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Title: Captain Sword and Captain Pen - A Poem
Author: Hunt, Leigh, 1784-1859
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: [_To face the Title._]


=A Poem.=




          --If there be in glory aught of good,
          It may by means far different be attained,
          Without ambition, war, or violence.--MILTON.















          =These Pages are Inscribed=


          Jan. 30, 1835.                 LEIGH HUNT.


This Poem is the result of a sense of duty, which has taken the Author
from quieter studies during a great public crisis. He obeyed the impulse
with joy, because it took the shape of verse; but with more pain, on
some accounts, than he chooses to express. However, he has done what he
conceived himself bound to do; and if every zealous lover of his species
were to express his feelings in like manner, to the best of his ability,
individual opinions, little in themselves, would soon amount to an
overwhelming authority, and hasten the day of reason and beneficence.

The measure is regular with an irregular aspect,--four accents in a
verse,--like that of Christabel, or some of the poems of Sir Walter

          Càptain Swòrd got ùp one dày--
          And the flàg full of hònour, as thòugh it could feèl--

He mentions this, not, of course, for readers in general, but for the
sake of those daily acceders to the list of the reading public, whose
knowledge of books is not yet equal to their love of them.


                                      _Canto_ I. _p._ 1.]




            Captain Sword got up one day,
          Over the hills to march away,
          Over the hills and through the towns,
          They heard him coming across the downs,
          Stepping in music and thunder sweet,
          Which his drums sent before him into the street.
          And lo! 'twas a beautiful sight in the sun;
          For first came his foot, all marching like one,
          With tranquil faces, and bristling steel,
          And the flag full of honour as though it could feel,
          And the officers gentle, the sword that hold
          'Gainst the shoulder heavy with trembling gold,
          And the massy tread, that in passing is heard,
          Though the drums and the music say never a word.

            And then came his horse, a clustering sound
          Of shapely potency, forward bound,
          Glossy black steeds, and riders tall,
          Rank after rank, each looking like all,
          Midst moving repose and a threatening charm,
          With mortal sharpness at each right arm,
          And hues that painters and ladies love,
          And ever the small flag blush'd above.

            And ever and anon the kettle-drums beat
          Hasty power midst order meet;
          And ever and anon the drums and fifes
          Came like motion's voice, and life's;
          Or into the golden grandeurs fell
          Of deeper instruments, mingling well,
          Burdens of beauty for winds to bear;
          And the cymbals kiss'd in the shining air,
          And the trumpets their visible voices rear'd,
          Each looking forth with its tapestried beard,
          Bidding the heavens and earth make way
          For Captain Sword and his battle-array.

            He, nevertheless, rode indifferent-eyed,
          As if pomp were a toy to his manly pride,
          Whilst the ladies lov'd him the more for his scorn,
          And thought him the noblest man ever was born,
          And tears came into the bravest eyes,
          And hearts swell'd after him double their size,
          And all that was weak, and all that was strong,
          Seem'd to think wrong's self in him could not be wrong;
          Such love, though with bosom about to be gored,
          Did sympathy get for brave Captain Sword.

            So, half that night, as he stopp'd in the town,
          'Twas all one dance, going merrily down,
          With lights in windows and love in eyes,
          And a constant feeling of sweet surprise;
          But all the next morning 'twas tears and sighs;
          For the sound of his drums grew less and less,
          Walking like carelessness off from distress;
          And Captain Sword went whistling gay,
          "Over the hills and far away."



            Through fair and through foul went Captain Sword,
          Pacer of highway and piercer of ford,
          Steady of face in rain or sun,
          He and his merry men, all as one;
          Till they came to a place, where in battle-array
          Stood thousands of faces, firm as they,
          Waiting to see which could best maintain
          Bloody argument, lords of pain;
          And down the throats of their fellow-men
          Thrust the draught never drunk again.

            It was a spot of rural peace,
          Ripening with the year's increase
          And singing in the sun with birds,
          Like a maiden with happy words--
          With happy words which she scarcely hears
          In her own contented ears,
          Such abundance feeleth she
          Of all comfort carelessly,
          Throwing round her, as she goes,
          Sweet half-thoughts on lily and rose,
          Nor guesseth what will soon arouse
          All ears--that murder's in the house;
          And that, in some strange wrong of brain,
          Her father hath her mother slain.

            Steady! steady! The masses of men
          Wheel, and fall in, and wheel again,
          Softly as circles drawn with pen.

            Then a gaze there was, and valour, and fear,
          And the jest that died in the jester's ear,
          And preparation, noble to see,
          Of all-accepting mortality;
          Tranquil Necessity gracing Force;
          And the trumpets danc'd with the stirring horse;
          And lordly voices, here and there,
          Call'd to war through the gentle air;
          When suddenly, with its voice of doom,
          Spoke the cannon 'twixt glare and gloom,
          Making wider the dreadful room:
          On the faces of nations round
          Fell the shadow of that sound.

            Death for death! The storm begins;
          Rush the drums in a torrent of dins;
          Crash the muskets, gash the swords;
          Shoes grow red in a thousand fords;
          Now for the flint, and the cartridge bite;
          Darkly gathers the breath of the fight,
          Salt to the palate and stinging to sight;
          Muskets are pointed they scarce know where,
          No matter: Murder is cluttering there.
          Reel the hollows: close up! close up!
          Death feeds thick, and his food is his cup.
          Down go bodies, snap burst eyes;
          Trod on the ground are tender cries;
          Brains are dash'd against plashing ears;
          Hah! no time has battle for tears;
          Cursing helps better--cursing, that goes
          Slipping through friends' blood, athirst for foes'.
          What have soldiers with tears to do?--
          We, who this mad-house must now go through,
          This twenty-fold Bedlam, let loose with knives--
          To murder, and stab, and grow liquid with lives--
          Gasping, staring, treading red mud,
          Till the drunkenness' self makes us steady of blood?


                                  _Canto_ II. _p. 8._]

            [Oh! shrink not thou, reader! Thy part's in it too;
          Has not thy praise made the thing they go through
          Shocking to read of, but noble to do?]

            No time to be "breather of thoughtful breath"
          Has the giver and taker of dreadful death.
          See where comes the horse-tempest again,
          Visible earthquake, bloody of mane!
          Part are upon us, with edges of pain;
          Part burst, riderless, over the plain,
          Crashing their spurs, and twice slaying the slain.
          See, by the living God! see those foot
          Charging down hill--hot, hurried, and mute!
          They loll their tongues out!  Ah-hah! pell-mell!
          Horses roll in a human hell;
          Horse and man they climb one another--
          Which is the beast, and which is the brother?
          Mangling, stifling, stopping shrieks
          With the tread of torn-out cheeks,
          Drinking each other's bloody breath--
          Here's the fleshliest feast of Death.
          An odour, as of a slaughter-house,
          The distant raven's dark eye bows.

            Victory! victory!  Man flies man;
          Cannibal patience hath done what it can--
          Carv'd, and been carv'd, drunk the drinkers down,
          And now there is one that hath won the crown:
          One pale visage stands lord of the board--
          Joy to the trumpets of Captain Sword!

            His trumpets blow strength, his trumpets neigh,
          They and his horse, and waft him away;
          They and his foot, with a tir'd proud flow,
          Tatter'd escapers and givers of woe.
          Open, ye cities!  Hats off! hold breath!
          To see the man who has been with Death;
          To see the man who determineth right
          By the virtue-perplexing virtue of might.
          Sudden before him have ceas'd the drums,
          And lo! in the air of empire he comes!

            All things present, in earth and sky,
          Seem to look at his looking eye.



            But Captain Sword was a man among men,
          And he hath become their playmate again:
          Boot, nor sword, nor stern look hath he,
          But holdeth the hand of a fair ladye,
          And floweth the dance a palace within,
          Half the night, to a golden din,
          Midst lights in windows and love in eyes,
          And a constant feeling of sweet surprise;
          And ever the look of Captain Sword
          Is the look that's thank'd, and the look that's ador'd.

            There was the country-dance, small of taste;
          And the waltz, that loveth the lady's waist;
          And the galopade, strange agreeable tramp,
          Made of a scrape, a hobble, and stamp;
          And the high-stepping minuet, face to face,
          Mutual worship of conscious grace;
          And all the shapes in which beauty goes
          Weaving motion with blithe repose.

            And then a table a feast displayed,
          Like a garden of light without a shade,
          All of gold, and flowers, and sweets,
          With wines of old church-lands, and sylvan meats,
          Food that maketh the blood feel choice;
          Yet all the face of the feast, and the voice,
          And heart, still turn'd to the head of the board;
          For ever the look of Captain Sword
          Is the look that's thank'd, and the look that's ador'd.


                                 _Canto_ III. _p._ 14.]

            Well content was Captain Sword;
          At his feet all wealth was pour'd;
          On his head all glory set;
          For his ease all comfort met;
          And around him seem'd entwin'd
          All the arms of womankind.

