A repository of virtue?: The United Service Museum, collecting, and the professionalization of the British Armed Forces, 1829–1864

A repository of virtue?: The United Service Museum, collecting, and the professionalization of... Abstract By examining the development of the United Service Museum (established in London in 1831) this article demonstrates how the practice of collecting knowledge and material culture during the nineteenth century was considered an important avenue through which to inculcate virtuous behaviour in officers of the British armed forces. Although the museum’s curators favoured objects that reflected the development of the ‘science of warfare’ from the mid- to late-1850s and beyond, in the first half of the nineteenth century the collection of knowledge of other cultures and the natural world was considered just as significant for the professionalization of the services. By tracing these shifts in the museum’s collections policies this article highlights the complexities of the role, meaning and purpose of military museums, and makes a call to reappraise the nature of their collections, challenging the view that they should be exclusively seen as repositories of ‘spoils of war’. Throughout the nineteenth century, the British armed forces were characterized in numerous, at times conflicting, ways. A deep ambivalence of the public towards the institution of a standing army and frank expressions of ‘militarism’ coexisted with cults of military heroes and pride in military success.1 While the redcoat was perceived to be driven by brutality and licentiousness, particularly in the early half of the nineteenth century, and officers of the regular army were regarded by some as foolish gentleman dandies, British civilians attended military spectacles in outstanding numbers, and revered figures such as the Duke of Wellington (1769–1852), especially in the aftermath of victorious battles.2 Existing scholarship has noted that British experiences during the Crimean War (1853–6) inspired a serious re-appraisal of the British Army – particularly of the nature and character of the redcoat3 – and the numerous administrative and organizational changes instituted by Edward T. Cardwell as Secretary of State for War (1868–74) have been explored in great depth.4 However, as Hew Strachan has noted, despite the existence of conservative opinion that army reform was unnecessary (due to British victory against Napoleon) and undesirable (due to the perceived repercussions of revolutionary ideas in France), developments in support of the professionalization of the British armed forces can be traced prior to this period. This particular trend can be evidenced through the proliferation of military publications during the 1830s and 1840s, which provided a platform for discussions on discipline, punishment, and the need to improve education and recreational opportunities for recruits.5 Since the publication of Strachan’s book, only a few historians have broadened the discussion, including Kenneth E. Hendrickson, who has explored the influence of religious instruction on the reform of the British Army, and has argued that the foundation for such reform can also be traced to the period prior to the outbreak of the Crimean War.6 A further development related to the reform and professionalization of the armed forces during this early period can be identified: the establishment of military museums and their associated collection of information and material culture.7 This article shows that in the early nineteenth century, members of the armed forces believed that the development of the United Service Museum (affiliated with the United Service Institution and opened in 1831)8 – would play a significant role in cultivating moral and professional values in the officer corps of the army and navy. Although some critics claimed that the early incarnation of the United Service Museum focused upon ‘things which have no more to do with the art of war and either public or professional benefit, than we have to do with Hecate or Hecuba’,9 the fact is that many members of the military establishment believed that the gathering of knowledge – of a scientific and anthropological nature – was of the utmost importance in inspiring a respectable and honourable character in young and senior officers. Furthermore, it will be demonstrated here that while senior members of the armed forces narrowly associated the process of professionalization with the development of military science and technology during the 1850s and beyond, during the first half of the century the collection of objects and artefacts of other cultures and the natural world was considered just as essential for the cultivation of virtuous behaviour.10 Significantly, this mid-nineteenth century shift towards an emphasis on the technical aspects of professionalization, and the notion that museum collections could have a practical benefit, can also be traced in the discourses surrounding the establishment of other institutions in London at the time including the South Kensington Museum (officially opened by Queen Victoria in 1857).11 Such similarities in emphasis demonstrate that the British Army was influenced by broader nineteenth-century developments in museology, illustrating an inter-relationship between military and civilian culture during this period. We may begin with a discussion of the leisure activities of members of the British armed forces, which inspired the image of the ‘soldier of vice’ in order to demonstrate why some senior military officers supported the development of more virtuous pursuits. The discussion continues by showing how the establishment of the United Service Museum was considered to be a means by which to enhance the professionalism of members of the armed forces, and outlines the development of this repository in light of its collections policies and avowed purposes. It concludes with a call to recognize the complexities of the collections of military museums, and the need to nuance the perception that such museums were simply established as storehouses for ‘spoils of war’. The pursuit of vice in a gentlemanly profession As Edward M. Spiers has noted, the ‘officer gentleman tradition’, which involved ‘requirements of dress and deportment, an emphasis on honour and integrity, and a conformity with the manners and etiquette of polite society’ was seen as a vital element of the British Army throughout the nineteenth century. During the early part of this period, professionalism was chiefly associated with possession of a gentlemanly character, which was, in turn, deemed essential in maintaining regimental esprit de corps.12 Faith in the gentlemanly tradition of the officer corps underpinned the purchase system of promotions. It was argued that the promotion of non-commissioned officers caused disaffection amongst the rank-and-file who harboured resentment against those acting through personal ambition. It was also believed by some senior military figures that an officer could only be a true gentleman by birth and education, which fostered an inherent understanding of gallant and courageous behaviour.13 Expectations of gentlemanly behaviour influenced the ways in which officers engaged in leisurely pursuits. However, while some officers espoused modest and honourable traits, first-hand accounts of mess-extravagance, gambling, drinking and seduction can also be found, especially in narratives of the lives of those garrisoning the Empire overseas.14 In a book published in the late nineteenth century, the Irish officer William Elliot Cairnes provided an exceedingly sympathetic glimpse into the social life of members of the British Army.15 Young Guardsmen attended racing clubs, undertook high-stakes card-playing (although Cairnes reassured his readers that this was ‘fortunately confined to a limited number, and is discountenanced as much as possible by the senior officers of the brigade’), and fox-hunting.16 The social life of cavalry officers varied with regard to the station in which they were quartered as well as the regiment to which they belonged, yet they often passed the time with inter-regimental polo tournaments, cricket, and betting on horses (‘which, alas, every year claims a toll – though, happily, yearly a decreasing one’).17 Hunting was especially encouraged amongst members of the cavalry stationed in India as an opportunity to advance their practical skills in horsemanship. While the cavalry were socially more privileged, similar pursuits were engaged in by the infantry officers, though on a scale of lower means.18 Narrative accounts published by officers of their own hunting exploits, which were often illustrated with evocative engravings of adventurous pursuits in the field, were also seen as an opportunity to inspire virtuous behaviour. In the introduction to Shikar Sketches, Lieutenant James Moray Brown of the 79th Cameron Highlanders explained: If the perusal of these pages should prove the means of whiling away an idle hour, one of the writer’s objects will have been attained; and if further it should induce younger men to devote their superfluous energies to excelling in the sports of the field, and acquiring some knowledge of Natural History, instead of wasting time, money, and health in vice and frivolity, these pages, if they do no other good, will not have been written quite in vain.19 Officers stationed in imperial garrisons such as India found themselves with greater leisure time due to excessively hot weather conditions and the habit of acquiring ‘soldier-servants’ (and in Bengal, a khitmutgar, or ‘mess waiter’). Social activities too included game hunting, polo tournaments, gambling, and racing, as well as attending balls, concerts and theatrical displays performed by both officers and privates.20 As Captain F. B. Doveton reminisced in the 1840s, The ennui resulting from confinement to quarters and want of occupation is in India excessive, and whilst it drives the private to the regimental canteen in order to get through the day and his spare cash at the same time, his officer is too often induced from the same cause to seek for amusement at the card or billiard table, where in the East gambling is often carried on to a considerable extent.21 Upon his resignation as Commander-in-Chief in India, on 9 December 1850, General Sir Charles Napier (1782–1853) issued a General Order in which he severely criticized the excesses of officers in the British Indian Army: An officer who is summoned before a Court of Requests [for debt] must feel conscious that, although wearing the British uniform, he is not standing there in the character of a gentleman! He must feel, if he feels at all, disgust at his own degraded position. He may, by possibility, have been unfortunate; he may only have been thoughtless, but must feel in his heart that he is before the public, in a group with the infamous, – with those who are cheats, and whose society is contamination. A well-bred gentleman cannot support this feeling.22 Napier provided a number of reasons as to why debts could be so easily fallen into, including the attainment of a commission without a proper understanding that ‘honesty is inseparable from the character of a thoroughbred gentleman’; the false notion that ‘it is manly to be dishonourable’; the continuous marching of regiments; the toleration of mess extravagance by some regimental commanding officers; and the ease with which officers could borrow money through the banking system. Ultimately, Napier believed that the wish to emulate senior officers who possessed a higher income, while disregarding private means was ‘mischievous to all, and most so to young men’.23 Growing concerns over the proliferation of ‘licentious habits’ led some commentators to suggest alternative, ‘innocent amusements’.24 For those stationed in India, officers were urged to become acquainted with ‘the language and habits of the Native troops’.25 In an article in Colburn’s United Service Magazine published in 1851, the British philologist and orientalist Sir William Jones (1746–1794) was proposed as a model of the ideal intellectual gentleman. To inspire officers overseas, the article reproduced a transcript of a card written by Jones and published in his biography which detailed his daily leisurely pursuits: ‘Daily Studies for the Long Vacation of 1785: Morning – One letter. Ten chapters of the Bible. Sanscrit Grammar. Hindu Law, &c. Afternoon – Indian Geography. Evening – Roman History. Chess. Ariosto’.26 The same article urged an ‘occasional perusal’ of the Bible, but cautioned against excessive religious devotion as ‘w[e] should be the last to wish our officers metamorphosed into gloomy ascetics . . . nor would it be consistent with their several walks in life, that the sacred volume should be so frequently the subject of contemplation with the military man as with the ecclesiastical’.27 The institution of garrison libraries by enterprising senior officers in the early half of the century was considered a means to distract officers from the follies of gambling and excessive drinking. The garrison library at Gibraltar was established as early as 1793 and was ‘much indebted to the fostering care of the present Gen. Fyers, of the Engineers, one of its original promoters, and a librarian for many years’.28 Calls to establish further libraries were made in the early nineteenth century,29 but they were not introduced as an official policy until the tenure of Lord Hill as Commander-in-Chief of the British Army (1828–42) in the early 1840s.30 In the early nineteenth century, a number of senior members of the British military establishment also believed that those garrisoning the Empire had a unique opportunity to undertake the collection of knowledge, objects and artefacts – of other customs, cultures and the natural world – and encouraged such activities in the hope that they would deter young officers from undertaking less wholesome pursuits. It is important to see this growing interest in enlightening the officer corps in relation to wider societal developments that occurred during the period, particularly the flourishing of an associated culture dedicated to intellectual interest and activity, as demonstrated by the foundation of numerous societies whose members discussed and explored developments in fields as varied as natural history, philosophy, astronomy and zoology.31 The establishment of military museums can be understood as a result of the coalescing of these two pursuits – the growing professionalization of the British armed forces, and the widespread desire to understand and collect knowledge and material culture of the wider world; a pursuit propelled by the ever-expanding reach of the British Empire.32 As this article shows, the institution and the focus of the collections of the United Service Museum reflected a desire not just to educate officers in the specificities of their profession, but to inculcate virtuous and upstanding behaviour. The history of the establishment of the United Service Museum may now be outlined and the moral vision of its founders may be analysed. The United Service Museum The origins of the United Service Museum can be traced to a letter to the editor written by ‘An Old Egyptian Campaigner’33 and published in the United Service Journal in 1829. The author articulated his keen desire for the establishment of a museum which should be ‘conducted, and maintained, solely by the military, medical, and civil branches of the Royal Navy, the King’s Army, the Hon. East India Company’s services, and their connexions: to be called the United Service Museum’. The idea was inspired from their understanding ‘that officers in the Navy and Army have it in their power, from the frequent opportunities presented to them on service in almost every part of the known world, to contribute to the promotion of science and art, but more particularly in the department of natural history’.34 Successive issues of the journal published views in favour of the establishment of such a museum, and a number of members of both services, including ex-servicemen, concurred with the thoughts of ‘An Old Egyptian Campaigner’ by wishing for both professions to be seen as contributing to the ‘spirit of the age’ – that is, to the gathering of knowledge, objects and artefacts of other cultures and the natural world. Another letter to the editor, written by ‘A North Coaster’ warned that the military and naval professions should not, in this regard, be ‘left hull down, or at anchor’. They