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Title: Drake, Nelson and Napoleon
Author: Runciman, Walter, 1847-1937
Language: English
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DRAKE, NELSON AND NAPOLEON

Studies by

SIR WALTER RUNCIMAN, BART

Illustrated

London
T. Fisher Unwin Ltd.
Adelphi Terrace

1919



DEDICATORY LETTER TO SIR JAMES KNOTT

MY DEAR SIR JAMES,

We have travelled far since those early days when you and I, who are
of totally different tastes and temperament, first met and became
friends. I was attracted by your wide knowledge, versatile vigour of
mind, and engaging personality, which subsequent years have not
diminished. You were strenuously engaged at that time in breaking down
the weevilly traditions of a bygone age, and helping to create a new
era in the art of steamship management, and, at the same time,
studying for the Bar; and were I writing a biography of you, I would
have to include your interesting travels in distant lands in quest of
business and organizing it. That must be left for another occasion,
when the vast results to the commercial life of the country to which
you contributed may be fittingly told.

At the present time my vision recalls our joyous yachting cruises on
the Clyde, when poor Leadbitter added to the charm that stays. Perhaps
best of all were the golden days when we habitually took our week-end
strolls together by the edge of the inspiriting splendour of the blue
North Sea, strolls which are hallowed by many memories, and gave me
an opportunity of listening to your vehement flashes of human
sympathies, which are so widely known now. It is my high appreciation
of those tender gifts and of your personal worth, together with the
many acts of kindness and consideration shown to me when I have been
your guest, that gives me the desire to inscribe this book to you and
Lady Knott, and to the memory of your gallant sons, Major Leadbitter
Knott, D.S.O., who was killed while leading his battalion in a
terrific engagement in Flanders, and Captain Basil Knott, who fell so
tragically a few months previously at his brother's side.

With every sentiment of esteem,
I am, dear Sir James,
Ever yours sincerely,

WALTER RUNCIMAN.

March 1919.



PREFACE


This book has evolved from another which I had for years been urged to
write by personal friends. I had chatted occasionally about my own
voyages, related incidents concerning them and the countries and
places I had visited, the ships I had sailed in, the men I had sailed
with, and the sailors of that period. It is one thing to tell
sea-tales in a cosy room and to enjoy living again for a brief time in
the days that are gone; but it is another matter when one is asked to
put the stories into book form. Needless to say for a long time I
shrank from undertaking the task, but was ultimately prevailed upon to
do so. The book was commenced and was well advanced, and, as I could
not depict the sailors of my own period without dealing--as I thought
at the time--briefly with the race of men called buccaneers who were
really the creators of the British mercantile marine and Navy, who
lived centuries before my generation, I was obliged to deal with some
of them, such as Hawkins, Drake, Frobisher, Daimper, Alexander Selkirk
of Robinson Crusoe fame, and others who combined piracy with commerce
and sailorism. After I had written all I thought necessary about the
three former, I instinctively slipped on to Nelson as the greatest
sea personality of the beginning of the last century. I found the
subject so engrossing that I could not centre my thoughts on any
other, so determined to continue my narrative, which is not, and never
was intended to be a life of Nelson. Perhaps it may be properly termed
fragmentary thoughts and jottings concerning the life of an
extraordinary human force, written at intervals when I had leisure
from an otherwise busy life.

Even if I had thought it desirable, it was hardly possible to write
about Nelson without also dealing with Britain's great adversary and
Nelson's distracted opinion of him.

It would be futile to attempt to draw a comparison between the two
men. The one was a colossal human genius, and the other, extraordinary
in the art of his profession, was entirely without the faculty of
understanding or appreciating the distinguished man he flippantly
raged at from his quarterdeck.

But be that as it may, Nelson's terrific aversion to and explosions
against the French and Napoleon, in whose history I had been absorbed
for many years, seem to me to be the deliberate outpouring of a mind
governed by feeling rather than by knowledge as to the real cause of
the wars and of how we came to be involved and continue in them. Nor
does he ever show that he had any clear conception of the history of
Napoleon's advent as the Ruler of the People with whom we were at war.

I have given this book the title of "Drake, Nelson and Napoleon"
because it seemed to me necessary to bring in Drake, the prototype,
and Napoleon, the antagonist of Nelson.

Drake's influence bore fruit in what is known as the Fleet Tradition,
which culminated in the "Nelson touch." No excuse is needed,
therefore, for writing a chapter which shows how little the seaman's
character has changed in essentials since that time. To-day, our
sailors have the same simple direct force which characterized the
Elizabethan seamen and those of Nelsonian times.

Of Napoleon I have written fully in my book "The Tragedy of St.
Helena," and have contented myself here with pointing out how the
crass stupidity and blind prejudice of his opponents have helped
largely to bring about the world-war of our own times. I have also
endeavoured to contrast the statesmanlike attitude of Napoleon with
the short-sighted policy of England's politicians and their allies at
that time.

Having planned the book on such lines, it inevitably follows that
Nelson must occupy a larger space in it than either Drake or Napoleon,
but for that I offer no apology.

WALTER RUNCIMAN.

March 1919.



CONTENTS


DEDICATORY LETTER

PREFACE

1. DRAKE AND THE FLEET TRADITION

2. NELSON AND HIS CIRCLE
   TRAFALGAR, OCT. 21st, 1805
   (_a_) BRITISH ORDER OF BATTLE
   (_b_) A LIST OF THE COMBINED FLEET OF FRANCE AND SPAIN

3. NAPOLEON AND HIS CONNECTION WITH THE WORLD-WAR

4. SEA SONGS

APPENDIX: SOME INCIDENTS OF NELSON'S LIFE
(CHRONOLOGICALLY ARRANGED)

INDEX



ILLUSTRATIONS

LINE OF BATTLE SHIP (EARLY EIGHTEENTH CENTURY)
DRAKE
NELSON
LADY HAMILTON AS "A SIBYL"
CAPTAIN HARDY (OF THE "VICTORY")
"PRINCESS CHARLOTTE."--FRIGATE (EARLY NINETEENTH CENTURY)
H.M.S. "VICTORY" GOING INTO BATTLE AT TRAFALGAR
ADMIRAL COLLINGWOOD
THE EMPEROR NAPOLEON AFTER HIS ACCESSION



DRAKE AND THE FLEET TRADITION


I

The great sailors of the Elizabethan era--Hawkins, Drake, Frobisher,
Howard, Davis, and Sir Humphrey Gilbert--were the prototypes of the
sailors of the nineteenth century. They discovered new lands, opened
up new avenues of commerce, and combined these legitimate forms of
enterprise with others which at this date would be regarded as rank
piracy. Since, however, they believed themselves to be the ambassadors
of God, they did everything in His name, whether it were the seizing
of Spanish treasure or the annexing of new worlds by fair means or
foul, believing quite sincerely in the sanctity of what they did with
a seriousness and faith which now appear almost comic.

For many years the authorities of the Inquisition had plundered goods
and put to death English seamen and merchants, and Spanish Philip,
when remonstrated with, shrugged his shoulders and repudiated the
responsibility by saying that he had no power over the "Holy House."
Drake retaliated by taking possession of and bringing to England a
million and a half of Spanish treasure while the two countries were
not at war. It is said that when Drake laid hands on the bullion at
Panama he sent a message to the Viceroy that he must now learn not to
interfere with the properties of English subjects, and that if four
English sailors who were prisoners in Mexico were ill-treated he would
execute two thousand Spaniards and send him their heads. Drake never
wasted thought about reprisals or made frothy apologetic speeches as
to what would happen to those with whom he was at religious war if
they molested his fellow-countrymen. He met atrocity with atrocity. He
believed it to be his mission to avenge the burning of British seamen
and the Spanish and Popish attempts on the life of his virgin
sovereign. That he knew her to be an audacious flirt, an insufferable
miser, and an incurable political intriguer whose tortuous moves had
to be watched as vigilantly as Philip's assassins and English
traitors, is apparent from reliable records. His mind was saturated
with the belief in his own high destiny, as the chosen instrument to
break the Spanish power in Europe. He was insensible to fear, and knew
how to make other people fear and obey him. He was not only an
invincible crusader, but one of those rare personalities who have the
power of infusing into his comrades his own courage and enthusiasm.
The Spanish said he was "a magician who had sold his soul to the
devil." The Spanish sailors, and Philip himself, together with his
nobles, were terror-stricken at the mention of his name. He was to
them an invincible dragon. Santa Cruz warned his compatriots that the
heretics "had teeth, and could use them." Here is another instance,
selected from many, of the fanatical superstitions concerning Drake's
irresistible power. Medina Sidonia had deserted the Andalusian
squadron. Drake came across the flagship. Her commander said he was
Don Pedro de Valdes, and could only surrender on honourable terms. The
English commander replied, "I am Drake, and have no time to parley.
Don Pedro must surrender or fight." So Don Pedro surrendered to the
gallant captain of the _Revenge_, and lavished him with praise,
evidently glad to have fallen into the hands of so famous and generous
a foe. Drake is said to have treated his captive with elaborate
generosity, while his crew commandeered all the vast treasure. He then
sent the galleon into Dartmouth Harbour, and set off with his
prisoners to chase Medina Sidonia.

In the whole range of Drake's adventurous career there does not appear
to be any evidence of his having been possessed with the idea of
supernatural assistance, though if perchance he missed any of Philip's
treasure-ships he complacently reported "the reason" to those in
authority as "being best known to God," and there the incident ended.
On the other hand, the Deity was no mystery to him. His belief in a
Supreme Power was real, and that he worked in harmony with It he never
doubted. When he came across anything on land or sea which he thought
should be appropriated for the benefit of his Queen and country, or
for himself and those who were associated with him in his piratical
enterprises, nothing was allowed to stand in his way, and, generally
speaking, he paralysed all resistance to his arms into submission by
an inexorable will and genius. The parsimonious Elizabeth was always
slyly willing to receive the proceeds of his dashing deeds, but never
unduly generous in fixing his share of them. She allowed her ships to
lie rotting when they should have been kept in sound and efficient
condition, and her sailors to starve in the streets and seaports.
Never a care was bestowed on these poor fellows to whom she owed so
much. Drake and Hawkins, on the other hand, saw the national danger,
and founded a war fund called the "Chatham Chest"; and, after great
pressure, the Queen granted £20,000 and the loan of six battleships to
the Syndicate. Happily the commercial people gave freely, as they
always do. What trouble these matchless patriots had to overcome!
Intrigue, treason, religious fanaticism, begrudging of supplies, the
constant shortage of stores and provisions at every critical stage of
a crisis, the contradictory instructions from the exasperating Tudor
Queen: the fleet kept in port until the chances of an easy victory
over England's bitterest foes had passed away! But for the vacillation
of the icy virgin, Drake's Portugal expedition would have put the
triumph of the Spanish Armada to the blush, and the great Admiral
might have been saved the anguish of misfortune that seemed to follow
his future daring adventures for Spanish treasure on land and sea
until the shadows of failure compassed him round. His spirit broken
and his body smitten with incurable disease, the fleet under his
command anchored at Puerto Bello after a heavy passage from Escudo de
Veragua, a pestilential desert island. He was then in delirium, and on
the 28th January, 1596, the big soul of our greatest seaman passed
away beyond the veil. His body was put into a lead and oak coffin and
taken a few miles out to sea, and amidst manifestations of great
sorrow he was lowered down the side and the waters covered him over.
Two useless prize ships were sunk beside him, and there they may still
lie together. The fleet, having lost their guiding spirit, weighed
anchor and shaped their course homewards.

Drake was not merely a seaman and the creator of generations of
sailors, but he was also a sea warrior of superb naval genius. It was
he who invented the magnificent plan of searching for his country's
enemies in every creek into which he could get a craft. He also imbued
Her Gracious Majesty and Her Gracious Majesty's seamen with the idea
that in warfare on sea or land it is a first principle to strike first
if you wish to gain the field and hold it. Having smashed his
antagonist, he regarded it as a plain duty in the name of God to live
on his beaten foes and seize their treasures of gold, silver,
diamonds, works of art, etc., wherever these could be laid hold of.
The First Lady of the Land was abashed at the gallant sailor's bold
piratical efforts. She would not touch the dirty, ill-gotten stuff
until the noble fellow had told her the fascinating story of his
matchless adventures and slashing successes. Doubtless the astute
Admiral had learned that his blameless Queen was only averse to
sharing with him the plunder of a risky voyage until he had assured
her again and again that her cousin, Philip of Spain, had his
voracious eye on her life, her throne, and all her British
possessions, wherever they might be.

The valiant seaman appears to have played daintily and to good effect
with the diabolical acts of the Spaniards, such as the burning of
English seamen, until they roused in Elizabeth the spirit of
covetousness and retaliation. It was easy then for her incorruptible
integrity (!) to surrender to temptation. A division of what had been
taken from Philip's subjects was forthwith piously made. Elizabeth,
being the chief of the contracting parties, took with her accustomed
grace the queenly share. On one occasion she walked in the parks with
Drake, held a royal banquet on board the notorious _Pelican_, and
knighted him; while he, in return for these little attentions,
lavished on his Queen presents of diamonds, emeralds, etc. The
accounts which have been handed down to us seem, in these days,
amazing in their cold-blooded defiance of honourable dealing. But we
must face the hard facts of the necessity of retaliation against the
revolting deeds of the Inquisition and the determined, intriguing
policy of worming Popery into the hearts of a Protestant nation, and
then we realize that Drake's methods were the "invention" of an
inevitable alternative either to fight this hideous despotism with
more desperate weapons and greater vigour than the languid,
luxury-loving Spaniards had taken the trouble to create or succumb to
their tremendous power of wealth and wickedness. Drake was the chosen
instrument of an inscrutable destiny, and we owe it to him that the
divided England of that day was saved from annihilation. He broke the
power of Spain at sea, and established England as the first naval and
mercantile Power in the world. He was the real founder of generations
of seamen, and his undying fame will inspire generations yet unborn to
maintain the supremacy of the seas.

The callous, brutal attitude of Elizabeth towards a race of men who
had given their lives and souls so freely in every form of danger and
patriotic adventure because they believed it to be a holy duty is one
of the blackest pages of human history. The cruelties of the Spanish
Inquisition and the treatment of sailors in the galleys were only
different in degree, and while there are sound reasons for condemning
the Queen and the ruling classes of that time for conduct that would
not be tolerated in these days, it is unquestionably true that it was
a difficult task to keep under control the spirit of rebellion of that
period, as it is to-day. Doubtless those in authority were, in their
judgment, compelled to rule with a heavy hand in order to keep in
check wilful breaches of discipline.

Attempts to mutiny and acts of treason were incidents in the wonderful
career of Francis Drake which frequently caused him to act with
severity. Doughty, the Spanish spy, who was at one time a personal
friend of Drake's, resolved to betray his commander. Doughty was
caught in the act, tried by a court composed of men serving under
Drake, found guilty, and after dining with the Admiral, chatting
cheerfully as in their friendly days, they drank each other's health
and had some private conversation not recorded; then Doughty was led
to the place of execution and had his head chopped off, Drake
exclaiming as it fell, "Lo, this is the end of traitors!" Then Drake
relieved Fletcher of his duties as chaplain by telling him softly that
he would "preach this day." The ship's company was called together and
he exhorted them to harmony, warning them of the danger of discord.
Then in his breezy phraseology he exclaims, "By the life of God, it
doth even take my wits from me to think of it." The crew, it appears,
was composed of gentlemen, who were obviously putting on airs, and
sailors, who resented their swank as much as did the great captain. So
Drake proceeds to lay the law down vehemently. "Let us show
ourselves," said he, "all to be of one company, and let us not give
occasion to the enemy to rejoice at our decay and overthrow. Show me
the man that would refuse to set his hand to a rope, but I know that
there is not any such here." Then he proceeds to drive home his plan
of discipline with vigour. "And as gentlemen are necessary for
government's sake in the voyage, so I have shipped them to that and to
some further intent." He does not say quite what it is, but they
doubtless understand that it is meant to be a warning lest he should
be compelled to put them through some harsh form of punishment. He
concludes his memorable address with a few candid words, in which he
declares that he knows sailors to be the most envious people in the
world and, in his own words, "unruly without government," yet, says
he, "May I not be without them!" It is quite clear that Drake would
have no class distinction. His little sermon sank deep into the souls
of his crew, so that when he offered the _Marigold_ to those who had
lost heart, to take them back to England, he had not only made them
ashamed of their refractory conduct, but imbued them with a new
spirit, which caused them to vie with each other in professions of
loyalty and eagerness to go on with him and comply with all the
conditions of the enterprise.

The great commander had no room for antics of martyrdom. He gave human
nature first place in his plan of dealing with human affairs. He did
not allow his mind to be disturbed by trifles. He had big jobs to
tackle, and he never doubted that he was the one and only man who
could carry them to a successful issue. He took his instructions from
Elizabeth and her blustering ministers, whom he regarded as just as
likely to serve Philip as the Tudor Queen if it came to a matter of
deciding between Popery and Protestantism. He received their
instructions in a courtly way, but there are striking evidences that
he was ever on the watch for their vacillating pranks, and he always
dashed out of port as soon as he had received the usual hesitating
permission. Once out of reach, he brushed aside imperial instructions
if they stood in the way of his own definite plan of serving the best
interests of his country, and if the course he took did not completely
succeed--which was seldom the case--he believed "the reason was best
known to God."

John Hawkins and Francis Drake had a simple faith in the divine object
they were serving. Hawkins thought it an act of high godliness to
pretend that he had turned Papist, in order that he might revenge and
rescue the remnant of his poor comrades of the San Juan de Ulloa
catastrophe, who were now shut up in Seville yards and made to work in
chains. Sir John hoodwinked Philip by making use of Mr. George
Fitzwilliam, who in turn made use of Rudolfe and Mary Stuart. Mary
believed in the genuineness of the conspiracy to assassinate Elizabeth
and set up the Queen of Scots in her place, to hand over Elizabeth's
ships to Spain, confiscate property, and to kill a number of
anti-Catholic people. The Hawkins counterplot of revenge on Philip and
his guilty confederates was completely successful. The comic audacity
of it is almost beyond belief. The Pope had bestowed his blessing on
the conspiracy, and the Spanish Council of State was enthusiastically
certain of its success. So credulous were they of the great piratical
seaman's conversion, that an agreement was signed pardoning Hawkins
for his acts of piracy in the West Indies and other places; a Spanish
peerage was given him together with £40,000, which was to be used for
equipping the privateer fleet. The money was duly paid in London, and
possibly some of it was used for repairing the British squadron which
Hawkins had pronounced as being composed of the finest ships in the
world for him to hand over to Philip, even though they had been
neglected owing to the Queen's meanness. The plausible way in which
the great seaman put this proposition caught the imagination of the
negotiators. They were captivated by him. He had caused them to
believe that he was a genuine seceder from heresy and from allegiance
to the Queen of England, and was anxious to avow his penitence for the
great sins he had committed against God and the only true faith, and
to make atonement for them in befitting humility. All he asked for was
forgiveness, and in the fullness of magnanimity they were possibly
moved to ask if, in addition to forgiveness, a Spanish peerage, and
£40,000, he would like to commemorate the occasion of his conversion
by a further token of His Spanish Majesty's favour. It is easy to
picture the apparent indifference with which he suggested that he did
not ask for favours, but if he were to ask for anything, it would be
the release from the Inquisition galleys of a few poor sailor
prisoners. The apparently modest request was granted. Hawkins had
risked his life to accomplish this, and now he writes a letter to
Cecil beginning "My very good Lord." I do not give the whole of the
letter. Suffice it to say that he confirms the success of the plot so
far as he is concerned, and in a last paragraph he says, "I have sent
your Lordship the copy of my pardon from the King of Spain, in the
order and manner I have it, with my great titles and honours from the
King, from which God deliver me."

The process by which Hawkins succeeded in obtaining the object he had
in view was the conception of no ordinary man. We talk and write of
his wonderful accomplishments on sea and land, as a skilful, brave
sailor, but he was more than that. He was, in many respects, a genius,
and his courage and resolution were unfailingly magnificent.

I dare say the prank he played on Philip and his advisers would be
regarded as unworthy cunning, and an outrage on the rules of high
honour. Good Protestant Christians disapproved then, as now, the
wickedness of thus gambling with religion to attain any object
whatsoever, and especially of swearing by the Mother of God the
renunciation of the Protestant faith and the adoption of Roman
Catholicism. The Spaniards, who had a hand in this nefarious
proceeding, were quite convinced that, though Hawkins had been a
pirate and a sea robber and murderer, now that he had come over to
their faith the predisposition to his former evil habits would leave
him. These were the high moral grounds on which was based the resolve
to execute Elizabeth and a large number of her subjects, and take
possession of the throne and private property at their will. It was,
of course, the spirit of retaliation for the iniquities of the British
rovers which was condoned by their monarch. In justification of our
part of the game during this period of warfare for religious and
material ascendancy, we stand by the eternal platitude that in that
age we were compelled to act differently from what we should be
justified in doing now. Civilization, for instance, so the argument
goes, was at a low ebb then. I am not so sure that it did not stand
higher than it does now. It is so easy for nations to become
uncivilized, and we, in common with other nations, have a singular
aptitude for it when we think we have a grievance. Be that as it may,
Hawkins, Drake, and the other fine sea rovers had no petty scruples
about relieving Spaniards of their treasure when they came across it
on land or on their ships at sea. Call them by what epithet you like,
they believed in the sanctity of their methods of carrying on war, and
the results for the most part confirmed the accuracy of their
judgment. At any rate, by their bold and resolute deeds they
established British freedom and her supremacy of the seas, and handed
down to us an abiding spirit that has reared the finest seamen and
established our incomparable merchant fleet, the largest and finest in
the world.

There is no shame in wishing the nation to become imbued with the
spirit of these old-time heroes, for the heritage they have bequeathed
to us is divine and lives on. We speak of the great deeds they were
guided to perform, but we rarely stop to think from whence the
inspiration came, until we are touched by a throbbing impulse that
brings us into the presence of the great mystery, at which who would
dare to mock?

It is strange that Hawkins' and Drake's brilliant and tragic careers
should have been brought to an end by the same disease within a short
time of each other and not many miles apart, and that their mother,
the sea, should have claimed them at last in the vicinity of the scene
of their first victorious encounter with their lifelong enemies, the
Spaniards. The death of the two invincibles, who had long struck
terror into the hearts of their foes, was the signal for prolonged
rejoicings in the Spanish Main and the Indies, while the British
squadron, battered and disease-smitten, made its melancholy way
homeward with the news of the tragedy.

For a time the loss of these commanding figures dealt a blow at the
national spirit. There are usually long intervals between Cæsars and
Napoleons. Nations have, in obedience to some law of Nature, to pass
through periods of mediocre rule, and when men of great genius and
dominating qualities come to clear up the mess, they are only
tolerated possibly by fear, and never for long by appreciation. A
capricious public soon tires of these living heroes. It is after they
are dead that they become abiding examples of human greatness, not so
much to their contemporaries as to those generations that follow them.
The historian has a great deal to do with the manner in which the fame
of a great man is handed down to posterity, and it should never be
forgotten that historians have to depend on evidence which may be
faulty, while their own judgment may not always be sound. It is a most
difficult task to discipline the mind into a perfectly unbiased
condition. The great point is to state honestly what you believe, and
not what you may know those you are speaking to wish you to say. The
contemporaries of Hawkins and Drake unquestionably regarded them with
high admiration, but I question whether they were deified then as they
are now. The same thing applies to Nelson and Collingwood, of whom I
shall speak later on, as the historian has put the stamp upon their
great deeds also.

Drake and Hawkins attracted attention because of their daring voyages
and piratical enterprises on Spanish property on sea and land. Every
obstacle was brushed aside. Danger ever appealed to them. They dashed
into fortified ports filled with warships fully equipped, silenced the
forts, sank and set fire to Philip's vessels, and made everything and
everybody fly before them in the belief that hell had been let loose.
To the superstitious Spanish mind it seemed as though the English must
be under Satanic protection when they slashed their way undaunted into
the midst of dangers which would inevitably spell death for the mere
mortal. These corsairs of ours obviously knew and took advantage of
this superstition, for cannon were never resorted to without good
reason, and never without effect. The deliberate defiance of any
written or unwritten law that forbade their laying hands on the
treasure they sought so diligently, and went far and near to find,
merely increased public admiration. Elizabeth pretended that they were
very trying to her Christian virtues. But leave out of count the
foregoing deeds--which no one can dispute were prodigious, and quite
equal to the part these men played in the destruction of the
Armada--what could be more dashingly brilliant in naval warfare than
Drake's raids on San Domingo, Carthagena, Cadiz, and other ports and
cities of old and new Spain, to which I have already briefly alluded?
It was their great successes in their great undertakings, no matter
whether it was "shocking piracy" or not, that immortalized these
terrible creators of England's greatness all the world over!

Thomas Cobham, a member of a lordly and Protestant family, became a
sailor, and soon became fascinated with the gay life of privateering.
Once when in command of a vessel, eagerly scouring the seas for
Spanish prizes, one was sighted, bound from Antwerp to Cadiz. Cobham
gave chase, easily captured her in the Bay of Biscay, and discovered
there were forty Inquisition prisoners aboard. After rescuing the
prisoners, the captain and crew of the Spanish vessel were then sewn
up in their own mainsail and tossed into the sea, no doubt with such
sententious expressions of godliness as was thought befitting to
sacred occasions of that period. This ceremony having been performed,
the vessel was scuttled, so that she might nevermore be used in
trading with British sailors or any one else for Inquisition
purposes. When the story became known, the case was discreetly
inquired into, and very properly the gallant Cobham was never
punished, and was soon running here and there at his old game.

It may be taken for granted that there was no mincing matters when an
opportunity for reprisals occurred. The Spaniards had carried
barbarism to such a pitch in seizing our ships and condemning their
crews to the galleys, that Queen Elizabeth was never averse to meeting
murder and plunder by more than the equivalent in retaliation, except
when she imagined that Philip was showing signs of overpowering
strength; she then became timid and vacillating. She was never
mentally disturbed by the moral side of the great deeds that brought
her vast stores of plunder. Moreover, she could always find an
accommodating bishop to put her qualms (if she ever had any, except
those of consequence to herself) at rest on points of conscience. One
noted personage, who held high ecclesiastical office, told her that it
was a virtue to seize treasure when she knew it would otherwise be
used for the purpose of murdering her Protestant subjects. Sir Arthur
Champernowne, a noted vice-admiral of Elizabeth's reign, in writing to
Cecil of the vessel that had put into Plymouth through stress of
weather with the needy Philip's half-million of ducats on board,
borrowed, it is said, from a Genoa firm of financiers, said it should
be claimed as fair booty. Sir Arthur's view was that anything taken
from so perfidious a nation was both necessary and profitable to the
Commonwealth. No doubt a great deal of pious discussion would centre
round the Vice-Admiral's easy moral but very logical opinions. The
main thing in his mind, and in that of everybody else who was free
from poisoned cant, was that the most shocking crimes were being
openly advocated by Philip, King of Spain, against all European
Protestants, rich or poor, who came within the clutches of the savages
that administered the cruelties of the Inquisition. The canting crowd
shrieked against the monstrous impiety of such notions, but their
efforts to prove purity of motive were unavailing.

After considered thought by a committee of men of high rectitude, it
was decided to act without fear or favour in a strictly impartial
manner, so Philip's half-million of bullion was divided between the
Prince of Orange and the rigid moralist, Elizabeth, who is credited
with having spent her share on the Navy, a very admirable way of
disposing of it.

This act was the cause of a deluge of reprisals on the part of Spain.
But, from all accounts, Elizabeth's corsairs had always the best of it
in matters of material importance. The Spanish are naturally a proud,
brave race. In the middle of the sixteenth century their power
dominated two-thirds of the universe, and had they stuck to business,
and not so feverishly to the spreading of their religious faith by
violent means, they might have continued a predominant nation.

Their civil, naval, and military position was unequalled. The
commerce and wealth of the whole world was pre-eminently in their
hands, and in common with other nations who arrive at heights of
power, prosperity, and grandeur (which last sits so easily on the
Spaniard), they gave way to pleasures and to the luxury of laziness
which invariably carries with it sensuality. Wherever they found
themselves in the ascendancy, they intrigued to impose the Roman faith
on the population, and if that method did not succeed with felicity,
whenever the agents of their governing classes, including their king,
met with opposition from prominent men or women, their opponents were
put to the rack, burnt, or their heads sent flying. In this country no
leading Protestant's life or property was safe. Even Elizabeth, during
the reign of her half-sister, Mary, was obliged to make believe that
her religious faith was Roman in harmony with that of the Queen. It
was either adoption, deception, or execution, and the future queen
outwitted all their traps and inventions until Mary passed on, and
Elizabeth took her place on the throne.

Meanwhile, Spain, as I have indicated, was tampering with abiding
laws. Catastrophe always follows perilous habits of life, which were
correctly attributed to the Spanish. As with individuals, so it is
with nations; pride can never successfully run in conjunction with the
decadence of wealth. It is manifestly true that it is easier for a
nation to go up than to realize that it has come down, and during long
years Spain has had to learn this bitter lesson. It was not only
imperious pride of race and extravagant grandeur that brought the
destruction of her supremacy of the seas, and the wealth and supremacy
of many lands, but their intolerable religious despotism towards those
who were not already, and refused to become, as I have said, adherents
of the Roman Catholic creed. Poor wretches who were not strong enough
to defend themselves had the mark of heretics put on them; and for
nearly thirty years Spaniards carried on a system of burning British
seamen whenever they could lay hands on them. They kept up a constant
system of spying and plotting against the British Protestant Queen and
her subjects of every position in life. The policy of the Spanish King
and government was to make the British and other races vassals of the
Pope. Philip, like all powerful monarchs and individuals who are put
into power without any of the qualities of fitness to fill a high
post, always believed that his presence on earth was an act of supreme
Providence. Philip, in proclaiming his glorious advent for the good of
mankind, explained it with a decorum that had a fascinating flavour.
Unlike some imitators of great personalities, he was never vulgarly
boastful in giving expression to the belief that his power came from
above and would be sustained by the mystery that gave him it in such
abundance, but, in fact, he never doubted what was known as the
doctrine of the divine right of kings.

The human support which kept him in authority did not enter into his
calculations. The popular notions of the democracies then was that no
physical force could sever the alliance which existed between God and
monarchs; and there is no evidence that Philip was ever disillusioned.
He regarded his adversaries, especially Hawkins and Drake, in the
light of magicians possessed of devilish spirits that were in conflict
with the wishes of the Deity. His highly placed and best naval
officer, Santa Cruz, took a more realistic view than his master,
though he might have had doubts as to whether the people who were at
war with Spain were not a species of devil. But he expressed the view
which even at this distance of time shows him to have been a man of
sane, practical thought. Philip imagined he could agree with the acts
of assassins (and also support the Holy Office) in their policy of
burning English sailors as heretics. Santa Cruz reflected more deeply,
and advised the King that such acts were positively courting disaster,
because "the British corsairs had teeth, and could use them."

Spain looked upon her naval position as impregnable, but Elizabeth's
pirates contemptuously termed it "a Colossus stuffed with clouts."
Priests, crucifixes, and reliance on supernatural assistance had no
meaning for them. If any suggestion to impose on them by such means
had been made, they would have cast the culprits over the side into
the sea. They were peculiarly religious, but would tolerate no saintly
humbugs who lived on superstition. When they had serious work in hand,
they relied on their own mental and physical powers, and if they
failed in their objective, they reverently remarked, "The reason is
best known to God"--a simple, unadorned final phrase.

Some of the sayings and doings, reliable or unreliable, that have been
handed down to us, are extremely comical, looking at them from our
religious standpoint in these days; for instance, Drake's method of
dealing with insubordination, his idea of how treason was to be
stamped out, and the trial of Doughty, the traitor.

People who sit in cosy houses, which these early sailors made it
possible for them in other days and now to acquire, may regard many of
the disciplinary methods of Drake and his sea contemporaries as sheer
savage murder, but these critics are not quite qualified to judge as
to the justice or injustice of the actions of one man who is
responsible for the safe and proper navigation of a vessel, no matter
whether on an enterprising voyage of piracy, fair trade, or invasion.
If a nautical project is to be carried out with complete success, the
first element in the venture is discipline, and the early seafarers
believed this, as their successors have always done, especially during
the different periods of the sailing-ship era. A commander, if he
wishes to be successful in keeping the spirit of rebellion under, must
imbue those under him with a kind of awe. This only succeeds if the
commander has a magnetic and powerful will, combined with quick action
and sound, unhesitating judgment. All the greatest naval and military
chiefs have had and must have now these essential gifts of nature if
they are to be successful in their art. The man of dashing expediency
without judgment or knowledge is a great peril in any responsible
position. When either a ship or nation or anything else is in trouble,
it is the cool, calculating, orderly administrator, who never makes
chaos or destructive fuss, that succeeds. That is essential, and it is
only this type of person that so often saves both ships, armies, and
nations from inevitable destruction. The Duke of Wellington used to
say that "In every case, the winning of a battle was always a damned
near thing." One of the most important characteristics of Drake's and
Hawkins' genius was their fearless accurate methods of putting the
fear of God into the Spaniards, both at sea and ashore. The mention of
their names made Philip's flesh creep. Even Admiral Santa Cruz, in
common with his compatriots, thought Drake was "The Serpent"--"The
Devil." And the Spanish opinion of him helped Drake to win many a
tough battle. Amongst the thrilling examples are his dashes into
Corunna and Cadiz. Drake never took the risk before calculating the
cost and making certain of where the vulnerable weak spot of the enemy
lay, and when and where to strike it. The complete vanquishing of the
Armada is another instance of Drake's great qualities of slashing yet
sound judgment put accurately into effect.

Of course, the honours of the defeat of the Armada must always be
shared with other naval experts who had acquired their knowledge of
sea warfare in what is called the piratical line. But the spirit that
inflamed the whole British fleet was that of Drake, Hawkins,
Frobisher, Seymour, and Howard, and the inspiration came mainly from
the two former. On the Spanish side, as a naval battle, it was a
fiasco, a mere colossal clerical burlesque. Neither naval strategy nor
ordinary seamanship was in evidence on the part of the chief commander
or his admirals. The men fought with rough-and-tumble heroism. The
sailors were only second in quality to our own, but there was no plan
of battle, and the poor Duke of Medina Sidonia had neither knowledge
of naval affairs nor courage. Philip's theory seems to have been that
any lack of efficiency in the art of war by his commanders would be
made up by the spiritual encouragement of the priests dangling their
crucifixes about the decks amongst the sailors and soldiers, who had
been put through a course of instruction on spiritual efficacy before
sailing on their doomed expedition. They were made to believe that the
Spanish cause was so just that assistance would be given from God to
defeat the "infernal devils" and to invade their country.

This great battle transferred the sea supremacy from the Spanish to
the British, who have held it, with one interval, ever since, and will
continue to hold it, provided that Philip's theories of relying merely
on the help that comes from above be supplemented by, first, the
appointment of a proper head at the Admiralty with some nautical
instinct and knowledge of affairs; and secondly, the keeping up of an
efficient fleet, manned with efficient officers and men. Heaven helps
those who help themselves. No department of government can be properly
managed by novices. The reckless, experimental appointment of untried
men to positions of grave responsibility on which the happiness,
comfort, and life of the whole public may depend, and the very
existence of the country be put in jeopardy, is a gamble, and may be a
crime.

It is always risky to assume that any person holding authority in the
bigger affairs of life is in consequence an instrument of Providence.
Had the conception of the Armada and the organization of every detail
been put into the hands of experienced and trained experts with sound
judgment in naval matters, such as Admiral Santa Cruz, and had it not
been for Philip and his landsman ideas of the efficacy of priests and
crucifixes, and greenhorns such as the Duke of Medina Sidonia and his
landlubber colleagues, Spain might never have been involved in the
Armada fight, and if she had, it is scarcely likely that so appalling
a disaster could have come to her. Apart from any fighting, the fact
of having no better sea knowledge or judgment than to anchor the
Spanish ships in an open roadstead like Calais was courting the loss
of the whole Spanish fleet. One of the fundamental precautions of
seamanship is never to anchor on a lee shore or in an open roadstead,
without a means of escape. The dunderheaded Spanish commanders made
their extermination much more easy for the highly trained British
seamen of all grades, none of whom had any reason to hide their heads
in shame for any part they individually took in the complete ruin of
the Spanish Navy.

One cannot read the sordid story without feeling a pang of pity for
the proud men, such as Recaldo, who died on landing at Bilbao; or
Oquendo, whose home was at Santander. He refused to see his wife and
children, turned his face to the wall, and died of a broken heart
begotten of shame. The soldiers and sailors were so weak they could
not help themselves, and died in hundreds on the ships that crawled
back to Spain. The tragic fate of these vessels and their crews that
were dashed to pieces on the rocks of the Hebrides and Ireland added
greatly to the tale of horror. Philip was crushed, but was a man of
tender sympathies, and free from vindictive resentment against those
who were placed in charge of his terrific and ill-fated navy. He
worked and exhorted others to relieve the sufferers in every possible
way. He obviously regarded the disaster as a divine rebuke, and
submissively acquiesced with true Spanish indolence, saying that he
believed it to be the "great purpose of Heaven."

On the authority of the Duke of Parma, "The English regarded their
victory with modesty, and were languidly indifferent to their valour."
They looked upon the defeat of the Spanish Navy as a token of the
Ruler of all things being decidedly partial to the Protestant faith.
The Spaniards, as a whole, would not allow that Heaven was against
them or that the verdict was that of Providence. They declared that it
was entirely the result of the superior management of the English
ships and the fighting quality of their crews. With this chivalrous
testimonial no one could then or will now disagree. It was very
sporting of them to admit the superiority of the British ships and
seamanship.

Drake and his compeers had reason to be proud of their efforts in the
great naval contest. Their reputations were enhanced by it all over
the world, though never a sign or word came from themselves about
their gallantry. They looked upon these matters as mere incidents of
their enterprising lives.


II

But it is really in the lesser sea encounters, though they probably
had just as great results, that we become enthralled by Drake's
adventurous voyages. The Armada affair was more like the battle of
Trafalgar, one of the differences being that in the latter engagement
the Spanish ships did not risk going far into the open sea, but wisely
kept Cadiz open for retreat, which they availed themselves of after
receiving a dreadful pounding. Drake's voyage in the _Pelican_
excelled anything that had ever been accomplished by previous sea
rovers, and his expedition to the West Indies was a great feat. He
always had trouble with Queen Elizabeth about money when organizing
his voyages. Her Spanish brother-in-law's power was always in her
thoughts. He never allowed her to forget that if he were provoked he
would invade England, and notwithstanding her retort that England had
a long arm which he would do well to fear, her courage alternated with
some nervousness at times. Elizabeth was not so much concerned about
his threat of excommunication of her as the sly tricks in conjunction
with the Pope in spreading the spirit of rebellion in Ireland, and in
other ways conspiring against her. Her mood was at one time to defy
him, and at another conciliatory and fearful lest her pirate chiefs
should do anything to provoke Spanish susceptibilities. Drake was much
hampered by her moods when he wanted to get quickly to business, and
never lost an opportunity of slipping out of her reach when his
eloquence on the acquisition of untold wealth and the capture of some
of Philip's distant colonies had appealed to her boundless avarice and
made her conscience easy. His expedition to the West Indies might
never have been undertaken had he not been a dare-devil fellow, to
whom Burleigh's wink was as good as a nod to be off. He slipped out of
port unknown to her, and his first prize was a large Spanish ship
loaded with salt fish. He pounced upon her after passing Ushant, and
the excellent cargo was suitably distributed amongst the fleet.

There were 25 privateers, and a company of 2,500 men on this
expedition. All were volunteers, and represented every grade of
society, high and low. There was never any difficulty in getting a
supply of men. On this occasion the applications largely outnumbered
the posts available. Drake could always depend upon volunteers, and,
like all men of superb action, he had no liking for conscription. He
knew that in the performance and carrying out of great deeds (and
nearly all of his were terrific) it is men aflame with courage and
enthusiasm that carry the day, and take them as a whole, conscripts
are never wholehearted. The two great characteristics of the British
race--initiative and endurance--are due to this burning flame of
voluntarism.

The West India expedition was organized and all expenses guaranteed by
private individuals. The capital was £60,000, and its allocation was
£40,000 for expenses and £20,000 to be distributed amongst those who
had volunteered to serve. Both men and officers had signed on without
any stipulation for wages. They knew they were out for a piratical
cruise, and welcomed any danger, great or small, that would give them
a chance of making it not only a monetary success, but one that would
give Spanish autocracy another shattering blow. These ancient mariners
never trifled with life, and no sombre views or fatal shadows
disturbed their spirited ambition or caused them to shrink from their
strenuous and stupendous work. They went forth in their cockleshell
fleet as full of hope and confidence as those who are accustomed to
sail and man a transatlantic liner of the present day. Some of their
vessels were but little larger than a present-day battleship's tender.
Neither roaring forties nor Cape Horn hurricanes intimidated them. It
is only when we stop to think, that we realize how great these
adventurers were, and how much we owe to their sacred memories.

In addition to being ridiculously small and shabby in point of
efficiency in rigging, sails, and general outfit, it will always be a
mystery how it was that so few were lost by stress of weather or even
ordinary navigable risks. They were veritable boxes in design, and
their rig alone made it impossible for them to make rapid passages,
even if they had wished to do so. As I write these lines, and think of
my own Western Ocean experiences in well-designed, perfectly equipped,
large and small sailing vessels during the winter hurricane months,
when the passages were made literally under water and every liquid
mountain seemed to forebode immediate destruction, it taxes my
nautical knowledge to understand how these inferior and smaller craft
which Drake commanded did not succumb to the same elements that have
carried superior vessels in later years to their doom. One reason that
occurs to me is that they were never deeply laden, and they were
accustomed to ride hurricanes out when they had plenty of sea room at
their sea anchors.

But nothing can detract from what our generation may describe as their
eccentric genius in combining navigation with piracy and naval and
military art. Talk about "human vision"! What is the good of it if it
turns out nothing but unrestrained confusion? The men of the period I
am writing about had real "vision," and applied it with accuracy
without disorganizing the machinery of life and making the world a
miserable place to live in. They were all for country and none for
self.

After the capture of the Spanish ship and the appropriation of her
cargo of fish, Drake's fleet went lounging along towards Vigo. In due
course he brought his ships to anchor in the harbour, and lost no time
in coming in contact with Don Pedro Bendero, the Spanish governor, who
was annoyed at the British Admiral's unceremonious appearance. Don
Pedro said that he was not aware that his country was at war with
Britain. Drake quickly disillusioned him, and demanded, "If we are not
at war, why have English merchants been arrested?" Don Pedro said an
order had come for their release. Drake landed forthwith a portion of
his force, and seeing that he meant business that foreboded trouble,
the governor sent him wine, fruit, and other luxurious articles of
food in abundance. The ships were anchored in a somewhat open
roadstead, so Drake resolved to take them farther up the waterway
where they would lie comfortably, no matter from what direction the
threatening storm might break. But he had another shrewd object in
view, which was to make a beginning in acquiring any of the valuable
and treasured possessions adorning the churches. A trusted officer who
was in his confidence, and a great admirer of his wisdom and other
personal qualities, was sent to survey the passage and to find a
suitable anchorage. He was a man of enterprise, with a strong dislike
to the Roman Catholic faith, and never doubted that he was perfectly
justified in relieving the churches of plate and other valuables.
These were, in his eyes, articles of idolatry that no man of puritanic
and Protestant principles could refrain from removing and placing
under the safe keeping of his revered chief, who was no more averse to
robbing a church than he was to robbing a ship carrying gold or fish.

As the vessel in charge of this intrepid officer, whose name was
Carlile, approached the town where it was proposed to anchor the fleet
the inhabitants fled, taking with them much of the church plate and
other things which the British had covetously thought an appropriate
prize of theirs. Carlile, being a man of resource, soon laid hold of
other church treasure, which amply compensated for the loss of that
which was carried off by the fleeing inhabitants at the mouth of the
harbour. The day following Christopher Carlile's satisfactory survey
the fleet was anchored off the town. The sight of it threw the whole
district into panic. A pompous governor of Galicia hastened to Vigo,
and on his arrival there he took fright at the number of ships and the
dreaded name of the pirate chief who was in command. It would be
futile to show fight, so he determined to accommodate himself to the
Admiral's terms, which were that he should have a free hand to
replenish the fleet with water and provisions, or any other odds and
ends, without interference. This being accomplished, he agreed to
sail, and no doubt the governor thought he had made a judicious
bargain in getting rid of him so easily. But Drake all the time had
the Spanish gold fleet in his mind. Sacrifices must be made in order
that it may be captured, so off he went for the Cape de Verde islands,
and found when he got there that the treasure-ships had arrived and
sailed only a few hours before. The disappointment was, according to
custom, taken with Christian composure. He had the aptitude of
switching his mind from one form of warfare to another. As I have
said, he would just as soon attack and plunder a city as a church or a
ship. Drake had missed the gold fleet, so he turned his attention to
the treasures of Santiago. When the governor and population were made
aware that the distinguished visitor to their island was the terrible
"El Draque," they and their spiritual advisers as usual flew to the
mountains, without neglecting to take their money and priceless
possessions with them. Drake looted as much as was left in the city of
wine and other valuables, but he got neither gold nor silver, and
would probably have left Santiago unharmed but for the horrible murder
of one of his sailor-boys, whose body was found hacked to pieces. This
settled the doom of the finest built city in the Old World. "El
Draque" at once set fire to it and burnt it to ashes, with that
thoroughness which characterized all such dealings in an age when
barbaric acts justified more than equivalent reprisals.

It would have been a wiser course for the governor to have treated for
the ransom of the town than to have murdered a poor sailor lad who was
innocently having a stroll. It is balderdash to talk of the Spaniards
as being too proud to treat with a person whom they believed to be
nothing better than a pirate. The Spaniards, like other nationalities,
were never too proud to do anything that would strengthen or maintain
their supremacy. Their apparent pride in not treating with Drake at
Santiago and on other rare occasions was really the acme of terror at
hearing his name; there was neither high honour nor grandee dignity
connected with it. As to Philip's kingly pride, it consisted in
offering a special reward of £40,000 to have Elizabeth's great sailor
assassinated or kidnapped. There were many to whom the thought of the
bribe was fascinating. Numerous attempts were made, but whenever the
assassins came within sound of his name or sight of him or his ships
they became possessed of involuntary twitchy sensations, and fled in a
delirium of fear, which was attributed to his being a magician.

As soon as Drake had avenged the sailor-boy's murder he sailed for the
West Indies. When he got into the hot latitudes the plague of yellow
fever appeared, and nearly three hundred of his men died in a few
days. Arriving at Dominica, they found the Caribs had a deadly hatred
of the Spanish, and when they learned that the British were at war
with Spain they offered to prescribe a certain cure for yellow jack
which was eminently effectual. After disinfecting the ships, and
getting supplied with their requirements, the fleet left for San
Domingo, via St. Kitts, which was uninhabited at that time. Domingo
was one of the most beautiful and most wealthy islands in the world.
Columbus and his brother, Diego, are buried in the cathedral there.
The population believed themselves to be immune from harm or invasion
on this distant island home, but Drake soon disillusioned them. His
devoted lieutenant, Christopher Carlile, was selected as usual to find
a suitable channel and landing, a hazardous and almost unattainable
quest, but in his and Drake's skilful hands their object was
accomplished. The ships were brought into port, and in his usual
direct way Drake demanded that the garrison of the castle should
surrender without parley, and it was done. Drake was not finished with
them yet; he wished to know from the governor what terms he was
prepared to offer in order that the city should be saved from pillage.
A negro boy was sent with this dispatch, and raging with the disgrace
of surrendering to the British Admiral, an officer ran a lance through
the boy's body. The poor boy was just able to get back, and died
immediately, close to where Drake was. The Spaniards had allowed their
vicious pride to incite them to commit murder and to insult the
British Admiral, who promptly avenged both deeds by having two friars
taken to the place where the boy had been stabbed, and there hanged.
"El Draque" sent a further note to the governor informing him that
unless the officer who murdered his messenger was executed at once by
the Spanish authorities he would hang two friars for every day that it
was put off. Needless to say, no more friars were hung, as the officer
paid the penalty of his crime without further delay. The lacerated
dignity of the Spaniards was still further tried by the demand for the
ransom of the city, and their procrastination cost them dear.

Drake's theology was at variance with that of the Founder of our
faith. His method was rigid self-assertion, and the power of the
strong. The affront he conceived to have been laid upon him and upon
the country he represented could only be wiped out by martial law.
Theoretic babbling about equality had no place in his ethics of the
universe. He proceeded to raid and burn both private dwellings,
palaces, and magazines; and the Government House, which was reputed to
be the finest building in the world, was operated upon for a month,
until it was reduced to dust. These are some of the penalties that
would have gladdened the heart of the gallant Beresford and his Albert
Hall comrades of our time had they been carried out against the
Germans, who have excelled the Spaniards of Philip's reign in cultured
murder and other brutalities in a war that has cost William II his
throne and brought the period of civilization perilously near its end.
It may be that the instability of petty statesmanship is to disappear,
and that Providence may have in unseen reserve a group of men with
mental and physical powers capable of subduing human virulence and
re-creating out of the chaos the Germans have made a new and enduring
civilization; and when they shall appear their advent will be
applauded by the stricken world.

Incidentally, it may be added that the German nation, which has
endangered the existence of civilization, would never have been
despised or thought ill of on account of its defeat by the Allies. It
is their unjustifiable method of beginning the war, and the dirty
brutal tricks by which they sought to win it, which have created
enduring mistrust and animosity against them. The law of human
fairness is no more exacting to small communities or individuals than
it is to nations.

Drake continued his relentless reprisals against San Domingo. The
burning of British sailors as heretics possessed his mind. The
distracted governor would have given his soul to get rid of him, but
Drake demanded money, and this the governor pleaded was not available,
but he was ultimately forced to provide 25,000 ducats, equalling
£50,000. This was accepted after the town had been shattered to pieces
and the shipping destroyed. The cathedral was the only important
building left intact, the probable reason being that the remains of
the great navigator, Columbus, were entombed there. Already the
mortality amongst Drake's crew had been alarmingly heavy, and he was
too wise a man to gamble with their lives until the bad season came
on, so he settled up and hurried away into the fresh sea breezes,
determined to give many more Spanish possessions a thorough shaking
up. The news that the freebooters were near at hand, and that they
were committing shocking deeds of theft and destruction on the way,
had filtered to the Carribean Sea, and struck the somnolent
population with terror. Carthagena, a magnificent city and the capital
of the Spanish Main, was Drake's next objective. He had large hopes of
doing well there. The health of most of his crew had improved and was
now robust, and their fighting spirits had been kindled to a high
pitch by their gallant chief, whose eye of genius was centred on a big
haul of material things. On arrival off the port, Carlile, whose
resource and courage were always in demand, was put in charge of a
strong force. He led the attack, mounted the parapets, drove the
Spanish garrison away in confusion, killed the commander, and
subsequently destroyed a large number of ships which were lazily lying
in the port. Many English prisoners were released, which was a godsend
in filling the places of those who had died.

The combative pretensions of the governor had received a severe shock.
He was beaten, and Drake, like a true sportsman, asked him and his
suite to dine with him, and with an air of Spanish dignity he
accepted. The occasion was memorable for the royal way the
distinguished guests were treated. The governor was studiously
cordial, and obviously wished to win the favour of his remorseless
visitors, so asked Drake and his officers to do him the honour of
accepting his hospitality in return, which they did. What form the
interchange of civilities took is not quite clear, but the governor's
apparent amiableness did not in any way move Drake to exercise
generosity. His object was ransom, and if this was agreed to
good-naturedly, all the better for the Spaniards, but he was neither
to be bought nor sold by wily tactics, nor won over by golden-tongued
rhetoric. The price of the rugged Devonshire sailor's alternative of
wild wrath and ruin was the modest sum of 100,000 ducats in hard cash.
Mutual convivialities and flowing courtesies were at an end; these
were one thing and reparation for the incarceration and burning of
unoffending British sailors as heretics was another.

"Deeds of blood and torture can never be atoned for in money or
destruction of property. I am Drake, 'El Draque' if you like, and if
you don't comply with my terms, you shall be destroyed."

It was his habit openly to express himself in this way to Philip's
subjects, whether hostile or not, and we can imagine that similar
views were uttered in the Carthagena negotiations. The Spaniards
regarded his terms as monstrous impiety; they were aghast, pleaded
poverty, and protested and swore by the Holy Office that the total
amount they could find in the whole city was only 30,000 ducats.
Drake, with commendable prudence, seeing that he wished to get away
from the fever zone without delay, appears to have accepted this
amount, though authorities are at variance on this point. Some say
that he held out for his first claim and got it. I have not been able
to verify which is the correct amount, but in all probability he got
the 100,000 ducats. In any case, he piously charged them with
deception in their plea of poverty, but came to terms, declaring, no
doubt, that his own magnanimity astonished him.

But for the sudden outbreak of sickness amongst his crew, the
Carthagenians would not have fared nearly so well. The city might have
been, not only pillaged, but laid in ruins. As it was, he had emptied
a monastery and blown the harbour forts to pieces.

Drake's intention was to visit Panama, but the fever had laid heavy
hands on his men. Only a third of those who commenced the voyage with
him were well enough to do work at all, notwithstanding the
replenishment by released prisoners, so he was forced to abandon
further enterprises and shape his course homewards as quickly as
skilful navigation and the vagaries of wind and weather would allow.
Great deeds, even on this trip, stood to the credit of himself and
crew. The accomplishments were far below what was expected at the
outset in point of money value, but the priceless feature of the
voyage was the enhanced respect for Drake's name which had taken
possession of the Spanish race in every part of the world and
subsequently made the defeat of the Armada an easier task.

This eager soul, who was really the pioneer of a new civilization, had
still to face hard fate after the reluctant abandonment of his
intention to visit Panama. The sufferings of the adventurers from bad
weather and shortness of water was severely felt on the passage to
Florida. But the rough leader never lost heart or spared himself in
any way. He was obliged to heave-to at Cape Antonio (Cuba), and here
with indomitable courage went to work, putting heart into his men by
digging with pick and shovel in a way that would have put a navvy to
the blush, and when their efforts were rewarded he took his ships
through the Bahama Channel, and as he passed a fort which the
Spaniards had constructed and used as a base for a force which had
murdered many French Protestant colonists in the vicinity, Drake
landed, found out the murderous purpose of the fort, and blew it to
pieces. But that was not all. He also had the satisfaction of saving
the remainder of an unsuccessful English settlement founded by Sir
Walter Raleigh, and of taking possession of everything that he could
lay hands on from the Spanish settlement of St. Augustine. This was
the last episode of plunder connected with an expedition that was ripe
with thrilling incidents, and added to the fame of the most
enterprising figure of the Elizabethan reign.

