August 18 1815: Napoleon Continues to Talk


 “We had fine weather, with light winds from the westward.

The brig I sent to Guernsey, joined us again this day, which enabled me to give to General Buonaparte some French papers and gazettes, which she brought. He told me in the evening that the ‘Presidents des Departments et des Arrondissements,’ appointed by the King, were with very few exceptions the same persons he should himself have placed in such situations.

In the course of our conversation, he talked much of the late Queen of Naples; and said he had had much correspondence with her, both when she was in Sicily and in Naples. His general advice to her, was to remain quiet, and not to intermeddle with the arrangements of the greater powers of Europe.

By letters he had received from his wife, he learnt, that after the Queen of Naples had returned to Vienna, she had been very kind to his son; and that in a conversation she had with his wife, she had asked her why she did not follow her husband to Elba. Maria Louisa answered, that she wished to do so, but that her father and mother would not allow it, &c. The Queen of Naples then desired to know if she really loved him. Maria Louisa answering in the affirmative, and speaking further in his favour, the Queen said to her: ‘My child, when one has the happiness to be married to such a man, papas and mammas should not keep her away from him, whilst there are windows and streets, by which an escape to him might be effected.’

If there be any truth in his account of this letter written by the Arch-Duchess while he was at Elba, it will tend to prove that she entertained some idea of his restoration to power. For were she (as he would infer) really attached to him, she would, (I think,) sooner have attempted following the advice of the Queen of Naples, than to have written about it.

During the conversation, he told me he considered the Russians and Poles to be decidedly a braver race of people than any other Europeans, excepting the French and English; and in particular, very far superior to the Austrians. He said that the Emperor of Austria had neither abilities nor firmness of character; that the King of Prussia was un pauvre bete; that the Emperor Alexander was a more active and clever man than any of the other Sovereigns of Europe, but that he was extremely false.

He asked me if I was aware, that when in friendship with him, at Erfurth, he had signed with him a joint letter to the King of England, to request that his Majesty would relinquish the right of maritime restriction of neutrals.

He said Russia was much to be feared, if Poland was not preserved as an independent nation, to be a barrier between that empire (which was already able to call forth such hordes of soldiers) and the rest of Europe. But, that whatever might be decided on this subject at the Congress, he did not think Russia would succeed in making Poland an appendage to the Empire: as the Poles were too brave, and too determined, ever to be brought to submit quietly, to what they considered a personal disgrace and a national degradation.

The General spoke in high terms of the King of Saxony, and affirmed that he was the only Sovereign who had kept faith with him to the last. He mentioned to me, also, that after his arrival at Paris from Elba, he had received assurances both from the King of Spain and from the Portuguese, that whatever appearances they might be forced to make, he might depend on their not taking any active offensive part against him.
He talked to me of many of the principal characters in England; and stated particularly the high respect he entertained for the late Lord Cornwallis, whose manners and behaviour at Amiens, he adverted to as being most noble and honorable, both to himself and his country. Mr Fox was spoken of in equal terms of panegyric; he observed that he had had much conversation with him when he was in France. Several other persons in England were mentioned, but not in so flattering a strain as those I have named. He told me he had formed a great friendship for Captain Usher, who conveyed him to Elba; he hoped to have seen him at Paris; that he had confidently looked for a visit from him there, and was much disappointed at his not coming to see him in his prosperity, as he had commenced acquaintance with him in his adversity.

Buonaparte informed me this evening, likewise, that he had gained possession of a Correspondence from a foreign Royal Personage of high consideration in England, which spoke very disrespectfully of different branches of our royal family, and that he had been on the point of publishing those letters in the Moniteur, but had desisted, or rather recalled them from the publisher at the earnest intercession of, and from consideration towards, the person by whose means he obtained them.

Our latitude and longitude, to-day, was 40° 50′ N. and 11° 20′ W.”

— Sir George Cockburn on the HMS Northumberland writes in his diary for August 17 1815.

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