            And when he had taken his fill
          Thus, of all that pampereth will,
          In his down he sunk to rest,
          Clasp'd in dreams of all its best.



            'Tis a wild night out of doors;
          The wind is mad upon the moors,
          And comes into the rocking town,
          Stabbing all things, up and down,
          And then there is a weeping rain
          Huddling 'gainst the window-pane,
          And good men bless themselves in bed;
          The mother brings her infant's head
          Closer, with a joy like tears,
          And thinks of angels in her prayers;
          Then sleeps, with his small hand in hers.

            Two loving women, lingering yet
          Ere the fire is out, are met,
          Talking sweetly, time-beguil'd,
          One of her bridegroom, one her child,
          The bridegroom he. They have receiv'd
          Happy letters, more believ'd
          For public news, and feel the bliss
          The heavenlier on a night like this.
          They think him hous'd, they think him blest,
          Curtain'd in the core of rest,
          Danger distant, all good near;
          Why hath their "Good night" a tear?

            Behold him! By a ditch he lies
          Clutching the wet earth, his eyes
          Beginning to be mad. In vain
          His tongue still thirsts to lick the rain,
          That mock'd but now his homeward tears;
          And ever and anon he rears
          His legs and knees with all their strength,
          And then as strongly thrusts at length.
          Rais'd, or stretch'd, he cannot bear
          The wound that girds him, weltering there:
          And "Water!" he cries, with moonward stare.

            ["I will not read it!" with a start,
          Burning cries some honest heart;
          "I will not read it! Why endure
          Pangs which horror cannot cure?
          Why--Oh why? and rob the brave
          And the bereav'd of all they crave,
          A little hope to gild the grave?"

            Ask'st thou why, thou honest heart?
          'Tis _because_ thou dost ask, and because thou dost start.
          'Tis because thine own praise and fond outward thought
          Have aided the shews which this sorrow have wrought.]

            A wound unutterable--Oh God!
          Mingles his being with the sod.

            ["I'll read no more."--Thou must, thou must:
          In thine own pang doth wisdom trust.]

            His nails are in earth, his eyes in air,
          And "Water!" he crieth--he may not forbear.
          Brave and good was he, yet now he dreams
          The moon looks cruel; and he blasphemes.

            ["No more! no more!" Nay, this is but one;
          Were the whole tale told, it would not be done
          From wonderful setting to rising sun.
          But God's good time is at hand--be calm,
          Thou reader! and steep thee in all thy balm
          Of tears or patience, of thought or good will,
          For the field--the field awaiteth us still.]

            "Water! water!" all over the field:
          To nothing but Death will that wound-voice yield.
          One, as he crieth, is sitting half bent;
          What holds he so close?--his body is rent.
          Another is mouthless, with eyes on cheek;
          Unto the raven he may not speak.
          One would fain kill him; and one half round
          The place where he writhes, hath up beaten the ground.
          Like a mad horse hath he beaten the ground,
          And the feathers and music that litter it round,
          The gore, and the mud, and the golden sound.
          Come hither, ye cities! ye ball-rooms, take breath!
          See what a floor hath the dance of death!

            The floor is alive, though the lights are out;
          What are those dark shapes, flitting about?
          Flitting about, yet no ravens they,
          Not foes, yet not friends--mute creatures of prey;
          Their prey is lucre, their claws a knife,
          Some say they take the beseeching life.
          Horrible pity is theirs for despair,
          And they the love-sacred limbs leave bare.
          Love will come to-morrow, and sadness,
          Patient for the fear of madness,
          And shut its eyes for cruelty,
          So many pale beds to see.
          Turn away, thou Love, and weep
          No more in covering his last sleep;
          Thou hast him--blessed is thine eye!
          Friendless Famine has yet to die.


                                      _Canto_ IV. _p._ 22.]

            A shriek!--Great God! what superhuman
          Peal was that? Not man, nor woman,
          Nor twenty madmen, crush'd, could wreak
          Their soul in such a ponderous shriek.
          Dumbly, for an instant, stares
          The field; and creep men's dying hairs.

            O friend of man! O noble creature!
          Patient and brave, and mild by nature,
          Mild by nature, and mute as mild,
          Why brings he to these passes wild
          Thee, gentle horse, thou shape of beauty?
          Could he not do his dreadful duty,
          (If duty it be, which seems mad folly)
          Nor link thee to his melancholy?

            Two noble steeds lay side by side,
          One cropp'd the meek grass ere it died;
          Pang-struck it struck t' other, already torn,
          And out of its bowels that shriek was born.

            Now see what crawleth, well as it may,
          Out of the ditch, and looketh that way.
          What horror all black, in the sick moonlight,
          Kneeling, half human, a burdensome sight;
          Loathly and liquid, as fly from a dish;
          Speak, Horror! thou, for it withereth flesh.

            "The grass caught fire; the wounded were by;
          Writhing till eve did a remnant lie;
          Then feebly this coal abateth his cry;
          But he hopeth! he hopeth! joy lighteth his eye,
          For gold he possesseth, and Murder is nigh!"

            O goodness in horror! O ill not all ill!
          In the worst of the worst may be fierce Hope still.
          To-morrow with dawn will come many a wain,
          And bear away loads of human pain,
          Piles of pale beds for the 'spitals; but some
          Again will awake in home-mornings, and some,
          Dull herds of the war, again follow the drum.
          From others, faint blood shall in families flow,
          With wonder at life, and young oldness in woe,
          Yet hence may the movers of great earth grow.
          Now, even now, I hear them at hand,
          Though again Captain Sword is up in the land,
          Marching anew for more fields like these
          In the health of his flag in the morning breeze.

            Sneereth the trumpet, and stampeth the drum,
          And again Captain Sword in his pride doth come;
          He passeth the fields where his friends lie lorn,
          Feeding the flowers and the feeding corn,
          Where under the sunshine cold they lie,
          And he hasteth a tear from his old grey eye.
          Small thinking is his but of work to be done,
          And onward he marcheth, using the sun:
          He slayeth, he wasteth, he spouteth his fires
          On babes at the bosom, and bed-rid sires;
          He bursteth pale cities, through smoke and through yell,
          And bringeth behind him, hot-blooded, his hell.
          Then the weak door is barr'd, and the soul all sore,
          And hand-wringing helplessness paceth the floor,
          And the lover is slain, and the parents are nigh--

            Oh God! let me breathe, and look up at thy sky!
          Good is as hundreds, evil as one;
          Round about goeth the golden sun.



            But to win at the game, whose moves are death,
          It maketh a man draw too proud a breath:
          And to see his force taken for reason and right,
          It tendeth to unsettle his reason quite.
          Never did chief of the line of Sword
          Keep his wits whole at that drunken board.
          He taketh the size, and the roar, and fate,
          Of the field of his action, for soul as great:
          He smiteth and stunneth the cheek of mankind,
          And saith "Lo! I rule both body and mind."

            Captain Sword forgot his own soul,
          Which of aught save itself, resented controul;
          Which whatever his deeds, ordained them still,
          Bodiless monarch, enthron'd in his will:
          He forgot the close thought, and the burning heart,
          And pray'rs, and the mild moon hanging apart,
          Which lifteth the seas with her gentle looks,
          And growth, and death, and immortal books,
          And the Infinite Mildness, the soul of souls,
          Which layeth earth soft 'twixt her silver poles;
          Which ruleth the stars, and saith not a word;
          Whose speed in the hair of no comet is heard;
          Which sendeth the soft sun, day by day,
          Mighty, and genial, and just alway,
          Owning no difference, doing no wrong,
          Loving the orbs and the least bird's song,
          The great, sweet, warm angel, with golden rod,
          Bright with the smile of the distance of God.

            Captain Sword, like a witless thing,
          Of all under heaven must needs be king,
          King of kings, and lord of lords,
          Swayer of souls as well as of swords,
          Ruler of speech, and through speech, of thought;
          And hence to his brain was a madness brought.
          He madden'd in East, he madden'd in West,
          Fiercer for sights of men's unrest,
          Fiercer for talk, amongst awful men,
          Of their new mighty leader, Captain Pen,
          A conqueror strange, who sat in his home
          Like the wizard that plagued the ships of Rome,
          Noiseless, show-less, dealing no death,
          But victories, winged, went forth from his breath.

            Three thousand miles across the waves[A]
          Did Captain Sword cry, bidding souls be slaves:
          Three thousand miles did the echo return
          With a laugh and a blow made his old cheeks burn.

            Then he call'd to a wrong-maddened people, and swore[B]
          Their name in the map should never be more:
          Dire came the laugh, and smote worse than before.
          Were earthquake a giant, up-thrusting his head
          And o'erlooking the nations, not worse were the dread.

            Then, lo! was a wonder, and sadness to see;
          For with that very people, their leader, stood he,
          Incarnate afresh, like a Cæsar of old;[C]
          But because he look'd back, and his heart was cold,
          Time, hope, and himself for a tale he sold.
          Oh largest occasion, by man ever lost!
          Oh throne of the world, to the war-dogs tost!

