11 APRIL 1903, Page 15



SIE,—As an Englishman born and educated in France, where I have spent nearly half my life, will you allow me to any that I entirely differ from "Men before Systems" (Spectator, March 14th) with regard to the effects of universal military service on the Continent ? My recollec- tions of France date from fifty years back, and I can truly say that since universal military service has been insisted on a great improvement can be noticed in the manliness and physical development of French youths. French people are generally inclined to spoil and coddle their children, but they now realise that their boys, whatever their rank and position, have to face several months of barrack life and military dis- cipline, and that knowledge induces them to bring up their children more hardily in view of the inevitable ordeal. Any one with an inside knowledge of a boy's life in a "Lycke" as 'it was thirty years ago and is now must be struck with the physical improvements in the educational methods. Universal

service is, of course, not pleasant, and the drudgeries of drill in peace-time are both exasperating and monotonous, but the mixing up of all classes which is its consequence is of in- estimable value. I am no advocate of the French system in all its details, but I fail to understand why, if young English- men were made to employ some of their leisure hours in learn- ing the use of a rifle and the elements of drill, they would therefore become worse men or worse citizens. In my opinion, they would be much the better for the teaching.—I am,