23 DECEMBER 1854, Page 15


BOTH Opposition and Government ought to have learned a great deal from the successive debates upon the Enlistment of Fo- reigners Bill. This controversy proved the extent to which the acrimonious discussion of a measure can be carried, even to the degree of risking the existence of a Ministry on grounds imper- tinent to the measure before Parliament. Any future faction will find recorded in the debates of the last seven days, evidence to show how far an Opposition may rake up imaginary causes for at- tacking a Government without breaking the rules of either House—may learn how far assemblages representing the highest and the enfranchised classes of this country will tolerate pure nonsense; and Governments may learn from the same debates how a collected strength may overrule the most factious resistance, and compel the unsteady and the wavering to rally round an Ad- I ministration.

Amongst a dozen arguments against the bill, we find three that peculiarly characterize the different forums in which the palaver had been carried on. In the House of Lords, the " constitutional " dodge was the chief reliance ; the opposition of the Commons ar- gued-ab inconvenienti ; and the Times argues from the danger to which the auxiliaries may be exposed in being brought to war against Russia. In this array of argument the Lords appear as the lowest and the vulgarest in their appeals to prejudice. The pretence that it would be unconstitutional to bring foreign troops to this country, even for purposes of drilling and embodiment, be- cause the people would think that they might be employed to pre- serve the peace against domestic tumult, is a fiction which would scarcely do credit to the theme of a boy at school. The very men who uttered it must have known that they were speaking of that which could not be ; and it is almost a discredit to the common sense of Parliament, that the Duke of Newcastle should have been obliged to modify his bill so as to impose a theoretical prohibition upon that which was already practically impossible. As the bill now stands, instead of declaring, with the schoolboy, that "what is impossible cannot be, and never never comes to pass," it declares that which is impossible shall not be, and must on no account be permitted. That the Lords can have resorted to a sophism so low, and that any portion of the public can have been deluded by it, establish- es, we say, the length to which dodges of the kind may be carried by men of position, and be successful with men of no posi- tion. The elaborate arguments got up by the Opposition in the Commons, with stores of evidence to show the circumstances under which foreign troops were employed by this country in for- mer limes are altered, that foreign troops have sometimes 'behaved ill, and that Ministers had not already exhausted the strength of the country, passed muster in debate; but they were dishonest in themselves, totally inconclusive, and simply waste of time. Any diligent inquirer into the curiosities of military literature can find anecdotes of panic, demoralization, desertion, and every military default, in the annals of the best armies. "The redline that never yields" has often presented an exceedingly zigzag appearance, even in the best of battles : English regiments have been deprived of their facings, and some have turned in reasonless panic. But would anecdotes that might be collected of such a nature establish the pusillanimity of the British army ? The main argument of the Times, that the members of a foreign legion taken in war by the Russians might be treated as brigands, without appeal to inter- national law, is instantly refuted by precedent. Our contemporary proceeds upon the assumption that none can join in war upon a state except the subjects of states that are injured or are them- selves interested in the hostilities. Surely innumerable cases must be remembered—certainly thrcrughout modern history—of officers who have gone "to the wars," in which their own country bore no interest, for the simple purpose of serving an apprentice- chip and of learning the art of war. English officers in the service of Austria, Scotch in the service of France, French in the service of America, have won distinguished names ; and we cannot remem- beran instance inwhichofficersthus serving for the disinterested love of warfare have been treated with any distinction, except in some cases a distinction favourable to themselves. If it is so with offi- cers who may be expected to know the duties of loyalty better than uneducated men, a fortiori it must be the ease with common soldiers. But we must allow some foree to the argument: Russia is not indisposed to take any excuse for brutal treatment of pri- soners at war, and the hint may receive that beat of welcomes—a practical adoption. All these arguments, however, are totally beside the real ques- tion which is at issue, and have nothing to do with the measure laid before Parliament. The necessity for that measure was well known, the uses to which it might be put are obvious. In com- mon with the Duke of Wellington, with the Emperor Napoleon, with every commander from the time of Pompey to our own day, the greatest inconveniences have resulted from employing men not inured by years and training to the hardships of war. It is a mistake to regard war as nothing but a eueceesion of battles. We have before our eyes the ease of the Crimea, presenting war as an alternation of exploring expeditions, of hard navigator's work, of reciprocal besieging and being besieged, with battles only as the variety. The young recruit, who may be as bold in battle as an older man, wants the seasoning that renders the hard labour of sol- diering endurable; and even if he has the ready will to face the dif- ficulties of that kind, he wants the hardened bone and muscle, the hardened viscera. He cannot stand the work ; he siekens, and helps to crowd the hospitals. This has been felt by Lord Raglan, as it was felt by Napoleon ; and Lord Raglan wants not only more soldiers —brave men who can fight—England can furnish them ; but he wants ready-made soldiers, tempered by service ; and he wants them now. Ministers almost stated this ease on Tuesday night; but the Commons, whose leaders had blamed Government for ad- vertising their movements, committed a grave offence against duty to their country in compelling Ministers even so far to approach the full statement of the case. The Opposition of our day evi- dently does not know a duty which it will have to learn under pain of public execration, and which it violates in extorting those explanations that may be extorted, but that ought to be left unsaid. The Opposition ought to have offered to Ministers the same re- serve respecting the reasons that render such a force necessary, that Ministers have managed to retain respecting the farther uses to which the power now given to the Crown may be converted.