            He vanished; and thinly there stood in his place
          The new shape of Sword, with an humbler face,[D]
          Rebuking his brother, and preaching for right,
          Yet aye when it came, standing proud on his might,
          And squaring its claims with his old small sight;
          Then struck up his drums, with ensign furl'd,
          And said, "I will walk through a subject world:
          Earth, just as it is, shall for ever endure,
          The rich be too rich, and the poor too poor;
          And for this I'll stop knowledge. I'll say to it, 'Flow
          Thus far; but presume no farther to flow:
          For me, as I list, shall the free airs blow.'"


                                     _Canto V. p. 34._]

            Laugh'd after him loudly that land so fair,[E]
          "The king thou set'st over us, by a free air
          Is swept away, senseless." And old Sword then
          First knew the might of great Captain Pen.
          So strangely it bow'd him, so wilder'd his brain,
          That now he stood, hatless, renouncing his reign;
          Now mutter'd of dust laid in blood; and now
          'Twixt wonder and patience went lifting his brow.
          Then suddenly came he, with gowned men,
          And said, "Now observe me--_I'm_ Captain Pen:
          _I'll_ lead all your changes--I'll write all your books--
          I'm every thing--all things--I'm clergymen, cooks,
          Clerks, carpenters, hosiers--I'm Pitt--I'm Lord Grey."

            'Twas painful to see his extravagant way;
          But heart ne'er so bold, and hand ne'er so strong,
          What are they, when truth and the wits go wrong?


[A] The American War.

[B] The French War.

[C] Napoleon.

[D] The Duke of Wellington, or existing Military Toryism.

[E] The Glorious Three Days.



            Now tidings of Captain Sword and his state
          Were brought to the ears of Pen the Great,
          Who rose and said, "His time is come."
          And he sent him, but not by sound of drum,
          Nor trumpet, nor other hasty breath,
          Hot with questions of life and death,
          But only a letter calm and mild;
          And Captain Sword he read it, and smil'd,
          And said, half in scorn, and nothing in fear,
          (Though his wits seem'd restor'd by a danger near,
          For brave was he ever) "Let Captain Pen
          Bring at his back a million men,
          And I'll talk with his wisdom, and not till then."
          Then replied to his messenger Captain Pen,
          "I'll bring at my back a _world_ of men."

            Out laugh'd the captains of Captain Sword,
          But their chief look'd vex'd, and said not a word,
          For thought and trouble had touch'd his ears
          Beyond the bullet-like sense of theirs,
          And wherever he went, he was 'ware of a sound
          Now heard in the distance, now gathering round,
          Which irk'd him to know what the issue might be;
          But the soul of the cause of it well guess'd he.

            Indestructible souls among men
          Were the souls of the line of Captain Pen;
          Sages, patriots, martyrs mild,
          Going to the stake, as child
          Goeth with his prayer to bed;
          Dungeon-beams, from quenchless head;
          Poets, making earth aware
          Of its wealth in good and fair;
          And the benders to their intent,
          Of metal and of element;
          Of flame the enlightener, beauteous,
          And steam, that bursteth his iron house;
          And adamantine giants blind,
          That, without master, have no mind.

            Heir to these, and all their store,
          Was Pen, the power unknown of yore;
          And as their might still created might,
          And each work'd for him by day and by night,
          In wealth and wondrous means he grew,
          Fit to move the earth anew;
          Till his fame began to speak
          Pause, as when the thunders wake,
          Muttering, in the beds of heaven:
          Then, to set the globe more even,
          Water he call'd, and Fire, and Haste,
          Which hath left old Time displac'd--
          And Iron, mightiest now for Pen,
          Each of his steps like an army of men--
          (Sword little knew what was leaving him then)
          And out of the witchcraft of their skill,
          A creature he call'd, to wait on his will--
          Half iron, half vapour, a dread to behold--
          Which evermore panted and evermore roll'd,
          And uttered his words a million fold.
          Forth sprang they in air, down raining like dew,
          And men fed upon them, and mighty they grew.

            Ears giddy with custom that sound might not hear,
          But it woke up the rest, like an earthquake near;
          And that same night of the letter, some strange
          Compulsion of soul brought a sense of change;
          And at midnight the sound grew into a roll
          As the sound of all gath'rings from pole to pole,
          From pole unto pole, and from clime to clime,
          Like the roll of the wheels of the coming of time;--
          A sound as of cities, and sound as of swords
          Sharpening, and solemn and terrible words,
          And laughter as solemn, and thunderous drumming,
          A tread as if all the world were coming.
          And then was a lull, and soft voices sweet
          Call'd into music those terrible feet,
          Which rising on wings, lo! the earth went round
          To the burn of their speed with a golden sound;
          With a golden sound, and a swift repose,
          Such as the blood in the young heart knows;
          Such as Love knows, when his tumults cease;
          When all is quick, and yet all is at peace.

            And when Captain Sword got up next morn,
          Lo! a new-fac'd world was born;
          For not an anger nor pride would it shew,
          Nor aught of the loftiness now found low,
          Nor would his own men strike a single blow:
          Not a blow for their old, unconsidering lord
          Would strike the good soldiers of Captain Sword;
          But weaponless all, and wise they stood,
          In the level dawn, and calm brotherly good;
          Yet bowed to him they, and kiss'd his hands,
          For such were their new lord's commands,
          Lessons rather, and brotherly plea;
          Reverence the past, quoth he;
          Reverence the struggle and mystery,
          And faces human in their pain;
          Nor his the least, that could sustain
          Cares of mighty wars, and guide
          Calmly where the red deaths ride.

            "But how! what now?" cried Captain Sword;
          "Not a blow for your gen'ral? not even a word?
          What! traitors? deserters?"

                                  "Ah no!" cried they;
          "But the 'game's' at an end; the 'wise' wont play."

            "And where's your old spirit?"

                                "The same, though another;
          Man may be strong without maiming his brother."

            "But enemies?"

                    "Enemies! Whence should they come,
          When all interchange what was known but to some?"

            "But famine? but plague? worse evils by far."

            "O last mighty rhet'ric to charm us to war!
          Look round--what has earth, now it equably speeds,
          To do with these foul and calamitous needs?
          Now it equably speeds, and thoughtfully glows,
          And its heart is open, never to close?


                                _Canto_ VI. _p. 44._]

            "Still I can govern," said Captain Sword;
          "Fate I respect; and I stick to my word."
          And in truth so he did; but the word was one
          He had sworn to all vanities under the sun,
          To do, for their conq'rors, the least could be done.
          Besides, what had _he_ with his worn-out story,
          To do with the cause he had wrong'd, and the glory?

            No: Captain Sword a sword was still,
          He could not unteach his lordly will;
          He could not attemper his single thought;
          It might not be bent, nor newly wrought:
          And so, like the tool of a disus'd art,
          He stood at his wall, and rusted apart.

            'Twas only for many-soul'd Captain Pen
          To make a world of swordless men.





The object of this poem is to show the horrors of war, the false ideas
of power produced in the minds of its leaders, and, by inference, the
unfitness of those leaders for the government of the world.

The author intends no more offence to any one than can be helped: he
feels due admiration for that courage and energy, the supposed
misdirection of which it deplores; he heartily acknowledges the
probability, that that supposed misdirection has been hitherto no
misdirection, but a necessity--but he believes that the time is come
when, by encouraging the disposition to question it, its services and
its sufferings may be no longer required, and he would fain tear asunder
the veil from the sore places of war,--would show what has been hitherto
kept concealed, or not shown earnestly, and for the purpose,--would
prove, at all events, that the time has come for putting an end to those
phrases in the narratives of warfare, by which a suspicious delicacy is
palmed upon the reader, who is told, after everything has been done to
excite his admiration of war, that his feelings are "spared" a recital
of its miseries--that "a veil" is drawn over them--a "truce" given to
descriptions which only "harrow up the soul," &c.

Suppose it be necessary to "harrow up the soul," in order that the soul
be no longer harrowed? Moralists and preachers do not deal after this
tender fashion with moral, or even physical consequences, resulting from
other evils. Why should they spare these? Why refuse to look their own
effeminacy in the face,--their own gaudy and overweening encouragement
of what they dare not contemplate in its results? Is a murder in the
streets worth attending to,--a single wounded man worth carrying to the
hospital,--and are all the murders, and massacres, and fields of
wounded, and the madness, the conflagrations, the famines, the miseries
of families, and the rickety frames and melancholy bloods of posterity,
only fit to have an embroidered handkerchief thrown over them? Must
"ladies and gentlemen" be called off, that they may not "look that way,"
the "sight is so shocking"? Does it become us to let others endure,
what we cannot bear even to think of?

