Royal Naval Biography/Hardy, Thomas Masterman
SIR THOMAS MASTERMAN HARDY, BART.
[Post-Captain of 1798.]
Knight Commander of the most Honorable Military Order of the Bath; a Colonel of the Royal Marines; Commodore on the coast of South America; and a Chief-of-Division in the Portuguese Navy.
This officer, a native of Somersetshire, early displayed a decided attachment to the naval profession; and, contrary to the wishes of his family, resolutely began his career of glory without any interest to promote his views. He served for some time as Master’s-Mate in the Hebe frigate, commanded by the late gallant Captain Alexander Hood, in which ship Vice-Admiral Sir George Cockburn, whilst a Midshipman, was his messmate. After being separated by the vicissitudes of service for many years, they again met in la Minerve, of which frigate Mr. Hardy had been appointed a Lieutenant early in the revolutionary war, and in which capacity he served under his friend Captain Cockburn during the various operations already related in our memoir of that officer.
Whilst preparations were making in the fleet off Cadiz for an expedition against Teneriffe, the gallantry of our seamen was conspicuously displayed in the road of Santa Cruz. On the 28th May, 1797, Captains Hallowell and Cockburn, of the Lively and Minerve, having discovered a French brig of war lying close to the town, ordered their boats, under the command of Lieutenant Hardy, to proceed into the bay and attempt the daring enterprise of cutting her out. Accordingly, about 2h 30' P.M., our officer proceeded on this service; and being gallantly supported by Lieutenant (now Rear-Admiral) Gage, and his other companions, he boarded and carried the enemy, notwithstanding a steady fire of musketry from the brig) and a heavy discharge of artillery and small arms from the shore, to which he was for a long time exposed, as also to the fire of a large ship at anchor in the road. The prize proved to be la Mutine, mounting 12 long 6-pounders and 2 brass 36-pr. carronades, having on board about 120 men.
In this dashing affair the British had not a man killed, and only 15 wounded, including Lieutenant Hardy, who was immediately advanced for his bravery to the rank of Commander, and appointed to la Mutine, in which vessel he afterwards became more nearly associated with the services of Nelson, who had already borne public testimony to his merit, and immediately after his late achievement had exerted his influence with the commander-in-chief to obtain him the reward his gallant conduct merited. The following is a copy of the letter written by Sir John Jervis to Sir Horatio Nelson, in reply to his recommendation:
“My dear Admiral. The capture of la Mutine was so desperate an enterprise, that I should certainly have promoted Lieutenant Hardy, so that neither you, Hallowell, nor Cockburn, have any debtor account to me upon this occasion. He has got it by his own bat, and I hope will prosper.”
We next find Captain Hardy accompanying Nelson in pursuit of the powerful armament which had sailed from Toulon, and proceeded to Egypt, under the command of General Buonaparte. Immediately after the defeat of the French fleet in Aboukir Bay, he was made post into the Vanguard 74, bearing the flag of his heroic chief, which ship had become vacant by the selection of Captain Berry, to convey the official account of the victory to Earl St. Vincent. His commission was confirmed by the Admiralty, Oct. 2, 1798.
Towards the latter end of the same year King Ferdinand of Naples, and his Court, embarked in the Vanguard, for a passage to Palermo, where that persecuted monarch presented Captain Hardy with his miniature on a box set round with a double row of diamonds. Nelson soon afterwards shifted his flag into the Foudroyant of 80 guns, to which ship Captain Hardy also removed. In the ensuing summer the Rear-Admiral went to Naples; and, as his royal guest was pleased to say, “reconquered his kingdom, and placed him upon his throne.”
Captain Hardy continued to command the Foudroyant till Oct. 12, 1799; When Captain Berry having joined from England, he was appointed, pro tempore, to the Princess Charlotte frigate. On his return from the Mediterranean, he was introduced by letter to Nelson’s august friend, the Duke of Clarence, and recommended to the notice of His Royal Highness, “as an officer of the most distinguished merit.”
