Melville on Captain Vere--You Decide!

What's your impression upon reading this?

from "Billy Budd, Sailor"
Herman Melville

With nothing of that literary taste which less heeds the thing conveyed than the vehicle, his bias was toward those books to which every serious mind of superior order occupying any active post of authority in the world naturally inclines: books treating of actual men and events no matter of what era--history, biography, and unconventional writers like Montaigne, who, free from cant and convention, honestly and in the spirit of common sense philosophize upon realities. In this line of reading he found confirmation of his own more reserved thoughts--confirmation which he had vainly sought in social converse, so that as touching most fundamental topics, there had got to be established in him some positive convictions which he forefelt would bide in him essentially unmodified so long as his intelligent part remained unimpaired. In view of the troubled period in which his lot was cast, this was well for him.  His settled conviction were as a dike against those invading waters of novel opinion social, political, and otherwise, which carried away as in a torrent no few minds in those days, minds by nature not inferior to his own.  While other members of that aristocracy to which by birth he belonged were incensed at the innovators mainly because their theories were inimical to the privileged classes, Captain Vere disinterestedly oppposed them not alone because they seemed to him insusceptible of embodiment in lasting instititutions, but at war with the peace of the world and the true welfare of mankind.

Add to this the fact that Budd is removed (impressed) from the Rights of Man, and deployed on the Bellipotent. It's my suspicion that Melville is trying to convince us of something regarding Captain Vere's character in these details.  Coming from an Emersonian liberal directed at what seems to be an aristocractic Burekan conservative, what might he be trying to convey?


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