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LITTELL'S LIVING AGE.--No. 287.-17 NOVEMBER, 1849.
[The following article is rather an odd one, in several | so unconquerable a champion as he. There wag respects, for the Church of England Quarterly Review.
not a democrat abroad who did not hate his name It contains much new matter about Lady Hamilton.]
as much as he feared it. For the French demo Memoirs of the Life of Vice-Admiral Lord Viscount crats his own hatred was in equal measure intense ;
Nelson, K. B., Duke of Bronté, $c., 46. By and, if it be suggested that his contempt was not Thomas Joseph Pettigrew, F.R.S., F.S.A., less intense for French aristocrats, we answer that Doctor of Philosophy of the University of Göt- he lived at a period when the vices, the selfishtingen, &c., &c. "Two volumes. London: T.
ness, and the tyranny of the aristocracy, justified and W. Boone.
the insurrection, which annihilated one bad system On Michaelmas-day, in the year 1758, the wife to give temporary life to a worse. He did not of the rector of Burnham Thorpe was delivered despise the dissolute men and the more dissolute of a sickly boy. At that moment Anson was in women of Naples less than he despised the French; command of the channel fleet, and there were old but, in supporting the one and destroying the men then in England who had seen Prince Rupert. Other, he was the great antagonist of anarchy, and Exactly a quarter of a century had elapsed since the great promoter of order at home. Loyalty Admiral Byng had surrendered life. Russell, who here flourished by the blood of his victories. The beat Tourville at La Hogue, had been asleep in veriest would-be rebel in England was proud of the grave for more than thirty years. Churchill, the pale warrior whose feeble arm upheld a world and Dilkes, the terror of Frenchmen and Spaniards of thrones ; a defeat at Aboukir might have made in his day, had been at rest for just half a century. him a republican. But we are hurried from NelThese were great men; but in 1758 a greater than son's cradle to his glories and his grave. all was born in the quiet rectory of Burnham sketch his wondrous career in a more orderly Thorpe. That feeble baby, accepted and tolerated spirit. rather than welcomed and cherished, grew up in She who bore the perils of his birth did not surthe possession of all the virtues of the above heroes, vive to be glad at his greatness.
At nine Nelson and with but few of their failings; he had the was motherless--at twelve he quitted school and dashing spirit of Rupert without his imprudence; some of his playfellows were yet launching their he possessed the wisdom and valor of Byng with paper galleons on Norfolk ponds when Nelson had out his cold-heartedness; he was as persevering gained respect and reputation for his name. A as Anson, and in no wise so foolish ; as rapid as trip of a few brief months' duration with his maRussell, but not so rapacious; he was even more ternal uncle, Captain Suckling, just introduced enterprising and successful than Dilkes; and, as him to naval life without affording him instruction. with the gallant brother of Marlborough, his ser- The latter he derived under Captain John Rathvices claimed high honors long before he obtained born, a naval officer, engaged for the time in the them. This puny, fragile child, born to achieve West India trade, under whom Nelson acquired a such greatness—this almost neglected son of a thorough acquaintance with practical seamanship, Norfolk parson, and, by his mother, grandson of a and was ever ready to acknowledge his obligation. Westminster prebendary-designed, as it were, by The writer of this paper acknowledges his pride, nature to be a student, “ sicklied o'er with the too, in telling his son that his mother is the grandpale cast of thought,” and to cultivate learned daughter of Nelson's tutor. Horatio began his leisure in trim gardens—this feeble instrument real service in the royal navy by entering the Triwas born with a great mission ; let the splendor umph, rated as captain's servant.” of its fulfilment make us forgetful of his very few or so he became midshipman, the duties of which errors !
