What has happened to the England of old and where is our savior?

Wordsworth presents as someone who is unhappy about the character of contemporary England and is wallowing in his memories of how great England used to be. In the first octave he is worried that the country has forgotten its past successes, and lost pride in what used to make it great. Wordsworth is concerned about the country’s loss of traditional values and strengths that once made the country so great. He certainly loves his country, but is worried by what he sees happening to his countrymen, from both moral and cultural perspectives. In lines 3-4 there are several symbols of England’s past glories. “Altar” represents the English church, and “fireside” stands in for the security and pride once felt in England during their reign of power. We also have “sword” representing the British military, and “pen” indicating the entire English literary tradition. He longs for days past, when Englishmen were free, courteous, accomplished, and powerful, however, he believes those days are long gone. In the sestet Wordsworth points out that the people of England need a savior to step up and inspire them to greatness once more. That savior comes in the form of poet John Milton but unfortunately he’s dead. In line 7, Wordsworth speaks to Milton, begging him to return from the dead and help England find itself again. He attributes an almost divine quality to Milton, who he describes as both a poetic and moral force. In line 9 he uses a simile to compare Milton to a star who shone brighter than the all the rest. He abandons his attack on England, and perhaps grows a little giddy in his praise of Milton. He ends the poem with praise of Milton’s greatness, and he doesn’t return to the initial theme of England’s decline. The moral at the end of the story points to the fact that we {England} should strive to be more like Milton in our character and our work.

Can Milton save England from itself?

William Wordsworth’s 19th century sonnet London, 1802 depicts an address to the soul of the deceased 17th century poet “Milton.”  Being a Petrarchan sonnet, the poem is divided into an octave and a sestet.  The speaker is speaking to Milton’s soul in the octave by exemplifying all of the problems going on at the time in England.  Line 3 of the poem “Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen, Fireside…” lists further illustrates how these issues of religion, the military, literature, and the home have become complacent and stagnant all the while violating this virtue of “inward happiness.”  This cry for help is perhaps a reference to the glory days of “ancient English dower” in which Milton justified the ways of god to men.

In the sestet, England has become lost in it’s own sorrow and the speaker is calling out to Milton as a savior.  He describes Milton as a unique and bright soul (line 9) and claims that the virtues that Milton possessed are what can save England.  By asking for “manners, virtue, freedom, power,” the speaker is depicting exactly what has made England lose touch with reality and how Milton can provide all of these solutions to England’s identity problem.  Wordsworth’s nationalistic views also come to fruition through this sonnet, as one can come to the conclusion that William is trying to invoke the work of Milton to enhance the society he lived in at the time.  Milton’s power and influential voice (line 10-11) and the ability to possess a moral purity yet steady humility is exactly what was inadequate in those around Wordsworth in 19th century England.  Wordsworth is not as much summoning a resurrection of Milton himself but instead the ideas and traits that he possessed, so as to be able to use them himself to save his country from mediocrity.

Do You Hear The People Sing?

In Shelley’s England in 1819, he seems to discuss a tempestuous (word choice intended) time in England. He begins with a sestet where he discusses the insanity of their king, George III, and the selfishness of the other rulers. He writes, “Rulers who neither see nor feel nor know, But leechlike to their fainting country cling Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow” (lines 4-6). It is clear the distaste the Shelley has for the leaders of England. He refers to them as selfish men who “leech” off of their country for their own gain.

In the second half of the poem, Shelley uses an octave form in which he discusses the further wretchedness of England. In lines 7 and 8 he tells of an event when the army murdered individuals partaking in a peaceful protest, of which the footnotes referred to it as the Peterloo Massacre. In line 10, he says, “Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay,” which means that the laws favor the rich and enslain the poor. In lines 11 and 12, he wraps up his summary of the state of England by pointing out the corruptness of the church and of parliament.

