Friday, February 21, 2014

Cannon Fodder

Sir John Falstaff Reviews His Ragged Regiment (1859) by the English artist Sir John Gilbert (1817–1897). Falstaff in front of his infamous "shadows", non-existent or disabled soldiers for whom the commanding officer receives pay. Recruiting is here a business with the only purpose to make money. In a very modern way Falstaff refers to his men: "Now, now: they’re good enough to die. Cannon fodder, cannon fodder—they’ll fill a mass grave as well as better men would."


  1. I hope Sir John Gilbert is being critical in his analysis. Sir John Falstaff reviewing his ragged regiment, if there really was such a regiment in existence, sounds truly awful. Even by the standards of the early Victorian years.

  2. But the Victorian years were way ahead then. Falstaff is about the Hundred Years' War, or in this case what Shakespeare thought about it.