Page images

That lies on Dian's lap! thou visible god . ..
That solderest close impossibilities,
And mak’st them kiss ; that speak’st with every

To every purpose! O thou touch of hearts.
Think, thy slave man rebels ; and by thy

virtue Set thein into confounding odds, that beasts. May have the world in empire.

SHAKESPEAR. . Timon of Athens, act me

There is thy gold; worse poison to men's ; ' souls, Doing more murders in this loathsome world, Than these poor compounds that thou may’st not

sell : I sell thee poison, thou hast sold ine none. .

IDEM. Romeo and Juliet, act. 6,


[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


WHAT mortal that had never seen a soldier, could look without laughing, upon a man accoutred with so much paltry gaudiness and affected finery? The coarsest manufacture that can be made of wool, dyed of a brick dust colour, goes down with him, because it is in imitation of scarlet or crimson cloth; and to make him think himself as like his officer as 'tis possible, with little or no cost, instead of silver or gold lace, his hat is trimmed with white or yellow worsted, which in others would deserve Bedlam ; yet these fine allurements, and the noise made upon a calf's skin, have drawn in, and been the destruction of inore men in reality, than all the bewitching voices -of women ever slew in jest. To-day the swineherd puts on his red coat, and believes every body in earnest that calls him gentleman, and two days after serjeant Kite gives him a swinging rap with his cane, for holding his musket an inch higher than he should do. As to the real dignity of the kenplovnejli, in the two last wars, officers, when


recruits were wanted, were allowed to list fellows convicted of burglary and other capital crimes, which shews, that to be made a soldier is deemed to be a preferment next to hanging. A trooper is yet worse than a foot soldier, for when he is inost at ease, he has the mortification of being groom to a horse that spends more money than himself. When a man reflects on all this, the usage they generally receive from their officers, their pay, and the care that is taken of them, when they are not wanted, must he not wonder how wretches càn be so silly as to be proud of being called gentlemen soldiers ? ] . . . .

...... .. ... MANDEVILLE.. Fable of the Becs : Remark (R)

( When the young rustic is brought to the regiment, he is at first treated with a degree of gentieness ; he is instructed by words only how to walk, and to hold up his head, and to carry his firelock, and he is not punished, though he should not succeed in his earliest attempts : they allow his natural awkwardness and timidity to wear off by degrees :-they seem cautious of confounding him at the beginning, or driving him to despair, and take care not to pour all the terrors of their discipline upon his astonished senses at once. When he has been a little familiarised to his new state, he is taught the exercise of the firelock, first alone, and afterwards with two or three of his companions. This is not entrusted to a corporal or serjeant ; it is the duty of a subaltern officer. In


t'ie park at Berlin, every morning may be seen the lieutenants of the différent regiments exercising, with the greatest assiduity, sometimes a single man, at other times three or four together; and now, if the young recruit shows neglect or remissness, his attention is roused by the officer's care, which is applied with anghenting energy, till he has acquired the full command of his firelock. He is taught steadiness under arms and the immobi. lity of a statue :~he is informed, that all his members are to move only at the word of com. mand, and not at his own pleasure ;--that speaking, coughing, sneezing, are all unpardonable crimes ; and when the poor lad is accomplished to their mind, they give him to understand, that now it is perfectly known what he can do, and therefore the smallest deficiency will be punished with rigour. And although he should destine every moinent of his tiine, and all his attention, to cleaning his arms, taking care of liis clothes, and practising the manual exercise, it is but barely possible for him to escape punishment; and if his captain happens to be of a capricious or crucl disposition, the ill-fated soldier loses the poor chance of that possibility, — .n : *The icading idea of the Prussian discipline is to seduce the common men, in many respects, to the nature of machines; that they may have no va." Jifion of their own, but be actuated solely by that of thür chicers; that they may have such a superlative dread of those officers as annihilates all


[ocr errors]

DISCIPLINE. 301 fear of the enemy; that they may move for

wards when ordered, without deeper reasoning or · more concern than the firelocks they carry, along with them.

Considering the length to which this system is carried, it were to be wished that it could be carried still farther, and that those unhappy men, while they retained the faculties of hearing and obeying orders, could be deprived of every other kind of feeling. · Walking one morning in the park, we saw a poor fellow smartly caned, for no other reason, but because he did not return the ramrod into his piece-with so much celerity as the rest of the platoon. I turned away with indignation from the sight, which my companion observing, said, you think the punishment too severe for the crime?There was no crime, said I : the ram-rod slipped through his fingers by accident, and it is not possible to imagine, that the man had any intention to perform this important motion less rapidly than his comrades. Every thing must be considered as of importance by a soldier, replied my Prussian acquaintance, which his officer orders him to do. In all probability, the fault was involuntary ; but it is not always possible to distinguish involuntary faults from those that happen through negligence. To prevent any man from hoping that his negligence will be forgiven as involuntary, all blunders are punished, from whatever cause they happen; the consequence of which is, that every


« PreviousContinue »