Imatges de pÓgina

that followed was said by Dr. Johnson to have been worse than the persecutions of the Christians in pagan Rome.

Another evil result of William's Dutch influence was to turn the eyes of the naval nations from their natural element of the sea, on which they were then acquiring equality with the hitherto superior commerce of Holland, and to invest the army with a false predominance not consistent with our insular position and naval growth. This Dutch policy of military operations in Europe involved us in the three most expensive and bloody wars of the League of Augsburg, the Spanish succession and the Austrian succession, wars in the issues of which we had no concern and from which we derived little benefit. We lost a great number of valuable lives in others' quarrels; we incurred very heavy debts, detrimental to our finance and trade; the damage to our merchant fleets was enormous ; the corruption of Parliamentary management which attended these wars, the waste, the disturbance of trade, the European entanglement which remained, all tended to divert the people of the islands from the naval policy of world commerce and sea trade which is their natural heritage.

" It is because we are a fighting people,” says Fortescue, that we have risen to greatness, and it is as a fighting people that we stand or fall. Arms rule the world ; and war, the supreme test of moral and physical greatness, remains eternally the touchstone of nations." These are sentiments to be expected from the Historian of the Army, but, unless by arms you understand in the first place naval warfare, they are alien to the history of the British nations. We are a purely naval people. Our army, with one exception, has never been anything but Old Contemptibles,” a small body of men of splendid courage and high discipline, acting as part of an allied army called out to resist military aggression. All through the wars which followed the Restoration of 1660 down to Waterloo, the British troops were part, and usually only a very small part, of an allied army. It is for this reason, perhaps, that the British have not been prolific in great generals, but that as fighting men for courage and steadfastness and endurance of privation they are and always have been supreme. You may trace them down through the centuries as a small contingent of the European army, generally like Uriah in the forefront of the

battle; standing firm, whether at Dettingen in 1743, at Quatre Bras in 1815, or with Gough's army in Flanders in 1917, against any odds anywhere in the world; storming Quebec, Bunker's Hill, or Seringa patam; manning forlorn hopes at Lucknow, Rorke's Drift, or Chanak; or forming the core of an unwilling or hesitating army at Almanza or Brighuera.

The one exception, when with some paid auxiliaries we fought a land war on our own account without success, was the war of the American Revolution. That war, so little understood by our historians, showed some of the most magnificent feats of arms both by British officers and men, such as the storming of Bunker's Hill, together with some of the worst political generalship in our history.

Otherwise our records of war are naval. The sea aspect, which spells freedom, is emphasized by the dread always shown in England of military forces on land. “Parliament," says Fortescue, “never recognized the existence of the army under the Stuarts, nor voted a sixpence expressly for its service.“Though the military force of England was far too small for the safety of her possessions abroad, Parliament never ceased to denounce the evils of standing armies and to clamour for the disbanding of all regiments.” When in 1685, after the Militia had run away before Monmouth's army, James asked for £1,400,000 for the standing army, Parliament would only vote him £700,000. There was no difference when the Dutchman asked for men. In December, 1697, it was resolved on Harley's motion that all forces raised since 1680 should be disbanded.

I add a few figures, taken from Lediard's Life of Marlborough, Fortescue, and similar sources to illustrate the subsidiary nature of our military operations in war :

In 1672, when Louis XIV. invaded Holland with 150,000 men, 6,000 English under the Duke of Monmouth assisted him : in 1690 no British troops except the Life Guards were present in the field : at Steinkirk in 1692 the five regiments of British troops, after routing the best troops of France, were left to be butchered, while the main body of Dutch and Danes under William looked on without assisting them : at Landen in 1693 there were comparatively few British, only Hanoverians, Dutch and Brandenburgers. In this year Parliament agreed that England should furnish and pay a contingent of 40,000 men. Of these 18,000 were to be British and the rest foreigners. In 1698 it was resolved that 7,000 men, who should be British subjects for England, and 12,000 for Ireland, should be the limit of the standing army.

