Archive for July 18th, 2011

Self-Interest – Sovereign Interest

July 18, 2011

Image from the 2008 Additions and Comment blog, which gives some good background information on the cartoon and the Embargo Act. I don’t know that this poem/song is about the Embargo Act, but it is from the time period leading up to it.



Tune — “Green grows the rushes O, &c.”

SELF_INTEREST predominant,
Rules in the constitution. O,
It is to man the end of want,
And all else is delusion, O.

O sovereign interest, O,
And O sovereign interest O,
The straightest course to human bliss,
Is best explain’d by interest O.

Self_interest’s a reigning God,
And main_spring of all action O,
Which we may find in all mankind,
Have full and free direction O.
O sovereign, &c.

Some swear, some lye and quarrel too,
And fight like dogs and vermin O;
We’ll search no laws to know the cause,
For int’rest will determine O.
O sovereign, &c.

Let charity, benevolence,
And friendship’s best devotion O,
Be all cast down and banish’d hence,
When int’rest is in motion O.
O sovereign, &c.

Let civil and religious names
Be lock’d up in the casket O,
And tender ties sink to the flames,
When int’rest pins the basket O.
O sovereign, &c.

Some know the rules of arithmetic,
As well as Henry Hogan O,
Can add and multiply so quick,
But int’rest cobs the noggin O.
O sovereign, &c.

What e’er we say, or think or do,
Is serious or in jest O,
A thousand ways we’ll twist and screw,
And sacrifice for interest O.
O sovereign, &c.

Some court the fair so debonair,
And swear they love like thunder O,
But de’l a hair for them they care,
If once they get the plunder O.
O sovereign, &c.

To take the land just as it stands,
As far as I have known ’em O,
Self_interest’s the great request,
And mighty summum bonum, O.
O sovereign interest, O, &c.

The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Nov 18, 1807


July 18, 2011

[From the Albany Register.]



Wise moralists in vain have told
How sordid is the love of gold,
Which they call filthy trash;
Thou stranger to these eyes of mine,
Ten Thousand virtues still are thine,
Thou all-sufficient CASH!

Tho’ thy intrinsic worth be small,
Yet, money, thou art in all —
Tho’ transient as a flash,
In passing just from hand to hand,
The earth is at thy sole command —
It gravitates to CASH.

Possessed of thee, we may defy
Nor death itself — but very nigh,
For when the tyrant’s lash
Is felt (and ah ’twas felt by me*)
It did — it will the vassal free —
Then who despises CASH?

By nature void of ev’ry grace,
If thou hast (reader! view thy face)
But this cosmetic wash;
‘Twill whiten and improve the skin —
Thy monkey nose, thy cheeks, thy chin,
Are beautiful by CASH.

And tho’ your mental pow’rs be weak,
(To you who money have I speak)
Ne’er fear to cut a dash;
For men of genius and sense,
If poor, will make a poor defence
Against the man of CASH.

Or should you for the basest crimes,
Become indicted fifty times,
This settles all the hash;
F??? ls which leave the poor no hope
I escape the dungeon, or the rope,
Are cancell’d, all, by CASH.

Nay ’twill be found that money can
The grovelling beast transform to man,
Tho’ diff’rent natures clash;
For ’tis a fact beyond dispute,
The miser’s far beneath the brute —
A lump of living CASH.

And yet what crowds around him wait —
Behold him cloth’d in pow’r and state —
The garter star and sash;
Fools fly before the potent nod
Of him whose flesh, whole soul, whole God,
Whole heav’n itself is CASH.

But, sons of Plutus, left you go,
To those infernal mines below,
Where teeth are said to gnash,
Give to the needy — bribe the grave —
O, If you wish your souls to save,
Be generous of your CASH.

*Mr. Ray was one of the American prisoners in Tripoli; and is now preparing a poem on that subject.

The Centinel (Gettysbug, Pennsylvania) Oct 14, 1807

WILLIAM RAY was born at Salisbury, in the county of Litchfield, Connecticut, December 9th, 1771. He wrote verses at about ten years of age, which the minister of his parish pronounced wonderful, and flattered the young author with the hopes of becoming as great a poet as Dr Watts. His father removed to the state of New York, and in the remote and solitary spot which he occupied, the youth had little chance to pursue his inclination for letters. At the age of nineteen, he went to reside in Dover, in Dutchess county, where he taught a school. This occupation he soon abandoned, and betook himself to trade, which he pursued for a few years, when he became bankrupt, and finding it impossible to obtain a release from his creditors, or support himself at home in any manner, he was forced to leave his wife, and set off for another quarter. He reached Philadelphia, with the prospect of finding a situation as an editor, but meeting with disappointment in this and every other attempt he made to provide for himself, and destitute of resources, he entered in a low capacity on board the frigate Philadelphia, according to his own statement, “without either inquiring or caring where she was bound.” She sailed in July, 1803, for the Mediterranean.

The Philadelphia was destined to join our squadron against Tripoli. After cruising in several ports of the Mediterranean, she fell in with an enemy’s ship off the harbor of Tripoli, on the 31st of October, and while giving her chase four or five miles from the town, the frigate struck on a rock, and in spite of all the efforts made to save her, was obliged to surrender to the Tripolitan gunboats. The crew were stripped, marched on shore, and set to hard labor. In their captivity, which endured more than a year and a half, they suffered great miseries, of which Ray has given us a very striking picture in his narrative.

Read the rest: (Google Book LINK) and more of his poetry from:

Title: Specimens of American Poetry.  Vol 2 –Page 137-144
Author: Samuel Kettell
Publisher: S.G. Goodrich and Co., 1829