[Ads-l] " An Army Marches on Its Stomach "

Dan Goncharoff thegonch at GMAIL.COM
Thu Dec 29 20:00:22 EST 2016


Napoleon was well known for his stomach issues.

On Dec 29, 2016 7:46 PM, "ADSGarson O'Toole" <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com>
wrote:

> Napoleon's belly obsession was more extreme than most modern people
> are aware according to this 1849 citation: "The world is governed by
> its belly".
>
> Year: 1849
> Title: England's Grievance Discovered: In Relation to the Coal-trade;
> the Tyrannical Oppression of the Magistrates of Newcastle;
> Quote Page 164
>
> https://books.google.com/books?id=b11HAAAAYAAJ&q=Napoleon#v=snippet&
>
> [Begin excerpt]
> The beer question ever returns. It would be difficult to say how much
> of the animosity of the nautical men of Shields against Newcastle, and
> their consequent efforts to overturn the monopoly of the latter, has
> had its origin in the beer. "The world," said Napoleon, "is governed
> by its belly."
> [End excerpt]
>
> Garson
>
> On Thu, Dec 29, 2016 at 7:26 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole
> <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Below is another variant ascribed to Napoleon in 1863.
> >
> > Date: September 1863
> > Title: Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War
> >
> > https://books.google.com/books?id=xWo_AQAAMAAJ&q=%
> 22army+crawls%22#v=snippet&
> >
> > [Begin excerpt]
> > The necessity of a long halt after Bragg's retreat was therefore
> > inevitable; yet, strange as it may seem, General Halleck, at
> > Washington, not appreciating Napoleon's maxim that "an army crawls
> > upon its belly," wondered and chafed at this delay...
> > [[End excerpt]
> >
> > Garson
> >
> >
> > On Thu, Dec 29, 2016 at 7:03 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole
> > <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> >> Below is an ascription to Napoleon of the "army travels on its belly"
> >> in 1869. Perhaps the writer read Carlyle and came to the same
> >> conclusion as Charlie. The quotation later evolved to use "march" and
> >> "stomach" while retaining the link to Napoleon. (The YBQ 1866 cite is
> >> attributed to Frederick).
> >>
> >> Date: November 1869
> >> Periodical: The Overland Monthly
> >> Volume 3, Number 5
> >> Article: Under Fire
> >> Start Page 432, Quote Page 434
> >> Database: Google Books
> >>
> >> https://books.google.com/books?id=PTkGAQAAIAAJ&q=%
> 22its+belly%22#v=snippet&
> >>
> >> [Begin excerpt]
> >> Napoleon's maxim, that an army travels on its belly, was metaphorical;
> >> but long range and repeating rifles have made it approximately true in
> >> a literal sense. Our double lines of battle sought the shelter of the
> >> ground as soon as blood was drawn.
> >> [End excerpt]
> >>
> >> Garson
> >>
> >>
> >> On Thu, Dec 29, 2016 at 5:02 PM, Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at yale.edu>
> wrote:
> >>> Charlie Doyle is so consistently accurate and insightful that I
> hesitate to disagree with him on anything, but I think that his 2012
> posting about the quotation "an army marches on its stomach" is misguided.
> In the Yale Book of Quotations I traced the army/stomach proverb back to
> 1866; Charlie improved upon this by finding it in Thomas Carlyle's History
> of Friedrich II (1858).  Carlyle wrote, "Leaders did not know then, as our
> little Friend at Berlin came to know, that an army, like a serpent, goes
> upon its belly."  My disagreement is not with the 1858 dating, which is an
> excellent discovery, but rather with Charlie's statement that "A casual
> reader might miss the reference, but it is not Fredrick being quoted there
> ... the epithet 'our little Friend' almost certainly refers to Napoleon!"
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> I believe that Carlyle was referring to Frederick the Great, not to
> Napoleon.  I base my conclusion on the following:
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> (1)  Of the thirteen non-Carlyle usages of the phrase "army like a
> serpent goes upon its belly" between 1858 and 1921 in Google
> Books/ProQuest/Readex/Newspapers.com/Archive.org, eleven describe it as a
> Frederick the Great quote and zero describe it as a Napoleon quote (two
> describe it as a Carlyle quote).  In other words, most readers of Carlyle
> interpreted "our little Friend at Berlin" as referring to Frederick, or
> based attribution of this wording to Frederick on some pre-1858 tradition.
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> (2)  Charlie may have assumed that "our little Friend at Berlin"
> referred to Napoleon, who is well known as having being little in stature.
> But Frederick the Great appears to have been only about five feet three
> inches tall.  And "at Berlin" seems more likely to apply to Frederick than
> to Napoleon.
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> I would welcome any responses from Charlie or other list members to
> the above.
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> To move on to another point, I am puzzled by the wording of "an army,
> like a serpent, goes upon its belly."  I assume that the army going on its
> belly or stomach means that the success of an army depends heavily on its
> soldiers being well fed.  But the serpent going on its belly seems rather a
> mixed metaphor: crawling on one's stomach is pretty different from filling
> one's stomach with food.  Am I right that this is an odd mixed metaphor?
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> Finally, the earliest sources I have found attributing the wording "an
> army marches on its stomach" to Napoleon are from 1896.  Can anyone point
> me to any pre-1896 Napoleon attributions of this or similar wordings?
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> Fred Shapiro
> >>>
> >>> ------------------------------------------------------------
> >>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


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