Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Some Enchanted Evening...

Dear Napoleon,

I read your letters to Josephine yesterday. I truly didn't mean to intrude, if someone read my letters, I would never get tired of punching them... But apparently, time and history negates privacy.

I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but she didn't love you as much as you loved her, did she? It's sad, when you think about all that you achieved and she didn't love you the way you wanted. It's all anyone wants really, isn't it? Control all the countries the world has to offer, but if you can't conquer a heart, well, nothing is good enough. Maybe that's it, maybe you tried to own her, a free spirit, people say, love conquers all, but really, you should never have to convince someone to love you, you should never have to plead or beg, that is a case that should make itself.

She made up stories to not see you, she took lovers and ran around, partied when you weren't looking, Josephine was a creeper, a player, if she was alive today, she would surely be MC Jo to the Phine, with tales of diamonds, cristal and assorted lovers, not necessarily in that order. I bet she'd even drive a hummer. Your story is timeless. Oh great Emperor, if you were standing in a club drinking Red Stripe, it would be no different to many a man or woman's Friday night.

I could tell you there are plenty more fish in the sea, but when the heart wants, what the heart wants, I think we both know, I'd be lying....

Yours sincerely,


  1. O Letters, you are SO right about Josephine, but perhaps her unattainability was part of her charm for the Emperor.

    Cow wishes all those letters between Jo and one of her swains had not been consigned to the fire, she forgets his name at the moment (maybe Hippolyte Charles) but at his death, all correspondence was burned, except for one inadvertently filed in the business section, which references expenditures for some gift for Josephine and stands alone as the only historical evidence for their grand passion.

    Josephine and Napoleon are truly a fascinating couple, and one can't help but wonder whether, if she had been faithful while he was in Egypt, their relationship would have been different, since he was going to dump her upon his return until she, with wailing and tears, convinced him to stay. One can't help but feel that her position, until then the pursued, then became that of the pursuer, with the subsequent divorce and N's marriage to Marie Louise, which set a poor precedent for France. In that, by showing Josephine and their marriage as "disposable" Napoleon paved the way for his own disposable-ness later.

    When Topiary feels like condemning Josephine for her playing around, she does remember the times--the Revolution were a "live for today" era where conventional morals were discarded.

    They were definitely one of history's fascinating couples---has Letters read that other book about N & J which details J's father's unfaithfulness in Martinique, and J's aunt's flagrant (for the times) cohabitation with a married man? Can't help but wonder at the example she was set as a child influencing her.


  2. Why Cow, How delighted I am that you stopped by.

    I am a fan of Josephine, I like her spirit, I like how she was the one uncontrollable thing, to the man with the most severe case of small man syndrome, the world has ever known. I feel her change of heart in the latter part of their affair, was as much to do with her, perhaps wanting a slightly more comfortable life in her twilight years, although I do believe there was genuine affection, most of us, Emperor beau or not, have all fallen prey to the treat them mean, keep them keen, school of relationships at some point, although touch wood, those days are gone. I am intrigued by her childhood, I am unfamiliar with her formative years and am excited to find the book you speak of, is it available in most meadows or will it require a trip on the tractor?

  3. Ah, Letters, the book which so fascinatingly delves into Josephine's family is by Evangeline Bruce, "Napoleon and Josephine" or something like that, by title.

    It's extremely well-researched and annotated, should be fairly available, library or Amazon, it's out in a large, thick trade paperback. Cow may have an extra copy, come to think of it, should you run into difficulties getting it let Cow know and she'd be happy to help.

    Cow agrees, you are right, Josephine, at least till the Russian campaign, was the one uncontrollable thing in Napoleon's charmed life. He could not control her spending! Pretty funny.

    By contrast, both Hortense and Eugene, her children, were always SO well-behaved, marrying who Napoleon picked for them, always doing what they were told, pretty funny.

    Cow thinking, once Napoleon got Josephine's attention by returning from Egypt and asserting himself, she for the first time fell in love with him. Before that, N. was just the "funny little man" that Barras married her off to, according to some, because he could no longer afford to keep her as his mistress and N needed a wife.

    The descriptions of Theresa Tallien and Josephine, both apparently beautiful women, dressing alike, at the top of post-revolutionary society, hosting parties, etc., always gave Cow the contrast: Josephine successful, N. the supplicant---then, Oh, how the tables turned as he won battle after battle!

    One of the most heartbreaking books Cow read is a volume called "Napoleon and Paris" which details down to the street and building the location of every landmark connected to Napoleon or Josephine. The small house which Josephine had when she met Napoleon, from which he plotted to take over the Directory, existed till 1850 and then was demolished for a parking lot. Owwww! Rats!


  4. Sweet kind Cow, thank you for offering to help if I couldn't find it, now that I have the authors name, it shall find it's way into my hands very soon indeed. It fascinates me the way historical people are rarely seen as actual people, who had a life, loved and lost, much the same way as when you are little and you don't see your parents as real people as such, they've just always been there. Finding out what motivates people is always intriguing. Thank you for the suggestions, your enthusiasm for the subject is infectious. I hope the grass is lush in your meadow.

  5. Why, thank you, kind Letters. Cow continues to enjoy warm lush meadows in the Land of Topiary!

    Agree, that historical people are not seen to be acting from the same emotions as regular people. Indeed, Cow wishes History could be taught with the verve of "King X was mad and invaded Neighbor Y" instead of dryness and boredom--just see the passions and anger motivating these powerful people.

    For instance, Cow always felt that Napoleon's determination to invade and subjugate Britain was more from taking umbrage at the Prince Regent's snubbing him, than for any other reason.

    Cow wishes there were history books which followed the people rather than the events, the passions rather than dry economic examples.

    Cow looks forward to reading a Letter to Evangeline Bruce when you have snagged her book...will be interesting to see what you make of it...