KIND OF ARMY THAT THE HOME RULERS WANT.
APUBLIC man was once discussing with an eminent sculptor a project for a sepulchral monument. He was not satisfied with the sculptor's proposals, and kept on saying that he must have this and that, all his suggestions being in the direction of an unidealistic and conventional funeral pomp. At last the exasperated artist burst out : " I know exactly what von want. You want the Euston Road !" (The Euston load is, of course, the home of the smirking marble angel, the exuberant Celtic cross, and the genius of Death in a dressing-gown trying to fit a latchkey into the marble door of a Doric temple.) The story comes back to us very forcibly as we read the speeches made by excited Liberals and Radicals during the past ten days. One sees exactly what is the kind of Army they want, what is their Euston Road. Their ideal is an Army of slaves, an Army which will obey whatever orders it gets, which will fight, burn, and slay like a machine and without question the moment it is set to work by the politicians' hands, an Army which will fulfil the Jesuit ideal of being to its masters perinde ac cadaver, as volitionless as a corpse. To prove that what we are saying is no exaggeration, we have only to point to the fact that one of the ablest and most intellectual of Liberal publicists, Mr. Massingham, in a signed article in Monday's Daily News, actually objects to the use of the phrase "obey all lawful commands" which appears in the new Army Order. The use of that phrase, he infers, might be highly unfavourable to "any kind of effective action in Ulster," since it would encourage the soldier to ask whether an order was lawful or not.
Mr. Massingham is even more annoyed with the use of the words "ordinary execution of its [the Army's] duty." As he pathetically suggests, this will not do, because the Army is moat wanted at the present moment for extraordinary duties. If it is merely to perform ordinary duties, it is an instrument not worth having. In fact, his words remind us of the story which used to be told of an Indian General who asked for the loan of a body of blue- jackets to perform on shore some heavy duties in regard to the man-hauling of guns, duties which the Sepoys were incapable of doing. The Admiral replied that he would lend them on condition that "you do not make jackasses of them " ! " But," the indignant General used to add, "what was the good of that ? Why, that was just what we did want to make of them!" To use soldiers for some- thing other than obeying lawful orders and performing ordinary duties is just what Mr. Massingham and his friends want an Army for. The ordinary sort of Army we have had hitherto will not do for them at all.
The sight of men searching for something we know they can never find is always pathetic, even though we have very little sympathy with them in their search. The Home Rulers will never find the Army they want, or, at any rate, will never get it out of the British people. What they really want, though they would not admit it to them- selves, is, as we have said, a slave Army—an Army of the kind which Eastern despots have always hankered after and tried to obtain, though generally with disappointing results. They want a Mameluke or Janissary Army, an Army of military bondmen who would execute any orders they received without the slightest thought or care whether those orders had any legal or moral justification behind them. They look for obedience—absolute, unquestioning, abject obedience—in the soldier, and nothing else. Even an Oriental subject of " the Shadow of God" was apt to dislike certain orders if they affected his own countrymen, or his kinsmen, or men whom he specially liked or respected. Local ties and family ties were thus found occasionally to be very inconvenient—to be obstacles to the attempt to produce the perfect soldier and the perfect Army. Therefore the Sultans at Constantinople and the Viceroys in Egypt invented the Janissary and Mameluke. They kidnapped, or bought, babies or children of tender years, and had them brought up in slave barracks to know neither father nor mother, nor brother nor sister. They were taught to think only of their obedience to the
Padishah or the Viceroy. He was their one relation, the one person to whom they owed anything. Accordingly,
it was believed that they would prove absolutely subservient to the monarch's will, absolutely trustworthy instrument?, who, fearing neither God nor man, would look only to their orders and obey them as a well-constructed engine obeys the lever when it is turned to the right hand or to the left. Moore expressed this ideal very well in a verse in "Lalla Rookh":- "I speak not of pity, I speak not of fear ;
They neither must know who world serve the Vizier."
"Ruthless, relentless, remorseless," such was the ideal.
soldier for the Oriental despot. But, curiously enough, even this ideal soldier proved impracticable for the despot's purpose, so hard are the conditions of absolutism, and so unwilling at bottom is mankind, whether soldier or civilian, to become a mere machine. Janissaries and Mamelukes alike came to know their power and to exercise it. The machine turned upon the man, just as Franken- stein's monster turned upon Frankenstein,* with the result that the Sultan Mahmoud the Terrible had to make alliance with the ordinary citizen in order to put down the Janissaries, while Mehemet All found that he could only really be master in Egypt by decoying his slave soldiers into a rock-hewn pen and shooting them down to a man.
