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Louis XIV., be trusted to use this power more justly ? - The question, therefore, arises, Whether compulsion to unlimited sea service essentially differs in principle from the requisition of unlimited land service. It may be affirmed, that it does, inasmuch as naval forces cannot, by their nature, invade foreign territories. On the other hand, it should be observed, that naval forces have transported or convoyed troops for the purpose of invading maritime countries in each quarter of the world; and, where it was practicable and necessary, have covered their debarkation, and supplied them with ammunition and other stores; or they have protected the vessels engaged in these services, which could not otherwise have been accomplished. It is almost too obvious to remark, that such a navy may be a most efficient instrument of aggressive war, and that, with respect to an insular country, it must be always a necessary instrument of such wars. Where, then, is the difference, as a question of conscience, or of compulsion, between unlimited military, or unlimited naval service? It may be answered ;The seaman can be only a secondary instrument of aggression. He will always have to say, “ This invasion could not take place, unless there were forces of another kind, who engage in it more actively and directly than 1, by the terms and nature of my service, can do. This is a distinction which the soldier cannot make; for, he is himself the primary, the most active or direct instrument of invasion." Whether this excuse of the conscientious seaman would be valid, I do not determine. Certainly, with regard to compulsory levies for unlimited land service, (such as French or Prussian conscriptions,) I should conceive it the duty not only of Christiaus, but of all who respect the rights of conscience, to remonstrate most strongly against this practice, both for themselves and their fellow citizens. On the subject of those similar levies for unlimited sea service, which are practised in our own country, I can pronounce no decided opinion, but submit the distinction above proposed to your impartial consideration.* You have, therefore, my views,
It would seem possible, however, to introduce an important limitation into general naval service, which should not be incompatible with any defensive use of naval force; namely, that the navy should not be liable (as a part of its general engagement) to transport land forces over seas for the purpose of hostile debarkation.
“ We are accused” (says Bishop Watson)“ of being the tyrants of the seas. If to preserve ourselves from invasion by blocking up in their ports the feets of our enemies, and fighting them when they venture out, be to become tyrants of the seas, then do we merit the appellation. In this kind of tyranny our national safety does, and ever must, consist. I wish that we may always have a fleet superior to the united fleets of Europe; and I wish, too, that such a fleet may never be used for any purpose beyond or beside the purpose of self-defence." - Bishop Watson's
in the present Letter, as to the only terms of general military service to which an enlightened Christian can conscientiously accede. The circumstances which may be supposed to justify an occasional extension of it beyond these terms for a specific object, form a distinct topic of inquiry.
Memoirs, vol. ii. page 340. I have not made this quotation as implying that the writer would have recommended a limited sea service. His opinion respects the government, and recommends to them a limited use of naval power. Indeed, his remarks chiefly relate to the right of search, an intricate question on which I am unprepared to decide, though I cannot but join in the Bishop's doubts, “ whether we have not, on the ocean, exercised power without right.” But I have quoted the above passage with a view to show that the services which he says a British navy ought to perform, might be comprised in a limited sea service.
Supposed objections.-A general fallacy in them sug
gested. First objection, relating to aggrandizement, considered.- Admission that a Christian could not have consistently joined in most colonial conquests.-- The effects of conquest no vindication of its principle.--Have such colonial conquests benefited the parent States? - Other kinds of commerce and colonization might have been substituted.
You will not suppose me unprepared for the war cry which certain classes of our countrymen would raise against the opinions offered in my last two Letters, if the pen from which they proceed were not too obscure to attract for them a large share of public attention. I must expect, however, that within the sphere of their circulation they will be met, not seldom, by that sweeping censure,—“ disloyalty, and pusillanimity, and despicable cant of puritanism.” This sort of opposition I pass by. It is unanswerable by any sort of weapon that I am inclined to wield.
But from those readers who are disposed to encounter opinion with reasoning, I anticipate . some such questions as the following, which I shall endeavour to answer." Do you, then, (they will probably ask,) inculcate a conduct as Christian, which, if all the subjects of the realm were to pursue it, would leave us without any regular army; which, if they had pursued it, would have prevented our acquiring, defending, or enlarging those colonies which form so essential a source of our internal prosperity and maritime strength; as well as our contributing, in former wars, to maintain or to restore the balance of power in Europe, and lately from aiding other nations to resist its common enemy; which, in short, would have rendered the defence of Ireland, and even of England, against his ariş impracticable, and long since brought us under the yoke of France?"-Such questions, for aught. I know, may be proposed and amplified in much more impressive, and plausible forins; but the objections implied in them seem to resolve themselves into the following. Either it is alleged ;