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The Life of Horatio Lord Nelson by Robert Southey

Part 4 out of 5

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square, with a breast-work full of port-holes, and without masts--
carrying twenty-four guns, and one hundred and twenty men. With this he
got under the stern of the ELEPHANT, below the reach of the stern-
chasers; and under a heavy fire of small-arms from the marines, fought
his raft, till the truce was announced, with such skill as well as
courage, as to excite Nelson's warmest admiration.

Between one and two the fire of the Danes slackened; about two it
ceased from the greater part of their line, and some of their lighter
ships were adrift. It was, however, difficult to take possession of
those which struck, because the batteries on Amak Island protected them;
and because an irregular fire was kept up from the ships themselves as
the boats approached. This arose from the nature of the action: the
crews were continually reinforced from the shore; and fresh men coming
on board, did not inquire whether the flag had been struck, or, perhaps,
did not heed it; many or most of them never having been engaged in war
before--knowing nothing, therefore, of its laws, and thinking only of
defending their country to the last extremity. The DANBROG fired upon
the ELEPHANT's boats in this manner, though her commodore had removed
her pendant and deserted her, though she had struck, and though she was
in flames. After she had been abandoned by the commodore, Braun fought
her till he lost his right hand, and then Captain Lemming took the
command. This unexpected renewal of her fire made the ELEPHANT and
GLATTON renew theirs, till she was not only silenced, but nearly every
man in the praams, ahead and astern of her, was killed. When the smoke
of their guns died away, she was seen drifting in flames before the
wind: those of her crew who remained alive, and able to exert
themselves, throwing themselves out at her port-holes. Captain Bertie
of the ARDENT sent his launch to their assistance, and saved three-and-
twenty of them.

Captain Rothe commanded the NYEBORG praam; and perceiving that she
could not much longer be kept afloat, made for the inner road. As he
passed the line, he found the AGGERSHUUS praam in a more miserable
condition than his own; her masts had all gone by the board, and she was
on the point of sinking. Rothe made fast a cable to her stern, and towed
her off; but he could get her no further than a shoal called Stubben,
when she sunk, and soon after he had worked the NYEBORG up to the
landing-place, that vessel also sunk to her gunwale. Never did any
vessel come out of action in a more dreadful plight. The stump of her
foremast was the only stick standing; her cabin had been stove in; every
gun, except a single one, was dismounted; and her deck was covered with
shattered limbs and dead bodies.

By half-past two the action had ceased along that part of the line
which was astern of the ELEPHANT, but not with the ships ahead and the
Crown Batteries. Nelson, seeing the manner in which his boats were fired
upon when they went to take possession of the prizes, became angry, and
said he must either send ashore to have this irregular proceeding
stopped, or send a fire-ship and burn them. Half the shot from the
Trekroner, and from the batteries at Amak, at this time, struck the
surrendered ships, four of which had got close together; and the fire of
the English, in return, was equally or even more destructive to these
poor devoted Danes. Nelson, who was as humane as he was brave, was
shocked at the massacre--for such he called it; and with a presence of
mind peculiar to himself, and never more signally displayed than now, he
retired into the stern gallery, and wrote thus to the Crown Prince:--
"Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson has been commanded to spare Denmark when she
no longer resists. The line of defence which covered her shores has
struck to the British flag; but if the firing is continued on the part
of Denmark, he must set on fire all the prizes that he has taken,
without having the power of saving the men who have so nobly defended
them. The brave Danes are the brothers, and should never be the enemies,
of the English." A wafer was given him, but he ordered a candle to be
brought from the cockpit, and sealed the letter with wax, affixing a
larger seal than he ordinarily used. "This," said he, "is no time to
appear hurried and informal." Captain Sir Frederick Thesiger, who acted
as his aide-de-camp, carried this letter with a flag of truce. Meantime
the fire of the ships ahead, and the approach of the RAMILLIES and
DEFENCE from Sir Hyde's division, which had now worked near enough to
alarm the enemy, though not to injure them, silenced the remainder of
the Danish line to the eastward of the Trekroner. That battery, however,
continued its fire. This formidable work, owing to the want of the ships
which had been destined to attack it, and the inadequate force of Riou's
little squadron, was comparatively uninjured. Towards the close of the
action it had been manned with nearly fifteen hundred men; and the
intention of storming it, for which every preparation had been made, was
abandoned as impracticable.

During Thesiger's absence, Nelson sent for Freemantle, from the
GANGES, and consulted with him and Foley whether it was advisable to
advance, with those ships which had sustained least damage, against the
yet uninjured part of the Danish line. They were decidedly of opinion
that the best thing which could be done was, while the wind continued
fair, to remove the fleet out of the intricate channel from which it had
to retreat. In somewhat more than half an hour after Thesiger had been
despatched, the Danish adjutant-general, Lindholm came, bearing a flag
of truce, upon which the Trekroner ceased to fire, and the action
closed, after four hours' continuance. He brought an inquiry from the
prince,--What was the object of Nelson's note? The British admiral wrote
in reply:--"Lord Nelson's object in sending the flag of truce was human-
ity; he therefore consents that hostilities shall cease, and that the
wounded Danes may be taken on shore. And Lord Nelson will take his
prisoners out of the vessels, and burn or carry off his prizes as he
shall think fit. Lord Nelson, with humble duty to his royal highness the
prince, will consider this the greatest victory he has ever gained, if
it may be the cause of a happy reconciliation and union between his own
most gracious sovereign and his majesty the King of Denmark." Sir
Frederick Thesiger was despatched a second time with the reply; and the
Danish adjutant-general was referred to the commander-in-chief for a
conference upon this overture. Lindholm assenting to this, proceeded to
the LONDON, which was riding at anchor full four miles off and Nelson,
losing not one of the critical moments which he had thus gained, made
signal for his leading ships to weigh in succession; they had the shoal
to clear, they were much crippled, and their course was immediately
under the guns of the Trekroner.

The MONARCH led the way. This ship had received six-and-twenty shot
between wind and water. She had not a shroud standing; there was a
double-headed shot in the heart of her foremast, and the slightest wind
would have sent every mast over her side. The imminent danger from which
Nelson had extricated himself soon became apparent: the MONARCH touched
immediately upon a shoal, over which she was pushed by the GANGES taking
her amidships; the GLATTON went clear; but the other two, the DEFIANCE
and the ELEPHANT, grounded about a mile from the Trekroner, and there
remained fixed for many hours, in spite of all the exertions of their
wearied crews. The DESIREE frigate also, at the other end of the line,
having gone toward the close of the action to assist the BELLONA, became
fast on the same shoal. Nelson left the ELEPHANT soon after she took the
ground, to follow Lindholm. The heat of the action was over, and that
kind of feeling which the surrounding scene of havoc was so well fitted
to produce, pressed heavily upon his exhausted spirits. The sky had
suddenly become overcast; white flags were waving from the mast-heads of
so many shattered ships; the slaughter had ceased, but the grief was to
come; for the account of the dead was not yet made up, and no man could
tell for what friends he might have to mourn. The very silence which
follows the cessation of such a battle becomes a weight upon the heart
at first, rather than a relief; and though the work of mutual
destruction was at an end, the DANBROG was at this time drifting about
in flames; presently she blew up; while our boats, which had put off in
all directions to assist her, were endeavouring to pick up her devoted
crew, few of whom could be saved. The fate of these men, after the
gallantry which they had displayed, particularly affected Nelson; for
there was nothing in this action of that indignation against the enemy,
and that impression of retributive justice, which at the Nile had given
a sterner temper to his mind, and a sense of austere delight in
beholding the vengeance of which he was the appointed minister. The
Danes were an honourable foe; they were of English mould as well as
English blood; and now that the battle had ceased, he regarded them
rather as brethren than as enemies. There was another reflection also
which mingled with these melancholy thoughts, and predisposed him to
receive them. He was not here master of his own movements, as at Egypt;
he had won the day by disobeying his orders; and in so far as he had
been successful, had convicted the commander-in-chief of an error in
judgment. "Well," said he, as he left the ELEPHANT, "I have fought
contrary to orders, and I shall perhaps be hanged. Never mind: let

This was the language of a man who, while he is giving utterance to
uneasy thought, clothes it half in jest, because he half repents that it
has been disclosed. His services had been too eminent on that day, his
judgment too conspicuous, his success too signal, for any commander,
however jealous of his own authority, or envious of another's merits, to
express anything but satisfaction and gratitude: which Sir Hyde
heartily felt, and sincerely expressed. It was speedily agreed that
there should be a suspension of hostilities for four-and-twenty hours;
that all the prizes should be surrendered, and the wounded Danes carried
on shore. There was a pressing necessity for this, for the Danes,
either from too much confidence in the strength of their position and
the difficulty of the channel, or supposing that the wounded might be
carried on shore during the action, which was found totally
impracticable, or perhaps from the confusion which the attack excited,
had provided no surgeons; so that, when our men boarded the captured
ships, they found many of the mangled and mutilated Danes bleeding to
death for want of proper assistance--a scene, of all others, the most
shocking to a brave man's feelings.

The boats of Sir Hyde's division were actively employed all night in
bringing out the prizes, and in getting afloat the ships which were on
shore. At daybreak, Nelson, who had slept in his own ship, the St.
George, rowed to the ELEPHANT; and his delight at finding her afloat
seemed to give him new life. There he took a hasty breakfast, praising
the men for their exertions, and then pushed off to the prizes, which
had not yet been removed. The ZEALAND, seventy-four, the last which
struck, had drifted on the shoal under the Trekroner; and relying, as it
seems, upon the protection which that battery might have afforded,
refused to acknowledge herself captured; saying, that though it was true
her flag was not to be seen, her pendant was still flying. Nelson
ordered one of our brigs and three long-boats to approach her, and rowed
up himself to one of the enemy's ships, to communicate with the com-
modore. This officer proved to be an old acquaintance, whom he had known
in the West Indies; so he invited himself on board, and with that urban-
ity as well as decision which always characterised him, urged his claim
to the ZEALAND so well that it was admitted. The men from the boats
lashed a cable round her bowsprit, and the gun-vessel towed her away. It
is affirmed, and probably with truth, that the Danes felt more pain at
beholding this than at all their misfortunes on the preceding day; and
one of the officers, Commodore Steen Rille, went to the Trekroner
battery, and asked the commander why he had not sunk the ZEALAND, rather
than suffer her thus to be carried off by the enemy?

This was, indeed, a mournful day for Copenhagen! It was Good Friday;
but the general agitation, and the mourning which was in every house,
made all distinction of days be forgotten. There were, at that hour,
thousands in that city who felt, and more perhaps who needed, the
consolations of Christianity, but few or none who could be calm enough
to think of its observances. The English were actively employed in
refitting their own ships, securing the prizes, and distributing the
prisoners; the Danes, in carrying on shore and disposing of the wounded
and the dead. It had been a murderous action. Our loss, in killed and
wounded, was 953. Part of this slaughter might have been spared. The
commanding officer of the troops on board one of our ships asked where
his men should be stationed? He was told that they could be of no use!
that they were not near enough for musketry, and were not wanted at the
guns; they had, therefore, better go below. This, he said, was
impossible; it would be a disgrace that could never be wiped away. They
were, therefore, drawn up upon the gangway, to satisfy this cruel point
of honour; and there, without the possibility of annoying the enemy,
they were mowed down! The loss of the Danes, including prisoners,
amounted to about six thousand. The negotiations, meantime, went on; and
it was agreed that Nelson should have an interview with the prince the
following day. Hardy and Freemantle landed with him. This was a thing as
unexampled as the other circumstances of the battle. A strong guard was
appointed to escort him to the palace, as much for the purpose of
security as of honour. The populace, according to the British account,
showed a mixture of admiration, curiosity, and displeasure, at beholding
that man in the midst of them who had inflicted such wounds upon
Denmark. But there were neither acclamations nor murmurs. "The people,"
says a Dane, "did not degrade themselves with the former, nor disgrace
themselves with the latter: the admiral was received as one brave enemy
ever ought to receive another--he was received with respect." The
preliminaries of the negotiation were adjusted at this interview. During
the repast which followed, Nelson, with all the sincerity of his
character, bore willing testimony to the valour of his foes. He told the
prince that he had been in a hundred and five engagements, but that this
was the most tremendous of all. "The French," he said, "fought bravely;
but they could not have stood for one hour the fight which the Danes had
supported for four." He requested that Villemoes might be introduced to
him; and, shaking hands with the youth, told the prince that he ought
to be made an admiral. The prince replied: "If, my lord, I am to make
all my brave officers admirals, I should have no captains or lieutenants
in my service."

