C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.


War is science of destruction.

John S. C. Abbott.

So ends the bloody business of the day.


A day of battle is a day of harvest for the devil.

William Hooke.

My sentence is for open war.


Horribly stuffed with epithets of war.


The brazen throat of war.


There are few die well that die in a battle.


There never was a good war or a bad peace.

Benj. Franklin.

Battle’s magnificently stern array!


War cannot be put on a certain allowance.

Archidamus III.

There is war in the skies!

Lord Lytton.

I hate war, for it spoils conversation.


In war the olive branch of peace is of use.


War never leaves, where it found a nation.


The fortune of war is always doubtful.


The crystal-pointed tents from hill to hill.

E. C. Stedman.

Slavery is also as ancient as war, and war as human nature.


I propose to fight it out on this line, if it takes all summer.


They shall have wars and pay for their presumption.


War is a crime which involves all other crimes.


War is the corruption and disgrace of man.


The guard dies but never surrenders.


To the victors belong the spoils of the enemy.

William Learned Marcy.

War disorganizes, but it is to reorganize.


The law is silent during war.


Christianity hath harmonized the conduct of war.


A wicked tyrant is better than a wicked war.


The feast of vultures, and the waste of life.


Civil wars leave nothing but tombs.


War, war is still the cry; “War even to the knife!”


Better pointed bullets than pointed speeches.


To murder thousands takes a specious name.


All delays are dangerous in war.


Their flag was furled, and mute their drum.

Sir Walter Scott.

Men practice war; beasts do not.


The wounds of civil war are deepest.


A man-of-war is the best ambassador.


The worse the man, the better the soldier.

Napoleon I.

Cry “Havock,” and let slip the dogs of war.


I prefer the hardest terms of peace to the most just war.

C. J. Fox.

And high above the fight the lonely bugle grieves.

Grenville Mellin.

We kind o’ thought Christ went agin war an’ pillage.


When Greeks joined Greeks, then was the tug of war!

Nathaniel Lee.

To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.


  • Death is the universal salt of states;
  • Blood is the base of all things—law and war.
  • Bailey.

  • War’s a brain-spattering, windpipe-slitting art,
  • Unless her cause by right be sanctified.
  • Byron.

  • Cease to consult, the time for action calls,
  • War, horrid war, approaches to your walls!
  • Pope.

  • The chance of war
  • Is equal, and the slayer oft is slain.
  • Homer.

  • Thus far into the bowels of the land
  • Have we march’d on without impediment.
  • Shakespeare.

    Ingenious to their ruin, every age improves the art and instruments of rage.


  • The fire-eyed maid of smoky war
  • All hot and bleeding will we offer them.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Let’s march without the noise of threat’ning drum.
  • Shakespeare.

  • So frown’d the mighty combatants, that hell
  • Grew darker at their frown.
  • Milton.

  • Sound trumpets! let our bloody colors wave!
  • And either victory, or else a grave.
  • Shakespeare.

  • He which hath no stomach to this fight,
  • Let him depart; his passport shall be made.
  • Shakespeare.

    The warrior who cultivates his mind polishes his arms.

    De Boufflers.

    ’Tis a principle of war that when you can use the lightning, ’tis better than cannon.

    Napoleon I.

  • Intestine war no more our passions wage,
  • And giddy factions bear away their rage.
  • Pope.

    War is delightful to those who have had no experience of it.


    Who asks whether the enemy were defeated by strategy or valor?


    War in men’s eyes shall be a monster of iniquity in the good time coming.

    Charles Mackay.

    Religious canons, civil laws, are cruel; then what should war be?


    Every creature lives in a state of war by nature.


    A great country can have no such thing as a little war.


    War requires three things,—money, money, money.


    I heard the bullets whistle; and believe me, there is something charming in the sound.


  • Let the only walls the foe shall scale
  • Be ramparts of the dead!
  • Paul H. Hayne.

    War is a terrible trade; but in the cause that is righteous sweet is the smell of powder.


    War and Niagara thunder to a music of their own.

    Wendell Phillips.

