The Powers of Europe having settled by common agreement that Bonaparte should be sent to St. Helena and kept on that island under the surveillance and responsibility of England, they agreed that each of them should have the power to place a Commissioner there. The Emperor has chosen you to fulfil this mission, and his Majesty hopes that you will justify, by the zeal and intelligence with which you will acquit yourself of it, the confidence which he shows you on this occasion. Accordingly, you will proceed from here to London and you will place yourself in agreement with the English authorities, under the auspices of Count Liéven, as to the means of securing transportation to your new destination. It is under the immediate orders of that Ambassador that it is his Majesty's intention that you should place yourself. Accordingly, you will follow in their entirety the directions which he will give you henceforth, and in particular those which will be necessitated by the arrangements which he will make toward you with the English Cabinet. On my side I shall be able to give you only a few general observations on the manner in which your mission should be carried out. It is by no means to increase the means of surveillance and still less to control those which England will take that the Powers have decided to send the Commissioners. In this respect our confidence in the loyalty of the British Government must be complete, and it is not to be doubted that the intervention of several agents of other Powers, far from facilitating and enforcing measures of safety, would only serve to complicate them and might even compromise them. It is England which is charged with the whole responsibility. It is then to her that we must leave the choice of means which she will judge necessary in this connection. However, a European significance has been given to this whole affair in making Bonaparte the prisoner of Europe, and it is on that account that the idea has been conceived of sending to St. Helena Commissioners from each Power. In order to conform to the motives which I have just laid before you, you will then avoid carefully the appearance of intervening and of making pronouncements on the measures which the English Government and authorities will take. Your rôle will be purely passive. You will observe all and render an account of all. You will bring to bear in your relations with the English officials a spirit of conciliation in keeping with the bonds of alliance and friendship uniting the two Courts. In your relations with Bonaparte you will observe that discretion and moderation required by a situation so delicate and that personal respect which is due to him. a You will neither avoid nor seek occasions to see him, and in that respect you will conform strictly to the rules which will be established by the Governor. But you will note daily all that you may learn of him and you will specially apply, yourself to write the salient features of his conversations either with you or with the Commissioners of other Powers, or with other people. An accurate journal kept up with care and regularity cannot fail to offer to history material of great value. However, never must that consideration encourage you to deviate from the way which is traced out for you above. You will address your reports to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and they will be forwarded through Count Liéven. His Majesty the Emperor has deigned to award you a salary of 1200 pounds sterling, together with 2000 ducats for the expenses of your voyage and establishment. You will receive herewith the copy of your ukase relative to this beneficent grant.
Instructions of Count Liéven
His Imperial Majesty in informing me of your destination, the island of St. Helena, and the relations which will result between you and the Emperor's Ambassador at London, has asked me to supplement the instructions with which you have previously been provided by such others as my relations with the British Government may cause me to judge useful to you at the post to which you are about to proceed.
I cannot better follow the instructions of his Majesty the Emperor in regard to the task laid down for you than by making your instructions a subject of frank deliberation with the Secretary of State for the Colonies. It is important for you, Monsieur le Comte, to know that Lord Bathurst was pleased to express to me his entire assent in respect to the rules it has been enjoined upon you to follow. This circumstance should increase still further, if possible, your anxiety to conform strictly to the directions which have been given to you in regard to your relations with the Governor of the island as well as with Bonaparte; and by deserving the confidence of the former you will be sure faithfully to fulfil the task which has been confided to you. I recommend to you, especially in view of the very judicious observations of my Lord Bathurst, not to deviate in your personal relations to Bonaparte from the rule which is prescribed for you by our court, and according to which these relations should be maintained only with the knowledge of the Governor.
There is one point which the Secretary of State has desired that I mention to you particularly: It is not impossible that during your stay at St. Helena chance may cause you to notice some involuntary omission in the measures established to guard the person of Bonaparte. In such a case I am requested by the British Government to ask you to communicate frankly your observations to the Governor of the island. . . .
London, 15/27 March, 1816.
My Reports to Count Nesselrode
At last I have the honor of informing your Excellency that I am on the point of embarking for my destination. The frigate New Castle has just entered the harbor of Portsmouth, prepared to receive the foreign Commissioners and to take them to St. Helena, where that vessel is to replace the Northumberland, which returns to England. I am at this moment terminating with Baron Stürmer some unimportant arrangements, after which we await before setting sail only the Marquis de Montchenu, French Commissioner, whose departure from Paris has been delayed a few days.
Permit me to profit by this occasion to make a representation which costs my dignity much, especially in the gratitude which I have for the numberless benefits which his Majesty the Emperor has already shown me, but which is indispensable because it concerns the dignity of his service. I have always believed that the funds which had been granted me for my establishment and those assigned for its maintenance were more than sufficient to enable me to live properly at St. Helena. However, having secured the most exact and substantial information on this point, having at different intervals questioned both General Beatson, the last Governor of the island, and Sir Hudson Lowe, the present Governor, and twenty other people, all of whom have been on the spot, I am assured in the most positive manner that these means, ample as they may appear, do not correspond to the cost of living in the country, nor to the quantity of objects with which it is necessary to be provided on arriving. In spite of this certainty which I have been acquiring for a long time, I have not wished to make it an object of special report to your Excellency before the other two Commissioners have asked and obtained relief. Baron Stürmer has been the first to make a request at his Court. What he learned about St. Helena made him so dissatisfied over his fate that, profiting by the long delay preventing our speedy departure, he proceeded to Milan to see Count Metternich with the inclosed memorandum from General Beatson and a despatch from Count Esterházy to support him. His trip has had the desired effect. His representations were deemed well founded, and he has returned to London provided with the German document, a copy of which I take the liberty to inclose herewith. By this you will see, Monsieur le Comte, that if it is proposed to regulate the definitive allowance of Baron Stürmer according to what he will communicate regarding the prices at St. Helena, he will in the meantime be given the means to meet his expenses - and that is, as a matter of fact, the only fitting arrangement in cases which cannot be supported by precedent. As for the Marquis de Montchenu, the Duc de Richelieu has only been waiting for this decision of the Emperor of Austria in order to assure him of the same advantages. As a consequence of all these circumstances, I believe, it is only my duty to beg your Excellency to emphasize to his Majesty the Emperor the difficulties of the position that I occupy. I have been obliged, in order to suffice for the supply of provisions and endless purchases which I have had to make, to leave in London a third of my salary, and it is with only the other two thirds that I am going to struggle at St. Helena against all that may happen. You will understand, Monsieur le Comte, how I shall suffer as a Russian officer in cutting such a sad figure before the English functionaries. That it is which causes me to hope your Excellency will deign to interest himself in my favor and will not delay in rescuing me from a painful uncertainty.
I have the honor to be, etc.
Memorandum for His Excellency Monseigneur le
It seems to me that the august Sovereigns of Europe, when naming Commissioners for the island of St. Helena, were not aware of the inconveniences, the very heavy expenses, and the privations to which the latter would be exposed.
One of the greatest difficulties to which they will be subjected at first will be to find proper quarters on account of the small size of the city of St. James, which contains scarcely thirty adequate houses, even they being occupied in great part at this moment by the civil and military employees of the East India Company and by natives of the island.
If any of these houses were for rent it could scarcely be had for less than two or three hundred pounds sterling a year, of course entirely unprovided with furniture. Moreover it is probable that such houses will be rented by officers of the troops which are to form the new garrison of the island. It is true that there are some houses belonging to the lower class where travelers are received coming from India, but living is much dearer there than in the most expensive hotels of London. A master, man or woman, pays thirty shillings a day for board and lodging; a servant of either sex, and even down to the smallest child, fifteen shillings a day. Furthermore, it is reasonable to believe that such an arrangement would scarcely be fitting to the rank and position of an Imperial or Royal Commissioner. Foreseeing all these inconveniences, I suggested four months ago to Lord Buckinghamshire, Secretary of State for the Indies, to send to St. Helena a considerable quantity of lumber in order to have houses built of all sizes.
Another subject which should be taken into consideration is the high cost of the products of the island. During the last twelve to fifteen years, in 1811, the prices were as follows:
|Beef||14 pence a pound|
|Pork||15 " " "|
|Flour and Bread||5 " " "|
|Meat of the smallest kind||40-60 shillings|
|A duck and a chicken||7-12 "|
|A goose||21-25 "|
|Potatoes||10-12 " per bushel|
|Hay||10-12 " per hundredweight|
|Eggs||3-4 " per dozen|
It is presumed that their Sovereigns will not care to put them in a position inferior to that of the Lieutenant-Governor of the island, who is only a Lieutenant-Colonel in the army and who has besides a considerable allowance, a town house, and another in the country, to which is added a garden of 200 acres for the pasturing of cows, oxen, and sheep for his exclusive use. Besides all these advantages, which are inconsiderable in a country offering so little resources by itself, he has an establishment of slaves and two houses kept up at the expense of the East India Company. As for the privations which the Commissioners will have to experience, they are too numerous to mention. They consist of the lack of all comforts of social life which are so easily procured in Europe. To sacrifice them, as will become necessary, will seriously affect their diet, which will be very different from that to which they are accustomed. Only rarely will they have any fresh meat and they must very often live upon fish and salt meat.
London, 26 December, 1815.
St. Helena, June 18, 1816, by the Northumberland, ship of the line, Admiral Cockburn.
