The Life of Horatio Lord Nelson
Robert Southey

Part 1 out of 5

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LL.D., F.R.S.,

Many Lives of Nelson have been written; one is yet wanting, clear and
concise enough to become a manual for the young sailor, which he may
carry about with him till he has treasured it up for example in his
memory and in his heart. In attempting such a work I shall write the
eulogy of our great national hero, for the best eulogy of NELSON is
the faithful history of his actions, and the best history must be
that which shall relate them most perspicuously.


1758 - 1783

Nelson's Birth and Boyhood--He is entered on Board the RAISONABLE--
Goes to the West Indies in a Merchant-ship; then serves in the TRIUMPH
--He sails in Captain Phipps' Voyage of Discovery--Goes to the East
Indies in the SEAHORSE, and returns in ill Health--Serves as acting
Lieutenant in the WORCESTER, and is made Lieutenant into the LOWESTOFFE,
Commander into the BADGER Brig, and Post into the HINCHINBROKE--
Expedition against the Spanish Main--Sent to the North Seas in the
ALBERMARLE--Services during the American War.


HORATIO, son of Edmund and Catherine Nelson, was born September 29,
1758, in the parsonage-house of Burnham Thorpe, a village in the county
of Norfolk, of which his father was rector. His mother was a daughter of
Dr. Suckling, prebendary of Westminster, whose grandmother was sister of
Sir Robert Walpole, and this child was named after his godfather, the
first Lord Walpole. Mrs. Nelson died in 1767, leaving eight out of eleven
children. Her brother, Captain Maurice Suckling, of the navy visited the
widower upon this event, and promised to take care of one of the boys.
Three years afterwards, when HORATIO was only twelve years of age, being
at home during the Christmas holidays, he read in the county newspaper
that his uncle was appointed to the RAISONNABLE, of sixty-four guns."Do,
William," said he to a brother who was a year and a half older than him-
self, "write to my father, and tell him that I should like to go to sea
with uncle Maurice." Mr.Nelson was then at Bath, whither he had gone for
the recovery of his health: his circumstances were straitened, and he
had no prospect of ever seeing them bettered: he knew that it was the
wish of providing for himself by which Horatio was chiefly actuated, and
did not oppose his resolution; he understood also the boy's character,
and had always said, that in whatever station he might be placed, he
would climb if possible to the very top of the tree. Captain Suckling
was written to. "What," said he in his answer,"has poor Horatio done,
who is so weak, that he, above all the rest, should be sent to rough it
out at sea?--But let him come; and the first time we go into action, a
cannon-ball may knock off his head, and provide for him at once."

It is manifest from these words that Horatio was not the boy whom his
uncle would have chosen to bring up in his own profession. He was never
of a strong body; and the ague, which at that time was one of the most
common diseases in England, had greatly reduced his strength; yet he had
already given proofs of that resolute heart and nobleness of mind which,
during his whole career of labour and of glory, so eminently
distinguished him. When a mere child, he strayed a-birds'-nesting from
his grandmother's house in company with a cowboy: the dinner-hour
elapsed; he was absent, and could not be found; and the alarm of the
family became very great, for they apprehended that he might have been
carried off by gipsies. At length, after search had been made for him in
various directions, he was discovered alone, sitting composedly by the
side of a brook which he could not get over. "I wonder, child," said the
old lady when she saw him,"that hunger and fear did not drive you home."
"Fear! grandmama:" replied the future hero,"I never saw fear:--What is
it?" Once, after the winter holidays, when he and his brother William
had set off on horseback to return to school, they came back, because
there had been a fall of snow; and William, who did not much like the
journey, said it was too deep for them to venture on. "If that be the
case," said the father, "you certainly shall not go; but make another
attempt, and I will leave it to your honour. If the road is dangerous
you may return: but remember, boys, I leave it to your honour!" The snow
was deep enough to have afforded them a reasonable excuse; but Horatio
was not to be prevailed upon to turn back. "We must go on," said he:
"remember, brother, it was left to our honour!"--There were some fine
pears growing in the schoolmaster's garden, which the boys regarded as
lawful booty, and in the highest degree tempting; but the boldest among
them were afraid to venture for the prize. Horatio volunteered upon this
service: he was lowered down at night from the bedroom window by some
sheets, plundered the tree, was drawn up with the pears, and then
distributed them among his school-fellows without reserving any for
himself. "He only took them," he said, "because every other boy was

Early on a cold and dark spring morning Mr. Nelson's servant arrived
at this school, at North Walsham, with the expected summons for Horatio
to join his ship. The parting from his brother William, who had been for
so many years his playmate and bed-fellow, was a painful effort, and was
the beginning of those privations which are the sailor's lot through
life. He accompanied his father to London. The RAISONNABLE was lying in
the Medway. He was put into the Chatham stage, and on its arrival was
set down with the rest of the passengers, and left to find his way on
board as he could. After wandering about in the cold, without being able
to reach the ship, an officer observed the forlorn appearance of the
boy, questioned him; and happening to be acquainted with his uncle, took
him home and gave him some refreshments. When he got on board, Captain
Suckling was not in the ship, nor had any person been apprised of the
boy's coming. He paced the deck the whole remainder of the day without
being noticed by any one; and it was not till the second day that
somebody, as he expressed it, "took compassion on him." The pain which
is felt when we are first transplanted from our native soil--when the
living branch is cut from the parent tree is one of the most poignant
which we have to endure through life. There are after-griefs which wound
more deeply, which leave behind them scars never to be effaced, which
bruise the spirit, and sometimes break the heart; but never do we feel
so keenly the want of love, the necessity of being loved, and the sense
of utter desertion, as when we first leave the haven of home, and are,
as it were, pushed off upon the stream of life. Added to these feelings,
the sea-boy has to endure physical hardships, and the privation of every
comfort, even of sleep. Nelson had a feeble body and an affectionate
heart, and he remembered through life his first days of wretchedness in
the service.

The RAISONNABLE having been commissioned on account of the dispute
respecting the Falkland Islands, was paid off as soon as the difference
with the court of Spain was accommodated, and Captain Suckling was
removed to the TRIUMPH, seventy-four, then stationed as a guard-ship in
the Thames. This was considered as too inactive a life for a boy, and
Nelson was therefore sent a voyage to the West Indies in a merchant-
ship, commanded by Mr. John Rathbone, an excellent seaman, who had
served as master's mate under Captain Suckling in the Dreadnought. He
returned a practical seaman, but with a hatred of the king's service,
and a saying then common among the sailors--"Aft the most honour;
forward the better man." Rathbone had probably been disappointed and
disgusted in the navy; and, with no unfriendly intentions, warned Nelson
against a profession which he himself had found hopeless. His uncle
received him on board the TRIUMPH on his return, and discovering his
dislike to the navy, took the best means of reconciling him to it. He
held it out as a reward that, if he attended well to his navigation, he
should go in the cutter and decked long-boat, which was attached to the
commanding-officer's ship at Chatham. Thus he became a good pilot for
vessels of that description from Chatham to the Tower, and down the Swin
Channel to the North Foreland, and acquired a confidence among rocks and
sands of which he often felt the value.

Nelson had not been many months on board the TRIUMPH, when his love
of enterprise was excited by hearing that two ships were fitting out for
a voyage of discovery towards the North Pole. In consequence of the
difficulties which were expected on such a service, these vessels were
to take out effective men instead of the usual number of boys. This,
however, did not deter him from soliciting to be received, and, by his
uncle's interest, he was admitted as coxswain under Captain Lutwidge,
second in command. The voyage was undertaken in compliance with an
application from the Royal Society. The Hon. Captain Constantine John
Phipps, eldest son of Lord Mulgrave, volunteered his services. The
RACEHORSE and CARCASS bombs were selected as the strongest ships, and,
therefore, best adapted for such a voyage; and they were taken into dock
and strengthened, to render them as secure as possible against the ice.
Two masters of Greenlandmen were employed as pilots for each ship. No
expedition was ever more carefully fitted out; and the First Lord of the
Admiralty, Lord Sandwich, with a laudable solicitude, went on board
himself, before their departure, to see that everything had been
completed to the wish of the officers. The ships were provided with a
simple and excellent apparatus for distilling fresh from salt water, the
invention of Dr. Irving, who accompanied the expedition. It consisted
merely in fitting a tube to the ship's kettle, and applying a wet mop to
the surface as the vapour was passing. By these means, from thirty-four
to forty gallons were produced every day.

They sailed from the Nore on the 4th of June. On the 6th of July they
were in latitude 79d 56m 39s; longitude 9d 43m 30s E. The next day,
about the place where most of the old discoverers had been stopped, the
RACEHORSE was beset with ice; but they hove her through with ice-
anchors. Captain Phipps continued ranging along the ice, northward and
westward, till the 24th; he then tried to the eastward. On the 30th he
was in latitude 80d 13m; longitude 18d 48m E. among the islands and in
the ice, with no appearance of an opening for the ships. The weather was
exceedingly fine, mild, and unusually clear. Here they were becalmed in
a large bay, with three apparent openings between the islands which
formed it; but everywhere, as far as they could see, surrounded with
ice. There was not a breath of air, the water was perfectly smooth, the
ice covered with snow, low and even, except a few broken pieces near the
edge; and the pools of water in the middle of the ice-fields just
crusted over with young ice. On the next day the ice closed upon them,
and no opening was to be seen anywhere, except a hole, or lake as it
might be called, of about a mile and a half in circumference, where the
ships lay fast to the ice with their ice-anchors. From these ice-fields
they filled their casks with water, which was very pure and soft. The
men were playing on the ice all day; but the Greenland pilots, who were
further than they had ever been before, and considered that the season
was far advancing, were alarmed at being thus beset.

The next day there was not the smallest opening; the ships were
within less than two lengths of each other, separated by ice, and
neither having room to turn. The ice, which the day before had been flat
and almost level with the water's edge, was now in many places forced
higher than the mainyard by the pieces squeezing together. A day of
thick fog followed: it was succeeded by clear weather; but the passage
by which the ships had entered from the westward was closed, and no open
water was in sight, either in that or any other quarter. By the pilots'
advice the men were set to cut a passage, and warp through the small
openings to the westward. They sawed through pieces of ice twelve feet
thick; and this labour continued the whole day, during which their
utmost efforts did not move the ships above three hundred yards; while
they were driven, together with the ice, far to the N.E. and E. by the
current. Sometimes a field of several acres square would be lifted up
between two larger islands, and incorporated with them; and thus these
larger pieces continued to grow by aggregation. Another day passed, and
there seemed no probability of getting the ships out without a strong
E. or N.E. wind. The season was far advanced, and every hour lessened
the chance of extricating themselves. Young as he was, Nelson was
appointed to command one of the boats which were sent out to explore a
passage into the open water. It was the means of saving a boat belonging
to the RACEHORSE from a singular but imminent danger. Some of the
officers had fired at and wounded a walrus. As no other animal has so
human-like an expression in its countenance, so also is there none that
seems to possess more of the passions of humanity. The wounded animal
dived immediately, and brought up a number of its companions; and they
all joined in an attack upon the boat. They wrested an oar from one of
the men; and it was with the utmost difficulty that the crew could
prevent them from staving or upsetting her, till the CARCASS's boat came
up; and the walruses, finding their enemies thus reinforced, dispersed.
Young Nelson exposed himself in a more daring manner. One night, during
the mid-watch, he stole from the ship with one of his comrades, taking
advantage of a rising fog, and set off over the ice in pursuit of a
bear. It was not long before they were missed. The fog thickened, and
Captain Lutwidge and his officers became exceedingly alarmed for their
safety. Between three and four in the morning the weather cleared, and
the two adventurers were seen, at a considerable distance from the ship,
attacking a huge bear. The signal for them to return was immediately
made; Nelson's comrade called upon him to obey it, but in vain; his
musket had flashed in the pan; their ammunition was expended; and a
chasm in the ice, which divided him from the bear, probably preserved
his life. "Never mind," he cried; "do but let me get a blow at this
devil with the butt-end of my musket, and we shall have him." Captain
Lutwidge, however, seeing his danger, fired a gun, which had the desired
effect of frightening the beast; and the boy then returned, somewhat
afraid of the consequences of his trespass. The captain reprimanded him
sternly for conduct so unworthy of the office which he filled, and
desired to know what motive he could have for hunting a bear. "Sir,"
said he, pouting his lip, as he was wont to do when agitated, "I wished
to kill the bear, that I might carry the skin to my father."

