(1) Napoleon, after having promised to live in his new house as soon as he had the keys, declared suddenly that it was badly arranged, improperly located, and uninhabitable.
(2) He had several official notes written to the Governor, very imperious, and forbade the French to sign them. They were all returned to him.
(3) He called upon him imperiously to return to him a family portrait, which, having arrived at St. Helena under a false address, had been intercepted last October. This portrait was immediately sent him.
(4) He protested, in insulting terms, against the seizure of the letters from Balcombe, and desired that all this banker's accounts at Longwood should be settled without further delay.
(5) On the night of the sixteenth of this month, having experienced a violent headache and vertigo, he had Mr. Stokoe called, who ordered loss of blood, a hot bath, and a dose of Cheltenham salts. Since then he has become fond of him and is insistent on attaching him to his service. This is not, however, easy to arrange.
Since I seem to have given the Governor a sufficient proof of the small influence which I enjoy at Longwood, I count on returning there within a few days.
Napoleon's sudden friendship with Stokoe was not to last, for in his next letter, January 25, Balmain reports that he has just heard of the surgeon's recall, "the Admiral having judged it more prudent to separate him from St. Helena." Stokoe was a great friend of both O'Meara, who had recommended him to the French, and Balcombe.
* * *
Of late Napoleon has had the fantastic idea of making himself a shepherd. He is buying all the fine lambs of the island and likes to pasture them before his window. To keep them from climbing the rocks and getting lost, he has hung a little bell around their necks, and at night shuts them up in a little yard.
Admiral Plampin's squadron, which last year was partially renewed, is now composed of eleven vessels: to wit, the Conqueror (74 guns) [and ten other ships ranging from thirty-four to ten guns].
There is again a great lack of provisions, forage, money, and other necessities at St. Helena. It is the seventh or eighth since I have been here and it will not be the last, because Sir Hudson Lowe is not an administrator. He digs trenches, constructs parapets, is always getting ready for a battle, but neglects to build a storehouse.
Napoleon and the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle
The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle, in the fall of 1818, was the first in a continuing series called in the first instance to consider the various revolutions in Spain, Portugal, and Italy, which were making a mock of the Congress of Vienna. Aix-la-Chapelle was followed by Troppau (1820), called to consider the Neapolitan revolt, Laibach (1821), which took steps to suppress that uprising, and Verona (1822), which called in the French army to put down the Spanish revolt.
To Charlemagne's ancient city came Metternich, Richelieu (an invited guest only), Castlereagh and Wellington, Hardenberg, Nesselrode and Capo d'Istria, in order to decide the question of withdrawing the armies of occupation from France, and the nature of the modifications to be introduced, as a consequence, into the relations of the "Allied" Powers toward each other and toward France. The main outcome was the signature of two instruments - (1) a secret protocol confirming and renewing the Quadrilateral Alliance; (2) a public declaration of the intention of the Powers to maintain their intimate union "strengthened by the ties of Christian brotherhood," of which the object was the preservation of peace on the basis of respect for treaties. Many miscellaneous subjects were also discussed which had been left unsettled by the Congress of Vienna or had arisen since, and among them was the treatment of Napoleon. Madame Mère wrote a pathetic letter to the allied sovereigns, and the English Whigs did what they could.
But, despite the hopes which Balmain's reports show to have been placed in the czar by the exiles, Alexander took the leadership in pronouncing against the fallen emperor, and the following protocol (given here, in translation, in the form in which Lowe quotes it to Balmain) was drawn up.
* * *
Protocol No. 42
Separate Article Regarding Napoleon Bonaparte,
Aix-la-Chapelle, November 21, 1818
The Russian Plenipotentiaries read a Memoir the purpose of which was to give information on the points of view with which their Cabinet regards the position of Napoleon Bonaparte on the island of St. Helena, the spirit of the instructions regulating the conduct of his Britannic Majesty's governor toward this prisoner, and the untruthful reports circulated regarding him by an active malevolence, inspired by a spirit of political prejudice or hostility.
