The Sham Fight by Anonymous

"Well, Jones,—who's gone?—any body?" This was the first question which the excellent hostess of The New Passage Inn put to the waiter, as she descended one morning, rather later than usual, to her breakfast. Jones replied, "Every body's gone, ma'am: two parties, and one single gentleman, went across in the boat, without breakfasting—"

"Without breakfasting, Jones! I hope they've taken no offence."

"Oh! no! I'm pretty sure of that, ma'am:—they went away very comfortable, on rum and milk."

"Rum and milk!"

"Yes, ma'am; glasses round, with biscuits."

"Oh! well! come!—And how did the ladies in number nine go?"

"In the yellow chaise; and the people in the back drawingroom, went with Tom Davis, in the green coach; and what with one and another, there isn't a turn-boy but Sam, in the yard:—he's got no chaise, you know, ma'am; and his hand-horse won't be fit to work, the blacksmith says, till Tuesday."

"Oh! well! come!" replied the hostess. "Then we've no company left."

"Oh! yes," said Jones; "one gentleman came over in the boat, this morning, too late for a chaise; and there's a traveller got down from Bristol, on horseback, too late for the boat."

"And where have you put them, Jones?"

"They haven't come in-doors yet, ma'am."

"What are they doing then, Jones?"

"One of them is throwing stones into the water, and the other is looking at him, seemingly, ma'am."

"Pretty amusement!" said the landlady, shaking her head as she peeped through the bar-window, and saw the two gentlemen, at a little distance from the house, amusing themselves as Jones had stated. The active party was a man advanced in years, stout and squat in person, wearing a profusion of powder, and having the appearance of a respectable tradesman. He did not seem to be aware that he was observed, and continued to exert himself very strenuously in throwing pebbles into the water; until the other traveller, who stood within thirty paces of him, burst out into a shout of laughter, which the tradesman no sooner heard, than he, naturally enough, turned about to see from whose lungs it issued, feeling by no means gratified at being made acquainted, in such a manner, with the proximity of a stranger. He slyly dropped two or three pebbles which he had in his hand; hummed the chorus of a song, very much out of tune; and assumed a pompous and important stride, which rendered him exceedingly ridiculous in the eyes of the stranger, who in vain attempted to control himself, and laughed louder than before. The tradesman now resolutely tucked up his sleeves and resumed his exercise. He had thrown two or three dozen pebbles among the little waves, when the stranger, to his surprise, approached, and, in a very handsome manner, begged pardon for the circumstance which had peremptorily obliged him to intrude with an apology. The elderly man protested that he did not understand the gentleman who thus addressed him:—"Sir," said he, "I know not why you should apologize, for you have given me no offence. I do not remember to have heard or seen any thing on your part, at which I could possibly take umbrage. However, if my hand were not dirty, I should be happy to offer it you, as I would to any military man in the kingdom: though you seem to have but lately reached the years of manhood, your weather-beaten face convinces me, sir, that you have seen service. If there's no objection on your part, I should be happy to join you at the breakfast-table. I've smelt powder myself; but I'll warrant, now, you would hardly have been keen enough to detect any symptoms of the soldier about me, if I hadn't let the cat out of the bag."

"Indeed I should not, sir, I must confess," replied the young officer.

"But," continued the other, "allowances ought to be made; dress is every thing, as our lieutenant-colonel used to say. Now, if it were not for that stripe on your trousers, your military cloak, and foraging cap—"

"It's very likely you would not have guessed I was in the service," said the officer.

"Exactly so," replied his companion. "But what say you, sir?—shall we breakfast together?—I'm a respectable man, and well known in most towns in the West of England. I travel in my own line, and do business extensively on commission, in old or damaged hops, especially in Wales, where I'm going the next trip the passage-boat makes."

"I can have no doubt of your respectability, sir," said the officer; "and accept your invitation very cheerfully."

"Well, come along then, my boy!" exclaimed the traveller, descending, for a moment, from his dignity of deportment; "and we'll have a dish of chat. Have you been abroad?"

"Yes, sir," replied the young officer; "I had the honour of serving, with my regiment, at Waterloo."

