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Reins and whip and coachman and guard, however, in combination, had read that article of war which forbade a purpose otherwise strongly in favour of the argument, that some brute animals are endued with Reason; and the team had capitulated and returned to their duty.

What does this mean? (Bolding my own.)

3

The Articles of War are (and were, since before Dickens's time) the official regulations defining the scope of military and naval discipline in the UK. They were read on ceremonial occasions and on occasions when a commander felt that discipline was lax. To "read the Articles of War" was the martial equivalent of "reading the riot act".

In this passage, Dickens says that the coachman and guard brought the rebellious horses back into a state of obedience.

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