The sympathy of the Danes for their countrymen who had bled in their
defence, was not weakened by distance of time or place in this instance.
Things needful for the service, or the comfort of the wounded, were sent
in profusion to the hospitals, till the superintendents gave public
notice that they could receive no more. On the third day after the
action, the dead were buried in the naval churchyard: the ceremony was
made as public and as solemn as the occasion required; such a
procession had never before been seen in that, or perhaps in any other
city. A public monument was erected upon the spot where the slain were
gathered together. A subscription was opened on the day of the funeral
for the relief of the sufferers, and collections in aid of it made
throughout all the churches in the kingdom. This appeal to the feelings
of the people was made with circumstances which gave it full effect. A
monument was raised in the midst of the church, surmounted by the Danish
colours: young maidens, dressed in white, stood round it, with either
one who had been wounded in the battle, or the widow and orphans of some
one who had fallen: a suitable oration was delivered from the pulpit,
and patriotic hymns and songs were afterwards performed. Medals were
distributed to all the officers, and to the men who had distinguished
themselves. Poets and painters vied with each other in celebrating a
battle which, disastrous as it was, had yet been honourable to their
country: some, with pardonable sophistry, represented the advantage of
the day as on their own side. One writer discovered a more curious, but
less disputable ground of satisfaction, in the reflection that Nelson,
as may be inferred from his name, was of Danish descent, and his actions
therefore, the Dane argued, were attributable to Danish valour.

The negotiation was continued during the five following days; and in
that interval the prizes were disposed of, in a manner which was little
approved by Nelson. Six line-of-battle ships and eight praams had been
taken. Of these the HOLSTEIN, sixty-four, was the only one which was
sent home. The ZEALAND was a finer ship; but the ZEALAND and all the
others were burned, and their brass battering cannon sunk with the hulls
in such shoal water, that, when the fleet returned from Revel, they
found the Danes, with craft over the wrecks, employed in getting the
guns up again. Nelson, though he forbore from any public expression of
displeasure at seeing the proofs and trophies of his victory destroyed,
did not forget to represent to the Admiralty the case of those who were
thus deprived of their prize-money. "Whether," said he to Earl St.
Vincent, "Sir Hyde Parker may mention the subject to you, I know not;
for he is rich, and does not want it: nor is it, you will believe me,
any desire to get a few hundred pounds that actuates me to address this
letter to you; but justice to the brave officers and men who fought on
that day. It is true our opponents were in hulks and floats, only
adapted for the position they were in; but that made our battle so much
the harder, and victory so much the more difficult to obtain. Believe
me, I have weighed all circumstances; and, in my conscience, I think
that the king should send a gracious message to the House of Commons for
a gift to this fleet; for what must be the natural feelings of the
officers and men belonging to it, to see their rich commander-in-chief
burn all the fruits of their victory, which, if fitted up and sent to
England (as many of them might have been by dismantling part of our
fleet), would have sold for a good round sum."

On the 9th, Nelson landed again, to conclude the terms of the
armistice. During its continuance the armed ships and vessels of Denmark
were to remain in their actual situation, as to armament, equipment, and
hostile position; and the treaty of armed neutrality, as far as related
to the co-operation of Denmark, was suspended. The prisoners were to be
sent on shore; an acknowledgment being given for them, and for the
wounded also, that: they might be carried to Great Britain's credit in
the account of war, in case hostilities should be renewed. The British
fleet was allowed to provide itself with all things requisite for the
health and comfort of its men. A difficulty arose respecting the
duration of the armistice. The Danish commissioners fairly stated their
fears of Russia; and Nelson, with that frankness which sound policy and
the sense of power seem often to require as well as justify in
diplomacy, told them his reason for demanding a long term was, that he
might have time to act against the Russian fleet, and then return to
Copenhagen. Neither party would yield upon this point; and one of the
Danes hinted at the renewal of hostilities. "Renew hostilities!" cried
Nelson to one of his friends--for he understood French enough to
comprehend what was said, though not to answer it in the same language
--"tell him we are ready at a moment! ready to bombard this very night!"
The conference, however, proceeded amicably on both sides; and as the
commissioners could not agree on this head, they broke up, leaving
Nelson to settle it with the prince. A levee was held forthwith in one
of the state-rooms, a scene well suited for such a consultation; for all
these rooms had been stripped of their furniture, in fear of a
bombardment. To a bombardment also Nelson was looking at this time:
fatigue and anxiety, and vexation at the dilatory measures of the
commander-in-chief, combined to make him irritable; and as he was on
his way to the prince's dining-room, he whispered to the officer on
whose arm he was leaning, "Though I have only one eye, I can see that
all this will burn well." After dinner he was closeted with the prince;
and they agreed that the armistice should continue fourteen weeks; and
that, at its termination, fourteen days' notice should be given before
the recommencement of hostilities.

An official account of the battle was published by Olfert Fischer,
the Danish commander-in-chief in which it was asserted that our force
was greatly superior; nevertheless, that two of our ships of the line
had struck; that the others were so weakened, and especially Lord
Nelson's own ship, as to fire only single shots for an hour before the
end of the action; and that this hero himself, in the middle and very
heat of the conflict, sent a flag of truce on shore, to propose a
cessation of hostilities. For the truth of this account the Dane
appealed to the prince, and all those who, like him, had been
eyewitnesses of the scene. Nelson was exceedingly indignant at such a
statement, and addressed a letter in confutation of it to the Adjutant-
General Lindholm; thinking this incumbent on him for the information of
the prince, since His Royal Highness had been appealed to as a witness:
"Otherwise," said he, "had Commodore Fischer confined himself to his own
veracity, I should have treated his official letter with the contempt it
deserved, and allowed the world to appreciate the merits of the two
commanding officers." After pointing out and detecting some of the
misstatements in the account, he proceeds: "As to his nonsense about
victory, His Royal Highness will not much credit him. I sunk, burnt,
captured, or drove into the harbour, the whole line of defence to the
southward of the Crown Islands. He says he is told that two British
ships struck. Why did he not take possession of them? I took possession
of his as fast as they struck. The reason is clear, that he did not
believe it: he must have known the falsity of the report. He states that
the ship in which I had the honour to hoist my flag fired latterly only
single guns. It is true; for steady and cool were my brave fellows, and
did not wish to throw away a single shot. He seems to exult that I sent
on shore a flag of truce. You know, and His Royal Highness knows, that
the guns fired from the shore could only fire through the Danish ships
which had surrendered; and that, if I fired at the shore, it could only
be in the same manner. God forbid that I should destroy an unresisting
Dane! When they become my prisoners, I become their protector."

This letter was written in terms of great asperity to the Danish
commander. Lindholm replied in a manner every way honourable to himself.
He vindicated the commodore in some points, and excused him in others;
reminding Nelson that every commander-in-chief was liable to receive
incorrect reports. With a natural desire to represent the action in the
most favourable light to Denmark, he took into the comparative strength
of the two parties the ships which were aground, and which could not get
into action; and omitted the Trekroner and the batteries upon Amak
Island. He disclaimed all idea of claiming as a victory, "what, to every
intent and purpose," said he, "was a defeat--but not an inglorious one.
As to your lordship's motive for sending a flag of truce, it never can
be misconstrued and your subsequent conduct has sufficiently shown that
humanity is always the companion of true valour. You have done more: you
have shown yourself a friend to the re-establishment of peace and good
harmony between this country and Great Britain. It is, therefore, with
the sincerest esteem I shall always feel myself attached to your
lordship." Thus handsomely winding up his reply, he soothed and
contented Nelson; who drawing up a memorandum of the comparative force
of the two parties for his own satisfaction, assured Lindholm that, if
the commodore's statement had been in the same manly and honourable
strain, he would have been the last man to have noticed any little
inaccuracies which might get into a commander-in-chiefs public letter.

For the battle of Copenhagen Nelson was raised to the rank of
viscount--an inadequate mark of reward for services so splendid, and of
such paramount importance to the dearest interests of England. There
was, however, some prudence in dealing out honours to him step by step:
had he lived long enough, he would have fought his way up to a dukedom.


1801 - 1805

Sir Hyde Parker is recalled and Nelson appointed Commander--
He goes to Revel--Settlement of Affairs in the Baltic--Un-
successful Attempt upon the Flotilla at Boulogne--Peace of
Amiens--Nelson takes Command in the Mediterranean on the
Renewal of the War--Escape of the Toulon Fleet--Nelson
chases them to the West Indies and back--Delivers up his
Squadron to Admiral Cornwallis and lands in England.


WHEN Nelson informed Earl St. Vincent that the armistice had been
concluded, he told him also, without reserve, his own discontent at the
dilatoriness and indecision which he witnessed, and could not remedy.
"No man," said he, "but those who are on the spot, can tell what I have
gone through, and do suffer. I make no scruple in saying, that I would
have been at Revel fourteen days ago! that, without this armistice, the
fleet would never have gone, but by order of the Admiralty; and with it,
I daresay, we shall not go this week. I wanted Sir Hyde to let me, at
least, go and cruise off Carlscrona, to prevent the Revel ships from
getting in. I said I would not go to Revel to take any of those laurels
which I was sure he would reap there. Think for me, my dear lord: and
if I have deserved well, let me return; if ill, for Heaven's sake
supersede me, for I cannot exist in this state."

Fatigue, incessant anxiety, and a climate little suited to one of a
tender constitution, which had now for many years been accustomed to
more genial latitudes, made him at this time seriously determine upon
returning home. "If the northern business were not settled," he
said,"they must send more admirals; for the keen air of the north had
cut him to the heart." He felt the want of activity and decision in the
commander-in-chief more keenly; and this affected his spirits, and,
consequently, his health, more than the inclemency of the Baltic. Soon
after the armistice was signed, Sir Hyde proceeded to the eastward with
such ships as were fit for service, leaving Nelson to follow with the
rest, as soon as those which had received slight damages should be
repaired, and the rest sent to England. In passing between the isles of
Amak and Saltholm, most of the ships touched the ground, and some of
them stuck fast for a while: no serious injury, however, was sustained.
It was intended to act against the Russians first, before the breaking
up of the frost should enable them to leave Revel; but learning on the
way that the Swedes had put to sea to effect a junction with them, Sir
Hyde altered his course, in hopes of intercepting this part of the
enemy's force. Nelson had, at this time, provided for the more pressing
emergencies of the service, and prepared on the 18th to follow the
fleet. The ST. GEORGE drew too much water to pass the channel between
the isles without being lightened; the guns were therefore taken out,
and put on board an American vessel; a contrary wind, however, prevented
Nelson from moving; and on that same evening, while he was thus delayed,
information reached him of the relative situation of the Swedish and
British fleets, and the probability of an action. The fleet was nearly
ten leagues distant, and both wind and current contrary, but it was not
possible that Nelson could wait for a favourable season under such an
expectation. He ordered his boat immediately, and stepped into it.
Night was setting in, one of the cold spring nights of the north; and it
was discovered, soon after they left the ship, that in their haste they
had forgotten to provide him with a boat-cloak. He, however, forbade
them to return for one; and when one of his companions offered his own
great-coat, and urged him to make use of it, he replied, "I thank you
very much; but, to tell you the truth, my anxiety keeps me sufficiently
warm at present."

"Do you think," said he presently,"that our fleet has quitted
Bornholm? If it has, we must follow it to Carlscrona." About midnight
he reached it, and once more got on board the ELEPHANT. On the following
morning the Swedes were discovered; as soon, however, as they perceived
the English approaching, they retired, and took shelter in Carlscrona,
behind the batteries on the island, at the entrance of that port. Sir
Hyde sent in a flag of truce, stating that Denmark had concluded an
armistice, and requiring an explicit declaration from the court of
Sweden, whether it would adhere to or abandon the hostile measures which
it had taken against the rights and interests of Great Britain? The
commander, Vice-Admiral Cronstadt, replied, "That he could not answer a
question which did not come within the particular circle of his duty;
but that the king was then at Maloe, and would soon be at Carlscrona."
Gustavus shortly afterwards arrived, and an answer was then returned to
this effect: "That his Swedish majesty would not, for a moment, fail to
fulfil, with fidelity and sincerity, the engagements he had entered into
with his allies; but he would not refuse to listen to equitable
proposals made by deputies furnished with proper authority by the King
of Great Britain to the united northern powers." Satisfied with this
answer, and with the known disposition of the Swedish court, Sir Hyde
sailed for the Gulf of Finland; but he had not proceeded far before a
despatch boat from the Russian ambassador at Copenhagen arrived,
bringing intelligence of the death of the Emperor Paul, and that his
successor Alexander had accepted the offer made by England to his father
of terminating the dispute by a convention: the British admiral was,
therefore, required to desist from all further hostilities.

It was Nelson's maxim, that, to negotiate with effect, force should
be at hand, and in a situation to act. The fleet, having been
reinforced from England, amounted to eighteen sail of the line, and the
wind was fair for Revel. There he would have sailed immediately to place
himself between that division of the Russian fleet and the squadron at
Cronstadt, in case this offer should prove insincere. Sir Hyde, on the
other hand, believed that the death of Paul had effected all which was
necessary. The manner of that death, indeed, rendered it apparent that a
change of policy would take place in the cabinet of Petersburgh; but
Nelson never trusted anything to the uncertain events of time, which
could possibly be secured by promptitude or resolution. It was not,
therefore, without severe mortification, that he saw the commander-in-
chief return to the coast of Zealand, and anchor in Kioge Bay, there to
wait patiently for what might happen.

