Sunday, July 29, 2012

Napoleon's love letters

To Josephine

Dec. 29, 1795
I awake all filled with you. Your image and the intoxicating pleasures of last night, allow my senses no rest.
Sweet and matchless Josephine, how strangely you work upon my heart.
Are you angry with me? Are you unhappy? Are you upset?
My soul is broken with grief and my love for you forbids repose. But how can I rest any more, when I yield to the feeling that masters my inmost self, when I quaff from your lips and from your heart a scorching flame?
Yes! One night has taught me how far your portrait falls short of yourself!
You start at midday: in three hours I shall see you again.
Till then, a thousand kisses, mio dolce amor! but give me none back for they set my blood on fire.
I don't love you, not at all; on the contrary, I detest you. You're a naught, gawky, foolish Cinderella.
You never write me; you don't love your own husband; you know what pleasures your letters give him, and yet you haven't written him six lines, dashed of so casually!
What do you do all day, Madam? What is the affair so important as to leave you no time to write to your devoted lover?
What affection stifles and puts to one side the love, the tender constant love you promised him?
Of what sort can be that marvellous being, that new lover that tyrannises over your days, and prevents your giving any attention to your husband?
Josephine, take care! Some fine night, the doors will be broken open and there I'll be.
Indeed, I am very uneasy, my love, at receiving no news of you; write me quickly for pages, pages full of agreeable things which shall fill my heart with the pleasantest feelings.
I hope before long to crush you in my arms and cover you with a million kisses as though beneath the equator.
Napoleon Bonaparte


April 3, 1796
I have received all your letters, but none has made me such an impression as the last. How, my beloved, can you write to me like that?
Don't you think my position is cruel enough, without adding my sorrows and crushing my spirit?
What a style! What feelings you show! They are fire, and they burn my poor heart.
My one and only Josephine, apart from you there is no joy; away from you, the world is a desert where I am alone and cannot open my heart.
You have taken more than my soul; you are the one thought of my life.
When I am tired of the worry of work, when I feel the outcome, when men annoy me, when I am ready to curse being alive, I put my hand on my heart; your portrait hangs there, I look at it, and love brings me perfect happiness, and all is miling except the time I must spend away from my mistress.
By what art have you captivated all my facilities and concentrated my whole being in you? It is a sweet friend, that will die only when I do.
To live for Josephine, that is the history of my life I long.
I try to come near you. Fool! I don't notice that I am going further away. How many countries separate us!
How long before you will read these words, this feeble expression of a captive soul where you are queen?
Oh, my adorable wife! I don't know what fate has in store for me, but if it keeps me apart from you any longer, it will be unbearable! My courage is not enough for that.
Once upon a time I was proud of my courage, and sometimes I would think of the ills destiny might bring me and consider the most terrible horrors without blinking or feeling shaken.
But, today the thought that my Josephine might be in trouble, that she may be ill, above the cruel, the awful thought that she may love me less blights my soul, stills my blood and makes me sad and depressed, without even the courage of rage and despair.
I used often to say men cannot harm one who dies without regret; but, now, to die not loved by you, to die without knowing, would be the torment of Hell, the living image of utter desolation. I feel I am suffocating.
My one companion, you whom fate has destined to travel the sorry road of life beside me, the day I lose your heart will be the day Nature loses warmth and life for me.
I stop, sweet friend; my soul is sad, my body tired, my spirit oppressed. Men bore me. I ought to hate them: they take me away from my heart.
I am at Port Maurice, near Ognelia; tomorrow I reach Albenga. The two armies are moving, trying to outwit each other. Victory to the cleverer.
I am pleased with Beaulieu; he maneuvres well and is stronger than his predecessor. I will beat him soundly, I hope.
Don't be frightened. Love me like your eyes; but that is not enough: like yourself, more than yourself, than your thoughts, your life, all of you.
Forgive me, dear love, I am raving; Nature is frail when one feels deeply, when one is loved by you.
Sincere friendship to Barras, Sucy, Madame Tallien; respects to Madame Chateau-Renard; true love to Eugene, to Hortense.
Goodbye, goodbye! I shall go to bed without you, sleep without you. Let me sleep, I beg you. For several nights I have felt you in my arms; a happy dream, but it is not you.


