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ON THE ARMISTICE.
"Much having been said relative to the bad terms of the Armistice made with Denmark, I wish to observe, first, that the Armistice was only intended a military one, and that all political subjects were left for the discussion of the Ministers of the two powers.
"Peace, Denmark could not, in the moment, make with you, as the moment she made it with you, she would lose all her possessions except the island of Zealand, and that also the moment the frost set in, therefore there was no damage we could do her equal to the loss of every thing; our destruction would have been Copenhagen and her fleet, then we had done our worst, and not much nearer being friends. By the Armistice we tied the arms of Denmark for four months from assisting our enemies and her Allies, whilst we had every part of Denmark and its provinces open to give us every thing we wanted. Great Britain was left the power of taking Danish possessions and ships in all parts of the world, whilst we had locked up the Danish Navy, and put the key in our pocket. Time was afforded the two countries to arrange matters on an amicable foofing; besides, to say the truth, I look upon the Northern league to be like a tree, of which Paul was the trunh, and Sweden and Denmark the branches. If I can get at the trunh and hew it down, the branches 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 greatest strength is required. If we could have cut up the Russian fleet, that was my object. Denmark and Sweden deserved whipping, but Paul deserved punishment. I own I consider it as a wise measure, and I wish my reputation to stand upon its merits.
[" Duplicate originals sent by way of Rostock this day. Heavens bless you, save our friends; a letter goes this day also by the Danish post, and also by Rostock."]
"May 8th, 1801. "My dearest Friend,
"I hope you have received my numerous letters sent by the post since April 10th, say six or seven or more, but perhaps they never will arrive. The Post Office in Denmark may stop them, although an English merchant, Mr. Balfour, said he would take care and send them under cover to his merchant. The Cruizer arrived yesterday, and Sir Thomas Troubridge had the nonsense to say, now I was a Commander-in-chief I must be pleased. Does he take me for a greater fool than I am, for if I had ever such good health, that I must soon be a complete beggar if I staid, I will explain to you. Sir Hyde Parker, when he had the command in the Baltic given to him, had the chance of great honours and great riches from the prizes to be taken; but that was not enough for such a great officer; he had the emolument of the whole North Sea command given to him, and taken from Dickson, and of course I had then the honour of sharing one-fifth part as much as Sir Hyde Parker, Dickson, Totty,1 &c. will share for the Danish battle, and Sir Hyde, I dare say, will get near £5000. Now, what is done for me? Orders not to make prizes in the Baltic. My commission as Commander-in-chief does not extend to the North Sea, therefore I can make no prize-money here, and am excluded from sharing with Dickson what may be taken in the North Seas. He shares for my fighting; but if the Dutch come out, and he fights, I am not to have one farthing. I have now all the expenses of a Commander-inchief, and am stripped even of the little chance of prize-money, which I might have had by being in a subordinate situation. This is the honour, this is my reward—a prison for debt. I see no other prospect. I have wrote very strongly by the Arrow, which left us your birth-day. I wrote by Sir Hyde, desiring they would send out another Commander-in-chief, and I have wrote it again this day. Why should I die to do what pleases those who care not a damn about me? I will try and bear up and return; but it breaks my poor heart. My conduct is surely different, or I know not myself. "Your truly affectionate,
"nelson And Bronte."
1 This officer commanded the Invincible, which was lost, going out of Yarmouth Roads to join the Baltic fleet. He died of an attack of yellow fever in the West Indies, June 2, 1802, a Rear-Admiral.
"St. George, May 8th, 1801. Baltic. u My dearest Friend, "Under your kind care I might recover, and I trust in God I shall be supported till that time arrives. You understand every thing in what I have said, for this letter will be read ten times at least before you get it. I trust another Admiral is on his way to supersede me, for it is downright murder to keep me here. If I could fight a battle, the smell of powder and exertion might cheer one for the moment. Had the command been given me in February, many lives would have been saved, and we should have been in a very different situation; but the wise heads at home know every thing. I have wrote this day a packet for you with all my public letters, by way of Rostock and Hamburgh; therefore if you see Troubridge, say I have wrote to him, Nepean, and the Earl, that way. I have wrote you more letters by the Danish post, but I have not heard of one getting to you, therefore I must not say a word. How are all our friends? They may depend I am firm as a rock—'tis not a Dukedom and £50,000. a year could shake me. Whilst I live my honour is sacred.
"Damn our enemies—bless our friends.
"I am not such! a hypocrite as to bless them that hate us, or if a man strike me on the cheek to turn the other—No, hnoch him down, by God.
"Some cruel remarks have been made in some of the papers relative to the first Flag of Truce and the Armistice. All false, for I feel all honourable for me. I have answered them by way of Rostock, and you must get some able friend to fit them out for the public eye, for I will not sit down quietly and have my public character pulled to pieces. Colonel Stewart is now my guest; Hardy, &c. are all well. Thank Lady Malmesbury for her congratulations. George Elliot is very well, but cannot be expected to write. May the heavens bless you."
Sir Hyde Parker had received several letters acquainting him that many vessels with corn for England, from the Baltic, had been arrested in the ports of Norway; Lord Nelson, therefore, wrote through Adjutant-General Lindholm to Count Bernstorff, to require their freedom of passage. To this application the following replies were given:—
"Copenhagen, May 6th, 1801. 7 o'clock in the afternoon.
"I have had the honour to receive your Lordship's letter of this date. I have delivered the letter to Count Bernstorff, who will inform himself about the corn affair in Norway, and he will have the honour to send your Lordship his answer as soon as possible. Count Bernstorff presents his respects to your Lordship.
"I remember that some Swedish ships laden with corn, and bound to England, were seized in Norway, but they were not seized because they were bound to England, but the reason was, that the people in that part of Norway were in such a want of bread, that the King's officers were obliged to buy it, and paid the cargo to the master of the vessels.
"The Prince Regent presents his compliments to your Lordship, and his Royal Highness is very sensible of the attention and kindness which your Lordship has expressed in the letter which I have had the honour to receive this day. I beg you to receive the assurance of the great esteem with which I have the honour to subscribe myself, my Lord, "Your Lordship's most obedient,
"and humble servant,
"Right Hon. Lord Nelson, Duke of BronttS Vice-Admiral of the Blue, and Knight of the most Honourable Order of the Bath."
"Copenhagen, May 12th, 1801. "My Lord, "I have the honour to congratulate your Lordship as Commander-in-chief of the Baltic fleet, and I wish very sincerely that your Lordship may enjoy a perfect health.
"I hear with great satisfaction that Lord St. Helens is appointed Ambassador to the Court of Petersburgh, and that we can soon expect him in our Roads, passing in his way to that capital. I hope that the differences between Great Britain and the Northern Powers will be settled in a short period, and that peace and friendship will be established on a firm basis. The English Ministers have shewn their inclination to settle things in a satisfactory manner to all trading nations, by making a change with the Courts of Vice-Admiralty in the West Indies, whose conduct in many instances has been highly iniquitous.
"I have the honour to send your Lordship a letter from Count Bernstorff, and I am assured that he has given a satisfactory information about the corn ships in Norway.
"The Certificate,1 signed by three officers, of the number of men who were on board the ships on the 2nd of April, is here inclosed, and some letters found on the coast near Kioge.
"I have the honour to remain with the greatest esteem, "My Lord, "Your Lordship's most obedient
"and humble servant,
"H. LlNDHOLM. "Right Hon. Lord Nelson."
The state of things consequent upon the arrangements with Denmark on the accession of the new Czar, and his expressed desire for conciliatory measures and conduct, rendered an extraordinary mission to Petersburgh essential. Lord St. Helens was appointed to this important embassy; and his Majesty George III., in a note to Mr. Addington, dated from Kew, May 12, 1801, states:—"As the King relies on every thing being settled to the mutual advantage of both countries, he shall feel much personally gratified in rewarding Lord St. Helens on the completion of the business, by placing him in the British House of Peers."* The embassy was entirely successful; a treaty was signed on the 17th of June, 1801, and the right of searching vessels belonging to the subjects of either of the contracting parties when accompanied by one of their own ships of war, was placed on its proper basis.
1 See page 15, ante. * Life of Lord Sidmoutb, Vol. i. p. 386.