COMPANION TO CANTO XLVI
Annotations in the List of Works Cited:
Author’s last name, first name. “Title of the Article or Individual Page.” Title of the Website, Name of the Publisher [if different from website name], Date of Publication in Day Month Year format, URL. [MLA 8 format].
Preda, Roxana. The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. The Cantos Project, 2016-.
Preda, Roxana. “Companion to Canto IV.” The Cantos Project, 5 August 2016. thecantosproject.ed.ac.uk/index.php/a-draft-of-xvi-cantos-overview/canto-iv/companion-to-canto-iv
OCCEP – The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound
([Contributor name], OCCEP IV: n.no).
Example: (Bressan OCCEP IV: n.3). If no name is indicated, the gloss or translation was written by Roxana Preda. In this case, the citation will have this format: (OCCEP IV: n.13).
References to The Cantos
As The Cantos Project is numbering the lines of The Cantos, references to cantos already glossed will be by canto number and line(s), as standard with classical works. Example: III: ll.7–17.
For cantos that are not yet glossed within the project, the references will be by canto number slash page number, as standard in the research on the poem. Example: III/12. The page number refers to the American edition of The Cantos by Ezra Pound. New York: New Directions, 1998.
© Roxana Preda. Companion to Canto XLVI, 7 April 2020.
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
Pound, Ezra. Ezra Pound’s Economic Correspondence 1933-1940. Ed. Roxana Preda. Gainesville: U of Florida P, 2007.
Moody, David A. Ezra Pound: Poet. A Portrait of the Man and His Work. II: The Epic Years 1921-1939. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.
Pound, Ezra. Jefferson and/or Mussolini. Fascism as I Have Seen It. London: Stanley Nott, 1935. Internet Archive
Pound, Ezra. Ezra Pound and Senator Bronson Cutting: A Political Correspondence, 1930-1935. Eds. E. P. Walkiewicz, E. P. and Hugh Witemeyer. Albuquerque: U of New Mexico, 1995.
Eliot, Thomas Stearns. The Letters of T. S. Eliot. Volume 6: 1932-33. London: Faber, 2016.
The New English Weekly.
Pound, Ezra. Ezra Pound’s Poetry and Prose. Contributions to Periodicals. Eds. Lea Baechler, A Walton Litz and James Longenbach. New York: Garland, 1991.
Preda, Roxana. Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. The Cantos Project.
Pound, Ezra. Selected Prose 1909-1965. New York: New Directions, 1973.
Jefferson, Thomas. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson. Eds. Andrew Lipscomb and Albert Ellery Bergh. Memorial Edition. Washington D.C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1903-4. 20 vols. Hathi Trust.
Beinecke Library, New Haven. Ezra Pound Papers YCAL Mss. 43. Box no/Folder no.
Reverend Eliot – Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888-1971), poet, critic and Pound’s lifelong friend. In 1927, Eliot converted to Anglo-Catholicism and further developed religious themes in his poetry and criticism. Unlike Pound, who considered the ideology of the market economy to be the mainspring of capitalist culture, Eliot thought that religion was the essential moral and cultural pivot of society. Eliot is specifically important to Pound’s vision of capitalism, as he was the only one to respond to the “Hell cantos” (XIV-XV, 1925) with an original critique, both in his private letters to Pound (21, 24 and 29 September 1933) and in After Strange Gods (1934).
In his letter to Pound on 29 September 1933, Eliot remarked:
“you cant make them real Its beyond Shakesp. etc. to give them individuality there are just types politicians profiteers financiers newspapersprops. & pressgangs, Calvin, the English, Vicecrusaders, liars, stupids pedants preachers bishops lady golfers fabian conservatives inperialists & people who dont  believe Major Douglas, etc. I dont see what you can do with Hell without Sin and sinners This is not a theological argument its just the way it seems to me things hang together or don’t It may be allright just as an interlude in Limbo but it wants to be supported by a real Hell underneath with real people in it Put me in if you Like Anyway without that it just Oh well no more for the present from yours etc.” (L/TSE 6: 657-8) Eliot’s remarks are as valid for canto 46 as they are for 14-15. It might be the case that in evoking the “fuzzy bloke” and the “heavy-lipped chap at the desk” with such specific detail, Pound was responding to Eliot’s critique that his hell-characters are just types that do not seem real. See letters in Calendar for XIV-XV.
- you who think you will/ get through hell in a hurry – As Pound’s typescript to canto 51 shows, he imagined Geryon to have said this as an introduction to his speech in LI ll.62-66. Draft YCAL 74/3319, p.9.
Pound may be implicitly addressing readers who felt that Eliot’s The Waste Land was a complete and cathartic response to the hell of modernity. He may also warn his readers that Hell in his own cantos was not yet behind them.
- Zoagli – Italian town near Rapallo.
“Pound conveys his newfound visionary clarity in this figuratively hellish place via a curious analogy—a weather report from his vantage-point in Rapallo. It seems that a bad weather system, a mix of snow and rain, has stalled over Rapallo stretching from Zoagli, down the coast, westward, out to sea. For three days, Pound has seen ‘snow cloud over the sea / Banked like a line of mountains.’ Banked like a line of mountains. The words are surely meant to reverberate. For not only do they recall the Monte dei Paschi in Cantos 42 and 43—a good bank often referred to as the Mount or Mountain. The words also forecast the sinister banks that will move into the poem in Cantos 46 and 51. And yet, even though the dark cloud-bank settles over Rapallo and engulfs Pound in a bewildering mix of snow and rain, he can now see his way through this obstructive environment. For the rain and the snow fall like a ‘stolid [. . .] wall of lines,’ in between which Pound can ‘see where the air stopped open / and where the rain fell beside it / Or the snow fell beside it.’ In other words, Pound can see a narrow but clearly defined path through the impediments obscuring his vision” (Sawyer 3).
- Seventeen years on this case – Given that Pound wrote the canto in 1935-36, “seventeen years on the case” correspond to a period in Pound’s life which started in 1918, the year he met Clifford Hugh Douglas, the theorist of Social Credit, in the offices of the magazine The New Age, to which both Douglas and himself were contributors.
