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THE MILITARY SPECTACLE.
I canna tell a', I canna a',
And they rode and they run,
And afore they were done,
old Border Ballad.
“GENTLE Reader," if you are young and imaginative, allow me to request, before you proceed, that you will not let these words “ Military Spectacle" carry your ideas into foreign parts, among battles, şieges, victories, and processions; for my tale has nothing to do with “ the pomp and circumstance of war." It contains merely the “ short an d simpl anpals” of an “ auld lang syne" Military Spectacle, exhibited, no one but myself knows where, by the nobody but myself knows what County cavalry, in honour of one of the birthdays of our late venerable King. I am thus precise in my narrative, lest some person or other should maliciously suppose it intended to convey an accurate description of any local military spectacle which may have been performed
THE MILITARY SPECTACLE. during the present reign. Forbid it, truth and justice! that a Sergeant in the Yeomanry should so indecorously and unjustly libel his civil-military brethren!
How well do I remember that 4th of June! I could almost fancy myself once more in that quiet country town, then in a complete uproar with men, women, and children, “ little dogs and all," assembled to see the sight. I could think I heard again the rich ringing melody of those church-bells, shrilly, and yet sweetly, overpowering all the din and dissonance of human voices. But I am getting sentimental, and so reader, instead of giving you my history from the mouldy stores of memory, I will just turn to my notebook, and transcribe for you what I wrote down two bours " after sight.” There—the ink is pale with age, but the sketch is vivid enough; for it was taken literally, and when I was young—“Ah, happy days! once more, who would not be a boy?”
I believe I am admirably fitted to be the historian of the shire Cavalry, because their evolutions are, in point of order and discipline, pretty much upon a par with my own. They entered the street with the order and regularity of a flock of geese making for a barn door. Some came in quick time, others in slow time, but the generality came in no time at all ;—the riders sat as upright as they are accustomed to do in the counting-house, and
the horses held up their heads to the full as well as when their necks are hampered by the cart collar. Not a few riders seemed frightened at their steeds ; many of the steeds appeared equally alarmed at their riders; and, to my thinking, the spectators had a very reasonable dread of both. I cannot describe the numerous and peculiar movements which they went through on that august occasion; for. it struck me as doubtful, whether they were taken from any military system at present existing, or whether they were invented for the especial use of the shire Cavalry, or whether they were not the especial invention of the shire Cavalry themselves.
At length, however, they succeeded in forming a straight line, i. e, one not entirely crooked; and in standing still, i. e. being in only occasional motion. There were servants, children, and underlings, on the house-tops, and in the attics; in the stories below stood shop-girls and professional ladies and gentlemen of all kinds : this class had been indulged with a little holiday to look at the soldiers, and they further indulged themselves with the hope that the soldiers would look at them. There were, I must admit, some really genteel, sensible people like my own party) who came for a lounge, for a laugh, but from no vulgar motive whatsoever. Others there were, who came from the pure, downright, determined love of sight seeing; matrons, neither few nor
small, staring and shouldering, and sucking oranges at the windows, very much like children at a puppetshow; and they thought the sight very fine, and they themselves were very fine-but it struck me there was a sad want of refinement altogether. The spectators were, however, too full of curiosity, and the cavalry too full of themselves, to have any attention to spare for the ladies,
I now hasten to the last, panic-striking, soulsubduing moment of letting the pistols off !--Really, in this age of inventions, it is a shame that some little natty contrivance cannot be discovered for discharging by proxy all the pistols and muskets of all the volunteer corps and yeomanry troops on public occasions! What an expense of nervous feeling would be spared alike to the heroes, and equally heroic spectators ! Up the rank rode the Captain, down the other side dashed the Cornet, as much anxiety on one face and as much confusion on the other, as if they had been school-boys on a reciting day. Up and down, and down and up they rode, charging the men before they charged, and, doubtless, giving them all the information they possessed themselves; but as the two officers were frequently lecturing the same man, one in his right ear, the other in his left, it is not surprisiog, that coming thus in opposite directions, the directions themselves should frequently have been opposite. Orders were rapidly succeeded by
counter-orders- but the previous habits of the corps led them to understand the counter ones best!
I could not hear the Captain's “ last words” distinctly as he rode up the rank, but his face was expressive, and I flatter myself I bave guessed them pretty accurately, when I give the following as a specimen. • My good fellow, when you fire take both hands.' - B. mind that lady's eye-glass.'_' C. my boy, the pistol in your right hand.'- Rose of love, hold your handkerchief to your eyes when you perceive the smoke, and here's my vinaigrette.'-'Surgeon, bave you lint and bandages ? - Cornet, bid the tailor, the tanner, the tea-dealer, and the tinman, fire up in the air, and not across the street.'— Gentlemen, of all denominations ! remember our fame-bright eyes are on you-bid faint heart farewell if any of you tremble, drop the bridle and cling to your borse's mane. (Sergeant, keep fast hold of my leg.) Gentlemen, again-courage-honour-glory and fire!'
How shall I describe that awful moment! the men sighed, the horses panted, and at last with an internal ‘now for it,' pop-pop-pop went the pistols of as many as could pull their triggers; the horses
reared, and pranced, and plunged, and ran forwards, . and fell backwards, and reeled sideways :
The pell-mell deepens ! On ye brave!
And halt with all your cavalry'