July 25 1815: Napoleon Shows Himself

During the 25th of July, the concourse of people round the ship was greater than the day before, and the anxiety of the Frenchmen was considerably augmented by the confidence with which the newspapers spoke of the intention to remove Buonaparte to St Helena. In the afternoon, he walked above an hour on deck, frequently stood at the gangway, or opposite to the quarter-deck ports, for the purpose of giving the people an opportunity of seeing him, and, whenever he observed any well-dressed women, pulled his hat off, and bowed to them.

At dinner he conversed as usual, was inquisitive about the kinds of fish produced on the coast of England, and ate part of a turbot that was at table, with much relish. He then spoke of the character of the fishermen and boatmen on our coast, saying, “They are generally smugglers as well as fishermen; at one time a great many of them were in my pay, for the purpose of obtaining intelligence, bringing money over to France, and assisting prisoners of war to escape. They even offered, for a large sum of money, to seize the person of Louis, and deliver him into my hands; but as they could not guarantee the preservation of his life, I would not give my consent to the measure.”

— Captain Maitland of H.M.S. Bellerophon writes about July 25 1815.

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