Our officer subsequently served as Flag-Captain to Lord Nelson, in the Namur, San Josef, and St. George, the latter forming part of the fleet destined to dissolve the Northern Confederacy. The particulars of the sanguinary battle off Copenhagen, April 2, 1801, have already been given, under the head of Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Foley; to which we have only to add, that during the preceding night, Captain Hardy was employed sounding the channel, and ascertaining the bearing of the eastern end of the Middle Ground, the greatest obstacle, as it afterwards proved, that the British had to contend with in their approach towards the Danish line of defence. On this occasion he rowed in his boat to the enemy’s leading ship, sounding round her, and using a pole when he was apprehensive of being heard. On his return to the Elephant, into which ship Lord Nelson had removed, for the purpose of more immediately superintending the operations of his division, Captain Hardy reported the practicability of the channel, and the depth of water up to the Danish line: had his report been abided by, instead of confiding in the masters and pilots, the latter of whom were in general mates of vessels trading from the ports of Scotland and north of England to the Baltic, there can be no doubt that those ships which unfortunately took the ground would have reached the several stations assigned to them, and thus been spared the mortification of remaining exposed to the fire from the Crown-batteries, without being able to render that effectual support to their companions which they wished.
On the 4th of April Lord Nelson landed at Copenhagen, accompanied by Captains Freemantle and Hardy, and received all possible attention from the Crown Prince. A strong guard secured his Lordship’s safety, and appeared necessary to keep off the mob, whose rage, although mixed with admiration at his thus trusting himself amongst them, was naturally to be expected. The events of the 2d, had plunged the whole town into a state of terror, astonishment, and mourning: the oldest inhabitant had never before seen a shot fired in anger at his native country. The battle of that day, and the return of the wounded to the care of their friends on the 3d, were certainly not events that could induce the Danish nation to receive their conqueror with much cordiality. It perhaps savoured of rashness in Lord Nelson thus early to risk himself amongst them; but with him his country’s cause was paramount to all personal consideration.
Sir Hyde Parker, having left those ships which were the most disabled in the late conflict, under the care of Lord Nelson, whose flag was again flying on board the St. George, proceeded with the rest of his fleet up the Baltic, for the purpose of chastising the Russians and Swedes. The sudden death of the Emperor Paul, however, which was immediately followed by pacific overtures from his successor, the present Czar, prevented the farther effusion of blood; and early in the month of May, Sir Hyde resigned the command to Nelson, who subsequently visited Revel and Rostock, at which latter place he received a visit from the Duke of Mecklenburgh Strelitz, brother to the consort of his late Majesty. The bad state of his Lordship’s health, however, compelled him to apply for leave to return to England; and, about the middle of June, he was succeeded in the command of the Baltic fleet by his worthy friend Sir C. M. Pole, who remained on that station till the latter end of July; when, there being no longer any occasion for so powerful a force there, he returned from thence in the St. George.
Soon after Captain Hardy’s arrival in England he was appointed to the Isis of 50 guns; and in the spring of the following year he conveyed H.R.H. the late Duke of Kent to Gibraltar. He next commanded the Amphion of 32 guns, and carried out Lord R. Fitzgerald on an embassy to the Court of Portugal. The Amphion returned to Spithead from Lisbon, Dec. 10, 1802.
It was on the 16th May, 1803, that a royal message to both Houses of Parliament announced a fresh rupture with France. The eyes of the British public were instantly directed toward their invincible Admiral; and, agreeably to the national wish, Lord Nelson was immediately appointed to the chief command of the Mediterranean fleet. His Lordship sailed for that station in the Victory of 100 guns, accompanied by Captain Hardy in the Amphion; and on his arrival off Brest shifted his flag to that frigate, where it remained till he was rejoined by the Victory off Toulon at the latter end of July. From this period till the termination of that hero’s glorious career, Captain Hardy was his constant companion.
