January 13 1815: An Interview with Napoleon

“On January 13, 1815, Napoleon spent two hours with John Macnamara and was delighted to hear that France was ‘agitated’.90 He admitted that he had stayed in Moscow too long and said ‘I made a mistake about England in trying to conquer it.’ He was adamant that his role in international affairs was over. ‘History has a triumvirate of great men,’ Macnamara stated, ‘Alexander, Caesar, and Napoleon.’ At this, Napoleon looked steadfastly at him without speaking, and Macnamara said ‘he thought he saw the Emperor’s eyes moisten.’ It is what he had wanted people to say ever since he was a schoolboy. Eventually Napoleon replied: ‘You would be right if a ball had killed me at the battle of Moscow but my late reverses will efface all the glory of my early years.’ He added that Wellington was ‘a brave man’ but that he should not have been made ambassador. Napoleon laughed frequently during the conversation, as he did when told that the Prince Regent had welcomed his divorce from Josephine, as it had set a precedent for him to divorce the wife he hated, Caroline of Brunswick. Macnamara asked if he feared assassination. ‘Not by the English; they are not assassins,’ he said, but he conceded that he did have to be cautious with regard to the nearby Corsicans. As he left, Macnamara told Bertrand that the Emperor ‘must be a very good-humoured man and never in a passion’. Bertrand replied with a smile: ‘I know him a little better than you.’”

 an excerpt from the excellent Napoleon the Great by Andrew Roberts.

2 thoughts on “January 13 1815: An Interview with Napoleon

  1. Excellent webpage. With regard to the quote from John Macnamara is this the same Macnamara who was MP for Leicester from 1784-1790 and contested Radnorshire in 1802?

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