The Bombardment Of Copenhagen





BY ROBERT SOUTHEY.





In the year 1801, Nelson, who had been made vice-admiral of the blue,

was sent to the Baltic, as second in command under Sir Hyde Parker, by

Earl St. Vincent, now first lord of the Admiralty. The three northern

courts had formed a confederacy for making England resign her naval

rights. Of these courts Russia was guided by the passions of its

emperor, Paul, a man not without fits of generosity and some natural

goodness, but subject to the wildest humours of caprice and crazed by

the possession of greater power than can ever be safely, or perhaps

innocently, possessed by weak humanity. Denmark was French at heart;

ready to co-operate in all the views of France, to recognise all her

usurpations, and obey all her injunctions. Sweden, under a king whose

principles were right and whose feelings were generous, but who had a

taint of hereditary insanity, acted in acquiescence with the dictates of

two powers whom it feared to offend. The Danish navy, at this time,

consisted of twenty-three ships of the line with about thirty-one

frigates and smaller vessels, exclusive of guardships. The Swedes had

eighteen ships of the line, fourteen frigates and sloops, seventy-four

galleys and smaller vessels, besides gun-boats, and this force was in a

far better state of equipment than the Danish. The Russians had

eighty-two sail of the line and forty frigates. Of these there were

forty-seven sail of the line at Cronstadt, Revel, Petersburg, and

Archangel; but the Russian fleet was ill-manned, ill-officered, and

ill-equipped. Such a combination under the influence of France would

soon have become formidable; and never did the British cabinet display

more decision than in instantly preparing to crush it.



The British fleet sailed on March 12th and Mr. Vansittart sailed in it;

the government still hoping to obtain its ends by negotiation. Mr.

Vansittart left the fleet at the Scaw and preceded it in a frigate with

a flag of truce. Precious time was lost by this delay which was to be

purchased by the dearest blood of Britain and Denmark; according to the

Danes themselves, the intelligence that a British fleet was seen off the

Sound produced a much more general alarm in Copenhagen than its actual

arrival in the roads; for their means of defence were, at that time, in

such a state that they could hardly hope to resist, still less to repel,

an enemy. On the 21st, Nelson had a long conference with Sir Hyde; and

the next day addressed a letter to him worthy of himself and of the

occasion. Mr. Vansittart's report had then been received. It represented

the Danish government as in the highest degree hostile, and their state

of preparation as exceeding what our cabinet had supposed possible; for

Denmark had profited with all activity, by the leisure which had so

impoliticly been given her. "The more I have reflected," said Nelson to

his commander, "the more I am confirmed in opinion that not a moment

should be lost in attacking the enemy. They will every day and every

hour be stronger; we shall never be so good a match for them as we are

at this moment. The only consideration is how to get at them with the

least risk to our ships."



Of the two courses open to them, that of proceeding past Cronenburg, and

taking the deepest and straightest channel along the middle grounds and

attacking the Danish line of floating batteries, or that of attempting

the passage of the Belt, Sir Hyde Parker preferred the latter, Nelson

and Captain Domett the former, though as Nelson put it, "Let it be by

the Sound, by the Belt, or anyhow, only lose not an hour!" when it was

finally decided to take the passage of the Sound.



The next day was wasted in despatching a flag of truce to the Governor

of Cronenburg Castle, to ask whether he had received orders to fire at

the British fleet, as the admiral must consider the first gun to be a

declaration of war on the part of Denmark. A soldier-like and becoming

answer was returned to this formality. The governor said that the

British minister had not been sent away from Copenhagen but had obtained

a passport at his own demand. He himself, as a soldier, could not meddle

with politics: but he was not at liberty to suffer a fleet--of which the

intention was not yet known--to approach the guns of the castle which he

had the honour to command, and he requested, if the British admiral

should think proper to make any proposals to the King of Denmark, that

he might be apprised of it before the fleet approached nearer. During

this intercourse a Dane, who came on board the commander's ship, having

occasion to express his business in writing found the pen blunt, and,

holding it up, sarcastically said, "If your guns are not better pointed

than your pens you will make little impression on Copenhagen!"