    Now hear the trumpets’ clangor from afar, and all the dreadful harmony of war.


    Even in a righteous cause force is a fearful thing.


  • War’s a game, which, were their subjects wise,
  • Kings would not play at.
  • Cowper.

  • He is come to open
  • The purple testament of bleeding war.
  • Shakespeare.

    Grim-visag’d war hath smoothed his wrinkled front.


    Most of the debts of Europe represent condensed drops of blood.


    Providence for war is the best prevention of it.


    War its thousands slays; peace its ten thousands.

    Dr. Porteus.

    The bodies of men, munition, and money may justly be called the sinews of war.

    Sir Walter Raleigh.

    The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart.


    Advise how war may, best upheld, move by her two main nerves, iron and gold.


  • For those that run away, and fly,
  • Take place at least o’ th’ enemy.
  • Butler.

  • Blow, wind! come, wrack!
  • At least we’ll die with harness on our back.
  • Shakespeare.

    If Christian nations were nations of Christians, there would be no wars.

    Soame Jenyns.

  • War, that mad game the world so loves to play.
  • Swift.

  • In all the trade of war, no feat
  • Is nobler than a brave retreat.
  • Butler.

    Food for powder, food for powder; they’ll fill a pit as well as better: tush, man, mortal men, mortal men.


    Civil war is a momentous evil.***Civil war needs momentous and solemn justification.

    Wendell Phillips.

    Nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won.

    Duke of Wellington.

    When all is past, it is humbling to tread o’er the weltering field of the tombless dead.


    The king who makes war on his enemies tenderly distresses his subjects most cruelly.


    Terrible as is war, it yet displays the spiritual grandeur of man daring to defy his mightiest hereditary enemy—death.


    Let the gulled fool the toll of war pursue, where bleed the many to enrich the few.


    The fate of war is to be exalted in the morning, and low enough at night! There is but one step from triumph to ruin.

    Napoleon I.

  • Black it stood as night
  • Fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell,
  • And shook a dreadful dart.
  • Milton.

    War will never yield but to the principles of universal justice and love; and these have no sure root but in the religion of Jesus Christ.


    The sight of a battlefield after the fight is enough to inspire princes with a love of peace and a horror of war.

    Napoleon I.

    The decision will come only from God, from the God of battles, when He lets fall from His hand the iron dice of destiny.


    Battles are never the end of war; for the dead must be buried and the cost of the conflict must be paid.

    James A. Garfield.

    All history is the decline of war, though the slow decline. All that society has yet gained is mitigation; the doctrine of the right of war still remains.


    The soldier at the same time may shoot out his prayer to God, and aim his pistol at his enemy, the one better hitting the mark for the other.

    Thomas Fuller.

    Fly from wrath; sad be the sights and bitter fruits of war; a thousand furies wait on wrathful swords.


    Cannon to right of them, cannon to left of them, cannon in front of them, volleyed and thundered.


    The necessity of war, which among human actions is the most lawless, hath some kind of affinity with the necessity of law.

    Sir Walter Raleigh.

    Take my word for it, if you had seen but one day of war, you would pray to Almighty God that you might never see such a thing again.


    The whole art of war consists in getting at what is on the other side of the hill, or, in other words, in learning what we do not know from what we do.

    Duke of Wellington.

    War is a child that devours its nurses one after another, until it is claimed by its true parents.

    O. W. Holmes.

  • Theirs not to make reply,
  • Theirs not to reason why,
  • Theirs but to do and die.
  • Tennyson.

    War, when decisive, has a quick and practical philosophy of its own, and the difficulties that seem largest in its progress usually vanish at its close.

    Lord Lytton.

    The fearful thunder-roar of red-breathed cannon and the wailing cry of myriad victims filled the air.

    G. D. Prentice.

    Let war be so carried on that no other object may seem to be sought but the acquisition of peace.


    Battle, with the sword, has cut many a Gordian knot in twain which all the wit of East and West, of Northern and Border statesmen, could not untie.


    Civil wars are the greatest of evils. They are inevitable, if we wish to reward merit, for all will say that they are meritorious.