There the fleet remained till dispatches arrived from home, on the
5th of May, recalling Sir Hyde, and appointing Nelson commander-in-

Nelson wrote to Earl St. Vincent that he was unable to hold this
honourable station. Admiral Graves also was so ill as to be confined to
his bed; and he entreated that some person might come out and take the
command. "I will endeavour," said he, "to do my best while I remain;
but, my dear lord, I shall either soon go to heaven, I hope, or must
rest quiet for a time. If Sir Hyde were gone, I would now be under
sail." On the day when this was written, he received news of his
appointment. Not a moment was now lost. His first signal, as commander-
in-chief, was to hoist in all launches and prepare to weigh; and on the
7th he sailed from Kioge. Part of his fleet was left at Bornholm, to
watch the Swedes, from whom he required and obtained an assurance that
the British trade in the Cattegat and in the Baltic should not be
molested; and saying how unpleasant it would be to him if anything
should happen which might for a moment disturb the returning harmony
between Sweden and Great Britain, he apprised them that he was not
directed to abstain from hostilities should he meet with the Swedish
fleet at sea. Meantime he himself; with ten sail of the line, two
frigates, a brig, and a schooner, made for the Gulf of Finland. Paul, in
one of the freaks of his tyranny, had seized upon all the British
effects in Russia, and even considered British subjects as his
prisoners. "I will have all the English shipping and property restored,"
said Nelson, "but I will do nothing violently, neither commit the
affairs of my country, nor suffer Russia to mix the affairs of Denmark
or Sweden with the detention of our ships." The wind was fair, and
carried him in four days to Revel Roads. But the Bay had been clear of
firm ice on the 29th of April, while the English were lying idly at
Kioge. The Russians had cut through the ice in the mole six feet thick,
and their whole squadron had sailed for Cronstadt on the 3rd. Before
that time it had lain at the mercy of the English. "Nothing," Nelson
said, "if it had been right to make the attack, could have saved one ship
of them in two hours after our entering the bay."

It so happened that there was no cause to regret the opportunity
which had been lost, and Nelson immediately put the intentions of Russia
to the proof. He sent on shore, to say that he came with friendly views,
and was ready to return a salute. On their part the salute was delayed,
till a message was sent to them to inquire for what reason; and the
officer whose neglect had occasioned the delay, was put under arrest.
Nelson wrote to the emperor, proposing to wait on him personally and
congratulate him on his accession, and urged the immediate release of
British subjects, and restoration of British property.

The answer arrived on the 16th: Nelson, meantime, had exchanged
visits with the governor, and the most friendly intercourse had
subsisted between the ships and the shore. Alexander's ministers, in
their reply, expressed their surprise at the arrival of a British
fleet in a Russian port, and their wish that it should return: they
professed, on the part of Russia, the most friendly disposition towards
Great Britain; but declined the personal visit of Lord Nelson, unless
he came in a single ship. There was a suspicion implied in this which
stung Nelson; and he said the Russian ministers would never have
written thus if their fleet had been at Revel. He wrote an immediate
reply, expressing what he felt; he told the court of Petersburgh,
"That the word of a British admiral, when given in explanation of any
part of his conduct, was as sacred as that of any sovereign's in
Europe." And he repeated, "that, under other circumstances, it would
have been his anxious wish to have paid his personal respects to the
emperor, and signed with his own hand the act of amity between the two
countries." Having despatched this, he stood out to sea immediately,
leaving a brig to bring off the provisions which had been contracted
for, and to settle the accounts. "I hope all is right," said he,
writing to our ambassador at Berlin; "but seamen are but bad
negotiators; for we put to issue in five minutes what diplomatic
forms would be five months doing."

On his way down the Baltic, however, he met the Russian admiral,
Tchitchagof, whom the emperor, in reply to Sir Hyde's overtures, had
sent to communicate personally with the British commander-in-chief.
The reply was such as had been wished and expected; and these
negotiators going, seamen-like, straight to their object, satisfied
each other of the friendly intentions of their respective governments.
Nelson then anchored off Rostock; and there he received an answer to
his last despatch from Revel, in which the Russian court expressed
their regret that there should have been any misconception between
them; informed him that the British vessels which Paul had detained
were ordered to be liberated, and invited him to Petersburgh, in
whatever mode might be most agreeable to himself. Other honours awaited
him: the Duke of Mecklenburgh Strelitz, the queen's brother, came to
visit him on board his ship; and towns of the inland parts of
Mecklenburgh sent deputations, with their public books of record,
that they might have the name of Nelson in them written by his
own hand.

From Rostock the fleet returned to Kioge Bay. Nelson saw that the
temper of the Danes towards England was such as naturally arose from the
chastisement which they had so recently received. "In this nation," said
he, "we shall not be forgiven for having the upper hand of them: I only
thank God we have, or they would try to humble us to the dust." He saw
also that the Danish cabinet was completely subservient to France: a
French officer was at this time the companion and counsellor of the
Crown Prince; and things were done in such open violation of the
armistice, that Nelson thought a second infliction of vengeance would
soon be necessary. He wrote to the Admiralty, requesting a clear and
explicit reply to his inquiry, Whether the commander-in-chief was at
liberty to hold the language becoming a British admiral? "Which, very
probably," said he, "if I am here, will break the armistice, and set
Copenhagen in a blaze. I see everything which is dirty and mean going
on, and the Prince Royal at the head of it. Ships have been masted, guns
taken on board, floating batteries prepared, and except hauling out and
completing their rigging, everything is done in defiance of the treaty.
My heart burns at seeing the word of a prince, nearly allied to our good
king, so falsified; but his conduct is such, that he will lose his
kingdom if he goes on; for Jacobins rule in Denmark. I have made no
representations yet, as it would be useless to do so until I have the
power of correction. All I beg, in the name of the future commander-in-
chief, is, that the orders may be clear; for enough is done to break
twenty treaties, if it should be wished, or to make the Prince Royal
humble himself before British generosity."

Nelson was not deceived in his judgment of the Danish cabinet, but
the battle of Copenhagen had crippled its power. The death of the Czar
Paul had broken the confederacy; and that cabinet, therefore, was
compelled to defer till a more convenient season the indulgence of its
enmity towards Great Britain. Soon afterwards Admiral Sir Charles
Maurice Pole arrived to take the command. The business, military and
political, had by that time been so far completed that the presence of
the British fleet soon became no longer necessary. Sir Charles, however,
made the short time of his command memorable, by passing the Great Belt
for the first time with line-of-battle ships, working through the
channel against adverse winds. When Nelson left the fleet, this speedy
termination of the expedition, though confidently expected, was not
certain; and he, in his unwillingness to weaken the British force,
thought at one time of traversing Jutland in his boat, by the canal to
Tonningen on the Eyder and finding his way home from thence. This
intention was not executed; but he returned in a brig, declining
to accept a frigate, which few admirals would have done, especially if,
like him, they suffered from sea-sickness in a small vessel. On his
arrival at Yarmouth, the first thing he did was to visit the hospital
and see the men who had been wounded in the late battle--that victory
which had added new glory to the name of Nelson, and which was of more
importance even than the battle of the Nile to the honour, the strength,
and security of England.

The feelings of Nelson's friends, upon the news of his great victory
at Copenhagen, were highly described by Sir William Hamilton in a letter
to him. "We can only expect," he says, "what me know well, and often
said before, that Nelson WAS, IS, and to the LAST WILL EVER BE, THE
FIRST. Emma did not know whether she was on her head or heels--in such
a hurry to tell your great news, that she could utter nothing but tears
of joy and tenderness. I went to Davison, and found him still in bed,
having had a severe fit of the gout, and with your letter, which he had
just received; and he cried like a child; but, what was very extraordin-
ary, assured me that, from the instant he had read your letter, all pain
had left him, and that he felt himself able to get up and walk about.
Your brother, Mrs. Nelson, and Horace dined with us. Your brother was
more extraordinary than ever. He would get up suddenly and cut a caper,
rubbing his hands every time that the thought of your fresh laurels came
into his head. But I am sure that no one really rejoiced more at heart
than I did. I have lived too long to have ecstasies! But with calm
reflection, I felt for my friend having got to the very summit of glory!
the NE PLUS ULTRA! that he has had another opportunity of rendering his
country the most important service, and manifesting again his judgment,
his intrepidity, and his humanity."

He had not been many weeks on shore before he was called upon to
undertake a service, for which no Nelson was required. Buonaparte, who
was now first consul, and in reality sole ruler of France, was making
preparations, upon a great scale, for invading England; but his schemes
in the Baltic had been baffled; fleets could not be created as they were
wanted; and his armies, therefore, were to come over in gun-boats, and
such small craft as could be rapidly built or collected for the
occasion. From the former governments of France such threats have only
been matter of insult and policy: in Buonaparte they were sincere; for
this adventurer, intoxicated with success, already began to imagine that
all things were to be submitted to his fortune. We had not at that time
proved the superiority of our soldiers over the French; and the
unreflecting multitude were not to be persuaded that an invasion could
only be effected by numerous and powerful fleets. A general alarm was
excited; and, in condescension to this unworthy feeling, Nelson was
appointed to a command, extending from Orfordness to Beachy Head, on
both shores--a sort of service, he said, for which he felt no other
ability than what might be found in his zeal.

To this service, however, such as it was, he applied with his wonted
alacrity; though in no cheerful frame of mind. To Lady Hamilton, his
only female correspondent, he says at this time; "I am not in very good
spirits; and, except that our country demands all our services and
abilities to bring about an honourable peace, nothing should prevent my
being the bearer of my own letter. But, my dear friend, I know you are
so true and loyal an Englishwoman, that you would hate those who would
not stand forth in defence of our king, laws, religion, and all that is
dear to us. It is your sex that makes us go forth, and seem to tell us,
"None but the brave deserve the fair"; and if we fall, we still live in
the hearts of those females. It is your sex that rewards us; it is your
sex who cherish our memories; and you, my dear honoured friend, are,
believe me, the first, the best of your sex. I have been the world
around, and in every corner of it, and never yet saw your equal, or even
one who could be put in comparison with you. You know how to reward
virtue, honour, and courage, and never to ask if it is placed in a
prince, duke, lord, or peasant." Having hoisted his flag in the MEDUSA
frigate, he went to reconnoitre Boulogne the point from which it was
supposed the great attempt would be made, and which the French, in fear
of an attack themselves, were fortifying with all care. He approached
near enough to sink two of their floating batteries, and to destroy a
few gun-boats which were without the pier. What damage was done within
could not be ascertained. "Boulogne," he said, "was certainly not a very
pleasant place that morning; but," he added, "it is not my wish to
injure the poor inhabitants; and the town is spared as much as the
nature of the service will admit." Enough was done to show the enemy
that they could not, with impunity, come outside their own ports. Nelson
was satisfied by what he saw, that they meant to make an attempt from
this place, but that it was impracticable; for the least wind at W.N.W.
and they were lost. The ports of Flushing and Flanders were better
points: there we could not tell by our eyes what means of transport were
provided. From thence, therefore, if it came forth at all, the
expedition would come. "And what a forlorn undertaking!" said he:
"consider cross tides, &c. As for rowing, that is impossible. It Is
perfectly right to be prepared for a mad government; but with the active
force which has been given me, I may pronounce it almost impracticable."

That force had been got together with an alacrity which has seldom
been equalled. On the 28th of July, we were, in Nelson's own words,
literally at the foundation of our fabric of defence, and twelve days
afterwards we were so prepared on the enemy's coast that he did not
believe they could get three miles from their ports. The MEDUSA,
returning to our own shores, anchored in the rolling ground off Harwich;
and when Nelson wished to get to the Nore in her, the wind rendered it
impossible to proceed there by the usual channel. In haste to be at the
Nore, remembering that he had been a tolerable pilot for the mouth of
the Thames in his younger days, and thinking it necessary that he should
know all that could be known of the navigation, he requested the
maritime surveyor of the coast, Mr. Spence, to get him into the Swin by
any channel; for neither the pilots which he had on board, nor the
Harwich ones, would take charge of the ship. No vessel drawing more than
fourteen feet had ever before ventured over the Naze. Mr. Spence,
however, who had surveyed the channel, carried her safely through. The
channel has since been called Nelson's, though he himself wished it to
be named after the MEDUSA: his name needed no new memorial.

Nelson's eye was upon Flushing. "To take possession of that place,"
he said, "would be a week's expedition for four or five thousand
troops." This, however, required a consultation with the Admiralty; and
that something might be done, meantime he resolved upon attacking the
flotilla in the mouth of the Boulogne harbour. This resolution was made
in deference to the opinion of others, and to the public feeling, which
was so preposterously excited. He himself scrupled not to assert that
the French army would never embark at Boulogne for the invasion of
England; and he owned that this boat warfare was not exactly congenial
to his feelings. Into Helvoet or Flushing he should be happy to lead, if
Government turned their thoughts that way. "While I serve," said he, "I
will do it actively, and to the very best of my abilities. I require
nursing like a child," he added; "my mind carries me beyond my strength,
and will do me up; but such is my nature."

