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own people, will be better done by the French people
themselves in their own way.. How simple and how potent towards human happiness, are those principles of political liberty which God has written on the heart of man! But if we must have intercourse and alliance with arbitrary potentates, let it be as little as possible ;, and let us not, by the corrupting influence of such connections, gradually lose sight of the true principles of government, of the true foundations of national strength, and of the true means of national security.
We live, I repeat it, in awful times. On the one hand, I do not see in the empire of the French any symptoms of decay, from internal disease, or natural decrepitude; but on the contrary, all the vigour of it's youth ; while on the other hand, I do not discover in it's assailants, such free nations as broke in upon the overgrown and enfeebled empire of the Romans. France is not a magazine of wealth ; nor are ber continental enemies a torrent of independent invaders lured by her riches, and impelled by their own insatiable desire of rooting out her inhabitants, and planting themselves in their place; but mere armies of slaves or hirelings, employed by their despotic masters in the war, merely to curb the ambition of a rival power, and to restrain his despotism, that their own may not be narrowed in its range. In this view of the case, is there any thing to encourage our hopes ? Are we more likely io abridge, or to augment, the power of Napolean?
But let us suppose that the confederate war was to be conducted by the principal sovereigns in person ; and that a William the third, a Charles the fifth, and a Peter the Great were those sovereigns. Even in that case, would a confederacy now, promise more than it did in 1792? At that time, besides her natural internal weakness, France was confined within her former limits; but what an extension she has since experienced ! What countries ! What population! What naval ports! What military positions ! What a facility of passing the barriers of Austria! Her whole do main now within a ring-fence; her force undivided ; ber strength concentered and consolidated; her resour
ces for the war all within her own bosom, and her supplies moving on radii within her owo circle. Where lie the dominions of her assailants? At the extremities of Europe. Before they can come even into contact, their armies have immense regions to cross, and oceans to traverse. Il Frunce meet with a check, she retreats upon herself, and at every step grows more dense and impenetrable: but if the allied armjes retreat in any other direction than that of Vienna, at every step they are more liable to dispersion and destruction; and à retreat upon the line of Vienna, would be ominous.
Agaiti: in the conduct of the war on the part of France, there can be no diversion of object, no division of interest, no difference of opinion, no jealousy to weaken counsel, nor any loss of time or derangement of operation, on a change of plan; one mind conceives, one will directs all; and one hand governs the main spring of the whole machine: how different would be the case, even under the sovereigns I have named! And could we, even under such conductors of the war, flatter ourselves with hopes of humbling a Napolean?
Do we not remember how the Prussian Frederick, in the seven years war, foiled the combined powers of Austria and Russia, apparently able to have eaten up his armies and annihilated his kingdom, and that he arose more powerful from the struggle? But a Frederick of Prussia, compared with a Napolean of France, is a mere cat, compared with a mighty tyger?
If under the supposition of a confederate war, conducted in person by three such sovereigns as I have mentioned, we are not warranted in expecting much success, what are now our prospects? What are now our hopes? Are they derived from the personal penetration and énergies of the existing sovereigns, in the selection of their generals, in the choice of their ministers, and in the tight hand held over them? At home, I shall go no farther, than 10 appeal to the administration of Mr. Pitt. Compare the nation's present condition with its situation on his accession to power, Bring his conduct to the test of the constitution. Nóught do we discera but ruinous counsels, and daring violations of our liberties and laws. But do we perceive that on these accounts he less enjoys the partiality of his sovereign?
As to the emperor Alexander, he is generally esteemed a well meaning gentleman, not deficient that I know of in understanding; bụt the emperor Francis is understood to be without a capacity for selecting either his ministers or his generals. From his personal amusements, we can have no conception of imperial occupations ; so that with the most amiable dispositions, he may have been betrayed into the war, by a faction behind his throne, or by a minister whose influence he cannot resist.
Where, thep, have we any solid grounds of confidence, that we shall prosper in this new confederate war? Are they derived from the talents of Mr. Pitt as a war minister.?. Or his experienced wisdom in the means of delivering Europe? Or is nothing more ne cessary, than his commissuies in the Austrian and Russian camps, to see that we have in the field the num, ber of troops for whom we pay our money? Is the war to be planned, by the aid of couriers, in the cabipets of London, Vienna, and St. Petersburg ? And managed by such generals as have most interest in those çabinets? Perhaps the circumstance that in the cabinets of Vienna and St. Petersburg, there are statesmen who can a second time einbark in such a war with Mr. Pitt, may not create any very strong persuasion, as to the wisdom of the undertaking, or the fidelity of the advisers.
