27 JANUARY 1900, Page 28


Sts.—When the present Government, five years ago, curtailed the powers of the Commander-in-Chief, it at the same time empowered the Secretary of State for War and the civil chiefs at the War Office to take the direct opinion of the Adjutant-General, the Quartermaster-General, and other high officials under Lord Wolseley when it suited them to do so on any matter, without consulting the Commander-in- Chief in the first instance. It is the abuse of power in this ill-advised system that has gone far to undermine the efficiency of our War Department, and has really weakened

Lord Lanedowne's grasp of the reins of office. For a long time past the War Office and the. Horse Guards have not worked in unison, and these Departments in Pall Mall have notably for the past year been more or less a house divided against itself. The pernicious practices that have been car- ried on have been calculated to strike at the very foundation of any system, whether civil or military, and to break the chain of all responsibility. Yon have pointed out two instances that have demonstrated of late Lord Lansdowne's indecision of official character, but if we are to credit the rumours that have been current for the past three months, it is absolutely clear that it has been the want of transport that has obliged our generals to keep to their lines of railway, and denied them the power of making any extensive turning movements. The delay as regards transport has been attributed to the fact that although early in June a large sum of money was in the hands of the Financial Department of the War Office for the purpose of purchasing mules in the event of their being required, no mules were pur- chased until August. For some time past, therefore, we have been reaping the fruits of this ill-advised delay on the part of the War Office, of which Lord Lansdowne is the responsible head, and must therefore be held responsible.— I am, Sir, &o., MARS. [We have been obliged to shorten our correspondent's letter.—ED. Spectator.]