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From being under easy canvass, in a few minutes the single reef was shook out of our topsails, and they were swayed up to the mast head. Topgallant sails and royals, studding sails below and aloft, were expanded to catch every puff of wind, which else would have passed by us. Now she began to slip through the water at a rapid rate and to talk,* whilst her impulse on the bosom of the deep was "making the green one (white.)" On the 24th of July, we made the lofty Peak of Teneriffe, and soon after hove in sight the three line-ofbattle ships of Admiral Nelson's squadron in the offing. An attempt had been made on the night of the 22d to land some of the men from the frigates, which, for this purpose, had come to an anchor close in shore, to the eastward of Santa Cruz. A landing was actually effected, but the fortifications were found to be so numerous and powerful, and the heights so inaccessible, as to render success hopeless. The men therefore re-embarked, and happily effected a return to their ships without detection and without loss. By this time, the sight of such an armament hovering on the coast gave the alarm to the inhabitants, and rendered the difficulty of the enterprise proportionably greater. Nelson, however, had formed his plan, and was determined, if he could do nothing else, not to return without giving the Spaniards a specimen of British daring. He resolved to make an assault upon the garrison of Santa Cruz itself. The same afternoon on which we joined the squadron, all the ships came to an anchor at the distance of six or eight miles from the town, intending, under cover of the night, to throw as many men as could be spared from the ships on shore to surprise and take the place. For this purpose, about a thousand seamen and marines, together with a small proportion of artillery, were got in readiness from the respective ships. All the boats in the squadron were put
in requisition, and filled with men. The Fox cutter, containing about two hundred men, stowed as close as they could possibly be, was added to the number. The boats were charged to keep as close as possible together, and to preserve the utmost quietness. Unfortunately for our expedition, the night proved very unfavourable, as the wind blew fresh, and At created a considerable swell. about eleven o'clock at night, all the boats made for the pier, in six divisions, having the Fox cutter in tow, the whole preceded by Admiral Nelson, about two or three miles a-head of the rest, in his gig, accompanied by three or four other boats. Dark as was the night, and stealing as quietly as possible along the shore, we were discovered by the sentinels. A scene, the most sublime I ever witnessed, ensued. In an instant, from a deathlike silence, all the bells in the place began to ring; the shore all along resounded with their irregular and discordant peals. At the same moment, the blazing fire and tremendous roar of upwards of thirty pieces of cannon, reverberated from the ocean, in contrast with the immediately preceding silence and darkness of midnight. The sensation was thrilling. Had it been on any other occasion, it would have been enchanting. Increasing tumult on shore, confused shouts of men, and the rattling of carriages hastening to the posts of principal danger, were distinctly heard by us; whilst our redoubled energies were employed in concentrating our forces to commence the attack. Perceiving our
selves to be too near the shore and the range of the enemy's guns, we were especially anxious to tow the Fox cutter further out to sea; this, however, could not be attempted without incurring the danger of a raking fire from one of the batteries. In our endeavour to effect this purpose, several of the enemy's shots told upon us severely; one especially most disastrously struck the Fox cut
* A significant phrase for the gurgling noise made by a vessel when she is booming through the sea with a favourable gale. The classical scholar will recollect a passage in Homer, in which this circumstance is described with inimitable beauty, and will not be displeased at its insertion here:
Εν δ ̓ ἄνεμος πρῆσεν μέσον ἱστίον, ἀμφὶ δὲ κῦμα
ter just between wind and water, and she almost immediately sunk. Notwithstanding all our exertions to save our brave fellows, upwards of one half of them perished in the waves.
By this time Admiral Nelson's detachment had reached the pier, and most of the men had effected a landing under a heavy fire from the shore. Just as he himself was stepping out of the boat, and in the very act of drawing his sword, he was struck on the elbow by a cannon ball, when he exclaimed, "Oh, Freemantle, I've lost my arm!" He was immediately conveyed on board his ship, where, after the amputation of his arm, he was put to bed, strong opiates having been administered to lull the pain. The statement which obtained currency of his having written dispatches with his left hand, in the evening of the same day when he lost his arm, is incorrect; it was not till three days afterwards that he wrote his dispatches.
