On November 27 1812, The Morning Chronicle publishes a parody of Napoleon's letter to the Bishops of France after the Battle of Borodino or as the French referred to it the Battle of Moskwa, after the nearby river. The parody reads:
For victories gained in various places,
Since last we saw your pious faces,
It is our will and royal pleasure,
That you forthwith should call together
Our loving people, one and all,—
Wealthy and poor, and short and tall;
And then, with Custom as conductor,
And Revelation for instructor,
You must proceed, with pious zeal,
To speak the grateful joys you feel;
And, as best suits your various choices,
In hymns or prayers exalt your voices,
Just as your Christian hearts incline.
We too would pray, if we had time;
To him on whom, you know, my friends,
Success in war so much depends;
Without whose aid in this great battle
We had not slain these men and cattle;
'Tis true, by him they were created,
But view the question fairly stated:—
The Gospel tells us, "do no murther;"
But there it stops; it goes no further;
In no place do we find it say
In words express, thou shalt not slay;
Of course it follows that we may,
And thus you see the blood we've spilt,
Leaves not behind a stain of guilt.
Oh looking o'er this bloody plain,
To count the number we had slain,
Our royal pleasure was unbounded,
To find so many dead and wounded;
A field of slaughter so prodigious,
Aroused a feeling quite religious;
So straight we wash'd our bloody hands,
Which, else, had stained these pure commands,
Resolved in pious mood to write
The letter which we now indite;
And feeling grateful for success,
Could Christians think of doing less?
If, in your numerous congregations,
Some mourn the loss of slain relations,
Tell them we pray—a fine-spun story,
About their having died with glory,
And quick you'll see each meagre face
Exchange its sorrow for grimace;
Thoughtless and gay, they won't remember
Husband or Brother till December.
Now mind you sing, and don't deceive us,—
It is our serious wish, believe us;
And till again we're drench'd in blood,
We pray the Author of all good,
(Whose favours we have just been reaping)
To have you in his holy keeping.
Napoleon's letter read:
MONSIEUR BISHOP OF-----
The passage of the Niemen, of the Dwina, the Borysthenes, the combats of Mohilow, of the Drissa, of Polotsk, of Ostrowno, of Smolensk and in fine the battle of Moskwa, furnish so many respective reasons for addressing thanks to the God of Armies; our will therefore is, that on receiving this present letter, you concert measures with those to whom it of right belongs. Assemble my people in the churches to chaunt prayers, conformably to the usage of the church in similar circumstances. This letter having no other object, I pray God to have you in his holy keeping.
From Our Imperial Quarters at Mojaisk, the 10th Sept. 1812.
By the Emperor, (Signed) "NAPOLEON."
The Minister Secretary of State,
(Signed) "COUNT DARU."