The Military Adventures of Johnny Newcome / With an Account of his Campaign on the Peninsula and in Pall Mall

The Military Adventures of Johnny Newcome / With an Account of his Campaign on the Peninsula and in Pall Mall

David Roberts
David Roberts

Author: Roberts, David, 1757-1819
Peninsular War
1807-1814 — Poetry
The Military Adventures of Johnny Newcome
With an Account of his Campaign on the Peninsula and in Pall Mall

‘He jests at Scars, who never felt a Wound’


Starting to join his Regiment.




This Issue is founded on the original Edition printed for Patrick Martin in the year 1816.



I shall, I trust, be acquitted of any servile view, when, in dedicating this humble Essay to the Subalterns of the British Army, I adopt the only means in my power of shewing how much I honour and admire them.

I have the honour to be,
With the greatest respect,
Your most obedient Servant,

The Author.


  • Note
  • Dedication
  • List of the Plates
  • The Military Adventures of Johnny Newcome
    • Part I
    • Part II
  • Sequel to the Military Adventures of Johnny Newcome
    • Part I
    • Part II


Starting to join his Regiment To face the Title
Johnny Newcome going to lay in Stock To face p. 36
Getting into his Billet 41
Taking his Breakfast 49
Introduced to his Colonel 62
Smells powder for the first time 76
Half Rations 78
Johnny writes an account of the Action to his Mother, which afterwards appears in the Star 79
Learning to Smoke and drink Grog 80
Poor Johnny on the sick List 83
Going Sick to the Rear 85
Johnny safe returned to his Mama 94
Dash’d with his Suite for Santarem that Night 152
Johnny on Duty with his Chief 158
Presenting the Trophies 236


On Ludgate Hill, a traveller may see
John Newcome, Grocer, No. Fifty-three;
Now, sober reader, don’t turn up your nose,
But profit by the truths I shall disclose.
The Newcome family, you may believe,
Straitways descended from good Madam Eve;
Adam, a Newcome, when in Paradise,
The wily serpent did Dame Eve entice
To touch forbidden fruit; and to his shame,
Poor Adam Newcome slily did the same:

For this, from Paradise they soon were hurl’d,
And thus Cain Newcome came into the World.
’Twould be an endless job were I to trace
All the descendants of the Newcome race:
Let it suffice that I curtail my rhymes,
To scenes connected with the present Times.
Widely extended is the Newcome Name,
Some scoff’d for Folly, some renown’d for Fame;
Did we in Foreign Courts but look askance,
We find they’ve play’d the very Devil in France.
Each in his turn assum’d the Sovereign Sway,
’Till Boney Newcome drove them all away;
Mighty in deeds, his Mighty power evinces,

And makes his tribes of Newcomes Kings and Princes.
Louis to Holland went with State Regalia,
And silly Jerome king’d it at Westphalia:
Poor foolish Joe went slily into Spain,
But Paddy Newcome whipt him out again.
Ah! Honey, that’s a Newcome, if you please,
Makes Boney tremble in his Thuilleries.
His fame—but, let me onward with my story,
My humble rhymes would only mock his Glory.
In London Newcomes every where are seen,
Newcome’s a Lord, a General, Knight or Dean—
Newcomes, where’er you go, you’re sure to meet,
The Park, the Playhouse, or St. James’s Street.

Amongst our Quality, you’ll find a few,
And Carlton House has got its Newcome too.
At both the Universities you find ’em,
But in such numbers that they never mind ’em.
In all Professions, Lawyers, Fiddlers, Bards,
Lots in the Line, and many in the Guards.
This leads me to the subject of my story,
Tho’ first I thought it right to lay before ye,
By way of preface, or of introduction,
Or, if you please, a smattering of instruction;
Go as you will, no matter when, or where,
You’re sure to see a Johnny Newcome there.
Now this same Grocer was a man of weight,
Eat turtle soup, and talked of Church and State,—

For twenty years had bustled well through life,
Blest with one son by Doll his loving Wife:
The Youth, a lankey, awkward, shuffling Blade,
Bred by the old ones to pursue the Trade,
School’d by Mamma, who thought all learning stuff,
‘Young John will have the Cash, and that’s enough.’
By Martial ardour fired, John scorn’d to stop
And retail sugar in his father’s Shop!
In spite of Daddy’s wrath, and Mother’s tears,
Strutted an Ensign in the Volunteers;
But the good souls were quickly reconcil’d
In admiration of their darling Child.
Old Johnny seem’d afraid he’d be too rash,

But Mother doated on the Sword, and Sash.
Soon Johnny grew ambitious of renown,
And sigh’d to flourish in some Country Town;
In some Militia Corps, at distant Quarters,
Act the Lothario with the Wives and Daughters.
Money, or Interest, never-failing friends,
Soon did the job, and Johnny gain’d his ends.
Translated then to a Militia Beau,
Dear, lively Captain Newcome’s all the go!
Sports a gay Curricle and pair of Tits,
Damns smokey London, and the frowsy Cits;
With ardour talks of Marches, Camps, and Fight;
Such scenes as these would be his soul’s delight.

