Advice to the Officers of the British Army
with the addition of some hints to the drummer and private soldier

Chapter IX
To the Chaplain

The chaplain is a character of no small importance in a regiment, though many gentlemen of the army think otherwise. Yet if you are not more successful in the cure of the soul, than the surgeon is in that of the body, I must confess your 6s. 8d. a day would be a judicious saving. You have such hardened sinners to deal with, that your office is rather an ungracious one; but though the officers and soldiers are in general irreclaimable, the women of the regiment may perhaps be worked on with better effect.

If you are ambitious of being thought a good preacher by your scarlet flock, you must take care that your sermons be very short. That is the first excellence in the idea of a soldier.

Never preach any practical morality to the regiment. That would be only throwing away your time. To a man, they all know as well as you do, that they ought not to get drunk or commit adultery: but preach to them on the Trinity, the attributes of the Deity, and other mystical and abstruse subjects, which they may never before have thought or heard of. This will give them a high idea of your learning: besides, your life might otherwise give the lie to your preaching.

At the mess always keep two plates; one for immediate use, and the other to secure a slice of pie, pudding, or other choice bit, that might vanish whilst you were eating what you had before you. This will be a very necessary precaution if you have many young subalterns in the mess; among whom those articles, like many other good things of this world, are extremely transitory.

You may indulge yourself in swearing, and talking bawdy as much as you please; this will show you are not a stiff high priest. Moreover, example being more effectual than precept, it will point out to the young officers the ugly and ungentlemanly appearance of the practice, and thereby deter them; just as the ancients used to make their slaves get drunk, in order to render that vice odious to their children.

Remember that it is your duty, in common with the adjutant, to report all the little scandal of the regiment to the commanding officer; whose favour you should omit no means to court and procure. This will set you above the malicious jokes of the young subalterns.

If anyone offends you by rivalling you in your amours, or debauching your girl, call him out to give you the satisfaction of a gentleman: for though the Christian religion and the articles of war both forbid duelling, yet these restraints are not regarded by men of spirit.

If you understand any Greek or Latin, take every occasion of introducing sentences of them, though they be as little to the purpose and as unintelligible as those of Partridge or Lingo: and if you should confound the lines of the Aeneid with those of Propria quoe maribus, it will not hurt your character for learning in the eyes of the officers: for it is ten to one that none of them understand a word about the matter.

As the articles of war are so very careful in protecting you from injury, you may presume a little upon it, in order to support the dignity of the clerical character: and if any of the officers should give you just cause of offence, as by laughing at you in your cups, or beating your dog, complain of the giddiness of youth, and of the little respect shown to religion in these licentious times.

If you are not already expert at it, it will be highly proper for you to learn to carve. This accomplishment has been from time immemorial a necessary appendage to the priesthood. Thus in former ages the priests used to cut up the lambs, goats, and other animals, that were sacrificed to the Deity upon the altar: but modern refinement has improved upon the practice, and now the churchmen are unanimously of opinion that the Deity is equally gratified with the savoury fumes of good roast and boiled.

At the mess always keep two plates; one for immediate use, and the other to secure a slice of pie, pudding, or other choice bit, that might vanish whilst you were eating what you had before you. This will be a very necessary precaution if you have many young subalterns in the mess; among whom those articles, like many other good things of this world, are extremely transitory.

Should you want to provide yourself with a deputy, be not over scrupulous respecting his character or morals. It would be a pity that he should be well disposed; for he would be sure soon to get spoiled among the officers. It is not necessary even that he should understand English: for, as they never listen to his harangues, any other language, or compound of languages, whether Cambrian, Erse, French, or Irish, will answer just the same purpose.

When any old campaigners bore the mess with their long stories of marches or battles, be sure to retort upon them with a history of your exploits at college—of the desperate combats you have had with the raffs, the sweating you were obliged to go through in the pig-market, and your hair-breadth escapes from the proctor's clutches—and though you may never have been at college at all, yet you must not fail to make people believe that you have taken a master's degree at least in one of the universities.

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