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reasonably be satisfied, or with greater number of young men of which those intrusted with the the right sort might be induced administration of the army have to enlist for short service, and so any great reason to be proud. In forth, &c., &c. But now that two other words, there is only one decades have passed since the first reasonable conclusion to be drawn institution of short service, and from these facts—viz., that the more than 450,000 short service popularity of military service is recruits have been enlisted, it waning more than ever in the would be too obviously futile to eyes of the classes from whom indulge in such hopes as these, our recruits are drawn.
inasmuch as it is evident these The recruiting reports, which expectations are not likely to be are published annually, furnish fulfilled. The conditions of the interesting records of the progress service, as they are at present, of recruiting from year to year as are by this time, it would seem, far as they go. It must be borne only too well known, and its adin mind, however, that these re- vantages are not patent, but very ports are official, and that, together much the reverse, to the classes with their merits, they have the which it would be desirable to atdefects of such documents. Their tract. Nay, more than this, in whole tone is necessarily hopeful last year's official report on and optimistic. The best and cruiting, a tone of despondency most favourable points are made may be detected, as if the officials the most of, whilst all unfavour- 'themselves were beginning to deable and awkward facts are ig- spair of being able to procure a nored or explained away.
It is sufficient number of men. Again, of course, natural and inevitable in an official circular recently pubthat this should be so; and no lished by the War Office, a pathone who has had experience of the etic and almost despairing appeal usages and requirements of official was made to the officers commandlife, could expect or suppose that ing districts to use every effort to it could be otherwise.
secure a larger number of recruits. 1 The English public has been Unfortunately, the classes from broken in, by long custom and which recruits are likely to come training, to regard these reports will no longer listen to the voice of as satisfactory, or at any rate the Inspector-General, “charm he to accept them the best ever so wisely.” After all that that can nowadays be reason- has been done and all that has ably hoped for. Recently, how- been spent during the last two ever,
a marked and significant decades, be obliged now to change of tone has been observ- issue such an appeal as this is able in the official port on re- virtually equivalent to a candid cruiting which is published every confession of utter failure. year. Up to a few years ago it It may be observed, however, was possible for Inspectors-Gene- by those who care to look below ral of Recruiting to express san
the surface and to think for themguine though somewhat vague selves, that these recruiting rehopes and expectations that, as the ports are eloquent by their silence conditions and advantages of the on certain important points upon service became better known, a which curiosity may legitimately be
1 The wisdom of issuing such a circular as this appears very doubtful.
felt, and upon which accurate in- thod which successive Inspectorsformation is absolutely necessary, General of Recruiting have been in order to form an accurate view able, owing to the restricted facts of the real state of affairs. and figures at their command, to For instance, in an army re
make use of for gauging the popcruited as ours is by voluntary ularity or unpopularity of army enlistment, it must surely be of service, has been to compare the great importance to have accurate number of recruits enlisted from and definite information upon the year to year. If the number of following points—viz. :
recruits enlisted shows a steady What is the average number of increase for a few years, recruiting young men between the ages of is confidently declared to be groweighteen and twenty-five (the ing in popularity.
the limits of age for the recruits) in other hand, the number decreases, the United Kingdom and Ireland ? the deficiency is explained away,
Secondly, At what average rate is declared to be merely temporary, does this number increase every
or is attributed to various causes, year ? (Considering the rate at such as the general activity of which our population grows, it is trade, the brisk demand for labour, evident that this increase must &c., &c. be very considerable.)
