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is that?" I asked, though I knew
what it must be, without asking.

"Hush! The wolves!" said my grandfather
in a whisper, blowing out the light and
extinguishing the fire. " Keep Blanchette quiet;
take her in your arms, and give her a little salt
to lick, to keep her from bleating."


In a former number of this periodical,* the
present writer endeavoured to illustrate the
great injustice and the evil working of the
purchase system in the commissioned ranks of the
British army. Nearly twenty years' experience
in the service has convinced him that whatever
other reforms our military organisation has need
of, all changes which leave promotion by
purchase part of our army code, are and will be in
vain. Not only is the law which allows an officer
who has a certain sum of money at command to
pass over the head of all those who cannot
command that amount, a standing disgrace to our
service and to our country, but it is the leaven of
evil which has leavened the whole lump of our
regimental system high and low, from the colonel
to the private.

* See Money or Merit, volume iii., page 30.

Take, for instance, the humbler ranks of the
service; what is it that prevents young men of
what may be called the lower middle classthe
sons of small farmers, petty shopkeepers, and
such-likefrom enlisting in our army? Here
and there an individual of this standing may be
found, but seldom or never one who has entered
the army with the intention of making it his
calling for life. How many of this class ever
rise? How many even hope ever to rise, in the
profession of arms? Yet, is not an increase of
this class much wanted in our ranks, and would
it not tend to diminish greatly the number of
inmates in our military prisons, the number of
offenders against military law? Do not this
class flock in thousands to Canada, to Australia,
to wherever English pluck and English strength
are likely to push men on in the world? How
is it, then, that more of this raw material does not
find its way into our army? The reply is easy;
so plain, that any child may read it. There is
virtually no advancement for our non-commissioned
officers to the higher ranks; and even if
one of that excellent classthan which there
does not exist a more praiseworthy set of men in
the worlddoes obtain a commission, he is
perforce obliged to remain in the junior ranks; for,
without money, there isunless in rare and
exceptional casesno promotion in the English

Like most military men, the writer is pretty
well acquainted with the contents of the Army
List, but from first to last of that compendious
volume, he does not know a single individual
who from the ranks has risen to be a field-officer.
Here and therethey might be counted
on one's fingersthere exists a captain who was
once a non-commissioned officer, and who, after
obtaining his commissionafter being  purchased
over again and again by his juniors who were
probably not born when he commenced soldiering
has at last attained unto the rank of captain;
only, however, to retire from the service as soon
as possible, being already too old for active
service of any kind. Of subalterns there are
certainly sometwo for each regiment is
above the averagewho have risen from the
ranks; but these, after a few years, invariably
become spiritless soldiers and hopeless
men, for they are aware that, not having
money, they can advance no higher in their
profession. In fact, a non-commissioned officer is
seldom promoted until he is an elderly man.
The writer knows a cavalry quartermaster
who enlisted as a private dragoon in 1822;
but was only promoted to be a commissioned
officer thirty-one years later, when he was
upwards of fifty years of age. If this man, who
saw plenty of active service a quarter of a
century before he got his commission, was fit to
promote so late in life, surely he was so
at an earlier period. Another gallant officer of
his acquaintance who enlisted in 1812, went
through several campaigns in India, but only
obtained a commission in the year of grace 1844.
The truth isas the upholders of the
purchase system maintainthe non-commissioned
officers of the English army, as a body, care
little to be promoted; for they know full well
that, not having money, they cannot hold their
own in the race for further advancement. Such
a thing as a poor but well-educated young man
enlisting in the English army, and working his
way by degrees through the non-commissioned
ranks until, whilst yet in the prime of life, he
attains the rank of field-officer, is unheard of
in our service; were it otherwise, how much
easier would be the recruiting-sergeant's task;
how much fewer the punishments in our
regiments! At present, a few sanguine
individuals of a better class of life than the ordinary
run of our recruits do occasionally enlist, chiefly
in our dragoon regiments; but these seldom or
ever remain longer in the service than they can
help, for they see how utterly useless it is to
hope for advancement without money in the
English army.

Our neighbours manage these matters much
better. Very many young Frenchmen, of good
birth and fair education, join the army as volunteer
recruits, sure that in due time, with good
behaviour, they will rise even to the highest

It is not the wish of the writer of these lines
to see the whole British army officered by men
who have served in the ranks. But he looks
upon the purchase system as one which must be
abolished before the English military service can
become what it ought to be. All the late rules
and regulations regarding the examination of