Home > Uncategorized > Tobias Smollett: War contractors fattened on the blood of the nation

Tobias Smollett: War contractors fattened on the blood of the nation

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

Tobias Smollett
From The Expedition of Humphry Clinker (1771)

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All these absurdities arise from the general tide of luxury, which hath overspread the nation, and swept away all, even the very dregs of the people. Every upstart of fortune, harnessed in the trappings of the mode, presents itself at Bath, as in the very focus of observation. – Clerks and factors from the East Indies, loaded with the spoil of plundered provinces; planters, negro-drivers, and hucksters, from our American plantations, enriched they know not how; agents, commissaries, and contractors, who have fattened, in two successive wars, on the blood of the nation; usurers, brokers, and jobbers of every kind; men of low birth, and no breeding, have found themselves suddenly translated into a state of affluence, unknown to former ages; and no wonder that their brains should be intoxicated with pride, vanity, and presumption. Knowing no criterion of greatness, but the ostentation of wealth, they discharge their affluence without taste or conduct, through every channel of the most absurd extravagance…

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