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The Life of Horatio Lord Nelson by Robert Southey

Part 3 out of 5

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in his own strong language, he had then been four years and nine months
without one moment's repose for body or mind. A few months'
intermission of labour he had obtained--not of rest, for it was
purchased with the loss of a limb; and the greater part of the time had
been a season of constant pain. As soon as his shattered frame had
sufficiently recovered for him to resume his duties, he was called to
services of greater importance than any on which he had hitherto been
employed, which brought with them commensurate fatigue and care.

The anxiety which he endured during his long pursuit of the enemy,
was rather changed in its direction than abated by their defeat; and
this constant wakefulness of thought, added to the effect of his wound,
and the exertions from which it was not possible for one of so ardent
and wide-reaching a mind to spare himself,nearly proved fatal. On his
way back to Italy he was seized with fever. For eighteen hours his life
was despaired of; and even when the disorder took a favourable turn,
and he was so far recovered as again to appear on deck, he himself
thought that his end was approaching--such was the weakness to which the
fever and cough had reduced him. Writing to Earl St. Vincent on the
passage, he said to him, "I never expect, my dear lord, to see your face
again. It may please God that this will be the finish to that fever of
anxiety which I have endured from the middle of June; but be that as it
pleases his goodness. I am resigned to his will."

The kindest attentions of the warmest friendship were awaiting him at
Naples. "Come here," said Sir William Hamilton, "for God's sake, my dear
friend, as soon as the service will permit you. A pleasant apartment is
ready for you in my house, and Emma is looking out for the softest
pillows to repose the few wearied limbs you have left." Happy would it
have been for Nelson if warm and careful friendship had been all that
waited him there. He himself saw at that time the character of the
Neapolitan court, as it first struck an Englishman, in its true light;
and when he was on the way, he declared that he detested the voyage to
Naples, and that nothing but necessity could have forced him to it. But
never was any hero, on his return from victory, welcomed with more
heartfelt joy. Before the battle of Aboukir the Court at Naples had been
trembling for its existence. The language which the Directory held
towards it was well described by Sir William Hamilton as being exactly
the language of a highwayman. The Neapolitans were told that Benevento
might be added to their dominions, provided they would pay a large sum,
sufficient to satisfy the Directory; and they were warned, that if the
proposal were refused, or even if there were any delay in accepting it,
the French would revolutionise all Italy. The joy, therefore, of the
Court at Nelson's success was in proportion to the dismay from which
that success relieved them. The queen was a daughter of Maria Theresa,
and sister of Maria Antoinette. Had she been the wisest and gentlest of
her sex, it would not have been possible for her to have regarded the
French without hatred and horror; and the progress of revolutionary
opinions, while it perpetually reminded her of her sister's fate,
excited no unreasonable apprehensions for her own. Her feelings,
naturally ardent, and little accustomed to restraint, were excited to
the highest pitch when the news of the victory arrived. Lady Hamilton,
her constant friend and favourite, who was present, says, "It is not
possible to describe her transports; she wept, she kissed her husband,
her children, walked frantically about the room, burst into tears again,
and again kissed and embraced every person near her; exclaiming,"O
brave Nelson! O God! bless and protect our brave deliverer! O Nelson!
Nelson! what do we not owe you! O conqueror--saviour of Italy! O that my
swollen heart could now tell him personally what we owe to him!" She
herself wrote to the Neapolitan ambassador at London upon the occasion,
in terms which show the fulness of her joy, and the height of the hopes
which it had excited. "I wish I could give wings," said she, "to the
bearer of the news, and at the same time to our most sincere gratitude.
The whole of the sea-coast of Italy saved; and this is owing alone to
the generous English. This battle, or, to speak more correctly, this
total defeat of the regicide squadron, was obtained by the valour of
this brave admiral, seconded by a navy which is the terror of its
enemies. The victory is so complete that I can still scarcely believe
it; and if it were not the brave English nation, which is accustomed to
perform prodigies by sea, I could not persuade myself that it had
happened. It would have moved you to have seen all my children, boys and
girls, hanging on my neck, and crying for joy at the happy news.
Recommend the hero to his master: he has filled the whole of Italy with
admiration of the English. Great hopes were entertained of some
advantages being gained by his bravery, but no one could look for so
total a destruction. All here are drunk with joy."

Such being the feelings of the royal family, it may well be supposed
with what delight, and with what honours Nelson would be welcomed. Early
on the 22nd of September the poor wretched VANGUARD, as he called his
shattered vessel, appeared in sight of Naples. The CULLODEN and
ALEXANDER had preceded her by some days, and given notice of her
approach. Many hundred boats and barges were ready to go forth and meet
him, with music and streamers and every demonstration of joy and
triumph. Sir William and Lady Hamilton led the way in their state barge.
They had seen Nelson only for a few days, four years ago, but they then
perceived in him that heroic spirit which was now so fully and
gloriously manifested to the world. Emma Lady Hamilton, who from this
time so greatly influenced his future life, was a woman whose personal
accomplishments have seldom been equalled, and whose powers of mind were
not less fascinating than her person. She was passionately attached to
the queen; and by her influence the British fleet had obtained those
supplies at Syracuse, without which, Nelson always asserted, the battle
of Aboukir could not have been fought. During the long interval which
passed before any tidings were received, her anxiety had been hardly
less than that of Nelson himself, while pursuing an enemy of whom he
could obtain no information; and when the tidings were brought her by a
joyful bearer, open-mouthed, its effect was such that she fell like one
who had been shot. She and Sir William had literally been made ill by
their hopes and fears, and joy at a catastrophe so far exceeding all
that they had dared to hope for. Their admiration for the hero
necessarily produced a degree of proportionate gratitude and affection;
and when their barge came alongside the VANGUARD, at the sight of
Nelson, Lady Hamilton sprang up the ship's side, and exclaiming,"O God!
is it possible!" fell into his arms more, he says, like one dead than
alive. He described the meeting as "terribly affecting." These friends
had scarcely recovered from their tears, when the king, who went out to
meet him three leagues in the royal barge, came on board and took him by
the hand, calling him his deliverer and preserver. From all the boats
around he was saluted with the same appellations: the multitude who
surrounded him when he landed repeated the same enthusiastic cries; and
the lazzaroni displayed their joy by holding up birds in cages, and
giving them their liberty as he passed.

His birth-day, which occurred a week after his arrival, was
celebrated with one of the most splendid fetes ever beheld at Naples.
But, notwithstanding the splendour with which he was encircled, and the
flattering honours with which all ranks welcomed him, Nelson was fully
sensible of the depravity, as well as weakness, of those by whom he was
surrounded. "What precious moments" said he, "the courts of Naples and
Vienna are losing! Three months would liberate Italy! but this court is
so enervated that the happy moment will be lost. I am very unwell; and
their miserable conduct is not likely to cool my irritable temper. It
is a country of fiddlers and poets, whores and scoundrels." This sense
of their ruinous weakness he always retained; nor was he ever blind to
the mingled folly and treachery of the Neapolitan ministers, and the
complication in iniquities under which the country groaned; but he
insensibly, under the influence of Lady Hamilton, formed an affection
for the court, to whose misgovernment the miserable condition of the
country was so greatly to be imputed. By the kindness of her nature, as
well as by her attractions, she had won his heart. Earl St. Vincent,
writing to her at this time, says, "Pray do not let your fascinating
Neapolitan dames approach too near our invaluable friend Nelson, for he
is made of flesh and blood, and cannot resist their temptations." But
this was addressed to the very person from whom he was in danger.

The state of Naples may be described in few words. The king was one
of the Spanish Bourbons. As the Caesars have shown us to what wickedness
the moral nature of princes may be perverted, so in this family, the
degradation to which their intellectual nature can be reduced has been
not less conspicuously evinced. Ferdinand, like the rest of his race,
was passionately fond of field sports, and cared for nothing else. His
queen had all the vices of the house of Austria, with little to
mitigate, and nothing to ennoble them--provided she could have her
pleasures, and the king his sports, they cared not in what manner the
revenue was raised or administered. Of course a system of favouritism
existed at court, and the vilest and most impudent corruption prevailed
in every department of state, and in every branch of administration,
from the highest to the lowest. It is only the institutions of
Christianity, and the vicinity of better-regulated states, which prevent
kingdoms, under such circumstances of misrule, from sinking into a
barbarism like that of Turkey. A sense of better things was kept alive
in some of the Neapolitans by literature, and by their intercourse with
happier countries. These persons naturally looked to France, at the
commencement of the Revolution, and during all the horrors of that
Revolution still cherished a hope that, by the aid of France, they might
be enabled to establish a new order of things in Naples. They were
grievously mistaken in supposing that the principles of liberty would
ever be supported by France, but they were not mistaken in believing
that no government could be worse than their own; and therefore they
considered any change as desirable. In this opinion men of the most
different characters agreed. Many of the nobles, who were not in favour,
wished for a revolution, that they might obtain the ascendancy to which
they thought themselves entitled; men of desperate fortunes desired it,
in the hope of enriching themselves; knaves and intriguers sold
themselves to the French to promote it; and a few enlightened men, and
true lovers of their country, joined in the same cause, from the purest
and noblest motives. All these were confounded under the common name of
Jacobins; and the Jacobins of the continental kingdoms were regarded by
the English with more hatred than they deserved. They were classed with
Phillippe Egalite, Marat, and Hebert; whereas they deserved rather to be
ranked, if not with Locke, and Sydney, and Russell, at least with Argyle
and Monmouth, and those who, having the same object as the prime movers
of our own Revolution, failed in their premature but not unworthy

No circumstances could be more unfavourable to the best interests of
Europe, than those which placed England in strict alliance with the
superannuated and abominable governments of the continent. The subjects
of those governments who wished for freedom thus became enemies to
England, and dupes and agents of France. They looked to their own
grinding grievances, and did not see the danger with which the liberties
of the world were threatened. England, on the other hand, saw the danger
in its true magnitude, but was blind to these grievances, and found
herself compelled to support systems which had formerly been equally the
object of her abhorrence and her contempt. This was the state of
Nelson's mind; he knew that there could be no peace for Europe till the
pride of France was humbled, and her strength broken; and he regarded
all those who were the friends of France as traitors to the common
cause, as well as to their own individual sovereigns. There are
situations in which the most opposite and hostile parties may mean
equally well, and yet act equally wrong. The court of Naples,
unconscious of committing any crime by continuing the system of misrule
to which they had succeeded, conceived that, in maintaining things as
they were, they were maintaining their own rights, and preserving the
people from such horrors as had been perpetrated in France. The
Neapolitan revolutionists thought that without a total change of system,
any relief from the present evils was impossible, and they believed
themselves justified in bringing about that change by any means. Both
parties knew that it was the fixed intention of the French to
revolutionise Naples. The revolutionists supposed that it was for the
purpose of establishing a free government; the court, and all
disinterested persons, were perfectly aware that the enemy had no other
object than conquest and plunder.

The battle of the Nile shook the power of France. Her most
successful general, and her finest army, were blocked up in Egypt--
hopeless, as it appeared, of return; and the government was in the hands
of men without talents, without character, and divided among themselves.
Austria, whom Buonaparte had terrified into a peace, at a time when
constancy on her part would probably have led to his destruction, took
advantage of the crisis to renew the war. Russia also was preparing to
enter the field with unbroken forces, led by a general, whose
extraordinary military genius would have entitled him to a high and
honourable rank in history, if it had not been sullied by all the
ferocity of a barbarian. Naples, seeing its destruction at hand, and
thinking that the only means of averting it was by meeting the danger,
after long vacillations, which were produced by the fears and treachery
of its council, agreed at last to join this new coalition with a
numerical force of 80,000 men. Nelson told the king, in plain terms,
that he had his choice, either to advance, trusting to God for his
blessing on a just cause, and prepared to die sword in hand, or to
remain quiet, and be kicked out of his kingdom; one of these things must
happen. The king made answer he would go on, and trust in God and
Nelson; and Nelson, who would else have returned to Egypt, for the
purpose of destroying the French shipping in Alexandria, gave up his
intention at the desire of the Neapolitan court, and resolved to. remain
on that station, in the hope that he might be useful to the movements of
the army. He suspected also, with reason, that the continuance of his
fleet was so earnestly requested, because the royal family thought
their persons would be safer, in case of any mishap, under the British
flag, than under their own.

His first object was the recovery of Malta--an island which the King
of Naples pretended to claim. The Maltese, whom the villanous knights of
their order had betrayed to France, had taken up arms against their
rapacious invaders, with a spirit and unanimity worthy of the highest
praise. They blockaded the French garrison by land, and a small
squadron, under Captain Ball, began to blockade them by sea, on the 12th
of October. Twelve days afterwards Nelson arrived. "It is as I
suspected," he says: "the ministers at Naples know nothing of the
situation of the island. Not a house or bastion of the town is in
possession of the islanders: and the Marquis de Niza tells us they want
arms, victuals, and support. He does not know that any Neapolitan
officers are on the island; perhaps, although I have their names, none
are arrived; and it is very certain, by the marquis's account, that no
supplies have been sent by the governors of Syracuse and Messina." The
little island of Gozo, dependent upon Malta, which had also been seized
and garrisoned by the French, capitulated soon after his arrival, and
was taken possession of by the British, in the name of his Sicilian
Majesty--a power who had no better claim to it than France. Having seen
this effected, and reinforced Captain Ball, he left that able officer to
perform a most arduous and important part, and returned himself to co-
operate with the intended movements of the Neapolitans.

