Napoleonic Literature
Napoleon in Captivity:
The Reports of Count Balmain
Russian Commissioner on the
Island of St. Helena 1816-1820
1817

No. 1

January 6, 1817.


 The Austrian Commissioner and the Governor of St. Helena are at open war. For about six weeks there has been between them such a continual exchange of notes and explanations as to lead to a probable outburst. The whole of it is concerned with an insignificant object.

A woman named Marchand, attached to the household of the Archduchess Marie Louise and the mother of a valet de chambre of Bonaparte, was aware at Vienna that an Austrian botanist named Welle was to follow Baron Stürmer to St. Helena. Wishing to profit by that opportunity to send her son a lock of her hair, 1 she begged M. Boze, head gardener at Schönbrunn, to ask Welle for his good offices, and the latter consented. The hair, which was of a flaxen blond, was inclosed in a packet on which was written: "I send you some of my hair. If you have any way of getting your portrait made, please send it to me. Your mother, Marchand."

Shortly after arriving at St. Helena Welle came across Marchand in the town and fulfilled his commission, not thinking it necessary to advise Baron Stürmer of it. After a while the rumor began to be circulated that some hair of the King of Rome had arrived in Bonaparte's prison. Soon they said that Welle had brought it from Mme. Marchand, unknown to the English authorities. Inquiries were made at Longwood and everywhere else. Of these the Governor did not communicate to us the result, but they are sure that the message intrusted to Welle is from the King of Rome and that Mme. Marchand simply lent her name. Some draw absurd conclusions against the house of Austria. However that may be, the botanist excited the suspicion of the Governor and his recall was determined.

Baron Stürmer knew nothing of the matter, for they avoided all discussion of it before him. Abruptly Sir Hudson Lowe advised him that Welle, not being provided with special authorization from the British Government to reside at St. Helena, and having no doubt purchased during his three months' stay sufficient plants and animals, must now leave the island. The Governor's lack of candor naturally made more out of the affair than it was worth. The Commissioner received the note with bad grace, and thought the Governor's "officiousness" extremely fantastic. He strongly opposed the expulsion of the botanist. Sir Hudson Lowe made no new move. A correspondence then began between them which was marked by the exchange of three or four official notes a day, in which each treated the other with bitterness and disdain.

It then became apparent that Baron Stürmer knew nothing of the affair previously described. Welle was immediately examined. He declared on oath that he had never either seen or known Mme. Marchand, or suspected that the message with which he was charged could have come from the King of Rome. After this inquiry the Austrian Commissioner tried to come to an understanding with Sir Hudson Lowe. "You should know," Lowe said severely, "that the affair is important, exceedingly important. Letters have been transmitted unknown to me, and it is alleged that you had knowledge of it."

"Any one who says that," cried the other, pale and trembling with anger, "is a coward and a rascal."

"What you tell me about Welle," added the Governor, "is not enough. I must examine him myself."

"So you mean to insult me?" cried the Baron. "No, you will not see Welle. You have no right over him. A Commissioner cannot be treated thus, a man enjoying the confidence of his Sovereign. If the Court of Vienna had desired to send Bonaparte his son's hair, they would have sent it to me, and I would have been more skilful."

"It is not," said the Governor, "that I envy a father the natural pleasure of receiving his child's hair, but they must not make a mystery of it. That is an infraction of the law."

They spent a whole hour abusing each other. Finally Baron Stürmer inquired if it had been proved that the message in question had not come from Mme. Marchand. Sir Hudson Lowe replied that he would say nothing whatever on that subject. The result of their quarrel was that Welle underwent a second interrogation, in which he simply repeated everything that he had previously stated. Nevertheless the Governor held to his decision, and the Commissioner had to give way. Welle will leave the island when the pleasant season sets in. 2
 

I have the honor to be, etc.
No. 2
January 28, 1817.


 The grief which Bonaparte felt at the loss of Las Cases seems to have entirely disappeared. He is gayer than ever, and seems in splendid health, except that he has become a little thinner. It is said that Mme. Montholon has now become his secretary. He continues to receive no one, and hardly ever goes out of his house. Admiral Malcolm, since his return from the Cape, has only seen him twice. The Governor never sees him. Often we are without news of him for three days.

I have the honor to be, etc.

P.S. Your Excellency will permit me to inclose a little sketch of Bonaparte, made in haste at a moment when he was reprimanding Bertrand. It will give an idea of his present costume. As my whole mission here is made up of trifles, I have believed it proper to add this.
 
 


No. 3


 



 
 
 
 
 

February 28, 1817.


 It is now six months since Bonaparte has seen or received strangers, with the exception of Admiral Malcolm, and nearly three months since he has gone out of the house, even to take the air. He lives alone, without taking any exercise, in a climate where undue repose and solitude easily affect one's health and may cause death. Often, through ennui, he suddenly changes his mode of living. Admiral and Lady Malcolm, who saw him recently, found him somewhat pale and anemic, but in good humor and extremely affable. While talking of various matters, he pointed out to the Admiral that the Bourbons, who had returned to France on the shoulders of the Allies, would not maintain themselves there, that he alone, of all the heirs of the Revolution, knew how to lead the French people.

"You lead them to victory," said the Admiral, "but that is not what makes the public happy nor what they need at this moment."

"Ah, no," he replied, "everything has its limits. I don't want any more war. If I were reigning, I should not lift a finger." He also said that the Austrians were never liked in Italy; and that the Emperor Francis was a Bluebeard, and that he kills all his women.
The Austrian Commissioner has already borrowed  1000. He had received nearly  3000 from his Government, and these two sums scarcely suffice for his expenses. This proves to your Excellency that nothing is comparable to the dearness of St. Helena. I have seen six pounds paid for half of a pig, and sixty are asked for a dozen chairs.
 

I have the honor to be, etc.
*   *   *

 


In his fourth report Count Balmain observes that he has been without news from Europe for five months and accordingly fears that his reports have not been arriving. He sends duplicates of his recent communications.
 
 



*   *   *

No. 5


 



 
 
 
 
 

April 14, 1817.


 I take advantage of the departure of one of the Company's vessels to have the honor to send herewith the translation of an edict of the court of Pekin relative to the embassy of Lord Amherst. It is a rather curious document in Chinese diplomacy. The noble lord is expected daily at St. Helena. His embassy, as your Excellency will see by this edict, has failed.

Bonaparte continues in good health, and still sees nobody. I shall give news of him at greater length, as soon as possible.
 
 


Translation of an Imperial Edict 3


 






Dated the fifteenth day of the seventh moon of the twenty-first year (September 6, 1816) of Kiu King, addressed to the Keing Kiau, and the Stuysen Tung of Canton, and received the fifth of the eighth moon (September 25).

The English ambassadors, upon their arrival at Tien Sing, have not observed the laws of politeness, in return for the invitation of the Emperor Kiu Chung Tung Chow. a Four leagues from the court, they gave us assurances of readiness to perform the prostration and genuflexions required by the laws of good manners of the country, and arrived at the imperial country house, half a league from court, and when we were upon the point of repairing to the hall to receive the embassy, the first as well as the second ambassadors, under pretense of ill health, would not appear; we in consequence passed a decree that they should be sent away upon their return. We, however, reflecting that, although the said ambassadors were blamable, in not observing the laws of politeness toward the sovereign of their country, who from immense distance and over various seas had sent to offer us presents, and to present with respect his letters, indicating a wish to show us due consideration and obedience, contempt was improper and against the maxim to show lenity to our inferiors, in consequence from amongst the presents of the said king we chose the most trifling and insignificant, which are: four maps, two portraits, ninety-five engravings, and, in order to gratify him, accepted them. We in return give as a reward to the said king a yee-yee, a string of rare stones, two pairs of large purses, and four pairs of small purses, and we order the ambassadors to receive these gifts and to return to their kingdom, having so acted in observance of the maxim of Confucius: "Give much, receive little."

When the ambassadors received these gifts, they became exceedingly glad and evinced their repentance. They have already quitted Tung Chow. Upon their arrival in Canton, You Kiang and Ting will invite them to an entertainment, in compliance with good manners, and you will make the following speech to them: "Your good fortune has been small; you arrived at the gates of the imperial house, and were unable to lift your eyes to the face of heaven. The great Emperor reflected that your king sighed after happiness (i. e., China) and acted with sincerity. We therefore accepted some presents, and gifted to your king various precious articles. You must return thanks to the Emperor for his benefits, and return with speed to your kingdom, that your king may feel a respectful gratitude for these acts of kindness; take care to embark the rest of the presents with safety that they may not be lost or destroyed."

After this lecture, should the ambassador supplicate you to receive the rest of the presents, answer in one word: a decree has passed; we cannot therefore present troublesome petitions, and with decision you will rid yourself of them.
 

Respect this.
No. 6
May 1, 1817.


 Sir Hudson Lowe continues to show us great respect and to extend us his good offices in every way. But our official relations are less satisfactory, and I much doubt, when I recall the daily experience which I have had for ten months, whether the Commissioners and the English authorities will ever be able to get along well together.

In the first place, Bonaparte is the prisoner of Europe. But he is in the Power of the English, whom he detests, and of whom he believes he has good reason to complain. From this hostility, which he can show in his immediate environment, there develops in him a need of seeing the Commissioners in order to let loose against the British Government and to interest the other Courts in his favor. This naturally irritates the English and is unfavorable to us, for they hold us responsible in some way for the sorry temper of a man whom everything on this rock should please! "The fact is," they say, "that ever since the arrival of the Commissioners, Longwood has been in insurrection: they have conceived vain hopes there; peace and tranquillity have fled." Hence in large part results the bad temper that they have shown toward us, which we recognize is through no one's fault.

Secondly, when the Act of Parliament was published at St. Helena - i. e., the act specifying the penalty of death for any one who helped in whatever way to facilitate Bonaparte's escape - the Governor, thinking that we were included, addressed to each of the Commissioners the note and the inclosures, copies of which your Excellency will find inclosed. My French colleague lost no time in starting an argument, and maintained that the act could not concern him, as he was not answerable to any English Court. As Lord Bathurst's letter made no express mention of the Commissioners, the Governor did not believe it necessary to insist on this point. But he now seems to mistrust us and keeps us out of touch with affairs. He takes umbrage at all we do. He has us spied on. When asked why, he replies, "You are exempted from the law of Parliament, and my position toward you is becoming embarrassing." "You reproach me," he said one day to Baron Stürmer, "for trusting Admiral Malcolm and not you, but you must realize that I can have him hanged and not you." The absurdity of this argument is easily apparent, but he sustains it vehemently, becomes violently angry whenever any one makes the slightest objection.

Thirdly, Sir Hudson Lowe is without any doubt a worthy man, a man of recognized honor and probity. Moreover, he is a cultured man, and they say writes excellently. 4 But in business matters he shows a narrow mind. The responsibility with which he has been charged makes him tremble, and he becomes alarmed at the slightest incident, puzzles his brain for hours over nothing, and does with vast trouble what any one else would do in a minute. As soon as he is questioned about Bonaparte or any one in his suite, his forehead becomes wrinkled with suspicion; he believes there is a trap laid for him, and returns only a half-answer. When he explains something to you, he hides its sequel, and never expresses himself logically or clearly, the result being that your mind is hopelessly entangled. Moreover, as I have hinted, he is easy to anger. Let any one contradict or argue, he knows not what he says or where he is, and he loses his head. To have business with him, and to be comfortable or pleasant with him, are two incompatible things.

