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The plot to liberate Napoleon
March 11, 2013 6:35 AM   Subscribe

In 1820–or so he claimed–he was offered the sum of £40,000 [equivalent to $3 million now] to rescue the emperor Napoleon from bleak exile on the island of St. Helena. This escape was to be effected in an incredible way–down a sheer cliff, using a bosun’s chair, to a pair of primitive submarines waiting off shore.
posted by Chrysostom (17 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Such evidence as survives from the French side suggests that the emperor would have refused to go with his rescuer

I certainly wouldn't have got into a submarine like that. Ripping yarn, though.
posted by Segundus at 6:50 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


This exile also the subject of one of my favorite broadsides:
Now Bony he has gone from his wars all a-fightin'
He has gone to the place he can never delight in.
He may list to the winds on the great Mount Diana
While alone he remains on the Isle of Saint Helena.

No more in St. Cloud will he'll appear in great splendor
Nor go on with his wars like the great Alexander,
He may look to the east , while he thinks of Hana,
with is heart full of war, on the Isle of St. Helena

The rude rushing waves all around the shores a-washin'
And the great billows heave on the wild rocks are dashin'.
He may look over the main to the great Mount Diana
With his eyes on the waves that surround St. Helena.

Oh, Louisy she weeps for her husband's departin'
And she dreams while she sleeps and she wakes broken-hearted.
Not a friend to console her, even those who might be with her
While alone she does mourn while she thinks of St. Helena.

So you that have wealth, pray beware of ambition
For a small twist of fate, It may change your condition.
And be steadfast in time what's to come change you know not
And your race it could end on the Isle of St. Helena.

Recordings: Shapenote, Nic Jones, Uncle Earl
posted by The White Hat at 7:23 AM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


rescue the emperor . . . down a sheer cliff, using a bosun’s chair, to a pair of primitive submarines

So they were going to saw him in half?

It's a good thing Admiral Hornblower happened to be in New Orleans to put a stop to it.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:02 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Drama Dumas in Real Life
posted by infinitewindow at 8:14 AM on March 11, 2013


It's a good thing Admiral Hornblower happened to be in New Orleans to put a stop to it.

Nonsense. This was cover by Sir Joseph so that Maturin could do the needful.
posted by jquinby at 8:33 AM on March 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Speaking of ripping yarns, Sharpe's Devil features breaking out Napolean to become "emperor of South America" as part of the plot. I think Blue at the Mizzen also mentions something about the danger of Napoleon breaking out of jail and coming to South America.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:14 AM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Boney beat the Prussians
The Austrians and Russians

posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:45 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


This should definitely be the plot for the next Tarantino historical epic. Where Eagles Dare meets Master And Commander. Whited up-CGI height reduced Sam J plays Napoleon obviously.
posted by Damienmce at 10:04 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Bonny Bunch of Roses O
posted by Pallas Athena at 10:09 AM on March 11, 2013



Hornblower blah blah Aubrey/Maturin blah blah blah

Nonsense yourself.

If O'Brian had been able to continue his saga up to 1821 (as Forrester actually did, you see), it would be surprising -- I say it would be surprising (did you smoke it?) -- in the extreme to find Dr. Maturin still comfortably working with British intelligence.

With the Continental System exploded, Napoleon exiled thousands of miles away, the British Empire ascendent around the world, and Irishmen continuing to agitate for repeal of the Act of Union -- where and with whom do you think the Doctor would be operating nearly six years after the end of The Hundred Days?

If, on the other hand, you had troubled to follow my link you'd've learned of a more-or-less direct connection between the Hornblower saga and this bit of history (absent the submersibles).

You have my word of honor as a gentleman.

Sometimes the catalog card needs to be longer than the book.
posted by Herodios at 10:22 AM on March 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Maturin would've just nursed his Catalan independence grudge instead of his Irish one, if he felt a need to continue in the good graces of HM Government. More likely, though, he'd retire, raise his daughter and finally get a chance to stop at all those islands and build up his collections.

Also, while we're on the literature riffs, TINY SUBMARINES. Let's call in Doug Shaftoe to explain all the things wrong with that idea.

On-topic: The Napoleonic Wars are full of weird stuff like this. One reason why I love naval fiction set in the era.
posted by ubernostrum at 12:10 PM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


TheWhiteSkull --

I sort of expected that link to be to a disco song until I recalled that the Boney M "historical" song was about Rasputin, not Napoleon.
posted by jclarkin at 12:36 PM on March 11, 2013


I'm not sure which path he would have chosen, but Maturin definitely would have chosen the lesser of two weevils.
posted by honestcoyote at 2:45 PM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's may be time to cur-tail the O'Brian jokes.

Not really.
posted by jquinby at 4:22 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's may be time to cur-tail the O'Brian jokes.

As the good captain has said, many a time, you can have a stitch in time but you can't eat your cake too. Certainly, these are words to live by.

I'm in the midst of a marathon reading of the series and much of the language has stuck. I caught myself wishing my friend joy of his promotion (which is a phrase that needs to come back; "I wish you joy of..." is kinda delightful) and wish I could find a reason to say "bear a hand you whoresons, d'ye hear me?" in real life. I did wish the wife a "May God, Mary, and Patrick be with you" before she left for work. I'm not sure she appreciated the impromptu blessing.
posted by honestcoyote at 5:34 PM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


If O'Brian had been able to continue his saga up to 1821 (as Forrester actually did, you see), it would be surprising -- I say it would be surprising (did you smoke it?) -- in the extreme to find Dr. Maturin still comfortably working with British intelligence.

With the Continental System exploded, Napoleon exiled thousands of miles away, the British Empire ascendent around the world, and Irishmen continuing to agitate for repeal of the Act of Union -- where and with whom do you think the Doctor would be operating nearly six years after the end of The Hundred Days?


It's a little difficult to create a timeline of the Aubrey-Maturin books: O'Brian wrote that he had "made use of hypothetical years, rather like those hypothetical moons used in the calculation of Easter: an 1812a as it were or even an 1812b".

Anyway, I believe Cochrane, whom Aubrey is modeled after, joined up with Bernard O'Higgins in 1818 (which is close enough to 1821). At the end of Blue at the Mizzen, I think Aubrey sails away to command the South Africa squadron, while Maturin would have headed back to Freetown to pick up Christine Wood.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:45 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]





I give up.


 
posted by Herodios at 6:30 PM on March 11, 2013


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