A party were now sent to an island, about twelve miles off (named
Walden's Island in the charts, from the midshipman who was intrusted
with this service), to see where the open water lay. They came back with
information that the ice, though close all about them, was open to the
westward, round the point by which they came in. They said also, that
upon the island they had had a fresh east wind. This intelligence
considerably abated the hopes of the crew; for where they lay it had
been almost calm, and their main dependence had been upon the effect of
an easterly wind in clearing the bay. There was but one alternative:
either to wait the event of the weather upon the ships, or to betake
themselves to the boats. The likelihood that it might be necessary to
sacrifice the ships had been foreseen. The boats accordingly were
adapted, both in number and size, to transport, in case of emergency,
the whole crew; and there were Dutch whalers upon the coast, in which
they could all be conveyed to Europe. As for wintering where they were,
that dreadful experiment had been already tried too often. No time was
to be lost; the ships had driven into shoal water, having but fourteen
fathoms. Should they, or the ice to which they were fast, take the
ground, they must inevitably be lost; and at this time they were
driving fast toward some rocks on the N.E. Captain Phipps sent for the
officers of both ships, and told them his intention of preparing the
boats for going away. They were immediately hoisted out, and the fitting
begun. Canvas bread-bags were made, in case it should be necessary
suddenly to desert the vessels; and men were sent with the lead and line
to N. and E., to sound wherever they found cracks in the ice, that they
might have notice before the ice took the ground; for in that case the
ships must instantly have been crushed or overset.

On the 7th of August they began to haul the boats over the ice,
Nelson having command of a four-oared cutter. The men behaved
excellently well, like true British seamen: they seemed reconciled to
the thought of leaving the ships, and had full confidence in their
officers. About noon, the ice appeared rather more open near the
vessels; and as the wind was easterly, though there was but little of
it, the sails were set, and they got about a mile to the westward. They
moved very slowly, and were not now nearly so far to the westward as
when they were first beset. However, all sail was kept upon them, to
force them through whenever the ice slacked the least. Whatever
exertions were made, it could not be possible to get the boats to the
water's edge before the 14th; and if the situation of the ships should
not alter by that time, it would not be justifiable to stay longer by
them. The commander therefore resolved to carry on both attempts
together, moving the boats constantly, and taking every opportunity of
getting the ships through. A party was sent out next day to the westward
to examine the state of the ice: they returned with tidings that it was
very heavy and close, consisting chiefly of large fields. The ships,
however, moved something, and the ice itself was drifting westward.
There was a thick fog, so that it was impossible to ascertain what
advantage had been gained. It continued on the 9th; but the ships were
moved a little through some very small openings: the mist cleared off in
the afternoon, and it was then perceived that they had driven much more
than could have been expected to the westward, and that the ice itself
had driven still further. In the course of the day they got past the
boats, and took them on board again. On the morrow the wind sprang up to
the N.N.E. All sail was set, and the ships forced their way through a
great deal of very heavy ice. They frequently struck, and with such
force that one stroke broke the shank of the RACEHORSE's best bower-
anchor, but the vessels made way; and by noon they had cleared the ice,
and were out at sea. The next day they anchored in Smeerenberg Harbour,
close to that island of which the westernmost point is called Hakluyt's
Headland, in honour of the great promoter and compiler of our English
voyages of discovery.

Here they remained a few days, that the men might rest after their
fatigue. No insect was to be seen in this dreary country, nor any
species of reptile--not even the common earth-worm. Large bodies of ice,
called icebergs, filled up the valleys between high mountains, so dark
as, when contrasted with the snow, to appear black. The colour of the
ice was a lively light green. Opposite to the place where they fixed
their observatory was one of these icebergs, above three hundred feet
high; its side toward the sea was nearly perpendicular, and a stream of
water issued from it. Large pieces frequently broke off and rolled down
into the sea. There was no thunder nor lightning during the whole time
they were in these latitudes. The sky was generally loaded with hard
white clouds, from which it was never entirely free even in the clearest
weather. They always knew when they were approaching the ice long before
they saw it, by a bright appearance near the horizon, which the
Greenlandmen called the blink of the ice. The season was now so far
advanced that nothing more could have been attempted, if indeed anything
had been left untried; but the summer had been unusually favourable, and
they had carefully surveyed the wall of ice, extending for more than
twenty degrees between the latitudes of 80d and 81d, without the
smallest appearance of any opening.

The ships were paid off shortly after their return to England; and
Nelson was then placed by his uncle with Captain Farmer, in the SEAHORSE,
of twenty guns, then going out to the East Indies in the squadron under
Sir Edward Hughes. He was stationed in the foretop at watch and watch.
His good conduct attracted the attention of the master (afterwards
Captain Surridge), in whose watch he was; and upon his recommendation
the captain rated him as midshipman. At this time his countenance was
florid, and his appearance rather stout and athletic; but when he had
been about eighteen months in India, he felt the effects of that
climate, so perilous to European constitutions. The disease baffled all
power of medicine; he was reduced almost to a skeleton; the use of his
limbs was for some time entirely lost; and the only hope that remained
was from a voyage home. Accordingly he was brought home by Captain
Pigot, in the DOLPHIN; and had it not been for the attentive and careful
kindness of that officer on the way, Nelson would never have lived to
reach his native shores. He had formed an acquaintance with Sir Charles
Pole, Sir Thomas Troubridge, and other distinguished officers, then,
like himself, beginning their career: he had left them pursuing that
career in full enjoyment of health and hope, and was returning, from a
country in which all things were to him new and interesting, with a body
broken down by sickness, and spirits which had sunk with his strength.
Long afterwards, when the name of Nelson was known as widely as that of
England itself, he spoke of the feelings which he at this time endured.
"I felt impressed," said he, "with a feeling that I should never rise in
my profession. My mind was staggered with a view of the difficulties I
had to surmount and the little interest I possessed. I could discover no
means of reaching the object of my ambition. After a long and gloomy
reverie, in which I almost wished myself overboard, a sudden glow of
patriotism was kindled within me, and presented my king and country as
my patron. 'Well then,' I exclaimed, 'I will be a hero! and, confiding
in Providence, I will brave every danger!'"

Long afterwards Nelson loved to speak of the feelings of that moment;
and from that time, he often said, a radiant orb was suspended in his
mind's eye, which urged him onward to renown. The state of mind in which
these feelings began, is what the mystics mean by their season of
darkness and desertion. If the animal spirits fail, they represent it as
an actual temptation. The enthusiasm of Nelson's nature had taken a
different direction, but its essence was the same. He knew to what the
previous state of dejection was to be attributed; that an enfeebled
body, and a mind depressed, had cast this shade over his soul; but he
always seemed willing to believe that the sunshine which succeeded bore
with it a prophetic glory, and that the light which led him on was
"light from heaven."

His interest, however, was far better than he imagined, During his
absence, Captain Suckling had been made Comptroller of the Navy; his
health had materially improved upon the voyage; and as soon as the
DOLPHIN was paid off, he was appointed acting lieutenant in the
WORCESTER, sixty-four, Captain Mark Robinson, then going out with convoy
to Gibraltar. Soon after his return, on the 8th of April 1777, he passed
his examination for a lieutenancy. Captain Suckling sat at the head of
the board; and when the examination had ended, in a manner highly
honourable to Nelson, rose from his seat, and introduced him to the
examining captains as his nephew. They expressed their wonder that he
had not informed them of this relationship before; he replied that he
did not wish the younker to be favoured; he knew his nephew would pass a
good examination, and he had not been deceived. The next day Nelson
received his commission as second lieutenant of the LOWESTOFFE frigate,
Captain William Locker, then fitting out for Jamaica.

American and French privateers, under American colours, were at that
time harassing our trade in the West Indies: even a frigate was not
sufficiently active for Nelson, and he repeatedly got appointed to the
command of one of the LOWESTOFFE's tenders. During one of their cruises
the LOWESTOFFE captured an American letter-of-marque: it was blowing a
gale, and a heavy sea running. The first lieutenant being ordered to
board the prize, went below to put on his hanger. It happened to be
mislaid; and while he was seeking it, Captain Locker came on deck.
Perceiving the boat still alongside, and in danger every moment of being
swamped, and being extremely anxious that the privateer should be
instantly taken in charge, because he feared that It would otherwise
founder, he exclaimed, "Have I no officer in the ship who can board the
prize?" Nelson did not offer himself immediately, waiting, with his
usual sense of propriety, for the first lieutenant's return; but hearing
the master volunteer, he jumped into the boat, saying, "It is my turn
now; and if I come back, it is yours." The American, who had carried a
heavy press of sail in hope of escaping, was so completely water-logged
that the LOWESTOFFE's boat went in on deck and out again with the sea

About this time he lost his uncle. Captain Locker, however, who had
perceived the excellent qualities of Nelson, and formed a friendship for
him which continued during his life, recommended him warmly to Sir Peter
Parker, then commander-in-chief upon that station. In consequence of
this recommendation he was removed into the BRISTOL flag-ship, and Lieu-
tenant Cuthbert Collingwood succeeded him in the LOWESTOFFE. Sir Peter
Parker was the friend of both, and thus it happened that whenever Nelson
got a step in rank, Collingwood succeeded him. The former soon became
first lieutenant, and on the 8th of December 1778 was appointed
commander of the BADGER brig; Collingwood taking his place in the
BRISTOL. While the BADGER was lying in Montego Bay, Jamaica, the GLASGOW
of twenty guns came in and anchored there, and in two hours was in
flames, the steward having set fire to her while stealing rum out of the
after-hold. Her crew were leaping into the water, when Nelson came up in
his boats, made them throw their powder overboard and point their guns
upward; and by his presence of mind and personal exertions prevented the
loss of life which would otherwise have ensued. On the 11th of June 1779
he was made post into the HINCHINBROOK, of twenty-eight guns, an enemy's
merchantman, sheathed with wood, which had been taken into the service.
Collingwood was then made commander into the BADGER. A short time after
he left the LOWESTOFFE, that ship, with a small squadron, stormed the
fort of St. Fernando de Omoa, on the south side of the Bay of Honduras,
and captured some register ships which were lying under its guns. Two
hundred and fifty quintals of quicksilver and three millions of piastres
were the reward of this enterprise; and it is characteristic of Nelson
that the chance by which he missed a share in such a prize is never
mentioned in any of his letters; nor is it likely that it ever excited
even a momentary feeling of vexation.

Nelson was fortunate in possessing good interest at the time when it
could be most serviceable to him: his promotion had been almost as rapid
as it could be; and before he had attained the age of twenty-one he had
gained that rank which brought all the honours of the service within his
reach. No opportunity, indeed, had yet been given him of distinguishing
himself; but he was thoroughly master of his profession, and his zeal
and ability were acknowledged wherever he was known. Count d'Estaing,
with a fleet of one hundred and twenty-five sail, men of war and
transports, and a reputed force of five-and twenty thousand men,
threatened Jamaica from St. Domingo. Nelson offered his services to the
Admiral and to Governor-General Dalling, and was appointed to command
the batteries of Fort Charles, at Port Royal. Not more than seven
thousand men could be mustered for the defence of the island,--a number
wholly inadequate to resist the force which threatened them. Of this
Nelson was so well aware, that when he wrote to his friends in England,
he told them they must not be surprised to hear of his learning to speak
French. D'Estaing, however, was either not aware of his own superiority,
or not equal to the command with which he was intrusted: he attempted
nothing with his formidable armament; and General Dalling was thus left
to execute a project which he had formed against the Spanish colonies.

This project was, to take Fort San Juan on the river of that name,
which flows from Lake Nicaragua into the Atlantic; make himself master
of the lake itself, and of the cities of Granada and Leon; and thus cut
off the communication of the Spaniards between their northern and
southern possessions in America. Here it is that a canal between the two
seas may most easily be formed--a work more important in its
consequences than any which has ever yet been effected by human power.
Lord George Germaine, at that time secretary of state for the American
Department, approved the plan; and as discontents at that time were
known to prevail in the Nuevo Reyno, in Popayan, and in Peru, the more
sanguine part of the English began to dream of acquiring an empire in
one part of America, more extensive than that which they were on the
point of losing in another. General Dalling's plans were well formed;
but the history and the nature of the country had not been studied as
accurately as its geography: the difficulties which occurred in fitting
out the expedition delayed it till the season was too far advanced; and
the men were thus sent to adventure themselves, not so much against an
enemy, whom they would have beaten, as against a climate which would do
the enemy's work.

