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bay and took their stations, in the darkness, in a manner still spoken of with admiration by all who remember it. Captain Hallowell, in the Swiftsure, as he was bearing down, fell in with what seemed to be a strange sail. Nelson had directed his ships to hoist four lights horizontally at the mizen peak as soon as it became dark, and this vessel had no such distinction Hallowell, however, with great judgment, ordered his men not to fire. “If she was an enemy," he said, “she was in too disabled a state to escape; but, from her sails being loose, and the way in which her head was, it was probable she might be an English ship.” It was the Bellerophon, overpowered by the huge Orient. Her lights had gone overboard, nearly two hundred of her crew were killed or wounded, all her masts and cables had been shot away, and she was drifting out of the line towards the lee-side of the bay. Her station at this important time was occupied by the Swiftsure, which opened a steady fire on the quarter of the Franklin and the bows of the French admiral. At the same instant Captain Ball, with the Alexander, passed under his stern, and anchored within sight on his larboard quarter, raking him, and keeping a severe fire of musketry upon his decks. The last ship which arrived to complete the destruction of the enemy was the Leander. Captain Thompson, finding that nothing could be done that night to get off the Culloden, advanced with the intention of anchoring athwart-hawse of the Orient. The Franklin was so near her ahead, that there was not room for him to pass clear of the two; he therefore took his station athwart-hawse of the latter, in such a position as to rake both.
The two first ships of the French line had been dismasted within a quarter of an hour after the com
mencement of the action; and the others in that time suffered so severely, that victory was already certain. The third, fourth, and fifth were taken possession of at half-past eight. Meantime Nelson received a severe wound on the head from a piece of langridge shot. Captain Berry caught him in his arms as he was falling. The great effusion of blood occasioned an apprehension that the wound was mortal. Nelson himself thought so; a large flap of the skin of the forehead cut from the bone, had fallen over the eye ; and, the other being blind, he was in total darkness.
When he was carried down, the surgeon, in the midst of a scene scarcely to be conceived by those who have never seen a cockpit in time of action, and the heroism which is displayed amid its horrors—with a natural but pardonable eagerness, quitted the poor fellow then under his hands, that he might instantly attend the Admiral. “No!” said Nelson, “I will take my turn with my brave fellows." Nor would he suffer his own wound to be examined, till every man who had been previously wounded was properly attended to. Fully believing that the wound was mortal, and that he was about to die, as he had ever desired, in battle and in victory, he called the chaplain, and desired him to deliver what he supposed to be his dying remembrance to Lady Nelson; he then sent for Captain Louis on board, from the Minotaur, that he might thank him personally for the great assistance he had rendered to the Vanguard ; and, ever mindful of those who deserved to be his friends, appointed Captain Hardy from the brig, to the command of his own ship, Captain Berry having to go home with the news of the victory. When the surgeon came in due time to examine the wound (for it was in vain to entreat him to let it be examined sooner), the most antious
silence prevailed; and the joy of the wounded men, and of the whole crew, when they heard that the hurt was superficial, gave Nelson deeper pleasure than the unexpected 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 every one, appeared on the quarter-deck, where he immediately gave orders that boats should be sent to the relief of the enemy.
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. 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 portfire 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.
The firing recommenced with the ships to leeward of the centre, and continued till about three. At daybreak the Guillaume Tell and the Généreuse, 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 villanous 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.
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. Bonaparte 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 no 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."
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