Malmaison: Scenes 12-14


Scene 12: Outside Malmaison

Maria Waleweska, Lucien, Caulaincourt, Gourgaud & all the staff. All are in civilian clothes.

Lucien
With my brother set to leave forever,
As Alexander died in the palace
Of Nebuchadnezzar, & as Ceasar
Was assassinated in the Senate
I fear this is the age’s denoument,
& Malmaison the fatal mortal stage
Where glory throttl’d from a demi-god.

Maria
You are the best of all your family
Most loyal to your brother

Lucien
As are you
There are many who, in prosperity,
Once flattered & fawn’d him, those who bow’d down
The lowest, those who wiped dust from his feet
With their foreheads, those rais’d to high office,
Enrich’d by most exalted dignities,
For the most part loaded him with insults
Witnessing adversarial events

Caulaincourt
I notice how the good he did ignor’d
While error’d handfuls catapulted wide
Callous pretexts tearing him to pieces.

Gourgaud
Remember we are now a republic,
In honest memories of the masses
He was an active citizen of France
Unpapal father of a family
By foreign forces only overthrown

Enter Napoloen

Napoleon
Monseiurs et madames, good morning to all
What is the situation in Paris?

Caulaincourt
The government proclaims a state of siege
But the city is all tranquility

Gourgaud
The Prussians, however, hurrying here
With cavalry & horse artillery
& infantry, two battallions worth

Lucien
Your life is in terrible danger, sire,

Gourgaud
We must cross the bridge at Catoul quickly

Napoleon
Yes, yes, yes, yes, but why the glum faces
The ocean is so beautiful in June,
& we are going for a pleasure sail.

Lucien
The passports?

Napoleon
The passports will soon appear
I cannot see the least opposition
Would be offer’d to a western voyage,
Money the only obstacle I see,
We will be made to pay royal prices

Achille
We have packed several chests of jewels
Numeral years shall pass before them spent

Napoleon
& books, books, did you instruct Barbier
Make best selections from my library

Achille
I did sire, a choice & wide selection
There are Greek & Roman historians

Napoleon
Plutarch

Achille
Yes, of course

Napoleon
Is there a Bible

Achille
Yes

Napoleon
Good, Americans are religious
To their marrow, did you pack my Homer

Achille
Yes, sire, the Iliad, the Odyssey,
There are encyclopedias, dictionaries,
& a complete set of the Moniteur,
You’ll have modern dramas also; Racine
Voltaire & Corneille

Napoleon
Good, I love Corneille
Despite of imperfections he will choose
Always a subject lofty as my dreams

Hortense
All has been attended to & succinct
Your library will join you at the ships

Lucien
I wish our route was not so linear,
Clever rabbits dig several burrows,
I sense you may be riding to a trap

Napoleon
We shall be safe, foreplanning ensures this,
Complexity invites complications,
As long as we stay focussed on the goal
Our futures remain in states of control,
A few days hence I quit France forever
To fix my spot in some natural clime
To recieve all my glorious soldiers
Once more, to reminisce & share old wounds,
Yes, all of my companions in arms
Will find asylum with me, veterans
Of when we bent the world within our will.

Hortense
Father, all the carriages are ready

Napoleon
How many in the suite

Hortense
There are seven
In total

Joseph
Each one, sire, is bearing arms

Napoleon
My swords

Joseph
Yes sire

Napoleon
You have pack’d Aboukir

Joseph
& the Champ de Mai, there are seven pairs
Of pistols, & your repeating rifle

Napoleon
& the Sevres factory porcelain

Joseph
Yes sire

Achille
There are two field beds with cards, books,
The calesh furnish’d with a steel canteen,
Toilet articles, little rolls of gold.

Napoleon
Then we are set, as tiny footsteps start
Undertakings of epic adventure
Let us depart, Hortense, my daughter true,
Painful to leave the ones we love the best
Take care of your precious, precocious son,
I sense the noble emperor in him
Come to my arms…

Hortense
Travel safely father

Napoleon walks silently to the carriage, casts a look back at Malmaison.

Napoleon
Wait, we have time, I want to see her room

Napoleon returns to the house

Caulaincourt
But Sire

Napoleon brushes passed the group

Lucien
Let him go

Hortense
I will follow him


Scene 13: Josephine’s Bedroom

Enter Napoleon He stands in silence staring at the bed. Enter Hortense.

Napoleon
I should never divorced your mother
I am Corsican, & when we feel fate
Entwines two stars, let them not separate
Else rises ancestral superstition
To consume precious destiny with ghouls,
Hers was an early death, & mine exile…
Tell me how she died, tho’ it destroys me.

