Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF

messes and proofs were brought against him —what witnesses and evidence were heard in his defence. They only tell us, that a man of a great family—of unspotted character, in his seventieth year, was suddenly taken among foreigners, and within three hours—without trial—without sentence, doomed to die. For it is a mockery and a falsehood to say, that Caracciolo was tried by courtmartial. The warrant of Nelson—who had no power to issue, and probably did not then issue any warrant at all—was for holding a court of inquiry;-—that he issued even such a warrant, is extremely doubtful; only a copy of it is to be found in “the Nelson papers,” but not in the order-book; if the warrant had been actually issued, it was too important not to be entered. The narrative of a trial, by Clarke and M'Arthur, is a poetical invention of those unscrupu.lous historians who, in the face of the warrant which they first printed, had the courage to assert that Nelson had assembled “a court-martial.” Colletta who, though he had had the best sources of information, and had known and conversed on these events with Sir T. Hardy, had never seen the warrant—speaks of a court-martial being assembled, in which the warrant proves him to be mistaken, but relates that,

“having heard the accusation and the defence, the court thought it would be right to see the documents and hear the witnesses for the defence, but Nelson wrote, “there needed not any further delay.' And then that senate of slaves condemned Caracciolo to imprisonment for life; but Nelson having learned the sentence from De Thurn, answered—death—and death was substituted for imprisonment.”—v. 1, 2.

What “this senate of slaves” ought to have done is easily said; but were they free to give safely what opinion they liked, unprotected, on board a foreign man-ofwar, commanded by a foreign admiral, who had broken a capitulation, and turned the ships of his nation into prisons and bureaux of inquisition ? Their commissions, their liberty, their lives, were as much in Nelson's hands as the life of Caracciolo. Our opinion is that the often-mentioned warrant is an after-thought—a document prepared to guard against the consequences of the murder after its perpetration—that such Neapolitan officers as, besides De Thurn, (and he was a German, and not a Genoese, as has been said in this country,) were called on board the Foudroyant to give an

opinion, never passed a sentence, but were overruled by Nelson, if they attempted to save the life of their illustrious country man, by suggesting imprisonment, in the hope of better days. The real judges, accusers, and witnesses, were Lady Hamilton, Lord Nelson and De Thurn, that is, three foreigners, on board a foreign ship; and supported by foreign arms. Immediately after what is called the trial was over, that is at about twelve o'clock, Nelson issued another warrant, which is in the “Order-Book” in the following words:

“To Commodore Count Thurn, Commander of his Sicilian Majesty’s frigate La Minerva.—Whereas a board of Naval Officers of his Sicilian Majesty, has been assembled to try Francisco Caracciolo for rebellion against his lawful sovereign, and for firing at his Sicilian Majesty's frigate La Minerva; and whereas the said board of naval officers have found the charge of rebellion fully proved against him, and have sentenced the said Caracciolo to suffer death, you are hereby required and directed to cause the said sentence of death to be carried into execution upon the said Francisco Caracciolo accordingly, by hanging him at the foreyard-arn) of his Sicilian Majesty's frigate La Minerva, under your command, at five o'clock this evening, and to cause him to hang there till sunset, when you will have his body cut down, and thrown into the sea.”

It is observable how contradictory Nelson would be if the first warrant was authentic. He says, in the second warrant, that a board of officers has been assembled, but he does not say by whom ; then he adds that they were assembled “to try Caracciolo,” and that they “sentenced” him, whilst in the first warrant they are assembled merely to inquire and report. At the same time he avoids stating who these officers were, how many they were, and where they had met. Then they are a “board of naval officers,” not a court-martial, and they find the charge of rebellion proved, but they say nothing of Caracciolo firing at the Minerva. However, Nelson says they sentenced him to death. WHERE is THE senteNCE 2 Has any one ever seen it or heard where it was to be seen 7 Never. If a “board ” or “court” of any sort really agreed to any report or sentence whatever, where is it ! Can it be believed that Nelson, who kept the report of the execution of Caracciolo—which the editor has carefully printed, (iii. 899)—would not have kept either the report which he had directed should be made to himself, or the sentence

which he says was passed, if either had ever existed?

The rest of this authentic second warrant betrays such a disregard of all decency, that it is hardly credible. Why—supposing even the whole procedure legal and fair, and Nelson the proper authority for seeing the judgment executed,—why the unprecedented haste in having Caracciolo put to death, five hours after a trial which lasted two, and for which he had only a few minutes to prepare? Why take from the King of Naples the power of pardoning, by murdering the man at once 1 The King was at Palermo–in twenty-four hours an answer would have reached Nelson—why not wait, and submit to him the sentence if it existed? And why the brutality of ordering a man of Caracciolo's birth and rank to be hanged, and his body denied the melancholy privilege of a Christian burial ** Contrast the noble conduct of the unhappy victim with that of his impatient murderer—

“I am an old man,” said Caracciolo to Lieutenant Parkinson, “I leave no family to lament my death, I therefore cannot be sup#: to be very anxious about prolonging my ife; but the disgrace of being hanged is dreadful to me.”

He asked Parkinson to intercede with Nelson that he might be shot!! and the noble lord refused, because, forsooth, “Caracciolo had been fairly tried by the officers of his own country.”f Can hypocrisy and cruelty go further Alas! Caracciolo was not “tried” by order of his country, nor in his country, any more than by officers of his country. Lady Hamilton, who was on board, and who undoubtedly witnessed the

execution of Caracciolo, could not be found when Parkinson tried to interest her in obtaining this last favor from Nelson. The Admiral and Lady Hamilton had the base satisfaction of seeing the order fully executed.* Persons have been at a loss to account for so much atrocity and hatred. Some have pretended that it was owing to envy and ill-will on Nelson's part towards Caracciolo; the most charitable have attributed it to a kind of spell of Lady Hamilton on Nelson, who was blinded by his passion for her; and this seems the most probable cause of his conduct. As to her it has been supposed that she was moved by her ambition to satisfy the revengeful disposition of her friend the Queen of Naples, added to her detestation of the Neapolitan nobility, who refused to receive her in their houses on account of her profligate life.j But the apologist will not hear of these excuses, and stands boldly forward in defence of all that was done

* This brutality is officially and authentically K. to be Nelson's own. Thurn's report to

elson of Caracciolo's murder is in the following words—“Admiral Nelson is informed that the sentence on Francisco Caracciolo has been carried into execution in the manner which he has directed.”—(iii. 399.) So that the sentence did not prescribe the kind of death ; this at all events is confessedly Nelson's own doing.

f The Editor of the Dispatches says (p. 501) that Caracciolo appealed to Nelson “for pardon;" he ought to have o that there is no authority for this statement. Nor is it true he pleaded “for mercy” to the Duke of Calvirrano. He implored “protection” from the assassins, our allies Of Nelson he asked a second trial, and then the favor of being shot, and not “pardon.” There is not one letter of Nelson, or one authentic word of his granting or imploring pardon for any one—not one word of mercy—not one word of pity for those whom he betrayed, and whom he assisted to murder.

* Some days after Caracciolo's body had been thrown into the sea (July 15th or 16th,) as the Foudroyant, with the King of Naples then on board, stood out at sea, the body of Caracciolo was seen erect, out of the water to the waist, making its way towards the ship. The King, terrified at the horrible and reproaching sight, asked in a hurried manner, “what does he want?” The chaplain answered him as became a minister of religion : “I should say that he comes to implore a Christian burial.” “Let him have it, let him have it,” was the king's answer; and he retired to his room thoughtful and terrified. (Colletta, v. 1.6.)—But the English admiral, the English minister, and the lady, soon made the king forget the mild answer of the poor priest, well calculated to inspire humane sentiments. The body floated in that extraordinary manner, owing to three double-headed shot, weighing 250 lbs., which were tied to its feet when it was thrown into the sea. The wright forced the body into an upright position, though it was not enough to prevent its rising to the surface, as it was intended to do.