wrote: The arms of the two professions are long, Mr. Editor; they extend to the uttermost parts of the earth, and when properly directed, will succeed in raising a collection equal to any thing of the kind on its surface. In the department of natural history, what treasure might be amassed by our ships on foreign service, were the officers only to provide themselves with a few books and instruments, and set to work, zealously determined to bring home every object of interest that presented itself to their investigation.35 The author of the letter wished the museum to display ‘[m]inerals, petrifactions, and every variety of the most beautiful shells and insects’ which could be discovered by servicemen across the Empire. Worldwide specimens of wood ‘would be curious and interesting’ for the naval profession, ‘and a perfect collection of skulls of the various tribes of man, who have been sent into this breathing world, would in itself form an excellent Museum’.36 An even more striking point made by ‘A North Coaster’ was that the practice of collecting knowledge and material culture while overseas would be especially beneficial in fostering a certain ethic and ‘quality of mind’ in the younger members of both services: Habits of manly thought and patient investigation will be formed, producing mental enjoyment, without which mankind generally derive their chief happiness from sensual indulgence: when disengaged from professional duties, here are pursuits equally innocent and instructive; and when on shore in foreign parts, a taste for scientific research may keep them from engaging in matters of a more equivocal nature, tending little to increase their own respectability, or that of the service.37 Discussions by such early advocates reveal that the original impetus for the United Service Museum was driven by the acquisition of knowledge of natural history and anthropology, which was made possible by the stationing of members of the British armed forces throughout numerous parts of the world due to the continual expansion of the British Empire. These interests would inform the early collecting practices of the museum, and as this article shows, would not be seriously challenged until the mid- to late-1850s. Seeking patronage On 20 August 1829, Captain Thomas Henry Shadwell Clerke (1792–1849), editor of the United Service Journal personally wrote to the Duke of Wellington to request his approval and patronage of the museum. In his letter, Clerke did not elaborate upon the details of the proposed museum, but rather enclosed a copy of the issue of the journal in which the discussions that took place on its establishment were recorded.38 When no reply was received, Sir Howard Douglas, an officer of the Royal Artillery who chaired the first meeting of a provisional committee hoping to establish the museum in mid-December 1829, wrote to the duke on 1 January 1830 to reiterate the request for patronage.39 With this letter Douglas enclosed a copy of the proceedings of the meeting which outlined in greater detail the museum’s avowed purpose. The contours of the museum were beginning to take shape. Drawing upon discussions in the United Service Journal, the proceedings stated that the United Service Museum was: designed as a general Depot in London for appropriate Works of Art – Objects of Natural History – Trophies – Specimens of the Arms and Armour of every age and country – Plans and Models connected with the pursuits of the Naval and Military professions – and, in short, whatever may be classed as curious, interesting, or instructive, conformably with the peculiar design of the Institution . . .40 The proceedings highlighted the unique opportunity that members of both professions had to acquire such educational curiosities, and stated with regret that at present, the collections of military members were ‘scattered and inaccessible to the many. The proposed establishment will offer a remedy to this compulsory dispersion of the materials for a noble and highly beneficial United Museum’.41 It was also suggested that the museum should include a collection of reference books on science, art and professional subjects (including those written by members themselves), and that members would be encouraged to deliver lectures. As notices in periodicals such as the United Service Journal and the Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction reveal, in the first few years of the museum’s existence lectures were delivered on topics as diverse as ‘African Discovery’, ‘the Earth’s Magnetism’ and ‘the phenomena of thunder storms’.42 Occasionally, lectures were accompanied by experiments demonstrating scientific principles; the museum’s founders hoped that if apparatus were used in such experiments they would also be donated to the museum.43 In this and future correspondence with the duke, the notion that the United Service Museum was not a ‘club’ but rather a ‘Scientific and Professional Society’ was reiterated, along with the provisions that ‘Politics, Gambling, Eating, or Drinking’ were strictly impermissible (the first two ‘are absolutely excluded upon principle’, whereas the latter could already be experienced in existing United Service Clubs). The institution’s exclusive purpose was not only to encourage ‘the desire of useful knowledge’, but also to act as a repository for the acquisition and diffusion of such knowledge to members of the services, with the overall objective of enhancing the respectability and standing of the profession as a whole.44 Once the duke’s approval was secured,45 a general meeting was held on 25 June 1831, where resolutions for the definitive establishment of the institute were adopted. In attendance was Sir Henry Hardinge, future Commander-in-Chief (1852–6), who would introduce a number of significant reforms of the British Army, including the establishment of the Hythe School of Musketry and the Chobham exercise camp, though his innovations were overshadowed due to the sudden outbreak of the Crimean War.46 At the general meeting Hardinge emphasized the advantages of the display of models for the development of military technologies, foreshadowing the museum’s future collections policy focus: I need scarcely point your attention to the vast advantages that would accrue to the profession from having a complete and extensive Museum, in which would be chronologically arranged models showing at a view the improvements, by means of which anything now in use has been brought to its present state of perfection.47 The desire to raise the character of members of the military and naval profession through the establishment of a library and museum was also reinforced by Hardinge. Captain Beaufort of the Royal Navy too commented: ‘I confess I am sanguine enough to hope, that our Library and Museum will detach many of our friends from the club-house and the billiard table’.48 It was considered that the museum would be ‘advantageous to the general interests of the country’ and would even serve to ‘promote the best interests of the state, and to defend and support the throne’.49 Attendees at the general meeting also raised the notion that the establishment of the museum would inspire a bond and ‘brotherly affection’ between members of both services. Lieutenant-General Sir Rufane Donkin stated: I have been anticipated . . . by my Gallant Friend opposite ([Lieutenant-General] Sir R. Wilson) in one observation I had intended to make, that as institutions of this nature always have the effect of bringing members of both professions more frequently together, they are calculated to increase confidence, attachment, and friendship; and that those feelings may be ever perpetuated amongst us is my most earnest wish.50 Although the attendees did not explicitly elaborate upon the reasons for which they wished for the opportunity to strengthen connections between members of the army and navy, it is likely that this could have been the result of a perception of inter-service rivalry in light of financial retrenchments which affected both services in the immediate aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars.51 The discussions on the formation of the museum affirm that measures to reform and professionalize the British Army can certainly be traced prior to the outbreak of the Crimean War. It was not only believed that professionalism could be fostered through the display of models of military innovations of a technological nature; the collection of natural history specimens and anthropological artefacts was considered to be just as important for the cultivation of virtuous behaviour. In essence, the knowledge of the British officer during this period was to know no bounds. The development of the United Service Museum With such widespread support, the United Service Museum was officially opened in 1831 at Whitehall Court. By 1832, local committees were established in Portsmouth, Plymouth, Edinburgh, Chatham and Deal in which members were tasked ‘to promote generally the objects of this Institution’ and collect subscribers as well as the ‘specimens’ and ‘curiosities’ which could be donated to the museum.52 Five years after its foundation, the name ‘United Service Institution’ was settled upon by the council. Despite an initial growth in members, between the mid-1840s and the mid-1850s the institute struggled with rising debts and falling membership rates. In 1844, for instance, 167 Artillery officers on full pay were members; this number fell to 94 by the year 1857, while membership of all ranks of the Navy fell from 845 to 556 during the same period.53 Such a decline in support can be attributed to the institute’s lack of resources to publicize its existence to new members of the officer class; loss of life due to the Crimean War; and the stationing of recruits in remote areas and colonies, who were unable to attend or keep informed of the institute’s activities in London.54 Minutes of council proceedings during the later 1850s reveal that members were developing an awareness of the need to ‘elevate the character and confirm the stability’ of the institution.55 An important development during this period was the acquisition of an annual grant from the government. In a House of Commons debate on Army Estimates on 14 March 1856, it was conveyed by Colonel Lindsay that: The United Service Institution was, as was well known to gentlemen conversant with our military arrangements, a very useful establishment, containing as it did a valuable library and very interesting and instructive models of military works. He thought that all those who felt an interest in the prosperity of that institution must regret that it was subject to very heavy charges, which the Government might well remit. It paid a ground rent of £205 to the Crown, £96 in the shape of taxes, and £130 in the shape of rates; making a total charge of £431 annually. He trusted that the Government would take into their favourable consideration the expediency of diminishing that burden, and by that means increasing the usefulness of the Institution.56 Such sentiments were supported by Royal Navy officer and Conservative member of parliament Sir George Tyler who argued ‘that the United Service Institution was of the greatest importance to young officers, who had an opportunity of attending lectures there and acquiring scientific knowledge’, and subsequently, a £400 grant was sanctioned by Parliament.57 The council did, however, wish the institution to remain more reliant on the support of members of the naval and armed forces communities, so as not to be at the mercy of government funding, which fluctuated throughout the nineteenth century.58 The following year, the council introduced further measures to enhance the institution’s professional standing; a move that was accelerated due to a sudden decrease in local support with the departure of a substantial number of officers to India in the aftermath of the Rebellion of 1857. It is important to note, too, that council members were eager during this period to draw attention from the museum’s original collections of specimens from the natural world, to emphasizing the inter-relationship between the fields of science and technology, and the military establishment.59 This shift in emphasis is reflected through a change in the museum’s collections policies, the establishment of a journal, and a redrafting of the institution’s laws, prior to an application initiated by the council to receive a Royal Charter. In order to understand these developments, and illustrate the wider context in which they occurred, the progress of the institute’s collections policy from the museum’s inception in 1831 will now be examined. An evolving collections policy – from natural history to the science of warfare Although the museum’s primary collections were distributed in 1963 to institutions including the National Army Museum and the Scottish United Services Museum,60 travel narratives, journal articles, and guidebooks assist in revealing the objects that were donated and displayed over time. The earliest figures to donate their own private collections to the museum were Captain William Henry Smyth and Commander Henry Downes of the Royal Navy.61 Acquisitions lists published by the United Service Journal show that in the first few years of the museum’s establishment, and in concert with its original design, gifts were overwhelmingly related to the fields of natural history and anthropology, reflecting a general fascination with the world beyond Britain. Captain Frederick William Beechey (1796–1856), who published a number of narratives of his expeditions to the Arctic and the Mediterranean coast of Africa, donated in 1831, among many other items, ‘7 Esquimaux idols from Beering’s Straits’, ‘1 Turban of Gambier Islanders’, ‘2 Stone Hatchets from Pitcairn’s Island’, and ‘1 Bird-skin Dress [made] by [the] Natives of Nootka Sound’.62 In 1832, the Royal Staff Corps at Hythe donated its entire museum collection of ‘minerals and other natural curiosities’, and the Revd Frederick William Hope, a devoted entomologist, donated a small part of his extensive collection of specimens of British insects.63 With regard to the anthropological collections, in light of British involvement in numerous colonial wars throughout the nineteenth century in Africa, India and the Middle East, it is perhaps unsurprising that the museum acquired an extensive collection of non-European weapons of warfare. A rare published image of the museum’s Indian Armoury in the illustrated historical series Old and New London demonstrates the extraordinary diversity of non-European arms and armour collected by members of the British armed forces, some of which were looted in the aftermath of battle and were associated with well-known enemy commanders (Fig. 1).64 Hanging from the ceiling of the armoury was Tipu Sultan of Mysore’s steel hunting bow, while the walls on either side of the entrance to the armoury were adorned with Afghan swords and Maratha spears.65 In the glass cases were displayed various decorated daggers, as well as the ‘Bagh-nouk, or tiger-claw’, an object that was highlighted as a particular curiosity in a mid-nineteenth-century account of the museum.66 Amidst the matchlocks on display one could view ‘a curious long gun, which belonged to the King of Kandy; the stock is richly carved and curved, the barrel chased in gold’, and along the gallery walls were displayed ‘lances, spears, glaives, blowpipes for shooting poisoned arrows, shields, and daggers, taken from the Malays, Burmese, and Japanese’.67 Acquisition lists published in the museum’s journal reveal that objects of this particular nature were donated or loaned to the museum up to the very late nineteenth century.68 Fig. 1. View largeDownload slide ‘United Service Museum’, Walter Thornbury, Old and New London: A Narrative of its History, its People and its Places (London, n.d.), p. 325. Fig. 1. View largeDownload slide ‘United Service Museum’, Walter Thornbury, Old and New London: A Narrative of its History, its People and its Places (London, n.d.), p. 325. By the mid-to-late 1850s, efforts were made to establish a more targeted collections policy which moved away from the museum’s earlier focus on natural history, to objects more overtly associated with scientific developments related to the military profession.69 This re-assessment was initially inspired by a move to renovate the interior of the institute after the building was damaged by the Metropolitan Board of Works while repairing a sewer. Prior to