A Love Note from Napoleon to Josephine

Posted by on Feb 14, 2014 in Blog | 4 comments

Engraved with love sincere

Engraved with love sincere

It’s Valentine’s Day–the one day of the year we show our loved ones how much we cherish them. Or maybe it’s a good day just to celebrate THINGS we adore like chocolate, champagne, beaches, French films…

Today I bring you one of the greatest (and most terrible) love stories of all time–that between Josephine and Napoleon. There were many letters between the couple, but here is a snippet of Napoleon’s beautiful words from the Italian Campaign:

Josephine, en Absence

Port-Maurice, April 3, 1796

“Away from you, my one and only Josephine, there is no pleasure in life: away from you, the world is a desert in which I am all alone, without even the solace of expressing my feelings. You have robbed me of more than my heart: all my thoughts are about you alone. Whenever I am bored and worried with business, whenever I am troubled as to how things will turn out, whenever I am disappointed with mankind, and feel inclined to curse the day I was born, I put my hand to my heart: there throbs your likeness; I have but to look at it, and my love is perfect happiness, and there is pleasure in every prospect but that of long absence from my beloved.

What art did you learn to captivate all my faculties, to absorb all my character into yourself? It is a devotion, dearest, which will end only with my life. ‘He lived from Josephine’: there is my epitaph. I strive to be near you: I am nearly dead with desire for your presence. It is madness! I cannot realize that I am getting further and further away from you. So many regions and countries part us asunder! How long it will be before you read these characters, these imperfect utterances of a troubled heart of which you are queen! Ah! wife that I adore. I cannot tell what lot awaits me; only, that, if it keeps me any longer away from you, it will be insupportable, beyond what bravery can bear.”


Engagement Ring

Engagement Ring



And this is just an excerpt! What a girl would give today for a letter with such passion from her beloved. I suppose we’ll have to settle for text messages and emails–except today. May your day be filled with romance, or, at the very least, surrounded by people and things you love!





Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Natalia Sylvester

    Wow. That boy sure knew how to write!

    It’s also kinda sad, to read such promises and know how it turned out…but it’s also what makes their story so fascinating.

    • Heather Webb

      Didn’t he, Natalia? You should see some of the racier letters he wrote about her little black forest, etc. Ha! But yes, it is so sad, isn’t it? I wish more of her letters had been preserved. I would love to see what she had to say in response.

  2. Julia Munroe Martin

    That’s beautiful!! One of my favorite things about historical research is reading letters between famous lovers who are also amazing writers (for instance Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife wrote in a marriage journal! Very cool.). Inspiring post!

    • Heather Webb

      I’d love to read Hawthorne’s letters! I never have. I’ll have to go look those up, Julia. Thanks for the tip. They really are fun to read. It’s like looking into someone’s heart.

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