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THE EAST AFRICA PROTECTORATE AS A EUROPEAN Colony. By Sir
Charles Eliot .
Mann. . : :
** Morley , :vir TSTIMATES. By the Right Hon.
By the Lady Currie . .
EXPERIENCE. By Wilfrid Scawen Blunt . . . .
ENGLAND, GERMANY, AND AUSTRIA. By Sir Rowland Blenner hassett
THE RUSSIAN SOLDIEP. By Carl Joubert.
. . . .
PALMISTRY IN CHINA. By Herbert A. Giles
The eight signatories of the Majority Report of the Royal Commission on the Militia and Volunteers have no reason to be dissatisfied with the reception of their Report by the public, presuming, of course, that the utterances of the Press may be taken as indicative thereof. The record of their work is in four Blue-books. The first gives, in seventy-eight pages, the two Royal Warrants creating the Commission, the Majority Report (with two schedules), a short memorandum by Lord Grenfell, a long memorandum of twenty-six pages by Colonel O'Callaghan-Westropp, two minority reports contributed by three of the Commissioners, and two short appendices. The second and third books give the minutes of evidence, which comprise no fewer than 24,150 questions and answers; the fourth gives 275 pages of close reading in the form of appendices. In these appendices are not only returns showing numbers, cost, &c., but among them is a huge amount of evidence given in writing by societies existing among the Auxiliary Forces; by witnesses who had appeared before the Commission, and who desired to amplify their verbal evidence; and, finally, a summary of answers to a circular of questions
VOL, LVI-No. 329
sent to the commanding officer of each Militia and Volunteer unit. It is practically a third volume of evidence. And within forty-eight hours the verdict is pronounced, and it is almost, but not quite, unanimously one of condemnation.
But the jury were only human beings; and, therefore, real judicial consideration of the evidence on which the Report is based was obviously out of the question in this short time; so it necessarily follows that the adverse judgment must have been arrived at on some grounds quite different from the evidence on which the Commissioners formed their opinions. And with the condemnation came an amount of ‘drubbing' the Commissioners that reminds me of the old advice: 'If you have a bad case, don't reply to your opponent's arguments, but abuse him.'
A few specimens, taken from some of the London daily papers, and all written, be it remembered, almost immediately after the four volumes came into the hands of the respective writers, and before there was time to do more than give the very hastiest glance over this enormous mass of evidence, are illustrative of the spirit of this condemnation. A more inadequate document of its kind has rarely been published. “Its [the Commission's] head was turned from the beginning by the spectacle of a Cabinet bowing before Lord Esher's triumvirate. “The Report reads like the crudest production of the most sensational journalist of the Jingo school.' The Report is an impudent document,' and the Commissioners were guilty of a 'sublime piece of audacity. The Commissioners ' did not know very clearly what they were about. The Commission was not very strongly constituted,' and when, a week later, Mr. Arnold-Forster stated in the House of Commons that the Government did not intend to endorse the recommendation of the Commission so far as adopting conscription, we read of the 'absurd conscription scheme'--à Commission of 'military officers and theorisers.' 'To say that it [the Report] has fallen flat would be to put the case very mildly. As a matter of fact, it has met with contemptuous and almost unqualified condemnation.' Evidently it is on some very tender toe that the Commission has trodden; and to the injured toe a clue is found in the allegation that the Commission has acted ultra vires, and has inquired into and reported on matters not included in the terms of reference. And we run the quarry to ground in the first paragraph of the leading article of the Times, which paper, with one or two others, has kept aloof from the shouting crowd. 'The Report of the Royal Commission on the Militia and Volunteers, whatever may be thought of its specific proposals, is bound to derive an historical importance from the fact that it is the first official document of the kind to enunciate and endorse the principle of compulsory military service.
Yes, it is the recommendation of the adoption of the principle
that it is the bounden duty of every able-bodied male adult to take part efficiently, if called on to do so, in the defence of hearths and homes, that has aroused this outburst of anger and abuse; and the wrath exhibited is sure to be intensified by the cool, merciless, unemotional, and logical process adopted by the Commission in laying bare and open to the public gaze the actual and pitiable situation in which we stand as regards the defence of our homes at the present time.