The attack was made by the boats of the squadron in five divisions,
under Captains Somerville, Parker, Cotgrave, Jones, and Conn. The
previous essay had taught the French the weak parts of their position;
and they omitted no means of strengthening it, and of guarding against
the expected attempt. The boats put off about half-an-hour before
midnight; but, owing to the darkness, and tide and half-tide, which
must always make night attacks so uncertain on the coasts of the
Channel, the divisions separated. One could not arrive at all; another
not till near daybreak. The others made their attack gallantly; but
the enemy were fully prepared: every vessel was defended by long poles,
headed with iron spikes, projecting from their sides: strong nettings
were braced up to their lower yards; they were moored by the bottom to
the shore, they were strongly manned with soldiers, and protected by
land batteries, and the shore was lined with troops. Many were taken
possession of; and, though they could not have been brought out, would
have been burned, had not the French resorted to a mode of offence,
which they have often used, but which no other people have ever been
wicked enough to employ. The moment the firing ceased on board one of
their own vessels they fired upon it from the shore, perfectly
regardless of their own men.

The commander of one of the French divisions acted like a generous
enemy. He hailed the boats as they approached, and cried out in English:
"Let me advise you, my brave Englishmen, to keep your distance: you can
do nothing here; and it is only uselessly shedding the blood of brave
men to make the attempt." The French official account boasted of the
victory. "The combat," it said, "took place in sight of both countries;
it was the first of the kind, and the historian would have cause to make
this remark." They guessed our loss at four or five hundred; it
amounted to one hundred and seventy-two. In his private letters to the
Admiralty, Nelson affirmed, that had our force arrived as he intended,
it was not all the chains in France which could have prevented our men
from bringing off the whole of the vessels. There had been no error
committed, and never did Englishmen display more courage. Upon this
point Nelson was fully satisfied; but he said he should never bring
himself again to allow any attack wherein he was not personally
concerned; and that his mind suffered more than if he had had a leg shot
off in the affair. He grieved particularly for Captain Parker, an
excellent officer, to whom he was greatly attached, and who had an aged
father looking to him for assistance. His thigh was shattered in the
action; and the wound proved mortal, after some weeks of suffering and
manly resignation. During this interval, Nelson's anxiety was very
great. "Dear Parker is my child," said he; "for I found him in
distress." And when he received the tidings of his death, he replied:
"You will judge of my feelings: God's will be done. I beg that his hair
may be cut off and given me; it shall be buried in my grave. Poor Mr.
Parker! What a son has he lost! If I were to say I was content, I
should lie; but I shall endeavour to submit with all the fortitude in
my power. His loss has made a wound in my heart, which time will
hardly heal."

"You ask me, my dear friend," he says to Lady Hamilton, "if I am
going on more expeditions? and even if I was to forfeit your friendship,
which is dearer to me than all the world, I can tell you nothing. For, I
go out: I see the enemy, and can get at them, it is my duty: and you
would naturally hate me, if I kept back one moment. I long to pay them
for their tricks t'other day, the debt of a drubbing, which surely I'll
pay: but WHEN, WHERE or HOW, it is impossible, your own good sense must
tell you, for me or mortal man to say." Yet he now wished to be
relieved from this service. The country, he said, had attached a
confidence to his name, which he had submitted to, and therefore had
cheerfully repaired to the station; but this boat business, though it
might be part of a great plan of invasion, could never be the only one,
and he did not think it was a command for a vice-admiral. It was not
that he wanted a more lucrative situation; for, seriously indisposed as
he was, and low-spirited from private considerations, he did not know,
if the Mediterranean were vacant, that he should be equal to undertake
it. He was offended with the Admiralty for refusing him leave to go to
town when he had solicited: in reply to a friendly letter from
Troubridge he says, "I am at this moment as firmly of opinion as ever,
that Lord St. Vincent and yourself should have allowed of my coming to
town for my own affairs, for every one knows I left it without a thought
for myself."

His letters at this time breathe an angry feeling toward Troubridge,
who was now become, he said, one of his lords and masters. "I have a
letter from him," he says, "recommending me to wear flannel shirts.
Does he care for me? NO: but never mind. They shall work hard to get me
again. The cold has settled in my bowels. I wish the Admiralty had my
complaint: but they have no bowels, at least for me. I daresay
Master Troubridge is grown fat; I know I am grown lean with my
complaint, which, but for their indifference about my health, could
never have happened; or, at least, I should have got well long ago in a
warm room with a good fire and sincere friend." In the same tone of
bitterness he complained that he was not able to promote those whom he
thought deserving. "Troubridge," he says, "has so completely prevented
my ever mentioning anybody's service, that I am become a cipher, and he
has gained a victory over Nelson's spirit. I am kept here, for what?--he
may be able to tell, I cannot. But long it cannot, shall not be." An end
was put to this uncomfortable state of mind when, fortunately (on that
account) for him, as well as happily for the nation, the peace of Amiens
was just at this time signed. Nelson rejoiced that the experiment was
made, but was well aware that it was an experiment. He saw what he
called the misery of peace, unless the utmost vigilance and prudence
were exerted; and he expressed, in bitter terms, his proper indignation
at the manner in which the mob of London welcomed the French general who
brought the ratification saying, "that they made him ashamed of his

He had purchased a house and estate at Merton, in Surrey, meaning to
pass his days there in the society of Sir William and Lady Hamilton. He
had indulged in pleasant dreams when looking on to this as his place of
residence and rest. "To be sure," he says, "we shall employ the
tradespeople of our village in preference to any others in what we want
for common use, and give them every encouragement to be kind and
attentive to us." "Have we a nice church at Merton? We will set an
example of goodness to the under-parishioners. I admire the pigs and
poultry. Sheep are certainly most beneficial to eat off the grass. Do
you get paid for them, and take care that they are kept on the premises
all night, for that is the time they do good to the land. They should be
folded. Is your head-man a good person, and true to our interest? I
intend to have a farming-book. I expect that all animals will increase
where you are, for I never expect that you will suffer any to be killed.
No person can take amiss our not visiting. The answer from me will
always be very civil thanks, but that I wish to live retired. We shall
have our sea-friends; and I know Sir William thinks they are the best."
This place he had never seen till he was now welcomed there by the
friends to whom he had so passionately devoted himself, and who were not
less sincerely attached to him. The place, and everything which Lady
Hamilton had done to it, delighted him; and he declared that the longest
liver should possess it all. Here he amused himself with angling in the
Wandle, having been a good fly-fisher in former days, and learning now
to practise with his left hand what he could no longer pursue as a
solitary diversion. His pensions for his victories, and for the loss of
his eye and arm, amounted with his half-pay to about L3400 a-year. From
this he gave L1800 to Lady Nelson, L200 to a brother's widow, and L150
for the education of his children; and he paid L500 interest for
borrowed money; so that Nelson was comparatively a poor man; and though
much of the pecuniary embarrassment which he endured was occasioned by
the separation from his wife--even if that cause had not existed, his
income would not have been sufficient for the rank which he held, and
the claims which would necessarily be made upon his bounty. The
depression of spirits under which he had long laboured arose partly from
this state of his circumstances, and partly from the other disquietudes
in which his connection with Lady Hamilton had involved him--a
connection which it was not possible his father could behold without
sorrow and displeasure. Mr. Nelson, however, was soon persuaded that the
attachment, which Lady Nelson regarded with natural jealousy and
resentment, did not in reality pass the bounds of ardent and romantic
admiration: a passion which the manners and accomplishments of Lady
Hamilton, fascinating as they were, would not have been able to excite,
if they had not been accompanied by more uncommon intellectual
endowments, and by a character which, both in its strength and in its
weakness, resembled his own. It did not, therefore, require much
explanation to reconcile him to his son--an event the more essential to
Nelson's happiness, because, a few months afterwards, the good old man
died at the age of seventy-nine.

Soon after the conclusion of peace, tidings arrived of our final and
decisive successes in Egypt; in consequence of which, the common council
voted their thanks to the army and navy for bringing the campaign to so
glorious a conclusion. When Nelson, after the action of Cape St.
Vincent, had been entertained at a city feast, he had observed to the
lord mayor, "that, if the city continued its generosity, the navy would
ruin them in gifts." To which the lord mayor replied, putting his hand
upon the admiral's shoulder: "Do you find victories and we will find
rewards." Nelson, as he said, had kept his word, had doubly fulfilled
his part of the contract, but no thanks had been voted for the battle of
Copenhagen; and feeling that he and his companions in that day's glory
had a fair and honourable claim to this reward, he took the present
opportunity of addressing a letter to the lord mayor, complaining of the
omission and the injustice. "The smallest services," said he, "rendered
by the army or navy to the country, have always been noticed by the
great city of London with one exception--the glorious 2nd of April--a
day when the greatest dangers of navigation were overcome; and the
Danish force, which they thought impregnable, totally taken or
destroyed, by the consummate skill of our commanders, and by the
undaunted bravery of as gallant a band as ever defended the rights of
this country. For myself, if I were only personally concerned, I should
bear the stigma, attempted to be now first placed upon my brow, with
humility. But, my lord, I am the natural guardian of the fame of all the
officers of the navy, army, and marines who fought, and so profusely
bled, under my command on that day. Again I disclaim for myself more
merit than naturally falls to a successful commander; but when I am
called upon to speak of the merits of the captains of his Majesty's
ships, and of the officers and men, whether seamen, marines, or
soldiers, whom I that day had the happiness to command, I then say, that
never was the glory of this country upheld with more determined bravery
than on that occasion: and if I may be allowed to give an opinion as a
Briton, then I say, that more important service was never rendered to
our king and country. It is my duty, my lord, to prove to the brave
fellows, my companions in danger, that I have not failed at every
proper place to represent, as well as I am able, their bravery and
meritorious conduct."

Another honour, of greater import, was withheld from the conquerors.
The king had given medals to those captains who were engaged in the
battles of the 1st of June, of Cape St. Vincent, of Camperdown, and of
the Nile. Then came the victory at Copenhagen, which Nelson truly
called the most difficult achievement, the hardest-fought battle, the
most glorious result that ever graced the annals of our country. He, of
course, expected the medal; and in writing to Earl St. Vincent, said,
"He longed to have it, and would not give it up to be made an English
duke." The medal, however, was not given:--"For what reason," said
Nelson, "Lord St. Vincent best knows." Words plainly implying a
suspicion that it was withheld by some feeling of jealousy; and that
suspicion estranged him, during the remaining period of his life, from
one who had at one time been essentially, as well as sincerely, his
friend; and of whose professional abilities he ever entertained the
highest opinion.

The happiness which Nelson enjoyed in the society of his chosen
friends was of no long continuance. Sir William Hamilton, who was far
advanced in years, died early in 1803; a mild, amiable, and
accomplished man, who has thus in a letter described his own philosophy:
"My study of antiquities," he says, "has kept me in constant thought of
the perpetual fluctuation of everything. The whole art is really to live
all the DAYS of our life; and not with anxious care disturb the sweetest
hour that life affords--which is the present. Admire the Creator, and
all His works, to us incomprehensible; and do all the good you can upon
earth; and take the chance of eternity without dismay." He expired in
his wife's arms, holding Nelson by the hand; and almost in his last
words, left her to his protection; requesting him that he would see
justice done her by the government, as he knew what she had done for her
country. He left him her portrait in enamel, calling him his dearest
friend; the most virtuous, loyal, and truly brave character he had ever
known. The codicil, containing this bequest, concluded with these words,
"God bless him, and shame fall on those who do not say amen." Sir
William's pension of L1200 a year ceased with his death. Nelson applied
to Mr. Addington in Lady Hamilton's behalf, stating the important
service which she had rendered to the fleet at Syracuse; and Mr.
Addington, it is said, acknowledged that she had a just claim upon the
gratitude of the country. This barren acknowledgment was all that was
obtained; but a sum, equal to the pension which her husband had enjoyed,
was settled on her by Nelson, and paid in monthly payments during his
life. A few weeks after this event, the war was renewed; and the day
after his Majesty's message to Parliament, Nelson departed to take the
command of the Mediterranean fleet. The war he thought, could not be
long; just enough to make him independent in pecuniary matters.

He took his station immediately off Toulon; and there, with incessant
vigilance, waited for the coming out of the enemy. The expectation of
acquiring a competent fortune did not last long. "Somehow," he says,"my
mind is not sharp enough for prize-money. Lord Keith would have made
L20,000, and I have not made L6000." More than once he says that the
prizes taken in the Mediterranean had not paid his expenses; and once he
expresses himself as if it were a consolation to think that some ball
might soon close all his accounts with this world of care and vexation.
At this time the widow of his brother, being then blind and advanced in
years, was distressed for money, and about to sell her plate; he wrote
to Lady Hamilton, requesting of her to find out what her debts were, and
saying that, if the amount was within his power, he would certainly pay
it, and rather pinch himself than that she should want. Before he had
finished the letter, an account arrived that a sum was payable to him
for some neutral taken four years before, which enabled him to do this
without being the poorer; and he seems to have felt at the moment that
what was thus disposed of by a cheerful giver, shall be paid to him
again. One from whom he had looked for very different conduct, had
compared his own wealth, in no becoming manner, with Nelson's limited
means. "I know," said he to Lady Hamilton, "the full extent of the
obligation I owe him, and he may be useful to me again; but I can never
forget his unkindness to you. But, I guess many reasons influenced his
conduct in bragging of his riches and my honourable poverty; but, as I
have often said, and with honest pride, what I have is my own: it never
cost the widow a tear, or the nation a farthing. I got what I have with
my pure blood, from the enemies of my country. Our house, my own Emma,
is built upon a solid foundation; and will last to us, when his houses
and lands may belong to others than his children."

