Imágenes de página



of England, and probably have joined the French if they had been able. His royal highness said, his ships never should join any power against England; but it required not much argument to satisfy him he could not help it. Speaking of the pretended union of the northern powers, I could not help saying, that his royal highness must be sensible that it was nonsense to talk of a mutual protection of trade with a power who had none; and that he must be sensible that the Emperor of Russia would never have thought of offering to protect the trade of Denmark, if he had not had hostility against Great Britain.' He said repeatedly, I have offered to-day, and do


mediation between Great Britain and Russia.'—My answer was, 'A mediator must be at peace with both parties; you must settle your matter with Great Britain at present; you are leagued with our enemies, and are considered naturally as a part of the effective force to fight us.' Talking much on this subject, his royal highness said, “What must I do to make myself equal ?'-A.“ Sign an alliance with Great Britain, and join your feet to ours.? H. R. H. “ Then Russia will go to war with us, and my desire, as a commercial nation, is to be at peace with all the world.' I told him, he knew the offer of Great Britain, either to join us or dis

• Pray, Lord Nelson, what do you call disarming?" My answer was,

- that I was not authorized to give an opinion on the subject, but I considered it as not having on foot any force beyond the customary establishment.' • Do you consider the guardships in the Sound as beyond that common establishment?' I do not,' • We have always had five sail of the line in the Cattegat and coast of Norway. I am not authorized to define what is exactly disarming; but I do not think such a force will be allowed. H. R. H. “When all Europe is in such a dreadful state of confusion, it is absolutely necessary that states should be on their guard.'- Your royal highness knows the offer of England, to keep twenty sail of the line in the Baltic.' He then said, “I am sure my intentions are very much misunderstood.' To which replied, that Sir Hyde Parker had authorized me to say, that

upon certain conditions his royal highness might have an opportunity of explaining his sentiments at the court of London. I am not authorized to say on what conditions exactly.' . But what do you think?' • First, a free entry of the British fleet into Copenhagen, and the free use of every thing we may want from it-'before I could get on he replied quick- That you shall have with pleasure.' next is, whilst this explanation is going on, a total suspension of your treaties with Russia. These I believe are the foundations on which Sir Hyde Parker only can build other articles for his justification in suspending his orders, which are plain and positive.' His royal highness then desired me to repeat what I had said, which having done, he thanked me for my open conversation, and having made an apology if I had said any thing which he might think too strong, his royal highness very handsomely did the

[ocr errors]

• The I saw

same, and we parted; he saying, that he hoped we would cease from hostilities to-morrow : on such an important occasion he must call a council. My reception was such as I have always found it, far beyond my deserts.

- Count Bernstoff for a moment, and could not help saying he had acted a very wrong part, in my opinion, in involving the two countries in the present melancholy situation, for that our countries ought never to quarrel. I had not time to say more, as the prince sent for me, and Count Bernstoff was called the moment I came out of the room. The king's brother and his son desired I might be presented to them, which I was, and then returned on board. Yesterday evening I received from General-Adjutant Lindholin the English papers to March 24, with a hope that what I had said to the prince would make peace. I find all the country hate both the Russians and Swedes. Again begging your pardon for this long letter, I will only add, that I am ever your most obliged,


(Original Letter, II.)

St. George, April 9, 1801. « MY DEAR SIR,

Negociation is certainly out of my line; but being thrown into it, I have endeavoured to acquit myself as well as I was able, I trust you will take into consideration all the circumstances which have presented themselves to my view.-1. We have beat the Danes. 2. We wish to make them feel that we are their real friends; therefore have spared their town, which we can always set on fire ; and I do not think if we burnt Copenhagen it would have the effect of attaching them to us; on the contrary, they would hate us. 3. They understand perfectly that we are at war with them for their treaty of armed neutrality made last year. 4. We have made them suspend the operations of that treaty. 5. It has given our fleet free scope to act against Russia and Sweden, which we never should have done although Copenhagen had been burned; for Sir Hyde Parker was determined not to leave Denmark hostile in his rear. 6. Our passage over the ground might have been very seriously interrupted by the batteries near Draco. 7. Every reinforcement, even a cutter, can join us without molestation; and also provisions, stores, &c.&c. 8. Great Britain is left with the stake of all the Danish property in her hands, her colonies, &c. if she refuses peace. 9. The hands of Denmark are tied, ours are free to act against her confederate allies, 10. Although we might have burnt the city, I have my doubts whether we could their ships. All these considerations weighed deeply in my mind, added to which, we have shewn them that it was not because we feared fighting them that we negociated, but for the cause of humanity towards Denmark, and the wish to conci.. liate their affections. All these matters have affected my mind, nor shall I have a moment's rest till I know at least that I am not thought to have done mischief. After we had forced the expression of the suspension of the treaty of armed neutrality, a point very difficult for fear of Russia, I said to the princeNow, Sir, this is settled, suppose we write peace instead of armistice ?! To which he replied - That he should be happy to have a peace, but he must bring it about slowly, so as not to make new wars.' He asked, “whether some method could not be thought of to prevent the mortifications to which ships of war with convoy were liable by being stopped ?' To which I answered • I thought there might very easily.' I did not enter further on the subject with him, although I did to his Adjutant-General of the fleet, Lindholm, who seems much in his confidence.

