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not pursued; complaining, that such a town cost more men and money than it was worth to take it; or, that such an opportunity was lost in fighting the enemy; they presently reprove us, and often with justice enough, for meddling with matters out of our sphere; and clearly convince us of our mistakes, by terms of art that none of us understand. Nor do we escape so; for they reflect with the utmost contempt on our ignorance, that we, who sit at home in ease and security, never stirring from our firesides, should pretend, from books and general reason, to argue upon military affairs; which, after all, if we may judge from the share of intellectuals in some, who are said to excel that way, is not so very profound or difficult a science.* But, if there be any weight in what they offer, as perhaps there may be a great deal, surely these gentlemen have a much weaker pretence to concern themselves in matters of the cabinet, which are always either far above, or much beside their capacities. Soldiers may as well pretend to prescribe rules for trade, to determine points in philosophy, to be moderators in an assembly of divines, or direct in a court of justice, as to misplace their talent in examining affairs of state; especially in what relates to the choice of ministers, who are never so likely to be ill chosen as when approved by them. It would be endless to show how pernicious all steps of this nature have been in many parts and ages of the world. I shall only produce two at present; one in Rome, the other in England. The first is of Cæsar: when he came to the city with his soldiers to settle the ministry, there was an end of their liberty for ever. The second was, in the great rebellion against King Charles the First: the king and both Houses were agreed upon the terms of a peace; but the officers of the army (as Ludlow relates it) set a guard upon the House of Commons, took a list of the members, and kept all by force out of the House, except those who were for bringing the king to a trial. Some years after, when they erected a military government, and ruled the island by major generals, we received most admirable instances of their skiil in politics. To say the truth, such formidable sticklers * can have but two reasons for desiring to interfere in the administration; the first is, that of Cæsar and Cromwell, of which God forbid I should accuse or suspect any body, since the second is pernicious enough, and that is, to preserve those in power, who are for perpetuating a war, rather than see others advanced, who, they are sure, will use all proper means to promote a safe and honourable peace.
* Swift, whose private and peculiar prejudices are often warped in with his political opinions, seems to have had a great dislike to officers of the army. See the character, introduced as an officer, in the humourous poem op Hamilton's Bawn.
Thirdly, since it is observed of armies, that in the present age they are brought to some degree of humanity, and more regular demeanour to each other and to the world, than in former times, it is certainly a good maxim to endeavour preserving this temper among them ; without which, they would soon degenerate into savages. To this end,
* The judges of the field in a formal duel, whose duty it was to interfere when the rules of judicial combat were violated, were called sticklers, from the wooden truncheons which they held in their hands. Hence the verb to stickle.
it would be prudent, among other things, to forbid that detestable custom of drinking to the damnation or confusion of any person whatsoever. *
Such desperate acts, and the opinions infused along with them into heads already inflamed by youth and wine, are enough to scatter madness and sedition through a whole camp. So seldom upon their knees to pray, and so often to curse! this is not properly atheism, but a sort of antireligion prescribed by the devil, and which an atheist of common sense would scorn as an absurdity. I have heard it mentioned as a common practice last autumn, somewhere or other, to drink damnation and confusion (and this with circumstances very aggravating and horrid) to the new ministry, and to those who had any hand in turning out the old; that is to say, to those persons whom her majesty has thought fit to employ in her greatest affairs, with something more than a glance against the queen herself. And if it be true, that these orgies were attended with certain doubtful words of standing by their general, who without question abhorred them, let any man consider the consequence of such dispositions, if they should happen to spread. I could only wish, for the honour of the army, as well as of the queen and ministry, that a remedy had been applied to the disease, in the place and time where it grew. If men of such principles were able to propagate them in a camp, and were sure of a general for life, who had any tincture of ambition, we might soon
Several of the officers in Marlborough's army had drunk damnation to the new ministry on their knees; for which General Honeywood and others lost their commissions. See Journal, vol. ii. p. 103.
bid farewell to ministers and parliaments, whether new or old.
I am only sorry such an accident has happened toward the close of a war, when it is chiefly the interest of those gentlemen, who have posts in the army, to behave themselves in such a manner, as might encourage the legislature to make some provision for them, when there will be no farther need of their services. They are to consider themselves as persons, by their education, unqualified for many other stations of life. Their fortunes will not suffer them to retain * to a party after its fall, nor have they weight or abilities to help toward its resurrection. Their future dependence is wholly upon the prince and parliament, to which they will never make their way by solemn execrations of the ministry; a ministry of the queen's own election, and fully answering the wishes of her people. This unhappy step in some of their brethren may pass for an uncontrollable argument, that politics are not their business, or their element. The fortune of war has raised several persons up to swelling titles and great commands over numbers of men, which they are too apt to transfer along with them into civil life, and appear in all companies, as if they were at the head of their regiments, with a sort of deportment that ought to have been dropt behind in that short passage to Harwich. It puts me in mind of a dialogue in Lucian, where Charon, wafting one of their predecessors over Styx, ordered him to strip off his armour and fine clothes
, yet still thought him too heavy: “ But,” said he, • likewise that pride and presumption, those highswelling words, and that vain glory;" because they were of no use on the other side of the water. Thus, if all that array of military grandeur were confined to the proper scene, it would be much more for the interest of the owners, and less offensive to their fellow subjects.
This mode of expression is now obsolete, though we still say retainers to a party.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 28, 1710.
Nam et majorum instituta tueri, sacris ceremoniisque retinendis, se• pientis est.
A wise man will protect and defend the rights of the church;
which, in spite of the malice of its enemies, although tottering, and on the brink of destruction, stands secure, to the admiration of all men,
WHOEVER is a true lover of our constitution, must needs be pleased to see what successful endeavours are daily made to restore it, in every branch, to its ancient form, from the languishing condition it has long lain in, and with such deadly symptoms.
I have already handled some abuses during the late management, and shall, in convenient time, go on with the rest. Hitherto I have confined myself to those of the state; but, with the good leave