Even if nothing else were to come of inquiries into the horrors of war,
surely they would cry aloud for some better provision against their
extremity _after_ battle,--for some regulated and certain assistance to
the wounded and agonized,--so that we might hear no longer of men left
in cold and misery all night, writhing with torture,--of bodies stripped
by prowlers, perhaps murderers,--and of frenzied men, the other day the
darlings of their friends, dying, two and even several days after the
battle, of famine! The field of Waterloo was not completely cleared of
its dead and dying till nearly a week! Surely large companies of men
should be organized for the sole purpose of assisting and clearing away
the field after battle. They should be steady men, not lightly
admitted, nor unpossessed of some knowledge of surgery, and they should
be attached to the surgeon's staff. Both sides would respect them for
their office, and keep them sacred from violence. Their duties would be
too painful and useful to get them disrespected for not joining in the
fight--and possibly, before long, they would help to do away their own
necessity, by detailing what they beheld. Is that the reason why there
is no such establishment? The question is asked, not in bitterness, but
to suggest a self-interrogation to the instincts of war.

I have not thought proper to put notes to the poem, detailing the
horrors which I have touched upon; nor even to quote my authorities,
which are unfortunately too numerous, and contain worse horrors still.
They are furnished by almost every history of a campaign, in all
quarters of the world. Circumstances so painful, in a first attempt to
render them public for their own sakes, would, I thought, even meet with
less attention in prose than in verse, however less fitted they may
appear for it at first sight. Verse, if it has any enthusiasm, at once
demands and conciliates attention; it proposes to say much in little;
and it associates with it the idea of something consolatory, or
otherwise sustaining. But there is one prose specimen of these details,
which I will give, because it made so great an impression on me in my
youth, that I never afterwards could help calling it to mind when war
was spoken of; and as I had a good deal to say on that subject, having
been a public journalist during one of the most interesting periods of
modern history, and never having been blinded into an admiration of war
by the dazzle of victory, the circumstance may help to show how salutary
a record of this kind may be, and what an impression the subject might
be brought to make on society. The passage is in a note to one of Mr
Southey's poems, the "Ode to Horror," and is introduced by another
frightful record, less horrible, because there is not such agony implied
in it, nor is it alive.

"I extract" (says Mr Southey) "the following picture of consummate
horror from notes to a poem written in twelve-syllable verse, upon the
campaign of 1794 and 1795: it was during the retreat to Deventer. 'We
could not proceed a hundred yards without perceiving the dead bodies of
men, women, children, and horses, in every direction. One scene made an
impression upon my memory which time will never be able to efface. Near
another cart we perceived a stout-looking man and a beautiful young
woman, with an infant, about seven months old, at the breast, all three
frozen and dead. The mother had most certainly expired in the act of
suckling her child; as with one breast exposed she lay upon the drifted
snow, the milk to all appearance in a stream drawn from the nipple by
the babe, and instantly congealed. The infant seemed as if its lips had
but just then been disengaged, and it reposed its little head upon the
mother's bosom, with an overflow of milk, frozen as it trickled from the
mouth. Their countenances were perfectly composed and fresh, resembling
those of persons in a sound and tranquil slumber.'"

"The following description (he continues) of a field of battle is in the
words of one who passed over the field of Jemappe, after Doumourier's
victory: 'It was on the third day after the victory obtained by general
Doumourier over the Austrians, that I rode across the field of battle.
The scene lies on a waste common, rendered then more dreary by the
desertion of the miserable hovels before occupied by peasants.
Everything that resembled a human habitation was desolated, and for the
most part they had been burnt or pulled down, to prevent their affording
shelter to the posts of the contending armies. The ground was ploughed
up by the wheels of the artillery and waggons; everything like herbage
was trodden into mire; broken carriages, arms, accoutrements, dead
horses and men, were strewed over the heath. _This was the third day
after the battle: it was the beginning of November, and for three days a
bleak wind and heavy rain had continued incessantly._ There were still
remaining alive several hundreds of horses, and of the human victims of
that dreadful fight. I can speak with certainty of having seen more than
four hundred men _still living_, unsheltered, _without food_, and
without any human assistance, most of them confined to the spot where
they had fallen _by broken limbs_. The two armies had proceeded, and
abandoned these miserable wretches to their fate. _Some of the dead
persons appeared to have expired in the act of embracing each other._
Two young French officers, who were brothers, had crawled under the side
of a dead horse, where they had contrived a kind of shelter by means of
a cloak: they were both mortally wounded, and groaning _for each other_.
One very fine young man had just strength enough to drag himself out of
a hollow partly filled with water, and was laid upon a little hillock
begged of me to end his misery! He complained of dreadful thirst. I
filled him the hat of a dead soldier with water, which he nearly drank
off at once, and left him to that end of his wretchedness which could
not be far distant.'"

"I hope (concludes Mr Southey), I have always felt and expressed an
honest and Christian abhorrence of wars, and of the systems that produce
them; but my ideas of their immediate horrors fell infinitely short of
this authentic picture."

Mr Southey, in his subsequent lives of conquerors, and his other
writings, will hardly be thought to have acted up to this "abhorrence of
wars, and of the systems that produce them." Nor is he to be blamed for
qualifying his view of the subject, equally blameless (surely) as they
are to be held who have retained their old views, especially by him who
helped to impress them. His friend Mr Wordsworth, in the vivacity of his
admonitions to hasty complaints of evil, has gone so far as to say that
"Carnage is God's daughter," and thereby subjected himself to the
scoffs of a late noble wit. He is addressing the Deity himself:--

          "But thy most dreaded instrument,
           In working out a pure intent,
           Is man, array'd for mutual slaughter:
           Yea, Carnage is thy daughter."

Mr Wordsworth is a great poet and a philosophical thinker, in spite of
his having here paid a tremendous compliment to a rhyme (for
unquestionably the word "slaughter" provoked him into that imperative
"Yea," and its subsequent venturous affiliation); but the judgment, to
say no more of it, is rash. Whatever the Divine Being intends, by his
permission or use of evil, it becomes us to think the best of it; but
not to affirm the appropriation of the particulars to him under their
worst appellation, seeing that he has implanted in us a horror of them,
and a wish to do them away. What it is right in him to do, is one
thing; what it is proper in us to affirm that he actually does, is
another. And, above all, it is idle to affirm what he intends to do for
ever, and to have us eternally venerate and abstain from questioning an
evil. All good and evil, and vice and virtue themselves, might become
confounded in the human mind by a like daring; and humanity sit down
under every buffet of misfortune, without attempting to resist it:
which, fortunately, is impossible. Plato cut this knotty point better,
by regarding evil as a thing senseless and unmalignant (indeed no
philosopher regards anything as malignant, or malignant for malignity's
sake); out of which, or notwithstanding it, good is worked, and to be
worked, perhaps, finally to the abolition of evil. But whether this
consummation be possible or not, and even if the dark horrors of evil be
necessary towards the enjoyment of the light of good, still the horror
must be maintained, where the object is really horrible; otherwise, we
but the more idly resist the contrast, if necessary--and, what is
worse, endanger the chance of melioration, if possible.

Did war appear to me an inevitable evil, I should be one of the last men
to shew it in any other than its holiday clothes. I can appeal to
writings before the public, to testify whether I am in the habit of
making the worst of anything, or of not making it yield its utmost
amount of good. My inclinations, as well as my reason, lie all that way.
I am a passionate and grateful lover of all the beauties of the
universe, moral and material; and the chief business of my life is to
endeavour to give others the like fortunate affection. But, on the same
principle, I feel it my duty to look evil in the face, in order to
discover if it be capable of amendment; and I do not see why the
miseries of war are to be spared this interrogation, simply because they
are frightful and enormous. Men get rid of smaller evils which lie in
their way--nay, of great ones; and there appears to be no reason why
they should not get rid of the greatest, if they will but have the
courage. We have abolished inquisitions and the rack, burnings for
religion, burnings for witchcraft, hangings for forgery (a great triumph
in a commercial country), much of the punishment of death in some
countries, all of it in others. Why not abolish war? Mr Wordsworth
writes no odes to tell us that the Inquisition was God's daughter;
though Lope de Vega, who was one of its officers, might have done
so--and Mr Wordsworth too, had he lived under its dispensation. Lope de
Vega, like Mr Wordsworth and Mr Southey, was a good man, as well as a
celebrated poet: and we will concede to his memory what the English
poets will, perhaps, not be equally disposed to grant (for they are
severe on the Romish faith) that even the Inquisition, _like War_, might
possibly have had some utility in its evil, were it no other than a
hastening of Christianity by its startling contradictions of it. Yet it
has gone. The Inquisition, as War may be hereafter, is no more. Daughter
if it was of the Supreme Good, it was no immortal daughter. Why should
"Carnage" be,--especially as God has put it in our heads to get rid of

I am aware of what may be said on these occasions, to "puzzle the will;"
and I concede of course, that mankind may entertain false views of their
power to change anything for the better. I concede, that all change may
be only in appearance, and not make any real difference in the general
amount of good and evil; that evil, to a certain invariable amount, may
be necessary to the amount of good (the overbalance of which, with a
most hearty and loving sincerity, I ever acknowledge); and finally, that
all which the wisest of men could utter on any such subject, might
possibly be nothing but a jargon,--the witless and puny voice of what
we take to be a mighty orb, but which, after all, is only a particle in
the starry dust of the universe.

