To the Editor of the Morning Chronicle.
Sir, it is surprising that none of our Newspapers have noticed the new
manner adopted by Bonaparte of making public the operations of his army:
a change, of which I should have remained in ignorance to this hour, had
not a number of the Moniteur accidently fallen into my hands. Since the
famous bulletin which preceded his hegira from Russia, that vehicle of
extraordinary facts has been abandoned, as no longer adequate to its purpose.
The events of the present campaign are conveyed to France in a more captivating
shape; and the most incredulous must admit the truth of victories ushered
into the world under the fair auspices of an Empress, the mother of the
King of Rome. The circumstance too of their being in verse (which has
likewise escaped notice), not only renders them more pleasing and more
easily to be remembered, but also makes any little fiction, with which
they are now and then enlivened, the less out of place. Besides, the effect
of such animating strains upon the young gentlemen of Paris, lately raised
to the honour of dying for their country, under an invincible hero, the
greatest Captain of his age, is incalculable. What an incentive must it
be in the hour of battle—what a consolation in the moment of death, to
know that they will infallibly be put into verse—if not by name, at least
in plenty of good company—before the sun goes down, and that a defeat
may at any time be turned into a victory, without the least violation
of propriety!—We are all acquainted with the story of Tyrtaeus, whose
ballads in days of yore, were reckoned as good as an army of 10 or 20,000
As a true lover of my country, I am anxious,
Sir, that Old England should not remain without a similar advantage. We
have, it is true, Congreve's rockets all to ourselves, whatever the Americans
may say to the contrary; but why should not we have Bonaparte's Vaudevilles
into the bargain? Surely his Royal Highness's Ministers, without laying
any additional burden on the Poet Laureat, might furnish amongst them
a Bard as good as the Author of "Talavera," or the Muse of Whitehall (the
Sternhold and Hopkins of the nineteenth century) to put the Extraordinary
Gazettes into metre. Why should not the S-cr-t-ry of the A-m-rty
begin at once by trying his hand on the last dispatches from Alicant?
But in this, Sir, as in all other matters, example is every thing. And therefore, to illustrate my meaning, I subjoin a metrical translation of a very affecting incident recorded in Bonaparte's account of his last battle with the Allies. The flowers of pathos exhibited by the Dying Duke of Frioul and his tender-hearted Master, which seemed rather odd to our cold-blooded countrymen in a plain prose narrative (as it stood in the English newspapers), will appear at once both natural and touching, when restored, as far as our imperfect language will permit, to their original form.
F. S. N. D.
The Emperor, squeezing the Marshal's right hand,
On the Duke of Dalmatia he lean'd for support;