The Bonnie Bunch of Roses (2) By the margin of the ocean, One pleasant evening in the month of June, When all those feathered songsters Their pleasant notes did sweetly tune, 'Twas there I spied a female Who seemed to be in grief or woe, Conversing with young Bonaparte Concerning the Bonnie Bunch of Roses-O. Then up spake young Napoleon And took his mother by the hand, Saying, "Mother dear, be patient Until I'm able to take command. I'll build a mighty army And through tremendous danger go. And I never will return again Till I've conquered the Bonnie Bunch of Roses-O. "When first you saw great Bonaparte, You knelt upon your bended knee And asked your father's life of him And he granted it most mournfully. 'Twas then he took his army And o'er the frozen Alps did go; Saying, "I never will return again Until I've conquered the Bonnie Bunch of Roses-O. "He took ten hundred thousand men And kings likewise for to bear his train. He was so well provided for That he could sweep the world for gain. But when he came to Moscow He was o'erpowered by sleet and snow And with Moscow all a-blazing, He lost the Bonnie Bunch of Roses-O." "O, son, be not too venturesome, For England has a heart of oak, And England, Ireland, and Scotland, Their unity has never been broke. Remember your dear father; In Saint Helena his body it lies low, And if ever you follow after, Beware of the Bonnie Bunch of Roses-O." "O mother, dearest mother, Now I lie on my dying bed. If I lived I might have been clever, But now I rest my youthful head. And when our bones lie mouldering And weeping willows o'er us do grow, The deeds of brave Napoleon Shall conquer the Bonnie Bunch of Roses-O." As recorded by Daithi Sproule on "A Heart Made of Glass," with possibly some confusion with the similar version recorded by Nic Jones on his self-titled album. The "young Napoleon" of this ballad is the son of Napoleon Bonaparte by his second wife Maria Louise. Napoleon Francis Joseph Charles Bonaparte (Napoleon II), the titular King of Rome, was born in March 1811. He was thus a babe in arms when the elder Napoleon invaded Russia; only three at the time of Bonaparte's exile to Elba; four at the time of the Emperor's return, the Hundred Days, and the Battle of Waterloo; and just past his tenth birthday when his father died on Saint Helena in 1821. This song may well reflect the younger Napoleon's character; at the very least it is certain that he died young. After several years of illness, he passed away on July 22, 1832, at the age of 21, evidently of tuberculosis. Although the young Napoleon's ancestry is perhaps uncertain (before the elder Bonaparte's death Maria Louisa has borne two children by another man), those who knew him reported that he shared his father's traits of tenacity and intelligence. Fear, however, caused his Austrian tutors to conceal as much developed a burning desire to avenge the family's disgrace! The reference in verse 3 to Napoleon sparing his wife's father's life refers to Francis I, the Austrian Emperor, whose nation suffered severely at Napoleon's hands. The fourth verse is an understandable exaggeration. Napoleon did not take a million troops to Moscow; in fact he never put that many troops under arms. But hundreds of thousands did start out on the Russian campaign. Badly hurt at Borodino, the French took Moscow largely intact, but empty, and had to face the bitter Russian winter with little in the way of supplies. Few of the French would ever return. But Britain ("the Bonny Bunch of Roses," a title of uncertain origin) was clearly Napoleon's greatest enemy. It was England that financed and fought the Peninsular campaign that so so frustrated Napoleon's generals. It was English money and influence that held so many coalitions together. And, ultimately, it was England and Wellington that provided the largest share of the might that defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. Napoleon hated England, and knew he could not have peace until she was defeated. But Napoleon could not invade England without naval superiority, and Napoleon's navy had been ruined by Nelson at Trafalgar in 1805. On paper, Trafalgar was a relatively minor defeat. But it lead to Napoleon's downfall. The rather flowery language of this ballad clearly reveals its broadside origin. At least two American version has been collected. One is found in this collection; the other, from Newfoundland, is printed in Elisabeth B. Greenleaf and Grace Y. Mansfield's "Ballads and Sea Songs of Newfoundland" and reprinted on pp. 105-107 of John Anthony Scott's "The Ballad of America." RW DT #392 Laws J5 RW
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