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presence of Commissioners of the Allied Powers, some of whom were instructed to see him, and all of them to inform themselves of his mode of safe-keeping and circumstances of living; thus transforming him into a prisoner of state. Nevertheless, she managed to retain her exclusive possession of the great captive, who had cost her so much money and so much blood, and who had struck for many successive years such vehement blows against her vital interests, her commercial and manufacturing supremacy. She chose, therefore, to continue to him the character of a prisoner of war, and by all oblique methods to repel the interference of the Commissioners, who were made to feel that their supervision was inconvenient, incongruous and absurd, and who indeed left the Island, after various terms of residence, without having personally encountered him on any occasion. Nor was this all. Modern civilization has established the existence of certain rights, definable and undefinable, belonging even to the most atrocious criminal. He may be sequestered before death, and doomed to die, but no unnecessary inflictions must, in the meanwhile, be practiced upon him. If he is made to suffer in any manner unnecessarily; if, in mind or body, he be painfully wrought upon beyond the contingencies essential to the protection of society, supposed to require his seclusion or removal, guilt is unquestionably incurred by the parties responsible. Society regards with a just and well regulated sentiment all the circumstances of every individual case, absolutely and relatively. The settled usage demands different treatment of the different ranks of men. The Admiral or Field Marshal is not submitted to the same mode of safe-keeping as the common sailor or the private soldier. The position in which these officers would be placed in what is called strict durance, severe captivity, might be luxurious life to the inhabitant of the forecastle and the knapsack-bearer. If a rule were laid down in words, to express theoretically the customs recognized as binding upon enemies in civilized and Christian warfare, it would be this—that each prisoner should be allowed to hold, as nearly as possible, the same social position as befoiv his capture or surrender, with the necessary restrictions upon his freedom of action added. Practically, it is true, every prisoner must expect to endure a great descent into unknown discomforts; but, as far as this is unavoidable, the fortune of war is borne without a murmur by men of ordinary resolution, and complaints are only made and listened to, when the charge of unnecessary severity is justly urged by the sufferer.
These points being taken into fair consideration, public sentiment, as we said above, has pronounced itself with remarkable decision and unanimity as to the imprisonment of Napoleon Bonaparte at St. Helena. The British Government has been accused and found guilty of gratuitous harshness in her treatment of her illustrious captive. Her agent, the military Governor of the Island, has been universally regarded as a tyrannical jailor, who not only carried out in full detail the views of the administration which, with perfect knowledge of his character, selected him for a most unenviable position, but actually exceeded his instructions, and wantonly and capriciously tortured his victim, through six long years of oppression and despondency.
Mr. Forsyth, in the volumes before us, has now appealed to the present generation and to posterity, from this deliberate and long-confirmed judgment of the contemporaries of the parties concerned ; and, in his Life of Sir Hudson Lowe, has not only endeavoured vainly to "wash the blackamoor white," and make a new character for his hero, but incidentally to defend his government and its proceedings, and to cover with ignominy the memories of all who, at any time, or in any mode, expressed any feeling of pity for the captives.
"Dat veniam corvis; vexat censura columbas."
In the same spirit—shall we call it simplicity, unconsciousness, dull stolidity or sheer hypocrisy ?—Sir Hudson Lowe, just as the wretched Emperor surrendered a life embittered by his despotic annoyance for so many tedious years, exclaimed to one of his myrmidons—" He was England's greatest enemy and mine also ; but 1 forgive him /"
Mr. Forsyth's professional experience has enabled him to throw a cloud over certain points brought under discussion, and so to claim a modification of the received opinions concerning them. This he does sometimes by ingenious special pleading, but oftener by the familiar, though disreputable course, followed so ably by Phillips at the trial of Courvoisier, of blackening the character of all whom he opposes, or whose testimony is in any sense adverse- The caged eagle is fierce and sullen; and with plumage ruffled and bloodshot eye, strikes with beak and talon even the hand that would soothe him. The French, so kindly permitted to share the bonds of their master, are uncourteous, gluttonous, deceitful. The medical officers are ignorant, easily imposed on and untrustworthy. But we must protest against this method of defence, and insist on the principle, that the character of the prisoner or criminal and his accomplices, no matter how bad, does not justify cruelty or caprice in the keeper, who must not inflict upon whomsoever any unnecessary hardship. If the executioner will have the pound of flesh, he must take care that no drop of blood shall follow the use of his knife.
