The Life of Horatio Lord Nelson
Robert Southey

Part 2 out of 5

to set all sail; and the enemy, having saved their ship, hauled close to
the wind, and opened upon him a distant and ineffectual fire. Only seven
of the AGAMEMNON's men were hurt--a thing which Nelson himself remarked
as wonderful: her sails and rigging were very much cut, and she had many
shots in her hull, and some between wind and water. The CA IRA lost 110
men that day, and was so cut up that she could not get a top-mast aloft
during the night.

At daylight on the following morning, the English ships were taken
aback with a fine breeze at N.W., while the enemy's fleet kept the
southerly wind. The body of their fleet was about five miles distant;
the CA IRA and the CENSEUR, seventy-four, which had her in tow, about
three and a half. All sail was made to cut these ships off; and as the
French attempted to save them, a partial action was brought on. The
AGAMEMNON was again engaged with her yesterday's antagonist; but she had
to fight on both sides the ship at the same time. The CA IRA and the
CENSEUR fought most gallantly: the first lost nearly 300 men, in
addition to her former loss; the last, 350. Both at length struck; and
Lieutenant Andrews, of the AGAMEMNON, brother to the lady to whom Nelson
had become attached in France, and, in Nelson's own words, "as gallant
an officer as ever stepped a quarter-deck," hoisted English colours on
board them both. The rest of the enemy's ships' behaved very ill. As
soon as these vessels had struck, Nelson went to Admiral Hotham and
proposed that the two prizes should be left with the ILLUSTRIOUS and
COURAGEUX, which had been crippled in the action, and with four
frigates, and that the rest of the fleet should pursue the enemy, and
follow up the advantage to the utmost. But his reply was--"We must be
contented: we have done very well."--"Now," said Nelson," had we taken
ten sail, and allowed the eleventh to escape, when it had been possible
to have got at her, I could never have called it well done. Goodall
backed me; I got him to write to the admiral; but it would not do. We
should have had such a day as, I believe, the annals of England never
produced." In this letter the character of Nelson fully manifests
itself. "I wish" said he, "to be an admiral, and in the command of the
English fleet: I should very soon either do much, or be ruined: my
disposition cannot bear tame and slow measures. Sure I am, had I
commanded on the 14th, that either the whole French fleet would have
graced my triumph, or I should have been in a confounded scrape." What
the event would have been, he knew from his prophetic feelings and his
own consciousness of power; and we also know it now, for Aboukir and
Trafalgar have told it.

The CA IRA and CENSEUR probably defended themselves with more
obstinacy in this action, from a persuasion that, if they struck, no
quarter would be given; because they had fired red-hot shot, and had
also a preparation sent, as they said, by the convention from Paris,
which seems to have been of the nature of the Greek fire; for it became
liquid when it was discharged, and water would not extinguish its
flames. This combustible was concealed with great care in the captured
ships; like the red-hot shot, it had been found useless in battle.
Admiral Hotham's action saved Corsica for the time; but the victory had
been incomplete, and the arrival at Toulon of six sail of the line, two
frigates, and two cutters from Brest, gave the French a superiority
which, had they known how to use it, would materially have endangered
the British Mediterranean fleet. That fleet had been greatly neglected
at the Admiralty during Lord Chatham's administration: and it did not,
for some time, feel the beneficial effect of his removal. Lord Hood had
gone home to represent the real state of affairs, and solicit
reinforcements adequate to the exigencies of the time, and the
importance of the scene of action. But that fatal error of under-
proportioning the force to the service; that ruinous economy, which, by
sparing a little, renders all that is spent useless, infected the
British councils; and Lord Hood, not being able to obtain such rein-
forcements as he knew were necessary, resigned the command. "Surely,"
said Nelson, "the people at home have forgotten us." Another Neapolitan
seventy-four joined Admiral Hotham, and Nelson observed with sorrow
that this was matter of exultation to an English fleet. When the store-
ships and victuallers from Gibraltar arrived, their escape from the
enemy was thought wonderful; and yet, had they not escaped, "the game,"
said Nelson, "was up here. At this moment our operations are at a stand
for want of ships to support the Austrians in getting possession of the
sea-coast of the king of Sardinia; and behold our admiral does not feel
himself equal to show himself, much less to give assistance in their
operations." It was reported that the French were again out with 18 or
20 sail. The combined British and Neapolitan were but sixteen; should
the enemy be only eighteen, Nelson made no doubt of a complete victory;
but if they were twenty, he said, it was not to be expected; and a
battle, without complete victory, would have been destruction, because
another mast was not to be got on that side Gibraltar. At length Admiral
Man arrived with a squadron from England. "What they can mean by sending
him with only five sail of the line," said Nelson, "is truly astonishing;
but all men are alike, and we in this country do not find any
amendment or alteration from the old Board of Admiralty. They should
know that half the ships in the fleet require to go to England; and that
long ago they ought to have reinforced us."

About this time Nelson was made colonel of marines; a mark of
approbation which he had long wished for rather than expected. It came
in good season, for his spirits were oppressed by the thought that his
services had not been acknowledged as they deserved; and it abated the
resentful feeling which would else have been excited by the answer to an
application to the War-office. During his four months' land service in
Corsica, he had lost all his ship furniture, owing to the movements of a
camp. Upon this he wrote to the Secretary at War, briefly stating what
his services on shore had been, and saying, he trusted it was not asking
an improper thing to request that the same allowance might be made to
him which would be made to a land officer of his rank, which, situated
as he was, would be that of a brigadier-general: if this could not be
accorded, he hoped that his additional expenses would be paid him. The
answer which he received was, that "no pay had ever been issued under
the direction of the War-office to officers of the navy serving with the
army on shore."

He now entered upon a new line of service. The Austrian and Sardinian
armies, under General de Vins, required a British squadron to co-operate
with them in driving the French from the Riviera di Genoa; and as Nelson
had been so much in the habit of soldiering, it was immediately fixed
that the brigadier should go. He sailed from St. Fiorenzo on this
destination; but fell in, off Cape del Mele, with the enemy's fleet, who
immediately gave his squadron chase. The chase lasted four-and-twenty
hours; and, owing to the fickleness of the wind, the British ships were
sometimes hard pressed; but the want of skill on the part of the French
gave Nelson many advantages. Nelson bent his way back to St. Fiorenzo,
where the fleet, which was in the midst of watering and refitting, had,
for seven hours, the mortification of seeing him almost in possession of
the enemy, before the wind would allow them to put out to his assist-
ance. The French, however, at evening, went off, not choosing to
approach nearer the shore. During the night, Admiral Hotham, by great
exertions, got under weigh; and, having sought the enemy four days, came
in sight of them on the fifth. Baffling winds and vexatious calms, so
common in the Mediterranean, rendered it impossible to close with them;
only a partial action could be brought on; and then the firing made a
perfect calm. The French being to windward, drew inshore; and the
English fleet was becalmed six or seven miles to the westward. L'ALCIDE,
of seventy-four guns, struck; but before she could be taken possession
of, a box of combustibles in her fore-top took fire, and the unhappy
crew experienced how far more perilous their inventions were to them-
selves than to their enemies. So rapid was the conflagration, that the
French in their official account say, the hull, the masts, and sails,
all seemed to take fire at the same moment; and though the English boats
were put out to the assistance of the poor wretches on board, not more
than 200 could be saved. The AGAMEMNON, and Captain Rowley in the
CUMBERLAND, were just getting into close action a second time, when the
admiral called them off, the wind now blowing directly into the Gulf of
Frejus, where the enemy anchored after the evening closed.

Nelson now proceeded to his station with eight sail of frigates under
his command. Arriving at Genoa, he had a conference with Mr. Drake, the
British envoy to that state; the result of which was, that the object of
the British must be to put an entire stop to all trade between Genoa,
France, and the places occupied by the French troops; for unless this
trade were stopped, it would be scarcely possible for the allied armies
to hold their situation, and impossible for them to make any progress in
driving the enemy out of the Riviera di Genoa. Mr. Drake was of opinion
that even Nice might fall for want of supplies, if the trade with Genoa
were cut off. This sort of blockade Nelson could not carry on without
great risk to himself. A captain in the navy, as he represented to the
envoy, is liable to prosecution for detention and damages. This danger
was increased by an order which had then lately been issued; by which,
when a neutral ship was detained, a complete specification of her cargo
was directed to be sent to the secretary of the Admiralty, and no legal
process instituted against her till the pleasure of that board should be
communicated. This was requiring an impossibility. The cargoes of ships
detained upon this station, consisting chiefly of corn, would be spoiled
long before the orders of the Admiralty could be known; and then, if
they should happen to release the vessel, the owners would look to the
captain for damages. Even the only precaution which could be taken
against this danger, involved another danger not less to be apprehended:
for if the captain should direct the cargo to be taken out, the freight
paid for, and the vessel released, the agent employed might prove
fraudulent, and become bankrupt; and in that case the captain became
responsible. Such things had happened: Nelson therefore required, as the
only means for carrying on that service, which was judged essential to
the common cause, without exposing the officers to ruin, that the
British envoy should appoint agents to pay the freight, release the
vessels, sell the cargo, and hold the amount till process was had upon
it: government thus securing its officers. "I am acting," said
Nelson. "not only without the orders of my commander-in-chief, but, in
some measure, contrary to him. However, I have not only the support of
his Majesty's ministers, both at Turin and Genoa, but a consciousness
that I am doing what is right and proper for the service of our king and
country. Political courage, in an officer abroad, is as highly necessary
as military courage."

This quality, which is as much rarer than military courage as it is
more valuable, and without which the soldier's bravery is often of
little avail, Nelson possessed in an eminent degree. His representations
were attended to as they deserved. Admiral Hotham commended him for
what he had done; and the attention of government was awakened to the
injury which the cause of the allies continually suffered from the
frauds of neutral vessels. "What changes in my life of activity!" said
the indefatigable man. "Here I am, having commenced a co-operation with
an old Austrian general, almost fancying myself charging at the head of
a troop of horse! I do not write less than from ten to twenty letters
every day; which, with the Austrian general and aides-de-camp, and my
own little squadron, fully employ my time. This I like; active service
or none." It was Nelson's mind which supported his feeble body through
these exertions. He was at this time almost blind, and wrote with very
great pain. "Poor AGAMEMNON" he sometimes said, "was as nearly worn out
as her captain; and both must soon be laid up to repair."

When Nelson first saw General de Vins, he thought him an able man,
who was willing to act with vigour. The general charged his inactivity
upon the Piedmontese and Neapolitans, whom, he said, nothing could
induce to act; and he concerted a plan with Nelson for embarking a part
of the Austrian army, and landing it in the rear of the French. But the
English commodore soon began to suspect that the Austrian general was
little disposed to any active operations. In the hope of spurring him
on, he wrote to him, telling him that he had surveyed the coast to the
W. as far as Nice, and would undertake to embark 4000 or 5000 men, with
their arms and a few days' provisions, on board the squadron, and land
them within two miles of St. Remo, with their field-pieces. Respecting
further provisions for the Austrian army, he would provide convoys, that
they should arrive in safety; and if a re-embarkation should be found
necessary, he would cover it with the squadron. The possession of St.
Remo, as headquarters for magazines of every kind, would enable the
Austrian general to turn his army to the eastward or westward. The enemy
at Oneglia would be cut off from provisions, and men could be landed to
attack that place whenever it was judged necessary. St. Remo was the
only place between Vado and Ville Franche where the squadron could lie
in safety, and anchor in almost all winds. The bay was not so good as
Vado for large ships; but it had a mole, which Vado had not, where all
small vessels could lie, and load and unload their cargoes. This bay
being in possession of the allies, Nice could be completely blockaded by
sea. General de Vins affecting, in his reply, to consider that Nelson's
proposal had no other end than that of obtaining the bay of St. Remo as
a station for the ships, told him, what he well knew, and had expressed
before, that Vado Bay was a better anchorage; nevertheless, if
MONSIEUR LE COMMANDANT NELSON was well assured that part of the fleet
could winter there, there was no risk to which he would not expose
himself with pleasure, for the sake of procuring a safe station for the
vessels of his Britannic Majesty. Nelson soon assured the Austrian
commander that this was not the object of his memorial. He now began to
suspect that both the Austrian Court and their general had other ends in
view than the cause of the allies. "This army," said he, "is slow beyond
all description; and I begin to think that the Emperor is anxious to
touch another L4,000,000 of English money. As for the German generals,
war is their trade, and peace is ruin to them; therefore we cannot
expect that they should have any wish to finish the war. The politics of
courts are so mean, that private people would be ashamed to act in the
same way; all is trick and finesse, to which the common cause is
sacrificed. The general wants a loop-hole; it has for some time
appeared to me that he means to go no further than his present position,
and to lay the miscarriage of the enterprise against Nice, which has
always been held out as the great object of his army, to the non-co-
operation of the British fleet and of the Sardinians."