The particulars of Lord Nelson’s memorable excursion to the West Indies, will be found under the head of Sir Pulteney Malcolm, in a note at p. 589, et seq. of our first volume; at the conclusion of which we left his Lordship returning to Spithead, filled with mortification on account of the combined squadrons of France and Spain having eluded his vigilance. Towards the end of August 1805, Captain Blackwood of the Euryalus arrived at the Admiralty, with intelligence of the enemy having put into Cadiz, where they were watched by Vice-Admiral Collingwood; and on the 14th of the following month, Lord Nelson again embarked on board the Victory. The scene is described as having been singularly affecting. He was followed to the beach by numbers of the inhabitants of Portsmouth in tears, many of whom knelt down before him and blessed the beloved hero of the British nation. The affectionate heart of Nelson could not but sympathise with the general interest that his countrymen took in his welfare, and turning round to Captain Hardy, he said, “I had their huzzas before – I have now their hearts.” The Victory weighed on the 15th, at day-break, and, accompanied by the Euryalus, worked down Channel against contrary and strong gales.
After encountering much blowing weather, his Lordship arrived off Cadiz on the 29th Sept.; and from that day till the 21st Oct. never came in sight of land, in order that the enemy might be kept in ignorance of his force: the wisdom of this plan was strongly proved by subsequent events. The French commander-in-chief, M. Villeneuve, repeatedly declared his belief that Nelson, by detaching six sail of the line to the Mediterranean, had reduced the British fleet so much as to render it one-third weaker than those of France and Spain.
We now come to the great and terrible day of the battle, When, as it has been well expressed, “God gave us victory, but Nelson died.” The two columns of the British fleet, led on by the commander-in-chief and his worthy second, the gallant Collingwood, advanced with light airs and all sail set, towards the van and centre of the enemy; the former steering for the bow of the huge Santissima Trinidada, the latter cutting through their line astern of another Spanish first-rate. The succeeding ships of each column vied with each other in following their leaders’ example. The enemy at first displayed considerable coolness; and, as the Victory approached, such of their ships as were a-head of her, and on her bows, frequently fired single guns, in order to ascertain whether she was within range. A shot having passed through her main-top-gallant-sail, they opened a tremendous fire, by which the Victory had about 20 men killed, and 30 others wounded, before she returned a shot. Her spars, sails, and rigging, were also much injured; when at length she opened her larboard guns on the combined van. Captain Hardy soon afterwards informed his chief that it would be impossible to break through their line, without running on board the Santissima Trinidada or the Bucentaure (the latter a French 80-gun ship, bearing the flag of M. Villeneuve), and begged to know which he would prefer. “Take your choice, Hardy,” replied the hero, “it does not much signify which.” The helm was now put a-port, and a raking fire poured into the sterns of those ships; after which, and being raked herself by the Neptune, a French 74, the Victory, in the act of coming to the wind, fell on board the Redoubtable 74; which ship, after discharging a broadside, let down her lower-deck ports, probably that she might not be boarded through them; nor were they again opened. Some time after this the Fougueux, another French 74, ran foul of the Temeraire, which ship had been previously lashed to the Redoubtable on her starboard side: so that the extraordinary and unprecedented circumstance occurred, of four ships of the line being on board of each other in the heat of battle, forming almost as compact a tier as if they had been moored together, their heads all lying nearly in the same direction.
In the first heat of the action, Mr. Scott, the Admiral’s Secretary, was killed by a cannon-shot, whilst in conversation with Captain Hardy. A few minutes afterwards a shot struck the fore-brace bits, and passing between Lord Nelson and Captain Hardy, drove some splinters about them, one of which bruised the foot of the latter officer, and tore the buckle from his shoe. They mutually looked at each other, when Nelson smiled and said, “This is too warm work to last, Hardy.” His Lordship also at this time noticed the coolness displayed by his crew, and declared, that in all his battles he had seen nothing that could surpass it.