I am setting foot at this moment on the island of St. Helena. We have arrived there after a voyage of seven weeks. Admiral Cockburn, who has just been replaced in his command by Admiral Malcolm, is so anxious to return to London that I can scarcely give your Excellency any other news. He must leave to-morrow at sunrise. At the end of this week a vessel from India will set sail for Europe. I hope then to have interesting details to communicate.
* * *
The three admirals who were successively in command of the St. Helena station, Cockburn (who was acting governor of the island from October 15, 1815, until Lowe's arrival on April 14, 1816), Malcolm, and Plampin, will be mentioned many times in these reports, and each plays a large rôle in St. Helena history.
Sir George Cockburn (1772-1853) served under Nelson in various engagements, and took an important part in the naval war of 1812. He showed his great capacity as a naval commander in the operations on the Chesapeake, Sassafras, and Potomac rivers. He coöperated with General Ross at the battles of Bladensburg and Baltimore, and after the former battle entered the city of Washington. He was selected to convey Napoleon to St. Helena in the Northumberland. Promoted vice-admiral in 1819 and admiral in 1837, he rounded out his full life by becoming first sea lord in 1841. Cockburn, of course, was a sailor and not a diplomat or politician, and apparently did not know how to conduct himself in the presence of either Napoleon or his followers. Las Cases in his journal gives a long list of the "insults" they had received from Cockburn, but there was, says Norwood Young, no justification for any of these complaints any more than for the subsequent similar clamors against Lowe. The French policy for the present was to denounce Cockburn, and part of the reason for that policy was a childish attempt thereby to curry favor with the new governor, Lowe, with whom, for a few weeks, relations promised to be most cordial. When Las Cases remarked that he was afraid the new governor would think they were intractable, "we who are by nature so gentle and patient, the Emperor could not prevent himself from smiling and pinching my ear."
ADMIRAL SIR GEORGE COCKBURN
Acting governor of St. Helena until the arrival of
Sir Hudson Lowe
* * *
An English brig, the Hecate, has reached us this morning from the Cape of Good Hope, and her departure has just been announced for to-morrow after midnight. I give myself the pleasure of profiting by this occasion to write your Excellency, but I beg you to content yourself to-day with a very imperfect report. I have as yet had only the chance to put myself in touch with the Governor and to give the most superficial glance at my surroundings.
As it is scarcely possible to give a description of St. Helena other than that already well known in Europe, I content myself with repeating that it seems to me to be that spot in the world which is the saddest, the most isolated, the most unapproachable, the easiest to defend, the hardest to attack, the most unsociable, the poorest, the dearest, and especially the most appropriate for the use to which it is now put. Such is the general idea which one must have of it. Any attempt against the island would be pure madness. I believe that I can already assure you of that. Nature has contributed the first and the greatest obstacles, and the English Governor does not cease to add to the means of defense, the greater part of which seems unnecessary. Three regiments of infantry, five companies of artillery, a detachment of dragoons for the service of a rather considerable staff, form the extent of the garrison. Two frigates, one of them of 50 guns, some brigs and sloops guard the sea, and the number of cannon disposable on the coasts and the interior of the country is striking. Sir Hudson Lowe is to give me soon an exact report of his troops as well as the military plan of the island. I shall hasten to inclose them in my next report. The strictest discipline is established at all points for the direct and indirect surveillance of Bonaparte. In the daytime walking in certain spots is permitted only with a passport from the Governor. At night one can go nowhere without the countersign. In some directions wherever we turn we see only sentinels, guards, and patrols. The ex-Emperor occupies the pavilion of the LieutenantGovernor, known as Longwood; a territory of several miles in circumference is at his disposal, which he uses with perfect freedom. The guard approaches it only after he has retired and watches over the house until the next day. If he wishes to pass that barrier, always lined with troops and defended by a park of artillery, he is followed by an officer who never loses him from sight. Those who wish to enter, no matter how or why, must be provided with an extraordinary permit. On sea the regulations are still stricter. The day when our vessel appeared before the port of St. James one of the batteries of the fort fired upon it, using a 24-pound ball, because Admiral Malcolm had failed to despatch some one to the island to announce his arrival. No vessel after the evening gun may leave or shift its position. There are officers charged exclusively with that duty during the night. This state of things has deprived St. Helena of an important means of livelihood-fishing. It now carries on that occupation only by day and fish is becoming as scarce as fresh meat.
I have no desire, Monsieur le Comte, to venture opinions on these measures of safety, but I acknowledge I experience some difficulty in realizing their real necessity. An island detached from the rest of the world, to which access is gained only by a single wind, where one enters only by a single side, where the rocks are piled one upon another, forming precipices at each step, could, it seems to me, be guarded efficiently at much less expense.
I am going now to speak to your Excellency of Bonaparte himself. His mental dispositions are sufficiently variable. Most frequently he shows some temper, but physically he in no way reveals his mental disturbance. He is always in good health and promises to live a long time. As yet nobody has been able to discover whether he is resigned to his fate or whether he entertains hopes. It is said that he bases any hope of leaving the island on the English Opposition. What can be safely said is that he continually protests against his arrest and has himself treated at Longwood as Emperor. Bertrand, Montholon, Las Cases, Gourgaud, and all his suite render him, as ever, the highest honors. He ordinarily receives strangers who ask to see him, but he offers neither meals nor entertainments, and never goes out of his bounds. The presence of an English officer who has to accompany him annoys him and causes him to suffer. For the same reason he avoids in his walks the guards and sentinels. He rises at noon, breakfasts, busies himself in his house with different things until three o'clock; at four receives people who are announced to him, then takes a walk or drives in a six-horse carriage; rarely rides horseback, dines at eight, remains at table only three quarters of an hour, plays his game of reversis, goes to bed, and gets up in the night at different times to work. He is writing his history with the help of the "Moniteur." He is also learning English. His conversation would be interesting if you could follow it, for he occasionally lets himself go in the old imperial manner; but ordinarily he sees only his French people, and the inconsequential things which he says to the English, except perhaps to Admiral Cockburn, are either distorted by the national vanity or prove nothing. General Lowe treats him with all possible respect and even lends himself in some degree to the imperial pose. Yet he does not like Lowe and has seen him only three or four times. He seems somewhat to prefer Admiral Malcolm, who plays to perfection the "good child" but does not deviate more than the other from the path mapped out for him. 3 I will add as a rather curious circumstance that he has definitely put away his uniform and wears a hunting coat. I flatter myself, Monsieur le Comte, on being able soon to send you a more interesting report.
In order not to lengthen unduly my first report, I included therein only a few details relative to Bonaparte. The object of the present report will be to inform your Excellency of what concerns me directly as Commissioner. I can only congratulate myself for the reception given to us both on board the New Castle [sic] and at St. Helena, as well as for the continual attention paid us by the English authorities. Sir Hudson Lowe immediately showed me a confidence which singularly attracted me. On my side I explained to him without delay the object of my mission, and our relations were thus quite naturally established. He has obligated himself to keep me constantly in touch with the news of the island and especially with what is happening at Longwood. The two other Commissioners had positive orders to assure themselves by their own eyes of the existence of Bonaparte and to draw up a monthly report countersigned by the Governor. Negotiations to this effect were opened with Marshal Bertrand. The ex-Emperor asked if we bore him letters from our Sovereigns. When he realized for what purpose we wished to see him, he declaimed violently against the conference of the 2nd of August, and there the thing stayed. The matter was rather embarrassing for everybody. The Marquis de Montchenu and Baron von Stürmer, according to their instructions, were to show no particular respect toward Bonaparte, and General Lowe was reluctant to force his door. The gentlemen then thought fit to address to Lowe a note from all the Commissioners in order that his refusal might be made official, and hence might be used to justify them in the eyes of their court. As my instructions were not particular in this respect, and as, moreover, I saw a marked opposition on the part of Sir Hudson Lowe, and since without humiliating uselessly the prisoner of Europe, I could meet him every day and satisfy myself in this affair, I refused to join them in that attempt which is not only detrimental to the personal respect owed to him, but would be something that neither the Governor nor the Admiral would ever permit.
If my duty at St. Helena is confined to satisfying myself as an eye-witness of the existence of Bonaparte and to report on what is happening outside of his house, I find no difficulties in fulfilling it. Sir Hudson Lowe has opened to me all the paths on the island and that of Longwood up to his prisoner's door. But if your Excellency expects, as you justifiably may, an interesting journal which may one day serve as a guide to history, I fear that I can inadequately answer your expectations. Napoleon has laid down the principle of no longer going out of his bounds, of seeing people only in passing, and of keeping up the imperial pose. As long as this manner of conducting himself lasts, I can neither listen to him often nor interrogate him, nor observe him near-by, and my correspondence regarding him will be only a pastime.
What has struck me from the moment of my arrival (though it is rather natural) is the enormous ascendancy which this man, surrounded by guards, by rocks, by precipices, still keeps over men's minds. Everything at St. Helena reflects his superiority. The French tremble at his look and deem themselves only too happy to serve him. Las Cases says to whoever wishes to hear him, "My happiness consists in contemplating a hero, a prodigy." The English approach him now only with timidity. Even those who guard him solicit a look, an interview, a word. Nobody dares to treat him as an equal. His genius, which in this abasement of fortune can fix itself on nothing great, amuses itself in vexing people. He excites the envy of some, while flattering others. He is gracious toward his associates and wishes to humiliate those above him. He makes much of the Admiral and communicates with the Governor through Bertrand. It is now apparent that he is trying to embroil various people and to sow dissension everywhere. To me this conduct seems only a gratuitous spitefulness. Perhaps it is part of a well thought out design of which he alone possesses the secret, but I do not see that anything can be done to remedy it.
