Forty letters to Letitia–Part Three (XXI-XXX)

Part One (letters I-X) can be found here.

Part Two (letters XI-XX) can be found here.

SourceQuarante lettres de Joachim Murat à sa fille Laetitia. Revue Napoléonienne, Vol 2, July 1908, pages 1-11. [The letters are published in two parts; both parts are available digitally on HathiTrust.org.]

(All letters are rendered in all-lowercase as Murat wrote them.)

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Letter XXI

At the castle of Matuzero, 11 August 1812

my dear letitia, i’ve received your letter from the 29th of june; it is full of tenderness and reproaches, all this is equally agreeable to me, however you do me a great wrong because i write you often, that is to say as many times as i can. madame de roquemont gives me great pleasure in telling me of your good health and especially of your application to your lessons and to making you the master of yourself. louise also works, she grows, she becomes beautiful, all this would make me so happy if i was in the midst of you, but i am in the midst of villainous people, and don’t know when i will be able to see you again. mama writes me that you grow more beautiful every day, i thought that an impossible thing, but you efface, it is said, the radiance of the things with which you are adorned, such is your own at the same time, this is perfect. what joy you will prepare for me upon my return. how happy i will be to find myself with mama, with my lovely and tender family! do not think of these moments, they have to mature…. farewell, amiable child, think of your papa. tell yourselves, all together: “if papa suffers, it is for me, if he exposes his life, it is still for me, if he makes wishes, it is still for me.” yes, my good letitia. it is for you that i brave so many dangers, that i bear so many fatigues and deprivations. farewell, i am sad, when i should be happy. because i have received letters from mama, from achille, and from letitia. i embrace you. embrace your brothers and louise.

J.N

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Letter XXII

Smolensk, 19 August 1812

my good letitia, today is the day of my fête*, you will gather today as a family; how i regret not finding myself in the midst of my children to receive their wishes and the beautiful flowers that my letitia would have presented me; i would have given her roses to place on her head, but she would have no need of them to be pretty, she is so good, she loves her father so much, she works hard, she will make me so happy. your letter made me shed many tears; but the tears have done me great good. they were flowing for such a beautiful cause! my dear letitia, several months more and i will be returned to mama and to my letitia to leave them no more. tell these ladies that i have received their letters and that i have been very sensitive to the wishes that they have made for my happiness on the day of my fête. they contribute to it greatly, since they were charged with your education and that [of] my good louise. embrace her; i hope to find her grown. 

farewell, my friend, farewell, my beautiful letitia, mama tells me that she is very happy with you. she reproaches me for having spoiled you, i believe the reproach would suit her better. she is doing better, and that does me greatgood. all yours.

J.N.

*I’m not sure which fête Murat refers to here; possibly one in honor of the anniversary of his coronation. Fêtes were also held on his and Caroline’s mutual birthday (25 March) and the birthday of the Emperor (15 August). [Update: I believe he is referring to his Saint’s day feast, which is 16 August, and he either misdated the letter or misremembered the date of the feast.]

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Letter XXIII

In bivouac, 3 September 1812

At Juba in front of Gjatsk

A word to my beautiful letitia. her letters do me great good, they make me forget the fatigues of many days, they make them more bearable, even agreeable in thinking that it is for my adorable family that i fight, and that the laurel leaves that i gather cannot spoil the angelic figure, the charming head of my letitia. you give me great pleasure in informing me of the restoration of mama’s health, and assuring me that you discuss me often. mme de roquemont is very happy with you. how happy i will be when we will be able to recommence our pleasant soirées! you will sing, and sing marvelously. how happy i will be from your soirées. tell mme de roquemont and mme d’arlincourt that i let d’arlincourt go with pain, he is a brave man. 

farewell, my letitia, write me more often, make wishes for my return. make mama happy. farewell, i hold you to my heart, and i embrace you very tenderly.

your affectionate father

J.N.

