April 18 1815: Zealous Buonapartist

April 18th.—Called on Anthony Robinson. He was vehemently abusive of the allies, and angrily strenuous for peace. I had a difficulty in keeping my temper, but when he was spent he listened to me. It seems in fact that, after all, if the question were peace or war with Buonaparte, we must conclude in favour of peace; but the question is, war by us now in France, or by him two years hence in Germany—and then surely the answer must be for war with him now. At the same time the prospect is tremendous, if we are to have war; for how are our resources to endure, which seem now nearly exhausted?

— Henry Crabb Robinson writes in his diary for April 18 1815.

April 17 1815: Zealous Anti-Buonapartist

April 17th.—Spent the forenoon in the Hall, without interest. The Court rose early, and I walked homewards with Burrell. He is a zealous anti-Buonapartist, and on high principles. It is a pleasure to talk with so noble-minded a man. He observed that Buonaparte, if sincere, could not possibly remain a friend to peace. Like Satan, when peace was restored, ease would lead him to recant “vows made in pain, as violent and void.” It is contrary to human nature that such a mind could ever rest in tranquillity.

—  Henry Crabb Robinson writes in his diary for April 17 1815.

April 16 1815: Hobhouse Sees Napoleon

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On April 16 1815, John Cam Hobhouse sees Napoleon. He describes Napoleon in his diary and also in a letter to Lord Byron.  In his  diary, he writes, in part, as follows:

I had for some time a most complete opportunity of contemplating this extraordinary being [Napoleon]. His face is the very counterpart of Sir James Craufurd the runaway, and when he speaks he has the same retraction of his lips as that worthy baronet. His face is of a deadly pale – his jaws do overhang, but not so much as I had heard – his hair is short of a dark dusky brown. The lady in the Tuileries told me the soldiers called him “notre petit tondu”. He is not fat in the upper part of his body, but his abdomen swells out very much, so much that his shirt appeared – he looks short. He has the habit of chewing like Kean,85 and like Byron, of whom he much reminded me. He generally stood with his hands knit behind him, or folded before him – but sometimes played with his nose, picking it decently; three or four times took snuff out of a plain brown box, once looked at his watch, which, by the way had a gold face, and I think a brown hair chain like an English one. He seems to have a labouring in his chest, having the air of sighing or swallowing his spittle – he spit out once. His teeth seemed regular, but not clean. He very seldom spoke, but when he did, smiled in some sort agreeably. He looked about him, not knitting but joining his eyebrows. He caught my eye, and soon withdrew his gaze – naturally enough the first, I having only him to look at, he having some 20,000. (Berg Collection Volume 3: Broughton Holograph Diaries, Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.) Continue reading

April 15 1815: An Argument Over Napoleon

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On April 15 1815, Henry Crabb Robinson and William Hazlitt have a heated argument about Napoleon. Robinson writes in his diary:

April 15th — I called at the Colliers’, and finding that Miss Lamb was gone to Alsager’s, from whom I had an invitation, I also went. There was a rather large party, and I stayed till near two o’clock, playing”whist ill, for which I was scolded by Captain Burncy, and debating with Hazlitt, in which I was also unsuccessful, as far as the talent of the disputation was involved, though Hazlitt was wrong, as well as offensive, in almost all he said. When pressed, he does not deny what is bad in the character of Buonaparte. And yet he triumphs and rejoices in the late events. Hazlitt and myself once felt alike on politics. And now our hopes and fears are directly opposed. He retains all his hatred of kings and bad governments, and believing them to be incorrigible, he, from a principle of revenge, rejoices that they are punished. I am indignant to find the man who might have been their punisher become their imitator, and even surpassing them all in guilt. Hazlitt is angry with the friends of liberty for weakening their strength by joining with the common foe against Buonaparte, by which the old governments are so much assisted, even in their attempts against the general liberty. I am not shaken by this consequence, because I think, after all, that, should the governments succeed in the worst projects imputed to them, still the evil will be infinitely less than that which would arise from Buonaparte’s success. I say, ” Destroy him, at any rate, and take the consequences.” Hazlitt says, “Let the enemy of the old tyrannical governments triumph, and I am glad, and do not much care how the new government turns out.” Not that I am indifferent to the government which the successful kings of Europe may establish, or that Hazlitt has lost all love for liberty, but that his hatred and my fears predominate and absorb all weaker impressions. This I believe to be the great difference between us.

April 14 1815: Wellington Staff Complaints

“I have had the honor of receiving your Royal Highness’s letter of the 8th instant, regarding Colonel . I have already informed Colonel that it was not in my power to employ him upon the Staff.

The army is very small and the Staff very numerous, and I cannot find employment for those already belonging to it. I am sorry, therefore, that he should have given your Royal Highness the trouble of writing to me on a subject on which he knows that if I could have gratified him I would have done so, without the aid of your Royal Highness’s powerful influence.”

— Duke of Wellington writes to His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, April 14 1815. Continue reading

April 13 1815: Buonaparte’s Downfall

On April 13 1815, The Prince De Talleyrand, in Vienna,  writes to King Louis XVIII.

SIRE, As Buonaparte has made himself master of Paris, the powers consider that it might be advisable to renew by a second declaration, the manifestation of the sentiments expressed in that of the I3th of March. There is every reason to believe, that with the exception of a few individuals, every one in France of whatever shade of opinion, desires the same thing, the downfall of Buonaparte. It would be well therefore to utilize this general feeling, in order to annihilate him. This object once accomplished, the particular opinions of each party will find themselves without support, without strength, and without means of action, and will no longer present any obstacles. Continue reading