Category Archives: Malmaison

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

Malmaison: Scenes 10-11

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Scene 10: Josephine’s Bedroom

Josephine is alone playing the harp (singing).
Napoleon enters, she does not notice him

Josephine
{singing}
Sweet angel of mine
Wont you come up to my house some time
I’ll unblock my windows
Unlock my doors, I’m yours.

Napoleon
You sing & you play celestially

Josephine
Napoleon Bonaparte, you are here!
What tears of joy claim creases from my cheeks

Napoleon
Embrace me, let them mingle with my own
{They embrace}
My Josephine, my ever Josephine
My clever Josephine, my gushing heart
Tumbles waters from the Falls of Delight

Josephine
Such happiness as this renews sorrow
Back in your arms my agonies begin,
Each separation draws on closer Death,
Studying physiognomies of shades,
My destiny a morsel pantomime,
It is you who devours me, Bonaparte.

Napoleon
You must show resolution & courage
Do not despair & give yourself away
To melancholy’s fatal spirit snare,
Expelling sunshine from your precious state,
Aspire to contentment, take care of health,
For how you fare my life’s most precious news.

Josephine
It is the silences that destroy me
Not a word for weeks, then all I hear
Is how the King of Rome grows happy, fat,
& how you much you adore your little eaglet,
Such tact is like an elephant gone mad,
Blunt instrument to plague me with terror,
That nothing of our love left permanent,
Unworthy even of former favours,
Banish’d entirely from your memories.

Napoleon
Without you in this world my heart would cease
Its beating like a bust & broken clock,
If I could never whisper Josephine
When suddenly you flood into my mind
I could not bare to dwell upon this Earth,
My tears would swell the oceans & then I
Would drown myself inside them, with my tears,
So, yes, our souls’ attachment ever strong,
But if you love me show me real strength
Of mind, make yourself happy, you cannot
Count on constant & tender affections,
For there is something understood to be,
I shall never be happy, nor content,
Unless I know your smile & feelings calm.

Josephine
I understand, I do, but it still hurts
Nevertheless as I was empress
Crown’d, an empress I shall be forever
& with that comes a duty to the court
Of placid perfection in relations,
& so I shall pray most unceasingly
For your Majesty’s constant happiness
Be assured that I shall always respect
Our new relationship, rooted in past
Attachment, & shall call for no new proofs;
I limit myself to ask one favour,
To mitigate the loss of our congress
That you will deign to find a convincement
Proving to myself and my entourage
I hold a small place still in your esteem.

Napoleon
I shall send you jewels from the Kremlin
Neckworn by all tsarinas at the balls,
Tomorrow I depart for Germany
& may be gone some time, Russia is vast,
So here I am to gain my fair refresh
Of your flower face & your fairy flesh!

Josephine
This is a strange adventure Bonaparte
My stoumach knots with anticipations,
For you, & for my son, my brave Eugene,

Napoleon
He marches, yes, his father bids him so,
Twenty-seven thousand Italians
Go with him to the Vistula meeting,
Six hundred thousand join them on the march,
Soon Russia should fall begging at their feet,
The Romans took ten years to conquer Gaul
I calculate I shall need only two
To claim the epic wastes of Scythia
Which Darius fled, which slaughter’d Crassus,
Which cover’d Charles the Twelfth in disasters,
Which envelop’d Valerian in shame,
Which even Alexander beat away!

Josephine
Be ever wary for how many friends
Can counted be in factions, your armee
May be Grand, a dissolute creation,
But more than half the soldiers are not French
& Muscovy so very far from home,
I’ll think of you each day & pray each night,
Protect my son & go with all my love,
Tho’ all your love I know is not return’d
Tell me, how is this new empress of yours?

Napoleon
You wish me to compare?

Josephine
Yes, certainly

Napoleon
As you spread style & grace, Marie Louise
Unfurls simplicity & innocence,
As apart as Arctic & Atlantic
The art of pleasing your constant study
Concealing method, obtaining effect,
Every artifice imaginable
Employed to heighten charms already great
Mysterious, with all suspicionless,
But Marie-Louise ignores artifice
& anything like dissimulation;
All roundabout methods to her unknown.

Josephine
She will not meet me still, she wants nothing
To do with me, such a plain rejection

Napoleon
To jealousy Her Highness is disposed

Josephine
Well I am jealous too, doubly jealous
She has my throne, my only Bonaparte,
& you remain raw with recalcitrance
To all the passion-steel between our souls,
Open the gates, let end the siege of truth,
Come spend a treasure-night, you want it so,
I know, let me rise late in the morning
Explaining to my ladies reasons why?

Napoleon
A thousand times I would, but not tonight
Hard preperations take me to the field,
This war must spurn irregular courses,
When burning spots on the face of the Sun,
I shall return to thee in victory,
Remember our royal reunion
After Austerlitz, we shall celebrate
Again, my triumph, with kisses discreet

Josephine
{pointing through a window}
Behold that bright star shining, it is ours,
It follows you, but if you do not stare
& think of me, it shall fall from the sky
& as our fate decided by the stars
I worry so

Napoleon
Our star is shining still

Jospehine
{flinging arms about his neck & covering his face in kisses}
Write to me often, the waiting is grief
Between ghostly ambrosial letters,
That are my calming balms of bare beauty,
The words contain thy likeness

Napoleon
I shall write
O Heaven, how a heart doth break & bleed!


HEARTBREAKER

Like mountain men & archipelagos
Or young sweethearts sniffing a first red rose
Like monkey men glimpsing a glint of gold
Or distant kin returning to the fold
We are two rabbits sprinting cross the glen
We are two badgers snuggled in their den
We are the thistle of your bonnie land
We are the seaweed strewn across the sand
Hand in hand

My eagle-lashed Latvian poetess
My pearl-eyed raven in her Persian dress
My Spanish pea-hen singing as she comes
My nude Numidian banging djembe drums
We are white birds gliding between the waves
& morning dawnin’ in the Tuscan enclaves
We are midnight on the sea of Gallilee
For we are one in nature, you & me,
Me & you

But Cupid cruelly took away the dream
Me in my river barge & you led by the stream
Twas a sweet & fleeting momentary bliss
When you smiled & blew my soul a tender kiss
Now my heart is broken
& I’ve lost those tokens
Of when we were beautiful back then
Ahaha ahaha ahaha
Take a ride

As I look inside my wayward mind
& feel her kiss again
Ahaha ahaha ahaha
Take a ride….

Now my heart is breaking
(take a ride, take a ride, take a ride)
& I’ve lost those tokens
(say goodbye, say goodbye, say goodbye)
Of when we were beautiful back then

Exit Napoleon – enter Odette & Fleur, weeping maids –  Josephine bursts into tears


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Scene 11: Malmaison, Gardens

Napoleon is pruning roses in the garden singing an opera air. He is wearing a hunting waistcoat, nankeen pantaloons (with feet), red slippers & a broad-brimm’d straw hat with a narrow black ribbon. Hotense enters carrying a silver tray with glasses of lemonade on it.

Hortense
Good morning, father

Napoleon
& to you, Hortense

Hortense
Your spirits seem light, you slept well I trust

Napoleon
They are, a mix of roses & sunshine.

Hortense
I thought you might try a glass of champagne
Half-water of course

Napoleon
Yes, my lemonade
Again your hospitality outshines
The processions of Rajput palaces
& the principle houses of Europe.

Hortense
Father, drop the frivolous flattery
Have the passports for America come

Napoleon
At this time no, but doubtless they’ll appear

Hortense
Would it not be better to wait for them
Far away from here, some safe place out west

Napoleon
Tittle-tattle child, we possess time yet,
Come & view the quality of these blooms,
Your mother set new standards of texture,
Scent & size, I begrudg’d her no expense,
Even the English allow’d botanists
& collections to bypass the blockade,
England… the singular crime in their eyes
Was not the conquest of Europe, not so,
But the overthrowing of tradition,
It is if I had cancell’d The Derby,
But there moves inkling implings thro my mind
I want a little cottage & garden
To grow your mother’s roses as a guest
Of His Highness, I declared a world peace
On my return from Moscow, they made me fight,
Surely this allows me the recompense
Of sliding gently into aulden age.