To prevent this plea, Nelson again addressed De Vins, requesting only
to know the time, and the number of troops ready to embark; then he
would, he said, dispatch a ship to Admiral Hotham, requesting
transports, having no doubt of obtaining them, and trusting that the
plan would be successful to its fullest extent. Nelson thought at the
time that, if the whole fleet were offered him for transports, he would
find some other excuse; and Mr. Drake, who was now appointed to reside
at the Austrian headquarters, entertained the same idea of the general's
sincerity. It was not, however, put so clearly to the proof as it ought
to have been. He replied that, as soon as Nelson could declare himself
ready with the vessels necessary for conveying 10,000 men, with their
artillery and baggage, he would put the army in motion. But Nelson was
not enabled to do this: Admiral Hotham, who was highly meritorious in
leaving such a man so much at his own discretion, pursued a cautious
system, ill according with the bold and comprehensive views of Nelson,
who continually regretted Lord Hood, saying that the nation had suffered
much by his resignation of the Mediterranean command. The plan which had
been concerted, he said, would astonish the French, and perhaps the

There was no unity in the views of the allied powers, no cordiality
in their co-operation, no energy in their councils. The neutral powers
assisted France more effectually than the allies assisted each other.
The Genoese ports were at this time filled with French privateers,
which swarmed out every night, and covered the gulf; and French vessels
were allowed to tow out of the port of Genoa itself, board vessels which
were coming in, and then return into the mole. This was allowed without
a remonstrance; while, though Nelson abstained most carefully from
offering any offence to the Genoese territory or flag, complaints were
so repeatedly made against his squadron, that, he says, it seemed a
trial who should be tired first; they of complaining, or he of answering
their complaints. But the question of neutrality was soon at an end. An
Austrian commissary was travelling from Genoa towards Vado; it was known
that he was to sleep at Voltri, and that he had L10,000 with him--a
booty which the French minister in that city, and the captain of a
French frigate in that port, considered as far more important than the
word of honour of the one, the duties of the other, and the laws of
neutrality. The boats of the frigate went out with some privateers,
landed, robbed the commissary, and brought back the money to Genoa. The
next day men were publicly enlisted in that city for the French army:
700 men were embarked, with 7000 stand of arms, on board the frigates
and other vessels, who were to land between Voltri and Savona. There a
detachment from the French army was to join them, and the Genoese
peasantry were to be invited to insurrection--a measure for which
everything had been prepared. The night of the 13th was fixed for the
sailing of this expedition; the Austrians called loudly for Nelson to
prevent it; and he, on the evening of the 13th, arrived at Genoa. His
presence checked the plan: the frigate, knowing her deserts, got within
the merchant-ships, in the inner mole; and the Genoese government did
not now even demand of Nelson respect to the neutral port, knowing that
they had allowed, if not connived at, a flagrant breach of neutrality,
and expecting the answer which he was prepared to return, that it was
useless and impossible for him to respect it longer.

But though this movement produced the immediate effect which was
designed, it led to ill consequences, which Nelson foresaw, but for want
of sufficient force was unable to prevent. His squadron was too small
for the service which it had to perform. He required two seventy-fours
and eight or ten frigates and sloops; but when he demanded this
reinforcement, Admiral Hotham had left the command. Sir Hyde Parker had
succeeded till the new commander should arrive; and he immediately
reduced it to almost nothing, leaving him only one frigate and a brig.
This was a fatal error. While the Austrian and Sardinian troops, whether
from the imbecility or the treachery of their leaders, remained
inactive, the French were preparing for the invasion of Italy. Not many
days before Nelson was thus summoned to Genoa, he chased a large convoy
into Alassio. Twelve vessels he had formerly destroyed in that port,
though 2000 French troops occupied the town. This former attack had made
them take new measures of defence; and there were now above 100 sail of
victuallers, gun-boats, and ships of war. Nelson represented to the
Admiral how important it was to destroy these vessels; and offered, with
his squadron of frigates, and the CULLODEN and COURAGEUX, to lead
himself in the AGAMEMNON, and take or destroy the whole. The attempt was
not permitted; but it was Nelson's belief that, if it had been made, it
would have prevented the attack upon the Austrian army, which took place
almost immediately afterwards.

General de Vins demanded satisfaction of the Genoese government for
the seizure of his commissary; and then, without waiting for their
reply, took possession of some empty magazines of the French, and pushed
his sentinels to the very gates of Genoa. Had he done so at first, he
would have found the magazines full; but, timed as the measure was, and
useless as it was to the cause of the allies, it was in character with
the whole of the Austrian general's conduct; and it is no small proof of
the dexterity with which he served the enemy, that in such circumstances
he could so act with Genoa as to contrive to put himself in the wrong.
Nelson was at this time, according to his own expression, placed in a
cleft stick. Mr. Drake, the Austrian minister, and the Austrian general,
all joined in requiring him not to leave Genoa; if he left that port
unguarded, they said, not only the imperial troops at St. Pier d'Arena
and Voltri would be lost, but the French plan for taking post between
Voltri and Savona would certainly succeed; if the Austrians should be
worsted in the advanced posts, the retreat of the Bocchetta would be cut
off; and if this happened, the loss of the army would be imputed to
him, for having left Genoa. On the other hand, he knew that if he were
not at Pietra, the enemy's gun-boats would harass the left flank of the
Austrians, who, if they were defeated, as was to be expected, from the
spirit of all their operations, would, very probably, lay their defeat
to the want of assistance from the AGAMEMNON. Had the force for which
Nelson applied been given him, he could have attended to both objects;
and had he been permitted to attack the convoy in Alassio, he would have
disconcerted the plans of the French, in spite of the Austrian general.
He had foreseen the danger, and pointed out how it might be prevented;
but the means of preventing it were withheld. The attack was made as
he foresaw; and the gun-boats brought their fire to bear upon the
Austrians. It so happened, however, that the left flank, which was
exposed to them, was the only part of the army that behaved well: this
division stood its ground till the centre and the right wing fled, and
then retreated in a soldierlike manner. General de Vins gave up the
command in the middle of the battle, pleading ill health. "From that
moment," says Nelson, "not a soldier stayed at his post: it was the
devil take the hindmost. Many thousands ran away who had never seen the
enemy; some of them thirty miles from the advanced posts. Had I not,
though I own, against my inclination, been kept at Genoa, from 8000 to
10,000 men would have been taken prisoners, and, amongst the number,
General de Vins himself; but by this means the pass of the Bocchetta was
kept open. The purser of the ship, who was at Vado, ran with the
Austrians eighteen miles without stopping; the men without arms,
officers without soldiers, women without assistance. The oldest officers
say they never heard of so complete a defeat, and certainly without any
reason. Thus has ended my campaign. We have established the French
republic: which but for us, I verily believe, would never have been
settled by such a volatile, changeable people. I hate a Frenchman: they
are equally objects of my detestation whether royalists or republicans:
in some points, I believe, the latter are the best." Nelson had a
lieutenant and two midshipmen taken at Vado: they told him, in their
letter, that few of the French soldiers were more than three or four and
twenty years old, a great many not more than fourteen, and all were
nearly naked; they were sure, they said, his barge's crew could have
beat a hundred of them; and that, had he himself seen them, he would not
have thought, if the world had been covered with such people, that they
could have beaten the Austrian army.

The defeat of General de Vins gave the enemy possession of the
Genoese coast from Savona to Voltri, and it deprived the Austrians of
their direct communication with the English fleet. The AGAMEMNON,
therefore, could no longer be useful on this station, and Nelson sailed
for Leghorn to refit. When his ship went into dock, there was not a
mast, yard, sail, or any part of the rigging, but what stood in need of
repair, having been cut to pieces with shot. The hull was so damaged
that it had for some time been secured by cables, which were served or
thrapped round it.


1796 - 1797

Sir J. Jervis takes the Command--Genoa joins the French--Bounaparte
begins his Career--Evacuation of Corsica--Nelson hoists his broad
Pennant in the MINERVE--Action with the SABINA--Battle off Cape St.
Vincent--Nelson commands the inner Squadron at the Blockade of Cadiz
Boat Action in the Bay of Cadiz--Expedition against Teneriffe--Nelson
loses an Arm--His Sufferings in England, and Recovery.


SIR JOHN JERVIS had now arrived to take the command of the
Mediterranean fleet. The AGAMEMNON having, as her captain said, been
made as fit for sea as a rotten ship could be, Nelson sailed from
Leghorn, and joined the admiral in Fiorenzo Bay. "I found him," said
he, "anxious to know many things which I was a good deal surprised to
find had not been communicated to him by others in the fleet; and it
would appear that he was so well satisfied with my opinion of what is
likely to happen, and the means of prevention to be taken, that he had
no reserve with me respecting his information and ideas of what is
likely to be done." The manner in which Nelson was received is said to
have excited some envy. One captain observed to him: "You did just as
you pleased in Lord Hood's time, the same in Admiral Hotham's, and now
again with Sir John Jervis: it makes no difference to you who is
commander-in-chief." A higher compliment could not have been paid to any
commander-in-chief than to say of him that he understood the merits of
Nelson, and left him, as far as possible, to act upon his own judgment.

Sir John Jervis offered him the ST.GEORGE, ninety, or the ZEALOUS,
seventy-four, and asked if he should have any objection to serve under
him with his flag. He replied, that if the AGAMEMNON were ordered home,
and his flag were not arrived, he should, on many accounts, wish to
return to England; still, if the war continued, he should be very proud
of hoisting his flag under Sir John's command, "We cannot spare you,"
said Sir John, "either as captain or admiral." Accordingly, he resumed
his station in the Gulf of Genoa. The French had not followed up their
successes in that quarter with their usual celerity. Scherer, who
commanded there, owed his advancement to any other cause than his merit:
he was a favourite of the directory; but for the present, through the
influence of Barras, he was removed from a command for which his
incapacity was afterwards clearly proved, and Buonaparte was appointed
to succeed him. Buonaparte had given indications of his military
talents at Toulon, and of his remorseless nature at Paris; but the
extent either of his ability or his wickedness was at this time known to
none, and perhaps not even suspected by himself.

Nelson supposed, from the information which he had obtained, that one
column of the French army would take possession of Port Especia; either
penetrating through the Genoese territory, or proceeding coast-ways in
light vessels; our ships of war not being able to approach the coast,
because of the shallowness of the water. To prevent this, he said; two
things were necessary: the possession of Vado Bay, and the taking of
Port Especia; if either of these points were secured, Italy would be
safe from any attack of the French by sea. General Beaulieu, who had now
superseded De Vins in the command of the allied Austrian and Sardinian
army, sent his nephew and aide-de-camp to communicate with Nelson, and
inquire whether he could anchor in any other place than Vado Bay. Nelson
replied, that Vado was the only place where the British fleet could lie
in safety, but all places would suit his squadron; and wherever the
general came to the sea-coast, there he should find it. The Austrian
repeatedly asked, if there was not a risk of losing the squadron? and
was constantly answered, that if these ships should be lost, the admiral
would find others. But all plans of co-operation with the Austrians were
soon frustrated by the battle of Montenotte. Beaulieu ordered an attack
to be made upon the post of Voltri. It was made twelve hours before the
time which he had fixed, and before he arrived to direct it. In
consequence, the French were enabled to effect their retreat, and fall
back to Montenotte, thus giving the troops there a decisive superiority
in number over the division which attacked them. This drew on the defeat
of the Austrians. Buonaparte, with a celerity which had never before
been witnessed in modern war, pursued his advantages; and, in the course
of a fortnight, dictated to the court of Turin terms of peace, or rather
of submission; by which all the strongest places of Piedmont were put
into his bands.

On one occasion, and only on one, Nelson was able to impede the
progress of this new conqueror. Six vessels, laden with cannon and
ordnance-stores for the siege of Mantua, sailed from Toulon for St. Pier
d'Arena. Assisted by Captain Cockburn, in the MELEAGER, he drove them
under a battery; pursued them, silenced the batteries, and captured the
whole. Military books, plans and maps of Italy, with the different
points marked upon them where former battles had been fought, sent by
the directory for Buonaparte's use, were found in the convoy. The loss
of this artillery was one of the chief causes which compelled the French
to raise the siege of Mantua; but there was too much treachery, and too
much imbecility, both in the councils and armies of the allied powers,
for Austria to improve this momentary success. Buonaparte perceived
that the conquest of Italy was within his reach; treaties, and the
rights of neutral or of friendly powers, were as little regarded by him
as by the government for which he acted. In open contempt of both he
entered Tuscany, and took possession of Leghorn. In consequence of this
movement, Nelson blockaded that port, and landed a British force in the
Isle of Elba, to secure Porto Ferrajo. Soon afterwards he took the
Island of Capraja, which had formerly belonged to Corsica, being less
than forty miles distant from it; a distance, however, short as it was,
which enabled the Genoese to retain it, after their infamous sale of
Corsica to France. Genoa had now taken part with France: its government
had long covertly assisted the French, and now willingly yielded to the
first compulsory menace which required them to exclude the English from
their ports. Capraja was seized in consequence; but this act of vigour
was not followed up as it ought to have been. England at that time
depended too much upon the feeble governments of the Continent, and too
little upon itself. It was determined by the British cabinet to evacuate
Corsica, as soon as Spain should form an offensive alliance with France.
This event, which, from the moment that Spain had been compelled to make
peace, was clearly foreseen, had now taken place; and orders for the
evacuation of the island were immediately sent out. It was impolitic to
annex this island to the British dominions; but having done so, it was
disgraceful thus to abandon it. The disgrace would have been spared, and
every advantage which could have been derived from the possession of
the island secured, if the people had at first been left to form a
government for themselves, and protected by us in the enjoyment of
their independence.