In point of profit to those who had financed the voyage it was not a
success; but its political and ultimate commercial advantages were
enormous. These early seamen of the seventeenth century, many of them
amateurs, laid the foundation of the greatest navy and mercantile
marine of the world. It is to these fascinating adventurers, too, that
the generations which followed are indebted for the initiative in
human comforts and progress. The superficial self-righteous critic may
find it an agreeable pursuit to search out their blemishes; but these
men cannot be airily dismissed in that manner. They towered above
their fellows, the supreme product of the spirit of their day in
adventure and daring; they fulfilled their great destiny, and left
their indelible mark upon the life of their nation and of the world.
Their great emancipating heroism and reckless self-abnegation more
than counterbalanced the faults with which the modern mind, judging
their day by ours, is too prone to credit them, and whatever their
deeds of perfidy may have been, they were imbued more with the idea of
patriotism than with that of avarice. They were remarkable men, nor
did they come into the life of the nation by chance, but for a
purpose, and their memories are enshrined in human history.

Drake sailed for home as soon as he had embarked what was left of
Raleigh's colonists at Roanoke River, Virginia, and after a protracted
and monotonous passage, arrived at Plymouth on the 28th July, 1586.
The population received the news with acclamation. Drake wrote to Lord
Burleigh, bemoaning his fate in having missed the gold fleet by a few
hours, and again placing his services at the disposal of his Queen and
country.

The most momentous of all his commissions, especially to his own
country, was in 1587, when he destroyed a hundred ships in Cadiz
Harbour. It was a fine piece of work, this "singeing of the King of
Spain's beard" as he called it, and by far excelled anything he had
previously done. He captured the _San Philip_, the King of Spain's
ship, which was the largest afloat. Her cargo was valued at over one
million sterling, in addition to which papers were found on board
revealing the wealth of the East India trade. The knowledge of this
soon found a company of capitalists, who formed the East India
Company, out of which our great Indian Empire was established. When
the _San Philip_ was towed into Dartmouth Harbour, and when it became
known generally, the whole country was ablaze with excitement, and
people travelled from far and near to see the leviathan.

Drake bore himself on this occasion with that sober modesty that
characterized him always under any circumstances. His reputation stood
higher now than ever, and it was no detriment to him that Philip
should shudder, and when he became virtuously agitated speak of him as
"that fearful man Drake." Everywhere he was a formidable reality,
strong, forbidding and terrible; his penetrating spirit saw through
the plans of the enemies of his country and his vigorous
counter-measures were invariably successful. The exalted part he took
in the defeat of the Armada has been briefly referred to in another
part of this book. He was then at the height of his imposing
magnificence and fame, but owing to the caprice of his royal mistress,
who had an insatiable habit of venting her Tudor temper
indiscriminately, he fell under her displeasure, and for a time was in
disgrace; but she soon discovered that his services, whatever his lack
of success on apparently rash enterprises may have been, were
indispensable at so critical a moment. He was recalled, and soon after
sent on his melancholy last voyage. He had worn himself out in the
service of his country. Born at Tavistock in 1539, his eager spirit
passed into the shadows off Puerto Bello on the 28th January, 1596,
and, as previously stated, he was buried three miles out at sea, and
two of his prizes were sunk and laid beside him.

The following beautiful lines of Sir Henry Newbolt not only describe
his patriotic and heroic end, but breathe the very spirit of the man
who was one of the most striking figures of the Elizabethan age:--

DRAKE'S DRUM.

_3rd Verse_:

    Drake, he's in his hammock till the great Armadas come,
    (Capten, art tha sleepin' there below?)
    Slung atween the round shot, listenin' for the drum,
    An' dreamin' arl the time o' Plymouth Hoe.
    Call him on the deep sea, call him up the Sound,
    Call him when ye sail to meet the foe;
    Where the old trade's plyin', and the old flag flyin',
    They shall find him ware an' wakin',
    As they found him long ago!



NELSON AND HIS CIRCLE


I

The tradition created by Drake and Hawkins was carried on by Nelson
and Collingwood in a different age and under different conditions, and
the same heroic spirit animated them all. Nelson must certainly have
been familiar with the enthralling tales of these men and of their
gallant colleagues, but without all the essential qualities born in
him he could not have been the victor of Trafalgar. Men have to do
something distinctive, that sets the human brain on fire, before they
are really recognized as being great; then all others are put in the
shade, no matter how necessary their great gifts may be to fill up the
gaps in the man of initiative and of action. Drake could not have done
what he did had he not had the aid of Frobisher, and Jervis would not
have become Earl St. Vincent had he not been supported by Nelson at
the battle of that name; and we should never have seen the imposing
monument erected in Trafalgar Square had Nelson been without his
Collingwood. Victorious and valiant performances do not come by
chance, and so it comes to pass in the natural course of human law
that if our Jervises, Nelsons, and Collingwoods, who are the
prototypes of our present-day heroes, had not lived, we should not
have had our Fishers, Jellicoes, and Beattys.

Nelson was always an attractive personality and by no means the type
of man to allow himself to be forgotten. He believed he was a
personage with a mission on earth, and never an opportunity was given
him that did not confirm this belief in himself.

Horatio Nelson was the son of the Rev. Edmund Nelson, and was born at
Burnham Thorpe on the 29th September, 1758. His mother died in 1767,
and left eight children. Her brother, Captain Maurice Suckling, was
appointed to the _Raisonable_ three years after her death, and agreed,
at the request of Horatio himself and the instigation of his father,
after some doubtful comments as to the boy's physical suitableness for
the rough life of a sailor, to take him; so on the 1st January, 1771,
he became a midshipman on the _Raisonable._ On the 22nd May he either
shipped of his own accord or was put as cabin-boy on a merchant vessel
which went to the West Indies, and ended his career in the merchant
service at the end of an eventful voyage. In July 1772 he became
midshipman on board the _Triumph_. This was the real starting-point of
his naval career and of the development of those great gifts that made
him the renowned Admiral of the world. Twenty-two years after joining
his uncle's ship he was made captain of the _Agamemnon_. At the siege
of Calvi in 1794 he was wounded in the right eye and lost the sight
of it. Three years afterwards he lost his right arm while commanding
an attack on Santa Cruz, and although he had put so many sensational
events into his life up to that time, it was not until the battle of
St. Vincent that he began to attract attention. He had been promoted
Rear-Admiral before the news of the battle was known, and when the
news reached England the public enthusiasm was irrepressible. Jervis
was made an Earl, with £3,000 a year pension, and the King requested
that he should take his title from the name of the battle. Nelson
refused a baronetcy, and was made, at his own request, a Knight of the
Bath, receiving the thanks of the City of London and a sword. All
those who were in prominent positions or came to the front in this
conflict received something. It was not by a freak of chance that the
authorities began to see in Nelson the elements of an extraordinary
man. Nor was it mere chance that they so far neglected him that he was
obliged to force himself upon the Admiralty in order to get them to
employ him. The nation was in need of a great spirit, and Providence
had been preparing one for many years before the ruling authorities
discovered that Nelson was their man of the future.

For several months he was tearing about the seas in search of the
French fleet. He popped into Naples on the 17th June, 1798, ostensibly
to know if anything had been heard of it, and no doubt he took the
opportunity of having a word with Sir William and Lady Hamilton, who
were to come so romantically into his life. He found the French fleet
at anchor in Aboukir Bay and sailed upon it with such amazing audacity
that the heart was knocked out of them at the very outset. Neither the
French Admiral nor anybody else would have expected the British fleet
to run their ships between them and the shore at the risk of
grounding. The _Culloden_ _did_ ground. The French had 11 out of 13
ships put out of action, but the British fleet suffered severely also,
and the loss of men was serious.[1] Out of a total of 7,401 men, 218
were killed and 678 wounded. Nelson himself was badly wounded on the
forehead, and as the skin fell down on his good eye and the blood
streamed into it, he was both dazed and blinded. He shouted to Captain
Berry as he was staggering to a fall, "I am killed; remember me to my
wife." But there was a lot more work for him to do before the fatal
day. He was carried below, believing the injury would prove fatal, in
spite of the assurances to the contrary of the surgeon who was in
attendance.

Although Nelson's courage can never be doubted, there is something
very curious in his constant, eccentric foreboding of death and the
way in which he scattered his messages about to one and another. This
habit increased amazingly after his conflict with the French at the
Nile. He seems to have had intermittent attacks of hypochondria. The
wound incident at Aboukir must have given great amusement as well as
anxiety to those about him. Unquestionably the wound had the
appearance at first of being mortal, but the surgeon soon gave a
reassuring opinion, and after binding up the ugly cut he requested his
patient to remain below. But Nelson, as soon as he knew he was not
going to die, became bored with the inactivity and insisted on writing
a dispatch to the Admiralty. His secretary was too excited to carry
out his wishes, so he tackled it himself. But his suffering being
great and his mind in a condition of whirling confusion, he did not
get far beyond the beginning, which intimated that "Almighty God had
blessed His Majesty's arms." The battle raged on. The _Orient_ was set
on fire and her destruction assured. When Nelson was informed of the
terrible catastrophe to the great French line-of-battle ship, he
demanded to be assisted to the deck, whereupon he gave instructions
that his only boat not destroyed was to be sent with the _Vanguard's_
first lieutenant to render assistance to the crew. He remained on deck
until the _Orient_ blew up, and was then urged to go to bed.

But sleep under the circumstances and in view of his own condition
would not come. All night long he was sending messages directing the
plan of battle the news of which was to enthral the civilized world.
Nelson himself was not satisfied. "Not one of the French vessels would
have escaped," he said, "if it had pleased God that he had not been
wounded." This was rather a slur on those who had given their best
blood and really won the battle. Notwithstanding the apparent egotism
of this outburst, there are sound reasons for believing that the
Admiral's inspiring influence was much discounted by his not being
able to remain on deck. The sight of his guiding, magnetic figure had
an amazing effect on his men, but I think it must be admitted that
Nelson's head was not in a condition at that time to be entirely
relied upon, and those in charge of the different ships put the
finishing touches to the victory that was won by the force of his
courage and commanding genius in the initial stages of the struggle.


II

Nelson was a true descendant of a race of men who had never faltered
in the traditional belief that the world should be governed and
dominated by the British. His King, his country, and particularly the
profession to which he belonged, were to him the supreme authorities
whose destiny it was to direct the affairs of the universe. With
unfailing comic seriousness, intermixed with occasional explosions of
bitter violence, he placed the French low down in the scale of the
human family. There was scarcely a sailor adjective that was not
applied to them. Carlyle, in later years, designated the voice of
France as "a confused babblement from the gutters" and "scarcely
human"; "A country indeed with its head cut off"; but this quotation
does not reach some of the picturesque heights of nautical language
that was invented by Nelson to describe his view of them. Both he and
many of his fellow-countrymen regarded the chosen chief on whom the
French nation had democratically placed an imperial crown as the
embodiment of a wild beast.

The great Admiral was always wholehearted in his declamation against
the French people and their leaders who are our present allies
fighting against that country which now is, and which Napoleon
predicted to his dying day would become, one of the most imperious,
inhuman foes to civilization. Nelson and his government at that time
thought it a merciful high policy of brotherhood to protect and
re-create Prussia out of the wreck to which Napoleon had reduced it;
the result being that the military spirit of Prussia has been a
growing, determined menace to the peace of the world and to the cause
of human liberty in every form since the downfall of the man who
warned us at the time from his exiled home on the rock of St. Helena
that our policy would ultimately reflect with a vengeance upon
ourselves, and involve the whole world in a great effort to save
itself from destruction. He foresaw that Prussia would inveigle and
bully the smaller German states into unification with herself, and,
having cunningly accomplished this, that her perfidy would proceed to
consolidate the united fabric into a formidable power which would
crush all others by its military superiority; this dream of universal
control of human life and affairs was at one time nearly realized.

The German Empire has bankrupted herself in men, necessaries of life,
and money. But that in no degree minimizes the disaster she has
wrought on those who have had to bleed at every pore to avoid
annihilation. The Allies, as well as the Central Powers, are no longer
going concerns. It will take generations to get back to the point at
which we started in 1914. But the tragic thought of all is the
enormous sacrifice of life, and the mental and physical wrecks that
have survived the savage, brutal struggle brought on a world that was,
and wished to remain, at peace, when in 1914 the Central Powers
arrogantly forced the pace which caused an alliance to be formed
quickly by their enemies to save them from the doom which Napoleon,
with his clear vision, had predicted would come.

It was fitting that Nelson should by every conceivable means adopt
methods of declamation against the French, if by doing so he thought
it would inspire the men whom he commanded with the same conquering
spirit he himself possessed. His country was at war with the French,
and he was merely one of the instruments appointed to defeat them, and
this may account for his ebullitions of hatred from time to time. I
have found, however, no record that would in any way show that it was
intended as surface policy, so it may be concluded that his dislike
was as deep-seated as it appeared. Nelson never seems to have shown
evidences of being a humbug by saying things which he did not believe.
He had a wholesome dislike of the French people and of Bonaparte, who
was their idol at that time. But neither he nor his government can be
credited with the faculty of being students of human life. He and they
believed that Paris was the centre of all that was corrupt and brutal.
Napoleon, on the other hand, had no real hatred of the British people,
but during his wars with their government his avowed opinion was that
"all the ills, and all the scourges that afflict mankind, came from
London." Both were wrong in their conclusions. They simply did not
understand each other's point of view in the great upheaval that was
disturbing the world. The British were not only jealous and afraid of
Napoleon's genius and amazing rise to eminence--which they attributed
to his inordinate ambition to establish himself as the dominating
factor in the affairs of the universe--but they determined that his
power should not only not be acknowledged, but destroyed, and their
policy after twenty years of bitter war was completely accomplished.

The merits or demerits of British policy must always remain a matter
of controversy. It is too big a question to deal with here. Napoleon
said himself that "Everything in the life of man is subject to
calculation; the good and evil must be equally balanced." Other true
sayings of his indicate that he, at any rate, _was_ a student of human
life, and knew how fickle fortune is under certain conditions.
"Reprisals," he declared, "are but a sad resource"; and again, no
doubt dwelling on his own misfortunes, but with vivid truth all the
same, he declares that "The allies gained by victory will turn against
you upon the bare whisper of our defeat."


III

After his victory on the Nile, Nelson fully expected to be created a
Viscount, and his claim was well supported by Hood, his old Admiral.
He was made Baron Nelson of the Nile, and given a pension of £2,000
per annum--a poor recompense for the great service he had rendered to
his country. But that was by no means the measure of the public
gratitude. He was acclaimed from every corner of Great Britain as the
national hero. The City of London presented him with a two hundred
guinea sword, and a vote of thanks to himself, officers and men. There
was much prayer and thanksgiving, and several women went as daft as
brushes over him. One said her heart was absolutely bursting with all
sorts of sensations. "I am half mad," says she, and any one who reads
the letter will conclude that she understated her mental condition.
But of all the many letters received by Nelson none surpasses in
extravagance of adulation that written by Amy Lyon, the daughter of a
village blacksmith, born at Great Neston in Cheshire, in 1761, who had
come to London in the early part of 1780, fallen into evil ways and
given birth to a little girl. She was then left destitute and sank as
low as it is possible for a woman to do. She rose out of the depths
into which she had fallen by appearing as the Goddess of Health in the
exhibition of a James Graham. Sir Henry Featherstonehaugh took her
under his protection for close on twelve months, but owing to her
extravagance and faithlessness he turned her out when within a few
months of a second child, which was stillborn. The first was handed
over to her grandmother to take care of. Charles Greville, the second
son of the Earl of Warwick, then took her to live with him. She had
intimate relations with him while she was still Featherstonehaugh's
mistress, and he believed the child about to be born was his. At this
time Amy Lyon changed her name to Emily Hart. Greville went to work on
business lines. He struck a bargain that all her previous lovers were
to be dropped, and under this compact she lived with him in a
respectable manner for nearly four years. He gave her some education,
but she seems to have had natural genius, and her beauty was
undisputed.

Emily Hart sat to Romney,[2] the artist, and it is said that
twenty-three portraits were painted, though some writers have placed
the number at over forty. "Marinda," "Sibyl," and the "Spinstress"
were amongst them. The pictures bring high prices; one, I think called
"Sensibility," brought, in 1890, over £3,000. Notwithstanding her
lowly birth (which has no right to stop any one's path to greatness)
and lack of chastity, she had something uncommon about her that was
irresistibly attractive. Sir William Hamilton, Greville's uncle,
returned to England some time in 1784 from Naples, where he was the
British Minister. It was said that he was in quest of a second wife,
the first having died some two years before. Greville did not take
kindly to the idea of Sir William marrying again, because he was his
heir. He thought instead that, being in financial trouble himself, he
would try to plant Emma on his uncle, not with the object of marriage,
but of her becoming his mistress. Sir William was captivated with the
girl, which made it easy for the shameless nephew to persuade his
uncle to take her off his hands. Emma, however, was in love with
Greville, and there were indications of revolt when the astute lady
discovered that serious negotiations were proceeding for her
transference from nephew to uncle. It took twelve months to arrive at
a settlement.

There does not appear to have been a signed agreement, but there
certainly was a tacit understanding that Sir William was to assist
Greville out of his difficulties, in return for which Emma was to join
him at Naples, ostensibly as a visitor. She writes imploringly to
Greville to answer her letters, but never an answer came, and in utter
despair she tells him at last that she will not become his uncle's
concubine, and threatens to make Hamilton marry her. This poor
wretched woman was human, after all, and indeed she gave convincing
proofs of many high qualities in after-years, but in the passion of
her love for the dissolute scamp who bartered her away she pleaded for
that touch of human compassion that never came. She knew that her
reprobate lover was fearful lest she should induce his uncle to marry
her, and she may have had an instinctive feeling that it was part of
the contract that she was to be warded off if any attempt of the kind
were made likely to endanger his prospects of becoming Hamilton's
heir. His indifference made her venomously malignant, and she sent him
a last stab that would at least give him a troubled mind, even though
it should not cause him to recall her; she would then pursue her
revenge by ignoring him.

It is a sordid story which smears the pages of British History.

Emma lived with the British Ambassador at Naples as his mistress. He
was popular in this city of questionable morals at that time. She was
beautiful and developed remarkable talents as a singer, and was a
bright, witty, fascinating conversationalist. She worked hard at her
studies, and became a fluent speaker of the Italian language. Hamilton
had great consideration for her, and never risked having her affronted
because of the liaison. Her singing was a triumph. It is said she was
offered £6,000 to go to Madrid for three years and £2,000 for a season
in London. She invented classic attitudes. Goethe said that "Sir
William Hamilton, after long love and study of art, has at last
discovered the most perfect of the wonders of nature and art in a
beautiful young woman. She lives with him, and is about twenty years
old. She is very handsome, and of a beautiful figure. What the
greatest artists have aimed at is shown in perfection, in movement, in
ravishing variety. Standing, kneeling, sitting, lying down, grave or
sad, playful, exulting, repentant, wanton, menacing, anxious, all
mental states follow rapidly one after another. With wonderful taste
she suits the folding of her veil to each expression, and with the
same handkerchief makes every kind of head-dress. The Old Knight holds
the Light for her, and enters into the exhibition with his whole
soul." Sir William had twelve of the "Representations" done by a
German artist named Frederick Rehberg, entitled "Drawings faithfully
copied from Nature at Naples."

Hamilton married Emma in 1791 in England, and when they returned to
Naples she was presented to the Queen, and ultimately became on
intimate terms with Her Majesty of Naples, whose questionable morals
were freely spoken of. Emma quickly attained a high social standing,
but it is doubtful whether she exercised that influence over the Queen
of which she liked to boast.

In September, 1793, Nelson was at Naples by orders, and was the guest
of the Hamiltons for a few days. He had not been there for five
years, yet the precious Emma, without decorum or ceremony, sent him a
written whirlwind of congratulations on the occasion of his victory at
the Nile. Every line of the letter sends forth crackling sparks of
fiery passion. She begins, "My dear, dear Sir," tells him she is
delirious, that she fainted and fell on her side, "and am hurt," when
she heard the joyful news. She "would feel it a glory to die in such a
cause," but she cannot die until she has embraced "the Victor of the
Nile." Then she proceeds to describe the transports of Maria Carolina.
"She fainted too, cried, kissed her husband, her children, walked,
frantic with pleasure, about the room, cried, kissed and embraced
everybody near her." Then she continues, "Oh! brave Nelson! Oh! God
bless and protect our brave deliverer! Oh! Nelson, Nelson! Oh! Victor!
Oh! that my swollen heart could now tell him personally what we owe to
him. My dress from head to foot is Allah Nelson. My earrings are
Nelson's anchors." She sends him some sonnets, and avers that she must
have taken a ship to "send all what is written on you." And so she
goes on, throwing herself into his arms, metaphorically speaking, at
every sentence.

When the _Vanguard_ arrived at Naples, Nelson invited Lady Hamilton on
board and she was no sooner on the deck than she made one dramatic
plunge at him, and proceeded to faint on the poor shattered man's
breast. Nelson, whose besetting weakness was love of approbation,
became intoxicated with the lady's method of making love. Poor
gallant fellow! He was, like many another, the victim of human
weakness. He immediately believed that he and Emma had "found each
other," and allowed himself to be flattered with refined delicacy into
a liaison which became a fierce passion, and tested the loyalty of his
closest friends to breaking-point. How infinitely pathetic is this
piteous story from beginning to end!

Like most sailors, Nelson had a fervent, religious belief in the
Eternal, and never went to battle without casting himself on the mercy
of the Infinite Pity which alone can give solace. He was fearless and
strong in the affairs of his profession, and it may be safely assumed
that, even if it went no deeper, he had a mystic fear of God, and was
lost to all other fear.

I think it was Carlyle who said, "God save us from the madness of
popularity. It invariably injures those who get it." There never was a
truer thing said, and it is sadly true of our great national hero. Not
many months had passed before the dispenser of his praises had become
his proprietor. It is doubtful whether Emma ever loved him, but that
does not concern any one. What does concern us is the imperious
domination she exercised over him. No flighty absurdities of fiction
can equal the extravagance of his devotion to her, and his unchecked
desire to let every one know it. He even informs Lady Nelson that Lady
Hamilton is the very best woman in the world and an honour to her
sex, and that he had a pride in having her as a friend. He writes to
Lord St. Vincent that she is "an angel," and has honoured him in being
his Ambassadress to the Queen and is worthy of his confidence. Again
he writes, "Our dear Lady Hamilton, whom to see is to admire, but to
know are to be added honour and respect; her head and heart surpass
her beauty, which cannot be equalled by anything I have seen."

It is impossible to suppose that a man could fall so violently in love
with this extraordinary creature and permit her to come so intimately
into his life without injury to his judgment and to those keen mental
qualities which were needed at that time in the service of his
country. Such loss of control must surely have been followed by mental
and intellectual deterioration. This lady of varied antecedents was
the intermediary between the Court of Naples and himself, and it is
now an authentic fact that it was on the advice of the Queen and Emma
that Naples entered into a war, the result of which was the complete
defeat of the Neapolitans; the Court and the Hamiltons had to fly to
Palermo and Nelson again lived with the Minister and his wife. He
again pours out the virtues and charms of Lady Hamilton, to whom he
gives the credit of engineering the embarkation of the Royal Family
and two and a half million sterling aboard the _Vanguard_. After
giving St. Vincent another dose of Emma, he goes on to say, "It is my
duty to tell your Lordship the obligations which the whole Royal
Family, as well as myself, are under on this trying occasion to her
Ladyship." Her Ladyship, still hankering after her old friend
Greville, writes him, "My dear adorable queen and I weep together, and
now that is our only comfort." It is no concern of ours, but it looks
uncommonly as though Greville still held the field, and the opinion of
many that Nelson would not have had much chance against her former
lover is borne out by many facts.

Amongst the saddest stories that raged about the Hamiltons, their
friends, and Nelson was the scandal of gambling for large stakes. Some
are persistent in the assertion that the report was well founded, and
others that it was not so bad as it was made out to be. Lady Hamilton
asserted that the stories were all falsehoods invented by the
Jacobinical party, but her Ladyship's veracity was never to be relied
upon. Perhaps a foundation of truth and a large amount of exaggeration
sums up the reports, so we must let it go at that. Troubridge seems to
have been convinced that his Admiral was in the midst of a fast set,
for he sends a most imploring remonstrance to him to get out of it and
have no more incense puffed in his face. This was fine advice, but the
victor of the Nile made no response.


IV

Nelson was little known to his countrymen before the St. Vincent
battle. But after the victory of the Nile his name became immortal,
and he could take any liberty he liked with our national
conventionalisms. Even his love affairs were regarded as heroics. He
refused occasionally to carry out instructions when he thought his own
plans were better, and it was winked at; but had any of them
miscarried, the memory of St. Vincent and the Nile would not have
lived long.

When he arrived with the Hamiltons in London after his long absence
and victorious record, the mob, as usual, took the horses from the
carriage and dragged him along Cheapside amid tumultuous cheers.
Whenever he appeared in public the same thing happened. At Court,
things were different. His reception was offensively cold, and George
III ran some risk when he affronted his most popular subject by
turning his back on him. Whatever private indiscretions Nelson may
have been guilty of, nothing could justify so ungrateful an act of
ill-mannered snobbery. The King should have known how to distinguish
between private weakness, however unconventional, and matchless public
service. But for the fine genius and patriotism of this noble fellow,
he might have lost his crown. The temper of a capricious public in an
era of revolution should not be tested by freaks of royal
self-righteousness, while its imagination is being stirred by the
deeds of a national hero. His action might have brought the dignity of
George's kingliness into the gutter of ridicule, which would have been
a public misfortune.

The King's treatment of Nelson was worse than tactless; it was an
impertinence. King Edward VII, whose wisdom and tact could always be
trusted, might have disapproved, as strongly as did George III,
Nelson's disregard of social conventions, but he would have received
him on grounds of high public service, and have let his private
faults, if he knew of them, pass unnoticed, instead of giving him an
inarticulate snub. Still, a genius of naval distinction, or any other,
has no right to claim exemption from a law that governs a large
section of society, or to suppose that he may not be criticized or
even ostracized if he defiantly offends the susceptibilities of our
moral national life. And it is rather a big tax on one's patience for
a man, because of his exalted position and distinguished deeds of
valour and high services rendered to the State, to expect that he may
be granted licence to parade his gallantries with women in boastful
indifference to the moral law that governs the lives of a large
section of the community. There are undoubtedly cases of ill-assorted
unions, but it does not lie within our province to judge such cases.
They may be victims of a hard fate far beyond the knowledge of the
serene critics, whose habit of life is to sneak into the sacred
affairs of others, while their own may be in need of vigilant enquiry
and adjustment.

It would hardly be possible, with the facts before us, to say a word
in mitigation of Nelson's ostentatious infatuation for Lady Hamilton,
were it not that he can never be judged from the same standpoint as
ordinary mortals. That is not to say that a man, mentally constituted
as he was, should not be amenable to established social laws.

Nelson was a compound of peculiarities, like most men who are put into
the world to do something great. He was amusingly vain, while his
dainty vanity so obscured his judgment that he could not see through
the most fulsome flattery, especially that of women. At the same time
he was professionally keen, with a clear-seeing intellect, dashing,
flawless courage, and a mind that quickly grasped the weak points of
the enemy's position or formation. He fought the old form of sea
warfare by methods that were exclusively his, and sent his opponents
staggering into confusion. Once a plan of battle had been arranged, he
never faltered in his judgment, and only manoeuvred as circumstances
arose, but always with that unexpected rush and resource which carried
with it certain victory.

Nelson's great talents and his victories caused society outwardly to
overlook his connection with the notorious Lady Hamilton. But the
gossips were always at work. On this point he does not seem to have
realized that he was playing pranks with society, though there were
abundant evidences of it. He was offended because at Dresden, on their
way to England, the Electress refused to receive his mistress on
account of her antecedents, and no Court was held during their stay.
Of course Emma was given the cold shoulder in England by the Court and
by society. Nelson told his friend Collingwood of his own treatment,
and added that, either as a public or private man, he wished nothing
undone which he had done. He told Collingwood of his cold reception by
the King, but it seems quite obvious that he maintained his belief
that his connection with Emma had no right to be questioned by His
Majesty or any of his subjects, and he held this view to the last. He
would have none of the moralists' cant lavished on him, and by his
consistent attitude seemed to say, "Hands off my private life! If I
_did_ introduce Lady Hamilton to my wife at her apartments on my
arrival in England after two and a half years' absence, when she was
on the point of becoming the mother of Horatia, what business is that
of yours? I will have none of your abstract morality. Get away, and
clean up your own morals before you talk to me of mine." The above is
what I think a man of Nelson's temperament might say to the people who
wished to warn him against the dangerous course he was pursuing. Lady
Nelson does not seem to have been a woman who could appeal to a man
like Nelson. The fact is she may have been one of those unamiable,
sexless females who was either coldly ignoring her husband or storing
up in her heart any excuse for hurling at him the most bitter
invective with which she might humiliate him. She does not appear to
have been a vulgar shrieker, but she may have been a silent stabber,
which is worse. In any case, Nelson seems to have made a bad choice,
as by his actions he openly avowed that he preferred to live with the
former mistress of Featherstonehaugh, Greville, and Hamilton, rather
than with his lawful wife; and he, without a doubt, was the best judge
as to which of them suited him best. The truth remains that Emma was
attractive and talented, and although lowly born, she became the bosom
companion of kings, queens, princesses, princes, and of many men and
women of distinction.

Nelson must have been extraordinarily simple to imagine that his wife,
knowing, as all the world knew, that Lady Hamilton was his mistress
and a bold, unscrupulous rival, would receive her with rapturous
friendliness. The amazing puzzle to most people, then and now, is why
she received her at all, unless she wished to worm out of her the
precise nature of the intimacy. That may have been her definite
purpose in allowing the visits for two or three months; then one day
she flew into a rage, which conjures up a vision of hooks and eyes
bursting like crackers from her person, and after a theatrical display
of temper she disappears like a whirling tempest from the presence of
her faithless husband, never again to meet him. This manner of showing
resentment to the gallant sailor's fondness for the wife of Sir
William Hamilton was the last straw. There was nothing dignified in
Lady Nelson's tornado farewell to her husband; rather, if the records
may be relied on, it was accompanied by a flow of abuse which could
only emanate from an enraged termagant.

Nelson now had a free hand. His wife was to have a generous allowance
on condition that she left him alone freely to bestow his affections
on the seductive Emma, whose story, retold by Mr. Harrison, shows
Lady Nelson to have been an impossible woman to live with. She made
home hell to him, so he said. And making liberal allowance for Emma's
fibbing propensities, there are positive evidences that her story of
Nelson's home life was crammed with pathetic truths of domestic
misery. Nelson corroborates this by a letter to Emma almost
immediately after his wife's ludicrous exit. The letter is the
outpouring of an embittered soul that had been freed from purgatory
and was entering into a new joy. It is a sickening effusion of
unrestrained love-making that would put any personage of penny-novel
fame to the blush. I may as well give the full dose. Here it is:--

    Now, my own dear wife: for such you are in the sight of Heaven,
    I can give full scope to my feelings, for I dare say Oliver will
    faithfully deliver this letter. You know, my dearest Emma, that
    there is nothing in this world that I would not do for us to
    live together, and to have our dear little child with us. I
    firmly believe that this campaign will give us peace, and then
    we will set off for Bronte. In twelve hours we shall be across
    the water, and freed from all the nonsense of his friends, or
    rather pretended ones. Nothing but an event happening to him
    could prevent my going; and I am sure you will think so, for,
    unless all matters accord, it would bring a hundred of tongues
    and slanderous reports if I separated from her, which I would do
    with pleasure the moment we can be united. I want to see her no
    more; therefore we must manage till we can quit this country, or
    your uncle dies. I love you: I never did love any one else. I
    never had a dear pledge of love till you gave me one; and you,
    thank my God, never gave one to anybody else. I think before
    March is out, you will either see us back, or so victorious that
    we shall ensure a glorious issue to our toils. Think what my
    Emma will feel at seeing return safe, perhaps with a little
    more fame, her own dear Nelson. Never, if I can help it, will I
    dine out of my ship or go on shore, except duty calls me. Let
    Sir Hyde have any glory he can catch, I envy him not. You, my
    beloved Emma, and my country, are the two dearest objects of my
    fond heart. _A heart susceptible and true._ Only place
    confidence in me, and you shall never be disappointed. I burn
    all your dear letters, because it is right for your sake; and I
    wish you would burn all mine--they can do no good, and will do
    us both harm if any seizure of them; or the dropping even one of
    them would fill the mouths of the world sooner than we intend.
    My longing for you, both person and conversation, you may
    readily imagine (especially the person). No, my heart, person,
    and mind are in perfect union of love towards my own dear,
    beloved Emma, the real bosom friend of her, all hers, all
    Emma's.

    NELSON AND BRONTE.

The Prince of Wales had dined with and paid suspicious attentions to
Emma, and her fond lover, knowing this, advised her to warn him off.
He probably had an instinct that his "beloved Emma," who is "the
dearest object of his fond heart," was not quite strong enough to
resist temptation. Especially would she be likely to fall under the
fascinating influence of this little princely scamp. Nelson's mind
turned to his wife, and he emphasized the desire that he might never
see his aversion again. Nor did he.

Some of his contemporaries doubted the paternity of Horatia; Nelson
never did, and it would be hard to find a more beautiful outpouring of
love than that which he unfailingly gave to his little daughter. Every
thought of his soul was divided between her and the audacious flirt of
a mother whom Nelson, always lavish, calls "his love"; "his darling
angel"; "his heaven-given wife"; "the dearest, only true wife of his
own till death." The "till death" finish is quite sailorly!

No one will doubt his amazing faculty for love-making and
love-writing, and it must always be a puzzle how he managed to mix it
so successfully with war. His guilty love-making was an occasional
embarrassment to him, and though he was the greatest naval tactician
of his time, his domestic methods were hopelessly clumsy and
transparent. For instance, in pouring out his grievances to his
mistress he refers to himself by the name of Thompson, and to Lady
Nelson as Aunt. Here are a few examples:--"Thompson desires me to say
he has never wrote his Aunt since he sailed." "In twelve hours we
shall be across the water, and freed from all the nonsense of his
friends, or rather, pretended ones." "His" means Hamilton, and
"friends" means the Prince of Wales, whom he looked upon as a rival
for Emma's accommodating affections. Again, he says, "If I separated
from her, which I would do with pleasure the moment we can be united."
"Her" is Lady Nelson, but in discussing delicate matters of domestic
policy he thinks it desirable to conceal that he would not weep were
he to hear of Sir William's death, or be broken with grief to separate
entirely from Lady Nelson, so that he might become "united to his
heaven-given wife," "our darling angel, Emma."


V

The Admiralty did a great injustice to the victor of the Nile by
appointing Sir Hyde Parker commander-in-chief, instead of one who was
known to be the most brilliant officer in the Navy. It must have cut
deeply into Nelson's proud soul to have to serve under a man who had
not a particle of initiative; and, but for the splendid bravery and
matchless talents of his second, the wooden walls of old England would
have been sent to Davy Jones by the forts of Copenhagen and the Danish
fleet. Sir Hyde did not relish having Nelson with him at all. He
sulked, and treated him in a way that was observed and resented by
those who served under him. The commander-in-chief acted like a
jealous maiden, his intention being to freeze and humiliate the man
who was destined to win the victory and save the British fleet from
entire destruction. There always has been tremendous jealousy in the
Navy. But Sir Hyde Parker should have known that he was dealing with
an officer (who was the genius of the Navy) who would stand no
nonsense from any Lord High Admiral or other fussy dignitary whom he
could put in his pocket whenever he liked to exercise his personality.
Nelson never shirked responsibility when his country's interests were
being endangered by a dignified snob. Discipline, so far as he was
concerned until his object was gained, was pushed aside, and the great
spirit swept into the vortex of the danger and extinguished all
opposition. He said on one occasion, "I hate your pen-and-ink men. A
fleet of British warships are the best negotiators in Europe."

I have said that Parker was in the "sulks," so Nelson adopted a
humorous plan of thawing the ice by catching a turbot on the Dogger
Bank on the passage out to the Baltic. A sly seaman had told him that
this kind of fish was easily caught, so when they arrived on the Bank
the fishing commenced, and the turbot was caught. Nelson knew his
commander-in-chief was never averse to eating, so he gave orders to
have it sent to Sir Hyde, and although the sea was dangerous for a
small boat, the fish was in due course presented to Parker, who sent
back a cordial note of thanks. This ingenious stratagem eased the
strained relations between the two men, but there still remained a
feeling on the part of the commander-in-chief that the electric and
resourceful spirit of Nelson would, in any engagement, be the
dominating factor, with or without official sanction. He knew how
irresistibly Nelson's influence permeated the fleet, for no man knew
better than this much-envied Vice-Admiral how to enthuse his comrades
(high and low) in battle, and also what confidence the nation as a
whole had in what he called the "Nelson touch." Sir Hyde Parker,
knowing Nelson's superb qualities, should have paused and considered
the consequences before he slyly sought to put such a man in the
shade. There was not a man in the whole squadron who would not have
gone to his doom under Nelson's lead rather than live under any
other's. Nelson inspired men with the same love of glory which he
craved for himself. No real sailor ever did like to sail under a
hesitating, nervous commander. Parker, at the battle of Copenhagen,
gives one (from all accounts) the impression of unsureness, afraid to
take any risk lest it be the wrong one. Nelson was always sure, and
never hesitated to put into practice his considered views.

Parker, at a critical moment in the battle of Copenhagen, hoisted No.
39, which meant "Leave off action." Nelson shrugged his shoulders, and
Said, "No, I'm damned if I do," and kept his own "Engage the enemy
more closely" flying. He then added to Captain Foley, "I have only one
eye, and have a right to be blind sometimes." He then put the
telescope to his blind eye, and said, "I really do not see the
signal." Unfortunately, some of the ships retired, and one able
fellow, Captain Riou, who knew it was a wrong move, was so distressed
that he called out in despair to one of his officers beside him, "What
will Nelson think of us?" The poor captain was subsequently killed.
There can be no doubt now that the signal 39 was not permissive or
optional, nor that Nelson, having the enemy by the throat, refused to
let go until he had strangled him, nor that he did dramatically act
the blind-eye trick. He deliberately disobeyed orders, and saved
England's honour and fleet by doing so. It was one of his splendid
performances, and the story of it will live on into distant ages.

Who can calculate the loss of national prestige or the lives that
have been thrown away by putting severely decorous senior officers
over the heads of men who knew their business better and had the
courage and capacity to carry through big naval or military tasks? And
how tempting it must be to many a gallant fellow to take the business
into his own hands! Nelson knew well enough that he had laid himself
open to the full penalty of naval law, but he knew also that if any of
the moth-eaten crew at Whitehall even hinted it there would be "wigs
on the green." No man knew the pulse of the nation better, and no
commander played up to it less. One can imagine hearing him say to
some of his officers (perhaps Captain Hardy of Trafalgar fame), after
he had wrecked the Danish fleet and battered the forts into a
dilapidated condition, "Well, I have fought contrary to orders, and
they will perhaps hang me; never mind, let them." A significant "let
them" this, which means more than he cares to express. The Danes
frankly admitted that they had been beaten, and that even their
defence was destroyed, as the Crown batteries could not be held.
Instead of any talk of "hanging" him because of his "disobedience," he
was made a Viscount and his Rear-Admiral (Graves) a Knight of the
Bath. These were the only two significant honours conferred. When he
landed at Copenhagen, it is said that the people viewed him with a
mixture of admiration and hostility. He thought they were extremely
amiable. They cheered and shouted "God bless Lord Nelson!" There can
be no reason for their doing this, except gratitude to him for not
blowing the city down about their ears.

Whatever the cause, it is quite certain that the Crown Prince and some
of the Danish statesmen treated him with studied cordiality. Sir Hyde
Parker was a drag, and indeed, an intolerable nuisance to him. When
the armistice was sealed and settled for fourteen weeks, he wished to
get of to Reval and hammer the Russian squadron there, but the
commander-in-chief shirked all responsibility, and his victim was made
to say in a letter to Lord St. Vincent "that he would have been in
Reval fourteen days before, and that no one could tell what he had
suffered," and asks my dear Lord "if he has deserved well, to let him
retire, and if ill, for heaven's sake to supersede him, for he cannot
exist in this state." Lord Nelson conducted the British case with the
Danes with consummate statesmanship, but notwithstanding this, the
fine sensitive nature of the noble fellow could not fail to be hurt
when His Majesty (the same who lost us America) stated that, "under
_all_ the circumstances, he had thought well to approve." Nelson
replied that he was sorry the armistice was only approved under _all_
the circumstances, and then gives His Majesty a slap in the eye by
informing him that every part of the _all_ was to the advantage of the
King and Country. St. Vincent, the First Lord of the Admiralty,
subsequently made amends for His Majesty's error by writing to say
that his "whole conduct was approved and admired, and that he does
not care to draw comparisons, but that everybody agrees there is only
one Nelson." This strong and valiant sailor was never at any time
unconscious of his power. What troubled him was other people's lack of
appreciation of it, though he accepted with a whimsical humour the
grudging spirit in which credit was given to his unerring judgment and
unequalled bravery. Nor can we examine the great deeds of his career
without feeling a thrill of pride in the knowledge that he belonged to
us.

The spirit which animated Nelson was the same as that which lived in
those heroes of old who were used by Providence as instruments in
their country's destiny, and we may believe that this same spirit will
live in those God-sent men of the future who will be necessary for the
carrying out of some special task or for the destruction of evil.
Apparently, long intervals elapse between the appearance of men such
as Napoleon or Nelson. Napoleon's name still stirs the blood, and now,
more than a century after his death, any one of the Powers who had a
share in his tragic end would give worlds to get back some of his
force and genius. Nelson in a much less degree and in a different way
was another of those sent by Providence to take part in his country's
struggles and, like many another great man, was subjected to cruel
indignities at the hands of his inferiors. He often complained about
his treatment, but this never prevented him from doing his work. But
as his instructions were not always in accordance with his view of
success, he occasionally disobeyed them for the country's good. It
might be a gain to borrow _his_ spirit for a while at the present time
to electrify the British Admiralty. Nelson was more successful in his
conflicts with the enemy than with the chiefs of his calling afloat
and ashore. He was not really strong and audacious enough in his
dealings with them. "Jacky Fisher" (as he is fondly called) who lives
in our disturbed time, would have had similar sandbags jettisoned in
quick time. The modern Nelson has had his troubles with inferior
superiors too, but he flattened out some of them. The modern man is
all business, and does not show vanity if he has any. The "Only
Nelson" was strong, weak, and vain. If no one else gratuitously
sounded his praises, he would do so himself in the most comical way,
not altogether in public, but to "Santa Emma," whose function it was
to spread them abroad.

After the battle of Copenhagen, Sir Hyde Parker sailed for Carlscrona,
and left Nelson to hoist his flag as commander-in-chief on the _St.
George_, which was not ready, and was possibly being refitted after
rough handling. He tells Emma of Parker's departure, and adds, "if
there is any work to do," i.e. any fighting, "he is pretty certain
they will wait for him" before commencing it. And then he adds,
"_Nelson will be first_. Who can stop him?" On the eve of the battle
of Copenhagen he wrote to her, "Before you receive this, all will be
over with Denmark. Either your Nelson will be safe, and Sir Hyde
Parker victor, or your own Nelson will be laid low." What deep and
genuine love-lunacy to be found in a terrific warrior, whose very name
terrified those who had the honour to fight against him! The
incongruity of it baffles one's belief, and seems to reverse the very
order of human construction. In matters concerning his profession and
highly technical State affairs there was no more astute man, but as
soon as his thoughts centre on this female nightmare, he loses control
of his wonderful gifts, and his mind becomes deranged with the idea of
her being an object on which he should bestow reverence and infinite
adulation. If ever there was a creature of lamentable contradictions,
surely it was this genius, who immortalized our national glory at the
Nile, Copenhagen, and Trafalgar! That a man of his calibre, surrounded
with eternal fame, should be inflamed with a passion for a woman of
negative morals who was refused admittance to the same circle that,
but for this attachment would receive him as their triumphant hero, is
an example of human eccentricity that never has and never can be
accounted for. It may be taken for granted that at the very time he
was writing to her about "her own Nelson" she would be carrying on a
love intrigue with some old or new acquaintance, possibly the Prince
of Wales, whom as I have said, her gallant lover wished her to avoid.
He was known to be a cheat, a liar, and a faithless friend to men and
to women, while in accordance with the splendid ethic of this type of
person, he believed himself to be possessed of every saintly virtue.
But any one who is curious to have a fascinating description of the
"little dapper" should consult Thackeray.

Well, there was no fighting to be done when the fleet under Nelson
arrived at Reval, and the Emperor Paul's death and the dilatoriness of
Parker saved the Russian fleet from extermination. They had sailed
into safer anchorage and the British Admiral had to content himself by
paying an official visit to the authorities at Reval, and receiving
another ovation from the populace, which appealed to his whimsical
love of approbation. As is his custom, he sends Emma an account of his
Reval experiences. He says he would not mention so personal an
incident to any one else, as it would appear so uncommonly like
vanity, but between her and himself, hundreds had come to have a look
at Nelson, and he heard them say, "_That is him!_ That is _him_!" It
touches his vanity so keenly that he follows on by intimating that he
"feels a good name is better than riches, and that it has a fine
feeling to an honest heart." "All the Russians," says he, "are of
opinion that I am like Suwaroff, le Jeune Suwaroff." As may be
imagined, Nelson was bitterly disappointed at so sudden a collapse of
his hopes, but, always master of the situation, he wrote a most
courteous letter to Count Pahlen, the Russian Minister, who had
complained that his presence was calculated to make a breach of the
good feeling between the two countries. The Admiral's reply was
tactful and unconsciously humorous. The tone was that of a person who
had never been so unjustly hurt in his life. "He had come to pay his
respects to His Imperial Majesty, and as his motives had been so
entirely misunderstood, he would put to sea at once."


VI

His health was beginning to feel the enormous strain that had been
imposed upon him for many months. This, together with his longing to
be in the congenial society of Lady Hamilton, caused him to ask to be
relieved of his command, and he was delighted to receive a letter from
his old chief, Lord St. Vincent, stating that it was almost an
impossible task to find a suitable successor, as in all his experience
he never knew any one, except Troubridge, who had the art of enthusing
others with his own unequalled spirit as he had. The command was
handed over to Sir Charles Pole, and Nelson, almost wild with joy,
sailed from the Baltic in the brig _Kite_ on the 19th June, and
arrived at Yarmouth on the 1st July, 1801. Nelson always claimed that
if the command had been given to him in February many lives would have
been saved, and our prestige would not have suffered.

We cannot describe all the fascinating pleasure we get when we read
and think of the wonders this strange mortal performed in the ordinary
course of his profession; when, however, he departs from that and
begins to make stagey love to Lady Hamilton, it tries one's Christian
patience. What business had he, as the first sailor in the world, to
enter into such a compact with another man's wife? However, he must
not be judged by this liaison alone, but by the circumstances that led
to it.

We know that his domestic life had been made irritating and unbearable
to his sensitive and highly strung nature, but he found in Emma
Hamilton one who played upon his vanity, and made him feel that he was
regarded as an idol as well as an idolatrous lover. He thirsted for
reverence and the love of soul for soul, and she, in her own way, gave
both with lavish profusion, whereas his wife's austere indifference to
his amazing accomplishments fell upon his large heart like ice, and
who can estimate his sufferings before he decided to defy society? He
believed and hoped that he would be exonerated, and became in the
sight of Heaven (as he avowed) the husband of a woman who, there can
be little doubt, did not keep her honour unstained, but who, to him,
was the guiding spirit of his remaining days: and whatever impressions
we may have forced upon us of the liaisons of this noxious creature,
there is nothing on record that suggests that he was ever unfaithful
to her after the bond of union was made. Nor does he appear to have
been openly charged with illicit intimacy with other women after his
marriage to Mrs. Nisbet, other than with Lady Hamilton.

We may talk of his wonderful career being morally blunted, but his own
belief in the sanctity of the verbal arrangement was sound to the
core, and he hazarded the opprobrium of our stern conventional
system. To him, Lady Hamilton had an enduring charm which influenced
his wild, weak, generous soul, and was in fact an inspiration to him.
It is a truism that the life-story of all men has its tragedy and
romance, and in this, Nelson's was only similar to others; and who can
help loving his memory?

The Hamiltons lived with him at Merton when he was on leave. They
shared the cost of the home, which Lady Hamilton had, with elaborate,
artistic taste, prepared for him. A document written by Sir William
makes it clear that the relations of man and wife were strained at
times to breaking-point, for, as he states, "I am old and she in the
beauty and vigour of youth"; and then he proceeds: "I have no
complaint to make, but I feel that the whole attention of my wife is
given to Lord Nelson and his interest at Merton." Obviously, this is
the old gentleman's dull way of expressing his idea that there was a
gamble going on with the marriage vow, and then, with delightful
simplicity, he nullifies his suspicious thoughts by stating that he
well knows the purity of Lord Nelson's friendship for Emma and himself
and that he knows how uncomfortable it would make his Lordship, our
best friend, if a separation should take place; therefore he was
determined to do all in his power to prevent such an extremity, which
would be essentially detrimental to all parties, but would be more
sensibly felt by "_our dear friend than by us_."[3] He is willing to
go on provided the expenses do not go on increasing, but as he cannot
expect to live many years, every moment is precious to him, and hopes
that he may be allowed to be his own master _and pass his time in his
own way_.[4] He continues: "I am fully determined not to have any more
silly altercations that too often arise between us, and embitter his
present moments exceedingly. If we cannot live comfortably together,"
he continues, "a wise and well-concerted separation would be
preferable." He says he knows and admires her talents and many
excellent qualities, but _he is not blind to her defects_,[5] and
confesses to having many himself, and pleads "for God's sake to bear
and forbear."

Throughout this pathetic document we find evidences that his heart was
torn with the consciousness of the mean advantage being taken of his
friendship. There is a droll, vacillating belief in the virtue of his
wife and the purity of Nelson's motives, but every sentence indicates
that his instinct led him to believe that another had taken his place.
It may have been that he saw it dimly, and that he shrank from making
any direct accusation, not wishing to break with the man with whom he
had long been on close terms of friendship. It is highly improbable
that either his own or Emma's past histories escaped his memory when
he was penning his grievances. Indeed, there are evidences gleaming
through his memorandum that his reflections were harassed by the
remembrance of his own conduct, which had plunged to epic depths of
wrongdoing in other days. These and other considerations would
doubtless have a restraining effect on the action that might have been
taken under different circumstances. Sir William Hamilton must have
pondered over the parentage of Horatia, who was born on the 29th
January, 1801. Is it possible that he knew that Nelson was her father,
and believed in the purity of his friendship for Emma and himself? I
think everything goes to prove that he knew of his friend's relations
with his wife and condoned it. Nelson, in his clumsy, transparent way,
tried to conceal the origin of the child, so he proceeds to write a
letter to Lady Hamilton, which I shall quote later on. To say that Sir
William Hamilton, a man of the world with vast experience of human
deceptions and intrigues, could have been put off the scent, in view
of all the circumstances, is too great a tax on credulity, but it is
wholly characteristic of Nelson's ideas of mystification. But even if
there were any further proof needed, Lady Hamilton has settled the
matter by preserving the correspondence Nelson urged her to destroy.
This will be referred to later on.

Meanwhile, it is hardly thinkable that Nelson, who had such a high
sense of honour in other affairs of life, and who had accepted the
hospitality and been the honoured guest of Sir William Hamilton at
Naples, should have made the occasion an opportunity of establishing
illicit relations with his wife. The whole matter must ever remain a
blot on the great Admiral's fame, even though his host appeared to, or
really did, connive at it. The price was too high to pay for both of
them.

The following extract from a letter from Lord Minto to his wife
indicates the mode of life of the family party. He says:

    I went to Lord Nelson's (Merton) on Saturday. The whole
    establishment and way of life makes me angry as well as
    melancholy. I do not think myself obliged to quarrel with him
    for his weakness, though nothing shall ever induce me to give
    the smallest countenance to Lady Hamilton. She looks ultimately
    to the chance of marriage, as Sir William will not be long in
    her way, and she probably indulges a hope that she may survive
    Lady Nelson. She is in high looks, but more immense than ever.
    She goes on cramming Nelson with trowels of flattery, which he
    takes as quietly as a child does pap. The love she makes to him
    is ridiculous and disgusting. The whole house, staircase and
    all, are covered with pictures of her and him of all sorts and
    sizes. He is represented in naval actions, coats of arms, pieces
    of plate in his honour, the flagstaff of _L'Orient_. If it were
    Lady Hamilton's house, there might be pretence for it; but to
    make his own a mere looking-glass to view himself all day is bad
    taste.

This letter was written on the 22nd March, 1802, and Nelson writes
that Sir William Hamilton died in his arms and in Lady Hamilton's on
the 6th April, 1803, passing on "without a struggle, and that the
world had never lost a more upright and accomplished gentleman";[5]
which, be it said, is rather a stagey performance of his wife's lover.
But the mistress excels her lover in the record of the death-bed
drama. "Unhappy day," says she in profusion of tears, "for the forlorn
Emma. Ten minutes past ten dear beloved Sir William left me." Emma was
poorly provided for; only £700 a year jointure and £100 a year for her
mother for life. She and Nelson appealed to Lord Minto to urge on Mr.
Addington her claim for a pension, and she vowed to Minto that her
connection with Nelson was pure, and he says he can believe it, which
is hardly consistent with the description he gives his wife as to
"their open and disgusting proceedings," or with his comments on a
visit paid to the Duke of Marlborough at Blenheim, where the Duke had
treated the gallant naval chief and his party as though they were mere
ordinary trippers who had come to see the wonders of his possessions.
He condescendingly ordered refreshments to be given to them, which
sent Nelson into a fury of indignation, and Minto excuses the Duke by
stating that Nelson persuaded himself that all the world should be
blind because he chose to extol Emma's "virtues." Obviously, Minto was
not firmly convinced of her chastity.

Nelson, with his heart full of blind adoration, had quite a simple,
sailorly conviction that no one ought to question the innocence of his
attachment to Emma, since he called Hamilton her "Uncle"; and, because
he wished the public to believe in his innocence, he took it for
granted that they would believe it. The Duke of Marlborough evidently
had heard and believed in the impure tale, but that did not justify
him in treating his noble guest and his friends in the snobbish and
ill-mannered way he did. It is hardly likely that Nelson would have
paid the visit without being asked, and in ordinary decency he should
have been received or not asked at all. He was a greater figure and
public servant than the Duke, and His Grace would not have suffered in
dignity had he met Nelson on terms of equality. He could not have done
less, at all events. On the other hand, the great Admiral showed a
peevishness at the treatment which was unworthy of his fame and
position; he could well afford to ignore the affront, more especially
as he prided himself that the lady the Duke took exception to was "in
the sight of Heaven his wife," and no one had any right to question
his choice.

