Графични страници
PDF файл


41 that the paper could be preserted to him. His indigr.ation 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 everything 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 fear's : 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 afplications for it produced no effect. “Not being a man of fortune,” he said,

was a crime which he was unable to get over, and there, fore 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 cockleboat, 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.

CHAPTER III. The Agamemnon sent to the Mediterranean--Commencement of Nelson's ac

quaintance 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 Sardinian 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 devil.” 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 been seized with vigour, might have ended in dividing France; but he negotiated with the people of Toulon, to take possession provisionally of their port and city; which, fatally for themselves, was done. Before the British fleet entered, Nelson was sent with despatches to Sir William Hamilton, our envoy at the court of Naples. Sir William, after his first interview with him, told Lady Hamilton he was about to introduce a little man to her, who could not boast of being very handsome, but such a man as, he believed, would one day astonish the world. “I have never before,” he continued, “ entertained an officer at my house, but I am determined to bring him here. Let him be put in the room prepared for Prince Augustus.” Thus that acquaintance began which ended in the destruction of Nelson's domestic happiness. It seemed to threaten no such consequences at its commencement. He spoke of Lady Hamilton, in a letter to his wife, as a young woman of amiable manners, who did honour to the station to which she had been raised ; and he remarked that she had been exceedingly kind to Josiah. The activity with which the envoy exerted himself in procuring troops from Naples to assist in garrisoning Toulon so delighted him that he is said to have exclaimed, “Sir William, you are a man after my own heart ! you do business in my own way ;” and then to have added, “I am now only a captain, but I will, if I live, be at the top of the tree.” Here, also, that acquaintance with the Neapolitan Court commenced, which led to the only blot upon Nelson's public

character. The King, who was sincere at time in his enmity to the French, called the English the saviours of Italy, and of his dominions in particular. He paid the most flattering attentions to Nelson, made him dine with him, and seated him at his right hand.

Having accomplished this mission, Nelson received orders to join Commodore Linzee, at Tunis. On the way, five sail of the enemy were discovered off the coast of Sardinia, and he chased them. They proved to be three 44-gun frigates, with a corvette of 24 and a brig of 12. The Agamemnon had only 345 men at quarters, having landed part of her crew at Toulon, and others being absent in prizes. He came near enough one of the frigates to engage her, but at great disadvantage, the Frenchman maneuvring well, and sailing greatly better. A running fight of three hours ensued, during which the other ships, which were at some distance, made all speed to come up. By this time the enemy was almost silenced, when a favourable change of wind enabled her to get out of the reach of the Agamemnon's guns; and that ship had l'eceived so much damage in the rigging that she could not follow her. Nelson, conceiving that this was but the forerunner of a far more serious engagement, called his officers together, and asked them if the ship was fit to go into action against such a superior force, without some small refit and refreshment for the men ? Their answer was, that she certainly was not. He then gave these orders :—“Veer the ship, and lay her head to the westward ; let some of the best men be employed in refitting the rigging, and the carpenter getting crows and capstanbars, to prevent our wounded spars from coming down; and get the wine up for the people, with some bread, for it may be half an hour good before we are again in action." But when the French came up, their comrade made signals of distress, and they all hoisted out their boats to go to her assistance, leaving the Agamemnon un molested.

Nelson found Commodore Linzee at Tunis, where he




had been sent to expostulate with the Dey upon the impolicy of his supporting the revolutionary Government of France. Nelson represented to him the atrocity of that Government. Such arguments were of little avail in Barbary; and when the Dey was told that the French had put their sovereign to death, he drily replied, that “nothing could be more heinous; and yet, if historians told the truth, the English had once done the same.' This answer had doubtless been suggested by the French about him : they had completely gained the ascendancy, and all negotiations on our part proved fruitless. Shortly afterwards, Nelson was detached with a small squadron to co-operate with General Paoli and the Anti-Gallican party in Corsica.

Some thirty years before this time, the heroic patriotism of the Corsicans, and of their leader Paoli, had been the admiration of England. The history of these brave people is but a melancholy tale. The island which they inhabit has been abundantly blessed by nature : it has many excellent harbours; and though the malària, or pestilential atmosphere, which is so deadly in many parts of Italy, and of the Italian islands, prevails on the eastern coast, ehe greater part of the country is mountainous and fiealthy. It is about 150 miles long, and from forty to hfty broad; in circumference, some 320 : a country large tnough, and sufficiently distant from the nearest shores, to 'have subsisted as an independent State, if the welfare and happiness of the human race had ever been considered as the end and aim of policy. The Moors, the Pisans, the Kings of Arragon, and the Genoese, successively attempted, and each for a time effected its conquest. The yoke of the Genoese continued longest, and was the heaviest. These petty tyrants ruled with an iron rod; and when at any time a patriot rose to resist their oppressions, if they failed to subdue him by force, they resorted to assassination. At the commencement of the last century, they quelled one revolt by the aid of German auxiliaries, whom the Emperor Charles VI. sent against a people

« ПредишнаНапред »