re-painting, all of the rooms, including cellars and garrets, were cleared of their objects and displays. During this process, a Special General Meeting was called to discuss how the museum was to be re-arranged, and whether or not duplicates discovered during the renovation, and in particular, natural history specimens, should remain. With regard to the future of the department of natural history, the museum committee enlisted the advice of Colonel Portlock, who as well as being a member of the institution, sat on the Council of Military Education. He urged the department to remain, concluding that ‘a slight knowledge of Natural History opens out sources of amusement and interest to officers of foreign stations’; however, he recommended ‘a more methodical arrangement’.70 Overall, considerations of space led to a new emphasis on the educational benefits of the museum. In the aftermath of the museum’s reorganization, the objective of further professionalization was emphasized by the council. With the government grant, a journal was established in 1857, which would publish transcripts of the institute’s lectures and discussions (which had also gradually shifted focus from natural history towards issues related more closely with the military arts), proceedings of meetings, and details of new technological innovations exhibited at the museum, including maps and diagrams where necessary. The primary aim of the journal was to be ‘professional and scientific . . . useful, instructive, and interesting . . . whereby officers of various acquirements may have the opportunity of imparting their information for the benefit of their comrades’. It would also afford members serving abroad the opportunity to keep informed on the latest research, technological developments, and proceedings of the institution.71 A final development related to the council’s initiative towards professionalization was a revision of its laws. In the original laws, the ‘design’ of the institution placed the museum as its most prominent focus: ‘The United Service Institution is founded as a Central Repository for objects of Professional Art, Science, and Natural History, and for Books and Documents relating to those Studies, or of general information’.72 In the revised laws, the council wished to designate the museum as ‘a most valuable accessory’ to the institution’s broader remit of inspiring innovation – technological and intellectual – in the military arts: 1. The promotion of Naval and Military Art, Science, and Literature, is the object of the United Service Institution (originally called the Naval and Military Museum). 2. The principal means by which this object is sought to be attained are, – the formation of a Library containing Historical, Scientific, and Professional Works, Maps, Charts, and Plans; the delivery of Lectures; the exhibition of Inventions; and the publication of a Journal; a collection of Arms of all Nations; and a Museum, which shall serve as a Central Repository for objects of Professional Information, and for Trophies and Relics, &c., connected with distinguished Officers, and Naval and Military operations.73 With the removal of ‘Natural History’ from section 1 of the revised laws, at a special meeting on 16 April 1859 the council was authorized to ‘dispose of the Zoological and Botanical Specimens in the Museum in such a manner as will most benefit the interest of the Institution’.74 According to Captain E. Altham, the following year the museum’s entire natural history collection was sold for the sum of £218 6s. 8d.75 During the same meeting, members were informed of the reasons for which a Charter was sought. Alongside legal and financial considerations, the council suggested that the attainment of a Charter would assist the institution in establishing ‘a higher position among scientific societies’, and would contribute towards the enhancement of its public reputation, as well as guarantee its stability. At the expense of £203 4s. 6d, the Charter was granted by the Crown under the title of ‘The Royal United Service Institution’, a title that was proudly displayed on the façade of the building (Fig. 2).76 Fig. 2. View largeDownload slide The Descriptive Album of London (London, 1896), Plate 64. Fig. 2. View largeDownload slide The Descriptive Album of London (London, 1896), Plate 64. This developing discourse on the inter-relationship between science and the military establishment can be understood in the context of a gradual application of advances in civilian engineering to the army and navy; a process which began in earnest in the 1840s. Identifying this period as the ‘first phase of the industrialisation of war’ in Europe, William Hardy McNeill noted that private enterprise in the building of steamships and railroads immensely improved communications across Europe and the wider world, and in turn, the logistics of armed forces. Although early developments in steam technologies were initially overlooked by the Royal Navy, competition with France, and ensuing invasion scares, inspired the development of the world’s first purpose-built steam vessel for crossing the Atlantic in Britain, the ss Great Western, which was completed in 1838 by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.77 Challenges experienced during the Crimean War accelerated the adoption of automated mass production techniques for the manufacture of small arms, and civilian engineers such as William Armstrong took it upon themselves to apply their knowledge to the development of artillery. The need to further invest in technological developments was driven by public hysteria in the aftermath of the Indian Rebellion of 1857.78 In the context of this developing climate of military innovation, the remarks of Earl De Grey and Ripon at a Special General Meeting at the United Service Institution in April 1859 acquire greater salience: We have been accustomed to count chiefly upon the courage, the zeal, and the devotion of the English soldier; and those will never fail us. But it is also needful now that we should take every means to extend scientific knowledge throughout the Army . . . We live in times when science is becoming of greater value . . . [I]t is of the greatest importance that every means should be afforded, and that every encouragement should be given, to the officers of the Army to pursue military studies upon a scientific basis. Now, that I take to be the object of this Institution . . .79 This desire to strengthen links between the armed forces and new technological endeavours is also reflected in the opening of the School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering in South Kensington in 1864. As stated by the Nautical Magazine: ‘In this great maritime country and in this advanced age, and especially at the present moment of that revolution which is threatening naval architecture in the substitution of iron for wood, arising from heavy guns, there is so much for discussion, experiment, and determination . . .’80 Subsequently, Admiralty collections held in Somerset House (formerly Navy Board offices) were transferred to the South Kensington Museum to assist in the education of recruits.81 The collections were broad-ranging and included models ‘illustrating lines and forms of ships; lifeboats and life-saving equipment; boats and vessels for fighting . . . [as well as] tools, machines and machinery, figureheads, busts and carvings, drawings and paintings and miscellaneous “curiosities”.’82 The original prospectus indicates that the existing collections of the Admiralty were believed to be inadequate and it was hoped that ‘the private shipbuilders of the country will give their assistance in rendering the collection more complete’.83 The promotion of the view that museums had didactic benefits was certainly not limited to institutions showcasing the history and development of the British armed forces. As early as 1835–6 a Select Committee had been established to ‘inquire into the best means of extending a knowledge of the arts and of the principles of design among the People (especially the Manufacturing Population) of the Country’.84 The conclusions of the committee inspired the institution of the Great Exhibition of 1851 and, six years later, the opening of the South Kensington Museum, whose primary purpose was also to be ‘instructional’.85 As the changing focus of the United Service Museum sought to enhance the professionalization of the services by broadening understanding of the technical aspects of the military profession, the South Kensington Museum sought to ‘instil a culture of self-education and self-help into the artisan community’.86 While the former’s ultimate endeavour was to establish the pre-eminence of British military might and the technological innovation of the armed services, with the hope to raise their estimation in the public imagination, the latter sought to improve the standards and commercial utility of the British artisanal manufacturing industry.87 In the words of the founder of the South Kensington Museum, Henry Cole (1808–1882), it was desired for the exhibitions in the museum to ‘make the public hunger after the objects’, instigating a process of ‘supply and demand’.88 Although the United Service Museum struggled to attain the funding some commentators believed it deserved,89 a comparison of the language used to describe the museum in the early 1840s and the early 1860s reveals that public expectations of the institute’s professional standing were indeed raised. While in 1844, the Illustrated London News focused on the aesthetics of the armoury, complimenting its ‘tasteful’ arrangement, and considering its ‘glittering points of bayonets and spears of every clime and age’ to ‘produce a pleasing effect’ (Fig. 3), in 1860, a collection of European military uniforms was said by a visitor writing for The Leisure Hour to have a very practical benefit by ‘engag[ing] the attention of our Rifle Corps authorities, when the question of the most desirable material, shape, and colour for the soldier’s clothing was so much debated’.90 Major-General Sir Henry Hardinge’s vision of a museum showcasing models in a way that reflected the development of technological improvements was also coming to fruition: by 1860, a room was established which exhibited the Enfield Rifle ‘in all stages of manufacture, from specimens of the raw material to the finished rifle’.91 Fig. 3. View largeDownload slide ‘The Armoury of the United Service Institution’, Illustrated London News, 9 March 1844, p. 149. Fig. 3. View largeDownload slide ‘The Armoury of the United Service Institution’, Illustrated London News, 9 March 1844, p. 149. A call to reappraise the meaning and purpose of military museums and their collections The developments and shifts in collections policies of the United Service Museum from the early nineteenth century to the 1860s demonstrate the myriad ways in which members of the British armed forces understood their own profession during this period. While the institution of the United Service Museum was inspired by the view that the garrisoning of the British Empire provided an exceptional opportunity to collect material objects and artefacts of other cultures and the natural world, which would, in turn, foster a virtuous character in British officers, by the mid-nineteenth century the museum favoured the display and dissemination of technical expertise and the showcasing of British mastery in the art of warfare – a differently inflected educational and cultural project. The history of the development of the United Service Museum in the early to mid nineteenth century further suggests that the complexities of the role, meaning and purpose of the collections of such museums must be acknowledged. Some of the objects and artefacts deposited at the United Service Museum were looted by soldiers in the aftermath of conflict – actions which are candidly described in campaign narratives92 – and thus can be designated as ‘war trophies’, and concurrently, symbols of military dominance. Other objects were acquired due to intellectual interests and a curiosity about other cultures – what Neil MacGregor has termed, ‘the allure of the distant’93 – instead of an express desire for pillage, although it is important to acknowledge that such activities were still undertaken within the broader context of British cultural imperialism which was suffused with ideas of British cultural superiority.94 Furthermore, rather than claiming such objects to be exclusively seen as ‘spoils of war’, it is important to acknowledge their ‘polysemic’ nature,95 that is, the notion that they can acquire several – and at times contradictory – meanings as they travelled from their land of origin to repositories at the imperial metropole.96 For some members of the military establishment, the presentation of such objects at the United Service Museum may have reflected the strength of the British armed forces, and/or they may have been seen as curiosities to be admired for their unique aesthetic interest. Souvenirs and objects of an antiquarian interest collected by members of the British Army garrisoned overseas were regularly donated to the museum. For instance, Lieutenant-Colonel J.G. Robinson of the Scots Fusilier Guards donated ‘A Damascus Watered Sabre, purchased from a Mamlook, by an Officer, during the Campaign, in Egypt, in 1802’.97 For instructors, such objects may have been considered worthy of display for service members in order to gratify an intellectual fascination with how weapons of warfare differed across countries and cultures. Some of the objects displayed simply made it to the museum because they were donated by family members of departed ex-servicemen who wished to maintain a legacy for their loved ones. A touching form of remembrance was embodied in an object donated to the United Service Museum by Lieutenant W. Sayers of the 31st Regiment: ‘[a] small Branch of the Plum-tree under which Colonel Denham is buried at Sierra Leone’.98 In the Indian Armoury, the visitor to the United Service Museum could also find non-European weapons of warfare presented to English soldiers as diplomatic gifts or tokens of mutual respect. In glass cases were displayed ‘magnificent creeses, yattaghans, and daggers, from Syria and adjacent countries’. One such item was ‘set with uncut rubies and emeralds, gold mounted’, and was given to Colonel Dunlop Digby by Pratap Singh, the Rajah of Satara, ‘in gratitude for a personal rescue’ at the Battle of Ashtee undertaken during the Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817–18).99 A Damascus sabre, ‘with undulated edge, the hilt formed of rhinoceros horn, with a verse of the Koran on the blade’, given to Captain William Henry Smyth of the Royal Navy by the Pasha of Tripoli, was also displayed.100 In 1817, Smyth was granted permission by the Pasha to survey parts of the North African coast (Great Syrtis and Cyrenaica). While the British gifted the Pasha ‘four field pieces, and several cases of powder and shot’, the sword given to Smyth was said to have been blessed at Mecca.101 An elephant’s tusk could also be found on display which was presented to the British by the King of the Mpondo people ‘in token of amity and friendship’.102 The varied nature of objects and artefacts donated to repositories such as the United Service Museum further suggests that encounters between members of the armed forces and locals were, at times, collaborative and interactive.103 Conclusion The role that military museums played in the professionalization of the British armed forces has been reviewed here with a view to demonstrating that arguments for reform can be traced prior to the outbreak of the Crimean War. The process of professionalization was understood to encompass not only the improvement of the scientific and technical expertise of recruits; with regard to the institution of the United Service Museum in particular, an understanding of the natural world and the pursuit of the virtuous practice of collecting was understood to foster a quality of mind that senior military figures hoped would be embodied in their junior officers. By the late 1850s onwards, the attainment of professionalization became associated with the distribution and display of knowledge of a more practical nature, understood to be achieved through the application of advances in science and technology to the art of warfare. Through the display of objects related to the development of military science and technology, a notion of intellectual authority could be engendered, which – it was hoped – would inspire public enthusiasm and support for the armed services. In tracing the development and changes in collections policies of the United Service Museum, it is further argued here that the singular perception of the collections of military museums as storage houses for ‘spoils of war’ needs to reconsidered; such repositories held objects and artefacts whose provenance and meanings encompass the richness and complexities of inter-cultural exchanges fostered by the expansion of the British Empire and its attendant wars, as well as the particular practices for gathering material culture adopted by officers of the nineteenth-century British Army, who travelled between the imperial metropole and periphery. There were shifts of emphasis and rhetorical presentation across the period; however, the intellectual and cultural engagement of the armed forces remained an important basis of its claims to virtue and authority. Acknowledgements I would like to thank Jane Garnett and this journal’s anonymous reviewer for their insightful comments and suggestions in the development of this article. Notes and references 1 H. Strachan, The Politics of the British Army (Oxford, 1997), pp. 264–5. 