Shelley makes the disfavor he, and assumedly the rest of the common people, have for those ruling England. He spends the majority of the poem outlining the issues with beautiful and captivating narrative. In the last two lines, he uses a rhyming couplet to present the result of the continued despotism of the leadership. He states, “Are graves from which a glorious Phantom may Burst, to illumine our tempestuous day” (lines 13-14). He believes that a revolt is necessary to end the reign of what he implies to be an oligarchy. What is interesting to me is that he does not see a revolution as a bad solution to problem, but as a wonderful one. He compares it to the sun coming out after a severe storm. I would think that most people would see a revolt as a last resort and not something that is beautiful. Why would he desire to see more innocent blood shed? Based on the year, I assume he has the French Revolution in the back of his mind. While it was successful in abolishing the monarchy, many people died (approximately 50,000 I think?). Maybe he thinks that England could have a “classier” revolution than the French and less blood would be shed? Or maybe he thinks that the cost is great; but that the overall state of being and future of England is worth more than any number of lives that may be lost. Maybe the people are living in such a wretched state that they would rather die for something they believe in rather than live a miserable life. As I am an avid fan of the musical theatre, I am going to take this opportunity (that I purposefully made for myself) to quote Les Miserables: “Will you give all you can give so that our banner may advance? Some will fall and some will live, will you stand up and take your chance? The blood of the martyrs will water the meadows of France!” Shelley knows that it may require blood to grow the flowers of freedom, but the result is worth more than those lives that will be lost.

Where are you Milton? Where are you England?

In Wordsworth’s “London, 1802” the speaker of the poem invokes the late Milton to save the stagnant and selfish place that England has become. Line 1 begins with a cry to “Milton! thou should’st be living at this hour”, suggesting the dire state of the speaker’s request. In the octave, Wordsworth paints the problem of a corrupt England which to Milton must return by listing the immoralities governing the current era. The speaker makes reference to the ruined institutions of religion, literature, military, and the home saying that  “Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen// Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower” (Lines 4-3) have been ridded of “inward happiness” (Line 6). Wordsworth’s obvious solution to the degenerated era of England in “hath need of thee [Milton]” (Line 2)  is to bring back the ideals of “manners, virtue, freedom, [and] power” (Line 8) that he clearly believes the works of Milton and the England of his day encompassed.

Wordsworth makes his affections and admiration of Milton clearly known in the sestet by describing his “soul was like a Star, and dwealt apart” (Line 9). It is clear that the speaker believes the England of Milton’s day was much different and unlike the present London of 1802. He distinguishes Milton’s excellence further by describing how his “voice whose wound was like the sea: / Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free” (Lines 10-11). We can assume that the speaker believes that Milton invoked a sense of purity and morality through his work which reflected in the England of his time. It is clear that the speaker wishes that this same morality and “set-apartness” be brought to the “stagnant” (Line 3) England in his commands or pleads to Milton to “raise us up, return to us again” (Line 7). In this reflection, we see a sense of begging for old times, and for the aid of Milton. Through this, we are able to see the desperation with which the speaker cries upon Milton as evidence of just how stagnant England has become. In this way, the speaker is requesting and hoping that Milton would be the “savior” of England and revive the goodness and morality that it once stood for.

It is through this ethical impulse that we see the frustration of the speaker and the Wordworth’s ideal vision of life in a revived England. Rather than Milton himself coming back from the dead, I believe the speaker is using the imagery and reference to Milton to influence the people of England to realize that they have become stagnant, to invoke a drive in them to change their ways and to implement the ethical ideals Milton stood for.

How is England functioning without Milton?

Wordsworth’s London, 1802 poem is composed of an octave and a sestet describing England’s cry for change. In the octave the main problem he lays out is that England has become selfish and is too caught up in power to care about “manners, virtue, and freedom” (line 8). England is in desperate need of Milton to give them those qualities back. The poem opens up crying for Milton, “Milton! Thou should’st be living at this hour” (line 1). The author wishes for Milton to be living again and lists symbols to characterize attributes that England is currently failing at. These symbols include: “altar, sword, and pen” (line 3). The altar symbolizes the lack of religion, the sword represents battle, and the pen defines the absence of education and intelligence. These symbols paint an unhealthy and poor environment for the English making England feel motionless as if they were in “stagnant waters” (line 3).  England natives are not happy and continue to long for Milton, “raise us up, return to us again” (line 7). So what solution does Wordsworth propose to this?