Early in the year 1780, five hundred men destined for this service
were convoyed by Nelson from Port Royal to Cape Gracias a Dios, in
Honduras. Not a native was to be seen when they landed: they had been
taught that the English came with no other intent than that of enslaving
them, and sending them to Jamaica. After a while, however, one of them
ventured down, confiding in his knowledge of one of the party; and by
his means the neighbouring tribes were conciliated with presents, and
brought in. The troops were encamped on a swampy and unwholesome plain,
where they were joined by a party of the 79th regiment from Black River,
who were already in a deplorable state of sickness. Having remained here
a month, they proceeded, anchoring frequently, along the Mosquito shore,
to collect their Indian allies, who were to furnish proper boats for the
river, and to accompany them. They reached the river San Juan, March
24th; and here, according to his orders, Nelson's services were to
terminate; but not a man in the expedition had ever been up the river,
or knew the distance of any fortification from its mouth; and he not
being one who would turn back when so much was to be done, resolved to
carry the soldiers up. About two hundred, therefore, were embarked in
the Mosquito shore craft and in two of the HINCHINBROOK's boats, and
they began their voyage. It was the latter end of the dry season, the
worst time for such an expedition; the river was consequently low.
Indians were sent forward through narrow channels between shoals and
sandbanks, and the men were frequently obliged to quit the boats and
exert their utmost strength to drag or thrust them along. This labour
continued for several days; when they came into deeper water, they had
then currents and rapids to contend with, which would have been insur-
mountable but for the skill of the Indians in such difficulties. The
brunt of the labour was borne by them and by the sailors--men never
accustomed to stand aloof when any exertion of strength or hardihood is
required. The soldiers, less accustomed to rely upon themselves, were of
little use. But all equally endured the violent heat of the sun,
rendered more intense by being reflected from the white shoals; while
the high woods, on both sides of the river, were frequently so close as
to prevent any refreshing circulation of air; and during the night all
were equally exposed to the heavy and unwholesome dews.

On the 9th of April they reached an island in the river, called San
Bartolomeo, which the Spaniards had fortified, as an outpost, with a
small semicircular battery, mounting nine or ten swivels, and manned
with sixteen or eighteen men. It commanded the river in a rapid and
difficult part of the navigation. Nelson, at the head of a few of his
seamen, leaped upon the beach. The ground upon which he sprung was so
muddy that he had some difficulty in extricating himself, and lost his
shoes: bare-footed, however, he advanced, and, in his own phrase,
BOARDED THE BATTERY. In this resolute attempt he was bravely supported
by Despard, at that time a captain in the army, afterward unhappily
executed for his schemes of revolutionary treason. The castle of San
Tuan is situated about 16 miles higher up; the stores and ammunition,
however, were landed a few miles below the castle, and the men had to
march through woods almost impassable. One of the men was bitten under
the eye by a snake which darted upon him from the bough of a tree. He
was unable to proceed from the violence of the pain; and when, after a
short while, some of his comrades were sent back to assist him, he was
dead, and the body already putrid. Nelson himself narrowly escaped a
similar fate. He had ordered his hammock to be slung under some trees,
being excessively fatigued, and was sleeping, when a monitory lizard
passed across his face. The Indians happily observed the reptile; and
knowing what it indicated, awoke him. He started up, and found one of
the deadliest serpents of the country coiled up at his feet. He suffered
from poison of another kind; for drinking at a spring in which some
boughs of the manchineel had been thrown, the effects were so severe as,
in the opinion of some of his friends, to inflict a lasting injury upon
his constitution.

The castle of San Juan is 32 miles below the point where the river
issues from the Lake of Nicaragua, and 69 from its mouth. Boats reach
the sea from thence in a day and a-half; but their navigation back, even
when unladen, is the labour of nine days. The English appeared before it
on the 11th, two days after they had taken San Bartolomeo. Nelson's
advice was, that it should instantly be carried by assault; but Nelson
was not the commander; and it was thought proper to observe all the
formalities of a siege. Ten days were wasted before this could be
commenced. It was a work more of fatigue than of danger; but fatigue was
more to be dreaded than the enemy; the rains set in; and could the
garrison have held out a little longer, diseases would have rid them of
their invaders. Even the Indians sunk under it, the victims of unusual
exertion, and of their own excesses. The place surrendered on the 24th.
But victory procured to the conquerors none of that relief which had
been expected; the castle was worse than a prison; and it contained
nothing which could contribute to the recovery of the sick, or the
preservation of those who were yet unaffected. The huts which served for
hospitals were surrounded with filth, and with the putrefying hides of
slaughtered cattle--almost sufficient of themselves to have engendered
pestilence; and when at last orders were given to erect a convenient
hospital, the contagion had become so general that there were none who
could work at it; for besides the few who were able to perform garrison
duty, there were not orderly men enough to assist the sick. Added to
these evils, there was the want of all needful remedies; for though the
expedition had been amply provided with hospital stores, river craft
enough had not been procured for transporting the requisite baggage; and
when much was to be left behind, provision for sickness was that which
of all things men in health would be most ready to leave. Now, when
these medicines were required, the river was swollen, and so turbulent
that its upward navigation was almost impracticable. At length even the
task of burying the dead was more than the living could perform, and the
bodies were tossed into the stream, or left for beasts of prey, and for
the gallinazos--those dreadful carrion birds, which do not always wait
for death before they begin their work. Five months the English
persisted in what may be called this war against nature; they then left
a few men, who seemed proof against the climate, to retain the castle
till the Spaniards should choose to retake it and make them prisoners.
The rest abandoned their baleful conquest. Eighteen hundred men were
sent to different posts upon this wretched expedition: not more than
three hundred and eighty ever returned. The HINCHINBROOK's complement
consisted of two hundred men; eighty-seven took to their beds in one
night, and of the whole crew not more than ten survived.

The transports' men all died, and some of the ships, having none left
to take care of them, sunk in the harbour: but transport ships were not
wanted, for the troops which they had brought were no more: they had
fallen, not by the hand of an enemy, but by the deadly influence of the

Nelson himself was saved by a timely removal. In a few days after the
commencement of the siege he was seized with the prevailing dysentery;
meantime Captain Glover (son of the author of LEONIDAS) died, and Nelson
was appointed to succeed him in the Janus, of forty-four guns; Colling-
wood being then made post into the HINCHINBROOK. He returned to the har-
bour the day before San Juan surrendered, and immediately sailed for
Jamaica in the sloop which brought the news of his appointment. He was,
however, so greatly reduced by the disorder, that when they reached Port
Royal he was carried ashore in his cot; and finding himself, after a
partial amendment, unable to retain the command of his new ship, he was
compelled to ask leave to return to England, as the only means of
recovery. Captain (afterwards Admiral) Cornwallis took him home in the
LION; and to his fare and kindness Nelson believed himself indebted for
his life. He went immediately to Bath, in a miserable state; so helpless
that he was carried to and from his bed; and the act of moving him
produced the most violent pain. In three months he recovered, and
immediately hastened to London, and applied for employment. After an
interval of about four months he was appointed to the ALBEMARLE, of
twenty-eight guns, a French merchantman which had been purchased from
the captors for the king's service.

His health was not yet thoroughly re-established; and while he was
employed in getting his ship ready, he again became so ill. as hardly to
be able to keep out of bed. Yet in this state, still suffering from the
fatal effect of a West Indian climate, as if it might almost be
supposed, he said, to try his constitution, he was sent to the North
Seas, and kept there the whole winter. The asperity with which he
mentioned this so many years afterwards evinces how deeply he resented a
mode of conduct equally cruel to the individual and detrimental to the
service. It was during the armed neutrality; and when they anchored off
Elsinore, the Danish Admiral sent on board, desiring to be informed what
ships had arrived, and to have their force written down. "The
ALBEMARLE," said Nelson to the messenger, "is one of his Britannic
Majesty's ships: you are at liberty, sir, to count the guns as you go
down the side; and you may assure the Danish Admiral that, if necessary,
they shall all be well served." During this voyage he gained a
considerable knowledge of the Danish coast and its soundings, greatly to
the advantage of his country in after-times. The ALBEMARLE was not a
good ship, and was several times nearly overset in consequence of the
masts having been made much too long for her. On her return to England
they were shortened, and some other improvements made at Nelson's
suggestion. Still he always insisted that her first owners, the French,
had taught her to run away, as she was never a good sailer except when
going directly before the wind.

On their return to the Downs, while he was ashore visiting the senior
officer, there came on so heavy a gale that almost all the vessels
drove, and a store-ship came athwart-hawse of the ALBEMARLE. Nelson
feared she would drive on the Goodwin Sands; he ran to the beach; but
even the Deal boatmen thought it impossible to get on board, such was
the violence of the storm. At length some of the most intrepid offered
to make the attempt for fifteen guineas; and to the astonishment and
fear of all the beholders, he embarked during the height of the tempest.
With great difficulty and imminent danger he succeeded in reaching her.
She lost her bowsprit and foremast, but escaped further injury. He was
now ordered to Quebec, where his surgeon told him he would certainly be
laid up by the climate. Many of his friends urged him to represent this
to Admiral Keppel; but having received his orders from Lord Sandwich,
there appeared to him an indelicacy in applying to his successor to have
them altered.

Accordingly he sailed for Canada. During her first cruise on that
station the ALBEMARLE captured a fishing schooner which contained in her
cargo nearly all the property that her master possessed, and the poor
fellow had a large family at home, anxiously expecting him. Nelson
employed him as a pilot in Boston Bay, then restored him the schooner
and cargo, and gave him a certificate to secure him against being
captured by any other vessel. The man came off afterwards to the
ALBEMARLE, at the hazard of his life, with a present of sheep, poultry,
and fresh provisions. A most valuable supply it proved, for the scurvy
was raging on board: this was in the middle of August, and the ship's
company had not had a fresh meal since the beginning of April. The
certificate was preserved at Boston in memory of an act of unusual
generosity; and now that the fame of Nelson has given interest to
everything connected with his name, it is regarded as a relic. The
ALBEMARLE had a narrow escape upon this cruise. Four French sail of the
line and a frigate, which had come out of Boston harbour, gave chase to
her; and Nelson, perceiving that they beat him in sailing, boldly ran
among the numerous shoals of St. George's Bank, confiding in his own
skill in pilotage. Captain Salter, in the STA. MARGARETTA, had escaped
the French fleet by a similar manoeuvre not long before. The frigate
alone continued warily to pursue him; but as soon as he perceived that
this enemy was unsupported, he shortened sail and hove to; upon which
the Frenchman thought it advisable to give over the pursuit, and sail in
quest of his consorts.

At Quebec Nelson became acquainted with Alexander Davison, by whose
interference he was prevented from making what would have been called an
imprudent marriage. The ALBEMARLE was about to leave the station, her
captain had taken leave of his friends, and was gone down the river to
the place of anchorage; when the next morning, as Davison was walking
on the beach, to his surprise he saw Nelson coming back in his boat.
Upon inquiring the cause of this reappearance, Nelson took his arm to
walk towards the town, and told him that he found it utterly impossible
to leave Quebec without again seeing the woman whose society had
contributed so much to his happiness there, and offering her his hand.
"If you do," said his friend, "your ruin must inevitably follow." "Then
let it follow," cried Nelson, "for I am resolved to do it" "And I,"
replied Davison, "am resolved you shall not." Nelson, however, upon this
occasion, was less resolute than his friend, and suffered himself to be
led back to the boat.

The ALBEMARLE was under orders to convoy a fleet of transports to New
York. "A very pretty job" said her captain, "at this late season of the
year" (October was far advanced), "for our sails are at this moment
frozen to the yards." On his arrival at Sandy Hook, he waited on the
commander-in-chief, Admiral Digby, who told him he was come on a fine
station for making prize-money. "Yes, sir," Nelson made answer, "but the
West Indies is the station for honour." Lord Hood, with a detachment of
Rodney's victorious fleet, was at that time at Sandy Hook: he had been
intimate with Captain Suckling; and Nelson, who was desirous of nothing
but honour, requested him to ask for the ALBEMARLE, that he might go to
that station where it was most likely to be obtained. Admiral Digby
reluctantly parted with him. His professional merit was already well
known; and Lord Hood, on introducing him to Prince William Henry, as the
Duke of Clarence was then called, told the prince, if he wished to ask
any questions respecting naval tactics, Captain Nelson could give him as
much information as any officer in the fleet. The Duke--who, to his own
honour, became from that time the firm friend of Nelson--describes him
as appearing the merest boy of a captain he had ever seen, dressed in a
full laced uniform, an old-fashioned waistcoat with long flaps, and his
lank unpowdered hair tied in a stiff Hessian tail of extraordinary
length; making altogether so remarkable a figure, that, says the duke, "I
had never seen anything like it before, nor could I imagine who he was,
nor what he came about. But his address and conversation were
irresistibly pleasing; and when he spoke on professional subjects, it
was with an enthusiasm that showed he was no common being."

