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DISPATCHES AND LETTERS
LORD VISCOUNT NELSON
WITH NOTES BY
SIR NICHOLAS HARRIS NICOLAS, G.C.M.G.
“ The Nation expected, and was entitled to expect, that while Cities vied with each other
THE SIXTH VOLUME.
MAY 1804, TO JULY 1805.
GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET.
( 226, 0.163.
A PERIOD of fifteen months of the life of NELSON is illustrated by his Correspondence in this Volume; and as his career approached its close, his Letters increased in interest and importance.
These Letters extend from May 1804 to July 1805, during the whole of which time he was commanderin-Chief in the Mediterranean, watching the French Squadron in Toulon, until it sailed, in April 1805, to the West Indies, whither it was pursued by LORD NELSON with a very inferior force.
Besides showing Nelson's unabated energy, his unwearied attention to the minutest details of his Command, his constant regard for the comfort of the Crews of his Ships, as to their provisions and clothing; his con. tinual efforts to prevent any waste of stores, and the Government from being imposed upon by Contractors, the most remarkable parts of his Letters in 1804 are, perhaps, those relating to Vice-Admiral La Touche Tréville, the Commander-in-Chief of the French Squadron
in Toulon, whose premature death, according to Monsieur Thiers, was the principal cause of England's not having been invaded !—to the refusal of Artillery Officers embarked on board of Bombs to submit to Naval discipline, which led to the formation of the Corps of Royal Marine Artillery—those to the Lord Mayor, on receiving the thanks of the Corporation of London for “ blockading Toulon,” when he assured the Lord Mayor, that instead of having “ blockaded” that Port, he had, on the contrary, afforded the French Fleet every opportunity of putting to sea, and expressed his determination not to be separated in Thanks from the two Admirals under his orders, whom he considered to have been unjustly neglected by the Corporation-and the Letters in which he denounced the Gibraltar Privateers as a “horde of sanctioned robbers," whose piratical proceedings were “ disgraceful to the character of the British Nation.”
His Letters respecting Vice-Admiral La Touche Tréville, are, however, so characteristic, as to justify particular attention being drawn to them. On the 1st of June 1804, LORD NELSON said he had sent Rear-Admiral Sir Richard Bickerton to another station; and that he was himself close off Toulon with five Sail of the Line, “in hopes to tempt Mr. La Touche out of Port.” On the 7th, he said, “ Do not think I am tired of watching Mr. La Tonche Tréville. I have now taken up a method of making him angry. I have left Sir Richard Bickerton, with part of the Fleet, twenty leagues from hence, and, with five of the Line, am preventing his cutting capers, which he had done for some time past, off Cape Sicie. Mr. La Touche has several times hoisted his topsail yards up; and on the 4th of June, we having hoisted the Standard and saluted, he sent outside Sepet, about one mile, five Sail of the Line and two Frigates, and kept three Sail and three Frigates with their yards aloft, himself one of them, and the Rear-Admiral another, therefore I did not believe him in earnest; however, we run as near as was proper, and brought to. They formed a pretty line at sunset, and then stood into the Harbour. A Ship of the Line and Frigate every morning weigh, and stand between Sepet and La Malgue. Some happy day I expect to see his eight Sail, which are in the Outer Road, come out; and if he will get abreast of Porquerolle, I will try what stuff he is made of.”
In the afternoon of the 14th of June, eight Ships of the Line of the Enemy came out of Toulon, and LORD NELSON, with only five Sail of the Line, formed in Order of Battle to receive them; but they returned into Port. He attached no importance to this proceeding; and writing, on the 18th of June, merely said, “ We are as usual. The French Fleet safe in Toulon; but upon the 14th, Monsieur La Touche came out with eight Sail of the Line and six Frigates, cut a caper off Sepet, and went in again. I was off, with five Sail of the Line, and brought to for his attack, although I did not believe that anything was meant serious, but merely a gasconade.”
It is not difficult, from Nelson's chivalric sense of