The Life of Nelson, Volume 1 - The Embodiment of the Sea Power of Great Britain
304 Pages
Downloading requires you to have access to the YouScribe library
Learn all about the services we offer

The Life of Nelson, Volume 1 - The Embodiment of the Sea Power of Great Britain


Downloading requires you to have access to the YouScribe library
Learn all about the services we offer
304 Pages


! ! " # $# # # # % # # " % # & % # ' ( ) ' #%# * " & " " % # %%% + & " & , # % # # ! + ! ! " # $# # - # .# + / 0 112 3 4056078 # # + 9 # # " + ,/*::26*0 ;;; , !- / 9 ? - //@ = /, = % 1,! , 0 $, . ! , % 5',! ./ % '. + / 4. )(+ ?. ).,/ % 0 ' ! 0 + , 5 5 1 " 4 . , 5 . , 5 + ! 7 7 # 4 7$ 7 ! 5 ! (5 ! 8 5',! ./ % 5/> . =+ '. 7$=/., %7 5= /=?./ ) =?./ '. . +=/5.1. =+ '. ,? #, = ,5 % /. >/ = . # , 0% /. /.1. > '. => $/.,3 =+ '. +/. 5' /.?= > = % ,!!= .0 = 5=11, 0 '. 7,#,1.1 = %7 8/. +/=1 . # , 0 '. 7,#,1.



Published by
Published 08 December 2010
Reads 27
Language English
Document size 1 MB


The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Life of Nelson, Vol. I (of 2) by A. T. (Alfred Thayer) Mahan
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at
Title: The Life of Nelson, Vol. I (of 2)  The Embodiment of the Sea Power of Great Britain
Author: A. T. (Alfred Thayer) Mahan
Release Date: October 21, 2005 [EBook #16914]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
Produced by Steven Gibbs and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at
The Life of Nelson has been written so often, that an explanation—almost an apology—seems due for any renewal of the attempt; but, not to mention the attractiveness of the theme in itself, it is essential to the completeness and rounding off of the author's discussion of the Influence of Sea Power, that he present a study, from his own point of view, of the one man who in himself summed up and embodied the greatness of the possibilities which Sea Power comprehends,—the man for whom genius and opportunity worked together, to make him the personification of the Navy of Great Britain, the dominant factor in the periods hitherto treated. In the century and a half embraced in those periods, the tide of influence and of power has swelled higher and higher,
floating upward before the eyes of mankind many a distinguished name; but it is not until their close that one arises in whom all the promises of the past find their finished realization, their perfect fulfilment. Thenceforward the name of Nelson is enrolled among those few presented to us by History, the simple mention of which suggests, not merely a personality or a career, but a great force or a great era concrete in a single man, who is its standard-bearer before the nations.
Yet, in this process of exaltation, the man himself, even when so very human and so very near our own time as Nelson is, suffers from an association which merges his individuality in the splendor of his surroundings; and it is perhaps pardonable to hope that the subject is not so far exhausted but that a new worker, gleaning after the reapers, may contribute something further towards disengaging the figure of the hero from the glory that cloaks it. The aim of the present writer, while not neglecting other sources of knowledge, has been to make Nelson describe himself, — tell the story of his own inner life as well as of his external actions. To realize this object, it has not seemed the best way to insert numerous letters, because, in the career of a man of action, each one commonly deals with a variety of subjects, which bear to one another little relation, except that, at the moment of writing, th ey all formed part of the multifold life the writer was then leading. It is true, life in general is passed in that way; but it is not by such distraction of interest among minute details that a particular life is best understood. Few letters, therefore, have been inserted entire; and those which have, have been chosen beca use of their unity of subject, and of their value as characteristic.
The author's method has been to make a careful study of Nelson's voluminous correspondence, analyzing it, in order to detect th e leading features of temperament, traits of thought, and motives of action; and thence to conceive w i th i n himself, by gradual familiarity even more th an by formal effort, the character therein revealed. The impression thus produced he has sought to convey to others, partly in the form of ordinary narrative,—daily living with his hero,—and partly by such grouping of incidents and utterances, not always, nor even nearly, simultaneous, as shall serve by their joint evidence to emphasize particular traits, or particular opinions, more forcibly than when such testimonies are scattered far apart; as they would be, if recounted in a strict order of time.
