Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Emperor's Old Clothes

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres - Napoleon on his Imperial throne, 1806

Napoleon was passionately attached to the theatre and (to a lesser extent) the opera, but there was scarcely any other aspect of Parisian life in which he interfered more. From Milan in 1805, Napoleon told Fouché that he thought a new play about Henri IV was 'too close to the present day' even at two centuries' distance (clearly he viewed the assassination of Henri somewhat subjectively, in the light of various recent plots against himself). He added, 'I think that you should prevent it, without showing your intervention.' In particular he objected to the words, in the heroic King's mouth, 'je tremble' on the ground that 'a sovereign may be afraid, but he must never say so.

From Seven Ages of Paris by Alistair Horne.