Profitez de millions de livres numériques, de livres audio, de magazines et plus encore avec un essai gratuit

Seulement $11.99/mois après l'essai. Annulez à tout moment.

The Life of Nelson (Barnes & Noble Digital Library)
The Life of Nelson (Barnes & Noble Digital Library)
The Life of Nelson (Barnes & Noble Digital Library)
Livre électronique387 pages6 heures

The Life of Nelson (Barnes & Noble Digital Library)

Évaluation : 3 sur 5 étoiles



Lire l'aperçu

À propos de ce livre électronique

Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson (1758-1805) is one of the most popular figures in English history. This biography, by a major English poet, has rarely been out of print since its 1813 debut. It made it onto the British screen as the feature film Nelson, in 1926. This biography is also well-known for influencing such authors as Cooper, Melville, and Mahan.

Date de sortie25 oct. 2011
The Life of Nelson (Barnes & Noble Digital Library)
Lire l'aperçu

Robert Southey

Robert Southey (1774 –1843) was an English Romantic poet, and Poet Laureate for 30 years. He was a prolific letter writer, literary scholar, historian and biographer. Perhaps his most enduring contribution to literary history is The Story of the Three Bears, the original Goldilocks story, first published in Southey's prose collection The Doctor. His biographies include the life and works of John Bunyan, John Wesley, William Cowper, Oliver Cromwell and Horatio Nelson.

En savoir plus sur Robert Southey

Lié à The Life of Nelson (Barnes & Noble Digital Library)

Catégories liées

Avis sur The Life of Nelson (Barnes & Noble Digital Library)

Évaluation : 3 sur 5 étoiles

20 notations1 avis

Qu'avez-vous pensé ?

Appuyer pour évaluer

L'avis doit comporter au moins 10 mots

  • Évaluation : 3 sur 5 étoiles
    Southey is perhaps best known as the friend of Wordsworth and Coleridge in their early "Lake Poet" days who wrote some often denigrated but in my experience readable verse fantasies (the Curse of Kehama etc.) and a vast amount of semi-scholarly prose. The Life of Nelson is part of this output, perhaps the first serious professional attempt at a biography of the recently dead hero of Trafalgar. It is frankly partial to its subject (since Southey had renounced his early radical idealism by this time)but is still read as a useful expression of how Nelson's contemporaries saw him.This edition includes a brief anonymous introduction on Southey's life and works.

Aperçu du livre

The Life of Nelson (Barnes & Noble Digital Library) - Robert Southey



This 2011 edition published by Barnes & Noble, Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher.

Barnes & Noble, Inc.

122 Fifth Avenue

New York, NY 10011

ISBN: 978-1-4114-5846-8


ROBERT SOUTHEY, the author of this Life of Nelson, was born August 12, 1774. His father was a linen draper of Bristol. Of his mother Southey says in his Recollections: Never was any human being blessed with a sweeter temper or a happier disposition. She had an excellent understanding, and a readiness of apprehension which I have rarely known surpassed. In quickness of capacity, in the kindness of her nature, and in that kind of moral magnetism which wins the affections of all within its sphere, I never knew her equal.

His earliest years were spent with his aunt, Miss Tyler, who had a house in Bath, and a walled garden wherein grew fragrant herbs and fine fruit trees and lilies of the valley, and also Robert Southey's love for the beauty of nature. Miss Tyler, he says, "was considered as an amateur and patroness of the stage. . . . She was thrown also into the company of dramatic writers at Mr. Palmer's, who resided then about a mile from Bath, on the upper Bristol road, at a house called West Hall. Here she became acquainted with Coleman and Sheridan and Cumberland and Holcroft. . . . Sophia Lee was Mrs. Palmer's most intimate friend. She was then in high reputation for the first volume of 'The Recess,' and for the 'Chapter of Accidents.' You will not wonder that, hearing, as I continually did, of living authors, and seeing in what estimation they were held, I formed a great notion of the dignity attached to their profession. Perhaps in no other circle could this effect so surely have been produced as in a dramatic one, where ephemeral productions excite an intense interest while they last. Superior as I thought actors to all other men, it was not long before I perceived that authors were still a higher class.

