HC Deb 05 May 1868 vol 191 cc1819-38

, in rising to move an Address to the Crown, on the subject of Military Education, said, he brought forward a similar Motion two years ago, when, in a House of 284 Members, it was lost by 20. On that occasion he was supported by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, by the Secretaries of State for the Home Department and for India, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, besides other Members of Her Majesty's Government. On the other hand, he had to deplore the opposition of the noble Lord the late Secretary of State for War (the Marquess of Hartington), more, he hoped and believed, from a natural disinclination to upset the determination of his predecessors than from any abstract love for the present system of education at the Military Colleges. He felt sanguine, however, that on a full consideration of the whole question, and of the events that had recently occurred at Sandhurst, his Motion would receive the support of many of those who had previously voted against it. Very few changes of importance had been made at Sandhurst College since he last brought the question before the House, and matters had gone on from bad to worse there. If half of what was stated to have occurred at Sandurst last autumn was true, not only was there a great want of respect for all discipline there, but also a want of respect for the property and even for the lives of Her Majesty's subjects. On the 28th October, 1867, a number of the cadets of Sandhurst College entered the shop of a jeweller of the Jewish persuasion, smashed everything in their way, and attacked and maltreated the jeweller himself. For several succeeding nights the cadets inarched about in compact bodies, letting off fireworks and creating great disturbances and universal alarm. On the 1st November they went again to the jeweller's shop, smashed the fanlight over his door, and discharged fireworks. Next day they endeavoured unsuccessfully to batter in his shop front, and did considerable damage; and on other occasions they seriously injured a woman, set fire to a skittle alley, and were guilty of exceedingly riotous conduct. On one of the days in question, which fell on a Sunday, strong measures were taken for the preservation of discipline; but the cadets in the evening assembled near St. Michael's church during the performance of Divine service, and kept up a hideous noise, consisting of catcalls, yells, shouting, &c. He would not pass any comment upon this picture of insubordination, riot, and irreverence, for it spoke for itself; but he wished to impress upon the House that these things must have had a cause, and that that cause was to be found in the present system of training and education at the Military Colleges. When he brought the question before the House before, he dwelt minutely upon the rigorous treatment of the cadets, who were not boys, but young men of eighteen ornineteen—but the fact was he had under-stated the case. The want of discipline was as much due to injudicious indulgence as to injudicious rigour. The cadets had uncomfortable dormitories and want of privacy; they were subjected to an irritating schoolboy treatment, and beyond all that they were exposed, by the very action of the authorities themselves, to every species of temptation. Until lately not only had the publichouses at Sandhurst been thrown open to them, but a canteen had been established within the College itself, where smoking, drinking, and billiard playing went on; and the attractions of these places, as compared with the bare walls and sanded floors of their dormitories, led to a spirit of lawlessness which vented itself sometimes in petty acts of wanton mischief, such as smashing lamps and windows; and at other times into acts of more serious insubordination. The large and increasing class of cadets who came from "cramming" establishments, and who, possessing more money than brains, found it easier to spend a year at College and purchase a commission than to compete for one at Chelsea, exercised a prejudicial influence; and something was also due to the pernicious distinction between the executive officers and the professors of the College—and that applied to both Colleges—by which the power of punishment was maintained in one set of hands while that of imparting instruction was placed in another. And that brought him to what was, after all, the object for which these Colleges were founded—namely, the nature of the education given them. He admitted that the education given in the Military Colleges was good in some points; but the question was, whether it might not be better. The right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe), than whom there was no better judge of education, objected during the Recess, in one of those speeches which all must admire, even though they did not concur in them, to the unpractical character of our University and public school training. Now, the same remark would apply to the Military Colleges; yet the military profession was one which urgently required a practical education. Too many subjects had to begot up in too short a time, thus leading to cramming combined with the most absolute ignorance even of the elements of professional education. At Woolwich a cadet had to perfect himself in two years and a half in at least a dozen subjects, including the higher mathematics and natural science, but he was not taught riding until the last year of his academical course, and he was so badly instructed in drill, especially sword drill, that it had to be learnt over again on his joining the regiment. At Sandhurst, almost as many subjects had to be mastered in eighteen or—deducting vacations—in thirteen months; and it used to be, and probably was still, proverbial that young officers coming thence had to unlearn all their drill. Considering our East and West India experiences, it was strange that young officers were not instructed in military law, in the practice of Courts-martial, and regimental economy, which included a knowledge of the weight, price, and quality of the soldier's arms, necessaries, and accoutrements — subjects of the utmost value to the officer. A colloquial knowledge of a foreign language was also exceedingly useful; but examinations being no longer vivâ voce, he believed it was not to be acquired at Woolwich or Sandhurst; and if a cadet were able to string two sentences together in a foreign tongue, it was to be attributed more to his previous training than to collegiate instruction. The students were assembled thirty or forty together in a hall and were expected, while other teaching was going on around them, to solve the most difficult problems in mathematics and natural science—private study being so much discouraged that it was difficult to get permission to read for examinations after the lights were put out. The consequence of this Procrustean system, if he might so call it, was that no cadet really had his talents turned to advantage. Nobody