The practice, proceedings, and lawes of armes described out of the doings of most valiant and expert captaines, and confirmed both by ancient, and moderne examples, and præcedents, by Matthevv Sutcliffe.
Sutcliffe, Matthew, 1550?-1629.

CHAP. IIII. Part 6. Of musters, and choice of common souldiers.

THe Generals chiefe care, is about the choice of his chiefe officers, colonels, & captaines of companies: yet may he not neglect ye choice euen of cōmon soul∣diers. A matter in our times either not at al, or very litle regarded. For when occasion is offered of ser∣uice: then for the most part order is giuen either to the officers of euery Parish, to take vp roges, or masterles men, or in∣habitants of prisons, such as if they had their deserts, they were to be sent rather to ye gallowes, then to the warres for the most part: or if a greater number must be taken; to the officers in the Countrey, men Page  63for the most part ignorant of warlike actions, and such as haue no o∣ther respect most commonly, then to disburthen ye Parish of rogues, loyterers, pikars, & drunkards, and such as no other way can liue. A∣mong yt which there is no honest man, but would be loth to be num∣bred. If any other be chosen, it is for some priuate respect or grudge. And of those yt are chosen, if they haue either friendes, fauour, or mo∣ney, most of thē are dismissed. And sure when I cōsider how in forrein nations men are sent to ye slaughter, few in nūber, vnprouided, vnfur∣nished, vnpaid, and pilled of their gouernours, contrary to all order of seruice; I must needes say, these men are the fittest to be sent. But if Princes meane to haue their honour and countrey defended, or their estate mainteined, or seruice done vpon the enemie, they must haue more regard to chuse men of more strength, honestie, and abilitie; such as haue reason to fight for their Countrey, and haue care of their ho∣nest reputation, and are ashamed of villeny, and lewde doing. For how can captaines encourage those to fight for their countrey, lands, goods, and honor, that haue neither house nor home, nor respect of ho∣nesty or shame, nor care though all were fired, so they might hooke somewhat? and yet forsooth the Generals & commanders, that of late time haue bin emploied haue bin blamed, that they haue not obserued the rules of militarie discipline among these men. As if it were possi∣ble to keepe famished men from snatching of victuals, or drunkardes from drinke, or to master men that are masterles, or to keepe rogues in order, or to make loyterours to worke, or pilferors to march in aray and keepe order, or to preserue them aliue that haue neither paye, nor prouision in time, nor one peny to helpe themselues in their neede. If they will therefore haue order kept, let them choose out men capable of gouernment, & souldiers, not rascals. With great care this abuse ought to be reformed: for it is a point very material.aVegetius doub∣ted not to place both the strēgth of the Romane army, & the foun∣dation of the Romane Empire, in the first choise and triall of their souldiers. Therefore were the Generals either present themselues at the musters, or els did they employ men of knowledge, grauitie, and honesty, as hath bin already declared. Those yt through couetousnesse or fauour did corrupt their orders for musters, were detested and punished.bPedius Blaesus for this cause was ignominiously put out of the Senate. Such as sought gaine by this shamefull practise, are taxed bycTacitus, as doing a thing rare, and not tollerable.

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When this disorder grewe great, they forbad by expresse lawe, all men to take money, eyther forachoosing, or dismissing of souldi∣ers. They that answered not to their names at musters among the Romanes, were taken and imprisoned, and their goods sold, as Liuy witnesseth. In the time ofbTraianus the Emperour, one that made his sonne vnable to serue in the warres, was banished his countrey. So were it to be wished, that men of honour and skill, deputed by the Generall, were present at the musters, and that all able men would offer themselues to doe their countrey seruice: that such as choose men vnable to excuse others, or else doe dimisse sufficient men for money, were themselues dimissed and seuerely punished: and finally, that such were chosen that haue somewhat in their countrey to loose, and to carry with them for maintenance of themselues, if neede be. But this is onely to be wished, in such seruice as for good order, and sufficient number is like to prooue honourable, and when men shall be better prouided and paid, and more accompt made of them.c Now some make accompt of money, & no accōpt of men, like to the Athe∣nians, that lamented the losse of their goods, and not of mens per∣sons, which are infinitely more in value. In these disorders it is not fit, that others should be imployed in warres, then such as now are. which some cal pressed men, for that they go as willingly to seruice, as to hanging or pressing; and money imprested cōmeth eyther rare∣ly, or is taken from them. My onely hope is, that one day there wilbe better prouision, and proceeding in warres, at what time these rules may better be put in execution. In the meane time wee may learne what hath bene the practice of times past in the choyse of souldiers, and what rules ought nowe to be practised.

