Графични страници
PDF файл

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 Sir William Hamilton had just been superseded.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

He differed from Sir Sidney as to the policy which ought to be pursued toward the French in Egypt, and strictly commanded him, in the strongest language, not, on any pretence, to permit a single Frenchman to leave the country, saying that he considered it nothing short of madness to permit that band of thieves to return to Europe. “No,” said he, “ to Egypt they went with their own consent, and there they shall remain, while Nelson commands this squadron ; for never, never will he consent to the return of one ship or Frenchman. I wish



them to perish in Egypt, and give an awful lesson to the world of the justice of the Almighty.” If Nelson had not thoroughly understood the character of the enemy against whom he was engaged, their conduct in Egypt would have disclosed it. After the battle of the Nile he had landed all his prisoners, upon a solemn engagement made between Troubridge on one side, and Captain Barré on the other, that none of them should serve till regularly exchanged; they were no sooner on shore than part of them were drafted into the different regiments, and the remainder formed into a corps called the Nautic Legion. This occasioned Captain Hallowell to say that the French had forfeited all claim to respect from us.

“ The army

of Bonaparte," said he, “are entirely destitute of every principle of honour; they have always acted like licentious thieves.” Bonaparte's escape was the more regretted by Nelson, because, if he had had sufficient force, he thought it would certainly have been prevented. He wished to keep ships upon the watch, to intercept any thing coming from Egypt; but the Admiralty calculated upon the assistance of the Russian fleet, which failed when it was most wanted. The ships which should have been thus employed were then required for more pressing services; and the bloody Corsican was thus enabled to reach Europe in safety, there to become the guilty instrument of a wider-spreading destruction than any with which the world had ever before been visited. Nelson had other causes of chagrin.

Earl St. Vincent, for whom he felt such high respect, and whom Sir John Orde had challenged, for having nominated Nelson instead of himself to the command of the Nile squadron, laid claim to prize-money, as commander-in-chief, after he had quitted the station. The point was contested, and decided against him. Nelson, perhaps, felt this the more, because his own feelings with regard to money were so different. An opinion had been given by Dr. Lawrence, which would have excluded the junior flag-officers from prizemoney. When this was made known to him, his reply

was in these words: “Notwithstanding Dr. Lawrence's opinion, I do not believe I have any right to exclude the junior flag-officers; and if I have, I desire that no such claim may be made—no, not if it were sixty times the sum, and, poor as I am, I were never to see prize-money."

A ship could not be spared to convey him to England; he therefore travelled through Germany to Hamburgh, in company with his inseparable friends, Sir William and Lady Hamilton. The Queen of Naples went with them to Vienna. While they were at Leghorn, upon a report that the French were approaching (for, through the folly of weak courts, and the treachery of venal cabinets, they had now recovered their ascendancy in Italy), the people rose tumultuously, and would fain have persuaded Nelson to lead them against the enemy. Public honours, and yet more gratifying testimonials of public admiration, awaited Nelson wherever he went. The Prince of Esterhazy entertained him in a style of Hungarian magnificence—a hundred grenadiers, each six feet in height, constantly waiting at table. At Magdeburg, the master of the hotel where he was entertained contrived to show him for money ; admitting the curious to mount a ladder, and peep at him through a small window. A wine-merchant at Hamburgh, who was above seventy years of age, requested to speak with Lady Hamilton, and told her he had some Rhenish wine of the vintage of 1625, which had been in his own possession more than half a century; he had preserved it for some extraordinary occasion, and that which had now arrived was far beyond any that he could ever have expected. His request was that her ladyship would prevail upon Lord Nelson to accept six dozen of this incomparable wine ; part of it would then have the honour to flow into the heart's blood of that immortal hero, and this thought would make him happy during the remainder of his life. Nelson, when this singular request was reported to him, went into the room, and, taking the worthy old gentleman kindly by the hand, consented to receive six bottles, provided the donor would dine with



him next day. Twelve were sent; and Nelson, saying that he hoped yet to win half a dozen more great victories, promised to lay by six bottles of his Hamburgh friend's wine, for the purpose of drinking one after each. A German pastor, between seventy and eighty years of age, travelled forty miles, with the Bible of his parish church, to request that Nelson would write his name on the first leaf of it. He called him the saviour of the Christian world. The old man's hope deceived him. There was no Nelson upon shore, or Europe would have been saved ; but, in his foresight of the horrors with which all Germany and all Christendom were threatened by France, the pastor could not possibly have apprehended more than has actually taken place.

CHAPTER VII. Nelson separates himself from his Wife-Northern Confederacy-He goes to the

Baltic, under Sir Hyde Parker-Battle of Copenhagen, and subsequent Negotiation-Nelson is made a Viscount.

NELSON was welcomed in England with every mark of popular honour. At Yarmouth, where he landed, every ship in the harbour hoisted her colours. The mayor and corporation waited upon him with the freedom of the town, and accompanied him in procession to church, with all the naval officers on shore and the principal inhabitants. Bonfires and illuminations concluded the day; and on the morrow, the volunteer cavalry drew up and saluted him as he departed, and followed the carriage to the borders of the county. At Ipswich the people came out to meet him, drew him a mile into the town, and three miles out. When he was in the Agamemnon, he wished to represent this place in Parliament, and some of his friends had consulted the leading mer. of the corporation. The result was not successful; and Nelson, observing that he would endeavour to find out a preferable path into

Parliament, said there might come a time when the people of Ipswich would think it an honour to have had him for their representative. In London, he was feasted by the city, drawn by the populace from Ludgate-hill to Guildhall, and received the thanks of the common council for his great victory, and a golden-hilted sword studded with diamonds.

Nelson had every earthly blessing, except domestic happiness : he had forfeited that for ever. Before he had been three months in England, he separated from Lady Nelson. Some of his last words to her were, I call God to witness, there is nothing in you, or your conduct, that I wish otherwise." This was the consequence of his infatuated attachment to Lady Hamilton. It had before caused a quarrel with his son-in-law, and occasioned remonstrances from his truest friends; which produced no other effect than that of making him displeased with them, and more dissatisfied with himself.

The Addington Administration was just at this time formed ; and Nelson, who had solicited employment, and been made vice-admiral of the blue, was sent to the Baltic, as second in command, under Sir Hyde Parker, by Earl St. Vincent, the new First Lord of the Admiralty. The three northern courts had formed a confederacy for making England resign her naval rights. Of these courts, Russia was guided by the passions of its emperor, Paul, a man not without fits of generosity, and some natural goodness, but subject to the wildest humours of caprice, and crazed by the possession of greater power than can ever be safely, or perhaps innocently, possessed by weak humanity. Denmark was French at heart-ready to co-operate in all the views of France, to recognise all her usurpations, and obey all her injunctions. Sweden, under à king whose principles were right, and whose feelings were generous, but who had a taint of hereditary insanity, acted in acquiescence with the dictates of two powers whom it feared to offend. The Danish navy at this time consisted of twenty-three ships of the line, with about

« ПредишнаНапред »