And the Plenipotentiaries of the other Courts, entirely sharing the principles and views of the Russian Cabinet and judging useful to announce explicitly their opinions, both on the facts recorded in the last communications of the British Plenipotentiaries and on
he ideas presented with as much truth as force in the said Memoir, have unanimously recognized and declare in consequence:
(1) That Napoleon Bonaparte has placed himself by his conduct outside the pale of the law of nations, and that the measures of precaution taken with regard to him, and all such of that nature as may be authorized, depend entirely upon the discretion and prudence of the Allied Powers.
(2) That the Convention of August 2, 1815, expressly constitutes him a Prisoner of the Powers signatory to the Treaty of March 25, 1815.
(3) That as a result no one among them can be permitted, and still less that Power who is the depository, to depart from the engagement made, or to expose it, by any considerations whatever, to be frustrated, to the detriment of the public peace.
(4) That the precautions ordered in the original Instructions of the Government of his Britannic Majesty and renewed by the despatch of Lord Bathurst to Sir Hudson Lowe of September 1, 1818, a have obtained the unanimous approval of the Powers signatory to the said Convention, and that they also approve the adjustments [ménagements] which humanity and generosity can suggest in the execution of these Instructions, in view of the position in which H.R.H. the Prince Regent now finds himself through the fact that Bonaparte surrendered to the British Government.
(5) That as long as the Commissioners of the Powers which drew up the Treaty of August 2, 1815, prolong their sojourn on the island of St. Helena, the Governor of the island will be invited to place them in a full position to fulfil their mission by those means which he may judge most fitting.
(6) That all correspondence with the Prisoner, remission of money, or any communication whatsoever, which shall not have been submitted to the inspection of the British Government, will be regarded without exception as directed against the public safety, and whoever renders himself guilty of such an infraction will be denounced and prosecuted by legal means.
The receipt of this protocol at St. Helena ushers in a new phase in the history of the captivity. It was, of course, received at both Plantation House and Longwood as the final and irrevocable decision of Europe as to the fate of Napoleon. Most of the disturbers - certainly most of those who could be effective - had gone. From December, 1816, to August, 1818, Las Cases, Malcolm, Balcombe, Stürmer, and O'Meara had all left the island; and a time of peace ensued. The drama now marches on, heavily and unrelieved, to its inevitable and not far distant climax. The recurring note of the chorus is supplied by the increasing and always more pessimistic references to the fallen emperor's health.
* * *
The extract from my Lord Bathurst's letters, which Sir H. Lowe was ordered to communicate to the French, in reply to their observations on his Lordship's speech of March 18, 1817, is printed in one of these papers and has created a sensation at St. Helena. Since the condition of things here is so contrary to that which my Lord Bathurst apparently wishes to establish, everybody is surprised and scandalized. When speaking to the Governor about this extract, I asked him if he expected to obey his instructions and at last to raise the inpenetrable barrier of Longwood. He answered, with a little hesitation, that the French had not drawn up the list of people of the island who were to be admitted to their society. The list has been made out since last June, and it is headed by Messrs. Montchenu, de Gors, and myself. He remarked that he himself had presented a list of fifty people and was waiting for it to be approved or rejected. They tell me positively that he has not presented anything of the kind. "Far from opposing innocent parties and soirées, and distinguished travelers from visiting his prisoner, he has always tried to facilitate them. His conduct toward Admiral Malcolm and the Commissioners of the Allied Powers, who belong to that class and have a right to his confidence, give the lie to that assertion."
"They tell me," I said, "that you have forbidden the officers of the Sixty-sixth to converse with Mme. Bertrand and that they avoid meeting her as much as possible."
"No," he cried, "it is not true, it is a calumny. My officers would not dare to show such conduct, neither toward her husband."
And since the twenty-sixth he has been worrying me incessantly on these chance meetings. The other day he begged me by all that I held most holy not to see them or speak with them. What can one think of such actions? And what folly to want a thing and yet not to want it at the same time!
