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still surpassed each other. All this is sorrow for ourselves; but still more deeply do I regret that he cannot see the effect his death produced. Not one individual who felt joy at this victory, so well-timed and so complete, but first had an instinctive feeling of sorrow, not selfish sorrow, (for it came before the reflection of the consequences of his loss to us), but the sorrow of affection and gratitude—for what he had done for us; and the first regret was, that he who did the deed should be deprived of the enjoyment which he, above all other men, from his character, would have derived from its effects.
"Could he have lived but long enough to have known that no victory, not even his victories, could weigh in the hearts of Englishmen against his most persevering life, it would have been some consolation. I never saw so little public joy. The illumination seemed dim, and, as it were, half clouded, by the desire of expressing the mixture of contending feelings. Every common person in the streets speaking first of their sorrow for him; and then of the victory.
"Collingwood'8 letter (which is admirable) proves that it was his art to make all under him love him, and own his superiority, without a ray of jealousy. He never was a party man himself, and there was never a party in his fleets. All were governed by one mind, and this made them invincible. He was a true patriot, which is nearly as rare a character as to be the hero he was. He had the aim and spirit of chivalry, and he was the most loyal subject; living and dying for his country, without reference to those who held the helm under that Sovereign, to whom, next to her, he considered himself most bound. This completes a character, which cannot, I fear, appear again in our time."1
The distinguished Nobleman just referred to, has also another paragraph relating to the death of Nelson, which is of exceeding interest:—
"On the receipt of the news of the memorable battle of Trafalgar I happened to dine with Pitt, and it was naturally the engrossing subject of our conversation. I shall never forget the eloquent manner in which he described his conflicting feelings, when roused in the night to read Collingwood's Dispatches. Pitt observed, that he had been called up at various hours in his eventful life by the arrival of news of various hues; but that, whether good or bad, he could always lay his head on his pillow and sink into sound sleep again. On this occasion, however, the great event announced brought with it so much to weep over, as well as to rejoice at, that he could not calm his thoughts, but at length got up, though it was three in the morning."1
1 Vol. iv. p. 342.
Nothing could exceed the public distress for the loss of Nelson. The glory of the victory of Trafalgar, and joy at the happy consequences that must necessarily follow upon such an event, was a secondary consideration to the loss of the hero, and a feeling of exquisite tenderness and gratitude pervaded every bosom. Deeply impressed with this feeling, Coleridge has finely observed :—
"When he died it seemed as if no man was a stranger to another: for all were made acquaintances by the rights of a common anguish. In the fleet itself, many a private quarrel was forgotten, no more to be remembered; many, who had been alienated became once more good friends; yea, many a one was reconciled to his very enemy, and loved, and (as it were) thanked him, for the bitterness of his grief, as if it had been an act of consolation to himself in an intercourse of private sympathy. The tidings arrived at Naples on the day that I returned to that city from Calabria: and never can I forget the sorrow and consternation that lay on every countenance. Even to this day there arc times when I seem to see, as in a vision, separate groups and individual frees of the picture. Numbers stopped and shook hands with me, because they had seen the tears on my cheek, and conjectured that I was an Englishman; and several, as they held my hand, burst, themselves, into tears. And though it may awaken a smile, yet it pleased and affected me, as a proof of the goodness of the human heart struggling to exercise its kindness in spite of prejudices the most obstinate, and eager to carry on its love and honour into the life beyond life; that it was whispered about Naples, that Lord Nelson had become a good Catholic before his death. The absurdity of the fiction
1 Lord Fitzharris's Note Book, 1805. Vol. iv. p. 341. Note.
is a sort of measurement of the fond and affectionate esteem which had ripened the pious wish of some kind individual through all the gradations of possibility and probability into a confident assertion believed and affirmed by hundreds."1
The Hon. Captain Blackwood, the bearer of the Dispatches of the Battle of Trafalgar to England, writes to his wife:—" I am so depressed with both the public loss, and my own private loss in such a friend, that really the victory, and all the other advantages are lost in the mournful chasm, and cause for sorrow in the death of this great and much loved hero. I can scarcely credit he is no more, and that we have, in sight of the Spanish shore, so complete and unheard-of a victory. No man ever died more gloriously, or more sincerely regretted. He was the bravest, most generous, kindest of men 1"
On the 8th of September, 1811, Sir James Mackintosh, according to his Diary (from which extracts are given by his son, in the Memoirs of the Life of his Father),2 finished the perusal of Clarke and McArthur's Life of Lord Nelson. "Finished Nelson's Life. Let me now endeavour to say what I think of him as he originally was, before he was surrounded by that blaze of glory, which makes examination impossible. He seems to have been born with a quick good sense, an affectionate heart, and a high spirit; he was susceptible of the enthusiasm either of the tender or the proud feelings; he was easily melted or inflamed; to say that he was fearless, seems ridiculously unnecessary; he was not merely averse to falsehood or artifice, but he was in the highest degree simple and frank. These qualities of his heart are not mentioned for the idle purpose of panegyric; however singular it may sound, I will venture to affirm that they formed no small part of the genius of Nelson: they secured attachment and confidence, and they reconciled to him the feelings of other men—that great secret in the art of command, which reason alone can never disclose. His understanding was concentrated on his profession; and as danger must always excite where it does not disturb, it acted on his mind, in the moment of action, with the highest stimulant power, and roused his genius to exertions greater than the languor of tranquillity could have produced. Still, Windham certainly, and perhaps Fox, met Captain Nelson at Holkham, without suspecting that he was more than a lively and gallant officer.
1 The Friend, Essay vi. * Vol. ii. p. 135.
"The nature of the service in the Mediterranean must have had an influence in expanding his character. He soon obtained a separate command, co-operating with an army acting on shore in situations full of military or maritime peril, calling forth all the resource, enterprise, and fortitude of an officer. The revolutionary character of the war had, doubtless, a powerful effect; he saw thrones subverted, revolutions effected, counter-revolutions projected, the fate of governments and nations immediately effected by operations in which he had some share. Scarcely emerged from his retreat at his father's parsonage, he began to negotiate with generals, ambassadors, and princes. If he had commanded a ship in a fleet on ordinary service, it is scarcely possible that his spirit should have been so much elevated, and his faculties so much strengthened. He must already have become an extraordinary man, when he was selected by the stern and shrewd St. Vincent for that service, which terminated with such glory.
"In this progress it is easy to see, by his correspondence, how his mind climbed from height to height, till he reached the summit, where the grand images of his country and of glory presented themselves to his view, and kindled that fierce flume of enthusiasm which converted his whole soul into genius. His passion for glory extended even to the most trivial of its outward badges. All the pomps and vanities of the world retained their power over him. Neither pleasantry, nor speculation, nor the familiarity of rank and wealth, had weakened the force of these illusions. He had not lived in that society where wit makes the gratification of vanity ridiculous, or where reason proves their emptiness, or where satiety rejects them with disgust; he came forth from the most humble privacy. Fame, with all her marks, and praise from every source, worked with irresistible efficacy on his fresh and simple mind. The love of glory, and even of praise and of honours; the indignant contempt of money; the sincerity and ardour of his character, and the simplicity and energy of his sayings; give him more the appearance of an ancient than a modern hero."
Similar opinions to those now referred to have been very generally entertained and expressed of the character of Nelson; but it would be uncandid and unjust were I to omit making mention of three points which have often been alluded to as spots upon his otherwise irreproachable name; these all refer to transactions at Naples. It is not without some degree of satisfaction, founded, I trust, upon reasonable grounds, that I venture to hope what has been stated in Chapters VIII. and IX. of the first volume of this work, and the royal papers and letters therein printed, may tend to remove much of the opprobrium which has attached to Nelson, for his repudiation of the Treaty of Capitulation of the Castles Nuovo and Uovo, and the orders given in reference to the trial and execution of Francisco Caracciolo; whilst I trust that the Supplementary Chapters on Lady Hamilton and Miss Horatia Nelson, will serve at least to palliate his conduct, though they may be insufficient to exculpate him from the charge of yielding, certainly under very peculiar circumstances, to the powerful fascinations of perhaps the most beautiful and interesting woman of the age in which she lived.