    Even in a righteous cause force is a fearful thing; God only helps when men can help no more.


    Some general officers should pay a stricter regard to truth than to call the depopulating other countries the service of their own.


    The measure of civilization in a people is to be found in its just appreciation of the wrongfulness of war.


    War kills men, and men deplore the loss; but war also crushes bad principles and tyrants, and so saves societies.


    War educates the senses, calls into action the will, perfects the physical constitution, brings men into such swift and close collision in critical moments that man measures man.


    A steady hand in military affairs is more requisite than in peace, because an error committed in war may prove irremediable.


    Strategy is the most important department of the art of war, and strategical skill is the highest and rarest function of military genius.

    George S. Hillard.

    The nations bleed where’er her steps she turns; the groan still deepens, and the combat burns.


    We fight to great disadvantage when we fight with those who have nothing to lose.


  • When discord dreadful bursts her brazen bars,
  • And shatters locks to thunder forth her wars.
  • Horace.

    No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works.

    U. S. Grant.

    Woe to the man that first did teach the cursed steel to bite in his own flesh, and make way to the living spirit!


    There is strength and a fierce instinct, even in common souls, to bear up manhood with a stormy joy when red swords meet in lightning.

    Mrs. Hemans.

    War ’twixt you twain would be as if the world should cleave, and that slain men should solder up the rift.


    He who makes war his profession cannot be otherwise than vicious. War makes thieves, and peace brings them to the gallows.


    Great warriors, like great earthquakes, are principally remembered for the mischief they have done.


  • The armorers, accomplishing the knights,
  • With busy hammers closing rivets up,
  • Give dreadful note of preparation.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Lay on, Macduff,
  • And damn’d be him that first cries “Hold, enough!”
  • Shakespeare.

  • From camp to camp through the foul womb of night
  • The hum of either army stilly sounds.
  • Shakespeare.

    Tut, tut; good enough to toss; food for powder, food for powder; they’ll fill a pit as well as better.


  • Now for the bare-pick’d bone of majesty
  • Doth dogged war bristle his angry crest
  • And snarleth in the gentle eyes of peace.
  • Shakespeare.

  • The cannons have their bowels full of wrath,
  • And ready mounted are they to spit forth
  • Their iron indignation ’gainst your walls.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
  • Or close the wall up with our English dead.
  • Shakespeare.

    If the cause and end of war be justifiable, all the means that appear necessary to the end are justifiable also.


  • From hence, let fierce contending nations know
  • What dire effects from civil discord flow.
  • Addison.

  • To overcome in battle, and subdue
  • Nations, and bring home spoils with infinite
  • Man-slaughter, shall be held the highest pitch
  • Of human glory.
  • Milton.

  • March to the battle-field,
  • The foe is now before us;
  • Each heart is Freedom’s shield,
  • And heaven is shining o’er us.
  • B. E. O’Meara.

    “Go, with a song of peace,” said Fingal; “go, Ullin, to the king of swords. Tell him that we are mighty in war; that the ghosts of our foes are many.”


  • Arms on armor clashing bray’d
  • Horrible discord, and the madding wheels
  • Of brazen chariots ray’d; dire was the noise
  • Of conflict.
  • Milton.

  • She saw her sons with purple death expire,
  • Her sacred domes involved in rolling fire,
  • A dreadful series of intestine wars,
  • Inglorious triumphs and dishonest scars.
  • Pope.

  • In the lost battle,
  • Borne down by the flying,
  • Where mingles war’s rattle
  • With groans of the dying.
  • Scott.

  • The combat deepens. On, ye brave,
  • Who rush to glory, or the grave!
  • Wave, Munich! all thy banners wave,
  • And charge with all thy chivalry.
  • Campbell.

  • The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
  • And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold.
  • Byron.

  • For he who fights and runs away
  • May live to fight another day;
  • But he who is in battle slain
  • Can never rise and fight again.
  • Goldsmith.

  • Under the sod and the dew,
  • Waiting the Judgment Day;
  • Love and tears for the Blue,
  • Tears and love for the Gray.
  • Francis M. Finch.

