General Lallemand’s Account of Napoleon’s Departure
Lallemand, Baron General François-Antoine Charles (1774-1839). A cavalry officer, Lallemand served well throughout the Napoleonic epoch, with service in Egypt, Italy, Santo Domingo, Austria, Prussia, Poland and France. In 1815, Lallemand and his younger brother, Henri-Dominique, attempted an unsuccessful rebellion against royalist forces. Louis XVIII imprisoned him for disloyalty, but when Napoleon returned he was released and made General of Division. He served under Napoleon and was wounded at Waterloo. Lallemand accompanied Napoleon to Rochefort and hoped to go with him to St Helena. He was very interested in serving the Emperor in exile.
Napoleon refuses to go to America
Excerpt of the journal of General Charles-Frédéric-Antoine Lallemand, July-August 1856. (The French American Review, April–June, 1949, No. 2, 63-80. Lallemand wrote this in July of 1816.) Quoted in J. David Markham, The Road to St Helena: Napoleon After Waterloo.
Having left Paris on the 30th of June, around 8 o’clock at night, with the intention of rejoining the Emperor, I reached him at Niort in the middle of the night on the 2nd of July. Around three o’clock in the morning, on the 3rd, he arrived at Rochefort where I arrived two hours later.
He had crossed France, followed by several cars, almost always going without escort, and refusing the one offered to him at Niort; He was told that the Vendée region did not offer as much security, he only accepted a few men and he was not troubled on the way. Everywhere he was given proof of devotion and respect. From everywhere you could hear people expressing regrets and sending him wishes: he received the same welcome at Rochefort, on board the frigates and at Île d’Aix. He was invited to return to command the army; he was asked to reunite the troops which were in Bordeaux, Rochefort, La Rochelle and in all of the south of France; he would have been joined by many partisans from all departments. But the favorable time for France would have been lost. Napoléon would have been accused of instigating civil war without a favorable end for the public. He judged this role to be unworthy of him and rejected these propositions.
During these days of misfortune the Emperor received many tokens of devotion. A crowd of sailors distinguished themselves by the most eulogizing zeal. Preparations were made for the departure: several plans offered favorable chances. It was especially in the plans that were being made at the mouth of the Gironde, that you could hope for an assured success.
Napoleon left Rochefort on 8 July to reach and board the frigate La Saale in the harbor of l’Ile d’Aix. From there, it would be easier for him to make a decision, according to the circumstances, and seize the most favorable moment to put it into motion as soon as the last decisions had been taken. There, several well experienced sailors were still talking of the project of embarkation at the mouth of the Gironde and went about demonstrating that this plan was, quite evidently, the one they should follow.
But several of the officers who accompanied the Emperor, particularly those who had long ago gained his confidence and therefore had easier access and more influence upon him, were not in favor of this plan, saw only obstacles in the plans that were proposed and managed to slow down the decision making, causing a deadly delay in decisions which, at the time, required rapidity. The coolness with which they received the plans, the irresolution they caused incessantly was principally derived from a desire that they had since before leaving Paris, to see the Emperor choose to go to England.
One is overwhelmed by disbelief and pain at the same time, to see men whose judgment should have been clear from much experience, men who give the Emperor all kinds of proof of their sincere devotion, and now act in the same way as the enemies who have plotted his demise,–these men who would shed their blood for him, with the same pride, who have arduously wished for the honor to share his misfortune, who would be ashamed at trying to escape the situation are now incapable of voluntarily separating themselves from him.
This, however, is the secret of the destiny imposed on the Emperor; these are the causes that rapidly sent him in a tomb while still alive. He could have kept his freedom and reached a hospitable land.
Moreover, unfortunately as there was no high political interest any longer and nothing more to be done for glory, the Emperor became much too indifferent as to his personal consideration and left everything up to the men who were with him to take care of the situation. He could not have left this in more loyal hands, but guided by less clear-sightedness.
My only consolation, if there could be one applied to this misfortune, would be that I did not share the common error.
Struck with wonder by the realities demonstrated to me by the sailors with whom I had spoken regarding the best way to insure the safe departure of the Emperor, I alone insisted, but I strongly insisted on the plan to have the Emperor leave by the mouth of the Gironde, and on the necessity for taking care of it urgently. I tried everything to advance this proposition but it was in vain. The only answers I received were objections as to the execution of the plan, and doubts on the certainty of the means by which it could be accomplished. The only thing that I was able to convey was that we should not neglect lightly a project that might save the Emperor. All that I was able to obtain was to go by myself and check out the realities in the area itself.
