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Map of St Helena, 1815 (detail)
Napoleon I's exile on the island of St Helena has contributed greatly to a heightened interest - particularly amongst the British public - in this scrap of land in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. Lieutenant Read - his name and rank are the only details we know of him - was commissioned by a publisher to update the existing map. It is likely that this officer was at some point posted to the island and thus in a position to add certain cartographical precisions. The basis for the map comes from a well-known collection compiled by John Seller in 1675 called Altas maritimus. The print - the work of R. Kirkwood - was subsequently hand-painted. The map, 22 inches by 16.5 inches in size, is folded into fifteen sections - which can be opened out - and comes in the form of a 6.3 inches by 8.7 inches book. Offering a top-down view of the island, the map's outline, relief, and geographical plains are printed and hand-painted. In accordance with the classical approach to cartography, the map is also decorated with trees, ships, cannons, residences, and even whales (perhaps sperm whales) firing powerful jets of water from their blowholes, lending an illustrative air to the island's geographical representation. Each country property lists its owner, whilst the Helenian "landmarks", such as telegraphs and the citadel, are also depicted, thus adding some supplementary but precious historical information to the document. Three published editions in three years - plus a subsequent fourth edition, printed in 1841 - suggest that the map was successful, commercially speaking. The first edition was published in October 1815 by London's Burgis & Barfoot (32 Southampton Street, The Strand). This version is the rarest - and thus most sought-after - because it lists "Buonaparte's" residence as Plantation House, which subsequently went on to become the governor's "palace", occupied by Hudson Lowe. The second edition, also dated October 1815, rectified some labelling mistakes: Longwood, naturally, became Napoleon's home, Mr Balcombe's house - The Briars - was changed to "Buonaparte's first residence", and Plantation House was captioned "Residence of Governor". The precise date of this edition is uncertain: either it is correctly dated and it was a matter of a few days or weeks between the two print runs, or the date is out by a couple of months, but the publisher did not see fit (or simply forgot) to change the print date. The third edition - which contained no changes - went on sale on 4 June, 1817, and was produced by a different London printing and publishing firm (this time J. M. Rippin, n° 21 Theobald's Road). The fourth edition - from 1841 - was released once again by Burgis & Barfoot. This edition was timed to coincide with another Napoleonic event: the return of the emperor's remains to Paris - the "Retour des Cendres" - which took place in 1840.
The map is incorrectly named Descriptive sketch of Saint Helena.
Document available online via the Fondation Napoléon's digital library. EditionThe geographical plan of the Island & Forts of Ste HelenaIs dedicated by permission to Field Marshal His [Roya]l Highness the Duke of Kent and Strathearn by Lieu[tenant] R. P. ReadLondon: Published by Burgis & Barfoot, 1815 [second edition]
19th century drawing, taken from the play's Classique Larousse edition (1987) © D.R.
On 10 September, 1860, the premiere of Eugène Labiche's Le Voyage de Monsieur Perrichon, a comedy in four acts, was held at the Théâtre du Gymnase in Paris. The play, considered by many to be representative of the bourgeoisie during the Second Empire, ran until 15 September (cf. the issues of the Moniteur Universel from 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 September, 1860) and featured one of the Second Empire's most famous actors, Geoffroy,* in the role of Monsieur Perrichon. The play's historyBy 1860, Eugène Labiche was one of France's most successful dramatists. His first play, La Cuvette d'eau, was most likely written in 1837, but his first success came in 1851 with Un chapeau de paille en Italie. Le Voyage de Monsieur Perrichon, written in collaboration with Edouard Martin, was quite unlike any of Labiche's other plays. Whilst his previous works usually saw the plot unfold in domestic surroundings, Labiche's latest work saw the Perrichon family take the audience on a journey from Paris' Gare de Lyon to Savoie's glaciers. The play, written over the course of 1860, did not take long to complete and clearly took its inspiration from current affairs, namely, France's annexation of Nice and Savoie. The parallel ends there however. Le Voyage de Monsieur Perrichon is a comedy of manners, featuring comic and absurdist situations. The author was more concerned with portraying the Parisian bourgeois individual than Savoyard society. And it was the railway, not the current political situation, that interested him the most. Although the introduction and development of the railway in France was slow, by 1860 it was well established within the empire. The Compagnie des chemins de fer de Paris à Lyon et à la Méditerranée (known more simply known as the PLM) was founded in 1857 following the amalgamation of the Paris-Lyon and Lyon-Méditerranée companies. The network proceeded to expand, including a line to Geneva via Lyon (as seen in the play), and developments in equipment continued apace, with locomotive speeds soon reaching 60 km per hour. Following its opening at the Théâtre du Gymnase on 10 September, Le Voyage de Monsieur Perrichon was a triumphant success, earning Labiche the nickname "king of the Vaudeville". This success has proved long-lasting and in 1906, the play was added to the Comédie Française's repertory. SummaryMonsieur Perrichon, a rich coachbuilder by profession, is an honest but vain member of the bourgeoisie who decides to take a pleasure trip in the company of his wife Caroline and his daughter Henriette. The family, deciding on a train journey to the Swiss Alps, arrive at Gare de Lyon in Paris where they happen upon two young suitors, both with the same goal of marrying Henriette. Over the course of the journey, the two men are involved in an honourable but fierce struggle for the young lady's hand in marriage. * NoteJean Marie Geoffroy (1813-1883), known simply as "Geoffroy", joined the Théâtre du Gymnase in Paris in 1844 and very quickly became one of its mainstays. His performances were, on the whole, critically well received: "He is positively brimming with unexpected brio. His fame has become almost a source of renown in itself". (J. Arago, 1852); "He has a laugh that is his own, a pleasant laugh that fills the auditorium. Other comic actors draw from that which is serious for their effect, using it to sell the jokes, good or bad, that make up their roles; Geoffroy's approach is the opposite". In 1863, after nineteen years of service, he left the Théâtre du Gymnase to work with the Théâtre du Palais-Royal. It was there that his career blossomed, making him one of the most successful actors of his time.
