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British War Poetry in the Age of Romanticism 1793-1815, by Betty T. Bennet, Edited by Orianne Smith

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1802.9
Ode,
On Hearing that Bonaparte had Suppressed the
English Newspapers in France

“Rusticus”
Robert Dinsmoore or Rev. Samuel Denne[1]
The European Magazine, XLII (September 1802), pp. 219-220

When Liberty in France appear'd,
And first her brazen standard rear'd,
    "Huzza!" cried Bonaparte;
"We now shall be sublimely bless'd!"
Then clasp'd her to his panting breast,
    And gave her all his heart;
Arm'd his small body cap-â-pie,
The Errant-Knight of Liberty.

Away he flew, from clime to clime,
Unmindful of the lapse of time,
    With millions in his train!
For Liberty alone he fought!
And deem'd no victory dearly bought,
    Her glorious cause to gain;
Whilst, in his van, arose a tree,
Inscribed with "Vive la Liberté!"

O'er the wide world, in ev'ry zone,
This nymph had sisters of her own,
    Bred in each various sphere.
One in Helvetia liv'd, so blest!
But O! the loveliest, and the best,
    Hath fix 'd her cottage here!
Here, safe beneath Britannia's eye,
Dwells the first-born of Liberty!

Now Bonaparte, that wond'rous blade,
Chose out the most vivacious maid
    Of all the sisters fair;
Admir'd her spirit and her eye,
From which ten thousand lightnings fly,
    And eke her martial air!
Ah! little thought poor Bon. that she
Was the spoilt child of Liberty.

For her, regardless of their breath,
What thousands were consign'd to death,
    By night, and eke by day!
"Whilst Pity, from her soft abode,
O'ertook him on his blood-stain'd road,
    "To look his rage away."[2]
In vain! he spurn'd her tender plea,
Devoted all to Liberty.

An enemy to all mankind,
He left a plunder'd world behind,
    To execrate his name!
Hark! how Helvetia, Venice, Rome,
Lament their melancholy doom!
    Hark! thousands mourn the same!
And yet, "I come to make ye free,"
Exclaim'd this man of Liberty!

The Turks sublime, as travellers tell,
Retain a custom, sprung from hell,
    By which, when Selim[3] dies,
His eldest son, a Prince no more,
Kills all his brothers by the score,
    Or puts out all their eyes.
Safe policy! condemn'd to be
The offspring of French Liberty!

So Bon. resolv'd to be as free,
Wher'er he found a Liberty,
    He cut the Lady's throat!
"My Liberty alone shall thrive,
"Alone my much-lov'd maid shall live,"
    He bawl'd, in thund'ring note!
Then cried, "My friends! in me ye see
"Th' adorer of sweet Liberty!"

But when, at length, to bless his life,
Miss Liberty became his wife,
    He soon found, to his cost,
She was the most unruly jade,
And car'd not what she did, or said,
    If once her whims were cross'd!
For Gallic Ladies can't be free,
'Till unrestrain'd in Liberty.

What could be done? between the two,
There was the devil and all to do,
    Who still should be the master!
For Ma'am so kick'd, and bounc'd, and
                    swore,
That Bon. who never fear'd before,
    Now fear'd some dire disaster!
And oft he bent the lowly knee,
In hopes to soothe Ma'am Liberty!

At last, his expectations o'er,
His Corsic soul could bear no more,
    So he resolv'd to bind her;
So, seizing Madam by the neck,
He rudely threw her on her back,
    And tied her hands behind her!
Exclaiming, "What is this I see"
"Is this my once-lov'd Liberty?"

And now, within the gloom of night,
He hears her sorrows with affright,
    And mourns his hasty choice!
Uplifts his ever-wakeful head,
From murder'd Bourbon's costly bed,
    And trembles at her voice!
Arise! ye shades of millions dead,
And shield the maid for whom ye bled!

One other maid, of all that name,
Escap'd his persecuting flame!
    She dwells on Britain's shore!
Nor can his arms, nor wretched arts,
Hurl to her breast those cruel darts
    Her sisters felt before!
Ah! see, she droops her pensive head,
And weeps her lovely sisters dead!

The mild reproofs, and murmurs free,
Which fall, O British Maid! from thee,
    Bon. hears with sad surprise!
Then bids his mighty thunders roar
Along his wide-extending shore,
    To drown thy tender sighs;
And threats his happy Gauls, who dare
Echo thy plaints, or urge thy pray'r!

Hail, blissful Gaul! hail, land so dear!
Where none must speak, where none must hear,
    Except whilst air-ballooning!
Behold a nation prostrate lies!
Behold another Louis[4] rise,
    By Sultan-like dragooning!
Arise! ye shades of millions dead,
And save the maid for whom ye bled!

Cottage of Mon Repos,
September 1802


Notes

1. Either Robert Dinsmoore (1757-1836) or Rev. Samuel Denne, both of whom used the pseudonym during the period.

2. [Author's note]: "Collins."

3. [Author's note]: "Or any other Grand Seignoir."

4. [Author's note]: "Louis the Fourteenth."

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September 2004

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