Page:Notes and Queries - Series 11 - Volume 11.djvu/173

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118. XI. FEB. 27, 1915.) NOTES AND QUERIES.


Lady Hamilton, which totally weaned his affections from his wife "Nelson, indeed, writing to the former in hopes for the day when the " obstacle " would be removed ; that is, when his wife would be dead that, "farther than this, there is no reason to believe that this most unfortunate attach- ment was criminal."

However, the biographer of Nelson ' The Happy Warrior ' poet's high-minded political friend goes on, as one expects, to maintain that "this unhappy attachment .... led to the only blot upon his public character. 1 "

Cardinal Ruffo, as vice-regent, and the Neapolitan Royalists accepted the capitula- tion of the revolutionists. Nelson then sailed in. He made a sign to annul the treaty. The Cardinal (becoming therefor half suspected as a traitor by the Queen and by the English Neapolitan prime minister, Sir John Acton) held himself bound by his word of honour, by the paper " signed by the Cardinal and the Russian and Turkish commanders; and, lastly, by Capt. Foote, as commander of the British force."

" Nor could all the arguments of Nelson,* Sir W. Hamilton, and Lady Hamilton, who took an active part in the conference, convince him that a treaty of such a nature, solemnly con- cluded, could honorably be set aside."

What thereafter happened was that " the garrisons, taken out of the castles, under pretence of carrying the treaty into effect, w delivered over as rebels to the vengeance of the Sicilian Court."

Wordsworth's friend exclaims : " A deplorable transaction ! a stain upon the memory of Nelson, and the honour of England ! To palliate it would be vain ; to justify it would be wicked : there is no alternative, for one who will not make himself a participator in guilt, but to record the disgraceful story with sorrow and shame."

And when, further, Nelson hanged the aged Prince Francesco Caraccioli (who, at the time that the " Parthenopa?an Republic " of Naples ordered all Neapolitans to return, on pain of losing their estates, had got his exiled King's permission, and had returned, but had then served compulsorily he said under the Republican de facto Government, yet now was expressing "his hope that the few days during which he had been forced to obey the French would not outweigh forty years of faithful services "), then Southey held that "here also a faithful historian is called upon to pronounce a severe and unqualified condemnation of Nelson's con- duct."

  • Nelson to Lord Keith, 27 June, 1799: "An

admiral is no match in talking with a cardinal."

For Southey believed that the reason why Nelson rejected even Caraccioli's entreaty to be shot *

" I am an old man, sir, I leave no family to lament me, and therefore cannot be supposed to be very anxious about prolonging my life ; bufc the disgrace of being hanged is dreadful to me" -

was that Lady Hamilton drove her lover on :

" She was present at the execution. She had the most devoted attachment to the Neapolitan Court ; and the hatred which she felt against those whom she regarded as its enemies made her, at this time, forget what was due to the character of her sex, as well as of her country."

The Queen had written to her :

"Finally, my dear lady, I recommend Lord Nelson to treat Naples as if it were a rebellious. Irish town."

Those v. ('Nelson and the Neapolitan? Jacobins,' Navy Records Society) who justify Nelson maintain that the rebels- against the King of Naples deserved: much less than the defeated loyalists for King James at Limerick the making o any treaty, or any other parley than a demand to surrender unconditionally as rebels. And as to Prince Caraccioli, the palliators or the justifiers say that his handi was not forced to that short service of his under the Republican enemies of his King de jure. But, Southey asked, had Nelson the Sicilian-Neapolitan King's authority for the two hours' court-martial on the Prince T. Why this precipitation, making impossible the calling of soldier witnesses for the defence,, and precluding any appeal for mercy to the victim's king ?

" Doubtless the British Admiral seemed to himself to be acting under a rigid sense of justice ; but, to all other persons," was Southey 's conclusion, which seems also his friend Wordsworth's,

" it was obvious that he was influenced by am infatuated attachment a baneful passion, which- destroyed his domestic happiness, and now.... stained incffaceably his public character ,"f

Insufficient, then, seems Mr. Gosse's ex- planation in The Edinburgh Review, January,, 1915, p. 93, that " ' The Happy Warrior ' is not a direct portrait of Nelson" for this

  • Nelson, against Hamilton's wish, refused even-

to listen to Thurn, the president of the court so hostile to Caraccioli, representing that "it was usual to give 24 hours for the care of the soul jr ~ (Hamilton to Acton, 29 June, 1799).

f Nelson settled the matter, against Fox's speech of blame, by laying down that, " an Englishman, ought ever to suppose that his Majesty's officers would always act with honour and openness in alfc. their transactions" (9 May, 1800).