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The Association has 8,3711. 4s. 7d. of available capital.
COUNTY AND COLONIAL ASSOCIATIONS.
One of the first steps taken by the Council to strengthen their position and extend their influence throughout the country, was to endeavour to get the counties to form Rifle Associations. There are now forty-one counties which are in direct connexion with the National Rifle Association. They contribute to the funds of the parent association, and each receives annually a bronze medal, which is given to the county champion, who by virtue of that position is entitled to compete for the Prince of Wales's prize of 1007. together with twenty prizes of 5l. There are sixteen colonies in connexion with the National Rifle Association, on the same footing as the counties; and stray champions have appeared from Australia and India, but have not yet succeeded in carrying off the Prince's prize. The colonies in which rifle associations have been founded, are: Cape of Good Hope; Frontenac (Canada); Hong Kong; New Brunswick; New South Wales; New Zealand; Nova Scotia; Prince Edward Island; Queensland; South Australia; Upper Canada; Victoria; Yokohama, together with Calcutta, Western and Northern India. Thus we find that the
influence of the National Rifle Association is not even confined to this country, but assists to educate our colonists in the art of self-defence. The colonial
military question is daily increasing in importance, and quickly ripening for decision before very long some settlement must be made. And, as the tendency seems towards letting the colonies provide for their own defence, it is of the utmost importance that due encouragement should be given to all colonists who are willing to enrol themselves, and learn to defend their adopted country. The large colonies must, in the natural course of things, become ere long connected with the mother country simply as having sprung from her, and as still speaking her language.
THE ANNUAL CAMP AT WIMBLEDON.
In 1861 Lord Radstock and a very small detachment of the Victoria Rifles encamped throughout the meeting. In 1862 there were 674 men in camp, of whom 212 were volunteers. weather was wet and boisterous, the working of the camp was not perfect, and the campers had to rough it a little. But from first to last, when it blew or rained, as when the sun was bright and cheery, all went merrily and cheerfully to work, and gloried in being the Mark Tapleys of Wimbledon. That year the Victorias in particular acted like old campaigners. They cleared the ground for their camp, pitched their own tents, managed their own commissariat and cooking, and hospitably dispensed the excellent results thereof to their lessexperienced brothers in arms. Some idea of the amount of downright campaigning which they had to undergo may be formed from the following announcement, which is authentic :"Imposing ceremonial. Grand dinner to
ladies and soldiers of all ranks in camp, at Victoria Crescent, at 8.30 punctually. Visitors are requested to provide themselves with a knife and fork before coming; otherwise they will have to rely entirely upon their own fingers.
We know out of how little a Frenchman can send up an excellent dinner. But the Victorian chef puts Soyer and all cooks of his class quite into the shade; and the dinner which was made from the above carte, washed down, as it was, with champagne and moselle, with champagne cup and moselle cup, together with a hearty welcome, was pronounced to be "very good."
The fable runs thus: A Victorian was cold and shivering outside his tent. Setting fire accidentally to a piece of furze, he found that furze when burning sent out heat which warmed the cold Victorian. With the wisdom with which he was endowed he farther discovered that, if one bit of burning furze gave out heat enough to warm one cold Victorian, six pieces would give comfort to six Victorians; and thus by continued inference arose the great institution of the camp fires. Of these the Times says:—
The aspect of the camp is very remarkable when the business of the day is over. Instead of the incessant bustle in and out of tents, and the perpetual cracking of rifles in the distance, scarcely a person is seen moving about; and as darkness falls, and lights illuminate the temporary homes of the Volunteers, uncouth figures and grotesque attitudes are reflected on the canvas, as if the residents were playing with a series of magic lanterns. . . . The scene is certainly a remarkable one. In the centre of the group rose a huge pile of blazing furze, distributing smoke and sparks to all the perverse people who would insist on crowding about it on the wrong side. Sitting, kneeling, crouching, and standing round the blaze there was a motley parliament."
Mrs. Brown came down to see the camp, and she wrote the following account of her visit:
"I says, says I, to Mrs. Gamp, on Tuesday last I says, I
'I never seed a Rifle Camp, in all my blessed days.'
Says Mrs. Gamp, 'Such hignorance ought
never for to be,
Let's take the opportunity of Wimbleding to see.'
Which Mrs. Gamp, she says to me, she says, Well, Mrs. Brown,
This here's the very weather for a-going out of town.'
So cons'quently we went out, with our Sunday umberellas
she says to me, 'Why
bless me, Mrs. Gamp,
I wonder how these Wolunteers can ever go to sleep
When all about their precious forms them dratted earwigs creep.'
The weather was most awful hot, as hot as oysters scalloped,
When we saw the Highland Laddies dance; and goodness! how they walloped, They turned and twoddled with their toes, around, and high and higher, When all at once there rose a screech, most awful, 'twas 'a fire!'