But perhaps the Liberals will tell us that they mean to do better than the Eastern despot, and can devise an Army that would obey not only lawful orders, but all orders, and could be used for extraordinary purposes—be a machine- made Army, in short, and yet be kept under proper control, and never think of turning on its masters. We doubt it. Knowing the nature of Englishmen, and looking back at our history, we feel certain that the Army will always be a perfectly trustworthy instrument for putting down actual disorder, for maintaining liberty of action in the individual, for stopping the burning of houses, the destruction of railway tracks, the flooding of coal mines, and for protecting men who want to work from having their heads kicked into a jelly by those who do not want them to work—in fact, for carrying out Cromwell's ideal for himself of "a constable set to keep order in the parish." They will not be able to be depended upon to act as one man in the case of carrying out some political ideal upon which the nation is sharply divided, or on which its will is so doubtful that the Executive dare not adopt the easiest form of coercion—the coercion through a popular vote. There will always be a breaking-point in the cable that holds the British Army, and that breaking- point will be reached very easily if the cable is mis- handled and subjected to a sudden jerk. This fact may be inconvenient for Executive Ministers on both sides, but it is a fact which it is no good arguing about. It is there. For ourselves, though we quite admit that it may some day prove inconvenient to those who hold our political views, we cannot honestly profess to be alarmed. We do not think it is good for any politicians, however sound their views in the abstract, to wield the terrible power conferred by an abso- lutely subservient military force—a force passively obedient to all orders. We are not afraid of the militarism of an armed and trained people, but we confess to being very much afraid of the type of militarism apparently desired by our Neo-Radicals—the militarism which " un-citizens " a man and makes him a soldier and nothing else. As we have said, the Englishman is so much "a social creature" (to use Burke's phrase), so inherently a citizen, that you will never be able entirely to break him of the habit of thinking for himself. The British soldier will not push matters to extremes, nor be always demanding to do exactly what he likes and not what the Government order him to do, but in the last resort he too, like, we hope, every other British citizen, will keep a corner in his heart in which to preserve the sacred right of insurrection —a thing not to be talked of much and to be used very little, perhaps never to be brought out, but yet to remain as a latent antiseptic against the putrid poisons of tyranny and absolutism. In fine, you will never teach the ordinary British officer or soldier to be in the last resort any- thing but what the Common Law has always called him—" a citizen happening to have arms in his hands." Looking at the matter scientifically and in vacuo, the only way for the Liberal Party out of their difficulty would be for them to create &purely mercenary Army, like the French Foreign Legion or the old Papal Guard—a body like the Swiss troops who used to be employed by the French Kings and by the petty tyrants of Italy in the eighteenth century. But though these come nearest to their ideal, we hardly think they would prove a popular • Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, in one of her letters from Turkey, gives
• lively picture of the way in which the Janissaries tyrannized over their
t atAan The Government had drifted into the hands of the men who would obey y orders, lawful or unlawful , ordinary or extraordinary. "The Grand 13".■ for with all his absolute power is) as much a slave as any of his subjects, and trembles at a Janiseary's frown.. . . This is the blessed condition of the meet absolute monarch upon earth who owns no low but his will 1" This, too, may tecome the condition of the most absolute Single Chamber and its II bolster. if they try to create an Army which will obey all orders nn-
force any more than were the Hessians who were hired to put down the American colonists.
Though we are obliged to point out to our Liberal friends the madness, nay, the wickedness, of trying to obtain a slave Army which will fulfil Mr. Massingham's ideal of obeying all orders, lawful or unlawful, and carry out not only the ordinary duties of the soldier, but something beyond them, we need hardly say that we have no wish to turn our regiments into debating societies, nor do we think there is the least fear of that ever happening. The Army is, like the police force, entirely willing to execute lawful orders and ordinary orders whether it agrees with them or not,. because it feels instinctively that the King's Govern- ment must be carried on, and that the notion of its picking and choosing in ordinary circumstances what orders it should carry out is perfectly ridiculous. We all know well, enough the intolerable dangers of an Army like the Army of the Commonwealth, which assumed the functions of sovereignty and overawed Parliament. But when we think of those dangers and of the intolerable situation which was created by that Army in the seventeenth century, we must never forget that this was not the natural attitude of the Army, nor did it at the beginning in the least desire to tyrannize over Parliament.
The Cromwellian Army was only goaded into taking up the position which it did take up by the extraordinary folly with which the Long Parliament behaved. Nothing is clearer from a close reading of the history of England at the end of the Civil War than that the Army would have behaved perfectly properly if the Long Parliament had not attempted to set up an intolerable tyranny. The Long Parliament, after having cut off the King's head and abolished, no doubt with ample excuse, the Royal office, proceeded to abolish the House of Lords, and to attempt the task of lodging the supreme Government in the hands of a single totally unchecked Chamber, which would not even leave to the Judiciary its old place, but constituted itself as a supreme legal tribunal. In the face of such tyranny and oppression as this the Army did intervene, but remember, to begin with, it only intervened in order to secure a truly democratic Government. [Its excesses came later, and when it had been in turn demoralized by its possession of absolute powers.] The appeal of the Army to the Parliament, its first act of independence, was a specific and direct appeal for the Referendum. The soldiers showed themselves pathetically willing to obey the will of the people if only they could be allowed to hear its authentic voice expressed at a Poll of the People. They wanted to have the will of the people made clear to them, and then they were perfectly willing, as Englishmen of all classes always have been, to obey it,
And who dare say that this is wrong, or that it is a misfortune that our Army should in the last resort share this feeling ? Chatham told the nation that if the American Colonists had been willing to be enslaved, they would have been fit instruments to enslave the rest of the nation. An Army ready to obey, not only lawful orders, but all orders, and to fulfil not only the ordinary duties of the soldier, but other duties, would be a fit instrument to enslave the nation as a whole. Such a slave Army the British people will never allow to be called into existence. We are not all Jacobins, though we are all democrats.