Bonaparte, before being confided to Sir George Cockburn, was rather pliant. It even appears that at that time he had no idea of sequestering himself as he has since done. This Admiral, through his badly applied zeal or rather perhaps to secure some prestige from it for himself, has, as it were, scared him. The latter had the idea that he could establish himself at Longwood on a footing of perfect equality. He seated himself in the imperial presence and in his bedroom without having been asked. He frequently contradicted him and drove him to his present extremity. From this there resulted disputes, sulkiness, a continual embarrassment between them; finally open rupture, which was the end of Cockburn, for, having one day presented himself with some one to see the ex-Emperor, the door was closed upon him and the companion entered. After this affront they no longer saw each other. The Admiral has left without saying good-by. His presence in Europe may give another complexion to these statements, but I guarantee them such as I report them. It is a fact that Sir George Cockburn, who in many ways possesses much merit, has shown too much freedom in this affair, lacking tact in allowing no distinction between Bonaparte and himself, lacking delicacy in treating him bluntly on board his vessel, lacking generosity in allowing him no individuality, in trying in almost everything to prejudge his character. It was while speaking of him that the illustrious prisoner said one day that they were putting chains on him but that they should pay him the respect which was due him. Such examples are not repeated often with a mind of his caliber, so that nobody since that time has again made that mistake. Sir Pulteney Malcolm, not less ambitious than Admiral Cockburn, but more clever and with a more supple character, at first felt that it was necessary to take another kind of beginning. In order to see Napoleon he would have had to go to Count Bertrand, and to Madame Bertrand to present to her Lady Malcolm. This attempt naturally biased the prisoner in his favor. From his very first visit he had it understood that the surveillance of the prisoner in no way concerned him, and that only the sea up to the Ile de France belonged to him. It was merely another means of pleasing Napoleon. He has been exceedingly modest and quite a lady's man, so that his tactics have succeeded and he is to-day a favorite. He is sought out, he is flattered; interviews are sought with him lasting entire hours. As a matter of fact this predilection has for its real object only to seduce him or to mystify other people. But the Admiral is not the man to make a mistake. He profits by it because he is inquisitive and is thinking of writing his memoirs. He enjoys it all because it gives him relaxation. His conduct is assuredly on a higher plane than that of his predecessor.
Sir Hudson Lowe is not successful in the same way. He tries to satisfy Bonaparte. He treats him with respect and ceremony, does not complain of his brusque manner, tolerates his caprices, in short achieves the impossible. But he will never be anything except his scourge. There is too much incompatibility between the two men. The mind of the one is still restless. He is a wandering genius who, in the circumstance where fate has reduced him, wishes to take his flight and seeks perhaps to make converts for himself. The other opposes to this strong will merely an inexhaustible fund of commonplace ideas and a cold suspicious nature, a repulsive exterior with, however, the best intentions in the world, and a tyrannical precision in fulfilling his duty. To sum up, he who knows only how to command is at the mercy of him who knows only how to obey. Hence, there is no manner of displeasing his jailer which the prisoner has not tried. Of this I shall cite only a few of the most remarkable instances. The wife of Lord Moira on her way to India stopped at St. Helena. She had, like everybody, a desire to see Bonaparte. Sir Hudson Lowe conceived the idea of having them dine together and consequently wrote to Longwood, but addressed the ex-Emperor as General. The latter never replied to the note of invitation, contenting himself with sending his excuses to Lady Moira. 4
SIR HUDSON LOWE
Governor of St. Helena from April 14, 1816 to July 25, 1821
(From the portrait by Frémy)
The officers of the Sixty-sixth Regiment of infantry desired to be presented to Napoleon. Marshal Bertrand fixed the day, and these officers, with their commander at their head, had already assembled waiting for the door to open. I do not know by what chance Sir Pulteney Malcolm, who suspected nothing, arrived at the same hour with his officers from the New Castle [sic]. The navy was first introduced and the admiral had a very long interview. The army, after having waited the entire morning, retired somewhat confused, and the matter was never reintroduced. Up to now neither the Bertrands nor the Montholons nor anybody at Longwood has had permission to see Lady Lowe, a charming woman who entertains pleasant gatherings at Plantation House. 5 On the other hand, Lady Malcolm, who does not even know French, receives them and returns their visits at any time. Furthermore, Bonaparte has acknowledge his antipathy for Sir Hudson Lowe. Admiral Malcolm reproached him recently for misunderstanding that good man and for not showing him sufficient confidence. "You are right," said he; "it is perhaps a childishness on my part, but we are not masters of our own impressions." Cockburn's grievances are of another kind. There we have a man of character who first thinks in the large. I should wish Lowe to be like that.
After having given an idea of the principal individuals at St. Helena, I will try to satisfy your Excellency's curiosity by giving a rather interesting collection of anecdotes and conversations and other peculiarities of the life of Napoleon.
The Interior of Longwood
Sent to the end of the world as the prisoner of Europe, treated by Cockburn as a comrade, ceaselessly exposed to the not very delicate manners of the English who ever since Waterloo have been without any respect, Bonaparte has necessarily to think of his glory and to maintain the degree of his rank. Therein he succeeded by a very simple means. He shut himself up within his bounds where nobody had the right to control his actions, and became inaccessible. His guards, who were already assuming a tone of familiarity, became surprised at this resolution. Each of them on coming here had formed his own ideas regarding their captive. When they saw at what distance they were held, they forgot all respect, formality, modesty. They went wherever they wanted to go, and the ex-Emperor reappeared in all his majesty. His household to-day is a court, of which Bertrand is the Grand Marshal; Las Cases, Secretary of State; Montholon, first Maitre d'Hôtel; Gourgaud, General Aide-de-Camp; Piontowski, groom, Mmes. Bertrand and Montholon, ladies of honor. Those who wish to be presented to him, to have an interview or to carry on any business whatever, must apply to the Grand Marshal, since application to the Governor means refusal. Lady Moira and other distinguished English people who believed that they could have access to him have never been able to get admitted.
Receptions are not quite the same for everybody. High office, merit, personality, and especially the ideas which one may have on Napoleon, are the measure of one's success in securing admission. There are some whom he likes to see tête-à-tête, some with whom he holds rather long conversations. The other, greater, number is first sent away and then received before the door at the entrance to the garden. Rarely is a second audience granted except to those from whom some advantage may be expected, such as ladies, travelers, etc. He excuses himself on the pretext of indisposition, and in that case further requests are not made. It also happens that the minor officers announced in advance to be presented to him form an antechamber during entire hours and are then put off to another day.
At his audiences Napoleon appears in a green huntingcoat quite well worn, with silver buttons in the shape of stags, wild boars, and foxes; white trousers and stockings with oval buckles of gold. His everyday hat is under his arm. He wears the plaque of the Legion of Honor and carries a snuff-box in his hand. Never does he invite his guests to be seated unless he himself is lying down. He fears lest any one assume Cockburn's example of self-assurance, which he is careful to prevent by himself always standing. Sir Pulteney Malcolm has had at Longwood interviews lasting three or four hours, during which they finally because of fatigue leaned upon the table or against the wall, and nothing can persuade him to relax on this point. When there are no strangers the etiquette is a little less strict, and Bonaparte becomes more natural. Like a soldier of fortune he is brusque, outspoken, despotic. He throws out gross words without interruption and treats his French people as slaves. He is rather fond of music and has Italian airs sung to him after dinner by Madame de Montholon. She is at present the only one who can give him this diversion. What a contrast for a man who used to dispose of all the orchestras of Paris! Italian is his favorite language. He speaks it with the Governor, with his doctor and all those who know anything of it. He spends his evenings playing cards or chess, but he is not very much interested in any game, and becomes angry when he loses. Gourgaud who knows this weakness makes intentional mistakes in order to let him win. His mornings he spends largely with books. He finds pleasure in reading newspapers and is working with Las Cases on his history. This he is apparently writing in the style of Cæsar's Commentaries and narrates in the third person. Toward four o'clock he walks, with short, quick steps, before his door; sometimes he uses a six-horse carriage, driving at a gallop around his boundaries. Since my arrival he has not gone out on horseback, for this exercise is no longer to his taste. His house of Longwood without being either large or magnificent is convenient enough and the furniture is all of fine mahogany. He has a garden on the side where Admiral Malcolm has had erected a superb tent. They are willing to build him a pavilion of a more regular architecture, and the island is filled with material for that purpose sent from England. But whether he hopes for some sort of a change in his position or whether he wishes to annoy Sir Hudson Lowe, no one as yet has been able to persuade him to consent to it. His expenditures are only what the English Government allow him and it is not known whether or not he has private means; since his fall he has said or done nothing which might give any clue. It is supposed, however, that he has some, and that they are placed in England under an assumed name.
