A LESSON FOR GENTLEMEN VOLUN∣TEERS.
From the LETTERS OF A PERSIAN IN ENGLAND TO HIS FRIEND AT ISPAHAN.
AS I was walking in the fields, near this city, the other morning, a disbanded soldier, some∣what in years, implored my charity, and to excite my compassion, bared his bosom, on which were the scars of many wounds, all received in the service of his country. I gladly relieved his wants, and being desirous to inform myself of every thing, fell into discourse with him on the wars in which he had served. He told me he had been present at the taking of ten or twelve strong towns, and had a share in the danger and glory of almost as many victories. How then, said I, comes it to pass that you are laid aside? Thy strength is indeed in its decline, but not yet wasted; and I should think that experience would well supply the loss of youth. Alas! Sir, answered he, I have a good heart, and tolerable limbs, but I want three inches more of stature: I am brave and able enough, thank God, but not quite handsome enough to be a soldier.
How then didst thou serve so long, returned I, in Flanders? Sir, said he, there were some thousands such ill-looking fellows, who did very well in the day Page 41of battle, but would make no figure at a review.—It appears to me very strange, replied I, that thou should∣est be poor after fighting so many years with such great success. The plunder of a single town in the east is enough to enrich every soldier that helped to take it. Plunder! Sir, said he; we have no such term in the modern art of war. We fight for sixpence a day.—But when you have gained a battle do you get nothing by it?—Yes, said he, we have the ad∣vantage to go on and besiege a town.—Ay, then, my honest lad, comes your harvest.—Then, Sir, replied he, it defends itself till we are half of us destroyed: and when it can hold out no longer, it capitulates; that is, every burgher saves his house, and every soldier carries off his baggage.—What becomes of the conquering army?—Why the conquering army has the pleasure to besiege another town, which capitulates also; and at the end of the campaign it goes into quarters.—But when you enter an enemy's country don't you raise contributions? The generals do, an∣swered he, but military discipline allows no part of it to the common soldiers; they have just sixpence a day as they had before.