- Nineteen years – Pound may refer to the beginnings of his poem, which began to take shape in 1916 with the completion of his Three Cantos: on 4 January 1917, Pound sent the finalized typescripts to his father. He published them in Poetry in June-August 1917. See Three Cantos Calendar.
- ninety years – ninety years on this case would coincide with various efforts to fight finance capitalism in the 1830s and 1840s, which Pound mentions in his own cantos 33 and 37: in England, the Factory Acts (XXXIII: ll.69-99; see OCCEP XXXIII: nn.43-51) and in the United States, Martin van Buren’s struggle against the Second Bank of the US (XXXVII: ll.76-136; OCCEP XXXVII: nn.43-57; Bank War Timeline). See also Pestell 117.
- fuzzy bloke – Pound himself, as he was in his youth in London.
- pay dividends – C. H. Douglas’s reform of the financial system was rooted in his premise that wages and salaries were only a part of a product’s final cost: apart from salaries, a producer had other expenses, such as raw materials, bank debt repayments and interest, as well as normal wastage in production. Douglas’s conclusion was that the consumer’s income can thus never catch up with prices at large (A+B Theorem). He proposed to correct this imbalance by a so-called “national dividend” meant to bridge the gap between wages and prices. Every British person would be entitled to this dividend as a right of citizenship and member of “Britain Ltd.” In order for the dividend to work, banks had to be completely redefined as agencies of the state and “ticket” distributors. Additionally, the prices had to be fixed, to avoid inflation. See Pound’s presentation of Douglas’s A+B Theorem in canto 38 (XXXVIII: ll.107-28).
Major – Clifford Hugh Douglas was a Scottish former engineer who was called “Major” because during WWI, he worked at the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Farnborough, where he reorganized production and cost accounting. He was promoted to temporary captain in the Royal Flying Corps on 1 January 1916, and soon afterwards to temporary major on 1 June 1916 (Douglas Archives).
- instead of collecting taxes – Douglas’s idea of the “national dividend” was an alternative to the normal way the state redistributes wealth through taxes. In the current system, individuals and corporations are taxed so that a portion of their income is reallocated to education, culture, health care, city services, the military, etc. Taxes also include repayments of the national debt, which in 1918 had reached an unprecedented size in British economy: 126% of GDP (EPEC 11; Wormell xxv-xxvi).
Pound’s question about taxes remains unanswered, as the national dividend would have been distributed to individuals, not funded services and institutions. His Volitionist Questionnaire (1934) indicates that by the time he wrote the canto at the turn of 1936, Pound already knew the answer to the question he posed to Douglas in 1918. Not Douglas, but Silvio Gesell could point a way forward: articles 4 and 5 of the Volitionist Questionnaire use the example of the Wörgl experiment to say that: “If money is a certificate of work done, taxes are no longer necessary” and “It is possible to concentrate all taxation onto the actual paper money of a country.” See the account of the Wörgl experiment in Resources.
Pound’s views on taxes is a complex subject in and for itself–it has to be considered against the background of the evolution and history of taxation in the 20th century. Pound may have overestimated the proportion of national debt repayment and military expenses within the overall taxation and dismissed the whole mechanism as an instrument designed to cheat and abuse the individual. Pound was also against the welfare state generally, especially because F. D. Roosevelt’s Social Security Act, (enacted in August 1935), was funded by state debt, which was anathema to Social Creditors.
Decennio – La Mostra della Rivoluzione Fascista, [The Exhibition of the Fascist Revolution] celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Fascists’ coming to power. It was opened in Rome by Mussolini on 28 October 1932. “The exhibition depicted the history of the fascist movement, combining the talents of historians and avant-garde artists to create a spectacle that Pound and others thought both innovative and effective in its presentation of history” (Paul 66).
Pound visited it and wrote to Olga from Rome on 25 December: “Xposit decennio rather impressive if one have the senso storico.” (YCAL 54 13/342). After returning to Rapallo, he recommended it enthusiastically in the local newspaper Il Mare for 7 January 1933 (“Ave Roma” P&P VI: 8-9).
- Il Popolo – Il Popolo d’Italia, newspaper founded by Mussolini in Milan in 1914, after he was expelled from the Italian Socialist Party. In it, he campaigned for Italy to join the war on the side of the Entente, which finally happened in 1916. Il Popolo was tied to Mussolini’s fate and was discontinued in 1943. See also canto 41, its Sources, and the Resources to Eleven New Cantos, for more detail on Mussolini and World War I: here and here. In the photo below, see the hand grenades on the desk and the teapot on the right.
- ours was like that – the London office of the English journal The New Age, at 37 Cursitor Street. The New Age had been bought with money from the Fabian Society and started on 2 May 1907 as an “Independent Socialist Review of Politics, Literature and Art.” Under A. R. Orage’s editorship (1907-1922), it acquired great prestige among left-wing intellectuals (Redman 18). The magazine ceased publication in 1938.
“Starting in 1912, the paper advocated […] ‘an ingenious synthesis of political Socialism and industrial Syndicalism’ known as Guild Socialism. This was not the radical syndicalism of continental Europe but a variant deriving from the English craft tradition advocated by such writers as William Morris and John Ruskin. Still, a mix of socialism and syndicalism was precisely what Benito Mussolini was inventing in Italy at about the same time” (Redman 18).
Pound published poetry and essays under his own name, wrote on music under the pseudonym William Aetheling and reviewed the arts under the name B. H. Dias between 1911 and 1921. He met Clifford Hugh Douglas, the theorist of Social Credit in the office of The New Age in 1918. Orage, who had initially been a Fabian, then a Guild Socialist, edited and published Douglas’s first articles and became the first convert to the new theory. “Ours” thus means The New Age as it was in 1918, when political and economic discussions were taking place between the three men in Orage’s office.
- Mills bomb – hand grenade invented by William Mills in 1915, first manufactured in Birmingham and used by the Allies in WWI (C n.10; Wikipedia).
heavy lipped chap – Alfred Richard Orage (1875-1934). Pound felt Orage’s death in 1934 keenly, as he had not only been an editor, but a friend, a benefactor, and a formidable intellectual sparring partner along the years. Pound was a contributor to the New Age in his London years and wrote again for The New English Weekly, the magazine that Orage started in 1932. Orage published canto 41 in the NEW in 1933 and thanked Pound for his homage to Social Credit in canto 38.
In his obituary to Orage, Pound stated:
“I take it that in 30 years of journalism Orage never printed a line he didn’t believe. This is not the year nor the decade when England can spare that sort of honesty” (“He pulled his weight” NEW 15 November 1934).
“Orage taught Pound that economic power preceded political power, that political reform was useless without economic reform. He awakened in Pound a sense of outrage at the collusion between bankers and government officials, aided by the press, to favour private over national interests” (Redman 49).
- CRIME ov two CENturies – Pound believed that at the root of wars, exploitation and poverty is the creation of the Bank of England in 1694 and the centuries-long growth of the British national debt. The crime was that a group of private shareholders created a joint stock company (called Bank of England) to make loans to the state and at the same time acquired the right to issue paper money, thus usurping the prerogative of money creation that had hitherto been a sovereign privilege. To put it differently: money is created by the Bank of England as an interest-bearing loan to the government, a loan that has to be repaid from taxation. The debt of the nation thus created has been perpetual, as efforts to repay it during peace time have been destroyed by new debt with every new crisis or war. Since from the 18th century onwards, the British Empire waged war almost continuously, the debt was pushed from one generation to the next and grew to a size where interest payment was a high percentage of taxes.
To re-phrase the crime: British citizens pay taxes, not knowing that a part of them is devoted to paying interest on the creation of money and is therefore a dividend to the shareholders of the Bank of England. Citizens “borrow” a service which should be free; or “pay rent” on their own money (see also canto XLVIII ll. 1-4). To re-phrase again: the limited number of the shareholders of the Bank of England are allowed to tax the nation for their private profit. Social creditors believed that money creation should be a state service adjusted to national economic production, not an interest-bearing loan from a central bank. The insistence on the fraud of money creation through the Bank of England is not Pound’s original idea, but an essential article of political activity and propaganda in the Social Credit movement. See also nn.10, 30 and 48.
This situation was corrected in the United Kingdom in 1946, when the Bank of England was nationalized by the Attlee Labour government. The Federal Reserve in the United States continues to be private.
- 5 millions – Pound’s number reflects the French situation, as he remembered it from conversations with Fernand Léger commemorated in canto 16: “liste officielle des morts: 5 etc” (XVI l. 192). By contemporary count, the overall number of military and civilian deaths in WWI is around 40 million. Wikipedia.
Like Douglas, Pound believed that war is the most profitable business for banks, as state debt soars and is safely paid by taxation during peacetime. Banks are thus the hidden enemies of societies, since they actively invest in war and cash their returns during peacetime.
- debts of the South – In his book Two Nations, Christopher Hollis argued that the American civil war had not happened because of emancipation from slavery (which was an accidental effect of the war itself), but because of the financial tensions issued from the radical differences between the economies of the North and the South. The industries of the North demanded protection by high tariffs, which made imports more expensive and incentivized buyers to buy products made at home. At the same time, the economy of the South was geared towards export, and sold cotton at international low prices. The cotton planters were getting less for what they had to sell and paid more for their current expenses. Pound’s source, Christopher Hollis, argued that the high tariff policy resulted in a gradual diminishing of the cotton planters’ income and their sliding into debt to New York banks (Hollis 207-9).
- Max’s drawings – The caricatures of Max Beerbohm were very popular and widely published in Edwardian Britain. Beerbohm lived in Rapallo – both Orage and Pound knew him personally.
Balfour – Arthur James Balfour (1848 – 1930), British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1902 to 1905. Balfour was famous for his aloofness and arrogance in his social interactions and also for his elegance and decorum. Pound mentioned him disparagingly in canto 14. See OCCEP XIV: n.4.
- Johnny Bull – nickname of Great Britain.
According to Noel Stock, Pound remembered well the caption to the caricature, “Victoria, Victoriaa w’ere ’ave I ’eard that nyme?” which he inserted with slight variations in cantos 35 and 97. See Stock 51.
- Orage – Alfred Richard Orage (1873-1934), British writer and editor of The New Age (1907-1922) and The New English Weekly (1932-34). See n. 15.
Since The New Age started out as a Fabian magazine, it published articles of the most prestigious Fabians, such as G. B. Shaw, G. K. Chesterton and H. G. Wells.
G. B. S. – George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Irish playwright. Shaw was a prominent member of the Fabian Society, which advocated the gradual infiltration of Socialist ideas into the political establishment. Shaw is one of the founding members of the London School of Economics and helped Orage buy The New Age in 1907. He remained a Fabian all his life, even after the creation of the Labour Party in 1900 and its first electoral successes in 1910. Wikipedia: Labour Party.
Pound had a dismal view on Shaw, who discredited himself in his eyes by refusing to subscribe to Joyce’s Ulysses in 1922. The poet told G. Bridson in a 1959 interview: “And as for Mr. Shaw, that old character wrote me about Ulysses that he just couldn’t stand reading it and that no book was worth three guineas.” P&P IX: 297.
- Mr Xtertn – Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936), British journalist, literary and social critic, novelist, and Catholic apologist. He was a columnist for the Daily News, The Illustrated London News, and his own paper, G. K.’s Weekly. Chesterton wrote around 80 books, several hundred poems, some 200 short stories, 4,000 essays, and several plays. He was a friend of G. B. Shaw and H. G. Wells and an early member of the Fabian Society; he left it at the time of the Boer War. Wikipedia.
Though Pound was an occasional contributor to G.K’s Weekly, he despised Chesterton for his hack journalism. He included him into his “Hell” canto 14 as head of the “press gang” and a “perverter of language.” See XIV: ll.24-26; OCCEP XIV: n.7. See also Pound’s letter to John Quinn.
- Mr Wells – Herbert George Wells (1866-1946), British novelist, prolific in many genres and mainly remembered today for his science fiction. Wikipedia.
