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Thomas Holcroft: Reaping vast crops of famine, sword, and fire

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

British writers on peace and war

Thomas Holcroft: In wars and wretchedness I cannot say that I delight

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Thomas Holcroft
From Know Thyself

A man there was, virtuous and wise,
Whose worth the tyrant’s rage enflam’d
To madness, if he were but nam’d;
Yet every tongue that would recognize.
I grant this man with freedom spoke
Some truths, that might surmise provoke;
For sweet humanity he lov’d,
And all the arts of peace approv’d;
Nay openly professed to hate
The broils, and wars, that make earth desolate:
When prejudice of nations stood
Against their mutual brotherhood,
And when he heard the wicked aim
Such hell-born false and fatal prejudice t’ inflame,
And animosities prolong,
At times like these,
I grant this language might be strong…

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From The Arab and his Three Sons

And first the man of war, the fighting blade,
Those prowess made both wise and foolish wonder,
He found that enemies the more he made,
The more he had to conquer, kill, and plunder.

Revengeful wrath became his daily bread;
Oh with what gusto did he hurl defiance!
He scorn’d him, who went peaceably to bed;
With slaughter, wounds, and death, he sought alliance.

He from compassion felt himself exempt;
His business with mankind was t’ inflame ’em;
Your quiet souls he held in high contempt,
For he by quarrelling could only tame ’em.

That heroes were destroyers well he knew,
For he had read their wondrous praise in story;
The more infernal mischief they could do
The brighter blaz’d that circle call’d their glory.

Well, let us then suppose him, for the present,
Reaping vast crops of famine, sword, and fire…

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