On the other hand, all this may be something very different from what we
take it to be, setting aside even the opinions which consider mind as
everything, and time and space themselves as only modifications of it,
or breathing-room in which it exists, weaving the thoughts which it
calls life, death, and materiality.

But be his metaphysical opinions what they may, who but some fantastic
individual, or ultra-contemplative scholar, ever thinks of subjecting to
them his practical notions of bettering his condition! And how soon is
it likely that men will leave off endeavouring to secure themselves
against the uneasier chances of vicissitude, even if Providence ordains
them to do so for no other end than the preservation of vicissitude
itself, and not in order to help them out of the husks and thorns of
action into the flowers of it, and into the air of heaven? Certain it
is, at all events, that the human being is incited to increase his
amount of good: and that when he is endeavouring to do so, he is at
least not fulfilling the worst part of his necessity. Nobody tells us,
when we attempt to put out a fire and to save the lives of our
neighbours, that Conflagration is God's daughter, or Murder God's
daughter. On the contrary, these are things which Christendom is taught
to think ill off, and to wish to put down; and therefore we should put
down war, which is murder and conflagration by millions.

To those who tell us that nations would grow cowardly and effeminate
without war, we answer, "Try a reasonable condition of peace first, and
then prove it. Try a state of things which mankind have never yet
attained, because they had no press, and no universal comparison of
notes; and consider, in the meanwhile, whether so cheerful, and
intelligent, and just a state, seeing fair play between body and mind,
and educated into habits of activity, would be likely to uneducate
itself into what was neither respected nor customary. Prove, in the
meanwhile, that nations are cowardly and effeminate, that have been long
unaccustomed to war; that the South Americans are so; or that all our
robust countrymen, who do not "go for soldiers," are timid
agriculturists and manufacturers, with not a quoit to throw on the
green, or a saucy word to give to an insult. Moral courage is in
self-respect and the sense of duty; physical courage is a matter of
health or organization. Are these predispositions likely to fail in a
community of instructed freemen? Doubters of advancement are always
arguing from a limited past to an unlimited future; that is to say, from
a past of which they know but a point, to a future of which they know
nothing. They stand on the bridge "between two eternities," seeing a
little bit of it behind them, and nothing at all of what is before; and
uttering those words unfit for mortal tongue, "man ever was" and "man
ever will be." They might as well say what is beyond the stars. It
appears to be a part of the necessity of things, from what we see of the
improvements they make, that all human improvement should proceed by the
co-operation of human means. But what blinker into the night of next
week,--what luckless prophet of the impossibilities of steam-boats and
steam-carriages,--shall presume to say how far those improvements are to
extend? Let no man faint in the co-operation with which God has honoured

As to those superabundances of population which wars and other evils are
supposed to be necessary in order to keep down, there are questions
which have a right to be put, long before any such necessity is assumed:
and till those questions be answered, and the experiments dependent upon
them tried, the interrogators have a right to assume that no such
necessity exists. I do not enter upon them--for I am not bound to do so;
but I have touched upon them in the poem; and the "too rich," and other
disingenuous half-reasoners, know well what they are. All passionate
remedies for evil are themselves evil, and tend to re-produce what they
remedy. It is high time for the world to show that it has come to man's
estate, and can put down what is wrong without violence. Should the
wrong still return, we should have a right to say with the Apostle,
"Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof;" for meanwhile we should
"not have done evil that good may come." That "good" may come! nay,
that evil may be perpetuated; for what good, superior to the
alternatives denounced, is achieved by this eternal round of war and its
causes? Let us do good in a good and kind manner, and trust to the
co-operation of Providence for the result. It seems the only real way of
attaining to the very best of which our earth is capable; and at the
very worst, necessity, like the waters, will find its level, and the
equity of things be justified.

I firmly believe, that war, or the sending thousands of our
fellow-creatures to cut one another to bits, often for what they have no
concern in, nor understand, will one day be reckoned far more absurd
than if people were to settle an argument over the dinner-table with
their knives,--a logic indeed, which was once fashionable in some places
during the "good old times." The world has seen the absurdity of that
practice: why should it not come to years of discretion, with respect to
violence on a larger scale? The other day, our own country and the
United States agreed to refer a point in dispute to the arbitration of
the king of Holland; a compliment (if we are to believe the newspapers)
of which his majesty was justly proud. He struck a medal on the strength
of it, which history will show as a set-off against his less creditable
attempts to force his opinions upon the Belgians. Why should not every
national dispute be referred, in like manner, to a third party? There is
reason to suppose, that the judgment would stand a good chance of being
impartial; and it would benefit the character of the judge, and dispose
him to receive judgments of the same kind; till at length the custom
would prevail, like any other custom; and men be astonished at the
customs that preceded it. In private life, none but school-boys and the
vulgar settle disputes by blows; even duelling is losing its dignity.

Two nations, or most likely two governments, have a dispute; they reason
the point backwards and forwards; they cannot determine it; perhaps they
do not wish to determine; so, like two carmen in the street, they fight
it out; first, however, dressing themselves up to look fine, and pluming
themselves on their absurdity; just as if the two carmen were to go and
put on their Sunday clothes, and stick a feather in their hat besides,
in order to be as dignified and fantastic as possible. They then "go at
it," and cover themselves with mud, blood, and glory. Can anything be
more ridiculous? Yet, apart from the habit of thinking otherwise, and
being drummed into the notion by the very toys of infancy, the
similitude is not one atom too ludicrous; no, nor a thousandth part
enough so. I am aware that a sarcasm is but a sarcasm, and need not
imply any argument; never includes all;--but it acquires a more
respectable character when so much is done to keep it out of
sight,--when so many questions are begged against it by "pride, pomp,
and circumstance," and allegations of necessity. Similar allegations may
be, and are brought forward, by other nations of the world, in behalf of
customs which we, for our parts, think very ridiculous, and do our
utmost to put down; never referring them, as we refer our own, to the
mysterious ordinations of Providence; or, if we do, never hesitating to
suppose, that Providence, in moving us to interfere, is varying its
ordinations. Now, all that I would ask of the advocates of war, is to
apply the possible justice of this supposition to their own case, for
the purpose of thoroughly investigating the question.

But they will exultingly say, perhaps, "Is this a time for investigating
the question, when military genius, even for civil purposes, has
regained its ascendancy in the person of the Duke of Wellington? When
the world has shown that it cannot do without him? When whigs, radicals,
liberals of all sorts, have proved to be but idle talkers, in comparison
with this man of few words and many deeds?" I answer, that it remains to
be proved whether the ascendancy be gained or not; that I have no belief
it will be regained; and that, in the meanwhile, never was time fitter
for questioning the merits of war, and, by inference, those of its
leaders. The general peacefulness of the world presents a fair
opportunity for laying the foundations of peaceful opinion; and the
alarm of the moment renders the interrogation desirable for its
immediate sake.

The re-appearance of a military administration, or of an administration
_barely civil_, and military at heart, may not, at first sight, be
thought the most promising one for hastening a just appreciation of
war, and the ascendancy of moral over physical strength. But is it, or
can it be, lasting? Will it not provoke--is it not now provoking--a
re-action still more peremptory against the claims of Toryism, than the
state of things which preceded it? Is it anything but a flash of
success, still more indicative of expiring life, and caused only by its
convulsive efforts?