2 S. H. Myerly, British Military Spectacle: From the Napoleonic Wars through the Crimea (London, 1996); ‘The Duke’s funeral’, Illustrated London News, 20 October 1852, pp. 425–6. 3 O. Anderson, ‘The growth of Christian militarism in mid-Victorian Britain’, English Historical Review 86 no. 338 (1971), pp. 46–7. 4 E. M. Spiers, The Late Victorian Army, 1868–1902 (Manchester, 1992), pp. 2–6. 5 H. Strachan, Wellington’s Legacy: The reform of the British Army, 1830–54 (Manchester, 1984), p. 25. For a contrasting perspective see: P. Burroughs, ‘An unreformed Army? 1815–1868’, in The Oxford History of the British Army, ed. D. Chandler and I. Beckett (Oxford, 1996), pp. 161–86. 6 K. E. Hendrickson, Making Saints: Religion and the public image of the British Army, 1809–1885 (London, 1998). 7 For an overview of the institution of military museums in Britain see: P. Thwaites, Presenting Arms: Museum representation of British military history, 1660–1900 (London, 1996). 8 While Thwaites provides a brief account of the museum (pp. 28–9) and D. P. O’Connor provides an institutional history in Between Peace and War: British defence and the Royal United Services Institute 1831–2010 (London, 2011), pp. 1–20, two further works exist that analyse the museum’s development within a nineteenth-century British cultural and intellectual context: M. D. Welch’s Science and the British Officer: The early days of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies (1829–1869) (London, 1998) contextualizes the museum in light of the development of British science and military thought, while N. Ramsey’s work ‘Exhibiting discipline: military science and the naval and military library and museum’, in Tracing War in British Enlightenment and Romantic Culture, ed. N. Ramsey and G. Russell (Basingstoke, 2015), pp. 111–28 focuses upon highlighting the public role of the museum, which involved ‘inviting the British nation to identify with a modern world of military prowess and technological superiority’, p. 113. In contrast to these works, this article focuses upon the moral vision of the founders of the museum and traces shifts in the museum’s collections policies. 9 Quoted in Strachan, op. cit. (note 5), p. 131. 10 Although Welch notes that the ‘acquisition of difficult higher knowledge by junior officers would, it was hoped, distract them from the more unproductive pursuits of the young men traditionally attracted to the British officer corps’, this article additionally argues that the practice of collecting was also understood to be a means by which to inculcate moral behaviour. See Welch, op. cit. (note 8), pp. 32–3. 11 A. Burton, ‘The uses of the South Kensington art collections’, Journal of the History of Collections 14 (2002), pp. 79–95. However as Burton notes, with regard to the South Kensington Museum in particular there was a ‘tension … between those for whom the usefulness of the art collections seemed of paramount importance, and those for whom its quality was a consuming passion, and who valued it for its own sake’, p. 93. 12 E. M. Spiers, The Army and Society, 1815–1914 (London, 1980), pp. 1–2. 13 Ibid., p. 103. 14 ‘On the employment of time in India’, Colburn’s United Service Magazine 1 (1851), pp. 559–68; Captain J. Blakiston, Twelve Years’ Military Adventure in Three Quarters of the Globe (London, 1829), vol. i, pp. 316–20; R. Holmes, Sahib: The British soldier in India (London, 2005), pp. 415–26. 15 [W. E. Cairnes], Social Life in the British Army (London, 1899). 16 Ibid., pp. 22–3. 17 Ibid., pp. 33–40. 18 Ibid., pp. 54–5. 19 J. Moray Brown, Shikar Sketches, with Notes on Indian Field-Sports (London, 1887). 20 See: Trevor Herbert and Helen Barlow, Music and the British Military in the Long Nineteenth Century (Oxford, 2013). 21 Captain F. B. Doveton, ‘Cantonment life in India’, Colburn’s United Service Magazine 1 (1845), p. 434, partly quoted in Herbert and Barlow, op. cit. (note 20), p. 258. 22 C. J. Napier, ‘General Order to the Officers of the Army’, 9 December 1850, The Times, 3 February 1851, p. 5. 23 Ibid. See also, Herbert and Barlow, op. cit. (note 20), pp. 256–7. 24 Lieutenant-Colonel W. H. Sleeman, Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official (London, 1844), vol. ii, pp. 429–32. 25 ‘On the employment of time in India’, op. cit. (note 14), p. 565. 26 Ibid., p. 566. 27 Ibid., pp. 567–8. 28 ‘Letter to the Editor’, United Service Journal 2 (1829), pp. 104–6. 29 S. D., ‘Regimental libraries’, Royal Military Chronicle 1 (1811), pp. 386–7. 30 M. Snape, The Redcoat and Religion (London, 2005), p. 102. 31 M. Harrison, ‘Networks of knowledge: science and medicine in early colonial India, c.1750–1820’, in India and the British Empire, ed. D. M. Peers and N. Gooptu (Oxford, 2012), p. 207; Welch, op. cit. (note 8), pp. 18–27. 32 R. D. Altick, The Shows of London (Cambridge, ma, 1978) has traced this desire for collecting wonders of the world (including religious relics, natural history specimens, historically relevant artefacts and general curiosities) from the 1600s to the mid-1850s, noting the gradual commodification and democratization of such practices, as well as the broadening of public access to such materials (from antiquaries and ‘virtuosi’ to people of all social classes) from the early eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century. 33 O’Connor suggests this letter was written by Captain William Henry Smyth, op. cit. (note 8), p. 3. 34 An Old Egyptian Campaigner, ‘To the Editor of the United Service Journal’, United Service Journal 1 (1829), p. 239. 35 A North Coaster, ‘To the Editor of the United Service Journal’, United Service Journal 1 (1830), p. 367. 36 Ibid., pp. 367–8. 37 Ibid. 38 Captain Thomas Henry Shadwell Clerke to the Duke of Wellington, Hartley Library (hl), University of Southampton, Wellington Papers (wp) 1/1094/26. 39 Sir Howard Douglas to the Duke of Wellington, 1 January 1830, hl, wp 1/1083/2. 40 ‘Memorandum’, hl, wp 1/1083/2 (unpaginated). 41 Ibid. 42 ‘Editor’s portfolio’, United Service Journal 2 (1835), p. 126; ‘Thunder-storms’, The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction 30 (London, 1838), pp. 8–10. William Snow Harris who presented the lecture on thunderstorms began by discussing and demonstrating the principles of electricity with a view to championing the use of recently invented conductors which sought to prevent lightning from causing damage to naval ships. 43 ‘Memorandum’, op. cit. (note 40). 44 Ibid. 45 Duke of Wellington to Sir Herbert Taylor, 29 March 1831, hl, wp 1/1179/30. 46 Strachan, op. cit. (note 5), pp. 42–3. 47 ‘Naval and military library and museum’, United Service Journal 2 (1831), pp. 412–13. 48 Ibid., p. 413. 49 Ibid. 50 Ibid., pp. 414–5. 51 It is conceivable that such inter-service rivalry caused particular anxiety for the Army. As Burroughs has noted: ‘Both in official strategy and in popular perceptions, its [the Army’s] position appeared secondary to that of the Senior Service [the Navy] as the front line of national defence, the foundation of Britain’s power and status, and the guarantor of trading routes throughout the world so vital to a commercial nation. These circumstances weakened the army’s capacity to command public attention and scarce resources’, op. cit. (note 5), p. 161. 52 ‘Naval and military library and museum’, United Service Journal 3 (1832), pp. 533, 561. 53 Colonel J. Lindsay, ‘Address’, Journal of the Royal United Service Institution 1 (1857), p. 5. The journal has taken on a number of names, therefore for consistency, hereafter it will be referred to as jrusi. 54 For a list of membership and visitor numbers between the years 1831–1847, see Welch, op. cit. (note 8), pp. 37–8. 55 ‘Proceedings at the twenty-seventh anniversary meeting’, jrusi 1 (1858), p. 283. 56 ‘Supply - Army Estimates’, House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, 14 March 1856, cc 192–194. 57 Ibid. 58 ‘Proceedings’, op. cit. (note 55), p. 285. As Burroughs has noted: ‘In the decades after 1815 a passion for economy raged in parliament; it affected all areas of government spending and the policies of all ministries. The army budget declined from £43 million in 1815 to £10.7 million in 1820, and to under £8 million in 1836. During the 1840s . . . the army vote rose to some £9.5 million a year, still a far cry from the costly fighting in the mid-1850s in the Crimea and India’, op. cit. (note 5), pp. 163–4. 59 This shift is also noted by Welch, op. cit. (note 8), pp. 39–42. 60 W. Reid, ‘Whatever happened to the sepoy’s skull?’, jrusi 118 (1973), p. 67; ‘Advice sought on museum exhibits’, The Times, 30 January 1962, p. 6. 61 ‘The Editor’s portfolio - United Service Museum’, United Service Journal 1 (1830), p. 100. 62 ‘Naval and military library and museum’, United Service Journal 3 (1831), p. 403. 63 ‘Naval and military library and museum’, United Service Journal 1 (1832), pp. 122, 403. 64 E. Walford, Old and New London: A narrative of its history, its people, and its places (London, 1897), vol. iii, pp. 325, 334–5. 65 Bosquecillo [D. B. Shaw], A Visit to the United Service Institution in 1849 (London, 1849), p. 7. 66 Ibid. Illustrations of various non-European arms and armour donated to the museum can be seen in E. Fraser, Greenwich Royal Hospital and the Royal United Service Museum (London, 1896), pp. 219, 224–5, 228–232. The Indian ‘tiger-claw’ is described as a ‘dagger, with rings for the fingers, worn attached to the palm of the hand’, p. 232. 67 Bosquecillo, op. cit. (note 65), p. 9. 68 See, for example, ‘Presents received for the library and museum’, jrusi 3 (1860), pp. 87–8; ‘Additions to the museum’, jrusi 22 (1879), pp. xxv-xxvi; ‘Additions to the museum’, jrusi 25 (1882), pp. xxxi-xxxii; ‘Recent additions to the museum’, jrusi 39 (1895), p. 1262. 69 ‘The Royal United Service Institution’, Illustrated London News, 9 June 1860, p. 563. 70 ‘Proceedings’, op. cit. (note 55), p. 305. 71 Ibid., pp. 288–9. 72 ‘Proceedings of the twenty-ninth anniversary meeting’, jrusi 3 (1860), p. xxiii. 73 Ibid. 74 Ibid., p. xxiv. 75 Captain E. Altham, ‘The Royal United Service Institution fifty years ago’, jrusi 90 (1945), p. 149. 76 ‘Proceedings’, op. cit. (note 72), pp. xxii, vii; The Descriptive Album of London (London, 1896), pl. 64. 77 R. A. Buchanan, Brunel: The life and times of Isambard Kingdom Brunel (London, 2006), pp. 57–9. 78 W. H. McNeill, The Pursuit of Power: Technology, armed force and society sincea.d.1000 (Chicago, 1982), pp. 223–36. 79 ‘Proceedings’, op. cit. (note 72), p. xv (emphasis added). 80 ‘Royal School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, South Kensington’, Nautical Magazine and Naval Chronicle for 1864, p. 526. 81 K. Littlewood and B. Butler, Of Ships and Stars: Maritime heritage and the founding of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich (London, 1998), p. 5. 82 Ibid., pp. 5–6. 83 ‘Royal School of Naval Architecture’, op. cit. (note 80), p. 526. 84 L. Purbrick, ‘The South Kensington Museum: The building of the House of Henry Cole’, in Art Apart: Art institutions and ideology across England and North America, ed. M. Pointon (London, 1994), p. 70. 85 T. J. Barringer and T. Flynn (eds), Colonialism and the Object: Empire, material culture and the museum (London, 1997), p. 14. 86 Ibid., p. 15. For a history of initiatives that preceded the museum’s opening, including the Great Exhibition of 1851 and the institution of the Department of Practical Art (1852, later the Department of Science and Art) and the Museum of Manufactures in Marlborough House see: Purbrick, op. cit. (note 84), pp. 69–86. 87 The tensions between aesthetic and commercial imperatives as related to the training and inspiration of the nineteenth-century British artisanal community, and the development towards a preference for innovation in marketable design patterns are traced in L. Kriegel, Grand Designs: Labor, empire, and the museum in Victorian culture (London, 2007). 88 Purbrick, op. cit. (note 84), p. 84. 89 ‘The Royal United Service Institution’, Saturday Review, 9 October 1880, pp. 453–4. 90 ‘The United Service Institution’, Illustrated London News, 9 March 1844, p. 149; ‘The Royal United Service Institution’, The Leisure Hour, 26 April 1860, p. 259. 91 ‘Naval and military library and museum’, op. cit. (note 47), p. 413; ‘The Royal United Service Institution’, op. cit. (note 69), p. 563. 92 For an example of a candid personal account of looting see J. H. Dunne, From Calcutta to Pekin: Being notes taken from the journal of an officer between those places (London, 1861), pp. 128–33. 93 N. MacGregor, ‘The Shock of the Thing’, Robert Hughes Lecture, National Gallery of Australia, 13 November 2012. 94 This is an argument encapsulated in A. E. Coombes’s evocative concept ‘temples of Empire’, in Reinventing Africa: Museums, material culture and popular imagination (New Haven, 1994), p. 109. 95 C. Wintle, Colonial Collecting and Display (New York, 2013), p. 3. 96 On the ‘biographical’ approach to objects see: I. Kopytoff, ‘The cultural biography of things: commoditization as process’, in The Social Life of Things, ed. A. Appadurai (Cambridge, 1986), pp. 64–91 and J. Hoskins, ‘Agency, biography and objects’, in Handbook of Material Culture, ed. C. Tilley, W. Keane, S. Kuechler, M. Rowlands and P. Spyer (London, 2005), pp. 74–84. 97 ‘Editor’s portfolio - presents exhibited’, United Service Journal 2 (1840), p. 564. 98 Ibid. 99 Bosquecillo, op. cit. (note 65), p. 7. This conflict led to the formal end of the Maratha Empire, the overthrow of Peshwa Baji Rao II and the restoration of the Rajah of Satara to the throne. See British and Foreign Review 8 (1839), pp. 223–4. 100 Bosquecillo, op. cit. (note 65), p. 7. 101 W. Robinson, Voyages up the Mediterranean and in the Indian Seas (London, 1837), p. 21. 102 Bosquecillo, op. cit. (note 65), p. 28. The complex relationship between the Mpondo Kingdom and the British is detailed in T. J. Stapleton, Faku: Rulership and colonialism in the Mpondo Kingdom (Waterloo, on, 2001). Although the museum account notes that this object was given by Faku to Colonel Harry Smith, Governor of the Cape Colony (1847–52), Stapleton claims that the object was given by Faku to his adviser the Wesleyan missionary Revd Jenkins ‘at the start of the 1846 War “as a token of friendly alliance to the British Government”’. Stapleton notes that Faku was conciliatory towards and protective of British missionaries and that the ‘Mpondo never entered into armed conflict with a colonial power, and only on one brief occasion in the early 1850s did his warriors serve within the colonial armies that conquered other African groups in the region’, pp. 7–8, 72. 103 Two further striking examples can be found in R. Hales, Islamic and Oriental Arms and Armour (London, 2013): a khanjarli with ivory hilt and red velvet sheath presented to General A. N. Rich by the Maharajah of Vizianagram ‘for saving his life when attacked by a wounded cheetah’ in the mid nineteenth century; and an Iranian shamshir ‘[p]resented to Lt. Col. J. D’Arcy ra and ksl, by the Shah of Persia on the defeat of the Russians at the Battle of Sultanobolt ad 1808’ during the Russo-Persian War (1804–13), pp. 2, 227. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of the History of Collections Oxford University Press

