TWO MEMOIRS INVOLVING ACCOUNTS OF NAPOLEON.*
ADMIRAL WOLSELEY, a distinguished sailor, the subject of this memoir, was born in 1756, two years before Lord Nelson, under whom he subsequently served. He lived to take part in the funeral procession of George IV. ; he survived William IV.; he saw the first five years of Queen Victoria's reign. No man could have lived through a more eventful period in the history of this country. It is to be regretted that he did not leave fuller materials for his biographer. Miss limes, his grand-daughter, has endeavoured to supple- ment from other sources the scanty notes of his life written or dictated by the AdmiraL Campbell's Naval History of Great Britain, Sonthey's Life of Nelson, Brenton's Naval History of Great Britain from 1733 to 1836 are but a few of the authorities she has relied on. Nor are these writers merely quoted as authorities. Long extracts, many extending over several pages, are introduced, often, it must be confessed, without much reference to the subject of the memoir. Such " padding " (for that is the only word) greatly detracts from the merit of the work. Still there are a few interesting things in the volume.
The Admiral came of an old Staffordshire family, of the same stock as his name-sake, the new Commander-in-Chief. He began his naval career at the age of twelve, serving for two years as a midshipman. After this, his ship having been paid off, he was put to school again at a Mr. Waddington's, who kept a naval school in Downing Street, Westminster. He took part in the remarkable naval war in the East which preserved the Indian Empire to the English. He was present at the taking of Toulon, where Bonaparte first distinguished himself, and later at the operations in Corsica. The Gulf of Fiorenzo in that island was defended by a remarkable fort or tower, named Martello, after its designer, a Monsieur Martel. "After possession bad been taken of the tower, Captain Wolseley went to inspect it, and was so struck by the peculiar construction of the little fortress that be took a plan of it, which was forwarded to the British Government, and soon after the " Martell° " towers on our own coasts were con- structed." After the taking of Bastia, where the garrison vastly outnumbered the besiegers, Nelson remarked, "I was always of opinion, have ever acted up to it, and never had any reason to repent it, that one English man was equal to three Frenchmen." This is truly the English Jingo spirit! The three letters from Nelson to Wolseley are of small interest beyond showing the great man's contempt for, or ignorance of, the use of punctuation and capital letters.
From 1795 to 1799 Wolseley (much against his will) was left unemployed. His inability to obtain command of a ship is attributed by his biographer to a private quarrel between Lord Hood, who was assiduous in urging his claims, and Lord Spencer, who was then at the Admiralty. At length, by particular request of Lord Nelson, Captain Wolseley was appointed to the 'San Josef.' She was the largest ship in • (1.) A Memoir of Witliain Wolseley. By his Grand-daughter, Nary O. Ines. London : Began Paul and Co.—(2.) Napoleon's Last Voyages. London: T. Fisher Unwire.
our Navy ; a three-decker of 2,457 tons, and carried 112 guns and a crew of 917 men and boys. She was one of two vessels captured from the Spaniards by Nelson at the battle of Cape St. Vincent. It was upon this occasion that Nelson, as he led the boarding party, made use of the memorable exclamation, " Westminster Abbey or Victory ! "
• In our opinion, the most interesting things in the volume are two letters from the Admiral's son, John Wolseley, who was serving on board the Superb,' the companion of the Bellerophon,' when Napoleon surrendered himself to the English. The following passages are extracts :-
" On Sunday he [that is Napoleon] came on board of us to a clejeune at 10 o'clock. We manned yards for him and received him with every demonstration of respect and honour. He then went round the ship and looked at everything. Nothing appeared to escape him. We were all presented to him by his own request. He is very short and very fat, and was, consequently, much tired with walking up and down the ladders He appeared extremely affable, and asked a great many questions ; once he inquired of the Admiral if we were not rather disappointed in the American War. It struck me he was in full possession of that talent so much esteemed by soldiers, called the military coup d'rea (I believe), for a rapid glance at the objects around him appeared to satisfy him fully as to their condition and position. He was plain in his dress, and did not seem depressed in spirits by his
misfortunes I believe I told you Nap. always makes use of an opera-glass, and has such insinuating manners and such an air, that while looking at him you cannot but feel something of admiration and respect which makes you forget his former crimes. I can call it nothing but a species of fascination, if I may be allowed
the expression for a man He pays high compliments to our infantry [at Waterloo], and to the Scots Greys, though he thinks his cavalry upon the whole superior to ours. He says, had he had English infantry he would have gained the day. He wishes to make out that be had only 55,000 men actually en- gaged, of which number he lost 25,000. If Grouchy had occupied the ground he had ordered, we were to have lost the battle He allows that Lord Wellington is equally as good a General as himself, and has more prudence. This is interesting, because you may recollect that story of some one telling him (at Elba. I believe) that Lord W. was the beat in the world.' To which he replied, ' We have never met.'"