The Redoubtable, in lieu of her great guns, kept up a heavy fire of musketry from her decks and tops, by which alone the Victory had upwards of 40 men killed and wounded. About an hour and a quarter after the commencement of the battle, Lord Nelson and Captain Hardy were observed to be walking near the middle of the quarter-deck: the Admiral had just commended the manner in which one of the British ships near him was fought: Captain Hardy advanced from him to give some necessary directions; and his Lordship was in the act of turning near the hatchway, with his face towards the stern, when a musket-ball struck him on the left shoulder, and entering through the epaulet, passed through the spine, and lodged in the muscles of the back, towards the right side. He instantly fell with his face on the deck, in the very place that was covered with the blood of his Secretary. Captain Hardy, on turning round, saw three men raising him. “Hardy,” said his Lordship, “I believe they have done it at last; my back bone is shot through.”
An extraordinary instance of his Lordship’s presence of mind when in the arms of death, is related by Dr. Beatty, who has still in his possession the fatal ball which terminated the existence of the greatest naval commander that ever breathed. “While the men were carrying him down the ladder from the middle-deck, his Lordship observed that the tiller-ropes were not yet replaced, and desired one of the Midshipmen stationed there to go upon the quarter-deck, and remind Captain Hardy of that circumstance, and request that new ones should be immediately rove. Having delivered this order, he took his handkerchief from his pocket, and covered his face with it, that he might be conveyed to the cockpit at this crisis unknown to the crew.” When the Surgeon had executed his melancholy office of ascertaining the direction of the ball, expressed the general feeling that prevailed on the occasion, and repeatedly been urged by the Admiral to go and attend to the other wounded officers and men, he reluctantly obeyed, but continued to return at intervals. As the blood flowed internally from the wound, the lower cavity of the body gradually filled; his Lordship therefore constantly desired Mr. Burke, the Purser, to raise him, and, complaining of an excessive thirst, was supplied with lemonade by the Rev. Mr. Scott. In this state of suffering his noble spirit remained unsubdued. His mind continued intent on the great object that was always before him, his duty to his country; he therefore anxiously inquired for Captain Hardy, to know whether the annihilation of the enemy might be depended on; but it was upwards of an hour before our officer could, at so critical a period, leave the deck, and Lord Nelson became apprehensive that his brave associate was dead. The crew of the Victory were now heard to cheer, and he anxiously demanded the cause; when Lieutenant Pasco, who lay wounded near him, said that one of their opponents had struck. A gleam of devout joy lighted up the countenance of Nelson; and as the crew repeated their cheers, and marked the progress of his victory, his satisfaction visibly encreased. “Will no one,” exclaimed he, “bring Hardy to me? He must be killed; I am certain he is dead.” His wishes were at length gratified; Captain Hardy soon afterwards descended to the cockpit, and anxiously strove to conceal the feelings with which he had been struggling. “How does the day go with us, Hardy?” “Ten ships, my Lord, have struck.” “But none of ours, I hope?” “There is no fear, my dear Lord, of that. Five of their van have tacked, and shew an intention of bearing down upon us; but I have called some of our fresh ships around the Victory, and have no doubt of your complete success.” Having said this, he found himself unable any longer to suppress the yearnings of a brave and affectionate heart, and hurried away for a time to conceal the bitterness of his sorrow.
For about fifteen minutes after Lord Nelson received his mortal wound, the Redoubtable continued to sustain the fire of the two British 3-deckers, she herself pouring in constant discharges of musketry upon the decks of her antagonists. To obviate the danger of the Temeraire’s suffering from the Victory’s shot passing through the French ship, the starboard guns of the former were depressed, and fired with a diminished charge of powder, and three shot each, into the enemy. The larboard guns of the Victory were occasionally used in returning the fire of the Santissima Trinidada, Bucentaure, and other ships in the van, from whose shot, during the progress of the battle, she received considerable injury.
At length, after having been twice in flames herself, and by throwing combustibles occasioned a fire among some ropes and canvas on the Victory’s booms, the Redoubtable, having lost her bowsprit, main and mizen-masts, and fore-top-mast, and being, as we may readily imagine, in a dreadfully shattered condition, ceased her opposition and surrendered.