The views held by Hamilton and recorded in various conflicting
versions give the impression that he was puzzled, and could not
determine whether to believe in the fidelity of Nelson or not. Some
writers think that he winked at the liaison because of the difference
between his own age and that of his wife; others, that he thought the
relations were innocent, and a token of high-spirited friendship for
himself; but all delicately indicate their conviction that he knew
what was going on. Meanwhile, Nelson steadfastly avows his unyielding
fidelity to his friends, and, with this exception, I think we may
conclude that his devotion to them could always be relied upon;
indeed, his attachment to Hamilton was of an affectionate character,
even when many people believed he was betraying him. Whether Sir
William knew and believed that the association between his wife and
Nelson was pure or not,[6] he evidently desired that no one else
should believe it, for in a codicil to his will he bequeaths "The copy
of Madam Le Brun's picture of his wife in enamel, and gives to his
dearest friend, Nelson, a very small token of the great regard he has
for his Lordship, the most virtuous, loyal, and truly brave character
I ever met with." Then he finishes up with God's blessing to him and
shame to those who do not say "Amen." This is a wonderful testimony of
friendship from a man who had been wronged, and might well have shaken
the belief of those who founded their opinions on the startling
improprieties they had beheld between the man whom he designated "the
most virtuous, loyal, and truly brave character he had ever met with"
and his wife. That Sir William connived at what looked uncommonly like
infidelity may or may not be doubtful, but that he saw more than would
have impressed an ordinary man or woman with suspicion is
unquestionable, and the best that can be said for his attitude is that
he was so mentally constituted that he could only see or preferred to
see in Nelson's extravagant attentions to his wife a guileless symbol
of high friendship for her, which he took as a compliment to himself.
On the other hand, if he not only suspected but knew that he was being
betrayed, and bitterly resented the passion which no remonstrances
from him could have controlled, he at any rate determined to let the
world see "how a Christian could die," and refrained from uttering the
unutterable. Napoleon on the rock at St. Helena acted in the same
magnanimous way towards the adulterous Marie Louise, of whose
faithlessness he also unguardedly let slip his opinion.

It is an odious habit, but we are apt to believe, without any reserve,
disparaging stories, that may or may not be true, concerning men of
distinction, and the more prominent the man or woman, the more
viciously the scandal-mongers pursue their contemptible occupation.
These vermin invariably belong to a class of industrious mediocrities
who have been born with a mental kink, and their treachery, falsehood,
and cowardice are incurable. They are merely hurtful creatures who
spoil the earth, and are to be found dolefully chattering about what
they conceive to be other men's and women's lapses from the paths of
stern virtue. Their plan of life is to defame other people, and by
this means proclaim their own superiority over other weak mortals.
Give the unsexed woman a chance, and she will let fly with
unrestrained industry. How many innocent people have had their names
dragged into the public gaze by this vice! The report may arise from
professional or political jealousy, and may grow into incredible
accusations of immorality. Who can estimate the suffering caused to
Lord Melbourne, the then Prime Minister, and to his relatives and
friends, and even to some of his political opponents, and to the Hon.
Mrs. Norton, one of Sheridan's beautiful daughters (who was the wife
of as unscrupulous a scamp as was ever permitted to live), by the
engineering of an accusation of infidelity that forced the Prime
Minister and Mrs. Norton into the Courts to defend themselves against
what was proved to be a malicious and unfounded story? The plaintiff's
case, resting as it did upon a tissue of fabricated evidence, takes a
fine place in history because of the judge's impartiality and
sagacious charge, and the verdict of the jury for the defendants which
was received with tumultuous cheers, characterized by the judge as
"disgraceful in a court of justice." His Lordship's remonstrance was
futile, and again and again the cheers were given, both in the court
and outside, where the wildest enthusiasm prevailed. No one who took
part in this disgraceful action came out of it with a higher
reputation than Sir John Campbell, who acted for Melbourne. His
entrance to the House of Commons that night was the occasion of an
outburst of delirious cheering, the like of which had never been
witnessed in the House. "The Tories" are said to have "affected to
cheer." I give this as a notable case whereby two innocent people were
threatened with ruin and disgrace by the poisonous slander circulated
for both private and political ends and fostered by the worthless
husband of a virtuous and amiable woman.

It is common knowledge that Nelson and Sir William Hamilton were
assailed by the same stinging wasps as Melbourne and Mrs. Norton (if
it be proper to make a comparison), but they were different types of
men living in a different atmosphere and under different
circumstances. It is true that Nelson had scruples about the unwisdom
of his unconventional connection with Lady Hamilton, and, big-hearted
fellow that he was, he would have struggled hard to avoid giving pain
to his relations and friends; and who knows that he did not? For
though his actions may belie that impression, his whole attitude was
reckless, silly, and whimsical. To whatever extent he may have had
scruples, he certainly did not possess the faculty of holding his
inclinations in check. Indeed, he made no secret of the idea that
"every man became a bachelor after passing the Rock of Gibraltar," and
in this notion he carried out the orthodoxy of the old-time sailor.

He disliked marriage and loved glory, and being a popular hero, he was
forgiven all his amorous sins, which were by many looked upon as being
part of his heroism. His laughable efforts to obscure the facts might
have satisfied those who wished to rely on Hamilton's benedictory
absolution, had not Nelson and Emma, as I have already said, left
behind them incriminating letters and documents which leave no doubt
as to what they were to each other. The great Admiral industriously
destroyed much of the massive correspondence, but had overlooked some
of the hidden treasures. Lady Hamilton promised to destroy all hers,
but failed to do so. Hence the documentary proof written by his own
hand and that of Emma's cancels Nelson's childish device to throw a
too critical public off the scent.

Nelson was alternately weak, nervous, careless, and defiant in his
attitude in regard to public opinion concerning his private life. He
at one time asserted the right of living in any way he might choose,
and resented the criticism of a few cackling busybodies, even though
it was not in accordance with the views of the late Mr. Edward Cocker.
It was his affair, and if his ideas differed from those of his
critics, it was no business of theirs. His independence in this, as
well as in the practical concerns of his profession, coincided with
the opinions held by Sandy Mackay in "Alton Locke," who declared that
he would "never bow down to a bit of brains." But these independent
views alternated with weaker ones. He was as indiscreetly lavish with
his love as he was with his money; at one time he would contemptuously
defy the poisoned arrows that were darted at him, and when beset by
the sullen storm-cloud of scandal, he let fly with red-hot courage and
audaciously upheld his honour: at another time he was timid,
vacillating, and ridiculous in his attempts to avert the public eye
from his love affair and its consequence. People who knew him
intimately were aware that Horatia was his daughter, and in order to
throw them off their guard he proceeded to invent a cock-and-bull
story of how he came by the child. Here is his letter to Lady Hamilton
written in the middle of 1804: "I am now going to state a thing to
you and to request your kind assistance which, from my dear Emma's
goodness of heart, I am sure of her acquiescence in. Before we left
Italy, I told you of the extraordinary circumstances of a child being
left to my care and protection. On your first coming to England, I
presented you the child, dear Horatia. You became, to my comfort,
attached to it, so did Sir William, thinking her the finest child he
had ever seen. She is become of that age when it is necessary to
remove her from a mere nurse, and to think of educating her. I am now
anxious for the child's being placed under your protecting wing"; a
clumsy, transparent piece of foolery, which at once confirms its
intention to mislead! But we are saved the trouble of interpretation,
for the father goes on to write on another piece of note-paper, "My
beloved, how I feel for your situation and that of our dear Horatia,
our dear child." It is almost incredible that Nelson could have
written such a silly fabrication. In the early part of 1804, Emma gave
birth to another child, of which he believed himself to be the father.
He asked the mother to call _him_ what she pleased (evidently he hoped
and expected a boy), but if a girl, it was to be named Emma. It was a
girl, so it was called after the mother, but it did not live long, and
the father never saw it.

As though he thought the letter written about little Miss Thompson
(Horatia, be it understood) were not sufficiently delusive, he sends
an equally absurd production to his niece, Charlotte Nelson, who
lived a good deal at Merton, in which he says that he is "truly
sensible of her attachment to that dear little orphan, Horatia," and
although her parents are lost, yet she is not "without a fortune; and
that he will cherish her to the last moment of his life, and _curse_
them who _curse_ her, and Heaven bless them who bless her." This
solemn enthusiasm for the poor orphan puts Nelson out of court as a
cute letter-writer. The quality of ingenious diplomacy had been left
entirely out of him, and like any one else who dallies with an art for
which they have no gift, he excites suspicions, and more often than
not discloses the very secret he is so anxious to keep. Every line of
these letters indicates a tussle between a natural tendency to frank
honesty and an unnatural and unworthy method of deception. Obviously,
the recipient of this precious document would have her curiosity
excited over the disingenuous tale of romance. She would ask herself
first of all, "Why should my kinsman be so desirous to tell me that
the orphan in whom he has so fond an interest is not without a
fortune? and why should the responsibility of rearing and educating
the child have been entrusted to him, the most active and important
Admiral in the British Navy? And if it be true that she is an orphan,
surely there could be no object in supposing that any one would
'_curse_ her,' especially as he declared that she was 'not without
fortune,' and that she was to be known as his adopted child." The
niece, being a quick-witted girl, would naturally think the problem
out for herself, and decide that there was something fishy involved
in the mystery of these unnecessary phrases.

In dealing with his domestic complications, Nelson's mind seems to
have been in a constant whirlwind, dodging from one difficulty into
another, never direct, and for ever in conflict with his true self. He
was brave and resourceful in everything that appertained to the
service he adorned, and yet a shivering fear came over him now and
again lest the truth concerning his attachment to his friend's wife
should be revealed. When he was seized with these remorseful thoughts,
he could not be silent; he was not possessed of the constitutional
gift of reticence, and could only find relief by constant reference to
the matter he wished kept secret in such a way as to cause people to
put two and two together and arrive at the very truth he wished to
hide.


VII

But whatever his ruling passion may have been, his belief in the Power
that rules us all never forsook him. He believed in religious forms as
of a spiritual force. He often committed himself to it, and claimed
the privilege of asking for Heaven's guidance. Call it eccentricity or
superstition, or what you like, but to him it was a reality. One of
the many amusing instances of his devotion to religious rites was the
occasion when he and Lady Hamilton stood as godfather and godmother
at the christening of their daughter, Horatia Nelson Thompson,[7] by
which name she was baptized. To the puritanic, orthodox mind (keeping
in view all the circumstances of parentage) this will be looked upon
as an act of abominable hypocrisy and sacrilege, but to him it was a
pious duty.

Like all highly strung and overwrought mortals, he was often moody,
depressed, and, worst of all, a victim to premonitions of his early
demise. His superstitious temperament was constantly worrying him, as
did his faith in the predictions of a gipsy fortune-teller who had
correctly described his career up to the year 1805, and then stopping
had said, "I can see no further." This creepy ending of the gipsy's
tale was afflicting him with a dumb pain and depression when he
unexpectedly came across his sister Catherine in London. She referred
to his worn, haggard look with a tenderness that was peculiarly her
own. He replied, "Ah! Katty! Katty! that gipsy!" and then relapsed
into morbid silence. The foreboding bore heavily on his mind, and the
story may well make one's heart throb with pity for the noble fellow
who was so soon to fulfil his tragic destiny. Well may we exclaim that
fame seems to be the most wretched of mockeries!

The Duke of Wellington, of whom it is said no dose of flattery was too
strong for him to swallow, has left on record an interesting account
of his meeting Nelson at the Colonial Office. He gives the account of
it, thirty years after Nelson's death, to John Wilson Croker at
Walmer, and here is what he says of Collingwood's great comrade:--

    WALMER, _1st October, 1834_.

    We were [that is, Croker and he] talking of Lord Nelson, and
    some instances were mentioned of the egotism and vanity that
    derogated from his character. "Why," said the Duke, "I am not
    surprised at such instances, for Lord Nelson was, in different
    circumstances, two quite different men, as I myself can vouch,
    though I only saw him once in my life, and for, perhaps, an
    hour. It was soon after I returned from India. I went to the
    Colonial Office in Downing Street, and there I was shown into
    the little waiting-room on the right hand, where I found, also
    waiting to see the Secretary of State, a gentleman, whom, from
    his likeness to his pictures and the loss of an arm, I
    immediately recognized as Lord Nelson. He could not know who I
    was, but he entered at once into conversation with me, if I can
    call it conversation, for it was almost all on his side and all
    about himself, and in, really, a style so vain and so silly as
    to surprise and almost disgust me. I suppose something that I
    happened to say made him guess that I was _somebody_, and he
    went out of the room for a moment, I have no doubt to ask the
    office keeper who I was, for when he came back he was altogether
    a different man, both in manner and matter. All that I had
    thought a charlatan style had vanished, and he talked of the
    state of this country and the probabilities of affairs on the
    Continent with a good sense, and a knowledge of subjects both at
    home and abroad, that surprised me equally and more agreeably
    than the first part of our interview had done; in fact, he
    talked like an officer and a statesman. The Secretary of State
    kept us long waiting, and certainly, for the last half or
    three-quarters of an hour, I don't know that I ever had a
    conversation that interested me more. Now, if the Secretary of
    State had been punctual, and admitted Lord Nelson in the first
    quarter of an hour, I should have had the same impression of a
    light and trivial character that other people have had; but
    luckily I saw enough to be satisfied that he was really a very
    superior man; but certainly a more sudden and complete
    metamorphosis I never saw."[8]

We must not be too critical of the Duke's opinions of the vanity of
the Admiral, but it calls for some notice, inasmuch as the Duke
himself is reputed to have had an uncommonly good amount of it
himself, though it took a different form and created a different
impression. Wellington showed it in a cold, haughty, unimaginative,
repelling self-importance; fearful of unbending to his inferiors lest
his dignity should be offended. Nelson's peculiarities were the very
antithesis; it was his delightful egotism and vanity that added to his
charm and made him such a fascinating personality. His direct
slap-dash, unconventional phrases and flashes of naval brilliancy,
whether in search of, or engaged in battle with the enemy, together
with a natural kindness to his officers and men of all ranks, filled
them with confidence and pride in having him as their chief. The
"Nelson touch," the "drubbing" he swore in his own engaging way that
Mr. Villeneuve--as he called him to Blackwood--was to have when he
caught him, the putting of the telescope to his blind eye at
Copenhagen when the signal was flying to leave off action, and then
"No, damn me if I do," had an inspiring effect on his men and
strengthened the belief in his dauntlessness and sagacity. "What will
Nelson think of us?" remarked one of the men aboard one of the
frigates that obeyed the signal. But Nelson went on fighting with
complete success. "Luckily," says Wellington, "I saw enough to be
satisfied that he was really a very superior man." Why "luckily"? What
difference would his lack of knowledge have made? The Duke was hardly
the type of man to understand the powerful personality whose style,
"so vain and silly, surprised and almost disgusted" him. That view
does not stand to _his_ credit, and no one else held it.

But let us see what a greater man than either Wellington or Nelson
says of both. Napoleon, at St. Helena, spoke in very high terms of
Lord Nelson,[9] and indeed attempted to palliate that one stigma on
his memory, the execution of Carraciolli, which he attributed entirely
to his having been deceived by that wicked woman Queen Caroline,
through Lady Hamilton, and to the influence which the latter had over
him. He says of the Duke: "Judging from Wellington's actions, from his
dispatches, and, above all, from his conduct towards Ney, I should
pronounce him to be a poor-spirited man, without generosity, and
without greatness of soul ('Un homme de peu d'esprit, sans générosité,
et sans grandeur d'âme'). Such I know to be the opinion of Benjamin
Constant and of Madame de Staël, who said that, except as a general,
he had not two ideas. As a general, however, to find his equal amongst
your own nation, you must go back to the time of Marlborough, but as
anything else, I think that history will pronounce him to be a man of
limited capacity ('Un homme borné')."[10]

"Nelson is a brave man. If Villeneuve at Aboukir and Dumanoir at
Trafalgar had had a little of his blood, the French would have been
conquerors. I ought to have had Dumanoir's head cut off. Do you not
think more highly of Nelson than of the best engineers who construct
fortifications? Nelson had what a mere engineer officer can never
acquire. It is a gift of nature."

The Emperor, in his eulogy of Nelson, is not unmindful of the terrible
crime he was led to commit at the instigation of that human viper,
Queen Caroline, and the licentious Emma Hamilton. He, to some extent,
whittles down Nelson's share of the responsibility by putting the
whole blame on them. But who can read the gruesome story of the trial
and hanging of the aged Prince Carraciolli without feeling ashamed
that a fellow-countryman in Nelson's position should have stamped his
career with so dark a crime? At the capitulation of St. Elmo,
Carraciolli made his escape. He commanded a Neapolitan warship called
the _Tancredi_, and had fought in Admiral Hotham's action on the 14th
March, 1795, and gained distinction, accompanying the Royal Family to
Palermo. He was given permission by the King to return for the purpose
of protecting his large property. The French had entered Neapolitan
territory and seized his estates, on the ground that he was a
Royalist, and the only way he could recover them was by agreeing to
take command of the Neapolitan fleet. The French were obliged to
evacuate the country, and left their friends to settle matters for
themselves as best they could. Carraciolli concealed himself, but was
discovered in disguise and put on board the _Foudroyant_ with his
hands tied behind his back. Captain Hardy, who was a man with a heart,
was indignant when he saw the old man subjected to such gross
indignity, and immediately ordered his hands to be liberated.

Nelson committed him for trial, which commenced at ten o'clock, and at
twelve he was declared guilty. At five o'clock he was hanged at the
yardarm of the Neapolitan frigate _Minerva_. This poor old man was
tried solely by his enemies without being allowed to have counsel or
call witnesses. A miscreant called Count Thurn, a worse enemy than
all, presided over the court. Carraciolli asked Lieutenant Parkinson
to obtain for him a new trial. Nelson, who had ordered the first,
could not or would not grant a second. Carraciolli asked to be shot,
and this also was refused. On the grounds of former association, he
sought the aid of Lady Hamilton, but she, being an approving party to
the execution, only came from her concealment to enjoy the sight of
the old Prince's dead body dangling at the yardarm. "Come, Bronte,
come," said she, "let us take the barge and have another look at
Carraciolli"; and there they feasted their eyes on the lifeless
remains of their former associate, who had assuredly cursed them both
with his last dying breath. It is the custom when sailors are buried
at sea to weight their feet so that the body may sink in an upright
position. The same course was adopted with Carraciolli; shot was put
at his feet, but not sufficient, and he was cast into the sea. In a
few days the putrified body rose to the surface head upwards, as
though the murdered man had come again to haunt his executioners and
give them a further opportunity of gazing at the ghastly features of
their victim.[11] The sight of his old friend emerging again terrified
Ferdinand, and he became afflicted with a feeling of abiding horror
which he sought to appease by having the body interred in a Christian
burial-ground. But the spirit of his executed friend worried him all
his remaining days, and the act of burial did not save Naples from
becoming a shambles of conflict, robbery, and revolution. Neither did
Emma Hamilton escape her just deserts for the vile part she played in
one of the most abominable crimes ever committed. Her latter hours
were made terrible by the thought of the mockery of a trial, and the
constant vision of the Prince's ghost glowering at her from the
_Minerva's_ yardarm and from the surface of his watery tomb from which
he had risen again to reproach her with the inhuman pleasure she had
taken in watching the dreadful act. Nor did her shrieking avowal of
repentance give the wretched Jezebel of a woman the assurance of
forgiveness. She sought for distractions, and found most of them in
wickedness, and passed into the presence of the Great Mystery with all
her deeds of faithlessness, deceit, and uncontrollable revenge before
her eyes.

It is sad to read of and hear the insensate rubbish that is talked of
new earths that are to evolve from war, as though it could be divorced
from wounds and death, unspeakable crime, suffering in all its varied
forms, and the destruction of property which must always be a direct
result. The spectacle of it can never be other, except to the
martially-minded, than a shuddering horror. I would ask any one who is
imbued with the idea that out of wars spring new worlds to name a
single instance where a nation that has engaged in it has not been
left bleeding at its extremities, no matter whether it emerges as
victor or vanquished. I would further ask the writer or orator who
talks in this strain if he imagines that the sending of myriads of men
to death can contribute to the making of new earths. The consequences
are much too tragically serious to the nation, and indeed to the
world, to be played with by smug diplomatists who seek to excite the
populace into support of their calamitous efforts at statesmanship by
shallow bursts of eloquence about the new conditions of life which are
to accrue from their imitation of Germanism.

No doubt Nelson thought, when he had poor old Prince Carraciolli
hung, that he would create a new earth by striking terror into the
hearts of the Neapolitan race, but natural laws are not worked out by
methods of this kind, and Nelson had the mortification of seeing his
plan of regulating human affairs create a new and more ferocious
little hell on earth. His judgment at this time was very much warped
through the evil influence of the Court of Naples and more especially
by his infatuation for Lady Hamilton.

Greville, and subsequently Sir William Hamilton, had taken great pains
to educate Emma Hart. Hamilton writes to his nephew: "I can assure you
her behaviour is such as has acquired her many sensible admirers, and
we have good man society, and all the female nobility, with the Queen
at their head, show her every mark of civility." Hamilton writes
further: "Hitherto, her behaviour is irreproachable, but her temper,
as you must know, unequal." Lady Malmesbury (with a decidedly sly
scratch) says of her: "She really behaves as well as possible, and
quite wonderfully, considering her origin and education." Sir George
Elliot says: "Her manners are perfectly, unpolished, very easy, but
not with the ease of good breeding, but of a barmaid; excessively
good-humoured, wishing to please and be admired by everybody that came
in her way. She has acquired since her marriage some knowledge of
history and of the arts, and one wonders at the application and pains
she has taken to make herself what she is. With men her language and
conversation are exaggerations of anything I ever heard anywhere; and
I was wonderfully struck with these inveterate remains of her origin,
though the impression was very much weakened by seeing the other
ladies of Naples." A naval lieutenant at Naples stated he "thought her
a very handsome, vulgar woman." There is no stabbing with a sneer
about this opinion. It expresses in a few words the candid opinion of
the sailor. Mrs. St. George thinks her "bold, daring, vain even to
folly, and stamped with the manners of her first situation much more
strongly than one would suppose, after having represented Majesty and
lived in good company fifteen years. Her dress is frightful. Her waist
is absolutely between her shoulders. Her figure is colossal, but,
excepting her feet, which are hideous, well shaped. The shape of all
her features is fine, as is the form of her head, and particularly her
ears; her teeth are a little irregular, but tolerably white; her eyes
light blue, with a brown spot in one, which, though a defect, takes
nothing away from her beauty or expression. Her eyebrows and hair,
which, by the bye, is never clean, are dark and her complexion coarse.
Her expression is strongly marked, variable, and interesting; her
movements in common life ungraceful, her voice loud, yet not
disagreeable." This female critic seems to have been overburdened with
the weight of Emma's defects, mental and physical! Elliot says: "Her
person is nothing short of monstrous for its enormity, and is growing
every day. Her face is beautiful." The latter view tones down the
apparent desire not to say too much in her favour.

We are persuaded, in fact, that the foregoing views of Lady Hamilton's
personal appearance are not correct. They give the impression that the
opinions of her critics are based on the woman's lowly origin, and
that they assume that because she was the offspring of poor parents
she ought to be described as a fat hoyden with the manners of the
kitchen. The people who knew her intimately do not make her out to be
a stout, unwholesome, East-End Palestiner. The sister of Marie
Antoinette, be it remembered, was her close companion, and many
English ladies living in Naples and visiting there were scarcely
likely to associate with a person who could not display better looks
and manners than those set forth. Nelson, the Prince of Wales, and her
many other men admirers, were hardly likely to tumble over each other
in competition for her smiles and favours if "her dress was
frightful," "her waist between her shoulders," "her hair dirty," "her
feet hideous," "her bones large," "her complexion coarse," and "her
person monstrous for its enormity, growing every day."

We are inclined to place little dependence on the accuracy of people
who seem to have described her according to their moods or perhaps
according to the manner of her admirers towards themselves. That she
was clever and attractive there can be no doubt, and it is equally
certain that she won for herself the mortal enmity of many ladies who
saw her powerful influence over prominent men and women whom they
themselves bored. Some importance must be given to her husband's
position as British representative; his influence must have been
great, especially in Neapolitan circles. This would help her natural
gifts of fascination, even though her breeding and education did not
reach the standard of her blue-blooded critics. She had something that
stood her in greater stead than breeding and education: she had the
power of enslaving gallant hearts and holding them in thrall with many
artful devices. They liked her Bohemianism, her wit, her geniality,
her audacious slang, and her collection of droll epithets that
fittingly described her venomous critics of a self-appointed nobility.
When she could not reach the heights of such superior persons she
proceeded to ridicule them with a tongue that rattled out vivid
invective which outmatched anything they could say of _her_. It
probably made her more enemies, but it satisfied her temper and
pleased her admirers. She never appears to have been conscious of any
inferiority in herself. We are inclined to agree with the opinion
expressed by the naval lieutenant at Naples, who said "She was a very
handsome, vulgar woman." All her portraits confirm what the sailor
says about her beauty, and the most reliable records are confirmatory
so far as his view of her vulgarity is concerned.

But in any case, whatever may have been her physical dimensions, they
were not understated by the crowd who gave vent to their aversion in
this and in many other deplorable ways. There are only a few
evidences of Nelson being aware of and resenting some of the
disparaging remarks made about his "wife in the sight of Heaven," and
these do not seem to have diminished his infatuation for her. He was
accustomed to say in connection with his professional duties that
whenever he followed his own head he was in general much more correct
in his judgment than by following other people's opinions. He carried
this plan into his private life so far as Emma was concerned, but men
and women who were his intimate friends would not support the view
that by following his head in _this_ particular case his judgment was
sound. We may term the infatuation a deteriorated state of mind, but
_he_ was sustained by the belief that she was a spirit unto him while
he lived, and with his last gasp, as he was passing into the shadows,
he bestowed her as a legacy to his country. We shall have something to
say hereafter as to how the British Government dealt with their great
Admiral's dying injunction.

The Neapolitan atmosphere was vile enough, and might well have made
even men and women who knew the loose side of life shrink from it, but
it can never be claimed that it had a demoralizing influence on Emma,
who at an early age became familiar with unspeakable vices which left
her little to learn at the time Greville sold her to his uncle, who
took her to a centre of sordid uncleanness, there to become his wife
after a brief association as his mistress. We may have no misgiving as
to her aptitude in acquiring anything she chose that was left for her
to learn from a community of debauchees and parasites.

The wonder is that her brain did not succumb to the poisonous
influences by which she was surrounded, and that the poor girl did not
sink into the depths of that luxurious sensuality which characterized
Neapolitan society at that time. It was a more distinguished and
fascinating type of debauchery than that which she had known in other
days in England, and from which Greville had rescued her. The
temptation to plunge into the boisterous merriment of a higher order
of depravity than that to which she had been accustomed must have been
very great to such a temperament as hers. But she worthily kept her
wild, wayward spirit under restraint, and, according to Sir William
Hamilton, she conducted herself in a way that caused him to be
satisfied with his reforming guidance. She adapted herself to the ways
of the more select social community of her new existence, and at the
time Nelson made her acquaintance she had really become a creditable
member of the society in which she moved. In every respect she was
congenial to him. He never lost a chance of applauding her gifts and
brazenly exempting himself from all moral restrictions, except, as I
have said before, when he was seized with a spontaneous fit of
goodness. He would then clumsily try to conceal the passion that
obsessed him. He did not brood long over trifles of this kind, merely
because he had lost, if ever he possessed, the power of consecutive
reasoning in matters of moral convention. His Neapolitan associates
were a cunning, lying, luxury-loving, depraved lot, and however
strongly his principles were fixed, there can be but one opinion--that
such an atmosphere was harmful to him. He speaks of Naples himself as
being a country of poets, whores, and scoundrels; and Southey does not
attempt to mince words, for in vigorous terms he describes England's
"alliances to superannuated and abominable governments of the
Continent." These are the states that we shed British blood and
squandered British money over, and in truth Southey describes them as
they were!

The King of Naples was a great hero to stand up against the bravest,
best-trained troops the world! He shivered at the thought of Nelson
going out of his sight, and whimpered him into staying to guard him
and his rotten kingdom. It was at this period of his gallant activity
that Nelson became the victim of fulsome flattery and the associate of
the most cunning, knavish charlatans in the world. These creatures
never ceased to inveigh against the wrongs they were suffering for the
uplifting of human rights, and because their great British ally was in
need of their disinterested and distinguished co-ordination. Nelson
was well aware of all this, but could not shake himself free. He
loathed the slavering way in which flattery was extended to him,
because it had a sickly resemblance to weeping. He declares of the
Neapolitan officers, "They are boasters of the highest order, and when
they are confronted with the duty of defending hearth and home, their
courage ends in vapour." He avers that they "cannot lose honour, as
they have none to lose," and yet he makes no serious effort to
unshackle himself from a detestable position. Emma, the Queen, and
King of Naples, and others, have a deep-rooted hold on him, and he
cannot give up the cheap popularity of the Neapolitans. He persuades
himself that the whole thought of his soul is "Down, down, with the
French," and that it shall be his "constant prayer." Throughout the
whole course of his brilliant career it was never doubted that the
French were his great aversion, because they were his country's
enemies. But the hysterical tears of Lady Hamilton and those of the
Neapolitan Queen proved too strong for him. The King's beseeching
fears were also added to an already difficult situation, which, he
persuaded himself, could not be ignored without damaging the interests
he was sent to protect; so his stay in the reeking cesspool of
Neapolitanism was prolonged, but there is no reason for supposing that
his "constant prayer" for the extinction of the French was any the
less ardent. The fatal day of their catastrophe was only postponed.
The praying went on all the same, with more or less belief in the
Almighty's preference for Englishmen.


VIII

This is a form of cant to which those whom we regard as great men are
a prey. But this pride of race is not confined to the mighty men of
valour. The humble soldier and sailor, and poorest and richest of
civilians, have the same inherent belief in British superiority. They
talk to the Great Giver of all power in the most patronizing way, and
while they profess to believe in His ordinances they treat them as
though He were their vassal and not their Lawgiver. They call upon Him
to break His own laws and help them to smite those whom they regard as
enemies, never doubting the righteousness of their cause. The enemy,
on the other hand, believe that _they_ have a monopoly of God, and
avow that _their_ cause is His, and _being_ His, they grimly ask Him
to settle the dispute by coming down on their side; but should they
win the fight, the glory of it is seldom given to the Power whose
assistance is implored, but ascribed to their own genius.

Cromwell is a singular and distinguished exception. He always gave all
the glory to God. Take as an example the battle of Dunbar (though
there are many instances of a similar character that could be quoted
during the Civil War). The battle-cry of the Parliament forces was
"The Lord of Hosts," and at the opportune moment the commander of the
Parliament army shouted, "Now let God arise, and His enemies shall be
scattered." The Ironsides made a fearless and irresistible rush at
their foes, and almost immediately Cromwell saw the Covenanters in
confusion; again he shouted, "They run! I profess they run!" The
quotation from the 68th Psalm was always an inspiration to these
religious warriors. Old Leslie, the Scotch Covenanting general, with
the patience of stupidity, had been mumbling petitions for hours to
the God of the Anointed to form an alliance with him to crush the
unholy rebellion against King and Covenant. "Thou knowest, O God, how
just our cause is, and how unjust is that of those who are not Thy
people." This moth-eaten crowd of canting hypocrites were no match for
the forces who believed that they were backed by the Lord of Hosts,
and they were completely routed.

Sir Jacob Astley, another Royalist, on one occasion during the Civil
War breathed a simple prayer with uplifted eyes. "O Lord," said he,
"Thou knowest how busy I must be this day. If I forget Thee, do not
Thou forget me." Then he gave the word of command to "March." He was
nevertheless defeated at Stow, and seems to have been offended at the
Deity for His forgetfulness, as he bitterly reproached his conquerors
by telling them that they might go to play unless they fell out
amongst themselves.

Napoleon carried on warfare under a sterner and more self-reliant
code. He had confidence in and depended on his own genius and on
nature's laws. There are shoals of instances in his short and terrific
career that indicate this belief in himself. He said to a regiment of
horse chasseurs at Lobenstein two days before the battle of Jena, "My
lads! you must not fear death; when soldiers brave death, they drive
him into the enemy's ranks." On another occasion he said: "You must
not fight too often with one enemy, or you teach him all your art of
war." This is a thrilling truth which always tells in war, and yet
behind all the apparent indifference to the great mysterious force
that holds sway over human affairs there was a hidden belief in the
power of the Deity to guide aright and give aid in the hour of need,
even to men of unequalled talents like Napoleon himself. His
spontaneous exclamations indicate that he did not doubt who created
and ruled the universe, but how much he relied on this power he never
really disclosed, and it can only be a supposition gathered from
utterances recorded by some of his contemporaries that he had a devout
belief in the great power of Christianity. "Ah!" said he one day,
"there is but one means of getting good manners, and that is by
establishing religion." At that time the spiritual life of France was
at a low ebb, and the subject of religion was one of the most
unpopular and risky topics to raise, but Napoleon knew that it would
have to be tackled in the open sooner or later, and it is a matter of
authentic history that he struggled to bring and ultimately succeeded
in bringing back religious ordinances to France. He declared that no
good government could exist for long without it. His traducers
proclaimed him an atheist, and we hear the same claptrap from people
now who have not made themselves acquainted with the real history of
the man and his times. We do not say he was a saint, but he was a
better Christian, both in profession and action, than most of the
kings that ruled prior to and during his period. In every way he
excels the Louis of France, the Georges of Great Britain and Hanover,
the Fredericks of Prussia, and the Alexanders of Russia. The latter
two he puts far in the shade, both as a statesman, a warrior, and a
wise, humane ruler who saw far into futurity, and fought against the
reactionary forces of Europe, which combined to put an end to what was
called his ambition to dominate the whole of creation. He foretold
with amazing accuracy that from his ashes there would spring up
sectional wars for a time, and ultimately the selfsame elements of
vicious mediocrity that destroyed him would bring about a
world-conflict which would destroy itself.

The laws of life are simple, but at the same time very terrible in
their consequences if ignored or disobeyed. What folly to imagine that
any great figure or great tragedy comes into existence by chance!
Napoleon was just as necessary to the world as was Cromwell. Both had
the righting of wrongs and the clearing away of the accumulation of
centuries of chaos and misgovernment, and it was not to be expected
that they could carry out the necessary reforms without making the
authors of such an intolerable state of things angry and resentful at
their iron methods of discipline. Napoleon and Cromwell possessed the
combined arts of war and statesmanship to a higher degree than any of
their contemporaries. Cromwell excelled Napoleon in professional
Christianity. The latter never paraded his ideas of religion, though
he acted on them silently and gave occasional expression to the
thoughts of his soul. Indeed, he was too much given to publicly
disavowing the very principles he believed in privately. This plan or
habit was said to be for the purpose of creating controversy. Be that
as it may, when the natural spirit moved him he would declare his
views in the most robust way. On one of many occasions he startled the
Council of State by reminding them that a man did not risk being
killed for a few pence a day or for a paltry distinction. "You must
speak to the soul," he declared, "to electrify the man." Another very
notable expression is here worth referring to, as it instances how
practical and human were his views. "The heart," said he, "warms the
genius, but in Pitt the genius withers the heart, which is a very
different thing"; and so it is that Cromwell and he were not
dissimilar in many of their attributes. Indeed, it is said that
Napoleon never tired of quoting or having quoted to him some striking
characteristic of Cromwell. We could hardly, with any degree of good
judgment, put Leslie the Covenanter or Sir Jacob Astley the Royalist,
or Nelson the matchless naval strategist and national hero, on a par
with either Cromwell or Napoleon. They are only here referred to in
connection with the two unequalled constructive statesmen and military
generals as representing a type of peculiarly religious men who have
occupied high military and naval positions in the service of the
State.

Hawkins, Drake, Frobisher, Blake in Cromwell's time, Nelson in
Napoleon's, were all fire-eating religious men, always asking favours
and guidance in their perilous undertakings from the great mystic
Power in whom they believed. Collingwood was a great admiral and a
Christian gentleman, who never mixed religion with hysterical or
dramatic flashes of quarterdeck language. He was ostentatious in
nothing, and seemed to observe a strictly decorous attitude. Nelson,
on the other hand, resembled a restless squirrel, always swift in his
instincts, with an enthusiasm which was contagious. In many ways he
did not adhere to what is called cricket in sporting phrase. He was
accustomed to say, "Never mind the justice or the impudence of this or
that, only let me succeed." Then he would proceed to ask the Almighty
in feverish zeal to aid him in the object he had in view.

He would scatter a profusion of curses about in relation to the
treatment of the Admiralty towards himself, or at his disappointment
in not getting to grips with the French fleet, and then proceed to ask
Lady Hamilton if they had a nice church at Merton, so that they may
set an example of goodness to the under-parishioners, and "admire the
pigs and poultry," etc. He finds on several occasions that a picture
of Emma is much admired by the French Consul at Barcelona, and feels
sure it would be admired by Bonaparte, and then he continues, "I love
you most dearly, and hate the French most damnably." Sometimes he said
he hated the French as the devil hated holy water, which at that time
was considered to be the orthodoxy of a true Briton. It was quite a
pro-British attitude to patronize the maker of kings who had kept the
world in awe for nearly a quarter of a century, by expecting him to
admire a portrait of a loose woman to whom he referred in the most
scathing manner while at St. Helena. Her reputation and Nelson's
connection with her seems to have been known to him, as was also her
connection with the Neapolitan Court. His indictment was terrible.

Nelson had a weary, anxious time on the Toulon station. He called it
his home, and said they were in fine fighting trim and wished to God
the ships were the same, but they were in a very dilapidated
condition, not fit to stand the bad weather they were sure to
encounter. The British Minister at Naples wished to send a Frenchman
who could be relied on with information as to the whereabouts of the
French fleet. Nelson replied that he would not on any account have a
Frenchman in the British fleet except as a prisoner. He would be
grateful to him for any information he could give, but not a Frenchman
would be allowed to come to him, and adds that "his mother hated the
French." He was enraged at the report spread by a fussy French Admiral
named M. la Touche-Treville, who was in command at Toulon. It was said
that he was sent to beat Nelson as he had done at Boulogne. But he was
shy about coming out and trying a tussle. Nelson said he was a
miscreant, a poltroon, and a liar. The Frenchman had boasted in a
publication that he had put the British fleet to flight. The British
Admiral took the charge so seriously to heart that he sent a copy of
the _Victory's_ log to the Admiralty to disprove the statement of the
lying Admiral la Touche, and in a letter to his brother Nelson says,
"You will have seen La Touche's letter of how he chased me, and how I
ran. I keep it; and by God if I take him, he shall eat it." La Touche
cheated Nelson of a sweet revenge by dying like a good Christian
before the outraged British Admiral could get hold of him. The
newspapers of France said he died of fatigue caused by walking so
often to the signal post at Sepet, to watch the British fleet; and
Nelson stated "that he was always sure that would be the death of him,
and that if he had come out to fight him it would have added ten years
on to his life." Poor Nelson was very sensitive when his professional
qualities were assailed. He thought, and thought rightly, that the
blockade at Toulon was an unparalleled feat of human patience and
physical endurance. He had only been out of his ship three times from
May 1803 to August 1805. We may write and speak about this wonderful
devotion to duty, but it is only if we take time to think of the
terrific things which the central figure who commanded, and the crews
of the fleet of rickety, worn-out, leaky baskets--proudly spoken of as
the "wooden walls of Old England"--had to contend with and actually
did, that we comprehend the vast strain and task of it all. It was
because Nelson was ever being reminded by some clumsy act of the
Admiralty or thoughtless, ignorant criticism on the part of the
politicians and civilian public generally that the work he and the men
under him were doing was not appreciated as it should be, that he gave
way to outbursts of violent resentment. But so far as the present
writer has been able to discover, his love of approbation was so
strong that an encouraging word of praise soon put him in love for the
time being with those whom he had lately cursed.

He never shrank from disobeying the instructions of whatever authority
was over him if his judgment led him to the conclusion that he would
serve his country better by disobedience and by following his own
judgment; whenever he was driven to do this he was right and those
above him were wrong, and in each case he was so conclusively right
that no authoritative power dare court-martial him, or even censure
his conduct, since the public believed more in him than in them. When
the spirit of well-balanced defiance was upon him, he seemed to say to
the public, to himself, and to those who were responsible for his
instructions, "Do you imagine yourselves more capable of judging the
circumstances, and the immeasurable difficulties surrounding them,
than I am, whose business it has been to watch minutely every changing
phase? Or do you think my love of country or glory so incomparably
inferior to yours that I would risk any harm coming to it, or to
myself and the men under me, if I was not sure of my ground? For what
other reason do you think I disobeyed orders? Do you suppose I did it
in order that some disaster should be the result? Or do you still
think that your plan, right or wrong, should have been carried out,
even though it would be accompanied with appalling consequences to
life and property? If these are your views, I wish to remind you that
I am the Indomitable Nelson, who will stand no damned nonsense from
you or from the enemy when I see that my country, or the interests
that I represent, are going to be jeopardized by your self-assertive
instructions, and I wish to intimate to you that there is only one way
of dealing with a Frenchman, and that is to knock him down when he is
an enemy. You have obviously got to learn that to be civil to a
Frenchman is to be laughed at, and this I shall never submit to." The
Admiralty censured Nelson for disobeying Lord Keith's orders and, as
they claimed, endangering Minorca, and also for landing seamen for the
siege of Capua, and told him "not to employ the seamen in any such way
in future." The Admiralty were too hasty in chastising him. He claimed
that his success in freeing the whole kingdom of Naples from the
French was almost wholly due to the employment of British sailors,
whose valour carried the day.

Nelson sent the First Lord a slap between the eyes in his best
sarcastic form. He said briefly, "I cannot enter into all the detail
in explanation of my motives which led me to take the action I did, as
I have only a left hand, but I may inform you that my object is to
drive the French to the devil, and restore peace and happiness to
mankind"; and he continues, "I feel I am fitter to do the action than
to describe it." And then he curtly and in so many words says to his
Chief, "Don't you be troubled about Minorca. I have secured the main
thing against your wish and that of Lord Keith, and you may be assured
that I shall see that no harm comes to the Islands, which seems to be
a cause of unnecessary anxiety to you." Incidentally, the expulsion of
the French from Naples and seating Ferdinand on the throne was, as I
have previously stated, not an unqualified success, nor was he
accurate in his statement that he had restored happiness to millions.
The success was a mere shadow. He had emancipated a set of villains.
Troubridge says they were all thieves and vagabonds, robbing their
unfortunate countrymen, selling confiscated property for nothing,
cheating the King and Treasury by pocketing everything that their
sticky fingers touched, and that their villainies were so deeply
rooted that if some steps were not taken to dig them out, the
Government could not hold together. Out of twenty millions of ducats
collected as revenue, only thirteen millions reached the Treasury, and
the King had to pay four ducats instead of one. Troubridge again
intimates to his superior that Ferdinand is surrounded with a nest of
the most unscrupulous thieves that could be found in all Europe. "Such
damned cowards and villains," he declared, "he had never seen or heard
of before."


IX

The French did not mince matters when their opportunity came. They,
too, regarded them as vermin, and treated them according to the
unrestrained edicts of the Reign of Terror, organized and
administered by their late compatriots Sardanapalus, Danton,
Maximilian Robespierre, and their literary colleague, the execrable
Marat, who, by the way, was expeditiously dispatched by the gallant
Charlotte Corday.[12]

This method of bestowing the blessings of Liberty, Equality, and
Fraternity was received by the Neapolitans with a frenzy from which
there sprang a demoniac retaliation. Societies were formed to carry
out the most atrocious crimes against the Neapolitan revolutionists,
whom the Royalists hated more than they did the French. The fishermen
and other miscreants came to a solemn conclusion that it was clearly
their duty as a Christian people to combine, and each choose one whom
they should privately guillotine when the opportunity offered. With
the idea of paying a high compliment to Troubridge, who had so
splendidly protected the Royalists, fought the French, and subdued
the revolutionists, they made him the recipient of a decapitated head
which had proudly sat on the shoulders of a revolutionist. This trophy
was actually sent to him with his basket of breakfast grapes. In
making the present the gallant fisherman conveyed his compliments to
the Admiral, and reminded him that it was a token of his high
appreciation of the Admiral's brilliant services to the Royalist
cause.

The Court was infested with traitors who would first carry out their
vengeance against their rebellious compatriots and then cunningly lay
the blame on those under whose protection they were. One of their
judges informed Troubridge that he must have a Bishop to excommunicate
some of the traitor priests before he could have them executed, and
the fine sailor, who was sick of the crafty devils and the task he had
been allocated to carry out, replied, "For the love of God hang the
damned rascals first, and then let the Bishop deal with them if he did
not think hanging was a sufficient degradation." Nothing in the annals
of history can surpass the effrontery of these intriguers, which
throws a lurid light on the class of administrators who associated
with the British nation and spilt the blood of the flower of our land
in bolstering up a government that was a disgrace and put all human
perfidy in the shade.

These allies of ours, who were joyously butchering and robbing each
other, demanded a British warship to take the priests to Palermo, so
that they might be degraded in a proper, Christian fashion and then
brought to Naples for execution. Troubridge was audaciously requested
to appoint a hangman (it may be he was asked to combine this with his
other naval duties), and knowing the fine sense of noble dignity in
the average sailor, we can easily imagine the flow of adjectives that
accompanied the refusal, and how he would relate the outrage to which
he had been subjected in quarterdeck language, that need not be here
repeated, to his superior officer, Admiral Nelson, who must have felt
the degradation of being selected to carry out as dirty a piece of
work as ever devolved upon a public servant. To fight for his King and
country was the joy of his soul, but to be selected as wet-nurse to
the kingdom of Naples and the dignitaries that were at the head of it
would have been an unbearable insult to his sense of proportion had it
not been for the fulsome flattery, to which he was so susceptible,
which was adroitly administered by the ladies of the Court, headed by
the Queen and supplemented by the wife of Sir William Hamilton.

There is always some fatal weakness about a great man that lures him
into littleness, and this was an overwhelming tragedy in Nelson's
career. The approbation of men was gratefully received and even asked
for, but the adoration of women reduced him to helplessness. He was
drugged by it, and the stronger the doses, the more efficacious they
were. They nullified the vision of the unwholesome task he was set to
carry out until his whole being revolted against the indignity of it,
when he would pour out his wrath to Lady Hamilton as he did at the
time when Troubridge would report to him his own trials. No doubt this
caused him to realize the chaotic condition of public affairs, for he
writes to the lady that "politics are hateful to him, and that
Ministers of Kings are the greatest scoundrels that ever lived." The
King of Naples is, he suspects, to be superseded by a prince who has
married a Russian Archduchess. This, presumably, had been arranged by
the "great political scoundrels." He stands loyally by Ferdinand, but
soon all the work of that part of his life that gave him socially so
much pleasure and professionally so much misery is to be left for
evermore, and his great talents used in other and higher spheres.

He had retaken Naples from the French, who had set up the Parthenopean
Republic in 1799, and placed the tyrant King on his throne again;
after a few more chequered years a treaty of neutrality was signed
between France and Naples, which was treacherously broken by Naples.
Ferdinand had to fly to Sicily, the French troops entered the capital,
and Bonaparte, who had been marching from one victory to another,
cleared out deep-rooted abuses and introduced reforms wherever he
could. He had become the terror and the enemy of the misgoverning
monarchs of that period, and the French nation had proclaimed him
Emperor in 1804. He placed his brother Joseph on the throne of Naples
in February 1806; Joseph ruled with marked moderation and
distinction, sweeping away much of the foul canker of corruption and
introducing many beneficent reforms during his two years of kingship.
He then, much against his own wishes, became King of Spain, and was
succeeded by his brother-in-law, Prince Joachim Murat, the dashing
cavalry officer, whose decorative exterior awed friend and foe, and
helped to win many a battle. His reign lasted from 1808 until 1815,
and was no less distinguished than that of Joseph's. The fall of the
Napoleonic régime was followed by the fall of Murat, and the
despicable and treacherous Ferdinand became again the king, and
brought back with him the same tyrannical habits that had made his
previous rule so disastrous to the kingdom and to himself. No
whitewasher, however brilliant and ingenious, can ever wipe out the
fatal action of the British Government in embarking on so
ill-conceived a policy as that of supporting the existence of a
bloodsucking government, composed of a miscreant ruling class headed
by an ignoble king, all living on the misery and blood of a
semi-civilized population. It is a nauseous piece of history, with
which, under sagacious administration, we should never have been
connected.

The main idea was to humble the pride of France, that thenceforth
there might be peace in Europe. The Neapolitan revolutionists believed
that the French intention was to set up a free government and deliver
them from an unbearable despotism. Quite naturally, the Court took an
opposite view in believing that it foreshadowed deportation, so they
lost no time in proclaiming it to be conquest and merciless plunder.
Nelson urged the vacillating King to advance against the French, to
trust in God's blessing being bestowed upon him, his army, and his
cause, and to die like a hero, sword in hand, or lose his throne. The
King, always dauntless in the absence of danger, replied that he would
do this, trusting in God and Nelson. His Majesty, in tickling the
Admiral's susceptible spot by associating his name with that of the
Deity, doubtless made a good shot, and had Nelson's sense of humour
been equal to his vanity, he might not have received the oily
compliment with such delightful complacency.

We can imagine the scorn with which Troubridge would have received the
potentate's reply had he given the same advice as Nelson. It is highly
probable that had it been given on the quarterdeck of his ship, the
King would have been treated to a vocabulary that would have impressed
him with the necessity of scrambling quickly over the side. Nelson, it
is stated, turned the French out of Naples, and they were subsequently
overpowered by a plan put in force by Nelson and Troubridge, and
carried into effect by men from the fleet. Captain Hallowell was
ordered to proceed to Civita Vecchia and Castle St. Angelo to offer
terms of capitulation. He reported the position to Troubridge, who
ordered a squadron in command of Captain Louis to proceed and enforce
the terms. The French, on the other hand, offered terms, but
Troubridge, like Drake on another occasion, said that he had no time
to parley, that they must agree to his terms or fight. The French
Ambassador at Rome argued that the Roman territory belonged to the
French by conquest, and the British commander adroitly replied "that
it was his by reconquest." The inevitable alternative was
impressive--capitulation. This was arranged, and the Roman States came
under the control of the victors. Captain Louis proceeded in his
cutter up the Tiber and planted the British colours at Rome, becoming
its governor for a brief time. The naval men had carried out, by
clever strategy and pluck, an enterprise which Sir James Erskine
declined to undertake because of the insurmountable difficulties he
persisted in seeing. General Mack was at the head of about 30,000
Neapolitan troops, said to be the finest in Europe. This, however, did
not prevent them from being annihilated by 15,000 French, when General
Championnet evacuated Rome. The King entered with all the swagger of
an Oriental potentate. The Neapolitans followed the French to
Castellana, and when the latter faced up to them they stampeded in
disordered panic. Some were wounded, but few were killed, and the
King, forgetting in his fright his pledged undertaking to go forth
trusting in "God and Nelson," fled in advance of his valiant soldiers
to the capital, where they all arrived in breathless confusion.
General Mack had been introduced to Nelson by the King and Queen, the
latter exhorting him to be on land what the Admiral had been on sea.

Nelson seems to have formed an adverse opinion of Mack, who was
extolled by the Court as the military genius who was to deliver Europe
from the thraldom of the French. He had expressed the view that the
King and Queen's incomparable general "could not move without five
carriages," and that _he_ "had formed his opinion" of him, which was
tantamount to saying that Mack was both a coward and a traitor.
Perhaps it was undue consideration for the feelings of Caroline,
sister to the late Marie Antoinette, that caused him to restrain his
boiling rage against this crew of reptiles, who had sold every cause
that was entrusted to their protection.

Nelson was infatuated with the charms of Caroline, and as this astute
lady knew how to handle him in the interests of the Neapolitan Court,
he reciprocated her patronage by overlooking misdeeds that would,
under different circumstances, have justified him in blowing swarms of
her noble subjects out of existence. "I declare to God," he writes,
"my whole study is how to best meet the approbation of the Queen." An
open door and hearty reception was always awaiting their Majesties of
Sicily on board Nelson's flagship when they found it necessary to fly
from the wrath of their downtrodden subjects or the aggressive
invasions of the French troops. The anxiety of Nelson in conveying
them to their Sicilian retreat was doubly increased by the vast
treasure they never neglected to take with them, and neither the
sources from which it came nor the means of spending it gave trouble
to their consciences. The British Government, always generous with
other person's money, fed these insufferable royal personages by
bleeding the life's blood out of the British public, though it is
fair to say that the Government did not carry out to the full the
benevolent suggestions Nelson consistently urged in their behalf. "His
heart was always breaking" at some act of parsimony on the part of the
Government in so tardily giving that which he pleaded was an urgent
necessity for them to have. He frankly avowed that he would prefer to
resign if any distinction were to be drawn between loyalty to his
rightful sovereign and that of his Sicilian Majesty, who was the
faithful ally of his King. The solemn audacity of this statement
reveals a mind so far fallen to pieces by infatuation that it has lost
the power of discrimination.

It will be remembered that this gracious ally promised Nelson that he
would go forth at the head of his troops and conquer or die, and then
scampered off in front of his army through Rome to Naples, and, after
a few days' concealment from the mob, secretly bundled into boats with
his retinue on a stormy night of great peril, embarked on the
Admiral's ship, and sailed for Palermo.

Lady Hamilton is credited with planning (with heroic skill) means by
which the Royal Family could be taken to the shore, where Nelson was
to receive and convoy them in barges to the _Vanguard_. Lady Hamilton
had explored a subterranean passage which led from the palace to the
beach, and pronounced it a fairly safe and possible means of exit. The
plan apparently succeeded, and the royal party, after a few days'
precautionary stay in the Bay of Naples, were conveyed in safety to
Palermo, notwithstanding the hurricane that was encountered and only
weathered by a perfection of seamanship that was unequalled in our
naval and merchant services at that period of our trying history. The
voyage was not made without tragedy, for the youngest of the princes
became ill, and as it is always inevitable to attach a heroine to
circumstances that are sensational (when there is one at hand), their
Majesties in their grief fixed on her who had braved the perils of
investigating the possibilities of the subterranean tunnel which had
proved a safe though hazardous passage for the conveyance of
themselves and their vast treasure. Nor do they appear to have been
unmindful of her devotion to themselves during the storm, which was
the severest that Nelson said he had ever experienced--though this is
a platitude, as sailors are always prone to regard the last storm as
the most terrific of all! But that it was severe there can be no
doubt. We may be assured that the royal parents were not in a
condition to give succour to their stricken son, so he was vouchsafed
to pass beyond the veil in the arms of Lady Hamilton, who had bravely
defied the tempest and behaved with a compassion that must always
stand to her credit.

They arrived at Palermo the day after the young Prince's death, and
soon settled down to their gambling and other pleasures in which
Nelson, as already stated, was involved. Troubridge, with touching
fidelity, pleads with him to shun the temptations by which he is
beset. "I dread, my Lord," he says, "all the feasting, etc., at
Palermo. I am sure your health will be hurt. If so, all their saints
will be damned by the Navy"; and then he goes on to say, "The King
would be better employed digesting a good Government; everything gives
way to their pleasures. The money spent at Palermo gives discontent
here; fifty thousand people are unemployed, trade discouraged,
manufactures at a stand. It is the interest of many here to keep the
King away; they all dread reform."[13] Troubridge was wellnigh driven
to distraction by the terrible straits he was put to at Naples. The
people were faced with the ravages of famine. Already there were
scenes of unspeakable misery. His appeals to the Sicilian Court to
send immediate relief was ignored. Nelson, to whom he had appealed,
was absorbed in his attentions to Lady Hamilton, and refused to see
the vicious indifference of the Court, who were hemmed round with a
set of knaves and vagabonds, if that be not too moderate a term to use
of them. Troubridge beseeches him to come to the rescue in the
following terms:--

    My Lord, we are dying off fast for want. I learn that Sir
    William Hamilton says Prince Luzzi refused corn, some time ago,
    and Sir William does not think it worth while making another
    application. If that be the case, I wish he commanded this
    distressing scene, instead of me. Puglia had an immense harvest:
    near thirty sail left Messina, before I did, to load corn. Will
    they let us have any? If not, a short time will decide the
    business. The German interest prevails. I wish I was at your
    Lordship's elbow for an hour. All, all, will be thrown on you: I
    will parry the blow as much as in my power; I foresee much
    mischief brewing. God bless your Lordship! I am miserable, I
    cannot assist your operations more. Many happy returns of the
    day to you (it was the first of the New Year). I never spent so
    miserable a one. I am not very tender-hearted, but really the
    distress here would even move a Neapolitan.

Shortly after he writes, again pouring out fresh woes:--

    I have this day saved thirty thousand people from starvation;
    but with this day my ability ceases. As the Government are bent
    on starving us, I see no alternative but to leave these poor
    people to perish, without our being witness of their distress. I
    curse the day I ever served the Neapolitan Government. We have
    characters, my Lord, to lose; these people have none. Do not
    suffer their infamous conduct to fall on us. Our country is
    just, but severe. Such is the fever of my brain this minute,
    that I assure you, on my honour, if the Palermo traitors were
    here, I would shoot them first, and then myself. Girgenti is
    full of corn; the money is ready to pay for it; we do not ask it
    as a gift. Oh! could you see the horrid distress I daily
    experience, something would be done. Some engine is at work
    against us at Naples, and I believe I hit on the proper person.
    If you complain, he will be immediately promoted, agreeably to
    the Neapolitan custom. All I write to is known at the Queen's.
    For my own part, I look upon the Neapolitans as the worst of
    intriguing enemies; every hour shows me their infamy and
    duplicity. I pray your Lordship be cautious; your honest open
    manner of acting will be made a handle of. When I see you and
    tell you of their infamous tricks, you will be as much surprised
    as I am. The whole will fall on you.

Nelson must have known the position set forth in this feverish
communication from a man whose judgment and affection he had no reason
to suspect. It is a deplorable example of infatuation that every one
who knew the Court and the rascals that surrounded it was aware of its
shameless tricks except Nelson himself. They protested that they had
withdrawn the restrictions on the exportation of corn so far as they
could, and he swallowed their lies with the simplicity of a child. He
must have been the victim of mesmeric influence not to see through
their vile knavery in pleading poverty when they were asked to carry
out an act of common humanity. All very well for him to groan over
what he had to endure, and to complain that the burden of it had
broken his spirit! Troubridge diagnosed the malady when he implored
Nelson to relinquish the infatuation which was leading him into
trouble. Why, instead of spending his time with Lady Hamilton and
fawning over the King and Queen, did he leave the right thing to be
done by Captain Ball (who took the bull by the horns)? All very well
for him to pour out his wrath to the Duke of Clarence, that his
"constant thought was down, down with the damned French villains"! and
that his "blood boiled at the name of a Frenchman"! But except that we
were at war with the French, were they in any degree such "damned
villains" as the Neapolitans and the whole crew of Court knaves, with
whom he was so blindly enamoured, who were, in reality, ready to sell
their own country and his to the French whenever they saw it was to
their material advantage to do so?

Captain Ball did not waste time in the use of adjectives about the
French and the daily "anxieties" that bore so heavily on himself and
others, "breaking his heart." He gave peremptory orders to his first
lieutenant to proceed off Messina and seize the ships that were lying
there loaded with corn, and bring them to Malta. He defied the
abominable Court of Sicily and their edicts prohibiting exportation,
and his instructions were carried out. He awaited the consequences to
himself with a manly consciousness that humanity must take precedence
of orders dictated by a sentimental fear lest the feelings of a set of
cowardly despots should be hurt. This single act of real courage and
decision saved the lives of thousands of starving people, and
prevented the siege from being removed. The Court of Naples dared not
utter a word of condemnation against Captain Ball, but the Governor of
Malta became the object of their nervous enmity, which they dare not
put into practice.

Lord Minto, many years after the events of which I am writing, said
of Nelson, for whom he had an affectionate regard, that "he was in
many points a really great man, but in others he was a baby." No one
who has studied his career will ever doubt his greatness, but his
peevish childishness, even when he was responsible for the carrying
out of great deeds that did not come so quickly as his eager spirit
craved, ofttimes tried the patience of those who set high value on his
matchless talents and his otherwise lovable disposition. He was never
known to take credit to himself that was due to others, but, like most
great men, he took for granted that all those above or below him in
rank and station should be subordinate to his whims and actions. He
could only accommodate himself to being subordinate to his King, the
King and Queen of Naples, and to the exhilarating influence of Lady
Hamilton. Almost immediately after the seizure of the grain-laden
ships, Nelson sailed for Malta, and had the good fortune to sight a
French squadron, the _Généreux_, three frigates, and a corvette; after
an exciting and hard chase, he came up to them, knocked their masts
over the side, and captured the _Généreux_ and a frigate.


X

Nelson hit on a simple though ingenious plan that was frequently
adopted in subsequent years by captains in the merchant service when
racing, which always created excitement amongst the crew; the order
was given to knock the wedges out of the deck coamings, ease the
strain off the fore and aft stays, and when it was judicious to do it
the pinch on the main rigging was also eased to give the masts more
play. The windjammer seamen knew when this order was given that they
were in for a time of "cracking on," and really enjoyed both the sport
and the risk that it involved, even in the hands of skilful
commanders. By this means the speed was always increased, and it was
quite a common practice on tea-clippers, Australian passenger vessels,
and American packets. The commander rarely left the quarterdeck on
those occasions, unless his officers were really first-class men. The
writer has often attained successful results when racing by putting
invigorating life into his ship by these old-time methods which were
handed down to each generation of sailors. No class of seamen knew
more dainty tricks in manipulating sails and rigging than those who
manned the slave-runner, the smuggler, and the pirate schooner. Their
vessels were designed for speed, but ofttimes when they were in a
tight place they were saved from being destroyed by the superb
nautical dodges which they alone knew so well how and when to put in
use so that their pursuers might be outwitted and outdistanced. It is
more than probable that the _Généreux_ would have got away had Nelson
not been a past-master in all kinds of dodges to make his ship sail
faster. He knew that some of the French ships were notoriously equal
to the British in sailing qualities, but he left nothing to chance.
Every drop of water was ordered to be pumped out of the hold; the
wedges were removed from the masts' coaming; the stays slackened;
butts of water were hung on them; hammocks were piped down; every
available sail was crowded on to her; the most reliable quartermasters
were stationed at the wheel. The _Foudroyant_ is gaining--she draws
ahead. The stump of the "heaven-born" Admiral's right arm is working
with agitation as his ship takes the lead. It is now all up with the
_Généreux_. She surrenders after a terrific, devastating duel, and
Nelson avows that had he acted according to Lord Keith's instead of
his own strategy, she would never have been taken. The _Guillaume
Tell_ had been locked up in Malta Harbour for some time, and the
commander decided to run the gauntlet, his reason being, it is stated,
to relieve the starving garrison from having to feed his ship's
company, which consisted of from 1,000 to 1,200 men. She was
intercepted, engaged, and ultimately taken by the _Foudroyant_,
_Lion_, and _Penelope_ after all her masts had been shot away. The
thrilling story of this sea battle takes high rank in naval warfare.
The French ship was fought with the fury of courage and genius that
Nelson himself could not have failed to admire. The _Penelope_ and
_Lion_ had been mauled off when the _Foudroyant_ came on the scene and
shot away her main and mizzen masts, when a French sailor, like Jack
Crawford of Sunderland at the battle of Camperdown, nailed the ensign
to the stump of the mizzen mast. The foremast was the only mast now
remaining, and it was soon sent flying over the side by the terrific
firing from the British ship. She then took her colours down, ceased
firing, and became the prize of the heroes who had fought and
conquered. Nelson might and ought to have had the glory of taking the
last of the Nile fleet, had he not allowed a perverse spirit to rule
his will. He nursed and inflamed his imagination against Lord Keith
being put over him, until that fine zeal that was so natural to him
slackened. He writes to Hamilton that his "situation is irksome."
"Lord Keith is commander-in-chief, and he (Nelson) has not been kindly
treated." He tells Spencer that he has written to Lord Keith, asking
for permission to come to England, when he (the First Lord) will "see
a broken-hearted man," and that his "spirit cannot submit to it." The
Admiralty may have been inspired to place Lord Keith in supreme
command owing to Nelson's association with the Court party at Palermo
and the growing scandal attached to it. But in that case they should
have frankly told him that they feared the effect his dallying at
Palermo might have on the service in many different ways.

Troubridge and Captain Ball urged him with all the sincerity of
devotion not to return to Sicily, but to remain at Malta, and sign the
capitulation which was near at hand; but they could not alter his
resolve to leave the station, which Troubridge said was due to the
passion of infatuation and not to illness, which he had ascribed as
the reason. Nelson tried the patience of the First Lord (who was his
friend) so sorely that he wrote him a private letter which was couched
in gentle though, in parts, cutting reproaches. He obviously believed
that the plea of ill-health was groundless, or at all events not
sufficiently serious to justify him giving up. He very fairly states
that he is quite convinced that he will be more likely to recover his
health in England than by an inactive stay at the Court of Sicily,
however pleasing the gratitude shown him for the services he has
rendered may be, and that no gratitude from that Court can be too
great in view of the service he had bestowed upon it. Lord Minto, who
was Ambassador at Vienna, says he has letters from Nelson and Lady
Hamilton which do not make it clear whether he will go home or not. He
hopes he will not for his own sake, for he wants him to take Malta
first; and continues, "He does not seem conscious of the sort of
discredit he has fallen into, or the cause of it, for he still writes,
not wisely, about Lady Hamilton and all that," and then generously
states, "But it is hard to condemn and use ill a hero, as he is in his
own element, for being foolish about a woman who has art enough to
make fools of many wiser than an Admiral."

It is hardly possible to doubt that Nelson felt keenly mortified at
losing the opportunity of personally taking the _Guillaume Tell_; but
whether he did or not, he managed to subdue all appearance of envy and
paid a high, sportsmanlike tribute to those who had earned the honour
He could not help flavouring it, however, with some words of
Nelsonian self-approbation. He said, "He gloried in them, for they
were his children, they served in his school, and all of them,
including himself, caught their professional zeal and fire from the
great and good Earl St. Vincent." Then he goes on to say that it is a
great happiness to have the Nile fleet all taken under his orders and
regulations. He slyly claimed the glory of training and inspiring,
though he had deprived himself of added fame by nourishing a morose
feeling of jealousy against Lord Keith, who had been sent out after a
few months' leave to take up his position as commander-in-chief. Owing
to his absence, Nelson had acted in that capacity, and he could not
bear the thought of being superseded by his old chief. In fact, Nelson
could not tolerate being placed in a secondary position by any one. As
I have already stated, he put Keith's authority at defiance and took
responsibilities upon himself, boasting that had they failed he would
have been "shot or broke."

After the capture of the _Généreux_ he struck, and wrote to Keith that
his health would not permit of his remaining at his post, that without
"rest he was done for," and that he could "no more stay fourteen days
longer on the station than fourteen years." At the same time, Captain
Ball wrote to Lady Hamilton that "he had dined with him, and that he
was in good health," that he did not think a short stay would do his
health harm, and that "he would not urge it, were it not that he and
Troubridge wished him to have the honour of the French ships and the
French garrison surrender to him." Nelson's vision and good judgment
at this time must have been totally at fault, and his general attitude
emphasizes the splendid forbearance of his amiable commander-in-chief
and distinguished subordinates who were the very cream of the Navy.
I wonder what would have happened to any of the other brilliant
commanders in the Royal Navy if any of them had, like Nelson,
refused to obey the orders of the commander-in-chief and left his
post off Malta, which was being closely besieged and the garrison
daily expected to capitulate! Supposing Nelson had been the
commander-in-chief and his second in command had acted as he did
towards Lord Keith, there _would_ have been wigs on the green! The
insubordinate officer would have been promptly court-martialled and
hung at the yardarm like the Neapolitan Admiral, Francesco Caracciolo,
or treated like the Hon. Admiral John Byng, who was tried for neglect
of duty in an engagement off Minorca in 1756, and condemned for
committing an error of judgment and shot aboard the _Monarch_ at
Spithead in 1757. Nelson was a stern disciplinarian, who could never
brook being under discipline himself. Nor was he ever a day without a
grievance of one kind or another. It must have been a happy
deliverance to Keith when he heard the last of him in the
Mediterranean, for his mental capacity at this particular stage of his
history was quite defective. No doubt Lady Hamilton and the Queen
jabbered into his ears the injustice of the wrongs imposed upon him.

After the battle of Marengo the whole of Northern Italy was given up
to the French by convention signed by General Milas. The British
Commander-in-Chief proceeded to Leghorn with the fugitives, to be
bored, as he fretfully declared, "by Nelson craving permission to take
the Queen to Palermo, and the prince and princesses to all parts of
the world." The Queen was panic-stricken at the French successes, and
besought him to allow her to sail in the _Foudroyant_; but Keith could
not be prevailed upon to release any of his ships for such a purpose,
notwithstanding Nelson's supplications and her flow of tears. He told
Nelson that the royal lady should get off to Vienna as quickly as she
could and abandon the idea of Palermo, supplementing his refusal to
employ the _Foudroyant_ in any such way. He would only allow a frigate
to escort her own frigates to Trieste. Lady Minto wrote to her sister
from Florence that Keith told the Queen that "Lady Hamilton had had
command of the fleet long enough," and then she adds, "The Queen is
very ill with a sort of convulsive fit, and Nelson is staying to nurse
her, and does not intend going home until he has escorted her back to
Palermo. His zeal for the public service," she continues, "seems
entirely lost in his love and vanity, and they all sit and flatter
each other all day long."

Nelson, steady in his attachment to the Queen declared that he would
see her through and then continue his journey home with the Hamiltons.
They all left Leghorn together, arrived at Florence safely, were
taken from Ancona to Trieste on two Russian frigates, and landed at
Trieste. The Queen of Sicily accompanied them to Vienna, and Nelson
and the Hamiltons continued their triumphant journey through Germany
to Hamburg. His association with the Court of Naples was now at an
end, and his real friends, believing that it had corrupted and sapped
his better nature, were glad of it. His mind at this time was filled
with delusions about his future. He repeatedly declared that he would
never serve again, and from a mixture of motives he acquired happiness
in the belief that he would avenge his keenly-felt wrongs by achieving
oblivion. The idea that fate held in store for him a higher and a
sterner destiny never occurred to him, and he little realized that he
would soon be removed from a sphere where his presence would be no
longer needed. He was, in fact, combating the very destiny he had so
often sought in which he would achieve immortal glory.


XI

The benighted policy of keeping in power a mawkish Sicilian Court,
saturated with the incurable vices of cowardice, falsehood,
dishonesty, and treachery, failed; and the Government of the day was
saddled with the crime of squandering human life, wealth, and energy
without receiving any commensurate return. If it was in the national
interest to involve the country in war with France, it could have
been carried on with greater credit and effect by not undertaking the
hopeless task of bolstering up a Court and a people that were openly
described by our own people who were sent to fight for them as "odious
damned cowards and villains." We had no _real_ grounds of quarrel with
France nor with her rulers. The Revolution was their affair, and was
no concern of ours, except in so far as it might harmfully reflect on
us, and of this there was no likelihood if we left them alone. The
plea of taking the balance of power under our benevolent care was a
sickly exhibition of statesmanship, and the assumption of electing
ourselves guardians of the rights of small nations mere cant. It was,
in fact, the canker of jealousy and hatred on the part of the
reactionary forces against a man, a principle, and a people.

Had those who governed this country then held aloof from the imbroglio
created by the French Revolution, observed a watchful, conciliatory
spirit of neutrality towards the French Government, and allowed the
Continental Powers to adjust their own differences, the conditions of
human existence and the hurtful administration of autocratic
governments would have been reconstituted, and the world would have
been the better for it; instead of which we helped to impose on Europe
twenty years of slaughter and devastation. Our dismal, plutocratic
rulers, with solemn enthusiasm, plunged England with all her power and
influence on the side of Prussia and her continental allies, and, in
conjunction with the Holy Alliance, pledged themselves never to lay
down arms until France was mutilated and the master-mind which ruled
her beaten and dethroned. Their task was long, costly, and gruesome.
What a ghastly legacy those aggressively righteous champions of
international rights have bequeathed to the world! But for their folly
and frenzy we should not be engaged in a European war to-day. Poor
Napoleon! He foreshadowed and used his gigantic genius to prevent it;
now the recoil has come. There are always more flies caught by treacle
than by vinegar, a policy quite as efficacious in preventing
international quarrels as it is in the smaller affairs of our
existence, provided the law which governs the fitness of things is
well defined.

Had we approached Napoleon in a friendly spirit and on equal terms,
without haughty condescension, he would have reciprocated our
cordiality and put proper value on our friendship. By wisdom and tact
the duration of Napoleon's wars would have been vastly shortened, and
both nations would have been saved from the errors that were
committed. We did not do this, and we are now reaping the consequence.
It is hardly to be expected that if hostility be shown towards an
individual or a nation either will mildly submit to it. Who can
estimate the passionate resentment of an emotional people at Nelson's
constant declamatory outbursts against the French national character,
and the effect it had throughout France?

An affront to a nation, even though it is made by a person in a
subordinate position, may bring about far-reaching trouble. Reverse
the position of the traducer of a prominent man or his nation, and it
will be easy to arrive at a correct conclusion as to the temper that
would be aroused, say, in this country. We know that during a war
passions are let loose and charges made by the combatants against each
other which are usually exaggerated, but one thing is certain, that
our soldiers and sailors have always had the well-deserved reputation
of being the cleanest fighters in the world. There have never been
finer examples of this than during the present war. But in justice to
ourselves and to the French during the Napoleonic wars, I think it was
grossly impolitic to engender vindictiveness by unjustifiable
acrimony. Up to the time that Nelson left the Mediterranean for
England, except for the brilliant successes of the Nile and the
equally brilliant capture of the balance of the French Mediterranean
fleet, and subsequently the capitulation of Malta on the 5th
September, 1800, our share in the war was an exhausting and fruitless
failure.

The responsibility for this clearly lies at the door of the Government
who planned it, and in no way attaches to Nelson and his coadjutors,
whose naval and also shore exploits could not be excelled. First, it
was a blink-eyed policy that plunged us into the war at all; and
secondly, it was the height of human folly to waste our resources in
the erroneous belief that the highly trained military men of France
could be permanently subjugated in the Mediterranean by the cowardly,
treacherous villains of which the Roman States armies and Governments
were composed. History is not altogether faithful to the truth in its
honeyed records of the ministerial pashas who tranquilly increased the
national debt, inflicted unspeakable horrors on the population, and
smirched our dignity by entering into a costly bond of brotherhood
with an inveterate swarm of hired bloodsucking weasels. Such,
forsooth! was the mental condition of the wooden souls who managed the
nation's affairs, that they allowed Nelson to add another blot to our
national history escutcheon by taking Ferdinand Bourbon's throne under
his protection. It is true that Ferdinand "did not wish that his
benefactor's name should alone descend with honour to posterity," or
that he should "appear ungrateful." So the Admiral was handsomely
rewarded by being presented with the Dukedom of Bronte and a
diamond-hilted sword which had been given to the King by his father
when he became Sicilian King. It would be nonsense even to suspect
Nelson of accepting either gifts or titles as a bribe to sacrifice any
interest that was British.

Nelson's devotion to the Court did not express itself by seeking
material recompense for the services bestowed on their Sicilian
Majesties. There were various reasons for his elaborate and silly
attentions. First, his range of instructions were wide in a naval
sense; second, his personal attachment to the King and his Consort
(especially his Consort), for reasons unnecessary to refer to again,
became a growing fascination and a ridiculous craze. His fanatical
expressions of dislike to the French are merely a Nelsonian way
of conveying to the world that the existence of so dangerous a
race should be permissive under strictly regulated conditions.
He had a solemn belief in his own superiority and that of his
fellow-countrymen. All the rest were to him mere human scrap, and his
collection of epithets for them was large and varied. His Mogul air in
the presence of aliens was traditionally seamanlike. If they failed
to shudder under his stern look and gleaming eyes, it affected
him with displeasure and contempt. The Neapolitans were fulsomely
accommodating, though Nelson, except from the Court party and a few
nobles, does not appear to have attached much value to their servile
tokens of appreciation. It cannot be said that either Nelson, his
Government, or his country were in any way rewarded by the sacrifices
made ostensibly in the interests of human rights. Under Ferdinand
Bourbon, the Neapolitan States and Sicily had no settled government.
He was a contemptible poltroon, whose throne was supported for years
by British money, men, and ships, and even with our strong support; he
was alternately fleeing to Sicily and returning again under the
formidable protection of British frigates, and, like all perfidious
cowards, his short intervals of government were distinguished by a
despotism that soon made it necessary for him to fly from the feelings
of vengeance he had called out.

Not even the power of Great Britain could prevent the kingdom of
Naples from passing from one vicissitude into another. The French took
possession of it in January 1799, and established what they called the
Parthenopean Republic. Nelson helped to retake it in June of the same
year, and put the itinerant King on the throne. The Neapolitans
occupied Rome on the 30th September, 1799. In October 1805 a treaty of
neutrality between France and Naples was carried into effect.
Ferdinand fled to Sicily again on the 23rd January of the next year,
when the master-mind came to close quarters and put an end, as I have
previously stated, to Ferdinand's kingship and tyrannical rule by
placing his brother Joseph on the throne; two years later Joseph
became King of Spain, and his brother-in-law, Joachim Murat, succeeded
him as ruler of Naples. The Neapolitans were never better governed
than during the reign of these two kings. Many wise laws were made and
enforced by a just and rigid discipline. Incompetent, weak despotism
had disappeared, and any attempt at licence was promptly subdued. The
people were put through a course of transforming education, and
gradually became law-abiding citizens. Even then, methods of carrying
on commerce took a marked change for the better, and predatory habits
were relaxed into comparative honesty, not, it may be supposed, from
virtue, but from fear of the inevitable, harsh consequences. The
public, in a general way, quickly distinguish between a strong,
capable ruler and a weak, incompetent one; and no matter how
indulgent the latter may be, they prefer the strong wholesome-minded
man to the mediocrity.

Ferdinand had none of the qualities that are essential to a man
occupying a position of authority. When the French came to take over
the government of Naples, he flew, as usual, to Sicily, and under the
continuous protection of British men-of-war was with great difficulty
kept reigning there until the end of war, when he was again put on the
throne of Naples in 1815, and forthwith commenced again his rule of
incompetency and despotism, reversing the beneficent rule of his two
able predecessors. The old reprobate died on the 4th January, 1825,
having reigned off and on for sixty-five years, largely owing to the
indulgent and costly support of the British Government.

Caroline died on the 7th September, 1814, and to her abiding credit
she condemned the action of the Court of Vienna for severing the bond
of union between the Emperor Napoleon and her granddaughter, Marie
Louise. She declared vehemently that it was the duty of the latter to
break the prohibition by assuming disguise and tie her bed-sheets
together and lower herself out of the window, and make her way
quickly, in face of all obstacles, to where her husband was. Marie
Louise was not a lady of unyielding morals, and at that particular
time her Hapsburg, licentious mind was not centred on the misfortunes
of her husband, but on Neipperg, who was employed to seduce her.
Caroline told Baron Claude François de Meneval, Napoleon's private
secretary, that she had reason at one time to dislike the Emperor, but
now that adversity had come to him, she forgot the past.

Had this same spirit of rightness and wisdom been adopted by Marie
Louise's father and his allies, as was so nobly advocated by the
sister of Marie Antoinette, there would have been a clean sheet in
history about them, though it is obvious in many quarters that the
historians have extended all the arts of ambiguity and delusion to
make them appear flawless benefactors. Therefore one has to take all
the circumstances handed down from many varied sources, reliable and
unreliable, and after mature thought form conclusions as one's
judgment may direct as to the merits and demerits of every phase that
is recorded. Hence exhaustive research and long-reasoned views lead me
definitely to the conclusion that there is not much that we can put to
the credit of either their wisdom or humanity. My plain opinion is
that they acted ferociously, and although always in the name of the
Son of God, that can never absolve them from the dark deeds that stand
to their names. Nor is it altogether improbable that all the nations
that were concerned in the dreadful assassination are now paying the
natural penalty of their guilt. Natural laws have a curious roundabout
way of paying back old scores, though the tragic retribution has to be
borne more often than not by the innocent descendants of those who
have, in the name of the Deity, violated them.

The Duke of Thunder was proud of the Sicilian meaning of his title,
and so were his sailors, who loved the thrilling effect of anything
that conveyed the idea of being associated with a formidable power
that devastated every other force that stood in its way. For the most
part, Nelson's sailors had great faith in his naval genius. He had led
them many times to victory, and they did not forget the glory that
attached to themselves. He planned the strategy, but it was they that
fought and won the battles. The Duke of Thunder was a fine title to
fight under. A name has frequently done more damage to a foe than
glittering bayonets. But Nelson in no degree had the thunder element
in him, so far as we are able to judge by the descriptions given to us
of him. He was a dashing, courageous, scientific genius, gifted with
natural instincts, disciplinary wisdom, deplorable sentimentality, and
an artificial, revengeful spirit of hatred that probably became real
under the arbitrary circumstances of war, but, I should say, was
rarely prominent. His roaming attacks on the French were probably used
more for effect, and had, we hope, only a superficial meaning. But be
that as it may, it detracts from the dignity of an officer occupying,
as he did, a distinguished position to use language and phrases such
as are common in the forecastle or on the quarterdeck of a sailing
merchantman in the early days before the introduction of steamers.
Here are a few quite amusing outbursts which do not produce the
impression of coming from a person known to fame as the Duke of
Thunder:--On the 1st October, 1801, the preliminaries of peace with
France were signed. When Nelson heard of it he thanked God, and went
on to say, "We lay down our arms, and are ready to take them up again
if the French are insolent." He declares there is no one in the world
more desirous of peace than he is, but that he would "burst sooner
than let any damned Frenchman know it." But it was too much for his
anti-French sentiments when he heard that their Ambassador's carriage
had been dragged by the London mob. He wrote to his medical man, and
asked if he could cure madness, for he had gone mad to learn "that our
damned scoundrels dragged a Frenchman's carriage." And he hoped
nevermore to be dragged by such a degenerate crowd; which was
exhibiting in a characteristic way his high opinion of himself. "Would
our ancestors have done it?" he asks, and then continues: "The
villains would have drawn Buonaparte if he had been able to get to
London to cut the king's head off." The writer has a definite opinion
that Bonaparte would have had a boisterous reception, and that it
might have cemented a friendship that would have been a blessing to
the tired world, and especially to the two warring nations.

The ruler of the French nation, in spite of Nelson's views, would have
made a better ally than enemy. But it often happens that nations, as
well as individuals, lose their psychological opportunity. And we will
risk a belief that if Nelson and Bonaparte met they would have found
an affinity between them that would have made the two men friends.
Southey says that the title "Duke of Thunder" is essentially
applicable to Nelson, but the writer has failed to find anything to
warrant such an opinion.

Nelson's professional pride was for ever being needlessly hurt by
Admiralty tactlessness. He had good reason on many occasions to take
offence at their clumsiness. One of numerous grievances was Sir Sydney
Smith being, to all appearances, put over him. He wrote to Lord St.
Vincent, and reminded him that he was a man, and that it was
impossible for him to serve in the Mediterranean under a junior
officer. St. Vincent prevailed on him not to resign, but Sir Sydney
Smith wished to carry out a policy towards the French in Egypt which
Nelson hotly disapproved, and he commands him on no account to permit
a single Frenchman to leave the country. He considered it would be
madness to permit a band of thieves to return to Europe. "To Egypt,"
he says, "they went of their own accord, and they shall remain there
while he commanded the squadron. Never will he consent to the return
of one ship or Frenchman. I wish them to perish in Egypt, and give an
awful lesson to the world of the justice of the Almighty." It will be
observed how characteristically sailorly he is in his leanings on
Divine monopoly in punishing the "bloody Corsican" for his wickedness
in waging war against Britain. His profound belief was that the
Almighty presided over our destinies then, just as the German Kaiser
claims that He is presiding over his national affairs now; and, as I
have pointed out before, each of the belligerents calls upon Him in
beseeching reverence as a Divine compatriot, to give this Almighty
power to aid in demolishing their common foe, who has broken every law
of God and man. This form of blasphemy is as rampant now as it ever
was. It is not a hungry belief in God that gives the initial impulse
for human slaughter. It is a craving lust for the invention of all
that is devilish in expeditiously disposing of human life.

The international democracies who are devoting so much attention to
political ascendancy should distribute their power in a way that would
make it impossible for weak Governments, composed of mediocrities and
bellicose rulers of nations, to make war whenever their impertinent
ambitions are impressed with the sanguinary rage of conflict.

All wars mutilate civilization, and put back by many generations any
advance that may have been made in the interval between one butchery
and another. The working people of all nations could and should
combine to stop the manufacture of every implement of warfare, and
make it a treasonable offence for any ruler or Government again to
advocate war as a means of settling disputes. This law must of
necessity be binding upon all the Powers, big and little. What a
mockery this gospel of brotherhood has been in all ages! Is it an
ideal ambition to bring it about? Of course it is, but we cannot catch
the spirit of Christ and preach the gospel of pity, and commit hideous
murder at one and the same time! hence the impudence of expecting a
Divine benediction on warfare.

All sorts of public and private honours and testimonials were
conferred upon Nelson during his stay at Hamburg on his way home after
the mortifications caused by the elusive French fleet, Calabrian
brigands, and the alluring attractions of the Court of Naples and
Sicily. One hundred grenadiers, each six feet high, waited at table
when he was being banqueted. The owner of a Magdeburg hotel where he
stayed made money by setting up a ladder outside Nelson's sitting-room
and charging a fee for mounting it and peeping at the hero inside the
room. An aged wine merchant at Hamburg offered him through Lady
Hamilton six dozen bottles of Rhenish wine of the vintage of 1625. It
had been in his own possession for fifty years, and he hoped that some
of it would be allowed to flow with the blood of the immortal hero, as
it would then make the giver happy. Nelson shook hands with the old
man, and consented to receive six bottles, provided he would dine with
him next day. A dozen were sent, and Nelson put aside six, saying that
it was his hope to win half a dozen more victories, and that one
bottle would be drunk after each.

Another aged man, whose ideals were of a different and higher order,
came along. He was a German pastor who, at eighty years of age or
thereabouts, had travelled forty miles with the object of getting
Nelson to write his immortal, name in his Bible. The venerable
Lutheran prelate, with a grateful heart, asked to be allowed to
record his blessing and admiration for the gallant British Admiral by
stating to him, amongst other modestly selected phrases, that "he was
the Saviour of the Christian world." The pastor's fervent testimony of
his work and his mission touched Nelson on a tender spot. In his
rough-and-ready way, he believed in the efficacy of prayer, and he
knew when the old man, bowed down by age, parted from him that he
would be steadfast in his petitions to the Giver of all mercies that
he should be held in His holy keeping, body and soul. The story is an
example of fine healthy devotion, free from sickly cant, though the
logic of successfully squandering rich lives or even bravely
sacrificing your own (as every commander risks doing) is a mysterious
reason for the person who is successful in casting away human
lives--even though they be those of an enemy--having the title of "the
Saviour of the world" conferred upon him!

The writer's idea of how to establish and advance the Christian faith
is to keep out of war, and the best method of doing this is for the
electorate to choose men to govern who are highly gifted with
diplomatic genius. Nearly all wars are brought about through
incompetent negotiators, and the wastage of life and property in
carrying on a war is certainly to be attributed to men who are at the
head of affairs being mere politicians, without any faculty whatever
for carrying out great undertakings. They are simply mischievous
shadows, and merely excel as intriguers in putting good men out of
office and themselves in. It is the selection of men for the posts
they are eminently suited to fill that counts in any department of
life, but it is more manifestly important in affairs of Government.
For instance, nothing but disaster can follow if a man is made
Chancellor of the Exchequer who has no instinct for national finance,
and the same thing applies to a Foreign Secretary who has no knowledge
of or natural instinct for international diplomacy. At the same time,
an adroit commercial expert may be utterly useless in dealing with
matters of State that are affected by trade. The two positions are
wide apart, and are a business in themselves. The writer's view is
that to fill any department of State satisfactorily the head should
have both political and commercial training, combined with wholesome
instinct. I don't say that trade is altogether affected by the kind of
Government that is in power, but bad trade and bad government combined
make a terrific burden for any nation to carry.

Service men, in the main, measure and think always from a military or
naval point of view. Some of them have quite a genius for organizing
in matters concerning their different professions. Take the late Lord
Kitchener. In Army matters he was unequalled as an organizer but
abominably traduced. Then there is Lord Fisher, who easily heads
everybody connected with the Navy, as a great Admiral who can never be
deprived of the merit of being the creator of our modern fleet. He
combines with a matchless genius for control a fine organizing brain.
The politician, with his amateurish antics, deprived the British
Empire of the services of an outstanding figure that would have saved
us many lives and many ships, without taking into account the vast
quantity of merchandise and foodstuffs that have perished. It is not
by creating confusion that the best interest of the nation is served,
either in peace-time or during war. Those robust rhetoricians who
massacre level-headed government and substitute a system of make-shift
experiments during a great national crisis do a wicked public
disservice. I have no time to deal with these superior persons in
detail, but I cannot keep my thoughts from the terrible bitterness and
anguish their haphazard experiments may have caused. The destroying
force will eat into the very entrails of our national life if some
powerful resolute personality does not arise to put an end to the
hopeless extemporizing and contempt for sober, solid, orderly
administration. The truth is that, if a government or anything else is
wrongly conceived, natural laws will never help it to right itself,
and it ends in catastrophe. Such governments are inflicted on us from
time to time as a chastisement, it is said, for our national sins, and
the process of disintegration is deadly in its effects. The only
consoling feature of it is that history is repeating itself with
strange accuracy, as may be verified by a glance into the manuscripts
of Mr. Fortescue at Dropmore. Herein you will find many striking
resemblances between the constitution of the Government then and the
tribulation we are passing through at the present time. One important
event of that period has been avoided up to the present; none has
demanded a settlement of his differences by means of a duelling
contest, as did Castlereagh and Canning.[14] They had a coalition of
all the talents then as they presume to have now, though there has
been no real evidence of it, either in or out of Parliament.


XII

Poor Nelson had a terrible time with one and another of them, as they
had with him, if history may be relied on. His periodical defiances
and his contempt for his superiors is quite edifying. He laid down the
law like a bishop when his moods were in full play. The great naval,
commercial, and military figure to which Nelson comes nearest is
Drake, and the nearest to Nelson in versatility is Lord Fisher, who
must have had an engaging time with those who wished to assume
control of the Navy over his level head. I question whether any man
holding a high position in the British Navy, at any time, could
combine naval, military, and administrative genius, together with
sound common sense, as Nelson did. We have devoted so much attention
to the study of his naval accomplishments that many of his other
practical gifts have been overlooked. It is common belief, in civilian
circles at any rate, and there is good ground for it, that both the
naval and military men do not realize how much their existence depends
on a well-handled and judiciously treated mercantile marine. I have
too much regard for every phase of seafaring life to criticize it
unfairly, but, except on very rare occasions, I have found naval and
military men so profoundly absorbed in their own professions that they
do not trouble to regard anything else as being essential.

The present war will have revealed many things that were not thought
of in other days. One of Nelson's outstanding anxieties was lest any
harm should befall our commerce, and he protected it and our shipping
with fine vigilance and with scant support from the then Government,
which would not supply him with ships; this at times drove him to
expressions of despair. Privateering was more rampant then than it is
now, and the belligerents had great difficulty in enforcing neutrals
to observe neutrality. Indeed, the circumstances were such that it
became impossible to prevent leakage. The British Admiral was
continually protesting to the neutrals against the system of
smuggling and privateering, but it was hardly consistent, seeing that
we were obliged to make breaches of neutrality in order to get our
supplies. Small privateers, consisting sometimes of mere longboats,
infested every swatch and corner they could get into on the Spanish
shores, the Ionian Islands, the Barbary coast, the Balearic Islands,
and Sicily. We indicted France for enforcing subsidies from Spain,
compelling the Neapolitans to provide for her soldiers occupying
Neapolitan territory. We, on the other hand, were obliged to make use
of neutral ports for supplies required for the Gulf of Lyons fleet. It
was a curious position, and both France and England were parties to
the anomaly, and each accused the other of the impiety of it. The
British Admiral and his officers never lost an opportunity of
destroying the marauders when caught within neutral limits, and Nelson
never flinched from supporting his officers in the matter. "The
protection," he writes, "given to the enemies' privateers and rowboats
is extremely destructive of our commerce," and then he goes on to give
reasons why these vermin should be shot or captured.

He was driven frantic by the demands made for convoys by captains and
merchants, and his appeals to the Admiralty for more cruisers were
unheeded. He expresses himself strongly averse from allowing even fast
sailing vessels to make a passage unprotected. Perhaps no human mind
that has been given grave responsibilities to safeguard was ever
lacerated as was Nelson's in seeing that our commercial interest did
not suffer, and that on the seas he guarded a free and safe passage
should be assured to our shipping carrying food and other merchandise
to the mother-country. The responsibility of carrying out even this
special work in a satisfactory way was an amazing task, and no
evidence is on record that he left anything to chance. Results are an
eloquent answer to any doubts on that subject. In addition to policing
the seas, he had the anxiety of watching the tricky manoeuvres of the
French fleet, and planning for their interception and defeat should
they weaken in their elusive methods. Of course, they were playing
their own game, and had a right to, and it was for their opponents,
whom Nelson so well represented, to outwit and trap them into
fighting; but as for having any grounds for complaint, it was not only
silly, but inopportune, to give expression to having a grievance
against the French admirals because they cutely slipped out of his
deadly grasp from time to time and made him weary of life! His
grievances were easier to establish against the Board of Admiralty,
who were alternately paying him compliments or insulting him.
Instructions were given that could not be obeyed without involving the
country in certain loss and complication. Officers, his junior in
rank, were given appointments that had the appearance of placing them
independent of his authority. Seniors of inferior capacity were given
control over him which, but for his whimsical magnanimity, might have
cost us the loss of the fleet, their crews, and our high honour and
superb fighting reputation. Take for example Sir Hyde Parker's command
of the Baltic fleet, or Sir John Orde's clumsy appointment to a
squadron in the Mediterranean. Nothing could be so harassing to the
nerves of a man sure of his own superiority as to be burdened, not
only with Orde's arrogance, but his mediocrity. He was obliged to
resort to subterfuge in order to get his dispatches sent home, and
here again the action of the Admiralty compelled him to break naval
discipline by ordering a nephew of Lord St. Vincent, a clever young
captain of a frigate, to whom he was devoted, to take the dispatches
to Lisbon. He told the young captain that Sir John Orde took his
frigates from him, and sent them away in a direction contrary to his
wishes. "I cannot get my dispatches even sent home," he said; adding,
"You must try to avoid his ships." Nelson had not signed his orders,
because Sir John Orde was his superior officer, but should it come to
a court-martial, Hardy could swear to his handwriting, and he gave him
the assurance that he would not be broken. "Take your orders, and
goodbye," said he, "and remember, Parker, if you cannot weather that
fellow, I shall think you have not a drop of your uncle's blood in
your veins." Other Nelsonian instructions were given, and the gallant
captain carried them out with a skill worthy of his ingenious, defiant
chief and of his distinguished uncle.

It was not only a slap in the face to Sir John Orde, but to those
whose patronage had placed in a senior position a man who was not
qualified to stand on the same quarterdeck with Nelson. He smarted
under the treatment, but unhappily could not keep his chagrin under
cover. He was always pouring his soul out to some one or other. His
health is always falling to pieces after each affront, and for this
reason he asks to be relieved. Here is an example of his moods. "I am
much obliged to your Lordships' compliance with my requests," he says,
"which is absolutely necessary from the present state of my health,"
and almost immediately after he tells a friend he "will never quit his
post when the French fleet are at sea as a commander-in-chief once
did." "I would sooner die at my post than have such a stigma upon my
memory." This is a nasty dig at Lord St. Vincent, presumably for
having a hand in the appointment of Sir John Orde. Then he writes to
Elliot that nothing has kept him at his post but the fear of the
French fleet escaping and getting to Naples or Sicily. "Nothing but
gratitude for the good sovereigns would have induced him to stay a
moment after Sir John Orde's extraordinary command, for his general
conduct towards them is not such as he had a right to expect." I have
heard that snobbishness prevails in the service now only in a less
triumphant degree to what it did in Nelson's time. If that be the
case, it ought to be wrestled with until every vestige of the ugly
thing is strangled. The letters of Nelson to personal friends, to the
Admiralty, and in his reported conversations, are all full of
resentment at the viciousness of it, though he obviously struggles to
curb the vehemence of his feelings. No one felt the dagger of the
reticent stabber more quickly and sensitively than he. Invisible
though the libeller might be, Nelson knew he was there. He could not
hear the voice, but he felt the sinister action.

Making full allowance for what might be put down to imagination, there
is still an abundance of material to justify the belief that the first
naval authority of his time was the target of snobs, and that, but for
his strong personality and the fact that he was always ready to fight
them in the open, he would have been superseded, and a gallant duffer
might have taken his place, to the detriment of our imperial
interests. It is a dangerous experiment to put a man into high office
if he has not the instinct of judging the calibre of other men. This
applies to every department of life nowadays. Take the Army, the Navy,
departments of State, commercial or banking offices, manufacturing
firms, and the making of political appointments. The latter is more
carelessly dealt with than any other department of life. The public
are not sufficiently vigilant in distinguishing between a mere
entertaining rhetorician and a wholesome-minded, natural-born
statesman. What terrible calamities have come to the State through
putting men into responsible positions they have neither training,
wit, nor wisdom to fill efficiently! Providence has been most
indulgent and forbearing when we have got ourselves into a mess by
wrong-headedness. She generally comes to our aid with an undiscovered
man or a few men with the necessary gifts required for getting us out
of the difficulty in which the Yellow Press gang and their accomplices
may have involved the country. We know something of how the knowledge
of these anomalies in public life chafed the eager spirit of Nelson,
but we can never know the extent of the suffering it caused except
during the Neapolitan and Sicilian days. This lonely soul lived the
life of a recluse for months at a time. The monotony of the weird song
of the sea winds, the nerve-tearing, lazy creak of the wooden timbers,
the sinuous crawling, rolling, or plunging over the most wondrous of
God's works, invariably produces a sepulchral impression even on the
most phlegmatic mind, but to the mystically constituted brain of
Nelson, under all the varied thoughts that came into his brain during
the days and nights of watching and searching for those people he
termed "the pests of the human race," it must have been one long
heartache. No wonder that he lets fly at the Admiralty in some of his
most passionate love-messages to the seductive Emma. His dreary life,
without any exciting incident except the carrying away of sails or
spars, and the irritation of not being able to get what he regarded as
life or death requests carried into effect owing to the slothfulness
or incompetent indifference of the Admiralty was continual agony to
him. He writes in one of his dispatches to the Admiralty: "Were I to
die this moment, _want of frigates_ would be found stamped on my
heart. No words of mine," he continues, "can express what I have
suffered and am suffering for want of them."

No person could write such an unconsciously comic lament to a
department supposed to be administered with proficiency unless he were
borne down by a deep sense of its appalling incompetency. It is quite
likely that the recipients of the burning phrases regarded them in the
light of a joke, but they were very real to the wearied soul of the
man who wrote them. I do not find any instances of conscious humour in
any of Nelson's letters or utterances. It is really their lack of
humour that is humorous. He always appears to be in sombre earnest
about affairs that matter, and whimsically affected by those that
don't. The following lines, which are not my own, may be regarded as
something akin to Nelson's conception of himself. If he had come
across them, I think he would have said to himself, "Ah! yes, these
verses describe my mission and me."

    "Like a warrior angel sped
       On a mighty mission,
    Light and life about him shed--
       A transcendent vision.

    "Mailed in gold and fire he stands,
       And, with splendours shaken,
    Bids the slumbering seas and lands
       Quicken and awaken."

Nelson never attempted to carry out a mere reckless and palpably
useless feat for the purpose of show. His well-balanced genius of
caution and accurate judgment was the guiding instinct in his
terrific thrusts which mauled the enemy out of action at the Nile, St.
Vincent, Copenhagen, and Trafalgar, and enthralled the world with new
conceptions of naval warfare. He met with bitter disappointments in
his search for the illusive French fleet, which wore him, as he says,
to a skeleton, but never once was he shaken in his vigorous belief
that he would catch and annihilate them in the end. They cleverly
crept out of Toulon, with the intention, it is said, of going to
Egypt. Villeneuve was no fool at evasive tactics. His plan was
practically unerring, and threw Nelson completely off the scent and
kept him scouring the seas in search of the bird that had flown weeks
before. Once the scent is lost, it takes a long time to pick it up.
Villeneuve no doubt argued that it was not his purpose to give the
British Admiral an opportunity of fighting just then. He had other
fish to fry, and if he wished to get away clear from Toulon and evade
Nelson's ships, he must first of all delude him by sending a few ships
out to mislead the enemy's watchdogs or drive them off; if that
succeeded (which it did not), he would then wait for a strong fair
wind that would assure him of a speed that would outdistance and take
him out of sight of the British squadron, and make sure that no clue
to his destination was left. The wind was strong NNW.; the French
fleet were carrying a heavy press of canvas and steering SSW. The
British ships that were following concluded that they were out for
important mischief, and returned to convey the news to Nelson, who
quickly got under weigh and followed them. Meanwhile, Villeneuve's
squadron, after getting from under the shelter of the land into the
open sea, lost some of their spars and sails, and one vessel, it is
recorded, was dismasted, which means, in seafaring interpretation,
that all her masts were carried away; as she succeeded, however, in
getting into Ajaccio, she can only have lost her royal topgallant, and
possibly a topmast or two. If her lower masts had been carried away,
she could not have got into refuge without assistance, and the rest of
the fleet apparently had enough to do in looking after themselves, as
they lost spars and sails too, and became somewhat scattered, but all
appear to have got safely into Toulon again to refit and repair the
damage done by the heavy gale they encountered.

Meanwhile, Nelson, in dismay at losing touch with them, searched every
nook and cranny in the Tyrrhenian Sea, and making sure that none of
them were in hiding and that the sea was clear, he proceeded to act on
his fixed opinion that their objective must be Egypt. So to Egypt he
went, and the bitter disappointment at not finding them stunned his
imagination, so sure had he been that his well-considered judgment was
a thing to which he might pin his faith, and that his lust for
conflict with the "pests of the human race" could not escape being
realized in the vicinity of his great victory at the battle of the
Nile. His grievance against Villeneuve for cheating him out of what he
believed would result in the annihilation of the French Power for
mischief on the seas brought forth expressions of deadly contempt for
such astute, sneaking habits! But the Emperor was as much dissatisfied
with the performances of his admirals as Nelson was, though in a
different way. Napoleon, on the authority of the French historian, M.
Thiers, was imperially displeased. He asks "what is to be done with
admirals who allow their spirits to sink _into their boots_ (italics
are the author's) and fly for refuge as soon as they receive damage.
All the captains ought to have had sealed orders to meet at the Canary
Islands. The damages should have been repaired _en route_. A few
topmasts carried away and other casualties in a gale of wind are
everyday occurrences. The great evil of our Navy is that the men who
command it are unused to all the risks of command." This indictment is
to a large extent deserved, and had his fleet been out in the Atlantic
or outside the limits of the vigilance of Nelson's ships, the putting
back to Toulon or anywhere to refit the topmasts, sails, or rigging
would have been highly reprehensible. But in any case, I question
whether the British would have shown the white feather or lack of
resource under any circumstances. On a man-of-war they were supposed
to have refits of everything, and men, properly qualified, in large
numbers to carry out any prodigious feat. On the other hand, the
British have always excelled in their nautical ability to guard
against deficiency in outfit, which was not overtested unless there
were sufficient cause to demand such a risk. This applies especially
to the sailing war vessels in Nelson's time. I think there can be no
question that the French vessels were both badly officered and manned
with incapable sailors and that the damage which led them back to
Toulon was caused by bad judgment in seamanship. What they called a
severe gale would have been regarded by an Australian clipper or
Western Ocean packet-ship in the writer's early days as a hard
whole-sail breeze, perhaps with the kites taken in. It was rare that
these dashing commanders ever carried away a spar, and it was not
because they did not carry on, but because they knew every trick of
the vessel, the wind, and the sea. It was a common saying in those
days when vessels were being overpowered with canvas, "The old lady
was talking to us now," i.e. the vessel was asking to have some of the
burden of sail taken off her. I have known topmasts to be carried
away, but it generally occurred through some flaw in a bolt or unseen
defect in the rigging. So much depends on the security of little
things. But when a catastrophe of this kind occurred on board a
British merchantman or war vessel the men had both the courage, skill,
training, and, above all, the matchless instinct to clear away the
wreck and carry out the refitting in amazingly short time. That was
because we were then, and are now under new conditions, an essentially
seafaring race. And it was this superiority that gave Nelson such
great advantages over the French commanders and their officers and
seamen, though it must be admitted they were fast drilled by the force
of circumstances into foes that were not to be looked upon too
lightly.

The elusive tactics of the French admirals then were in a lesser
degree similar to those practised by the Germans now, if it be proper
to speak or think of the two services at the same time without
libelling them. The French were always clean fighters, however much
they may have been despised by Nelson. They were never guilty of
cowardly revenge. They would not then, or now, send hospital ships to
the bottom with their crews and their human cargoes of wounded
soldiers and nurses. Nor would they indiscriminately sink merchant
vessels loaded with civilian passengers composed of men, women, and
children, and leave them to drown, as is the inhuman practice of the
German submarine crews of to-day.

The French in other days were our bitterest enemies, and we were
theirs. We charged each other with abominations only different from
what we and our Allies the French are saying about Germany to-day, who
was then our ally. We regarded Germany in the light of a downtrodden
nation who was being crushed and mutilated under the relentless heel
of the "Corsican Usurper." "Such is the rancorous hatred of the French
towards us," says Collingwood in January 1798, "that I do not think
they would make peace on any terms, until they have tried this
experiment (i.e. the invasion of England) on our country; and never
was a country assailed by so formidable a force"; and he goes on to
say, "Men of property must come forward both with purse and sword,
for the contest must decide whether they shall have anything, even a
country which they can call their own." This is precisely what we are
saying about Germany with greater reason every day at the present time
(1918).

It has been the common practice for German submarine commanders to
sink at sight British, neutral cargo, and passenger vessels, and
hospital ships loaded with wounded troops and nurses. They have put
themselves outside the pale of civilization since they forced the
whole world into conflict against them. Nothing has been too hideous
for them to do. They have blown poor defenceless fishermen to pieces,
and bombarded defenceless villages and towns, killing and maiming the
inhabitants.

Nelson's ardent soul must have been wearied with the perversity of the
"dead foul winds" (as he described his bitter fate to Ball) that
prevented him from piercing the Straits of Gibraltar against the
continuous easterly current that runs from the Atlantic and spreads
far into the Mediterranean with malicious fluctuations of velocity.
Many a gallant sailing-ship commander has been driven to despair in
other days by the friendly levanter failing them just as they were
wellnigh through the Gut or had reached the foot of the majestic Rock,
when the west wind would assert its power over its feebler adversary,
and unless he was in a position to fetch an anchorage behind the Rock
or in the bay, their fate was sealed for days, and sometimes weeks, in
hard beating to prevent as little ground being lost as possible. But
ofttimes they were drifted as far back as Cape de Gata in spite of
daring feats of seamanship in pressing their vessels with canvas until
every spar, sail, and rope was overstrained. A traditional story of
sailors of that period was that only a fast clipper schooner engaged
in the fruit trade and a line-of-battle ship which fired her lee guns
on every tack was ever known to beat through this channel, which
mystified the sailors' ideas of God. They could not understand how He
could have committed such an error in planning the universe which so
tried the spirits of His loyal believers!

We know how catholic Nelson was in his religious views; and his feats
of expressive vocabulary, which was the envy of his class at the time,
became their heritage after he had accomplished his splendid results
and passed into the shadows. Such things as the strength of the
adverse sea winds, his experience of the capriciousness of the
official mind--a capriciousness which might be reflected in the public
imagination were he not to be wholly successful in getting hold of the
French fleet, and the indignity of having a man like Sir John Orde put
over him, all filled his sensitive nature with resentment against the
ordinances of God and man. His complaints were always accompanied with
a devotional air and an avowal of supreme indifference to what he
regarded as the indecent treatment he received at the hands of the
amateurish bureaucrats at the Admiralty. At times they were out of
humour with the great chieftain, and perhaps at no time did they make
him feel their dissatisfaction more than when adverse winds, a crazy
fleet, and deadly current were eating deep into his eager soul at a
time when the genius of seamanship was unavailing in the effort to get
through into the Atlantic in pursuit of the French fleet, which his
instinct told him was speeding towards the West Indies.

Sir John Orde, who was an aversion to him (as well he might be), had
seen the French fleet off Cadiz, and failed to procure him the
information as to their course. Nelson believed, and properly
believed, that an alert mind would have found a way of spying out the
enemy's intentions, but Sir John's resource did not extend to anything
beyond the fear of being attacked and overpowered. He obviously was
devoid of any of the arts of the wily pirate or smuggler. A month
after the French had passed through the Gut, Nelson got his chance. A
change of wind came within five hours after a southerly slant brought
his ships to anchor in Gibraltar bay for water and provisions. He
immediately gave the signal to heave the anchors up, and proceeded
with a fair wind which lasted only forty-eight hours. He anchored his
fleet to the east of Cape St. Vincent, and took on board supplies from
the transports. He received from different sources conflicting
accounts as to the objective of the French, but the predominating
opinion was that they had gone to the West Indies. Nelson was in a
state of bewilderment, but decided to follow his own head, and pinned
his faith on the instinct that told him to follow westward "to be
burnt in effigy if he failed, or Westminster Abbey if he succeeded."
The adventure was daring, both in point of destination and the unequal
strength of the relative fleets. Nelson had ten ships of the line and
three frigates, against Villeneuve's eighteen and two new
line-of-battle ships.

But the British Admiral's genius and the superiority of his
commanders, officers, and men, should they come to battle, would more
than match Villeneuve's superiority in ships. Nelson, always sure of
his own powers, could also depend upon the loyalty of men of every
rank under him. He knew that the terrible spirit which shattered and
scattered Spanish Philip's armada was an inheritance that had grown
deep into every fibre of the generations of seamen that followed
Hawkins and Drake's invincibles. When Nelson delivered himself of
death-or-glory heroics, he did so with the consciousness that _he_ was
the spirit that enthused masses of other spirits to carry out his
dominating will.

On the 14th May, 1805, anchors were picked up and the fleet left Lagos
Bay under full sail for the West Indies. The trade-winds were soon
picked up, and every stitch of canvas that would catch a breath of
wind was spread. The speed ranged from six to nine knots, according to
the strength of the wind, the Admiral taking any available opportunity
of conveying to the commanders the plan of attack and action should
they fall in with the Frenchmen. The task of keeping his own ships
together was not easy, as some were faster than others, and many had
foul bottoms. There was much manipulation of yards and sails in order
to keep the line in order, and Nelson even went out of his way to have
a note of encouragement and kindness sent aboard the _Superb_
(seventy-four guns) for Commander Keats, whose ship had been
continuously in commission since 1801, and was in bad condition. Her
sailing qualities were vexatious. Keats implored that he should not be
disconnected from the main fleet now that the hoped-for battle was so
near at hand, and being a great favourite of Nelson's, he was given
permission constantly to carry a press of canvas; so the gallant
captain carried his studding sails while running before the
trade-winds, but notwithstanding this effort, the lazy, dilapidated
_Superb_ could not keep pace with the others, even though he was
granted the privilege of not stopping when the others did. His urgency
not to be dropped out on this occasion caused him the hard luck of not
being at the battle of Trafalgar.

The British fleet arrived at Barbadoes after a twenty-four days'
passage from Lagos Bay. The French took thirty-four from Cadiz to
Martinique, so that Nelson had a gain of ten days on them, and
although his zeal yearned for better results, he had performed a feat
that was not to be despised, and of which he and his comrades in quest
of battle were deservedly proud. The French had been three weeks in
the West Indies, but had done no further mischief than to take the
Diamond Rock, a small British possession situated off the south end
of Martinique. The whereabouts of the elusive enemy was uncertain.
General Brereton, who commanded the troops at Santa Lucia gave
information that they had passed on the 28th May, steering south. The
admirals decided that they had proceeded to Tobago and Trinidad.
Nelson was doubtful, but was obliged to pay some regard to
intelligence coming from such a quarter. Accurate information received
on the 9th June, 1805, confirmed the Admiral's doubts as to their
objective, for they had passed Dominica on the 6th. Brereton had
unintentionally misled him. Nelson was almost inarticulate with rage,
and avowed that by this slovenly act the General had prevented him
from giving battle north of Dominica on the 6th. "What a race I have
run after these fellows!" he exclaimed, and then, as was his custom,
leaning on the Power that governs all things, he declares, "but God is
just, and I may be repaid for all my moments of anxiety." His belief
in the advent of Divine vengeance on those who doubted or threatened
the awful supremacy of British dominion on land or sea was stimulating
to him. Like the Domremy maiden, who saved her king and country, he
had "visions and heard voices."

Whatever the mission of the French fleet may have been, there was
certainly no apparent lust for aggrandizement. We may be certain that
Napoleon's orders were to carry out vigorous bombardments on British
possessions, and instead of doing so, Villeneuve seems to have been
distractedly and aimlessly sailing about, not knowing what to do or
whither to go. Apparently without any definite object, he arrived off
Antigua on the 9th June, and had the good fortune, whether he sought
for it or not, of capturing fourteen British merchant vessels; but he
would appear to have been quite phlegmatic about making the haul. He
was more concerned about the news the crews were able to give him of
Nelson's arrival at Barbadoes; not that he was constrained to give him
the opportunity of measuring strength with his now twenty-six of the
line, but as a guide to the best means of making his escape; this may
have been a strategical move of wearing down; or he may have been
carrying out a concerted plan for leaving Nelson in bewilderment and
proceeding with all speed to some British European point where
resistance would be less and success assured, since there was no
outstanding naval figure, bar Collingwood, who could stand up against
so powerful a combination of ships of the line. It is questionable
whether Villeneuve ever took this man of great hidden power and
foresight into account. It was Nelson, his chief, who put terror into
the fleet. In any case, whatever his plans may have been, the
intelligence he gleaned from the seized merchant seamen caused him to
make arrangements to sail from Antigua the next day for Europe. The
present writer's opinion is that he may have had secret orders from
Napoleon to make an attack on Ireland, as the Emperor never faltered
in his view that this was the most pregnable spot in which to hazard
an invasion and strike a crushing blow at the main artery. He little
knew the real loyalty of the great mass of Irishmen to their own and
to the motherland, and only realized later that his way to England
was not through Ireland.

The exit of the French was hard fate for Nelson, who had fired his
enthusiasm with the hope of a great conflict and a sure victory. It
was a creeping nightmare to him which was only relieved by his
resolute opinion that his fame and the terror of his name had caused
Villeneuve to fly from inevitable destruction. The idea of strategy
did not enter into his calculations. A further consolation to him was
that his arrival had saved the islands and two hundred ships loaded
with sugar from being captured, so that the gain was all on his side.
So far as the West Indies were concerned, the French expedition ended
not only in a dead loss, but was a humiliating fiasco, unless, as I
have stated before, it was a preconceived decoy for some other
purpose. But whether it were strategy or decoy, it taxes one's
intelligence to conceive why the French fleet did not proceed to
bombard the British possessions on arrival, then steal into safe
obscurity and make their way back to European waters. The evasion of
Nelson's scouts in any case was a matter of adroit cunning. Had a man
of Nelson's nimble wits and audacious courage commanded the enemy's
fleet, the islands would have been attacked and left in a dilapidated
condition. Nelson's opinion was that the Spanish portion of the
expedition had gone to Havana, and that the French would make for
Cadiz or Toulon, the latter he thought most likely, with the ultimate
object of Egypt. And with this vision floating in his mind, he
determined to make for the Straits. On the 13th June, 1805, he sailed
from Antigua, and was almost merry at the thought of getting close at
their heels, and toppling them into ruin before they had got into the
Mediterranean. He regarded them in the light of miserable naval
amateurs that could be whacked, even with the odds against him. Five
days after sailing, one of his scout ships brought the news given by a
vessel they spoke that she had sighted them steering north on the
15th, and as the colours of each dying day faded away and brought no
French fleet in view or intelligence of them, he grew restive and
filled with apprehension. He had no delusions about the accuracy of
his perceptions, or the soundness of his judgment, nor the virtue of
his prudence. Without a disturbing thought he pursued his course
towards the Mediterranean, and unless intelligence came to him that
would justify a diversion, no wild fancies would be permitted to take
possession of him. On the 18th July he sighted Cape Spartel, and any
sailor will say that no grass had been allowed to grow under the
bottoms of the ships that made so quick a passage. But Nelson was
"sorrowful" that no results had accrued. Like a strong man who has
opinions and carries them through to the bitter end, he did not "blame
himself." He blew off some of the pent-up bitterness of an aching
heart by writing to a friend, "But for General Brereton's damned
information, I would have been living or dead, and the greatest man
England ever saw, and now I am nothing and perhaps would incur censure
for misfortunes which may happen and have. Oh! General Brereton!
General Brereton!"

This explosion was indicative of bitter disappointment. It is these
outbursts of devotion to a great burning ideal that give an impulse to
the world. His anxiety when he made his landfall and was informed by
scouts sent to meet him that the allied squadrons had not been heard
of was intense. It was not until then that his vigorous mind was
smitten with the possibility of the French having cheated him by going
to Jamaica. Orde had been superseded by Collingwood, and was stationed
off Cadiz, the purpose of which was to watch the entrance to the
Mediterranean. Nelson wrote and sent him the following letter:--

    MY DEAR COLLINGWOOD,--I am, as you may suppose, miserable at not
    falling in with the enemy's fleet; and I am almost increased in
    sorrow in not finding them here. The name of General Brereton
    will not soon be forgot. I must now hope that the enemy have not
    tricked me, and gone to Jamaica; but if the account, of which I
    send you a copy, is correct, it is more than probable that they
    are either gone to the northward, or, if bound to the
    Mediterranean, not yet arrived.

The vivid symptoms of disquietude in this communication to his old
friend are distinctly pathetic. In parts he is comically peevish and
decidedly restrained. He mixes his fierce wrath against the hapless
General Brereton with the generalizing of essentials, and
transparently holds back the crushing thoughts of misadventure for
which he may be held responsible by the misanthropic, scurrilous,
self-assertive experts. His impassive periods were always associated
with whimsical sensitiveness of being censured if his adventures
should miscarry. No one knew better than he that a man in his position
could only be popular if he continued to succeed. He had many critics,
but always regarded them as inferior to himself, and his record
justified him. What he secretly quaked at and openly defied was a
general outburst of human capriciousness. There are veiled indications
of this in his letter to Collingwood, who replied in well-reasoned
terms, interwoven with that charm of tender sympathy that was so
natural to him.

He says: "I have always had the idea that Ireland was the object the
French had in view," and that he still believes that to be their
destination; and then he proceeds to develop his reasons, which are a
combination of practical, human, and technical inferences. His
strongest point is one that Nelson did not or could not know, though
it may be argued that he ought to have foreseen; even then it is one
expert's judgment against another's. Collingwood affirms that the
Rochefort squadron, which sailed when Villeneuve did in January,
returned to Europe on the 26th May. Collingwood maintains that the
West Indian trip was to weaken the British force on the European side,
and states that the return of Rochefort's squadron confirmed him in
this. He is too generous to his mortified comrade to detract in any
degree from the view that, having escaped from the West Indies, they
would naturally make for Cadiz or the Mediterranean. Here is one of
the many wise sayings of Napoleon: "In business the worst thing of all
is an undecided mind"; and this may be applied to any phase of human
affairs. Nelson can never be accused of indecision. His chase to the
West Indies was a masterpiece of prescience which saved the British
possessions, and, but for the clumsy intelligence he received, the
French would have been a hammered wreck and the projected ruse to
combine it with the Rochefort squadron off Ireland blown sky-high.

The present generation of critics can only judge by the records handed
down to them, and after exhaustive study we are forced to the opinion
that Nelson was right in following Villeneuve to the West Indies, nor
was he wrong in calculating that they were impulsively making their
way back to the Mediterranean. Consistent with his habit of never
claiming the privilege of changing his mind, he followed his settled
opinion and defended his convictions with vehement confidence. He had
not overlooked Ireland, but his decision came down on the side of
Cadiz or Toulon, and there it had to rest, and in rather ridiculous
support of his contention he imputes faulty navigation as the cause of
taking them out of their course, and finding themselves united to the
Rochefort squadron off Cape Finisterre. The bad-reckoning idea cannot
be sustained. The French were no match for the British under Nelson's
piercing genius as a naval strategist, or in the flashes of dazzling
enthusiasm with which he led those under his command to fight, but it
must also be admitted, and has been over and over again, that
Villeneuve was a skilled seaman who was not likely to allow any
amateur navigators in his service, and we shall see that in the plan
of defence this great French Admiral showed that he was fertile in
naval skill when the time came for him to fight for existence against
the greatest naval prodigy in the world.

Whatever the reason was that caused Villeneuve not to make for the
Mediterranean, it certainly cannot be ascribed to lubberly navigation,
and Nelson should never have tried to sustain his perfectly sound
belief by seeking refuge in that untenable direction. God bless him
all the same.

On his arrival at Gibraltar on the 20th July, 1805, he set foot on
shore for the first time for two years less ten days. This in itself
was a great feat of hard endurance for a man who had to carry so heavy
a burden of continuous physical suffering and terrible anxiety.
Maddened and depressed often, stumbling often, falling often, but
despairing never, sorrow and sadness briefly encompassed him when fate
ordained disappointments. But his heart was big with hope that he
would accomplish complete victory before the sentence of death came,
which he never ceased to forebode. He was a human force, not a
phenomenon. On the 22nd July, Sir Robert Calder and Villeneuve fought
a drawn or indecisive battle. Only two Spanish ships of the line were
taken. The French Admiral put into Vigo on the 28th, and managed to
slip out, and arrived at Ferrol without being intercepted. Nelson
provisioned his ships for four months, and sailed from Tetuan on the
23rd. On the 25th he passed through the Straits with the intention of
going to Ferrol, Ireland, or Ushant, whichever his information and
judgment told him was the best course to pursue. He experienced strong
northerly winds along the Portuguese coast, which prevented him from
joining the Channel Fleet off Ushant until August 16th, and as no news
had been received of the French being in the Bay of Biscay or off the
Irish coast, he was ordered by Cornwallis to Portsmouth, and anchored
at Spithead on the 18th August. His reception from every quarter was
most cordial, as well it might be! But the thought of how much greater
it would have been if he had not been misguided and thereby deprived
of coming to grips with the foe that was still at large and outwitting
every device of bringing them to close quarters, had eaten like a
canker into his troubled mind. In his letters to friends (Davison and
others) his postscripts were for ever being embellished with reference
to it and the darting of an incidental "damn" to General Brereton,
who, it is contended, was himself deceived. But Nelson, generous as,
he always was to people who were encompassed by misfortune, never
would allow that Brereton had any right to allow himself to be misled.
One wonders how the immortal General Brereton worked it out. In any
case, the great Admiral has given him a place in history by his side.

Nelson first heard of Sir Robert Calder's scrap from the Ushant
squadron, and was strong in sympathy and defence against the unworthy
public attacks made on the Admiral for not succeeding as he would. In
writing to Fremantle about Calder, he says, amongst other things: "I
should have fought the enemy, so did my friend Calder; I only wish to
stand upon my own merits, and not by comparison, one way or the other
upon the conduct of a brother officer," etc. This rebuke to a public
who were treating his brother officer ungenerously may be summarized
thus: "I want none of your praises at the expense of this gallant
officer, who is serving his country surrounded with complex dangers
that you are ignorant of, and therefore it is indecent of you to judge
by comparing him with me or any one else. I want none of your praises
at his expense."

This is only one of the noble traits in Nelson's character, and is the
secret why he unconsciously endeared himself to everybody. His comical
vanity and apparent egotism is overshadowed by human touches such as
this worthy intervention on behalf of Sir Robert Calder, who he had
reason to know was not professionally well disposed to him. But his
defence of Calder did not close with Fremantle, for in a letter to his
brother soon after he got home he says, "We must now talk of Sir
Robert Calder. I might not have done so much with my small force. If I
had fallen in with them, you might probably have been a lord before I
wished; for I know they meant to make a dead set at the _Victory_."
These lines alone show how reverently the writer adhered to the
brotherly tie of the profession. He seems to say, "Let us have no more
talk of puerilities. I am the stronger. I have recently been
frustrated myself. I know this business better than Calder's traducers
do, and therefore conceive it my duty to defend him. He also has
rendered great services to his country."

When it was known that he had arrived in England, he was overwhelmed
with generous tokens of affection and gratitude from all classes.
Thousands crowded into Portsmouth to see him land, and the cheering
was long and lusty. In London the mob, drunk with excitement,
struggled to get sight of him, many crushing their way so that they
might shake him by the hand or even touch him. Lord Minto said he met
him in Piccadilly, took him by the arm, and was mobbed also. He goes
on to say: "It is really quite affecting to see the wonder,
admiration, and love for him from gentle and simple the moment he is
seen," and concludes by stating that it is beyond anything represented
in a play or in a poem of fame.

Commercial men everywhere passed resolutions of gratitude for the
protection he had secured in their different interests. The West India
merchants sent a deputation to express their never-to-be-forgotten
thanks, and would have loaded him with material tokens of their
goodwill had it been proper to do so. He lost no time in getting to
Merton, which was the thought and happiness of his soul. He was
invited here, there, and everywhere, and always replied that he could
not accept, as all his family were with him. Lord Minto, who was a
devoted friend, visited him on the 15th August, and says that he
"found him in the act of sitting down to dinner with his brother the
Dean, his wife, and their children, and the children of a sister. Lady
Hamilton was at the head of the table, and her mother, Mrs. Cadogan,
at the bottom. His welcome was hearty. Nelson looked well and was full
of spirits. Lady Hamilton," he continues, "had improved, and had added
to the house and place extremely well, without his knowing she was
doing it. She is a clever being, after all the passion is as hot as
ever."

These glad moments of keen rapture, which filled Nelson with a sort of
mystic joy, were soon to be cut short. Swiftly the sweet days were
passing away, and the sombre parting from "dear Merton and loving
hearts for evermore" was drawing near. In his day-dreams he saw more
fame, more professional gladness, more triumph. He saw, too, as he
pensively walked in his garden, the grave nearly ready to receive him
and the day of his glory and brightness coming. These were his abiding
premonitions, which were jerked out to his close friends, and even
during his last sojourn at Merton, to those he loved so well. Even at
this distance of time we cannot think with composure of this
many-sided man declaring sadly that death had no terrors for him, and
that he was ready to face the last great problem in the conflict which
was to break the power at sea of the great conqueror on land. He had
not been long in the plenitude of domestic bliss before Captain
Blackwood called one morning at five o'clock with dispatches sent by
Collingwood for the Admiralty. Nelson was already dressed, and in his
quick penetrating way told him that "he was certain he brought news of
the combined enemy's fleet," and, without waiting for an answer,
exclaimed, "I think I shall have to beat them," and subsequently
added, "Depend upon it, Blackwood, I shall yet give M. Villeneuve a
drubbing." The latter had slipped out of Ferrol and elusively made his
way to Cadiz without having been seen by the British. Nelson's
services were again requested by the Government, and eagerly given,
though he declared that he was in need of more rest and that he had
done enough. But these were mere transient observations, probably to
impress those with whom he talked or to whom he wrote with the
importance of his position with the Cabinet, who now regarded him as
indispensable, which was in reality quite true, though he was none the
less proud of the high confidence they had in him and the popular
approval their selection had with the public. The phrase "Let the man
trudge who has lost his budget" was mere bluff. He wanted to go all
the time, and would have felt himself grievously insulted had the
Government regarded even his health unequal to so gigantic a task or
suggested that a better man could be found.

Nelson, always hungering for approbation, slyly hinted that it would
be a risky thing for the Government's existence had they not placed
full control of the fleet in his hands, so popular a hold had he on
all classes of naval men and the entire public imagination. Nelson was
often exasperated by the dull ignorance of the Government as to how
naval policy should be conducted, and by their combined irresolution
and impatience at critical periods, when success depended upon his
having a free hand to act as circumstances arose. Of course, he took a
free hand and never failed to succeed. But he frequently complained
that he laid himself open to be shot or degraded by doing so, and it
is only one man in a century that is possessed of sufficient audacity
to ignore the authority over him and with supreme skill to carry out
his own plans. In support of the views that were bound to be held by a
man of Nelson's calibre as to the qualities of some of his superiors
in the Government who wished to impose upon him a definite line of
action, we quote a letter written to Captain Keats, which has appeared
in almost every life of Nelson that has been published. It is pregnant
with subtle contemptuous remarks which may be applied to the naval
administration of the present time (March 1918). It is not only a
danger, but a crime, in the process of any war, but especially during
the present, to gamble with the safety of the nation by neglecting to
have at the head of a great department a man who has not only a genius
for administrative initiative in this particular sphere but an
unerring instinct to guide and grapple with its everyday
perplexities. It is colossal aptitude, not mechanicalness, that is
needed.

But here is the matchless sailor's opinion of the situation in this
respect in his day: "The Secretary of State (Lord Castlereagh), which
is a man who has only sat one day in his office, and, of course, knows
but little of what is passed, and indeed the Prime Minister, Pitt,
were all full of the enemy's fleet, and as I am now set up for a
conjurer, and God knows they will very soon find out I am far from
being one, I was asked my opinion, against my inclination, for if I
make one wrong guess the charm will be broken; but this I ventured
without any fear, that if Calder got close alongside their
twenty-seven or twenty-eight sail, that by the time the enemy had
beaten our fleet soundly, they would do us no harm this year."

Though Nelson did not and could not say all that was in his mind, we
can read between the lines that he had no use for the theories of
ministers, and would obviously have liked to have said in brutal
English, "Here I am, gentlemen, do not encumber me with your
departmental jargon of palpable nothings. You continue to trust in
Providence; give me your untrammelled instructions as to what you wish
me to do, and leave the rest to me." Here is another letter from Lord
Radstock: "No official news have been received from Lord Nelson since
July 27th. He then hinted that he might go to Ireland; nevertheless,
we have no tidings of him on that coast. I confess I begin to be
fearful that he has worried his mind up to that pitch, that he cannot
bear the idea of showing himself again to the world until he shall
have struck some blow, and that it is this hope that is now making him
run about, half frantic, in quest of adventure. That such unparalleled
perseverance and true valour should thus evaporate in air is truly
melancholy."

What balderdash to write about a man ablaze with reasoning energy and
genius of the highest order! The noble Lord is disillusioned on his
arrival in Portsmouth, and writes again in another a strain: "He
(Nelson) was received in town almost as a conqueror, and was followed
round by the people with huzzas. So much for a great and good name
most nobly and deservedly acquired"! The previous letter indicates the
mind of a fireside colossus, and shows how dangerously a big man's
reputation may be at the mercy of a little one or a coterie of them.
One can only describe them as portentous human snipes, whose
aggressive mediocrity spreads like an attack of infectious fever,
until the awful will of Heaven, for the safety of humanity, lays hands
on their power for mischief. The popularity of a public servant is
always in danger of a tragical end if he lives long enough. One slip
of inevitable misfortune seals his doom when the pendulum swings
against him. And it is generally brought by a rhetorical smiling Judas
who can sway a capricious public. The more distinguished a popular man
may be, the greater is the danger that the fame and reputation for
which he strove may be swiftly laid low.

    "Who has lived as long as he chose?
    Who so confident as to defy
    Time, the fellest of mortals' foes
    Joints in his armour who can spy?
    Where's the foot will not flinch or fly?
    Where's the heart that aspires the fray?
    His battle wager 'tis vain to try--
    Everything passes, passes away."

The gallant and strenuous patriot whose fame will pass on to distant
ages is now summoned to fulfil his destiny. He owns that he needs one
more rest, but his "duty was to go forth." He "expected to lay his
weary bones quiet for the winter," but he is "proud of the call," and
all gallant hearts were proud to own him as their chieftain. He
bargains for one of the _Victory's_ anchors to be at the bows before
he arrives at Portsmouth. All his belongings are sent off on the 5th
October. Lord Barham, an aged man of eighty-two years, asks him with
pride to select his own officers. "Choose yourself, my Lord. The same
spirit actuates the whole profession; you cannot choose wrong." He
told the Cabinet what was wanted in the "annihilation of the enemy,"
and that "only numbers could annihilate"--presumably ships and men.
The conversations he had with the authorities and the spoken words and
letters sent to his friends are ablaze with inspiring, sharp-cut
sentences. But those who had intimate knowledge of his tender side
felt he was ill at ease, and not free from heartache at the prospect
of parting. I think, in connection with _this_, Lady Hamilton's
version of what passed between them when he was walking the
"quarterdeck" in his garden may be true in substance, as he was still
madly in love with her, and she knew how to wheedle him into a
conversation and to use words that might serve a useful purpose if
need be. Nor were her scruples so delicate as to prevent suitable
additions being made to suit any emergency that might occur.

Her account is that she saw he was looking downcast, and she told him
so. He smiled, and then said, "No, I am as happy as possible"; he was
surrounded by his family, his health was better since he had "been on
shore, and he would not give sixpence to call the King his uncle." She
replied that she did not believe him, that she knew he was longing to
get at the combined fleets, that he considered them as his property,
that he would be miserable if any man but himself did the business,
and that he ought to have them as the price and reward of his two
years' long watching and his hard chase. "Nelson," said she, "however
we may lament your absence, offer your services; they will be
accepted, and you will gain a quiet heart by it; you will have a
glorious victory, and then you may return here and be happy." He
looked at her with tears in his eyes, and said, "Brave Emma! Good
Emma! If there were more Emmas, there would be more Nelsons."

It puts a heavy strain upon our credulity to believe that such words
were ever used by Nelson, even though we know that he was so
hopelessly enamoured of this untamed creature. That he needed to be
coaxed into offering his services or that he ever demurred at
accepting the distinguished honours the Government had conferred upon
him may be regarded as one of Emma's efforts at triumphant
self-glorification and easy dramatic fibbing. She was ever striving to
thrust her patriotic ardour forward in some vulgar form or other, and
this occasion gave her a chance that could not be resisted. The day
before Nelson's departure for Portsmouth the scalding tears flowed
from her eyes continuously, she could neither eat nor drink, and her
lapses into swooning at the table were terrible. These performances do
not bear out the tale of Nelson's spontaneous and gushing outburst in
the garden at Merton of her bravery and goodness in urging him to "go
forth." It is possible that her resolution and fortitude could not
stand the responsibility of pressing him to undertake a task that
might be fatal to himself and foredoomed to failure. In that case she
does not bear herself like a heroine, and strengthens the suspicion,
as we have said, that the story of pleading with Nelson to offer his
services is an impudent fabrication. Minto says that the tears and
swooning is a strange picture, and assures him as before that nothing
can be more pure and ardent than this flame; and _she_ might have
added that they had in reality exchanged souls.

Napoleon, in conversing on one occasion with his brother Lucien
about one of his love affairs, said "that Madame Walewska's soul
was as beautiful as her face." In nearly all his letters to Lady
Hamilton, Nelson plunged into expressions of love abandonment
only different from those sent by Napoleon to Josephine when he
was commander-in-chief of the army of Italy. Neither of these
extraordinary men could do anything by halves, and we are not left in
doubt as to the seventh heaven of happiness it would have been to the
less flowery-worded sailor had he been given the least encouragement
to pour out his adoration of Emma's goodness and beauty. He would have
excelled Napoleon's picture of Madame Walewska. Amidst the many cares
that surrounded these last active days, when the dockyards were
humming with the work of getting his ships refitted so that they might
be put quickly into commission, he grudged every moment of forced
separation from her while he was in consultation with the Government
and attending to his own private preparations, which were sedulously
attended to. Nothing of moment seems to have been left to chance. Not
even the coffin that Captain Hallowell had given him was overlooked,
for he called to give instructions to the people who had it in safe
keeping, and gave them instructions to have the history of it engraved
on the lid, as he might want it on his return, which is further
evidence that he was permanently impressed with the fate that awaited
him.

The story of this strange incident of the coffin is this: After the
battle of the Nile a portion of the _Orient's_ mainmast was drifting
about, and was picked up by order of Captain Hallowell of the
_Swiftsure_, who had it made into a coffin. It was handsomely
finished, and sent to Admiral Nelson with the following letter:--

    Sir,--I have taken the liberty of presenting you a coffin made
    from the mainmast of _Orient_, that when you have finished your
    military career in this world, you may be buried in one of your
    trophies. But that that period may be far distant is the earnest
    wish of your sincere friend, Benjamin Hallowell.

Nelson received the weird gift in good spirits, and had it placed in
his cabin. It was hardly a pleasant piece of furniture for his
visitors to be confronted with, so he was prevailed upon to have it
put below until it was required. A few more raging battles, and a few
more years of momentous anxieties, and the prodigious hero was to
become its occupant. It seems to have been landed and put in charge of
a firm of upholsterers.

Before leaving his home he went to the bedside where his child Horatia
lay sleeping, and offered up a heart-stirring prayer that those who
loved him should be a guardian spirit to her, and that the God he
believed in should have her in His holy keeping. On the 13th
September, 1805, he writes in his private diary:--

    At half-past ten, drove from dear, dear Merton, where I left all
    which I hold dear in this world, to go to serve my King and
    country. May the great God whom I adore enable me to fulfil the
    expectations of my country; and if it is His good pleasure that
    I should return, my thanks will never cease being offered up to
    the throne of His mercy. If it is good Providence to cut short
    my days upon earth, I bow with the greatest submission, relying
    that He will protect those so dear to me that I may leave
    behind. His will be done. Amen, Amen.

No more simple, fervent, and touching appeal and resignation to the
will of Him Who governs all things has been seen in the English
language. It is quite unorthodox in its construction, and impresses us
with the idea that he is already realizing the bitterness of death,
and that he is in the presence of a great Mystery, speaking to his own
parting soul. The desire to live is there, but he does not ignore the
almost unutterable submission of "Thy will be done."


XIII

Nelson joined the _Victory_ at Portsmouth on the morning of the 14th
September, and met with a great public ovation. He tells Captain
Hardy, as he was being rowed to the _Victory_, that he had "their
huzzas when he landed" (after his prolonged period in commission),
"but now," he proudly remarked, "I have their hearts." His send-off
was magnificent. The contagious flow of tears, the shouting of
blessings, and the fervent petitions that the God of battles should
give him the victory over the enemies of human suffering and liberty
were symptoms of admiration and gratitude which went hot into his
blood as he sat in his barge, the object of reverence. And with a calm
air of conscious power he acknowledged the honour that was showered
upon him by baring his head and bowing gracefully his thanks. It was
manifestly his day of paradise, and with the plaudits still ringing in
his ears the _Victory's_ anchor was weighed on the following day, and
he sailed from St. Helen's Roads to the great conflict and victory for
which he panted, and to the doom that awaited him.

He experienced foul winds until he passed Cape Finisterre, and on the
28th September he joined the fleet of twenty-nine of the line. The
29th September was the anniversary of his forty-seventh year. He says:
"The reception I met with on joining the fleet caused the sweetest
sensation of my life. The officers who came on board to welcome my
return forgot my rank as commander-in-chief in the enthusiasm with
which they greeted me. As soon as these emotions were past, I laid
before them the plan I had previously arranged for attacking the
enemy; and it was not only my pleasure to find it generally approved,
but clearly perceived and understood." In a further communication he
explains to them the "Nelson touch," and all agree that it must
succeed, and that he is surrounded with friends. Then he adds: "Some
may be Judas's, but the majority are certainly pleased at the prospect
of my commanding them."

These are joyous days for him, which are marked by the absence of any
recorded misgivings. His mind is full of making preparations in every
detail to cope with the advent of Villeneuve from Cadiz and for the
plan of attack, of which a long memorandum was circulated to the
fleet. He had planned the form of attack at Trafalgar during his stay
at home, and some time before leaving Merton he confided it to Lord
Sidmouth. He told him "that Rodney broke the enemy's line in one
place, and that _he_ would break it in two." One of the Nelson
"touches" was to "close with a Frenchman, and to out-manoeuvre a
Russian," and this method of terrific onslaught was to be one of the
devices that he had in store for the French at Trafalgar, and which
ended fatally for himself. But it gave the enemy a staggering blow,
from which they never recovered so long as the action lasted. In the
General Orders he says: "Captains are to look to their particular line
as a rallying point, but in case signals cannot be seen or clearly
understood, _no captain can do wrong if he places his ship alongside
that of an enemy_."

The feeling against Sir Robert Calder for not having beaten or forced
another battle on the allied fleets in July did not abate. The public
were out for impeachment, and the Government did nothing to discourage
it; and when Nelson was on the point of leaving England the First Lord
instructed him to convey to Calder the Government's condemnation of
his evident negligence or incapacity. They gave him permission to ask
for the inquiry, but should he not do so, it would be ordered. Nelson
wrote to Barham that he had delivered the message to Sir Robert, and
that it would doubtless give his Lordship pleasure to learn that an
inquiry was just what the Vice-Admiral was anxious to have, and that
he had already sent a letter by the _Nautilus_ to say so, but that he
(Nelson) had detained it. Nelson, in his goodness of heart, urged Sir
Robert to remain until after the action, the result of which would
inevitably change the feeling of the Government and the public in his
favour, and he could then, without any fear, demand an inquiry. Sir
Robert was so crushed with the charge hanging over him, that he
insisted on being allowed to proceed to England at once, and Nelson,
to ease the humiliation and suffering he was passing through, sent him
off in his ninety-gun ship, instead of a frigate. The inquiry was held
in due course, and judgment given against him. The finding is, in our
opinion, based more on prejudice than on any fault he committed, and
as to "committing an error of judgment," it is always difficult to
know what is an error of judgment in circumstances such as he was
confronted with. In any case, it is evident that the Government were
terrified of the effect that public opinion would have on themselves
if they failed to take steps to appease it. We think the Government
would have been serving their country better by keeping this
unfortunate officer in active service when its fleet was on the verge
of a life-or-death struggle for naval supremacy than by dispensing
with his services, which they had thought fit to retain from July to
October. Nelson's attitude was the more patriotic and noble, and under
such circumstances the verdict, however mild, was bound to be given
against the man whose heart they had broken because they were afraid
of public opinion. Nelson was a better judge than they. Discreet
reprimand, combined with a few kindly words of encouragement, was the
proper course at such a time, when every man and ship was so
essential.

On a previous occasion, when a "seventy-four" had stranded, the
officer whose skill and efforts had refloated her was told by Nelson
that he had spoken favourably of him to the Admiralty. The officer
showed in suitable terms his gratitude, but added that he did not
regard what he had done as meriting any notice or praise. The Admiral
pointed out that a battle might easily be lost by the absence of a
line-of-battle ship. When Nelson conveyed the ill-considered and
stupid instructions of the Government to Sir Robert Calder to return
home to be court-martialled, and the latter replied that his letter
"to do so cut him to the soul and that his heart was broken," Nelson
was so overcome with sympathy for Calder that he sacrificed his own
opinions already expressed, and also took the risk of bringing upon
himself the displeasure of the Comptroller of the Navy by giving the
unfortunate man permission to proceed home in a vessel that would have
been so valuable an asset to his fleet. This worthy act, had he lived
and the battle of Trafalgar been drawn or lost, might have laid him
open to impeachment. Nelson's fine courage and sense of proportion
when he thought an injustice or undue severity was being imposed was
never allowed to be trifled with by any official, no matter how high
or subordinate his position might be, and his contempt for men whom he
knew were miserable cocksparrow amateurs was openly avowed.

Whatever the consequences, he would have sooner lost a victory than
have gained one by lending himself to an act that was to injure or
break his brother in arms. Calder left the fleet a few days before the
action, and when it began Nelson remarked to Hardy, "What would poor
Sir Robert Calder give to be with us now!" Even on the eve of a great
encounter the stress of preparation did not dim his sympathy for the
afflicted man, who, on more than one occasion, had allowed envy to
rule his conduct towards him. After the battle of St. Vincent, for
instance, Calder, in conversation with Jervis, criticized Nelson's
action in departing from the plan of attack laid down by the Admiral.
Jervis admitted it to be a breach, and added "if ever Calder did the
same thing under similar circumstances, he would forgive him."

Nelson knew Calder was envious of his growing fame, but this did not
prevent him from acting as though he had always been a loyal friend.
On the morning of the 19th October, 1805, the signal was passed from
ship to ship acting as lookouts to the main fleet that the combined
fleet were putting to sea, and it was soon discovered that their force
consisted of eighteen French line-of-battle ships, seven large
frigates, and two brigs. The Spanish numbered fifteen sail of the
line. The British had twenty-seven sail of the line and four frigates,
so that Nelson was outnumbered by five of the line, three frigates,
and two brigs. The whole of the allied fleet did not get clear of the
port until the 20th. The commander-in-chief was Villeneuve, and his
obvious intention was to get the Straits open and, by a cunning
evasion of the British fleet, make a dash through. His elusive tactics
had hitherto been skilfully performed, but the British Admiral, always
on the alert, anticipated that an effort would again be made to cheat
him of the yearning hope of his heart, and had mentally arranged how
every contingency should be coped with to prevent escape and to get to
grips with the enemy. "I will give them such a shaking as they never
before experienced," and at least he was prepared to lay down his life
in the attempt.

It is pretty certain that, after all his ships had got into the open
sea, Villeneuve's intention was to see how the land lay as to the
British strength, and his manoeuvring indicated that instructions had
been given to hoodwink the British and slip through the Straits of
Gibraltar; but seeing that the entrance was cut off for the moment, he
headed westward, possibly to mislead, but always with the intention of
getting into the Mediterranean. When this information was signalled by
Blackwood, instructions were sent back to him that the Admiral relied
on the enemy being kept in sight. Here is a letter to Lady Hamilton,
dated the 19th October, 1805:--

    CADIZ, BEARING E.SE. 50 MILES.

    MY DEAREST BELOVED EMMA: THE DEAR FRIEND OF MY BOSOM,--The
    signal has been made that the enemy's combined fleet are coming
    out of port. We have very little wind, so that I have no hopes
    of seeing them before to-morrow. May the God of battles crown my
    endeavours with success; at all events, I will take care that
    my name shall ever be most dear to you and Horatia, both of whom
    I love as much as my own life. And as my last writing before the
    battle will be to you, so I hope in God that I shall live to
    finish my letter after the battle. May Heaven bless you, prays
    your

This was found unsigned on his desk. These are the last lines he wrote
to the woman he called his "wife in the sight of God." There is none
of the robust assurance of blazing deeds that he has in store for the
enemy which characterize some of his earlier letters to Emma, nor is
there any craving for continued existence or for extinction. But who
can read this melancholy farewell without being impressed with the
feeling that there is a subdued restraint to avoid uttering his
thoughts on inevitable fate and eternal sleep, lest it gives anxiety
and disheartens the woman he loved so well?

On the same day he wrote an affectionate letter to his daughter, which
is clearly intended as a supplementary outpouring of a full heart to
the mother whom he knew would have to read it. The tone and wording is
what a father might have written to a girl of fifteen instead of five.
There is a complete absence of those dainty, playful touches that
would delight a child of her age. In reality, it rather points to the
idea that it was intended not only as a further farewell to mother and
child, but as an historical epistle and a legacy to Horatia which she
would read in other days in connection with the great battle in which
he was to be engaged only a few hours after he had written it.

    MY DEAREST ANGEL,--I was made happy by the pleasure of receiving
    your letter of September the 19th, and I rejoice to hear you are
    so very good a girl, and love my dear Lady Hamilton, who most
    dearly loves you. Give her a kiss for me. The combined fleets of
    the enemy are now reported to be coming out of Cadiz; and
    therefore I answer your letter, my dearest Horatia, to mark to
    you that you are ever uppermost in my thoughts. I shall be sure
    of your prayers for my safety, conquest, and speedy return to
    dear Merton and our dearest good Lady Hamilton.

    Receive, my dearest Horatia, the affectionate blessing of your
    Father,

    NELSON AND BRONTE.

The importunities of Horatia's mother were continuously being forced
upon Nelson in one way or another, but he seems to have stood firm, in
an apologetic way, to the instructions laid down by himself, that no
women were to go to sea aboard his ship; for, having been a party to
the embargo, it would have been impossible for him to make her an
exception. He anticipates, as her other lovers had done, that she can
be very angry, like Horatia, when she cannot have her own way, but he
soothingly says that he knows his own dear Emma, if she applies her
reason, will see that he is right. He playfully adds an addendum that
"Horatia is like her mother, she will have her own way, or kick up the
devil of a dust." He reminds Emma that she is a "sharer of his glory,"
which settles the question of her being allowed to sail with him, and
from encountering the heavy gales and liquid hills that are
experienced off Toulon week after week. He warns the lady that it
would kill her and himself to witness it. Emma was too devoted to all
the pleasures ashore to risk losing her life in any such
uncomfortable fashion at sea, so the project was abandoned, if it was
ever seriously contemplated.

This astute actress knew where to touch Nelson's weak spot, and that
it would send him into a frenzy of love to think of her yearning to be
beside him. She would know that the rules of the Service prohibited,
except under special circumstances, even the highest in rank from
having their wives sail with them, and that the rule would apply more
rigidly to herself, who was not Nelson's wife. She knew, in fact, that
her request would flatter him, and that she would be compensated by
receiving a whirlwind of devotion in reply. After the Gulf of Lyons
days, no further request appears to have been made of that kind.

The combined fleets had been dodging each other on the 20th, light
westerly winds and calms prevailing. At daylight on the 21st the
belligerent fleets were within twelve miles of each other. Nelson was
on deck early, and at 7.40 a.m. made the signal "To form the order of
sailing," and "To prepare for battle." Then the signal was made to
"Bear up," the _Victory_ and _Royal Sovereign_ leading the way in two
lines; Nelson took the weather line with his ships, and the other
division followed, but the wind being light, many had barely steerage
way. Fourteen vessels followed Collingwood, who was to attack the
enemy's rear, while Nelson slashed into the van and centre.
Villeneuve, seeing by the British formation that his number was up and
that he would have to give battle, manoeuvred to keep Cadiz open,
which was about twenty miles NE. of him, but the wind, being light,
made it as difficult for the French Commander-in-Chief to carry out
the disposition as it was for the quick-witted British Commander to
prevent it. Hence the development was a lazy process, and prevented,
as varying circumstances always do, any rigid plan being adhered to.
Had there been a fresh breeze before the battle commenced, the chances
are that the French would have secured a position that would have
enabled more of the crippled ships to get into Cadiz, but even this is
doubtful, as only a fluke of wind could have saved them from the
strategy of the British Commander-in-Chief before the fighting began.
Between eleven and twelve o'clock on the 21st October every humanly
possible, detailed arrangement had been completed. Each captain knew
that, so far as it was possible, he was to follow where his admiral
and vice-admiral led. The spirits of all those who manned the fleet
were high of hope, and the inspiring spirit said he could do no more.

Nelson then went to his cabin and on his knees wrote a prayer that
throbbed and will continue to throb through the universe. It exhales
the spirit of bravery, and triumphant assurance of the eternal justice
of the cause for which he is about to sacrifice himself, for a sombre
document it is; but the soul that is in it is imperishable, and who
can peruse it without vividly picturing the writer kneeling before the
Omnipotent, pleading for his country's cause, and offering himself
piously as a willing sacrifice!

    May the great God, whom I worship, grant to my country, and for
    the benefit of Europe in general, a great and glorious victory,
    and may no misconduct in any one tarnish it; and may humanity,
    after victory, be the predominant feature in the British fleet.
    For myself individually, I commit my life to Him that made me;
    and may His blessing alight on my endeavours for serving my
    country faithfully. To Him I resign myself and the just cause
    which is entrusted to me to defend. Amen, Amen, Amen.

Then, as though apprehension of the inevitable passing was growing,
the thought of the woman who is the mother of his child, and for whom
he had an unquenchable love, blinds him to all sense of propriety. It
puts a severe strain on our imagination to realize how a man could
composedly write such a request on the verge of the greatest naval
conflict in history. It is dated "21st of October, 1805, in sight of
the combined fleets of France and Spain, distant ten miles":--

    Whereas the eminent services of Emma Hamilton, widow of the
    Right Honourable Sir William Hamilton, have been of the very
    greatest service to my King and country to my knowledge, without
    ever receiving any reward from either our King and country;
    First, that she obtained the King of Spain's letter, in 1796, to
    his brother, the King of Naples, acquainting him of his
    intention to declare war against England, from which letter the
    Ministry sent our orders to the then Sir John Jervis, to strike
    a stroke, if opportunity offered, against either the arsenals of
    Spain or her fleets. That neither of these was done is not the
    fault of Lady Hamilton; the opportunity might have been offered.
    Secondly: The British fleet under my command could never have
    returned the second time to Egypt, had not Lady Hamilton's
    influence with the Queen of Naples caused letters to be wrote to
    the Governor of Syracuse, that he was to encourage the fleets
    being supplied with everything, should they put into any port in
    Sicily. We put into Syracuse, received every supply; went to
    Egypt, and destroyed the French fleet. Could I have rewarded
    these services, I would not now call upon my country; but as
    that has not been in my power, I leave Emma, Lady Hamilton,
    therefore a legacy to my King and country, that they will give
    her an ample provision to maintain her rank in life. I also
    leave to the beneficence of my country my adopted daughter,
    Horatia Nelson Thompson; and I desire she will use in future the
    name of Nelson only. These are the only favours I ask of my King
    and country at this moment when I am going to fight their
    battle. May God bless my King and country, and all those I hold
    dear! My relations, it is needless to mention, they will, of
    course, be amply provided for.

    NELSON AND BRONTE.

    _Witness_,
      HENRY BLACKWOOD.
      T.M. HARDY.


It is of little importance whether this codicil was written at the
same time as the prayer or a couple of hours before; that neither adds
to nor detracts from the object of it. No definite opinion of the time
is given. Blackwood and Hardy, as witnesses, would know. In any case
it is an extraordinary document, and indicates unusual mental control
of which few human beings are possessed. His mind must have been
saturated with thoughts of the woman when the great battle was within
a few minutes of commencing. Early in the morning, when he was walking
the poop and cabin fixings and odds and ends were being removed, he
gave stern instructions to "take care of his guardian angel," meaning
her portrait, which he regarded in the light of a mascot to him. He
also wore a miniature of her next his heart. Unless Captain Hardy and
Captain Blackwood and others to whom he confided his love potions
were different from the hearty, unconventional seamen of the writer's
early sea-life, a banquet of interesting epithets could have been left
to us which might have shocked the severely decorous portion of a
public who assume a monopoly of inherent grace but do not understand
the delightful simple dialect of the old-time sailor-men.

There can be small doubt that Nelson's comrades had many a joke in
private about his weird and to them unnecessarily troublesome love
wailings, which would be all the more irksome when they and he had
serious business in hand. Poor Sir Thomas Troubridge appears to have
been the only one to have dealt frankly with him about carrying his
infatuation to such lengths--especially at a time when the public
service was in need of his undivided attention--and Nelson never had a
kindly feeling towards him afterwards. This gallant officer and loyal
friend was in command of the _Blenheim_ (seventy-four guns) when she
and the _Java_ (twenty-three guns) foundered with all hands near the
island of Rodriguez, in the East Indies, on the 1st February, 1807.
Nelson harboured a childish bitterness against Admiral Troubridge
because of his plain speaking, and especially after the latter was
appointed a Lord of the Admiralty. He always believed the "hidden
hand" to be that of his former friend, to whom he delighted at one
time to give the term "Nonpareil." In a letter to a friend he says: "I
have a sharp eye, and almost think I can see it. No, poor fellow," he
continues, "I hope I do him injustice; he surely cannot forget my
kindness to him," He boasts of how he spoke to St. Vincent, the former
"Nonpareil." In another eloquent passage he complains that Troubridge
refuses to endorse his recommendations of officers for promotion, that
he has been so rebuffed that his spirits are broken and the great
Troubridge has cowed him (this, of course, in derision), and if he
asked for anything more he would not get it. He would never forget it.
No wonder he was not well. The Admiralty are "beasts" for not allowing
him to come to London, which would only deprive him of a few days'
comfort and happiness, and they have his hearty prayers. He continues
in the same ludicrous strain, "I have a letter from Troubridge urging
me to wear flannel shirts, as though he cared for me. He hopes that I
shall go and have walks ashore, as the weather is now fine." "I
suppose he is laughing at me, but never mind." He suffers from
sea-sickness and toothache, and "none of them care a damn about my
sufferings," and so on. These misdirected outbursts of feverish
antipathy to poor Troubridge were frequent, and always inconceivably
comical as well as distressingly peevish. But behind it all there was
a consciousness of unequalled power which every one who knew him
recognized, and they therefore patiently bore with his weaknesses,
trying as they sometimes were.

Lord St. Vincent believed, and stated to Nelson, that the only other
man who possessed the same power of infusing into others the same
spirit as his own was Troubridge, and no doubt this innocent praise
of a noble and gallant sailor rankled in Nelson's mind, and was the
beginning of the jealousy that grew into hate. He could not brook any
one being put on an equality with himself, and he clung tenaciously,
though generously, to this idea of authority and superiority when he
requested in his last dying gasp that he should not be superseded.

After signing what is called the codicil to his will, Captains Hardy
and Blackwood joined him on the poop to receive his instructions. He
was calmly absorbed with the enemy's plan of defence and his own of
attack. He asked Blackwood what he would consider a victory, and the
latter replied, "Considering the disposition of both fleets, he
thought fourteen captures would be a fine result." Nelson said he
would not be satisfied with less than twenty, and that nothing short
of annihilation was his object. Soon afterwards he gave orders to Mr.
Pasco to make the memorable signal that

ENGLAND EXPECTS EVERY MAN TO DO HIS DUTY,

which sent a thrill of fiery enthusiasm throughout the whole fleet.
Then the signal for "Close action" went up, and the cheering was
renewed, which created a remarkable effect. Collingwood, whose
attention was wholly on a Spanish three-decker that he had selected to
engage, is reported to have been irritated, and spontaneously
expressed the wish that "Nelson would cease signalling, as they all
knew what to do."

At noon the French ship, the _Fougeux_, fired the first shot of the
battle. The belligerent admirals saluted in the good old pious style,
like professional boxers shaking hands before the attempt to knock
each other out, and in a few more minutes were engaged in deadly
conflict, hurling death at each other. Nelson, in his courageous
melancholy way, confident of his own powers and trusting reverently in
the continuance of the lavish bounty of God, resigned his fate to Him
who had given him the opportunity of doing his duty. The conspicuous
splendour of the decorations which he wore on the breast of his
admiral's frocker was apprehensively looked upon by his comrades, who
loved him with touching loyalty. They muttered their disappointment to
each other, but shrank from hurting his feelings by warning him of the
danger of the sharpshooters, to whom he would be a target, remembering
how he had sharply replied to some anxious soul who on a previous
occasion had cautioned him with regard to his prominent appearance,
"that in honour he had gained his orders, and in honour he would die
with them."

The battle quickly developed into a carnage. The _Bucentaure_ had
found her range soon after twelve o'clock, when some of the shots went
over the _Victory_. Blackwood was at this time ordered to rejoin his
ship. He shook hands with his chief, and in some brief parting words
expressed the "hope that he would soon return to the _Victory_ to find
him well and in possession of twenty prizes"; and Nelson is reported
to have calmly answered, "God bless you, Blackwood, I shall never
speak to you again." His habit was to refer to death with eager
frankness, and as though he were in love with it, without in the least
showing any lack of alertness or detraction from the hazardous objects
he had set himself to fulfil. His faith in the powerful aid of the
Omnipotent was as unvarying in his sphere of warfare as was Cromwell's
when he had the stern realities of human unruliness to steady and
chastise. Nelson, like the latter, had in his peculiar way a
deep-rooted awe and fear of God, which must have made him oblivious to
all other fear. The magnificent fellow never showed greater mastery of
the science of strategy, nor did he ever scan with greater vigilance
the manner of carrying out the creation of his genius. Collingwood,
who was first in the thick of the fight, set his heart throbbing with
pride and admiration when he observed the _Royal Sovereign_ dash
through the lines of the enemy, spreading devastation and death with
unerring judgment. "See," said Nelson to Captain Blackwood, "how that
noble fellow, Collingwood, takes his ship into action!" Then he paused
for a moment, and continued, "How I envy him!" And as though the
spirits of the two men were in communion with each other, Collingwood,
knowing that the Commander-in-Chief's eager eye was fixed upon him in
fond admiration, called out to the flag-captain near him, "Rotherham,
what would Nelson give to be here?"

One of those fine human touches of brotherhood which Nelson knew so
well how to handle with his faultless tact had occurred the day
before. Collingwood and some officers paid a visit to the _Victory_
for the purpose of receiving any instructions he might have to give.
Nelson asked Collingwood where his captain was, and when he replied
that they were not on friendly terms, Nelson sharply answered, "Not on
good terms," and forthwith gave orders for a boat to be sent for
Rotherham; and when he came aboard he took him to Collingwood and
said, "Look! there is the enemy, shake hands," and they renewed their
friendship by gratefully carrying out his wishes. But for this,
perhaps we should have been cheated of knowing the charming anecdote,
which denotes the veneration the two old friends had for each other.

There is no need to make any apology for this digression, for it is to
record one more of the many acts of wisdom and tenderness that were so
natural to this man of massive understanding. The incalculable results
that he was destined to accomplish may well be allowed to obscure any
human weakness that sadly beset him.

Nelson, with blithe courage, sailed right into the centre of the
French fleet, which in disorder surrounded their Commander-in-Chief's
ship, his intention being to capture her and take Villeneuve prisoner.
Never a gun was fired from the _Victory,_ although many of her spars,
sails, and her rigging had suffered severely, until she had rounded as
close as it was possible under the stern of the _Bucentaure_ and got
into position. Then a terrific broadside was let fly from her
double-shotted guns, which raked the _Bucentaure_ fore and aft, and
the booming of cannon continued until her masts and hull were a
complete wreck. Many guns were dismounted and four hundred men killed.
The _Victory_ then swung off and left the doomed _Bucentaure_ to be
captured by the _Conqueror_, and Villeneuve was taken prisoner. After
clearing the _Bucentaure_, the _Victory_ fouled the _Redoubtable_, and
proceeded to demolish her hull with the starboard guns, and with her
port guns she battered the _Santissima Trinidad_, until she was a mass
of wreckage, and the _Africa_ and _Neptune_ forced her to surrender.
Meanwhile, the _Victory_ kept hammering with her starboard guns at the
_Redoubtable_ until her lower deck cannon were put out of action. Then
she used her upper deck small guns and muskets from aloft. Nelson was
too humane a man to use this method of warfare from the lower tops,
and too practical, lest the ropes and sails should be damaged. The
writer is of opinion that he was wrong in this view, as was clearly
shown by the deadly execution the French musketeers did from aloft
before their masts were shot away by the British big artillery. It can
never be wrong to outmatch an enemy in the methods they employ, no
matter what form they take. Although the victory was all on the
British side at Trafalgar, it would have been greater and with less
loss of life on our side had musketeers been employed in the same way
as the French and Spanish employed them. The men on the upper deck of
the _Victory_ were shot down by these snipers without having an equal
chance of retaliating. The _Redoubtable's_ mizzen-top was full of
sharpshooters when the two ships fell alongside of each other, but
only two were left there when Nelson was shot and dropped on his left
side on the deck a foot or two from Captain Hardy. The Frenchman who
shot him was killed himself by a shot fired from the _Victory's_ deck,
which knocked his head to pieces. His comrade was also shot dead while
trying to escape down the rigging, and fell on the _Redoubtable's_
poop. The other sharpshooters had been previously killed by the
musketry from the _Victory's_ deck.

Nelson told Hardy, when he expressed the hope that he was not
seriously hurt, that "they had done for him at last, and that he felt
his backbone was broken." He was hit on the left shoulder; the ball
had pierced his left lung. The snipers from the tops of the other
enemy ships killed a large number of the _Victory's_ officers and men
who were on deck. The French made an attempt to board, but were thrown
back in confusion and with tremendous loss. The instinct of domination
and the unconquerable combativeness of our race is always more
fiercely courageous when pressed to a point which causes others to
take to their heels or surrender.

It was not an exaggeration on the part of the French and Spanish to
declare that the British sailors and soldiers were not ordinary men
but devils, when the real tussle for mastery began, and when they were
even believed to be beaten. The French and Spanish conclusions were
right then, and the ruthless Germans, stained with unspeakable crimes,
should know they are right now, for they have had many chances in
recent days of realizing the power of the recuperating spirit they are
up against, just at a time when they have become imbued with the idea
that they have beaten our forces on land and destroyed our ships and
murdered their crews at sea. The Kaiser and his advisers, military and
naval, have made the German people pay dearly for the experiment of
stopping our supplies by sea, for the loss of life by the sinking of
their own submarines must have been enormous. But only those to whom
they belong will ever know that they have not returned, and that they
must have been sent to the bottom of the sea.

We can only judge by written records and authoritative paintings or
prints of the period what the naval battles of the beginning of the
last century were like. But it is only those who have studied minutely
the naval battles of St. Vincent, the Nile, Copenhagen, and Trafalgar
who can depict the awful character and thrilling nature of these ocean
conflicts.

While the author was serving as an apprentice aboard a sailing vessel
during the Prussian-Danish war in 1864 a dense fog came on, and
continued the whole of one night. When it cleared up the next forenoon
we found that the vessel had been sailed right into the centre of the
Danish fleet, which had defeated the Prussians and Austrians off
Heligoland. There were other merchantmen there, and the cheering as we
passed each of the Danish warships was hearty and long, while they
gracefully acknowledged by saluting with their flags. I am quite sure
there were few British seamen who would not have gladly volunteered to
serve in the Danish navy against the Prussians, so universal was their
bitter dislike to the Hun bullies who had set themselves to steal by
force the possessions to which they had not an atom of right. The
sight of these fine frigates and line-of-battle ships manoeuvring to
come to grips with their cowardly antagonists who were assailing their
national rights has been revivified during a long course of study of
Nelson's naval warfare, and makes the awful vision of Trafalgar appear
as it really was, and makes me wish that I were gifted with the art of
words so that I might describe it in all its gruesome wreckage and
magnitude, as the recollection of the majestic sight of the Danish
ships before they even went into action makes it appear to me.

My mind's eye pictures one after another of the French and Spanish
ships surrendering, the hurricane of cheers that followed their
defeat, and the pathetic anxiety of the dying chieftain for the safety
of Captain Hardy, who was now in charge of the flagship acting as
commander-in-chief. Hardy is long in coming; he fears that he may be
killed, and calls out, "Will no one bring Hardy to me?" At last the
gallant captain sees an opportunity of leaving the deck, for the
_Victory_ is shielded by two ships from the enemy's gunfire. "Well,
Hardy," says Nelson to him, "how goes the battle?" "Very well, my
Lord," says Hardy; "fourteen or fifteen of the enemy's ships are in
our possession." "That is well," said Nelson, "but I bargained for
twenty"; and then followed the memorable order, "Anchor, Hardy,
anchor." "If I live," he says, "we will anchor"; and in answer to
Hardy's supposition that Collingwood should take charge, he
impulsively resents the suggestion and expresses the hope that this
will not happen while he lives, and urges again on Hardy that the
fleet may be anchored, and asks him to make the signal. He hopes that
none of our ships have struck, and his devoted friend reassures him
that none have and never will. He commissions Hardy to give "dear Lady
Hamilton his hair and other belongings," and asks that his "body shall
not be thrown overboard." Hardy is then asked in childlike simplicity
to kiss him, and the rough, fearless captain with deep emotion kneels
and reverently kisses Nelson on the cheek. He then thanks God that he
has done his duty, and makes the solemn thoughts that are troubling
his last moments manifest in words by informing Doctor Scott, with a
vital sailorly turn of speech, that "he had _not_ been a _great_
sinner," and then bids him remember that he leaves Lady Hamilton and
his daughter Horatia as a legacy to his country, and that Horatia is
never to be forgotten.

Even at this distance of time one cannot help regretting that nature's
power did not sustain him to see the total debacle of the enemy
fleets. He knew that he had triumphed, and that his task had ended
fatally to himself, but his sufferings did not prevent his spirit
sallying to and fro, making him feel the joy of living and wish that
he might linger but a little longer. He was struck down at a critical
stage of the battle, though there was never any doubt as to how it
would end, thanks to the adroit skill and bravery of Collingwood and
those who served under him. It is a happy thought to know that our
hero, even when the shadows were closing round him, had the pleasure
of hearing from the lips of the faithful Hardy that fifteen of the
enemy ships had struck and not one of ours had lowered a flag. But how
much more gladsome would the passing have been had he lived to know
that the battle had ended with the capture of nine French vessels and
ten Spanish, nineteen in all. He died at 4.30 p.m. on the 21st
October, 1805, just when the battle was flickering to an end.
Villeneuve had given himself up, and was a prisoner on board the
_Mars_. Dumanoir had bolted with four of the line, after committing a
decidedly cowardly act by firing into the captured Spanish ships, the
object being to put them out of the possession of the British. They
could not succeed in this without killing large numbers of their
allies, and this was all they were successful in doing. It was a
cruel, clumsy crime, which the Spanish rightly resented but never
succeeded in avenging.

Meanwhile the Spanish Admiral Gravina, who had lost an arm, took
command of the dilapidated combined fleets, and fled into Cadiz with
five French and five Spanish ships, and by 5 p.m. the thundering of
the guns had ceased, and the sea all round was a scene of death,
dismasted ships, and awful wreckage. The Rear-Admiral Dumanoir was
sailing gaily towards the refuge of Rochefort or Ferrol when he came
into view of, and ultimately had to fight on the 4th November, a
squadron under Sir Richard Strachan. Dumanoir and his men are said to
have fought with great fierceness, but his ships were beaten,
captured, and taken in a battered condition, and subsequently sent to
England, so that now twenty-three out of the thirty-three that came
out of Cadiz with all the swagger of confidence and superiority to
match themselves against Nelson and his fiery coadjutors were
tragically accounted for.

Collingwood was now the commander-in-chief of the British fleet, and
to him fell the task of notifying the victory. I insert the documents
in full.


LONDON GAZETTE EXTRAORDINARY.

    ADMIRALTY OFFICE, _6th November, 1805._

    Despatches, of which the following are copies, were received at
    the Admiralty this day, at one o'clock a.m. from Vice-Admiral
    Collingwood, Commander-in-Chief of his Majesty's ships and
    vessels off Cadiz.

    "EURYALUS", OFF CAPE TRAFALGAR, _October 22, 1805._

    SIR,--The ever-to-be-lamented death of Vice-Admiral Lord
    Viscount Nelson, who, in the late conflict with the enemy, fell
    in the hour of victory, leaves me the duty of informing my lords
    commissioners of the Admiralty, that on the 19th instant, it was
    communicated to the Commander-in-Chief, from the ships watching
    the motions of the enemy in Cadiz, that the combined fleet had
    put to sea. As they sailed with light winds westerly, his
    Lordship concluded their destination was the Mediterranean, and
    immediately made all sail for the Straits' entrance, with the
    British squadron, consisting of twenty-seven ships, three of
    them sixty-fours, where his Lordship was informed, by Captain
    Blackwood (whose vigilance in watching and giving notice of the
    enemy's movements has been highly meritorious), that they had
    not yet passed the Straits.

    On Monday, the 21st instant, at daylight, when Cape Trafalgar
    bore E. by S. about seven leagues, the enemy was discovered six
    or seven miles to the eastward, the wind about west, and very
    light; the Commander-in-Chief immediately made the signal for
    the fleet to bear up in two columns, as they are formed in the
    order of sailing; a mode of attack his Lordship had previously
    directed, to avoid the delay and inconvenience in forming a line
    of battle in the usual manner. The enemy's line consisted of
    thirty-three ships (of which eighteen were French and fifteen
    Spanish, commanded in chief by Admiral Villeneuve, the Spaniards
    under the direction of Gravina), bore with their heads to the
    northwards and formed their line of battle with great closeness
    and correctness. But as the mode of attack was unusual, so the
    structure of their line was new; it formed a crescent convexing
    to leeward; so that in leading down to their centre I had both
    their van and rear abaft the beam before the fire opened; every
    alternate ship was about a cable's length to windward of her
    second ahead and astern, forming a kind of double line, and
    appeared, when on their beam, to leave a very little interval
    between them, and this without crowding their ships. Admiral
    Villeneuve was in the _Bucentaure_ in the centre, and the
    _Prince of Asturias_ bore Gravina's flag in the rear, but the
    French and Spanish ships were mixed without any apparent regard
    to order of national squadron.

    As the mode of our attack had been previously determined upon,
    and communicated to the flag officers and captains, few signals
    were necessary, and none were made except to direct close order
    as the lines bore down. The Commander-in-Chief in the _Victory_
    led the weather column, and the _Royal Sovereign_, which bore my
    flag, the lee. The action began at twelve o'clock by the leading
    ships of the column breaking through the enemy's line; the
    Commander-in-Chief about the tenth ship from the van; the
    second-in-command about the twelfth from the rear, leaving the
    van of the enemy unoccupied; the succeeding ships breaking
    through in all parts, astern of their leaders, and engaging the
    enemy at the muzzles of their guns. The conflict was severe; the
    enemy's ships were fought with a gallantry highly honourable to
    their officers; but the attack on them was irresistible, and it
    pleased the Almighty Disposer of all events to grant his
    Majesty's arms a complete and glorious victory. About three
    p.m., many of the enemy's ships having struck their colours,
    their line gave way; Admiral Gravina, with ten ships joining
    their frigates to leewards, stood towards Cadiz. The five
    headmost ships of their van tacked, and standing to the
    southward, to windward of the British line, were engaged, and
    the sternmost of them taken; the others went off, leaving to his
    Majesty's squadron nineteen ships of the line (of which two are
    first-rates, the _Santissima Trinidad_, and the _Santa Anna_),
    with three flag officers, viz. Admiral Villeneuve, the
    Commander-in-Chief; Don Ignacio Maria D'Alava, Vice-Admiral; and
    the Spanish Rear-Admiral Don Baltazar Hidalgo Cisneros.

    After such a victory it may appear unnecessary to enter into
    encomiums on the particular parts taken by the several
    commanders; the conclusion says more than I have language to
    express; the spirit which animated all was the same; when all
    exert themselves zealously in their country's service, all
    deserve that their high merits should stand recorded; and never
    was high merit more conspicuous than in the battle I have
    described.

    The _Achille_, a French seventy-four, after having surrendered,
    by some mismanagement of the Frenchmen, took fire and blew up;
    two hundred of her men were saved by the tenders. A circumstance
    occurred during the action, which so strongly marks the
    invincible spirit of British seamen, when engaging the enemies
    of their country, that I cannot resist the pleasure I have in
    making known to their Lordships: the _Téméraire_ was boarded, by
    accident or design, by a French ship on one side, and a Spaniard
    on the other; the contest was vigorous; but in the end the
    combined ensigns were torn from the poop, and the British
    hoisted in their places.[15]

    Such a battle could not be fought without sustaining a great
    loss of men. I have not only to lament in common
    with the British Navy and the British nation in the fall of the
    Commander-in-Chief, the loss of a hero whose name will be
    immortal, and his memory ever dear to his country; but my heart
    is rent with the most poignant grief for the death of a friend,
    to whom, by many years of intimacy, and a perfect knowledge of
    the virtues of his mind, which inspired ideas superior to the
    common race of men, I was bound by the strongest ties of
    affection; a grief to which even the glorious occasion in which
    he fell does not bring the consolation which perhaps it ought.
    His Lordship received a musket ball in his left breast, about
    the middle of the action, and sent an officer to me immediately,
    with his last farewell, and soon after expired. I have also to
    lament the loss of those excellent officers, Captain Duff of the
    _Mars_, and Cooke of the _Bellerophon_; I have yet heard of none
    others.

    I fear the numbers that have fallen will be found very great when
    the returns come to me; but it having blown a gale of wind ever
    since the action, I have not yet had it in my power to collect
    any reports from the ships. The _Royal Sovereign_ having lost her
    masts, except the tottering foremast, I called the _Euryalus_ to
    me, while the action continued, which ship, lying within hail,
    made my signals, a service which Captain Blackwood performed with
    very great attention. After the action I shifted my flag to her,
    so that I might the more easily communicate my orders to, and
    collect the ships, and towed the _Royal Sovereign_ out to
    seaward. The whole fleet were now in a very perilous situation;
    many dismasted; all shattered; in thirteen fathom water off the
    shoals of Trafalgar; and when I made the signal to anchor, few of
    the ships had an anchor to let go, their cables being shot. But
    the same good Providence which aided us through such a day
    preserved us in the night, by the wind shifting a few points, and
    drifting the ships off the land, except four of the captured
    dismasted ships, which are now at anchor off Trafalgar, and I
    hope will ride safe until these gales are over.

    Having thus detailed the proceedings of the fleet on this
    occasion, I beg to congratulate their Lordships on a victory,
    which I hope will add a ray to the glory of his Majesty's crown,
    and be attended with public benefit to our country.

    I am, etc., (_Signed_) C. COLLINGWOOD.

    William Marsden, Esq.


GENERAL ORDER.

    "EURYALUS", _October 22, 1805._

    The ever-to-be-lamented death of Lord Viscount Nelson, Duke of
    Bronte, the Commander-in-Chief, who fell in the action of the
    21st, in the arms of Victory, covered with glory, whose memory
    will ever be dear to the British Navy and the British nation,
    whose zeal for the honour of his King, and for the interest of
    his country will be ever held up as a shining example for a
    British seaman, leave to me a duty to return my thanks to the
    Right Honourable Rear-Admiral, the captains, officers, seamen,
    and detachments of Royal Marines, serving on his Majesty's
    squadron now under my command, for their conduct on that day.
    But where can I find language to express my sentiments of the
    valour and skill which were displayed by the officers, the
    seamen, and marines, in the battle with the enemy, where every
    individual appeared a hero, on whom the glory of his country
    depended! The attack was irresistible, and the issue of it adds
    to the page of naval annals a brilliant instance of what Britons
    can do, when their King and country need their service.

    To the Right Honourable Rear-Admiral the Earl of Northesk, to
    the captains, officers, and seamen, and to the officers,
    non-commissioned officers, and privates of the Royal Marines, I
    beg to give my sincere and hearty thanks for their highly
    meritorious conduct, both in the action and in their zeal and
    activity in bringing the captured ships out from the perilous
    situation in which they were, after their surrender, among the
    shoals of Trafalgar in boisterous weather. And I desire that the
    respective captains will be pleased to communicate to the
    officers, seamen, and Royal Marines, this public testimony of my
    high approbation of their conduct, and my thanks for it.

    (_Signed_) C. COLLINGWOOD.

    To the Right Honourable Rear-Admiral
    the Earl of Northesk,
    and the respective Captains and
    Commanders.


GENERAL ORDER.

    The Almighty God, whose arm is strength, having of his great
    mercy been pleased to crown the exertions of his Majesty's
    fleet with success, in giving them a complete victory over
    their enemies, on the 21st of this month; and that all praise
    and thanksgiving may be offered up to the throne of grace, for
    the great benefit to our country and to mankind, I have thought
    it proper that a day should be appointed of general humiliation
    before God, and thanksgiving for his merciful goodness,
    imploring forgiveness of sins, a continuation of his divine
    mercy, and his constant aid to us, in defence of our country's
    liberties and laws, and without which the utmost efforts of man
    are nought; and therefore that [blank] be appointed for this
    holy purpose.

    Given on board the "Euryalus," off Cape Trafalgar,
    October 22, 1805.
    (_Signed_) C. COLLINGWOOD

    To the respective Captains and Commanders.

    N.B.--The fleet having been dispersed by a gale of wind, no day
    has yet been able to be appointed for the above purpose.

Against the desire of his dead comrade, Collingwood carried into
practice his own sound and masterful judgment not to anchor either his
conquests or any of his own vessels on a lee ironbound shore. Even had
his ground tackle been sound and intact, which it was not, and the
holding ground good instead of bad, he acted in a seamanlike manner by
holding steadfastly to the sound sailor tradition always to keep the
gate open for drift, to avoid being caught, and never to anchor on a
lee shore; and if perchance you get trapped, as hundreds have been,
get out of it quickly, if you can, before a gale comes on. But in no
case is it good seamanship to anchor. There is always a better chance
of saving both the ship and lives by driving ashore in the square
effort to beat off rather than by anchoring. The cables, more often
than not, part, and if they do, the ship is doomed, and so may lives
be. Hundreds of sailing vessels were saved in other days by the skill
of their commanders in carrying out a plan, long since forgotten,
called clubhauling off a lee shore. Few sailors living to-day will
know the phrase, or how to apply it to advantage. It was a simple
method, requiring ability, of helping the vessel to tack when the wind
and sea made it impossible in the ordinary way. A large kedge with a
warp bent on was let go on either the port or starboard quarter at an
opportune moment to make sure the vessel would cant the right way, and
then the warp was cut with an axe. In the writer's opinion, it would
have been just as unwise to anchor at Trafalgar after the battle, in
view of the weather and all circumstances, as it would be to anchor on
the Yorkshire or any part of the North-East Coast when an easterly
gale is blowing. But apart from the folly of it, there were none of
the ships that had ground tackle left that was fit to hold a cat.

Without a doubt, Nelson's mind was distracted and suffering when he
gave Hardy the order to anchor. The shadows were hovering too thickly
round him at the time for him to concentrate any sound judgment. Some
writers have condemned Collingwood for not carrying out the dying
request of his Commander-in-Chief. It was a good thing that the
command of the fleet fell into the hands of a man who had knowledge
and a mind unimpaired to carry out his fixed opinions. When Hardy
conveyed Nelson's message, he replied, "That is the very last thing
that I would have thought of doing," and he was right. Had Nelson
come out of the battle unscathed, he would assuredly have acted as
Collingwood did, and as any well-trained and soundly-balanced sailor
would have done. Besides, he always made a point of consulting "Coll,"
as he called him, on great essential matters. If it had been
summer-time and calm, or the wind off the land, and the glass
indicating a continuance of fine weather, and provided the vessels'
cables had been sound, it might have paid to risk a change of wind and
weather in order to refit with greater expedition and save the prizes,
but certainly not in the month of October in that locality, where the
changes are sudden and severe. Collingwood acted like a sound
hardheaded man of affairs in salving all he could and destroying those
he could not without risk of greater disaster.

Collingwood's account of his difficulties after the battle was won is
contained in the following letter to his father-in-law:--

    "QUEEN,"

    _2nd November, 1805._


    MY DEAR SIR,--I wrote to my dear Sarah a few lines when I sent
    my first dispatches to the Admiralty, which account I hope will
    satisfy the good people of England, for there never was, since
    England had a fleet, such a combat. In three hours the combined
    fleet were annihilated, upon their own shores, at the entrance
    of their port, amongst their own rocks. It has been a very
    difficult thing to collect an account of our success, but by the
    best I have twenty-three sail of the line surrendered to us, out
    of which three, in the furious gale we had afterward, being
    driven to the entrance of the harbour of Cadiz, received
    assistance and got in; these were the _Santa Anna_, the
    _Algeziras_, and _Neptune_ (the last since sunk and lost); the
    _Santa Anna's_ side was battered in. The three we have sent to
    Gibraltar are the _San Ildefonso_, _San Juan Nepomuceno_, and
    _Swiftsure_; seventeen others we have burnt, sunk, and run on
    shore, but the _Bahama_ I have yet hope of saving; she is gone
    to Gibraltar. Those ships which effected their escape into Cadiz
    are quite wrecks; some have lost their masts since they got in,
    and they have not a spar or a store to refit them. We took four
    admirals--Villeneuve the commander-in-chief, Vice-Admiral
    D'Alava, Rear-Admiral Cisneros, Spanish, and Magon, the French
    admiral, who was killed--besides a great number of brigadiers
    (commanders). D'Alava, wounded, was driven into Cadiz in the
    _Santa Anna_; Gravina, who was not taken, has lost his arm
    (amputated I have heard, but not from him); of men, their loss
    is many thousands, for I reckon in the captured ships we took
    twenty thousand prisoners (including the troops). This was a
    victory to be proud of; but in the loss of my excellent friend,
    Lord Nelson, and a number of brave men, we paid dear for it;
    when my dear friend received his wound, he immediately sent an
    officer to me to tell me of it, and give his love to me. Though
    the officer was directed to say the wound was not dangerous, I
    read in his countenance what I had to fear; and before the
    action was over Captain Hardy came to inform me of his death. I
    cannot tell you how deeply I was affected, for my friendship for
    him was unlike anything that I have left in the Navy, a
    brotherhood of more than thirty years; in this affair he did
    nothing without my counsel; we made our line of battle together,
    and concerted the mode of attack, which was put into execution
    in the most admirable style. I shall grow very tired of the sea
    soon; my health has suffered so much from the anxious state I
    have been in, and the fatigue I have undergone, that I shall be
    unfit for service. The severe gales which immediately followed
    the day of victory ruined our prospect of prizes; our own infirm
    ships could scarce keep off the shore; the prizes were left to
    their fate, and as they were driven very near the port, I
    ordered them to be destroyed by burning and sinking, that there
    might be no risk of their falling again into the hands of the
    enemy. There has been a great destruction of them, indeed I
    hardly know what, but not less than seventeen or eighteen, the
    total ruin of the combined fleet. To alleviate the miseries of
    the wounded, as much as in my power, I sent a flag to the
    Marquis Solano, to offer him his wounded. Nothing can exceed
    the gratitude expressed by him, for this act of humanity; all
    this part of Spain is in an uproar of praise and thankfulness to
    the English. Solano sent me a present of a cask of wine, and we
    have a free intercourse with the shore. Judge of the footing we
    are on, when I tell you he offered me his hospitals, and pledged
    the Spanish honour for the care and cure of our wounded men. Our
    officers and men, who were wrecked in some of the prize ships,
    were received like divinities; all the country was on the beach
    to receive them; the priests and women distributing wine, and
    bread and fruit among them; the soldiers turned out of their
    barracks to make lodging for them, whilst their allies, the
    French, were left to shift for themselves, with a guard over
    them to prevent their doing mischief. After the battle I shifted
    my flag to the _Euryalus_ frigate, that I might the better
    distribute my orders; and when the ships were destroyed and the
    squadron in safety, I came here, my own ship being totally
    disabled; she lost her last mast in the gale. All the northern
    boys, and Graydon, are alive; Kennicott has a dangerous wound in
    his shoulder; Thompson is wounded in the arm, and just at the
    conclusion of the action his leg was broken by a splinter;
    little Charles is unhurt, but we have lost a good many
    youngsters. For myself, I am in so forlorn a state, my servants
    killed, my luggage, what is left, is on board the _Sovereign_,
    and Clavell[16] wounded. I have appointed Sir Peter Parker's[17]
    grandson, and Captain Thomas, my old lieutenant, post captains;
    Clavell, and the first lieutenant of the _Victory_, made
    commanders; but I hope the Admiralty will do more for them, for
    in the history of our Navy there is no instance of a victory so
    complete and so great. The ships that escaped into Cadiz are
    wrecks; and they have neither stores nor inclination to refit
    them. I shall now go, as soon as I get a sufficient squadron
    equipped, and see what I can do with the Carthagenians; if I can
    get at them, the naval war will be finished in this country.
    Prize-money I shall get little or none for this business, for
    though the loss of the enemy may be estimated at near four
    millions, it is most of it gone to the bottom. Don Argemoso, who
    was formerly captain of the _Isedro_, commanded the _Monarca_,
    one of our captures; he sent to inform me he was in the
    _Leviathan_, and I immediately ordered, for our old acquaintance
    sake, his liberty on parole. All the Spaniards speak of us in
    terms of adoration; and Villeneuve, whom I had in the frigate,
    acknowledges that they cannot contend with us at sea. I do not
    know what will be thought of it in England, but the effect here
    is highly advantageous to the British name. Kind remembrances to
    all my friends; I dare say your neighbour, Mr.---- will be
    delighted with the history of the battle; if he had been in it,
    it would have animated him more than all his daughter's
    chemistry; it would have new strung his nerves, and made him
    young again. God bless you, my dear sir, may you be ever happy;
    it is very long since I heard from home.

    I am, ever, your most truly affectionate,

    CUTHBERT COLLINGWOOD.

    I have ordered all the boys to be discharged into this ship;
    another such fight will season them pretty well. Brown is in
    perfect health. We had forty-seven killed, ninety-four wounded.

Great efforts were made to get all the people out of the disabled
vessels before they drifted ashore. It is really splendid to read the
official account of the deeds of bravery of our fine fellows risking
their own lives to save the lives of those they had defeated. Seven
days after the battle, the _Victory_ arrived at Gibraltar, and
although her masts had been shot away and her hull badly damaged, she
was refitted and sailed for England on the 4th November, the same day
that the straggling Dumanoir and his ships fell into the hands of Sir
Richard Strachan in the Bay of Biscay.


XIV

On the _Victory's_ arrival at Spithead with Nelson's remains aboard,
preserved in spirits, the body was taken out and put in a leaden
coffin filled with brandy and other strong preservatives. On the
arrival of the _Victory_ at the entrance of the Thames, the body was
removed, dressed in the Admiral's uniform, and put into the coffin
made out of the mainmast of _L'Orient_ and presented to Nelson some
years before by Captain Hallowell. It was then put into a third case,
and on the 9th January, 1806, after lying in state for three days, the
remains were buried in St. Paul's.

The imposing demonstrations of sorrow could not be excelled.
Parliament voted a monument in St. Paul's Cathedral, and others were
erected in all the principal towns in England and Scotland. There were
neither material honours nor eulogies great enough to express the
gratitude that was felt throughout the United Kingdom for the late
Admiral's achievements. His widow, whom he had not seen for years, and
from whom he was definitely parted, was granted £2,000 per annum for
life. His brother was made an Earl, with a perpetual income of £6,000
a year, and £15,000 of national money was voted to each of the
sisters, while £100,000 was given for an estate to be attached to the
title. The human legacy left by Nelson of Emma Hamilton and their
daughter Horatia were not mentioned, though he seems to have implored
Heaven and earth in their behalf. Obviously, the Government felt that
they dare not be generous to everybody, even though it were Nelson's
dying injunction. Collingwood, who had as much to do with the triumph
of Trafalgar as Nelson himself, without making any ado about it, was
treated pretty much like a provincial mayor. The mayor, of course,
may and often does adopt a luxurious Roman style of living in
order that his local deeds may not escape observation, but such
self-advertisement was entirely foreign to Collingwood's character.
It was fitting that every reasonable honour should have been paid to
the memory of a great Englishman, whose deeds, in co-operation with
others, have never been surpassed. But to make grants and give honours
of so generous a character to Nelson's relatives, and especially
to his wife, who had been a torment to him, and to measure out
Collingwood's equally great accomplishments with so mean a hand, is an
astonishing example of parsimony which, for the sake of our national
honour, it is to be hoped rarely occurs. Even the haughty, plethoric
nobles of a fourth-rate town council (if it be not a libel to mention
them in connection with so discreditable an affair) would have judged
the manifest fitness of things better than to make any distinction
between Admiral Collingwood and his lifelong friend Nelson.

Surely this famous and eminently worthy public servant was as
deserving of an Earldom as was Nelson's brother, and his wife and
daughters of a more generous allowance than that of his dead chief's
widow and sisters!--this distinguished man, who helped to plan the
order of battle at Trafalgar and was the first to take his ship into
action in a way that inflamed the pride and admiration of the
Commander-in-Chief, and made him spontaneously exclaim, "See,
Blackwood, how that noble fellow Collingwood takes his ship into
battle! How I envy him!"

No one knew as well as Nelson that his comrade, next to himself, was
to play the leading part in not only assuring a victory, but in
completely annihilating the French and Spanish fleets. Yet the British
Government of that day only counted the services he had rendered to
the nation worthy of a peerage, plus the same pension as Nelson's
widow; i.e. he was to have a pension of £2,000 a year, and after his
death Lady Collingwood was to have the munificent sum of £1,000 per
annum and each of his two daughters £500 a year. He never drew his
pension, as they kept him in the service he had made so great until he
was a physical wreck. He died on his way home aboard the _Ville de
Paris_ on the 7th March, 1810, and was laid to rest in St. Paul's
Cathedral alongside of his distinguished friend Lord Nelson.

I have already drawn attention to Nelson's blind prejudice to and
hatred of the French. Collingwood was tainted with the same one-sided
views, but tempered them with more conventional language. In his
letters to Lady Collingwood he expresses delight at receiving a letter
written to him in French by his daughter, and exhorts the mother to
see that she converses when she can in that language, and to remember
that she is never to admire anything French but the language. On
another occasion he enjoins his daughter Sarah to write every day a
translation of English into French, so that the language may soon
become familiar to her; and then, as though he regarded these
instructions as unpatriotic, he qualifies them by reminding her "that
it is the only thing French that she needs to acquire, because there
is little else in connection with that country which he would wish her
to love or imitate." A kinsman of his, after the battle of Trafalgar,
wrote to inform him that his family were descended from, and allied
to, many great families, Talebois amongst the rest. He brushed the
intended compliment aside, and in his quaint manner remarked that "he
had never troubled to search out his genealogy but all he could say
was, that if he got hold of the French fleet, he would either be a
Viscount or nothing." This is one of the very rare symptoms of
vaunting that he ever gave way to; and though his dislike of the
French was as inherent as Nelson's, he never allowed his chivalrous
nature to be overruled by passion. In a letter to Lord Radstock in
1806 he closes it by paying a high tribute to the unfortunate French
Admiral Villeneuve by stating "that he was a well-bred man, and a good
officer, who had nothing of the offensive vapourings and boastings in
his manner which were, perhaps, too commonly attributed to the
Frenchmen."

Collingwood was a man of high ideals with a deeply religious fervour,
never sinning and then repenting as Nelson was habitually doing.
Physical punishment of his men was abhorrent to him, and although he
enforced stern discipline on his crew, they worshipped him. "I cannot
understand," he said, "the religion of an officer who can pray all one
day and flog his men all the next." His method was to create a feeling
of honour amongst his men, and he did this with unfailing success,
without adopting the harsh law of the land made by English
aristocrats.

In a letter to his wife, dated September, 1806, Collingwood informs
her that the Queen of Naples expected to be put on the throne of
Naples again and had intimated the desire of showing her gratitude to
himself by creating him a Sicilian Duke and giving him an estate. "If
a Dukedom is offered to me," he tells her, "I shall return my thanks
for the honour they wish to confer upon me, and show my estimate of it
by telling them that I am the servant of my sovereign alone, and can
receive no rewards from a foreign prince." Napoleon denounced Marie
Caroline, Queen of Naples, as "a wicked shameless woman, who had
violated all that men held most sacred." She had ceased to reign, and
by her crimes she had fulfilled her destiny. Collingwood, who knew her
public and private character to be notoriously untrustworthy and
loose, looked upon the proposed honour from such a person as an
affront, and refused to accept it if offered. Nelson, on the other
hand, who had a passion for window-dressing and flattery, accepted
with a flowing heart both a Dukedom and an estate from their Sicilian
Majesties. His close intimacy with the Royal Family, and especially
with the Queen, was a perpetual anxiety to his loyal and devoted
friends.

There were no two men in the Service who had such an affectionate
regard for each other as Nelson and the amiable Northumbrian Admiral,
and certainly none equalled them in their profession or in their
devotion to their King and country. Each was different from the other
in temperament and character, but both were alike in superb
heroism--the one, egotistically untamed, revelling at intervals in
lightning flashes of eternal vengeance on the French fleet when the
good fortune of meeting them should come; and the other, with calm
reticence elaborating his plans and waiting patiently for his chance
to take part in the challenge that was to decide the dominion of the
sea. Each, in fact, rivalled in being a spirit to the other. Nelson
believed, and frequently said, that he "wished to appear as a
godsend"; while Collingwood, in more humble and piercing phrase,
remarked that "while it is England, let me keep my place in the
forefront of the battle." The sound of the names of these two
remarkable men is like an echo from other far-off days. Both believed
that God was on their side.

Neither of them knew the character or purpose of the exalted man on
whom their Government was making war. Like simple-minded, brave
sailors as they were, knowing nothing of the mysteries of political
jealousies and intrigue, and believing that the men constituting the
Government must be of high mental and administrative ability, they
assumed that they were carrying out a flawless patriotic duty, never
doubting the wisdom of it; and it was well for England that they did
not. Men always fight better when they know and believe their cause is
just.

Collingwood, like most of his class, gave little thought to money
matters. He had "no ambition," he says, "to possess riches," but he
had to being recognized in a proper way. He wished the succession of
his title to be conferred on his daughters, as he had no son. This was
a modest and very natural desire, considering what the nation owed to
him, but it was not granted, and the shame of it can never be
redeemed. In one of his letters to Mr. Blackett he says to him, "I was
exceedingly displeased at some of the language held in the House of
Commons on the settlement of the pension upon my daughters; it was not
of my asking, and if I had a favour to ask, money would be the last
thing I would beg from an impoverished country. I am not a Jew, whose
god is gold; nor a Swiss, whose services are to be counted against so
much money. I have motives for my conduct which I would not give in
exchange for a hundred pensions."

These lines speak eloquently of the high order of this illustrious
man. He despises money, but claims it as his right to have proper
recognition of his services, which the Government should have given
him generously and with both hands. In so many words he says, "Keep
your money, I am not to be bought, but confer on me if you will some
suitable token that will convince me that you do really, in the name
of the nation, appreciate what I have done for it." Services such as
he had rendered could never have been adequately rewarded by either
money or honours, no matter how high in degree. In the affairs of
money these two great Admirals were pretty similar, except that
Collingwood knew better how to spend it than Nelson. Both were
generous, though the former had method and money sense, while the
latter does not appear to have had either. He was accustomed to say
"that the want of fortune was a crime which he could never get over."
Both in temperament and education Collingwood was superior to Nelson.
The former knew that he had done and was capable of doing great deeds,
but he would never condescend to seek for an honour reward; while
Nelson, who also knew when he had distinguished himself in the
national interest, expected to be rewarded, and on occasions when it
was too tardily withheld, he became peevish, whimpered a good deal
about his illtreatment, and on more than one occasion showed
unbecoming rage at being neglected.

After Copenhagen, the wigs were fairly on the green because he was
created a Viscount instead of an Earl. He talked a good deal about the
Tower, a Dukedom, or Westminster Abbey, and had ways of demanding
attention for which Collingwood had neither the aptitude nor the
inclination, though his naval qualities were quite equal to Nelson's.
But with all their faults and virtues, there was never any petty
jealousy between the two heroes, who lie at rest side by side in the
tombs at St. Paul's. Faithful to their naval orthodoxy that it was
incumbent for every Christian sailor-man to wash clean his conscience
when he was passing from time into eternity, Nelson on the 21st
October, 1805, and Collingwood five years later, avowed to those who
had the honour of closing their eyes for evermore that they "had not
been great sinners," and then slipped into eternal sleep; each of them
leaving behind a name that will live and descend into distant ages.

We left Villeneuve, the unfortunate but distinctly brave French
Commander-in-Chief of the allied fleet at Trafalgar, aboard the
_Mars_. He was subsequently sent a prisoner to England, and after a
short stay, he was allowed to go to France, and broke his journey at
Rennes on his way to Paris. The poor broken-hearted fellow was found
dead in his room, having committed suicide. There is not the remotest
foundation for the unworthy report that was spread that he was put to
death by Napoleon's orders. The Emperor was much too big a man,
occupied with human projects too vast, to waste a moment's thought or
to stain his name over an unfortunate admiral who had brought his
fleet to grief by acting against his instructions. It is only little
men who write, not that which is founded on fact but that which they
imagine will appeal to the popular taste of the moment; and so it was
with the French Emperor; a lot of scandal-mongers were always at work
hawking hither and thither their poisonous fabrications. A great many
people get their living by appealing to the lowest passions.
Napoleon, when in captivity, referred incidentally to the misfortunes
of Villeneuve, and made the following statement to Dr. O'Meara:--

    "Villeneuve," said he, "when taken prisoner and brought to
    England, was so much grieved at his defeat, that he studied
    anatomy on purpose to destroy himself. For this purpose he
    bought some anatomical plates of the heart, and compared them
    with his own body, in order to ascertain the exact situation of
    that organ. On his arrival in France I ordered that he should
    remain at Rennes, and not proceed to Paris. Villeneuve, afraid
    of being tried by a court-martial for disobedience of orders,
    and consequently losing the fleet, for I had ordered him _not to
    sail or to engage the English_, determined to destroy himself,
    and accordingly took his plates of the heart, and compared them
    with his breast. Exactly in the centre of the plate he made a
    mark with a large pin, then fixed the pin as near as he could
    judge in the same spot in his own breast, shoved it in to the
    head, penetrated his heart and expired. When the room was opened
    he was found dead; the pin in his breast, and a mark in the
    plate corresponding with the wound in his breast. He need not
    have done it," continued he, "as he was a brave man, though
    possessed of no talent."[18]

I have given this communication in full as it appears in O'Meara's
book, because the scribes would have it that Villeneuve was destroyed
by the Emperor's orders. There was not at the time, nor has there ever
appeared since, anything to justify such a calumny on a man who
challenged the world to make the charge and prove that he had ever
committed a crime during the whole of his public career. No one has
taken up the challenge except in sweeping generalities of slander,
which are easily made but less easy to substantiate. If the Emperor
had really wished to take Villeneuve's life, it would have been more
satisfactory to have him condemned to death by a court-martial
composed of his countrymen than to have the already ruined man
secretly destroyed for mere private revenge. The common sense of the
affair compels one to repudiate the idea of the Emperor's complicity
in so stupid a crime. It is more likely that Napoleon wished to save
him from the consequences of a court-martial, so ordered him to remain
at Rennes. He rarely punished offenders according to their offences.
After the first flush of anger was over, they were generally let down
easily, and for the most part became traitors afterwards.

We need not waste time or space in dilating on what would have
happened to Nelson had he put at defiance the authority that
controlled him and the irreparable disaster that would have followed.
Villeneuve has been belauded for his gallantry in the fight at
Trafalgar; indeed, we learn, from sources that may be relied upon,
that his bravery, dispositions in battle, and art of enthusing his
followers could not be surpassed. His signals to the fleet were almost
identical with Nelson's. Here is one: "Celui qui ne serait pas dans le
feu ne serait pas à son poste"; the literal translation of which is:
"He who would not be in the fire would not be at his post"; or, "The
man who would hold his post must stand fire," which is quite an
inspiring signal. But I wonder what the eulogists of Villeneuve would
have written of him had he been the victor instead of the defeated. It
is generous to give praise to the unfortunate Admiral for whom Nelson
had such an aversion and who was constantly threatened by him with
vigorous chastisement when he caught him; but generosity was not the
motive--it was only part of the loose-lipped, unclean policy of
decrying Napoleon. It is horrible, ungrateful, and foul brutishness of
the Corsican tyrant to court-martial so amiable and brave a man as
Villeneuve because he proceeded out of Cadiz against orders and
suffered a crushing defeat! It is quite permissible for a French
admiral to put authority at defiance if doing so complies with the
sentiments of anti-Napoleon writers, who were either ill-informed,
purblind critics or eaten up with insincerity or moral malaria! But it
is the maintenance of discipline to have men like Sir John Byng
court-martialled and shot after being tried, it is said, by a not
entirely impartial court, on the supposition that he had neglected his
duty in an engagement with the French off Minorca on the 20th May,
1756, and committed an error of judgment. A rather remarkable method
of enforcing discipline, to shoot an admiral for an error of judgment!

Take another case of high-ordered, solemn devotion to discipline: Sir
Robert Calder, who had gained an important victory over the French at
Finisterre, was court-martialled, condemned and ruined, ostensibly
because he did not achieve a greater victory. The decisions of both
cases were crimes, not desire for the maintenance of discipline. It
was, and ever will be, a stain on the name of justice. I need not
carry this further, except to say that according to the solemn logic
of some writers, it was murder for Napoleon or some of his ministers
to have the Duc d'Enghien shot for having conspired with others for
the overthrow of the established French Government, but it is the
saintly enforcement of discipline to have a British admiral shot and
another ruined for no other reason than an error of judgment on the
one hand and an insufficient victory on the other. Sir Robert Calder's
heart was broken by cruelty. Villeneuve lost his fleet and killed
himself, not that he had anything to fear from the decision of the
court-martial--so it is said on the authority of an English writer of
note. Certainly he had nothing to fear from the Emperor, who has
indicated that he had no intention of dealing severely with him. It
was fitting that he should be reprimanded, and no doubt he would have
been, after which, as was his custom, the Emperor would have conferred
some kindly favour upon him. Serene authors have entangled themselves
a good deal over this matter in their efforts to take up the
impossible position of making the Emperor and not Villeneuve
responsible for the disaster at Trafalgar to the Spanish and French
fleet. Of course, Napoleon was badly chagrined, and so would the King
of England have been, if it were thinkable that such a calamity could
possibly have befallen any British fleet. The head of the French
nation would have been less than human had he not felt the full force
of the terrific blow to his country, and especially to himself.


Disposition of Fleets at TRAFALGAR

TRAFALGAR, 21ST OCTOBER, 1805. DETAILED LIST OF SHIPS ENGAGED.


(_A_) BRITISH ORDER OF BATTLE, WITH THE NAMES OF THE FLAG OFFICERS AND
CAPTAINS.

VAN, OR WEATHER COLUMN.

Ships.            Guns.     Commanders.         Killed. Wounded.
_Victory_          100   Vice-Ad. Visc. Nelson     51    75
                            Captain T.M. Hardy
_Téméraire_         98   Eliab Harvey              47    76
_Neptune_           98   T.F. Freemantle           10    34
_Conqueror_         74   Israel Pellew              3     9
_Leviathan_         74   H.W. Bayntun               4    22
_Ajax_              74   Lieut. J. Pilfold         --     9
_Orion_             74   Edward Codrington          1    23
_Agamemnon_         64   Sir Edward Berry           2     7
_Minotaur_          74   C.J.M. Mansfield           3    22
_Spartiate_         74   Sir F. Laforey, Bart.      3    20
_Britannia_        100   Rear-Ad. Earl Northesk    10    42
                            Captain Charles Bullen
_Africa_            64   Henry Digby               18    44
                                                  ---   ---
                                                  154   383
                                                  ---   ---

FRIGATES.

Ships.            Guns.     Commanders.
_Euryalus_          36   Hon. H. Blackwood
_Sirius_            36   William Prowse
_Phoebe_            36   Hon. T.B. Capel
_Naiad_             38   T. Dundas
_Pickle_            12   Lieut. J.R. Lapenotiere
_Intreprenante_     12   Lieut. R.B. Young
   (cutter)


REAR, OR LEE COLUMN.

Ships.            Guns.     Commanders.         Killed. Wounded
_Royal Sovereign_  100   Vice-Ad. Collingwood      47    94
                              Captain E. Rotherham
_Mars_              74   George Duff               29    69
_Belleisle_         74   William Hargood           33    93
_Tonnant_           80   Charles Tyler             26    50
_Bellerophon_       74   John Cooke                27   133
_Colossus_          74   J.N. Morris               40   160
_Achille_           74   Richard King              13    59
_Polyphemus_        64   Robert Redmill             2     4
_Revenge_           74   R. Moorsom                28    51
_Swiftsure_         74   W.G. Rutherford            9     7
_Defence_           74   George Hope                7    29
_Thunderer_         74   Lieut. J. Stockham         4    16
_Prince_            98   Richard Grindall          --    --
_Defiance_          74   P.C. Durham               17    53
_Dreadnought_       98   John Conn                  7    26
                                                  ---   ---
                                                  263   794
                                                  ---   ---

NOTE.--Lieutenants Pilfold and Stockham were acting for Captains W.
Brown and Lechmere, absent on Sir R. Calder's trial; the Lieutenants,
W.P. Camby, of the _Bellerophon_, and W. Hannah, of the _Mars_, having
their Captains killed, the whole of these officers, with Lieutenant
Quillam, first of the _Victory_, were made Post immediately.


(_B_) A LIST OF THE COMBINED FLEET OF FRANCE AND SPAIN, SHOWING HOW
THEY WERE DISPOSED OF.

1. Spanish ship, _San Ildefonso_, 74 guns, Brigadier Don Joseph de
Varga, sent to Gibraltar.

2. Spanish ship, _San Juan Nepomuceno_, 74 guns, Brigadier Don Cosme
Cherruca, sent to Gibraltar.

3. Spanish ship, _Bahama_, 74 guns. Brigadier Don A.D. Galiano, sent
to Gibraltar.

4. French ship, _Swiftsure_, 74 guns, Monsieur Villemadrin, sent to
Gibraltar.

5. Spanish ship, _Monarca_, 74 guns, Don Teodoro Argumosa, wrecked off
San Lucar.

6. French ship, _Fougeux_, 74 guns, Monsieur Beaudouin, wrecked off
Trafalgar, all perished, and 30 of the _Téméraire's_ men.

7. French ship, _Indomitable_, 84 guns, Monsieur Hubart, wrecked off
Rota, all perished, said to have had 1,500 men on board.

8. French ship, _Bucentaure_, 80 guns, Admiral Villeneuve,
Commander-in-Chief, Captains Prigny and Magendie, wrecked on the
Porques, some of the crew saved.

9. Spanish ship, _San Francisco de Asis_, 74 guns, Don Luis de Flores,
wrecked near Rota.

10. Spanish ship, _El Rayo_, 100 guns, Brigadier Don Henrique
Macdonel, taken by _Donegal_, and wrecked near San Lucar.

11. Spanish ship, _Neptuno_, 84 guns, Brigadier Don Cayetano Valdes,
wrecked between Rota and Catalina.

12. French ship, _Argonaute_, 74 guns, Monsieur Epron, on shore in the
port of Cadiz. (By subsequent account not lost.)

13. French ship, _Berwick_, 74 guns, Monsieur Camas, wrecked to the
northward of San Lucar.

14. French ship, _Aigle_, 74 guns, Monsieur Courage, wrecked near
Rota.

15. French ship, _Achille_, 74 guns, Monsieur de Nieuport, burnt
during the action.

16. French ship, _Intrepide_, 74 guns, Monsieur Infernet, burnt by the
_Britannia_.

17. Spanish ship, _San Augustin_, 74 guns, Brigadier Don Felipe X.
Cagigal, burnt by the _Leviathan_.

18. Spanish ship, _Santissima Trinidad_, 140 guns, Rear-Admiral Don
Baltazar H. Cisneros, Brigadier Don F. Uriate, sunk by the _Prince_
and _Neptune_.

19. French ship, _Redoubtable_, 74 guns, Monsieur Lucas, sunk astern
of the _Swiftsure_; _Téméraire_ lost 13, and _Swiftsure_ 5 men, in
her.

20. Spanish ship, _Argonauta_, 80 guns, Don Antonio Parejo, sunk by
the _Ajax_.

21. Spanish ship, _Santa Anna_, 112 guns, Vice-Admiral Don Ignacio
D'Alava, Captain Don Joseph de Guardequi, taken, but got into Cadiz in
the gale, dismasted.

22. French ship, _Algeziras_, 74 guns, Rear-Admiral Magon (killed),
Captain Monsieur Bruaro, taken, but got into Cadiz in the gale,
dismasted.

23. French ship, _Pluton_, 74 guns. Monsieur Cosmao, returned to
Cadiz in a sinking state.

24. Spanish ship, _San Juste_, 74 guns, Don Miguel Caston, returned to
Cadiz, has a foremast only.

25. Spanish ship, _San Leandro_, 64 guns, Don Joseph de Quevedo,
returned to Cadiz, dismasted.

26. French ship, _Le Neptune_, 84 guns, Monsieur Maistral, returned to
Cadiz, perfect.

27. French ship, _Le Heros_, 74 guns, Monsieur Poulain, returned to
Cadiz, lower masts standing, hoisted Admiral Rossily's flag.

28. Spanish ship, _Principe de Asturias_, 112 guns, Admiral Gravina,
Captain Don Antonio Escano, returned to Cadiz, dismasted.

29. Spanish ship, _Montanez_, Don Francisco Alcedo, returned to Cadiz.

30. French ship. _Formidable_, 80 guns, Rear-Admiral Dumanoir, escaped
to the southward, with the three following.

31. French ship, _Montblanc_, 74 guns, Monsieur Villegries.

32. French ship, _Scipion_, 74 guns. Monsieur Berouger.

33. French ship, _Du Guay Trouin_, 74 guns. Monsieur Toufflet.

ABSTRACT

At Gibraltar              4
Destroyed                15
In Cadiz                 10
Escaped                   4
                         --
                         33
                         --

FOOTNOTES:

[1] BATTLE OF ABOUKIR.

At the battle of Aboukir Bay the British losses were reported to be
896 killed and wounded. Only one captain fell. 5,225 of the French
perished, and 3,105, including wounded, were sent on shore.

When the battle was over, Nelson gave instructions that thanksgiving
aboard every ship should be offered to Almighty God for giving His
Majesty's forces the victory. It is the author's opinion that but for
a good deal of slashing genius and not a little of the devil on the
part of Nelson and his men the French would not have fared so badly.

[2] Portraits painted by poor Romney for £40, or less, sell for many
thousands at Christie's in these days.

[3] Italics are the author's.

[4] Italics are the author's.

[5] Some authorities speak of Sir William Hamilton as being an
amiable, accomplished man, who left on record a letter which reads as
follows:--"My study of antiquities has kept me in constant thought of
the perpetual fluctuation of everything. The whole art is really to
live all the _days_ of our life. Admire the Creator and all His works,
to us incomprehensible, and do all the good you can on earth; and take
the chance of eternity without dismay."

[6] Sir Harris Nicolas is inclined to believe in the purity of
Nelson's attachment and Southey says there is no reason to believe
that it was more than platonic. But these views are certainly not
borne out by those who knew Nelson and his connection with the
Hamiltons intimately.

[7] The name by which Nelson speaks of her occasionally in his
correspondence with Lady Hamilton. His daughter bore this name before
his death, but he desired that afterwards she should drop the name of
Thompson.

[8] "Correspondence and Diaries of John Wilson Croker," vol. ii. p.
233.

[9] O'Meara, vol. i. p. 308.

[10] O'Meara, "Voice from St. Helena," vol. ii. p. 229. "Talks of
Napoleon at St. Helena," Gourgand, p. 118.

[11] The body was first seen floating by a Neapolitan fisherman, who
reported the matter, but his story was ridiculed. Finally, in order to
verify the statement, the principal actors in the shameful tragedy
went for a sail in Naples Bay and soon met the body borne along by the
swift current as though to meet them. The incident created a profound
impression at the time.

[12] This girl of twenty-two, who is known to fame and immortality,
purchased a dagger, and called on Marat, who was the most infamous
arch-butcher of the Reign of Terror. He was in his bath at the time,
but this did not prevent her from making her way to him. He wrote down
the names of the conspirators she told him of having seen in Normandy,
and he told her he would swiftly have them guillotined. The assurance
had scarcely left his lips when in an instant she thrust the
instrument of death through his heart. She repudiated the stigma of
being thought a murderess, and believed that her act would be the
means of saving thousands of lives. She was dragged through the
streets, taken to the executioner, and asked for the loan of his
shears and cut off a lock of her hair. When asked if she found the
journey long, she replied with perfect composure, "Oh no, I am not
afraid of being too late." Subsequently one of the Girondin deputies
said of her, "She has killed us, but she has taught all how to die."

[13] TROUBRIDGE'S BLUFF LETTER TO LORD NELSON.

    "Pardon me, my Lord, it is my sincere esteem for you that makes
    me mention it. I know you have no pleasure in sitting up all
    night at cards; why then sacrifice your health, comfort, purse,
    ease, everything, to the customs of a country where your stay
    cannot be long? I would not, my Lord, reside in this country for
    all Sicily. I trust the war will soon be over, and deliver us
    from a nest of everything that is infamous, and that we may
    enjoy the smiles of our countrywomen.

    "Your Lordship is a stranger to half that happens, or the talk
    it occasions; if you knew what your friends feel for you, I am
    sure you would cut all the nocturnal parties. Gambling of the
    people at Palermo is publicly talked of everywhere. I beseech
    your Lordship leave off. I wish my pen could tell you my
    feelings, I am sure you would oblige me.

    "I trust your Lordship will pardon me; it is the sincere esteem
    I have for you that makes me risk your displeasure."

No reply, so far as is known, was ever sent to this outspoken letter.

[14] Castlereagh and Canning fought a duel. Canning was wounded by a
bullet in the leg, and it prevented Castlereagh from being an
unpopular figure. Indeed, he became for a time, in limited circles,
popular. Percival was assassinated. Lord Liverpool was Prime Minister
for fifteen years, and departed this life insane. Canning was
brilliant, witty, and eloquent, and his outlook was large. It was said
that he was spoiled by Pitt, and was consumed by vanity, and was
broken by Tory calumniation. Political, commercial, or social intrigue
success is always followed by the most deadly reaction on those who
practise or encourage it, and I trust that a merciful Providence will
shield from the tragedies and maladies that came to some members of
this former coalition those of the present, which apparently excels
every other in its colossal efforts at doing harm. The best brains are
needed now, not romancers.

[15] Subsequent information has proved this statement wanted
confirmation.

[16] Captain John Clavell, then first lieutenant of the _Royal
Sovereign._

[17] The lamented Sir Peter Parker, Bart., who fell in the
_Chesapeake_ in 1814, when captain of the _Menelaus_, leading his men
against the Americans.

[18] "Napoleon in Exile," vol. i. p. 56.



NAPOLEON AND HIS CONNECTION WITH THE WORLD-WAR (1914-1918)


NAPOLEON'S FAREWELL FROM THE FRENCH

    Farewell to the Land, where the gloom of my Glory
    Arose and o'ershadowed the earth with her name--
    She abandons me now--but the page of her story,
    The brightest or blackest, is fill'd with my fame.
    I have warred with a world which vanquished me only
    When the meteor of conquest allured me too far;
    I have coped with the nations which dread me thus lonely,
    The last single Captive to millions in war.

    Farewell to thee, France! when thy diadem crown'd me,
    I made thee the gem and the wonder of earth,
    But thy weakness decrees I should leave as I found thee,
    Decay'd in thy glory, and sunk in thy worth.
    Oh! for the veteran hearts that were wasted
    In strife with the storm, when their battles were won--
    Then the Eagle, whose gaze in that moment was blasted,
    Had still soar'd with eyes fixed on victory's sun!

    Farewell to thee, France!--but when Liberty rallies
    Once more in thy regions, remember me then,--
    The violet still grows in the depths of thy valleys;
    Though wither'd, thy tears will unfold it again--
    Yet, yet, I may baffle the hosts that surround us,
    And yet may thy heart leap awake to my voice--
    There are links which must break in the chain that has bound us,
    Then turn thee and call on the Chief of thy choice!



I

Napoleon, when at the height of his fame, was looked upon by the
European Powers as a man whose lust of conquest was a terrible menace
to all constituted authority. The oligarchies thought themselves bound
to combine against him in order to reseat the Bourbons on the throne
of France and restore law and order to that distracted country. What a
travesty of the actual facts!

The people of France had risen against the tyranny and oppression of
the French kings and nobles, and out of the welter of the Revolution
Napoleon rose to power and, by his magnetic personality, welded the
chaotic elements into unity, framed laws which are still in operation,
and led his country to wonderful heights of glory.

Well may the crowned heads of Europe have feared this man, whose
genius put all their mediocre and unenlightened achievements in the
shade. Had they been blessed with the same vision as he, they would
not have opposed but co-operated with him, by introducing into their
own constitutions saner laws such as some of those in the Code
Napoleon. But instead of this, they began a campaign of Press
vilification, and Napoleon's every act was held up as the deed of a
monster of iniquity. Plots, open and secret, to dethrone him were
continually in progress, only to be frustrated by the genius of the
man of the people.

As an instance of this, and of the one-sided view taken by all ranks
and classes of Napoleon's opponents, let us contrast two cases which
are in some respects parallel. The many plots to assassinate the First
Consul--especially the one that very nearly succeeded when he was on
his way to the opera--and the knowledge that an organized band of
conspirators were in red-hot activity and, headed by the Duc
d'Enghien, Cadoudal, Moreau, and Pichegru, were determined to kill the
head of the State, overthrow the Government, and re-establish the
Bourbon dynasty, caused the Duc to be arrested, tried by his
fellow-countrymen, and found guilty of the charges brought against
him, and, by the blundering of Savary, afterwards Duke of Rovigo, and
the persistence of Murat, the death penalty was carried out and he was
shot. Had he been permitted to live another twenty-four hours,
Napoleon would unquestionably have pardoned him, though he never
doubted the justice of the sentence. Much political capital has been
made in this country against Napoleon for even sanctioning his arrest
and in not preventing the capital sentence of the court from being
carried out.[19]

Unquestionably Napoleon regretted the execution, and would have
granted a free pardon had some one not blundered or been too zealous
in what they conceived to be his and the country's best interests.
Almost every writer on this subject is strong in his condemnation of
the execution and of Napoleon for not taking surer steps to prevent
it. But in judging him in regard to this matter, it is only fair to
take into account that he was the ruler of a great empire. Whether he
became so by force or not, does not matter; he saved the Revolution,
and had already brought some form of order out of bloody chaos.

He had already become the popular head of the French nation, and it
devolved upon him to take the most minute precautions against the
disturbing effects of the secret and avowed conspirators who directed
their operations against his life and the overthrow of his government
from London. The precautions taken were drastic, skilfully organized,
and far-reaching, and his agents kept him advised of the danger that
continually beset him. Even though he had no thought of reprieving
the Duc, and deliberately allowed him to be shot, the act of
self-preservation, extreme though it may appear, can hardly be termed,
under the circumstances, unwarranted. It was a period of wild,
uncontrollable passion, and the survivors of the old aristocracy hated
the man of genius who had risen to power from the ranks of the people
to take the place of the Bourbons. This was the canker that stimulated
their enmity.

Had the Duc d'Enghien kept himself aloof from conspirators, and been
willing to recognize the facts he would never have been molested. He
took the risk of co-operating with desperate men, and paid the penalty
by being shot on the 24th March, 1804, at 6.0 a.m., at Vincennes. Had
the ruler of any state in Europe carried out a death-sentence for the
same reason and under the same circumstances, it would have been
regarded as well-merited punishment, and the Press would have preached
the gospel of warning to evil doers. But with Napoleon it was
different. He was an interloper who had nothing in common with the
galaxy of monarchs who ruled Europe at that time. Subsequently they
licked his boots, not for love, but through fear. The shooting of the
Duc was a fine opportunity for his enemies. They sedulously nursed the
Press, published books and pamphlets in every language, and employed
the most poisoned pen that could be bought to portray the future ruler
of kings in terms of obloquy. The performance of the scribes who
direct the pen, which is said to be mightier than the sword, is enough
to kill any one with a real sense of humour. Some of the literary
productions which were to send the greatest of living men off the face
of the earth are quite grotesque in their feminine, shrill advocacy of
force towards the "eater of pigs"; the "Anti-Christ"; and the murderer
of a kindly-disposed gentleman who was on an innocent visit to the
frontier of France for the purpose of negotiating a few private
matters that had no political significance; what if he were one of the
leaders of a band of fine, desperate fellows who had combined, and
sworn to rid France of the Usurper, even at the risk of death! This
being their aim and heroic determination, they had no ground of
complaint if the iron hand which ruled the country took measures to
prevent them from carrying out their beneficent intentions. Of course,
I give the sense and not the actual words of the gallant writers of
that time who, with a glare in their lion eye (judging from the style
of their vapourings), thought that Napoleon could never survive so
vigorous a stream of invective! What loose fabrications have been
scattered over the earth about this regrettable incident, and what
abominable cant has been sent forth extolling the virtues of men like
the unfortunate Duc, who put the law at defiance by secretly carrying
out a purpose that he knew was pregnant with danger to himself!

Let us contrast, if we can, the Duc d'Enghien's reckless gamble, the
consequences of which have been used so consistently to blacken the
fame of the Emperor Napoleon, with Nelson's connection with the
hanging of the rebel prince Carraciolli; of the latter little has been
said, though the shooting of the Duc seems to have been more
justifiable than the hanging of the prince, who was an old man. Both
were tried and condemned to death by men who, it is said, were
prejudiced against them. Nelson could have saved the aged Admiral had
his heart been free from revenge and his mind free from the influence
of Emma Hamilton. The guilt of the Admiral's death must eternally lie
at his door. The outrage can never be effaced, and must for all time
be associated with the mean executioners who, to begin with, had
naught but vengeance in their minds. Nelson was an Englishman
entrusted with England's high sense of honour and love of compassion,
and in its name he stained its reputation for fair dealing. On
entering the Bay of Naples, a flag of truce was flying at the
mast-head of the _Seahorse_ and at the castles of Nuovo and Uovo. The
treaty had been ratified by Captain Foote, a high-minded officer.[20]
Nelson did not approve of the truce, nor did Lady Hamilton, who was
aboard the _Foudroyant_. One can almost see this brazen figure
standing on the quarterdeck of this British ship of war calling out to
Nelson, "Haul down the flag of truce, Bronte. There must be no truce
with rebels." It almost takes one's breath away to think that a man
in Nelson's position should have allowed private feelings to enter
into and influence his professional duty. Every now and again we get
glimpses of this blatant paramour of his being allowed to assert
herself in matters which involved the honour of Great Britain. We are
anxious to believe that Nelson put some limit to this lady's
interference in matters of high naval policy, but he seems to have
been such a fool with women that almost anything ridiculous can be
believed of him where they were concerned. Both of them figure badly
in the Uovo and Nuovo and Carraciolli affair. The garrison there was
so vigorously bombarded that it was driven to capitulate, but only on
condition that the safety of the garrison would be guaranteed. Captain
Foote at once agreed to this, and to see that it was duly carried out.
One of the reasons that led Captain Foote so readily to agree to the
conditions submitted to him was the extreme strength of the forts,
which could have pounded the city to pieces. The other was the desire
to spare human life. What need was there for Nelson to take umbrage at
and violate the treaty made by Foote in the British name? Foote had
made a good bargain by getting possession of the forts, and a better
and nobler one in making it part of his policy to save human life. We
wonder whether Nelson's anger did not arise from his being deprived of
some of the glory himself. He was desperately fond of it! In any case,
he let down England's name badly over the whole transaction.

Fox made a speech on it in the House of Commons which was, and will
ever continue to be, an awful indictment. There is nothing in the
French Revolution, or in the whole of Napoleon's career, that can be
compared with it for ferocity. Great efforts were made to fix the
responsibility for breach of faith on Captain Foote, but they failed,
since there was not a vestige of foundation on which a case could be
made against him, as the documents conclusively proved. He demanded a
court-martial, but his friends prevailed upon him to let his case rest
on the conclusive facts which were produced and made public and which
have never been questioned. There cannot be found a more astonishing
revelation of perfidy or inhuman violence in the archives of Europe
than that related by Mr. Fox. Here is an extract from his amazing
speech:--

    When the right honourable gentleman speaks of the last campaign,
    he does not mention the horrors by which some of these successes
    were accompanied; Naples, for instance, has been, among others
    (what is called) delivered; and yet, if I am rightly informed,
    it has been stained and polluted by murders so ferocious, and
    cruelties so abhorrent, that the heart shudders at the recital.
    It has been said, that not only were the miserable victims of
    the rage and brutality of the fanatics savagely murdered, but
    that in many instances their _flesh_ was _devoured_ by the
    cannibals, who are the advocates, if the rumours which are
    circulated be true. I will mention a fact to give Ministers the
    opportunity, if it be false, to wipe away the stain that must
    otherwise affix on the British name. It is said that a party of
    the Republican inhabitants at Naples took shelter in the
    fortress of Castle del Uovo. They were besieged by a detachment
    from the royal army, to whom they refused to surrender, but
    demanded that a British officer should be brought forward, and
    to him they capitulated. They made terms with him under the
    sanction of the British name. _It was agreed that their persons
    and property should be safe, and that they should be conveyed to
    Toulon._ They were accordingly put on board a vessel, but before
    they sailed, their property was confiscated, numbers of them
    taken out, _thrown into dungeons_, and some of them, I
    understand, notwithstanding the British guarantee, _absolutely
    executed_.[21]

This appalling narrative, which was never refuted, is really too
horrible to ponder over. It puts in the shade any responsibility
Napoleon had for the death of the Duc d'Enghien. It is needless to
enlarge on the silly and altogether baseless attacks that were not
only allowed to be made, but, we have good grounds for stating, were
manufactured by members of the Government and their agents, and
circulated for the purpose of distracting the public mind from their
own iniquities, and inflaming bitter passions and prejudices by
accusing Napoleon of deeds of blood for which he was in no greater
degree responsible than were they. The nations were all out for blood
at that period (just as they are now), and each claimed a monopoly of
all the virtues. "Down, down, with the French is my constant prayer,"
shouts our greatest hero, and by way of addendum, he announces in
Christ-like accents that he hates a Frenchman as he hates the devil.
"Down, down, with the British is our constant prayer" shout back the
French, who are at present our Allies against another nation who were
our Allies against them at that time, showing that Fraternity is
decidedly a possible consummation, though it fluctuates from one to
another with amazing eccentricity.

In the name of this fraternal spirit, we see the great Napoleon
surrounded by a hotbed of assassins demanding his life in the name of
the Founder of our faith. He was the ruler, as I have said, of a vast
Empire, sworn to protect its laws, its dignity, and its citizen rights
by defending himself and his country against either treachery,
plotters against his life, or open enemies, no matter from what
quarter they came. The Duc d'Enghien violated the law, and was
therefore as liable to suffer the consequences as any peasant or
middle-class person would have been. But this did not meet with the
approval of the international oligarchy, so they set up a screaming
factory and blared this murderous deed into the minds of all the
Western world. These fervent professors of the Christian faith were in
no way particular as to the form or authenticity of their declamatory
ebullitions.

But what of Nelson? He was a subject of his King, employed by the
King's Government under certain plenary powers to fight the country's
battles, defend its right, uphold its dignity, guard its honour, and
commit no violence. That is, in plain English, he was to play the
game. But he assumed an authority that no Government of England would
have dared to have given him by revoking the word of honour of a
distinguished officer who had pledged England's word that the lives of
the beleaguered men would be spared. I think the writer of the gospel
of "Let brotherly love continue," and the rhetoricians who claim that
Britons have no competitors in the science of moral rectitude, will
have a hard task to square the unworthy declamations against
Napoleon's responsibility in the Duc d'Enghien affair with their
silence on Nelson's in breaking the truce already referred to, and the
awful consequences set forth in Mr. Fox's speech, which is reminiscent
of the powerful disciplinary methods of that manly martinet Ivan the
Terrible, who was responsible for the massacre of men by the thousand,
flaying of prisoners alive, collecting pyramids of skulls,
slaughtering of innocent men, and the free use of other ingenious
forms of refined scientific torture which tires the spirit to relate.
It is hard to forgive Nelson for having smirched his own and England's
name with atrocities so terrible. But more humiliating still to
British honour is the fact that his part in the breaking of the treaty
was dictated to him from the quarter deck of the _Foudroyant_ by a
woman whom my vocabulary is unable to describe in fitting terms. I
shall emphasize this masculine female's orders to Nelson by quoting
them again. Were it not for the comic impertinence of the order, I
think it would almost make me feel the bitterness of death. Nelson
seems to have been the victim of her dominating spirit, though the
evidence in support of him swallowing the whole dose of medicine is
quite feeble. That he swallowed too much of it will always detract
from his fame. "Haul down the flag of truce, Bronte. No truce with
rebels." Nelson lost a great opportunity of adding romance to his
naval glory by neglecting his imperative duty in not putting Sir
William Hamilton's wife in irons or having her thrown into the sea. A
story of this kind would have sounded better, and its effect would
have electrified the world in subsequent days, and have given scope to
the talents of actors and authors who are eager for dramatic copy.

I think Cardinal Ruffo would have been a supporter of imposing some
form of disciplinary restraint on Emma Hamilton. He did strongly
insist on the treaty being honourably adhered to, but his view was
overruled, and he retired in consequence in bitter indignation.

So much for the vaunted fairness and impartiality of our treatment of
Napoleon!

It is only when we come to study the life of this man that we realize
how he towered above all his contemporaries in thought, word, and
deed. Napoleon's authentic doings and sayings are wonderful in their
vast comprehensiveness and sparkling vision, combined with flawless
wisdom. When we speak or think of him, it is generally of his military
genius and achievements and of what we term his "gigantic ambition";
and in this latter conclusion the platitudinarians, with an air of
originality, languidly affirm that this was the cause of his ruin, the
grandeur of which we do not understand. But never a word is said or
thought of our own terrible tragedies, nor of the victories we were
compelled to buy in order to secure his downfall. His great gifts as a
lawgiver and statesman are little known or spoken of. Nelson's views
of him were of a rigid, stereotyped character. He only varied in his
wild manner of describing him as a loathsome despot, whose sole aim
was to make war everywhere and to invade England and annihilate her
people.


II

In the light of what is happening now in the world-war 1914-1917, and
the world-wide views expressed about the German Kaiser, it may be
interesting to write Pitt's opinion of Napoleon, though they are
scarcely to be mentioned in the same breath. The former, who is the
creator of the world-tragedy, is a mere shadow in comparison to the
great genius of whom Müller, the Swiss historian, says: "Quite
impartially and truly, as before God, I must say that the variety of
his knowledge, the acuteness of his observations, the solidity of his
understanding (not dazzling wit), his grand and comprehensive views,
filled me with astonishment, and his manner of speaking to me with
love for him. By his genius and his disinterested goodness, he has
also conquered me." But I give another authority, Wieland, the German
author, who was disillusioned when he had the honour of a conversation
with Napoleon on the field of Jena. Amongst the many topics they spoke
of was the restoration of public worship in France by Napoleon. In his
reply to the German writer as to why religion was not more
philosophical and in harmony with the spirit of the times, Napoleon
replied, "My dear Wieland, religion is not meant for philosophers!
They have no faith either in me or my priests. As to those who do
believe, it would be difficult to give them, or leave them too much of
the marvellous. If I had to frame a religion for philosophers, it
would be just the reverse of that of the credulous part of mankind."
Wieland's testimony of Napoleon is quite as appreciative as that of
Müller, and coming from him to the great conqueror of his native land
makes it an invaluable piece of impartial history which reverses the
loose and vindictive libels that were insidiously circulated by a gang
of paid scoundrels in order to prejudice public opinion against him.
Wieland, among other eulogies of him, says: "I have never beheld any
one more calm, more simple, more mild or less ostentatious in
appearance; nothing about him indicated the feeling of power in a
great monarch." He conversed with him for an hour and a half, "to the
great surprise of the whole assembly."

Here we have a brief but very high testimony from two men of literary
distinction, who had formed their impressions by personal contact. The
present writer's belief is that had members of the British Government
been guided by reason and sound judgment instead of blind, wicked
prejudice; had they accepted overtures made to them from time to time
by the head of the French nation during his rule, we should not have
been engaged during the last five years in a world-war watering the
earth with the blood of our race with reckless extravagance. The great
soldier-statesman foretold what would happen. What irony that we
should be in deadly conflict with the Power which, as an ally, helped
to destroy him and is now engaged in frantic efforts to destroy us!
Had Pitt and those who acted with him been endowed with human wisdom,
he would not have written the following lines, but would have held out
the olive-branch of peace and goodwill to men on earth:--

    I see (says Pitt in a scrap of MS. found amongst his papers)
    various and opposite qualities--all the great and all the little
    passions unfavourable to public tranquillity united in the
    breast of one man, and of that man, unhappily, whose personal
    caprice can scarce fluctuate for an hour without affecting the
    destiny of Europe. I see the inward workings of fear struggling
    with pride in an ardent, enterprising, and tumultuous mind. I
    see all the captious jealousy of conscious usurpation, dreaded,
    detested, and obeyed, the giddiness and intoxication of splendid
    but unmerited success, the arrogance, the presumption, the
    selfwill of unlimited and idolized power, and more dreadful than
    all in the plenitude of authority, the restless and incessant
    activity of guilt, but unsated ambition.

This scrap of mere phrases indicates a mind that was far beneath the
calibre of that of a real statesman. It was a terrible fate for Great
Britain to have at the head of the Government a man whose public life
was a perpetual danger to the state. Had Pitt been the genius his
eloquence led his contemporaries to believe he was, he would have
availed himself of the opportunities the Great Figure, who was making
the world rock with his genius, afforded the British Government from
time to time of making peace on equitable terms. But Pitt's vision of
the large things that constituted human existence was feeble and
narrowed down to the nightmare of the "tumultuous mind" whose sole
aim was the conquest of the Continent of Europe and the invasion of
these Islands. The "usurper" must be subdued by the force of arms, the
squandering of British wealth, and the sanguinary sacrifice of human
lives. That was the only diplomacy his mental organism could evolve.
He used his power of expression, which was great, to such good purpose
that his theories reflected on his supporters. Had Pitt been talented
in matters of international diplomacy, as he was in the other affairs
of Government, he would have seized the opportunity of making the
Peace of Amiens universal and durable. It is futile to contend that
Napoleon was irreconcilable. His great ambition was to form a concrete
friendship with our Government, which he foresaw could be fashioned
into a continental arrangement, intricate and entangled as all the
elements were at the time. Napoleon never ceased to deplore the
impossibility of coming to any reciprocal terms with England so long
as Pitt's influence was in the ascendant, and he and a large public in
France and in this country profoundly believed that Fox had not only
the desire but the following, and all the diplomatic qualities to
bring it about. Any close, impartial student of history, free from the
popular prejudices which assailed Napoleon's origin and advent to
power, cannot but concede the great possibilities of this view.

It was only statesmen like Fox who had unconfused perception, and
inveighed against the stupidity of ministers acclaimed by an ignorant
public as demigods. Napoleon's starting-points were to "Surmount
great obstacles and attain great ends. There must be prudence, wisdom,
and dexterity." "We should," he said, "do everything by reason and
calculation, estimating the trouble, the sacrifice, and the pleasure
entailed in gaining a certain end, in the same way as we work out any
sum in arithmetic by addition and subtraction. But reason and logic
should be the guiding principle in all we do. That which is bad in
politics, even though in strict accordance with law, is inexcusable
unless absolutely necessary, and whatever goes beyond that is
criminal." These were briefly the general principles on which he
shaped his ends, and they are pretty safe guides. His mentality, as I
have said, was so complete that it covered every subtle and charming
form of thought and knowledge, even to the smallest affairs of life.
No theologians knew more than he or could converse so clearly on the
many different religions; and he was as well versed in the intricacies
of finance and civil law as he was in the knowledge of art,
literature, and statecraft.

His memory was prodigious, and a common saying of his was that "A head
without a memory was like a fort without a garrison." He never used a
word that was not full of meaning. The unparalleled amount of
literature that surrounds his name teems with concise, vivid sentences
on every conceivable subject, and the more they are read and studied,
the more wonderful appears their wisdom. On the eve of a great battle,
his exhortations to his soldiers were like magic, burning hot into
their souls, making them irresistible. The popular idea in the
country in his time, when passion ran rampant, and indeed, in a hazy
way, affects some people's minds now, was that he and his family were
mere perfidious Corsicans without mental endowments or character, and
unworthy of the stations in life in which his genius had placed them.
His sisters have been caricatured as having the manners of the
kitchen, and loose morals, and his brothers as mediocrities. A great
deal of the same stuff is now written about other people who have
occupied and do occupy high stations in life.

Here is Napoleon's own version of each of his brothers and sisters and
of his mother. It was given in course of conversation to Las Cases at
St. Helena. "The Emperor," he says, "speaks of his people; of the
slight assistance he has received at their hands, and of the trouble
they had been to him; he goes on to say that for the rest, we should
always, as a last resort, endeavour to form a judgment by analogy.
What family, in similar circumstances, would have done better? And,
after all, does not mine furnish, on the whole, a record which does me
honour? Joseph would be an ornament to society wherever he might
happen to reside; Lucien, an ornament to any political assembly;
Jerome, had he come to years of discretion, would have made an
excellent ruler; I had great hopes of him. Louis would have been
popular, and a remarkable man anywhere. My sister Elisa had a man's
intellect, a brave heart, and she would have met adversity
philosophically. Caroline is a very clever and capable woman.
Pauline, perhaps the most beautiful woman of her day, has been, and
will be until the end, the most charming creature living. As for my
mother, she is worthy of every respect. What family as numerous could
make a finer impression?"

If unprejudiced history counts for anything, this testimony is true,
and it is doubtful whether any of the ruling families of France who
preceded them, or even those of other countries, who took part in
bringing about their downfall (taking them as a whole), could tabulate
a better record of worthiness. Certainly no previous ruler of France
ever made the efforts that the head of the Bonaparte family did to
fashion his brothers and sisters into filling the positions he had
made for them in a way that became princes and princesses.

The fact is, the political mind was whirling and permeated with the
idea of his ambition only, and the human aversion to the introduction
of new and improved conditions of life. The ruling classes were seized
with alarm lest the spirit of the French Revolution would become
popular in this country, and that not only their possessions might be
confiscated, but that their lives would be in peril if the doctrines
he stood for were to take hold of the public imagination. They were
afraid, as they are now, of the despotism of democracy, and so they
kept the conflict raging for over twenty years. Then came the fall of
the greatest genius and most generous warrior-statesman who has ever
figured in the world's history; he had staggered creation with his
formidable power, and the instruments of his downfall flattered
themselves that the day of Divine vengeance had arrived.


III

Only a few short months had elapsed when the indomitable hero, well
informed of the Allies' squabbling deliberations, at the seat of
Conference over the division of their conquest, and their vindictive
intentions towards himself, startled them by the news of his landing
and uninterrupted march on Paris, and was everywhere acclaimed by the
cheers of the Army and the civilian population. Louis XVIII, whom the
conquerors had set on the throne, flew in panic when he heard that the
man of destiny was swiftly nearing his palace to take his place again
as the idol and chief of a great people. Meanwhile, the Allies had
somewhat recovered from their apoplectic dismay, and one and all
solemnly resolved to "make war against Napoleon Bonaparte," the
disturber of the peace, though he was the welcomed Emperor of the
French. It was they who were the disturbers of the peace, and
especially Great Britain, who headed the Coalition which was to drench
again the Continent with human blood. Napoleon offered to negotiate,
and never was there a more humane opportunity given to the nations to
settle their affairs in a way that would have assured a lasting peace,
but here again the ruling classes, with their usual impudent
assumption of power to use the populations for the purpose of killing
each other and creating unspeakable suffering in all the hideous
phases of warfare, refused to negotiate, and at their bidding soldiers
were plunged into the last Napoleonic conflict though many other
conflicts have followed in consequence. Nothing so deadly has ever
happened. The French were defeated and their Emperor sent to St.
Helena with the beneficent Sir Hudson Lowe as his jailer.

What a cynical mockery of a man this creature of Wellington,
Castlereagh, and Lord Bathurst was! He carried out their behests, and
after the ugly deed of vindictiveness, rage and frenzy had wrought the
tragic end, they shielded their wicked act by throwing the guilt on
him, and he was hustled off to a distant colony to govern again lest
his uneasy spirit should put them in the dock of public opinion. He
pleaded with them to employ the law officers of the Crown to bring an
action against Doctor Barry O'Meara, whose "Voice from St. Helena"
teemed with as dark a story as was ever put in print, in which he and
his coadjutors figured as the base contracting parties. And the more
he urged that the book was a libel against himself, the more O'Meara
demanded that the action against him should be brought, and for very
substantial reasons it never was. The Duke of Wellington said of Sir
Hudson, "He was a stupid man. A bad choice and totally unfit to take
charge of Bonaparte." And the great French Chieftain has left on
record his contemptuous opinion of the Duke, as I have already said.
"Un homme de peu d'esprit sans générosité, et sans grandeur d'âme."
(He was a poor-spirited man without generosity, and without greatness
of soul.) "Un homme borné." (A man of limited capacity.) His opinion
of Nelson was different, although our Admiral had hammered the French
sea power out of existence and helped largely to shatter any hope
Napoleon may have had of bringing the struggle on land to a successful
conclusion.

But these tragic happenings did not bring repose to the nations. Pitt
died in 1806, so he missed seeing the fulfilment of his great though
mistaken ambition. Who can doubt, as I have said, that the lack of
diplomatic genius in preventing the spreading of the Napoleonic wars
has been the means of creating other wars, and especially the greatest
of all, in which the whole world is now engaged!

That Napoleon himself was averse to a conflict which would involve all
Europe and bring desolation in its train is shown by the following
letter, written by his own hand, to George III. How different might
the world have been to-day had the letter been received in the same
spirit in which it was conceived.

    SIR AND BROTHER,--Called to the throne of France by Providence,
    and the suffrages of the Senate, the people, and the Army, my
    first sentiment is a wish for peace. France and England abuse
    their prosperity. They may contend for ages, but do their
    Governments well fulfil the most sacred of their duties, and
    will not so much bloodshed uselessly, and without a view to any
    end, condemn them in their own consciences? I consider it no
    disgrace to adopt the first step. I have, I hope, sufficiently
    proved to the world that I fear none of the chances of war,
    which presents nothing I have need to fear; peace is the wish of
    my heart, but war has never been inconsistent with my glory. I
    conjure your Majesty not to deny yourself the happiness of
    giving peace to the world, or leave that sweet satisfaction to
    your children; for certainly there never was a more fortunate
    opportunity nor a moment more favourable than the present, to
    silence all the passions and listen only to the sentiments of
    humanity and reason. This moment once lost, what bounds can be
    ascribed to a war which all my efforts will not be able to
    terminate. Your Majesty has gained more in ten years, both in
    territory and riches, than the whole extent of Europe. Your
    nation is at the highest point of prosperity, what can it hope
    from war? To form a coalition with some Powers on the Continent?
    The Continent will remain tranquil; a coalition can only
    increase the preponderance and continental greatness of France.
    To renew intestine troubles? The times are no longer the same.
    To destroy our finances? Finances founded on a flourishing
    agriculture can never be destroyed. To wrest from France her
    colonies? The colonies are to France only a secondary object;
    and does not your Majesty already possess more than you know how
    to preserve? If your Majesty would but reflect, you must
    perceive that the war is without an object; or any presumable
    result to yourself. Alas! What a melancholy prospect; to fight
    merely for the sake of fighting. The world is sufficiently wide
    for our two nations to live in, and reason sufficiently powerful
    to discover the means of reconciling everything, when a wish for
    reconciliation exists on both sides. I have, however, fulfilled
    a sacred duty, and one which is precious to my heart.

    I trust your Majesty will believe the sincerity of my
    sentiments, and my wish to give you every proof of the same,
    etc.

    (_Signed_) NAPOLEON.

This letter indicates the mind and heart of a great statesman. The
thinking people, and therefore the most reliable patriots, would
receive a similar appeal to-day from the Kaiser in a different spirit
than did the King and the Government of George III.

We believe that the war with Germany was forced upon us, and that Mr.
Asquith's Government, and especially Sir Edward Grey (his Foreign
Secretary) used every honourable means to avoid it, but the cause and
origin of it sprang out of the defects of managing and settling the
wars that raged at the beginning of the last century, and Pitt, aided
by those colleagues of his who were swayed by his magnetic influence,
are responsible to a large degree in laying the foundation of the
present menace to European concord. Napoleon's plan of unification
would have kept Prussian militarism in check. He looked, and saw into
the future, while Pitt and his supporters had no vision at all. They
played the Prussian game by combining to bring about the fall of the
monarch who should have been regarded as this country's natural ally,
and by undoing the many admirable safeguards which were designed to
prevent Prussia from forcing other German States under her dominion.
Napoleon predicted that which would happen, and has happened. He
always kept in mind the cunning and unscrupulous tricks of Frederick
and knew that if _his_ power were destroyed, that would be Prussia's
opportunity to renew the methods of the Hohenzollern scoundrel, the
hero of Thomas Carlyle, and the intermittent friend of Voltaire, who
made unprovoked war on Marie Theresa with that splendid Prussian
disregard for treaty obligations, and who then, with amazing
insolence, after the seven years' butchery was over, sat down at Sans
Souci in the companionship of his numerous dogs to write his memoirs
in which he states that "Ambition, interest, the desire of making
people talk about him carried the day, and he decided for war;" he
might have added to the majestic Hohenzollern creed, incurable
treachery, falsehood, hypocrisy, and cowardice!

But the law of retribution comes to nations as well as to individuals,
and after the disappearance of Frederick, Prussian ascendancy came to
an end and sank to the lowest depths of hopelessness before the
terrible power of Napoleon; after his fall, the old majestic arrogance
natural to their race began to revive. It took many years for the
military caste to carry their objectives to maturity, and had we stood
sensibly and loyally by our French neighbours, the tragedy that gapes
at us now could never have come to pass. Possibly the Franco-German
war would never have occurred had our foreign policy been skilfully
handled and our attitude wisely apprehensive of Germany's ultimate
unification and her aggressive aims. The generations that are to come
will assuredly be made to see the calamities wrought by the
administrators of that period, whose faculties consisted in hoarding
up prejudices, creating enmities, and making wars that drained the
blood and treasure of our land. We do not find a single instance of
Pitt or Castlereagh expressing an idea worthy of statesmanship. What
did either of these men ever do to uplift the higher phases of
humanity by grappling with the problem that had been brought into
being by the French Revolution?

When we think of responsible ministers having no other vision or plan
of coming to an understanding with the French nation except by their
screams, groans, and odour of blood, it makes one shudder, and we
wish to forget that the people allowed them to carry out their hideous
methods of settling disputes. A galaxy of brilliant writers has sung
their praises in profusion, but while the present writer admires the
literary charm of the penmen's efforts, he does not find their
conclusions so agreeable or so easy to understand. There was never a
time, in our opinion, even during the most embarrassing and darkest
phases of the Napoleonic struggle, in which our differences with
France were insoluble. Napoleon, as I have said, never ceased to avow
his willingness to make vital sacrifices in order that peace between
the two peoples should be consummated. The stereotyped cant of
maintaining the "Balance of Power" is no excuse for plunging a nation
into gruesome, cruel, and horrible wars. It is when our liberties are
threatened that circumstances may arise when it would be a crime not
to defend them. But where and when were any of our interests
threatened by Napoleon until we became the aggressors by interfering
with the policy of what he called his "Continental system"? Even
before Napoleon became Consul, First Consul, and subsequently Emperor
of the French, it was deemed high policy on the part of our statesmen
to take sides against the French Directorate in disputes that were
caused and had arisen on the Continent out of the Revolution, and once
involved in the entanglement which it is hard to believe concerned us
in any degree, the nation was committed to a long and devastating
debauch of crime which men who understood the real art of
statesmanship would have avoided.

Many of the famous statesmen who have lived since their time would
have acted differently. Fox, with a free hand, would have saved us,
and but for the senseless attitude of the Pitt-Castlereagh party, the
Grey, Romilly, Horner, Burdett and Tierny combination would have
prevented the last of Napoleon's campaigns between his return from
Elba and his defeat at Waterloo, which proved to be the bloodiest of
all the Emperor's wars.

Amongst a certain section of the community the belief is that they who
can steer the State along peaceful lines are mediocrities, and they
who involve us in war are geniuses and earn the distinction of fame
and Westminster Abbey, though it may be that they are totally void of
all the essentials that are required to keep on good terms, not only
with other Powers, but with our own masses. Take, first of all, the
unostentatious old Scotsman, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, who was
regarded in the light of a mediocrity by the bellicose-minded people.
Had he lived and been in power at the time of Pitt and Castlereagh,
his finely constituted, shrewd brain and quiet determined personality
would have guided the State in a way that would have brought it credit
and kept it out of the shambles. Another personality who is possessed
of attributes that have been scantily recognized is that of Lord
Rosebery who, during his Foreign Secretaryship under Mr. Gladstone,
and when he became Premier himself, saved this country more than once
from war with Germany, leaving out of account the many other services
rendered to his country. It is a tragedy to allow such merits to be
wasted because of some slight difference of opinion in matters that do
not count compared with the advantage of having at the head of affairs
a man with an unerring tactful brain who can deal with international
complexities with complete ease and assurance.

Although Mr. Gladstone must always be associated with those who were
responsible for the guilt of dragging this country, and perhaps
France, into the Crimean war in defence of a State and a people whom
he declared in other days should be turned out of Europe "bag and
baggage" because of her unwholesome Government and hideous crimes to
her subject races, _he_ had the courage and the honesty to declare in
later life that the part he took in allowing himself to acquiesce in a
policy he did not approve, would always be a bitter thought to him.
Had he been at the head of the Government then, and had he lived at
the time of the continental upheaval that followed the French
Revolution, all the evidences of his humane spirit and prodigious
capacity lead us to the belief that there were no circumstances
affecting our vital national interests that would have led him to take
up arms against France. Nor do we think that a statesman of Lord
Salisbury's stamp would have failed to find a way out. Disraeli was a
different type. He lived in a picturesque world, and thirsted for
sensation. The enormity of war was meaningless to him. He was not a
constitutional statesman, but merely a politician who liked to arouse
emotions. Mr. Asquith, whose head is free from the wafting of
feathers, would, with strong and loyal backers, have applied his
inimitable powers of persuasion and tact in accomplishing his ends
without a rupture; and Lord Morley would as soon have thought of
dancing a hornpipe on his mother's tomb as have yielded to the clamour
for war by any number of the people or any number of his colleagues,
no matter how numerous or how powerful they might be; even though his
opinion of the French Emperor were strongly adverse, he would have
angled for peace or resigned. I would rather place the guidance of the
country through intricate courses in this man's hands than in that of
a man mentally constituted as was Pitt. The present Viscount Grey
would have taken the line his namesake took in 1815 by strongly
advocating a peaceful solution.

Take another man of our own time, the Right Hon. Arthur Balfour. He
would have parleyed and schemed until the time had passed for any
useful object to be gained by our joining in the war, always provided
that the Jingo spirit were not too irrepressible for him to overpower
and bewilder with his engaging philosophy. If George III had been
blessed with these types of statesmen to advise him instead of the
Castlereaghs, he might not have lost his reason. Napoleon would never
have gone to Egypt, and our shores would never have been threatened
with invasion. Nor would British and neutral trade have been paralysed
in such a way as to bring in its wake ruin, riots, bankruptcies, and
every form of devastation in 1811. And as a natural corollary, we were
plunged into a war with America which lasted from 1812 to 1814, and
which left, as it well might, long years of bitter and vindictive
memories in the minds of a people who were of our race and kindred.
Our people as a whole (but especially the poorer classes) were treated
in a manner akin to barbarism, while their rulers invoked them to bear
like patriots the suffering they had bestowed upon them.

But the canker had eaten so deeply into their souls that it culminated
in fierce riots breaking out in Lancashire and London which spread to
other parts and were only suppressed by measures that are familiar to
the arrogant despots who, by their clumsy acts, are the immediate
cause of revolt. Pitt and Castlereagh were the High Commissioners of
the military spirit which the Whigs detested, and when the former died
in 1806 the latter became the natural leader.

Pitt was buried peaceably enough in the Abbey, but when his
successor's tragic end came in 1822, the populace avenged themselves
of the wrongs for which they believed he was responsible by throwing
stones at the coffin as it was being solemnly borne to its last
resting place beside William Pitt. Both men made war on Napoleon
because they believed him to be the implacable disturber of peace and
a danger to their country. Pitt, as we have seen, left among his MS.
his opinion of the great soldier, and here is the latter's opinion of
Pitt, expressed to his ministers on the eve of his leaving Paris for
his last campaign against his relentless foes.

    "I do not know," he said (to his ministers in speaking to them
    of the new constitution he had granted), "how in my absence you
    will manage to lead the Chambers. Monsieur Fouché thinks that
    popular assemblies are to be controlled by gaining over some old
    jobbers, or flattering some young enthusiasts. That is only
    intrigue, and intrigue does not carry one far. In England, such
    means are not altogether neglected; but there are greater and
    nobler ones. Remember Mr. Pitt, and look at Lord Castlereagh!
    With a sign from his eyebrows, Mr. Pitt could control the House
    of Commons, and so can Lord Castlereagh now! Ah! if I had such
    instruments, I should not be afraid of the Chambers. But have I
    anything to resemble these?"[22]

This piece of pathetic history is given to us by the French historian,
M. Thiers, the lifelong enemy of his Imperial master, Napoleon III. We
are faced now with the Power that we helped to build up against
ourselves at the expense of the wreck of the First French Empire.

The political situation then and now bears no comparison. We made war
on the French without any real justification, and stained our high
sense of justice by driving them to frenzy. We bought soldiers and
sailors to fight them from impecunious German and Hanoverian princes.
We subsidized Russia, Prussia, Austria, Portugal, Spain, and that foul
cesspool, Naples, at the expense of the starvation of the poorest
classes in our own country. The bellicose portion of the population,
composed mainly of the upper and middle classes, shrieked their
deluded terrors of extinction into the minds of the people and
believed that if we did not make common cause with the downtrodden
sanctified allies who were fighting a man-eating ogre who was
overrunning their respective countries, putting every one to the
sword, we should become the objects of his fierce attention, be
invaded and ground down to slavery for ever and ever. Our statesmen,
hypocritically full of the gospel of pity, could not speak of our ally
of other days without weeping, while at the same time pouring further
subsidies into their greedy traitorous laps, in order that they might
secure their co-ordination.

It is futile for historian apologists to attempt to vindicate men who
obviously were afflicted with moral cupidity, begotten of intellectual
paralysis. It is merely an unwholesome subterfuge to state that they
were free from enmity against the French nation, and that their
quarrel was with the head of it. There would be just as much common
sense in contending that the French Government had no hostile feeling
against the British people, and that their quarrel was only against
George III. Devices such as these, under any circumstances, are not
only unworthy, but childish, and their sole object is to throw dust in
the eyes of those they flippantly call the common people. As a matter
of fact, it was not only the Emperor Napoleon whom they made it their
policy to charge with being a public danger to the world, but the
principles of the Revolution which he sprang from obscurity to save,
which was slyly kept at the back of their heads.

But the Republic, which was the outcome of the Revolution, was an
approved ordinance of the people, and in addition to Napoleon being
their duly elected representative, he was regarded by them as the
incarnation of the Republic. The difference between him and the other
monarchs of Europe was, that while they inherited their position, his
election was democratically ratified by millions of votes. These votes
were given by the people with whom a foreign Government declared it
was at peace while at the same time it was at war with their Chief,
whom they had from time to time duly elected. This is a method of
warfare which represents no high form of thought or action, and to the
everlasting credit of the French people be it said, they not only
resented it, but stood loyally by their Emperor and their country
until they were overpowered by the insidious poison of treason and
intrigue from within and without.

What a howl there would have been if the German Kaiser had sent out a
proclamation that he was not at war with the British nation, but with
their King and Government! Suppose he had committed the same act of
arrogance towards the President of the United States, the revulsion of
feeling would be irrepressible in every part of the world.

We recognize at the same time that Napoleon's position was made
insecure by an important element of his own countrymen, composed of
the Bourbons and their supporters, who never ceased to intrigue for
their return. Besides, there was a strong Republican element who never
forgave him for allowing himself to become Emperor. But the most
serious defection was that of some of his most important Generals,
amongst whom were Marmont and Bertheur. The former subsequently
became the military tutor of his son, the King of Rome, who died at
Schonbrunn on the 22nd July, 1832, eleven years after his father's
death at St. Helena.

A notable fact is that there were very few of his common soldiers and
common people who did not stand by him to the last, and who would not
have continued the struggle under his trusted and revered generalship,
had he elected to fight on. He implored the Provisional Government to
give their sanction to this, and had they done so, he has stated that
he could have kept the Allies at bay and would have ultimately made
them sue for peace. Most authorities declare that this would have been
impossible, but his genius as a tactician was so prodigious and
unrivalled, his art of enthusing his soldiers so vastly superior to
that of any general that could be brought against him, his knowledge
of the country on which he might select to give battle so matchless
that one has substantial grounds for believing that his assertion was
more than a mere flash of imagination, and that even with the
shattered, loyal portion of his army, he might have succeeded in
changing defeat into a victory which would have changed the whole
political position of Europe. He frequently reverted to his last
campaign and his last battle at Waterloo, when he was in captivity at
St. Helena, and declared he should never have lost it, as his plan of
battle at every point was never better devised, and that by all the
arts of war he ought to have defeated the Allies; then he would lapse
into sadness and soliloquize, "It must have been fate."

In the effort to crush a cause and a nation which had been brought out
of the depths of anarchy and raised to the zenith of power by the
advent of a great spirit, the British Government of that period made
their country parties to the slaughter of thousands of our
fellow-creatures, which, in the light of subsequent events, has left a
stain upon our diplomacy that can never be effaced, no matter what
form of excuse may be set forth to justify it. Never, in the whole
history of blurred diplomatic vision, has there evolved so great a
calamity to the higher development of civilization.

By taking so prominent a part in preventing Napoleon from fulfilling
the eternal purpose for which all nature foreshadowed he was intended,
we made it possible for Germany to develop systematically a diabolical
policy of treason which has involved the world in war, drenching it
with human blood. The Allies pursued Napoleon to his downfall. Their
attitude during the whole course of his rule was senselessly
vindictive. They gloated over his misfortune when he became their
victim, and they consummated their vengeance by making him a martyr.
The exile of St. Helena acted differently. When he conquered, instead
of viciously overrunning the enemy's country and spreading misery and
devastation, he made what he wished to be lasting peace, and allowed
the sovereigns to retain their thrones. How often did he carry out
this act of generosity towards Prussia and Austria, and who can deny
that he did not act benevolently towards Alexander of Russia, when at
Austerlitz and Tilsit, he formed what he regarded as lasting personal
friendship with the Czar! It is all moonshine to say that he broke the
friendship. The power of Russia, Prussia, and Austria were hopelessly
wrecked more than once, and on each occasion they intrigued him into
war again, and then threw themselves at his feet, grovelling
supplicants for mercy, which he never withheld.

Well might he exclaim to Caulaincourt, his ambassador in 1814, when
the congress was sitting at Chatillon: "These people will not treat;
the position is reversed; they have forgotten my conduct to them at
Tilsit. Then I could have crushed them; my clemency was simple folly."

The nations who treated him with such unreasonable severity would do
well to reflect over the unfathomable folly of the past, and try to
realize, at the present stage of their critical existence, that it may
be possible that human life is reaping the agonies of a terrible
retribution for a crime an important public in every civilized country
believed, and still continues to believe, to have been committed. It
is a natural law of life that no mysterious physical force ever dies,
but only changes its form and direction. Individuals and vast
communities may dare to mock at the great mystery that we do not
understand. But it is a perilous experiment to defy its visitations.
What incalculable results may arise through taking the wrong attitude
towards the great laws that govern our being!

The autocratic rulers at the beginning of the last century were never
right in their views as to how the vastly greater image than their own
should be treated. They measured Napoleon and his loftier qualities by
their own tumultuous limitations, which prevented them from seeing how
wide the gulf was between him and the ordinary man. He was a magical
personality, and they failed to comprehend it.

Heinrich Heine, the great German writer, who was pro-Napoleon, has
told a vivid story of how he visited the East India Docks, while he
was in London, and there saw a large sailing vessel with a great
number of coloured people on board, Mohammedans for the most part. He
wished to speak to them but did not know their language. He was
particularly anxious to show them some courtesy if even, as he says,
in a single word, so he reverently called out the name "Mohammed." In
an instant the countenance of these strange people beamed with
pleasure, and with characteristic Eastern devotion bowed themselves
and shouted back to him "Bonaparte."

I have no thought, in writing of Napoleon, to draw a comparison
between him and the ex-Kaiser and his guilty coadjutors in crime, who
forced a peaceful world into unspeakable war. They have been guilty of
the foulest of murders, which will outmatch in ferocity every phase of
human barbarity. There can be no pardon or pity for them. They must
pay the penalty of their crimes, as other criminals have to do. The
following letter, addressed by William II to his late colleague in
guilt, the Emperor Joseph of Austria, is enough in itself to set the
whole world into a blaze of vengeance:--

    "My soul is torn," says this canting outcast, "but everything
    must be put to fire and sword, men, women, children, and old men
    must be slaughtered, and not a tree or house be left standing.
    With these methods of terrorism, which are alone capable of
    affecting a people so degenerate as the French, the war will be
    over in two months, whereas if I admit humanitarian
    considerations, it will last years. In spite of my repugnance, I
    have, therefore, been obliged to choose the former system."

It is hard to believe that a document of this kind could be written by
any one that was not far gone in lunacy, but in any case, I repeat it
is to be hoped that St. Helena will not be desecrated by sending him
to that hallowed abode.

It is never a difficult performance to become involved in war, and it
is always a tax on human genius to find a decent way out of it;
whether it be honourable or dishonourable does not matter to those who
believe in conflict as a solution of international disputes. History
can safely be challenged to prove that anything but wild wrath and
ruin is the unfailing outcome of war to all the belligerents, whether
few or many. More often than not, it is brought about by the exulting
chatter of a few irrepressible and also irresponsible individuals who
have military or political ambitions to look after, and no other
faculty of reason or vocabulary than the gibberish "that war will
clear the air." They ostentatiously claim a monopoly of patriotism;
and convey their views on war matters with a blustering levity which
is a marvel to the astonished soul. Their attitude towards human
existence is that you cannot be a patriot or create a great nation
unless you are bellicose and warlike.

This was the deplorable condition of mind that involved us in the wars
subsequent to the French Revolution. But the diplomatists (if it be
proper to call them such) and the oligarchy were responsible for the
ruptures at that period, and certainly not the general public. In
fact, it is doubtful whether the _general public_ are ever in favour
of breaking the peace. A minority may be, but they are the noisy and
unreflecting section. There is a wide difference between the
Napoleonic wars and that which was waged against the civilized world
by the German Kaiser and his military myrmidons, who have acted
throughout like wild beasts. There never has been perpetrated so
atrocious a crime as the deliberately planned military outrage on the
peace of the world.

The brief comparison between Kaiser William and Napoleon Bonaparte is
that the one, like Frederick, the hero of Thomas Carlyle, is a
shameless traitor to every act of human decency, and the other, in
spite of what biassed writers have thought it their duty to say of
him, was an unparalleled warrior-statesman, and his motives and
actions were all on the side of God's humanity and good government.
From the time he was found and made the head of the French nation, he
was always obliged to be on the defensive, and, as he stated, never
once declared war. The continental Great Powers always made war on
_him_, but not without his thrashing them soundly until they pleaded
in their humility to be allowed to lick his boots. You may search
English State papers in any musty hole you like, and you will find no
authoritative record that comes within miles of justifying the
opinions or the charges that have been stated or written against him.
Let us not commit the sacrilege, if he is ever made prisoner and is
not shot for the murders and cruelties he and his subjects have
committed on British men and women at sea and on land, of deporting
the Kaiser to St. Helena to desecrate the ground made sacred for all
time because of the great Emperor who was an exile there. Force of
circumstances made Louis Philippe declare the truth to the world's new
generations (doubtless to save his own precious skin) that "he was not
only an emperor, but a king from the very day that the French nation
called upon him to be their ruler." The kingly Louis would have given
worlds not to have been compelled to say this truth of him, but his
crown was at stake.

The Senate voted with enthusiasm that he should be First Consul for
ten years, and he replied to the vote of confidence that "Fortune had
smiled upon the Republic; but Fortune was inconstant; how many men,"
said he, "upon whom she has heaped her favours have lived too long by
some years, and that the interest of his glory and happiness seemed to
have marked the period of his public life, at the moment when the
peace of the world is proclaimed." Then with one of those spasmodic
impulses that compel attention, he darts an arrow right on the spot;
"If," he says, "you think I owe the nation a new sacrifice, I will
make it; that is, if the _wishes of the people_ correspond with the
command authorized by their suffrages." Always the suffrages, you
observe, and never the miserable, slandering, backbiting dodges of the
treasonists.

The mind of this remarkable man was a palatial storehouse of wise,
impressive inspirations. Here is one of countless instances where a
prejudiced adversary bears testimony to his power and wisdom. A few
Republican officers sought and were granted an audience, and the
following is a frank admission of their own impotence and Napoleon's
greatness: "I do not know," their spokesman says, "from whence or from
whom he derives it, but there is a charm about that man indescribable
and irresistible. I am no admirer of his." Such persons always preface
any statement they are about to make by asserting their own
superiority in this way, and the officers, who, with others, had many
imaginary grievances against Napoleon, determined to empty their
overburdened souls to him. This gallant person emphasizes the fact
that he dislikes "the power to which he (Napoleon) had risen," yet he
cannot help confessing (evidently with reluctance) that there is
something in him which seems to speak that he is born to command. "We
went into his apartment to expostulate warmly with him, and not to
depart until our complaints were removed. But by his manner of
receiving us we were disarmed in a moment, and could not utter one
word of what we were going to say. He talked to us with an eloquence
peculiarly his own, and explained with clearness and precision the
importance of pursuing the line of conduct he had adopted, never
contradicting us in direct terms, but controverted our opinions so
astutely that we had not a single word to offer in reply, and retired
convinced that he was in the right and that we were manifestly in the
wrong." It is a common delusion with little men to believe that they
are big with wisdom and knowledge, even after they have been ravelled
to shreds by a man of real ability. The French Republican officers
were condescendingly candid in giving the First Consul a high
character, and he, in turn, made these self-assertive gentlemen feel
abashed in his presence, and sent them about their business without
having made any unnatural effort to prove that they had had an
interview with a majestic personality, who had made articulation
impossible to them. I might give thousands of testimonies, showing the
great power this superman had over other minds, from the highest
monarchical potentate to the humblest of his subjects. The former were
big with a combination of fear and envy. They would deign to grovel at
his feet, slaver compliments, and deluge him with adulation (if he
would have allowed them), and then proceed to stab him from behind in
the most cowardly fashion. There are always swarms of human insects
whose habits of life range between the humble supplicant and the
stinging, poisonous wasps.

It would have been better for the whole civilized world had there
been more wisely clever men, such as Charles James Fox, in public life
in this and other countries during Napoleon's time. He was the one
great Englishman who towered above any of the ministers who were
contemporary with him in this country, and certainly no public man had
a finer instinct than he as to the policy Great Britain should observe
towards a nation that was being dragged out of the cesspool of
corruption and violence into a democratic grandeur of government that
was the envy of Continental as well as British antiquarians. Fox saw
clearly the manifest benefit to both countries if they could be made
to understand and not to envy each other. In 1802, Fox was received in
Paris like a highly popular monarch. The whole city went wild with the
joy of having him as the guest of France. He was the great attraction
at the theatres next to the First Consul, whom Fox declared "was a
most decided character, that would hold to his purpose with more
constancy and through a longer interval than is imagined; his views
are not directed to this, i.e. the United Kingdom, but to the
Continent only." "I never saw," he says, "so little indirectness in
any statesman as in the First Consul." Had Fox been supported by
sufficient strong men to counteract the baneful influence of the weeds
who were a constant peril to the country over whose destinies George
III and they ruled, we should have been saved the ghastly errors that
were committed in the name of the British people. The King's dislike
to Fox was openly avowed. He used to talk incessantly of going back
to Hanover whenever he was thwarted in his disastrous policy of giving
the country a stab, or when the inevitable brought Fox into office.
Everything that emanated from the great statesman was viewed with
aversion and as being unjust and indecent by the royal Lilliputian,
while Fox's estimate of the King could not be uttered on a lower
plane. He says, in speaking of His Majesty, "It is intolerable to
think that it should be in the power of _one_ blockhead to do so much
mischief"--meaning, I presume, amongst many other blunders, the mess
he was persisting in making over American affairs.

Had there been capable statesmen during that crisis, the Continent of
Europe and the vast dominions of Great Britain would not have been at
war this day with the pernicious Power that we, more than any other
nation, as has been previously stated, helped to create and foster.


V

Fox was the only genius in our political life at that time, while Pitt
was a mere shadow in comparison, though it is fair to state that the
former always believed that he and Pitt would have made a workable
combination. As to the rest, they were pretty much on the level of the
Lilliputians with whom the late traveller, Mr. Lemuel Gulliver, had
such intimate and troublesome relations. The book by the Dean of St.
Patrick's, "Gulliver's Travels," is a perfect caricature of the
political dwarfs of his time, and vividly represents the men who
misruled this country in George III's reign. But the Dean's laughable
history of the pompous antics of the Lilliputians is a picture which
describes the constitution of our present administration who are
managing the critical affairs of the nation so ill that disaster is
inevitable in many forms, seen and unseen. The administrative machine
is clogged with experimental human odds and ends who have neither wit,
knowledge, nor wisdom to fill the post allotted to them, and the
appalling thought is that the nation as a whole is being blustered by
the intriguers who are forcing every national interest into certain
destruction. Truly the Lilliputians are a plague on all human
interests, _real_ patriotism, and capacity: always mischievous, always
incapable, just the same now as when, in the eighteenth century, their
type forced a peaceful and neutral Power into war because they refused
to yield their fleet to them; always seeing things that do not exist,
and foreboding perils that would never have come but for their
dwarfish interference. They discovered in their flights of frenzy and
fancy that Napoleon intended to take possession by force of the Danish
fleet, when, as a matter of fact, he had never shown any indication,
by word or thought, of committing an act so unjust and hostile to his
own interests. A strong point in his policy was to keep Denmark on
terms of friendly neutrality. Moreover, he was not, as many writers
have said (in loyalty to fashion), an unscrupulous breaker of
treaties. It was an unworthy act of the British Government to send Mr.
Jackson as their representative to bully the Danes into giving up
their fleet to the British, on the plea that they had learned by
reports through various channels what Napoleon's intentions were.
Count Bernsdorf, to whom Jackson insolently conveyed the nightmare of
his Government, very properly raged back at him that "the Danish
Government had no such information, and that he was adducing false
reports and mere surmises quite unworthy of credit to fill the measure
of British injustice in forcing Denmark into a ruinous war. It was
folly to suppose that Napoleon could gain anything by throwing Norway
and Denmark into an alliance with England and Sweden." Then he adds,
with a dignified sense of wrong, "that the Regent knew how to defend
his neutrality." "It might be possible," retorts Mr. Jackson, "though
appearances are against that supposition, that the Danish Government
_did not wish_ to lend itself to hostile views; still, it could not
resist France." Then Bernsdorf, who has right on his side, said in
accents of crushing anger, "So! because you think Napoleon has the
intention of wounding us in the tenderest part, you would struggle
with him for priority and be the first to do the deed?" "Yes,"
responds the distinguished representative of the upholders of the
rights of nations, "Great Britain would insist upon a pledge of
amity." "What pledge," demands the Count. "The pledge of uniting the
Danish forces to those of Great Britain," is the reply.

It will be seen that nothing short of vassalism will satisfy the
policy laid down by the stupid emancipationists of downtrodden
nations, as represented by the impressive effrontery of the noble
Jackson. What a terrible piece of wooden-headed history was the effort
to force Denmark to break her neutrality or make war on her! They
seized Zealand, and because the Prince Regent refused to agree to
their perfidy, they kept possession of it. The Prince sent written
instructions to burn all the ships and stores, but the messenger was
captured and the faithful person to whom the delivery of the document
was entrusted swallowed it (i.e. swallowed the instructions).
Copenhagen had been bombarded and practically reduced to destruction
by Nelson, who had settled with the Danes on favourable British terms,
one of the conditions being that they were to leave with their booty
in six weeks. The Regent subsequently declared war and outwitted the
British designs (so it is said) on Zealand.

Castlereagh sought the aid of Lord Cathcart to find a dodge by which
his Government could inveigle the Danes to commit a breach of the
Convention, but the latter stood firm by the conditions, and the
commanders, being disgusted with the whole affair, declined to aid
their Chiefs in the Government in any act of double dealing. But they
had the Emperor Alexander of Russia to deal with. He offered to act as
intermediary between Great Britain and France in order to bring about
an honourable peace. The British Government refused, and it is stated
on incontrovertible authority that Alexander was furious, and
upbraided the British with having used troops, which should have been
sent to Russia's aid, to crush Denmark. The outrage of attacking a
small State which was at peace and with which she had no quarrel was
powerfully denounced by Alexander. He accused the British Government
"of a monstrous violation of straight dealing, by ruining Denmark in
the Baltic, which it knew was closed to foreign hostilities under a
Russian guarantee."

This caused Alexander to break off relations with Great Britain and
annul all treaties he had with her. Canning feebly replied to the
Russian Emperor's taunts, and, amongst other things, accused him of
throwing over the King of the Huns. No wonder that Russia and some of
the other Powers resented the perfidious conduct of British statesmen,
employing British military and naval forces to overthrow and destroy
not only a friendly Power, but one of the smallest and most strictly
neutral States in Europe! Alexander jibed at them for using their
resources for this unjust purpose, instead of sending them to help him
when he was being so desperately driven to defeat by Napoleon. What a
loutish trick it was to imagine that any real political or practical
benefit could be derived from it! The seizure of the Danish fleet was
a low-down act, for which those who were responsible should have been
pilloried. The reasons given could not be sustained at the time, and
still remain entirely unsupported by fact. There is no more
disgraceful proceeding to be found in the pages of history than our
raid on this small and highly honourable, inoffensive, and brave
people.

This bad statesmanship was deplorable. It set the spirit of butchery
raging. It made a new enemy for ourselves, and in an economic sense
added hundreds of thousands to our national debt, without deriving a
vestige of benefit from either a military or political point of view.
It undoubtedly prolonged the war, as all those squint-eyed enterprises
are certain to do. It made us unpopular and mistrusted, and had no
effect in damaging Napoleon's activities, nor of taking a single ally
from him. There are occasions when nations have forced upon them cruel
stratagems and alternatives, revolting in their abominable
unworthiness, but in the case I am discussing I have found no
substantial justification, nor has the deed been backed up to now or
supported by a single _real_ authority. Nothing but condemnation still
hangs round the memory of those hapless ministers who made the world
so full of misery. I repeat, the greatest of all perils is to have a
Government composed of men whose brains are full of kinks, and who do
not reach beyond the bounds of basing their policy on the idea that
some foreigner or other has designs on our national wealth, our trade,
or our vast protectorates. In recent years that view has been
dissipated, and the plan of broadening the national goodwill to men
has been adopted and encouraged by a body of sound, unpretentious
thinkers who have taken pains to train important gifts in the art of
good government in all its varied aspects and international
complexities. The whole public have had to pay appalling penalties in
the past because an impulsive handful of the population is of opinion
that self-advertising, harum-scarum politicians, in and out of office,
are the geniuses who make and keep prosperity. This uncontrolled,
emotional trend of thought comes in cycles and is unerringly followed
by bitter disillusionment. It was so during the wars at the beginning
of the last century, and it is so now. We always reflect after the
tragedy has been consummated. Safe and astute administrators are
always termed the "old gang" by the political amateurs, and the
calamity is that a large public is so often carried away by the
flighty delusions of the real cranks who style themselves the saviours
of their country. At the present time we have as sure an example as
ever the known world has witnessed of the awful disaster the
resignation of the "old gang" has been to the whole of the Powers
interested in this world-war, especially to our own country. We shall
realize this more fully by and by when the naked truth presents
itself. The very people who are conspicuously responsible for the
destruction of unity always bellow the loudest to maintain it after
they have been the high conspirators in breaking it, aided by their
guilty followers. What bitter lessons this land of ours has been
subjected to in other days! For twenty years the country was kept in
the vortex of a raging war, with no more justification than giving Mr.
Jackson instructions that the one imperative idea to keep in his mind
was to take possession of the Danish fleet. Nothing was to stand in
the way of this great adventure, shameless though it might be.

Lord Malmesbury writes in his diary: "Capture of Danish fleet by
surprise on account of most undoubted information received from the
Prince Regent of Portugal of Bonaparte's intention to use the
Portuguese and Danish fleets for invasion of England. First hint of
the plan given by the Prince of Wales to the Duke of Portland. The
Portuguese refused the demand, and told the British Government of it;
the Danes accepted, kept silence, and afterwards denied it." The entry
in Malmesbury's diary has been proved to be a string of pure
inventions, for which he or some other informants are responsible. I
have said no record has been left to show that Napoleon ever had any
intention of occupying the ports of Holstein or of using the Danish
fleet for the invasion of Great Britain and Ireland. Members of
Parliament in the House of Commons and members of the House of Lords
proved beyond question that ministers' statements, taking the dates
into account, were entirely erroneous. Canning defended the sending of
the expedition, which was natural, as he was one of the principal
advocates of it. But the House would stand none of his tricks of
evasion or repudiation. He, like some more modern ministers, ventured
on the hazardous plan of deceiving Parliament, and, as was said at the
time, setting fair dealing at defiance. Canning, like all tricksters,
read extracts from documents, authentic and otherwise, to prove that
Denmark was hostile to Britain, but when a demand was made for their
inspection, he impudently refused to allow the very documents he had
based his case of justification on to be scrutinized, and in
consequence no other conclusion could be arrived at than that he was
unscrupulously misleading the country. In fact, the Government's case
was so bad it would not bear the light of God's day!

I venture to say that Mr. Fox knew more of the character, political
intricacies, and ambitions of the French race than any public man or
writer of history of his own or in subsequent years. He always based
his conclusions on a sound logical point. He was an accurate thinker,
who refused to form his judgments on light, faulty and inaccurate
newspaper paragraphs about what was going on around him. He was
opposed to Pitt and his supporters' policy of carrying on war with
France. He wanted peace, but they wanted the Bourbons, because the
Bourbon section in France and the old autocracy in his own and other
kingly countries were opposed to the new ruler the masses in France
had chosen. He ridiculed the folly of our mental nonentities for
"making such a fuss about acknowledging the new Emperor. May not the
people give their own Magistrate the name they choose?" he asks. "On
what logical grounds did we claim the right to revoke by the force of
arms the selection by the French people of a ruler on whom they wished
to bestow the title of Emperor?" Fox poured lavishly his withering
contempt on those miscreants who arrogantly claimed the right to be
consulted (for that is practically what their war policy amounted to)
as to who the French should put on the throne and what his title
should be. They had acknowledged Napoleon in the capacity of First
Consul, but they shuddered at the consequences to the human race of
having an Emperor sprung upon them whose glory was putting kingship
into obscurity. Besides, an Emperor who combined humble origin with
democratic genius and ambition created by the Revolution was a
challenge to the legitimacy of the Divine Right of Kings and a
reversal of the order of ages. George III raged at Pitt for including
Fox in his Ministry when he was asked to form a Government. "Does Mr.
Pitt," said he, "not know that Mr. Fox was of all persons most
offensive to him?" "Had not Fox always cheered the popular Government
of France, and had he not always advocated peace with bloodstained
rebels? And be it remembered the indecorous language he had frequently
used against his sovereign, and consider his influence over the Prince
of Wales. Bring whom you like, Mr. Pitt, but Fox never."

George III, King by the Grace of God, relented somewhat in his dislike
of Fox before the latter died, and his wayward son, the Prince of
Wales, said "that his father was well pleased with Mr. Fox in all
their dealings after he came into office." It is an amazing form of
intelligence that commits a nation to join in a war against another
for having brought about a revolution and for creating their first
soldier-statesman an "Emperor," and ranks him and his compatriots as
"bloodstained rebels." To class Napoleon as a bloodstained rebel and
to put him on a level with the Robespierres and the Dantons is an
historic outrage of the truth. He had nothing whatever to do with
bringing about the Revolution, though his services saved it, and out
of the terrible tumult and wreck superhumanly re-created France and
made her the envy of the modern world. The great defender of the
Rights of Kings and of the colossal European fabric was appealed to by
the man whom George III associated with the "bloodstained rebels" to
come to some common understanding so that the shedding of blood might
cease, but that robust advocate of peace (!) contemptuously ignored
his appeals to negotiate. In 1805 he was raised to the Imperial
dignity, and one of his first acts was to write with his own hand that
famous letter which I have previously quoted, pleading, with majestic
dignity, for the King of England, in the name of humanity, to
co-operate with him in a way that will bring about friendly relations
between the two Governments and the spilling of blood to an end. The
King "by the Grace of God" and his horde of bloodsucking, incompetent
ministers insulted the French nation and the great captain who ruled
over its destinies by sending through Lord Mulgrave an insolent,
hypocritical reply to the French ministers.

The rage of war continued for another decade. If George III yearned
for peace as he and his ministers pretended, why did the King not
write a courteous autograph letter back to Napoleon, even though he
regarded him as an inferior and a mere military adventurer? The nation
had to pay a heavy toll in blood and money in order that the
assumptions and dignity of this insensate monarch might be maintained,
whose abhorrence of "bloodstained rebels" did not prevent him and his
equally insensate advisers from plunging the American colonists into a
bloody rebellion, which ended so gloriously for them and so
disastrously for the motherland. They had asked for reforms that were
palpably reasonable and necessary, and received insulting replies to
their courteous demands, which compelled them to take up arms against
the King of England, with a vow that they would not sheathe the sword
until they had won complete independence from the arrogant autocracy
that had driven them to war.

They were led by the noble genius of George Washington and Dr.
Franklin, who were in turn strongly supported by and united to
colleagues of high constructive and administrative talents. Their task
was long and fierce, but the gallant, elusive Washington led them
through the tremendous struggle to victory, which culminated in
founding the greatest and best constituted of all republics, whose
sons are fighting side by side with the descendants of those who were
forced into fighting their own race, through the maladministration of
the King and his guilty Government, at the head of which was the
genial but ultra-reactionary Lord North, who was a special favourite
of George because he was accommodating; and indeed, all the King's
friends were reactionary and dangerous to the real interests of the
State when in power. The King's terrific responsibility for the great
calamities that befell the country during his reign can only be
absolved by the knowledge that he was subject to fits of prolonged
lunacy; in fact, it may be said that even in his saner periods his
acts were frequently those of an idiot. Though he cannot be accused of
lacking in integrity, he disliked men who were possessed of that
virtue, coupled with enlightened views, having anything to do with the
government of the State. In short, he was totally unsuited to govern
at any time, but especially when the atmosphere was charged with
violent human convulsions. He loved lick-spittles, because they did
his will for value received in various sordid forms, and, as I have
said, he loathed the incorruptible and brilliant Charles James Fox,
because he refused to support his fatal policies and that of the
cocksparrow members of his Government, who from time to time
threatened the very foundations of our national existence.

The more George persisted, the louder became Fox's protests. Posterity
can never accurately estimate how much it owes to statesmen who acted
with Fox, but the influences the King had behind him were too
formidable for Fox to grapple with. He would have saved us from the
fratricidal war with America, and from the unpardonable wickedness of
involving the country in the wars with France, who was fighting out
her own prodigious destiny on the Continent, which was no concern of
ours, except that the sane policy of the King and his Government
should have been to encourage the democratizing of the Continental
States. It was no love of liberty, or for the people, or for reforms
of any kind, that led George III and his satellites to wage war
against the man of the French Revolution. It was the fear of placing
more power in the hands of the people and allowing less to remain in
his own. But the main fear of the King and his autocratic subjects was
lest Napoleon would become so powerful that he would destroy the whole
monarchy of Europe! It was the view of small-minded men. Even Napoleon
had his limitations, even if this had been his object. But there was
no symptom, except that of panic, to justify the assertion that he
ever intended to include war on the United Kingdom in his policy.
There never was a truer statement made by the Emperor than "C'est avec
des hochets qu'on mène les hommes"; which is, "Men are led by
trifles." Hence we went to war with him, and the result of it is that
the race that he mistrusted most and saw the necessity of keeping
severely within limits has risen up against civilization and created a
world-war into which we and our Allies have been obliged to enter in
self-defence. That is the inevitable penalty we are having to pay for
the action we took in helping the Germans to destroy France. I know it
is asserted it was not France but Napoleon whose power they aimed at
breaking, but the one could not be broken without the other.

FOOTNOTES:

[19] There are many conflicting accounts of Napoleon's part in the
arrest, trial, and his intention of pardoning the Duc d'Enghien. It
has been stated that he gave Murat his word that the Duc would be
pardoned, and when Murat heard that the Prince had been shot, he
exclaimed, "There has been treachery!" On the other hand, Bertrand was
steadfast in his belief that Murat urged his immediate execution on
the grounds that if it was not done at once, Napoleon would grant
clemency.

[20] The terms of capitulation were agreed to and signed by Ruffo, the
Russian and Turkish commanders, and by Captain Foote, representing the
British Government. Thirty-six hours afterwards Nelson arrived in the
Bay of Naples, and cancelled the treaty. Captain Foote was sent away,
and the shocking indefensible campaign of Nelson's carried out.
Nothing during the whole of Napoleon's career can match this terrible
act of Nelson's.

[21] Italics are the author's.

[22] "History du Consulat et de l'Empire," vol. xix. p. 619, published
August, 1861.



SEA SONGS


EXPLANATORY NOTE

These quaint old doggerel songs are taken from an admirable selection
of sailor songs published by John Ashton. The names of the writers are
not given, but their strong nautical flavour and queer composition
indicate their origin. No landsman can ever imitate the sailor when
the power of song or composition is on him. He puts his own funny
sentiment and descriptive faculty into his work, which is exclusively
his own.

Many of the songs in Mr. Ashton's book I have heard sung with great
fervour in my early days, by a generation of men ahead of my own, who
must have long since passed away. Sometimes the audiences in the
forecastle or on deck were appreciative of the efforts of the singer,
but if they were not, they always had a boot or some other handy
implement ready to throw at him. The reception given to some of my own
singing efforts in boyhood on these merry occasions was mixed.
Sometimes I forgot both words and tune, and had, therefore, to pass
good-humouredly through the orthodox process of disapproval that was
regarded as part of the entertainment.

Any song or recital concerning Nelson, Collingwood, or the later sea
hero, Charley Napier, was eminently popular, and to break down in the
rendering of any one of these was an offence to their exalted
memories. "The Sailor's Grave," which I regret is not included in Mr.
Ashton's collection, was in great demand when the sailors were in a
solemn mood. Both the words and the tune were ridiculously weird, and
when it came to the details of the hero's illness, his looks after
death, the sewing up in his hammock, and the tying of two round shots
at his feet for sinking purposes, the artist always sang with his
hands linked in front of him and his eyes cast heavenward gazing
fixedly at a spot on the ceiling. Then came the burial verse:--

    A splash and a plunge, and his task was o'er,
    And the billows rolled as they rolled before,
    And many a wild prayer followed the brave,
    As he sunk beneath a sailor's grave.

This verse always drew tears from the sentimentalists in the audience,
and if the singer had pleased by his efforts the song ended in a roar
of tumultuous applause.

I have thought it appropriate to add to these doggerel rhymes "The
Battle of Copenhagen," "The Death of Nelson," and "The _Arethusa_."
These are sea songs, not sailor's songs, and are of distinctly greater
merit, but as two of them deal with Nelson, and as all three have
always been most popular, they may not be out of place here.


I

THE BATTLE OF THE NILE

    'Twas on the forenoon, the first day of August,
    One thousand seven hundred and ninety-eight,
    We had a long pursuit after the Toulon fleet;
    And soon we let them know that we came for to fight.
    We tried their skill, it was sore against their will,
    They knew not what to think of our fleet for a while,
    But, before the fray began, we resolved to a man,
    For to conquer or to die at the mouth of the Nile.

    When our guns began to play, with many a loud huzza,
    Resolving to conquer, or die, to a man,
    And when our sails were bending, Old England was depending,
    Waiting our return from the Mediterranean.
    Our bull dogs they did roar, and into them did pour,
    With rattling broadsides made brave Nelson to smile,
    Gallant Nelson gave command, altho' he'd but one hand,
    British sailors jumped for joy at the mouth of the Nile.

    Night drawing on, we formed a plan
    To set fire to one hundred and twenty guns,
    We selected them with skill, and into them did drill,
    We secured all our shipping, and laughed at the fun.
    About ten o'clock at night, it was a broiling fight,
    Which caused us to muzzle our bull dogs for a while,
    The _L'Orient_ blew up, and round went the cup,
    To the glorious memorandum at the mouth of the Nile.

    Kind Providence protected each minute of the night,
    It's more than tongue can tell, or yet a pen can write,
    For 'mongst the jolly tars, brave Nelson got a scar,
    But Providence protected him thro' that cruel fight.
    The French may repine, we took nine sail of the line,
    Burnt and sunk all but two, which escaped for a while,
    Brave Nelson gave command, altho' he'd but one hand,
    British sailors fought like lions at the mouth of the Nile.

    But now the battle's o'er, and Toulon's fleet's no more,
    Great news we shall send unto George our King,
    All the Kingdoms in Europe shall join us in chorus,
    The bells they shall ring, and bonfires they shall blaze,
    Rule Britannia shall be sung, through country and town,
    While sailors, hand in hand, round the can do sing,
    Bonaparte got the pledge of Europe for his wage,
    And he'll ne'er forget bold Nelson at the mouth of the Nile.


II

A NEW SONG ON LORD NELSON'S VICTORY AT COPENHAGEN

    Draw near, ye gallant seamen, while I the truth unfold,
    Of as gallant a naval victory as ever yet was told,
    The second day of April last, upon the Baltic Main,
    Parker, Nelson, and their brave tars, fresh laurels there did gain.
      With their thundering and roaring, rattling and roaring,
      Thundering and roaring bombs.

    Gallant Nelson volunteered himself, with twelve sail form'd a line,
    And in the Road of Copenhagen he began his grand design;
    His tars with usual courage, their valour did display,
    And destroyed the Danish navy upon that glorious day.
      With their, etc.

    With strong floating batteries in van and rear we find,
    The enemy in centre had six ships of the line;
    At ten that glorious morning, the fight begun, 'tis true,
    We Copenhagen set on fire, my boys, before the clock struck two.
      With their, etc.

    When this armament we had destroyed, we anchor'd near the town,
    And with our bombs were fully bent to burn their city down;
    Revenge for poor Matilda's wrongs, our seamen swore they'd have,
    But they sent a flag of truce aboard, their city for to save.
      With their, etc.

    For the loss of his eye and arm, bold Nelson does declare,
    The foes of his country, not an inch of them he'll spare;
    The Danes he's made to rue the day that they ever Paul did join,
    Eight ships he burnt, four he sunk, and took six of the line.
      With their, etc.

    Now drink a health to gallant Nelson, the wonder of the world,
    Who, in defence of his country his thunder loud has hurled;
    And to his bold and valiant tars, who plough the raging sea,
    And who never were afraid to face the daring enemy.
      With their thundering and roaring, rattling and roaring,
      Thundering and roaring bombs.


III

THE BATTLE OF BOULOGNE

    On the second day of August, eighteen hundred and one,
    We sailed with Lord Nelson to the port of Boulogne,
    For to cut out their shipping, which was all in vain,
    For to our misfortune, they were all moored and chained.

    Our boats being well mann'd, at eleven at night,
    For to cut out their shipping, except they would fight,
    But the grape from their batteries so smartly did play,
    Nine hundred brave seamen killed and wounded there lay.

    We hoisted our colours, and so boldly them did spread,
    With a British flag flying at our royal mast head,
    For the honour of England, we will always maintain,
    While bold British seamen plough the watery main.

    Exposed to the fire of the enemy she lay,
    While ninety bright pieces of cannon did play,
    Where many a brave seaman then lay in his gore,
    And the shot from their batteries so smartly did pour.

    Our noble commander, with heart full of grief,
    Used every endeavour to afford us relief,
    No ship could assist us, as well you may know,
    In this wounded condition, we were tossed to and fro.

    And you who relieve us, the Lord will you bless,
    For relieving poor sailors in time of distress,
    May the Lord put an end to all cruel wars,
    And send peace and contentment to all British tars.


IV

THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR


    Arise, ye sons of Britain, in chorus join and sing,
    Great and joyful news is come unto our Royal King,
    An engagement we have had by sea,
    With France and Spain, our enemy,
    And we've gain'd a glorious victory,
            Again, my brave boys.

    On the 21st of October, at the rising of the sun,
    We form'd the line for action, every man to his gun,
    Brave Nelson to his men did say,
    The Lord will prosper us this day,
    Give them a broadside, fire away,
            My true British boys.

    Broadside after broadside our cannon balls did fly,
    The small shot, like hailstones, upon the deck did lie,
    Their masts and rigging we shot away,
    Besides some thousands on that day,
    Were killed and wounded in the fray,
            On both sides, brave boys.

    The Lord reward brave Nelson, and protect his soul,
    Nineteen sail the combin'd fleets lost in the whole;
    Which made the French for mercy call;
    Nelson was slain by a musket ball.
            Mourn, Britons, mourn.

    Each brave commander, in tears did shake his head,
    Their grief was no relief, when Nelson he was dead;
    It was by a fatal musket ball,
    Which caus'd our hero for to fall.
    He cried, Fight on, God bless you all,
            My brave British tars.

    Huzza my valiant seamen, huzza, we've gain'd the day,
    But lost a brave Commander, bleeding on that day,
    With joy we've gain'd the victory,
    Before his death he did plainly see
    I die in peace, bless God, said he,
            The victory is won.

    I hope this glorious victory will bring a speedy peace,
    That all trade in England may flourish and increase,
    And our ships from port to port go free,
    As before, let us with them agree,
    May this turn the heart of our enemy.
            Huzza, my brave boys.


V

NELSON AND COLLINGWOOD

    Come all you gallant heroes, and listen unto me,
    While I relate a battle was lately fought at sea.
    So fierce and hot on every side, as plainly it appears,
    There has not been such a battle fought, no not for many years.

    Brave Nelson and brave Collingwood, off Cadiz harbour lay,
    Watching the French and Spaniards, to show them English play,
    The nineteenth of October from the Bay they set sail,
    Brave Nelson got intelligence, and soon was at their tail.

    It was on the twenty-first my boys, we had them clear in sight,
    And on that very day, at noon, began the bloody fight.
    Our fleet forming two columns, then he broke the enemy's line,
    To spare the use of signals, was Nelson's pure design.

    For now the voice of thunder is heard on every side,
    The briny waves like crimson, with human gore were dy'd;
    The French and Spanish heroes their courage well did show,
    But our brave British sailors soon brought their colours low.

    Four hours and ten minutes, this battle it did hold,
    And on the briny ocean, men never fought more bold,
    But, on the point of victory brave Nelson, he was slain,
    And, on the minds of Britons, his death will long remain.

    Nineteen sail of the enemy are taken and destroyed,
    You see the rage of Britons, our foes cannot avoid:
    And ages yet unborn will have this story for to tell,
    The twenty-first of October, our gallant Nelson fell.

    I hope the wives and children will quickly find relief,
    For the loss of those brave heroes, their hearts are filled with grief,
    And may our warlike officers aspire to such a fame,
    And revenge the death of Nelson, with his undying name.


VI

GIVE IT TO HIM, CHARLEY


    Arouse, you British sons, arouse!
    And all who stand to Freedom's cause,
    While sing of the impending wars,
        And England's bluff old Charley.
    I'll tell how British seamen brave,
    Of Russian foes will clear the wave,
    Old England's credit for to save,
        Led on by gallant Charley.

        Our gallant tars led by Napier,
        May bid defiance to the Bear,
        While hearty shouts will rend the air,
        With, Mind, and give it to him, Charley.

    Our jolly tars will have to tell,
    How they the Russian bears did quell,
    And each honest heart with pride will dwell,
        For our jackets blue, and Charley.
    For they'll never leave a blot or stain,
    While our British flag flies at the main,
    But their foes they'll thrash again and again,
        While led on by gallant Charley.
          Our gallant tars, etc.

    Tyrant Nicky, you may fume and boast,
    And with threats disturb each peaceful coast,
    But you reckoned have without your host,
        For you're no good to our tars and Charley.
    From our wooden walls warm pills will fly,
    Your boasted power for to try,
    While our seamen with loud shouts will cry,
        Let us give it to him, Charley.
          Our gallant tars, etc.

    For your cowardly tricks at Sinope Bay,
    Most dearly we will make you pay,
    For our tars will show you bonny play,
        While commanded by brave Charley.
    For tho' brave Nelson, he is dead,
    Our tars will be to victory led.
    By one brave heart we have instead,
        And that brave heart is Charley's.
          Our gallant tars, etc.

    England and France they will pull down
    The Eagle and Imperial Crown,
    And his Bear-like growls we soon will drown,
        With, Let us give it him, Charley.
    For while England and France go hand in hand
    They conquer must by sea and land,
    For no Russian foe can e'er withstand,
        So brave a man as Charley.
          Our gallant tars, etc.

    Despotic Nick, you've been too fast,
    To get Turkey within your grasp,
    But a Tartar you have caught at last,
        In the shape of our tars and Charley.
    Then here's success with three times three,
    To all true hearts by land or sea,
    And this the watchword it shall be,
        Mind, and give it to them, Charley.

        Our gallant tars led by Napier,
        May bid defiance to the Bear.
        While hearty shouts will rend the air,
        With, Mind, and give it to him, Charley.


VII

THE _ARETHUSA_


    Come all ye jolly sailors bold,
    Whose hearts are cast in honour's mould,
    While England's glory I unfold,
            Huzza to the _Arethusa_.
    She is a frigate tight and brave,
    As ever stemmed the dashing wave;
            Her men are staunch
            To their fav'rite launch,
    And when the foe shall meet our fire,
    Sooner than strike we'll all expire,
            On board of the _Arethusa_.

    'Twas with the spring-fleet she went out,
    The English Channel to cruise about,
    When four French sail, in show so stout,
            Bore down on the _Arethusa_.
    The fam'd _Belle Poule_ straight ahead did lie,
    The _Arethusa_ seem'd to fly,
            Not a sheet, or a tack,
            Or a brace did she slack,
    Tho' the Frenchman laugh'd, and thought it stuff,
    But they knew not the handful of men, so tough,
            On board of the _Arethusa_.

    On deck five hundred men did dance,
    The stoutest they could find in France,
    We, with two hundred, did advance
            On board of the _Arethusa_.
    Our captain hail'd the Frenchman, ho!
    The Frenchman then cried out, hallo!
            "Bear down, d'ye see
            To our Admiral's lee."
    "No, no," said the Frenchman, "that can't be";
    "Then I must lug you along with me,"
            Says the saucy _Arethusa_.

    The fight was off the Frenchman's land,
    We forc'd them back upon their strand;
    For we fought till not a stick would stand
            Of the gallant _Arethusa_.
    And now we've driven the foe ashore,
    Never to fight with Britons more,
            Let each fill a glass
            To his favourite lass!
    A health to our captain, and officers true,
    And all that belong to the jovial crew,
            On board of the _Arethusa_.


VIII

COPENHAGEN

    Of Nelson and the North,
        Sing the day,
    When, their haughty powers to vex,
    He engaged the Danish decks;
    And with twenty floating wrecks
        Crowned the fray.

    All bright, in April's sun,
        Shone the day,
    When a British fleet came down
    Through the island of the Crown,
    And by Copenhagen town
        Took their stay.

    In arms the Danish shore
        Proudly shone;
    By each gun the lighted brand
    In a bold determined hand,
    And the Prince of all the land
        Led them on.

    For Denmark here had drawn
        All her might;
    From her battleships so vast
    She had hewn away the mast,
    And at anchor, to the last
        Bade them fight.

    Another noble fleet
        Of their line
    Rode out; but these were nought
    To the batteries which they brought,
    Like Leviathans afloat
        In the brine.

    It was ten of Thursday morn
        By the chime;
    As they drifted on their path
    There was silence deep as death,
    And the noblest held his breath
        For a time--

    Ere a first and fatal round
        Shook the flood.
    Every Dane looked out that day.
    Like the red wolf on his prey,
    And he swore his flag to sway
        O'er our blood.

    Not such a mind possessed
        England's tar;
    'Twas the love of noble game
    Set his oaken heart on flame,
    For to him 'twas all the same,
        Sport and war.

    All hands and eyes on watch
        As they keep;
    By their motion light as wings,
    By each step that haughty springs,
    You might know them for the kings
        Of the deep.

    'Twas the _Edgar_ first that smote
        Denmark's line
    As her flag the foremost soared,
    Murray stamped his foot on board,
    And an hundred cannons roared
        At the sign.

    Three cheers of all the fleet
        Sung Huzza!
    Then from centre, rear, and van,
    Every captain, every man,
    With a lion's heart began
        To the fray.

    Oh, dark grew soon the heavens--
        For each gun,
    From its adamantine lips,
    Spread a death-shade round the ships,
    Like a hurricane eclipse
        Of the sun.

    Three hours the raging fire
        Did not slack;
    But the fourth, their signals drear
    Of distress and wreck appear,
    And the Dane a feeble cheer
        Sent us back.

    The voice decayed; their shots
        Slowly boom.
    They ceased--and all is wail,
    As they strike the shattered sail,
    Or in conflagration pale
        Light the gloom.

    Oh, death--it was a sight
        Filled our eyes!
    But we rescued many a crew
    From the waves of scarlet hue,
    Ere the cross of England flew
        O'er her prize.

    Why ceased not here the strife,
        Oh, ye brave?
    Why bleeds old England's band
    By the fire of Danish land,
    That smites the very hand
        Stretched to save?

    But the Britons sent to warn
        Denmark's town:
    Proud foes, let vengeance sleep!
    If another chain-shot sweep--
    All your navy in the deep
        Shall go down.

    Then, peace instead of death
        Let us bring!
    If you'll yield your conquered fleet,
    With the crews, at England's feet,
    And make submission meet
        To our King.

    The Dane returned, a truce
        Glad to bring:
    He would yield his conquered fleet,
    With the crews, at England's feet,
    And make submission meet
        To our King.

    Then death withdrew his pall
        From the day;
    And the sun looked smiling bright
    On a wide and woeful sight
    Where the fires of funeral light
        Died away.

    Yet, all amidst her wrecks
        And her gore,
    Proud Denmark blest our chief
    That he gave her wounds relief,
    And the sounds of joy and grief
        Filled her shore.

    All round, outlandish cries
        Loudly broke;
    But a nobler note was rung
    When the British, old and young,
    To their bands of music sung
        "Hearts of Oak."

    Cheer! cheer! from park and tower,
        London town!
    When the King shall ride in state
    From St. James's royal gate,
    And to all his peers relate
        Our renown.

    The bells shall ring! the day
        Shall not close,
    But a glaze of cities bright
    Shall illuminate the night,
    And the wine-cup shine in light
        As it flows.

    Yes--yet amid the joy
        And uproar,
    Let us think of them that sleep
    Full many a fathom deep
    All beside thy rocky steep,
        Elsinore!

    Brave hearts, to Britain's weal
        Once so true!
    Though death has quenched your flame,
    Yet immortal be your name!
    For ye died the death of fame
        With Riou.

    Soft sigh the winds of Heaven
        O'er your grave!
    While the billow mournful rolls
    And the mermaid's song condoles,
    Singing--glory to the souls
        Of the brave.


IX

THE DEATH OF NELSON

    O'er Nelson's tomb, with silent grief oppressed,
    Britannia mourns her hero now at rest;
    But those bright laurels will not fade with years,
    Whose leaves are watered by a nation's tears.

    'Twas in Trafalgar's bay
    We saw the Frenchmen lay,
    Each heart was bounding then,
    We scorn'd the foreign yoke,
    For our ships were British oak,
    And hearts of oak our men!
    Our Nelson mark'd them on the wave,
    Three cheers our gallant seamen gave,
    Nor thought of home and beauty.
    Along the line this signal ran,
    England expects that ev'ry man
    This day will do his duty.

    And now the cannons roar
    Along th' affrighted shore,
    Our Nelson led the way,
    His ship the _Victory_ nam'd!
    Long be that _Victory_ fam'd,
    For vict'ry crown'd the day!
    But dearly was that conquest bought,
    Too well the gallant hero fought,

    For England, home, and beauty.
    He cried as 'midst the fire he ran,
    "England shall find that ev'ry man,
    This day will do his duty!"

    At last the fatal wound,
    Which spread dismay around,
    The hero's breast received;
    "Heaven fights upon our side!
    The day's our own!" he cried;
    "Now long enough I've lived!
    In honour's cause my life was passed,
    In honour's cause I fall at last,
    For England, home, and beauty."
    Thus ending life as he began,
    England confessed that every man
    That day had done his duty.



APPENDIX


SOME INCIDENTS OF NELSON'S LIFE

(_Chronologically arranged_)

1758. On 29th September he was born.

1767. On 26th December his mother died.

1771. On 1st January a Midshipman aboard the _Raisonable_.

1771. On 22nd May sent a voyage in merchant ship to West Indies,
possibly as cabin-boy.

1772. On 19th July was Midshipman on _Triumph_.

1773. On 7th May was Midshipman on _Carcass_.

1773. On 15th October was Midshipman on _Triumph_.

1773. On 27th October was Midshipman on _Seahorse_.

1774. On 5th April becomes Able Seaman on _Seahorse_.

1775. On 31st October is again Midshipman on _Seahorse_.

1776. On 15th March becomes Midshipman on _Dolphin_.

1776. On 24th September is paid off from _Dolphin_.

1776. On 26th September becomes Acting-Lieutenant on _Worcester_.

1777. On 9th April passed examination.

1777. On 10th April is Lieutenant of _Lowestoft_.

1778. On 2nd July changes to Lieutenant of _Bristol_.

1778. On 8th December is appointed Commander of _Badger_.

1779. On 10th June is made Captain of _Hinchinbroke_.

1780. In January joins expedition to San Juan and Grenada, Nicaragua.

1780. On 2nd May he is made Captain of the _Janus_.

1780. On 1st September is invalided from _Janus_.

1780. On 4th September sailed in the _Lion_ for home

1780. On 24th November arrived at Spithead and went to Bath.

1781. On 23rd August he became Captain of _Albemarle_.

1782. On 17th April sailed in _Albemarle_ to North America.

1783. On 3rd July paid off from _Albemarle_.

1783. On 23rd October visited France.

1784. On 17th January back in England.

1784. On 18th March Captain of _Boreas_.

1784. On 15th May at Leeward Islands in _Boreas_.

1787. On 12th March married Widow Nesbit.

1787. On 4th July arrived Spithead in _Boreas_.

1787. On 30th November paid off, put on half pay, and resided mainly
at Burnham Thorpe while on shore.

1793. On 26th January joined _Agamemnon_ as Captain.

1793. On 6th June sailed for the Mediterranean.

1793. On 13th July blockaded Toulon.

1793. On 24th August Toulon is occupied and _Agamemnon_ is ordered to
Naples. A very full year's work.

1794. On 4th April, Siege of Bastia begun.

1794. On 22nd May, Bastia surrendered:

1794. On 19th June, Siege of Calvi.

1794. On 10th July wounded in the right eye.

1794. On 10th August, Calvi surrendered.

1795. On 13th March Hotham's first action.

1795. On 13th July Hotham's second action.

1795. On 15th July sent with a squadron to co-operate with the
Austrians on the coast of Genoa.

1795. On 29th November Sir John Jervis took command of fleet.

1796. On 4th April he is ordered to hoist a distinguishing pennant.

1796. On 4th June shifted his broad pennant to the _Captain_.

1796. On 11th August appointed Commodore of the first class.

1796. On 10th December joined the _Minerva_.

1796. On 20th December captured the Spanish frigate _La Sabina_.

1797. On 13th February rejoined the _Captain_.

1797. On 14th December joined the _Irresistible_ at the BATTLE OF ST.
VINCENT.

1797. On 20th December is Rear-Admiral of the Blue.

1797. On 17th March was created Knight of the Bath.

1797. On 24th March joined the _Captain_ again.

1797. On 1st April news of his promotion.

1797. On 24th May hoisted his flag on _Theseus_.

1797. On 24th July his right arm badly wounded while leading attack on
Santa Cruz, which was repulsed. Arm amputated.

1797. On 20th August joins _Seahorse_, bound for England.

1797. On 1st September arrived at Spithead, lowers his flag, and
proceeds to Bath to recoup his health.

1797. On 27th September has the Order of the Bath conferred on him.

1798. On 29th March joined the _Vanguard_.

1798. On 30th April arrived off Cadiz.

1798. On 7th June Troubridge reinforces Nelson's squadron of
observation by adding ten sail of the line.

1798. On 17th June is off Naples in search of the French fleet.

1798. On 18th June, arrives off Alexandria.

1798. August 1st and 2nd, BATTLE OF THE NILE.

1798. On 22nd September arrives at Naples and is received with great
rejoicing. On the 29th Sir William and Lady Hamilton give a grand fête
in honour of him. The great battle establishes his fame as the
greatest Admiral in the world.

1798. On 6th November he is created Baron Nelson of the Nile and
Burnham Thorpe.

1798. On 23rd December he sailed for Palermo with the King of Naples
and his family aboard.

1798. On 26th December arrives at Palermo and is much gratified by his
reception as a popular hero.

1799. On 5th April he changed his flag from blue to red.

1799. On 8th June joins the _Foudroyant_.

1799. On 24th June arrives off Naples and cancels the agreement of
capitulation of the forts.

1799. On 29th June has the aged Admiral Prince Carraciolo hung at the
_Minerva's_ fore yardarm at the instigation of Lady Hamilton and the
royal profligates of Naples. This act remains a blot on his name.

1799. July 13th to 19th disobeyed Admiral Keith's orders to proceed to
Minorca.

1799. On 29th July becomes Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean.

1799. On 8th August returns again to Palermo.

1799. On 13th August he is created Duke of Bronte.

1799. On 5th October sails for Port Mahon, Minorca.

1799. On 22nd October again returns to Palermo.

1800. On 6th January is officially notified that Lord Keith is
reappointed to command in Mediterranean, which gives him offence.

1800. On 18th February he captures _Le Généreux_.

1800. On 30th March also captures _Le Guillaume Tell_.

1800. On 13th July hauls his flag down at Leghorn and proceeds home,
visiting Trieste, Vienna, Dresden, and Hamburg. Is received everywhere
as a monarch.

1800. On 6th November he arrives at Yarmouth.

1801. On 1st January becomes Vice-Admiral of the Blue.

1801. On 13th January he is separated from his wife.

1801. On 17th January hoists his flag on the _San Josef_.

1801. On 29th January Lady Hamilton gives birth to his daughter
Horatia.

1801. On 12th February joins the _St. George_.

1801. On 12th March sails from Yarmouth Roads for the Sound.

1801. On 29th March joins the _Elephant_.

1801. On 2nd April the BATTLE OF COPENHAGEN. He again rejoins the _St.
George_.

1801. On 5th May appointed Commander-in-Chief in the Baltic.

1801. On 22nd May is created Viscount Nelson of the Nile and Burnham
Thorpe.

1801. On 19th June resigns command and sails in the brig _Kite_ for
Yarmouth, where he arrives on July 1st.

1801. On 2nd July is appointed Commander-in-Chief of the squadron
defending the South-East Coast.

1801. On 16th August attacked Boulogne flotilla unsuccessfully.

1802. On 10th April hauled his flag down and took up his residence at
Merton.

1802. On 26th April his father died.

1803. On 6th April his friend, Sir William Hamilton, died in Emma's
arms.

1803. 16th May, Commander-in-Chief again in the Mediterranean.

1803. On 20th May sailed from Spithead in _Victory_.

1803. On 21st May his flag shifted to the _Amphion_.

1803. On 8th July arrives off Toulon.

1803. On 30th July rejoins the _Victory_ and keeps up a steady
blockade of Toulon until April 1805, and is troubled in body and soul.

1804. On 23rd April Vice-Admiral of WHITE SQUADRON.

1804. On 18th August death of his aversion, the immortal Admiral La
Touche-Treville.

1805. On 17th January the French fleet sailed from Toulon, and falling
in with stormy weather, their ships were disabled and put back for
repairs.

1805. On 8th February Nelson arrives off Alexandria in search of
French.

1805. On 9th March is off Toulon again, and

1805. On 1st April is in Pula Roads.

1805. On 4th April gets news that the Frenchmen have sailed again from
Toulon, on the 30th April.

1805. On 4th May came to anchor at Tetuan.

1805. On 9th May came to anchor in Lagos Bay.

1805. On 11th May sailed for the West Indies.

1805. On 4th June arrived at Barbadoes.

1805. On 7th June arrived at Trinidad.

1805. On 12th June arrived off Antigua.

1805. On 13th June sails for Europe in search of the elusive French
fleet.

1805. On 18th July joins Collingwood off Cadiz.

1805. On 15th August joins Cornwallis off Brest.

1805. On 18th August arrived at Spithead; joins Lady Hamilton and his
little girl Horatia at Merton.

1805. On 13th September having heard from Captain Blackwood, who
visited him at Merton, that the French fleet were at Cadiz, he
prepares to leave Merton.

1805. On 15th September joins the _Victory_ and sails from Spithead.

1805. On 25th September joins British fleet off Cadiz.

1805. On 21st October, BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR and death of Nelson.

1806. On 9th January buried in St. Paul's Cathedral.



INDEX


Aboukir Bay, battle of (_see_ Nile, battle of the)
Addington, Charles, 104
Alexander of Russia, 310, 321, 322
_Arethusa_, The (poem), 352
Armada, Spanish, 39 _et seq._, 43, 59
Asquith, H.H., 297, 303
Astley, Sir Jacob, 131, 134

Balfour, A.J., 303
Ball, Captain, 153, 154, 158, 160
Barham, Lord, 215
Bathurst, Lord, 295
Beatty, Admiral, 64
Bendero, Don Pedro, 47
Beresford, Lord Charles, 52
Bernsdorf, Count, 320
Berry, Captain. 66
Bertheur, General, 308
Blackett, Mr., 262
Blackwood, Captain, 210, 232, 235, 236, 237
Blake, Admiral, 134
Bonaparte, Caroline, 292
Bonaparte, Elisa, 292
Bonaparte, Jerome, 292
Bonaparte, Joseph, 144, 169, 292
Bonaparte, Louis, 292
Bonaparte, Napoleon (_see_ Napoleon)
Bonaparte, Pauline, 293
Boulogne, battle of (sea song), 343
Brereton, General, 198, 199, 203, 207
Burleigh, Cecil, Lord (_see_ Cecil)
Byng, Admiral Sir John, 161, 267

Cadiz, Drake's attacks on, 32, 39, 58
Cadogan, Mrs., 210
Calais, Armada at, 41
Calder, Sir Robert, 206, 208, 222 _et seq._, 267, 268
Calvi, siege of, 64
Campbell, Sir John, 108
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir Henry, 301
Canning, 180
Capua, siege of, 139
Carlile, Christopher, 48, 51, 54
Carlscrona, Hyde Parker's departure to, 95
Carlyle, Thomas, 69, 78
Caroline (_see_ Naples, Queen of)
Carraciolli, Prince, 118 _et seq._, 161, 279
Carribean Sea, Drake visits, 54
Carthagena, Drake's attacks on, 32, 54
Castlereagh, Lord, 180, 211, 295, 301, 303, 321
Caulaincourt, 310
Cecil, Lord, of Burleigh, 27, 32, 44, 58
Champernowne, Sir Arthur, 32
Championnet, General, 147
Cobham, Thomas, 32
Collingwood, Admiral Lord, 31, 63, 64, 83, 84, 134, 193, 200, 203, 204,
 210, 229, 235, 237, 238, 243, 245 _et seq._, 257 _et seq._
Columbus, Christopher, 51, 53
Columbus, Diego, 51
Copenhagen, battle of, 89, 91
Copenhagen, battle of (sea-song), 340
Copenhagen (poem), 354
Corday, Charlotte, 141
Corunna, Drake's attack on, 39
Croker, J.W., 115
Cromwell, Oliver, 130, 133, 134, 237

Danton, 141
Davis, Sir John, 17
Death of Nelson (poem), 360
Denmark, Prince Regent of, 320, 321
Disraeli, 302
Domingo, San (_see_ San Domingo)
Dominica, Drake's arrival at, 50
Doughty, Thomas, 24, 38
Drake, Sir Francis--
  as prototype, 17
  and Panama, 18, 56
  and Elizabeth, 20, 21, 22, 23, 43
  and War Fund, 20
  Portuguese Expedition, 20
  death at Puerto Bello, 21, 60
  on _Pelican_, 22, 43
  and Doughty, 24, 38
  and discipline, 24, 38
  at Cadiz, 32, 39, 58
  at Carthagena, 32, 54
  at Corunna, 39
  West Indian Expedition, 44
  at Vigo, 47, 48
  and Spanish Gold Fleet, 49
  at Santiago, 49, 50
  at Dominica, 50
  at San Domingo, 51, 53
  at Bahamas, 57
  rescues Roanoke settlers, 57, 58
  connection with East India Company, 59
  Newbolt's poem on, 60
  and Fleet Tradition, 63
  a religious man, 134
  Nelson compared with, 180
"Drake's Drum" (poem), quotation from, 60
Dresden, Electress of, 83
Dropmore manuscript, 179
Dumanoir, 244, 245, 255

East India Company, 59
Edward VII of England, 82
Electress of Dresden, 83
Elizabeth of England, 20, 21, 22, 23, 32, 34, 35, 43, 44
Elliot, Sir George, 122, 123
Emma, Lady Hamilton, 65, 73 _et seq._, 95, 97, 98 _et seq._, 118,
 119, 120 _et seq._, 143, 149, 159, 160, 161, 215, 216, 226, 243
d'Enghien, Duc, 268, 276 _et seq._
Erskine, Sir James, 147

Featherstonehaugh, Sir Henry, 73
Fisher, Admiral Lord, 64, 95, 178, 180
Fitzwilliam, George, 26
Foote, Captain, 280, 281, 282
Fortescue's Dropmore MS., 179
Fox, Charles James, 282, 290, 301, 317, 318, 326, 327, 330
Francis Joseph of Austria, 312
Franklin, Benjamin, 329
Fremantle, Admiral, 208
Frobisher, Martin, 17, 40, 63, 134

George III of England, 81, 93, 296, 303, 327, 328, 329, 330, 331
George, Prince Regent (afterwards George IV), 87, 88, 96
Gilbert, Sir Humphrey, 17
"Give it to him, Charley!" (sea-song), 349
Gladstone, W.E., 301, 302
Goethe (on beauty of Lady Hamilton), 76
Graham, James, 73
Graves, Rear-Admiral, 92
Gravina, Admiral, 244
Greville, Charles, 73, 74, 80, 122
Grey, Earl, 301
Grey, Sir Edward, 297
"Gulliver's Travels," 318

Hallowell, Captain, 146, 218
Hamilton, Sir William, 65, 74, 76, 88, 100 _et seq._, 122
Hamilton, Lady (_see_ Emma, Lady Hamilton)
Hardy, Captain (of the _Victory_), 92, 119, 225, 232, 235,
 240, 242, 243, 251
Hart, Emily (afterwards Lady Hamilton), 73
Hawkins, Sir John, 17, 20, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31, 40, 63, 134
Heine, Heinrich, anecdote of, 311
Hood, Admiral, 72
Horatia (Nelson's daughter), 84, 87, 110 _et seq._, 219, 227, 243
Hotham, Admiral, 118
Howard, Admiral Lord, 17, 40

Inquisition, Spanish, 17, 22, 23, 34, 37

Jackson, Mr. (British representative to Denmark), 320, 324
Jellicoe, Admiral, 64
Jervis, Admiral (_see_ St. Vincent, Admiral Lord)
Joseph of Austria (_see_ Francis Joseph of Austria)
Joseph Bonaparte (_see_ Bonaparte, Joseph)

Keats, Captain, 210
Keith, Lord, 139, 158, 160, 162
Kitchener, Lord, 178

Leslie, General, 130, 134
Louis XVIII of France, 294
Louis Philippe of France, 314
Louis, Captain, 146, 147
Lowe, Sir Hudson, 295
Lyon, Amy (afterwards Emma, Lady Hamilton), 73

Mack, General, 147
Malmesbury, Lady, 122
Malmesbury, Lord, 325
Marat, 141
Marengo, battle of, 162
Maria Carolina (_see_ Naples, Queen of)
Marie Louise of Austria, 107, 170
Marlborough, Duke of, 104, 105
Marmont, General, 308
Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, 26
Mary Tudor, Queen of England, 35
Medina-Sidonia, Duke of, 19, 40, 41
Melbourne, Lord, 107
Meneval, Baron de, 171
Milas, General, 162
Minto, Lord, 103, 104, 155, 159, 209, 210, 217
Moreau, 276
Mulgrave, Lord, 328
Müller (Swiss historian), 287
Murat, 145, 169

Naples, Ferdinand, King of, 120, 128, 129, 140, 144, 145,
 146, 147, 163 _et seq._
Naples, Maria Carolina, Queen of, 77, 79, 118, 129, 148,
 162, 163 _et seq._, 260
Napoleon Bonaparte--
  and Prussianism, 69, 298
  aphorisms, 71, 131, 134, 205, 291, 314
  comparison with Nelson, 94
  and Marie Louise, 107, 170
  his opinion of Nelson, 118
  his opinion of Wellington, 117
  Cromwell compared with, 133
  and the French fleet, 191
  and Villeneuve, 199, 264, 265, 266, 267, 268
  and Madame Walewska, 217
  comparison of his love letters with Nelson's, 218
  his "Farewell to France" (poem), 274
  as a statesman, 132, 133, 275
  and plots against his life, 276
  and Pitt, 287 _et seq._, 304
  Müller's opinion of, 287
  Wieland's opinion of, 288
  and his family, 292
  his return from Elba, 294
  his letter to George III, 296
  his son's death, 308
  and Alexander of Russia, 310
  and Treaty of Tilsit, 310
  compared with William II of Germany, 313
  contemporaneous testimony, 315 _et seq._
Neipperg, Count, 170
Nelson, Rev. Edmund, 64
Nelson, Horatia (_see_ Horatia)
Nelson, Horatio, Admiral Lord--
  and contemporary admiration, 31
  and Fleet Tradition, 63
  joins _Raisonable_, 64
  joins _Triumph_, 64
  joins _Agamemnon_, 64
  loses right eye at siege of Calvi, 64
  loses right arm at Santa Cruz, 65
  created K.C.B., 65
  at the court of Naples, 65, 76 _et seq._, 141 _et seq._, 163 _et seq._
  at the Nile, 66
  created Baron, 72
  and gambling scandal, 80, 150
  returns home after Nile, 81
  and Lady Hamilton, 65, 73, 76 _et seq._, 95, 97, 98 _et seq._, 159,
   210 _et seq._, 215, 216, 228, 231
  at battle of Copenhagen, 91,
  compared with Napoleon, 94, 218
  joins _St. George_, 95
  returns home in _Kite_, 98
  at Merton, 100, 210 _et seq._
  letter to his niece, 111
  incident of gipsy's prediction, 114
  and Carraciolli, _118 et seq._, 279
  hatred of the French, 135, 173
  at Toulon, 136
  at Palermo, 149
  and starvation of Neapolitans, 151
  and "cracking on," 155
  as "Duke of Thunder," 167, 172
  homecoming _via_ Magdeburg and Hamburg, 176
  and Ministers of State, 139, 174, 180 _et seq._, 210 _et seq._
  and privateering, 181
  sails to West Indies, 197
  returns to England, 207
  gift of coffin to, 218
  joins _Victory_, 220
  and Calder, 221 _et seq._
  at Trafalgar, 225 _el seq._
  last letters, 226, 228, 231
  last prayer before battle, 231
  death in action, 240, 242 _et seq._
  the nation's sorrow, 256 _et seq._
  Collingwood, compared with, 261
  chronological data, 363
Nelson and Collingwood (sea-song), 347
Nelson, Lady, 78, 84, 85, 86, 88
Newbolt, Sir H., 60
Nile, Battle of the, 66 _et seq._
Nile, Battle of the (sea-song), 337
North, Lord, 329
Norton, Hon. Mrs., 108

O'Meara, Dr., 265, 295
Oquendo, 42
Orange, _William the Silent_, Prince of, 34
Orde, Sir John, 184, 185, 195, 196, 203

Pahlen, Count, 97
Parker, Sir Hyde, 89, 90, 91, 92, 184
Parma, Duke of, 42
Pasco, _Yeoman of Signals_, 235
Paul of Russia, 97
Philip of Spain, 17, 18, 26, 28, 32, 34, 36, 37, 40, 41, 42
Pichegru, 276
Pitt, William, 134, 213, 287, 289, 290, 296, 298, 299, 301,
 303, 344, 318, 326, 327
Poems, 60, 274, 337
Pole, Sir Charles, 98

Radstock, Lord, 213, 214, 259
Raleigh, Sir Walter, 57
Recaldo, 42
Riou, Captain, 91
Roanoke, settlers of, rescue by Drake, 57, 58
Robespierre, 141
Rome, King of, 308
Romney, George, 73
Rosebery, Lord, 301
Rotherham, Captain, 237, 238
Ruffo, Cardinal, 286

Salisbury, Lord, 302
San Domingo, Drake's attack on, 32, 51, 53
San Philip, 58
Santa Cruz, action at, 65
Santa Cruz, Admiral, 18, 37, 39, 41
Santiago, Drake's attack on, 49, 50
Sardanapalus, 141
Scott, Dr., 243
Sea Songs, 333
Seymour, Admiral Lord, 40
Sidmouth, Lord, 221
Smith, Sir Sydney, 174
Southey, Robert, 128, 174
Strachan, Sir Richard, 245, 255
St. George, Mrs., 123
St. Vincent, battle of Cape, 65
St. Vincent, Earl, 63, 64, 65, 78, 92, 98, 174, 184, 185, 234
Suckling, Captain Maurice, 64

Thiers, M., 191, 305
Thurn, Count, 119
Tierny, 301
Touche-Treville, Admiral la, 136, 137
Trafalgar, battle of, 43, 225 _et seq._
Trafalgar, Battle of (sea-song), 345
Troubridge, Admiral, 80, 98, 140, 141, 142, 143, 146, 151, 158, 159,
 233, 234

Ulloa, San Juan d', catastrophe of, 26

Valdes, Don Pedro de, 19
Verde, Cape de, pursuit of Spanish to, 48
Vigo, Drake's attack on, 47, 48
Villeneuve, Admiral, 116, 189, 190, 199, 200, 206, 210, 225, 229, 244,
 259, 264, 265, 266, 267, 268

Walewska, Madame, 217
Washington, George, 329
Wellington, Duke of, 39, 114, 295
Wieland (German historian), 287, 288
William II of Germany, 52, 311, 313



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