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studies; and at noon he was always the first on deck with his quadrant. Whenever he paid a visit of ceremony, some of these youths accompanied him ; and when he went to dine with the governor at Barbadoes, he took one of them in his hand, and presented him, saying, “ Your excellency must excuse me for bringing one of my midshipmen. I ke a rule to introduce them to all the good company I can, as they have few to look up to, besides myself, during the time they are at sea.
When Nelson arrived in the West Indies, he found himself senior captain, and consequently second in command on that station. Satisfactory as this was, it soon involved him in a dispute with the admiral, which a man less zealous for the service might have avoided. He found the Latona in English Harbour, Antigua, with a broad pendant hoisted ; and, upon inquiring the reason, was presented with a written order from Sir R. Hughes, requiring and directing him to obey the orders of resident commissioner Moutray, during the time he might have occasion to remain there; the said resident commissioner being, in consequence, authorised to hoist a broad pendant on board any of his Majesty's ships in that port that he might think proper.
Nelson was never at a loss how to act in any emergency.
“I know of no superior officers,” said he,“ besides the lords commissioners of the Admiralty, and my seniors on the post list.” Concluding, therefore, that it was not consistent with the service for a resident commissioner, who held only a civil situation, to hoist a broad pendant, the moment that he had anchored he sent an order to the captain of the Latona to strike it, and return it to the dockyard. He went on shore the same day, dined with the commissioner, to show him that he was actuated by no other motive than a sense of duty, and gave him the first intelligence that his pendant had been struck. Sir Richard sent an account of this to the Admi. ralty ; but the case could admit of no doubt, and Captain Nelson's conduct was approved.
He displayed the same promptitude on another occa
BAFFLES A COMISSION OF SURVEY.
sion. While the Boreas, after the hurricane-months were over, was riding at anchor in Nevis Roads, a French frigate passed to leeward, close along shore. Nelson had obtained information that this ship was sent from Martinico, with two general officers and some engineers on board, to make a survey of our sugar-islands. This purpose he was determined to prevent them from executing, and therefore he gave orders to follow them. The next day he came up with them at anchor in the roads of St. Eustatia, and anchored at about two cables' length on the frigate's quarter. Being afterwards invited by the Dutch governor to meet the French officers at dinner, he seized that occasion of assuring the French captain, that understanding it was his intention to honour the British possessions with a visit, he had taken the earliest opportunity in his power to accompany him, in his Majesty's ship the Boreas, in order that such attention might be paid to the officers of his Most Christian Majesty as every Englishman in the islands would be proud to show. The French, with equal courtesy, protested against giving him this trouble ; especially, they said, as they intended merely to cruise round the islands, without landing on any. But Nelson, with the utmost politeness, insisted upon paying them this compliment; followed them close, in spite of all their attempts to elude his vigilance, and never lost sight of them ; till, finding it impossible either to deceive or escape him, they gave up their treacherous purpose in despair, and beat up
A business of more serious import soon engaged his attention. The Americans were at this time trading with our islands, taking advantage of the register of their ships, which had been issued while they were British subjects. Nelson knew that, by the Navigation Act, no foreigners, directly or indirectly, are permitted to carry on any trade with these possessions : he knew, also, that the Americans had made themselves foreigners with regard to England ; they had broken the ties of blood and language,
and acquired the independence which they had been provoked to claim, unhappily for themselves, before they were fit for it; and he was resolved that they should derive no profit from those ties. Foreigners they had made themselves, and as foreigners they were to be treated. “If once,” said he, “they are admitted to any kind of intercourse with our islands, the vie of the loyalists, in settling at Nova Scotia, are entirely done away; and when we are again embroiled in a French war, the Americans will first become the carriers of these colonies, and then have possession of them. Here they come, sell their cargoes for ready money, go to Martinico, buy molasses, and so round and round. The loyalists cannot do this, and consequently must sell a little dearer. The residents here are Americans by connexion and by interest, and are inimical to Great Britain. They are as great rebels as ever were in America, had they the power to show it.” In November, the squadron, having arrived at Barbadoes, was to separate, with no other orders than those for examining anchorages, and the usual inquiries concerning wood and water. Nelson asked his friend Col. lingwood, then captain of the Mediator, whose opinions he knew upon the subject, to accompany him to the commander-in-chief, whom he then respectfully asked, whether they were not to attend to the commerce of the country, and see that the Navigation Act was respected -that appearing to him to be the intent of keeping men-of-war upon this station in time of peace.