I traveled there by way of Royan and it became easy to convince myself that the project was solid. I made sure it would be easy to pass through if leaving from the designated point. The wisest dispositions had been taken; everything had been ready for several days. The ships designated for the Emperor had gone out and several had made their trip without being visited by the English even though they had not really tried to bypass them or taken any of the precautions or measures that would have been taken to insure the safety of the Emperor, had he chosen to take this option.
Meanwhile, General Savary and M. de Las Cases had been sent as parliamentarians, from the 10th to the 11th, to the English cruising fleet comprised of the vessel Bellerophon and the corvette Myrmidon. They carried with them a letter from General Bertrand for the station commander. Captain Maitland, commander of the Bellerophon, received them. After having read the letter, in response to the question regarding whether or not he had received the requested passports for the Emperor, he replied that he had been advised of nothing in regards to passports and therefore did not have a solution for the request that was the object of the message; he added that he would surely know more about it because a corvette that was approaching had signaled that it was coming from England and had messages for him. He invited General Savary and M. de Las Cases to have lunch saying that during this time they would maneuver to be able to communicate quicker with the corvette. Captain Maitland was not aware of the Waterloo battle and knew nothing of the Emperor’s abdication, or his arrival at Rochefort. Soon, the corvette’s captain entered. It was the corvette Fallmouth that was arriving from England, had come thru the Quiberon bay, and had given the messages to Admiral Hotham. After he had read the letters, Captain Maitland said to General Savary and M. de Las Cases, “There is still nothing relative to the message you have brought. I also see that at the time the corvette left England, no one knew about what you have just told me.”
The Bellerophon with Napoleon on board going to England
The two English captains began conversing in their own language, the one from the corvette said that he had learned, on board from Admiral Hotham, that Napoléon had just arrived in Nantes and was causing trouble. “I see that they don’t know the truth there any better than anywhere else,” said Captain Maitland, laughing, “the Emperor is at Rochefort; these men are officers who came here on his behalf.”
After we were done with lunch, the conference started up again. Captain Maitland repeated that he could not satisfy the request having to do with the passports, that he would immediately address his report and the letter from General Bertrand to his admiral who was in the bay of Quiberon, that the admiral would surely give him a response right away, and that we could have his answer the next day or the day after that, and that without a doubt the admiral would find it all important enough to come out himself. Then, taking the initiative on a question that had not yet been discussed, M. Maitland said “but why doesn’t the Emperor come to England?”
“We do not have any order permitting us to discuss this question, but we assume that he worries about the climate.”
“There are counties in England where the weather is as mild as it is in France.”
“We think as well that having always been at war with England, he might fear meeting with prejudices and resentment.”
“He is mistaken; it would indeed be a way of extinguishing all resentment. The Emperor, coming of his own accord to England would be sheltered from all the efforts of his enemies, the best possible position in which he might find himself.”
MM. Savary and de Las Cases repeated that this proposition was not part of their mission; they would inform the Emperor and asked if the Emperor could depend on the English vessel to take him to England if he decided to accept this proposition. M. Maitland answered that he did not have any orders in this regard, but that if the Emperor declared his intention they would certainly accept. He gave a written answer to General Bertrand’s letter and said that his vessel would be anchored in the Basques harbor the next day, then we left.
The Emperor received this report on the 11th, on board the frigate La Saale, and went ashore the next day at Ile d’Aix. It was in this circumstance that I arrived quickly in the Gironde. It soon became apparent that the project of going to England was prevailing in the mind of most of the people around the Emperor; they spoke only of Captain Maitland’s proposition and presented it in the most favorable way, as thoughtless and frivolous as it was, they were happy to give it a lot of weight, attaching to it the most seductive illusions.
However, the Emperor did not find all these explanations sufficient to bring him to the decision they were trying to help him make. He decided that, while waiting for the passports he had requested or a positive response from the admiral commanding the station, he would get prepared to use the means still available to take him to the United States. But time was passing and we had lost some most precious days. The means available for salvation were disappearing constantly. Far from making the situation better for the Emperor with the message taken to the English vessel, we had made it more difficult by letting them know of his presence, which they had not been aware of, and causing them to more actively observe what was happening.