The viceroy, Sir Gilbert Elliott, deeply felt the impolicy and
ignominy of this evacuation. The fleet also was ordered to leave the
Mediterranean. This resolution was so contrary to the last instructions
which had been received, that Nelson exclaimed, "Do his majesty's
ministers know their own minds? They at home," said he, "do not know
what this fleet is capable of performing--anything and everything. Much
as I shall rejoice to see England, I lament our present orders in sack-
cloth and ashes, so dishonourable to the dignity of England, whose
fleets are equal to meet the world in arms; and of all the fleets I ever
saw, I never beheld one, in point of officers and men, equal to Sir John
Jervis's, who is a commander-in-chief able to lead them to glory." Sir
Gilbert Elliott believed that the great body of the Corsicans were
perfectly satisfied, as they had good reason to be, with the British
Government, sensible of its advantages, and attached to it. However this
may have been, when they found that the English intended to evacuate the
island, they naturally and necessarily sent to make their peace with
the French. The partisans of France found none to oppose them. A
committee of thirty took upon them the government of Bastia, and
sequestrated all the British property; armed Corsicans mounted guard at
every place, and a plan was laid for seizing the viceroy. Nelson, who
was appointed to superintend the evacuation, frustrated these projects.
At a time when every one else despaired of saving stores, cannon,
provisions, or property of any kind, and a privateer was moored across
the mole-head to prevent all boats from passing, he sent word to the
committee, that if the slightest opposition were made to the embarkment
and removal of British property, he would batter the town down. The
privateer pointed her guns at the officer who carried this message, and
muskets were levelled against his boats from the mole-head. Upon this
Captain Sutton, of the EGMONT, pulling out his watch, gave them a
quarter of an hour to deliberate upon their answer. In five minutes
after the expiration of that time, the ships, he said, would open their
fire. Upon this the very sentinels scampered off, and every vessel came
out of the mole. A shipowner complained to the commodore that the
municipality refused to let him take his goods out of the custom-house.
Nelson directed him to say, that unless they were instantly delivered,
he would open his fire. The committee turned pale, and, without
answering a word, gave him the keys. Their last attempt was to levy a
duty upon the things that were re-embarked. He sent them word, that he
would pay them a disagreeable visit, if there were any more complaints.
The committee then finding that they had to deal with a man who knew his
own power, and was determined to make the British name respected,
desisted from the insolent conduct which they had assumed; and it was
acknowledged that Bastia never had been so quiet and orderly since the
English were in possession of it. This was on the 14th of October;
during the five following days the work of embarkation was carried on,
the private property was saved, and public stores to the amount of
L200,000. The French, favoured by the Spanish fleet, which was at that
time within twelve leagues of Bastia, pushed over troops from Leghorn,
who landed near Cape Corse on the 18th; and on the 20th, at one in the
morning, entered the citadel, an hour only after the British had spiked
the guns and evacuated it. Nelson embarked at daybreak, being the last
person who left the shore; having thus, as he said, seen the first and
the last of Corsica. Provoked at the conduct of the municipality, and
the disposition which the populace had shown to profit by the confusion,
he turned towards the shore, as he stepped into his boat, and exclaimed:
"Now, John Corse, follow the natural bent of your detestable character
--plunder and revenge." This, however, was not Nelson's deliberate
opinion of the people of Corsica; he knew that their vices were the
natural consequences of internal anarchy and foreign oppression, such as
the same causes would produce in any people; and when he saw, that of
all those who took leave of the viceroy there was not one who parted
from him without tears, he acknowledged that they manifestly acted not
from dislike of the English, but from fear of the French. England then
might, with more reason, reproach her own rulers for pusillanimity than
the Corsicans for ingratitude.

Having thus ably effected this humiliating service, Nelson was
ordered to hoist his broad pendant on board the MINERVE frigate,
Captain George Cockburn, and with the BLANCHE under his command, proceed
to Porto Ferrajo, and superintend the evacuation of that place also. On
his way, he fell in with two Spanish frigates, the SABINA and the CERES.
The MINERVE engaged the former, which was commanded by D. Jacobo Stuart,
a descendent of the Duke of Berwick. After an action of three hours,
during which the Spaniards lost 164 men, the SABINA struck. The Spanish
captain, who was the only surviving officer, had hardly been conveyed
on board the MINERVE, when another enemy's frigate came up, compelled
her to cast off the prize, and brought her a second time into action.
After half an hour's trial of strength, this new antagonist wore and
hauled off; but a Spanish squadron of two ships of the line and two
frigates came in sight. The BLANCHE, from which the CERES had got off,
was far to windward, and the MINERVE escaped only by the anxiety of the
enemy to recover their own ship. As soon as Nelson reached Porto Ferrajo
he sent his prisoner in a flag of truce to Carthagena, having returned
him his sword; this he did in honour of the gallantry which D. Jacobo
had displayed, and not without some feeling of respect for his ancestry.
"I felt it," said he, "consonant to the dignity of my country and I
always act as I feel right, without regard to custom; he was reputed the
best officer in Spain, and his men were worthy of such a commander." By
the same flag of truce he sent back all the Spanish prisoners at Porto
Ferrajo; in exchange for whom he received his own men who had been taken
in the prize.

General de Burgh, who commanded at the Isle of Elba, did not think
himself authorised to abandon the place till he had received specific
instructions from England to that effect; professing that he was unable
to decide between the contradictory orders of government, or to guess
at what their present intentions might be; but he said, his only motive
for urging delay in this measure arose from a desire that his own
conduct might be properly sanctioned, not from any opinion that Porto
Ferrajo ought to be retained. But Naples having made peace, Sir John
Jervis considered his business with Italy as concluded; and the
protection of Portugal was the point to which he was now instructed to
attend. Nelson, therefore, whose orders were perfectly clear and
explicit, withdrew the whole naval establishment from that station,
leaving the transports victualled, and so arranged that all the troops
and stores could be embarked in three days. He was now about to leave
the Mediterranean. Mr. Drake, who had been our minister at Genoa,
expressed to him, on this occasion, the very high opinion which the
allies entertained of his conspicuous merit; adding, that it was
impossible for any one, who had the honour of co-operating with him, not
to admire the activity, talents, and zeal which he had so eminently and
constantly displayed. In fact, during this long course of services in
the Mediterranean, the whole of his conduct had exhibited the same zeal,
the same indefatigable energy, the same intuitive judgment, the same
prompt and unerring decision which characterised his after-career of
glory. His name was as yet hardly known to the English public; but it
was feared and respected throughout Italy. A letter came to him,
directed "Horatio Nelson, Genoa;" and the writer, when he was asked how
he could direct it so vaguely, replied, "Sir, there is but one Horatio
Nelson in the world." At Genoa, in particular, where he had so long been
stationed, and where the nature of his duty first led him to continual
disputes with the government, and afterwards compelled him to stop the
trade of the port, he was equally respected by the doge and by the
people; for, while he maintained the rights and interests of Great
Britain with becoming firmness, he tempered the exercise of power with
courtesy and humanity wherever duty would permit. "Had all my actions,"
said he, writing at this time to his wife, "been gazetted, not one
fortnight would have passed, during the whole war, without a letter from
me. One day or other I will have a long GAZETTE to myself. I feel that
such an opportunity will be given me. I cannot, if I am in the field of
glory, be kept out of sight; wherever there is anything to be done,
there Providence is sure to direct my steps."

These hopes and anticipations were soon to be fulfilled. Nelson's
mind had long been irritated and depressed by the fear that a general
action would take place before he could join the fleet. At length he
sailed from Porto Ferrajo with a convoy for Gibraltar; and having
reached that place, proceeded to the westward in search of the admiral.
Off the mouth of the Straits he fell in with the Spanish fleet; and on
the 13th of February reaching the station off Cape St. Vincent,
communicated this intelligence to Sir John Jervis. He was now directed
to shift his broad pendant on board the CAPTAIN, seventy-four, Captain
R.W. Miller; and before sunset the signal was made to prepare for
action, and to keep, during the night, in close order. At daybreak the
enemy were in sight. The British force consisted of two ships of one
hundred guns, two of ninety-eight, two of ninety, eight of seventy-
four, and one sixty-four;-fifteen of the line in all; with four
frigates, a sloop, and a cutter. The Spaniards had one four-decker, of
one hundred and thirty-six guns; six three-deckers, of one hundred and
twelve; two eighty-four, eighteen seventy-four--in all, twenty-seven
ships of the line, with ten frigates and a brig. Their admiral, D.
Joseph de Cordova, had learnt from an American on the 5th, that the
English had only nine ships, which was indeed the case when his informer
had seen them; for a reinforcement of five ships from England, under
Admiral Parker, had not then joined, and the CULLODEN had parted
company. Upon this information the Spanish commander, instead of going
into Cadiz, as was his intention when he sailed from Carthagena, deter-
mined to seek an enemy so inferior in force; and relying, with fatal
confidence, upon the American account, he suffered his ships to remain
too far dispersed, and in some disorder. When the morning of the 14th
broke, and discovered the English fleet, a fog for some time concealed
their number. That fleet had heard their signal-guns during the night,
the weather being fine though thick and hazy; soon after daylight they
were seen very much scattered, while the British ships were in a compact
little body. The look-out ship of the Spaniards, fancying that her
signal was disregarded because so little notice seemed to be taken of
it, made another signal, that the English force consisted of forty sail
of the line. The captain afterwards said he did this to rouse the
admiral; it had the effect of perplexing him and alarming the whole
fleet. The absurdity of such an act shows what was the state of the
Spanish navy under that miserable government by which Spain was so long
oppressed and degraded, and finally betrayed. In reality, the general
incapacity of the naval officers was so well known, that in a pas-
quinade, which about this time appeared at Madrid, wherein the different
orders of the state were advertised for sale, the greater part of the
sea-officers, with all their equipments, were offered as a gift; and it
was added, that any person who would please to take them, should receive
a handsome gratuity. When the probability that Spain would take part in
the war, as an ally of France, was first contemplated, Nelson said that
their fleet, if it were no better than when it acted in alliance with
us, would "soon be done for."

Before the enemy could form a regular order of battle, Sir J. Jervis,
by carrying a press of sail, came up with them, passed through their
fleet, then tacked, and thus cut off nine of their ships from the main
body. These ships attempted to form on the larboard tack, either with a
design of passing through the British line, or to leeward of it, and
thus rejoining their friends. Only one of them succeeded in this
attempt; and that only because she was so covered with smoke that her
intention was not discovered till she had reached the rear: the others
were so warmly received, that they put about, took to flight, and did
not appear again in the action to its close. The admiral was now able to
direct his attention to the enemy's main body, which was still superior
in number to his whole fleet, and greatly so in weight of metal. He made
signal to tack in succession. Nelson, whose station was in the rear of
the British line, perceived that the Spaniards were bearing up before
the wind, with an intention of forming their line, going large, and
joining their separated ships, or else of getting off without an
engagement. To prevent either of these schemes, he disobeyed the signal
without a moment's hesitation: and ordered his ship to be wore. This at
once brought him into action with the SANTISSIMA TRINIDAD, one hundred
and thirty-six; the SAN JOSEPH, one hundred and twelve; the SALVADOR
DEL MUNDO, one hundred and twelve; the SAN NICOLAS, eighty; the SAN
ISIDRO, seventy-four, another seventy-four, and another first-rate.
Troubridge, in the CULLODEN, immediately joined, and most nobly
supported him; and for nearly an hour did the CULLODEN and CAPTAIN
maintain what Nelson called "this apparently, but not really unequal
contest;"--such was the advantage of skill and discipline, and the
confidence which brave men derive from them. The BLENHEIM then passing
between them and the enemy, gave them a respite, and poured in her fire
upon the Spaniards. The SALVADOR DEL MUNDO and SAN ISIDRO dropped
astern, and were fired into in a masterly style by the EXCELLENT,
Captain Collingwood. The SAN ISIDRO struck; and Nelson thought that the
SALVADOR struck also. "But Collingwood," says he, "disdaining the parade
of taking possession of beaten enemies, most gallantly pushed up, with
every sail set, to save his old friend and messmate, who was to
appearance in a critical situation;" for the CAPTAIN was at this time
actually fired upon by three first-rates--by the SAN NICOLAS, and by a
seventy-four, within about pistol-shot of that vessel. The BLENHEIM was
ahead, the CULLODEN crippled and astern. Collingwood ranged up, and
hauling up his mainsail just astern, passed within ten feet of the SAN
NICOLAS, giving her a most tremendous fire, then passed on for the
board her, and Nelson resumed his station abreast of them, and close
alongside. The CAPTAIN was now incapable of further service, either in
the line or in chase: she had lost her foretop-mast; not a sail, shroud,
or rope was left, and her wheel was shot away. Nelson therefore directed
Captain Miller to put the helm a-starboard, and calling for the
boarders, ordered them to board.

