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C. P. Snow: Their day is done


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

British writers on peace and war

C.P. Snow: Selections on war


C. P. Snow
From The Light and The Dark

The news glared at him – for his melancholy was the melancholy of his nature, but it had drawn him into the horror of war.

Most of the college was uncomfortable and strained about the prospect of war: only one or two of the very old escaped….


They found themselves in a strong and sudden sympathy about the prospect of war. They could see no way out, and they were full of a revulsion almost physical in its violence….

“It will be frightful,” said Roy. Throughout he had spoken moderately and sensibly; he had said no more than many men were saying: he had remarked quietly that he did not know his own courage – it might be adequate, he could not tell.

“It will be frightful,” Lord Boscastle echoed the phrase. And I saw his eyes leave Roy and turn with clouded, passionate anxiety upon his son. Humphrey Bevill was good-looking in his frail, girlish way; his skin was pink, smooth and clear; he has his father’s beakish nose, which somehow did not distract from his delicacy. His eyes were bright blue, like his mother’s….

Lord Boscastle stared at his son with anxiety and longing; for Lord Boscastle could not restrain his strong instinctive devotion, and for him war meant nothing less than danger to his beloved son.


“No, Lewis, I’m afraid that Humphrey will always be innocent. He’s like his father. They’re quite unfit to cope with what will happen to them.”

“What will happen to them?”

“You know as well as I do. Their day is done. It will finish this time – if it didn’t in 1914, which I’m sometimes inclined to think….”

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