It is almost impossible to separate in our inquiry the employer and his agent; to say where the offence against humanity was ascribable to the Government, and where to Sir Hudson Lowe; but, in the examination of every specific charge, we shall find in the proceedings of this functionary a disposition to construe his instructions in the harshest meaning ; a promptness to carry out the views of the ministry in the most stringent manner; a readiness to do all that they could require of him, obvious from the first; a state of mind more manifest as he grew more and more resentful of the conduct of his prisoners, and of the chief among them, "his greatest enemy,'1 as he styled him after his death. These feelings at last transcended all controul, and he sought their gratification in a multiplied and capricious variety of inflictions.
Such is the deliberate conclusion of Sir Walter Scott, an honest hater of France and Frenchmen, who in his loyal anxiety to diminish the odium which he was aware his country had incurred for her treatment of her fallen foe, perhaps throws somewhat too deep a shade on the conduct of our hero. Such is the judgment pronounced by Alison, who, in his dignified character of historian, gives expression to all the common-place prejudices of the Tory party. Such, also, is the opinion of Lamartine, who, Frenchman as he is, almost forgives England the victory of Waterloo, as the avenger of republicanism upon its Imperial destroyer. Vain is the hope of Forsyth to. change this universal sentiment; vain every effort to reverse the judgment so long pronounced—to erase the stain so indelibly fixed upon the character of the Governor of St. Helena and the renown of proud EnglandIt is not to be imagined that any of those who approach the subject shall feel now, or indeed that they ever felt, a serious interest in the first of these topics: all Englishmen are jealous of the latter, and it is only because of their intimate connection that the former is ever discussed at all.
But is there any thing effectual in the defence here offered by Mr. Forsyth? Does he disprove the charges against Great Britain—that she took foul advantage of her illustrious adversary: that her treatment of him was needlessly harsh, and, therefore, unjust and cruel: that she was morbidly jealous of all observation of her conduct, showing thereby a consciousness of wrong: that she rejected tenaciously all compassionate or kindly notice of her prisoner, and punished to the extremity all interference which had in view the alleviation of his sufferings and that of his attendants: that she added insult to injury by persisting to refuse him the rank which his ambition had coveted, and his superior force of character had merited and won; and by subjecting him to annoyances, such as belonged to a station of life from which he had long emerged, and to which she had no imaginable right to reduce him again: and that she degraded him still farther and more inexcusably by confounding his relations to her, and thus establishing a pretext for the denial of any definite rights, personal or other, that might be claimed as appertaining to any specific position, such as freedom from intrusion, choice of associates, and the like? Does he disprove the charges against his hero, Sir Hudson Lowe, that becoming willingly the agent of his government, in a capacity that a man of nice honour and gentlemanly delicacy would never have sought, and would only have consented to fill as a point of most obligatory duty, he carried out not only fully, but eagerly and superfluously, the most injurious and burdensome of the regulations instituted: that he took a malicious pleasure in the employment of all the numerous and varied modes of annoyance which he possessed: that he frequently indulged feelings of hatred, and vented his anger against helpless captives: that he discouraged every exhibition of pity and hu: mane condolence with them, from whatever quarter, and favoured every one who manifested the opposite disposition to taunt or offend them? From the very volumes before us, and without reference to the abundant stores of contemporary writings, from which we might draw an indefinite amount of confirmation, we proceed to show, in brief compass, the truth of these several charges above enumerated.
No one will or can deny, that while Napoleon u ;i* still free upon the soil of France, overrun as she was by a horde of barbarians from the banks of the Danube and the Don, .there was every possibility, if not strong probability, of the protraction of a ferocious contest. His military talent, the prestige of his great name, the very energy of despair in the conquered, threatened an unknown series of evils, and would have justified the European powers in offering him fair terms of surrender. Or, he might have escaped, and thus kept the Holy Alliance and the world in a state of suspense, and have cost them large sums in military preparations against his future movements. To impugn the truth of these statements, would be absolutely inconsistent with all the future conduct and precautions of Great Britain. If she put forth as reasonable grounds for her subsequent close jailorship, her removal of her prisoner as far as possible from the seat of his former power, her system of prying intrusion into his domestic privacy, the seclusion even of his sick-room and chamber of death, her prohibition of social intercourse with all around him, except under most offensive and intolerable restrictions; if she justify herself in all this, by dwelling upon the chances of his escape and its terrible consequences—his escape from St. Helena, a rock in the midst of