It was expected that the French would attempt some of the passages
between the Bahamas; and Lord Hood, thinking of this, said to Nelson, "I
suppose, sir, from the length of time you were cruising among the Bahama
Keys, you must be a good pilot there." He replied, with that constant
readiness to render justice to every man which was so conspicuous in
all his conduct through life, that he was well acquainted with them
himself, but that in that respect his second lieutenant was far his
superior. The French got into Puerto Cabello, on the coast of Venezuela.
Nelson was cruising between that port and La Guapra, under French
colours, for the purpose of obtaining information; when a king's launch,
belonging to the Spaniards, passed near, and being hailed in French,
came alongside without suspicion, and answered all questions that were
asked concerning the number and force of the enemy's ships. The crew,
however, were not a little surprised when they were taken on board and
found themselves prisoners. One of the party went by the name of the
Count de Deux-Ponts. He was, however, a prince of the German empire, and
brother to the heir of the Electorate of Bavaria: his companions were
French officers of distinction, and men of science, who had been
collecting specimens in the various branches of natural history. Nelson,
having entertained them with the best his table could afford, told them
they were at liberty to depart with their boat, and all that it
contained: he only required them to promise that they would consider
themselves as prisoners if the commander-in-chief should refuse to
acquiesce in their being thus liberated: a circumstance which was not
likely to happen. Tidings soon arrived that the preliminaries of peace
had been signed; and the ALBEMARLE returned to England and was paid off.
Nelson's first business, after he got to London, even before he went to
see his relations, was to attempt to get the wages due to his men for
the various ships in which they had served during the war. "The disgust
of seamen to the navy," he said, "was all owing to the infernal plan of
turning them over from ship to ship; so that men could not be attached
to their officers, nor the officers care the least about the men." Yet
he himself was so beloved by his men that his whole ship's company
offered, if he could get a ship, to enter for her immediately. He was
now, for the first time, presented at court. After going through this
ceremony, he dined with his friend Davison at Lincoln's Inn. As soon as
he entered the chambers, he threw off what he called his iron-bound
coat; and, putting himself at ease in a dressing gown, passed the
remainder of the day in talking over all that had befallen them since
they parted on the shore of the River St. Lawrence.


1784 - 1793

Nelson goes to France-- Reappointed to the BOREAS at the Leeward Islands
in the BOREAS--His firm conduct concerning the American Interlopers and
the Contractors--Marries and returns to England--Is on the point of
quitting the Service in Disgust--Manner of Life while unemployed--
Appointed to the AGAMEMNON on the breaking out of the War of the French


"I HAVE closed the war," said Nelson in one of his letters, "without
a fortune; but there is not a speck in my character. True honour, I
hope, predominates in my mind far above riches." He did not apply
for a ship, because he was not wealthy enough to live on board in the
manner which was then become customary. Finding it, therefore,
prudent to economise on his half-pay during the peace, he went to
France, in company with Captain Macnamara of the navy, and took
lodgings at St. Omer's. The death of his favourite sister, Anne, who
died in consequence of going out of the ball-room at Bath when
heated with dancing, affected his father so much that it had nearly
occasioned him to return in a few weeks. Time, however, and reason
and religion, overcame this grief in the old man; and Nelson continued
at St. Omer's long enough to fall in love with the daughter of an Eng-
lish clergyman. This second attachment appears to have been less ardent
than the first, for upon weighing the evils of a straitened income
to a married man, he thought it better to leave France, assigning to
his friends something in his accounts as the cause. This prevented
him from accepting an invitation from the Count of Deux-Ponts to
visit him at Paris, couched in the handsomest terms of acknowledgment
for the treatment which he had received on board the ALBEMARLE.

The self-constraint which Nelson exerted in subduing this attachment
made him naturally desire to be at sea; and when, upon visiting
Lord Howe at the Admiralty, he was asked if he wished to be
employed, he made answer that he did. Accordingly in March, he
was appointed to the BOREAS, twenty-eight guns, going to the Leeward
Islands as a cruiser on the peace establishment. Lady Hughes and her
family went out with him to Admiral Sir Richard Hughes, who
commanded on that station. His ship was full of young midshipmen,
of whom there were not less than thirty on board; and happy were
they whose lot it was to be placed with such a captain. If he
perceived that a boy was afraid at first going aloft, he would say to him
in a friendly manner, "Well, sir, I am going a race to the mast-head,
and beg that I may meet you there." The poor little fellow instantly
began to climb, and got up how he could,--Nelson never noticed in
what manner, but when they met in the top, spoke cheerfully to him,
and would say how much any person was to be pitied who fancied
that getting up was either dangerous or difficult. Every day he went
into the school-room to see that they were pursuing their nautical
studies; and at noon he was always the first on deck with his quadrant.
Whenever he paid a visit of ceremony, some of these youths
accompanied him; and when he went to dine with the governor at
Barbadoes, he took one of them in his hand, and presented him, saying,
"Your Excellency must excuse me for bringing one of my midshipmen.
I make it a rule to introduce them to all the good company I can, as
they have few to look up to, besides myself, during the time they are
at sea."

When Nelson arrived in the West Indies, he found himself senior
captain, and consequently second in command on that station.
Satisfactory as this was, it soon involved him in a dispute with the
admiral, which a man less zealous for the service might have
avoided. He found the LATONA in English Harbour, Antigua, with a
broad pendant hoisted; and upon inquiring the reason, was presented
with a written order from Sir R. Hughes, requiring and directing him
to obey the orders of Resident Commissioner Moutray during the time
he might have occasion to remain there; the said resident
commissioner being in consequence, authorised to hoist a broad pendant
on board any of his Majesty's ships in that port that he might think
proper. Nelson was never at a loss how to act in any emergency.

"I know of no superior officers," said he, "besides the Lords
Commissioners of the Admiralty, and my seniors on the post list."
Concluding, therefore, that it was not consistent with the service for a
resident commissioner, who held only a civil situation, to hoist a broad
pendant, the moment that he had anchored he sent an order to the
captain of the LATONA to strike it, and return it to the dock-yard. He
went on shore the same day, dined with the commissioner, to show
him that he was actuated by no other motive than a sense of duty,
and gave him the first intelligence that his pendant had been struck.
Sir Richard sent an account of this to the Admiralty; but the case
could admit of no doubt, and Captain Nelson's conduct was approved.

He displayed the same promptitude on another occasion. While
the BOREAS, after the hurricane months were over, was riding at
anchor in Nevis Roads, a French frigate passed to leeward, close
along shore. Nelson had obtained information that this ship was
sent from Martinico, with two general officers and some engineers on
board, to make a survey of our sugar islands. This purpose he was
determined to prevent them from executing, and therefore he gave
orders to follow them. The next day he came up with them at
anchor in the roads of St. Eustatia, and anchored at about two cables'
length on the frigate's quarter. Being afterwards invited by the
Dutch governor to meet the French officers at dinner, he seized that
occasion of assuring the French captain that, understanding it was
his intention to honour the British possessions with a visit, he had
taken the earliest opportunity in his power to accompany him, in his
Majesty's ship the BOREAS, in order that such attention might be paid
to the officers of his Most Christian Majesty as every Englishman in
the islands would be proud to show. The French, with equal courtesy,
protested against giving him this trouble; especially, they said, as
they intended merely to cruise round the islands without landing on
any. But Nelson, with the utmost politeness, insisted upon paying
them this compliment, followed them close in spite of all their
attempts to elude his vigilance, and never lost sight of them; till,
finding it impossible either to deceive or escape him, they gave up
their treacherous purpose in despair, and beat up for Martinico.

A business of more serious import soon engaged his attention.
The Americans were at this time trading with our islands, taking
advantage of the register of their ships, which had been issued while
they were British subjects. Nelson knew that, by the Navigation
Act, no foreigners, directly or indirectly, are permitted to carry on
any trade with these possessions. He knew, also, that the Americans
had made themselves foreigners with regard to England; they had
disregarded the ties of blood and language when they acquired the
independence which they had been led on to claim, unhappily for
themselves before they were fit for it; and he was resolved that they
should derive no profit from those ties now. Foreigners they had
made themselves, and as foreigners they were to be treated. "If
once," said he, "they are admitted to any kind of intercourse with our
islands, the views of the loyalists, in settling at Nova Scotia, are
entirely done away; and when we are again embroiled in a French
war, the Americans will first become the carriers of these colonies,
and then have possession of them. Here they come, sell their cargoes
for ready money, go to Martinico, buy molasses, and so round and
round. The loyalist cannot do this, and consequently must sell a
little dearer. The residents here are Americans by connection and
by interest, and are inimical to Great Britain. They are as great
rebels as ever were in America, had they the power to show it." In
November, when the squadron, having arrived at Barbadoes, was to
separate, with no other orders than those for examining anchorages,
and the usual inquiries concerning wood and water, Nelson asked his
friend Collingwood, then captain of the MEDIATOR, whose opinions he
knew upon the subject, to accompany him to the commander-in-chief,
whom he then respectfully asked, whether they were not to attend to
the commerce of the country, and see that the Navigation Act was
respected--that appearing to him to be the intent of keeping men-of-war
upon this station in time of peace? Sir Richard Hughes replied,
he had no particular orders, neither had the Admiralty sent him any
Acts of Parliament. But Nelson made answer, that the Navigation
Act was included in the statutes of the Admiralty, with which every
captain was furnished, and that Act was directed to admirals, captains,
&c., to see it carried into execution. Sir Richard said he had never
seen the book. Upon this Nelson produced the statutes, read the
words of the Act, and apparently convinced the commander-in-chief,
that men-of-war, as he said, "were sent abroad for some other purpose
than to be made a show of." Accordingly orders were given to enforce
the Navigation Act.

Major-General Sir Thomas Shirley was at this time governor of the
Leeward Islands; and when Nelson waited on him, to inform him
how he intended to act, and upon what grounds, he replied, that "old
generals were not in the habit of taking advice from young gentlemen."
"Sir," said the young officer, with that confidence in himself which
never carried him too far, and always was equal to the occasion,"I
am as old as the prime minister of England, and I think myself as
capable of commanding one of his Majesty's ships as that minister is
of governing the state." He was resolved to do his duty, whatever
might be the opinion or conduct of others; and when he arrived upon
his station at St. Kitt's, he sent away all the Americans, not choosing
to seize them before they had been well apprised that the Act would
be carried into effect, lest it might seem as if a trap had been laid for
them. The Americans, though they prudently decamped from St.
Kitt's, were emboldened by the support they met with, and resolved
to resist his orders, alleging that king's ships had no legal power to
seize them without having deputations from the customs. The planters
were to a man against him; the governors and the presidents of the
different islands, with only a single exception, gave him no support;
and the admiral, afraid to act on either side, yet wishing to oblige the
planters, sent him a note, advising him to be guided by the wishes of
the president of the council. There was no danger in disregarding
this, as it came unofficially, and in the form of advice. But scarcely
a month after he had shown Sir Richard Hughes the law, and, as he
supposed, satisfied him concerning it, he received an order from him,
stating that he had now obtained good advice upon the point, and the
Americans were not to be hindered from coming, and having free
egress and regress, if the governor chose to permit them. An order
to the same purport had been sent round to the different governors
and presidents; and General Shirley and others informed him, in an
authoritative manner, that they chose to admit American ships, as the
commander-in-chief had left the decision to them. These persons,
in his own words, he soon "trimmed up, and silenced;" but it was a
more delicate business to deal with the admiral: "I must either," said
he, "disobey my orders, or disobey Acts of Parliament. I determined
upon the former, trusting to the uprightness of my intentions, and
believing that my country would not let me be ruined for protecting
her commerce." With this determination he wrote to Sir Richard;
appealed again to the plain, literal, unequivocal sense of the Navigation
Act; and in respectful language told him, he felt it his duty to
decline obeying these orders till he had an opportunity of seeing and
conversing with him. Sir Richard's first feeling was that of anger,
and he was about to supersede Nelson; but having mentioned the
affair to his captain, that officer told him he believed all the squadron
thought the orders illegal, and therefore did not know how far they
were bound to obey them. It was impossible, therefore, to bring
Nelson to a court-martial, composed of men who agreed with him in
opinion upon the point in dispute; and luckily, though the admiral
wanted vigour of mind to decide upon what was right, he was not
obstinate in wrong, and had even generosity enough in his nature to
thank Nelson afterwards for having shown him his error.

Collingwood in the MEDIATOR, and his brother, Wilfred Collingwood,
in the RATTLER, actively co-operated with Nelson. The custom-houses
were informed that after a certain day all foreign vessels
found in the ports would be seized; and many were, in consequence,
seized, and condemned in the Admiralty Court. When the BOREAS
arrived at Nevis, she found four American vessels deeply laden, and
what are called the island colours flying--white, with a red cross.
They were ordered to hoist their proper flag, and depart within 48
hours; but they refused to obey, denying that they were Americans.
Some of their crews were then examined in Nelson's cabin, where
the Judge of Admiralty happened to be present. The case was plain;
they confessed that they were Americans, and that the ships, hull
and cargo, were wholly American property; upon which he seized
them. This raised a storm: the planters, the custom-house, and
the governor, were all against him. Subscriptions were opened, and
presently filled, for the purpose of carrying on the cause in behalf of
the American captains; and the admiral, whose flag was at that
time in the roads, stood neutral. But the Americans and their
abettors were not content with defensive law. The marines, whom
he had sent to secure the ships, had prevented some of the masters
from going ashore; and those persons, by whose depositions it
appeared that the vessels and cargoes were American property,
declared that they had given their testimony under bodily fear, for
that a man with a drawn sword in his hand had stood over them
the whole time. A rascally lawyer, whom the party employed,
suggested this story; and as the sentry at the cabin door was a man
with a drawn sword, the Americans made no scruple of swearing
to this ridiculous falsehood, and commencing prosecutions against
him accordingly. They laid their damages at the enormous amount
of L40,000; and Nelson was obliged to keep close on board his own
ship, lest he should be arrested for a sum for which it would have
been impossible to find bail. The marshal frequently came on board
to arrest him, but was always prevented by the address of the first
lieutenant, Mr. Wallis. Had he been taken, such was the temper of
the people that it was certain he would have been cast for the whole
sum. One of his officers, one day, in speaking of the restraint which
he was thus compelled to suffer, happened to use the word PITY!
"Pity!" exclaimed Nelson: "Pity! did you say? I shall live, sir,
to be envied! and to that point I shall always direct my course."
Eight weeks remained in this state of duresse. During that time
the trial respecting the detained ships came on in the court of
Admiralty. He went on shore under a protection for the day from
the judge; but, notwithstanding this, the marshal was called upon
to take that opportunity of arresting him, and the merchants
promised to indemnify him for so doing. The judge, however, did his
duty, and threatened to send the marshal to prison if he attempted
to violate the protection of the court. Mr. Herbert, the president
of Nevis, behaved with singular generosity upon this occasion.
Though no man was a greater sufferer by the measures which
Nelson had pursued, he offered in court to become his bail for
L10,000 if he chose to suffer the arrest. The lawyer whom he had
chosen proved to be an able as well as an honest man; and
notwithstanding the opinions and pleadings of most of the counsel of
the different islands, who maintained that ships of war were not
justified in seizing American vessels without a deputation from the
customs, the law was so explicit, the case so clear, and Nelson
pleaded his own cause so well, that the four ships were condemned.
During the progress of this business he sent a memorial home to
the king, in consequence of which orders were issued that he should
be defended at the expense of the crown. And upon the representation
which he made at the same time to the Secretary of State, and
the suggestions with which he accompanied it, the Register Act was
framed. The sanction of Government, and the approbation of his
conduct which it implied, were highly gratifying to him; but he was
offended, and not without just cause, that the Treasury should have
transmitted thanks to the commander-in-chief for his activity and
zeal in protecting the commerce of Great Britain. "Had they
known all," said he, "I do not think they would have bestowed thanks
in that quarter, and neglected me. I feel much hurt that, after the
loss of health and risk of fortune, another should be thanked for
what I did against his orders. I either deserved to be sent out of
the service, or at least to have had some little notice taken of what
I had done. They have thought it worthy of notice, and yet have
neglected me. If this is the reward for a faithful discharge of my
duty, I shall be careful, and never stand forward again. But I have
done my duty, and have nothing to accuse myself of."

The anxiety which he had suffered from the harassing uncertainties
of law is apparent from these expressions. He had, however,
something to console him, for he was at this time wooing the niece of
his friend the president, then in her eighteenth year, the widow of Dr.
Nisbet, a physician. She had one child, a son, by name Josiah, who
was three years old. One day Mr. Herbert, who had hastened
half-dressed to receive Nelson, exclaimed, on returning to his
dressing-room, "Good God! if I did not find that great little man, of
whom everybody is so afraid, playing in the next room, under the dining-
table, with Mrs. Nisbet's child!" A few days afterwards Mrs.
Nisbet herself was first introduced to him, and thanked him for the
partiality which he had shown to her little boy. Her manners were
mild and winning; and the captain, whose heart was easily susceptible
of attachment, found no such imperious necessity for subduing his
inclinations as had twice before withheld him from marrying. They were
married on March 11, 1787: Prince William Henry, who had come
out to the West Indies the preceding winter, being present, by his
own desire, to give away the bride. Mr. Herbert, her uncle, was at
this time so much displeased with his only daughter, that he had
resolved to disinherit her, and leave his whole fortune, which was
very great, to his niece. But Nelson, whose nature was too noble to
let him profit by an act of injustice, interfered, and succeeded in
reconciling the president to his child.

"Yesterday," said one of his naval friends the day after the wedding,
"the navy lost one of its greatest ornaments by Nelson's marriage.
It is a national loss that such an officer should marry: had
it not been for this, Nelson would have become the greatest man
in the service." The man was rightly estimated; but he who
delivered this opinion did not understand the effect of domestic love
and duty upon a mind of the true heroic stamp.

"We are often separate," said Nelson, in a letter to Mrs. Nisbet a
few months before their marriage; "but our affections are not by any
means on that account diminished. Our country has the first
demand for our services; and private convenience or happiness must
ever give way to the public good. Duty is the great business of a
sea officer: all private considerations must give way to it, however
painful." "Have you not often heard," says he in another letter,
"that salt water and absence always wash away love ? Now I am
such a heretic as not to believe that article, for, behold, every
morning I have had six pails of salt water poured upon my head, and
instead of finding what seamen say to be true, it goes on so contrary
to the prescription, that you may, perhaps, see me before the fixed
time." More frequently his correspondence breathed a deeper strain.
"To write letters to you," says he,"is the next greatest pleasure I
feel to receiving them from you. What I experience when I read
such as I am sure are the pure sentiments of your heart, my poor
pen cannot express; nor, indeed, would I give much for any pen
or head which could express feelings of that kind. Absent from
you, I feel no pleasure: it is you who are everything to me. Without
you, I care not for this world; for I have found, lately, nothing
in it but vexation and trouble. These are my present sentiments.
God Almighty grant they may never change! Nor do I think they
will. Indeed there is, as far as human knowledge can judge, a
moral certainty that they cannot; for it must be real affection that
brings us together, not interest or compulsion." Such were the
feelings, and such the sense of duty, with which Nelson became a

During his stay upon this station he had ample opportunity of
observing the scandalous practices of the contractors, prize-agents,
and other persons in the West Indies connected with the naval service.
When he was first left with the command, and bills were brought him
to sign for money which was owing for goods purchased for the navy,
he required the original voucher, that he might examine whether
those goods had been really purchased at the market price; but to
produce vouchers would not have been convenient, and therefore was
not the custom. Upon this Nelson wrote to Sir Charles Middleton,
then Comptroller of the Navy, representing the abuses which were
likely to be practised in this manner. The answer which he received
seemed to imply that the old forms were thought sufficient; and
thus, having no alternative, he was compelled, with his eyes open, to
submit to a practice originating in fraudulent intentions. Soon
afterwards two Antigua merchants informed him that they were privy
to great frauds which had been committed upon government in
various departments; at Antigua, to the amount of nearly L500,000;
at Lucie, L300,000; at Barbadoes, L250,000; at Jamaica, upwards of
a million. The informers were both shrewd sensible men of business;
they did not affect to be actuated by a sense of justice, but required
a per-centage upon so much as government should actually recover
through their means. Nelson examined the books and papers which
they produced, and was convinced that government had been most
infamously plundered. Vouchers, he found, in that country, were no
check whatever: the principle was, that "a thing was always worth
what it would bring;" and the merchants were in the habit of signing
vouchers for each other, without even the appearance of looking at
the articles. These accounts he sent home to the different
departments which had been defrauded; but the peculators were too
powerful, and they succeeded not merely in impeding inquiry, but
even in raising prejudices against Nelson at the Board of Admiralty,
which it was many years before he could subdue.

Owing probably, to these prejudices, and the influence of the
peculators, he was treated, on his return to England, in a manner which
had nearly driven him from the service. During the three years that
the BOREAS had remained upon a station which is usually so fatal, not
a single officer or man of her whole complement had died. This
almost unexampled instance of good health, though mostly, no doubt,
imputable to a healthy season, must in some measure, also, be ascribed
to the wise conduct of the captain. He never suffered the ships to
remain more than three or four weeks at a time at any of the islands;
and when the hurricane months confined him to English Harbour, he
encouraged all kinds of useful amusements--music, dancing, and
cudgelling among the men; theatricals among the officers; anything
which could employ their attention, and keep their spirits cheerful.
The BOREAS arrived in England in June. Nelson, who had many
times been supposed to be consumptive when in the West Indies,
and perhaps was saved from consumption by that climate, was still
in a precarious state of health; and the raw wet weather of one of
our ungenial summers brought on cold, and sore throat, and fever;
yet his vessel was kept at the Nore from the end of June till the end
of November, serving as a slop and receiving ship. This unworthy
treatment, which more probably proceeded from inattention than
from neglect, excited in Nelson the strongest indignation. During
the whole five months he seldom or never quitted the ship, but carried
on the duty with strict and sullen attention. On the morning when
orders were received to prepare the BOREAS for being paid off, he
expressed his joy to the senior officer in the Medway, saying, "It will
release me for ever from an ungrateful service; for it is my firm and
unalterable determination never again to set my foot on board a
king's ship. Immediately after my arrival in town I shall wait on
the First Lord of the Admiralty, and resign my commission." The
officer to whom he thus communicated his intentions behaved in the
wisest and most friendly manner; for finding it in vain to dissuade him
in his present state of feeling, he secretly interfered with the First Lord
to save him from a step so injurious to himself, little foreseeing how
deeply the welfare and honour of England were at that moment at
stake. This interference produced a letter from Lord Howe the day
before the ship was paid off, intimating a wish to see Captain Nelson
as soon as he arrived in town; when, being pleased with his convers-
ation, and perfectly convinced, by what was then explained to him,
of the propriety of his conduct, he desired that he might present him
to the king on the first levee-day; and the gracious manner in which
Nelson was then received effectually removed his resentment.

Prejudices had been, in like manner, excited against his friend,
Prince William Henry. "Nothing is wanting, sir," said Nelson, in
one of his letters, "to make you the darling of the English nation but
truth. Sorry am I to say, much to the contrary has been dispersed."
This was not flattery, for Nelson was no flatterer. The letter in
which this passage occurs shows in how wise and noble a manner he
dealt with the prince. One of his royal highness's officers had
applied for a court-martial upon a point in which he was unquestionably
wrong. His royal highness, however, while he supported his own
character and authority, prevented the trial, which must have been
injurious to a brave and deserving man. "Now that you are parted,"
said Nelson, "pardon me, my prince, when I presume to recommend
that he may stand in your royal favour as if he had never sailed with
you, and that at some future day you will serve him. There only
wants this to place your conduct in the highest point of view. None
of us are without failings--his was being rather too hasty; but that,
put in competition with his being a good officer, will not, I am bold
to say, be taken in the scale against him. More able friends than
myself your royal highness may easily find, and of more consequence
in the state; but one more attached and affectionate is not so easily
met with: Princes seldom, very seldom, find a disinterested person
to communicate their thoughts to: I do not pretend to be that person;
but of this be assured, by a man who, I trust, never did a dishonourable
act, that I am interested only that your royal highness should be the
greatest and best man this country ever produced."

Encouraged by the conduct of Lord Howe, and by his reception at
court, Nelson renewed his attack upon the peculators with fresh spirit.
He had interviews with Mr. Rose, Mr. Pitt, and Sir Charles Middleton,
to all of whom he satisfactorily proved his charges. In consequence,
if is said, these very extensive public frauds were at length put
in a proper train to be provided against in future; his representations
were attended to; and every step which he recommended was adopted; the
investigation was put into a proper course, which ended in the
detection and punishment of some of the culprits; an immense
saving was made to government, and thus its attention was directed to
similar peculations in other arts of the colonies. But it is said also
that no mark of commendation seems to have been bestowed upon
Nelson for his exertion. It has been justly remarked that the spirit
of the navy cannot be preserved so effectually by the liberal honours
bestowed on officers when they are worn out in the service, as by an
attention to those who, like Nelson at this part of his life, have only
their integrity and zeal to bring them into notice. A junior officer,
who had been left with the command at Jamaica, received an additional
allowance, for which Nelson had applied in vain. Double pay
was allowed to every artificer and seaman employed in the naval
yard: Nelson had superintended the whole business of that yard with
the most rigid exactness, and he complained that he was neglected.
"It was most true," he said, "that the trouble which he took to detect
the fraudulent practices then carried on was no more than his duty;
but he little thought that the expenses attending his frequent journeys
to St. John's upon that duty (a distance of twelve miles) would have
fallen upon his pay as captain of the BOREAS." Nevertheless, the sense
of what he thought unworthy usage did not diminish his zeal. "I,"
said he,"must buffet the waves in search of--What? Alas! that
they called honour is thought of no more. My fortune, God knows,
has grown worse for the service; so much for serving my country!
But the devil, ever willing to tempt the virtuous, has made me offer, if
any ships should be sent to destroy his Majesty of Morocco's ports, to
be there; and I have some reason to think that, should any more
come of it, my humble services will be accepted. I have invariably
laid down, and followed close, a plan of what ought to be uppermost
in the breast of an officer,--that it is much better to serve an
ungrateful country than to give up his own fame. Posterity will do him
justice. A uniform course of honour and integrity seldom fails of
bringing a man to the goal of fame at last."