We decided to go out to sea as soon as the decision would be definitively taken: for the Emperor, we adopted the plan of his departure on a small Danish ship. Some small French ships were to carry the officers who would accompany him. Some had already set sail and were out of the channels, when, in the evening of the 12th, as the Bellerophon was anchored in the Basques harbor we thought we could see a signal announcing the desire to communicate. It was late so we waited until the next morning to send someone there.
On the 14th of July, at daybreak, I was sent to the Bellerophon with M. de Las Cases. We asked Captain Maitland if he had received the passports for the Emperor or a response to the letter we had given to him a few days earlier. Captain Maitland answered that he had not received any passports, he was waiting for the admiral’s response at any moment, and that contrary winds had slowed him down.
“But,” he added, “I have received some dispatches from my government, and I am authorized to make the offer to the Emperor to be received on board so that he can be taken to England, if he so desires, along with all the people who accompany him.”
“Captain, you are authorized by your government to make this proposition?”
“Yes I have the authorization of my government.”
“Although the Emperor has not positively made a decision, if the dispositions of the English government have ceased to be hostile towards him, we think it is possible that he may decide to accept the offer that is made to him. We are very aware of the high esteem he has for the English nation, and believe that he may not be adverse to going to England, in the hope that he might find there the rest that he would like to enjoy, with the intention of finding a way to continue his travels to America if his time in England became contrary to his well being. But if it is permissible to believe that there could be abuse of the advantages obtained from him, it is a certainty that he would follow thru with the chances he still has in his favor, rather than let himself be subject to procedure unworthy of him.”
“He must not worry about that; it is most certainly not to expose him to mistreatment that we proposed that he come to England if he desires to come. I have not been told what kind of existence he will lead. My instructions only authorize me to accept him on board to take him to England if he so desires. That is saying enough. There is no doubt that he will receive only honorable treatment. The English nation enjoys, more than any other, generosity of sentiments and liberty of opinions.”
“If the Emperor accepts your proposition, if he freely comes to England, it is obvious that he must continue to have his liberty.”
“I have already told you that I am not aware of what his existence might be in England, but it is certain that coming of his own accord he should find himself in a respectable position. He must be aware of how his brother Lucien has been treated. It is probable that someone will be placed close to him, just as there has been an English colonel placed near his brother; but it will be as much for his own tranquility as for any other reason. We could not do otherwise. The government is not a referee and the laws and opinions are quite liberal.”
During this conference, lunch had been served and we were seating at the table when captain Sartorius, from the corvette Slaney, came in immediately after lunch. Captain Maitland went into the parlor with General Lallemand, M. de Las Cases and captain Sartorius who was present during the last part of the discussion. We restarted the conference pertaining to the Emperor but in a more overall nature. Overall we only did a summary of what had already been said. What did get particularly repeated was the comment made by Captain Maitland relative to the Emperor’s brother. “It is probable that someone will be placed close to him, just as there has been an English colonel place near his brother; but it will be as much for his own tranquility as for any other reason. He can expect, he added, to receive the same courtesy and more satisfying procedures.” Captain Maitland again seized this occasion to speak in strong terms of the generosity of the sentiment, the liberty of the laws and opinions in England, and of the well-earned confidence in the British flag.
After having discussed that which concerned the Emperor, I informed Captain Maitland that since I had been actively engaged in the latest events that had taken place in France, I desired the assurance that neither I nor any of those who might find themselves in the same circumstance, could be pursued because of the cause we had defended.
“You have nothing to fear,” answered Captain Maitland, “all of this is foreign to the English government. You are coming to England of your own accord; no authority can pursue you there.”
“I ignore,” I observed, “what the Emperor will decide, but if he comes to England and if I accompany him, I do not want to be exposed to persecutions just because I am a particular case that had not been provided for, and that I should have known. I never had any intention of going to England; nothing is forcing me to go, and I declare to you that I will not come there, not only if there is the slightest chance that I might be sent back to France, but also if there was the slightest risk of seeing my liberty taken from me, or to be pursued in any fashion.”
“That is impossible,” said Captain Maitland warmly, “In England the government is not despotic, it must conform to the laws and the opinion. You are under the protection of English laws as soon as you are under the British flag”.
At the time of our departure, Captain Maitland told us that if the Emperor decided to come on board his vessel to go to England, he wanted to be aware of it before his arrival and receive as soon as possible the list of persons who would accompany the Emperor, so that the necessary preparations could be made in order to welcome each person with the least possible problems.
We came back in the morning to give an account of our mission.