April 24, 1796
My brother will bring you this letter. I have the greatest love for him and I hope he will gain yours; he deserves it. Nature has given him a sweet and utterly good character; he is full of good qualities.
I am writing to Barras to get him appointed consul in some Italian port. He wants to live with his little wife far away from the hurly-burly and political affairs; I commend him to you.
I have your letters of the 16th and the 21st. There are many days when you don't write. What do you do, then?
No, my darling, I am not jealous, but sometimes worried.
Come soon; I warn you, if you delay, you will find me ill. Fatigue and your absence are too much.
Your letters are the joy of my days, and my days are happiness are not many.
Junot is bringing twenty-two flags to Paris. You must come back with him, do you understand?
Hopeless sorrow, inconsolable misery, sadness without end, if I am so unhappy as to see him return alone.
Adorable friend, he will see you, he will breathe in your temple; perhaps you will grant him the unique and perfect flavor of kissing your cheek, and I shall be alone and far, far away.
But you are coming, aren't you? You are going to be here beside me, in my arms, on my breast, on my mouth.
Take wing and come, come! But travel gently. The road is long, bad, tiring.
Suppose you had an accident, or fell ill; suppose fatigue- come gently, my adorable love, but I think of you often.
I have received a letter from Hortense. I will write to her. She is altogether charming. I love her and will soon send her the perfumes she wants.
Read Ossian's poem "Carthon" carefully, and sleep well and happily far from your good friend, but thinking of him.
A kiss on the heart, and one lower down, much lower!
I don't know if you need money; you have never talked about your affairs. If so, you can ask my brother, who has 200 louis of mine.


May 13, 1796
So, it is true that you are pregnant.
Murat has written to me; but he tells me that it is making you ill and he thinks it unwise for you to undertake so long a journey.
So I must still be deprived of the joy of holding you in my arms!
I must still spend several months far from all that I love!
Is it possible that I shan't have the pleasure of seeing you with your little belly? That should make you interesting!
You write that you have changed. Your letter is short and sad and shakily written. What is it, my adorable? What can be upsetting you?
Oh! Don't stay in the country; go to town; try to amuse yourself, and remember that there is no truer torment for my soul than to know you unwell and unhappy.
I thought I was jealous, but I swear to you I am not.
I think I would rather myself give you a lover than to know you are miserable, so be gay and cheerful, and remember that my happiness depends on yours.
If Josephine is unhappy, if she lets herself be sad and discouraged, then she doesn't love me.
Soon you are going to bring into the world another being who will love you as much as I - no, that is impossible, but your children and I will always be around you to convince you of our love and care.
You won't be horrid, will you? No tantrums!! Except as a joke.
And then just two or three pouts; nothing is prettier, and a liittle kiss puts everything right.
The courier has brought me your letter of the 18th. How sad it makes me! Can't you be happy, darling Josephine? Is there something you want?
I am waiting patiently for Murat to know the details of what you are doing, what you are saying, whom you are seeing, what you are wearing.
Everything to do with my adorable is dear to my heart, which only longs to know.
Things are going well here; but my heart is indescribably heavy. You are ill and far away from me. Be gay and take great care of yourself, you are worth more than all the universe to me.
The thought that you are ill makes me very unhappy.
Please, my sweet, tell Freron that my family does not wish him to marry my sister, and that I am determined to takes steps to prevent it. Please tell my brother.


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 vous. 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 friend'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 and 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.
P.S. 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 are 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!!!


To Marie Walewska

Warsaw, January, 1807.
Letter 1:
I saw no one but you, I admired no one but you, I want no one but you.
Answer me at once, and assuage the impatient passion of N.
Letter 2:
Didn't you like me, Madame? I had reason to hope you might .... Or perhaps I was wrong.
Whilst my ardour is increasing, yours is slackening its pace.
You are mining my repose!
Ah! grant a few moments' pleasure and happiness to a poor heart that is only waiting to adore you.
Is it so difficult to let me have an answer? You owe me two.
Letter 3:
There are times - I am passing through one now - when hope is as heavy as despair.
What can satisfy the needs of a smitten heart, which longs to throw itself at your feet, but is held back by the weight of serious considerations, paralysing its keenest desires?
Oh, if only you would!...
No one but you can remove the obstacles that keep us apart.
My friend Duroc will make it quite easy for you. Ah! come! come! You shall have all you ask.
Your country will be dearer to me, once you have had pity on my poor heart.
Letter 4:
Marie, my sweet Marie, my first thought is of you, my first desire is to see you again.
You will come again, won't you? You promised you would.
If you don't, the eagle will fly to you! I shall see you at dinner - our friend tells me so.
I want you to accept this bouquet: I want it to be a secret link, setting up a private understanding between us in the midst of the surrounding crowd.
We shall be able to share our thoughts, though all the world is looking on.
When my hand presses my heart, you will know that I am thinking of no one but you; and when you press your bouquet, I shall have your answer back!
Love me, my pretty one, and hold your bouquet tight!


To Marie-Louise

6 February, 1814
My Darling,
I have just received your letter of 4 February. I am sorry to hear you are worrying. Cheer up and be gay. My health is perfect, my affairs, while none too easy, are not in bad shape; they have improved this last week, and I hope, with the help of God, to bring them to a successful issue.
Adio, mio bene. All my love,

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