Tribute cartoons to the journalists in ~ Charlie Hebdo to compare pencils v guns, writers with fighters - it's likewise why part demonstrators space holding pens and pencils in the air. Numerous of the cartoons assert that "the pen is mightier 보다 the sword". But where walk this idea originate?

The English native "The pen is mightier than the sword" were an initial written by novelist and also playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839, in his historical play Cardinal Richelieu.

Richelieu, cook minister come King louis XIII, discovers a plot to kill him, but as a monk he is can not to take it up arms against his enemies.

Richelieu agrees: The pen is mightier than the sword... Take away the sword; States can be saved without it!

The saying quickly gained currency, states Susan Ratcliffe, associate editor of the Oxford quotations Dictionaries. "By the 1840s it to be a commonplace."

Today the is used in many languages, mostly translated from the English. The French version is: "La plume est to add forte que l'epee."

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Bulwer-Lytton is likewise renowned because that the opening line "It to be a dark and also stormy night" and also has given his name to an yearly contest because that badly written an initial sentences.

It to be a dark and also stormy night; the rain fell in torrents - except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust that wind which brushed up up the roadways (for it is in London the our step lies), rattling follow me the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty fire of the lamps the struggled against the darkness.

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In addition, Bulwer-Lytton is attributed with popularising the term "the an excellent unwashed" i m sorry he used in the same novel.

According come the Cambridge dictionaries website the saying emphasises the "thinking and writing have more influence top top people and events 보다 the use of force or violence".

But Bulwer-Lytton was not necessarily the an initial to refer this thought. Ratcliffe points to two previously texts.

Robert Burton, in The Anatomy that Melancholy, released in the at an early stage 17th Century, defines how bitterness jests and satire can cause distress - and also he suggests that "A blow v a word strikes deeper than a blow v a sword" was already, also in his day, an "old saying".

A similar phrase appears in George Whetstone's Heptameron of civil Discourses, published in 1582, Ratcliffe notes. "The dashe of a Pen, is more greeuous then the counterbuse that a Launce." (The dash of a pen is an ext grievous 보다 the counter use of a lance.)

Going earlier further, the Greek poet Euripides, who died about 406 BC, is occasionally quoted together writing: "The tongue is mightier 보다 the blade." but classics professor Armand D'Angour that Oxford university is doubtful around this.

"Occurrences of 'tongue' in Euripides space generally an adverse - the tongue (i.e. Speech) is less reliable 보다 deeds," he says.

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The roman inn poet Virgil too seems to take it a cynical view that the strength of speech, D'Angour says. "In the challenge of tools of war, my song avail as much as doves in the confront of eagles," he wrote in Eclogue 9.

But there to be a belief in classical times that the created word had actually the strength to survive "and transcend even the bloodiest events... Also if lock didn't in reality prevail against arms in the short term," claims D'Angour.

Napoleon is one more who is claimed to have contrasted word and also weapon. "Four hostile papers are an ext to be feared 보다 1,000 bayonets," he is occasionally quoted as saying.

Again, it's questionable whether these words did actually cross his lips, says Michael Broers, professor of west European background at Oxford college - yet he says the sentiment absolutely chimes with Napoleon's views.

"He respect the press and feared it too. That realised all his life the power of literature and also the power of the press," Broers says. When Napoleon involved power there were dozens of papers in France but he suppressed most of them, sanctioning just a grasp of publications.

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He additionally realised that the pen, in his own hand can be a weapon, claims Broers. "He knew the he might undermine the allies that had defeated him with his memoirs and also he did."

The cartoons released in tribute to the murdered Charlie Hebdo staff lug a selection of messages - that the pencil will at some point defeat the gunman, that one pencil when broken will come to be two, or that every total will find itself opposed by many pens. The demonstrators stop pencils aloft are signing as much as the same collection of ideas.

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Image caption, "In mourning for Cabu, my other artists, those who were massacred because of drawings"