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MEMOIRS 



OF 



ADMIRAL SIR SIDNEY SMITH, 

K. C. B., &c. 



BY 

THE AUTHOR OF " RATTLIN THE REEFER," &c. 



IN T\VO VOLUMES, 
VOL, I. 



LONDON : 

RICHARD BENTLEY, NEW BURLINGTON STREET. 

in rtmtarg to p?er 
1839. 



LONDON: 

1BOTKON AM> PALMER, PRINTERS, SAVOY RTREKT, STRAND. 



CONTENTS 



OF 



THE FIRST VOLUME. 



CHAPTER I. 

Introductory Remarks The chivalric character of Sir Sid- 
ney Smith briefly noticed A succinct account of his 
family An anecdote indicative of his future charac- 
ter . . . . . Page 1 

CHAPTER II. 

Sir Sidney's first entrance into the Navy Some reflections 
on the early appointments of that period- His various 
juvenile services until he was made Post Captain . 16 

CHAPTER III. 

Sir Sidney enters the Swedish service The Battle of the 
Galleys The Battle ofthe 9th and 10th of June Anec- 
dote of Captain Dennison Some reflections on British 
officers serving foreign powers . . .24 



IV CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER IV. 

Enters the Turkish service Fits out a man-of-war at bis 
own risk Gets a reinforcement of seamen at Smyrna 
Joins Lord Hood at Toulon Some account of the transac- 
tions at that place . . . .41 

CHAPTER V. 

Some account of* the situation of the British and allied forces 
holding Toulon The attacks of the French Misconduct 
of the Allies General O'Hara made prisoner Bonaparte's 
account of the transaction It is resolved to evacuate 
Toulon . . . . . .52 

CHAPTER VI. 

Sir Sidney Smith proceeds on his perilous service Fires the 
arsenals The misconduct, or the treachery, of the 
Spaniards Explosion of the powder-ships He re-em- 
barks safely His despatch . . . .61 

CHAPTER VII. 

Appointed to the Diamond His services on the Channel 
station Attacks two French ships under La Hogue De- 
stroys a French corvette Attacks a French squadron 
which had taken shelter in the Port of Herqui . 82 

CHAPTER VIII. 

Sir Sidney Smith's personal appearance at this time Cuts 
out a French lugger near Havre Is drifted with his 
prize up the Seine With his party is captured Specu- 
lations of the French upon his conduct . .100 



CONTENTS. V 

CHAPTER IX. 

Sir Sidney Smith badly treated as a prisoner of war Re- 
moved to Paris, to the prison called the Abbaye Placed 
under unwarrantable restrictions Opens a communication 
with some ladies to aid his escape . 108 

CHAPTER X. 

Another attempt to escape made by boring The general 
disaffection to the Directorial Government of France 
The failure of the attempt to escape The urbanity of the 
jailer of the Temple Anecdotes concerning him . 118 

CHAPTER XL 

The renewed rigour of Sir Sidney's confinement M. T.'s 
exchange effected The successful plan of escape devised 
Is put in execution Sir Sidney proceeds to Rouen 
Arrives safely in London His reception by his sovereign 
and his countrymen .... 125 

CHAPTER XII. 

Sir Sidney appointed to the command of the Tigre Made 
joint Plenipotentiary to the Turkish Court Arrives at 
Constantinople His appointment gives umbrage to Earl 
St. Vincent . ... 139 

CHAPTER XIII. 

Preparations for the defence of Acre Mention of Captain 
Wright Anecdote of the King of Sweden's diamond 
ring The French move towards Acre Lose their bat- 
tering-train . . . .153 



VI CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XIV. 

The French make great progress in their approaches The 
Turks are defeated in a sortie Anecdote of Junot and 
Kleber The French gain the outer tower of Acre Sir 
Sidney Smith's despatch to Lord Nelson . ,.169 

CHAPTER XV. 

Sir Sidney's second despatch Describes the progress and 
the termination of the siege The French retreat in dis- 
order The conduct of Bonaparte Testimonials at home 
to the distinguished services of Sir Sidney Smith . 187 

CHAPTER XVI. 

Bonaparte's assumption of Mahometanism His victory over 
the Turks His flight from Egypt Successes of the 
English and their Allies Kleber's proposition to evacuate 
Egypt The Convention of El- Arisch . .211 

CHAPTER XVII. 

The conduct of Sir Sidney Smith considered respecting his 
concurrence with the convention of El- Arisch Parliamen- 
tary proceedings upon it Short speech of his late Ma- 
jesty William IV. . . . .261 

CHAPTER XVIII. 

Sir Sidney Smith's personal appearance at this time His 
humanity to his crews The English government sends 
reinforcements to Egypt The state of the country 
English land at Aboukir Bay Battle of Alexandria- 
Death of Sir Ralph Abercromby . . .277 



CONTENTS. VH 

CHAPTER XIX. 

Cursory sketch of the termination of the Egyptian cam- 
paign Sir Sidney feted by the Capitan Pasha Anecdote 
of another similar honour Bonaparte's impiety Sir Sid- 
ney returns to England with despatches Civic ho- 
nours ...... 298 

CHAPTER XX. 

Sir Sidney Smith returned member of parliament for Ro- 
chester His speech in the House of Commons, and at 
the anniversary of the Naval Institution His appointment 
in the Antelope to the command of a squadron His ser- 
vices in that command . . . 308 

CHAPTER XXI. 

The Court of Naples violates its treaty of neutrality with the 
French Naples overrun by them Sir Sidney Smith pro- 
ceeds to annoy them Relieves Gaeta Takes Capri His 
despatch ...... 827 

CHAPTER XXII. 

Further operations for the recovery of Naples Their inu- 
tility Sir Sidney Smith receives the acknowledgments 
of their Sicilian Majesties Remarks on naval appoint- 
ments ...... 342 

CHAPTER XXIII. 

The Princess of Wales's vindication against the charges af- 
fecting her and Sir Sidney Smith . . . 366 



MEMOIRS, 



CHAPTER I. 

Introductory Remarks The chivalric character of Sir Sid- 
ney Smith briefly noticed A succinct account of his 
family An anecdote indicative of his future character. 

IT has always been the heaviest calamity attendant 
upon mankind, that war has supplied the world 
with its great men and its heroes. History has 
afforded us a record of ten conquerors, and men 
strong in battle, for one just and good man. 
Such is our natural depravity, that the same 
remark may be applied, up to the recorded ad- 
vent of our Saviour, to the Holy Scriptures them- 
selves. It is true that Christianity has pointed 
out to us other and better glories than those 

VOL. I. B 



2 MEMOIRS OF 

obtained by the waste of human blood, and the 
woe and wail of war. But this God-born revela- 
tion has been too often heard only to be scoffed 
at and disregarded. Still worse, it has many 
times been made the plea for slaughter and the 
defence of atrocities, in unlimited murder, the 
most revolting. Men have ever looked upon 
carnage as the royal road and the short cut to 
glory. 

This being the case, it necessarily follows that 
the pursuits of war will hold out the most tempta- 
tion to the ambitious and those conscious of much 
talent. The competition for military pre-emi- 
nence will always be great, and those who may 
be so fortunate as to obtain that pre-eminence 
must consequently be found to possess some great 
superiority over the rest of those who are striving 
in the same race, though this superiority seldom 
amounts to real greatness, even in the false 
worldly sense, in the true, philosophical, and 
Christian, scarcely ever. 

Let it not be thought that we undervalue the 
great natural talents and the high and extensive 
acquirements that are necessary to form the suc- 
cessful and accomplished commander. They 
certainly are of the broad, the open, and the pal- 
pable order. Though they are not veiled in the 
highest heaven of philosophic contemplation, or 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. O 

require to be brought from the deepest mines of 
thought and mental abstraction, yet must they be 
of that sound, sterling, and well- working nature 
that a strong mind alone can master a clear one 
employ them. We detest war yet, with the 
general feeling, we admire the warrior. 

We have commenced with this somewhat de- 
precatory introduction, lest hereafter, being car- 
ried away by our admiration of the military 
character of the subject of these Memoirs, we 
should be thought, in our enthusiasm, to wish to 
place him in a rank too elevated among those 
who have achieved for themselves the title of 
" Great." All our panegyric must be listened to 
with a reference to classes of greatness far beyond 
the reach of the mere warrior. 

And, beyond the laurels of the mere warrior, 
Sir Sidney Smith has won for himself a meed of 
which no vast desolator or wholesale conqueror 
can boast. With the prominent heroes, of what- 
ever time, ancient or modern, a well-regulated 
mind hardly can be brought to sympathise. We 
admire and shudder. We look upon them as 
sublime calamities. These fiery scourges in the 
hands of Providence seem to be so far above or 
beyond our human affinities, that we can barely 
entertain with them one feeling in unison. Were 
they, or any one of them, living, and within 

B 2 



4 MEMOIRS OF 

the reach of our every-day communion, were it 
not for the impulse of vanity, we should never 
think of offering them our friendship, exposing 
to them our amiable weaknesses, or of seeking 
from them an interchange of familiar thoughts. 
Of their countenance we might be proud, and 
their approbation we might covet, but of their 
affection we should never dream. 

With this class, neither in the multitude of his 
victories, nor in vastness of any one conquest, 
can Sir Sidney Smith be associated. But a 
higher degree of praise, a more lofty because a 
better honour, is due to him. In his person, 
though he has not revived the age of chivalry, 
he has shown what is the real splendour of the 
chivalric character. All his public actions seem 
to have been less the offspring of mere military 
calculation and naval science, than of the intui- 
tion of the most romantic courage and the high- 
est moral feeling, always controlled by a pru- 
dence and intrepidity that no danger, however 
sudden, could surprise, and no difficulty, however 
menacing, vanquish. That such is the principal 
feature of his character the following pages will 
fully exemplify. 

The prepossession in favour of good blood 
should not be regarded as a prejudice. We 
should not deny to the human what is conceded 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 5 

to the other animal races. This is less a moral 
than a mere physical question, though the results 
are most conspicuously and hest shown in moral 
action. Revelation teaches us, and we devoutly 
conform to the lesson, that, in the eye of the 
Omnipotent, all men are equal. This is in a 
religious sense. But we know that, in a worldly 
view, not only are all men the one differing from 
the other, but the races of men show a distinction 
still more marked. William Sidney Smith pos- 
sesses the advantage of good blood in a very high 
degree. 

Sir Sidney Smith is a collateral and no very 
remote relative to the late Lord Chief Baron Sir 
Sidney Stafford Smithe, and of the SMYTHE Lord 
Viscount Strangford. These are descendants from 
Customer Smith, who flourished in the reign of 
Queen Elizabeth. Consequently, the ancient and 
genuine orthography of the name is Smythe ; 
but as the subject of this biography has always 
in his official documents spelt his name SMITH, 
and as in that spelling the augmentation to his 
family arms has been granted, to it we shall con- 
sequently adhere. Unfortunately, we have no 
means of ascertaining for what reason or at what 
time this orthography was changed. It is of but 
small moment in itself, though, to the antiqua- 
rian and the genealogist, it may appear of para- 
mount importance. 



6 MEMOIRS OF 

That the change is of some antiquity, is evident 
by the following inscription upon a large grave- 
stone among the pavement in the nave of the 
church of New Shoreham. It is an epitaph to 
the memory of Sir Sidney's grandfather, and 
runs thus : 

Here lieth 

The Body of CORNELIUS SMITH, 

Who served his King, Country, and Friend. 

Faithful and honourable, he was an indulgent Husband, 

A kind Father, and friendly to his Acquaintance : 

Who died, much lamented, the 28th of October, 1727, 

Aged 66 Years." 

This Cornelius Smith was the father of Cap- 
tain Edward Smith, of the Burford, who was 
mortally wounded at the attack of La Guira, Feb. 
19th, 1743, and grandfather of General Edward 
Smith, colonel of the 43rd Regiment, and 
governor of Fort Charles, Jamaica. This gen- 
tleman served with the hero Wolfe at the reduc- 
tion of Quebec, and died at Bath on the 19th of 
January 1809. . 

Sir Sidney Smith is a nephew of this General 
Smith, and a son of this general's younger bro- 
ther. Sir Sidney's father served in the early 
part of the war of 1756, as aide-de-camp to the 
Right Honourable Lord George Sackville, and 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 



afterwards held an office in the royal household. 
Sir Sidney's mother was a Miss Mary Wilkinson, 
daughter of Pinkney Wilkinson, Esq., a very 
opulent merchant. 

From the riches of his maternal grandfather 
Sir Sidney Smith derived but little benefit, as 
his father having married in opposition to the 
wishes of Mr. Wilkinson, and for other reasons 
that will be afterwards alluded to, the vast pro- 
perty left by that gentleman was devised to his 
other daughter, Lady Camelford. 

There seem to have been great causes of 
mutual dissatisfaction between Sir Sidney's father 
and maternal grandfather, as, the former having 
withdrawn his sons from the protection of the 
latter, the old gentleman, some little time previ- 
ous to his death, cancelled a codicil to his will, by 
which, notwithstanding the little harmony that 
subsisted between him and his son-in-law, he had 
made some provision for his grandchildren. 

By this daughter of Mr. Wilkinson the father 
of Sir William Sidney Smith had three sons and 
no daughter whatever. The eldest of these sons, 
now Colonel Charles Douglas Smith, is still 
living, enjoying his well-earned honours and 
great affluence, acquired by long and meritorious 
services in the East Indies. Colonel Smith first 
entered the army in a regiment raised by Lord 



8 MEMOIRS OF 

Suffield. This gentleman has a son in the Ex- 
chequer Office. 

The second son, William Sidney Smith, who 
was born in Park Lane, Westminster, we be- 
lieve towards the close of the year 1764, is the 
subject of these Memoirs. 

John Spencer Smith, the third and youngest 
son, procured the appointment of page to Queen 
Charlotte, and so well recommended himself in 
that capacity, and so highly were his general 
talents appreciated, that he was sent on a mission 
of great importance to the court of Wurtemberg. 
He afterwards travelled to Constantinople, and 
it is confidently believed that he there con- 
verted to Christianit}^ and subsequently married, 
a Turkish lady of high rank and of great wealth. 
As will be seen in the course of these pages, he 
was ultimately of the greatest service to Sir 
Sidney Smith in all his operations in Egypt, 
and as our minister at the Ottoman court pre- 
served and increased the good understanding 
that then subsisted between a government so fas- 
tidious and inconstant and ourselves. He is now 
in the enjoyment of a well-earned pension. 

We have already briefly adverted to the loss 
to William Sidney and his brothers of their fair 
proportion of the grandfather's vast fortune. 
That this loss has been to them a blessing rather 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 9 

than an injury, the success in life of them all, 
and the splendid career of one of them, most 
fully prove. It appears to us that Sir Sidney's 
father was treated rather harshly throughout the 
course of these unhappy disagreements. It is a 
most invidious task to attach anything approach- 
ing to censure on any of the progenitors of this 
distinguished family. We will hastily pass over 
these occurrences, as they do not appear to have 
greatly influenced the fortunes of Sir Sidney 
Smith. Let it be sufficient to mention, that the 
angry grandfather, owing to some representations 
made to him by his daughter, removed his three 
sons from under the care and fostering protection 
of the father, when they were receiving the first 
rudiments of their education under the celebrated 
Mr. Knox of Tunbridge, and caused them to 
be placed at a boarding-school in Bath, kept 
by a Mr. Morgan. That Mr. Wilkinson pos- 
sessed the power thus cruelly to divide the 
sons from their father, arose out of the circum- 
stances of his being able to withhold from his 
son-in-law a very great proportion of his not too 
abundant income. That he could do this neither 
justly nor legally, a verdict of an English jury 
subsequently determined : that he did it with 
impunity, for some years, is certain. 

When William Sidriev Smith was between the 



10 MEMOIRS OF 

age of eleven and twelve, Captain Smith, no 
longer able to bear this unnatural separation, and 
his yearning to have them under his own care 
and protection, took away, clandestinely we 
believe, his three sons from the school at which 
they had been placed, to his house at Midgham. 
This commendable and parental act was visited 
upon him by an attempt to straiten him in his 
pecuniary resources. The indignant father ap- 
pealed to the laws of his country, and his con- 
duct was vindicated by obtaining the costs, and 
heavy damages against his persecutors. 

We do not lay much stress upon the opinion 
that the future man may be indicated by the 
predilections of the infant ; indeed, experience, 
would rather teach us another doctrine ; but 
as many very sensible persons like to reduce 
everything to a system, we will, for their satis- 
faction, and for the amusement of others, relate 
a puerile anecdote that strongly displayed young 
Smith's predilection for aquatic exploits ; indeed, 
that at that unjudging age he loved them better 
than praying a very singular depravity, but 
which, we trust, will be forgiven to him in con- 
sideration of his extreme youth. 

When William Sidney's father had abducted 
(for it was in reality an abduction) his children 
from their boarding-school at Bath, he removed 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 11 

with them to his seat at Midgham in Berkshire. 
The mansion had been built by Captain Smith's 
father, and the extensive grounds surrounding it 
were laid out with great taste. Among the other 
accessories to the beauty of the place was a large 
piece of deep water, which immediately attracted 
the almost undivided attention of the embryo 
admiral almost, we say, for even then he showed 
symptoms of that refined and graceful gallantry 
to the softer sex that has always marked his 
character. In fact, he divided his attention with 
a tolerable impartiality between a young lady of 
his own age, (eleven years,) this piece of water, 
and a large washing-tub. 

It was the custom of Captain Smith to sum- 
mon all his household to prayer every evening, 
and they were called together, in a kind of patri- 
archal fashion, by the sounding of a horn. One 
summer's evening the horn was blown the usual 
number of times ; but to the customary blast no 
William Sidney appeared. The father grew 
alarmed, and, as his fears arose, so did the echoes 
of the horn upon the evening breeze. The 
young absentee heard the holy summons plainly 
enough, but he did not obey it, solely because he 
could not. 

His non-appearance had caused great alarm, 
and the evening devotions were postponed in 



12 MEMOIRS OF 

order that the household might search for the 
lost and beloved son. He was at length found 
in a situation extremely nautical, but agreeable 
only to himself. He had embarked in the large 
washing-tub his youthful protegee, and taking a 
long pole, he had contrived, bydts means, to place 
his circular ship, with himself and passenger, in 
the very centre of the large and deep water. 
We know very well, upon the best authority, 
which is that of the nursery, that, when seven 
wise men went to sea in a bowl, they made 
a very foolish expedition of it ; we must not, 
therefore, greatly blame young Smith when we 
relate that by some inadvertence, probably a 
slight attention to the young lady, the companion 
of his dangers, he lost his pole. 

Unfortunately, just as his alarmed father ar- 
rived, it fell calm, and the only motion the tub 
had was that unpleasant one of the pillory, going 
slowly round and round. There stood the future 
hero of many fights, with his arms folded in a 
manner that reminds one now of the prints of 
Napoleon on the Island of St. Helena. 

Those on shore were totally at a loss how 
safely to bring the frail vessel with its precious 
charge on shore, for a very little shifting or tot- 
tering would have overturned it. None of the 
spectators could swim, and night was drawing on 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 13 

apace, when, to add to the dismal nature of the 
scene, William Sidney's companion began to 
wail most bitterly. Indeed, the situation of the 
children became critical, if not dangerous. It 
fell, however, to the lot of him who had created, 
to unravel the difficulty. Having sufficiently 
'enjoyed the glory of his situation, (he was 
always a little fond of display,) he hailed those 
on shore, and told them to fasten the string of 
his kite to a favourite dog that belonged to him. 
This being done, he called him to the tub, and 
thus conveyed a towing line on board the first 
craft that he had the honour of commanding. 

When the tub was brought to the bank of the 
lake, so nicely fitted was the cargo to the tonnage 
of the tub, that the children were nearly drowned, 
because the one was attempted to be taken out a 
little before the other. The father and one of 
the servants at length snatched them both out 
simultaneously, and flung them on the grass. 
Captain Smith was so much affected that he 
could not, at fir.-.t, speak. 

" Now, father, we will go to prayers," said the 
young desperado. 

" We had better," he replied, with feelings 
that a father only can appreciate. 

Though this anecdote may be, by some, deemed 
puerile, we think that it strongly marks the 



14 MEMOIRS OF 

two principal traits of character that Sir Sidney 
displayed through the whole course of his life a 
recklessness in running into danger, and great 
resources of mind in getting out of it with 
credit. 

It was at Midgham that William Sidney formed 
some of his most useful and distinguished friend- 
ships ; among others, the Duke of St. Albans, the 
Lords Rivers and Delaware, and Lord Rodney, 
who was a constant visiter, and with whom he 
first went to sea. 

William Sidney Smith did not long remain un- 
der the paternal roof, and, during the small time 
that he enjoyed that advantage and happiness, he 
was deprived of the soothing attention of one who, 
on account of those differences so much to be 
deplored, with her family, was unfortunately living 
separate from her husband. She did not survive to 
witness the renown of her sprightly and favourite 
son, as she passed into a happier state of exist- 
ence before he returned from his second trip to 
sea. She died and was interred at Bath. 

Those who knew well Sir Sidney Smith in his 
boyhood, describe him as then being a most 
vivacious specimen of juvenility quick, daring, 
and mercurial, and not far removed from a little 
Pickle. In his person, though of small size, he 
was eminently handsome, with clustering and 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 15 

curling black hair, dark clear complexion, and 
with a high colour. At the earliest age he 
evinced an utter contempt of danger, and a deci- 
sion of character, that, under proper training, 
warranted the most sanguine hopes of future 
excellence. Among his other qualities, an apti- 
tude for invention, and a power of adaptation of 
his then limited capabilities, both in the prosecu- 
tion of his studies and amusements, early dis- 
played themselves. He was a boy for whom you 
might fear a little, whom you could not help 
loving much, arid whom you must admire en- 
tirely. 



16 MEMOIRS OF 



CHAPTER II. 

Sir Sidney's first entrance into the Navy Some reflections 
on the early appointments of that period His various 
juvenile services until he was made Post Captain. 

WE have now to introduce our young subject 
upon that arena that was afterwards to prove the 
scene of exploits that elevated the already-exalted 
naval fame of his country to a still loftier glory, 
and where he entwined the military with the 
naval laurel in the triumphal crown that he threw 
at the feet of England's Genius of Victory. 

Long before his little feet had mimicked the 
officer-stride on the deck of a man-of-war, he 
had, in his infant imagination, commanded, 
fought, and conquered. His thoughts, his dreams, 
his short moments of seriousness, and his long 
hours of playfulness, were all devoted to fighting 
the French. He seemed to have been born with, 
and nurtured in, an antipathy to that nation, 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 17 

with which fate had ordained that he should pass 
the greatest portion of his life, either as their 
battling enemy, their impatient prisoner, or their 
welcome guest. He appears, in his earliest 
youth, to have been a merry and graceful parody 
of one of the young Hannibals. The French 
the French he would annihilate them ! His 
puerile antipathies ripened into a very disastrous 
though gallant and no longer prejudiced opposi- 
tion to that nation, which he commenced by hat- 
ing, and finished by beating and respecting. 

His father being gentleman usher to Queen 
Charlotte, and enjoying much of her personal 
favour, the reader must not be surprised, consi- 
dering how naval matters were managed at that 
period, to learn that little Smith strutted a mid- 
shipman on board of the Sandwich, under Lord 
Rodney, before he was twelve years of age. 

It would be a difficult matter successfully to 
defend appointments of this description by argu- 
ment or rather, that which we might produce 
as arguments, would no longer be considered as 
such in these march-of-mind-boasted days. All 
that we can do, is to imitate that shrewd person, 
who, when a very learned philosopher was stre- 
nuously arguing that there could not, by possi- 
bility, be any such thing as motion, merely got up 
and walked across the room. To those who con- 

VOL. i. c 



18 MEMOIRS OF 

demn these boyish appointments as contrary to 
justice and subversive of the service, we shall 
perhaps admit their reasonings to be unanswer- 
able without being in the least convincing, and 
content ourselves with mentioning the glory of, 
in this respect, the unreformed navy, and point- 
ing to such names as those of Duncan, Jervis, 
Nelson, and, last though not least among them, 
Sir Sidney Smith, who all entered the service 
about the same age. 

Improper, perhaps, as at heart we acknowledge 
these appointments to be, we must now introduce 
him, stiff in his uniforms, with his shrill treble 
pipe imitating the hoarse tones of command, and 
shaking off the schoolboy a little before he could 
gracefully creep into the seemliness and import- 
ance of the officer and the man. However, he 
showed an astonishing precocity in his metamor- 
phosis ; and, long before other lads had divested 
themselves of the fear and the tyranny of the 
ferula and the rod, he had already become 
respectable as a friend, and something to be 
dreaded as an enemy among men. 

From reports to which we can safely give 
credit, we find that he was universally beloved on 
board the Sandwich, and almost immediately 
drew upon himself the favourable notice of his 
superior officers. 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 19 

In the very subordinate capacity of a midship- 
man and he was a very young midshipman in 
his first ship it cannot be expected that he could 
perform any feat worthy of record. In this 
situation he had to learn the first and the most 
distasteful duty to obey. Comparatively speak- 
ing, his post was a private, and certainly an ob- 
scure one, and hardly any naval combination of 
circumstances, however stirring they might have 
been, could then have put him prominently for- 
ward. 

From the Sandwich he passed into the Grey- 
hound in the same rank, gaining thus experience 
in two very different classes of vessels. During 
the period of his service in this latter ship, no- 
thing occurred to him that demands a place in 
this biography. 

Immediately that he had served the time 
allotted by the rules of the navy, he obtained his 
commission as lieutenant on the 22nd of May, 
1781, and was, what is technically called, " made" 
into the Alcide 74, at that time commanded by 
Captain C. Thompson. 

In this last-mentioned line-of- battle ship he 
shared in the action of Admiral Graves off the 
Chesapeake ; and though no opportunity was 
offered to him in that affair eminently to distin- 
guish himself in the limited sphere in which he 

c 2 



20 MEMOIRS OF 

was compelled to act, he did that which English 
seamen have ever done his duty. 

Those conversant with the naval history of the 
country, must well remember the many inde- 
cisive skirmishes that took place between Lord 
Howe and the Count de Grasse, in the seas near 
the island of St. Christopher's, in the West 
Indies. At this period, the weather-gage was con- 
sidered almost as a gage of victory, and hostile 
fleets would consume days in endeavouring to 
gain it. The French count took advantage of this 
prejudice ; and when the English admiral bore 
down upon the French fleet, the line of the latter 
would discharge its raking broadside, bear up, and 
run to leeward, and again forming the line, have 
recourse to the same tactics. By means of 
this slippery manoeuvre, this particular action 
consisted of nothing but numerous and indecisive 
skirmishes. It gave Sir Sidney a lesson that he 
remembered in his after life, and it was one by 
which English commanders profited in succeeding 
encounters. 

It does not fall within the scope of our under- 
taking to record the victories of the naval chiefs 
under whom our officer had the good fortune to 
act in a subordinate capacity. We have merely 
to mention them to show that the extent of his 
services justified his very rapid promotion, not- 
withstanding his very early youth. 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 21 

He participated in the gallant Sir George B. 
Rodney's glorious victory of the 1st of April, 
1782, and, immediately subsequent to this splen- 
did event, he obtained his commission, bearing 
date 2nd of May, 1782, as commander, and was 
appointed to the Fury sloop of war, having served 
as a lieutenant less than one year. 

In the next year, 1783, he was made post 
captain, an exceedingly rapid, and a not strictly 
regular, promotion a rapidity of advancement 
that can only be accounted for by his father's 
interest at court, and justified by Sir Sidney's 
great merit. He was a post captain at the juve- 
nile age of nineteen, having served as a com- 
mander only one year and five days. 

With this promotion he obtained the command 
of the Alcmene, a small class frigate of twenty- 
eight guns ; and as a short and deceitful though 
a profound peace had appeared to have hushed 
up the angry feelings of the European powers, 
he returned to England, and on his arrival his 
ship was immediately paid off. 

Now, with the certainty of life, was the cer- 
tainty of the highest honours of his noble pro- 
fession assured to him. Without meaning the 
imbecility of a pun, before he had reached his 
majority as a civilian, as a naval officer he ranked 
with a full colonel in the army. The minor man 



22 MEMOIRS OF 

was a full post. He had passed, when in the eye 
of the law he was only considered as an infant, 
as a warrior entitled to the command of hundreds 
of men, those difficult, and too often impassable 
portals which open to that path, which requires 
only time to guide the fortunate traveller to the 
high station of admiral of the red. Truly may 
it be said of Sir Sidney, that he possessed, in an 
eminent degree, that (by the Romans) much 
venerated attribute in a commander, good luck ; 
and it was happy for his country, and glorious to 
our hero, that he possessed merits equal only to 
his brilliancy of accident. 

On his return to England he found his worthy 
parent residing at Carrington-street, May Fair; 
and though, as yet, he had not graven his name 
deeply on the tablets of fame, he had signalised 
himself sufficiently to make all connected with him 
proud to own him as an acquaintance, friend, or 
relation. His father, at this period, seemed to 
exist but for his favourite son ; every indulgence 
was his that he could bestow, and much more 
excellent advice was at his son's service than he 
chose to receive. It must be confessed that at 
this time he fell in with the gaieties of Lis station, 
and the opportunities that were offered him in 
the best metropolitan society, but in a manner 
neither vicious nor outrageous. With the excep- 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 23 

tion of some few passages of love, with which 
our biography has nothing to do, he might be 
pronounced at this period of his life a rather staid 
young man. 



24 MEMOIRS OF 



CHAPTER III. 



Sir Sidney enters the Swedish service The Battle of the 
Galleys The Battle of the 9th and 10th of June Anec- 
dote of Captain Dennison Some reflections on British 
officers serving foreign powers. 

WITH increasing ardour for a profession in 
which he had already given so great a promise 
of future excellence, and impatient of a life of in- 
activity, our officer, in 1788, upon a prospect of 
a rupture between Sweden and Russia, with a 
generous sympathy for the party which appeared 
to be the weaker, entered into the naval service 
of the former. 

His distinguished bravery and very superior 
naval science drew upon him the general atten- 
tion, and purchased for him the gratitude of the 
Swedish nation. It was a severe service in 
stormy regions, and an inclement climate. Cap- 
tain Smith had first to discipline before he fought 
his crews. In the several severe encounters 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 25 

which proved the more bloody and disastrous in 
wreck, on account of the ignorance of the belli- 
gerents, the fleets of the Empress Catherine had 
bitterly to deplore the assistance that was brought 
to their opponents in the person of our officer. 

The digression can hardly be thought to be 
unwarrantable, when it gives an abstract of some 
of the encounters between the naval armament of 
these rival northern powers. It was in those that 
Captain Sidney Smith saw some most severe 
service, and gained great knowledge and ex- 
perience in the desperate school of actual fight. 
We will select from among these transactions a 
short account of the battle of the Galleys, which 
may not be unacceptable to the admirers of our 
hero's character. 

Just as the stormy April of 1790 was terminat- 
ing, the grand fleet of Sweden for Sweden 
then had a grand fleet, and was a considerable 
naval power under the command of the Duke of 
Sudermania, consisting of twenty -three ships of 
the line and eighteen frigates, sailed from Carl- 
scrona, in the province of Smaland. 

This expedition was well planned. Its pre- 
tended object was that of preventing the junction 
of two divisions of the Russian fleet, one of which 
was then riding at anchor in the port of Revel, 
the other in the port of Cronstadt. The real 



26 MEMOIRS OF 

views, however, were much more extensive, being 
to attack in detail, by first capturing the port of 
Revel, and destroying the fleet there, when the 
other division, it was confidently believed, would 
fall an easy sacrifice. 

This design was bravely attempted, but it was 
not attended with that success that might have 
been hoped from the strength of the armament, 
the bravery of the seamen, and the skill and 
intrepidity of the native and foreign officers em- 
ployed. The result of the attack brought no 
tarnish to the glory of those who conducted it. 

In most maritime expeditions, and more 
especially those which are destined to act against 
fortresses and batteries on shore, the elements 
may prove the most potential allies, or the most 
formidable enemies. The truth of this was 
fully exemplified in this attack upon Revel and 
the Russian fleet. This fleet, then lying at 
anchor, consisted of eleven sail of the line, three 
of which were three-decked ships, and four large 
frigates. Independently of their own guns, this 
powerful fleet was defended in a very advan- 
tageous manner by numerous batteries in the 
harbour, and by the fortifications about the town, 
all of which were mounted with heavy cannon. 

The Swedes approached boldly, receiving and 
returning a tremendous fire. Under all these 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 27 

disadvantages, which became the more ap- 
parent as they were the more closely encountered, 
the Duke continued this desperate attack with 
unabating intrepidity, and when he was, to all 
appearance, on the very threshold of success, the 
wind suddenly changed, and so violent a storm 
ensued, that his vessels were obliged to close 
their lower-deck ports, thus rendering the tiers 
of his heaviest metal useless, and reducing his 
attacking power by one half. 

The adverse hurricane also prevented many of 
his ships from taking any share in the action 
whatever, so that, after proving courage, conduct, 
and good seamanship, he was obliged to return 
with his fleet, at the moment when the enemy 
appeared all but defeated. 

This was not the extent of his disasters. The 
wind setting dead in upon the shore, the fury of 
the elements drove the Prince Charles, of sixty 
guns, after being dismasted, into the hands of the 
Russians. The Ricket Stander, of the same force, 
was wrecked, abandoned, and set fire to by orders 
of the Duke ; and the Valeur, another line-of- 
battle ship, was drifted on shore, but was after- 
wards enabled to escape, and get to sea again, by 
throwing overboard a part of her guns. 

Amidst all these misfortunes, it was soon dis- 
covered that English officers were on board, and 



28 MEMOIRS OF 

Captain Sidney Smith in personal command in 
this discomfited fleet, by the rapidity with which 
its damages were repaired. On the very next 
day, such were the zeal and diligence of the Duke 
of Sudermania, and the commanders under his 
direction, that the fleet was again under sail a 
league and a half from Norglon, and so com- 
pletely repaired from its recent damages, that 
it waited with impatience to make a second attack. 
On the 3rd and 4th of June, 1790, two more 
desperate battles were fought in the Gulf of Wil- 
bourg, in which the party that our hero espoused 
was again defeated; the Swedes losing seven ships, 
three frigates, six galleys, and about sixty armed 
small craft. The Russians also suffered severely. 
The slaughter, as might reasonably be expected, 
was particularly fatal to the English officers in 
the Russian service. In these affairs the point of 
the utmost danger was the point of honour. Cap- 
tains Dawson and Trevenor were slain, and Cap- 
tain Marshall also lost his life on the same occa- 
sion. Being mortally wounded, he had the 
agony, in the bitterness of the hour of death, to 
see the ship that he had commanded, and the 
crew that he had disciplined, sink with him, his 
colours still flying in melancholy defiance. Cap- 
tains Aikin and Miller were also grievously 
wounded. 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 29 

We must premise, that an unsuccessful at- 
tempt had been made by the King of Sweden, who 
commanded in person, to destroy the Russian 
squadron in Viborg. The approach of the Prince 
of Nassau, with the Cronstadt division, had 
already made the position of the Swedes at the 
entrance of Viborg Bay extremely critical, the 
more especially as their scarcity of ammunition, 
and their want of provisions, made their return 
to their own ports a measure of first necessity. 

In this situation of affairs, the king resolved 
to avail himself of a strong easterly wind, which 
set in on the 3rd of June, to gain Swerksund and 
Sweaborg. It was necessary for the fleet to pe- 
netrate through a narrow pass, and, in so doing, 
to sustain the fire of four Russian ships of the 
line, two of which were placed on each side of 
the strait ; and, after this, to engage the whole 
of Admiral TschitcshakorT's line, which, at a 
small distance, was drawn up along the coast, 
while his frigates were ranged and judiciously 
placed among the islands which lie nearer the 
shore. 

Unappalled by this display of superior force, 
the Swedish van, led on by Admiral Modee, 
passed the Narrows without suffering any ma- 
terial loss, firing with great spirit both broad- 
sides at the same time against the enemy on 



30 MEMOIRS OF 

either side, The cannonade from the four Rus- 
sian line-of-battle ships was, however, so power- 
ful, and so well supported, that it was resolved 
by the Duke of Sudermania to attempt their 
destruction by fireships ; but this operation 
proved so unsuccessful, that they were driven back 
upon two of his own fleet, a ship of the line and 
a frigate, both of which were blown up. 

The Swedish admiral, instead of having re- 
course to so uncertain an experiment as fire- 
ships, should have placed a vessel of equal force 
alongside each of these Russian vessels, and hav- 
ing thus masked their fire, the smaller vessels 
could have passed up the centre of the strait in 
absolute safety, and then the protecting ships 
could have followed, forming an excellent pro- 
tective rear-guard. The unfair means of war 
by fire-vessels was then much in vogue, but now 
we are happy to say that among civilised na- 
tions their employment is generally condemned, 
and their utility disallowed. 

The Swedes being confused in a considerable 
degree, by this peculiarly distressful accident, the 
ships that were to follow were unable to proceed 
with the requisite order and circumspection ; four 
of them struck upon the rocks, and were thus left 
at the mercy of the enemy. 

During the further course, along the coast, of this 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 31 

bewildered navy, already so diminished in force, 
three more vessels of the line surrendered to the 
Russian flag. This engagement, so ill fought as 
to nautical manoeuvring, yet so well contested as 
to personal bravery, continued all night and a 
part of the next day, and it was not until the 
evening that the duke, with the shattered re- 
mains of his fleet, found safety in the port of 
Sweaborg, leaving three line-of-battle ships and 
one frigate in the hands of the Russians, the 
same number of line-of-battle ships and one fri- 
gate stranded on the Russian shores, and wit- 
nessing the destruction of another ship of the 
line and another frigate by fire, besides losing 
a schooner and a cutter, supposed to have been 
sunk. 

