Monday, July 30, 2007

Bonaparte betrayed in Love: Cairo, July 25

Bonaparte was told by some of his fellow officers as they marched on Cairo that his wife, Josephine had been having an affair with Hippolyte Charles.
He was cast into despair, as is revealed in this letter to his brother Joseph written only a few days after he took Cairo.

From: Napoleon I, The Confidential Correspondence of Napoleon Bonaparte with His Brother Joseph (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1856):


Cairo, July 25,1798.

You will see in the newspapers the result of our battles and the conquest of Egypt, where we found resistance enough to add a leaf to the laurels of this army.

Egypt is the richest country in the world for wheat, rice, pulse, and meal. Nothing can be more barbarous. There is no money, even to pay the troops. I may be in France in two months. I recommend my interests to you.

I have much domestic distress.

Your friendship is very dear to me. To become a misanthropist I have only to lose it, and find that you betray me. That every different feeling towards the same person should be united in one heart is very painful.

Let me have on my arrival a villa near Paris or in Burgundy. I intend to shut myself up there for the winter. I am tired of human nature. I want solitude and isolation. Greatness fatigues me; feeling is dried up. At 29 glory has become flat. I have exhausted everything. I have no refuge but pure selfishness. I shall retain my house, and let no one else occupy it. I have not more than enough to live on.

Adieu, my only friend. I have never been unjust to you, as you must admit, though I may have wished to be so. You understand me. Love to your wife and to Jerome.

* * The suspicions of Josephine's honor, hinted at in this remarkable letter, disturbed Napoleon during the whole of his Egyptian campaign. Bourrienne describes his distress and his plans of divorce six months afterwards, in consequence of some information from Junot. And on his return to Paris on the 6th October, 1799, he refused to see his wife for three days, and consented to a reconciliation only in consequence of Bourrienne's representations that a conjugal quarrel might interfere with the ambitions plans which he was then meditating, and which he executed about three weeks later.'


PS A kind reader wrote:

"Dr. Cole

As you may know, Joseph Bonaparte ultimately settled in Bordentown, NJ Recently there have been a number of articles in the local press regarding the archeological investigations of Bonaparte's house being undertaken by Monmouth University professors

See this link.

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