But it must be obvious to any Thirdly, What is the annual per- one who has considered the quescentage of such men who offertion that this is a very fallacious themselves for enlistment ? and defective method of gauging
One may search in vain through the popularity or unpopularity of the annual recruiting reports of army service. The state of the the last twenty years or so for labour market-i.e., the general any information upon, or briskness or slackness of tradereference to, these vitally import- must of course always, on the ant points; and, what is more whole, have a good deal of influstrange, no attempt ever appears ence one way or another in recruitto have been made to obtain any ing. But there are also one or definite information or trustwor- two other plain facts to be kept thy statistics upon
them. And in view with which the state of yet it is plain to any one who the labour market has nothing understands the subject that if whatever to do. the War Oflice did possess any These points are as follows :statistics, which were even ap- Owing to the large and increasproximately correct, upon these ing growth of our population important points, reaching back, from 1865-1850, there must be let us say, so short a period as a proportionately large and intwo or three decades, they would creasing number of young men be of great service in enabling the every year in the country, beInspector - General of Recruiting tween the ages of eighteen and to gauge, in a far more satisfactory twenty-five, who are eligible, as manner than at present he has any regards their age, for recruits. If opportunity of doing, whether this is true—and it is hard to see army service is increasing or de- low, in the face of the creasing in popularity in the eyes Returns, it can be gainsaid. ensus of those from whom our recruits are two inevitable conclusions to are drawn.
be drawn, which may be stated as Up to the present the only me- follows:
If military service were making inasmuch as the popularity of any real progress in popular favour, military service must be waning there would necessarily be an in- to a far greater extent than is creasing percentage of recruits of- generally admitted or supposed. fering themselves for enlistment These conclusions are irresistevery year, and this increased ible, and any arguments tending number should, in some degree, to gainsay them must be taken be proportionate to the increase for what they are worth. of the population from which our The ever-increasing growth of recruits are drawn.
our population, and the advantage The second conclusion is this- which the army at any rate ought
If, with a large and annually to derive from it, has of course a increasing percentage of men and most important bearing upon this youths from whom to draw re- whole question of enlistment and cruits every year, the annual num- recruiting; and it is worth while bers offering themselves for enlist- to look into it a little further, as ment is stationary, military service far as the somewhat scanty stais, and must be, waning instead tistics which are available for the of waxing in popular favour. In
purpose will allow. other words, a sufficient number The following figures from the of recruits is only maintained by Census Returns of 1871 and 1881, the ever-increasing number of men which were kindly furnished to and youths in the country from me some years ago by the Regiswhom recruits can be drawn. trars-General of England, Ireland,
If the number of recruits ob- and Scotland, will serve to throw tainable is diminishing, the state some light upon this subject :of the case is of course far worse, Number of males between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five at the Census of 1871.
1881. In England, 2,036,630 In England,
2,380,623 In Scotland, 305,770 In Scotland,
356,235 In Ireland, 472,858 In Ireland,
From the above return, it will eight and a half years from the be seen that the increase in ten middle of 1881 to the end of years between the above ages was 1889, the actual increase, at the 427,387, or at the rate of more rate of 43,000 a year, must, at than 43,000 a-year.1
the lowest computation, have been Taking into account the pro- 370,000 men and youths between gressive ratio of increase in the the ages of fifteen and twenty
1 In the Census Returns the ages of the population are arranged in quinquennial periods only. It is not, therefore, possible to ascertain the exact number of males between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, which are the limits of age for recruits. If at the coming census of this year, and at each succeeding census, the War Office could arrange with the Registrar-General's department to have a table compiled of the number of males between the ages of eighteen and twentyfive in Great Britain and Ireland, the figures and statistics hereby obtained would, in the course of a decade or two, be useful and valuable. It is to be feared, however, that such a return, if obtained this year, would tell too much !
five. Of this number of 370,000 no very great practical importit is fair to assume that about ance. In short, quocunque modo, seven-tenths-i.e., in round num
It must, however, be evibers, 260,000—were between the dent to any one who has at all ages of eighteen and twenty-five, considered the question, that this and therefore eligible for enlist- is a very superficial view of this ment.
matter. It is certain that if there From this rough calculation was a steadily increasing flow of alone, it will be seen how largely recruits year by year offering themthe mere growth of our popula- selves for enlistment, the War tion should, if only military ser- Oflice would have a far wider vice maintained its average level range of choice, and could afford of popularity, contribute to in- to be far more particular, than crease the number of men and at present, both as to physique youths who annually offer them- and also as to the character and selves for military service. If, antecedents of the men it would for instance, only one per cent consent to enlist. Any one acof this increased number of men quainted with our recruiting, and and youths existent in the United who knows the views and opinions Kingdom had been drawn last of the working classes regarding year into the net of the Inspector-army service, will recognise at General of Recruiting, it would once that the advantages which mean by this time a permanent would accrue to the general repincrease of 2500 recruits, and this utation of the army as a career, increased number would be grow- from an increased range of choice ing larger and larger year by year.
