ROBERT WILLIAMS BUCHANAN (1841 - 1901)

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THE DRAMA OF KINGS

 

 

THE DRAMA OF KINGS.

 

 

     “Te verò appello sanctissimum FLUMEN, tibique futura prædico:
torrenti sanguine plenus ad ripas usque erumpes, undæque divinæ non
solum polluentur sanguine, sed totæ rumpentur, et viris multo major
erit numerus sepultorum. Quid fles, O Asclepi?”—THE ASCLEPIAN DIALOGUE.

dramakingstitle

THE DRAMA OF KINGS

 

BY ROBERT BUCHANAN

 

 

STRAHAN & CO., PUBLISHERS

56 LUDGATE HILL, LONDON

1871

 

 

LONDON:
PRINTED BY VIRTUE AND CO.,
CITY ROAD.

 

 

CONTENTS.

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                                                                                                                         PAGE
DEDICATION:
         To the Spirit of Auguste Comte         .          .         .          .         .            vii

PROEM         .          .         .          .         .          .         .          .         .            xv

PRELUDE BEFORE THE CURTAIN       .          .         .          .         .            1

THE DRAMA OF KINGS:
         Prologue           .         .          .         .          .         .          .         .            11
         Buonaparte; or, France against the Teuton               .          .         .            19
         Choric Interlude: the Titan       .          .         .          .         .          .           137
         Napoleon Fallen           .         .          .         .          .         .          .           157
         Choric Interlude: the Two Voices       .          .         .          .         .            261
         The Teuton against Paris         .          .         .          .         .          .           277
         Epilogue           .          .         .          .         .          .         .          .           423

EPILUDE BEFORE THE CURTAIN         .          .         .          .         .            431

__________

NOTES         .          .         .          .         .          .         .          .         .            449

ON MYSTIC REALISM: A NOTE FOR THE ADEPT             .          .             463

 

[Notes:
Translation of the Latin inscription from The Asclepian Dialogue:

     I call on thee, O most holy river, and predict to thee future events. Thou shalt burst forth with a torrent of blood, full even to thy banks, and thy divine waters shall not only be polluted with blood, but the land shall be inundated with it, and the number of the dead shall exceed that of the living. ... Why do you weep, O Asclepius?

Robert Buchanan published Napoleon Fallen in January, 1871. In November of the same year he published The Drama of Kings, which was conceived as a trilogy with Napoleon Fallen forming the second part. The Drama of Kings was further revised for The Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan which was published in three volumes by Henry S. King in January, 1874. In Volume II, in a section entitled ‘Songs of the Terrible Year (1870)’, several extracts from The Drama of Kings were published with this explanatory note:

     *** These ‘Songs,’ inasmuch as they formed a portion of the ‘Drama of Kings,’ preceded by a long period the publication of Victor Hugo’s series under the same admirable title. The ‘Drama of Kings’ was written under a false conception, which no one discarded sooner than the author; but portions of it are preserved in the present collection, because, although written during the same feverish and evanescent excitement, they are the distinct lyrical products of the author’s mind, and perfectly complete in themselves.                                                                         R. B.

 

These ‘songs’ were retitled and refer to the following sections in The Drama of Kings:

‘Ode To The Spirit Of Auguste Comte’: Dedication (pp. vii-xiii).

‘A Dirge For Kings’: Chorus (pp. 161-166).
In the version of Napoleon Fallen in The Drama of Kings, Buchanan replaced the opening scene with the German Citizens with this Chorus. In the subsequent version, ‘The Fool of Destiny’, the first scene was reinstated and this chorus was omitted.

‘The Perfect State’: Choric Epode (pp. 271-276).

‘The Two Voices’: from Choric Interlude: The Two Voices (pp. 265-269).

‘Ode Before Paris’: Chorus (pp. 281-284).

‘A Dialogue In The Snow’: from the dialogue between Chorus and A Deserter (pp. 321-332)

‘The Prayer In The Night’: Chorus (pp. 333-338)

‘The Spirit Of France’: Chorus (pp. 380-382)

‘The Apotheosis Of The Sword’: from the Scene inside the Hall of Mirrors (pp. 394-403).

‘The Chaunt By The Rhine’: from the same Scene, the dialogue between the Chorus and The Chiefs (pp. 407-417).

 

In Volume III of the 1874 The Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan a further revision of The Drama of Kings appeared as a section entitled ‘Political Mystics’. This new version comprised the following:

POLITICAL MYSTICS

TITAN AND AVATAR: A CHORAL MYSTIC
         I. Ode of Nations
         II. The Avatar’s Dream
         III. The Elemental Quest
         IV. The Elemental Doom
THE FOOL OF DESTINY
THE TEUTON MONOLOGUE
THE REPLY

This was followed by:

L’ENVOI TO VOL.III

THE CITY OF MAN
APPENDIX TO THE POEMS: MYSTIC REALISM

 

The four parts of ‘Titan and Avatar: A Choral Mystic’ correspond to the following sections of The Drama of Kings:

The first part, ‘The Ode of Nations’ is the Chorus (pp. 47-54). The remaining three parts begin on Page 110 with Buonaparte’s soliloquy and continue with the Chorus sections to the end of Part I of The Drama of Kings. So, ‘The Avatar’s Dream’ is Buonaparte’s soliloquy (pp.110-128), ‘The Elemental Quest’ is the Chorus section (pp. 128-136), and ‘The Elemental Doom’ is the ‘Choric Interlude: The Titan’ (pp. 137-156).

‘The Fool of Destiny’ is a revised version of ‘Napoleon Fallen’ (pp. 157 - 260).

‘The Teuton Monologue’ is a combination of the two speeches by The Royal Chancellor (pp. 301-306, 308-315).

‘The Reply’ is the Chorus (pp. 315-321).

‘The City of Man’ now stands alone. It originally appeared as ‘The Final Chorus, or Epode’ of Napoleon Fallen, but in The Drama of Kings was revised and moved to the end of the poem where it appears as the ‘Epode’ (pp. 443-437).

The essay on ‘Mystic Realism’ (pp. 463-471) is retained in the 1874 Poetical Works but the direct references to The Drama of Kings are removed and the essay is extended.

The 1884 Poetical Works, published by Chatto & Windus (and reprinted in 1901) ‘Political Mystics’ precedes ‘Songs of the Terrible Year’. In the former, ‘The City of Man’ appears as the final poem in the sequence, and the latter includes the explanatory note.

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In Buchanan’s letter to Tennyson of 7th June, 1871, he wrote the following about The Drama of Kings:

‘... I have been sick & ailing for years—with horrible cerebral symptoms—& scarcely able to lift a pen; but last autumn I revived suddenly, & have worked hard all the winter at my “Drama of Kings,” an ambitious Trilogy, which Strahan is just publishing. For month after month I sacrificed all to this work—night after night, week after week—and I do not fear the result; but besides all else, I calculated on getting £300 in cash for the Drama. It seems, however, that my works have not been selling so well lately—there are changes, too, at Ludgate Hill—and my Publishers wont do more than issue the Book at half-profits. ...
     I should be deceiving you if I said that I expected much profit from the “Drama of Kings.” I do expect some fame & the approval of good judges; but the work is “over the heads” of the general public: who, though they will patiently buy anything from their favorites, will not be troubled with profundity—de profundis.’

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The connection between Buchanan’s The Drama of Kings and Thomas Hardy’s The Dynasts is discussed in two essays from Publications of the Modern Language Association, ‘The Immediate Source of The Dynasts by Hoxie N. Fairchild and ‘The Original Source of Hardy’s Dynasts by John A. Cassidy.

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Harriett Jay
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