« AnteriorContinuar »
* try in the royal navy for several years, until now without cen- * sure, and, perhaps, not without some little commendation; and 'I must protest against any person, however superior to me in 'rank, making use of language and treatment towards me un'worthy of, and degrading to an officer who has the honour to 'serve in his Majesty's navy.'
Among other points of difference, one which the governor appears highly to have prized, was the etiquette relating to the name by which Buonaparte should be called in the medical reports; as if it could possibly signify a straw to the tranquillity of Europe, whether those bulletins, seen only by the prisoner himself and by our government, gave one title or another to a person confined in the closest custody on a rock in the middle of the Atlantic ocean.
All these differences, however, and chiefly the refusal of Mr O'Meara to betray the most delicate kind of professional confidence, produced a positive, and, we believe, all who read the act of Parliament, will admit, an illegal order from the governor, confining him to Longwood, unless in certain specified cases. A British officer evidently could not submit to be treated as a French prisoner, merely because he had refused to act as a spy; and the Doctor sent in his resignation, unless the order should be immediately rescinded; demanding at the sametime, to be tried by a competent tribunal, if the governor had any charge to bring against him. The resignation was accepted; but attempts were made to show that the order did not place him under such restraints as the French were liable to. Much was said of his disobedience in presuming to write a letter to'Bertrand; and a general charge of neglecting instructions was repeatedly made. As to the restrictions, Mr O'Meara answered (nor can any reply be given to the answer), that none of the French were prevented by law from leaving Longwood; the accusation of writing a letter, he desired might be examined by a court-martial, as he could not comprehend its import; and to the more general charge, he answered, that he never had received any instructions to guide his intercourse with Buonaparte, except general and verbal 'insinuations,' which left him to his own discretion, although he had constantly requested that they might be reduced to writing. In the mean time, the state of Buonaparte's health was growing daily worse; and he would suffer no one but Mr O'Meara to attend him. This distrust may perhaps seem not wholly unreasonable, to those who reflect that he had chosen this skilful and honourable attendant himself, and had witnessed, on the governor's part, a constant disposition to thwart him, and a line of conduct, calculated by its tendency, if not by its intention, to drive him from the station. This appears to be a ground of suspicion sufficient to influence any one in Buonaparte's singular position, though all the other causes of repugnance to the governor and his predecessors had been removed. Sir H. Lowe indeed denies, in a letter to Bertrand, dated 21st April 1818, that Mr O'Meara had ever warned him of his patient being attacked with Chronic Hepatitis; and he says, that as late as the 25th of March, Mr O'Meara had doubtingly spoken of an 'incipient Hepatitis.' But unfortunately for the governor, Mr O'Meara has produced two official bulletins or reports addressed by him to his Excellency, dated the 1 st and 5th of October 1817, in which the patient is said to be afflicted, in all probability, with Chronic Hepatitis. He also declares, that he made constantly his reports to the governor upon the progress of this disease, which he always stated to be increasing; he particularly mentions six such reports between the month of September (qu. November?) 1817, and March 1818. We may remark, in passing, that he states horse-exercise to be essential to his recovery, and that none of the restraints and annoyances which seem to have made Buonaparte long abandon that favourite as well as healthful amusement, were relaxed in consequence of this recommendation. When, upon the ' pressing necessity' of this exercise being urged, the governor asked Mr O'Meara why his patient did not ride,—he answered, that he did not know the reasons; but he adds, in his declaration, that he was forced to make a resolution against ever ' meddling in discussion foreign to medi'cal subjects, by the abusive language, violence, and bad treatf ment which he experienced from Sir H. Lowe whenever he 'delivered an opinion and sentiment not consonant to his own.'It cannot be doubted that this strange treatment compelled Mr O'Meara, greatly against his inclination, to resign his charge. 'For some months,' says he in his letter to the Governor, ' 1 'have been made to lead a most wretched life, by your Excel'lency's obliging me to proceed to your house twice a week, re
* viling me, turning me out of doors in a most ignominious 'manner; once, indeed, having experienced every thing except
*personal violence, menaced by words and looks, because I
* did not chuse to comply with verbal insinuations.' What those insinuations were of which he complains, and which Sir H. Lowe, though often requested, would not put in writing, we have no means of ascertaining. This only is plain, that they must have related to the treatment of Buonaparte; and every consideration of justice and of regard for the character of the nation, whom this extraordinary officer is supposed to represent in the most delicate of all positions, demand a full explanation of those matters which Mr O'Meara's narrative leaves in the dark.
To maltreat the physician in any way; to require that he should act as a spy upon his patient, whom, having corporally confined, we can have no manner of right to interfere with, except for the purpose of preventing his escape; to compel the resignation of the only medical attendant in whom Buonaparte had any confidence, or whose visits he would allow, at a time too when he laboured under a dangerous malady,—must be deemed a line of conduct altogether unjustifiable, even if we admit that it was adopted without a view to the consequences which it obviously tends to produce. These charges against Sir H. Lowe are amply sufficient to call for strict investigation, without taking into the account either the ' verbal insinuations' darkly hinted at, or the restraints upon the prisoner's necessary exercise, which are not so distinctly detailed, or any of the other accusations published in works of less authority than Mr O'Meara's Letters, but all unfortunately rendered more credible by their agreement with his story.
