19 JUNE 1858, Page 11


1211s June 1858.

Stn—Allow me through the medium of your columns to draw the atten- tion of the Commissioners appointed by her Majesty to investigate the va- rious plans that may be proposed for manning the Royal Xavy on an emer- gency to the mode anciently in force in this country ; which I doubt not will be found to have been a simple and an efficient one without trespassing upon the usual avocations of the sea-faring community more than necessary

to proaide fer a good svetem of national defence. ' I believe that the Militia of England was in day@ of yore dividedinto a. land and a sea Militia. The land Militia was undoubtedly composed of the freemen of every county, bound by the common law to be trained to the use of arms, not compellable to go beyond the limits of their respective counties, except in case of invasion or threatened invasion, and never compellable to go abroad. We may presume that the sea Militia was compared of all those, otherwise belonging to the land Militia, who from choice and incli- nation followed a sea-faring life, consequently were obliged to serve on board the war-ship when occasion might require it for the defence of the country. This may have been the origin of pressing mercantile seamen to serve in the Royal Navy during war in place of their serving on shore in the land Militia ; but which system appears to have been latterly much abused by obliging the pressed man to serve for long periods on a foreign station intead of only in the Channel fleet or on board special Coastguard vessels of war.

If the ancient land and sea Militia were reconstituted, those men belonging to the land Militia should be drilled for about one month at the period they first join it,—say at twenty years of age,—and mercantile sailors at-the same age should be instructed on board a ship of war, purposely stationed at each maritime commercial port, in the big-gun exercise as well as in that of small arms and the cutlass, at the same time that they would acquire a knowledge of the regulations of a man-of-war, which provide for a division of labour in the various duties required on board ; for, as to the handling of the ropes and the sails, the British mercantile sailor would have little to learn.

By the reconstitution of the ancient Militia the Coastguard ships of the Royal Navy would be at any moment speedily and efficiently manned, and the country would be provided with a well-organized land force to assist in resisting an invasion.