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A VOICE FROM ST. HELENA. By Barry E. O'Meara, Esq. late Surgeon to the Empcror Napoleon. This work, from which, our read- closure, that it is difficult to refuse ers will recollect, some extracts were assent. The very nature of the given in our last, is on the eve of pub- work renders it necessarily most lication, but has not yet made its curious - there has not been a public appearance.
We avail ourselves event for the last thirty years, an therefore of the copy in our posses- actor of any distinction upon the posion to lay before our readers a litical scene-a general of any fame further selection from its contents. -a minister of any eminence- a batThe work purports to be a com- tlema court-a treaty, or in short, pilation of Napoleon's private ob- an occurrence of any national interest servations during the first three whatever, which we have not Napoyears of his captivity at St. Helena, leon sketching for us in his own protaken down upon the spot each day, per person, with all the rapidity and immediately after the narrator parted familiarity of conversation.
The from his company. It is a simple, most minute details of his youth, his unadorned narrative of the conver- elevation, his prosperity, and his fall sations of Napoleon, not spoiled or - the characters with whom he either brought into suspicion by any at- combated or associated- the diftempt at finery,—it is the Boswelliana ferent members of his own family, of Bonaparte, unalloyed by the their faults and their capabilities (certainly amusing) egotism of the the crimes of which he was accused northern biographer. To the work with his own defences, the failures is prefixed a fac-simile of Napoleon's which he fell into; the achievements manuscript of the following sentence, which he executed, and the plans the original of which is in the author's which he had in prospect, are all depossession.
veloped with most interesting miJe prie mes parens et amis de croire tout
nuteness. One circumstance has ce que le Docteur O'Meara leur dira rela- struck us forcibly, as we have no tivement a la position ou je me trouve et doubt it will every one else on a peaux sentimens que je conserve. S'il voie rusal of this book, and that is, the ma bonne Louise je la prie de permettre facility of intercourse which Napoqu'il lui baise les mains.
leon admitted, and his extreme comLe 25 Juillet, 1818. NAPOLEON, municativeness upon every subject;
This speaks clearly the high con- to be sure, it is natural enough that fidence which Napoleon placed in a man like him, after the surprising the person to whom it was given, and activity of the life he led, might wish confirms the strong internal evidence to relieve the rigours of his confinewhich every page presents of its au- ment by a recurrence to the scenes in thenticity. In addition to this, there which he was so distinguished, thus is the attestation of Mr. Holmes, the as it were stealing a balm for the agent of Napoleon in this country, present from the memory of the past; that he received the original manu- still we did not expect to meet with script from St. Helena long before so entire an absence of reserve. It the arrival of Mr. O'Meara in Eng- is time, however, to allow the realand, a proof that the compilation der to judge for himself by some out was no afterthought. We think of the numberless entertaining anecMr. O'Meara has only acted justly dotes with which these volumes towards himself, and respectfully to- abound. We should perhaps menwards the public, in producing those tion that the book is written in the vouchers for the credit which he de- unassuming but natural form of a mands from them: but the trouble diary. The following are some of was scarcely necessary; there are so his opinions of the person to whom many anecdotes which none but Na- perhaps in the world he was most poleon could tell - so many phrases, attached - the Empress Josephine. which none but Napoleon could use Had some conversation with him rela-such intensity of diction, and varie- tive to the Empress Josephine, of whom he ties of singular and interesting dis- spoke in terms the most affectionate. His Vol. VI.
