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Mr. Parsons says very little about Sir William Hamilton. In one place he mentions that he lived with his lady on board, and that "he was a spare, gentlemanly old man, kind to every person, and much beloved.” But, anent the hero: the capture of the Genereux is thus dramatized in the chapter headed the Chase.
"Deck, there ! the stranger is evidently a man-of-war-she is a line-ofbattle-ship, my lord, and going large on the starboard tack.”
“Ah! an enemy, Mr. Stains. I pray God it may be Le Genereux. The signal for a general chase, Sir Ed'ard, (the Nelsonian pronunciation of Edward,) make the Foudroyant fly!"
Thus spoke the heroic Nelson; and every exertion that emulation could inspire was used to crowd the squadron with canvas, the Northumberland taking the lead, with the flag-ship close on her quarter.
“ This will not do, Sir Ed'ard; it is certainly Le Genereux, and to my flag-ship she can alone surrender. Sir Ed'ard we must and shall beat the Northumberland."
“I will do the utmost, my lord ; get the engine to work on the sails—hang butts of water to the stays-pipe the hammocks down, and each man place shot in them—slack the stays, knock up the wedges, and give the masts play-start off the water, Mr. James, and pump the ship. The Foudroyant is drawing a-head, and at last takes the lead in the chase. The admiral is working his fin (the stump of his right arm,) do not cross his hawse, I advise you.”
The advice was good, for at that moment Nelson opened furiously on the quarter-master at the conn. “I'll knock you
your perch, you rascal, if you are so inattentive.—Sir Ed'ard send your best quarter-master to the weather-wheel.” “A strange sail a-head of the chase!" called the look-out man.
Youngster, to the mast-head. What ! going without your glass, and be dd to you? Let me know what she is immediately.”
“A sloop of war, or frigate, my lord,” shouted the young signal-midshipman.
“Demand her number." “ The Success, my lord.”
Captain Peard ; signal to cut off the flying enemy-great odds, though -thirty-two small guns to eighty large ones.
“The Success has hove to athwart-hawse of the Genereux, and is firing her larboard broadside. The Frenchman has hoisted his tri-colour, with a rear-admiral's flag."
“ Bravo--Success, at her again."
“She has wore round, my lord, and firing her starboard broadside. It has winged her, my lord-her flying kites are flying away altogether. The enemy is close on the Success, who must receive her tremendous broadside.”
The Genereux opens her fire on her little enemy, and every person stands - aghast, afraid of the consequences. “ The smoke clears away, and there is the (Success, crippled, it is true, but bull-dog like, bearing up after the enemy."
“ The signal for the Success to discontinue the action, and come under my
stern,” said Lord Nelson ; "she has done well, for her size. Try a shot from the lower-deck at her, Sir Ed'ard."
" It goes over her.”
“Beat to quarters, and fire coolly and deliberately at her masts and yards."
Le Genereux at this moment fired upon the British; and, as a shot passed through the mizen stay-sail, Lord Nelson, patting one of the youngsters on the head, asked him jocularly how he relished the music; and observing something like alarm depicted on his countenance, consoled him with the information, that Charles XII. ran away from the first shot he heard, though afterwards he was called " The Great,” and deservedly, from his bravery. “I therefore,” said Lord Nelson, “hope much from you in future."
Here the Northumberland opened her fire, and down came the tri-coloured ensign, amidst the thunder of our united cannon.
“ The signal to discontinue the firing." And Sir Edward Ber boarded the prize. Very shortly he returned with Rear-Admiral Pèrés sword, who, he stated, was then dying on his quarter-deck, with the loss of both legs, shot off by the raking broadsides of the little Success. This unfortunate Frenchman was under the imputation of having broken his parole, and was considered lucky in having redeemed his honour by dying in battle.
The landing of the British army in Egypt, in 1801, affords Lieut. Parsons an opportunity of detailing some of his most arresting reminiscences. The mere achievement of debarkation, of getting a footing on the beach, must figure whilst historical records last; old Sir Ralph," the good and the brave"—as the song, "O the broad swords of old Scotland" has it,-coming out in the picture in all hi proper dimensions and attributes. All the boats of the British fleet under the command of Lord Keith are assembled in a triple line "extending about a mile and a half at a league distance from their intended place of deparkation.” The centre line is composed of flats and launches, crowded to excess with the flower of the British army. These are towed by barges and pinnaces, with a line of jolly boats in the rear to assist the disabled. The signal is given to advance leisurely," but to keep strictly in line till under fire, and then use every exertion to land the troops.” But all that military skill could effect had been done to render the place of debarkation invulnerable; the French having for eight days been preparing for the event. The French governor of Alexandria is reported to have said, " that nothing with life could be thrown on his shores but a cat." Immediately in front, too, lies the enemy's army on bills which are strongly fortified, while between these ridges, peep out the flying artillery, the cavalry also showing themselves in numbers between the masses of infantry, sufficient, they look, to devour our small band.
