1815.10 - "Napoleon"

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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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1815.10
Napoleon[1]
“P. Cornwall”
The Morning Chronicle (October 21, 1815)

"This man,
Tho' from an humble stock, undoubtedly
Was fashion'd to much honour.—
And tho' he were unsatisfied in getting,
(Which was a sin) yet in bestowing, madam,
He was most princely."                          HEN. VIII.

———  ———  ——— "He whose nod
Has tumbled feebler despots from their sway."
                                                   CHILDE HAROLD.

Gone is the mighty soldier's power,
And dimm'd the sunshine of his earlier hour:
'Midst sighs and tears again the lily blows,
Where late 'midst thunder sounds his Eagles rose:
The children of his pride—his hate—
Foes, friends—(e'en he had friends till late)
Have fled and left him desolate.
His blunted sword is free from harm,
His voice—that voice which once own'd such a charm,
    And bore the veteran's soul along,
Hath lost its magic pow'rs—for now
Bare and unlaurell'd is his brow.
And, oh! that high imperial name
Which millions follow'd once to fame,
    Is gone, and shrunk into a song—
—Yet shall it live in story—
And heroes of a future age,
Shall mark the Historian's deathless page,
Where (stripp'd of all its obloquy):
And in bright characters recorded high
'Midst kings and warriors of the olden time,
And pure, save Conquest's ne'er forgiven crime,
Napoleon—Emperor—mighty King—
Shall shine, 'midst many a meaner thing—
    But now—of all that heartless crowd
    Which cringing flatter'd, or submissive bow'd,
                    Not one remains for thee,
    Nor wife—nor child—nor friend—nor home
                    In thine adversity.
Yet mourn not thou the parasite,
Who fled, and flourish'd in thy sight—
Who now the poor pale lily rears,
And wets with "ministerial tears."
He—when thou sat'st on Gaul's revolving throne—
When half a world was all thine own;
When glitter'd each rich and varied gem,
Bright in thy regal diadem,
Bent lowly at his monarch's nod,
And hail'd him hero—Demigod.
Oh! if Otranto's helmet[2] still
Obey the avenging angel's will,
Now let it bend its plumes of jet
To crush a traitor's coronet.—
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
—Yet must some inward spirit dwell,
Which prompts high thought, and counsels well,
    And doth from anger warn,
    And bids thee wreak thy bitter scorn,
On those who on thy bounty fed,
Then heap'd their reptile curses on thy head;
Who sprung to life beneath thy morning sun,
And turn'd, and stung thee when the day was done.
Who drove their master to an exile's cell,
    And left him in adversity forlorn.
One hope—if in thine adverse hour,
Fame's feverish dream hath lost its power,
And that stupendous mind
Is by ambition's chain no more confin'd,
Then may some happier star arise
To gild thy fallen destinies;
And guide thee, till returning day
Shall chase the warrior's griefs away.

Temple, Sept. 23, 1815.


Notes

1. This poem was preceded by the following letter to the editor:

To the EDITOR of THE MORNING CHRONICLE.
SIR,

I am not unfrequently in the habit of associating with ministerial men, and as frequently hear some of them (in other respects really very liberal-minded) pour forth all their stock of invective and witticism on the Ex-Emperor of France. On such occasions one must either submit to be called "a Jacobin," (which is as much distorted from its original meaning as "Epicurean," poor Epicurus drinking water only, and his disciples being utterly unacquainted with the taste of it), or one must submit to be silent. Will you do me the favour to insert some lines which I have written, in your paper, it is now almost the only corner left in the world of politics where one may hear both sides of the question.

You will oblige, Sir, your reader and admirer,

23rd Sept. 1815.

P. CORNWALL

2. [Author's note]: "The Story in the Castle of Ontranto is perfectly well known, as well as Fouche's title."

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Published @ RC

September 2004