In spite of all these discouragements, together with the loss of another boat and eight men, our brave fellows rushed forward in the face of three or four hundred of the besieged, carried the Mole by storm, spiked the guns with which the place was defended, and were advancing under a heavy fire of musketry and grape shot; but in this dreadful confict nearly the whole of our men fell, amongst whom were Captain Brown and his first lieutenant. The other detachment, unable to reach the point they first intended, effected a partial landing to the southward of the citadel. Here, however, the swell was so great, that many boats were unable to land their men, and several were swamped and stove in. The men who got on shore made their way to a monastery, expecting to meet with the party under Admiral Nelson. Disappointed as they were, they had yet the hardihood to defend themselves, and even sent a summons for the surrender of the citadel. After holding out till daybreak, they were obliged to send a flag of truce, of which Captain Hood was the bearer, stipulating that they should be allowed to re-embark without molestation, otherwise that the fleet, which was before the town, would
destroy it. During the negotiation between our deputation and the governor, the latter spoke through an interpreter, with a view no doubt to detect them in some statement which might have given him an advantage against them; for no sooner was the treaty ended, than he spoke English as fluently as possible. Glad to get rid of such troublesome guests, he consented to all that was proposed to him, supplying what boats were necessary to assist our men to reach the ships; and exceeding the terms which were stipulated, by supplying our men with meat and drink, receiving the wounded British into their hospital, and allowing the fleet to purchase whatever refreshment they needed whilst they lay before the place: exemplifying the religion they professed." If thy enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink."―Thus, alas! the golden dream vanished in air; but the sorrowful consequences remained. British valour, like that of Jason and his companions of yore, had achieved exploits almost as miraculous as theirs, and equally deserving of the Golden Fleece: destiny alone rendered their bravery unavailing.
A mournful service was yet to be performed. The remains of the gallant Richard Bowen, captain of the Terpsichore, and his first lieutenant, were to be brought off the island. As though our very enemies were desirous of paying a tribute to their merit as warriors, and participated in our grief at their loss, their bodies were conveyed by the Spaniards, in one of their own boats, on board our ship. Preparation was now made for their funeral. The scene was most affecting. As brave and deserving an officer as ever fought the battles of his country on the deep, and, by the express testimony of Nelson himself, as worthy of the gratitude of the British nation as any whose memory is preserved in Westminster Abbey, together with his Fidus Achates, was now to be consigned to the inviolable ocean. We were at this time under canvass, and out of soundings: all hands were piped upon deck to add dignity and circumstance to the funeral. There the graceful warriors lay stretched out upon the gratings.*
* Several heavy shots were enclosed in each of the coffins, the more readily to sink. them.
The most solemn and respectful silence was observed, whilst Captain Thompson proceeded to read the funeral service. Unaccustomed as are the British tars to shew the softer passions, unsusceptible as they may sometimes be thought of the finer feelings, the hardy features of most of them were relaxed into pensive melancholy, and the silent tear was seen falling by stealth from the eyes of several whose recollections of companionship in deeds of valour overcame, for a moment, their usual hardihood. The effect was really solemn, when the corpses were launched into the mighty ocean, just as our Captain ended the following part of the service appointed for the burial of the dead at sea:-"We therefore commit their bodies to the deep, to be turned into corruption, looking for the resurrection of the body, (when the sea shall give up her dead,) and the life of the world to come, through our Lord Jesus Christ; who at his coming shall change our vile body, that it may be like his glorious body, according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself." A scene of a very different nature was soon to engage our attention. Not long after our arrival before Cadiz, the captains of all the ships in the fleet were summoned on board the Admiral's flag-ship to form a court-martial, to try the case of a mutiny which had been concerted on board one of the ships of the squadron on our return from Santa Cruz. The boatswain of the Emerald frigate, with the purpose of revenging some real or pretended injury received from the captain and officers, had instigated a conspiracy against their lives. The plot was arranged, and the time for its execution was just arrived, when the following incident providentially prevented its perpetration. As the boatswain was in close conversation with one of his associates below, one of the sailors happened to be in the immediate neighbourhood unperceived, and distinctly overheard him saying, "I tell you what, Bob, I foresee we shall have a bloody night of it." It was enough. Alarmed at what he had heard, he immediately went aft and requested a private interview with the captain, to whom he
related the foregoing expression, together with other suspicious circumstances which had lately struck his attention, and which abundantly corroborated the presumption, that some treacherous or bloody purpose was just on the point of being executed. The boatswain was instantly seized, arms were found in his possession and on his person, and many other circumstances corroborated the suspicion of the guilty purpose of his breast. He was put in irons, and in a few days the frigate arrived in the fleet. The whole of the evidence was carefully sifted by the court-martial which was called to sit on the case; his guilt was most satisfactorily proved, and he was sentenced to be hung at the yardarm. On the third day after, which was the time appointed for the execution, a black flag, as is usual, was hoisted at the main-top-gallantmast-head; and a cutter from each ship in the fleet, fully manned, was ordered to be in attendance to witness the execution. A tail-block was affixed to the fore-yard-arm, and the fatal rope rove through it, so as to admit the chief part of the crew taking hold of it, that at the moment of the signal being given they might run the criminal up to the yard-arm. The boatswain's arms having been pinioned, and his irons taken off, he was brought upon deck, and took his stand on the forecastle, on a temporary platform provided for the occasion. He was a tall fine-looking man, and conducted himself with great propriety and firmness, acknowledging the justice of his sentence, and expressing his hope that he might find mercy at the hands of the Judge Eternal, through the merits of his Saviour Jesus Christ.
