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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

Empress Eugénie

  • [Eugénie Marie de Montijo; born at Grenada, Spain, May 5, 1826; educated in France and England; attracted, by her beauty and graces, the attention of Napoleon III., to whom she was married January, 1853; after the fall of the empire resided in England.]
  • No, sire: it is French which has taught me love (c’est le Français qui m’appris l’amour).

  • When asked by Louis Napoleon, when Prince President, if love had taught her French.
  • She made another graceful answer when visiting the hospital of Amiens during the cholera, in 1866: “It is our manner of going under fire.”
  • Seeing that the victory of Prussia over Austria in 1866 threatened to destroy the prestige of France, the Empress exclaimed, pointing to the Prince Imperial, “That child will never reign, if nothing be done to efface Sadowa.” She is therefore supposed to have urged the declaration of war by France against Prussia in 1870, and even to have said of it, “This is my war” (C’est ma guerre à moi). When the early victories of the German army made it probable that Italy would seize the opportunity to enter Rome, and deprive the Pope of his temporal power, the exclamation is attributed to the Empress, “Better the Prussians in Paris, than the Italians in Rome!”
  • That the French were deceived in supposing their army ready for a campaign, is beyond a doubt. No one rests under a greater responsibility for this deception, than Marshal Lebœuf, who declared, when asked in June, 1870, of the state of the French forces, “We are so well equipped, that, if the war were to last ten years, we should not have to buy the button of a soldier’s gaiter” (Nous sommes tellement prêts, que si la guerre durait dix ans, nous n’aurions pas même à acheter un bouton de guêtre). Émile Ollivier, the pseudo-liberal prime minister of the decadence of the second empire, on the announcement of the declaration of war, said, July 15, “From this day a great responsibility weighs upon my colleagues and myself: we accept it with a light heart” (De ce jour commence pour mes collègues et pour moi une grunde responsibilité: nous l’acceptons d’un cœur léger).