1813.5 - "War the Source of Riches"

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British War Poetry in the Age of Romanticism 1793-1815, by Betty T. Bennet, Edited by Orianne Smith

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1813.5
War the Source of Riches
“H. R.”
The Monthly Magazine, XXXV (May 1, 1813), p. 333

What nonsense they talk who complain of a War
Which makes us all greater and richer by far:
And tho' no War known, ever lasted so long,
Yet this may go on to the end of the song.

I remember the time when we all were at peace,
When rich men and poor men all liv'd at their ease;
When the great could drink claret, the midling sort port,
And ale or grog flow'd for th' inferior sort,
But War levels all, or makes us all rich,
Whether buried in th' Abbey, or dead in a ditch.

I remember, that formerly Cits worth a plum
Were call'd very rich—but now such a sum
Is a younger child's portion—since some worth a million
Have fail'd!—or jigg'd off in death's dance of cotillon.
Then what nonsense to talk of the horrors of War,
Which makes the small great, and the poor richer far.

Say, how can this happen; has England more acres?
No, the land is the same, but your great fortune makers
Without gold or silver can purchase the land,
And this is the thing that some can't understand;
Now the thing is as plain as your A, B, and C,
For those that can't read can get money, we see:

As thus—an army must have cloaths and food,
(With powder and ball for the enemies good,)
Then who must supply them, and who are the factors?
Why Agents, and Brokers, and army Contractors.
Messrs. A. B. and C. and so quite down to Zed,
Men who cypher and sum, tho' they little have read,
And if twenty-four of such letters agree,
They establish a bank—Messrs. A. B. and C.

Their notes go for guineas, next year something more,
The next for more still, till at length a full score
Will scarce buy so much as a guinea before;
Yet he who possesses the most of such rags,
Is rich without silver or gold in his bags.

Then what nonsense to talk of the ruin of War,
When such riches are coin'd without bullion from far:
Thus no one can tell what by War's won or lost,
But the Tellers, who're paid for not telling its cost.


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Published @ RC

September 2004