at War moved the order of the day, for the house going into a committee on the Mutiny bill. Previous to the Speaker's leaving the chair,
wished to know from the right hon. gent. (Mr. Windham), as being a material point in judging of the estimate of the probable expence of his new system, whether he had yet made up his mind on the subject of granting bounties .to soldiers on their entering into then second and third periods of service? Also, whether it was his idea that, on the expiration of the 14 years, those who retired were to have the half of the allowance of 1s. per day, and the whole on 21 years service?
Mr. Secretary Windham
said, the questions put to him by the noble lord were matters merely of regulation. He might entertain an idea that it would be much more useful to give some bounty for the second and third periods of service, but it 420 was impossible for him to conceive what; at the end of 7 years, such bounty might be; as to the other question, he was inclined to think that an allowance at the rate of 4d. instead of 6d. per day might be sufficient at the expiration of 14 years, and that the full allowance of 1s. per day should be given on the expiration of the 21 years service.
repeated his wish to know the idea of the right hon. gent. as to whether any and what proportion of bounty should be given to those re-enlisting on the expiration of the first 7 years.
§ Mr. Windham
said, when the rate of bounty had been so often changed during the present war, how was it possible for him to say what it ought to be at the expiration of 7 years from this date?
§ Mr. Perceval
observed, that the right hon. gent. seemed not to conceive the question of his noble friend. The noble lord did not ask what the amount of the bounty then to be given would be, but if any bounty was intended to be given for the second period of service, and what proportion it was purposed it should bear to the original bounty?
§ Mr. Windham
had no difficulty in saying, that it was likely bounties on re-enlistment would be found necessary; but he could not state the probable amount of such bounties, nor the proportion which they should bear to each other. He was not yet aware what bounty would be necessary on the first enlistment, and still less could he know what might be requisite on the second and third.
§ Mr. Canning
observed, that the import of the question put by his noble friend was, whether the right hon. gent. had such confidence in the superior allurements of his plan, that he looked to recruiting without a bounty; or whether it would be necessary to have recourse to the ordinary mode of bounties? This question he conceived went to the very essence of his plan; and it was of importance that the house should know the right hon. gent.'s intentions on this head.
§ Mr. Windham
replied, that: he could not at present state what bounty would be given on the first enlistment, nor what proportion would be observed in the bounties at after-periods. He did conceive, however, that some bounty Would be necessary; for if a bounty was given on the first enlistment, why not also on the second and third? But the amount of these bounties 421 must necessarily vary according to the circumstances of the times, and it would be impossible now to say what bounty might be necessary 7 or 14 years hence. Nothing that might be now settled on the head of bounties could be unalterably fixed, but must vary according to the change of circumstances. But he had no hesitation in saying, that some bounty might be necessary to induce re-enlistment at the end of the first and second periods.
thought, that government should always have it in their power to regulate and proportion the bounties, and either to give or withdraw them. They should be proportioned to the period of service for which every man was inclined to enter, whether limited or permanent, and thus adapted to the wishes and inclinations of individuals.—He was proceeding farther on the subject, when the Speaker spoke to order, observing, that the only question before the house was, whether it should resolve itself into a committee. The house then resolved itself into a committee on the bill. In schedule A, however, it was moved that the common oath should be omitted, for the purpose of substituting another in its place.
submitted, that it was not regular to call on the house to vote that certain words should be omitted, without their knowing what was to come in place of them.
Mr. Secretary Windham
read the alterations, which it was his intention to propose in the form of the oath. After specifying the age of the recruit, and that he did not belong to the militia, he proposed that it should proceed to declare that he engaged to serve his majesty for years, which he would fill up with time word "seven;" and also for such further period as his majesty should please to direct, not exceeding years, which he proposed to fill up with the word "three," but which should terminate at the expiration of a period of six following months of uninterrupted peace. That if the recruit should happen to be under 18 years of age, so many years should be added to the period of service, as should prevent the term of 7 years from beginning to run till he was actually 18 years of age. That every soldier abroad, at the period of the expiration of his service, should be sent home free from expence, and, on his arrival in Great Britain, should receive the usual allowance of marching-money, to Carry him to his particular parish or place. 422 If in Great Britain at the time he was entitled to his discharge, then also that he should be entitled to the allowance of marching-money. These were the only alterations he had to propose, and with what the house was already in possession of, from what he had formerly stated on the subject, and any other alterations he might have to propose in the course of the business, formed the general system by which he submitted that the army might most properly and successfully be recruited at the present time. He had to submit that it should be left open to the executive government, to vary the terms of the bargain in future years, as they should see cause. It was impossible, in a case so varied, to provide for every contingency which might possibly present itself, by legislative provision. In saying this, he wished to be understood how false and unfounded the clamour and alarm were which had been sounded, of our resorting to a measure which was irrevocable; that we were now binding ourselves up by an irrevocable rule, from which we could not at any future period recede. The measure was, no doubt, irrevocable as to the army which it might raise, and to them the good faith pledged was irrevocable; but still it was not an irrevocable measure, but one which might be abandoned at any time. It was necessary to keep in view the reasons for, as well as against such a step. There must be involved in every measure something like a sacrifice, something to he given for something else to be received. It had been said, that the present measure was not pressed on us by necessity; that we were hazarding an experiment which we were not called on to make; that we were parting with men when we were not obliged to do so. All agreed that we would not willingly part with men in time of war, but the question was how we should most effectually induce men to enter into a service where they would be useful during war? We were not ignorant that advantages were not to be procured without proportionate sacrifices. And would any man say that we were not at this moment in a situation in which we were pressed to the adoption of some extraordinary remedy? Look at the measures which had been adopted for 15 years last past, on this very subject; one would have thought us an extraordinary set of projectors, on observing this scene. Look at our projects since the beginning of the late war, or rather take a period some- 423 what earlier. It was resolved to increase the militia, by means of calling out the supplementary part of them, to 100,000 men. If the ordinary recruiting had answered the purpose, it is not to be supposed that a Mode of procuring men, so oppressive to individuals, and so prejudicial to the future interests of the service, would have been resorted to. But it was tried, however, and tried till it could do no more. And yet it did not fully effect its object, for it stopped short at about 80,000 men, and further it could not be carried. Peace ensued. After which, the war came, and found our military establishments low; and this scheme was again resorted to, with an addition which rendered it still more oppressive than before, and that was the quarterly penalties which were imposed on the counties. This was a measure of a most compulsory nature, and yet, notwithstanding this, the effect was, that it did not altogether attain its object, while it very materially injured the ordinary recruiting service. Then came the Army of Reserve act, with the same compulsion, and in the same form, with this aggravation, that the penalty was raised from 10l. to 20l. a man. Now, this measure was not adopted merely in preference to the militia. The right hon. gent. over the way (Mr. Yorke) had indeed said, that this would have the additional advantage of providing men for the regular army; but still it was not adopted on that account, but because the former measure had failed. He would not say that this Army of Reserve act had totally and completely failed. It certainly did do something, the effects of which we experienced at this moment. But yet it fell considerably short of what it was intended to produce, and then it was at an end. It went as far as it could, and indeed it did not even profess to be a permanent measure. It advanced to a certain point, and there it stopped. The ballot was perfectly worn out, and could do no more till a certain interval had expired. There we were left when the Additional Force act came into operation. Now, he would not say of the authors of that scheme what had been. said of the present, that it was brought forward because the administration stood pledged to bring forward something, though certainly, if a pledge could be supposed in either case, it was much stronger in their case than in ours ; for the former administration had been removed on the pretence or the inefficiency of their military mea- 424 sures. But we were said to be guilty of adhering to our former opinions, and put in mind