‘The Emperor Napoleon, by almost universal consent, is pronounced to be, intellectually, the most illustrious of mankind. Even his bitterest enemies are compelled to do homage to the universality and the grandeur of his genius. Lamartine declares him to be “the greatest of the creations of God.” … The genius of Napoleon is astounding. All branches of human knowledge seemed alike familiar to his gigantic mind.’
Nearing the end of his career as a ship surgeon, John Stokoe agreed in 1817 to take a three-year posting to St Helena on HMS Conqueror. At St Helena, there was discord following Lieutenant-General Sir Hudson Lowe’s controversial decision to dismiss Napoleon’s doctor, Barry O’Mara. Around this time, Napoleon asked that Stokoe, who had once attended him and who he understood was returning to St Helena, might attend him again ‘…or would the Governor authorise some other English doctor to come, providing he sign similar conditions as had been accepted by Stokoe in the past.’ Immediately after, Stokoe arrived at St Helena, was put under arrest and tried on varying counts – seven in all.
The third indictment read, ‘That he had signed a paper purporting to be a bulletin of General Bonaparte’s health, and divulged the same to the General and his attendants contrary to orders.’ The seventh indictment reported that, ‘That he had contrary to his duty, and the character of a British Naval Officer, communicated to General Bonaparte or his attendant an infamous and calumnious imputation cast upon Lieutenant-General Sir Hudson Lowe, etc., by Barry O’Meara, late surgeon in the Royal Navy’ – also now dismissed – ‘implying that Sir Hudson Lowe had practised with the said O’Meara to induce him to put an end to the existence of General Bonaparte.’
|234 x 156 mm
|15 June 2017
John Stokoe (1775-1852) set out for St Helena on HMS Conqueror in 1817. ‘I thought that I should see the great man and probably have the honour of conversing with him – little did I think at that time that the honour would be so dearly purchased!’ He married late in life, but was predeceased by his wife and two daughters. He died of a stroke in 1852. This edition was edited by his daughter, Edith Stokoe.