his landing, should not have ordered the fleet to return, is a mystery which has never yet been explained. Thus much is certain, that it was detained by his command, though with his accustomed falsehood, after the death of Brueys, he accused him of having lingered there contrary to This received orders. That admiral, not being able to enter the port of Alexandria, had moored his fleet in Aboukir Bay, in a strong and compact line of battle: the headmost vessel, according to his own account, being as close as possible to a shoal on the N. W. and the rest of the fleet forming a kind of curve along the line of deep water, so as not to be turned by any means in the S. W. * This position,” said he, “ is the strongest we could possibly take in an open road.” “We are moored in such a manner,” said the commissary of the fleet, “as to bid defiance to a force more than double our own.” In fact, admiral Barrington, when moored in a similar manner in the year 1778, off St. Lucia, beat off the Counte d’Estaing in three several attacks, though his force scarcely equalled by one third that which assailed it. Here the advantage of numbers both in ships, guns, and men, was in favour of the French. They had 13 ships of the line and 4 frigates, carrying 1196 guns and | 1230 men. The English had the same number of ships of the line and one 50 gun ship, carrying 1012 guns and 8068 men. During the whole cruise it had been Nelson’s practice, whenever circumstances would permit, to have

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

The plan of doubling on the ene

my's ships lord Hood projected when he intended to attack the French fleet at their anchorage in Gourjean road. He found it impossible to make the attempt; but the idea was not lost upon Nelson, who acknowledged himself indebted for it to his old and excellent commander. Captain Berry, when he comprehended the scope of the design, exclaimed with transport: “If wf succeed, what will the world say! “There is no if in the case,” replied the admiral; “that we shall succeed is certain; who may live to tell the story is a very different question.” As the squadron advanced, the enemy opened a steady fire from the starboard side of their whole line, full into the bows of our van ships. It was received in silence; on board of every ship the crews were employed aloft in furling sails, and below in attending the braces, and making ready for anchoring:—a miserable sight for the French, who with all their advantages, were on that element upon which, when the hour of trial comes, a Frenchman has no hope. Admiral Brueys was a brave and able man; yet the indelible character of his country broke out in one of his letters, wherein he delivered it as his private opinion that the English had missed him, “because, not finding themselves superiour in numbers, they did not think it prudent to try their strength with him.” The moment was now come in which he was to be fatally undeceived. Captain Foley led the fleet in the Goliath. He had long thought that if the enemy were moored in line of battle in with the land, the best plan of attack would be to lead between them and the shore, as the French guns on that side were not likely to be manned. Intending, therefore, to fix himself on the inner bow of the Guerrier, he kept as near the edge of the bank as the depth of water would admit; but his anchor hung, and having opened his fire, he drifted to the second ship, the Conquerant, before it was clear; then anchored by the stern, within her, and in ten minutes shot away her masts. Captain Hood, in the Zealous, perceiving this, took the station which the Goliath intended to have occupied, and totally disabled the Guerrier. The Orion, sir James Saumarez, the third which doubled the enemy’s van, past to windward of the Zealous, and opened her larboard guns as long as they bore on the Guerrier; then sunk a frigate which annoyed her, hauled round toward the French line, and anchoring between the fifth and sixth ships from the Guerrier, took her station on the larboard bow of the Franklin and the quarter of the Peuple Soverain, receiving and returning the fire of both. The sun was now nearly down. The Audacious, captain Gould, pouring a heavy fire into the Guerrier and the Conquerant, fixed herself on the larboard bow of the latter, and when that ship struck, passed on to the Peuple Soverain. The Theseus, captain Miller, followed, brought down the Guerrier's remaining masts, and then anchored inside of the Spartiate, the third in the French line. While these advanced ships doubled the French line, the Vanguard was the first that anchored on the outer side of the enemy, within half pistol shot of the Spartiate. Nelson had six colours flying in different parts of his rigging, lest they should be shot away. That they should be struck, no British admiral considers as a possibility. He instantly opened a tremendous fire, under cover of which, the other ships of his division, the Minotaur, Bellerophon, Defence, VoI. Iy. N