Nelson, who was now appointed to lead the van, shifted his flag to the

Elephant, Captain Foley--a lighter ship than the St. George, and,

therefore, fitter for the expected operations. The two following days

were calm. Orders had been given to pass the Sound as soon as the wind

would permit; and on the afternoon of the 29th the ships were cleared

for action with an alacrity characteristic of British seamen. At

daybreak on the 30th it blew a top-sail breeze from north-west. The

signal was made and the fleet moved on in order of battle; Nelson's

division in the van, Sir Hyde's in the centre, and Admiral Graves' in

the rear.



The whole force consisted of fifty-one sail of various descriptions, of

which sixteen were of the line. The greater part of the bomb and gun

vessels took their stations off Cronenburg Castle, to cover the fleet;

while others on the larboard were ready to engage the Swedish shore. The

Danes, having improved every moment which ill-timed negotiation and

baffling weather gave them, had lined their shore with batteries; and as

soon as the Monarch, which was the leading ship, came abreast of them

a fire was opened from about a hundred pieces of cannon and mortars. Our

light vessels immediately in return opened their fire upon the castle.

The enemy's shot fell near enough to splash the water on board our

ships; not relying upon any forbearance of the Swedes they meant to have

kept the mid channel, but when they perceived that not a shot was fired

from Helsinburg and that no batteries were to be seen on the Swedish

shore, they inclined to that side, so as completely to get out of reach

of the Danish guns. The uninterrupted blaze which was kept up from them

till the fleet had passed served only to exhilarate our sailors and

afford them matter for jest, as the shot fell in showers a full cable's

length short of its destined aim.



About mid-day the whole fleet anchored between the island of Huen and

Copenhagen. Sir Hyde, with Nelson, Admiral Graves, some of the senior

captains, and the commanding officers of the artillery and the troops,

then proceeded in a lugger to reconnoitre the enemy's means of defence;

a formidable line of ships, radeaux, pontoons, galleys, fire-ships, and

gun-boats, flanked and supported by extensive batteries, and occupying,

from one extreme point to the other, an extent of nearly four miles.



A council of war was held in the afternoon. Nelson offered his services

for the attack, requiring ten sail of the line and the whole of the

smaller craft. Sir Hyde gave him two more line-of-battle ships than he

asked for and left everything to his judgment.



The enemy's force was not the only, nor the greatest, obstacle with

which the British fleet had to contend: there was another to be overcome

before they could come in contact with it. The channel was little known

and extremely intricate; all the buoys had been removed; and the Danes

considered this difficulty as almost insuperable, thinking the channel

impracticable for so large a fleet. Nelson himself saw the soundings

made and the buoys laid down, boating it upon this exhausting service,

day and night, till it was effected. When this was done, he thanked God

for having enabled him to get through this difficult part of his duty.

"It had worn him down," he said, "and was infinitely more grievous to

him than any resistance which he could experience from the enemy."



On the morning of April 1st the whole fleet removed to an anchorage

within two leagues of the town and off the north-west end of the Middle

Ground: a shoal lying exactly before the town, at about three-quarters

of a mile distance, and extending along its whole sea front. The King's

Channel, where there is deep water, is between this shoal and the town;