took care to ascertain what speciality he was fitted for, and it followed that many young officers of great parts and attainments were completely lost to the State so far as their particular talents were concerned. He would next refer to the cost of maintaining the Military Colleges — a matter which the educational defects of those institutions brought out only the more prominently. Without troubling the House with an array of figures, he might mention the fact that, exclusive of all the expenses paid for education and maintenance by the parents and guardians of the cadets, the two Colleges at Woolwich and Sandhurst cost over £35,000 a year to the State. The cost of the maintenance of an individual cadet at Woolwich was £200 a year, or 30 or 40 per cent higher than the cost of the education imparted at the most expensive of our public schools, such as Eton and Harrow; 60 or 80 per cent higher than what was paid at less costly establishments, and, as he was informed, 100 per cent higher than the expenses of education at the French College at St. Cyr. If these figures were analyzed, it would be found that the education of the cadet, unlike that of the public school-boy, cost two-thirds of the whole sum, and the maintenance one-third; and the cause of this astounding result would appear to be in the fact that there was one professor, or executive officer to every six cadets, a number that could not reasonably be increased, if the professors were all dry nurses and the cadets all children in leading strings. There was a time when things were very different, for about twenty-five or thirty years ago, in the days of Sir George Scovell, not only did Sandhurst pay its own expenses, but it contributed £1,000 a year besides to the Treasury. He might possibly be told that all these things were thoroughly inquired into in 1857 in the days of Lord Panmure. That was perfectly true; but he would ask, what attention had been paid to the Report of the Commissioners of that time, confirmed as it was by the Minister of the day, and sanctioned by Her Majesty? In their Report the Commissioners recommended among other things the amalgamation of the two Colleges. Then followed naturally the question, why was that Report not attended to? The answer was to be found in the debate which took place on the Motion of the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. Monsell), on the 28th of April, 1858. It had, he believed, been erroneously supposed that the House of Commons on that occasion rejected the proposal for the amalgamation of the two Colleges. Had they done so, his Motion would still not have been affected; but an examination into that debate would, he thought, show that the House was not averse to the amalgamation of the two Colleges, but to the amalgamation of the two Colleges into the College of Sandhurst as it was then constituted, the objection arising from the fact that the House disapproved the system of selection which prevailed at Sandhurst, while it approved the system of competition which prevailed at Woolwich. In any case, the lapse of time, the outbreaks which had since occurred, and the reluctance on the part of every War Minister to deal with the question, on account of the adverse vote supposed to have been arrived at by the House of Commons, were in themselves reasons sufficient why a fresh inquiry should be instituted. In his Motion he had included the subject of military education, because he thought that the inquiry into the military organization and education at Sandhurst ought to be accompanied by an inquiry into the great question of the previous training and examination of all candidates for the army. He hoped, too, that the public schools might be induced to co-operate in this matter, and that by the establishment of classes for practical military education they might be able to strike a blow at what might be termed — whether viewed in a physical, educational, or in a moral point of view—a a most factitious system of education—he meant the "cramming" system. He thought, too, that it would be a very proper subject for consideration to inquire whether it would be possible to improve in any way the practical education of our Volunteer and Militia officers. It would also be in his opinion advisable that the reason for the falling off of the candidates for school-masterships at the Normal Schools at Chelsea should be inquired into, as well as the effect which the recent introduction of recreations and amusements for the benefit of soldiers had exercised upon drunkenness in the army. He had now completed the charges which he had thought it necessary to bring forward against the Military Colleges; he had endeavoured to prove that their discipline was bad, their education defective, and their cost extravagant. To his own mind the remedy was clear. What was required was, in the first place, a searching inquiry, to be followed by the amalgamation of the two Colleges, as recommended by the Council of Military Education, on an entirely different basis. If he was right in anticipating what would be the probable effect of a Commission of Inquiry, he might hope to see the day when a military University would be founded somewhat upon the basis of that admirable College of West Point which existed in the United States, and which had been the mother of so much military talent during the late American war, where candidates would receive a really practical education in military matters, and where those who passed would receive their commissions quite as much for their good conduct as for their proficiency in study. There was another reason why it was especially important that an inquiry should take place at the present time. The system of purchase might at no distant date be either abolished or considerably modified, and in that event it would be of the greatest importance that there should be a military University, through which officers should be compelled to pass; due provision, of course, being made for a certain number of promotions from the ranks. The noble Lord apologized to the House for having brought on a very dry subject after a very exciting one; but he felt assured that, although he might have detained hon. Members a long time, he should not have detained them too long if he succeeded in inducing them to accept his Motion, which he thoroughly believed would promote the interests of the army and of the country. He would conclude by moving— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that a Royal Commission composed of Military and Civilian Members be appointed to inquire into the present state of Military Education in this Country, and more especially into the training of Candidates for Commissions in the Army, and into the Constitution, system of Education, and discipline of the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, and of the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, as well as into the rules and regulations under which Candidates are admitted into those Colleges.