The sight was deeply interesting and impressive. So large a number of boats filled with men, stationed at a proper distance from the Emerald, to witness the tragical scene, lying upon their oars in gloomy silence; the deck of the frigate crowded with her crew and officers, quiet and motionless, waiting for the awful signal; whilst in the meantime every eye was directed towards the scaffold, and fixed upon the unfortunate culprit, attended by an individual stationed close by him, reading the burial service. A white cap was drawn
over his face-the fatal rope put round his neck-the reader was proceeding with the service-the gun from the port, just under the scaffold, was fired, and in its smoke the unhappy man was run up to the yardarm, where, after the smoke had subsided, he was seen hanging. In about an hour's time he was lowered upon deck, bound up in his bedding and hammock, together with a few large shots, for the purpose of more readily sinking, and then taken in a single boat about eight miles out to sea, so as to be beyond anchorage ground, where he was plunged into his watery grave.
Our intrepid Admiral, subsequent to the unfortunate affair of Santa Cruz, had been sent to England for the purpose of recruiting his strength; which had suffered materially in consequence of the amputation of his arm. Towards the end of the year, [1797,] the surgeon who attended him pronounced that he was again fit for service. It was not, however, till the 1st of April in the following year that he left his native Albion, in the Vanguard of seventy-four guns, to rejoin Earl St Vincent off Cadiz, where he arrived on the twentyninth. At this time the ever-restless ambition of the French Republic was hatching a plot of considerable magnitude and importance. The harbour of Toulon was soon discovered to be the centre of operations. All was stir and bustle in that warlike and celebrated depôt. It was not long ere a large fleet of men-of-war was seen hastily getting in readiness for sea, together with a great many transports. Troops in vast numbers were collecting from all quarters, to be under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte. Although they were nearly ready for embarkation, such was the secrecy of the projected enterprise, that none could ascertain the destination of this formidable armament,
As by an infallible presentiment of the future greatness and glory of Britain's choicest naval hero, St Vincent directed his attention to Nelson, and thought this the most suitable time to draw him forth, as a match in all respects adequate to the wily policy and daring prowess of Napoleon. He was accordingly detached
in the Vanguard, and, taking with him the Orion and Alexander, seventy-four gun ships, the Emerald and Terpsichore frigates, and the Bonne Citoyenne, sloop of war, which he found at Gibraltar, proceeded towards Toulon to watch the movements of the French fleet. On his way thither, he learned that it consisted of fifteen sail of the line, besides frigates, and about two hundred transports for the embarkation of forty thousand troops. On the twenty-first of May, not far from Toulon, a heavy gale of wind from the north-west carried away the main and mizen-topmast, and afterwards the foremast of the Vanguard, which constrained the squadron, taking Nelson's ship in tow, to proceed to the island of Sardinia to refit.