that we were now the sworn servants of the crown, and therefore that we ought to set aside our former notions, and adopt others. But the right hon. gent. was not the sworn servant of the crown, and yet he claimed the privilege of not adhering to his former opinions. This might be very well, but consistency was more necessary in our case than in his, where the witness was not sworn [a laugh]! Now, on the principle stated by the right hon. gent., however, we were not pledged to any thing; but the former administration certainly was pledged to do something; and indeed the scheme with which they came forward looked very like one which had been rashly framed, without touch consideration. He mentioned this, not with the view at present of entering into an investigation of the nature of that scheme, but merely with a view to spew that that administration properly enough considered themselves as pledged to do something—they must either go backwards or forwards; as the former measure was at an end. They must either have resorted to the ordinary recruiting, backed by such aids as must make it more productive, or they must have found out some original scheme, as they in fact did. And it was rather a whimsical thing that the gentlemen on the other side argued, that, if this measure was not continued, something ought to be substituted in its stead. But here they said there was nothing. This was very odd. Was there not the ordinary recruiting? "Yes," said they, "but then that is nothing; and therefore if you take away this measure, you leave nothing." Why, you left the original foundation clear, and had the old mode of recruiting. This was something; that it was not sufficient he readily allowed; for though it could not be called absolutely nothing, yet it had been brought much nearer to nothing by these measures. But still it was something, and it was on account of its not being altogether sufficient in the old way, that he was now proposing some variations in it which might render it more efficient; but most of the late measures were professedly in their nature temporary, and some of them, such as the Additional Force act, which had been represented as permanent; was, in fact, temporary, or, at any rate, inefficient. He would not now draw that measure from the grave, "its frailties from their dread abode," although he might dis 425 cuss it at present on the same principle that they had resorted to such a variety of topics when engaged in the discussion of it. He only referred to it merely as having failed to answer its purpose, with a view to shew that we were left exactly as before, and therefore that there was a necessity for something new. An hon. and learned gent. (Mr. Perceval) had said, that if he (Mr. W.) had read that act, he did not understand it. He would have been satisfied with understanding it without reading it, if that were possible; but the hon. and learned gent. seemed satisfied with reading without understanding it. He maintained what he had before stated, that the, nature of the act was such that its quota would be reduced to 9,000 men; and, when it came to that, the whole that it would do would be to supply the casualties upon this number. He had, indeed, heard of 58,000 men annually; but in 8 months it had only produced 15,000 men. It was constantly falling in arrears, and in this way lost ground as it advanced. It was like those racers which, the further they ran, the more they were left behind. It began with a deficiency of 16,000 men, and ended with a deficiency of 26,000. Even supposing, however, that it had completely succeeded in doing all that in its nature it was capable of doing, still it would have failed to answer the purpose intended by it. In the production of a right hon. friend of his (Mr. Sheridan), whom he did not see in his place, it was stated, That a constitution that was always ailing, and yet never was positively in very bad health, sometimes lasted longer than one which was strong and robust. This remark might be applied to this act. It would soon come to its minimum, which was the quota of 9,000 men; and then it would go on supplying the deficiencies on this quota, and leading men through this gate to the regular army at a bounty of 6 guineas more than could be obtained by the ordinary recruiting. It would do little itself, and would prevent other means from doing what they might otherwise do. Men would naturally wait till they could get into the army through this gate, and this mode would be attended at the same time with an additional expence, and with great injury to the interests of morality, and to the ordinary recruiting. This measure, then, was completely inefficient. But if the right hon. gent. could prove that it had done all that was requisite, why, then, he must confess 426 that there was no use for the present plan; or of any other; but, if he could not prove this, and if the measure was utterly inadequate to the purposes intended, then let it not be said that there was no necessity for any thing further. Now, in this case, the question was, what were we to do? Why, some aid must be given to the ordinary recruiting, or had any body any new scheme to propose? But any expedient which would exhaust the future resources of the country, was one which he would not recommend. When the gentlemen on the other side said, that we were not to confine our views to the present moment, but were to look to the future consequences of measures, he was very glad to hear all this, although it came rather oddly front those, whose projects had been almost all of a temporary nature, and who were even now calling out for some temporary scheme. He had no confidence in these projects however. He had no similar project of his own to offer, and thought that the good sense of the thing lay in a very small compass. The only option we had was, either to procure men by voluntary or forcible means, or we might have a combination of the two. The forcible means might procure us some men for the present, out then it destroyed our future resources. Yet force might on sonic occasions assist and quicken the operations of the bounty. This was the ease in our navy, but here the man himself was taken. But in the land service this was impossible, and such means only raised the bounty to 40 or 50 guineas, or perhaps to more, by the competition which it excited. Such was the effect in the case of the provisional cavalry, of the supplementary militia, and so forth. Seeing, then, no good either in the theory or the practice of such schemes, but finding that they rather operated like ardent spirits, opium, or substances of the like nature, which roused the constitution at first, but afterwards relaxed its power: allowing that though they were in themselves bad, there might be cases in which they might be proper; having stated this so often before, and been charged with stating the exact contrary, he would now say, that such schemes ought not to be resorted to till every other possible means had been tried and found ineffectual. He therefore would now try the effects of voluntary enlistment, and would use no means but that of making the article of proper value to the purchaser, All that could be done was, to bring the 427 advantages of the service home to the feelings and undertandings of those who might be disposed to engage in it. If, after all this, after making the condition of the soldier thus eligible, men could not be found, then there was no alternative but to have recourse to compulsory means, with all the evils attending upon it. Now, it might be made a question, whether it was possible to make the situation of a soldier eligible in comparison with the situations of other classes in such a country as this? It was true, you could not change your population, but then you might change the nature of your service. This was certainly in the power of government. But there were things which you could not do even in the service. You could not make the situation of a soldier a very safe, a very comfortable and easy, or a very profitable one. But there were advantages which might be offered to the soldier, advantages which, in every age and nation, had been offered with success. In the present plan, he would remove an impediment to the recruiting service, by limiting the service to a shorter period than a man's life, and leaving his discharge somewhat independent of the person who employed him. But then a question had been asked, if a service is eligible for seven years, why should it not be eligible for life? There might certainly be men who would choose to serve for life, but at the same time could it possibly be contended that men, generally speaking, would not be much more willing to enter into the service when they were assured that, in case they did not like it, they might leave it at the end of 7 years? If they did like it, they might still continue in it till they had served 21 years. He should think that there was scarcely any one who would insist much upon that argument when it had so often been the practice to give men this option with a view to induce them to enter the service. The thing was consonant to the feelings of mankind. The change in the terms of the service must, in the nature of things, have a most powerful effect in rendering the condition of the soldier more eligible, and consequently in inducing men to enlist. It might, therefore, be confidently expected that this measure would produce men. Now, an hon. general (sir James Pulteney) had argued that, as we had already a mixed kind of force, we must procure more men than if there was only one single kind: and this, he said, no one could deny. He did how- 428 ever, deny it. For though you might get inert between the two, which you could not get for one sort of service, it did riot therefore follow that you could get more. He said that the soldier, by means of our mixed force, had an option given him either to engage for limited or unlimited service; and that thus every one who chose to serve at all, might do so in either of these ways most agreeable to himself; and, consequently, that many were induced to engage who would never have entered the service at all, had there been no such option. He said, that we offered the man one sort of service, limited both as to time and place, and another sort, unlimited in both cases. Did he consider this as all we had to offer? The men might say that they liked limited service in point of time, but