|The Struggle for Sea Power|
|by M. B. Synge|
|Book IV of the Story of the Worlds series. Focuses on the age of empire and world colonization. The histories of European colonies in America, Australia, South Africa, and India are related. Also covered are the Revolution in America, the French Revolution, and campaigns of Napoleon. Ages 12-18 |
THE EXILE OF ST HELENA
"He fought a thousand glorious wars,
And more than half the world was his;
And somewhere now, in yonder stars,
Can tell, mayhap, what greatness is."
NAPOLEON arrived back in Paris at sunrise, on the 21st of June. It was but just over a week since he had left it, so
full of hope and victory. Nothing was left to him now, but to abdicate a second time.
"Frenchmen," ran his proclamation, "I offer myself
as a sacrifice to the hatred of the enemies of France. My
political life is ended, and I proclaim my son Napoleon II., Emperor of the French."
But this was not allowed: he was ordered to leave France at once. Wellington and Blücher were already marching on
Paris to restore Louis XVIII. once again. On July 7 they marched into the capital. The next day Louis arrived.
Napoleon had reigned just one hundred days. To avoid arrest, he escaped to a seaport near La Rochelle,
in-  tending to sail for America. Here he was in sore straits, when the Allies bade him leave France within
twenty-four hours. English ships were cruising in the Bay of Biscay. To put to sea ensured capture, to stay in
France ensured arrest. He surrendered to the English captain of the Bellerophon. He wished to live in England,
under an assumed name, as a private citizen.
"I come, like Themistocles," he said, "to seat myself at the hearth of the British people."
The Bellerophon sailed for England, and anchored at Plymouth for orders. Meanwhile the Allies had decided that
the island of St Helena should be his home. It was a lonely island belonging to England, right away in the far
Atlantic, midway between the coasts of Africa and South America. The vast waters, that rolled between France
and St Helena would prevent any repetition of the escape from Elba, and British warships should watch the rocky
coast of the island by day and night. No more could Napoleon upset the peace of Europe.
"I will not go to St Helena," he cried when he learned his fate. But in vain he protested.
"Better St Helena than Russia," said one.
"Russia! God keep me from that," he answered quickly.
On August 8, an English ship bore him away to St Helena. For the last time, Napoleon gazed at the dim coast of
France, till it vanished from sight, and the great ship ploughed through the Atlantic
 waves, carrying the lonely exile to that far-off island, which was to be his prison and his grave.
It was October 16, when at last he stepped ashore. A guard of sentinels kept watch over him all day. Once in
every twenty-four hours, a British officer had to see him, to make sure he had not escaped.
All his letters were examined. He was addressed as General Bonaparte. The lord of so many palaces in Europe,
was now confined to two small rooms. In the corner of one, stood his little camp-bed, with the green silk
curtains, which he had used at Marengo and Austerlitz. On his walls hung a portrait of Maria Louisa, the wife
who had shared
 his throne, but would not share his exile. A picture of his little son Napoleon, riding on a lamb, hung near
him, and a miniature of Josephine, who not long survived his fall.
The days passed away in monotonous gloom. He read, he gardened, he drove out, he wrote an account of his deeds.
Usually he was calm, but now and then he would burst forth about the past.
"It was a fine empire," he said one day. "I ruled eighty-three millions of human beings—more than half the
population of Europe."
Six weary years slipped by.
Death came almost suddenly at the last. It was not till a week before the end, that either he or the doctors
realised that the disease he had suffered from for years, was now killing him.
His mind went back to years that were past. "France," he muttered as he lay dying, "Army—Head of the army."
A great storm raged outside. It tore up the trees that Napoleon had planted, uprooted the willow under which he
had sat, shook the frail tents of his sentinel soldiers; and "amid the tumult of the raging sea and the shaking
land and the tempest-torn skies, the fierce spirit of Napoleon passed away."
Reverently they covered him with the martial cloak that, as a young conqueror, he had worn at the battle of
Marengo. They buried him in the island of St Helena; but nineteen years later
 his body was taken back to France, and Paris, once his great capital, opened her arms to receive back her
mighty dead. He who had raised her to such heights of glory, he who had dashed her to such depths of disaster,
now lies in her midst.
The results of Napoleon's life were great and far-reaching. Not only had he re-moulded the France of the
Revolution, but he had laid the foundations of new life in Italy and Germany. Everywhere in Europe, he had
broken down the old barriers of custom and prejudice and created a new spirit of freedom and independence.
He had set his whole heart on the conquest of England, and in the end England had conquered him. She emerged
from the long struggle "Clad with a great fame."
She had won the power of the sea. This was the secret of that success, that was to see her flag flying over a
sixth part of the world in the century to come. But another secret was hers: she was firm in the belief of that
watchword, which won for Nelson the battle of Trafalgar, for Wellington Waterloo; that watchword, which must
ever lead her from strength to strength, as the years roll onward into space—"England expects every man to do
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