How to ensure enough men become soldiers? Daniel Defoe, 1704:
’tis as plain our people have no particular aversion to the war, but they are not poor enough to go abroad; ’tis poverty makes men soldiers, and drives crowds into the armies, and the difficulties to get English-men to list is, because they live in plenty and ease, and he that can earn 20s. per week at an easie, steady employment, must be drunk or mad when he lists for a soldier, to be knock’d o’th’head for 3s. 6d. per week; but if there was no work to be had, if the poor wanted employment, if they had not bread to eat, nor knew not how to earn it, thousands of young lusty fellows would fly to the pike and musket, and choose to dye like men in the face of the enemy, rather than lye at home, starve, perish in poverty and distress.
More thoughts on the nature of poverty in ‘Giving Alms no Charity, and Employing the Poor A Grievance to the Nation’.