THE book of Las Cases, which is the most massive, and perhaps the most notorious, is not without a certain charm of its own. First published in eight volumes, it was subsequently compressed, and under the title of "Memorial of St Helena," adorned with the quaint and spirited designs of Charlet, has obtained a world-wide circulation. Las Cases is said, indeed, though no doubt with much exaggeration, to have realised from it no less a sum than eighty thousand pounds. It is alleged to have been written in daily entries, and to supply an exact report of Napoleon's conversation. Much, however, is declared by the author to have been lost, partly from want of time for transcription; something, perhaps, from the vicissitudes of his papers. What he narrates is told with spirit and even eloquence, and when corroborated by other authority may be taken to be a faithful transcript of the Emperor's talk as he wished it to be reported, or at any rate of his dictations. But, when uncorroborated, it is wholly unreliable. For, putting on one side the usual exaggerations about diet, restrictions, and so forth, and making full allowance for the author's being too dazzled by Napoleon (whom he sincerely adored) to see quite clearly, there is a fatal blot on his book. It is an arsenal of spurious documents. How this has come about, whether from the fertile invention of Las Cases, or by the connivance and inspiration of Napoleon, it is not possible definitely to


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Napoleon, the Last Phase


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