  • By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
  • Their flag to April’s breeze unfurl’d;
  • Here once the embattl’d farmers stood,
  • And fired the shot heard round the world.
  • Emerson.

    War suspends the rules of moral obligation, and what is long suspended is in danger of being totally abrogated. Civil wars strike deepest of all into the manners of the people.


    A great and lasting war can never be supported on this principle (patriotism) alone. It must be aided by a prospect of interest, or some reward.

    George Washington.

    Every war involves a greater or less relapse into barbarism. War, indeed, in its details, is the essence of inhumanity. It dehumanizes. It may save the state, but it destroys the citizen.


  • They came with banner, spear, and shield;
  • And it was proved in Bosworth field,
  • Not long the Avenger was withstood—
  • Earth help’d him with the cry of blood.
  • Wordsworth.

  • Ez fer war, call it murder,—
  • Ther you hev it plain and flat;
  • I don’t want to go no furder
  • Than my Testyment fer that.
  • Lowell.

  • To arms! to arms! ye brave!
  • Th’ avenging sword unsheathe,
  • March on! march on! all hearts resolved
  • On victory or death!
  • Joseph Rouget De Lisle.

  • Hence jarring sectaries may learn
  • Their real interest to discern;
  • That brother should not war with brother,
  • And worry and devour each other.
  • Cowper.

    If war has its chivalry and its pageantry, it has also its hideousness and its demoniac woe. Bullets respect not beauty. They tear out the eye, and shatter the jaw, and rend the cheek.


    The blood of man should never be shed but to redeem the blood of man. It is well shed for our family, for our friends, for our God, for our country, for our kind. The rest is vanity; the rest is crime.


    The natural principle of war is to do the most harm to our enemy with the least harm to ourselves; and this of course, is to be effected by stratagem.

    Washington Irving.

    Laws are commanded to hold their tongues among arms; and tribunals fall to the ground with the peace they are no longer able to uphold.


    A wise minister would rather preserve peace than gain a victory, because he knows that even the most successful war leaves nations generally more poor, always more profligate, than it found them.


    Wars, therefore, are to be undertaken for this end, that we may live in peace, without being injured; but when we obtain the victory, we must preserve those enemies who behaved without cruelty or inhumanity during the war.


    Kings play at war unfairly with republics; they can only lose some earth, and some creatures they value as little, while republics lose in every soldier a part of themselves.


    A nation is not worthy to be saved if, in the hour of its fate, it will not gather up all its jewels of manhood and life, and go down into the conflict, however bloody and doubtful, resolved on measureless ruin or complete success.


  • Thus, as the stream and ocean greet,
  • With waves that madden as they meet—
  • Thus join the bands whom mutual wrong,
  • And fate and fury drive along.
  • Byron.

  • With common men
  • There needs too oft the show of war to keep
  • The substance of sweet peace, and for a king,
  • ’Tis sometimes better to be fear’d than lov’d.
  • Byron.

    War is one of the greatest plagues than can afflict humanity: it destroys religion, it destroys states, it destroys families. Any scourge, in fact, is preferable to it. Famine and pestilence become as nothing in comparison with it.

    Martin Luther.

  • Be thou as lightning in the eyes of France;
  • For ere thou can’st report I will be there,
  • The thunder of my cannon shall be heard;
  • So hence! Be thou the trumpet of our wrath.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Dying like men, though buried in your dunghills,
  • They shall be fam’d; for there the sun shall greet them,
  • And draw their honors reeking up to heaven;
  • Leaving their earthly parts to choke your clime.
  • Shakespeare.

  • And all the gods go with you! upon your sword
  • Sit laurel victory; and smooth success
  • Be strew’d before your feet.
  • Shakespeare.

    In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man as modest stillness and humility; but when the blast of war flows in our ears, then imitate the action of the tiger.


  • Bloody wars at first began,
  • The artificial plague of man,
  • That from his own invention rise,
  • To scourge his own iniquities.
  • Butler.

  • Shall we upon the footing of our land
  • Send fair-play orders, and make compromise,
  • Insinuation, parley, and base truce,
  • To arms invasive?
  • Shakespeare.

