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me, and which he told me was communicated to him, as he is an acquaintance of some of the persons mentioned in it. The epistle is from one serjeant Hall of the foot-guards. It is directed, “To serjeant Cabe, in the Coldstream regiment of foot-guards, at the Red-lettice, in the Butcher-row, near Templebar.”
I was so pleased with several touches in it, that I could not forbear showing it to a cluster of critics, who, instead of considering it in the light I have done, examined it by the rules of epistolary writing. For as these gentlemen are seldom men of any great genius, they work altogether by mechanical rules, and are able to discover no beauties that are not pointed out by Bouhours and Rapin. The letter is as follows:
"" From the camp before Mons, Sept. 26. “ COMRADE, " I received yours, and am glad yourself and yout wife are in good health, with all the rest of my friends. Our battalion suffered more than I could wish in the action. But who can withstand fate? Poor Richard Stevenson had his fate with a great many more. He was killed dead before we entered the trenches. We had above two hundred of our battalion killed and wounded. We lost ten serjeants, six are as followeth: Jennings, Castles, Roach; Sherring, Meyrick, and my son Smith. The rest are not your acquaintance. I have received a very bad shot in my head myself, but am in hopes, and please God, I shall recover. I continue in the field, and lie at my colonel's quarters. Arthur is very well; but I can give you no account of Elms; he was in the hospital before I came into the field. I will not pretend to give you an account of the battle, knowing you have a better in the prints. Pray, give my
service to Mrs. Cook and her daughter, to Mr. Stoffet and his wife, and to Mr. Lyver, and Thomas Hogsdon, and to Mr. Ragdell, and to all my friends and acquaintance in general who do ask after me. My love to Mrs. Stevenson. I am sorry for the sending such ill news. Her husband was gathering a little money together to send to his wife, and put it into my hands. I have seven shillings and threepence, which I shall take care to send her. Wishing your wife a safe delivery, and both of you all happiness, rest “ Your assured friend, and comrade,
• John HALL. « We had but an indifferent breakfast; but the Mounseers never had such a dinner in all their lives.
“ My kind love to my comrade Hinton, and Mrs. Morgan, and to John Brown and his wife. I sent two shillings, and Stevenson six-pence, to drink with you at Mr. Cook's; but I have heard nothing from him. It was by Mr. Edgar.
" Corporal Hartwell desires to be remembered to you, and desires you to enquire of Edgar, what is become of his wife Pegg; and when you write, to send word in your letter what trade she drives.
« We have here very bad weather, which I doubt will be an hindrance to the siege; but I am in hopes we shall be masters of the town in a little time, and then, I believe, we shall go to garrison.”
I saw the critics prepared to nibble at my letter; therefore examined it myself, partly in their way, and partly my own. This is, said I, truly a letter, and an honest representation of that cheerful heart which accompanies the poor soldier in his warfare. Is not there in this all the topic of submitting to our destiny as well discussed as if a greater man had been placed, like Brutus, in his tent at midnight, reflect.
ing on all the occurrences of past life, and saying fine things on Being itself? What serjeant Hall knows of the matter is, that he wishes there had not been so many killed; and he had himself a very bad shot in the head, and should recover if it pleased God. But, be that as it will, he takes care, like a man of honour, as he certainly is, to let the widow Stevenson know, that he had seven and three-pence for her, and that if he lives, he is sure he shall go into garrison at last. I doubt not but all the good company at the Red-lettice drank his health with as much real esteem as we do of any of our friends. All that I am concerned for is, that Mrs. Peggy Hartwell may be offended at showing this letter, because her conduct in Mr. Hartwell's absence is a little inquired into. But I could not sink that circumstance, because you critics would have lost one of the parts which I doubt not but you have much to say upon, whether the fa. miliar way is well hit in this style or not? As for myself, I take a very particular satisfaction in seeing any letter that is fit only for those to read who are concerned in it, but especially on such a subject. .
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 kyow 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 accepta able 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 serjeant 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 serjeant'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.
From my own Apartment, October 28. 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 allotted 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 serjeant Hall is to have one share and a 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 honvur in such a day as that of Blenheim or Blaregpies ?
No 88. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 1709.
White's Chocolate-house, October 31. 1 I have lately received a letter from a friend in the country, wherein he acquaints me, “ that two or three men of the town are got among them, and have brought down particular words and phrases, which were never before in those parts.” He mentions in particular the words Gunner and Gunster, which, my correspondent observes, they make use of, when any thing has been related that is strange and surprizing; and, therefore, desires I would explain those terms, as I have many others, for the information of such as live at a distance from this town and court, which he calls the great mints of language. His letter is dated from York; and, if he tells me trutb, a word in its ordinary circulation does not reach that city within the space of five years after it is first stan, ped. I cannot say how long these words have been current in town, but I shall now take care to send them down by the next post.