The small craft taken or sunk were supposed 
to amount to sixty, and with the galleys eight 
hundred men of the Swedes were captured. The 
whole loss of the Swedes in this affair was 
above seven thousand men. To add to these 
disasters, all the baggage of the fleet, amounting 
in value to several millions of dollars, fell into 
the hands of the Russians. 

In this protracted encounter, our young officer, 
whilst he shared in the danger, must have gained 
an admirable lesson in naval warfare. Every 
possible variety of circumstance must have been 



32 MEMOIRS OF 

presented to him, and from the alternate success 
and discomfiture of the belligerents he must have 
acquired a deep insight into all the strategy of 
maritime war. The lesson was deeply traced 
and largely written in blood, and after-exploits 
proved that it had not been studied in vain. 

Captain Sidney Smith had at that period 
but little respite : he was soon to witness a repe- 
tition of the same scene, but with happier results 
to the cause in which he had engaged. 

Though the events of the actions of the 3rd and 
4th of June were thus unfortunate to the Swedes, 
his Majesty was in a short time able to re- 
appear at sea in so effective a condition as not 
only again to contend for victory, but also 
to obtain ample compensation for his former 
losses. 

Having supplied his armament with provisions 
and ammunition, and being joined by the divi- 
sion under Lieutenant-Colonel Cronstadt, which 
had not been able to reach the Bay of Viborg, so 
as to participate in the late engagement, the king 
sailed immediately, with a view to prevent the 
Prince of Russia, who was advancing with the 
Russian Cronstadt and Viborg squadrons, from 
getting into the port of Frederickham. This he 
was so fortunate as to accomplish. 

In consequence of this proceeding, an action 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 33 

took place on the 9th of July, in which the king 
commanded in person nominally Sidney Smith 
actually, who was at the royal elbow during the 
whole of the engagement. It began at half-past 
nine in the morning, and lasted twenty-four hours. 

On the preceding day, several vessels of the 
Russian in-shore squadron were discovered at 
Aspo; on which the king, attended by M. de 
Armstadt, went to reconnoitre. On the 9th, the 
Prince of Nassau advanced towards the Swedish 
shore, and the signal was made for the Swedish 
fleet to arrange itself in order of battle. By nine 
in the morning, the enemy had formed his line, 
and made sail towards Cape Musalo. The right 
wing of the Swedes advanced to meet them, and 
the firing commenced briskly on both sides. 

Immediately after, the king, on board the 
Seraphim galley, made the signal for a general 
attack. The enemy still approached with a spirited 
fire, which was so warmly returned by both the 
Swedish wings, that at noon the left of the enemy 
began to give way. Both the right and left of the 
Swedes being reinforced by several divisions which 
had been previously placed in the Sound, they 
were enabled to continue the action with increased 
vigour. At the same time, the Russian line having 
received some reinforcements, the eastward wing 
again advanced and returned to the conflict. 

VOL. i. D 



34 MEMOIRS OF 

But their renewed endeavours were in vain. 
About four o'clock in the afternoon some of their 
larger galleys were beaten from the land, and 
struck their colours. Of those, several after- 
wards foundered, and several were taken posses- 
sion of by the Swedes. 

Gustavus was not absolutely without loss him- 
self. One of his best galleys, the Udema, caught 
fire about six o'clock and sank ; but happily the 
whole of her crew was saved. The same fate be- 
fel one of the Russian xebecs, and after this the 
smaller vessels began to sheer off. 

Many of the enemy's heavy galleys continued 
firing till the evening, and then made sail with 
a view of effecting their escape. Some ran on the 
shoals and struck their flags. At eleven, dark- 
ness compelled a cessation of hostilities. The 
conquered vessels were taken possession of, and 
the prisoners removed. 

As early as three next morning the cannonade 
was renewed, and shortly after, one of the Rus- 
sian frigates surrendered, and several of the 
smaller craft were taken. The enemy then com- 
menced retreating in every direction, and to set 
fire to their stranded ships. They were pursued 
till ten at night, arid forty- five captured. Out of 
the Russian vessels that were sunk, one officer 
and one surgeon only were saved. Six of the 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 35 

stranded vessels were burned by the Swedes. 
The victors computed the number of their prison- 
ers at four thousand five hundred, including two 
hundred and ten officers. 

Thus, in this action, after having for so long a 
period trembled upon an equality, whilst thou- 
sands on both sides were passing to judgment, 
the scales of victory inclined towards Gustavus. 
The Russians, in their turn, suffered a defeat, 
with the loss of five frigates, fifteen galleys, two 
floating batteries, with twenty other vessels, and, 
a great quantity of naval and military stores ; and, 
as before mentioned, four thousand five hundred 
prisoners were also captured. 

On this memorable occasion, an English offi- 
cer of the name of Dennison commanded the 
Russian frigate Venus, and, by his presence of 
mind and gallantry, very nearly effected the 
capture of the King of Sweden's sacred person, 
as he gained possession of the galley in which 
that monarch had embarked. 

Captain Smith, who was with the sovereign, 
observing the gallant and seaman-like style in 
which the Venus was bearing down upon the 
galley, became assured that she must be under 
the command of an Englishman, and suggested 
to the king that it was high time for them to 
look out for their mutual safety ; an advice not at 

D 2 



36 MEMOIRS OF 

all to be disregarded under the pressing nature of 
the contingency. The king, being fully consci- 
ous of his imminent danger, shuffling off his royal 
dignity for the nonce, like a very prudent j and 
private individual, conveyed himself and his 
adviser into a small boat that was lying along- 
side, and pulled off to another and a safer 
vessel. 

The non-nautical reader may suppose, that, in 
this instance, the future hero of Acre showed 
abundantly that better part of valour named 
"discretion." So he did; and without at all 
impugning his valour in the abstract, it must be 
understood that the galley was nothing more 
than a sort of great row-boat, as little able to 
contend, vessel to vessel, with a frigate, as a 
minnow with a pike. The gallantry and seaman- 
like conduct of Dennison were not displayed in 
the taking of this galley, but in his making his 
way to her, by breaking through the greatly su- 
perior obstructing force. 

This noble fellow was killed on the same day. 

Let us pause, for a moment, in the course of our 
narrative, and attempt an apology for Sir Sidney 
Smith, and those of his brave countrymen who de- 
graded themselves to mercenaries in a quarrel, on 
opposite sides, in which they could have had no 
patriotic, and hardly a public interest. Humanity 



Silt SIDNEY SMITH. 37 

requires one, and the enlightenment of the pre- 
sent day will let nothing pass as a justification 
that will not bear the test of a sound morality. 

If biography be something only to extol that 
which is commendable, and to gloze over faults, 
and palliate that which is discreditable, it is a 
species of writing that cannot too soon become 
extinct. That, lately, memoirs have partaken of 
this nature, is lamentably true. When written 
in this manner, they become to the rising gene- 
ration false guides and lying finger-posts. They 
are painted all white, on which dark letters of 
instruction are nowhere to be seen. 

We have just described Englishman opposed 
to Englishman, fellow-subject to fellow- subj ect ; 
and in this almost suicidal contest we see the 
country deprived of some of its most gallant de- 
fenders, the king of some of the best supporters of 
his crown, families of their fathers, and the orna- 
ments and the nourishers of social circles ruth- 
lessly destroyed. The picture is true, and, the 
more nearly examined, as it is true so is it re- 
volting. 

For acts like these, the fervour of youth can- 
not be pleaded ; youth, far more prone to act 
than to reflect, yet, in numerous cases, as well as 
age, must deliberate. The drawing the sword for 



38 MEMOIRS OF 

a foreign potentate, even in the youngest, must 
be an act of deliberate calculation. The respon- 
sibility, therefore, must remain upon the mer- 
cenary's conscience. 

In the case before us, neither party of the 
English belligerents could have been influenced 
to shed the blood of each other on the score of 
philanthropy, or in advocacy of the cause of the 
human race. Liberty was not then fully appre- 
ciated anywhere, and nowhere so little as among 
the people of the two nations that were opposed 
to each other. 

We will not suppose, for a moment, that these 
gentlemen embarked in this quarrel, on different 
sides, for their private emolument. Hired gladi- 
atorship, however highly it may have been esti- 
mated on the continent, has never yet been the 
naturalised occupation of the English. It would 
therefore appear that, the more we examine this 
question, the greater, we find, are the difficulties 
that surround it, and the more specious are the 
fallacies by which a justification must be at- 
tempted. In fact there is no justification, in the 
broad and general point of view, for either party 
of the English officers that were thus unnaturally 
opposed to each other. On this point we insist, 
for the sake of religion, for the sake of humanity, 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 39 

for the sake of patriotism. We speak thus de- 
cidedly, in order that our feeble voice may im- 
press upon the youth of the present and of the fu- 
ture day, that it is a crime against God and against 
man to draw the sword of the slayer in any other 
save their country's cause. 

As to the apology of our hero at finding him 
in the predicament that we have thus strongly 
condemned, the one that we are going to pro- 
duce will be thought weak upon the general 
merits, but powerful as applicable to Sir Sidney's 
individual case. Let the reader always remem- 
ber that we offer an apology, not a defence. This 
apology consists in his thirst for distinction, in his 
passionate love of glory, merging in and display- 
ing themselves in an unquenchable zeal for the 
honour of his country. It was this that led him 
into the error, not an error of the heart but of 
calculation an error to which people of chi- 
valrous characters are peculiarly liable. 

Sir Sidney Smith continued to serve the King 
of Sweden with great advantage to that prince, 
and reputation to himself, until the peace of 
Riechenback, and, for his eminent services, was 
rewarded with the grand cross of the order of the 
Sword. 

That his splendid, yet we think misplaced ser- 



40 MEMOIRS OF 

vices, were not regarded with the stern view of 
the moralist by our own government of that 
period, is evident, by his own sovereign conferring 
upon him the additional honour of an English 
knighthood, at St. James's. 



SHI SIDNEY SMITH. 41 



CHAPTER IV. 



Enters the Turkish service Fits out a man-of-war at his 
own risk Gets a reinforcement of seamen at Smyrna 
Joins Lord Hood at Toulon Some account of the transac- 
tions at that place. 

IMPATIENT of the inactivity of peace, and despis- 
ing the blandishments and dissipation of fashion- 
able society, his mind could find sustenance and 
satisfaction only in the bustle and excitement of 
actual service. We find him, therefore, in 1793, 
serving as a volunteer in the Turkish marine, 
and, when thus employed, he happened to be at 
Smyrna when the war broke out with France. 
This intelligence was to him like the sound of the 
trumpet to the war-horse. Whether he had re- 
ceived the usual notice from the Admiralty, issued 
on similar occasions, we know not to Sir Sidney 
it would have been of little moment. Nothing now 
occupied his thoughts but the best and most 
advantageous method of repairing to his post 



42 MEMOIRS OF 

among the defenders of his country. His thirst 
now for the " pomp and circumstance of war" 
was a virtue. 

In this emergency, his mind always teeming 
with resources, he determined to repair to 
England with some advantage to his country. 
He came not single-handed. At this time there 
were several valuable seamen out of employ at 
Smyrna. He was resolved that they should 
not be lost to his sovereign. Accordingly, at his 
own risk, he purchased one of the latteen-rigged, 
fast-sailing craft of the Archipelago, and with 
equal humanity and patriotism manned it with 
these men, who would otherwise have been, at 
this critical juncture, lost to the service. 

Without the protection of a letter of marque, 
he shipped himself, with about forty truculent 
fellows, in this diminutive man-of-war, and hoist- 
ing the English flag and pennant, he named it 
the Swallow Tender, and sailed down the Medi- 
terranean in search of the English fleet, which 
he found at Toulon, a short time before the 
evacuation of that sea-port, and the destruction of 
its magazines, dockyard, and arsenals. 

It was at this memorable epoch, and on this 
fatal spot, that Bonaparte first signalised him- 
self. Many and sufficiently accurate are the ac- 
counts extant of the siege of this strongly fortified 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 43 

place by the French, when it was temporally 
held by the combined British and Spanish forces, 
for the partisans of the Bourbons. It is not our 
office to enter fully into the operations, or to give 
a minute detail of the events that led to the cala- 
mitous results ; but we must give some ac- 
count of them, the better to understand the 
position in which Lord Howe found himself, and 
the English and allied forces co-operating with 
him. Oppressed, irritated, and almost driven to 
despair by the multiplied and still multiplying 
atrocities of the democrats who were then devastat- 
ing France under the direction of the ferocious 
Robespierre, the southern sections of that dis- 
tracted kingdom openly displayed a monarchical 
feeling. They ardently longed for the peaceful 
and mild tyranny of the Bourbons. 

On the 23rd of August, 1793, commissioners 
representing the sections of the department of the 
Rhone went on board the Victory, the flag-ship 
of Lord Howe, then lying off Marseilles, expect- 
ing to meet commissioners from Toulon, deputed 
by the sections of the department of Var, for the 
same purpose that of recalling Louis XVIII., 
and re-establishing a monarchical government. 

With this view, on the 26th of August, the de- 
puties of all the sections agreed to proposals 
made by Lord Howe, and signed a declaration 



44 MEMOIRS OF 

which consisted of eighteen articles, investing him, 
at the same time, personally with the command of 
the harbour, the forts, and the fleet at Toulon. Lord 
Howe, having received assurances of the good 
disposition of the principal part of the officers 
and seamen of the French ships, resolved to 
land fifteen hundred men, and take possession of 
the forts which commanded the ships in the road. 

Acting up to this intention, notwithstanding a 
display of opposition by their Admiral St. Julian, 
a stanch republican and withal a most turbulent 
spirit, the honourable Captain Elphinstone, after- 
wards Lord Keith, at midday on the 28th of 
August, took possession of the fort of La Malgue. 

In pursuance of Lord Hood's directions, he 
took the command as governor, and sent a flag of 
truce, with a preparatory notice to St. Julian, 
that such French ships as did not proceed with- 
out delay into the inner harbour, and put their 
powder on shore, would be treated as enemies. 
St. Julian, however, was found to have escaped 
during the night, with the greater part of the 
crews of seven line-of-battle ships, which were 
principally attached to him ; all but these seven 
ships removed into the inner harbour in the 
course of the evening. 

The Spanish fleet, under the command of Don 
Juan de Langaras, appeared in sight as the 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 45 

British troops were in the act of landing to take 
possession of Fort la Malgue. 

Having thus made himself master of Toulon 
and the adjacent forts, Lord Hood issued, on the 
same evening, another proclamation which greatly 
soothed the minds of the inhabitants. The Eng- 
lish troops received, on the 29th of August, a 
reinforcement of one thousand men, who were dis- 
embarked from the Spanish fleet on the same day 
the British fleet worked into the outer roads of 
Toulon, followed by the Spanish, and anchored 
at noon without the smallest obstruction. 

The junction of two such powerful fleets, that 
had often met in fierce contention, but which 
now rode peacefully in one of the finest harbours 
in the world, formed a singular and cheerful 
sight, inspiriting to the loyal inhabitants, and 
proving to the republicans that they owed their 
late supremacy more to terror than to affection. 

On the 30th of August, Lord Hood judged it 
expedient, for the more effectual preservation of 
good order and discipline in the town, to appoint 
Rear- Admiral Goodall governor of Toulon and its 
dependencies. This was the more necessary, as a 
detachment of the republican army, commanded 
by Casteaux, consisting of seven hundred and fifty 
men, with some cavalry and ten pieces of cannon, 
approached the village of Ollioulle, near Toulon. 



46 MEMOIRS OF 

On this being ascertained, Captain Elphinstone 
immediately marched out of Fort Malgue at the 
head of six hundred troops, English and Spanish, 
and attacking the enemy with great spirit, soon 
made them abandon their posts, took four of 
their pieces of cannon with their equipments, 
many horses, and much ammunition. 

Our loss was immaterial. In this attack 
Captain Elphinstone displayed a knowledge of 
military tactics which was hardly expected from 
an officer in the British navy. 

On the 6th of September Lord Mulgrave 
arrived at Toulon, and, at the request of Lord 
Hood, accepted the command of the British 
troops, with the rank of brigadier-general, until 
his Majesty's pleasure should be known. In 
consequence of the report made by his lordship 
of the forces that would be requisite to defend 
the several ports in the vicinity of Toulon, Lord 
Hood despatched a pressing letter to Sir Robert 
Boyd, the governor of Gibraltar, requesting 
fifteen hundred soldiers, with a number of ar- 
tillery-men, and an able engineer. 

By the middle of September our post began to 
be kept in a constant state of alarm by the con- 
tinually increasing numbers of Casteaux's army 
on the west, and that of Italy on the east ; each of 
them consisting of nearly six thousand men. At 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 47 

the same time, Lord Hood had apprehensions that 
some desperate attempt would be made from with- 
in the town by upwards of five thousand disaffected 
seamen. The committee-general of the sections, 
and the French royalist Rear-Admiral Trogroffe, 
represented that to get rid of them was absolutely 
necessary to the safety of the loyalists. This 
was the more especially evident, as, previously to 
Lord Hood taking possession of Toulon, they had 
agreed that those men should be sent home, pro- 
vided that they did not take any active part in 
obstructing the operations of the British fleets. 
These conditions not yet having been fulfilled, 
they, in consequence, began to be very clamor- 
ous and unruly. All these causes pressing upon 
the mind of Lord Hood, he judged it expedient 
to embark them in four of the most unservice- 
able of the French ships, Le Patriote, L'Apollon, 
L'Orion, and L'Entreprenant, to each of which a 
passport was given. 

These ships were dismantled of their guns, ex- 
cepting two on the forecastles of each, to be used 
as signals in case of distress. They had no small 
arms, and only twenty ordnance cartridges on 
board of each ship. They sailed under flags of 
truce ; two for Brest, one for Rochefort, and one 
for L' Orient. 

In addition to the motives just related, which 



48 MEMOIRS OF 

induced Lord Hood thus to act, and strictly 
adhere to the convention previously formed with 
the civil and military government of Toulon, 
there were also others that had a powerful influ- 
ence on his conduct. Amidst this mass of five 
thousand seamen, who were reported turbulent 
and disaffected, many were devoted to the cause of 
the inhabitants of Toulon, and were ready to make 
every exertion in favour of monarchy ; therefore, 
as it was confidently rumoured that Brest, 
Rochefort, and the other seaports of France, 
would take an active part in the same cause, 
there was good reason to hope that the arrival 
of these seamen would accelerate, at the several 
ports, similar exertions in behalf of Louis XVIII. 
His Majesty's ships Leviathan and Bedford 
arrived at Toulon, on the 28th of September, with 
eight hundred Sardinian troops, and also Mar- 
shal Forteguerri, commodore of the Sicilian 
squadron , with two thousand troops from Naples. 
This served considerably to cheer the spirits of 
the garrison, as well as of the Toulonnese, as, for 
the last fortnight, scarcely a day had passed 
without an attack upon the town from one quarter 
or another. Casteaux's army now amounted to 
eight thousand men on the west, and that on 
the east, under I,e Poype, to seven thousand, 
with reinforcements continually pouring into both. 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 49 

The enemy had also opened a battery of 
twenty twenty-four-pounders upon our gun- 
boats, and the ships that covered them ; and 
though they were soon dismouted by the vessels 
under Rear-Admiral Gell, and the works to- 
tally destroyed with very great slaughter, yet 
the enemy renewed them three successive 
times, and, to the last moment, persevered in 
their attacks upon our gunboats and advanced 
ships. 

During the night of the 21st of September, 
the French, availing themselves of a fog, very 
unexpectedly surprised a post occupied by the 
Spaniards, and thus got possession of the height 
of Pharon, immediately over Toulon ; but at 
noon, on the 1st of October, when in the very 
act of establishing themselves with about two 
thousand men, they were attacked by the troops 
under Lord Mulgrave, and, after a short but 
spirited action, driven from the height with 
great slaughter. Many of the flying parties were 
forced headlong, at the point of the bayonet, 
over the rocks. 

The loss of the allied forces amounted to only 
seven killed and seventy-two wounded, whilst 
the French had one thousand four hundred and 
fifty put hors de combat, and forty-one taken 
prisoners. 

VOL, i. E 



50 MEMOIRS OF 

The batteries of the French on the Hautier de 
Ranier were also destroyed in the night of the 
8th of October, with a considerable quantity of 
artillery and ammunition. The ensuing night, 
Captain Smith, assisted by Lieutenant Scrofield, 
of the royal navy, and the seamen under their 
command, made a successful sortie on some 
batteries recently erected by the enemy, which 
they completely destroyed. The French, not- 
withstanding these defeats, obtained possession 
of Cape le Brun on the 1 1th, but were again 
overcome and driven from thence with consider- 
able loss. 

Major- General O'Hara and Major-General 
Dundas arrived on the 22d of October, the for- 
mer with a commission to be governor of Tou- 
lon, with its dependencies. Lord Hood had the 
mortification to find, at this critical juncture, 
that Sir Robert Boyd was so sparing of succours 
for the defence of Toulon, that he had sent from 
Gibraltar only half the force which had been 
earnestly requested early in September. 

Lord Hood, perceiving his fleet much weakened 
by the number of the seamen who were sent on 
shore to defend the forts, found it expedient to 
despatch a ship to the Grand Master of Malta, 
requesting that one thousand five hundred Mal^ 
tese seamen might be' sent to serve in the British 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 51 

fleet during its continuance in the Mediterranean, 
who should have the same rations, treatment, and 
the same monthly wages, as the British. The 
Grand Master, in the most handsome manner, 
furnished the desired reinforcement. 



E 2 



MEMOIRS OF 



CHAPTER V. 

Some account of the situation of the British and Allied forces 
holding Toulon The attacks of the French Misconduct 
of the Allies General O'Hara made prisoner Bonaparte's 
account of the transaction It is resolved to evacuate 
Toulon. 

ON the evening of the llth of November, the 
French, with a large force, vigorously attacked 
our post upon the heights de Grasse, called 
Fort Mulgrave, and one of the most essential 
positions that covered the shipping in the har- 
bour of Toulon. The attack was principally 
directed on that part of the place which was 
occupied by the Spaniards on the right. Ge- 
neral O'Hara, who was dining on board the 
Victory, hastened on shore. When he reached 
the height, he found that the French were close 
to the works, and the Spaniards in full retreat, 
firing their muskets in the air. The general 
instantly directed a company of Royals to ad- 
vance, who immediately leaped upon the works 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 53 

and put the enemy to flight, after leaving six 
hundred men dead and wounded upon the field. 
The loss of the English amounted to sixty-one 
only. 

The British admiral, in addition to what he 
had already experienced since his taking posses- 
sion of Toulon, had to undergo a fresh vexa- 
tion at the end of November, and one, too, of 
the most serious and alarming nature, consider- 
ing the augmented force of the surrounding 
enemy, and the critical situation of the posts to 
be defended. After having been flattered with 
the most positive hopes of receiving, towards the 
middle of this month, five thousand Austrian 
troops, and when he had actually despatched 
Vice- Admiral Cosby with a squadron of ships and 
transports to Vado Bay to convey them, as 
previously concerted between Mr. Trevor, his 
Majesty's minister at Tunis, and himself, by 
letters received from Mr. Trevor on the 18th of 
November, his lordship's hopes were at once 
destroyed, and with them all expectation of the 
arrival of a single Austrian soldier at Toulon. 

The enemy, at the close of November, having 
opened a battery against the fort of Malbosquet 
near the arsenal, and from which battery shot 
and shells could reach the town, it was resolved 
to destroy it, and to bring off the enemy's guns. 



54 MEMOIRS OF 

For this purpose, General O'Hara digested a 
distinct and masterly plan of attack, which he 
communicated, on the evening of the 29th of 
November, to the commanding officers of the 
troops of each nation. Accordingly, on the 
morning of the 30th, this plan was so far exe- 
cuted as to surprise the enemy's redoubt 
most effectually. The British troops having ob- 
tained full possession of the height and battery, 
their ardour and impetuosity were not to be re- 
strained in this moment of success ; but con- 
tinuing to pursue the flying enemy, in a scattered 
manner, a full mile beyond the works, the con- 
sequence was, that the latter, collecting in great 
force, in their turn obliged our troops to retreat, 
and to relinquish the advantages they had at first 
obtained. 

General O'Hara arrived at the battery at the 
moment it was retaken, and, perceiving the dis- 
order of the troops thus driven back, was has- 
tening to rally them, when, most unfortunately, 
he received a wound in the arm, which bled so 
much as to render him incapable of avoiding the 
enemy, by whom he was made prisoner as he 
sat down under the shelter of a wall. 

Let us see the account that, in his own words, 
Bonaparte gave of this transaction. " I made 
General O'Hara prisoner, I may say, with my 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 55 

own imnd. I had constructed a masked battery 
of eight twenty-four-pounders and four mortars, 
in order to open upon the Fort Malbosquet, which 
was in possession of the English. It was finished 
in the evening, and it was my intention to have 
opened upon the English in the morning. While 
I was giving directions to another part of the 
army, some of the deputies from the Convention 
came down. In those days they sometimes took 
upon themselves to direct the operations of the 
armies, arid those imbeciles ordered the batteries 
to commence, which order was obeyed. 

" As soon as I saw this premature fire, I im- 
mediately conceived that the English general 
would attack this battery, and most probably 
carry it, as another had not yet been arranged to 
support it. In fact, O'Hara, seeing the shot 
from that battery would dislodge his troops from 
Malbosquet, from which last I would have taken 
the fort that commanded the harbour, deter- 
mined upon attacking it. Accordingly, early in 
the morning, he put himself at the head of his 
troops, and actually carried the battery and the 
lines which I had formed (Napoleon here drew 
upon a piece of paper a plan of the situation of 
the batteries) to the left, and those to the right 
were taken by the Neapolitans. While O'Hara 
was busy in spiking the guns, I advanced with 



MEMOIRS OF 



three or four hundred grenadiers, unperceived, 
through a bog, and covered with olive trees, which 
communicated with the batteries, and com- 
menced a terrible fire upon his troops. The 
English, astonished, at first supposed that the 
Neapolitans, who had the lines upon the right, 
had mistaken them for French, and said it is 
those canaglie of Neapolitans who are firing upon 
us; for even, at that time, your troops despised 
the Neapolitans. O'Hara ran out of the battery 
and advanced towards us. In advancing, he was 
wounded in the arm by the fire of a sergeant ; 
and I, who stood at the mouth of the boyau, 
seized him by the coat, and drew him back 
among my own men, thinking he was a colonel, 
as he had two epaulets on. 

" While they were taking him to the rear, he 
cried out that he was commander -in-chief of the 
English. He thought that they were going to 
massacre him, as there existed a horrible order 
at that time from the Convention, that no quar- 
ter was to be given to the English. I ran 
up, and prevented the soldiers from ill-treat- 
ing him. He spoke very bad French, and as 
I saw he imagined that they intended to 
butcher him, I did everything in my power 
to console him, and gave directions that his 
wound should be immediately dressed, and that 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 57 

every attention should be paid to him. He 
afterwards begged that I would give him a state- 
ment of how he had been taken, in order that 
he might forward it to his government in his 
justification." 

Though we are not among those who give 
more implicit credence to all the conversational 
statements of Bonaparte than we do to his state do- 
cuments, we believe his version of the transaction 
to be the right one. The previous description of this 
misfortune is compiled from the documents fur- 
nished to our government. We do not think 
them rigidly, though they may be essentially, 
correct. For the glory of the English army, we 
would rather place Bonaparte's account upon 
the records of our history. We will not sup- 
pose that the English troops were so undis- 
ciplined as to pursue a flying enemy in a dis- 
orderly manner for more than a mile, not only 
without orders, but against the will of their 
officers. It is very ad captandum to the mis- 
judging public to represent the French flying 
before the English, even though it ended in the 
discomfiture of the latter. Still less can we 
credit that the commander-in-chief would join 
in so wild a sally, and upon so trifling an occa- 
sion. The real facts were, that the English had 



58 MEMOIRS OF 

surprised their enemies, and were, in their turn, 
themselves surprised. 

We dwell thus long upon these affairs, firstly, 
because Sir Sidney certainly bore in them the 
most conspicuous, and performed the most useful 
part. Without his exertions, it will be immedi- 
ately seen, that from this fierce contest we should 
not have plucked a single laurel wherewith to 
console us for our defeat ; and secondly, we wish 
to place the odium of this cruel, momentous, and 
disastrous defeat, upon those who were, undoubt- 
edly, its cause. 

At this time the French army before Toulon 
amounted to forty thousand men, and after the 
surrender of Lyons, considerable as it already 
was, it became augmented daily. The army of 
the coalesced powers never exceeded twelve thou- 
sand, and even these were composed of five 
different nations, speaking five different languages; 
consequently not well formed to co-operate the 
one with the other. Of the actual British, there 
were never more than two thousand three hun- 
dred and sixty. The circumference necessary 
to be occupied for the complete defence of the 
town extended fifteen miles, with eight prin- 
cipal posts, and several immediate depend- 
encies. It will naturally excite astonishment 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 

that the place could be held for so long a time as 
seven weeks, 

Early on the 17th of December, Fort Mulgrave, 
on the height La Grasse, was stormed by an 
immense body of the enemy, after having kept 
up an incessant fire upon it, with shot and shells, 
for four-and-twenty hours. As usual, the right, 
occupied by the Spaniards, soon gave way, by 
which means the French entered the works, and 
got entire possession of the height. At the same 
time they attacked and carried the heights of 
Pharon, immediately over Toulon. 

Things were now growing to a crisis. A coun- 
cil of war, that sure herald of discomfiture, was 
summoned, and it was determined to evacuate a 
place that could be no longer held. 

The Spanish admiral, Langara, undertook to 
destroy the ships in the inner harbour or basin, 
and to scuttle and sink the two powder-vessels, 
which contained all the powder belonging to the 
French ships, as well as that belonging to the 
distant magazines within the enemy's reach. 

The disarray had already begun. The Nea- 
politans deserted their posts, and stole on board 
their ships in confusion and disorder ; and the 
next morning, December 18th, the Neapolitan 
commanding officer at the post of Sepel sent word 
that there he would no longer remain. The 



60 MEMOIRS OF 

retreat of the British troops and the evacua- 
tion, could not therefore be deferred. Ac- 
cordingly, in the night, the whole of the troops 
embarked without the loss of a single man, and 
fourteen thousand eight hundred and seventy- 
seven men, women, and children, of the 
royalists of Toulon, were sheltered in the British 
ships. 

It was now Sir Sidney's turn to come into ac- 
tion. By this time, the Republican forces pressed 
so energetically upon the place, that its final occu- 
pation by them seemed to rest entirely with them- 
selves. It therefore became necessary to decide 
upon the disposition of the French ships in the 
harbour and on the stocks, and the arsenal then full 
of military and naval muniments of war ; and this 
too at the very critical moment, when the extri- 
cation of the allied army from their dangerous 
position was the paramount object of solicitude, 
and just then occupied nearly all the attention, 
and absorbed all the naval capabilities, of the 
combined squadrons. 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH 



CHAPTER VI. 

Sir Sidney Smith proceeds on his perilous service Fires the 
arsenals The misconduct, or the treachery, of the 
Spaniards Explosion of the powder-ships He re-em- 
barks safely His despatch. 

AT the crisis mentioned in the last chapter, 
Sir William Sidney Smith, having delivered up 
his troublesome charge to the commander-in- 
chief Lord Hood, was, as his guest on board of 
the Victory, then waiting for a passage to 
England. At this anxious moment he volun- 
teered his services to burn the French fleet, ma- 
gazines, and everything that could at all be of 
service to the naval or military equipments of the 
enemy. This was deemed almost visionary, cer- 
tainly impracticable with the slender means that 
could then be afforded to our hero. It was, how- 
ever, one of those possible impracticabilities in 
which his genius rejoiced. Against the almost 
universal opinion, he accomplished the under- 
taking in a manner that justified his appointment 



62 MEMOIRS OF 

to so forlorn an enterprise, ten ships of the 
line, and several frigates, in the arsenal and 
inner harbour, with the mast-house, great store- 
house, and other buildings, being completely 
destroyed. 

It is well understood and confessed by all im- 
partial men, that the fortifications surrounding 
Toulon were, owing to the treachery and imbecility 
of our allies; ill defended, and the evacuation of 
the place too long deferred. Had neither of 
these contingencies happened, the immense naval 
force, with all its appointments, would have passed 
over quietly into the possession of the English, 
and thousands of the royalist Frenchmen saved, 
who were slain on the republicans taking the 
place, or who afterwards fell victims to the 
ruthless guillotine, or the still more ruthless noy- 
ades. This was at the acme of the reign of 
terror. 

The proximate cause of this disaster, which 
spread confusion and almost terror throughout the 
English fleet, was, as before related, the permitting 
the enemy to gain possession of an elevated battery, 
on a point of land that laid open the British naval 
force to a destructive cannonade. This post, so 
commanding, so all-important, was strangely neg- 
lected by the military ; hence all the confusion, 
disarray, and misery that ensued. 

It was the high destiny of Sir Sidney Smith 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 63 

gallantly to remedy some of the consequences of 
this mistake. Already was a large portion of the 
enemy in the town ; plunder and murder had 
commenced their savage orgies, and, to increase 
this infliction upon the distracted inhabitants, the 
galley-slaves had obtained their liberty, when, 
with his officers and the few men under his com- 
mand, and surrounded by a tremendous conflagra- 
tion, he found that he had nearly completed his 
dangerous service. 

But little more remained to be done, when the 
loud shouts and the republican songs of the 
enemy announced their approach to the spot 
where Sir Sidney and his small band were spread- 
ing around them destruction. The scene became 
terrible ; for the screams of the wounded, and the 
roaring and the hissing of the voluminous flames, 
were drowned, at rapid intervals, by the rattling 
volleys of musketry, the terrific explosion of 
shells, and the thunder-emulating booming of the 
artillery. War revelled in rapine, and whilst 
his feet were saturated with human blood, his 
many -toned and hideous voice seemed to shake 
the smoke-obscured firmament. 

Whilst all these horrors were enacting, and 
which seemed even so terrible to the vindictive 
and exasperated enemy that their progress was, 
for a space, arrested, a most overwhelming ex- 



64 MEMOIRS OF 

plosion of many thousand barrels of gunpowder, 
on board of the Iris frigate, lying in the inner 
road, stunned at once the pursuing and the 
flying, and inflicted a transient stupor upon 
everything then and there living. The solid 
ground reeled under the unstable foot, and the 
waves of the sea undulated menacingly as if they 
would overwhelm the trembling land. The 
scene could have been likened only to the hor- 
rors of an earthquake, combined with a volcanic 
eruption. 

Below were the tottering and falling houses, 
the crash of glass, and the cries of the maimed 
and crushed ; above was one vast canopy of lurid 
fire, from which were descending bursting bombs, 
fragments of burning timber, arid every descrip- 
tion of fiery-pointed missiles, the whole inter- 
spersed with flashes of intense and variously 
coloured light. Every one near the spot seemed 
to be threatened with instant destruction. 

Fortunately, however, only three of Sir Sid- 
ney's party lost their lives on this terrible 
occasion. 

It is a lamentable thing, and history will con- 
firm the assertion, that in all combined move- 
ments, where men of different nations have to 
carry them into effect, the most egregious 
blunders will ensue. The Spaniards have always 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 65 

been reckoned to be a gallant and brave people 
but with more than their share of that parent 
of all mistakes and misfortunes, obstinacy. A 
party of these self-willed Spaniards, who were too 
proud fully to consider the purport of their posi- 
tive and distinct orders, or too treacherous to 
obey them, were the cause of all this terror and 
calamity. They were commanded to go and 
scuttle and sink the powder-laden frigate they 
went and set fire to her. 

Now the reader must understand that, up to this 
period, Sir Sidney went first into the inner harbour, 
where he destroyed all the shipping he found there, 
and afterwards repaired on a similar service on 
shore to the arsenal. When he had completed the 
destruction of everything in his reach, to his asto- 
nishment he first discovered that our fear-paralysed 
or perfidious allies had not set fire to any one of 
the ships then lying in the basin before the town ; 
he therefore hastened thither with his boat, to 
counteract the treachery or the cowardice of the 
Spaniards. But he was too late. Already had the 
republicans gained possession of these vessels ; 
already had the boom been laid across the en- 
trance to the basin ; already he found that those 
but just now defenceless hulks were converted 
into formidable batteries. He was forced to de- 
sist from his endeavours to cut the boom, from 

VOL. I. F 



66 MEMOIRS OF 

the incessant volleys of musketry directed upon 
his boats from the French flagship and the wall 
of the royal battery. 

Much of the proceedings that followed, and the 
causes that produced them, must for ever remain 
enveloped in mystery. Recriminations and charges, 
many and bitter, have taken place between the 
English and Spanish, concerning these atrocities. 
Perfidy and treachery have been openly alleged 
against our allies. For ourselves, we are rather 
inclined to suppose that the Spaniards and 
Italians were so confounded at the novel situation 
in which they found themselves, that, in doing 
they knew not what, they left undone that which 
it was their imperative duty to do, and thus, 
through their fear-impelled commissions and 
omissions, they seemed to be treacherous when 
they were only cowardly. 

The grounds of affixing the black stigma of 
treachery upon the Spaniards are principally these. 
Early in the occupation of the place, the Spanish 
admiral communicated to Lord Hood the very 
bold intelligence that his Catholic Majesty had 
appointed him, Langara, to be sole commander- 
in-chief. This, of course, Lord Hood resisted; 
but whether the treason (if any) sprang from this 
quarrel, or this quarrel was but the arranged com- 
mencement of the treason, we will not pretend to 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 67 

determine. However, the Don took up a very 
menacing attitude, for he placed his twenty -one 
ships of the line so that he completely enclosed 
the British fleet, consisting only of ten, placing 
his own ship alongside the Victory, and one three- 
decker on her bow, and another on her quarter. 