"Though I have not become a dramatist, my earliest dreams of authorship were, as might be anticipated from such circumstances, of a dramatic form; and the notion which I had formed of dramatic composition was not inaccurate. 'It is the easiest thing in the world to write a play!' said I to Miss Palmer, as we were in a carriage on Redcliffe Hill one day, returning from Bristol to Bedminster. 'Is it, my dear?' was her reply. 'Yes,' I continued, 'for, you know, you have only to think what you would say if you were in the place of the characters, and to make them say it.'

My grandmother died in 1782; and, either in the latter end of that year or the ensuing January, I was placed at poor old Williams's, whom, as that expression indicates, I remember with feelings of good will. I had commenced poetry before this,—at how early an age I cannot call to mind. . . . The discovery that I could write rhymes gave me great pleasure, which was in no slight degree heightened when I perceived that my mother was not only pleased with what I produced, but proud of it. . . . Nothing could be more propitious for me, considering my aptitudes and tendency of mind, than Miss Tyler's predilection—I might almost call it passion—for the theater. Owing to this, Shakespeare was in my hands as soon as I could read; and it was long before I had any other knowledge of the history of England than what I gathered from his plays.

After a boy's experience at two or three schools, he was sent in 1788 to Westminster. He remained there four years. It would have been longer had he not undertaken, in a schoolboys' paper called The Flagellant, to prove from the church fathers and the ancients that flogging was an invention of the devil. He was privately expelled.

An uncle befriended him now, and Southey entered Balliol College. His father had died a little before. I left Westminster in a perilous state, he wrote years afterwards,—a heart full of feeling and poetry, a head full of Rousseau and Werther, and my religious principles shaken by Gibbon. Many circumstances tended to give me a wrong bias, none to lead me right, except adversity, the wholesomest of all discipline. . . . A severe system of stoical morality came to its aid. I made Epictetus, for many months, literally my manual. The French Revolution was then in its full career. I went to Oxford in January 1793, a stoic and republican. . . . Here I became intimate with Edmund Seward, whose death was the first of those privations which have, in great measure, weaned my heart from the world. He confirmed in me all that was good. Time and reflection, the blessings and the sorrows of life, and, I hope I may add with unfeigned humility, the grace of God, have done the rest.

At Oxford he met Coleridge. Both were poets, young, ambitious, sympathetic; and both had formed schemes. In March, Southey wrote his brother in 1794, we [about sixteen enthusiasts] depart for America. . . . My aunt knows nothing as yet of my intended plan; it will surprise her, but not very agreeably. . . . Coleridge was with us nearly five weeks, and made good use of his time. We preached pantisocracy and aspheterism everywhere. These, Tom, are two new words, the first signifying the equal government of all, and the other the generalization of individual property,—words well understood in the city of Bristol.

The scheme failed, and Southey earned his living for a time by lecturing on history. He had already written his poem Joan of Arc. Not long after this he married Edith Fricker, and spent six months with his uncle in Portugal. Returning, he took up the study of law. I love study—devotedly I love it, he wrote an old friend in 1799; but in legal studies it is only the subtlety of the mind that is exercised. I am not indolent—I loathe indolence; but, indeed, reading law is laborious indolence; it is thrashing straw. I have read and read and read; but the devil a bit can I remember. I have given all possible attention, and attempted to command volition. No! the eyes read, the lips pronounced, I understood and reread it; it was very clear; I remembered the page, the sentence,—but close the book and all was gone!

He became private secretary; and finally in 1803, after much tossing hither and thither, he settled at Greta Hall, Keswick, and entered upon his life of literary labor. Here Coleridge, his wife's brother-in-law, was his neighbor; and not far away lived Wordsworth, by whose writings that entire region, familiarly known as the Lake Country, has ever since been colored with the ineffable light of poetry.