In the sestet, Wordsworth describes Milton’s character and proposes that Milton could be the one to improve the English setting due to his outstanding qualities. He says, “thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart: thou had a voice whose sound was like the sea” (lines 9-10) implying that Milton was a perfect, humble human being who could easily bring peace into the world, a trait England was lacking. Milton traveled through life “in cheerful godliness” (line 13) taking care of the “the lowliest duties” (line 14). He was portrayed as as a selfless man and an individual that always carried a positive attitude remaining happy in all he was asked to do. The reader can see that Milton’s qualities were not present in the English and were in desperate need of help, wondering how well was England able to function without Milton during this time period?

Nineteenth Century England – Salvageable?

After reading Wordsworth’s London, 1802 and Shelley’s England in 1819, it seems that England’s biggest problem in the early nineteenth century was its leadership. Because of England’s poor leadership with it’s king, King George III, several other issues arose in England.

Shelley and Wordsworth describe this issue of leadership in very different manners in their poems. Wordsworth desperately call for the return of John Milton to help salvage the dying country: “Milton! Thou shouldst be living at this hour: England hath need of thee” (lines 1-2). Wordsworth notes how several institutions, the altar (religion), the sword (military), and pen (literature), have degraded since Milton’s death. Wordsworth believes that Milton would restore “manners, virtue, freedom, power” (line 8) to England.

Shelley’s poem focuses more on the specific issues plaguing the early nineteenth century England. Shelley describes King George as “an old, mad, blind, despised, and dying King” (line 1). Shelley describes the citizen of England as “a people starved and stabbed in th’ untilled field” (line 7). Shelley elaborates, describing England’s army “whom liberticide and prey makes as a two-edged sword to all who wield” (lines 8-9).

Is Milton Wordsworth’s Virgil?

In Wordsworth’s poem London, 1802, Wordsworth calls out to Milton to save them from the “stagnant waters” that England has found herself in (line 3). It can be assumed that Milton refers to John Milton, the writer of Paradise Lost. It is not uncommon for writers to reference other literary figures in their works, just like Virgil in Dante’s Inferno. However, Wordsworth does not need a guide through Hell but rather a savior from the war. During the late 1700’s and Early 1800’s England and France were fighting against each other, again. With so much bloodshed and emphasis on beating Napoleon, England found herself at a standstill.

This war has left England as a “fen or stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen” (lines 2-3). Any progress in religion, England’s strength or the government has been halted by the focus on the war. According to our textbook The British Literature a Historical Overview volume B by Joseph Black et al, “the Revolution’s promise of freedom died in a frenzy or oppression destruction, violence, […] and many of Britain’s intellectuals watched in horror, gradually turning from bold liberalism to a cautious conservatism” (page 15). This war has caused men to fall and become selfish. Intellectuals became conservative because they deemed it practical for the time. Without bold liberalists and a call for change, England will be at a stalemate, or as Wordsworth stated, “a fen of stagnant waters” (line 2-3).

Because of this, Wordsworth’s solution is to call on Milton, exclaiming that he “shoud’st be living at this hour [….] and give us manners, virtue, freedom, power” (lines 1, 8). Milton had radical ideas and called for change in his literary pieces, which is what England needs again to escape this intellectual standstill. As Virgil appeared like an angelic being, Milton is described to be as “pure as the naked heavens, majestic, and free” (line 11). Milton will “raise [England] up” (line 7) and lead England out of this dark period where “inward happiness” (line 6) has been forfeited, just as Virgil lead Dante safely through the various levels of Hell.

Is there a problem in London in 1802, and is there a plan to fix it?

Wordsworth’s poem London, 1802 octave involves the narrator talking of a diseased man, “Milton”. The narrator lays out to Milton that England is in essence, in shambles, stating “stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen, fireside” (3-4). Wordsworth is mentioning that England’s religions, army, literature, and lastly homesteads are in very vulnerable states and vents to Milton about it, wishing he were back on Earth to help.

The narrator feels that Milton is the cure to the “selfish men” (6). Stating that Milton would be able to teach society values like “manners, virtue, freedom, [and] power”, aspects that Milton possessed himself during his time on Earth (8). Milton is a man who is as influential as “the sea”, comparing the power and respect that he would posses in the eyes of the people of England in 1802, to the power the seas have and the respect they require from people (10).

Wordsworth basically describes Milton as the “keystone” feature in changing all the aspects of England that are in turmoil at the time and need fixing, but the narrator knows that it is impossible for Milton to return. With that knowledge of Milton having passed, he is remembering Milton and his key values, and acknowledging that the people of England need to gain his attributes in order for England to power through their tough times that are seen in all aspects of England’s society in the year 1802.

