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LIFE OF NELSON.
Nelson's Birth and Boyhood--He is entered on board the Raisonnable-Goes to
the West Indies in a Merchant-ship; then serves in the Triumph-He sails in Captain Phipps's Voyage of Discovery-Goes to the East Indies in the Seahorse, and returns in 1ll-health-Serves as Acting Lieutepant in the WVorcester, and is made Lieutenant into the Lowestoffe, Commander into the Badger brig, and Post into the Hinchinbrook-Expedition against the Spanish Main-Sent to the North Seas in the Albemarle-Services during the American War,
HORATIO, son of Edmund and Catherine Nelson, was born Sept. 29, 1758, in the parsoniage-house of Burnham Thorpe, a village in the county of Norfolk, of which his father was rector. The maiden name of his mother was Suckling: her grandmother was an elder sister of Sir Robert Walople, and this child was named after his godfather, the first Lord Walpole. Mrs. Nelson dicd in 1767, leaving eight out of eleven children. Her brother, Captain Maurice Suckling, of the navy, visited the widower upon this event, and promised to take care of one of the boys. Three years afterwards, when Horatio was only twelve years of age, being at home during the Christmas holidays, he read in the county newspaper that his uncle was appointed to the Raisonnable, of 64 guns. “Do, William," said he to a brother who was a year and a half older than himself, “write to my father, and tell him that I should like to go to sea with uncle Maurice.” Mr. Nelson was then at Bath, whither he had gone for the recovery of his health : his circumstances were strait
ened, and he had no prospect of ever seeing them bettered. He knew that it was the wish of providing for himself by which Horatio was chiefly actuated, and did not oppose his resolution; he understood also the boy's character, and had always said that, in whatever station he might be placed, he would climb, if possible, to the very top of the tree. Accordingly, Captain Suckling was written to. “What,” said he in his answer, “has poor Horatio done, who is so weak, that he, above all the rest, should be sent to rough it out at sea ? But let him come, and the first time we go into action a cannon-ball may knock off his head, and provide for him at once."
It is manifest from these words that Horatio was not the boy whom his uncle would have chosen to bring up in his own profession. He was never of a strong body, and the ague, which at that time was one of the most common diseases in England, had greatly reduced his strength; yet he had already given proofs of that resolute heart and nobleness of mind which, during his whole career of labour and of glory, so eminently distinguished him. When a mere child, he strayed a-birdsnesting from his grandmother's house, in company with a cowboy. The dinner-hour elapsed; he was absent, and could not be found ; and the alarm of the family became very great, for they apprehended that he might bave been carried off by gipsies. At length, after search had been made for him in various directions, he was discovered alone, sitting composedly by the side of a brook which he could not get over. “I wonder, child," said the old lady when she saw him, " that hunger and fear did not drive you
home.” Fear, grandmamma !" replied the future hero; “I never saw fear: what is .it ?" Once, after the winter holidays, when he and his brother William had set off on horseback to return to school, they came back, because there had been a fall of snow; and William, who did not much like the journey, said it was too deep for them to venture on. “ If that be the case," said the father, "you certainly shall not go; but
ANECDOTES OF HIS BOYHOOD.
3 make another attempt, and I will leave it to your honour. If the road is dangerous, you may return; but, remember, boys, I leave it to your honour.” The snow was deep enough to have afforded them a reasonable excuse; but Horatio was not to be prevailed upon to turn back. “We must go on,” said he; remember, brother, it was left to our honour !" There were some fine pears growing in the schoolmaster's garden, which the boys regarded as lawful booty, and in the highest degree tempting ; but the boldest among them were afraid to venture for the prize. Horatio volunteered upon this service : he was lowered down at night from the bed-room window by some sheets, plundered the tree, was drawn up with the pears, and then distributed them among his schoolfellows, without reserving any for himself. “He only took them,” he said, “because every other boy was afraid.”