Wells had socialist and pacifist sympathies and joined the Fabians in 1903, proposing a closer cooperation with the Independent Labour Party. Wells’s ideas clashed with those of the “old gang” led by G. B. Shaw, which led to his resignation from the society in 1908. Wikipedia: G. B. Shaw.
John Marmaduke – pseudonym for Marmaduke William Pickthall (1875-1936), English novelist who converted to Islam in November 1917. He translated the Qu’ran into English in 1930. Wikipedia.
As convert to Islam, translator of Arabic and traveller in the Near East, Pickthall was biased against the Greeks, with whom the Turks had been in conflict even before the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453.
Pound reviewed Pickthall’s Oriental Encounters in November 1918 (P&P III: 215. See also Stock 51, 52).
- never could set up a nation – In ancient times, Greek cities and regions had never been united as a formal independent political entity. Athens and Sparta were city states briefly became part of Philip of Macedon’s empire during the 4th c BC. Then, they were conquered by the Roman empire in the 2nd c. AD and became part of the later Byzantine and Ottoman empires. It was only in 1830, as a result of a war for independence in which Britain, France and Russia assisted in the fight against the Ottomans, that Greece was formed as a nation state. In 1832, it acquired well-defined borders and a monarch, Prince Otto of Bavaria. It was after this date that Greece began defining itself away from Ottoman culture by going back to its ancient roots and developing modern institutions oriented towards Western Europe. As a result of a further series of wars, and with international assistance, Greece has extended its territory and acquired its contemporary borders, which have been stable since WWII. Wikipedia: History of Greece.
- Abdul Baha – “Abdu’l-Bahá” (“servant of Baha”), title of Abbas (1844-1921) leader of the Bahá’i faith (1892-1921) founded by his father, Bahá U’lláh. Abdu’l-Bahá was born in Tehran in an aristocratic family, but due to the persecution of his father, he was exiled and lived first in Baghdad, and then in the Ottoman Empire, where he was imprisoned in Acre, Palestine. He was freed in 1908 at the age of 64 and made several journeys to the West to spread the faith: his writings and teachings are part of the Bahá’i sacred literature. He visited London twice in 1911 and 1912. Abdul Baha was successful in gaining a number of converts in the West, particularly in the United States. Wikipedia: Abdu’l-Bahá.
Pickthall’s and Abdu’l Bahá’s stories illuminate the difficulties in converting people to another religion or belief system. These throw a sidelight on Douglas’s own efforts to convert people to Social Credit, or else Mussolini’s success in converting Italians to Fascism. The two vignettes also illustrate Pound’s principle that propaganda has to respond to “what other people WANT no matter what they call it” (quoted in EPP 325).
- let us speak of religion – “Pound met Baha in England in September 1911 during one of those prewar visits and thought him a ‘charming old man’ though the two conversed only through an interpreter (EP to his Parents 261). Pound told Margaret Cravens that Abdul Baha’s ‘persian movement for religious unity’—one ‘that claims the feminine soul equal to the male, & puts Christ above Buddha, to the horror of the Theosophists’—was a ‘worth while’ endeavour. ‘Even if a lot of silly people do get mixed up in it’ (Pound/Cravens 95). However, when Pound wrote Canto 46, some twenty-five years had elapsed, and whatever affinity he may have had for Abdul Baha’s religious precepts appears to have cooled. In Canto 46, Pound presents Baha as an amiable but rather obtuse old man with little understanding of the true meaning of religion. [...] Abdul Baha ... does not seem to realize that the camel driver is ‘speaking’ of religion all along. For the camel driver’s religion is embodied in his everyday rituals—his milking of the camel, his sharing of the milk with strangers (a Communion of sorts) and his celebratory dance. It is comical that Abdul Baha, a proponent of a new syncretic religion, does not appear to recognize the commonplace spirit of religion even when it is staring him in the face” (Sawyer 4-5).
- said Mr Marmaduke – As Richard Sawyer pointed out, it is unlikely that Marmaduke Pickhall and Abdul Baha were present at the same afternoon tea party; Pound puts together two points of view, that of Pickthall, who stated that cultural differences were insurmountable and Abdul Baha’s, who believed in universal values, irrespective of location, ethnicity and historical context.
“With the outbreak of the First World War and the Ottoman alliance with Germany and the Central Powers, Pickthall’s loyalties were obviously divided. He wrote a steady barrage of articles for the New Age in defense of Turkey (even after the Armenian massacres came to light) and was critical of Britain’s anti-Islamic, pro-Russian propaganda. It may have been during this time that Pound met Pickthall and heard the words that Pound, as I said, sort of attributes to him. However, the substance of the following lines in Canto 46 can also be found in (and were likely taken from) Pickthall’s article on ‘National Honour and Personal Honour’ published in the New Age on February 11, 1915.” (Sawyer 6). See also Pickhall’s article in Sources.
- Paterson – William Paterson (1658-1719), Scottish trader, founder of the Bank of England (1694) and of the Bank of Scotland (1695). Paterson was also the instigator of the ruinous Darien scheme whose failing bankrupted the Scottish aristocracy and was a direct cause of the Act of Union with England in 1707, whereby Scotland lost its independence. Wikipedia.
Paterson’s key historical significance for the emergence of Great Britain has never been taught in schools and ties in with Pound’s denunciation of the collusion between political interests and the education system, further mentioned in the canto. See also Hollis on Paterson’s role in the foundation of the Bank of England (Hollis 29-34).
- creates out of nothing – This statement attributed to Paterson is difficult to verify and is considered by some theorists as apocryphal, invented in the 1930s (Graeber 456-7; Desai 68).
Pound read it in the New Age for 31 January 1935, in a note by a certain W.N. which said:
“Sir: The following excerpts from a book published in 1693, the author of which was William Patterson [sic] first governor of the bank of England, may be of interest to your readers” […]
“The Bank hath the benefit of the interest of whatever credit it issues out of nothing (italics mine). (“Costless Money 250 Ago,” quoted in Pestell 123).
