January 14 1815: Napoleon “Nous Verrons!”

On January 14 1815,  after Neil Campbell’s  return to Elba, he has an interview with Napoleon, and writes:

During my absence, accounts had been received at  Porto Eerrajo that many Italian officers, including some generals, had been arrested at Milan, and that General Koller had gone there from Vienna.

In the first interview I had with Napoleon after my return (January 14), he asked many questions as to the nature of the charge against those officers. I told him that I had no knowledge beyond the public reports at Genoa, which ascribed their arrest to the discovery of a plot against the Austrian Government ; and it was moreover stated that the information as to their plans had been given by Murat. He said repeatedly, ‘On ne trouvera rien centre moi. Au moins, on ne trouvera pas que je sois compromis du tout.” [translation:” They will not find anything against me. At least, they will not find that I am at all compromised.”]

These expressions, as well as the whole tenour of his conversation upon the subject, bore evident marks of anxiety. He did not believe, he added, that these persons were guilty of any crime, but that it was merely a pretext of the Austrian Government, in order to confine them, and then remove them out of Italy.

He then spoke of the statements which had appeared in some of the newspapers respecting his removal to St. Helena or St. Lucia, in a way which showed his belief in them, said he would not consent to being transported from Elba, but would resist the attempt by force to the last. ‘Avant cela il faut faire une breche dans mes fortifications. Nous verrons!” [translation: Before that, they will have to make a breach in my fortifications. We shall see!’] I told him I did not believe these stories, which had no foundation beyond vague report.

He has lately placed detachments of his Guards in two advanced works of considerable strength, which were erected a few years ago to retard the approach to the fortifications of Porto Ferrajo in case of a siege.

He asked me, with a kind of suspicious curiosity, whether I had met with any of the ships of war belonging to Louis XVIII., which have lately cruised off Corsica and Elba. He repeated his invectives against the present governor of Corsica,^ asserting that an assassin, sent by him, was lately landed in Elba from one of these same Frenchmen-of-war; that the gendarmes were in search of him, and he would undoubtedly be apprehended; that the crews of these ships were attached to himself, and gave him intelligence of everything which passed in the squadron. He appeared much agitated, and impressed with a belief in the truth of what he stated. In reply, I assured him that I did not believe for a moment that the Bourbons were capable of sending emissaries to make attacks upon his life, and that if I became aware of any circumstance which could induce me to suspect anything of the kind, I would lose no time in acquainting him with it.

His brig returned here from Civita Vecchia last night, having touched by the way at Naples and Corsica. She failed in procuring any grain.

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