that they did not like one limited in point of space. Unless men disliked limited service in point of space, what induced them to enter the regular army at all? Yet men did enter the army, and that too from the service said to possess so many attractions. Yet it might be said, why does the person who would wish a limitation in point of time, dislike a limitation in point of space? Why, he might think it disagreeable to stay at home. He might wish to go abroad; he might wish to be a real soldier, to engage in such actions as those of which he had heard so much, and., to see those heroes who entitled themselves to the applause and the gratitude of their country. But, though he desired no limitation in point of space, yet it might be a most valuable object to him to have a limitation in point of time, instead of entering upon a service of which he could not see the end. He might eagerly desire to come back to his own country, after a certain term of service, in order to describe what he had done and what he had seen, in order to talk of "Antres vast and deserts idle." He might have some rustic Desdemona, to whom he would wish to detail his "hair-breadth scapes i'th' iminent deadly breach," his "moving accidents by flood and field," while Desdemona, the daughter perhaps of a village landlord, after hastening to serve a customer with a tankard of ale, would return, and "with greedy ears devour up his discourse." This was a natural and the service would by this means be rendered much more attractive to multitudes. Why, then, when you bad these motives to offer, it was in the highest degree impolitic to stop and counteract their 429 operation, by rendering the service, which was unlimited in point of space, also unlimited in point of time. The hon. general would, therefore, perceive that his alternative was deficient, for unlimited service in point of space might be a boon, while unlimited service in point of time was a check. The effect of this plan then, sooner or later; would be to rouse- that feeling of ardour and heroism, which undoubted existed in great numbers of the people of this country. It was our duty to put no bar in the way of the full effect of this spirit, by rendering the service unlimited as to time; for the ardour of many must be very much damped by the circumstance that they can see no end to their service. He would not dwell any longer on this point, which must be so plain and obvious to every one. Of the effects of this plan of limited service in point of time, he had the fullest and most confident reliance, as a permanent resource for procuring supplies of men for the army. Then, the next point was to enquire into the inconveniencies and evils which it had been said would attend this measure. These might be comprised under 3 general heads; 1st, the effect which it would produce on the character of the army; 2dly, its effects with regard to the colonial service; and 3dly, the loss of those numbers that would be discharged at the end of the terms. Now, as to the first of these heads, namely, the character of the army, it was one to which we must be disposed to listen with seriousness and attention, not from any belief that there was any thing in the argument, but merely on account of the high importance of the subject. After a view of all the services to which his attention bad been directed, and of the particular distinctions in the character of this country, he must say, that the objection, as to the effects of this plan on the character of the army, had no foundation. But then, how did this couple with the .other objection relative to the discharge of the men during a war? The expedient to cure this was to make the men serve for a term of years, or during the war. But how did this relate to the character of the soldier? If a man knew that he was to be discharged at the end of 7 years, it appeared be could not be a proper soldier; but if he served 5 years, or during the war, he might retire at the end of the 5 years with the character of the most efficient soldier! But the fact was, that this uncertainty, for which some were contending, was the thing 430 which would strike at the very root of the military character. In considering limited service, as it had existed among different nations, the hon. general had left out the monarchy of France. Now, why a monarchy should be omitted, which had lasted 1400 years; which existed in a military and populous country; which, in point of military regulations, had been a model to Europe; he could not conceive. If he left that out of the account, it put an end to all authority on the subject. The effects of the institutions of that monarchy were as well known as if the French revolution had not put an end to it. That it enlisted for a term of years, there was no dispute. The only question was, whether it enlisted men with .a view to serve during the continuance of a war? Now, he was prepared to say, that he had no doubt whatever that the men were to be discharged even during war; and when they were not discharged, it was prevented by a direct order issued by the government; and of such an order, an arbitrary government might readily enough avail itself on particular occasions. This had been done during the American war. Now, he had always thought that a breach of a law was an evidence of its existence. Before the year 1765, the term of the French service was 6 years. In that year, the term was increased to 8 years. No mention whatever was made of peace or war, and so it stood on the ordonnance. But when war came, the government said that it wanted soldiers, and the men were retained. Though this abuse had been occasionally resorted to by an arbitrary government, yet, from the nature of the regulation, it appeared that the retaining of the men during the war was not considered as essentially necessary. But as far as the regulation went, it distinctly confirmed the statement which had been made by him. That the government followed its convenience in breaking through its engagements, as many governments did, but as our government could not do so, was certain. Now, as to the discharge of the soldier during a war, nobody could deny that this must often be inconvenient. So likewise it was often inconvenient to pay money at the exact time at which it was due, and some would not pay at all; but it would be very odd if persons were to argue from this that there ought to be no regulations for enforcing the payment of just debts. The whole experience of the European services was against the hon. general, and 431 those who thought as he did. In the Austrian service there were various modes of recruiting, and at short periods. He would ask whether gentlemen had ever heard of such a people as the Swiss? There never were better troops, and yet all the regiments were engaged only for a term of years, and were discharged even in time of war. What then became of all that we had heard about the military character? But then the gentlemen argued in a curious way, for they said that the Swiss were not English; and if the instances had been taken from the French or the Swedes, or any other people, they would have exactly the same objection. They said that we were theorists. If they understood the term theory, as applying to any thing which had never before, under exactly similar circumstances, been tried, then all governments must be theorists, more or less, in every thing that they did. If, indeed, he had been talking of the Chinese, the Tartars, or the Negroes, they might indeed, with some justice, say that the instances did not apply; but in the great family of Europe, where the degrees of civilization were nearly equal, and where the military character was nearly the same, the difference was not so great as to prevent the justice of the comparison from being sufficiently striking. If they called this theory, they must call every thing so where the example was not exactly similar in point of circumstances, situation, and every thing else. But the truth was, that the resemblance was sufficiently obvious to answer all the purposes here intended. He must therefore say, that the whole experience of the different military regulations in Europe was against their notions of the effect which limited service would have on the character of the soldier. He might, therefore, consider that point as set completely at rest. He had many direct authorities in his favour on this point, which, however, he would not at present particularly mention. Now, as to the inconvenience that would attend the discharging of men during war, he could not help complimenting the gentlemen on the other side on the extension of their views in the contemplation of distant evils. Because when he looked back on their measures, he found them all of a temporary nature. He would ask, whether they were not merely calculated to answer the purposes of the moment without any regard to the future? Compulsion might, perhaps, have been proper in the circumstances of 432 the case. He meant to say nothing as to that; but certainly the expedients were entirely temporary. He could not look back without recollecting how often he had lamented in that house the evident disposition which constantly appeared in it to adopt temporary shifts and expedients. Its language had been, "Oh! save us just now; save us from this present danger, and pay no regard whatever to the future, let that provide for itself." This was imitating certain philosophers who enjoyed the present too much. But now the gentlemen said, "For God's sake! take care that your measures do not prove mischievous 7 years hence." They abandoned their former feelings, and were now wondrously apprehensive of what might happen in future: but at all events posterity could not be injured by this plan; because, among the advantages of it, one was, that in this view the possible evil could only arise in exact proportion to the actual good. If many men were not got, then there would be but few to discharge—[a laugh from the opposition]. This was a proposition so plain, that he could not conceive what the gentlemen found in it so highly diverting. And here he had heard very singular reasoning, which shewed the nature of the objections and the want of consideration on the part of the objectors. This was particularly apparent in the arguments used respecting the effects of the periodical discharging at the end of 7 years. The fact was, that this would have no effect