At length, one day, his spirits flush’d with Wine,
Johnny resolved to go into the Line;
Writes to Mamma a coaxer to Petition
She’d make his Father buy him a Commission.
The doating Mother dwells with anxious pause,
Ere she could send her darling to the Wars.
But as she’d ne’er refused him what he wanted,
She paid the Cash, and his request was granted:
Soon now the Official letter made it known
That Ensign Newcome, Fourth or the King’s Own,
Would on receipt immediately go,
And quick present himself at the Depôt.
What thrilling tumults in his bosom came
To see amongst the Regulars his name!

So dash’d away in wondrous haste and pother,
To take a flying leave of Dad and Mother.
A soldier bold, now Johnny vaunts and vapours,
Anticipates his name in London papers.
‘From admiration we cannot refrain,
‘The gallant Ensign Newcome’s going to Spain;
‘To shew our gratitude we don’t dissemble,
‘Heroes like him must make Massena tremble.’
Or, should a Battle ease him of his breath,
His Name’s recorded in the list of Death;
The Mortuum Caput then they thus would fill,
‘Died Ensign Newcome, late of Ludgate Hill—
‘Of twenty wounds receiv’d in an attack,

‘All in his front, he scorn’d to turn his back.
‘This sad event will be a grievous blow, Sir,
‘To Johnny Newcome, Alderman and Grocer.’1
Young John was well aware to what extent
To purchase fame a golden guinea went;
At all the Shops where characters were sold,
He could be made a Hero for his gold;
A valiant Hero then at any rate,
Our John resolv’d to be or soon, or late.
An Order now arriv’d at the Depôt,
‘That Ensign Newcome should to Hilsea go.’

Altho’ John relish’d not these hasty ways,
He bolted off to Hilsea in a chaise;
And then a Note was handed to our Spark,
‘That without loss of time he should embark.’
‘Upon my soul,’ says John, ‘this is no jest,
‘They won’t allow a man a little rest.’
Boxes and trunks were cramm’d into a Boat,
And Johnny Newcome found himself afloat.
John star’d with wonder when he got on Board,
To see himself surrounded by the Flood.
The rapid movements so confused his head,
He knew not what he did, nor what he said;
Had not his appetite, which never fail’d him,
With certain griping, knawing hints assail’d him:
For John to certain forms was true, and steady,

So eager ask’d when dinner would be ready?
‘Dinner2 I’ll warrant,’ says a churlish Elf,
‘If you want dinner, pray provide yourself;
‘You’ll get no dinner here, ’tis not the fashion,
‘We only find you Cabin, Berth, and Ration!’
‘Damme,’ says John, ‘is this your Transport way?
‘What starve a body?—rot me if I stay!’
John’s resolution now began to shake;
Did he for this his happy home forsake?

A brother Sub seeing Johnny so distrest,
Said, ‘Come, Sir, let us council for the best;
‘Money you have no doubt, and as ’tis fine
‘Let us together go on shore to dine—
‘Buy what we want, and send it to the Ship,
‘Nor ask a favour of this Savage Rip.’
John liked the offer—shook him by the hand—
Jump’d in the Boat, and off they made for Land;
Din’d, drank their Bottle, and in merry glee
Purchas’d their Stock, and went next day to Sea.
But now friend John, when tossing on the Ocean,
Felt his poor bowels in a strange commotion;

Grew serious, then grew sick, and hung his head,
Reach’d, grunted, groan’d, and stagger’d to his bed;
A prey to sorrow, sickness, and dejection,
Restless he lay, imbitter’d with reflection—
Curs’d his own folly—had he but his will,
He’d sooner retail figs on Ludgate Hill.
Poor John thus lay, till by propitious blast,
The ready Anchor’s in the Tagus cast.
Now motionless the Ship, the sickness flew,
His wondering eyes successive objects drew.
Saw the proud Tagus in smooth torrent Flow,
Greeting fair Lisbon, with its breast of Snow;
Saw Churches, Convents, o’er each other rise,
With stern devotion tow’ring to the Skies.