In this estimate of the case we lay out of view every thing that comes from Buonaparte himself. That he should be unreasonable in his demeanour, was to be expected; that he should be on the worst terms with his keeper, is unfortunate; and, perhaps, with a gentleman incapable of treating a worthy officer under his command as Sir H. Lowe treated Mr O'Meara, Buonaparte might have lived upon a less unpleasant footing: But the intercourse between him and any governor never can be very smooth. That he should accuse all placed over him with conspiring his destruction, is natural enough in his extraordinary situation; and accordingly, we find him solemnly denouncing the governor as his murderer, (for that must be the word in the blank of his Notes, April 25th 1818), f and bequeathing to the House of Brunswick the opprobrium of his death,' if his injuries are not redressed. Let him indulge in all this spleen, and vent it in accusations as black as he pleases —they can do no harm to us, or to the character of our country, provided we take care that they are entirely groundless, and that their falsehood is made manifest to the whole world. But as long as Mr O'Meara's case remains unanswered; as long as all inquiry into the facts is resisted, and a speech in Parliament filled with statements, furnished by the accused themselves, is made the substitute for a fair and effectual investigation of their conduct—no man can pretend to deny that there is some colour for even the worst imputations which may be flung upontho character of the nation. Once more, let it be recollected that England stands in the most delicate of all situations. She has taken upon herself an office, from the beginning of the world peculiarly liable to suspicion, the custody of a dethroned mo
narch, once her most formidable enemy. Let her take care, before it is too late, that the proofs of her entire innocence in discharging it are clearer than the day. This can only be effected by removing every doubt at present. If the inquiry be delayed until any thing befals Buonaparte, we may rest assured that her justification will never be complete.
Art. IX. 1. An Inquiry, whether Crime and Misery are Produced or Prevented, by our Present System of Prison Discipline. Illustrated by Descriptions of the Borough Compter; Tothill Fields Prison; the Jail at St Albans; the Jail at Guildford; the Jail at Bristol; the Jails at Bury and Ilchester; the Maison de Force at Ghent; the Philadelphia Prison; the Penitentiary at Millbank; and the Proceedings of the Ladies' Committee at Newgate. By Thomas Fowell Buxton. 8vo. pp. 171. London, 1818.
2. A Letter to the Common Council and Livery of the City of London, on the Abuses Existing in Newgate, and the Necessity of an Immediate Reform in the Management of the Prison. By the Hon. H. G. Bennet, M. P. 8vo. pp. 80. London, 1818.
There are two classes of subjects which naturally engage the attention of public men, and divide the interest which society takes in their proceedings. The one may, in a wide sense, be called Party Politics—the other Civil or domestic Administration. To the former belong all questions touching political rights and franchises—the principles of the Constitution—the fitness or unfitness of Ministers, and the interest and honour of the country, as it may be affected by its conduct and relations to foreign powers, either in peace or war. The latter comprehends most of the branches of political economy and statistics, and all the ordinary legislation of internal police and regulation; and, besides the two great heads of Trade and Taxation, embraces the improvements of the civil Code—the care of the Poor—the interests of Education, Religion and Morality—and the protection of Prisoners, Lunatics and others who cannot claim protection for themselves. This distinction, we confess, is but coarsely drawn—since every one of the things we have last enumerated may, in certain circumstances, be made an occasion of party contention. But what we mean is, that they are not its natural occasions, and do not belong to those topics in relation to which the great parties of a free country necessarily arise. One great part of a statesman's business may thus be considered as polemic—and another as deliberative; his main object in the first being to discomfit and expose his opponents—and, in the second, to discover the best means of carrying into effect ends which all agree to be desirable.
Judging d priori of the relative importance or agreeableness of those two occupations, we should certainly be apt to think that the latter was by far the most attractive and comfortable in itself, as well as the most likely to be popular with the community. The fact, however, happens to be otherwise: For such is the excitement of a public contest for influence and power, and so great the prize to be won in those honourable lists, that the highest talents are all put in requisition for that department, and all their force and splendour reserved for the struggle: And indeed, when we consider that the object of this struggle is nothing less than to put the whole power of administration into the hands of the victors, and thus to enable them not only to engross the credit of carrying through all those beneficial arrangements that may be called for by the voice of the country, but to carry them through in their own way, we ought not perhaps to wonder, that, in the eagerness of this pursuit, this, which is the means to all ends, some of the ends themselves should, when separately presented, appear of inferior moment, and excite far less interest or concern.
But, though this apology may be available in some degree to the actors, it still leaves us at a loss to account for the corresponding sentiments that are found to prevail among the body of the people, who are but lookers on for the most part in this great scene of contention—and can scarcely fail to perceive, one would imagine, that their immediate interests were often postponed to the mere gladiatorship of the parties, and their actual service neglected, while this fierce strife was maintained as to who should be allowed to serve them. In such circumstances, we should expect to find, that the popular favourites would not be the leaders of the opposite political parties, but those who, without regard to party, came forward to suggest and promote measures of admitted utility—and laboured to enlarge the enjoyments and advantages of the people, or to alleviate the pressure of their necessary sufferings. That it is not so in fact and reality, must be ascribed, we think, partly to the sympathy which, in a country like this, men of all conditions take in the party feelings of their political favourites, and the sense they have of the great importance of their success, and the general prevalence of their principles; and partly, no doubt, and in a greater degree, to that less justifiable but very familiar principle of our nature, by which we are led, on so many other occasions, to prefer splendid accomplishments to useful quali