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( The Hinchinbroke was, in the spring of 1780, employed on an expedition to the Spanish main, where it was proposed to pass into the South Sea, by a navigation of boats along the river San Juan, and the lakes Nicaragua and Leon. The plan was formed without a sufficient knowledge of the country, which presented difficulties not to be surmounted by human skill or perseverance. It was dangerous to proceed on the river, from the rapidity of the current, and the numerous falls over rocks which intercepted the navigation; the climate, too, was deadly, and no constitution could resist its effects. At San Juan I joined the Hinchinbroke, and succeeded Lord Nelson, who was promoted to a larger ship; but he had received the infection of the climate before he went from the port, and had a fever, from which he could not recover until he quitted his ship and went to England. My constitution resisted many attacks, and I survived most of my ship's company, having buried, in four months, 180 of the 200 who composed it. Mine was not a singular case, for every ship that was long there suffered in the same degree. The transports' men all died; and some of the ships, having none left to take care of them, sunk in the harbour; but transport-ships were not wanted, for the troops whom they had brought were no more: they had fallen, not by the hand of an enemy, but from the contagion of the climate.'-pp. 6-7.
After the peace of 1783 Nelson and he again met and served together in the West Indies, which Collingwood left in 1786, and went into his native county, Northumberland. But in 1790, on the Spanish armament, he was appointed to the Mermaid, and again went to the West Indies; returned to the north when the affair had blown over, and was married to Miss Sarah Blackett ; by whom he had two daughters, one born in 1792, and the other in 1793. On the breaking out of the French war, in the latter of these years, he was appointed captain of the Prince, then bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral Bowyer, with whom he served until the admiral lost his leg in the action of the 1st of June, in the Barfleur.
In this action, as well as in the partial one of the 29th May, the conduct of the Barfleur was most conspicuous; and the rearadmiral was mentioned by Lord Howe with well-merited praise, while her captain was passed over without notice. This act of capricious partiality and flagrant injustice was received with surprise and disgust in the fleet. The rear-admiral, shortly after the battle, thus speaks of him:
'I do not know a more brave, capable, or a better officer, in all respects, than Captain Collingwood. I think him a very fine character; and I told Lord Chatham, when he was at Portsmouth, that if ever he had to look for a first captain to a commander-in-chief, I hoped he would remember that I pledged myself he would not find a better than our friend Collingwood.' Captain Packenham, of the Invincible, which was as close to the
VOL. XXXVII. NO. LXXIV
Barfleur, the whole action, as if,' says Collingwood, she had been lashed to us,' used to say, if Collingwood has not deserved a medal, neither have I; for we were together the whole day.'
This ill-usage, however, was far from making him think of retiring on the contrary, we find him writing thus: what should I suffer if, in this convulsion of nations, this general call of Englishmen to the standard of their country, I should be without occupation ?-a miserable creature! While it is England, let me keep my place in the front of the battle.' He was appointed to the Excellent, and sent to the Mediterranean; where he was fortunate enough again to meet with his old friend Nelson, in the command of the Captain, blockading Leghorn; both, however, soon appear to have been heartily sick of the wearisome, tantalizing, inglorious task of watching the French shut up in this and the other harbours of the Mediterranean. The only port left to us at this time was in Corsica, of which island we had taken possession, and of the inhabitants of which Lord Collingwood gives us the following lamentable picture.
'The least offence offered to one of the inhabitants is resented by a stab, or a shot from behind a wall. Yesterday one of them stabbed another in the public square, and walked away, wiping his dagger, while no one attempted to stop him, or seemed to think it a violent measure, concluding, I suppose, that he had a good reason for what he did. Some bad carpenters were discharged from the yard on Saturday, because they were not wanted, and on Sunday morning they took a shot at Commissioner Coffin, as he walked in his garden, but missed him.'-p. 23.
• Corsica produces nothing but wild hogs, and we have made them dear. If we are obliged to abandon it, none will lament the loss except those who have good appointments there. It is maintained at an immense expense, and it is ridiculous that it should be; for I think neither the people nor the country capable of being improved, nor does all the money that is lavished there give us any influence. Paoli in England could stir the whole country to revolt and rebellion, by expressing his wish that it should be so on a quarter of a sheet of paper. He was bred in the Jesuits' College, at Naples, and is an artful man, whose whole life has been a continued scene of intrigue: he does not profess arms, and I heard at Ajaccio, from some Corsicans, that he was never in a field of battle. So much for my politics.'-p. 26. Miserable Corsica produces nothing but rebels and officers: viceroys, secretaries of state, and governors, we have in plenty, and the military establishment, till lately, was excessive, even to a farce. In return for all this, we get wood and water. The favourable reports which have been made of this island are shameful falsehoods, and show how blind people are to the truth, when it interferes with their interests, or checks their vanity.'-p. 27.
But brighter days, more congenial with the feelings of the two gallant friends, succeeded to the dull and harassing system of blockade. Both had the good fortune to share in the battle of the 14th February, 1797, off Cape St. Vincent; in which Nelson performed feats of valour, and Collingwood was acknowledged, by Lord St. Vincent, to have contributed very much to the fortune of the day,' particularly by relieving his old friend's ship, the Captain, when engaged with two of the enemy's ships at a time. In a letter to his wife, Captain Collingwood thus describes this partial but glorious action.
We flew to them as a hawk to his prey, passed through them in the disordered state in which they were, separated them into two distinct parts, and then tacked upon their largest division. The Culloden, and Captain, Commodore Nelson's ship, were the first that brought them to close action. I by chance became the admiral's leader, (for the circumstances were such as would admit of no regular order,) and had the good fortune to get very early into action. The first ship we engaged was the San Salvador del Mundo, of 112 guns, a first rate; we were not farther from her when we began than the length of our garden. Her colours soon came down, and her fire ceased. I hailed, and asked if they surrendered; and when by signs made by a man who stood by the colours, I understood that they had, I left her to be taken possession of by somebody behind, and made sail for the next, but was very much surprised on looking back to find her colours up again, and her battle recommenced. We very soon came up with the next, the San Isidro, 74, so close alongside, that a man might jump from one ship to the other. Our fire carried all before it; and in ten minutes she hauled down her colours; but I had been deceived once, and obliged this fellow to hoist English colours before I left him, and made a signal for somebody behind to board him, when the admiral ordered the Lively frigate to take charge of him. Then making all sail, passing between our line and the enemy, we came up with the San Nicholas, of 80 guns, which happened at the time to be abreast of the San Joseph, of 112 guns; we did not touch sides, but you could not put a bodkin between us, so that our shot passed through both ships, and, in attempting to extricate themselves, they got on board each other. My good friend, the commodore, had been long engaged with those ships, and I came happily to his relief, for he was dreadfully mauled. Having engaged them until their fire ceased on me, though their colours were not down, I went on to the Santissima Trinidada, the Spanish Admiral Cordova's ship, of 132 guns, on four complete decks-such a ship as I never saw before. By this time, our masts, sails, and rigging, were so much shot, that we could not get so near her as I would have been; but near enough to receive much injury from her, both in my men and ship. We were engaged an hour with this ship, and trimmed her well; she was a complete wreck. Several others of our ships came up, and engaged
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her at the same time; but evening approaching, and the fresh Spaniards coming down upon us, the admiral made the signal to withdraw, carrying off the four ships that had surrendered to our fleet.'pp. 30, 31.
