‘Wars and Rumours of Wars’: Among the Soldiers
Reflecting further on this ‘heavy-handed picture’, James observes that it is when he is ‘armed and mounted’ that the guardsman is at his most ‘picturesque’, and that on such occasions ‘I am sure to make one of the gamins who stand upon the curbstone to see them pass’ (9).2 Towards the end of ‘The British Soldier’, and its continuous lingering over the tidiness of the soldiers’ ‘accessories’ and the ‘brightness and tightness of uniforms’ (11), the ambivalent delights of soldiering are considered; but James fears that having ‘too many masters’ would weigh ‘heavily against the assured comforts and the opportunity of cutting a figure’. He then recollects
When, of a summer afternoon, they scatter themselves abroad in undress uniform—with their tight red jackets and tight blue trousers following the swelling lines of their manly shapes…it is impossible not to be impressed, and almost abashed, by the sight of such a consciousness of neatly-displayed physical advantages. (8)
KeywordsReligious Experience Scarlet Fever Moral Equivalent Wounded Soldier Military Exploit
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