Domestic carnage, now filled the whole year
With feast-days, old men from the chimney-nook,
The maiden from the busom of her love,
The mother from the cradle of her babe,
The warrior from the field – all perished, all –
Friends, enemies, of all parties, ages, ranks,
Head after head, and never heads enough
For those that bade them fall.
Wordsworth came to suffer the disillusion of young revolutionaries in all ages who discover that in shedding an ocean of blood they have more often than not done more harm than good. If the French revolution was the end of monarchy and aristocratic privilege and the emergence of the common man and democratic rights, it was also the beginnings of modern totalitarian government and large-scale executions of “enemies of the People” by impersonal government entities (Robespierre’s “Committee of Public Safety”). This legacy would not reach its fullest bloom until the tragic arrival of the German Nazis and Soviet and Chinese communists of the 20th century.