A repository of virtue?: The United Service Museum, collecting, and the professionalization of the British Armed Forces, 1829–1864

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Abstract

Abstract By examining the development of the United Service Museum (established in London in 1831) this article demonstrates how the practice of collecting knowledge and material culture during the nineteenth century was considered an important avenue through which to inculcate virtuous behaviour in officers of the British armed forces. Although the museum’s curators favoured objects that reflected the development of the ‘science of warfare’ from the mid- to late-1850s and beyond, in the first half of the nineteenth century the collection of knowledge of other cultures and the natural world was considered just as significant for the professionalization of the services. By tracing these shifts in the museum’s collections policies this article highlights the complexities of the role, meaning and purpose of military museums, and makes a call to reappraise the nature of their collections, challenging the view that they should be exclusively seen as repositories of ‘spoils of war’. Throughout the nineteenth century, the British armed forces were characterized in numerous, at times conflicting, ways. A deep ambivalence of the public towards the institution of a standing army and frank expressions of ‘militarism’ coexisted with cults of military heroes and pride in military success.1 While the redcoat was perceived to be driven by brutality and licentiousness, particularly in the early half of the nineteenth century, and officers of the regular army were regarded by some as foolish gentleman dandies, British civilians attended military spectacles in outstanding numbers, and revered figures such as the Duke of Wellington (1769–1852), especially in the aftermath of victorious battles.2 Existing scholarship has noted that British experiences during the Crimean War (1853–6) inspired a serious re-appraisal of the British Army – particularly of the nature and character of the redcoat3 – and the numerous administrative and organizational changes instituted by Edward T. Cardwell as Secretary of State for War (1868–74) have been explored in great depth.4 However, as Hew Strachan has noted, despite the existence of conservative opinion that army reform was unnecessary (due to British victory against Napoleon) and undesirable (due to the perceived repercussions of revolutionary ideas in France), developments in support of the professionalization of the British armed forces can be traced prior to this period. This particular trend can be evidenced through the proliferation of military publications during the 1830s and 1840s, which provided a platform for discussions on discipline, punishment, and the need to improve education and recreational opportunities for recruits.5 Since the publication of Strachan’s book, only a few historians have broadened the discussion, including Kenneth E. Hendrickson, who has explored the influence of religious instruction on the reform of the British Army, and has argued that the foundation for such reform can also be traced to the period prior to the outbreak of the Crimean War.6 A further development related to the reform and professionalization of the armed forces during this early period can be identified: the establishment of military museums and their associated collection of information and material culture.7 This article shows that in the early nineteenth century, members of the armed forces believed that the development of the United Service Museum (affiliated with the United Service Institution and opened in 1831)8 – would play a significant role in cultivating moral and professional values in the officer corps of the army and navy. Although some critics claimed that the early incarnation of the United Service Museum focused upon ‘things which have no more to do with the art of war and either public or professional benefit, than we have to do with Hecate or Hecuba’,9 the fact is that many members of the military establishment believed that the gathering of knowledge – of a scientific and anthropological nature – was of the utmost importance in inspiring a respectable and honourable character in young and senior officers. Furthermore, it will be demonstrated here that while senior members of the armed forces narrowly associated the process of professionalization with the development of military science and technology during the 1850s and beyond, during the first half of the century the collection of objects and artefacts of other cultures and the natural world was considered just as essential for the cultivation of virtuous behaviour.10 Significantly, this mid-nineteenth century shift towards an emphasis on the technical aspects of professionalization, and the notion that museum collections could have a practical benefit, can also be traced in the discourses surrounding the establishment of other institutions in London at the time including the South Kensington Museum (officially opened by Queen Victoria in 1857).11 Such similarities in emphasis demonstrate that the British Army was influenced by broader nineteenth-century developments in museology, illustrating an inter-relationship between military and civilian culture during this period. We may begin with a discussion of the leisure activities of members of the British armed forces, which inspired the image of the ‘soldier of vice’ in order to demonstrate why some senior military officers supported the development of more virtuous pursuits. The discussion continues by showing how the establishment of the United Service Museum was considered to be a means by which to enhance the professionalism of members of the armed forces, and outlines the development of this repository in light of its collections policies and avowed purposes. It concludes with a call to recognize the complexities of the collections of military museums, and the need to nuance the perception that such museums were simply established as storehouses for ‘spoils of war’. The pursuit of vice in a gentlemanly profession As Edward M. Spiers has noted, the ‘officer gentleman tradition’, which involved ‘requirements of dress and deportment, an emphasis on honour and integrity, and a conformity with the manners and etiquette of polite society’ was seen as a vital element of the British Army throughout the nineteenth century. During the early part of this period, professionalism was chiefly associated with possession of a gentlemanly character, which was, in turn, deemed essential in maintaining regimental esprit de corps.12 Faith in the gentlemanly tradition of the officer corps underpinned the purchase system of promotions. It was argued that the promotion of non-commissioned officers caused disaffection amongst the rank-and-file who harboured resentment against those acting through personal ambition. It was also believed by some senior military figures that an officer could only be a true gentleman by birth and education, which fostered an inherent understanding of gallant and courageous behaviour.13 Expectations of gentlemanly behaviour influenced the ways in which officers engaged in leisurely pursuits. However, while some officers espoused modest and honourable traits, first-hand accounts of mess-extravagance, gambling, drinking and seduction can also be found, especially in narratives of the lives of those garrisoning the Empire overseas.14 In a book published in the late nineteenth century, the Irish officer William Elliot Cairnes provided an exceedingly sympathetic glimpse into the social life of members of the British Army.15 Young Guardsmen attended racing clubs, undertook high-stakes card-playing (although Cairnes reassured his readers that this was ‘fortunately confined to a limited number, and is discountenanced as much as possible by the senior officers of the brigade’), and fox-hunting.16 The social life of cavalry officers varied with regard to the station in which they were quartered as well as the regiment to which they belonged, yet they often passed the time with inter-regimental polo tournaments, cricket, and betting on horses (‘which, alas, every year claims a toll – though, happily, yearly a decreasing one’).17 Hunting was especially encouraged amongst members of the cavalry stationed in India as an opportunity to advance their practical skills in horsemanship. While the cavalry were socially more privileged, similar pursuits were engaged in by the infantry officers, though on a scale of lower means.18 Narrative accounts published by officers of their own hunting exploits, which were often illustrated with evocative engravings of adventurous pursuits in the field, were also seen as an opportunity to inspire virtuous behaviour. In the introduction to Shikar Sketches, Lieutenant James Moray Brown of the 79th Cameron Highlanders explained: If the perusal of these pages should prove the means of whiling away an idle hour, one of the writer’s objects will have been attained; and if further it should induce younger men to devote their superfluous energies to excelling in the sports of the field, and acquiring some knowledge of Natural History, instead of wasting time, money, and health in vice and frivolity, these pages, if they do no other good, will not have been written quite in vain.19 Officers stationed in imperial garrisons such as India found themselves with greater leisure time due to excessively hot weather conditions and the habit of acquiring ‘soldier-servants’ (and in Bengal, a khitmutgar, or ‘mess waiter’). Social activities too included game hunting, polo tournaments, gambling, and racing, as well as attending balls, concerts and theatrical displays performed by both officers and privates.20 As Captain F. B. Doveton reminisced in the 1840s, The ennui resulting from confinement to quarters and want of occupation is in India excessive, and whilst it drives the private to the regimental canteen in order to get through the day and his spare cash at the same time, his officer is too often induced from the same cause to seek for amusement at the card or billiard table, where in the East gambling is often carried on to a considerable extent.21 Upon his resignation as Commander-in-Chief in India, on 9 December 1850, General Sir Charles Napier (1782–1853) issued a General Order in which he severely criticized the excesses of officers in the British Indian Army: An officer who is summoned before a Court of Requests [for debt] must feel conscious that, although wearing the British uniform, he is not standing there in the character of a gentleman! He must feel, if he feels at all, disgust at his own degraded position. He may, by possibility, have been unfortunate; he may only have been thoughtless, but must feel in his heart that he is before the public, in a group with the infamous, – with those who are cheats, and whose society is contamination. A well-bred gentleman cannot support this feeling.22 Napier provided a number of reasons as to why debts could be so easily fallen into, including the attainment of a commission without a proper understanding that ‘honesty is inseparable from the character of a thoroughbred gentleman’; the false notion that ‘it is manly to be dishonourable’; the continuous marching of regiments; the toleration of mess extravagance by some regimental commanding officers; and the ease with which officers could borrow money through the banking system. Ultimately, Napier believed that the wish to emulate senior officers who possessed a higher income, while disregarding private means was ‘mischievous to all, and most so to young men’.23 Growing concerns over the proliferation of ‘licentious habits’ led some commentators to suggest alternative, ‘innocent amusements’.24 For those stationed in India, officers were urged to become acquainted with ‘the language and habits of the Native troops’.25 In an article in Colburn’s United Service Magazine published in 1851, the British philologist and orientalist Sir William Jones (1746–1794) was proposed as a model of the ideal intellectual gentleman. To inspire officers overseas, the article reproduced a transcript of a card written by Jones and published in his biography which detailed his daily leisurely pursuits: ‘Daily Studies for the Long Vacation of 1785: Morning – One letter. Ten chapters of the Bible. Sanscrit Grammar. Hindu Law, &c. Afternoon – Indian Geography. Evening – Roman History. Chess. Ariosto’.26 The same article urged an ‘occasional perusal’ of the Bible, but cautioned against excessive religious devotion as ‘w[e] should be the last to wish our officers metamorphosed into gloomy ascetics . . . nor would it be consistent with their several walks in life, that the sacred volume should be so frequently the subject of contemplation with the military man as with the ecclesiastical’.27 The institution of garrison libraries by enterprising senior officers in the early half of the century was considered a means to distract officers from the follies of gambling and excessive drinking. The garrison library at Gibraltar was established as early as 1793 and was ‘much indebted to the fostering care of the present Gen. Fyers, of the Engineers, one of its original promoters, and a librarian for many years’.28 Calls to establish further libraries were made in the early nineteenth century,29 but they were not introduced as an official policy until the tenure of Lord Hill as Commander-in-Chief of the British Army (1828–42) in the early 1840s.30 In the early nineteenth century, a number of senior members of the British military establishment also believed that those garrisoning the Empire had a unique opportunity to undertake the collection of knowledge, objects and artefacts – of other customs, cultures and the natural world – and encouraged such activities in the hope that they would deter young officers from undertaking less wholesome pursuits. It is important to see this growing interest in enlightening the officer corps in relation to wider societal developments that occurred during the period, particularly the flourishing of an associated culture dedicated to intellectual interest and activity, as demonstrated by the foundation of numerous societies whose members discussed and explored developments in fields as varied as natural history, philosophy, astronomy and zoology.31 The establishment of military museums can be understood as a result of the coalescing of these two pursuits – the growing professionalization of the British armed forces, and the widespread desire to understand and collect knowledge and material culture of the wider world; a pursuit propelled by the ever-expanding reach of the British Empire.32 As this article shows, the institution and the focus of the collections of the United Service Museum reflected a desire not just to educate officers in the specificities of their profession, but to inculcate virtuous and upstanding behaviour. The history of the establishment of the United Service Museum may now be outlined and the moral vision of its founders may be analysed. The United Service Museum The origins of the United Service Museum can be traced to a letter to the editor written by ‘An Old Egyptian Campaigner’33 and published in the United Service Journal in 1829. The author articulated his keen desire for the establishment of a museum which should be ‘conducted, and maintained, solely by the military, medical, and civil branches of the Royal Navy, the King’s Army, the Hon. East India Company’s services, and their connexions: to be called the United Service Museum’. The idea was inspired from their understanding ‘that officers in the Navy and Army have it in their power, from the frequent opportunities presented to them on service in almost every part of the known world, to contribute to the promotion of science and art, but more particularly in the department of natural history’.34 Successive issues of the journal published views in favour of the establishment of such a museum, and a number of members of both services, including ex-servicemen, concurred with the thoughts of ‘An Old Egyptian Campaigner’ by wishing for both professions to be seen as contributing to the ‘spirit of the age’ – that is, to the gathering of knowledge, objects and artefacts of other cultures and the natural world. Another letter to the editor, written by ‘A North Coaster’ warned that the military and naval professions should not, in this regard, be ‘left hull down, or at anchor’. They wrote: The arms of the two professions are