A like method of treatment has been pursued in regard to that purely external part of Nelson's career in which are embraced his military actions, as well as his public and private life. The same aim is kept in view of showing clearly, not only what he did, but the principles which dominated his military thought, and guided his military actions, throughout his life; or, it may be, such changes as must inevitably occur in the development of a man who truly lives. This cannot be done satisfactorily without concentrating the evidence from time to time; and it is therefore a duty a writer owes to his readers , if they wish such acquaintance with his subject as he thinks he has succeeded in acquiring for himself.
The author has received individual assistance from several persons. To a general expression of thanks he wishes to add his special acknowledgments to the present Earl Nelson, through whose aid he has obtained information of
interest which otherwise probably would have escaped him; and to Lords Radstock and De Saumarez, both of whom have been good enough to place in his hands letters contemporary with Nelson, and touching incidentally matters that throw light on his career. Material of the same kind has also been furnished him by Professor John Knox Laughton, whose knowledge of Nelson and of the Navy of that period is second to none; it is not th e least of the writer's advantages that he has had before him, to check possible errors in either fact or conclusions, the admirable, though brief, Life of N elson published by Mr. Laughton two years since.
Illustrative anecdotes have also been supplied by A dmiral Sir William R. Mends, G.C.B., who has shown his continued interest in the work by the trouble he has taken for it; by Mr. Stuart J. Reid, of Blackwell Cliff, East Grinstead; and by Mr. Edgar Goble, of Fareham, Hants. Mr. B.F. Ste vens, of 4 Trafalgar Square, has also kindly exerted himself on several occasions to obtain needed information. To Mrs. F.H.B. Eccles, of Sherwell Hou se, Plymouth, granddaughter of Josiah Nisbet, Nelson's stepson, the author is indebted for reminiscences of Lady Nelson, and for her portrait here published; and his thanks are also due to Lieutenant-Colonel W. Clement D. Esdaile, of Burley Manor, Ringwood, Hants, through whom he was brought into communication with Mrs. Eccles, and who has in other ways helped him.
Throughout the writing of the book constant assistance has been received from Mr. Robert B. Marston, to whom cordial acknowledgment is made for the untiring pains taken in prosecuting necessary inquiries, which could not have been done without great delay by one not living in England. Suggestions valuable to the completeness of the work have been given also by Mr. Marston.
For the portrait of Mrs. Philip Ward, the "Horatia" whom Nelson called generally his adopted daughter, but at times spoke of as his daughter simply, and whom, on the last morning of his life, he commended to the care of his Country, the author has to thank Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Ward, of 15 Lancaster Road, Belsize Park, London. Mr. Nelson Ward is her son.
To the more usual sources of information already in print, it is not necessary to refer in detail; but it is right to mention especially the collection of Hamilton and Nelson letters, published by Mr. Alfred Morrison, a copy of which by his polite attention was sent the writer, and upon which must necessarily be based such account of Nelson's relations with Lady Hamilton as, unfortunately, cannot be omitted wholly from a life so profoundly affected by them.
MARCH, 1897.
