[PW] " An Army Marches on Its Stomach "

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com
Fri Dec 30 00:03:42 PST 2016

The Count de Las Cases claimed that Emperor Napoleon said "It is
hunger that makes the world move." This adage was thematically related
to the quotation under investigation although the military was not
mentioned. Here are the details.

Year: 1824
Title: Journal of the Private Life and Conversations of the Emperor
Napoleon at Saint Helena Author: The Count de Las Cases
(Emmanuel-Auguste-Dieudonné comte de Las Cases)
Volume 2 of 4
Printed for Henry Colburn, London
Quote Page 340 and 342
Section Date: July 9 to 11, 1816


[Begin excerpt from section header page 340]
The belly rules the world.
[End excerpt from section header]

[Begin excerpt from index page 374]
Analysis of the fable of the Wolf and the lamb.—Condemns the moral of
it: says that the belly governs the world
[End excerpt from index]

[Begin excerpt page 342]
Tristan is very idle. He confessed to the Emperor that he did not work
every day. "Do you not eat every day?" said the Emperor to him; "Yes,
Sire." "Well, then, you ought to work every day; no one should eat who
does not work." "Oh! if that be the case, I will work every day," said
the child, quickly. "Such is the influence of the belly," said the
Emperor, tapping that of little Tristan. "It is hunger that makes the
world move."
[End excerpt page 342]

The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations Online says:

[Begin excerpt]
Napoleon I (Napoleon Bonaparte) 1769–1821
An army marches on its stomach.

attributed, but probably condensed from a long passage in E. A. de Las
Cases Mémorial de Ste-Hélène (1823) vol. 4, 14 November 1816; also
attributed to Frederick the Great, in Notes and Queries 10 March 1866;
see proverbs, Sellar and Yeatman
[End excerpt]

So I attempted to locate the pertinent passages in the section dated
November 14, 1816 in volume 4 of the work by Count de Las Cases. The
text below was the best I could find. I guess one might condense the
words below to "An army marches on its stomach", but I do not find
this quotation origin theory very plausible.

Year: 1824
Title: Journal of the Private Life and Conversations of the Emperor
Napoleon at Saint Helena Author: The Count de Las Cases
(Emmanuel-Auguste-Dieudonné comte de Las Cases)
Volume 4 of 4


[Begin excerpt from page 196]
There could be no perfect army, until in imitation of the Roman
custom, the soldier should receive his supply of corn, grind it in his
hand-mill, and bake his bread himself. We could not hope to possess an
army, until we should abolish all our monstrous train of civil
attendants, and commissary officers.
[End excerpt]

[Begin excerpt from page 197]
"By the adoption of the ancient plan," said he, "an army might have
marched to the further extremity of the world. But, it would require
time to bring about such a transition. It could not have been
accomplished by a mere order of the day. I had long entertained the
idea of such a change; but however great might have been my power, I
should never have attempted to introduce it by force. There is no
subordination with empty stomachs. Such an object could only have been
effected in time of peace, and by insensible degrees: I should have
accomplished it by creating new military manners."
[End excerpt]


On Thu, Dec 29, 2016 at 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://books.google.com/books?id=b11HAAAAYAAJ&q=Napoleon#v=snippet&
> [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

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