Why is Shelley shaking things up?

In England in 1819, Shelley forgoes the traditional sonnet structure optioning instead for a reversal of the norm: but why? Perhaps he’s trying to stand out from the crowd for being different. Perhaps he’s trying to be edgy. OR perhaps he’s depicting the current breakdown in British society and calling for an upheaval.

In the initial sestet, Shelley describes the corruption and chaos of the royal family. The King is “old, mad, blind, despised and dying” (line 1) while the princes, or “dregs,” (line 2) are nothing but leeches clinging to “their fainting country” (line 5). Clearly, this doesn’t seem like the ideal situation for the rulers of a country. The ruling class seem to neither care nor know about the current events choosing to continue their lavish lifestyle despite “public scorn” (line 3). After reading through the first few lines, the reader begins to understand why Shelley flips the order of the sonnet: England is in shambles and the rulers couldn’t care less.

Meanwhile, the following octave paints a bleak picture of the British lay-people. The citizens have been “starved and stabbed,” (line 7) the army is out of control, laws have become “golden and sanguine” (line 10), and religion is “Christless, Godless” (line 11). It seems as if Britain has been turned upside-down, as the poem structure indicates, and Shelley has had enough. He sees hope in the future! Perhaps from the graves of the current sufferers “a glorious Phantom may burst” to save them from their tragic situation (line 13-14).

Shelley’s “Phantom” is not a friendly ghost that will miraculously save Britain. No! It’s a metaphor for revolution! A call to follow the lead of the French! To raise the pitchforks and grab the torches! Just as the poem structure has been flipped, the lay-people must take matters into their own hands and flip the structure of British society. Shelley’s subtle shake-up calls for an action more than subtle: a transformation of British society just like Shelley’s transformation of the traditional sonnet.

Is There Hope for the Prey?

Though “England in 1918” is considered a Petrarchan sonnet, Shelly strays from the typical organization and instead starts the poem with a sestet and does not include the problem-solution aspect between the octave and sestet. He strays further and ends the poem in the format of a Shakespearean sonnet with couplets. Each different aspect of the poem differentiate between different ideas and points that all tie together to reinforce his response. Utilizing structure, Shelly presents his response to the great divide between the common people and ruling and military class in England.

In the first 6 lines (the sestet), Shelly describes the government by first depicting the king, George III, as “old, mad, blind, despised, and dying” (Line 1). Furthermore, Shelly slanders the “rulers who neither see nor feel nor know” who take from the “fainting country” (line 4, 5). There is a divide between the common people and ruling class. The commoners are described as fainting while the rulers are not, but the rulers are instead described as scorned by the “public” (line 2).

In the next 4 lines (octave), Shelly discusses the bloodshed within a country with “people starved” (line 7). Shelly describes the army as “liberticide[s]” and as a preying “two-edged sword” (line 8). Beyond killing their fellow countrymen, they seek to destroy their liberties. The army is even describe as preying on these men. As predator and prey, the army and common man are not even equal. One is there to satisfy the hunger or need of the other.

Line 11 and 12 is the example of Shelly’s usage of Shakespearean couplet and here describes the senate as “Christless, Godless” (line 11). Describing them as “Christless” and “Godless” illustrates the difference among the common people and rulers and their ideas. The terms imply that there are people with God and people without God. There are only two sides of the fight.

With the usage of Shakespearean couplet in the last lines Shelly offers hope and possible solution. He hopes for “graves from which a glorious Phantom may burst, to illumine our tempestuous day” (line 13 and 14). Here he could be illuminate to the idea of a person rising up and leading the common people or a person making a difference within the senate or ruling class. However, Shelly uses the term “phantom” which implies not something physical but more abstract. Shelly wants an idea or movement, even a revolution, to burst forth to change the divide in England.

Can England Be Saved?