"Bless my soul! I'm very glad, sir—very glad, indeed:—there are two or three points, about which I have long wished to have my mind settled, relative to that business;—but I never yet had the luck of meeting with an eye-witness of the battle. Why, sir,—it's the oddest thing in the world, you'll say;—but at the moment you addressed me, I was thinking of Hougoumont, and the other places whose names you recollect, no doubt, better than I do.—And what do you think put it into my head? Why, I'll tell you:—as I was walking along, the waves, with their bold flow, surmounted by spray, with the sunbeams dancing about them, reminded me of a regiment of cuirassiers advancing to the attack: so, to get a better appetite, in the enthusiasm of the moment I metamorphosed myself into a battery, and began playing away upon them with pebbles.—Child's work, you'll say, and derogatory to the character of a man of dignity."

"I do not exactly agree with you, sir," said the officer; "great men have often indulged in the most childish amusements; we are told of one who caught flies, another who made himself a hobby-horse for his little family, and a third who enjoyed the frolics of a kitten:—on the authority of these, and many similar precedents which I recollect, there seems to be no good reason why a gentleman, who travels in South Wales, on commission in the damaged hop line, should not, in a moment of relaxation, Don-Quixotise on the basks of the Severn, by turning the waves of its rising tide into French cuirassiers, and pelting them with pebbles."

"Sir, I like your manner amazingly!" exclaimed the traveller; "and if you will take any little extra, such as a pork chop or so, with your chocolate—"

The officer interrupted his companion, by stating that he never took pork chops with chocolate; and immediately began talking about the battle of Waterloo, of which, during the walk to the inn, and while breakfast was preparing and demolishing, he gave the traveller a very animated and interesting description.