Towards the close of the combat, Captain Hardy again visited the cockpit, and reported to his dying chief the number of ships that had struck. “God be praised, Hardy!” replied the expiring hero; “bring the fleet to an anchor.” The delicacy of Captain Hardy’s situation, there being no Captain of the Fleet, was peculiarly embarrassing; and, with as much feeling as the subject would admit of, he hinted at the command devolving on Vice-Admiral Collingwood. Nelson, feeling the vast importance of the fleet being brought to anchor, and with the ruling passion of his soul predominant in death, replied somewhat indignantly, “not whilst I live, I hope, Hardy;” and vainly endeavouring, at the moment, to raise himself on the pallet, “Do you,” said he, “bring the fleet to anchor.” Captain Hardy was returning to the quarter-deck, when the Admiral called him back and delivered his last injunctions, desiring, among other matters of a private nature, that his body might be carried home, and, unless his Sovereign should otherwise command it, be buried by the side of his parents. He then took his faithful follower by the hand, and observing, that he would most probably not see him again alive, desired Captain Hardy to kiss him, that he might seal their long friendship with that affection which pledged sincerity in death. Captain Hardy stood for a few minutes in silent agony over the body of him he so truly regarded, and then kneeling down, again kissed his forehead: “Who is that?” said the dying warrior: “It is Hardy, my Lord.” “God bless you, Hardy,” replied Nelson feebly, and shortly after added, “I wish I had not left the deck, I shall soon be gone;” his voice then gradually became inarticulate, with an evident increase of pain: when, after a feeble struggle, these last words were distinctly heard, “I have done my duty, I praise god for it.” Having said this, he turned his face towards Mr. Burke, on whose arm he had been supported; and great as must have been his previous sufferings, expired without a struggle or a groan, at half-past four o’clock, just three hours and a quarter after he had received the fatal wound, and about fifteen minutes after Captain Hardy left him.
According to the official statements, the total loss sustained by the Victory in this ever memorable combat, was 57 killed and 75 wounded; but, according to Dr. Beatty’s Narrative, the real number of wounded was 102; 27 men having reported themselves too late to be included in the returns.
The Victory having been made sea-worthy at Gibraltar, where she arrived seven days after the battle, passed through the Straits during the night of the 4th of November, and the next day at noon joined Vice-Admiral Collingwood off Cadiz. Captain Hardy parted company in the evening, and stood for England. The body of Lord Nelson had been preserved with the greatest care and attention by the Surgeon; at first in brandy, and afterwards, on arriving at Gibraltar, where a sufficient quantity could be procured, with a portion of spirits of wine mixed with brandy. After a long and melancholy passage, the Victory arrived at St. Helen’s on the 4th December, when the Port-Admiral made the signal for the ships at Spithead and in Portsmouth harbour to strike their colours half-mast. The recollection how lately she had sailed, bearing the flag of that great Admiral, whose remains she now brought home to his country for burial, rendered her an object of the greatest interest. Her shattered and dismantled state declared the fury of the battle in which the hero fell, and her decks were still stained with the blood of those who had avenged his death. She had received 86 shot between wind and water. Her fore and main-masts had been very badly wounded, and were filled with musket-balls; she had a jury mizen-mast and jury fore and main-top-masts; and many round shot were to be seen in her bowsprit and bows.
On the llth Dec. Captain Hardy sailed from Spithead for the Nore, but did not reach the Downs till the 17th. On the 22d the Victory was met by a yatch sent from Sheerness with the York Herald and Mr. Tyson, formerly Secretary to the deceased Admiral, to receive the corpse. In the evening, when they got on board, and had declared the purpose for which they came, a general gloom and impressive silence pervaded the whole ship. On the coffin being lowered down from the Victory, the flag of Nelson, which had been flying half-mast high ever since the battle, was struck, and immediately sent on board the yacht, where it was again hoisted in the same funereal manner.
In the evening of the 24th the body was landed at Greenwich, and deposited in the Record-room of the Royal Hospital, preparatory to its lying in state in the Painted Hall. The Victory proceeded to Chatham, where she was soon after put out of commission for the purpose of being repaired.
