Its Changing Interpretation

  • Alan S. Milward
Part of the Studies in Economic History book series


FROM the second quarter of the eighteenth century economists evolved the idea that war was an almost unmitigated economic disaster. By the end of the century that view had become almost generally established and, excepting the notable dissent of Malthus, it remained more or less unchanged in Britain until the outbreak of the First World War. The earliest writers to consider the impact of that war on the economy took, therefore, an unrelievedly gloomy view of its results. They would have echoed what was already becoming received opinion when Samuel Johnson published, in 1749, his imitation of Juvenal’s tenth Satire:

Yet Reason frowns on War’s unequal Game,

Where wasted Nations raise a single Name,

And mortgag’d States theri Grandsires’ Wreaths regret,

Form Age to Age in everlasting Debt.1


Public Debt Economic Control Liberal Interpretation General Panic Budgetary Expense 
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Copyright information

© The Economic Hstory Society 1970

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan S. Milward
    • 1
  1. 1.Stanford UniversityUSA

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