It is said at St. Helena that it is the people around Bonaparte who by their underhanded dealings and the reports which they give him have a bad influence over his character and his conduct in general. This appears to me doubtful. But the fact remains that all of his French people hate each other cordially. Each wishes to be the favorite of the master; hence arise very ridiculous scenes. Montholon, charged with the interior of the palace, is jealous of Bertrand, who has charge of the exterior. Gourgaud, tired of parading in his quality of Aide-de-Camp in an antechamber, views with displeasure the more important occupations of Las Cases. The latter, in order to yield to him in nothing, thinks that in his hours of pleasure he can master the art of horseback riding. A dwarf's stature, an awkward and wheedling manner, do not discourage him from this experiment, for he would break his neck rather than discontinue it. It is in thus blinding themselves to the reality of their position that these unhappy exiles, who would be well thought of if they had any esprit de corps, are exciting the ridicule of everybody. Bertrand is a weak but well meaning man, always melancholy and sometimes in despair. He is the least restless of the band. 6 His wife strongly urged him to establish himself in England in order to be near Paris, but, completely under Bonaparte's will, he has not been able to make up his mind to leave St. Helena. Montholon is but a poor specimen. He embarked at Rochefort with his master less through attachment and gratitude than because he was head over heels in debt. At Longwood he believes himself something of a personage and passes for a determined liar. Gourgaud, a nephew of Dugazou, the comedian, is a soldier of fortune, bold and swaggering. He does not mix into the intrigues, but yet he is noisy, gross, and vain. That is all that can be said of him. Las Cases has made for Bonaparte the sacrifice of his liberty without motives of self-interest. This was but a movement of spontaneous generosity; perhaps also there was a desire of leaving to posterity an exact and detailed history of his hero. Whatever inconsistencies there may be in his conduct, he makes up for by his sincerity and devotion. Piontowski was a simple Polish lancer on the island of Elba. To reward his fidelity Napoleon made him captain and an orderly officer and Chevalier of the Legion of Honor. He is a big gentle fellow of whom nobody complains, and yet he is somewhat looked down upon at Longwood. I cannot imagine what decided him to expatriate himself. Madame Bertrand and Madame Montholon do not like each other, and yet here they are, condemned to live together. The one is imposing and pretty; the other is amiable and a musician.
O'Meara and Poppleton
O'Meara is the secret agent of Sir Hudson Lowe at Longwood. This doctor is a clever and discreet man. He informs Bonaparte of what is said and done on the island in order to have access to him. At the same time he keeps a record of his slightest action and words. Without seeming to do so, he pokes his nose in everywhere, and it is through him that they learn an immense number of details of a character more or less to interest the watchers. Poppleton is a Captain in the Fifty-third Regiment of infantry, sent to Longwood in order to help guard Bonaparte. Accordingly he is lodged near the latter and must see him every day. Morning and evening he gives news of him to the Governor by a system of signals, and if he goes outside of his boundaries, the Captain follows him and never loses sight of him. This poor man, who is acquainted only with his trade of war and has no idea of the amenities of life, is the pet aversion of all the French prisoners. 7
Napoleon speaks often to Sir Pulteney Malcolm of past events. I will put down word for word what the Admiral, who shows me many confidences, has communicated to me of his interviews with him.
Battle of Waterloo:
N. Do you know that Wellington risked too much? He ought to have retired and waited for his allies. Without the Prussians he was beaten.
M. Yes, but the Duke knew that the Prussians would come up.
N. How would he know it? If Grouchy had done his duty we would not have been in that fix. It is he who lost everything.
M. What made you open that campaign by an attack against the Prussians? The English position should have disturbed you more. That was the side of the sea and should have been made sure of.
N. The character of the Generals whom I had at the head of my army traced out for me my conduct. That drunken Hussar, 8 impatient to distinguish himself, would have left everything to succor England. I would have had too many enemies at once. I beat him. I threw his troops into disorder. Grouchy should have prevented him from undertaking anything. My orders were wretchedly executed. But although the Prussians did much, the day belongs to Wellington.
M. What do you think of the Prussians?
N. They are rascals.
M. And their army?
N. It cost me so little to crush it at Jena, with their Potsdam maneuvers, that I was surprised at my victory.
M. But it has changed since?
N. A little.
Invasion of England:
M. What was the real object of your great preparations at Boulogne?
N. The crossing of the Channel by my soldiers.
M. Then the conquest of England appeared to you easy?
N. No, but it was assuredly worth the trouble of being tried.
M. We were never able to guess your plan.
N. It was simple. My fleet made a feint of going to America with troops for debarkation. I was sure that the greater part of yours would follow it there. Villeneuve, profiting then by the first favorable chance, of which there are so many at sea, was to turn around short, to regain the Channel at least two weeks before the English Admiral, and to cruise there while my transports crossed.
His Imprisonment at St. Helena:
N. You are going always to keep me here?
M. I believe so.
N. You have, then, no other colonies?
M. You would not be better off anywhere else.
N. What they are doing at St. Helena is absurd, ridiculous. Look here. That soldier on the tip of that rock over there, what good is he? Do you fear that I should escape? Could even a bird escape? I realize that any city may well be forbidden to me. That is natural enough, but apart from that, I ought to be free.
M. You are. You are not even prevented from going to town.
N. With that officer [Poppletonj at my heels? That would be to degrade me, to recognize that I am but a prisoner, which I am not.
M. However, we cannot treat you any longer as a Sovereign.
N. And why not? Why not leave me that empty honor? In my position on this rock, what harm can it do?
M. Then we would have to give you your title of Emperor.
N. (after a moment of reflection.) No, I have abdicated.
M. You do not wish to be called General?
N. I have not been a General since my return from Egypt. Let me be called simply Napoleon.
The Duke of Enghien:
M. For what crime was the Duke of Enghien tried and executed?
N. Tried! I would not have him tried at all. I had him shot. He was conspiring against me. That was proved.
Bonaparte speaks rarely of his Russian campaign. One day he said to Admiral Cockburn: "For my glory I should have died at Moscow." He learned with indifference of the death of his brother-in-law, Murat. The death of Marshal Ney seemed to affect him more. "He was beheaded," he cried. They answered him, no, that he had been shot. "That is impossible, for it was the Peers who tried him." Then he made a turn or two around the room and said, "He was brave, he was brave. Yes, but he betrayed me at Fontainebleau." 9
What the English newspapers have published regarding his arguments with Poppleton and regarding the sentinel who aimed a gun at him is false. Here is the truth. Napoleon accompanied by his ordinary retinue was riding horseback. On the way the idea comes to him to examine a cliff. He spurs his horse and goes out of his bounds. Poppleton at the same time starts after him, but being badly mounted he cannot follow and loses sight of the cavalcade. He must have thought that his prisoner was going to swim the ocean and utters loud cries after him. Finally he catches up and begins to reprimand him. One look from Bonaparte cuts short his speech. All that he dares is to say between his teeth, "The next time, sir, I will take better care." That is the base on which these fables have been built. When Bonaparte was living with Mr. Balcombe he amused himself considerably at the frolics of Miss Betsy, the youngest daughter of his host. 10 He taught her geography. He played blindman's-buff with her and passed his life in a circle of children. One day she asked him who burned Moscow. He answered, striking his fist with his hand, "It was I" I often see that charming little girl, but I will not take up further space with the things that she taught me about her friend Bony (for it was thus that she called him), since that would make a volume of gossip. At St. Helena as elsewhere Bonaparte took every precaution against night attacks. I am now occupying the apartment where he stayed on the day of his arrival. The door of the bedroom has an English lock, which is almost impossible to force. However, he had put on in addition a large bolt which is still there, and which is pointed out to the curious.
We have not yet been able to see the ex-Emperor. He does not wish to meet the Commissioners. My two colleagues are negotiating on this subject with the Governor. I am awaiting the determination of this strange affair in which I have been quite neutral, in order to make a report on it to your Excellency.
Memorandum of Artillery at St. Helena
50 Battery pieces
24 Campaign pieces
* * *
Here follows a detailed account of the garrison at St. Helena by companies, totaling 2784 men, together with a list of the squadron under the command of Sir Pulteney Malcolm, showing three frigates, two armed vessels, and six brigs. Here also follows a list, showing the composition of the household of Bonaparte.
