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May 3 1902


The Montreal Herald, Saturday, May 3, 1902

In a Calmer Mood

We are getting so accustomed to war that the sending of a fourth contigent to South Africa hardly excites any remark, although the fourth contingent is much the largest that has gone from Canada. We can all recall the excitement, which prevailed throughout the Dominion when the first contingent took its departure from Quebec, and how anxiously the news of its arrival was awaited. For months after its arrival in South Africa men talked of little else but war and the part of our own Canadian boys were taking in it. Now the people of Canada are in a calmer mood, and while they do not abate any of their interest in the progress of our arms, they have become less impatient and less enthusiastic. War is a fine thing to talk about, or write about, but its realities are very sad, and the man of mature years who takes any delight in it has something wrong in his mental make-up. Let us hope that it may long be kept from our own doors, and that Canada may never have occasion to draw the sword in self-defence. Canada has become an important factor in the problem of Imperial defence, for five and a half millions of white men are not to be ignored, and under the new system of a militia reserve, the military strength of Canada will be greatly increased. With 120,000 trained men at command, Canada will be in a very good position to resist any ordinary attack, no matter from what quarter it may come.

Good Work of Raw Levies

The manner in which Canadian contingents for South Africa have been raised recalls the system that prevailed in the old thirteen colonies prior to the revolution. No one can question the efficiency of the troops thus recruited, yet it is totally opposed to the military traditions of the nations of Europe. The men of our first Canadian contingent were all got together in a fortnight, many of them had no previous military training yet they showed no lack of soldierlike qualities in actual service. In New England in the eighteenth century when soldiers were wanted for any service, they were recruited from the body of ordinary citizens and they always behaved well. In 1746 the great fortress of Louisbourg, which France had spent thirty years in building, was taken be an army of hastily raised levies from New England commanded by Pepperell, a merchant whose entire military career was confined to skirmishes with the Indians. The French fortress of Beausejour, which guarded the Isthmus of Chignecto, was captured by two regiments of soldiers from New England, many of them untrained men who had to engage in actual service within a few weeks of the time they were enlisted. All the colonial troops which took part in the old French war and assisted in the conquest of Canada were got together in a similar fashion and the same is true with regard to the levies which fought on the American side during the Revolutionary war. Their drill may have been a little different, but as soldier they were able to do good work as the result proved.

Does Drill Disqualify?

If the war in South Africa has proved anything, it has established the fact that a man may be a good soldier, yet know very little about the drill book. The Boers were all untrained men yet they have maintained a fight against the best soldiers in Europe with considerable success. The colonial troops from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Cape Colony and Natal were mainly composed of untrained men, yet they have done quite as good work as the highly trained British soldiers. Speaking as a civilian, I would be almost disposed to say that the more a man knows about the drill book the less fit he is for such a war as that in South Africa. Yet all the wars of the future will resemble this one in the use of smokeless powder and arms of precision of long range. The drill sergeant teaches men to move together in column or in line, but both formations must be regarded as banished from a modern field of battle. Individual courage, self-reliance and judgment must be predominating factors in soldiering of the future.

An Example from Prussia

Europe has supplied us with one of example of what half trained levies can accomplish in active service. When the kingdom of Prussia was stricken down by Bonaparte, one of the terms of peace enacted by the Conqueror was that the army of Prussia should be limited to 40,000 men. In this way Bonaparte thought to guard himself against any danger from a large Prussian army such as Fredrick The Great possessed. The terms of peace were complied with by Prussia, yet they were evaded. The army was limited to 40,000 men, yet its composition was changed every few months, for after a short period of drill a soldier was restored to civil life and a recruit took his place. In this way Prussia, in the course of a few years, had several hundred thousand men fit to take the field, and the Prussian army which fought in the Waterloo campaign was obtained in this fashion. This was the origin of the modern Prussian military system, which proved so effective in 1866 and 1870. A similar arrangement applied to the militia of Canada would soon give us a large available force which may never be needed for actual warfare, but which it is well to have. One good thing it will accomplish--it will prevent our militia from becoming stereotyped and fossilized. There are officers and non-commissioned officers in our militia who are wholly useless because they could not stand two days campaigning in the field. There are sergeants who have been in the militia for a quarter of a century. This should not be. These old officers and non-commissioned officers should be retired to the reserve and new men should learn their duties and take their places.

