July 27 1815: Napoleon on English Women

“In the afternoon [on July 27 1815] Sir Richard and Lady Strachan, accompanied by Mrs Maitland, came alongside the ship. Buonaparte was walking the deck, and, when I told him my wife was in the boat, he went to the gangway, pulled off his hat, and asked her if she would not come up and visit him. She shook her head; and I informed him, that my orders were so positive, I could not even allow her to come on board. He answered, “C’est dur, ça.” “That is very hard.” And addressing himself to her, “Milord Keith est un peu trop sevère; n’est-ce pas, Madame?” “Lord Keith is a little too severe; is he not, Madam?” He then said to me, “Ma foi, son portrait ne la flatte pas; elle est encore plus jolie que lui.” “I assure you her portrait is not flattering; she is handsomer than it is.” I told him Sir Richard Strachan was in the boat with her, and that he was second in command of the Channel fleet: he bowed to him, and said, “He appears a very young man to hold so high a rank.”

There were this day a great many boats round the ship, full of people, among which were a number of well-dressed females. He expressed himself in strong terms of admiration of the beauty of the English women, and was desirous of knowing which were the ladies,—”les dames comme il faut,” as he termed it; as they were all so well dressed that he could not distinguish them.”

— Captain Maitland of H.M.S. Bellerophon writes about July 27 1815.

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