February 11 1816: Solitude of St. Helena


“February 11. It was a calm and beautiful Sabbath. The sun shone serenely upon the solitude of St. Helena. In the afternoon the Emperor walked out with several of his companions, and remarked upon the peacefulness and loneliness of the scene. “We can not, at least,” said he, “be accused of dissipation, or of the ardent pursuit of pleasure.” “The Emperor,” says Las Casas, “endures this mode of life admirably. He surpasses us all in equanimity and serenity of temper. He says himself that it would be difficult to be more philosophic and tranquil than he is. He retires to bed at ten o’clock, and does not go out before five or six in the afternoon, so that he is never more than four hours out of doors, like a prisoner who is led from his cell once a day to breathe the fresh air. But then how intense is the occupation of each day! how various are the thoughts which occupy his mind!” “With regard to mental exertion,” said the Emperor, “I feel as capable of bearing it as I have ever been. I never feel any exhaustion or weariness. I am astonished myself at the slight impression of all the great events of which I have lately been the object. They are as lead which has glided over marble. Weight may compress a spring, but can not break it. It rises again with its own elasticity. I do not think that any one in the world knows better than myself how to yield to necessity. This is the true empire of reason, the true triumph of the soul.”

—  Napoleon at St. Helena: Or, Interesting Anecdotes and Remarkable Conversations of the Emperor By John Stevens Cabot Abbott

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