Imagine ten thousand of England's hardy sons, full of life and vigour, rushing into an unequal contest that, in the space of one hour would decimate them. Hark i the first shell from Nelson's island ; the roar, the whistle, and explosion among the boats, answered by the heart-stirring cheers of the British lines. The heavy artillery from the ridge of sand hills in front open their iron throats on the devoted boats. way
fore and aft!" is the respondent cry to the shrieks of the wounded, the heavy groans of the dying, and the gurgling sounds of the drowning. Gaps are seen in our line.
Now their flying artillery, with their long train of horses, gallop to the beach, and open their brazen mouths on our advancing boats. That most venerable and veteran son of war, Sir Ralph Abercrombie, commander-in-chief, in the Kent's barge, moving in the rear,
desired the officer of that boat to pass through the gaps in our line, and place him in front of the fire. “I command you, Sir," said the veteran; “my personal safety is nothing compared with the national disgrace of the boats turning back. Example is needful in this tremendous fire, which exceeds all I ever saw. Oh, God! they waver,--onward, brave Britons, onward !" This apparent wavering was occasioned by a shell sinking the Foudroyant's flat boat with sixty soldiers in her, and by the rush of smaller ones to pick up the sinking soldiery. The lieutenant in command of the barge respectfully said he had the orders of Sir Richard Bickerton, not to expose the general-in-chief unnecessarily to the fire, or land him till the second division were on shore. The British lines, closing, to cover their heavy losses, rapidly approached the landing-place. The French infantry in heavy masses now lined the beach, and the roar of musquetry was incessant and tremendous. Sir Ralph, in great agitation, again ordered the officer to put his boat in front of the triple line, and was met by that officer respectfully declaring that “he would obey the orders of his admiral alone." The old general made an abortive attempt to jump overboard, saying, “Without some striking example, human nature could not face such a fire ;" and indeed the sea was ploughed and strongly agitated by the innumerable balls that splashed among the boats, sometimes hiding them altogether by the spray they created.
This was a most painful scene for a spectátor: our friends mown down like corn before the reaper. But now a change comes over it. A heart-stirring cheer is given on the prows touching the beach ; the soldiers, heartily tired of being shot at like rooks, spring from the boats with great alacrity; that effective instrument, the bayonet, &c., &c.
The death of Abercrombie :
The Hon. Captain Proby, now addressing the commander-in-chief, to whom he was aide-de-camp, reported the enemy to be retreating, covered by their cavalry. “But good God, general, you are seriously wounded, your saddle is saturated with blood. Let me support you to the rear, and for all our sakes let the surgeons examine you."
"Captain Proby, I thank you," said the veteran, with a faint voice ; " but in these stirring times the general should be the last person to think of self. Captain Proby, order a forward movement, and hang fiercely on the retiring foe. Desire Hompesh's dragoons to cut through their rear-guard, and fol
low them closely to the walls of Alexandria." Seeing hesitation and great concern in the ingenuous, youthful countenance of Captain Proby, Sir Ralph added with sternness, "See my orders instantly obeyed, sir.”
And the aide-de-camp, dashing his spurs into the flanks of the swift Arabian, flew along the line, vociferating the orders of “Forward ! forward!” at the same time despatching the first dragoon he met with to Colonel Abercrombie, stating his opinion that his father was bleeding to death on the field with a gunshot wound. Sir Ralph, seeing Sir Sidney Smith's horse shot under him, now desired his orderly to remount him. Sir Sidney, thinking it would inconvenience the general, refused to mount, till a ball from the retreating artillery decided the question by killing the orderly. While Sir Sidney (who was wounded) was thanking the general, Colonel Abercrombie galloped up—“Dear father, has your wound been examined ? "
Sir Ralph, who was sinking fast from loss of blood, now turned affectionately to the manly form of his son, who stood at his side in a visible agony of suspense, muttered the words—"A flesh wound-a mere scratch !" and fell fainting into his arms.
