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

Chapter I
To General Officers, Commanding-in-Chief

A Commander-in-chief is to the army under his command, what the soul is to the body: it can neither think nor act without him; and, in short, is as perfect a non-entity without its commander, as a wife is without her husband. You must, therefore, through pure good-will and affection for your troops, take care of your own sacred person, and never expose it to any dangers. You have not arrived at this rank without knowing the folly of knocking one's head against a post, when it can be avoided. When any service of danger is to be performed, you should send your second-in-command, or some inferior officer—but whomsoever you send, if he succeeds in the business, be sure to take all the merit of it to yourself.

You must be as absolute in your command, and as inaccessible to your troops, as the Eastern sultans, who call themselves the Lord's viceregents upon earth. In fact, a commander-in-chief is greater than a sultan; for if he is not the Lord's viceregent, he is the King's, which in the idea of a military man, is much better.

As no other person in your army is allowed to be possessed of a single idea, it would be ridiculous, on any occasion, to assemble a council of war, or, at least, to be guided by their opinion: for, in opposition to yours, they must not trust to the most evident perception of their senses. It would be equally absurd and unmilitary to consult their convenience; even when it may be done without any detriment to the service: that would be taking away the most effectual method of exercising their obedience, and of perfecting them in a very considerable branch of military discipline.

Ignorance of your profession is likewise best concealed by solemnity and silence, which pass for profound knowledge upon the generality of mankind. A proper attention to these, together with extreme severity, particularly in trifles, will soon procure you the character of a good officer.

You have heard that secrecy is one of the first requisites in a commander. In order, therefore, to get a name for this great military virtue, you must always be silent and sullen, particularly at your own table; and I would advise you to secure your secrets the more effectually, by depositing them in the safest place you can think of; as, for instance, in the breast of your wife or mistress.

Ignorance of your profession is likewise best concealed by solemnity and silence, which pass for profound knowledge upon the generality of mankind. A proper attention to these, together with extreme severity, particularly in trifles, will soon procure you the character of a good officer.

It is your duty to be attentive to the public good, but not without regard to your own, in your dispensation of favours. You must take care never to advance an officer above one step at a time, however brilliant his merit, unless he be your relation: for you must consider, that your ignorance in the higher branches of your profession can only be covered by the strictest attention to punctilio, and the minutiae of the service.

As you probably did not rise to your present distinguished rank by your own merit, it cannot reasonably be expected that you should promote others on that score.

Above all, be careful never to promote an intelligent officer; a brave, chuckle-headed fellow will do full as well to execute your orders. An officer, that has an iota of knowledge above the common run, you must consider as your personal enemy; for you may be sure he laughs at you and your manoeuvres.

A principal part of your duty is to see justice distributed among your troops. Military law being so summary and concise, you will not find this a difficult matter: but if, simple as it is, you should be entirely unacquainted with it, you may substitute your own goodwill and pleasure—and that; in fact, must be justice: for a Commander-in-chief is as infallible as the Pope, and, being the King's representative, he can do no wrong, any more than his royal master.

In distributing justice, you must always incline a little to the strongest side. Thus, if a dispute happens between a field officer and a subaltern, you must, if possible, give it in favour of the former. Force is indeed the ruling principle in military affairs; in conformity to which the French term their cannon, the ratio ultima regum.

Subordination being highly necessary in an army, you must take care to keep a proper distance, first between yourself and your secretary, then between your secretary and the general officers on the staff; and so on to the last link in the military chain.

Though you are not to allow swearing in others, it being forbidden by the articles of war, yet by introducing a few oaths occasionally into your discourse, you will give your inferiors some idea of your courage; especially if you should be advanced in years: for then they must think you a daredevil indeed. I would recommend it to you to make use of some oath or execration peculiar to yourself, in imitation of Queen Elizabeth and Captain Bobadil; as " I hope to be damned," or any other equally expressive of your future wishes or expectations.

Remember that ease and conveniency are apt to render soldiers effeminate; witness Hannibal's army at Capua. Never, therefore, let the troops have comfortable quarters; and as money, according to Horace, lowers a man's courage, be sure to cut off every emolument from your army, to prevent the impediment of a full purse. No persons will behave so desperately in action as those who are tired of their lives; Ibit eo quo vis qui zonam perdidit —and the more you pinch the army under your command, the more you may appropriate to your own use.