In the choice of souldiers, we are especially to respect three things: first, the strength of the body: secondly, the vigour and vertues of the mind: and thirdly, the maner and trade of the parties liuing. Vege∣tius, and certaine idle Italians, giue precepts concerning the climate, countrey, and diuers situations of regions, which they would haue in the choise of souldiers to be respected: but experience teacheth vs, that oft times valiant men are found in Cities, and fruitfull Coun∣tries, yea vnder hotte climates which they condemne, and cowardes in hilles and rockes, and Northren Regions, which they commend. True it is, that Northren people are commonly more valiant and venturous, then those of Asia & Afrike, that are from vs farre East, Page  65and south. But what doth that consideration help vs, that make our leuies of souldiers not in Asia nor Affrike; but here in England, and Ireland, and thereabout? whether therefore souldiers be brought vp in the citie or country, or bred in hilles or valleis, or champaine coun∣try, in the north or south of England, I respect not: but if they haue strength of body to endure labours, and a mind vigorous and coura∣gious, and an honest disposition, and haue liued such a life, as hath beene tried somtimes in labour, I refuse them not wheresoeuer they haue beene bred. Nay I wish to haue such. Contrariwise cowards and weake persons, and men of lewd conditions, or which haue bene tenderly brought vp, I would refuse although they come from the north or hilly countries.

Pyrrhus gaue orders to his commissioners for mosters to chuse bigge and corpulent men. Marius made choise of men of great sta∣ture. But if I might be heard, I woulde neither wish such men to be sought for: (for seldome are great and bigge men able to endure trauel) nor men of a meane or short stature to be refused, if they haue strong and actiue bodies. Men of meane stature are for the most part more vigorous and couragious; they do more easily endure labors, and commonly excell great bodied men in swiftnesse and running, which is a matter in a souldier verie requisite and commendable.aAchilles was much commended for that hee was swift of foote, andbPapirius tooke his name and commendation of running.cVe∣getius saith, it is bettet to haue stout and strong, then huge and big souldiers. Such Caesar commonly did chuse. and experience sheweth vs, that men burdened with flesh can neither endure labour, nor hurts, whereas the meane stature and habite of bodie endureth both.

For trial of the strength of a mans body, we are not only to looke vpon the lineaments, and outward proportion of the parts, but rather what the party can do in running, leaping, wrastling, & such like ex∣ercises. For oftentimes an euill-fauoured body may haue a quicke strength, and tall & big persons may prooue weake, dainty, & sickly. By the outward apparance, we may notwithstanding make a proba∣ble coniecture of a mans strength. For they that haue a likely body, and a sharp countenance, and hard flesh & sinowy armes and legs, ra∣ther then ful or fleshy, are likely to proue strong men. Yet do not or∣ders of warre admit old men past 46. vnles they be old souldiers, for that their strength is decaying, and their bodies lesse apt to labor: nor Page  66youths vnder 20. vnlesse it be some that by triall declareth himselfe to haue strength, for that as yet they are not come to their full pitch and strength.

But that which specially commendeth souldiers, is the vigor of the mind, and good conditions, coniectured by the visage & outward behauior, but knowen only by their conuersation; which is to be lear∣ned of others. If the man be a knowen coward, or of a dull dispositi∣on, or mutinous, or giuen to drinke, or theeuery, or other disorders, howsoeuer his body seeme answerable, yet for his lewd maners hee proueth for the most part vnprofitable: and is therfore to be repelled, or blotted out of the rolle. In a souldier therefore I require first,aa vigorous and present mind, and that he be not afraide of danger, nor drawen swordes: nor that hee despaire in trouble, or thinke of death before it commeth, nor yeeld though cast downe, so long as by any possibilitie he may hope to rise againe.

