June 23 1815: Haunted by Buonaparte

June 23. What times these are! How often lately has my mind been haunted by Buonaparte. How singularly success operates on our minds. When he was at Moscow, and it was burnt, one thought of him as a tremendous being. When he abdicated one felt a contempt. When he escaped and rushed to Paris, you imagined him like a comet. Now he is again beaten, one knows he will yet struggle, but yet one’s apprehension is gone. Really, one cannot think of Wellington & the British Troops without tears. Their constancy & firmness, his genius & prudence. Now will the Imperial Guard say again, ‘Napoleon n’etoit jamais battu’? I believe not.  Wellington will truly be considered by Posterity as the Saviour of the World’s intellect, for the age would have been brought back to ignorance & barbarism had the Demon succeeded in his despotic system. Great & Glorious Man, my heart beats when I think of him. I only fear he has not a sympathetic heart, and he is not capable of feeling the sensations he excites in others.

I have heard he is now exceedingly affected at losing so many friends. He says nothing but seems exceedingly touched. I shall be happy if it is so. This is only what he wants to render him interesting.

— Benjamin Robert Haydon, writes in his diary for June 23 1815.

(The painting above is by Haydon.)

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