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objections—these, namely, that it is founded on the principle of compulsion, and that its scale is enormous. The most perfect of all armies in its equipments, the Prussian army is maintained
, at a charge of 735 francs, or about 291. 10s. per head. The French army, which shares with it the economy resulting from compulsory, and therefore underpaid, labour, and which cannot boast anything like its efficiency in the non-combating departments, costs above one-third more, or 411. 10s. per head.* It works by short service and large reserves. It interferes very little with domestic ties. The system it employs for the choice of officers secures the highest efficiency for that capital and governing element of the service, by a severe and practical training, without being open to the objections that attach to mere promotion from the ranks. It can hardly be doubted that other countries, and that we ourselves, shall endeavour to learn all we can from the Prussian system. Indeed, in our own case, under the wise administration of Mr. Cardwell, which has effected so many improvements, this process has already well begun, in the adoption of the system of short service. It must be established among us with due regard to the circumstances of difference which mark the British Empire ; but we trust with no further deviation from its principle than such differences absolutely require. What is, if possible, yet more important is the resolute reform of cur method of officering; and as Prussia is a country rigidly aristocratic, we trust that the adjustment which has led there to such admirable results, may be found to be either in its earlier or later form applicable to our wants. The relative augmentation of a really light cavalry; the local organisation of the regular force, which seems to afford such great facilities for repairing casualties; the means of rendering army officers available for the auxiliary forces, and the question how far civil employment can be put into beneficial connexion with army service, by way both of reward and of reserve; these are among the questions which the present crisis is likely to bring into practical discussion. Lastly, Parliament and the country will, without doubt, remember that among the features of the German system none is more marked than its economy; and the same principle, with due allowance for the greater cost of labour, and of free labour, will, we trust, be steadily kept in view.
But it will be a dismal period indeed for Europe, on which we are about to enter, if ever the countries which unhappily
* Laveleye, vol. i. p. 81.
still put in force the system of coercive service in the army, under whatever name it may be called, shall be tempted to embrace that one Prussian principle which, as a general rule, compels every able-bodied man to be a soldier. We venture to predict that no European State, which shall place itself in a condition to put the mass of its people under arms like Prussia, will effect this great object at anything like the Prussian rate. Even in Germany, this method of organisation has led to a heavy increase of taxes; in other countries of dearer labour and less careful administration, such as France, the charge would be ruinous. It is impossible to estimate aright her future military policy, without taking into view the great-nay, the vast increase of charge for debt which this war will entail. So heavy, in our opinion, will this be, that it will barely be possible for her to sustain it without reductions. She will, therefore, be almost compelled to avoid the cost of yet further extended military establishments; and she will also, without doubt, experience a powerful reaction from that system of Bonapartism and bloated armament,' which has cost her so dear.
We therefore cherish the hope that this great nation, hitherto so military in ideas and tendencies, may henceforth become the head of a pacific policy on the continent of Europe. Should the popular constitutional tendencies in Germany prevail-should she qualify the principle of universal soldiering—which has now worked out its only rational aim, the independence of the country—the general establishment of this better policy will be easy, and its success pretty certain, at least until time enough shall have passed for men to forget the errors of their forefathers, and the sufferings which those errors have entailed, and shall again begin to tread the same dreary round of folly and remorse.
But even if Germany, gloating upon conquest, and enamoured of the instrument which has achieved it, should decline to remit the hard law which dooms the capable man, will he nill he, to a certain period of service, it will not follow either that she will thereby increase her influence in Europe, or that the pacific policy itself would fail. For France, whom we have supposed to be its chief promoter, would be secure of an immense European support. Italy and Austria would be certain to follow her; Spain, Portugal, and Belgium might almost as confidently be reckoned on. From England she would, we cannot doubt, receive the most unequivocal favour. Nor should we despair even of Russia. The truth is, that nearly the whole of these countries have, by military prodigality, brought themselves to a pass in which accumulated financial difficulty threatens to become, within a short period of years, not merely an embarrassment to a minister, but a grave danger to the State; and we should wrong them in point of common sense, not less than of higher motives, if we supposed them to be without some desire to avail themselves of an incomparable opportunity for a serious conversion to a more rational, a more safe, and a more Christian policy.
We will not inquire how far the phlegmatic German will, as such, be a safer depository than the mercurial Frenchman, of vast military power, and of an acknowledged primacy in Europe, wrung from the grasp of his rival. Between the piety of the King of Prussia—which we believe never failed him during the Danish transactions—and the policy of the Chancellor of the Confederation, which, whatever else it may have been, has not been Pharisaical, we are sore put to it to decide whether, in the administration of its great prerogative, Germany will be worthy of the confidence of Europe. We may hope, but we cannot venture to affirm.