Shelley’s deviation from the typical Petrarchan sonnet structure aids in relaying his message necessitating and prompting political and social change in England. He does so by highlighting the drastic social gap between the elite monarchs and the “starved” people (line 7). In his sestet, Shelley opens with his vilification of the English monarchy by first discussing the “old, mad, blind, despised, and dying” King George III (line 1). He continues criticizing as he moves down the political hierarchy, claiming the princes to be nothing better than the “dregs of their dull race” (line 2). Despite his commitment to romantic ideals of beauty and love in some of his previous writings, these lines in the sestet reveal Shelley was also concerned with more “real world” matters of the day, specifically England’s political matters. He goes on to say the rulers are disconnected; they “neither see nor feel nor know” the problems of their country and of their people, yet they still “cling” to their “fainting country,” like leeches, for power and control (line 4,5).

Following his fierce denouncement of the English monarchy in the beginning sestet, a noticeable shift in tone occurs when reading on into the octave. While Shelley will continue with his politically centric message, he does so by discussing a different people with a different tone. His tone quickly shifts from one of criticism and dissatisfaction to one of sympathy and sorrow for the English people. For example, Shelley alludes to the devastating massacre at Peterloo in which a peaceful rallying of people were “stabbed in th’untilled field” by a troop of cavalry (line 7). Here, in the octave, his passionate advocacy for liberty is revealed through his sympathetic plight of the people. Shelley goes on to highlight the sad reality of the “Christless, Godless” church and a senate who is “Time’s worst statute” (line 11).

After contrasting England’s social classes in this reversed Petrarchan sonnet, Shelley ends the sonnet with another structural twist: a Shakespearean couplet to conclude the sonnet. Not only is the couplet unique in its placement and use, but it suggests a surprising note of optimism: from these “graves” a “glorious Phantom” may “burst to illumine our tempestuous day” (lines 13,14). I believe Shelley is characterizing the “Phantom” as some kind of deus ex machina; perhaps, to encourage the reader to put hope and faith in something greater than themselves. After all, Shelley could have ended the poem with a couplet that set forth a strict call to action, a call to change; however, he chose to appeal to our sense of wonder and encourage us to have faith. But would that faith be enough?

“Milton, are you the one they call the Messiah?”

The first 8 lines or the octave poses Wordsworth’s angst in response to the selfishness and nationalistic imperialism England had been operating in. Wordsworth immediately makes the cry for Paradise Lost author, “Milton!” (Line 1) imploring for his return to “raise us up, return to us again; And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power” (Line 7). It is clear Wordsworth believes the literature Milton wrote 150 years prior reflected deep personal convictions, a passion for freedom and self-determination. Wordsworth pleads with Milton to come back because “England hath need of thee” (Line 2). Wordsworth has a deep respect for Milton’s 17th century stance addressing the political turbulence of the day in England. It is almost as if Wordsworth states his opinions and anguish in the octave of London, 1802 as one in search of a messiah to come save the day in England and prompt the nation to wake up to the inequity he sees. Wordsworth refuses complacency to accept England as “stagnant waters” (line 3) and he believes if Milton could perhaps return, he could resurrect and refocus England on the ideas of morality and conservatism. Wordsworth holds the opinion that England has stagnated morally by comparison to Milton’s period in the 17th century.

Simply put, Wordsworth’s solution in the sestet is revolutionary in nature; at least in terms of English mentality. Rhetorically, he poses, if the social norm is not morally sound, why must it continue to be followed? Wordsworth uses powerful imagery along with the existing notoriety of Milton to appeal to the English people, ultimately in an attempt to support his proposed solution of integrating Milton’s values to improve the English condition. He uses a powerful yet delightful simile describing Milton’s soul as “like a Star…thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea” (lines 9-10). This celestial imagery used makes me ponder the magnificence or divine power Wordsworth believes Milton could have over the present situation. Perhaps Wordsworth uses this imagery to convince his readers the power of Milton’s values. Milton “dwelt apart” (lines 9) from the crowd, not feeling the urge to conform to norms and thus Wordsworth urges a call-to-action to his readers. Wordsworth further describes Milton as “pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free” (line 11) as a prime example of someone who used their freedom to boldly question the societal norms and values of the time. The moralism and nationalism of the poem occur simultaneously and perhaps are the occasion for a call to overthrow the current social and political order.

 

The Words of Wordsworth: Can the past solve the present?

