From Sermon preached at Whitehall, April 20, 1620
From the first temporall blessing of peace, we may consider the lovelinesse, the amiablenesse of that, if we looke upon the horror and gastlinesse of warr: either in Effigie, in that picture of warre, which is drawn in every leafe of our own Chronicles, in the blood of so many Princes, and noble families, or if we looke upon warre it self, at that distance at which it cannot hurt us…In all Cities, disorderly and facinorous men, covet to draw themselves into the skirts and suburbs of those Cities, that so they may be the nearer the spoyle, which they make upon passengers. In all Kingdomes that border upon other Kingdomes, and in Islands which have no other border but the Sea, particular men, who by dwelling in those skirts and borders, may make their profit of spoile, delight in hostility, and have an adversenesse and detestation of peace: but it is not so within: they who till the earth, and breed up cattell, and imploy their industry upon Gods creatures, according to Gods ordinance, feele the benefit and apprehend the sweetnesse, and pray for the continuance of peace.
From The Picture (1630)
…I have observed,
When horrid Mars, the touch of whose rough hand
With palsies shakes a kingdom, hath put on
His dreadful helmet, and with terror fills
The place where he, like an unwelcome guest,
Resolves to revel, how the lords of her, like
The tradesman, merchant, and litigious pleader,
And such like scarabs bred in the dung of peace,
In hope of their protection, humbly offer
Their daughters to their beds, heirs to their service,
And wash with tears their sweat, their dust, their scars:
But when those clouds of war, that menaced
A bloody deluge to the affrighted state,
Are, by their breath, dispersed, and overblown,
And famine, blood, and death, Bellona’s pages,
[Are] Whipt from the quiet continent to Thrace…
From David’s Hainous Sinne
Were there not used in the days of yore
Enough men-murdering engines? But our age
Witty in wickedness must make them more,
By new found plotts mens malice to inrage:
So that fire-spitting canons to the cost
Of Christian blood all valour have ingrost,
Whose finding makes that many a life is lost.
From The Civil Wars
Translated by Horace White
When all was in readiness on both sides they waited for some time in profound silence, hesitating, looking steadfastly at each other, each expecting the other to begin the battle. They were stricken with sorrow for the great host, for never before had such large Roman armies confronted the same danger together. They had pity for the valor of these men (the elite of both parties), especially because they saw Romans embattled against Romans. As the danger came nearer, the ambition that had inflamed and blinded them was extinguished, and gave place to fear. Reason purged the mad passion for glory, estimated the peril, and exposed the cause of the war, showing how two men contending with each other for supremacy had put themselves in a position where the one who should be vanquished could no longer hold even the humblest place, and how so great a number of the nobility were incurring the same risk on their account. The leaders reflected also that they, who had lately been friends and relatives by marriage, and had coöperated with each other in many ways to gain rank and power, had now drawn the sword for mutual slaughter and were leading to the same impiety those serving under them, men of the same city, of the same tribe, blood relations, and in some cases brothers against brothers. Even these circumstances were not wanting in this battle; because many unexpected things must happen when thousands of the same nation come together in the clash of arms. Reflecting on these things each of them was seized with unavailing repentance, and since this day was to decide for each whether he should be the highest or the lowest of the human race, they hesitated to begin the fight. It is said that both of them shed tears.
From Mine Own John Poynz
I cannot speak and look like a saint,
Use willes for wit, and make deceit a pleasure,
And call craft counsel, for profit still to paint.
I cannot wrest the law to fill the coffer
With innocent blood to feed myself fat,
And do most hurt where most help I offer.
I am not he that can allow the state
Of him Caesar, and damn Cato to die,
That with his death did scape out of the gate
From Caesar’s hands (if Livy do not lie)
And would not live where liberty was lost;
So did his heart the common weal apply.
And he that dieth for hunger of the gold
Call him Alexander…
Say he is rude that cannot lie and feign;
The lecher a lover; and tyranny
To be the right of a prince’s reign.
I cannot, I; no, no, it will not be!
From Count Leo Tolstoi
He extracts this central doctrine, or rule of Jesus, from the Sermon on the Mount, and presents it in a body of commandments – Christ’s commandments; the pith, he says, of the New Testament as the Decalogue is the pith of the Old. These all-important commandments of Christ are ‘commandments of peace,’ and five in number. The first commandment is: ‘Live in peace with all men…’
If these five commandments were generally observed, says Count Tolstoi, all men would become brothers. Certainly the actual society in which we live would be changed and dissolved. Armies and wars would be renounced.
