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most faith, me Great Brithe contin means on
directly or impliedly responsible, we should have the means on due occasion of operating with weight on the Continent, that the so-called moral influence of Great Britain should, as the means of peace and good faith, be supported by the sanction of organised force, the known existence of which is in truth the chief, but it may be admitted, by no means the only, ingredient of that influence. Till a few years back, while the Continent and this country were still in process of recovery from the strain of the wars closed in 1815, we were content to rely on the moral influence resulting from the success of that prolonged and desperate wrestle with Napoleon Europe was in a state of lassitude. The military institutions and arrangements of all the Powers fell more or less into the condition caused by desuetude. That which was in truth weariness was believed by many to mean perennial peace. The fear of the British power was indeed a fact on the Continent of Europe, and through that consideration we were content to slip back to the condition of absolute disarmament which has been already sketched. When Lord Palmerston pursued a policy in 1840,* which brought us to the brink of a war with France, he was without the means of sending ten thousand men abroad, and he was without a militiaman at home, had he attempted to denude the arsenals and Ireland of the Guards and the Line. Yet he carried through what may be called a very ambitious and aggressive policy, his reliance being on the effect produced by his own audacity and diplomatic management or moral influence--a few ships and a handful of marines. The game of brag succeeded. But such things do not happen twice-a fact to which probably no one was more keenly alive than Lord Palmerston himself. Then came the gradual awakening from the slumber of the long European peace. The great wars we have witnessed, the vast territorial changes which have occurred before the eyes of this generation, the arming of the nations as distinguished from the military institutions, the standing armies of the last century, have placed an indelible mark on the history of the time we live in, and compel us to move forward with the European system of
* In that year, 1840, the troops in the United Kingdom were as follows:
Cavalry Artillery Engineers Infantry Total
7,190 4,118 544 38,624 50,476 The total includes Indian depôts and the system of four Company depôts for regiments serving in the Colonies, which certainly did not represent military force for external purposes.
which we form a part. We cannot forfeit our place in that system if we would, and there is certainly no wish to do so.
The imputation on the leaders of the Liberal party that they were careless of these political and moral conditions of national life, that they were willing to postpone them to economical considerations, however unjust that imputation was, probably damaged the Liberal cause, and aided the Conservative reaction more than the many other charges and allegations which have been so energetically characterised by Mr. Bright.
The second matter follows naturally on the foregoing reflections. Given the necessity of maintaining our ancient place in the European system, it being granted that one of the primary conditions of national defence is the power to strike in return, or to anticipate attack by carrying the conflict to other scenes than those represented by our own seas and shores, according to our invariable policy whenever war has been willingly undertaken or has been forced on us, the question is at once suggested how the means may be supplied adequately to meet such great purposes, without inordinate expenditure on the one hand, or undue subtraction of the community from the aims and duties of industry. In this is comprehended how the army proper may be suddenly swelled to a war establishment, such being the object of a system of reserves.
The third point is similar to the second one in character, but with this other condition, that it applies to the maintenance of the so-called peace establishment, as well as to the supply of armies for operation abroad; in short, the recruitment of the army at all times. As frequently remarked by His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, the army is in a transition state with reference to these considerations. Everyone is impressed with their surpassing importance; everyone with any knowledge of public affairs is aware of the difficulty of the problem they present, while there is a general unwillingness to face it. To use the Duke's favourite expression, our measures have hitherto been tentative only. They have been conceived in an uncertain spirit. Fear of constituencies, fear of party, fear of the House of Commons-in short, every fear except the proper one, fear lest the honour of the country should be imperilled --seems to have been the ruling motive in the minds of public men when the consideration of the momentous question has been approached. It is to be hoped that our experimental state is nearly at an end, and that in future we may have something more than tentativeness to boast of.
It may now be observed that the legislation of the last eight or nine years, although in appearance somewhat décousu,
have for Militia a direction; vore particula Patronage.
has proceeded generally in the right direction, and in what may be called a modern sense.
Thus, by the Act of 1867, practical form was given to the notion of Reserves, an entirely novel ingredient in the military system. The Militia Reserve and the Army Reserve were then created, the first of which comprised that portion of the Militia which, for certain considerations, was ready to transfer its services to the Line on the outbreak of war. The Act of 1869 gave power to place the Militia when in training under the general officers, and to attach officers of the Regular force to Militia regiments. Property qualification for a Militia commission was abolished. This was the first great step towards the more thorough identification of the Militia forces with the Line, to bring it under the central authority of the War Office, an operation which has been completed since 18'i, when, by the Army Regulation Act, the lieutenants of counties were divested of their old military power and patronage. Other Acts which it is unnecessary more particularly to notice have all tended in like direction; viz. to promote a principle of unity for Militia and Line alike, the Royal Warrants which have issued in consequence and the measures which have been taken having been fair and loyal exponents of the aims of Parliament.