Then came a most terrific rush, which carried me away,
I bawled and cried for Mrs. Gamp, but where she was-can't say.
I found myself all fuddled up, and stuck all round with burrs,
A-sticking head straight downwards in a prickly bush of furze."
Mrs. Brown recovered, and sent this account of her visit to the Earwig, which is edited, written, and published by members of the Victoria Rifles. The Earwig was first published in 1864, as "a paper containing neither Politics, Literature, Science, nor Art." Its circulation is large; its profits, if we are to judge by the liberality of the proprietors, must be enormous-for we find, in 1866, in the prize list, "The Earwig Prize," value 201., an inkstand in silver and blue enamel, representing an earwig: 2d prize, a pin, also representing an earwig. This variegated annual is printed in large type, on excellent paper, and is sufficiently amusing to ensure a good sale. The following coat-of-arms and crest have been discovered by one of the advertising heraldic stationers as undoubtedly pertaining by right to the Earwig:
"Arms, Quarterly: 1st Quarterly, 1 and 4 England; 2 Scotland; 3 Ireland. 2d, Vert powdered of bullets, argent a bugle of the second (for Rifle Corps). 2d, Azure, a long and short Enfield Rifle salterwise argent (for Rifle Schools). 4th, Gules, 3 scimeters proper, barwise (for Middlesex).
"Over all, a bend argent, charged with 3 earwigs proper (for earwigs being over all at Wimbledon)."
In 1863, there were 1,100 men in camp, of whom 686 were Volunteers. An old woman was standing very near to the partially open door of the Secretary's tent, into which she peeped; and, although the Secretary was washing, she was lost in such admiration as to call out to another middle-aged woman who was near to her, "Well, I do declare ; they call this soldiering, but only do, dear, just come and look in at this 'ere tent. Why, I do declare if there isn't a bed, and a parlour, and a lady's boudaw and drawing-room all together. Well, I do declare it's beautiful, it really is now." And the Secretary's tent really is worth seeing. All the comforts of a gentleman's room with all the taste and richness of a lady's room are there combined. The curtained bed, and boarded floor, with its thick Brussels carpet, certainly deprive camp life of all hardness and inconvenience, provided only that the tent is waterproof, and that the wind does not blow it down. The Council also fit up every year a superb club-tent. If you have seen a comfortable club-room in town, you need no description of the National Rifle Association Club-tent, the sole difference being that the one is a tent and has a piano in it. In this club-tent, one night in 1864, Madame Goldschmidt (Jenny Lind) gave a concert for the entertainment of the Volunteers in camp. Here, too, the Moray Minstrels, through the kindness of Captain Lewis, of the Artists Rifle Volunteers, have on three occasions given concerts.
In 1864, 1374 encamped, of whom 734 were Volunteers; and in this year for the first time the Victoria Rifles were joined by the London Scottish, the London Rifle Brigade, and the 1st Middlesex Artillery. Many a pleasant
hour was spent among these hospitable tents by the numerous friends who visited them. The bagpipes of the London Scottish, it is true, were a cause of terror at first to the weaker-minded. So, at least, reports the Earwig:
"Last evening a sudden and violent illness seized the members of the Victoria Camp, and caused great anxiety to their worthy and much respected surgeon. On mature inquiry, it was found to arise from the effect of the playing of the bagpipes in the Scottish camp; on the cessation of the noise the symptoms of the illness decreased, and the members gradually recovered."
The cure was perfected by the exquisite fiddling of M. Sainton, who with Madame Sainton-Dolby came down to soothe the troubled mind of all those who had suffered from the harmonious tones which came from the tent of the Laird of Avoch, who commanded the Northern camp.
In this year occurred the only fatal accident which has happened since these great meetings commenced. The total list of casualties since 1860 is as follows:
One soldier accidentally shot (he lingered for weeks, but eventually died from the wound); one soldier lost an eye; one man lost a toe, shot off by himself; a few markers more or less hurt from the splashes of lead from the bullets, but none seriously; and one lady was most seriously cut with a piece of metal from a mortar which burst on the occa
1 The regimental camps vie with each other in friendly rivalry in their almost unbounded hospitality; open tent is ever the order of the day and night. To make their guests eat and drink seems the perpetual duty of those in camp. The London Scottish in their camp annually entertain Lord and Lady Elcho and the Staff of the Association. After dinner they have out their pipes, and then follow reels and flings. No sooner does Lady Elcho express a wish to leave than, as if by magic, a procession is immediately formed; the senior officer offers his arm to the chieftainess, while some score of Highlanders form up in file, half preceding, half following, her whom they delight to escort, and whom the whole regiment adores. Each man carries a lamp; and the procession moves off to the inspiriting strains of the piper who heads it, conducting Lady Elcho to her temporary home, when the men respectfully salute, and Lady Elcho
sion of a grand display of fireworks. Everybody who took an interest in that young lady-and all who were on the ground were interested in her, from the fortitude and patience which she showed through her long and trying illnesswas glad to hear that, when she was, a short time ago, happily married, the Council made her a life-member of the Association, and presented her with the ladies' National Rifle Association Badge.