If it be, this it is easy enough to predict, that Sir Robert Peel,
notwithstanding his abilities, and the better ambition which is natural
to them, and which struggles in him with an inferior one, impatient of
his origin, will turn out to be nothing but a servant of the
aristocracy, and (more or less openly) of a barrack-master. He will be
the servant, not of the King, not of the House of Commons, but of the
House of Lords, and (as long as such influence lasts, which can be but
a short while), of its military leader. He will do nothing whatsoever
contrary to their dictation, upon peril of being treated worse than
Canning; and all the reform which he is permitted to bring about will be
only just as much as will serve to keep off the spirit of it as long as
possible, and to continue the people in that state of comparative
ignorance, which is the only safeguard of monopoly. Every unwilling step
of reform will be accompanied with some retrograde or bye effort in
favour of the abuses reformed: cunning occasion will be seized to
convert boons, demanded by the age, into gifts of party favour, and
bribes for the toleration of what is withheld; and as knowledge proceeds
to extort public education (for extort it it will, and in its own way
too at last), mark, and see what attempts will be made to turn knowledge
against itself, and to catechise the nation back into the schoolboy
acquiescence of the good people of Germany. Much good is there in that
people--I would not be thought to undervalue it--much _bonhommie_--and
in the most despotic districts, as much sensual comfort as can make any
people happy who know no other happiness. But England and France, the
leaders of Europe, the peregrinators of the world, cannot be confined to
those lazy and prospectless paths. They have gone through the feudal
reign; they must now go through the commercial (God forbid that for any
body's sake they should stop there!), and they will continue to advance,
till all are instructed, and all are masters; and government, in however
gorgeous a shape, be truly their servant. The problem of existing
governments is how to prepare for this inevitable period, and to
continue to be its masters, by converting themselves frankly and truly
into its friends. For my part, as one of the people, I confess I like
the colours and shows of feudalism, and would retain as much of them as
would adorn nobler things. I would keep the tiger's skin, though the
beast be killed; the painted window, though the superstition be laid in
the tomb. Nature likes external beauty, and man likes it. It softens the
heart, enriches the imagination, and helps to show us that there are
other goods in the world besides bare utility. I would fain see the
splendours of royalty combined with the cheapness of a republic and the
equal knowledge of all classes. Is such a combination impossible? I
would exhort the lovers of feudal splendour to be the last men to think
so; for a thousand times more impossible will they find its retention
under any other circumstances. Their royalties, their educations, their
accomplishments of all sorts, must go along with the Press and its
irresistible consequences, or they will be set aside like a child in a
corner, who has insisted on keeping the toys and books of his brothers
to himself.

Now, there is nothing that irritates a just cause so much as a
threatening of force; and all impositions of a military chief on a
state, where civil directors will, at least, do as well, is a
threatening of force, disguise it, or pretend to laugh at it, as its
imposers may. This irritation in England will not produce violence.
Public opinion is too strong, and the future too secure. But deeply and
daily will increase the disgust and the ridicule; and individuals will
get laughed at and catechised who cannot easily be sent out of the way
as ambassadors, and who might as well preserve their self-respect a
little better. To attempt, however quietly, to overawe the advance of
improvement, by the aspect of physical force, is as idle as if soldiers
were drawn out to suppress the rising of a flood. The flood rises
quietly, irresistibly, without violence--it cannot help it--the waters
of knowledge are out, and will "cover the earth." Of what use is it to
see the representative of a by-gone influence--a poor individual mortal
(for he is nothing else in the comparison), fretting and fuming on the
shore of this mighty sea, and playing the part of a Canute reversed,--an
antic really taking his flatterers at their word?

The first thirty-five years of the nineteenth century have been rich in
experiences of the sure and certain failure of all soldiership and
Toryism to go heartily along in the cause of the many. There has been
the sovereign instance of Napoleon Bonaparte himself--of the allies
after him--of Charles the Tenth--of Louis Philippe, albeit a
"schoolmaster,"--and lastly, of this strange and most involuntary
Reformer the Duke of Wellington, who refused to do, under Canning, or
for principle's sake, what he consented to do when Canning died, for the
sake of regaining power, and of keeping it with as few concessions as
possible. Canning perished because Toryism, or the principle of power
for its own sake, to which he had been a servant, could not bear to
acknowledge him as its master. His intellect was just great enough (as
his birth was small enough) to render it jealous of him under that
aspect. There is an instinct in Toryism which renders pure intellect
intolerable to it, except in some inferior or mechanical shape, or in
the flattery of voluntary servitude. But, by a like instinct, it is not
so jealous of military renown. It is glad of the doubtful amount of
intellect in military genius, and knows it to be a good ally in the
preservation of power, and in the substitution of noise and show for
qualities fearless of inspection. Is it an ascendancy of this kind which
the present age requires, or will permit? Do we want a soldier at the
head of us, when there is nobody abroad to fight with? when
international as well as national questions can manifestly settle
themselves without him? and when his appearance in the seat of power
can indicate nothing but a hankering after those old substitutions of
force for argument, or at best of "an authority for a reason," which
every step of reform is hoping to do away? Do we want him to serve in
our shops? to preside over our studies? to cultivate "peace and good
will" among nations? wounding no self love--threatening no social?

There never was a soldier, purely brought up as such--and it is of such
only I speak, and not of rare and even then perilous exceptions,--men
educated in philosophy like Epaminondas, or in homely household virtues
and citizenship like Washington--but there never was a soldier such as I
speak of, who did more for the world than was compatible with his
confined and arbitrary breeding. I do not speak, of course, with
reference to the unprofessional part of his character. Circumstances,
especially the participation of dangers and vicissitude, often conspire
with naturally good qualities to render soldiers the most amiable of
men; and nothing is more delightful to contemplate than an old military
veteran, whose tenderness of heart has survived the shocks of the rough
work it has been tried in, till twenty miserable sights of war and
horror start up to the imagination as a set-off against its
attractiveness. But, publicly speaking, the more a soldier succeeds, the
more he looks upon soldiership as something superior to all other kinds
of ascendancy, and qualified to dispense with them. He always ends in
considering the flower of the art of government as consisting in issuing
"orders," and that of popular duty as comprised in "obedience." Cities
with him are barracks, and the nation a conquered country. He is at best
but a pioneer of civilization. When he undertakes to be the civilizer
himself, he makes mistakes that betray him to others, even supposing
him self-deceived. Napoleon, though he was the accidental instrument of
a popular re-action, was one of the educated tools of the system that
provoked it,--an officer brought up at a Royal Military College; and in
spite of his boasted legislation and his real genius, such he ever
remained. He did as much for his own aggrandizement as he could, and no
more for the world than he thought compatible with it. The same military
genius which made him as great as he was, stopped him short of a greater
greatness; because, quick and imposing as he was in acting the part of a
civil ruler, he was in reality a soldier and nothing else, and by the
excess of the soldier's propensity (aggrandizement by force), he
over-toppled himself, and fell to pieces. Soldiership appears to have
narrowed or hardened the public spirit of every man who has spent the
chief part of his life in it, who has died at an age which gives final
proofs of its tendency, and whose history is thoroughly known. We all
know what Cromwell did to an honest parliament. Marlborough ended in
being a miser and the tool of his wife. Even good-natured, heroic Nelson
condescended to become an executioner at Naples. Frederick did much for
Prussia, as a power; but what became of her as a people, or power
either, before the popular power of France? Even Washington seemed not
to comprehend those who thought that negro-slaves ought to be freed.

In the name of common sense then, what do we want with a soldier who was
born and bred in circumstances the most arbitrary; who never advocated a
liberal measure as long as he could help it; and who (without meaning to
speak presumptuously, or in one's own person unauthorized by opinion) is
one of the merest soldiers, though a great one, that ever
existed,--without genius of any other sort,--with scarcely a civil
public quality either commanding or engaging (as far as the world in
general can see),--and with no more to say for himself than the most
mechanical clerk in office? In what respect is the Duke of Wellington
better fitted to be a parliamentary leader, than the Sir Arthur
Wellesley of twenty years back? Or what has re-cast the habits and
character of the Colonel Wellesley of the East Indies, to give him an
unprofessional consideration for the lives and liberties of his

And yet the Duke of Wellington (it is said) _may_, after all, be in
earnest in his professions of reform and advancement. If so, he will be
the most remarkable instance that ever existed, of the triumph of reason
over the habits of a life, and the experience of mankind. I have looked
for some such man through a very remarkable period of the world, when
an honest declaration to this effect would have set him at the top of
mankind, to be worshipped for ever; and I never found the glorious
opportunity seized,--not by Napoleon when he came from Elba,--not by the
allies when they conquered him,--not by Louis Philippe, though he was
educated in adversity. I mean that he has shown himself a prince born,
of the most aristocratic kind; and evidently considers himself as
nothing but the head of a new dynasty. When the Duke of Wellington had
the opportunity of being a reformer, of his own free will, he resisted
it as long as he could. He opposed reform up to the last moment of its
freedom from his dictation; he declared that ruin would follow it; that
the institutions of the country were perfect without it; and that, at
the very least, the less of it the better. And for this enmity, even if
no other reason existed,--even if his new light were sincere,--the Duke
of Wellington ought not to have the _honour_ of leading reform. It is
just as if a man had been doing all he could to prevent another from
entering his own house, and then, when he found that the by-standers
would insist on his having free passage, were to turn to them, smiling,
and say, "Well, since it must be so, allow me to do the honours of the
mansion." Everybody knows what this proposal would be called by the
by-standers. And if the way in which greatness is brought up and spoilt
gives it a right to a less homely style of rebuke (as I grant it does),
still the absurdity of the Duke's claim is not the less evident, nor the
air of it less provoking.

