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PRE FACE

When Mr. Murray first proposed to place in my hands the papers of the late Sir Hudson Lowe in order that I might undertake the present work, after some consideration I declined the task, chiefly on grounds of a professional nature. For the Law is a jealous mistress, and recognizes no half-hearted or divided allegiance. But the proposal was again pressed upon me in so flattering a manner, that I was induced to reconsider my decision. I reflected that the subject was one for the due treatment of which my profession in some degree qualified me, as the value of the work must mainly depend upon the mode in which evidence is handled, and conflicting statements are discussed. The habit which a Lawyer acquires of sifting evidence, is one which he may usefully apply in the solution of historical questions, as well as in forensic disputes. But he must be on his guard, and remember that he betrays the office of an Historian if he assumes the tone of an Advocate. When I commenced the present volumes, I made as it were a covenant with myself, that I would, in the language of our courts, "well and truly try the question at issue between the parties, and a true verdict give according to the evidence." I was not asked to make out a case for Sir Hudson Lowe, nor, had I been asked to do so, would I have consented. I regarded the duty of examining the papers left by him as a solemn trust for the due and truthful discharge of which I was responsible to the public, and a still more searching tribunal, my own conscience. Amicus Socrates, amicus Plato, sed magis amica Veritas.

The present narrative has been written amidst the claims of a laborious profession, during the periods which otherwise would have been given to relaxation. I do not say this to deprecate criticism, for it is undoubtedly true that no author ought voluntarily to undertake what he does not think he can fairly execute. I merely state the facts.

As to the style and manner in which I have performed the task it is not for me to judge. That question will be decided by the public for themselves, and every writer must submit himself to their impartial opinion, from which there is no appeal. But I do claim for myself the right to be believed when I assert that the present volumes have been written with the most minute and scrupulous regard to truth. I had to deal with an enormous mass of papers, and selection and curtailment were inevitable; but I have not kept back one single fact or expression which, whether it told for the one side or the other, could by possibility throw light upon the great question at issue. And for this reason I have sometimes introduced matter which might well have been omitted, if my sole object had been to interest or amuse the reader, and not to state the whole case. The reader will not fail to observe inaccuracies of expression and mistakes of grammar in the letters and documents quoted, but I did not think myself at liberty to make any alteration for the purpose of correction, except now and then with respect to some mere clerical error. I have used the orthography “Bonaparte," although there is no doubt that the name was originally and properly written“ Buonaparté;" but Napoleon dropped the u, and modern usage has sanctioned the change.' Lord Bathurst, in his correspondence with Sir Hudson Lowe, usually wrote “Buonaparte," but sometimes “ Bonaparte” or “ Bonaparte." If the language in which I have frequently spoken

Seo on this subject O'Meara's “Voice from St. Helena," vol. ii. p. 93, and “Quarterly Review," vol. Ixviji. p. 254.

of O'Meara seems severe, let the reader, before it is condemned, consider whether it has not been deserved. I am not one of those who think that such conduct as he has been guilty of in slandering others may be sufficiently censured in the dulcet tones of gentle animadversion. He merits a sterner and more fearless judgment. Such writers are the pests of literature. They corrupt the stream of history by poisoning its fountains, and the effect of his work has been to mislead all succeeding authors, and perpetuate a tale of falsehood.

As regards Napoleon, if I know any thing of myself, my sympathies were in his favor. I can not now sufficiently express my admiration of his genius; but neither can I blind myself to the fact that he did not exhibit in misfortune that magnanimity without which there is no real greatness, and that he concentrated the energies of his mighty intellect on the ignoble task of insulting the Governor of St. Helena, and manufacturing a case of hardship and oppression for himself. I have endeavored to hold the balance even, and it is not the weight of prejudice, but of facts, which has made one of the scales preponderate.

Let me now say a few words respecting the materials I have used. And here I can not do better than quote the late Sir Hudson Lowe's own account of the papers in his possession, which he drew up when he contemplated a publication of them in his lifetime; a design, however, which unfortunately for his reputation, he failed to execute. He says—"There are perhaps few, if any, public administrations of any kind, of which the records are so full and complete as those of my Government at St. Helena. There is not only a detailed correspondence addressed to the proper department of His Majesty's Government, reporting the occurrences of almost every day during the five years that Napoleon Bonaparte remained under my custody, but the greater part of the conversations held with Bonaparte himself, or with his followers, was immediately noted down with an ability and exactness which reflect the highest credit on my Military Secretary [Major Gorrequer). This gentleman was not only a perfect master of the French language, but possessed a memory equally remarkable for its accuracy and tenacity, and was therefore eminently qualified to report the conversations at which he was himself present, and to detect any error to which a misapprehension of the meaning of foreigners might lead other persons who repeated what passed at interviews with Bonaparte and his followers.

I have had access to a vast number of original dispatches of Earl Bathurst, who was Secretary of State for the Colonies while Napoleon was at St. Helena, and to the originals or copies of every important document connected with the subject. Thirty folio vol. umes are filled with copies of correspondence and other writings, carefully made under the direction of Sir Hudson Lowe, who seems to have treasured a memorial of almost every incident, however trivial, connected with that important period of his life. In addition to these, there are several large boxes which contain manuscripts, chiefly copies, relating to the same events, all of which have been diligently examined for the purpose of the present work. Two sets of copies of O'Meara's letters to Mr. Finlaison, so frequently quoted in the narrative, were placed in my hands; but I wish distinctly to state that I have not seen the originals. One of these sets was made officially at the time when the letters were communicated through the Admirality to the Cabinet, as will be explained in the course of the narrative, and their correctness can not for a moment be doubted.

It only remains that I should make an acknowledg. ment for the assistance I have received. The Lowe papers were originally placed, some years ago, in the hands of the late Sir Harris Nicolas, with a view to publication under his auspices as editor. He underwent the heavy labor of arranging them, and before his death had proceeded so far as to have a voluminous mass of documents set up in type, down to the date of September, 1817. His plan, however, was to print almost every letter and other manuscript at full length in chronological order, connecting them with a slender thread of explanatory remark. The consequence would have been that if his plan had been carried out the work must have consisted of eight or nine closely printed octavo volumes, the price of which would have rendered them inaccessible to the public generally. Moreover, the interest of the subject was suffocated under a mass of minute detail, which would have bewildered the attention and exhausted the patience of the reader. I, therefore, after full consideration, resolved to re-write the work, and adopt a wholly different plan. I thought that the only mode of doing justice to the importance of the subject was to make use of the letters and documents as materials for the narrative, and treat them as the hewn stones out of which the fabric of a history was to be constructed, instead of piling them in a heap with little regard to architectural symmetry and effect. But I most willingly and gladly admit my obligations to Sir Harris Nicolas in having gone through the drudgery of a thorough examination of the papers, the mere sight of which was enough to appall a writer and deter him from undertaking the task of editing them. His labors have greatly assisted and lightened mine, nor do I know that I should have had the courage to commence the work if he had not paved the way by rendering the materi. als more manageable under my hands. Moreover, I am much indebted to him for the careful collation he had made of references and authorities, in which I have generally found him scrupulously correct. I thought that the public would rather have a history than a mere collection of documents, but that in a work like this, which must challenge hostile criticism on the part of those who are determined to believe the calumnies which have so long had currency respecting

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