NAPOLEON’S JAILOR VINDICATED: FORSYTH’S HISTORY OF THE CAPTIVITY, HANDSOMELY BOUND
(NAPOLEON) FORSYTH, William. History of the Captivity of Napoleon at St. Helena; from the Letters and Journals of the Late Lieut.-Gen. Sir Hudson Lowe, and Official Documents Not Before Made Public. London: John Murray, 1853. Three volumes. Octavo, 20th-century full tan morocco gilt, raised bands, red and black morocco spine labels, marbled endpapers and edges. $1500.
First edition of this defense of Napoleon’s jailor, Sir Hudson Lowe, regarding Napoleon’s medical treatment and death while in exile on St. Helena. With frontispiece illustration in each volume and large folding map of the island as it was in 1816.
"Having sent the fallen Emperor Napoleon into exile on St. Helena, the British needed to provide Napoleon with a doctor who could attend to the his medical needs, as well as provide testimony to Napoleon's good care and healthful situation… There was good reason to be concerned that Napoleon was treated well. One critic saw Napoleon's exile as 'a death sufficiently slow to be apparently natural… Reading of the medical treatment of Napoleon and his party leads one to wonder whether, intentional or not, the treatment given didn't hasten Napoleon's demise. Napoleon's party seemed to be all being dosed with mercury in various forms, a common enough treatment at the time… Mercury poisoning can cause insomnia, tremor, and attacks of rage and in some forms can cause violent gastrointestinal irritation. The latter alone could have hastened Napoleon's death from stomach cancer" (Tom Holmberg). In his Preface, William Forsyth concludes that "with the most rigid adherence to truth, and by the mere force of facts, [he] succeeded in vindicating the memory of those who have been long calumniated, and proving that neither the British government nor Sir Hudson Lowe was in fault as regards the treatment of Napoleon at St. Helena."