The next indication of treachery was an in- 
sidious proposal to Lord Hood that the combined 
fleets should depart from Toulon, and make a 
diversion in favour of Paoli in Corsica, thus leav- 
ing the place at the mercy of the Republicans. 
He then wished to tempt the English admiral 
away on an expedition against Tunis ; and finally 
endeavoured to raise a quarrel, because some Cor- 
sican men-of-war were riding in the roads with 
their national flag at their mastheads. 

Now, when we look at the supineness of the 
Spaniards, and consider it in reference to the 
whole course of their proceedings, though we may 
not fully condemn, yet we certainly must hesitate 
to acquit them. Unfortunately the spirit of the 
two antagonist principles of monarchy and de- 
mocracy ran so high at this time, that the evi- 
dence of the writers of that day, even as to the 
simplest facts, cannot be relied on. A work was 
published in France, and translated into English, 
which distinctly stated that Robespierre said, 
in one of his official despatches, " Arguments of 

F 2 



68 MEMOIRS OF 

weight, and especially golden arguments, seldom 
fail of having some effect. The Spanish admi- 
rals and generals in the Mediterranean had in- 
structions rather to watch than to act with the 
English." And also, " It was at one time deter- 
mined to withdraw the army from before Tou- 
lon, and retire on the other side of the Durance; 
when, fortunately, the Spanish courier arrived, 
and everything was settled between my brother 
on our part, and Major S. on the other, with 
respect to Toulon." This brother was one of the 
commissioners attached to the army of Toulon. 
It is still further stated that Robespierre asserted, 
" The Spaniards, in consequence of this agree- 
ment, fled on all sides, (being attacked at an 
appointed time,) and left the English everywhere 
to bite the dust ; but particularly at a strong- 
hold called by them Fort Mulgrave. The ships 
which the Spaniards had to burn, they did 
not set fire to. The British ships had more 
than one escape at this period. Conformably 
to the agreement, the Spaniards were to at- 
tempt the destruction of some others, by cutting 
the cables, and by blowing up some old French 
men-of-war, laden with powder, in the harbour. 
This, indeed, they did, but too late to cause any 
damage to the English; and in this instance 
alone have we any reason to complain of the 
Spaniards." 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 69 

Speaking of the conflagration of the ships, 
Bonaparte himself says, " Sir Sidney Smith set 
them on fire, and they would have been all 
burned, if the Spaniards had behaved well. It 
was the prettiest feu d' artifice possible." 

This dictum certainly goes no farther than a 
corroboration as to the incapacity of these allies, 
to assist whom has caused, and is still causing, 
the loss of so much money, anxiety, and blood. 

To return to Sir Sidney Smith's proceedings. 
Our officer, finding affairs in this critical situ- 
ation, immediately proceeded to burn, after having 
liberated the prisoners, the two prison-ships, Le 
Heros and Themistocle, which he completely 
effected. Hardly was this service performed, when 
he and his gallant little party were astonished 
by the explosion of the Montreal, another 
powder-ship, by means equally unexpected 
and base, and with a shock even greater than 
that of the former disaster ; but the lives of Sir 
Sidney Smith and the gallant men who were 
then serving under him were again providentially 
saved from the imminent danger in which they 
were so suddenly placed. 

Threading a thousand perils, and literally pull- 
ing through showers of grape and musketry, the 
brave band which had thus so much damaged the 
enemy and served their country, at length 
reached the Victory in safety. This exploit was 



70 MEMOIRS OF 

the most striking and the most glorious feature 
of these ill-conducted proceedings. The fame of 
our officer was commensurately increased. Men 
began to look up to him a sone destined, hereafter, 
to extend the conquests and uphold the honour of 
the British empire. From the kindness of his 
natural disposition, and the amenity of his man- 
ners, his successes, great and dazzling as they 
were, created for him less envy than usually attends 
transcendent merit. Men of all classes and of all 
ranks spoke well of him. By the seamen he was 
all but idolised. 

We present our readers with Sir Sidney's de- 
spatch on this momentous occasion : 

" Toulon, Dec. 18. 1793. 

" MY LORD, Agreeably to your lordship's 
order, I proceeded with the Swallow tender, three 
English and three Spanish gunboats, to the 
arsenal, and immediately began making the ne- 
cessary preparations for burning the French ships 
and stores therein. We found the dock-gates 
well secured by the judicious arrangements of 
the governor, although the dockyard people had 
already substituted the three-coloured cockade 
for the white one. I did not think it safe to at- 
tempt the securing any of them, considering the 
small force I had with me, and considering that 
a contest of any kind would occupy our whole 



Sill SIDNEY SMITH. 71 

attention, and prevent us from accomplishing our 
purpose. 

" The galley-slaves, to the number of at least 
six hundred, showed themselves jealous spectators 
of our operations : their disposition to oppose us 
was evident; and being unchained, which was 
unusual, rendered it necessary to keep a watchful 
eye on them on board the galleys, by pointing 
the guns of the Swallow tender and one of the 
gunboats on them in such a manner as to en- 
filade the quay on which they must have landed 
to come to us, and assuring them, at the same 
time, that no harm should happen to them if they 
remained quiet. The enemy kept up a cross fire 
of shot and shells on the spot, from Malbosquet 
and the neighbouring hills, which contributed 
to keep the galley-slaves in subjection, and ope- 
rated in every respect favourably for us, by keeping 
the republican party in the town within their 
houses, while it occasioned little interruption to 
our work of preparing and placing combustible 
matter in the different storehouses, and on board 
the ships; such was the steadiness of the few 
brave seamen I had under my command. A 
great multitude of the enemy continued to draw 
down the hill towards the dockyard wall ; and 
as the night closed in, they came near enough to 
pour in an irregular though quick fire of mus- 



72 MEMOIRS OF 

ketry on us from the Boulangerie, and of cannon 
from the height which overlooks it. We kept 
them at bay by discharges of grapeshot from 
time to time, which prevented their coming so 
near as to discover the insufficiency of our force 
to repel a closer attack. A gunboat was sta- 
tioned to flank the wall on the outside, and two 
field-pieces were placed within against the wicket 
usually frequented by the workmen, of whom we 
were particularly apprehensive. About eight 
o'clock I had the satisfaction of seeing Lieutenant 
Gore towing in the Vulcan fireship. Captain 
Hare, her commander, placed her, agreeably to 
my directions, in a most masterly manner across 
the tier of men-of-war, and the additional force 
of her guns and men diminished my appreheiv 
sions of the galley-slaves rising on us, as their 
manner and occasional tumultuous debates ceased 
entirely on her appearance. The only noise 
heard among them was the hammer knocking off 
their fetters, which humanity forbade my oppos- 
ing, as they might thereby be more at liberty to 
save themselves on the conflagration taking place 
around them. In this situation we continued to 
wait most anxiously for the hour concerted with 
the governor for the inflammation of the trains. 
The moment the signal was made, we had the 
satisfaction to see the flames . rise in every quar- 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 73 

ter. Lieutenant Tupper was charged with the 
burning of the general magazine, the pitch, tar, 
tallow, and oil storehouses, and succeeded most 
perfectly ; the hemp magazine was included in 
this blaze : its being nearly calm was unfortunate 
to the spreading of the flames, but two hundred 
and fifty barrels of tar, divided among the deals 
and other timber, insured the rapid ignition of 
that whole quarter which Lieutenant Tupper had 
undertaken. 

" The masthouse was equally set on fire by 
Lieutenant Middleton of the Britannia. Lieu- 
tenant Porter, of the Britannia, continued in a 
most daring manner to brave the flames, in 
order to complete the work where the fire seemed 
to have caught imperfectly. I was obliged to 
call him off, lest his retreat should become im- 
practicable : his situation was the more perilous, 
as the enemy's fire redoubled as soon as the 
amazing blaze of light rendered us distinct ob- 
jects of their aim. Lieutenant Ironmonger, of 
the Royals, remained with the guard at the gate 
till the last, long after the Spanish guard was 
withdrawn, and was brought safely off by captain 
Edge of the Alert, to whom I had confided the 
important service of closing our retreat, and 
bringing off our detached parties, which were 
saved to a man. I was sorry to find myself de- 



74 MEMOIRS OF 

prived of the further services of Captain Hare : he 
had performed that of placing his fireship to 
admiration, but was blown into the water, and 
much scorched, by the explosion of her priming, 
when in the act of putting the match to it. 
Lieutenant Gore was also much burnt, and I was 
consequently deprived of him also, which I re- 
gretted the more, from the recollection of his 
bravery and activity in the warm service of Fort 
Mulgrave. Mr. Bales, midshipman, who was 
also with him on this occasion, deserves my 
praise for his conduct throughout this service. 
The guns of the fireship going off on both sides 
as they heated, in the direction that was given 
them, towards those quarters from whence we 
were most apprehensive of the enemy forcing 
their way in upon us, checked their career. Their 
shouts and republican songs, which we could 
hear distinctly, continued till they, as well as 
ourselves, were in a manner thunderstruck by 
the explosion of some thousand barrels of powder 
on board the Iris frigate, lying in the inner road, 
without us, and which had been injudiciously set 
on fire by the Spanish boats in going off, instead 
of being sunk as ordered. The concussion of air, 
and the shower of falling timber on fire, was 
such as nearly to destroy the whole of us. Lieu- 
tenant Patey, of the Terrible, with his whole 



Sill SIDNEY SMITH. 75 

boat's crew, nearly perished : the boat was blown 
to pieces, but the men were picked up alive. 
The Union gunboat, which was nearest to the 
Iris, suffered considerably, Mr. Young being 
killed, with three men, and the vessel shaken to 
pieces. I had given it in charge to the Spanish 
officers to fire the ship in the basin before the 
town, but they returned, and reported that various 
obstacles had prevented their entering it. We 
attempted it together as soon as we had com- 
pleted the business in the arsenal, but were re- 
pulsed, in our attempt to cut the boom, by re- 
peated volleys of musketry from the flagship 
and the wall of the Battery Royal. The cannon 
of this battery had been spiked by the judicious 
preacutions taken by the governor previously to 
the evacuation of the town. 

" The failure of our attempt on the ships in 
the basin before the town, owing to the insuffi- 
ciency of our force, made me regret that the 
Spanish gunboats had been withdrawn from me 
to perform other service. The adjutant Don 
Pedro Cotiella, Don Francisco Riguielme, and 
Don Francisco Truxillo, remained with me to 
the last ; and I feel bound to bear testimony to 
the zeal and activity with which they performed 
the most essential services during the whole of 
this business, as far as the insufficiency of their 



76 



MEMOIRS OF 



force allowed it, being reduced, by the retreat of 
the gunboats, to a single felucca, and a mortar- 
boat which had expended its ammunition, but 
contained thirty men with cutlasses. 

" We now proceeded to burn the Hero and 
Themistocles, two seventy-four gun ships, lying 
in the inner road. Our approach to them had 
hitherto been impracticable in boats, as the 
French prisoners, who had been left in the latter 
ship, were still in possession of her, and had 
shown a determination to resist our attempt to 
come on board. The scene of conflagration 
around them, heightened by the late tremendous 
explosion, had, however, awakened their fears 
for their lives. Thinking* this to be the case, I 

O ' 

addressed them, expressing my readiness to land 
them in a place of safety, if they would submit ; 
and they thankfully accepted the offer, showing 
themselves to be completely intimidated, and 
very grateful for our humane intentions towards 
them, in not attempting to burn them with the 
ship. It was necessary to proceed with precau- 
tion, as they were more numerous than ourselves. 
We at length completed their disembarkation, 
and then set her on fire. On this occasion I had 
nearly lost my valuable friend and assistant, 
Lieutenant Miller of the Windsor Castle, who 
had staid so long on board, to insure the fire 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 77 

taking, that it gained on him suddenly, and it 
was not without being very much scorched, and 
at the risk of being suffocated, that we could ap- 
proach the ship to take him in. The loss to the 
service would have been very great, had we not 
succeeded in our endeavours to save him. Mr. 
Knight, midshipman of the Windsor Castle, who 
was in the boat with me, showed much activity 
and address on the occasion, as well as firmness 
throughout the day. 

" The explosion of a second powder-vessel 
equally unexpected, and with a shock even 
greater than the first, again put us in the most 
imminent danger of perishing ; and when it is 
considered that we were within the sphere of the 
falling timber, it is next to miraculous that no 
one piece, of the many which made the water 
foam around us, happened to touch either the 
Swallow or the three boats with me. 

" Having now set fire to everything within 
our reach, exhausted our combustible prepara- 
tions and our strength to such a degree that the 
men absolutely dropped on the oars, we directed 
our course to join the fleet, running the gauntlet 
under a few ill-directed shot from the forts of 
Balaguier and Aiguillette, now occupied by the 
enemy ; but, fortunately, without loss of any 
kind, we proceeded to the place appointed for the 



78 



MEMOIRS OF 



embarkation of the troops, and took off as many 
as we could carry. It would be injustice to those 
officers whom I have omitted to name, from their 
not having been so immediately under my eye, 
if I did not acknowledge myself indebted to them 
all for their extraordinary exertions in the execu- 
tion of this great national object. The quickness 
with which the inflammation took effect on my 
signal, its extent and duration, are the best evi- 
dences that every officer and man was ready at 
his post, and firm under most perilous circum- 
stances. 

" We can ascertain that the fire extended to at 
least ten sail of the line ; how much farther we 
cannot say. The loss of the general magazine, 
and of the quantity of pitch, tar, rosin, hemp, 
timber, cordage, and gunpowder, must consider- 
ably impede the equipment of the few ships that 
remain. I am sorry to have been obliged to 
leave any, but I hope your lordship will be satis- 
fied that we did as much as our circumscribed 
means enabled us to do in limited time, pressed 
as we were by a force so much superior to us. I 
have the honour to be, &c. 

" W. SIDNEY SMITH. 

" Right hon. Lord Hood, &c. &c. &c." * 

* Here follows a list of the officers employed, and of the 
killed and wounded : 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 



79 



Lord Hood showed at once his judgment and 
his sense of the value of Sir Sidney's services, by 
appointing him to be the bearer of the despatches 
to England, containing an account of these stir- 
List of ships of the line, frigates, and sloops, of the de- 
partment of Toulon. 

In the road where the English fleet entered Toulon : 

Burnt at Leghorn. 

Guns. 
Le Scipion 74 

Remaining at Toulon. 
Le Genereux 74 

FRIGATES. 

Now with the English fleet. 
Le Perle - 40 

L'Arethuse - 40 

Fitted out by the English. 
L'Aurora - 32 

Put into commission by order 

of Lord Hood. 

La Topaze 32 

Remaining in the power of 

the Sardinians. 
L'Alceste - 32 

SLOOPS. 

Now with the English fleet. 
La Poulette - - 26 



SHIPS OF THE LINE. 

Now with the English fleet. 

Guns. 
Le Commerce de Marseilles 

120 
Le Pompee - 74 

Burnt at Toulon. 
Le Tonnant - 80 

L'Heureux - - 74 
Le Centaur - 74 

Le Commerce de Bor- 
deaux - - 74 
Le Destin 74 
LeLys - - 74 
Le Heros 74 
Le Themistocle - 74 
Le Dugay Trouin - 74 
Sent into the French ports 
on the Atlantic, with French 
seamen, fyc. 

Le Patriote - 74 

L'Apollon 74 

L'Orion - 74 

L'Entreprenant 74 



Le Tarleston - 14 

Burnt at Toulon. 

La Caroline - 20 

L'Auguste 20 



80 



MEMOIRS OP 



ring events. He was favourably indeed, with- 
out incurring the blame of exaggeration, we may 



Guns. 
Fitted out by the English. 

La Belette - 26 

La Proselyte - 24 

La Sincere - 20 

Le Mulct 20 

La Moselle - 20 

Fitted out by the Neapolitans. 
L'Employe - 20 

Fitted out by the Spaniards. 
La Petite Aurore - 18 

Sent to Bordeaux. 
Le Pluvier - 20 

Fitting out when the English 
fleet entered Toulon : 

SHIPS- OF THE LINE. 

Burnt at Toulon. 

Le Triomphant 80 

Le Suffisant - 74 

Now with the English fleet. 
Le Puissant - 74 

Remaining at Toulon. 
Le Dauphin Royal - IzO 

FRIGATE. 

Burnt at Toulon. 
Le Serieuse - -32 



Guns. 

In the harbour, in want of 
repair : 
SHIPS. 

Burnt at Toulon. 
Le Mercure - 74 

La Couronne - - 80 
Le Conquerant - - 74 
Le Dictateur - - 74 

Remaining at Toulon. 

Le Languedoc - 80 

Le Censeur - 74 

Le Guerrier 74 

Le Souverain 74 

Unfit for Service. 
L'Alcide - - 74 

FRIGATES. 

Burnt at Toulon. 

Le Courageux 32 

L'Iphigenie - 32 

L'Alerte - 16 

Having on board the powder 
magazines, burnt at Toulon. 
L'Iris - 32 

Le Montreal - 32 

Fitted out^ by the English as a 

bomb-ketch. 
La Lutine - - - 32 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 



81 



say, was enthusiastically received in London. 
He was caressed at the Admiralty, and distin- 
guished at the court of his sovereign. 

As it is our office to record the events of Sir 
Sidney's life more as a public than as a private 
character, we shall not inflate these volumes 
with anecdotes, which, however pleasing in 
themselves, have nothing to do with the official 
career of his usefulness and of his glory. It will 
be sufficient to say, that, during his short cessa- 
tion from actual service, he was sought for and 
cherished in the best and most distinguished 
circles. 

Remaining at Toulon. 
La Bretonne 

In commission before the Eng 
lish fleet entered Toulon: 

SHIP 

In the Levant. 
La Duquesne 

FRIGATES AND SLOOPS 

In the Levant. 

La Sibylle 
La Sensible 
La Melpomene - 
La Minerve 
La Fortunee 
La Fleche - 
La Fauvette] 
VOL. I. 



Guns. 


Guns. 


Ion. 


Taken by the English. 




- 18 


L'Imperieuse 


40 


le Ensr- 


La Modeste 


32 


"- -"-""s 
ulon: 


L'Eclair 


20 




At Vilk Franche. 






La Vestale 


36 




La Badine 


24 


- 74 


Le Hazard 


30 


>PS 


At Corsica. 






La Mignon 


32 


- 40 


At Cette. 




- 32 


La Brune 


24 


- 40 


In ordinary at Toulon. 




- 40 


La Junon 


40 


- 32 


Building. 




- 24 


One ship of 


74 


- 24 


Two frigates 


40 




G 





82 MEMOIRS OF 



CHAPTER VII. 



Appointed to the Diamond His services on the Channel 
station Attacks two French ships under La Hogue De- 
stroys a French corvette Attacks a French squadron 
which had taken shelter in the Port of Herqui. 

HAVING, by the late splendid though 'incom- 
plete operations, given earnest to his superior 
officers, and to the country at large, that he was 
possessed of abilities of the highest order, Sir Wm. 
Sidney Smith was appointed by the Lords of the 
Admiralty, in the commencement of the year 
1794, to the command of the Diamond frigate, 
on the station of the British Channel. 

The officers and the crew of the Diamond soon 
experienced the beneficial effects of his en- 
lightened and energetic command. At this 
period very many and very hurtful prejudices 
existed in the service. A mixture of firmness 
and conciliation in the carrying out of improve- 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 83 

ments soon removed most of the anomalies that 
interfered with the due efficiency of the force under 
Captain Sir Sidney Smith's command. The Dia- 
mond became one of the most perfect specimens 
of a vessel of war in the British navy. Next to the 
conquest or destruction of the enemy, the greatest 
glory that can be achieved by the commander is 
the ennobling of the force under his government 
by judicious expedients, and the employing an en- 
lightened discipline to enable him to do so. 

It would be tedious to enumerate all the mi- 
nutiae of a blockading cruise in the Channel the 
chase by day, and the dangerous approximation 
to the enemy's harbour by night the interchange 
of shot with the batteries, and the verifying of the 
charts, under the very guns of the enemy, by 
soundings in the boats. Though each of these 
operations may seem to be but a little matter of 
itself, the whole makes a service no less arduous 
than it is necessary. Insignificant as this may 
appear to be, it affords an ample field in which 
the abilities of the officer in command can be 
fairly and almost fully tested. 

No sooner had the year 1795 been ushered in by 
the din of a war soon to become almost universal, 
than the government at home received what was 
considered to be authentic information that the 
French fleet, under Admiral Villare de Joyeuse, 

G 2 



84 MEMOIRS OF 

had ventured from the protection of the harbour 
of Brest, and was actually upon the open seas, on 
a cruise. On the 2nd of January, Sir John 
Borlase Warren, an officer who had already dis- 
tinguished himself, sailed from Falmouth, with a 
squadron of frigates, to reconnoitre Brest and the 
contiguous line of French coast. To penetrate 
into the mouth of this harbour was the hazardous 
commission that devolved on Captain Smith. 
The Diamond, in an incredibly short space of 
time, was so completely Frenchified in appear- 
ance but in appearance only that her gallant 
captain was enabled completely to deceive the 
enemy. With the utmost coolness he sailed into 
the harbour in the evening, remained there the 
whole of the night, and departed early on the 
following morning, without, for a moment, hav- 
ing his disguise suspected. In returning from 
this bold undertaking, he actually passed within 
hail of a French line-of-battle ship. 

Having, by this manoeuvre, satisfactorily ascer- 
tained that the French fleet had really ventured 
to put to sea, he returned in safety with the im- 
portant intelligence to his anxious commodore. 

Nothing particularly worth narrating occurred 
to our officer until the month of May following, 
when he assisted at the capture of a convoy of 
transports. His untiring vigilance was next 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 85 

exhibited on the 4th of July following, when he 
made a brave but ineffectual attempt to capture 
two French ships of war, having under their pro- 
tection a large convoy of merchant vessels. In 
this gallant affair the batteries of La Hogue 
proved too strong for the attacking force. Even 
this failure had more than its compensating ad- 
vantages, in the terror that it occasioned to the 
enemy, and the paralysing opinion that it gave 
them of British daring. In this attempt the 
Diamond had the misfortune to have one man 
killed and two wounded. 

Sir Sidney's official despatch was as follows : 

" Diamond) at anchor off the Island of St. Marcou, 

July 5, 1795. 

"Sin, In pursuance of the orders of the Lords 
Commissioners of the Admiralty, I sailed from St. 
Helen's on the evening of the 1st instant, and 
stretched across the Channel towards Cherbourg, 
his Majesty's ships Syren and Sybille, also four 
gunboats, in company. On looking into that 
port, we found that one of the three frigates which 
had been seen there the last time we were off, was 
missing : the master of a neutral vessel, just come 
out, informed me that she had sailed to the east- 
ward, and I accordingly proceeded in questfif her. 
Going round Cape Barfleur, we saw two ships, 



86 MEMOIRS OF 

one of them having the appearance of the frigate 
in question, at anchor under the sand, and im- 
mediately made sail towards them ; we soon after 
saw a convoy coming alongshore within the 
islands of Marcou. The wind dying away, 
and the ebb-tide making against me, I was 
obliged to anchor, and had the mortification of 
seeing the enemy's vessels drift with the tide under 
the batteries of La Hogue, without being able to 
approach them. At four o'clock in the morning 
of yesterday, the breeze springing up with the 
first of the flood, I made the signal to the squadron, 
and weighed and worked up towards the enemy's 
ships, which we observed warping closer inshore 
under the battery on La Hogue Point. 

"As we approached, I made the signal for 
each ship to engage as she came up with the 
enemy, and at nine o'clock began the action in 
the Diamond. The other frigates, having been 
sent in chase in different quarters the day before, 
had not been able to anchor so near as we did, 
and were consequently to leeward, as were two of 
the gunboats. The Fearless arid the Attack were 
with me, and their commanders conducted them 
in a manner to merit my approbation, by draw- 
ing off the attention of the enemy's gunboats, of 
which they had also two. The small vessels of 
the convoy ran into the pier before the town ; 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 87 

the largest, a corvette, continued warping into 
shoal water; we followed, engaging her arid the 
batteries for three quarters of an hour, when, 
finding that the enemy's ship had attained a 
situation where it was impossible to get fairly 
alongside of her without grounding likewise, and 
the pilots being positive as to the necessity of 
hauling off from the shore, where the water had 
already begun to ebb, I acquiesced under their 
representations, and wore ship. The Syren and 
Sibylle were come up by this time, and the zeal 
and ability of their commanders would, I am per- 
suaded, have carried them into action with some 
effect, if I had not annulled the signal to engage, 
which I did, to prevent them getting disabled, as 
we were, when we had no longer a prospect of 
making ourselves masters of the enemy's ship. 
She had suffered in proportion, and we now see 
her lying on her broadside with her yards and 
topmasts struck, but, I am sorry to say, so much 
sheltered by the reef which runs off from La 
Hogue Point, that I cannot indulge a hope of her 
being destroyed. 

" In justice to my officers and ship's company, 
I must add, that their conduct was such as gave me 
satisfaction. I received the most able assistance 
from the first lieutenant, Mr. Pine, and Mr. 
Wilkie, the master, in working the ship, on the 



88 MEMOIRS OF 

precision of which everything depended, circum- 
stanced as we were with respect to the shoals 
and the enemy. The guns of the main-deck 
were well served under the direction of Lieu- 
tenants Pearson and Sandsbury, and the men 
were cool and collected. 

" No officer was hurt ; but I am sorry to say 
that I have lost one of the best quartermasters 
in the ship, Thomas Gullen, killed, and two sea- 
men wounded ; the enemy fired high, or we 
should have suffered more materially from their 
red-hot shot, the marks of which were visible in 
the rigging. We have shifted our fore and main 
topmasts, which, with two topsail-yards, were 
shot through ; and having repaired our other 
more trifling damages, I shall proceed in the 
attainment of the objects of the cruise. Fishing- 
boats, with which we have had an intercourse, 
confirm all other accounts of distress for want of 
provisions, and the consequent discontent in this 
distracted country. 

" 1 have the honour, &c. 

" W. SIDNEY SMITH." 

" Evan Nepean, Esq." 

There is but little in this despatch worthy of 
notice, but as a sample of this sort of composition. 
The skirmish was itself trifling, and the service it 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 89 

rendered to the country but small. It evinces, 
however, an indomitable purpose of effecting 
everything within the reach of human power, 
and is, to our eyes, very valuable on account of 
the mention of his quartermaster. It is usual, in 
these chronicles of slaughter, to record the deaths 
of the petty officers and seamen, in the mass only. 
The exemption to this rule is very honourable 
to Sir Sidney Smith even on so slight an oc- 
casion as was afforded to him by this letter of 
service. Honours, rewards, and distinctions 
should be scattered more liberally among the 
foremast men. 

Very shortly after, as the accuracy of the Eng- 
lish charts of parts of the coasts of Normandy 
was much doubted, Captain Sir Sidney Smith 
made very numerous soundings, and minute ob- 
servations on the nature of the ground over which 
the tides of this part of the Channel so impetu- 
ously rush. By these laudable exertions, the 
Admiralty charts were brought very nearly into 
a state of perfection. He also, about this time, 
by the means of his boats, took possession of the 
small islands of St. Marcou, situate about four 
miles distance from the same coast. Though 
there was nothing apparently very splendid in 
this conquest, and the surface of territory added 
to the British dominions not very extensive, yet 



90 MEMOIRS OF 

it proved a very useful acquisition, as it afforded 
a point from whence, a little time afterwards, a 
regular communication was established with the 
French royalists. 

In this year nothing of moment occurred 
until the latter end of August, when Captain 
Sidney Smith fell in with and gave chase to the 
French corvette La Nationale, of two-and-twenty 
guns, which, in endeavouring to elude the pur- 
suit of the Diamond amid the labyrinth of rocks 
before Treguier, found the fate that she en- 
deavoured to avoid. In hugging the reefs too 
closely, she struck on the Roanna. The breeze 
was fresh, and the eddying and foaming waters 
toiled among the crags, and flung its waves 
completely over the rock-fettered vessel. She 
was a beautiful craft, and for some time seemed 
to brave, with impunity, the endless assaults of the 
angry seas. But her doom had gone forth, and, 
straining and groaning terribly, gave unequivo- 
cal signs of approaching dissolution. It was then 
that repentance came too late upon the unhappy 
crew, for having preferred the insidious and 
treacherous asylum of rocks and crags to the 
generosity of a brave enemy. 

In this situation, and whilst she was getting 
out her boats, the devoted corvette filled and fell 
over. Had national law and the usages of war 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 91 

been strictly adhered to, Sidney Smith would 
have been justified in leaving the enemy to their 
fate, who had thus, to avoid capture, all but 
wantonly destroyed their ship : at least, upon the 
mildest construction, he had sufficient cause not 
to risk the lives of his own seamen in a hazard- 
ous attempt to save those of his enemies. But 
these considerations weighed but lightly with his 
chivalrous feeling of humanity. The boats of the 
Diamond were soon amidst the boiling surf, and 
alongside of the separating vessel. Her own 
boats had already taken on board a considerable 
part of her crew ; and those of Captain Smith's 
frigate were only able to save nine. 

The French captain was washed from the 
wreck, and perished but a few seconds before the 
British boats were alongside his vessel. More 
than twenty of the French experienced a similar 
fate. The swell was tremendous, and in a very 
short time not a vestige of the wreck was to be 
seen. The sea was so much agitated that the 
Diamond, in waiting for her boats, was forced to 
come to single anchor in the offing. 

On the 17th of March, 1796, (the following 
year,) this enterprising commander having re- 
ceived intelligence that a small squadron of 
armed vessels, consisting of one corvette, four 
brigs, two sloops, and three luggers, had taken 



92 MEMOIRS OF 

shelter in the small fort of Herqui, near Cape 
Trehel, he immediately, with his own frigate, the 
Diamond, the Liberty man-of-war brig, and the 
Aristocrat cutter, repaired to this place. The 
channel leading to this small port is narrow and 
intricate, and strongly defended by all the art of 
fortification. However, this formidable array of 
defence was seen only to be despised. The ships 
under the command of Sir Sidney Smith stood 
boldly in, and commenced cannonading the bat- 
teries, whilst Lieutenant Pine of the Diamond, 
with a party of seamen, and Lieutenant Carter of 
the same ship, with a party of marines, under 
the cover of the fire, stormed and most gallantly 
carried these defences. In this desperate service 
Lieutenant Pine was seriously, and Lieutenant 
Carter mortally, wounded. The French vessels 
were all burned, with the exception of one of the 
luggers, which kept up its fire to the last. The 
corvette was a vessel of some force, mounting 
sixteen guns, and was named L'Etourdie. The 
loss of the English in this attack was two sea 
men killed and five wounded, exclusive of the 
officers of whom we have before spoken a loss 
wonderfully small, considering the arduous nature 
of the service performed, and the strength of the 
obstacles to be overcome. We subjoin Sir Sid- 
ney's despatch on the occasion. 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 93 

"Diamond, off Cape Trehel, March 18, 1796. 
" Sir, Having received information that the 
armed vessels detached by the Prince of Bouillon 
had chased a convoy, consisting of a corvette, 
three luggers, four brigs, and two sloops, into 
Herqui, I proceeded off that port to reconnoitre 
their 'position and sound the channel, which I 
found very narrow and intricate. I succeeded, 
however, in gaining a knowledge of these points 
sufficient to determine me to attack them in the 
Diamond without loss of time, and without wait- 
ing for the junction of any part of the squadron, 
lest the enemy should fortify themselves still 
farther on our appearance. Lieutenant M' Kin- 
ley of the Liberty brig, and Lieutenant Gosset of 
the Aristocrat lugger, joined me off the Cape, 
and, though not under my orders, very hand- 
somely offered their services, which I accepted, 
as small vessels were essentially necessary in such 
an operation. The permanent fortifications for 
the defence of the bay are two batteries on a high 
rocky promontory. We observed the enemy to 
be very busily employed in mounting a detached 
gun on a very commanding point of the entrance. 
At one o'clock yesterday afternoon this gun 
opened upon us as we passed; the Diamond's 
fire, however, silenced it in eleven minutes. The 
others opened on us as we came round the point, 



94 MEMOIRS OF 

and their commanding situation giving them a 
decided advantage over a ship in our position, I 
judged it necessary to adopt another mode of 
attack, and accordingly detached the marines and 
boarders to land behind the point, and take the 
batteries in the rear. As the boats approached 
the beach, they met with a warm reception, and 
a temporary check, from a body of troops drawn 
up to oppose their landing ; the situation was 
critical. The ship being exposed to a most galling 
fire, and in intricate pilotage, with a considerable 
portion of her men thus detached, I pointed out 
to Lieutenant Pine the apparent practicability of 
climbing the precipice in front of the batteries, 
which he readily perceived, and with an alacrity 
and bravery of which I have had many proofs 
in the course of our service together, he under- 
took and executed this hazardous service, landed 
immediately under the guns, and rendered him- 
self master of them before the column of troops 
could regain the heights. The fire from the ship 
was directed to cover our men in this operation ; 
it checked the enemy in their advancement, and 
the re- embarkation was effected, as soon as the 
guns were spiked, without the loss of a man, 
though we have to regret Lieutenant Carter, of 
the marines, being dangerously wounded on this 
occasion. The enemy's guns, three twenty-four 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 95 

pounders, being silenced and rendered useless 
for the time, we proceeded to attack the corvette 
and the other armed vessels, which had, by this 
time, opened their fire on us to cover the opera- 
tion of hauling themselves on shore. The Dia- 
mond had anchored as close to the corvette as 
her draught of water would allow. The Liberty 
brig was able to approach near, and on this oc- 
casion I cannot omit to mention the very gallant 
and judicious manner in which Lieutenant 
M'Kinley, her commander, brought this vessel 
into action, profiting by her light draught of 
water to follow the corvette close. The enemy's 
fire soon slackened, and the crew being observed 
to be making for the shore on the English 
colours being hoisted on the hill, I made the 
signal for the boats, manned and armed, to board, 
directing Lieutenant Gosset in the lugger to cover 
them. This service was executed by the party 
from the shore, under the direction of Lieutenant 
Pine, in a manner that does them infinite credit, 
and him every honour as a brave man and an 
able officer. The enemy's troops occupied the 
high projecting rocks all round the vessels, 
whence they kept up an incessant fire of musketry, 
and the utmost that could be effected at the mo- 
ment was to set fire to the corvette (named 
L'Etourdie, of sixteen guns, twelve-pounders, on 



96 MEMOIRS OF 

the main-deck), and one of the merchant brigs, 
since, as the tide fell, the enemy pressed down 
on the sands close to the vessels ; Lieutenant 
Pine therefore returned on board, having received 
a severe contusion on the breast from a musket- 
ball. As the tide rose again, it became prac- 
ticable to make a second attempt to burn the 
remaining vessels ; Lieutenant Pearson was ac- 
cordingly detached for that purpose with the 
boats, and I am happy to add, his gallant exer- 
tions succeeded to the utmost of my hopes, not- 
withstanding the renewed and heavy fire of 
musketry from the shore. This fire was returned 
with great spirit and evident good effect ; and I 
was much pleased with the conduct of Lieutenant 
Gosset in the hired lugger, and Mr. Knight in 
the Diamond's launch, who covered the approach 
and retreat of the boats. The vessels were all 
burnt, except an armed lugger which kept up 
her fire to the last. The wind and tide suiting 
at ten at night to come out of the harbour again, 
we weighed and repassed the Point of Herqui, 
from which we received a few shot, the enemy 
having found means to restore one of the guns 
to activity. Our loss, as appears by the enclosed 
return, is trifling, considering the nature of the 
enterprise, and the length of time we were ex- 
posed to the enemy's fire. Theirs, I am per- 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 97 

suaded, must have been very great, from the 
numbers within the range of the shot and shells. 
The conduct of every officer and man under my 
command meets with my warmest approbation. 
It would be superfluous to particularise any others 
than those I have named : suffice it to say, the 
characteristic bravery and activity of British 
seamen never were more conspicuous. Lieute- 
nant Pine will have the honour to present their 
Lordships with the colours which he struck on 
the battery, and I beg leave to recommend him 
particularly to their Lordships, as a most merito- 
rious officer. 

" I have the honour to be, &c. 

"W. SIDNEY SMITH. 
" Evan Nepean, Esq. Secretary to the Admiralty." 

A return of the killed and wounded belonging to 
his Majesty's Ship Diamond, in the three At- 
tacks of the Enemy's Batteries and Shipping in 
Herqui, the 1th of March, 1796. 
" Killed two seamen. Wounded First Lieu- 
tenant Horace Pine, Lieutenant Carter of the 
Marines, and five seamen. 

"W. S. SMITH." 

This feat is one of those acts of daring, almost 
peculiar to the British navy, that success only 
VOL. i. H 



98 MEMOIRS OF 

seems to justify. The actual gain to the English 
cause, and the positive detriment to the enemy, 
seem almost trifling when compared with the 
risk. As glory is generally great as to the mag- 
nitude of the act, and a defeat in this case would 
have been inglorious in the extreme, we must ex- 
amine more deeply into the question before we can 
properly appreciate small but heroical acts like 
the above. It is in their moral effect on the 
enemy on the one hand, and on our national 
character on the other, that we must look for their 
excellence. If a nation supposes that its foe will 
dare everything, that foe will prove little short of 
what it has the credit for. As far as regards the 
nation in whose favour is the presentiment, that 
nation will be in general victorious, although 
the force opposed to it be reckoned superior ; and 
should this over-confidence produce a rashness of 
action that entails defeat, the victory will be so 
dearly sold, that victors will be cautious not again 
to reap such another victory. 