The design against the Barbary pirates, like all other designs
against them, was laid aside; and Nelson took his wife to his father's
parsonage, meaning only to pay him a visit before they went to France;
a project which he had formed for the sake of acquiring a competent
knowledge of the French language. But his father could not bear to
lose him thus unnecessarily. Mr. Nelson had long been an invalid,
suffering under paralytic and asthmatic affections, which, for several
hours after he rose in the morning, scarcely permitted him to speak.
He had been given over by his physicians for this complaint nearly
forty years before his death; and was, for many of his latter years,
obliged to spend all his winters at Bath. The sight of his son, he
declared, had given him new life. "But, Horatio," said he, "it would
have been better that I had not been thus cheered, if I am so soon to
be bereaved of you again. Let me, my good son, see you whilst I
can. My age and infirmities increase, and I shall not last long." To
such an appeal there could be no reply. Nelson took up his abode at
the parsonage, and amused himself with the sports and occupations of
the country. Sometimes he busied himself with farming the glebe;
sometimes spent the greater part of the day in the garden, where he
would dig as if for the mere pleasure of wearying himself. Sometimes
he went a birds'-nesting, like a boy; and in these expeditions
Mrs. Nelson always, by his expressed desire, accompanied him.
Coursing was his favourite amusement. Shooting, as he practised it,
was far too dangerous for his companions; for he carried his gun
upon the full cock, as if he were going to board an enemy; and the
moment a bird rose, he let fly without ever putting the fowling-piece
to his shoulder. It is not, therefore, extraordinary that his having
once shot a partridge should be remembered by his family among the
remarkable events of his life.

But his time did not pass away thus without some vexatious cares to
ruffle it. The affair of the American ships was not yet over, and he
was again pestered with threats of prosecution. "I have written them
word," said he, "that I will have nothing to do with them, and they
must act as they think proper. Government, I suppose, will do what
is right, and not leave me in the lurch. We have heard enough
lately of the consequences of the Navigation Act to this country.
They may take my person; but if sixpence would save me from a
prosecution, I would not give it." It was his great ambition at this
time to possess a pony; and having resolved to purchase one, he went
to a fair for that purpose. During his absence two men abruptly
entered the parsonage and inquired for him: they then asked for
Mrs. Nelson; and after they had made her repeatedly declare that
she was really and truly the captain's wife, presented her with a writ,
or notification, on the part of the American captains, who now laid
their damages at L20,000, and they charged her to give it to her
husband on his return. Nelson, having bought his pony, came home
with it in high spirits. He called out his wife to admire the purchase
and listen to all its excellences: nor was it till his glee had in some
measure subsided that the paper could be presented to him. His
indignation was excessive; and in the apprehension that he should
be exposed to the anxieties of the suit and the ruinous consequences
which might ensue, he exclaimed, "This affront I did not deserve!
But I'll be trifled with no longer. I will write immediately to the
Treasury, and if government will not support me, I am resolved to
leave the country." Accordingly, he informed the Treasury that, if
a satisfactory answer were not sent him by return of post, he should
take refuge in France. To this he expected he should be driven, and
for this he arranged everything with his characteristic rapidity of
decision. It was settled that he should depart immediately, and Mrs.
Nelson follow, under the care of his elder brother Maurice, ten days
after him. But the answer which he received from government
quieted his fears: it stated that Captain Nelson was a very good
officer, and needed to be under no apprehension, for he would
assuredly be supported.

Here his disquietude upon this subject seems to have ended. Still
he was not at ease; he wanted employment, and was mortified that
his applications for it produced no effect. "Not being a man of
fortune," he said, "was a crime which he was unable to get over, and
therefore none of the great cared about him." Repeatedly he
requested the Admiralty that they would not leave him to rust in
indolence. During the armament which was made upon occasion
of the dispute concerning Nootka Sound, he renewed his application;
and his steady friend, Prince William, who had then been
created Duke of Clarence, recommended him to Lord Chatham.
The failure of this recommendation wounded him so keenly that
he again thought of retiring from the service in disgust; a resolution
from which nothing but the urgent remonstrances of Lord
Hood induced him to desist. Hearing that the RAISONNABLE, in which
he had commenced his career, was to be commissioned, he asked
for her. This also was in vain; and a coolness ensued, on his part,
toward Lord Hood, because that excellent officer did not use his
influence with Lord Chatham upon this occasion. Lord Hood,
however, had certainly sufficient reasons for not interfering; for he
ever continued his steady friend. In the winter of 1792, when we were
on the eve of the revolutionary war, Nelson once more offered his
services, earnestly requested a ship, and added, that if their
lordships should be pleased to appoint him to a cockle-boat he should
feel satisfied. He was answered in the usual official form: "Sir, I
have received your letter of the 5th instant, expressing your readiness
to serve, and have read the same to my Lords Commissioners
of the Admiralty." On the 12th of December he received this dry
acknowledgment. The fresh mortification did not, however, affect
him long; for, by the joint interest of the Duke and Lord Hood, he
was appointed, on the 30th of January following, to the AGAMEMNON,
of sixty-four guns.


1793 - 1795

The AGAMEMNON sent to the Mediteranean--Commencement of Nelson's
Aquaintance with Sir W. Hamilton--He is sent to Corsica, to co-
operate with Paoli--State of Affairs in that Island--Nelson
undertakes the Siege of Bastia, and reduces it--Takes a distinguished
Part in the Siege of Calvi, where he loses an Eye--Admiral Hotham's
Action--The AGAMEMNON ordered to Genoa, to co-operate with the Austrian
and Sardinian Forces--Gross Misconduct of the Austrian General.


"THERE are three things, young gentleman," said Nelson to one of his
midshipmen, "which you are constantly to bear in mind. First, you must
always implicitly obey orders, without attempting to form any opinion of
your own respecting their propriety; secondly, you must consider every man
your enemy who speaks ill of your king; and, thirdly, you must hate a
Frenchman as you do the devil." With these feelings he engaged in the war.
Josiah, his son-in-law, went with him as a midshipman.

The AGAMEMNON was ordered to the Mediterranean under Lord Hood. The
fleet arrived in those seas at a time when the south of France would
willingly have formed itself into a separate republic, under the
protection of England. But good principles had been at that time
perilously abused by ignorant and profligate men; and, in its fear and
hatred of democracy, the English Government abhorred whatever was
republican. Lord Hood could not take advantage of the fair occasion
which presented itself; and which, if it had been seized with vigour,
might have ended in dividing France:--but he negotiated with the people
of Toulon, to take possession provisionally of their port and city; which,
fatally for themselves, was done. Before the British fleet entered, Nelson
was sent with despatches to Sir William Hamilton, our envoy at the Court
of Naples. Sir William, after his first interview with him, told
Lady Hamilton he was about to introduce a little man to her, who could
not boast of being very handsome; but such a man as, he believed, would
one day astonish the world. "I have never before," he continued,
"entertained an officer at my house; but I am determined to bring him
here. Let him be put in the room prepared for Prince Augustus." Thus
that acquaintance began which ended in the destruction of Nelson's
domestic happiness. It seemed to threaten no such consequences at its
commencement. He spoke of Lady Hamilton, in a letter to his wife, as a
young woman of amiable manners, who did honour to the station to which
she had been raised; and he remarked, that she had been exceedingly kind
to Josiah. The activity with which the envoy exerted himself in
procuring troops from Naples, to assist in garrisoning Toulon, so
delighted him, that he is said to have exclaimed, "Sir William, you are
a man after my own heart!--you do business in my own way:" and then to
have added, "I am now only a captain; but I will, if I live, be at the
top of the tree." Here, also, that acquaintance with the Neapolitan
court commenced, which led to the only blot upon Nelson's public
character. The king, who was sincere at that time in his enmity to the
French, called the English the saviours of Italy, and of his dominions
in particular. He paid the most flattering attentions to Nelson, made
him dine with him, and seated him at his right hand.

Having accomplished this mission, Nelson received orders to join
Commodore Linzee at Tunis. On the way, five sail of the enemy were
discovered off the coast of Sardinia, and he chased them. They proved to
be three forty-four gun frigates, with a corvette of twenty-four and a
brig of twelve. The AGAMEMNON had only 345 men at quarters, having
landed part of her crew at Toulon, and others being absent in prizes.
He came near enough one of the frigates to engage her, but at great
disadvantage, the Frenchman manoeuvring well and sailing greatly better.
A running fight of three hours ensued, during which the other ships,
which were at some distance, made all speed to come up. By this time
the enemy was almost silenced, when a favourable change of wind enabled
her to get out of reach of the AGAMEMNON's guns; and that ship had
received so much damage in the rigging that she could not follow her.
Nelson, conceiving that this was but the forerunner of a far more
serious engagement, called his officers together, and asked them if the
ship was fit to go into action against such a superior force without
some small refit and refreshment for the men. Their answer was, that she
certainly was not. He then gave these orders,--"Veer the ship, and lay
her head to the westward: let some of the best men be employed in refit-
ting the rigging, and the carpenter in getting crows and capstan-bars to
prevent our wounded spars from coming down: and get the wine up for the
people, with some bread, for it may be half an hour good before we are
again in action." But when the French came up, their comrade made
signals of distress, and they all hoisted out their boats to go to her
assistance, leaving the AGAMEMNON unmolested.

Nelson found Commodore Linzee at Tunis, where he had been sent to
expostulate with the dey upon the impolicy of his supporting the
revolutionary government of France. Nelson represented to him the
atrocity of that government. Such arguments were of little avail in
Barbary; and when the Dey was told that the French had put their
sovereign to death, he drily replied, that "Nothing could be more
heinous; and yet, if historians told the truth, the English had once
done the same." This answer had doubtless been suggested by the French
about him: they had completely gained the ascendancy, and all
negotiation on our part proved fruitless. Shortly afterward, Nelson was
detached with a small squadron, to co-operate with General Paoli and the
Anti-Gallican party in Corsica.

Some thirty years before this time the heroic patriotism of the
Corsicans, and of their leader Paoli, had been the admiration of
England. The history of these brave people is but a melancholy tale. The
island which they inhabit has been abundantly blessed by nature; it has
many excellent harbours; and though the MALARIA, or pestilential
atmosphere, which is so deadly in many parts of Italy and of the Italian
islands, prevails on the eastern coast, the greater part of the country
is mountainous and healthy. It is about 150 miles long, and from 40 to
50 broad; in circumference, some 320; a country large enough, and
sufficiently distant from the nearest shores, to have subsisted as an
independent state, if the welfare and happiness of the human race had
ever been considered as the end and aim of policy. The Moors, the
Pisans, the kings of Aragon, and the Genoese, successively attempted,
and each for a time effected its conquest. The yoke of the Genoese
continued longest, and was the heaviest. These petty tyrants ruled with
an iron rod; and when at any time a patriot rose to resist their
oppressions, if they failed to subdue him by force they resorted to
assassination. At the commencement of the last century they quelled one
revolt by the aid of German auxiliaries, whom the Emperor Charles VI.
sent against a people who had never offended him, and who were fighting
for whatever is most dear to man. In 1734 the war was renewed; and
Theodore, a Westphalian baron, then appeared upon the stage. In that age
men were not accustomed to see adventurers play for kingdoms, and
Theodore became the common talk of Europe. He had served in the French
armies; and having afterwards been noticed both by Ripperda and
Alberoni, their example, perhaps, inflamed a spirit as ambitious and as
unprincipled as their own. He employed the whole of his means in raising
money and procuring arms; then wrote to the leaders of the Corsican
patriots, to offer them considerable assistance, if they would erect
Corsica into an independent kingdom, and elect him king. When he landed
among them, they were struck with his stately person, his dignified
manners, and imposing talents. They believed the magnificent promises of
foreign assistance which he held out, and elected him king accordingly.
Had his means been as he represented them, they could not have acted
more wisely than in thus at once fixing the government of their country,
and putting an end to those rivalries among the leading families, which
had so often proved pernicious to the public weal. He struck money,
conferred titles, blocked up the fortified towns which were held by the
Genoese, and amused the people with promises of assistance for about
eight months: then, perceiving that they cooled in their affections
towards him in proportion as their expectations were disappointed, he
left the island, under the plea of expediting himself the succours which
he had so long awaited. Such was his address, that he prevailed upon
several rich merchants in Holland, particularly the Jews, to trust him
with cannon and warlike stores to a great amount. They shipped these
under the charge of a supercargo. Theodore returned with this supercargo
to Corsica, and put him to death on his arrival, as the shortest way of
settling the account. The remainder of his life was a series of deserved
afflictions. He threw in the stores which he had thus fraudulently
obtained; but he did not dare to land, for Genoa had now called in the
French to their assistance, and a price had been set upon his head. His
dreams of royalty were now at an end; he took refuge in London,
contracted debts, and was thrown into the King's Bench. After lingering
there many years, he was released under an act of insolvency, in
consequence of which he made over the kingdom of Corsica for the use of
his creditors, and died shortly after his deliverance.

