Quoting sir John Jervis

“There are eight sail of the line, Sir John”
“Very well, sir”
“There are twenty sail of the line, Sir John”
“Very well, sir”
“There are twenty five sail of the line, Sir John”
“Very well, sir”
“There are twenty seven sail of the line, Sir John”
“Enough, sir, no more of that; the die is cast, and if there are fifty sail I will go through them.”

The famed words before the Admiral led his troops into the Battle at Cape St Vincent, I so admire the sentiment present here. What sir John knew was that battle was necessary — and he was not afraid to join battle with a superior force due to his belief in the capabilities of his men and ships.

Every time I read these words, the emphasis falls on the numbers: “eight”, “twenty”, “twenty five”, “twenty seven”. I am quite confident the original was not like that, but I like my version somewhat more: if only for the reason that it allows me to conjure up a part where these numbers were more impressive than they might have actually seemed. And the Admiral would act in the same manner no matter what.

And can we imagine our own chief saying that he believes in success no matter the odds? What a wonderful boost to morale!

About the author

Offer Up Your Thoughts...

%d bloggers like this: