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Among the several songs is a salute to Napoleon himself:
‘Chargeons, allignons nos canons,
Tirons au F[rère] Bouneparte;
C’est en lui que nous admirons
Les vertus de Rome d’esparte.
Libérateur de son pays,
Il se rend du monde l’arbitre
La France n’a plus d’ennemis
Qui lui conteste un si beau titre.’
The song is known from at least one other source (a version is published in Chroniques d’Histoire Maçonnique Lorraine, 9, January, 2000), and is notable for the reference to Napoleon as ‘Frère’. His membership of the Freemasons has long been a source of debate (though is now commonly dismissed) and his relationship to masonry is an important aspect of the Order’s history. The Freemasons were widely accused of Revolutionary activity and were vigorously suppressed during the Terror only to be re-established under Napoleon who sought to capitalise on their loyalty and patriotism. He installed his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, as Grand Master of the Grand Orient de France and ensured that administration of French Freemasonry was directly overseen by legislator Jean-Jacques-Régis de Cambacérès.
The ritualised dinner described here has elaborate table settings, with utensils and food given ceremonial names. Bread becomes ‘Pierre prutte’; wine, ‘poudre forte, b[lan]che ou rouge’; salt, ‘sable blanc’ and pepper, ‘sable gris’. The table is referred to as the ‘Tribune’; the candles, ‘étoiles’ and spoons, ‘truelles’.
Each of the toasts is given in full and the seven songs are usually supplied with the name of the popular tune to which they are sung, including, ‘L’air vive Henry quatre’ and ‘Femmes, voulez-vous éprouver?’ see full details...