His companion, in return, volunteered a narrative of the most important military event he had ever borne a share in. "I allude," said he, "to the great sham fight, that took place eleven years ago, near a certain ancient and respectable borough, in a neighbouring county, at which I had the honour of being present, with a corps you have, probably, heard of, rather by the honourable and appropriate nick-name of 'The Borough Buffs,' than by the one which appeared on its buttons and orderly-books. There was not, perhaps, a more loyal association in the kingdom: we had not a single French frog on our uniform; which, although I say it, was one of the most elegant specimens of regimentals that has yet been produced. Our lieutenant-colonel was as brave and talented a volunteer-officer as ever wore a sword; and so much satisfaction did he give to his fellow-townsmen, or fellow-soldiers,—it matters not which, for they were both,—that a gold cup was presented to him at a public dinner, the very day before the sham fight took place, in testimony of the gratitude felt by the whole corps to their worthy and respected lieutenant-colonel,—whose name was Nickelcockle. The party consisted of all our own officers, and six or eight guests, who were attached to a division of a marching regiment, with blue facings, that happened to be quartered in the borough. Perhaps you never sat down to a more elegant dinner:—eatables excellent,—every thing that was expensive and out of season; wine of the first price; and the speeches any thing you please but parliamentary. That of our major, Alderman Arkfoot, when he presented the cup, was one of the neatest things I had then heard: but it was rather eclipsed by Lieutenant-Colonel Nickelcockle's reply; who, to his other gifts, added that of eloquence, in an extraordinary degree.—He was, indeed, an eminent man: ambitious, daring, and talented,—he had, as he frequently boasted, risen from the shop-board to be one of the greatest army-clothiers in the kingdom; and retired, in the prime of life, with a splendid fortune, and one daughter, Miss Arabella Nickelcockle, who is now the wife of a baronet.—But to return to his speech:—'Gentlemen, and brother officers of The Borough Buff Volunteers,' said he, 'this is the proudest moment I ever experienced since I have been a soldier.' At this early period of our lieutenant-colonel's speech, several of the officers belonging to the marching regiment, testified their approbation by crying 'Hear! hear! bravo! hear!'—'Gentlemen, and brother officers,' continued the lieutenant-colonel, 'my gratitude is immeasurable, and therefore, inexpressible.'—'Cut the shop, colonel!' whispered the adjutant, who sat on his right hand, and who, it must be confessed, too often prompted the lieutenant-colonel, both at our convivial meetings and on parade, to be quite agreeable: indeed, the fact was frequently noticed by the corps, and whenever the circumstance was broached, the parties who mentioned it, invariably sneered; which clearly shewed their opinion of the matter. The lieutenant-colonel was too good-natured by half, and took the intrusive hints of the adjutant much too easily; at least, in my opinion.—'Gentlemen, and brother officers of The Borough Buffs,' resumed the lieutenant-colonel; 'anxious as I am, at all times, to avail myself of the advice of our worthy and experienced adjutant, I cannot make it fit my own feelings to do so at present: he says, 'Cut the shop, colonel!'—Now, although I have retired, I cannot forget that I owe my present situation to trade and commerce. I rose, by my own merit, to the highest civil posts in the borough; and, brother officers, I also did ditto from the ranks of this corps to be its lieutenant-colonel!' Here the shouts of approbation were nearly deafening: the regular officers at the lower end, seemed, by their 'bravos!' to pay a compliment to the gentle-men-tradesmen, who were about them; and, no doubt, enjoyed the vexation of the crest-fallen adjutant, if one might judge by their laughter. Several glasses were broken; and one of the corporation took off his wig, and flourished it so enthusiastically round his head, that a shower of powder descended on the persons who sat on each side of him, as well as those immediately opposite. As soon as order could be restored, the lieutenant-colonel proceeded with his speech. 'Gentlemen,' said he, 'without any disrespect to our guests, I beg to say, that an armed citizen is the best of soldiers. And why?—Because he has his shop, his goods, his book-debts, et cetera, as well as his King and country to fight for.'—'Bravo!' and 'hear him!'—'I know that some of the wits, as they call themselves,—the opposition party of the borough,—and those who are out of place, I have always remarked, shew their wit much oftener than those who are in;—I say, gentlemen, that some of the outs have been sneering at the cup and its trimmings: they say that the handle of it looks more like a goose than a swan; which is, doubtless, a hit at my profession:—but to the utter confusion of the discontented wise-acres, for once in their lives they are right! I confess, much to the credit of the artificer, that it does look more like a goose than a swan. And why! Because, gentlemen—because it was intended for a goose!—It is, to my knowledge, cut out from an old Roman pattern, which, I presume, was originally made about the time when the bird I mentioned came into notice among the first circles, for having saved Rome, as you all have read in ancient history or elsewhere.' Major Arkfoot, who had manifested considerable,—and, if I may say so,—very unbecoming impatience, during the latter sentence or two, here interrupted the lieutenant-colonel, in a most un-officer-like manner, and flatly stated that he was labouring under a mistake:—he, Major Arkfoot, had been honoured with the orders of the committee, to make the cup, and he offered to pawn his entire credit, that the figure was intended for a swan; although, he confessed, there was a slight deficiency in the resemblance: 'but that,' said he, 'with the greatest respect I say it, lies at the committee's door: they spoiled the ship for a ha'porth of tar; if they had only given me the other five guineas, which I demanded, the bird's neck would have been at least an inch and a half longer, and so made all the difference.' 'Well, gentlemen, goose or swan,'—pursued the lieutenant-colonel; but before he could utter another word, several members of the committee rose at once, to address the major, who vowed that though its neck was rather abbreviated, it certainly was, to all intents and purposes, a swan; the officers of the marching regiment, at the lower end of the table, vociferated, 'A goose! a goose!' and Alderman Major Arkfoot, finding he had the worst of it, rose again, and roared loud enough to be heard, 'Well, gentlemen, as my dissentient voice does not seem to yield infinite delight to the company, without offence to the lieutenant-colonel, a goose let it be dubbed!' And it was so most unanimously. While the lieutenant-colonel endeavoured, as he said, to pick up the thread of his discourse, which had been interrupted in the manner I have mentioned, I cast my eyes toward the lower end of the table, and, truly, I never remember to have seen any gentlemen more cheerful at table, than the officers with the blue trimmings. The lieutenant-colonel next touched upon the important subject of the great sham fight, on the ensuing day. After describing the general appearance, the advantages and disadvantages of the field,—viewing it with a military eye,—he descanted at great length, on the importance of the post to which The Borough Buffs were appointed. It was a hill that rose almost perpendicularly from the bank of a swift brook, and was nearly inaccessible at all points except in the rear. 'Brother-officers,' cried the lieutenant-colonel, 'the gallant general who commands us, on this occasion, pronounces the post to be impregnable;—and I feel most grateful to him for the high honour of having entrusted its defence to the gallant corps of Borough Buffs under my command. We form, gentlemen, the right arm—the adjutant says, 'wing'—but I say, the right arm'—'Wing!' interrupted the pertinacious and very unpleasant adjutant. 'Well, the wing,'—thus the lieutenant-colonel went on; 'the gizzard-wing, of what are supposed to be the English forces:—our instructions are, to maintain our post against a regiment of breechless Highlanders; and I doubt not but that success will crown our efforts. Let not our renown be tarnished by the non-attendance of any of the officers or privates of the corps;—let not any man's wife or family, by vain fears, induce him to hang back on this occasion. It is the first time we have ever had an opportunity of distinguishing ourselves; and I pledge my word that there is no more danger than in an ordinary parade. The general, when he inspected us, did me the honour to say, that there was not a corps in the service whose accoutrements were cleaner, or whose coats fitted better. Brother-officers, let us prove that we fit our coats, as well as they fit us;—let us shew those who sneer at us for being tradesmen, that, if we do—as they say—if we do drive bargains upon parade, we can also drive the enemy in the field!' The applause which had been gradually increasing at every interval between the lieutenant-colonel's sentences, here reached its climax; the officers at the lower end of the table very freely joined in it, out of respect to the corps; indeed, the conduct of these gentlemen was exceedingly flattering on this occasion. But to continue:—'Gentlemen,' exclaimed the lieutenant-colonel, 'I know that your feelings match exactly with my own; but, remember, we have a keen enemy to encounter; we must, therefore, be as cool, as collected, and as sharp as needles. We shall be supported by two companies of infantry, who will take up a position, at a little distance on our left, and so connect us with the main line. The companies I allude to are of that glorious and gallant regiment to which our worthy guests with the blue facings belong: they, as well as a troop of yeomanry, which I expect will muster six or eight-and-thirty strong, will be tacked to The Borough Buffs and receive my orders.'—'Compose, with our corps, the division under my command,' muttered the adjutant But the lieutenant-colonel either did not hear, or would not heed him, and went on with his speech.

