G.A. Henty Quotes

It has taken my family a long time, but we have finally begun reading some of the historical fiction by G.A. Henty. I am not sure why we have waited so long. The books are excellent, well-written, full of virtue, nobility and violence. My boys have really enjoyed the ones they have read. I am currently reading St. George for England, a story set in the late 1300’s. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes from the book. The first quote is from a chapter describing a “mock” siege of a castle by young men (ages 15-20?) during a tournament in the city. Remember this is “pretend” war, not real war.

“In spite of armour and mail, many serious wounds had been inflicted and some of the combatants had already been carried senseless from the field. Some of the assailants had been shaken by being thrown backward from the ladders into the moat, one or two were hurt to death; but as few tourneys took place without the loss of several lives this was considered but a small amount of damage for so stoutly fought a melee, and the knowledge that many were wounded, and some perhaps dying, in no way damped the enthusiasim of the spectators who cheered lustily for some minutes at the triumph the city had obtained.”

This second quote is from earlier in the book where two men are discussing the effect of war upon women. The discussion moves however, to the topic of heroes. The last part of the quote really struck me as an accurate description of our society. The people admired and honored in our culture are rarely those who have done valiant deeds, but rather those who are rich and weathly, particularly movies stars, musicians, and politicians. These have earned the status of high priest on our society. The other interesting aspect of the quote is that the man is saying that greed for wealth causes one to cease doing great deeds. Greed makes one a coward.

“Women suffer most from wars, no doubt…and yet do you mark that they are more stirred by deeds of valour and chivalry than are we men; that they are ever ready to bestow their love upon those who have won honour and glory in war, even although the next battle may leave them widows. This has been always somewhat of a marvel to me; but I suppose that it is human nature, and that admiration for deeds of valour and bravery is ingrained in heart of man and will continue until such times come that the desire for wealth, which is ever on the increase, has so seized on all men that they will look with distaste upon everything which can interfere with the making of money and will regard the man who amasses gold by trading as a higher type than he who does valiant deeds in battle.”