From On the Nature of Things
Translated by John Dryden
Delight of humankind, and Gods above,
Parent of Rome; propitious Queen of Love,
Whose vital pow’r, Air, Earth, and Sea supplies,
And breeds what e’r is born beneath the rolling skies:
For every kind, by thy prolific might,
Springs, and beholds the regions of the light.
Thee, Goddess, thee the clouds and tempests fear,
And at thy pleasing presence disappear:
For thee the land in fragrant flow’rs is dress’d;
For thee the Ocean smiles, and smooths her wavy breast;
And heav’n it self with more serene and purer light is blest.
For when the rising Spring adorns the Mead,
And a new Scene of Nature stands display’d,
When teeming buds, and cheerful greens appear,
And Western gales unlock the lazy year:
The joyous Birds thy welcome first express;
Whose native Songs thy genial fire confess;
Then salvage Beasts bound o’re their slighted food,
Strook with thy darts, and tempt the raging flood.
All Nature is thy Gift; Earth, Air, and Sea:
Of all that breaths, the various progeny,
Stung with delight, is goaded on by thee.
O’re barren Mountains, o’re the flowery Plain,
The leafy Forest, and the liquid Main
Extends thy uncontroll’d and boundless reign.
Through all the living Regions dost thou move,
And scatter’st, where thou goest, the kindly seeds of Love:
Since then the race of every living thing
Obeys thy pow’r; since nothing new can spring
Without thy warmth, without thy influence bear,
Or beautiful, or lovesome can appear;
Be thou my aid; My tuneful Song inspire,
And kindle with thy own productive fire;
While all thy Province, Nature, I survey,
And sing to Memmius an immortal lay
Of heav’n, and Earth, and every where thy wondrous power display:
To Memmius, under thy sweet influence born,
Whom thou with all thy gifts and graces dost adorn.
The rather then assist my Muse and me,
Infusing Verses worthy him and thee.
Meantime on Land and Sea let barb’rous discord cease,
And lull the list’ning world in universal peace
To thee Mankind their soft repose must owe;
For thou alone that blessing canst bestow;
Because the brutal business of the war
Is manag’d by thy dreadful Servant’s care;
Who oft retires from fighting fields, to prove
The pleasing pains of thy eternal Love:
And panting on thy breast supinely lies,
While with thy heavenly form he feeds his famish’d eyes;
Sucks in with open lips thy balmy breath,
By turns restor’d to life, and plung’d in pleasing death.
There while thy curling limbs about him move,
Involv’d and fetter’d in the links of Love,
When wishing all, he nothing can deny,
Thy Charms in that auspicious moment try;
With winning eloquence our peace implore,
And quiet to the weary World restore.
King of glorie, King of peace,
With the one make warre to cease;
With the other blesse thy sheep,
Thee to love, in thee to sleep.
Let not Sinne devoure thy fold,
Bragging that thy bloud is cold;
That thy death is also dead,
While his conquests dayly spread;
That thy flesh hath lost his food,
And thy Crosse is common wood.
Choke him, let him say no more,
But reserve his breath in store,
Till thy conquest and his fall
Make his sighs to use it all;
And then bargain with the winde
To discharge what is behind.
The soldier’s scarlet glowing from afar,
Shews that his bloody occupation’s war.
No more applause would on ambition wait,
And laying waste the world be counted great,
But one good-natured act more praises gain
Than armies overthrown, and thousands slain;
No more would brutal rage disturb our peace,
But envy, hatred, war, and discord cease…
Observe the quick migrations Learning makes,
How harass’d nations trembling she forsakes,
And haste away to build her downy nest
In happier climates, with peace and plenty blest.
Sometimes some famed historian’s pen
Recalls past ages past agen,
Where all I see, thro’ every page,
Is but how men, with senseless rage,
Each other rob, destroy and burn,
To serve a priest’s or a statesman’s turn;
Tho’ loaded with a diff’rent aim,
Yet always asses much the same…
Each, form’d for all, promotes thro’ private care
The public good, and justly tastes its share.
