A rare letter written by Napoleon Bonaparte in English is expected to fetch at least $100,000 at auction this weekend. The letter was reportedly written while Napoleon was in exile on Saint Helena, where he secretly studied English.
Napoleon was forced into exile and kept under careful guard by English soldiers. During that time, he decided to educate himself on the language in order to preserve his independence. Jean-Christophe Chataigner, a spokesman for the Osenat auction house, which is handling the letter, described Napoleon's actions as "a sort of revenge, a historical revenge."
"He was imprisoned by the English … and he wants to continue to have a certain degree of independence, of freedom, and to be able to learn English without his jailers knowing it was a great motivation for him," Chataigner explained.
According to "The Independent," the letter's syntax is jilted, as is normal when one writes in a foreign language. The letter, written to Napoleon's aide Emmanuel, describes his situation and future plans.
"It is two o'clock after midnight. I have now sleep. I go then finish the night into to cause [chat] with you. He shall land above seven day a ship from Europe that we shall give account from anything who this shall have been even to day of first January thousand eight hundred sixteen," Napoleon wrote.
"You shall have for this ocurens (occurrence) a letter from lady Las Case [Emmanuel's wife] that shall you learn what himself could carry well if she had co[n]ceive the your occurens. But I tire myself and you shall have of the ado at conceive my," he added.
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Experts say that though Napoleon's words may not flow perfectly, the meaning is still there. And the letter shows that Napoleon was able to grasp the English language well.
"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," Chataigner noted.