15 OCTOBER 1859, Page 11



is we interpret aright the rumours that reach us from quarters usually well-informed on military subjects, the question—shall we hare a local European force in India, or a force composed en- tirely of Queen's troops ?—has been reopened. Considering what took place in Parliament at the close of last session, it -seemed, to sanguine persons, that the question was settled in favour of main- taining a local European force. Since we regard that as the soundest conclusion, we shall regret to learn that our apprehen- sions are confirmed, and that the opponents of a local force have reason to suppose they will obtain a triumph.

The argument which, it is said, has shaken the faith of some eminent persons in local corps, is derived from the recent conduct of the troops of the late Company. If so, it is only another in- stance of the power of irrelevant arguments. The Indian Govern- ment and the Home Government themselves brought about that insubordination of which they now complain, by treating .a purely soldier's question as if it were a dispute in Chancery touching the construction of some badly-drawn statute. If we are not mis- informed, and we think we are not, the Queen's troops have shown, in a manner that cannot be mistaken by soldiers or civi- lians, how much they were prepared to risk, and how deeply they sympathised with their comrades of the local Indian army ; and we should think it quite as relevant to the question at issue to argue therefrom that Queen's soldiers cannot be trusted in India, as it would be to argue from the conduct of the Local Europeans that troops enlisted for local service cannot be trusted in the same dependency.

The fact is that no army can be trusted if it is treated unjustly. You may be cruel, but you must be just. You may flog; but you must pay. You may make a harsh or a fair contract, but you must abide by not as lawyers can distort them, but in their plain meaning as thy are understood by soldiers. The Queen's troops in India have proved by acts that they con- sidered the cause of the Local troops their own. We do not feel at liberty to state in precise terms to what we refer ; but the military authorities will perfectly comprehend what we mean. The insubordination argument is therefore, quite inapplicable and of no force, because under similar circumstances any force of Englishmen would have acted similarly to the Local Europeans.

The question must be decided on other grounds. What would be best for India? This is the question we have to answer. It would wear a very symmetrical appearance to have India gar- risoned entirely by Regiments of the Line, Royal Artillery, and so forth. There would be the same system, with the sale and purchase of commissions in full play, and the Horse Guards pa- tronage at work. There would be periodical reliefs to a greater extent than at present, and there would be an increase of the British standing Army to meet the increased demand. The mili- tary element iu India would be more of a floating population than it is now, and there -would be no soldiers there who sought a life- career in that country. But would the advantages of symmetry, of oneness, of constant travelling to and fro, -compensate for the absence of permanent military residents in India, of men who, finding themselves there, make themselves at home, acquire a knowledge of the people and their habits, customs, languages, and laws ? It is of importance to us that as many Europeans as possible should establish themselves in India ; but the abolition of a local force would diminish the number. It is of importance to us that a large proportion of the Europeans who go there should 'be -men • of strong personal character and great ability in civil and military affairs ; and to obtain them we should hold out every reasonable inducement. The abolition of the Local Eu- ropeans would cut off one source-of obtaining them, and substitute for it a number of flying residents who would have little interest in India and its welfare. Why do we have a Civil Service in India ? Why do we not fill the civil posts with men taken from the British Civil Service—from grreat Britain or Canada or Aus- tralia, or the Cape of Good Hope ? Because the Civil Service of India requires men who intend to make the fulfilment of its du- ties a life-service ; because it requires men specially trained at home and in India. It would be nearly as reasonable to abolish the Indian Civil Service for the-sake of symmetry, as it would be to abolish the Local European military element for a similar reason.

It was proposed some years ago by a correspondent of this journal to form an army for exclusive service in India and our southern possessions. That idea errs by going to the other ex- treme, It is fitting and right that some large proportion of the military garrison of India should consist of Queen's troops, for the sake of the dignity of the Imperial Government, and for the sake of the military experience to he gained in that country. But the idea of our correspondent in a modified form is not inappli- cable. Why not enlist and maintain a large force, 20,000 or 30,000 men, for service in India and in our Southern possessions, and call it the Southern Division of the British Army ? The bulk of the force might be in India, but regiments might be sent to Ceylon, the Mauritius, Australia, the Cape of Good Hope, the latter being a sanatorium wherein to recruit health and renew vigour in Officers and men. It would prove a benefit 'to India and a saving in expense, and it would prevent the extension to India of the purchase system and the patronage of the Horse Guards.

It is fortunate that at this moment Colonel Vincent Eyre, an able soldier, has propounded a plan whereby such a design could be worked out with advantages to Great Britain as well as to India. He suggests that a number of battalions should be raised for service in India, to be called "Indian battalions" ; and that a corresponding number of second battalions should be raised in connexion with them for permanent home defence. Promotion, as in the Indian army, to go by seniorit.g, and liberty of exchange to be allowed to officers and men. Thus veterans would come home from India to augment our defensive force with tried soldiers, and young men would go out from the home battalions to replace them, and acquire experience. This scheme appears to us practicable and beneficial ; but the reader can see, in another column, Colonel Eyre's own exposition of it. Let it be modified so as to make the local corps available for service in any of our southern possessions ; and let it be kept as clear as possible from Horse Guards influences, and we have the strongest belief that it would answer well ; and, as Colonel Eyre remarks, it would have the effect of attracting to the Indian service the better classes of recruits who now hold aloof, and would give that service a locus standi sufficiently distinguished to inspire its own members with pride and the sister services with respect. With a Local European Army, a Native Army raised, officered, and disciplined on the prin- ciples so successfully applied by John Jacob, and a contingent of her Majesty's Regiments of the Line, there need be no fear of mili- tary mutinies, or of the loss of India from defect of military power.