office he efficiently performed during four or five Yes, when he first saw the light there were old years on board the same vessel, and in the Carcass, men in England who had seen Prince Rupert be- the Seahorse, and the Dolphin. During this period neath the beeches at Windsor. It was but the he saw active service in every climate, from the other day that Nelson's sister died. Thus is he North Pole to Bagdad and Bussorah. We next connected with two periods when the people were find him as lieutenant on board the Worcester and at issue with sovereigns; his figure stands half- the Lowestoft. While on board the last-mentioned way between the time when Roundheads were as- vessel he made his first prize, gallantly boarding sailing cavaliers and royalty, and the present period, and capturing an American privateer, from an atwhen democracy is again howling at palace gates tempt at which the first lieutenant had retired unand the hearths of nobles. In his own days the successful ; and this was accomplished when he same struggle was going on ; but as now, and not was only nineteen years of age ! So fond was he in Rupert's time, the scene of the struggle was not of this branch of his profession, that he changed to within our boundary of home. He was the great the schooner Lucy, with a sort of roving commis, champion of royalty, and never had crowned kingsion, of which the American traders soon became
In a year
tremblingly conscious. He subsequently served in (whom successful rebellion had made foreigners) the Bristol (the flag-ship of Sir Peter Parker) in and the West Indies, and also in dragging into the three degrees of lientenancy; and, in 1778, light the frauds practised by some English officials ere he was yet twenty, the boy was captain of the of no inconsiderable dignity in the islands. He Badger brig, and with men eager to obey him. succeeded in all he undertook, but got small thanks But his just ambition was not yet satisfied ; and and no profit for any service which, in this respect, when in his twenty-first year he had the delight of he rendered to his country. He was much on finding himself posted, and in command of the shore, too ; and it is a fact that his foot no sooner Hinchinbrook, his whole course of daring and dan- touched the land than his good genius left him. gerous service in the Gulf of Mexico plainly man- He fell in love with a widow ; and, what is much ifested that he was ever keeping in view that “top worse, married her. In the island of Nevis he of the tree” whose leafy honors first invited him became acquainted with Mrs. Nisbet, the widow from his father's rectory. The service alluded 10 of a surgeon who had died insane a year and a seriously affected his own health, and cost the half after their marriage, leaving her with one lives of one hundred and ninety out of his crew of son, Josiah, who subsequently owed so much to two hundred men. On his return home he rested Nelson, and thanked him so little for it. At this at Bath for a year.
He had no long leisure to time the captain of the Boreas was a man at whom be ill. The following year saw him in the old Fame held her finger; he never drank wine save French Albermarle, carrying terror along the to the healths of his sovereign, the royal family, Spanish main. In 1782 he was employed in con- and his admiral, and these were always bumper voy service; and, having occasionally some idle toasts to him. He was reserved, grave, and sitime on shore at Quebec, the young commander lent; and it was only occasional flashes that gave got into mischief—that is, he fell most imprudently evidence of the brilliancy within. The narrowinto love. His friends carried him by violence on minded people of Nevis could not make him out; board ; the sea air cured his passion ; and his and Mrs. Nisbet was set at him, as she was exlucky joining with Hood's fleet, and his subsequent pected to make something of him, because “she had busy time in the West Indies, effectually kept his been in the habit of attending to such odd sort of thoughts from any lady then on land. It was at people.” Unfortunately, she made a husband of this period that he became known to the Duke of him. She, perhaps, thought it a condescension Clarence. The royal sailor thought him the to marry a man who was of" puny constitutionmerest boy of a captain that had ever been seen, who was reduced to a skeleton-and who put his and could not but laugh at the gigantic and end- hopes of recovery in asses' milk and doctors." less queue that hung down his back, and seemed However this may be, she never looked upon him to be pulling all the lank unpowdered hair off his as a hero, nor was she worihy of being a hero's head after it. But this plain-looking and youthful wife. She would have been exemplary as the commander was then remarkable for being as well spouse of a village apothecary; she was highly acquainted with all naval matters as the oldest and virtuous, very respectable, and exceedingly illmost experienced captain in the fleet. The piping tempered. The ill-assorted pair were united in time of peace put him for a season on half-pay. 1786 ; they reached England in 1787, in which A portion of 1783, and of the year following it, year Nelson was kept for months on board his was passed in France. With idleness came evil; ship at Sheerness, merely taking in slops and and, having nothing better to do, Nelson fell des- lodging pressed seamen. And then ensued the perately in love with the dowerless daughter of an quietest six years of his life; they were passed at English clergyman, who, there is some reason to Burnham Thorpe, and they were got through with believe, was little affected by the magic he could tolerably good success. As a quiet country couple, offer her of half-pay and love in a cottage.
The there was nothing to disturb their stagnant felicity. sea again stood his friend. In 1784 the Boreas Nelson busied himself in gardening, getting birds'carried him to the Leeward Islands, where, at nests, and fretting for employment. great risk of purse and person, he was actively It came in 1793 ; when, in place of capturing engaged in supporting those Navigation Laws birds’-nests, Nelson, in the Agamemnon, was with which our modern whigs have so ruthlessly the fleet at the capture of Toulon, its forts, and its abolished.
navy. But other things came in 1793, too. NelIn this matter (says Dr. Pettigrew) he was also son was sent to Naples with despatches for our opposed by Major General Sir T. Shirly, the gov- minister, Sir William Hamilton. "He was much ernor of the Leeward Islands, who took in dudgeon on shore, and mischief came of it, of course. Sir the advice of Nelson, and assured him that old gen-William told his wife, the too famous, too erring, erals were not in the habit of taking advice from and yet much sinned-against Lady Hamilton, thal young gentlemen. Upon which Nelson, with much a little man was coming to dine with him, who was promptitude and ingenuity, replied—“Sir, I am as infirm and ill-looking, but who had in him the old as the prime minister of England, and think stuff of a hero, and who was undoubtedly destined myself as capable of commanding one of his majes
If Emty's ships as that minister is of governing the state.” to be the man for the difficulties coming!
ma Hamilton loved a virtue, it was that of courage He was engaged in putting down the illicit and ability in man; she loved heroes, and her ar traffic sought to be carried on by the Americans dent feelings were soon interested in Nelson.
From this period we must speak more generally he could ever hope to employ; but they were all of Nelson's great deeds that we may have fuller outweighed by that which he himself presented to space to treat of matters less known, and in the the corporation of Norwich-the sword that had revealing of which lie the chief merit and the been surrendered to him by his gallant but vanchief recommendation of Dr. Pettigrew's excellent quished foe on board the San Josef. Norwich volumes. Lord Howe appointed him (over five will be proud of her trophy when no memory resenior captains) to blockade Genoa. In 1794 he mains of her crapes and bombazines or of the fair was active against the French in Corsica, and his forms which wore them. The government, too, men so entered into his own spirit that, as he said made him a rear-admiral of the blue. He was himself, they minded shot no more than peas. not an idle one ; he went to sea in the Theseus But for him, Bastia would not have been taken, surrounded by men whose hearts beat in unison nor, perhaps, Cabri, where he received the in- with the pulsations of his own ; he twice bomjury to his right eye which ultimately deprived barded Cadiz-lost his right arm before Teneriffe it of sight. His labor was incessant, and his —reposed a while at Bath to recruit his strength health most wretched ; but he was too busy to be -received some pecuniary reward for the loss of invalided. “ The plan I pursue, (said he,) is it; and, aster publicly thanking the Almighty for never to employ a doctor ;" and, consequently, all His mercies and acknowledging the lightness though he was ill, he kept himself from the peril of his visitations, he was again entrusted to save of growing worse. In 1795, he had his first his country by destroying the then enemies of all “ brush" with the French fleet. He thus modestly mankind. With a squadron of observation he calls a battle, in which he laid the Agamemnon scoured the Mediterranean, and after a search unbetween the Ca Ira and the Censeur, and forced paralleled in its nature, and carrying despair to both to yield. The former was large enough to every heart but his own, he came upon the French put the Agamemnon in her hold. He was now at Aboukir, and make 1798 forever memorable in fully in that vein of conquest which never left him England by the well-won victory which he achieved when a French vessel was before him as an an- at the Nile. If honors poured on him after the tagonist. He now dared to disobey orders when affair at St. Vincent, they descended now in an he judged that circumstances authorized him, and avalanche. His king made him a peer who among he was no bad judge; he had now been engaged men was peerless. Parliament thanked him; the one hundred times—he was literally the hero of nation adored him. Russia endowed him with a hundred fights. His ship when docked, in order colored ribbands—the sultana stuffed his mouth to be refitted, had neither mast, yard, sail, or with sugar-candy-public companies enrolled him rigging, that did not need repair in consequence among their members. Nelson-squares," and of the shot she had received; her hull had long " streets," and“ terraces,” arose without number; been secured by cables sewed around her. Nel- and curates were weary of christening an endless son exhibited such discretion in disobeying orders, succession of Horatios. As for Naples, which and success so invariably followed action that re-country he had saved from the very jaws of the sulted from judgment of his own, that at length French, the people there when he landed nearly his admirals ceased to give him any close orders killed him with kindness and did all but devour at all,
Sir John Jervis left him to act as he him. The king, queen, and the entire court, thought best; the result was that, in two years, kissed his very feet. He turned with something Nelson captured fifty French vessels ; and the navy like disgust from all their homage, and his honest itself, under Jervis and his pale captain, became tongue confessed that he despised those whom it perfectly invincible. Up to 1797 victory followed was his duty to save, and that he loathed in his victory; there was abundance of honor and salt- very soul the entire court, if not the universal peobeef; but neither prize-money nor even notice in ple. He designated the men as scoundrels ; the the Gazelte. He consoled himself by saying that women were what the author of the old ballad of he would one day have a Gazette of his own and“ Nancy Dawson” says that well-known lady was, all to himself. He had well-nigh deserved it for and they cared as little to keep it from their the crowning fight at St. Vincent ; he was in the neighbors ; and he brushed away the imprecation thickest of the struggle where the odds against us on his lips, launched against the Neapolitan ladies, were twenty-seven to fifteen. It made Jervis anto kiss the hand of Emma Hamilton! But there earl and Nelson a knight, and it opened a new era was a distinction, though we are not going to show in naval strategy; for never from that day has where it lay. British captain bent upon victory paused to count From the same year to that which closed the his enemy, or deferred his triumph in calculating century, 1800, his presence was all but ubiquitous the disparity of power.
in the Mediterranean, and his name was uttered Honors were both lavished on, and conferred with awe and reverence all over the world. by, the frail conqueror of the San Josef and the San Within this period he became rear-admiral of the Nicholas. Corporations flung their municipal free- red, and Naples made him Duke of Bronté, in redoms at his feet, and gave him endless invitations turn for his having saved the nation from entire to dinner. The only thing that he ever desig- destruction. Within the same period is on record Dated as dreadful was meeting a provincial mayor that dark event connected with the name of Carand aldermen! They voted him more swords thanracciolo, to which we will hereafter allude ; let
it suffice to say here that after sweeping the Med- them are the gas-pipes constructed which are now iterranean of the enemies of England, and doing a laid down in the Bassa Ville and the suburb of world of good to those who were not worthy of Capecure ! being reckoned her friends-after executing all While thus giving peace to innumerable homes entrusted to him to accomplish, and rendering the in England, he was ever amidst war's loudest thunname of England as a tower of strength and pride der, endeavoring to found a home of peace for himthroughout the world—Nelson returned home self; that home was at Merton, in Surrey, where across Europe. He did not set out without first it was vouchsafed to him for a very brief season. writing a sensible letter to the Pope, whom he had The name of Merton is more closely connected with restored to Rome, in better fashion than Oudinot great men and great acts than many of our readers lately followed in behalf of Pio Nino. According may be aware, and it was the fitting resting-place to the prophecy of honest old Father M'Cormick, for a man who desired to gain breathing time beNelson may be said to have taken Rome with his tween his heroic deeds. It was the birth-place of ships—a feat of which he reminds the Pope, and that Walter de Merton to whose liberality some of remains his very obedient servant." That his our readers may possibly be indebted for the inprogress from Leghorn to Hamburg was one of struction they may have received at Oxford-not such triumph as the world had never seen may be that Merton College has been very famous for turnreadily believed ; for no human being had ever ing out good, at least, great scholars. According deserved such ovation. When he landed at Yar- to a witty master of that college, it ought to have mouth the earth seemed to heave to salute him. possessed more learning than any other in the UniMyriads of men blessed him, wept over him, hailed versity; for, said he,“ many scholars brought him with shouts—in the warmth of their welcome much knowledge there and left it all behind them.” they did all but pay him divine honors. And his Their founder, however, possessed both legal learnwife-how did she spring forward in exultation ing and religious wisdom. The law boasts of him and enduring love, impatient to meet the boat that as one of the great chancellors, and the church apbore her heroic husband ? Alas! Lady Nelson provingly points to him as an exemplary Bishop of was quietly awaiting his arrival at Nerot's hotel Rochester. For much of his learning, and somein town, and so cold and unsatisfactory was her thing of his wisdom, he is indebted to the accomgreeting when the idol of the nation stepped into plished Augustine canons who cultivated both in her presence that the incense of London adulation the old convent founded by Gilbert Norman in 1115, must have proved savory by comparison.
and the prior of which sat in Parliament as a mitred Ere he had leisure to sun his laurels he was abbot. It was at Merton that the early French again afloat, and in the first year of the present invasion under Louis the Dauphin, made with the century he passed the wild and stormy steep of intent of driving Henry III. from his inheritance, Elsinore. The battle was a Titanic struggle, and was compensated for, in 1217, by the treaty of peace giants of the same blood grappled with each other. forced upon the French prince. It was at Merton Equal was the valor, and if our compelled rather that the able De Burgh found refuge from his insathan willing foes had the advantage in means of tiable enemies; above all, it was here that were assault, the better wisdom was ours, without which enacted the famous statutes of Merton. The Parprowess is but a fail apt to wound the skull of him liament of Henry III., which enacted those statutes, who wields it. The battle of the Baltic, so gigan- will be further ever-memorable for the unshakable tically fought and so inimitably won, placed on firmness with which the barons—those reformers Nelson's brow the coronet of a viscount; but he before the Reformation—withstood the insidious did not quit the Baltic until he had fluttered the overtures of the ambitious prelates for the introducRussian fleet at Revel, and, when he returned to tion of the imperial and canon laws. It was at give a report of his mission accomplished, England Merton that was uttered a cry as famous, as signifialready needed him for the fulfilment of another. cant, and as important in its result as the battle Napoleon was at Boulogne, and, with a French signal of Trafalgar. It was there that the barons army, threatening invasion. What the feeling of shouted that famous shout—"Nolumus leges Anthe times was in the parsonages on the Sussex gliæ mutari !" coast-is it not written in the letters of Peter Plim- Of all these things which have conferred undyley? What Nelson's feelings were may be divined ing celebrity on the banks of the little river Wandle, from that saying of his, that the French might come Nelson probably knew 'nothing, and, if possible, any way they pleased, but that they should not cared less. But, notwithstanding this, we repeat come by sea! England trusted him, and he kept that the locality which had been illustrated by huhis word as far as in him lay. If he did not destroy manity, by patriotism, by liberality, and by love of the Boulogne flotilla, he at least demonstrated that freedom, was a becoming spot whereon to spread it could not issue from harbor without his permis- the carpet of repose for him whose humanity was sion nor put out to sea without being destroyed. as great as his courage—whose patriotism was Boulogne has, in some degree, benefited by the without a stain--whose liberality was ever extended rough messengers which he flung into the port as without selfishness, and whose love of freedom visiting cards to intimate that he and his followers made him the invincible foe of the nation that was were outside. Some hundred weight of good Eng- endeavoring to enslave the world. lish iron were projected into the town, and out of Had he been less liberal and more considerate for
himself than for others, he might have preserved prior claim; and the Rev. Mr. Comyn received Merton for his daughter-he would not have been his appointment accordingly to the living asked for compelled to sell his diamonds—and Merton itself that of Bridgham. While treating of the clerneed not have passed to those inheritors of otherical connections of Nelson, we cannot omit noticing men's patrimony—the money-lending Israelites. another trait in the brother who so little resembled
For the fearful fight at Copenhagen, in which him. He thus writes to Lady Hamilton :-" The never were greater perils of navigation overcome, election for the university took place yesterday, nor had there ever been in sea-fight more of English (July 5, 1802 :) the whole was over in five minblood profusely shed—for this fight and victory utes; Mr. Pitt and Lord Euston are reëlected. I Nelson received a token of honor from the sultan; had a bow this morning from Billy in the senatebut his own government granted no medals to the house—so I made up to him and said a word or two victors. They were permitted to wear the orders to him.” sent them by foreign princes, but no such honors Soon after this, Lord Nelson was made a awaited them at the hands of those who interpreted, D. C. L. by the University of Oxford. The hero and, perhaps, influenced the will of King George. was with the Hamiltons and a party of relatives The people gave what the ministry denied ; and on a tour to Wales ; they took Blenheim in their when the father of Nelson calmly closed his eyes way. The duke was at home-he declined reon this world, in the year 1802, almost the last ceiving them ; but he sent them out something to sounds that fell upon his ears were sounds of praise eat! The descendant of Marlborough had not for his noble son. Nelson's brother, the Rev. Dr. been introduced to the man as great as he, from William Nelson, thought Lord Walpole cared little whom alone the duke possessed the only greatness for his connection with the Nelson family, or he he enjoyed, and, therefore, he would not shake would have conferred Burnham Thorpe on the son hands with him! His grace, with the spirit of of the late incumbent—that is to say, on himself. a Frenchman, kept himself as secure from the This reverend gentleman certainly does little credit defender of his country as he well could ; he to his profession, even taking him by his own de- rolled himself up like a hedgehog and kept his scription. When there was a report of his becom- prickles erect. Had it not been for Nelson, he ing successor to the yet living, but indisposed, Dean might not then have had Blenheim wherein to of Exeter, he wrote to his brother—“I wish it may nurture his absurd shyness or absurder pride. At
If you see Mr. Addington soon, you may Blenheim was the only hearth in England at which offer my vote for the University of Cambridge for Nelson was churlishly received, and its master the members of Parliament, and for the county of Nor-only man in the kingdom who did not feel on speakfolk to any candidate he may wish.” “ The dean ing terms with the hero of the Nile. Nelson paid (adds Dr. Pettigrew) died on the 15th of July, and no see, touched no food, and turned from the dwellNelson applied to Mr. Addington, but Dr. Nelson ing of him who owned none of his great ancestor's was not appointed. Exeter failing, in a short time characteristics, save his meanness, with calm conhe directed his views to Durham," and he hinted lempt. his wishes in a letter to Lady Hamilton. After In 1802, hostilities were again renewed, and, as reminding her that he is a doctor of divinity of the a matter of course, all eyes were turned to the deUniversity of Cambridge, and that such a dignified fender of his country. His eyesight was failing ; personage is as much superior to a mere Scottish he had actual fears of becoming blind, but all his M. D.“ as an arch-angel is to an arch-fiend,” this fears were suppressed in his eagerness to be of use man, who had little in him of the angelic and still to his native land. It may be noticed that, in this less of the arch-angelic, offers the lady a bribe of year, Sir William Hamilton died; and the fact Norfolk beafins; and having thus impressed her that Nelson's continued correspondence with the with his dignity, and purchased as he thought her graceful widow is, from this time, no longer adgood will for “half-a-dozen apple-trees,” thus con- dressed to her as “ dear friend,” but “ dearest Emcludes his very undignified epistle :—" I see by the ma,” plainly, perhaps too plainly, denotes the napapers that there is a stall vacant at Durham-Iture of the connection by which they were now suppose worth a thousand a year-in the gift of bound. To judge of him by what he effected and the bishop (Barrington). I remember some years what he endured during this year, we might assert ago, when the Duke of Portland was prime minis- that he never took rest nor thought for anything ver, he secured one for Dr. Poyntz, at Durham. save the welfare of his country, and the fighting There is another vacant at York (if not filled up) condition of his fleet ; but he had leisure devoted in the gift of the archbishop ; but I don't know the to further the welfare of private friends and other value—no very great sum, I believe.” So very deserving individuals, and he could turn from devisillogical a person was as unsuccessful as he de- ing plans for crushing the French to the arrangeserved to be. Lord Nelson's chaplain on board the ment of a paddock. All that he immediately cared Vanguard at the Nile fared better, and merited so for was lest his sight should entirely leave him beto fare. On Nelson's application, Lord Eldon fore he could fall upon the French, who had a design thought himself bound in public duty to pass over upon Naples and Egypt. After he had beaten them, his own personal wishes and also the strong claims he felt almost certain that his eyes would be in total whrieh individuals had upon him to be attentive to eclipse ; he was resigned to the prospective fate, and their welfare. Nelson's chaplain at the Nile had i contemplated it with a grave but manly resignation.