ENLISTMENT, an engagement to serve as a private soldier either during an unlimited period or for a certain num ber of years, on receipt of a sum of money. Enlistment differs from enrol ment, inasmuch as it is a voluntary act, whereas the latter is, under some cir cumstances, rendered compulsory : as in the case of men who are selected by bal lot for the militia in this country, or by the conscription, for military service generally, on the continent.
The practice of impressing men to serve as soldiers, on sudden emergencies, was formerly very common in England; and it is well known that within the last half century young men were entrapped and secretly conveyed away to recruit the armies employed in the east. The discovery of this illegal and disgraceful method of obtaining soldiers was speedily followed by its abolition ; and cow, the East India Company's troops, as well as those of the regular army, are obtained by voluntary engagement.
The number of young men who are induced to enlist by the ambition of en tering upon a course of life which ap pears to hold out a prospect of distin guishing themselves by gallant achieve ments in the field is, however, too small for the wants of the military service ; and the allurement of a bounty must neces sarily be presented in order that the ranks of the army may be filled. But the pro fession of a soldier can never possess such advantages as might induce an industri ous man who can obtain a subsistence in another way to embrace it; and it is to be regretted that too frequently those who enter the service are thoughtless youths or men of indolent habits or des perate fortunes. Some attention, how ever, to the character of a person offer ing himself for enlistment is necessary if it be desired to render the service honourable ; for it is found that idle and dissipated men are with difficulty brought to submit to the necessary restraints of discipline ; their frequent desertions en tail heavy losses on the government, and they often corrupt those who are com pelled to associate with them. When
circumstances render it necessary to en list such men, it is obvious that they ought to be distributed in small numbers among the different regiments, and quar tered in places remote from those from which they were taken.
By the 34th clause of the Mutiny Act, every person who has received enlisting money from any military man employed in the recruiting service is considered as hexing enlisted : but within fortv-eight hours afterwards notice is to be given to the recruit, or left at his place of abode, of his having so enlisted : and again, within four days from the time of re ceiving the money. the recruit, attended by any person employed as above-said, is to appear before a magistrate (not be ing a military man), when, if he declare that he has voluntarily enlisted, the ma gistrate is to question him concerning his name, age, and condition, and particu larly to inquire of him whether he is then serving, or whether he have ever served, in the army or navy. The ma gistrate is then to read to the recruit the articles of war relating to mutiny and desertion, and administer to him an oath of allegiance, of which a form is given in a schedule to the act: if the recruit refuse to take the oath, he may be im prisoned till he do so.
But as the young and simple have been sometimes inveigled by illusory pro mises, or persuaded, while deprived of judgment by intoxication, to enlist, if a recruit, on reflection, wish to withdraw from the engagement into which he may have been surprised, it is provided by the 35th clause of the Mutiny Act that when taken before the magistrate as above he shall be at liberty to declare his dissent from such enlistment ; on making which declaration and returning the enlisting money, with 20s. in addition for the charges which may have been incurred on his account, he shall be forthwith dis charged. But if he omit within twenty four hours after so declaring his dissent to pay such money, he is to be considered as enlisted, as if he had given his assent before the magistrate.