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fails of bringing a man to the goal of fame at last.'
The design against the Barbary pirates, like all other designs against them, was laid aside; and Nelson took his wife to his father's parsonage, meaning only to pay him a visit before they went to France; a project which he had formed for the sake of acquiring a competent knowledge of the French language. But his father could not bear to lose him thus unnecessarily. Mr. Nelson had long been an invalid, suffering under paralytic and asthmatic affections, which, for several hours after he rose in the morning, scarcely permitted him to speak. He had been given over by his physicians, for this complaint, nearly forty years before his death; and was, for many of his ter years, obliged to spend all his winters at Bath. The sight of his son, he declared, had given him new life.
“But, Horatio,” said he, “it would have been better that I had not been thus cheered, if I am so soon to be bereaved of you again. Let me, my good son, see you whilst I can. My age and infirmities increase, and I shall not last long.” To such an appeal there could be no reply. Nelson took up his abode at the parsonage, and amused himself with the sports and occupations of the country. Sometimes he busied himself with farming the glebe; sometimes spent the greater part of the day in the garden, where he would dig as if for the mere pleasure of wearying himself. Sometimes he went a birds’-nesting, like a boy: and in these expeditions Mrs. Nelson always, by his express desire, accompanied him. Coursing was his favourite amusement. Shooting,
practiced it, was far too dangerous for his companions : for he carried his gun upon the full cock, as if he were going to board an enemy; and the moment a bird rose, he let fly, without ever putting the fowling-piece to his shoulder. It is not, therefore, extraordinary, that his having once shot a partridge should be remembered by his family among the remarkable events of his life.
But his time did not pass away thus without some vexatious cares to ruffle it. The affair of the American ships was not yet over, and he was again pestered with threats of prosecution. “I have written them word,” said he,
" that I will have nothing to do with them, and they must act as they think proper. Government, I suppose, will do what is right, and not leave me in the lurch. We have heard enough lately of the consequences of the navigation act to this country. They may take my person ; but if sixpence would save me from a prosecution, I would not give it.” It was his great ambition at this time to possess a pony; and having resolved to purchase one, he went to a fair for that purpose. During his absence two men abruptly entered the parsonage, and inquired for him : they then asked for Mrs. Nelson; and after they had made her repeatedly declare that she was really and truly the captain's wife, presented her with a writ, or notification, on the part of the American captains, who now laid their damages at £20,000, and they charged her to give it to her husband on his return.
Nelson having bought his pony, came home with it in high spirits. He called out his wife to admire the purchase, and listen to all its excellencies : nor
was it till his glee had in some measure subsided that the paper could be presented to him. His indignation was excessive: and, in the apprehension that he should be exposed to the anxieties of the suit, and the ruinous consequences which might ensue, he exclaimed, “ This affront I did not deserve! But I'll be trifled with no longer. I will write immediately to the treasury; and, if government will not support me, I am resolved to leave the country." Accordingly, he informed the treasury, that if a satisfactory answer were not sent him by return of post, he should take refuge in France. To this he expected he should be driven, and for this he arranged every thing with his characteristic rapidity of decision. It was settled that he should depart immediately, and Mrs. Nelson follow under the care of his elder brother, Maurice, ten days after him. But the answer which he received from government quieted his fears; it stated, that Captain Nelson was a very good officer, and needed to be under no apprehension, for he would assuredly be supported.
Here his disquietude upon this subject seems to have ended. Still he was not at ease; he wanted employment, and was mortified that his applications for it produced no effect. “ Not being a man of fortune,” he said, was a crime which he was unable to get over, and therefore none of the great cared about him.” Repeatedly he requested the admiralty that they would not leave him to rust in indolence. During the armament which was made upon occasion of the dispute concerning Nootka Sound, he renewed his application: and his steady friend, Prince William, who had then been
created Duke of Clarence, recommended him to Lord Chatham. The failure of this recommendation wounded him so keenly, that he again thought of retiring from the service in disgust: a resolution from which nothing but the urgent remonstrances of Lord Hood induced him to desist. Hearing that the Raisonnable, in which he had commenced his
career, was to be commissioned, he asked for her. This also was in vain : and a coolness ensued, on his part, toward Lord Hood, because that excellent officer did not use his influence with Lord Chatham upon this occasion. Lord Hood, however, had certainly sufficient reasons for not interfering; for he ever continued his steady friend. In the winter of 1792, when we were on the eve of the revolutionary war, Nelson once more offered his services, earnestly requested a ship, and added, that if their lordships should be pleased to appoint him to a cockle-boat, he should feel satisfied. He was answered in the usual official form : “ Sir, I have received your letter of the 5th instant, expressing your readiness to serve, and have read the same to my lords commissioners of the admiralty.” On the 12th of December he received this dry acknowledgment. The fresh mortification did not, however, affect him long; for, by the joint interest of the Duke and Lord Hood, he was appointed, on the 30th of January following, to the Agamemnon, of sixty-four guns.
The Agamemnon sent to the Mediterranean Commencement
of Nelson's acquaintance with Sir W. Hamilton-He is sent to Corsica, to co-operate with Paoli-State of affairs in that island— Nelson undertakes the siege of Bastia, and reduces it-Takes a distinguished part in the siege of Calvi, where he loses an eye-Admiral Hotham's action—The Agamemnon ordered to Genoa, to co-operate with the Austrian and Sardi
nian forces-Gross misconduct of the Austrian General. “There are three things, young gentleman,” said Nelson to one of his midshipmen,
which you are constantly to bear in mind. First, you must always implicitly obey orders, without attempting to form any opinion of your own respecting their propriety. Secondly, you must consider
every man your enemy who speaks ill of your king: and, thirdly,
, you must hate a Frenchman as you do the
With these feelings he engaged in the war. Josiah, his son-in-law, went with him as a midshipman.
The Agamemnon was ordered to the Mediterranean, under Lord Hood. The fleet arrived in those seas at a time when the south of France would willingly have formed itself into a separate republic, under the protection of England. But good principles had been at that time perilously abused by ignorant and profligate men; and, in its fear and hatred of democracy, the English government abhorred whatever was republican. Lord Hood could not take advantage of the fair occasion which presented itself; and which, if it had