Monday, 21 December 2009

Views of St Helena

St. Helena from the terrace of the Castle by George Hutchins Bellasis
(1778-1822), soldier and amateur artist, from his Views of St Helena (1815)

Bellasis had been to St Helena twice, and he was probably trying to cash in on his knowledge of the island that had been chosen for Napoleon's exile.
this singularly romantic Island is the appointed residence of one of the most extraordinary men recorded in the annals of History.

As he was keen to point out, this particular view afforded a glimpse of the Briars:
the Briars, marked in this View, though not seen from the Roads ; this situation is the more interesting, as it is said to be the place intended for the residence of Buonaparte.

Presumably he was referring to the house just about visible at the base of the V shape made by the hills as you look up Jamestown valley.

I also found the dedication of this slender volume interesting.

I think we can safely say that Bellasis was not a Whig! (1)

Bellasis's second and final visit to St. Helena was in 1812. By the time of Napoleon's arrival, he had retired, and was living with his wife and 6 children in the villa he had built for himself in Bowness on Windermere in the English Lakes. Not a bad place to live!

(1) It turned out that Bellasis knew Wellington from his days as a soldier in India. When Bellasis arrived in India, Colonel Arthur Wellesley, as he was then, was apparently recuperating from a severe case of the 'Malabar Itch' (a kind of ringworm) which had prevented him from fighting in Egypt. He and Bellasis were close neighbours, and knew each other quite well.

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