Econlib

The Library

Other Sites

Front Page arrow Quotations arrow Other Quotes arrow Week of 22 August, 2011

Quotations about Liberty and Power

About this Quotation:

What William Shakespeare thought about war is hard to determine precisely. Many of his protagonists are kings or warriors and their behaviour on the battle field often has important consequences within the play. In Henry V (1599) Shakespeare has a number of rousing “patriotic” speeches such as Henry’s famous “Once more into the breech” speech but counters these with anti-war speeches such as this one by the Duke of Burgundy. Here, Burgundy lists the deltrerious consequences war has had on the French countryside: the withering of the French “garden”, crops left to rot on vine, fields left untended, the neglect of education and the study of science, and the savagery of the soldiers. At the end of the play the Chorus reminds the audience that all of Henry’s military campaigns to control northern France were in vane, suggesting that Shakespeare may have had more of an Erasmian view of war than a Machiavellian one.

Other quotes about War & Peace:

22 August, 2011

Shakespeare_1623_300

The Duke of Burgundy asks the Kings of France and England why “gentle peace” should not be allowed to return France to its former prosperity (1599)

Read the full quote in context here.

In Henry V Shakespeare (1564-1616) has the Duke of Burgundy make an impassioned speech to the Kings of France and England, whose war for control of northern France has so devastated the countryside, in which he asks them why “the naked, poor, and mangled Peace” should not be restored in order to “expel these inconveniences, And bless us with her former qualities”:

I demand before this royal view, What rub or what impediment there is, Why that the naked, poor, and mangled Peace, Dear nurse of arts, plenties, and joyful births, Should not in this best garden of the world, Our fertile France, put up her lovely visage? Alas! she hath from France too long been chas’d, And all her husbandry doth lie on heaps, Corrupting in its own fertility… And as our vineyards, fallows, meads, and hedges, Defective in their natures, grow to wildness, Even so our houses and ourselves and children Have lost, or do not learn for want of time, The sciences that should become our country, But grow like savages,—as soldiers will, That nothing do but meditate on blood,.. my speech entreats That I may know the let why gentle Peace Should not expel these inconveniences, And bless us with her former qualities.

The full passage from which this quotation was taken can be be viewed below (front page quote in bold):

My duty to you both, on equal love, Great Kings of France and England! That I have labour’d With all my wits, my pains, and strong endeavours, To bring your most imperial majesties Unto this bar and royal interview, Your mightiness on both parts best can witness. Since then my office hath so far prevail’d That face to face, and royal eye to eye, You have congreeted, let it not disgrace me If I demand before this royal view, What rub or what impediment there is, Why that the naked, poor, and mangled Peace, Dear nurse of arts, plenties, and joyful births, Should not in this best garden of the world, Our fertile France, put up her lovely visage? Alas! she hath from France too long been chas’d, And all her husbandry doth lie on heaps, Corrupting in its own fertility. Her vine, the merry cheerer of the heart, Unpruned dies; her hedges even-pleach’d, Like prisoners wildly overgrown with hair, Put forth disorder’d twigs; her fallow leas The darnel, hemlock and rank fumitory Doth root upon, while that the coulter rusts That should deracinate such savagery; The even mead, that erst brought sweetly forth The freckled cowslip, burnet, and green clover, Wanting the scythe, all uncorrected, rank, Conceives by idleness, and nothing teems But hateful docks, rough thistles, kecksies, burs, Losing both beauty and utility; And as our vineyards, fallows, meads, and hedges, Defective in their natures, grow to wildness, Even so our houses and ourselves and children Have lost, or do not learn for want of time, The sciences that should become our country, But grow like savages,—as soldiers will, That nothing do but meditate on blood,— To swearing and stern looks, diffus’d attire, And every thing that seems unnatural. Which to reduce into our former favour You are assembled; and my speech entreats That I may know the let why gentle Peace Should not expel these inconveniences, And bless us with her former qualities.

[More works by William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616) and on Literature]