Able Was I, Ere I Saw Elba — Napoleon’s Shortest Speech

Napoleon J. Bonaparte
Napoleon E.J. Bonaparte Empire Period

Able was I, ere I saw Elba. It has sense to it; Napoleon was imprisoned on the Isle of Elba, see? He was able, before he was imprisoned there. If you read the sentence backwards, it says exactly the same thing. which is called a Palindrome.

Some possibly familiar Classic Palindromes follow:

Madam, I’m Adam …

A man, a plan, a canal — Panama.

Rats live on no evil star.

Was it a cat I saw.

The ancient Greeks loved these things, but how can ya blame them? Many poems have been composed along these lines, some of which are abhorrent, others merely tedious, no worse than most. Actually, Napoleon escaped from Elba and returned to power, briefly, but then was defeated by Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo (as in “He/She has met his/her Waterloo”, meaning epic fail on a personal level.).

The Napoleonic Wars furnished a then tired, exhausted and war-weary Europe with a splendid turnout all the way to Russia, thus bringing novel-writing and historian trivia to a new level of something or other, no one knows quite what.

Napoleon’s more infamous wife? Josephine??? Or Marie-Louise? Only their hairdressers knew for sure.

Napoleon’s children? Josephine was unable to become pregnant, due to an abortion performed in her early twenties. She had numerous lovers, the most publicly known of which was Hippolyte Charles, a lieutenant in the Hussars, and her children by previous arrangements, Eugene and Hortense, were married off as political prizes.

Napoleon sent a letter to his brother, which was intercepted by the British; the letter appeared in the English and French press, much to the embarrassment of Napoleon. Needing heirs, he divorced Josephine and married Marie-Louise, Archduchess of Austria.

Their only child, Napoleon Francis Joseph Charles, became Napoleon II and reigned for a whole two weeks. When asked in the Afterlife how he had died, he reportedly said, “tuberculosis”.

It isn’t that The First Napoleon was lacking in the on-the-side lover department himself; during his Egyptian Campaign he took as a mistress Pauline Bellisle Foures, the wife of one of his subordinate officers, who could complain, but to whom? She was known by the troops as “Napoleon’s Cleopatra”.

A partial list of Napoleon’s illegitimate children:

Charles Leon, out of Eleonore Denuelle de la Plaigne and Count Alexandre Joseph Colonna Walewski out of Countess Marie Walewska, were both formally acknowledged by him. To that short list of acknowledged kids can be added:

Karl Eugin von Mühlfeld out of Victoria Kraus

Helene Napoleone Bonaparte out of Albine de Montholon

Jules  Barthelemy Saint-Hilaire, out of an unknown single mom of the 19th century.

Hitler made a point of visiting Napoleon personally, when he toured Paris after the German invasion and takeover.  Napoleon, Emperor of France and Ruler of Most of Europe,  ended his career occupying the Emperor’s Suite at the famous Hotel des Invalides in the 7th Arrondissement of Paris, a beautiful place to stay, and so close to shopping and entertainment!