The lyrics and background of Boney’s Lamentation are from The Contemplator’s Microencyclopedia of Folk Music. Visit here to download the music! This ballad is also known as Boney’s Abdication, and abdication may be used to replace the word lamentation.
Older versions of the song retained the sequence of events for Napoleon’s rise and fall, but corrupted the names. Broadwood restored the correct names in this version. Broadwood collected this in Sussex in 1893.
Because the song ends with Napoleon’s abdication and does not mention Waterloo it is probable the words were composed in 1814. The air is a variant of The Princess Royal, by Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738). The tune appeared in print in Walsh’s Complete Dancing Master (circa 1730).
Napoléon Wounded Before Ratisbonne 1810 by Pierre Gautherot
Attend, you sons of high renown,
To these few lines which I pen down:
I was born to wear a stately crown,
And to rule a wealthy nation.
I am the man that beat Beaulieu,
And Wurmser’s will did then subdue;
That great Archduke I overthrew.
On every plain
My men were slain.
Grand treasures, too, I did obtain,
And got capitulation.
I did pursue the Egyptians sore,
Till Turks and Arabs lay in gore;
The rights of France I did restore
So long in confiscation.
I chased my foes through mud and mire
Till in despair my men did tire.
Then Moscow town was set on fire,
My men were lost
Through winter frost;
I ne’er before received such blast
Since the hour of my creation.
To Leipsic town my soldiers fled,
Montmartre was strewed with Prussian dead,
We marched them forth, inveterate,
To stop a bold invasion.
Farewell, my royal spouse, once more,
And offspring great, whom I adore!
And may you that great throne restore,
That is torn away,
Those kings of me have made a prey,
And caused my lamentation.