The deposed Emperor sent Anne Savary and Emmanuel Las Cases to HMS Bellerophon to negotiate the terms of his surrender with the 38-year old Captain Frederick Maitland. Napoleon was willing to do anything possible to avoid being captured by the Bourbons and the Prussians for fear of execution.
The interview with Maitland was promising. The Royal Navy officer told Napoleon that he would be received well in England. Although Maitland had no authority to make any promises, Napoleon assumed from what he heard that he would be given an asylum as the guest of the British rather than a prisoner of war. It was wishful thinking on Napoleon’s part.
On the night of the 14th he composed a letter to the Prince Regent. ‘Your Royal Highness,’ he wrote, ‘Exposed to the factions which divide my country and the enmity of the European Powers, I have ended my political career, and I come, like Themistocles, to seat myself at the hearth of the British people. I put myself under the protection of its laws, which I claim from Your Royal Highness as the most powerful, the most constant and the most generous of my enemies.’ Napoleon’s letter went unanswered.