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Eylau: Precis Des Travaux de la Grande Armee

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Eylau: Precis Des Travaux de la Grande Armée

Letter to the King of Prussia from Napoleon: 12 October 1806

Letter to the King of Prussia carried by Mr. de Montesquiou, captain aide-de-camp, party of Géra, October 13, 1806, at ten o’clock in the morning, arriving at the camp of the General Hohenlohe, four o’clock in the afternoon.

“Sir, my brother, I received only on the 7th the letter of Y. M., of September 25.  I am annoyed that someone made him sign this species of lampoon (I).  I answer him only to protest to him that I will never believe the things which are contained there;  all are contrary with his character and the honor of us both.  I pity and scorn the writers of such a work.  I received immediately after, the note of his minister, October 1st.  It caught up with me on the 8th; as a good gentleman, I withheld my words to him:  I am in the middle of Saxony.  That he believes me, to have the forces such as all his forces that cannot maintain a long-term victory.  But why spill such an amount of blood?  for what goal?  I will speak with Y. M. in the same language that I had with Emperor Alexander, two days before the battle of Austerlitz.  Pray to the heavens, that sold or fanaticized men, plus the enemies of him and his reign, are not the same as mine and of my nation, and they do not give him the same councils that make him arrive at the same result! 

“Lord, I have been your friend for six years.  I do not want to benefit from this species of giddiness which animates its councils, and which are made to him to make political errors whose Europe is still very astonished, and of the military errors of the hugeness of which Europe will not be long in resounding.  If he had asked me possible things, by his note, I would have granted them to him;  he asked for my dishonor, he owes being certain of my answer.  The war is thus made between us, a forever broken alliance; but why cut the throat of his subjects?  I have not taken a victory that will be bought by the life of a number of my children.  If I were at the beginning of my military career, and if I could fear the chances of the engagements, this language would be completely out of place.  Lord, Y. M. will be overcome; he will have compromised the rest of his days, the existence of his subjects without the shade of a pretext.  He is today intact, and can treat with me in a way and in conformity with his level; he will be dealing with a different situation before one month; he has let gone to irritations as one calculated and prepared with art.  He said to me that he had often returned services to me;  eh well!  I want to give him the greatest proof of the memory that I have some; it is mainly to save his subjects the devastations and misfortunes of the war;  hardly started, he can finish it, and he will make a thing of which Europe will savage him.  If he listens to the furious which, fourteen years ago, wanted to take Paris, and which today embarked him in a war, and immediately afterwards in the also inconceivable offensive plans, he will make to his people an evil that the remainder of his life will not be able to heal.  Lord, I do not have anything to gain against Y M.;  I do not want anything and did not want anything of him:  the current war is an ill-advised war.  I feel that perhaps I irritate any sovereign;  but the circumstances do not require any care;  I tell him the things as I think them.  And besides, that Y. M. enables me to say it to him, it is not for Europe a great discovery only to learn that France is triple the population and as brave in men and hardened to war as the States of Y M.  I did not give him any real reason for war.  That he orders with this swarm malevolent and ill-considered ones to keep silent from the aspect of his throne in the respect which is owed him; is that he returns peace to it and in his States.  If he finds never again in me an ally, he will find a man eager to make only essential wars as the policy of my people, and not to spill blood in a fight with sovereigns who do not have with me any opposition of industry, trade and policy.  I request Y. M. to see in this letter only the desire that I have to save the blood of men and to avoid with a nation, which geographically could not be an enemy of mine, the land-mark repentance to have listened too much to transitory sentiments which are excited and calm myself with such an amount of facility among the people. 

“On this I request God, sir, my brother, that I have you in his holy worthy guard.

“Of your majesty, the good brother.”

Signed, NAPOLÉON. 

From my imperial camp at Géra, October 12, 1806. 


(I)  This report of a letter of King of Prussia, made up of twenty pages;  true rhapsody, and that very certainly the king could neither read, nor to understand.  We cannot print it, having waited until all that is due to the particular correspondence of the sovereigns, remains in the portfolio of the Emperor, and has not become public knowledge.  If we publish that of H. M. it is because many examples have meanwhile been made in the general districts of Prussia in the east, where this was found a very-beautiful copy, fallen between our hands.




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