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

Chapter XVII
To the Drummer

By your profession you are evidently destined to make a noise in the world: and your party coloured coat and drum carriage, like the zone of Venus, or halter about the neck of a felon, makes you appear a pretty fellow in the eyes of the ladies. So that you may always, if not over-modest (which I must own is not often the failing of gentlemen of your calling), be sure of bringing off a girl from every quarter. After infecting her with a certain disease and selling her clothes, you may introduce her to the officers, your employments making a dependent on Mercury as well as Apollo. This will at least ensure you the thanks of the surgeon and his mate.

As it is necessary that a soldier should know all the uses of his arms, permit me to observe to you, that a drum and its appurtenances may, in the hands of a clever fellow, answer many good purposes besides that of being beaten on. Should a flock of geese or ducks obstruct your line or march, two or three may be safely and secretly lodged in it; and the drum case will hold peas, beans, apples and potatoes, when the haversack is full.

Whenever you fall in with a horseman on the road, you may try the rider's skill, and the horse's mettle, by beating the grenadier's march just under his nose. Should the rider be dismounted, and get his arm broken, or his skull fractured, it is no more than he deserves for not paying a due respect to your cloth, in taking himself out of the road; and, after all, it is not your fault, but the horse's.

Should you arrive to such a degree of excellence as to be appointed an orderly drummer, you may pass your time very comfortably; particularly if you have an old, and not very skillful major, as he will want your assistance to put the regiment through its exercise. But, in that case, don't fail to consider your own importance, and to take upon you accordingly: you may then bid defiance to the drum-major and the adjutant.

When you mount guard with an officer, put by half the allowance of coals. This is your undoubted perquisite, by usage for time immemorial; and the quarter-master-serjeant will help you to a chap to take them off your hands; or, at worst, you may exchange them at the canteen for liquor.

Never sweep the guard-room till the guard is just going to be relieved; the unsettled dust will prove to the relieving office, that you have not omitted that part of your duty.

All bottles, glasses, etc., brought with the officers' dinner, and left by mistake, are, as well as the remains of the provision, your property: and should a stray silver spoon happen to be amongst them, you may venture to take it into your protection, lest it should fall into dishonest hands.

When ordered to put the sentence of a Court-martial into execution, you will do it according to your opinion of the matter; and, if the prisoner should, whilst in custody, have treated you to a pot of beer, or to a dram, you know how to be grateful.

Should you arrive to such a degree of excellence as to be appointed an orderly drummer, you may pass your time very comfortably; particularly if you have an old, and not very skillful major, as he will want your assistance to put the regiment through its exercise. But, in that case, don't fail to consider your own importance, and to take upon you accordingly: you may then bid defiance to the drum-major and the adjutant.

You must inform yourself of the meaning of the different beats of the drum; and endeavour to conform to the original intention of them. Thus, reveiller signifies to wake. Therefore, in performing this part of your duty in garrison, you must continue beating, not only till you have awakened the sentinels and the officer of the guard, but also till you have roused all the neighbouring inhabitants.

When parading before the headquarters to beat off the troop, retreat, or tattoo, contrive, by bracing, tapping and trying your drum, to make as much noise as possible. This will serve to convince the commanding officer of your punctuality.

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