Such, Monsieur le Comte, are my official relations at St. Helena. We are either disliked, because Bonaparte wants to make his position clear to us, or mistrusted, because we are not subject to English laws. All our discussions and remonstrances on the subject have been of no avail, because the Governor is an intractable man.

Accordingly, our rôle, which was to have been only passive, is altogether negligible. In spite of the deep displeasure which I sometimes feel, I dare to assure your Excellency that my conduct toward the English has always conformed to my instructions. Like my colleagues, I have had long and detailed explanations regarding all these bickerings. I have more than once reproached Sir Hudson Lowe for his mistrust and ill-will toward us, but without becoming angry or pushing him to the limit, and when I saw that I was losing my time and trouble, I left him to the Austrian and French Commissioners, and my conscience is clear.
General Gourgaud, whom I met while walking this morning, assured me that Bonaparte was very impatient to see us. "He has," Gourgaud said, "very friendly feelings for you. Come and see him informally. You will give us all great pleasure." I thanked him for his frankness, and explained to him briefly that since MM. Stürmer and de Montchenu had not as yet received any reply from Europe regarding the report, I owed it to them not to make any separate move, but that when this matter was disposed of, I should arrange with the Governor regarding the manner of seeing Bonaparte.

That is what I really count on doing as soon as these new orders, which we impatiently await, have arrived.
 

I have the honor to be, etc.


No. 7


 



 
 
 
 
 

May 6, 1817.


 Since Bonaparte has shut himself up within four walls, his life offers no interesting detail. His health is good. He studies, reviews all his campaigns, amuses himself in tracing out the military maps of these battles, and works without relaxation on his history. That is all that we know of him. Admiral Malcolm sees him from time to time, but there is coldness between them. Bonaparte is tired of him, as of all the English. Lately he said to him: "I made war on Russia only to reestablish the Kingdom of Poland. I should have done better, perhaps, to march on St. Petersburg, but I feared to be without provisions there." It has been noticed that he much prefers his Egyptian campaign.

I have just learned, Monsieur le Comte, that the botanist Welle handed to General Gourgaud, the day after our arrival here and unknown to the English authorities, a letter and a silk handkerchief. As he did not speak of this message to any one, even when he was questioned at the time of the affair of Mme. Marchand, it is clear that he is under suspicion, and that they did well to send him away.
 

I have the honor to be, etc.
No. 8
July 4, 1817.


 Admiral Malcolm has just been recalled from his post and will set sail to-day for England. Admiral Plampin, who replaces him, arrived on June 29. For about three months Sir Pulteney Malcolm and the Governor have been at odds. They have ceased to see each other, to invite each other to dinner, or to confer. They say (but the truth of this I do not guarantee) that the former has intrigued at London to supplant the other. The apparent reason for this misunderstanding is that the Admiral greatly underestimated the amount of food necessary at St. Helena, that we have lacked wine, flour, and fresh meat, that all the horses on the island, except those at Longwood, are still on half-rations, and that the Governor is the one blamed.

For my part, I can only regret Sir Pulteney Malcolm. On every occasion he has shown me much confidence, and I have always enjoyed his friendship and his advice.

The Austrian and French Commissioners have received orders not to insist on seeing Bonaparte in their official capacities. Monsieur de Stürmer has been severely reprimanded by Prince Metternich on the affair of the lock of hair from the King of Rome, and on his conduct in general. Monsieur de Montchenu has obtained an annual increase of 6000 francs, retroactive to the day of his arrival at St. Helena, June 18, 1816.

Lord Amherst, on his return from China, spent some days on the island. Through Marshal Bertrand he solicited an audience at Longwood and was beautifully received. They were an hour together. Bonaparte has an inflammation of the face. His head is swollen, and he has trouble with his teeth. His doctor advises extraction, but he will not hear of the operation and prefers to suffer.
 

I have the honor to be, etc.
No. 9
July 4, 1817.


 The Governor has this moment sent me, the vessel being just about to set sail, the note and inclosure which I have the honor to transmit herewith. I do not yet know what could have caused this proceeding.
 

I have the honor to be, etc.
[copy]
The Castle, Jamestown, July 3, 1817.


 The Governor presents his respects to Count Balmain and begs to inclose for his information copy of the last reports he has received respecting the state of health of General Bonaparte, who within these few days past has been afflicted with catarrh and appears to be suffering under it.

(Here follow five reports from Dr. O'Meara regarding the catarrhal trouble already mentioned.)
 
 



No. 10


 



 
 
 
 
 

July 8, 1817.


 Recently the Governor invited to his house the Commissioners of the Allied Powers and announced to them (1) that he had received orders to communicate to each of them, separately, everything which had to do with Bonaparte's health. In conformity with these orders, he has sent me the two bulletins from Dr. O'Meara which I herewith transmit; (2) that the Prince Regent had excepted them individually from the Act of Parliament, but that in the future their people would be collectively affected. MM. Stürmer and de Montchenu observe with considerable displeasure that the wife of the former and the aide-de-camp of the latter are answerable to the English authorities.

Ever since the arrival of the Conqueror, Bonaparte has been eager to see us. He knows that the affair of the trial is over, and that the Austrian and French Commissioners can go to Longwood as private persons. Gourgaud seeks me out and follows me everywhere, pressing me urgently to give pleasure to his master. Bertrand does the same for Mme. Stürmer. The other day, while seated near her, he pretended, in order not to be heard by any one, to pick up a handkerchief, and whispered: "Madame, in the name of Heaven, come to see the Emperor. He is expecting you. He speaks only of you. He needs company. He sees only the English, and is very sad."

Sir Pulteney and Lady Malcolm, before leaving St. Helena, made a farewell visit to Bonaparte. He was carried away with invectives against the Prince Regent, Parliament, Ministers, and all the English. Whether it was to keep in his good graces or from timidity, the Admiral listened patiently and said nothing. This silence pleased the great man. He presented Lady Malcolm with a pretty china cup, and assured them of his friendship. The Governor, indignant at this conduct, and because the naval officers chattered about it, immediately proceeded to the Admiral's and made a scene. The latter energetically defended himself, and they wrote their official versions of the affair, which apparently were each sent to Lord Bathurst.

Admiral Plampin is a good man, timid, quite amiable, who wishes to live peacefully and to mix into nothing which does not concern him. He has seen Bonaparte once and made no impression on his mind, for which he is rather glad. To the great scandal of the colony, he brought a lady with him from London, who, though she uses his name, is only his mistress. 5
 

I have the honor to be, etc.


 (There follow two reports from Dr. O'Meara testifying to the complete restoration of Bonaparte's health.)
 
 


No. 11


 



 
 
 
 
 

July 20, 1817.


 As I had the honor of stating to your Excellency, in my sixth report, that before seeing Bonaparte I was waiting for the replies from Europe regarding the affair of the trial, I went recently to the Governor and unofficially explained to him my intentions. I gave him the following note:

General:

Since there is now no obstacle to the Commissioners seeing Napoleon as private individuals, I, like your compatriots (notably Lord Amherst), beg to request you to authorize me to make the usual overtures to Count Bertrand. If you would be kind enough to accompany me there I should be doubly grateful.

I had advised him of this move a month previously and at that time found him ready to help me; he even encouraged me. Yet here is the answer he gave me when we came to the point:

I cannot do it. I have no orders which would authorize it. Write again to your ministers. You see, you are exempted from the law of Parliament. Any Englishman can be hung. Your case is different from ours. On the other hand, Bonaparte treats me outrageously, like a dog. He insults and slanders me. He would say dreadful things to you. I cannot stand it. Since the Commissioners' arrival - I cannot hide it from you - we have been completely at variance. That man is too subtle. He makes plans and dreams visions as if he were still at the Tuileries. I know worthy people (e.g., Malcolm) who, without wishing it or even knowing it, have become his tools. His retinue are all terrible; they are all conspirators. Your position is difficult, painful, extraordinary, I know. So is mine, and you must help me, defend me, make my interests yours.

It would have been easy to refute his logic, but instead of arguing I preferred to retract my request.
 

I have the honor to be, etc.


 P.S. I had finished this report when I received the note from the Governor which I have the honor to inclose. In the margin I have added my memoranda on its contents. It is a detailed and semi-official reply to my little note. He wishes, as is usual with him, to drag out a correspondence, because it is much easier for him to write than to talk. But I have had to tell him that I would not please him in this intention.

Sir:

In reply to your letter, I do myself the honour to inform you that I have not myself received any fresh instruction from Europe on the subject it refers to, nor am I in possession of any definite rule for my guidance, as to the manner in which the Commissioners of the Allied Powers are to be presented to Napoleon Bonaparte. Following only the dictates of my own judgment, after perusal of the convention and of the general instructions under which I act, I am perfectly ready now, as I always have been, to personally introduce you and the other Commissioners to him at any time you may desire, and under any title he may be disposed to receive you, so long as it does not imply a recognition of the pretentions set forth in the reply to the first application I made for your presentation to him.

In respect to authorizing you to visit Count Bertrand, or to conduct you myself to him, for the purpose of being afterward presented by him, b I would desire to observe that Count Bertrand holds no official c position whatever here, that though through an act of personal consideration toward General Bonaparte he was allowed to accompany him to this island, and from courtesy since has been permitted to introduce private individuals, this can form no just precedent for his introduction of persons in public situation,d and I am therefore dispensed from the necessity of considering the application you have addressed to me with respect to him, as of an official nature, while the references it makes to instructions from Europe cannot allow me to regard it wholly as of a private one. e

As it is impossible, Sir, however, for you to lay aside the quality of Commissioner, I regret that the application should have been presented, but I am at the same time too solicitous for your favorable judgment and that of the Court you represent, not to enter into a full detail of the reasons which operate against my admission of it.

It is, Sir, in your good recollection that I made known personally to Count Bertrand soon after the arrival of the Commissioners in this island their desire of being presented to Napoleon Bonaparte. I applied afterward by letter through the same person for an opportunity being presented me of introducing them, which letter drew forth a reply full of injurious reflections against my Government and slanderous accusations against myself.

It does not appear, Sir, to me under these circumstances, combined with a view of the relation in which Count Bertrand stands with the present Government of France, suitable to the dignity of the Government I represent, nor to the respect due to my own situation as Governor of this island, to allow him, or any of the French officers who from the indulgence of the British Government were suffered to accompany General Bonaparte here, to be a channel f of introduction to or communication between the Commissioners and him; at a time, too, when he has abstracted himself from all personal relation or intercourse with the authorities under which that government has placed him, with the express design perhaps to render himself g independent, as far as possible, of their intervention or control.

Your letter, Sir, speaks of the visit to Count Bertrand as a visite d'usage, a l'exemple de tous vos compatriotes, de Lord Amherst entr'autres. In pursuance of a regulation established by my predecessor, I have continued to acquiesce in the custom of allowing a previous visit to be made to Count Bertrand by such individuals as were desirous of an opportunity of being admitted to an interview with Napoleon Bonaparte, in order that they might ascertain through him if their visit would be received. The visit to Longwood in such case has never been made without the formality of a pass, signed by myself, valid only for once, and left with the officer of the guard to be returned to me after the visit has been made.