And in one addressed to his father-in-law, he says,
Take it altogether, it is, perhaps, the most brilliant action upon record; and I cannot help feeling an almost spiteful satisfaction that Lord Howe is outdone. His 1st of June (grand as it was) bears no proportion, in any respect, to this. There, the number of ships was nearly equal; here, the enemy were nearly double-28 guns more would have made them double our force: there, they had only two 3-deckers, and we had eight or nine; here, the enemy had six 3-deckers, and one (the Santissima Trinidada) of 4 decks, while we had only two first-rates, and four 90-gun ships, and of our fifteen ships, one was a little 64, the Diadem. I am sure you will admire the fortitude and magnanimity of Sir John Jervis, in determining to attack so superior a force; but should we not be grateful to him who had such confidence in his fleet, that he thought no force too great for them? Though the different ships were very differently circumstanced, and bore unequal shares in the action, all have the merit of having done their utmost. After I had driven the San Nicholas on board the Josef, and left them, on their fire ceasing, to be taken possession of by somebody behind, they fell on board my good friend the commodore; and as they had not surrendered, he, in his own active person, at the head of his ship's company, boarded them, and drove the Spaniards from deck to deck at the point of their swords. They at last both surrendered; and the commodore, on the quarter-deck of a Spanish first-rate, San Josef, received the submission and the swords of the officers of the two ships, while one of his sailors bundled them up with as much composure as he would have made a faggot, though twenty-two sail of their line were still within gun-shot.'-p. 32.
Nor was Nelson backward in acknowledging the services and gallant conduct of his friend on this occasion. In a letter to the Duke of Clarence, he says,
'The Salvador del Mundo and San Isidro dropped astern, and were fired into in a masterly style by the Excellent, who compelled the San Isidro to hoist English colours, and I thought the large ship Salvador del Mundo had also struck; but Captain Collingwood, disdaining the parade of taking possession of beaten enemies, most gallantly pushed up, with every sail set, to save his old friend and messmate, who was to all appearance in a critical situation, the Captain being actually fired upon by three first-rates and the San Nicholas, the seventy-four within about pistol-shot distance. The Blenheim being a-head of the San Nicholas, and the Culloden crippled and astern, the Excellent ranged up, and hauling up her mainsail just astern, passed withi ten feet of the San Nicholas, giving her a most awful and tremendous fire. The San Nicholas luffing up, the San
Josef fell aboard of her, and the Excellent passed on to the Santissima Trinidada.'-- pp. 34, 35.
To himself Nelson writes thus: My dearest friend, "A friend in need is a friend indeed," was never more truly verified than by your most noble and gallant conduct yesterday, in sparing the Captain from further loss; and I beg, both as a public officer and a friend, you will accept my most sincere thanks.' Indeed, the conduct of the Excellent was the theme of praise from all quarters, which her commander appears to have received with feelings of gratitude, and with that becoming modesty which through all his career formed a marked feature in his character. When Lord St. Vincent informed him that he was to receive one of the medals distributed on this occasion, he told the admiral, with great feeling and firmness, that he could not consent to receive a medal while that for the 1st of June was withheld. feel,' said he, that I was then improperly passed over, and to receive such a distinction now, would be to acknowledge the propriety of that injustice.' That is precisely the answer I expected from you, Captain Collingwood,' was Lord St. Vincent's reply. Soon after this, the two medals were transmitted, at the same time, by Lord Spencer, with a civil apology for some delay in transmitting that for the 1st of June.
Towards the end of 1797, we find Captain Collingwood blockading Cadiz, by the strictness of which the Spanish trade was totally ruined; but our active and offensive operations,' he observes, have not been so successful.' Nelson had been detached with three ships, to make an attack on the island of Teneriffe. Of this unfortunate expedition, Collingwood gives the following account:
My friend Nelson, whose spirit is equal to all undertakings, and whose resources are fitted to all occasions, was sent with three sail of the line and some other ships to Teneriffe, to surprise and capture it. After a series of adventures, tragic and comic, that belong to romance, they were obliged to abandon their enterprise. Nelson was shot in the right arm when landing, and was obliged to be carried on board. He himself hailed the ship, and desired the surgeon would get his instruments ready to disarm him; and in half an hour after it was off he gave all the orders necessary for carrying on their operations, as if nothing had happened to him. In three weeks after, when he joined us, he went on board the admiral, and I think, exerted himself to a degree of great imprudence. Captain Bowen was killed, and his first Lieutenant, Thorpe, for whom I was very sorry: he was a fine young man, and promised to be an excellent officer. Captain Troubridge, who commanded on shore, after many adventures in the night, was obliged to retire to a convent, where he collected the remains of his forces, without ammunition, except what they took from