Caricatures of Napoleon on St. Helena

Napoleon Bonaparte’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo and subsequent imprisonment on the remote South Atlantic island of St. Helena (from which he escapes in Napoleon in America) provided opportunity for the last great blast of Napoleon caricatures. Most of them appeared in 1815, the year of Napoleon’s second and final abdication from the French throne. Relatively few appeared in the years up to his death in 1821. Further to my post about caricatures of Napoleon on Elba, here’s a look at some caricatures about Napoleon’s exile on St. Helena.

Caricatures of Napoleon’s departure for St. Helena

A rare acquisition to the royal menagerie: A present from Waterloo by Marshals Wellington & Blucher

A rare acquisition to the royal menagerie: A present from Waterloo by Marshalls Wellington & Blucher. Napoleon caricature by Thomas Rowlandson, July 28, 1815. Source: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

Napoleon, perched in a large birdcage (topped by a dead eagle), is surrounded by an angry mob. A newsboy says: “Just Caught a Ferocious Animal never Exhibited before in this Country commonly called the Corsican tyger or man destroyer to be seen for a short time for Two Pence a Piece.” Napoleon says: “Mort de ma vie. Dat be one Cossack in Petticoats she will soon skin and bone me.” A sailor says: “Once more my Dear Magg of Wapping We have got him under the Hatches and shiver my Timbers the only way to secure him is to send him to Dock Head.” Magg replies: “I’ll Dock Head and Dock Tail him. I’ll cut off his Ears I’ll cut off his ___. I’ll make a Singing Bird of him.” Caricature by Thomas Rowlandson, July 28, 1815. Source: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, http://digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/

Boneys trial, sentence, and dying speech; or Europe’s injuries revenged

Boney's trial, sentence, and dying speech; or: Europe’s injuries revenged. Napoleon caricature by Thomas Rowlandson, July 28, 1815

Prussian Field Marshal Gebhard von Blücher says: “You Nap Boneparte being found Guilty of all these Crimes it is fell to my lot to pronounce Sentence of Death on You—You are to be hung by the Neck for one hour till you are Dead, Dead, Dead, & your Body to be chained to a Mill Stone & sunk in the Sea at Torbay.” Napoleon replies: “Oh cruel Blucher, Oh! cruel Wellington it is you that have brought me to this End. Oh Magnanimous Emperors Kings & Princes intercede for me and spare my life; and give me time to atone for all my Sins. My Son Napoleon the Second will reward you for Mercy shewn me.” Napoleon’s offences are inscribed as follows: “NAPOLEAN BONAPARTE The first and last by the Wrath of Heaven Ex Emperor of the Jacobins & head Runner of Runaways, Stands indicted 1st for the Murder of Captain Wright in the Temple at Paris; 2d for the murder of the Duke Dangulem [d’Enghien] Pichegrew & Georges; 3 for the Murder of Palm Hoffer &c; & 4th for the murder of the 12 inhabitants of Moscow; 5th for innumerable Robberies committed on all Nations in Christendom & elsewhere; 6th for Bigamy; & lastly for returning from Transportation, and setting the World in an uproar.” Tsar Alexander of Russia is on the far left. Next to him is Britain’s Prince Regent. King Louis XVIII is on Blücher’s left. Caricature by Thomas Rowlandson, July 28, 1815. Source: Bibliothèque nationale de France, gallica.bnf.fr

Le départ du petit caporal

Le départ du petit caporal, French caricature, 1815. Source: Bibliothèque nationale de France, gallica.bnf.fr

Archchancellor of the Empire Jean-Jacques-Régis de Cambacérès says: “Sire, I play the follies of Spain, accompanied by the Russian, followed by a German, and I end with the English.” Napoleon says: “My last folly causes me to beat a return to the Isles.” Napoleon’s half-Austrian son chimes in: “Papa, we forget the waltz.” French caricature, 1815. Source: Bibliothèque nationale de France, gallica.bnf.fr

Buonaparte on the 17th of June / Buonaparte on the 17th of July – 1815

Buonaparte on the 17th of June / Buonaparte on the 17th of July – 1815. Napoleon caricature by George Cruikshank, August 1815. . Source: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, http://digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/

In the first panel, Napoleon shouts defiantly at John Bull, sitting on the other side of the English Channel: “Ha! ha! You Bull beast you Blackguard Islander. You see I’m come back again & now you shall see what I will do with you, you wretch! You thought I was done over did you?! You thought I was going to stay at Elba? D—n all Elbas & Abdications: Englishmen & their Allies—I’ll play Hell with them all.” John Bull emits a puff of smoke inscribed: “You may be D—d I’ll make a Tobacco Stopper of you.”