The French, who have never acted a generous part in the history of
the world, readily entered into the views of the Genoese, which accorded
with their own policy: for such was their ascendancy at Genoa, that in
subduing Corsica for these allies, they were in fact subduing it for
themselves. They entered into the contest, therefore, with their usual
vigour, and their usual cruelty. It was in vain that the Corsicans
addressed a most affecting memorial to the court of Versailles; that
remorseless government persisted in its flagitious project. They poured
in troops; dressed a part of them like the people of the country, by
which means they deceived and destroyed many of the patriots; cut down
the standing corn, the vines, and the olives; set fire to the villages,
and hung all the most able and active men who fell into their hands. A
war of this kind may be carried on with success against a country so
small and so thinly peopled as Corsica. Having reduced the island to
perfect servitude, which they called peace, the French withdrew their
forces. As soon as they were gone, men, women, and boys rose at once
against their oppressors. The circumstances of the times were now
favourable to them; and some British ships, acting as allies of
Sardinia, bombarded Bastia and San Fiorenzo, and delivered them into the
hands of the patriots. This service was long remembered with gratitude:
the impression made upon our own countrymen was less favourable. They
had witnessed the heartburnings of rival chiefs, and the dissensions
among the patriots; and perceiving the state of barbarism to which
continual oppression, and habits of lawless turbulence, had reduced the
nation, did not recollect that the vices of the people were owing to
their unhappy circumstances, but that the virtues which they displayed
arose from their own nature. This feeling, perhaps, influenced the
British court, when, in 1746, Corsica offered to put herself under the
protection of Great Britain: an answer was returned, expressing
satisfaction at such a communication, hoping that the Corsicans would
preserve the same sentiments, but signifying also that the present was
not the time for such a measure.

These brave islanders then formed a government for themselves, under
two leaders, Gaffori and Matra, who had the title of protectors. The
latter is represented as a partisan of Genoa, favouring the views of the
oppressors of his country by the most treasonable means. Gaffori was a
hero worthy of old times. His eloquence was long remembered with
admiration. A band of assassins was once advancing against him; he heard
of their approach, went out to meet them; and, with a serene dignity
which overawed them, requested them to hear him. He then spake to them
so forcibly of the distresses of their country, her intolerable wrongs,
and the hopes and views of their brethren in arms, that the very men who
had been hired to murder him, fell at his feet, implored his
forgiveness, and joined his banner. While he was besieging the Genoese
in Corte, a part of the garrison perceiving the nurse with his eldest
son, then an infant in arms, straying at a little distance from the
camp, suddenly sallied out and seized them. The use they made of their
persons was in conformity to their usual execrable conduct. When Gaffori
advanced to batter the walls, they held up the child directly over that
part of the wall at which the guns were pointed. The Corsicans stopped:
but Gaffori stood at their head, and ordered them to continue the fire.
Providentially the child escaped, and lived to relate, with becoming
feeling, a fact so honourable to his father. That father conducted the
affairs of the island till 1753, when he was assassinated by some
wretches, set on, it is believed, by Genoa, but certainly pensioned by
that abominable government after the deed. He left the country in such a
state that it was enabled to continue the war two years after his death
without a leader: the Corsicans then found one worthy of their cause in
Pasquale de Paoli.

Paoli's father was one of the patriots who effected their escape from
Corsica when the French reduced it to obedience. He retired to Naples,
and brought up his youngest son in the Neapolitan service. The Corsicans
heard of young Paoli's abilities, and solicited him to come over to his
native country, and take the command. He did not hesitate long: his
father, who was too far advanced in years to take an active part
himself, encouraged him to go; and when they separated, the old man fell
on his neck, and kissed him, and gave him his blessing. "My son," said
he, "perhaps I may never see you more; but in my mind I shall ever be
present with you. Your design is great and noble; and I doubt not but
God will bless you in it. I shall devote to your cause the little
remainder of my life in offering up my prayers for your success." When
Paoli assumed the command, he found all things in confusion: he formed a
democratical government, of which he was chosen chief: restored the
authority of the laws; established a university; and took such measures,
both for repressing abuses and moulding the rising generation, that, if
France had not interfered, upon its wicked and detestable principle of
usurpation, Corsica might at this day have been as free, and flourishing
and happy a commonwealth as any of the Grecian states in the days of
their prosperity. The Genoese were at this time driven out of their
fortified towns, and must in a short time have been expelled. France was
indebted some millions of livres to Genoa: it was not convenient to pay
this money; so the French minister proposed to the Genoese, that she
should discharge the debt by sending six battalions to serve in Corsica
for four years. The indignation which this conduct excited in all
generous hearts was forcibly expressed by Rousseau, who, with all his
errors, was seldom deficient in feeling for the wrongs of humanity. "You
Frenchmen" said he, writing to one of that people, "are a thoroughly
servile nation, thoroughly sold to tyranny, thoroughly cruel and
relentless in persecuting the unhappy. If you knew of a freeman at the
other end of the world, I believe you would go thither for the mere
pleasure of extirpating him."

The immediate object of the French happened to be purely mercenary:
they wanted to clear off their debt to Genoa; and as the presence of
their troops in the island effected this, they aimed at doing the people
no farther mischief. Would that the conduct of England had been at this
time free from reproach! but a proclamation was issued by the English
government, after the peace of Paris, prohibiting any intercourse with
the rebels of Corsica. Paoli said, he did not expect this from Great
Britain. This great man was deservedly proud of his country. "I defy
Rome, Sparta, or Thebes," he would say, "to show me thirty years of such
patriotism as Corsica can boast!" Availing himself of the respite which
the inactivity of the French and the weakness of the Genoese allowed, he
prosecuted his plans of civilising the people. He used to say, that
though he had an unspeakable pride in the prospect of the fame to which
he aspired; yet if he could but render his countrymen happy, he could be
content to be forgotten. His own importance he never affected to
undervalue. "We are now to our country," said he, "like the prophet
Elisha stretched over the dead child of the Shunamite,--eye to eye, nose
to nose, mouth to mouth. It begins to recover warmth, and to revive: I
hope it will yet regain full health and vigour."

But when the four years were expired, France purchased the
sovereignty of Corsica from the Genoese for forty millions of livres; as
if the Genoese had been entitled to sell it; as if any bargain and sale
could justify one country in taking possession of another against the
will of the inhabitants, and butchering all who oppose the usurpation!
Among the enormities which France has committed, this action seems but
as a speck; yet the foulest murderer that ever suffered by the hand of
the executioner has infinitely less guilt upon his soul than the
statesman who concluded this treaty, and the monarch who sanctioned and
confirmed it. A desperate and glorious resistance was made, but it was
in vain; no power interposed in behalf of these injured islanders, and
the French poured in as many troops as were required. They offered to
confirm Paoli in the supreme authority, only on condition that he would
hold it under their government. His answer was, that "the rocks which
surrounded him should melt away before he would betray a cause which he
held in common with the poorest Corsican." This people then set a price
upon his head. During two campaigns he kept them at bay: they
overpowered him at length; he was driven to the shore, and having
escaped on shipboard, took refuge in England. It is said that Lord
Shelburne resigned his seat in the cabinet because the ministry looked
on without attempting to prevent France from succeeding in this
abominable and important act of aggrandizement. In one respect, however,
our country acted as became her. Paoli was welcomed with the honours
which he deserved, a pension of L1200 was immediately granted him, and
provision was liberally made for his elder brother and his nephew.

About twenty years Paoli remained in England, enjoying the friendship
of the wise and the admiration of the good. But when the French
Revolution began, it seemed as if the restoration of Corsica was at
hand. The whole country, as if animated by one spirit, rose and demanded
liberty; and the National Assembly passed a decree recognising the
island as a department of France, and therefore entitled to all the
privileges of the new French constitution. This satisfied the Corsicans,
which it ought not to have done; and Paoli, in whom the ardour of youth
was passed, seeing that his countrymen were contented, and believing
that they were about to enjoy a state of freedom, naturally wished to
return to his native country. He resigned his pension in the year 1790,
and appeared at the bar of the Assembly with the Corsican deputies, when
they took the oath of fidelity to France. But the course of events in
France soon dispelled those hopes of a new and better order of things,
which Paoli, in common with so many of the friends of human-kind, had
indulged; and perceiving, after the execution of the king, that a civil
war was about to ensue, of which no man could foresee the issue, he
prepared to break the connection between Corsica and the French
Republic. The convention suspecting such a design, and perhaps
occasioning it by their suspicions, ordered him to their bar. That way
he well knew led to the guillotine; and returning a respectful answer,
he declared that he would never be found wanting in his duty, but
pleaded age and infirmity as a reason for disobeying the summons. Their
second order was more summary; and the French troops, who were in
Corsica, aided by those of the natives, who were either influenced by
hereditary party feelings, or who were sincere in Jacobinism, took the
field against him. But the people were with him. He repaired to Corte,
the capital of the island, and was again invested with the authority
which he had held in the noonday of his fame. The convention upon this
denounced him as a rebel, and set a price upon his head. It was not the
first time that France had proscribed Paoli.

Paoli now opened a correspondence with Lord Hood, promising, if the
English would make an attack upon St. Fiorenzo from the sea, he would at
the same time attack it by land. This promise he was unable to perform;
and Commodore Linzee, who, in reliance upon it, was sent upon this
service, was repulsed with some loss. Lord Hood, who had now been
compelled to evacuate Toulon, suspected Paoli of intentionally deceiving
him. This was an injurious suspicion. Shortly afterwards he dispatched
Lieutenant-Colonel (afterward Sir John) Moore and Major Koehler to
confer with him upon a plan of operations. Sir Gilbert Elliot
accompanied them; and it was agreed that, in consideration of the
succours, both military and naval, which his Britannic Majesty should
afford for the purpose of expelling the French, the island of Corsica
should be delivered into the immediate possession of his Majesty, and
bind itself to acquiesce in any settlement he might approve of concern-
ing its government, and its future relation with Great Britain. While
this negotiation was going on, Nelson cruised off the island with a
small squadron, to prevent the enemy from throwing in supplies. Close to
St. Fiorenzo the French had a storehouse of flour near their only mill:
he watched an opportunity, and landed 120 men, who threw the flour into
the sea, burnt the mill, and re-embarked before 1000 men, who were sent
against him, could occasion them the loss of a single man. While be
exerted himself thus, keeping out all supplies, intercepting despatches,
attacking their outposts and forts, and cutting out vessels from the
bay,--a species of warfare which depresses the spirit of an enemy even
more than it injures them, because of the sense of individual
superiority which it indicates in the assailants--troops were landed,
and St. Fiorenzo was besieged. The French finding themselves unable to
maintain their post sunk one of their frigates, burnt another, and
retreated to Bastia. Lord Hood submitted to General Dundas, who
commanded the land forces, a plan for the reduction of this place: the
general declined co-operating, thinking the attempt impracticable with-
out a reinforcement of 2000 men, which he expected from Gibraltar. Upon
this Lord Hood determined to reduce it with the naval force under his
command; and leaving part of his fleet off Toulon, he came with the rest
to Bastia.

He showed a proper sense of respect for Nelson's services, and of
confidence in his talents, by taking care not to bring with him any
older captain. A few days before their arrival, Nelson had had what he
called a brush with the enemy. "If I had had with me 500 troops," he
said, "to a certainty I should have stormed the town; and I believe it
might have been carried. Armies go so slow that seamen think they never
mean to get forward; but I daresay they act on a surer principle,
although we seldom fail." During this partial action our army appeared
upon the heights; and having reconnoitered the place, returned to St.
Fiorenzo. "What the general could have seen to make a retreat neces-
sary," said Nelson, "I cannot comprehend. A thousand men would certainly
take Bastia: with five hundred and the AGAMEMNON I would attempt it. My
seamen are now what British seamen ought to be--almost invincible. They
really mind shot no more than peas." General Dundas had not the same
confidence. "After mature consideration," he said in a letter to Lord
Hood,"and a personal inspection for several days of all circumstances,
local as well as others, I consider the siege of Bastia, with our
present means and force, to be a most visionary and rash attempt; such
as no officer would be justified in undertaking." Lord Hood replied that
nothing would be more gratifying to his feelings than to have the whole
responsibility upon himself; and that he was ready and willing to
undertake the reduction of the place at his own risk with the force and
means at present there. General D'Aubant, who succeeded at this time to
the command of the army, coincided in opinion with his predecessor, and
did not think it right to furnish his lordship with a single soldier,
cannon, or any stores. Lord Hood could only obtain a few artillerymen;
and ordering on board that part of the troops who, having been embarked
as marines, "were borne on the ships" books as part of their respective
complements, he began the siege with 1183 soldiers, artillerymen, and
marines, and 250 sailors. "We are but few," said Nelson,"but of the
right sort; our general at St. Fiorenzo not giving us one of the five
regiments he has there lying idle."

