[Richard Monckton Milnes (Lord Houghton), poet, author and Liberal politician.] Holograph poem (signed 'Richd M Milnes.'), titled 'The Fifteenth of December, 1840' [published as 'The Funeral of Napoleon']

Richard Monckton Milnes [Lord Houghton] (1809-1885), poet, author, Liberal politician and book collector [Napoleon Bonaparte]
Publication details: 
Dated by Milnes at end: 'Paris. Jan. 1841.'
SKU: 22702

2pp, 8vo. On a gilt-edged leaf of umwatermarked wove paper. In good condition, lightly aged. A fair copy in Milnes's autograph. A curious poem, in which Milnes's Napoleon-worship wins through over considerations of the futility of war. Retitled 'The Funeral of Napoleon', the poem was first published in 1841 in the Spectator, and in slightly different form in Milnes's 1844 collection 'Poems, Legendary and Historical'. There are a number of differences between the present version and that published in the Spectator. The final stanza is entirely recast. In this manuscript it reads: 'On the Throne of Ideas, no treason can reach, | In the Kingdoms of Art, the dominions of Speech, | Through the world of Emotions, the Hero shall reign | "'Mid the People he loved, on the banks of the Seine!"' In the newspaper it reads: 'On the throne of emotions through kingdoms of speech, | In dominions of thought that no traitor can reach, | As now, so for ever Napoleon shall reign | 'Mid the people he loved, on the banks of the Seine!' Other differences are minor: 'Joy too profound' is printed as 'Pleasure too deep'; 'Not so:' is 'Oh no!'; 'braided' is 'girded'; 'to the mourner atone' is 'to the childless atone'; 'perished' is 'fallen'; 'bosoms dwell images' is 'breasts are the images'; 'his ashes remain' is 'the hero is lain'. There are further differences between this version and the version published in the 1844 volume. In the present manuscript the first line of the poem reads: 'The strongest grow faint in the chill of the air, -' In 1844 it reads: 'All nature is stiff in the chill of the air,'. And once again in 1844 the last stanza is entirely recast, being printed as: 'In dominions of Thought that no traitor can reach, | Through the kingdoms of Fancy, the regions of Speech, | O'er the world of Emotions, Napoleon shall reign | 'Mid the people he loved, on the banks of the Seine.' Otherwise the differences (some of them carried forward from the Spectator version) are minor.