Monday, 28 May 2012

Uncle Toby and the siege of Messina

Alas there is little remaining of antique Messina - and only the faintest of echoes of the Shandyian age on Sicily.  But some inspirations, and faint indirections, none the less.

"to say nothing of the train of little brass-artillery you bespoke last week, with twenty other preparations for the siege of Messina; believe me, dear brother Toby, continued my father, taking him kindly by the hand, -- these military operations of yours are above your strength; Generous souls! -- God prosper you both, and your mortar-pieces too, quoth my father to himself.2  111 Chapter XX11

Sunday, 20 May 2012

The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies

The Vauban and Shandy Blog is set to visit the island of Sicily - but will there be time to see anything of King Victor Amadeus II - and the War of the Succession - so eagerly anticipated by Uncle Toby and Corporal Trim...

"The draw-bridge being held irreparable, Trim was ordered directly to set about another—but not upon the same model: for cardinal Alberoni's intrigues at that time being discovered, and my uncle Toby rightly foreseeing that a flame would inevitably break out betwixt Spain and the Empire, and that the operations of the ensuing campaign must in all likelihood be either in Naples or Sicily—he determined upon an Italian bridge—(my uncle Toby, by-the-bye, was not far out of his conjectures)—but my father, who was infinitely the better politician, and took the lead as far of my uncle Toby in the cabinet, as my uncle Toby took it of him in the field—convinced him, that if the king of Spain and the Emperor went together by the ears, England and France and Holland must, by force of their pre-engagements, all enter the lists too;—and if so, he would say, the combatants, brother Toby, as sure as we are alive, will fall to it again, pell-mell, upon the old prize-fighting stage of Flanders;—then what will you do with your Italian bridge?— We will go on with it then upon the old model, cried my uncle Toby. “                        Volume 3                                                            

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Louis XIV - Outside In!

The Vauban and Shandy Blog had the pleasure of attending the Louis XIV seminar at the      Maison francaise d'Oxford.

Two lectures were of particular value - 'Popular English perceptions of Louis XIV way of war' by Dr Jamel Ostwald, and 'Francophobia in late Stuart England' by Prof Tim Harris.

And for all our Dearly Beloved friends of Uncle Toby (and the excellent Corporal Trim), there was discussion about why the French should be pilloried in the later wars of the Spanish Succession - for fighting behind works; when they had been so bold at Landen...

but then again; Steenkirk was a very different matter...

being a short study of the 'fire-fight'

Chapter XXI.

Corporal Trim, replied my uncle Toby, putting on his hat which lay upon the table,—if any thing can be said to be a fault, when the service absolutely requires it should be done,—'tis I certainly who deserve the blame,—you obeyed your orders.

Had count Solmes, Trim, done the same at the battle of Steenkirk, said Yorick, drolling a little upon the corporal, who had been run over by a dragoon in the retreat,—he had saved thee;—Saved! cried Trim, interrupting Yorick, and finishing the sentence for him after his own fashion,—he had saved five battalions, an' please your reverence, every soul of them:—there was Cutt's,—continued the corporal, clapping the forefinger of his right hand upon the thumb of his left, and counting round his hand,—there was Cutt's,—Mackay's,—Angus's,—Graham's,—and Leven's, all cut to pieces;—and so had the English life-guards too, had it not been for some regiments upon the right, who marched up boldly to their relief, and received the enemy's fire in their faces, before any one of their own platoons discharged a musket,—they'll go to heaven for it,—added Trim.— Trim is right, said my uncle Toby, nodding to Yorick,—he's perfectly right. What signified his marching the horse, continued the corporal, where the ground was so strait, that the French had such a nation of hedges, and copses, and ditches, and fell'd trees laid this way and that to cover them (as they always have).—Count Solmes should have sent us,—we would have fired muzzle to muzzle with them for their lives.—There was nothing to be done for the horse:—he had his foot shot off however for his pains, continued the corporal, the very next campaign at Landen.—Poor Trim got his wound there, quoth my uncle Toby.—'Twas owing, an' please your honour, entirely to count Solmes,—had he drubbed them soundly at Steenkirk, they would not have fought us at Landen.

—Possibly not,—Trim, said my uncle Toby;—though if they have the advantage of a wood, or you give them a moment's time to intrench themselves, they are a nation which will pop and pop for ever at you.

—There is no way but to march coolly up to them,—receive their fire, and fall in upon them, pell-mell—Ding dong, added Trim.—Horse and foot, said my uncle Toby.—Helter Skelter, said Trim.—Right and left, cried my uncle Toby.—Blood an' ounds, shouted the corporal;—the battle raged,—Yorick drew his chair a little to one side for safety, and after a moment's pause, my uncle Toby sinking his voice a note,—resumed the discourse as follows...