In allowing the continuance of the previous visit to Count Bertrand, I have acted entirely on my own responsibility, for by the instructions of my Government I am particularly cautioned not to suffer previous or after visits to be made to the persons of Genl. Bonaparte's family by those who may have obtained my permission to see him. When I have suffered it, therefore, it has solely been from attention to the wishes of Genl. Bonaparte himself, in respect to persons who stood in no official relation h towards him, and merely to save him from being importuned by the visits of strangers who might not have obtained his previous consent to their seeing him.

Lord Amherst was here in no official relation that regarded the persons at Longwood. This nobleman from being aware of the delicacy of my own personal relations in that quarter did not make any application to me for being presented until I myself first spoke of it to him. i He threw himself entirely upon my j judgment in respect to the visit to Count Bertrand, which, time not admitting the possibility of any other k arrangement, I did not oppose. Had I thought it could have been considered a ground of precedent upon which to found application for introducing any person in a public situation, I would not however have permitted it.

It is now, Sir, nearly a year since I called on Count Bertrand and personally requested he would make known to Genl. Bonaparte the desire of the lieutenant-colonel and officers of the 66th Regiment to be presented to him at Longwood.l To this application no answer was given. I spoke of it afterwards to Genl. Bonaparte himself, in replying to a complaint he made that I had thrown difficulties in the way of the officers seeing him, when he told me that "the commanding officer ought to have called on the Grand Maréchal himself, and not me." m These officers have not visited Count Bertrand nor seen Genl. Bonaparte. Thus, Sir, you will observe that not all my countrymen ("tous vos compatriotes") have had recourse to the intervention of the former. And yet Genl. Bonaparte has latterly intimated that he was ready to receive a visit from these officers.

My own visits, and the visits in fact of any person holding authority in the island, as you are well aware, have been very rare. n The opposition to a properly regulated intercourse, however, such as my duty would allow me to admit, has rested entirely with him. You will be perhaps surprised when I observe that, from the occasional interviews you had during some of your rides, o to which no previous assent was given on my part, you have already conversed more at length with an officer of Genl. Bonaparte's suite than I have done during the whole time of my stay in this island, whilst I am at the same time uninformed of the particulars of any conversation p he may have addressed to you, which could not have well occurred with respect to any British subject or official under my own authority. q

In thus referring to a past circumstance, I have not, Sir, the presumption to imply a reproach. You are responsible only to the authority from whom your instructions are received. I have spoken of it therefore only to more distinctly point out there has not been that analogy between your situation, even as a private individual, and that of other persons on this island, which the reference to them in your letter "A 1'exemple de tous vos compatriotes" might infer.

In entering into these details I have been, Sir, more solicitous to account for my line of proceeding during the past than to prescribe for the future. Circumstances which have occurred since I received your letter render it very questionable whether I can continue to Count Bertrand that consideration he has hitherto enjoyed. The pretensions invariably manifested through that person require at all times to be strongly r repressed. Under no circumstances therefore, particularly at the present moment, could I acquiesce in your desire of being presented to Napoleon Bonaparte through him, unless I rendered myself a voluntary instrument to weaken the force of that authority in which the British Government has placed me, and second the pretensions of those who stand the most opposed s to it, and I am well persuaded I need no other argument, Sir, to induce you to give me the fullest support, in not further pressing your application. t
 

I have the honor to be, etc.


No. 12


 



 
 
 
 
 

July 23, 1817.


 I must inform your Excellency that since my last explanation with the Governor I have had another meeting with General Gourgaud near Longwood. As I was not alone, being accompanied by General Bingham, nothing this time constrained me to retire, and I continued my walk together with both these gentlemen.

Gourgaud spoke to me of my visit to Bertrand. "Since the Conqueror has arrived," he said, "can we hope to see the Commissioners?"

I told him simply that I had written to the Governor, as was the custom, but that there seemed to be difficulties, and I had to submit to his decision.

"What," he said, "not even a little bonjour to Mme. Bertrand?"

"Not," I replied, "while Longwood and Plantation House are at war. As long as the door of Longwood is closed to Sir Hudson Lowe, not even a little bonjour to Mme. Bertrand. Make your peace with him. He is a good man. He means well; he wants to get along with you. You will be asked to his dinners, they will go to see you occasionally, and the time will not seem so long."

"Ah, sir," said Gourgaud, "he made a wrong start. The evil is now without remedy."

The interview then ended. I am sending this account of it because the circumstance is rather delicate and the Governor attaches importance to the slightest detail.
 

I have the honor to be, etc.
*   *   *





No. 13, July 26, 1817, transmits a copy of a bulletin of Dr. O'Meara on Napoleon's health.
 
 



*   *   *

No. 14

August 8, 1817.


 Having advised the Imperial Minister in my report No. 7, 1816, that it is impossible to live on St. Helena on less than 2200 pounds sterling per year, I cannot fail to inform your Excellency that, after fourteen months' residence in this miserable country, I am in debt to the amount of one thousand pounds from last year. On my conscience I protest that I have lived in an entire lack of luxury. At St. James, Longwood, and elsewhere, I have even been criticized for my mode of living, which so little befits the Commissioner of a great Power. In order to give the Minister a new and unanswerable proof of the cost of living here, I have inclosed herewith a certificate from Sir Hudson Lowe regarding Baron Stürmer's expenses. I dare to hope from the justice and kindness of the Emperor that his decision toward my remuneration will be favorable. If it were otherwise, being unable to secure advances on my fortune, I shall be reduced to the tender mercies of my creditors.
 

I have the honor to be, etc.
Copy of a letter from Sir Hudson Lowe to Baron von Stürmer

 



 

November 22, 1816.


 I shall draw up with much pleasure the certificate regarding your accounts, and in view of the conversation which we had yesterday, I have no hesitation in declaring to you that the price of all sorts of provisions in this island is at least double what they cost in England; that wine is almost the same price, and in view of our taxes, that makes it quite expensive; that the wages of servants, workmen of all kinds, and field laborers, are at least double and often triple, and the prices of transportation, even for the simplest family needs when one lives in the country, are expensive. u

I shall be glad to draw up an official certificate to this effect.
 
 


*   *   *


 






The reports numbered 15, 16, 18, and 19 transmit bulletins from Dr. O'Meara.
 
 


No. 17


 



 
 
 
 
 

September 10, 1817.


 Since the Governor has taken from me all hope of going to Longwood - his mind being now free from fear in that respect - he is gayer and more affable than has been his custom. It is not so hard now to make him talk, and yesterday we had a long conversation about his last note. What he told me deserves to be faithfully reported to your Excellency.

"Was it Bertrand," I asked, "who announced you to Bonaparte when you arrived?"

"Oh, no, it wasn't he. But the fact is I don't really remember. I met him by chance at the door, and he announced me."

"Well, you see that the thing has happened."

The Governor, with vehemence: "I don't approve that arrangement. But Admiral Cockburn having allowed it, I forced myself to allow it too. Bertrand gives himself great airs, which we must do away with. Anyway, since Bonaparte no longer calls him Marshall that vain and ridiculous pretense serves no end."

(There is an obvious contradiction between what he says here of Bertrand and what he writes in his note. I beg your Excellency to glance at the latter.)

"You believed that I wanted to be presented at Longwood by Bertrand. That was not the case. I only wished to follow your example, to do what all your English people have done, are doing, and will do at St. Helena. You see, then, that you were wrong to write me that note, which furthermore was not a reply to my letter."

"You should, I am sure, be treated on this island just as the English are, and enjoy the same trust and liberty. The Commissioners must have access to Bonaparte, or else they will be recalled. That is my opinion. But I protest that does not depend on me. I am obeying my orders."

"It is not, I beg you to believe, in order to renew that affair that I have taken the liberty of speaking to you about it. My desire of seeing and talking to Bonaparte does not go to the point of displeasing you. My duty at St. Helena is to follow your directions in everything. But I wanted to let you know the real meaning of my letter."

"My position toward you is really embarrassing, and yours is not agreeable. But at Longwood our position is the same. I never see Bonaparte; that may console you.

"As for my meetings with Gourgaud, for which you reproached me in that note, kindly give me your ideas, with which I promise to conform. But I must tell you that he seeks me out everywhere, and I acknowledge that I do not like to turn away. It is humiliating. It would be more natural, it seems to me, to forbid these gentlemen following us."

"Please do not imagine that I have ever thought of reproaching you. You conduct yourself with great propriety toward me, and Gourgaud too is a good fellow; it isn't he that I fear. But if I don't look out, Bertrand or Montholon will make trouble for you, and I haven't the same opinion of them. They are intriguers."

"What Gourgaud told me cannot interest you. He spoke to me of his military service, of his comrades, of the battle of Waterloo." I outlined these details, and he listened attentively, then saying:

"I have had very unpleasant scenes with Admiral Malcolm, on account of his too frequent visits to Longwood. He went so far as to send reports of them to the newspapers, unknown to me. I finally protested to the Ministry. He is a man quite without judgment."

"Well, never shall you and I have a misunderstanding. My conduct for the last fifteen months is a guarantee of the future. But try to rid yourself of your distrust and reserve toward the Commissioners."

"There are things which I can reveal to you; there are others which I must keep from you. The fault is not mine, but my duty's." He then told me some old and forgotten facts, promised to send me his notes on Montholon's letter, painted another frightful portrait of Bertrand, told me that Piontowski had tried to corrupt some officers of the garrison, and that he was still writing them some extravagant letters, but that, seeing in the Pole only an adventurer, a man without means and turned off by Bonaparte, he had taken no action.

In bringing together, Monsieur le Comte, all that the Governor has said and written on my presentation at Longwood, it cannot be denied that there are many inconsistencies in his conduct. First, he encourages me to go there unofficially. Then he opposes insurmountable obstacles. And he finally says that it is not to him but to his Government that I must apply for advice. On every occasion this is the way that he acts, and it is such conduct that hits lost him all chance of getting along with Bonaparte.
 

I have the honor to be, etc.
No. 20

 



 

October 1, 1817.


 When Bonaparte learned that the Commissioners could not, even as private individuals, see him through the intermediary of Bertrand, he became so angry that nobody dared to accost him. He remained in his room for ten days, dining alone, doing nothing, very rude to his suite. Gourgaud especially suffered the worst blows and was so affected that he spoke of suicide. "The Emperor," he said to me, "is unrecognizable. When he was at the head of his armies we served him with pleasure. To-day his misfortunes have soured his mind. He is another man." Happily this storm has passed.

On September 9 there was a horse-race at Longwood. A number of people were present, and Bonaparte himself, surrounded by his companions in misery, appeared on his veranda. With Mme. Stürmer I approached to within pistol-range. As soon as he perceived us, his whole entourage, including the children, came to meet us, and showered us with compliments, in full view of the Governor, his staff, and all the by-standers, and remained with us. This circumstance is rather remarkable. I then made the acquaintance of M. de Montholon, who conversed at great length about his master's affairs. Here is a summary of what he said.

