« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
ment with no experience of the management of an income and with unbounded faith in its power to give him all that he wants. If he is not guided and checked be very early finds the water over his head. Commanding officers are men whose duties occupy fully their time, and who have little of it available for examining the mess accounts. But they cannot evade their responsibility for the future of the younger officers, towards whom they stand in loco parentis. It is hardly possible for any officer to get into difficulties without giving plenty of warning through his mess accounts; and it is very uncommon for an officer with a very moderate mess bill to be incurring serious liabilities outside. But even if that were the case, his action would not escape observation, if he were under the supervision of the commanding officer. When, as not uncommonly happens, a subaltern is brought up before his brigadier or division commander for reproof on account of his financial errors, and is regarded with black looks and harangued with severe words, he is generally only suffering for the neglect of his seniors, on whom the blame should really rest. If an officer who has been carefully supervised by his colonel, and subjected to all the checks which that officer bas it within his power to apply, nevertheless gets himself involved in financial difficulties, then bis case is indeed a bad one, and he is without the pale of those on account of whom this paper is written. The powers of the colonel in controlling young officers and in setting a good tone are very great, and when well exercised are quite equal to stopping any undue extravagance in his corps. There are colonels in the Service who fully recognise their responsibility towards the young officers, and who set a definite limit to the amount they are allowed to spend in the mess, particularly on luxuries, and at the same time encourage them to spend what they can afford in outdoor sports. In corps thus commanded the officer's lot is a happy one. He is brought up from the first in habits of economy, and he acquires a knowledge of how to manage his income which will help him throughout his career. It is perhaps as well that parents and guardians have no means of finding out the existence of these corps, or their commanding officers would be mobbed by those with sons and wards about to be commissioned. But they do exist, and in them there is no leakage produced by debt.
If this, by far the most important condition for the promotion of economy amongst subalterns, can be satisfied, a further help may be obtained through the systemization of all the irregular charges levied upon them in their mess bills, their subscriptions, sports, 'entertainments, etc. It has been observed that what the subaltern has to fear is heavy weather in the form of unexpected charges, and although those charges occur with
more or less regularity, yet the sanguine young officer does not look forward to them, and when they present themselves in bulk he is in danger of finding the water over him. The object should be by a regular monthly contribution to cover every form of expenditure which may be called for, so that at no time should the mess bill contain any charge in, so to speak, capital form. Taking first the subscriptions : all regimental and general military charities, which are very numerous and in many respects overlap each other, are in urgent need of co-ordination. In one or more commands a definite sum is contributed annually to the general military charities by the regimental institutes of each corps, and supplemented by officers' subscriptions. If this course were adopted by agreement throughout the Service, a very small monthly contribution would cover the subaltern's share. Another very small sum would provide for the regimental charities; and for any other subscription for local or special objects, and to find money for any purpose calling in ordinary course for contributions from officers, a third fund should be raised. The total sum under the heading of subscriptions should be graduated according to rank, and the subaltern's share would be covered by a very small monthly charge. The charge would, of course, be voluntary, and any officer not subscribing would, if be wished to support any particular object, have to do so independently.
After subscriptions come entertainments, and the charges connected with them. A dance or other large undertaking generally bits the subaltern hard, because it comes in one charge. If, however, a monthly subscription, graduated according to rank, were charged, entertainments could be provided for without any special call being made; in fact, entertainments on a large scale should only be allowed when the accumulated funds were sufficient to cover the cost. The subscription in the case of subalterns would not amount to more than two or three shillings a month. Officers not wishing to subscribe, if they took part in any entertainment, would pay their share in one sum.
Lastly come the subscriptions to recreations and sports. They would naturally be divided into two, or perhaps more, parts, one dealing with all the ordinary forms of recreation-cricket, football, hockey, lawn tennis, golf, racquets, etc., and affording officers the entrée to, and the right to play on, the grounds available ; and the others with bunting, shooting, and any other sport available. Separate funds would be created for each form of sport, so that officers could subscribe to any one of them; but for the games one fund would probably cover all, except games of a more expensive nature, as polo, which should be worked by eparate funds. Subscriptions to sports and recreations would not be
graduated, but would be the same for all ranks. They also would be voluntary.
