One Night Sad and Languid (Dream of Napoleon)
DESCRIPTION: "One night sad and languid I went to my bed... When a vision surprising came into my head... I beheld that rude rock... O'er the grave of the once-famed Napoleon." The singer recalls the deeds of Napoleon and how he was "sold... by treachery."
EARLIEST DATE: 1847 (Journal of William Histed of the Cortes); before 1854 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 16(77b))
KEYWORDS: Napoleon dream death freedom
FOUND IN: US(SE)
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Huntington-SongsTheWhalemenSang, pp. 215-216, "One Night Sad and Languid" (1 text)
Palmer-FolkSongsCollectedBy-Ralph-VaughanWilliams, #63, "A Dream of Napoleon" (1 text, 1 tune)
Moylan-TheAgeOfRevolution-1776-1815 207, "Napoleon's Dream" (1 text, 1 tune)
Dallas-TheCruelWars-100SoldiersSongs, pp. 135-137, "Napoleon's Dream" (1 text, 1 tune)
Warner-TraditionalAmericanFolkSongsFromAnneAndFrankWarnerColl 143, "Boney on the Isle of Saint Helena" (one fragmentary text in the notes to that song)
ST SWMS215 (Full)
Bodleian, Harding B 16(77b), "Dream of Napoleon" ("One night, sad and languid, I went to my bed"), Swindells (Manchester), 1796-1853; also Harding B 16(78a), "A Dream of Napolean"[misspelling in text as well as title]; Johnson Ballads 1146[last line illegible], Firth c.16(97), Harding B 26(153), "[A|The] Dream of Napoleon[!!!]"; Harding B 19(86), "Napoleon"
Murray, Mu23-y1:056, "Dream of Napoleon," James Lindsay (Glasgow), 19C
NOTES [232 words]: Napoleon says "The nations around you shall look with surprise, When freedom to you my descendant supplies.": Napoleon III[1808-1873; president 1848-1852; emperor 1852-1870] was the son of Napoleon's stepdaughter and, nominally, his brother Louis Bonaparte. (source: "Napoleon III of France" at the Wikipedia site). - BS
Napoleon III, like the first Napoleon, was rather contradictory in this regard. He has been called the "Bourgeois Emperor." He did end up a full-blown Imperial head of state (though under constitutional and parliamentary restrictions). But he also liberalized a lot of laws. If he had been smarter about picking his wars, his government might well have survived. But he fought the Crimean War, wasted a lot of energy installing the Habsburg princeling Maximilian in Mexico -- and then picked a war with Prussia. Or, as it would come to be called, Imperial Germany.
Naturally, he lost that, and was pushed from his throne. But the broadsides show that this song was written when he was still new and appeared a vast improvement over the reactionary Bourbon dynasty.
That seemed almost to be the story of the Bonaparte family. Napoleon himself started as a lawgiver, and ended up power-mad. His son the Duke of Reichstadt (1811-1832) was regarded as incredibly promising, but died young. And Napoleon III came in as a liberal reformer and ended up as another Emperor. - RBW
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