Epistles of Faith

Letter LXVI

William Huntington (1745-1813)


To my beloved Brother in the Lord, greeting.

YOURS came to hand, and I thank you for it, as I am always glad to hear how the poor family of the Lord do; for my part, I am but poorly with a cold and the rheumatism in my head, which for some time has tried the not a little. Cough and shortness of breath have rendered my little cabin almost unbearable. These things often make drill, field days, reviews, the camp, and the field of action, irksome, and make me cringe and think of winter quarters, dismission from service, the king's Letter, or an Honourable pension: but instead of this am obliged to keep on, although I confess that at times my heart sinks upon a Sunday morning, as soon as the drum beats, at the thoughts of mounting guard, or doing duty at the Palace. However, the Captain of our salvation is often better to me than all my fears, and brings me sometimes through with such a high hand as to make me a wonder to myself, though at the same time I have thought that Iliad scarcely strength to sit upright, even on the baggage-waggon; at this momentary, timely, much-needed but undeserved and unexpected aid and assistance, I leave much wondered, and have gone on as if in the first campaign; but no sooner is it over but I dream of the surgery, or the hospital; and if I do in any measure survive this, still nothing suits me or charms me like that pleasing sound of "Go to bed, Tom;" and when I obtain this I am often interrupted with dreams or visions of a rout, or halt, or march, or a call to arms. Sometimes I fancy I am pursued, and my road so slippery that I cannot stand; at other times I am called to action without either arms or ammunition: sometimes I fancy my station on the forlorn hope, the most perilous station of all the besiegers; at other times I am giving the word of command, but alas, I am dumb; and when I order others to march, I myself wish to retreat. Lately I have been erecting the King's standard; I have been waving the banner, and beating up like one on a recruiting party; delivering the King's speech; promising new clothes, a large bounty, present pay, good quarters, invaluable and invincible accoutrements, certain victory, infinite spoils, and eternal honour: and at the same time my wicked heart rebelling and giving the lie to every word that my mouth has uttered. I often find, at this work, that I vainly suppose that not a few recruits have volunteered their services, and have seemed to join the young troops; but soon after, when I expect them at roll-call, one half are missing; some complaining of too much drill, and others of the difficulty of learning the manual exercise: and often in this recruiting business I have exceeded, I mean in spending more than the king's allowance, that is, I have feigned the bounty, when in truth the whole stock has been gone; this has brought me in short in my accompts, and this puts me under stoppages, one Halfpenny in two days, and hardly that. At this time I am catering, or hunting for forage; and often asking or taking French leave in a furlough; and even this has often confined me in the guard-house; and many heavy petitions have gone up before I could appear to enjoy the privilege of a prisoner, or the parole of honour: and what can you think of such a soldier as me?

W.H. S. S

William Huntington