Napoleon on St. Helena
de Las Cases
Chapter 25


Oct. 23-24 . . . The Emperor Napoleon, who but lately possessed such boundless power, and disposed of so many Crowns, now occupies a wretched hovel, a few feet square, perched upon a rock, unprovided with furniture, and without either shutters or curtains to the windows. This place must serve him for bed-chamber, dressing-room, dining-room, study, and sitting-room: and he is obliged to go out when it is necessary to have this one apartment cleaned. His meals, consisting of a few wretched dishes, are brought to him from a distance, as though he were a criminal in a dungeon. He is absolutely in want of the necessaries of life: the bread and wine are not such as we have been accustomed to, and are so bad that we loathe to touch them: . . . a bath, which is so necessary to the Emperor's health, is not to be had . . .

Assuredly, if the Sovereigns of Europe decreed this exile, private enmity has directed its execution. If policy alone dictated this measure as indispensable, would it not have been essential, in order to render the fact evident to the world, to have surrounded with every kind of respect and consideration the illustrious victim, with regard to whom it had been found necessary to violate law and principle?

We were all assembled round the Emperor; and he was recapitulating these facts with warmth: "For what infamous treatment are we reserved!" he exclaimed 'This is the anguish of death! To injustice and violence. they now add insult and protracted torment. If I were so hateful to them, why did they not get rid of me? A few musquet balls in my heart or head would have done the business; and there would at least have been some energy in the crime!. . . How can the monarchs of Europe permit the sacred character of sovereignty to be violated in my person? Do they not see that they are, with their own hands, working their own destruction at St. Helena? I entered their capitals victorious, and had I cherished such sentiments, what would have become of them? They styled me their brother; and I had become so by the choice of the people, the sanction of victory, the character of religion, and the alliances of their policy and their blood. Do they imagine that the good sense of nations is blind to their conduct? and what do they expect from it? At all events, make your complaints, gentlemen; let indignant Europe hear them! Complaints from me would be beneath my dignity and character; I must command, or be silent."

From Count E.A.D. de Las Cases, The Life, Exile, and Conversations of the Emperor Napoleon

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