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Stuff I knew in school...
Posted by: Peter B (
Date: May 18, 2003 06:09PM

Do you happen to know the title of one that has these words:

" 'Twas when his banners at Boulogne.....

....every freeman.

His navy chanced to capture one poor British seaman."

..Many, many lines including dialogue, and ending:

"A noble mother must have bred so brave a son!"

I think it's a poem about Napoleon capturing and talking to some poor British sailor who sasses him properly but so impresses Napoleon that he let's him go home. Don't even know if it was really Napoleon...but would love to find it and just can't think of an angle.

Re: Stuff I knew in school...
Posted by: kevin (
Date: May 18, 2003 06:42PM

I believe it's "Napoleon and the Young English Sailor" you are looking for. I believe it was published in The Royal Readers No. IV and written by T. Nelson during 1879.

Re: Stuff I knew in school...
Posted by: kevin (
Date: May 18, 2003 06:59PM

In 1803, Napoleon resolved upon the invasion of England, and assembled a vast army for the purpose at Boulogne.

The menace was met by a most patriotic response, and 300,000 Volunteers were enrolled. It was thus that Napoleon's "banners at Boulogne armed in our island every freeman."

Doubtful of the success of an attack on England, and eager to punish Austria, Napoleon suddenly abandoned the projected invasion in 1805, and marched the "Army of England" to the banks of the Danube.

1) I love contemplating .... apart
From all his homicidal glory ......
The traits that soften to our heart
Napoleon's story.

2) 'Twas when his banners at Boulogne
Armed in our island every freeman
His navy chanced to capture one
Poor British seaman.

3) They suffered him, I know not how,
Unprisoned on the shore to roam;
And aye was bent his youthful brow
On Englandıs home.

4) His eye, methinks, pursued the flight
Of birds to Britain, half way over,
With envy ... THEY could reach the white
Dear cliffs of Dover.

5) A stormy midnight watch, he tought,
Than this sojourn would have been dearer,
If but the storm his vessel brought
To England nearer.

6) At last, when care had banished sleep,
He saw one morning, dreaming, doating,
An empty hogshead from the deep
Come shoreward floating.

7) He hid it in a cave, and wrought
The live-long day, laborious, lurking,
Until he launched a tiny boat,
By mighty working.

8) Oh, dear me! 'twas a thing beyond
Description! ... such a wretched wheery
Perhaps ne'er ventured on a pond,
Or crossed a ferry.

9) For ploughing in the salt sea field,
It would have made the boldest shudder;
Untarred, uncompassed, and unkeeled, ....
No sail ... no rudder!

10) From neighbouring woods he interlaced
His sorry skiff with wattled willows;
And thus equipped he would have passed
The foaming billows.

11) A French guard caught him on the beach,
His little Argo sorely jeering,
Till tidings of him chanced to reach
Napoleon's hearing.

12) With folded arms Napoleon stood,
Serene alike in peace and danger,
And, in his wonted attitude,
Addressed the stranger.

13) "Rash youth, that wouldst yon Channel pass
On twigs and staves so rudely fashioned,
Thy heart with some sweet English lass
Must be impassioned."

14) "I have no sweetheart," said the lad;
"But absent years from one another,
Great was the longing that I had
To se my mother."

15) "And so thou shalt," Napoleon said;
"You've both my favour justly won;
A noble mother must have bred
So brave a son."

16) He gave the tar a piece of gold,
And, with a flag of truce, commanded
He should be shipped to England Old,
And safely landed.

17) Our sailor oft could scantly shift
To find dinner, plain and hearty,
But never changed the coin and gift
Of Buonaparte.


Source: The Royal Readers No. IV, T. Nelson, 1879

Re: Stuff I knew in school...
Posted by: Peter B (
Date: May 22, 2003 10:25AM

Thanks a lot Kevin. This is the same Royal Reader series that was inflicted on West Indian kids during the colonial era. That and the West Indian Reader series. It brings back a lot of memories...
Both readers were full of [largely] British poetry - The Burial of Sir John More, How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix, Queen Mab...etc.

Are Royal Readers still available?

Cheers, and thanks again.

Re: Stuff I knew in school...
Posted by: Pam Adams (---)
Date: May 22, 2003 01:15PM

Try - several used copies were listed. I doubt if they're still in print.


Re: Stuff I knew in school...
Posted by: Peter B (
Date: May 23, 2003 04:42PM

You just left "try" hanging...

I've tried but without success.

Re: Stuff I knew in school...
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: May 23, 2003 05:36PM

[] />

title search royal readers brings up many of them


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and many, many others

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