and Majestick, shot ahead of the admiral. Captain Louis, in the first of these, took off the fire of the Aquilon. The Bellerophon, captain Darby, past ahead, and dropt her stern anchor on the starboard bow of the Orient, Bruey's own ship, of 120 guns, whose difference of force was above seven to three, and the weight of whose ball from her lower deck alone exceeded that from the whole broadside of the Bellerophon. Captain Peyton in the Defence took his station ahead of the Minotaur, and engaged the Franklin, by which judicious movement, the British line remained unbroken. The Majestick, getting entangled with the main rigging of one of the French ships astern of the Orient, suffered dreadfully from her fire, till she swung clear, and closely engaging the Heureux, on the starboard bow, received also the fire of the Tonnant. The other four ships of our fleet having been detached previously to the discovery of the French, were at a considerable distance. The action began at half after six. Troubridge in the Culloden, though foremost of the remaining ships, was two leagues astern. He came on sounding as the others had done. It was growing dark, and suddenly after finding eleven fathoms water, before the lead could be hove again, he was fast aground; nor could all his exertions, joined to those of the Leander and the Mutine brig, which came to his assistance, get him off in time to enter the action. His ship, however, served as a beacon to the Alexander and Swiftsure, which entered the bay and took their stations in the darkness in a manner still spoken of with admiration by all who remember it. Captain Hallowell, as he was bearing down in the latter, fell in with what seemed to be a strange sail; with great judgment, however, he ordered his men not to fire: “if she was an enemy,” he said, “her disabled state would prevent escape; but from her sails being loose, and the way in which her head was, it was probable she might be an English ship.” In fact it proved to be the Bellerophon, overpowered by the huge Orient. All her masts and cables were shot away, and she was drifting out of the line towards the lce side of the bay. Her station at this important time was occupied by the Swiftsure, which opened a steady fire on the quarter of the Franklin, and the bows of the French admiral. At the same instant captain Ball past under her stern, and anchored within side on his larboard quarter, raking him, and keeping up a severe fire of musketry upon his decks. The last ship which arrived to complete the destruction of the enemy was the Leander. The two first ships of the French line had been dismasted within a quarter of an hour after the action, and the others had suffered so severely, that victory was already certain. The third, fourth, and fifth were taken possession of at half past eight. Meantime Nelson received a severe wound on the head from a piece of langridge shot: captain Berry caught him in his arms as he was falling. The great effusion of blood occasioned an apprehension that the wound was mortal. Nelson himself thought so. A large portion of the skin of the forehead, cut from the bone, had fallen over one eye, and the other being blind, he was in total darkness. He desired the chaplain to deliver what he supposed to be his dying remembrance to lady Nelson; sent for captain Louis to thank him personally for the great assistance he had rendered to the Vanguard, and ever mindful of those who deserved to be his friends, appointed captain Hardy from the brig to the command of his own ship. When the surgeon had examined the wound, assured him there was no immediate danger, and desired him to remain quiet, Nelson could not rest. He called

for his secretary, Mr. Campbell, to write the despatches. Campbell had himself been wounded, and the blind and suffering state of the admiral af. fected him so that he could not write. The chaplain was then summoned. Before he came, the characteristick eagerness of Nelson made him take the pen himself, and he contrived to trace some words marking his devout sense of the success which had then been obtained. He was now left alone, when suddenly a cry was heard on deck that the Orient was on fire. In the confusion he found his way up, and to the astonishment of every one appeared on the quarter deck, when he immediately gave orders that boats should be sent to the relief of the enemy. It was soon after nine that the fire on board the Orient broke out. Brueys was dead; he had received three different wounds, yet would not leave his post. A fourth cut him almost in two. He desired not to be carried below, but be left to die upon deck. The flames soon mastered the ship. By the prodigious light of this conflagration, the situation of the two fleets could now be perceived, the colours being clearly distinguishable. About ten o'clock the Orient blew up. The tremendous explosion was followed by a silence not less awful; the firing instantaneously ceased on both sides; and the first sound was the fall of her shattered masts and yards, which had been carried to a vast height. It is upon record that a battle between two armies was once broken off by an earthquake; such a thing would be felt like a miracle: but no incident produced in war by human means, has ever equalled the sublimity of this coinstantaneous pause and all its circumstances. The firing recommenced with the ships to leeward of the centre, and continued till about three. At day break the two rear ships of the enemy were the only French ships of the line which had their colours flying. They cut their cables in the forenoon and stood out to sea, and two frigates with them. The Zealous pursued; but as there was no other ship in a condition to support captain Hood, he was recalled.— These could not have escaped if the Culloden had got into action; and if the frigates which had been appointed to join the squadron had been there, not one of the French fleet would have left Aboukir Bay. These, however, were all that escaped, and the victory was the most complete and glorious in the annals of naval history. “Victory,” said Nelson, “is not a name strong enough for such a scene;” he therefore called it a conquest. Of 13 sail of the line 9 were taken and 2 burnt; of the four frigates 1 sunk, another burnt. Our loss in killed and wounded amounted to 895. 3105 of the French, including the wounded, were sent on shore by cartel, and 5225 perished. Nelson was now at his height of glory. Congratulations, rewards, and honours were showered upon him by all the states, princes and powers to whom this victory gave a respite. The grand seignior and his brother the Czar, the kings of Naples and Sardinia sent him jewels, and letters acknowledging his unequalled services to the common cause. In England he was created baron Nelson of the Nile and of Burnham-Thorpe, with a pension of 2000l. for his own life, and those of his two immediate successours. When this was moved in the house of commons, general