I am afraid my experience in connection with the army and military matters is not sufficient to justify me in pronouncing opinions to which any value can be attached on the various questions raised by the speech and Motion of my noble Friend; but when my noble Friend gave notice of this Motion I felt it my duty to give my most careful attention to the consideration of the subject; and I accordingly consulted a considerable number of those military men of long experience and high authority in whose judgment I felt I could confide. The result of my reflection and inquiry has been that I consider it my duty to accede to my noble Friend's Motion. I am quite sure that every Gentleman now present will feel that no apology was necessary on the part of my noble Friend for bringing forward a subject to which he has given great attention, and which he has now introduced to the House in a speech of great clearness; and, although he terms the subject a very dry one, I must differ more from him on that point than on the merits of the Motion, for, whatever our individual opinions on it may be, everyone must acknowledge that it relates to a subject bearing in the most direct and important manner on the interests of the army. Such inquiries as I have been able to make convince me that among military men generally there is a very strong feeling that the state of military education in this country is not altogether satisfactory. I cannot myself presume to give any opinion which would be worth considering as to whether it be desirable that our army should be made more a professional army than it is at present. It seems to me, however, that there are very strong grounds for believing that our army would be improved and our officers rendered more efficient and more competent to discharge their duties if the army were made a more professional army than it now is, and this is also the opinion of many officers who have given the most careful consideration to the matter. It is essential, in order to attain that object, that the early training of our officers should be more systematic and complete than at present; and here let me remind the House that this is by no means a new question. On the contrary, it was dealt with, and nearly completed, by the late Lord Herbert in 1860 and 1861, when he was Secretary of State for War. Lord Herbert was desirous that, as regards the Line, the Cavalry, and the Guards, all candidates for commissions should pass through Sandhurst, and that from 500 to 600 cadets should be taught there. This proposal of Lord Herbert was carried out so far that it obtained the approval of the Treasury; and, in the Estimates for 1861–2, a sum of £15,000 was actually introduced, and voted, I believe, by the House, for erecting suitable buildings for the accommodation of 500 cadets; and in the following financial year, 1862–3, though the number of cadets was then estimated at 400 only, a Vote of £12,700 was placed in the Estimates for carrying out the arrangements for extending the establishment at Sandhurst. But this intention to create a great military College was abandoned in consequence of an objection which was raised on the part of our great English Universities. At least, I have been told that that was the reason why the idea dropped after having been so far carried into execution; but I am not disposed to think that such objection on the part of the Universities ought to be entertained or persevered in. If my noble Friend's Motion should result in the recommendations which are likely to be made by the Commission, I should regret that the objections raised by the Universities should be allowed to interfere with the plan proposed. I can only consider the interference of the Universities as practically mischievous, for the result of it has been to bring to Sandhurst—the privilege, I may remark, does not apply to Woolwich—young men of an age which makes them utterly unfit for anything like education in a seminary of that kind; while, at the same time, the maintenance of discipline has been rendered extremely difficult. And here let me call the attention of the House for a moment to one very serious defect in our present system, in consequence of the ages at which young men enter the institutions at Woolwich and Sandhurst, and in consequence also of the reservation to which I have referred in favour of the Universities. The subject was under serious consideration by myself, in conjunction with the Commander in Chief, in January last, when—at the request of his Royal Highness—I attended a meeting at the Horse Guards. The Commander in Chief was himself present at that meeting, which was also attended by the Council of Military Education. The age of the students in the Colleges was taken into our serious consideration, and we came to a determination to make an important alteration in this respect. At present young men cannot enter Sandhurst or Woolwich before they are sixteen years old, nor remain there after they are nineteen. We agreed that it was desirable to reduce the period of instruction to two years, and to admit students from the fifteenth to the seventeenth years of their age. The House must, however, bear in mind that young men are at present allowed to enter the institution at Sandhurst when they are as much as twenty-one years of age, and to remain there, if intended for the cavalry, until they are twenty-three. The result is, that very few young men avail themselves of the opportunity afforded them by this system. Young men are allowed to come to Sandhurst from the Universities at twenty-three years of age, and the result is that they cannot obtain their commissions and commence their military career until they are twenty-five years of age. It therefore appears to me that the ages at which cadets are permitted to enter these Colleges should be reduced, so that the