  • Now all the youth of England are on fire,
  • And silken dalliance in the wardrobe lies;
  • Now thrive the armorers, and honor’s thought
  • Reigns solely in the breast of every man.
  • Shakespeare.

  • We must have bloody noses and crack’d crowns,
  • And pass them current too. God’s me, my horse!
  • Shakespeare.

  • The nimble gunner
  • With linstock now the devilish cannon touches,
  • And down goes all before them.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Scots, wha hae wi’ Wallace bled;
  • Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
  • Welcome to your gory bed,
  • Or to victory!
  • Burns.

  • War, he sung, is toil and trouble;
  • Honor, but an empty bubble;
  • Never ending, still beginning,
  • Fighting still, and still destroying.
  • Dryden.

  • Put in their hands thy bruising irons of wrath,
  • That they may crush down with heavy fall
  • The usurping helmets of our adversaries.
  • Shakespeare.

  • And when the fight becomes a chase,
  • Those win the day that win the race;
  • And that which would not pass in fights,
  • Has done the feat with easy flights.
  • Butler.

  • I drew this gallant head of war,
  • And cull’d these fiery spirits from the world,
  • To outlook conquest and to win renown
  • Even in the jaws of danger and of death.
  • Shakespeare.

  • One to destroy, is murder by the law,
  • And gibbets keep the lifted hand in awe;
  • To murder thousands takes a specious name,
  • War’s glorious art, and gives immortal fame.
  • Young.

    It is only necessary to make war with five things: with the maladies of the body, the ignorances of the mind, with the passions of the body, with the seditions of the city, and the discords of families.


  • Is it, O man, with such discordant noises,
  • With such accursed instruments as these,
  • Thou drownest Nature’s sweet and kindly voices,
  • And jarest the celestial harmonies?
  • Longfellow.

  • Others more mild,
  • Retreated in a silent valley, sing
  • With notes angelical to many a harp
  • Their own heroic deeds and hapless fall
  • By doom of battle.
  • Milton.

  • Some undone widow sits upon mine arm,
  • And takes away the use of it; and my sword,
  • Glued to my scabbard with wronged orphan’s tears,
  • Will not be drawn.
  • Massinger.

  • Our battle is more full of names than yours,
  • Our men more perfect in the use of arms,
  • Our armor all as strong, our cause the best;
  • Then reason will our hearts should be as good.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Give me the cups;
  • And let the kettle to the trumpet speak,
  • The trumpet to the cannoneer without,
  • The cannons to the heavens, the heavens to earth.
  • Shakespeare.

  • War! that in a moment
  • Lay’st waste the noblest part of the creation,
  • The boast and masterpiece of the great Maker,
  • That wears in vain th’ impression of his image,
  • Unprivileged from thee!
  • Rowe.

  • Shall we go throw away our coats of steel,
  • And wrap our bodies in black mourning gowns,
  • Numb’ring our Ave Marias with our beads?
  • Or shall we on the helmets of our foes
  • Tell our devotion with revengeful arms.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Follow thy drum;
  • With man’s blood paint the ground, gules, gules;
  • Religious canons, civil laws are cruel;
  • Then what should war be?
  • Shakespeare.

    What a fine-looking thing is war! Yet, dress it as we may, dress and feather it, daub it with gold, huzza it, and sing swaggering songs about it,—what is it, nine times out of ten, but murder in uniform!

    Douglas Jerrold.

  • What though the field be lost?
  • All is not lost; the unconquerable will,
  • And study of revenge, immortal hate
  • And courage never to submit or yield,
  • And what is else not to be overcome.
  • Milton.

  • Still from the sire the son shall hear
  • Of the stern strife, and carnage drear,
  • Of Flodden’s fatal field,
  • When shiver’d was fair Scotland’s spear,
  • And broken was her shield!
  • Scott.

  • Hand to hand, and foot to foot:
  • Nothing there, save death, was mute;
  • Stroke, and thrust, and flash, and cry
  • For quarter or for victory,
  • Mingle there with the volleying thunder.
  • Byron.