General Mack was at the head of the Neapolitan troops. All that is
now doubtful concerning this man is, whether he was a coward or a
traitor. At that time he was assiduously extolled as a most consummate
commander, to whom Europe might look for deliverance. And when he was
introduced by the king and queen to the British admiral, the queen said
to him, "Be to us by land, general, what my hero Nelson has been by
sea." Mack, on his part, did not fail to praise the force which he was
appointed to command. "It was," he said,"the finest army in Europe."
Nelson agreed with him that there could not be finer men; but when the
general, at a review, so directed the operations of a mock fight, that
by an unhappy blunder his own troops were surrounded, instead of those
of the enemy, he turned to his friends and exclaimed with bitterness,
that the fellow did not understand his business. Another circumstance,
not less characteristic, confirmed Nelson in his judgment. "General
Mack:" said he, in one of his letters, "cannot move without five
carriages! I have formed my opinion. I heartily pray I may be mistaken."

While Mack, at the head of 32,000 men, marched into the Roman state,
5000 Neapolitans were embarked on board the British and Portuguese
squadron, to take possession of Leghorn. This was effected without
opposition; and the Grand Duke of Tuscany, whose neutrality had been so
outrageously violated by the French, was better satisfied with the
measure than some of the Neapolitans themselves. Nasseli, their
general, refused to seize the French vessels at Leghorn, because he and
the Duke di Sangro, who was ambassador at the Tuscan court, maintained
that the king of Naples was not at war with France. "What!" said
Nelson, "has not the king received, as a conquest made by him, the
republican flag taken at Gozo? Is not his own flag flying there, and at
Malta, not only by his permission, but by his order? Is not his flag
shot at every day by the French, and their shot returned from batteries
which bear that flag? Are not two frigates and a corvette placed under
my orders ready to fight the French, meet them where they may? Has not
the king sent publicly from Naples guns, mortars, &c., with officers and
artillery, against the French in Malta? If these acts are not tantamount
to any written paper, I give up all knowledge of what is war." This
reasoning was of less avail than argument addressed to the general's
fears. Nelson told him that, if he permitted the many hundred French who
were then in the mole to remain neutral, till they had a fair
opportunity of being active, they had one sure resource, if all other
schemes failed, which was to set one vessel on fire; the mole would be
destroyed, probably the town also, and the port ruined for twenty years.
This representation made Naselli agree to the half measure of laying an
embargo on the vessels; among them were a great number of French
privateers, some of which were of such force as to threaten the greatest
mischief to our commerce, and about seventy sail of vessels belonging to
the Ligurian republic, as Genoa was now called, laden with corn, and
ready to sail for Genoa and France; where their arrival would have
expedited the entrance of more French troops into Italy. "The general,"
said Nelson, "saw, I believe, the consequence of permitting these
vessels to depart, in the same light as myself; but there is this
difference between us: he prudently, and certainly safely, waits the
orders of his court, taking no responsibility upon himself; I act from
the circumstances of the moment, as I feel may be most advantageous for
the cause which I serve, taking all responsibility on myself." It was in
vain to hope for anything vigorous or manly from such men as Nelson was
compelled to act with. The crews of the French ships and their allies
were ordered to depart in two days. Four days elapsed and nobody obeyed
the order; nor, in spite of the representations of the British minister,
Mr. Wyndham, were any means taken to enforce it: the true Neapolitan
shuffle, as Nelson called it, took place on all occasions. After an
absence of ten days he returned to Naples; and receiving intelligence
there from Mr. Wyndham that the privateers were at last to be disarmed,
the corn landed, and the crews sent away, he expressed his satisfaction
at the news in characteristic language, saying, "So far I am content.
The enemy will be distressed; and, thank God, I shall get no money. The
world, I know, think that money is our god; and now they will be
undeceived as far as relates to us. Down, down with the French! is my
constant prayer."

Odes, sonnets, and congratulatory poems of every description were
poured in upon Nelson on his arrival at Naples. An Irish Franciscan, who
was one of the poets, not being content with panegyric upon this
occasion, ventured on a flight of prophecy, and predicted that Lord
Nelson would take Rome with his ships. His lordship reminded Father
M'Cormick that ships could not ascend the Tiber; but the father, who had
probably forgotten this circumstance, met the objection with a bold
front, and declared he saw that it would come to pass notwithstanding.
Rejoicings of this kind were of short duration. The King of Naples was
with the army which had entered Rome; but the castle of St. Angelo was
held by the French, and 13,000 French were strongly posted in the Roman
states at Castallana. Mack had marched against them with 20,000 men.
Nelson saw that the event was doubtful, or rather that there could be
very little hope of the result. But the immediate fate of Naples, as he
well knew, hung upon the issue. "If Mack is defeated," said he, "in
fourteen days this country is lost; for the emperor has not yet moved
his army, and Naples has not the power of resisting the enemy. It was
not a case for choice, but of necessity, which induced the king to march
out of his kingdom, and not wait till the French had collected a force
sufficient to drive him out of it in a week." He had no reliance upon
the Neapolitan officers, who, as he described them, seemed frightened at
a drawn sword or a loaded gun; and he was perfectly aware of the
consequences which the sluggish movements and deceitful policy of the
Austrians were likely to bring down upon themselves and all their
continental allies. "A delayed war on the part of the emperor," said he,
writing to the British minister at Vienna, "will be destructive to this
monarchy of Naples; and, of course, to the newly-acquired dominions of
the Emperor in Italy. Had the war commenced in September or October, all
Italy would, at this moment, have been liberated. This month is worse
than the last; the next will render the contest doubtful; and, in six
months, when the Neapolitan republic will be organised, armed, and with
its numerous resources called forth, the emperor will not only be
defeated in Italy, but will totter on his throne at Vienna. DOWN, DOWN
WITH THE FRENCH! ought to be written in the council-room of every
country in the world; and may Almighty God give right thoughts to every
sovereign, is my constant prayer!" His perfect foresight of the
immediate event was clearly shown in this letter, when he desired the
ambassador to assure the empress (who was a daughter of the house of
Naples) that, notwithstanding the councils which had shaken the throne
of her father and mother, he would remain there, ready to save their
persons, and her brothers and sisters; and that he had also left ships
at Leghorn to save the lives of the grand duke and her sister: "For
all," said he, "must be a republic, if the emperor does not act with
expedition and vigour."

His fears were soon verified. "The Neapolitan officers," said
Nelson, "did not lose much honour, for, God knows, they had not much to
lose; but they lost all they had." General St. Philip commanded the
right wing, of 19,000 men. He fell in with 3000 of the enemy; and, as
soon as he came near enough, deserted to them. One of his men had virtue
enough to level a musket at him, and shot him through the arm; but the
wound was not sufficient to prevent him from joining with the French in
pursuit of his own countrymen. Cannon, tents, baggage, and military
chest, were all forsaken by the runaways, though they lost only forty
men; for the French having put them to flight and got possession of
everything, did not pursue an army of more than three times their own
number. The main body of the Neapolitans, under Mack, did not behave
better. The king returned to Naples, where every day brought with it
tidings of some new disgrace from the army and the discovery of some new
treachery at home; till, four days after his return, the general sent
him advice that there was no prospect of stopping the progress of the
enemy, and that the royal family must look to their own personal safety.
The state of the public mind at Naples was such, at this time, that
neither the British minister nor the British Admiral thought it prudent
to appear at court. Their motions were watched; and the revolutionists
had even formed a plan for seizing and detaining them as hostages, to
prevent an attack on the city after the French should have taken
possession of it. A letter which Nelson addressed at this time to the
First Lord of the Admiralty, shows in what manner he contemplated the
possible issue of the storm. it was in these words:--"My dear lord,
there is an old saying, that when things are at the worst they must
mend: now the mind of man cannot fancy things worse than they are here.
But, thank God! my health is better, my mind never firmer, and my heart
in the right trim to comfort, relieve, and protect those whom it is my
duty to afford assistance to. Pray, my lord, assure our gracious
sovereign that while I live, I will support his glory; and that if I
fall, it shall be in a manner worthy of your lordship's faithful and
obliged Nelson. I must not write more. Every word may be a text for a
long letter."

Meantime Lady Hamilton arranged every thing for the removal of the
royal family. This was conducted on her part with the greatest address,
and without suspicion, because she had been in habits of constant
correspondence with the queen. It was known that the removal could not
be effected without danger; for the mob, and especially the lazzaroni,
were attached to the king; and as at this time they felt a natural
presumption in their own numbers and strength, they insisted that he
should not leave Naples. Several persons fell victims to their fury;
among others was a messenger from Vienna, whose body was dragged under
the windows of the palace in the king's sight. The king and queen spoke
to the mob, and pacified them; but it would not have been safe, while
they were in this agitated state, to have embarked the effects of the
royal family openly. Lady Hamilton, like a heroine of modern romance,
explored with no little danger a subterraneous passage leading from the
palace to the sea-side: through this passage the royal treasures, the
choicest pieces of painting and sculpture, and other property to the
amount of two millions and a half, were conveyed to the shore, and
stowed safely on board the English ships. On the night. of the 21st, at
half-past eight, Nelson landed, brought out the whole royal family,
embarked them in three barges, and carried them safely, through a
tremendous sea, to the VANGUARD. Notice was then immediately given to
the British merchants, that they would be received on board any ships in
the squadron. Their property had previously been embarked in transports.
Two days were passed in the bay, for the purpose of taking such persons
on board as required an asylum; and, on the night of the 23rd, the fleet
sailed. The next day a more violent storm arose than Nelson had ever
before encountered. On the 25th, the youngest of the princes was taken
ill, and died in Lady Hamilton's arms. During this whole trying season,
Lady Hamilton waited upon the royal family with the zeal of the most
devoted servant, at a time when, except one man, no person belonging to
the court assisted them.

On the morning of the 26th the royal family were landed at Palermo.
It was soon seen that their flight had not been premature. Prince
Pignatelli, who had been left as vicar-general and viceroy, with orders
to defend the kingdom to the last rock in Calabria, sent
plenipotentiaries to the French camp before Capua; and they, for the
sake of saving the capital, signed an armistice, by which the greater
part of the kingdom was given up to the enemy: a cession that
necessarily led to the loss of the whole. This was on the 10th of
January. The French advanced towards Naples. Mack, under pretext of
taking shelter from the fury of the lazzaroni, fled to the French
General Championet, who sent him under an escort to Milan; but as France
hoped for further services from this wretched traitor, it was thought
prudent to treat him apparently as a prisoner of war. The Neapolitan
army disappeared in a few days: of the men, some, following their
officers, deserted to the enemy; the greater part took the opportunity
of disbanding themselves. The lazzaroni proved true to their country;
they attacked the enemy's advanced posts, drove them in, and were not
dispirited by the murderous defeat which they suffered from the main
body. Flying into the city, they continued to defend it, even after the
French had planted their artillery in the principal streets. Had there
been a man of genius to have directed their enthusiasm, or had there
been any correspondent feelings in the higher ranks, Naples might have
set a glorious example to Europe, and have proved the grave of every
Frenchman who entered it. But the vices of the government had
extinguished all other patriotism than that of the rabble, who had no
other than that sort of loyalty which was like the fidelity of a dog to
its master. This fidelity the French and their adherents counteracted by
another kind of devotion: the priests affirmed that St. Januarius had
declared in favour of the revolution. The miracle of his blood was
performed with the usual success, and more than usual effect, on the
very evening when, after two days of desperate fighting, the French
obtained possession of Naples. A French guard of honour was stationed at
his church. Championet gave, "Respect for St. Januarius!" as the word
for the army; and the next day TE DEUM was sung by the archbishop in the
cathedral; and the inhabitants were invited to attend the ceremony, and
join in thanksgiving for the glorious entry of the French; who, it was
said, being under the peculiar protection of Providence, had
regenerated the Neapolitans, and were come to establish and consolidate
their happiness.

It seems to have been Nelson's opinion that the Austrian cabinet
regarded the conquest of Naples with complacency, and that its measures
were directed so as designedly not to prevent the French from
overrunning it. That cabinet was assuredly capable of any folly, and of
any baseness; and it is not improbable that at this time, calculating
upon the success of the new coalition, it indulged a dream of adding
extensively to its former Italian possessions; and, therefore, left the
few remaining powers of Italy to be overthrown, as a means which would
facilitate its own ambitious views. The King of Sardinia, finding it
impossible longer to endure the exactions of France and the insults of
the French commissary, went to Leghorn, embarked on board a Danish
frigate, and sailed, under British protection, to Sardinia--that part of
his dominions which the maritime supremacy of England rendered a secure
asylum. On his arrival he published a protest against the conduct of
France, declaring, upon the faith and word of a king, that he had never
infringed, even in the slightest degree, the treaties which he had made
with the French republic. Tuscany was soon occupied by French troops--a
fate which bolder policy might, perhaps, have failed to avert, but which
its weak and timid neutrality rendered inevitable. Nelson began to fear
even for Sicily. "Oh, my dear sir," said he, writing to Commodore
Duckworth, "one thousand English troops would save Messina; and I fear
General Stuart cannot give me men to save this most important island!"
But his representations were not lost upon Sir Charles Stuart. This
officer hastened immediately from Minorca with 1000 men, assisted in the
measures of defence which were taken, and did not return before he had
satisfied himself that, if the Neapolitans were excluded from the
management of affairs, and the spirit of the peasantry properly
directed, Sicily was safe. Before his coming, Nelson had offered the
king, if no resources should arrive, to defend Messina with the ship's
company of an English man-of-war.

Russia had now entered into the war. Corfu, surrendered to a Russian
and Turkish fleet, acting now, for the first time, in strange
confederacy yet against a power which was certainly the common and worst
enemy of both. Troubridge having given up the blockade of Alexandria to
Sir Sidney Smith, joined Nelson, bringing with him a considerable
addition of strength; and in himself what Nelson valued more, a man,
upon whose sagacity, indefatigable zeal, and inexhaustible resources, he
could place full reliance. Troubridge was intrusted to commence the
operations against the French in the bay of Naples. Meantime Cardinal
Ruffo, a man of questionable character, but of a temper fitted for such
times, having landed in Calabria, raised what he called a Christian
army, composed of the best and the vilest materials--loyal peasants,
enthusiastic priests and friars, galley slaves, the emptying of the
jails, and banditti. The islands in the bay of Naples were joyfully
delivered up by the inhabitants, who were in a state of famine already,
from the effect of this baleful revolution. Troubridge distributed among
them all his flour, and Nelson pressed the Sicilian court incessantly
for supplies; telling them that L10,000 given away in provisions would,
at this time, purchase a kingdom. Money, he was told, they had not to
give; and the wisdom and integrity which might have supplied its wants
were not to be found. "There is nothing," said he, "which I propose, that
is not, so far as orders go, implicitly complied with; but the execution
is dreadful, and almost makes me mad. My desire to serve their majesties
faithfully, as is my duty, has been such that I am almost blind and worn
out; and cannot in my present state hold out much longer."

Before any government can be overthrown by the consent of the people,
the government must be intolerably oppressive, or the people thoroughly
corrupted. Bad as the misrule at Naples had been, its consequences had
been felt far less there than in Sicily; and the peasantry had that
attachment to the soil which gives birth to so many of the noblest as
well as of the happiest feelings. In all the islands the people were
perfectly frantic with joy when they saw the Neapolitan colours hoisted.
At Procida, Troubridge could not procure even a rag of the tri-coloured
flag to lay at the king's feet: it was rent into ten thousand pieces by
the inhabitants, and entirely destroyed. "The horrid treatment of the
French," he said, "had made them mad." It exasperated the ferocity of a
character which neither the laws nor the religion under which they lived
tended to mitigate. Their hatred was especially directed against the
Neapolitan revolutionists; and the fishermen, in concert among
themselves, chose each his own victim, whom he would stiletto when the
day of vengeance should arrive. The head of one was sent off one morning
to Troubridge, with his basket of grapes for breakfast; and a note from
the Italian who had, what he called, the glory of presenting it, saying,
he had killed the man as he was running away, and begging his
excellency to accept the head, and consider it as a proof of the
writer's attachment to the crown. With the first successes of the court
the work of punishment began. The judge at Ischia said it was necessary
to have a bishop to degrade the traitorous priests before he could
execute them; upon which Troubridge advised him to hang them first, and
send them to him afterwards, if he did not think that degradation
sufficient. This was said with the straightforward feeling of a sailor,
who cared as little for canon-law as he knew about it; but when he
discovered that the judge's orders were to go through the business in a
summary manner, under his sanction, he told him at once that could not
be, for the prisoners were not British subjects; and he declined having
anything to do with it. There were manifestly persons about the court,
who, while they thirsted for the pleasure of vengeance, were devising
how to throw the odium of it upon the English. They wanted to employ an
English man-of-war to carry the priests to Palermo for degradation, and
then bring them back for execution; and they applied to Troubridge for
a hangman, which he indignantly refused. He, meantime, was almost heart-
broken by the situation in which he found himself. He had promised
relief to the islanders, relying upon the queen's promise to him. He had
distributed the whole of his private stock,--there was plenty of grain
at Palermo, and in its neighbourhood, and yet none was sent him: the
enemy, he complained, had more interest there than the king; and the
distress for bread which he witnessed was such, he said, that it would
move even a Frenchman to pity.

Nelson's heart, too, was at this time a-shore. "To tell you," he
says, writing to Lady Hamilton, "how dreary and uncomfortable the
VANGUARD appears, is only telling you what it is to go from the
pleasantest society to a solitary cell, or from the dearest friends to
no friends. I am now perfectly the GREAT MAN--not a creature near me.
>From my heart I wish myself the little man again. You and good Sir
William have spoiled me for any place but with you."

His mind was not in a happier state respecting public affairs. "As to
politics," said he, "at this time they are my abomination: the ministers
of kings and princes are as great scoundrels as ever lived. The brother
of the emperor is just going to marry the great Something of Russia, and
it is more than expected that a kingdom is to be found for him in Italy,
and that the king of Naples will be sacrificed." Had there been a wise
and manly spirit in the Italian states, or had the conduct of Austria
been directed by anything like a principle of honour, a more favourable
opportunity could not have been desired for restoring order and
prosperity in Europe, than the misconduct of the French Directory at
this time afforded. But Nelson perceived selfishness and knavery
wherever he looked; and even the pleasure of seeing a cause prosper, in
which he was so zealously engaged, was poisoned by his sense of the
rascality of those with whom he was compelled to act. At this juncture
intelligence arrived that the French fleet had escaped from Brest, under
cover of a fog, passed Cadiz unseen by Lord Keith's squadron, in hazy
weather, and entered the Mediterranean. It was said to consist of
twenty-four sail of the line, six frigates, and three sloops. The object
of the French was to liberate the Spanish fleet, form a junction with
them, act against Minorca and Sicily, and overpower our naval force in
the Mediterranean, by falling in with detached squadrons, and thus
destroying it in detail. When they arrived off Carthagena, they
requested the Spanish ships to make sail and join; but the Spaniards
replied they had not men to man them. To this it was answered that the
French had men enough on board for that purpose. But the Spaniards seem
to have been apprehensive of delivering up their ships thus entirely
into the power of such allies, and refused to come out. The fleet from
Cadiz, however, consisting of from seventeen to twenty sail of the line,
got out, under Masaredo, a man who then bore an honourable name, which
he has since rendered infamous by betraying his country. They met with a
violent storm off the coast of Oran, which dismasted many of their
ships, and so effectually disabled them as to prevent the junction, and
frustrate a well-planned expedition.

Before this occurred, and while the junction was as probable as it
would have been formidable, Nelson was in a state of the greatest
anxiety. "What a state am I in!" said he to Earl St. Vincent. "If I go,
I risk, and more than risk, Sicily; for we know, from experience, that
more depends upon opinion than upon acts themselves; and, as I stay, my
heart is breaking." His first business was to summon Troubridge to join
him, with all the ships of the line under his command, and a frigate,
if possible. Then hearing that the French had entered the Mediterranean,
and expecting them at Palermo, where he had only his own ship--with that
single ship he prepared to make all the resistance possible. Troubridge
having joined him, he left Captain E. J. Foote, of the SEAHORSE, to
command the smaller vessels in the bay of Naples, and sailed with six
ships--one a Portuguese, and a Portuguese corvette--telling Earl St.
Vincent that the squadron should never fall into the hands of the enemy.
"And before we are destroyed," said he, "I have little doubt but they
will have their wings so completely clipped that they may be easily
overtaken." It was just at this time that he received from Captain
Hallowell the present of the coffin. Such a present was regarded by the
men with natural astonishment. One of his old shipmates in the AGAMEMNON
said, "We shall have hot work of it indeed! You see the admiral intends
to fight till he is killed; and there he is to be buried." Nelson placed
it upright against the bulkhead of his cabin, behind his chair, where he
sat at dinner. The gift suited him at this time. It is said that he was
disappointed in the step-son whom he had loved so dearly from his
childhood, and who had saved his life at Teneriffe; and it is certain
that he had now formed an infatuated attachment for Lady Hamilton, which
totally weaned his affections from his wife. Farther than this, there is
no reason to believe that this most unfortunate attachment was criminal;
but this was criminality enough, and it brought with it its punishment.
Nelson was dissatisfied with himself, and therefore weary of the world.
This feeling he now frequently expressed. "There is no true happiness in
this life," said he, "and in my present state I could quit it with a
smile." And in a letter to his old friend Davison he said, "Believe me,
my only wish is to sink with honour into the grave; and when that shall
please God, I shall meet death with a smile. Not that I am insensible to
the honours and riches my king and country have heaped upon me--so much
more than any officer could deserve; yet am I ready to quit this world
of trouble, and envy none but those of the estate six feet by two."

Well had it been for Nelson if he had made no other sacrifices to
this unhappy attachment than his peace of mind; but it led to the only
blot upon his public character. While he sailed from Palermo, with the
intention of collecting his whole force, and keeping off Maretimo,
either to receive reinforcements there if the French were bound upwards,
or to hasten to Minorca if that should be their destination, Captain
Foote, in the Sea-horse, with the Neapolitan frigates, and some small
vessels, under his command, was left to act with a land force consisting
of a few regular troops, of four different nations, and with the armed
rabble which Cardinal Ruffo called the Christian army. His directions
were to co-operate to the utmost of his power with the royalists, at
whose head Ruffo had been placed, and he had no other instructions
whatever. Ruffo advancing without any plan, but relying upon the
enemy's want of numbers, which prevented them from attempting to act
upon the offensive, and ready to take advantage of any accident which
might occur, approached Naples. Fort St. Elmo, which commands the town,
was wholly garrisoned by the French troops; the castles of Uovo and
Nuovo, which commanded the anchorage, were chiefly defended by
Neapolitan revolutionists, the powerful men among them having taken
shelter there. If these castles were taken, the reduction of Fort St.
Elmo would be greatly expedited. They were strong places, and there was
reason to apprehend that the French fleet might arrive to relieve them.
Ruffo proposed to the garrison to capitulate, on condition that their
persons and property should be guaranteed, and that they should, at
their own option, either be sent to Toulon or remain at Naples, without
being molested either in their persons or families. This capitulation
was accepted: it was signed by the cardinal, and the Russian and Turkish
commanders; and lastly, by Captain Foote, as commander of the British
force. About six-and-thirty hours afterwards Nelson arrived in the bay
with a force which had joined him during his cruise, consisting of
seventeen sail of the line, with 1700 troops on board, and the Prince
Royal of Naples in the admiral's ship. A flag of truce was flying on the
castles, and on board the SEAHORSE. Nelson made a signal to annul the
treaty; declaring that he would grant rebels no other terms than those
of unconditional submission. The cardinal objected to this: nor could
all the arguments of Nelson, Sir W. Hamilton, and Lady Hamilton, who
took an active part in the conference, convince him that a treaty of
such a nature, solemnly concluded, could honourably be set aside. He
retired at last, silenced by Nelson's authority, but not convinced.
Captain Foote was sent out of the bay; and the garrisons, taken out of
the castles under pretence of carrying the treaty into effect, were
delivered over as rebels to the vengeance of the Sicilian court. A
deplorable transaction! a stain upon the memory of Nelson and the honour
of England! To palliate it would be in vain; to justify it would be
wicked: there is no alternative, for one who will not make himself a
participator in guilt, but to record the disgraceful story with sorrow
and with shame.

Prince Francesco Caraccioli, a younger branch of one of the noblest
Neapolitan families, escaped from one of these castles before it
capitulated. He was at the head of the marine, and was nearly seventy
years of age, bearing a high character, both for professional and
personal merit. He had accompanied the court to Sicily; but when the
revolutionary government, or Parthenopean Republic, as it was called,
issued an edict, ordering all absent Neapolitans to return on pain of
confiscation of their property, he solicited and obtained permission of
the king to return, his estates being very great. It is said that the
king, when he granted him this permission, warned him not to take any
part in politics; expressing at the same time his own persuasion that he
should recover his kingdom. But neither the king, nor he himself, ought
to have imagined that, in such times, a man of such reputation would be
permitted to remain inactive; and it soon appeared that Caraccioli was
again in command of the navy, and serving under the republic against his
late sovereign. The sailors reported that he was forced to act thus; and
this was believed, till it was seen that he directed ably the offensive
operations of the revolutionists, and did not avail himself of
opportunities for escaping when they offered. When the recovery of
Naples was evidently near, he applied to Cardinal Ruffo, and to the Duke
of Calvirrano, for protection; expressing his hope that the few days
during which he had been forced to obey the French would not outweigh
forty years of faithful services; but perhaps not receiving such
assurances as he wished, and knowing too well the temper of the Sicilian
court, he endeavoured to secrete himself, and a price was set upon his
head. More unfortunately for others than for himself, he was brought in
alive, having been discovered in the disguise of a peasant, and carried
one morning on board Lord Nelson's ship, with his hands tied behind him.

