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Family Notices




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OUR CITIZEN ARMY. WHATEVER may be the ultimate result of this most disastrous war in South Africa, I it has served to show unmistakably that the volunteer force of the country are a source of real strength to the country. For many years our citizens have been playing at soldiers,' with the result that many of them are, to all intents and purposes, as efficient as the regular soldier. In fact, as marksmen, they are considered better and more efficient than the regular army. An opportunity has now been given to the volunteers—and by this term we mean the several branches of our auxiliary forces-to show what they are capable of. We regret the necessity, but we cannot but congratu late the country upon the result of the in- vitation issued for assistance at a critical period in the country's bistcry. It should, however, be thoroughly understood that all those who now consent to serve in South Africa do so voluntarily. As volunteers, or as yeomen, none cf these men were bourd by their oaths to serve outside the British Isles, so that they are volunteers in more ways than one. We may mention that the yeomanry and volunteers of this country number 275,854, and on an occasion like the present, the fact that the country has such a vast army at its beck and call, is an object lesson which possibly could not be learnt by continental powers in any other way. Not within the memory of living men, and never perhaps in the course of our country's history, have such scenes been witnessed as those which attended the de- parture of the first half of the City of Lon- don Imperial Volunteers. To say that the volunteers had no reason to complain of enthusiasm would be to describe but feebly the patriotic ardour of the crowd which was of such an intense description that many of the men must have felt inclined to repeat the remark of Marshal Villars, 1 Defend me from my friends;' the City, the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's, the legal pro- fession, and the general populace, all united to do honour to the men who had been selected from various corps to form the regiment which will represent essentially the City of London. The latter fact was emphasised when the volunteers received the freedom of the City of London, the highest honour which the Corporation can bestow. As the Lord Mayor explained, the title is by no means an unmeaning one, for the City has at its disposal, funds which it would probably not be slow to devote to the assistance of necessitous widows and orphans of any of the latest freemen. Later on, the citizen srldiers attended an impressive service in St. Paul's Cathedral, after which they were entertained at supper by the Benchers of the Inner Temple. Thfs was probably the first occasion upon which distinguished members of the legal profes- sion had vied with each other in distributing provisions to a party assembled in one of their ancient halls. The gathering in such circumstances was a striking and heart- warming incident, but perhaps the chief feature of the whole proceedings was the speech of Mr. Justice Grantham. The learned judge had a high reputation as an orator before he was promoted to the bench, and the remarks in which he tendered a welcome to the guests, proved that he bad lost none of his old skill. Himself an old volunteer, he explained that the special reason for this gathering was to be found in the fact that many members of the Inns of Court Rifles-known to the general public as 'the Devil s Own '-bad joined the City Imperial Volunteers. He alluded briefly to the reverses which have been experienced by our troops, but pointed out that 'the British race of to-day has been formed not by victory over its enemies, but by over- coming dangers, difficulties, and defeats.' Mr. Justice Grantham rendered something of a national service by reminding us of this fact which some of us are apt to forget when bad news comes from South Africia. It is true that the operations of our troops have not always been successful, but the valour of the British soldier has been de- monstrated in a way that finds few paral- lels in our rough island story, rich as tbat story is in deeds of heroism. Very much to the inconvenience of the regiment, the admiration and patriotism of the metropoli- tan public, manifested themselves when the troops were leaving, and not only were the volunteers greatly hampered in their journey to the railway station, but many of them bore evidence in their khaki uniform and accoutrements, of the boisterous cord- iality of the crowds through which they had passed. At Southampton, whither the Lord Mayor and sheriffs had preceded them, they met a very hearty, but less tumultuous reception, and no lime was lost in getting them on board the vessels which bad been patriotically placed at the disposal of the Government. The same scenes have been enacted all over the country, and Welshmen have not been backward, in showing their apprecia- tion of the men, who have volunteered to serve in South Africa. We question, bow ever, if the welcome given to the men has cot, on many occasions, been wrongly di- rected. On nearly every occasion the men have been made more or less intoxicated by drinks, forced upon them by too zealous friends. Apart from the morality of the question, we feel sure that the men them- selves would prefer to have their last recol- lections of their country, and all their friends unaccompanied by sickness and headache. We do not blame the men. We simply protest against the mistaken kind- ness of those who give them a send off. Whilst thus admiring the courage and devotion of our fellow countrymen, and raising no question as to their efficiency on the field of battle, we hope by the time they arrive in South Africa thafe the war will be over, and that their services, after all, will not be required.

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