Attitude to Army

Illustrated London News Saturday, 2nd July 1853

Lead article:

“In England a large Encampment is a novelty … The English are a busy people, and would not tolerate a constant succession of assemblages … Soldiers have never been in high degree popular in the British isles.

“The naval service has been our right hand of defence. Our main reliance in days of peril, it is one that has never been known to fail us. The sea-faring propensities of our Danish and Norwegian ancestors have always been strong amongst us .. and are not to be eradicated by either time to circumstance.

“While our military annals show but the two transcendent names of Marlborough and Wellington, we have score of naval heroes, from the days of Raleigh and Blake, to those of Howe and Nelson, whose names are household words, hallowed by the respect and affection of the people.

“Splendid as was the career and immortal were the services of Wellington [who also served as Prime Minister], he scarcely stands so high as Nelson in the estimation of his countrymen. …

“There is not a reflecting Englishman who does not feel that the sea made us great, and keeps us so. Our most terrible triumphs in war, and our most splendid achievements in peace are due to it. We owe to it, not only our security and independence as a nation, but our private and public wealth ..

“The army never has been, and never can be, so popular [as the navy]. We endure an army as we do a police, because we consider it to be necessary, but take no particular pride or satisfaction on it. … A standing army is the national abhorrence.  .. the bulk of the people .. feel that public liberty is always exposed to peril where military leaders become predominant. Our statesmen, of all parties, share this instinct ..”