Home >> British Encyclopedia >> Inflammation to Language 1 >> Intelligence


garrison, enemy, governor, secret, species, whom and wise

INTELLIGENCE, in a military sense, may be variously applied, and of course has different significations. No general can be said to be in any degree qualified forth e important situation which he holds, unless, like an able minister of state, he be constantly prepared with the requisite means to obtain the best intelligence re specting the movements and the designs of the enemy he is to oppose. On the other hand, it is not possible to conceive a greater crime than that of affording in telligence to an enemy, and thereby bringing about the overthrow and destruc tion of a whole army. A French military writer makes the following observations respecting the later species of intelli. gence, which he classes under two spe cific heads. He justly remarks, that to hold correspondence, or to be in intelli gence with an enemy, is not only to be tray your king, but likewise your coun try. Armies and fortified places are al most always surprisedand taken by means of a secret intelligence which the enemy keeps up with domestic traitors, acting in conjunction with commissioned spies and delegated hirelings.

A garrison town may be taken by sur prise, under the influence of secret intel ligence, in two different ways. The one is, when the assailant, to whom the place has been surrendered, is not bound to join his forces to those troops by whom he has been admitted ; the other, when it is necessary that an assault should be made by openly storming, by throwing shells, and by petards, or by stratagem. The first species of intelligence may be held with a governor, who has influence enough to direct the will and actions of the garrison ; with a garrison, which is indisposed towards the governor and the officers that command the troops ; with the inhabitants, who have undertaken to defend a place where no garrison is sta tioned; and, lastly, with the prevailing faction, where there are two parties that govern in a free town. The other species of intelligence may be practised with a governor, who either wants power or is afraid to tamper with the fidelity of the garrison ; with some particular officer, serjeants, or soldiers ; with the body of inhabitants,who think differently from the armed force that overawes them ; or with active and shrewd individuals, who have access to the ruling party, and can skil fully combine affected loyalty with secret disaffection.

There is not, however, in human nature, perhaps, a more insidious or a more dan gerous ground to tread on, than that of secret intelligence; nor are the faculties of the mind ever so much put to the test, as when it is necessary to listen to the re port of an individual, who, whilst he is betraying one side, may be equally dis posed to dupe the other. A wise general will consequently hear every thing, and say nothing; and a wise man, let his se cret wishes be what they may, will warily consider, whether the person, who in sinuates to him even the possibility of a plot, does not at that instant endeavour to get into his confidence, for the sole pur pose of acting contrary to bis supposed views, and of betraying the man who has unfolded other schemes. It is certainly justifiable policy, either in the governor of a town, or in a general, to affect to give into the views of any man or party of men whom he has cause to suspect, and whose ultimate object he is determined to de. feat. But he should be equally cautious how he listens to the communications of spies or informers. The veil of honesty is often assumed to cover a deep-laid scheme of villany ; and apparent candour is the surest path to unguarded confi dence. When villains voluntarily unfold themselves in such a manner as to con vince an able and penetrating officer that their treachery can be depended upon, much blood may be spared by making a. proper use of their intelligence. This axiom has prevailed in every civilized country ; and should be well attended to by thinking men. For when a battle has been gained, it avails little to ask whether the enemy owed his success to force or treachery ? No treachery, however, is ad missible, or should be sanctioned by bel ligerent powers, which militates against those laws of nations which are founded upon the wise basis of huManity. Private assassination, the use of poison, or the disregard of paroles of honour, must be generally reprobated; and whatever ge neral obtains his ends by any of these dark means, his name should be stamped with infamy, and he himself be exposed to all the melancholy casualties of retalia tion. See James's Military Dictionary.