27 FEBRUARY 1886, Page 14


[To THE EDITOR OF THE " Syscr■ToR.2'1 SIR,—In the note appended to my letter on this subject in your issue of February 20th, you ask,—" Does our correspondent mean that shopmen may not defend their shop in ordinary clothes because they are Volunteers ?" I would beg leave to answer this question as follows. I believe that a man, by becoming a Volunteer, forfeits no right which he may have as a citizen to defend himself and his property, or the persons and property of others. But I believe that by the true construction of the Volunteer Act of 1863, and of the Regulations issued in pursuance of it, it would be illegal to employ "drilled companies" of Volunteers, with or without arms, to defend, for instance, Messrs. Shoolbred's premises, and still more illegal to "hold Tottenham Court Road" against such rioters as those of February 8th. I am quite aware of Lord Mansfield's dictum in 1780 as to the powers of special constables; but I think that, so far as our present Volunteers are concereed, it has ceased to be of authority. It was fully considered in the debates in Parliament in 1867 which led to the issue of the existing Regulations. These, as I pointed out in my last letter, are virtually statutory law. With regard to the use of unarrnei battalions or companies of Volun- teers as special coubtables, I would submit that, as it is laid down in the Volunteer Ilogulations, 1884, par. 477, that "in the event of an attack upon their storehouses and armouries, members of the Volunteer Force may combine and avail them- selves of their organisation to repel such attack," it may be concluded, especially when the preceding paragraphs are con- sidered, that the members of the Volunteer Force may not" com- bine and avail themselves of their organisation" on other occasions in aid of the civil power.—I am, Sir, Az.,