Letter from Napoleon Bonaparte to Archdeacon Lucien Bonaparte, his great-uncle, on the death of Charles Bonaparte (n°4, March 1785)

Author(s) : BONAPARTE Napoléon
Share it

This early letter written by Napoleon is taken from the Correspondance générale de Napoléon Bonaparte, Volume I: Les apprentissages, 1784-1797 (edited by Fayard/Fondation Napoléon, 2004) (English version based on a 1961 translation by John Eldred Howard in Letters and Documents of Napoleon: Vol I: The Rise to Power, with additional notes translated by Rebecca Young)

[Link to original in French].

Letter from Napoleon Bonaparte to Archdeacon Lucien Bonaparte, his great-uncle, on the death of Charles Bonaparte (n°4, March 1785)
Napoleon Bonaparte, a student at the Royal Military School of Brienne, at the age of 15 © Fondation Napoléon

To Archdeacon Lucien Bonaparte (Napoleon’s paternal great-uncle was the Archdeacon of Ajaccio and in charge of the family’s affairs.) at Ajaccio

Royal Military School, Paris, 23 March, 1785 (The date of this letter is usually given as March 23. The date 28 is clearly legible at the top of the facsimile of the original in the Fonds Napoléon of the French National Archives.)

My dear Uncle,

It would be useless to tell you how affected I have been by the tragedy that has befallen us. We have lost in him a father, and God knows what a father he was, what is tenderness and love for us! Alas! In everything he was the protector of our youth. You have lost in him an obedient and grateful nephew. You know better than I how much he loved you. I will even dare to say that through his death our country has lost an enlightened and disinterested citizen. That dignity with which he has several times been honoured shows the confidence his compatriots had in him, and yet heaven lets him die, and where? A hundred leagues from home, in a strange country, far from all he held
most dear. One son, it is true, was present at that terrible moment; that must have been a great consolation to him, but certainly not to be compared with the triple joy he would have felt if he had ended his career in his own house, beside his wife and all his family. But the supreme Being has not allowed it to be so. His will is immutable. He alone can console us. Alas! Though he has taken from us what we held most dear, he has at least left those who alone can replace him. Agree, then, to be for us as the father we have lost. Our affection and gratitude will be equal to so great a service. I end by wishing that your health may be like my own.

Your very humble and obedient servant and nephew, (Autograph Facsimile of a letter, French National Archives, 400 AP 137)

Napoleone di Buonaparte

Share it