    That men should kill one another for want of somewhat else to do, which is the case of all volunteers in war, seems to be so horrible to humanity that there needs no divinity to control it.


    War is never lenient but where it is wanton; where men are compelled to fight in self-defence, they must hate and avenge. This may be bad, but it is human nature; it is the clay as it came from the hands of the Potter.


  • A thousand glorious actions that might claim
  • Triumphant laurels, and immortal fame,
  • Confus’d in crowds of glorious actions lie,
  • And troops of heroes undistinguished die.
  • Addison.

  • Fight, gentlemen of England! fight, bold yeomen!
  • Draw, archers, draw your arrows to the head!
  • Spur your proud horses hard, and ride in blood;
  • Amaze the welkin with your broken staves!
  • Shakespeare.

    I abominate war as Unchristian. I hold it the greatest of human crimes. I deem it to involve all others,—violence, blood, rapine, fraud; everything that can deform the character, alter the nature, and debase the name of man.

    Lord Brougham.

    Wars are to the body politic, what drams are to the individual. There are times when they may prevent a sudden death, but if frequently resorted to, or long persisted in, they heighten the energies only to hasten the dissolution.


  • Carry his body hence!
  • Kings must have slaves:
  • Kings climb to eminence
  • Over men’s graves:
  • So this man’s eye is dim;
  • Throw the earth over him!
  • Henry Austin Dobson.

  • Then more fierce
  • The conflict grew; the din of arms, the yell
  • Of savage rage, the shriek of agony,
  • The groan of death, commingled in one sound
  • Of undistinguish’d horrors.
  • Southey.

  • Your breath first kindled the dead coal of wars
  • And brought in matter that should feed this fire;
  • And now ’tis far too huge to be blown out
  • With that same weak wind which enkindled it.
  • Shakespeare.

    War, like all other situations of danger and of change, calls forth the exertion of admirable intellectual qualities and great virtues, and it is only by dwelling on these, and keeping out of sight the sufferings and sorrows, and all the crimes and evils that follow in its train, that it has its glory in the eyes of men.


    The fate of a battle is the result of a moment, of a thought: the hostile forces advance with various combinations, they attack each other and fight for a certain time; the critical moment arrives, a mental flash decides, and the least reserve accomplishes the object.

    Napoleon I.

  • I own my natural weakness; I have not
  • Yet learn’d to think of indiscriminate murder
  • Without some sense of shuddering; and the sight
  • Of blood, which spouts through hoary scalps, is not,
  • To me, a thing or triumph, nor the death
  • Of men surprised, a glory.
  • Byron.

    In the wars of the European powers in matters relating to themselves we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our policy so to do. It is only when our rights are invaded or seriously menaced that we resent injuries or make preparation for our defence.

    James Monroe.

  • The death-shot hissing from afar—
  • The shock—the shout—the groan of war—
  • Reverberate along that vale,
  • More suited to the shepherd’s tale:
  • Though few the numbers—theirs the strife,
  • That neither spares, nor speaks for life.
  • Byron.

  • What boots the oft-repeated tale of strife,
  • The feast of vultures, and the waste of life?
  • The varying fortune of each separate field,
  • The fierce that vanquish, and the faint that yield?
  • The smoking ruin and the crumbled wall?
  • In this the struggle was the same with all.
  • Byron.

  • O war, thou son of hell,
  • Whom angry heav’ns do make their minister,
  • Throw in the frozen bosoms of our part
  • Hot coals of vengeance!—Let no soldier fly;
  • He that is truly dedicate to war
  • Hath no self-love: nor he that loves himself.
  • Shakespeare.

  • War! war! war!
  • Heaven aid the right!
  • God move the hero’s arm. in the fearful fight!
  • God send the women sleep in the long, long night,
  • When the breasts on whose strength they leaned shall heave no more.
  • E. C. Stedman.

  • War in men’s eyes shall be
  • A monster of iniquity
  • In the good time coming.
  • Nations shall not quarrel then,
  • To prove which is the stronger;
  • Nor slaughter men for glory’s sake;—
  • Wait a little longer.
  • Charles Mackay.

