Friday, October 7, 2011
Booty: Famous Words
This Cracked article entitled, appropriately enough, The 10 Greatest Uses of Trash Talk in the History of War, is both amusing and instructive. The quotes all have a decided ring to them and are, I think, appropriate for more than just the situations in which they were originally used. From Jeanne d’Arc’s impeccable “The Maid is willing that you… not destroy yourself” (just insert your name in place of “The Maid”) to Pierre Jacques Etienne Cambronne’s simple but unequivocal “Merde!”, you really can’t go wrong with any of these.
As a side note before I continue, it must have been tooth-grindingly difficult for the Cracked writers, normally so full of “the best thing the French do in a fight is run away” canards, to, of necessity, include so many French warriors on this list.
Anyway, tucked in the middle of the pack are two incredible American seamen whose words should be memorialized by the citizens of their grateful country.
First, John Paul Jones. His response to the commander of HMS Serapis’ question “Do you strike, sir?” is legendary today. According to common knowledge, Jones replied: “I have not yet begun to fight!” In fact, it seems his actual response was: “I may sink, but I shall never strike.” Jones addressed Captain Pearson with yet more vinegar at the end of the battle: “You have fought valiantly, sir, and I pray that next time your king will give you a better ship.”
The other sailor on the list is Oliver Hazard Perry, the hero of the Battle of Lake Erie whose personal flag read “Don’t give up the ship”. Perry stated before the battle that “If a victory is to be gained, I will gain it”. As the article notes, he meant it. After defeating the premier navy in the world in their own back yard – Canada – Perry sent word to U.S. General and future President William Henry Harrison in one simple sentence: “We have met the enemy, and they are ours.” As the article notes, it is unfortunate that more credit is not given to Perry and his contemporaries now. Educators in the U.S. instead choose to ignore or denigrate every victory achieved by our ancestors during the War of 1812; a war that thinking people understand as our Second War for Independence.
But I’ve said too much all ready. Pop over to Cracked and enjoy a thought provoking giggle; it will be well worth your time. Be sure and stop in tomorrow for another round of Sailor Mouth Saturday. And if you have a chance before then, visit my dear friend Undine’s The World of Edgar Allan Poe for a heartfelt and thoughtful tribute to the genius, who died on this day in 1849.
With puns it has been said, that those most dislike who are least able to utter them ~ Poe, Marginalia
Header: John Paul Jones from a circa 1917 British cartoon