Southey was one of the most industrious of men. Three pages of history after breakfast, he wrote, (equivalent to five in small quarto printing); these to transcribe and copy for the press, or to make my selections and biographies [for 'Specimens of the English Poets'], or what else suits my humor, till dinner time; from dinner till tea I read, write letters, see the newspaper, and very often indulge in a siesta. . . . After tea I go to poetry [perhaps 'The Curse of Kehama,' on which he was at this time engaged], and correct and rewrite and copy till I am tired, and then turn to anything else till supper. And this is my life. And at another time: I am a quiet, patient, easygoing hack of the mule breed, regular as clockwork in my pace, sure-footed, bearing the burden which is laid upon me, and only obstinate in choosing my path. If Gifford could see me by this fireside, where, like Nicodemus, one candle suffices me in a large room, he would see a man in a coat still more threadbare than his own, . . . working hard and getting little—a bare maintenance, and hardly that; writing poems and history for posterity with his whole heart and soul; and daily progressing in learning,—not so learned as he is poor, not so poor as proud, not so proud as happy.

His industry produced more than a hundred volumes. He was pensioned for his literary labor, and afterwards made poet laureate. He refused an offer of a position as editorial writer for the Times, and also a baronetcy which the government tendered him towards the end of his useful life.

At Keswick his children were born, and there his first wife died. His marriage to his old friend and correspondent, the poetess Caroline Bowles, was in 1839. But his work was done. Prolonged weakness, or paresis, came upon him, and he died in 1843.

Southey, wrote Ticknor, the distinguished American scholar, when he visited him at Keswick in 1819—Southey is certainly an extraordinary man; one of those whose character I find it difficult to comprehend, because I hardly know how such elements can be brought together,—such rapidity of mind with such patient labor and wearisome exactness; so mild a disposition with so much nervous excitability; and a poetical talent so elevated with such an immense mass of minute, dull learning.

What makes the life of Southey eminent and singular, writes Professor Dowden, is its unity of purpose, its persistent devotion to a chosen object, its simplicity, purity, loyalty, fortitude, kindliness, truth. His niece, Sara Coleridge, who lived much in his house, said that he was the best man she had ever known.

In his time Nelson was the hero of the English people. He was idolized in life, and after he died his apotheosis was almost complete. His courage and fidelity, his devotion to the furtherance of British empire by sea, his simplicity, his directness, his outspoken and unaffected piety, made entire appeal to their nature. In the battle of the Nile, his signal victory over an enemy who had until then never been vanquished, first brought him to their knowledge; his achievements in the battle of Copenhagen against the activity of the same power set him strong in their affections; and finally, when, after five weeks of battling with wind and sea, his body was brought home from Trafalgar, he was held as the martyred hero by whose death the power of the enemy had been broken and the sea glory of England raised to its greatest height. Popular grief was intense. Nothing served to express the fervor but a public funeral, the ceremonial of which, men of his time say, was one of the most impressive and magnificent ever witnessed in Europe.

This was in 1806. Nelson's work had been too great and too lasting for the interest of the people speedily to die out. They asked more facts about their hero than the chapbooks hawked about the streets for a penny could tell. Many lives of Nelson have been written, said Southey, in his first preface. One is yet wanting, clear and concise enough to become a manual for the young sailor, which he may carry about with him till he has treasured up the example in his memory and in his heart. In attempting such a work I shall write the eulogy of our great naval hero; for the best eulogy of Nelson is the faithful history of his actions, the best history that which shall relate them most perspicuously.

