All were found quarters but not without difficulty. Helena, to which the British government determined to exile Napoleon, was within the Cape station.
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His charge was thus treated as a subject of study; the diary was a report of his findings. Cockburn returned next morning and as required by Bathurst examined the baggage of each member of the French party to remove arms and valuables that might be used to purchase assistance. Stores and equipment were still being loaded, the crew being obliged to work through the night to stow them away. Such confidence was perhaps premature. But it was conflict at a level at which Cockburn also excelled. At times, however, especially when reminded of his increasing distance from Europe, he became dejected.
To prevent any possible dispute, he was allotted a sleeping cabin 12 feet by 9, with a passage leading to the quarter gallery of which Cockburn had the identical opposite on the other side. Finally, about midday Cockburn and Keith again waited on Napoleon to accompany him to the Northumberland. On 6 September Cockburn was surprised to have Napoleon getting up after dinner for his usual walk, though it was pouring with rain.
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The relationship so formed was to prove of long-term value to Cockburn. Napoleon seems to have realised he would gain no concessions by such behaviour.
The patterns of their respective lives coincided only in the evenings. However, it was the enforcement of compliance with the spirit of these regulations, that was to be the real test of Cockburn. Waterloo on 18 June seemed to settle the war, but on 15 July Napoleon surrendered to Maitland in the Bellerophon off Rochefort and, soon after, Cockburn learned of the task to be his. From it we thus appreciate the means by which Cockburn came to manage Napoleon, and obliged him to accept the new terms of his existence.
Next day Napoleon seemed better in spirits and behaviour. Cockburn was the appropriate officer to convey and secure him there. All had gone well for the first three days.
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It was during one of these conversations that Napoleon gave his side of the events surrounding the attempted rescue of Ferdinand VII, in Finally, evenings were completed by an hours or more of cards. There could be no repeat of the Elba escape. The successful internment of Napoleon at St.
Management was essential even before the voyage commended. After the first anchor was raised, Cockburn addressed them, pointing out the ship would be relieved when peace was arranged; but in the meantime he would consider any applications men might make in the proper way for exchange on grounds of ill-health, wounds or long service. Even the six in confinement protested their innocence, assured him of their readiness and loyalty and inclination to do as required.
On 21 June he had been made commander-in-chief at the Cape of Good Hope.
Cockburn was aware that he had an opportunity too. There was one further incident.
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This, including minutes of his conversation, were copied by his secretary, J. Cockburn compiled his minutes and diary partly — as a naval man — out of habit, partly to keep Melville and other members of the Government informed of events. At dinner Cockburn always sat beside Napoleon, their places requiring observance of essential courtesies.
Cockburn was able to draw him out, sometimes prompting with questions, so that his reminiscences became the main accompaniment to meals. He was low in spirits for several days, and Cockburn allowed the mood to take its course, deliberately refraining from unnecessary contact.
The Northumberland had been at Portsmouth only 48 hours when Cockburn arrived from London on 2 August.
Next morning, when Captain Charles Ross 4 ordered her to be unmoored, the crew grumbled with discontent at a new commission, and six men were confined. This was followed by exercise on deck, in which Cockburn and Napoleon usually walked together, mostly out of earshot. Both gave equally: Cockburn flattered by his questions; Napoleon rewarded with his confidences.
Its remnants were still evident in But it did entail a risk. Keith and Cockburn simply insisted on the necessity for them to obey their orders. After conferring in the afternoon, Cockburn and Keith went on board the Bellerophon to inform Napoleon of his removal to the Northumberland next day.
At no time on the voyage did Cockburn lose control, and on no occasion was he reduced to discourtesy or emotion. Napoleon had now been on board a week. This lack of response prompted Napoleon next day to demonstrate his contempt for the code of conduct expected of him.
From there, in company with seven more vessels and a store ship, he was to convey the former emperor to St. Helena; and the channels along which correspondence with Napoleon were to pass. His flag was retained in commission at Portsmouth and, though he himself returned to his house in Cavendish Square, London, there was every prospect of immediate service.
On government instructions he addressed his charge and treated him with no more respect than would have been accorded an army general. Bertrand argued vehemently. The waters about the ships were crowded with boats from shore carrying sightseers. Napoleon protested, challenging the right of the British government to dispose of him as they wished.
At table only some of the English officers spoke French: Captain Ross, for example, spoke little. On 9 August, they sailed for St. Occurrences on the voyage concerning Napoleon were fully documented by Cockburn in a diary. As Cockburn was responsible for these checks, the moods added to difficulties of management, especially in the first week when Napoleon tried on several occasions to exact from English officers the deference to which he was accustomed.
For a day the party settled in, the Northumberland lying-to while a squadron of one frigate, six brigs and sloops ed her. From this time relations gradually improved, and on the terms set by Cockburn. As an Emperor, Napoleon did not think he should be confined at all: their first encounter, at which he had learned his fate, had generated anger; the examination of baggage, extreme indignation.
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However, that same evening, as Cockburn confided to his diary:. Speed of thought, word and deed were his strength. He was to hoist his flag in the gun Northumberland at Spithead, take in convoy two troopships carrying a battalion of the 53rd Regiment and a detachment of artillery, and to rendezvous with the Bellerophon in Plymouth Sound where he was to take on board Napoleon and his suite.
That evening after dinner they had a long conversation, walking together on deck. Lyttelton, begging the latter three sit down once the lieutenants had left to establish a British presence, while he himself found Bertrand to explain the after-cabin was common space. Napoleon was an emperor defeated, yet still regarded as emperor by his followers, treated by them as such, and accustomed to the servility due to one.
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Cockburn can have had no illusions as to the challenge this management problem presented. Cockburn was pleased. For the methods he used to reduce Napoleon to subordination, Cockburn has been accused of lacking fine feelings, chivalry, magnanimity, and consideration for the situation of an ex-emperor. At St. Helena, though at times indirect conflict revived, it was quickly checked. That he did not was due to his objective assessment of his charge. To check his pretensions, reduce him to submission and control his conduct — all without losing his co-operation — demanded a confidence amounting to an insurmountable sense of superiority from the first, Napoleon posed repeated minor, but important, problems of personal control.
Popular interest in him was intense. Yet neither Cockburn nor Bingham appeared. Adding to these moods was a repressed anger — a sulkiness — that followed checks on his claims to special treatment. In the evening of Sunday, 13 August, when he and Madame Bertrand wished to play cards — though he was informed it was customary for the officers not to play cards on Sundays — he told Glover to send for Cockburn and Sir George Bingham, observing that, as upper circles in London played, presumably Cockburn would not dislike it.
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Such deliberate disregard was conspicuous, especially when Napoleon demanded the attention that was withheld. It transpired that Keith had hurriedly removed the Bellerophon from Plymouth to avoid the threat of a writ of habeas corpus taken out to require Napoleon to appear in evidence at a trial in London. Yet on this occasion Lord Bathurst as Secretary of State and the Board of Admiralty laid more than normal stress on the personal qualities necessary for the task.
The ladies and their families received adequate space and privacy, but each of the other members of the suite also asked for, and expected, a separate cabin. For him the battle was now one of wits; conflict at a psychological level. One factor helping to stabilise relations was the invariable routine into which meetings between French and English fell.
But, above all, Cockburn was concerned to win the psychological duel for intellectual supremacy which constituted the critical element in physical control.