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

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Dec 29 20:08:25 EST 2016


Maybe he had nightmares in which an army was marching on his stomach.

> On Dec 29, 2016, at 8:00 PM, Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> 
> 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://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__books.google.com_books-3Fid-3Db11HAAAAYAAJ-26q-3DNapoleon-23v-3Dsnippet-26&d=CwIBaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=67_P_Sw0eDr_B0O2YjKSkgLFOp7b8PWzMXqCR-PB2Qs&s=K4vHZcDVh7DOSstVsFe1dYz5_Shn_e7Iww_g4nL6aoE&e= 
>> 
>> [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://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__books.google.com_books-3Fid-3DxWo-5FAQAAMAAJ-26q-3D-25&d=CwIBaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=67_P_Sw0eDr_B0O2YjKSkgLFOp7b8PWzMXqCR-PB2Qs&s=QV5qTPGmu3jA5MooTMWEA_bx3te9MkNifkyBmxf9zwU&e= 
>> 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://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__books.google.com_books-3Fid-3DPTkGAQAAIAAJ-26q-3D-25&d=CwIBaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=67_P_Sw0eDr_B0O2YjKSkgLFOp7b8PWzMXqCR-PB2Qs&s=tcZe57biOMmhDp8eog0KTqpCc8o9Gn4jt8V33dFrKZw&e= 
>> 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 - https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.americandialect.org&d=CwIBaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=67_P_Sw0eDr_B0O2YjKSkgLFOp7b8PWzMXqCR-PB2Qs&s=qdkPVaKSQPe2fSfJy7C1k-sm5bDZZZucUZltfufQXls&e= 
>> 
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.americandialect.org&d=CwIBaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=67_P_Sw0eDr_B0O2YjKSkgLFOp7b8PWzMXqCR-PB2Qs&s=qdkPVaKSQPe2fSfJy7C1k-sm5bDZZZucUZltfufQXls&e= 
>> 
> 
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.americandialect.org&d=CwIBaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=67_P_Sw0eDr_B0O2YjKSkgLFOp7b8PWzMXqCR-PB2Qs&s=qdkPVaKSQPe2fSfJy7C1k-sm5bDZZZucUZltfufQXls&e= 

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