In W.N.’s article, Paterson’s name is spelled wrong; the book referred to has not yet been located (EPP327-9); and Paterson was not the first governor of the Bank of England, indeed received no recompense for his idea (Rota 183). However, this note struck a chord with Pound. He reformulated W.N.’s “Paterson quote” slightly in his article “The Root of Evil” (G. K’s Weekly, 21 February 1935):
“As Lenin shows up the communists, so the Founder of the Bank has shown up, posthumously, his brain-child, in a passage that has received insufficient publicity, though the “New Age” unearthed it: The bank hath benefit of the interest on all the moneys which it creates out of nothing” (P&P VI: 250).
The formulation of “Paterson’s statement,” as we find it in the canto, is Pound’s own and was adopted by Christopher Hollis in his book The Two Nations (30, 36). Hollis may have seen Pound’s article in G.K.’s Weekly, to which he was a contributor himself. The Two Nations was published in November 1935 and Pound read it while being engaged in writing the canto. Pound presents the Bank of England as the nation’s supreme counterfeiter and capitalism as based on a fraud designed to profit a handful of people. This is the “CRIME/ ov two CENturies,” that Pound refers to at ll.26-27. See also nn. 16 and 50.
We find in Hollis’s Two Nations a succinct presentation of the events whereby King William III, wishing to fight Louis XIV and build up a navy, had recourse to a new method of financing his project in 1694:
“The plan was that, instead of borrowing from the goldsmiths, the Government should instead borrow £1,200,000, of which it was in need, from a newly formed Corporation called the Bank of England. This corporation promised to collect the required money from the public and to lend it on to the King at 8 per cent plus £4,000 per annum for expenses–a rate considerably lower than that which he would have had to pay to the goldsmiths. In return for lending at this low rate the Bank received a number of privileges of which the most important was that it had the right to issue notes up to the extent of its loan to the Government ‘under their common seal’ on the security of the Government. That is to say, it had the right to issue a £1 note: the holder of that £1 note had the right to demand  that the Bank give him cash for his note, but, if he made that demand, the Bank had the right to demand that the Government raise that £1 by taxation and repay £1 worth of debt to the Bank so that the Bank might repay its £1 to the note-holder. As Disraeli put it, ‘the principle of that system was to mortgage industry in order to protect property,’ or, as Paterson, the originator of the Bank, himself explained with charming simplicity, ‘The bank hath benefit of the interest on all moneys which it creates out of nothing’” (Hollis 29-30).
The loan was made out of nothing because the bank did not give the king the 1,200.000 in gold (real money), but half of it in promissory notes, which the bank created by a stroke of the pen, but which was privileged to collect in gold, with interest. The notes were certificates of debt whereby the king promised to pay the holder a certain amount in cash (gold). The bank did not restrict itself to issuing notes up to the sum of the loan as initially agreed, but went above that, constantly using its connections in Parliament to extend its issue of notes. In due course, it became the exclusive issuer of bank notes in England by the Bank Charter Act of 1844. See Sawyer 10-15.
- Mr Rothschild – During the 19th century, the London branch of the Rothschild House was investing heavily in the United States. Its activity is also delineated in Corey’s The House of Morgan, which Pound mined for information for canto 40. Here, Pound returns to the American scene to refer to the financial speculations made possible by the foundation of National Banks after the American civil war. The Rothschild House wanted information about this possible investment from their associates in New York (Surette 268-70; EPP 330-32).
- ’64 or there sometime – Pound is uncertain about the date, which indicates he did not have a written source at hand at the time of writing the canto and may have relied on his memory of one of Father Coughlin’s radio lectures. In his broadcast, “By Their Fruits They Shall Be Known” (on Sunday, 26 November 1933, reprinted in The New Deal in Money, 1933), Coughlin includes the quote and indicates the correct date–June 1863.
- Very few people – Though written between inverted commas, Pound’s rendering is sparse and informal, not a quote, but a pastiche made from memory or notes.
Pound’s source seems to be Father Coughlin who wrote:
“In an unfortunate letter which was never intended to fall into hostile hands, the Rothschilds on June 25, 1863, confided the following admission to a firm of bankers by the name of Ikleheimer, resident at 3 Wall Street.
In part, the letter reads as follows:
‘The great body of the people mentally incapable of comprehending the tremendous advantages that capital derives from the system will bear its burdens without complaint, and perhaps without even suspecting that the system is inimical to their interest’” (Coughlin 1933 88, also quoted in Malm 120-1).
It was not Rothschild who made the incriminating and inhumane comment, but an ambitious American, a Mr. John Sherman from Ohio, who had written to Rothschild to alert him to the profit possibilities of the National Banking Act. Indeed, the purpose of Rothschild’s letter to his New York partner, Ikleheimer, was to check on Sherman and request references. It is unfortunate that Pound used this half-baked information from Coughlin’s broadcasts in a canto which should have been careful with issues of correctness, even more so after he had shown such care for verification in other instances, such as the Malatesta and Siena Cantos.
Father Coughlin himself took care to correct and supplement his information in his book Money: Questions and Answers, (Appendix V, 170-3) published in 1936. By October, Pound had read the book and wrote to Coughlin, particularly about the Rothschild episode:
“All those quotations at the end of your “Money” and all these Buck is using OUGHT to be in high school histories. They ought to be required for college entrance” (EPEC 196). Pound himself took steps to greater precision when he referred to the episode again in A Visiting Card in 1942 (SP 311).
- 1694 anno domini – 1694, year of the Lord. The date the bank of England was founded.
- hair-cloth – stiff fabric made of cotton and horsehair. Pound is referring to the low-quality products of the British textile industry, which was embedded in a financial system he regarded as fundamentally corrupt.
- rotten building – What Pound in canto 45 called a “house of good stone” is a durable house, whose successive owners maintain, develop and modernize. This however is not likely to happen with the English so-called “leasehold” system, whereby a house is not sold for ever, but for a period of 99 years, after which time it reverts to its original owner, who holds it in “freehold.” The leasehold system was active in Pound’s time and is still current in England today. See Hoa.org for detail. See also OCCEP XLV: n. 3
- Regius Professors – The Regius Professor was a chair in modern history and languages endowed by the Crown at Cambridge and Oxford in 1724. Each professor had to teach a lecture a year and supervise a group of 20 scholars. Wikipedia.