long, Mr. Editor; they extend to the uttermost parts of the earth, and when properly directed, will succeed in raising a collection equal to any thing of the kind on its surface. In the department of natural history, what treasure might be amassed by our ships on foreign service, were the officers only to provide themselves with a few books and instruments, and set to work, zealously determined to bring home every object of interest that presented itself to their investigation.35 The author of the letter wished the museum to display ‘[m]inerals, petrifactions, and every variety of the most beautiful shells and insects’ which could be discovered by servicemen across the Empire. Worldwide specimens of wood ‘would be curious and interesting’ for the naval profession, ‘and a perfect collection of skulls of the various tribes of man, who have been sent into this breathing world, would in itself form an excellent Museum’.36 An even more striking point made by ‘A North Coaster’ was that the practice of collecting knowledge and material culture while overseas would be especially beneficial in fostering a certain ethic and ‘quality of mind’ in the younger members of both services: Habits of manly thought and patient investigation will be formed, producing mental enjoyment, without which mankind generally derive their chief happiness from sensual indulgence: when disengaged from professional duties, here are pursuits equally innocent and instructive; and when on shore in foreign parts, a taste for scientific research may keep them from engaging in matters of a more equivocal nature, tending little to increase their own respectability, or that of the service.37 Discussions by such early advocates reveal that the original impetus for the United Service Museum was driven by the acquisition of knowledge of natural history and anthropology, which was made possible by the stationing of members of the British armed forces throughout numerous parts of the world due to the continual expansion of the British Empire. These interests would inform the early collecting practices of the museum, and as this article shows, would not be seriously challenged until the mid- to late-1850s. Seeking patronage On 20 August 1829, Captain Thomas Henry Shadwell Clerke (1792–1849), editor of the United Service Journal personally wrote to the Duke of Wellington to request his approval and patronage of the museum. In his letter, Clerke did not elaborate upon the details of the proposed museum, but rather enclosed a copy of the issue of the journal in which the discussions that took place on its establishment were recorded.38 When no reply was received, Sir Howard Douglas, an officer of the Royal Artillery who chaired the first meeting of a provisional committee hoping to establish the museum in mid-December 1829, wrote to the duke on 1 January 1830 to reiterate the request for patronage.39 With this letter Douglas enclosed a copy of the proceedings of the meeting which outlined in greater detail the museum’s avowed purpose. The contours of the museum were beginning to take shape. Drawing upon discussions in the United Service Journal, the proceedings stated that the United Service Museum was: designed as a general Depot in London for appropriate Works of Art – Objects of Natural History – Trophies – Specimens of the Arms and Armour of every age and country – Plans and Models connected with the pursuits of the Naval and Military professions – and, in short, whatever may be classed as curious, interesting, or instructive, conformably with the peculiar design of the Institution . . .40 The proceedings highlighted the unique opportunity that members of both professions had to acquire such educational curiosities, and stated with regret that at present, the collections of military members were ‘scattered and inaccessible to the many. The proposed establishment will offer a remedy to this compulsory dispersion of the materials for a noble and highly beneficial United Museum’.41 It was also suggested that the museum should include a collection of reference books on science, art and professional subjects (including those written by members themselves), and that members would be encouraged to deliver lectures. As notices in periodicals such as the United Service Journal and the Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction reveal, in the first few years of the museum’s existence lectures were delivered on topics as diverse as ‘African Discovery’, ‘the Earth’s Magnetism’ and ‘the phenomena of thunder storms’.42 Occasionally, lectures were accompanied by experiments demonstrating scientific principles; the museum’s founders hoped that if apparatus were used in such experiments they would also be donated to the museum.43 In this and future correspondence with the duke, the notion that the United Service Museum was not a ‘club’ but rather a ‘Scientific and Professional Society’ was reiterated, along with the provisions that ‘Politics, Gambling, Eating, or Drinking’ were strictly impermissible (the first two ‘are absolutely excluded upon principle’, whereas the latter could already be experienced in existing United Service Clubs). The institution’s exclusive purpose was not only to encourage ‘the desire of useful knowledge’, but also to act as a repository for the acquisition and diffusion of such knowledge to members of the services, with the overall objective of enhancing the respectability and standing of the profession as a whole.44 Once the duke’s approval was secured,45 a general meeting was held on 25 June 1831, where resolutions for the definitive establishment of the institute were adopted. In attendance was Sir Henry Hardinge, future Commander-in-Chief (1852–6), who would introduce a number of significant reforms of the British Army, including the establishment of the Hythe School of Musketry and the Chobham exercise camp, though his innovations were overshadowed due to the sudden outbreak of the Crimean War.46 At the general meeting Hardinge emphasized the advantages of the display of models for the development of military technologies, foreshadowing the museum’s future collections policy focus: I need scarcely point your attention to the vast advantages that would accrue to the profession from having a complete and extensive Museum, in which would be chronologically arranged models showing at a view the improvements, by means of which anything now in use has been brought to its present state of perfection.47 The desire to raise the character of members of the military and naval profession through the establishment of a library and museum was also reinforced by Hardinge. Captain Beaufort of the Royal Navy too commented: ‘I confess I am sanguine enough to hope, that our Library and Museum will detach many of our friends from the club-house and the billiard table’.48 It was considered that the museum would be ‘advantageous to the general interests of the country’ and would even serve to ‘promote the best interests of the state, and to defend and support the throne’.49 Attendees at the general meeting also raised the notion that the establishment of the museum would inspire a bond and ‘brotherly affection’ between members of both services. Lieutenant-General Sir Rufane Donkin stated: I have been anticipated . . . by my Gallant Friend opposite ([Lieutenant-General] Sir R. Wilson) in one observation I had intended to make, that as institutions of this nature always have the effect of bringing members of both professions more frequently together, they are calculated to increase confidence, attachment, and friendship; and that those feelings may be ever perpetuated amongst us is my most earnest wish.50 Although the attendees did not explicitly elaborate upon the reasons for which they wished for the opportunity to strengthen connections between members of the army and navy, it is likely that this could have been the result of a perception of inter-service rivalry in light of financial retrenchments which affected both services in the immediate aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars.51 The discussions on the formation of the museum affirm that measures to reform and professionalize the British Army can certainly be traced prior to the outbreak of the Crimean War. It was not only believed that professionalism could be fostered through the display of models of military innovations of a technological nature; the collection of natural history specimens and anthropological artefacts was considered to be just as important for the cultivation of virtuous behaviour. In essence, the knowledge of the British officer during this period was to know no bounds. The development of the United Service Museum With such widespread support, the United Service Museum was officially opened in 1831 at Whitehall Court. By 1832, local committees were established in Portsmouth, Plymouth, Edinburgh, Chatham and Deal in which members were tasked ‘to promote generally the objects of this Institution’ and collect subscribers as well as the ‘specimens’ and ‘curiosities’ which could be donated to the museum.52 Five years after its foundation, the name ‘United Service Institution’ was settled upon by the council. Despite an initial growth in members, between the mid-1840s and the mid-1850s the institute struggled with rising debts and falling membership rates. In 1844, for instance, 167 Artillery officers on full pay were members; this number fell to 94 by the year 1857, while membership of all ranks of the Navy fell from 845 to 556 during the same period.53 Such a decline in support can be attributed to the institute’s lack of resources to publicize its existence to new members of the officer class; loss of life due to the Crimean War; and the stationing of recruits in remote areas and colonies, who were unable to attend or keep informed of the institute’s activities in London.54 Minutes of council proceedings during the later 1850s reveal that members were developing an awareness of the need to ‘elevate the character and confirm the stability’ of the institution.55 An important development during this period was the acquisition of an annual grant from the government. In a House of Commons debate on Army Estimates on 14 March 1856, it was conveyed by Colonel Lindsay that: The United Service Institution was, as was well known to gentlemen conversant with our military arrangements, a very useful establishment, containing as it did a valuable library and very interesting and instructive models of military works. He thought that all those who felt an interest in the prosperity of that institution must regret that it was subject to very heavy charges, which the Government might well remit. It paid a ground rent of £205 to the Crown, £96 in the shape of taxes, and £130 in the shape of rates; making a total charge of £431 annually. He trusted that the Government would take into their favourable consideration the expediency of diminishing that burden, and by that means increasing the usefulness of the Institution.56 Such sentiments were supported by Royal Navy officer and Conservative member of parliament Sir George Tyler who argued ‘that the United Service Institution was of the greatest importance to young officers, who had an opportunity of attending lectures there and acquiring scientific knowledge’, and subsequently, a £400 grant was sanctioned by Parliament.57 The council did, however, wish the institution to remain more reliant on the support of members of the naval and armed forces communities, so as not to be at the mercy of government funding, which fluctuated throughout the nineteenth century.58 The following year, the council introduced further measures to enhance the institution’s professional standing; a move that was accelerated due to a sudden decrease in local support with the departure of a substantial number of officers to India in the aftermath of the Rebellion of 1857. It is important to note, too, that council members were eager during this period to draw attention from the museum’s original collections of specimens from the natural world, to emphasizing the inter-relationship between the fields of science and technology, and the military establishment.59 This shift in emphasis is reflected through a change in the museum’s collections policies, the establishment of a journal, and a redrafting of the institution’s laws, prior to an application initiated by the council to receive a Royal Charter. In order to understand these developments, and illustrate the wider context in which they occurred, the progress of the institute’s collections policy from the museum’s inception in 1831 will now be examined. An evolving collections policy – from natural history to the science of warfare Although the museum’s primary collections were distributed in 1963 to institutions including the National Army Museum and the Scottish United Services Museum,60 travel narratives, journal articles, and guidebooks assist in revealing the objects that were donated and displayed over time. The earliest figures to donate their own private collections to the museum were Captain William Henry Smyth and Commander Henry Downes of the Royal Navy.61 Acquisitions lists published by the United Service Journal show that in the first few years of the museum’s establishment, and in concert with its original design, gifts were overwhelmingly related to the fields of natural history and anthropology, reflecting a general fascination with the world beyond Britain. Captain Frederick William Beechey (1796–1856), who published a number of narratives of his expeditions to the Arctic and the Mediterranean coast of Africa, donated in 1831, among many other items, ‘7 Esquimaux idols from Beering’s Straits’, ‘1 Turban of Gambier Islanders’, ‘2 Stone Hatchets from Pitcairn’s Island’, and ‘1 Bird-skin Dress [made] by [the] Natives of Nootka Sound’.62 In 1832, the Royal Staff Corps at Hythe donated its entire museum collection of ‘minerals and other natural curiosities’, and the Revd Frederick William Hope, a devoted entomologist, donated a small part of his extensive collection of specimens of British insects.63 With regard to the anthropological collections, in light of British involvement in numerous colonial wars throughout the nineteenth century in Africa, India and the Middle East, it is perhaps unsurprising that the museum acquired an extensive collection of non-European weapons of warfare. A rare published image of the museum’s Indian Armoury in the illustrated historical series Old and New London demonstrates the extraordinary diversity of non-European arms and armour collected by members of the British armed forces, some of which were looted in the aftermath of battle and were associated with well-known enemy commanders (Fig. 1).64 Hanging from the ceiling of the armoury was Tipu Sultan of Mysore’s steel hunting bow, while the walls on either side of the entrance to the armoury were adorned with Afghan swords and Maratha spears.65 In the glass cases were displayed various decorated daggers, as well as the ‘Bagh-nouk, or tiger-claw’, an object that was highlighted as a particular curiosity in a mid-nineteenth-century account of the museum.66 Amidst the matchlocks on display one could view ‘a curious long gun, which belonged to the King of Kandy; the stock is richly carved and curved, the barrel chased in gold’, and along the gallery walls were displayed ‘lances, spears, glaives, blowpipes for shooting poisoned arrows, shields, and daggers, taken from the Malays, Burmese, and Japanese’.67 Acquisition lists published in the museum’s journal reveal that objects of this particular nature were donated or loaned to the museum up to the very late nineteenth century.68 Fig. 1. View largeDownload slide ‘United Service Museum’, Walter Thornbury, Old and New London: A Narrative of its History, its People and its Places (London, n.d.), p. 325. Fig. 1. View largeDownload slide ‘United Service Museum’, Walter Thornbury, Old and New London: A Narrative of its History, its People and its Places (London, n.d.), p. 325. By the mid-to-late 1850s, efforts were made to establish a more targeted collections policy which moved away from the museum’s earlier focus on natural history, to objects more overtly associated with scientific developments related to the military profession.69 This re-assessment was initially inspired by a move to renovate the interior of the institute after the building was damaged by the Metropolitan Board of Works while repairing a sewer. Prior to re-painting, all of the rooms, including cellars and