Excerpt, “Echoes: or Leisure Hours with the German Poets.” Translated by A. C. Kendrick. Rochester: 1855.
Before Battle of Dannenberg
Darkly boding, sternly, grimly,
Breaks the great, the awful day;
And the blood-red sun looks dimly
Down upon our bloody way.
In one pregnant hour assembling,
Crowd a nation’s fortunes vast;
And e’en now the lots are trembling,
And the iron die is cast.
Brothers, in holiest compact united,
Warned by the hour, be our solemn vow plighted,
Come life or come death, to be true to the last!
Look we back–night’s raven pinion
Wide o’er shame and insult waves;
O’er our German oak’s dominion
Bowed and broke by foreign slaves.
On our tongue they heaped dishonor,
And our holiest rites blasphemed;
Brothers, we have pawned our honor;
German brothers, be’t redeemed.
Lo, where the flame of heaven’s vengeance is burning!
Up! and its curse from our country be turning!
Up, and be freedom’s lost charter redeemed!
Blessed hopes shine bright before us,
And the future’s golden days;
A whole heaven of bliss hangs o’er us,
Whence fair freedom pours her rays.
Art, all bright thou reappearest!
Song, again thy raptures burn!
Love and beauty, all that’s dearest,
All that’s brightest, see return.
Ye there awaits us a desperate daring;
Blood must be poured all free and unsparing:
Only in blood will our glory’s star burn.
Now-with God-we will not falter,
Boldly meet fate’s heaviest blow,
Lay our hearts on freedom’s altar,
And to death unshrinking go.
Native land, for thee we’ll perish;
All thy bidding will we dare;
They our bosoms fondly cherish
May thy blood-bought freedom share.
Oak of our country, grow broader and bolder!
Stretch thy proud arms o’er the spot where we moulder!
Hear, 0 our country, the oath that we swear!
Now your thoughts toward home’s sweet treasures
Yet for one brief moment cast;
Part ye from those blooming pleasures
Which the South’s fell poisons blast.
Though the silent tear be starting,
Shame shall ne’er such tears attend;
Waft them one last kiss at parting,
Then to God the Loved commend!
All the sweet lips that in prayer are awaking,
All the fond hearts that are bleeding and breaking,
Mighty Jehovah, console and defend!
Cheerly now to battle wending,
Eye and spirit heavenward turn;
Earthly life in darkness ending,
Lo, where heavenly glories burn!
Bravely on, each gallant brother!
Every nerve a hero prove!
Faithful hearts rejoin each other;
Now farewell each earthly love!
Hark ! where the thunders of battle are crashing!
On, where the storm of red lightning is flashing!
Meet again in the realms above!
The only peace agreed to between France and England during the Napoleonic wars was that known as the “Peace of Amiens,” which lasted from March, 1802, until May, 1803. During the existence of that peace the whole world, as it were, rushed to Paris, to catch a glimpse of the man who had wrought such mighty changes in so short a time. The obscure Corsican had become the greatest man of the times. Emperor of France, in all but name, his Court began to take on all the trappings and ceremonies of royalty. Holding the reins of power absolutely within the grasp of his own hands, he tolerated no interference, either by his colleagues or by the people.
In peace, as in war, he rested not, but laboured incessantly for the advancement of his country, whose needs he seemed to comprehend fully. Society was reorganised for the better; judicial reforms were perfected, and the Code pushed forward towards completion; the educational system of the nation was thoroughly revised and improved; the relations between church and state were settled by the signing of the Concordat in the spring of 1802: the finances were brought up to a flourishing condition; magnificent roads and bridges were built; everything, in fact, that could enhance the greatness and glory of France was thought of and carried out by this tireless mind.
It was at this time the Legion of Honour was established.
Premiere ‘Légion d’honneur’ by Charles Étienne Pierre Motte
A depiction of Napoleon making some of the first awards of the Legion of Honour, at a camp near Boulogne on 16 August 1804
How many a gallant soldier rushed to his death in hopes of winning a place in that legion, and how many a dying hero was made happy by being presented with its badge before he answered the last roll-call. When the “Star” no longer led the Legion on to victory, Byron gave us the following lines.