Page images


I remembered the numberless prayers, tears and sighs, offered up by so many servants of Jesus, and by our congregations in Europe, for the conversion of the poor heathen here ; and when I beheld our burying ground where eleven of my brethren had their resting place, as seed sown in a barren land, I burst into tears and exclaimed, Surely all this cannot have been done in vain! Often had I visited this place, and sat down and wept at their graves !

His farewell to the inhabitants was very affecting; they wept and howled for grief, and begged that the brethren might soon return.

No sect was ever more calumniated than that of the Moravians when Count Zinzendorf brought them into public notice; and it inust be admitted, that the language of their hymns gave ample occasion for disgust and scandal. Like other sects they have outgrown their follies, and outlived the calumnies consequent upon them; and certain it is that no community in proportion to its numbers and means has ever made such persevering and successful exertion for spreading the gospel. Wherever men are most ignorant, most brutalized, most wretched, there they have gone to teach them the first and most essential of the arts of civilized life, and to offer them the hopes and the consolations of christianity. They have thus effected the conversion of the Greenlanders; they are labouring among the Esquimaux; the North American Indians; the negro slaves in the sugar islands and in Dutch Guiana; and the Hottentots. The annual expenditure of these missions, beyond what the establishments furnish to their own support, is about £8000, and hitherto it has been wholly as well as cheerfully supported by a community which is neither numerous nor opulent, but most meritoriously industrious and frugal. But they have shared in the general ruin which the insatiable ambition of one individual has brought upon the whole continent of Europe. Their settlements in Germany have been exhausted by repeated requisitions, and that at Moscow plundered by the French and burnt; all its members being at once literally made beggars. In this state of things they have for the first time appealed to the benevolence of other christian communities, to assist them in discharging a debt of £4000,

t which they estimate the deficit of the year, occasioned by these circumstances.

-We offer no apology for concluding with this statement, fee!. ing it an act of duty to make it as public as possible.

[ocr errors]

ART. V. The Letters of Lord Nelson to Lady Hamilton ; with

a Supplement of Interesting Letters, by distinguished Personages. 2 vols. 8vo. Lovewell and Co. London. 1814.

IT T is with great regret that we undertake to give our readers some account of these volumes.

The only cloud which has obscured the bright fame of the immortal Nelson was generated in the fatal atinosphere of Naples. -His public honour and his private faith have been sullied by, to say no worse of it, a foible, of which these volumes are a fresh, and we must add, a shameless record.

In what we have to say, we shall not follow the example which we reprobate, nor contribute to spread the poison which, with a double malignancy, invades the reputation of the dead, and the tranquillity of the living. We should indeed not have noticed this publication at all, but that public justice, and the peace and well-being of society require that we should visit such an attempt with the severest punishment that our literary authority can pronoance, and we feel ourselves the more obliged to this just severity, from observing in the preface a pledge that more matter of the same kind is in the same hands, and about to be employed in the same indiscreet and profligate manner.

The fame of Lord Nelson is, as his life and services were, public property; and we absolutely deny the right to which any unworthy possessor of a few of his private notes may pretend, to invade (by the publication of what never was intended to pass the eye and ear of the most intimate and confidential friendship) to invade, we say, that public property, and lower the reputation of the hero and his country.

Lord Nelson's private letters to Lady Hamilton contain absolutely nothing to justify their publication. Of his public transactions, or of his private sentiments of public affairs they furnish no memorial ;-they are the mere records of the transient clouds of his temper, of the passing feelings of his heart, of the peevisbness, which an anxious spirit and a sickly frame produced : and if we are obliged, in truth and candour, though most reluctantly, to say that they are coarse, shallow, and fulsome, miserably deficient in taste, ease, or amiability, let us not be accused of endeavouring,

, by this fair speaking of the truth, to degrade a name which we love almost to idolatry :: our real motives are a true anxiety for his fame, and a desire to extinguish at once these base attempts at turning a penny by the prostitution of so noble a name, and the betraying of so high a confidence.

We knew Lord Nelson, and we saw in him abundant reason to

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

excuse, almost to forget these little imperfections of his noble nature—but even those who knew him not, or we should rather say, even those who only know him by his great achievements and generous spirit will be prepared, from their own knowledge of human nature, to expect that so much zeal, such an ardent enthusiasm, such a self-devouring anxiety as prompted bim in his career of glory, would not have been unaccompanied by a certain impatience of feeling and a certain freedom of expression which were naturally pardonable, indeed almost admirable, in the man himself, but which it is grievous to every honest heart, and injurious to the human character to have recorded, chronicled, and exposed.

