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Daniel Defoe: Mammon and Mars, twin deities

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Daniel Defoe
From The Review (1707)


O Money, Money! What an influence hast thou on all the affairs of the quarreling, huffing part of this world, as well as upon the most plodding part of it! Without thee parliaments may meet, and councils sit, and kings contrive, but it will all be to no purpose, their councils and conclusions can never be put in execution! Thou raisest armies, fightest battles, fittest out fleets, takest town, kingdoms, and carriest on the great affairs of the war; All power, all policy is supported by thee, even vice and virtue act by thy assistance, by thee all the great things in the World are done, thou makest heroes, and crown’st the actions of the mighty; By thee, in one sense kings reign, armies conquer, princes grow great…

Well art thou called the God of this world; for in thy presence and absence consists all the heaven or hell of human affairs; for thee, what will not mankind do, what hazards will they run, what villanies perform? For thee, kings tyrannize, subjects are oppressed, nations ruined, fathers murdered, children abandoned, friends betrayed. Thou art the charm that unlocks the cabinet, unscrews nature; for thee, the traitor fawns, the parasite flatters, the profligate swears, and the hypocrite prays; for thee, the virgin prostitutes, the honourable degenerates, the wise man turns fool, the honest man a knave, the friend turns traitor, the brother turns a stranger, Christians turn Heathens, and Mankind devils.

In the Armies, Thou workest wonders too; there thou makest the coward fight, and the brave run away: thou givest victory, and leadest triumphs; all the caps and feathers stand upon thy head, and thou hast the passing of all commissions; Thou makest marshalls of France, governors of provinces, and lieutenant-generals; Thou makest bullies admirals…cowards commodores, and brutes leaders of men. For thee, the poor soldier strives to have his brains beat out, the Officers court thee through all the paths of death and horror; for thee the generals shift hands, serve any body, nobody, and every body; Thou makest Christians fight for the Turks, thou hirest servants to the Devil, nay to the very Czar of Muscovy.

For thee, the kings of the earth raise war, and the potsherds dash against one another. Thou art ambition, for pride is really nothing but covetousness; ’tis for thee the mighty sell their rest, their peace, and their souls in quest of crowns and conquests. They talk sometimes of other trifles, such as liberty, religion, and I know not what; but ’tis all for thee…

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