first acquaintance with that amiable being, fully impressed with an opinion that commenced after the disarming of the sec. his affection for Marie Louise was retions in Paris, subsequently to the 13th of turned to the last; and if the story Vendemiare, 1795. * A boy of twelve or which he relates be true, it is indeed thirteen years old presented himself to me;" highly to her honour. continuerl he, " and entreated that his father's sword (who had been a general of “ I have," continued he, “ been twice the republic) should be returned. I was married. Political motives induced me to so touched by this affectionate request, divorce my first wife, whom I tenderly that I ordered it to be given to him. This loved. She, poor woman, fortunately for boy was Eugene Beauharnois. On seeing herself, died in time to prevent her witnessthe sword, he burst into tears. I felt so ing the last of my misfortunes. Let Marie much affected by his conduct, that I noticed Louise be asked with what tenderness and and praised him much. A few days after affection I always treated her. After her wards his mother came to return me a visit forcible separation from me, she avowed of thanks. I was much struck with her in the most feeling terms to * * * * her appearance, and still more with her esprit. ardent desire to join me, extolled with This first impression was daily strengthen. many tears both myself and my conduct to ed, and marriage was not long in follow her, and bitterly lamented her cruel separaing.” Vol. i. p. 180. And again—" Jo. tion, avowing her ardent desire to join me sephine was subject to nervous attacks in my exile.' when in affliction. She was really an Of his own family, and particularamiable woman -elegant, charming and affable. Era la dama la piu graziosa di been fond of indulging the recollec
ly of the females, he appears to have Francia. She was the goddess of the toi.
tion. let; all the fashions originated with her ; every thing she put on appeared elegant;. “ My excellent mother," said he, “ is and she was so kind, so humane-she was a woman of courage and of great talent, the best woman in France." In another more of a masculine than a feminine na. place he says of her,—" Josephine died ture, proud and high minded. She is ca. worth about eighteen millions of francs. pable of selling every thing even to her She was the greatest patroness of the fine chemise for me. I allowed her a million a arts that had been known in France for a year, besides a palace, and giving her many series of years. She had frequently little presents. To the manner in which she disputes with Denon and even with myself, formed me at an early age I principally as she wanted to procure fine statues and owe my subsequent elevation. My opinioa pictures for her own gallery instead of the is, that the future good or bad conduct of Museum. Now I always acted to please a child depends entirely upon the mother. the people; and whenever I obtained a She is very rich. Most of my family confine statue or a valuable picture I sent it sidered that I might die, that accidents there for the bencfit of the nation. Josephine might happen, and consequently took care was Grace personified. Everything she to secure something. They have preserved did was with a peculiar grace and delicacy. a great part of their property." Of Joseph I never saw her act inelegantly during the he thus speaks. “ His virtues and talents whole time we lived together. She had are those of a private character; and for grace even en se couchant. Her toilet was such nature intended him : he is too good
perfect arsenal, and she effectually de- to be a great man. He has no ambition. fended herself against the assaults of time." He is very like me in person, but hand. Vol. ii. p. 101.
He is extremely well informed,
but his learning is not that which is fitted Of Marie Louise also he seems to for a king; nor is he capable of commandhave been very fond. The author ing an army." Vol. i. p. 232. relates that, he made him read to It is a curious fact, that Napoleon him three several times, out of the besought Mr. O'Meara to collect for Observer Newspaper, an account of him every book he could in which he her having fallen off her horse into was libelled, and read and commentthe Po and narrowly escaped drowne ed on them continually, sometimes ing; an accident by which he ap- seriously refuting them, but much peared much affected. We have al- oftener in strains of ridicule. Occaready seen that her own picture and sionally some very awkward stories that of her son decorated his mantel- came out about the authors. We piece ; he had subsequently received shall only extract one relating to from Europe a bust of young Napo- Madame de Staël, leon, upon which he used to gaze at “ Madame de Stäel," said he, “ was a times with the most tender expres- woman of considerable talent and great sion of affection. Napoleon seemed ambition ; but so extremely intriguing and
restless, as to give rise to the observation, and what he had to say in his vindi. that she would throw her friends into the cation. Thus the three great accu. sea, that at the moment of drowning she sations against him, the poisoning of might have an opportunity of saving them. the soldiers, the massacre of the I was obliged to banish her from court. At Turks, and the death of the Duke Geneva, she became very intimate with my D'Enghien, he minutely enters into. brother Joseph, whom she gained by her He states the circumstances which conversation and writings. When I returned from Elba, she sent her son to be gave rise to the report of the first, presented to me on purpose to ask payment which he asserts never happened at of two millions, which her father Neckar all, and adds that there is no person had lent out of his private property to in England now more convinced of Louis XVI. and to offer her services, pro- its falsehood than the person who vided I complied with this request. As I gave it the greatest circulation here, knew what he wanted, and thought that I Sir Robert Wilson. If this be the could not grant it without ill-treating others fact, Sir R. Wilson is called upon by who were in a similar predicament, I did every feeling which ought to actuate not wish to see him, and gave directions
an honourable inan to come forward that he should not be introduced. How. ever, Joseph would not be denied, and manfully and confess his misinformabrought him in in spite of this order, the tion. The destruction of 1200 Turks attendants at the door not liking to refuse he avows and justifies ; appealing to my brother, especially as he said that he every military man in Europe for his would be answerable for the consequences. justification : but war, we are afraid, I received him very politely, heard his has little conuection with morality. business, and replied, that I was very Alluding to the death of the Duke sorry, it was not in my power to comply D'Enghien, he says he was clearly imwith his request, as it was contrary to the plicated in the conspiracy of Pichegru laws, and would do an injustice to many and Moreau. We take at random others. Madame de Stäel was not however contented with this. She wrote a long let.