I can imagine but two reasons for the remotest possible permission of
this glaring anomaly--this government of anti-reforming reformers--this
hospital of sick guides for the healthy, supported by involuntary
contributions: first, sheer necessity (which is ludicrous); and second,
a facilitation of church reform through the Lords and the bench of
Bishops; the desirableness of which facilitation appears to be in no
proportion to the compromise it is likely to make with abuses. I have
read, I believe, all the utmost possible things that can be said in its
favour, the articles, for instance, written by the _Times_ newspaper
(admirable, as far as a rotten cause can let them be, and when not
afflicted by some portentous mystery of personal resentment); and though
I trust I may lay claim to as much willingness to be convinced, as most
men who have suffered and reflected, I have not seen a single argument
which did not appear to me fully answered by the above objection alone
(about the "honour"); setting aside the innumerable convincing ones
urged by reasoners on the other side: for as to any dearth of statesmen
in a country like this, it never existed, nor ever can, till education
and public spirit have entirely left it. There have been the same
complaints at every change in the history of administrations; and the
crop has never failed.

Allow me to state here, that any appearance of personality in this book
is involuntary. Public principles are sometimes incarnate in individual
shapes; and, in attacking them, the individual may be seemingly
attacked, where, to eyes which look a little closer, there is evidently
no such intention. I have been obliged to identify, in some measure, the
Power of the Sword with several successive individuals, and with the
Duke of Wellington most, because he is the reigning shape, and includes
all its pretensions. But as an individual who am nothing, except in
connexion with what I humanly feel, I dare to affirm, that I have not
only the consideration that becomes me for all human beings, but a
flesh and blood regard for every body; and that I as truly respect in
the Noble Duke the possession of military science, of a straight-forward
sincerity, and a valour of which no circumstances or years can diminish
the ready firmness, as I doubt the fitness of a man of his education,
habits, and political principles, for the guidance of an intellectual

I dislike Toryism, because I think it an unjust, exacting, and
pernicious thing, which tends to keep the interests of the many in
perpetual subjection to those of the few; but far be it from me, in
common modesty, to dislike those who have been brought up in its
principles, and taught to think them good,--far less such of them as
adorn it by intellectual or moral qualities, and who justly claim for
it, under its best aspect in private life, that ease and urbanity of
behaviour which implies an acknowledgment of its claims to respect,
even where those claims are partly grounded in prejudice. I heartily
grant to the privileged classes, that, enjoying in many respects the
best educations, they have been conservators of polished manners, and of
the other graces of intercourse. My quarrel with them is, that the
inferior part of their education induces them to wish to keep these
manners and graces to themselves, together with a superabundance, good
for nobody, of all other advantages; and that thus, instead of being the
preservers of a beautiful and genial flame, good for all, and in due
season partakeable by all, they would hoard and make an idolatrous
treasure of it, sacred to one class alone, and such as the diffusion of
knowledge renders it alike useless and exasperating to endeavour to

I will conclude this Postscript with quotations from three writers of
the present day, who may be fairly taken to represent the three
distinct classes of the leaders of knowledge, and who will show what is
thought of the feasibility of putting an end to war,--the Utilitarian,
or those who are all for the tangible and material--the Metaphysical, or
those who recognize, in addition, the spiritual and imaginative wants of
mankind--and lastly (in no offensive sense), the Men of the World, whose
opinion will have the greatest weight of all with the incredulous, and
whose speaker is a soldier to boot, and a man who evidently sees fair
play to all the weaknesses as well as strengths of our nature.

The first quotation is from the venerable Mr Bentham, a man who
certainly lost sight of no existing or possible phase of society, such
as the ordinary disputants on this subject contemplate. I venture to
think him not thoroughly philosophical on the point, especially in what
he says in reproach of men educated to think differently from himself.
But the passage will show the growth of opinion in a practical and
highly influential quarter.

          "Nothing can be worse," says Mr Bentham, "than the
          general feeling on the subject of war. The Church,
          the State, the ruling few, the subject many, all
          seem to have combined, in order to patronise vice
          and crime in their very widest sphere of evil.
          Dress a man in particular garments, call him by a
          particular name, and he shall have authority, on
          divers occasions, to commit every species of
          offence, to pillage, to murder, to destroy human
          felicity, and, for so doing, he shall be rewarded.

          "Of all that is pernicious in admiration, the
          admiration of heroes is the most pernicious; and
          how delusion should have made us admire what
          virtue should teach us to hate and loathe, is
          among the saddest evidences of human weakness and
          folly. The crimes of heroes seem lost in the
          vastness of the field they occupy. A lively idea
          of the mischief they do, of the misery they
          create, seldom penetrates the mind through the
          delusions with which thoughtlessness and falsehood
          have surrounded their names and deeds. Is it that
          the magnitude of the evil is too gigantic for
          entrance? We read of twenty thousand men killed in
          a battle, with no other feeling than that 'it was
          a glorious victory.' Twenty thousand, or ten
          thousand, what reck we of their sufferings? The
          hosts who perished are evidence of the
          completeness of the triumph; and the completeness
          of the triumph is the measure of merit, and the
          glory of the conqueror. Our schoolmasters, and the
          immoral books they so often put into our hands,
          have inspired us with an affection for heroes; and
          the hero is more heroic in proportion to the
          numbers of the slain--add a cypher, not one iota
          is added to our disapprobation. Four or two
          figures give us no more sentiment of pain than one
          figure, while they add marvellously to the
          grandeur and splendour of the victor. Let us draw
          forth one individual from those thousands, or tens
          of thousands,--his leg has been shivered by one
          ball, his jaw broken by another--he is bathed in
          his own blood, and that of his fellows--yet he
          lives, tortured by thirst, fainting, famishing. He
          is but one of the twenty thousand--one of the
          actors and sufferers in the scene of the hero's
          glory--and of the twenty thousand there is
          scarcely one whose suffering or death will not be
          the centre of a circle of misery. Look again,
          admirers of that hero! Is not this wretchedness?
          Because it is repeated ten, ten hundred, ten
          thousand times, is not this wretchedness?

          "The period will assuredly arrive, when better
          instructed generations will require all the
          evidence of history to credit, that, in times
          deeming themselves enlightened, human beings
          should have been honoured with public approval, in
          the very proportion of the misery they caused, and
          the mischiefs they perpetrated. They will call
          upon all the testimony which incredulity can
          require, to persuade them that, in passed ages,
          men there were--men, too, deemed worthy of popular
          recompense--who, for some small pecuniary
          retribution, hired themselves out to do any deeds
          of pillage, devastation, and murder, which might
          be demanded of them. And, still more will it shock
          their sensibilities to learn, that such men, such
          men-destroyers, were marked out as the eminent and
          the illustrious--as the worthy of laurels and
          monuments--of eloquence and poetry. In that better
          and happier epoch, the wise and the good will be
          busied in hurling into oblivion, or dragging forth
          for exposure to universal ignominy and obloquy,
          many of the heads we deem _heroic_; while the true
          fame and the perdurable glories will be gathered
          around the creators and diffusers of

Our second quotation is from one of the subtilest and most universal
thinkers now living--Thomas Carlyle--chiefly known to the public as a
German scholar and the friend of Goethe, but deeply respected by other
leading intellects of the day, as a man who sees into the utmost
recognized possibilities of knowledge. See what he thinks of war, and of
the possibility of putting an end to it. We forget whether we got the
extract from the _Edinburgh_ or the _Foreign Quarterly Review_, having
made it sometime back and mislaid the reference; and we take a liberty
with him in mentioning his name as the writer, for which his zeal in the
cause of mankind will assuredly pardon us.

          "The better minds of all countries," observes Mr
          Carlyle, "begin to understand each other, and,
          which follows naturally, to love each other and
          help each other, by whom ultimately all countries
          in all their proceedings are governed.

          "Late in man's history, yet clearly, at length, it
          becomes manifest to the dullest, that mind is
          stronger than matter--that mind is the creator and
          shaper of matter--that not brute force, but only
          persuasion and faith, is the King of this world.
          The true poet, who is but an inspired thinker, is
          still an Orpheus whose lyre tames the savage
          beasts, and evokes the dead rocks to fashion
          themselves into palaces and stately inhabited
          cities. It has been said, and may be repeated,
          that literature is fast becoming all in all to
          us--our Church, our Senate, our whole social
          constitution. The true Pope of Christendom is not
          that feeble old man in Rome, nor is its autocrat
          the Napoleon, the Nicholas, with its half million
          even of obedient bayonets; such autocrat is
          himself but a more cunningly-devised bayonet and
          military engine in the hands of a mightier than
          he. The true autocrat, or Pope, is that man, the
          real or seeming wisest of the last age; crowned
          after death; who finds his hierarchy of gifted
          authors, his clergy of assiduous journalists:
          whose decretals, written, not on parchment, but on
          the living souls of men, it were an inversion of
          the laws of nature to disobey. In these times of
          ours, all intellect has fused itself into
          literature; literature--printed thought, is the
          molten sea and wonder-bearing chaos, in which mind
          after mind casts forth its opinion, its feeling,
          to be molten into the general mass, and to be
          worked there; interest after interest is engulfed
          in it, or embarked in it; higher, higher it rises
          round all the edifices of existence; they must all
          be molten into it, and anew bodied forth from it,
          or stand unconsumed among its fiery surges. Woe to
          him whose edifice is not built of true asbest, and
          on the everlasting rock, but on the false sand and
          the drift-wood of accident, and the paper and
          parchment of antiquated habit! For the power or
          powers exist not on our earth that can say to that
          sea--roll back, or bid its proud waves be still.

