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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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1804.16
Bonaparte's Soliloquy
“R. P. C.”
The Anti-Gallican (1804), pp. 259-260

A Parody on Hamlet's Soliloquy.

To invade, or not invade?—That is the question—
Whether 'twere better policy to bear
The discontented spirit of my Army,
To whom I've promis'd plunder; or to make
A grand attack on Britain?—To invade,—to fight,
On their own shores, a people fam'd for valour;
And by that fight to put an end
To the eternal jealosy and strife
Subsisting 'twixt the French and English Nations;—
And what is most desirable to me;—
England's complete o'erthrow!—To invade—to fight,—
To fight?—perchance to beat!—aye, there's the point
That shakes my Resolution most; besides,
When the French fleet shall brave the English Thunder,
How soon a ball or bullet may decide
The premier CONSUL'S fate,—must give me pause.

Here is the reason of my long delay
To execute my threat:—Fear holds me back,
Tho' desp'rate motives urge.—Else who would bear
Unsatisfied, the strong desire I feel
To conquer ENGLAND; desolate her towns;
Her bulwarks burn; and drench her plains with blood?
Who could endure the mortifying sight
Of English cruizers, impudently bold,
Blockading e'en the very ports of France;—
But that the dread of Britain's dauntless sons,
(That free unconquer'd race!) "puzzles my will;"
And makes me rather all the dangers brave,
That hover round my present slipp'ry state,
Than heedless rush on almost certain ruin
On hated ALBION'S shores?—Thus prudence, fear,
And policy combin'd, can change the hue
Of Resolution; and thus serious thought
Can alter plans of greatest "pith and moment,"
And make th' INVASION I so long have threaten'd,
—All end in Nothing!—


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September 2004