The Objects

11th Mar 1815

Weekly Register better image resized.jpeg
Source: The British Library, with permission. Image © The British Library Board.

News reaches Britain

Contributed by: Mark Philp

In 'Cobbett’s Weekly Register' for Saturday 11 March, in an open letter on popular opinion, the author, ‘Amicus Britanniæ’, pondered that ‘although there no longer exists a Napoleon, to direct the terrifying energies of once all powerful France, yet the sufferings of this feeling is alleviated with nothing less than the total annihilation of its power; safety emanates only in the prospect of its compression on every side by the absorption of independent states, no matter how subversive of natural rights, or unwarranted in justice…The charm which gave decided victory to the arms of France, wherever they appeared, is shattered in the entrance of hostile armies in Paris: the spirit which once animated their fragments can never more be combined, to render them fearful to the repose of Europe.’

Immediately following the piece Cobbett’s astonishment was writ large in his announcement of Napoleon’s return.

This juxtaposition of out-of-date commentary and breaking news was characteristic of many newspapers. On the same day, for example, the Morning Post included a poem referring to Napoleon’s downfall – ‘Like proud napoleon – from the throne rais’d on high,/ Swift toppled down- neglected thou shalt lie’ – while also publishing a translation of Louis XVIII’s ordinance declaring that ‘Napoleon Bonaparte is declared a Traitor and a Rebel, for having introduced himself by force of arms, into the Department of the Var’.

Once the news was out, however, some were quick to react: The Examiner for Sunday 12 March 1815 noted that ‘The first notice of this most memorable event was announced by Mr. Rosschild, the Exchange Broker, who sold stock to the amount of 600,000l on the receipt of the news by express from France.’