"'Gentlemen,' said he, 'I have only to repeat my thanks for the honour you have conferred on me;—to beseech the greatest punctuality, neatness, and despatch, to-morrow; and to drink success to the loyal and efficient corps of Borough Buff Volunteers!' The tumultuous cheers with which this toast was received, I will not attempt to describe. The lieutenant-colonel sat down very well satisfied with himself, as well he might, and everything went on amicably for above an hour; when the peace of the party was rather disturbed by a violent quarrel, between Alderman Major Arkfoot and Alderman Lieutenant Squill, one of the committee-men, relative to the goose or the swan,—whichever it might be, on the presentation-cup. Words, at last, rose to such a height, that Alderman Arkfoot—very indecently referring to connubial affairs, totally without foundation,—for I do not think any man, besides her husband, was better acquainted with the private life and domestic virtues of Mrs. Squill than myself,—most injudiciously, in his heat, called Alderman Squill 'a cuckoldy cur!' Alderman Squill asked, very warmly, 'what he meant by his double entendre?' And the corps might have been seriously disgraced, by an effusion from that feature whence no military man wishes to shed his blood, when the lieutenant-colonel, with that infinite presence of mind for which he has always been admirable in business, the council-chamber, or the field, rose up, and placing a hand on each belligerent party's mouth, who were sitting, or rather, standing, within his reach, and opposite each other,—called upon one of the officers with the blue facings, for a sentiment or a song. A tall captain, whose face, if I may presume to say so, was too ferocious to be genteel, but who had, I must needs testify, been very prominent in applauding the lieutenant-colonel's speech, immediately complied, and, with his victorious voice, soon vanquished the inimical and unsociable uproar at our end of the table, which ought to have set a pattern to the junior officers in the centre. But a good-natured gentleman's song or saying, often produces an effect very different to what the singer or the sayer intends; and this was the case with the ditty of the captain of the ferocious aspect and colossal voice. His burthen, or chorus, which he meant as a compliment to us, was turned into a sneer, by some who sat near the colonel, and who always felt sore even at a compliment on the corps from any of the regulars. The words of the chorus were, simply, as I shall here specify;—to wit,—as the law says:—

     'The Borough Volunteers, my boys,
     Are men both stout and bold;
     And when they meet the enemy,
     They scorn to be controll'd!'"

"For my own part, I felt obliged to the gentleman, and considered the expressions as highly gratifying to every member of the corps; but there were some about me who thought differently. They said, that the word 'stout,' in the second line, was palpably meant satirically, on account of the portliness of the greater part of the officers of The Borough Buffs; and that the two last lines were intended to be offensive, because the singer well knew that our corps, never yet having had the good fortune to be opposed to an enemy, could not possibly have exhibited its valour. There were two riders tacked to this reading of the lines; one of which was, that the words, 'They scorn to be controlled!' amounted to an impeachment on our discipline: the second, I recollect, went further, and broadly stated, that those words implied cowardice; and that, were the corps ever to be brought face to face with an enemy, we, The Borough Buffs, should, in our fears, so scorn control, as to shew our adversaries a regiment of heels! Alderman Arkfoot observed, that as we were all in regimentals, we ought to feel and act as gentlemen, and call the individual to an account for his obnoxious chorus; which, he doubted not, might be explained away; but for the honour of the corps, he thought it ought to be noticed. The lieutenant-colonel, and several others, were of the same opinion; and it was unanimously agreed, that the officer, with the ferocious aspect and exceedingly stupendous voice, should be hauled over the coals.—The discussion was held in a low tone of voice amongst ourselves, at the head of the table; we had arrived at that point, when men break into knots, and discourse in dozens, so that our debate was unheard and unnoticed by those who were below us. It was agreed that satisfaction should be demanded; and there the matter seemed to rest, or rather, to be dying away, for nobody volunteered to do the needful. At last, when another subject had been started, the adjutant mooted it up again, by saying, that we reminded him of the fable of the mice, who decided on putting a bell round Grimalkin's neck, but no valorous individual would undertake the exploit.—'Gentlemen,' continued he, 'that the officer at the bottom of the table did intend an insult to the corps, I have no doubt;—far be it from me to say we do not merit his sneers;—but that matters not; it behoves us to keep up a character, though we know we do not deserve it The gentleman must be spoken with. I should do myself the honour of presenting him with my card, but that it would be a high breach of military decorum for me to take precedence, in the business, of the lieutenant-colonel and Major Arkfoot; on either of whom I shall be proud and happy to attend on this most peremptory occasion.' The lieutenant-colonel and Alderman Arkfoot now thought they saw the expressions in rather a different light: they very properly animadverted upon the evil of bickering or quarrelling about trifles;—protested that a joke was a joke;—observed that the gentleman was their guest, and to-morrow was appointed for the sham fight; and, finally, began to joke and jog off, by degrees, to other affairs;—giving such a favourable colour to the matter, as they dropped it, as to excite my admiration and respect. But the bull-dog adjutant still persevered in pinning them to the point; and, in the end, positively drove our reluctant friends into a tacit compliance with his request, to be constituted the second of one of them in the affair. He would not speak to the officer with the ferocious aspect and blue facings on the subject at table, but said he should defer it until the party broke up. He then began to be horribly gay and loquacious. Melancholy reigned among the rest of us, at the upper end of the table, during the residue of our stay, and we wished our worthy lieutenant-colonel and Alderman Arkfoot 'goodnight!' with aching hearts;—blessing ourselves, individually and silently, as we went home, that we were not field-officers of The Borough Buffs. The adjutant, sure enough, spoke to the officer who had sung the song, that night; but the gentleman would give no satisfaction, and was so fastidious, as to refuse fighting either the lieutenant-colonel, the major, or, as he said, any other mechanical or counter fellow in the corps: but as for the adjutant, (who had served, I must tell you, in a marching regiment, and sold out,) he'd fight him with the greatest pleasure in life, because he was a gentleman. The next morning they met; our adjutant was attended by a one-armed lieutenant of the navy, because the friend of the officer of the ferocious aspect refused, like his principal, to meet any of us on the subject. Thus the adjutant dug a pit for himself; and none of us were more sorry than became us for it, except that it deprived us of his advice in the sham fight; for the wound which he received in the duel with the officer, although by no means dangerous, was sufficient to prevent him from leaving his bed for a week.

