The Life of Horatio Lord Nelson HTML version

Chapter 2. 1784 - 1793
Nelson goes to France-- Reappointed to the BOREAS at the Leeward Islands in the
BOREAS--His firm conduct concerning the American Interlopers and the Contractors--
Marries and returns to England--Is on the point of quitting the Service in Disgust--
Manner of Life while unemployed-- Appointed to the AGAMEMNON on the breaking
out of the War of the French Revolution.
"I HAVE closed the war," said Nelson in one of his letters, "without a fortune; but there
is not a speck in my character. True honour, I hope, predominates in my mind far above
riches." He did not apply for a ship, because he was not wealthy enough to live on board
in the manner which was then become customary. Finding it, therefore, prudent to
economise on his half-pay during the peace, he went to France, in company with Captain
Macnamara of the navy, and took lodgings at St. Omer's. The death of his favourite sister,
Anne, who died in consequence of going out of the ball-room at Bath when heated with
dancing, affected his father so much that it had nearly occasioned him to return in a few
weeks. Time, however, and reason and religion, overcame this grief in the old man; and
Nelson continued at St. Omer's long enough to fall in love with the daughter of an Eng-
lish clergyman. This second attachment appears to have been less ardent than the first, for
upon weighing the evils of a straitened income to a married man, he thought it better to
leave France, assigning to his friends something in his accounts as the cause. This
prevented him from accepting an invitation from the Count of Deux-Ponts to visit him at
Paris, couched in the handsomest terms of acknowledgment for the treatment which he
had received on board the ALBEMARLE.
The self-constraint which Nelson exerted in subduing this attachment made him naturally
desire to be at sea; and when, upon visiting Lord Howe at the Admiralty, he was asked if
he wished to be employed, he made answer that he did. Accordingly in March, he was
appointed to the BOREAS, twenty-eight guns, going to the Leeward Islands as a cruiser
on the peace establishment. Lady Hughes and her family went out with him to Admiral
Sir Richard Hughes, who commanded on that station. His ship was full of young
midshipmen, of whom there were not less than thirty on board; and happy were they
whose lot it was to be placed with such a captain. If he perceived that a boy was afraid at
first going aloft, he would say to him in a friendly manner, "Well, sir, I am going a race
to the mast-head, and beg that I may meet you there." The poor little fellow instantly
began to climb, and got up how he could,--Nelson never noticed in what manner, but
when they met in the top, spoke cheerfully to him, and would say how much any person
was to be pitied who fancied that getting up was either dangerous or difficult. Every day
he went into the school-room to see that they were pursuing their nautical studies; and at
noon he was always the first on deck with his quadrant. Whenever he paid a visit of
ceremony, some of these youths accompanied him; and when he went to dine with the
governor at Barbadoes, he took one of them in his hand, and presented him, saying,
"Your Excellency must excuse me for bringing one of my midshipmen. I make it a rule to