But it is not the nature of the animal alone which determines its conduct in harness. It is the power of the bit, the efficiency of the driver, the regimen on which it is made to subsist. Our metaphor may not be a very perfect one; but we should venture to suggest that, as applied to this subject, the regimen represents the national temperament, the bit signifies the control of neighbouring Powers, and the driver is that lofty influence belonging to that general and fixed opinion entertained by civilised man, which happily in our times no state or nation, however powerful, can afford to disregard. Placed in the very centre of Europe, Germany would have puissant neighbours east, west, and south of her, in Russia, France, and Austria. Overweening and aggressive conduct on her part would be more easily checked by their combined action on her various frontiers, than would similar conduct on the part of any of these three Powers if we suppose them to have the
power and the will to pursue it; for none of them would be so directly subject to the repressive military action of the rest. We have not yet spoken of England; but of her we confidently hope that, which is also likely to be the case with Italy—that is to say, that her hand will be not unready to be lifted up on every fit and hopeful occasion, in sustaining the rest of Europe against a disturber of the public peace.
In truth the nations of Europe are a family. Some one of them is likely, if not certain, from time to time to be the strongest, either by inherent power or by favouring opportunity. To this strength great influence will attach, and great power over
the lot of others. Such influence and power may be abused. In one important respect Germany may be peculiarly open to temptation to abuse the power which she has undoubtedly acquired. She alone among modern nations has discovered a secret which releases her from one of the main checks on a disposition to go to war. She has learned to make it pay; to exact from the enemy the cost of her operations in the shape of pecuniary indemnity. At least, if the people do not find themselves reimbursed, the German Government undoubtedly drives in its wars a highly profitable trade; for the great sums, which were obtained in 1866 from Austria and from her allies, did not pass, as they would with us (if we ever got them), to the national exchequer, but remained at the disposal of the Sovereign and the Executive. On the other hand, from the very nature of their military system, no great people suffer so heavily from war as the Germans in two vital particulars ----the sacrifice of the most valuable lives, and the contraction and interruption of the national industry. On the whole, it seems reasonable to hope that the practical character of our Teutonic cousins, together with their huge actual mass of domestic sorrows, will assist them to settle down into a mood of peace and goodwill. But whether they do or not, it is idle to believe that they have before them a career of universal conquest or absolute predominance, and that the European family is not strong enough to correct the eccentricities of its peccant and obstreperous members.
And now, in conclusion, what is to be our share, as one member numbered in that family, of the political lessons of the war, and of its results ? Certainly it will be our own fault if they are anything else than good and useful. Happy England !
! Happy, not because any Immaculate Conception exempted her from that original sin of nations, the desire to erect Will into Right, and the lust of territorial aggrandisement. Happy, not only because she is felir prole virûm, because this United Kingdom is peopled by a race unsurpassed as a whole in its energies and endowments. But happy, with a special reference to the present subject, in this, that the wise dispensation of Providence has cut her off, by that streak of silver sea, which passengers so often and so justly execrate, though in no way from the duties and the honours, yet partly from the dangers, absolutely from the temptations, which attend upon the local neighbourhood of the Continental nations.
Let us examine this matter a little more closely. In the mixed dispensation of human affairs physical incidents often carry or determine profound moral results. Shakspeare saw, three centuries ago, that a peculiar strength of England lay in her insular and maritime position.
* That pale, that white-faced shore,
from other lands her islanders
King John, Act ii. Scene 1.
And yet no long period had then elapsed since that little arm of ocean, which France still calls the Sleeve, had been from England into France, if not from France towards England, the familiar pathway of armed hosts. The prevision of the poet has been realised in subsequent history.
story. Three bundred more years have passed, and if, during that long period, we have, some three or four times, with no great benefit to our fame, planted the hostile foot in France, the shores of England have remained inviolate, and the twenty miles of sea have proved to be, even against the great Napoleon, an impregnable fortification.
may be said the case is now different. It is; and the differences are in our favour. Now as then, the
is danger; now as then, leagues of sea, regarded as mere space, do not yield, as an occupied country may be made to yield, the subsistence of an invading army. Now as then, the necessary operation of landing affords a strong vantage ground of resistance to the defending force. Now as then, the sea entails some uncertainty in the arrival of supplies. But now, as it was not then, maritime supremacy has become the proud-perhaps the indefectible--inheritance of England. Nay, recent experience has lifted us even to a higher stage than we had reached before ; for whereas, in the days of wooden ships, we were inconveniently dependent upon foreign supply for our materials, we now being the greatest iron-makers, are thereby also the greatest and most independent shipbuilders of the world; and while the change of armament has greatly diminished the mere number of crews, and thus reduced the drain upon a population scarcely equal to the demands of our empire, on the other hand freedom of trade, instead of extinguishing, has enlarged that nursery of seamen from which in case of necessity we might hope to man at adequate wages an almost unbounded fleet. Steam, applied to navigation, has done at least as much for a defending as for an invading Power ; even the stores of coal needed for marine locomotion are principally ours; and while, by the aid of this powerful agent, the