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officers drink a great deal, and that they seldom
leave the table quite sober. This may possibly
have been the case in the times when hard
drinking was the fashion among all ranks, but
it is not so now. I never saw but one officer at
a mess-table who was the least intoxicated,
and this was a very young man who had that
day won a large sum in betting upon some
famous race.

English officersthat is, all the unmarried
officers of a regimentdine together at the
same table, and the dinner is called “the
mess.” The same system, with the same
name, has of late years been introduced into the
Imperial Guard in France; but it is by no
means popular with us, and I should be
sorry to see it extended in our service. In the
first place, our regiments consisting of three
battalions instead of one as is the case in the
English army, we could hardly find accommodation
for so large a body of officers, combined
with the necessary comfort. Then, again, a
“mess,” as it is established in the English army,
with mess plate, mess furniture, mess wines,
and all that is requisite for keeping up an
establishment, entails considerably more
expense than a plain dinner at a provincial
town “pension,” or hotel. At Lyons,
Marseilles, Grenoble, or Metz, my dinner and
breakfast for the month never cost me more
than seventy francs, or less than three pounds
sterling, and this with quite enough good table
wine at each meal. I have no luxury for
that money, but I sit down with my brother
field-officers, my brother captains, or my
brother subalterns, as the case may be, and
we have all we require, both in the quality and
quantity of our food, and cleanliness of table
arrangements. But an English mess, if an
officer breakfast at it, and drink even a small
quantity of wine, will never cost its members
less than six francs a day, or a hundred and
eighty francs a month.* Then, again, in the
French service there does not exist that perfect
equality of rank off duty, which is the rule in
the English army. In a regiment of the latter,
parade, or guard mounting, or “stables” once
over, the commanding officer is the only
person to whom any deference is shown by the
other officers. The rest call each other by their
surnames or christian names, as they may or
may not be familiar with one another. The prefix
of “captain” or “major,” as is the case with
us when addressing a superior, is seldom or
never heard in an English regiment, except on
duty. In the English navy it is different. In
that service, off duty as well as on, the inferior
officer pays great respect to his superior, and
with them, as in our army, all the different
ranks do not dine together.

* Rather more than seven pounds, which our
military readers will find to be rather an under than
an over statement of the monthly mess expenses.

In the English army, except in the Foot Guards
when stationed in London, the officers do not
lodge out of barracks, as is the case in France.
English officers would often hardly credit me
when I told them that our largest regiments,
numbering perhaps two thousand four hundred
men, would never have more than an adjutant,
major, and the captain and subaltern on duty
inside the barrack walls, except during the
hours of duty, and never during the night.
Unless he happens to be a married man, of which
there are never more than four or five in a
regiment, no officer in the English army can
lodge out of barracks, nor can he, without
special leave, be absent from the barracks all
night. We have an idea in France that the
English officers are much less with their men,
and have far less to do, than in our service;
but the exact contrary is the fact. In the
English army the men are constantly being inspected
by their officers for something or other, and are
not left to themselves nearly so much as our
soldiers are. It is possible that this constant
supervision may be requisite in the English
army, but I am inclined to think that it makes
the troops more dependent upon others in
the difficulties of a campaign, and tends to
diminish that self-reliance which is evident
in the ranks of our army, and which has
helped our men so well in many emergencies.
I will give an instance of what I mean.
In the French army, once the rations of the
regiment have been duly inspected and
pronounced to be good, there is an end of looking
after the food of the men. The quality of the
supplies the administration is careful of; for
the cooking, the men themselves are
responsible; and this has the double good effect of
making the men self-dependent, and avoiding that
constant inspection of them which seems to me
a mistake. Now, in the English army, the
quality of the rations is inspected in the morning,
before the rations are delivered:—much the same
as with us. Then, each meal, as it is ready and
cooked, is inspected, first by the orderly corporal
of the company, then by the orderly sergeant of
the company, a third time by the orderly
sergeant of the regiment, and when served up
in the barrack-rooms the orderly captain and
subaltern go round to ask and see whether the
men have any complaints to make. And yet,
notwithstanding all this trouble, the English
soldiers are not by any means as well fed as ours.
Their breakfast and supper consist of tea and
bread; their dinner alone being a meat meal,
while our men have a good substantial breakfast
and an equally good dinner. In many English
regiments it is the custom on Sunday, in
addition to the several inspections I have
mentioned, to have the men’s dinners inspected by
the lieutenant-colonel and the majors of the
corps; and it is customary, I am told, in a
number of corps that the men are obliged to
sit down to their dinner buttoned up in
uniform. Imagine what our soldiers, who when
off duty never see any one of higher rank than
the corporal of their room, would say to this
constant supervision!

The chief difference between the two services
lies, as I believe, in the fact that whereas