Soon after the Peace of Amiens, Admiral Wolseley, like so many others of his profession, retired to live at Bath on half-pay.
We have another account of Napoleon in the small volume entitled Napoleon's Last Voyages, which consists of the journals of Admiral ITasher, who conveyed Bonaparte to Elba, and Mr. John Glover, Secretary to Admiral Cockburn upon the voyage to St. Helena. Admiral Ussher's diary con- tains some curious details touching that extraordinary episode in Bonaparte's career, his abdication and acceptance of the title of Emperor and Sovereign of the Island of Elba. His situation had become desperate. After the formation of the provisional Government, Napoleon asked one of his supporters what he would do in a similar situation. The only advice
this one had to offer was that he should blow out his brains. Napoleon reflected and replied, " Cul, je puis faire cela, mail ceux qui me veulent du Bien ne pourraient pas en profiler, et ceux qui me veulent du mal, cela leer ferait plaisir." He chose the alternative. Admiral Masher received him on board the Undaunted' at Frejus, and appears to have gained his friendship. The Emperor talked freely during the voyage to Elba, and some of his conversations thus recorded, like the conversation of all remarkable men when it is authentic, is interesting :—
" Napoleon frequently spoke of the invasion of England ; that he never intended to attempt it without a superiority of fleet to protect the flotilla. This superiority would have been attained for a few days by leading ours out to the West Indies and sud- denly returning. If the French fleet arrived in the Channel three or four days before ours, it would be sufficient. The flotilla would immediately push out, accompanied by the fleet, and the landing might take place on any part of the coast, as he would march direct to London. He preferred the coast of Kent, but that must have depended on wind and weather ; be would have placed himself at the disposal of naval officers and pilots to land the troops wherever they thought they could do so with the greatest security and in the least time. He had one million men, and each of the flotilla had boats to land them ; artillery and cavalry would soon have followed, and the whole could have reached London in three days. He armed the flotilla merely to lead us to suppose he intended it to fight its way across the Channel ; it was only to deceive us. It was observed that we expected to be treated with great severity in case of his succeeding, and he was asked what he would have done had he arrived in London. He said it was a difficult question to answer ; for a people with spirit and energy like the English was not to be subdued even by taking the capital. He would cer- tainly have separated Ireland from Great Britain, and the occupying of the capital would have been a deathblow to our funds, credit and commerce. He asked me to say frankly whether we were not alarmed at his preparation for invading England." On the voyage to St. Helena two years later, be spoke of the same subject and said that, had he succeeded in reaching London, his chief object and first endeavour would have been to conclude a peace on " moderate terms." It does not appear what, under these circumstances, he would have considered moderate terms. Speaking of his early career and ambitions, he declared that it was not until after the battle of Lodi (1796) that he had any idea of ever being of sufficient consequence to interfere with the Government of France. Finding him- self succeeding beyond all his expectations, he began to look forward somewhat, but without any definite or decided plan. The successful man is generally an opportunist. He discussed the merits of his Generals, and said he con- sidered Gonvion Saint-Cyr one of his best soldiers. Ney was a man of courage, but he was "not a man of talent or educa- tion." Marmont was a good soldier. but a weak man. Soult was a talented and good soldier. Bernadotte he complained had behaved ill on one occasion, and deserved to be court- martialled. Napoleon declared that he did not influence in any way his election by the Swedes. Mr. Glover is not a very efficient Boswell, and his diary contains much trivial matter and repetition, but it is worth reading.