Back to the Army Again
NOTES: The short service system introduced by Cardwell in 1871 improved both recruitment and, by virtue of the regulars being younger and fitter, the Army's fighting calibre. Note, though, the poet's point that training was hampered by the shedding of experienced men. But for "the man of four an' twenty that asn't learned of a trade", reduced to the Reserve for 12 years on fourpence a day, one alternative to vagrancy was to rejoin the Colours under a false name. This rollicking study of the ploy suggests that the recruiting barracks frequently welcomed such men and turned a cheerful blind eye to their evident experience.
It is interesting to note that here is Kipling directly attacking, for its treatment of the ordinary trooper, the Establishment that lionised him.