Caraccioli was well known to the British officers, and had been ever
highly esteemed by all who knew him. Captain Hardy ordered him immedi-
ately to be unbound, and to be treated with all those attentions which
he felt due to a man who, when last on board the FOUDROYANT, had been
received as an admiral and a prince. Sir William and Lady Hamilton were
in the ship; but Nelson, it is affirmed, saw no one except his own
officers during the tragedy which ensued. His own determination was
made; and he issued an order to the Neapolitan commodore, Count Thurn,
to assemble a court-martial of Neapolitan officers, on board the British
flag-ship, proceed immediately to try the prisoner, and report to him,
if the charges were proved, what punishment he ought to suffer. These
proceedings were as rapid as possible; Caraccioli was brought on board
at nine in the forenoon, and the trial began at ten. It lasted two
hours: he averred in his defence that he had acted under compulsion,
having been compelled to serve as a common soldier, till he consented to
take command of the fleet. This, the apologists of Lord Nelson say, he
failed in proving. They forget that the possibility of proving it was
not allowed him, for he was brought to trial within an hour after he was
legally in arrest; and how, in that time, was he to collect his
witnesses? He was found guilty, and sentenced to death; and Nelson gave
orders that the sentence should be carried into effect that evening, at
five o'clock, on board the Sicilian frigate, LA MINERVA, by hanging him
at the fore-yard-arm till sunset; when the body was to be cut down and
thrown into the sea. Caraccioli requested Lieut. Parkinson, under whose
custody he was placed, to intercede with Lord Nelson for a second
trial--for this, among other reasons, that Count Thurn, who presided at
the court-martial, was notoriously his personal enemy. Nelson made
answer, that the prisoner had been fairly tried by the officers of his
own country, and he could not interfere; forgetting that, if he felt
himself justified in ordering the trial and the execution, no human
being could ever have questioned the propriety of his interfering on the
side of mercy. Caraccioli then entreated that he might be shot. "I am
an old man, sir," said he: "I leave no family to lament me, and
therefore cannot be supposed to be very anxious about prolonging my
life; but the disgrace of being hanged is dreadful to me." When this was
repeated to Nelson, he only told the lieutenant, with much agitation, to
go and attend his duty. As a last hope, Caraccioli asked the lieutenant
if he thought an application to Lady Hamilton would be beneficial?
Parkinson went to seek her; she was not to be seen on this occasion;
but she was present at the execution. She had the most devoted
attachment to the Neapolitan court; and the hatred which she felt
against those whom she regarded as its enemies, made her at this time
forget what was due to the character of her sex as well as of her
country. Here, also, a faithful historian is called upon to pronounce a
severe and unqualified condemnation of Nelson's conduct. Had he the
authority of his Sicilian majesty for proceeding as he did? If so, why
was not that authority produced? If not, why were the proceedings
hurried on without it? Why was the trial precipitated, so that it was
impossible for the prisoner, if he had been innocent, to provide the
witnesses, who might have proved him so? Why was a second trial refused,
when the known animosity of the president of the court against the
prisoner was considered? Why was the execution hastened, so as to
preclude any appeal for mercy, and render the prerogative of mercy
useless? Doubtless, the British Admiral seemed to himself to be acting
under a rigid sense of justice; but to all other persons it was obvious
that he was influenced by an infatuated attachment--a baneful passion,
which destroyed his domestic happiness, and now, in a second instance,
stained ineffaceably his public character.

The body was carried out to a considerable distance, and sunk in the
bay, with three double-headed shot, weighing 250 lbs., tied to its legs.
Between two or three weeks afterward, when the king was on board the
FOUDROYANT, a Neapolitan fisherman came to the ship, and solemnly
declared that Caraccioli had risen from the bottom of the sea, and was
coming as fast as he could to Naples, swimming half out of the water.
Such an account was listened to like a tale of idle credulity. The day
being fair, Nelson, to please the king, stood out to sea; but the ship
had not proceeded far before a body was distinctly seen, upright in the
water, and approaching them. It was soon recognised to be indeed the
corpse of Caraccioli, which had risen and floated, while the great
weights attached to the legs kept the body in a position like that of a
living man. A fact so extraordinary astonished the king, and perhaps
excited some feeling of superstitious fear, akin to regret. He gave
permission for the body to be taken on shore and receive Christian
burial. It produced no better effect. Naples exhibited more dreadful
scenes than it had witnessed in the days of Massaniello. After the mob
had had their fill of blood and plunder, the reins were given to
justice--if that can be called justice which annuls its own
stipulations, looks to the naked facts alone, disregarding all motives
and all circumstances; and without considering character, or science, or
sex, or youth, sacrifices its victims, not for the public weal, but for
the gratification of greedy vengeance.

The castles of St. Elmo, Gaieta, and Capua remained to be subdued.
On the land side there was no danger that the French in these garrisons
should be relieved, for Suvarof was now beginning to drive the enemy
before him; but Nelson thought his presence necessary in the bay of
Naples: and when Lord Keith, having received intelligence that the
French and Spanish fleets had formed a junction, and sailed for
Carthagena, ordered him to repair to Minorca with the whole or the
greater part of his force, he sent Admiral Duckworth with a small part
only. This was a dilemma which he had foreseen. "Should such an order
come at this moment," he said, in a letter previously written to the
Admiralty, "it would be a case for some consideration, whether Minorca
is to be risked, or the two kingdoms of Naples and Sicily; I rather
think my decision would be to risk the former." And after he had acted
upon this opinion, he wrote in these terms to the Duke of Clarence, with
whose high notions of obedience he was well acquainted: "I am well
aware of the consequences of disobeying my orders; but as I have often
before risked my life for the good cause, so I with cheerfulness did my
commission; for although a military tribunal may think me criminal, the
world will approve of my conduct; and I regard not my own safety when
the honour of my king is at stake."

Nelson was right in his judgment: no attempt was made on Minorca: and
the expulsion of the French from Naples may rather be said to have been
effected than accelerated by the English and Portuguese of the allied
fleet, acting upon shore, under Troubridge. The French commandant at St.
Elmo, relying upon the strength of the place, and the nature of the
force which attacked it, had insulted Captain Foote in the grossest
terms; but CITOYEN Mejan was soon taught better manners, when Trou-
bridge, in spite of every obstacle, opened five batteries upon the fort.
He was informed that none of his letters, with the insolent printed
words at the top, LIBERTE EQALITE, GUERRE AUX TYRANS, &c. would be
received; but that if he wrote like a soldier and a gentleman he would
be answered in the same style. The Frenchman then began to flatter his
antagonist upon the BIENFAISANCE and HUMANITE which, he said, were the
least of the many virtues which distinguished Monsieur Troubridge.
Monsieur Troubridge's BIENFAISANCE was at this time thinking of mining
the fort. "If we can accomplish that," said he,"I am a strong advocate
to send them, hostages and all, to Old Nick, and surprise him with a
group of nobility and republicans. Meantime," he added,"it was some
satisfaction to perceive that the shells fell well, and broke some of
their shins." Finally, to complete his character, Mejan offered to
surrender for 150,000 ducats. Great Britain, perhaps, has made but too
little use of this kind of artillery, which France has found so
effectual towards subjugating the continent: but Troubridge had the prey
within his reach; and in the course of a few days, his last battery,
"after much trouble and palaver," as he said, "brought the vagabonds to
their senses."

Troubridge had more difficulties to overcome this siege, from the
character of the Neapolitans who pretended to assist him, and whom he
made useful, than even from the strength of the place and the skill of
the French. "Such damned cowards and villains," he declared, "he had
never seen before." The men at the advanced posts carried on, what he
called, "a diabolical good understanding" with the enemy, and the
workmen would sometimes take fright and run away. "I make the best I
can," said he, "of the degenerate race I have to deal with; the whole
means of guns, ammunition, pioneers, &c., with all materials, rest with
them. With fair promises to the men, and threats of instant death if I
find any one erring, a little spur has been given." Nelson said of him
with truth, upon this occasion, that he was a first-rate general. "I
find, sir," said he afterwards in a letter to the Duke of Clarence,
"that General Koehler does not approve of such irregular proceedings as
naval officers attacking and defending fortifications. We have but one
idea--to get close alongside. None but a sailor would have placed a
battery only 180 yards from the Castle of St. Elmo; a soldier must have
gone according to art, and the /\/\/\/\ way. My brave Troubridge went
straight on, for we had no time to spare."

Troubridge then proceeded to Capua, and took the command of the
motley besieging force. One thousand of the best men in the fleet were
sent to assist in the siege. Just at this time Nelson received a
peremptory order from Lord Keith to sail with the whole of his force for
the protection of Minorca; or, at least, to retain no more than was
absolutely necessary at Sicily. "You will easily conceive my feelings,"
said he in communicating this to Earl St. Vincent; "but my mind, as your
lordship knows, was perfectly prepared for this order; and it is now,
more than ever, made up. At this moment I will not part with a single
ship; as I cannot do that without drawing a hundred and twenty men from
each ship, now at the siege of Capua. I am fully aware of the act I have
committed; but I am prepared for any fate which may await my
disobedience. Capua and Gaieta will soon fall; and the moment the
scoundrels of French are out of this kingdom I shall send eight or nine
ships of the line to Minorca. I have done what I thought right--others
may think differently; but it will be my consolation that I have gained
a kingdom, seated a faithful ally of his Majesty firmly on his throne,
and restored happiness to millions."

At Capua, Troubridge had the same difficulties as at St. Elmo; and
being farther from Naples, and from the fleet, was less able to overcome
them. The powder was so bad that he suspected treachery; and when he
asked Nelson to spare him forty casks from the ships, he told him it
would be necessary that some Englishmen should accompany it, or they
would steal one-half, and change the other. "All the men you see," said
he, "gentle and simple, are such notorious villains, that it is misery
to be with them." Capua, however, soon fell; Gaieta immediately
afterwards surrendered to Captain Louis of the MINOTAUR. Here the
commanding officer acted more unlike a Frenchman, Captain Louis said,
than any one he had ever met; meaning that he acted like a man of
honour. He required, however, that the garrison should carry away their
horses, and other pillaged property: to which Nelson replied, "That no
property which they did not bring with them into the country could be
theirs: and that the greatest care should be taken to prevent them from
carrying it away." "I am sorry," said he to Captain Louis, "that you
have entered into any altercation. There is no way of dealing with a
Frenchman but to knock him down; to be civil to them is only to be
laughed at, when they are enemies."

The whole kingdom of Naples was thus delivered by Nelson from the
French. The Admiralty, however, thought it expedient to censure him for
disobeying Lord Keith's orders, and thus hazarding Minorca, without, as
it appeared to them, any sufficient reason; and also for having landed
seamen for the siege of Capua, to form part of an army employed in
operations at a distance from the coast; where, in case of defeat, they
might have been prevented from returning to their ships; and they
enjoined him, "not to employ the seamen in like manner in future." This
reprimand was issued before the event was known; though, indeed, the
event would not affect the principle upon which it proceeded. When
Nelson communicated the tidings of his complete success, he said, in his
public letter, "that it would not be the less acceptable for having been
principally brought about by British sailors." His judgment in thus
employing them had been justified by the result; and his joy was
evidently heightened by the gratification of a professional and becoming
pride. To the first lord he said, at the same time, "I certainly, from
having only a left hand, cannot enter into details which may explain the
motives that actuated my conduct. My principle is, to assist in driving
the French to the devil, and in restoring peace and happiness to
mankind. I feel that I am fitter to do the action than to describe it."
He then added that he would take care of Minorca.

In expelling the French from Naples, Nelson had, with characteristic
zeal and ability, discharged his duty; but he deceived himself when he
imagined that he had seated Ferdinand firmly on his throne, and that he
had restored happiness to millions. These objects might have been
accomplished if it had been possible to inspire virtue and wisdom into a
vicious and infatuated court; and if Nelson's eyes had not been, as it
were, spell-bound by that unhappy attachment, which had now completely
mastered him, he would have seen things as they were; and might,
perhaps, have awakened the Sicilian court to a sense of their interest,
if not of their duty. That court employed itself in a miserable round of
folly and festivity, while the prisons of Naples were filled with
groans, and the scaffolds streamed with blood. St. Januarius was
solemnly removed from his rank as patron saint of the kingdom, having
been convicted of Jacobinism; and St. Antonio as solemnly installed in
his place. The king, instead of re-establishing order at Naples by his
presence, speedily returned to Palermo, to indulge in his favourite
amusements. Nelson, and the ambassador's family, accompanied the court;
and Troubridge remained, groaning over the villany and frivolity of
those with whom he was compelled to deal. A party of officers applied to
him for a passage to Palermo, to see the procession of St. Rosalia: he
recommended them to exercise their troops, and not behave like children.
It was grief enough for him that the court should be busied in these
follies, and Nelson involved in them. "I dread, my lord," said he, "all
the feasting, &c. at Palermo. I am sure your health will be hurt. If
so, all their saints will be damned by the navy. The king would be
better employed digesting a good government; everything gives way to
their pleasures. The money spent at Palermo gives discontent here; fifty
thousand people are unemployed, trade discouraged, manufactures at a
stand. It is the interest of many here to keep the king away: they all
dread reform. Their villanies are so deeply rooted, that if some method
is not taken to dig them out, this government cannot hold together. Out
of twenty millions of ducats, collected as the revenue, only thirteen
millions reach the treasury; and the king pays four ducats where he
should pay one. He is surrounded by thieves; and none of them have
honour or honesty enough to tell him the real and true state of things."
In another letter he expressed his sense of the miserable state of
Naples. "There are upwards of forty thousand families," said he,"who
have relations confined. If some act of oblivion is not passed, there
will be no end of persecution; for the people of this country have no
idea of anything but revenge, and to gain a point would swear ten
thousand false oaths. Constant efforts are made to get a man taken up,
in order to rob him. The confiscated property does not reach the king's
treasury. All thieves! It is selling for nothing. His own people, whom
he employs, are buying it up, and the vagabonds pocket the whole. I
should not be surprised to hear that they brought a bill of expenses
against him for the sale."