The Emperor having received the report concerning our conference with Captain Maitland, and being a long way from suspecting any kind of treachery, decided rather easily to accept the proposition that had been offered to him, especially in view of the fact that most of the people around him had most likely prepared him to choose this plan.
However, because he did not want to entirely dispose of the destiny of the men who had remained loyal to him without their agreement, he called upon the officers who were there. The others had already embarked and had passed the pertuis (strait), awaiting his orders to continue on.
The officers who gathered at the Emperor’s place were Generals Bertrand, Savary, Lallemand, Montholon, and Gourgaud and Mr. De Las Cases. After having informed them of the propositions given by Captain Maitland as well as all that had taken place during the conference with him, the Emperor asked each of these officers to state their opinion.
Five of these officers declared without hesitation that they thought it was suitable to accept this proposition as it offered the characteristic of loyalty. Alone, I maintained an opposite opinion and alleged that he should not let himself be fooled by the offers we had received, that there was no liberty for the Emperor except on the soil of the United States, that the Emperor could still hope to reach it and retain his independence, that he still had some chances in his favor and that we should hurry to take advantage of them, and further, that if these chances were lost, we at least would have attempted everything for the well-being of the Emperor, that in any case he could not have a more unfortunate fate than to go on an English vessel where he would be dependent on a ministry in which it was imprudent to place any confidence.
This opinion was cause for amazement. “You reported yourself,” said the Emperor, “the propositions and the words of Captain Maitland. You are the only one here who had the occasion to know of this earlier, and you spoke of him as being an honorable man. Have you doubts, then, of his truthfulness in this circumstance?”
“No, Sire, I do not doubt that; when I met Captain Maitland, at the time of the war in Egypt, I saw in him the honest character of a military man and a sailor. I have confidence in him, but I have none in the English ministry. We have never seen it being generous when it could oppress with impunity. Captain Maitland, in spite of himself, will be made the instrument for treachery, and will be disavowed if it becomes necessary.”
Everyone fought this opinion, they all claimed it could not be proven and that the propositions made by Captain Maitland offered the character of loyalty and that they were equally honorable for the Emperor and for the English government. “This motive, however right it may seem, is not the determining factor for me,” I said, “the English government has too often and strongly declared its enmity against the Emperor for anyone to believe that it will not be its only principle. An implacable hate, this is the principal on which we must judge its behavior. If, when the parliament is assembled, the Emperor happened to be in the middle of England and the truth was known, of course, we could believe that magnanimity could direct them; but when we are placed on a war vessel how will the ministry react? Do we know the facts? I repeat, nothing can bring me to have any faith in the English government.”
Then the subject went back to the solicitations the Emperor had received asking him to come back and command the troops; he pushed aside, without hesitation, this project and any idea of civil war. “It would be to combat only for personal interests,” he shouted, “I do not want to cause a cannon fire.”
I have shortened this conference but I have given its account honestly. I remained alone in my judgment and the Emperor stopped all discussions, saying: “If it was a question of giving liberty to a nation, I could attempt a return of Island of Elba. I look only for some rest, it is offered to me in England. I accept it. I do not know the Prince Regent, but I must have confidence in his character. I will write to him tomorrow; at daybreak, we will go and board the English vessel.”
A few hours after this conference I went to the Emperor’s quarters and asked permission to submit a few new observations to him. Three or four of the above named officers were present.
“Sire, as we left Paris, I was thinking that it could be useful to have near you a few men desirous to assure the respect towards you that you deserve, in the different situations you may encounter. The decision you have taken to go to England does not give me the opportunity to be of service to you if I accompany you. I ask that you permit me to go in a direction that may give me the opportunity to be of bigger service to you.”
“You want to leave me?”
“I think of leaving you only momentarily, Sire, and with the intention of being more useful to you.”
“Explain yourself; I cannot guess what you mean.”
“I persist in the opinion that I have already given. My distrust continues to grow as I consider how the English ministry has always conducted itself. I am convinced that your Majesty’s trust will be betrayed if the truth is not told. I believe it is of the utmost importance that one of the men with you, especially one of those who spoke with Captain Maitland, be able to keep all his liberty. The means that were at the disposition of Your Majesty to go to America, I can use them to go to England. I will arrive totally unknown, and if the government does not act with loyalty, I will publish what happened on board the Bellerophon. The opinion may not permit me to violate the hospitality that has been offered to you. If Your Majesty approves, I believe that I can be of real help if I go to England alone.”
“No,” said the Emperor, “there cannot be a trap; your mistrust is not well founded. Come to England with me, you will enjoy the rest we all deserve.”