Last week, having to settle with Mme. de Montholon an expense account in connection with my trip to Rio, I expressed the desire of calling on her. He thereupon wrote me half a dozen notes and letters, which expose his tortuous policy. I am fully convinced that his reports to my Lord Bathurst are similarly a tissue of subtleties and ambiguities, wherein one can see nothing clearly, judge nothing, or come to any intelligent decision. That is why everything is in confusion here.
Dr. Baxter, to whom his disgrace at Longwood has given a sort of celebrity, has asked and obtained permission to return to Europe. He has been suffering for two years from a liver obstruction and has lost all hope of being cured at St. Helena.
I have the honor, etc.
Among the distinguished travelers whom the Company's fleet has brought us this year there is only Mr. Ricketts, member of the Council of Calcutta and a near relation of Lord Liverpool, who has seen Napoleon. 2 In order to obtain an audience, he applied, like all his compatriots, to the Grand Marshal, and was presented on the second of this month. Nothing of what happened between them has as yet transpired. The Governor, as well as his staff, are most mysterious about it, and for two weeks I have met nobody at Longwood. Bonaparte received Mr. Ricketts in a darkened room. After a quarter of an hour's conversation he had some light brought and said, "Now I want to see you." He was in bed, wearing a flannel dressing-gown, with a scarlet turban, was unshaved, and from time to time sat up in bed. The object of this masquerade - for it was hardly anything else - was to touch his visitor by presenting an extremely feeble appearance. I do not know if he is really well or ill. But I am sure that he might have put on trousers, and stood up or sat down, without passing away.
My Lord Bathurst's new orders have been badly received at Longwood. They deign no reply. They loftily refuse to submit, and for two weeks Napoleon has not shown himself to the orderly officer. The Governor is alarmed and does not know what to do. All indications point to a quarrel.
Mme. de Montholon is dangerously ill with a liver obstruction. Every day they give her ten grains of mercury. Her doctor urges her to return to Europe and assures her that there is no hope of cure at St. Helena.
Balmain in a brusque note invites the governor to lodge any complaints of his conduct with the English government. In a foot-note to his letter he adds: "One day, when his mental distress was evidently strong, he said to Montchenu that I was a Bonapartist, and at St. Helena it was necessary to be ultra-royalist. My colleagues fell in with this idea and agreed never to see Bertrand, condemned to death by his King, and Montholon, a child of the Revolution. A short time afterward he was ordered to cultivate their society."
"In order to put an end to this interminable correspondence, and to live at peace with him during the last two months of my stay at St. Helena, I have decided to discontinue seeing his prisoners."
Balmain reports on May 4 that the result of Lowe's fourth note on this subject was to patch up their friendship. So perhaps they served some purpose after all.
* * *
They say in town that consternation reigns among the French, that all they can say is: "The Emperor Alexander has been deceived by false reports. The English, profiting by the carelessness and apathy of the Austro-French Commissioner and the absence of the Russian, have made the Allied Sovereigns believe what they wish, in order to justify their barbarous conduct. There is absolutely no conspiracy or criminal correspondence."
It would be my duty to go to Longwood at least twice a month, and they would give me innumerable details regarding all these facts. I know that I am expected there, that they are on the watch for me night and day when out walking, and that Bonaparte, in spite of the decisions taken toward him at the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle, is still well disposed toward me. But I can do nothing further just now without breaking with Sir H. Lowe.
Balmain again shows his anxiety to live on good terms with both sides, for, being once more assured by Lowe of his readiness to have him see Napoleon, he answers him, somewhat tartly, on July 25, that he will not fail to give the governor ample notice at any time when he desires to assure himself, with his own eyes, of Napoleon's existence on the island.
* * *
I have no other news to send the Imperial Ministry.
The battalion of Island Sharp-shooters, who were tried for murder of the Chinese, have all been declared not guilty.
Surgeon Stokoe has been sent back to St. Helena by the Admiralty, to be brought to trial here on ten counts. They are now drawing up the acts of accusation. I shall not fail to keep you posted.
