We report the operation of a fast-pulsed, high-current, table-top discharge device for the excitation of large densities of energetic atomic and ionic levels. The peak current through the discharge was measured to be 16.4 kA at a current density of approximately 1.1 kA . cm-2. A high degree of excitation of energetic states of atomic and ionic Cs by "hot" electrons in the negative glow discharge was demonstrated by population measurements and VUV emission studies. In particular, the population density in the level Cs II ( , at 13.33 eV above the Cs II ground state, was measured to be cm-3at a measured electron density of cm-3. The population densities of energetic atomic and ionic levels examined in this work were an order of magnitude larger than those produced in previous discharge devices.