Captain Berry, who had lately been Nelson's first lieutenant, was the
first man who leaped into the enemy's mizen chains. Miller, when in the
very act of going, was ordered by Nelson to remain. Berry was supported
from the spritsail-yard, which locked in the SAN NICOLAS's main rigging.
A soldier of the 69th broke the upper quarter-gallery window, and jumped
in, followed by the commodore himself and by the others as fast as
possible. The cabin doors were fastened, and the Spanish officers fired
their pistols at them through the window; the doors were soon forced,
and the Spanish brigadier fell while retreating to the quarter-deck.
Nelson pushed on, and found Berry in possession of the poop, and the
Spanish ensign hauling down. He passed on to the forecastle, where he
met two or three Spanish officers, and received their swords. The
English were now in full possession of every part of the ship, when a
fire of pistols and musketry opened upon them from the admiral's stern-
gallery of the SAN JOSEPH. Nelson having placed sentinels at the
different ladders, and ordered Captain Miller to send more men into the
prize, gave orders for boarding that ship from the SAN NICOLAS. It was
done in an instant, he himself leading the way. and exclaiming,
"Westminster Abbey or victory!" Berry assisted him into the main chains;
and at that moment a Spanish officer looked over the quarter-deck rail,
and said they surrendered. It was not long before he was on the quarter-
deck, where the Spanish captain presented to him his sword, and told him
the admiral was below dying of his wounds. There, on the quarter-deck of
an enemy's first-rate, he received the swords of the officers, giving
them, as they were delivered, one by one to William Fearney, one of his
old AGAMEMNONs, who, with the utmost coolness, put them under his arm,
"bundling them up," in the lively expression of Collingwood, "with as
much composure as he would have made a faggot, though twenty-two sail of
their line were still within gunshot." One of his sailors came up, and
with an Englishman's feeling took him by the hand, saying he might not
soon have such another place to do it in, and he was heartily glad to
see him there. Twenty-four of the CAPTAIN's men were killed, and fifty-
six wounded; a fourth part of the loss sustained by the whole squadron
falling upon this ship. Nelson received only a few bruises.

The Spaniards had still eighteen or nineteen ships which had suffered
little or no injury: that part of the fleet which had been separated
from the main body in the morning was now coming up, and Sir John Jervis
made signal to bring to. His ships could not have formed without
abandoning those which they had captured, and running to leeward: the
CAPTAIN was lying a perfect wreck on board her two prizes; and many of
the other vessels were so shattered in their masts and rigging as to be
wholly unmanageable. The Spanish admiral meantime, according to his
official account, being altogether undecided in his own opinion
respecting the state of the fleet, inquired of his captains whether it
was proper to renew the action; nine of them answered explicitly that it
was not; others replied that it was expedient to delay the business. The
PELAYO and the PRINCE CONQUISTADOR were the only ships that were for

As soon as the action was discontinued, Nelson went on board the
admiral's ship. Sir John Jervis received him on the quarter-deck, took
him in his arms, and said he could not sufficiently thank him. For this
victory the commander-in-chief was rewarded with the title of Earl St.
Vincent. Nelson, who before the action was known in England had been
advanced to the rank of rear-admiral, had the Order of the Bath given
him. The sword of the Spanish rear-admiral, which Sir John Jervis
insisted upon his keeping, he presented to the Mayor and Corporation of
Norwich, saying that he knew no place where it could give him or his
family more pleasure to have it kept than in the capital city of the
county where he was born. The freedom of that city was voted him on this
occasion. But of all the numerous congratulations which he received,
none could have affected him with deeper delight than that which came
from his venerable father. "I thank my God," said this excellent man,
"with all the power of a grateful soul, for the mercies he has most
graciously bestowed on me in preserving you. Not only my few
acquaintance here, but the people in general, met me at every corner
with such handsome words, that I was obliged to retire from the public
eye. The height of glory to which your professional judgment, united
with a proper degree of bravery, guarded by Providence, has raised you,
few sons, my dear child, attain to, and fewer fathers live to see. Tears
of joy have involuntarily trickled down my furrowed cheeks: who could
stand the force of such general congratulation? The name and services of
Nelson have sounded through this city of Bath--from the common ballad-
singer to the public theatre." The good old man concluded by telling him
that the field of glory, in which he had so long been conspicuous, was
still open, and by giving him his blessing.

Sir Horatio, who had now hoisted his flag as rear-admiral of the
blue, was sent to bring away the troops from Porto Ferrajo; having
performed this, he shifted his flag to the THESEUS. That ship, had taken
part in the mutiny in England, and being just arrived from home, some
danger was apprehended from the temper of the men. This was one reason
why Nelson was removed to her. He had not been on board many weeks
before a paper, signed in the name of all the ship's company, was
dropped on the quarter-deck, containing these words: "Success attend
Admiral Nelson! God bless Captain Miller! We thank them for the officers
they have placed over us. We are happy and comfortable, and will shed
every drop of blood in our veins to support them; and the name of the
THESEUS shall be immortalised as high as her captain's." Wherever Nelson
commanded, the men soon became attached to him; in ten days' time he
would have restored the most mutinous ship in the navy to order.
Whenever an officer fails to win the affections of those who are under
his command, he may be assured that the fault is chiefly in himself.

While Sir Horatio was in the THESEUS, he was employed in the command
of the inner squadron at the blockade of Cadiz. During this service, the
most perilous action occurred in which he was ever engaged. Making a
night attack upon the Spanish gun-boats, his barge was attacked by an
armed launch, under their commander, D. Miguel Tregoyen, carrying 26
men. Nelson had with him only his ten bargemen, Captain Freemantle, and
his coxswain, John Sykes, an old and faithful follower, who twice saved
the life of his admiral by parrying the blows that were aimed at him,
and at last actually interposed his own head to receive the blow of a
Spanish sabre, which he could not by any other means avert; thus dearly
was Nelson beloved. This was a desperate service--hand to hand with
swords; and Nelson always considered that his personal courage was more
conspicuous on this occasion than on any other during his whole life.
Notwithstanding the great disproportion of numbers, 18 of the enemy
were killed, all the rest wounded, and their launch taken. Nelson would
have asked for a lieutenancy for Sykes, if he had served long enough;
his manner and conduct, he observed, were so entirely above his
situation, that Nature certainly intended him for a gentleman; but
though he recovered from the dangerous wound which he received in this
act of heroic attachment, he did not live to profit by the gratitude
and friendship of his commander.

Twelve days after this rencontre, Nelson sailed at the head of an
expedition against Teneriffe. A report had prevailed a few months
before, that the viceroy of Mexico, With the treasure ships, had put
into that island. This had led Nelson to meditate the plan of an attack
upon it, which he communicated to Earl St. Vincent. He was perfectly
aware of the difficulties of the attempt. "I do not," said he, "reckon
myself equal to Blake; but, if I recollect right, he was more obliged to
the wind coming off the land than to any exertions of his own. The
approach by sea to the anchoring-place is under very high land, passing
three valleys; therefore the wind is either in from the sea, or squally
with calms from the mountains:" and he perceived that if the Spanish
ships were won, the object would still be frustrated if the wind did not
come off shore. The land force, he thought, would render success
certain; and there were the troops from Elba, with all necessary stores
and artillery, already embarked. "But here," said he, "soldiers must be
consulted; and I know, from experience, they have not the same boldness
in undertaking a political measure that we have: we look to the benefit
of our country, and risk our own fame every day to serve her; a soldier
obeys his orders, and no more." Nelson's experience at Corsica justified
him in this harsh opinion: he did not live to see the glorious days of
the British army under Wellington. The army from Elba, consisting of
3700 men, would do the business, he said, in three days, probably in
much less time; and he would undertake, with a very small squadron, to
perform the naval part; for though the shore was not easy of access, the
transports might run in and land the troops in one day.

The report concerning the viceroy was unfounded: but a homeward-
bound Manilla ship put into Santa Cruz at this time, and the expedition
was determined upon. It was not fitted out upon the scale which Nelson
had proposed. Four ships of the line, three frigates, and the FOX
cutter, formed the squadron; and he was allowed to choose such ships and
officers as he thought proper. No troops were embarked; the seamen and
marines of the squadron being thought sufficient. His orders were, to
make a vigorous attack; but on no account to land in person, unless his
presence should be absolutely necessary. The plan was, that the boats
should land in the night, between the fort on the N.E. side of Santa
Cruz bay and the town, make themselves masters of that fort, and then
send a summons to the governor. By midnight, the three frigates, having
the force on board which was intended for this debarkation, approached
within three miles of the place; but owing to a strong gale of wind in
the offing, and a strong current against them in-shore, they were not
able to get within a mile of the landing-place before daybreak; and
then they were seen, and their intention discovered. Troubridge and
Bowen, with Captain Oldfield, of the marines, went upon this to consult
with the admiral what was to be done; and it was resolved that they
should attempt to get possession of the heights above the fort. The
frigates accordingly landed their men; and Nelson stood in with the
line-of-battle ships, meaning to batter the fort for the purpose of
distracting the attention of the garrison. A calm and contrary current
hindered him from getting within a league of the shore; and the heights
were by this time so secured, and manned with such a force, as to be
judged impracticable. Thus foiled in his plans by circumstances of
wind and tide, he still considered it a point of honour that some
attempt should be made. This was on the 22nd of July: he re-embarked
his men that night, got the ships on the 24th to anchor about two miles
north of the town, and made show as if he intended to attack the
heights. At six in the evening signal was made for the boats to prepare
to proceed on the service as previously ordered.

When this was done, Nelson addressed a letter to the commander-in-
chief--the last which was ever written with his right hand. "I shall
not," said he,"enter on the subject, why we are not in possession of
Santa Cruz. Your partiality will give credit, that all has hitherto been
done which was possible, but without effect. This night I, humble as I
am, command the whole destined to land under the batteries of the town;
and to-morrow my head will probably be crowned either with laurel or
cypress. I have only to recommend Josiah Nisbet to you and my country.
The Duke of Clarence, should I fall, will, I am confident, take a lively
interest for my son-in-law, on his name being mentioned." Perfectly
aware how desperate a service this was likely to prove, before he left
the THESEUS he called Lieutenant Nisbet, who had the watch on deck,
into the cabin, that he might assist in arranging and burning his
mother's letters. Perceiving that the young man was armed, he earnestly
begged him to remain behind. "Should we both fall, Josiah," said he,
"what will become of your poor mother! The care of the THESEUS falls to
you: stay, therefore, and take charge of her." Nisbet replied: "Sir, the
ship must take care of herself: I will go with you to-night, if I never
go again."

He met his captains at supper on board the SEAHORSE, Captain
Freemantle, whose wife, whom he had lately married in the
Mediterranean, presided at table. At eleven o'clock the boats,
containing between 600 and 700 men, with 180 on board the FOX cutter,
and from 70 to 80 in a boat which had been taken the day before,
proceeded in six divisions toward the town, conducted by all the
captains of the squadron, except Freemantle and Bowen, who attended with
Nelson to regulate and lead the way to the attack. They were to land on
the mole, and thence hasten as fast as possible into the great square;
then form and proceed as should be found expedient. They were not
discovered till about half-past one o'clock, when, being within half
gun-shot of the landing-place, Nelson directed the boats to cast off
from each other, give a huzza, and push for the shore. But the Spaniards
were exceedingly well prepared; the alarm-bells answered the huzza, and
a fire of thirty or forty pieces of cannon, with musketry from one end
of the town to the other, opened upon the invaders. Nothing, however,
could check the intrepidity with which they advanced. The night was
exceedingly dark: most of the boats missed the mole and went on shore
through a raging surf, which stove all to the left of it. The Admiral,
Freemantle, Thompson, Bowen, and four or five other boats, found the
mole: they stormed it instantly, and carried it, though it was defended,
as they imagined, by 400 or 500 men. Its guns, which were six-and-twenty
pounders, were spiked; but such a heavy fire of musketry and grape was
kept up from the citadel and the houses at the head of the mole, that
the assailants could not advance, and nearly all of them were killed or

In the act of stepping out of the boat, Nelson received a shot
through the right elbow, and fell; but as he fell he caught the sword,
which he had just drawn, in his left hand, determined never to part with
it while he lived, for it had belonged to his uncle, Captain Suckling,
and he valued it like a relic. Nisbet, who was close to him, placed him
at the bottom of the boat, and laid his hat over the shattered arm, lest
the sight of the blood, which gushed out in great abundance, should
increase his faintness. He then examined the wound, and taking some silk
handkerchiefs from his neck, bound them round tight above the lacerated
vessels. Had it not been for this presence of mind in his son-in-law,
Nelson must have perished. One of his bargemen, by name Level, tore his
shirt into shreds, and made a sling with them for the broken limb. They
then collected five other seamen, by whose assistance they succeeded at
length in getting the boat afloat; for it had grounded with the falling
tide. Nisbet took one of the oars and ordered the steersman to go close
under the guns of the battery, that they might be safe from its
tremendous fire. Hearing his voice, Nelson roused himself, and desired
to be lifted up in the boat that he might look about him. Nisbet raised
him up; but nothing could be seen except the firing of the guns on
shore, and what could be discerned by their flashes upon a stormy sea.
In a few minutes a general shriek was heard from the crew of the FOX,
which had received a shot under water, and went down. Ninety-seven men
were lost in her: 83 were saved, many by Nelson himself, whose exertions
on this occasion greatly increased the pain and danger of his wound. The
first ship which the boat could reach happened to be the SEAHORSE; but
nothing could induce him to go on board, though he was assured that if
they attempted to row to another ship it might be at the risk of his
life. "I had rather suffer death," he replied, "than alarm Mrs.
Freemantle, by letting her see me in this state, when I can give her no
tidings whatever of her husband." They pushed on for the THESEUS. When
they came alongside he peremptorily refused all assistance in getting on
board, so impatient was he that the boat should return, in hopes that it
might save a few more from the FOX. He desired to have only a single
rope thrown over the side, which he twisted round his left hand, saying
"Let me alone; I have yet my legs left and one arm. Tell the surgeon to
make haste and get his instruments. I know I must lose my right arm, so
the sooner it is off the better." The spirit which he displayed in
jumping up the ship's side astonished everybody.