one passage on this subject; which ter to Fouché, in which she stated her
is, however, frequently discussed by claims, and that she wanted the money in Napoleon at much greater length. order to portion her daughter in marriage We must premise that he uniformly to the Duc de Broglie, promising that if I imputes the denouëment to the percomplied with her request, I might com. severing instigation of Talleyrand. mand her and hers; that she would be black and white for me. Fouché commu.
" It was found out," continued Napo. nicated this, and advised me strongly to leon, “ by the confession of some of the comply, urging that in so critical a time conspirators, that the Duc d'Enghien was she might be of considerable service. I ing on the frontiers of France for the news
an accomplice, and that he was only wait. answered, that I would make no bargains. “ Shortly after my return from the con
of my assassination, upon receiving whicke quest of Italy," continued he, “ I was
he was to have entered France as the king's accosted by Madame de Stäel in a large d'Artois should send a parcel of miscreants
lieutenant. Was I to suffer that the Court company, though at that time I avoided going out much in public. She followed house should hover on the borders of the
to murder me, and that a prince of his me every where, and stuck so close that I could not shake her off. At last she asked country I governed, in order to profit by my me, “who at this moment is la première assassination ? According to the laws of femme du monde ?' intending to pay a
nature, I was authorized to cause him to compliment to me, and expecting that i be assassinated in retaliation for the nuwould return it. I looked at her, and
merous attempts of the kind that he had
I coldly replied, “ she who has borne the before caused to be made against me. greatest number of children,' turned round, gave orders to have him seized. He was and left her greatly confused and abashed. tried and condemned by a law made long He concluded by observing, that he could before I had any power in France. He not call her a wicked woman, but that she
was tried by a military commission formed was a restless intrigante, possessed of con
of all the colonels of the regiments then in siderable talent and influence." (Vol. i. garrison at Paris. He was accused of p. 65–67.)
