Friday, June 8, 2012

A Little Bit of French History

'Nature has endowed me with a virile and decisive character... 

Yours out of lace and gossamer'

Letter from Napoleon to Josephine
I have not spent a day without loving you;
 I have not spent a night without embracing you.
I have not so much as drunk a single cup of tea without cursing the pride and ambition which force me to remain separated from the moving spirit of my life.

In the midst of my duties, whether I am at the head of my army or inspecting the camps, my beloved Josephine stands alone in my heart, occupies my mind, fills my thoughts.

If I am moving away from you with the speed of the Rhone torrent, it is only that I may see you again more quickly.

If I rise to work in the middle of the night, it is because this may hasten by a matter of days the arrival of my sweet love.

Yet in your letter of the 23rd, and 26th, Ventose, you call me yours. 
Vous yourself.

Ah? wretch, how could you have written this letter?  How cold it is?

And then there are those four days between the 23rd and the 26th? 
What were you doing that you failed to write to your husband?

Ah, my love, that vous, those four days made me long for my former indifference.
Woe to the person responsible!

May he as punishment and penalty, experience what my convictions and the evidence (which is in your friends's favor) would make me experience!

Hell has no torments great enough!
Nor do the Furies have serpents enough!
Vous!  Vous!

Ah! How will things stand in two weeks?
My spirit is heavy, my heart is fettered
and I am terrified by my fantasies.

You love me less, but you will get over the loss.
One day you will love me no longer.
At least, tell me.
Then I shall know how I have come to deserve this misfortune.
Farewell, my wife, the torment, joy, hope & moving which draw me close to 
Nature, and with violent impulses as tumultuous as thunder. I ask of you
neither eternal love, nor fidelity, but simply truth, unlimited honesty.

The day when you say "I love you less" will mark the end of my love and the last day of my life.

If my heart were base enough to love without being loved in return
I would tear it to pieces.

Josephine! Josephine!
Remember what I have sometimes said to you:
nature has endowed me with a virile and decisive character.
It has built yours out of lace and gossamer.
Have you ceased to love me?

Forgive me, love of my life, my soul is racked by conflicting forces.
My heart obsessed by you, is full of fears which prostrate me with misery.
I am distressed not to be calling you by name.
I shall wait for you to write it

Farewell!  Ah! If you love me less you can never have loved me.
In that case I shall truly be pitiable.


 PS, The war this year has changed beyond recognition. I have had meat, bread and fodder distributed, my armed cavalry will soon be on the march.

My soldiers are showing inexpressible confidence in me; 
you alone as a source of chagrin to me, you alone are the joy and torment of my life.

I send a kiss to your children,, whom you do not mention.
By God!  If you did, your letters would be half as long again.
Then visitors at ten o'clock in the morning would not have the
pleasure of seeing you.  Woman !!!

 File:Château de Malmaison à Rueil-Malmaison 003.jpg

photo of Chateau de Malmaison, residence built especially for Josephine after their separation.
Malmaison has a legendary rose garden.

File:Château Malmaison service Joséphine.jpg

Josephine's dinner service, Sevres

"Reception at Malmaison"
artist, Flameng Francois
Hermitage Museum

Despite his numerous affairs, eventual divorce, and remarriage,
 the Emperor's last words on his death bed at St. Helena were:
 "France, the Army, the Head of the Army, Joséphine."

joining my lovely friend, Anita, from
Castle, Crown & Cottages
for her annual June post
"Paris, Simply Irresistible"