John Fortescue (historian)

British military historian

John William Fortescue (28 December 1859 – 22 October 1933) was a British historian, appointed KCVO in 1926.

Quotes edit

  • An empire had been won: there remained the task of providing for its administration and its defence. The gain in mere territory was in itself stupendous; and though much of it might be but thinly populated, yet new territory implied new subjects. Apart from India, where, as shall be told in its place, the work of conquest had not been bounded by the the expulsion of the French, the Spaniard required to be conciliated anew in Minorca; while in the West Indies, and still more in Canada and Florida, there were not only French and Spanish Colonists that must be absorbed, but large tribes of Indians, formerly dependent upon them, who must be summoned suddenly to cancel ancient treaties and friendships, and, though themselves unconquered, to tranfer their amity to the nation that had vanquished their former allies.
  • Let us clear our minds of cant. What is the economy of this world, so far as we have eyes to see and intellects to understand it, but destruction and renewal, destruction and renewal? And it is really impossible, except by out petty human standards, to distinguish the one from the other.
  • To turn now to the great enemy, Napoleon appears to have thought in 1810 that his work of subduing Europe was nearly done; and indeed the year 1811 was the quietest that he spent during the whole of his reign as Consul or Emperor. France, being no extreme sufferer from the Continental Blockade, was fairly tranquil and contented; and even the subject states might with proper management have become so likewise. Napoleon's administration in many countries, most notably in Italy and Western Germany, was a great improvement upon that of the former rulers; and, but for the incessant exactions of men and money, his government might very well have gained popularity. But it never occurred to Napoleon to win the hearts of the people whom he subjugated. To him they were instruments not children, tributaries not subjects, for his whole Empire was little more to him than an organised coalition for the overthrow of England.
  • As long as one man has a greater brain or a stronger arm than another—nay, so long as one woman has a more beautiful head of hair than another—so long will there be envy, jealousy, hatred, malice, and war.

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