« ПредишнаНапред »
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 then actual situation, as to arma. ment, 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 aeknowledgment 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 upon 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 the 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 recommencernent 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 upon 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 contending 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, burned, 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 became my prisoners I became their protector."
This letter was written in terms of great asperity against 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 a 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-chief's 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.
Sir Hyde Parker is recalled, and Nelson appointed Commander --He
goes to Revel--Settlement of Affairs in the Baltic-Unsuccessful Attempt upon the Flotilla at Bologne-Peace of Amiens-Nelson takes the 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 dare say, 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 awhile: ao 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