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Chapter 6
The Crimp Waggon--Military Episodes
The covered waggon to which I was ordered to march was standing, as I have said, in the
courtyard of the farm, with another dismal vehicle of the same kind hard by it. Each was
pretty well filled with a crew of men, whom the atrocious crimp who had seized upon me,
had enlisted under the banners of the glorious Frederick; and I could see by the lanterns
of the sentinels, as they thrust me into the straw, a dozen dark figures huddled together in
the horrible moving prison where I was now to be confined. A scream and a curse from
my opposite neighbour showed me that he was most likely wounded, as I myself was;
and, during the whole of the wretched night, the moans and sobs of the poor fellows in
similar captivity kept up a continual painful chorus, which effectually prevented my
getting any relief from my ills in sleep. At midnight (as far as I could judge) the horses
were put to the waggons, and the creaking lumbering machines were put in motion. A
couple of soldiers, strongly armed, sat on the outer bench of the cart, and their grim faces
peered in with their lanterns every now and then through the canvas curtains, that they
might count the number of their prisoners. The brutes were half-drunk, and were singing
love and war songs, such as 'O Gretchen mein Taubchen, mein Herzenstrompet, Mein
Kanon, mein Heerpauk und meine Musket,' 'Prinz Eugen der edle Ritter.' and the like;
their wild whoops and jodels making doleful discord with the groans of us captives
within the waggons. Many a time afterwards have I heard these ditties sung on the march,
or in the barrack-room, or round the fires as we lay out at night.
I was not near so unhappy, in spite of all, as I had been on my first enlisting in Ireland. At
least, thought I, if I am degraded to be a private soldier there will be no one of my
acquaintance who will witness my shame; and that is the point which I have always cared
for most. There will be no one to say, 'There is young Redmond Barry, the descendant or
the Barrys, the fashionable young blood of Dublin, pipeclaying his belt and carrying his
brown Bess.' Indeed, but for that opinion of the world, with which it is necessary that
every man of spirit should keep upon equal terms, I, for my part, would have always been
contented with the humblest portion. Now here, to all intents and purposes, one was as far
removed from the world as in the wilds of Siberia, or in Robinson Crusoe's Island. And I
reasoned with myself thus:--'Now you are caught, there is no use in repining: make the
best of your situation, and get all the pleasure you can out of it. There are a thousand
opportunities of plunder, &c., offered to the soldier in war-time, out of which he can get
both pleasure and profit: make use of these, and be happy. Besides, you are
extraordinarily brave, handsome, and clever: and who knows but you may procure
advancement in your new service?'
In this philosophical way I looked at my misfortunes, determining not to be cast down by
them; and bore woes and my broken head with perfect magnanimity. The latter was, for
the moment, an evil against which it required no small powers of endurance to contend;