The Sicilian court, however, were at this time duly sensible of the
services which had been rendered them by the British fleet, and their
gratitude to Nelson was shown with proper and princely munificence. They
gave him the dukedom and domain of Bronte, worth about L3000 a year. It
was some days before he could be persuaded to accept it; the argument
which finally prevailed is said to have been suggested by the queen, and
urged, at her request, by Lady Hamilton upon her knees. "He considered
his own honour too much," she said, "if he persisted in refusing what
the king and queen felt to be absolutely necessary for the preservation
of theirs." The king himself, also, is said to have addressed him in
words, which show that the sense of rank will sometimes confer a virtue
upon those who seem to be most unworthy of the lot to which they have
been born: "Lord Nelson, do you wish that your name alone should pass
with honour to posterity; and that I, Ferdinand Bourbon, should appear
ungrateful?" He gave him also, when the dukedom was accepted, a diamond-
hilted sword, which his father, Char. III. of Spain, had given him on
his accession to the throne of the two Sicilies. Nelson said, "the
reward was magnificent, and worthy of a king, and he was determined that
the inhabitants on the domain should be the happiest in all his Sicilian
majesty's dominions. Yet," said he, speaking of these and the other
remunerations which were made him for his services, "these presents,
rich as they are, do not elevate me. My pride is, that at
Constantinople, from the grand seignior to the lowest Turk, the name of
Nelson is familiar in their mouths; and in this country I am everything
which a grateful monarch and people can call me." Nelson, however, had a
pardonable pride in the outward and visible signs of honour which he had
so fairly won. He was fond of his Sicilian title; the signification,
perhaps, pleased him; Duke of Thunder was what in Dahomy would be called
a STRONG NAME; it was to a sailor's taste; and certainly, to no man
could it ever be more applicable. But a simple offering, which he
received not long afterwards, from the island of Zante, affected him
with a deeper and finer feeling. The Greeks of that little community
sent him a golden-headed sword and a truncheon, set round with all the
diamonds that the island could furnish, in a single row. They thanked
him "for having, by his victory, preserved that part of Greece from the
horrors of anarchy; and prayed that his exploits might accelerate the
day, in which, amidst the glory and peace of thrones, the miseries of
the human race would cease." This unexpected tribute touched Nelson to
the heart. "No officer," he said, "had ever received from any country a
higher acknowledgment of his services."

The French still occupied the Roman states; from which, according to
their own admission, they had extorted in jewels, plate, specie, and
requisitions of every kind, to the enormous amount of eight millions
sterling; yet they affected to appear as deliverers among the people
whom they were thus cruelly plundering; and they distributed portraits
of Buonaparte, with the blasphemous inscription, "This is the true
likeness of the holy saviour of the world!" The people, detesting the
impiety, and groaning beneath the exactions of these perfidious robbers,
were ready to join any regular force that should come to their
assistance; but they dreaded Cardinal Ruffo's rabble, and declared they
would resist him as a banditti, who came only for the purpose of
pillage. Nelson perceived that no object was now so essential for the
tranquillity of Naples as the recovery of Rome; which in the present
state of things, when Suvarof was driving the French before him, would
complete the deliverance of Italy. He applied, therefore, to Sir James
St. Clair Erskine, who in the absence of General Fox commanded at
Minorca, to assist in this great object with 1200 men. "The field of
glory," said he, "is a large one, and was never more open to any one
than at this moment to you. Rome would throw open her gates and receive
you as her deliverer; and the pope would owe his restoration to a
heretic." But Sir James Erskine looked only at the difficulties of the
undertaking. "Twelve hundred men, he thought, would be too small a force
to be committed in such an enterprise; for Civita Vecchia was a regular
fortress; the local situation and climate also were such, that even if
this force were adequate, it would be proper to delay the.expedition
till October. General Fox, too, was soon expected; and during his
absence, and under existing circumstances, he did not feel justified in
sending away such a detachment."

What this general thought it imprudent to attempt, Nelson and
Troubridge effected without his assistance, by a small detachment from
the fleet. Troubridge first sent Captain Hallowell to Civita Vecchia to
offer the garrison there and at Castle St. Angelo the same terms which
had been granted to Gaieta. Hallowell perceived, by the overstrained
civility of the officers who came off to him, and the compliments which
they paid to the English nation, that they were sensible of their own
weakness and their inability to offer any effectual resistance; but the
French know, that while they are in a condition to serve their
government, they can rely upon it for every possible exertion in their
support; and this reliance gives them hope and confidence to the last.
Upon Hallowell's report, Troubridge, who had now been made Sir Thomas
for his services, sent Captain Louis with a squadron to enforce the
terms which he had offered; and, as soon as he could leave Naples, he
himself followed. The French, who had no longer any hope from the fate
of arms, relied upon their skill in negotiation, and proposed terms to
Troubridge with that effrontery which characterises their public
proceedings; but which is as often successful as it is impudent. They
had a man of the right stamp to deal with. Their ambassador at Rome
began by saying, that the Roman territory was the property of the French
by right of conquest. The British commodore settled that point, by
replying, "It is mine by reconquest." A capitulation was soon concluded
for all the Roman states, and Captain Louis rowed up the Tiber in his
barge, hoisted English colours on the capitol, and acted for the time as
governor of Rome. The 4prophecy of the Irish poet was thus accomplished,
and the friar reaped the fruits; for Nelson, who was struck with the
oddity of the circumstance, and not a little pleased with it, obtained
preferment for him from the King of Sicily, and recommended him to the

Having thus completed his work upon the continent of Italy, Nelson's
whole attention was directed towards Malta; where Captain Ball, with
most inadequate means, was besieging the French garrison. Never was any
officer engaged in more anxious and painful service: the smallest
reinforcement from France would, at any moment, have turned the scale
against him; and had it not been for his consummate ability, and the
love and veneration with which the Maltese regarded him, Malta must have
remained in the hands of the enemy. Men, money, food--all things were
wanting. The garrison consisted of 5000 troops; the besieging force of
500 English and Portuguese marines, and about 1500 armed peasants. Long
and repeatedly did Nelson solicit troops to effect the reduction of this
important place. "It has been no fault of the navy," said he, "that
Malta has not been attacked by land; but we have neither the means
ourselves nor influence with those who have." The same causes of
demurral existed which prevented British troops from assisting in the
expulsion of the French from Rome. Sir James Erskine was expecting
General Fox; he could not act without orders; and not having, like
Nelson, that lively spring of hope within him, which partakes enough of
the nature of faith to work miracles in war, he thought it "evident that
unless a respectable land force, in numbers sufficient to undertake the
siege of such a garrison, in one of the strongest places of Europe, and
supplied with proportionate artillery and stores, were sent against it,
no reasonable hope could be entertained of its surrender." Nelson
groaned over the spirit of over-reasoning caution and unreasoning
obedience. "My heart," said he, "is almost broken. If the enemy gets
supplies in, we may bid adieu to Malta; all the force we can collect
would then be of little use against the strongest place in Europe. To
say that an officer is never, for any object, to alter his orders, is
what I cannot comprehend. The circumstances of this war so often vary,
that an officer has almost every moment to consider, what would my
superiors direct, did they know what was passing under my nose?" "But,
sir," said he writing to the Duke of Clarence, "I find few think as I
do. To obey orders is all perfection. To serve my king, and to destroy
the French, I consider as the great order of all, from which little ones
spring; and if one of these militate against it (for who can tell
exactly at a distance?) I go back and obey the great order and object,
to down--down with the damned French villains!--my blood boils at the
name of Frenchmen!"

At length, General Fox arrived at Minorca--and at length permitted
Col. Graham to go to Malta, but with means miserably limited. In fact,
the expedition was at a stand for want of money; when Troubridge
arriving at Messina to co-operate in it, and finding this fresh delay,
immediately offered all that he could command of his own. "I procured
him, my lord," said he to Nelson,"1500 of my cobs--every farthing and
every atom of me shall be devoted to the cause." "What can this mean?"
said Nelson, when he learned that Col. Graham was ordered not to incur
any expenses for stores, or any articles except provisions!--"the cause
cannot stand still for want of a little money. If nobody will pay it, I
will sell Bronte and the Emperor of Russia's box." And he actually
pledged Bronte for L6600 if there should be any difficulty about paying
the bills. The long-delayed expedition was thus, at last, sent forth;
but Troubridge little imagined in what scenes of misery he was to bear
his part. He looked to Sicily for supplies: it was the interest, as
well as the duty of the Sicilian government to use every exertion for
furnishing them; and Nelson and the British ambassador were on the spot
to press upon them the necessity of exertion. But, though Nelson saw
with what a knavish crew the Sicilian court was surrounded, he was blind
to the vices of the court itself; and resigning himself wholly to Lady
Hamilton's influence, never even suspected the crooked policy which it
was remorselessly pursuing. The Maltese and the British in Malta
severely felt it. Troubridge, who had the truest affection for Nelson,
knew his infatuation, and feared that it might prove injurious to his
character, as well as fatal to an enterprise which had begun so well,
and been carried on so patiently.

"My lord," said he, writing to him from the siege, "we are dying off
fast for want. I learn that Sir William Hamilton says Prince Luzzi
refused corn some time ago, and Sir William does not think it worth
while making another application. If that be the case, I wish he
commanded this distressing scene instead of me. Puglia had an immense
harvest; near thirty sail left Messina before I did, to load corn. Will
they let us have any? If not, a short time will decide the business.
The German interest prevails. I wish I was at your Lordship's elbow for
an hour. ALL, ALL, will be thrown on you!- I will parry the blow as much
as in my power: I foresee much mischief brewing. God bless your
Lordship; I am miserable I cannot assist your operations more. Many
happy returns of the day to you--(it was the first of the new year)--
I never spent so miserable a one. I am not very tender-hearted; but
really the distress here would even move a Neapolitan." Soon afterwards
he wrote,"I have this day saved thirty thousand people from starving;
but with this day my ability ceases. As the government are bent on
starving us, I see no alternative but to leave these poor unhappy
people to perish, without our being witnesses of their distress. I curse
the day I ever served the Neapolitan government. We have characters, my
lord, to lose; these people have none. Do not suffer their infamous
conduct to fall on us. Our country is just, but severe. Such is the
fever of my brain this minute, that I assure you, on my honour, if the
Palermo traitors were here, I would shoot them first, and then myself.
Girgenti is full of corn; the money is ready to pay for it; we do not
ask it as a gift. Oh! could you see the horrid distress I daily
experience, something would be done. Some engine is at work against us
at Naples; and I believe I hit on the proper person. If you complain he
will be immediately promoted, agreeably to the Neapolitan custom. All I
write to you is known at the queen's. For my own part, I look upon the
Neapolitans as the worst of intriguing enemies: every hour shows me
their infamy and duplicity. I pray your lordship be cautious: your
honest, open manner of acting will be made a handle of. When I see you,
and tell of their infamous tricks, you will be as much surprised as I
am. The whole will fall on you."

Nelson was not, and could not be, insensible to the distress which
his friend so earnestly represented. He begged, almost on his knees, he
said, small supplies of money and corn, to keep the Maltese from
starving. And when the court granted a small supply, protesting their
poverty, he believed their protestations, and was satisfied with their
professions, instead of insisting that the restrictions upon the
exportation of corn should be withdrawn. The anxiety, however, which he
endured, affected him so deeply that he said it had broken his spirit
for ever. Happily, all that Troubridge with so much reason foreboded,
did not come to pass. For Captain Ball, with more decision than Nelson
himself would have shown at that time and upon that occasion, ventured
upon a resolute measure, for which his name would deserve always to be
held in veneration by the Maltese, even if it had no other claims to the
love and reverence of a grateful people. Finding it hopeless longer to
look for succour or common humanity from the deceitful and infatuated
court of Sicily, which persisted in prohibiting by sanguinary edicts the
exportation of supplies, at his own risk, he sent his first lieutenant
to the port of Girgenti, with orders to seize and bring with him to
Malta the ships which were there lying laden with corn; of the numbers
of which he had received accurate information. These orders were
executed to the great delight and advantage of the shipowners and
proprietors: the necessity of raising the siege was removed, and Captain
Ball waited in calmness for the consequences to himself. The Neapolitan
government complained to the English ambassador, and the complaint was
communicated to Nelson, who, in return, requested Sir William Hamilton
would fully and plainly state, that the act ought not to be considered
as any intended disrespect to his Sicilian Majesty, but as of the most
absolute and imperious necessity; the alternative being either of
abandoning Malta to the French, or of anticipating the king's orders for
carrying the corn in those vessels to Malta. "I trust," he added, "that
the government of the country will never again force any of our royal
master's servants to so unpleasant an alternative." Thus ended the
complaint of the Neapolitan court. "The sole result was," says Mr.
Coleridge, "that the governor of Malta became an especial object of its
hatred, its fears, and its respect."

Nelson himself, at the beginning of February, sailed for that island.
On the way he fell in with a French squadron bound for its relief, and
consisting of the GENEREUX seventy-four, three frigates, and a corvette.
One of these frigates and the line-of-battle ship were taken; the others
escaped, but failed in their purpose of reaching La Valette. This
success was peculiarly gratifying to Nelson, for many reasons. During
some months he had acted as commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean,
while Lord Keith was in England. Lord Keith was now returned; and Nelson
had, upon his own plan, and at his own risk, left him to sail for Malta,
"for which," said he, "if I had not succeeded, I might have been broke:
and if I had not acted thus, the GENEREUX never would have been taken."
This ship was one of those which had escaped from Aboukir. Two frigates,
and the GUILLAUME TELL, eighty-six were all that now remained of the
fleet which Buonaparte had conducted to Egypt. The GUILLAUME TELL was at
this time closely watched in the harbour of La Valette; and shortly
afterwards, attempting to make her escape from thence, was taken after
an action, in which greater skill was never displayed by British ships,
nor greater gallantry by an enemy. She was taken by the FOUDROYANT,
LION, and PENELOPE frigate. Nelson, rejoicing at what he called this
glorious finish to the whole French Mediterranean fleet, rejoiced also
that he was not present to have taken a sprig of these brave men's
laurels. "They are," said he, "and I glory in them, my children; they
served in my school; and all of us caught our professional zeal and fire
from the great and good Earl St. Vincent. What a pleasure, what happi-
ness, to have the Nile fleet all taken, under my orders and regul-
ations!" The two frigates still remained in La Valette; before its sur-
render they stole out; one was taken in the attempt; the other was the
only ship of the whole fleet which escaped capture or destruction.