And even if this charge, ultra vires, were maintainable, as I hold it is not, surely the Commission deserves gratitude, not condemnation, for telling us what it believes to be the plain truth, and for endeavouring to awaken the country to the fact that we are, as regards defence of our homes, living in a fools' paradise. If the Commissioners are wrong, and our paradise is one not for fools only, surely it will not be a very difficult task for some of their opponents to explain to us the errors and fallacies underlying the assertions of the Commissioners. But, before doing this, there is some work for them; they will have to go carefully through the evidence on which the conclusions that irritate them are based, and they will have to produce in support of their case evidence as worthy of respect as that given by the competent witnesses called before the Commission. The opinions formed by the Commissioners are not mere theoretical fancies of their own; they are derived from the evidence brought before them, and which they have considered judicially. It is regrettable that a very high-class London paper should write of the Commissioners : ‘Unfortunately, they were too much enamoured of their hobby to make any serious contributions towards the solution of the problem presented to them .... the Government have lost no time in declaring that they will have nothing to do with the scheme. It would have been unfortunate if the fantastic notion had been treated with any sort of indulgence.' Why it should be supposed that with the Dukes of Norfolk and Richmond, the Earl of Derby, Lord Grenfell, and their colleagues, compulsory service for home defence is a ' hobby' is incomprehensible ; characterising universal service for home defence, which not one of the dissentient members regards as totally out of the question, as a 'fantastic notion,' indicates, on the part of the writer, the possession of an amount of confidence in his own opinion that few soldiers or sailors who have studied the subject possess. Had the Report been of a milk-and-water, colourless character, it would soon have been consigned to the limbo of ephemeral Blue-books, and no one would have troubled himself to read the evidence; but when the eight signatories, known not to be fools, are held up to sneers and ridicule on the one hand, and the Times, on the other hand, affirms that the Report is of historical importance, these eight men are bound to receive their reward, in the certainty that
in his part of the wei question, as
such a peculiar reception is certain to draw to the Report and the evidence the attention of all thinking men.
The Commissioners were directed to 'inquire into the organisation, numbers, and terms of service of our Militia and Volunteer Forces; and to report whether any, and, if any, what, changes are required in order to secure that these forces shall be maintained in a condition of military efficiency and at an adequate strength. The Commissioners commenced their inquiry, it may be presumed, with impartial minds; but as they were directed to report how to secure the maintenance of these forces in an efficient condition and in adequate strength, it was only after ascertaining the functions those forces would have to fulfil that the inquiry could be further extended. The Garde Nationale in France was thoroughly efficient in 1870–71 if it knew enough to be able to defend its own localities ; for the Garde Mobile, intended to form part of the mobile army, a much higher standard of efficiency was necessary. A very small staff and but little equipment were needed for the one ; a highly trained and complete staff and much impedimenta were the necessary requirements for the other. Similarly as regards the officers and non-commissioned officers; whilst the Garde Mobile must be complete in these, and it was only good, well-trained soldiers that could be leaders, their local influence and position might go very far to counterbalance professional deficiencies in the Garde Nationale in local defence. Had I had the honour of being one of the Commissioners, I should have joined most firmly with my colleagues in demanding this preliminary information respecting the functions, for there would have recurred to my mind a lecture delivered at the Royal United Service Institution by Lieut.-Colonel Eustace Balfour on the 28th of November, 1895, when he spoke as follows:
Volunteering is, in two respects, similar to the labours of the Israelites in their efforts to make bricks without straw. The clay we have of good quality and in sufficient abundance ; but we lack time to harden it, and money to spend on the more modern appliances for its manufacture. With the financial side of the question I am not to-day concerned, I therefore put that aside ; but for the rest we all know what would be the result if a bricklayer's apprentice were to set himself to erect a structure of half-burnt bricks. Not only would that structure present all the failures of ignorance, but the bricks would be twisted out of shape, and would have to be remoulded before they could again advance in the process of manufacture.
In the course of the discussion that followed, I protested, as a retired soldier-civilian, as I did later on in an article in this Review, against the walls for the defence of my own locality being constructed of bricks of this kind. But Lord Wolseley, who presided at the lecture and had just become Commander-in-Chief, made, in his summing-up, a remarkable statement. 'We must remember what