Burghers of the Queen

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Burghers of the Queen is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in The Glasgow Evening News on 19 december 1900.

Burghers of the Queen

Sir, — I feel most strongly about this matter, and I only regret that it is not possible for me to be at Glasgow on the date you name.

The idea I am working with at Hindhead is simply riflemen, drawn from the resident civilians. I find them very keen, and quite ready to pay for their own cartridges, which, with the Morris tube system, can be sold at three a penny. I made range for them at 50, 75, and 100 yards, the latter representing 600 without the Morris tubes, and twice a week I have a muster. Then on holidays I will give them a prize to shoot for, and I believe that in a year or two there will not be a carter, cabman, peasant, or shop-boy in the place who will not be a marksman. The whole expense of targets (5), mantlets, rifles (3), and tubes is not more than about £30. The system, I hope, will spread to the surrounding villages until all that district is full of possible fighting men. The Southern counties of England are most open to attack, and it is there that the movement should receive universal support. Considering that it is all done by voluntary effort, I think that the least which the Government should do is to satisfy themselves by a test as to the efficiency of each man who has passed through the rifle club, and then, having thoroughly tried him, to give him a rifle and bandolier of honour, for his patriotic exertions, which he could keep in his own home. It would still remain the cheapest military force in the world. Men from 16 to 60 should be enlisted — the older the man the better soldier he makes. The bayonet I am not so sure about. It puts false ideas into the men's heads as to what they are for. No red tape, no uniform, no swagger — a broad-brimmed, looped hat with a badge, and no other distinction. I am convinced that there are half-a-million of men to be had on those terms, and that it would help, not hinder, the Volunteer movement.

Wishing you all luck,
yours very truly,