Freemantle had been severely wounded in the right arm soon after the
admiral. He was fortunate enough to find a boat on the beach, and got
instantly to his ship. Thompson was wounded: Bowen killed, to the great
regret of Nelson: as was also one of his own officers, Lieutenant
Weatherhead, who had followed him from the AGAMEMNON, and whom he
greatly and deservedly esteemed. Troubridge, meantime, fortunately for
his party, missed the mole in the darkness, but pushed on shore under
the batteries, close to the south end of the citadel. Captain Waller, of
the EMERALD, and two or three other boats, landed at the same time. The
surf was so high that many others put back. The boats were instantly
filled with water and stove against the rocks; and most of the
ammunition in the men's pouches was wetted. Having collected a few men
they pushed on to the great square, hoping there to find the admiral and
the rest of the force. The ladders were all lost, so that they could
make no immediate attempt on the citadel; but they sent a sergeant with
two of the town's-people to summon it: this messenger never returned;
and Troubridge having waited about an hour in painful expectation of his
friends, marched to join Captains Hood and Miller, who had effected
their landing to the south-west. They then endeavoured to procure some
intelligence of the admiral and the rest of the officers, but without
success. By daybreak they had gathered together about eighty marines,
eighty pikemen, and one hundred and eighty small-arm seamen; all the
survivors of those who had made good their landing. They obtained some
ammunition from the prisoners whom they had taken, and marched on to try
what could be done at the citadel without ladders. They found all the
streets commanded by field-pieces, and several thousand Spaniards, with
about a hundred French, under arms, approaching by every avenue. Finding
himself without provisions, the powder wet, and no possibility of
obtaining either stores or reinforcements from the ships, the boats
being lost, Troubridge with great presence of mind, sent Captain Samuel
Hood with a flag of truce to the governor to say he was prepared to burn
the town, and would instantly set fire to it if the Spaniards approached
one inch nearer. This, however, if he were compelled to do it, he should
do with regret, for he had no wish to injure the inhabitants;and he was
ready to treat upon these terms--that the British troops should re-
embark, with all their arms of every kind, and take their own boats, if
they were saved, or be provided with such others as might be wanting;
they, on their part, engaging that the squadron should not molest the
town, or any of the Canary Islands: all prisoners on both sides to be
given up. When these terms were proposed the governor made answer, that
the English ought to surrender as prisoners of war; but Captain Hood
replied, he was instructed to say, that if the terms were not accepted
in five minutes, Captain Troubridge would set the town on fire and
attack the Spaniards at the point of the bayonet. Satisfied with his
success, which was indeed sufficiently complete, and respecting, like a
brave and honourable man, the gallantry of his enemy, the Spaniard
acceded to the proposal, found boats to re-embark them, their own
having all been dashed to pieces in landing, and before they parted gave
every man a loaf and a pint of wine.

"And here," says Nelson in his journal, "it is right we should notice
the noble and generous conduct of Don Juan Antonio Gutierrez, the Spanish
governor. The moment the terms were agreed to, he directed our wounded men
to be received into the hospitals, and all our people to be supplied with
the best provisions that could be procured; and made it known that
the ships were at liberty to send on shore and purchase whatever
refreshments they were in want of during the time they might be off the
island." A youth, by name Don Bernardo Collagon, stripped himself of his
shirt to make bandages for one of those Englishmen against whom, not an
hour before, he had been engaged in battle. Nelson wrote to thank the
governor for the humanity which he had displayed. Presents were
interchanged between them. Sir Horatio offered to take charge of his
despatches for the Spanish Government, and thus actually became the first
messenger to Spain of his own defeat.

The total loss of the English in killed, wounded, and drowned,
amounted to 250. Nelson made no mention of his own wound in his official
despatches; but in a private letter to Lord St. Vincent--the first which
he wrote with his left hand--he shows himself to have been deeply
affected by the failure of this enterprise. "I am become," he said, "a
burthen to my friends, and useless to my country; but by my last letter
you will perceive my anxiety for the promotion of my son-in-law, Josiah
Nisbet. When I leave your command I become dead to the world--"I go
hence, and am no more seen." If from poor Bowen's loss, you think it
proper to oblige me, I rest confident you will do it. The boy is under
obligations to me, but he repaid me by bringing me from the mole of
Santa Cruz. I hope you will be able to give me a frigate to convey the
remains of my carcass to England." "A left-handed admiral," he said
in a subsequent letter, "will never again be considered as useful;
therefore the sooner I get to a very humble cottage the better, and make
room for a sounder man to serve the state." His first letter to Lady
Nelson was written under the same opinion, but in a more cheerful
strain. "It was the chance of war," said he, "and I have great reason to
be thankful: and I know it will add much to your pleasure to find that
Josiah, under God's providence, was principally instrumental in saving
my life. I shall not be surprised if I am neglected and forgotten:
probably I shall no longer be considered as useful; however, I shall
feel rich if I continue to enjoy your affection. I beg neither you nor
my father will think much of this mishap; my mind has long been made up
to such an event."

His son-in-law, according to his wish, was immediately promoted; and
honours enough to heal his wounded spirit awaited him in England.
Letters were addressed to him by the first lord of the Admiralty, and by
his steady friend the Duke of Clarence, to congratulate him on his
return, covered as he was with glory. He assured the Duke, in his reply,
that not a scrap of that ardour with which he had hitherto served his
king had been shot away. The freedom of the cities of Bristol and London
were transmitted to him; he was invested with the Order of the Bath, and
received a pension of L1000 a-year. The memorial which, as a matter of
form, he was called upon to present on this occasion, exhibited an
extraordinary catalogue of services performed during the war. It stated
that he had been in four actions with the fleets of the enemy, and in
three actions with boats employed in cutting out of harbour, in
destroying vessels, and in taking three towns. He had served on shore
with the army four months, and commanded the batteries at the sieges of
Basti and Calvi: he had assisted at the capture of seven sail of the
line, six frigates, four corvettes, and eleven privateers: taken and
destroyed near fifty sail of merchant vessels, and actually been engaged
against the enemy upwards of a hundred and twenty times, in which
service he had lost his right eye and right arm, and been severely
wounded and bruised in his body.

His sufferings from the lost limb were long and painful. A nerve had
been taken up in one of the ligatures at the time of the operation; and
the ligature, according to the practice of the French surgeons, was of
silk instead of waxed thread; this produced a constant irritation and
discharge; and the ends of the ligature being pulled every day, in hopes
of bringing it away, occasioned fresh agony. He had scarcely any
intermission of pain, day or night, for three months after his return to
England. Lady Nelson, at his earnest request, attended the dressing of
his arm, till she had acquired sufficient resolution and skill to dress
it herself. One night, during this state of suffering, after a day of
constant pain, Nelson retired early to bed, in hope of enloymg some
respite by means of laudanum. He was at that time lodging in Bond
Street, and the family were soon disturbed by a mob knocking loudly and
violently at the door. The news of Duncan's victory had been made
public, and the house was not illuminated. But when the mob were told
that Admiral Nelson lay there in bed, badly wounded, the foremost of
them made answer: "You shall hear no more from us to-night:" and in
fact, the feeling of respect and sympathy was communicated from one to
another with such effect that, under the confusion of such a night, the
house was not molested again.

About the end of November, after a night of sound sleep, he found the
arm nearly free from pain. The surgeon was immediately sent for to
examine it; and the ligature came away with the slightest touch. From
that time it began to heal. As soon as he thought his health
established, he sent the following form of thanksgiving to the minister
of St. George's, Hanover Square:--"An officer desires to return thanks
to Almighty God for his perfect recovery from a severe wound, and also
for the many mercies bestowed on him."

Not having been in England till now, since he lost his eye, he went
to receive a year's pay as smart money; but could not obtain payment,
because he had neglected to bring a certificate from a surgeon that the
sight was actually destroyed. A little irritated that this form should
be insisted upon, because, though the fact was not apparent, he thought
it was sufficiently notorious, he procured a certificate at the same
time for the loss of his arm; saying, they might just as well doubt one
as the other. This put him in good humour with himself, and with the
clerk who had offended him. On his return to the office, the clerk,
finding it was only the annual pay of a captain, observed, he thought it
had been more. "Oh!" replied Nelson,"this is only for an eye. In a few
days I shall come for an arm; and in a little time longer, God knows,
most probably for a leg." Accordingly he soon afterwards went, and with
perfect good humour exhibited the certificate of the loss of his arm.



Nelson rejoins Earl St. Vincent in the VANGUARD--Sails in Pursuit of
the French in Egypt--Returns to Sicily, and sails again to Egypt--
Battle of the Nile.


EARLY in the year 1798, Sir Horatio Nelson hoisted his flag in the
VANGUARD, and was ordered to rejoin Earl St. Vincent. Upon his
departure, his father addressed him with that affectionate solemnity by
which all his letters were distinguished. "I trust in the Lord," said
he, "that He will prosper your going out and your coming in. I earnestly
desired once more to see you, and that wish has been heard. If I should
presume to say, I hope to see you again, the question would be readily
asked, How old art thou? VALE! VALE! DOMINE, VALE!" It is said that a
gloomy foreboding hung on the spirits of Lady Nelson at their parting.
This could have arisen only from the dread of losing him by the chance
of war. Any apprehension of losing his affections could hardly have
existed, for all his correspondence to this time shows that he thought
himself happy in his marriage; and his private character had hitherto
been as spotless as his public conduct. One of the last things he said
to her was, that his own ambition was satisfied, but that he went to
raise her to that rank in which he had long wished to see her.

Immediately on his rejoining the fleet, he was despatched to the
Mediterranean with a small squadron, in order to ascertain, if possible,
the object of the great expedition which at that time was fitting out
under Buonaparte at Toulon. The defeat of this armament, whatever might
be its destination, was deemed by the British government an object
paramount to every other; and Earl St. Vincent was directed, if he
thought it necessary, to take his whole force into the Mediterranean, to
relinquish, for that purpose, the blockade of the Spanish fleet, as a
thing of inferior moment; but if he should deem a detachment sufficient,
"I think it almost necessary," said the first lord of the Admiralty in
his secret instructions, "to suggest to you the propriety of putting it
under Sir Horatio Nelson." It is to the honour of Earl St. Vincent that
he had already made the same choice. This appointment to a service in
which so much honour might be acquired, gave great offence to the senior
admirals of the fleet. Sir William Parker, who was a very excellent
naval officer, and as gallant a man as any in the navy, and Sir John
Orde, who on all occasions of service had acquitted himself with great
honour, each wrote to Lord Spencer, complaining that so marked a
preference should have been given to a junior of the same fleet. This
resentment is what most men in a like case would feel; and if the
preference thus given to Nelson had not originated in a clear perception
that (as his friend Collingwood said of him a little while before) his
spirit was equal to all undertakings, and his resources fitted to all
occasions, an injustice would have been done to them by his appointment.
But if the service were conducted with undeviating respect to seniority,
the naval and military character would soon be brought down to the dead
level of mediocrity.

The armament at Toulon consisted of thirteen ships of the line, seven
forty-gun frigates, with twenty-four smaller vessels of war, and nearly
200 transports. Mr. Udney, our consul at Leghorn, was the first person
who procured certain intelligence of the enemy's design against Malta;
and, from his own sagacity, foresaw that Egypt must be their after
object. Nelson sailed from Gibraltar on the 9th of May, with the
EMERALD, and TERPSICHORE, frigates; and the BONNE CITOYENNE, sloop of
war, to watch this formidable armament. On the 19th, when they were in
the Gulf of Lyons, a gale came on from the N.W. It moderated so much on
the 20th as to enable them to get their top-gallant masts and yards
aloft. After dark it again began to blow strong, but the ships had been
prepared for a gale, and therefore Nelson's mind was easy. Shortly after
midnight, however, his main-topmast went over the side, and the mizen-
topmast soon afterward. The night was so tempestuous that it was
impossible for any signal either to be seen or heard; and Nelson
determined, as soon as it should be daybreak, to wear, and scud before
the gale; but at half-past three the fore-mast went in three pieces, and
the bowsprit was found to be sprung in three places.

When day broke they succeeded in wearing the ship with a remnant of
the spritsail. This was hardly to have been expected. The VANGUARD was
at that time twenty-five leagues south of the island of Hieres; with her
head lying to the N.E., and if she had not wore, the ship must have
drifted to Corsica. Captain Ball, in the ALEXANDER, took her in tow, to
carry her into the Sardinian harbour of St. Pietro. Nelson, apprehensive
that this attempt might endanger both vessels, ordered him to cast off;
but that excellent officer, with a spirit like his commanders, replied,
he was confident he could save the VANGUARD, and, by God's help, he
would do it. There had been a previous coolness between these great men;
but from this time Nelson became fully sensible of the extraordinary
talents of Captain Ball, and a sincere friendship subsisted between them
during the remainder of their lives. "I ought not," said the admiral,
writing to his wife--"I ought not to call what has happened to the
VANGUARD by the cold name of accident: I believe firmly it was the
Almighty's goodness, to check my consummate vanity. I hope it has made
me a better officer, as I feel confident it has made me a better man.
Figure to yourself, on Sunday evening at sunset, a vain man walking in
his cabin, with a squadron around him, who looked up to their chief to
lead them to glory, and in whom their chief placed the firmest reliance
that the proudest ships of equal numbers belonging to France would have
lowered their flags; figure to yourself, on Monday morning, when the sun
rose, this proud man, his ship dismasted, his fleet dispersed, and
himself in such distress that the meanest frigate out of France would
have been an unwelcome guest." Nelson had, indeed, more reason to refuse
the cold name of accident to this tempest than he was then aware of, for
on that very day the French fleet sailed from Toulon, and must have
passed within a few leagues of his little squadron, which was thus
preserved by the thick weather that came on.