t The Editor of the Dispatches, after .."; taken so much trouble in making the apology o his hero, very gallantly enters the lists in defence of the heroines. As to the Queen, it may be worth observing, that on the fatal 29th of June, Nelson sent to Palermo the Portuguese sloo Balloon with dispatches, to be delivered with all expedition “to her Sicilian Majesty in person,” with directions to wait for an answer, and by no means to chase any thing either in going or returning—(iii. 397.) This shows the importance of the dispatches thus sent. And yet, not a trace of them, or of any answer. He will not admit that Nelson's judgment, previous to the arrival of the king, was perverted by Lady Hamilton(iii.498)—and why he should say so, except because Nelson himself declares, that when he disobeyed Lord Keith's orders, after the king was on board, he did so of his own accord—(iii. 409.) no one can tell. He is particularly angry at Capt. Brenton for having stated that he “heard that Lady Hamilton, in her last moments, uttered the most agonizing screams of repentance for this last act of cruelty (murder of Caracciolo) The prince (Caracciolo) was ever before her yes” —(iii. 520)'The editor declares, upon the authority of “a lady” who lived many years with Lady amilton, and who scarcely ever quitted her room during the last few weeks of her life, that Lady Hamilton never screamed or felt remorse. We are sorry for it, and for “a lady” too, who—supposing it was not her duty to attend Lady Hamil on, in which case she is not an impartial witness—gives this evidence. A great admirer and personal friend of Nelson, who was near Lady Hamilton when she died, says that “her last hours were passed in wild ravings, in which the name of Curacciol, was frequently disinguished.”—Life of Nelson, by the Old Sailor, p. 485.

In what capacity Nelson acted “ has not been ascertained,” he says; yet he assumes that he probably acted as Commander-inchief of the Sicilian squadron, as if probabilities—for which there is no ground— were enough to prove that a man had power to order another to be put to death; he sees no objection either to the constitution of the court, or to the trial—if there had been one—taking place on board the Foudroyant, where Caracciolo was conveyed from his own country, and from under the authorities of his Sovereign. He assurnes also that Caracciolo fired upon the Minerva, though the warrant for his execution, the only authentic document in existence signed by Nelson respecting this murder, says expressly that he was accused of it, but does not say that this was proved against him. Sir H. Nicolas is a barrister; will he stake his professional reputation on the legality of such proceedings? But Nelson may have had good intentions. Why, did he not know right from wrong? Had he not the feeling that capitulations were not to be broken any more than men hanged without trial, and without legal authority ? But Nelson had a great horror of republicans and rebels; and so had Robespierre of royalists and aristocrats, and what of that 1 It is not by treachery and assassinations that the cause of the throne and of rational liberty is supported. Englishinen have warmly applauded, and splendidly rewarded the important services of Nelson against the enemies of his country, but the generous love of justice, the fairness, the manliness, for which they are distinguished above all nations, will make them see through the unfair statements and the flimsy arguinents by which it is vainly attempted to defend

the deplorable and infamous conduct of h it admiral; the more they are made acluainted with the circumstances of the case, the more will they feel disgusted with his behaviour, and disavow any attempt to justify or palliate crimes which ought to have been buried in oblivion, out of charity to the memory of the guilty party, who owes it only to the indiscretion of his friends that they cannot now ever be sorgotten or forgiven.

From the Foreign Quarterly Review.

HOMMAl RF’S TRAVELS IN THE STEPPES of THE CASPIAN, &c.

Les Steppes de la Mer Caspienne, Le Caucase, La Crimée, it la Russie Méridionale. Voyage Pittoresqur, Historique, et Scientifique. (Travels in the Steppes of the Caspian Sea, Southern Russia, &c.) By Marier Hommaire de Hell. Paris, 1843–6.

UNTIL very recently, the most erroneous notions generally prevailed in this country on almost every particular concerning the internal condition of the Russian Empire. Its remoteness, its vast territorial extent, the prodigious numerical strength of its armies, and the gorgeous profusion with which its travelled princes and nobles strewed all the roads of Europe with their gold, suggesting fabulous visions of the wealth that fed that astounding prodigality; —all this dazzled the imagination of our countrymen ; and, as they had no very urgent motives for scrutinizing the truth of such appearances, they were content to believe implicitly in their reality If they looked to the political relations of Russia with other continental states, they found in thern apparently all that was wanting to confirm their first impressions. How was it possible to doubt the intrinsic greatness of that power, by which the imperial eagle of France had been struck down when soaring at its pride of place; a power whose haughty leadership was acknowledged, sometimes willingly, sometimes with reluctance, but acknowledged always by Austria and Prussia, and before which the les•er states of Europe cowered like whipped spaniels; a power that had reduced the