He asserted that he and Count Bertrand had no desire to shut the Emperor off from the world. "If he went out, if he saw more strangers, there would be a little variety at Longwood, and less dejection. We are drying up with melancholy. So what interest could I have in turning them away? The fact is that these gentlemen bore him. Their language and customs are intolerable to him. He prefers to be alone."

I believe M. de Montholon is right and speaks the truth.

"The Emperor desired, and still does, to take an incognito name. He would prefer that of Malmaison, or Monsieur Muiron 6 (a colonel of whom Bonaparte was fond). As soon as he had arrived at St. Helena he made the suggestion to Admiral Cockburn, and renewed it to Sir Hudson Lowe. He was always answered that it would be referred to the Ministry, and no reply has yet come. After that, if they dispute on points of etiquette, whose fault is it?"

In his note M. de Montholon declared expressly that the Emperor had decided not to take an incognito. That implies contradiction. Nevertheless the fact is true, and it has just been confirmed to me.

"The Governor is niggardly beyond belief. All the Longwood provisions are of bad quality, and in quantity are never more than the bare minimum. Often a half of them are not edible. Only this morning I had to buy a veal for the Emperor's table. We get our own money only on notes of Balcombe & Company (furnisher to Bonaparte), at £50 at a time. One day I asked for sixty and they made difficulties. At Plymouth we had 4000 napoleons. Since then the imperial silver has been taken apart v and sold at the rate of five shillings an ounce. M. de las Cases on his departure made a loan of 4000 louis in letters of exchange. We are already about at the end of it, and all this money has served only for our needs. From that you can judge both the cost of living here and the insufficiency of the £8000 allotted to the Emperor."

It is true that the meat is tough, the fowl very lean, the vegetables watery, all the provisions bad. But there are no others, and Longwood, as always, had the best procurable. There are 3000 men to feed and only two transports to carry rations. There should be at least six in order to have plenty. The story of the silverware, and of Las Cases's loan, is also true. But the Governor says that the maintenance of the household of Longwood costs more than £14,000 a year. All that I can say is that it is supplied in a niggardly way.

"The Governor is a tyrant, a jailer clothed with absolute power, who amuses himself with vexing us. What he thinks up every day to prevent an escape is simply ridiculous. If I go walking with you I cannot go off the highway; he would be frightened. How little he knows his prisoner! - the Emperor is not an adventurer, to throw himself into a skiff, to sail off, for what destination no one knows. In Cockburn's time we were free and could go anywhere. Bertrand signed approvals of permits for Longwood. What we needed was a Governor firm, conscious of his duty, but human, tactful, broader-minded than this one. England should be ashamed of her choice."

The Governor is no tyrant, merely very unreasonable. He is killing his people inch by inch. His is a weak, stubborn mentality which becomes frightened at almost nothing. In short, he is such as I have always depicted him.

"Count de las Cases was arrested, taken away, they have never said why. He used to write to a Lady Clavering, his former mistress. Perhaps he used some secret means to get through a letter and to inform her in detail of what concerned him personally. It was to no purpose whatever that the Governor made such a fuss about it, for he had never any idea of escaping.

"An Englishman from Calcutta sent the Emperor a superb chess set, ornamented with Oriental figures, and on each piece there was a French eagle of marvelous workmanship. 7 The Governor did not at first see these eagles and sent in the set. When a few days later some one called his attention to it he believed himself betrayed and ruined. And then to reassure himself he wrote immediately to Bertrand and formally protested against the sending of the set. That is simply characteristic."

The last episode is well known and is still spoken of here.

I have not failed to inform the Governor of this conversation, only toning down those parts that would offend him. He was obliged to me for my frankness, and said that Bonaparte was a spendthrift, Montholon a liar, that all his prisoners are perfectly happy. I refrained from contradicting him, but it is none the less true that his conduct toward them is a little mad, and that even the English are beginning to say so.
 

I have the honor to be, etc.
No. 21

 



 

October 14, 1817.


 I have the honor to inclose the account which Dr. O'Meara gave of the earthquake of September 21, and six bulletins from Longwood. MM. Gourgaud and Montholon have assured me that Bonaparte was suffering much, that the total lack of exercise was changing his temperament. "Why," I asked them, "does he never go out or ride horseback?" "Each time," they told me, "that Bertrand or we or any one else speak of it, he answers angrily, 'Since they want to kill me, let them, and have it over with.' "

The other day M. de Montholon hinted to Baron Stürmer that Bonaparte would like to see him as a private individual. "If he were in danger of dying," he said to Stürmer, "and had you summoned, would you come?" This question considerably embarrassed my colleague, and he avoided answering. The Governor is terribly disturbed over his prisoner's health and does not know which way to turn. The doctors prescribe horseback riding, but the patient refuses, swears that he will never stir from his room unless they cancel the present regulations and reëstablish Admiral Cockburn's. Bertrand has already obtained an extension of the limits and permission to leave the highroads and to enter private houses. I believe he will obtain the rest before long. Your Excellency will find under this cover the correspondence on the subject.
 

I have the honor to be, etc.
*   *   *

 


A letter from Dr. O'Meara, dated September 22, 1817, gives the details of three slight earthquake shocks, and it is followed by several health bulletins.
 
 


*   *   *

Copy of First Letter from Count Bertrand to Sir Hudson Lowe


 



 
 
 
 
 

September 30, 1817.


 I have informed the Emperor that you have done me the honor of coming to my house the day before yesterday, that you had told me you were disturbed about his health, and that, since it was attributed to lack of exercise, you wondered why he did not ride horseback. I have to-day the honor to repeat to you that the Emperor's existence, especially for the last six weeks, has been extremely uncomfortable; that since the month of May the Emperor has not ridden, and has rarely gone out of his apartment, and then only to visit my wife; that you know perfectly that what has prevented and still prevents the Emperor from going out is the series of restrictions of October 9, 1816, which first came into force six weeks after your arrival; that among these restrictions is the prohibition of speaking and listening to people whom he meets, and of entering any house.
 



Grand Marshal of the Palace from 1813 to Napoleon's death

(From the painting by Delaroche; autograph taken from a letter
in possession of the editor)


 










You pointed out to me that you have since canceled that part of the restrictions, which is true. But you have several times insinuated that you believe yourself authorized to reëstablish them at any moment, together with any others quite as unreasonable. New restrictions which you announced on March 14, 1817, prohibit him from leaving a highway less than twelve feet wide. The result would be that the sentinels might fire on him. The Emperor cannot give in to such ignoble treatment. Several distinguished Englishmen, either now on the island or who have been here recently, not knowing of these restrictions, reproach the Emperor for sacrificing his health by not going out, but as soon as they have been informed of the facts, they admit that no man of honor could act differently, and that in a similar situation they would not conduct themselves otherwise.

I added that if you cared to consult the officers who are in this colony, you would not find one who does not regard these restrictions as unjust, useless, and oppressive. I also had the honor to remind you that under the terms of the Act of Parliament of April 11, 1816, you have not the right to make restrictions; that the Act grants such right only to the Government, which cannot delegate it, even to one of its Ministers, certainly not to a military officer; that Lord Bathurst, in his speech in the month of March, in the House of Lords, declared that you had made no new restriction, that all his correspondence had been in favor of the prisoners, and that you had the same instructions as your predecessor; that your predecessor had adaped [sic] the Government's restrictions to the local situation in a manner, if not altogether proper, at least tolerable; that things thus went on for nine months, during which time the Emperor went out, even received English officers at his table, and had had social relations with the officers and people of the island; that this order of things was not changed by an act of your Government; that during these nine months there was no unpleasantness, and that nothing can have authorized you to substitute for such a reasonable condition that which you have established; that the Emperor would go out, would ride, and would resume his old life if you put things back as they were on your arrival; that otherwise you would be responsible for the results of the restrictions, which are the equivalent for the Emperor to an absolute prohibition of leaving his apartments.

You then informed me that the Emperor's room was too small and Longwood most unsuitable, as you had pointed out to your Government, and that the Emperor having had built last year a tent, since he had no shady alley where he could walk, you proposed to put up a wooden soldier's shed, near the house, to which the Emperor could walk. When I communicated to him your proposal, he considered it as an insult (those were his very words). If the house which he now inhabits is unsuitable, why has he been left there for two years, without discovering one situated among gardens and trees, shade and water, and why has he been left on this barren spot, exposed to all the winds that blow, without anything that can contribute to make life bearable?

The Emperor added that this soldier's cabin would be of no use to him; that it could not remedy the unhealthfulness of his room and would only give him the annoyance of having workmen around; that walking under cover could never keep up one's health like exercise in the open; that it was especially horseback riding which the doctors ordered. He considers your resolution as a death sentence on your part. He is absolutely at your disposal. You are making him die of illness. You can make him die of hunger. It would be a kindness if you had him die of a rifle-shot. The doctors will tell you that there is no time to lose, that perhaps three or four weeks will be too late, 8 and although this great Prince may be abandoned by Providence and the field left clear in Europe for calumnies and slanders, yet a cry of indignation will rise from all the peoples on earth; for there are on St. Helena several hundred people, French, English, and foreigners, who will set forth all that has been done to put an end to the life of this great man.

Always I have used this language to you, sir, with more or less emphasis. I shall speak to you of these things no longer, for arguments are futile. The question, then, is simply: Do you, or do you not, wish to kill the Emperor? If you persist in your conduct, you will have answered in the affirmative, and unhappily your aim will have probably been reached after a few months of agony.

In conclusion, permit me to answer, on behalf of the officers who are with the Emperor and of myself, your letters of the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth of July last. You little know our character. Threats have no power over us. For twenty years we have braved every danger in his service. By remaining voluntarily at St. Helena in our present horrible position, we are sacrificing to him more than our lives. Insensible to your threats and your insinuations, we shall continue to fulfil our duty, and if any complaint has been lodged against us with your Government, we do not doubt that the Prince Regent, Lord Liverpool, and so many other estimable men who are members of Your Government will know how to judge it at its true worth; they know the respect which is due our holy mission, and in the face of persecution we shall follow our device: Fais ce que dois, advievne que pourra.

I have the honor to be, etc.
 

LE Cte. BERTRAND.
Reply of the Governor

 



 

October 20, 1817.


 Having taken into consideration the objections which so strongly disincline General Bonaparte from taking any exercise on horseback within his present limits, I have the honour to signify to you for his information, that although for nearly six months after my arrival in this Island, when the whole of the space in the ravines between Longwood and the new road by Woody Ridge lay open to him, he never once rode in that direction, that he then only took exercise either within the grounds of Longwood or on the road by Woody Ridge, which embraces the whole circuit of his first limits, gives him the same extent of riding ground of nearly twelve miles as before, in the only part of the space which would be usually considered as practicable for horse exercise, unaccompanied by an officer; and finally, that the only real restraint which General Bonaparte is under from riding or walking over any other part of the Island, arises from his own predominant objection against permitting an English officer to accompany or be near him, I shall notwithstanding in deference to the perseverance of his opinion on a point where he exposes his own health by it, make such an arrangement as will throw open to him the whole of the space between Longwood and the new road, thus enabling him to traverse it on foot or on horseback in any direction he may choose.

The same latitude however I do not feel myself warranted in extending to the officers and other persons of his family (as the same motives do not apply to them), except at the time they may be in immediate personal attendance upon him.