The British Government at this time, with a becoming spirit, gave
orders that any port in the Mediterranean should be considered as
hostile where the governor or chief magistrate should refuse to let our
ships of war procure supplies of provisions, or of any article which
they might require.

In these orders the ports of Sardinia were excepted. The continental
possessions of the King of Sardinia were at this time completely at the
mercy of the French, and that prince was now discovering, when too late,
that the terms to which he had consented, for the purpose of escaping
immediate danger, necessarily involved the loss of the dominions which
they were intended to preserve. The citadel of Turin was now occupied by
French troops; and his wretched court feared to afford the common rights
of humanity to British ships, lest it should give the French occasion to
seize on the remainder of his dominions--a measure for which it was
certain they would soon make a pretext, if they did not find one. Nelson
was informed that he could not be permitted to enter the port of St
Pietro. Regardless of this interdict, which, under his circumstances, it
would have been an act of suicidal folly to have regarded, he anchored
in the harbour; and, by the exertions of Sir James Saumarez, Captain
Ball, and Captain Berry, the VANGUARD was refitted in four days; months
would have been employed in refitting her in England. Nelson, with that
proper sense of merit, wherever it was found, which proved at once the
goodness and the greatness of his character, especially recommended to
Earl St. Vincent the carpenter of the ALEXANDER, under whose directions
the ship had been repaired; stating, that he was an old and faithful
servant of the Crown, who had been nearly thirty years a warrant
carpenter, and begging most earnestly that the Commander-in-Chief would
recommend him to the particular notice of the Board of Admiralty. He did
not leave the harbour without expressing his sense of the treatment
which he had received there, in a letter to the Viceroy of Sardinia.
"Sir," it said, "having, by a gale of wind, sustained some trifling
damages, I anchored a small part of his Majesty's fleet under my orders
off this island, and was surprised to hear, by an officer sent by the
governor, that admittance was to be refused to the flag of his Britannic
Majesty into this port. When I reflect, that my most gracious sovereign
is the oldest, I believe, and certainly the most faithful ally which the
King of Sardinia ever had, I could feel the sorrow which it must have
been to his majesty to have given such an order; and also for your
excellency, who had to direct its execution. I cannot but look at the
African shore, where the followers of Mahomet are performing the part of
the good Samaritan, which I look for in vain at St. Peter's, where it is
said the Christian religion is professed."

The delay which was thus occasioned was useful to him in many
respects; it enabled him to complete his supply of water, and to receive
a reinforcement which Earl St. Vincent, being himself reinforced from
England, was enabled to send him. It consisted of the best ships of his
fleet; the CULLODEN, seventy-four, Captain T.Troubridge; GOLIATH,
seventy-four, Captain T.Foley; MINOTAUR, seventy-four, Captain T. Louis;
DEFENCE, seventy-four, Captain John Peyton; BELLEROPHON, seventy-four,
Captain H.D.E.Darby; MAJESTIC, seventy-four, Captain G. B. Westcott;
ZEALOUS, seventy-four, Captain S. Hood; SWIFTSURE, seventy-four, Captain
B. Hallowell; THESEUS, seventy-four, Captain R. W. Miller; AUDACIOUS,
seventy-four, Captain Davidge Gould. The LEANDER, fifty, Captain T. E.
Thompson, was afterwards added. These ships were made ready for the
service as soon as Earl St. Vincent received advice from England that
he was to be reinforced. As soon as the reinforcement was seen from the
mast-head of the admiral's ship, off Cadiz Bay, signal was immediately
made to Captain Troubridge to put to sea; and he was out of sight before
the ships from home cast anchor in the British station. Troubridge took
with him no instructions to Nelson as to the course he was to steer,
nor any certain account of the enemy's destination; everything was left
to his own judgment. Unfortunately, the frigates had been separated from
him in the tempest and had not been able to rejoin: they sought him
unsuccessfully in the Bay of Naples, where they obtained no tidings of
his course: and he sailed without them.

The first news of the enemy's armament was that it had surprised
Malta, Nelson formed a plan for attacking it while at anchor at Gozo;
but on the 22nd of June intelligence reached him that the French had
left that island on the 16th, the day after their arrival. It was clear
that their destination was eastward--he thought for Egypt--and for
Egypt, therefore, he made all sail. Had the frigates been with him, he
could scarcely have failed to gain information of the enemy; for want of
them, he only spoke three vessels on the way: two came from Alexandria,
one from the Archipelago, and neither of them had seen anything of the
French. He arrived off Alexandria on the 28th, and the enemy were not
there, neither was there any account of them; but the governor was
endeavouring to put the city in a state of defence, having received
advice from Leghorn that the French expedition was intended against
Egypt, after it had taken Malta. Nelson then shaped his course to the
northward for Caramania, and steered from thence along the southern side
of Candia, carrying a press of sail both night and day, with a contrary
wind. It would have been his delight, he said, to have tried Bonaparte
on a wind. It would have been the delight of Europe, too, and the
blessing of the world, if that fleet had been overtaken with its general
on board. But of the myriads and millions of human beings who would have
been preserved by that day's victory, there is not one to whom such
essential benefit would have resulted as to Bonaparte himself. It would
have spared him his defeat at Acre--his only disgrace; for to have been
defeated by Nelson upon the seas would not have been disgraceful; it
would have spared him all his after enormities. Hitherto his career had
been glorious; the baneful principles of his heart had never yet passed
his lips; history would have represented him as a soldier of fortune,
who had faithfully served the cause in which he engaged; and whose
career had been distinguished by a series of successes unexampled in
modern times. A romantic obscurity would have hung over the expedition
to Egypt, and he would have escaped the perpetration of those crimes
which have incarnadined his soul with a deeper dye than that of the
purple for which he committed them--those acts of perfidy, midnight
murder, usurpation, and remorseless tyranny, which have consigned his
name to universal execration, now and for ever.

Conceiving that when an officer is not successful in his plans it is
absolutely necessary that he should explain the motives upon which they
were founded, Nelson wrote at this time an account and vindication of
his conduct for having carried the fleet to Egypt. The objection which
he anticipated was that he ought not to have made so long a voyage
without more certain information. "My answer," said he, "is ready. Who
was I to get it from? The governments of Naples and Sicily either knew
not, or chose to keep me in ignorance. Was I to wait patiently until I
heard certain accounts? If Egypt were their object, before I could hear
of them they would have been in India. To do nothing was disgraceful;
therefore I made use of my understanding. I am before your lordships'
judgment; and if, under all circumstances, it is decided that I am
wrong, I ought, for the sake of our country, to be superseded; for at
this moment, when I know the French are not in Alexandria, I hold the
same opinion as off Cape Passaro--that, under all circumstances, I was
right in steering for Alexandria; and by that opinion I must stand or
fall." Captain Ball, to whom he showed this paper, told him he should
recommend a friend never to begin a defence of his conduct before he was
accused of error: he might give the fullest reasons for what he had
done, expressed in such terms as would evince that he had acted from the
strongest conviction of being right; and of course he must expect that
the public would view it in the same light. Captain Ball judged rightly
of the public, whose first impulses, though, from want of sufficient
information, they must frequently be erroneous, are generally founded
upon just feelings. But the public are easily misled, and there are
always persons ready to mislead them. Nelson had not yet attained that
fame which compels envy to be silent; and when it was known in England
that he had returned after an unsuccessful pursuit, it was said that he
deserved impeachment; and Earl St. Vincent was severely censured for
having sent so young an officer upon so important a service.

Baffled in his pursuit, he returned to Sicily. The Neapolitan
ministry had determined to give his squadron no assistance, being
resolved to do nothing which could possibly endanger their peace with
the French Directory; by means, however, of Lady Hamilton's influence at
court, he procured secret orders to the Sicilian governors; and under
those orders obtained everything which he wanted at Syracuse--a timely
supply; without which, he always said, he could not have recommenced his
pursuit with any hope of success. "It is an old saying," said he in his
letter, "that the devil's children have the devil's luck. I cannot to
this moment learn, beyond vague conjecture, where the French fleet have
gone to; and having gone a round of 600 leagues, at this season of the
year, with an expedition incredible, here I am, as ignorant of the
situation of the enemy as I was twenty-seven days ago. Every moment I
have to regret the frigates having left me; had one-half of them been
with me, I could not have wanted information. Should the French be so
strongly secured in port that I cannot get at them, I shall immediately
shift my flag into some other ship, and send the VANGUARD to Naples to
be refitted; for hardly any person but myself would have continued on
service so long in such a wretched state." Vexed, however, and
disappointed as he was, Nelson, with the true spirit of a hero, was
still full of hope. "Thanks to your exertions," said he, writing to Sir.
William and Lady Hamilton, "we have victualled and watered; and surely
watering at the fountain of Arethusa, we must have victory. We shall
sail with the first breeze; and be assured I will return either crowned
with laurel or covered with cypress." Earl St. Vincent he assured, that
if the French were above water he would find them out: he still held his
opinion that they were bound for Egypt: "but," said he to the First Lord
of the Admiralty, "be they bound to the Antipodes, your lordship may
rely that I will not lose a moment in bringing them to action."

On the 25th of July he sailed from Syracuse for the Morea. Anxious
beyond measure, and irritated that the enemy should so long have eluded
him, the tediousness of the nights made him impatient; and the officer
of the watch was repeatedly called on to let him know the hour, and
convince him, who measured time by his own eagerness, that it was not
yet daybreak. The squadron made the Gulf of Coron on the 28th.
Troubridge entered the port, and returned with intelligence that the
French fleet had been seen about four weeks before steering to the S.E.
from Candia. Nelson then determined immediately to return to Alexandria;
and the British fleet accordingly, with every sail set, stood once more
for the coast of Egypt. On the 1st of August, about 10 in the morning,
they came in sight of Alexandria: the port had been vacant and solitary
when they saw it last; it was now crowded with ships; and they perceived
with exultation that the tri-coloured flag was flying upon the walls. At
four in the afternoon, Captain Hood, in the ZEALOUS, made the signal for
the enemy's fleet. For many preceding days Nelson had hardly taken
either sleep or food: he now ordered his dinner to be served, while
preparations were making for battle; and when his officers rose from
table, and went to their separate stations, he said to them, "Before
this time to-morrow I shall have gained a peerage or Westminster Abbey."

The French, steering direct for Candia, had made an angular passage
for Alexandria; whereas Nelson, in pursuit of them, made straight for
that place, and thus materially shortened the distance. The comparative
smallness of his force made it necessary to sail in close order, and it
covered a less space than it would have done if the frigates had been
with him: the weather also was constantly hazy. These circumstances
prevented the English from discovering the enemy on the way to Egypt,
though it appeared, upon examining the journals of the French officers
taken in the action, that the two fleets must actually have crossed on
the night of the 22nd of June. During the return to Syracuse, the
chances of falling in with them were become fewer.

Why Buonaparte, having effected his landing, should not have suffered
the fleet to return, has never yet been explained. This much is certain,
that it was detained by his command, though, with his accustomed
falsehood, he accused Admiral Brueys, after that officer's death, of
having lingered on the coast contrary to orders. The French fleet
arrived at Alexandria on the 1st of July, and Brueys, not being able to
enter the port, which time and neglect had ruined, moored his ships in
Aboukir Bay, in a strong and compact line of battle; the headmost
vessel, according to his own account, being as close as possible to a
shoal on the N.W., and the rest of the fleet forming a kind of curve
along the line of deep water, so as not to be turned by any means in the
S.W. By Buonaparte's desire he had offered a reward of 10,000 livres to
any pilot of the country who would carry the squadron in, but none could
be found who would venture to take charge of a single vessel drawing
more than twenty feet. He had therefore made the best of his situation,
and chosen the strongest position which he could possibly take in an
open road. The commissary of the fleet said they were moored in such a
manner as to bid defiance to a force more than double their own. This
presumption could not then be thought unreasonable. Admiral Barrington,
when moored in a similar manner off St. Lucia, in the year 1778, beat
off the Comte d'Estaign in three several attacks, though his force was
inferior by almost one-third to that which assailed it. Here, the
advantage in numbers, both in ships, guns, and men, was in favour of the
French. They had thirteen ships of the line and four frigates, carrying
1196 guns and 11,230 men. The English had the same number of ships of
the line and one fifty-gun ship, carrying 1012 guns and 8068 men. The
English ships were all seventy-fours; the French had three eighty-gun
ships, and one three-decker of one hundred and twenty.

During the whole pursuit it had been Nelson's practice, whenever
circumstances would permit, to have his captains on board the VANGUARD,
and explain to them his own ideas of the different and best modes of
attack, and such plans as he proposed to execute on falling in with the
enemy, whatever their situation might be. There is no possible position,
it is said, which he did not take into calculation. His officers were
thus fully acquainted with his principles of tactics; and such was his
confidence in their abilities that the only thing determined upon, in
case they should find the French at anchor, was for the ships to form as
most convenient for their mutual support, and to anchor by the stern.
"First gain the victory," he said,"and then make the best use of it you
can." The moment he perceived the position of the French, that intuitive
genius with which Nelson was endowed displayed itself; and it instantly
struck him that where there was room for an enemy's ship to swing, there
was room for one of ours to anchor. The plan which he intended to
pursue, therefore, was to keep entirely on the outer side of the French
line, and station his ships, as far as he was able, one on the outer
bow, and another on the outer quarter, of each of the enemy's. This
plan of doubling on the enemy's ships was projected by Lord Hood, when
he designed to attack the French fleet at their anchorage in Gourjean
Road. Lord Hood found it impossible to make the attempt; but the thought
was not lost upon Nelson, who acknowledged himself, on this occasion,
indebted for it to his old and excellent commander. Captain Berry, when
he comprehended the scope of the design, exclaimed with transport, "If
we succeed, what will the world say ?" "There is no IF in the case,"
replied the admiral: "that we shall succeed is certain; who may live to
tell the story is a very different question."