young men may commence their military career and training at an earlier age. This reduction in the ages of the cadets entering the Colleges was discussed at a meeting of the Council of Military Education, held at the Horse Guards in January last; but in consequence of the intention of my noble Friend to move for the appointment of a Royal Commission being communicated to us, it was resolved, with the concurrence of his Royal Highness the Commander in Chief, not to make any absolute orders that cadets must enter the Colleges at an earlier age than was now permitted until after the subject had been considered by that Commission. Let me now call the attention of the House to the result of admitting young men to Woolwich at the ages—namely, from sixteen to nineteen—to which I have already adverted. I hold in my hand a Paper giving the ages of the cadets who were at Woolwich on the 1st of the present month, from which I find the average age of the whole number of cadets at that establishment to be nineteen years and two months; that of the young men in the first class being as high as twenty, while the age of the oldest cadet in the first class was twenty one years and eight months, rendering it impossible that he could obtain his commission until he was twenty-two or twenty-three years of age, whereas cadets should commence their military career at eighteen years of age. My noble Friend, towards the close of his speech, touched upon a subject which I think is one worthy the consideration of the Royal Commission about to be appointed—namely, the system of what is commonly and familiarly called "cramming," from which great evils have resulted. There is, however, a subject of extreme importance and delicacy to which my noble Friend did not allude, but which it may be thought may well form one of the points for the consideration of the Commission. I must confess that I have never been a very zealous convert to the system of competitive examination; and I am disposed to think that those who believed firmly in that system have had their faith in it a good deal shaken in consequence of circumstances in connection with it that have recently transpired. I have been informed on unquestionable authority—and I can assure the House that I make the statement with great pain and regret, and I should, therefore, be extremely sorry were I in the slightest degree to over-state the case—that one of the effects of the system of competitive examination has been to lead to painful and serious irregularities and demoralization at the cramming schools. I quite believe there are many of those establishments which are conducted with every propriety and with every respectability; but these terms of praise do not, I am sorry to say, apply I to all of them. At some of those establishments—and I fear at not a few—the principle acted upon is this: "You, the pupil, must give me, the teacher, so many hours in the day"—which generally is a large demand upon the time of the cadet, usually some nine or ten hours in the day—"and when those hours are over you may go where and do what you like." I am informed upon authority I cannot doubt that this is the system in force in too many of these establishments. Indeed, among my own private acquaintance, I know of a few cases in which young men, or boys, sent to these schools have come to their parents and entreated to be removed from them, on the ground of the irregularities and demoralization that prevailed there. It is a most serious question that any system should be allowed to exist under which the youth of this country, the sons of our gentry, cannot be trained to this noble profession without being tainted and demoralized at these ill-conducted establishments. So strongly was I impressed by the statements made to me upon this subject that, at the meeting of the Council of Military; Education that was held at the Horse? Guards in January last, I thought it to be my duty to suggest that they should take the matter into their consideration with the view of putting an end to this unfortunate state of affairs. A Committee (of which the Rev. Canon Moseley was a Member) of that Council was appointed to consider the subject and to make a Report upon it, and in the Report they made they recommended that a system of inspection of these schools should be established; but, after giving the subject very careful consideration, considerable doubt exists as to whether we shall be able to carry that recommendation into effect. Had it been clear that we could have introduced such a system with effect I should not have now mentioned the subject. I think, however, that the House will agree with me that the existing state of things is a most painful one, and is worthy any amount of inquiry to see if it cannot possibly be put a stop to. If establishments of this kind must exist, and cadets must attend them as an indispensable step to military service, they ought to be placed under such regulations as would remove the dangers to which I have thought it right thus briefly to advert. My noble Friend gave many reasons for embracing so many topics in his Commission. I do not ask him to alter the terms of his Mo- tion; but I hope that when the Commission is appointed they will not extend their inquiries beyond what is absolutely required for a full elucidation of the subject. I regard the objects of this Commission as of great importance, and as being intimately connected with the efficiency of the army, and with the proper training of our youth who are educating themselves for that noble profession. I also agree with the noble Lord in thinking that the question whether the institutions at Woolwich and at Sandhurst might not be beneficially amalgamated is one worthy the serious consideration of the Commission, to the appointment of which I have now great pleasure in giving my assent.


