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Berliner 5 inch record #40

We Don't Want to Fight

We don't want to fight
But by Jingo if we do,
We've got the ships, we've got the men,
We've got the money too

We've fought the Bear before,
And while we're Britons true,
The Russians shall not have Constantinople.

This song by G. H. MacDermott (songwriter) and G. W. Hunt (singer) commonly sung in pubs and music halls at the time gave birth to the term Jingoism. Lyrics refer to Crimea War. Through much of the Victorian era, Russia was persistently viewed as a threat both to the European order and, sporadically, to British interests in India. The crisis ended at the Congress of Berlin (June 13 - July 13, 1878) when a group of powers, including British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, forced the newly created Bulgarian state to restore much of the land awarded at the peace treaty of San Stefano, including the region of Macedonia, to Ottoman rule.

Jingoism - "Shrill, aggressive superpatriotism...chauvinism...(the term) came from the English parliamentary battle in 1876, with Gladstone on one side facing Queen Victoria and Disraeli on the other. The issue was intervention in Turkey over alleged persecution of Christians there. Gladstone held that Britain should support the Christian minorities against the Turks, threatening to bundle the Turks out of Europe 'bag and baggage.' Disraeli and the Queen felt it was all a plot by the Russians to expand at the expense of Turkey. When Disraeli threatened the Russians with war if they did not halt the flow of 'volunteers' into Turkey, this refrain was heard in the music halls of London:

We don't want to fight, but by Jingo, if we do,
We've got the ships, we've got the men,
We've got the money, too!

'Jingoism' quickly became a synonym for bellicose remarks and national cockiness. Disraeli was initially forced into neutrality but when Russian invaded Turkey in 1878, he sent in the British fleet and helped arrange what he called a peace with honor..." From "Safire's New Political Dictionary" by William Safire (Random House, New York, 1993).

Jingoism is today generally employed as a deprecatory term for the confident expressions of a Western, and particularly Anglo-American, culture that viewed its superiority as both self-evident and merited.

See Jingoism on wikipedia :

Macdermott's war song
written and composed by G. W. Hunt

The "Dogs of War" are loose and the rugged Russian Bear,
All bent on blood and robbery has crawled out of his lair...
It seems a thrashing now and then, will never help to tame...
That brute, and so he's out upon the "same old game"...
The Lion did his best... to find him some excuse...
To crawl back to his den again. All efforts were no use...
He hunger'd for his victim. He's pleased when blood is shed...
But let us hope his crimes may all recoil on his own head...

We don't want to fight but by jingo if we do...
We've got the ships, we've got the men, and got the money too!
We've fought the Bear before... and while we're Britons true,
The Russians shall not have Constantinople...

The misdeeds of the Turks have been "spouted" through all lands,
But how about the Russians, can they show spotless hands?
They slaughtered well at Khiva, in Siberia icy cold.
How many subjects done to death we'll ne'er perhaps be told.
They butchered the Circassians, man, woman yes and child.
With cruelties their Generals their murderous hours beguiled,
And poor unhappy Poland their cruel yoke must bear,
While prayers for "Freedom and Revenge" go up into the air.


May he who 'gan the quarrel soon have to bite the dust.
The Turk should be thrice armed for "he hath his quarrel just."
'Tis said that countless thousands should die through cruel war,
But let us hope most fervently ere long it shall be o'er.
Let them be warned: Old England is brave Old England still.
We've proved our might, we've claimed our right, and ever, ever will.
Should we have to draw the sword our way to victory we'll forge,
With the Battle cry of Britons, "Old England and St George!"


Aline Waites and Robin Hunter, The Illustrated Victorian Songbook,
Michael Joseph, London, 1984; pp. 180-184.

Berliner 5 inch record #40

We Don't Want to Fight - vinyl commemorative version published in 1998