War and Politics


Beilby Porteus

In one of the many heated debates in the House of Peers regarding England’s participation in the French Revolution in 1794, a noble lord on the opposition quoted a portion of a poem about war written by Bishop Beilby Porteus (1731 – 1809):

One murder makes a villain;
Millions, a hero! Princes are privileged
To kill, and numbers sanctify the crime.
Ah! why will kings forget that they are men;
And men, that they are brethren? Why delight
In human sacrifice? Why burst the ties
Of nature, that should knit their souls together
In one soft bond of amity and love?
They yet still breathe destruction, still go on,
Inhumanly ingenious to find out
New pains for life; new terrors for the grave.
Artificers of death! Still monarchs dream
Of universal empire growing up
From universal ruin. Blast the design.
Great God of Hosts! Nor let thy creatures fall
Unpitied victims at Ambition’s shrine.

Porteus was known for supporting Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger (1759 – 1806), who advocated war with France through various propaganda. He was in the audience when his poem was read so an earl asked him if he was really the one who wrote those outstanding lines. “Yes, my lord,” he replied, “but they were not composed for the present war!”

Reference (Click to Show)

William P. Mimmo (18689). Clergymen and Doctors.


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My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is edmarklaw@learnfunfacts.com

5 thoughts on “War and Politics

  1. Good stuff. I agree with Debra. The historic context is compelling. That’s humanity’s problem with war. War, in general, is a hideous misadventure. However, “our” war is always a just endeavor somehow supported by God and all that is good. The poet was clearly among those thus afflicted.


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