and here the Danes had arranged their line of defence, as near the shore

as possible: nineteen ships and floating batteries, flanked, at the end

nearest the town, by the Crown Batteries, which were two artificial

islands at the mouth of the harbour--most formidable works; the larger

one having, by the Danish account, sixty-six guns; but, as Nelson

believed, eighty-eight. The fleet having anchored, Nelson, with Riou in

the Amazon, made his last examination of the ground; and about one

o'clock, returning to his own ship, threw out the signal to weigh. It

was received with a shout throughout the whole division; they weighed

with a light and favourable wind. The narrow channel between the island

of Saltholm and the Middle Ground had been accurately buoyed; the small

craft pointed out the course distinctly; Riou led the way: the whole

division coasted along the outer edge of the shoal, doubled its further

extremity, and anchored there off Draco Point, just as the darkness

closed--the headmost of the enemy's line not being more than two miles

distant. The signal to prepare for action had been made early in the

evening; and, as his own anchor dropped, Nelson called out, "I will

fight them the moment I have a fair wind." It had been agreed that Sir

Hyde, with the remaining ships, should weigh on the following morning,

at the same time as Nelson, to menace the Crown Batteries on his side

and the four ships of the line which lay at the entrance of the arsenal,

and to cover our own disabled ships as they came out of action.



The Danes, meantime, had not been idle: no sooner did the guns of

Cronenburg make it known to the whole city that all negotiation was at

an end, that the British fleet was passing the Sound, and that the

dispute between the two crowns must now be decided by arms, than a

spirit displayed itself most honourable to the Danish character. All

ranks offered themselves to the service of their country; the university

furnished a corps of twelve hundred youths, the flower of Denmark. It

was one of those emergencies in which little drilling or discipline is

necessary to render courage available: they had nothing to learn but how

to manage the guns, and were employed day and night in practising them.

When the movements of Nelson's squadron were perceived, it was known

when and where the attack was to be expected, and the line of defence

was manned indiscriminately by soldiers, sailors, and citizens.



This was an awful night for Copenhagen--far more so than for the British

fleet, where the men were accustomed to battle and victory, and had none

of those objects before their eyes which render death terrible. Nelson

sat down to table with a large party of his officers; he was, as he was

ever wont to be when on the eve of action, in high spirits, and drank to

a leading wind and to the success of the morrow. After supper they

returned to their respective ships, except Riou, who remained to arrange

the order of battle with Nelson and Foley, and to draw up instructions:

Hardy, meantime, went in a small boat to examine the channel between

them and the enemy, approaching so near, that he sounded round their

leading ship with a pole, lest the noise of throwing the lead should

discover him. The incessant fatigue of body as well as mind which Nelson

had undergone during the last three days had so exhausted him that he

was earnestly urged to go to his cot; and his old servant, Allen, using

that kind of authority which long and affectionate services entitled and

enabled him to assume on such occasions, insisted upon his complying.

The cot was placed on the floor and he continued to dictate from it.

About eleven Hardy returned and reported the practicability of the

channel and the depth of water up to the enemy's line. About one the

orders were completed; and half a dozen clerks in the foremost cabin

proceeded to transcribe them, Nelson frequently calling out to them from

his cot to hasten their work, for the wind was becoming fair. Instead of

attempting to get a few hours of sleep he was constantly receiving

reports on this important point. At daybreak it was announced as

becoming perfectly fair. The clerks finished their work about six.

Nelson, who was already up, breakfasted, and made signal for all

captains.



Between eight and nine the pilots and masters were ordered on board the

admiral's ship. The pilots were mostly men who had been mates in Baltic

traders, and their hesitation about the bearing of the east end of the

shoal and the exact line of deep water gave ominous warning of how

little their knowledge was to be trusted. The signal for action had been

made, the wind was fair--not a moment to be lost. Nelson urged them to

be steady, to be resolute, and to decide; but they wanted the only

ground for steadiness and decision in such cases, and Nelson had reason

for regret that he had not trusted to Hardy's single report.



Captain Murray, in the Edgar, led the way; the Agamemnon was next in

order; but, on the first attempt to leave her anchorage she could not

weather the edge of the shoal, and Nelson had the grief to see his old

ship, in which he had performed so many years' gallant services,

immovably aground at a moment when her help was so greatly required.

