Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

assurance that his life was in no danger. The surgeon requested, and, as far as he could, ordered, him to remain quiet; but Nelson could not rest. He called for his secretary, Mr. Campbell, to write the despatches. Campbell had himself been wounded, and was so affected at the blind and suffering state of the Admiral that he was unable to write. The chaplain was sent for; but before he came, Nelson, with his characteristic eagerness, took the pen and contrived to trace a few words, marking his devout sense of the success which had already been obtained. He was now left alone; when suddenly a cry was heard on the deck that the Orient was on fire. In the confusion he found his way up, unassisted and unnoticed; and, to the astonishment of everyone, appeared on the quarter-deck, where he immediately gave orders that boats should be sent to the relief of the enemy.

3. It was soon after nine that the fire on board the Orient broke out. Brueys was dead; he had received three wounds, yet would not leave his post; a fourth cut him almost in two. He desired not to be carried below, but to be left to die upon deck. The flames soon mastered his ship. Her sides had just been painted, and the oil-jars and paint-buckets were lying on the poop. By the prodigious light of this conflagration, the situation of the fleets could now be perceived, the colours of both being clearly distinguishable. About ten o'clock the ship blew up, with a shock which was felt to the very bottom of every vessel. Many of her officers and men jumped overboard, some clinging to the spars and pieces of wreck with which the sea was strewn; others swimming to escape from the destruction which they momentarily dreaded. Some were picked up by our boats; and some, even in the heat and fury of the action, were dragged into the lower ports of the nearest British ships

by the British sailors. The greater part of her crew, however, stood the danger to the last, and continued to fire from the lower deck. This tremendous explosion was followed by a silence not less awful; the firing immediately ceased on both sides; and the first sound which broke the silence was the dash of her shattered masts and yards falling into the water from the vast height to which they had been exploded. It is upon record, that a battle between two armies was once broken off by an earthquake:—such an event would be felt like a miracle : but no incident in war, produced by human means, has ever equalled the sublimity of this co-instantaneous pause, and all its circumstances.

4. About seventy of the Orient's crew were saved by the English boats. Among the many hundreds who perished were the Commodore, Casa Bianca, and his son, a brave boy only ten years old. They were seen floating on a shattered mast when the ship blew up. She had money on board (the plunder of Malta) to the amount of six hundred thousand pounds sterling. The masses of burning wreck which were scattered by the explosion, excited, for some moments, apprehensions in the English which they had never felt from any other danger. Two large pieces fell into the main and foretops of the Swiftsure, without injuring any person. A port-fire also fell into the main-royal of the Alexander: the fire which it occasioned was speedily extinguished. Captain Ball had provided, as far as human foresight could provide, against any such danger. All the shrouds and sails of his ship, not absolutely necessary for its immediate management, were thoroughly wetted, and so rolled up, that they were as hard and as little inflammable as so many solid cylinders.

5. The firing recommenced with the ships to the lee

ward of the centre, and continued till about three. At daybreak the Guillaume Tell and the Genereuse, the two rear ships of the enemy, were the only French ships of the line which had their colours flying; they cut their cables in the forenoon, not having been engaged, and stood out to sea, and two frigates with them. The Zealous pursued; but, as there was no other ship in a condition to support Captain Hood, he was recalled. It was generally believed by the officers that, if Nelson had not been wounded, not one of these ships could have escaped; the four certainly could not, if the Culloden had got into action; and, if the frigates belonging to the squadron had been present, not one of the enemy's fleet would have left Aboukir Bay. These four vessels, however, were all that escaped; and the victory was the most complete and glorious in the annals of naval history. "Victory," said Nelson, " is not a name strong enough for such a scene;" he called it a conquest. Of thirteen sail of the line, nine were taken and two burnt; of the four frigates, one was sunk; another, the Artemise, was burnt, in a villainous manner, by her captain, M. Estandlet, who, having fired a broadside at the Theseus, struck his colours, then set fire to the ship, and escaped with most of his crew to shore. The British loss, in killed and wounded, amounted to 895. Westcott was the only captain who fell; 3,105 of the French, including the wounded, were sent on shore by cartel, and 5,225 perished.

6. Thus ended this eventful battle, which exalted the name of Nelson to a level, at least, with that of the celebrated conqueror, whose surprising success at the head of the French armies had then begun to draw the attention of the civilized world. Buonaparte had stained his laurels by the unprecedented baseness of his private conduct; he had not scrupled to turn Turk,

and all his public proclamations were disgraced by the absurd phrases of Mahometan superstition: Nelson, on the other hand, had an occasion of showing that he was an Englishman and a Christian; the first words of his despatches on this memorable occasion prove his gratitude to that Providence which had protected him :Almighty God has blessed his Majesty's arms."

66

SPELL AND GIVE THE MEANING

horizon'tally, here, in a level line. miz'en, the mast nearest the stern. lee-side, that towards which the

wind blows.

wind'ward, the side from which the wind blows.

quar'ter, the part of a ship's side

next the stern.

athwart'-hawse, across the cables of the anchors, at the bows.

:

lang'ridge shot, a kind of shot made of nails, spikes, &c., bound together. Intended to fly apart on being fired, to cut the rigging. conflagra'tion, burning. distin'guishable, noticeable. cyl'inder, a round pipe of metal, &c. unprecedented, without former example.

THE MINUTE GUN AT SEA.

WHEN in the storm on Albion's coast
The night watch guards his weary post,
From thoughts of danger free,

He marks some vessel's dusky form,
And hears, amid the howling storm,
The minute gun at sea.

Swift on the shore a hardy few
The life-boat man with gallant crew,

And dare the dangerous wave:
Through the wild surf they cleave their way,
Lost in the foam,-nor know dismay ;—
They go the crew to save!

But, oh! what rapture fills each breast
On board the hapless ship distress'd!
Then, landed safe, what joy to tell
Of all the dangers that befel!
Then heard is, no more,

By the watch on shore,

The minute gun at sea.

SUNSHINE AFTER A SHOWER.-T. WARTON.

Thomas Warton, a clergyman, the son of a poet and clergyman, who was Professor of Poetry at Oxford-was, in his turn, all three. He wrote a famous History of English Poetry. Born, 1728; Died, 1790.

[graphic]

FROM shelter deep of shaggy rock

The shepherd drives his joyful flock;

From bowering1 beech

the mower blithe With new-born vigour grasps the scythe; While o'er the smooth unbounded meads His last faint gleam the rainbow spreads.

Ever after summer

When the bright sun's

returning power

With laughing beam has
chased the storm,
And cheer'd reviving

Nature's form,

By sweet-briar hedges

bathed in dew,

Let me my wholesome

path pursue;

There, issuing forth, the

frequent snail

Wears the dank2 way

with slimy trail;

« AnteriorContinuar »