On the 9th Jan. 1806, the day on which the remains of Lord Nelson were interred in the Cathedral Church of St. Paul’s, Captain Hardy bore the Banner of Emblems before the relations of the deceased. In the following month he was created a Baronet of Great Britain; and in the ensuing spring appointed to the Triumph of 74 guns, on the Halifax station. He subsequently served under the orders of the late Admiral Berkeley, at Lisbon; and in 1811, the Portuguese Government conferred upon him the rank of a Chief-of-Division in the royal armada of Portugal, doubling at the same tune the pay attached to that appointment.
In August 1812, Sir Thomas M. Hardy obtained the command of the Ramillies, another third rate; and towards the close of the same year, proceeded in that ship to reinforce the fleet on the coast of North America. During the summer of 1813, he commanded a squadron employed off New London, watching two frigates and a sloop of war belonging to the United States. On the 25th June a boat was sent from the Ramillies to cut off a schooner, which was making for that harbour. She was taken possession of about eleven o’clock, the crew having deserted her after letting go her only anchor. The officer of the boat brought the prize near the Ramillies, and informed Sir Thomas Hardy that she was laden with provisions and naval stores. Very fortunately for the ship he commanded, Sir Thomas ordered the schooner to be taken alongside a trading sloop which had been captured a few days before; for while they were in the act of securing her, about half past two o’clock, she blew up with a tremendous explosion, and a Lieutenant (Geddes) and ten valuable seamen lost their lives. It was afterwards ascertained, that this schooner, the Eagle, of New York, was fitted out by two merchants of that place, induced by the American government offering half the value of the British ships of war so destroyed, for the express purpose of burning the Ramillies; and hearing that that ship was short of provisions and stores, they placed some in the hatch-way hoping thereby to induce Sir Thomas Hardy to take her alongside. Under the provisions were deposited several casks of gun-powder, with trains leading to a magazine, which was fitted upon the same mechanical principles as clock-work. When it had run the time given to it by the winderup, it gave force to a sort of gun-lock. The explosion of the vessel, and the destruction of all that might be near it, was the end proposed. We shall not attempt to comment on an act, the success of which would have hurled so many hundred persons as were on board the Ramillies into eternity; every friend of humanity rejoiced at its failure.
Towards the conclusion of the war with America, Sir Thomas M. Hardy, in conjunction with a detachment of the army under Lieutenant-Colonel Pilkington, took possession of the islands in Passamaquoddy Bay. He also bombarded the town of Stonington, which had been conspicious in preparing and harbouring torpedoes, and giving assistance to the enemy’s attempts at the destruction of the British ships of war stationed off New London.
At the enlargement of the Order of the Bath, Jan. 2, Sir Thomas M. Hardy was nominated a K.C.B.; and in July, 1816, he obtained the command of a royal yatch. He was appointed to the Superb of 78 guns, Nov. 30, 1818; and in the following year hoisted a broad pendant in that ship, as Commodore of the squadron employed in South America; from which station he has returned since the first part of this memoir went to the press.
Of the nature of the service on the coast of South America, so little is generally known that a slight sketch of it may not be without interest to some of our readers.
Owing to the unacknowledged political existence of the South American governments, they have been diplomatically neglected by European nations; we at least have hitherto had no Ambassador there, no Consuls, nor indeed any public authorities whatever. But as the commerce of those countries, upon being freed from the Spanish yoke, became at once considerable, and was rapidly increasing; and as many British merchants were resident there, and much British capital floating about, it became necessary that some protection should be afforded to those interests, and a watchful eye kept over the proceedings of States which, though still in a state of infancy, were nevertheless respectable from their wealth and extent.