“I cannot share the confidence Your Majesty shows and let myself believe in the hopes that you have the goodness to give me.”
“Are you worried that you could be delivered to the French government? You cannot think that. The assurances given to you by Captain Maitland should make you tranquil.”
“In spite of Captain Maitland’s assurances, I believe it is very possible that I could be transferred to the French government. That seems even very probable if they can surround us with so much mystery as to do it with impunity. But I am above fear. The question Your Majesty just posed to me does not permit me any reflection. If Your Majesty thinks that I may be useful, I am ready to accompany you.”
“Yes, you will be useful to me,” said the Emperor with goodness, “I would be sad to see you go away.”
“I have no more thinking to do, I told Your Majesty, I will come.”
In relating this short version of the details, I have no other intention except to tell what happened, to show the principal lines that drew the Emperor’s position, characterize his trust and the opinion that directed him.
On the same day, 14 July, General Gourgaud and M. de Las Cases were sent to the Bellerophon. M. de Las Cases was in charge of letting Captain Maitland know that, as had been discussed, the Emperor would come aboard the next day, and to give him the list of the persons that would accompany him.
General Gourgaud carried the letter of the Emperor expressing his wish that this general officer be sent to England immediately in order that he be able to go to London to present the letter to the Prince Regent. He was told that he could leave right away and that there was no objection to his going directly to London to finish his mission. He departed, in fact, on the corvette Slaney, commanded as we have already mentioned, by Captain Sartorius.
Also the same day, M. de Las Cases wrote from the Bellerophon to tell the Emperor that General Gourgaud had left, and that preparations were made to welcome him and that Captain Maitland continued to confirm everything he had said during the conference that had taken place the very same morning.
At daybreak the next day, 15 July, the Emperor boarded a French war ship flying the tricolor flag and a parliamentary flag, to go to the Bellerophon. The departure of the French ship had been delayed because the tide had left it outside the harbor of Île d’Aix, and the wind had become contrary. Captain Maitland sent his dinghy to the Emperor and he accepted it.
The moment he left the ship was a time of most fiery regrets.
You could see the emotion on all the faces, painful expressions on the lips of people and, why would I not say it, tears were flowing from everyone’s eyes when we saw the Emperor getting in the English dinghy.
These tears did not come from shameful weakness; they were the tears of courage quivering at having become so helpless. They find the heart of a warrior from where they are torn by the misfortune of an illustrious chief that it can no longer defend or cover with its blood.
The dinghy left and the thousands of repeated cries of: Vive l’Empereur, following him all the way to the Bellerophon are the last good-byes that he received; these adieu, these regrets, these acclamations that were not dictated by adulation, but are inspired by devotion, as Napoléon sheds all of his power, these are the ones that will have the most impact in his heart.
Painful transition! The Emperor is now on an English vessel. There, he will also find nothing but consideration and signs of respect.
Eight or ten officers and other persons of the Emperor’s following did not arrive on the Bellerophon until late in the day. They had embarked on two small ships that had been prepared to sail to America before the Emperor had decided to accept the proposition of the English. When they were called up, after his decision, they were out of the Pertuis and out of sight from the cruisers.
Admiral Hotham arrived that same day, the 15th. He was bringing the vessel The Superb, and came to anchor next to the Bellerophon. The admiral soon came to visit the Emperor and invited him to go see his vessel the next day. That invitation was accepted. On board the Superb, the Emperor also received many tokens of respect. The admiral offered his vessel to take him to England. The Emperor did not take advantage of this offer, he would not have wanted to be disagreeable toward Captain Maitland and not recognize his respect and consideration. Admiral Hotham and Captain Maitland were sincere, without a doubt, but their procedures probably hid the irons prepared by the ministers.
The Bellerophon set sail on the 16th from the Basques harbor, immediately after the Emperor returned from the vessel Superb, and left for England with the corvette Myrmidon.
During the trip, Captain Maitland’s comments continued to be the same as they had been during the conference of the 14th, still inspiring total confidence. But on July 24, when they arrived at Torbay, the comments began to contradict the facts. The strict measures taken to prevent all communications were difficult to explain. It became even more difficult to justify what we heard about the mission of General Gourgaud.