It may have amused and reassured Pound to know that if the Whigs created the Regius Chairs to teach their political propaganda under the safe mantle of history, their purpose misfired:
“The professorship's field of modern history was intended to encompass all post-classical history, beginning from the fall of Rome. However, for the first few decades of the professorship's existence, only ancient history was studied in the University, and so the Regius Professorship of Modern History was little more than a sinecure. […]
Under the original understanding of modern history, the Regius Professorship was several times held by academics specialising in the middle ages. However, by the 21st century, the meaning of modern history had shifted to refer either to the history of the modern period following the middle ages, or of the late modern period following the early modern period. In 2010, the Queen in Council approved the removal of the word modern from the title to reflect this change in usage, on the recommendation of the Faculty of History and the University. Wikipedia: Regius Professor.
- Whiggery – The Whig view of modern history was a narrative of progress culminating in the present, which was considered to be the best possible world. This point of view was satirized by Voltaire in his novel Candide (1754).
“Now what was the history which these endowed teachers taught? It was the progressive theory of history–a theory hitherto unknown, a theory soon, as a result of their activities, accepted uncritically, a theory created in the first place quite cynically and clear-headedly in order to cover up the traces of truth. It was the purpose of that history to create among the public the ambient feeling that, bad as things might be at the moment of writing, yet the lesson of history was a lesson of steady improvement, that each present generation was always, as Macaulay put it of his generation ‘the most enlightened generation of the most enlightened people that ever existed.’ Where there was evil, that evil was the relic of an evil past; where there was good, that good was the product of the increasing purpose which runs through the ages and which was assuredly leading us to a yet more glorious and more rosy dawn ahead.
This, though it was said, was not very seriously believed in the eighteenth century. It was said to keep quiet those who did not belong to the governing classes. Yet, as always happens with educational reforms, you have to have one generation of conscious lying, and then the second generation, the generation that was pupil when the masters were lying, honestly believes what it was taught” (Hollis 39-40).
- Macmillan Commission – After the 1929 stock market crash, the Macmillan Committee was formed by the British government to discover the root causes of the depressed economy of the United Kingdom. Its task was to determine whether the contemporary banking and financial system was helping or hindering British trade and industry. The committee took evidence from many leading economists of the day, including Douglas and Keynes and published its findings in the so-called Macmillan Report in 1931.
Historian Charles Loch Mowat characterized these recommendations as “cautious” and said that, by the time of its publication, they “had been almost overtaken by events.” Wikipedia.
- got back to Paterson’s – Pound refers to the short section in the Macmillan Report dedicated to the origin and privileges of the Bank of England. See it in Sources. See also nn. 31 and 32.
- ex nihil – L. “out of nothing.”
- Mr Marx, Karl – Pound’s objection to Marx was that he did not question money, an insight he gained by reading Gesell’s Natural Economic Order (SP 273).
- St. Peter’s – The building of the Church of St. Peter’s in Rome was partly financed by the sale of indulgences. The abuses made in marketing them, especially in Germany, led to the discreditation of the Catholic Church and the Protestant Reformation, a process marked by wars and violent conflicts in all countries of Europe in succeeding centuries. For Pound, St. Peter’s was a church built by usury and an objective correlative of the disintegration of the Christian faith under the pressure of greed. See also Sawyer 8-9.
- Manchester slums – The first reformer to draw attention to the living conditions of the working class was Friedrich Engels, who observed and described the Manchester slums in around the 1840s. He called them “hell on earth,” concluding that “in such dwellings only a physically degenerate race, robbed of all humanity, degraded, reduced morally and physically to bestiality, could feel comfortable and at home” The Condition of the Working Class in England, 33-43.
The situation did not improve in time. The census of 1881 found that a zone of the slums, Angel Meadow, was 94 % “unsanitary and infested with vermin.” Average life expectancy in the slums was 26 years. The first efforts at council housing in Manchester were made in 1894, yet the houses were still too expensive for the poor, who moved out of the renovated street and lived as before. Social assistance began to be provided by the religious orders, who built hostels for men and women, missions, and charity schools.
The Housing Act of 1930 gave new impetus to slum clearance and council housing. Yet, the programs were delayed by lack of funds and WWII. It was only by the 1960s that the Manchester slums Engels observed were cleared and replaced by crescents of blocks of flats (Guardian: Manchester slums in the 1960s). Then in the 1990s, these were razed in “street after street of flats and community gardens” (Manchester slums in the 1960s and today). This process coincided with the slow de-industrialisation of the city and its transformation into a hub for services.
The main industry in Victorian Manchester was textile and relied on the cheap cotton imported from the United States. Pound mentions the “debts of the South to New York banks” as a possible cause of the American civil war (1862-65). The canto thus brings together the cotton slavery in the U.S. with the wage slavery in Manchester as two sides of the same process.
The story of the Manchester slums is a narrative of gradual recognition that the capitalist model of the 19th century, promoting capitalist enterprise free of government control will lead to misery and disease; that religious charity efforts are piecemeal and insufficient; and that the national and local authorities have a responsibility to create environments leading to the health and wellbeing of every citizen, irrespective of class (Dodge ).
- Brazilian coffee – In Brazil, coffee was a single crop grown by slavery, much like cotton in the U.S. When slavery was abolished in 1888, brutal industrial labour practices, called “second slavery,” were implemented. They made Brazil the largest producer of coffee internationally, with plantations covering 10,000 square miles, mainly located in the regions of Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo and Paraná. Wikipedia.
- Chilean nitrates – since the 19th century, nitrates have been used to obtain nitrogen for fertilizers; their other chemical uses are in the manufacture of explosives. Until WWI, natural sodium nitrate could be found in Latin America, particularly Chile. Starting with 1914, the needs of the war dictated that battles be fought for the control of this essential war resource. In December 1914, the British fleet defeated the German in the Battle of the Falkland Islands, thus acquiring full control of the natural nitrate supply.
In Germany, Fritz Haber and Wilhelm Ostwald developed chemical processes to synthesize nitrogen for the munitions of the German army. “It has been said that, had it not been for the technical capacity to produce synthetic nitrogen, the shortage of munitions would have cost Germany the war by 1915” (Saavedra 2014).