that could justly cause the smallest alarm before a very distant period, so that he could scarcely give the gentlemen any credit for their fears. What did they suppose we should lose by this plan? Fifteen years must elapse before we lost one-twelfth of these men, supposing that they took their discharges as early as possible. From this he had gone with his calculation to 28 years, and this period must elapse before the loss could amount to any thing that was at all alarming. He might have calculated farther, as this was a mere matter of calculation; but having taken so considerable a portion of a century, he thought it very needless at present to carry the calculation any farther. This he said on a supposition that the period was to be 7 years only; but when we took in the additional guard which was now provided on this point, they must be very anxious indeed who could feel any apprehensions. Now, be had said before, and would say 433 again, that the discharge of the men at end of these periods, must be considered as a sacrifice. This was following the improvements of modern life. As reason and civilization advanced, men saw the advantages of such sacrifices. All the improvements in our agriculture, in our commerce, and in many other things, proceeded upon this principle. What distinguished the merchants of this country from others? What distinguished our agriculture from others, but that enterprising spirit which taught them to sacrifice a present advantage for the hope of a greater future one? The opinions of military officers had not so much weight with him in this case as in many others. An officer looking at his fine regiment, his grenadiers, with none under five feet ten in the front ranks, could not, perhaps, bear to think of parting with them, and this feeling would be stronger in proportion to his attachment to his profession. The same feeling, too, would be felt by a planter, when he saw the axe applied to some of the finest plants, though this was absolutely necessary for the benefit of the grove. If an instance might be taken from agriculture, he might mention that of the turnip husbandry, which, though introduced at the beginning of the last century, had made very slow progress, and even as yet was by no means general, because it involved a sacrifice on the part of the owner. The advantages, however, were ten-fold greater than the sacrifice. First feelings, therefore, on this subject were nothing. What had prevented the rapid progress of this husbandry, and many other improvements, was the vulgar maxim of saying, "Get all you can, and keep all you get." This was the conduct dictated by first feelings, till experience and more extended knowledge taught mankind that, by keeping all they got, they did not get what they might. This was precisely the state of the present question, and he exhorted gentlemen not to look to what we lost only, but to consider also what we might gain, and that this measure was substituted instead of those temporary efforts, under the evil effects of which this country was at this moment labouring. He advised them to consider the nature of the limited service, and the extent of the periods; but he exhorted them to take counsel from those who favoured the doctrine of limited service generally, rather than from those who were enemies to it altogether. It was impossible that the terms could be absolute 434 during the existence of any war; for the fact was, that wars now came so fast in succession, that arrangement on these terms would scarcely be any boon to the soldier at all. If there was no limit to the service but that contingency, it would be impossible for the soldier to calculate upon any time for his discharge, and on going abroad he would be almost as much deprived of the hopes of returning home as he was at present; and upon this principle the plan would do nothing, for the advantages to be derived from it would be lost. But now, by fixing the discharge at a certain period, the advantages would be clear, and the danger, even supposing that all who were entitled to it should demand their discharge at the earliest period, so inconsiderable, that the sacrifice would be prodigiously overbalanced by the benefits to be derived from it.—Now, as to the other point, which was that of the colonial service, the inconveniences here would not, by any means, be so great as might be supposed. This point might be reduced to a narrow compass. The inconveniences might be met by different regulations for that service, by appointing troops of a different description for it, and by other means. The danger was trifling, while the period was only 7 years, as it was before; and when, as now, the period might be 10 years, the danger was greatly diminished. Here the instance of the East-India Company's troops was peculiarly applicable, and it was of the strongest sort, on account of the distance to the East being so much greater than that to the West Indies: besides, in that service the men were only enlisted for 5 years. The most perfect good faith was kept with them, and the India Company found the benefit of recruiting for this period. They continued enlisting troops on this condition, till the government put an end to it on account of its interfering with the ordinary recruiting of the army. Had he not experience on his side then? Could he despair of success in an instance where the adverse circumstances were not by any means so strong? These were the heads of the inconveniences that were set against the hopes which might, upon the soundest principles of reason, be drawn from this measure. This was the only change from which he could see the least chance of procuring the proper numbers to supply the army. This change too would so much enhance the value of the service, that multitudes who would not before have entered 435 the service, would now resort to it. The character of the service would thereby be raised, and a prodigious facility given to our, recruiting. The great objection to the army, amongst persons who had a regard to character, or to the respectability of their situations, was, the people of which it was in some measure composed, in consequence of our recruiting it with convicts and persons of bad repute. It had been denied that distress principally drove men to our ranks; but this was a resource which it was unfit for this country to depend upon. By these things the army had been brought into disrepute, and the person who had engaged as a soldier, was considered as having degraded himself, and as gone for ever. From the description of people that was introduced into the army, the discipline was necessarily more severe: and this very severity itself prevented respectable people from enlisting, when otherwise they would have done it. These were the evils that called loudly for remedy. The experience of our own service was against the gentlemen on the other side, when they said that limited service would lower the character of the army, for they might have witnessed many instances to the contrary. As to the inconveniences of the colonial service, these ought not for a moment to be put in competition with the advantages which would be derived from the plan of limited service. Then came the parting with them in time of war. He had, by calculation, clearly found that the inconvenience in this respect would be very trifling; besides that the evils, small as they were, must be at a great distance. These were the considerations which had induced him to resort to this plan; and he was, in some measure, driven to it from necessity, by the failure of all other expedients. We could not change our population, but we might change the nature of our service; and this was what was proposed. Now, one word as to the present situation of the army. It would be observed, that this plan was only doing that generally, which partially had existed for many years back. He protested against the argument, that because little effect was produced on this small plan, little could be expected on a larger. The plan of limited service, as it stood at present, had little effect, merely because it was partial. The effects to be expected from such a. measure as this must arise from its notoriety and solemnity. It must be rendered generally interesting and impressive, and, 436 in order to be so, it must be universal. We are not to consider whether each individual is to calculate accurately for himself what may be the advantages of the service; the point is, in what estimation the service may be held by others. At present the soldier was sometimes considered as a person gone, as one who was completely lost. Now, the point was to raise the character of the soldier and of the service; and in order to do this, in addition to the limited period of service, it might be matter for future consideration, whether some civil privileges might not be granted to the soldiers who had served a certain time. Even the elective franchise, though it could not properly be given them in boroughs, or in the counties in Scotland, which were much on the same footing as boroughs, might be given them in the counties in England. Individuals, perhaps, might not calculate on these advantages, but then all these things went to raise the character of the army in the general estimation; and this would always be a powerful inducement to enlist. He had only stated these advantages and disadvantages very generally. It was first to be considered that the character of the service was to be raised, in order to procure the proper supplies for it. He had stated how this was to be done. He had then adverted to the necessity of discharging the men at the end of a certain period, even during a war, and had mentioned the instance of the East-India Company's troops, which proved that there was no great danger in this, nor in the influence of this plan upon our colonial service. He thought this of no great magnitude. The whole, in short, proceeded upon the enlightened principle of sacrificing a smaller good at present, in order to receive a much greater at a future period. It proceeded upon that enlightened avarice, if be might say so, which overturned the whole maxim, to which he had before alluded, and taught us that, by keeping all we got, we did not get all we might. Having thus generally stated the nature of the object in view, and the means which it was proposed to employ, he would conclude with moving, that the clause be added to the bill.
