The Life of Horatio Lord Nelson HTML version

Chapter 3. 1793 – 1795
The AGAMEMNON sent to the Mediteranean--Commencement of Nelson's Aquaintance
with Sir W. Hamilton--He is sent to Corsica, to co- operate with Paoli--State of Affairs in
that Island--Nelson undertakes the Siege of Bastia, and reduces it--Takes a distinguished
Part in the Siege of Calvi, where he loses an Eye--Admiral Hotham's Action--The
AGAMEMNON ordered to Genoa, to co-operate with the Austrian and Sardinian Forces-
-Gross Misconduct of the Austrian General.
"THERE are three things, young gentleman," said Nelson to one of his midshipmen,
"which you are constantly to bear in mind. First, you must always implicitly obey orders,
without attempting to form any opinion of your own respecting their propriety; secondly,
you must consider every man your enemy who speaks ill of your king; and, thirdly, you
must hate a Frenchman as you do the devil." With these feelings he engaged in the war.
Josiah, his son-in-law, went with him as a midshipman.
The AGAMEMNON was ordered to the Mediterranean under Lord Hood. The fleet
arrived in those seas at a time when the south of France would willingly have formed
itself into a separate republic, under the protection of England. But good principles had
been at that time perilously abused by ignorant and profligate men; and, in its fear and
hatred of democracy, the English Government abhorred whatever was republican. Lord
Hood could not take advantage of the fair occasion which presented itself; and which, if it
had been seized with vigour, might have ended in dividing France:--but he negotiated
with the people of Toulon, to take possession provisionally of their port and city; which,
fatally for themselves, was done. Before the British fleet entered, Nelson was sent with
despatches to Sir William Hamilton, our envoy at the Court of Naples. Sir William, after
his first interview with him, told Lady Hamilton he was about to introduce a little man to
her, who could not boast of being very handsome; but such a man as, he believed, would
one day astonish the world. "I have never before," he continued, "entertained an officer at
my house; but I am determined to bring him here. Let him be put in the room prepared
for Prince Augustus." Thus that acquaintance began which ended in the destruction of
Nelson's domestic happiness. It seemed to threaten no such consequences at its
commencement. He spoke of Lady Hamilton, in a letter to his wife, as a young woman of
amiable manners, who did honour to the station to which she had been raised; and he
remarked, that she had been exceedingly kind to Josiah. The activity with which the
envoy exerted himself in procuring troops from Naples, to assist in garrisoning Toulon,
so delighted him, that he is said to have exclaimed, "Sir William, you are a man after my
own heart!--you do business in my own way:" and then to have added, "I am now only a
captain; but I will, if I live, be at the top of the tree." Here, also, that acquaintance with
the Neapolitan court commenced, which led to the only blot upon Nelson's public
character. The king, who was sincere at that time in his enmity to the French, called the
English the saviours of Italy, and of his dominions in particular. He paid the most
flattering attentions to Nelson, made him dine with him, and seated him at his right hand.