- Si requieres monumentum? – L. “if you require a memorial.”
- Hic est hyper-usura – L. “Here is hyper-usury.” Hyper-usury is usury at national level, the national debt created by the process of borrowing the nation’s money from a privately-owned central bank. See also nn. 16 and 32.
Christopher Hollis explained it this way:
“the Bank was a continuing joint-stock corporation. There was no moment when it died and divided up its fortune among its relatives, no moment when it retired from business and settled down to spend that which it had amassed. It existed to lend and it proposed to go on lending until the end of time. In the second place, so long as it lent only to the Government or against adequate collateral security, it was lending virtually without risk. Its only risk lay in a risk of the general collapse of the régime.
Now, if a corporation lends money at interest and without risk, then re-lends the repaid loan and so on, never distributing more than a trifle of its profits either as wages or dividends, then, however small its original capital, however moderate its rate of interest, it is but a simple proposition in mathematics that in course of time it must necessarily become the possessor of the entire wealth of the country. The only remedy is, it may be said, for the people to refuse to borrow from it. But, if the corporation has itself the privilege of issuing money, then the public has no choice but to borrow from it, for, as we have seen, the consequence of a deflation is a violent fall in the price-level, causing most widespread suffering, And, if the money issued by the corporation as a loan has once established itself as an important part of the country’s monetary supply, then it is clear that the public, if they suddenly started to refuse that corporation’s loans, would throw the whole of their productive machinery into chaos” (Hollis 33).
Mr. Jefferson – what follows is a quote from Thomas Jefferson’s letter to John Wayle Eppes on 24 June 1813, a classic text which includes Jefferson’s argument that the “earth belongs to the living” in the sense that the debts taken by one generation should not burden the next.
Pound also included the quote in J/M 118 and recommended the perusal of the whole series of letters to Eppes (24 June, 11 September and 6 November 1813) – they delineate the full spectrum of Jefferson’s beliefs and arguments on money, taxes, state debt, and the idea of a central bank. Jefferson’s indictment of the British financial practices and their ruinous institution of the national bank is best presented in his letter to Eppes on 6 November 1813. Pound quoted from it in canto 31.
“But it will be asked, are we to have no banks? Are merchants and others to be deprived of their source of short accommodations, found so convenient? I answer, let us have banks; but let them be such as are alone to be found in any country on earth, except Great Britain. There is not a bank of discount on the continent of Europe, (at least there was not one when I was there,) which offers anything but cash in exchange for discounted bills. No one has a natural right to the trade of a moneylender, but he who has the money to lend. Let those then among us, who have a moneyed capital, and who prefer employing it in loans rather than otherwise, set up banks, and give cash or national bills for the notes they discount. Perhaps, to encourage them, a larger interest than is legal in the other cases might be allowed them, on the condition of their lending for short periods only. It is from Great Britain we copy the idea of giving paper in exchange for discounted bills; and while we have derived from that country some good principles of government and  legislation, we unfortunately run into the most servile imitation of all her practices, ruinous as they prove to her, and with the gulf yawning before us into which these very practices are precipitating her. The unlimited emission of bank paper has banished all her specie, and is now, by a depreciation acknowledged by her own statesmen, carrying her rapidly to bankruptcy, as it did France, as it did us, and will do us again, and every country permitting paper to be circulated, other than that by public authority, rigorously limited to the just measure for circulation” (WTJ XIII: 277).
- Replevin – Replevin, also known as “claim and delivery,” is an action to recover personal property that was wrongfully taken or detained. Unlike other forms of legal recovery, replevin seeks the return of the actual thing itself, as opposed to money damages (the more commonly-sought after remedy). Findlaw.com.
- estopple – legal term for “stopped,” or “blocked.” A bar which precludes someone from denying the truth of a fact which has been determined in an official proceeding or by an authoritative body. An estopple arises when someone has done some act which the policy of the law will not permit her to deny. lectlaw.com.
- Van Buren – Martin van Buren (1782-1862), American statesman and president of the US (1837-41). Pound read his autobiography in 1932 and wrote canto 37 as a portrait of the president. Pound presents Van Buren’s political agenda as a fight against debt, and more specifically, against the Second Bank of the United States (1816-1841), which was a renewed attempt to establish a central bank in the U.S. on the model of the Bank of England. See OCCEP XXXVII.
- tea dumped – Pound refers to the so-called Boston Tea Party, (16 December 1773), when a shipment of tea sold by the British East India Company was dumped into the water as a protest against British taxes in the American colonies.
In 1944, Pound would reinforce this point:
“The cardinal fact of the American Revolution of 1776 was the suppression, in 1750, of the paper-money issue in Pennsylvania and other colonies, but history as taught in the U.S.A. speaks of more picturesque matters, such as the Boston Tea Party” (America, Roosevelt and the Causes of the Present War” n.p.)
- I rule the earth – statement by Roman emperor Antoninus Pius (137-161) in response to a plea for help from a merchant who had lost a ship at sea. Pound found it in Claudius Salmasius’ De Modo usurarum and quoted it in canto 42. See OCCEP XLII: nn.8-9 for detail.
- Lex Rhodi – The Law of Rhodes, the first code of maritime practices accepted and transmitted by the Roman Empire.
Pound considered Antoninus’ response to be the very origin of our knowledge on usury. In “The Individual and his Milieu” Pound stated:
“The archaeologist and serendipitist can wander back through Claudius Salmasius and find the known beginnings of usury entangled with those of marine insurance, sea lawyers, the law of Rhodes, the disputed text of Antoninus Pius on the limits of his jurisdiction. Even  then the dealers in metal appeared to be privileged over other merchants and the insurance risk mainly paid by the takers of greater risk. Vast mines of anecdote lie still unexploited” (SP 272-3).
- wanting TAXES – Pound takes up again the motif of the building of St. Peter’s in Rome, calling it “a sort of Viennese Opera House” for which Leo X wanted all possible taxes (SP 62).