garrets, were cleared of their objects and displays. During this process, a Special General Meeting was called to discuss how the museum was to be re-arranged, and whether or not duplicates discovered during the renovation, and in particular, natural history specimens, should remain. With regard to the future of the department of natural history, the museum committee enlisted the advice of Colonel Portlock, who as well as being a member of the institution, sat on the Council of Military Education. He urged the department to remain, concluding that ‘a slight knowledge of Natural History opens out sources of amusement and interest to officers of foreign stations’; however, he recommended ‘a more methodical arrangement’.70 Overall, considerations of space led to a new emphasis on the educational benefits of the museum. In the aftermath of the museum’s reorganization, the objective of further professionalization was emphasized by the council. With the government grant, a journal was established in 1857, which would publish transcripts of the institute’s lectures and discussions (which had also gradually shifted focus from natural history towards issues related more closely with the military arts), proceedings of meetings, and details of new technological innovations exhibited at the museum, including maps and diagrams where necessary. The primary aim of the journal was to be ‘professional and scientific . . . useful, instructive, and interesting . . . whereby officers of various acquirements may have the opportunity of imparting their information for the benefit of their comrades’. It would also afford members serving abroad the opportunity to keep informed on the latest research, technological developments, and proceedings of the institution.71 A final development related to the council’s initiative towards professionalization was a revision of its laws. In the original laws, the ‘design’ of the institution placed the museum as its most prominent focus: ‘The United Service Institution is founded as a Central Repository for objects of Professional Art, Science, and Natural History, and for Books and Documents relating to those Studies, or of general information’.72 In the revised laws, the council wished to designate the museum as ‘a most valuable accessory’ to the institution’s broader remit of inspiring innovation – technological and intellectual – in the military arts: 1. The promotion of Naval and Military Art, Science, and Literature, is the object of the United Service Institution (originally called the Naval and Military Museum). 2. The principal means by which this object is sought to be attained are, – the formation of a Library containing Historical, Scientific, and Professional Works, Maps, Charts, and Plans; the delivery of Lectures; the exhibition of Inventions; and the publication of a Journal; a collection of Arms of all Nations; and a Museum, which shall serve as a Central Repository for objects of Professional Information, and for Trophies and Relics, &c., connected with distinguished Officers, and Naval and Military operations.73 With the removal of ‘Natural History’ from section 1 of the revised laws, at a special meeting on 16 April 1859 the council was authorized to ‘dispose of the Zoological and Botanical Specimens in the Museum in such a manner as will most benefit the interest of the Institution’.74 According to Captain E. Altham, the following year the museum’s entire natural history collection was sold for the sum of £218 6s. 8d.75 During the same meeting, members were informed of the reasons for which a Charter was sought. Alongside legal and financial considerations, the council suggested that the attainment of a Charter would assist the institution in establishing ‘a higher position among scientific societies’, and would contribute towards the enhancement of its public reputation, as well as guarantee its stability. At the expense of £203 4s. 6d, the Charter was granted by the Crown under the title of ‘The Royal United Service Institution’, a title that was proudly displayed on the façade of the building (Fig. 2).76 Fig. 2. View largeDownload slide The Descriptive Album of London (London, 1896), Plate 64. Fig. 2. View largeDownload slide The Descriptive Album of London (London, 1896), Plate 64. This developing discourse on the inter-relationship between science and the military establishment can be understood in the context of a gradual application of advances in civilian engineering to the army and navy; a process which began in earnest in the 1840s. Identifying this period as the ‘first phase of the industrialisation of war’ in Europe, William Hardy McNeill noted that private enterprise in the building of steamships and railroads immensely improved communications across Europe and the wider world, and in turn, the logistics of armed forces. Although early developments in steam technologies were initially overlooked by the Royal Navy, competition with France, and ensuing invasion scares, inspired the development of the world’s first purpose-built steam vessel for crossing the Atlantic in Britain, the ss Great Western, which was completed in 1838 by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.77 Challenges experienced during the Crimean War accelerated the adoption of automated mass production techniques for the manufacture of small arms, and civilian engineers such as William Armstrong took it upon themselves to apply their knowledge to the development of artillery. The need to further invest in technological developments was driven by public hysteria in the aftermath of the Indian Rebellion of 1857.78 In the context of this developing climate of military innovation, the remarks of Earl De Grey and Ripon at a Special General Meeting at the United Service Institution in April 1859 acquire greater salience: We have been accustomed to count chiefly upon the courage, the zeal, and the devotion of the English soldier; and those will never fail us. But it is also needful now that we should take every means to extend scientific knowledge throughout the Army . . . We live in times when science is becoming of greater value . . . [I]t is of the greatest importance that every means should be afforded, and that every encouragement should be given, to the officers of the Army to pursue military studies upon a scientific basis. Now, that I take to be the object of this Institution . . .79 This desire to strengthen links between the armed forces and new technological endeavours is also reflected in the opening of the School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering in South Kensington in 1864. As stated by the Nautical Magazine: ‘In this great maritime country and in this advanced age, and especially at the present moment of that revolution which is threatening naval architecture in the substitution of iron for wood, arising from heavy guns, there is so much for discussion, experiment, and determination . . .’80 Subsequently, Admiralty collections held in Somerset House (formerly Navy Board offices) were transferred to the South Kensington Museum to assist in the education of recruits.81 The collections were broad-ranging and included models ‘illustrating lines and forms of ships; lifeboats and life-saving equipment; boats and vessels for fighting . . . [as well as] tools, machines and machinery, figureheads, busts and carvings, drawings and paintings and miscellaneous “curiosities”.’82 The original prospectus indicates that the existing collections of the Admiralty were believed to be inadequate and it was hoped that ‘the private shipbuilders of the country will give their assistance in rendering the collection more complete’.83 The promotion of the view that museums had didactic benefits was certainly not limited to institutions showcasing the history and development of the British armed forces. As early as 1835–6 a Select Committee had been established to ‘inquire into the best means of extending a knowledge of the arts and of the principles of design among the People (especially the Manufacturing Population) of the Country’.84 The conclusions of the committee inspired the institution of the Great Exhibition of 1851 and, six years later, the opening of the South Kensington Museum, whose primary purpose was also to be ‘instructional’.85 As the changing focus of the United Service Museum sought to enhance the professionalization of the services by broadening understanding of the technical aspects of the military profession, the South Kensington Museum sought to ‘instil a culture of self-education and self-help into the artisan community’.86 While the former’s ultimate endeavour was to establish the pre-eminence of British military might and the technological innovation of the armed services, with the hope to raise their estimation in the public imagination, the latter sought to improve the standards and commercial utility of the British artisanal manufacturing industry.87 In the words of the founder of the South Kensington Museum, Henry Cole (1808–1882), it was desired for the exhibitions in the museum to ‘make the public hunger after the objects’, instigating a process of ‘supply and demand’.88 Although the United Service Museum struggled to attain the funding some commentators believed it deserved,89 a comparison of the language used to describe the museum in the early 1840s and the early 1860s reveals that public expectations of the institute’s professional standing were indeed raised. While in 1844, the Illustrated London News focused on the aesthetics of the armoury, complimenting its ‘tasteful’ arrangement, and considering its ‘glittering points of bayonets and spears of every clime and age’ to ‘produce a pleasing effect’ (Fig. 3), in 1860, a collection of European military uniforms was said by a visitor writing for The Leisure Hour to have a very practical benefit by ‘engag[ing] the attention of our Rifle Corps authorities, when the question of the most desirable material, shape, and colour for the soldier’s clothing was so much debated’.90 Major-General Sir Henry Hardinge’s vision of a museum showcasing models in a way that reflected the development of technological improvements was also coming to fruition: by 1860, a room was established which exhibited the Enfield Rifle ‘in all stages of manufacture, from specimens of the raw material to the finished rifle’.91 Fig. 3. View largeDownload slide ‘The Armoury of the United Service Institution’, Illustrated London News, 9 March 1844, p. 149. Fig. 3. View largeDownload slide ‘The Armoury of the United Service Institution’, Illustrated London News, 9 March 1844, p. 149. A call to reappraise the meaning and purpose of military museums and their collections The developments and shifts in collections policies of the United Service Museum from the early nineteenth century to the 1860s demonstrate the myriad ways in which members of the British armed forces understood their own profession during this period. While the institution of the United Service Museum was inspired by the view that the garrisoning of the British Empire provided an exceptional opportunity to collect material objects and artefacts of other cultures and the natural world, which would, in turn, foster a virtuous character in British officers, by the mid-nineteenth century the museum favoured the display and dissemination of technical expertise and the showcasing of British mastery in the art of warfare – a differently inflected educational and cultural project. The history of the development of the United Service Museum in the early to mid nineteenth century further suggests that the complexities of the role, meaning and purpose of the collections of such museums must be acknowledged. Some of the objects and artefacts deposited at the United Service Museum were looted by soldiers in the aftermath of conflict – actions which are candidly described in campaign narratives92 – and thus can be designated as ‘war trophies’, and concurrently, symbols of military dominance. Other objects were acquired due to intellectual interests and a curiosity about other cultures – what Neil MacGregor has termed, ‘the allure of the distant’93 – instead of an express desire for pillage, although it is important to acknowledge that such activities were still undertaken within the broader context of British cultural imperialism which was suffused with ideas of British cultural superiority.94 Furthermore, rather than claiming such objects to be exclusively seen as ‘spoils of war’, it is important to acknowledge their ‘polysemic’ nature,95 that is, the notion that they can acquire several – and at times contradictory – meanings as they travelled from their land of origin to repositories at the imperial metropole.96 For some members of the military establishment, the presentation of such objects at the United Service Museum may have reflected the strength of the British armed forces, and/or they may have been seen as curiosities to be admired for their unique aesthetic interest. Souvenirs and objects of an antiquarian interest collected by members of the British Army garrisoned overseas were regularly donated to the museum. For instance, Lieutenant-Colonel J.G. Robinson of the Scots Fusilier Guards donated ‘A Damascus Watered Sabre, purchased from a Mamlook, by an Officer, during the Campaign, in Egypt, in 1802’.97 For instructors, such objects may have been considered worthy of display for service members in order to gratify an intellectual fascination with how weapons of warfare differed across countries and cultures. Some of the objects displayed simply made it to the museum because they were donated by family members of departed ex-servicemen who wished to maintain a legacy for their loved ones. A touching form of remembrance was embodied in an object donated to the United Service Museum by Lieutenant W. Sayers of the 31st Regiment: ‘[a] small Branch of the Plum-tree under which Colonel Denham is buried at Sierra Leone’.98 In the Indian Armoury, the visitor to the United Service Museum could also find non-European weapons of warfare presented to English soldiers as diplomatic gifts or tokens of mutual respect. In glass cases were displayed ‘magnificent creeses, yattaghans, and daggers, from Syria and adjacent countries’. One such item was ‘set with uncut rubies and emeralds, gold mounted’, and was given to Colonel Dunlop Digby by Pratap Singh, the Rajah of Satara, ‘in gratitude for a personal rescue’ at the Battle of Ashtee undertaken during the Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817–18).99 A Damascus sabre, ‘with undulated edge, the hilt formed of rhinoceros horn, with a verse of the Koran on the blade’, given to Captain William Henry Smyth of the Royal Navy by the Pasha of Tripoli, was also displayed.100 In 1817, Smyth was granted permission by the Pasha to survey parts of the North African coast (Great Syrtis and Cyrenaica). While the British gifted the Pasha ‘four field pieces, and several cases of powder and shot’, the sword given to Smyth was said to have been blessed at Mecca.101 An elephant’s tusk could also be found on display which was presented to the British by the King of the Mpondo people ‘in token of amity and friendship’.102 The varied nature of objects and artefacts donated to repositories such as the United Service Museum further suggests that encounters between members of the armed forces and locals were, at times, collaborative and interactive.103 Conclusion The role that military museums played in the professionalization of the British armed forces has been reviewed here with a view to demonstrating that arguments for reform can be traced prior to the outbreak of the Crimean War. The process of professionalization was understood to encompass not only the improvement of the scientific and technical expertise of recruits; with regard to the institution of the United Service Museum in particular, an understanding of the natural world and the pursuit of the virtuous practice of collecting was understood to foster a quality of mind that senior military figures hoped would be embodied in their junior officers. By the late 1850s onwards, the attainment of professionalization became associated with the distribution and display of knowledge of a more practical nature, understood to be achieved through the application of advances in science and technology to the art of warfare. Through the display of objects related to the development of military science and technology, a notion of intellectual authority could be engendered, which – it was hoped – would inspire public enthusiasm and support for the armed services. In tracing the development and changes in collections policies of the United Service Museum, it is further argued here that the singular perception of the collections of military museums as storage houses for ‘spoils of war’ needs to reconsidered; such repositories held objects and artefacts whose provenance and meanings encompass the richness and complexities of inter-cultural exchanges fostered by the expansion of the British Empire and its attendant wars, as well as the particular practices for gathering material culture adopted by officers of the nineteenth-century British Army, who travelled between the imperial metropole and periphery. There were shifts of emphasis and rhetorical presentation across the period; however, the intellectual and cultural engagement of the armed forces remained an important basis of its claims to virtue and authority. Acknowledgements I would like to thank Jane Garnett and this journal’s anonymous reviewer for their insightful comments and suggestions in the development of this article. Notes and references 1 H. Strachan, The Politics of the British Army (Oxford, 1997), pp. 264–5. 