This line of argument more forcibly applies 
to the naval than to the military service. The 
latter depends more upon combination, strategy, 
and previous arrangement, and the calculation 
of chances enters much less into the plan of 
operations. But, in a naval engagement, how 
much depends upon accident ! A flaw of wind, 






SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 99 

a stray shot, one person deficient in his duty, 
and all is lost, save honour. Be it remembered 
always, that seamen fight over, and almost in 
contact with, their magazines. Truly it is a 
mighty game of chance, but a game that is sure 
to be lost for want of skill, and yet, with the 
greatest skill, may be gloriously lost for the want 
of fortune. It seems, then, most wise to dare 
all, but dare wisely ; and few, nay none, have 
been more wise in their daring than Sir Sidney 
Smith. 



H 



100 MEMOIRS OF 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Sir Sidney Smith's personal appearance at this time Cuts 
out a French lugger near Havre Is drifted with his 
prize up the Seine With his party is captured Specu- 
lations of the French upon his conduct. 

AT this period, when the Diamond came into 
harbour to refit for service after her various 
cruises, Sir Sidney Smith used frequently to come 
up to London, and mingle with the abounding 
festivities of the metropolis. Though he had his 
peculiarities, yet, with many and strong temp- 
tations, he might justly be denominated " a 
steady man." At this time he was decidedly 
handsome, and, though not tall, of a compact, 
well-built, symmetrical frame, with a dark and 
somewhat Hebraical countenance, and a profu- 
sion of jet-black curling hair. Notwithstanding 
the fierce bravery of his character, his features 
were always remarkable for a degree of refine- 
ment, not often found either in the pale student 






SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 101 

or the silken courtier. In his character, mind 
predominated. 

He had his singularities, and where is the 
thorough-bred seaman who has not? He had 
himself trained a beautiful and docile horse into 
an amusing playmate, as well as a valuable ser- 
vant. When told to give a prance for " King 
George," he would rear on his hind legs, and dance 
like a well-educated dog. When requested to pay 
the like compliment to Bonaparte, he would take 
the request as an insult; stiffen out his limbs 
into an attitude of defiance, and snort indig- 
nantly. When mounting his favourite Buce- 
phalus at the door of his hotel, Captain Smith 
would do it in the most approved style of the 
fashionable equestrians of the day, and preserve 
all the proprieties of equitation, until he was 
fairly clear of the suburbs. Then would he fling 
the stirrups across the back of his horse, settle 
himself sailor-fashion in his saddle, and ride as 
if he were chasing the wind, and the wind-chas- 
ing promises of amendment. 

We are now approaching one of the principal 
events of our hero's life ; but our friends must 
not suppose that we use the term hero in the 
novel, but in the historical, acceptation of the 
word. This act, which terminated so unfortu- 
nately for him, seems to have been of a nature 



102 MEMOIRS OF 

much less hazardous than that which we have 
just narrated, which took place off Herqui, and 
to have been planned with scientific foresight; 
yet the results were not only disastrous to our 
gallant commander, but also highly detrimen- 
tal to the interests of his country, in depriving 
it, for a length of time, of his invaluable ser- 
vices. On the 8th of March, being near the 
shore off Havre, with his boats, on a reconnois- 
sance, he fell in with and took possession of a 
French lugger privateer, which, by the strong 
influx of the tide, was, with its captors and their 
boats, carried a considerable way up the Seine, 
and far beyond the numerous forts. Thus un- 
pleasantly situated, it may be fairly said, in the 
interior of the country, he found himself in a 
situation not very dissimilar from that of the re- 
nowned nephew of Gil Perez. 

Thus entrapped, Sir Sidney Smith remained dur- 
ing the whole night. The first breaking of the 
morning presented to the French a very curious and 
unaccustomed picture. There lay in the middle of 
their own river the long black hull of the lugger, 
lately theirs, in tow by a string of English boats, 
the crews of which were pulling with a strength 
and energy that British seamen only can display. 
Great was the Gallic commotion. Amid the in- 
cessant crowing of their national cocks, which 



Sill SIDNEY SMITH. L03 

were doing their matutinal duty this fine spring 
morning, in announcing the commencement of 
another day, was heard the clamour of the na- 
tional guard, the shouting of the peasantry on 
the river, and the shriller cries of the females, 
mingled with the baying of innumerable dogs, 
and the calling of the canonniers to each other, 
as they rushed into their various forts and un- 
limbered the guns. 

In this crisis, the enemy seems to have wanted 
neither courage nor conduct ; for in addition to 
the fire from the batteries, which played upon 
the boats and the prize, several gunboats and 
other armed vessels attacked this little party, 
and, in less than an hour, another lugger, of 
force superior to the one captured, was warped 
out and made to engage her late consort. This 
unequal fight lasted a considerable time, although 
Sir Sidney Smith was exposed to the fire of much 
heavier metal, and had, at the same time, to 
guard the captive Frenchmen. Never was a 
combat more unequal, or an unequal combat 
more obstinately sustained. At this period our 
officer seems to have been gifted with a charmed 
life, for the grape-shot was poured into his vessel 
literally in showers. After having, of his little 
force, seen eleven men put hors de combat, that 
is to say, four killed and seven badly wounded, 



104 MEMOIRS OF 

he had to undergo that severest of mortifications, 
to haul down the English colours that had been 
floating over the French, and to render up him- 
self, his boats, his prize, and his companions 
prisoners of war, to the number of somewhere 
about twenty. 

As all this passed fully in the view of the 
remaining officers and seamen of the Diamond, 
they were extremely mortified at not being able 
to render their captain and their companions the 
least assistance. They did, however, all that 
they could. They sent in a flag of truce to 
Havre, requesting to know if their highly-valued 
captain was unwounded, and entreating for him 
every indulgence compatible with his present 
unfortunate situation. The reply was courteous, 
and full of promise ; but the courtesy was hollow, 
and the promise shamefully broken, as a detail 
of the indignities to which Sir Sidney was sub- 
sequently exposed will fully exemplify. 

So daring was this act, and so little were the 
apparent advantages to be gained by the risk, 
that the French could not well understand it, 
and assigned a thousand contradictory motives for 
this conduct, not one of them, probably, the true 
one. We have stated the facts as given to the 
world officially by Sir Sidney. There may have 
been some deep political design in thus ventur- 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 105 

ing into " the bowels of the land " some oc- 
cult manosuvre that it would be treachery to 
reveal. 

Among other vague surmises of the French, 
was one, that he himself, or in the person of 
Monsieur T., was on an extensive, and to the 
French dangerous espionage, and under this im- 
pression the French at first confined him in the 
Temple as a spy. How they could have come to 
this conclusion is somewhat difficult to deter- 
mine, seeing that he came into Havre, though 
on a small scale, attended with all " the pomp 
and circumstance of war." 

So serious, however, did Sir Sidney find this 
conviction on the minds of those who then ruled 
the destinies of the French, that our hero thought 
it necessary to appeal to the good sense and ge- 
nerosity of Bonaparte, on his return from Italy ; 
but even he, who, when not crossed in his am- 
bitious views, had no deficiency of generosity and 
compassion, found the circumstances, as they 
were generally represented, so strong against 
him, and the manner of his capture so ambigu- 
ous, that he would not interfere in the prisoner's 
favour. 

Others, who knew that he was actually taken 
in open war, with the command of men with 
arms in their hands, and in actual possession of 



106 MEMOIRS OF 

a capture, became ingenious in other explana- 
tions, which appear to us equally ridiculous and 
remote from the truth. Some said that it was to 
win a foolish bet, others that it was a female 
attraction ; and not a few, for an overwhelming 
desire to go to the theatre at Havre. That he 
was taken in a very singular position is certain, 
but we believe ours to be the true account of the 
matter. 

His justly deserved fame : his unceasing vigi- 
lance, and his courage bordering on rashness, had 
rendered him peculiarly obnoxious to the revolu- 
tionised nation, and the French Directors showed 
the respect they felt for his heroism by depart- 
ing from the established system, consecrated 
by the law of nations, which humanely prescribes 
an exchange of prisoners during the continu- 
ance of war. Captain Sir Sidney Smith was 
not to be exchanged. He was conveyed to Paris, 
and confined in the Temple for the space of two 
years a time truly dreadful when spent in rigid 
incarceration. 

It would not be foreign to the subject, were 
we to pour out the vials of our indignation upon 
such unworthy and dastardly conduct as was then 
exhibited by these soi-disant renovators of human 
institutions, the republican French authorities. 
But abhorrent as were their proceedings towards 



Sill SIDNEY SMITH. 107 

Sir Sidney Smith and several other distinguished 
captives, it was mercy and beneficence compared 
with that which they displayed to the best and 
bravest of their own countrymen. Truly the 
regeneration of the human race was attempted in 
the brazen furnace of cruelty, and fed with the 
flames of democratic and dastardly revenge. 

The above-mentioned little skirmish, so awkward 
in its results to Sir Sidney Smith, furnishes us with 
an example of that which we have just advanced, 
that in naval operations the best conduct is 
often controlled and baffled by chance. When 
the privateer lugger was at first taken possession 
of, there was a steady breeze blowing from off 
the land, but before things could be well arranged 
on board of her by the captors, there fell a dead 
calm, and she began to drift rapidly up the 
Seine. It may be urged that she ought to have 
been abandoned after having been scuttled. But 
Sir Sidney had a right also to 'depend upon the 
chapter of chances. The night before him was 
long, and the tide would certainly turn, and the 
wind probably change. We do not think that 
there is a British officer in the service who would 
not have acted in a similar manner. 



108 MEMOIRS OF 



CHAPTER IX. 

Sir Sidney Smith badly treated as a prisoner of war Re- 
moved to Paris, to the prison called the Abbaye Placed 
under unwarrantable restrictions Opens a communication 
wiih some ladies to aid his escape. 

WE are now to consider our subject as a captive, 
and view him in the struggle against the oppres- 
sion and tyranny of the French authorities. We 
see him no longer controlling and directing the 
energies of hundreds of seam en- warriors, with 
the boundless oce'an for the scene of action the 
freest of the free, and with none other restraint, 
either upon deed or will, than the prudential 
dictates of his own magnanimous mind. No, for 
a space, we must view him no more in this glo- 
rious light, but consider him as concentrating all 
his mental energies within the walls of a strongly 
guarded prison, waging with unlimited power 
the war only of the mind, yet still glorious, still 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 109 

unshaken and unconquered. How many gal- 
lant men who are heroes on the field and on 
the wave, are less than women in the cell ! If 
these spirits be not fed with the atmosphere of 
liberty, they pine and dwindle away until the 
light of their lives expires, and they go mad or 
die. After all, the dungeon is the true test 
place for greatness of soul. Infinitely more 
easy is it to be heroic on the scaffold or in the 
breach, for these are but the efforts of the mo- 
ment, than to remain for years in a prison unsub- 
dued. How Sir Sidney Smith bore this terrible 
ordeal will be shortly seen. Were we writing a 
romance instead of a biography, the two years 
of Sir Sidney Smith's confinement would amply 
supply us with exciting materials sufficient for 
two volumes. Fears, hopes, despondency, even 
love, were all in their turn brought into play. 
When Sir Sidney was captured, he was accom- 
panied by his secretary and a gentleman of the 

name of T , who had emigrated, and was 

in constant attendance on Sir Sidney in the 
hope of serving the royalist cause. Thus sud- 
denly and unexpectedly finding himself a cap- 
tive in a country where he would be looked upon 
as a traitor and executed as a spy, the commo- 
dore arranged with him that he should assume 
the character of his servant ; and so well did he 



110 MEMOIRS OF 

act up to the disguise, that he was never sus- 
pected for a moment. He was called John, by 
his supposititious master, and Mr. T.'s assimila- 
tion of the menial proved to be perfect. 

At Havre, Sir Sidney was treated with the 
most unjustifiable rigour, subjected to insult, 
taunted with being a spy, and threatened with a 
trial by a military commission. So obnoxious 
had he become by his activity, and the detriment 
he had been to his enemies, that they would have 
gladly hung him, had not the fear of retaliation 
prevented this mean vengeance. He was, how- 
ever, a prisoner much too valuable to be per- 
mitted to remain so near the sea- coast, and the 
French government accordingly ordered his re- 
moval to Paris. In that metropolis, he was at 
first confined to the prison called the Abbaye, and, 
with his two companions in adversity, kept under 
the most rigorous surveillance as well as the closest 
confinement. 

But no external circumstances could paralyse 
the activity of a mind such as Sir Sidney's. 
Escape formed the constant object of his thoughts. 
He did not confine himself to idle wishes, but set 
about deeds. His consultations with his fellow 
sufferers were incessant, but such was the rigour 
of his custodiers that, for a length of time, no- 
thing feasible could be suggested. The window 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. Ill 

of their common sitting-room looked into the 
street, and thus brought liberty, though not 
within their reach, in a most tantalising proxi- 
mity. Looking out thus continually upon the 
general thoroughfare of their fellow men held 
out to them, without cessation, illusive hopes. 
Indeed, they felt certain that, sooner or later, 
this circumstance would aid them in their 
escape. 

Whenever there is anything remarkably dan- 
gerous and remarkably chivalrous to perform, 
(the usual deeds of war excepted,) we are sure to 
find woman the principal agent. Three ladies, 
who could see the prisoners from the windows of 
their apartment, by the blessed feminine intui- 
tion immediately took a lively interest in their 
fate. Their ingenuity kept pace with their ge- 
nerous sympathy. They rapidly learned to ex- 
change intelligence with the objects of their soli- 
citude by the means of signals, arid a regular cor- 
respondence immediately ensued. 

So unceasing and lynx-eyed was the vigilance 
to which every action of Sir Sidney Smith 
was subjected, that he was forced to adopt a 
very novel sort of telegraph, wherewith to com- 
municate with his fair correspondents. It was 
the catching and destroying flies upon the dif- 
ferent squares of glass that admitted light to his 



] 12 MEMOIRS OF 

apartment. Thus several minute lives were sa- 
crificed, before the imprisoned hero could well 
rid himself of a single idea. We have read of 
the great waste of fly-life for the amusement of 
a Roman emperor, but the necessity of this 
wholesale slaughter on the part of the gallant 
Sir Sidney must form his apology. 

These ladies made the proposition themselves, 
to do all that lay in their power to aid them in 
their escape ; an offer, we may be sure, that Sir 
Sidney accepted with an eager gratitude, and 
they instantly began operations in his behalf. 

Before the stern moralist condemns these wo- 
manly exertions in favour of the unfortunate on 
the score of the want of patriotism, it must be 
remembered that the dominant party in France 
was not then the most numerous, and that there 
was virtue in a cherished, though secret, loyalty 
to the vanquished royal cause. They had not, 
however, the reward of success for their ceaseless 
exertions, and the enormous expenses to which 
they freely subjected themselves. They conti- 
nually contrived to elude the vigilance of Sir 
Sidney's keepers. On both sides borrowed names 
were used, taken from the Grecian Mythology, 
so that the three prisoners were in direct corre- 
spondence with three of the Muses, Thalia, Mel- 
pomene, and Clio. 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 113 

But all their exertions were unavailing, all 
their little plans frustrated. The only good that 
they were able to effect, was feeding and sup- 
porting the minds of their proteges with that 
most delicious of nutriments, hope. Scheme 
after scheme failed, and in the midst of a very 
plausible one, Sir Sidney and his companions 
were suddenly removed into the Temple. 

But the walls of the Temple were not more 
impervious to them than had been those of the 
Abbaye. They soon contrived to renew their 
correspondence, and not a day passed that did 
not find them provided with some new plan 
for escape. The captive commodore, at first, 
accepted them all with eagerness, but mature 
reflection soon convinced him that they were as 
visionary as they were generous. In the first 
place, he was resolved not to leave his secretary 
behind him, and his resolution was still stronger 
in favour of the soi-disant John. The discovery 
of the real character of the latter would have 
been to him an instant and ignominious death, 
and his safety was much dearer to his master 
than his own emancipation. 

Now this John was a very likely, pleasant, and 
clever fellow, and for his facetious qualities, and 
his general pleasing deportment, was allowed a 
considerable degree of liberty in the Temple. 

VOL. I. I 



114 MEMOIRS OF 

He was highly, almost extravagantly, dressed as 
an English jockey, and well knew how to assume 
the manners befitting the character. But we can- 
not forbear remarking, in this place, on the stolidity 
of the French Directory, who took a personal in- 
terest in the retention of Sir Sidney Smith, and 
on the stupidity of the officials whom they had 
selected to enforce their views. Indeed, we can 
only account for it on the supposition of their 
profound ignorance of English manners. That 
a buck-skinned, booted, and spurred jockey 
should accompany Sir Sidney Smith, and be 
made prisoner with him in a cutting-out expedi- 
tion under the batteries of Havre, must exhibit 
a very singular specimen of the genus, sailor ; 
and might well make Messeurs les Concernes, in 
viewing such an article, exclaim with the miserly 
father, in Moliere's excellent comedy, 

" Que le diable fait-il dans cette galere ?" 

But, however, not only was John so inexpli- 
cably in cette galbre, but he was taken out of it, 
and, as we have seen, put in prison, and in prison 
he was soon completely at home. Every one was 
fond of him. He fraternised with the turnkeys, 
and made love to the governor's daughter. As 
the little English jockey was not supposed to 
have received an education the most profound, he 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 115 

was compelled to study how sufficiently to muti- 
late and Anglicise his own mother tongue. He 
soon accomplished this like a clever farce-player. 
Indeed, he acted so well, that he almost overdid 
his part ; for, in fraternising with the turnkeys he 
would sometimes get drunk with them, and in 
making love to the governor's daughter he pro- 
mised her marriage, in which promise her faith 
was strong, which was very naughty in John, as 
he had long been a married man. 

It may be said that, at this time, all the pri- 
soners seemed as if they were acting a comedy ; 
for John appeared very eager and attentive to his 
fictitious master, and always spoke to him in the 
most respectful manner. In return for this, Sir 
Sidney repeatedly scolded this jockeyfied emigrant 
with great unction and gravity ; and so well did 
they both play their parts, that Sir Sidney con- 
fesses that he sometimes ceased to simulate, and 
found himself forgetting the friend in the master, 
and most seriously rating his valet soundly. 

At length John's wife, Madame de T. arrived 
at Paris, and immediately commenced making 
the most uncommon exertions for the liberation 
of the three prisoners. She is represented to 
have been a most interesting lady, with a consi- 
derable share of personal beauty. She dared 
not, however, fearing discovery, come herself to 

i 2 



116 MEMOIRS OF 

the Temple, but from a neighbouring house she 
had the satisfaction of daily beholding her hus- 
band, as he paced to and fro in the courts of the 
Temple a feeling in which her captive partner 
fully participated. 

In the attempts for Sir Sidney's liberation, it 
appears that the ladies always took the initiative. 
Madame de T. devised and communicated a plan to 
a sensible and courageous young person of her ac- 
quaintance, who acceded immediately to it without 
hesitation. This convert to the cause of our hero 
was also influenced, like the three Muse-named 
ladies, by sentiments of what he conceived to be the 
true patriotism, for, in giving his adhesion to the 
cause of the prisoners, he said to Madame de T. 
" I will serve Sir Sidney Smith with pleasure, 
because I believe that the English government 
intend to restore Louis XVIII. to the throne. 
But if the commodore is to fight against France, 
and not for the King of France, Heaven forbid 
that I should assist." 

At this time, there were several agents of the 
emigrant king who were confined in the Temple, 
and to effect whose liberation a M. 1'Oiseau was 
assiduously labouring. It was therefore proposed 
that all should go off together, that is to say, Sir 
Sidney's party and the royalist agents. One of 
these, a M. la Vilheurnois, being condemned to 



Sill SIDNEY SMITH. 117 

only one year's confinement, was resolved not to 
entail upon himself any more evils, but quietly to 
remain until he should be relieved by the due 
course of his sentence ; but the two others, Bro- 
thien and Duverne de Presle, had agreed to join 
in the attempt. 

For some unexplained reasons, this plan com- 
pletely failed, not improbably owing to the trea- 
chery or the misconduct of M. Le Presle ; but of 
this we speak doubtingly. However, it is in these 
words that Sir Sidney Smith himself inculpates 
him : " Had our scheme succeeded, this Duverne 
would not, perhaps, have ceased to be an honest 
man ; for, till then, he had conducted himself as 
such. His condition must now be truly deplora- 
ble, for 1 do not think him formed by nature for 
the commission of crimes." 



118 MEMOIRS OF 



CHAPTER X. 

Another attempt to escape made by boring The general 
disaffection to the Directorial Government of France 
The failure of the attempt to escape The urbanity of the 
jailer of the Temple Anecdotes concerning him. 

As M. C. 1'Oiseau was indefatigable in making 
his preparations, they were soon in such a state of 
forwardness, that it was immediately resolved the 
attempt should be made. As all the arrangements 
seemed the best that could be adopted under 
existing circumstances, our gallant officer and his 
companions determined to follow them up to the 
best of their abilities. 

In the cellar that adjoined the prison, it was 
purposed to make an excavation sufficiently wide 
to admit freely the passage of one person, but 
which it would be necessary to make twelve feet 

long. A Mademoiselle D , who generously 

abetted these attempts, in order to mask their 



Sill SIDNEY SMITH. 119 

operations, nobly rejecting every prudential con- 
sideration, carne and resided in the apartments 
over this cellar, of which premises the prisoners' 
confederates had contrived to possess themselves, 
and they were consequently completely at their 
disposal. 

As Mademoiselle D was young and at- 
tractive, the other lodgers in the mansion attri- 
buted to her alone the frequent visits of Charles 
1'Oiseau. The lovers of romantic adventure will 
perceive that here is plot involved within plot, 
and sufficient elements of confusion to form a 
Spanish comedy. 

Everything for some time seemed to proceed 
favourably, and the hopes of the incarcerated 
rose correspondingly. No one unconnected with 
the scheme, residing in the house, had any sus- 
picions of the undermining that was thus actively 

going forward. Miss D also brought with 

her an amiable little child, only seven years of 
age, who was so well tutored that, instead of be- 
traying the secret, she was in the habit of con- 
tinually beating a little drum, with which she 
drowned the noise made by the work of excava- 
tion. 

Hitherto M. FOiseau had alone worked upon 
this hole, and, as he had now laboured a consider- 
able time, he began to fear, very naturally, that 



120 MEMOIRS OF 

he had commenced and driven forward his opera- 
tions much too deeply in the earth ; it was there- 
fore necessary that the wall should be sounded, 
and, for this purpose, an experienced mason was 
requisite. Madame de T. who seems, after all, 
to have acted as the tutelary genius of this esca- 
pade, undertook to procure one an office as de- 
licate as it was dangerous, in times when suspicion 
was so active, and death so closely attendant on 
suspicion. She succeeded, and not only brought 
him, but engaged to detain him in the cellar 
until all the prisoners had effected their liberation, 
which was to take place on that very day. ]Vo 
sooner was this worthy artificer conveyed into the 
cellar, and instructed as to the nature of his ser- 
vices, than he immediately perceived that he 
was to be made the instrument to assist some of 
the victims of the government. However, he 
proceeded without hesitation, and he only stipu- 
lated with the parties employing him in this 
hazardous business, that, if he were arrested, care 
should be taken of his poor children. 

All this must strike every one, that the dis- 
affection to the then government must have been 
though secret from terror, as general, we may 
add, as just. Multitudes were willing to thwart 
its projects, or deal out to it some blow, pro- 
viding there was the probability only of impunity. 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 

It was the concealed labours of the many against 
the despotism of the few. In this view we can- 
not look upon the exertions of those thus aiding 
persons who had so recently been in arms against 
their country to escape, in the light either of 
traitors or unpatriotic conspirators. 

The mason laboured, and found that the exca- 
vation had reached from the cellar to the wall of 
the garden of the Temple ; but instead of finding- 
it to be too low, it proved to be too high. The 
perforation of this wall commenced, and every 
stone was removed with the greatest precaution 
but in vain ! The hopes of months were frus- 
trated in a moment ! The last stones rolled out- 
wards into the garden of the Temple, and fell at 
the feet of the sentinel. The alarm was sounded, 
the guard arrived, and, in a moment, all was 
discovered. Very fortunately, the friends of the 
prisoners had just time to escape, and not one of 
them was taken. 

They had provided for all conjunctures, and had 
so well arranged their measures, that, when the 
commissaries of the Bureau Central came to ex- 
amine the cellar and the rooms above them, they 
found only a few pieces of furniture, trunks filled 
with logs of wood and hay, and some hats deco- 
rated with the tri- coloured cockade, for the use of 
those who had intended their escape, as they had 
in their possession only black ones. 



122 MEMOIRS OF 

After this tantalising failure, when everything 
seemed so auspicious, and everything had been 
so admirably conducted, Sir Sidney Smith 
wrote to Madame de T. to console both her 
and her young friend. Indeed, the latter needed 
every sympathy, for his misery was nearly insup- 
portable at this bitter frustration of his well- 
devised scheme. 

Sir Sidney and his companions were in no 
manner depressed in spirits by this defeat, but 
were continually contriving some new scheme for 
their freedom. Defeat will only discourage weak 
minds ; and the reader must have already disco- 
vered that there was very little of weakness in 
the mind of our hero. These manifold machi- 
nations did not escape the notice of the keeper ; 
but his principal prisoner cared so little about 
his suspicions, that he was frequently so frank as 
to acknowledge that there was good cause for 
them. 

This prince of jailers seems to have met this 
frankness with a corresponding openness, for he 
often said, " Commodore, your friends are de- 
sirous of liberating you, and they only do their 
duty; I also am doing mine in watching you 
more narrowly." 

Though this keeper was a man of the sternest 
severity in act, yet, in manner, he never departed 
from the rules of civility and politeness. He 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 123 

was the preux chevalier of jailers. He treated 
all his captives with as much kindness as his 
sense of duty permitted him to show them, and 
even piqued himself upon his generosity. Va- 
rious and very tempting proposals were made to 
him, but he indignantly rejected them all, and 
merely responded to them by watching his charge 
the more closely. He had very nice notions of 
honour, and though he thought himself too 
humble himself to boast of them, he expected and 
respected them in others. 

One day, as Sir Sidney was dining with him, 
this keeper perceived that his guest regarded an 
open window in the room with all the wistful 
attention of one long imprisoned. Now this win- 
dow opened on the street, and the gaze gave the 
keeper so much uneasiness, that it highly amused 
the commodore. However, not wishing to give 
the good man who behaved so well to him too 
long a probation, he said to him, laughing, " I 
know what you are thinking of; but fear not. 
It is now three o'clock. I will make a truce 
with you till midnight ; and I give you my word 
of honour, until that time, even were the doors 
open, I would not escape. When that hour is 
passed, my promise is at an end, and we are ene- 
mies again." 

" Sir," said he, " your word is a safer bond 



124 MEMOIRS OF 

than my bars or bolts : till midnight, therefore, I 
am perfectly easy." 

This tells highly for both parties nor is this 
all. When they arose from table, the keeper 
took Sir Sidney aside, and said to him, " Com- 
modore, the Boulevard is not far off. If you are 
inclined to take the air, I will conduct you thi- 
ther." This proposition struck the prisoner with 
the utmost astonishment, as he could not con- 
ceive how this man, who, but lately, appeared so 
severe and so uneasy, should thus suddenly come 
to the resolution of making such a proposal. 
Me accepted it, however, and, in the evening, 
they went out. From that time forward, this 
mutual confidence always continued. Whenever 
the distinguished prisoner was desirous to enjoy 
perfect liberty, a suspension of hostilities was 
offered until a certain time, and this was never 
refused by his generous enemy ; but, immediately 
the armistice terminated, his vigilance was unre- 
mitting. Every post was scrupulously examined, 
and every fitful order of the Directory that, at 
times, he should be kept more closely, was en- 
forced with a rigid scrupulosity. 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 125 



CHAPTER XL 

The renewed rigour of Sir Sidney's confinement M. T.'s 
exchange effected The successful plan of escape devised 
Is put in execution Sir Sidney proceeds to Rouen 
Arrives safely in London His reception by his sovereign 
and his countrymen. 

UNDER these circumstances of restraint, Sir 
Sidney again found himself free only to contrive 
and prepare for freedom, and the jailer again to 
treat him with the utmost rigour. Sir Sidney 
did not lack amusement. We are sadly afraid 
that this exquisite race of jailers is extinct. Sir 
Sidney Smith has himself placed upon record 
this man's creed of honour ; we rather think 
that he gave his superiors too much credit. He 
would not have found all prisoners of rank like 
Sir Sidney. It was thus that he frequently ad- 
dressed his captive : " If you were under sen- 
tence of death, I would permit you to go out on 



126 MEMOIRS OF 

your parole, because I should be certain of your 
return. Many very honest prisoners, and I my- 
self among the rest, would not return in the like 
case ; but an officer, and especially an officer of 
distinction, holds his honour dearer than his life. 
I know this to be a fact, commodore, therefore 1 
should be less uneasy if you desired the gates 
always to be open." 

This was just, so far as regarded his chi- 
valrous prisoner, but how prudent as a general 
maxim, let the list of parole-breakers testify. 
This amiable trustiness has called forth the fol- 
lowing remark from our officer, in the accuracy 
of which we implicitly trust. " My keeper was 
right. Whilst I enjoyed mv liberty, I endea- 
voured to lose sight of the idea of my escape ; 
and I should have been averse to employ, for that 
object, means that occurred to my imagination 
during my hours of liberty. One day I received 
a letter containing matters of great importance, 
which I had the strongest desire immediately 
to read; but as the contents related to my in- 
tended deliverance, I asked leave to return to 
my room, and break off the truce. The 
keeper, however, refused, saying, with a laugh, 
that he wanted to take some sleep, and I accor- 
dingly postponed the perusal of my letter till the 
evening." 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 127 

In the midst of these exchanges of courtesy and 
confidence, the Directory again thought proper 
to have Sir Sidney treated with the utmost rigour. 
No opportunity of flight now occurred, and the 
keeper punctually obeyed his orders; and he who, 
on the previous evening had granted him the 
greatest liberty, now doubled the guards in 
order to exercise the greatest vigilance. Cessa- 
tions of hostilities were at end, promenades on 
the Boulevards to be enjoyed only in the ima- 
gination . 

Among the prisoners was a man condemned 
for certain political offences to ten years' confine- 
ment, and who was suspected by the other pri- 
soners of acting in the detestable character of 
a spy on his companions. These suspicions Sir 
Sidney thought well founded, and therefore ex- 
perienced the greatest anxiety on account of his 
disguised friend, John the jockey. From these 
fears he was relieved, for he was so fortunate as, 
soon after, to obtain John's liberty. An exchange 
of prisoners being about to take place, our officer 
was able to obtain for him that which was perti- 
naciously and unjustly refused to himself, getting 
his supposed servant included in the cartel : had 
the shadow of a suspicion existed of his real 
character, he would have been most assuredly de- 



128 MEMOIRS OF 

tained ; yet, luckily, no difficulty arose, and he 
was liberated. When the day of his departure 
arrived, this kind and affectionate friend could 
scarcely be prevailed upon to leave his bene- 
factor and protector, and it was long before he 
yielded to the most urgent entreaties. They 
parted with tears, which were those of unfeigned 
pleasure on the part of Sir Sidney, seeing that 
his friend was leaving a situation of the greatest 
danger. 

In the whole of this part of the transaction 
there is much that is truly comic. The amiable 
jockey was regretted by every one. The turn- 
keys' hearts softened, and their lips opened, for 
they heartily and piously drank a good journey 
to him. The girl he had been courting wept 
bitterly for his departure, whilst her good mother, 
who thought John a very hopeful youth, felt 
fully assured that, one day, she should call him 
her son-in-law. In the midst of all these ludi- 
crous ambiguities, we must say that there was a 
little dash of needless cruelty in the deception 
practised on the confiding girl ; but we must 
wait for the march of improvement extending 
still farther, before the softer sex are fully in- 
cluded in man's laws of honour. 

Sir Sidney had soon the extreme satisfaction 



Sill SIDNEY SMITH. 129 

to learn that his friend had safely arrived in Lon- 
don, and the knowledge of his safety made his 
own captivity the more endurable. 

The commodore would also willingly have 
effected the exchange of his secretary, but that 
estimable gentleman was opposed to all mention 
of it, as he would have looked upon it as an in- 
fraction of that friendship of which he had given 
so many proofs. His principal did not very 
forcibly press the matter, as he, unlike Mr. 
De T., had no other dangers to apprehend 
than those that were common to all prisoners of 
war. 

On the 18th Fructidor of republican France, 
the 4th of September of Christianity, for some 
reasons never fully understood, the rigour of Sir 
Sidney's confinement was still further increased. 
That paragon of jailers, with whom we have be- 
come so well acquainted, and whose name, which 
ought to be immortalised, was Lasne, was sud- 
denly displaced, and his successor immediately 
made the commodore actually a close prisoner. 
Thus were Sir Sidney's hopes of a peace, which 
had just then been much talked of, and of his 
own release, crushed together. He now saw in 
this wanton severity a demonstration in the Di- 
rectory of the most hostile character to the 
English nation, and a new barrier to future ac- 

VOL. I. K 



130 MEMOIRS OF 

commodation thrown up by this cruel treatment 
of distinguished English subjects. 

But, amidst all these present adversities and 
gloomy apprehensions for the future, another 
proposal was made to the gallant captive, which, 
as a last resource, he was resolved to accept. The 
plan was simple, and could not but be effective, if 
wisely conducted. It was merely, by properly 
forged official documents, to order the removal 
of the prisoner to another place of confinement, 
and, in the supposititious transit, to convey him 
first to a place of safety, from whence he might 
ultimately make his escape. A French gentle- 
man, enthusiastically attached to the royal cause, 
a M. de Phelypeaux, whom the reader will again 
meet in these Memoirs, was the author of this 
scheme. As he was a gentleman not only dis- 
tinguished by generosity, but by acumen in 
judgment and activity in conduct, the execu- 
tion of the project was cheerfully confided to 
him. The order for removal having been accu- 
rately imitated, and, by means of a bribe, the 
real stamp of the minister's signature having 
been procured, nothing remained but to find men 
bold and trustworthy enough to simulate the 
necessary characters that should be employed to 
effect the removal. Mr. Phelypeaux and Charles 
TOiseau would have eagerly undertaken this part 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 131 

of the stratagem also, but both being well known, 
and even notorious at the Temple, it was abso- 
lutely necessary to employ others. Messrs B 

and L therefore, both persons of tried cou- 
rage, accepted the office with pleasure and 
alacrity. 

With this forged order they boldly came to 
the Temple, M. B in the disguise of an ad- 
jutant, and M. L as an officer. They pre- 
sented their order, which the keeper having 
pei-used, and of which he carefully examined the 
seal and the minister's signature, he went into 
another room, leaving the two gentlemen in the 
most cruel suspense. After a considerable time, 
which anxiety increased into hours, he returned, 
accompanied by the greffier or register of the 
prison, and ordered Sir Sidney to be sent for. 
When the greffier informed the prisoner of the 
order of the Directory, Sir Sidney pretended to be 
much concerned at it, as it appeared to him to 
argue further persecutions on their part. Hearing 
this, the adjutant assured him in the most serious 
manner, that "the government were very far 
from intending to aggravate his misfortunes, and 
that he would be very comfortable in the place 
to which he was ordered to conduct him." After 
this farcical exhibition, the commodore expressed 

K 2 



132 MEMOIRS OF 

his gratitude to all the servants employed about 
the prison, and then, with a very commen- 
dable despatch, he commenced packing up his 
clothes. 

On his return, all ready for the approaching 
liberty, the greffier remarked that, at least six 
men from the guard must accompany the 
prisoner ; with which precaution the soi-disant 
adjutant coincided, and, without the least ap- 
pearance of confusion, ordered them imme- 
diately to be called out. No sooner, however, 
had he given these orders, than he seemed, on a 
sudden, to have called to his mind the law of 
chivalry and of honour ; so turning abruptly to Sir 
Sidney, he thus addressed him : " Commodore, 
you are an officer I am an officer also. Your 
parole will be sufficient. Give me but that, and 
I have no need of an escort." 

" Sir," replied the prisoner, " if that is suffi- 
cient, I swear on the faith of an officer to accom- 
pany you wherever you choose to conduct 



me." 



Every one applauded these noble sentiments ; 
and the only hardship that Sir Sidney felt in 
doing them sufficient justice, was in the difficulty 
that he found in suppressing his laughter. The 
keeper now asked for a discharge, and the greffier, 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 133 

handing the book to M. B , he boldly signed 

it, with an imposing flourish, " L'Oger, adjutant- 
general.*' 

During these proceedings, Sir Sidney occupied 
the attention of the turnkeys with praises for 
their politeness and urbanity, and loaded them 
with favours, in order that they might have no 
leisure for reflection. The precaution seemed to 
be wholly needless, as they appeared to be think- 
ing of nothing but their own advantage. 

At last these tedious ceremonies were ended, 
and the greffier and the governor accompanied 
the party as far as the second court ; arid their 
suspense was nearly at an end when they found 
the external gate opened to them, through which, 
after a tantalising exchange of punctilio and po- 
liteness, they finally and joyfully passed, and had 
the extreme consolation of hearing it bolted be- 
hind them. 

They instantly entered a hackney coach, and 
the adjutant ordered the coachman to drive to 
the suburb of St. Germain. But this fellow, 
either from his natural stupidity, or from some 
little plot of extortion, drove his vehicle, before 
he had proceeded one hundred yards, against 
a post, broke his wheel, and injured an unfor- 
tunate passenger. This centre- terns immediately 
collected a demonstration of the sovereign people 



134 MEMOIRS OF 

in the shape of an angry crowd, who were 
exasperated at the injury the poor fellow had 
sustained from the misconduct of the coach- 
man. The mob, at this time, was not to be de- 
spised ; so Sir Sidney and his friends, taking their 
portmanteaus in their hands, went off in an 
instant. 

Though they were much noticed by the people, 
the mob, for once, acted justly, confining them- 
selves to the office of abusing the coachman. Not- 
withstanding this fracas, before the party could 
make off, the driver became clamorous for his fare, 

when W , through an inadvertency that might 

have compromised the safety of them all, gave 
the fellow a double louis d'or. Luckily this had 
no ill effects. 

