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militias did upon the barons, the power of the sword was transferred from the subject to the king, and war grew a constant trade to live by. Nay, many of the barons themselves being reduced to poverty by their expensive way of living, took commands in those mercenary troops; and being still continued hereditary members of diets and other assemblies of State, after the loss of their vassals whom they formerly represented, they were now the readiest of all others to load the people with heavy taxes, which were employed to increase the prince's military power, by guards, armies, and citadels beyond bounds or remedy."
While these observations applied to most of the countries in Europe, they did not altogether apply to England; where, though, as Fletcher remarks, the power of the barons had ceased, yet, at the time he wrote, no mercenary troops were yet established. “ King Charles the First did indeed,” says Fletcher, “ endeavour to make himself absolute, though somewhat preposterously, for he attempted to seize the purse before he was master of the sword.” What was peculiar in the fate of England was, that the power of the feudal barons did not, as in most of the other countries of Europe, all pass into the hands of the kings; but those who had succeeded to the land tenures of the feudal aristocracy, and who formed an oligarchy as opposed to an aristocracy, obtained possession of a large portion of it.
What use they have made of it I will endeavour to show in the next chapter. In the meantime I will sum up what I have here said, in the words of a military friend who has not only studied Jomini but seen actual war.
“ The English archers, citizens and pare volunteers as they were, were unrivalled in skill. How is it now with regard to English horsemen ? Certain portions of the nation choose to cultivate horsemanship, and turn out horsemen such as all the military schools of Europe are unable to equal. The man who does a thing every day of his life must do it better than the man who does it occasionally ; and this fact, with reference to the two exercises which I have just mentioned, no longer throws itself into the balance in favour of standing armies. The nation practises the one exercise, and did practise the other, every day of its life, as a pleasure; and with a consequent effect which renders any future improvements to be superadded by a teacher an inappreciable quantity. And so it may be with rifle markmanship. If the nation adopts rifle-shooting, as it once did archery and now does horsemanship, if it takes pride and pleasure in it, you will be able to raise, at any moment, a militia who, in point of skill with their weapons, shall have nothing to learn from their regular' rivals."
The same friend also says, in reference to the question how far a standing army has the advantage over a militia in point of courage, that “the lower the natural military qualifications of a people, the greater will be the superiority of the standing army; and the higher their natural valour, the less will be the superiority ;” and then comes to this conclusion :
So, as I maintain that, with a cowardly people, the superiority in courage of a standing army is as something is to nothing, or, putting it in an algebraical form, is as x:0—i.l., infinite; with a brave people I believe that the superiority in courage of a standing army over a militia would sink into comparative insignificance, when compared with the valour which each party (each being assumed to be of the same nation or race) would bring into the field. The proportion would then stand as x + 10x : 10 x—that is, as 11:10—a small superiority.”
Such is the result where the militia is composed of riflemen and horsemen so exercised, and the standing army opposed to it are of the same race, and possessing the same measure of natural courage.
It follows that if the standing army opposed to this militia be of another race, not possessing precisely the same measure of natural courage, such standing army will have no superiority whatever over such militia.
This physical well-being in the free citizens of a free State is necessarily accompanied by moral and mental well-being, by patriotic spirit and general force of character, by moral and mental energy. The frequent meeting together of the youth for athletic exercises, and of the men for the discussion of public matters, binds together each little community; and while it exercises both their minds and bodies, in a very different manner from that in which any State system of education like that of Prussia does, inspires each individual with that love of his country and that force of character which animated the three hundred Spartans at Thermopylæ, and dictated the dying words of Sparta's great and heroic enemy on the field of Mantinea: “I have lived long enough, for I die unconquered.”
The patriotism and force of character which were produced in so eminent a degree in the little republics of ancient Greece, were also signally exhibited by Rome in its early history; and in later times by small nations, like the Swiss and Scots, which offered a heroic and successful resistance to powerful enemies seeking to deprive them of their independence: Bannockburn and Morat may be joined with Marathon and Thermopylæ. And there is, as it appears to me, even a still greater degree of patriotic spirit and unconquerable courage displayed in bearing up against repeated defeats, as the Romans did against Hannibal, and the Scots under Wallace against Edward I. Of men with souls thus invincible—men who might be overpowered by numbers and superior generalship, but could never be reduced to despair—desperare de republicâ — consists the real strength of nations, and not of the power to buy foreign mercenaries.
The incapacity to understand this spirit rendered David Hume, with all his intellectual power, unfit to write history, as well as unable to fathom some of the depths of human nature. The whole force of the Roman empire, although exerted to the utmost under Severus, one of its most warlike princes, could not totally subdue the nation of the Caledonians; whose invincible spirit in defence of freedom* at last obliged that empire, after granting them peace, to spend nearly two years in building a wall of solid stone, twelve feet high and eight feet thick, with forts and towers at proper distances, and a rampart and ditch, from the Solway firth to the mouth of the Tyne, about sixty-eight miles, to repress their inroads. And Severus, in his attempts to subdue Caledonia, is said to have lost no less than fifty thousand men.f And yet Mr. Hume says that the Romans entertained a contempt for Caledonia. I
But there is no nation in ancient or modern times that possessed, as far as I am aware, institutions so eminently fitted to produce both patriotic spirit and force of character as those of England, while they remained in their healthy and uncorrupted state ; and before the attempts had commenced to assimi
* Devita morti pectora libere. Hor, Od. iv. 14, 18. † Tévte uvpláðas olas. Dio, 1. lxxvi. c. 13. | Hist of England, ch. i.