I beg leave to request the honour of being informed, if General Bonaparte has accepted the offer I took the liberty to make to you of constructing a temporary wooden building in his garden, to supply the place of the tent which I had caused last year to be erected there.

I have, etc.
 

H. LOWE,
Lt. Genl.


 (This letter crossed Count Bertrand's.-Balmain.)
 


Second Letter of Count Bertrand to the Governor


 



 
 
 
 
 

Longwood, October 3, 1817.


 I have received yesterday at four o'clock the letter which you have done me the honor to write me under date of October 2, which crossed mine of September 30. The Emperor informs me that your letter contains restrictions more arbitrary and unjust than all the others. . . .

I have the honor to be, etc.
 

Cte. BERTRAND.
Reply of the Governor

 



 

October 4, 1817.


 Although I yesterday repaired to Longwood for the express purpose of removing those sentries who might be supposed most likely to interfere with General Bonaparte during the course of his walks or rides, yet in consequence of your letter of yesterday I have, to give a still farther proof of my desire to meet his view where an objection may be still supposed to exist against his taking the horse exercise which is represented as so necessary to his health, resolved not to insist upon the exclusion of the officers and other persons of his suite from the use of the space of ground designated in my letter of the 2nd when they are not in attendance upon him, but that the whole of the space shall be thrown open equally to them as to him so that there can in such case be no mistake of persons or any likelihood of interruption proceeding from such cause.
 

H. LOWE.
Third Letter of Count Bertrand to the Governor

 



 

October 5, 1817.


 I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your letter of October 4. Since mine of September 30, the Emperor's health has grown worse. He is feeling pain in his right side and in the shoulder, which the doctors diagnose as a beginning of the liver disease so common in this country, and which every year carries off so many people. It is, then, urgent that you should come to a decision and remove the absolute prohibition which prevents the Emperor's going out and riding horseback. Eight days have already passed in this futile correspondence.

Allow me another observation. Obliged to-day to communicate the original of your despatches, since the contents are too delicate for me to do otherwise, even for a translation, I notice that the expression "General Bonaparte" keenly distressed him. Would it be agreeable to you to conform to the text of your Bill and to call him Napoleon, as your Parliament does? Furthermore, is that not an obligation for you, and, without again disobeying that Bill, can you use a title which seems to protest against the great principles of the rights of nations? Your Bill is law, and you owe it obedience, especially when by obeying your law you spare yourself an occasion of offending.
 

Cte. BERTRAND.
No. 22

 



 

October 20, 1817.


 Bonaparte, having learned, I know not when or how, that the Governor and the Commissioners are receiving official bulletins on his health, has just forbidden Dr. O'Meara, under penalty of dismissal, to communicate any of them in the future the original of which has not been previously examined, certified, and deposited at Longwood. At the same time he vigorously reprimanded him for referring to him as General, said that it was an infamy, and became very angry. Since Dr. O'Meara is a very necessary man at St. Helena, who is used for the indirect espionage of the French, the Governor, in order not to be deprived of his services, consented to receive no more bulletins. But none the less he will be informed, daily and in detail, of everything that concerns the health of the prisoner of Europe, so it amounts to the same thing.

Your Excellency will find inclosed five large notebooks of observations made at Longwood by Bonaparte's order, on the speech delivered by Lord Bathurst in the House of Lords on March 18, 1817. They were sent to Plantation House on the seventh of this month, sealed and addressed to Lord Liverpool. I am now engaged in making marginal notes, which I shall transmit to the Imperial Ministry as soon as possible. These observations are too declamatory and lengthy; everything is exaggerated and excessive. Yet the foundation is exact. The Governor's conduct is incomprehensible. His imagination is continually burdened with the responsibility that he carries, and he spends his life doing, redoing, and undoing.
 

I have the honor to be, etc.
Observations on Lord Bathurst's Speech

 


The "Morning Chronicle" of March 19, 1817, published the text of Lord Bathurst's speech of the preceding day, and certain excerpts, without much connecting matter, are quoted in these "Observations," with comment so lengthy in some cases as to extend to fifteen or sixteen manuscript columns. Some of the more interesting of these remarks are here reproduced, others are paraphrased, and some are omitted altogether.

I approve these observations and desire that they be placed under the eyes of the Sovereign and the English people.
 

NAPOLEON.


 Longwood, October 5, 1817.

"That the Noble Lord never could discuss with a due degree of impartiality the restrictions imposed upon this prisoner, while the latter conceived restrictions of what kind soever to be inhumane and unjustifiable."

The Act of Parliament of April 11, 1816, is neither a law nor a sentence. A law decrees only generalities; the essentials of a decree are the competence of the tribunal, examination, a hearing, confrontation, and argument. This Bill is an act of proscription similar to those of Sylla and Marius, as necessary, as just, but more barbarous. But Sylla and Marius, as consuls or dictators, had an incontestable jurisdiction over the Romans. The King of England and his people neither had nor have over Napoleon. Fifteen millions of men are the oppressors in time of peace because he commanded armies against them in time of war. But Sylla and Marius signed these acts of proscription with the still bloody point of their swords in the midst of tumult and the violence of camps; the Bill of April 11 was signed in time of peace, with the seal of a great people, in the sanctuary of "law." Henceforth how can the members of the English Parliament dare to blame those who proscribed Charles I and Louis XVI? At least these princes perished with a prompt and painless death.

This Bill declares, firstly, that Napoleon will be treated as if he were a prisoner of war; secondly, that the English Government will have the right to make all the restrictions which it will judge necessary. By the first stipulation they have put this Prince under the protection of the law of nations, which, being founded on the principle of reciprocity, is not a guarantee in time of peace. The second stipulation destroys even the resemblance of the guarantee which they appear to have wished to give by the first. The English Bill, after having violated everything in order to seize the person of the Prince, then its illustrious guest, delivers him over, immediately and precipitately, to all the fury of his personal enemies, animated by the basest passions. A legislative senate which gives over an individual, no matter were he the last of the human race, to injustice, can have no self-respect and disowns its sacred character.

It is asked what need had the Ministers of being invested with the right to make restrictions if the law of nations was to be their guide? One of them answered that it was in order to be authorized to accord a more liberal treatment than was customary toward prisoners of war. The observers did not lament the change; they presented the secret views of the cabinet; they had a care for the honor of their country; events have justified and still justify daily their conjectures. This great man is dying on a rock of a death gradual enough for it to appear natural: excess of cruelty unknown among nations up to this hour. This Bill is more barbarous than if, like Sylla's, it had severed at one blow the head of the proud enemy.

The right of making restrictions was granted by the Bill to the Government, which cannot delegate it. Restrictions must have the form of an Order in Council, signed by the Prince. One Minister cannot exercise it. Yet it was thus that there were adopted the four restrictions which have already been published. They were communicated to St. Helena only partially, and verbally, some articles by writing, extracts from the correspondence of the Minister and as a simple act of his administration.

These four restrictions are: (1) Detention at St. Helena. (2) Name imposed of General Bonaparte. (3) Prohibition of going out on the rock of St. Helena unless accompanied by an officer. (4) Obligation, firstly, of writing only letters unsealed and handed to the officer charged with the command of St. Helena, secondly, of receiving only open letters, which have passed under the eyes of the Minister.

These four restrictions are contrary to the law of nations; so that it is not to make the situation of the prisoners more pleasant that the Ministers have had themselves invested with the right of making restrictions. No instance in the history of either Great Britain or France can ever be cited of prisoners of war having been sent as the place of detention to another continent and a rock isolated in the midst of the oceans. If the only object was the safe-keeping of the prisoners, castles or houses are not lacking in England, but it was the devouring climate of the tropics which was needed.

The second restriction has no more connection than the first with the security of the prisoners; it has the effect of aggravating the position of the Prince. Prisoners of war when they fall into the hands of the enemy are recognized by the title which they bore in their country. "But the Bourbons have not ceased to reign in France; the republic and the fourth dynasty were not legitimate governments." On what are based these new principles? If the English Government maintains that the Bourbons were reigning in France at the time of the Peace of Amiens in 1802, it must recognize that Cardinal York reigned in England at the Treaty of Paris in 1783, that Charles XIII does not reign in Sweden. To consecrate these principles is to spread disorder among all monarchies, to propagate germs of revolution among all nations.

It was well known that the Emperor would never make use of the permission contained in the third restriction, so that it must have been anticipated that he would not go out of an unhealthy house. What connection can this restriction have with security, on a steep rock 600 leagues away from any continent, around which cruise several brigs, where there is only one anchorage, and the whole circumference of which can be covered by ten or twelve posts of infantry? It was also known that in order not to submit to the humiliation prescribed in this fourth restriction he would receive and write no letter. It is only possible to exchange letters between Europe and this far distant island at the most twice a year. How can such a correspondence react on the tranquillity of Europe? But it removes all moral comfort; it is to the soul what the climate of this frightful country is to the body. The end desired is being attained in two directions at once.

The officer commanding at St. Helena can in theory be charged only with the execution of the restrictions; but in practice it is not so. He makes, unmakes, and remakes, alone, regulations and restrictions, fantastically, suddenly, illegally. No limit has been found to his arbitrariness, no resource against his passion, his caprice, and the folly of a single man; there is no council, no magistrate, no lawyer, no public opinion on this rock.

Does the Minister believe it is impossible that an officer appointed to the command of St. Helena should abuse his power? But when he chose him ad hoc, and among men of a character known by their preceding missions, is it not probable that he should abuse it? And when he told him, "If the prisoner escapes, your honor and your fortune are lost," does that not insure abuses? A jailer in Europe cannot impose even on criminals restrictions according to the extent of his alarm, his caprice, or his passion; the matter must be referred to magistrates. . . .

When they cleverly desired to conceal the real object in their minds in choosing St. Helena, they alleged: It is in order that the prisoners may enjoy more liberty. But it is quite apparent, from the restrictions, the instructions given, and the man chosen, that the real object was to prevent the cries of agony from reaching the Prince and the English people. They feared the indignation of those generous men 9 who have still some influence on the opinion of European nations.

Lord Bathurst in this speech states two things: (1) that Sir Hudson Lowe has taken only measures of execution; (2) that all the Government's communications to St. Helena have been to the advantage of the prisoners. These two assertions are equally false. See Annex A, which incloses eight or nine new restrictions that would be considered dishonoring at Botany Bay. Only a few items of the Minister's correspondence are known; one letter, communicated in October by the chief of staff of the commandant, was full of improper expressions. It was ordered immediately to take three of the twelve servants who had followed Napoleon to St. Helena and to send them to the Cape of Good Hope. Accordingly Captain Piontowski and three servants were sent to the Cape. It is hinted that in turn all the French servants would have the same fate and that the only ones left with the Emperor would be those chosen by the commandant. It cannot be said that these servants gave cause for complaint, because they were not designated by name.

"That he had not received letters from his relations and friends in Europe, and that it was impossible for him to receive them. This was not true."

To whom does this apply? Count Montholon has not complained, nor will he, about Napoleon's receiving no letters, since the latter has stated that he would receive no unsealed letter.

"As might be inferred from a letter of Sir George Cockburn to him."

There was not, and cannot be, any correspondence between Napoleon and the officers of the English Government, since they cannot agree on the title.

