view sourceprint? 01 Ramblings from a Ranch Wife: "The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword."

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"The darkest nights produce the brightest stars"

Friday, March 8, 2013

"The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword."

Today while feeding cows, TR informed me he had a pencil in his boot.  Yes, a pencil in his boot.  I asked him, why he had a pencil in his boot.  He told me he had seen an army guy and a knight, and they both kept knives in their boots, so he though he would keep a pencil in his.

I told him that was a good idea because "The pen is mightier than the sword" (Edward Bulwer-Lytton).  Of course he gave me a funny face because really, how can a pen hurt you?  This of course turned into a great teaching opportunity for TR and myself.

I explained to him that history is influenced more by written word than by warfare, and that with a pen, a person can cause people to change their opinions on a large scale whereas a sword can only change a person's opinion by force and then often only results in the person's death.  Of course a lot of it was lost on a 5 year old.

It did get me to thinking a little bit though.  Where did the phrase come from?  So I did a little research.

 "The pen is mightier than the sword" is a metonymic adage coined by English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839 for his play Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy. The play was about Cardinal Richelieu, though in the author's words "license with dates and details... has been, though not unsparingly, indulged." The Cardinal's line in Act II, scene II, was more fully:
True, This! —
Beneath the rule of men entirely great
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold
The arch-enchanters wand! — itself is nothing! —
But taking sorcery from the master-hand
To paralyse the Cæsars, and to strike
The loud earth breathless! — Take away the sword —States can be saved without it! 
Bulwer-Lytton didn't have the original idea, several men said pretty much the same thing, just worded differently.  He gets the credit for it though. There ya go, a wrinkle in your brain, and honestly, I would much rather TR carry a pencil in his boot than a knife!

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