Buonaparte's Soliloquy, from a collection of material relating to the fear of a French invasion


This broadside was published in 1803 by Rudolph Ackerman (1764-1834), and parodies Hamlet’s soliloquy To Be or Not to Be. Napoleon is depicted as a greedy and avaricious character who spies the ‘sacred faith, and general happiness’ across the channel with an envious eye as he ponders when to launch his assault on the British people.

Between 1803 and 1805 Napoleon Bonaparte formed his ‘Army of England’: a formidable force of 200,000 soldiers and sailors garrisoned in channel ports in readiness for a potential invasion of England. The French encampments at Calais, Boulogne and various other coastal towns were the cause of much consternation in the British government, countered by the mobilisation of some 400,000 civil volunteers and the construction of fortified defences up and down the English coastline. Although Napoleonic forces were distracted by continental warfare commitments, the threat of invasion by French troops remained a very real possibility, which only finally dissipated in 1812 following Napoleon’s disastrous defeat in Russia.

Full title:
Buonaparte's Soliloquy from [Loyal and patriotic hand-bills, songs, addresses, etc. on the threatened invasion of Great Britain by Buonaparte.]
estimated 1803, probably London
Image / Ephemera
George Moutard Woodward
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

Related articles

The impact of the French Revolution in Britain

Article by:
Ruth Mather
Power and politics

Ruth Mather considers how Britain's intellectual, political and creative circles responded to the French Revolution.

The fear of invasion

Article by:
Mike Ashley
Visions of the future

In the 19th century, the British feared invasion by the French, terrorists and even aliens. Mike Ashley explains how these concerns were reflected in literature.

The impact of the Napoleonic Wars in Britain

Article by:
Ruth Mather
Power and politics

The start of the 19th century was a time of hostility between France and England, marked by a series of wars. Throughout this period, England feared a French invasion led by Napoleon. Ruth Mather explores the impact of this fear on literature and on everyday life.

Related collection items