Soon after Napoleon went on board the Bellerophon, the Superb arrived, carrying Rear-Admiral, Sir Henry Hotham.
The Admiral came to meet the Emperor, who proudly showed him his portable library, and invited Sir Henry and his party to dinner.
Dinner was cooked by Napoleon's Maitre d'Hotel and served on the Emperor's silver plate. Napoleon seated the Admiral on his right, Countess Bertrand on his left, and Captain Maitland opposite.
After dinner Napoleon sent Marchand to fetch two small cases, which were unpacked, assembled and proudly revealed to his guests as his famous camp bed.
Midshipman Home entered in his diary:
When Admiral Hotham and the officers of the Bellerophon uncovered in the presence of Napoleon, they treated him with the respect due to the man himself, to his innate greatness, which did not lie in the crown of France or the Iron crown of Italy, but the actual superiority of the man to the rest of his species.(1)
The next day (16th July) Napoleon returned the Admiral's visit. He was received on board the Superb with all the honours of a royal personage except for the firing of a salute. The Grand Marshall ascended first, and announced "The Emperor".
Maitland wrote afterwards, contrary to some reports in hostile newspapers trying to create a bad impression of Napoleon, "that, from the time of his coming on board my ship, to the period of his quitting her, his conduct was invariably that of a gentleman; and in no one instance do I recollect him to have made use of a rude expression, or to have been guilty of any kind of ill-breeding." (2)
Maitland noted that during the voyage he asked "many questions about the manners, customs, and laws of the English; often repeating the observation he had made on first coming on board, that he must gain all the information possible on those subjects, and conform himself to them, as he should probably end his life among that people." (3)
Before Napoleon came on board the Bellerophon it had been agreed with Captain Maitland that one of his party, General Gourgaud, would leave separately on the Slaney bound, so he hoped, for a meeting with the Prince Regent. (4)
Gourgaud's instructions from Napoleon contained the following:
If there appears to be no objection to granting me passports to the United States, that is what I would prefer; but I do not wish to go to any colony. Failing America, I prefer England to any other country. I will take the name of Colonel Muiron.(5) If I must go to England, I wish to live in a country house, about ten or twelve leagues from London, and I hope to arrive there in the strictest possible incognito. I should need a big enough house to accommodate all my suite(6)
Transporting the party to which he alludes was not a simple matter.
Not all could be fitted on the Bellerophon. Some had to be transported on the Myrmiron.
In addition there was the question of Napoleon's horses and carriage, which had been left at Rochefort and which he wished to accompany him to England. It was agreed to issue a passport for a ship to carry six carriages and forty five horses to England - although Captain Maitland later commented that he did not think this had ever been acted on. (7)
1. George Home, Memoirs of an Aristocrat
2. F.L. Maitland, Narrative of the Surrender of Buonaparte ... (London 1826) pp 62-3.
3. Maitland p. 108
4. In the event Gourgaud, like the rest of the party, was not permitted to step foot in England when he arrived.
5. Napoleon's aide de camp who had been killed at Arcole.
6. Quoted in Gilbert Martineau, Napoleon Surrenders (London 1971) p. 121
7. Maitland p. 94. As the ship was underweigh three or four sheep, some vegetables and other refreshments arrived as a present from the French Commodore. Maitland p. 97.