Sir James Pulteney ,
in rising to reply to part of what had fallen from the right hon. gent., meant to confine himself strictly to those points which the right hon. gent. had done him the honour to notice from his speech on this subject on a former occasion. He had formerly argued, that the 437 plan repealed by the right hon. gent. was preferable to that which he himself had proposed, in so far as it was likely that more men would be got for a service limited both in space and time, then for a service limited in point of time only. The right hon. gent., however, had contended, that the love of glory, mid a desire to see the world, and to visit different climes, were such powerful inducements to prefer service limited in point of time, as must greatly preponderate in favour of that service. It might be so with a few, but he was sure that, generally speaking, most men were partial to that service which was limited as to space, particularly from a dread of colonial service in the West Indies. Bounty, he was fully persuaded, was a greater inducement with most men than a love of glory. He was far from wishing to underrate the courage of our countrymen. We must take men, however, as they were, and the inhabitants of the country were but men. He had formerly stated, and he now repeated it, if the right hon. gent. was so conscious of the superiority of his plan, let him try its effects on the second battalions, and see what it would produce. Another point much insisted on was the experience of other countries, and particularly France. He had formerly stated, and he again with confidence repeated, that it was not at this moment the practice of any one great power in the world to enlist for a limited time of service, at least during a war; and, except the Swiss, it had not been attempted to be argued that it was. If he were to take an instance of the evils to follow from such a practice, he would quote the very one which had been dwelt on by the right hon. gent.—the instance of France. He would wish to know, why he should take up that system at the very time that France had abandoned it, abandoned it, too, from dear-bought experience, from the seven years' war, in which they had been utterly unsuccessful, and during which their armies had been held in contempt through the whole world, most probably from being formed on this system. He could not agree, that the limiting the period of service would have no had effect, in changing the character of the soldiery. Limiting its endurance at all, would unquestionably produce this effect; whether for 7 or 10 years would make little difference. When he came near the period of his discharge, and contemplated his return to private life, it would be found that he was more of a citizen than a soldier. In 438 the opinion which he formerly gave on the subject, he had an inclination for a service for a limited number of years; but he by no means then contemplated the idea of discharging them during a war. The right hon. gent. had gone into a calculation to shew, that the evil of discharge was less than had been supposed. However this might be added to the evil which must attend the colonial service, he was convinced that the number, whether more or less, must be severely felt; and it was not in the number only that this would be seen, but in the fact of their being our best troops, who had served 7 or 8 years, whom we were called on to discharge; those to whom the rest of our soldiers looked up; and that they were to be discharged, too, during a war. As to the general amelioration of our army, the right hon. gent. seemed .to expect, that they would be a different sort of men from those of whom the army was now composed; no such change, he was well assured, would take place. Nothing had been proposed by the right hon. gent. which would induce mere of a different kind from the present army to enlist. Nothing could be more theoretic, or more unfounded in fact, than the idea that limiting the period to a term of seven years, would make a great change, either in the kind or number of those who inlisted. If, however, government were resolved to try the measure, he hoped they would allow the regular recruiting to go on at the same time.
said, he had given way with pleasure to his hon. friend, because, as he differed himself so entirely from the right hon. secretary, he thought that it would be desirable to hear an opinion from such an authority. The house, he was sure, ought not to decide on this important question, without hearing and attending to the opinions of all the experienced officers that were members of it. He had listened with great attention to the able and eloquent speech of the right hon. gent. without being convinced, or induced to alter any part of his former opinion. The discussion then pending was a question to leave out an usual clause in the Mutiny bill, for the purpose of introducing an innovation that was not likely to produce any practical good effect, and might be attended with much mischief. He was one of those who thought, from the delays that had occurred between the opening speech and the production of the measure, that his majesty's ministers had abandoned the project, or 439 resolved to put off the consideration of it for the present, because he thought that otherwise they would not, upon what appeared to him shallow pretences, have refused to the house such lights as could be derived from the written opinions of experienced officers, one of which, if he was rightly informed, had been given in lately. He had hoped, that they had re-consulted those general officers, and were disposed to act upon their opinions. But as they had not, he, upon a feeling of duty, felt himself called upon to enter his protest, in that stage, against this dangerous innovation. He did so, not according to the distinction made by the right hon. gent. relative to the sworn servants of the crown, and those on the side of the house on which be was speaking. He, as a member, sworn of his majesty's council, was bound, if called on, to give his advice to the best of his judgment, as he gave his opinion there as a member of that house. A great objection which he felt to this measure was, the manner in which it was attempted to be ingrafted on the mutiny bill, because it was wholly unnecessary in the first place, and unconstitutional in the next place, for his majesty's ministers to attempt to introduce it in this manner. It was unnecessary, because, as the right hon. secretary had observed on another occasion, that house ought not to legislate on subjects that did not require legislation. He should ask that right hon. gent. why introduce the matter into this bill, if the undoubted prerogative of the crown were sufficient? On what pretence, then, engraft this clause on the Mutiny bill? The measure now in agitation might be done by an order of his majesty, without any interference of the kind. Was there any fear or doubt of government? Was there any doubt on the part of the soldiers of his majesty? Then why introduce any thing respecting their service into a legislative act? There were within his knowledge, and not in the very best of times, but two instances of similar attempts; one in the reign of queen Anne, under the administration of lord Bolingbroke, and the other during the American war, in lord North's administration. It was taking advantage, both of the parliament and of his majesty. It was like packing extraneous matter into a money-bill, which must pass, As to his majesty, it was depriving him of his prerogative. He had a right to exercise his prerogative, and to withhold his consent to the measure; but 440 how could he do so, when it was engrafted on a bill, which, in the nature of things, must pass? There were, besides these, many objections to the measure itself; some of which he should state. He had no very confident expectation, that any thing he could say would have much effect with the present ministry, after the instances he had witnessed of their taking up measures in a crude and undigested manner, and pertinaciously persisting in them, contrary to the opinions and remonstrances of so many members of that house, and of the country. He did not even expect, that they would agree to any delay in the business, notwithstanding the declaration which the right hon. gent. himself had made, that he did not look to it as of immediate necessity, but as a permanent benefit. In this situation, and as great doubts were entertained on the propriety of the measure, he could not see why it might not just as well, stand over till next session, when it might be in their power to bring it forward in a more complete and less objectionable state. Though he did not expect, that any thing he might say would have great weight with ministers; he did not, however, despair that he should be able to persuade some of the committee to pause, before they should adopt a measure of such mischievous tendency to the army; before they would sanction an innovation in the system of that army, to which, in these perilous, alarming, and critical times, they were, under Providence, to look for security and protection, and that, at a time, too, when the army was admitted to be sufficient for the occasion. This subject, he insisted, depended upon fact and experience. Though he had heard the ingenious speech of the right hon. gent. with attention, he had not been able to discover a single fact, or a single calculation, on which his measure was to be grounded. It was not sufficient for that right hon. gent. to say, that he expected his measure would be successful; he ought to have produced facts to justify that opinion. There were documents upon time table to which he should refer for facts, as to the measures that had been taken, at different periods, to remedy the defects in the army. The object of his majesty's ministers was, not to improve the state of the army, which never was in a higher state of discipline, nor more respectable in amount. The cavalry and infantry, including 14,000 or 15,000 men for limited service, amounted 441 to 150,000 men. The number wanted on the 26th of June, 1805, to complete them to their full establishment was 44,846. But, as the establishment varied often, and many men had been added by the Additional Force bill, he thought that the number now wanted could not be above 30,000, to complete the establishment of the regular army. There must, of necessity, be a large floating deficiency in an army of such an amount. The casualties, on an average, of the years 1803–4–5, were 17,000 on the whole military force, which, after deducting for casualties in the militia and local corps, left for the regular army, casualties to the amount of 13,000, or one-twelfth of the whole. Any measure that should be brought forward, ought to be such as to provide for the existing deficiency and the casualties; and could the right hon. gent. suppose, that his measure would raise 33,000 within the year? From the Revolution to the present time, the army had been recruited, as it was now, by inlisting for unlimited time and space, except in the two instances he had alluded to; and that, he contended, was the true principle upon which the army ought to be kept up. The attempt now proposed had been made in the year 1713, the year before the accession of the House of Hanover, by the introduction of a clause into the Mutiny bill, giving the soldiers of the existing army, and those