His hope was that peace might soon be made, or that he should be
relieved from his command, and retire to Merton, where at that distance
he was planning and directing improvements. On his birthday he writes,
"This day, my dearest Emma, I consider as more fortunate than common
days, as by my coming into this world it has brought me so intimately
acquainted with you. I well know that you will keep it, and have my dear
Horatio to drink my health. Forty-six years of toil and trouble! How few
more the common lot of mankind leads us to expect! and therefore it is
almost time to think of spending the few last years in peace and
quietness." It is painful to think that this language was not addressed
to his wife, but to one with whom he promised himself "many many happy
years, when that impediment," as he calls her, "shall be removed, if God
pleased; and they might be surrounded by their children's children."

When he had been fourteen months off Toulon, he received a vote of
thanks from the city of London for his skill and perseverance in
blockading that port, so as to prevent the French from putting to sea.
Nelson had not forgotten the wrong which the city had done to the Baltic
fleet by their omission, and did not lose the opportunity which this
vote afforded of recurring to that point. "I do assure your lordship,"
said he, in his answer to the lord mayor, "that there is not that man
breathing who sets a higher value upon the thanks of his fellow-citizens
of London than myself; but I should feel as much ashamed to receive them
for a particular service marked in the resolution, if I felt that I did
not come within that line of service, as I should feel hurt at having a
great victory passed over without notice. I beg to inform your lordship,
that the port of Toulon has never been blockaded by me; quite the
reverse. Every opportunity has been offered the enemy to put to sea;
for it is there that we hope to realise the hopes and expectations of
our country." Nelson then remarked that the junior flag-officers of his
fleet had been omitted in this vote of thanks; and his surprise at the
omission was expressed with more asperity, perhaps, than an offence so
entirely and manifestly unintentional deserved; but it arose from that
generous regard for the feelings as well as the interests of all who
were under his command, which made him as much beloved in the fleets of
Britain as he was dreaded in those of the enemy.

Never was any commander more beloved. He governed men by their reason
and their affections; they knew that he was incapable of caprice or
tyranny and they obeyed him with alacrity and joy, because he possessed
their confidence as well as their love. "Our Nel," they used to say, "is
as brave as a lion and as gentle as a lamb." Severe discipline he
detested, though he had been bred in a severe school. He never inflicted
corporal punishment if it were possible to avoid it; and when compelled
to enforce it, he, who was familiar with wounds and death, suffered like
a woman. In his whole life, Nelson was never known to act unkindly
towards an officer. If he was asked to prosecute one for ill behaviour,
he used to answer, "That there was no occasion for him to ruin a poor
devil who was sufficiently his own enemy to ruin himself." But in
Nelson there was more than the easiness and humanity of a happy nature:
he did not merely abstain from injury; his was an active and watchful
benevolence, ever desirous not only to render justice, but to do good.
During the peace he had spoken in parliament upon the abuses respecting
prize-money, and had submitted plans to government for more easily
manning the navy, and preventing desertion from it, by bettering the
condition of the seamen. He proposed that their certificates should be
registered, and that every man who had served, with a good character,
five years in war, should receive a bounty of two guineas annually after
that time, and of four guineas after eight years. "This," he said,
"might, at first sight, appear an enormous sum for the state to pay; but
the average life of seamen is, from hard service, finished at forty-
five. He cannot, therefore, enjoy the annuity many years, and the
interest of the money saved by their not deserting would go far to pay
the whole expense."

To his midshipmen he ever showed the most winning kindness,
encouraging the diffident, tempering the hasty, counselling and
befriending both. "Recollect," he used to say, "that you must be a
seaman to be an officer; and also that you cannot be a good officer
without being a gentleman." A lieutenant wrote to him to say that he was
dissatisfied with his captain. Nelson's answer was in that spirit of
perfect wisdom and perfect goodness which regulated his whole conduct
towards those who were under his command. "I have just received your
letter, and am truly sorry that any difference should arise between your
captain, who has the reputation of being one of the bright officers of
the service, and yourself, a very young man, and a very young officer,
who must naturally have much to learn; therefore the chance is that you
are perfectly wrong in the disagreement. However, as your present
situation must be very disagreeable, I will certainly take an early
opportunity of removing you, provided your conduct to your present
captain be such that another may not refuse to receive you." The
gentleness and benignity of his disposition never made him forget what
was due to discipline. Being on one occasion applied to, to save a young
officer from a court-martial, which he had provoked by his misconduct,
his reply was, "That he would do everything in his power to oblige so
gallant and good an officer as Sir John Warren," in whose name the
intercession had been made. "But what," he added, "would he do if he
were here? Exactly what I have done, and am still willing to do. The
young man must write such a letter of contrition as would be an
acknowledgment of his great fault; and with a sincere promise, if his
captain will intercede to prevent the impending court-martial, never to
so misbehave again. On his captain's enclosing me such a letter, with a
request to cancel the order for the trial, I might be induced to do it;
but the letters and reprimand will be given in the public order-book of
the fleet, and read to all the officers. The young man has pushed
himself forward to notice, and he must take the consequence. It was
upon the quarter-deck, in the face of the ship's company, that he
treated his captain with contempt; and I am in duty bound to support the
authority and consequence of every officer under my command. A poor
ignorant seaman is for ever punished for contempt to HIS superiors."

A dispute occurred in the fleet while it was off Toulon, which called
forth Nelson's zeal for the rights and interests of the navy. Some young
artillery officers, serving on board the bomb vessels, refused to let
their men perform any other duty but what related to the mortars. They
wished to have it established that their corps was not subject to the
captain's authority. The same pretensions were made in the Channel fleet
about the same time, and the artillery rested their claims to separate
and independent authority on board, upon a clause in the act, which they
interpreted in their favour. Nelson took up the subject with all the
earnestness which its importance deserved. "There is no real happiness
in this world," said he, writing to Earl St. Vincent, as first lord.
"With all content and smiles around me, up start these artillery boys (I
understand they are not beyond that age), and set us at defiance;
speaking in the most disrespectful manner of the navy and its
commanders. I know you, my dear lord, so well, that with your quickness
the matter would have been settled, and perhaps some of them been
broke. I am perhaps more patient, but I do assure you not less resolved,
if my plan of conciliation is not attended to. You and I are on the eve
of quitting the theatre of our exploits; but we hold it due to our
successors never, whilst we have a tongue to speak or a hand to write,
to allow the navy to be in the smallest degree injured in its discipline
by our conduct." To Troubridge he wrote in the same spirit: "It is the
old history, trying to do away the act of parliament; but I trust they
will never succeed; for when they do, farewell to our naval superiority.
We should be prettily commanded! Let them once gain the step of being
independent of the navy on board a ship, and they will soon have the
other, and command us. But, thank God! my dear Troubridge, the king
himself cannot do away the act of parliament. Although my career is
nearly run, yet it would embitter my future days, and expiring moments,
to hear of our navy being sacrificed to the army." As the surest way of
preventing such disputes, he suggested that the navy should have it's
own corps of artillery; and a corps of marine artillery was accordingly

Instead of lessening the power of the commander, Nelson would have
wished to see it increased: it was absolutely necessary, he thought,
that merit should be rewarded at the moment, and that the officers of
the fleet should look up to the commander-in-chief for their reward. He
himself was never more happy than when he could promote those who were
deserving of promotion. Many were the services which he thus rendered
unsolicited; and frequently the officer, in whose behalf he had
interested himself with the Admiralty, did not know to whose friendly
interference he was indebted for his good fortune. He used to say, "I
wish it to appear as a God-send." The love which he bore the navy made
him promote the interests, and honour the memory, of all who had added
to its glories. "The near relations of brother officers," he said, "he
considered as legacies to the service." Upon mention being made to him
of a son of Rodney, by the Duke of Clarence, his reply was: "I agree
with your Royal Highness most entirely, that the son of a Rodney ought
to be the PROTEGE of every person in the kingdom, and particularly of
the sea-officers. Had I known that there had been this claimant, some
of my own lieutenants must have given way to such a name, and he should
have been placed in the VICTORY: she is full, and I have twenty on my
list; but, whatever numbers I have, the name of Rodney must cut many of
them out." Such was the proper sense which Nelson felt of what was due
to splendid services and illustrious names. His feelings toward the
brave men who had served with him are shown by a note in his diary,
which was probably not intended for any other eye than his own: "Nov. 7.
I had the comfort of making an old AGAMEMNON, George Jones, a gunner
into the CHAMELEON brig."

When Nelson took the command, it was expected that the Mediterranean
would be an active scene. Nelson well understood the character of the
perfidious Corsican, who was now sole tyrant of France; and knowing that
he was as ready to attack his friends as his enemies, knew, therefore,
that nothing could be more uncertain than the direction of the fleet
from Toulon, whenever it should put to sea. "It had as many
destinations," he said, "as there were countries." The momentous
revolutions of the last ten years had given him ample matter for
reflection, as well as opportunities for observation: the film was
cleared from his eyes; and now, when the French no longer went abroad
with the cry of liberty and equality, he saw that the oppression and
misrule of the powers which had been opposed to them, had been the main
causes of their success, and that those causes would still prepare the
way before them. Even in Sicily, where, if it had been possible longer
to blind himself, Nelson would willingly have seen no evil, he perceived
that the people wished for a change, and acknowledged that they had
reason to wish for it. In Sardinia the same burden of misgovernment was
felt; and the people, like the Sicilians, were impoverished by a
government so utterly incompetent to perform its first and most
essential duties that it did not protect its own coasts from the Barbary
pirates. He would fain have had us purchase this island (the finest in
the Mediterranean) from its sovereign, who did not receive L5000 a year
from it after its wretched establishment was paid. There was reason to
think that France was preparing to possess herself of this important
point, which afforded our fleet facilities for watching Toulon, not to
be obtained elsewhere. An expedition was preparing at Corsica for the
purpose; and all the Sardes, who had taken part with revolutionary
France, were ordered to assemble there. It was certain that if the
attack were made it would succeed. Nelson thought that the only means to
prevent Sardinia from becoming French was to make it English, and that
half a million would give the king a rich price, and England a cheap
purchase. A better, and therefore a wiser policy, would have been to
exert our influence in removing the abuses of the government, for
foreign dominion is always, in some degree, an evil and allegiance
neither can nor ought to be made a thing of bargain and sale. Sardinia,
like Sicily and Corsica, is large enough to form a separate state. Let
us hope that these islands may one day be made free and independent.
Freedom and independence will bring with them industry and
prosperity;and wherever these are found, arts and letters will flourish,
and the improvement of the human race proceed.

The proposed attack was postponed. Views of wider ambition were
opening upon Buonaparte, who now almost undisguisedldy aspired to make
himself master of the continent of Europe; and Austria was preparing for
another struggle, to be conducted as weakly and terminated as miserably
as the former. Spain, too, was once more to be involved in war by the
policy of France: that perfidious government having in view the double
object of employing the Spanish resources against England, and
exhausting them in order to render Spain herself finally its prey.
Nelson, who knew that England and the Peninsula ought to be in alliance,
for the common interest of both, frequently expressed his hopes that
Spain might resume her natural rank among the nations. "We ought," he
said, "by mutual consent, to be the very best friends, and both to be
ever hostile to France." But he saw that Buonaparte was meditating the
destruction of Spain; and that, while the wretched court of Madrid
professed to remain neutral, the appearances of neutrality were scarcely
preserved, An order of the year 1771, excluding British ships of war
from the Spanish ports, was revived, and put in force: while French
privateers, from these very ports, annoyed the British trade, carried
their prizes in, and sold them even at Barcelona. Nelson complained of
this to the captain-general of Catalonia, informing him that he claimed,
for every British ship or squadron, the right of lying, as long as it
pleased, in the ports of Spain, while that right was allowed to other
powers. To the British Ambassador he said: "I am ready to make large
allowances for the miserable situation Spain has placed herself in; but
there is a certain line, beyond which I cannot submit to be treated with
disrespect. We have given up French vessels taken within gunshot of the
Spanish shore, and yet French vessels are permitted to attack our ships
from the Spanish shore. Your excellency may assure the Spanish
government that, in whatever place the Spaniards allow the French to
attack us, in that place I shall order the French to be attacked."