wished to say a few words with reference to the somewhat disparaging remarks of the right hon. Gentleman on the system of competitive examination at Woolwich. Experience proved that system to be a complete success both intellectually and morally. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary for War had spoken of the cramming establishments, as if the system of cramming and the demoralization consequent upon its adoption were naturally connected with the system of competitive examination. Taking into consideration the number of cadets that had formerly to be sent away from the Woolwich establishment on account of the immorality that prevailed there, and the entreaties which were often formerly made by some of those cadets whose minds had remained uncontaminated to be taken away from that sink of vice, he thought the improvement which had been introduced into that establishment by the adoption of the system of competitive examination was enormous. With regard to the proposed amalgamation of Sandhurst and Woolwich, in a former debate difficulties were suggested that still existed with as much force as ever. It was clear that if they were amalgamated, by far the greater proportion of pupils would be destined for the Line, and not for the scientific corps; and the necessary and natural result would be that education would be conducted with regard to the requirements of the non-scientific rather than the scientific corps. On the question of reducing the age at which pupils were admitted, he would urge them to look at the practice in other countries. There was in France an institution corresponding to that suggested by the noble Lord, for the general education of cadets, and yet, although pupils were admitted to the Ecole Polytechnique from the ages of sixteen to twenty, there were hardly any admissions under seventeen, and very few between seventeen and eighteen, and the majority were between the ages of eighteen and twenty. It would be almost impossible for Artillery and Engineer officers to receive a proper scientific education, supposing the course to be two years, if they were to enter at an earlier age. It seemed to him it would prevent the possibility of the scientific corps receiving the education necessary to fit them for the proper discharge of their duties if the age were reduced. As to the results of the competitive system he was assured on the highest authority, that nothing could be more marked than the increased application and industry which had succeeded in his object, because the state of followed its introduction. Formerly young men who studied were laughed at, but now Study was the rule. Again, the standard of scientific acquirements was higher for cadets entering the Royal Military Academy than it was formerly, for the commission examinations. So far from the gentleman-like tone being impaired by the competitive system, he was assured it was exactly the reverse, and that the conduct of the cadets was exemplary. In every particular—knowledge, conduct, and ability—the new system answered perfectly. A large number of those who entered Sandhurst had failed at Woolwich; and there was a remarkable instance of two young men who failed at Woolwich attaining the top of the list in the competitive examination for direct commissions. The present condition of the Royal Military Academy was on the whole satisfactory, although improvements might be made, and the expenditure was, perhaps, excessive. There were two staffs of military officers receiving high pay, with very little to do, and there were too many of the traditions maintained, of rules suited, perhaps, to school boys, but not suited for young men. He sincerely trusted there would be no tampering with the competitive system, which worked so well, for no movement could be more retrograde than an attempt to interfere with it.


