The Life of Horatio Lord Nelson HTML version

Chapter 4. 1796 – 1797
Sir J. Jervis takes the Command--Genoa joins the French--Bounaparte begins his Career--
Evacuation of Corsica--Nelson hoists his broad Pennant in the MINERVE--Action with
the SABINA--Battle off Cape St. Vincent--Nelson commands the inner Squadron at the
Blockade of Cadiz Boat Action in the Bay of Cadiz--Expedition against Teneriffe--
Nelson loses an Arm--His Sufferings in England, and Recovery.
SIR JOHN JERVIS had now arrived to take the command of the Mediterranean fleet. The
AGAMEMNON having, as her captain said, been made as fit for sea as a rotten ship
could be, Nelson sailed from Leghorn, and joined the admiral in Fiorenzo Bay. "I found
him," said he, "anxious to know many things which I was a good deal surprised to find
had not been communicated to him by others in the fleet; and it would appear that he was
so well satisfied with my opinion of what is likely to happen, and the means of
prevention to be taken, that he had no reserve with me respecting his information and
ideas of what is likely to be done." The manner in which Nelson was received is said to
have excited some envy. One captain observed to him: "You did just as you pleased in
Lord Hood's time, the same in Admiral Hotham's, and now again with Sir John Jervis: it
makes no difference to you who is commander-in-chief." A higher compliment could not
have been paid to any commander-in-chief than to say of him that he understood the
merits of Nelson, and left him, as far as possible, to act upon his own judgment.
Sir John Jervis offered him the ST.GEORGE, ninety, or the ZEALOUS, seventy-four,
and asked if he should have any objection to serve under him with his flag. He replied,
that if the AGAMEMNON were ordered home, and his flag were not arrived, he should,
on many accounts, wish to return to England; still, if the war continued, he should be
very proud of hoisting his flag under Sir John's command, "We cannot spare you," said
Sir John, "either as captain or admiral." Accordingly, he resumed his station in the Gulf
of Genoa. The French had not followed up their successes in that quarter with their usual
celerity. Scherer, who commanded there, owed his advancement to any other cause than
his merit: he was a favourite of the directory; but for the present, through the influence of
Barras, he was removed from a command for which his incapacity was afterwards clearly
proved, and Buonaparte was appointed to succeed him. Buonaparte had given indications
of his military talents at Toulon, and of his remorseless nature at Paris; but the extent
either of his ability or his wickedness was at this time known to none, and perhaps not
even suspected by himself.
Nelson supposed, from the information which he had obtained, that one column of the
French army would take possession of Port Especia; either penetrating through the
Genoese territory, or proceeding coast-ways in light vessels; our ships of war not being
able to approach the coast, because of the shallowness of the water. To prevent this, he
said; two things were necessary: the possession of Vado Bay, and the taking of Port
Especia; if either of these points were secured, Italy would be safe from any attack of the