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them, and which would, most probably, have been obtained, if other alterations had been made in our system in connection with them at the same time. At present they offer to the man little more than the opportunity to lay by at one time, in order that he may spend more recklessly at another. And there is a lurking feeling associated with them, that they have been instituted less from any actual good feeling towards the soldier, than from a wish that he should save in order to admit of his pension being maintained at the lowest possible limit. As a rule, the barest subsistence is given on discharge, and to eke this out and keep up appearances we expect that a man, with a shilling a day, is to practice a life of total self-denial, in order to put by something as an addition to it. We have, perhaps, acted on this principle long enough to have made ourselves aware of the trifling success that attends it. Whatever that success has been, if it is carefully examined and enquired into, it will be found much more apparent than real. •
The character of the service has, no doubt, materially altered for the better of late years, but this is mainly due to changes in public opinion; and to modifications in the punishment and general treatment of the soldier, rather than to our efforts to make him more provident, or to teach him better habits. The time has come when it is desirable that some steps should be taken with a view to these latter objects, and something more practical carried out with regard to them, than has yet been attempted.
The measures we have carried out with regard to limited enlistment, and what, practically considered, amounts to the abolition of corporal punishment, offers considerable encouragement to the institution of further reforms, if it does not establish an absolute necessity for making them. As long as men enlisted for life, and the lash was a common punishment, there could be little or no hope in doing anything, nor, as far as the efficiency of the service was concerned, did it much matter. The classes from whom we drew the mass of our soldiers were, moreover, far below those from whom we get a great number of them at the present moment, and their treatment did not materially deter others from coming forward to enlist. While this state of things existed, we might be content with the inducement we held out to recruits; but the case becomes widely different when the bulk of the population have so materially advanced in improvement as of late years; and when it may fairly be supposed, therefore, that the temptations to enlist, which may have been effectual enough in times gone by, are likely to continue no longer so.
It is quite certain, and has already been proved, that, as a knowledge of the nature of a soldier's life becomes more widely diffused—as it must do by means of limited enlistment, and by the greater interest which is growing daily in the army generally,—that the difficulties of voluntary enlistment, especially under the pressure of a war, will be very considerably augmented, unless some change is made in the small, and in the main delusive encouragement, held out to recruits at the present moment,
In countries where the conscription prevails, and where every member of the community incurs the chance of being compelled to serve as a soldier, or to find a substitute for whom he is obliged to pay heavily. there appears no good reason why a man who has incurred no physical incapacity, in consequence of his having been in the army, should have any claim for remuneration after he is dismissed from it. He has done no more than his neighbour, in some form or other, has had to do; and if he is nothing the worse in health or limb by means of it, there seems no particular reason why he should expect to be continued as a burthen on the state after his service is over. He has done nothing more than pay a tax which the laws of his country levies upon all alike. There is no voluntary act on his part in becoming a soldier which exempts others. In a country, the constitution of which is based on the principle that military duty is paramount to all others, the soldier returns to civil life, after his five or seven years of military service, certainly not worse, if he is not better qualified, to make his way in the world than be was before he became a conscript. His position is the same as that of the great mass of the community around him, all of whom have a sympathy with him, from a feeling that his lot might have been theirs, and will probably be that of friends or relations to-morrow.
Circumstances change a good deal when soldiers are made an exceptional class, and when an army is raised and maintained purely by means of voluntary enlistment. In the latter case, certain men are induced to undertake a dangerous, important, and in many respects perhaps, an irksome profession, from which the many are, by means of them, altogether exempted. These inducements should be real and substantial, not false and illusory; and they should be proportionate with the wealth and the greatness of the country, which are thus protected and maintained by means of the spirit, the love of enterprise, or the patriotism of those who are prompted to come forward. It is only fair and reasonable that the country at large, which so materially benefits by this arrangement, should give no niggardly reward in proportion; and that a system so evidently advantageous to it should be efficiently worked out, and with a greater spirit of justice and liberality than is now accorded to it.
There is no better time than that of peace like the present, to discuss and decide in what way, and with what kind of encouragement, good and eligible recruits can be induced to enlist, and to consider whether those which have been hitherto held out are consistent with the desire so frequently expressed, to improve the character of the soldier, and to make him more thoughtful and reflecting than he has hitherto been.