Directly that they quitted the carriage, they 
separated, and Sir Sidney Smith arrived at the 
rendezvous, accompanied only by his secretary 
and M. Phelypeaux, the last-mentioned gentle- 
man having joined them near the prison. Though 
our officer was most anxious to wait for his two 
friends, in order to thank and to take his leave of 
them, M. de Phelypeaux maintained that there 
was not a moment to be lost. He was, there- 
fore, obliged to defer the expression of his 
gratitude until fortune should offer him a bet- 
ter opportunity, and they immediately de- 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 135 

parted for Rouen, at which place a gentle- 
man had made every preparation for their re- 
ception. 

At Rouen, they were obliged to remain several 
days; but as their passports were perfectly regular, 
they did not take much care to conceal them- 
selves, for in the evenings they walked about the 
town, or took the air on the banks of the Seine. 
Finally, everything having been prepared for 
their crossing the Channel, they quitted Rouen 
and reached Havre, from whence they embarked 
in an open boat, and were picked up by the 
Argo, 44, Captain Bower, and landed at Ports- 
mouth ; and, without encountering any further 
danger, Sir Sidney arrived in London with his 
secretary, as well as with M. de Phelypeaux, who 
could not prevail on himself to leave them. 

During our hero's captivity in the Temple, 
Mrs. Cosway, a well-known artist of the day, and 
who afterwards published a poem in four cantos, 
entitled "the Siege of Acre," contrived to obtain 
a sight of Sir Sidney from a window or by some 
other means, and made a sketch of him as he sat 
by the bars of his prison. The head was in 
profile, and bore some resemblance to the origi- 
nal, but the features are of too haggard a contour 
to be acknowledged as an accurate likeness. 
The extraordinary thinness of the figure may be 



1.36 MEMOIRS OF 

accounted for, by the effect of two years' confine- 
ment, during which he was overwhelmed with 
every indignity that oppression could lay upon 
the subject of its displeasure. 

The above is the substance of a quotation 
from a very valuable publication, but it says 
too much. It appears, by the foregoing nar- 
rative, that Sir Sidney had, during the greater 
part of his imprisonment, free intercourse with 
his friends, an unrestricted correspondence, and, 
at intervals, much personal liberty. That he suf- 
fered, at times, most of the miseries of capti- 
vity, is certain, but never to the extent of bringing 
upon him the extreme incarceration for which the 
author of this paragraph would solicit our pity. 
Mrs. Cosway, her picture and her poem, are al- 
most totally forgotten, though her subject is so 
worthy of immortality ; and we have only men- 
tioned this fact, in order to show the intense in- 
terest which everything connected with Sir Sidney 
Smith excited at the time. 

It was in May, 1798, that Sir Sidney so unex- 
pectedly arrived in London, where he was wel- 
comed by the universal congratulations of the 
people. So rigid had been the care with which 
he had been confined, and knowing the value that 
the French Directory placed upon the boast of 
having the most active commodore in the English 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 137 

service in their prison, his arrival was looked 
upon, in some measure, as a miracle, which, at 
first, but few could prevail upon themselves to 
believe. We need not state, that he immediately 
became the first lion of the day. 

His sovereign took the lead in these demonstra- 
tions of interest, and received him with the 
warmest affection, and showed in what estimation 
he held him, not only by his behaviour on his 
public presentation, but by honouring him with 
an immediate and private interview at Bucking- 
ham-house. 

That these demonstrations were more than the 
offspring of policy, may be proved by the interest 
that his Majesty took for his officer's liberation, 
before he effected it so cleverly for himself. He 
had permitted M. Bergeret, the captain of the 
Virginia French frigate, which had been captured 
by Sir Edward Pellew, to go to France and en- 
deavour to negotiate an exchange between Sir 
Sidney and himself; but, as we have before seen, 
being unable to succeed, he very honourably re- 
turned to England. The King, to give the French 
Directory a lesson in generosity, commanded his 
Secretary of State to write to M. Bergeret, to 
inform him, that, as the object of his mission to 
his own country was now obtained, his Majesty 
was graciously pleased, seeing the trouble to 



138 MEMOIRS OF 

which he had been put, and as a mark of satis- 
faction which his conduct had afforded him, to 
restore him to liberty, and permitted him to 
return to his country without any restriction 
whatever. 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 139 



CHAPTER XII. 



Sir Sidney appointed to the command of the Tigre Made 
joint Plenipotentiary to the Turkish Court Arrives at 
Constantinople His appointment gives umbrage to Earl 
St. Vincent. 



WE are now approaching the most brilliant epoch 
of Sir Sidney's martial career. It was necessary 
on the part of the English government to do all 
that lay in their power to oppose the aggran- 
dising principles and the propaganding spirit of 
the French republic. That republic would fain 
have had but one nation in Europe, and that 
nation the French, but with many thrones and 
many kings at Paris. Had these visionary 
schemes succeeded, the civilised world might 
have been excellently ruled by the departmental 
demagogues assembled in the French metropolis ; 
but every man out of France, who prized his 
nationality, and felt an honest glow at the simple 



140 MEMOIRS OF 

words, " My country !" was ready to arm and 
to die in opposing this generalising and regene- 
rating system. 

After much diplomacy and infinite trouble, 
the obtuse Turk was made to see that if the 
republican power were not efficiently opposed, 
shortly everything within its scope would be 
French in name, and the subject and the slave to 
democrat France in reality. With all his faults, 
the Turk is obstinately national. He prepared 
to fight for what the new philosophy deemed a 
foolish prejudice. 

In the September of 1798, the Sublime Porte 
began to show unequivocal symptoms of having 
awakened to a proper sense of his own position, 
and to the interests of the nation entrusted to his 
government. His new political feelings were 
energetically developed by a vigorous measure of 
reprisal against all the persons and property of 
the French that could be discovered in his domi- 
nions, and by fulminating a manifesto of ex- 
traordinary bitterness against the self-constituted 
government established in Paris. 

This welcome display on the part of the Otto- 
man Porte caused the most active preparations in 
London for the speedy conclusion of a treaty of 
alliance, offensive and defensive, between Great 
Britain and Turkey. The more effectually to 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 141 

bring this measure to a happy maturity, the 
British government resolved to bestow a minis- 
terial character upon the English officer destined 
to the difficult task of associating and co-ope- 
rating with the Turkish fleets and armies. The 
choice of the person to fulfil this character, at 
once so delicate and so arduous, naturally and 
very justly fell upon Sir William Sidney Smith; 
and he was accordingly included in the especial 
full powers as joint plenipotentiary with, and 
despatched to, the British minister then residing 
at Constantinople. Sir Sidney had been ap- 
pointed, on the 2nd of July, 1798, to the com- 
mand of the Tigre of eighty guns ; and in that 
ship he sailed on his honourable mission from 
Portsmouth, on the 29th of October of the same 
year. This service was peculiarly grateful to our 
officer, as his brother was, at that time, the 
English envoy to the Ottoman Porte. 

On the 5th of January, 1799, he had a con- 
ference with the Reis Effendi, at which was pre- 
sent Mr. Spencer Smith, the English ambassador. 
Among the presents destined for the Grand 
Seignior, and which Sir Sidney Smith was 
charged to present, were a perfect model of the 
Royal George, and twelve brass field-pieces, 
three -pounders with their caissons so constructed 
as to be portable on camels. 



142 MEMOIRS OF 

On the llth he took up his residence at the 
beautiful palace of Bailes, in which the ambas- 
sadors of the Venetian republic formerly lived. 
He was accompanied by several military and 
naval officers, some French emigrants, and a 
guard of marines. He was received by the Ottoman 
court with all the distinction due to a foreigner 
in a public character. 

The expediency of appointing naval and mili- 
tary officers to diplomatic functions has been 
often called into question. We not only think it 
often expedient, but also highly beneficial. In 
all negociations, the principal staple should be a 
singleness of purpose and an unswerving honesty. 
In all matters of treaty, the parties must have 
some definite object. To carry out this object, 
determination, good sense, and honesty are alone 
necessary. These are always acquired in the 
naval and military services ; they are too seldom 
found, and if once possessed, too often lost, amidst 
the suppleness and chicanery of a court, and the 
amusing tortuosities of diplomacy. Special 
pleading is not natural to the English character ; 
but an Englishman knows both what is due to 
him, and what he wants ; and he has invariably 
found that the worst method for him to obtain 
these, is by the negociation of those educated to 
negociate, who have generally finessed away all 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 143 

their notions of integrity, and protocolled them- 
selves out of their powers of perception of right 
and wrong. Need we cite instances, now going 
on before our eyes, of this melancholy truth? 
Whatever may have been the faults of the Tory 
administration, they evinced both good sense and 
vigour in the frequent employment of naval and 
military characters in diplomatic offices, and 
never more so than in the nomination of Sir Wil- 
liam Sidney Smith to be joint plenipotentiary to 
the Ottoman Porte. 

This appointment of Sir Sidney's gave, how- 
ever, great umbrage in several eminent and influ- 
ential quarters. There is but little doubt but 
that the already justly-acquired celebrity and 
the increasing renown of Sir Sidney had that 
influence upon human feeling which signal suc- 
cess will always have upon even the best of us. 
We have it upon an authority that it would be 
treason in literature to doubt, that Sir Sidney's 
appointment to a separate command in the Medi- 
terranean was more than distasteful, even an an- 
noyance, to Earl St. Vincent, and more especially 
so to Lord Nelson. 

" The Quarterly Review," for October 1838, 
states distinctly that, owing to a little ambiguity 
in the orders of the Admiralty in appointing Sir 
Sidney Smith to serve under Lord Nelson en- 



144 MEMOIRS OF 

tirely, Lord St. Vincent was overlooked ; but lie 
too well knew the rules of the service to let Sir 
Sidney slip through his hands. All his anxiety 
was respecting the feelings of Nelson. On 
this subject he thus wrote to Lord Spencer from 
Gibraltar. 

" An arrogant letter, written by Sir Sidney 
Smith to Sir William Hamilton, when he joined 
the squadron forming the blockade off Malta, 
has wounded Rear- Admiral Nelson to the quick, 
(as per enclosed,) which compels me to put this 
strange man immediately under his lordship's 
orders, as the King may be deprived of his (Lord 
Nelson's) valuable services, as superior to Sir 
Sidney Smith at all times as he is to ordinary 
men. I experienced a trait of the presumptuous 
character of this young man during his short stay 
at Gibraltar, which I passed over, that it might 
not appear that I was governed by prejudice in 
my conduct towards him." 

This is a severe sentence passed upon our hero ; 
but we really cannot help thinking that the dis- 
claimer of prejudice, so energetically put forward, 
was rather premature. The bitterness with which 
he styled the hero of Acre this young man does 
not speak highly of the gallant old Earl's utter 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 145 

freedom from prejudice. We wish, for the sake 
of his own reputation, that he had not made use 
of this waspish expression ; but it must not be 
too much dwelt upon, considering the vast merits 
and the eminent services of the veteran com- 
mander. 

There was always something peculiar in the 
manner of Sir Sidney Smith a peculiarity that, 
with the malevolent, would admit of a very wide 
construction : that it often found a very unge- 
nerous one, is lamentably but too true. Without 
meaning anything that approaches to disparage- 
ment in reference to the manners of Sir Sidney's 
cotemporary brother officers, we are bound to 
state that, from his infancy, he had much of the 
deportment of the courtier in his carriage, and a 
little of the petit-maitre in his appearance. He 
had had already, at a very early age, great suc- 
cesshe was ardent in his imagination, and 
fluent in his speech. These are sometimes dan- 
gerous gifts. They are too often great betrayers 
leading to a promptitude of action, and a reck- 
lessness of expression, that the very sober-minded 
may often deem an approximation to incipient 
insanity. We thus find Earl St. Vincent, in his 
well-disciplined mind, suspicious of Sir Sidney 
Smith's conduct, and designating him as " a 
strange man." That he appeared, at times, 

VOL. I. L 



146 MEMOIRS OF 

strange, is as undoubtedly true as that he some- 
times did strange things but this strangeness 
led to very glorious consequences. 

The good old admiral goes on to remark: 
" I even, in fact, had good reason to be dissa- 
tisfied with Sir Sidney Smith, who is stated ( to 
have commenced his command before Alexandria 
by counteracting the system laid down by his 
lordship,' and which always," says Earl St. Vin- 
cent, " appeared to me fraught with the most 
consummate wisdom ;" and he adds, " my only 
apprehension is, that Sidney Smith, enveloped in 
the importance of his ambassadorial character, 
will not attend to the practical part of his military 
profession." 

May we be permitted to remark, that this 
borders nearly upon the ungenerous ? Why 
found an imputation so injurious upon a mere 
ex parte and unproved statement? But the sequel 
is the best refutation to this attack. Sir Sidney 
did not, " enveloped in the importance of his 
ambassadorial character/' omit " to attend to 
the practical part of his military profession/' 
Lord Nelson's system must, undoubtedly, have 
been good, because it was Lord Nelson's ; but that 
Sir Sidney Smith's could not have been bad, we 
have the best and most popular of all testimonies 
to prove success. 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 147 

Again, Earl St. Vincent, in the following ab- 
stract of a letter to Nelson, complains, for the first 
time, of his health, and cause of dissatisfaction 
from home. 

" I am not well, and have great cause for dis- 
satisfaction from higher quarters. He (Sir Sid- 
ney Smith) has no authority whatever to wear 
a distinguishing pennant, unless you authorise 
him, for / certainly shall not. Your lordship 
will therefore exercise your discretion on this 
subject, and every other within the limits of 
your command. I have sent a copy of the orders 
you have judged expedient to give Sir Sidney 
Smith (which I highly approve of) to Lord 
Spencer, with my remarks ; for I foresee that both 
you and I shall be drawn into a tracasserie about 
this gentleman, who, having the ear of ministers, 
and telling his story better than we can, will be 
more attended to." 

We do not like this. It is petulant and 
womanly. Down with the miserable stripe of 
bunting in an open and seaman-like manner; 
if it be an assumption on the part of Sir Sidney, 
down with it but let us have no pining at or 
whining about it. 

But this, we are sorry to say, appears to us to 

L 2 



148 MEMOIRS OF 

be of a piece with the sneer upon his being the 
gentleman. Do those, who really are gentlemen, 
ever attempt to convey a taunt by imputing to 
another the fact that he is a gentleman ? If this 
be used by the Earl as a term of reproach, what 
then must he himself have been? If it was 
meant as a sarcasm, it is a sarcasm of a most 
villanous taste, and decidedly as wanting in point 
as it is in good-nature. 

But then Sir Sidney had " the ear of the 
minister," and could tell his own story better 
than either Earl St. Vincent or Lord Nelson. It 
is distressing to see two renowned leaders dri- 
velling about this. He could not tell his story 
better than either the hero of the Nile or of the 
Cape. When he had a good tale, it told itself 
well ; but, in his despatches, we do not find any 
very alarming bursts of eloquence. They are 
decidedly less forcible and elegant than we should 
expect from such a man. 

And shortly after, in another letter, he says 

" I fancy ministers at home disapprove of Sir 
Sidney Smith's conduct at Constantinople; 
for, in a confidential letter to me, a remark is 
made, that our new allies have not much reason 
to be satisfied with it. The man's head is com- 
pletely turned with vanity and self-importance." 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 149 

The " Quarterly Review " thus makes the 
"amende" for what we think something too 
severe in its remarks upon the bearing of our 
officer. 

" With all Sir Sidney's faults, however, the 
memorable defence of Acre, with small means, 
against the overwhelming force of Bonaparte, 
entitles him to the gratitude of the British nation, 
and will, if our annals speak true, immortalise 
his name. 

" Of this we are assured, whether the annals of 
our country be true or false, (for not on their vera- 
city but on their duration the matter depends,) 
his fame will be equally lasting with that of 
the proudest of our heroes. So intimately is Sir 
Sidney Smith's name associated with the glory 
of the country, that, among naval men, when- 
ever the names of Howe, Duncan, or Nelson, 
have been mentioned with enthusiasm, the per- 
oration has always been the praise of our officer. 
We may safely say that in the cockpit he is ido- 
lised, an especial favourite in the gunroom, and 
in the cabin deeply respected. The very chivalry 
of his character, which makes him, in the eyes 
of the young and ardent, the object of their 
deep admiration, will always be a matter of sus- 
picion to the old, the wily, and the shrewd poli- 
tician. 



150 MEMOIRS OF 

" For ourselves, highly as he stands in our esti- 
mation, we do not think that it ever was advis- 
able to have entrusted him with the sole command 
of armaments so extensive, that a failure would 
turn the tide of success of a whole war against 
us, or place the nation in peril. His character 
was formed for the detached and the brilliant. 
It appears that success or failure was always, to 
him, an object secondary to that of exciting 
astonishment, or gaining glory." 

Sir Sidney was already most favourably known 
to the Turks ; for, when he was with them before, 
he had brought out with him a clever architect, 
a Mr. Spurnham, and fifteen able shipwrights. 
These superintended and assisted at the building 
of several fine Turkish vessels ; and in one year, 
that of 1798, they were thus enabled, with many 
smaller vessels, to construct a three-decker and 
another line-of-battle ship of eighty -four guns, 
which, in Sir Sidney Smith's official mission, by 
the assistance of the crew of the Tigre, they were 
enabled to launch and fully equip for service. 
These vessels afterwards formed a part of Sir 
Sidney's squadron. 

During the whole time that the Turkish ships 
were serving with the English, there were placed 
on board the former, petty officers and some ex- 
perienced seamen to instruct the Osmanlie crew 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 151 

how to work them ; and thus assisted, they did no 
discredit to their generous allies in their various 
maritime rnanreuvres. 

Now, during the interval of Nelson's glo- 
rious victory of the Nile, and the arrival of Sir 
Sidney Smith on the Syrian coast, Bonaparte had 
almost entirely subjugated Egypt, and had already 
commenced a well-conceived plan of colonisation 
and organisation of his own important conquest. 
His promptitude and talent for the administration 
of the internal affairs of a kingdom, so extra- 
ordinary as that of Egypt, cannot be too highly 
eulogised. Already had he established so much 
order and regularity among these new subjects 
to the French, arid established in these dominions 
so many military resources, that he conceived him- 
self enabled to lead on his army, and to endeavour 
to subdue the contiguous provinces to the East. 
His troops were fully prepared for the expedition. 
By this demonstration he threatened the subju- 
gation of the remaining Turkish provinces in 
that quarter, and was even enabled to give us 
some alarm, though completely unfounded, for 
our invaluable British establishments in India. 
Though much of the apprehensions excited by 
the brilliant success and rapid movements of the 
French leader were totally baseless, yet the policy 
would have been a very weak one, had the con- 



152 MEMOIRS OF 

federated powers not sought means to check his 
progress, and to destroy the moral effect pro- 
duced upon the inhabitants of the East by his 
victorious career. Very great exertions were 
accordingly made on the part of the Sublime 
Porte, and their new allies, the English, to arrest 
the course and counteract the designs of the future 
Emperor of the French. 

Deeply impressed with this community of in- 
terests, preparations were made throughout Syria 
for military resistance to the march of the French 
by the Ghezzar Pasha, who was to be still fur- 
ther supported by an army which was to form a 
junction with him, by traversing Asia Minor. 
It was supposed that this force would be suffi- 
ciently strong to warrant the experiment of an 
attack on the frontier of Egypt, without waiting 
for the advance of the French. This demonstra- 
tion was to have been supported by a powerful 
diversion towards the mouths of the Nile, and 
made still more effective by the operations of a 
strong corps under Murad Bey. 



Silt SIDNEY SMITH. 153 



CHAPTER XIII. 

Preparations for the defence of Acre Mention of Captain 
Wright Anecdote of the King of Sweden's diamond 
ring The French move towards Acre Lose their bat- 
tering-train. 

THIS plan of operations was well arranged, but 
the Turks had not sufficiently advanced in military 
science to act upon extensive combinations. All 
these preparations, for a time, proved futile when 
opposed to the well-considered tactics of Bona- 
parte. That consummate general, having ob- 
tained intelligence that the arrival at the Otto- 
man court of Commodore Sir William Sidney 
Smith would be the signal for the commencement 
of these too widely diffused operations, deter- 
mined not to wait for the combined movement, 
but to act, at once, against a part of the force to 
be employed against him. He therefore deter- 
mined to commence offensive operations against 



154 MEMOIRS OF 

the Pasha. The French forces destined for this 
expedition amounted to about thirteen thousand 
men. The face of the country being entirely 
impracticable for artillery, the republican general 
had no other means of conveying it to the des- 
tined scene of operations but by sea. He there- 
fore shipped his train at Alexandria. Rear Ad- 
miral Perree was sent with three frigates to con- 
voy the flotilla, having orders afterwards to cruise 
off Jaffa. It may not be here out of place to 
state that this town, Jaffa, had been stormed and 
taken by the French on the preceding 7th March, 
on which occasion the whole of the Turkish gar- 
rison was put to the sword. The conquest was 
not worth the cost. In the assault the French 
lost above twelve hundred of the elite of their 
army. To show also the desperate policy and 
the extraordinary lengths to which Bonaparte 
would sometimes proceed, he announced that in 
this expedition to Palestine he purposed to take 
possession of Jerusalem, rebuild the Temple, 
restore the Jews, and thus disprove the prophecies 
of the divine Founder of the Christian religion. 
But it must be remembered, in order to vindicate 
such boasting from the imputation of insanity, 
that, at that time, infidelity was the road to Gallic 
power, and the revilement of Christianity not 
unpleasing to his newly-acquired subjects. 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 155 

After this digression, we must hasten to return 
to our commodore, and narrate the progress of 
the operations in which he was so materially con- 
cerned. Being apprised of the enemy's inten- 
tions, he left the Turkish capital, in the Tigre, on 
19th February, 1799, and after making several 
needful arrangements with Hassan Bey, the Otto- 
man governor of Rhodes, who happened to be an 
old sea-captain, he sailed from that island, and 
arrived off Alexandria on the 3d of March. He here 
found in command Captain Trowbridge, whom 
he immediately relieved, and then despatched his 
friend and second lieutenant, Lieutenant Wright, 
to St. Jean d'Acre, to decide, with its commander, 
upon the necessary measures for the obstinate 
defence of that fortress. 

We will take this opportunity of mentioning, 
that this brave officer, Wright, who honoured 
and was honoured with the friendship of Sir 
Sidney, was as unfortunate as he was brave. In 
the subsequent gallant and glorious defence of 
Acre, to which we shall shortly refer, he received 
a severe and dangerous wound, and was after- 
wards promoted to the rank of commander. Just 
as the great prizes of his profession seemed to be 
soliciting his grasp, he had the mortification 
of being made prisoner by the French, and died 
in that situation after a protracted, rigorous, and 



156 MEMOIRS OF 

cruel confinement. For these harsh measures 
the French authorities have some palliation in the 
very suspicious service on which he was employed 
when captured. At one time, it was generally sup- 
posed that he was assassinated, whilst in prison, by 
the orders of Bonaparte. This, however, turns out 
to be a malicious calumny. It proves, however, 
the value that public opinion placed upon Wright ; 
for to be thought the object of personal fear to 
a man like Bonaparte is no mean commendation. 
His old friend and commander has given proof of 
his esteem, for he has, since the peace, caused a 
handsome monument to be erected to his memory 
at that Paris which was so long the scene of their 
mutual sufferings. 

This gives us occasion to relate an anecdote of 
a very humble individual, connected with the fate 
of poor Wright, and alike elucidatory of the cha- 
racter of Sir Sidney. This anecdote, trivial as it 
may appear to the superciliously grave, ought not 
to be undervalued, since it affords us the enviable 
opportunity of placing upon record a single effort 
of our enterprising commodore to conciliate the 
Muses an effort that possesses one most excellent 
quality, not usually met with in the poetical effu- 
sions of the day, yet no less to be desired it is 
brevity. 

When Wright received his severe wound, it 



Sill SIDNEY SMITH. 157 

was reported to Sir Sidney that he was actually 
killed. The commodore's grief was excessive, 
and when, immediately after, Colonel Douglas, of 
the royal marines, reported the successful spring- 
ing of a mine that had destroyed a vast number 
of the enemy, Sir Sidney's principal thought was 
about his old companion and tried friend, Wright. 
" Let the French," &c. &c., was Sir Sidney's 
reply ; " but if you love me, and it be possible, 
bring in the body of poor Wright." 

The colonel immediately called to one of his 
men, a gigantic, red-haired, Irish marine, who, 
by some singular means, had contrived to get 
himself named James Close. Pointing to the 
mass of carnage that lay sweltering in the ditch 
below, where the slightly wounded and the actu- 
ally dying were fast hastening into mutual cor- 
ruption under the burning sun, " the colonel 
said, " Close, dare you go there, and bring us the 
body of poor Wright ?" 

" What darn't I do, yer honour?" was the im- 
mediate reply, and exposed to the musketry of 
the enemy, wading through blood, and stumbling 
over dead bodies and scattered limbs, he, unhurt, at 
length found Wright, not killed, but only wound- 
ed, and he brought him away safely from these 
shambles of death and the plague. The French 
spared him for the sake of the heroism of the act. 



158 MEMOIRS OF 

The rescue was complete, for Close conveyed 
him to the hospital, where he soon completely 
recovered, to find, not long after, a less honoured 
death. 

This intrepid conduct brought the marine into 
especial favour with Sir Sidney, and had his edu- 
cation but have warranted promotion, his advance- 
ment would have been rapid. The commodore did 
for him all that he could ; he exempted him from 
the wearying routine of a private's duty, and made 
him his orderly, thus limiting his services to a 
mere personal attendance on Sir Sidney. 

It would seem that James Close was not so 
great a hero in resisting the temptation of a 
naval life, grog, and the illegal means of obtain- 
ing it, as he was fearless of the enemy, and great 
in the field. Indeed, it requires a most amiable 
believer in the intuitive integrity of our species, 
not to pronounce that, for a little peccadillo or so, 
he deserved to be hung ; but of this we cannot 
judge, as the truth of the matter will ever remain 
in the deepest mystery. 

Our gallant hero not James Close, but his 
commander-in-chief had received from the King 
of Sweden a beautiful and very valuable diamond 
ring, and which, amongst other jewellery, and 
with his orders, he always wore on state 
occasions. At a grand dinner given at the 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 159 

monastery at Acre, and at which all the superior 
officers of both the English and Turkish service 
were present, with every other civilian of note, that 
part of the ornaments that consisted of Sir Sid- 
ney Smith's rings was lost. He was in the habit, 
just before he washed his hands after dining, to 
take from off his hands his bijouterie, and place 
the trinkets under the tablecloth a very provi- 
dent plan, when the guests happen to be nume- 
rous and miscellaneous. This custom he put in 
practice on this day, but unfortunately, when he 
rose from the table, he totally forgot the treasure 
that he had left beneath the tablecloth, and 
retired as happy as if his fingers had displayed 
their wonted effulgence. 

It was usual, on these high occasions, for Sir 
Sidney Smith's bodyguard, consisting of a party 
of the royal marines, to place themselves at the 
vacated table, when the guests had withdrawn, 
and finish the fare provided for their superiors 
a munificent regulation, highly creditable to Sir 
Sidney. 

On this day, the custom was honoured, not by 
the breach, but the observance ; for not only did 
the fragments of the feast disappear, but the 
rings also, as, shortly after the viands were con- 
sumed, Sir Sidney missed his ornaments, and a 
strict but ineffectual search ensued. 



160 MEMOIRS OF 

The Greeks have a bad character, and on this 
occasion they received the full benefit of it, as it 
was supposed that the attending descendants of 
Homer's heroes had made to themselves the lucky 
appropriation ; and being Greeks, the English 
very wisely deemed that search would be fruitless, 
and recovery hopeless. 

For two years the stigma lay with the Athe- 
nians, when, in 1801, the marines disembarked 
from the Tigre to assist Abercromby in his opera- 
tions. After the action of the 13th of March, it 
fell to the duty of these marines narrowly to in- 
vest the Castle of Aboukir. One day, four of 
these marines, (we do not know why posterity 
should not be acquainted with their names,) 
Clark, Stan ton, West, and James Close, were 
taking their ease in their hut, which an envious 
shot from the castle disturbed, by killing Clark 
and Stanton, and thus naturally causing the two 
survivors narrowly to search, as is the laudable 
custom on such occasions, the dead bodies of their 
comrades. Among other good things that they 
possessed, there were found in Stanton's pockets 
(at least Close said so) two rings, of which the 
said Close took particular care. 

Some little time after, Close was again ordered 
on shore on military duty, and he then entrusted 
these rings to the care of another of his com- 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. K>1 

rades, named Connor Close, thinking this Con- 
nor to be a particularly steady man, and conse- 
quently that they would be more safe in his keep- 
ing, on board, than in his own, on shore. 

In order to do full justice to this opinion, Con- 
nor goes on board on the same day, and very 
carefully gets gloriously drunk, and " appetite 
increasing by what it fed on," that is to say, the 
act of drinking making him much athirst for 
more, he sells the heaviest of the rings, the veri- 
table King of Sweden, for a mere thimbleful of 
the poison, to his messmate, who, having the 
spirit of barter strongly upon him, sells it again 
to Sir Sidney Smith's steward for the enormous 
value of half a gallon of bad wine. The steward 
immediately recognised it as the great diamond, 
" the right royal Gustavus," as Sir Sidney was 
wont to call it, and of whose majesty no tidings 
had been heard for two years. 

Investigation immediately followed discovery, 
and it was speedily traced up to James Close, who 
was sent on board and interrogated strictly. Of 
course, he laid the primal theft at the door of the 
departed, well knowing and acting upon the pro- 
verb, that " dead men tell no tales," at least on 
this side of the grave. It was never known ex- 
actly what degree of credence Sir Sidney gave to 
this account ; but as it was certain that even dead 

VOL. I. M 



162 MEMOIRS OF 

men ought not to be robbed, James Close stood 
within the terrors of the law, and, consequently, 
Close found himself immediately in close custody. 
The officers of the Tigre endeavoured to pre- 
vail upon their commander to bring the prisoner 
to a trial by court-martial, but his heroic conduct 
towards Captain Wright operated strongly in his 
favour; so after a few days' confinement Sir Sid- 
ney sent for him on deck, and ordering him to be 
released, thus addressed him : 

" You're Close by name, and Close in every thing, 
And Close you've kept, O Close, my diamond ring." 

It was very fortunate for the culprit that his 
captain was more in the rhyming than the flog- 
ging vein , for we think it not unlikely that the 
fecundity of Sir Sidney's head saved the marine's 
back. However, the lines were looked upon as a 
monument of poetical genius, and the distich 
stuck as closely to poor Close as any punster of a 
reasonable good-nature could have wished. 

As faithful chroniclers of the events connected 
with these Memoirs, we feel bound to state the 
general impression among the officers and seamen 
of the English squadron respecting the real cha- 
racter of Wright. Before Sir Sidney commenced 
his renowned defence of Acre, Wright was the 
second lieutenant of the Tigre. It is well known 






SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 1G'J 

that he was landed by Sir Sidney Smith, in his 
own barge, at a short distance from Alexandria, 
in the night-time, not openly as a British naval 
officer, but bearded, moustachioed, and shawled 
a la Turque, and for the express purpose of obtain- 
ing valuable information. Conscious of the du- 
biety of his mission, on stepping on shore he 
thus addressed the boat's crew : " Men, beware 
of your words ! I am going to serve my king 
and country, if, by the help of God, I can." 
Then turning to his commander, he exclaimed, 
" Sir Sidney, do not forget the boat's crew." 

The vulgar belief may have been erroneous, 
but it was asserted that he was constantly em- 
ployed by Sir Sidney as a spy, and the fact was 
neither concealed nor denied on board the Tigre. 

But to resume. Sir Sidney, after bombarding 
Alexandria in the vain hope of arresting the 
march of Bonaparte towards Acre, which was not 
then sufficiently strengthened to stand a siege, 
sailed for that devoted place, off which he anchored 
on the 15th of March. He immediately landed, 
and proceeded to inspect the fortifications. These 
he found in a dilapidated and most ruinous state , 
and almost destitute of artillery. Making the 
best arrangements that the shortness of the time 
until the attack would be expected, and the pau- 
city of the materials for a defence permitted, on 

M 2 



164 MEMOIRS OF 

the 17th of March the commodore again put to 
sea in the Tigre's boats, and proceeded to the 
anchorage of Khaiffa, in order to intercept that 
portion of the French expedition which would 
take its route along the sea-coast, and which Sir 
Sidney was convinced must necessarily soon 
make its appearance. His anticipations were 
correct, for, at ten o'clock on the same night, he 
discovered the approach of the enemy's advanced 
guard, moving leisurely forward by the sea-side. 
They were mounted upon asses and dromedaries, 
and offered a novel and somewhat grotesque spec- 
tacle. Having thus satisfied himself as to their 
actual approach, the commodore, with all haste, 
returned on board the Tigre, from which ship he 
immediately despatched Lieutenant Bushby, in a 
gunboat, to the mouth of a small river (the brook 
Kishon of the Scriptures) that flows into the bay 
of Acre. He had strict orders to defend the ford 
across this little stream to the utmost, and by no 
means to suffer the French to advance by this 
way on the town. 

At the break of day, this intelligent officer 
admirably worked out his commander's inten- 
tions. This curiously mounted advanced guard 
had, unexpectedly, so vigorous and so destruc- 
tive a fire opened upon them, that they were 
driven, in great confusion, both from the shore 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 

and the ford, and great was the overthrow of 
men, as well as of dromedaries and asses. In- 
deed, a tumultuous dispersion of the whole force 
ensued, and was scattered on the skirts of Mount 
Carmel. 

Taught by this repulse, the main body of the 
French army avoided carefully this pernicious 
and gunboat-guarded ford, and, to escape a 
similar attack, were obliged to make a large 
circuit, and advance upon Acre by the road of 
Nazareth. This they did without much diffi- 
culty, for they soon drove in the Turkish out- 
posts, and encamped upon an insulated emi- 
nence skirting the sea, upon a parallel direction 
with the town, and about one thousand toises 
distant from it. As this elevation extended 
to the northward as far as Cape Blanc, it com- 
manded a plain to the westward of seven miles 
in length, and which plain is terminated by the 
mountains that lie between St. Jean d'Acre and 
the river Jordan. This position of the repub- 
lican forces was as commanding and as good as 
could be well desired. Favoured by the shelter 
afforded them by the outlying gardens, the un- 
filled ditches of the old town, and an aqueduct 
that adjoined to the glacis, they opened their 
trenches against the crumbling works of the 
town on the 20th, and at no greater distance than 
one hundred arid fifty toises. 



166 MEMOIRS OF 

We have here again to make a cursory men- 
tion of a very brave and clever loyalist, M. 
Phelypeaux, who had been in the service of 
Louis XVI. as an engineer. He was skilful in 
his profession, and in his private capacity a very 
worthy man. Though, at this time, still young, 
he had been involved in many extraordinary ad- 
ventures, having served in all the campaigns of 
the army of Conde. He commanded at Berri, 
and was taken, and only escaped an ignominious 
death by breaking out from a state-prison. As 
we have before narrated, he accompanied Sir 
Sidney to England, at the time the latter made 
his escape from the custody of the French Direc- 
tory. The strictest friendship, founded upon 
mutual esteem, subsisted between M. Phelypeaux 
and our hero, and he accompanied him as a 
volunteer in this Syrian expedition, and proved 
of infinite service by materially strengthening 
the works of this miserable place, which was so 
shortly afterwards to prove his tomb, as he died 
there on the 2nd of May following. 

This experienced engineer officer was mate- 
rially assisted by Captain Miller * of the Theseus, 

* Captain Ralph Willet Miller was made post-captain in 
1796, and commanded the Captain seventy-four, bearing the 
broad pennant of Commodore Nelson, in the action off Cape 
St. Vincent, 14th February, 1797. He was afterwards ap- 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 167 

who furnished guns and ammunition to the ut- 
most of his power. 

But it seems that all this display of skill and 
activity would have proved inefficient against the 
skill and bravery that supported the attacks of 
the French, had not their vessels, having on 
board the greater part of their battering-train and 
ammunition, fallen into our hands. We have 
before mentioned that this artillery had been 
ordered round by sea by Bonaparte, from Alex- 
andria, under the command of Rear-Admiral 
Peree. This flotilla was just rounding Cape 
Carmel, when it was discovered by the Tigre, 
pursued, and overtaken. 

The capture was not so complete as could have 
been wished. The protecting force consisted of 
a corvette and nine gunboats. Two of these 
and the corvette, containing Bonaparte's per- 
sonal property, escaped. Seven gun-vessels, 
mounting altogether thirty -four guns, and con- 
pointed to the Theseus seventy-four, which ship he com- 
manded at the battle of the Nile. After having been three 
days off Jaffa, whither he was despatched by Sir William 
Sidney Smith, the Turkish blue flag was confided to him, 
an honour never before conferred upon a Christian. It 
imparts the power of a pasha over the subjects of the 
grand seignior. The premature death of this meritorious 
officer was occasioned by the blowing up of the afterpart 
of the Theseus, while lying off Jaffa. 



168 MEMOIRS OF 

taining two hundred and thirty-eight men, were 
captured, together with the train of artillery. 
The cannon, platforms, and ammunition, were 
immediately landed at Acre, and used for its de- 
fence, and the gunboats manned and employed 
in molesting the enemy's posts established on the 
sea-coast, harassing their communications, and 
intercepting their convoys. The sea has always 
been fatal to the French, and, notwithstanding 
the difficulty of the country, we are inclined to 
think every obstacle should have been encoun- 
tered by them in this transport of their artillery, 
rather than have trusted it to that element, 
which, as an arena of contention with the English, 
has always been to them so disastrous. 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 1G9 



CHAPTER XIV. 