When our period of defeat under William ended, and the war of the Spanish Succession broke out, the forces disbanded in 1697 were re-raised, and Churchill, now Duke of Marlborough, collected in 1702 an army of 60,000 men for service in Flanders. Of these 12,000 were British. In the notable campaigns which followed the proportions remained much the same. At Schellenburg in June, 1704, Marlborough attacked with sixteen battalions, of which five were British.* At Blenheim in August, 1704, of Marlborough's wing of 48 battalions and 18 squadrons, only 14 battalions and 13 squadrons were British. The losses of the allies were : Schellenburg, 1,400 killed, British 290 fficers and 407 men; 3,800 wounded, British 86 officers, 1,031 men ; Blenheim, 4,500 killed, British 670 ; 7,500 wounded, British over 1,500. At Schellenburg the British did almost all the work. In the same year an expedition was sent to Spain to place Charles III. on the throne. The army comprised 28,000 Portuguese, 2,000 Dutch and 6,500 British. At Ramillies the loss of the allies between 4,000 and 5,000 fell almost entirely on the Dutch and Danes, who bore the chief brunt of the battle and destroyed the French Household troops. Galway before Almanza had 15,000 men, of whom half were Portuguese, a third British and the rest Dutch, German and Huguenot. At Oudenarde, one of Marlborough's most brilliant victories, the allies lost 2,972, of which 53 killed and 171 wounded were British. At Malplaquet, out of 129 battalions only 19 were British, and the British loss was 1,866 out of 18,553 ; the Dutch lost 8,643, owing for the most part to a reckless attack by the Prince of Orange.

The record does not vary much throughout the century. When occasionally the British act in Europe as a separate force apart from their numerous allies, as when both elder and younger Pitt send raiding forces to attack the French coast, the little armies are for the most part unsuccessful owing to the

* At the time, says Fortescue, a battalion was generally taken at 500 and a squadron at 120 men.

imperfect information of the politicians who send them, or to want of co-ordination between the navy and army.

Turn now to our native element, the sea. Here we are no small corps of auxiliaries attached to a great military force, but a homogeneous body which fights for its own hand, supreme often against superior allied forces. It fights also a contest which brings out all the finest qualities of the fighting man, against the strength of wind and sea. In 1692 the complete victory of La Hogue over the French secured the islands from invasion ; but a great many warships were lost in a great storm in 1703; in 1704 Rooke, with a British fleet, part of an expedition sent out for Charles, the Archduke of Austria, took Gibraltar by surprise. The small garrison of a few hundred men left there by him was besieged by a French army and, each side receiving reinforcements, thousands were soon engaged in land warfare on both sides. This went on until March, 1705, when the British fleet drove off the French with a loss of 12,000 men. In 1706, when Barcelona, which had been captured by Peterborough with the assistance of the guns of the British fleet, was being besieged by the French and Spanish, our ships forced them to raise the siege. In 1707 the siege of Toulon failed and Sir Cloudesley Shovel, whose charming monument you may see in Westminster Abbey, was wrecked and drowned off the Scillies. In 1708 our fleet, supported by some of Marlborough's men, captured Sardinia and Minorca. At the same time holding the Channel, it prevented Vendôme and Berwick from cutting off the supplies from Marlborough's army. So throughout the century, sometimes by brilliant victories over a superior force, sometimes by holding open important communications, sometimes protecting valuable merchant fleets, sometimes by daring raids against fortified places, silently, without grandiose affectation of glory, the British fleet without allies did its duty upon the seas.

The English ships would appear in the earlier part of the century to have been of an inferior build, so that it was a common thing to copy captured French ships as being better models. The enormous losses of the British mercantile marine during William's wars were greatly counterbalanced by the growth of the splendid fleets of the East India Company, which had increased under the later Stuarts. Under James II. the navy had been moving to that naval supremacy which she has held until the present day.

When we turn from the fighters themselves to the civil management of the war, we are inclined to wonder how any success could be obtained. A revolution by which a convention of civilians with the aid of traitors among the officers of the army placed on the throne an alien, subject to Parliamentary control, had thrown all the spending departments connected with war into confusion. The corruption, the want of coordination in the spending, a system of credit by which the salaries and the means for the purchase of all essentials whether of war material or supplies for the men were in arrears, and very irregularly paid at any time, encouraged peculation and misuse of funds. From the commander-in-chief downwards each officer responsible for payments passed his liabilities as far as possible to those below, and kept for himself the means provided to meet them. Marlborough was accused of peculation and dismissed from his employment. The charge was very likely to be true of the avaricious soldier who betrayed James, William and Anne in turn. But such a charge was the pot calling the kettle black. The men who brought it were guilty of the most gross treachery to their allies; they had sold their country for office, as men often did in those days. Marlborough had probably a very good defence when he claimed that the sums had been granted him as perquisites of his offices; that he had received them as secret service money for payments to be made ; and that he was responsible for much spending not provided for out of an empty war chest. (Arrears, says Fortescue, in 1697 amounting to £2,300,000 to be met with practically nothing.)

William, having provided for stuffing the pockets of his Dutch followers, Portland and Albemarle, and his mistress Villiers, by giving to them estates in Ireland which had been granted to pay the expenses of the war, had made England as far as possible pay for all. The whole war office system was corrupt from the foundation and bankrupt; the great costs of the war, the subsidies paid by England to the Continental powers for quotas which were not always furnished, the very heavy losses of shipping, could not be met at all except by borrowing. When William came in 1688, the public debt was

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