CHAPTER I. THE FIRST TWENTY-FIVE YEARS. Distinction of Nelson's career His extensive and varied correspondence Parentage and birth Delicacy of constitution First entry in the Navy Anecdotes of childhood Cared for by his uncle, Captain Maurice Suckling Serves in a West India merchantman Expedition to the Arctic Sea Cruise to the East Indies Acting lieutenant in the Channel Fleet Promoted lieutenant in the "Lowestoffe" Goes to the West Indies Incidents of service Transferred to the flagship "Bristol" Promoted to Commander and to Post-Captain Personal appearance, 1780 Youth when promoted Scanty opportunities for war service The Nicaragua Expedition Health breaks down Returns to England Appointed to the "Albemarle" Short trip to the Baltic Goes to the North American Station At New York, and transferred to the West Indies Personal appearance, 1782 Sentiments concerning honor and money Returns to England and goes on half-pay Visit to France Unsuccessful courtship CHAPTER II. CRUISE OF THE "BOREAS."—CONTROVERSY OVER THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE NAVIGATION ACT.—RETURN TO
REVOLUTION.—APPOINTED TO COMMAND THE "AGAMEMNON." 1784-1793. Appointed to command the "Boreas" Sails for the Leeward Islands Traits of character and manners Refuses to recognize a commodore's pendant, of a captain "not in commission" Indications of character in this act Controversy over the Navigation Act Refuses obedience to the Admiral's order, as illegal Persists in seizing vessels violating the Act Consequent legal proceedings Conduct approved by the Home Government Results of his action
1 3 4 5 5 7 9 10 12 14 15 16 17 18 20 21 22 23 24 26 30 31 31 33 35 37 39 40 41 42 43
44 45 46
52 54 57 59 60 62 63
Characteristics shown by it Meets his future wife, Mrs. Nisbet Contemporary description of him Progress of courtship Reconciliation with the Admiral Characteristics manifested by Nelson in the controversy Left senior officer on the Station Health and marriage The "Boreas" returns to England Employed on the Impress Service Annoyances and dissatisfaction Prejudices against him The "Boreas" paid off Sensitiveness under censure Flattering reception at Court Efforts to suppress frauds in West Indies Breadth and acuteness of intellect Results of his efforts against frauds Prejudices against him at the Admiralty His partisanship for Prince William Henry Insubordinate conduct of the latter Nelson's difference with Lord Hood Out of favor at Court On half-pay, 1788-1792 Progress of the French Revolution Nelson applies for a ship Appointed to the "Agamemnon," 64 France declares war against Great Britain CHAPTER III. NELSON'S DEPARTURE FROM ENGLAND IN THE "AGAMEMNON."
TOULON BY THE FRENCH.—LORD HOOD IN COMMAND. FEBRUARY-DECEMBER, 1793. Significance of Nelson's career Intimate association of the "Agamemnon" with his name Delay in her equipment Nelson's hatred for the French Sails for Spithead Cruising in the Channel Departure for Mediterranean, and arrival off Toulon Remarks on the Spanish Navy Professional utterances Services off Toulon and at Naples Toulon surrendered to the British and Spaniards Nelson's reconcilement with Hood Hardships of the cruise His intelligence and zeal Rejoins fleet off Toulon Constantly on detached, semi-independent, service Sent to Tunis Action with four French frigates Negotiations at Tunis Nelson's wish to go to the West Indies
64 65 66 68 72 73 74 75 75 77 78 79 80 81 82 82 83 86 86 87 88 89 89 90 92 94 95 95
96 97 99 101 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 112 112 113 113 114 115
Ordered to command a division blockading Corsica The allies are forced to quit Toulon CHAPTER IV. REDUCTION OF CORSICA BY THE BRITISH.—DEPARTURE OF LORD HOOD FOR ENGLAND.—THE "AGAMEMNON" REFITTED AT LEGHORN. JANUARY-DECEMBER, 1794. Importance of Corsica Hood orders Nelson to open communications with Paoli Operations begun at San Fiorenzo Bastia blockaded by Nelson Description of Bastia The army refuses to undertake the siege Destitute condition of the "Agamemnon" Quarrel between Hood and General Dundas Nelson's opinions about besieging Bastia Comments Strength of the place Nelson's military character as shown by his opinion Instances in his correspondence Progress of the siege The place capitulates Nelson's part in the operations Inadequate credit from Hood Nelson's dissatisfaction, but continued zeal Loftiness of his motives Arrival of General Stuart to command army in Corsica Preparations for siege of Calvi News of the sailing