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GUEST,Dick Holdstock Lyr Req: The Deeds of Napoleon (12) Lyr Add: DEEDS OF NAPOLEON (from Bodleian) 12 May 06


I am looking for the melody of the Deeds of Napoleon and hope the lead to the Waterson's album will be the answer.

I found the words at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads Site, it is listed there under Firth c.16(98). I see the ballad as yet another non-hostile Napoleon song that ignores Wellington at Waterloo circulated during a time of extreme crisis in 1840. Perhaps the impact of the Napoleonic war was so great that it left an indelible impression on the minds of the people who lived through it, or was it that they continued to wonder what life would have been like if only Napoleon had won?

The occasion of this obviously hastily put together song was the arrangements for the removal of Napoleon from his lonely grave on Saint Helena and ultimate placement in his extravagant shrine in Paris. Bonaparte was exhumed on Saint Helena in 1840 but it took until 1942 when Adolf Hitler arranged for the remains of his son (Napoleon ll), to be buried along side his father.   

Marshal Soult served as the representative of France at the coronation of Queen Victoria and apparently was successful in arranging for Napoleons disinternment in 1840. It was at Victoria's coronation ceremony that Wellington finally caught up with Soult whose French army had led the British army such a chase through Spain. It is said that Wellington came up behind him and grabbed Soult by the arm and said, "caught you at last."

Here are the words from the Broadside ballad.

Deeds of Napoleon
Tune the "Mouth of the Nile"

You heroes of the day, who are lively, brave and gay,
Only think of former Champions by land and sea
'Midst the battles fierce array, when canons round did play,
Like hearts of oak they smil'd and met their enemy;
The total pride of France, with his eagles did advance.
That hero came from Corsica and proved himself a don,
Tho' kings he did dethrone, and some thousands cause to groan,
Yet we miss the long-lost Emperor Napoleon.

Duncan, Jarvis, and Lord Howe, long the ocean they did plough,
They fought the French, the Spaniards, and the Danish Fleet;
When the crimson gore did flow, then true courage they did show,
They fought with desperation and never was beat;
The French did cry Mon Dieu! While their decks to pieces flew,
The Spaniards did surrender, the Danish fleet was quite undone;
Bold Boney fought on land, like an Emperor so grand,
And his soldiers cried 'long life to Napoleon."

The Brave Norfolk hero bold he never was bribed by gold
Great honor to Lord Nelson, now a long time dead;
Copenhagen and the Nile, he had men rank and file,
But alas at Trafalgar he fell and bled;
When Captain Hardy did his duty so free,
And Collingwood he acted like a true Britannia's son,
He made a dreadful crash, and their enemies did thrash,
But I know must tell the deeds of bold Napoleon.

Then Boney in a rage, did his enemies engage,
And 'twas on the Peninsular he did declare a war,
He maneuvered his men like the bold council of ten,
When he went to Valenciennes and Victoria;
Then at Bezacca hill, where the blood would turn a mill,
From whence to Egypt he did go, but soon away did run,
To France he went again and raised a powerful train,
Now "come on my lads to Moscow" cried Napoleon.

'Twas o'er the Alps so wild, he led his men and smil'd
Over hills and lofty mountains, and a barren plain;
When Moscow was in view, they their trumpets loudly blew,
But soon it turned their joy to grief and pain;
For Boney in amaze, beheld old Moscow blaze,
Then his gallant army vanish'd like snow before the sun;
To France he went near craz'd. And another army rais'd
Now "come on to death and glory" cried Napoleon.

Then he away from France, with his army did advance,
He made the Dutch, and Germans before him fly,
And then at Quatre Bras, he let loose the dogs of war,
Where many thousand Prussians did fall and die,
And then at Waterloo many thousand he slew!
Causing many a mother to weep for her son,-
Many a maid to shed a tear, for her lover so dear,
Who had died in the battles of Napoleon.

Tho' so bravely he fought, he at Waterloo was bought:
He was took to St. Helena, where he pin'd and died,
Long time he there did lay, 'till Soult did come this way
To beg the bones of Bounaparte the Frenchman's pride -
Oh! Bring him back again it will ease the Frenchman's pain,
And in a tomb of marble, we will lay him with his son
We will decorate his tomb, with the glories he has won.
And in letters of bright Gold inscribe Napoleon.

W. Fortney, Printer, Monmouth Court, Seven Dials


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