* * *
I had the honor of informing your Excellency by my report numbered 4 of the discussions begun between the Austrian and French Commissioners at the time of their arrival at St. Helena. You will see by the present that this account which forms the base of their instructions has produced only arguments of every nature. I shall set forth this affair according to the order of dates. On June 17 at five o'clock in the evening the New Castle touched the island. We were immediately advised that the departure of the Northumberland was fixed for the nineteenth. The Marquis de Montchenu, wishing to profit by that occasion to send to France his first report, landed the same day and strongly urged the English authorities to take him to Longwood. He was very insistent, saying that the peace of Europe depended upon his request. But it was unanimously rejected, and my colleague returned to sleep on board, a little annoyed at his failure. In the meantime O'Meara informed the French Commissioner of what had happened. "I know that Montchenu," cried Napoleon in anger; "he is an old woman, a gossip, an arm-chair gentleman who has never smelt powder. I shall not see him." The unfortunate part of this is that the portrait is a true one. On the eighteenth we landed with much ceremony, together with Admiral Malcolm. General de Montchenu was no sooner in the town that he renewed his importunity of the day before. The reasons given for the refusal were the bad temper of Bonaparte, the respect which the British Government had promised him, the impossibility of going so rapidly in an affair of this kind. On the nineteenth Montchenu had the chagrin of witnessing the departure of the Northumberland without being able to send his report by her. On the twenty-sixth we discussed the desirability of conferring with the Governor on the real object of our mission and of putting ourselves in touch with him and our staff. Baron Stürmer spoke first and said that his only interest was to assure himself by his own eyes of the existence of the prisoner of Europe and to send a report to his Court every month. The French Commissioner gave the same explanations. As, however, he brought to this conference, according to himself at least, a very high idea of his person and of his post (the only one which he has ever filled), the certainty of playing here a principal part and of exercising his influence over Bonaparte appealed so strongly to him that he made an emphatic speech which lasted a whole hour and tired his audience. Sir Hudson Lowe answered these gentlemen that the Convention of August 2, by virtue of which the Commissioners of the Allied Powers were now at St. Helena, had not been transmitted officially to him, but that he would do his best to put them in touch with their Governments. Since my instructions did not prescribe any thing in respect to these negotiations, I said little. On the twenty-seventh Sir Hudson Lowe announced to Count Bertrand the arrival of the Commissioners and advised him of our desire to see General Bonaparte. The Grand Marshal, who expected these overtures, made evasive replies. He asked if we had letters from our Sovereigns. The Marquis de Montchenu disapproved this indirect attempt. "It is not thus," he said to me, "that criminals are treated." Baron Stürmer took it also as a bad omen, and these gentlemen wrote on this subject a very lively remonstrance to the Governor, which, however, led to nothing. It was then that the question arose for the first time of forcing the door of Longwood, and I refused to sign the note of the Commissioners of which mention is made in my despatch of June 29. On the twenty-eighth and following days we sought the authentic document which Count Bertrand was asking for. Unhappily it was not found, and Sir Hudson Lowe finally took upon himself a direct application to Bonaparte. "If these gentlemen," said the latter, "wish to be presented as individuals there will be no objection, and let them go to the Grand Marshal; if it is as Commissioners, allow me to see the Convention of the second of August and I shall consider it."
There the affair remained. During these negotiations Admiral Malcolm informed us one day of the following conversation at Longwood. "Why should I see those people?" said Bonaparte. "Who sends them? Is it Austria whom I have had twenty times at my feet? Does Baron Stürmer bring me news of my wife, of my son? And the Emperor Alexander, to whom I rendered such services after the peace of Tilsit - what has he done to make my lot any happier in the wretched position where I am to-day? By seeing the Commissioners, would I not recognize myself a prisoner of Europe? I am yours in fact because you are keeping me, but not by right." While the ex-Emperor was expressing himself thus he was doing all he could to obligate us to see him as individuals. Montholon and Gourgaud came very often to the city, tried to meet us there, flattered Monsieur de Montchenu. Las Cases informed me through a lady of society that if he should see me walking he would walk in front of me and take me to his master. Little Betsy Balcombe's letters assured me that her friend Bony was quite impatient to talk with me. From several other quarters we received messages, and my colleagues would have been able to prove the presence of Napoleon Bonaparte on St. Helena a hundred times a day if they had wished to content themselves with those means. On July 17 Baron Stürmer finally unearthed among his papers the Convention of August 2. On the twentieth he was called to a second conference at the Governor's, the crux of the question still being the manner of seeing the prisoner. Monsieur de Montchenu maintained that he could see him only as a Commissioner, that to act otherwise would be to fail in his mission and to compromise the dignity of his Court. Stürmer was of the same opinion. Sir Hudson Lowe made some very apt remonstrances. He acknowledged that his personal relations with Bonaparte were hardly satisfactory, that he could not make up his mind to humiliate such a remarkable personage, that Lord Bathurst had not given him instructions on this point and predicted that only disagreeable things for everybody could result from their extraordinary representations. Speaking in my turn, I repeated what I had not ceased to say since my arrival, that, it being useless to expect Bonaparte's consent to the measures adopted toward him, I would do without an official interview, that it would suffice for me to meet him informally while walking, that I might be able, without lacking in my respect, to invite myself to his home like Admiral Malcolm and so many English officers, but that I had done nothing or would do nothing to give the impression of following a separate course of action.
M. de Montchenu pointed out to me that, his instructions and those of Baron Stürmer having been drawn up at the conference of Paris, I ought to conform to them. I answered him that I would look out for that, but that to bring in my chief in an affair not only futile, but for which I could see only a bad result, would hardly be worth while. The result of this long discussion was that the Austrian and French Commissioners addressed to the Governor an official note, a copy of which is joined to this report. On the twenty-first this note and the Convention of August 2 were sent to Count Montholon. To this Sir Hudson Lowe added a letter and pointed out that if Bonaparte decided to receive my colleagues I should be likewise presented, although not having had any part in this negotiation. On August 27 the reply came from M. de Montholon which has not yet been communicated to us in its entirety. There was inserted therein a very imperfect extract in the three letters inclosed which he addressed to us on this occasion.
The French Commissioner realized to-day that his inconsiderate zeal, or rather his extreme stupidity, has considerably embarrassed our progress at St. Helena. In this respect the Austrian is guiltless. It was strongly recommended him never to be in opposition to the other. To enable your Excellency to judge of the difficulties of these gentlemen, I have copied word for word what M. de Stürmer says of them in his report to Count Metternich. "The result of the letter from M. de Montholon is that we must either give up trying to see him or have recourse to unpleasant means. The Governor gives us to understand that he would not refuse to lend us assistance if we officially asked it, but here are the words which he used: 'You alone will be responsible for the consequences which this may entail. You know that Bonaparte has said that Napoleon would fire on whoever would force his door. Suppose I put at your disposition a company of soldiers. What would happen? I would not be surprised if some one were killed. It is impossible to foresee to what insults you would unnecessarily expose yourself and hence your Sovereigns. Furthermore, you must consider, gentlemen, whether such an act against the very person of Bonaparte would secure the approbation of your Governments. There is no doubt that all the Powers are in agreement that he should be treated with the greatest respect. What will you risk after all by forgetting about the whole thing and by waiting for new orders from your Court? But whatever you decide, you will find me ready to assist you.' It will not escape your Excellency that our pride may have carried us to extremes and that it has seemed difficult to give up our object of controlling the man whom nobody has ever yet been able to control. However, the fear of rendering still more disagreeable the position of the Governor, the reasons which he gave us which certainly were considerable, and still more our respect for the bonds of relationship which unite Bonaparte to the august Imperial Family, and to serve the houses of Europe, have determined us to halt in this affair until we can receive new instructions."
My conduct in this affair was generally approved. All realize the high and generous sentiments of our August Master, and Bonaparte himself is satisfied with them. A Frenchman of his suite whom I recently met in the city approached me very politely and said: "The Emperor knows that you did not sign the note of the Commissioners. He is sensitive to this honest procedure and has charged me to thank you for it."
P.S. Your Excellency will find herewith an exact copy of the entire letter of Monsieur de Montholon, only an extract of which has the Governor deemed it proper to communicate to us.
Copy of Letter from Lowe to the Russian
Though no specific demand was made by you to me founded on the terms of the Convention to procure you the opportunity of an official interview with Napoleon Bonaparte, yet in compliance with your wishes to me I expressed my desire of introducing you to him. I have since received a letter from General Count Montholon and have the honor to send you the following extract therefrom:
Monsieur le Général:
I have received the Convention of August 2, 1815, concluded between His Britannic Majesty, the Emperor of Austria, the Emperor of Russia, and the King of Prussia, which was inclosed in your letter of July 21. . . .
Against the contents of that treaty the Emperor Napoleon protests. Commissioners from Austria and Russia have arrived at St. Helena. If the object of their mission is to fulfil a part of the duty which these Emperors have contracted through the treaty of August 2 and to insure the fact that the English agents in a little colony in the midst of the ocean should not fail in the respect to a Prince bound with them by ties of relationship and by so many other connections we recognize in that negotiation traits of character of these two Sovereigns. b They have come here to enforce the terms of the Convention. They have no concern for the care of his person but are here simply to prove his existence. But you have assured us, Sir, that these Commissioners had neither the right nor the power to have any opinion on anything which may happen in this island.
As you had made no application for an official interview with Napoleon Bonaparte, the remarks respecting his Majesty the Emperor of Russia were, of course, wholly uncalled for, but they refer as I conceive more to his signature of the Convention and to your arrival on this island than to any proceeding on your part.
Though the assumption of the title of Emperor by Napoleon Bonaparte as expressed in Count Montholon's letter renders his communication not official, yet as it is the only one that has been received, I did not delay sending the above extract for your information.
I have the honor, etc.