All understand their great Creator;s will,
Strive to me happy, and in that fulfill;
Mankind excepted, lord of all beside,
But only slave to folly, vice, and pride;
‘Tis he that deaf to this command alone,
Delights in others woe, and courts his own;
Racks and destroys with tort’ring steel and flame,
For lux’ry brutes, and man himself for fame;
Set Superstition high on Virtues’ throne,
Then thinks his Maker’s temper like his own;
Hence are his altars stained with reeking gore,
As if he could atone for crimes by more…
From the Second Epode
Translated by John Dryden
How happy in his low degree,
How rich in humble Poverty, is he,
Who leads a quiet country life!
Discharg’d of business, void of strife,
And from the gripeing Scrivener free.
(Thus, e’re the Seeds of Vice were sown,
Liv’d Men in better Ages born,
Who Plow’d, with Oxen of their own,
Their small paternal field of Corn.)
Nor Trumpets summon him to War
Nor drums disturb his morning Sleep,
From The Desolation of America (1777)
I see, I see, swift bursting through the shade,
The cruel soldier, and the reeking blade.
And there the bloody cross of Britain waves,
Pointing to deeds of death an host of slaves.
To them unheard the wretched tell their pain,
And every human sorrow sues in vain:
Their hardened bosoms never knew to melt;
Each woe unpitied, and each pang unfelt. –
See! where they rush, and with a savage joy,
Unsheathe the sword, impatient to destroy.
Fierce as the tiger, bursting from the wood,
With famished jaws, insatiable of blood!
Lo! Britain bended to the servile yoke,
Her fire extinguished, and her spirit broke,
Beneath the pressure of [a tyrant’s] sway,
Herself at once the spoiler and the prey,
Detest[s] the virtues she can boast no more
And envies every right to every shore!
At once to nature and to pity blind,
Wages abhorrèd war with humankind.
And wheresoe’er her ocean rolls his wave,
Provokes an enemy, or meets a slave.
The Soldier Going to the Field
Preserve thy sighs, unthrifty girl!
To purify the air;
Thy tears to thread, instead of pearl,
On bracelets of thy hair.
The trumpet makes the echo hoarse,
And wakes the louder drum,
Expense of grief gains no remorse,
When sorrow should be dumb.
For I must go where lazy peace
Will hide her drowsy head;
And, for the sport of kings, increase
The number of the dead.
But first I’ll chide thy cruel theft:
Can I in war delight,
Who, being of my heart bereft
Can have no heart to fight?
Thou knowest the sacred laws of old,
Ordained a thief should pay,
To quit him of his theft, sevenfold
What he had stolen away.
Thy payment shall but double be;
O then with speed resign
My own seducèd heart to me,
Accompanied with thine.
From In answer to an Elegiacall Letter upon the death of the King of Sweden from Aurelan Townsend, inviting me to write on that subject
And (since ’twas but his Church-yard) let him have
For his owne ashes now no narrower Grave
Than the whol German Continents vast womb,
Whilst all her Cities doe but make his Tomb.
But let us that in myrtle bowers sit
Vnder secure shades use the benefit
Of peace and plenty…
But these are subjects proper to our clyme.
Torueyes, Masques, Theaters better become
Our Halcyon dayes; what though the German Drum
Bellow for freedome and revenge? the noyse
Concernes not us, nor should divert our joyes;
Nor ought the thunder of their Carabins
Drown the sweet Ayres of our tun’d Violins;
Beleeve me friend, if their prevailing powers
Gain them a calm security like ours,
They’l hang their Armes upon the Olive bough.
And dance, and revell then, as we doe now…
From Palamon and Arcite
Rendered by John Dryden
But in the dome of mighty Mars the red
With different figures all the sides were spread;
This temple, less in form, with equal grace,
Was imitative of the first in Thrace;
For that cold region was the loved abode
And sovereign mansion of the warrior god.
The landscape was a forest wide and bare,
Where neither beast nor human kind repair,
The fowl that scent afar the borders fly,
And shun the bitter blast, and wheel about the sky.
A cake of scurf lies baking on the ground,
And prickly stubs, instead of trees, are found;
Or woods with knots and knares deformed and old,
Headless the most, and hideous to behold;
A rattling tempest through the branches went,
That stripped them bare, and one sole way they bent.
Heaven froze above severe, the clouds congeal,
And through the crystal vault appeared the standing hail.
