Self-Interest – Sovereign Interest

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


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