"He did not know how he could discharge his duty if he did not make himself acquainted with the nature of such communications."

The commandant of this country has been asked for an assurance that a letter to the sovereign would be sent to England unsealed. If the King of England could receive only such letters as the Ministers had previously read, England was assuredly no longer a monarchy. At Venice, Ragusa, Lucca, the doges or the gonfalonieri were never submitted to such humiliation. It is probable that if a Minister should open a letter addressed to the Prince without previous authorization, the Prince would remove all confidence from him; the English constitution has never impressed such a blemish on the crown of Edward or Elizabeth. The entire nation would have been branded. If ministers are responsible to legislature, kings are responsible to God and their people. Ministers are not responsible for what the prince knows, learns, or reads, but for the orders which he gives and the measures which he takes.

"On the knowledge that attempts had been made through the medium of newspapers to hold communications with Napoleon."

Napoleon has never asked anything. On arriving at Madeira, Count Bertrand asked if they would be able to find French books, of which they had very few. He made out a list of books and asked to have it sent to a bookseller in London or Paris. Admiral Cockburn said he would take care of it. And in fact, in June, 1816, boxes of books were received, without a catalogue, without explanation. When it was perceived that there was no contemporary book, that they had even stopped the set of the "Moniteur" at 1808, Count Montholon judged proper to point out these facts for the purpose of knowing whether it was a new restriction. What shows that this new restriction has nothing novel about it, is the avowal that no papers can be sent to Longwood which are really wanted there, because - "attempts had been made," etc. What a chimera! How can they imagine that at 2000 leagues from Europe, receiving papers so rarely, correspondence can be carried on through them? But are newspapers printed at St. Helena?

It was on such pretexts that the jailers of the Inquisition and the Council of Ten at Venice used to forbid not only journals and books but even paper, ink, and light.

"The next complaint was, that he was not allowed to open a correspondence with a bookseller. Now this was not true."

The correspondence with a bookseller could be carried on by unsealed letters. The officers correspond daily in that way with their families. But it is easy to conceive that if the "Morning Chronicle" or the "Edinburgh Review" can occasion a correspondence extremely dangerous to the safety of England, the correspondence with a bookseller is dangerous in another way. Since this dealer sends three or four hundred volumes at once, it would be necessary to go through each one, and even then are there not sympathetic ink and secret alphabets? Hence books sent by their authors, well known in London, have been held back at St. Helena. [The episode of the botanist is then described.] Count de las Cases, taken away violently from Longwood in November, 1816, was held incomunicado for a month, before being sent to the Cape. Before he left the Emperor desired to see him. But the Count could receive communications which might upset Europe. At the Cape of Good Hope he had to wait several months for permission to go to Europe. He has been there for six months, and there is no indication as yet of his return.

"Who had ever heard of an affectionate draft on a banking house, or an enthusiastic order for a sale of stock?"

Where was it said that he could not even correspond with his banker or agent? Count Montholon in a letter which called forth this speech said just the opposite, and effectively answers the feeble witticism of the noble lord. He says, "I have had the honor to tell you that the Emperor had no money."

"That the letters sent by General Bonaparte or persons of his suite were read by subaltern officers. This was not true."

The respect due to private correspondence has not been shown. The Minister himself acknowledges as much when he says in the face of Europe that Prince Joseph was the only one who has written the Emperor; and even that was not true. . . .

[The observations are especially vehement regarding the treatment of letters and packages. Bathurst rejects with indignation the idea that letters for St. Helena had been sent back to London.]

But he is indignant at the execution of his own orders; they are positive: "No letter that comes to St. Helena except through the Secretary of State must be communicated to the General or his attendants, if it be written by a person not residing in the island." The commandant has, then, had to send back letters which did not arrive by that route, and if he had not done so he would have gone counter to his instructions. A few days ago, when he handed to Count Bertrand a case containing educational books and some children's things which Lady Holland had sent to Countess Bertrand, he first declared that this case had been addressed to him directly, that it had not passed through the office of the Secretary of State, but that he was nevertheless sending it on. If it was necessary to cite the number of letters, books, and other things which have not been handed over, on the ground of that article of the instructions, you would see that this has taken place very often. Yet it is true, as in the case just mentioned, that the commandant has taken it on himself to use his discretion, but simply according to whim, which is the worst of all.

"The complaint that all intercourse with the inhabitants was prevented was untrue."

Communication with people of the island was carried on for the first nine months but has lately ceased entirely. People who have requested passes have been submitted to two humiliations - the necessity of giving information as to (1) what was said and done and (2) their purpose in going to Longwood.

"The additional restraints had been imposed because it was found Bonaparte was tampering with the inhabitants."

This allegation is disposed of chiefly by a reminder that since May, 1816, Napoleon had not gone out.

[Complaints about the condition of the Longwood house occupy many pages; and the reply to the recriminations about Napoleon's private finances is very bitter. Bathurst calls attention to Napoleon's fortune, which he hints might be drawn upon if necessary to supplement the government allowance.]

Would you know what this great treasure is? It is known of every one. It consists of: the great harbor of Antwerp; that of Flushing, capable of sheltering the largest war-ships . . . [followed by a rhetorical and detailed enumeration, occupying nine columns, of the tremendous improvements in the aspect of Europe, from one end to the other, not only physical but cultural, which were due solely to his initiative]. All that constitutes a treasury of several billions which will exist for centuries and will forever confound calumny. History's verdict will be that it was in the midst of great wars, by means of no loan but on the contrary while lessening the public debt and reducing it to less than fifty millions, that all this was accomplished.

[Many more columns are devoted to analogies between the treatment of prisoners in all ages and countries with the barbarity practised here.]

[In connection with the complaints about finances, it would be appropriate to quote Annex F, which is a letter from Lowe to Montholon, August 17, 1816. The other annexes are with one exception omitted as not being of sufficient general importance.]
 
 



Annex F


 










In pursuance of the conversations I have already had with you on the subject of the expenses of the establishment at Longwood, I do myself the honour to acquaint you that having used all efforts to effect a reduction in them without diminishing in any very sensible manner from the convenience or comfort of General Bonaparte or any of the families or individuals that form his suite (in which operation I am happy to acknowledge the spirit of concert with which you have assisted), I am now enabled to transmit to you for General Bonaparte's information two statements furnishing sufficiently precise data, whereon to found a calculation of the probable annual expense, should matters continue on the same footing as at present established.

The statement No. 1 has been furnished me by Mr. Ibbetson, head of the commissariat department in this island. 10 The latter has been framed by my military secretary.

The instructions I have received from the British Government oblige me to limit the expenditure of General Bonaparte's establishment to £8000 per annum. They give me liberty at the same time to admit of any further expense being incurred, which he may require, as to table and so forth, beyond what this sum would cover, provided he furnishes the funds whereby the surplus charge may be defrayed.

I am now therefore under the necessity of requesting you would make known to him the impossibility I am under of bringing the expenses of his household on its present establishment in point of numbers, within the limits prescribed, unless I make such a reduction under several heads as might materially abridge from the conveniences which the persons around him enjoy; and having been already very frankly informed by him as well as by yourself that he has at his disposal in various parts of Europe means whereby the extra or even the whole expense may be defrayed w I beg leave to request being informed, previous to attempting any further considerable reduction which might prove inconvenient to him or to the persons of his suite, if he be content such an attempt should be made, or if he be willing to place at my command sufficient funds to meet the extra charges which must otherwise be unavoidably incurred.
 

H. Lowe,
Lt. General.


 Commissary Ibbetson's statement, "showing the probable annual expenditure on account of General Bonaparte and suite," amounts to a total of £19,152, 2s. 7d. The largest single item is £11,700, "supplied from government stores sent from England by Mr. Balcombe, purveyor. . . . Wines, claret, grave, champagne, madeira, house and table expenses." Not included in this budget is "salary to Surgeon O'Meara, attached to Gl. Bonaparte and suite, not yet defined."
 


*   *   *

Annex H

Letter from Napoleon to Count de las Cases


 






This letter, relating occurrences which were only too painfully familiar to its recipient, seems to be clearly intended for political effect, but as letters dictated by the Emperor himself from St. Helena are not numerous, in this collection and in fact do not exist in any great number, it seems worth while to include it.
 
 


*   *   *


 



 
 
 
 
 

December 11, 1816.


 My heart goes out to you in what you are experiencing. Torn from my side two weeks ago, you have been kept in secrecy since that time, without my being able to give or to receive any news, without your being able to communicate with any one either French or English, deprived even of a servant of your choosing.

Your conduct at St. Helena has been like your entire life, honorable and without reproach.

Your letter to your friend at London is not blameworthy; you unbosomed yourself in the intimacy of friendship. That letter is not unlike eight or ten others which you have written the same person and which you sent unsealed. The commandant, having had the delicacy to spy on the expressions which you confided to friendship, has reproached you for them, and recently has threatened to send you from the island if your letters contained further complaints against him. Thus he has gone counter to the first duty of his situation, the first article of his instructions, and the first sentiment of honor. Consequently he has by implication authorized you to seek means of inspiring your friends with your sentiments and of informing them of the culpable conduct of this commandant. But you were naïve, it was easy to take advantage of your confidence.

They were seeking a pretext to seize your papers, but your letter to your friend could not have authorized a police raid on your rooms, since it contains no plot or mystery, being merely the expression of a noble and candid spirit. The illegal and precipitate conduct of which they were guilty in this house bears the trace of a personal hatred which is very vile.

In countries less civilized, exiles, prisoners, even criminals, are under the protection of laws and magistrates; those set over them are important administrative and judicial officials. On this rock the man who makes the most absurd regulations, and executes them with cruelty, violates all laws, and no one knows the limits of his passion.

Longwood is surrounded with a mystery which they would like to make impenetrable, in order to hide this criminal conduct. By means of rumors cleverly spread about, they seek to mislead officers, travelers, inhabitants, even the agents whom it is said Austria and Russia are maintaining on this island; no doubt they are even deceiving the English Government by these adroit and lying tales.

With ferocious joy they seized your papers (among which it was known were several that belonged to me), without any formality, in the room next mine. I was advised of it a few moments afterwards; I leaned out of my window and saw that they were taking you away; a large number of officers were prancing around the house; and it reminded me of nothing so much as South Sea islanders dancing around the prisoners whom they were about to devour.

Your company was essential to me. You alone speak, read, and understand English. Nevertheless I beseech you, and if necessary order you, to require the commandant to send you to the Continent. He cannot refuse, since he has as his only hold over you the voluntary act which you signed. It will be for me a great comfort to know that you are on the road to more fortunate countries. When you arrive in Europe, whether you go to England or return to the fatherland, forget the memory of the evils which they have inflicted on you; extol the fidelity which you have shown me and all the affection which I bear you.

If some day you see my wife and son, embrace them; for two years I have had no news of them, either direct or indirect. There has been here for six months a German botanist who saw them in the gardens of Schönbrunn a few months before his departure; the barbarians have carefully prevented him from coming to give me news of them.

My body is in the power of my enemies' hatred; they neglect nothing of what can gratify their vengeance, they are killing me by inches. But the unhealthfulness of this devouring climate and the lack of everything that can keep up life will soon, I feel, put an end to this existence, the very last moments of which will be an act of opprobrium for the English character, and some day Europe will point out with horror this astute and evil man. Real Englishmen will disavow him as a Briton.

