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Andrew’s Literary Quiz
See if you can identify the authors of the following war-related passages.
1. No body can be healthful without exercise, neither natural body nor politic; and, certainly, to a kingdom, or estate, a just and honourable war is the true exercise. A civil war, indeed, is like the heat of a fever; but a foreign war is like the heat of exercise, and serveth to keep the body in health; for in a slothful peace,
both courages will effeminate and manners corrupt.
2. They say it was a shocking sight
After the field was won;
For many thousand bodies here
Lay rotting in the sun;
But things like that, you know, must be
After a famous victory.
3. Is it peace or war? better, war! loud war by land and by sea, War with a thousand battles, and shaking a thousand thrones.
4. For I trust if an enemy’s fleet came yonder round by the hill,
And the rushing battle-bolt sang from the three-decker out of the foam,
That the smooth-faced snubnosed rogue would leap from his counter and till,
And strike, if he could, were it but with his cheating yardwand, home.
5. “Peace upon earth!” was said. We sing it,
And pay a million priests to bring it.
After two thousand years of mass
We’ve got as far as poison-gas.
6. Now, it seems to me that you do less harm by dropping bombs on people than by calling them “Huns.” Obviously one does not want to inflict death and wounds if it can be avoided, but I cannot feel that mere killing is all-important. We shall all be dead in less than a hundred years, and most of us by the sordid horror known as “natural death.” The truly evil thing is to act in such a way that peaceful life becomes impossible. War damages the fabric of civilisation not by the destruction it causes (the net effect of a war may even be to increase the productive capacity of the world as a whole), nor even by the slaughter of human beings,
but by stimulating hatred and dishonesty. By shooting at your enemy you are not in the deepest sense wronging him. But by hating him, by inventing lies about him and bringing up children to believe them, by clamouring for unjust peace terms which make further wars inevitable, you are striking not at one perishable generation, but at humanity itself.
Andrew Dodsworth is Secretary of Philosophy For All (www.pfalondon.freeserve.co.uk).
1) Francis Bacon: The True Greatness of Kingdoms
2) Robert Southey: After Blenheim
3) Alfred Lord Tennyson: Maud
4) Thomas Hardy: Christmas 1924
5) George Orwell: As I Please: Collected Essays, Journalism & Letters, Vol. 3, No 58