Hortense
I ruminate that trusting the English
Shall never find a pathway to your gain
America is the land of the free
Where the current passion for liberty
Began & won its battles, London wept
At the loss of its former colonies,
Their mortal foe must thrive in such a place.

Napoleon
This is the most important decision
I shall ever make, the magnanimous
Prince Regent must respect our regal house.

Hortense
It is a grave, grave chance, think of mother
Opining upon this predicament
What would she say?

Napoleon
When my mind fermented
She cast an aura of serenity,
Unchallenging, undemanding of me,
A soothing balm for restless malady,
Then I could see things clean as mountain springs,
Focus on infinitesimal details
Which swerve events one way or another,
Your mother gone I realise my loss,
On countless wretches I have heap’d favours
But what have they latterly done for me?
Marie-Louise has stol’n the King of Rome
& wrapp’d him up in Viennese values,
Abandonato on every side!

Hortense
She never would have left for Vienna,
Her love’s will compelling her to Elba,
She wish’d to bear your exile, but she fear’d
Embarrassment tarnishing your future;
Madame de Stael, return’d to Paris,
Had the impertinence to ask one day
If mother loved you still, would you believe!
Her humour cut to ribbons in a flash,
& said, with concision, to the party
As madame has had the effrontery
Enquiring whether I am still in love
With the Emperor – as if I could feel
Less ardently for my soul’s mate today
In his misfortune – I, who never ceas’d
To love him ev’ry second that I breathe.

Napoleon
Hah, that is sooo her, loyal to the last,
Do tell me of the Tsar, when he was here,
How did they dwell, as soft as he & I?

Hortense
They were two stately stars who pierc’d the murk
That follow’d your first sad abdication
He was here, in Malmaison, at leisure
Admire’d these very roses that you prune,
Promising everything in his power
To conserve mother & my family.

Napoleon
A great & noble man, an Apollo…
& a damn’d stubborn fool, I reach’d Moscow!

Hortense
Father! It is done! The wars are over!

Napoleon
Of course, I lose myself sometimes, go on

Hortense
When the Tsar was here Malmaison bustl’d
Monarchs, crown princes, assorted grand-dukes,
All were here, exacting their privilege,
With mother still an empress to her bones,
Balls, receptions, dinners, it was dazzling.

Lucien Bonaparte

Enter Caulaincourt & Lucien

Caulaincourt
Sire, forgive me, the passports not yet come
The Duke of Wellington has responded
Thro’ Fouche, he has no authority
To answer for the British government

Lucien
We cannot dilly-dally in delay
The Prussians are like leopards set to pounce
We must leave for the coastal ports at once.

Hortense
Papa! It is time to leave Malmaison.

Napoleon pauses, then sighs, the pauses again.

Napoleon
We leave in an hour, send for Las Cases
I wish to commence lessons in English
Straightways in the carriage, waste no more time
I must prepare for my next adventure,
Beyond these mountains of uncertainty
Lie fertile valleys of futurity,
Meet me upon the steps, allez! allez!


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

Malmaison: Scenes 8-9

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Scene 8: Malmaison, Dining Hall

Josephine & Napoleon are sat for dinner but none are touching their food, not speaking – Napoleon is tapping a plate with his spoon – two servants wait nearby, Achille & Joseph Archambault.

Napoleon
Take it away

Achille
Yes sire

Napoleon
& the empress also

Servants begin clearing the table

Napoleon
Let us take some coffee
{to Achille & Joseph}
you may leave

Napoleon & Josephine move to the coffee table. Napoleon pours them both a cup

Napoleon
So many die in Spain, imperil’d force
Raking raw at my imperial crown
Their sacrifice must never fail in vain,
Their swords not stab the loud winds without wounds
The revolution embodies in them
As I, their man of state, its fate upholds
Spreading wide its enlighten’d ideals,
Are you listening to me, Josephine?
From Russia’s icy wastes to the Tagus
From Hamburg to the toe of Italy
Seventy million subjects are mine,
Where prefects & monarchs exist simply
To carry out my will… one thing remains
Beyond control… if tomorrow I die
In battle, everything I have built up
Degenerates into dull nothingness,
I must, I must, I MUST, create an heir,
Else old crown’d heads crawl’d out from under rocks
Resume rotten regimes

Josephine
I’ll try again
The thermal spa at Plombieres-les-bains
Follow strict courses, tonics & potions,
Mineral baths & periodic rest.

Napoleon
These may restore your menses to full flow
But guarantees not your fertility,
Let us abandon contriving events
We both know beloft beyond redemption;
Such motions past, the people pressure me
To sire healthy successor sons, & soon!

Josephine
Then darling, there is one way that we may
Avoid the odium of forc’d rupture,
If it would ever please you so we could
Father a child with another woman,
& let me pretend pregnancy the while
She comes to term, & pay her handsomely

Napoleon
No, no, Doctor Covisart refuses
Anything to do with such proposals
Disclaiming it dishonorable deed!

Josephine
Harsh opinions may slay us, my love,
To circumvent draining situations
Still possible, maybe your family…

Napoleon
Impossible, each of them are unfit
Reprobates of royal insignia
Jerome is feckless, Pauline scandalous,
Incompetent scoundrels all the others,
Grown insubordinate, at drop of scarf
My throat to slash they would not hesitate
On making them monarchs they soon were up
Imagining t’were god who gave them thrones,
Not I, their one singular deity,
Swapping walking staffs for silver sceptres.

Josephine
Even upon the summit of greatness
Your ambition reaches greedy for clouds
In thy deepest distress I sense sea-change,
No longer am I indispensable
To the happinesses of my husband
Spurning the dedication of your wife
Your expressions of love are faltering
Your countenance alters to stern reason
My hour is come at last

Napoleon
Give me your hand
& let it press against my woeful heart,
Chastise the desperation of my blood,
The bleeds insensible on both our lives
Josephine, my excellent Josephine,
Thous knowest alone if I have loved thee,
To thee & thee alone I only owe
My happy moments in these mousetrap spheres,
But destiny overmasters my will
My dearest affections forc’d to silence
Before the best expectations of France


SIGNET DYNASTY

Napoleon
Josephine, Josephine
You & I were swans a-sail the silver stream
Germany, Italy,
We were set to seal our signet dynasty
All I ever wanted was your child
All I ever wanted was my, my, my, my

Jospehine
Napoleon, Napoleon
All I ever wanted was to sire your son
Every dress, every rose
I would swap them all for those 10 twinkle toes

All I ever wanted was my child
All I ever needed was your child
Let him run thro’ Malmaison piglet wild
All I ever wanted was my, my, my, my

Josephine
Many say Middle age
Is a time for one’s leisure
But I would sacrifice
Just to satisfy you
Come with me, let us lie
In the glow of our treasure
Make a son, raise him up
On our heavenly dew

Napoleon
Josephine, Josephine
You & I transcended all those kings & queens
I used to think my life’s truth
Was not to conquer empires
But to lie with you
But now our Signet Dynasty must fly from you
Has died in you…


Josephine
Sing – say – no more – for this I was prepar’d
But the blow lands no less mortal

Napoleon
My love
It must be done, all France calls for divorce

Josephine wails while rolling on the floor

Josephine
{beginning to weep}
Please God, no, I shall never survive it
You cannot do it, surely I’d be slain

Napoleon
Believe me, this does violence to my heart
But irrevocable the decision
You are the last obstacle to my reign
Nothing will move me, not prayers nor tears,
My resolve remains unalterable,
If fifty thousand men for France would die
For their fate, yes, I should certainly grieve
But still will feel that Reasons of the State
Must be my only consideration,
Reasons of State transcends all you can say
You must submit with good grace, for whether
You will or will not, I am determined.

