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"



A Tale of Two Cities said...

I've always been fascinated with the love story between Napoléon and Joséphine, and Malmaison is a fascinating place to visit. So sad he sent her away when he did--I think he always regretted it.

vicki archer said...

A wonderful, wonderful view of Paris, Marsha... a brilliant history lesson... and that letter... sigh... Happy weekend... xv

YONKS said...

Oh Marsha, this brought tears to my eyes. The poor man was in turmoil! I have never really given Napoleon much thought, but this makes me want to get to know him, whatever his failings, he has written in turmoil from the heart.

I have loved your view of Paris. What fun it has been for us all to share this experience with each other, and Anita.

I have written of the mysteries of Paris. Come and visit.

have a great weekend.

The Silver Bunny said...

What a lovely post ! And I love your fresh, colorful new header !

Teresa at Splendid Sass said...

You ladies did a great job. Visited Anita earlier!
I am in love with the last painting. How gorgeous is that?
Beautiful post, Marsha.
Happy Friday.

La Brocanteuse said...

As I sit here in my study reading your post, totally taken by a brutally honest love letter...I sigh and move around
in my chair, and with shock my eyes catch Napoleon's in a vintage print opposit me of the man himself at extremely young do I describe the bizarre moment of that encounter!!! Colettex

A Vintage Chic said...

Oh, how beautiful, Marsha! What an intimate glimpse into their life together--and apart. I've not read that glad you shared all of this in your post today...

Lovely to meet you as part of Anita's tour of Paris...wishing you the most beautiful day!


Mary Timmers said...

Marsha, What an opulent post! Napoleon and Josephine's LOVE was incredible! Thanks for sharing!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...


I am enjoying this tour that I started late myself, for I had to go into my classroom to finalize my clerical duties to close up for the summer. I am so enjoying the diverse posts and YOURS is only the second where the HISTORY of French culture has been shared and I am so loving it. From cuisine, fashion, language and now history, I am getting more Paris in me than I have in years since I last went.

You are magnificent Marsha. I hope to expand my blogging travels this summer and now that I am retired from teaching and moving into the writing and art world, I hope to have more time. Thank you for sticking with me and being a wonderful blogger. Your art in your jewelry is splendid and I REALLY DO HOPE to one day buy those turquoise drop earrings!!!

What a love story. Just an exquisite post ma chère....Anita

Dessa Rae said...

Hi Marsha,

I love the post about my name is Dessa Rae, the story between he and Desiree intriques me. The letter to Josephine is beautiful.

I am now a follower and I would like to invite you over to my blog to be entered in my blog giveaway.

Dessa Rae

It's me said...

Welcome in Paris darling...nice to met you here....what a great party this is !! Anita.....she is such a great friend for all of us.....happy week enjoy your time here....xxxx..

Creations By Cindy said...

Enjoying this! Hugs and blessings, Cindy

lostpastremembered said...

ONe forgets about NApoleon and Josephine... it was a great love and I so love those photos of the dish service... magnificent.
Fun read and great photos. Thanks to ANita for bringing us all together!

Nella said...

Dear Marsha, such a wonderful post, and an immortal love story! Her home, Malmaison has always been a great source of interest to me and of course the gardens and the magnificent rose named after it....still eluding me, I have been desperately trying to source it for my own garden. A well researched and beautiful post, Marsha, thank you, N.xo

My computer developed a virus last week which affected my Picasa folder and I was unable to participate.

hi-d said...


I have never read this story before. Thanks for sharing this post. I am late in getting around to all of these lovely Paris posts...but I am having fun in the process.

Happy Monday!

Sylvia said...

What a delicate post for love, romance and beauty ...Their story was a true love story . Thank you! Delighted to have enjoyed your blog through Anita's Paris celebration.