Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

10 erthygl ar y dudalen hon




A RAMBLER'S JOTTINGS. As your correspondent during the Parlia- mentary vacation, I must take the most pro- minent subject of the last few days, and record my own views of the great Volunteer Meeting at Wimbledon. To any one who has not witnessed such a scene before, the encampment at Wim- bledon is as curious a sight as could be seen in any country. We have been told that English- men do not equal foreigners in the art of making camp life comfortable, and pitching a home on the plain; but I must confess that, after seeing a great deal of that kind of thing in other parts of the world, nothing in my observa- tion has come up to the neatness and comfort of the Wimbledon Camp. It has been said that the great metropolis is near at hand, and that the volunteers individually are many of them pos- sessed of very deep and well-lined pockets, from which a X50 note is scarcely missed. Speaking, however, of my own experience, I went through miles and miles of these encampments, and though, in some of the tents, princely luxuries were introduced, and a chef de cuisine was there to supply the wants of the inner man, for the most part the volunteers roughed it like soldiers; they lay in their tents all. night, contented themselves with rough fare in the morning, went through heavy drill during the day, and partook of rations such as are enjoyed by- ordinary soldiers. A curious incident came under my notice during the meeting, serving to show that volunteers willingly submit to dis- cipline. It had rained heavily for some forty- eight hours, and here and there upon the common the hollows had filled with water, well mixed with mud; in advancing the commanding officers generally avoided these spots, but upon this occa- sion a whole corps advanced hip deep into one of these morasses; the commanding officer, feel- ing a regard for his men, called Halt," which was done at once; whereas had they gone a few feet farther they would have been clear. The officer, who chanced to be short- sighted, applied his glass, and looking hither and thither, and consulting his coadjutors, after keeping them a couple of minutes in this pre- dicament, cried Quick march," and, amid much laughter, the men got away from their dis- agreeable position. As to the shooting, the ordinary reports will tell you that it was far above the average, and a jollier, happier lot of fellows than the volunteer competitors I think I never saw together; there was a friendly rivalry, but this elid, not beget enmity, and whoever won was congratulated on all sides. It was a funny sight in the evening to see some thousands assembled in a large building called the Theatre, and here at eleven o'clock at night, after the amateurs had gone through their performances, God Save the Queen" was sung, and away went members of the various corps-east, west, north, and south—in search of their tents, which, on a dark night, often occupied a lengthened time, more especially as this year no camp fires were allowed, which, although it might be considered a good precautionary measure, cer- tainly at this meeting lessened the picturesqueness of the scene. But I have not space to dwell upon preliminary proceedings, so I will take my readers with me on the great review day. The Wimbledon Volunteer Ground consists of about forty-eight acres of Common enclosed all round with boards, closely knit together, ten feet high. Spectators from without could see only the tops of tents, and the grand stand and refreshment-rooms raising their tented heads far above the others. The crowd that had assembled without this enclosure were many of them unaware that there was no admission to the ground without payment of a shilling, and this did not admit them to the tented buildings. Armed, however, with an order from the Secretary of State for War, I went to the southern gate, which is far removed from the principal encampment, and here some fifty tents belonging to the London Scottish were raised, quite in military fashion. Around each was a shallow gutter cut, which became a receptacle for the rain that fell upon the canvas, inside were few articles of comfort, the ground alone being the resting-place, and the camp blanket the only covering. As I marched along I found the open ground in front protected by mounted police, scarcely a volunteer was to be seen, most of them had gone to the rendezvous which were fixed at various distances from the Common, the few alone remaining who had been fortunate enough to obtain prizes. At the north end, where the great tent for visitors and the thousands^ smaller tents belonging to volunteers were erected, was placed a table covered with purple cloth, on which were the numerous prizes won in the late contests. Some of these were magnificent specimens of art: tea-services, cups, &c., in silver; rifles, watches, and shields of all kinds and de- scriptions. The ground around was carpeted with red cloth, and shortly after three o'clock the Countess Spencer, escorted by Lord Elcho and a brilliant company, took her seat at the centre of the table. As one victor after the other made his appearance, he was heartily cheered by the spectators, and Lord Elcho had some compliment to say to each when introducing him to Lady Spencer, who gracefully presented the awards. After