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be the subject of barter, is true in every sense ; although it has only gained general admission by degrees. From the time of Louis Quatorze to the Revolution, judgeships were regularly sold in France, and the practice was defended on the ground that it brought gentlemen and men of independent fortune to the bench of justice. The sale of commissions has been defended on the same ground; but does it bring gentlemen (i.e., gentlemen by birth and connection) into the service? Is it not nearer the mark to say that it brings rich men and sons of nouveaux riches? The Army List favours the impression that plutocracy rather than aristocracy is in the ascendant, especially in the high-priced cavalry regiments. The younger sons of the gentry cannot afford the expensive style of living introduced and fostered by the purchase system. Wealth in a rich country like England is certainly not a better test of gentility than education, and is far from implying either good breeding or good birth.
If money does not ensure gentility, it certainly does not guarantee height, strength, or health. I have seen subalterns who found it difficult to keep step, and mounted heroes, encased in warlike panoply, who resembled Guse Gibbie in Old Mortality. A good system of selection would embrace physical as well as mental or moral requisites ; and I see no reason for an apprehension prevalent amongst the fine ladies (who are all warm advocates of the purchase system) that, under the new order of things, a commission in the Guards might be claimed by an underbred man, five feet nothing, with a hectic cough.
I have already shown how the system operates in inducing good officers to leave the service in their prime. Instances abound in which good officers have been passed over or kept back. The case of Lord Clyde is well known. It was nearly twenty years after he had won the grade of captain by gallantry,
that he was enabled by the kindness of a friend who lent him the money, to purchase his lieutenantcolonelcy. He was wont to say that the debt thus incurred was like a millstone round his neck, and that the fear of dying before discharging it haunted him. Promoted as he should have been, he would probably have succeeded Lord Raglan in the command of the Crimean army, and the conclusion of the campaign would have assumed a totally different aspect.
Havelock was twenty-three years a subaltern, to his ineffable discontent despite his piety, as may be read in his Letters. To turn to the current Army List (July, 1871)_Lieutenant and Adjutant Wright, of the 9th Foot (sixteen years' service) had been purchased over fourteen times. Lieutenant and Adjutant Brownrigg (promoted in April last) had seen sixteen years' service and been purchased over twenty-two times. Captain Scotland, of the Chester Yeomanry, who was Lieutenant and Adjutant of the 7th Dragoons in March, 1870, had been twenty-five years in the service, fifteen
Lieutenant and Adjutant of the same regiment, and had seen seventeen officers pass over his head, all of whom he had instructed. No subaltern could be kept back so long in a non-purchase corps. The Lieutenant of Artillery who heads the list of Lieutenants of Artillery in the “Army List,' has been a Lieutenant thirteen years : the senior Lieutenant of Royal Engineers rather more than thirteen years. These periods include their entire service.
Adjutants are selected for knowledge and ability, and the three cases I have specified among many fully illustrate the working of the purchase system : they show that it is sheer accident who is floated or stranded by it: that efficiency and inefficiency are no more considered than if the matter were decided by a toss up. A good system should be uniform in its action. Instead of aiming at rapidity of circulation, it should
try to retain all officers of approved merit, promote them in due course, and afford no facilities for retirement except to the incapable or over-aged, as regards whom retirement should be compulsory.
If the grand or sole object were the infusion of young blood, we had better revert to the practice of giving commissions to boys in their cradles who grew to colonels in their teens, or to that pursued with Edward Waverley, who joined his regiment as captain in command of a troop, the intermediate steps being overleapt with great agility.' A high Irish official procured a cornetcy of horse for his daughter ; who drew the pay and appeared at a fancy ball in the uniform. The short jacket and tight pantaloons set off her figure to advantage; and noble lords and honourable colonels were never more zealous in maintaining that the system on the whole worked well.1
The worst of it was that old subalterns without money or interest were left out in the cold. There were so many of them, they formed so marked a feature of our society, that one or more figure in every popular novel of the period.