A Boston Briton

The other day while travelling on an Intercontinental train, I met a stranger from Boston, who was on his way to a town in Eastern Nova Scotia. He was a substantial looking man, a contractor and builder, and an employer of labor. I took him to be a typical American of the old-fashioned New England type, and it was some time before I discovered that although long a resident of the United States, he was a native of Nova Scotia, and that his heart beat as warmly for the old flag as ever it did. He was insensibly led into this disclosure by the conversation which we had in regard to the part taken by the British Colonies in the South African war. "That war," said he: "has done more to cement the colonies of Great Britain than any other event that has occurred in their history." It has been an object lesson to the world as to the forces at the command of the Empire in any great national emergency, and it has taught Englishmen a lesson also in regard to the worth of the colonies which they at one time neglected and despised. What other nation but Great Britain has colonies that would or could fight for her?' All this was familiar enough and if the Boston man had stopped there I would have thought nothing more of it. But he went on. Said he: "You are a newspaper writer and have an opportunity of obtaining the ear of the public. You can tell the people of Canada that their brethren now living in New England are still British at heart, and that thousands of them long to be under the old flag once more. I have often been asked upon what conditions they could return to Canada, and whether the household goods they possessed could be entered free of duty. If this information was generally diffused it would bring many of Canada's sons back, for the conditions of life are becoming harder every year with us, and the struggle for existence more keen. With many it is no longer a question of saving, but of obtaining bread and butter. If Canada offered any encouragement to these people they would return." It may not be possible to offer substantial encouragement at present, but something might be done to enlighten the ignorance of those who do not know that settlers' effects can enter Canada free of duty.

Americans in Canada

My Boston friend seemed to fear that our American cousins were seeking to obtain control of Canada in the same fashion as the Hawaiian Islands and Cuba have been dealt with, by obtaining control of our railways and industries, and by filling up the Northwest with American citizens. In regard to these matters I was unable to share his apprehensions, for the American citizen who settles in Canada soon becomes a good Canadian, and our Parliament and Legislatures should be able to guard us against any danger of American interests becoming predominant in our railways or our industries. Capital is not usually national in its aspirations or aims; what it looks for is good interest and security. It does not go to countries which are liable to explode in a revolution at any moment, but to lands like Canada, which are under the dominion of law and in which order always prevails. It is a healthy sign to see American capital seeking investment in Canada, and it is also well that American citizens should be coming to Canada to settle. This movement shows that the tide is running in our favor and that the "human sea" which so speedily filled up the American West is flowing into Canada. A great many of the people of Canada are descendants of residents of the old thirteen colonies, who were not loyalists, but who came to Canada some time after the close of the revolutionary war. These people, with a few exceptions, remained loyal to British interests during the war of 1812, and now their descendants cannot be distinguished from the descendants of the Loyalists. They have all become one people.

Trusts and Their Danger

The operations in the beef trust in the United States are opening in the eyes of people to a new danger, which menaces our civilization. The natural consequence of monopoly is anarchy, for the anarchist is merely the symptom of a disease. He is the product of countries where for centuries the rights of men have been trampled under foot, and where the oppressed see no other way of righting themselves but by resorting to violence and assassination. The anarchist is not a pleasant object to contemplate, but is he any worse than the capitalist who forms a combine for the purpose of raising the price of necessary food to millions of human beings, and who thereby causes privation, suffering and death? The anarchist is usually an atheist; he does not believe in God or go to church, because he has never been able to see that the world is ruled by Christian principles which so many profess and so few practice in their lives. The capitalist who robs his fellow Christians by means of a combine is usually a very orthodox person, a regular attendant at church, a liberal contributor to all its charities, a rigid moralist, and the enemy of every kind of wrong-doing but what he commits himself. Yet his moral code is no better than that of the wretched man who murders a Garfield or a McKinley, and who paid for his crime on the scaffold or in the electric chair. Why is it that anarchy, a product of Continental Europe, is more rife in the republic of the United States than in the monarchy of Great Britain? Is it not because the great republic has become the home of monopolies, the product of a protective system, which prevents competition and places many at the mercy of the combine?

Modern Robber Barons

The people of the United States are experiencing, although in a different form, the same evils, which oppressed the people of Europe during the middle ages. On a cliff, or rock, or hill above every town or village stood the castle of the lord or baron, a robber's nest, for his trade was to rob and oppress the peaceful peasants and artisans who lived near him. They were his vassals and servants, for he owned the soil on which they dwelt, and much of their labor went for his benefit. The modern monopolist works in a different fashion, but his methods are nonetheless effective. Their aim is to transfer the earnings of the workingman to his own pocket, and to enrich himself at their expense. He works under the protection of the law, for he sometimes is able to buy up Legislatures, and the courts seem powerless to control him. In a land that boasts of its liberty, and which claims to be governed by the voice of the people, this modern robber has a free hand, and thousands are ruined by his work without a hope of redress.


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