In the second panel, Napoleon (in the Bellerophon – the Royal Navy ship that transported him from France to the British coast) kneels beside papers inscribed “Petition,” “Letters to the Prince Regent,” and says: “O! good Mr Bull I wish you to know, / (Although you are my greatest foe) / That my Career is at an end: / And I wish you now to stand my Friend / For tho at the Battle of Waterloo, / I was by you beat black & blue / Yet you see I wish to live with you / For I’m sure what is said of your goodness is true / And now if in England you’ll let me remain / I ne’er will be guilty of bad Tricks again.” John Bull responds: “Let me see, first of all you sprung from the Island of Corsica—and when you was kick’d out of France & went to the Island of Elba you made another Spring into France again—And now when you are kick’d out of France a second time you want to come & live on my Island, but it won’t do Master Boney— you’ll be making another Spring into France again I suppose. So I tell you what, I’ll send you to the Island of St Helena & we’ll see what sort of a Spring you’ll make then.” Caricature by George Cruikshank, August 1815. Source: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, http://digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/

Boney’s threatened invasion brought to bear or: taking a view of the English coast from ye poop of the Bellerophon

Boney’s threatened invasion brought to bear or: taking a view of the English coast from ye poop of the Bellerophon. Napoleon caricature by George Cruikshank, September 1815. Source: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, http://digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/

Looking at England from the Bellerophon, General Henri Bertrand points to the gallows and says: “By gar! mon Emperor, dey have erect von prospect for you.” Napoleon says: “Me no like de D—m prospect.” A British sailor gives his opinion: “I thinks as how, Master Boney, that instead of sending you to Hell bay [Elba], they should have sent you to Hell at once.” Caricature by George Cruikshank, September 1815. Source: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, http://digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/

Boney crossing the line

Boney crossing the line. Napoleon caricature by John Lewis Marks, circa September 1815. Source: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, http://digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/

The title refers to a traditional shipboard ceremony for sailors who are crossing the equator for the first time. Napoleon “crossed the line” on September 23, 1815 as a prisoner on HMS Northumberland. As Napoleon (sitting blindfolded in a tub) is doused with soapy water, he says: “I no like de English Valet de Chambre, Have mercy.” Neptune (holding up a trident) says: “I command you’ll cleanse him from his Iniquity’s.” A black sailor (left) says: “Massa Boney no like to be got in a Line!!” Two French officers (right) say: “I wish de Dirty job was over!!” and “Be gar me no like de Shaving Shop!!!” A British sailor responds: “Have Patience Gentlemen and we’ll shave you directly and give you a good Lathering as Old Blucher did!!” Caricature by John Lewis Marks, circa September 1815. Source: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, http://digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/

Napoleon’s trip from Elba to Paris, & from Paris to St. Helena

Napoleon's trip from Elba to Paris, & from Paris to St. Helena. Napoleon caricatures by George Cruikshank, September 1, 1815. Source: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, http://digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/

In the first panel, Napoleon flees the battlefield of Waterloo. He says: “Sauve qui peut. The Devil take the hindmost. Run my boys, your Emperor leads the way. My dear Eagle only conduct me safe to Paris this time as you did from Moscow and Leipsig, and I’ll never trouble you again. Oh d—m that Wellington.” The eagle says: “My left wing has entirely disappeared.”

In the middle panel, Napoleon addresses John Bull from the Bellerophon: “My most powerful & most generous enemy, how do you do? I come like Themistocles to seat myself upon your hearth. I am very glad to see you.” (This is a reference to a letter Napoleon sent to Britain’s Prince Regent.) John Bull replies: “So am I glad to see you, Mr. Boney, but I’ll be d—d if you sit upon my hearth or any part of my house. It has cost me a pretty round sum to catch you, Mr. Themistocles, as you call yourself, but now I have got you I’ll take care of you.”