Josephine
The People & the Papacy shall blame
The one who tramples down his holy vows
With callousness & cruelty so vain

Napoleon
The ceremony was irregular
Your parish priest witness’d not proceedings
& so our marriage legally dissolves

Josephine
{standing up}
You dare to shame me with the dross of law,
Withdraw the stamp of honour from our love
Confound & bruise me with your scorn & flout!
Our solemn oaths were heard by God’s first voice
Thro’ him all Christendom our rites did hear,
So many sacrifices I have made
Tho’ these were sweet because them made for you
These interests, you say, of France, they seem
A pretext to my poor immolation
Your dissembl’d gut-thirsting for glory
Which guided you to endless victory
Now urges you disasterwards

Napoleon
It does?
Perhaps it may, but I am driven on
By daemon or angel, I know not which,
Hounded & surrounded by tormentors
Squeezing on me unite with another
But I am only marrying a womb.

Josephine
You are, whose womb, the choice already made?

Napoleon
Yes, the arch-duchess, Maria-Louise

Josephine
That Hapsburg whore, how old is she?

Napoleon
Eighteen

Josephine
Eighteen! What? She is younger than Hortense

Napoleon
There are rubies worth a million francs
On the billiard table, your titles
Now Duchess of Navarre & Normandy

Josephine
You try & buy me off, make ME the whore

Napoleon
It has to be so, if ever I see
A child, Heaven knows I am envious
A deadly poison darts into my heart
On viewing rosy cheekpuffs of an infant,
Near joys of mothers, by hopes of fathers
Dwell I in androgynous barrenness

Josephine
Stop talking

Napoleon
It is true

Josephine
Please stop talking

Napoleon
You must listen –

Josephine
I said stop talking

Napoleon
But-

Josephine
Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah!

Josephine faints

Napoleon
Jospehine, my darling, I am sorry

Napoleon rushes to door. On opening it Hortense, Odette, Fleur Joseph & Achille fall in after listening at the door.

Hortense
Mother… what have you done Napoleon!?

Napoleon
She has had some sort of nervous attack

Hortense
Odette sniffing salts, Joseph, Achille,
Carry mother to her rooms, Fleur… hot tea!
Shame on you father

Napoleon
Just take her away

Josephine
{raising briefly from her feint}
Not so hard, you are holding me too tight

Josephine returns to her feigned faint


Marie Walewska

Scene 9: Malmaison, Dining Hall

Napoleon & Maria Walewska are together – the table is being set including soup by Achille & Joseph

Napoleon
Many thanks, Maria, for joining me,
Both you & Malmaison tender my heart
With soothing mists, denying harsher truths

Maria
I had to see you, Bonaparte, of course
Presenting tidings of our little child
Before flotsam tides of pernicious fate
Carry you forever from Europa,
With all of your enemies approaching,
With Prussians encroaching upon Versaille
Why dare dally, Paris too dangerous,
Protracted delayments may be fatal
I urge you with good reason to depart

Napoleon
Procrastinations are necessary
I intend to sail for America
Thus fresh victuals & passports must prepare,
But here we are safe until tomorrow,
We dine & talk like happy times of old.

Maria
In this house all the memories are hers

Napoleon
She dreamt of you, before we ever met
I got a letter in desperate script
Describing how I had fallen in love
With a Polish beauty, swift I replied
Do not be silly, then one week later
We collide in miraculous meeting.

Maria
I was a dove, you a swooping eagle
Came to your claws only for my country
The tyranny of Russia drove desire
I curs’d my enemies with our kisses
& still… three perfect weeks at Finkenstein
Forever follow by me, at strange times
Flashes of remembrance rustle my thoughts –
Our long field walks, our talks, our burning bed –
Awakening my sensuality,
Where moons conceal’d emotions in our moans
I grew into this elated fondness
Which sees me dedicated to your fate,
Until the passing of my final breath,
Your name the very last words on my lips.

Napoleon
But never love?

Maria
How could I be in love
With one who lov’d another, even now
We are prepar’d to settle for a meal
At the very table you once declar’d,
I’m sure, sweet Josephine your only love.

Napoleon
I was – I am – will always be in love
With you my pretty volcano, with you,
Once I was an acorn, then I was oak
Yet when I was an oak to all others,
I was glad to be an acorn to you,
Who drives the shadows back across the hills,
Angelical, furtively unselfish,
Your charm & your enchanting gentleness,
Connect me to a cosmos of content,
& glad your special qualities reside
With our young son, how is our little bird?

Maria
He is happy, healthy, in his prayers
He hopes his Papa Empereur is safe,
You should have married me & made him heir,
When you married the Austrian princess,
Whom I hate with redoubtable candour,
My heart grew darker than a moonless night.
Enter Hortense

Hortense
Madame Walewska, welcome to my home,
Father the rest of our dining party
Assembl’d, are you ready to receive?

Napoleon
Show them to their seats, sit here Maria,
Beside me, would you like a little soup?
{Napoleon tries the soup}
Take it away, this sea of frozen ice
It must be hot… hot-hot-hot-Hot-HOt-HOT!

Enter the rest of the party- Caulincourt, Lucien & Gourgaud

Caulaincourt
Your majesty

Napoleon
Gentlemen, welcome, sit

Hortense
{raising the food pots}
We shall have eggs; boiled, poached, broke in omelettes,
Beef fillets, broiled lamb-breasts, lentils & beans,

Caulaincourt
Delightful &, I am sure, delicious

The servants begin bringing out dishes of food – the diners choose what they wish & begin to eat

Maria
Malmaison seems so deserted these days
There are more pretty paintings than people

Lucien
But with Van Dyck, Holbein, Rembrandt, Rubens,
Leonardo, Titian, Raphael,
This is a sophisticated silence.

Napoleon
Indeed, in each a laurell’d memory
Of famous days of triumph… & how close
We were to adding to them, Waterloo!
Ah Waterloo! Such brutal, sluggish fight,
But a battle most inevitable
When they made me the king of that pebble
Within earshot of Parisian streets,
It seem’d as if they’d left unlock’d the cage,
My first hope came when I saw the gazettes
Where foolish King Louis insulted me
With rudest words unroyally spoken
In pamphlets & in private, losing friends,
That fat & gouty pile of impotence,
Who refuses to pay my pension! Non!
France did not choose to lose their Emperor
& have foisted on them an ousted king;
I am a man, and acting like a man
I felt I the need to show I was alive,
& so returned.

Caulaincourt
It was a joyous day!
The march you made from Antibes to Paris
Long-lined with celebrations never seen

Gourgaud
By the boldness and sheer audacity
Of your return to France you gave the lie
To those wiping noses in newspapers.

Napoleon
I left my fortune for war on Elba,
Methinks, forgotten in the secret flit,
One commonly, when looking at results,
Perceives what the person ought to have done,
My plan was working to perfection
The English and the Prussians were surprised
In their cantonments, & the conditions
All set to crush the Duke of Wellington,
I still envisage all advantages.
If only the day could be fought again!
If only Ney would not have hurl’d the horse
When I was absent from the field

Lucien
He lost
His head, a sense of past conduct impaired
His energy, however splendidly
Cuirassiers charge, without infantry
Marching in support, all won ground soon lost.

Gourgaud
His attack on La Haie-Sainte a mistake,
Repositioning my well-posted guns
Reduced vital efficiency of fire.

Napoleon
True… true… both Soult & Suchet better knew
My way of making war than e’er could Ney

Lucien
It was the impeccable discipline
Of the English that gained that deadly day
They advance thirty yards, halt, fire, go back,
Fire, and come thirty yards forward again,
Without breaking line, without disorder.

