Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Europe where, under similar circumstances, the increase of population would not have been as rapid: And if America had never been known, we should not have wanted ample testimonies to the truth of that great law by which the progress of population is regulated. Russia, Ireland, and some of the parts of Germany referred to by Lusmilet, with the wages of labour much inferior to those of America, have increased with a rapidity quite sufficient to establish the principle, if not the exact rate. Ample proofs of the principle are indeed at our very doors. In many of the country parishes of England, the number of births is nearly double the number of deaths. And throughout the whole country, in the interval between the first and second enumerations in 1800 and 1810, the rate of increase was such as would double the population in 56 years, notwithstanding the number of persons in England who do not marry, the number who delay marriage till late, and the mortality occasioned by our large towns and manufactories. There cannot, then, be the slightest doubt that, if nearly all our population lived in the country, and the labouring classes could have as great a command of necessaries and conveniences as they have had in the United States, the population of England would double, from procreation only, in considerably less than twentyfive years.

But, supposing this to be true (and in reality there can be no reasonable question of its truth), it becomes those who are continually declaiming against the doctrines of Mr Malthus to consider, that their declamations must all tend, as far as they go, to lower the wages of labour, and depress the condition of the poor. If the tendency to increase be such as has been stated, it is not only an act of folly, but an act of injustice and cruelty to the labouring classes, publicly to deny it. And those who, in the House of Commons, hold a language calculated to make the poor believe that there is no kind of reason for any prudential restraint on marriage, because all that are born have a mortgage upon the land, and a claim of right to be furnished with work and subsistence, certainly take upon themselves a most perilous responsibility. They are not only doing all they can to make the Poor-rates absorb the whole rental of the kingdom; but, what is of infinitely more consequence, they are contributing, by all the means in their power, to plunge the labouring classes into irretrievable poverty, dependence, and distress. What cannot be done, will not be done. We may promise to maintain the poor adequately; but we shall deceive them, and shall not do it; and the main consequence of our inconsiderate promises will be, to enlarge the circle of misery, and to force many into it, who, if they had not been deprived of the proper

motives to exertion, by being led into an error, would have avoided it. If the law of population be such as has been stated, it is a truth which it particularly concerns the poor to know: And, in fact, the general circulation of this truth must be the foundation of all essential improvement in their condition. We quite agree with Mr Malthus in reprobating any positive laws against early marriages: But without any such laws, we think that something very important would be done, if the poor were fully convinced that population has a powerful tendency to increase; that the main cause of low wages is the abundance of hands, compared with the work to be done; and that the only mode of raising them effectively and permanently, is to propor tion more nearly the supply of labour to the demand for it.

With regard to the general question of the Poor Laws, we have obviously left ourselves no room to enter upon it. We will only therefore add, that, even should the Legislature determine, under all circumstances, to make no very essential alteration in them; yet if, instead of asserting that the poor have a mortgage to an indefinite extent on the land, and a full claim of right to support, the Poor-rates were called a compulsory charity, limited by the necessity of the case, and the discretion and resources of the society; and if they were administered un→ der the constant conviction of the great truth above referred to, we cannot but think that the present evils arising from them might not only be prevented from increasing, but might be gradually diminished; and that, after the present season of difficulty was over, we might look forward, with some hope, to a positive improvement in the condition of the labouring classes -to higher wages and greater independence.

ART. VII. Traité des Grandes Opérations Militaires, contenant P'Histoire critique des Campagnes de Frédéric II., comparées à celles l'Empereur Napoleon; avec un Recueil des Principes généraux de l'Art de la Guerre. Par le Général BARON DE JOMINI. 8 vols. 8vo. A Paris, 1811 & 1816.

THE present work is unquestionably one of the most profound, original, and interesting, that has appeared in our day; and, were we to be strictly dealt with, we know not how we could excuse ourselves in not having introduced it sooner to the knowledge of our countrymen. Works on Military Science afford, in general, a mortifying contrast to the achievements in war which fill the annals of the world. With the exception of some ingenious, and, it may be, very useful discussions, as to

the comparative advantages of the different arms, and different organization of corps, which in different ages and nations have been successively adopted, military works present little but fatiguing memoirs, and embarrassing and unprofitable details, from which it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to extract the principles that guided the Generals whose campaigns are recorded. Much of this deficiency is, no doubt, to be accounted for by the state of the art itself. Till the middle of the last century, the greatest and most distinguished leaders had seldom been able to free themselves from the shackles of the wretched system of warfare which they found established. Conceiving themselves to be absolutely dependent on their magazines, and covering their frontiers, by disseminating their forces over an extensive line, instead of bearing in one concentrated mass against some vital part of the enemy's dominions, their genius appears to have been cramped by a series of maxims, resting, as events afterwards showed, upon no reasonable grounds, but which, by a strange acquiescence, were reputed inviolable. Some brilliant exceptions there certainly were, such as Marlborough's celebrated march before the battle of Blenheim; but those who have most studied the military history of Europe, however highly they may venerate the great names which illustrate its pages, will be the readiest to confess the truth of what we have just remarked.

