crown. Now this being the ancient law of the realm, it might be asked, why was it neceffary to call the attention of Parliament at this tinue to any parliamentary measure? It was because the process by which the prerogative of the Crown and the duty of the subject could be enforced, was fo tedious as to render it in a great measure useless. The party refusing to obey the King's summons might be fined and imprisoned but it could only be by the due course of law, a delay wbich would render the procefs nugatory. It did therefore, upon the principle and reason of the thing, with reference to the ancient exercise of the prerogative fo vested in the Crown, seem to be neceffary to adopt fome fimpie, decisive, and effectual meafure. He apprehended he would not be required to urge the necessity of such a measure. The fituation in which the country at present stood was perfectly known to every one who heard him. It was threatened by an enemy the most formidable and vindi&tive this country had ever had to deal with ; an enemy not only threatening Invasion, but making preparations for it ;, not only having the infolenice to threaten us with contaminating our lhores, but with actual subjection. True it was, our force, both by sea and land, was powerful ; but when he considered that the enemy were pofleffed of a considerable portion of the continent of Europe, and was every day extending its inAuence; when he reflected that the powers of the continent, unable or unwilling to resist, wěre compelled to submit to Vol. IV. 1862-3.

you, grace

[graphic]

4 A

grace the car of the First Conful of France, it was not enough to rely on the force we had, great as it was. When he turned his eyes to the continent, and saw the great pre. parations that were making; when he considered that France was master of the whole coast of frontier from Hol. ftein as far as the shores of the Adriatic, with the exception of Portugal, it was impoflible not to say that they might poffefs themselves of the course of all the great rivers and the moft confiderable ports of Europe. Under these circumstances, though every one must have a reliance on the skill and vigilance of our navy, the most powerful navy in the world, and capable of sustaining a conflict with the navy of the whole world.-a navy that, perhaps, had it in its power to blockade every port the enemy had, and to burn, link, and destroy all the ships they ventured to send out, yet this was not enough-we ought to have the means of overwhelming and exterminating any expedition that might be directed against our shores. Though with the army we had, it was poffible to line the whole coast of Great Britain and Ireland -it, however, could not be done in such away as to prevent the enemy from taking a temporary possession of some part of it. No one could suppose that with our present army we could do any more than afsemble the main body at such points as were most material, with a view to a general plan of oppofition, and the ultimate decision of the conteft; the enemy might, undoubtedly, be able to throw a considerable force on the coast. If they embarked: J00,000 men in eight or ten different directions, then, after deducting 50,000 that night be drowned or destroyed in the pasage over, or disperted, he would suppose that 50,000 men would be able io land. These remains of the expedition would come over niore or less disunited, more or less fea-fck, and more or less provided with necessaries; and though it was probable we might give a guess where the enemy would land, yet we could not rely upon our opinion in that refpe&, for they might change their determination ; or, from being driven out of their course, they might be disposed to throw themselves any where. Under those circumstances ii appeared to him that the whole power of the country ought to be put in a state to be made use of in case of neceflity, and that after calculating on our own puwerful armies, we Thould have a second or a third line, or Jegion upon legion, and army upon armv, in order to fill up the regulars, and bodies of troops in the field; and that we should calculate, in the firft instance, those losses in battle to which we muft neceffarily look. In case of an actual invasion of this country, the operations in the field would, of courie, be extremely active, and the confli& fevere; we, therefore, ought not to look to the flow mode of recruiting by ballot, but we ought to refort to the ancient law, and to those powers of the prerogative, by which the King could command all his subjects to bear arms. He thought we could not contemplate a better period of our history, than the days of the Plantagenets and Tudors. Let any one conlider those armies which had been produced in the field by fome of the wiseft princes on the throne. Let us see how Queen Elizabeth was supported, when she was attacked by the Spanish armada, an expedition not diffimilar to the present one. How was that army which begirt the throne produced ? It was produced by having recourse to the ancient prerogative of the Crown. Having itated thus much, he would now proceed to develop the outlines of his plan. The plan divided itself into two heads; the first related to the enrolment, and assembling of the men when enrolled ; and the second to the exercising and drilling them. What he proposed was, to make use of as much as possible of the machinery of the militis, and to avail bimself of the powers entrusted to the Lord Lieutenants and Deputy Lieutenants; recourse could not be had to any thing better. He thould recommend, that the Lieutenancy in every county should meet as foon as poffible, for the purpose of directing an enrolment of all men in every parish, between the ages of 17 and 55. He Thould divide the men comprehended in the enrolment into four classes, in a way something similar to that which took place in the militia. The first would contain all the young men between 17 and 30, who were unmarried, and without children of the age of ten years. The fecond, all men between 30 and 50; who were in the fame, predicament. Thirdly, all the inen between 17 and 30, who were married, and had no more than two children. And the fourth class thould include all the reft. He should also propose, that the enrolment should defcribe the perfons in the following manner, diftinguishing those who were ferving in the army of reserve, or in the militia, or in any of the King's forces, or in any of the volunteer corps approved of by his MaJefty; and also those who were serving by substitute in the militia ; and for this reafun, because while a person had a substitute actually serving, he could not be called upon for

military

4 A 2

military services as long as it lasted. He did not propose to distinguish thofe who had served by substitutes ; for the militia laws said they might be called upon wlienever it came to their turn; with regard to constables and peace officers, they would appear in the roll fo diftinguitked. When he came to speak of the assembling, he thould propose to exempt such persons as long as they continued in those fituations. The enrolment he was delirous thould proceed much in the way of making on the militia. Every man would have an opportunity of appealing, in case he was improperly described, or was beyond the age, or belonged to any other class. He trusted as little time as possible would be lost in taking the necessary steps; and yet that they would not be fo expeditious as to effe, injustice. He meant to propose, that when the Deputy Lieutenants ordered the lins to be made out, that they thould appoint a day for receiving them, which should also be the day of appeal. He proposed that the lifts should be corrected in the spring and the autumn; that they should be kept in as correct a ftate as possible, and that the abstract of the county roll should be transmitted to the principal Secretary of State, divided into the different claffes, so that it should describe the number of men, and those who were entitled to exemptions. Having fo provided for the enrolment, he next proposed, that his Majesty should have it in his power, in cafe of actual invasion, or the approach of an enemy's force towards our coast, to call upon the Lieutenancy to assemble or embody all those persons who did not fall within the description of thofe whom he had mentioned, as entitled to be exempted, and to order that all those of the first clafs fhould be forthwith called out to repel the invasion, and, during the time they were assembled, should be subject to military discipline, and be sent to any part of Great Britain, into any existing corps, or any new corps that might be raised ; that ihe time of iheir service should be limited to the period of the inyafion, and that as soon as the enemy were exterminated, or driven into the sea, they were immediately to be at liberty to return home. That upon assembling, every man fhould be entitled to two guineas, to furnish them with necessaries, and when their services were over, and they were at liberty to return home, that over and above the usual sumn allowed in this militia, they should be paid the sum of one guinea. He should also propofe, that when these men were so alleinbled, they fhould take an oath of fidelity during iheis Tervice,

« ZurückWeiter »