Napoleon
Poor France! to have been beaten, defeated
By those English rascals! Yes, it is true
The same sad thing happened at Agincourt
& Crecy before, but I was so certain
I should beat them, I had divined their plans,
& when at last had nail’d them to a field
They fought with unusual stubbornness,
Yet would have lost had Blucher not arrived.

Maria
I have heard that the Madame Hamelin
Thinks the Duke of Wellington talentless
& afraid of you, for once fortunate
& knows you would not lose a second time
Daring not risk his reputation so.

Napoleon
He will know, very well, he was lucky,
Regrets not for myself, unhappy France
With twenty thousand less of your soldiers
We should have won the battle, it was fate
That made me lose it.

Hortense
Dwell not on this defeat
Let us toast instead those majestic arms
Which carv’d an empire, gentlemen, to
France

All
To France

Maria
& to its shining emperor

Napoleon
The empire, O beautiful creation
Twenty-Eight millions, one grand nation,
We sent the revolution thro’ the world
When all would have been equal under me
Instead young men prefer’d to fight for kings
Who yoked them to unequal existence,
Led by the sly & obstinate bulldog
Reveal’d in Englishmen when interests
Of England at stake, robust patriots
They fight for their slavemasters, while Russia
Spews out countless peasants into armies
Manpower as prolific as the steppes!

Caulaincourt
Tis three years today we crossed the Neman

Napoleon
Three years, you say, what changes time has wrought

Hortense
Enough of solemn war-talk & regrets,
Posterity shall see your history
As if some supernatural romance,
The peals of praise shall evermore be yours,
Those fiery energies of youthful years,
Yielding to the magnificent progress
Of your irrisistable ambition,
Combining into visions of grandeur
As if you were a gift from heaven’s vaults.

Maria
You are indeed a greater man, when all
The lesser men & tumults of our age
Are pass’d away into oblivion,
Futurity shall dedicate these years
To your famous name of Napoleon.

Lucien
Remember, brother, you have transform’d France,
Imposing government that we desir’d,
Honest, efficient administration,
Guaranteeing the rules of free reason,
Designing law codes memorised by all,
Illuminating Parisian streets
With gas lamps, paving quais beside the Seine,
New harbours, canals, your poplar-lined roads,
You set examples to inspire our lives.

Napoleon
Yes… yes… bring the cheeses sil vous plait
But what use of my legacy to me
When I am not yet dead to celebrate
& cannot still decide on best passage
America has many assassins,
I may live longer among the English.

Armand-Augustin-Louis Caulaincourt

Caulaincourt
England, your enemies?

Napoleon
Yes, it tempts me
The Britons’ inviolable hearts deem
Sanctuaries of generosity,
I could find scenic rural seclusion
Ending my days gracious with nostalgia.

Lucien
I think it would be foolish in this clime
Of conquerors dictating to the French,
I have heard Blucher wants you delivered
To the Chateau at Vincennes, where the Duke
Of Enghien was shot, & the same spot
A pungent thought, a sordid phantasie
Better proceed you to America
Where Bolivars direct & ride the storms.

Napoleon
I need not resolute on this tonight
Instead to rest awhile & contemplate
Every angle drawn in my perception
Ruminating each expediancy –
The meal is done, I hope you found yours fine
If everyone could leave I wish to sit
Alone beside the fire, & with my thoughts.

While staff attend to clearing the table, everyone leaves saying ‘your majesty’ & ‘sire’

Maria
Shall I stay? Play a little vingt-et-un

Napoleon
I’d rather not, my love, my mind complains
To me each minute of pressing problems

Maria
You need not be alone, I’m here to share
All of your woes, even your exile, know
I’ll go where you go, flying on your flow.

Napoleon
I love you too much to put you thro’ such
Pain,

Maria
I understand… I’ll be in my rooms

Exit Maria, Napoleon is left standing alone staring into the fire


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

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

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Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

Malmaison: Scenes 6-7

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Scene 6: Malmaison, Josephine’s Bedroom

Josephine is sat at her dressing table. Odette is tinting her hair & smoothing it with cream. Fleur is powdering her face with white & rouge.

Josephine
I expect him any hour, the hero
Of Austerlitz returns to me tonight,
Not even death could still my flutter’d heart,
My love for His majesty must outlive
My breath, my body, & my faithful bones.

Odette
Today all France is aflame with his fame
& your name sing in celebration too
In company together you defy
The very bounds of Human endeavour

Fleur
As if the Holy Spirit moved on earth
& settl’d in two vessels good & pure
Inspiring us all clean beakers to be,
So when your essence pours into our hearts
We too shall know a hint of the divine

Enter Napoleon, undressing quickly, throwing his great coat on the floor & placing his hat on a chair

Napoleon
Josephine, queen effigy of passion,
I am returned to sweep you to the seas
That deep across your bed entranquil’d lie,
But first we shall open every portal,
Draw in the air which God made for us all.

Josephine
You startle me, darling, but I am glad
To see you here, come press these waiting lips
To yours, & hold me tight as my husband.

They embrace, exit the maids.

Napoleon
Come let us stand together at the bay,
The evening drips a gorgeous net of stars,
The peace in your presence a thousand miles
From those starch’d fields about the Pratzen Heights
Where I became the best of emperors,
A masterpiece of cunning deception
Put paid to ill-conceiv’d alliances,
Ill-omen’d, grandiose, a ratsbane rout,
With one sharp blow the war was over, won
By brutal logic of the bayonet,
Triumph more clear than Ceasar ever saw.

Josephine
For you, I am as overjoyed as June
When roses grace long days, but did you think
Of me, my dear, when victory was yours,
Your little Josephine?

Napoleon
Of nothing else,
In the midst of military affairs
At the head of my troops, inspecting camps,
Over my heart an adorable sway
Is held by an image of your sweet face,
Alive in my mind as if it were real,
A mind you possess undisputedly
Engrossing all thought.

Jospehine
This cheers me to hear,
Your absences manifest as sickness
I cannot keep you from my intellect
Trampling serenity with hardest hooves.

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Napoleon
Forgive me, empress, all I do I do
For you, my captivated faculties
Focus every conscious iota
Into & onto you, oblivion
Strikes me when we part, deadly sense of death,
There is no survival for me, except
In you – condemn’d to live thro’ Josephine
That was, that is, the story of my life.

Josephine
That may be so, but tell me, mon cherie,
Tell me you were not abed with strumpets,
Perhaps some young actress of Vienna,
Distracting with assumption of beauty.

Napoleon
Please put no faith in jackal rumours spread,
Never doubt the reach of deepest feelings,
I love only my little Josephine –
Kindly, sulky, capricous – who quarrels
As gracefully as does she all things else;
& adorable always, excepting
When she screams suspicion, then she becomes
A regular devil.

Josephine
Could you betray
All that we are when we are led unclothed
In bed, in love, in passion’s pilgrim shrine.

Napoleon
Betray you? You betray me with such doubts,
I love with a love beyond the limits
Of imagination, all my minutes
Of living life are yours, consecrated,
I’ve never thought of another woman
When private in my mind & paused from war,
They lack – in my eyes – beauty, wit & grace
You alone & all of you, as I see
You as you are – only you can please me,
Absorbing all the faculties of soul;
You pervade mine to its furthest reaches;
There is no corner of my open heart
You do not see, there is no thought of mine
Which prospers insubordinate to you,
The day on which you change or cease to live
Would be my day of death.

Josephine
Dear Bonaparte
You are so dramatic – but I love it.

Napoleon
The world is only beautiful because…

Josephine
It is I who inhabit it

Napoleon
Quite true,
You must believe me else do not love me.

Josephine
Aha! It is the man who takes a sulk,
Come to my breast ye mighty warrior,
I barely slept to think you in the field
With all those guns & bullets.

Napoleon
I could feel
Your worries, some rare magnetic fluids
Flow between persons who love each other.

