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THE ARMY, THE VOLUNTEERS,…

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THE ARMY, THE VOLUNTEERS, AND THE PEOPLE. IF the history of any civilised nation be car- ried back far enough, we shall find that there was on the one hand an aristocracy of officers, and on the other a body of serfs. The relative position of the two parties was this, whatever their designation. Princes and bishops, barons and nobles were the governing classes; the people were an army of such and such a force, who were led to rude warfare at the beck and J call of We may ser- not only the jrqeeg of this mm- 1 tary antagonism of class in modern society, but the aristocratic principle of government has continued to be an essential part of the system. Let auy one glance at the history of the wars of Europe during the last century, and they cannot fail to be struck with the aristocratic rank of the generals, commanders, and officers (qnite irrespective in many cases of their mere military rank), and with the undistinguished level of the mass of the army. Soldiers as a rule have always been drawn from the poorest ranks of society. So far as the machinery of the army has been concerned, they have, in fact, lost their individuality in the mass. It has been the fashion extravagantly to praise the Duke of Wellington. As a soldier, a general, and a statesman, we say not a word against him; but our thoughts naturally revert to him when the army is under consideration. Nor is it without purpose that allusion is made to this great general, for we regard him as, we trust, the last powerful exponent of the predo- minance of the aristocratic element in our army. The Duke of Wellington was essentially a great drill-master. He was what may be called an intense soldier. He looked upon mankind from a military point of view. lie re- garded the people of the several countries of I Europe as a body, so many strong, to be kept! in order by such and such regulations, all more or less conceived in the military spirit. To the mass of the army he was severely just, but his mode of treating men was not that of the phi- lanthropist. He was no admirer of soldiers' libraries or of lectures in the barrack room, nor would he have approved of many of those ameliorations of the soldier's position which have taken place of late years. To the Duke of Cambridge are due many of those improve- ments which speak well for the progress of society. A soldier's life is not now a desirable one, nor, perhaps, will it ever be desirable under any regime whatever. But the position of our gallant defenders-naval as well as military—has become higher than it ever was. In the present day there is nothing in the calling of a soldier or a sailor inimical to self-respect as a man and a citizen. A great blow has been struck at the purely aristocratic officering of the army, by a recent regulation. The General Commanding-in- Chief has ordered that in future the prices for commissions in the cavalry will be as followsj Lieutenant-colonel, 4,5001., instead of 6,175Z.; major, 3,300Z., instead of 4,575l.; captain,1 1,800l., instead of 3,225/ lieutenant, 700l., in- stead of 1,1901. and cornet, 450/ instead of 850/. The price which an officer will pay on promotion by purchase to the higher ranks is also reduced in about the same apportion while several other reductions are made in what may be popularly expressed as the cost of being an officer. This new military law must have a beneficial effect in bringing down officering of the army within the means of the middle classes; and just in proportion as it does this will it ultimately tend to popularise the army, and break down aristocratic barriers. Taking the defensive capability of the coun- try for granted as essential to our national well- being, the volunteer movement will also tend to raise the military morale of the country. ■ The volunteer defensive movement, now pro- gres&ing so favourably, will have a tendency to abolish recruiting, with all its lies and trickery. We have always regarded recruiting, as gene- rally carried on, as only one remove above the pressgang system. Now, however, there will be an improvement. The army having been raised in tone and respectability, there will be less occassion for the lies and deception of the re- cruiting sergeant; while the gradual develop- ment of the volunteer system will also, in time, obviate the necessity of having so numerous a standing army. Everything which developes the voluntary element in the defence of the na- tion, without impairing its efficiency, will tend to raise the character of the military profession. We rejoice that of late years our rulers have endeavoured to improve the position of the soldier, and that the people have come forward to aid in the voluntary defences of the country Both are powerful for good, and they are al- ready having a beneficial effect, not only in a military but in a moral point of view. -+-

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