On the 14th, before the Emperor had come on board the Bellerophon, it had been necessary to give him some confidence; it had been promised that General Gourgaud would be put on land when he arrived in England and would go to London immediately. When he arrived, he was not permitted to disembark. The captain of the Slaney jumps in his dinghy right away, and without any explanation, hurries to get on land and leaves for London. General Gourgaud is held on board the Slaney with the Emperor’s letter. This left no more doubts, it was evident that we were unworthily misled. They wanted the Emperor to be a prisoner, so they had to keep the letter from being taken by General Gourgaud to the Prince Regent, so that this letter as well as the audience given to general Gourgaud should not irrevocably establish Napoleon’s sacred rights to the hospitality of the English people.
However, at the news of his arrival, the local people came running and the local boats surrounded the Bellerophon during the two days we spent at Torbay.
On the 26th, we went to Plymouth. There, the measures taken to prevent all communications became stricter each day. There also, as it had been at Torbay, the eagerness of the people became more remarkable each day.
Soon, the public newspapers and other reports were in agreement, saying that the Emperor was to be transferred to Sainte-Hélène.
“That is impossible,” was his response. “I was not brought here by force of arms; I received an offer to come to England; I came to place myself under the protection of English laws; I asked for the sacred right to hospitality and the Prince Regent, who exercises sovereignty over the English people cannot refuse me.”
The news, however, continued to spread and with more credibility each day. It did not take long for people on the Bellerophon and other war ships, where several following officers were placed, to realize that at the same time as the Emperor would leave for Saint-Hélène, General Savary and I would be taken back to France.
The positive answers given to us in this regard by English officers having confirmed the suspicions that were gaining more consistency, we decided to write to Lord Melritte and Lord Bathurst. We did not expect results from these letters; we asked to be able to communicate with a lawyer; they refused. In spite of the strict supervision conducted around us, other letters were able to reach some English citizens whom we made aware of our situation, of the assurances we had been given by Captain Maitland, of our rights under the English nation and of our complaints addressed to the ministers.
After a few days of uncertainty, Lord Keith and Sir Henry Bunbury came to tell the Emperor that a decision by the English government was sending him to Sainte-Hélène. He voiced his opposition coming only from the strength of his soul, and protested with as much power as calm and dignity against this violation of his trust. Lord Keith and Sir Henry Bunbury answered that their order was only to inform him of the government’s decision and that they would give it his speech.
The note that was given to the Emperor mentioned that three of the officers who accompanied him could follow him to Sainte-Hélène. One article made an exception which specifically and expressly named General Savary and me from the number of those who were permitted to go. Immediately after the departure of Lord Keith and Sir Henry Bunbury, the Emperor said to me: “You are mentioned in the note that is being translated; you will be able to read it shortly.” M. de Las Cases was translating. The Emperor walked about and spoke calmly. He did not have the strength to speak of the frame-up that was menacing us. When the note was translated, he read it with great attention then handed it to me with a sign of pain, unable to utter a word.
Napoleon on the Bellerophon on his way to
England with his companions
“I can see, Sire, what this exception means, I said to him, after having read it; I did all I had to do, I have nothing to be sorry for; I have regrets only for my country and for Your Majesty who is more mistreated than I.” Hoping to give me the confidence he was not feeling himself, he told me that this decision could not be carried out, that it was too odious and too dishonorable.
We finally set sail to go meet up with the Northumberland and the Emperor was transferred to this vessel on the 6th of August. I went on board the vessel with him where I received his good-byes, after having spoken with him in the room that had been designated for him. I left him only when the vessel started to go and I had to leave.
Napoleon arriving to St Helena on unboard the English
battle-ship the Northumberland
The Emperor was showing much sensitivity regarding the situation in which he was leaving General Savary and me. “I am anxious, he said, to learn that the fears you have will not be realized. I cannot rest until I am certain that your days are secure. It is too painful for me to see them compromised, but I still hope. No matter how disloyal the conduct of the English government is towards me, I cannot believe that it indulges in such revolting barbaric treatment towards General Savary and you.”
The impression that I retain of this last conversation is still in its entirety in my soul; it will never be erased from it.
The Emperor was calm, I have never seen him more superior to destiny, greater and more worthy of himself. He seemed to totally forget about himself and think only of his companions of misfortune, his family, and France; He spoke of his mother and his sadness. His heart was agitated at the thought of his son and of the Empress. He spoke of them with tenderness. The expression of compassion had preserved all of the strength of his soul. His thoughts were raised enthusiastically toward France. “The schemers lost her; corrupt men made a mockery of her glory and independence; but I do not complain about the nation, she never ceased to be valiant and magnanimous.”