London at the End of the Century:A Book of Gossip
a Beckett, Arthur William
THE DAYS OF THE FIRST VOLUNTEERS.
Of course all the world knows (and by the phrase I refer chiefly to the of the Reading-Room at the British Museum) that in the early years of the Volunteers were immensely useful in dispelling the scare raised by the rumour that we
|were about to be invaded by the French. In spite of the paucity in our numbers as compared with our population of to-day, we managed to gather together a host of men. The force in London alone compared favourably with our existing Metropolitan Volunteer Corps. A short while ago I had occasion to glance through an old Army List published before the century departed had reached its teens, and was surprised to find that all the had their full complement of officers. There was no difficulty in getting men to accept commissions eighty or ninety years ago, and many a portrait of a grand-father or great-grandfather in full regimentals, honoured by members of the present generation, affords evidence that the recipients of the King's favours were not ashamed of their uniforms. Gentlemen of various professions joined the ranks and worked their way up to the silver epaulettes. They did not seem to consider that they were doing more than their duty, and it is interesting to note that although the militia sometimes came in for the hard rubs of the caricaturists, the volunteers were allowed to go Scot free. It was assumed, and I think rightly assumed, that if a man took the trouble to find time from his general legitimate work to make himself efficient for the defence of his native land he deserved well of his country. The scare died away, and with it the The corps disappeared|
|from the army lists, and the old colours found a resting-place in the churches. Not very long ago I came across a number of flags in St. Luke's (the old St. Luke's), Chelsea, close to Battersea Bridge. They had been there for more than half a century, and, hearing that the 's Westminsters might possibly be able to lay claim to their reversion, I called the attention of Colonel Sir Howard Vincent to their existence. If they are still at St. Luke's, or have been removed, I know not, but I have no doubt that a diligent search would assist in the discovery of a number of other colours that have fluttered in the breezes of Hyde Park in the days of the Georges.|