Sir Richard Hughes replied, he had no particular orders, neither had the Admiralty sent him any Acts of Parliament. But Nelson made answer, that the Navigation Act was included in the statutes of the Admiralty, with which every captain was furnished, and that Act was directed to admirals, captains, &c., to see it carried into execution. Sir Richard said he had never seen the book. Upon this Nelson produced the statutes, read the words of the Act, and apparently convinced the commander-inchief that men-of-war, as he said, “.
were sent abroad for
DISPUTE WITH THE ADMIRAL
some other purpose than to be made a show of." Accordingly, orders were given to enforce the Navigation Act.
General Sir Thomas Shirley was at this time governor of the Leeward Islands; and when Nelson waited on him to inform him how he intended to act, and upon what grounds, he replied that “old generals were not in the habit of taking advice from young gentlemen.”
Sir," said the young officer, with that confidence in himself which never carried him too far, and always was equal to the occasion, “I am as old as the prime minister of England, and think myself as capable of commanding one of his Majesty's ships as that minister is of governing the State.” He was resolved to do his duty, whatever might be the opinion or conduct of others; and when he arrived upon his station at St. Kitt's, he sent away all the Americans, not choosing to seize them before they had been well apprised that the Act would be carried into effect, lest it might seem as if a trap had been laid for them. The Americans, though they prudently decamped from St. Kitt's, were emboldened by the support they met with, and resolved to resist his orders, alleging that king's ships had no legal power to seize them without having deputations from the customs. The planters were to a man against him ; the governors and the presidents of the different islands, with only a single exception, gave him no support ; and the admiral, af.aid to act on either side, yet wishing to oblige the planters, sent him a note, advising him to be guided by the wishes of the president of the council. There was no danger in disregarding this, as it came unofficially and in the form of advice. But, scarcely a month after he had shown Sir Richard Hughes the law, and, as he supposed, satisfied him concerning it, he received an order from him, stating that he had now obtained good advice upon the point, and the Americans were not to be hindered from coming, and having free egress and regress, if the governor chose to permit them. An order to the same purport had been sent round to the different governors and presidents; and
General Shirley and others informed him, in an authoritative manner, that they chose to admit American ships, as the commander-in-chief had left the decision to them. These persons, in his own words, he soon “ trimmed up, and silenced ;" but it was a more delicate business to deal with the admiral. “I must either," said he, “disobey my orders, or disobey Acts of Parliament. I determined upon the former, trusting to the uprightness of my intentions, and believing that my country would not let me be ruined for protecting her commerce.” With this determination, he wrote to Sir Richard, appealed again to the plain, literal, unequivocal sense of the Navigation Act, and in respectful language told him, he felt it his
duty to decline obeying these orders till he had an oppor- tunity of seeing and conversing with him. Sir Richard's
first feeling was that of anger, and he was about to supersed: Nelson ; but having mentioned the affair to his cap. tain, that officer told him he believed all the squadron thought the orders illegal, and therefore did not know how far they were bound to obey them. It was impossible, therefore, to bring Nelson to a court-martial composed of men who agreed with him in opinion upon the point in dispute ; and, luckily, though the admiral wanted vigour of mind to decide upon what was right, he was not obstinate in wrong, and had even generosity enough in his nature to thank Nelson afterwards for having slown him his error.
Collingwood, in the Mediator, and his brother, Winefred Collingwood, in the Rattler, actively co-operated with Nelson. The custom-houses were informed that, after a certain day, all foreign vessels found in the ports would be seized ; and many were, in consequence, seized, and condemned in the Admiralty Court. When the Boreas arrived at Nevis, she found four American vessels deeply laden, and with what are called the island-colours flying white with a red cross. They were ordered to hoist their proper flag, and depart within eight-and-forty hours but they refused to obey, denying that they were Ame