Josephine
I always want to see me in your eyes
As you desire me now, I shall remain
Devoted to your love & happiness.

Napoleon
I am in love & I am very happy
A banquet of excitable moods
Wondering what my precious victory
Could achieve, in our day no-one conceives
Anything great – we can set examples,
Balancing for good the nation’s budget,
Design a law code memorised by all,
Illuminate the night-streets of Paris
With gas lamps, pave the quais beside the Seine,
& best of all erect a marble arch
Surmounted by the horses of Saint Mark’s,
Perpetuate the glory of our arms
For all who visit Paris evermore.

Josephine
Forget those arms, let these arms curl caress
Across your chest, then let these tresses fall
Asplash your face as I descend a kiss,
Come swiftly to my bed, come lie with me,
& see how much of comfort it can bring.

Napoleon
I will, I thought of nothing else, but first,
Let us discuss occasional reports
Of wanton, boundless generosity
Indiscriminate, restless & impulsive,
You never wear a pair of stockings twice,
The smallest party merely an excuse
To order some new dress, in one season
You flit from polka dots to lacy ruffs,
You waste your life deciding what to wear,
So much discussion; petticoats, dresses,
Golden gowns cover’d in ostrich feathers,
Thirty-eight hats in September alone,
Cashmere shawls, silver slippers…

Josephine
Yes, so what?
I am Empress – you are the Emperor,
Do not impinge on my duties & I
Shall not impinge on yours, together we
Will complement each other & our roles;
I master curriculi you send me
Of Europe’s courts I know the hiostory,
Including boring genealogies
Of all those royal houses, I am not
Ideal, but whenever we are present
At gatherings of crown’d & coquette heads,
I never put a foot or eyelash wrong.

Napoleon
Well I appreciate your elegance,
Your magnificence on state occasions,
Attending grand galas especially,
But darling you are drowning under bills,
If anybody asks you won’t refuse,
You scatter pensions like them chicken feed,
Only supersceded by your spending
On shoes – if somebody shows you something,
You buy it then forget at once what bought,
Because all this has made common knowledge
Your waiting rooms teem with panting merchants,
Tongues dribbling out vastly inflated sums.

Josephine
But all of them, they are so very good
At what they make, I can never summon
Up the courage to turn just one away.

Napoleon
If sometimes I refuse to pay your bills ,
It is because you are so much imposed
Upon by tradesmen, & thus I cannot
Conscientiously sanction abuses…
I know about the necklace, Bourrienne
Gave me exact & staggering figures,
One million, two hundred thousand francs!

Josephine
{obtaining necklace from her table}
But look at it, so pretty in the light
Of morning, then better by candlelight,
Could you put it on me, around my neck,
You have always wish’d for me to dazzle,
Yet when I spend a little more than norm
You reproach me with Corsican tantrums,
I do not throw phantastical parties
Or run up millions at the tables,
I am no thrifty Marie Antionette
Nor Madame du Barry, she gladly made
A diamond necklace for her yappy dog,
I do it all for love, & love of you.

Napoleon
You charm me yet again, I shall repent,
Hanging divinely on your perfect neck
Let your necklace adorn my victor’s ball
Tonight at the giddy Tuilerries.

Josephine
We are the oddest couple you & I
Nature has made you strong & resolute,
While I am lace & gauze, I sail a swan
You fly an eagle

Napoleon
So perfect a thing!
We two have more in common than you think
We are both outliers & islanders
My Corsica, your little Martinique,
You brought it with you, stole my wintry heart
Its warmth & seductiveness fills your eyes.

Josephine
I see it in reflection

Napoleon
Kiss my lips…

Napoleon & Josephine kiss


INTRINSIC LOVERS

I won’t lie I dont care,
I’ll sing until the world’s aware
I feel pride by your side,
When we are sharing pleasure domes together
Together

& its true, I feel blue,
When I’ve been forced to part from you,
But I’m back to my bride
You know I am you saw I am
We’re living to your higher plan
Im/you’re woman to your/my man

Cos you’re the lover
I’ve always been dreaming of

I sing songs I say psalms
I’m tingling to your tender charms
& this world becomes ours
When two intrinsic lovers come together
Together

We’ve align’d in our minds
Cos this is destiny’s design,
Our fate fell from the stars
You know it would, you saw it would,
The glory your womanhood
Is glowing/flowing in/thro my blood

Cos you’re the lover
I’ve always been dreaming of

The world is unworthy of
The majesty of your throne
Come lie by my side my love
This bed is so cold alone

I love you Napoleon
I love you dear Josephine
I hate it when you are gone
But now you’ve come back to me

Cos you’re the lover…


Scene 7: Malmaison, Napoleon’s Apartments

The secretaries Marcel & Chapentier are setting their desks – enter secretary Desmarais

Desmarais
Good morning gentlemen, I am Jean-Claude.

Marcel
Good Morning – will you be working with us?

Desmarais
I shall.

Marcel
Are you a stenograph?

Desmarais
I am
Sufficient – is there anything to know?

Chapentier
You’ll need to be as fast as hunted fox.

Marcel
Rapidity the order of the day,
Ability to differentiate
For whom the dictation is essential,
He possesses a mind like no other,
His memory furnishes him with all
He needs when commanding written discourse,
He compares it to a furniture piece
Composed of a great number of drawers,
Pulls out the one which each new moment needs,
The classification of everything
Is done as if automatically,
Nothing remains but to utter the words.

Desmarais
Are we to transcribe any of his notes?

Chapentier
The Emperor is too hyperactive
To write himself, & even when he does
Tho’ his first lines are passably composed,
Those that follow are illegible,
One very much accustomed has to be
To the form of his letters, of his words,
To the way they run together, then hope
To divine meanings in a hieroglyph,
Producing a decipher, more or less,
Counterpoising with clarity acute .

Marcel
I can never make out his strange letters,
He writes like a cat, one deranged at that.

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Enter Napoleon in a dressing gown & leather slippers

Napoleon
Good morning gentlemen, how are we all?

Marcel
We are well your majesty

Chapentier
Very well

Napoloen
{pinching ears}
My rascal scribes, it is always wondrous
To see you, reminding me, above all,
That I am still alive… & who is this?

Desmarais
I am Monsieur Desmarais, Your Majesty.

Napoleon
Where are you from?

Desmarais
Five miles from Avignon.

Napoleon
I thought you were Provencal… very well
Let us begin, Marcel take the soldiers
& disputation to the deputies,
Chapentier the letter to my wife
In which the King of Rome shall hear my voice,
Young Desmarais, the English Regent, yours;
All four are more than vital, but before
Commencing, let me take a little snuff.

Napoleon takes out an oval snuff box made of tortoise shell lined with gold – on the cover is a silver portrait of the King of Rome, set in a circle of gold. He takes a sniff.

Napoleon
Men of the Provisional Government,
Disasters quake, but these we shall resist,
The enemy is on our native soil,
I propose my return to the army
To take advantage of any errors
The enemy commits, for I expect
To stimulate the national honour,
If all we do is argue all is lost,
Let not the fate Byzantium be ours;
My darling wife, empress Marie-Louise,
Do you remember the road to Soissons,
When first we met, from romantic meeting
Sprung the King of Rome – precious, perfect child,
How fares he now, I think of him each day,
Thro’ saddening times of strenuous strain,
The army has been exterminated,
The mood among the Representatives
More hostile than ever, I never should
Have come to Paris… To my dear soldiers
I have yielded to necessity,
& tho’ command no more our brave army,
I take away the happy certainty
That it will justify, by eminent
Service, all that the nation will expect;
To my gracious enemy of twenty years,
The most powerful, the most generous,
Your Royal Highness, I am made victim
To the factions distracting my country,
I live for peace & when I terminate
My political career, my true hope
Is to throw myself like Themistocles
Upon the gracious hospitality
Of Britisher civility & laws…
Exactly & precisely how they were
She preserves my apartments, as if I
Were still her dear husband…

Desmarais
Your majesty?