said, he had been rather misunderstood. Speaking generally as to the competitive system he did not wish to say it had produced bad effects at Woolwich; on the contrary, as far as he had heard, he accepted the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that the results at Woolwich were quite as good as they had been before its introduction.


, referring to a Committee appointed on his Motion many years ago said, there was hardly a distinguished officer of the Royal Artillery and Engineers examined who did not express the opinion that the ages for admission into the Engineer and Artillery corps should be lowered, and that the educational test should be lowered also. The question was put whether the test now required from the officers was necessary for the daily performance of their duties, and the answer was that it was not. With regard to the entrance of officers into regiments of the Line, many of them began their duties as subalterns when they ought to be captains. He was delighted his noble Friend had succeeded in his object, because the state of Sandhurst College had been most extraordinary, boys of fourteen being in the same categrory with young men of seventeen and eighteen; and there must be great difficulty in framing rules suitable to these two classes. He hoped the Royal Commission would be able to take these points into consideration, and that some steps would be adopted by which such proceedings as his noble Friend had adverted to would no longer prevail.


congratulated the noble Lord on his success, which rendered it unnecessary for him to detain the House with many observations. He wished, however, to draw two morals from the course of investigation which had been pursued on this subject. One was the great importance of perseverance. They were always told in making such a Motion that further inquiry was unnecessary, everything was already known, and it was idle, futile, to seek further inquiry. This subject had gone through these stages, just as that of recruiting had done. Another little moral related to the question how far the Government or the House of Commons were accountable for economy and efficiency in the expenditure of the country. It had been roundly stated that the House of Commons, having assented to the Estimates proposed by the Government, were fully as much accountable for the public expenditure as the Government who proposed them; and if there was any tiling to blame in the expenditure, it rested quite as much with the House of Commons as with the Government. He entirely dissented from the doctrine. It was impossible for the House of Commons in detail to enforce economy in the public expenditure. Even with regard to those military schools now to be inquired into by a Royal Commission, he had stated more than once that he believed the expenditure to be extravagant and unnecessary, and he undertook to demonstrate the fact. So long ago as 1862 he had called attention to what he believed to be the extravagant expense of the military schools of the country, founded on a comparison of Woolwich and Sandhurst with the Ecole Polytechnique and the Ecole Speciale Militaire, their correlatives; the expenditure at Woolwich being £160 per annum for each cadet, while in France it was only £115; and the teaching and superintendence, which in England was £85, cost in France only £40 each. At Sandhurst the expense of living was £70; at the Ecole Speciale Militaire, £50; while teaching and superintendence cost in England £70, and in France £34. The Secretary for War said inquiry was unnecessary; but next year he went a little farther, and ventured, having made careful inquiries throughout the country, and comparing the cost of teaching in military schools with the teaching in civil schools, to show that the teaching power in military schools everywhere was extravagant. The number of pupils at Woolwich was 180, and the number of teachers 35. There was great excess here, particularly in mathematics, there being not less than seven teachers in that department. Of course, they were met with the usual official stereotyped answers to such criticisms. The noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington), then Secretary of State for War, was not very able to answer; but the right hon. and gallant Member for Huntingdon (General Peel) came to the rescue, and stated that the subject had been exhaustively considered by the Commission appointed in 1857, which had reported when he was Secretary of State. He attributed the ignorance which prevailed on this subject to the fact that the Library contained no copies of that Report, and the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington), as the result of that appeal, placed two copies in the Library. He devoted considerable time in reading that Report, and, strange to say, the Royal Commissioners corroborated most of the statements that had been made in that House, and made recommendations similar to those that had been suggested by hon. Members in the various debates that had taken place upon the subject. What steps, then, had been taken since 1857 to carry out that Report? With regard to the cost of education, this Commission reported that £100 per annum ought to cover the expense of a pupil at any military College. Did not that show that £160 was excessive? And so with regard to the teaching staff. The Commission reported that it was excessive. He then referred to the suggestion of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for War, that the age of admission should be altered from sixteen to eighteen, to fifteen to seventeen, and observed that an earlier age should not be named for entering the College, but that they should diminish the time at which these cadets might reasonably hope for promotion. In conclusion, he said that it was futile to throw upon the House of Commons the responsibility of increased Estimates; the responsibility rested with the Government, which alone possessed the requisite knowledge of details.