Copy of a Letter from Count Montholon to Sir
Monsieur le Général,
I have received the Convention of August 2, 1815, concluded between his Britannic Majesty, the Emperor of Austria, the Emperor of Russia, and the King of Prussia, inclosed in your letter of July 21 last. The Emperor Napoleon protests against the contents of that treaty. 11 He is in no sense the prisoner of England. After having left his abdication in the hands of the representatives of the nation, in accordance with the constitution adopted by the French people, in favor of his son, he gave himself voluntarily and freely to England in order to live there as a private citizen, in retirement under the protection of the British laws. The violation of all laws cannot constitute a right. As a matter of physical fact, the person of the Emperor Napoleon is in the power of England. But neither in fact nor of right has he been in the power of Austria, Russia, Prussia, even according to the laws of England, which has never concerned itself with the prisoners of the Russians, the Austrians, the Prussians, the Spaniards, the Portuguese, although united to these Powers by treaties of alliance and making war conjointly with them. The Convention of August 2, made two weeks after Napoleon's arrival in England, can have no effect in law; it offers the spectacle of the combination of four of the greatest Powers of Europe for the oppression of one man, a combination disavowed by the opinion of all the peoples of those Powers, as well as by all the principles of reason and moral sanity. The Emperors of Austria and of Russia and the King of Prussia having in fact and of right no control over the person of the Emperor Napoleon, they have not been able to enact any decrees relative to him. If the Emperor Napoleon had been in the power of the Emperor of Austria, that Sovereign would have remembered the bonds with which religion and nature had linked a father and a son, bonds which are never violated with impunity. He would have recalled that four times Napoleon restored him to his throne - at Leoben in 1797 and at Lunéville in 1801, when his armies were under the walls of Vienna, at Presbourg in 1806, and at Vienna in 1809, when his soldiers were masters of the capital and of three fourths of the kingdom. That Sovereign would have remembered the protestations which he made to him at the bivouac of Moravia in 1806 and at the interview of Dresden in 1812.
If the person of the Emperor Napoleon had been in the power of the Emperor Alexander, he would have remembered the bonds of friendship contracted at Tilsit and during twelve years of almost daily intercourse. He would have remembered the conduct of the Emperor Napoleon on the day after the battle of Austerlitz, where, although able to make him a prisoner together with the remnants of his army, he contented himself with the Czar's word, and allowed him to conduct his retreat. He would have remembered the perils which the Emperor Napoleon personally braved to extinguish the flames at Moscow and to preserve for him his capital. Certainly that Sovereign would not have known how to violate the duty imposed by friendship and gratitude toward a friend in adversity.12
If the person of the Emperor Napoleon had been in the power of the King of Prussia, that Sovereign would not have forgotten that the Emperor Napoleon, after Friedland, might have placed another Prince on the Prussian throne. He would surely not have forgotten in the face of a disarmed enemy the protestations of devotion and the sentiments which he showed him in 1812 at the interview of Dresden. Accordingly we see, by Articles 2 and 5 of the said treaty, that, not being able to influence in any way the fate of the person of the Emperor Napoleon, which is not in their power, these monarchs trust to whatever dispositions his Britannic Majesty may make, and he will be charged with fulfilling all obligations.
These monarchs have reproached the Emperor Napoleon for having preferred the protection of British law to theirs. The false ideas which the Emperor Napoleon had of the liberality of English laws, and of the influence of a great, generous, and free people on its government, persuaded him to prefer the protection of its laws to those of his father-in-law or his old friend the Emperor of Russia. The Emperor Napoleon always had the power of assuring what was personal to him by a diplomatic treaty, by putting himself at the head of either the Army of the Loire, or of the Army of the Gironde commanded by General Clausel. 13 But, seeking henceforth only retirement and the protection of the laws of a free nation, either England or America, any stipulation appeared useless to him. He believed the English people bound more stringently by its frankness and nobility than it would have been by the most solemn treaties. But that error will forever make true Britons blush; and in the present generation, as in future generations, it will be a proof of the disloyalty of the English administration.
[All these reasonings are superfluous. But it is thus that Bonaparte judges and will always judge his position. He will protest up to his last breath against the Convention of August 2. "The Emperor," Gourgaud recently said to me, "never acknowledged himself anybody's prisoner. Never will he receive the Commissioners of the Allied Powers. If those from Austria and France want to force his doors, he will have himself killed before allowing it."-Balmain.]
Austrian and Russian Commissioners have arrived at St. Helena. If the object of their mission is to fulfil a part of the duty which the Emperors of Austria and Russia have contracted by the treaty of August 2 and to see that the English agents in a little colony in the middle of the ocean should not fail to show proper respect to a Prince bound to them by ties of relationship and so many other connections, it would be in keeping with the characters of these two Sovereigns. But, sir, you have given assurances that these two Commissioners had neither the right nor the power to hold any opinion on anything which can happen on this rock.
The English Ministry has had the Emperor Napoleon transported to St. Helena, two thousand leagues from Europe. This rock, situated in the tropics, five hundred leagues from any continent, is a prey to the devouring heat of this latitude, and for three quarters of the year is covered with clouds and fogs. It is at once the driest and dampest country in the world. This climate is most disturbing to the Emperor's health. [It is a fact that there are many sick people an St. Helena. 14 Inflammatory fevers are making terrible ravages this year, especially in the garrison. The Sixty-sixth Infantry has lost a quarter of its number. Gourgaud feared he would die of dysentery, from which Montholon also suffered. But Bonaparte is well, and this climate does not disturb his health. If he occasionally has slight indispositions it is because he eats too much and gets no exercise. -Balmain.]
It is hatred which inspired the choice of this spot and the instructions given by the Ministry to the English officers commanding the country. They were ordered to call the Emperor Napoleon "General," wishing to make him acknowledge that he never reigned in France. That decided him not to take an incognito name, as he had contemplated doing on leaving France. First Magistrate of the Republic for life, under the title of First Consul, he signed the Preliminaries of London and the Peace of Amiens with the King of Great Britain. He received as Ambassadors Lord Cornwallis, Messrs. Merry and Cathcart, who in that capacity spent some time at his Court. He accredited to the King of England Count Otto and General Andréossy, who as Ambassadors resided at the Court of Windsor. When, after an exchange of letters between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the two monarchies, Lord Lauderdale came to Paris furnished with full powers from the King of England, he treated with the plenipotentiaries of the Emperor Napoleon and stayed some months at the Court of the Tuileries. When, since then, Lord Castlereagh signed at Châtillon the ultimatum which the Allied Powers presented to the plenipotentiaries of the Emperor Napoleon, by that fact they collectively acknowledged his dynasty. This ultimatum was more advantageous than the Treaty of Paris, but it required that France give up Belgium and the left bank of the Rhine, which was contrary to the propositions of Frankfort and the proclamations of the Allied Powers, which was contrary also to the oath by which at his coronation the Emperor Napoleon had pledged the integrity of his Empire. At that time the Emperor considered that the natural limits of France were a guaranty as well of the equilibrium of Europe.
The treaty of August 2 and the Act of Parliament call the Emperor Napoleon by the name of Bonaparte and do not give him the title of General. Without doubt the title of General Bonaparte is eminently glorious. The Emperor bore it at Lodi, at Castiglione, at Rivoli, at Arcola, at Leoben, at the Pyramids, at Aboukir. But for seventeen years he has borne that of First Consul and Emperor. To allow that contention would be to agree that he never was both First Magistrate of the Republic and Sovereign of the Fourth Dynasty. It is the English Parliament itself which has changed more than once the reigning dynasty owing to changes in popular opinion; kings are but hereditary magistrates who exist for the good of their nations-not nations for the happiness of their kings.
[This digression is but verbiage. The Government called him General because it could not do otherwise. If it had said simply Bonaparte, or Napoleon Bonaparte, it would have been taxed with incivility; and to say Napoleon the Great, or not to name him at all, is impossible. So they are forced to call him General, and he has erred in not taking an incognito name. -Balmain.]
It is the same spirit of hatred which inspired the order that the Emperor Napoleon should not write or receive any letter which has not been opened and read by the English Ministry and the officers of St. Helena. Through that order it is impossible for him to receive news of his mother, his wife, his son, and his brothers. And, when desiring to prevent the embarrassment of seeing his letters read by subaltern officers, he wished to send sealed letters to the Prince Regent, the answer was that only opened letters might pass, that such were the orders of the Ministry. Letters arrived for the officers of the Emperor's suite; they were unsealed and were handed to you; but you did not forward them because they had not been inspected by the English Ministry. They had to be sent back again four thousand leagues, and the officers in question had the pain of knowing that news from their families was close at hand but that they could not be acquainted with it for another six months. One's heart revolts at it.
All this happened before our arrival and is not easy to verify, for the English deny these assertions and the French repeat them. But it is certain that all the Longwood correspondence is opened either by the English Ministry or the Governor of St. Helena. As for newspapers, Bonaparte receives as many as arrive. Never have European affairs been concealed from him. -Balmain.]
We have not been able to subscribe to the "Morning Chronicle," to the "Morning Post," or to any French papers. From time to time a few copies of the "Times" have been sent over to Longwood. Pursuant to a request made on board the Northumberland, some books have been sent, but all those dealing with affairs of recent years have been carefully excluded. An English author who had made a trip through France and had then published in London a book about his travels wanted to send the Emperor a copy. But you did not allow him to have it because the gift did not have your Government's approval. It is said that the other books have been kept back because they were inscribed either to the Emperor Napoleon or to Napoleon the Great. The English Ministry is not authorized to impose any of these vexations. The Act of Parliament, iniquitous as it is, considers the Emperor Napoleon as a prisoner of war. But never have prisoners of war been forbidden to receive newspapers or books. Such orders go back to the days of the Inquisition.
All communication with St. Helena by the sea is impossible. There is only one little city, Jamestown, where vessels can anchor.
[The interior of the island is not forbidden to Bonaparte, nor is the town. He never goes out of his inclosure because he does not like to see the sentries, nor is he willing to be accompanied by an English officer. Even from Longwood a horseback ride may be made of eight to ten miles. It is a spacious, open terrain and the only spot on the island where one can gallop.-Balmain.]