As the squadron advanced, they were assailed by a shower of shot and
shells from the batteries on the island, and the enemy opened a steady
fire from the starboard side of their whole line, within half gunshot
distance, full into the bows of our van ships. It was received in
silence: the men on board every ship were employed aloft in furling
sails, and below in tending the braces and making ready for anchoring. A
miserable sight for the French; who, with all their skill, and all their
courage, and all their advantages of numbers and situation, were upon
that element on which, when the hour of trial comes, a Frenchman has no
hope. Admiral Brueys was a brave and able man; yet the indelible
character of his country broke out in one of his letters, wherein he
delivered it as his private opinion, that the English had missed him,
because, not being superior in force, they did not think it prudent to
try their strength with him. The moment was now come in which he was to
be undeceived.

A French brig was instructed to decoy the English by manoeuvring so
as to tempt them toward a shoal lying off the island of Bekier; but
Nelson either knew the danger or suspected some deceit; and the lure was
unsuccessful. Captain Foley led the way in the GOLIATH, outsailing the
ZEALOUS, which for some minutes disputed this post of honour with him.
He had long conceived that if the enemy were moored in line of battle in
with the land, the best plan of attack would be to lead between them and
the shore, because the French guns on that side were not likely to be
manned, nor even ready for action. Intending, therefore, to fix himself
on the inner bow of the GUERRIER, he kept as near the edge of the bank
as the depth of water would admit; but his anchor hung, and having
opened his fire he drifted to the second ship, the CONQUERANT, before it
was clear; then anchored by the stern inside of her, and in ten minutes
shot away her mast. Hood, in the ZEALOUS, perceiving this, took the
station which the GOLIATH intended to have occupied, and totally
disabled the GUERRIER in twelve minutes. The third ship which doubled
the enemy's van was the ORION, Sir J. Saumarez; she passed to windward
of the ZEALOUS, and opened her larboard guns as long as they bore on
GUERRIER; then, passing inside the GOLIATH, sunk a frigate which annoyed
her, hauled round toward the French line, and anchoring inside, between
the fifth and sixth ships from the GUERRIER, took her station on the
larboard bow of the FRANKLIN and the quarter of the PEUPLE SOUVERAIN,
receiving and returning the fire of both. The sun was now nearly down.
The AUDACIOUS, Captain Could, pouring a heavy fire into the GUERRIER and
the CONQUERANT, fixed herself on the larboard bow of the latter, and
when that ship struck, passed on to the PEUPLE SOUVERAIN. The THESEUS,
Capt Miller, followed, brought down the GUERRIER's remaining main and
mizzen masts, then anchored inside of the SPARTIATE, the third in the
French line.

While these advanced ships doubled the French line, the VANGUARD was
the first that anchored on the outer side of the enemy, within half
pistol-shot of their third ship, the SPARTIATE. Nelson had six colours
flying in different parts of his rigging, lest they should be shot away;
that they should be struck, no British admiral considers as a
possibility. He veered half a cable, and instantly opened a tremendous
fire; under cover of which the other four ships of his division, the
MINOTAUR, BELLEROPHON, DEFENCE, and MAJESTIC, sailed on ahead of the
admiral. In a few minutes, every man stationed at the first six guns in
the fore part of the VANGUARD's deck was killed or wounded. These guns
were three times cleared. Captain Louis, in the MINOTAUR, anchored just
ahead, and took off the fire of the AQUILON, the fourth in the enemy's
line. The BELLEROPHON, Captain Darby, passed ahead, and dropped her
stern anchor on the starboard bow of the ORIENT, seventh in the line,
Brueys' own ship, of one hundred and twenty guns, whose difference of
force was in proportion of more than seven to three, and whose weight of
ball, from the lower deck alone, exceeded that from the whole broadside
of the BELLEROPHON. Captain Peyton, in the DEFENCE, took his station
ahead of the MINOTAUR, and engaged the FRANKLIN, the sixth in the line,
by which judicious movement the British line remained unbroken. The
MAJESTIC, Captain Westcott, got entangled with the main rigging of one
of the French ships astern of the ORIENT, and suffered dreadfully from
that three-decker's fire; but she swung clear, and closely engaging the
HEUREUX, the ninth ship on the starboard bow, received also the fire of
the TONNANT, which was the eighth in the line. The other four ships of
the British squadron, having been detached previous to the discovery of
the French, were at a considerable distance when the action began. It
commenced at half after six; about seven night closed, and there was no
other light than that from the fire of the contending fleets.

Troubridge, in the CULLODEN, then foremost of the remaining ships,
was two leagues astern. He came on sounding, as the others had done: as
he advanced, the increasing darkness increased the difficulty of the
navigation; and suddenly, after having found eleven fathoms water,
before the lead could be hove again he was fast aground; nor could all
his own exertions, joined with those of the LEANDER and the MUTINE brig,
which came to his assistance, get him off in time to bear a part in the
action. His ship, however, served as a beacon to the ALEXANDER and
SWIFTSURE, which would else, from the course which they were holding,
have gone considerably further on the reef, and must inevitably have
been lost. These ships entered the bay, and took their stations in the
darkness, in a manner still spoken of with admiration by all who
remember it. Captain Hallowell, in the SWIFTSURE, as he was bearing
down, fell in with what seemed to be a strange sail. Nelson had directed
his ships to hoist four lights horizontally at the mizzen peak as soon
as it became dark; and this vessel had no such distinction. Hallowell,
however, with great judgment, ordered his men not to fire: if she was an
enemy, he said, she was in too disabled a state to escape; but from her
sails being loose, and the way in which her head was, it was probable
she might be an English ship. It was the BELLEROPHON, overpowered by the
huge ORIENT: her lights had gone overboard, nearly 200 of her crew were
killed or wounded, all her masts and cables had been shot away; and she
was drifting out of the line toward the leeside of the bay. Her station,
at this important time, was occupied by the SWIFTSURE, which opened a
steady fire on the quarter of the FRANKLIN and the bows of the French
admiral. At the same instant, Captain Ball, with the ALEXANDER, passed
under his stern, and anchored within-side on his larboard quarter,
raking; him, and keeping up a severe fire of musketry upon his decks.
The last ship which arrived to complete the destruction of the enemy was
the LEANDER. Captain Thompson, finding that nothing could be done that
night to get off the CULLODEN, advanced with the intention of anchoring
athwart-hawse of the ORIENT. The FRANKLIN was so near her ahead that
there was not room for him to pass clear of the two; he therefore took
his station athwart-hawse of the latter in such a position as to rake

The two first ships of the French line had been dismasted within a
quarter of an hour after the commencement of the action; and the others
had in that time suffered so severely that victory was already certain.
The third, fourth, and fifth were taken possession of at half-past

Meantime Nelson received a severe wound on the head from a piece of
langridge shot. Captain Berry caught him in his arms as he was falling.
The great effusion of blood occasioned an apprehension that the wound
was mortal: Nelson himself thought so; a large flap of the skin of the
forehead, cut from the bone, had fallen over one eye; and the other
being blind, he was in total darkness. When he was carried down, the
surgeon--in the midst of a scene scarcely to be conceived by those who
have never seen a cockpit in time of action, and the heroism which is
displayed amid its horrors,--with a natural and pardonable eagerness,
quitted the poor fellow then under his hands, that he might instantly
attend the admiral. "No!" said Nelson, "I will take my turn with my
brave fellows." Nor would he suffer his own wound to be examined till
every man who had been previously wounded was properly attended to.
Fully believing that the wound was mortal, and that he was about to die,
as he had ever desired, in battle, and in victory, he called the
chaplain, and desired him to deliver what he supposed to be his dying
remembrance to lady Nelson; he then sent for Captain Louis on board
from the MINOTAUR, that he might thank him personally for the great
assistance which he had rendered to the VANGUARD; and ever mindful of
those who deserved to be his friends, appointed Captain Hardy from the
brig to the command of his own ship, Captain Berry having to go home
with the news of the victory. When the surgeon came in due time to exa-
mine his wound (for it was in vain to entreat him to let it be examined
sooner), the most anxious silence prevailed; and the joy of the wounded
men, and of the whole crew, when they heard that the hurt was merely
superficial, gave Nelson deeper pleasure than the unexpected assurance
that his life was in no danger. The surgeon requested, and as far as he
could, ordered him to remain quiet; but Nelson could not rest. He called
for his secretary, Mr. Campbell, to write the despatches. Campbell had
himself been wounded, and was so affected at the blind and suffering
state of the admiral that he was unable to write. The chaplain was then
sent for; but before he came, Nelson with his characteristic eagerness
took the pen, and contrived to trace a few words, marking his devout
sense of the success which had already been obtained. He was now left
alone; when suddenly a cry was heard on the deck that the ORIENT was on
fire. In the confusion he found his way up, unassisted and unnoticed;
and, to the astonishment of every one, appeared on the quarter-decks
where he immediately gave order that the boats should be sent to the
relief of the enemy.

It was soon after nine that the fire on, board the ORIENT broke out.
Brueys was dead; he had received three wounds, yet would not leave his
post: a fourth cut him almost in two. He desired not to be carried
below, but to be left to die upon deck. The flames soon mastered his
ship. Her sides had just been painted; and the oil-jars and paint
buckets were lying on the poop. By the prodigious light of this
conflagration, the situation of the two fleets could now be perceived,
the colours of both being clearly distinguishable. About ten o'clock the
ship blew up, with a shock which was felt to the very bottom of every
vessel. Many of her officers and men jumped overboard, some clinging to
the spars and pieces of wreck with which the sea was strewn, others
swimming to escape from the destruction which they momently dreaded.
Some were picked up by our boats; and some even in the heat and fury of
the action were dragged into the lower ports of the nearest British
ships by the British sailors. The greater part of her crew, however,
stood the danger till the last, and continued to fire from the lower
deck. This tremendous explosion was followed by a silence not less
awful: the firing immediately ceased on both sides; and the first sound
which broke the silence, was the dash of her shattered masts and yards,
falling into the water from the vast height to which they had been
exploded. It is upon record that a battle between two armies was once
broken off by an earthquake. Such an event would be felt like a miracle;
but no incident in war, produced by human means, has ever equalled the
sublimity of this co-instantaneous pause, and all its circumstances.

About seventy of the ORIENT's crew were saved by the English boats.
Among the many hundreds who perished were the commodore, Casa-Bianca,
and his son, a brave boy, only ten years old. They were seen floating on
a shattered mast when the ship blew up. She had money on board (the
plunder of Malta) to the amount of L600,000 sterling. The masses of
burning wreck, which were scattered by the explosion, excited for some
moments apprehensions in the English which they had never felt from any
other danger. Two large pieces fell into the main and fore tops of the
SWIFTSURE without injuring any person. A port-fire also fell into the
main-royal of the ALEXANDER; the fire which it occasioned was speedily
extinguished. Captain Ball had provided, as far as human foresight could
provide, against any such danger. All the shrouds and sails of his ship,
not absolutely necessary for its immediate management, were thoroughly
wetted, and so rolled up that they were as hard and as little
inflammable as so many solid cylinders.

The firing recommenced with the ships to leeward of the centre, and
continued till about three. At daybreak, the GUILLAUME TELL and the
GENEREUX, the two rear ships of the enemy, were the only French ships of
the line which had their colours flying; they cut their cables in the
forenoon, not having been engaged, and stood out to sea, and two
frigates with them. The ZEALOUS pursued; but as there was no other ship
in a condition to support Captain Hood, he was recalled. It was
generally believed by the officers that if Nelson had not been wounded,
not one of these ships could have escaped. The four certainly could not
if the CULLODEN had got into action; and if the frigates belonging to
the squadron had been present, not one of the enemy's fleet would have
left Aboukir Bay. These four vessels, however, were all that escaped;
and the victory was the most complete and glorious in the annals of
naval history. "Victory," said Nelson, "is not a name strong enough for
such a scene:" he called it a conquest. Of thirteen sail of the line,
nine were taken and two burned. Of the four frigates, one was sunk,
another, the ARTEMISE, was burned in a villanous manner by her captain,
M. Estandlet, who, having fired a broadside at the THESEUS, struck his
colours, then set fire to the ship and escaped with most of his crew to
shore. The British loss, in killed and wounded, amounted to 895 Westcott
was the only captain who fell; 3105 of the French, including the
wounded, were sent on shore by cartel, and 5225 perished.