Letters were found on board the GUILLAUME TELL showing that the
French were now become hopeless of preserving the conquest which they
had so foully acquired. Troubridge and his brother officers were anxious
that Nelson should have the honour of signing the capitulation. They
told, him that they absolutely, as far as they dared, insisted on his
staying to do this; but their earnest and affectionate entreaties were
vain. Sir William Hamilton had just been superseded: Nelson had no
feeling of cordiality towards Lord Keith; and thinking that after Earl
St. Vincent no man had so good a claim to the command in the
Mediterranean as himself, he applied for permission to return to
England; telling the First Lord of the Admiralty that his spirit could
not submit patiently, and that he was a broken-hearted man. From the
time of his return from Egypt, amid all the honours which were showered
upon him, he had suffered many mortifications. Sir Sidney Smith had been
sent to Egypt with orders to take under his command the squadron which
Nelson had left there. Sir Sidney appears to have thought that this
command was to be independent of Nelson; and Nelson himself thinking so,
determined to return, saying to Earl St. Vincent, "I do feel, for I am a
man, that it is impossible for me to serve in these seas with a squadron
under a junior officer." Earl St. Vincent seems to have dissuaded him
from this resolution: some heart-burnings, however, still remained, and
some incautious expressions of Sir Sidney's were noticed by him in terms
of evident displeasure. But this did not continue long, as no man bore
more willing testimony than Nelson to the admirable defence of Acre.

He differed from Sir Sidney as to the policy which ought to be
pursued toward the French in Egypt; and strictly commanded him, in the
strongest language, not, on any pretence, to permit a single Frenchman
to leave the country, saying that he considered it nothing short of
madness to permit that band of thieves to return to Europe. "No," said
he, "to Egypt they went with their own consent, and there they shall
remain while Nelson commands this squadron; for never, never, will he
consent to the return of one ship or Frenchman. I wish them to perish in
Egypt, and give an awful lesson to the world of the justice of the
Almighty." If Nelson had not thoroughly understood the character of the
enemy against whom he was engaged, their conduct in Egypt would have
disclosed it. After the battle of the Nile he had landed all his
prisoners, upon a solemn engagement made between Troubridge on one side
and Captain Barre on the other, that none of them should serve until
regularly exchanged. They were no sooner on shore than part of them were
drafted into the different regiments, and the remainder formed into a
corps, called the Nautic Legion. This occasioned Captain Hallowell to
say that the French had forfeited all claim to respect from us. "The
army of Buonaparte," said he, "are entirely destitute of every principle
of honour: they have always acted like licentious thieves." Buonaparte's
escape was the more regretted by Nelson, because, if he had had
sufficient force, he thought it would certainly have been prevented. He
wished to keep ships upon the watch to intercept anything coming from
Egypt; but the Admiralty calculated upon the assistance of the Russian
fleet, which failed when it was most wanted. The ships which should have
been thus employed were then required for more pressing services;and the
bloody Corsican was thus enabled to reach Europe in safety; there to
become the guilty instrument of a wider-spreading destruction than any
with which the world had ever before been visited.

Nelson had other causes of chagrin. Earl St. Vincent, for whom he
felt such high respect, and whom Sir John Orde had challenged for having
nominated Nelson instead of himself to the command of the Nile squadron,
laid claim to prize money, as commander-in-chief, after he had quitted
the station. The point was contested, and decided against him. Nelson,
perhaps, felt this the more, because his own feelings, with regard to
money, were so different. An opinion had been given by Dr. Lawrence,
which would have excluded the junior flag-officers from prize-money.
When this was made known to him, his reply was in these words:
"Notwithstanding Dr. Lawrence's opinion, I do not believe I have any
right to exclude the junior flag-officers; and if I have, I desire that
no such claim may be made: no, not if it were sixty times the sum--and,
poor as I am, I were never to see prize-money."

A ship could not be spared to convey him to England; he therefore
travelled through Germany to Hamburgh, in company with his inseparable
friends, Sir William and Lady Hamilton. The Queen of Naples went with
them to Vienna. While they were at Leghorn, upon a report that the
French were approaching (for, through the folly of weak courts and the
treachery of venal cabinets, they had now recovered their ascendancy in
Italy), the people rose tumultuously, and would fain have persuaded
Nelson to lead them against the enemy. Public honours, and yet more
gratifying testimonials of public admiration, awaited Nelson wherever he
went. The Prince of Esterhazy entertained him in a style of Hungarian
magnificence--a hundred grenadiers, each six feet in height,
constantly waiting at table. At Madgeburgh, the master of the hotel
where he was entertained contrived to show him for money--admitting the
curious to mount a ladder, and peep at him through a small window. A
wine merchant at Hamburgh, who was above seventy years of age, requested
to speak with Lady Hamilton; and told her he had some Rhenish wine, of
the vintage of 1625, which had been in his own possession more than
half-a-century: he had preserved it for some extraordinary occasion; and
that which had now arrived was far beyond any that he could ever have
expected. His request was, that her ladyship would prevail upon Lord
Nelson to accept six dozen of this incomparable wine: part of it would
then have the honour to flow into the heart's blood of that immortal
hero; and this thought would make him happy during the remainder of his
life. Nelson, when this singular request was reported to him, went into
the room, and taking the worthy old gentleman kindly by the hand,
consented to receive six bottles, provided the donor would dine with him
next day. Twelve were sent; and Nelson, saying that he hoped yet to win
half-a-dozen more great victories, promised to lay by six bottles of his
Hamburgh friend's wine, for the purpose of drinking one after each. A
German pastor, between seventy and eighty years of age, travelled forty
miles, with the Bible of his parish church, to request that Nelson would
write his name on the first leaf of it. He called him the Saviour of the
Christian world. The old man's hope deceived him. There was no Nelson
upon shore, or Europe would have been saved; but in his foresight of
the horrors with which all Germany and all Christendom were threatened
by France, the pastor could not possibly have apprehended more than has
actually taken place.


1800 - 1801

Nelson separates himself from his Wife--Northern Confederacy--
He goes to the Baltic, under Sir Hyde Parker--Battle of
Copenhagen, and subsequent Negotiation--Nelson is made a Viscount.


NELSON was welcomed in England with every mark of popular honour. At
Yarmouth, where he landed, every ship in the harbour hoisted her
colours. The mayor and corporation waited upon him with the freedom of
the town, and accompanied him in procession to church, with all the
naval officers on shore, and the principal inhabitants. Bonfires and
illuminations concluded the day; and on the morrow, the volunteer
cavalry drew up, and saluted him as he departed, and followed the
carriage to the borders of the county. At Ipswich, the people came out
to meet him, drew him a mile into the town, and three miles out. When he
was in the AGAMEMNON, he wished to represent this place in parliament,
and some of his friends had consulted the leading men of the
corporation--the result was not successful; and Nelson, observing that
he would endeavour to find out a preferable path into parliament, said
there might come a time when the people of Ipswich would think it an
honour to have had him for their representative. In London, he was
feasted by the City, drawn by the populace from Ludgate-hill to
Guildhall, and received the thanks of the common-council for his great
victory, and a golden-hilted sword studded with diamonds. Nelson had
every earthly blessing except domestic happiness; he had forfeited that
for ever. Before he had been three months in England he separated from
Lady Nelson. Some of his last words to her were--"I call God to witness,
there is nothing in you, or your conduct, that I wish otherwise." This
was the consequence of his infatuated attachment to Lady Hamilton. It
had before caused a quarrel with his son-in-law, and occasioned
remonstrances from his truest friends, which produced no other effect
than that of making him displeased with them, and more dissatisfied with

The Addington administration was just at this time formed; and
Nelson, who had solicited employment, and been made vice-admiral of the
blue, was sent to the Baltic, as second in command, under Sir Hyde
Parker, by Earl St. Vincent, the new First Lord of the Admiralty. The
three Northern courts had formed a confederacy for making England resign
her naval rights. Of these courts, Russia was guided by the passions of
its emperor, Paul, a man not without fits of generosity, and some
natural goodness, but subject to the wildest humours of caprice, and
erased by the possession of greater power than can ever be safely, or
perhaps innocently, possessed by weak humanity. Denmark was French at
heart: ready to co-operate in all the views of France, to recognise all
her usurpations, and obey all her injunctions. Sweden, under a king
whose principles were right, and whose feelings were generous, but who
had a taint of hereditary insanity, acted in acquiescence with the
dictates of two powers whom it feared to offend. The Danish navy, at
this time, consisted of 23 ships of the line, with about 31 frigates and
smaller vessels, exclusive of guard-ships. The Swedes had 18 ships of
the line, 14 frigates and sloops, seventy-four galleys and smaller vessels,
besides gun-boats; and this force was in a far better state of equipment
than the Danish. The Russians had 82 sail of the line and 40 frigates.
Of these there were 47 sail of the line at Cronstadt, Revel,
Petersburgh, and Archangel; but the Russian fleet was ill-manned, ill-
officered, and ill-equipped. Such a combination under the influence of
France would soon have become formidable; and never did the British
Cabinet display more decision than in instantly preparing to crush it.
They erred, however, in permitting any petty consideration to prevent
them from appointing Nelson to the command. The public properly murmured
at seeing it intrusted to another; and he himself said to Earl St.
Vincent that, circumstanced as he was, this expedition would probably be
the last service that he should ever perform. The earl, in reply,
besought him, for God's sake, not to suffer himself to be carried away
by any sudden impulse.

The season happened to be unusually favourable; so mild a winter had
not been known in the Baltic for many years. When Nelson joined the
fleet at Yarmouth, he found the admiral "a little nervous about dark
nights and fields of ice." "But we must brace up," said he; "these are
not times for nervous systems. I hope we shall give our northern enemies
that hailstorm of bullets which gives our dear country the dominion of
the sea. We have it, and all the devils in the north cannot take it from
us, if our wooden walls have fair play." Before the fleet left Yarmouth,
it was sufficiently known that its destination was against Denmark. Some
Danes, who belonged to the AMAZON frigate, went to Captain Riou, and
telling him what they had heard, begged that he would get them exchanged
into a ship bound on some other destination. "They had no wish," they
said,"to quit the British service; but they entreated that they might
not be forced to fight against their own country." There was not in our
whole navy a man who had a higher and more chivalrous sense of duty than
Riou. Tears came into his eyes while the men were speaking. Without
making any reply, he instantly ordered his boat, and did not return to
the AMAZON till he could tell them that their wish was effected. The
fleet sailed on the 12th of March. Mr. Vansittart sailed in it; the
British Cabinet still hoping to attain its end by negotiation. It was
well for England that Sir Hyde Parker placed a fuller confidence in
Nelson than the government seems to have done at this most important
crisis. Her enemies might well have been astonished at learning that any
other man should for a moment have been thought of for the command. But
so little deference was paid, even at this time, to his intuitive and
all-commanding genius, that when the fleet had reached its first
rendezvous, at the entrance of the Cattegat, he had received no official
communication whatever of the intended operations. His own mind had been
made up upon them with its accustomed decision. "All I have gathered of
our first plans," said he, "I disapprove most exceedingly. Honour may
arise from them; good cannot. I hear we are likely to anchor outside of
Cronenburgh Castle, instead of Copenhagen, which would give weight to
our negotiation. A Danish minister would think twice before he would
put his name to war with England, when the next moment he would
probably see his master's fleet in flames, and his capital in ruins. The
Dane should see our flag every moment he lifted up his head."

Mr Vansittart left the fleet at the Scaw, and preceded it in a
frigate with a flag of truce. Precious time was lost by this delay,
which was to be purchased by the dearest blood of Britain and Denmark:
according to the Danes themselves, the intelligence that a British fleet
was seen off the Sound produced a much more general alarm in Copenhagen
than its actual arrival in the Roads; for the means of defence were at
that time in such a state that they could hardly hope to resist, still
less to repel an enemy. On the 21st Nelson had a long conference with
Sir Hyde; and the next day addressed a letter to him, worthy of himself
and of the occasion. Mr. Vansittart's report had then been received. It
represented the Danish government as in the highest degree hostile, and
their state of preparation as exceeding what our cabinet had supposed
possible; for Denmark had profited with all activity of the leisure
which had so impoliticly been given her. "The more I have reflected,"
said Nelson to his commander, "the more I am confirmed in opinion, that
not a moment should be lost in attacking the enemy. They will every day
and every hour be stronger; we shall never be so good a match for them
as at this moment. The only consideration is, how to get at them with
the least risk to our ships. Here you are, with almost the safety,
certainly with the honour of England, more entrusted to you than ever
yet fell to the lot of any British officer. On your decision depends
whether our country shall be degraded in the eyes of Europe, or whether
she shall rear her head higher than ever. Again, I do repeat, never did
our country depend so much upon the success of any fleet as on this. How
best to honour her and abate the pride of her enemies, must be the
subject of your deepest consideration."