As everything leads me to think that you will not be allowed to see me before your departure, receive my embraces, the assurance of my esteem and my friendship. Be happy!
 

NAPOLEON.
*    *    *

 


Every report from now on transmits a bulletin on Napoleon's health.
 
 



*    *    *

No. 23


 



 
 
 
 
 

November 2, 1817.


 I have the honor to transmit to your Excellency a bulletin from Longwood signed by Baxter, 11 Inspector-General of Hospitals. Since the fourteenth of last month Dr. O'Meara has not dared to issue any bulletin. Bonaparte is most obstinate in forbidding him to do so. But the two doctors have been ordered to confer on the state of his health, and Baxter makes the report to the Governor.

General Gourgaud, whom I saw this morning, assured me that Bonaparte was becoming melancholy and was gradually falling into a complete apathy. "He works no longer on his history. He has given up everything and does nothing but idle. For five weeks he has been dining alone, lives constantly alone, and talks only of his death. Yesterday he painted us a picture of his misery which wrung my heart. I could scarcely keep back my tears."

I have also seen Count Montholon, who said the same thing. "Why do you not come to Longwood to lighten our burden a little? The Emperor strongly praised your conduct during the first year. It was prudent. Not knowing the terrain, nor the people, you could not have done better than to temporize. But after all the advances he has made to you, you have carried your reserve too far. Have they told you to avoid him, or do you depend entirely on the whims of the Governor? The Emperor charges me to tell you that if he were your sovereign he would disapprove, for nothing can prevent you from being courteous."

I said nothing.

"Longwood," he resumed smiling, "complains of your indifference but holds no grudge against you for it. They will always receive you with open arms, as well as M. and Mme. Stürmer and Captain de Gors. As for M. de Montchenu, we will have none of him. He retails ridiculous stories about us and fills the newspapers with them. The Emperor feels insulted by him and refuses to see him, not as an émigré, a subject of Louis XVIII, but as a culumniator."
 

I have the honor to be, etc.


 P.S. The last trunk from London brought us a pamphlet entitled "Manuscrit Venu de St. Hé1ène d'une Manière Inconnue." 12 As it is attracting great attention in Europe and throws much light on past events, I am trying to discover its author. M. de Montholon declared to me positively that it did not come from Longwood. In fact this work, being filled with anachronisms, cannot emanate from Count de las Cases. On reading it Bonaparte said, "It is not by me, but by some one who knows me well." That is all I know of it at present.
 


No. 24


 



 
 
 
 
 

November 10, 1817.


 I have received the letter which your Excellency has done me the honor to send me, dated St. Petersburg, April 5 last. The salary which the Emperor deigns to grant me is quite sufficient for my needs. With £2000 a year, and an allowance of £1600, I have enough to pay my debts and live quite decently. Be willing, Monsieur le Comte, to lay at his Majesty's feet the homage of my gratitude. I am deeply sensitive of the value of his benefits and aspire only to the happiness of pleasing him, of deserving his approval, and of being useful to the service. But, I cannot repeat too often, my position in that respect is very embarrassing. The English Government, or rather the Governor, is decidedly opposed to my being presented to Bonaparte. They are even alarmed at my meeting people at Longwood. In short, they do not wish me to see things close up, because national vanity would suffer. Being thus harassed, watched over on all sides, drawn forward by the French and kept back by the English, I am managing as well as possible between these two opposites, and scarcely dare to move.

My health continues bad. I suffer much from nerves, and this climate weakens them. St. Helena is really unhealthy. The doctors are not of the opinion that I should stay twenty months longer. But I submit without murmur to the Emperor's will and am ready to sacrifice my life to him.
 

I have the honor to be, etc.

St. Helena, November 17, 1817.


 I have the honor to inform your Excellency that Napoleon Bonaparte suffered a good deal from Toothack on the night of the 15th instant, and in consequence was at last induced to permit Mr. O'Meara to extract the dent sapientie of the right side of the upper jaw. This is the first surgical operation that has ever been performed upon his body. The tooth was carrious in two places. In other respects his health continues much the same as in my last report.
 

I have, etc.
ALEX BAXTER,
D. G. of Hos.
True Copy.
   H. LOWE.

No. 27


 



 
 
 
 
 

December 13, 1817.


 I have the honor to send two bulletins from Longwood.

Bonaparte's liver is seriously affected, and his health is visibly deteriorating. The devouring air of the tropics, his excessive leisure, are altering his blood and his temperament. At night he does not sleep. In the daytime he is torpid. His complexion is livid, his eyes sunken. His condition excites pity. Dr. O'Meara told me confidentially that he did not give him more than two years of life. Only exercise can bring him back. But he will take none, I am willing to guess, as long as Sir Hudson Lowe will be Governor of St. Helena.
 

I have the honor to be, etc.
No. 28

 



 

December 31, 1817.


 The last few days Bonaparte has spoken only of our August Master. He has told Mme. Bertrand some stories of the interview of Tilsit, of the lovely Queen of Prussia, and other similar anecdotes. He seems to like the Emperor and says often; "I was very foolish not to go to Russia. I shall repent of it eternally." He is angry that I cannot see him, for he is disposed to place confidence in me and to communicate to me some very interesting things. One day he wanted to give me his version of the battle of Waterloo. They had already made a copy for me. But whether he feared to alarm the Governor or whether he suddenly changed his mind, as often happens, he shut up the original and the copy in his desk and spoke no more of it.

There is a serious misunderstanding between Sir Hudson Lowe and Dr. O'Meara. The latter, disgusted with the Governor's undue sensitiveness and instability, has ceased to see him, and informs him no longer of what is happening at Longwood. The Governor asked him the reason, and, as is often the case, used threats. The other answered shortly that he was a doctor, not a spy. I have all this from Dr. O'Meara himself. "Sir Hudson Lowe," he told me, "does not walk straightly or sincerely. One can have nothing to do with him, for one is never sure of what he says or writes."

I was anxious to transmit this opinion to you because this testimony of an Englishman, and of an Englishman who is in a position to see everything, and whom nothing seems to escape, could not be suspect, and is more convincing than mine.
 

I have the honor to be, etc.
*    *    *

 


From now on O'Meara and his intrigues play a very important rôle in these reports, and it is most interesting, and a little amusing, to watch Balmain's gradual change of attitude toward him.

Barry O'Meara was well bred and well educated. He was hardly thirty years old when he first entered Napoleon's service, and that helps to explain him and to introduce the two motives which, at least in the beginning, were the compelling ones: curiosity and ambition. His position was a false one from the start. Napoleon wished this young man, constantly in attendance upon him and dependent on his generosity, to do for him many things which his followers could not do because they were not free to come and go. To be sure, they were not very serious errands - the carrying of newspapers and letters, for instance - but they were prohibited things. To some extent the young doctor also saved the governor's face, since he could watch Napoleon's actions without seeming to do so and hence hurting his feelings. The fact that he was mutually useful in this way is shown by the regulation drawn up after his departure requiring Napoleon to show himself to the orderly officer twice daily. But all that was hardly the duty of a physician.
 
 



DR. BARRY O'MEARA

Napoleon's physician from the beginning of the voyage to
St. Helena until July 25, 1818


 










Things might have gone on thus until the end had not O'Meara begun his correspondence with John Finlaison, an old friend of his who was keeper of the records at the Admiralty in London. Who could have supposed such letters to remain "confidential"? When Finlaison asked if he might show this fascinating and important correspondence to the Admiralty, O'Meara consented, thinking, perhaps sincerely, that the lords of the Admiralty would be glad to have confidential information of an unofficial character, but incidentally hoping that his superior officers would be thereby impressed with the merits of the writer. Loyal to neither Lowe nor Napoleon, he finally came to the conclusion that his ambition required preference to be given to the fallen hero. Says Gonnard, "His was a concentrated, violent nature, capable of deep hatred." He seems for some time to have won Balmain over rather completely, and the Russian allowed himself to be persuaded that the Longwood news had only been given to Lowe as a topic of conversation and that O'Meara had always behaved in a perfectly straightforward manner.
 
 


A Fantastic Project of Escape


 






The question as to whether escape was ever possible for Napoleon comes up seldom in connection with these reports. Balmain during his entire sojourn seems to have heard of only one plan actually concocted, that of Colonel Latapie. A search through the St. Helena literature would, of course, produce vast quantities of talk and rumor but hardly any project which got even so far as this one.

Was escape possible? One has only to read the accounts in these reports of the infinite precautions taken by Lowe to answer in the negative. 13 Many authorities believe that, even if it were possible, it would not have been attempted. A vessel of large size would have been immediately detected and could not have withstood the cruisers on permanent guard around the island. However, as Norwood Young points out, a whaler or small merchant vessel (or a dinghy from a ship lying to at a great distance, provided the weather were foggy) might possibly have approached the shore at night unobserved, and Napoleon could, with a little luck, have got down to the beach. If no vessel was then at hand he might have found a cave, or a rock, for concealment until a boat put in. The vessel would have had to evade the cruisers and arrive at the designated point precisely at the time appointed.

What then, if he succeeded; and what if he failed? He said to O'Meara: "Where could I go? Everywhere I should find enemies to seize me." If the world still feared Napoleon, he was hardly in less terror of the world. And in case of failure he was fully convinced that he would be shot. His indifference to escape was not, however, realized until the time when his health began definitely to fail.
 




1.  The hair was really that of the King of Rome. Return to paragraph text.


2.  Stürmer, although beyond doubt blameworthy in this affair, was in a position of rather peculiar difficulty. Many believed that he came to St. Helena with secret instructions to arrange a reconciliation between Napoleon and his father-in-law. These suspicions were strengthened when it was found that he brought with him an emissary from the imperial gardens at Schönbrunn, on a pretended botanical expedition. That the Emperor Francis had sent a man all the way from Vienna simply to collect plants was not believed. When it was learned that the botanist had been intrusted with a lock of the hair of Napoleon's son, which he had succeeded in passing to Napoleon without the governor's knowledge, an Austrian conspiracy seemed to be proved.

"It was on account of affairs of this kind," says Norwood Young, "that Sir Hudson Lowe, who had in fact been the only upright and honourable man of all concerned, was handed down to future generations as a heartless and cruel jailer. Stürmer was guilty of underhand conduct, and, being found out by Lowe, he turned on that official and abused him in reports which have obtained a certain amount of credence. The result is that while every person concerned was worthy of censure except Lowe, he alone has had to carry the stigma of disgrace."

The conduct of Stürmer naturally affected the prestige of the commissioners as a body, and was one of the chief reasons given later for his recall. Return to paragraph text.



3.  Quoted by Balmain in English.  Return to paragraph text.


4.  Excellently, perhaps, but with a terrible diffuseness. Seaton says he was not a good letter-writer. His sentences are long and involved, as inspection of such of them as are quoted in this volume will show. Where there is a difference of opinion, correspondence only aggravates a dispute instead of allaying it, unless there is very good will on both sides. Napoleon's determination to hold no personal intercourse with the governor necessitated a voluminous correspondence, which in itself would have been formidable enough, but which created additional trouble when couched in the rhetorical and diplomatic style affected by the exiles. The French were delighted to have the opportunity of this correspondence. It gave them something to do, and something in which the chances were they could come off best. To all who would look they showed their letters and the governor's replies with great gusto, while Lowe kept his correspondence secret and brooded over it.  Return to paragraph text.