As soon as the conquest was completed, Nelson sent orders through the
fleet to return thanksgiving in every ship for the victory with which
Almighty God had blessed his majesty's arms. The French at Rosetta, who
with miserable fear beheld the engagement, were at a loss to understand
the stillness of the fleet during the performance of this solemn duty;
but it seemed to affect many of the prisoners, officers as well as men;
and graceless and godless as the officers were, some of them remarked
that it was no wonder such order was Preserved in the British navy, when
the minds of our men could be Impressed with such sentiments after so
great a victory, and at a moment of such confusion. The French at
Rosetta, seeing their four ships sail out of the bay unmolested,
endeavoured to persuade themselves that they were in possession of the
place of battle. But it was in vain thus to attempt, against their own
secret and certain conviction, to deceive themselves; and even if they
could have succeeded in this, the bonfires which the Arabs kindled along
the whole coast, and over the country, for the three following nights,
would soon have undeceived them. Thousands of Arabs and Egyptians lined
the shore, and covered the house tops during the action, rejoicing in
the destruction which had overtaken their invaders. Long after the
battle, innumerable bodies were seen floating about the bay, in spite of
all the exertions which were made to sink them, as well from fear of
pestilence as from the loathing and horror which the sight occasioned.
Great numbers were cast up upon the Isle of Bekier (Nelson's Island, as
it has since been called), and our sailors raised mounds of sand over
them. Even after an interval of nearly three years Dr. Clarke saw them,
and assisted in interring heaps of human bodies, which, having been
thrown up by the sea where there were no jackals to devour them,
presented a sight loathsome to humanity. The shore, for an extent of
four leagues, was covered with wreck; and the Arabs found employment for
many days in burning on the beach the fragments which were cast up, for
the sake of the iron. Part of the ORIENT's main-mast was picked up by
the SWIFTSURE. Captain Hallowell ordered his carpenter to make a coffin
of it; the iron, as well as the wood, was taken from the wreck of the
same ship; it was finished as well and handsomely as the workman's skill
and materials would permit; and Hallowell then sent it to the admiral
with the following letter:--"Sir, I have taken the liberty of presenting
you a coffin made from the main mast of L'ORIENT, that when you have
finished your military career in this world you may be buried in one of
your trophies. But that that period may be far distant is the earnest
wish of your sincere friend, Benjamin Hallowell."--An offering so
strange, and yet so suited to the occasion, was received by Nelson in
the spirit with which it was sent. As if he felt it good for him, now
that he was at the summit of his wishes, to have death before his eyes,
he ordered the coffin to be placed upright in his cabin. Such a piece of
furniture, however, was more suitable to his own feelings than to those
of his guests and attendants; and an old favourite servant entreated him
so earnestly to let it be removed, that at length he consented to have
the coffin carried below; but he gave strict orders that it should be
safely stowed, and reserved for the purpose for which its brave and
worthy donor had designed it.

The victory was complete; but Nelson could not pursue it as he would
have done for want of means. Had he been provided with small craft,
nothing could have prevented the destruction of the store-ships and
transports in the port of Alexandria: four bomb-vessels would at that
time have burned the whole in a few hours. "Were I to die this moment."
said he in his despatches to the Admiralty, "WANT OF FRIGATES would be
found stamped on my heart! No words of mine can express what I have
suffered, and am suffering, for want of them." He had also to bear up
against great bodily suffering: the blow had so shaken his head, that
from its constant and violent aching, and the perpetual sickness which
accompanied the pain, he could scarcely persuade himself that the skull
was not fractured. Had it not been for Troubridge, Ball, Hood, and
Hallowell, he declared that he should have sunk under the fatigue of
refitting the squadron. "All," he said, "had done well; but these
officers were his supporters." But, amidst his sufferings and exertions,
Nelson could yet think of all the consequences of his victory; and that
no advantage from it might be lost, he despatched an officer overland
to India, with letters to the governor of Bombay, informing him of the
arrival of the French in Egypt, the total destruction of their fleet,
and the consequent preservation of India from any attempt against it on
the part of this formidable armament. "He knew that Bombay," he said,
"was their first object, if they could get there; but he trusted that
Almighty God would overthrow in Egypt these pests of the human race.
Buonaparte had never yet had to contend with an English officer, and he
would endeavour to make him respect us." This despatch he sent upon his
own responsibility, with letters of credit upon the East India Company,
addressed to the British consuls, vice-consuls, and merchants on his
route; Nelson saying, "that if he had done wrong, he hoped the bills
would be paid, and he would repay the Company; for, as an Englishman, he
should be proud that it had been in his power to put our settlements on
their guard." The information which by this means reached India was of
great importance. Orders had just been received for defensive
preparations, upon a scale proportionate to the apprehended danger; and
the extraordinary expenses which would otherwise have been incurred were
thus prevented.

Nelson was now at the summit of glory; congratulations, rewards, and
honours were showered upon him by all the states, and princes, and
powers to whom his victory gave a respite. The first communication of
this nature which he received was from the Turkish sultan, who, as soon
as the invasion of Egypt was known, had called upon "all true believers
to take arms against those swinish infidels the French, that they might
deliver these blessed habitations from their accursed hands;" and who
had ordered his "pashas to turn night into day in their efforts to take
vengeance." The present of "his imperial majesty, the powerful,
formidable, and most magnificent Grand Seignior," was a pelisse of
sables, with broad sleeves, valued at 5000 dols.; and a diamond aigrette,
valued at 18,000 dols., the most honourable badge among the Turks; and in
this instance more especially honourable, because it was taken from one
of the royal turbans. "If it were worth a million," said Nelson to his
wife, "my pleasure would be to see it in your possession." The sultan
also sent, in a spirit worthy of imitation, a purse of 2000 sequins, to
be distributed among the wounded. The mother of the sultan sent him a
box, set with diamonds, valued at L1000. The Czar Paul, in whom the
better part of his strangely compounded nature at this time
predominated, presented him with his portrait, set in diamonds, in a
gold box, accompanied with a letter of congratulation, written by his
own hand. The king of Sardinia also wrote to him, and sent a gold box
set with diamonds. Honours in profusion were awaiting him at Naples. In
his own country the king granted these honourable augmentations to his
armorial ensign: a chief undulated, ARGENT: thereon waves of the sea;
from which a palm tree issuant, between a disabled ship on the dexter,
and a ruinous battery on the sinister all proper; and for his crest, on
a naval crown, OR, the chelengk, or plume, presented to him by the Turk,
with the motto, PALMAM QUI MERUIT FERAT. And to his supporters, being a
sailor on the dexter, and a lion on the sinister, were given these
honourable augmentations: a palm branch in the sailor's hand, and
another in the paw of the lion, both proper; with a tri-coloured flag
and staff in the lion's mouth. He was created Baron Nelson of the Nile,
and of Burnham Thorpe, with a pension of L2000 for his own life, and
those of his two immediate successors. When the grant was moved in the
House of Commons, General Walpole expressed an opinion that a higher
degree of rank ought to be conferred. Mr. Pitt made answer, that he
thought it needless to enter into that question. "Admiral Nelson's
fame," he said,"would be co-equal with the British name; and it would be
remembered that he had obtained the greatest naval victory on record,
when no man would think of asking whether he had been created a baron, a
viscount, or an earl." It was strange that, in the very act of
conferring a title, the minister should have excused himself for not
having conferred a higher one, by representing all titles, on such an
occasion, as nugatory and superfluous. True, indeed, whatever title had
been bestowed, whether viscount, earl, marquis, duke, or prince, if our
laws had so permitted, he who received it would have been Nelson still.
That name he had ennobled beyond all addition of nobility; it was the
name by which England loved him, France feared him, Italy, Egypt, and
Turkey celebrated him, and by which he will continue to be known while
the present kingdoms and languages of the world endure, and as long as
their history after them shall be held in remembrance. It depended upon
the degree of rank what should be the fashion of his coronet, in what
page of the red book his name was to be inserted, and what precedency
should be allowed his lady in the drawing-room and at the ball. That
Nelson's honours were affected thus far, and no further, might be
conceded to Mr. Pitt and his colleagues in administration; but the
degree of rank which they thought proper to allot was the measure of
their gratitude, though not of his service. This Nelson felt, and this
he expressed, with indignation, among his friends.

Whatever may have been the motives of the ministry, and whatever the
formalities with which they excused their conduct to themselves, the
importance and magnitude of the victory were universally acknowledged.
A grant of L10,000 was voted to Nelson by the East India Company; the
Turkish Company presented him with a piece of plate; the City of London
presented a sword to him, and to each of his captains; gold medals were
distributed to the captains; and the first lieutenants of all the ships
were promoted, as had been done after Lord Howe's victory. Nelson was
exceedingly anxious that the captain and first lieutenant of the
CULLODEN should not be passed over because of their misfortune. To
Troubridge himself he said, "Let us rejoice that the ship which got on
shore was commanded by an officer whose character is so thoroughly
established." To the Admiralty he stated that Captain Troubridge's
conduct was as fully entitled to praise as that of any one officer in
the squadron, and as highly deserving of reward. "It was Troubridge,"
said he, "who equipped the squadron so soon at Syracuse; it was
Troubridge who exerted himself for me after the action; it was
Troubridge who saved the CULLODEN, when none that I know in the service
would have attempted it." The gold medal, therefore, by the king's
express desire, was given to Captain Troubridge, "for his services both
before and since, and for the great and wonderful exertion which he made
at the time of the action in saving and getting off his ship." The
private letter from the Admiralty to Nelson informed him that the first
lieutenants of all the ships ENGAGED were to be promoted. Nelson
instantly wrote to the commander-in-chief: "I sincerely hope," said he,
"this is not intended to exclude the first lieutenant of the CULLODEN.
For heaven's sake--for my sake, if it be so--get it altered. Our dear
friend Troubridge has endured enough. His sufferings were, in every
respect, more than any of us." To the Admiralty he wrote in terms
equally warm. "I hope, and believe, the word ENGAGED is not intended to
exclude the CULLODEN. The merits of that ship, and her gallant Captain,
are too well known to benefit by anything I could say. Her misfortune
was great in getting aground, while her more fortunate companions were
in the full tide of happiness. No: I am confident that my good Lord
Spencer will never add misery to misfortune. Captain Troubridge on
shore is superior to captains afloat: in the midst of his great
misfortunes he made those signals which prevented certainly the
ALEXANDER and SWIFTSURE from running on the shoals. I beg your pardon
for writing on a subject which, I verily believe, has never entered your
lordship's head; but my heart, as it ought to be, is warm to my gallant
friends." Thus feelingly alive was Nelson to the claims, and interests,
and feelings of others. The Admiralty replied, that the exception was
necessary, as the ship had not been in action; but they desired the
commander-in-chief to promote the lieutenant upon the first vacancy
which should occur.

Nelson, in remembrance of an old and uninterrupted friendship, ap-
pointed Alexander Davison sole prize agent for the captured ships: upon
which Davison ordered medals to be struck in gold, for the captains; in
silver, for the lieutenants and warrant officers; in gilt metal for the
petty officers; and in copper for the seamen and marines. The cost of
this act of liberality amounted nearly to L2000. It is worthy of record
on another account;--for some of the gallant men, who received no other
honorary badge of their conduct on that memorable day than this copper
medal from a private individual, years afterwards, when they died upon
a foreign station, made it their last request, that the medals might
carefully be sent home to their respective friends. So sensible are
brave men of honour, in whatever rank they may be placed.

Three of the frigates, whose presence would have been so essential a
few weeks sooner, joined the squadron on the twelfth day after the
action. The fourth joined a few days after them. Nelson thus received
despatches, which rendered it necessary for him to return to Naples.
Before he left Egypt he burned three of the prizes; they could not have
been fitted for a passage to Gibraltar in less than a month, and that at
a great expense, and with the loss of the services of at least two sail
of the line. "I rest assured," he said to the Admiralty, "that they will
be paid for, and have held out that assurance to the squadron. For if
an admiral, after a victory, is to look after the captured ships, and
not to the distressing of the enemy, very dearly, indeed, must the
nation pay for the prizes. I trust that L60,000 will be deemed a very
moderate sum for them: and when the services, time, and men, with the
expense of fitting the three ships for a voyage to England, are
considered, government will save nearly as much as they are valued at.
Paying for prizes," he continued, "is no new idea of mine, and would
often prove an amazing saving to the state, even without taking into
calculation what the nation loses by the attention of admirals to the
property of the captors; an attention absolutely necessary, as a
recompence for the exertions of the officers and men. An admiral may be
amply rewarded by his own feelings, and by the approbation of his
superiors; but what reward have the inferior officers and men but the
value of the prizes? If an admiral takes that from them, on any
consideration, he cannot expect to be well supported." To Earl St.
Vincent he said, "If he could have been sure that government would have
paid a reasonable value for them, he would have ordered two of the other
prizes to be burnt, for they would cost more in refitting, and by the
loss of ships attending them, than they were worth."

Having sent the six remaining prizes forward, under Sir James
Saumarez, Nelson left Captain Hood, in the ZEALOUS off Alexandria, with
the SWIFTSURE, GOLIATH, Alcmene, ZEALOUS, and EMERALD, and stood out to
sea himself on the seventeenth day after the battle.


1798 - 1800

Nelson returns to Naples--State of that Court and Kingdom--
General Mack--The French approach Naples--Flight of the Royal
Family--Successes of the Allies in Italy--Transactions in the
Bay of Naples--Expulsion of the French from the Neapolitan and
Roman States--Nelson is made Duke of Bronte--He leaves the
Mediterranean and returns to England.


NELSON's health had suffered greatly while he was in the AGAMEMNON.
"My complaint," he said, "is as if a girth were buckled taut over my
breast, and my endeavour in the night is to get it loose." After the
battle of Cape St. Vincent he felt a little rest to be so essential to
his recovery, that he declared he would not continue to serve longer
than the ensuing summer, unless it should be absolutely necessary; for


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