Home > Uncategorized > George Farquhar: What induced you to turn soldier?

George Farquhar: What induced you to turn soldier?

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

George Farquhar
From The Recruiting Officer (1706)

farquhar

[Captain] Plume. Come, my lads, one thing more I’ll tell you: you’re both young tight fellows, and the army is the place to make you men for ever: every man has his lot, and you have yours: what think you of a purse of French gold out of a monsieur’s pocket, after you have dashed out his brains with the but end of your firelock, eh?

Cost. [Costar Pearmain) Wauns! I’ll have it. Captain — give me a shilling; I’ll follow you to the end of the world.

Tho. [Thomas Appletree] Nay, dear Costar! do’na: be advis’d.

Plume. Here, my hero, here are two guineas for thee, as earnest of what I’ll do farther for thee.

Tho. Do’na take it; do’na, dear Costar.

***

[Serjeant] Kite. An’t you a couple of pretty fellows, now! Here, you have complained to the captain; I am to be turned out, and one of you will be serjeant. Which of you is to have my halberd?

Both Rec. I.

Kite. So you shall – in your guts. – March, you sons of whores!

[Beats them off]

***

Wor. [Worthy] Why thou art the most useful fellow in nature to your captain, admirable in your way I find.

Kite. Yes, sir, I understand my business, I will say it.

Wor. How came you so qualified?

Kite. You must know, sir, I was born a gipsy, and bred among that crew till I was ten years old; there I learned canting and lying: I was bought from my mother Cleopatra by a certain nobleman for three pistoles, there I learned impudence and pimping: I was turned off for wearing my lord’s linen, and drinking my lady’s ratafia, and turned bailiff’s follower; there I learned bullying and swearing: I at last got into the army; and there I learned whoring and drinking – so that if your worship pleases to cast up the whole sum, viz. canting, lying, impudence, pimping, bullying, swearing, whoring, drinking, and a halberd, you will find the sum total amount to a Recruiting Serjeant.

Wor. And pray what induced you to turn soldier?

Kite. Hunger and ambition…

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