The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 70
Who was to say there would never be a Chinese invasion? They had piratical instincts; they "had it in for us." We had the advance agents here already. The Chinese had the nucleus of a modern fleet. Their soldiers were being armed with modern arms of precision. The highest military authorities held the opinion that they were the material for good soldiers: hardy and tough, and did not mind getting killed—an important quality in a soldier. Their commissariat requirements gave great facilities. They were being forced outwards by pressure of enormous population and want. A quarter of a century or less in these times made great changes. China might be a troublespine factor in the future. Anyhow, there would be no harm in keeping an eye on China.
If I had the dealing with what is so far the excellent State education, military drill should form a regular and continuous part of it through the whole course, and, for the elder pupils at any rate, instruction in the proper use of small arms and other weapons. Trying to educate for officers is another and more difficult matter.
Also, swimming should be encouraged for both sexes. This would improve the health and carriage, and would be easily dealt with in large towns and schools by the use of baths. The State is as much responsible for the physical health of the people as for their mental development. Unless the body is vigorous and robust enough to sup- page 35 port the strain, much of the book-learning is thrown away. It has no doubt been noticed that in the learned professions and others that judges and admirals, &c., often lived to a great age. No doubt they were much indebted to their good constitution for the position they held. The children now at school will be the mothers of future New Zealanders, and will influence, as mothers do, the "unborn millions" physically and mentally. Drill could be picked up at school almost insensibly, without effort, and inexpensively. Once away from school, it could only be done in a scattered population at great hardship and expense. It would make a people comparatively easy to organise in time of emergency for purposes of defence of country or civil rights. A regular paid army is always more or less liable to be controlled by capital as against the people to maintain "law and order" for the rich as against the poor. This is perhaps most the case in democratic countries, such as America, as shewn by events in the late labour straggles. Whatever might be said for or against democratic governments, they are more exposed to the disadvantage of men getting into power through the influence of wealth only; and these men, if disposed to be corrupt, and to abuse their position, have probably not even the traditions and position of an old name to protect and to deter them,—vide Panama Canal scandals in Prance. It is not much use having manhood suffrage if the representatives, when elected, sell themselves to, and play into the hands of, the capitalists—first flattering, and then selling the men that elected them. A people whose schooling included drill, and the proper use of arms, would be in a position to assert their rights, and would hardly submit, or be expected to submit, to oppression at the hands of a handful of capitalists—of a moneyed ring. In time, here, as population increases, the struggle for a living will be more severe—the masses yet more at the mercy of capital. The people of this country would do well to take warning by older countries, and to be ready for the struggle when it comes. As I have said already, this may by some be thought rather wild talk, but, if it contributes to prevent the people being lulled into a false security until too late, my object will be gained. Nearly all old countries now are a population of drilled soldiers, and it seems hardly right to allow a population to grow up here entirely behind all other nations in capacity and knowledge for self-defence—a state that at some time might invite attack. England, like New Zealand, has a long coastline, but she has a fleet to defend it. We have something like 3000 miles of coast-line. This would, at any rate, be more practicable and page 36 useful for purposes of national development than nationalising the land.