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Thomas Middleton: The Peacemaker

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

British writers on peace and war

Thomas Middleton: Selections on peace and war

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Thomas Middleton
From The Peacemaker

Peace and Contention lie here on Earth, as trading factors for life and death. Who desires not to have traffic with life? who (weary of life) but would die to live?

Peace is the passage from life to life, come then to the factory of Peace, thou that desirest lo have life: behold the substitute of Peace on earth, displaying the flag of Peace, Beati pacifici.

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Were blows more bountiful to thee? Did blood yield thee benefit? War afford thee wealth? Didst thou make that thine own by violence, which was another’s by right? It may be, the hand-maid was fruitful, and the mistress barren; but Sarah has now brought forth, and in her seed are the blessings come.

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The trading merchant finds it, who daily ploughs the sea, and as daily reaps the harvest of his labours. What wants England that the world can enrich her with? Tyre sends in her purples; India her spices; Afric her gold; Muscovy her costly skins of beasts; all her neighbour countries their best traffic, and all purchased by friendly commerce, not (as before) by savage cruelty.

The fearless trades and handicraft men sing away their labours all day (having no noise drowned with either noise of drum or cannon) and sleep with peace at night.

The frolic countryman opens the fruitful earth, and crops his plenty from her fertile   bosom; nay, even his toiling beasts are trapped with bells, who taste (in their labours) the harmony of peace with their awful governors.

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Peace – stay and abide with her, and thou shalt never know her enemies, God’s enemies, and thine own enemies: let them that seek Peace, find Peace, enjoy Peace, and have their souls laid up in Eternal Peace.

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And where there is no Peace, all other benefits have a cessation. It is the only health of thy soul; and that once lost, thy soul sickens immediately, even to death, and can no more taste or relish a joy after than a sick man’s palate his nutriment.

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When was war sent as a blessing, or peace as a punishment?

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Behold the Father, the God of Peace; the Son, the Lamb of Peace; the blessed Spirit, the Dove of Peace; the angels, servants, and ministers to this power of Peace; infinities and all rejoicing at one soul’s entrance into Peace.

Behold the new Jerusalem, Kirjath-salem, the City of Peace ; that which was militant and troubled in the wilderness (the Church) behold it there triumphant in ever blessed Peace, that Peace which as it is unintelligible, so is it most unutterable.

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