5 AUGUST 1905, Page 14


SIR,—The Conference which took place between the Secretary of State for War and a certain number of officers com- manding Volunteer units at the House of Commons on July 28th, as one might suppose, ended in nothing but dis- comfiture and disgust for the Volunteers. The present Secretary of State for War entered into his office blinded and saturated with the convictions, not uncommon in a professed and bitter critic, that his judgment was superior to that of all the world, and that the opinion of all who have preceded him in Pall Mall was as tinkling brass. In his attacks on the Regular Army he has to a great extent failed, for he has met a solid front of resistance within the walla of the War Office, and has hitherto not succeeded in carrying out his— one can only call it—craze of reducing the numbers of our already far too small Army. Rare, however, are the friends of the Auxiliary Forces, and especially of the Volunteers; in the War Office, and there, as was apparent at -the Con- ference, Mr. Arnold-Forster finds no difficulty in hatching his schemes for the reduction of the Volunteers. The jealousy and dislike of this force in the Department of the Adjutant-General have always been proverbial, and at present are said to be rampant. The Volunteer Artillery appears to be an especially favourite target for Mr. Arnold- Forstees shafts ; there are, he says, more than are wanted. -How, one asks, does be know this P Because in a certain purely academic and utterly untested scheme of mobilisation certain numbers are laid down, therefore it becomes the law of the Medes and the Persians that such numbers must not be 'exceeded. If Mr. Arnold-Forster is permitted to carry out his intentions as reported in full in the Daily Telegraph of July 29th, it means, as I am quite sure he intends it to be, the destruction of the Volunteer Force, and the consequent .damping of that patriotism and military spirit which the Norfolk Commission testified it had done so much to spread through the land. It speaks volumes for the Volunteers that the constant snubs and pin-pricks and entire want of all encouragement on the part of Mr. Arnold-Forster have not succeeded in forwarding his lethal intentions in their respect. Fortunately, the General Election cannot be long delayed, and with the passing into the shade of the present Govern- ment a new era will be brought in for the Army, which cannot in any conceivable circumstances fail to be better for it and for the interests of the Empire than the present one. The Secretary of State for War from time to time alludes to commanding officers who, he says, are in accord with him and his schemes. I have the opportunity of meeting and discussing these fell plans with a very large number of Volunteer officers, and I have never met one who does not most thoroughly condemn his attitude to our citizen army. I imagine that such is your experience also. The Volunteer commanding officers who approve of Mr. Arnold-Forster's proposals cannot but remind one of a certain Mrs. Harris, whom Mrs. Gamp quoted as her authority whenever she made a more than ordinarily astounding assertion. Her identity was never established, nor was she ever seen ; at last Betsy Prig uttered these memorable and tremendous words : "I don't believe there's no Bich a person."—I am, Sir, &c., Carlyle House. ALFRED E. TURNER.

[Our experience certainly agrees with that of Sir Alfred Turner. We have not yet met a Volunteer officer who heartily approves of Mr. Arnold-Forster's policy towards the force. As to the excellence of Mr. Arnold-Forster's in- tentions we have no doubt, but, unhappily, well-intentioned blunders are often no less dangerous than those which are malicious.—En. Spectator.]