In any system we adopt no doubt the first object must be that of obtaining an adequate number of recruits to maintain the army at the strength required by the country and voted by Parliament; but we were utterly unable to do this at the time we most wanted, during the late war, under our present system; and it is evident, therefore, that the inducements we hold out work unevenly if not unjustly, and that they are only adequate to meet the exigencies of ordinary times. When a pressure comes, we are compelled to lose sight of fitness altogether, and to consider quantity rather than quality, more than is at all conducive to our interests in the attainment of our objects. There is great folly and extravagance in our proceedings in this respect, for we took recruits during the late war that were utterly useless, and
U. S. Mao., No. 343, Juse, 1857. 'u
who never could or did do a day's duty. The bounty was considerably increased, and the standard was dwarfed to the most stunted dimensions; character was altogether set aside, and even ticket-of-leave men were gladly accepted. Undersized and weakly men even found their way in considerable numbers into the ranks of our best paid corps, the Artillery.
If the war had gone on, the British army would soon have been made up of the very dregs of the population, both morally and physically; and that at a cost which, if judiciously applied, might have given it the very best materials. Large sums were wasted by desertion, to which the increased bounty was a temptation, in order to re-enlist and receive it over again, and larger still, by the utter worthlessness of many of the recruits brought in. They consisted of mere boys, or of men too far advanced in life ever to make soldiers. They were generally unable to endure the slightest hardship, and they only joined the army to sicken and fill the hospitals. If ever a system failed when it was most required, that now in force for raising recruits for the army most certainly did so; and with the undeniable fact before us, we should not delay to endeavour to find a remedy, more especially while the opportunity and the leisure are both afforded us for doing so. We ought to see if we cannot contrive some better principle to induce men to enlist than that of giving them the means, in the shape of bounty, of some three or four days' indulgence in drunkenness and dissipation, such as is now the case. There is surely some better and perhaps not more costly arrangement by which this might be done, and by which the supply of recruits would be more uniformly regulated. The offer of large bounties by which in war, we have always hitherto endeavoured to get out of our difficulties, is at best but a rough and barbarous expedient, and, without answering our purposes in a satisfactory manner, it is in the end the most extravagant. It is attended, moreover, by many evident and demoralising objections, which ought by themselves to condemn it. The money thus inconsiderately bestowed is now expended in the pothouse or the brothel, and the first step is often made by means of it into habits of drunkenness and dissipation, which are never afterwards got rid of. All this is well known, and yet the same system goes on. We are theorising as to the means of improving the soldier, while, practically, we in some respects try to make him worse than he might otherwise be. It is well understood the purpose for which a bounty is given, and it is very seldom that it is ever turned to any other. The man who receives it can scarcely help himself: he must spend the money as others have spent it before him. He treats and is treated, and in this boasted age of enlightenment we go on and encourage men to sell themselves for the advantage of the community at large, for the sake of a temporary and disgraceful indulgence, as likely as not to injure them for the very purpose for which we require them. Good recruits are frequently corrupted and ruined in this way; but it is principally with the idle, the thoughtless, and the profligate, that it has the most influence, and it is with them in consequence, when the danger is the greatest, that our ranks are filled. It can hardly be expected in our army generally, that the men it is most desirable to have to support the honour and reputation of the country will come forward under such a system. They will hardly care to risk life and limb for the sake of a few pounds more or less, thus paid over to them with such miserable limits and conditions as to pensions, as are now in accordance with the regulations.
There is perhaps nothing that requires more caution, or careful consideration, than alteration in these mutters, but the necessity for it must become evident to any one who will reflect on the subject, and who is at all conversant with the evil of things as they are. It is submitted that a better plan with regard to the bounty, instead of giving it to the recruit on enlistment, would be to place it to his credit in the savings' bank, and allowing it to accumulate there with interest and compound interest, to be given to him on his discharge; and that, if this were accompanied with better pensions on discharge, and no additional, or good conduct pay while serving, far more progress would be made than is now the case to make the soldier provident, and to induce him to enter the service.
