Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF

other, so that (if God will bless your efforts and ours), this kingdom being speedily delivered from the scourge it has experienced, it may henceforward be in a condition to perform the engagements contracted, which duty and reason prescribe. I send, therefore, a copy of the instructions I give to the superior Generals, and which I forward to those on the Continent. At the head of these I have placed my son, whom I trust to your friendly assistance, so that his first steps in his present critical career, which he will have to run, may be guided by your wise advice, requesting you not only to o him with your powerful aid, but that you will always” act principally, as your sorces are the true means and support on which I rest my future hopes, as they have hitherto been my safety. . . . The powerful and distinguished fleet with which you will support the expedition, leads me to flatter myself with that happy result which will especially depend upon it. . . . . When therefore . . . you shall judge necessary to employ actual and powerful force,” &c. (iii.492.)

Now, although this letter is written, as the editor says, “shortly before he (Nelson) sailed for Naples,” (p. 491,) it is not fair— and the mistake is highly reprehensible— to connect the letter with the entrance into the Bay of Naples, on the 24th of June. After the Crown-Prince had embarked on the 13th of June, the fleet was obliged to change its destination, and instead of going to Naples it went after the French fleet, so that the Prince was landed in Sicily on the 14th,f and the expedition to Naples was given up. The letter of the king was not an official document—had it been so, it was only saying what was well known, that the king neither had had, nor had, nor could have, any hope but in the English fleet; without it he neither could ferry his troops across from Sicily, nor expect to succeed; but it never can be twisted to mean that the command-in-chief of the expedition was conferred on Nelson by it. Far from it, the king sends him a copy of the instructions given to the superior generals: He does not give any to Nelson; nor does he direct the Neapolitan generals to put themselves under the Admiral's orders. It is absurd to argue such points: but as the editor draws most unwarrantable inferences from utterly groundless assumptions, we beg to notice them. Whatever, moreover, the

[merged small][ocr errors]

powers of Nelson were to be, on that particular emergency, there was an end of them by the expedition being given up, the Prince landing, and the fleet going on another service.

This was in consequence of a letter of the 6th of June, which Nelson received on the 13th of the same month from Lord Keith, informing him that the French fleet (consisting of at least twenty-five sail of the line),” might go towards Nelson with a wind favorable to the enemy, whilst he, Keith, could not follow them. Nelson had no choice but to land the Prince, the troops, the ammunition, &c., and go to meet the French off Marittimo, though with a very inferior force, “not fit to face the enemy,” as he says; and then adds, “although as I am, I cannot think myself justified in exposing the world (1 may almost say) to be plundered by those miscreants.” (iii. 380.) He left, during this absence, Captain Foote of the Sea-horse, to continue at the head of a small squadron of English ships, to assist, together with the Russian and Turkish forces, Cardinal Ruffo to retake from the republicans the castles into which they had withdrawn.f Foote observes :—

“It was my duty to consider that the getting possession of Castel Nuovo, and dell’. Ovo, would very much expedite the reduction of Fort St. Elmo, which commands the town of Naples, and was wholly garrisoned by French troops. Besides, from all the intelligence received, I had much more reason to expect the French than the British fleet in the Bay of Naples. The two great objects were, to restore his Sicilian Majesty to his dominions, and to drive the French out of Italy. . . . . Considering that, in the then situation of af. sairs, it was of great consequence to get possession of the Castles, and still more to prevent the least appearance of disunion [among the allies], I determined not to throw any obstacle in the way of obtaining the two great objects to which l have before alluded.”f

Ruffo was well aware that the appearance of a superior French fleet in the Bay of Naples would have been the destruction of the royalists; and he knew also that the banditti and cut-throats whom he led were more likely to plunder their friends than

* Letter to Lord Keith, of June 27th, 1799. (iii. 391.)

# The command of the ships in the Bay of Naples, had devolved on Foote on the 17th of May. —Vindication, p. 108

# CAPTAIN Footk's Vindication of his Conduct, page 24–26, 2d edit. 1810.

fight their enemies.* Foote, foreseeing what might happen if the “Christian army.” entered Naples, wrote to Nelson on the 5th of June, requesting that some regular troops should be sent,t

“to prevent the anarchy that must take place if the royalists, of themselves, get possession of Naples: an event by no means to be desired, as there is no saying what pillage and disorder would ensue; as few, if any, of these armed people receive any regular pay; and, consequently, are obliged to subsist by rapine and plunder, which, I fear, has given the country people but too much reason to complain of their conduct. With all submission to the better judgment of my superiors, I beg leave to recommend the offering a free pardon, because, when throwing the dice for kingdoms, personal animosities, jealousies, and every trifling object, should be disregarded.”f

