|Drink and gambling were only two of the many vices that plagued Victoria's Army and both are depicted in the above photograph though they are in this case
being staged for the benefit of the viewer.
While the subject matter and setting may seem somewhat dubious both sergeants appear to be model soldiers. The sergeant at left sits ramrod straight and both
are impeccably dressed in their walking out uniforms. It is interesting to note - at least to this reporter - that these sergeants are drinking the Bass Pale Ale out
of glasses and not out of the bottle. One can imagine that at the time that the photo was taken drinking directly out of the bottle would have been considered a
sign of bad manners if not outright boorish.
Both sergeants also took the time to make sure that their respective hands at cards were clearly in view of the camera. The sergeant at left holds a two, a queen,
a jack and a king - all of spades. The sergeant at right holds two aces, a jack, queen, and king.
Beside the two Bass bottles are their respective corks and a cork puller.
While these two sergeants are without a doubt affiliated with the Royal Berkshire Regiment. Both men have the distinctive dragon collar badges of the regiment
and the title of "BERKS" can be seen on the shoulder strap of the sergeant on the left. Their membership in a volunteer battalion is based upon the style of cuff
braid that both men have on their tunics. The usual volunteer battalion number and letter "V" are not visible on their respective shoulder straps.
*Rudyard Kipling seems to have uttered this quote but I have not found it used in the context of one of his poems or stories.
|Left: A detail view of the card game and
Bass Ale bottles.