Black and White Budget, No. 24, Vol. II, March 24th 1900

March 24,1900 BLACK AND WHITE BUDGET AN ARMY LEAGUE WITH A DEFINITE OBJECT .Sir ,—There are probably many who will hold the opinion that if the recent victories, wrenched by British valour out of the very jaws of defeat, should banish the desire to investigate and to remedy the causes of our previous disasters, then the latter state of the British people is likely to be worse than the former. No man, save the few peace-at-any-price fanatics, is now so blind as not to see that with the closing year of the nineteenth century we are passing into anew epoch, in which the' predominance won for us by our fighting forefathers at Trafalgar and Waterloo is fated soon to be fiercely challenged, unless the naval and military strength of the empire be such as will render the assault of our enemies a doubtful and desperate task. The peace of the world, wrote Lord Beaconsfield in the famous manifesto issued on the eve of the dissolu­tion in 1880, depends on the presence, not to say the ascendency, of England in the Councils of Europe. If the European Chancelleries know that either navy or army is inadequate to maintain that ascendency, it must surely vanish, along with the peace of mankind, in the flame of conflicts in which Britain will contend at disadvantage with her jealous foes. Now if there be one fact which has been more widely recognised than any other during the last four months, it is that the Imperial Government has paid insufficient attention to the voice of its professional advisers, and has apparently, in very many respects, organised the British Army with a view to the exigencies, not of war, but of peace. Thus, to take only one glaring instance, we have the extraordinary admission of the Under­secretary of State for War that he was unable to discover by whose recommendation the number of batteries of horse artillery was reduced in 1887. Plainly, this declaration by itself demonstrates the haphazard manner in which military changes of the most vital moment can be introduced, and also the total lack of assurance to the British public that these changes may not be terrible mistakes. Under the present system there is no one human being who can be so much as named, much less rendered responsible, in regard to an alteration now universally admitted to have been a frightful error.* The obvious remedy is to make someone really respon­sible for such matters in future, that is to say to have someone whose name and reputation are attached to the proposals made. Such a man would naturally have to bethe most competent to be found in the Empire at a given time, and he would be therefore, equally natu­rally, the Commander-in-Chief. The whole teaching of Mr. Spenser Wilkinson, in books now of world-wide renown, point, it should be noted, towards this measure as the sole remedy for our present admitted ills. Mr. Wilkinson founded the Navy League with the single aim of getting alike change effected in respect of the Navy, but the Navy League, although it has done and is doing much work of priceless value, has yet recoiled from raising'this single great issue, because it has feared the opposition of officialism and of one or two great newspapers. The whole atmosphere of opinion, however, at the present moment shows that the psychological hour has arrived at which it would be possible to do what was perhaps impossible before, and what a Navy League did not at once perform, that an Army League might now achieve. I have therefore ventured to suggest the formation of a League with an object thus defined :“To ensure that a memorandum stating the needs of the army in the view of the military adviser (not ‘advisers ’)of the Crown should be presented annually *The fact that Mr. Wyndhan has subsequently announced that he has succeeded in discovering the person or persons responsible, but that his or their names cannot be made public, is scarcely of a nature to reassure the British public- to Parliament, the Treasury to have no cognisance of this memorandum, or of any of the proposals contained in it, prior to presentation.” The result of this proposal* if it were adopted, would be to transfer the decision on points of supreme import­ance to the continuance of the British dominion from Treasury clerks and other mysterious individuals who cannot afterwards be named when they are wanted to Parliament and to the nation, which last would at length have a chance of doing itself justice. The League is now in process of formation, and much valuable promise of support has been already received. Sir Charles Dilke, if I may instance a name, although he considers that his parliamentary ties preclude him from formally joining the organisation, yet authorises tome say that it has his full sympathy and support. If any of your readers feel impelled to aid a movement whicfi has a scientific object and a definite aim, I should be most glad if they would be good enough to com­municate with me,as acting .Hon. Secretary for the time being. I &c.,am, H.F. Wyatt .1, Great College Street, Westminster. THE BOYS O F THE RANK AND FILE .I. When you’re talking of the Empire, and the men who’ve made its fame, When your martial hearts are thrilling as you cheer each hero’s name, When you’re saying “Well done, leader, you deserve the Nation’s thanks,” Don’t forget the little debt of praise you owe those in the ranks !Refrain :They are the boys to whom Some of the thanks are due, Ready to dare,Devil may care, Steady and straight and true !Each is a pillar of the State Guarding our Empire Isle :They are the boys who keep us great, Boys of the Rank and File J II. When you’re boasting of this sortie, or that plucky night attack, 'And you pat the gallant men who led them on upon the back, When you read your daily paper and aloud your pride •declare, Don’t forget the men behind them—that the rank and file were there !{Refrain.) m. When you’re lauding this one’s strategy, or that one’s master brain, Or this other’s plan of action you can praise if not explain—Give a thought to humbler heroes— you’ll forget them, in awhile— And remember Britain’s backbone is the gallant rank and file 1 (Re fra in.)Cl if ton Bin g ham.
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