I was lucky enough to be able to find a copy of this available from a seller on Amazon. Murat’s youngest daughter, Louise, wrote it for her children, not only to describe her childhood memories of her beloved father, but also to justify and explain his actions in 1814-1815, and defend his reputation. One of my goals for 2020 is to work my way through the entire book. Though my French reading has improved a great deal since I started translating Murat’s letters a couple years ago, I still have a lot of work to do, so it’s going to take a while but I think it’ll be well worth the effort.
I’m also planning to translate some excerpts as I go, and post them here. The excerpt below is from pages 15-17. Louise describes the living arrangements of the Royal Palace in Naples, the terrace which became such a precious place for the royal couple during their reign, and her father’s love of playing with his children at every available opportunity.
We were staying at the Royal Palace on the upper floor; our accommodation occupied half the facade, angled on the sea-side and terminating on a large terrace covered with arbors and flowers. The great apartments of the King were underneath ours, and his bedroom and the rooms where he usually stayed were underneath our terrace. The main building occupied by the Queen was far enough away from that occupied by the King, but united to that one by the famous terrace, unique, I believe, in its kind and that its position renders such a beauty… that even now that I have seen and traveled so much, I could not imagine anything more beautiful!… A long arbor of lemon trees planted in the open ground occupied the center, and as this terrace is located at the top of a multi-story building, it is with good reason that I’ve often heard it compared to the famous hanging gardens of antiquity! But I doubt that, from his gardens, Semiramis could enjoy a view as beautiful as that offered by the golf of Naples in all its splendor.
This great terrace served as communication between the apartments of the King and those of the Queen; they alone could traverse it, it was exclusively reserved to them. The magnificent climate of Naples permitted them to walk there at every hour, by day and by night, and it was quite rare that, in order to return from one place to the other, they resigned themselves to traversing the interminable interior detours of the Palace.
I said that we were lodged underneath our Father; a small hidden staircase led from his living room to our apartment. He alone had the key and came to see us at every moment of liberty left to him by his occupations.
You will find in all of the books of the time anecdotes that will speak to you of the bravery, of the generosity of Murat, of his chivalrous character… but what I alone can tell you, my children, is how good a father he was! My Mother also loved us, but she wasn’t effusive… we would sometimes remain for entire days without seeing her! He was our friend, I would almost say our playmate. He didn’t have a set time for his visits; sometimes he went up to our place barely awake… sometimes after a Council of Ministers; he came to relax, to unwind by making us jump upon his knees, and if a quarter of an hour interval separated an audience from his habitual walk, he took advantage of it to come embrace us before leaving. So what a welcome we gave him! What a celebration when we saw him open the door of the little staircase! How we ran into his arms!… We even went so far as to tutoyer* him… but this only when we were well alone with him!… The usage then was not allowed, like today, this familiar fashion of speaking to one’s parents, and in front of our Mother, we never would have dared.
*Tutoyer: to refer to someone with the familiar tu, rather than the formal vous generally used for one’s elders/superiors.