the prizes had been distributed, Mr. Gale, the discoverer of the mode of making gunpowder inexplosive for storing purposes by mixing a white powder with it, was presented by Lord Elcho. A bowl of this preparation was placed upon the ground, and a slow match was burnt through it, after which, a red-hot poker was drawn across it without having any effect, except the explosion of a few grains of powder singly. Mr. Gale then sifted the powder from the mass, and applying a match to it, an explosion immediately followed, distinctly showing that the combustible nature of the pow- der had in no way been destroyed by the admix- ture. On the conclusion of this interesting experi- ment, three cheers, loud and long, were given for Lady Spencer, three cheers for her noble husband, and these were followed by cheers for Lord and Lady Elcho, and the ceremony concluded with three cheers for the Queen. I certainly expected that the inventor of so useful a remedy against explosions would have come in for a burster, but T?1 no\ THEY never mentioned him." ,y ^is time the common was crowded with visitors; carriages of all kinds and descriptions filled the spaces outside the review-ground, gen- tlemen and ladies on horseback paraded about, and all was in preparation for The Grand Review. As the hour approached for the great event, staff officers galloped across the ground giving instructions to mounted police, and seeing that the preparations were complete. Five o'clock was announced on the card as the time when the review would take place, but it was long after that time before the volunteers made their appearance. At six o clock a splendid silk flag, bearing the British standard, was hoisted in front of the grand stand, and the cannon announced the approach of his Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge; and now one volunteer corps after another, each preceded by its band, entered the ground, the London Scottish carrying out their nationality by playing the bagpipes and drums. The Duke of Cambridge, on a splendid charger, and accompanied by a brilliant staff, galloped here, there, and everywhere, scrutinising every- thing, from the tents, the artillery guns, and am- j munition wagons, to each corps as it marched to its proper station; and then, with scru- pulous care, he watched' the formation of brigades and the preparations for the sham fight. This occupied a considerable time, and spectators were becoming impatient until the booming guns of the artillery, at the far distance, announced the fight to have commenced; then the skirmishing parties, scattered all over the common, began a vigorous fusilade. Soon, nearer and nearer came the battle, the cloud of smoke notifying a plentiful explosion of gunpowder, and, as the artillery approached, delicate ladies put their fingers to their ears to keep out the deafening sound; and now the horse artillery appeared in front of the grand stand; an aide-de-camp rode swiftly to them, and, according to orders received, away went the whole brigade full gallop to a few hundred yards distant, when they suddenly stopped, and, in less than a minute, the guns were unlimbered, and bang, bang, bang! was heard, to the evident terror of those in the vicinity. The enemy were supposed to be at a distance, however, and the artillery and the various infantry brigades followed hard after them. Of course, the volunteers were victorious, but not until they had expended much ammunition. I cannot go over the full details of the action, suffice it to say, that every corps acquitted themselves like soldiers of the line. When the fight was over, the Duke of Cam- bridge, accompanied by his staff, took his position underneath the British standard, Captain St. John Mildmay, as secretary, acted the part of master of the ceremonies, and, before the Dlfke's arrival, placed in the front rank of visitors Lady Spencer, Lady Elcho, and several other ladies of title, with Lord Bury, General M'Donald, and the great deer- stalker and rifle-shooter, Captain Ross, dressed in Highland character, whilst near to them were the two Indian princes in native costume, and close be- hind was the Queen of the Sandwich Islands, with a cloak of cloth of gold from head to foot, having with her an adopted child, with scarlet turban covered with brilliants. The Duke of Cambridge, with that peculiarity of recognition which all the Royal family possess, seeing Lady Elcho, General M'Donald, and Captain Ross, at once remembered them, and, with John Bull character, shook hands with them and said, All safe, all safe, ladies no accidents. A noble lot of fellows." The duke now turned towards the marching corps, who passed one after another before him. General iy speaking, the march-past eli- cited a meed of praise from his Royal Highness, and as they went by the saluting flag he would use expressions of this kind—"Very well, very well;" "very good," &c. Amongst those who received the applause both of his Royal Highness and the public, were the London Scottish, the London Irish, the Rifle Brigade, the Queen's, the North Middlesex, the Civil Service, the South Middlesex, and one or two of the Tower Hamlets corps. The weather was beautifully fine, and altogether the meeting passed off very pleasantly, and reflected the highest honour upon our noble volunteers.



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