Wordsworth’s Poem “London, 1802” gives an immediate call out on the state of England.  In the octave, Wordsworth describes England as “have forfeited their ancient English dower of inward happiness” (Ln. 5-6), and “she is a fen of stagnant waters” (Ln 2-3).  The problem appears to be the virtues that England has lost after the end of the French Revolution (1799).  The revolution was a dream that died as England fortified its imperial structure, swiftly cut down the revolution and became more hardened to the voice of justice and virtue.  As Wordsworth says they’ve lost “alter sword and pen” (Ln. 3), England has lost all religious, moral, and free thinking thoughts.

So how does Milton have anything to do with the problems of the 1800s?  Well, in the sestet, Wordsworth describes him as ” a star, and dwelt apart” and “In cheerful godliness” (Ln 9, 13).  Surely Wordsworth has some image of Milton as being a man full of the virtue that England has lost and needs.  Lines 13-14 state ” and yet they heart the lowliest duties on herself did lay”.  It’s interesting to see how Milton is almost described as having gone out of his way to undertake the responsibility of attaining the values and virtues.  I can agree that Wordsworth wants to look back before the Revolution started, has asked himself how something so beautiful and full of virtue ended in such great violence.  Wordsworth thinks that the virtues of Milton and the past should be something to look up to, but I think that’s only works to a degree.  My time in college has taught me that if I continually look backwards to get back to my “old self”, I end up never attaining the specific joys I used to have, and become frustrated with myself.  If you keep looking up to the past, you’ll never see the greatness of what the future could hold.  I think it’s great to look back, and yet there should also be that much more reason to look forward.

Is there no kindred mind?

Mary Robinson provides a number of strong arguments against slavery in her poem “The Negro Girl.” Much of it has to do with our creation by the Almighty and the fact that regardless of tint and culture, all of our souls are still the same (lines 54-55). Initially, the first argument that really stuck out to me was in lines 24-26 when Robinson writes “Does Heav’n’s high will decree that some should sleep on beds of state, some, in the roaring Sea.” Here it appears that Robinson is using the roaring Sea as a symbol to represent the cruel enslavement of the African race. (This could have been completely obvious from the start, but I did not catch it until these few lines lol.)

Robinson frequently talks about the mind and the soul and how they are created equally even though skin color is not viewed as such. In lines 37-42 she argues that the negroes did not have the soul, or Jewel of the mind stolen, so the only thing separating them from their fellow man is simply skin color. Robinson asks in line 58: “Is there no kindred mind?” Over the course of much of history cultures have been formed and banded together or even enslaved not for their intellectual abilities, but for their race and the pigment of their skin.

“Man was not form’d in Heav’n, to trample on his kind!” (lines 66) Robinsons language is interesting here. She uses the word trampled almost as if she acknowledges that man will be in conflict, but one man should not “trample” over another man. The word trample insinuates putting one beneath your feet and running them into the ground. In simpler terms the white man was not created to step on the backs of other races to advance their own.

Robinson’s argument is clear throughout this poem: white men were not created with a different mind or different soul than black men. All races are creations of God and created in his own image. The problem is humans are visually and aesthetically oriented beings, and the one thing that makes us all equal cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Are you a man?

In “The White Man’s Burden,” Rudyard Kipling is admonishing his readers to take up the cause of imperialism and bring Victorian society, morals and religion to the newfound colonies in Cuba and the Philippines. He uses several arguments, some purely ethical, some patriotic, but his most convincing argument, in my opinion, is his argument calling out the character and manhood of the readers.

In the second to last stanza of the poem, Kipling says, “By all ye cry or whisper, / By all ye leave or do, / The silent, sullen peoples / Shall weigh your Gods and you” (Kipling, 45-48). In this line, Kipling is saying that the people’s decision to act or not act will influence the colonists’ opinion both of the individual’s character but also of the Imperial religion — Christianity. This is the first direct reference Kipling makes to the readers being judged by their actions. Kipling references individual character again in the next stanza, saying, “The lightly proffered laurel, / The easy, ungrudged praise, / Comes now, to search your manhood / Through all the thankless years, / Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom, / The judgment of your peers!” (Kipling, 51-56)

Here again Kipling is making a statement that now is the time when manhood will be tested, when each man’s character is put to the test.

By phrasing it this way, Kipling is making it impossible for any man to save face and not be involved in the Imperialist takeover, not only in his own eyes but also in the eyes of his peers. In a culture where honor and character were emphasized above all else, this jab at the manliness of his readers appears to be Kipling’s strongest argument.