There’s the irony intended and the irony added like
                                      icing on top: fill the air with

                                      sweetness, scented-soap-on-a-
plinth, while the rains come down and be gone

within a twelvemonth. As
​​​​​​​                                      the sculptor proposed. But the rains

​​​​​​​                                      were slow to come that year
and the public less fickle than planned and so

this butcher-on-horseback, copy of a copy, stood
​​​​​​​                                      for forty-eight months

​​​​​​​                                      in eloquent tribute, limb
by limb, to the powers of necrosis. When I saw

him first I was baffled by the strutwork,
​​​​​​​                                      the sticking-out, simplified

​​​​​​​                                      bones of steel that should
have been covered by flesh. Prosthetics-made-

political? I was only half mistaken.
​​​​​​​                                      The prince (he was of course

​​​​​​​                                      a prince) had been the hero
of Culloden, thus Sweet William to his fellow

defenders-of-England. Hence
​​​​​​​                                      the statue. Hence,

​​​​​​​                                      as will happen from time to time
when we finally look at aftermath, the hundred

years of empty plinth. The hundred and more. I
​​​​​​​                                      simplified. So much

​​​​​​​                                      for the link between memory
and shame. But this talking-to-the-past knowing

better, which (we’ve read the statistics we’ve
​​​​​​​                                      some of us walked the battlefields)

​​​​​​​                                      we have to imagine we do, at least
the knowing part, is quite another thing than knowing-

better-in-time. First roundshot, then grapeshot, then
​​​​​​​                                      hand-to-hand on marshy

​​​​​​​                                      ground where, as they had been
trained to do, the English in formation thrust their

bayonets not forward but into the enemy on the
​​​​​​​                                      right. And then

​​​​​​​                                      the butchery in the highlands.
I have a hunch, despite

what they tell me on Wiki, that the tactic at Culloden
​​​​​​​                                      wasn’t new at all. Some

​​​​​​​                                      Scythian surely or Roman-in-
Gaul had thought of that angle before? Whereas

I tend to trust the news release: the scented
​​​​​​​                                      soap provided etc by

​​​​​​​                                      Scented Soaps etc which you
can purchase at your local shop. The arts and the

ever-in-need-of-augmentation art of patching up
​​​​​​​                                      public subsidy.

​​​​​​​                                      The lead-and-gilt original
was paid for by a single admiring donor while

the donor’s troops (he too was a leader of men)
​​​​​​​                                      were shipped to Ireland in rags.

​​​​​​​                                      Provisions, it seems, had gone
​​​​​​​astray. As will attention. For every harm

I manage to hold in mind I let a hundred slip.

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Vol. 44 No. 8 · 21 April 2022

I enjoyed Linda Gregerson’s poem ‘Melting Equestrian (Cavendish Square)’, about the two statues of the Duke of Cumberland (‘Butcher Cumberland’) that have stood in the square (LRB, 24 March). Perhaps I could take the opportunity to note the names of the sculptors: John Cheere (1709-87), who executed the first gilt bronze monument, and the contemporary Korean sculptor Meekyoung Shin, who created the soap version.

Holly Trusted
Public Statues and Sculpture Association, Duns Tew, Oxfordshire

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