Such was the face without: a mountain stood
Threatening from high, and overlooked the wood:
Beneath the lowering brow, and on a bent,
The temple stood of Mars armipotent;
The frame of burnished steel, that cast a glare
From far, and seemed to thaw the freezing air.
A straight long entry to the temple led,
Blind with high walls, and horror over head;
Thence issued such a blast, and hollow roar,
As threatened from the hinge to heave the door;
In through that door a northern light there shone;
‘Twas all it had, for windows there were none.
The gate was adamant; eternal frame,
Which, hewed by Mars himself, from Indian quarries came,
The labour of a God; and all along
Tough iron plates were clenched to make it strong.
A tun about was every pillar there;
A polished mirror shone not half so clear.
There saw I how the secret felon wrought,
And treason labouring in the traitor’s thought,
And midwife Time the ripened plot to murder brought.
There the red Anger dared the pallid Fear;
Next stood Hypocrisy, with holy leer,
Soft, smiling, and demurely looking down,
But hid the dagger underneath the gown;
The assassinating wife, the household fiend;
And far the blackest there, the traitor-friend.
On the other side there stood Destruction bare,
Unpunished Rapine, and a waste of war;
Contest with sharpened knives in cloisters drawn,
And all with blood bespread the holy lawn.
Loud menaces were heard, and foul disgrace,
And bawling infamy, in language base;
Till sense was lost in sound, and silence fled the place.
The slayer of himself yet saw I there,
The gore congealed was clotted in his hair;
With eyes half closed and gaping mouth he lay,
And grim as when he breathed his sullen soul away.
In midst of all the dome, Misfortune sate,
And gloomy Discontent, and fell Debate,
And Madness laughing in his ireful mood;
And armed Complaint on theft; and cries of blood.
There was the murdered corps, in covert laid,
And violent death in thousand shapes displayed:
The city to the soldier’s rage resigned;
Successless wars, and poverty behind:
Ships burnt in fight, or forced on rocky shores,
And the rash hunter strangled by the boars:
The new-born babe by nurses overlaid;
And the cook caught within the raging fire he made.
All ills of Mars’ his nature, flame and steel;
The gasping charioteer beneath the wheel
Of his own car; the ruined house that falls
And intercepts her lord betwixt the walls:
The whole division that to Mars pertains,
All trades of death that deal in steel for gains
Were there: the butcher, armourer, and smith,
Who forges sharpened fauchions, or the scythe.
The scarlet conquest on a tower was placed,
With shouts and soldiers’ acclamations graced:
A pointed sword hung threatening o’er his head,
Sustained but by a slender twine of thread.
There saw I Mars his ides, the Capitol,
The seer in vain foretelling Caesar’s fall;
The last Triumvirs, and the wars they move,
And Antony, who lost the world for love.
These, and a thousand more, the fane adorn;
Their fates were painted ere the men were born,
All copied from the heavens, and ruling force
Of the red star, in his revolving course.
The form of Mars high on a chariot stood,
All sheathed in arms, and gruffly looked the god;
Two geomantic figures were displayed
Above his head, a warrior and a maid,
One when direct, and one when retrograde.
From Davideis (1656)
Oft Strangers’ Iron Scepters bruis’d the Land
(Such still are those born by a Conquering Hand)
Oft pity’ing God did well-form’d Spirits raise,
Fit for the toilsome business of their days,
To free the groaning Nation, and to give
Peace first, and then the Rules in Peace to live.
But they whose stamp of Power did chiefly
In Characters too fine for most men’s Eye,
Graces and Gifts Divine; not painted bright
With state to awe dull minds, and force t’affright,
Were ill obey’d whil’st Living, and at death,
Their Rules and Pattern vanisht with their breath.
The hungry Rich all near them did devour,
Their Judge was Appetite, and their Law was Power.
Not want it self could Luxury restrain,
For what that empti’d, Rapine fill’d again.
Robbery the Field, Oppression sackt the Town;
What the Swords Reaping spar’d, was glean’d by th’Gown.
At Courts, and Seats of Justice to complain,
Was to be robb’d more vexingly again.
Nor was their Lust less active or less bold,
Amidst this rougher search of Blood and Gold.