The effect of dealing with the three great heads of a subaltern's expenditure in the way suggested would be that the average mess bill would be much lower than it now is, that it would be prace, tically unvarying month by month, and that the officer would very soon know what he could afford to take up and what he must cut out. If, at the same time, commanding officers exercised pressure on their subalterns to keep down every item in the way of luxury, and everything unnecessary, and to devote their available funds to such matters as were likely to improve their physical efficiency and their qualifications as officers, the mess bills would be still more moderate. The subscriptions under the three headings discussed would in all amount to a very small total, and if the subaltern were encouraged by his colonel to take only those he could afford he would probably hardly feel the monthly cost.
But, I repeat once more, the important condition in all aspects of the question is the attitude of the commanding officer. If he is really interested in the matter his influence will be sufficient to ensure the success of the arrangements proposed, or of any others which may be thought better. He will soon instil into the budding officer a tone and a habit of mind towards these matters which will take root in his corps and catch all the officers, who are very quick to follow a lead, in its grip. Without his active and sympathetic support no scheme can be successful.
One difficulty remains to be considered. There are in many regiments one, or perhaps more, subalterns of considerable means, or who at least live as if they had no need to be anxious about their finances. Now, an officer living at a much higher rate than that which the others can afford is a great danger to his comrades, and in particular to the young subalterns. For the sake of the general good, it is absolutely necessary that one who can afford to do so should not spend in the mess, or in association with other officers, more than the average which they can afford; and a colonel is not only justified in insisting upon a subaltern so circumstanced limiting his mess bill, but it is his plain duty, in the interests of his officers, to do so. If an officer cannot so far control his expenditure as to comply with such restrictions, for everyone's sake it is best that he should leave. But there are many officers who have sufficient public spirit to subordinate their own inclinations to the general good of their corps, and when they appreciate the reasons for controlling their expenditure, they will, for the sake of serving in a distinguished regiment, deny themselves much to their own benefit. This, again, is a matter for the commanding officer, calling for such tact and leading as he can display.
These proposals for dealing with what is & serious evil may seem, and indeed are, trivial. But it must be remembered that the subaltern finds the water coming over his head in the first instance through trivial causes, which, if not attended to, eventually submerge bim past recovery. And it is a matter of experience that where these trivial matters are attended to, as is the case in certain corps, the subalterns escape the fate which is that of so many. It is better to deal with evil by small measures at its source than to contrive large schemes for meeting it when it has taken charge.
J. K. TROTTER.
SECTARIAN UNIVERSITIES IN INDIA
An interesting and most remarkable movement has been started in India for the foundation of Hindu and Muhammadan Universities. The Muhammadans have eagerly taken up the idea of raising their college at Aligarh into & university. This college has been one of the most successful educational institutions in India, and has turned out some exceedingly useful men. I had myself, when in charge of the Central Provinces, opportunities of judging of the excellent character of some of the men produced at the Aligarh College. Especially in the time of the great famine at the end of last century, I had experience of the high character, sound training, and loyal devotion to duty which characterised the men who volunteered and were specially selected for famine work. At the same time, 'I cannot belp feeling some regret at the proposal to form the College into a university, because this will separate it from the general educational system of the country, and tend to give it a sectarian character. There is no objection to having another good University : the objection is to its being sectarian. If the measure succeeds, and the university exercises control over a system of affiliated institutions, we cannot fail to have a narrower outlook for Muhammadan education than its best friends have hitherto endeavoured to give it.
Meantime the Hindus also have started a scheme for the foundation of a Hindu university in Benares. The objection to this is precisely the same as in the other case. There was a proposal many years ago to establish a Christian university; but it was abandoned. The principal reasons which influenced most men against the proposal were, that it was not desirable either to take students away from their own provincial surroundings and put them into a university, the whole environment of which was foreign, or to separate them in their conception of education from all those who differed with them on the subject of religion.
To have provincial universities is sound enough, but to have an Indian university seemed undesirable. It must be remembered that the provinces of India, though held together by the British Government, differ amongst themselves as much as the countries of Europe ; and an Indian generally lives his life in his own province. It is surely desirable to train men in the locality