Marcel
Learn to differentiate

Chapentier
Between the Emperor’s thoughts & his words

Napoleon
Where was I? O yes… sweet Marie Louise,
What brilliant qualities adorn you,
Inspiring me with a desire to serve
You, your father, our nations & our child,
Despite the trying nature of these days,
I shall strive with an Assyrian will
To bring us back together in one heart
& on our kisses crown the God of bliss;
Soldiers of France, I follow all your steps,
With just a few more efforts from each corps
The coalition of our enemies
Will inevitably droop & dissolve,
Napoleon will recognise you all
Thro’ breathless blows yet struck, save the honour,
The independence of France & remain
To the very end, as I have known you
These twenty years past, the invincible.

Enter Gourgaud, Caulaincourt & Lucien

Gourgaud
My God, am I such a man to be born
To see my emperor a prisoner
Of his people at pretty Malmaison.

Napoleon
Gourgaud, Caulincourt… brother Lucien.

Lucien
How are you keeping?

Napoleon
Things could be better.

Général_baron_Gaspard_Gourgaud

Gaspard Gourgaud

Gourgaud
With your permission, sire, I shall assume
Command of the Gaurd, we shall take careful
Watch over the safety of your person.

Caulaincourt
While you remain in France, he means to say,
The country no longer can sustain you.

Gourgaud
Our enemies declared this current war
On you, a single person, & not France,
The nation must now be seperated
From Napoleon, you are all that stands
Between France & peace, a fresh new breeze blows,
Tho’ fidelity is not in question,
Our duty now is the welfare of France.

Lucien
The tide has turned against you, & the sea
It seems has chained the next in captive waves

Caulaincourt
We travell’d, sire, to the Pont de Neuilly,
The bridge was barricaded so I inch’d
Along the parapet, then found a chaise
& drove it on to the Tuileries;
The commision of government was sat
In council, Fouche was most astonish’d
To see me, I read out your last letter,
Inform’d them of patriotic duty
In demanding your presence at their head,
But Fouche’s reply, rebuking candour,
Complain’d of imposts & grave vexations.

Napoleon
Enough, how can they want to overthrow
The government, when mortal enemies
Snarl at the gates, the Representatives
Opposing me are thick, ungrateful swine,
I showered them with honours & treasures
Now all they do is swivel backs & grunt.

Lucien
The paths to power beyond redemption,
Your fate away from France & Paris lies,
I have already asked Decres to find
Two frigates to place at your disposal.

A silent pause descends for a while

Napoleon
There will be civic bloodshed if I stay,
I must not wade in blood, and be abhorred,
Far better to offer abdicatio
In favor of my son, all my glories
Concentrated in him, and leave the rest
Handling present difficulties themselves,
Then they will see it was not I alone
The Allies wished destroy’d, but all of France!

Lucien
To abdicate once more your wisest course,
Your legacy ensured, despite the pain.

Napoleon
If I must go then gentlemen obtain
The necessary vitals of the road,
Gourgaud, go to the kennels at Versaille,
At stag-hoof speed, ask there for sporting guns,
Marcel, Charpentier &… Desmarais,
Deliver your letters, I have finished,
But let me sign them first, who has a pen?

Charpentier gives Napoleon a pen – he signs the letters

Napoleon
Now everybody leave but Lucien

Marcel & Charpentier
Your majesty

Caulaincourt
Sire

Gourgaud
Sire

Desmarais
Your majesty

Exit all but Napoleon & Lucien

Napoleon
Take a pen, Lucien, are you ready?

Lucien
I am, but what for?

Napoleon
My abdication…
Frenchmen! Tho’ I commenc’d the recent War,
Maintaining national independence,
I relied on the total union
Of all our efforts, of all our desires,
In which all French authorities concur,
I had reason to hope for great success,
Braving all the Allied Declarations,
But circumstances appear to have chang’d,
My political life is terminated;
& I proclaim my son Napoleon
The Second, the Emperor of the French,
Under him, & for the public safety,
Let all unite, in order to remain
The independent nation we adore.

Napoleon takes the pen from Lucien, signs the abdication & leaves the room. Lucien follows.

Second_abdication_act_of_Napoleon-IMG_0525.JPG


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

Malmaison: Scenes 3-5

Hortense_de_beauharnais.jpg

Hortense de Beauharnais


Scene 3: Malmaison, Josephine’s bedroom

Hortense & a maid, Fleuer, are cleaning

Hortense
You must dust underneath the porcelain,
How the fussiness flies from Bounaparte,
No speck of dust, no crease in the linen,
No particle seem alter’d in this room
From how my mother leaves it as she died.

Enter Odette

Odette
His majesty has just arrived your grace.

Hortense
Mon Dieu, how does he look, how does he fare?

Odette
He pales fatigue, madame, but looks relieved.

Hortense
Thank-you Odette, continue here with Fleur.

Exit Hortense

Fleur
I do not wish to see the Corsican,
My father left to rot in Syria,
His sons – my brothers – slaughter’d by Cossacks,
Soldiers devoured as fast as they were made,
My husband was slain at La Rothiere,
& of my sons who rush’d into the ranks,
This recent insanity’s insistence,
There is no word, I fear the very worst.

Odette
I too have borne my share of grief & loss,
But still emit the beautiful belief
That all will settle right, when all who died
To make France great should not have died in vain.

Fleur
They died, Odette, both in, & for, the vain.


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Scene 4: Malmaison, Front of House

Napoleon is with Lucien & Caulaincourt, preparing to enter the house / Hortense bursts thro’ the door

Napoleon
Hortense!

Hortense
Welcome home, father, welcome home!

Napoleon
Let us embrace as in those happy times
When all we will’d was magical & good,
Your winding arms comfort like dawn’s first rays,
Your happy face fair proof I am alive,
But tired… I shall remain some few days hence.

Hortense
We can decorate all to your own taste,
So you may think in peace how to proceed
With present universitalities.

Napoleon
No, leave things be, her memories are best.

Hortense
If you so wish… but what of recent wars?
Reports harangue conflicted; some say won,
Some say well beat, some even say you’re dead.

Napoleon
Here is a great event! A battle lost,
My soldiers were performing prodigies,
So tough & lustful, cheering every breath,
Facing the English on a tiny field
We ran them into ragged remnancy,
Six of their flags were ours, but old Blucher
Outwitted Grouchy in a day’s pursuit
& roll’d along our flanks in deadly fire,
Malicious elements cried in panic
Until we lost cohesion every point.

Lucien
These events can hardly be called your fault,
Your commanders were not the same soldiers
As those who fought for France at Austerlitz,
No, they are faint of heart, & think war sport,
Go flitting between fear & foolishness,
The Gaurd, with Lannes or Bessi at its head,
Would not have been defeated.

Napoleon
Yes, perhaps…
I now know how I march’d a month too soon,
This Grand Armee lack’d true consistency,
But let us re-enact the war no more,
Too late to ruminate on matters pass’d,
The present presses in relentelessly,
Someone tell me of the mood in Paris,
What of the salon gossip, do you know?

Hortense
All along the avenue Marigny,
At the Elysee, there were handsome groups,
Standing before the palace in full throat,
Shouts of ‘Vive L’Empereur’ were well heard,
Wich soldiers echoed back with happy hearts.

Lucien
Why not fight on, lead armies to the Loire,
Rallying all with a single slogan,
La patrie en danger!

Napoleon
Still they cheer me?
The appetite last year was not for war,
But twelve more months of the fat Bourbon kings
Sticking their snouts in Republican troughs,
Has taught them who is better for the throne,
Let us declare a war of survival,
Announce that I will never sign a peace
As long as enemies trample Gallic soil
With booted footsteps of its soldiery.

Caulaincourt
If I may interject, Your Majesty
The enemy is legion, & possess
The border fortresses, the Prussians press
At Compeigne already.