Walpole expressed an opinion that a higher degree of rank ought to be conferred. Mr Pitt replied he thought it needless to enter into that question. Admiral Nelson’s “fame would be coequal with the British name, and it would be remembered that he had obtained the greatest naval victory on record, when no man would think of asking whether he had been created a baron, a viscount, or an earl.” True, indeed, whatever title had been bestowed, he who received it would have been Nelson still; that name he had ennobled beyond all addition of nobility; it was the name by which England loved him, France feared him, and Italy, Egypt, and Turkey celebrated him, and by which he would continue to be known while the present kingdoms and languages of the world endure. It depended upon the degree of rank what should be the fashion of the coronet. That it concerned him no otherwise might be conceded to Mr. Pitt and his colleagues. But the degree of rank was the measure of their gratitude, though not of his services. This Nelson" felt and this he expressed with indignation among his friends." We have neither room nor inclination to follow him through the subsequent transactions at Naples. The infatuated attachment which he there suffered himself to form for lady Hamilton, occasioned the only stain upon his publick character, and destroyed his domestick happiness for ever.f. In the autumn of 1800 he left the Mediterranean, and

* Lords St. Vincent and Duncan had each a pension of 1000l. from the Irish government also. In consequence of the Union this was not granted to Nelson, so that no great naval victory during the war, received so small a remuneration as this, the greatest and most glorious that had ever been achieved.

f That lord Nelson had hitherto been an affectionate husband, and as happy as he was amiable in all his domestick relations, is incontestably proved by the letters to his family inserted in the great life. Messrs. Clarke and M*Arthur have placed this in its true light, by the evidence of these letters, and having shown their own opinion upon this unpleasant subject clearly, and as concisely as possible, have, with commendable propriety, abstained from all petty details and recriminations of family disputes. Mr. Harrison’s work is said to have been written in great part under lady Hamilton’s immediate eye. The manner in which he has attempted to serve a bad cause cannot be too severely censured, and would justify the harshest epithets that could be bestowed

returned to England, by way of Vienna and Hamburgh, accompanied by sir Wm. and lady Hamilton. Two very interesting instances of the enthusiastick admiration with which he was regarded, occurred during his stay in the latter city. A wine merchant, more than seventy years of age, requested to speak with him. He had some Rhenish wine of the vintage of 1625, which had been in his own possession more than half a century; he had preserved it for some extraordinary occasion, and one had now arrived, far beyond any which he could ever have expected. He therefore requested lord Nelson to accept six dozen of this incomparable wine, part of which would then have the honour to flow with the heart’s blood of that immortal hero, and the reflection would make him happy during the remainder of his life. Nelson took the old gentleman kindly by the hand, and consented to receive six bottles. Twelve were sent; and remarking that he hoped yet to have half a dozen more great victories, he declared he would keep the six remaining bottles of his Hamburgh friend's wine purposely to drink a bottle after each. The other anecdote is not less affecting. A German pastor, between 70 and 80 years of age, travelled forty miles with the bible of his parish

church, to request that Nelson would insert his name in the first leaf of it. He called him, the Saviour of the Christian world. The old man’s hope deceived him; there was no Nelson upon shore, or Europe would have been saved. But in his foresight of the horrours with which all Germany was threatened by France, the pastor could have apprehended nothing more than has actually taken place. He arrived in England in November, and in the January following received orders to embark again. During this interval he separated from lady Nelson. Some of his last words to her were: “I call God to witness there is nothing in you or your conduct that I wish otherwise.” But his attachment to lady Hamilton was like infatuation, and its baneful influence hung over him during the remainder of his life. The Addington administration was just formed, and Nelson was sent to the Baltick under sir Hyde Parker, by earl St. Vincent, now first lord of the admiralty. When the fleet sailed, it was sufficiently known that its destination was against Copenhagen. Some Danish sailors, who were on board the Amazon frigate, went to captain Riou, and requested that he would get them exchanged into a ship bound on

upon a venal and unprincipled scribbler. This person, who comes publickly forward to injure, as far as in him lies, and actually to insult lady Nelson, delivers an opinion perfectly consistent with such conduct upon the transactions in the Bay of Naples.— Mr. Stanier Clarke does his best to palliate those transactions, in a narrative which is even more confused than the rest of the book. This has called forth a second vindication from captain Foote. “Nothing,” says this injured officer, “can be more evident than the fact, that a solemn capitulation had been agreed upon, formally signed by the chief commander of the forces of the king of Naples, by the Russian commander, and by myself, all duly authorized to sign any capitulation in the absence of superiour powers. This was not a treaty of peace subject to ratification; it was not a truce liable to be broken; it was a serious agreement for surrender, upon terms which involved the lives and properties of men, who might have chosen to forfeit those lives and properties, had they not relied principally upon the faith of a British officer. Parts of the agreement were performed; and actual advantage was afterwards taken of those parts of the capitulation that had thus been executed, to seize the unhappy men, who, having been thus deceived by a sacred pledge, were sacrificed in a cruel and despotick manner.” The facts are certain and undeniable. They cannot be defended; they cannot be excused; they cannot, by any sophistry, be palliated. A faithful historian has no alternative but to relate them with sorrow and shame. Mr. Clarke's representations are perexed, and his vindication futile; Mr. Harrison's are infamous.

« 前へ次へ »