He was quickly borne by orderly sergeants to the rear, where the wound was pronounced of a dangerous nature. Fortunately the Foudroyant's launch had just reached the beach with boats of the feet to convey the wounded off to the shipping; and the hero of sixty-three, in an insensible state, was consigned to the tender care of his son, exposed to the fierce sun, whose rays shot down hot enough to melt bim. Colonel Abercrombie held one of his hands, while tender commiseration clouded his manly brow. I saw this gallant and good old warrior extended on a grating, coming alongside the flag ship, his silvery hair streaming in the breeze that gently rippled the waters—his venerable features convulsed with agony, while the sun darted fiercely on him its intense rays, combining with his wound to occasion the perspiration to pour down his forehead like heavy drops of rain; yet he commanded not only his groans, but even his sighs, lest they should add to the evident anguish depicted in Colonel Abercrombie's countenance, as he wiped the perspiration from his father's face. “We are near the Foudroyant, my dear sir; swallow a little of the contents of my canteen, it will enable you the better to bear the motion of being hoisted in.”
“Send the quarter-master below to sling the general," said Lord Keith, “and select careful hands to the whip,” and his lordship’s countenance expressed the deepest commiseration. “Now, whip handsomely,--bear off the side, gentlemen,-for God's sake do not let the grating come in contact with anything. High enough-lower handsomely-see that the bearers are equally tall. Now rest the grating gently on their shoulders : ” and his lordship gazed on the suffering countenance of the ancient soldier.
“I am putting you to great inconvenience," said Sir Ralph ; and added, in faltering accents, “ I am afraid I shall occasion you much more trouble."
“The greatest trouble, general,” and Lord Keith took hold of one of the wounded man's hands, " is to see you in this pitiable situation."
Lord Keith pressed, relinquished the hand, and burst into tears ; nor was there a dry eye that witnessed the sufferings of this venerated and venerable warrior. He lingered in acute pain three days, and his body was sent down to Malta.
We meet with "the breeze that gently rippled the waters," and similar repetitions of fine writing rather too frequently to accord well with a veteran sailor's phraseology. But, to let that pass, we hasten to glean some notiees and anecdotes of another warrior, whose name will
live long in history, the chivalrous but eccentric Sir Sidney Smith. This knight of the sword, says Lieut. Parsons, “I remember well, and have him in my mind's eye,' as he stepped on the quarter-deck of H. M. frigate 'El Carmen,' lying in Aboukir Bay, Egypt, in the latter part of the year 1801. He was then of middling stature, good looking, with tremendous moustachios, a pair of penetrating black eyes, an intelligent countenance, with a gentlemanly air, expressive of good nature and kindness of heart." Captain Selby of the El Carmen was ordered to England, to announce the British success in Egypt. The frigate however made tardy progress, having, by the advice of Sir Sidney, “ hugged the Barbary coast close,” in hopes of receiving the landwind at night. The leewind, however, “ blew hard upon us and nearly wrecked the old tub off Cape Dern." The hero of Acre was coming home a passenger in the frigate. The extract now to be presented exhibits him characteristically, volunteering to board an American vessel in distress during a gale :
On the following morning, the wind having moderated, we bore up and shook a reef out of the topsails, dropped the foresail, and stood under the stern of a large ship labouring heavily, with top gallant yards across, on a topping sea, and American colours reversed.
“I am in a sinking state,” said brother Jonathan, “and I calculate I shall only be able to keep her up two hours or so : the people are frightened and I am in a bit of a shake, therefore, Britisher, I will take it as a compliment if you will send your boat (mine are washed away) and save us from being drowned like rats in this tarnation leaky hooker."
“I will stay by you,” said Captain Selby," but no boat will live in this sea."
Upon this declaration Jonathan Corncob spat twice as fast as ever, and observed, “ You might oblige us with a boat, Captain.”
His passengers and crew did not take it in the same cool way their master did, but raised a great outery, and threw up their hands to a superior power for aid, while, despairingly, they tried to induce us to send a boat. Sir Sidney's kind heart was touched by the scene.
Captain Selby, if you will risk your lee-quarter cutter I will save, by the help of Heaven, those despairing creatures. Give me choice men,-good boatmen, Mr. Landon, and with your captain's permission, I will take you in the boat."
This speech relieved me from a heavy weight of care, for, as officer of the watch, it was my duty to share the risk with Sir Sidney, but I had no inclination to be drowned even in such good company, and his choice fell on the first lieutenant (there is no accounting for taste). It set both heart and mind at rest, for I fully concurred with my captain in opinion that no boat