          "What form so omnipotent an element will
          assume--how long it will welter to and fro as a
          wild democracy, a wilder anarchy--what
          constitution and organization it will fashion for
          itself, and for what depends on it in the depths
          of time, is a subject for prophetic conjecture,
          wherein brightest hope is not unmingled with
          fearful apprehensions and awe at the boundless
          unknown. The more cheering is this one thing,
          which we do see and know--that its tendency is to
          a universal European commonweal; that the wisest
          in all nations will communicate and co-operate;
          whereby Europe will again have its true Sacred
          College and council of Amphictyons; wars will
          become rarer, less inhuman; and in the course of
          centuries, such delirious ferocity in nations, as
          in individuals it already is, may be proscribed
          and become obsolete for ever."

My last and not least conclusive extract (for it shows the actual hold
which these speculations have taken of the minds of practical men--of
men out in the world, and even of _soldiers_) is from a book popular
among all classes of readers--the _Bubbles from the Brunnens of Nassau_,
written by Major Sir Francis Head. What he says of one country's
educating another, by the natural progress of books and opinion, and of
the effect which this is likely to have upon governments even as remote
and unwilling as Russia, is particularly worthy of attention.

The author is speaking of some bathers at whom he had been looking, and
of a Russian Prince, who lets us into some curious information
respecting the leading-strings in which grown gentlemen are kept by

          "For more than half an hour I had been indolently
          watching this amphibious scene, when the landlord
          entering my room said, that the Russian Prince,
          G----n, wished to speak to me on some business;
          and the information was scarcely communicated,
          when I perceived his Highness standing at the
          threshold of my door. With the attention due to
          his rank, I instantly begged he would do me the
          honour to walk in; and, after we had sufficiently
          bowed to each other, and that I had prevailed on
          my guest to sit down, I gravely requested him, as
          I stood before him, to be so good as to state in
          what way I could have the good fortune to render
          him any service. The Prince very briefly replied,
          that he had called upon me, considering that I was
          the person in the hotel best capable (he politely
          inclined his head) of informing him by what route
          it would be most adviseable for him to proceed to
          London, it being his wish to visit my country.

          "In order at once to solve this very simple
          problem, I silently unfolded and spread out upon
          the table my map of Europe; and each of us, as we
          leant over it, placing a forefinger on or near
          Wiesbaden (our eyes being fixed upon Dover), we
          remained in this reflecting attitude for some
          seconds, until the Prince's finger first solemnly
          began to trace its route. In doing this, I
          observed that his Highness's hand kept swerving
          far into the Netherlands, so, gently pulling it by
          the thumb towards Paris, I used as much force as I
          thought decorous, to induce it to advance in a
          straight line; however, finding my efforts
          ineffectual, I ventured with respectful
          astonishment, to ask, 'Why travel by so
          uninteresting a route'?

          "The Prince at once acknowledged that the route I
          had recommended would, by visiting Paris, afford
          him the greatest pleasure; but he frankly told me
          that no Russian, not even a personage of his rank,
          could enter that capital, without first obtaining
          a written permission from the Emperor.

          "These words were no sooner uttered, than I felt
          my fluent civility suddenly begin to coagulate;
          the attention I paid my guest became forced and
          unnatural. I was no longer at my ease; and though
          I bowed, strained, and endeavoured to be, if
          possible, more respectful than ever, yet I really
          could hardly prevent my lips from muttering aloud,
          that I had sooner die a homely English peasant
          than live to be a Russian prince!--in short, his
          Highness's words acted upon my mind like thunder
          upon beer. And, moreover, I could almost have
          sworn that I was an old lean wolf, contemptuously
          observing a bald ring rubbed by the collar, from
          the neck of a sleek, well-fed mastiff dog;
          however, recovering myself, I managed to give as
          much information as it was in my humble power to
          afford; and my noble guest then taking his
          departure, I returned to my open window, to give
          vent in solitude (as I gazed upon the horse bath)
          to my own reflection upon the subject.

          "Although the petty rule of my life has been never
          to trouble myself about what the world calls
          'politics'--(a fine word, by the by, much easier
          expressed than understood)--yet, I must own, I am
          always happy when I see a nation enjoying itself,
          and melancholy when I observe any large body of
          people suffering pain or imprisonment. But of all
          sorts of imprisonment, that of the mind is, to my
          taste, the most cruel; and, therefore, when I
          consider over what immense dominions the Emperor
          of Russia presides, and how he governs, I cannot
          help sympathizing most sincerely with those
          innocent sufferers, who have the misfortune to be
          born his subjects; for if a Russian Prince be not
          freely permitted to go to Paris, in what a
          melancholy state of slavery and debasement must
          exist the minds of what we call the lower classes?

          "As a sovereign remedy for this lamentable
          political disorder, many very sensible people in
          England prescribe, I know, that we ought to have
          resource to arms. I must confess, however, it
          seems to me that one of the greatest political
          errors England could commit would be to declare,
          or to join in declaring, war with Russia; in
          short, that an appeal to brute force would, at
          this moment, be at once most unscientifically to
          stop an immense moral engine, which, if left to
          its work, is quite powerful enough, without
          bloodshed, to gain for humanity, at no expense at
          all, its object. The individual who is, I
          conceive, to overthrow the Emperor of Russia--who
          is to direct his own legions against himself--who
          is to do what Napoleon had at the head of his
          great army failed to effect, is the little child,
          who, lighted by the single wick of a small lamp,
          sits at this moment perched above the great steam
          press of the 'Penny Magazine,' feeding it, from
          morning till night, with blank papers, which, at
          almost every pulsation of the engine, comes out
          stamped on both sides with engravings, and with
          pages of plain, useful, harmless knowledge, which,
          by making the lower orders acquainted with foreign
          lands, foreign productions, various states of
          society, &c., tend practically to inculcate 'Glory
          to God in the highest, and on earth peace--good
          will towards men.' It has already been stated,
          that what proceeds from this press is now
          greedily devoured by the people of Europe; indeed,
          even at Berlin, we know it can hardly be reprinted
          fast enough.

          "This child, then,--'this sweet little cherub that
          sits up aloft,'--is the only army that an
          enlightened country like ours should, I humbly
          think, deign to oppose to one who reigns in
          darkness--who trembles at day-light, and whose
          throne rests upon ignorance and despotism. Compare
          this mild, peaceful intellectual policy, with the
          dreadful, savage alternative of going to war, and
          the difference must surely be evident to everyone.
          In the former case, we calmly enjoy, first of all,
          the pleasing reflection, that our country is
          generously imparting to the nations of Europe the
          blessing she is tranquilly deriving from the
          purification of civilization to her own mind;--far
          from wishing to exterminate, we are gradually
          illuminating the Russian peasant, we are mildly
          throwing a gleam of light upon the fetters of the
          Russian Prince; and surely every well-disposed
          person must see, that if we will only have
          patience, the result of this noble, temperate
          conduct, must produce all that reasonable beings
          can desire."--_Bubbles from the Brunnens of
          Nassau_, p. 164.

By the 'Penny Magazine,' our author means, of course, not only that
excellent publication, but all cheaply-diffused knowledge--all the
tranquil and enlightening deeds of "Captain Pen" in general--of whom it
is pleasant to see the gallant Major so useful a servant, the more so
from his sympathies with rank and the aristocracy. But "Pen" will make
it a matter of necessity, by and by, for all ranks to agree with him, in
vindication of their own wit and common sense; and when once this
necessity is felt, and fastidiousness shall find out that it will be
considered "absurd" to lag behind in the career of knowledge and the
common good, the cause of the world is secure.

May princes and people alike find it out by the kindliest means, and
without further violence. May they discover that no one set of human
beings, perhaps no single individual, can be thoroughly secure and
content, or enabled to work out his case with equal reasonableness,
_till all are so_,--a subject for reflection, which contains, we hope,
the beneficent reason _why all are restless_. The solution of the
problem is co-operation--the means of solving it is the Press. If the
Greeks had had a press, we should probably have heard nothing of the
inconsiderate question, which demands, why they, with all their
philosophy, did not alter the world. They had not the means. They could
not command a general hearing. Neither had Christianity come up, to
make men think of one another's wants, as well as of their own
accomplishments. Modern times possess those means, and inherit that
divine incitement. May every man exert himself accordingly, and show
himself a worthy inhabitant of this beautiful and most capable world!


          Printed by C. and W. REYNELL,
          Little Pulteney Street.

[Illustration: _P. 112._]

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note: On page 67, a quote begins but has no end that this
transcriber can find. It was retained as printed. ("Try a reasonable

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