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From Rare and Interesting Autograph Letters & Manuscripts, etc., Catalogue No. 376; ; London: Maggs Bros; Spring, 1919; p.176.




581. NAPOLEON I. Emperor of the French.

A. L. S. “N. B.” (twice), 2¼ pp., 4to, to his wife Josephine. Lodi, 24 floréal an 4 (May 13th, 1797).


Of the greatest possible French historical interest; written by Napoleon during the Italian campaign, upon hearing from Murat that Josephine was expecting to become a mother. Napoleon is delighted and writes in most tender and passionate terms, expressing the utmost anxiety and solicitude for her health. Josephine was however deceiving Napoleon, he wished her to accompany him on his Italian campaign but she, fond of gaiety and fashion, did not like the idea of the hardships and inconveniences of such a life, hence her excuse. Napoleon’s subsequent divorce was occasioned only by the fact of Josephine not being able to present him with an heir to the throne of France.

(TRANS.): — “It is then true that you are enceinte. Murat sent me word but he told me that it makes you ill and he does not think it prudent for you to undertake such a big journey. I shall therefore still be deprived of the happiness of clasping you in my arms. For several months more I must live far from all I love. Can it be possible that I shall not have the happiness of seeing you like this? It ought to make you interesting; you write me that you are very much changed; your letter is short, sad, and the writing is shaky. What is the matter with you, my adorable love? What can be disturbing you? Oh, do not stay in the country. Go to town, try and amuse yourself and believe there is no torture more real for my soul than to think that you are suffering and sad. I thought I should be jealous, but I swear that it is not so. Rather than know you are sad I think I would give you a lover myself. So be gay, happy and know that my happiness is bound up in yours. If Josephine is not happy, if she gives herself up to sadness and despondency, she does not love me. Soon you will give life to a being who will love you as much as I, no that is not possible, but as much as I shall love it, your children and I will be continually around you, to convince you of our solicitude and our love. You will not be naughty, will you? Not at all, hum! ! ! Unless it is for a joke, then there must be three or four grimaces; nothing is prettier, and then a little kiss puts everything right. How sad your letter of the 18th which the courier brought made me. Could it be that you are not happy, my dear Josephine, that something is wanting to your pleasure? I await Murat with impatience so as to know in great detail all you are doing, all you say, the people you see, the clothes you wear, everything that concerns my adorable darling is dear to my heart, so eager to know.

Things are going well here, but my heart is in such anxiety as cannot be described, you are ill, far from me, my sweetheart. Think of me, love me, be cheerful and take great care of yourself, you whom in my heart I value more than the universe. Alas! The thought that you are ill makes me very sad. . . . .

I beg you, my dear to send word to Fréron that it is not my family’s intention for him to marry my sister, and I am resolved to take any measures whatsoever to prevent it. Please say this to my brother.

*** The letter is twice signed by Napoleon.

Elf.Ed. Note

This unique style of writing, so unexpected, is perfectly reproduced by an officer of Napoleon in the superb early science fiction novel by the French author Edmond About, in The Man with the Broken Ear, online on Elfinspell.


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