In the third panel, Napoleon is on St. Helena. One of his attendants (probably General Bertrand) sees a rat coming and says: “Ah! Mon dieu! Dere your Majesty, dere be de vilain rogues. Ah, Monsieur rat. Why you not pop your nose into de trap & let de august Emperor catch you?” A female attendant (probably Fanny Bertrand), with a slice of bacon, says: “Will your Majesty be please to try dis bit of bacon? Ah! De cunning rascal! Dere! Ma foi! He sniff at de bacon.” Napoleon says: “Alas! that I who caught Imperial flats, / Should now sit here to watch these scurvy rats. / I, who Madrid, Berlin, Vienna, Moscow, took, / Am doom’d, with cheese, to bait a rusty hook! / Was it for this I tried to save my bacon, / To use it now for rats that won’t be taken? / Curse their wise souls! I had not half such trouble / Their European brethren to bubble. / When I, myself, was hail’d as Emperor Nap, / Emperors & Kings I had within my trap / And to this moment might have kept them there / Had I not gone to hunt the Russian bear.” Caricature by George Cruikshank, September 1, 1815. Source: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, http://digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/

Caricatures of Napoleon on St. Helena

Je Fume en Pleurant mes Péchés

Je Fume en Pleurant mes Péchés. Napoleon caricature by Louis, 1815

“I smoke and cry about my sins.” The word “fume” has a double meaning: Napoleon is smoking a pipe and fuming with anger. The paper in his hand says “Mes dernières Reflexions de 1815” (my last reflections of 1815). French caricature, September 16, 1815.

Boney’s meditations on the Island of St. Helena, or The Devil addressing the Sun

Boney’s meditations on the Island of St. Helena, or The Devil addressing the Sun. Napoleon Caricature by George Cruikshank, August 1815. Source: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, http://digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/

Napoleon addresses Britain’s Prince Regent (the future King George IV): “To thee I call. But with no friendly voice, & add thy name, G—P—Rt! to tell thee how I hate thy beams, that bring to my remembrance from what state I fell &c.” The rays surrounding the Prince’s face are inscribed: “Alexander, Fredk William, Francis, William 1st of Orange, Wellington, Blucher, Hill, Beresford, Anglesea.” Caricature by George Cruikshank, August 1815. Source: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, http://digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/

The inhabitants of St. Helena alarmed at the appearance of their new Governor

The inhabitants of St. Helena alarmed at the appearance of their new Governor. Napoleon caricature. Source: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, http://digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/

St. Helena was notoriously swarming with rats. Napoleon’s residence of Longwood House, where the opening scene of Napoleon in America takes place, was plagued with them. Napoleon says: “Inhabitants of St. Helena, let’s be friends. I declare you a free people. I give you as a pledge this faithful servant whom I have with me.” The cat says: “Now I shall be compensated.” The leader of the overgrown rats says: “Gentlemen, we have not a moment to lose; let our Council assemble immediately to consult how we shall be able to expel these formidable invaders.” Others cry: “To arms! To arms! Our mortal enemy approaches.” British caricature, 1815. Source: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, http://digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/

The inhabitants of St. Helena addressing their new Governor

The inhabitants of St. Helena addressing their new Governor. Napoleon caricature Source: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, http://digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/

The rats say: “We the ancient Inhabitants of St. Helena beg leave to congratulate your Imperial Majesty on your safe arrival in this county, in order to take on yourself the Government thereof. We are unanimously of opinion that you are signally qualified to fulfil the mighty trust reposed in you, and therefore humbly crave your gracious acceptance thereof; on our part rest assured of our most zealous attachment & support.” Napoleon says: “Ancient Inhabitants of St. Helena, accept my acknowledgements for your loyal address and believe me nothing on my part shall be wanting to complete your happiness and independence. The first wishes of my heart were directed to your interest and the happiest hours of my existence were spent in anticipating your future greatness.” British caricature, 1815. Source: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, http://digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/

Alte Liebe rostet nicht

Alte Liebe rostet nicht. German caricature by Johann Michael Voltz, 1815. Source: Bibliothèque nationale de France, gallica.bnf.fr

Rats were a popular theme: “Old habits die hard, or the great man’s pastimes on the small, rat-infested island of St. Helena.” German caricature by Johann Michael Voltz, 1815. Source: Bibliothèque nationale de France, gallica.bnf.fr

You might also enjoy:

Caricatures of Napoleon on Elba

What did Napoleon say about the Battle of Waterloo?

Why didn’t Napoleon escape to the United States?

Napoleon’s arrival at St. Helena

Could Napoleon have escaped from St. Helena?

Boney the Bogeyman: How Napoleon scared children

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I, who Madrid, Berlin, Vienna, Moscow, took,
Am doom’d, with cheese, to bait a rusty hook!
Was it for this I tried to save my bacon,
To use it now for rats that won’t be taken?

Napoleon according to British caricaturist George Cruikshank