Napoleon
Compeigne?
But that is only forty miles away!
Inform the chambers of my willingness
To resume the command of the army,
There must be eighty-thousand troops to hand,
Yes, thirty-thousand more than in Fourteen,
When I held off the armies of three states –
Russia, Prussia, Austria – three whole months
Eighty thousand is forty-five thousand
More than cross’d the Great Saint Bernard Pass –
We can defend Paris for many years,
Until our foes are thoroughly repulsed.

Lucien
We must persist, we must resist, levee
En masse, like Ninety-Three, the peasantry;
All men are soldiers, sire, sound the trumpet,
The Spanish did it to our very selves
They drove us back to France at pitchfork point,
Bolstered by handfuls of regular troops
Commanded by a lesser mind than yours –
Let fields & orchards, farmyards & churches
Become part of the fortress that is France,
Protracted war will stickle in the throat,
Of those who thought the French would merely lie
Down at their feet, prostrate, like panting dogs.

Caulaincourt
There is a problem, sire, the Deputies
Are turning in their chamber, mostly turn’d
By Fouche, who says you are a tyrant,
Your second abdication by them call’d,
It is a sordid spectacle to see.

Napoleon
Then the Chamber I shall simply dissolve,
Thro’ prosperties they crawled at my heels
Like bodiless creations, to act now
With strength, resembling my authority,
Is merely flashing mirrors from my will.

Caulaincourt
The Chamber only yesterday decreed
If anybody dared them to dissolve,
They shall be deem’d a traitor to all France.

Napoleon
All France? All France! All France belongs to me,
I should have had that scoundrel Fouche hang’d,
Incredulous he even dares to speak!
Who is he that invokes the Tricolor
Who France fled when I went off to Elba,
Who owes me his own return to Paris,
& while his feet are kicking weightless air
I’ll fling a number of the Deputies
Into the Seine, & have the Chambers closed,
Just like Cromwell.

Caulaincourt
Alas, your Majesty,
All this should lead to bloody anarchy
Do you have courage for the guillotine
& a legacy like Robespierre?

Hortense
Gentlemen, let us from this talk divert,
This was my mother’s house, as well you know,
For war & politics she ground no salt,
& commanders best left from decisions
When sheerest exhaustion abstruses mind,
We have prepared hot waters for him here,
Better that he has bath’d before them cool’d.

Napoleon
Agreed, relaxing baths worth four hours sleep,
I’ll take one now & then a little food.

Exit Napoleon taking off his gloves, he is watched in
silence.


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Scene 5: Malmaison, Gardens

Hortense is in the garden pruning Roses, singing an air.
Enter Napoleon in casual clothes.

Napoleon
I recognise that song, from Aquitaine?

Hortense
It is father, how was your food, your bath?

Napoleon
They conjur’d revitalising essence,
I was an ocean’s weary, three full days
Lacking food of any substance, nor sleep
Dared visit me with blanket tenderness,
Delirious of Malmaison I dream’d,
This chateaux blesses comfort in my smiles,
It should be a merry dish of delights
If I could end my days entranquil’d here.

Hortense
Malmaison is your home, your majesty

Napoleon
It never was, no, always your mother’s,
This elegant, heavenly enterprise,
That now is yours, & legally bestow’d.

Hortense
Paperwork… it is yours via manna
Of existence, as ancyent Celtic gods
Are eterniz’d by name in sacred groves,
Malmaison shall frame Human memories
Of Josephine & her Napoleon!
Stay as long as you like, but with plain speech
Your safety is of issue paramount,
The Prussians close on Paris hour on hour

Napoleon
Let us not fret on matters such as these,
We are safe today, & for tomorrow,
Time enough to take delight in nature,
How are your mother’s flowers? Summer’s heat
Provides life when, vibrating in their terms,
Each flower like a censer fumes, perfumes
The air with such a melancholy waltz.

Hortense
They prosper well as always, & I feel
Inebriated with their sheer beauty,
Exotic blooms of June, sweetly breathing,
Mass’d rhododendrons rambling by jasmine,
& roses of every shade & species.

Napoleon
She loved them so, adored their inspection,
Her loveliest roses would bloom for weeks,
The future’s garden lovers, I am sure,
Will praise her extension of loveliness
From petal-days to month-long majesty.

Hortense
She was a master-mistress of her craft,
No guild could teach her what she breath’d inside,
But those are flowers, father, this is life
As every second sends its urgencies,
Where will you go? Perhaps America
A fine letter from Eliza Jummel
Reach’d me, she & her husband shall prepare
A royal residence to woo New York.

Napoleon
Considerations I shall give to this,
My destiny might be accomplish’d there,
Making amends to my posterity,
Dedicated devotee of science,
From Atlantic sound to Pacific rim
I could cross that vast & fantastic land,
Studying physical phenomena,
From botany to planetary spheres.

Hortense
As one door closes, opens another,
If remaining salutationally
Determined, insurmountable hardship
Crumbles… labours persevered undaunted
Overhaul even broken destiny!

Napoleon
My destiny ruptured when we parted,
Your mother & I, my life’s large regret,
So strange that this fair chateaux which witness’d
Scenes of indescribable triumph, sees
Disaster never known by any man,
& she – she is absent – her tenderness
Could soothe fury.

Hortense
I cannot take her place,
But sympathies solicited still yours,
I sense exactly how she would have felt,
In flummox-flux at her unhappiest.

Napoleon
Your mother was the true guide of my life,
The one who taught me fluency of love,
The love I bare for Maria-Louise
Is familial, you do understand?
No-one removes Josephine from my heart,
Within its lonely beats she sits in state.

Hortense
I understand, but it pains me to hear
The name & source of your separation.

Napoleon
She never was the source, never the cause,
At work were forces dampening constraint,
An incredible empire to preserve;
On looking back… wiser, unvisor’d eyes
Acknowledge how my fate was built for her
Whose face I see, whose form goes where I roam,
Strolling paths, applauding in theatres,
Her irrisistabilty haunts me,
The most enchanting being I have known,
Vivacious & vivid in every sense,
She was a woman to her fingertips.

Hortense
I miss her fashion, father, her passion
For elegance, to look her best, empress
Excuisitor.

Napoleon
The fairest in all France,
No painter ever captured her beauty,
For hers the deftest beauty of movement;
She was the most glittering ornament
Of empire, & this garden sings her style,
Best stage & setting of our better times.

Hortense
I, too, cannot abide this fragrant place,
Without wondering if, any moment,
She might appear in happy finery
Pricking along the paths, plucking flowers.

Napoleon
With what sad tears she water’d all her blooms

Hortense
I disagree, Malmaison her happiness,
These gardens were your union’s children,
Your nurseries these lush, umbrageous grounds.

Napoleon
Such well-will’d words are wounding me too much,
Let us stroll instead as did your mother
& I, so many times.

Hortense
Of course father
{they link arms & head off thro’ the gardens}
Do you remember dining al fresco
Upon the lawns on warm summer evenings,
Talking about science, literature,
The supernatural, female attire…

Napoleon
I do, & after, on a path like this,
New plants would we admire & sometimes gaze
On recent vistas open’d thro’ the trees,
When doing so my political life
Evaporated like the early dew
That forms bright pearls upon the ageless grass.


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

Malmaison: Scenes 1-2

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Scene 1: The Fields of Waterloo

The battle is going badly for the French, many of whom are fleeing the field. Napoleon is in discussion with Gourgaud, Darrican and Hulin. Cannonballs and bullets falling around them.

Gourgaud
La Garde recule!

Napoleon
The Garde, ridiculous!

Gourgaud
Stand, Boys!

Darrican
Save the Eagles!

Napoleon
Vive la France!

