The Recruiting Party (1822)

Edward Villiers Rippingille (1789-1859) painted The Recruiting Party using oil on panel in 1822. A dashing recruiting sergeant is tempting gullible young men to enlist in the army, while impressing the pretty young women whose sweethearts he would take away.

He promises glory, rank and wealth, but the true outcome for the ordinary soldier is shown on the far right where a forlorn veteran approaches a cottage for alms. Rippingille's criticism of the army is biting and the various emotions of his characters show the divisive effects of the recruiting party on a village community.


Although the British Army in the nineteenth century enjoyed some its finest moments, and its heroic endeavours helped claim a quarter of the planet, life for the ordinary Private was hard and wearisome.

The world will promise you glory and happiness, but on neither can it deliver. Only Christ Jesus promises both, and is able to keep His word.  

Tell me the same old story
When you have cause to fear
That this world’s empty glory
Is costing me too dear.
Yes, and when that world’s glory
Is dawning on my soul,
Tell me the old, old story:
Christ Jesus makes thee whole.

-Katherine Hankey