With this idea Southey began the work. Today, he wrote on the 11th of October 1811, to his brother, Captain Southey, I resume the long-suspended 'Life of Nelson,' which I shall bring on, that Murray may not lose the spring sale. On the 30th of December 1812, he wrote again: I am such a lubber that I feel half ashamed of myself for being persuaded ever even to review the 'Life of Nelson,' much more to write one. Had I not been a thorough lubber I should have remembered half a hundred things worthy of remembrance, which have all been lost, because, though I do know the binnacle from the mainmast, I know little more; 'tackle' and 'sheet' and 'tally' and 'belay' are alike to me; and if you ask me about the lee-clue garnet, I can only tell they are not the same kind of garnets that are worn in necklaces and bracelets.

The value, then, of this Life is not that Southey, the writer, was versed in seamen's vernacular. It is primarily that it is Nelson's life, and secondarily that it is written in the easy, flexible, harmonious style which Southey used in biographical writing. It is the pedestrian style which rises to heights with its subject. I do not think uniformity of style desirable, he wrote; it should rise and fall with its subject. He is clear and unaffected in what he says, and moves from action to action of his hero with open eyes and swinging gait, and, we should add, with loving and approving heart. Whatever excesses he shows are due to the prejudices of a contemporary who hated Napoleon's French, and feared them as the triumphant military power of the time, and whose nature had reacted to the strong conservatism which characterized the second half of Southey's life.

He knew the art of good writing. There may be secrets in painting, he wrote, but there are none in style. When I have been asked the foolish question what a young man should do who wishes to acquire a good style, my answer is that he should never think about it, but say what he has to say as perspicuously as he can and as briefly as he can, and then the style will take care of itself. People talk of my style! I have only endeavored to write plain English, and to put my thoughts into language which every one can understand.

In reading the life of Nelson the student should follow on maps the movements of the hero and the men he led.














Nelson's birth and boyhood.—He is entered on board the Raisonnable.—Goes to the West Indies in a merchant ship; then serves in the Triumph.—He sails in Captain Phipps's voyage of discovery.—Goes to the East Indies in the Seahorse, and returns in ill health.—Serves as acting lieutenant in the Worcester, and is made lieutenant into the Lowestoffe, commander into the Badger brig, and post into the Hinchinbrook.—Expedition against the Spanish Main.—Sent to the North Seas in the Albemarle.—Services during the American war.

HORATIO, son of Edmund and Catherine Nelson, was born September 29, 1758, in the parsonage house of Burnham Thorpe, a village in the county of Norfolk, of which his father was rector. The maiden name of his mother was Suckling; her grandmother was an elder sister of Sir Robert Walpole,¹ and this child was named after his godfather, the first Lord Walpole. Mrs. Nelson died in 1767, leaving eight out of eleven children. Her brother, Captain Maurice Suckling, of the navy, visited the widower upon this event, and promised to take care of one of the boys. Three years afterwards, when Horatio was only twelve years of age, being at home during the Christmas holidays, he read in the county newspaper that his uncle was appointed to the Raisonnable,² of 64 guns. Do, William, said he to a brother who was a year and a half older than himself, write to my father, and tell him that I should like to go to sea with Uncle Maurice. Mr. Nelson was then at Bath, whither he had gone for the recovery of his health; his circumstances were straitened, and he had no prospect of ever seeing them bettered; he knew that it was the wish of providing for himself by which Horatio was chiefly actuated, and did not oppose his resolution; he understood, also, the boy's character, and had always said that in whatever station he might be placed he would climb, if possible, to the very top of the tree. Accordingly Captain Suckling was written to. What, said he in his answer, has poor Horatio done, who is so weak, that he, above all the rest, should be sent to rough it out at sea? But let him come; and the first time we go into action a cannon ball may knock off his head, and provide for him at once.

