Torescue Napoleon

When his autobiographies were published, Cochrane was a hero and a legend, and his version of his astonishing career in South America was read with respect and total belief. No one seems to have doubted or questioned any-
thing he said. Indeed, the dramatic quality of his story, the nobility of the causes for which he fought and, indeed, the Settling Accounts element ofbetrayal by lessermen – mostly foreigners – confirmed Cochrane inthe Victorian imagination asthe ideal warrior hero. Inevitablytoo, the story stimulated a host of supporting legends and myths. Cochrane claimed, for example, thatinthe Pacific,his fearful enemies had called him ‘El Diablo’. There is no evidence for this. Indeed his only known nickname is that recorded by Paroissien – ‘el metálico lord’, the spirit of which is roughly translated as ‘the count of cash’ or ‘the baron of bullion’! Likewise loose words from Kitty resulted in a story that Cochrane had sent Colonel Charles torescue Napoleon from St Helena and make him Emperor of South America.19 This is a complete fable made the more ridiculous by the fact that
Charles was killed two months before he is alleged to have set out for the South Atlantic.

Lord Cochrane spent the last years of his life in the home of his son and heir Thomas, at Queen’s Gate, Kensington.

But he was an old man, and his health and memory were deteriorating rapidly. He underwent two painful operations for kidney stones in1860 but, alas,did notsurvive the second and died on 31 October, just short of his eighty-fifth birthday. He was buried on 14 November with allthe elaborate ceremonial ofaVictorian funeral –an ornate hearse with sixplumed black horses, eightcarriages of mourners, and silent crowds lining the route as the procession wound its way along Knightsbridge and Piccadilly, through St James Street and Pall Mall and into Parliament Street. The ceremony was attended by a galaxy of naval and political personalities representing the various stages of his career, including Admiral Sir George Seymour of the Royal Navy who had fought with him at the Basque Roads, John Pascoe Grenfell, his old follower in South America who was now a Brazilian Vice Admiral, and the Ministers of Brazil and Chile. As befitted a hero, he was buried in Westminster Abbey.

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