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British officer; refused permission to converse alone with his departing or exiled follower, Las Cases; the request that Sir Pulteney Malcolm would carry his acknowledgments to the Duke of Bedford and Lady Holland, for their occasional kindness, peremptorily declined; his wish to see the man who had brought to St. Helena a lock of his son's hair, unattended to—the natural desire of a father to obtain some news of his distant child, thus trampled on, and the most sacred rights of humanity scorned. All these details display the animus of the British Government and its agent in the strongest, clearest and most reprehensible light.
The same animus is constantly shown by our author, Sir Hudson Lowe's biographer and apologist, Forsyth, in his unvarying and laboured depreciation of all who exhibit any compassion for, or sympathy with, the dethroned Emperor, and in the slight notice which he takes of undeniable facts which he cannot explain away or excuse. He incessantly charges O'Mcara with malice; Las Cases with perversion; Montholon with "inveracity;" and Antommarchi with almost insane vanity, and with an unscrupulous resentment of his hurt amour-propre. Stokoe is denounced as '; a dangerous character," and Balcombe he considers justly expelled from the island. "The policy at Longwood" is ciiaracterized as "a policy of deception and intrigue," and Warden accused of having "concocted his story afterwards, and filled it with discrepancies and mistakes." In the same spirit he praises every one who has a.taunt or a sneer at the deposed sovereign, or a word of censure for his adherents. On this ground Henry, a subaltern dependant on Sir Hudson, is referred to as specially worthy of belief. Major Jackson, who "never heard any of the prisoners complain of Sir Hudson Lowe," is spoken of as high authority. Frenchmen themselves, taking this view, receive large laudation, of whom Maurel and Lamartine are among the most conspicuous. Even Gourgaud comes in for his share of eulogy. This wretch, angry with his master and benefactor for something which occurred in one of the domestic quarrels of that unhappy household, openly expressed to Bonaparte's enemies and jailors his disapprobation of his conduct, told many stories of him to gain their favour; and said, among other things, that he "would have confined the prisoners more closely than Sir Hudson Lowe had done." He it was who betrayed Capt. Poppleton's acceptance of a snuff-box from the Emperor. He manufactured tales about money and clandestine intercourse, and volunteered to expose "the exaggeration of the statements made concerning the ill health of Bonaparte." Now Forsyth, although he tells us that "Gen. Gourgaud either could not, or would not, point out any channel for the clandestine receipt of money, or give any names;" though he tells us that his own favourite authority, Colonel or Major Jackson, was of opinion, from the first, that "Gourgaud lied about money received;"—though he tells us that Goulburn wrote to Sir Hudson Lowe, that "Gourgaud gave to the Duchess of Parma an account of Bonaparte's health and treatment utterly at variance with all that he had previously stated to you and to me ;"—and, though he records the fact, that for this double treachery the traitor was sent away from England under the provisions of the Alien Act; yet he persists in speaking of these fables as "revelations," and " proofs incontestable," thus professing to rest upon the testimony of a witness whom he himself has utterly discredited.
Noticing Sir Hudson Lowe's capricious or discretionary departure from the letter of his instructions, Forsyth jocosely speaks of Bonaparte's serious protest against such caprice, as exhibitions of "his legal acumen." Napoleon contends, reasonably enough, that Bathurst and the Cabinet, who exercise authority over him of a delegated character under an Ordinance or Act of Parliament, cannot delegate such authority to Sir Hudson or any one else: Delegatus non potest delegare. And, again, when his companions in captivity are forbidden to ride where he js specially permitted, he argues, even more forcibly, that they are on the island with him, under an express and formal agreement to submit to the same restraints with himself, and no more. Indeed, all such restraints as applied to them separately, seem to us to have been purposeless, wanton and tyrannical.
It is scarcely worth our while to comment upon the severe
language of denunciation employed by Sir H. Lowe, and echoed continually by his partisan biographer, concerning O'Meara. We shall not undertake to vindicate the conduct of this individual, nor to establish his fairness and trustworthiness as a historian. The game would not be worth the candle. But even if every one of his details was shown to be coloured, and partial and bitter as is alleged, there is abundant proof of the general truthfulness of his story, to be extracted from the denials, defences and excuses here offered. Forsyth's anxiety to disprove the existence of hepatic disease in the case of Napoleon, is simply absurd. His motive evidently was to deprive O'Meara's statements of all weight, by presenting him as blundering and mistaken even professionally, and, at the same time, to establish against him the charge of voluntarily and persistently exaggerating the seriousness of his patient's indisposition, and so exciting in his behalf a dangerous pity and sympathy; placing him between the horns of a dilemma, either as being deceived by Bonaparte's malingering or lending himself to the attempt made to deceive others. Thus, both the sick man and the doctor are most injuriously and calum.niou.sly struck at. But no physician doubts that the illustrious patient laboured under a hepatic affection, though he did not die of "liver complaint ;" and though we may not attribute it, as he did, to the climate of St. Helena. Knowing, as we do, that all climates and localities are liable to endemic diseases, we should not think, even if it were correctly so attributed, that the fact was any reason for acceding to his wish for removal from that island, otherwise so well and reasonably selected, and of at least average salubrity.