As under no English administration which I can pic, ture to myself, could I approve of such a war, un less instantly accompanied by radical reform at home, both civil and military; so, as we are embarked, and it must be prosecuted until we can arrive at peace, here we have an additional motive of lhe greatest weight and urgency, for an immediate resorm and change of ministers, unless we are prepared to submit to something far worse than the peace of Amiens. But, looking to the ultimate failure of the war ; to the additional aggrandizement of France, and to our additional impoverishment, as possi,
bilities at least, if we do not immediately prepare for out self preservation, by interesting in the constitution the mass of our population ; by freeing our government from all suspicion of corruption, and all imperfections of injustice and oppression; and by completely arming the people on the true principles of the constitution, it will not be our navy
that can protect us against the impending storm ; and we must expect as bloody a struggle on English ground for existence as a 'state, as' that which was exu perienced under Alfred; but where is the Alfred to carry us through it?
If indeed we are already bound by treaty, if the national bonour be already pledged, and we must proceed with this continental war, let it then, so far as we are concerned, be a war of good faith with our allies, and of energy against our enemy. By our honour, and our vigour, let us set a right example to our confederates. Let our exertions be commensurate to our best means: Let us co-operate with a powerful army: and let us learn the only true secret of having at all times such an army at our command. It is not to be permanently had, by making tools of the nobility and country gentlemen, in raising a nominal militia, and then, by gross fraud and swindling, to rob the country of a defensive force it has raised at immense expence :
į It is not to be had by the pettyfogging projects of a financier, to extort from the parishes either men or money, on a plan utterly foreign to English ideas, or to English modes of government: It is not to be had, by treacherously evading the simple, grand and truly incompas rable system of arming prescribed by the constitntion ; and substituting in its stead, the perilous novelty of a volunteer army; which, viewing it with a constitutional eye, that looks for order, energy, and permanence, we see to be a military rope of sand ; adopted on a principle, insidious to the patriotic ardor of Englishmen, and hostile to liberty; as well as treasonable to the state, by exposing it eventually to the direst calamity, if not to subjugation. To Mr. Pitt and Mr. Dundas (now Lord Milville,) we owe the first introduction of this INNOVATION, a circumstance which, will not operate in its recommeendation ; but to such ministers we must look
in vain for the true basis of a disposeable army for foreign service, which is no where to be found but in a complete POSSE COMITATUS; “for, out of an armed “ and warlike population, regular armies, at the dispo“ sal of the crown, as spontaneously grow, as bursts from “ the wide branching arms of our native oak, a luxuriant “ foliage.":
It is now, my Lord, two years, since I published the concise work from which these words are quoted; since which I have carefully attended to every thing published, and every thing spoken in parliaineni, on the subject of our defence; and to some works touching our army. I have been particularly observant of what has fallen from military men, ministers, and legislators; but more especially from An old Officer," from Sir Robert Wilson, General Stewart, and the Duke of Richmond ;2 from Mr. Pitt, Mr. Fox, Colonel Cranford, and Mr. Windham At present, I have only to entreat of every soldier and every statesman, that, before he exercises any invention, or indulges in any favourite system, or falls in with the views of any party in the state, he will, with the immortal Sir William Jones, make himself completely master of the MILITARY BRANCH OF
CONSTITUTION. When he shall have so done, he will see the means of sending to the continent the largest army our popuJation can furnish, and our property pay, and at the same time of acting upon a systein of home defence, “ by which the most energetic invasion, of that ener“ getic despotism of France,] might be defeated with “ as much ease, as a well armed city quells a paltry riot « in its streets."'3
Considering that but few copies of the Ægis remain unsold, and that I have not in any subsequent publication, nor in any parliamentary speech, met with a single
1 England's Ægis, 59, published by Phillips. Having giving to tho publisher, the copy-right of this Essay, I have no other interest in recommending it to the serious perusal of my countrymen, than that arising from a wish to preserve our common liberty, and existence as a people. % The essays of all these persons, are published by Egerton.
3. Englund's Ægis. 49.