“You have undoubtedly forgotten the 25th of March”

One of my favorite historical coincidences is the fact that Joachim and Caroline Murat share the same birthday–the 25th of March (of 1767 and 1782, respectively). Unfortunately the nature of Murat’s duties often led to the two spending their mutual birthday hundreds of miles apart–after 1805, they would not be together on that particular day again until 1809. 

On the 26th of March, 1807, Caroline wrote Joachim the following letter, lightheartedly chastising him for forgetting the day. (And as we’ll see further below that, Joachim actually hadn’t forgotten after all.)


Paris, 26 March 1807

All my little company, which is limited to three or four people, has made me verses to celebrate my fête, and I hasten to send them to you. I do not want to make you reproaches, but you have undoubtedly forgotten the 25th of March, because in all your letters, you don’t speak of it to me. The children came with bouquets to recite verses to me. Achille said so well and with such firmness these words–“Wanting to break the chains, I burn to fly on the path of honor”–that I couldn’t prevent myself from crying, and I much regretted not seeing their father as spectator of this little scene; the other two were charming, even the last one who presented me a bouquet, I asked her: “Who is Mama’s ugly girl?” She responded: “It’s me.” And who is Papa’s ugly girl?” “It’s Mama.” We couldn’t help but laugh at this mischief. Happily for me, you do not have the opinion of your daughter.

(…) Farewell, you are unjust, you see that I write you as often as possible and you always complain about not receiving my letters.

Farewell again, despite your injustice, I embrace you very tenderly.



As it turns out, Joachim had remembered her upcoming birthday–how could he not, when it was his too?–and had actually written her a poem affixed to a letter to the Emperor dated 16 March 1807:

Whilst to celebrate the queen of Elysium,
Each in his groves runs to gather the pansy, the pale violet, the lilacs, the jasmins,
May Terpsichore*, while joking in the alleys of these gardens,
With a light step show her grace and suppleness,
And may my daughter on this day make you forget her mistress,
Ah! What superfluous regrets! But to celebrate her birth
Instead of roses and flowers, I send you the tears of the essence.


*Terpsichore is a Greek muse and the goddess of dance and chorus.

[Reposted from my Tumblr.]


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