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Samuel Butler: Religion of war

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

Samuel Butler: Valor in modern warfare

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Samuel Butler
From Hudibras (1663)

Great on the bench, great in the saddle,
That could as well bind o’er, as swaddle;
Mighty he was at both of these,
And styl’d of war, as well as peace.
(So some rats, of amphibious nature,
Are either for the land or water).

The diff’rence was so small, his brain
Outweigh’d his rage but half a grain;
Which made some take him for a tool
That knaves do work with, call’d a fool…

For his Religion, it was fit
To match his learning and his wit;
‘Twas Presbyterian true blue;
For he was of that stubborn crew
Of errant saints, whom all men grant
To be the true Church Militant;
Such as do build their faith upon
The holy text of pike and gun;
Decide all controversies by
Infallible artillery;
And prove their doctrine orthodox
By apostolic blows and knocks;
Call fire and sword and desolation,
A godly thorough reformation…

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