During this state of things, to which the weakness of Spain, and not
her will, consented, the enemy's fleet did not venture to put to sea.
Nelson watched it with unremitting and almost unexampled perseverance.
The station off Toulon he called his home. "We are in the right fighting
trim," said he: "let them come as soon as they please. I never saw a
fleet altogether so well officered and manned; would to God the ships
were half as good! The finest ones in the service would soon be
destroyed by such terrible weather. I know well enough that if I were to
go into Malta I should save the ships during this bad season; but if I
am to watch the French I must be at sea; and if at sea, must have bad
weather; and if the ships are not fit to stand bad weather, they are
useless." Then only he was satisfied and at ease when he had the enemy
in view. Mr. Elliot, our minister at Naples, seems at this time to have
proposed to send a confidential Frenchman to him with information. "I
should be very happy," he replied, "to receive authentic intelligence of
the destination of the French squadron, their route, and time of
sailing. Anything short of this is useless; and I assure your
excellency, that I would not upon any consideration have a Frenchman in
the fleet, except as a prisoner. I put no confidence in them. You think
yours good; the queen thinks the same; I believe they are all alike.
Whatever information you can get me I shall be very thankful for; but
not a Frenchman comes here. Forgive me, but my mother hated the French."

M. Latouche Treville, who had commanded at Boulogne, commanded now
at Toulon. "He was sent for on purpose," said Nelson, "as he BEAT ME at
Boulogne, to beat me again; but he seems very loath to try." One day,
while the main body of our fleet was out of sight of land, Rear-Admiral
Campbell, reconnoitring with the CANOPUS, DONEGAL, and AMAZON, stood in
close to the port; and M. Latouche, taking advantage of a breeze which
sprung up, pushed out with four ships of the line and three heavy
frigates, and chased him about four leagues. The Frenchman, delighted at
having found himself in so novel a situation, published a boastful
account, affirming that he had given chase to the whole British fleet,
and that Nelson had fled before him! Nelson thought it due to the
Admiralty to send home a copy of the VICTORY's log upon this occasion.
"As for himself," he said, "if his character was not established by that
time for not being apt to run away, it was not worth his while to put
the world right."--"If this fleet gets fairly up with M. Latouche," said
he to one of his correspondents, "his letter, with all his ingenuity,
must be different from his last. We had fancied that we chased him into
Toulon; for, blind as I am, I could see his water line, when he clued
his topsails up, shutting in Sepet. But from the time of his meeting
Captain Hawker in the ISIS, I never heard of his acting otherwise than
as a poltroon and a liar. Contempt is the best mode of treating such a
miscreant." In spite, however, of contempt, the impudence of this
Frenchman half angered him. He said to his brother: "You will have seen
Latouche's letter; how he chased me and how I ran. I keep it; and if I
take him, by God he shall eat it."

Nelson, who used to say, that in sea affairs nothing is impossible,
and nothing improbable, feared the more that this Frenchman might get
out and elude his vigilance; because he was so especially desirous of
catching him, and administering to him his own lying letter in a
sandwich. M. Latouche, however, escaped him in another way. He died,
according to the French papers, in consequence of walking so often up to
the signal-post upon Sepet, to watch the British fleet. "I always
pronounced that would be his death," said Nelson. "If he had come out
and fought me, it would at least have added ten years to my life." The
patience with which he had watched Toulon, he spoke of, truly, as a
perseverance at sea which had never been surpassed. From May, 1803, to
August, 1805, he himself went out of his ship but three times; each of
those times was upon the king's service, and neither time of absence
exceeded an hour. In 1804 the SWIFT cutter going out with despatches was
taken, and all the despatches and letters fell into the hands of the
enemy. "A very pretty piece of work," says Nelson; "I am not surprised
at the capture, but am very much so that any despatches should be sent
in a vessel with twenty-three men, not equal to cope with any row-boat
privateer. The loss of the HINDOSTAN was great enough; but for
importance it is lost in comparison to the probable knowledge the enemy
will obtain of our connexions with foreign countries. Foreigners for
ever say, and it is true, we dare not trust England: one way or other we
are sure to be committed." In a subsequent letter he says, speaking of
the same capture: "I find, my dearest Emma, that your picture is very
much admired by the French Consul at Barcelona, and that he has not sent
it to be admired, which I am sure it would be, by Buonaparte. They
pretend that there were three pictures taken. I wish I had them; but
they are all gone as irretrievably as the despatches, unless we may read
them in a book, as we printed their correspondence from Egypt. But from
us what can they find out? That I love you most dearly, and hate the
French most damnably. Dr. Scott went to Barcelona to try to get the
private letters, but I fancy they are all gone to Paris. The Swedish and
American Consuls told him that the French Consul had your picture and
read your letters; and the Doctor thinks one of them, probably, read the
letters. By the master's account of the cutter, I would not have
trusted an old pair of shoes in her. He tells me she did not sail, but
was a good sea-boat. I hope Mr. Marsden will not trust any more of my
private letters in such a conveyance: if they choose to trust the
affairs of the public in such a thing, I cannot help it."

While he was on this station, the weather had been so unusually
severe that he said the Mediterranean seemed altered. It was his rule
never to contend with the gales; but either run to the southward to
escape their violence, or furl all the sails, and make the ships as easy
as possible. The men, though he said flesh and blood could hardly stand
it, continued in excellent health, which he ascribed, in great measure,
to a plentiful supply of lemons and onions. For himself, he thought he
could only last till the battle was over. One battle more it was his
hope that he might fight. "However," said he, "whatever happens, I have
run a glorious race." "A few months" rest," he says, "I must have very
soon. If I am in my grave, what are the mines of Peru to me? But to say
the truth, I have no idea of killing myself. I may, with care, live yet
to do good service to the state. My cough is very bad, and my side,
where I was struck on the 14th of February, is very much swelled: at
times a lump as large as my fist, brought on occasionally by violent
coughing. But I hope and believe my lungs are yet safe." He was afraid
of blindness and this was the only evil which he could not contemplate
without unhappiness. More alarming symptoms he regarded with less
apprehension, describing his own "shattered carcass" as in the worst
plight of any in the fleet; and he says,"I have felt the blood gushing
up the left side of my head; and, the moment it covers the brain, I am
fast asleep." The fleet was in worse trim than the men; but when he
compared it with the enemy's, it was with a right English feeling. "The
French fleet yesterday," said he, in one of his letters, "was to
appearance in high feather, and as fine as paint could make them; but
when they may sail, or where they may go, I am very sorry to say is a
secret I am not acquainted with. Our weather-beaten ships, I have no
fear, will make their sides like a plum-pudding." "Yesterday," he says,
on another occasion, "a rear-admiral and seven sail of ships put their
nose outside the harbour. If they go on playing this game, some day we
shall lay salt on their tails."

Hostilities at length commenced between Great Britain and Spain. That
country, whose miserable government made her subservient to France, was
once more destined to lavish her resources and her blood in furtherance
of the designs of a perfidious ally. The immediate occasion of the war
was the seizure of four treasure-ships by the English. The act was
perfectly justifiable, for those treasures were intended to furnish
means for France; but the circumstances which attended it were as
unhappy as they were unforeseen. Four frigates had been despatched to
intercept them. They met with an equal force. Resistance, therefore,
became a point of honour on the part of the Spaniards, and one of their
ships soon blew up with all on board. Had a stronger squadron been sent,
this deplorable catastrophe might have been spared: a catastrophe which
excited not more indignation in Spain than it did grief in those who
were its unwilling instruments, in the English government, and in the
English people. On the 5th of October this unhappy affair occurred, and
Nelson was not apprised of it till the twelfth of the ensuing month. He
had, indeed, sufficient mortification at the breaking out of this
Spanish war; an event which, it might reasonably have been supposed,
would amply enrich the officers of the Mediterranean fleet, and repay
them for the severe and unremitting duty on which they had been so long
employed. But of this harvest they were deprived; for Sir John Orde was
sent with a small squadron, and a separate command, to Cadiz. Nelson's
feelings were never wounded so deeply as now. "I had thought," said he,
writing in the first flow and freshness of indignation; "Fancied--but
nay; it must have been a dream, an idle dream; yet I confess it, I DID
fancy that I had done my country service; and thus they use me! And
under what circumstances, and with what pointed aggravation? Yet, if I
know my own thoughts, it is not for myself, or on my own account
chiefly, that I feel the sting and the disappointment. No! it is for my
brave officers: for my noble minded friends and comrades. Such a gallant
set of fellows! Such a band of brothers! My heart swells at the thought
of them."

War between Spain and England was now declared; and on the eighteenth
of January, the Toulon fleet, having the Spaniards to co-operate with
them, put to sea. Nelson was at anchor off the coast of Sardinia, where
the Madelena islands form one of the finest harbours in the world, when,
at three in the afternoon of the nineteenth, the ACTIVE and SEAHORSE
frigates brought this long-hoped-for intelligence. They had been close
to the enemy at ten on the preceding night, but lost sight of them in
about four hours. The fleet immediately unmoored and weighed, and at six
in the evening ran through the strait between Biche and Sardinia: a
passage so narrow that the ships could only pass one at a time, each
following the stern-lights of its leader. From the position of the
enemy, when they were last seen, it was inferred that they must be bound
round the southern end of Sardinia. Signal was made the next morning to
prepare for battle. Bad weather came on, baffling the one fleet in its
object, and the other in its pursuit. Nelson beat about the Sicilian
seas for ten days, without obtaining any other information of the enemy
than that one of their ships had put into Ajaccio, dismasted; and having
seen that Sardinia, Naples, and Sicily were safe, believing Egypt to be
their destination, for Egypt he ran. The disappointment and distress
which he had experienced in his former pursuits of the French through
the same seas were now renewed; but Nelson, while he endured these
anxious and unhappy feelings, was still consoled by the same confidence
as on the former occasion--that, though his judgment might be erroneous,
under all circumstances he was right in having formed it. "I have
consulted no man," said he to the Admiralty; "therefore the whole blame
of ignorance in forming my judgment must rest with me. I would allow no
man to take from me an atom of my glory had I fallen in with the French
fleet; nor do I desire any man to partake any of the responsibility. All
is mine, right or wrong." Then stating the grounds upon which he had
proceeded, he added, "At this moment of sorrow, I still feel that I have
acted right." In the same spirit he said to Sir Alexander Ball: "When I
call to remembrance all the circumstances, I approve, if nobody else
does, of my own conduct."

Baffled thus, he bore up for Malta, and met intelligence from Naples
that the French, having been dispersed in a gale, had put back to
Toulon. From the same quarter he learned that a great number of saddles
and muskets had been embarked; and this confirmed him in his opinion
that Egypt was their destination. That they should have put him back in
consequence of storms which he had weathered, gave him a consoling sense
of British superiority. "These gentlemen," said he, "are not accustomed
to a Gulf of Lyons gale: we have buffeted them for one-and-twenty
months, and not carried away a spar." He, however, who had so often
braved these gales, was now, though not mastered by them, vexatiously
thwarted and impeded; and on February 27th he was compelled to anchor in
Pula Bay in the Gulf of Cagliari. From the 21st of January the fleet had
remained ready for battle, without a bulk-head up night or day. He
anchored here that he might not be driven to leeward. As soon as the
weather moderated he put to sea again; and after again beating about
against contrary winds, another gale drove him to anchor in the Gulf of
Palma on the 8th of March. This he made his rendezvous: he knew that
the French troops still remained embarked; and wishing to lead them into
a belief that he was stationed upon the Spanish coast, he made his
appearance off Barcelona with that intent. About the end of the month he
began to fear that the plan of the expedition was abandoned; and sailing
once more towards his old station off Toulon on the 4th of April, he met
the PHOEBE, with news that Villeneuve had put to sea on the last of
March, with eleven ships of the line, seven frigates, and two brigs.
When last seen they were steering towards the coast of Africa. Nelson
first covered the channel between Sardinia and Barbary, so as to satisfy
himself that Villeneuve was not taking the same route for Egypt which
Gantheaume had taken before him, when he attempted to carry
reinforcements thither. Certain of this, he bore up on the 7th for
Palermo, lest the French should pass to the north of Corsica, and he
despatched cruisers in all directions. On the 11th he felt assured that
they were not gone down the Mediterranean; and sending off frigates to
Gibraltar, to Lisbon, and to Admiral Cornwallis, who commanded the
squadron off Brest, he endeavoured to get to the westward, beating
against westerly winds. After five days a neutral gave intelligence that
the French had been seen off Cape de Gatte on the 7th. It was soon after
ascertained that they had passed the Straits of Gibraltar on the day
following; and Nelson, knowing that they might already be half way to
Ireland or to Jamaica, exclaimed that he was miserable. One gleam of
comfort only came across him in the reflection, that his vigilance had
rendered it impossible for them to undertake any expedition in the

Eight days after this certain intelligence had been obtained, he
described his state of mind thus forcibly in writing to the governor of
Malta: "My good fortune, my dear Ball, seems flown away. I cannot get a
fair wind, or even a side-wind. Dead foul!--Dead foul! But my mind is
fully made up what to do when I leave the supposing there is no certain
account of the enemy's destination. I believe this ill-luck will go near
to kill me; but as these are times for exertion, I must not be cast
down, whatever I may feel." In spite of every exertion which could be
made by all the zeal and all the skill of British seamen, he did not get
in sight of Gibraltar till the 30th of April; and the wind was then so
adverse that it was impossible to pass the Gut. He anchored in Mazari
Bay, on the Barbary shore; obtained supplies from Tetuan; and when, on
the 5th, a breeze from the eastward sprang up at last, sailed once more,
hoping to hear of the enemy from Sir John Orde, who commanded off Cadiz,
or from Lisbon. "If nothing is heard of them," said he to the Admiralty,
"I shall probably think the rumours which have been spread are true,
that their object is the West Indies; and, in that case, I think it my
duty to follow them--or to the Antipodes, should I believe that to be
their destination." At the time when this resolution was taken, the
physician of the fleet had ordered him to return to England before the
hot months.

