The Eagle's Invitation
Animal Behaviour, Politics, Internationalism
A response to the call by Emperor Napoleon III of France for a European congress, the poet likens Napoleon to an eagle, of which 'No wingèd thing' is 'more modest, milder, meeker', and which is the 'guardian of the weaker'. Unfortunately, 'from ill designs however clear, / The Eagle was misconstrued and mistaken', and few other animals trusted it. Notes how the eagle sought to change the fact that 'Mother Nature' had made it carnivorous—a reference to French—and to dissipate suspicions that it killed 'babies and sucklings' and stole its food. The eagle decides that the best solution is to call a 'solemn' congress for settling 'matters not with claws, but words' and to show that it is 'not a thing at which to tremble'. Likening the animal kingdom to the rest of Europe, the eagle calls for an end to recrimination and for its recognition as a sincere animal. The poem then describes the reactions of various animals, each emblematic of European countries, which illustrate the foreign policies of those countries. For example, the Prussian vulture insists that its 'game's not meddled with', but the British lion is sceptical of the eagle's words and refuses to attend the congress, wanting actions rather than words.
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020
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