As it had ever been usual to station men of war wherever commerce was in activity, there was nothing novel, or calculated to excite jealousy, in having a squadron in South America. The duties of this squadron became important in proportion as the new States, feeling their growing strength, were inclined to give trouble, either by new and oppressive commercial laws, or by interfering with the personal liberty, and sometimes by. detaining the ships, of our countrymen. Many of the countries of which we are speaking were, it must be recollected, in a state of war. Some of their ports were blockaded, and every source of jealousy and distrust let loose. Others had more than one government and the consequent confusion was greatly augmented by the eagerness of commercial speculation, which led many individuals to despise all prudence, and all local regulations, in order, at every hazard, to force their trade: this was naturally followed by seizures, confiscations, and a long train of appeals. The governments too, were often ignorant of what was customary, and generally obstinate; but not infrequently they were right and our own countrymen not easily defended. Under these circumstances the greatest temper and judgment, and the nicest arrangement, were necessary; but it is scarcely possible, without entering into long details, to afford a just conception of the effective manner in which those complicated duties were conducted by Sir Thomas Hardy.
It will be easily understood why services of this nature are not suited to strike the public eye in a Gazette; but it is certainly to be lamented, that the successful exercise of such qualities should be confined to the knowledge of a few officers whom accident had placed within its view, and be utterly unknown to the public, and to the body of the naval service, to whom the example is of so much consequence. These things are the more worthy of remark from their requiring an exertion of powers very different from those which it has heretofore been almost the exclusive duty of officers to cherish. Yet it is pleasing to think that the qualities of patient forbearance and of conciliatory kindness may, at times, prove as useful to the public service, as the more energetic talents of enterprise and action. In South America, indeed, where we were at peace, any shew of violence must have been mischievous to the British interests, and could have accomplished nothing. Yet there was no want of provocation, for injustice was often committed, and the national honor, it might seem, sometimes threatened; and although there could not be for a moment a question, that these things required adequate redress, yet there was no ordinary skill and dexterity displayed in the way in which it was sought and obtained, so as to leave things better for us than before. These cases were scarcely ever alike, so that experience did little more than teach the truth and solidity of the principles, by which our conduct was regulated. Had we always had right on our side, that is, had the commercial transactions which we had to protect always been pure, and the displeasure of the governments always unjust, it would have been easier; but it sometimes happened otherwise. Many prizes, or rather detentions, were made by the Patriot squadrons, on the strongly supported plea of having Spanish property on board – British sailors reported that they had been forcibly detained, and made to fight against the allies of their country Masters and Supercargoes of ships said they had been plundered on the high seas, under the form of local usage and regular duties. – Englishmen represented themselves as being unjustly imprisoned – each party charged us with favoring their opponents – the crews of ships, taking advantage of the general state of confusion, mutinied and refused to do their duty:– in short, all was out of order, nothing was flowing in its natural course, every thing being, in fact, under the guidance of men whose bad passions were at their height, and whose minds were in such a frame, that they interpreted every thing in the worst language it would bear. This dislocation of society was not confined to a single port, or a single state, but extended, with more or less distraction, over the whole continent, threatening all social order and security of persons, as well as destruction to the great mass of commerce which, notwithstanding the forbidding aspect of affairs, was always ready to flow in at every casual opening, in spite of all prudence and experience.
At a time when very few, if any other man, saw his way clearly through this dark and troubled prospect, Sir Thomas Hardy appears never to have faltered, or been at a loss; and this confidence, as he sought on every occasion to impress on the minds of his officers, consisted principally, he told them, in their being totally pure and disinterested personally in all that was going on – in maintaining themselves, above all, free from political party spirit on every hand; and whatever seeming provocation might arise, never to consider that any disrespect was intentional, unless it were obvious; to be slow, in short, to take offence, national or personal, unless it could not be mistaken; and in every consequent explanation to recollect, that voluntary acknowledgment, however trifling, was always better than any whatsoever that was compulsory. When decision and firmness, however, became necessary, as they sometimes did, the different governments and their servants, speedily learnt that nobody could be more immoveably resolute than he was; and yet the sentiment which his private habits and public conduct had inspired, not only amongst the Spaniards and the native powers, but amongst the strangers, who from motives of gain had sought that country, was of a far kindlier nature; and it was essentially owing to this circumstance, that his influence became so commanding and extensive. He was trusted everywhere, and enjoyed in a wonderful degree the confidence and esteem of all parties whatsoever: his advice, which was never obtruded, was never suspected; and a thousand bitter disputes were at once settled amicably, and to the advantage of all parties, by a mere word of his, instead of being driven into what are called national questions, to last for years, and lead to no useful end. When this respect and confidence had once become fully established, every thing went on so smoothly under his vigilant auspices, that it was those only who chanced to be placed near the scene, who could perceive the extent, or appreciate the importance, of the public good which he was silently dispensing – as in a well-steered ship, a stranger is unconscious how much he owes to the operation of the helm, or how much merit belongs to the hand which, unseen, guides the motions of the whole. It is on this account that we have dwelt so long on services which, unlike his former exploits in war, do not speak for themselves, but which are nevertheless in the highest degree entitled to public gratitude, and are most worthy of professional imitation.
