19th Century

Man of Titles Won with Blood: A Poem on the Duke of Wellington (1835) | Charles Cole

The following poem was written by the radical poet, Charles Cole, in 1835 and printed in A Poetical Address to his Grace the Duke of Wellington.[1] According to Cole, the Duke may have been a hero at Waterloo, but as a politician he was nothing to be proud of.

The Battle of Waterloo

Man of titles—won with blood

Warrior–Victor–who hast stood

Smiling o’er the crimson flood.

Known as battle’s dreadful lord,

Coldly temper’d as thy sword;

Rest thee, peace hath been restor’d!

Rest thee—gallant war-hound—rest,

For thee a long repose were best,

Thy couch should be the Phoenix nest.

For, though battle’s rage is o’er,

Still thou’rt he who, heretofore,

Led the fight on India’s shore.

How the murder’d people fell,

Hunted by the dogs of hell;

Let the stain’d Mulpurbu tell.

God! ’tis like an hideous dream;

Man’s deep groan and woman’s scream,

Bubbling through their native stream.

No escape—fierce bayonets shine

Along the shore—a dreadful line;

Wellesley, the deed was thine!

And the cruel boast went round,

Meek-ey’d Mercy! what a sound:

Lo! five thousand souls were drown’d!

Heed, not souls in arms were they,

Men, who fled the battle’s fray;

But people — mark’d the warrior’s prey.

Old age — the mother and the child,

The vicious and the undefil’d,

In one cold heap of murder pil’d!

Lives the heart, that does not feel,

Through ev’ry pulse a coldness steal,

While such horrors words reveal?

Nom and all remember well,

By whose sword the people fell.

Shall he govern? – Briton tell?

Mark — the people there were slain:

Mind — a people here remain,

Shall he wet his scythe again?

Hark! I hear it whisper’d, “those

Who thus have died were Britain’s foes.”

Wherefore? Tell me who knows?

In Reason’s glorious diadem,

Truth bath plac’d the brightest gem,

We, then, we were foes to them.

Not, alas! to them alone,

Scatter’d round, from zone to zone,

View the wreck of Freedom’s throne.

Calmer hours and thoughts succeed,

Britons blush for many a deed;

Why should Man for Tyrant bleed?

Or, answer, shall a Tyrant’s tool,

Bred in War’s terrific school,

O’er a free-born nation rule?

He, whose hounds were better fed,

Than the daring hearts he led,

Through hostile paths to gory bed.

He who tells us—thought abhorr’d—

Erin, conquer’d by the sword,

Should so be rul’d—puissant lord.

He who led the hireling host,

O’er prostrate Freedom, at the cost

Of those who, madly laughing, lost.

Let this simple question go,

“Shall the Warrior govern?” lo,

Earth and Heaven re-echoes “No!”

Oh! Prince of Battle, who dost still

Stand forth to champion ev’ry ill;

How seald thy doom, if scorn could kill .

Thou who but late so well wert known

Unto thyself wert selfly shown,

Unfit to dictate to the throne.

Whence come the lessons thou hast learn’d,

Which suits thee to the task thou’st spurn’d,

Or is thy brain more sadly turn’d?

Say, doth the Moon’s pale influence steal

Away thy sense, in truth reveal,

Or must the answer come from Peel?

From him who hath entwin’d his fame

With that of a detested name!

The wretch, Canosa—Naples’ shame!

A moment, I suspend all bate

To laugh — first Minister of Fate

Thou can’st not, must not, legislate!

No, by the shades of all thy slain,

Thou must not legislate again;

Essay’d thou hast, heaven knows in vain.

Hast rul’d the people into storm,

Refusing to their hearts Reform,

Till ev’ry breast with rage grew warm.

Since when have schoolmen been abroad,

And taught us to despise thy sword,

Go, sheathe it, iron -hearted lord!

For, notwithstanding thy vain boast

Of quiet in ten days at most,

The waves still circle Albion’s coast;

And we the children of the waves,

Will never sink a chieftain’s slaves;

No, rather gives us early graves!

While Freedom lingers in the mind,

Not Autocrat nor Despot join’d,

Shall servile chains upon us bind:

And, thou their staunchest bloodhound, thou,

Of stubborn heart and stirless brow,

Before thy Masters’ lords shalt bow,

Shal sink into thyself again,

And send these tidings o’er the main,

That even Napoleon died in vain.

That Freedom in her march sublime,

By Reason lur’d, and led by Time,

Is stealing on our northern clime;

That threat and promise is the same

From thee- from all who stoop to shame,

And Faction a detested name.

That Tyranny is quite abhor’d—

That homage to a senseless Jord

Hath ceas’d, and cannot be restorr’d.

And, let the “Holy Allied” know,

That he who once hath aim’d a blow

At Liberty, is mark’d her foe;

And , tell the Fiend who crush’d the Pole,

The Briton still hath nurs’d his soul

Too proudly to endure controul:

And, ever jealous of his right,

His Liberty – his whole delight ,

Will yet defend with all his might ;

Will , with a power unknown to thee,

Assert and keep that Liberty ;

Can’st meet us Arthur mentally ?

No, thou art only havoc’s lord ,

Thy trust is solely in thy sword,

Rest, and as Warrior be ador’d .

As Statesman , all who know thee hate,

Though nerv’d to guide the ranks of fate,

Thou hast not brain to legislate.

Thou hast not, as Napoleon had,

The soul to make a nation glad,

Dost think thou hast? if so, how mad!

And had’st thou, dost suppose that we

Are sunk to that abhorr’d degree

Of national depravity

As to accept at hands like thine

The richest boons? No, by the shrine

Of Truth- by all that is divine!

By our just pride, the British name,

By our forefathers’ honest fame,

By Liberty’s undying flame

We loathe the vile apostate, spurn

The mean in soul, and from them turn,

Till nobler lessons they shall learn.

On, and our triumph is achiev’d,

But, mark! and be these words believ’d,

Who trusts a Foe should be deceiv’d.

[1] Charles Cole, A Poetical Address to his Grace the Duke of Wellington (London, 1835), pp.1–8.