The Emperor has been established in a place called Longwood, exposed to every wind, a barren spot, uninhabited, without water or verdure. [This passage from Count Montholon's letter is absolutely true. Plantation House is a magnificent place, well situated, with gardens and fountains; and Longwood is only a hovel, surrounded with gum-trees (a dreadful tree which gives no shade), and very windy. 15 In general, the English treat Bonaparte very shabbily. His house, his people, his dress, all are mean. He has only the necessities. That enormous expense which so excited Parliament is wholly for the maintenance of the troops and guard-ships, and of a numerous and more or less useless staff.-Balmain.] There is an inclosure of about 1200 square toises [6.4 feet] where a camp has been established. Admiral Malcolm had his sailors put up a tent in the only shady spot.
Napoleon's home from December 10, 1815, until his death, May 5, 1821.
His bedroom is shown by the four windows at the right.
Longwood was originally constructed as a grange for the company's farm, and then served as country house for the Vice-Governor, who had some bedrooms added. For over a year workmen have been inside, and the Emperor has had the inconvenience of living in a house under construction. His bedroom is too small to hold a bed of ordinary size, but every change at Longwood would prolong the carpenters' stay. And yet on this wretched island there are lovely sites, offering fine trees, gardens, and rather pretty houses, among which is Plantation House. But the positive instructions of the Ministry forbid you to suggest this house, which would have spared your treasury much expense.
You have forbidden all communication between us and the inhabitants of the island. [This is also true. Since the departure of Admiral Cockburn, Sir Hudson Lowe has increased the means of surveillance in an incredible manner, and there is no extravagance of which he is not capable to assure himself of the safety of his prisoner.-Balmain.] You have, in fact, held Longwood incomunicado. You seem, then, to have taken particular pains to deprive us of all the slight resources and comforts which this wretched island offers, and we are not otherwise than if we were on the barren rock of Ascension Island. During the four months that you have been here the Emperor's position has grown steadily worse. Count Bertrand pointed out to you that you were even violating the laws of your own Parliament, that you were trampling on the rights of prisoners of war. You answered that you recognized only the letter of your instructions and that they were even stricter than your conduct appeared to us.
P.S. I had signed this letter before receiving yours of the seventeenth. You inclose the account for a new amount of 20,000 pounds sterling which you judge necessary for the expenses of Longwood after having made all the reductions which you thought possible. The discussion of this account cannot concern us in any manner. The Emperor's table is already reduced to bare necessities. [He has ordinary daily fare, and a rather bad cook. As for provisions, there is no storehouse on this rock, and the English Government is not willing to go to the expense of four or five transports to establish regular communication with the Cape, the African coast, or Brazil; it is, then, impossible to have any of good quality.-Balmain.] All the provisions are of bad quality and four times dearer than at Paris. You ask for 12,000 pounds sterling for the Emperor, your Government allowing you only 8000 pounds sterling for all his expenses. I have had the honor to say to you that the Emperor has no money, that for a year he had received no letter, and that he was completely ignorant of what was happening or might happen in Europe. The Emperor has always desired and still desires to provide for all his needs, and he will do so as soon as you shall make it possible for him, by ceasing to forbid the tradesmen of the island to serve him by means of correspondence and as soon as such letters will no longer be submitted to examination. As soon as his needs are known in Europe, those persons who are interested in him will send him the necessary funds. [Although this letter was shown me confidentially, I believed it my duty, on account of this striking passage, to communicate it to the Austrian and French Commissioners.-Balmain.]
Lord Bathurst's letter which you communicated to me causes strange emotions. [This letter must be that in which Lord Bathurst recommends to Sir Hudson Lowe to make public at Longwood the Act of Parliament. See my report No. 8.-Balmain.] Are your Ministers not aware that the spectacle of a great man at grips with adversity is the most sublime spectacle? Are they unaware that Napoleon at St. Helena, in the midst of persecutions of all kinds - to which he opposes only serenity - is greater, more revered, than on the most powerful throne in the world, where for so long he was the arbiter of kings? Those who show no respect to Napoleon in his present position demean their own characters and the nation which they represent.
* * *
In communication No. 7, dated October 10, 1816, Count Balmain protests against the refusal of his request for an increased allowance, saying that it is absolutely impossible for him to live on the island on anything less than 2200 pounds sterling annually. If the Government persists in its refusal, the Commissioner will have no choice but to send in his resignation, the alternative being ruinous indebtedness. "By the time any new decision can reach me, I shall have been here for eighteen months. Neither my health nor my private affairs will allow me to go on for longer than two years." In any case, he is of the opinion that by that time the maintenance of Commissioners will become unnecessary, for public opinion in Europe will then have become much less interested in the whole matter of the exile.
* * *
I have the honor to transmit herewith the copy of a letter and two inclosures which the Governor of St. Helena has just addressed to me, to which I have as yet made no reply. The Austrian and French Commissioners received the same communication. M. de Montchenu has entered into explanations with Sir Hudson Lowe, and when they have settled the affair I shall not fail to give your Excellency a report. In the meantime I beg you to enlighten me on my procedure.
Admiral Malcolm has left St. Helena to visit the Cape of Good Hope station. His absence will not be long, and we hope to see him again in two months.
The Governor presents his respects to Count Balmain, and has the honor to communicate for his information that in the despatches he has received by the last arrivals from England, he is instructed to have it understood by all persons living at St. Helena, or resorting to it, that they are considered to be so far owing allegiance to his Britannic Majesty as to come within the provisions of the Act of Parliament which has been promulgated here for the safe custody of Napoleon Bonaparte. He begs leave to inclose extracts from the only letters which he has received on this subject, one which is of a general nature, and the other regarding the persons who followed Napoleon Bonaparte to this island.
Extract of a letter from Earl Bathurst, dated Downing
Street, July 17, 1816
As you make the Act of Parliament known, you must take care to have understood that all persons living at St. Helena, or resorting to it, are considered as so far owing allegiance to his Majesty as to come within the provisions of the act.
Extract of a letter from Earl Bathurst, dated Downing Street, July 9, 1816, Respecting the Persons Who Followed General Bonaparte to the Island of St. Helena
Previous to your requiring their signature to the paper (i.e., that in which their consent is to be expressed for remaining in the island of St. Helena), you should explain to them that whilst remaining at St. Helena they would be subject to the provisions of the Act of Parliament, 56 George III, cap. 22, by which all persons (who are subjects of his Majesty or owing allegiance to him, and which allegiance they do owe whilst they are permitted to reside in his dominions) assisting in or privy to the escape of General Bonaparte are considered guilty of felony.
No sooner was Count Montholon's letter (annexed to my report No. 6) forwarded to Sir Hudson Lowe, than Bonaparte seemed to repent of his decision toward us. He became gloomy, pensive, and for several days fell into a wretched temper. It was not that he considered the possibility of receiving us as Commissioners (on that point his decision is irrevocable), for never will he recognize himself the prisoner of any Power. But he regretted not seeing us at all. An enemy of the English, tired of his solitude, often overcome with ennui, he had need of us to break the monotony of his existence. He realized, moreover, that a more moderate response on his part would sooner or later have arranged the affair to his entire satisfaction, and he blamed himself for having terminated it brusquely, in such a way as to render difficult a reopening of the matter.
On the other hand, having constrained the Governor, the Commissioners of the Allied Powers, and everybody to defer to his will, he has become quite complacent, and soon arrived at a new idea. This was to prevent access to the Longwood inclosure to any one coming with a permit from the English authorities. He wanted Marshal Bertrand to be the only one to give such permits. Since nothing was more contrary to the regulations of surveillance, this idea was strongly opposed. Piqued to the quick at the refusal, he requested Sir Hudson Lowe never to introduce any strangers to him, and said that in future he would see no one. To this last the Governor, who for a long time had been thinking of isolating his prisoner, gladly consented. Since then people have ceased to go to Longwood. Travelers do not dare even to approach it. Those of the military men and natives of the island who used to be seen there have retired, and that corner of the island, formerly so frequented, is to-day deserted, and complete silence reigns there.
Bonaparte continues to enjoy perfect health. He is becoming stouter, and has an excellent appetite; he refuses to take any exercise, but nothing hitherto has affected his strong constitution. From time to time rumors of his sickness are circulated. There is a general disturbance at Longwood. The next day we learn that it was only an indigestion or a toothache.
Admiral Malcolm returned on November 28 from his trip to the Cape of Good Hope.
The Departure of Las Cases
The "happy" family at Longwood stayed intact for only a little over a year. Las Cases was the first to allow his unhappiness and homesickness to take precedence over his pleasure in basking in the shadow of the great. His relations with his fellow-exiles were becoming worse; his health was beginning to give him some trouble; and, assigned to the most uncomfortable rooms at Longwood, he and his son, a lad of sixteen whose health was no better, had become thoroughly miserable. The last straw was added by the Governor's removal of his mulatto servant James Scott. Scott had been detected in the act of sending secret messages to Baroness Stürmer.
Balmain describes correctly the use to which Las Cases hoped to put Scott. The Count was reckless in this intrigue because he did not fear detection, knowing that such a result would bring about his departure from the island without incurring the animosity of Napoleon.
Twice Scott passed through the guard at Longwood; and although it is a purely academic question, his success in doing so gives ground to the supposition, which is discussed in connection with a later episode, that if a mulatto unaided could elude the sentries' vigilance, a clever man like Napoleon, helped by many, could easily have done so.