from which recruits could be But this increase would have drawn, would be very great. At arisen not from any increased present, unfortunately, the army popularity of the service (would is regarded by the more respectthat it were so !), but merely able working classes as
a profrom the natural increase of our fession to be shunned. If, howpopulation.
ever, the army was made more
difficult to enter, and if some In reply to all this, it will little evidence and knowledge of doubtless be answered that the a man's antecedents and charBritish army has during the last acter were required before he ten years managed, with more or was accepted, a very great step less success, to get through a large towards raising the social status amount of hard work in various would have been gained. parts of the world,—such as in With regard to age and physique, Afghanistan, Egypt, the Soudan, it will here be necessary to make the Cape, South Africa, &c., &c.; some remarks.
That the general and that though the supply of average physique of our soldiers is recruits is doubtless not so good deteriorating, there is, unfortunas it might be, either in quality ately, ample evidence in the oflicial or quantity, it has sufliced to figures to be found in the General enable the army to carry out Annual Return of the British the current work which has fallen Army to prove.
As a matter of to its lot to do; and that so long fact, it appears that the rank and as this is the case, all other con- file cannot be kept up to the level of siderations as to how these re- even recent years.
The return for sults have been obtained are of 1889 tells a worse tale than ever,
inasmuch as the average height of There is another point, and that men of the regular army is lower an unfavourable one, to be noticed. than it has ever been before. The Amongst the mass of daily and actual figures, as quoted in the weekly newspapers, published in return, are as follows:
London and the provinces, there There are no less than 23,255 are a certain number whose rôle men in the army under 5 feet 5 and raison d'être is to represent inches in height, and another the interests of the working classes, 34,351 (making in all a total of and which have a wide circulation 57,606) under 5 feet 6 inches in among them. As the War Office height. In other words, 235 out is one of the principal bidders in of every 1000 are now under this the market for unskilled labour, if measurement, whereas, ten years military service were fairly popular, ago, the proportion per 1000 under it is only natural to suppose that 5 feet 6 inches was but 190 men. the advantages and disadvantages Again, with regard to chest meas- of the service would sometimes be urement: ten years ago the pro- discussed in such papers as these, portion per 1000 men under 37 which never fail to discuss any inches was 562, and over 37 opening or opportunities for lainches 438. Now, however, it is bour which may happen to present 657
per 1000 under 37 inches, themselves. As a matter of fact, and 343 per 1000 that however, the topic of army service measurement. In the matter of is hardly ever touched upon in age, likewise,
the figures these papers, and certainly enlistequally discouraging. Ten years ment is never advocated as being ago the proportion per 1000 men a desirable trade. under twenty-five years was 507, There are, indeed, strange conand 493 over that age. Now, trasts and anomalies in the comhowever, it is 649 under twenty- position of the British army. Not five years and 351 over that age. the least striking of these is the
Even if these figures did not re- eagerness among the upper classes veal so alarming a state of things, to obtain a commission in her Mait could in any case hardly be jesty's service, compared with the maintained, even by the most en- marked reluctance of the workthusiastic optimist, that recruits ing classes to embrace a military who only measure 33–34 inches round the chest, whose height is Another curious anomaly is, 5 feet 3 inches, and whose weight that the British army has everyneed not be more than 125 lb., thing which goes to the making
fair average specimens of of a splendid army except the one young Englishmen between the thing, without which all other ages of eighteen and twenty-five. things are as naught — viz., an
A larger and a wider choice adequate supply of men. would enable the War Office to in- For small campaigns in various crease the standard of hei ht, chest parts of the world our voluntary measurement, and weight. As system of enlistment, and our plan matters stand at present, if any at present in vogue of skimming attempt were made to do this, the the cream of the army in order to immediate effect would inevitably carry them to a successful issue, at once, as experience has often has doubtless sufliced, and will shown, be a marked diminution continue to do so ; but a European in the number of recruits.
campaign of six months' duration