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Dear Josephine, ... letters by Napoleon Bonaparte

 
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dai



Joined: 09 Feb 2007
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PostPosted: Mon May 20, 2013 10:00 pm    Post subject: Dear Josephine, ... letters by Napoleon Bonaparte Reply with quote

http://archive.org/stream/napoleonsletters00napoiala/napoleonsletters00napoiala_djvu.txt

NAPOLEON'S LETTERS TO JOSEPHINE

FOR THE FIRST TIME COLLECTED AND TRANSLATED, WITH NOTES SOCIAL, HISTORICAL, AND CHRONOLOGICAL, FROM CONTEMPORARY SOURCES

BY

HENRY FOLJAMBE HALL, F.R.Hisr.S.

1901

LONDON: J. M. DENT & CO.
NEW YORK : E. P. BUTTON fr CO.

... well I just ought to be a touch curious shouldn't I - I take the piss out of myself by referring to " Corporal Violet " with my signature avatar : when Napoleon was banished to Elba they allowed him one last visit to Josephine's grave which he had planted with her favourite flowers and he took some with him into exile. When he had his parting with his friends and supporters he declared to them that he would return " bringing home the violets " and indeed he did at the beginning of " the one hundred days " that led to Waterloo after he so nearly managed to restore the French republic again. After he was sent to St Helena bunches of violets were worn as badges by those who remained loyal to the idea of the system of government that Napoleon created, and as such a persistent symbol of subversion they were banned and being found in possession of violets became a crime. I suspect that the reason why pansies became so popular is because they are a cultivar hybrid of wild violets and therefore legalish - but they became a symbol of yet another kind of subversive republicanism, the ' free-thought ' movement - ' pensée ' being a pun in French ' pansy / thought.'

Violet of course is very close to the colour purple associated with Republicanism - and with Imperialism unfortunately ... but as emperors go Napoleon did leave behind some useful things like a very intelligent code of law which is still hugely practical and influential, and many people looked upon him as a liberator - well, to begin with ... so what was the man really like ? I expect to find in him an intelligent, energetic and resourceful man but perhaps not one given much to philosophy : he certainly did not give much for ' Les Idéologues ' who were such nice and well meaning people, anxious to do good and bring an end to the sectarian political arguments which were rending the French Republic apart by gently explaining to people where their beliefs had come from and how they might discover the true origins of their defective ideas and then be able to work together to discover a more accurate description of the world that they lived in so that they could have a rational basis upon which to thoroughly reason out the the proper basis for their new republican government through the study of the newly proclaimed scientific discipline of ' Ideology.'

Napoleon had actually briefly associated himself with ' Les Idéologues ' and had endorsed them before he became emperor, but then he discarded them - and then he attacked them, damned them for criticising his decisions and branded them as foolish mad extremists. It was Napoleon Bonaparte who made the very word ' ideologue ' into a term of contempt and everybody else has copied his usage ever since, and I can not forgive him for that - they were such nice, gently well-meaning people who only wanted to help ... it is just that their ideological approach required a certain amount of time because they wanted to make sure that they got to the bottom of things and made the sort of decision that would stand the test of time - but time on his hands was not what Napoleon Bonaparte had. Whilst ' Les Idéologues ' were probably the sanest of the progressive Republican critics, their modernising scientifically based Ideology was absolutely too strange for other people who were so deeply steeped in their religiously and philosophically based ideologies that they were not going to stand for their most deeply held beliefs being intellectually dissected as if they were specimens of insects, at least not whilst foreigners were shooting at them, and they naturally absolutely rejected the ideas of somebody like Lamarck who was talking about evolution instead of revolution ( he was actually using the word ' transformation.' )

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Baptiste_Lamarck - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamarckism

Dictators in general do not like reasonable men who ask awkward questions : Robespierre deeply hated the man who was the greatest of French scientists and the other politicians were basically too frightened of ' the Incorruptable ' to stop the ironically named ' Committee for Public Safety ' from organising the guillotining of the man who had started the revolution in chemistry - Antoine Lavousier - even though he was a supporter of the political revolution and actually an asset to the French Republic !