2 S. H. Myerly, British Military Spectacle: From the Napoleonic Wars through the Crimea (London, 1996); ‘The Duke’s funeral’, Illustrated London News, 20 October 1852, pp. 425–6. 3 O. Anderson, ‘The growth of Christian militarism in mid-Victorian Britain’, English Historical Review 86 no. 338 (1971), pp. 46–7. 4 E. M. Spiers, The Late Victorian Army, 1868–1902 (Manchester, 1992), pp. 2–6. 5 H. Strachan, Wellington’s Legacy: The reform of the British Army, 1830–54 (Manchester, 1984), p. 25. For a contrasting perspective see: P. Burroughs, ‘An unreformed Army? 1815–1868’, in The Oxford History of the British Army, ed. D. Chandler and I. Beckett (Oxford, 1996), pp. 161–86. 6 K. E. Hendrickson, Making Saints: Religion and the public image of the British Army, 1809–1885 (London, 1998). 7 For an overview of the institution of military museums in Britain see: P. Thwaites, Presenting Arms: Museum representation of British military history, 1660–1900 (London, 1996). 8 While Thwaites provides a brief account of the museum (pp. 28–9) and D. P. O’Connor provides an institutional history in Between Peace and War: British defence and the Royal United Services Institute 1831–2010 (London, 2011), pp. 1–20, two further works exist that analyse the museum’s development within a nineteenth-century British cultural and intellectual context: M. D. Welch’s Science and the British Officer: The early days of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies (1829–1869) (London, 1998) contextualizes the museum in light of the development of British science and military thought, while N. Ramsey’s work ‘Exhibiting discipline: military science and the naval and military library and museum’, in Tracing War in British Enlightenment and Romantic Culture, ed. N. Ramsey and G. Russell (Basingstoke, 2015), pp. 111–28 focuses upon highlighting the public role of the museum, which involved ‘inviting the British nation to identify with a modern world of military prowess and technological superiority’, p. 113. In contrast to these works, this article focuses upon the moral vision of the founders of the museum and traces shifts in the museum’s collections policies. 9 Quoted in Strachan, op. cit. (note 5), p. 131. 10 Although Welch notes that the ‘acquisition of difficult higher knowledge by junior officers would, it was hoped, distract them from the more unproductive pursuits of the young men traditionally attracted to the British officer corps’, this article additionally argues that the practice of collecting was also understood to be a means by which to inculcate moral behaviour. See Welch, op. cit. (note 8), pp. 32–3. 11 A. Burton, ‘The uses of the South Kensington art collections’, Journal of the History of Collections 14 (2002), pp. 79–95. However as Burton notes, with regard to the South Kensington Museum in particular there was a ‘tension … between those for whom the usefulness of the art collections seemed of paramount importance, and those for whom its quality was a consuming passion, and who valued it for its own sake’, p. 93. 12 E. M. Spiers, The Army and Society, 1815–1914 (London, 1980), pp. 1–2. 13 Ibid., p. 103. 14 ‘On the employment of time in India’, Colburn’s United Service Magazine 1 (1851), pp. 559–68; Captain J. Blakiston, Twelve Years’ Military Adventure in Three Quarters of the Globe (London, 1829), vol. i, pp. 316–20; R. Holmes, Sahib: The British soldier in India (London, 2005), pp. 415–26. 15 [W. E. Cairnes], Social Life in the British Army (London, 1899). 16 Ibid., pp. 22–3. 17 Ibid., pp. 33–40. 18 Ibid., pp. 54–5. 19 J. Moray Brown, Shikar Sketches, with Notes on Indian Field-Sports (London, 1887). 20 See: Trevor Herbert and Helen Barlow, Music and the British Military in the Long Nineteenth Century (Oxford, 2013). 21 Captain F. B. Doveton, ‘Cantonment life in India’, Colburn’s United Service Magazine 1 (1845), p. 434, partly quoted in Herbert and Barlow, op. cit. (note 20), p. 258. 22 C. J. Napier, ‘General Order to the Officers of the Army’, 9 December 1850, The Times, 3 February 1851, p. 5. 23 Ibid. See also, Herbert and Barlow, op. cit. (note 20), pp. 256–7. 24 Lieutenant-Colonel W. H. Sleeman, Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official (London, 1844), vol. ii, pp. 429–32. 25 ‘On the employment of time in India’, op. cit. (note 14), p. 565. 26 Ibid., p. 566. 27 Ibid., pp. 567–8. 28 ‘Letter to the Editor’, United Service Journal 2 (1829), pp. 104–6. 29 S. D., ‘Regimental libraries’, Royal Military Chronicle 1 (1811), pp. 386–7. 30 M. Snape, The Redcoat and Religion (London, 2005), p. 102. 31 M. Harrison, ‘Networks of knowledge: science and medicine in early colonial India, c.1750–1820’, in India and the British Empire, ed. D. M. Peers and N. Gooptu (Oxford, 2012), p. 207; Welch, op. cit. (note 8), pp. 18–27. 32 R. D. Altick, The Shows of London (Cambridge, ma, 1978) has traced this desire for collecting wonders of the world (including religious relics, natural history specimens, historically relevant artefacts and general curiosities) from the 1600s to the mid-1850s, noting the gradual commodification and democratization of such practices, as well as the broadening of public access to such materials (from antiquaries and ‘virtuosi’ to people of all social classes) from the early eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century. 33 O’Connor suggests this letter was written by Captain William Henry Smyth, op. cit. (note 8), p. 3. 34 An Old Egyptian Campaigner, ‘To the Editor of the United Service Journal’, United Service Journal 1 (1829), p. 239. 35 A North Coaster, ‘To the Editor of the United Service Journal’, United Service Journal 1 (1830), p. 367. 36 Ibid., pp. 367–8. 37 Ibid. 38 Captain Thomas Henry Shadwell Clerke to the Duke of Wellington, Hartley Library (hl), University of Southampton, Wellington Papers (wp) 1/1094/26. 39 Sir Howard Douglas to the Duke of Wellington, 1 January 1830, hl, wp 1/1083/2. 40 ‘Memorandum’, hl, wp 1/1083/2 (unpaginated). 41 Ibid. 42 ‘Editor’s portfolio’, United Service Journal 2 (1835), p. 126; ‘Thunder-storms’, The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction 30 (London, 1838), pp. 8–10. William Snow Harris who presented the lecture on thunderstorms began by discussing and demonstrating the principles of electricity with a view to championing the use of recently invented conductors which sought to prevent lightning from causing damage to naval ships. 43 ‘Memorandum’, op. cit. (note 40). 44 Ibid. 45 Duke of Wellington to Sir Herbert Taylor, 29 March 1831, hl, wp 1/1179/30. 46 Strachan, op. cit. (note 5), pp. 42–3. 47 ‘Naval and military library and museum’, United Service Journal 2 (1831), pp. 412–13. 48 Ibid., p. 413. 49 Ibid. 50 Ibid., pp. 414–5. 51 It is conceivable that such inter-service rivalry caused particular anxiety for the Army. As Burroughs has noted: ‘Both in official strategy and in popular perceptions, its [the Army’s] position appeared secondary to that of the Senior Service [the Navy] as the front line of national defence, the foundation of Britain’s power and status, and the guarantor of trading routes throughout the world so vital to a commercial nation. These circumstances weakened the army’s capacity to command public attention and scarce resources’, op. cit. (note 5), p. 161. 52 ‘Naval and military library and museum’, United Service Journal 3 (1832), pp. 533, 561. 53 Colonel J. Lindsay, ‘Address’, Journal of the Royal United Service Institution 1 (1857), p. 5. The journal has taken on a number of names, therefore for consistency, hereafter it will be referred to as jrusi. 54 For a list of membership and visitor numbers between the years 1831–1847, see Welch, op. cit. (note 8), pp. 37–8. 55 ‘Proceedings at the twenty-seventh anniversary meeting’, jrusi 1 (1858), p. 283. 56 ‘Supply - Army Estimates’, House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, 14 March 1856, cc 192–194. 57 Ibid. 58 ‘Proceedings’, op. cit. (note 55), p. 285. As Burroughs has noted: ‘In the decades after 1815 a passion for economy raged in parliament; it affected all areas of government spending and the policies of all ministries. The army budget declined from £43 million in 1815 to £10.7 million in 1820, and to under £8 million in 1836. During the 1840s . . . the army vote rose to some £9.5 million a year, still a far cry from the costly fighting in the mid-1850s in the Crimea and India’, op. cit. (note 5), pp. 163–4. 59 This shift is also noted by Welch, op. cit. (note 8), pp. 39–42. 60 W. Reid, ‘Whatever happened to the sepoy’s skull?’, jrusi 118 (1973), p. 67; ‘Advice sought on museum exhibits’, The Times, 30 January 1962, p. 6. 61 ‘The Editor’s portfolio - United Service Museum’, United Service Journal 1 (1830), p. 100. 62 ‘Naval and military library and museum’, United Service Journal 3 (1831), p. 403. 63 ‘Naval and military library and museum’, United Service Journal 1 (1832), pp. 122, 403. 64 E. Walford, Old and New London: A narrative of its history, its people, and its places (London, 1897), vol. iii, pp. 325, 334–5. 65 Bosquecillo [D. B. Shaw], A Visit to the United Service Institution in 1849 (London, 1849), p. 7. 66 Ibid. Illustrations of various non-European arms and armour donated to the museum can be seen in E. Fraser, Greenwich Royal Hospital and the Royal United Service Museum (London, 1896), pp. 219, 224–5, 228–232. The Indian ‘tiger-claw’ is described as a ‘dagger, with rings for the fingers, worn attached to the palm of the hand’, p. 232. 67 Bosquecillo, op. cit. (note 65), p. 9. 68 See, for example, ‘Presents received for the library and museum’, jrusi 3 (1860), pp. 87–8; ‘Additions to the museum’, jrusi 22 (1879), pp. xxv-xxvi; ‘Additions to the museum’, jrusi 25 (1882), pp. xxxi-xxxii; ‘Recent additions to the museum’, jrusi 39 (1895), p. 1262. 69 ‘The Royal United Service Institution’, Illustrated London News, 9 June 1860, p. 563. 70 ‘Proceedings’, op. cit. (note 55), p. 305. 71 Ibid., pp. 288–9. 72 ‘Proceedings of the twenty-ninth anniversary meeting’, jrusi 3 (1860), p. xxiii. 73 Ibid. 74 Ibid., p. xxiv. 75 Captain E. Altham, ‘The Royal United Service Institution fifty years ago’, jrusi 90 (1945), p. 149. 76 ‘Proceedings’, op. cit. (note 72), pp. xxii, vii; The Descriptive Album of London (London, 1896), pl. 64. 77 R. A. Buchanan, Brunel: The life and times of Isambard Kingdom Brunel (London, 2006), pp. 57–9. 78 W. H. McNeill, The Pursuit of Power: Technology, armed force and society sincea.d.1000 (Chicago, 1982), pp. 223–36. 79 ‘Proceedings’, op. cit. (note 72), p. xv (emphasis added). 80 ‘Royal School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, South Kensington’, Nautical Magazine and Naval Chronicle for 1864, p. 526. 81 K. Littlewood and B. Butler, Of Ships and Stars: Maritime heritage and the founding of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich (London, 1998), p. 5. 82 Ibid., pp. 5–6. 83 ‘Royal School of Naval Architecture’, op. cit. (note 80), p. 526. 84 L. Purbrick, ‘The South Kensington Museum: The building of the House of Henry Cole’, in Art Apart: Art institutions and ideology across England and North America, ed. M. Pointon (London, 1994), p. 70. 85 T. J. Barringer and T. Flynn (eds), Colonialism and the Object: Empire, material culture and the museum (London, 1997), p. 14. 86 Ibid., p. 15. For a history of initiatives that preceded the museum’s opening, including the Great Exhibition of 1851 and the institution of the Department of Practical Art (1852, later the Department of Science and Art) and the Museum of Manufactures in Marlborough House see: Purbrick, op. cit. (note 84), pp. 69–86. 87 The tensions between aesthetic and commercial imperatives as related to the training and inspiration of the nineteenth-century British artisanal community, and the development towards a preference for innovation in marketable design patterns are traced in L. Kriegel, Grand Designs: Labor, empire, and the museum in Victorian culture (London, 2007). 88 Purbrick, op. cit. (note 84), p. 84. 89 ‘The Royal United Service Institution’, Saturday Review, 9 October 1880, pp. 453–4. 90 ‘The United Service Institution’, Illustrated London News, 9 March 1844, p. 149; ‘The Royal United Service Institution’, The Leisure Hour, 26 April 1860, p. 259. 91 ‘Naval and military library and museum’, op. cit. (note 47), p. 413; ‘The Royal United Service Institution’, op. cit. (note 69), p. 563. 92 For an example of a candid personal account of looting see J. H. Dunne, From Calcutta to Pekin: Being notes taken from the journal of an officer between those places (London, 1861), pp. 128–33. 93 N. MacGregor, ‘The Shock of the Thing’, Robert Hughes Lecture, National Gallery of Australia, 13 November 2012. 94 This is an argument encapsulated in A. E. Coombes’s evocative concept ‘temples of Empire’, in Reinventing Africa: Museums, material culture and popular imagination (New Haven, 1994), p. 109. 95 C. Wintle, Colonial Collecting and Display (New York, 2013), p. 3. 96 On the ‘biographical’ approach to objects see: I. Kopytoff, ‘The cultural biography of things: commoditization as process’, in The Social Life of Things, ed. A. Appadurai (Cambridge, 1986), pp. 64–91 and J. Hoskins, ‘Agency, biography and objects’, in Handbook of Material Culture, ed. C. Tilley, W. Keane, S. Kuechler, M. Rowlands and P. Spyer (London, 2005), pp. 74–84. 97 ‘Editor’s portfolio - presents exhibited’, United Service Journal 2 (1840), p. 564. 98 Ibid. 99 Bosquecillo, op. cit. (note 65), p. 7. This conflict led to the formal end of the Maratha Empire, the overthrow of Peshwa Baji Rao II and the restoration of the Rajah of Satara to the throne. See British and Foreign Review 8 (1839), pp. 223–4. 100 Bosquecillo, op. cit. (note 65), p. 7. 101 W. Robinson, Voyages up the Mediterranean and in the Indian Seas (London, 1837), p. 21. 102 Bosquecillo, op. cit. (note 65), p. 28. The complex relationship between the Mpondo Kingdom and the British is detailed in T. J. Stapleton, Faku: Rulership and colonialism in the Mpondo Kingdom (Waterloo, on, 2001). Although the museum account notes that this object was given by Faku to Colonel Harry Smith, Governor of the Cape Colony (1847–52), Stapleton claims that the object was given by Faku to his adviser the Wesleyan missionary Revd Jenkins ‘at the start of the 1846 War “as a token of friendly alliance to the British Government”’. Stapleton notes that Faku was conciliatory towards and protective of British missionaries and that the ‘Mpondo never entered into armed conflict with a colonial power, and only on one brief occasion in the early 1850s did his warriors serve within the colonial armies that conquered other African groups in the region’, pp. 7–8, 72. 103 Two further striking examples can be found in R. Hales, Islamic and Oriental Arms and Armour (London, 2013): a khanjarli with ivory hilt and red velvet sheath presented to General A. N. Rich by the Maharajah of Vizianagram ‘for saving his life when attacked by a wounded cheetah’ in the mid nineteenth century; and an Iranian shamshir ‘[p]resented to Lt. Col. J. D’Arcy ra and ksl, by the Shah of Persia on the defeat of the Russians at the Battle of Sultanobolt ad 1808’ during the Russo-Persian War (1804–13), pp. 2, 227. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)

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Published: Apr 14, 2018

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