Wednesday, 4 August 2010


The below book is interesting - giving descriptions to go with the Simpson plates. This one is quite poetic on the subject of Zouaves.

Winter indeed—and winter in an enemy's country ! Snow everywhere —snow in the sky and on the earth ; snow on the hills and in tho valley— on the fragile tent and on the substantial city ; snow on guns and guncarriages ; nay, even on the shaggy coat and dark capote of that grimlooking Zouave sentry, who seems to defy the weather even as he does the foe. Brave souls ! how many associations of glory and of mirth, of reckless daring and heroic contempt of death, of ready wit and neverfailing resource, of cheerfulness under privation, and gaiety under fire, of strange contrasts and quaint fraternizations with eccentric " insulars;" how many a reminiscence of camp-fire revelries, of furtive foragings and extemporaneous cuisines, dear to the heart of Soyer, spring up at the very mention of the name of Zouaves ! Methinks even now I see their strange yet picturesque costume, their ample beards and closely-shaven polls, their swaggering gait, their quick intelligent eye, their air of latent devilry, and look of epicurean insouciance. Who, that has once seen, shall yet forget the ever-varying humours, the salient characteristics, of these enfants gates of the French Army, who unite the contrasting qualities of the sons of civilisation and of the children of the desert—equally prepared with the bayonet and the repartee, the bullet and the bon-mot; at once the staunchest of friends and the sternest of foes, and always first in the fray and latest at the feast ?

Fair reader, your gentle bosom warms with the tenderest emotions of charity and compassion as you contemplate that solitary soldier, exposed to the harsh inclemency of the winter's night; but take comfort, a short space more and he will be relieved; a little while and the pot-au-feu will be removed from the blazing embers of the camp-fire, and, as he discusses its savoury contents in the society of a few of the choicest spirits of the regiment, cold and hardship will be alike forgotten amidst the enlivening strains of the chanson-a-boire, in which "Papa Nicholas" is relegated to a locality where the thermometer never falls within many degrees of zero.

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