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavoisier - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reign_of_Terror

Robespierre probably argued that there were pressing reasons of state for what he did, and Napoleon Bonaparte did the same when he divorced Josephine and married Marie Louise. I suspect that Josephine may have actually been pretty grateful, since she had survived the guillotine and been released from prison five days after her first husband Alexandre de Beauharnais had not.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joséphine_de_Beauharnais http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexandre_de_Beauharnais

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napoleon_I - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Louise,_Duchess_of_Parma

Now it is time for a coffee and a smoke before prying into other's private lives ... oooh ! - is this the same thrill that the snoops get when reading my emails ? Will the spooks now try to plant some violets on me ... will they take this topic thread as evidence of my planning to pursue my political ends through the use of violets ?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Priestley http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priestley_Riots

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halifax_Gibbet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guillotine

You know Lavousier's English counterpart Priestley got a really rough treatment as well - do you know that the guillotine was an English invention ? The French revolutionaries copied it because they admired everything that was English to begin with, thinking that the English were rational and civilised, scientific and reasonable : the very people who loved Liberty and would rush over to France and embrace the French Revolution as the very mirror of their own in 1649 and ... in 1789 the United Kingdom immediately saw the opportunity of not only taking revenge upon France for financing the loss of their thirteen colonies - but of seizing French colonies in compensation : as the initially peaceful French Revolution got into difficulties, when Louis XV tried to run away and his wife's Marie Antoinette's relatives declared war when they were deposed and put in prison, the United Kingdom seized its chance to take the fabulously profitable French Caribbean sugar plantations and so declared war.

Then everbody and his uncle ( literally ) declared war upon the new French Republic in the hope of carving off a piece of what had been the kingdom and empire of France for themselves ... well, that of course is what monarchy was then and still is : not so much about the Royal Family as about the royal fiasco that licences criminality e.g. the USA is a republic but it has a monarchy i.e. it does not need a Royal Family in order to licence this sort of criminality, it only requires the desire to do as one pleases together with the means to do so.

The consequences for the new French Republic was that its birth was breached by war against both internal and external enemies, both real and imagined, and - whilst fighting three internal civil wars and four external international wars across six continents - it also had to try to establish an entirely novel system of government and convince those who were being governed of its merits. The French people did not actually want a republic : they had started the revolution by accident, and had then hoped to get a more limited constitutional monarchy out of it such as the English one which they so much admired. The main concern of the French People in 1789 was getting bread : they had already been starving three years before the declaration of the French Republic in 1792, which was followed by several declarations of war against it, and now they were being shot at, bayoneted, raped and robbed, and being told that they should die fighting the internal and external enemies of the French Republic because it was indeed the best thing next to the sliced bread which they still did not have - but which ' Les Idéologues ' were intrigued by as an idea and had promised to invent once they had analysed it for its rational content of objective factuality ... but the fact remained that there was no bread was on offer anywhere in France anyway, and yet without any prompting from ' Les Idéologues,' ordinary French people with little or no education were prepared to fight for the idea of 'Le République Française ' - even though they knew neither how to pronounce it nor spell it or even what gender it had : the Americans were not returning the solidarity that the French had offered them in their hour of need when the United Kingdom had attacked them, massive armies now occupied their lands and there were many willing collaborators with the enemies of Free France : the Fête of the French Nation depended upon the will of ordinary Français a Françaises to have the courage to face the Germanic invaders, to march on - MARCH ON !!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HM-E2H1ChJM - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aHaSbrf2n4

[ A more realistic representation of the reality of the world of the Marseillaise - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKtCVblxDRc - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KaIE8Tc0Lw ]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bastille_Day - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marseillaise

Surely that would be enough to drive any bunch of people bananas and nuts simultaneously ? It most certainly did - and the result was big Jacobin idea of ' The Red Terror ' which got worse as things got worse - and as things got worse their right wing opponents criticised them so the socialist left wing reds guillotined the democratic right wing greens, then the centrist republican whites, then - oops, they stupidly tried to guillotine the blues i.e. those in uniform to encourage the troops - who promptly turned round and guillotined them ... What then followed was a sort of second Fête Nationale in ' The White Terror ' during which in the true republican spirit of " liberté, égalité, fraternité " everybody was given an opportunity to be guillotined by the centrist republican whites who even occasionally joined in the fun and mischief and guillotined themselves ... Mary Wollstencraft was watching all of this madness and remarked upon how " Children of any growth will do mischief when they meddle with edged tools " and since the French now hated the English for not being who they thought they were, she decided to quickly get married in order to diplomatically acquire political immunity by associating herself with the Republic of being in the Uninhibited State of an American. She managed to make her way back across the stinking sleeve of the English Chanel, then tripped over the hem of the River Thames and might have drowned had it not been for a philosopher who failed to pause to rationalise about the situation and consider the reasons for and against rescuing her. Having offered her an oar to hold onto he asked her whether she would like a row and being Mary Wolstencraft she declined the invitation and insisted upon an argument instead, but it was indeed his night off so he introduced her to William Godwin and they got on swimmingly together and became Unitarians which meant that they had to get married once she became monstrously pregnant and authored a Frankenstein ... I don't think that these red and white links are terroribbly good, these definitions are not subtle enough, not true enough, and there are other colours to consider too :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Committee_of_Public_Safety - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermidorian_Reaction

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_White_Terror - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_White_Terror

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Terror_(disambiguation) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Terror

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Wollstonecraft - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Godwin

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Shelley - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankenstein
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dai



Joined: 09 Feb 2007
Posts: 2619

PostPosted: Tue May 21, 2013 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh yeah ... this was about Napoleon, wasn't it ... that petit elephant terrible over there in the middle of the republican room ...