If you serve under a ministry, with whom economy is the word, make a great bustle and parade about retrenchment; it will be prudent for you, likewise, to put it, in some measure, into practice; but not so as to extend to your own perquisites, or those of your dependents. These savings are best made out of the pay of the subaltern officers and private soldiers; who being little able to bear it, will of course make much complaint of it, which will render your regard to economy the more conspicuous. And though your pay-master, or commissary-general, may touch more than the amount of all that you retrench from the body of the army, no matter, if you go snacks with them: the public need know nothing about it, if they are but snug, and learn how to keep their own secrets.

Should the duties bear hard on any particular corps, never attend in the least to their representations. Remonstrances are the forerunners of mutiny; and it is the highest insult to your rank and command to insinuate that you are not infallible. This rule, however, may be dispensed with, when the colonel or commanding-officer happens to be a peer or a man of great interest.

Be sure to give out a number of orders. It will at least show the troops you do not forget them. The more trifling they are, the more it shows your attention to the service; and should your orders contradict one another, it will give you an opportunity of altering them, and find subject for fresh regulations. You will doubtless soon learn what to do with the secret-service money. The gullibility of the ministers at home may perhaps induce them to believe, that this is all expended on spies, on gaining intelligence, and other public interests. So a part of it is, however small; but there are other services equally secret, and no less important to the Commander-in-chief, which must be supplied from this fund, especially if he has passed his grand climacteric. In this you cannot be said to cheat the public; for you give them the real state of the expense.

You should have a clever secretary to write your dispatches, in case you should not be so well qualified yourself. This gentleman may often serve to get you out of a scrape. You must take pains to to interlard your letters with technical terms, that neither the public, nor the minister to whom they are addressed, will understand them; especially if the transactions you are describing be trivial: it will then give them an air of importance. This is conformable to the maxim in epic and dramatic poetry, of raising the diction at times to cover the poverty of the subject.

In your first official letter you must ingraft a tolerable number of French words, though there be English ones equally apropos, to give people an idea of your military talents: but then you should take care to keep up the same spirit of writing, otherwise they may imagine, that your abilities and your language are exhausted together.

If upon service you have any ladies in your camp, be valiant in your conversation before them. There is nothing pleases the ladies more than to hear of storming breaches, attacking the covert-way sword in hand, and such like martial exploits. This, however, I only recommend at night over the bottle: it cannot be expected that you should be so valiant and bloodthirsty, upon mature deliberation, the next morning; that, indeed, would be murder in cold blood.

Nothing is so commendable as generosity to an enemy. To follow up a victory, would be taking the advantage of his distress. It will be sufficient therefore for you to show, that you can beat him when you think proper. Besides, giving your enemy too severe a drubbing may put an end to the war before you have feathered your nest handsomely, and provided for your relations and dependents.

When you have occasion to put into winter quarters or cantonments in an enemy's country, you should place your worst troops, or those you can least depend upon, in the out-posts: for if the enemy should form the design or cutting them off, though he would be the more likely to succeed in it, yet the loss, you know, is of the less consequence to your army.

When an inferior general is to be detached upon an expedition, be sure to send the most ignorant and inexperienced; for he stands the most in need of a lesson.

You should always act openly and fairly both with friends and foes. Never, therefore, steal a march or lay in ambush; neither should you fire upon or attack your enemy in the night. If you have read Pope's translation of Homer, you may remember what Hector says, when about to fight with Ajax: Open be our fight, and bold each blow, I steal no conquest from a noble foe.

If you are pursuing a retreating enemy, let him get a few days march ahead, to show him that you have no doubt of being able to overtake him, when you set about it; and who knows but this proceeding may encourage him to stop? After he has retired to a place of security, you may then go in quest of him with your whole army.

It will be your own fault if you do not make a fortune in the course of your command. When you come home, you have nothing to do but to enjoy otium cum dignitate. I would have you build a villa, and, in imitation of the great Duke of Marlborough, call it by the name of the most considerable victory you have gained. If you have gained no victory, you may perhaps have taken some town without ramparts or garrison to defend it; which, if it has but a sounding name, the public will give you as much credit for, as they would for Lisle, or Bergen-op-Zoom.

If you should ever be called into the service again, you will be too wise from your past experience to go. and expose your old bones in Germany, America, or the Indies. So I would advise you to get the command of a camp or district in old England; where you may enjoy all the pomp and parade of war, and, at the same time, be tolerably secure from those hard knocks, which your necessities impelled you to risk in your younger days.