Army recruitment – 1857

Isle of Wight Observer October 31, 1857

RECRUITING THE ARMY – A recruiting party have (sic) been in Ryde during the past week; and, notwithstanding that they are dashing fellows and dressed up handsome in red “cloth”, instead of “baize”, and have medals conspicuously displayed on their breasts, they fail in getting many “to take the shilling.” The fact is, working men in Ryde don’t see military service rightly. They look at it as “a shilling a-day to be shot at”, with a flayed back, miserable pension, and “no promotion”, in the distance: instead of a patriotic duty to serve the Queen and the country, in which it is said they have “no stake” whatever. Nevertheless, while Ryde men despise military service, which they think degrading under present conditions, it is not from a lack of valour, as there is scarcely a man-of-war afloat but has one or more of them aboard, and they are reckoned some of the finest seamen in the world. When the Hon Harry Keppel was fitting out the Raleigh last year he gave notice that “none but the right sort of seamen need apply” for berths, and he selected by far the largest portion of his crew from Ryde men, as compared with any other place, and his exploits in China shew he has “the right sort”. Unless, therefore, the terms of military service are altered, the recruiting sergeant had better go to more ignorant districts than Ryde.

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