Gambar halaman

men. It was then, on being told that all that department was under the charge of the purser, he said in a facetious way, “ Je crois que c'est quelquefois chez vous, comme chez nous, le commissaire est un peu coquin." “ I believe it happens sometimes with you, as it does with us, that the purser is a little of a rogue.” This was addressed to the Admiral and me, with whom he was conversing, and not to the people, as has been represented; nor was there a man that could have understood it, as it was spoken in French, and not within their hearing. He asked to see the Chaplain, put a few questions to him as to the number of Catholics and foreigners in the ship, and whether any of them spoke the French language. A Guernsey man was pointed out to him, but he had no conversation with him.' pp. 92–93.

The Bellerophon arrived in Torbay on the 24th, and Captain Maitland sent a despatch to Lord Keith, giving a detailed account of his proceedings. He clearly must have considered, that he had received the Emperor on board in a way which did not leave the absolute disposal of his person to our Goverment; otherwise, what possible anxiety could he feel for the opinion to be formed of his conduct? If he had him a prisoner, and at the mercy of his employers, who had only instructed him to intercept Napoleon's escape, and use every means for taking him and bringing him to England, he had evidently done all he was ordered, and effected the utmost that was desired at his hands. If, however, the obtaining possession of his person by voluntary surrender made a difference in Napoleon's claims on our rights, the anxiety of Captain Maitland is easily understood, and no one who reads the following passage in the letter to Lord Keith, can doubt that the writer felt the difference which the manner of the surrender made in the Emperor's situation. After detailing the communications through Las Cases, ending in the proposal to come on board, he says,

“ Taking into consideration all the circumstances of the probability of the escape being effected, if the trial was made either in the frigates, or clandestinely in a small vessel, as, bad this ship been disabled in action, there was no other with me that could produce any effect on a frigate, and, from the experience I have had in blockading the ports of the bay, knowing the impossibility of preventing small vessels from getting to sea, and looking upon it as of the greatest importance to get possession of the person of Buonaparte ; I was induced, without hesitation, to accede to the proposal, as far as taking him on board, and proceeding with him to England ; but, at the same time, stating in the most clear and positive terms, that I had no authority to make any sort of stipulation as to the reception he was to meet with.

" I am happy to say, that the measures I have adopted have met with the approbation of Sir Henry Hotham, and will, I trust and hope, receive that of your Lordship, as well as of liis Majesty's Government.” . pp. 164–105.


As soon as the Government was apprised of his arrival, strict orders were despatched to keep him on board the vessel, to watch it most carefully in case of any attempt at an escape, and to cut off all communication with the shore, and with other ships. Four or five of his suite were suffered to remain with him, exclusive of several servants; the rest were to be

kept under similar restraint on board of other vessels of war;' and finally, · Napoleon Buonaparte was to be considered and

addressed as a general officer.' This last point seems all along to have been held in the highest estimation by our rulers and their agents, from the time of the Emperor's surrender, to that of his decease. They appear to have deemed it a grand triumph over their enemy. To us we own it presents itself in a very contemptible light, and merely as a poor spite-a paltry insult over fallen greatness. If any one were disposed to argue the matter seriously, nothing can be more inconsistent and absurd. By what title was he a general officer,' we should like to know ? By none other than that which made him Consul first, and then Emperor. The magnificent sentence with which his Speech at the Champ de Mai, in 1815 opened, a sentence marked by his peculiar and characteristic style of eloquence not often surpassed-declares his title to all the three ranks— General,-Consul,-Empereur,--Je dois tout au