"The next morning, half the borough was in arms, and the remainder in an uproar. We mustered, at an early hour, in a large field, adjoining Captain Tucker's tan-pits; and only nine men and one officer did not answer to their names. The officer was Surgeon Tamlen;—he was obliged to remain in attendance on Lieutenant Squill's good lady, who was really of such an affectionate and anxious turn, that her forebodings lest the lieutenant should get hurt had so worked upon her nerves, that he left her with positive symptoms of fever. Nothing, however, could deter him from doing his duty; he felt satisfied that all her wants and wishes would be attended to by Surgeon Tamlen, in his absence, and joined us in very tolerable spirits, considering all things. I forgot to mention that, besides the defaulters, a third of the grenadiers were absent on some secret service, the nature of which we could not divine, notwithstanding the lieutenant-colonel winked very significantly when we noticed their non-appearance. Several ladies, in barouches and landaus, with buff favours in their bosoms and bonnets,—the wives and daughters of the officers and other leading men in the borough,—saluted us as they dashed along the road which bounded the field, on their way to the hill. Such a circumstance as a sham fight had not occurred in our neighbourhood within the memory of man; and every lady was, naturally enough, anxious to witness the interesting scene, in which her husband or father was to bear some conspicuous part. Precisely as the clock of the Borough Hall struck eight, we marched off, with drums beating, colours flying, and everything agreeable and auspicious. I must give the lieutenant-colonel the credit to say that, in our preliminary manoeuvres, as well as during the march, the officers and men were much more comfortable than if the adjutant had been with us; the latter being a man who was eternally finding fault, where no other individual in the regiment could perceive any thing to be amiss. After a distressing march of two hours and a half, along a dusty road, we reached the rear of the hill. There we halted for about twenty minutes, and then proceeded to mount the acclivity, all the difficulties of which we overcame, and on our arrival at its summit, were gratified by a prospect which fully recompensed us for our toils. The secret service on which the grenadiers had been sent was now very pleasantly palpable. Our excellent lieutenant-colonel, whose prudence and attention on all occasions, no words of mine can sufficiently applaud, had despatched, at day-break, two artillery-waggons, which he had requested for the purpose from the general, under convoy of our grenadiers, to the post we were to occupy. The first waggon contained thirty rounds—not of ball-cartridges—but beef, a strong detachment of turkies, a squadron of hams, a troop of tongues, and several battalions of boiled fowls and legs of mutton. The second waggon was garrisoned by hampers of wine, ale, and liquors; and plates, knives and forks, bread, cheese, mustard, and all the etceteras of the table, were billetted in the various crannies and corners. There was only one drawback on the delight which the appearance of so many good things produced:—the men, not having been made acquainted with the lieutenant-colonel's kind intention of ordering a cold collation out of our surplus funds, for refreshment after our intended repulse of the Highlanders, had each brought his dinner in his knapsack; or, where no private and individual provision had been made, messes were arranged, and every man carried his separate quota for the general good. For instance:—one had charged his knapsack with a beef-steak pie, another with a ham, a third with a fillet of veal, a fourth with a keg of ale, and so on. Notwithstanding this, we could not help admiring our lieutenant-colonel's foresight, in providing for our wants and comforts. It was certainly to be wished though, that he had not restricted himself to a wink or a nod on the occasion; and this was the chief mistake in judgment which he committed, much to his praise be it spoken, in the course of that arduous and eventful day. The ladies, who had left their landaus and barouches at the foot of the hill, were busy, on our arrival, laying out the refreshments in the most elegant and tasteful manner imaginable:—each dish was garnished by laurel leaves; and in the centre of the cloths, which were laid upon a part of the ground that was levelled and mown for the purpose, we beheld, as we marched along the flank of the collation, a device in confectionary, which excited the warmest approbation of the whole corps—officers as well as men: it consisted of a variety of expressive and appropriate martial ornaments, around which buff ribbons were entwined, supporting a splendid cage of barley-sugar, with a bird cut out of currant-jelly inside it, and a cap of liberty surmounting the whole!—We gave three cheers at the sight, and instantly prepared for action. But the colonel, with evident indignation and his accustomed dignity, reprimanded the corps in general, and two of the privates,—butchers and brothers, by-the-by, who were sharpening knives on their bayonets,—in particular, for this improper and very unsoldier-like ebullition. He pointed to the Highlanders, who were already forming for attack at the foot of the hill; and bade us remember that, in his last general orders, he had specially enjoined every officer and man in the corps to eat a good breakfast before he left home; so that no one had any excuse for being hungry these two hours. The grenadiers were ordered to fix bayonets in front of the collation, and the main body of the corps immediately obeyed the word of command to march. In a few moments we were at the brow of the hill; and there, in the presence of the Highlanders, and, indeed, two-thirds of the whole field, the lieutenant-colonel put us through as much of the platoon exercise as he thought fit. Only three muskets were dropped during the drill; and, at its conclusion, the lieutenant-colonel, Major Arkfoot, and the other officers who were picked out for the staff, rode through the ranks, diffusing courage and confidence, with small glasses of brandy, to every man in the corps.