Supposing him to force the passage of the Sound, Nelson thought some
damage might be done among the masts and yards; though, perhaps, not one
of them but would be serviceable again. "If the wind be fair," said he,
"and you determined to attack the ships and Crown Islands, you must
expect the natural issue of such a battle-- ships crippled, and perhaps
one or two lost for the wind which carries you in will most probably not
bring out a crippled ship. This mode I call taking the bull by the
horns. It, however, will not prevent the Revel ships, or the Swedes,
from joining the Danes and to prevent this is, in my humble opinion, a
measure absolutely necessary, and still to attack Copenhagen." For this
he proposed two modes. One was to pass Cronenburg, taking the risk of
danger; take the deepest and straightest channel along the middle
grounds, and then coming down to Garbar, or King's Channel, attack the
Danish line of floating batteries and ships as might be found
convenient. This would prevent a junction, and might give an opportunity
of bombarding Copenhagen. Or to take the passage of the Belt, which
might be accomplished in four or five days; and then the attack by Draco
might be made, and the junction of the Russians prevented. Supposing
them through the Belt, he proposed that a detachment of the fleet should
be sent to destroy the Russian squadron at Revel; and that the business
at Copenhagen should be attempted with the remainder. "The measure," he
said, "might be thought bold; but the boldest measures are the safest."

The pilots, as men who had nothing but safety to think of, were
terrified by the formidable report of the batteries of Elsinore, and the
tremendous preparations which our negotiators, who were now returned
from their fruitless mission, had witnessed. They, therefore, persuaded
Sir Hyde to prefer the passage of the Belt. "Let it be by the Sound, by
the Belt, or anyhow," cried Nelson,"only lose not an hour!" On the 26th
they sailed for the Belt. Such was the habitual reserve of Sir Hyde that
his own captain, the captain of the fleet, did not know which course he
had resolved to take till the fleet were getting under weigh. When
Captain Domett was thus apprised of it, he felt it his duty to represent
to the admiral his belief that if that course were persevered in, the
ultimate object would be totally defeated: it was liable to long delays,
and to accidents of ships grounding; in the whole fleet there were only
one captain and one pilot who knew anything of this formidable passage
(as it was then deemed), and their knowledge was very slight--their
instructions did not authorise them to attempt it. Supposing them safe
through the Belts, the heavy ships could not come over the GROUNDS to
attack Copenhagen; and light vessels would have no effect on such a line
of defence as had been prepared against them. Domett urged these reasons
so forcibly that Sir Hyde's opinion was shaken, and he consented to
bring the fleet to and send for Nelson on board. There can be little
doubt but that the expedition would have failed if Captain Domett had
not thus timeously and earnestly given his advice. Nelson entirely
agreed with him; and it was finally determined to take the passage of
the Sound, and the fleet returned to its former anchorage.

The next day was more idly expended in despatching a flag of truce to
the governor of Cronenburg Castle, to ask whether he had received orders
to fire at the British fleet; as the admiral must consider the first gun
to be a declaration of war on the part of Denmark. A soldier-like and
becoming answer was returned to this formality. The governor said that
the British minister had not been sent away from Copenhagen, but had
obtained a passport at his own demand. He himself, as a soldier, could
not meddle with politics; but he was not at liberty to suffer a fleet,
of which the intention was not yet known, to approach the guns of the
castle which he had the honour to command: and he requested, "if the
British admiral should think proper to make any proposals to the King of
Denmark, that he might be apprised of it before the fleet approached
nearer." During this intercourse, a Dane, who came on board the
commander's ship, having occasion to express his business in writing,
found the pen blunt; and, holding it up, sarcastically said, "If your
guns are not better pointed than your pens, you will make little
impression on Copenhagen!"

On that day intelligence reached the admiral of the loss of one of
his fleet, the INVINCIBLE, seventy-four, wrecked on a sand-bank, as she
was coming out of Yarmouth: four hundred of her men perished in her.
Nelson, who was now appointed to lead the van, shifted his flag to the
ELEPHANT, Captain Foley--a lighter ship than the ST. GEORGE, and, there-
fore, fitter for the expected operations. The two following days were
calm. Orders had been given to pass the Sound as soon as the wind would
permit; and, on the afternoon of the 29th, the ships were cleared for
action, with an alacrity characteristic of British seamen. At daybreak
on the 30th it blew a topsail breeze from N.W. The signal was made, and
the fleet moved on in order of battle; Nelson's division in the van, Sir
Hyde's in the centre, and Admiral Graves' in the rear.

Great actions, whether military or naval, have generally given
celebrity to the scenes from whence they are denominated; and thus petty
villages, and capes and bays known only to the coasting trader, become
associated with mighty deeds, and their names are made conspicuous in
the history of the world. Here, however, the scene was every way worthy
of the drama. The political importance of the Sound is such, that grand
objects are not needed there to impress the imagination; yet is the
channel full of grand and interesting objects, both of art and nature.
This passage, which Denmark had so long considered as the key of the
Baltic, is, in its narrowest part, about three miles wide; and here the
city of Elsinore is situated; except Copenhagen, the most flourishing of
the Danish towns. Every vessel which passes lowers her top-gallant sails
and pays toll at Elsinore; a toll which is believed to have had its
origin in the consent of the traders to that sea, Denmark taking upon
itself the charge of constructing lighthouses, and erecting signals, to
mark the shoals and rocks from the Cattegat to the Baltic; and they, on
their part, agreeing that all ships should pass this way in order that
all might pay their shares: none from that time using the passage of
the Belt, because it was not fitting that they who enjoyed the benefit
of the beacons in dark and stormy weather, should evade contributing to
them in fair seasons and summer nights. Of late years about ten thousand
vessels had annually paid this contribution in time of peace. Adjoining
Elsinore, and at the edge of the peninsular promontory, upon the nearest
point of land to the Swedish coast, stands Cronenburgh Castle, built
after Tycho Brahe's design; a magnificent pile--at once a palace, and
fortress, and state-prison, with its spires, and towers, and
battlements, and batteries. On the left of the strait is the old Swedish
city of Helsinburg, at the foot, and on the side of a hill. To the north
of Helsinburg the shores are steep and rocky; they lower to the south;
and the distant spires of Lanscrona, Lund, and Malmoe are seen in the
flat country. The Danish shores consist partly of ridges of sand; but
more frequently they are diversified with cornfields, meadows, slopes,
and are covered with rich wood, and villages, and villas, and summer
palaces belonging to the king and the nobility, and denoting the
vicinity of a great capital. The isles of Huen, Statholm, and Amak,
appear in the widening channel; and at the distance of twenty miles from
Elsinore stands Copenhagen in full view; the best city of the north, and
one of the finest capitals of Europe, visible, with its stately spires,
far off. Amid these magnificent objects there are some which possess a
peculiar interest for the recollections which they call forth. The isle
of Huen, a lovely domain, about six miles in circumference, had been the
munificent gift of Frederick the Second to Tycho Brahe. It has higher
shores than the near coast of Zealand, or than the Swedish coast in that
part. Here most of his discoveries were made; and here the ruins are to
be seen of his observatory, and of the mansion where he was visited by
princes; and where, with a princely spirit, he received and entertained
all comers from all parts, and promoted science by his liberality as
well as by his labours. Elsinore is a name familiar to English ears,
being inseparably associated with HAMLET, and one of the noblest works
of human genius. Cronenburgh had been the scene of deeper tragedy: here
Queen Matilda was confined, the victim of a foul and murderous court
intrigue. Here, amid heart-breaking griefs, she found consolation in
nursing her infant. Here she took her everlasting leave of that infant,
when, by the interference of England, her own deliverance was obtained;
and as the ship bore her away from a country where the venial
indiscretions of youth and unsuspicious gaiety had been so cruelly
punished, upon these towers she fixed her eyes, and stood upon the deck,
obstinately gazing toward them till the last speck had disappeared.

The Sound being the only frequented entrance to the Baltic, the great
Mediterranean of the North, few parts of the sea display so frequent a
navigation. In the height of the season not fewer than a hundred vessels
pass every four-and-twenty hours for many weeks in succession; but never
had so busy or so splendid a scene been exhibited there as on this day,
when the British fleet prepared to force that passage where, till now,
all ships had vailed their topsails to the flag of Denmark. The whole
force consisted of fifty-one sail of various descriptions, of which
sixteen were of the line. The greater part of the bomb and gun vessels
took their stations off Cronenburgh Castle, to cover the fleet; while
others on the larboard were ready to engage the Swedish shore. The
Danes, having improved every moment which ill-timed negotiation and
baffling weather gave them, had lined their shores with batteries; and
as soon as the MONARCH, which was the leading ship, came abreast of
them, a fire was opened from about a hundred pieces of cannon and
mortars; our light vessels immediately, in return, opened their fire
upon the castle. Here was all the pompous circumstance and exciting
reality of war, without its effects; for this ostentatious display was
but a bloodless prelude to the wide and sweeping destruction which was
soon to follow. The enemy's shot fell near enough to splash the water
on board our ships: not relying upon any forbearance of the Swedes, they
meant to have kept the mid channel; but when they perceived that not a
shot was fired from Helsinburg, and that no batteries were to be seen on
the Swedish shore, they inclined to that side, so as completely to get
out of reach of the Danish guns. The uninterrupted blaze which was kept
up from them till the fleet had passed, served only to exhilarate our
sailors, and afford them matter for jest, as the shot fell in showers a
full cable's length short of its destined aim. A few rounds were re-
turned from some of our leading ships, till they perceived its in-
utility: this, however, occasioned the only bloodshed of the day, some
of our men being killed and wounded by the bursting of a gun. As soon as
the main body had passed, the gun vessels followed, desisting from their
bombardment, which had been as innocent as that of the enemy; and, about
mid-day, the whole fleet anchored between the island of Huen and Copen-
hagen. Sir Hyde, with Nelson, Admiral Graves, some of the senior
captains, and the commanding officers of the artillery and the troops,
then proceeded in a lugger to reconnoitre the enemy's means of defence;
a formidable line of ships, radeaus, pontoons, galleys, fire-ships and
gun-boats, flanked and supported by extensive batteries, and occupying,
from one extreme point to the other, an extent of nearly four miles.

A council of war was held In the afternoon. It was apparent that the
Danes could not be attacked without great difficulty and risk; and some
of the members of the council spoke of the number of the Swedes and the
Russians whom they should afterwards have to engage, as a consideration
which ought to be borne in mind. Nelson, who kept pacing the cabin,
impatient as he ever was of anything which savoured of irresolution,
repeatedly said, "The more numerous the better: I wish they were twice
as many,--the easier the victory, depend on it." The plan upon which he
had determined; if ever it should be his fortune to bring a Baltic fleet
to action, was, to attack the head of their line and confuse their
movements. "Close with a Frenchman," he used to say, "but out manoeuvre
a Russian." He offered his services for the attack, requiring ten sail
of the line and the whole of the smaller craft. Sir Hyde gave him two
more line-of-battle ships than he asked, and left everything to his

The enemy's force was not the only, nor the greatest, obstacle with
which the British fleet had to contend: there was another to be
overcome before they could come in contact with it. The channel was
little known and extremely intricate: all the buoys had been removed;
and the Danes considered this difficulty as almost insuperable, thinking
the channel impracticable for so large a fleet. Nelson himself saw the
soundings made and the buoys laid down, boating it upon this exhausting
service, day and night, till it was effected. When this was done he
thanked God for having enabled him to get through this difficult part of
his duty. "It had worn him down," he said, "and was infinitely more
grievous to him than any resistance which he could experience from the

At the first council of war, opinions inclined to an attack from the
eastward; but the next day, the wind being southerly, after a second
examination of the Danish position, it was determined to attack from the
south, approaching in the manner which Nelson had suggested in his first
thoughts. On the morning of the 1st of April the whole fleet removed to
an anchorage within two leagues of the town, and off the N.W. end of the
Middle Ground; a shoal lying exactly before the town, at about three
quarters of a mile distance, and extending along its whole sea-front.
The King's Channel, where there is deep water, is between this shoal and
the town; and here the Danes had arranged their line of defence, as near
the shore as possible: nineteen ships and floating batteries, flanked,
at the end nearest the town, by the Crown Batteries, which were two
artificial islands, at the mouth of the harbour--most formidable works;
the larger one having, by the Danish account, 66 guns; but, as Nelson
believed, 88. The fleet having anchored, Nelson, with Riou, in the
AMAZON, made his last examination of the ground; and about one o'clock,
returning to his own ship, threw out the signal to weigh. It was
received with a shout throughout the whole division; they weighed with a
light and favourable wind: the narrow channel between the island of
Saltholm and the Middle Ground had been accurately buoyed; the small
craft pointed out the course distinctly; Riou led the way: the whole
division coasted along the outer edge of the shoal, doubled its further
extremity, and anchored there off Draco Point, just as the darkness
closed--the headmost of the enemy's line not being more than two miles
distant. The signal to prepare for action had been made early in the
evening; and as his own anchor dropt, Nelson called out, "I will fight
them the moment I have a fair wind!" It had been agreed that Sir Hyde,
with the remaining ships, should weigh on the following morning, at the
same time as Nelson, to menace the Crown Batteries on his side, and the
four ships of the line which lay at the entrance of the arsenal; and to
cover our own disabled ships as they came out of action.