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

once terrible Ottoman Porte to virtual vas- the rupture of the Bosphorus. The nature salage, and that aspired to wrest the empire of his task soon obliged him to embrace a of India from the grasp of Great Britain larger field than he had at first contemplaNo; the might of Russia, saving only her ited, and to devote nearly five years to his

maritime deficiencies, was admitted without question; and therein lay for her a source of real power of which she knew

researches in all directions, from the Danube to the Caspian, and as far south as the northern verge of the Caucasus. Twice

how to make the amplest profit. Possunt in the course of his long sojourn, his proquia posse videntur is an adage never better sessional services were employed on impor

understood than by the Russian government; and marvellous, indeed, has been its elaborate and successful cultivation of all the arts of imposture. Nor does the system end with the diplomacy of the empire. Barren of invention, the Muscovites are quick imitators; and the mendacious spirit that characterizes their government, pervades likewise every phase and product of their spurious civilization. To seem the thing it is not, is the grand problem of Russian existence, personal, social, and political. The sorry figure made by the Russian arms in their cumbrous efforts to put down the Polish insurrection of 1832, and their protracted and miserably inglorious contest with the Circassians, were not easily to be reconciled with preconceived opinions.— The credulous belief in the vastness of the tzar's resources was shaken; but it was not until after the publication of the works of De Custine, Lacroix, and the author of the “Revelations of Russia,” that the delusion stood fully exposed. Most of our Trinculos of Western Europe have by this time begun to understand what a very shallow monster it is they took for a demigod ; but if there be any whose easy good nature, or whose antiquated Tory prejudices and sympathy with despotism, still cling to the old notions, let such persons refute if they can the weighty testimony of the volumes before us. Many of the most startling disclosures made by the authors we have named, and by others besides, are here abundantly corroborated by a writer whose talents, industry, candor, good temper, and rare opportunities for acquiring information on the subjects he treats of, entitle him to our highest confidence. M. Hommaire, a French civil engineer, was prompted by his zeal for science to visit Southern Russia in 1838, for the purpose of exploring the geological constitution of the Crimea, and of the vast region of plains adjoining the Black Sea. His ultimate object was to arrive at positive data for the solution of the great question so long debated by physical geographers:—

tant matters by the Russian government, which conferred on him the temporary rank of colonel, rendered him on all occasions very useful aid towards promoting his comfort and facilitating his scientific labors, and finally marked its sense of his merit, by creating him a knight of the imperial order of St. Vladimir. Thus favored by the local authorities, and gifted with the talismanic virtue that encompasses the possessor of tchin (rank), without which a man is less than nobody in Russia, his means of gathering authentic information on the condition of men and things in the tzar's dominions, were such as can have fallen to the lot of few other travellers. He made excellent use of his opportunities;– and in what spirit he has set down the result of his observations may be inferred from the following significant words of his preface :—

“Our work is published under no one's patronage; we have kept ourselves independent of all extraneous influence; and in frankly pointing out what has seemed to us faulty in the social institutions of the Muscovite empire, we think we evince more gratitude for the hospitality afforded us in Russia than some travellers of our times, whose pages are filled only with flatteries as ridiculous as they are exaggerated.”

Madame Hommaire accompanied her husband in most of his expeditions, and as she bravely shared by his side, for five long years, the fatigues and hardships of the Scythian wilds, so she has also taken her part with him in the lighter labors of authorship. To her graceful and lively pen we owe all the narrative part of the work, comprising the greater portion of the first two volumes. Is there not something extremely touching in these simple facts — Your critic, as some suppose, should be a wight of stoic mould, a sort of intellectual abstraction, regarding not the persons of authors, and mindful only of the quality of the work before him. Be this as it may, we will own that in this unobtrusive picture of wedded fellowship, there lies for us a charm apart from, and surpassing, all mere literary or scientific excellence. The devoted wife, the helpmate true and helpfu

[graphic][graphic]

in all things, is a hallowed being in our eyes; and though we had never read a lin

of her inditing, nor knew whether or not she was a proficient in the writer's art, we would not the less boldly aver that the native beauties of her mind would surely breathe their influence into her pages, making them redolent of kindly, pleasant, and graceful thoughts and feelings. And so it is indeed with Madame Hommaire's narrative. It is before all things delightfully feminine; while perusing it, we seem not so much to read, as to listen to the conversation of an amiable and accomplished woman, who fascinates us as much by the manner as by the matter of what she relates. Her work abounds, too, with novel and curious details, which she seizes with instinctive delicacy of perception. She has great skill in communicating her own impressions and emotions to the reader; she tells a story trippingly and well, and her unaffected gaiety never deserts her, even when she speaks of those crosses and vexations incident to all travellers, and on which many of them, in the excess of their self-commiseration, are prone to descant somewhat tediously. We will not delay our readers with further preface, but proceed to justify our encomiums by extracts. Here is an amusing glimpse at the domestic habits of the great in Southern Russia:—

“Two days afterwards we left Kherson, for the country-seat of the marshal of the nobles. where a large party was already assembled. The manner in which hospitality is exercised in Russia is very convenient, and entails no great outlay in the matter of upholstery.— hose who receive visitors give themselves very little concern as to whether their guests are well or ill lodged, provided they can offer them a good table ; it never occurs to them that a good bed and a room provided with some articles of furniture, are to some persons quite as acceptable as a good dinner. Whatever has no reference to the comfort of the stomach, lies beyond the range of Russian politeness, and the stranger must make up his account accordingly. As we were the last comers, we fared very queerly in point of lodging, being thrust four or five of us into one room, with no other surniture than two miserable bedsteads; and there we were left to shift sor ourselves as we could. The house is very handsome in appearance; but for all its portico, its terrace, and its grand halls, it only contains two or three rooms for reception and a few garrets, graced with the name of bedrooms. Ostentation is inherent in the Russian character, but it abounds especially

among the petty nobles, who lavish away their whole income in outward show. They must 'have equipages with four horses, billiardrooms, grand drawing-rooms, pianos, &c. And if they can procure all these superfluities, they are quite content to live on mujik's fare, and to sleep in beds without any thing in the shape of sheets.

“Articles of furniture, the most indispensable, are totally unknown in the dwellings of nost of the second-rate nobles. Notwithstanding the vaunted progress of Russian civilization, it is almost impossible to find a basin and ewer in a bedroom. Bedsteads are almost as great rarities, and almost invariably you have nothing but a divan on which you may pass the night... You may deem yourself singularly fortunate if the mistress of the mansion thinks of sending you a blanket and a pillow; but this is so unusual a piece of good luck that you must never reckon upon it. In their own persons the Russians set an example of truly Spartan habits, as I had many opportunities of perceiving during my stay in the marshal's house. No one, the marshal himself not excepted, had a private chamber; his eldest daughter, though a very elegant and charming young lady, lay on the floor, wrapped up in a cloak like an old veteran. His wife, with three or sour young children, passed the night in a closet that served as boudoir by day, and he himself made his bed on one of the divans of the grand saloon. As for the visitors, some slept on the billiard-table; others, like ourselves, scrambled for a few paltry stump bedsteads; whilst the most philosophical wore away the night in drinking and gambling.

{. Y. nothing as to the manner in which the domestic servants are lodged ; a good guess as to this matter may be easily made from what I have just said of their masters. Besides, it is a settled point in Russia never to take any heed for servants; they eat, drink, and sleep, how and where they can, and their masters never think of asking a word about the matter. The family whose guests we were was very large, and surnished us with themes for many a remark on the national usages, and the notions respecting education that are in vogue in the empire. A Swiss governess is an indispensable piece of furniture in every house in which there are many children. She must teach them to read, write, and speak French, and play a few mazurkas on the piano. No more is required of her; for solid instruction is a thing almost unknown among the petty nobles. A girl of fifteen has completed her education if she can do the honors of a drawing-room, and warble a few French romances. Yet I have met with several exceptions to this rule, foremost among which I must note our host's pretty daughter Loubinka, who, thanks to a sound understanding and a quick apprehension, has acquired such a stock of information as very few Russian ladies possess.

“It is only among those families that constantly reside on their estates that we still find

« VorigeDoorgaan »