Nelson had formed his judgment of their destination, and made up his
mind accordingly, when Donald Campbell, at that time an admiral in the
Portuguese service, the same person who had given important tidings to
Earl St. Vincent of the movements of that fleet from which he won his
title, a second time gave timely and momentous intelligence to the flag
of his country. He went on board the VICTORY, and communicated to
Nelson his certain knowledge that the combined Spanish and French fleets
were bound for the West Indies. Hitherto all things had favoured the
enemy. While the British commander was beating up again strong southerly
and westerly gales, they had wind to their wish from the N.E., and had
done in nine days what he was a whole month in accomplishing.
Villeneuve, finding the Spaniards at Carthagena were not in a fit state
of equipment to join him, dared not wait, but hastened on to Cadiz. Sir
John Orde necessarily retired at his approach. Admiral Gravina, with six
Spanish ships of the line and two French, come out to him, and they
sailed without a moment's loss of time. They had about three thousand
French troops on board, and fifteen hundred Spanish: six hundred were
under orders, expecting them at Martinique, and one thousand at
Guadaloupe. General Lauriston commanded the troops. The combined fleet
now consisted of eighteen sail of the line, six forty-four gun frigates,
one of twenty-six guns, three corvettes, and a brig. They were joined
afterwards by two new French line-of-battle ships, and one forty-four.
Nelson pursued them with ten sail of the line and three frigates. "Take
you a Frenchman apiece," said he to his captains, "and leave me the
Spaniards: when I haul down my colours, I expect you to do the same, and
not till then."

The enemy had five-and-thirty days' start; but he calculated that he
should gain eight or ten days upon them by his exertions. May 15th he
made Madeira, and on June 4th reached Barbadoes, whither he had sent
despatches before him; and where he found Admiral Cochrane, with two
ships, part of our squadron in those seas being at Jamaica. He found
here also accounts that the combined fleets had been seen from St. Lucia
on the 28th, standing to the southward, and that Tobago and Trinidad
were their objects. This Nelson doubted; but he was alone in his
opinion, and yielded it with these foreboding words: "If your
intelligence proves false, you lose me the French fleet." Sir W. Myers
offered to embark here with 2000 troops; they were taken on board, and
the next morning he sailed for Tobago. Here accident confirmed the false
intelligence which had, whether from intention or error, misled him. A
merchant at Tobago, in the general alarm, not knowing whether this fleet
was friend or foe, sent out a schooner to reconnoitre, and acquaint him
by signal. The signal which he had chosen happened to be the very one
which had been appointed by Col. Shipley of the engineers to signify
that the enemy were at Trinidad; and as this was at the close of the
day, there was no opportunity of discovering the mistake. An American
brig was met with about the same time, the master of which, with that
propensity to deceive the English and assist the French in any manner
which has been but too common among his countrymen, affirmed that he had
been boarded off Granada a few days before by the French, who were
standing towards the Bocas of Trinidad. This fresh intelligence removed
all doubts. The ships were cleared for action before daylight, and
Nelson entered the Bay of Paria on the 7th, hoping and expecting to make
the mouths of the Orinoco as famous in the annals of the British navy as
those of the Nile. Not an enemy was there; and it was discovered that
accident and artifice had combined to lead him so far to leeward, that
there could have been little hope of fetching to windward of Granada for
any other fleet. Nelson, however, with skill and exertions never
exceeded, and almost unexampled, bore for that island.

Advices met him on the way, that the combined fleets, having
captured the Diamond Rock, were then at Martinique on the fourth, and
were expected to sail that night for the attack of Granada. On the 9th
Nelson arrived off that island; and there learned that they had passed
to leeward of Antigua the preceding day, and had taken a homeward-bound
convoy. Had it not been for false information, upon which Nelson had
acted reluctantly, and in opposition to his own judgment, he would have
been off Port Royal just as they were leaving; it, and the battle would
have been fought on the spot where Rodney defeated De Grasse. This he
remembered in his vexation; but he had saved the colonies, and above 200
ships laden for Europe, which would else have fallen into the enemy's
hands; and he had the satisfaction of knowing that the mere terror of
his name had effected this, and had put to flight the allied enemies,
whose force nearly doubled that before which they fled. That they were
flying back to Europe he believed, and for Europe he steered in pursuit
on the 13th, having disembarked the troops at Antigua, and taking with
him the SPARTIATE, seventy-four; the only addition to the squadron with
which he was pursuing so superior a force. Five days afterwards the
AMAZON brought intelligence that she had spoke a schooner who had seen
them on the evening of the 15th, steering to the north; and by
computation, eighty-seven leagues off. Nelson's diary at this time
denotes his great anxiety and his perpetual and all-observing vigilance.
"June 21. Midnight, nearly calm, saw three planks, which I think came
from the French fleet. Very miserable, which is very foolish." On the
17th of July he came in sight of Cape St. Vincent, and steered for
Gibraltar. "June 18th," his diary says,"Cape Spartel in sight, but no
French fleet, nor any information about them. How sorrowful this makes
me! but I cannot help myself." The next day he anchored at Gibraltar;
and on the 20th, says he, "I went on shore for the first time since June
16, 1803; and from having my foot out of the VICTORY two years, wanting
ten days."

Here he communicated with his old friend Collingwood; who, having
been detached with a squadron, when the disappearance of the combined
fleets, and of Nelson in their pursuit, was known in England, had taken
his station off Cadiz. He thought that Ireland was the enemy's ultimate
object; that they would now liberate the Ferrol squadron, which was
blocked up by Sir Robert Calder, call for the Rochefort ships,and then
appear off Ushant with 33 or 34 sail; there to be joined: by the Brest
fleet. With this great force he supposed they would make for Ireland--
the real mark and bent of all their operations; and their flight to the
West Indies, he thought, had been merely undertaken to take off Nelson's
force, which was the great impediment to their undertaking.

Collingwood was gifted with great political penetration. As yet,
however, all was conjecture concerning the enemy; and Nelson, having
victualled and watered at Tetuan, stood for Ceuta on the 24th, still
without information of their course. Next day intelligence arrived that
the CURIEUX brig had seen them on the 19th, standing to the northward.
He proceeded off Cape St. Vincent, rather cruising for intelligence than
knowing whither to betake himself; and here a case occurred that more
than any other event in real history resembles those whimsical proofs of
sagacity which Voltaire, in his Zadig, has borrowed from the Orientals.
One of our frigates spoke an American, who, a little to the westward of
the Azores, had fallen in with an armed vessel, appearing to be a
dismasted privateer, deserted by her crew, which had been run on board
by another ship, and had been set fire to; but the fire had gone out. A
log-book and a few seamen's jackets were found in the cabin; and these
were brought to Nelson. The log-book closed with these words: "Two large
vessels in the W.N.W.:" and this led him to conclude that the vessel had
been an English privateer, cruising off the Western Islands. But there
was in this book a scrap of dirty paper, filled with figures. Nelson,
immediately upon seeing it, observed that the figures were written by a
Frenchman; and after studying this for a while, said, "I can explain the
whole. The jackets are of French manufacture, and prove that the
privateer was in possession of the enemy. She had been chased and taken
by the two ships that were seen in the W.N.W. The prizemaster, going on
board in a hurry, forgot to take with him his reckoning: there is none
in the log-book; and the dirty paper contains her work for the number of
days since the privateer last left Corvo; with an unaccounted-for run,
which I take to have been the chase, in his endeavour to find out her
situation by back reckonings. By some mismanagement, I conclude she was
run on board of by one of the enemy's ships, and dismasted. Not liking
delay (for I am satisfied that those two ships were the advanced ones of
the French squadron), and fancying we were close at their heels, they
set fire to the vessel, and abandoned her in a hurry. If this
explanation be correct, I infer from it that they are gone more to the
northward; and more to the northward I will look for them." This course
accordingly he held, but still without success. Still persevering, and
still disappointed, he returned near enough to Cadiz to ascertain that
they were not there; traversed the Bay of Biscay; and then, as a last
hope, stood over for the north-west coast of Ireland against adverse
winds, till, on the evening of the 12th of August, he learned that they
had not been heard of there. Frustrated thus in all his hopes, after a
pursuit, to which, for its extent, rapidity, and perseverance, no
parallel can he produced, he judged it best to reinforce the Channel
fleet with his squadron, lest the enemy, as Collingwood apprehended,
should bear down upon Brest with their whole collected force. On the
15th he joined Admiral Cornwallis off Ushant. No news had yet been
obtained of the enemy; and on the same evening he received orders to
proceed, with the VICTORY and SUPERB, to Portsmouth.



Sir Robert Calder falls in with the combined Fleets--They form a
Junction with the Ferrol Squadron, and get into Cadiz--Nelson is
reappointed to the Command--Battle of Trafalgar--Victory, and
Death of Nelson.


At Portsmouth, Nelson at length found news of the combined fleet. Sir
Robert Calder, who had been sent out to intercept their return, had
fallen in with them on the 22nd of July, sixty leagues off Cape
Finisterre. Their force consisted of twenty sail of the line, three
fifty-gun ships, five frigates, and two brigs: his, of fifteen line-of-
battle ships, two frigates, a cutter, and a lugger. After an action of
four hours he had captured an eighty-four and a seventy-four, and then
thought it necessary to bring-to the squadron, for the purpose of
securing their prizes. The hostile fleets remained in sight of each
other till the 26th, when the enemy bore away. The capture of two ships
from so superior a force would have been considered as no inconsider-
able victory, a few years earlier; but Nelson had introduced a new era
in our naval history; and the nation felt respecting this action as he
had felt on a somewhat similar occasion. They regretted that Nelson,
with his eleven ships, had not been in Sir Robert Calder's place; and
their disappointment was generally and loudly expressed.

Frustrated as his own hopes had been, Nelson had yet the high
satisfaction of knowing that his judgment had never been more
conspicuously approved, and that he had rendered essential service to
his country, by driving the enemy from those Islands where they expected
there could be no force capable of opposing them. The West India
merchants in London, as men whose interests were more immediately
benefited, appointed a deputation to express their thanks for his great
and judicious exertions. It was now his intention to rest awhile from
his labours, and recruit himself, after all his fatigues and cares, in
the society of those whom he loved. All his stores were brought up from
the VICTORY; and he found in his house at Merton the enjoyment which he
had anticipated. Many days had not elapsed before Captain Blackwood, on
his way to London with despatches, called on him at five in the morning.
Nelson, who was already dressed, exclaimed, the moment he saw him: "I am
sure you bring me news of the French and Spanish fleets! I think I shall
yet have to beat them!" They had refitted at Vigo, after the indecisive
action with Sir Robert Calder; then proceeded to Ferrol, brought out the
squadron from thence, and with it entered Cadiz in safety. "Depend on
it, Blackwood:" he repeatedly said, "I shall yet give M. Villeneuve a
drubbing." But when Blackwood had left him, he wanted resolution to
declare his wishes to Lady Hamilton and his sisters, and endeavoured to
drive away the thought. He had done enough, he said: "Let the man trudge
it who has lost his budget!" His countenance belied his lips; and as he
was pacing one of the walks in the garden, which he used to call the
quarter-deck, Lady Hamilton came up to him, and told him she saw he was
uneasy. He smiled, and said: "No, he was as happy as possible; he was
surrounded by his family, his health was better since he had been an
shore, and he would not give sixpence to call the king his uncle." She
replied, that she did not believe him, that she knew that he was longing
to get at the combined fleets, that he considered them as his own
property, that he would be miserable if any man but himself did the
business; and that he ought to have them, as the price and reward of his
two years' long watching, and his hard chase. "Nelson," said she,
"however we may lament your absence, offer your services; they will be
accepted, and you will gain a quiet heart by it: you will have a
glorious victory, and then you may return here, and be happy." He looked
at her with tears in his eyes: "Brave Emma! Good Emma! If there were
more Emmas there would be more Nelsons."

His services were as willingly accepted as they were offered; and
Lord Barham, giving him the list of the navy, desired him to choose his
own officers. "Choose yourself, my lord," was his reply: "the same
spirit actuates the whole profession: you cannot choose wrong." Lord
Barham then desired him to say what ships, and how many, he would wish,
in addition to the fleet which he was going to command, and said they
should follow him as soon as each was ready. No appointment was ever
more in unison with the feelings and judgment of the whole nation. They,
like Lady Hamilton, thought that the destruction of the combined fleets
ought properly to be Nelson's work; that he who had been

"Half around the sea-girt ball,
The hunter of the recreant Gaul,"

ought to reap the spoils of the chase which he had watched so long, and
so perseveringly pursued.