When it is remembered that there have now from first to last been thirteen weeks of shooting of eight hours each day, that there have been about 60,000 direct entries, exclusive of the shooting for which competitors do not enter their names, and for which if we add an average of 50,000 a year we shall not add one too many; when, in short, we remember that there have been between 300,000 and 400,000 entries of one kind and another, and that more than 100,000 visitors have been on the ground during the firing, we can only congratulate the Council, the competitors, and the visitors, on the wonderful exemption from accidents that they have enjoyed.
In 1864 His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales opened the Association tramway, which conveys competitors from one firing point to another. This tramway is horsed and worked by the military train, and runs frequently throughout the day.
The Owl, which made a most successful debut in the season of 1864, generously gave a prize, which was shot for under special and unique regulations, as set forth in the following proclama
"Owl Shooting Extraordinary.
Oh Yes! O Yes!!
Take notice all,
A Prize of £50 has been given by the venera ble owls of the Owl newspaper, to be competed for on such terms as the Council may fix. Out of consideration for the generous but benighted donors, the competition shall take place in the dark, at 200 yards. Lights, called Owl's Eyes, will be substituted for Bull's Eyes.
Each competitor shall pay one shilling per shot, and if the competitors do not appear in great numbers
'The moping owl will to the moon complain.'
The prize, which shall be in the form of a beautiful silver owl, shall be adjudged to the competitor who shall by the end of the meeting have made the greatest number of owl's eyes; that is, who shall have oftenest knocked out the owl's eyes.
Every precaution has been taken to guard against accidents."
The silver owl was won by Mr. Martin Smith, who fired ten shots, making four owl's eyes. Forty men in all shot for this prize.
The Sunday in camp is, unfortunately, one of noise and bustle, owing to the thousands of people who come from London to see the camp. Throughout the week the papers have long accounts of the proceedings, and naturally those who cannot get away from business on the weekdays are glad to avail themselves of the Sunday to go and visit that which excites so much attention. An impressive Church Parade takes place on the Sunday, at which all in camp attend. The sermons at the. Morning Service have been preached by the Archbishop of York, Bishop of London, Revs. Mr. Farrar and Ball. The Afternoon Service has usually been conducted by the indefatigable Vicar of Wimbledon, the Rev. H. Haggarth. Collections are made for the poor of the parish.
In 1865 there were 1,623 in camp, 765 being Volunteers; in 1866, this had increased to 1,292 Volunteers, with a total of 2,151 in camp. Those who are in camp thoroughly enjoy the fortnight. The air is pure and good, the scenery beautiful, the occupation pleasant; all seem in a good humour from first to last, and the camp presents scenes of festivity and enjoyment not often witnessed in our stay-at-home and uncertain climate. The camp is increasing, and this year gives promise of a still further accession to the numbers. As the Duke of Cambridge wisely pointed out at the recent meeting of the
Association in London, larger numbers require stricter discipline and more stringent regulations. Between 2,000 and 3,000 men can be brought together in camp only if under direct rule and authority. The sanitary arrangements have greatly increased in magnitude, and the expense of camping will consequently be slightly increased. The Council have recently issued certain rules with reference to the conduct of their camp, which seem to us to be essential. By these rules they retain the entire control of all in camp; but care must be taken, and doubtless will be taken, that the happy freedom which has been heretofore enjoyed shall be no further interfered with than is absolutely necessary. The Council are right in having a complete understanding with those who voluntarily place themselves under their orders; and the campers may rest satisfied that all pleasant gatherings of the previous years will still go on, and that no unnecessary strictness will ever reign where Lord Spencer rules, and Lady Spencer exercises her pleasant sway. But, while the camp is under military order, it must never become a camp for military instruction or parade. Shooting, shooting, shooting, is the chief work of the National Rifle Association; the camp has been formed for the convenience of those who come to shoot; and resistance must ever be offered to those who would change the pleasant shooting-quarters of the National Rifle Association into either an Aldershot or a Cremorne.
The commissariat arrangements are upon a very large scale, and have been most successfully managed for the last four years, by the Messrs. Jennison, of Manchester, who bring with them from Lancashire their entire staff, and all "their stuff," as the Lancastrians style edibles and potables. Their wood, their carts, their horses, their men and women (numbering more than a hundred), their beer, meat, milk, and, in short, everything that enters into the construction of their building, or tenants them when constructed, comes from Lancashire.