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

Chapter VII
To the Quarter-Master

The standing maxim of your office is to receive whatever is offered you, or you can get hold of, but not to part with anything you can keep. Your store-room must resemble the lion's den:

Mulla te advorsum, spectantia, pauca retrorsum.

Live and let live, is also another golden rule, which you must remember and practice, particularly respecting the contractor for bread and forage; who, if he is grateful, will not forget your kindness: whence you may find it in reality a golden rule.

Observe the same with respect to straw and wood. It is mechanical and unbecoming a gentleman to be weighing them like a cheesemonger. When the soldiers are receiving straw for the hospital, order them to drop a truss or two at your hut in the rear. This will lighten their burthen, and make the task less toilsome. The same may be done with the wood for the hospital; and the sick, especially the feverish, have little need of fire in summer.

If the soldiers complain of the bread, taste it, and say, better men have eat much worse. Talk of the bompernickle, or black rye bread of the Germans and swear you have seen the time when you would have jumped at it.

Whenever any regimental stores are sent to the regiment, be sure to unpack them immediately, and seize upon the packages as your own perquisite. At the conclusion of a campaign take care also to secure the tents of the rear and quarter-guards.

When your regiment is ordered out of barracks, as you are the principal depredator, it will be necesssary for you to get out of the way first. Go off, therefore, the day before, under the pretence of providing quarters for the regiment; by which means you will get out of the barrack-master's clutches; whom you need not previously be at the trouble of settling with; but leave him to do it, as well as he can, with the quarter-master of the corps that is to march into the barracks.

You need not mind, whether the provisions issued to the soldiers be good or bad. If it were always good, they would get too much attached to eating to be good soldiers—and as a proof that this gormandising is not military, you will not find in a gallant army of 50,000 men a single fat man, unless it be a quarter-master, or a quarter-master-sergeant.

If the soldiers complain of the bread, taste it, and say, better men have eat much worse. Talk of the bompernickle, or black rye bread of the Germans and swear you have seen the time when you would have jumped at it. Call them a set of grumbling rascals, and threaten to confine them for mutiny. This, if it does not convince them of the goodness of the bread, will at least frighten them, and make them take it quietly.

If any good rum or brandy should be delivered to you from the commissary's stores for the soldiers, or wine (which might possibly happen) for the hospital, you should rectify what was certainly a mistake in the contractors, by appropriating it to your own use, and substituting some of an inferior quality—unless the commanding officer should insist upon this as his perquisite.

By so doing you will prevent them from becoming dainty: for should they once taste such choice liquor, it might tend to make them discontented with their common allowance.

Always keep a horse or two. It would be hard, if you could not have hay and corn enough to maintain them, considering how much passes through your hands.

When you go before the regiment to take quarters, be sure to get drunk with the quarter-master of the regiment that you are to relieve. Your quarter-master-serjeant may draw the billets, receive the store-rooms, &c.; and if he also should get drunk with his brother quarter-master-serjeant, it is no great matter: – let the soldiers wait; it will prevent their going into their quarters in a heat.

The quarter-master is considered as the steward of the colonel – You muft therefore be careful to discharge your duty like a good steward, who has such a regard for his master, as to extend it even to his servants; amongst whom, he does not forget himself; but, knowing the value of his own services, takes care to secure to himself a due proportion; merely that his matter may not be charged with ingratitude. You must on all occasions endeavour to inculcate the doctrines of witchcraft and inchantment: it will be difficult to account on other principles for the sudden and frequent disappearance of various articles out of your magazine.