In the pangs of disappointed hope, in the pain of illness, in the hurry and agitation of great zeal and conscious supremacy of talent, is it very surprising that even the best, and dearest, and earliest friends of Nelson should, when they happened to cross the favourite path of his mind, to interrupt his glorious day-dreams, or in their love and prudence, to think for himn who never thought for himself, is it, we say, surprising, that they should be sometimes lightly treated in his hasty notes to a woman whom unfortunately he adored rather than loved, and who has, by this publication which appears to have been made, if not by her, at least with her sanction, proved herself but little worthy the confidence of such a man?

nce of su It may perhaps gratify the personal vanity of Lady Hamilton

, twenty others called ber their own dear, dearest, best beloved, to publish to the world how Lord Nelson and Lord Brick amilton and all accomplished, incomparable Emma: but really this personal gratification is obtained at a price at which we did not think that the vainest and the most indelicate of her sex could have con. descended to buy it. What will our readers think when we tell them that in these letters, so complimentary to the elegant and delicate Emma, other females of the highest rank and the purest characters in society are designated by appellations so vulgar, so gross, so indecent, that we cannot stain our paper with them, and can only describe them as belonging to the dialect of the most depraved profligates of both sexes; and these horrible passages, neither honour of the dead, nor tenderness for the living, nor respect for public decorum, has induced the editor (who however can obliterate on occasion) to expunge !

Besides Lord Nelson's letters, there are also published, under pretence of being elucidatory of his lordship’s letters to Lady Hamilton,' a number of letters to and from other persons-Lord Bristol, Mr. Alexander Davison, Sir William Hamilton, Lord St. Vincent, &c. &c. But these various letters are any thing but elucidatory of his Lordship’s-they afford nothing like elucidation;

[ocr errors]


they are the mere sweepings of the closet, the refuse of her bureau, which Lady Hamilton had huddled together, to swell out into two volumes a publication which never should have been made at all: and this is done in the most obvious and undisguised spirit of book-making-for, the name of Nelson being the great bait of the trap, his lordship's letters are placed not consecutively, in which case they would have occupied about the first volume, but they are divided and placed at the beginning of each volume, while the latter part of both is given up to the supplementary matter-this editorial art will be set in its fairest light by stating that the first volume contains 273 pages, of which only 168 are his lordship’s letters, and the rest is supplement, and of the 264 pages, of the second volume 102 are Lord Nelson's, and 162 supplement.

After what we have said it will not be expected that we should make many extracts; but a few that we trust will be found innocent of immorality or ill manners, we shall give.

There are one or two specimens in these letters of that extraordinary and magnanimous self-confidence which distinguished Lord Nelson.

"The St. George will stamp an additional ray of glory to England's fame if Nelson survives; and that Almighty Providence, who has hitherto protected me in all dangers, and covered my head in the day of battle, will still, if it be his pleasure, support and assist me.'--pp. 32, 33.

• You ask me, my dear friend, if I am going on more expeditions ? And, even if I was to forfeit your friendship, which is dearer to me than all the world, I can tell you nothing.

For I go out-[if] I see the enemy, and can get at them, it is my duty: and you would naturally hate me if I kept back one moment.

• I long to pay them, for their tricks t'other day, the debt of a drubbing, which surely, I'll pay: but when, where, or how, it is impossible, your own good sense must tell you, for me or mortal man to say '-pp. 51, 52.

Our readers will perhaps be surprized to find Lord Nelson a poet : the following verses are curious, as being his ; but they are at once irregular and tame, except the third stanza, which possesses something of strength and character.

• I send you a few lines, wrote in the late gale; which, I think, you will not disapprove.

Though - -'s polish'd verse superior shine,
Though sensibility grace every line ;
Though her soft muse be far above all praise,
And female tenderness inspire her lays:


[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Deign to receive, though unadorn'd

By the poetic art,
The rude expressions which bespeak

A sailor's untaught heart!
A heart susceptible, sincere, and true;
A heart, by fate, and nature, torn in two:
One half, to duty and his country due ;
The other, better half, to love and you!

Sooner shall Britain's sons resign

The empire of the sea ;
Than Henry shall renounce his faith,

And waves on waves shall cease to roll,

And tides forget to flow;
Ere thy true Henry's constant love,

Or ebb, or change, shall know.'-pp. 29, 30.
In one or two passages there is something of more ease and
pleasantry than his style usually affords.

To tell you how dreary and uncomfortable the Vanguard appears is only telling you what it is to go from the pleasantest society to a solitary cell; or from the dearest friends to no friends. I am now perfectly the great man—not a creature near me. From my heart I wish myself the little man again!-pp. 9, 10.

* The Countess Montmorris, Lady this, that, and t’other, came alongside, a Mr. Lubbock with them-to desire they might come in. I sent word, I was so busy that no persons could be admitted, as my time was employed in the King's service. Then they sent their names, which I cared not for: and sent Captain Gore to say it was impossible ; and that if they wanted to see a ship they had better go to the Overyssel (a sixty-four in the Downs). They said no; they wanted to see me. However, I was stout, and will not be shewn about like a beast ! and a way they went.'--pp. 55, 56.

• Pray, as you are going to buy a ticket for the Pigot diamond—buy the right number, or it will be money thrown away.'--p. 38.

In a letter begun the 18th of October, 1803, and ended on the 22d, is the following passage :

"I shall endeavour to do what is right in every situation; and some ball may soon close all my accounts with this world of care and vexation !-p. 164.

This sentence may have been written on the 21st of October, 1803, on board the Victory; and on board the Victory, on the 21st of October, 1905, a ball terminated the life of this great and (but for one frailty which the present book endeavours to keep alive beyond the grave) we should add good man.

of the letters written by other persons we have not much to say; they are all better than Lord Nelson's; they have not, even


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »