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"Ottensen par Altona, No. 43, le 20 Avril, 1801.
"My dear and glorious Nelson, "Victory is for ever bounded to your name, as my friendship to your character. I hope the peace with the Northern Powers will give another turn to your constant successes more profitable for the public cause. Paul's foolish brain destroyed our hopes, they revive with the successor. If you have the charge of the Mediterranean sea, we can together deliver Italy and France of the democratic tyranny. I desire nothing else. After that take your leave, and spend the remnant of your life in the calmness, shadowed with the laurels you for yourself implanted. Farewell, dear Nelson, and be constant in friendship as you are in triumphing of internal foes and external ennemys.
w Your for ever affectionate friend,
In the month of May, his correspondence with Lady Hamilton was frequent, and he was restless to return to England, as the following letters will shew :—
in taking Liege, Antwerp, and Flanders. The trial of Louis XVI. took him to Paris, and after the execution of the Sovereign he became an ardent advocate of Constitutional Monarchy. Entering into negotiations with Prince Cobourg, he was enabled to withdraw his army from Holland, and retired to Tournay, evacuated Belgium, and established his head-quarters at St. Amand, in 1793. Accused of treason, the Convention of Paris summoned him to their bar, but he refused to obey the mandate, and imprisoned those sent to arrest him as hostages for the safety of the Royal Family. His troops, however, refusing to march upon Paris, he took refuge in the Austrian head-quarters, and afterwards sought an asylum in Switzerland, then wandered about, hated as a Constitutionalist, and, under the fear of being taken prisoner, a reward of 300,000 francs having been offered by the National Convention of Paris for his apprehension, he fled to England; afterwards took up his abode at Hamburgh, and is known as the writer of numerous political works, as well as Memoirs of his own life, which appeared at Hamburgh in 2 vols. 8vo. 1794, and were translated into English, and published in London in 3 vols. 8vo 1796. He rendered some services to the British Government, and was rewarded with a pension. He enjoyed intimacy with, and was highly esteemed by. His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent. From 1804, he resided in England, and died at the age of eighty-four years at Turville Park, near Healey-upon-Thames, March 14,1823.
VOL. II. E
"St. George, May 2nd, 1801. "My dearest Friend,
"I am waiting for the sailing of the Blanche frigate, which is destined to carry the answers of the next vessel to England, and the vessel we have been expecting every day for this week. I have been so very indifferent, and am still so weak, that I cannot take the journey to Hamburgh by land, or I should have been off long ago. I shall get on shore the first land we make in England, but as it is likely to be Yarmouth, I should rejoice to find a line of your friendly hand at the Wrestlers. I dare not say much, as most probably all my letters are read.
"Ever your faithful and affectionate."
"My dearest Friend, from all I now see, it is not possible that this fleet can be much longer kept here, and I find that although from others, there may be much self, yet Mr. Addington wishes me to have the sweets of seeing this business finished: it must soon happen. We must cheer up for the moment, at present we are in the hands of others. We shall be masters one day or other.
"Blanche just going."
"My dearest Friend, again and again I thank you for all your goodness. I cannot say anything, my heart is full and big. Hardy and Parker are at work sealing up. I hope this will be the last packet I send off—the next shall be myself. In the meantime I send you six bottles of Old Hock, 200 years of age, if you believe it—so says the Prince of Denmark's Aide-de-camp; only ten bottles came, so they stole two. I send you the Danish line of defence,1 correct in the minutest degree. Have a good glass and frame to put to it. I shall repay you the expense when we meet—'tis to add to the Nelson Room. There is a print coming out something similar. I have wrote Mr. Beckford, pray give him the letter. You may shew the line of defence to Troubridge—it is perfect to one gun and shape of vessel. Ever yours,
"Nelson And Bronte."
Receiving, however, on the 5th, intelligence of his having been appointed Commander-in-chief in the Baltic, he was necessitated to remain:—
1 See Plate, ante.
*' St. George, May 5th, 1801. "My dearest Friend, "All my things were on board the Blanche, and Sir Hyde was to have dismissed me this day, but alas, in the night arrived Colonel Stewart, which has overturned all my plans. Sir Hyde has worked his leave of absence, he is ordered home, and I am appointed Commander-in-chief. To paint or describe my grief is impossible. I have this day wrote to the Admiralty that my health is in such a state that they must send out some person who has strength enough to get on with the business. Sir Hyde sets off in the Blanche. 1 will write fully by way of Hamburgh to-morrow.
"Nelson And Bronte."
He wrote on the same day to Mr. Davison and says: "A Command never was, I believe, more unwelcomely received by any person than by myself. It may be at the expense of my life; and therefore, for God's sake, at least for mine, try if I cannot be relieved. The time was, a few months ago, that I should have felt the honour, and I really believe that I should have seen more of the Baltic, the consequence of which I can guess. But nothing, I believe, but change of climate can cure me, and having my mind tranquil."1 To the Earl of St. Vincent he likewise wrote: "I am, in truth, unable to hold the very honourable station you have conferred upon me." Yet the extraordinary activity of his mind is apparent in the following lines immediately succeeding the above: "If Sir Hyde were gone, I would now be under sail, leave six sail of the line off Bornholm to watch the Swedes, and to cover our communication, and go to Revel, where I should at least, if not too late, prevent the junction of the two squadrons: that I shall never suffer. I will have all the English shipping and property restored; but I will do nothing violently; neither commit my country, nor suffer Russia to mix the affairs of Denmark or Sweden with the detention of our ships. Should I meet the Revel squadron, I shall make them stay with me until all our English ships join; for we must not joke. As the business will be settled in a fortnight, I must entreat that some person may come out to take this command."1
1 Dispatches and Letters, Vol. iv. p. 353. 1 ClarVe and McArthur, Vol. ii. p. 285.
The Armistice, which he had been the chief instrument in making, was approved of at home under all considerations, and he wrote to the Hon. Henry Addington: "I am sorry that the Armistice is only approved under all considerations. Now 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 a change of sentiments in the Court of Russia, 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."2 And again on the 8th: "Forgive me for one moment, but so much having been said, both by friends and enemies, why I sent on shore a Flag of Truce on the 2nd of April, and but few seemed pleased with the Armistice, I take the liberty of sending the reasons why I sent the Flag of Truce, and also my reasons why I think the Armistice was a proper measure. If you and some other friends approve, I care not. I have dispersed the reasons to several hands, for I feel hurt."3
One of the papers alluded to was forwarded, together with the following correspondence, to Lady Hamilton :—
"May 8th, 1801. "My dearest Friend,
"As both my friends and enemies seem not to know why I sent on shore a Flag of Truce, the former, many of them, thought it was a ruse de gwrre, and not quite justifiable; the latter, 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 to the last moment, humanity. I know it must to the world be proved, and therefore I will suppose you all the world to me.
3 From an Autograph in the Sidmouth Papers.
"First, no ship was on shore near the Crown batteries, or any where else within reach of any shore when my Flag of Truce went on shore; the Crown batteries, and the batteries on Amack, and in the Dockyard were firing at us, one half their shot necessarily striking the ships who had surrendered, and our fire did the same, and worse, for the surrendered ships had four of them got close together, and 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, and if that had not been a sufficient reason, the moment of a complete victory was surely the proper time to make an opening with the nation we had been fighting with. When the Truce was settled and full possession taken of our prizes, the ships were ordered, except two, to proceed and join Sir Hyde Parker, and in performing this service, the Elephant and Defiance grounded on the middle ground. I give you verbatim an answer to a* part of a letter from a person high in rank about the Prince Royal, which will bear testimony to the truth of my assertions, viz. 'As to your Lordship's motives for sending a Flag of Truce to our Government it never can be misconstrued, and your subsequent conduct has sufficiently shewn that humanity is always the companion of true valour. You have done more, you have shewn yourself a friend of the re-establishment of peace and good harmony between this country and Great Britain.'
"If, after this, either pretended friends or open enemies say any thing upon the subject, tell them THEY BE DAMNED. Get Mr. Este, or some other able man, to put these truths before the public. Envious men and enemies wish to hurt me, but truth will stand its ground, and I feel as firm as a roch. I have wrote strongly to Mr. Nepean to come home. Why should I stay?
"Your true and faithful,
"Nelson And Bronte."