Our youthful Hero now we introduce,
Deck’d off in Uniform, and fiercely spruce,
With Hat of Wellington, stuck fore, and aft,
And crimson sash tied carelessly abaft.
Black Stock, Reg’mental Sword, and natty Spurs—
Without the latter there’s no Hero stirs.
Spurs3 to a gallant youth are things of course,
To make folks fancy he has got a Horse;
But as in this, opinions may divide,

Yet all must think the gallant Youth can ride;
Thus gay equipt, his bosom proudly swelling,
Seeks the Town-Major’s Office, or his Dwelling.
Now see him strutting through the sultry Streets,
Staring with all his eyes, at all he meets;
Bald-headed Friars, Ladies, hid in Veils,
Postboys with huge cock’d Hats, and monstrous Tails.
John thought they seem’d a motley group of quizzes,
With lankey jaws, black brows, and dingy phizzes.
Now reach’d the Office, in he boldly bounc’d,
And with erected front himself announc’d;
When a Staff-Officer, with a stately look,

A sort of frowning survey of him took:
‘Pray who are you?’ was pompously demanded:
‘I’m Ensign Newcome, and from England landed.’4
‘To Belem go, where orders you’ll receive;
‘Write down your Name, Sir, and then Lisbon leave.’
John bolted out, saying ‘Damme what a Beast,
‘I reckon he’s a General at least:
‘O rot this Soldier’s life, the Devil’s in it,
‘They will not let a body rest a minute;
‘I’m fairly sick of it, and so I’ll tell ’em.
‘I say, my friend, is this the way to Belem?’

Senhor,’ with shoulders shrugged, ‘no, no, intende.’5
‘No, in ten day! if I go there,’ says John, ‘the Devil mend me.’
A British Soldier, who was near at hand
Said, ‘Sir, our Lingo he don’t understand:
‘’Tis but three Miles, strait forward if you please,
‘There’s no use axing them there Portuguese.’
John travell’d on—but soon he slack’d his pace,
The scorching Sun came full upon his face.
‘O d——n their Climate, here’s a pretty rig,—
‘Curse me if I’m not sweating like a Pig.
‘Could I but once get home, they soon should see,

‘The Devil might have all Portugal for me.’
Grumbling and Mopping, John at length contrives,
And at the Belem Barracks6 he arrives.
But Johnny’s spirit now was softened down,
He tremulously ask’d for Captain Brown;

Announc’d himself once more, and begg’d to know
What were his Orders? where was he to go?
The Commandant observing John was heated,
Mildly requested that ‘he would be seated.’
John’s spirits had been sinking in the wane,
But thus encouraged soon revived again.
‘Why really, Sir, this service in the Line,
‘At home we reckon to be monstrous fine;
‘But since I was Gazetted, I’ll declare
‘A single moment I’ve not had to spare.’
The Captain smil’d to see poor John so sore,
And kindly said, ‘You’ll dine with me at four:
‘In the mean time, as things to you are new,

‘The Adjutant will tell you what to do.
‘Here, Orderly! step to the barrack-yard,
‘And say I wish to speak with Mr. Ward.
‘But cool yourself, and then your Billet seek;
‘I mean to keep you here at least a Week.’
John’s heart was soft—thus taken by surprize,
He felt a sort of twinkling in his eyes;
He falter’d, stammer’d, felt himself distrest,
In vain his gratitude would have exprest;
When busy, bustling Ward attends his chief,
Broke up the conference, to John’s relief.
Ward introduced, did Johnny kindly greet
(His was a heart we do not often meet);
Now arm in arm, they travell’d down the Stairs,
John found his spirits, and forgot his cares.

Tho’ truly kind was Ward, yet be it known
He was himself a Sub in the King’s Own.
A Billet7 got, the Serjeant mark’d the Door,

They took a Boat, and brought the Trunks on Shore.
‘So now,’ says Ward, ‘I always work by rule,
‘The first thing you must purchase is a Mule;
‘And if you’re flush of cash, why then, of course,
‘The next thing you must purchase is a Horse.’
‘A Servant have you got?’ John answered, ‘No.’
‘Well, well,’ says Ward, ‘there’s one I think I know;
‘An honest fellow, who ’twixt you and me,
‘Is just the sort of Man, you will agree.
‘A D——n’d good Fellow, but I rather think,
‘He now, and then, will take a drop of drink;

‘But otherwise, good-humour’d, sharp, and civil,
‘John Bull will drink, but fight like any Devil;—
‘Paddy, and Sawney Scot are just the same—
‘Here, Serjeant, tell me what’s the Fellow’s name?
‘’Tis Teague O’Connor, him I recommend,
‘He’ll suit you famously, my worthy Friend.’
So Teague was then install’d Valet, and Groom,
And sent to set to rights his Master’s Room.
As dinner-time approach’d, Ward bid him stay,
He’d home to dress, and take him on his way;
And John, rigg’d out in his Best Coat and Feather,