Hortense
To please the Tsar she left a heated room
Drove off together by open carriage
She wore a flatteringly flimsy dress,
& caught a chill, went coughing to this bed
Terrible melancholy descended
Her cough worsening, her chest lead-heavy,
She barely could breathe, began to lose hope,
Inflammation of the whole trachea
The doctors said, a case beyond extremes,
& dress’d in rose-colour’d satin she died,
But in the moments approaching the end,
I heard her whisper…

Josephine
Bonaparte, Elba,
The King of Rome

Hortense
Bertrand administer’d
The last sacrament, she had pass’d away
As gently to meet death as she met life

Napoleon
Adieu, Josephine, forever Adieu

Hortense
Father, I know this is emotional
But you really have to go

Napoleon
Yes I know
But leave me alone a few moments… please

Exit Hortense / Napoleon stares at the bed

A musical montage of the songs is heard; the choruses of Lucky Star, Loversong & Signet Dynasty, then Josephine singing

Josephine
Sweet angel of mine
Won’t you come up to my house sometime
I’ll unblock my windows, unlock my doors
I’m yours

Napoleon
Sweet angel of mine
I’ve been thinking about you all the time
I’l forget the heroes
Give up the wars
I’m yours


Scene 14: The HMS Bellerophon / The Solent off Portsmouth

The HMS Bellephron, below deck. Caulaincourt, Gourgaud & Achille.

Caulaincourt
{groaning}
On leaving Malmaison this not the dream
His Majesty is mostly indisposed,
Our days are passed sploshing this damn’d channel
The sea is rough, our guts churning seasick.

Gourgaud
We wasted too much time in Rochefort

Achille
{looking through window}
The English navy is magnificent
Whenever His Majesty goes on deck
The marines immaculate under arms
Sailors hang from masts & yards like bunting,
Order & cleanliness reigns everywhere
& everything above the water-line
Smooth-scrubb’d with sand, it is most marvellous.

Gourgaud
Appearances are never what they seem,
In what rough hands has he just put himself,
My protests upon English perfidy
On deaf ears fell, deadly resolution,
Implacable enemies possess him,
Napoleon, you are lost forever,
A frightful presentiment tells me so

Napoleon returns from the deck

Napoleon
Every day an infinity flocks
About the Bellepheron, crowds small craft
Collected in close curiosity,
Pressing to see novel Napoleon

Caulaincourt
The interest is admiration, sire,
Their officers are making profound bows
The greater part of men wave hats on high
While pretty ladies flutter handkerchiefs,
If these were masters of your majesty
They would dall raw your carriage to London
Like you were their conqueror, one may say
By your presence alone, the sympathy
Of the English has been, & will be, won.

Napoleon
We hope the higher echelons agree,
It is never without danger to place
Oneself in the hands of one’s enemies,
But better to risk trusting their honour
Than being captur’d as a prisoner,
To the voluntary surrenderer
Compassion wings, singing with good treatment.

Enter Lord Keith

Keith
Your majesty

Napoleon
Lord Keith, welcome aboard,
Permit me a moment to speak my mind
Exposed to rotten factions which divide
My country, & the shocking enmity
Of the Great Powers of Europe, I come
To England to terminate my career,
Throw myself, like Thermistocles, upon
The hospitality of the Britons
Claim protection from your Royal Highness
Most powerful, constant & generous
Of all my enemies,

Lord Keith
The decision
Of all the Allies has been made today
They consider you their joint prisoner
& handed me responsibility
To relay that decison, you shall sail
To Saint Helena come the next good tide
& there, until your passing, shall reside

Napoleon
It is not so! I solemnly protest
For in the face of Heaven & of men
Forcible disposal of my person
Strikes violations thro’ my sacred rights
I was invited upon this vessel
As a guest of England, yet you treat me
Not with courtesy, but imprisonment
You want to make me a Prometheus
I insist I speak with the Prince Regent

Lord Keith
That will not be a possibility

Napoleon
Upon whose command

Lord Keith
The Prime Minister’s

Caulaincourt
Your government is preventing their meeting
Denying an appeal to human reason
Between fellow heads of state, but instead

Napoleon
You treat me like a common criminal,
Condemn’d to some prison hulk off Toulon!

Gourgaud
This was a snare to trap you all along

Caulaincourt
Your government is forfeiting hounour
& sullying its flag

Napoleon
If this vile act
be consummated, it will be in vain
All the talk of English integrity
Of your laws, of your love for liberty,
Whom offering a hospitable hand
A manacle conceal’d in the other.

Lord Keith
The Allies are determined the failure
Of Elba suffers no repetition,
The world grows exhausted of your ego
You shall never be allow’d to set foot
Upon the soil of Europa again,
For when you do the bloodshed is immense,
Incendiary & beyond excuse,
Good day to you sir, you leave in three days.

Exit Lord Keith

Caulaincourt
Your majesty…

Napoleon
Go… leave me… please… please go

Exit All

Napoleon
I suppose it was always to be so,
A visionary seldom understood,
Even rarer permitted to exist
Side-by-side with powerful patriots
Else crumbling social structures haul’d to dust,
So-call’d noble princes fawn at your feet
But Saint Helena’s distant pygmie rock!
This seperation from the universe,
Is like the guillotine that lets heads live
To look bock on the bodies they once moved;
What mortal could experience greater
Vicissitudes of fortune than myself?
My woes are solely lock’d within my heart,
I am powerless to drive them away,
But with this final chapter I feel calm,
Having nothing more to fear from this Earth
My grey frock coat I hang upon its hook
To fight old battles in my memories,
While in the annal’d histories they’ll say
Napoleone di Buonaparte was born…

Fin.


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

“Its worth a pop, right, to try & knock
Shakespeare off his feffin’ perch!”

35062508_10156430365647520_5136386788406853632_n.jpg

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

Posted on December 13, 2019, in Conchordia, Malmaison. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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