Signal was then made for the Polyphemus; and this change in the order

of sailing was executed with the utmost promptitude; yet so much delay

had thus been unavoidably occasioned, that the Edgar was for some time

unsupported, and the Polyphemus, whose place should have been at the

end of the enemy's line where their strength was the greatest, could get

no further than the beginning, owing to the difficulty of the channel;

there she occupied indeed an efficient station, but one where her

presence was less required. The Isis followed, with better fortune,

and took her own berth. The Bellona, Sir T. Thompson, kept too close

on the starboard shoal, and grounded abreast of the outer ship of the

enemy; this was the more vexatious, inasmuch as the wind was fair, the

room ample, and three ships had led the way. The Russell, following

the Bellona, grounded in like manner; both were within reach of shot,

but their absence from their intended stations was severely felt. Each

ship had been ordered to pass her leader on the starboard side, because

the water was supposed to shoal on the larboard shore. Nelson, who came

next after these two ships, thought they had kept too far on the

starboard direction, and made signal for them to close with the enemy,

not knowing that they were aground; but when he perceived that they did

not obey the signal, he ordered the Elephant's helm to starboard, and

went within these ships, thus quitting the appointed order of sailing

and guiding those which were to follow. The greater part of the fleet

were probably, by this act of promptitude on his part, saved from going

on shore. Each ship, as she arrived nearly opposite to her appointed

station, let her anchor go by the stern and presented her broadside to

the Danes. The distance between each was about half a cable. The action

was fought at the distance of nearly a cable's length from the enemy.



At five minutes after ten the action began. The first half of our fleet

was engaged in about half an hour; and by half-past eleven the battle

became general. The plan of the attack had been complete, but seldom has

any plan been more disconcerted by untoward accidents. Of twelve ships

of the line, one was entirely useless, and two others in a situation

where they could not render half the service which was required of them.

Of the squadron of gun-brigs only one could get into action: the rest

were prevented, by baffling currents, from weathering the eastern end of

the shoal, and only two of the bomb-vessels could reach their station on

the Middle Ground, and open their mortars on the arsenal, firing over

both fleets.



Nelson's agitation had been extreme when he saw himself, before the

action began, deprived of a fourth part of his ships of the line; but

no sooner was he in battle, where his squadron was received with the

fire of more than a thousand guns, than, as if that artillery, like

music, had driven away all care and painful thoughts, his countenance

brightened; and, as a bystander describes him, his conversation became

joyous, animated, elevated, and delightful. The commander-in-chief,

meantime, near enough to the scene of action to know the unfavourable

accidents which had so materially weakened Nelson, and yet too distant

to know the real state of the contending parties, suffered the most

dreadful anxiety. To get to his assistance was impossible; both wind and

current were against him. Fear for the event, in such circumstances,

would naturally preponderate in the bravest mind; and at one o'clock,

perceiving that after three hours' endurance the enemy's fire was

unslackened, he began to despair of success. "I will make the signal of

recall," said he to his captain, "for Nelson's sake. If he is in a

condition to continue the action successfully he will disregard it; if

he is not, it will be an excuse for his retreat, and no blame can be

imputed to him." Under a mistaken judgment, therefore, but with this

disinterested and generous feeling he made the signal for retreat.



Nelson was at this time, in all the excitement of action, pacing the

quarter-deck. A shot through the main mast knocked the splinters about;