"At length we heard the enemy's right wing opening a tremendous fire far away on our left; the lieutenant-colonel immediately dismounted, for his horse did not exhibit sufficient symptoms of discipline to warrant our commander's retaining his seat; and, at that moment, the Highlanders struck up a popular tune on their bagpipes, to which, on turning our eyes towards the munitions, we observed our fair ladies reeling it away, very elegantly, with the gallant grenadiers. On came the enemy, gaily, as if they were going to a wedding; but, wait a bit, thought we, they will look rather foolish when they come to the bank of the brook,—of which they really did not seem to be aware. We were all ready to break out into one universal shout of laughter at their surprise, and immediately to gall them with a tremendous volley of blank cartridge; when, to our astonishment, on reaching the bank, they marched into the water, and slap through it, without breaking step, or the time of the tune they played an their bagpipes!—Our lieutenant-colonel, as may very naturally be supposed, was totally unprepared for this; even though they did not wear breeches, he could not have foreseen that they would have marched above their knees in water, at a sham fight:—but he did not lose his presence of mind; he immediately ordered the drums to beat, the fifes to play, the colours to be waved, the whole corps to fire, and every individual, officers and all, to increase the noise of the volley, by a stout and hearty hurrah!—We had scarcely obeyed his orders, when the ladies set up a shriek which shattered every man's nerves in the ranks. We looked over our left shoulders at the sound, and, to our infinite dismay and amazement, beheld a body of Highlanders at our backs, advancing in double quick time, with bayonets fixed, to charge us in rear! The lieutenant-colonel, perceiving the critical posture of affairs, and ever alive to the welfare of the corps, ran round to meet the enemy; and cried, with all his might, 'Halt! remnant of the Highlanders! Halt! remnant of the Highlanders! Halt, I repeat!'—But the savage rogues, who had marched round the hill unperceived by us, while their comrades advanced in front, heeded the lieutenant-colonel as little as if he had been an oyster-wench, and still came on at a dogtrot pace; while the other fellows of the regiment, who had, by this time, nearly reached the brow of the hill, did the like, with loud shouts and fixed bayonets, as though it were a real, instead of a sham fight. At last,—the lieutenant-colonel in the rear, and Major Arkfoot in front, being actually within a few paces of their points—the lieutenant-colonel, out of a most fatherly regard for those under his command, thinking the matter began to be above a joke, and not knowing to what extent the terrific enthusiasm of the Highlanders might carry them, gave at once the word, and a most excellent example to all who chose to follow it, for retreating. Thus, we were compelled, through violence and a fraudulent ruse-de-guerre, which we were totally unprepared to expect in a sham fight, to leave our ladies, legs of mutton, turkeys, wine, hams, and other provisions, at the mercy of a rude and breechless enemy! One or two of our fellows, who could not get away, described to us, afterwards, the unseemly glee with which the hungry, half-starved Highlanders, sat down to our rounds of beef, boiled fowls, tongue, and other dainties and drinkables; and how soon these things disappeared before them. But what really irked and annoyed us more than the mishap and loss of our collation, was, that the ladies, for months after, vaunted the gallantry and politeness of the Highland officers, who,—confound them!—it seems, protested against the amusements of the fair ones being interrupted by their appearance; and, after devouring the lieutenant-colonel's cold collation, insisted, with the most marked urbanity, on our wives and daughters continuing their reels to the sound of the bagpipes, substituting themselves for the flying grenadiers. We heard of nothing in the town, for ten months after, but the gallant Highlanders and their handsome legs, and a dozen other matters to which husbands and fathers have solid objections to listen. Lieutenant and Alderman Squill had the ill-nature to say, that he felt exceedingly happy that his wife had been taken so very unwell that morning, as to be placed under the care of Surgeon Tamlen; and those villains, the epigram writers, in the poet's corner of our country paper, had the impudence to lampoon us, for leaving, as they said, our Dalilas in the hands of the Philistines. But we bore our taunts with manly fortitude; though, I must say, the fact is not yet forgotten in the borough; and the young ladies grieve, who were not old enough to be on the hill, with their mamas or sisters, when the gallant Highlanders, as they call them, routed The Borough Buffs.