Peuple.' In less rhetorical phrase, he held all his ranks but the first he ever had, Lieutenant of Artillery, from the successive governments which sprang out of the Revolution. He never had received the rank of General from a legitimate king, through his regular minister of war. Why then was he to be called General, any more than Emperor? Why not be consistent and call him Lieutenant Buonaparte, or Mr Buonaparte, at once ? He had been recognised as Consul by our Government, and treated as a brother potentate by our Sovereign, whose own title rests upon the self-same ground of the popular voice, which, overthrowing an old established dynasty, placed a new one upon the throne. He had been treated with while Emperor of France, though not acknowledged as such in form; and he had afterwards been solemnly recognised by all the powers as titular Emperor, at least, when he was allowed to retain that rank on being sent to Elba. His subsequent return to France may have given his enemies a right to treat him as a prisoner of war, when he fell into their hands; but when was it ever heard that a sovereign prince lost his rank, (or indeed in civilized ages his personal liberty) by capture? While devising these petty vexations for their illustrious prisoner, it is remarkable that our ministers, (at that time in the very honey moon of their union with the Holy Allies), carefully kept him from all direct intercourse with the Prince Regent. They seemed apprehensive lest some generous sympathy might influence that exalted personage, whose allegiance to the despots of the Continent was not to be reckoned upon, so surely as their own. Indeed, if we may trust the conjecture of one who knew him well, a favourable impression was very likely to have been made by the Emperor upon his Royal Highness. Speaking of his wish for an interview with the • Prince Regent,' Lord Keith said · D- n the fellow, if he • had obtained an interview with his Royal Highness, in half • an hour they would have been the best friends in England.' pp. 211.

The strict custody in which he was kept, and the constant reports in the newspapers of the intention to confine him in St Helena, must have gradually prepared Napoleon for the resolution which was at length announced to him by one of the Under Secretaries of State, in a written paper delivered to him. He sent for Captain Maitland immediately after, and showed it to him.

• When I had read it, he complained vehemently of his treatment in being sent to St Helena, saying, “ The idea of it is perfect horror to me. To be placed for life on an island within the Tropics, at an immense distance from any land, cut off from all communication with the world, and every thing that I hold dear in it !--c'est pis que la cage de fer de Tamerlan. (It is worse than Tamerlane's iron cage.) I would prefer being delivered up to the Bourbons. Among other insults,” said he,“ but that is a mere bagatelle, a very secondary consideration,—they style me General ! they can have no right to call me General; they may as well call me Archbishop, for I was head of the church, as well as the army. If they do not acknowledge me as Emperor, they ought as First Consul ; they have sent Ambassadors to me as such ; and your King, in his letters, styled me Brother. Had they confined me in the Tower of London, or one of the fortresses in England, (though not what I had hoped firom the generosity of the English people,) I should not have so much cause of complaint ; but to banish me to an island within the Tropics ! They might as well have signed my death-warrant at once, as it is impossible a man of my habit of body can live long in such a climate."

He then expressed a desire to write another letter to the Prince Regent ; and I carried it the same afternoon to Lord Keith, by whom it was immediately forwarded to London.' pp. 143_145.

I felt convinced that Buonaparte, after the notification he had received, would be too much depressed in spirits to make his appearance on deck this day; and sent a boat to some of my friends, who were waiting in hopes of seeing him, to say there was no chance of his coming out, as he was much distressed at the communication which had been made to him. I was, therefore, a good deal surprised, on turning round, to find him standing at my elbow; and I can only account for his showing himself as usual, by supposing either that he was not in fact so much annoyed as I had believed him to be, or that he was actuated by a desire of creating a feeling of commiseration among the English people in his behalf.

At dinner he conversed as usual ; and, indeed, it was quite astonishing with what elasticity his spirits regained their usual cheerfulness, after such trials and disappointments. He never, in my hearing, threatened to commit suicide ; nor do I believe he did on any occasion : the only expression I ever heard him make use of, that could in any way be construed into such a threat, was, that he would not go to St Helena,—“ Je n'irai pas à St Hélène."pp. 150–151.

Generals Savary and Lallemand being expressly prohibited from accompanying him, were much alarmed at the idea of being delivered up to the French Government, and sharing, of course, the fate of Labedoyere; for the sacrifice of Marshal Ney was not yet perpetrated. Our author, to quiet their apprehensions, wrote a very strong protest to the Admiralty, and stated, that his own honour was deeply involved in the question. He also declared to Sir H. Bunbury, for the information of the Government, that he should consider himself dis

honoured for ever,' if, having received them on board of his ship, they should suffer death through his means.

