King's College London
Online Exhibitions
Byron & politics: ‘born for opposition’

20. Don Juan, Canto IX, stanza 4

NLS ABS.1.86.121

This stanza directly addresses the Duke of Wellington, then much celebrated in Britain as the victor over Napoleon, but whom Byron denigrated as a defender of the old monarchies.

You are ‘the best of cut-throats:’ do not start;
The phrase is Shakespeare’s and not misapplied: –
War’s a brain-spattering, windpipe-slitting art,
Unless her cause by Right be sanctified.
If you have acted once a generous part,
The World, not the World’s masters, will decide,
And I shall be delighted to learn who,
Save you and yours, have gained by Waterloo?

In this exhibition


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