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wanted,” in which case, a small one would not be refused :-that is to say, the alms would be thrown to the beggar if it were sued for with sufficient humility or importunity; but she is to get her “board, lodging, washing, &c.” If this be somewhat mysteriously expressed, it is yet well calculated to excite the youthful imagination. What is, or are, we would ask, a young lady's &c. ? Something above and beyond her board, her lodging, and her washing, at any rate. Last, not least, of all, she is to live “in the bosom of the family.” It is really too good, too rich. Live in their bosom . It ought to be, she will starve, and pine away, and die there. Or, if she did live, would it be either much to be marvelled at, or much to be lamented, would it be other than retributive justice, if she were some day to turn upon and sting the bosom that had afforded her such a shelter 2
MoonLight on all ! still and inseparate,
Cawr Axa BARRAck-Room ; or, THE BRITISH ARMY As it Is. Post 8vo. London: Chapman & Hall.
Tashorrors of war are supposed to consist alone in carnage, rapine, and destruction of all kinds: the abandonment of all domestic happimess, and the perpetual retardation of civilisation. But whoever peruses this book will find that the evils of war do not consist alone in the miseries occasioned by its violent movement through the unhappy land it visits. That it is not alone the habitations its merciless engines sweep down; it is not alone the blood it sheds with its sabres and bavonets; it is not alone the furious unbridled lusts and cruelties its foowers gratify and perpetrate in the hour of battle and triumph that occasion so much woe to mankind. This little book (small in comparison to the magnitude of the subject) will show that even to its own members the following of war as a profession must necessarily be degrading: that an army is an ignorant mob, kept from open violation of the law by the most brutal treatment; but containing within itself the most frightful amount of fraud, servility, and licentiousness that can be imagined. The one hundred thousand men thus banded together without any of the domesticities that soften, and to a certain extent humanise the coarsest peasant, are only educated to a false standard of morality. Cringing servility, or in other words implicit obedience to the commands of a superior they cannot respect, is the one great cardinal virtue of a soldier. If the men commanding them were philanthropists and Solomons it would be bad enough for human nature even then to be nothing more than a machine, and the unreasoning and unresisting tool of another. But when it is known that the officers of the army generally comprise (we will grant there are honourable exceptions) the silliest weakest fops of aristocratic and rich families, we may easily suppose that they have no other idea than that the men placed under their command are the matériel wherewith they are to win laurels and honours, and so ladies' hearts. There seems to be no real kindly feeling in the army (and we have read many military works from the officers towards the men—not so much as a huntsman has to his hounds, nor a man of ordinary feeling towards his horses: indeed, it would seem as if any such feeling would be deemed derosatory, as mingling too much the two classes—officers and men— who are divided by an impassable gulph. It is a perfect system of physical force; and when any loftier kind of human feeling or human nature at all breaks forth, it is in the hour of the greatest excitement, when false and unmeaning watchwords are used, and we must say basely because empirically used, to stimulate men to a disregard of life.
This book, written in a plain, and it may be said unconscious style, will reveal to the reflective reader more arguments against military proceedings, and raise more doubts as to the lawfulness and necessity of war than many others written for the purpose of exposing and denouncing the military system.
The ..i. seems to be what he states, “A Late Staff Serjeant of the 13th Light Infantry,” and one who, being, desirous of travelling, adopted enlistment as the only mode in which he could gratify the vagrant feeling. He tells a “round unvarnished tale,” and certainly has less of the habit of “bragging and telling fantastical lies” than from time immemorial has been ascribed to the soldier story-teller. The charm and utility of his book is that he narrates what he knows of his own knowledge with plain good sense, and with considerable graphic power; and he certainly shows that “the British Army as it is" is not at all what the British Army ought to be. We will give a few sentences, from a great number, significant of the state of these shillinga-day heroes:–
“Arrived at Rochester, I remained at a public-house, agreeably to the instructions of the old staff-sergeant, until he came up with the other recruits, when we proceeded together to the barracks, and being there duly handed over by him to the proper authorities, were marched to the receiving-house. The number of recruits already there was upwards of two hundred, the larger part of whom were in no way distinguished for orderly conduct, while many of them had vice and ruffianism stamped indelibly on their faces. “It was, however, only natural to expect that characters of this description should be met with in a place where the very offscourings of several of the principal cities of the United Kingdom were congregated. Rogues and scoundrels were jumbled together en masse; and these, despite their relationship, agreed in no one respect, save in fleecing their more simple companions, by means of cards, pitch and toss, &c., to the utmost extent of their knavish abilities, and in utter contempt of Her Majesty's regulations touching gambling. They likewise indulged without restraint in the use of the most foul and abominable language, and I certainly felt considerable pain of mind as I asked myself, are these to be my future companions! Hard fare I little cared for, and it mattered not to me how rough my bed might be; privations of this nature are inseparable from a soldier's lot; but the prospect of mingling for any lengthened period with some of the individuals I saw in the receiving-house, was, I must acknowledge, excessively disheartening. I was not then aware what a surprising alteration for the better in many respects, subjection to a strict and uniform discipline would effect in them in a little time. “All recruits on their first arrival at Chatham are sent to the receivinghouse; hence its name; and are obliged to remain there until they the garrison doctor, and are finally approved of by the lieutenant-colonel of the provisional battalion; when they receive their uniforms, and are sent to their several depôts. The sleeping accommodations in this place were anything NO. XXIV.-WOL. IV. 0 0
but of the best; no one being allowed sheets, because they are said to be retentive of a certain contagious disease, of a most disagreeable though not very dangerous character: and as to the beds, they were, as one of my companions facetiously expressed it, like the continent of Asia, thickly peopled with black, brown, and white inhabitants. The origin and perpetuation of this nuisance may in part be ascribed to the uncleauly habits of some prior to enlistment.”