having borne arms against the republic, Napoleon, however, did not content tribunal, he behaved with great bravery a
which he did not deny. When before the himself with merely retorting on the When he arrived at Strasburg, he wrote a motives of his traducers. Where
letter to me, in which he offered to discover ever there appeared any colour for every thing if pardon were granted to him, the accusation he went at length into said that his family had lost their claims the real facts, stating what took place, for a long time, and concluded by offering
his services to me. This letter was deli- my aid-de-camp, and subsequently raised vered to Talleyrand, who concealed it until him to be what he was. He loved, I may after his execution. Had the Count d'Ar- rather say, adored me. In my presence he tois been in his place, he would have suf- was as it were struck with awe, and ready fered the same fate ; and were I now placed to fall at my feet. I acted wrong in under similar circumstances, I would act having separated him from me, as without in a similar manner. As the police," me, he was nothing. With me, he was added Napoleon, “ did not like to trust to my right arm. Order Murat to attack and the evidence of Mehée de la Touche a- destroy four or five thousand men in such a lone, they sent Captain Rosey, a man in direction, it was done in a moment ; but whose integrity they had every confidence, leave him to himself he was an imbécile to Drake at Munich, with a letter from without judgment. I cannot conceive how Mehée, which procured him an interview, so brave a man could be so lache. He was the result of which confirmed Mehée's no where brave unless before the enemy. statement, that he was concerned in a plot There he was probably the bravest man in to terrasser le premier consul, no matter the world. His boiling courage carried by what means." * (Vol. i. p. 453, 454. him into the midst of the enemy, couvert
de But we gladly turn from these with gold. How he escaped is a miracle,
pennes jusqu'au clocher, and glittering topics to the sketches of character being as he was always a distinguished with which the book is filled. No- mark, and fired at by every body. Even thing can be more amusing than the Cossacs admired him on account of his some, or more intensely interesting extraordinary bravery. Every day Murat than others. We question much was engaged in single combat with some of whether they are not far better hit them, and never returned without his sabre off in conversation as they appear, dropping with the blood of those whom he than if they had been the result of had slain. He was a paladine, in fact a Jabour and deliberation. The cha- Don Quixote in the field ; but take him racter of Murat thus rapidly thrown into the cabinet, he was a poltroon without off could not be improved by any judgment or decision. Murat and Ney
were the bravest men I ever witnessed. polish :
Murat, however, was a much nobler cha. I informed him that Colonel Macirone, racter than Ney. Murat was generous and aid-de-camp to Murat, had published some open ; Ney partook of the canaille. Strange anecdotes of his late master.
to say, however, Murat, though he loved does he say of me?” said Napoleon. I me, did me more mischief than any other replied, that I had not seen the book, but person in the world. When I left Elba, I had been informed by Sir Thomas Reade
sent a messenger to acquaint him with that he spoke ill of him. “ Oh," said he, what I had done. Immediately he must laughing, “ that is nothing ; I am well attack the Austrians. The messenger went accustomed to it. But what does he say?" upon his knees to prevent him ; but in I answered, it was asserted that Murat had vain. He thought me already master of imputed the loss of the battle of Waterloo France, Belgium, and Holland, and that to the cavalry not having been properly he must make his peace, and not adhere to employed, and had said, that if he (Murat) demi-mesures. Like a madman, he athad commanded them, the French would tacked the Austrians with his canaille, and have gained the victory. “ It is very pro- ruined me. For at that time there was & bable,” replied Napoleon ; “ I could not negociation going on between Austria and be every where; and Murat was the best me, stipulating that the former should recavalry officer in the world. He would main neuter, which would have been finally have given more impetuosity to the charge. concluded, and I should have reigned un There wanted but very little, I assure you, disturbed. But as soon as Murat attacked to gain the day for me. Enfoncer deux ou the Austrians, the emperor immediately trois bataillons, and in all probability conceived that he was acting by my direcMurat would have effected that. There tions, and indeed it will be difficult to were not I believe two such officers in the make posterity believe to the contrary. world as Murat for the cavalry, and Drouot Metternich said, “Oh, the Emperor Na. for the artillery. Murat was a most sin- poleon is the same as ever. A man of iron. gular character. Four and twenty years The trip to Elba has not changed him, ago, when he was a captain, I made him Nothing will ever alter him : all or nothing
* While the Duc d'Enghien was on his trial, Madame la Maréchale Bessière said to Colonel Ordener, who had arrested him, “ Are there no possible means to save that malheureux ? Has his guilt been established beyond a doubt ?” “ Madame,” replied Colonel Ordener, “ I found in his house sacks of papers sufficient to compromise the half of France.”—The duke was executed in the morning, and not by torch-light as has been represented.
