Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

leading purpose of the Secretary's public life. The danger by no means passed away with the breaking-up of the notorious

Club. The country was not safe, Dalrymple's triumph was not secured, until the Treaty of Union was signed. To the very last these patriots' struggled to curtail the royal power,* trusting that the reversion would come to them. Seeing early that they could not hope to defeat the Union altogether, they sought thus indirectly to make it ineffectual for good; and doubtless the provisions which they sought to introduce would have had the effect they desired. Stair clearly apprehended the scope of these designs, and devoted himself to frustrate them. His success was complete, and happy for his country. On the union of Scotland with a constitution which had been the nurse of freedom, with the deeply-rooted public spirit, and, above all, with the increasing prosperity of England, that danger finally passed away.

Such were the lives, and such the services, of these remarkable men. That their lives were marred by shortcomings, by errors, even by crimes, we have not attempted to disguise. That their services were such as have rarely been rendered by a father and son to their country, it would, we think, be idle to deny. In character both rose above the low standard of political morality which prevailed in their time. Throughout all their changes they were faithful to the cause which for the time they served; and they appear to have been ever animated by a sincere desire for the welfare of their country. In intellect, culture, and sagacity they were superior to all their contemporaries. To their counsels and exertions Scotland mainly owes the easy accession of William to her throne, the settlement of her ecclesiastical difficulties, and to the son) the Union. Few pations have owed more to two statesmen : yet much as they accomplished, much of necessity remained to be done. Materials for religious discord were still rife. The Highlands were left, unruly and discontented, to be the source of future trouble and danger. The commercial prosperitythe expectation of which was, on the Scotch side, the real inducing cause of the Union- did not come speedily. What did come, and at once, was increase of taxation, severities of

In indeed

Unit of hery accession counsels andre superior motorni

* An attempt, in the debates on the articles of Union, to take away the royal prerogative of mercy was, of course, opposed by Dalrymple, which brought on him the taunt from Lockhart that his defence of this prerogative was very natural, since but for its exercise he would have been banged long ago! Rather too hard hitting for our degenerate

days.

revenue officers, alterations of ancient laws, enforcement of new prerogatives, These grievances--some of them not imaginary-fell upon the fertile soil of national animosity. The Union was hated by the bulk of the Scottish aristocracy, because under the Government of Great Britain their importance could not fail to be diminished, their selfish views frustrated ; it was hated by the bulk of the Scottish people with a hatred which had its origin in a nobler source—the feelings and traditions bequeathed by their long and cruel struggle for independence. But the work of healing was only a question of time. The foundations of well-being and mutual good-will had been laid strong and deep; and, happily for Scotland, there were not wanting men, both among her nobles and her lawyers, worthy and able to carry on the policy, and complete the purposes, of William and his wise advisers.

Art. II.-1. Army Facts from Official Data. Lord Elcho's

Speeches, April 20, May 19, June 5, 1875. 2. No. LXXX. Vol. XIX. Journal of the Royal United Service Institution.

CHEN we approach the questions of military organisation " which are annually discussed in Parliament, we are met by considerable difficulties. In the first place, owing to their very importance the subjects are hackneyed and stale, while the details necessary for their comprehension are dry and forbidding almost to repulsiveness. The civilian mind is further encountered by facts and conditions not a little likely to add to distrust and to increase complication. The Army comprehends many elements. There is the governing one in Pall Mall, partly civil and partly military, of which it may be said that, like other representatives of rule and authority in a constitutional system admitting of free and popular criticism, it loves darkness rather than the light, prefers a bureaucratic closeness to open discussiou, an official inquiry on details to the free ventilation of principles; prudence and reticence, caution and non-committal of self, being thus the characteristics of that close residence in Pall Mall, which, if its inmates may be credited, calls for currents of fresh air on account of their health in a manner not dissimilar to that believed by Parliament to be required for the solution of the difficult questions which have so long perplexed us. That there is truth in this view of the officialism of the War Office, whichever party may

many half-comich Parliamenting. Mr:

form the government of the day, may be gathered from the jealousy of the House of Commons with reference to its proceedings, from the occasional criticism of returns presented to Parliament, from that necessity of consulting the man in the

street,' to use Lord Elcho's expression, when positive data and details are sought for on which to base a demand for inquiry or a claim for reform. The official difficulty, which after all is common to all public offices and bureaucratic systems where patronage and favour, privilege and promotion, must of necessity play their parts, is in this instance enhanced by the conditions of the Government and of the Opposition as represented by its front Bench of the late Ministers.

To the latter are due the army reforms which were inaugurated in 1870 and 1871, and as it was hoped were for ever to ward off the difficulties and the attendant risks which still excite the attention of those who turn their thoughts to the subject of national defence. It is believed that when the present Secretary of State for War entered his office he found many half-completed measures and the skeletons of others as it were to which Parliamentary sanction had been afforded, but vitality was as yet wanting. Mr. Hardy thus succeeded to the management of a vast establishment avowedly in a transition state. He had not only to learn the army as it used to be before 1870–71, but he had to learn it according to the fashion superinduced by his immediate predecessor. He had to deal with the conservatism and the habits of a great profession to which he was in some measure committed by the policy of his party when in opposition, and the traditions exercising a powerful influence on his own mind. It was for him to connect the past with the new ideas which had taken fast hold of Parliament and the country, and had found expression in the military policy of the late Government. There was not only much to learn ; there was much to disentangle. Dissatisfaction and prejudice, which had been fostered by Opposition promises and stimulated in the excitement of party warfare, now demanded a treatment they sought in vain from an ex officio reforming Ministry. But while necessarily influenced by such considerations the impossibility of holding back, or of changing the policy of military development so far as national safety may be concerned, was forced on the new tenants of the War Office by the recollection of their own promises and the taunts they had lavished on the alleged economic tendency, insufficiency, and poverty of the measures of Mr. Gladstone's Ministry. When they were in the posit on of critics, they had declined to allow time for the growth of the plant after the seed had been sown. On them now devolved the task of carefully attending to the soil, of fostering the growth, of impressing on their followers the necessity of patience, of allowing for the improvement which can alone produce itself in time. And so Mr. Hardy's course was cut out for him.

Thus was the new Secretary of State, with one signal exception affecting the private interests of regimental officers and not those of the public, in the position of defending the state of things he found, with the further condition of having to aid in explaining away or extenuating the results of the measures and the institutions when those results proved unsatisfactory. In this, of course, he found ready assistance among those who were originally responsible for the measures and the institutions. The wholesome criticism of a well-informed Opposition based on previous official knowledge and experience has thus been lost in both Houses of Parliament. The duty of enforcing it has fallen on independent members. When they have risen they have found themselves opposed by the leaders on both sides, the replies of the Opposition being, as was to be expected under the circumstances, more official, more essentially bureaucratic in statement and argument, than those of the newly installed Government. At any rate there was for the nonce an alliance between the two sides. Consciously or unconsciously, this alliance was worked to put down independent members in the two Houses who have persisted from time to time, in striving to bring the truth before the country and to awaken the nation to the character of the reeds it was invited to lean on by the Ministries present and past. What then is a poor public to do? There is literally no other resource but the man in the street.'

If we descend from the coldness of the official heights, we find a variety of services, a variety of interests, and, as we must expect, a variety of opinions and suggestions. There is the Regular Army, with its own branch of opinions partly dependent on tradition, and partly on interest. As a body the officers of the army are habitually conservative; this remark not applying so much to politics, about which they care little, but to the institutions under which their careers have been prosecuted, the ideas to which they were educated when they entered the service of the Crown. In this the body of officers resembles all other professions, which, like corporations of every degree, resist novelty, and if they submit to reforms of themselves or their rules, do so with unwillingness and under pressure from the outside.

Nevertheless, notwithstanding this conservatism, there is no class in the country which is so alive to what the officers generally believe to be the faulty, ruinous, and dangerous condition to which we are reduced in the matter of guarding the national honour and providing for the national defence; it being understood that both considerations involve moving to the attack as well as presenting an inert front to it, when the attack shall seek us. In their garrisons and regiments they see the practical results of the measures contrived to meet a passing difficulty, or for the execution of reforms which it is hoped may ensure desirable consequences in the direction required, may appease the national longing for security in the face of the warnings constantly issuing from the press of this country, and finding an echo in the prints of the Continent, perhaps even in the correspondence of diplomacy and the appreciation of international relations. They believe, whether rightly or wrongly, that the results often fall far short of ministerial promise and the anticipations of those who have hitherto put their faith in expediency, and, as the officers conceive, in the patching of old devices no longer suited to the times or the circumstances, domestic and foreign, in which we exist. They know that in reckoning and dealing with the national resources, as the latter come under their review in the exercise of their profession, recourse is had to practices which would ruin any administration less powerful than that supported by national credit, which would quickly entail insolvency and absolute stoppage on any company or association which for purposes of industry or trade so managed its affairs. To them does the truth really come home that in most important particulars supply is not equal to demand, the powers that be having for a long time tried, and how ineffectually We all know, to imitate the miracle of the wine by manipulation of Enlistment Acts which are simply behind the ideas of the time and inadequate to our necessities. Hence a fairly searching discussion, the conflict of many opinions, the publication of many suggestions. All this, as might be looked for, is marked by a certain professional onesidedness, a conservative tendency, a longing lingering look at the old system which carried us through the Peninsular War, the struggle with Russia, the Indian Mutiny, and so forth. Then again there is the bias towards the Army proper as distinguished from the Militia and the Volunteers, which is alike the cause of improper detraction of these two forces, and of unjust, indeed often

cumstancesdevices not, as the officho have

maist. They

« AnteriorContinuar »