, in reference to remarks from the hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House, said, he certainly did not understand his right hon. Friend to propose a reference to the Committee of matters under the jurisdiction of the Crown.


, referring to the late Sir George Wetherall, said, that officer seemed to have been placed at the head of Sandhurst, not because he was known to possess abilities as a teacher, but in order to reward him as a military man. But if it was intended to reward or honour a man it should be done directly, and not by placing him in a position for which he was not specially qualified. He found that Sandhurst cost £36,731 a year, and there were taught 300 cadets. He would ask any man accustomed to teaching, whether that was not a very large sum to pay. Again, Woolwich cost £38,581 for teaching 200 cadets. At Sandhurst, 300 cadets had 162 professors, teachers, and servants to look after them; and, at Woolwich, for 200 cadets, there were 149 professors, teachers, and servants to discharge similar duties. And yet it appeared from what had fallen from the noble Lord that these young men, notwithstanding all this looking after, were in the habit of going out to smoke, drink, and play billiards. The House could understand from that how it was that riots had occurred. One might expect that all these professors would be able to keep the young men in better order. There was one question which he wished to ask, and that was, whether those two institutions could not be put together and one large establishment formed, so that the expense of two sets of professors, instructors, teachers, and servants for 500 young men might be saved to the country?


wished to say a word with respect to the canteen established at Sandhurst, which had been referred to by the noble Lord. That canteen was opened for the purpose of supplying coffee, beer, and other things by way of luncheon and ordinary refreshment, but not spirits, to the cadets out of hours, and the object was to keep them from the temptation of the public-house. Billiard tables were established like racket-courts, with the view of giving the young men amusement and keeping them from low houses, where evil associates were likely to be picked up. He wished to express his satisfaction at the success of his noble Friend's Motion, and at the spirit in which the Secretary of State intended to meet it by recommending Her Majesty to issue a Royal Commission. The state of Sandhurst and Woolwich ever since he had any knowledge of them had been very unsatisfactory, and that was owing to a matter which had not been mentioned during the discussion. The fact was the young men were, for the most part, put four or five together into rooms; there was not much more moral supervision over them than over soldiers in a barrack; and they were not looked after in the way that boys were at Eton, Harrow, or any other of our public schools. That was a great defect. The professors, who were many of them very able men, when they had finished their lessons, had nothing further to do with the cadet; and, though the officers who were placed over them did undoubtedly look after the young men according to their view of their duty, and a natural view it was, yet the moral influence which was found so salutary, and which tutors exercised over boys at public schools, was wanting. Military men for the most part were not suited to be schoolmasters, because the business of the schoolmaster was one to which they had not been brought up; but, though absolutely necessary as teachers of technical matters, such as military history and fortification, he must give his candid opinion that, as far as the tone of moral conduct went, they made very bad schoolmasters. His noble Friend wanted to establish a University which every one who went into the army should be bound to enter. No doubt, there were arguments in favour of a higher professional education; but, while he was perfectly willing to see a University established where persons might go to take a degree in military science, he did not wish to force young men three or four years beforehand to make up their minds to enter the army. In his opinion they could not get better officers than were to be had from our public schools.


