19 AUGUST 1905, Page 12



SIR,—The country owes a great debt of gratitude to Sir Howard Vincent for his strong and determined championship of the Volunteers, which is all the more valuable and praise- worthy because not the slightest motive of party can be 'imputed to him in the matter. On the contrary, he has 'shown, as very few politicians do, that be has set aside party .'when the interests of the nation are involved, as they are oling to this wanton and stupid attack on the Volunteers, the only large Reserve to the Army which we possess or are likely to possess. Mr. 'Arnold-Forster still talks, about the large Reserve, which is by some process, visible to himself, to be hatched out of his schemes ; but even he will hardly venture to assert that be can produce a larger or a better Reserve than Lord Cardwell's plans gave the country, and which the present War Minister. has stigmatised as a Reserve which was not a Reserve. My gallant friend, Sir Howard Vincent, takes excep- tion to my writing (Spectator, August 5th) that the success of he Opposition at the next Election, which the most tenacious Clinging to office cannot defer for very long, will, in my opinion, bring about a hew era for the Army. I have no great hope for the latter while it is, to use the words of a powerful Government organ, "muddled and remuddled " by enterprising and ambitious politicians, who have knocked off the drag, from their wheels by first narrowing the powers of the Commander-in-Chief to impotency, and then by abolish- ing that functionary altogether by a summary and never- to:be-forgotten process; but one cannot conceive the possibility of the next War Minister neglecting to take warning from the present occupant of the post, and allowing the present disastrous era to continue. However the next Government may fail in Army administration, he must be a bold man who would venture to predict that they will do as badly, as regards the Army at all events, as the present Administration. I quite agree with Sir Howard Vincent that the words of apparent approval by the Leader' of the Opposition of Mr. Arnold- Forster's disastrous proposals to reduce the Volunteers were most unfortunate and unexpected, especially as Sir Henry 'Campbell-Bannerman, when Secretary of State for War, used the following enthusiastic and stirring words about the Force in the House of Commons :—" The robust vitality and vigorous growth of the popular and patriotic citizen army of Great Britain is one of the most encouraging signs of the times." Probably Sir Henry Campbell-Banuerman's words on Mr. Arnold-Forster's proposals were based upon an easily explained misconception. What is certain is that, as you say, the nation will not permit the Militia and Volun- teers to be reduced by Mr. Arnold-Forster or any one else, and that there can be no risk that his successor and the next Government will perpetrate continuity in schemes which are perceived to be radically wrong by every patriotic person who is gifted with common sense, and in which danger to the country from many directions is involved.—I am, Sir, &c., Zermatt. ALFRED TURNER.