The Counts de las Cases, of Bonaparte's suite, were arrested on November 25 by order of the Governor: the father for having attempted, by bribing an inhabitant of the island, to send letters to Europe, and the son for having aided in the attempt. Sir Hudson Lowe, who is becoming more reticent toward the Commissioners, has told us nothing of the background of the affair. The following details I owe to a well informed person.
Count de las Cases on arriving at St. Helena engaged a servant, a very intelligent mulatto named Scott. He soon learned to rely on his faithfulness, and, to put it to the test, charged him with an insignificant but secret message. The Governor was immediately informed of it by the person to whom the message was addressed, and the mulatto was ordered to leave his master. M. de las Cases, with his views as to the usefulness of the man, showed him great kindness, and in order that the latter might have a plausible pretext for reappearing at Longwood, he engaged him to take there a part of his clothes.
Deported from St. Helena, December 30,1816
(From the lithograph by L. H. Garnier; autograph taken from a
letter in possession of the editor)
The plot now moved rapidly. The Count made up a large volume of letters, and had his son transcribe them in tiny writing on several handkerchiefs of white silk. When this was done, they sewed the handkerchiefs into a waistcoat, and impatiently awaited the mulatto. Two months elapsed before he came. They proposed to him to go to England on the first boat. As he was free, and hoped for a large reward, he did not hesitate. He then put on the waistcoat containing the precious letters, which the mulatto promised on his arrival to hand to a lady named Clavering, who is French by parentage and the widow of an Englishman formerly a prisoner in Antwerp.
Scott, although glad to serve his former masters, was by no means sure of his part. Played upon now by the hope of a happy issue, and now by the fear of a terrible punishment, in order to reassure himself he told all to his father, one of the farmers of the island. The latter wanted to force his son to confess immediately to the Governor, and on the young man's refusal, he tore the fatal waistcoat from him, perceived the handkerchiefs, and carried the whole thing to Plantation House. The son was promptly placed in a cell, and has already undergone several examinations. The Las Cases were arrested the next day.
It is said that Bonaparte has had no hand in this affair and that nothing points to an attempt at escape. However that may be, it is certain that the Governor will never allow the Commissioners to see the handkerchiefs, and that the result will be the same as with Count Montholon's note--we shall have them unknown to him.
Captain Piontowski and four French domestics at Longwood left on August 19 for the Cape of Good Hope. Sir Hudson Lowe assured me that he had no complaint to make of them and was sending them away solely for reasons of economy. 16
Bonaparte appears indifferent to all these blows. He did not even ask to see Piontowski on the day of his departure, and when he learned of the Las Cases adventure, he simply shrugged his shoulders and said, "He is crazy."
I have the honor to be, etc.
The result of the inquiry into the Las Cases affair has been sent to Lord Bathhurst, and until instructions are received father and son will be kept under surveillance. The elder has shown a desire to settle in England. Having lost caste in the Emperor's mind, he says he no longer cares to stay at St. Helena. I believe that the affair is of little importance and there was no question of escape.
Among the papers was found a fragment of Bonaparte's history, which was immediately returned to him. His first impulse was to burn it, but the Governor hastened to assure him, on his word of honor, that neither he nor any one else had any knowledge of it.
Bonaparte remains very melancholy. The loss of Las Cases is a blow to his pride. He affects an indifferent air, but in the depths of his soul there is real suffering. He has been heard to say, "Let death come now," and also: "Let them send back all my French people. I don't want any more with me, so they might just as well send them off under some bad pretext."
I do not yet go to Longwood and can only judge of Bonaparte's position by what it suits the English to tell me of it. What I am sure of is that he is unhappy and that he has said more than once: "If I were in the power of the Emperor Alexander I should be better off. That Prince is noble and generous. I should forget my misfortunes." It is easily to be seen, also, that the Frenchmen of his suite are seeking eagerly to interest everybody in his fate. One day young Las Cases accosted me at the door of my house, to complain bitterly of the English authorities. He told me that the Emperor was badly lodged, badly served, badly fed, that the Governor took offense at everything, that his surveillance was tyrannical. Another day Piontowski, with an officer of the Fifty-third Infantry, came to my house, although we did not know each other. At first he chatted to me about his squadron of red lancers, which now forms part of the Polish army. Then, suddenly changing his tone, he said, in the presence of the Englishman: "They are treating us vilely. The Emperor is most unhappy." At that point I interrupted him and took my leave.
These reports are surely exaggerated. Animosity against the English underlies them all. Yet perhaps they are not entirely wrong. I cannot make up my mind absolutely until we have seen Bonaparte, and it is to be hoped that his door will not forever be closed to the Commissioners.
A short time before his departure for the Cape of Good Hope, Sir Pulteney Malcolm had an interview at Longwood regarding Russia. "That country," said Bonaparte, "will, unless you look out, lay down the law to everybody. She is to-day strong enough to undertake anything. Her Sovereign is peaceful. That is fortunate, for if he were not, anything might happen. His flying corps, the Cossacks from all over Russia, would overrun Europe."
Admiral Malcolm asked him what he thought of the Russian soldier. "He is brave, robust, and patient," answered Bonaparte.
"But," said the Admiral, "it would seem that the Cossacks are not good cavalry."
"Do not think so," replied Bonaparte. "They are intelligent, and more dangerous than you believe. You simply can't get at them, they are so skilful in surprising the enemy, in attacking and then in retiring. They go from one country to another without knowing the language or the roads. They are everywhere, they live on almost nothing, and never have I captured any Cossacks."
Admiral Malcolm wanted to ask questions regarding the campaign of Moscow, but as usual the other avoided the subject. They then passed to the Russian navy. "That country," said Bonaparte, "has only her coasts to protect. All she needs is a Baltic squadron, which need not be very strong, and another against Turkey. She should not try a naval offensive, for she is not a maritime power."
P.S. Last night, the twenty-fifth, the Counts de las Cases, to the great surprise of every one, were transferred from the house where they were kept under watch to the Governor's house at St. James, where the surveillance is much less strict. It is said that they are soon to leave for England. Las Cases must have said positively that he wishes to see no more of Longwood, and that, determined to leave Bonaparte forever, he desired to live at peace under the protection of the English laws. About this fact Sir Hudson Lowe has communicated to us nothing. M. de las Cases carries away with him precious materials for history. It is quite clear now that that was his aim in coming to St. Helena. 17
Sir Hudson Lowe has just informed us that the Counts de las Cases will leave to-morrow by the brig Griffon and be taken to the Cape of Good Hope, whence they will probably go to England.
The affair is shrouded in mystery. Some say that the famous handkerchief affair is only a ruse of his own invention to get himself arrested and to leave Bonaparte while appearing to yield to force. Others believe that the project was a serious one, but that, since it did not succeed, Las Cases had the good sense not to return to Longwood, and thus escaped an insupportable exile. Admiral Malcolm leans to the former view. The Governor is still determined to keep us out of the secret. M. de Montchenu pointed out to him, in my hearing, that it was important for the King to see this correspondence on account of the Frenchmen who might be named. "At London," Sir Hudson Lowe answered dryly, "they may perhaps explain the matter to your ambassador."
This gives your Excellency an idea of our position.
Lady London and Moira, wife of the governor-general of India, was a guest at Plantation House. A day or two after this episode Napoleon willingly received some of her friends who were traveling with her. Return to paragraph text.
A letter in the "London Times" of November 26, 1842, signed by "An Old Inhabitant of St. Helena," says that "the inhabitants generally remember with the liveliest feelings of affection the charities and benevolence of Lady Lowe." Return to paragraph text.
Balmain's harsh judgment of Montholon seems to be accurate. His statements, oral and written (e.g., "Récits de la captivité . . ."), are utterly unreliable.
Gourgaud, though not enjoying the favor in which basked the other three principal followers, was the most truthful of them all: perhaps for that very reason. Brutally frank persons are apt to be "gross"; but Balmain does him less than justice. Return to paragraph text.
Balcombe probably owed his appointment as purveyor to Longwood to the friendship between Napoleon and his daughter. The business alliance that ensued soon seemed to Lowe to be more intimate than was necessary, and it became evident to the purveyor that he would be more comfortable away from the island. The family accordingly departed in March, 1818, and soon afterward Lowe received proofs of his suspicion that Balcombe had been acting as an intermediary in the transmission of clandestine correspondence to Europe and in negotiating bills drawn by Napoleon. Lord Bathurst, however, appointed him treasurer of the colony of New South Wales, so that the government could not have taken a very serious view of his conduct. Return to paragraph text.
14. Further French testimony has been recently discovered, in a hitherto unpublished letter from Baron Gourgaud to his mother, dated from Longwood, January 12, 1816: "The climate here is very mild, the air very healthy, the change of seasons is only very slightly felt. It is perpetual spring; in short, dear mother, I am very well physically. . . . We are now quite settled in a pretty country house. . ." Return to paragraph text.
The question has occasionally been asked as to why Napoleon was not given the best house on the island, namely, Plantation House. "It was one of the conditions on which the East India Company allowed the use of the island to the Government, that all the public buildings were to be at the selection of Cockburn as a residence for the Emperor, the Governor's excepted. Plantation House was the center of the telegraphs or semaphores of the island."-Seaton. Return to paragraph text.
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