pointed out that the inquiry which had been promised was of a small and limited nature, and expressed his regret that it was not to be larger and wider. Speaking from his experience at the military College of Sandhurst, he must express his opinion that the education of officers with respect to general attainments was now placed on too high a standard. That standard would not secure for the country, active, courageous, and able regimental officers in the general service. His dread was that many most excellent young men, most competent to be regimental officers, would be excluded from the army by reason of the competitive examination. At a former period men who could not at the present day have passed the competitive examination distinguished themselves in the Peninsular War, some of them attaining the highest rank, fighting well, proving excellent regimental officers, and maintaining in most difficult times the honour of the British flag. It was not alone a knowledge of mathematics, or of history, or of many other things he might mention, that was required by a military officer. On the contrary, he thought that a man might have his mind over-crammed with general knowledge, and be thereby less fitted for the performance of his duties than would otherwise be the case. He had himself been educated at Sandhurst, and much did he owe to the education he received there; but he remembered that at that time of day the students were taught how to load and manage a gun, but they were not allowed to use powder. Some time after that they were instructed in riding, which was doubtless a very necessary part of their training, but this was not done while he was in the school. The grand object should be to investigate the question as to what education was respectively required for regimental officers, for Engineer and Artillery officers, for staff officers and commanders of high rank; and nothing could be more mischievous than that a young man should, after a competitive examination, enter the army as an ensign or lieutenant, with the fancy that he knew better than everybody who happened to be above him. For his own part he thought it would be much better to unite the two establishments of Sandhurst and Woolwich. It should be understood that when this Commission was appointed, its duties should not be limited to a mere inquiry into what took place at the Colleges of Woolwich or Sandhurst; but that the whole system of army education, including competititive examinations and appointments to first and second commissions, should be thoroughly investigated, and the effect of the competitive examinations should be inquired into, so that the Commissioners might report for the consideration of the House whether they would continue the system of competitive examinations, which he granted might give them good officers, but which might exclude the very best of officers.


referred to the experience of the East India Company, in connection with their great institution at Addiscombe, as illustrating how scientific education for the Engineers and Artillery might be combined with instruction for regimental positions. Addiscombe had sent out very many distinguished Artillery officers and Engineers to India, and among them was Sir Robert Napier, now commanding the army in Abyssinia, who went out very young. Some of the most distinguished Engineers that we had in India obtained their swords of merit by the time they were seventeen. He regretted to hear an hon. Gentleman complain that men went into the army too young. It was desirable that those who were intended for service in any country like India should go out at an early age, in order that they might get acclimatized, and might hold on. He himself had gone out at fourteen, he was under fire at fifteen, and he attributed his present advanced age and health to youthful acclimatization. He was glad to hear that the Commission was sanctioned, and if it were properly carried out, and due inquiry made as to the working of Addiscombe, he had no doubt that the result would be the combination of the two establishments al Woolwich and Sandhurst, not only with great efficiency, but also with great economy.


submitted that if there was one point more than another which required attention in connection with this question, it was the great secret of know- ing how to teach. He earnestly hoped that the Government, in framing the terms of the Commission, would leave it open to the Commission to consider, and would almost direct their attention to, the question—how could the drill instructors of the English army be taught the art of teaching? If England meant to go on paying for auxiliary forces, 180,000 Volunteers, besides Yeomanry and Militia, it behoved the Secretary at War to consider whether the officers of some 300,000 or 400,000 men ought to be intrusted with the duty of teaching their brother civilians without, at least, having had an opportunity of going to some institution where they might be taught—first, the facts they ought to know; secondly, the principles on which those facts rested; and, lastly, how to impart them to civilians, who had very little time, and were not now properly taught by the drill instructors. Some of the instructors were very able, but they were only a very few amongst the many.


said, he agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Devonport (Mr. Chambers) that under the present system the minds of officers were emasculated by over education. He hoped that the Commission to be appointed would include this subject in their inquiries—that they would consider why the two institutions alluded to were required at all, and on what grounds young men did not enter the army at as early an age as they entered the navy.

Motion agreed to.

Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that a Royal Commission composed of Military and Civilian Members be appointed to inquire into the present state of Military Education in this Country, and more especially into the training of Candidates for Commissions in the Army, and into the constitution, system of Education, and discipline of the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, and of the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, as well as into the rules and regulations under which Candidates are admitted into those Colleges.—(Lord Eustace Cecil.)