Page:The Chartist Movement.djvu/44

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THE CHARTIST MOVEMENT

sought experience in Germany, he fully realised the inevitableness of the struggle, and he knew that every man was bound to take his place in the grave and prolonged effort by which alone England could escape overwhelming disaster. "I don't think," he wrote to me, "I shall dislocate the economy of the University by joining. What troubles me is of course my book. I have written nearly a chapter a Week since Easter. At this rate I shall have the first draft nearly completed by the end of another three months, and I am therefore very keen to finish it. If there were no newspapers I could keep on with it; but the Chartists are dead and gore, while the Germans are very much alive."

In June Hovell was sent to a school of instruction for officers at Hornsea, where they gave him, he said, the hardest "gruelling" in his life, and from which he emerged, at the end of July, at the head of the list with the mark "distinguished" on his certificate. He was gazetted in August to a "Kitchener" battalion of the Sherwood Foresters, the Nottingham and Derby Regiment. But officers' training had not yet become the deftly organised system into which it has now developed. When Hovell joined his battalion at Whittington Barracks, near Lichfield, he found himself one of a swarm of supernumerary subalterns, who had no place in the scheme of a battalion fully equipped with officers. As there were no platoons available for the newcomers to command, they were put into instruction classes, hastily and not always effectively devised for their benefit. He rather chafed at the delay but enjoyed the hard life and the new experience. It was soon diversified by a course of barrack-square drill with the Guards at Chelsea, by an informal assistantship to a colonel who ran an instructional school for officers, by a very profitable month at the Staff College at Camberley, where he soon "felt quite at home, seeing that the place is so like a University with its lecture-rooms and libraries and quiet places," and by a period of musketry instruction in Yorkshire, where an evening visit to York gave him his first practical experience of a Zeppelin raid. Altogether a year was consumed in these preliminaries.