Constancie also and resolution is much bybCaesar commended, and the only thing that atchieueth great enterprises. For many are the hazards of warre, and things succeede not alwayes at the first. Without obedience and obseruance of military orders, all other ver∣tues are without effect. Let the souldier therefore be obedient, and quiet. Those thatcare most obedient to lawes, prooue for the most part most valiant against the enemy. It is a principall marke of a valiant souldier, if he dare do what he is commanded by his superi∣ors. Contrariwise they that are mutinous against their gouernours, and are euer bragging, as if warres consisted in words only, are sel∣dome good souldiers, or braue men in triall. Souldiers would like∣wise be of quiet behauior, and temperate in their diet. There is no vse saiddClearchus of an army that is riotous, and out of order.

I would likewise wish that souldiers were religious, and thinke it very requisite, if it might be obtained. The very Pagans did no∣thing before they had consulted with oracles, or sought to knowe the pleasure of God bye birdes, or entrals of beastes (for that was their ignorance) and beleeued that al euil successe in their warres came to them for neglect of religion, & Gods worship. How much more then ought Christians to be religious? There is nothing that more con∣firmeth the souldiers mind, then when he is perswaded that God fa∣uoreth him, & the goodnes of his cause. nor worketh more assured re∣solution to die, then when men vnderstand they go to a better life. Page  67Contrariwise men of a bad conscience are alwayes timorous and doubtful. I know blasphemers, swearers, and Atheists, wil laugh at this rule. But what wonder when they laugh also at God and reli∣gion? these men will one day weepe for their laughter. I pray God that others suffer not for their Atheisme, and contempt of religion.

Finally, souldiers would be more desirous of praise thē of gaine. Such doth Xenophon report Cyrus hisasouldiers that followed him against Artaxerxes to haue beene. And no small commendation is it in souldiers, to be afraide of reproofe, and desirous of honest report. Men of honest condition & shamefast, while theybare ashamed to fly, win the victory, & win to thēselues the reputatiō of good souldiers. Swearers, the eues, rogues, whoremongers, drunkards, do better be∣come the gaole then the campe. And ourcgreat cutters & hackers, in the streets of London, are seldome great hackers of the enemy.

The third point which we are to respect in the choice of souldiers, is the trade of their liuing, although not in equall degree with the o∣ther two. For many to win themselues a liuing, are oftentimes dri∣uen to follow base occupations, that otherwise are couragious, & of a liberall dispositiō, & haue bodies fit for labor. So that although the Spartans anddRomanes refused such for souldiers, as exercised ma∣nuall occupations, and kept shops, yet do I not thinke they deserue generally to be refused, but onely such of them as be weake, tender, and effeminate. All those that are hardened with labour; asehus∣bandmen for the most part, and those that can sufferraine, heate, and cold, and vse to fare hard, and lie hard, and sleepe little prooue braue men. Our yong gentlemen & seruingmen, are easily trained, & made fit for the warres. But of al others the old souldier, if such may be had, of what trade soeuer he is, deserueth the first place. They are so farre to bee praised aboue young souldiers, as artificers excell their apprentises. A handful of tried souldiers hath oftē put to flight multitudes of men not exercised in warres: & contrariwise seldome do yong souldiors abide the chamaillis, & hammering of armes. Cae∣sars old souldiers were inuincible. And Annibals tried souldiers of Affrike, of which nation now no reckoning is made, did giue diuers foiles to the Romans; these being vnexercised, those hauing bin long indurat in wars. It were therefore to be wished, yt more accōpt were made of valiant men, yt haue long serued their prince, & country: in ye choise of yōg souldiers it is sufficiēt, if the former rules be obserued.