  • Oh, a strange hand writes for our dear son—O, stricken mother’s soul!
  • All swims before her eyes—flashes with black—she catches the main words only;
  • Sentences broken—gun-shot wound in the breast, cavalry skirmish, taken to hospital;
  • At present low, but will soon be better.
  • Walt Whitman.

    Of all the evils to public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the genius of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debt and taxes. And armies and debts and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the dominion of the few.


    Use makes a better soldier than the most urgent considerations of duty,—familiarity with danger enabling him to estimate the danger. He sees how much is the risk, and is not afflicted with imagination; knows practically Marshal Saxe’s rule, that every soldier killed costs the enemy his weight in lead.


    War, even in the best state of an army, with all the alleviations of courtesy and honor, with all the correctives of morality and religion, is nevertheless so great an evil, that to engage in it without a clear necessity is a crime of the blackest dye. When the necessity is clear, it then becomes a crime to shrink from it.


    The conqueror is not so much pleased by entering into open gates, as by forcing his way. He desires not the fields to be cultivated by the patient husbandman; he would have them laid waste by fire and sword. It would be his shame to go by a way already opened.


  • Tell me, he that knows,
  • *****
  • Why such daily cast of brazen cannon,
  • And foreign mart for implements of war:
  • Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task
  • Does not divide the Sunday from the week:
  • What might be toward, that this sweaty haste
  • Doth make the night joint-laborer with the day;
  • Who is’t that can inform me?
  • Shakespeare.

  • O great corrector of enormous times,
  • Shaker of o’er-rank states, thou grand decider
  • Of duty and old titles, that healest with blood
  • The earth when it is sick and curest the world
  • O’ the pleurisy of people.
  • Beaumont and Fletcher.

    War is the matter which fills all history; and consequently the only, or almost the only, view in which we can see the external of political society is in a hostile shape; and the only actions to which we have always seen, and still see, all of them intent, are such as tend to the destruction of one another.


  • All was prepared—the fire, the sword, the men
  • To wield them in their terrible array.
  • The army, like a lion from his den,
  • March’d forth with nerves and sinews bent to slay—
  • A human Hydra, issuing from its fen
  • To breathe destruction on its winding way,
  • Whose heads were heroes, which cut off in vain,
  • Immediately in others grew again.
  • Byron.

  • War is honorable
  • In those who do their native rights maintain;
  • In those whose swords an iron barrier are
  • Between the lawless spoiler and the weak;
  • But is, in those who draw th’ offensive blade
  • For added power or gain, sordid and despicable
  • As meanest office of the worldly churl.
  • Joanna Baillie.

  • To my shame, I see
  • The imminent death of twenty thousand men,
  • That, for a fantasy and trick of fame,
  • Go to their graves like beds; fight for a plot
  • Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,
  • Which is not tomb enough, and continent,
  • To hide the slain.
  • Shakespeare.

  • The morning came, there stood the foe;
  • Stark eyed them as they stood;
  • Few words he spoke—’twas not a time
  • For moralizing mood:
  • “See there the enemy, my boys!
  • Now, strong in valor’s might,
  • Beat them or Betty Stark will sleep
  • In widowhood to-night.”
  • J. P. Rodman.

  • Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet
  • Till earth and sky stand presently at God’s great judgment seat;
  • But there is neither East nor West, border nor breed nor birth
  • When two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth!
  • Rudyard Kipling.

    The gospel has but a forced alliance with war. Its doctrine of human brotherhood would ring strangely between the opposed ranks. The bellowing speech of cannon and the baptism of blood mock its liturgies and sacraments. Its gentle beatitudes would hardly serve as mottoes for defiant banners, nor its list of graces as names for ships-of-the-line.


  • Like the leaves of the forest when summer is green,
  • That host with their banners at sunset were seen;
  • Like the leaves of the forest when autumn hath blown,
  • That host on the morrow lay wither’d and strown!
  • Byron.

    War mends but few, and spoils multitudes; it legitimates rapine and authorizes murder; and these crimes must be ministered to by their lesser relatives, by covetousness and anger and pride and revenge, and heats of blood, and wilder liberty, and all the evil that can be supposed to come from or run to such cursed causes of mischief.