of French Toulon fleet Hood sails in pursuit Development of Nelson's military opinions "Agamemnon" sent back to Bastia Proceeds thence to San Fiorenzo Nelson's meeting with General Stuart His opinions on a "fleet in being" Arrival off Calvi Nelson lands with the troops Arrival of Lord Hood Nelson's part in the siege of Calvi Defences of Calvi Nelson loses his right eye Friction between Army and Navy Nelson's tact towards both Feeling between Hood and Moore Progress of the siege Calvi capitulates Sickness among the British Condition of "Agamemnon's" crew Repose given at Leghorn Hood is relieved by Hotham and returns to England Nelson's criticisms on naval actions His distress at prolonged continuance in port Broods over Hood's inadequate mention of him
115 117
118 118 119 120 121 121 122 122 122 123 124 125 126 127 129 130 131 132 133 134 134 134 134 135 136 136 136 136 137 138 138 138 139 140 141 142 143 145 146 147 148 148 149 150 151 151
154 UNDER ADMIRAL HOTHAM.—PARTIAL FLEET ACTIONS OF MARCH 155 158 159 160 160 161 163 165 167 168 169 172 173 174 175 177 177 178 178 179 180 181 182 184 185 189 190 191 192 192 193 194 196 197 199
13 AND 14, AND JULY 13.—NELSON ORDERED TO COMMAND A DETACHED SQUADRON CO-OPERATING WITH THE AUSTRIAN ARMY IN THE RIVIERA OF GENOA. JANUARY-JULY, 1795. General military conditions in Europe and Italy Importance of the British conquest of Corsica General character of Nelson's service He rejoins the fleet His speculations as to the French objects The French put to sea Action between "Agamemnon" and "Ça Ira" Characteristics displayed by Nelson Partial fleet action, March 14 Nelson's urgency with Hotham Discussion of Hotham's action Nelson's share in the general result His affectionate correspondence with his wife Anxiety for Corsica Regret at Hood's detachment from command Receives Honorary Colonelcy of Marines Sent on detached service to the Riviera Encounters French fleet Rejoins Hotham at San Fiorenzo Partial fleet action of July 13 Nelson's dissatisfaction with it Discussion of his criticisms Effects of Hotham's inertness CHAPTER VI. NELSON'S COMMAND OF A DETACHED SQUADRON ON THE RIVIERA OF GENOA, UNTIL THE DEFEAT OF THE AUSTRIANS AT THE BATTLE OF LOANO.—SIR JOHN JERVIS APPOINTED COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF IN THE MEDITERRANEAN. JULY-DECEMBER, 1795. Nelson takes command of a squadron on the Riviera Conditions of belligerents and neutrals on the Riviera Nelson's "political courage" Disregards Hotham's orders Hotham approves his action Effect of his action upon the enemy Evasion of his efforts by the coasters He proposes to the Austrians to occupy San Remo Discussion of this proposal The effect in his mind of a "fleet in being" Inactivity of the Austrians and of the fleet Menacing attitude of the French
Hotham succeeded by Hyde Parker Battle of Loano.—Defeat of the Austrians Nelson's condemnation of the British admirals Increase of his own reputation Forcible letter repudiating an attack on his integrity Generally congenial character of his service on the Riviera Correspondence with home Passing desire to return to England CHAPTER VII.
199 201 202 203 204 206 207 208 NELSON'S SERVICES IN THE MEDITERRANEAN DURING THE YEAR 210 210 212 213 214 215 215 216 217 217 217 218 218 220 220 221 222 223 223 224 225 226 229 230 231 233 234 235 236 237 238 238 241 242 244 245 247 247 251
1796.—BONAPARTE'S ITALIAN CAMPAIGN.—THE BRITISH ABANDON CORSICA, AND THE FLEET LEAVES THE MEDITERRANEAN. JANUARY-DECEMBER, 1796. The "Agamemnon" refits at Leghorn Nelson's sensitiveness to censure His vindication of his recent conduct His erroneous conceptions of French military aims Importance of Vado Bay First meeting between Nelson and Jervis Nelson's anxiety to remain on the station Coincidence of views between Nelson and Jervis Nelson sent again to the Riviera Reconnoitres Toulon Expects a French descent in force near Leghorn Analogy between this and Napoleon's plans in 1805 Nelson urges the Austrians to occupy Vado He hoists his broad pendant as Commodore The Austrian general, Beaulieu, advances Nelson accompanies the movement with his ships Premature attack by Austrians Nelson receives news of their defeat by Bonaparte Austrians retreat behind the Apennines Nelson resumes operations against the coasting-traffic His singleness of purpose and resoluteness His activity, difficulties encountered, and plans Transferred from the "Agamemnon" to the "Captain" Subsequent fortunes of the "Agamemnon" Bonaparte's designs upon Corsica The French seize Leghorn Nelson's inferences from that act Nelson and Bonaparte compared British blockade of Leghorn Occupation of Elba by the British The Austrians under Wurmser attack Bonaparte Nelson plans an assault on Leghorn He learns the Austrian defeat at Castiglione His gradual change of opinion as to leaving the Mediterranean His pride in the British fleet Genoa closes her ports against the British The fleet ordered to quit the Mediterranean Effect on Nelson He superintends the evacuation of Bastia