for him.' Austria joined the coalition, and field-equipage several times, but he always I was lost. Murat was unconscious that lost it. Wrapt up in a cloak, Desaix my conduct was regulated by circumstances threw himself under a gun, and slept as and adapted to them. He was like a man contentedly as if he were in a palace. gazing at the scenes shifting at the opera, For him luxury had no charms. Upright without ever thinking of the machinery be- and honest in all his proceedings, he was hind, by which the whole is moved. He called by the Arabs, the just sultan. He never however thought that his secession was intended by nature for a great general. in the first instance would have been so in- Kleber and Desaix were a loss irreparable jurious to me, or he would not have joined to France. Had Kleber lived, your army the allies. He concluded that I should be in Egypt would have perished. Had that obliged to give up Italy and some other imbecile Menou attacked you on your landcountries, but never contemplated my total ing with twenty thousand men, as he ruin.” (Vol. ii. p. 94-97.)
might have done, instead of the division
Lanusse, your army would have been only There are many sketches of Mu
a meal for them. Your army was sevenrat, but this is the best.
teen or eighteen thousand strong, without Mr. O'Meara who communicated to cavalry." (Vol. i. p. 237, 238.) Napoleon the intelligence of Murat's
I asked his opinion of Clarke. He redeath. “ He heard it,” says he, with
plied, “ he is not a man of talent, but he calmness, and immediately demanded is laborious and useful in the bureau. He if he had perished on the field of bat
is, moreover, incorruptible, and saving of tle.” He afterwards remarked that the public money, which he never has apthe conduct of the Calabrese towards propriated to his own use. He is an ex Murat was mercy compared with the cellent redactcur. He is not a soldier, treatment which he was experiencing.
however, nor do I believe that he ever saw The following are descriptions of a shot fired in his life. He is infatuated some of his generals and ministers.
with his nobility. He pretends that he is
descended from the ancient kings of Scot“ Moreau,” said he, “ was an excellent land, or Ireland, and constantly vaunts of general of division, but not fit to command his noble descent. A good clerk. I sent a large army. With a hundred thousand him to Florence as ambassador, where he men, Moreau would divide his army in employed himself in nothing but turning different positions, covering roads, and over the old musty records of the place, in would not do more than if he had only search of proofs of the nobility of my fathirty thousand. He did not know how to mily, for you must know that they came profit either by the number of his troops, from Florence. He plagued me with let. or by their positions. Very calm and cool ters upon this subject, which caused me to in the field, he was more collected and write to him to attend to the business for better able to command in the heat of an which he had been sent to Florence, and action than to make dispositions prior to it. not to trouble his head or mine with his He was often seen smoking his pipe in nonsense about nobility ; that I was the battle. Moreau was not naturally a man first of any family. Notwithstanding this, of a bad heart; Un bon vivant, mais il he still continued his inquiries. When I n'avait pas beaucoup de caractère. He returned from Elba, he offered his services was led away by his wife and another in- to me, but I sent him word that I would triguing Creole. His having joined Pi. not employ any traitors, and ordered him chegru and Georges in the conspiracy, and
to his estates." I asked if he thought that subsequently having closed his life fighting Clarke would have served him faithfully, against his country, will ever disgrace his “Yes," replied the emperor, as long as memory: As a general, Moreau was in- I was the strongest, like a great many finitely inferior to Desaix, or to Kleber, or others." (Vol. i. p. 400, 401.) even to Soult. Of all the generals I ever had under me, Desaix and Kleber possessed
The following is his description of the greatest talents ; especially Desaix, as
Carnot. Kleber only loved glory, inasmuch as it A man laborious and sincere, but liable was the means of procuring him riches and to the influence of intrigues and easily de. pleasures, whereas Desaix loved glory for ceived. He had directed the operations of itself and despised every thing else. De war, without having merited the eulogiums saix was wholly wrapt up in war and glory. which were pronounced upon him, as he To him riches and pleasure were valueless, had neither the experience, nor the hanor did he give them a moment's thought. bitude of war. When minister of war, he He was a little black-looking man, about shewed but little talent, and had many an inch shorter than I am, always badly quarrels with the minister of finance and dressed, sometimes even ragged, and de- the treasury; in all of which he was spising comfort or convenience. When in wrong. He left the ministry, convinced Egypt, I made him a present of a complete that he could not fulfil his station for want