Home > Uncategorized > Erasmus: How an astute general conducts warfare

Erasmus: How an astute general conducts warfare

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

Erasmus: Selections on war

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Desiderius Erasmus
From Colloquy: The Funeral
Translated by N. Bailey

Marcolphus.
The Man understood Oeconomy, I perceive, that had the Skill to compose so many Differences, even upon his Death-Bed.

Phaedrus.
Phoo; he had been an Officer in the Army for many Years, where such Sort of Mutinies are common among the Soldiers.

Mar.
Had he a great Estate?

Ph.
A very great one.

Mar.
But ill-gotten perhaps, as is common, by Rapine, Sacrilege, and Extortion.

Ph.
Indeed Officers commonly do so, and I will not swear for him that he was a Jot better than his Neighbours: But if I don’t mistake the Man, he made his Fortune by his Wit, rather than by down-right Violence.

Mar.
After what Manner?

Ph.
He understood Arithmetic very well.

Mar.
And what of that?

Ph.
What of that? why, he would reckon 30000 Soldiers when there were but 7000, and a great many of those he never paid neither.

Mar.
A very compendious Way of accounting!

Ph.
Then he would lengthen out the War, and raise Contributions monthly, both from Friends and Foes; from his Enemies, that they might not be plunder’d; and from his Friends, that they might have Commerce with the Enemy.

Mar.
I know the common Way of Soldiers…

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Ph.
Now the Pope’s Bull is to be read, wherein he is promised a full Pardon of all his Sins, and an Exemption from the Fear of Purgatory; and with a Justification over and above of his whole Estate.

Mar.
What, of an Estate gotten by Rapine?

Ph.
Gotten by the Law of Arms, and Fortune of War…

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