The fleet withdraws to Gibraltar Growth of Nelson's reputation His susceptibility to flattery His home relations His inadequate appreciation of the character of the war CHAPTER VIII. THE EVACUATION OF ELBA.—NIGHT COMBAT WITH TWO SPANISH FRIGATES.—BATTLE OF CAPE ST. VINCENT.—NELSON PROMOTED TO REAR-ADMIRAL.—SERVICES BEFORE CADIZ. DECEMBER, 1796-JUNE, 1797. Nelson sent to Elba to remove naval material Combat with Spanish frigates Arrival at Elba Hesitations of the General about evacuating Nelson leaves Elba with the naval vessels Deliberate reconnoissance of the enemy's coast Characteristic action of Nelson throughout this expedition Night encounter with the Spanish fleet Rejoins Jervis off Cape St. Vincent Battle of Cape St. Vincent Nelson's exceptional action His merit in taking it Takes possession of two Spanish ships-of-the-line Characteristics here evinced Controversy with Vice-Admiral William Parker Comments upon this Jervis's neglect to mention special services His sense of Nelson's merit Nelson's preferences in the matter of rewards Made a Knight of the Bath Promoted Rear-Admiral Cruises for treasure-ships from Mexico Anxiety about the Elba troops Sent by Jervis to escort them to Gibraltar Safe return to Gibraltar Provides protection for American merchant-ships against French privateers Rejoins Jervis off Cadiz Operations against Cadiz General good health and happiness Pride in his reputation CHAPTER IX. THE UNSUCCESSFUL ATTEMPT AGAINST TENERIFFE.—NELSON LOSES HIS RIGHT ARM.—RETURN TO ENGLAND.—REJOINS ST. VINCENT'S FLEET, AND SENT INTO THE MEDITERRANEAN TO WATCH THE TOULON ARMAMENT. JULY, 1797-MAY, 1798. Origin of the Teneriffe Expedition Conditions conducive to success
254 254 256 257 258
259 259 260 261 262 263 264 267 268 269 271 272 273 276 277 280 281 283 283 284 285 286 287 288 288
289 290 294 295
296 297
Orders to Nelson to undertake it Failure of the first attempt Nelson determines to storm the town The assault and the repulse Nelson loses his right arm Rejoins the Commander-in-Chief off Cadiz Returns to England on sick-leave Painful convalescence Restoration to health His flag hoisted again, on board the "Vanguard" Rejoins St. Vincent off Cadiz Ordered to the Mediterranean to watch the Toulon Armament Close of the first period of his career Contrasts between his career hitherto and subsequently Relations with his wife while in England Quits the fleet to repair off Toulon CHAPTER X. THE CAMPAIGN AND BATTLE OF THE NILE. MAY-SEPTEMBER, 1798. Changed political conditions in Europe, 1798 The British Cabinet decides to take the offensive The quarter in which to strike determined by the Toulon armament Orders issued to St. Vincent Preference for Nelson indicated by Government Nelson's flagship, the "Vanguard," dismasted at sea Indications of character elicited by the accident He is joined by ten ships-of-the-line, raising his squadron to thirteen Pursuit of the expedition under Bonaparte Nelson's fixedness of purpose Attitude of Naples Perplexities of the pursuit The light of the single eye Embarrassment from the want of frigates Squadron reaches Alexandria before the French Renewed perplexity Nelson returns to the westward Anchors at Syracuse Again goes east in search of the French The French fleet discovered at anchor in Aboukir Bay Prompt resolution to attack Disposition of the French fleet for battle Steadiness and caution of Nelson's advance The Battle of the Nile Nelson severely wounded The French flagship blows up Nelson's dissatisfaction with the results His orders after the battle Subsequent measures Effect of the news in Great Britain Nelson's rewards Reception of the news in Europe generally Nelson's concern about Troubridge Immediate effect of the victory upon the French in Egypt
299 300 302 303 305 306 307 308 309 310 310 310 311 311 316 316
317 319 320 321 321 323 324 326 327 327 329 332 335 338 338 339 339 340 342 343 344 345 347 348 351 354 356 358 360 361 361 363 364 365