    Jeremy Taylor.

  • Three hundred cannon threw up their emetic,
  • And thirty thousand muskets flung their pills
  • Like hail, to make a bloody diuretic;
  • Mortality! thou hast thy monthly bills!
  • Thy plagues, thy famines, thy physicians, yet tick,
  • Like the death-watch, within our ears the ills,
  • Past, present, and to come; but all may yield
  • To the true portrait of one battle-field.
  • Byron.

  • All that the mind would shrink from, of excesses;
  • All that the body perpetrates, of bad;
  • All that we read, hear, dream, of man’s distresses;
  • All that the devil would do, if run stark mad;
  • All that defies the worst which pen expresses
  • All by which hell is peopled, or is sad
  • As hell—mere mortals who their power abuse—
  • Was here (as heretofore and since) let loose.
  • Byron.

    “War,” says Machiavelli, “ought to be the only study of a prince”; and, by a prince, he means every sort of State, however constituted. “He ought,” says this great political doctor, “to consider peace only as a breathing-time, which gives him leisure to contrive, and furnishes ability to execute military plans.” A meditation on the conduct of political societies made old Hobbes imagine that war was the state of nature.


  • They now to fight are gone;
  • Armor on armor shone;
  • Drum now to drum did groan,
  • To hear was wonder;
  • That with the cries they make,
  • The very earth did shake;
  • Trumpet to trumpet spake,
  • Thunder to thunder.
  • Drayton.

  • By heaven! it is a splendid sight to see
  • (For one who hath no friend, no brother there)
  • Their rival scarfs of mix’d embroidery,
  • Their various arms that glitter in the air!
  • What gallant war-hounds rouse them from their lair,
  • And gnash their fangs, loud yelling for the prey!
  • All join the chase, but few the triumph share;
  • The grave shall bear the chiefest prize away,
  • And havoc scarce for joy can number their array.
  • Byron.

  • The bay-trees in our country all are wither’d
  • And meteors fright the fixed stars of heaven;
  • The pale-fac’d moon looks bloody on the earth
  • And lean-look’d prophets whisper fearful change;
  • Rich men look sad and ruffians dance and leap,
  • The one in fear to lose what they enjoy,
  • The other to enjoy by rage and war.
  • Shakespeare.

  • And there was mounting in hot haste: the steed,
  • The mustering squadron, and the clattering car,
  • Went pouring forward with impetuous speed,
  • And swiftly forming in the ranks of war;
  • And the deep thunder peal on peal, afar
  • And near; the beat of the alarming drum
  • Roused up the soldier ere the morning star;
  • While throng’d the citizens with terror dumb,
  • Or whispering with white lips—“The foe! they come! they come!”
  • Byron.

    War suspends the rules of moral obligation, and what is long suspended is in danger of being totally abrogated. Civil wars strike deepest of all into the manners of the people. They vitiate their politics; they corrupt their morals; they pervert even the natural taste and relish of equity and justice. By teaching us to consider our fellow-citizens in a hostile light, the whole body of our nation becomes gradually less dear to us. The very names of affection and kindred, which were the bond of charity, whilst we agreed, become new incentives to hatred and rage, when the communion of our country is dissolved.


  • Lay down the axe; fling by the spade;
  • Leave in its track the toiling plough;
  • The rifle and the bayonet-blade
  • For arms like yours were fitter now;
  • And let the hands that ply the pen
  • Quit the light task, and learn to wield
  • The horseman’s crooked brand, and rein
  • The charger on the battle-field.
  • Bryant.

  • Dreary East winds howling o’er us,
  • Clay-lands knee-deep spread before us;
  • Mire and ice and snow and sleet;
  • Aching backs and frozen feet;
  • Knees which reel as marches quicken,
  • Ranks which thin as corpses thicken;
  • While with carrion birds we eat,
  • Culling puddle-water sweet,
  • As we pledge the health of our general, who fares as rough as we:
  • What can daunt us, what can turn us, led to death by such as he?
  • Charles Kingsley.