Waited for Ward, and off they went together.
The Commandant, with every wish to please,
Scouted those chilling forms that banish’d ease;
Tho’ plac’d in Power, Dignity, and Trust,
Was kind to all, and to the Service Just.
The dinner o’er, the festive glass did flow,
John found himself a little queer or so;
Felt too, a sort of swimming in his head,
So stole away, resolved to go to bed.
When oft to write a Book we undertake,
If from the subject we a circuit make,
Some apt allusions may our minds engage,
Perchance for profit, to swell out our Page;
The little I may venture to intrude,
I introduce, by way of Interlude.
Your mercy then, good Critics, I entreat,
Mine is a sort of stuffing to my Meat;

Something of Foreign matter I must tell,
Or this my tale will not go down so well.
In every Country there are customs known,
Which they preserve exclusively their own.8
The Portuguese, by some odd whims infected,

Have Cloacina’s temple quite rejected;
How they arrange their Worship, we shall know,
By the disaster that befel our Beau.
Our Hero gaily sporting out a Song,
And cutting angles as he glid along,
Some Damsel, heedlessly, from upper floor,
Pandora’s incense on his head did pour.
Drench’d, buffeted, he had no time to think,
Saluted by a compound of such Stink;
Smother’d all over by the filthy souse,
He reach’d his heart up, ere he reach’d his House.
Teague, by his Master’s nasty figure struck,
Dryly, ‘He wished him joy of his good luck’;
Then seiz’d a Tub, and with assiduous care,
With water wash’d the ordure from his hair.

‘Here, prythee, ease me of my Hat and Coat;
‘O C——t! the filthy stuff’s gone down my throat.
‘O curse them, and their beastly, D——n’d emulsions;
‘O Lord! my wretched guts are in convulsions!
‘Give me a Dram. ’Od rot the nasty Vixen,
‘She’s ruined my best Coat, with her d——n’d Mixen.’
Now scour’d, and sweeten’d, Johnny whining said,
‘O Teague, I’m horrid sick, shew me to Bed.’
Teague spread the folded Blanket in a crack,
And for a Pillow, placed his own Knapsack.

Astonished John his Servant’s conduct viewing,
In trem’lous accents ask’d what he was doing?
‘O, no great matter, Sir,’ replies O’Connor,
‘I’m making up your Bed, an’ plase your honour.’
‘A Bed for me!’ says John, half chok’d with rage,
Says Teague, ‘You’ll soundly sleep there, I’ll engage.’
Poor John, exhausted now, and sighing deep,
In sadness stretch’d himself, and groan’d to sleep.
Scarce had the Sun arose in all his glory,
Ere Johnny flew to Ward to tell his story.
‘Alas! dear Ward, ’tis fact what now I tell ye,
‘My wretched bones are jumbled to a jelly.

‘Then there’s my best Reg’mentals all bedevil’d
‘By that D——n’d Stink-pot which at me was levell’d.’
Ward felt an interest in his friend’s behalf,
But for his soul could not restrain a laugh.
So bid him Breakfast, and forget his cares,
And then he’d try to manage his affairs.
So said, so done. ‘And now,’ says honest Ward,
‘If I can’t set you right, it is D——n’d hard:
‘At B——’s Hotel you will get ev’ry comfort,
‘’Tis true he’ll make you pay a lumping sum for’t.’
‘O D——n the expence,’ says John, ‘’tis all as well’;
So sent Teague, Trunks and all, to the Hotel.

With Teague, John went next day to buy his stud,
A Mule9 for baggage, and a bit of Blood.
Now see him in the Fair, with anxious face,
Trying this Dobbin’s metal, t’ other’s pace.
‘I say, you Whiskers, what do you ask for that?
‘A Horse you call it—much more like a Rat.’
Noventa Dollars, Quienza Moidorés.
‘How many Guineas, Mister?—what a bore he’s!’

‘No Senhor, no Guineas, no Senhor, no say.’
‘Why how the Devil then am I to pay?’
But getting Dollars, he the Dobbin bought,
When something passing, his attention caught.
‘Here, stop that Fellow, Teague, don’t let him pass;
‘I say, you Quiz, what ask you for that Ass?’
‘By Ja—s, Sir,’ says Teague, ‘you’re in a wrong Key,
‘It is a thumping Mule, and not a Donkey.’

‘What!’ retorts John, ‘do you think I am a fool?
‘What! don’t I know a Donkey from a Mule?’
But Teague was right, and so his master found,
And for the Beast, John offered Thirty Pound.
‘No,’ says the Owner, ‘but perhaps you will
‘Give Thirty-five, and I will take your Bill.’
‘My Bill,’ says Jo

Download This eBook
This book is available for free download!


普人特福的博客cnzz&51la for wordpress,cnzz for wordpress,51la for wordpress
The Military Adventures of Johnny Newcome / With an Account of his Campaign on the Peninsula and in Pall Mall
Free Download
Free Book