“My idea is, that no convoys shall be granted to any vessels bound to ports at war with us; and that if any such convoy is granted, it shall be considered as an act of hostility. And that if any

vessel under convoy proceeds to an enemy of England's port, the owners shall lose the value of his ship and cargo, and the master be severely punished. On these foundations I would build a prevention against future disputes. But all these matters I leave to wiser heads; and shall only assure you that I am truly, with the greatest respect, your most faithful and obedient servant,

“ NELSON & BRONTE.” “ I have the pleasure to tell you that Count Bernstoff was too ill to make me a visit yesterday; I had sent hir

a message to leave off his ministerial duplicity, and to recollect he had now British admirals to deal with, who came with their hearts in their hands. I hate the fellow.

“ Colonel Stewart, a very fine, gallant man, will give you every information."

(Original Letter, III.)

.“ St. George, May 5, 1801. * MY DEAR SIR,

I feel very much flattered by your truly kind letter, and also for the kind expressions you were so good as to send me by Colonel Stewart. I am sorry that the armistice is only approved under all considerations. I own myself of opinion, that every part of the all was to the advantage of our king and country: I stated many of my reasons for thinking it advantageous. We knew not of the death of Paul, or change of sentiment in the court of Prussia, if her sentiments are changed: my object was to get at Revel before the frost broke up-at Cronstadt, that the twelve sail of the line might be destroyed. I shall now go there as a friend, but the two fleets shall not form a junction, if not already accomplished, unless my orders permit it. My health is gone, and although I should be

happy to try and hold out a month or six weeks longer, yet death is no respecter of persons. I own at present I should not wish to die a natural death; but to the last believe me, dear Sir,

“ Yours, &c.

66 NELSON & BRONTE.", The first lord of the Admiralty bestowed upon him unqualified approbation; the prime minister moved the thanks of the parliament; and the dignity of viscount was immediately conferred upon him. Still, however, some doubts as to the completeness of the victory hung over the minds of his country

In the words of Lord Nelson, “they are never satisfied, either empty or full;”—and we présume that the latter epithet was intended for the lord mayor and aldermen, who for some reason declined to vote their thanks for the victory off Copenhagen. These misapprehensions naturally made Lord Nelson very anxious to place the merits and gallantry of the brave men who served their country on that day in their true light; and we have before us several letters in which he successfully urges their claims to compensation for the prizes destroyed, and to the medals usually given to those concerned in brilliant victories. He was also indefatigable in placing the circumstance of the flag of truce in its true light.

“ Many,” says he," thought it was a ruse de guerre, and not quite justifiable; my enemies, I believe, attributed it to a desire to have no more fighting, and few, very few, to the cause that I felt, and which I trust in God I shall retain till the last moment, hu. manity. When my flag of truce went on shore, the Crown batteries and the batteries on Amak were firing at us, one half of their shot necessarily striking their own ships which had surrendered, and our own fire did the same and worse ; for the surrendered ships had four of them got close together-it was a massacre.

This caused my note. It was a sight which no real man could have enjoyed. I felt when the Danes became my prisoners I became their protector, &c. &c. “As to the armistice, I looked upon the northern league to be like a tree, of which Paul is the trunk, and Sweden and Denmark the branches. If I can get at the trunk and hew it down, the branches will fall of course: but I may lop the branches, and yet not be able to fell the tree; and my power must be weaker when its greate est strength is required. If we could have cut up the Russian fleet, that was my object. Denmark and Sweden deserved whipping but Paul deserved exemplary punishment. I own I consider the armistice as a wise measure; and I wish my reputation to stand upon its merits.” (MS. letter.)

In the cover inclosing these reasons he writes If you and some other friends approve, I care not: I have dispersed the reasons to several hands, for I feel hurt. Trusting that God Almighty will allow me to present myself at your door, I am, &c.” (MS. letter.)

The unsuccessful attempt upon the incipient flotilla at Boulogne was the next service performed by Lord Nelson: but for this service, as Mr. Southey well observes, no Nelson was required.

“ We had not at that time proved the superiority of our soldiers over the French; and the unreflecting multitude were not to be persuaded that an invasion could only be effected by numerous and powerful fleets. A general alarm was excited ; and in condescension to this unworthy feeling Lord Nelson was appointed to a command extending from Orfordness to Beachy Head on both shores; a sort of service, he said, for which he felt no other ability than what might be found in his zeal.” Page 170, vol. ii.

The following letter, written during a bomba dment a few days before the principal attempt, contains his opinion of the danger arising from that formidable flotilla.

(Original Letter, IV.)

Medusa, off Bologne, August 4th, 1801. « MY DEAR SIR,

“ I think I may venture to assure you that the French army will not embark at Boulogne for the invasion of England. They are suffering this morning from allowing a collection of craft to be assembled in their port. Five vessels of different descriptions are sunk on the outside the pier by our shells. They were all filled with heavy guns, and full of men : what damage has taken place inside the pier cannot be ascertained; but judging from the outside we may suppose it considerable.

“Ever, my dear Sir, your, &c.

66 NELSON & BRONTE.” Of the principal attempt he writes, August 21, 1801.

“ Had our boats in my late attempt arrived at the same moment, the hole would ve come over to our shores. I purpose looking at Flushing, and, if possible, will go up and attack the ships.” (This the great Nelson, upon investigation, thought impossible without too great a risk!) " Lord St. Vincent tells me he hates councilsso do I-for when a man consults whether he shall fight, when he has the power in his own hands, it is certain that his opinion is against fighting But that is not the case at present, and I own I do want good counsel. Lord St. Vincent is for keeping the enemy closely blockaded; but I see that they get along shore within their sandbanks, and under their guns on the coast. Lord Hood is for keeping our squadrons of defence stationary on our own shore, except light cutters, to give information of the enemy's movements; for the

« AnteriorContinuar »