A Consolatory Epigrammatic Dialogue
The Morning Chronicle (September 6, 1808)
(Translated from the Spanish.)
Ah! TALLEYRAND, sure I've just cause to complain,
My brother, KING JOSEPH, is kick'd out of Spain:
Marengo and Jena my trophies display,
But these vile Spanish peasants have now won the day.
Austria's triumphs, my Hero, might tarnish your fame,
But a RABBLE victorious can't sully your name:
True glory, says Quixote, defies Envy's blast;
You are beat not disgrac'd, by a shoemaker's last.
1. Napoleon's brother Joseph was forced to flee Spain due to British victories and, especially, the popular uprising of the Spanish people. In September, 1808, Napoleon, with his minister Talleyrand, met with Alexander I of Russia at Erfurt to reinforce the Franco-Russia Alliance. However, Talleyrand, in secret, was negotiating with Alexander to frustrate further measures towards Austria.
2. [Author's note]: "'Sancho—It is written in the laws of single combat, in express terms, that if the shoemaker strike another with the last that he hath in his hand, although it be certainly of wood, yet cannot it be said that he who was stricken had the bastanado. I say this, to the end that thou may'st not think, although we remain bruised in this last conflict, that therefore we be disgraced; for the arms which these men bore, and wherewithal they belaboured us, were none other than their packstaves; and, as far as I can remember, never a man of them had a tuck, sword, or dagger.'—Don Quixote, part I. book 3, Chap. I. Skelton's Translation."