So much has lately been said on flogging, that we shall pass over the many examples given of the detestable mode of brutalising the soldier; nor need we, unately, crave for examples of this special outrage to excite attention to the subject. The following sample of the conduct of the Non-commissioned Officers will give further insight to the morale of the Army.
“There was also another cause tending to the same object-the harshness with which recruits were treated, in numberless instances, by noncommissioned officers, who tyrannised over them with the greatest impunity. These having sufficient art to veil their true character from their superiors, whose favour they propitiated by officiousness and servility, adopted out of very wantonness a system of domineering towards new-comers, sheltering themselves in the ignorance of the latter as to military laws and usages. I have frequently heard it stated since by every class of soldiers, and my own experience leads me to be of the same opinion, that the generality of the non-commissioned staff at Chatham are morally the lowest and most contemptible of their grade in the service. It is a fact, of the truth of which I have myself been often a witness, that some of them are perfect adepts in every species of fraud, and the larger part are of the most depraved habits otherwise—the recessary result . laxity of principle, and protracted stay in a vicious neighbourhood; for they would move heaven and earth were it possible, sooner than join their regiments (whose colours they had mostly never seen) on foreign stations
“On myo: I was made to pay for clothing, which I should have got gratis: at the time of my discharge I compelled the sergeant who paid the depôt then, and who is now pay and colour sergeant with the regiment, to refund the money he cheated me out of, by threatening to claim it before the board about to assemble for the purpose of recording my services, conduct, and cause of discharge. Others were treated in the same way who enlisted with me; but those died or volunteered in India, or were ignorant of what they were entitled to: at all events no claim but mine was ever made.
“It is indeed a curious circumstance, that, under the very eye of the home authorities, the young soldier is perhaps worse treated than in any other part of the British dominions, both as regards his clothing and his food: even his scanty surplus pay is frequently the object of the most scandalous peculation. He being altogether ignorant of what he is entitled to, and therefore obnoxious to every extortion, is plundered by those military blacklegs—those Majors Monsoon of the present period—with the greatest ease, and the least possible compunction. Aware of what must be the answer, they listen with indifference to the commandant, as he asks the recruit, when about to embark for India, whether he has any complaints to make. The reply to this question has been almost invariably in the negative. Indeed, few recruits, were they even aware of their being cheated, possess the ability and information requisite to make a report of a superior with any prospect of success; and otherwise, they become subject to trial by courtmartial for making frivolous complaints.”
But it were endless to quote the passages indirectly indicative of the extreme evil attending military life ; we shall conclude with the following:—
“We got our batta the day before the anniversary of Ghuznee, and the canteen was then wisely thrown open without any restrictions, the time affording a plausible pretext for giving the men every indulgence. Any one who wished, was allowed to bring liquor into the barracks, and for three days there was a scene of desperate drunkenness. The sergeant of the canteen assured me that during this period his receipts were upwards of 10,000 rupees (1000l. sterling) for liquor. Yet notwithstanding the expenditure of this large sum, there was remitted to the agents in England shortly after, by the non-commissioned officers, and privates of the corps, no less a sum than 1500l. This proved that more of the batta was made a good than a bad use of, at least at that time; and had there been a savings bank in the regiment, I am certain that much more would have been laid by.”
Whether war and morality are compatible; whether the man can be elevated without destroying the soldier; whether the bloodhound can be tamed into the gentle poodle; are problems which will be solved by the coming age. ether war is a necessary evil; whether a determination on the part of every country to defend its own frontier; whether railroads and copyright acts, and the mutual intercourse of minds and persons, will not do away with war as a profession; are questions it may now be thought very absurd to ask. But there can be little doubt, we think, that it will be said they can ; and even before the last hour has chimed of this the nineteenth century. There may remain untameable classes, and perhaps nations, who will be looked upon in the same manner as wild beasts are now on the borders of our remoter settlements; and if they cannot be tamed, they will exhaust themselves by their internal strife, or in being repelled from their attacks on their civilised brothers. That it ought to be the case no one reading this book can doubt, we think, if it were only to get rid of the banding together thousands of men by the mere aid of physical force, and thus planting in various neighbourhoods amoral contagion. Fraud, violence, servility, debauchery, being overlaid by glittering gauds and a superficial varnish which but ill conceal the coarseness and vileness of the original material. No one can doubt, from this book, that the basest mode of existence to which a man can be reduced is that of a common soldier.