5.  Rear-Admiral Robert Plampin (1762-1834) was commander of the St. Helena and Cape of Good Hope stations from July, 1817, to July, 1820. He had lived for some time in France and had thus acquired proficiency in the language; in 1793 he served in Toulon as aide-de-camp to Lord Hood, until the end of the siege of that town. He saw much service in the Far East, and was in the Mediterranean for some years toward the end of the war.

While in command of St. Helena, Plampin played a noteworthy part in the arrangements made for the safe custody of Napoleon, and throughout he was a firm supporter of Lowe's policy. He lived at the Briars, and was repeatedly singled out as the subject of the Rev. Mr. Boys' sermons. The reason for this attitude will be evident from the following extract from the autobiography (in manuscript) of Dr. Stokoe, printed for the first time in Chaplin's "St. Helena Who's Who": "On the Admiral's first visit to Plantation House he was not accompanied by his lady. This excited the surprise of Lady Lowe, and inquiry was immediately set on foot among the officers of the flag-ship to ascertain if the Admiral was a married man. No satisfactory information being obtained on that head, it was reported that the Admiral would soon be recalled and his lady immediately sent off the island. He was even preached at from the pulpit. However, he soon found means to make his peace with the Governor, and the preaching was discontinued ‘by order.'" He showed no sympathy with Bonaparte's fate and always spoke of him in the most disparaging terms. His attitude toward Dr. Stokoe was unduly harsh, and it was largely owing to the Admiral's attitude at the court-martial that Stokoe was dismissed from the navy. Plampin had two interviews with Napoleon, on July 3 and September 5, 1817. The conversation turned upon the amount of water carried on board ship, and the experiences of the Admiral when cruising off Toulon. It is needless to add that the Emperor's opinion of Plampin was no more favorable than the Admiral's concerning him.  Return to paragraph text.



6.  Colonel Muiron had been killed at Napoleon's side in the battle of Arcola.  Return to paragraph text.


7.  This was a present from the Hon. John Elphinstone, and was of a somewhat different character from similar gifts sent from time to time by members of the Opposition in that it was partly a mark of gratitude to the Emperor for having saved the life of the donor's brother, who had been severely wounded and made a prisoner on the day before Waterloo. In sending the chessmen, marked with eagles, N., and a crown, Elphinstone's purpose, of course, was to draw attention to the title without actually transgressing the rule against mentioning it. Lowe's letter to Bertrand, mentioned by Balmain, said that if he were to act in strict conformity with the established rules he ought to delay sending the pieces, but that, as he had promised that the boxes should follow the letter, he had no alternative but to forward them. The good-will of Lowe is evident enough in this letter, but the last sentence is expressed with that ungraciousness which often justified the title of boor. "Sir Hudson Lowe is a very good man with very disagreeable manners, or, to put it better, knowing very little of those of society; but loyal and full of honor. As Governor he is an unbearable man, who displeases and must displease every one." So wrote, at about this time, Montchenu in a letter to the Marquis d'Osmond, French ambassador at London, as quoted in the Report on the Bathurst Manuscripts (London, 1923).  Return to paragraph text.


8.  Les officiers de santé vous diront qu'il n'y a plus de tems à perdre, que dans 3 ou 4 semaines peut-être, il ne sera plus tems.  Return to paragraph text.


9.  Prominent Whigs such as Elphinstone, Holland, Sir Robert Wilson, the Duke of Bedford, and J. C. Hobhouse.  Return to paragraph text.


10.  Denzil Ibbetson (1788-1857) entered the commissariat department of the army as clerk in 1808, and went through the Peninsular Campaign. In 1814 he was promoted assistant commissary-general and was ordered to St. Helena in 1815. He sailed on board the Northumberland with Napoleon and remained on the island until 1823. He thus has the distinction of being one of the four British officers who remained in St. Helena during the whole period of the captivity. For the first three years of his stay Ibbetson had little to do with Longwood, for the purveyorship was in the hands of Balcombe, Fowler & Company; but after the departure of Balcombe Ibbetson assumed charge, and apparently performed his duties to Lowe's satisfaction, for the latter wrote a highly eulogistic letter afterward. He was an amateur artist of no small skill, and both on board ship and on the island made many sketches of Napoleon and his followers. For a fuller account of one of the most interesting of the British officers during the captivity, see the article by A. M. Broadley in the "Century Magazine," April, 1912.  Return to paragraph text.


11.  Dr. Alexander Baxter (1777-1841) had first come into contact with Lowe when he was appointed surgeon to the Royal Corsican Rangers in 1805, and was present with him at the surrender of Capri in 1808. He saw considerable active service extending from 1799 to 1814. In the latter year he served with the troops in America and was present at the battle of Bladensburg. At the request of Lowe he was next appointed deputy inspector of hospitals in St. Helena and arrived with the Governor in April, 1816. He remained on the island until 1819, and during all that time, especially after O'Meara's removal from Longwood, played a most important part in the difficult situations which arose regarding medical attendance on the Emperor.  Return to paragraph text.


12.  The recent (1924) publication in New York of a new translation of this manuscript has again attracted attention to an implied attempt to fasten its authorship on Napoleon. The Emperor himself first saw the published book (originally published simultaneously in French and English by Murray in April, 1817) when it was shown him by Montholon in September of that year, and his only connection with it seems to have been the forty-four criticisms which he thereupon wrote. After several of the St. Helena exiles had been taxed with the authorship, other and greater writers, e.g., Constant, Mme. de Staël, were accused; but it is now generally agreed that the author was Lullin de Chateauvieux (1772-1841), and the copy in the Library of Congress is attributed to this little known Swiss philosopher. "A keen observer and a fine mind, he followed closely the intricate political movements of the time, into which his manifold relations with the leaders who played the principal rôles permitted him to pin a wonderful insight. He was therefore well equipped for venturing the tour de force of writing the exile's professed own apology of his life, the exposition of his projects and views, and above all to give expression to his contempt for the human species. But . . . it was not long before numerous anachronisms and opinions which could not possibly have belonged to the Emperor were being demonstrated by competent critics." - Charles Martel, in the "American Historical Review," January, 1925. Napoleon specifically disavowed the manuscript in his will.  Return to paragraph text.


13.  However, see report No. 10 of 1816 (p. 65).  When you are finished reading Report No. 10 of 1816, click on your browsers Back button to return here.  Return to paragraph text.


a.  Previously to coming to table, the guest makes a profound inclination of the body, or actual prostration, according to the rank of the host. [Note accompanying the translation.]  Return to paragraph text.


b.  This by him was not in my note, and entirely changes its purport. I ask to make the customary visit to Count Bertrand. But I beg the Governor to accompany me there, and leave entirely to him the care of arranging the affair. I desire only one thing; that is to be announced as Lieutenant-Colonel Count Balmain, and not as Commissioner from Russia. The rest is indifferent to me. If I neglected to state that precisely, it is because I have explained it to him previously, more than once, and that my application is not official.  Return to paragraph text.


c.  This observation is out of place. I have said so to him myself a hundred times, and every one at St. Helena knows my thought on the subject. Recently, when Gourgaud suggested that I pay a visit to Bertrand, I replied that "it was not possible to see the 'Grand Marshal,' since there is no court at Longwood. But whenever possible I should with great pleasure see Count Bertrand, the friend of Napoleon." Return to paragraph text.


d.  The Governor was presented at Longwood by Admiral Cockburn, Admiral Malcolm by the Governor, and so on, each by his predecessor or by his chief. But it is Count Bertrand who announced and introduced all these gentlemen to Bonaparte. None of them could have avoided Bertrand as an intermediary, and I wanted to do the same. The thing seemed to me so natural.  Return to paragraph text.


e.  This has to do with the orders received by the Austrian and French Commissioners not to insist on seeing Bonaparte personally, but to content themselves with informal means of satisfying themselves of his existence. On account of that, he believes himself obliged to write me a semi-official letter. I do not see the reason of it. Return to paragraph text.


f.  Despite this fine reasoning, it was to Montholon that he addressed the note of the Commissioners relative to the trial. So, then, he has recognized some one near Bonaparte; and himself, in a serious and highly official affair, chose that channel of introduction or communication of which he speaks. "MM. Stürmer and Montchenu," he said to me then, "want me to exhibit that man to the people like a bear on a chain. I tell you that I, I who am speaking to you, have not been able to see him in my capacity of Governor."  Return to paragraph text.


g.  He does not make a single movement which is not spied upon. He does not say a word which is not reported. He rarely goes out of his house and never out of his inclosure. He writes to no one. He is surrounded with guards, cannon, and ditches. How, then, could he make himself independent? You can reproach him for detesting the Governor. But that does not prevent any of the English, even the officials, from going to Longwood. From the highest officers down to the humblest inhabitant of the island, everybody has been there. Only the Commissioners of the Allied Powers have been excluded, and that is most humiliating.  Return to paragraph text.


h.  I affirm in all good faith that I did not believe I had any official relation toward a prisoner. Furthermore, I wanted to be presented at Longwood like Admiral Malcolm, a number of generals and officers, the Governor himself; and it was my right.  Return to paragraph text.


i.  The day following his arrival at St. Helena Lord Amherst went to Count Bertrand. Bonaparte had his door refused to him under pretext of indisposition, and the same day received a captain of the India Company. Two days afterward he asked to see his Lordship and gave him a most friendly welcome.  Return to paragraph text.


j.  I have also trusted to his discretion. Return to paragraph text.


k.  Any other arrangement is unheard of up to now. it is a false allegation.  Return to paragraph text.


l.  Always it is to count Bertrand that he addresses himself.  Return to paragraph text.


m.  Despite his explanation at Longwood, he found means, through Bertrand, to arrange this affair. A day was fixed for the officers of the Sixty-sixth Regiment. But those of the Newcastle having arrived at the same hour, his were sent back and the navy entered. it was thus that the Sixty-sixth saw neither Bertrand nor Bonaparte. I have this from an eye-witness.  Return to paragraph text.


n.  His own visits are rare because they are not desired. But Admiral Malcolm made them whenever he felt inclined. Return to paragraph text.


o.  Here is the fact. I go out one day on horseback and near Longwood meet General Gourgaud. He offers to go with me, and we spend twenty minutes together talking of this and that. This is the only time since my arrival that I have seen him without company. The next day Admiral Malcolm secretly warns me that the Governor, disturbed at this tête-à-tête, wished to have further information. Not having failed in my duty in any manner, I am quite willing to face him. But he changes his mind and does not trouble me. A few days afterward I meet General Gourgaud again. I pretend not to see him and take another road. He joins me at a gallop. I stop a moment to greet him and answer his civilities. Then I leave him rather quickly. The Governor, alarmed at these two meetings, finally decides to speak to me about them. I tell him of the occurrences as they happened. He thanks me for my frankness, apologizes for having dared to importune me, and even starts in his effusion and embarrassment to tell me of the Las Cases affair. But then he suddenly breaks off and disappears. The affair remains thus.  Return to paragraph