It is manifest from these words that Horatio was not the boy whom his uncle would have chosen to bring up in his own profession. He was never of a strong body; and the ague, which at that time³ was one of the most common diseases in England, had greatly reduced his strength; yet he had already given proofs of that resolute heart and nobleness of mind which, during his whole career of labor and of glory, so eminently distinguished him. When a mere child, he strayed bird's-nesting from his grandmother's house in company with a cowboy.⁴ The dinner hour elapsed; he was absent, and could not be found; and the alarm of the family became very great, for they apprehended that he might have been carried off by the gypsies. At length, after search had been made for him in various directions, he was discovered alone, sitting composedly by the side of a brook, which he could not get over. I wonder, child, said the old lady, when she saw him, that hunger and fear did not drive you home. Fear, grandmamma? replied the future hero; I never saw fear; what is it? Once, after the winter holidays, when he and his brother William had set off on horseback to return to school, they came back, because there had been a fall of snow; and William, who did not much like the journey, said it was too deep for them to venture on. If that be the case, said the father, you certainly shall not go; but make another attempt, and I will leave it to your honor. If the road is dangerous, you may return; but remember, boys, I leave it to your honor. The snow was deep enough to have afforded them a reasonable excuse; but Horatio was not to be prevailed upon to turn back. We must go on, said he; remember, brother, it was left to our honor! There were some fine pears growing in the schoolmaster's garden, which the boys regarded as lawful booty, and in the highest degree tempting; but the boldest among them were afraid to venture for the prize. Horatio volunteered upon this service; he was lowered down at night from the bedroom window by some sheets, plundered the tree, was drawn up with the pears, and then distributed them among his schoolfellows, without reserving any for himself. He only took them, he said, because every other boy was afraid.

Early on a cold and dark spring morning Mr. Nelson's servant arrived at this school at North Walsham with the expected summons for Horatio to join his ship. The parting from his brother William, who had been for so many years his playmate and bedfellow, was a painful effort, and was the beginning of those privations which are the sailor's lot through life. He accompanied his father to London. The Raisonnable was lying in the Medway.⁵ He was put into the Chatham stage,⁶ and on its arrival was set down with the rest of the passengers and left to find his way on board as he could. While he was wandering about in the cold, without being able to reach the ship, an officer observed the forlorn appearance of the boy, questioned him, and happening to be acquainted with his uncle, took him home and gave him some refreshments. When he got on board, Captain Suckling was not in the ship, nor had any person been apprised of the boy's coming. He paced the deck the whole remainder of the day, without being noticed by any one; and it was not till the second day that somebody, as he expressed it, took compassion on him. The pain which is felt when we are first transplanted from our native soil—when the living branch is cut from the parent tree—is one of the most poignant which we have to endure through life. There are after griefs which wound more deeply, which leave behind them scars never to be effaced, which bruise the spirit and sometimes break the heart; but never, never do we feel so keenly the want of love, the necessity of being loved, and the sense of utter desertion, as when we first leave the haven of home, and are, as it were, pushed off upon the stream of life. Added to these feelings the sea boy has to endure physical hardships, and the privation of every comfort, even of sleep. Nelson had a feeble body and an affectionate heart, and he remembered through life his first days of wretchedness in the service.

The Raisonnable, having been commissioned⁷ on account of the dispute respecting the Falkland Islands,⁸ was paid off as soon as the difference with the court of Spain was accommodated, and Captain Suckling was removed to the Triumph, 74,⁹ then stationed as a guard ship in the Thames. This was considered as too inactive a life for a boy, and Nelson was therefore sent a voyage to the West Indies in a merchant ship commanded by Mr. John Rathbone, an excellent seaman, who had served as master's mate¹⁰ under Captain Suckling in the Dreadnaught. He returned a practical seaman, but with a hatred of the king's service, and a saying then common among the sailors: Aft, the most honor; forward, the better man.¹¹ Rathbone had probably been disappointed and disgusted in the navy; and, with no unfriendly intentions, warned Nelson against a profession which he himself had found hopeless. His uncle received him on board the Triumph on his return, and discovering his dislike to the navy, took the best means of reconciling him to it. He held it out as a reward, that if he attended well to his navigation he should go in the cutter¹² and decked longboat which were attached to the commanding officer's ship at Chatham. Thus he became a good pilot for vessels of that description from Chatham to the Tower, and down the Swin Channel to the North Foreland,¹³ and acquired a confidence among rocks and sands of which he often felt the value.

Nelson had not been many months on board the Triumph when his love of enterprise was excited by hearing that two ships were fitting out for a voyage of discovery towards the north pole. In consequence of the difficulties which were expected on such a service, these vessels were to take out effective men, instead of the usual number of boys. This, however, did not deter him from soliciting to be received, and by his uncle's interest he was admitted as cockswain¹⁴ under Captain Lutwidge, second in command. The voyage was undertaken in compliance with an application from the Royal Society.¹⁵ The Hon. Captain Constantine John Phipps, eldest son of Lord Mulgrave, volunteered his services. The Racehorse and Carcass bombs¹⁶ were selected as the strongest ships, and therefore best adapted for such a voyage; and they were taken into dock and strengthened, to render them as secure as possible against the ice. Two masters of Greenlandmen¹⁷ were employed as pilots for each ship. No expedition was ever more carefully fitted out; and the First Lord of the Admiralty,¹⁸ Lord Sandwich, with a laudable solicitude, went on board himself, before their departure, to see that everything had been completed to the wish of the officers. The ships were provided with a simple and excellent apparatus for distilling fresh from salt water, the invention of Dr. Irving, who accompanied the expedition. It consisted merely in fitting a tube to the ship's kettle, and applying a wet mop to the surface as the vapor was passing. By these means from thirty-four to forty gallons were produced every day.

They sailed from the Nore¹⁹ on the 4th of June;²⁰ on the 6th of the following month they were in latitude 79° 56' 39, longitude 9° 43' 30 E. The next day, about the place where most of the old discoverers had been stopped, the Racehorse was beset with ice; but they heaved her through with ice anchors.²¹ Captain Phipps continued ranging along the ice northward and westward till the 24th; he then tried to the eastward. On the 30th he was in latitude 80° 13', longitude 18° 48' E., among the islands and in the ice, with no appearance of an opening for the ships. The weather was exceedingly fine, mild, and unusually clear. Here they were becalmed in a large bay, with three apparent openings between the islands which formed it, but everywhere, as far as they could see, surrounded with ice. There was not a breath of air; the water was perfectly smooth, the ice covered with snow, low and even, except a few broken pieces near the edge, and the pools of water in the middle of the ice fields were just crusted over with young ice. On the next day the ice closed upon them, and no opening was to be seen anywhere, except a hole, or lake as it might be called, of about a mile and a half in circumference, where the ships lay fast to the ice with their ice anchors. They filled their casks with water from these ice fields, which was very pure and soft. The men were playing on the ice all day; but the Greenland pilots, who were farther than they had ever been before, and considered that the season was advancing, were alarmed at being thus beset.

