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ART. I.Essay on the Necessity of Improving our National Foro
ces. By William Theobald Wolfe Tone, formerly Officer of Light Cavalry, Aid-de-camp in the French service, and Member
of the Legion of Honour. New York, 1819. THIS THIS is an exceedingly well written pamphlet, remarkable for
the eloquence with which the author has given expression to his views of a subject involving a momentous question of national policy. He has borne a part in the great military struggles of Europe, and aims at communicating for the benefit of this, his adopte ed country, the information which his experience abroad has enabled him to acquire.
Whether his views be sound or chimerical, we are equally indebted to him for the motive of his publication, and he supports his theory, it must be confessed, with very cogent and sensible arguments.
The object of the pamphlet is to show to the people of this country how false is the security in which they now repose, on the subject of the continuation of peace, and their ability to meet a war without preparation. It is a warning voice calling on us to behold the enormous military power of Great Britain, her immense resources and formidable preparations, her grasping ambition, and the probability of our being engaged in a second and more arduous conflict with her, and strenuously recommending active and exten sive preparations for such an event, by the increase of our fortifications, army, arsenals, and military schools.
It would be impossible for us to enter upon an examination of these topics without touching on questions that belong to party politics, with which we have nothing to do, and it is difficult even to approach such subjects without walking super ignes suppositos cineri doloso.' We shall therefore merely give a few extracts by way of recommending the work to the attention of our readers.
The author begins by considering the important change which a few years have wrought in the military strength and national poVOL. XIV,
licy of Britain. And on this subject we are induced by the eloquence of his first chapter, to present it entire.
' A French engineer of distinguished talent, chevalier Dupin, has lately travelled through England to examine into the present state of her military establishments., The view which that atle of. ficer has given of her recent military improvements, and of the immense means of hostility collected in her arsenals, is calculated to inspire every reflecting mind with the most awful forebodings. However selfish her policy may have been, however offensive her pride, whatever evils she may have inflicted upon himself, or upon his country, still every friend of reason, justice, and liberty, must confess that the world owes incalculable benefits to England. Her constitution, however imperfect and overpraised, afforded the first model of a liberal government, sanctifying the individual rights and the individual independence of man. English principles, and English laws, laid the foundation of American freedom.' To see that country rapidly exchanging the character of a free nation for that of a military power, must strike even her greatest enemies with melancholy reflections.
• The causes of this unfortunate change are easily traced. When France, towards the conclusion of the last century, broke the shackles of a weak and vicious government, the jealous selfishness of England took the aların; some statesmen may have perceived and justly feared, that France, delivered from its feudal trammels, would soon have eclipsed England; the short-sighted and bigoted hatred of the common people did not look so far, and they were more honest in their open aversion. But the cry that France must be put down, and government strengthened for that purpose, was nearly universal. The generous voice of the few who sympathised with the cause of liberty in every part of the world, was drown. ed by the general clamour, and all opposition to government became unpopular. Europe was paid, was armed by England, and from the Caucasus to the pillars of Hercules, torn from her foundations and hurled upon France. Inexperienced in the formation and march of a free government, the French on their side were obliged to forego their attempts for establishing it on a firm and regular foundation; terror at such a universal attack forced them also to strengthen their executive, and the crimes of Robespierre and the jacobins, and the military reign of Napoleon, were thus brought, were even forced on by the efforts of England and continental Europe, to crush the rising liberties of France.
* But these efforts soon recoiled upon themselves. When France was forced to become a military nation, she found in her old establishments and institutions a strength which the world had not foreseen. She possessed the only corps of scientific engineers and the best artillery in Europe, her arsenals were provided on the grandest scale, a triple line of fortresses, the eternal monuments of Vauban's genius, covered her frontiers, and all these establishments had been fostered and improved with constant care since the
age of Louis XIV. The inexperience and indocility of her troops, was almost compensated by their enthusiastic valour; the science of war and of tactics had been a subject of study and meditation to her officers for two centuries, and after some defeats, they were able to face, to beat, to conquer all their enemies. Europe was subdued; a splendid despotism, from Russia to Spain, erected on the ruins of those powers who well deserved their fate, and the face of affairs so reversed, that England, in her turn, had to stand alone, the combined hostility of the world.
She was saved by her naval force, and insular situation, and her people certainly displayed a constancy which, had the origin of the contest been of a purer and more liberal nature, would have reflected immortal glory on her name. But the cry for strengthening the government was stronger than ever, the most alarming encroachments upon the liberty of the subject and purity of the con. stitution, were viewed with indifference--the end sanctified the means. The government availed itself fully of the occasion, and laid the foundation of a military despotism, perhaps as formidable to the exterior, but certainly as well calculated to overpower all opposition of the people at home, as that of the great ruler of France. The faults of Napoleon, that cooled the French in his cause, and inspired the subject nations with the desire and hope of retrieving their liberty; his disasters in 1812 and 1813, the combined efforts of Europe, at length overturned his colossal power, and closed at least for the present the bloody and brilliant scene of the revolution.
And what has been the result? England, like France, has become a military power; she has subverted her rival, and crowned her arms with military fame. But she has lost, perhaps irretrievably lost, that character and those institutions which made her greatness and her glory. Or rather under an improved form and better auspices they have emigrated across the Atlantic.
'The world in general is scarcely yet aware of the total change which has taken place in the character of England, in her constitution, and in the relative rank which she holds among England was a rich, industrious, free, and enlightened country; her manufactures, trade, and agriculture were equally fourishing, and she was strong by her navy, her opulence, and the proud, firm, and independent character of her people. Her army was insignificant both in its numbers and quality, but the bravery and patriotism of her citizens secured her against foreign invasion. The yoke of the English weighed heavy upon the countries subject to them; they were cruel and harsh masters, and arrogant and overbearing to strangers; there was a great deal of corruption in their government, but it had not spread universally amongst the middling and lower classes.
Exteriorly, England had little or no influence, and when the government attempted to interfere in the contests of continental Europe, their measures were generally unpopular. A blind and root