"We retreated in such disorder as circumstances rendered inevitable for above a mile, when our wind failing us, we rallied. The line was no sooner formed than somebody proposed that we should lunch; the motion was carried unanimously, and down the men sat to devour the contents of their knapsacks: the lieutenant-colonel, Major Arkfoot, and the rest of the staff, advanced to the carriages where the ladies had left their provisions, under the laudable pretence of reconnoitring;—for field officers must eat, although they should seem to be above it, as well as privates. We occasionally heaved a sigh for the poor things we had left behind us, and determined to effect a rescue at all hazards; but none of us indulged in such unmilitary sorrow as to blunt the edge of our appetites, and we proceeded to lunch very satisfactorily. But another misfortune, which no human foresight could prevent, occurred to the corps while we were eating. We had very naturally concluded that the Highlanders would have remained content with obtaining possession of the post; or, at any rate, been retained by the attractions of the collation and the ladies; we, therefore, felt quite easy. But, strange to say, the fellows not only devoured our provisions, danced, drank, and sang, while we were retreating, but actually came upon us again before we could fully sacrifice to the cravings of nature. The lieutenant-colonel and the whole of the staff were taken prisoners, and driven off, under an escort of Highlanders, in solemn mockery, in the landaus and barouches, to our ancient borough; and we, who were now without an efficient leader, felt obliged to scamper—we scarcely knew where. We acted as a hive of ants, when their haunt is suddenly invaded by a ruthless brood of juvenile turkeys; each of us snatched up a gun, a knuckle of ham, a knapsack, or a loaf, no matter to whom it belonged, so that each individual was freighted for the general good, and away to go!—We had not proceeded far before we were overtaken, and our progress was arrested by the troops under the orders of the captain of the ferocious aspect, blue facings, and terrific voice. No sooner had he ascertained the situation of our affairs, than he assumed the command, and ordered us to halt, in a tone and manner that nobody felt inclined to disobey. The Highlanders, finding that they were not a match for us in retreating, had, previously, relinquished the pursuit, in favour of a regiment of cavalry, who came down upon us at full speed. The captain of the ferocious aspect seeing this, immediately drew us off into a field,—for we were now in an inclosed country,—and after commanding his own men, the yeomanry, and the centre company of our corps, to fly in the greatest apparent disorder, ordered us to draw up, with a quick-set hedge and a deep and very dirty ditch between us and the enemy. When the cavalry had reached within a few hundred yards of the hedge which protected us, the captain with the huge voice said, in a whisper which was heard from one end of the line to the other:—'The Borough Buff Volunteers will all lie down in the ditch!' This order spread consternation through the corps; but down we were obliged to go—in the filthy, abominable puddle and mire, lying in close order from one end of the ditch to the other, and fouling our regimentals in a manner that made us, collectively and individually, grieve in the most superlative degree. Anon, the cavalry came up,—little dreaming that we were lying in the mire and puddle,—leaped the hedge and ditch, in line, and scampered off after the fugitives. They had scarcely galloped a hundred paces, when the captain with the ferocious aspect ordered us to rise, form on the bank, and pour a volley, which we had kept in reserve, into their rear. The centre company, the regulars, and yeomanry, no sooner heard the report than, in pursuance of orders they had received, they formed and faced about for attack.—We then charged the enemy, in front and in rear at the same moment; and there being no outlet to the field on the right or left, the cavalry were completely placed at a nonplus; and had the business been a bona fide engagement, their position, as you must needs admit, would not have been altogether exquisite.—This manouvre of the captain with the blue facings and ferocious aspect retrieved the honour of the Borough Buffs; and we returned home with drums beating, colours flying, and great eclat, notwithstanding we had lost our field-officers, our ladies, our provisions, and possession of the impregnable hill."