Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Bridge of Lodi
Napoleon kept up a voluminous correspondence, but, in doing so, provided future scholars with records of pretty strange and varying reactions to major life events. His earliest letters, written before Napoleon became the practial, almost Machevallian politician who enjoyed demolishing opposing armies that frightens English historians to this day, are particularly bewildering in range.
Take, for example, four reactions to the Battle of Lodi, one of Napoleon's first battles during his famous Italian Campaign:
1. To the bishop of Lodi, in response to a general, 'Oh, what was all that fighting yesterday, was it important?: "Non fu grancosa." (It was no big deal.)
2. To Carnot, the head of the Directory's military operations: "The battle of Lodi gives the whole of Italy to the Republic."
3. To Marmont, an aide-de-camp who later became a Mareshal: "They [the directory] haven't seen anything yet... In our time, no one has the slightest conception of what is great. It is up to me to give them an example."
4. To Josephine, his adored wife: "I shall go berserk if I do not have a letter from you."