Home > Uncategorized > Vauvenargues: If we could discover the secret of banishing war forever

Vauvenargues: If we could discover the secret of banishing war forever


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

French writers on war and peace

Vauvenargues: Soldiers


From Reflections and Maxims
Translated by F. G. Stevens

If we could discover the secret of banishing war forever, of increasing the human race, and of securing to every man the means of subsistence, how ignorant and barbarous would our best laws appear!

What we dignify with the name of peace is really only a short truce, in accordance with which the weaker party renounces his claims, whether just or unjust, until such time as he can find an opportunity of asserting them with the sword.

Soldiers fire the camp they quit, in spite of the general’s orders; they love to trample underfoot the promise of the harvest, and ruin proud buildings. What prompts them to leave everywhere such enduring evidence of their savagery? Is it mere delight in mischief? or is it not rather that feeble spirits find in wantonness some notion of audacity and power?

Soldiers too become incensed against peoples in whose territories they wage war, because they cannot despoil them freely enough, and pillage is penalized. Those who do evil to others, hate them.

The profession of arms makes fewer reputations than it ruins.

Soldiers can secure promotion only on account of their rank or their abilities: two pretexts which favoritism can make use of to cloak injustice.

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