The next day there was not the smallest opening; the ships were within less than two lengths of each other, separated by ice, and neither having room to turn. The ice, which yesterday had been all flat and almost level with the water's edge, was now in many places forced higher than the main yard,²² by the pieces squeezing together. A day of thick fog followed; it was succeeded by clear weather, but the passage by which the ships had entered from the westward was closed, and no open water was in sight either in that, or any other, quarter. By the pilots' advice, the men were set to work to cut a passage, and warp²³ through the small openings to the westward. They sawed through pieces twelve feet thick; and this labor continued the whole day, during which their utmost efforts did not move the ships above three hundred yards; while they were driven, together with the ice, far to the northeast and east by the current. Sometimes a field of several acres square would be lifted up between two larger islands,²⁴ and incorporated with them; and thus these larger pieces continued to grow by aggregation. Another day passed, and there seemed no probability of getting the ships out without a strong east or northeast wind. The season was far advanced, and every hour lessened the chance of extricating themselves. Young as he was, Nelson was appointed to command one of the boats which were sent out to explore a passage into the open water. It was the means of saving a boat belonging to the Racehorse from a singular but imminent danger. Some of the officers had fired at and wounded a walrus. As no other animal has so humanlike an expression in its countenance, so also is there none that seems to possess more of the passions of humanity. The wounded one dived immediately, and brought up a number of its companions; and they all joined in an attack upon the boat. They wrested an oar from one of the men; and it was with the utmost difficulty that the crew could prevent them from staving or upsetting her till the Carcass's boat came up, and the walruses, finding their enemies thus reënforced, dispersed. Young Nelson exposed himself in a more daring manner. One night, during the midwatch,²⁵ he stole from the ship with one of his comrades, taking advantage of a rising fog, and set out over the ice in pursuit of a bear. It was not long before they were missed. The fog thickened, and Captain Lutwidge and his officers became exceedingly alarmed for their safety. Between three and four in the morning the weather cleared, and the two adventurers were seen, at a considerable distance from the ship, attacking a huge bear. The signal for them to return was immediately made; Nelson's comrade called upon him to obey it, but in vain; his musket had flashed in the pan,²⁶ their ammunition was expended, and a chasm in the ice, which divided him from the bear, probably preserved his life. Never mind, he cried; do but let me get a blow at this devil with the butt end of my musket, and we shall have him. Captain Lutwidge, however, seeing his danger, fired a gun, which had the desired effect of frightening the beast; and the boy then returned, somewhat afraid of the consequences of his trespass. The captain reprimanded him sternly for conduct so unworthy of the office which he filled, and desired to know what motive he could have for hunting a bear. Sir, said he, pouting his lip, as he was wont to do when agitated, I wished to kill the bear that I might carry the skin to my father.

A party were now sent to an island about twelve miles off (named Walden's Island in the charts, from the midshipman who was intrusted with this service), to see where the open water lay. They came back on the 6th, with information that the ice, though close all about them, was open to the westward, round the point by which they came in. They said, also, that upon the island they had had a fresh east wind. This intelligence considerably abated the hopes of the crew; for where they lay it had been almost calm, and their main dependence had been upon the effect of an easterly wind in clearing the bay. There was but one alternative,—either to wait the event of the weather upon the ships, or to betake themselves to the boats. The likelihood that it might be necessary to sacrifice the ships had been foreseen; the boats, accordingly, were adapted, both in number and size, to transport, in case of emergency, the whole crew; and there were Dutch whalers upon the coast, in which they could all be conveyed to Europe. As for wintering where they were, that dreadful experiment had been already tried too often. No time was to be lost; the ships had driven into shoal water, having but fourteen fathoms. Should they, or the ice to which they were fast, take the ground,²⁷ they must inevitably be lost; and at this time they were driving fast towards some rocks on the northeast. Captain Phipps sent for the officers of both ships, and told them his intention of preparing the boats for going away. They were immediately hoisted out, and the fitting began. Canvas bread bags were made, in case it should be necessary suddenly to desert the vessels; and men were sent with the lead and line²⁸ to the northward and eastward, to sound wherever they found cracks in the ice, that they might have notice before the ice took the ground; for, in that case, the ships must instantly have been crushed or overset.

On the 7th of August they began to haul the boats over the ice, Nelson having command of the four-oared cutter. The men behaved excellently well, like true British seamen; they seemed reconciled to the thought of leaving the ships, and had full confidence in their officers. About noon the ice appeared rather more open near the vessels; and as the wind was easterly, though there was but little of it, the sails were set, and they got about a mile to the westward. They moved very slowly, and were not now nearly so far to the westward as when they were first beset. However, all sail was kept upon them, to force them through whenever the ice slacked the least. Whatever exertions were made, it could not be possible to get the boats to the water edge before the 14th; and if the situation of the ships should not alter

Vous aimez cet aperçu ?
Page 1 sur 1