It was reserved for Frederic to begin, and for the mighty and creative genius of Napoleon to complete, the overthrow of that languid and ineffectual system, and to unfold, and, by unexampled exploits, to avouch the true principles of this destructive science. The advancement of the art had a visible and immediate effect upon the treatises devoted to it. The King of Prussia's books abound with observations which, in justness and depth, do honour even to that great man. General Lloyd has not only treated this subject as a philosopher, but was the first, perhaps, to show that war, however uncertain in its issues, had principles without which no great success could be achieved. Templehof followed very much in the same track; and the writings of Guibert, which Buonaparte is said to have carried with him to the field, and to have characterized as propres à former des grands hommes, contain many enlightened views, which, though they reach not the power of the art, are free at least from the prejudices of the last age. Jomini, however, has been the first to give a complete exposition of the principles of war. His powerful and original mind enabled him far to outstrip the authors who had preceded him; and, amidst the tumult of the camp and the din of arms, to ascertain by the

finest discernment, and to develope with the most forcible eloquence, the principles that directed the stupendous carcer of the Master whom he first served.

From these remarks, as well as from the title of his book, it must be evident that our author has dedicated these volumes to the higher and sublimer branches of his art-those which do not depend upon the particular institutions of any country or age, but which, in great part, are applicable in all times and places. The manner in which he has treated his subject appears to us the most amusing and instructive that could well have been adopted. He does not set out with a meagre statement of maxims and principles, to which he requires assent from the abstract evidence of their truth; but he takes generally the campaigns of the last seventy years; and elicits, by a sort of induction, the true causes of their failure and success,-availing himself, in the investigation, of the knowledge acquired by personal observation of all the great commanders for the last twenty-five years, most of whom he has either served under or been opposed to, and appealing, where occasion required, and with the happiest effect, to the experience and practice of remoter periods, and even of antiquity. This gradual development of his subject strongly excites the interest of his reader, whose attention is never made to flag by wearisome and unprofitable details; and while, in the progress of his work, he adds principle to principle, and unfolds his system in all its points, he produces the fullest and most assured conviction. Looking merely to his general statement of the great maxims of military conduct, a careless reader might think that he had generalized too highly, and had allowed too little for those unforeseen and unavoidable difficulties, which, in all human affairs, and most of all perhaps in war, must disconcert the wisest plans. Nothing, however, could be more unjust than such an opinion; for, while he expounds his system, and developes his principles with the most admirable precision, he is at constant pains to guard against the supposition that these can never be baffled or disturbed by events upon which it is impossible to calculate. We are perfectly aware that, on this account, as well as from the plan of the work itself, it is impossible for us to give an analysis which shall do any thing like justice to the author. In discharging our duty towards him, therefore, we shall attempt little more than to explain the contents of the work,—to lay down his leading and more weighty conclusions, and to illustrate the manner and importance of their application, by such examples as may occur to us as we proceed.

This work may be considered as consisting of three great parts. The first, in four volumes, contains the Campaigns of the King of Prussia, particularly those of the Seven-years' war, at which time the System of Magazines was in full force. The second part, in two volumes, embraces the war of the French Revolution, from its commencement, by the invasion of the Duke of Brunswick, to the armistice of 1795. During this period, the resources of the enemy's country were in some measure trusted to; but the War of Posts, or that of attacking upon many hundred miles of frontier at the same time, was still the favourite of the day. In the third part, which occupies the two subsequent volumes, are contained the campaigns of the Emperor Napoleon in Italy, from his assuming the chief command until the peace of Campo Formio. This last was the period in which the principles of the military art were brought to all the perfection of which they appear to be capable. Frederic's genius mainly appeared in tactics, or in manoeuvring his army within sight of the enemy: But he cannot be considered as having thoroughly understood the planning of a campaign, or those movements which are generally executed out of sight of the enemy, and which are included in the general term of Strategy. Here it was that Napoleon incontestably surpassed all who preceded him, and left nothing in which he could himself be surpassed: For the campaigns of the other revolutionary generals are instructive, chiefly as exhibiting the causes of failure. Jomini occasionally leaves the more immediate subject of his work, and appeals to other times and generals in confirmation of his conclusions. But these three periods form the groundwork on which he builds his system; and embracing, as they do, examples of every thing that is great or weak in military conduct, and comprising the art, so far as he treats of it, in the different stages through which it has reached its present state, they afford ample materials from which to infer and support, by experience, the principles which he has attempted, and we think successfully, to explain.

The whole art of war reposes, according to Jomini, upon one great governing principle. Le principe fondamental,' he observes, in the concluding chapter of his work, where he gives a summary of his system-le principe fondamental, par l'application duquel toutes les combinaisons sont bonnes, et sans ⚫ lequel elles sont toutes vicieuses, consiste à opérer avec la plus grande masse de ses forces un effort combiné sur le point décisif.' Vol. VIII. p. 681. The principle thus stated may appear abundantly simple; and, although its general importance has not been fully allowed or felt till the present age, it is principally in the details of its application that those difficulties oc

6

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »