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upon his peaceable neighbour, ransacks his habitation, breaks open his coffers, abstracts the property, seriously wounds the sufferer in the scuffle, and marches off with the spoil : the burglar then justifies the act, because he has heard, that unless he make haste, an acquaintance of his, as great a thief as himself, but a far inferior pirate, with whom he has quarrelled, has thought of doing the very same thing. The Government of this country supported itself on the occasion by several reasons. They urged that the Danish fleet and stores, but for the proposed interposition, must fall into the hands of Buonaparte, who wanted exactly that kind of force to act against his formidable foe; that Denmark was totally unable to prevent the seizure of her ships; that there was ground to believe that in order to conciliate the esteem of the French ruler, she would willingly yield to his desire; that in either case, the result would be equally unfavourable to this country, inasmuch as the well-appointed fleet of our northern neighbour would supply our inveterate enemy with the means of annoyance in which his greatest deficiency was apparent; and that the rigid inexorable law of necessity and self-preservation not only permitted, but demanded the previous seizure of the instruments of intended war. But the causes of hostility between nations involve considerations concerning which a soldier is seldom called upon to trouble himself. Generally speaking, he has little right to meddle or make concerning them. While others reason, he is to obey orders, to fight and fear not; the questions he asks for conscience sake being few and far between.
It was on the morning of a delightful day, that we broke up our quarters at Hythe, on our route to the place of embarkation. The scene was novel, and to myself, who witnessed it for the first time, highly impressive. We breakfasted on the heights of Dover,
and in the course of the day marched to Deal. On the following morning, we proceeded to Ramsgate. Boats for our conveyance to the transports then at anchor in the Downs were moored off the pier-headh, and in a short time I found myself on board the Sally, formerly of Shields, which had been engaged by Government, and fitted up for the reception of troops. The embarkation was effected in August, 1807, and I know not that any event, either before or since, connected with the casualties and privations of military life, ever struck my mind with greater force than that to which I now refer. I allude principally to the strength of affection evinced by the soldiers' wives and children, many of whom resolutely followed in the line of our march, and whom it was impossible to shake off, though permitted to follow to the edge of the water. Indeed many were not content with that : several women insisted on going with their husbands into the boats, and actually did
“Father,” I heard a little child say, "shall I never see you again?” The grief of separation at last was inevitable ; and on nearing the ship's side, I saw many an embrace, destined by the fitful chances of war to be the last indulged on earth.
Having had some experience in the army, and a tolerably extensive acquaintance with the men who compose it, I cannot permit this occasion to pass, without pointing out the necessity for, and the advantage arising, in a national sense, from the asylum for the children of deceased soldiers in the British army, instituted at Chelsea, by the late Duke of York. No person ever understood and maintained the rights and reasonable solaces of a soldier better than the then Commander-in-chief. Nothing on earth can exceed the coolness and intrepidity with which a British column enters into action. Their firm and steady step has often been the theme
of foreign admiration; and in the clash and hurra of crossing bayonets they are known to be unequalled. Yet, every one acquainted with the finer workings of human nature must suppose, (for the reflection is inevitable,) that on entering within the range of a shower of bullets, the bravest heart may be troubled by thoughts of an absent family, especially if left in an unprotected and unprovided condition. But if the man have the consolation of knowing, that in the event of any personal fatality, the shield of his country's honour and beneficence will be exhibited for the protection of his orphan family, the tendency of the recollection at such a crisis is to arm his mind with triple fortitude, and, if possible, give greater ardour to his moral courage. The mind of a man thus circumstanced is at once relieved from a load of domestic anxiety; and having nothing on earth for which to care, but the maintenance of the national weal, he casts himself upon the protection of the God of armies, and cheerfully advances to the assigned position, on the grim and serried ridge of war. It has been objected that these are times of public economy and retrenchment; and that no portion, however small, of national property should be frittered needlessly away. Granted. But terms of that class, if I mistake not, are thrown away, if applied to the case now considered. Support granted to the children of a slain soldier is at once an act of justice and of mercy.
It presents itself to the mind, commended quite as much by the laws of sound policy, as by those of genuine philanthropy. In fact, an institution like that for which I contend may be fairly considered as part of the soldier's compensation, and the last reward for toil and service rendered to his country. This arrear of pay, though not immediately made, is nevertheless certain ; and is to be viewed by the faint and dying warrior as a kind of life-assurance, granted by the
generosity of his friends at home, secured by publie faith, and payable whenever his children are deprived of their best earthly benefactor. Besides, I apprehend that economy, which deserves the name, if of any service, must be practised with judgment. Whenever general expenditure is to be reduced, items of outlay of the least possible consequence should be selected for excision, while such as are essentially right remain untouched. If superfluities be detected, or abuses abound, be their magnitude great or small, let them be swept away with the besom of impartial honesty, and consigned to the Lethean lake. But surely, the little pittance needful for the support of a modest but valuable charity, in behalf of a soldier's orphan progeny is not to be proscribed. To a great nation like this, which has for ages taken the lead in acts of general beneficence, such a step would present a solecism utterly irreconcilable either to right reason or good feeling. Were an hypothesis so eccentric and deceptive to prevail, every act of charity and almsgiving might be superseded. Hospitals might be closed ; gratuitous education might cease ; the stream of benevolence through its countless ramifications might no longer flow; pity itself, that gentle though honoured inmate of the human breast, might be known no more: but to call this economy would be a sad abuse of terms. Instances often arise, in which judicious expenditure is the way to effect the greatest saving; while, on the other hand, money hoarded upon parsimonious and short-sighted motives is sure to melt away. Does he save who rots the roof of his house for want of a tile? Can the ruralist talk of management, who reaps just half an average crop, for want of sufficient manure ? Is it not better to preserve health, than first lose and then try to regain it? These questions scarcely wait for reply. The affirmation is written either on the mind or heart of all ;
and upon principles exactly similar, the work of juvenile education, combined as it is in the Military Asylum with the sustenance of the children, and through that with the moral improvement of one of the finest armies in the world, amounts to an expression of English liberality and discrimination, the suppression of which would be a common calamity. The extinction of an asylum so valuable is the more to be deprecated on account of the excellence of the system adopted in its internal management, and the exactness with which the original design is carried into effect through every department. It has been affirmed, and is frequently the subject of sore complaint, that in some charitable foundations now in existence, for the gratuitous guardianship and instruction of youth, admissions are procured by favouritism and a species of implied purchase; so that while the gate of reception is closed upon the hapless orphan, who cannot find an advocate, the entrance is invitingly open to those whose influence is sufficiently powerful to command the omnipotent “vote and interest.” By this means the pious intent, nourished during the life of many a noble benefactor, is defeated; and, while he sleeps in the dust, the benefits of his endowment are diverted into channels altogether at variance with those in which the wealth bequeathed was intended to flow. Not so in the Military Asylum. It was built in order to promote the prosperity of the children of English soldiers ; none but such are received, nor can admission be procured in any other form, than that projected by the impartial and even-handed rules of the institution. It is the widow and the fatherless whose cause is heard, and whose pleadings win the day. Another proof of the superiority of the institution arises from the order observed within doors : this has for years excited the admiration of visiters, numbers of whom have inspected the school at various