Lieutenant Lefevre, who had served two or three campaigns with Uncle Toby in Flanders, must have been of respectable standing in the service when he died, leaving as available assets, in Uncle Toby's hands, in trust for his son, an old regimental coat and sword.
Lieutenant Lismahago, in · Humphrey Clinker,' had 1 Lady Aldborough walked up to her, and said: “Well, my dear, though you are a young soldier, you have already shown plenty of bottom.' Charles Phillips (Curran and his Contemporaries, third edit. p. 45) says that one of Provost Hutchinson's daughters was gazetted for a majority of horse. Lord Townshend, when Lord Lieutenant, said of this Provost: 'If I gave Hutchinson England and Ireland for an estate, he would beg to have the Isle of Man for a potato garden.' There is a scene in Lady Morgan's novel, The O'Briens and O'Flahertys,' where the Irish Cabinet, having nothing else vacant, agree to give one of their female adherents a cornetcy en attendant.
been thirty years in the service, wounded, maimed, and mutilated,' without ever attaining a higher rank than that of lieutenant. But in such a length of time,' resumed the Squire, 'you must have seen a great many young officers put over your head?' Nevertheless,' said he, 'I have no cause to murmur. They bought their preferment with their
I had no money to carry to market : that was my misforfortune, but nobody was to blame.' Here was a veteran after Colonel Anson's own heart.
The lieutenant with whom Tom Jones enlisted was nearly 60 years of age. He had served as an ensign at the battle of Tannières, where he had received two wounds, and so well distinguished himself that he was by the Duke of Marlborough advanced to be a lieutenant immediately after that battle. In this commission he had continued ever since, viz. nearly 40 years, during which time he had seen vast numbers preferred over his head, and had now the mortification to be commanded by boys whose fathers were at nurse when he first entered the service.' This case has points in common with Lord Clyde's.
The author of Waverley' brings us familiarly acquainted with Captain Doolittle and Captain M-Turk. A disrespectful reference by the author of Pelham'to the manners of Majors of the Line, caused him to be pelted with letters from Majors of the Line in the newspapers for a month. With the simplicity of the servantgirl who asked what was done with the old moons, I asked the other day what had been done with the old Majors, and was informed that a practice had grown up of breveting them into Colonels and Major-Generals, although without a corresponding increase of pay; so that neglected merit and an ungrateful country are still not unfrequently their theme. This estimable class have been the principal sufferers from the purchase system. When, therefore, Colonel Anson pronounces
it advantageous to non-purchasing officers, and speculates on their melancholy destiny when it shall be no more, the mental process he undergoes must be identical with that of the old Scotch lady, mentioned by Dean Ramsay, who, on hearing that sperm oil was about to be superseded by gas, pathetically exclaimed, "Gude guide us, what is to become of the puir whales ?'
When it was suggested by Mr. Vernon Harcourt in debate, that promotion went on tolerably well in the Foreign Office, although it was not the practice for the head clerk to buy out the under-secretary,' Colonel Anson made answer that officers in the army, who had to serve in all climates, should be young men with good constitutions, and that, without the purchase system, they would stagnate and grow old. But why would they, any more than the men of the London police, or the Irish constabulary, or any other branch of the public service for which health and strength are indispensable? Or what is there to prevent the flow of promotion from being maintained at its present rate, besides being more equable? It simply comes to this, that, if you require an expensive article, you must pay for it: if you will have no officers in active service beyond a given age, you will have a greater number to keep on pensions or half-pay.
At the same time, you may comfort yourself with the conviction that nothing is so costly as inefficiency. The late Sir George Cornewall Lewis estimated the cost of the Crimean War at ninety millions sterling If all branches of the service, civil and military, had been thoroughly effective, one-half of this enormous sum might have been saved, If we have suffered abuses to grow up, it is useless to repine at the cost,
• Exchanges may be illustrated in the same manner. What would be thought if a captain in the navy on a foreign station were to insist on his right to exchange with a captain in the navy on a home station, or a clerk in the Admiralty with a clerk in the Custom House ?