The French make great progress in their approaches The 
Turks are defeated in a sortie Anecdote of Junotand 
Kleber The Frencli gain the outer tower of Acre Sir 
Sidney Smith's despatch to Lord Nelson. 

THIS year the equinoctial gales had been unusually 
severe, and the commodore, with the Tigre and 
the naval force under his command, had been 
compelled to take shelter under the lee of Mount 
Carmel. On his return to the roadstead off 
Acre, he found that the French had taken ad- 
vantage of his unwilling and enforced absence 
to push their attacks vigorously. Their ap- 
proaches had reached the counterscarp, and had 
penetrated even into the ditch of the north-east 
angle of the town wall. This angle was defended 
by a tower which they were rapidly undermining, 
in order to increase a breach they had already 
made in it, but which breach they had found to 



170 MEMOIRS OF 

be impracticable when they endeavoured to storm 
it on the 1st of April. 

In this mining operation they were greatly im- 
peded by the fire of the guns that had been lately 
captured from the French, and which had been 
quickly mounted and judiciously placed by Cap- 
tain Wilmot * of the Alliance, who was unfortu- 
nately shot by a French rifleman a few days 
afterwards, the 8th of April, as he was mounting 
a howitzer on the breach. These guns played so 
actively and destructively under the direction of 
Colonel Phelypeaux, that the enemy's fire slack- 
ened considerably, and the widening of the 
breach was but slow in progress. 

Yet this successful opposition had no effect 
upon the mine, and the most serious apprehen- 
sions were entertained that its firing would be 
fatal to the defence of the town. To counteract 
this, a sortie was resolved upon. It was finally 
arranged that a body of British seamen and 
marines was to endeavour to possess the mine, 
whilst the Turkish troops were to attack the 
French in their trenches on both sides. As this 
decisive operation was intended to be a surprise, 
the sally was made before daylight on the 7th of 
April. Owing to the impetuosity and noise of 
the Turks, this plan entirely failed, and the 
dreaded mine remained in all its terrors. 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 171 

In no military effort upon record did the 
French display greater perseverance or more des- 
perate bravery. In every one of their attacks they 
seemed to understand beforehand that destruction 
\vas to be the rule, and escape the exception. 
With this predestination strong upon them, they 
went up to the breach coolly and regularly, 
and with as much nonchalance as if death were 
an unimportant part of their military evolu- 
tions. Indeed, repeated attempts were made to 
mount the breach under such circumstances of 
desperation as to excite the pity of their British 
foes to see such vain and bloody sacrifices of 
energy and courage. 

Though hostilities were carried on with such 
vigour and apparent rancour in the trenches 
and on the breach, yet there were frequent sus- 
pensions of operations, and the distinguished 
French generals, on such occasions, derived much 
pleasure from visiting Sir Sidney on board the 
Tigre. On one of these occasions, and after the 
besieging party had made some progress, Gene- 
rals Kleber and Junot were, with Sir Sidney 
Smith, walking the quarter-deck of the Tigre in 
a very amiable mood of amicability, one on each 
side the English commander-in-chief. 

After a few turns in silence, Junot, regarding 



11 '2 MEMOIRS OF 

the battered fortifications that lay before him, 
and they being dwindled by distance into much 
insignificancy, thus broke out in the spirit of 
false prophecy 

" Commodore, mark my words ! three days 
hence, by this very hour, the French tricolor 
shall be flying on the remains of that miserable 
town." 

Sir Sidney very quickly replied, " My good 
general, before you shall have that town, 1 will 
blow it and you to Jericho." 

" Bwn oblige! very much obliged," Kleber ob- 
served ; " much obliged indeed it will be all in 
our way to India." 

" With all my heart," rejoined Sir Sidney, 
" I shall be most happy to assist you, Bonaparte, 
and your whole army, forward in that style ; 
and we will commence as soon as you please." 

The offer, though very kindly made, was nei- 
ther accepted nor replied to. 

Nine times had the enemy attempted to storm 
the trench, and on each occasion had been 
beaten back with profuse slaughter, such was the 
determined bravery opposed to their desperate 
assaults, when, on the fifty-first day of the siege, 
the long-expected and anxiously looked for re- 
inforcements, under Hassan Bey, appeared in the 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. l~-> 

distance. Before its junction could be effected, and 
relief thrown into the town, Bonaparte was re- 
solved to do the utmost that his genius and the 
bravery of his army could achieve. His efforts 
were, therefore, renewed with the most impetuous 
vigour, whilst, on the part of the besieged, they 
were met with a corresponding spirit. All 
that skill and bravery could perform was mu- 
tually displayed. Under all disadvantages, the 
enemy, however, continued to advance, and at 
length got possession of the long-disputed north- 
east tower. This they accomplished, not by the 
explosion of the mine, but, having battered down 
the upper part of the structure, they ascended 
over the ruins, and, at daylight on the fifty-second 
morning of the siege, the tricolored flag was 
seen floating on the outer angle of the tower. 

This display damped, considerably, the enter- 
prise of the Turkish soldiers, and the fire of the 
besieged on the French lines was sensibly slack- 
ened. The enemy had also, during the night, 
obtained another important advantage, having 
been enabled to construct two traverses that com- 
pletely screened them from the flanking fire of 
the Tigre and the Theseus, which, till then, had 
taken deadly effect upon every advance towards 
the breach. These two traverses were thrown 
up directly across the ditch, and were constructed 
with dead bodies intermingled with sandbags. 



174 MEMOIRS OF 

Such, as we have above described, was the 
critical position of the Turkish garrison and their 
brave allies when Hassan Bey's reinforcement 
arrived. The reader will of course understand 
that they came along the sea-coast in transports. 
These troops, before the vessels anchored, were 
hurried into the boats, but they were still dis- 
tant from the shore, whilst the French were ral- 
lying the last and their best energies to carry the 
town. Such being the critical position of affairs, 
a strenuous and sudden effort on the part of the 
British was indispensable to preserve the place 
for a short time, until the landing and receiving 
the reinforcements into the fortress. 

This effort, at once gallant, wise, and suc- 
cessful, with its subsequent operations, we shall 
give in Sir William Sidney Smith's own words, 
in his animated and graphic official report to 
Lord Nelscn. 

" Tigre, Acre, May 9. 

" My Lord, I had the honour to inform your 
lordship, by my letter of the 2d instant, that we 
were busily employed completing two ravelins 
for the reception of cannon to flank the enemy's 
nearest approaches, distant only ten yards from 
them. They were attacked that very night, and 
almost every night since, but the enemy have 
each time been repulsed with very considerable 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 175 

loss. The enemy continued to batter in breach 
with progressive success, and have nine several 
times attempted to storm, but have as often been 
beaten back with immense slaughter. Our best 
mode of defence has been frequent sorties to keep 
them on the defensive, and impede the progress 
of their covering works. We have thus been in 
one continued battle ever since the beginning of 
the siege, interrupted only at short intervals by 
the excessive fatigue of every individual on both 
sides. We have been long anxiously looking 
for a reinforcement, without which we could not 
expect to be able to keep the place so long as we 
have. The delay in its arrival being occasioned 
by Hassan Bey's having originally had orders to 
join me in Egypt, I was obliged to be very per- 
emptory in the repetition of my orders for him to 
join me here : it was not, however, till the even- 
ing of the day before yesterday, the fifty-first day 
of the siege, that his fleet of corvettes and trans- 
ports made its appearance. The approach of 
this additional strength was the signal to Bona- 
parte for a most vigorous and persevering assault, 
in hopes to get possession of the town before the 
reinforcement to the garrison could disembark. 

" The constant fire of the besiegers was sud- 
denly increased tenfold ; our flanking fire afloat 
was, as usual, plied to the utmost, but with less 



176 MEMOIRS OF 

effect than heretofore, as the enemy had thrown 
up epaulments and traverses of sufficient thick- 
ness to protect him from it. The guns that could 
be worked to the greatest advantage were a French 
brass eighteen-pounder in the light-house castle, 
manned from the Theseus, under the direction of 
Mr. Scroder, master's mate, and the last mounted 
twenty-four-pounder in the north ravelin, manned 
from the Tigre, under the direction of Mr. Jones, 
midshipman. These guns being within grape 
distance of the head of the attacking column, 
added to the Turkish musketry, did great execu- 
tion ; and I take this opportunity of recommend- 
ing these two petty officers, whose indefatigable 
vigilance and zeal merit my warmest praisfe. 
The Tigre's two sixty-eight pound carronades, 
mounted in two dgermes, lying in the Mole, and 
worked under the direction of Mr. Bray, carpen- 
ter of the Tigre, (one of the bravest and most in- 
telligent men I ever served with,) threw shells 
into the centre of this column with evident effect, 
and checked it considerably. Still, however, the 
enemy gained ground, and made a lodgment in 
the second story of the north-east tower ; the 
upper part being entirely battered down, and the 
ruins in the ditch forming the ascent by which 
they mounted. Daylight showed us the French 
standard on the outer angle of the tower. The 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 177 

fire of the besieged was much slackened, in com- 
parison to that of the besiegers, and our flanking 
fire was become of less effect, the enemy having 
covered themselves in this lodgment and the ap- 
proach to it by two traverses across the ditch, 
which they had constructed under the fire that 
had been opposed to them during the whole night, 
and which were now seen, composed of sand- 
bags, and the bodies of their dead built in with 
them, their bayonets only being visible above 
them. Hassan Bey's troops were in the boats, 
though as yet but half way on shore. This was 
a most critical point of the contest, and an effort 
was necessary to preserve the place for a short 
time till their arrival. 

" I accordingly landed the boats at the Mole, 
and took the crews up to the breach, armed with 
pikes. The enthusiastic gratitude of the Turks, 
men, women, and children, at the sight of such 
a reinforcement, at such a time, is not to be 
described. 

" Many fugitives returned with us to the 
breach, which we found defended by a few brave 
Turks, whose most destructive missile weapons 
were heavy stones, which, striking the assailants 
on the head, overthrew the foremost down the 
slope, and impeded the progress of the rest. A 
succession, however, ascended to the assault, the 

VOL. I. N 



178 MEMOIRS OF 

heap of ruins between the two parties serving as 
a breastwork to both ; the muzzles of their mus- 
kets touching, and the spear-heads of their 
standards locked. Dgezzar Pasha, hearing the 
English were on the breach, quitted his station, 
where, according to the ancient Turkish custom, 
he was sitting to reward such as should bring 
him the heads of the enemy, and distributing 
musket cartridges with his own hands. The 
energetic old man, coming behind us, pulled us 
down with violence ; saying, if any harm hap- 
pened to his English friends, all was lost. This 
amicable contest, as to who should defend the 
breach, occasioned a rush of Turks to the spot ; 
and thus time was gained for the arrival of the 
first body of Hassan Bey's troops. I had now 
to combat the Pasha's repugnance to admitting 
any troops but his Albanians into the garden of 
his seraglio, which had become a very important 
post, as occupying the terreplein of the rampart. 
There were about two hundred of the original one 
thousand Albanians left alive. This was no time 
for debate, and I overruled his objections by 
introducing the Chifflick regiment, of one thou- 
sand men, armed with bayonets, disciplined after 
the European method under Sultan Selim's own 
eye, and placed, by his Imperial Majesty's express 
command, at my disposal. The garrison, ani- 



SIIJ SIUN'KV SMITH. 179 

mated by the appearance of such a reinforce- 
ment, was now all on foot ; and there being 
consequently enough to defend the breach, I 
proposed to the Pasha to get rid of the object of 
his jealousy, by opening his gates to let them 
make a sally, and take the assailants in flank : 
he readily complied, and I gave directions to the 
colonel to get possession of the enemy's third 
parallel or nearest trench, and there fortify him- 
self by shifting the parapet outwards. This 
order being clearly understood, the gates were 
opened, and the Turks rushed out ; but they 
were not equal to such a movement, and were 
driven back to the town with loss. Mr. Bray,* 
however, as usual, protected the town-gate effi- 
caciously with grape from the sixty-eight poun- 
ders. The sortie had this good effect, that it 
obliged the enemy to expose themselves above 
their parapets, so that our flanking fires brought 
down numbers of them, and drew their force 
from the breach, so that the small number re- 
maining on the lodgment were killed or dispersed 
by our few remaining hand grenades thrown by 
Mr. Savage, midshipman of the Theseus. The 
enemy began a new breach by an incessant fire 

* Mr. Bray was carpenter of the Tigre, and appears to 
have been a very superior man in every respect to the ge- 
nerality of warrant officers. 

N 2 



180 



MEMOIRS OF 



directed to the southward of the lodgment, every 
shot knocking down whole sheets of a wall, much 
less solid than that of the tower, on which they 
had expended so much time and ammunition. 
The group of generals and aides-de-camp, which 
the shells from the sixty-eight pounders had fre- 
quently dispersed, was now re-assembled on 
Richard Cceur de Lion's Mount. Bonaparte was 
distinguishable in the centre of a semi-circle : 
his gesticulations indicated a renewal of attack, 
and his despatching an aide-de-camp showed that 
he waited only for a reinforcement. I gave di- 
rections for Hassan Bey's ships to take their sta- 
tion in the shoal water to the southward, and 
made the Tigre's signal to weigh, and join the 
Theseus to the northward. A little before sun- 
set, a massive column appeared advancing to the 
breach with a solemn step. The Pasha's idea 
was not to defend the breach this time, but rather 
to let a certain number of the enemy in, and then 
close with them according to the Turkish mode 
of war. The column thus mounted the breach 
unmolested, and descended from the rampart 
into the Pasha's garden, where, in a very few 
minutes, the bravest and most advanced among 
them lay headless corpses ; the sabre, with the 
addition of a dagger in the other hand, proving 
more than a match for the bayonet. The rest 



Slit SIDNEY SMITH. 181 

retreated precipitately ; and the commanding 
officer, who was seen manfully encouraging his 
men to mount the breach, and who we had since 
learnt to be General Lannes, was carried off, 
wounded by a musket-shot. General Rombaud 
was killed. Much confusion arose in the town 
from the actual entry of the enemy, it having 
been impossible, nay impolitic, to give* previous 
information to every body of the mode of defence 
adopted, lest the enemy should come to a know- 
ledge of it by means of their numerous emis- 
saries. 

" The English uniform, which had served as 
a rallying point for the old garrison, wherever it 
appeared, was now in the dusk mistaken for 
French, the newly-arrived Turks not distinguish- 
ing between one hat and another in the crowd, 
and thus many a severe blow of a sabre was par- 
ried by our officers, among which Colonel Dou- 
glas,* Mr. Ives, and Mr. Jones, had nearly lost 
their lives, as they were forcing their way through 
a torrent of fugitives. Calm was restored by the 
Pasha's exertions, aided by Mr. Trotte, just ar- 
rived with Hassan Bey ; and thus the contest of 
twenty-five hours ended, both parties being so 
fatigued as to be unable to move. 

" Bonaparte will, no doubt, renew the attack, 
* The late Sir John Douglas, of the Royal Marines. 



18 "2 MEM GUIS OF 

the breach being, as above described, perfectly 
practicable for fifty men abreast; indeed the town 
is not, nor ever has been defensible, according to 
the rules of art, but according to every other 
rule it must and shall be defended : not that it 
is in itself worth defending, but we feel that it 
is by this breach Bonaparte means to march to 
farther conquests. It is on the issue of this con- 
flict that depends the opinion of the multitude 
of spectators on the surrounding hills, who wait 
only to see how it ends, to join the victors ; and 
with such a reinforcement for the execution of 
his known projects, Constantinople, and even 
Vienna, must feel the shock. 

" Be assured, my lord, the magnitude of our 
obligations does but increase the energy of our 
efforts in the attempt to discharge our duty ; and 
though we may, and probably shall be over- 
powered, I can venture to say that the French 
army will be so much farther weakened before it 
prevails, as to be little able to profit by its dear- 
bought victory. 

" I have the honour to be, &c. 

" W. SIDNEY SMITH. 

" Hear- Admiral Lord Nelson." 

This despatch is exceedingly well written, and 
is made singularly graceful by the air of mo- 






SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 183 

desty which pervades it. Sir Sidney well under- 
stood the nature of the contest, and that to the 
moral effect of victory or defeat, the loss or the 
salvation of the miserable heap of ruins called 
Acre was but as dust in the balance. 

Already had the Syrians been so prepossessed 
with the irresistibility of the French forces an 
idea by no means preposterous when the invari- 
able success of these invaders was considered 
that all efforts of resistance had been paralysed. 
Had it not been for the stimulating influence of 
British courage, Bonaparte would have met with 
no opposition, and he and his generals, there is 
every reason to suppose, would have been wholly 
unimpeded in whatever plans of conquest, per- 
sonal aggrandisement, or political vengeance, 
they might have concerted. 

This British opposition in defence of Acre fell 
with peculiar and exasperating force upon the 
commander-in-chief of the republican army. 
This was displayed by the increased irrita- 
bility of his temper ; and, in the fervour of this 
very natural vexation, he called for the most 
cruel sacrifices on the part of his brave followers, 
and evinced a determination to extend them to 
the utmost limits of human endurance. We are 
no depredators of the extraordinary genius of 
Bonaparte, nor do we think that, placed in the 



184 MEMOIRS OF 

situation he was, he could, or that he ought to 
have acted differently. The obstacle before him 
must, he well knew, be surmounted, or, sooner or 
later, defeat and universal discomfiture awaited 
him. It might, perhaps, have been well for the 
destiny of nations and the tranquillity of Eu- 
rope, had he met with a less sturdy opponent 
than Sir Sidney. Had he succeeded before St. 
Jean d'Acre, another and a less disastrous 
course might have been opened to his ambition. 

But we must return to this singular siege and 
still more singular defence. The gallant anta- 
gonist of the future first consul was fully aware 
of the advantage he had gained, and well knew 
how to improve it to the utmost. Rightly judg- 
ing that the prejudice in favour of Gallic invin- 
cibility must be considerably shaken by the late 
events, and by the fatal check that was given to 
the advancement of their arms, Sir Sidney wrote a 
circular letter to the princes and chiefs of Mount 
Lebanon, and to the shieks of the Druses, by 
which he exhorted them to do their duty to their 
sovereign by intercepting the supplies of the 
enemy on their way to the French camp. This 
sagacious proceeding had all the good conse- 
quences that might have been expected from it. 
Two ambassadors were sent to the commodore, 
informing him that, in consequence of his man- 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 185 

dates, measures had been taken to cut off the 
supplies hitherto furnished to the invaders ; and, 
as a proof of the accuracy of this assertion, 
eighty French prisoners, who had been captured 
in the defence of their convoys, were placed at 
the disposal of the British. 

Thus baffled in front, and straitened on all 
sides, the paramount object of the French was to 
mount the breach. To this every other consi- 
deration must give way. Accordingly, General 
Kleber's division was ordered from the fords of 
the river Jordan, where it had been successfully 
opposed to the army of Damascus, to take its 
turn in an attempt that had already occasioned the 
loss of the flower of the French troops of the be- 
sieging division, with more than two-thirds of its 
officers. But on the arrival of General Kleber 
and his army, there was other employment found 
for them. 

In the sally before mentioned, made by the 
Turkish Chifflick regiment, it had shown a 
want of steadiness in the presence of the enemy, 
and was in consequence censured. The com- 
mandant of that corps, Solirnari Aga, having 
received orders from Sir Sidney Smith to obtain 
possession of the enemy's third parallel, availed 
himself of this opportunity to retrieve the lost 
honour of his regiment ; and, the next night, 



186 MEMOIRS OF 

carried his orders into execution with that ardour 
and resolution, which not only completely effected 
the service upon which he was sent, but also 
highly benefited the public cause by the gallant 
display of his men. The third parallel was 
gained; but the gallant Turk, wishing to do 
more, and thus to elevate his regiment to a posi- 
tion still more honourable than that which they 
had forfeited, attacked the second trench, but 
without the same success that attended his first 
attempt, as he lost some standards. However, 
he retained possession of the works long enough 
to spike four of the enemy's guns, and do them 
other material damage. 

On the arrival, therefore, of Kleber's division, 
its original destination of mounting the breach 
was changed into that of recovering these works, 
which, after a furious contest of three hours, arid 
much loss of life, was accomplshed. Notwith- 
standing this very limited success, the advantage 
evidently remained on the side of the besieged. 
Indeed the resistance displayed, though unsuc- 
cessfully, was decisive, as it so far damped the 
zeal of the French troops that they could not be 
again brought to the breach. 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 1 S7 



CHAPTER XV. 

Sir Sidney's second despatch Describes the progress and 
the termination of the siege The French retreat in dis- 
order The conduct of Bonaparte Testimonials at home 
to the distinguished services of Sir Sidney Smith. 

FROM this moment all the efforts of the French 
were feeble and disjointed. Discontent prevailed 
universally through the ranks, and the officers 
openly expressed their discontent and disappro- 
bation at the frantic proceedings of their general. 
The siege was virtually at an end. Fortunately 
for posterity, we are enabled to give Sir Sidney 
Smith's impression of Bonaparte's conduct dur- 
ing the siege, and after his retreat from Acre. 
It is officially stated, and is a most important do- 
cument. 

" After this failure, the French grenadiers ab- 
solutely refused to mount the breach any more 
over the putrid bodies of their unburied compa- 



188 MEMOIRS OF 

riions, sacrificed, in former attacks, by Bonaparte's 
impatience and precipitation, which led him to 
commit such palpable errors as even seamen 
could take advantage of. He seemed to have 
no principle of action but that of pressing for- 
ward ; and appeared to stick at nothing to obtain 
the object of his ambition, although it must be 
evident to every body else, that even if he had 
succeeded in taking the town, the fire of the ship- 
ping must drive him out of it again in a short 
time : however, the knowledge the garrison had 
of the inhuman massacre at Jaffa, rendered them 
desperate in their personal defence. Two at- 
tempts to assassinate me in the town having 
failed, recourse was had to a most flagrant breach 
of every law of honour and of war. A flag of 
truce was sent into the town by the hand of an 
Arab dervise, with a letter to the Pasha, proposing 
a cessation of arms for the purpose of burying 
the dead bodies, the stench from which became 
intolerable, and threatened the existence of every 
one of us on both sides, many having died deli- 
rious within a few hours after being seized with 
the first symptoms of infection. It was natural 
that we should gladly listen to this proposition, 
and that we should consequently be off our guard 
during the conference. While the answer was 
under consideration, a volley of shot and shells 



Sill SIDNEY SMITH. 189 

on a sudden announced an assault, which, how- 
ever, the garrison was ready to receive, and the 
assailants only contributed to increase the number 
of the dead bodies in question, to the eternal 
disgrace of the general, who thus disloyally sacri- 
ficed them. I saved the life of the Arab from 
the effect of the indignation of the Turks, and 
took him off to the Tigre with me, from whence 
I sent him back to the general with a message, 
which made the French army ashamed of having 
been exposed to such a merited reproof. Subor- 
dination was now at an end ; and all hopes of 
success having vanished, the enemy had no al- 
ternative left but a precipitate retreat, which was 
put in execution in the night between the 20th 
and 21st instant. I had above said that the 
battering-train of artillery (except the carriages, 
which were burnt) is now in our hands, amount- 
ing to twenty-three pieces. The howitzers and 
medium twelve-pounders, originally conveyed by 
land with much difficulty, and successfully em- 
ployed to make the first breach, were embarked 
in the country vessels at Jaffa, to be conveyed 
coastwise, together with the worst among the two 
thousand wounded, which embarrassed the march 
of the army. The operation was to be expected ; 
I took care, therefore, to be between Jaffa and 
Damietta before the French army could get as 



190 MEMOIRS OF 

far as the former place. The vessels being hur- 
ried to sea, without seamen to navigate them, 
and the wounded being in want of every neces- 
sary, even water and provisions, they steered 
straight to his Majesty's ships, in full confidence 
of receiving the succours of humanity, in which 
they were not disappointed. I have sent them 
on to Damietta, where they will receive further 
aid as their situation requires, and which it was 
out of my power to give to so many. Their ex- 
pressions of gratitude to us were mingled with 
execrations on the name of their general, who 
had, as they said, thus exposed them to peril, 
rather than fairly and honourably renew the 
intercourse with the English, which he had 
broken off by a false and malicious assertion 
that I had intentionally exposed the former 
prisoners to the infection of the plague. To 
the honour of the French army be it said, 
this assertion was not believed by them, and it 
thus recoiled on its author. The intention of it 
was evidently to do away the effect which the 
proclamation of the Porte began to make on the 
soldiers, whose eager hands were held above the 
parapet of their works to receive them when 
thrown from the breach. He cannot plead mis- 
information as his excuse, his aide-de-camp, M. 
LaHemand, having had free intercourse with 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 191 

these prisoners on board the Tigre, when he came 
to treat about them ; and they having been 
ordered, though too late, not to repeat their ex- 
pressions of contentment at the prospect of going 
home. It was evident to both sides, that when a 
general had recourse to such a shallow, and at 
the same time to such a mean artifice as a mali- 
cious falsehood, all better resources were at an 
end, and the defection in his army was con- 
sequently increased to the highest pitch. The 
utmost disorder has been manifested in the re- 
treat ; and the whole track between Acre and Gaza 
is strewed with the dead bodies of those who have 
sunk under fatigue, or the effect of slight 
wounds ; such as could walk, unfortunately for 
them, not having been embarked. The rowing 
gunboats annoyed the van column of the retreat- 
ing army in its march along the beach, and the 
Arabs harassed its rear when it turned inland to 
avoid their fire. We observed the smoke of 
musketry behind the sand-hills from the attack 
of a party of them which came down to our 
boats, and touched our flag with every token of 
union and respect. Ismael Pasha, governor of 
Jerusalem, to whom notice was sent of Bona- 
parte's preparations for retreat, having entered 
this town by land at the same time that we 
brought our guns to bear on it by sea, a stop was 



MEMOIRS OF 

put to the massacre and pillage already begun 
by the Naplausians. The English flag rehoisted 
on the consul's house (under which the Pasha 
met me) serves as an asylum for all religions, and 
every description of the surviving inhabitants. 
The heaps of unburied Frenchmen lying on the 
bodies of those whom they massacred two months 
ago, afford another proof of divine justice, which 
has caused these murderers to perish by the infec- 
tion arising from their own atrocious act. Seven 
poor wretches are left alive in the hospital, where 
they are protected, and shall be taken care of. 
We have had a most dangerous and painful duty, 
in disembarking here, to protect the inhabitants ; 
but it has been effectually done ; and Ismael 
Pasha deserves every credit for his humane 
exertions and cordial co-operation to that effect. 
Two thousand cavalry are just despatched to 
harass the French rear, and I am in hopes to 
overtake their van in time to profit by their dis- 
order ; but this will depend on the assembling of 
sufficient force, and on exertions of which I am 
not absolutely master, though I do my utmost 
to give the necessary impulse, and a right di- 
rection. 

" I have every confidence that the officers and 
men of the three ships under my orders, who, in 
the face of a most formidable enemy, have forti- 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 193 

fied a town that had not a single heavy gun 
mounted on the land-side, and who have carried 
on all intercourse by boats, under a constant fire 
of musketry and grape, will be able efficaciously 
to assist the army in its future operations. This 
letter will be delivered to your lordship by Lieu- 
tenant Canes, first of the Tigre, whom I have 
judged worthy to command the Theseus, as cap- 
tain, ever since the death of my much-lamented 
friend and coadjutor, Captain Miller. I have 
taken Lieutenant England, first of that ship, to 
my assistance in the Tigre, by whose exertions, 
and those of Lieutenant Summers and Mr. Atkin- 
son, together with the bravery of the rest of the 
officers and men, that ship was saved, though on 
fire in five places at once, from a deposit of 
French shells bursting on board her. 

*' I have the honour to be, &c. 

" W. SIDNEY SMITH. 
" Right Hon. Lord Nelson" frc. 

All who ever knew, either officially or person- 
ally, Sir William Sidney Smith, will avouch 
that he is incapable of wilful misrepresentation. 
With all our respect for Bonaparte's splendid 
genius, and fully entering into the astounding 
difficulties with which he was surrounded, we 
must pronounce that the above-quoted document 

VOL. i. o 



194 MEMOIRS OF 

is damnatory to his fame. We have attentively 
perused, arid deeply considered, the numerous 
defences by his adherents and admirers, as well 
as what the Emperor himself has said upon those 
charges so abhorrent to humanity, and we have 
found in those attempted justifications nothing 
but the palliations of expediency. His conduct 
at Acre is a great blot upon his fame. 

When Barry O'Meara, the English surgeon 
attached to Bonaparte at St. Helena, conversed 
with Bonaparte on this subject, he honestly re- 
plied, that " Sir Sidney displayed great talent 
and bravery ;" and confessed that he was the 
chief cause of his failure there, on account of his 
having taken all his battering-train in the manner 
we have narrated. He declared that, had it not 
been for that, he would have taken Acre in spite 
of him. He acknowledged that he behaved very 
bravely, and that he was most ably supported by 
Phelypeaux, whom Bonaparte called a man of 
talent, saying that he had studied engineering 
under him. He also does justice to Major 
Douglas, remarking that he behaved very gal- 
lantly ; and proceeds in his remarks, accounting 
for his defeat, thus : " The acquisition of five 
or six hundred seamen as canonniers was a great 
advantage to the Turks, whose spirits they re- 
vived, and whom they showed how to defend 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 

the fortress. But he committed a great fault 
in making sorties," (one of which, by its success, 
turned the fate of the struggle,) " which cost the 
lives of two or three hundred brave fellows, with- 
out the possibility of success ; for it was impos- 
sible that he could succeed against the number of 
French before Acre. 

" I would lay a wager that he lost half of his 
crew in them." (The ex-emperor was wrong 
there.) " He dispersed proclamations among 
my troops, which certainly shook some of them ; 
and I, in consequence, published an order, stating 
that he was mad, and forbidding all communica- 
tion with him. Some days after, he sent, by 
a lieutenant or midshipman, a flag of truce, 
with a challenge to meet me at some place 
which he pointed out, in order to fight a duel. 
I laughed at this, and sent back intimation that 
when he sent Marlborough to fight me, I would 
meet him. Notwithstanding this, I like the cha- 
racter of the man." 

We may be indulged in some observations 
upon this fanfarade, which is altogether highly 
honourable to Sir Sidney ; still more so, seeing 
it came from the mouth of a renowned and beaten 
enemy. 

In the abstract, we do not think that the dis- 
persing incitements to revolt amongst the soldiery 

o 2 



196 MEMOIRS OF 

of an enemy is a legitimate we know it not to 
be a fair method of warfare ; but, in this case, 
it was only a very gentle retaliation of a system 
carried on outrageously by Bonaparte himself. 
We hold it to be as ungenerous and as trea- 
cherous to endeavonr to raise to revolt and to 
poison the minds of the enemy, as it would be 
morally to drug the wells and springs at which 
they must drink. But Bonaparte set the ex- 
ample of this moral poisoning, and fought in 
Egypt almost as much by proclamation as by the 
ball and bayonet. The taunt, therefore, comes 
with but an ill grace from the mouth of Nap >- 
leon. 

He could not help dashing a little cold water 
into his freewill offering of praise; he was 
beaten, and therefore he not very wisely under- 
values and depreciates the powers which chas- 
tised him, which is a foolish sacrifice of pique at 
the shrine of personal vanity. 

As to the account of the duel affair, which we 
are inclined to believe, we confess that it is rather 
out of the usual routine of military matters, and, 
being a bad imitation of two or three examples 
of antiquity, is in execrable taste. But it is a 
mistake only of a high and chivalrous mind ; 
and viewing the gasconading answer of the 
challenged, we think Napoleon gains nothing at 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 197 

all by the story. Sir Sidney, in common with 
every Englishman of that period, had strong 
prejudices against Bonaparte, as the very head 
and heart of the demoralising and irreligious 
principles that it seemed to be the aim of France 
to establish throughout the world. To annihilate, 
at a single blow, this moral pest, seemed to be 
well worth the risk of one life to say no- 
thing at all of the purely personal insult that 
Bonaparte publicly put upon him, in proclaiming 
him mad. 

And a very pleasant thing it is to reflect upon 
the making an opponent mad by a general order. 
If Sir Sidney Smith was affected with madness, 
there was dreadful method in it a method that 
out-mano2iivred and out-generalled the man that 
discovered the insanity. We gladly take the 
wheat from this testimony of Bonaparte, and 
leave to him, and to those who blindly admire 
him, the chaff. 

We think that it may be fairly stated that the 
retreat of Bonaparte from before Acre was con- 
ducted in a spirit of exasperation and cruelty, 
generated by disappointed pride and baffled am- 
bition. He was great only in success, and a 
stranger to the greatest of greatness greatness in. 
adversity. In after life he attempted this 
grandeur, but could not support the character. 



I 98 MEMOIRS OF 

As he wended his miserable and discomfited way 
from the scene of his defeat, he seems to have 
been wholly the slave of passion and resentment, 
and to regret that his powers of showing his 
anger, mighty as they were, were too little for 
the magnitude of his will. 

It has been urged against him that, in his 
inarch the magazines and granaries with which 
he met were all fired, that desolation and rapine 
marked his progress, that the cattle were 
wantonly destroyed, and " that the affrighted in- 
habitants, with rage in their hearts, beheld, with- 
out being able to prevent, the disasters which 
marked their invader's way." This may be true, 
but it is the common picture of all retreating 
armies; and let it be remembered that Bona- 
parte, as he marched, was continually in hostili- 
ties, and that it would not have been the most 
approved military strategy to have left to his 
pursuers magazines and well-stored granaries, 
with herds of fat cattle. Let us confine ourselves, 
in our condemnation of this great man, to the 
facts, and to the charges brought against him, in 
truth and in honesty, by Sir Sidney Smith. As 
we have before stated, some of his acts have been 
explained, and some palliated; yet still, the 
amount of guilt is heavy against him. 

In a siege of so long a duration as that which 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 199 

we have just narrated a siege in which the 
actual fighting was not only daily and hourly, 
but almost un intermitting, acts of individual 
heroism were numberless, and must remain for 
ever unrecorded. However, very many of these 
little Homeric episodes became extremely popular, 
and obtained their immortality of a day, and 
some even found their way into print. We be- 
lieve that we are acquainted with most of them, 
having repeatedly had the tedium of a middle 
watch changed into four hours of pleasurable ex- 
citement, by a full description of this siege, with 
all its attendant anecdotes, from a brother officer, 
an eye-witness. These anecdotes it would be 
amusing to preserve, and we would willingly give 
them a place in this biography, were they not 
foreign to our subject. One, however, we cannot 
refrain from shortly narrating, as many versions 
of it have appeared, and we believe that ours 
only is the true one. It is succinctly this. 

The seamen of the squadron took each their 
turn for the military service on the walls of Acre. 
One of them, belonging to the Tigre, had ob- 
served, in his spell ashore, the body of a French 
general, splendid in his uniform, that lay exposed 
in the very centre of the ditch. This dwelt on 
the mind of the honest, though the truth must be 
told somewhat obtuse-minded tar. Indeed, he 



200 MEMOIRS OF 

had never shown himself remarkable either for 
intellect or activity, and held no higher office in 
the ship than a waister. Yet, by some unexplained 
mental process, the fate and the un buried corpse 
of the French general had fixed themselves so 
strongly on his imagination, that he was de- 
termined, at all risks, to give his glittering dead 
opponent the rights of sepulture. The next day, 
though out of his turn, he asked and obtained 
permission to take his spell on the walls. No- 
thing divided the hostile entrenchments but this 
same ditch, and so closely placed were the foes 
to each other, that a moderate whisper could be 
easily heard from one embankment to the other. 
Nothing appeared above these embankments but 
a serried line of bayonets, for if a hat or a head, 
or anything tangible, appeared on either side, it 
was saluted with a volley of perforating balls. 
It was about noon, and the respective hostile 
lines were preserving a dead silence, anxiously 
watching for the opportunity of a shot at each 
other. Our seaman without informing any one 
of his intention, had provided himself with a 
spade and pickaxe suddenly broke the ominous 
silence by shouting out, in a stentorian voice, 
" Mounseers, a-hoy ! Vast heaving there a bit, 
will ye? and belay over all with your poppers for 
a spell." And then he shoved his broad uninean- 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 201 

ing face over the lines. Two hundred muskets 
were immediately pointed at him, but seeing him 
with only the implements of digging, and not 
exactly understanding his demand for a parley, 
the French forbore to fire. Jack very leisurely 
then scrambled over the entrenchment into the 
ditch, the muzzle of the enemy's muskets still fol- 
lowing his every motion. All this did not in the 
least disturb his sang froid; but going up to the 
French general, he took his measure in quite a 
business-like manner, and dug a very decent 
grave close alongside the defunct in glory. When 
this was finished, shaking what was so lately a 
French general very cordially and affectionately 
by the hand, he reverently placed him in his im- 
promptu grave, then shovelled the earth upon 
and made all smooth above him. When all was 
properly completed, he made his best sailor's bow 
and foot-scrape to the French, shouldered his im- 
plements of burial, and climbed over into his own 
quarters with the same imperturbability that had 
marked his previous appearance. This he did 
amidst the cheers of both parties. 

Now, our friend the waister seemed to think 
that he had done nothing extraordinary, and 
only remarked that he should sleep well. A few 
days after, another gaudily decorated French 
general carne on board the Tigre, on some mat- 



MEMOIRS OF 

ters of negociation, which when completed, he 
anxiously expressed a desire to see the interrer 
of his late comrade. The meeting took place, 
and Jack was highly praised for his heroism in a 
long speech, not one word of which, though in- 
terpreted to him, could he comprehend. Money 
was then offered him, which at first he did not 
like to take ; but he at length satisfied his scruples 
by telling the French officer he should be happy 
to do the same thing for him as he had done for 
his brother general for nothing. The French 
general begged to be excused, and thus ended the 
interview. 