No possible benefit, but rather the contrary, can ever accrue to the soldier by the bounty as it is now given. It can hardly be presumed that such a purpose is intended. It seems to be meant as a lure, and nothing else. The good conduct pay, though much better conceived, is not very different. It is in most cases as mischievously and injuriously disposed of, and, at all events, does the soldier no permanent good. Added to his pay, it leaves the latter still of no very large amount; and if that pay is based originally on what, considering all other advantages, is deemed fair and just, there is no reason why it should be thus increased. It would be lar better to increase the pension on discharge. No one who knows anything of the soldier and what he is exposed to, will advocate any addition to his pay so long as that pay is equal to affording him some reasonable indulgence and amusement; they would always prefer to see him get more when he is leaving the service and most requires it; and the low pay while serving should be given to him on the distinct understanding that if crippled or disabled in the performance of his duty, or if his constitution has become affected through the same cause, that he will, no matter what his length of service may have been, be well cared for for the rest of his life; and that, in like manner, even without such disability, after a fair length of service, he will be assured a pension, at first, in accordance with his capabilities to help himself, to be increased so as to secure him the full wages, or very nearly, of his class, when these capabilities cease either through age or from any other cause.
It should be a fair bargain on both sides, and if the man gives, in honest and well-conducted service, the days of his health and strength to his country, the latter should stand by him with no stepmother's generosity when he finds himself in his decline. It is conceived that if this principle was acted up to in a liberal spirit, that it would offer the most desirable means for recruiting the army, and that, under no circumstances would it be found to fail in inducing eligible men to come forward as soldiers.
Each recruit should have his kit complete on joining, and be started on his daily pay perfectly clear of all debt; and the bounty -which he now obtains, and which goes to the canteen, should be used as an encouragement for him to add to it as far as he could, by being put in the savings' bank.
There is one anomaly with regard to pensions that, whatever else may be done, ought certainly to be removed, and that is, that the most unequal services are treated and rewarded as if they were exactly alike. Whether a man has been over and over again engaged in action, and acquitted himself most gallantly, or whether he has never been engaged at all—whether he has served all his life in England, or all his life out of it, his pension is just the same. Indeed, it may and does often happen in the artillery, and possibly in some cases in the rest of the army also, that the less a man has been exposed to the risks of battle or of climate the more he has a chance of getting on his discharge. The gunner who has been perhaps a servant all his life, or who has merely distinguished himself as a garrison sweeper at Woolwich, or in some other useful but not very dangerous or arduous occupation, may, and sometimes does, get more, by means of the medal and gratuity, than the man of Alma, or of Inkermann, or of the trenches, during the sie^e of Sebastopol. The one is best known at head-quarters, where such things are given, while the other, roughing it all over the world, is often unintentionally forgotten. A step might be taken to remove this injustice by awarding a certain sum for each successful battle and campaign in which a man was engaged. Again placing this sum to his credit in the savings' bank to accumulate like his bounty, and only to be given to him on his discharge. At present, nothing but passive good conduct meets with any pecuniary advantage; the most active gallant behaviour gets nothing. In the soldier it is never recognised at all. As goodservice pensions are given to officers, there seems nothing to prevent some similar reward being given to the men also. It is only a wonder, considering the smallness of his pension if he happens to lose a limb, and that he gets nothing at all by it under any other circumstances, that the latter exposes himself at all. He certainly has no encouragement to do so any more than he can help. The fear of punishment is the only thing held out to him. The hope of reward is not thought of in the regulations regarding him. In France the Legion of Honour carries some pounds, shillings, and pence per annum with it; but in England, even the wearer of a Victoria Cross may find himself in the parish workhouse, or, at the best, out of it with nothing but a shilling a-day.
Surely the board to decide upon pensions to soldiers should have greater discretionary power allowed them than they have at present; and in case of prolonged colonial service, or of men being engaged, some distinction might be shown as to pension, if the proposal of a sum of money at the time is not thought desirable.
As the pension warrants are at present, it is nothing short of painful, to see how we have been treating great numbers of men since the conclusion of the war, many of whom served from the beginning to the close of it, and bearing good characters. We were mean enough to accept the purchase money for their discharges from some of those thus situated, while, in the more recent reduction of the establishment, we have sent men adrift, against their own wishes, without a farthing, and