Alarmed all by one fair stranger’s Eyes,
As to a sudden War the Town does rise
Shaking and pale, half dead e’re they begin
The strange and wanton Trag’edy of their sin,
All their wild Lusts they force her to sustain,
Till by shame, sorrow, weariness, and pain,
She midst their loath’d, and cruel kindness dies;
Of monstrous Lust th’ innocent Sacrifice.
This did (’tis true) a Civil War create
(The frequent curse of our loose-govern’d State)…
The cutthroat sword and the clamorous gown shall jar,
In sharing their ill-gotten spoils of war;
Chiefs shall be grudg’d the part which they pretend…
“War,” he sung, “is toil and trouble;
Honor, but an empty bubble;
Never ending, still beginning,
Fighting still, and still destroying…”
Never content with what you had before,
But true to change, and Englishmen all o’er.
New honor calls you hence, and all your care
Is to provide the horrid pomp of war.
In plume and scarf, jack boots and Bilbo blade,
Your silver goes, that should support our trade.
How blest is he, who leads a country life,
Unvex’d with anxious cares, and void of strife!
Who, studying peace and shunning civil rage,
Enjoy’d his youth, and now enjoys his age…
Enough for Europe has our Albion fought:
Let us enjoy the peace our blood has bought.
When once the Persian King was put to Flight,
The weary Macedons refus’d to fight:
Themselves their own Mortality confess’d;
And left the son of Jove, to quarrel for the rest.
Ev’n Victors are by Victories undone;
Thus Hannibal, with foreign laurels won,
To Carthage was recall’d, too late to keep his own.
While sore of battle, while our wounds are green,
Why should we tempt the doubtful die again?
In wars renew’d, uncertain of success,
Sure of a share, as umpires of the peace.
Some overpoise of sway, by turns they share;
In peace the people, and the prince in war:
Consuls of mod’rate pow’r in calms were made;
When the Gauls came, one sole dictator sway’d.
Patriots, in peace, assert the people’s right,
With noble stubbornness resisting might:
No lawless mandates from the court receive,
Nor lend by force; but in a body give.
(To My Honor’d Kinsman, John Driden)
“Beaumont, Fletcher, and Jonson (who were only capable of bringing us to that degree of perfection which we have), were just then leaving the world; as if in an age of so much horror, wit, and those milder studies of humanity, had no further business among us. But the Muses, who ever follow peace, went to plant in another country…”
(An Essay on Dramatic Poesy)
From Peace in Life and Art (1889)
If we compare ancient with modern art, and the minds and manners of our far ancestors with the minds and manners of the present time, it can hardly fail to strike us that the predominant presence of peace in the former and its absence in the latter constitute the most characteristic difference. Peace, as it was held to be the last effect and reward of a faithful life, was regarded as the ideal expression of life in painting, sculpture, poetry, and architecture; and accordingly the tranquil sphere of all the greatest of great art is scarcely troubled by a tear or a smile. This peace is no negative quality. It does not consist in the mere absence of disturbance by pain or pleasure. It is the peace of which St. Thomas says “perfect joy and peace are identical,” and is the atmosphere of a region in which smiles and tears are alike impertinences. In such art the expression of pain and pleasure is never an end, as it almost always is with us moderns, but a means of glorifying that peace which is capable of supporting either without perturbation.” Peace,” says again the great writer above quoted, “is the tranquillity of order, and has its seat in the will.”
Delights and pleasures demand, no less than grief and pain, to be subordinated to peace, in order to become worthy of life and art. The cynicism and the corrupt melancholy of much of our modern life and art are the inevitable results of the desires being set upon delights and pleasures in which there is not peace.
From Absalom and Achitophel (1681)
In Peace the thoughts of War he coud remove
And seem’d as he were onely born for Love.
Well knew the value of a peaceful reign;
And, looking backward with a wise afright,
Saw Seams of wounds, dishonest to the sight:
In contemplation of whose ugly Scars,
They curst the memory of Civil Wars.
Some thought they God’s Anointed meant to slay
By Guns, invented since full many a day…
To ply him with new Plots shall be my care;
Or plunge him deep in some Expensive War;
Which, when his Treasure can no more supply,
He must, with the Remains of Kingship, buy.
From The Judgement of Hercules (1741)
“Let the gull’d fool the toils of war pursue,
Where bleed the many to enrich the few
Where Chance from Courage claims the boasted prize;
Where, though she give, your country oft denies…”