The Corporal Who Could Spell.
M. O’Roll, in his new book, tells some diverting anecdotes of his soldiering experiences in the French army. The officer who has risen from the ranks (ho says) is very popular with the soldiers, whose wants he knows much better than do the young lieutenants fresh from the military school. He can speak very fair French, but prefers bad language, and can swear for a quarter of an hour without using the same oath twice. I remember, during the Franco-Prussian war, I happened to be quartered for a day in an aristocratic household in Lorraine with a lieutenant of this type. Trembling at the thought of my worthy friend’s unruly member, I seated myself at our host’s dinner - tabic. All went well until the conversation unluckily fell upon military marches, when the lady of the house wanted to know whether the feet did not suffer very much with such a quantity of walking to do every day in the hot weather. “ I’ll tell you what, ma’am,” said he, “you must never wash the feet. I never do. Grease them well with tallow, and they’ll be all right.” The French corporal, to be seen in all his glory, must be studied when he has a written report to make to the colonel. He is a good fellow, who rules four men and
J defies all rules of grammar. His spelling is phonetic; yet he loves long words, and his reports bristle with such words as “nevertheless,” “notwithstanding.” He is regarded by his four men as an authority on elegant diction. A private may bp able to spell, but a corporal never—such is the deep-rooted belief of all French officers. Iwas present one day when a corporal came to the doctor with one of his men who was unfit for the saddle. The doctor examined him, and found him to be suffering from rheumatism. The corporal proceeded to fill up the requisite form for the man’s admission to the nearest military hospital. “ Can you spell ‘rheumatism,’ corporal?’ said the doctor. “ I think I can, doctor, thank you,” replied he, saluting. That corporal was Louis Coetloyon, one of the leading journalists of Paris, who had volunteered soon after the outbreak of the war. We had a good laugh over the incident when I told the doctor of his blunder. “ What business has ho to be a corporal if ho can spell ?” exclaimed the surgeon.
Permanent link to this item
The Corporal Who Could Spell., Evening Star, Issue 8032, 8 October 1889