who should afterwards inlist, the right to demand their discharge after 3 years' service, upon giving 3 months' notice to the colonel in the former case. This system lasted, then, but 2 years; for when the Whigs were in power, after the accession of the House of Hanover, they left the clause out of the bill, which was a strong proof of the notion our ancestors had of fanciful theories. He should not impute to the right hon. gent. any disorganising views; but certainly, if lord Bolingbroke, as had been said, and as he believed, had any design of defeating the succession of the House of Hanover, he could not have taken a more effectual step for that purpose, than to disorganise the army that had fought under king William and the duke of Marlborough. The same system had been introduced in 1775, and continued to the end of that war. The men were raised for three years, or during the Rebellion. In 1779, the recruiting, which had, till then, been carried on under the authority of the king's prerogative, was sanctioned by the introduction of a clause, similar to the present, into the Mutiny bill. 442 What the effect had been, he should shew from a comparison of three different periods. The first period he should consider was, the three first years of the present war, and that he should consider in three distinct views: 1st, the effect of the ordinary recruiting; 2d, the effect of the ordinary recruiting, combined with the numbers that had volunteered from limited service; and, 3dly, the whole number of men that had been raised for limited and unlimited service. The first view gave an average of 12,780 per annum; the second, an average of 19,310; and the third, of 28,470 men per annum. He took this occasion to deny that the measures taken to raise these men had cut up the regular recruiting. He admired the wit of the right hon. gent.; but the subject under discussion ,was no joke; and, when the house ought to look to that gent., as secretary of state, both for information and argument, they had to expect something besides lively and witty flashes of imagination. The right hon. gent. ought, according to the humble saying, to be "witty and wise." The next period he should consider was, the three first years of the last war, when his majesty's ministers had acted upon a much wiser system than lord North, by raising the men in the usual way. The average of men raised per annum by the regular recruiting was 25,955. In the three first years of the American war, when the whole number raised were for limited service, the average of the three first years was 11,631 men per annum. By these statements it appeared, that the greatest number of men had been raised in the three first years of this war, when the regular recruiting had been backed by subsidiary measures; that the produce next in amount had been obtained when the recruiting had been made wholly for unlimited service; and that the smallest number had been obtained when, in the first years of the American war, the limited service was exclusively resorted to, insomuch, that 50,000 more men had been raised in the three first years of the present war, than in the correspondent period of the American war. He had great respect for the talents of the right hon. gent.; but, unless he could state some facts in support of his plan, he could not accede to it. In point of effective men, those raised during the present war were, in general, better men than those obtained last war, and, in all cases, than those in the American war. If the right hon. gentleman's argument was 443 worth any thing, if he meant any thing in his statement, he must have meant, that his system would be sufficient to keep up the army to its establishment, and to supply the ordinary casualties; but the right hon. gent. ought also to look to the extraordinary casualties that might take place in the event, which he hoped would not happen, of the enemy being to be met here or in Ireland, by the loss that would be the consequence of a great battle lost, or of a great and bloody victory gained. That should be in the contemplation of his majesty's ministers. It the measure which they now brought forward had failed in the American war, why, in die name of God, were they then called upon to sanction it? The right hon. gent. had stated some of the inconveniencies of the measure; many of which he could not get over. But what had been the state of the army in the American war? He proposed to consider that question in three views: first, the state of the army in North America and the West Indies, in 1779; 2dly, the casualties therein in the years 1778, 1779, and 1790; and, 3dly, the amount of all the troops that bad been sent out to supply that army. The army 1779 was an establishment of 25,299, in America and the West Indies, wanting 11,249 to complete it, being nearly one-third. The casualties, including desertion, &c. amounted to an average of 17,855; and, with all the efforts that could have been made with the system in full activity, the number of troops sent out, including 13 new regiments, did not exceed 19,161, leaving a balance, after deducting the casualties, of 1296, been only as a supply for an army that was fighting for the brightest jewel of the British crown, and for the dearest interests of the nation. When they had such an experience, therefore, of the system, he asked gentlemen, who might not have made up their minds, previously, to vote on one side of the question, whether they ought not to pause, before they should again consent to adopt it? He came then to consider a paper that had been presented that day, which, when it should be printed, would give gentlemen much useful information. By this paper it appeared, that the numbers wanted in 1781, to complete the army to its establishment, exclusive of cavalry, which at that time did not exceed 5,000, was 25,279; in 1782, was 22,000; and in 1783; was 26,000, being one-fourth of the whole, then 101,116 men; whereas, the number now deficient, of a force of 150,000, was only 444 one-fifth; a circumstance for which they were indebted to the salutary operation of those measures that had been so much abused. He would ask any man, whether the system proposed would afford a prospect of supplying the ordinary and extraordinary casualties of the army? In the debates on the peace in 1783, it had been stated, in that and another house, in justification of its terms, without a contradiction, that the army wanted 30,000 men of its complement. But this was not all: the limited service occasioned a mutiny in the army, which exposed the country to the most serious dangers: the expectation of being released from military duty occasioned discontents; and most gentlemen would know, at least as a matter of history, that, at Portsmouth, a spirit of this destructive kind prevailed in the 77th regiment, and that important garrison was placed in the most alarming situation. Such was the state of the army at the conclusion of the American war. The navy and the finances were disorganised after the American war; and when party spirit should subside, justice would be done to that great man who had brought both back font their disorgarnised state. As to the right hon. gentleman's assertion, that the measure would have no effect on the character of the soldier, he was convinced, when the soldier had a definitive time to look to for his discharge, he would feel uneasy, and, consequently, not perform his duty with alacrity. That had been the case with the militia, when inlisted for three years, until, in the year 1781, a change was made in engaging them during the war, which made them look to the service as to a profession. He was surprised to find, that the right hon. gent. stated only, as he had before opened, his plan, without any explanation of the mode in which he expected to get rid of the inconveniences of it. The next object to be taken into our view was, the particular inconvenience in our colonial service, which must inevitably result from this plan. His majesty's ministers, however, had not stated to the house, or to the committee, with any degree of precision, what were their dreams on this subject. The right hon. gent. had stated, in his opening speech, that in case of a regiment entering on foreign service, the men whose terms were near expiring, might be drafted into second battalions. There would, however, be numberless inconveniences resulting from this plan in the minutiæ of every regimental ar- 445 rangement; and the right hon. gent. migh depend upon it, that if men had about 6 or 8 months to serve, and that they were ordered out to India, that circumstance would occasion a considerable degree of discontent among them. The army in the East Indies presented another obstruction. By the time the men had arrived, and had been seasoned to the climate, and prepared to face the enemy, so considerable a portion of their time would be expired, that they could be of very little use to the service. He should have considered it a dereliction of his duty, if he had not called upon the house to pause before they agreed to a measure that was not supported by a single fact. He might ask the right hon. gent. to state the means by which he expected to supply the casualties of the troops even in India, where the peace establishment cannot hereafter he less than 25,000 men. He was not able, he confessed, to follow the calculations of the right hon. secretary; but this much he observed, that the casualties of our army, from the discharges that would take place under this clause, would, in a few years, be so great, that our military force would not be sufficient to maintain our position among the powers of Europe, and that some other plan should then be resorted to for the purpose of recruiting our army. Could the right hon. secretary suppose, that, if a serjeant said to a man that he would inlist him for only the term of 7 years, and that he was afterwards kept for 2 or 3 years longer, in the service, could he expect that, in such circumstances, more men would be got for the army than at present; or even could he think, that so great a number of men could be obtained, as were induced to inlist under the present system, by which all idea of quitting the service was banished from their minds? He really had no hostility against his majesty's ministers; but he thought that he should ill discharge his duty, if he did not deliver his sentiments, whatever they might be, on so important an occasion as the present. Government must, of course, have better information on the subject than he had; but, for his own part, he did not know of any expedition that was now going forward against the enemy; and if the fact was so, that there were not, at present, any great military exertions in the contemplation of his majesty's ministers, he would advise them to try the ordinary means of recruiting for at least another year; then, if it was found that those 446 means failed, it would be competent to ministers to come down to parliament, to state the fact to the house, and to bring forward any plan which they might, by that time, have more deliberately weighed in their minds. Having thus conscientiously delivered his sentiments, and having entered his protest against this innovation on our military system, he washed his hands of the measure; and, whatever might be the dangerous consequences of it, ministers would be responsible for their own impolicy and precipitation.