These men were landed on the 4th of April, under Lieutenant-Colonel
Villettes and Nelson, who had now acquired from the army the title of
brigadier. Guns were dragged by the sailors up heights where it appeared
almost impossible to convey them--a work of the greatest difficulty, and
which Nelson said could never, in his opinion, have been accomplished by
any but British seamen. The soldiers, though less dexterous in such
service, because not accustomed, like sailors, to habitual dexterity.
behaved with equal spirit. "Their zeal," said the brigadier, "is almost
unexampled. There is not a man but considers himself as personally
interested in the event, and deserted by the general. It has, I am
persuaded, made them equal to double their numbers." This is one proof,
of many, that for our soldiers to equal our seamen, it is only necessary
for them to be equally well commanded. They have the same heart and
soul, as well as the same flesh and blood. Too much may, indeed, be
exacted from them in a retreat; but set their face toward a foe, and
there is nothing within the reach of human achievement which they cannot
perform. The French had improved the leisure which our military
commander had allowed them; and before Lord Hood commenced his
operations, he had the mortification of seeing that the enemy were every
day erecting new works, strengthening old ones, and rendering the
attempt more difficult. La Combe St. Michel, the commissioner from the
national convention, who was in the city, replied in these terms to the
summons of the British admiral--"I have hot shot for your ships, and
bayonets for your troops. When two-thirds of our men are killed, I will
then trust to the generosity of the English." The siege, however, was
not sustained with the firmness which such a reply seemed to augur. On
the 19th of May a treaty of capitulation was begun; that same evening
the troops from St. Fiorenzo made their appearance on the hills; and, on
the following morning, General d'Aubant arrived with the whole army to
take possession of Bastia.

The event of the siege had justified the confidence of the sailors;
but they themselves excused the opinion of the generals when they saw
what they had done. "I am all astonishment," said Nelson, "when I
reflect on what we have achieved; 1000 regulars, 1500 national guards,
and a large party of Corsican troops, 4000 in all, laying down their
arms to 1200 soldiers, marines, and seamen! I always was of opinion,
have ever acted up to it, and never had any reason to repent it, that
one Englishman was equal to three Frenchmen. Had this been an English
town, I am sure it would not have been taken by them." When it had been
resolved to attack the place, the enemy were supposed to be far inferior
in number; and it was not till the whole had been arranged, and the
siege publicly undertaken, that Nelson received certain information of
the great superiority of the garrison. This intelligence he kept secret,
fearing lest, if so fair a pretext were afforded, the attempt would be
abandoned. "My own honour," said he to his wife, "Lord Hood's honour,
and the honour of our country, must have been sacrificed had I mentioned
what I knew; therefore you will believe what must have been my feelings
during the whole siege, when I had often proposals made to me to write
to Lord Hood to raise it." Those very persons who thus advised him, were
rewarded for their conduct at the siege of Bastia: Nelson, by whom it
may truly be affirmed that Bastia was taken, received no reward. Lord
Hood's thanks to him, both public and private, were, as he himself said,
the handsomest which man could give; but his signal merits were not so
mentioned in the despatches as to make them sufficiently known to the
nation, nor to obtain for him from government those honours to which
they so amply entitled him. This could only have arisen from the haste
in which the despatches were written; certainly not from any deliberate
purpose, for Lord Hood was uniformly his steady and sincere friend.

One of the cartel's ships, which carried the garrison of Bastia to
Toulon, brought back intelligence that the French were about to sail
from that port;-such exertions had they made to repair the damage done
at the evacuation, and to fit out a fleet. The intelligence was speedily
verified. Lord Hood sailed in quest of them toward the islands of
Hieres. The AGAMEMNON was with him. "I pray God," said Nelson, writing
to his wife, "that we may meet their fleet. If any accident should
happen to me, I am sure my conduct will be such as will entitle you to
the royal favour; not that I have the least idea but I shall return to
you, and full of honour: if not, the Lord's will be done. My name shall
never be a disgrace to those who may belong to me. The little I have, I
have given to you, except a small annuity--I wish it was more; but I
have never got a farthing dishonestly: it descends from clean hands.
Whatever fate awaits me, I pray God to bless you, and preserve you, for
your son's sake." With a mind thus prepared, and thus confident, his
hopes and wishes seemed on the point of being gratified, when the enemy
were discovered close under the land, near St. Tropez. The wind fell,
and prevented Lord Hood from getting between them and the shore, as he
designed: boats came out from Antibes and other places to their
assistance, and towed them within the shoals in Gourjean Roads, where
they were protected by the batteries on isles St. Honore and St.
Marguerite, and on Cape Garousse. Here the English admiral planned a new
mode of attack, meaning to double on five of the nearest ships; but the
wind again died away, and it was found that they had anchored in compact
order, guarding the only passage for large ships. There was no way of
effecting this passage, except by towing or warping the vessels; and
this rendered the attempt impracticable. For this time the enemy
escaped; but Nelson bore in mind the admirable plan of attack which Lord
Hood had devised, and there came a day when they felt its tremendous

The AGAMEMNON was now despatched to co-operate at the siege of Calvi
with General Sir Charles Stuart; an officer who, unfortunately for his
country, never had an adequate field allotted him far the display of
those eminent talents which were, to all who knew him, so conspicuous.
Nelson had less responsibility here than at Bastia; and was acting with
a man after his own heart, who was never sparing of himself, and slept
every night in the advanced battery. But the service was not less hard
than that of the former siege. "We will fag ourselves to death," said he
to Lord Hood, "before any blame shall lie at our doors. I trust it will
not be forgotten, that twenty-five pieces of heavy ordnance have been
dragged to the different batteries, mounted, and, all but three, fought
by seamen, except one artilleryman to point the guns." The climate
proved more destructive than the service; for this was during the lion
sun, as they call our season of the dog-days. Of 2000 men, above half
were sick, and the rest like so many phantoms. Nelson described himself
as the reed among the oaks, bowing before the storm when they were laid
low by it. "All the prevailing disorders have attacked me," said he, "but
I have not strength enough for them to fasten on." The loss from the
enemy was not great; but Nelson received a serious injury: a shot
struck the ground near him, and drove the sand and small gravel into one
of his eyes. He spoke of it slightly at the time: writing the same day
to Lord Hood, he only said that he bad got a little hurt that morning,
not much; and the next day, he said, he should be able to attend his
duty in the evening. In fact, he suffered it to confine him only one
day; but the sight was lost.

After the fall of Calvi, his services were, by a strange omission,
altogether overlooked; and his name was not even mentioned in the list
of wounded. This was no ways imputable to the admiral, for he sent home
to government Nelson's journal of the siege, that they might fully
understand the nature of his indefatigable and unequalled exertions. If
those exertions were not rewarded in the conspicuous manner which they
deserved, the fault was in the administration of the day, not in Lord
Hood. Nelson felt himself neglected. "One hundred and ten days," said
he, "I have been actually engaged at sea and on shore against the enemy;
three actions against ships, two against Bastia in my ship, four boat
actions, and two villages taken, and twelve sail of vessels burnt. I do
not know that any one has done more. I have had the comfort to be always
applauded by my Commander-in-Chief, but never to be rewarded; and, what
is more mortifying, for services in which I have been wounded, others
have been praised, who, at the same time, were actually in bed, far from
the scene of action. They have not done me justice. But never mind, I'll
have a GAZETTE of my own." How amply was this second-sight of glory

The health of his ship's company had now, in his own words, been
miserably torn to pieces by as hard service as a ship's crew ever
performed: 150 were in their beds when he left Calvi; of them he lost 54
and believed that the constitutions of the rest were entirely destroyed.
He was now sent with despatches to Mr. Drake, at Genoa, and had his
first interview with the Doge. The French had, at this time, taken
possession of Vado Bay, in the Genoese territory; and Nelson foresaw
that, if their thoughts were bent on the invasion of Italy, they would
accomplish it the ensuing spring. "The allied powers," he said, "were
jealous of each other; and none but England was hearty in the cause."
His wish was for peace on fair terms, because England he thought was
draining herself to maintain allies who would not fight for themselves.
Lord Hood had now returned to England, and the command devolved on
Admiral Hotham. The affairs of the Mediterranean wore at this time a
gloomy aspect. The arts, as well as the arms of the enemy, were gaining
the ascendancy there. Tuscany concluded peace relying upon the faith of
France, which was, in fact, placing itself at her mercy. Corsica was in
danger. We had taken that island for ourselves, annexed it formally to
the crown of Great Britain, and given it a constitution as free as our
own. This was done with the consent of the majority of the inhabitants;
and no transaction between two countries was ever more fairly or
legitimately conducted: yet our conduct was unwise;--the island is large
enough to form an independent state, and such we should have made it,
under our protection, as long as protection might be needed; the
Corsicans would then have felt as a nation; but when one party had given
up the country to England, the natural consequence was that the other
looked to France. The question proposed to the people was, to which
would they belong? Our language and our religion were against us; our
unaccommodating manners, it is to be feared, still more so. The French
were better politicians. In intrigue they have ever been unrivalled; and
it now became apparent that, in spite of old wrongs, which ought never
to have been forgotten nor forgiven, their partisans were daily
acquiring strength. It is part of the policy of France, and a wise
policy it is, to impress upon other powers the opinion of its strength,
by lofty language: and by threatening before it strikes; a system which,
while it keeps up the spirit of its allies, and perpetually stimulates
their hopes, tends also to dismay its enemies. Corsica was now loudly
threatened. "The French, who had not yet been taught to feel their own
inferiority upon the seas, braved us in contempt upon that element."
They had a superior fleet in the Mediterranean, and they sent it out
with express orders to seek the English and engage them. Accordingly,
the Toulon fleet, consisting of seventeen ships of the line and five
smaller vessels, put to sea. Admiral Hotham received this information at
Leghorn, and sailed immediately in search of them. He had with him
fourteen sail of the line, and one Neapolitan seventy-four; but his
ships were only half-manned, containing but 7650 men, whereas the enemy
had 16,900. He soon came in sight of them: a general action was
expected; and Nelson, as was his custom on such occasions, wrote a hasty
letter to his wife, as that which might possibly contain his last
farewell. "The lives of all," said he, "are in the hand of Him who knows
best whether to preserve mine or not; my character and good name are in
my own keeping."

But however confident the French government might be of their naval
superiority, the officers had no such feeling; and after manoeuvring for
a day in sight of the English fleet, they suffered themselves to be
chased. One of their ships, the CA IRA, of eighty-four guns, carried
away her main and fore top-masts. The INCONSTANT frigate fired at the
disabled ship, but received so many shot that she was obliged to leave
her. Soon afterwards a French frigate took the CA IRA in tow; and the
SANS-CULOTTES, one hundred and twenty, and the JEAN BARRAS, seventy-
four, kept about gunshot distance on her weather bow. The AGAMEMNON
stood towards her, having no ship of the line to support her within
several miles. As she drew near, the CA IRA fired her stern guns so
truly, that not a shot missed some part of the ship; and latterly, the
masts were struck by every shot. It had been Nelson's intention not to
fire before he touched her stern; but seeing how impossible it was that
he should be supported, and how certainly the AGAMEMNON must be severely
cut up if her masts were disabled, he altered his plan according to the
occasion. As soon, therefore, as he was within a hundred yards of her
stern, he ordered the helm to be put a-starboard, and the driver and
after-sails to be brailed up and shivered; and, as the ship fell off,
gave the enemy her whole broadside. They instantly braced up the after-
yards, put the helm a-port, and stood after her again. This manoeuvre he
practised for two hours and a quarter, never allowing the CA IRA to get
a single gun from either side to bear on him; and when the French fired
their after-guns now, it was no longer with coolness and precision, for
every shot went far ahead. By this time her sails were hanging in
tatters, her mizen-top-mast, mizen-top-sail, and cross-jack-yards shot
away. But the frigate which had her in tow hove in stays, and got her
round. Both these French ships now brought their guns to bear, and
opened their fire. The AGAMEMNON passed them within half-pistol shot;
almost every shot passed over her, for the French had elevated their
guns for the rigging, and for distant firing, and did not think of
altering the elevation. As soon as the AGAMEMNON's after-guns ceased to
bear, she hove in stays, keeping a constant fire as she came round; and
being worked, said Nelson, with as much exactness as if she had been
turning into Spithead. On getting round, he saw that the Sans-Culottes,
which had wore, with many of the enemy's ships, was under his lee bow,
and standing to leeward. The admiral, at the same time, made the signal
for the van ships to join him. Upon this Nelson bore away, and prepared


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