The Danes, meantime, had not been idle: no sooner did the guns of
Cronenburgh make it known to the whole city that all negotiation was at
an end, that the British fleet was passing the Sound, and that the
dispute between the two crowns must now be decided by arms, than a
spirit displayed itself most honourable to the Danish character. All
ranks offered themselves to the service of their country; the university
furnished a corps of 1200 youth, the flower of Denmark--it was one of
those emergencies in which little drilling or discipline is necessary to
render courage available: they had nothing to learn but how to manage
the guns, and day and night were employed in practising them. When the
movements of Nelson's squadron were perceived, it was known when and
where the attack was to be expected, and the line of defence was manned
indiscriminately by soldiers, sailors, and citizens. Had not the whole
attention of the Danes been directed to strengthen their own means of
defence, they might most materially have annoyed the invading squadron,
and perhaps frustrated the impending attack; for the British ships were
crowded in an anchoring ground of little extent:--it was calm, so that
mortar-boats might have acted against them to the utmost advantage; and
they were within range of shells from Amak Island. A few fell among
them; but the enemy soon ceased to fire. It was learned afterwards,
that, fortunately for the fleet, the bed of the mortar had given way;
and the Danes either could not get it replaced, or, in the darkness,
lost the direction.

This was an awful night for Copenhagen--far more so than for the
British fleet, where the men were accustomed to battle and victory, and
had none of those objects before their eyes which rendered death
terrible. Nelson sat down to table with a large party of his officers:
he was, as he was ever wont to be when on the eve of action, in high
spirits, and drank to a leading wind, and to the success of the morrow.
After supper they returned to their respective ships, except Riou, who
remained to arrange the order of battle with Nelson and Foley, and to
draw up instructions. Hardy, meantime, went in a small boat to examine
the channel between them and the enemy; approaching so near that he
sounded round their leading ship with a pole, lest the noise of throwing
the lead should discover him. The incessant fatigue of body, as well as
mind, which Nelson had undergone during the last three days, had so
exhausted him that he was earnestly urged to go to his cot; and his old
servant, Allen, using that kind of authority which long and affectionate
services entitled and enabled him to assume on such occasions, insisted
upon his complying. The cot was placed on the floor, and he continued to
dictate from it. About eleven Hardy returned, and reported the
practicability of the channel, and the depth of water up to the enemy's
line. About one the orders were completed; and half-a-dozen clerks, in
the foremost cabin, proceeded to transcribe them, Nelson frequently
calling out to them from his cot to hasten their work, for the wind was
becoming fair. Instead of attempting to get a few hours' sleep, he was
constantly receiving reports on this important point. At daybreak it was
announced as becoming perfectly fair. The clerks finished their work
about six. Nelson, who was already up, breakfasted, and made signal for
all captains. The land forces and five hundred seamen, under Captain
Freemantle and the Hon. Colonel Stewart, were to storm the Crown Battery
as soon as its fire should be silenced: and Riou--whom Nelson had never
seen till this expedition, but whose worth he had instantly perceived,
and appreciated as it deserved--had the BLANCHE and ALCMENE frigates,
the DART and ARROW sloops. and the ZEPHYR and OTTER fire-ships, given
him, with a special command to act as circumstances might require--every
other ship had its station appointed.

Between eight and nine, the pilots and masters were ordered on board
the admirals' ships. The pilots were mostly men who had been mates in
Baltic traders; and their hesitation about the bearing of the east end
of the shoal, and the exact line of deep water, gave ominous warning of
how little their knowledge was to be trusted. The signal for action had
been made, the wind was fair--not a moment to be lost. Nelson urged them
to be steady, to be resolute, and to decide; but they wanted the only
ground for steadiness and decision in such cases; and Nelson had reason
to regret that he had not trusted to Hardy's single report. This was one
of the most painful moments of his life; and he always spoke of it
with bitterness. "I experienced in the Sound," said he, "the misery of
having the honour of our country entrusted to a set of pilots, who have
no other thought than to keep the ships clear of danger, and their own
silly heads clear of shot. Everybody knows what I must have suffered;
and if any merit attaches itself to me, it was for combating the dangers
of the shallows in defiance of them." At length Mr. Bryerly, the master
of the BELLONA, declared that he was prepared to lead the fleet; his
judgment was acceded to by the rest; they returned to their ships; and
at half-past nine the signal was made to weigh in succession.

Captain Murray, in the EDGAR, led the way; the AGAMEMNON was next in
order; but on the first attempt to leave her anchorage, she could not
weather the edge of the shoal; and Nelson had the grief to see his old
ship, in which he had performed so many years' gallant services,
immovably aground at a moment when her help was so greatly required.
Signal was then made for the POLYPHEMUS; and this change in the order of
sailing was executed with the utmost promptitude: yet so much delay had
thus been unavoidably occasioned, that the EDGAR was for some time
unsupported, and the POLYPHEMUS, whose place should have been at the
end of the enemy's line, where their strength was the greatest, could
get no further than the beginning, owing to the difficulty of the
channel: there she occupied, indeed, an efficient station, but one where
her presence was less required. The ISIS followed with better fortune,
and took her own berth. The BELLONA, Sir Thomas Boulden Thompson, kept
too close on the starboard shoal, and grounded abreast of the outer ship
of the enemy: this was the more vexatious, inasmuch as the wind was
fair, the room ample, and three ships had led the way. The RUSSELL,
following the BELLONA, grounded in like manner: both were within reach
of shot; but their absence from their intended stations was severely
felt. Each ship had been ordered to pass her leader on the starboard
side, because the water was supposed to shoal on the larboard shore.
Nelson, who came next after these two ships, thought they had kept too
far on the starboard direction, and made signal for them to close with
the enemy, not knowing that they were aground; but when he perceived
that they did not obey the signal, he ordered the ELEPHANT's helm to
starboard, and went within these ships: thus quitting the appointed
order of sailing, and guiding those which were to follow. The greater
part of the fleet were probably, by this act of promptitude on his part,
saved from going on shore. Each ship, as she arrived nearly opposite to
her appointed station, let her anchor go by the stern, and presented her
broadside to the Danes. The distance between each was about half a
cable. The action was fought nearly at the distance of a cable's length
from the enemy. This, which rendered its continuance so long, was owing
to the ignorance and consequent indecision of the pilots. In pursuance
of the same error which had led the BELLONA and the RUSSELL aground,
they, when the lead was at a quarter less five, refused to approach
nearer, in dread of shoaling their water on the larboard shore: a fear
altogether erroneous, for the water deepened up to the very side of the
enemy's line of battle.

At five minutes after ten the action began. The first half of our
fleet was engaged in about half an hour; and by half-past eleven the
battle became general. The plan of the attack had been complete: but
seldom has any plan been more disconcerted by untoward accidents. Of
twelve ships of the line, one was entirely useless, and two others in a
situation where they could not render half the service which was
required of them. Of the squadron of gun-brigs, only one could get into
action; the rest were prevented, by baffling currents, from weathering
the eastern end of the shoal; and only two of the bomb-vessels could
reach their station on the Middle Ground, and open their mortars on the
arsenal, firing over both fleets. Riou took the vacant station against
the Crown Battery, with his frigates: attempting, with that unequal
force, a service in which three sail of the line had been directed to

Nelson's agitation had been extreme when he saw himself, before the
action began, deprived of a fourth part of his ships of the line; but no
sooner was he in battle, where his squadron was received with the fire
of more than a thousand guns, than, as if that artillery, like music,
had driven away all care and painful thoughts, his countenance
brightened; and, as a bystander describes him, his conversation became
joyous, animated, elevated, and delightful. The Commander-in-Chief
meantime, near enough to the scene of action to know the unfavourable
accidents which had so materially weakened Nelson, and yet too distant
to know the real state of the contending parties, suffered the most
dreadful anxiety. To get to his assistance was impossible; both wind and
current were against him. Fear for the event, in such circumstances,
would naturally preponderate in the bravest mind; and at one o'clock,
perceiving that, after three hours' endurance, the enemy's fire was
unslackened, he began to despair of success. "I will make the signal of
recall," said he to his captain, "for Nelson's sake. If he is in a
condition to continue the action successfully, he will disregard it; if
he is not, it will be an excuse for his retreat, and no blame can be
imputed to him." Captain Domett urged him at least to delay the signal
till he could communicate with Nelson; but in Sir Hyde's opinion the
danger was too pressing for delay. "The fire," he said,"was too hot for
Nelson to oppose; a retreat he thought must be made; he was aware of
the consequences to his own personal reputation, but it would be
cowardly in him to leave Nelson to bear the whole shame of the failure,
if shame it should be deemed." Under, a mistaken judgment, therefore,
but with this disinterested and generous feeling, he made the signal for

Nelson was at this time, in all the excitement of action, pacing the
quarter-deck. A shot through the mainmast knocked the splinters about;
and he observed to one of his officers with a smile, "It is warm work,
and this day may be the last to any of us at a moment:"--and then
stopping short at the gangway, added, with emotion--"But mark you! I
would not be elsewhere for thousands." About this time the signal-
lieutenant called out that number Thirty-nine (the signal for
discontinuing the action) was thrown out by the Commander-in-Chief. He
continued to walk the deck, and appeared to take no notice of it. The
signal officer met him at the next turn, and asked if he should repeat
it. "No," he replied, "acknowledge it." Presently he called after him to
know if the signal for close action was still hoisted; and being
answered in the affirmative, said, "Mind you keep it so." He now paced
the deck, moving the stump of his lost arm in a manner which always
indicated great emotion. "Do you know," said he to Mr. Ferguson, "what
is shown on board the Commander-in-Chief? Number Thirty-nine!" Mr.
Ferguson asked what that meant. "Why, to leave off action!" Then
shrugging up his shoulders, he repeated the words--"Leave off action?
Now, damn me if I do! You know, Foley," turning to the captain, "I have
only one eye,--I have a right to be blind sometimes:" and then
putting the glass to his blind eye, in that mood of mind which sports
with bitterness, he exclaimed, "I really do not see the signal!"
Presently he exclaimed, "Damn the signal! Keep mine for closer battle
flying! That's the way I answer signals! Nail mine to the mast!" Admiral
Graves, who was so situated that he could not discern what was done on
board the ELEPHANT, disobeyed Sir Hyde's signal in like manner; whether
by fortunate mistake, or by a like brave intention, has not been made
known. The other ships of the line, looking only to Nelson, continued
the action. The signal, however, saved Riou's little squadron, but did
not save its heroic leader. This squadron, which was nearest the
Commander-in-Chief, obeyed and hauled off. It had suffered severely in
its most unequal contest. For a long time the AMAZON had been firing,
enveloped in smoke, when Riou desired his men to stand fast, and let the
smoke clear off, that they might see what they were about. A fatal
order--for the Danes then got clear sight of her from the batteries,
and pointed their guns with such tremendous effect that nothing but the
signal for retreat saved this frigate from destruction. "What will
Nelson think of us?" was Riou's mournful exclamation when he unwillingly
drew off. He had been wounded in the head by a splinter, and was sitting
on a gun, encouraging his men, when, just as the AMAZON showed her stern
to the Trekroner battery, his clerk was killed by his side; and another
shot swept away several marines who were hauling in the main-brace.
"Come, then, my boys!" cried Riou; "let us die all together!" The words
had scarcely been uttered before a raking shot cut him in two. Except it
had been Nelson himself, the British navy could not have suffered a
severer loss.

The action continued along the line with unabated vigour on our side,
and with the most determined resolution on the part of the Danes. They
fought to great advantage, because most of the vessels in their line of
defence were without masts; the few which had any standing had their
top-masts struck, and the hulls could not be seen at intervals. The ISIS
must have been destroyed by the superior weight of her enemy's fire, if
Captain Inman, in the DESIREE frigate, had not judiciously taken a
situation which enabled him to rake the Dane, if the POLYPHEMUS had not
also relieved her. Both in the BELLONA and the ISIS many men were lost
by the bursting of their guns. The former ship was about forty years
old, and these guns were believed to be the same which she had first
taken to sea: they were, probably, originally faulty, for the fragments
were full of little air-holes. The BELLONA lost 75 men; the ISIS, 110;
the MONARCH, 210. She was, more than any other line-of-battle ship,
exposed to the great battery; and supporting, at the same time, the
united fire of the HOLSTEIN and the ZEALAND, her loss this day exceeded
that of any single ship during the whole war. Amid the tremendous
carnage in this vessel, some of the men displayed a singular instance of
coolness: the pork and peas happened to be in the kettle; a shot knocked
its contents about; they picked up the pieces, and ate and fought at the
same time.

The Prince-Royal had taken his station upon one of the batteries,
from whence he beheld the action and issued his orders. Denmark had
never been engaged in so arduous a contest, and never did the Danes more
nobly display their national courage--a courage not more unhappily than
impolitically exerted in subserviency to the interests of France.
Captain Thura, of the INDFOEDSRETTEN, fell early in the action; and all
his officers, except one lieutenant and one marine officer, were either
killed or wounded In the confusion, the colours were either struck or
shot away; but she was moored athwart one of the batteries in such a
situation that the British made no attempt to board her; and a boat was
despatched to the prince, to inform him of her situation. He turned to
those about him, and said, "Gentlemen, Thura is killed; which of you
will take the command?" Schroedersee, a captain who had lately resigned
on account of extreme ill-health, answered in a feeble voice, "I will!"
and hastened on board. The crew, perceiving a new commander coming
alongside, hoisted their colours again, and fired a broadside.
Schroedersee, when he came on deck, found himself surrounded by the
dead and wounded, and called to those in the boat to get quickly on
board: a ball struck him at that moment. A lieutenant, who had
accompanied him, then took the command, and continued to fight the ship.
A youth of seventeen, by name Villemoes, particularly distinguished
himself on this memorable day. He had volunteered to take the command of
a floating battery, which was a raft, consisting merely of a number of
beams nailed together, with a flooring to support the guns: it was

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