Foremost among these come the regulations for the localisation of the forces in 1873, the importance of which cannot well be over-estimated. Although the new system is not as yet in full operation, its principles are now too well known to require much illustration. It is sufficient to say that each brigade depôt or centre is the head-quarters of a colonel or brigadier who commands all the infantry of the auxiliary and reserve forces within the sub-district, and has the superintendence of the recruiting both for the Line and for the Militia battalions of the brigade, and the charge of the arms and stores ; his immediate staff, &c., being composed of officers and noncommissioned officers drawn from the Line battalions affiliated to the centre of which he is the chief. This arrangement has lately been rendered more thorough by the order, according to which the officers and sergeants more especially devoted to the instruction of the Militia are men in their prime and borne on the roll of Line regiments. Opportunities are afforded for the education of Militia officers in the barracks of the Line. Analogous arrangements have been made with regard to the Militia Artillery, and Yeomanry Cavalry. The Volunteers fall into the general system of the brigade centres, due regard
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being had to the necessities and peculiarities of their system of organisation.
When the bearing of these reforms is properly thought out, it must be admitted that Mr. Hardy was justified in calling attention to the great changes which have been going on in recent years. For ourselves we can fairly say we do not desire change of principle or departure from the policy which has been thus briefly described. We advocate rather adherence to the principles which have been adopted, a steady and weighty progress in the direction of the lead thus afforded, a view apparently favoured by the Secretary of State.
The problem is then before us how best to meet the wishes of the Commander-in-Chief, to provide the army with recruits of the proper age, that is to say of men capable of bearing the fatigues of war. Hitherto, as is but too well known, every sort of shift has been tried in order to obtain nominal strengthin other words, to produce the numbers voted by Parliament for the ranks of the army. For this purpose we have been content to take the babes and sucklings as it were, the beardless boys who can show a certain number of inches of height, and a very insignificant measurement round the chest. After some three years of barrack life, nilitary pay, and good rations, these boys grow to manhood and become excellent soldiers. In the meantime the State has paid for keep, maintenance, and clothing during the three years in which the boy-recruit was becoming a man. Lord Raglan begged that such boy-recruits might not be sent to him in the Crimea, as they only came out to die. Similar representations of the strongest kind were made by the Indian authorities from time to time, till, at the instance of Lord Sandhurst, the War Department in 1871 yielded to the cry, prompted by humanity, and forbade henceforward the despatch of boy-recruits to India, whither they arrived to cumber the hospitals and to find early graves. But what is the result of the reform as bearing on the army quartered in England ? The regiments at home are robbed of their formed men to fill corps in India, and we rely in great measure on the boys recruited in their stead.
It thus comes to pass, that a large percentage of the young soldiers in the ranks of the regiments and depôts serving in the United Kingdom are in truth boys who are kept and fed, till the age of manhood having been reached, they are deemed fit for foreign service, and are then shipped for India or elsewhere. We say elsewhere, because in these days of very petty demands on the active exertions of the soldier in a campaign, if a regiment be embarked with such a view, many other regiments or battalions are tapped and caused to yield their grown men, the youngsters of the embarking regiment being left behind, as happens in the case of the half-a-dozen battalions that are yearly sent to India, and was seen in fitting the little expedition to Ashantee or a battalion for HongKong. It is evident that, although recourse to such devices may be feasible when the demand on the War Office for battalions is at the minimum resulting from a state of profound peace, such a system must fail if exposed to the slightest strain. It is an illusion, a deception, à sham to tell the House of Commons and the country that the latter possesses such and such military forces, for which the money is duly found in the annual estimates, if, whenever a battalion is required for foreign service in India or elsewhere, the responsible executive authorities acting on the knowledge they possess, and under compulsion, denude the home army of what really constitutes military strength, to the exclusion of the lads who no longer embark to “die like flies' in the course of ordinary military fatigue because of their youth and immaturity.
As has been frequently represented when our army was small in numbers and recruited according to a principle of long service, we could afford to have a certain proportion of such youngsters in our ranks, because that proportion was so small. But now with a system through which about one-fourth, or at least one-fifth, of the men are quitting the ranks every year, it is plain the proportion becomes so large, that the forces at home must literally be swamped with the number of lads who are not fit to embark and are not allowed to embark according to the rules enforced by Parliament in 1871. . The result has only to be stated to carry conviction. But it is practically seen in the increasing difficulty experienced by the War Office in meeting the Indian demand, petty as it is, and unencumbered by any necessity to provide for a trouble in Ashantee or China. We suspect the adjutant-general and the generals exercising separate commands could tell a curious tale, if they liked, of the shifts resorted to for the purpose of making up the annual battalions and drafts in relief for India, the dislocation which yearly ensues, the consultations as to the working of short service and long service, the effect on the Reserve, and so forth. No imputation or blame is conveyed in the foregoing words. It is simply the statement of a fact, the result of unerring causes. The military authorities have placed on them a burden greater than they can bear. We have reached the point of acting on the principle that what