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sion of duty, whether from neglect or misconception, if often occurring, is likely to be recollected by those in authority on a future occasion.
Many Lieutenant-Colonels likewise esteem the selection of recruits a seriously important matter, but their predilection is usually for fine-looking men. They generally, however, fully and quickly detect any physical or decided constitutional incapacity or mental deficiency in a map; the admission of such men, if repeated, sometimes loses a young assistant surgeon the confidence of his commanding officer, which he may never regain. It must not be forgotten that bad recruits remain as living reminders of a serious fault. Circumstances often conduce to the influencing men's minds in returning recruits as eligible, such considerations are always to be dismissed; the question admits but one interpretation, is or is not the individnal fit for the duties of a soldier? No incidental circumstances or associations ought to bias the opinion of a medical man; good looks often exert an influence in approval, but if to the suppression of a disability, this is a cardinal error. ability of individuals is sometimes another inducement, yet [ am doubtful that it should be so as a rule; they are often the most worthless members of their family, in which case they are invariably bad soldiers. Should the cause of enlistment be the enthusiastic misconceptions of a young lad, the restraints of discipline and menial occupations
soon occasion a revulsion of feeling ; this most frequently ends in purchasing a discharge, after all the trouble of drilling and forming a soldier has been perfected; occasionally, it is true, the reverse is the case, and such men make and continue goud soldiers; still as a circumstance creating a bias in favour of a man otherwise hardly fit, it is at least hazardous; the just course to pursue as a rule is to decide on the recruit's actual fitness.
At the head quarters of a regiment, sometimes an interest is endeavoured to be excited by urging the plea of relationship to some soldier of the corps. This is often a falsehood by connivance; and even if true, ought not to procure the approval of an ineligible recruit. These and similar circumstances might often produce a prejudicial influence which is to be carefully guarded against as the various duties of the service require, and our instructions are so far definite as to direct the disapproval of all such men. The positive and implied opinions of the best authorities on recruiting, inculcate a particularity in choice. Mr. Hennen and Dr. Cheyne have both gravely considered the subject. Mr. Marshall says, “ the duty imposed upon a medical officer in the inspection of recruits is not merely to reject persons who are absolutely unfit, he is to select men who are in every respect well fitted for military service.”
The age within which recruits are to be enlisted is a matter defined by the Legislature. In adopting a limit no doubt many circumstances must have influenced, and the conclusion have been perfected from different reasons, including especially the burthen on the resources of the country, the maintenance of the system of voluntary enlistment, and the efficiency of the service. As the age for enlistment, at least the maximum age, will always be determinate, this point might be left without further remark as one definitively appointed. Still I think a short discussion is needed, in order to bring it under observation as a question in itself necessitating careful reflection on the part of the medical officer, and the more so as it might otherwise be passed over, because it is not, as in the case of the fitness of a recruit, left in a great measure as a matter of opinion.
The general opinion advanced a few years back, by eminent army surgeons was, that we enlisted too early, the marches of armies mainly composed of lads, and their effects were contrasted with similar exertions of older soldiers; the superiority, as might be expected, was uniformly associated with the men nearest the maximum of adult strength and vigour. A similar opinion prevailed with reference to enlisting for tropical service. Sir George Ballingall, Mr. Marshall, and others, whose vast experience entitles their ideas to the greatest attention, recommend
* There is no minimum age for enlistment in the British army except for the troops serving in India, China, Australia, and St. Helena, for these the minimum is eighteen. The maximum age is established at twenty-five.--A soldier's service, by the present regulation, does not begin to count as actual service, until he is eighteen, though except for regiments serving in the above localities, he may enlist prior to that age.
twenty as the minimum age for enlistment, especially for service in tropical climates. In any condition of life where the possession of resistance to the causes of disease, unavoidable during a tropical residence, are specially advantageous, the attainment of age exceeding twenty is unquestionably a great object, as men at this time of life are less susceptible of disease than lads of eighteen, from constitutional resistance; and the more mature the age, the greater the likelihood of the exercise of reflection in preserving the health and avoiding temptation. Were men required for immediate active service, to undergo immediately after enlistment the fatigues of a campaign, to endure hardships, to continually sustain weight, and to resist by strength and the moral dignity of energetic men the
many sources of fatigue thence arising; a close approach to the fullest strength, both physical and mental, is undoubtedly advisable; and enlistment, as far as it is possible
twenty, could not but be conducive to real power in every relation of an army in the field. At this time of life the figure is approximating its physical perfection, and in a calling which usually, on service, affords supremacy to the physically endowed, self-confidence and independence are the natural result, the true secret of resistance to enervating influences. Orders have been issued, at different periods, applying to this question; yet from some reason, probably expediency, alterations have from time to time been introduced; other changes
may again occur, so that they are only definite for the time being
So far as the requirements for tropical and active service are alone to influence, there can be but little question as to the advantage of a time of life approaching maturity. Yet it appears to me that these are not the only points to be regarded; that numerous questions arise and various reasons can be urged in mitigation of exclusive opinions against admitting recruits under twenty into the service. By the admission of youths of eighteen, if not decidedly contra-indicated, the attainment of a sufficiency by our system of voluntary service must be much facilitated, as youths under twenty are much less likely to be established in life than when of more advanced age. The words of Napoleon, after the battle of Leipsic, are commonly advanced in favour of age in recruits, “I demand a levy of 300,000 men, but I must have grown men, boys serve only to incumber the hospitals and roadsides.” The opinion here intrcduced, comprising the solution of so great a question by so great an authority, admits of some explanation that affords a modification of its full decisive value, when advanced as an argument applicable to the British army. The French army was, at that period, recruited in the proportion of one in forty of the population, a drain upon the resources of a nation employed at the same time with the necessary pursuits of civilized countries, never, I believe, equalled ; and so excessive were the effects of the conscription, “which