rose, principally for the purpose of replying to that part of the speech of the right hon. gent. who had just sat down, which regarded colonial service. He would admit that it would always be necessary to keep a considerable part of the regular army in the East Indies, perhaps not less than 21,000 men. The waste of that army he would calculate in the proportion of one to seven, so that, upon the average of seven years, about 3000 men would be requisite to make up for the consumption. It would be necessary to send frequent supplies of men to keep up the strength of these corps. The expence, therefore, of sending home the men who chose to take the benefit of the conditions under which they entered would be very inconsiderable, neither would the inconvenience be so great as the right hon. gent. seemed to imagine it was. For his part, he could not say that he very much admired the humanity of gentlemen who would not allow the men who were fighting the battles of their country, who were risking their lives daily by the severity of a climate to which they were before unused, and by the dangers which are inseparable from a soldier's life; he could not really have the most favourable opinion of the minds or dispositions of gentlemen who would not allow one-fourth of these men to have a chance of returning to their native country. The number to be sent home would never amount to more than something from 700 to 1000 men annually. Should men be banished for life like felons merely because of some trifling inconvenience, after they had honourably served their country? Some regiments had been, to his own knowledge, 20 years abroad: should none of these be allowed to return, unless they were sent home as cripple, for the remainder of their days? Of the West Indies he should say but little, everyone one knew, that some alteration was necessary in 447 that quarter. It had been asked, what would be done with men who might be sent out on any sudden emergency to repel any attack of the enemy, on our islands for instance? The shortness of the term for which it would be necessary to continue their service there, however, was so obvious, that he could not think it was any thing like a serious objection to the proposed plan to say, that it would occasion any considerable degree of inconvenience with respect to these regiments. Some of the other points in the speech of the hon. gent. had been answered on a former night, or else had been anticipated in the speech of his right hon. friend (Mr. Windham) that night. He should, therefore, avoid taking up the time of the house by any repetition of the answers to those points. But this much he would say, that, for the honour, the glory, and the safety of the empire, some great permanent change in our military system was necessary. The: ordinary means of recruiting were inadequate to furnish the necessary supply. Comparing the army as it stood in July 1804, with its amount in March 1806, there was an absolute decrease in the infantry, and of that a very large proportion was not applicable to foreign service. If at this time last year, government had had a disposeable force of 100,000 men, would Buonaparte have dared to quit the coast. and march across the Rhine? With such a force, what was there to prevent us from landing at Boulogne, burning the flotilla, and becoming masters of that particular part of the country? It was to make up for this lamentable defect, that the present government was endeavouring to create a disposable army. The principle of limited service was not that innovation that was supposed. In the two administrations, in which the noble lord (Castlereagh) was concerned, it was distinctly recognized, first in the Army of Reserve act, and next in the Additional Force bill. The unlimited service was one of the chief objections to entering into the army, and the frequency, the severity, and, above all, the publicity of corporal punishment was another. So far from apprehending any relaxation of discipline from a less frequent use of corporal punishment, it was his opinion that the moral character of every regiment would be much improved by it. There was also another objection to entering into the army, which would be in a considerable degree removed by the plan detailed by 448 his right hon. friend. The service, as it was constituted at present, was the most arduous, and at the same time, the worst paid. The proposed pension would obviate much of this objection, for there were but few situations in which a poor man could hope to sit down with a certain income for life after 21 years' service. What a miserable system was that of the noble lord and his colleagues, by which the military strength of the country was tied hand and foot, and we suffered the enemy to do every thing in our presence without punishing him; but that, however, was nothing to the purpose. There was a great difference produced in the soldier's character, by enlisting for 7 years, or for the continuance of the war. In the latter case, he would naturally be anxious for peace, the very worst quality a soldier could possess. But that even this mode of enlistment would not produce the mischiefs the opponents of the principle of limited service seemed to apprehend, he had only to refer to the American war, in the progress of which no less than 78,000 men had enlisted only for the time it should continue, and the moral qualities of the severity regiments into which they had enlisted, were fully equal to those of any of the regiments of which the present army was composed. Every one who heard him was acquainted with the brilliant details of that glorious campaign in Egypt, in which British gallantry was as conspicuous as in the proudest period of our history, and yet he could appeal to many officers now in the house, whether a considerable part of that army was not enlisted for limited service? It had been. asserted that the practice of enlisting for limited service did not prevail among any of the great military powers of Europe. Were he not fearful of fatiguing the house, he would read the ordonnances which had been from time to time published in France, and he would prove from them, that from the year 1684 down to the French revolution, the principle had been recognized, and resorted to in that country. Indeed, the great marshal Saxe, no ordinary authority on such subjects, had expressly recommended that no man should be enlisted or more than five years. It was true, as it had been observed on the other side, that when general Washington took the command of the American army, the period of service was only for a year; but it was not to that, short as it was, that he 449 attributed its want of discipline, but to the notions of equality that it had imbibed; notions, perhaps, inseparable from the cause for which they were contending. It was these notions which made the men disobedient to their officers, and not the limited service. To those who apprehended danger from discharging the men in case of invasion, he would observe, that in that event not a single man would be discharged. So far from it, his majesty would be entitled to call for the services of every man in the kingdom capable of bearing arms. The right hon. gent. appeared to rely much upon the mutiny which broke out about the end of the American war in a regiment enlisted for limited service; but that mutiny, he would contend, was produced by a gross and flagrant breach of faith in the government. See the facts of the case. The men were enlisted during the, war. Preliminaries of peace had been signed, and yet, in the interval between these and the ratification of peace, the regiment received orders to embark for the East Indies. How was it possible for men, so circumstanced, to receive the benefit of the terms upon which they entered? It was also to be observed, that it was not so much a vast increase of numerical strength, as an addition of military character that we wanted; for while other nations had occasion to send almost their whole army into the field, our history shewed that at all times of foreign war we fought only by detachments, and. wanted, for that reason, but a small well-chosen band. If the safety of the country should come to be at stake, we had a most powerful resource, more than any nation of slaves could have, namely, that of the exercise of the royal privilege, calling on a nation of free men to rise in arms for the defence of their privileges, their own liberties, and every thing that could be dear to men. Another consideration seemed to be urged with particular confidence by the right hon. gent. as to the difficulties in which the country would be placed, in the event of not having a sufficient army for the defence of the country, in case any material part of our force should come to be discharged under the operation of this clause: but the right hon. gent. should have in view, that we had other means of defence more than sufficient to counterbalance any evil of that sort. Before, however, he described these means, he would tell the right hon. gent. he ought to know that we 450 had it not in this country in our power, at any time, to collect a sufficient force for our military wants without the aid of volunteers—[a cry of hear! hear! from the opposition]. The hon. officer proceeded, and begged to set gentlemen right upon the point to which they appeared to refer. He never was by any means hostile to the volunteers, however much he might have been, like his right hon. friend, misrepresented; although he objected to many of the details of the volunteer system, he never was or could have been so preposterous as to object to a volunteer force; for what man could suppose, that in a country like this, its defence could be sure, unless a great part of its population, who were not likely to enter into the regular army, were not forward to form themselves. into volunteers in aid of that army? But to return to the plan under consideration; he conceived that great good would result from it, even if it were capable of doing no more for the army than to supply the casualties; for the men who should leave the service on the expiration of the time specified in the clause, would be of great utility: scattered through the country, they would serve to augment our efficient military strength, and might, at a future opportunity, be most usefully employed as recruits and drill serjeants. In the present state of Europe, it was highly desirable to diffuse