Apologising for this somewhat simple digres- 
sion, we return to our biography ; and it is with 
unfeigned pleasure that we relate that the world 
was not, at that time, wholly deficient of grati- 
tude, and that splendid services were splendidly 
rewarded, without distinction of clique, creed, or 
party. When the Grand Seignior received the 
news of the horrible carnage in and before Acre, 
he shed tears. This grief, however, for the 
slaughter of his subjects did not prevent his 
rejoicing at the signal defeat Bonaparte sustained, 
and sustained wretchedly. His Imperial Majesty, 
to testify his satisfaction, presented the messenger 
with seven purses, containing altogether three 
thousand florins, and immediately sent a Tartar 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 203 

to Sir William Sidney Smith, with an aigrette 
and sable fur (similar to those bestowed upon 
Lord Nelson) worth twenty-five thousand piastres. 
He afterwards conferred upon him the insignia of 
the Ottoman order of the Crescent. 

The loss on the part of the British, in this 
glorious achievement, was comparatively small. 
The British squadron consisted of the Tigre, the 
Theseus, and the Alliance ; and these ships toge- 
ther had fifty-three killed, thirteen drowned, and 
eighty-two taken prisoners. We have already 
mentioned the death of some of the officers. 

The English estimation of Sir William Sidney 
Smith's eminent services nobly kept pace with 
Turkish gratitude. The enthusiasm of his coun- 
try in his favour was general, and a reference to 
the parliamentary reports of the time bear a last- 
ing and unequivocal testimony to the feelings of 
approbation with which his spirited as well as 
wise conduct was viewed. George III. himself, 
on the opening of the parliamentary session, on 
the 24th of September, 1799, noticed the heroism 
of Sir Sidney Smith, and the advantage that the 
nation were deriving from his success before Acre. 
Not only did the king's ministers and friends, 
but even their opponents, forgetting the rancours 
of party feeling in their enthusiasm for a military 
victory so splendid, when military victories 



204 MEMOIRS OF 

had not yet become the rule of the British 
arms, joined most heartily in the national ap- 
plause. 

On the 2d of October, when the imperial par- 
liament had met to pay a nation's just tribute of 
praise to its naval defenders, Lord Spencer thus 
did himself honour in addressing his brother 
peers. 

He said, that " he had next to take notice of an 
exploit which had never been surpassed, and 
scarcely ever equalled, in the annals of history 
he meant the defence of St. Jean d'Acre by Sir 
Sidney Smith. He had no occasion to impress 
upon their Lordships a higher sense than they 
already entertained of the brilliancy, utility, and 
distinction of an achievement, in which a general 
of great celebrity, and a veteran victorious army, 
were, after a desperate and obstinate engage- 
ment, which lasted almost without intermission 
for sixty days, not only repulsed, but totally 
defeated, by the gallantry and heroism of this 
British officer, and the small number of troops 
under his command. 

" He owned it was not customary, nor did he 
think it had any precedent in the proceedings of 
parliament, that so high an honour should be 
conferred on long services, which might be per- 
formed by a force so inconsiderable in point of 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 205 

numbers ; but the splendour of such an exploit, 
as defeating a veteran and well-appointed army, 
commanded by experienced generals, and which 
had already overrun a great part of Europe, a 
fine portion of Africa, and attempted also the 
conquest of Asia, eclipsed all former examples, 
and could not be subjected to the rules of ordi- 
nary usage. He, therefore, in full confidence of 
universal approbation, moved " the thanks of 
the House to Captain Sir William Sidney Smith, 
arid the British seamen under his command, for 
their gallant and successful defence of St. Jean 
d'Acre against the desperate attack of the 
French army, under the command of General 
Bonaparte." 

This speech was received with great and uni- 
versal cheering ; upon which Lord Hood rose and 
said " He could not give a vote on the present 
occasion without bearing his testimony to the 
skill and valour of Sir Sidney, which had been 
so conspicuously and brilliantly exerted when he 
had the honour and benefit of having him under 
his command. Had that officer been at the head 
of a more considerable force, there was every 
probability that not a Frenchman would have 
escaped. The nation must be sensible of the 
importance and benefit of the service that had 
been achieved ; and judging from his character 



MEMOIRS OF 

and conduct, he made no doubt but even this 
was only an earnest of his future glory, when- 
ever an opportunity presented itself." 

Lord Grenville said " There never was a mo- 
tion, since he had had a seat in that House, to which 
he gave a more hearty concurrence and assent. 
The circumstance of so eminent a service having 
been performed with so inconsiderable a force 
was, with him, an additional reason for affording 
this testimony of public gratitude, and the high- 
est honour this House had it in its power to con- 
fer. By this gallant and unprecedented resist- 
ance, we behold the conqueror of Italy, the 
future Alexander, not only defeated and driven 
from the situation at which he had arrived, but 
also obliged to retreat in disorder and confusion 
to parts where it was not likely that he would 
find shelter from the pursuit of British skill and 
intrepidity. How glorious must the whole ap- 
pear, when they looked to the contrast between 
the victors and the vanquished ! Bonaparte's 
progress throughout the whole of his military 
career was marked with every trait of cruelty 
and treachery. Sir Sidney Smith, in defiance 
of every principle of humanity, and of all the 
acknowledged rules of war, had been long, with 
the most cool and cruel inflexibility, confined 
in a dungeon of the Temple, from which he 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. '207 

only escaped by his own address and intrepidity. 
But the French, by making him an exception 
from the general usages of war, had only mani- 
fested their sense of his value, and how much 
they were afraid of him. This hero, in the pro- 
gress of events, was afterwards destined to op- 
pose the enemy in a distant quarter ; and, instead 
of indulging in any sentiments of revenge or re- 
sentment against his former persecutors, indulged 
the natural feelings of his heart, by interfering 
and saving the lives of a number of French pri- 
soners. Soon after this, when victorious in an 
obstinate contest, where he was but indifferently 
supported by the discipline of the native troops, 
or means of defence in the fortifications of the 
fortress, he generously and humanely lent his 
protecting aid to a body of miserable and 
wounded Frenchmen, who implored his assist- 
ance, when the cruelty and obstinacy of their 
own general had devoted them to almost inevi- 
able destruction." 

The motion was then agreed to nem. diss., with 
a vote of thanks to the British officers, seamen, 
and troops under Sir Sidney Smith. 

In the House of Commons, on the previous 
16th of September, Mr. Dundas, in moving the 
thanks of the House on a similar occasion to that 



208 MEMOIRS OF 

which we have just related, thus alluded to the 
services of our gallant officer. 

" A twelvemonth had not elapsed since this 
country felt some apprehension on account of the 
probable destination of the French army in 
Egypt an apprehension which was much allayed 
by the memorable and glorious victory of Lord 
Nelson. The power of that army had been still 
much further reduced by the efforts of Sir Sidney 
Smith, who, with a handful of men, surprised 
a whole nation, who were his spectators, with the 
brilliancy of his triumph, contesting for sixt}' 
days with an enterprising and intrepid general 
at the head of his whole army. This conduct of 
Sir Sidney Smith was so surprising to him, that 
he hardly knew how to speak of it ; he had not 
recovered from the astonishment which the ac- 
count of the action had thrown him into. He 
had looked at it over and over again, and no 
view that he had been able to take of it had quite 
recovered him from the surprise and amazement 
which the account of the matter gave him. How- 
ever, so it was ; and the merit of Sir Sidney 
Smith was now the object of consideration, to 
praise or to esteem which too highly was impos- 
sible. He had heard that Sir Sidney Smith, who 
had his difficulties, had been spoken of lightly by 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 209 

some persons; whoever they were, they were in- 
considerate, and they might be left now to their 
inward sharne, if they did not recant. Be that as 
it might, the House, he was confident, agreed 
with him that the conduct of Sir Sidney Smith, 
for heroism, and intrepidity, and active exertion, 
was never surpassed on any occasion. He was 
glad of the opportunity that he had to say 
this." 

He then moved, that " the thanks of this 
House be given to Captain Sir Sidney Smith, 
for the conspicuous skill and heroism by which, 
with a few seamen under his command, he ani- 
mated the Turkish troops against the formidable 
and desperate attack of the French army under 
the command of- General Bonaparte." Passed, 
nem. con. 

In this gratifying and distinguished manner 
were unanimously voted the thanks of both 
Houses of Parliament to Sir William Sidney 
Smith, and the officers and seamen under his 
command. To the commodore these demon- 
strations were accompanied by a testimonial 
more substantial, if not more honourable, in the 
shape of a well-earned pension of one thousand 
pounds per annum. 

Nor did municipal gratitude lag in this ge- 
nerous race of recompensing the brave. The 

VOL. i. p 



210 MEMOIRS OF 

city of London presented our hero with its free- 
dom, accompanied by a sword valued at one 
hundred guineas. From the Turkey Company 
he also received a sword valued at thrice the 
price of the gift of the metropolitan corporation. 



Silt SIDNEY SMITH. 211 



CHAPTER XVI. 

Bonaparte's assumption of Mahometanism His victory over 
the Turks His flight from Egypt Successes of the 
English and their Allies Kleber's proposition to evacuate 
Egypt The Convention of El Arish. 

WE are sincerely grieved that it falls to our lot 
so often to be compelled to mention the delinquen- 
cies of our once inveterate and at last conquered 
foe, the late Emperor of the French. We do this 
in no spirit of detraction, as we trust that there 
is sufficient of credit accruing to Sir Sidney Smith, 
without being compelled to place his conduct in 
striking contrast with his then infuriated enemy. 
But some of the unjustifiable acts of Bona- 
parte we must relate, in order that the measures 
undertaken by Sir Sidney to counteract their 
effects may be fully understood. 

About a month after the defeated and disor- 
ganised republican army reached Cairo, a Turkish 
Squadron came to an anchor off Aboukir. In 
announcing this event to the Egyptian Mussul- 

p 2 



212 MEMOIRS OF 

mans Bonaparte had recourse to the following 
unwarrantable and absurd expressions in his 
proclamation : " On board that fleet are Rus- 
sians, who hold in horror all who believe in the 
unity of God, because, in their lies, they believe 
in three Gods ; but they will soon see that it 
is riot in the number of gods that strength consists. 
The true believer who embarks in a ship where 
the cross is flying, he who hears, every day, the 
one only God blasphemed, is worse than an 
infidel/' 

This assumption of credence in the Maho- 
medan faith was despicably mean, and wholly 
unworthy of the talents of a great general. He 
needed not this paltry deceit, for he conquered 
this force honourably and fairly in the field. 

On the llth of July, the Turkish army disem- 
barked, at Aboukir, and soon made themselves 
masters of the fort, the garrison of which they 
put to the sword, in retaliation of the massacre 
which disgraced the French at Jaffa. It is 
earnestly to be wished that English influence had 
prevented this last useless atrocity useless to the 
momentary conquerors, but replete with evil con- 
sequences to them in the sequel. 

Confident of victory over a rash and undis- 
ciplined army, which had thus commenced its 
inauspicious career by a gratuitous cruelty, Bona- 



Sill SIDNEY SMITH. 213 

parte immediately commenced his preparations 
by augmenting his cavalry with a number of fleet 
Arabian horses, and immediately set forward to 
meet his enemy. 

In the meanwhile, Sir Sidney Smith, after the 
dispersal of the French army from before Acre, 
leaving every assistance in his power to the 
Turkish forces to enable them, with spirit, to 
follow up their advantages, had repaired to 
the different islands in the Archipelago, in 
order to refit the vessels and to recruit the health 
of the crews of his little squadron, and to Constan- 
tinople also, to concert such measures with the 
Ottoman government that might lead to the final 
expulsion of the common enemy from Egypt. 
He returned to Aboukir bay just in time to 
witness the encounter between the Turks and the 
French, which proved so disastrous to the former, 
and which defeat was the more mortifying to him, 
as he was unable to render any assistance to his 
rash allies. 

At six o'clock on the morning of the 25th, the 
French made their appearance before the lines of 
entrenchment that the Turks had thrown up be- 
fore Aboukir. At the first onset the French, 
who immediately attempted to storm the works, 
were repulsed with great loss to themselves. 
But the Mussulmans, though individually brave, 



214 MEMOIRS OF 

had not yet learned to act in combined masses 
with success, even against a beaten enemy. 
Elevated by the partial advantage that their 
bravery and physical strength had procured, they 
rushed out tumultuously from their entrench- 
ments, and, according to their custom, began 
lopping off the heads of the slain and wounded. 
In the dispersion necessary to this barbarous 
operation, they exposed themselves to an im- 
petuous attack of the republican generals, Lannes 
and the afterwards celebrated Murat. A dread- 
ful carnage ensued, which terminated in a total 
defeat of the Turbans, and the recapture of 
Aboukir. 

In this sanguinary conflict the greatest part 
of the Turkish army perished, for those who 
escaped the sword were mostly drowned in their 
fruitless attempt to get off to the vessels in the 
bay. As they had so lately refused quarter to 
the enemy, they expected and they received 
none. 

Disastrous as was this defeat to the common 
cause, it was productive of one advantage, the 
freeing of the Egyptian soil from the presence of 
Bonaparte. This last victory of his forces afforded 
him the means of making his flight appear the 
less dishonourable. He immediately sent home 
a splendid despatch of his victory, and, four days 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 215 

after its receipt by the Directory, he astonished 
them by his presence, having left Egypt on the 
*24th August, and landed at Frejus on the follow- 
ing 7th of October, to commence a career of 
military glory, for long unchecked until the fatal 
opposition of the English in Spain. 

Towards the conclusion of this October, a con- 
siderable reinforcement of troops and ships having 
arrived from Constantinople, Sir William Sidney 
Smith, accompanied by the Turkish vice-admiral, 
Seid Ali Bey, resolved to proceed to the Da- 
mietta branch of the Nile, and to make an 
attack on that quarter, which, by thus occupying 
the attention of the enemy, would leave the 
Grand Vizier more at liberty to advance on the 
French, with the grand Egyptian army, on the 
side of the Desert. This plan of operations had 
been previously arranged between the com- 
manders of the two forces. The result of this we 
will give in the commodore's own words, in his 
despatch to Lord Nelson, dated November 8th, 
1799. It is a melancholy recital, and goes com- 
pletely to prove how inadequate were the Turkish 
troops to act in masses. 

" I lament to have to inform your Lordship of 
the melancholy death of Patrona Bey, the Turkish 
vice-admiral, who was assassinated at Cyprus in 
a mutiny of the Janissaries on the 18th October. 



216 MEMOIRS OF 

The command devolved on Seid All Bey, who had 
just joined me with the troops from Constanti- 
nople, composing the second maritime expedition 
for the recovery of Egypt. As soon as our joint 
exertions had restored order, we proceeded to the 
mouth of the Damietta branch of the Nile to 
make an attack thereon, as combined with the 
Supreme Vizier, in order to draw the attention of 
the enemy that way, and leave his highness more 
at liberty to advance with the grand army on the 
side of the Desert. The attack began by the 
Tigre's boats taking possession of a ruined castle, 
situated on the eastern side of the Bogaz, or 
entrance of the channel, which the inundation of 
the Nile had insulated from the mainland, leav- 
ing a fordable passage. The Turkish flag dis- 
played on the tower of this castle was at once the 
signal for the Turkish gunboats to advance, and 
for the enemy to open their fire in order to dis- 
lodge us : their nearest post being a redoubt on 
the mainland, with two thirty-two pounders, and 
an eight-pounder field-piece mounted thereon, at 
point-blank shot distance. 

" The fire was returned from the launch's car- 
ronade, mounted in a breach in the castle, and 
from field-pieces in the small boats, which soon 
obliged the enemy to discontinue working at an 
intrenchment they were making to oppose a 



Sill SIDNEY SMITH. 217 

landing. Lieutenant Stokes was detached with 
the boats to check a body of cavalry advancing 
along the neck of land, in which he succeeded ; 
but, I am sorry to say, with the loss of one man 
killed and one wounded. This interchange of 
shot continued with little intermission during the 
29th, 30th, and 31st, while the Turkish transports 
were drawing nearer to the landing-place, our 
shells from the carronade annoying the enemy in 
his works and communications ; at length the 
magazine blowing up, and one of their thirty- 
two pounders being silenced, a favourable mo- 
ment offered for disembarkation. Orders were 
given accordingly ; but it was not till the morn- 
ing of the 1st of November that they could effec- 
tuate this operation. 

"This delay gave time for the enemy to collect 
a force more than double that of the first division 
landed, and to be ready to attack it before the 
return of the boats with the remainder. The 
French advanced to the charge with bayonets. 
The Turks completely exculpated themselves from 
the suspicion of cowardice having been the cause 
of their delay ; for when the enemy were within 
ten yards of them, they rushed on, sabre in hand, 
arid in an instant completely routed the first line 
of the French infantry. The day was ours for 
the moment ; but the impetuosity of Osmaii Aga 



218 MEMOIRS OF 

and his troops occasioned them to quit the sta- 
tion assigned them as a corps of reserve, and to 
run forward in pursuit of the fugitives. European 
tactics were of course advantageously employed 
by the French at this critical juncture. Their 
body of reserve came on in perfect order, while 
a charge of cavalry on the left of the Turks put 
them completely to the rout in their turn. Our 
flanking fire from the castle and boats, which had 
been hitherto plied with evident effect, was now 
necessarily suspended by the impossibility of 
pointing clear of the Turks in the confusion. 
The latter turned a random fire on the boats, to 
make them take them off, and the sea was in an 
instant covered with turbans, while the air was 
filled with piteous moans, calling to us for as- 
sistance. It was (as at Aboukir) a duty of some 
difficulty to afford it them, without being victims 
to their impatience, or overwhelmed with num- 
bers: we however persevered, and saved all, 
except those whom the French took prisoners, 
by wading into the water after them ; neither 
did the enemy interrupt us much in so doing." 

Nothing discouraged by this repulse, or at 
least putting a bold face on these disasters, on 
the 29th of December ensuing, a detachment of 
marines, under Colonel Douglas, Lieutenant- 
Colonel Bromley, Captains Winter and Trotte, 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 219 

and Mr. Thomas Smith, midshipman of the 
Tigre, accompanied an advanced body of the 
army of the Grand Vizier from Gaza to El 
Arish. 

The fort El Arish was summoned, and the 
French refusing to capitulate, the place was re- 
connoitred by the English, and batteries imme- 
diately erected ; the whole of which when opened 
had the most complete success. On the morn- 
ing of the 29th, the enemy ceased to return the 
fire of the besiegers, and the fort, without any 
terms of capitulation being stipulated, was taken 
possession of. This success was disgraced by the 
revengeful ferocity of the Turks, whose thirst for 
blood could not be restrained. Three hundred 
of the French garrison were put to the sword by 
the Osmanlis. 

The admixture of the British forces with the 
Turks had taught Jthese barbarians admiration, 
but not mercy. They were unceasing in their 
applauses of the cheerful manner in which the 
detachment from the English squadron performed 
their unusual duties, exposed as they were on the 
Desert without tents, ill-fed, and with nothing 
but brackish water to drink. They beheld 
with astonishment these triumphs of civilised 
discipline. 

The year 1799 was hardly completed, when 



220 MEMOIRS OF 

General Kleber, who had been left in command 
in Egypt on its abandonment by Bonaparte, had 
entered into a convention with the Grand Vizier 
for the total evacuation of Egypt by the French 
forces. This document was finally signed on the 
24th January, 1800, and to which Sir William 
Sidney Smith, as auxiliary commander on the 
part of Great Britain, willingly acceded. 

" Convention for the Evacuation of Egypt, agreed 
upon by Citizens Desaix, General of Division, 
and Poussielgue, Administrator- general of 
Finances, Plenipotentiaries of the Commander- 
in- Chief Kleber, and their Excellencies Mou- 
stafa Rascliid Effendi Testerdar, and Moustafa 
Rassiche Effendi Riessul Knitab, Ministers 
Plenipotentiaries of his Highness the Supreme 
Vizier. 

" The French army in Egypt, wishing to give a 
proof of its desire to stop the effusion of blood, 
and to put an end to the unfortunate disagree- 
ments which have taken place between the French 
republic and the sublime Porte, consent to eva- 
cuate Egypt on the stipulations of the present 
convention, hoping that this concession will pave 
the way for the general pacification of Europe. 

" I. The French army will retire with its arms, 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 221 

baggage, and effects, to Alexandria, Rosetta, and 
Aboukir, there to be embarked and transported 
to France, both in its own vessels and in those 
which it will be necessary for the Sublime Porte 
to furnish it with : and in order that the aforesaid 
vessels may be the more speedily prepared, it is 
agreed, that a month after the ratification of the 
present convention, there shall be sent to the fort 
of Alexandria a commissary, with fifty purses, 
on the part of the Sublime Porte. 

" II. There shall be an armistice of three months 
in Egypt, reckoning from the time of the signa- 
ture of the present convention ; and in case the 
truce shall expire before the aforesaid vessels to 
be furnished by the Sublime Porte shall be ready, 
the said truce shall be prolonged till the embark- 
ation can be completely effected, it being under- 
stood on both sides that all possible means will 
be employed to secure the tranquillity of the 
armies and of the inhabitants, which is the object 
of the truce. 

" III. The transport of the French army shall 
take place according to the regulations of com- 
missaries appointed for this purpose by the Sub- 
lime Porte and General Kleber ; and if any dif- 
ference of opinion shall take place between the 
aforesaid commissaries respecting the embark- 
ation, one shall be appointed by Commodore Sir 



222 MEMOIRS OF 

Sidney Smith, who shall decide the difference 
according to the maritime regulations of Eng- 
land. 

" IV. The forts of Cathie and Salachich shall 
be evacuated by the French troops on the 8th 
day, or at the latest on the 10th day after the ra- 
tification of this convention. The town of Man- 
soura shall be evacuated on the 15th day, 
Damietta and Balbey on the 20th day. Suez 
shall be evacuated six days before Cairo. The 
other places on the east bank of the Nile shall be 
evacuated on the 10th day. The Delta shall be 
evacuated fifteen days after the evacuation of 
Cairo. The west banks of the Nile and its de- 
pendencies shall remain in the hands of the 
French till the evacuation of Cairo ; and mean- 
while, as they must be occupied by the French 
army till all its troops shall have descended from 
Upper Egypt, the said western bank and its de- 
pendencies will not be evacuated till the expira- 
tion of the truce, if it is impossible to evacuate 
them sooner. The places evacuated shall be 
given up to the Sublime Porte in the same situa- 
tion in which they are at present. 

" V. The city of Cairo shall be evacuated after 
forty days, if that is possible, or at the latest after 
forty-five days, reckoning from the ratification of 
the treaty. 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 223 

" VI. It is expressly agreed, that the Sublime 
Porte shall use every effort that the French troops 
may fall back through the different places on the 
left bank of the Nile, with their arms and baggage, 
towards the head-quarters, without being dis- 
turbed or molested on their march in their 
persons, property, or honour, either by the inha- 
bitants of Egypt or the troops of the imperial 
Ottoman army. 

"VII. In consequence of the former article, 
and in order to prevent all difference and hos- 
tilities, measures shall be taken to keep the 
Turkish always at a sufficient distance from the 
French army. 

" VIII. Immediately after the ratification of 
the present convention, all the Turks and other 
nations, without distinction, subjects of the Sub- 
lime Porte, imprisoned or retained in France, or 
in the power of the French in Egypt, shall be set 
at liberty ; and, on the other hand, all the French 
detained in the cities and seaport towns of the 
Ottoman empire, as well as every person of what- 
ever nation they may be, attached to French 
legations and consulates, shall be also set at 
liberty. 

" IX. The restitution of the goods and property 
of the inhabitants and subjects of both sides, or 
the payment of their value to the proprietors, 



224 MEMOIRS OF 

shall commence immediately after the evacuation 
of Egypt, and shall be regulated at Constantinople 
by commissaries appointed respectively for the 
purpose. 

"X. No inhabitant of Egypt, of whatever reli- 
gion he may be, shall be disturbed either in his 
person or his property, on account of any con- 
nexions he may have had with the French during 
their possession of Egypt. 

" XI. There shall be delivered to the French 
army, as well on the part of the Sublime Porte 
as of the courts of its allies, that is to say, of 
Russia and of Great Britain, passports, safe con- 
ducts, and convoys, necessary to secure its safe 
return to France. 

"XII. When the French army of Egypt shall 
be embarked, the Sublime Porte, as well as its 
allies, promise that till its return to the continent 
of France it shall not be disturbed in any manner; 
and on this side, General-in-chief Kleber, and 
the French army in Egypt, promise not to commit 
any act of hostility during the aforesaid time, 
either against the fleets or against the territories 
of the Sublime Porte, and that the vessels which 
shall transport the said army shall not stop on 
any other coast than that of France, except from 
absolute necessity. 

" XIII. In consequence of the truce of three 



Sill SIDNEY SMITH. 225 

months stipulated above with the French army 
for the evacuation of Egypt, the contracting 
parties agree, that if in the interval of the said 
truce some vessels from France, unknown to the 
commanders of the allied fleets, should enter the 
port of Alexandria, they shall depart from it, 
after having taken in water and the necessary pro- 
visions, and shall return to France with passports 
from the allied courts ; and in case any of the 
said vessels should require reparation, these alone 
may remain till the said reparations are finished, 
and shall depart immediately after, like the pre- 
ceding, with the first favourable wind. 

" XIV. The general- in-chief Kleber may send 
advices immediately to France, and the vessel 
that conveys them shall have the safe conduct 
necessary for securing the communication, by the 
said advices, to the French government, of the 
news of the evacuation of Egypt. 

" XV. There being no doubt that the French 
army will stand in need of daily supplies of pro- 
visions during the three months in which it is to 
evacuate Egypt, and during other three months, 
reckoning from the day on which it is embarked, 
it is agreed, that it shall be supplied with the 
necessary quantities of corn, meat, rice, barley, 
and straw, according to a statement which shall 
be immediately given in by the French plenipo- 

VOL. I. Q 



226 MEMOIRS OF 

tentiaries, as well for the stay in the country as 
for the voyage. Whatever supplies the army 
shall draw from its magazines, after the ratifica- 
tion of the present convention, shall be deducted 
from those furnished by the Sublime Porte. 

" XVI. Counting from the day of the ratifica- 
tion of the present treaty, the French army shall 
not raise any contribution in Egypt ; on the con- 
trary, it shall abandon to the Sublime Porte the 
ordinary leviable contributions which remain to 
it, to be levied after its departure, as well as the 
camels, dromedaries, ammunition, cannon, and 
other things which it shall not think necessary to 
carry away. The same shall be the case with the 
magazines of grain, arising from the contribu- 
tions already levied, and the magazines of pro- 
visions. These objects shall be examined and 
valued by commissaries sent to Egypt by the 
Sublime Porte, and by the commander of the 
British forces, conjointly with those of the Gene- 
ral-in-chief Kleber, and paid by the former, at 
the rate of the valuation so made, to the amount 
of three thousand purses, which will be necessary 
to the French army, for accelerating its move- 
ments and its embarkation ; and if the objects 
above mentioned do not amount to this sum, the 
deficit shall be advanced by the Sublime Porte, 
in the form of a loan, which will be paid by the 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 227 

French government upon the bills of the com- 
missaries appointed by General-in-chief Kleber 
to receive the said sum. 

" XVII. The French having expenses to incur 
in the evacuation of Egypt, it shall receive, after 
the ratification of the present convention, the 
sums stipulated, in the following order, viz. the 
fifteenth day and the twentieth day, five hundred 
purses ; the fortieth day, the fiftieth, sixtieth, the 
seventieth, and eightieth day, three hundred 
purses; and finally, the ninetieth day, five hun- 
dred purses. All the said purses, of five hun- 
dred Turkish piastres each, shall be received in 
loan from the persons commissioned to this effect 
by the Sublime Porte ; and in order to facilitate 
the execution of the said disposition, the Sublime 
Porte, immediately after the ratification of the 
convention, shall send commissaries to the city of 
Cairo, and to the other cities occupied by the 
armies. 

" XVIII. The contributions which the French 
shall receive after the date of the ratification and 
before the notification of the present conven- 
tion in the different parts of Egypt, shall be 
deducted from the amount of the three thousand 
purses above stipulated. 

" XIX. In order to facilitate and accelerate 
the evacuation of the places, the navigation of 

Q 2 



MEMOIRS OF 

the French transport-vessels which shall be in the 
ports of Egypt shall be free during the three 
months' truce, from Damietta and Rosetta to 
Alexandria, and from Alexandria to Damietta 
and Rosetta. 

" XX. The safety of Europe requiring the 
greatest precautions to prevent the contagion of 
the plague from being carried thither, no person, 
either sick, or suspected of being infected by this 
malady, shall be embarked ; but all persons af- 
flicted with the plague, or any other malady, 
which shall not allow their removal in the time 
agreed upon for the evacuation, shall remain in 
the hospitals, where they shall be under the safe- 
guard of his highness the Vizier, and shall be 
attended by the French officers of health, who 
shall remain with them until their health shall 
allow them to set off, which shall be as soon as 
possible. The eleventh and twelfth Articles of 
this convention shall be applicable to them as 
well as to the rest of the army ; and the com- 
mander-in-chief of the French army engages to 
give the most strict orders to the different officers 
commanding the troops embarked, not to allow 
the troops to disembark in any other ports than 
those which shall be pointed out by the officers 
of health as affording the greatest facility for 
performing the necessary, accustomed, and proper 
quarantine. 



. 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 229 

" XXI. All the difficulties which may arise, 
and which shall not be provided for by the pre- 
sent convention, shall be amicably settled between 
commissioners, appointed for that purpose by his 
highness the Grand Vizier and the General-in- 
chief Kleber, in such a manner as to facilitate 
the evacuation. 

" XXII. These presents shall not be effectual 
until after the respective ratifications, which are 
to be exchanged in eight days ; after which, they 
shall be religiously observed on both sides. 

" Done, signed, and sealed with our respective 
seals, &c., January 24, 1800. 

" DESAIX, General of Division, 

" POUSSIELGUE, 

" Plenipotentiaries of General Kleber. 

" MOUSTAFA RASCHID EFFENDI TESTERDAR, 
" MOUSTAFA RASSTCHE EFFENDI RIESSUL KNITAB, 
" Plenipotentiaries of his Highness the Supreme 

Vizier." 

" A true copy, according to the French part 
transmitted to the Turkish Minister in ex- 
change for their Turkish copy. 

(Signed) " POUSSIELGUE, 

" DESAIX. 
(Countersigned) " KLEBER." 



230 MEMOIRS OF 

By these documents it will be seen that it was 
stipulated that the French army, with all its 
stores, artillery, baggage, &c., with the French 
ships of war and transports at Alexandria, 
should be permitted to return to France unmo- 
lested by the allied powers. 

It is in the following manner that General 
Kleber justifies his conduct to the French nation. 
It will be seen, in a moment, how much he 
overstates the difficulties to which he was op- 
posed. 

" Kleber, General-in-Chief of the Army of 
Egypt, to the Executive Directory of the 
French Republic. 

" Camp of Salachich, January 30. 

" I have signed, citizens Directors, the treaty 
relative to the evacuation of Egypt, and I send 
you a copy of it. That which bears the signa- 
ture of the Grand Vizier cannot reach this place 
for a few days, the exchange of signatures being 
to take place at El- Arisen. 

" I have given you an account, in my former 
despatches, of the situation in which this army 
was placed. I have informed you also of the 
negociations which General Bonaparte had com- 
menced with the Grand Vizier, and which I have 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 231 

continued. Though at that time T had little de- 
pendence on the success of these negociations, T 
hoped that they would so far retard the march, 
and relax the preparations of the Grand Vizier, as 
to give you time to send me assistance in men or in 
arms, or, at least, orders respecting the disagreeable 
circumstances in which I was placed. I founded 
this hope of assistance upon my knowledge that the 
French and Spanish fleets were united at Toulon, 
and only wanted a favourable wind for sailing: they 
did indeed sail, but it was only to repass the 
Straits, and to return to Brest. This news was 
most distressing to the army, which learned, at 
the same time, our reverses in Italy, in Ger- 
many, in Holland, and even in La Vendee, with- 
out its appearing that any proper measure had 
been taken to arrest the course of the misfor- 
tunes which threatened even the existence of the 
republic. 

" Meanwhile the Vizier advanced from Da- 
mascus. On another quarter, about the middle 
of October, a fleet appeared before Damietta. It 
disembarked about four thousand Janizaries, who 
were to be followed by an equal number, but 
time was not left for their arrival. The first were 
attacked, and completely defeated in less than 
half an hour: the carnage was terrible; more 
than eight hundred of them were made prisoners. 



'232 MEMOIRS OF 

This event did not render the negotiations more 
easy. The Vizier manifested the same intentions, 
and did not suspend his march any longer than 
was necessary for forming his establishments, and 
procuring the means of transporting his troops. 
His army was then estimated at sixty thousand 
men ; but other pashas were following him, and 
were recruiting his army with new troops from 
all parts of Asia, as far as Mount Caucasus. The 
van of this army soon arrived at Jaffa. 

" Commodore Sir Sidney Smith wrote me 
about this time, that is to say, some days before 
the debarkation of Darnietta ; and as I knew all 
the influence which he had over the Vizier, I 
thought it my duty not only to answer him, but 
even to propose to him, as a place for holding 
conferences, the ship which he commanded : I 
was equally repugnant to receiving in Egypt 
English or Turkish plenipotentiaries, or to send- 
ing mine to the camp of the latter. My proposi- 
tion was accepted, and then the negociations as- 
sumed a more settled aspect. All this, however, 
did not stop the Ottoman army, which the Grand 
Vizier conducted towards Gaza. 

" During all this time the war continued in 
Upper Egypt, and the Beys, hitherto dispersed, 
thought of joining themselves to Mourad, who, 
constantly defeated, alluring to his cause the 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 233 

Arabs and the inhabitants of the province of 
Bennissoeuf, continued to keep some troops to- 
gether, and to give disturbance. The plague 
also threatened us with its ravages, and already 
was weekly depriving us of several men at Alex- 
andria and other places. 

" On the 21st of December, General Desaix 
and citizen Pouisselgue, whom I had appointed 
plenipotentiaries, opened the conferences with 
Sir Sidney Smith, on board the Tigre, to whom 
the Grand Vizier had given power to treat. They 
were to have kept on the coast between Damietta 
and Alexandria, but a very violent gale of wind 
having obliged them to get into the open sea, 
they remained out at sea for eighteen days : at 
the end of this time they landed at the camp of 
the Vizier. He had advanced against El-Arisch, 
and had possessed himself, on the 30th of De- 
cember, of that fort. This success was entirely 
owing to the remarkable cowardice of the garri- 
son, which surrendered, without righting, seven 
days after the attack. This event was so much 
the more unfortunate, as General Regnier was 
on his march to raise the blockade before the 
great body of the Turkish army had arrived. 

" From that moment it was impossible to hope 
to protract the negociations to any length. It 
was necessary to examine maturely the danger of 



234 MEMOIRS OF 

breaking them off, to lay aside all motives of 
personal vanity, and not to expose the lives of 
all the Frenchmen entrusted to me, to the ter- 
rible consequences which farther delay would ren- 
der inevitable. 

" The most recent account stated the Turkish 
army to amount to eighty thousand men, and it 
must still have increased : there were in it twelve 
pashas, six of whom were of the first rank. 
Forty-five thousand men were before El- Arisen, 
having fifty pieces of cannon, and waggons in 
proportion : this artillery was drawn by mules. 
Twenty other pieces of cannon were at the gates 
of Gaza with the corps of reserve : the remainder 
of the troops were at Jaffa, and in the neigh- 
bourhood of Ramli. Active foraging parties 
supplied the Vizier's camp with provisions : all 
the tribes of the Arabs were emulous of assisting 
this army, and furnished it with more than fif- 
teen thousand camels.* I am assured that the 
distributions were regularly made. All these 
forces were directed by European officers, and 
from five to six thousand Russians were every 
moment expected. 

" To this army I had to oppose eight thousand 

five hundred men, divided on the three points, 

Katich, Salachich, and Belbeys. This division 

t was necessary, in order to facilitate our commu- 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 235 

riications with Cairo, and in order to enable us 
to grant assistance speedily to the post which 
should be first attacked : in fact, it is certain that 
they all might have been turned or avoided. 
This is what Elfi Bey has recently done, who, 
during the negociations, entered with his Mama- 
lukes into the Charkie, in order to join the 
Billis Arabs, and to rejoin Mourad in Upper 
Egypt. The remainder of the army was distri- 
buted as follows : one ' thousand men, under the 
command of General Verdier, formed the garri- 
son of Lesbe, and were employed to raise contri- 
butions of money and provisions, and to keep in 
obedience the country between the canal of Ach- 
moun and that of Moes, blindly directed by the 
sheik Leskam. Eighteen hundred men were 
under the command of General Lannes, to 
supply with provisions the garrisons of Alexan- 
dria, Aboukir, and Rosetta, to restrain the Delta 
and the Batrira. Twelve hundred men remained 
at Cairo and Gaza, and they were obliged to 
furnish escorts for the convoys of the army; and, 
finally, two thousand five hundred men were in 
Upper Egypt, on a chain of more than one hun- 
dred and fifty leagues in extent : they had daily 
to fight the Beys and their partisans. The whole 
formed fifteen thousand men. Such, in fact, es- 
timating them at the highest, may be reckoned 



236 MEMOIRS OF 

the number of the disposable combatants in the 
army. 

