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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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1803.12
Harlequin's Invasion
Anon
The Gentleman's Magazine, LXXIII (November 1803), pp. 1056-1057
The Anti-Gallican (1804), pp. 69-70 (with its source given as The Morning Post)[1]

[The following little production was, some months since, offered to the publick, but through so confined a channel that we hope we shall stand excused to our readers in giving it a place in our Magazine.]

No comic pantomime before
    Could ever boast such tricks surprising:
The hero capers Europe o'er—
    But hush! behold the curtain rising.

And, first, that little isle survey,
    Where sleeps a peasant-boy so hearty;
That little isle is Corsica,
    That peasant-boy is Buonaparte.

Now lightnings flash, and thunders roar,
    Daemons of witchcraft hover o'er him,
And, rising through the stage trapdoor,
    An evil genius stands before him.

His arms in solemn state are crost,
    His voice appals th' amaz'd beholders,
His head in circling clouds is lost,
    And crimson pinions shade his shoulders.

"Mortal, awake!" the phantom cries,
    "And burst the bonds of Fear asunder:
My name is Anarchy—Arise
    Thy future fortunes teem with wonder.

"To spread my reign the earth around,
    Here, take this sword, whose magic power
Shall sense and right and wrong confound,
    And work new wonders every hour.

"Throw off that peasant-garb, begin
    T'assume the party colour'd rover;
And, as a sprightly Harlequin,
    Trip, lightly trip, all Europe over."

He spoke, and, instant to the view
    Begins the curious transformation:
His mask assumes a sable hue,
    His dress a pantomimic fashion.

Now round the stage, in gaudy pride,
    Capers the renovated varlet;
Shakes the lath weapon at his side,
    And shines in blue, and white, and scarlet.

High on a rock, his cunning eye
    Surveys half Europe at a glance,
Fat Holland, fertile Italy,
    Old Spain, and gay, regen'rate France.

He strikes with wooden sword the earth,
    Which heaves with motion necromantic;
The nations own a second birth,
    And trace his steps with gestures antic.

The Pope prepares for war, but soon
    All-powerful Harlequin disarms him;
And, changing into Pantaloon,
    Each motion frets, each noise alarms him.

With trembling haste he seeks to join
    His daughter Gallia, lovely rover!
But she, transform'd to Columbine,
    Her father scorns, and seeks her lover.

The Dutchman next his magic feels,
    Chang'd to the Clown, he hobbles after;
Blundering pursues the light of heels,
    Convulsing friends and foes with laughter.

But all their various deeds of sin,
    What mortal man has ever reckon'd?
The mischief plann'd by Harlequin,
    Fair Columbine is sure to second.

They quickly kill poor Pantaloon,
    And now our drama's plot grows riper;
Whene'er they frisk it to some tune,
    The Clown is forc'd to pay the piper.

Each foreign land he dances through,
    In some new garb beholds the hero,
Pagan and Christian, Turk and Jew,
    Cromwell, Caligula, and Nero.

A butcher, Harlequin appears,
    The rapid scene to Egypt flying;
O'er captive Turks his sword uprears,
    The stage is strew'd with dead and dying.

Next, by the crafty genius taught,
    Sportive he tries a Doctor's trick;
Presents the bowl, with poison fraught,
    And kills his own unconscious sick!

Hey! pass! he's back to Europe gone,
    All hostile followers disappointed;
Kicks five old women from the throne,
    And dubs himself the Lord's Anointed.

In close embrace with Columbine,
    Pass, gaily pass, the flying hours;
While prostrate at their blood-stain'd shrine,
    Low bend the European Powers.

Touch'd by his sword, the morals fly,
    The virtues into vices dwindling;
Courage is turn'd to cruelty,
    And public faith to private swindling.

And now th' Invasion scene comes on;
    The patch'd and pie-ball'd Renegado
Hurls at BRITANNIA'S lofty throne
    Full many a mad and proud bravado.

The trembling Clown dissuades in vain,
    And finds too late there's no retreating
Whatever Harlequin may gain,
    The Clown is sure to get a beating.

They tempt the main, the canvas raise,
    The British fleet destroys his legions,
And the next change of scene displays
    Him sinking to th' infernal regions.

While Patriot Bands united throng
    Around BRITANNIA'S happy coast,
By freedom fir'd, in courage strong,
    Each in his Country's cause an host.


Notes

1. The latter version opens with the following additional stanza:

LADIES and Gentlemen, to-day
    With scenes adapted to th' occasion,
A grand new Pantomime we play,
    Entitled—Harlequin'sInvasion.

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