Sir Thomas M. Hardy married Anne Louisa Emily, a daughter of the late Admiral Hon. Sir George C. Berkeley, G.C.B., niece of the late Duke of Richmond, and sister to the Countess of Euston.
Agents.– Messrs. Cooke, Halford, and Son.
- See Vol. I. p. 520 et seq. In addition to what we have already stated respecting the action between la Minerve and the Spanish frigate Sabina, it is necessary to observe, that on the surrender of the latter, Lieutenants Culverhouse and Hardy, with 40 men, were sent on board the prize, which was soon after taken in tow, but cast off again in consequence of another frigate approaching. This vessel engaged la Minerve about half an hour, and then hauled off. A Spanish squadron now hove in sight, and la Minerve had her own safety to look to. The officers on board the prize, purposely to draw the attention of the enemy from what, on more than one account, would have been by far the more valuable acquisition of the two, hoisted English over Spanish colours; and with their few men, not only kept the prisoners in subjection, but manoeuvred with the greatest skill, until the fall of their masts, when they were obliged to surrender. On Commodore Nelson’s return from Porto Ferrajo to Gibraltar, they had the gratification of being allowed to rejoin la Minerve, having been previously exchanged by the Spaniards.
- See Vol. I p. 777.
- See Vol. 1. note at p. 365, et seq.
- Previous to Lord Nelson’s departure from the Baltic, he received instructions to invest Rear-Admiral Graves, who had so ably seconded him in the late battle, with the Order of the Bath. This ceremony was performed with all possible dignity, June 14th, on the quarter-deck of the St. George.
- See Vol. I. p. 833.
- The reader is requested to make the following corrections in the note alluded to above: p. 590, lines 24 and 25, for William Gordon Rutherford, read Mark Robinson: p. 591, line 20 from bottom, for we, read he; line 14 from bottom, after 19th, insert June.
N.B. Rear Admiral George Murray was Lord Nelson’s first captain. The Northumberland and Spartiate were the two ships which joined his Lordship at Barbadoes; the former was left on her station when he returned to Europe.
- For the respective force of the hostile fleets, see Vol. I, pp. 205-6.
- Rear-Admiral George Murray, who had formerly filled the honorable post of Captain of the Fleet, having occasion to remain in England to settle some family affairs, left his Lordship on his return from the West Indies.
- A short time previous to the commencement of the battle, Captains Blackwood and Hardy witnessed Lord Nelson’s will. To the latter officer his Lordship bequeathed a small legacy, and all his telescopes.
- It is said to have been the intention of Vice-Admiral Collingwood, to have sent the body of Lord Nelson home in the Euryalus frigate, until a very strong reluctance was manifested by the crew of the Victory to part with so valuable a relic, to which they felt almost an exclusive claim: they remonstrated through one of their boatswain’s mates, against the removal, upon a ground that could not be resisted: he said, “the noble Admiral had fought with them, and fell on their own deck; that if, by being put on board a frigate, his body should fall into the hands of the enemy, it would make their loss doubly grievous to them; and, therefore, that they were one and all resolved to carry it safely to England, or to go to the bottom along with it themselves.”