Early on a cold and dark spring morning, Mr. Nelson's servant arrived at this school, at North Walsham, with the expected summons for Horatio to join his ship. The parting from his brother William, who had been for so many years his playmate and bedfellow, was a painful effort, and was the beginning of those privations which are the sailor's lot through life. He accompanied his father to London. The Raisonnable was lying in the Medway. He was put into the Chatham stage, and, on its arrival, was set down with the rest of the passengers, and left to find his way on board as he could. After wandering about in the cold, without being able to reach the ship, an officer, observing the forlorn appearance of the boy, questioned him ; and, happening to be acquainted with his uncle, took him home, and gave him some refreshment. When he got on board, Captain Suckling was not in the ship, nor had any person been apprised of the boy's coming He paced the deck the whole remainder of the day without being noticed by anyone; and it was not till the second day that somebody, as he expressed it, "took compassion ou him.” The pain which is felt when we are
first transplanted from our native soil, when the living branch is cut from the parent tree, is one of the most poignant which we have to endure through life. There are after-griefs which wound more deeply, which leave behind them scars never to be effaced, which bruise the spirit and sometimes break the heart; but never do we feel so keenly the want of love, the necessity of being loved, and the sense of utter desertion, as when we first leave the haven of home, and are, as it were, pushed off upon the stream of life. Added to these feelings, the seaboy has to endure physical hardships, and the privation of every comfort, even of sleep. Nelson had a feeble body and an affectionate heart, and he remembered through life his first days of wretchedness in the service.
The Raisonnable having been commissioned on account of the dispute respecting the Falkland Islands, was paid off as soon as the difference with the Court of Spain was accommodated, and Captain Suckling was removed to the Triumph, 74, then stationed as a guard-ship in the Thames. This was considered as too inactive a life for a boy, and Nelson was therefore sent a voyage to the West Indies in a merchant-ship, commanded by Mr. John Rathbone, an excellent seaman, who had served as master's mate under Captain Suckling in the Dreadnought. He returned a practical seaman, but with a hatred to the King's service, and a saying then common among the sailors" Aft the most honour; forward the better man.” Rathbone had probably been disappointed and disgusted in the navy, and, with no. unfriendly intentions, warned Nelson against a profession which he himself had found hopeless. His uncle received him on board the Triumph on his return, and discovering his dislike to the navy, took the best means of reconciling him to it. He held it out as a reward, that if he attended well to his navigation, he should go in the cutter and decked long boat which was attached to the commanding officer's ship at Chatham. Thus he became a good pilot for vessels of that description, from Chatham to the Tower, and down the Swin Channel
VOYAGE TO THE ARCTIC REGIONS.
to the North Foreland ; and acquired a confidence among rocks and sands of which he often felt the value.
Nelson had not been many months on board the Triumph, when his love of enterprise was excited by hearing that two ships were fitting out for a voyage of dis. covery toward the North Pole. In consequence of the difficulties which were expected on such a service, these vessels were to take out effective men instead of the usual number of boys. This, however, did not deter him from soliciting to be received, and, by his uncle's interest, he was admitted as coxswain under Captain Lutwidge, second in command. The voyage was undertaken in compliance with an application from the Royal Society. The Hon, Captain Constantine John Phipps, eldest son of Lord Mulgrave, volunteered his services. The Racehorse and Carcass bombs were selected, as the strongest ships, and therefore best adapted for such a voyage ; and they were taken into dock and strengthened, to render them as secure as possible against the ice. Two masters of Greece landmen were employed as pilots for each ship. No expedition was ever more carefully fitted out; and the first Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Sandwich, with a laudable solicitude, went on board himself before their departure, to see that everything had been completed to the wish of the officers. The ships were provided with a simple and excellent apparatus for distilling fresh from salt water, the invention of Dr. Irving, who accompanied the expedition. It consisted merely in fitting a tube to the ship's kettle, and applying a wet mop to the surface as the vapour was passing. By these means, from thirty-four to forty gallons were produced every day.
They sailed from the Nore on the 4th of June ; on the 6th of the following month they were in lat. 79 deg. 56 min, 39 sec., long. 9 deg. 43 min. 30 sec. E. The next day, about the place where most of the old discoverers had been stopped, the Racehorse was beset with ice; but they hove her through with ice-anchors. Captain Phipps continued ranging along the ice northward and westward