Whilst lying at Sardinia, Nelson heard that, on the very day of his disaster, the French fleet put to sea. Not knowing what course they were steering, as soon as the squadron was equipped, he proceeded to his former station; and on the 5th of June, to the no small joy of the squadron, intelligence was brought by the Mutine brig, that on the 30th she had parted from a detachment of ten sail of the line, and a fifty gun ship, which last was our ship, the Leander, on their way to join him. In two days' time the two squadrons were united, which, according to instructions brought by the Mutine from Earl St Vincent, were immediately to go in quest of Bonaparte and the Toulon fleet. The enthusiasm of the men was unbounded. They had long panted for some service by which they might signalize their valour. Here was an occasion worthy of the genius of Nelson, and the high-spirited officers and men under his command. The eyes of Britain, of Europe, of the world, were watching the issue of the expected conflict between two of the greatest chiefs recorded in history, each on his own peculiar element.
The only clew which seemed likely to conduct us to the enemy, was the direction of the wind when they left Toulon, which being to the northward and westward, led to the presumption, that they had shaped their course up the Mediterranean. Signal was accordingly made to pursue the same track. To exasperate our im
patience, we were for a considerable time becalmed, but at length a breeze springing up, we made sail along the coast of Italy. The first information obtained of the enemy was, I believe, by our ship. By a small vessel whom we hailed, we were informed, that the fleet of which we were in pursuit had been seen off the coast of Sicily. Pursuing our course, on the 16th of June, we came in sight of Mount Vesuvius, and standing into the bay of Naples, sent Captains Trowbridge and Hardy on shore to obtain, if possible, further information. All, however, we could learn from the British ambassador at Naples was, that the French fleet had not put into the bay, but had coasted along the island of Sardinia, standing to the southward. With all possible speed we made for Sicily, where we touched, for the purpose of wooding and watering, and recruiting our provisions. On the 20th of the month we passed the celebrated Straits of Messina. Here a scene as imposing as it was novel presented itself. Already had the progress of the French arms excited the dread and the hatred of the inhabitants, and their attention was eagerly directed towards the only power capable of withstanding French aggression and tyranny. On taking our departure, we were greeted with such a display of devoted affection and respect, as was, perhaps, never surpassed. The sea was covered over with boats filled with persons of the first distinction, chiefly of the ecclesiastical order. It was thought that not less than five hundred priests were present on the occasion. These, adorned with their rich and splendid vestments, and bearing the insignia of their respective orders, elevated their crucifixes, and, with uplifted hands, imploring the blessing of Heaven upon the British arms, in making them instrumental in humbling the haughty and profane enemies of God and men, formed one of the most interesting objects I ever beheld. Nor was our fleet behind in acknowledging with loud and reiterated cheering the sense we had of their good wishes and prayers; the confidence we had in the goodness of our cause, and the assurance we possessed, whenever we should fall in with the stealthy
foe, that British valour would prove an overmatch for French boasting.
Under these favourable auspices, with information obtained that the Toulon fleet had sailed for Malta, had actually taken possession of that important island, and were lying at anchor there, thither we immediately shaped our course with a steady gale from the north-west, confidently hoping that a day or two would lay us alongside of Napoleon and his myrmidons. On the twentysecond, however, the Mutine spoke a Genoese vessel, which informed her that the French fleet took its departure from Malta on the eighteenth, leaving us scarcely any thing else to conjecture, but that as the wind had been steadily blowing from the north-west for several days, Egypt must be its ultimate destination. Thither we instantly directed our way, crowding all the canvass we possibly could, and in six days came in sight of Alexandria; but to our mortification no French fleet was there. We sent a message on shore to the British ambassador; but no information could be obtained. Puzzled to the last degree, we scarcely knew how to proceed. At length it was concluded to retrace our progress, hoping to find the enemy on his way to Egypt. Still, however, we were doomed to disappointment. After having beaten to windward for nearly three weeks, we again made the island of Sicily, where we a second time recruited our provisions; but no additional information could we gain, only that nothing had been heard of the French fleet in those seas, and that it was next to certain it had not returned to Toulon or Gibraltar. Signal was once more made by Admiral Nelson to shape our course for Egypt. When we were not far from the Morea, the Culloden, which generally took the lead, owing to her being a fast-sailing ship, gave chase to a polacre in the French service, which she continued to follow round a headland, till we lost sight of both for a considerable time. At length the Culloden reappeared, with her prize in tow, which, having run into a harbour of shallow water, was pursued by the Culloden's boats, and brought out by them. The instant