Still greater stress is laid upon O'Meara's having given a pledge to the prisoner, not to report the minutiae of conversations held with him, and the charge founded thereon of treachery to his own government, and of a double treachery in the record actually made of such conversations, and the occasional communications of portions of them to personal friends. But nothing is more undefined, among gentlemen, than this line of confidential restriction upon private conversation, to which such familiar reference is made by Sir Hudson. Portions of the conversation held to-day, at every dinner table, will be most innocently and allowably repeated to-morrow in every social circle; other portions, though neither secret, nor in any way objectionable, will be of a nature to require a certain degree of reserve in the repetition. Such is the fact at all times and everywhere, in the free and confidential intercourse of refined and decorous society. We all know and feel that while the obligation to exercise a discreet reticence is-ever incumbent upon each of us, and that our responsibility is of the gravest and most delicate character, yet that nothing can be more unreasonable or impossible, than the conversion of every reunion into a free-mason's lodge or ft meeting of conspirators. It really seems to us that Sir Hudson Lowe had entertained the expectation of obtaining, through the peculiarly intimate and familiar relation of O'Menra with the illustrious invalid, some interesting "revelations," as Mr. Forsyth calls them, >vhen volunteered by the traitor Gourgaud, and that his disappointment in this particular exasperated him beyond all decorum or self-controul. Had O'Meara complied with his wishes, he would, indeed, have been an unworthy wretch, such as can rarely be found in the ranks of his deeply trusted profession. The allusions which he makes now and then to the foibles of his patients, are not, perhaps, defensible; nor do we feel disposed to censure them very heavily. It is impossible to be too reserved as to these matters. The denunciation thundered at him is, however, ridiculously exaggerated. Every one laughs at his friends in their presence, and among mutual friends, without offence. Yet this sort of freedf*^ usually pardonable and pardoned, has its nice limits, never to be transgressed but at the risk of the loss of friendships, and the substitution of personal enmities. No rules can be given; none would be observed among gentlemen, other than those which their own sentiments of propriety and delicacy must suggest; and the whole matter must be left just where it is now, under the government of responsible discretion, the sentiment of nice honour, and an ultimate appeal to the decisive judgment of enlightened and refined society.
We have already admitted the difficulty of separating the share of Sir Hudson Lowe, in the censure to be expressed as to the unworthy treatment of the dethroned and imprisoned Emperor, from that which is due to his employers of the British Government. This difficulty appears to have been keenly felt by the former, who is said to have manifested, more than once, the intention to shelter himself under the plea of obedience to instructions, from the storm of obloquy which roared around him. Every effort of this sort, however, met with prompt discouragement, and the fear to offend those in power, from whom he was always hoping for better and higher rewards for his dark services than he ever obtained, kept him from making any defence during his prolonged life of disappointment, mortification, and—it cannot be doubted—remorse. At this abstinence, Forsyth repeatedly and most naively announces his regret and wonder. Yet it is from him we learn that Bathurst advised Sir Hudson against the prosecution of any of the numerous "libels" against him, "because London juries are so uncertain in their verdicts;" and that he farther dissuaded him from attempting any reply to Sir Walter Scott's unfavourable representations.
A few examples may be referred to, as exhibiting, on the part of Sir Hudson Lowe, a marked degree of individual harshness, and presenting various shades of personal resentment and ill will, arrogance and bad temper. His first visit to his great prisoner was unannounced and intrusive; his second, so rude and abrupt as to shut out his predecessor, by whom he ought to have been introduced, and thus to give offence to both Admiral and Emperor. In correspondence with Montholon, he "occasionally acted on his own discretion," to use his own phrase, "and overlooked" the employment of the Imperial title; and again capriciously and offensively enforced the rule. He reprimanded and superseded Capt. Lutyens for merely receiving books, which Dr. Arnott took from the Library at Longwood and handed to him unreproved. With similar and cruel caprice, he refused Countess Montholon a passage direct to Europe, after having rewarded the base treachery of Gourgaud by such