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The Recruiting Serjeant

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Title: The Recruiting Serjeant  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: 1770 in literature, Charles Dibdin, Isaac Bickerstaffe, If I Should Fall from Grace with God, Ranelagh Gardens, The opera corpus, The Recruiting Officer, List of opera genres
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

The Recruiting Serjeant

Not to be confused with The Recruiting Officer, by George Farquhar.
Oh, What a Charming Thing's a Battle!
File:Dibdin - Oh, What A Charming Thing's A Battle.ogg
"Oh, What a Charming Thing's a Battle!", from Charles Dibdin and Isaac Bickerstaff's The Recruiting Serjeant (1770). Sung by Leon Lishner.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

The Recruiting Serjeant is a burletta[1] by composer Charles Dibdin and playwright Isaac Bickerstaff. It premièred on 20 July 1770 at Ranelagh Gardens, London.[2]


Role Premiere cast, 20 July 1770[3]
Serjeant Mr. Bannister
Countryman Charles Dibdin
His wife Mrs. Wrighten
His mother Mrs. Dorman


A recruiting sergeant comes to a village seeking out new recruits. A countryman, Joe, living with his wife and mother, hears his stirring cry, and decides to enlist. The two women in his life seek to dissuade him, and follow him in when he meets with the sergeant. The sergeant is pleased to find a recruit, but Joe's mother begins cursing the sergeant out for trying to take her son away.[4]

This too fails to dissuade either of them. The mother fetches his children from the house, and appeals to Joe not to leave them, and thus risk all of them ending up in the

This terrifies the women, but Joe simply asks whether it's likely he himself will lose his head or limbs. "Not if you've good luck", says the sergeant.[6] Joe begins to have second thoughts at this – he had wished to see a battle, but he has decided the sergeant's description of it is quite sufficient. His wife and mother are delighted – and then Joe explains the whole thing was revenge upon his wife for nagging him the night before when he wanted to go to the alehouse. She promises not to do so again, and they reconcile. The play ends with the sergeant buying Joe a drink, and all toasting King George.[4]



  • The Recruiting Serjeant, reproduced in Google. Access date: 29 August 2008.

External links

  • Collection of the Most Esteemed Farces and Entertainments Performed on the British Stage. Contains the complete libretto.
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