ARTICLE XVII. On the Military Coup D'Oeil
According to the Chevalier Folard's system, the knowledge of the nature and qualities of a country which is the theatre of war, is a science to be acquired. It is the perfection of that art, to learn at one just and determined view, the benefits and disadvantages of a country where posts are to be placed, and how to act to the annoyance of the enemy. This is, in a word, the true meaning of a coup d'oeil, without which an officer may commit errors of the greatest consequence. In short, without this knowledge, success cannot be promised in any enterprise, as the business of war requires much practice and experience to be well understood. To learn this before we begin a campaign, and, when engaged in it, to be able to join practice to theory, is the business of every good officer.
But as we are not always at war, as the army is not always campaigning, and the regiments only assemble at certain periods for exercise, we must endeavor to improve ourselves by means of our own genius and imagination, so as to learn, even in time of peace, a science so useful and necessary.
In the opinion of the Chevalier Folard, field diversions are the best calculated to give a military coup d'oeil, for we not only learn from thence to distinguish the difference of countries, which never resemble each other, but we also get acquainted with a variety of stratagems, all of which have some connection with the business of war. One of the great advantages which we derive from hunting, is the knowledge of different countries, which gives us a coup d'oeil almost imperceptibly, which a little reflection and practice will soon make perfect.
Besides hunting, by which few people have an opportunity to profit, travels and walks have their advantages.
Whilst travelling, we can look with a penetrating eye over all the country that we pass, figure to ourselves an enemy's post at whatever distance we please, conceive ourselves on another, judge of all the benefits and disadvantages peculiar to each party, arrange in imagination the plan of attack and defence of our post, and as the unceasing variation of country offers incessantly new discoveries, an imagination a little warmed will never want employment.
Whilst walking, the eye may judge and measure the distance of one place or thing from another; and to be certain that we are not mistaking, we can walk it over and convince ourselves of the justness of our coup d'oeil.
Every country will furnish an officer, who wishes for instruction, with the means of exercising his eyes and ideas: whilst he who engages in the profession from necessity, without any taste, will let slip the most happy opportunities of improving himself without turning them to any advantage.