1770 - Cheaper spirits

Carl Michael Bellman

For a few years during his youth, the poet Carl Michael Bellman was employed at the Riksbank, from 1757-1763. Bellman pointed out in his application that his grandfather had been a member of the bank’s Board of Directors. In 1757 he was hired 'on probation'. Bellman's talents unfortunately did not include arithmetic and he did not pass the bank's multiplication test. However, he was considered industrious and in 1759 he was hired as an extraordinary bank officer.

The poet showed his gratitude by writing a New Year poem in honour of the Riksbank. As a reward, he received remuneration of one hundred and fifty ‘daler’ copper coins. However, the money was paid in secret so that other bank officials would not be encouraged to write poems.

Så liusnar upp en dag på framtids mörcka fält, wisst är en högre hand som detta liuset stält. Från efwighetens rymd det sina strålar kastar, och in i samma swalg i blinckens återhastar.

Nevertheless, things did not go so well for Bellman and he was forced to leave the bank. In 1763, burdened by debt and under threat of termination of employment, he tendered his resignation.

When the deflation crisis arose a few years later, he wrote Fredman's Epistle no. 24 and praised deflation as it made aquavit cheaper to buy. Bellman had understood how the economy worked. Times were bad for many companies, but the imported grain used to make aquavit became cheaper when the exchange rate strengthened.

Usla tider!
    Hvad det lider,
Bara Cursen nederslås, :||:
Bättre köp på bränvin fås;
Men då lefver jag ej mera,
Andra Hjeltar då hofvera.
Kan ni tro, då, kära Mor!
Jag skull' få en sup så stor,
Jag skull' supa om ni tror,
Liksom Runius, Lucidor.
    Usla tider!
    Hvad det lider,
Mit Benrangel faller ner,
Men min munn åt glaset ler.
    Supar flera!
    Ge mig mera,
    Bacchus, ingen ann,
    Skal mig balsamera
Som en stor namnkunniger man.