(Published in The Scots Magazine, vol. 43 (1781), April, p. 215)
Whoever taught you first to fight,|
I like their mode, and think it right,
But am convinc'd your better rules
Were never learn'd in modern schools,
Because your mind you cannot bring
To what is call'd manoeuvring;
But I can tell you for your comfort,
Altho' you'll never shew your bum for't,
Nor turn your back on certain glory,
As H[owe] and K[eppe]l did before ye;
Applauses due we ne'er shall pay,
Unless you fight to run away.
You sure must know, or else I'll teach ye,
(Attend me here, Sir, I beseech ye),
That none are prais'd our foes for banging,
But only such as merit hanging;
And therefore you are much to blame
For thinking you'll acquire great fame;
Because, when cowards make a fuss,
True valour must be infamous.
Fighting was once a British passion,
But most things change, and so does fashion;
Last war sky rockets pierc'd the skies,
For foes distress'd, and victories;
But now our windows blaze from far,
To shew our foes triumphant are;
Make a retreat, or make a fight on't,
Our politicians will make light on't,
Sir, if you wish for reputation,
Do all you can to hurt the nation;
Alarm your foes with fifes and drumming,
And let them know that you are coming;
The man is always prais'd who flies 'em,
You'll sure be d[amn']d if you surprise 'em.
Whether you fight on sea or dry land,
Observe Sir William at Long island;
Ne'er force their lines, nor think of beating,
Nor e'er prevent them from retreating.
From K[eppe]l prudent maxims borrow,
And trim 'em handsomely -- to-morrow.
Oppose your conscience and conviction,
And men will praise for contradiction.
But if you imitate the Swede*,
Or fight pell-mell like Diomede,
Pursue your foes, and never mind 'em,
And rout 'em wheresoe'er you find 'em;
For censure you'll afford a handle
And will be curs'd, bell, book and candle.
* Charles XII [ back ]
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