Unremitting exertions were made to equip the ships which he had
chosen, and especially to refit the VICTORY, which was once more to bear
his flag. Before he left London he called at his upholsterer's, where
the coffin which Captain Hallowell had given him was deposited; and
desired that its history might be engraven upon the lid, saying that it
was highly probable he might want it on his return. He seemed, indeed,
to have been impressed with an expectation that he should fall in the
battle. In a letter to his brother, written immediately after his
return, he had said: "We must not talk of Sir Robert Calder's battle--I
might not have done so much with my small force. If I had fallen in with
them, you might probably have been a lord before I wished; for I know
they meant to make a dead set at the VICTORY." Nelson had once regarded
the prospect of death with gloomy satisfaction: it was when he
anticipated the upbraidings of his wife, and the displeasure of his
venerable father. The state of his feelings now was expressed in his
private journal in these words: "Friday night (Sept. 13), at half-past
ten, I drove from dear, dear Merton; where I left all which I hold dear
in this world, to go and serve my king and country. May the great GOD,
whom I adore, enable me to fulfil the expectations of my country! and if
it is His good pleasure that I should return, my thanks will never cease
being offered up to the throne of His mercy. If it is His good
providence to cut short my days upon earth, I bow with the greatest
submission; relying that he will protect those so dear to me whom I may
leave behind! His will be done. Amen! Amen! Amen!"

Early on the following morning he reached Portsmouth; and having
despatched his business on shore, endeavoured to elude the populace by
taking a by-way to the beach; but a crowd collected in his train,
pressing forward to obtain a sight of his face: many were in tears, and
many knelt down before him and blessed him as he passed. England has had
many heroes; but never one who so entirely possessed the love of his
fellow-countrymen as Nelson. All men knew that his heart was as humane
as it was fearless; that there was not in his nature the slightest alloy
of selfishness or cupidity; but that with perfect and entire devotion he
served his country with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with
all his strength; and, therefore, they loved him as truly and as
fervently as he loved England. They pressed upon the parapet to gaze
after him when his barge pushed off, and he was returning their cheers
by waving his hat. The sentinels, who endeavoured to prevent them from
trespassing upon this ground, were wedged among the crowd; and an
officer who, not very prudently upon such an occasion, ordered them to
drive the people down with their bayonets, was compelled speedily to
retreat; for the people would not be debarred from gazing till the last
moment upon the hero--the darling hero of England!

He arrived off Cadiz on the 29th of September--his birthday. Fearing
that if the enemy knew his force they might be deterred from venturing
to sea, he kept out of sight of land, desired Collingwood to fire no
salute and hoist no colours, and wrote to Gibraltar to request that the
force of the fleet might not be inserted there in the GAZETTE. His
reception in the Mediterranean fleet was as gratifying as the farewell
of his countrymen at Portsmouth: the officers who came on board to
welcome him forgot his rank as commander in their joy at seeing him
again. On the day of his arrival, Villeneuve received orders to put to
sea the first opportunity. Villeneuve, however, hesitated when he heard
that Nelson had resumed the command. He called a council of war; and
their determination was, that it would not be expedient to leave Cadiz,
unless they had reason to believe themselves stronger by one-third than
the British force. In the public measures of this country secrecy is
seldom practicable, and seldomer attempted: here, however, by the
precautions of Nelson and the wise measures of the Admiralty, the enemy
were for once kept in ignorance; for as the ships appointed to reinforce
the Mediterranean fleet were despatched singly, each as soon as it was
ready, their collected number was not stated in the newspapers, and
their arrival was not known to the enemy. But the enemy knew that
Admiral Louis, with six sail, had been detached for stores and water to
Gibraltar. Accident also contributed to make the French admiral doubt
whether Nelson himself had actually taken the command. An American,
lately arrived from England, maintained that it was impossible, for he
had seen him only a few days before in London, and at that time there
was no rumour of his going again to sea.

The station which Nelson had chosen was some fifty or sixty miles to
the west of Cadiz, near Cape St. Marys. At this distance, he hoped to
decoy the enemy out while he guarded against the danger of being caught
with a westerly wind near Cadiz and driven within the Straits. The
blockade of the port was rigorously enforced, in hopes that the combined
fleet might be forced to sea by want. The Danish vessels, therefore,
which were carrying provisions from the French ports in the bay, under
the name of Danish property, to all the little ports from Ayamonte to
Algeziras, from whence they were conveyed in coasting boats to Cadiz,
were seized. Without this proper exertion of power, the blockade would
have been rendered nugatory by the advantage thus taken of the neutral
flag. The supplies from France were thus effectually cut off. There was
now every indication that the enemy would speedily venture out: officers
and men were in the highest spirits at the prospects of giving them a
decisive blow; such, indeed, as would put an end to all further contest
upon the seas. Theatrical amusements were performed every evening in
most of the ships; and God save the King was the hymn with which the
sports concluded. "I verily believe," said Nelson (writing on the 6th of
October), "that the country will soon be put to some expense on my
account; either a monument, or a new pension and honours; for I have not
the smallest doubt but that a very few days, almost hours, will put us
in battle. The success no man can ensure; but for the fighting them, if
they can be got at, I pledge myself. The sooner the better: I don't like
to have these things upon my mind."

At this time he was not without some cause of anxiety: he was in want
of frigates, and the eyes of the fleet, as he always called them; to the
want of which the enemy before were indebted for their escape, and
Buonaparte for his arrival in Egypt. He had only twenty-three ships;
others were on the way, but they might come too late; and though Nelson
never doubted of victory, mere victory was not what he looked to; he
wanted to annihilate the enemy's fleet. The Carthagena squadron might
effect a junction with this fleet on the one side; and on the other it
was to be expected that a similar attempt would be made by the French
from Brest; in either case a formidable contingency to be apprehended by
the blockading force. The Rochefort squadron did push out, and had
nearly caught the AGAMEMNON and L'AIMABLE in their way to reinforce the
British admiral. Yet Nelson at this time weakened his own fleet. He had
the unpleasant task to perform of sending home Sir Robert Calder, whose
conduct was to be made the subject of a court-martial, in consequence of
the general dissatisfaction which had been felt and expressed at his
imperfect victory. Sir Robert Calder and Sir John Orde, Nelson believed
to be the only two enemies whom he had ever had in his profession; and
from that sensitive delicacy which distinguished him, this made him the
more scrupulously anxious to show every possible mark of respect and
kindness to Sir Robert. He wished to detain him till after the expected
action, when the services which he might perform, and the triumphant joy
which would be excited, would leave nothing to be apprehended from an
inquiry into the previous engagement. Sir Robert, however, whose situ-
ation was very painful, did not choose to delay a trial from the result
of which he confidently expected a complete justification; and Nelson,
instead of sending him home in a frigate, insisted on his returning in
his own ninety-gun ship--ill as such a ship could at that time be
spared. Nothing could be more honourable than the feeling by which
Nelson was influenced; but, at such a crisis, it ought not to have been

On the 9th Nelson sent Collingwood what he called, in his diary, the
Nelson-touch. "I send you," said he, "my plan of attack, as far as a man
dare venture to guess at the very uncertain position the enemy may be
found in; but it is to place you perfectly at ease respecting my
intentions, and to give full scope to your judgment for carrying them
into effect. We can, my dear Coll, have no little jealousies. We have
only one great object in view, that of annihilating our enemies, and
getting a glorious peace for our country. No man has more confidence in
another than I have in you; and no man will render your services more
justice than your very old friend Nelson and Bronte." The order of
sailing was to be the order of battle: the fleet in two lines, with an
advanced squadron of eight of the fastest-sailing two-deckers. The
second in command, having the entire direction of his line, was to break
through the enemy, about the twelfth ship from their rear: he would lead
through the centre, and the advanced squadron was to cut off three or
four ahead of the centre. This plan was to be adapted to the strength
of the enemy, so that they should always be one-fourth superior to those
whom they cut off. Nelson said, "That his admirals and captains, knowing
his precise object to be that of a close and decisive action, would
supply any deficiency of signals, and act accordingly. In case signals
cannot be seen or clearly understood, no captain can do wrong if he
places his ship alongside that of an enemy." One of the last orders of
this admirable man was, that the name and family of every officer,
seaman, and marine, who might be killed or wounded in action, should be,
as soon as possible, returned to him, in order to be transmitted to the
chairman of the Patriotic Fund, that the case might be taken into
consideration for the benefit of the sufferer or his family.

About half-past nine in the morning of the 19th, the MARS, being the
nearest to the fleet of the ships which formed the line of communication
with the frigates inshore, repeated the signal that the enemy were
coming out of port. The wind was at this time very light, with partial
breezes, mostly from the S.S.W. Nelson ordered the signal to be made for
a chase in the south-east quarter. About two, the repeating ships
announced that the enemy were at sea. All night the British fleet
continued under all sail, steering to the south-east. At daybreak they
were in the entrance of the Straits, but the enemy were not in sight.
About seven one of the frigates made signal that the enemy were bearing
north. Upon this the VICTORY hove to; and shortly afterwards Nelson made
sail again to the northward. In the afternoon-the wind blew fresh from
the south-west, and the English began to fear that the foe might be
forced to return to port. A little before sunset, however, Blackwood, in
the EURYALUS, telegraphed that they appeared determined to go to the
westward, "And that," said the admiral in his diary, "they shall not
do, if it is in the power of Nelson and Bronte to prevent them." Nelson
had signified to Blackwood that he depended upon him to keep sight of
the enemy. They were observed so well that all their motions were made
known to him; and as they wore twice, he inferred that they were aiming
to keep the port of Cadiz open, and would retreat there as soon as they
saw the British fleet; for this reason he was very careful not to
approach near enough to be seen by them during the night. At daybreak
the combined fleets were distinctly seen from the VICTORY's deck,
formed in a close line of battle ahead, on the starboard tack, about
twelve miles to leeward, and standing to the south. Our fleet consisted
of twenty-seven sail of the line and four frigates; theirs of thirty-
three and seven large frigates. Their superiority was greater in size
and weight of metal than in numbers. They had four thousand troops on
board; and the best riflemen who could be procured, many of them
Tyrolese, were dispersed through the ships. Little did the Tyrolese,
and little did the Spaniards, at that day, imagine what horrors the
wicked tyrant whom they served was preparing for their country.

Soon after daylight Nelson came upon deck. The 21st of October was a
festival in his family, because on that day his uncle, Captain Suckling,
in the DREADNOUGHT, with two other line-of-battle ships, had beaten off
a French squadron of four sail of the line and three frigates. Nelson,
with that sort of superstition from which few persons are entirely
exempt, had more than once expressed his persuasion that this was to be
the day of his battle also; and he was well pleased at seeing his
prediction about to be verified. The wind was now from the west, light
breezes, with a long heavy swell. Signal was made to bear down upon the
enemy in two lines; and the fleet set all sail. Collingwood, in the
ROYAL SOVEREIGN, led the leeline of thirteen ships; the VICTORY led the
weather line of fourteen. Having seen that all was as it should be,
Nelson retired to his cabin, and wrote the following prayer:--

"May the great GOD whom I worship, grant to my country, and for the
benefit of Europe in general, a great and glorious victory, and may no
misconduct in any one tarnish it; and may humanity after victory be the
predominant feature in the British fleet! For myself individually, I
commit my life to Him that made me; and may His blessing alight on my
endeavours for serving my country faithfully! To Him I resign myself,
and the just cause which is entrusted to me to defend. Amen! Amen!

Having thus discharged his devotional duties, he annexed, in the same
diary, the following remarkable writing:---



"Whereas the eminent services of Emma Hamilton, widow of the
Right Hon. Sir W. Hamilton, have been of the very greatest service
to my king and country, to my knowledge, without ever receiving any
reward from either our king or country.

1. That she obtained the King of Spain's letter, in 1796, to his
brother, the King of Naples, acquainting him of his intention to
declare war against England from which letter the ministry sent out
orders to the then Sir John Jervis to strike a stroke, if opportunity
offered, against either the arsenals of Spain or her fleets. That
neither of these was done is not the fault of Lady Hamilton; the
opportunity might have been offered.

2. The British fleet under my command could never have returned
the second time to Egypt, had not Lady Hamilton's influence with
the Queen of Naples caused letters to be wrote to the governor of
Syracuse that he was to encourage the fleet's being supplied with
everything, should they put into any port in Sicily. We put into
Syracuse, and received every supply; went to Egypt and destroyed
the French fleet.

"Could I have rewarded these services, I would not now call upon
my country; but as that has not been in my power, I leave Emma Lady
Hamilton therefore a legacy to my king and country, that they will
give her an ample provision to maintain her rank in life.
"I also leave to the beneficence of my country my adopted daughter,
Horatio Nelson Thomson; and I desire she will use in future the
name of Nelson only.

"These are the only favours I ask of my king and country, at this
moment, when I am going to fight their battle. May God bless my
king and country, and all those I hold dear! My relations it is
needless to mention; they will of course be amply provided for.




The child of whom this writing Speaks was believed to be his
daughter, and so, indeed, he called her the last time he pronounced her
name. She was then about five years old, living at Merton, under Lady
Hamilton's care. The last minutes which Nelson passed at Merton were
employed in praying over this child, as she lay sleeping. A portrait of
Lady Hamilton hung in his cabin; and no Catholic ever beheld the picture

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