and he observed to one of his officers with a smile, "It is warm work,

and this day may be the last to any of us at a moment;" and then

stopping short at the gangway, added with emotion--"But mark you! I

would not be elsewhere for thousands." About this time the signal

lieutenant called out, that No. 39 (the signal for discontinuing the

action) was thrown out by the commander-in-chief. He continued to walk

the deck and appeared to take no notice of it. The signal officer met

him at the next turn, and asked him if he should repeat it, "No," he

replied, "acknowledge it." Presently he called after him to know if the

signal for close action was still hoisted; and being answered in the

affirmative, said, "Mind you keep it so." He now paced the deck, moving

the stump of his lost arm in a manner which always indicated great

emotion. "Do you know," said he to Mr. Ferguson, "what is shown on board

the commander-in-chief? No. 39!" Mr. Ferguson asked what that

meant,--"Why, to leave off action!" Then, shrugging up his shoulders, he

repeated the words--"Leave off action? Now, hang me if I do! You know,

Foley," turning to the captain, "I have only one eye--I have a right to

be blind sometimes;" and then, putting the glass to his blind eye, in

that mood of mind which sports with bitterness, he exclaimed, "I really

do not see the signal! Keep mine for closer battle flying! That's the

way I answer such signals! Nail mine to the mast!" Admiral Graves, who

was so situated that he could not discern what was done on board the

Elephant, disobeyed Sir Hyde's signal in like manner: whether by

fortunate mistake, or by a like brave intention, has not been made

known. The other ships of the line, looking only to Nelson, continued

the action. The signal, however, saved Riou's little squadron but did

not save its heroic leader. This squadron, which was nearest the

commander-in-chief, obeyed, and hauled off. "What will Nelson think of

us!" was Riou's mournful exclamation when he unwillingly drew off. He

had been wounded in the head by a splinter, and was sitting on a gun

encouraging his men, when, just as the Amazon showed her stern to the

Trekroner battery, his clerk was killed by his side, and another shot

swept away several marines who were hauling in the main-brace. "Come,

then, my boys!" cried Riou, "let us die all together!" The words had

scarcely been uttered before a raking shot cut him in two. Except it had

been Nelson himself, the British navy could not have suffered a severer

loss.



The action continued along the line with unabated vigour on our side and

with the most determined resolution on the part of the Danes. They

fought to great advantage because most of the vessels in their line of

defence were without masts: the few which had any standing had their

top-masts struck, and the hulls could only be seen at intervals.



The Bellona lost seventy-five men; the Iris, one hundred and ten;

the Monarch, two hundred and ten. She was, more than any other

line-of-battle ship, exposed to the great battery, and supporting, at

the same time, the united fire of the Holstein and the Zealand, her

loss this day exceeded that of any single ship during the whole war.

Amid the tremendous carnage in this vessel some of the men displayed a

singular instance of coolness: the pork and peas happened to be in the

kettle; a shot knocked its contents about; they picked up the pieces,

and ate and fought at the same time.



The prince-royal had taken his station upon one of the batteries, from

whence he beheld the action and issued his orders. Denmark had never

been engaged in so arduous a contest, and never did the Danes more nobly

display their national courage. A youth of seventeen, by name Villemoes,

particularly distinguished himself on this memorable day. He had

volunteered to take the command of a floating battery, which was a raft

consisting merely of a number of beams nailed together, with a flooring

to support the guns: it was square, with a breastwork full of

port-holes, and without masts--carrying twenty-four guns and one hundred

and twenty men. With this he got under the stern of the Elephant,

below the reach of the stern-chasers; and, under a heavy fire of small

arms from the marines, fought his raft till the truce was announced,

with such skill, as well as courage, as to excite Nelson's warmest

admiration.



Between one and two the fire of the Danes slackened; about two it ceased

from the greater part of their line, and some of their lighter ships

were adrift. It was, however, difficult to take possession of those

which struck, because the batteries on Amak Island protected them, and

because an irregular fire was kept up from the ships themselves as the

boats approached. This arose from the nature of the action; the crew

were continually reinforced from the shore, and fresh men coming on

board, did not inquire whether the flag had been struck, or, perhaps,

did not heed it; many, or most of them, never having been engaged in war

before.



