« AnteriorContinuar »
If we consider the heap of an army, utterly out of all prospect of rising and preferment, as they certainly are, and such great things executed by them, it is hard to account for the motive of their gallantry. But to me, who was a cadet at the battle of Coldstream in Scotland, when Monk charged at the head of the regiment, now called Coldstream, from the victory of that day ; I remember it as well as if it were yesterday, I stood on the left of old West, who I believe is now at Chelsea ; I say, to me, who know very well this part of mankind, I take the gallantry of private soldiers to proceed from the same, if not from a nobler impulse than that of gentlemen and officers. They have the same taste of being acceptable to their friends, and go through the difficulties of that profession by the same irresistible charm of fellowship, and the communication of joys and sorrows, which quickens the relish of pleasure, and abates the anguish of pain. Add to this, that they have the same regard to fame, though they do not expect so great a share as men above them hope for ; but I will engage Sergeant Hall would die ten thousand deaths, rather than a word should be spoken at the Red Lettice, or any part of the Butcher Row, in prejudice to his courage or honesty. If you will have my opinion then of the sergeant's letter, I pronounce the style to be mixed, but truly epistolary; the sentiment relating to his own wound is in the sublime ; the postscript of Pegg Hartwell, in the gay ; and the whole the picture of the bravest sort of men, that is to say, a man of great courage and small hopes.
When I came home this evening, I found, after many attempts to vary my thoughts, that my head
still ran upon the subject of the discourse to-night at Will's. I fell, therefore, into the amusement of proportioning the glory of a battle among the whole army, and dividing it into shares, according to the method of the million lottery. In this bank of fame, by an exact calculation, and the rules of political arithmetic, I have alloted ten hundred thousand shares ; five hundred thousand of which is the due of the general, two hundred thousand I assign to the general officers, and two hundred thousand more to all the commissioned officers from colonels to ensigns; the remaining hundred thousand must be distributed among the non-commissioned officers and private men : according to which computation, I find Sergeant Hall is to have one share and fraction of two-fifths. When I was a boy at Oxford, there was among the antiquities near the theatre a great stone, on which were engraven the names of all who fell in the battle of Marathon. The generous and knowing people of Athens understood the force of the desire of glory, and would not let the meanest soldier perish in oblivion. Were the natural impulse of the British nation animated with such monuments, what man would be so mean, as not to hazard his life for his ten hundred thousandth part of the honour on such a day as that of Blenheim or Blaregnies?
[Tatler, No. 87.
a Day in London
It is an inexpressible pleasure to know a little of the world, and be of no character or significancy in it.
To be ever unconcerned, and ever looking on new objects with an endless curiosity, is a delight known only to those who are turned for speculation : nay, they who enjoy it must value things only as they are the objects of speculation, without drawing any worldly advantage to themselves from them, but just as they are what contribute to their amusement, or the improvement of the mind. I lay one night last week at Richmond ; and being restless, not out of dissatisfaction, but a certain busy inclination one sometimes has, I rose at four in the morning, and took boat for London, with a resolution to rove by boat and coach for the next four-and-twenty hours, till the many different objects I must needs meet with should tire my imagination, and give me an inclination to a repose more profound than I was at that time capable of. I beg people's pardon for an odd humour I am guilty of, and was often that day, which is saluting any person whom I like, whether I know him or not. This is a particularity would be tolerated in me, if they considered that the greatest pleasure I know I receive at my eyes, and that I am obliged to an agreeable person for coming abroad into my view, as
another is for a visit of conversation at their own houses.
The hours of the day and night are taken up in the cities of London and Westminster, by people as different from each other as those who are born in different centuries. Men of six o'clock give way to those of nine, they of nine to the generation of twelve ; and they of twelve disappear, and make room for the fashionable world, who have made two o'clock the noon of the day.
When we first put off from shore, we soon fell in with a fleet of gardeners, bound for the several market ports of London ; and it was the most pleasing scene imaginable to see the cheerfulness with which those industrious people plied their way to a certain sale of their goods. The banks on each side are as well peopled, and beautified with as agreeable plantations, as any spot on the earth ; but the Thames itself, loaded with the product of each shore, added very much to the landscape. It was very easy to observe by their sailing, and the countenances of the ruddy virgins, who were supercargoes, the parts of the town to which they were bound. There was an air in the purveyors for Covent Garden, who frequently converse with morning rakes, very unlike the seeming sobriety of those bound for Stocks Market.
Nothing remarkable happened in our voyage ; but I landed with ten sail of apricot-boats, at Strand Bridge, after having put in at Nine Elms, and taken in melons, consigned by Mr. Cuffe, of that place, to Sarah Sewell and Company, at their stall in Covent Garden. We arrived at Strand Bridge at six of the clock, and were unloading, when the hackney-coach
men of the foregoing night took their leave of each other at the Dark House, to go to bed before the day was too far spent. Chimney-sweepers passed by us as we made up to the market, and some raillery happened between one of the fruit-wenches and those black men about the Devil and Eve, with allusion to their several professions. I could not believe any place more entertaining than Covent Garden ; where I strolled from one fruit-shop to another, with crowds of agreeable young women around me, who were purchasing fruit for their respective families. It was almost eight of the clock before I could leave that variety of objects. I took coach and followed a young lady, who tripped into another just before me, attended by her maid. I saw immediately she was of the family of the Vainloves. There are a set of these, who, of all things, affect the play of Blindman's-buff, and leading men into love for they know not whom, who are fled they know not where. This sort of woman is usually a jaunty slattern ; she hangs on her clothes, plays her head, varies her posture, and changes place incessantly, and all with an appearance of striving at the same time to hide herself, and yet give you to understand she is in humour to laugh at you. You must have often seen the coachmen make signs with their fingers, as they drive by each other, to intimate how much they have got that day. They can carry on that language to give intelligence where they are driving. In an instant my coachman took the wink to pursue ; and the lady's driver gave the hint that he was going through Long Acre towards St. James's ; while he whipped up James Street, we drove for King Street, to save the pass at St. Martin's Lane. The