The last sentence in the preceding report was much truer than Balmain could have suspected. It was indeed a strange group of new arrivals who are mentioned in this report. They were all selected by Cardinal Fesch (Napoleon's half-uncle), who lived, always suspected of intriguing for the Bonapartes, under the watchful eye of the Sacred College at Rome. The papal policy decreed that after the original band of followers no Frenchmen should be sent to St. Helena; Napoleon was to be isolated to the utmost extent. A case in point is the application for the Position of medical attendant from an eminent French doctor, Fourreau de Beauregard. It was declined on the plea that he was not a surgeon . 4 At length Fesch, with the support of Madame Mère, who always espoused the claims of her compatriots, decided upon a young Corsican, Francesco Antommarchi. The amazing thing about him is that he was neither a physician nor a surgeon, but simply an anatomist; he had never practised upon the living. It would have been difficult to find a technically qualified man more unsuited to a post where by this time skill and experience and tact had become so vitally necessary. He had not even the social qualities required, being merely an ignorant provincial from a village in a wild and remote corner of Corsica.
The choice of the two priests is hardly less amazing. Buonavita was also a Corsican, at this time more than sixty-five years old. While acting as chaplain to Pauline Bonaparte at Rome, after Waterloo, he had experienced an attack of apoplexy, which left him a permanent difficulty in his speech. Clearly he needed an assistant. This was provided in Vignali, yet another Corsican, only about twenty-five years of age, who could hardly read and write. Nevertheless, thinking no doubt that it would come in usefully, he had begun a course of medical study. Fesch thought so much of the attainments of this semi-savage that he intended him to act as Napoleon's consulting physician. Says Norwood Young, "there is a grim touch in the suggestion. With Vignali as adviser, Antommarchi's qualifications as dissector would soon come into use."
These three were approved by the church precisely because none of them could speak idiomatic French. With them Napoleon would be tempted to fall back upon the Corsican patois, and he would be encouraged to forget that he had ever been regarded as a Frenchman.
* * *
His surgeon Antommarchi has lost no time in making my acquaintance. He is a subtle and clever Corsican, who, I believe, will soon make himself disliked and feared by the English. He assured me that the Emperor Napoleon, his most Illustrious Patient, had an obstruction of the liver, already hard, and that the climate of St. Helena would kill him.
Mme. Bertrand tells me that she expects to return to Europe next March; that boredom, melancholy, and nerve trouble had ruined her health. Early every Sunday, she says, Father Buonavita says mass at the Emperor's, and at noon Father Vignali officiates in her rooms. She asked me to attend each of these services regularly.
M. de Montholon, who is Bonaparte's emissary to the Commissioners, asked me if I had any news of my successor. "None," I answered.
"What," he cried, "you don't know that you are replaced? That you are out of favor with your Minister and even with your Sovereign?"
"An invention: believe nothing of it," I replied brusquely.
"Well," he said, "this is what I have been ordered to tell you. 'If you see Count Balmain at the Deadwood track,' the Emperor told me this morning, 'tell him from me that his successor was at Paris on the twentysixth of last July. That he is a general officer, recommended by his services and good qualities. That this officer, speaking of Count Balmain in Paris society, said positively that his quarrels with the St. Helena authorities had caused his recall. That Count Nesselrode, or rather the Cabinet of St. Petersburg, disapproved of his conduct, but that the Court was entirely satisfied. That all Europe had recognized in him that unvarying and well known maxim of the Russians - and of all men of honor - "Generosity and delicacy with a conquered enemy." Tell him that the Emperor Alexander has continued friendship for me, together with personal sentiments which are and always will be entirely independent of his political attitude. Thank him for the interest which he has taken in my health. I am a captive and so cannot prove my gratitude. Let him not abandon me forever. Try to get along with my assassin.' "
Sir Hudson Lowe, to whom I repeated word for word this conversation with Montholon, was immensely surprised and believes it either entirely a figment of the fertile imagination of Longwood, or the beginning of some new intrigue, or an attempt to lay a snare for me. I am not of his opinion.
They say that Bonaparte's health is excellent. He has just converted his dining-room into a chapel. Perhaps he will end by becoming devout.
Lord Charles Somerset, Governor of the Cape of Good Hope, is expected at St. Helena toward the end of this month. He is en route to London, on leave.
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