Enter Hulin

Hulin
The Old Gaurd broken, our hopes are all gone,
The moon uprisen, & the day is lost!
At Papelotte, Hougoumont, La Haye Saint,
The army gives up ground on every side,
Like a thaw it cracks & floats & rolls off,
Flailing in confusions & collisions,
An awful mass of panicking soldiers,
Casting muskets & knapsacks into wheat,
Officers, even generals, ignor’d,
& worst of all the portal of retreat
Is closing every second, Plancenoit
Is lost, our fifteen thousand overwhelm’d
By twice that number, swelling each second,
Only the Chasseurs of the Guard delay
The seizure of the vital Brussels road,
Sire, sire! You have no choice, please extricate
Your person from this scene of acrid carnage.

og-napoleon-waterloo.ngsversion.1565877905340.adapt.1900.1.jpg

Napoleon
What is this mad, malevolent panic,
That like a poison penetrates the lines?
Where are Marshall Grouchy’s thirty thousand?
Where is that vain, reckless romancer Ney?

Gourgaud
He is there, waving tattered epaulettes,
Ordering volleys of comfortless shot,
He is bleeding, muddy, magnificent,
Waving his broken sword as he recalls
& insults soldiers, even as they flee
They are shouting, ‘long live brave Marshall Ney!’

Napoleon
The Bravest of the Brave? The Fool of Fools!
Tho’ frightening the English from their wits,
A cavalry charge without infantry
Is folly of the lunatic kind,
On this terrible day of destiny
My talon’d wildcats transmorph to children,
But if I am to die it will be here
With my men, by their side, sharing the toil.

Darrican
No, sire, you must escape the battlefield,
France cannot lose you, sire, for you are France.

Gourgaud
You must leave at once.

Hulin
Your horse is ready.

Napoleon
Very well, better to be in Paris,
To organise the national defence.

Napoleon is led from the field by the marshalls.
He passes an old soldier who looks at him
open-mouthed, with no love

Soldier
Flee, wet chicken cur, coward recreant!
Leaving infants naked for the leopards –
Across the Earth I followed you in love,
Much more than brothers were we all in arms
Affections spent unearthly, devoted
To your very name; only this morning
I thought it was divine, but now it falls
Like sleet upon my ears, numbing & cold,
Heart freezing tears before the drops can fall
Into into this murd’rous sea of blood & mud.

The soldier is bayoneted by an English redcoat


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Scene 2: Malmaison, Josephine’s Bedroom

Josephine enters with Napoleon, covering his eyes with her hands.

Josephine
And this… keep them closed… this… is my bedroom

Napoleon
Incredible, those swans almost divine!

Josephine
I like to think we two are one bevvy,
Celebrated by synchronicities,
& mates for life.

Napoleon
Let us make a signet
Or six, & christen these slick, silken sheets,
I imagin’d them just so this morning,
I have a thousand kisses readying,
Kisses for your eyes, your lips, your shoulders,
I am utterly, unboundenly yours.

Josephine
Bonaparte, Bonaparte, be patient please,
Your tour of Malmaison yet incomplete,
Step with me to the window bay to gaze
On grounds Arcadian, much neglected
Since the Revolution, but potential!
Such potential! I have dreamt of roses,
Three hundred acres of woods, lawns, vineyards
& Rueill – see its smoke – a fine village;
Examine all apsects of this prospect,
Just think of it, Malmaison soon could be
Your royal court amid the countryside.

Napoleon
It could, yes, that may be, but let me show
You something, something much more beautiful,
Step gently to this mirror’s length to gaze
On the beauty of Madame Bonaparte,
Do you see?

Josephine
I do… I wore white for you
You love me in white, I know

Napoleon
If it was
To please me you succeed – what beauty dwells
{rearranging Josephine’s flowers in her hair}
In special auras glowing aslant moon
& stars & skies; your almond-lidded eyes,
Like melted amber, by long lashes guarded,
Unleash resistless forces on my soul.

Josephine
Resistless force? That force, I fear, is you,
The brilliant general of our day
Returning from Syria & Egypt,
Who somehow still has energy to spare
For my coiffure.

Napoleon
I am full devoted
To your hair, your body, your everything.

Josephine
Later, love, let us dine tonight, & then…

Napoleon
Tonight! But what passion boils inside me,
The lava of my love for you explodes,
Erupting at the touchstone of your looks,
Your kisses set my blood on fire, your sweetness
Melts my heart, the poet stirs within
Primordial, like a wild animal.

Josephine
Tonight! There is dignity in waiting,
It is time to show you the gallery,
Where paintings you issued from Italy
Bedeck the walls with bounty beauteous.

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Napoleon
Will there be any portraits of yourself?
Between such images & memories
Of intoxicating nights together
I have no respite, incomparable
Josephine, your existence consumes me,
Your spirit overwhelms my heart profoundly.

Josephine
I always want to see the tenderness
In your eyes, as you desire for me now,
My life was ordain’d for your happiness,
Whenever you are sorrow’d lay your hands
Upon these breasts, here salver’d solace yours,
Tho’ we are like the poles – apart in ways,
Entwining we make a perfect planet!

Napoleon
I will conquer countries while you’ll woo hearts,
My own beats testament to your powers,
It is Josephine who inspires my days,
The poets call them muses, you possess
Excuisiteness, decorative darling,
My entire being quickens before thee,
My inner mystic, lain in embryo,
Shaken alive by love so real, so true.

Josephine
Yet so tainted

Napoleon
We shall speak no more of Hippolyte Charles

Josephine
You are the first beholder of my shame,
He is dead to me now, my bewilder’d
State, strange delirium, fuddl’d by fate,
I hated being goddessean object
Of fascination, such adoration,
My spirit unsuited to submissives.

Napoleon
I am more harden’d now, Egyptian heat
Has baked my heart into a brick of clay,
My vanities by Syria were purg’d,
I never should have attempted the East,
Being fortunate to extract myself,
The folly’s karma equalised by you,
Driven into the arms of another,
So very far away, I understand.

Josephine
My indiscretion was an insane play,
Vainglorious succubus swerv’d my brain
Whose dreams are full of you, a scar has form’d,
Smiting conscience with a deep penitence!

Napoleon
All soldiers have their scars, I have mine too;
This thigh reflects an English bayonet,
Delivered as I triumph’d at Toulon,
The other from our wedding day, a bite
From your dog, but the pain is forgotten,
All that remains are feelings of glory
In victories of lovemaking & war,
The memories of our nuptial night
Drop like clear heaven gleaming thro’ a pearl.

Josephine
We share a love, full-form’d, unlike those loves
Of ordinary glaze, speak of what girl
In all the world who’d fail to take great pride
Being the motivating influence
Of martial arms marching unto glory.

Napoleon
Believe me when I say you march with us,
The designator of our providence,
Watching proceedings, blessing bravest feats,
When only as I win my battlefields,
Am I releas’d to hurry to your arms.

LUCKY STAR

Napoleon
You’re my lucky star
You’re my lucky star
I see that you shine for me when I travel too far
You look so amazing, yeah, with your lazar chrome
Whenever you shine for me you’re gonna guide me home

Napoleon
This star of mine she shines
Only when I’m lost sometimes

Jospehine
I have a vision, ascertain
When you’ve gone & lost your way again
Gonna light the night my lovely one
So you can make your own way to the sun

Napoleon
You’re my lucky star
You’re my lucky star
I see that you shine for me when I travel too far
I know you’ll always be with me, where-ever I roam
Whenever you shine for me ya gonna guide me own

Napoleon
This star of mine she shines
Only when I’m lost sometimes

Josephine
I have a vision, ascertain
When you’ve gone & lost your way again
Gonna light the night my lovely one
So you can make your own way to the sun

Napoleon
Living your life aint easy
If you’ve traveled off to far
But when I look up to the skies
I see exactly where you are
Beacause you are, oh yes you are
You’re my lucky star

Napoleon
This star of mine she shines
Only when I’m lost sometimes
sometimes
sometimes
sometimes


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