These humane and eminently politic sentiments, met with the entire approbation of Lord Nelson, so far as their political part went; for as to the prevention of pillage and plunder, he did not feel much concern. His answer, dated June Sth, is as follows:–

“I agree in all the sentiments you express in your letters relative to the affairs of Naples; a few regular troops would do the business in better order, but not more efficaciously than the royalists.”;

These words imply an approbation of Foote's sentiments as to the free pardon (the italics are Foote's) which he suggests; a circumstance which deserves particular notice. The “efficaciousness” of the royalists in doing the business when they entered Naples, was shown to Nelson's heart's content. What Mr. Fox said in his place in the House of Commons, on the 3d of February, 1800, was true, without the slightest exaggeration :

“Not only the miserable victims of the rage and brutality of the fanatics were savagel murdered, but in many instances their flesh was eaten and devoured by the cannibals who are the advocates and the instruments of the social order.”||

* Nelson knew it as well. See his letter to Troubridge, April 25, 1799.—iii. 333. t This determined the sending of the Prince Royal, who was, however, obliged to put back to Sicily, as we have seen. # Vindication, page 124. § Vindication, page 126. | “Durante l'assedio dei castelli, il popolo Napolitano unito agl’ insorgenti, commise delle barbarie che fan fremere; incrudell fin anco contro le donne; alzö nelle pubbliche piazze dei

This is what Lord Nelson meant when he spoke of the business being done “more efficaciously” by the royalists, though not with “the good order” of regular troops. Encouraged by the approbation of Lord Nelson, Captain Foote, after attacking Castel a Mare, granted a capitulation to the garrison, the substance of which was, that the whole of the garrisons and crews of the flotilla should lay down their arms. The republicans asked, moreover, that it should be left

“to their option to go where they think proper; and, relying on British generosity, they trust you (Captain Foote) will receive such of them on board your ship as think proper to avail themselves of the protection of the British flag.”

These terms were granted by Foote." To the garrison, both of Castel a Mare, and of Ravigliano, he had previously proposed to receive them as prisoners of war, with a promise, on his word of honor, “to intercede with his Sicilian Majesty in their behalf.” These terms were accepted by the garrison of Ravigliano. That of Castel a Mare wanted to leave the fortress with military honors, be released on their word of honor, allowed to go home, “and their safety guaranteed in the name of the Kings of Great Britain and Sicily.”f As Foote gave no answer to that proposal, the other was made, which, we have seen, was eventually consented to. Neither the garrison of Ravigliano, nor that of Castel a Mare, was promised that their members might either be safely sent to France, or be allowed to remain at Naples unmolested, nor were their lives and property guaranteed f They were simply allowed, as far as Foote was concerned, to go where they liked; the utmost he had bound himself to do was “to intercede in their behalf,” which on their part meant, that they threw themselves on the king's mercy, but had no right, in strict justice, to claim exemption from abiding the consequence of whatever criminal prosecution the royal government might institute against them.S

roghi, ove sicuocevano le membra degl' infelici, parte gittati vivi, e parte moribondi."—SAggio Stor. Sulla Rivoluz. di Napoli, 2d edit. Mil, 1810. It is written by Cuoco, an eye-witness. * Vindication, p. 158. f. Vindication p. 155-157. # All this was especially and solemnly granted to the Castel Nuovo, and Castel ..}} Uovo, by Foote, and treacherously refused by Nelson, as we shall see. Here we only wish to point out the difference of the terms. § Foote did intercede for them, and his interFoote had every reason to think that the granting capitulations on humane and generous terms would be approved of by the Neapolitan government. There is a letter of Sir John Acton to Sir William Hamilton, dated the 20th of June, 1799, and published at length in the Nelson Dispatches —(iii., 391,) whilst Foote (p. 139) had published only a portion of it—in which we find that the Republicans were charged with having broken a truce

“granted at their desire for the capitulation of the Castles [dell’] Uovo, Nuovo, and of St. Elmo. These last, however, seem willing to hear of terms, but the Republicans are making continual sorties from the Castles, and S. Martino. The Cardinal seems in a disagreeable position. His Majesty, on this circumstance especially, accepts of the kind offer of Lord Nelson, to present himself before Nales, and procure the intimation for surrendering, to be supported by the English fleet. Its appearance, and the o of the French being distant, would certainly produce the desired effect. I hurry this answer, my dear sir, for the expedition of Lord Nelson. . . . . . I return to you Captain Foote's letter, of which I have taken copy. I do not know whether he has granted the demands of the rebel officers to go free to their families. His intimation was for surrendering prisoners of war. If Captain Foote has kept to his declaration, then these prisoners might come to Sicily, when they shall be ordered to Africa,” till surther orders.”

Sir W. Hamilton, on forwarding this letter to Lord Nelson, wrote to him—

“The offer your Lordship made in your letterf was to take place when you had a certainty of the French fleet being disposed of somehow; and General Acton has had your letter to me, and I have not seen him, so you

cession was successful. His humane and generous efforts are used by the editor of the Dispatches to attack his honesty—“Why did not Captain Foote make a similar exertion in favor of the garrisons of [Castel dell'] Uovo, and Nuovo 3"—(iii. 519.) Why because these had a right to go freely to France, and to be left unmolested, according to the capitulation; whilst the garrisons of Ravigliano and Castel a Mare had no such right, but had only trusted to the intercession of Foote—who had promised it, and kept his word—for mercy How can the editor say that the terms granted to the latter were very similar to those granted to the former ?

* So in the Nelson Dispatches; but in Fonte it is Ustica, a Sicilian sortress, not Africa, that is mentioned.

f This letter has not been found, probably be. cause Acton, to whom it was forwarded, never returned it.

may decide your own way; for we are under no kind of engagement.”

These letters help us to appreciate Nelson's conduct on his arrival in the Bay of Naples. They prove incontrovertibly : 1st, that the Neapolitan government wished the castles to capitulate: 2d, that so far from the King of Naples having invested Lord Nelson with the supreme command, or with extraordinary powers as his representative, he merely accepted the unasked-for assistance offered by the English admiral to support with his fleet the intimation for surrender to be made to the Castles—a support the more welcome, and a capitulation the more desirable, as the Cardinal was in a disagreeable position : 3d, that Lord Nelson was under no kind of engagement, and was at liberty to go to the Bay of Naples to give the proffered assistance or not, as he liked best: 4th, that the Neapolitan Government, when doubting whether Captain Foote had granted to the rebel officers permission to go home, had not expressed the slightest objection to the grant, either on the score of justice and expediency, or on that of want of power in Foote for granting such terms. And, on the nost unfavorable supposition to the patriots, that they had surrendered as prisoners of war, Acton wrote that they would be sent to Ustica “till further orders,” which orders could not be supposed to be to put them to death at leisure, such not being the treatment which is reserved for persons who are received as prisoners of war.

On the 16th of June, 1797, Nelson sailed from Sicily in search of the French fleet." For very good reasons, which we need not repeat, he returned to Palermo, and on the 21st landed there for a couple of hours, saw the King, the Queen, and General Acton, and, having taken on board Sir William and Lady Hamilton, he sailed for the Bay of Naples, where he anchored about nine o'clock on the evening of the 24th. In that bay he wrote what he called, “Opinion delivered before I saw the treaty of armistice, &c., only from reports at sea.”f And

* It was then that he wrote to Lady Hamilton the letter, printed among the Dispatches as if it were written June 16, h, 1800, in which he speaks of being “from her house to a hog-stye of a cabin.” In 1800, on the 16 h ...}...f., Hamilton and the Queen of Napies were with Nelson at Leghorn. See vol. iv. p. 252 and 253.

f These immortant words are added in the copy in the State Paper Office in Nelson's own hand. It is curious that the copyist should have omitted

[blocks in formation]

“Let your Excellency's flags be displayed, and I believe they §. rebels) will yield at the sight of them. Send your orders on shore that hostilities may cease as the treaty commences. The conditions are simple and plain enough. It is granted to the French to be carried back by sea to France, with their effects and property, at his Majesty's expense; and those who are not French are allowed the liberty of following them.”;

There was a good deal of negotiation between the agent of the king of Naples, Micheroux,] and the commander of the

* Vindication, p. 82 . See also p. 83, et seq.

t Vindication, p. 136.

# The real objection was, that they did not think he had the power of restraining his motley followers from breaking any capitulation that he might have granted.

them, if in the original from which he copied, as well as the words at the end, “Read, and explained, and rejected by the Cardinal,” also added in Lord Nelson's hand. One would likewise be glad to see the letter in which the copy of the “Observations” was enclosed when sent to England.

* Vindication, p. 71.

f ClaRK E and M'Arthur, ii. 257, who call this conduct of the Cardinal “highly disgracesul to his sacred character.” No nation or country has produced, within this century, so ignorant or so dishonest historians as these two.

# Probably a fragment of the same letter of which part has been already quoted. Clarke and M'Arthur, p. 263 from whom this fragment is taken, say that Nelson was then (on the 20th of June) on the point of sailing from Palermo! But if we were to point out all the instances of shameful carelessness, and wilful disregard of truth with which their work abounds, we should write a volume.

§ Vindication, p. 178.

| To show Clarke's ignorance, it is only necessary to say, that had it not been for Foote undeceiving him, he was going to attack Micheroux as the republican negotiator.

Russian forces, on the side of the allies, and the officers and agents of the republicans, on the other. Foote grew impatient, and remonstrated against the delay. Lastly, on the 20th, the terms on which the capitulation of the castles Nuovo and dell’Uovo was to be granted were settled and signed by Foote, and early on the 23d of June he put his name to a formally drawn up document, which had been previously signed by Ruffo, as vicar-general of the kingdom, and then by the Russian and Turkish commanders, in which the following articles occurred :

“Art, 4. Persons and property, both movable and immovable, of every individual of the two garrisons, shall be respected and guaranteed. Art. 5. All the said individuals shall have their choice of embarking on board of cartels which shall be surnished them to go to Toulon, or of remaining at Naples, without being molested either in their persons or families. Art. 6. The conditions contained in the present capitulation, are common to every Crson of both sexes now in the forts. Art. . The same conditions shall take place with respect to the prisoners which the troops of his Majesty, the %. of the two Sicilies, and those of his allies, may have made of the republican troops in the different engagements which took place besore the blockade of the forts. Art. 8. Messieurs the Archbishop of Salerno, of Micheroux, of Dillon, and the Bishop of Avellino detained in the forts, shall be É. in the hands of the commandant of the ort St. Elmo, where they shall remain as hostages until the arrival of the individuals sent to Toulon be ascertained. Art. 9. All the other hostages, or state prisoners, confined in the two sorts, shall be set at liberty immediately after the present capitulation is signed.”

The confidence in the honor of England was such, that the republicans expressly stipulated to be escorted to Toulon by a British man-of-war, f to which service the Bull-dog was destined. The cartels were getting ready, the hostages had been sent to St. Elmo, the other state prisoners were set at liberty, the English prisoners of war were given up, a flag of truce was flying, pending the execution of the capitulation, signed thirty-six hours before, which, as far as possible, had been carried into effect,i when Lord Nelson arrived in the

Bay of Naples, and ordered the truce to be put an end to, without any notification whatever to the enemy. Afterwards Foote says, L

“The garrisons of [Castel dell'] Uovo and Nuovo were taken out of those castles under the pretence of putting the capitulation I had signed into execution (which, after having annulled the treaty, must appear truly singular), and some of those unfortunate people were treated with very great severity.”

This horrible fact is again affirmed by the same officer :—

“Although nothing had been done in the execution of the terms agreed upon, it [the capitulation] was equally binding on all the contracting parties; the truth, however, is, that some parts of the agreement had been performed, and actual advantage was afterwards taken of those parts of the capitulation that had been executed, to seize the unhappy men who were thus deceived by the sacred pledge of a capitulation into a surrender of every thing that can affect a human being in the most critical moments of his existence.”f

It is in defence of this act of perfidy, to the atrocious consequences of which we shall presently call the reader's attention, that the editor of Lord Nelson's Dispatches raises his voice He admits the capitulation, but, as we have seen, seems inclined to draw some inference in favor of the man who broke it, from its not having begun to be executed. We have also seen that he is wrong in fact, and that, if even he were right, no consequence could be drawn from it in favor of Nelson's conduct. Nelson himself once said of a capitulation signed, but not yet executed,—“The capitulation once signed, there was no room for dispute.”—(iii. 433.)* No one has ever pub

* From Foote's Pindication, p. 197.

* Vindication, p. 141.

f The editor of the Dispatches repeatedly relies on what he calls “the important fact,” that the capitulation was not even begun to be carried into effect before the arrival of Nelson, (pp. 495 and 511;) but, as Foote asks, “Does the non-execu

tion of a capitulation in any degree justify the least infringement of its most trifling article?”— (Vindication, p. 77.) The editor, however, had himself admitted before, that “the important fact” was no fact at all; for he had said:– “Although the capitulation was signed by Captain Foote, the last of the contracting parties, early in the morning of the 23d, little, if any thing, had been done towards carrying it into execution before Lord Nelson's arrival,” (p. 489.) A little was done, probably How much ought to have been 7 Foote says, it was “a formal capitulation, signed, and in part executed, before Lord Nelson arrived in the Bay of Naples.”— Vindication, p. 86.

* Vindication, p. 39.

f Vindication, p. 48.

# This capitulation had been signed by Girardon, who commanded at Capua, both sor Capua

« VorigeDoorgaan »