The conduct of Captain Maitland in this matter is deserving of great praise; but we see no reason to believe that so flagrant an act of perfidy was ever in the contemplation of his employers. He entertained no such apprehension himself, and acted chiefly with a view of satisfying the unfortunate gentlemen, who were alarmed for their own fate, from witnessing that of their master. The protest of the Emperor was delivered to Lord Keith, and was in the following terms. • “ Je proteste solennellement ici, à la face du Ciel et des hommes, contra la violence qui m'est faite, contre la violation de mes droits les plus sacrés, en disposant par la force, de ma personne et de ma liberté. «« Je suis venu librement à board du Bellerophon ; je ne suis point prisonnier; je snis l'hôte de l'Angleterre. J'y suis venu à l'instigation même du Capitaine qui a dit avoir des ordres du Governement de me recevoir, et de me conduire en Angleterre avec ma suite, si cela m'étoit agréable. Je me suis présenté de bonne foi pour venir me mettre sous la protection des loix d'Angleterre. Aussitôt assis à bord du Bellerophon, je fus sur le foyer du peuple Britannique. Si le Gouvernement, en donnant des ordres au Capitaine du Bellerophon, de me recevoir ainsi que ma suite, n'a voulu que tendre une embûche, il a forfait à l'honneur et flêtri son pavillon. Si cet acte se consommoit, ce seroit en vain que les · Anglais voudroient parler à l'Europe de leur loyauté, de leur loix, et de leur liberté. La foi Britannique s'y trouvera perdue dans l'hospitalité du Bellerophon. J'en appelle à l'histoire ; elle dira qu'an ennemi qai

fit vingt ans la guerre aux peuples Anglois, vint librement, dans son infortune, chercher un asile sous ses loix. Quelle plus éclatante preuve pouvait-il lui donner de son estime et de sa confiance ? Mais comment répondit-on en Angleterre à une telle magnanimité ? _On feignit de tendre une main hospitalière à cet ennemi, et quand il se fut livre de bonne foi, on l'immola.

Signé, NAPOLEON." “ A bord du Bellerophon,

4 Aout, 1815.He complained also to Captain Maitland in bitter, but not unbecoming terms, of the treatment he had experienced. He recounted the means he certainly possessed of keeping up the contest in France until he could make terms for himself; a large party in the South-the army behind the Loire-the garrison of Rochelle, with 12,000 troops in Rochefort, Bourdeaux, and Isle d'Aix, were all at his disposal; but he saw no prospect of ultimately succeeding in effecting his restoration; and he was resolved not to prolong the war, and desolate France, merely for his personal advantage or convenience as an individual, when he could no longer be said to fight for empire. When he was to remove on board the Northumberland for the voyage, he required to have an order in writing, that it might be seen he only yielded to force; and on this occasion he said

“ Your Government has treated me with much severity, and in a very different way from what I had hoped and expected, from the opinion I had formed of the character of your countrymen. It is true I have always been the enemy of England, but it has ever been an open and declared one ; and I paid it the highest compliment it was possible for man to do in throwing myself on the generosity of your Prince: I have not now to learn, that it is not fair to judge of the character of a people by the conduct of their Government.” He then went on (alluding to the Government), “ They say I made no conditions. Certainly I made no conditions ; how could an individual enter into terms with a nation? I wanted nothing of them but hospitality, or, as the ancients would express it, air and water.' My only wish was to purchase a small property in England, and end my life there in peace and tranquillity. As for you, Capitaine," (the name by which he always addressed me), “ I have no cause of complaint; your conduct to me has been that of a man of honour ; but I cannot help feeling the severity of my fate, in having the prospect of passing the remainder of my life on a desert island. But,” added he with a strong emphasis, “ if your Government give up Savary and Lallemand to the King of France, they will inflict a stain upon the British name that no time can efface.” I told him, in that respect, they were under an erroneous impression; that I was convinced it was not the intention of his Majesty's Ministers to deliver them up. “ Je l'espère," “ I hope so." pp. 187-189.

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »