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officer's kind attentions. During the voyage, his mind was heavily depressed. He had formed an acquaintance with the present Sir Charles Pole, Sir Thomas Troubridge, and other distinguished officers, then like himself beginning their career; and while they were pursuing it in full enjoyment of health and hope, he was returning with a body broken down by sickness, and spirits that had sunk with his strength. Long afterward, when the fame of Nelson was known as widely as that of England itself, he spoke of what he at that time endured: “I felt impressed,” said he, “with an idea, that I should never rise in my profession. My mind was staggered with a view of the difficulties I had to surmount, and the little interest I possessed. I could discover no means of reaching the object of my ambition. After a long and gloomy reverie, in which I almost wished myself overboard, a sudden glow of patriotism was kindled within me, and presented my King and Country as my patrons. • Well then,' I exclaimed, 'I will be a hero, and confiding in Providence, I will brave every danger.'” From that hour, as he often declared to Captain Hardy, a 'radiant orb was suspended before his mind's eye, which urged him onward to renown. No person has ever looked to the attainment of any great object without experiencing similar fluctuations. Nelson spoke of these aspirations of his youth, as if they had in them a character of divinity; as if the light, which led him on, was light from heaven.' His previous fits of dejection, indeed, were altogether causeless. His prospects were fair, and his progress almost as rapid as it could have been. When he reached England, he found his uncle Comptroller of the Navy, and was immediately appointed to act as
fourth lieutenant of the Worcester, 64 guns, Captain Mark Robinson, then on the point of sailing to Gibraltar. His age might have been a sufficient cause for not entrusting him with the charge of a watch; yet the Captain used to say, he felt as easy when Nelson was upon deck, as any other officer in the ship. He passed his examination, April 8, 1777; and on the following day received his commission as Second Lieutenant of the Lowestoffe frigate, Captain William Locker, then fitting out for Jamaica. After a year's active service, he was removed to the Bristol, the flag-ship of Sir Peter Parker, to whom Captain Locker had warmly recommended him. Lord Collingwood, who took the command so many years afterward upon his glorious death at Trafalgar, succeeded him in the Lowestoffe, and again in the flagship, when he was made Commander into the Badger brig at the age of one and twenty. . Six months afterward, he acquired the last step, being made post into the Hinchinbrook, 28 guns.
A plan had been formed by General Dalling, and approved by the government at home, for taking Fort San Juan upon the river of that name, which flows from Lake Nicaragua into the Atlantic. The force appointed for this expedition, amounting to about 500 men, were convoyed by Nelson from Jamaica to the Spanish main; and here his services
* Captain Suckling sat at the head of the table, and when it bad ended in a manner highly honourable to the young aspirant, introduced him as his nephew. The examining Captains expressed their surprise, that he had not told them of this relationship before.' “ No," replied the Comptroller, “I did not wish the younker to be favoured. I felt convinced, that he would pass good examination, and you see I have not been disappointed."
were to have ended. But no one of the party had ever been up the river San Juan; he therefore manned the Mosquito-shore craft, and two of the Hinchinbrook's boats, and resolved to carry them up himself. Of all the services, in which he had been engaged, this was the most perilous. It was the latter end of the dry season : the river was low, full of shoals and sandy beaches; and the men were often obliged to quit the boats, and drag them through shallow channels, which the Indians went before them to explore. This labour, and that of forcing their way up the rapids, was chiefly sustained by the sailors; men accustomed at all times to rely upon their own exertions, and at all times sure to do their duty. Seven or eight hours during the day they were exposed to a burning sun, rendered more intolerable by being reflected from dry shoals of white sand; at night, they suffered equally from heavy dews. On the ninth of April they arrived at a small island called St. Bartholomew, which commanded the river in a difficult part, and was defended by a battery mounting nine or ten swivels. Nelson according to his own phrase, best expressive of a seaman's feeling, resolved to • board' this out-post. Putting himself at the head of a few sailors, he leaped upon the beach. Captain Despard * gallantly supported him, and they stormed the battery. Two days afterward, they came in sight of the castle of San Juan, and began to besiege it on the thirteenth : it surrendered on the twenty fourth. Before that time, the bad weather had set in. Sailors, soldiers, and Indians sunk alike under it; the latter from unwonted exertions, the Europeans from the
deadly effects of a climate allotted by the distribution of nature to a race of different colour. AU, that victory procured them, was a cessation' from toil: no supplies were found, and the castle itself was worse than a prison. The hovels, used as an hospital, were surrounded with putrescent hides ; and when orders were obtained from the Commander in Chief to build one, the sickness had become so general, that there were no hands to work at it. The rains continued, with few intervals, from April till October, when they abandoned their baneful conquest. Of 1800 men, who had been sent to different posts upon this ill-fated scheme, only 380 returned. Nelson narrowly escaped. His advice had been, to carry the castle by assault,' instead of which eleven days were spent in the formalities of a siege: he returned to Bluefield a day before it's surrender, exhausted with fatigue, and suffering under a dysentery. There he received an appointment to the Janus of 44 guns, vacant by the death of Captain Glover.* This providential promotion removed him from the fatal station just in time : he reached Jamaica so much enfeebled by sickness, that he was carried ashore in his cot. The careful attendance of a good old negress, and afterward of Sir Peter Parker, saved his life; but his health had suffered so severely, that he was quickly compelled to return to England.
Not long after his recovery, he was appointed to the Albemarle, 28 guns, and sent to the North Seas. During this voyage, he gained a considerable knowledge of the Danish coast and it's soundings; knowledge, which at the celebrated battle of Copenha
# Son to the author of Leonidas.'
gen, proved of great importance to his country. On his return, he was ordered to Quebec. Here he became acquainted with Mr. Alexander Davison, who saved him from an imprudent marriage. Nelson was about to quit the station, had taken leave of his friends, and fallen down the river to the place where men of war usually anchor : yet, the next morning, as Mr. Davison was walking on the beach, he saw him coming back in his boat. He could not,' he said, leave Quebec without offering himself and his fortune to the woman whom he loved. Davison told him, his utter ruin, situated as he was, must inevitably follow,
“ Then let it ' follow," was his reply; " for I am resolved to do it.”. His friend, however, was equally resolute, that he should not; and after some dispute Nelson, with no very good grace, suffered himself to be led back to his boat.*
Peace was now concluded, and the Albemarle returned to England, and was paid off. Nelson took this opportunity to pass a few months in France: he
* Shortly after this, he became acquainted with Prince William Henry, the present Duke of Clarence, then serving as Midshipman in the Barfleur under Lord Hood. “ I had the watch on deck,” said his Royal Highness, “when Captain Nelson came in his barge along-side, who appeared to be the merest boy of a captain I ever beheld ; and his dress was worthy of attention. He had on a full-laced uniform: his lank unpowdered hair was tied in a stiff Hessian tail of an extraordinary length: the oldfashioned flaps of his waistcoat added to the general quaintness of his figure, and produced an appearance which particularly attracted
notice; for I had never seen any thing like it before, nor could I imagine who he was, or what he came about. There was a something, however, irresistibly pleasing in his address and conversation; and an enthusiasm, when speaking on professional subjects, which showed that he was no common being.”