1809.15 - "The Devil at Malmaison; An Ode on St. Napoleon's Day . . ."

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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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1809.15
The Devil at Malmaison;
An Ode on St. Napoleon’s Day . . .

“C. S. B.”
The Poetical Magazine, I (1809), pp. 105-109

An Ode on St. Napoleon's Day,

Being a Parody on Dryden's "Alexander's Feast."

    'Twas at a banquet. held at Malmaison,
            By Great Napoleon;
        Aloft in gaudy state
        The fell Usurper sate
            Upon his ill-got throne:
    His new-made Lords around were plac'd,
Their necks with Legionary Honours grac'd;
    So with wrought hemp should each be brac'd.

Beside him sat his Josephine,
Like a fair wretch whose life has been
Devoted to the Cyprian Queen;
            Matchless, matchless, matchless pair;
            None more deserve,
            None more deserve,
            None more deserve Apollyon's care!

Discordia, perch'd on high,
            Derang'd the Music's strain,
    Rend'ring the player's efforts vain;
    Notes, diff'ring from their own, reply,
            Chaos was come again.—
How strange the song did flow;
Satan, who left the realms below,
Resolv'd to work Creation woe,
Quickly assum'd with ease the form of man:
And seem'd an humble Corsican,
    When he the Emp'ror's mother press'd,
And rais'd an image of himself, a torment to the world.
            The horrid truths the gaping crowd confound;
            Parbleu! Diable! soon they shout around,
            Parbleu! Diable! all the roofs rebound.
            Like cat encag'd,
            The Monarch rag'd,
            His robe he tore,
            Then loudly swore——————
At length the sounds assuage.—

The joys of murder then their alter'd song inspire:
    Of murder ever horrible and dire;
    The gloomy chief in triumph comes;
    Draw the daggers, beat the drums;
    He comes with silent pace,
    Behold his blood-stain'd face!—
Now clash the gory swords; he comes, he comes!—
    Murder, horrible and dire,
    Treachery did first impart
    Murder here we own a treasure,
    Murder is our Emp'ror's pleasure;
            Rich the treasure,
            Sweet the pleasure;
    Oh! 'tis sweet to stab the heart.
    Rous'd at the sound, the hilt he press'd
    Of dagger lurking in his vest,
And oft the Emp'ror look'd around to plunge it in some
                          breast.

        Discord perceiv'd the madness rise;
    His redd'ning cheeks, his eager eyes;
    And while he Heav'n, hell, earth defied,
    Soon reduc'd his savage pride.
    She chose a theme unkind,
    To bring his crimes to mind:
    Enghien was sung: in Boulogne wood
    By too severe a fate
    Murder'd, murder'd, murder'd, murder'd,
    A victim to the tyrant's hate,
    Because of Bourbon blood;[1]
Robb'd of his crown, and rightful throne,
By him for whom the deed was done;
With his own guiltless blood was stain'd,
That land o'er which he should have reign'd.—
        With conscious guilt abash'd the Emp'ror sate,
        Revolving in his soul to find
            What render'd all his projects vain;
        Till happy Britain cross'd his mind,
            And madness rose again.—

            Delighted Discord views the deed,
        And smiles to see her plan succeed;
        With other sounds she strikes the lyre,
        The rage for conquest to inspire:
        Loudly in Tritonian measures
        Soon she told of Albion's treasures;
        Albion caus'd him endless trouble
        Rend'ring all his schemes a bubble;
            Ne'er content, tho' ever winning,
        Fighting, conqu'ring, and destroying;
            Gallia's navy ever thinning,
        And the captures rich enjoying;
        Albion's charms invite thee over,
        Never rest till safe at Dover;——
"Bravo," cried Talleyrand,[2] while all accord,
And strive to animate their upstart Lord:
    Their Lord, unable to conceal his pain,
        Curs'd Albion fair,
        Who caus'd his care,
    And vow'd revenge, vow'd revenge,
    Vow'd revenge, and vow'd again.
O'er wearied Nature could support no more,
And chok'd with rage he sunk upon the floor.

        Now give the trumpet breath again;
        Blow louder yet, blow yet a louder strain—
    Break his fainting fit asunder,
    And let him hear that rattling peal of thunder.
        Hark, hark, those dismal moans
        Have rais'd up his head,
        As awak'd from the dead,
        And alarm'd he deeply groans.
    Revenge, revenge, Discordia cries,
        See what horrors arise!
        See, Kleber[3] comes here
        Toussaint[4] too is near,
    And Pichegru[5] reveal'd to our eyes!
        Behold a ghastly band,
        Each a crescent in hand,
These are ghosts of the Turks that at Jaffe were slain![6]
        In oblivion the deed
        Had for ever been hid;
        But thy crimes to proclaim
        And to publish thy shame,
    That mercantile crew
    The intelligence gave
Abroad to the world, scarce doubting the truth.

    Remember how oft thy heart bleeds,
Whene'er they enum'rate thy foul disdeeds!
    The Emp'ror in rage, and with furious tone,
    Seiz'd his sceptre, and cried, "Fellow soldiers, come on."
        His wife he bid to stay,
        Lest she should fall a prey,
Then forth he rush'd in haste, and march'd towards Boulogne.[7]

        But coward fear,
        Soon as fair Albion's cliffs appear,
        Assails his alter'd mind;
        He dreads the raging adverse wind,
        And raging main,
Thinks his invading scheme might shorten much his reign:
        He therefore wisely fac'd about,
        And issued these his orders out—
"Halt, soldiers, halt; for we will not expose
    "Our sacred life in this affair;
    "And being worth our care,
"Would rather save it now, and disappoint our foes."
        Let Discord here suspend her art,
            Or quite resign the crown;
        She fir'd with rage his savage heart;
            Fear pull'd his courage down.

Lisle-street, Leicester-square.


Notes

1. Louis de Bourbon-Condé, duc d'Enghien, a prince of the Bourbon line, was shot at Vincennes on the night of March 20-21, 1804, after an unfair trial which implicated him in a plot against Napoleon.

2. Charles de Talleyrand was Napoleon's chief supporter in his office as First Consul.

3. Jean Baptiste Kléber was put in charge of the French troops in Egypt after Napoleon left on August 24, 1799. Kléber concluded a peace treaty with the Turks but was assassinated on June 24, 1800.

4. Francois Dominque,Toussaint, afterwards called Toussaint L'Ouverture, born a slave, became military director of Haiti in the late 1790's. After compelling the British to withdraw in 1798, and conquering the Spanish in 1801, he became governor-general of the island. He professed to respect French Sovereignty and invited the French colonists to return to the island. After the restoration of peace in Europe in 1801, however, Napoleon sent troops to reconquer the island. Toussaint was arrested by treachery and sent to France where he died a prisoner in April, 1803.

5. Charles Pichegru, prominent in the military from the early days of the Revolution, was implicated in the plot against Napoleon's life in February, 1804. He died mysteriously in prison.

6. During the Syrian Campaign, 12,000 Turkish prisoners were massacred after the battle of Joffa in February 1799.

7. In 1803 Napoleon marshaled his "Grand Armée" in the Camp at Bologne for a planned invasion of England. He himself did not bother to go to Bologne with his men and the planned invasion never came about, although he kept his army there until 1805.

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September 2004

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