[Dr James Roche Verling, Napoleon's personal physician on St Helena.] Typescript: 'The St. Helena Journal of Dr. James Verling. A typewritten copy of the original manuscript presented to Napoleon III and now in Les Archives Nationales at Paris.'

James Roche Verling (1787-1858), Irish physician in the British Army, personal surgeon to Napoleon Bonaparte on St Helena, 1818-1820 [Norman F. Edwards]
Publication details: 
Note: 'This copy, one of six, belongs to - | Norman F. Edwards. | March, 1934.'
SKU: 15177

[4] + 172pp., 8vo. Attractively typed up with the greatest skill and care in black, with underlining in red, on 176 leaves, interleaved and bound in an attractive red morocco leather half-binding, with cloth boards and marbled endpapers, spine in six compartments tooled in gilt with title 'THE VERLING JOURNAL', and red ribbon bookmark. In very good condition, lightly-aged in binding with the slightest wear and fading to the cloth. The text is preceded by a typed title page, a one-page 'Note' and a two-page introduction by 'Mr. Morgan, | Oriental Club, London', titled 'The History of the Journal of Dr. James Verling'. The 'Note' reads: 'This Journal is a typewritten copy of the original manuscript in Les Archives Nationales in Paris. | So far as is known only six copies of the Journal are in existence - this copy, a copy presented to the descendants of Dr. Verling, one in the possession of Dr. J.F. Silk, one in the possession of Dr. Arnold Chaplin, one in the possession of Monsieur Emile Brouwat, and one in the possession of Canon E. Brook-Jackson.' In his 'History' Morgan explains how on 25 July 1818 Sir Hudson 'removed Barry O'Meara from Longwood, St Helena, and from his position of medical attendant to the Emperor Napoleon. On the same day he ordered Dr. James Verling, Surgeon to the detachment of Royal Artillery stationed at St Helena, to take up his residence at Longwood in order to be in readiness to afford medical assistance to Napoleon, and other residents at Longwood, should his services be required. Napoleon, however, refused to see Verling, and although the doctor was living in close proximity to him for more than a year, he was never brought into personal contact with him. | While in residence at Longwood, Verling kept a Diary, and as he was the medium of many communications of considerable historical importance, passing between the Governor and the people of Longwood, the Diary is of great value as first hand evidence.' Morgan proceeds to explain how the original journal passed from Verling's heirs into 'the keeping of Dr. Ellis, a nephew and a Surgeon in the Navy'. Ellis left the journal with a friend 'who was travelling in the East and presumably forgot all about it', and 'left it on board a vessel in the Eastern Seas'. The journal was then 'brought to Mr. [James] Morgan, the British Consul at Tien Tsin, who conceived the idea of presenting it to his Majesty Napoleon III.' Morgan concludes by explaining how this was done, and giving a transcription of the inscription on the first page of the manuscript. Verling's journal was the last major document concerning Napoleon's exile on St. Helena to be published. Edited by J. David Markham, it appeared for the first time in 2005 under the title 'Napoleon and Doctor Verling on St Helena' (Barnsley: Pen & Sword Military), and received the President's Choice Award from the International Napoleonic Society as a 'significant contribution to Napoleonic studies'. The entries in Verling's journal date from 25 July 1818 to 23 April 1820. Despite the lack of any direct contact between Verling and Napoleon, and the absence of any great revelations, the journal is filled with interest, with the Emperor looming large in Verling's description of his dealings with Napoleon's circle, led by Counts Montholon and Bertrand, as they intrigue for small victories over the English authorities. A typical entry, in September 1819, reads: 'I walked with Madame Bertrand in the evening, who at first seemed to think everything was arranged, and talked about the conversation I should have with the Emperor, etc. At last she enquired particularly what Montholon had said to me, and was much surprised at my refusal to give my word. She parted from me by saying she supposed I reserved a surprise for her, and that she expected to hear next morning that I had been called to the Emperor.' The journal contains transcriptions of Verling's correspondence, including letters received by Verling from Sir Hudson Lowe, his aide-de-camp Major Gideon Gorrequer and others, as well as giving details of Verling treatments (often involving recourse to calomel and the mercury-filled 'blue pill'). Typical of the mixture of medical description and reporting is the entry of 14 September 1819: 'Montholon continues to complain much of his side. He has been taking blue pill, ten grains at night for some time back. Talked with him about Napoleon, who had not, he said, taken the castor oil, but whom he hoped would take it to-morrow morning; said he had taken two Glysters with salt without effect, that he, Montholon, had proposed to him to put in some of the purging salt which I had taken him, but he refused because he said Montholon had none in his possession, but would have to ask me for it. Montholon said that whatever was the nature of his attack in January last, he had not been the same man since; he spent most of his time in bed, the slightest bodily exertion fatigued him, and "quant à son travail", it was sometimes so unworthy of his former productions that he was on the point of telling him so, but that he had read "Gil Blas." | He said that Napoleon "avait un fond de philosophie"; [...]'. Verling's relations with the Governor Sir Hudson Lowe are equally strained, as he attempts to retain his professional integrity in the face of pressure to act as an informer on Napoleon and his circle. The diary ends on 23 April 1820 with a 'long and angry conversation' between Verling and Lowe on the 'correctness' of Verling's 'conduct': 'In the conversation with Sir H. Lowe, on my observing that I had not been treated with the confidence I expected, he remarked that I had not sought his confidence, but had endeavoured to fill the situation in an [sic] independent a manner as possible. | To this I made no answer, and do not conceive it any imputation on my conduct.'