Peace! Peace! Peace!

So good they named it three times, ‘Peace! Peace! Peace!’ has been used as a headline as long as newspapers have existed. It is probably a translated quotation from the 128th poem of ‘Canzoniere’ by the Renaissance poet, Francesco Petrarca (Patrarch).

I’ vo gridando: pace, pace, pace.

The modern translation often used is ‘I wander crying: peace, peace, peace’ but the word gridando could also be translated as shout, scream or, even, bawl.

A search of the British Newspaper Archive for “Peace! Peace! Peace!” produces hundreds of results but the articles are rarely about peace: more often they extol the economic, political, or even religious, case for war, war, war. The earliest use of the phrase in the archive is from the Newcastle Courant, Saturday 19 February 1743 demonstrates the dichotomy.

On the shameful Management of the War,and the Reason of it.
[…] Peace!. Peace! Peace! on any Terms, had been the Cry within Doors, and the Eccho of his Creatures without, from the Time that the Nation first demanded Vengeance on their Enemies; and, in order to silence our Merchants, when they complain’d of their insupportable Losses, they were not only reproach’d for carrying on an illicit Trade, but, in Papers known to be under the Influence and Direction of the Minister, the Conduct of Spain was publickly justified. In the same Papers, likewise, our Eagerness to enter into a War, was sometimes declaim’d against, sometimes ridiculed, and always represented as flowing from natioual Pride, Prejudice, Faction, any thing but right Reason, found Policy, or even Common Sense.

The quotation was, and is, sometime attributed to Lord Falkland (Lucius Cary, 2nd Viscount Falkland, 1610 – 1643), who fought and died on the Royalist side in the English Civil War.

“Sitting amongst his friends, often, after a deep silence and frequent sighs (he) would with a shrill and sad accent ingeminate the word “Peace, Peace,” and would passionately profess that the very agony of the war, and the view of the calamities and desolation the kingdom did and must endure, took his sleep from him and would shortly break his heart.” Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon.

Notice that the word ‘peace’ is only repeated twice , and is a quotation from Jeremiah 6:14, but, perhaps through entanglement with Patrarch’s words, he acquired an extra ‘peace’ in later times. The following article, widely syndicated across the British press in 1831, illustrates the point.

From the Londonderry Sentinel – Saturday 12 March 1831

The Right Hon. Baronet was arguing, the House would anticipate, the Catholic relief bill; and, after going very largely into the state of Ireland, he proceeded thus: We have also had the sad experience of that other and greater calamity, civil discord and bloodshed. Surely it is no unmanly fear that shudders at its recurrence, no degenerate impulse that prompts one to exclaim with Lord Falkland ‘Peace! peace! peace!’ that looks out with anxiety for the alternatives by which civil war may be honourably averted, which may rescue ll»c natives of the same land, and the fellow-subject of the same king, from the dire necessity of embruing their hands each other’s blood.
Coænt in fœdera dextræ
Bi datur—est armis arma cavete.

The quotation with three peaces also gained exclamation marks as the years passed, with the Cork Courier going for something of a world record while marking the end of the Crimean War in 1856.

From the Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Courier – Thursday 03 April 1856

A New Song by the Author and Composer of “The Postman’s Knock.”

Joy every face is beaming.
Hearts beat high and voices ring;
War no longer slays its thousands.
Lo! the olive branch we bring.
Shout then Britons—raise your voices
High Heaven’s Eternal Throne;
Change the war-drum for the Tabor,
Swords to ploughshares —Peace it known!

No longer down the cheek of beauty
Shall the tears of sorrow fall;
Wives no longer see their partners
Drop before the vengeful ball.
Lisping babes, the parent’s treasure.
Still shall own a father’s hand,
Peace, with her twin sister Plenty,
Reign triumphant o’er the land!


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