- Luther – Martin Luther (1483-1546), German monk and theologian, initiator of the Protestant Reformation. Luther’s theology started as a protest against the sale of indulgences and affirmed that sinners are redeemed solely by faith in Christ and God’s grace, not by buying certificates of pardon. Leo X weighed the arguments carefully but did not diverge from his policy. He excommunicated Luther in 1520. Wikipedia. Leo’s death in 1521 and the Sack of Rome by Austrian Catholic troops in 1527 looked like Luther’s divine vindication.
Pound commented in his article, “Terra Italica” (1931):
“I take it that the Catholic Church broke from the top, as Paganism had possibly broken. I mean to say that the Church was no longer interested in theology, it no longer believed or even knew what it meant. Leo X was interested in administration, in culture, in building S. Peter’s. It simply never occurred to him that anyone would take Luther seriously. No one in his set did take Luther seriously, I mean as a writer or thinker. He was merely a barbarian bore. Protestantism has no theology. By which I mean it has nothing that a well-grounded theologian can possibly consider salonfahig” (SP 57).
- 1527 – The year of the sack of Rome by the troops of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, which happened during the papacy of Clement VII (Giulio de Medici). Clement was the nephew of Lorenzo de Medici and first cousin to Leo X. See Medici family tree.
The sack started on 6 May 1527 and lasted for eight months, until February 1528. It had major political repercussions for Italy, and in particular, for Rome, which had been a center of High Renaissance culture and patronage; after that, it suffered depopulation and economic collapse, causing artists and thinkers to scatter. Wikipedia.
Clement took refuge in the Castel St’Angelo – the Sack forced him to accept the power of the Habsburg Empire over Italy. At the same time, Charles V proved malleable to Clement’s most cherished wish, that of restoring the Medici to power in Florence. After a siege of the city which lasted almost a year (1529-30), Florence was defeated by the Habsburg troops; it had to give up being a republic and accept Alessandro de Medici as Duke of Florence in 1531. The Medici would continue to hold Florence, and later, the whole of Tuscany until 1743, when the family was extinguished, and the rule would finally pass to the dynasty of Habsburg-Lorraine as part of the Austrian empire. Pound touched on these events as background to cantos V and XLII-XLIV. See also Sawyer 10.
- barocco – It. “baroque.” In architecture and the arts, it refers to a style that it overloaded, (needlessly) complicated, flamboyant in forms and colours.
For Pound, the “barrocco,” which dominated Italian art in the 16th and 17th centuries, was an abomination created by societies dominated by usury:
“The appalling and nauseous decadence of architecture, stone cutting, art forms after 1500 etc., the loss of moral and terminological clarity, the reduction of philosophy to mere lackeyship toward material sciences all of them run contemporary with each other, and in that baroco was lost the distinction between usury and partaggio” (SP 274). See also Sawyer 9-10 for more detail.
- Hic nefas commune sepulchrum – L. “Here is the crime, the common grave.” Inspired by Catullus, Carmen 68b: l.89. For the Latin poet, it was Troy which was the crime and the common grave of Europe: “Troia (nefas) commune sepulcrum Asiae Europaeque” (Internet Archive). (“Troy (accursed!) the common grave of Asia and of Europe” (trans. Leonard Smithers. Perseus.)
- Aurum commune sepulcrum – L. “gold, the common grave.”
- helandros kai heleptolis kai helarxe – He. “destroyer of men, destroyer of cities, destroyer of ships.” Classic line from the play Agamemnon by Aeschylus. In the play, it is Helen who is the arch-destroyer and bears the responsibility of the Trojan war.
Hic Geryon est. Hic hyperusura – L. “This is Geryon. This is hyper-usury.”
Geryon is the monster of fraud in Dante’s Inferno. He has the face of a man, lion’s body paws, and scorpion tail. Virgil commands him to take him and Dante from the seventh to the eighth circle of hell, the so-called “malebolge” (the “evil ditches”):
“Behold the beast who bears the pointed tail,
who crosses mountains, shatters weapons, walls!
Behold the one whose stench fills all the world!” Inferno XVII: ll.1-3.
- F. Roosevelt – Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945), American statesman and the President of the United States (1933-1945).
- signed F. Delano, his uncle – Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s name reflects the huge role his mother, Sara Delano, played in his life. Roosevelt’s uncle on his mother’s side was Warren Delano IV (1852-1920). Wikipedia.
- foetor of regents – After having read an article by Francis Delaisi, “Nous n’avons plus de Roi, mais nous avons des Régents. Les vrais maîtres de la France siègent à la Banque de France” (VU June 1935), Pound became even more confirmed in his opinion that France was ruled by an invisible group of industrialists and bankers who also took the role of regents of the French central bank and thus dictated the monetary policy of the country. In canto 38, he had insisted on the political power of the Comité des Forges led by François de Wendel, the iron, mining and steel syndicate with Eugène Schneider’s munition factories at its center. Delaisi’s article gave corroborating information by his revealing diagram of the names of the regents of the Bank of France and their involvement in both industry and banking. The first regent, for instance, the House of Rothschild, was involved both in banking and in railways, mining and insurance. See Delaisi's article and diagram in Sources. See also Sawyer 2020 for more detailed commentary.
- Mr Cummings wants Farley’s job – The gossip about Cummings’s political manoeuvring was made in Drew Pearson’s syndicated column called “The Washington Merry Go Round” on 27 November 1935. We do not know in what newspaper Pound found it, conceivably the Chicago Herald Tribune, which he read regularly for news from the U.S. In his correspondence to Bronson Cutting, he mentioned the newspaper in connection with A. J. Farley, one of his bêtes noires (L/BC 116, 117).
Homer S. Cummings (1870-1956), who had done poorly as an attorney general (1933-39), wanted to transition to the job of postmaster general slated to become available in January 1936. This belonged to Farley (1888-1976), Roosevelt’s campaign manager. However, it is of no importance what Cummings wanted and what manoeuvres he used to get Farley’s job. As Roosevelt’s election campaign for a second term was a resounding success, Farley kept his position until 1940, when he quit in disagreement with Roosevelt seeking a third term. Wikipedia.
The bit of gossip that Pound read in the mass-circulation newspapers was thus no news at all, whereas François Delaisi’s revealing article about the regents of the Bank of France was published it an artsy, small circulation photography magazine. See Sources.