Napoleon’s Longwood letter has experts debating

Alabaster bust of Napoleon at The Briars

Napoleon bust at The Briars on St Helena

A letter written by Napoleon at Longwood – in English – has set commentators off on a debate about whether he was any good at his captors’ language.

The letter is tipped to fetch in the region of £65,000 at an auction in the French town of Fontainebleau on Sunday.

America’s CNN quotes auction house expert Jean-Christophe Chataigner saying the emperor learned English without his captors’ knowledge as a form of revenge.

“I think that French people who learn English today make lots more mistakes than Napoleon at the time, so it’s a letter which is relatively well-written.”

But the BBC quotes lines from the letter, written to his secret tutor:

“It is two o’clock after midnight, I have enow [enough] sleep, I go then finish the night into to cause with you,” he wrote to the Comte de las Cases.

The BBC’s Paris correspondent Hugh Schofield said Napoleon’s pronunciation was “even worse” that his writing:

“The comte said it was like a completely new language, which only he, the teacher, could understand. Still, you have to admire the panache.”

SEE ALSO:
St Helena goes on show – in Australia – Napoleon exhibition

LINKS:
Rare Napoleon letter in English goes on sale – CNN
Napoleon’s halting English on show in auction letter – BBC

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