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of epidemic bravery, diffused equally through all its ranks. We can show a peasantry of heroes, and fill our armies with clowns, whose courage may vie with that of their general.
There may be some pleasure in tracing the causes of this plebeian magnanimity. The qualities which commonly make an army formidable, are long habits of regularity, great exactness of discipline, and great confidence in the commander. Regularity may, in time, produce a kind of mechanical obedience to signals and commands, like that which the perverse Cartesians impute to animals: discipline may impress such an awe upon the mind, that any danger shall be less dreaded than the danger of punishment; and confidence in the wisdom or fortune of the general, may induce the soldiers to follow him blindly to the most dangerous enterprise.
What may be done by discipline and regularity, may be seen in the troops of the Russian empress and Prussian monarch. We find that they may be broken without confusion, and repulsed without flight.
But the English troops have none of these requisites in any eminent degree. Regularity is by no means part of their character: they are rarely exercised, and therefore show very little dexterity in their evolutions as bodies of men, or in the manual use of their weapons as individuals: they neither are thought by others, nor by themselves, more active or exact than their enemies, and therefore derive none of their courage from such imaginary superiority.
The manner in which they are dispersed in quarters over the country, during times of peace,
naturally produces laxity of discipline: they are very little in sight of their officers; and, when they are not engaged in the slight duty of the guard, are suffered to live every man his own way.
The equality of English privileges, the impartiality of our laws, the freedom of our tenures, and the prosperity of our trade, dispose us very little to reverence of superiors. It is not to any great esteem of the officers that the English soldier is indebted for his spirit in the hour of battle; for perhaps it does not often happen that he thinks much better of his leader than of himself. French count, who has lately published the 'Art of War,' remarks how much soldiers are animated, when they see all their dangers shared by those who were born to be their masters, and whom they consider as beings of a different rank. The Englishman despises such motives of courage: he was born without a master; and looks not on any man, however dignified by lace or titles, as deriving from nature any claims to his respect, or inheriting any qualities superior to his own.
There are some, perhaps, who would imagine that every Englishman fights better than the subjects of absolute governments, because he has more to defend. But what has the English more than the French soldier? Property they are both commonly without. Liberty is, to the lowest rank of every nation, little more than the choice of working or starving; and this choice is, I suppose, equally allowed in every country. The English soldier seldom has his head very full of the constitution; nor has there been, for more than a century, any war that put the property or liberty of a single Englishman in danger.
Whence then is the courage of the English vulgar? It proceeds, in my opinion, from that dissolution of dependance which obliges every man to regard his own character. While every man is fed by his own hands, he has no need of any servile arts he may always have wages for his labour; and is no less necessary to his employer, than his employer is to him. While he looks for no protection from others, he is naturally roused to be his own protector; and having nothing to abate his esteem of himself, he consequently aspires to the esteem of others. Thus every man that crowds our streets is a man of honour, disdainful of obligation, impatient of reproach, and desirous of extending his reputation among those of his own rank; and as courage is in most frequent use, the fame of courage is most eagerly pursued. From this neglect of subordination I do not deny that some inconveniences may from time to time proceed the power of the law does not always sufficiently supply the want of reverence, or maintain the proper distinction between different ranks; but good and evil will grow up in this world together: and they who complain, in peace, of the insolence of the populace, must remember, that their insolence in peace is bravery in war.
OF THE INCONSTANCY OF THE BRITISH CLIMATE, AND THE ADVANTAGES OF HARDENING OURSELVES AGAINST ITS COLD.
I AM always heating about in my thoughts for something that may turn to the benefit of my dear countrymen. The present season of the year
having put most of them in slight summer suits, has turned my speculations to a subject that concerns every one who is sensible of cold or heat, which I believe takes in the greatest part of my readers.
There is nothing in nature more inconstant than the British climate, if we except the humour of its inhabitants. We have frequently in one day all the seasons of the year. I have shivered in the dog-days, and been forced to throw off my coat in January. I have gone to bed in August, and rose in December. Summer has often caught me in my Drap de Berry, and winter in my Doily suit.
I remember a very whimsical feilow (commonly known by the name of Posture-master) in king Charles the Second's reign, who was the plague of all the tailors about town. He would often send for one of them to take measure of him, but would so contrive it as to have a most immoderate rising in one of his shoulders. When the clothes were brought home and tried upon him, the deformity was removed into the other shoulder. Upon which the tailor begged pardon for the mistake, and mended it as fast as he could; but upon a third trial found him a straight-shouldered man as one would desire to see, but a little unfortunate in a humpback. In short, this wandering tumour puzzled all the workmen about town, who found it impossible to accommodate so changeable a customer. My reader will apply this to any one who would adapt a suit to a season of our English climate.
After this short descant on the uncertainty of our English weather, I come to my moral.
A man should take care that his body be not too
soft for his climate; but rather, if possible, harden and season himself beyond the degree of cold wherein he lives. Daily experience teaches us how we may inure ourselves by custom to bear the extremities of weather without injury. The inhabitants of Nova Zembla go naked, without complaining of the bleakness of the air in which they are born, as the armies of the northern nations keep the field all winter. The softest of our British ladies expose their arms and necks to the open air, which the men could not do without catching cold, for want of being accustomed to it. The whole body by the same means might contract the same firmness and temper. The Scythian that was asked how it was possible for the inhabitants of his frozen climate to go naked, replied, 'Because we are all over face.' Mr. Locke advises parents to have their children's feet washed every morning in cold water, which might probably prolong multitudes of lives.
I verily believe a cold bath would be one of the most healthful exercises in the world, were it made use of in the education of youth. It would make their bodies more than proof to the injuries of the air and weather. It would be somewhat like what the poets tell us of Achilles, whom his mother is said to have dipped, when he was a child, in the river Styx. The story adds, that this made him invulnerable all over, excepting that part which his mother held in her hand during this immersion, and which by that means lost the benefit of these hardening waters. Our common practice runs in a quite contrary method. We are perpetually softening ourselves by good fires and