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Miceal



Joined: 20 Dec 2013
Posts: 18
Location: USA

PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 3:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This looks interesting.

Napoleon is an unusual character - an endearing dictator. His letters and sayings are insightful and -like these letters- quite human. Some of the stories you can't help but cheer for him (like when he approached the army sent to capture him and told them "if you want to shoot your emperor, here I am"). He provided order and muscle at a crucial time for France and as I understand they still regard him as a hero.

That said, would we be judging so mercifully if we were among the peasants conscripted to invade russia or spain? He never really grasped the concept of war off the battlefield - like the Iberian partisans showed him, that the people have their own will regardless of emperors and their armies. And the french ended up with essentially another monarchy.
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dai



Joined: 09 Feb 2007
Posts: 2619

PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2014 3:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Micael,

one of the interesting aspects of Napoleon is that he was Corsican and this gave him a certain cache as a Republican by assciation with the idea of the Corsican Revolution which was the first of its kind in that era, led by Paoli - and the tragedy of it was that they lost their hard won independence to the French ! and the British ! and then the French again ! Pasquale Paoli was much celebrated across Europe at the time, a kind of Che Guevara poster-boy of the 18c, and Napoleon sort of had this reputation rub off on him - a bit : much in the same way that everybody knows that the Welsh are all able to sing and do hand-stands at the same time as well as simultaneously drinking a pint of beer ... we are all past-masters at this, naturally !

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Account_of_Corsica http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Boswell

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corsican_Republic

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corsica

... Corsica is part of Metropolitan France. After rule from the Republic of Genoa starting in 1282, Corsica was briefly an independent Corsican Republic from 1755 until its conquest by France in 1769. ... The French emperor Napoléon Bonaparte was born in 1769 in the Corsican capital of Ajaccio. His ancestral home, Casa Buonaparte, is today used as a museum. The northern town of Calvi claims to be the birthplace of the explorer Christopher Columbus ...

... In 1729 the Corsican Revolution for independence began. After 26 years of struggle against the Republic of Genoa, the independent Corsican Republic was formed in 1755 under the leadership of Pasquale Paoli and remained sovereign until 1769 when it was conquered by France. ... Following French losses in the Seven Years' War, Corsica was purchased by France from the Republic of Genoa in 1764. After an announcement and brief war in 1768–69 Corsican resistance was largely ended at the Battle of Ponte Novu. Despite triggering the Corsican Crisis in Britain, whose government gave secret aid, no foreign military support came for the Corsicans. Corsica was incorporated into France in 1770, marking the end of Corsican sovereignty. However, nationalist feelings still ran high. ...

... Following the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, Pasquale Paoli was able to return to Corsica from exile in Britain. In 1794 he invited British forces under Lord Hood to intervene to free Corsica from French rule. Anglo-Corsican forces drove the French from the island and established an Anglo-Corsican Kingdom. Following Spain's entry into the war the British decided to withdraw from Corsica in 1796. Corsica then returned to French rule. ... In 1814, near the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the island was briefly occupied again by British troops. The Treaty of Bastia gave the British crown sovereignty over the island, but it was later repudiated by Lord Castlereagh who insisted that the island should be returned to a restored French monarchy. ...

[ IN OTHER WORDS THE UNITED KINGDOM WAS HAPPY TO SUPPORT REPUBLICANS IF THEY COULD PROFIT FROM THEM - AND ALL OF THESE IMPERIAL POWERS WERE HAPPY TO TREAT THE CORSICANS SIMPLY AS PROPERTY TO BUY OR SELL, TO ACQUIRE THEIR COUNTRY BY CONQUEST AND TO USE CORSICA TO BARGAIN WITH FOR THEIR OWN ENDS ]
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Miceal



Joined: 20 Dec 2013
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2014 3:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Typical Brits, not much better today.

Have read about the Corsican Revolution- esp Paoli! A lost republican hero, and a visionary one considering he preceeded nearly everyone else of his era
http://www.age-of-the-sage.org/historical/biography/paoli_corsica.html

It would be interesting to know what Napoleon (or his family) thought of the Corsican republicans, as he would have grown up with the republic still in public consciousness.

They still have a seperatist movement but its quite unlike the one of Paoli's time to say the least.
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