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Letter XXIV

7 September 1812*

my beautiful and good letitia. i am well; your father was preserved for you. give thanks to god; he will receive with kindness the wishes and actions of grace from hearts as pure as yours. embrace my louise. embrace mama on my behalf. i embrace you very tenderly.

J.N.

*Murat wrote this letter in the aftermath of the Battle of Borodino.

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Letter XXV

Molodetschno 3 December [1812]

my beautiful letitia. i’ve received your two letters, as well as your portrait. i found it very resembling, and as fresh as the roses that adorn your head. –i am very happy, i also received letters from mama and from achille. my family enjoys good health, they love me, there remains only the desire for our reunion. your italian letter is charming. –you see by the date of my letter that i am two hundred leagues closer*, but how far i still am! it has been a long time since i wrote you. we march continuously. i am very thin, i am very tired. yet i am well.** but i am unhappy, far my from good family…. when will i see you, my good friends? soon i hope. farewell, my good friend, love always your father, speak often of him to the queen, and make her very happy.

i embrace you with all my heart, as well as my good louise whom i love.

J.N.

*The French army is retreating from Russia at this point.

**A note in the original text says “Here, a line is crossed out.”

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Letter XXVI

Vilna, 9 December 1812

my beautiful letitia, i received your letter for the 1st of the year, i thank you for the lovely gift that you made me and for the wishes you made for my return. i vividly desire it and from here on there will only be happiness for me with the queen and my dear and good [children]. farewell, my good and tender friend, i hope to see you again soon. you know how much i love you. i embrace you very tenderly.

J.N.

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Letter XXVII

Konigsberg, 23 December 1812

my beautiful letitia, your letter from the 18th made me very happy. i received one from the queen and from all my children, and all expressed the wish of seeing me again! how beautiful it will be, how sweet it will be for my heart, the day when i will see my charming family again! oh! nevermore do i want to be separated from them, neither glory, nor any other joy can replace that which I find with them. i see that you have all made progress; may i find you grown up, and that is to say great personages. let your beautiful mother say; under the pelisse and with the cane one could only find a very lovely person of eleven years and not an old one, the roses of your complexion would destroy the artifice. farewell, my true friend, love me always. i merit all the tenderness of my children by that which i bear for them! and then aren’t my labors undertaken for them?

how upset i am about the accident that has occurred to the parakeet. he was superb, his head was crowned with an admirable plumage. the furs were also taken and i find nothing worthy of you, worthy of mama, except for several black fox hides which are very valuable; mama will give them to you for a garniture. farewell my child. be always good, work hard, make mama and mme de roquemont happy. i embrace you very tenderly.

J.N.

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Letter XXVIII

Lecce, 18 April 1813

my beautiful and very dear letitia. i received your letter, i do not know how to tell you all the happiness it caused me; how much i appreciate your memory, the expression and your sentiments and the wishes that you make for my return. my absence will not be much longer. soon i will be returning to my family. farewell, my tender friend, embrace louise for me. 

your affectionate father,

J.N.

i’m writing to the queen. i hope that you will make [her] happy. embrace her for me.

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Letter XIX

Lecce, 21 April 1813

my beautiful letitia, again today a letter from you and you promise me a letter upon your arrival at portici. how good you are! how sensitive i am to this exactitude, to such a tender memory. –i’ve traveled for these two days on very bad roads, but also on the other hand i’ve visited a very good people. 

i will be at brindisi tomorrow and after tomorrow at bari; each day i am going to be closer to the queen and my good children, and towards the end of the month i will embrace them. farewell, embrace my good louise for me, i embrace you very tenderly. make good and assiduous company for mama.

your good father,

J. Napoléon

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Letter XXX

Dresden[?] 14 August 1813

my dear letitia, i arrived in good health, i received your letters to the emperor, they seemed to please him. i’m doing well and i embrace you with all my heart, as well as my good louise. 

J. Napoléon

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