Denis Donoghue in The Chronicle Review maintains that, unlike rhetoric, eloquence never sent any soldier to be killed in a foreign field.
This is a recollection of his time at University College Dublin in the 1940s:
I was alert to the fact that there were a few cult books that we expected one another to know by heart, including At Swim-Two-Birds and Three Men in a Boat.
Citations from these took the place of conventional greetings. Precocious students would call to each other across a crowded Grafton Street: “Thou hast committed fornication”; and a loud reply was supposed to come: “But that was in another country, and besides, the wench is dead.” Not that we had read The Jew of Malta, the source of that exchange — we had read Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus, but not The Jew — but we knew that bit of dialogue because T.S. Eliot had used it as an epigraph to his Portrait of a Lady. Adepts of insult would regularly intone to a friend: “Thou hast nor youth nor age, but as it were an after dinner sleep, dreaming of both” — again one of Eliot’s epigraphs, this one from his poem “Gerontion.”