the military spirit accompanied by military knowledge; and what instruments were so likely to accomplish this end as the men he alluded to? The prospect of such advantages was enough in his mind to entitle the plan of his right hon. friend to the acquiescence of the house. As to the objection grounded upon the omission of his right hon. friend to apply this project to the present army, he thought it of no weight whatever. But if he had contemplated such an application, his objections would have been very serious indeed; for it would expose the country to much mischief, to alter the conditions of men who had already engaged upon understood, and settled terms. If, for instance, the change of those terms now were to commence, the country would, at the expiration of the time prescribed, be exposed to the danger of having all the present army entitled to claim their discharge at once. But no danger of any such magnitude could possibly arise upon the application of the proposed condition to an army gradually accumulating. Pos- 451 terity, therefore, would not be liable to the mischiefs which the vivid imaginations of some gentlemen were so fond to dilate upon; and what inconveniences could result to us? At least, for ten years we were safe from any of those inconveniences which gentlemen on the other side professed to apprehend; and what greater advantage could we confer on posterity than to carry the country through the difficulties and dangers in which it was at present involved? That the operation of the project before the house would materially contribute to this effect, he was perfectly persuaded. For what could conduce more to maintain the efficiency of our military strength, than that which had an obvious tendency to diminish desertion? Upon, some of the notions advanced in the course of this discussion, with regard to the motives which operate upon the minds of the soldiery, it was impossible to argue, for they rested upon no foundation whatever. To those gentlemen who were fond of ridiculing theories, he would say that no theory was more untenable, or more absurd, than that which assumed that any soldier, with the apprehension of punishment operating upon his mind, would, by desertion, expose himself to that punishment, when he had the prospect before him of a release from the service, if he chose to leave it within a limited time. They must be much mistaken in the character of the soldier, who supposed that such a prospect would have no influence upon them. Indeed they must be quite irrational, unreflecting persons, if such a prospect had no effect. But the lower orders of the people who entered into the army, seemed to be much misunderstood by some gentlemen in that house. Those people were by no means the thoughtless, insensible, mere animals, which those gentlemen seemed, from the nature of their arguments, to assume. On the contrary, his firm belief was, that the calculation which this project served to encourage, would reconcile many to enlist who would not otherwise have endured the idea. And when once men got into the military life, he had not much fear that a desire would arise to any extent among them to leave it. The probability was, indeed, that but few would quit the service at the end of the first 7 years, when, from their efficiency, it would be most desirable that they should remain. Those however, it was to be remembered, who wished to leave the army after 7 years, it 452 would be in the power of their officers to retain for 3 years longer, if they thought fit; and was it not likely that such men would rather prefer enlisting for a bounty for 7 years more, than remain for 3 years without any bounty? With respect to the discontent and uneasiness said to exist among the army in consequence of the agitation of the proposal before the house, he could assert that nothing could be more unfounded. He therefore had no hesitation in saying that it was extremely unbecoming in any member to offer such an assertion. Before such an assertion was publicly made, the right hon. gent. (Mr. Canning), who so confidently used it, ought at least to have taken the trouble to enquire into the fact. Even if the, thing did exist, it would have been unadvisable to notice it in the way the house had heard; but as it was untrue, the assertion was highly reprehensible. The right hon. gent. had stated. that jealousy must naturally be expected to prevail among the present soldiery, as the benefit of this plan was not to extend to them. But no such jealousy did, or could exist; for the advantages which the alleged cause of jealousy proposed to confer upon the present army were many and important. What! was it nothing to hold out to the old soldier, after leaving the army, a more comfortable subsistence than he had heretofore enjoyed, or had any reason to calculate upon? and the additional allowance to the men who had already served the time of 7 or 14 years would be important in a soldier's estimate. The pot of beer at the end of the week would be to the soldier an acquisition of value, although so insignificant and so much the subject of ridicule with the right hon. gent. The situation, then, of those soldiers who had served 7 or 14 years, would be improved by the plan under consideration; and such as had served 21 years, he understood it was in the contemplation of his right hon. friend to have immediately discharged, and granted, during the remainder of their lives, a shilling a day for subsistence. Could it then be rationally supposed that such a project was likely to excite discontent in the army? or rather was it not natural that they would feel the warmest wish for its success, and the highest gratitude for the benefits it was meant to confer? The case quoted from the American war was not, in his judgment, applicable to the proposed plan for limited service, at leant not for the object quoted to discoun- 453 tenance this plan. And as to the difficulties likely to arise from the adoption of this plan to the supply of our army in India, he thought them extremely overstated. To be satisfied of this, gentlemen. had only, to reflect that, according to the arrangements at present, a regiment seldom returned from India within less than 20 or 25 years, and the soldiers generally remaining, of course, until such return, many of them came home cripples and invalids. What encouragement did such spectacles hold out to recruiting? But in the proposed change, the soldier would come home at the expiration of his time of service, whether the regiment to which he belonged returned or not. The same observations would apply with regard to the West Indies. And as to both, no inconvenience could arise in the conveyance of soldiers, when our commercial intercourse with the colonies was considered. Merchant shipping could never be wanted for the purpose of such conveyance either to or from this country; and from our second battalions at home, which he would always recommend to have kept up, substitutes for the soldiers coming from the colonies could be immediately sent out. If, however, the proposed change should be found productive of any disadvantage with regard to our colonial force, regulations might be made to remedy it. It was not pretended that this project would, not serve to provide for the ordinary casualties of the army. But how, said a right hon. gent. (Mr. Yorke), are the extraordinary casualties to be provided for in case of actual war in this country? Before, however, this question was answered, suppose the right hon. gent. were asked, what provision did former ministers make for these extraordinary casualties? None whatever, unless it was pretended that the Additional Force bill, which was now happily about to be repealed, and which did not actually produce 6000 men in the year for the army, could supply those casualties. But was it not in fact a prominent part of the able system the house had heard stated by his right hon. friend, to make a provision in case of war in the country for the casualties alluded to by the right hon. gent? Independently of the right which his majesty in such a case possessed, of calling out every man for the public defence, was it not proposed by his right hon. friend that 200,000 men should be previously trained and fitted to fill up any vacancies that 454 might occur in the army, and provide for extraordinary casualties? Such was the force meant to be in reserve, and certainly nothing of the kind was devised before, nor was any ever proposed for the purpose, excepting the Levy en Masse act, which was brought forward by the right hon. gent. and which, in fact, was. quite an impracticable scheme. Under the fullest consideration which he had been able to give to the subject, the hon. officer concluded with declaring, that the system of his right hon. friend was, in his opinion, the wisest that had ever been proposed to this country;—that it promised to be effectual for all the objects it professed to have in view;— and that it would furnish the necessary supply to our present army, while it would provide an efficient army of reserve for our future security.
Sir James Pulteney
thought it necessary to correct an error, into which the hon. officer seemed to have fallen respecting the army which served in Egypt. The greatest part of that army consisted of men who had enlisted for unlimited service. There was not above a regiment or two, whose constitution was otherwise.
said, that most of the 20th, 40th, and 80th (Irish) regiments were composed of men who had enlisted for limited service, limited as to space and time only.
§ General Loftus
said, that he had listened with the greatest attention to the right hon. secretary for the war department, and that he thought it but right to give the plan a fair trial. He originally had great objections to enlistments for limited service, but the clause by which it was proposed to retain the men for 3 years, if it should be necessary, after the expiration of the first period of service, reconciled him, in a great degree, to the measure. His objections to it were greatly diminished, if not entirely removed by this alteration; and he would, therefore, decline making any opposition to the clause which it was intended to introduce.
§ General Norton
said a few words in a low tone, the purport of which we understood to be in opposition to the measure. He thought the question already sufficiently understood and discussed, and he wished to come to a decision at once.