1813.13 - "Bonaparte's Bridge, to The Tune of This is the House That Jack Built"

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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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1813.13
Bonaparte's Bridge,
to The Tune of This is the House That Jack Built

John Ashton
English Caricature and Satire on Napoleon, I, II (London 1884), pp. 162-163

This is the bridge that was blown into air,
These are the Miners who had the care
Of mining the Bridge that was blown into air.[1]

This is the Corporal stout and strong,
Who fired the Mine with his match so long,
Which was made by the Miners, &c.

This is the Colonel of Infantry,
Who ordered the Corporal stout and strong
To fire the Mine, &c.

This is the Marshall of high degree
Who whispered the Colonel of Infantry
To order the Corporal, &c.

This is the Emperor who scampered away,
And left the Marshall of high degree
To whisper the Colonel, &c.

These be the thousands who cursed the day,
Which made him an emperor, who scampered away, &c.

These are the Monarchs so gen'rous and brave,
Who conquer'd the Tyrant, and Liberty gave,
To thousands & thousands who cursed the day, &c.


Notes

1. The combined armies of Russia, Prussia, and Austria fought a decisive battle against Napoleon at Leipzig in October, 1813. As Napoleon was retreating it was said he gave a command to blow up a strategic bridge while the allied armies passed over it. The command, given to a colonel, was passed down the ranks until, finally, a corporal blew up the bridge too soon, destroying not the enemy, but wagonloads of French wounded.

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September 2004

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