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I strongly doubt that Napoleon ever said, “Able was I ere I saw Elba”.

I did however read somewhere that this is what he said when a reporter from the Times of London, a paper that he was fond of reading, interviewed him while he was in exile at the Mediterranean island of Elba. His words were apparently meant to be a lament that, at Elba he was powerless. The quote is a palindrome in English, ie: it reads the same both ways, but what use would a French guy have for an English palindrome?

Besides, those days it would take a reporter three weeks to reach Elba from England, a huge expense in time and money, not to mention the risks to body and mind that the round trip engendered. To do that just to talk to a washed-up windbag of an emperor for a half hour? Come on, does anybody want to interview George W? Even rednecks like Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh don’t want to have anything to do with him anymore……

The fall and the aftermath