The Objects

10th Jul 1815

Source: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich, with permission.

The Germans let their hair down

Contributed by: Katherine Hambridge

Current affairs were generally subject to musical satire (as in the French vaudevilles shown on 12 April and 13 May) and Waterloo, even with its tragic loss of life, was no different. One light-hearted South German response to the battle was simply titled a 'Komisches Jubellied', a comic celebration song.

The words were written to a tune from a smash-hit Singspiel – that is, a popular German language-opera – that premiered in 1793 in Vienna: Das neue Sonntagskind. A drinking song in the opera, 'Wer niemals einem Rausch gehabt', the number was quickly extracted from its stage setting to become a popular drinking song offstage too.

The text written for the tune in 1815 (given and translated in 'Further Information') recounts the final defeat of Napoleon through the main protagonists - Napoleon, Wellington and Blücher - with the Emperor referred to by a number of titles that both emphasise and make light of the threat he had posed to Germans over the last 15 years: 'ogre' ('Menschenfresser'), 'my good Bartel', the 'almighty emperor', the 'proud pharaoh'. This irreverence extends to the humourous, sometimes scatological, tone of the song: Napoleon not only gets his nose burnt by Wellington, but his flight from the allies apparently caused him to defecate with fright.

The language is similarly informal, making use of a number of Southern idioms that are difficult to translate now: the somewhat obscure last 2 lines, translated roughly as 'Soon we’ll celebrate the peace-feast/ Good riddance to it all', suggest that the tune had retained its function as a drinking song.

Geolocation

‘Komisches Jubellied’ You can listen to a performance of the song here: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/modernlanguages/research/french/currentprojects/napoleonictheatre/100daysconcert

Hellauf! mit frohem Rundgesang
Stimmt alle fröhlich ein,
Der Bonapart wird nimmer lang
Der Menschenfresser seyn;
Verlohren ist sein ganzer Spaß
Jetzt gehts aus einem andern Faß.

Kaum kam er so mit gutem Wind
In Frankreich unter Dach,
So lief ihm gleich das Lumpeng’sind
Fast alles wieder nach;
Und alles rief in einem Ton
Es lebe hoch Napoleon!

Mein guter Bartel war nicht faul
That wieder was er kann,
Macht den Franzosen wieder s’Maul
Und alles hieng ihm an;
Er zog sodann mit sauß und brauß
So gegen die Alliirten aus.

Doch dießmal, tausend Sapperment!
Hat Herr Napoleon,
Die lange Nase recht verbrennt
Beym Herzog Wellington;
Der heitzte ihm so ziemlich ein
Was müßt der Brand von Moskau seyn.

Nun kam der Marschall Vorwärts an;
Jetzt giengs ihm erst noch schlimm
Ganz preußisch machte dieser dann
Den Garaus noch mit ihm;
Nun floh er über Stock und Stein
Als käm der Teufel hinten drein.

So floh auf einmal unser Held,
Sah nimmer hinter sich;
Und ließ im reichen Thatenfeld,
Nun und Maus im Stich;
Hätt man die Hose visitiert,
Gewiß hat er darein hofiert.

Nun war der Tanz auf einmal aus,
Da alles sprang und lief;
Sein Adler kam jetzt in die Maus,
Und hieng die Flügel tief;
Wie übel kammst du da nicht zu
O du allmächt’ger Kaiser, du!

So ist es einmal aus mit dir,
Du stolzer Pharao!
Den Teufel freut es selbst – und wir,
Sind alle herzlich froh;
Bald feyern wir den Friedenschmauß
Jetzt blase uns den Hobel aus.

Hurrah! Everyone joins in gladly
With joyful roundelay
Bonaparte will never again
Be the ogre
Gone is all his fun
Now it’s quite another story.

He had scarcely arrived under good wind
And come back home to France
When immediately almost all the riff-raff
Dashed back to him once again;
And all exclaimed in one voice
Long live Napoleon!

My good Bartel was not lazy
He did again what he could,
Gave the French false hope again
And everybody followed him;
He set off in high splendour
Against the Allies.

But this time, a thousand Zounds,
Mr. Napoleon got
His long nose properly burnt
By Duke of Wellington;
Who gave him hell
Like at the burning of Moscow.

Then Marshall Vorwärts [Blücher] arrived;
Then it only went worse for him
In wholly Prussian fashion the former
Finished him off;
Then he fled over hill and dale
As if the devil were coming along behind.

So fled at once our hero,
And didn’t ever look behind;
And in the rich field of deeds
Forsook all and sundry
Had you seen his trousers
Certainly he would have left his mark.

Now the dance was over at once,
Since all jumped and ran;
His eagle turned into the mouse
And the wings drooped;
How badly things went amiss,
O you Almighty Emperor, you!

So it is once again all up with you,
You proud Pharaoh!
Even the devil himself is pleased- and we
Are all heartily glad;
Soon we’ll celebrate the peace-feast
Good riddance to it all.


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