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Nelson returns to Naples—State of that Court and Kingdom
General Mack—The French approach Naples—Flight of the Royal Family--Successes of the Allies in Italy— Transactions in the Bay of Naples-Expulsion of the French from the Neapolitan and Roman States—Nelson is made Duke of Bronte
-He leaves the Mediterranean and returns to England. Nelson's health had suffered greatly while he was in the Agamemnon. “My complaint,” he said, “ is as if a girth were buckled taut over my breast ; and my
endeavour in the night is to get it loose.” After the battle of Cape St. Vincent he felt a little rest to be so essential to his recovery, that he declared he would not continue to serve longer than the ensuing summer, unless it should be absolutely necessary: for, in his own strong language, he had then been four years and nine months without one moment's repose
for body or mind. A few months' intermission of labour he had obtained—not of rest, for it was purchased with the loss of a limb; and the greater part of the time had been a season of
with a substance that gave it the appearance of a perfect shell. On setting fire to the fusee of the other, which was differently marked, it burst into many pieces : though somewhat alarmed, fortunately none of us were hurt. People account differently for the fire that happened on board of the French admiral: but why may it not have arisen from some of these fire-balls left, perhaps carelessly on the poop, or cabin, when it first broke out; and what confirms my opinion on this head is, that several pieces of such shells were found sticking in the Bellerophon, which she most probably received from the first fire of L’Orient.”
Willyums's Voyage in the Mediterranean, p. 145.
constant pain. As soon as his shattered frame had şufficiently recovered for him to resume his duties, he was called to services of greater importance than any on which he had hitherto been employed, and they brought with them commensurate fatigue and
The anxiety which he endured during his long pursuit of the enemy was rather changed in its direction, than abated by their defeat: and this constant wakefulness of thought, added to the effect of his wound, and the exertions from which it was not possible for one of so ardent and widereaching a mind to spare himself, nearly proved fatal. On his way back to Italy he was seized with fever. For eighteen hours his life was despaired of; and even when the disorder took a favourable turn, and he was so far recovered as again to appear on deck, he himself thought that his end was approaching,—such was the weakness to which the fever and cough had reduced him. Writing to Earl St. Vincent, on the passage, he said to him, “ I never expect, my dear lord, to see your face again. It may please God that this will be the finish to that fever of anxiety which I have endured from the middle of June: but be that as it pleases his good
I am resigned to his will.”* The kindest attentions of the warmest friendship were awaiting him at Naples. “Come here," said Sir William Hamilton, 6 for God's sake, my dear friend, as soon as the service will permit you. А pleasant apartment is ready for you in my house, and Emma is looking out for the softest pillows to repose
the few wearied limbs you have left.” Happy would it have been for Nelson if warm and eareful friendship had been all that awaited him there!
He himself saw at that time the character of the Neapolitan court, as it first struck an Englishman, in its true light: and when he was on the way,
he declared that he detested the voyage to Naples, and that nothing but necessity could have forced him to it. But never was any hero, on his return from victory, welcomed with more heartfelt joy. Before the battle of Aboukir the court of Naples had been trembling for its existence. The language which the directory held towards it was well described by Sir William Hamilton, as being exactly the language of a highwayman. The Neapolitans were told, that Benevento might be added to their dominions, provided they would pay a large sum, sufficient to satisfy the directory; and they were warned, that if the proposal were refused, or even if there were any delay in accepting it, the French would revolutionize all Italy. The joy, therefore, of the court, at Nelson's success, was in proportion to the dismay from which that success relieved them. The queen was a daughter of Maria Theresa, and sister of Marie Antoinette. Had she been the wisest and gentlest of her sex, it would not have been possible for her to have regarded the French without hatred and horror: and the progress of revolutionary opinions, while it perpetually reminded her of her sister's fate, excited no unreasonable apprehensions for her own. Her feelings, naturally ardent, and little accustomed to restraint, were excited to the highest pitch when the news of the victory arrived. Lady Hamilton, her constant friend and favourite, who was present, says, “It is not possible to describe her transports : she wept, she kissed her husband, her children, walked franticly
about the room, burst into tears again, and again kissed and embraced every person near her; exclaiming, *0 brave Nelson ! O God! bless and protect our brave deliverer! O Nelson! Nelson ! what do we not owe you! O conqueror-saviour of Italy! O that my swoln heart could now tell him personally what we owe to him.' She herself wrote to the Neapolitan ambassador at London upon the occasion, in terms which show the fulness of her joy, and the height of the hopes which it had excited. “ I wish I could give wings,” said she,
• to the bearer of the news, and, at the same time, to our most sincere gratitude. The whole of the sea-coast of Italy is saved ; and this is owing alone to the generous English. This battle, or to speak more correctly, this total defeat of the regicide squadron, was obtained by the valour of this brave admiral, seconded by a navy which is the terror of its enemies. The victory is so complete, that I can still scarcely believe it: and if it were not the brave English nation, which is accustomed to perform prodigies by sea, I could not persuade myself that it had happened. It would have moved you to have seen all my children, boys and girls, hanging on my neck, and crying for joy at the happy news.-Recommend the hero to his master : he has filled the whole of Italy with admiration of the English. Great hopes were entertained of some advantages being gained by his bravery, but no one could look for so total a destruction. All here are drunk with joy."
Such being the feelings of the royal family, it may well be supposed with what delight, and with what honours, Nelson would be welcomed. Early
on the 22d of September, the poor wretched Vanguard, as he called his shattered vessel, appeared in sight of Naples. The Culloden and Alexander had preceded her by some days, and given notice of her approach. Many hundred boats and barges were ready to go forth and meet him, with music and streamers, and every demonstration of joy and triumph. Sir William and Lady Hamilton "led the way in their state barge. They had seen Nelson only for a few days, four years ago, but they then perceived in him that heroic spirit which was now so fully and gloriously manifested to the world. Emma Lady Hamilton, who from this time so greatly influenced his future life, was a woman whose personal accomplishments have seldom been equalled, and whose powers of mind were not less fascinating than her person. She was passionately attached to the queen: and by her influence the British fleet had obtained those supplies at Syracuse, without which, Nelson always asserted, the battle of Aboukir could not have been fought. During the long interval which passed before any tidings were received, her anxiety had been hardly less than that of Nelson himself, while pursuing an enemy of whom he could obtain no information: and when the tidings were brought her by a joyful bearer, open-mouthed, its effect was such, that she fell like one who had been shot. She and Sir William had literally been made ill by their hopes and fears, and joy at a catastrophe so far exceeding all that they had dared to hope for. Their admiration for the hero necessarily produced a degree of proportionate gratitude and affection; and when their barge came alongside the Van