By half-past two the action had ceased along that part of the line

which was astern of the Elephant, but not with the ships ahead and the

Crown Batteries. Nelson, seeing the manner in which his boats were fired

upon when they went to take possession of the prizes, became angry, and

said he must either send on shore to have this irregular proceeding

stopped, or send a fire-ship and burn them. Half the shot from the

Trekroner and from the batteries at Amak at this time struck the

surrendered ships, four of which had got close together; and the fire of

the English in return was equally, or even more, destructive to these

poor devoted Danes. Nelson, who was as humane as he was brave, was

shocked at this massacre--for such he called it--and, with a presence of

mind peculiar to himself, and never more signally displayed than now, he

retired into the stern galley, and wrote thus to the crown-prince:

"Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson has been commanded to spare Denmark when she

no longer resists. The line of defence which covered her shores has

struck to the British flag; but if the firing is continued on the part

of Denmark he must set on fire all the prizes that he has taken, without

having the power of saving the men who have so nobly defended them. The

brave Danes are the brothers, and should never be the enemies, of the

English." A wafer was given him, but he ordered a candle to be brought

from the cockpit and sealed the letter with wax, affixing a larger seal

than he ordinarily used. "This," said he, "is no time to appear hurried

and informal." Captain Sir Frederick Thesiger, who acted as his

aide-de-camp, carried this letter with a flag of truce. Meantime the

fire of the ships ahead and the approach of the Ramilies and Defence

from Sir Hyde's division, which had now worked near enough to alarm the

enemy, though not to injure them, silenced the remainder of the Danish

line to the eastward of the Trekroner. That battery, however,

continued its fire.



During Thesiger's absence, Nelson sent for Freemantle, from the

Ganges, and consulted with him and Foley whether it was advisable to

advance with those ships which had sustained least damage, against the

yet uninjured part of the Danish line. They were decidedly of opinion

that the best thing which could be done was, while the wind continued

fair to remove the fleet out of the intricate channel, from which it had

to retreat. In somewhat more than half an hour after Thesiger had been

despatched, the Danish adjutant-general, Lindholm, came bearing a flag

of truce; upon which the Trekroner ceased to fire and the action

closed after four hours' continuance. He brought an inquiry from the

prince, What was the object of Nelson's note? The British admiral wrote

in reply: "Lord Nelson's object in sending the flag of truce was

humanity; he therefore consents that hostilities shall cease and that

the wounded Danes may be taken on shore. And Lord Nelson will take his

prisoners out of the vessels, and burn or carry off his prizes as he

shall think fit. Lord Nelson, with humble duty to his royal highness the

prince, will consider this the greatest victory he has ever gained if it

may be the cause of a happy reconciliation and union between his own

most gracious sovereign and His Majesty the King of Denmark."--Sir

Frederick Thesiger was despatched a second time with the reply; and the

Danish adjutant-general was referred to the commander-in-chief for a

conference upon this overture. Lindholm, assenting to this, proceeded to

the London, which was riding at anchor full four miles off; and

Nelson, losing not one of the critical moments which he had thus gained,

made signal for his leading ships to weigh in succession; they had the

shoal to clear, they were much crippled, and their course was

immediately under the guns of the Trekroner.



The Monarch led the way. This ship had received six-and-twenty shot

between wind and water. She had not a shroud standing; there was a

double-headed shot in the heart of her fore mast and the slightest wind

would have sent every mast over her side. The imminent danger from which

Nelson had extricated himself soon became apparent; the Monarch

touched immediately upon a shoal, over which she was pushed by the

Ganges taking her amid-ships; the Glatton went clear; but the other

two, the Defiance and the Elephant, grounded about a mile from the

Trekroner, and there remained fixed for many hours in spite of all the

exertions of their wearied crews. The Desiree frigate also, at the

other end of the line, having gone toward the close of the action to

assist the Bellona, became fast on the same shoal. Nelson left the

Elephant soon after she took the ground to follow Lindholm. The heat

of action was over; and that kind of feeling, which the surrounding

scene of havoc was so well fitted to produce, pressed heavily upon his

exhausted spirits. The sky had suddenly become overcast; white flags

were waving from the mast-heads of so many shattered ships; the

slaughter had ceased, but the grief was to come; for the account of the

dead was not yet made up, and no man could tell for what friends he

would have to mourn. There was another reflection also, which mingled

with these melancholy thoughts and predisposed him to receive them. He

was not here master of his own movements as at Egypt; he had won the day

by disobeying his orders; and in so far as he had been successful, had

convicted the commander-in-chief of an error in judgment. "Well," said

he, as he left the Elephant, "I have fought contrary to orders and I

shall perhaps be hanged! Never mind, let them!"



This was the language of a man, who, while he is giving utterance to an

uneasy thought, clothes it half in jest because he half repents that it

has been disclosed. His services had been too eminent on that day, his

judgment too conspicuous, his success too signal, for any commander,

however jealous of his own authority or envious of another's merits, to

express anything but satisfaction and gratitude, which Sir Hyde heartily

felt and sincerely expressed. It was speedily agreed that there should

be a suspension of hostilities for four-and-twenty hours; that all the

prizes should be surrendered and the wounded Danes carried on shore.

Seventeen sail of the Danes were taken, burnt, or sunk in this battle.



The boats of Sir Hyde's division were actively employed all night in

bringing out the prizes and in getting afloat the ships which were on

shore. At daybreak, Nelson, who had slept in his own ship, the St.

George, rowed to the Elephant, and his delight at finding her afloat

seemed to give him new life. There he took a hasty breakfast, praising

the men for their exertions, and then pushed off to the prizes which had

not yet been removed. The English spent the day in refitting their own

ships, securing the prizes, and distributing the prisoners; the Danes,

in carrying on shore and disposing of the wounded and the dead. It had

been a murderous action. Our loss, in killed and wounded, was nine

hundred and fifty-three. The loss of the Danes, including prisoners,

amounted to about six thousand. The negotiations, meantime, went on; and

it was agreed that Nelson should have an interview with the prince the

following day. The preliminaries of the negotiation were adjusted at

this interview. During the repast which followed, Nelson, with all the

sincerity of his character, bore willing testimony to the valour of his

foes. He told the prince that he had been in a hundred and five

engagements but that this was the most tremendous of all. "The French,"

he said, "fought bravely, but they could not have stood for one hour the

fight which the Danes had supported for four." He requested that

Villemoes might be introduced to him; and, shaking hands with the youth,

told the prince that he ought to be made an admiral. The prince replied:

"If, my lord, I am to make all my brave officers admirals, I should have

no captains or lieutenants in my service."



For the battle of Copenhagen, fought on April 2nd, 1801, Nelson was

raised to the rank of viscount; an inadequate mark of reward for

services so splendid and of such paramount importance to the dearest

interests of England. There was, however, some prudence in dealing out

honours to him step by step; had he lived long enough he would have

fought his way up to a dukedom.



He had not been many weeks on shore before he was called upon to

undertake a service for which no Nelson was required. Bonaparte, who was

now first consul and in reality sole ruler of France, was making

preparations upon a great scale for invading England; but his schemes

in the Baltic had been baffled; fleets could not be created as they were

wanted; and his armies, therefore, were to come over in gun-boats and

such small craft as could be rapidly built or collected for the

occasion. From the former governments of France such threats have only

been matter of insult or policy: in Bonaparte they were sincere; for

this adventurer, intoxicated with success, already began to imagine that

all things were to be submitted to his fortune. We had not at that time

proved the superiority of our soldiers over the French, and the

unreflecting multitude were not to be persuaded that an invasion could

only be effected by numerous and powerful fleets. A general alarm was

excited, and, in condescension to this unworthy feeling, Nelson was

appointed to a command extending from Orfordness to Beachy Head, on both

shores--a sort of service, he said, for which he felt no other ability

than what might be found in his zeal. This zeal he continued to display

without abatement until the Peace of Amiens gave him leisure to return

home again.





The Battle Of Camperdown The Destruction Of The Algerine Navy facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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