Napoleon and British Song, 1797-1822 (War, Culture and Society, 1750-1850)
Oskar Cox Jensen
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This study offers a radical reassessment of a crucial period of political and cultural history. By looking at some 400 songs, many of which are made available to hear, and at their writers, singers, and audiences, it questions both our relationship with song, and ordinary Britons' relationship with Napoleon, the war, and the idea of Britain itself.
Their better ﬁtness to the conditions of popular culture. Songs, like Britons, were freer and more heterodox in the time of the invasion scares than has generally been imagined. Chapter 3, covering a period when songs turned to wider continental matters, is more concerned with news than nation, and with the control, on the domestic front, of time and space in the consumption of this news. As the war dragged on with little hope of success, the deluge of loyalist propaganda receded, and.
Were rewritten (accidentally or otherwise) with each printing. Even simply to listen 15 16 Napoleon and British Song, 1797–1822 is to participate in the creation of meaning. There is, therefore, ﬂuidity, even instability, inherent in these four categories. Yet they serve to order our thinking about the practical operation of song culture in British society, during the Napoleonic Wars. Writers At the risk of gross simpliﬁcation, it could be said that writers of Napoleonic song fell into two.
France, Ireland and Spain, all enjoyed close cultural connections. The exoticism of the foreigner would thus have been more closely contained within landlocked counties: locks to which the Wars themselves held the key.66 Many anti-invasion broadsides themselves indicate an acceptance that the populace was better informed than they would wish. Rather than simply presenting a pantomime villain, their writers presuppose Bonapartist sympathies in their audience, and engage in political arguments that.
Scotland’s glory’ rather than Britain’s, in a healing of regional scars left by the Jacobite conﬂicts: once again, it is the common man and the sub-British interest, not the loyalist state, which are celebrated in this contest with the admired Napoleon. This concern for ordinary combatants could creep into even the most jingoistic of immediate metropolitan broadsides. Pitts’ ‘Boney’s Total Defeat, and Wellington Triumphant’, written by John Thompson to the famous drinking tune ‘Roast Beef of Old.
Established family press of Angus, who later printed Bell’s Rhymes.92 In 1803, Bell’s father set him up as an independent bookseller, also operating on Quayside.93 Meanwhile, a young cobbler’s apprentice, William Mitford (born 1788) was learning his trade on Dean Street, between Quayside and the markets.94 Behind all these young writers was the ﬂedgling ephemeral printer John Marshall (no relation to his London namesake), who operated a large circulating library of songs and pamphlets from.