Part 2 of my translation of the introductory manuscript on Murat by his friend & former finance minister, Jean-Michel Agar, the Count of Mosbourg. In this part, Mosbourg discusses the relationship between Murat and Napoleon, and how it came to be disrupted–and permanently altered–by malicious rumors spread by Murat’s enemies. Translated from Murat: Lieutenant de l’Empereur en Espagne, 1808, published by Murat’s grandnephew, Joachim Joseph André, in 1897.
The intimacy which reigned between the two princes had often permitted Murat to be attributed with a great influence on the determinations of his brother-in-law, and for a long time a flattery very common among courtiers, a maneuver very familiar to the enemies of a powerful man, had diverted towards him, when circumstances permitted, reproaches which public opinion would perhaps have brought down upon the Emperor himself.
These combined efforts of adulation and jealousy would undoubtedly not have escaped Napoleon, and his severe justice would not have failed to repress them, if fatal prejudices had not constrained, perhaps without his knowing it, his natural generosity and the old susceptibilities of his friendship for Murat; but a first calumny had brought into this friendship a vague trouble, a painful mistrust which, without being able to destroy it, had altered the character of it forever.
These last words require an explanation. From the day Bonaparte and Murat had met, they had become necessary to each other. The man of vast ideas, colossal conceptions, had recognized at the first glance the man of execution most capable of supporting his grand designs, and the latter finding in the genius of his general all the audacity which he himself had in his soul, all the audacity which tormented him because it was still uncertain and without direction, devoted himself with abandon to this impetuous guide who, perhaps alone, could command what perhaps Murat alone could undertake. There was something passionate in their reciprocated feelings. Soldiers, the one worshipped his leader as the god of war and accepted his words as oracles; the other was astonished with admiration to always see his projects so well understood and so faithfully translated into action; so all their feelings, all their tastes were in accord; their mutual trust was unbounded, and Murat was perhaps the only man who obtained from Bonaparte unreserved effusion.
Only a squadron leader when he was called to be aide-de-camp to his general in chief, Murat, in the course of one or two campaigns, obtained from this genius who had divined for him the grade of colonel, that of general of brigade, a mission of trust to the king of Sardinia in Turin, an illustrious mission to Paris where he solemnly handed over to the Directory twenty flags captured from the enemy, a military mission to Livorno from which he chased the English, and finally a mission of peace to Rome where so many great memories must have stirred his warlike imagination so vividly. Independently of these public testimonies, Napoleon lavished on Murat the most flattering marks of attachment, and Murat responded to them with an ardor which nothing could either shake nor weaken.
Envy and intrigue were to trouble this happy accord. Those who wanted to harm Murat or supplant him seized on the occasion of his journey to Paris to penetrate the most injurious suspicions into the mind of the general-in-chief in the Army of Italy. He soon recognized the injustice of them, and yet he never completely forgot the offensive rumors which had so cruelly wounded him.
Murat had to struggle all his life against these dangerous memories, which would embitter his brother-in-law’s discontentments on the slightest subject of complaint.
During war, the Emperor saw only the services rendered by Murat, or those he was able to render, and delighted in praising his skill in command of the cavalry, his unstoppable valor, his ardent activity which left the enemy no rest.
During peace, friendship alone spoke also in the heart of Napoleon in his private interviews with his former aide-de-camp; so he liked to talk to him about everything he had done, about everything he wanted to do, delighting to astonish him by the extent of his plans, by the energy of his determinations, and sometimes by the independence of his political morality.
These intimacies much agitated the rivals of Murat and especially this very numerous party of the imperial court who were specially attached to the fortune of the Beauharnais. All their efforts were applied to weaken his credit and even to lose it, either with Napoleon, or with the public whose opinion had such a powerful reaction on that of the head of the state.
The absence of Murat when he became king of Naples greatly emboldened his adversaries. It was easy for them to multiply the subjects of misunderstanding between him and the Emperor, as well as to accredit at court, in the army, in the interior of France calumnies of which he was unaware or which he disdained to combat.
This is how the most ill-founded prejudices were spread against Murat, and it was on the basis of these prejudices that writers, more passionate than skillful, often believed they could throw at him, despite even the testimony of the Emperor himself, all the reproaches from which they wanted to free the memory of Napoleon.
 Mosbourg refers here to the rumors of Murat having either had an affair, or at least been just a bit too flirtatious, with Napoleon’s wife Josephine during his brief return to Paris. While Napoleon supposedly came to believe the rumors were untrue, his attitude towards Murat noticeably changed from this point and, as Mosbourg points out, from this time forward there always seemed to be an extra touch of harshness in Napoleon’s displeasure with Murat that wasn’t necessarily present towards others.
 Mosbourg includes here a very lengthy account (which I’ll translate later on) of the rumors that reached Napoleon in Spain in 1809 of a plot between Talleyrand and Fouché to replace Napoleon with Murat in the event that the Emperor died without a direct heir. These rumors, in the long term, caused far more damage to the relationship between Murat and Napoleon than even the rumors of Murat and Josephine, and would figure largely into the Emperor’s increasingly harsh treatment of Murat from 1809 until Murat’s defection. “From that time,” writes Agar, “Napoleon’s distrust of Murat continually increased, often showing itself in outbursts that were very offensive to the King of Naples. The latter, whose pride was easily touched and who did not know the real cause of the criticisms that the emperor seemed to delight in showering on him, supposed that this was part of a set plan against him, and that the emperor was only looking for a pretext to take away his crown.”