Act OneGare de Lyon, Paris. Upstage, a barrier opens into the waiting rooms. Upstage left, a ticket office. Upstage right, benches. Stage right, pastry seller; stage left, book seller. Scene one:Majorin, a railway employee; a porter, travellers, station agents Majorin, pacing impatiently"That Perrichon isn't coming! I have been waiting an hour. Yet it is definitely today that he leaves for Switzerland with his wife and daughter... (Bitterly) Coachbuilders holidaying in Switzerland! Coachbuilders with incomes of forty thousand pounds! Coachbuilders owning carriages! What a century we live in! Whereas I, I earn two thousand four hundred francs... A hardworking, intelligent employee, always at my desk... Today I requested leave... I said that I was on duty... I absolutely must see Perrichon before his departure... I am going to ask him to advance me this quarter's pay... six hundred francs! He will assume his most beneficent manner and adopt a self-important air!... a coachbuilder! What a pitiful sight! He still isn't here! One would think he is doing it deliberately!..."Emmanuelle Papot (September 2010, tr. & ed. H.D.W.)
- Full text (external link in French)- Eugène Labiche, Le Voyage de Monsieur Perrichon, Classique Larousse, 1987- Henri Lyonnet, Le Dictionnaire des comédiens français, vol. 2, Geneva, 19e, sd.
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Histoire de Napoléon, par M. de Norvins, illustrée par Raffet, (Paris: Furne et Cie, 1827)
Le vrai patineur (The true skater), Delespinasse, 1813
Napoleon, a life, by John Holland Rose
A History of the Peninsular War, by Sir Charles Oman
The official description of the Battle of Austerlitz, according to Napoleon's instructions
Mercure de France, 4 juillet 1807. Chateaubriand wrote: “It is in vain that Nero prospers ...”
Histoire de l'Empereur Napoléon (History of the Emperor Napoleon), by Laurent de l'Ardèche, illustrated by Horace Vernet (Paris: J.-J. Dubochet, 1839)
John R. Glover, secretary to Rear Admiral Cockburn (on board the "Northumberland"), with introd. and notes by J. Holland Rose, London, T. Fisher Unwin, 1906
Les origines de la légende napoléonienne: l'œuvre historique de Napoléon à Sainte-Hélène (English title: The exile of St Helena: the last phase in fact and fiction) by Philippe Gonnard (Paris, 1906)
The Life of Napoleon Buonaparte, Emperor of the French. With a Preliminary View of the French Revolution. By the Author of "Waverley", &c., de Walter Scott
Galerie des enfans célébres, by M. le comte de Barins, 1836
The Statistics of ‘Napoleonic France'
Burial of Sir John Moore, 1809
Andreas Hofer by William Wordsworth
Mémorial de Sir Hudson Lowe, relatif à la captivité de Napoléon à Sainte-Hélène, Paris, Léo Dureuil, 1830
"The geographical plan of the Island & Forts of Ste Helena"
Clement Shorter, Napoleon in his own defence (London, 1910)
A Napoleonic collection in the heart of London
Funérailles de l'Empereur Napoléon , Album de lithographies. Ouvrage dédié à Son Altesse Royale le prince de Joinville, chargé par le roi d'accomplir le dernier voeu de l'Empereur
The Publication of Letters of the French Army, Intercepted by the British
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La fête impériale, par Frédéric Loliée (Paris: F. Joven, 1907)
Le voyage de Monsieur Perrichon, a comedy in four parts, by Eugène Labiche
© Fondation Napoléon 2008