" Notwithstanding this disproportion of force, 
I would have hazarded a battle, if I had 
had the certainty of the arrival of succours 
before the season of a debarkation. But this 
season having once arrived without my re- 
ceiving reinforcements, I should have been 
obliged to send five thousand men to the 
coasts. There would have remained to me three 
thousand men to defend a country, open on all 
parts, against an invasion of thirty thousand 
cavalry, seconded by the Arabs and the inhabit- 
ants, without a fortified place, without provisions, 
money, or ships. It behoved me to foresee this 
period, and to ask myself what I could then do 
for the preservation of the army. No means of 
safety remained ; it would be impossible to treat, 
but with arms in our hands, with undisciplined 
hordes of barbarous fanatics, who despise all the 
laws of war : these motives affected every mind ; 
they determined my opinion. I gave orders to 
my plenipotentiaries not to break off the ne- 
gociations, unless the articles proposed tended to 
the sacrifice of our glory or our security. 

'* I finish this account, citizens Directors, by 
observing to you, that the circumstances of my 
situation were riot foreseen in the instructions left 



Sill SIDNEY SMITH. 237 

me by General Bonaparte. When he promised 
me speedy succours, he founded his hopes, as 
well as I did, upon the junction of the French 
and Spanish fleets in the Mediterranean : we 
were then far from thinking that these fleets 
would return into the ocean, and that the expe- 
dition of Egypt, entirely abandoned, would be- 
come a ground of accusation against those who 
had planned it. I annex to this letter a copy of 
my correspondence with the Grand Vizier, and 
with Sir Sidney Smith and my plenipotentiaries, 
and all the official notes sent on either side : I 
annex also a copy of the reports which have 
been given relative to the capture of El- Arisen. 

" The French army, during its stay in Egypt, 
has engraved on the minds of the inhabitants the 
remembrance of its victories, that of the modera- 
tion and equity with which we have governed, 
and an impression of the strength and power of 
the nation by whom it was sent. The French 
name will be long respected, not only in this pro- 
vince of the Ottoman empire, but throughout all 
the East, and I expect to return to France with 
the army at the latest by the middle of June. 

" Health and respect, 

" KLEBER.'' 



238 MEMOIRS OF 



" Kleber, Commander -in- Chief, to the Divan of 
Cairo, and to those of the different Provinces of 
Egypt. 

" Head-quarters Salachich, February 6. 

" You have for a long time known the con- 
stant resolution of the French nation to preserve 
its ancient relations with the Ottoman empire. 
My illustrious predecessor, General Bonaparte, 
has often declared it to you since the circum- 
stances of the war have induced us to visit this 
country. He neglected no measure to dissipate 
the apprehensions which had been infused into 
the Porte, led as it was to conclude an alliance 
equally contrary to its interests and ours. The 
explanation sent by him to the court of Constan- 
tinople failed in re-establishing so desirable an 
union ; and the march of the Grand Vizier against 
Damascus having opened a more direct mode of 
communicating, he commenced negociations, and 
confided to me the task of terminating them, at 
the moment when affairs of superior interest 
obliged him to return to Europe. I have this 
day concluded them, and restore this country to 
the possession of our ancient ally. The re-esta- 
blishment of the commerce of Egypt will be the 
first effect of the measure. The treaty shall be 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 239 

the first clause of a peace, which is become neces- 
sary to the nations of the West." 

When Lord Keith, the British commander-in- 
chief in the Mediterranean, heard of these pro- 
ceedings, he despatched the following letter to 
General Kleber : 

" On board his Majesty's Ship the Queen Charlotte, 
June 8, 1800. 

" SIR, I inform you that I have received 
positive orders from his Majesty not to consent 
to any capitulation with the French troops whicli 
you command in Egypt and Syria, at least unless 
they lay down their arms, surrender themselves 
prisoners of war, and deliver up all the ships and 
stores of the port of Alexandria to the allied 
powers. 

" In the event of this capitulation, I cannot 
permit any of the troops to depart for France 
before they have been exchanged. I think it 
equally necessary to inform you, that all vessels 
having French troops on board, and sailing from 
this, with passports from others than those autho- 
rised to grant them, will be forced by the officers 
of the ships which I command to remain in Alex- 
andria ; in short, that ships which shall be met 
returning to Europe, with passports granted in 



240 MEMOIRS OF 

consequence of a particular capitulation with one 
of the allied powers, will be retained as prizes, 
and all individuals on board considered as pri- 
soners of war. 

( Signed) " KEITH." 

Many very painful reflections will be suggested 
by this unfortunate and somewhat Thrasonical 
letter. It must have been excessively painful to 
Sir Sidney, and is not a little insulting to the 
Sublime Porte. It was as unwise as it was dis- 
courteous. It proved rife with the most disas- 
trous consequences ; and its errors, let them have 
originated where they might, were only expiated 
by some of the bravest and noblest of English 
blood. As it was in direct opposition to that ex- 
cellent maxim which inculcates the providing of 
a golden bridge for a flying enemy, its results 
may be easily anticipated. 

This ill-advised letter was given out in public 
orders to the French, with the following brief 
but soul-stirring remark from General Kleber. 

" Soldiers ! we know how to reply to such in- 
solence by victories prepare for battle. 

(Signed) " KLEBER. 

" The General of Division, Chief of the Staff, 
* (Signed) " DAMAS." 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 241 

This imprudent disavowal of the acts of the 
allied Turkish and British commanders morally 
doubled the strength of the enemy. They im- 
mediately recommenced hostilities, and rapid 
and considerable advantages were gained over 
the Turks. 

In the midst of these operations, orders arrived 
from the British cabinet to accede to the conven- 
tion of El-Arisch. They were too late. The 
French had already made themselves masters of 
the strong posts in the country, and were now 
fully resolved to persevere in their original ob- 
jectthe complete conquest of Egypt, and the 
making it a French colony. 

One of the earliest consequences of this mis- 
taken policy was the defeat of the Turks at El- 
hanka, on which occasion eight thousand of them 
were left dead upon the field of battle. 

We will briefly dismiss this affair by the inser- 
tion of two official letters, both of them explana- 
tory in their way ; the one from Sir Sidney 
Smith, the other from Lord Keith. 

" Sir Sidney Smith to Citizen Poussielgue, Admi- 
nistrator- General of the Finances. 

" On board the Tigre, March 8, 1800. 

u I lost not a moment to repair to Alexandria, 
as soon as I could complete the provisioning of 

VOL. I. R 



242 MEMOIRS OF 

my ships, in order to inform you in detail of the 
obstacles which my superiors have opposed to the 
execution of a convention such as I thought it my 
duty to agree to, not having received the instruc- 
tions to the contrary, which reached Cyprus on 
the 22d of February, bearing date the 10th of 
January. 

" As to myself, I should not hesitate to pass 
over any arrangement of an old date, in order to 
support what took place on the 24th and 31st of 
January ; but it would be only throwing out a 
snare to my brave antagonists, were I to encou- 
rage them to embark. I owe it to the French 
army, and to myself, to acquaint them with the 
state of things, which, however, I am endeavour- 
ing to change. At any rate, I stand between 
them and the false impressions which have dic- 
tated a proceeding of this kind ; and as I know 
the liberality of my superiors, I doubt not that I 
shall produce the same conviction on their minds 
that I feel myself, respecting the business which 
we concluded. A conversation with you would 
enable me to communicate the origin and nature 
of this restriction ; and I propose that you should 
proceed, on board an English frigate, to the com- 
mander-in-chief in the Mediterranean, who has 
newly arrived, in order to confer with him on the 
subject. 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 243 

" I depend much on your abilities and conci- 
liatory disposition, which facilitated our former 
agreement, in order again to support my reason- 
ings respecting the impossibility of revoking what 
has been formally settled, after a detailed discus- 
sion and a mature deliberation. I then propose, 
sir, that you should come on board, in order to 
consult on what is to be done in the difficult cir- 
cumstances in which we are placed. I view with 
calmness the heavy responsibility to which I am 
subject ; my life is at stake I know it ; but I 
should prefer an unmerited death to the preserva- 
tion of my existence, by exposing both my life 
and my honour. 

" I have the honour to be, with perfect consi- 
deration and high esteem, sir, your very humble 
servant, 

(Signed) " W. SIDNEY SMITH." 

This is candid, upright, and honourable ; and, 
although a little too much worded for effect in 
the latter part, is just such an epistle that we 
might expect from one of Sir Sidney's chivalrous 
character. 

M. Poussielgue went on his philanthropical 
mission, first writing the following letter. 



R 2 



244 MEMOIRS OF 

Letter from Citizen Poussielgue to Lord Keith. 

" On board the Constance, 13 Germinal, (April 19.) 

" MY LORD, At the moment of quitting 
Egypt to return to France, in virtue of the con- 
vention signed at El-Arisch, I learned at Alexan- 
dria the obstacles which your orders had raised 
to the execution of that convention, although it 
had already been partly carried into effect, with 
that good faith which the candour of the con- 
tracting parties must have inspired. 

" I resolved to proceed directly to you, mv 
lord, to request you to revoke your orders, 
wish to explain to you all the motives that should 
induce you to adopt this measure ; or, if you can- 
not consent to what I desire to solicit, that you 
will immediately send me to France, in order that 
the French government may treat directly with 
the English government on this affair. 

" The lives of fifty thousand men are at stake, 
who may be destroyed without any motive, since, 
according to the solemn treaty made with the 
English, Russians, and Turks, all hostilities had 
terminated. 

" I have not powers ad hoc for the step I have 
taken; but there is no necessity for claiming 
what would be considered as a right between 
nations the least civilised. The demand appears 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 245 

to me so just and so simple, and besides so urgent, 
that I have not thought it necessary to wait for 
the orders of General Kleber, who, I am certain, 
would not consent to the smallest modification of 
the treaty, though his fidelity in executing it has 
rendered his position much less advantageous. 

" At the moment we concluded the convention 
at El-Arisch, under the simple pledge of English 
good faith, we were far from suspecting that 
obstacles would be started from that same power, 
the most liberal of those with whom we had to 
treat. 

" For the rest, my lord, I am not a military 
character, and all my functions have ceased. 
Two years of fatigue and sickness have rendered 
my return to my country indispensable. I aspire 
only to repose with my wife and children, happy 
if I can carry to the families of the French I 
left in Egypt the news that you have removed 
the only obstacle to their return. 

(Signed) " POUSSIELGUE." 

The following is Lord Keith's explanation, 
dated April 25th. 

Lord Keith's Answer. 

" Minotaur, April 25. 

" I have this day received the letter which you 



246 MEMOIRS OF 

have done me the honour to write. I have to in- 
form you, that I have given no orders or authority 
against the observance of the convention between 
the Grand Vizier and General Kleber, having re- 
ceived no orders on this head from the king's 
ministers. Accordingly I was of opinion, that 
his Majesty should take no part in it ; but since 
the treaty has been concluded, his Majesty, being 
desirous of showing his respect for his allies, I 
have received instructions to allow a passage to 
the French troops, and I lost not a moment in 
sending to Egypt orders to permit them to return 
to France without molestation. At the same time 
1 thought it my duty to my king, and those of his 
allies whose states lie in the seas through which 
they are to pass, to require that they should not 
return in a mass, nor in ships of war, nor in 
armed ships. I wished likewise that the cartel 
should carry no merchandise, which would be 
contrary to the law of nations. I have likewise 
asked of General Kleber his word of honour, 
that neither he nor his army should commit any 
hostilities against the coalesced powers ; and I 
doubt not that General Kleber will find the con- 
ditions perfectly reasonable. 

" Captain Hay has received my orders to allow 
you to proceed to France with the adjutant-gene- 
ral Cambis, as soon as he arrives at Leghorn. 
(Signed) " KEITH." 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 247 

This letter contrasts strangely with the former 
one from his lordship to General Kleber; but we 
discover by it that he wished it to be understood 
that he acted on his own notions of his duty to 
his king, in disavowing the convention of El- 
Arisch. 

Notwithstanding the combined successes of 
General Kleber and his army, he still found his 
and their situation so harassing, that he was 
willing to agree to a renewal of the terms for- 
merly accepted by the Grand Vizier and Sir 
Sidney Smith, for the evacuation of Egypt ; and 
Lord Keith being now authorised to accede to 
them, all obstacles seemed to have been satisfac- 
torily removed. But all these good dispositions 
were rendered of no avail by the assassination of 
General Kleber on the 15th of June. This event 
will be best detailed by transcribing General 
Menou' s letter to Sir Sidney Smith. 

Letter from General Menou to Sir Sidney 
Smith, informing him of the Assassination of 
General Kleber, and of his having taken upon 
himself the chief command. 

"J. Menou, General in Chief, to Sir Sidney 
Smith, Commander of his Britannic Majesty's 
ship of war the Tigre. 



248 MEMOIRS OF 

" Head-quarters at Cairo, 1 Messidor (June 1 9), Year 8 
of the French Republic, one and indivisible. 

" SIR, I have received the letter which you 
did me the honour of writing to me, under date 
of the 9th of June, from on board the Tigre, off 
Rhodes. Since the French army is deprived of 
its leader, by the atrocious assassination of the 
General-in-chief Kleber, I have taken upon my- 
self the command of it. Your allies the Turks 
not having been able to conquer the French near 
Malarich, they have, to be revenged, made use of 
the dagger, which is only resorted to by cowards. 
A Janissary, who had quitted Gaza about forty- 
two days ago, had been sent to perpetrate the 
horrid deed. The French willingly believe the 
Turks only to have been guilty. The account of 
the murder shall be communicated to every 
nation, for all are equally interested in avenging 
it. The behaviour which you, sir, observed, 
with regard to the convention at El-Arisch, points 
out to me the road which I have to pursue. You 
demanded the ratification of your court : I must 
also demand that of the counsels who now govern 
the French nation, for any treaty that might be 
concluded with the English and their allies. This 
is the only legal way, the only one admissible in 
any negociations that may ever take place. As 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 249 

well as you, sir, I abhor the flames of war ; as 
well as you, I wish to see an end put to the 
misery which it has caused. But I shall never, 
in any point whatever, exempt myself from what 
the honour of the French republic and of her 
arms requires. I am fully convinced that these 
sentiments must also be yours. Good faith and 
morality must prevail in treaties concluded be- 
tween nations. The French republicans know 
not those stratagems which are mentioned in the 
papers of Mr. Mories. They know not any other 
behaviour than courage during the combat, mag- 
nanimity after the victory, and good faith in 
their treaties. 

" One hundred and fifty Englishmen are 
prisoners of war here ;* had I followed only the 
dictates of republican magnanimity, I would 
have sent them back, without considering them 
as prisoners, for they were taken on the coast of 
Egypt, not with arms in their hands, and I am 
fully convinced that the consuls would have ap- 
proved of it ; but your allies have detained citizen 
and chief of brigade Baudet, adjutant of General 
Kleber, whose person ought to have been held 
sacred, as he had been sent with a flag of truce. 
Contrary to my principles and my inclination, I 
have, therefore, been forced to reprisals against 

* Alluding to the officers and crew of H. M. ship Cen- 
turion, which was wrecked on the cost. 



250 



MEMOIRS OF 



your countrymen ; but they shall be set at liberty 
immediately on the arrival of citizen Baudet at 
Damietta, who shall there be exchanged against 
Mustapha Pasha, and several other Turkish com- 
missaries. If, sir, as I have no doubt, you have 
some influence over your allies, this affair will 
soon be settled, which interests your honour, and 
evidently endangers one hundred and fifty of 
your countrymen. I have the honour to repeat 
to you, sir, that with enthusiastic pleasure I shall 
see the termination of a war which has, for so 
long a period, agitated the whole world. The 
French and English nations are destined mutu- 
ally to esteem, not to destroy one another ; but 
when they enter into negociations with each other, 
it must only be done on conditions which are 
equally honourable to both, and promotive of 
their welfare. Receive, sir, the very sincere as- 
surances of my esteem and high respect. 

" I have the honour to be, &c. 
(Signed) " ABDALLAH BEY, J. MENOU." 

This letter is certainly to the purpose, and just 
what might have been expected after so unhappy 
an event. It shows, also, the habitual respect in 
which our officer was held by his stern and des- 
perate foes. It produced the following conciliatory 
and amicable answer. 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 251 

Letter from Sir Sidney Smith to General 
MenoUj Commander-in- Chief of the French 
Army in Egypt ; originally written in French ; 
dated Jaffa, June 22, 1800. 
" GENERAL, I received this evening the letter 
which you did me the honour of writing to me 
on the 20th instant. At the instant when I ex- 
pected to see General Kleber, under the most 
favourable and satisfactory auspices, I learned, 
with the liveliest concern and the most heartfelt 
sorrow, his tragical fate. I immediately com- 
municated the intelligence to the Grand Vizier 
and the Ottoman ministers, in the terms in which 
you announced to me that sad event ; and no- 
thing less than the certainty and detail with 
which you communicated it, could have induced 
their excellencies to credit the information. The 
Grand Vizier has declared to me, formally and 
officially, that he had not the slightest knowledge 
of those who had been guilty of the assassination ; 
and I am persuaded that his declaration is true 
and sincere. Without entering into the par- 
ticulars of this unfortunate event, I shall content 
myself with answering the articles of your letter 
that relate to our affairs. 

" If the Grand Vizier has detained in his camp 
the aide-de-camp Baudet, despatched to him at 



252 



MEMOIRS OF 



Jebli-il-Illam, it was because his excellency did 
not think proper to suffer any person to quit his 
camp at the moment when he saw himself sur- 
rounded by his enemies. Baudet was detained 
at Jebil-il-Illam in the same manner as the 
Turkish officers destined to serve reciprocally with 
him as hostages were detained at Cairo. 

" This aide-de-camp was sent to the Ottoman 
squadron to be exchanged, according to your 
desire ; and during that interval, his excellency 
the Captain Pacha having arrived here, the ex- 
change was postponed in consequence of his 
absence from the squadron. When his excel- 
lency shall have joined the squadron, the ex- 
change may be carried into effect, should you 
think proper, as the aide-de-camp Baudet is off 
Alexandria ; but I cannot perceive why you 
make the release of one hundred and fifty Eng- 
lish, who were shipwrecked at Cape Brulos, de- 
pend upon a transaction relating only to yourself 
and the Porte. I expect from your good faith 
and your justice, according to the regulations 
settled between both nations relative to the re- 
ciprocal exchange of our prisoners, which we are 
authorised to enforce, that you will allow Captain 
Buttal, his officers and crew, to return. 

" Your promises expressive of the hope of re- 
ciprocity on my part cannot apply to this circum- 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 253 

stance, and I think it superfluous to offer you in 
return the assurance of my good offices in favour 
of any person who may be reduced to the painful 
situation which I have myself experienced. I 
am convinced that the Grand Vizier will sanction 
with his generous and dignified approbation all 
the humane proceedings which we may adopt 
with respect to one another. The tricks of war- 
fare are unknown to us both, and while I shall 
continue to behave to you with the same candour 
and the same good faith which I have manifested 
to the present moment, I shall earnestly employ 
all my means to prevent any person on whom I 
may possess influence from pursuing a contrary 
line of conduct. Be assured that the hostile dis- 
positions which have been recently announced, 
and which have acquired extent and publicity, 
may be appeased by the opportunities furnished 
to both parties by the present circumstances of 
mutual correspondence and communication, and 
that we shall at length be united by the ties of 
sincere friendship. In the mean time we shall 
prosecute hostilities against you with the means 
which we have hitherto employed against you, 
and we shall endeavour to render ourselves worthy 
of the esteem of your brave troops. 

" The hostilities which you have committed 
without waiting for Admiral Keith's answer, who 



254 MEMOIRS OF 

was unacquainted with the convention concluded 
for the evacuation of Egypt, have furnished us 
with a rule for our conduct. I had not demanded 
of my court the ratification of the convention ; 
I merely was desirous to remove some obstacles 
that might have opposed the return of the French 
to their country. 

" As General Kleber did not, in the late pre- 
liminaries which were agreed to, give us to un- 
derstand that it was necessary the treaty which 
was to have followed them should be ratified by 
the consuls, this condition now introduced by 
you in your preliminaries has the appearance of 
a refusal to evacuate Egypt, and the Grand 
Vizier has commissioned me to require of you, 
on that head, a clear and precise answer. You 
wish, as I do, for a termination of the war which 
desolates the whole world. 

" It is in your power to remove one of the 
obstacles in the way of peace, by evacuating 
Egypt according to the terms agreed upon with 
General Kleber; and if you refuse, we shall 
exert all our means, and those of our allies, in 
order to compel you to accept conditions which 
may not prove so advantageous. I cannot sup- 
press my regret at being forced to fulfil that 
duty ; but the evacuation of Egypt being an ob- 
ject of so much interest to the cause of humanity, 



Sill SIDNEY SMITH. 255 

the mode of accomplishing it by correspondence 
and conference is still open. 

" As the admiral, under whose orders I am, is 
at a considerable distance, I am authorised to 
agree to such arrangements as the necessity of 
circumstances may dictate ; and although, from 
the nature of events, I am not warranted in offer- 
ing any new proposition, I am, however, ready 
and disposed to receive all those which you may 
think fit to make. I can declare to you officially 
that I shall exert all my efforts to prevent any 
rash proceedings, and to oppose all vexatious 
measures, from whatever quarter they may 
arise. 

" I shall literally adhere to all the instructions 
of my court. I know its principles to be founded 
upon the most punctilious equity and the most 
perfect good faith. My conduct shall be con- 
formable to its principles, and all my exertions 
shall be directed to the performance of my duty, 
by promoting its interests. 

" As it is not yet decided in what direction I 
am about to act, I beg you will transmit me 
your answer in two despatches, the one addressed 
to Alexandria, and the other to Jaffa, at the camp 
of the Grand Vizier. 

(Signed) " SIDNEY SMITH." 



256 MEMOIRS OF 

We now proceed to subjoin another despatch 
from Menou to Bonaparte, as it goes more into 
particulars concerning this atrocious transaction. 

" Menou, Provisional General-in-Chief, to Citizen 
Bonaparte, First Consul of the Republic. 

" Head-quarters at Cairo, I4tk Messidor, (July 3.) 
66 CITIZEN CONSUL, A horrible event, of which 
there are few examples in history, has provision- 
ally raised me to the command of the army of 
the East. General Kleber was assassinated on 
the 25th of last month (June 14.) A wretch, sent 
by the Aga of the Janissaries of the Ottoman 
army, gave the general-in-chief four stabs with a 
poniard, while he was walking with citizen Pro- 
tain, the architect, on the terrace which looks 
from the garden of the head-quarters into the 
square of Esbekier. Citizen Protain, in endea- 
vouring to defend the general, received himself 
six wounds. The first wound which Kleber re- 
ceived was mortal. He fell Protain still lives. 
The general, who was giving orders for repairing 
the head-quarters and the garden,* had no aide- 
de-camp with him, nor any individual of the 
corps of guards : he had desired to be alone : he 
was found expiring. The assassin, who was dis- 

' The head-quarters had been damaged by cannon-shot 
during the siege. 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 257 

covered in the midst of a heap of ruins, being 
brought to the head-quarters, confessed that he 
was solicited to commit this crime by the aga of 
the Janissaries of the Ottoman army, commanded 
by the Grand Vizier in person. This vizier, un- 
able to vanquish the French in open warfare, has 
sought to avenge himself by the dagger, a weapon 
which belongs only to cowards. The assassin is 
named Soleyman-el-Alepi. He came from 
Aleppo, and had arrived at Cairo, after crossing 
the Desert on a dromedary. He took up his 
lodging at the grand mosque Eleaser, whence he 
proceeded every day to watch a favourable oppor- 
tunity for committing his crime. He had en- 
trusted his secret to four petty cheiks of the law, 
who wished to dissuade him from his project ; 
but who, not having denounced him, have been 
arrested, in consequence of the depositions of the 
assassin, condemned to death, arid executed on 
the 28th of last month (June 17). I appointed 
to conduct the trial a commission ad hoc. The 
commission, after conducting the trial with the 
utmost solemnity, thought it proper to follow the 
customs of Egypt in the application of the punish- 
ment. They condemned the assassin to be im- 
paled, after having his right hand burnt; and 
three of the guilty cheiks to be beheaded, and 
their bodies burnt. The fourth, not having been 
VOL. i. s 



258 MEMOIRS OF 

arrested, was outlawed. I annex, citizen consul, 
the different papers relative to the trial. 

"At present, citizen consul, it would be proper 
to make you acquainted with the events, almost 
incredible, that have occurred in Egypt ; but I 
must first have the honour of informing you, that 
General Kleber's papers not being yet in order, I 
can only inform you of those events by a simple 
reference to the date of the transactions. When 
circumstances are more favourable, I shall send 
you the details." 

Napoleon thus pays his tribute to the high 
sense of honour and the right-mindedness of our 
hero on this very important and delicate business. 
" He manifested great honour in sending imme- 
diately to Kleber the refusal of Lord Keith to 
ratify the treaty, which saved the French army, 
If he had kept it secret for seven or eight days 
longer, Cairo would have been given up to the 
Turks, and the French army necessarily been 
obliged to surrender to the English." 

There is much of grandeur in this conduct of 
Sir Sidney. All the temptations lay adversely 
to his high sense of honour. We believe that 
his conduct, had he sacrificed the French army, 
would have met applause and reward from his 
superiors at home. In the agitated state of the 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 259 

public feeling, it would have wonderfully increased 
his popularity ; and the abstraction of so many 
thousand well-tried veterans from the force op- 
posed to his country would have been, though 
dishonourably obtained, a real and substantial 
good. All the ad captandum advantages were on 
the side, not of a treachery, but merely of the 
permitting one by others, and that, too, well 
disguised under diplomatic forms. All these 
considerations he resisted he saved the French 
army, but at the same time he saved his country's 
honour, and advanced his own. 

During these momentous concerns, in which 
Sir Sidney acted so conspicuous, and often the 
principal part, he found time to exercise his pri- 
vate benevolence. Having been apprized that a 
young man of the name of Thevenard was among 
the miserable captives held by the Turks, and 
knowing that his father was a person of the 
highest respectability at Toulon, he interested 
himself successfully for his release. Sir Sidney 
also provided for his safe conveyance from 
Rhodes ; and, on his arrival, sent him the follow- 
ing* characteristic note of invitation. 

o 

" On board the Tigre, June I5tk, 1800. 

" Mr. Thevenard is requested to come and 
dine with Sir Sidney Smith on board the Tigre, 

s 2 



260 MEMOIRS OF 

this day at three o'clock. Sir Sidney takes the 
liberty to send some clothes, which he supposes 
a person just escaped from prison may require. 
The great-coat is not of the best ; but, excepting 
English naval uniforms, it is the only one on 
board the Tigre, and the same Sir Sidney Smith 
wore during his journey from the Temple till he 
reached the sea. It will have done good service 
if it again serves a similar purpose, by restoring 
another son to the arms of his aged father dying 
with chagrin." 

Sir Sidney's kindness did not stop here. He 
generously completed the good work that he had 
begun, by supplying him with money and all 
kind of necessaries, together with a recommen- 
dation to his brother, the minister at Constan- 
tinople, and to several other persons of respectabi- 
lity in that city. 



S1H SIDNEY SMITH. 261 



CHAPTER XVII. 

The conduct of Sir Sidney Smith considered respecting his 
concurrence with the convention of El- Arisen Parliamen- 
tary proceedings upon it Short speech of his late Ma- 
jesty William IV. 

HAVING brought down our narrative of these 
transactions to this epoch, it becomes a duty to 
us to look at home, and see in what light these 
transactions were viewed by those who possessed 
the right and the ability to decide upon them. 
The question very naturally resolved itself into 
two distinct interrogatories. Firstly, had Sir 
Sidney Smith the power to do that which he 
did ? and, secondly, without reference to his au- 
thority, was that which he did done well ? 

It is notorious that the ministry and Mr. Pitt, 
with a great proportion of the nation, believed 
that the terms granted to General Kleber were 
altogether too lenient ; and that he and his army 



262 



MEMOIRS OF 



must, in the nature of events, have been shortly 
compelled to surrender at discretion. Men's minds 
were too rashly led to this conclusion, because, 
by an accident, a packet of letters, directed from 
Kleber's army to the French government, was, 
about this juncture, intercepted, which letters, 
purporting to describe the actual state of the 
French army in Egypt and Syria, were of such a 
nature as to induce the persuasion that the enemy 
could by no means sustain his post, and that 
the troops were upon the eve of a complete dis- 
organisation : and also because that Sir Sidney 
Smith having performed great deeds, impossibi- 
lities were expected at his hands, thus being 
made a martyr to his own superior merits. 

Thus prepared to prejudge the question, it was 
angrily asked, had Sir Sidney the authority to 
conclude a convention, apparently so unwise, if 
not altogether treacherous to the best interests of 
his country? 

This momentous subject led to the following 
proceedings in the House of Commons : 

Mr. T. Jones begged the attention of the 
house to the subject of the evacuation of Egypt ; 
a subject to which he had already called that 
attention last session, and which had now be- 
come, by the incapacity of his Majesty's ministers, 
the bone of contention between England and 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 263 

France, and the stumbling-block of peace. From 
the correspondence on the table, it was evident 
that those counsels which opposed the evacuation 
of Egypt by the invading army, presented a very 
serious obstacle to the conclusion, and even to 
the negociation of a peace. Of the two points 
most insisted on by France, and which operated 
as impediments to peace, one was the demand of 
sending succours to Egypt ; and it remained for 
the House to inquire, why that difficulty had not 
been precluded, by accepting the terms of the 
convention agreed on by General Kleber and 
the Grand Vizier, and guaranteed by the sanction 
of a general officer ? Mr. Jones, after six mo- 
tions that he had made on the 23d of July, last 
session, on the subject of the evacuation of Egypt, 
were read by the clerk, said, that the object of 
his motion this day would be, the production of 
a letter, on the subject of which almost the whole 
of the voluminous correspondence which he held 
in his hand turned. Having read a number of 
extracts from the correspondence, and particularly 
Lord Grenvi lie's instruction to Mr. Hammond, 
for holding a conference with Mr. Otto, on the 
subject of the proposed armistice between Great 
Britain and France, he asked if Sir Sidney 
Smith was not joined with his brother Mr. Spen- 
cer Smith, as joint plenipotentiary of Great 



264 



MEMOIRS OF 



Britain at the court of Constantinople ? Had he 
not power to treat at Acre ? Did not ministers 
know that, in conjunction with the Bashaw 
Ghezzar, Sir Sidney offered to convey the French 
out of Egypt, individually or in the aggregate ? 
Did his Majesty's ministers, previous to January 
24, 1800, countermand the orders under which, 
it was presumed, he acted from the beginning of 
May in the preceding year, as if not warranted 
in his conduct ? Did they, to prevent a repeti- 
tion of such conduct, express their anger within 
the eight following months, or even some time 
after he had acceded to the convention ? Did 
not Lord Elgin, before and since the present 
year, instruct Sir Sidney Smith to get the French 
out of Egypt by all possible means ? Was not 
the intention of the court of London, not to 
ratify the original treaty, sent immediately to 
General Kleber in the first instance ? Ought it 
not to have been sent to the French general 
through Sir Sidney Smith ? Ought not our ally, 
the Ottoman Porte, to have had the earliest 
notice ? Arid farther, did not La Constance 
galley deliver the letter of Lord Keith, first to 
Kleber at Alexandria, and then proceed with the 
same instructions to Sir Sidney, who was on 
duty at Cyprus ? What was the consequence ? 
Did not eight or nine thousand of our good allies 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 265 

perish in the field ? Was not the very existence 
of the Ottoman government threatened at its 
centre? In Mr. Hammond's letter to Lord 
Grenville, after the conference with Mr. Otto, 
which letter referred, almost in every line, to 
Egypt, there was this particular assertion, " Mr. 
Otto added, that he would not conceal from me, 
that the reinforcement which France intended to 
send to Egypt amounted to twelve hundred men, 
and that the supply of military stores consisted 
chiefly of ten thousand muskets. The language 
of Mr. Otto, in this part of our conversation, and 
of Mr. Talleyrand's letter, appeared to me to be 
so decisive and peremptory, that I was induced 
to ask of him, distinctly, whether I was to under- 
stand that this stipulation was a point from 
which the French government would not recede ? 
Mr. Otto replied, that, in his opinion, the French 
government would not recede from it." Mr. 
Jones having recapitulated the whole of the cor- 
respondence, moved, " That the letter alluded to 
in General Kleber's letter to the Kairnakan of 
the Sublime Porte, be now laid on the table of 
that House." 

Mr. Pitt replied, that it would be hardly pos- 
sible for his Majesty's ministers to comply with 
the object of the present motion. It would be a 
very difficult thing for government to undertake 



266 



MEMOIRS OF 



for the production of a letter referred to in one 
from General Kleber to the Kaimakan, even sup- 
posing the representation given of it to be true, 
and the description of it in the motion proper, 
which it was not. But the answer he had to 
give to the reasoning of the honourable gentle- 
man was exceedingly short. The motion ap- 
peared to be altogether unnecessary. He was 
not aware of any good end that could be answered, 
nor of any blame that could be fixed on minis- 
ters, in consequence of a French general being- 
referred to a letter, which evidently, on the face 
of the transaction, must have been written before 
government was acquainted with the convention 
alluded to having been signed by any British 
officer. The letter, therefore, could not state any 
new fact : nor had Mr. Jones offered anything 
in addition to what he had urged unsuccessfully 
in the last session of Parliament. As soon as it 
was known in England that the French general 
had the faith of a British officer pledged to him, 
and was disposed to act upon it, instructions were 
sent out to have the convention executed, though 
the officer in question had, in fact, no authority 
to sign it. The contents of Lord Keith's letter 
were far from being a secret. It was printed, 
quoted, and universally known in July last, when 
Mr. Jones brought forward a question on the 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 267 

same subject, which the House thought proper to 
negative. The next thing for the House to con- 
sider was, in what manner the present subject was 
connected with the late correspondence between 
France and this country relative to an armistice. 
By the observations accompanying the motion, it 
was shown that, in making the proposal, the 
French government meant to derive great advan- 
tage from the relief it might be enabled to send 
both to Malta and Egypt; a relief which it 
could not hope for, while our fleets and armies 
pursued their operations against them : and thus 
it was evident that France set great value on rein- 
forcing those places, which we had an equal in- 
terest in preventing them from doing. As we 
had, since the convention of El-Arisch, taken 
Malta from the enemy, we were, in a degree pro- 
portionate to the importance of that island, mas- 
ters of preventing them from sending any rein- 
forcements to Egypt, the maritime places of 
which were, besides, blocked by our fleets. So 
far then it was plain, that, in respect to Egypt, 
France was not on higher ground, now that we 
were in possession of Malta, than it was at the 
time when General Kleber first entered into the 
capitulation. And he could not conceive what it 
was that gentlemen thought they could complain 
of. When Parliament considered the conduct of 



268 MEMOIRS OF 

his Majesty's ministers, in refusing to acquiesce 
in a convention which they did not know to have 
had the sanction of a British officer, it should 
discuss that conduct with a reference to what was 
the state of Kleber's army at the time ; with a 
reference to the condition of the war in Italy at 
the beginning of the campaign, when it was ex- 
tremely doubtful whether the issue might be 
favourable to one side or the other ; and most of 
all, in this doubtful state of the termination of the 
contest, with a reference to the effect which such 
a reinforcement as that of the army of Egypt 
might be likely, under all the circumstances, to 
have on the war on the continent. 

Mr. Grey, in answer to, these positions, re- 
specting the position of Kleber's army, the state 
of the belligerent armies in Italy, and the exist- 
ing circumstances of the war, all together, said, 
that the present motion did not preclude the con- 
sideration of any of these topics, but only asked 
for such information as would enable the House 
to judge of Admiral Keith's instructions. It 
was not to be supposed that the present motion 
would stand alone, but, if carried, be followed 
by others of a more comprehensive nature. 
With respect to Sir Sidney Smith's powers, it 
was not necessary for him to be specially in- 
structed, either to sanction or to reject a conven- 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 269 

tion. Sir Sidney was the British officer com- 
manding on the spot. And nothing was more 
undeniable, than that every military commandant 
had power to accept any stipulations which his 
prudence might direct him to agree to with the 
enemy, without having any special authority for 
the purpose. On such occasions, government 
were bound, in good faith, to admit what their 
officers stipulated : and, if it were otherwise, the 
consequences would be subversive of those prin- 
ciples on which war was now conducted between 
civilised nations. On these and other grounds, 
Mr. Grey defended the propriety and the neces- 
sity of the motion : which he considered as a 
preliminary step to further inquiry into the con- 
duct of ministers on this important and interest- 
ing subject. Mr. Grey's observations on the 
powers of Sir Sidney Smith were supported by 
Mr. Sheridan, Mr. Tierney, and Mr. Hobhouse. 
Mr. Sheridan observed, that the House of Com- 
mons could not, without a neglect of its duty, 
omit entering into an inquiry into the matter be- 
fore them : for he held it as a principle, which 
should never be lost sight of, that when an officer, 
either general or admiral, was employed, to take 
it for granted, that whatever such an officer did 
in name and on the behalf of the country he 
served, was done according to his instructions, 



270 MEMOIRS OF 

until the contrary was proved ; otherwise nations 
could never confide in any proposal Mr. Tier- 
ney said, that it was a part of the national com- 
pact to regard officers under government, abroad 
upon service in time of war, as having a certain 
portion of power, to be exercised according to 
their discretion, for the purpose of alleviating, or 
perhaps putting an end to, the horrors of war. 
What was observed by Mr. Hobhouse, had a re- 
ference to what had been asserted by Mr. Pitt, 
who had spoken a second time in explanation, on 
the present subject. Mr. Pitt said, that, before 
the order to Lord Keith went out, there was no 
supposition that Sir Sidney Smith was then in 
Egypt, nor that he would be a party to the 
treaty between the Ottoman Porte and the French 
general. When he did take a part in that trans- 
action, it was not a direct part. He did not 
exercise any direct power : if he had done so, he 
would have done it without authority. He had 
no such power from his situation : for he was not 
commander-in-chief. Large powers, for obvious 
reasons, must be given to the commander-in- 
chief, subject to the discretion of the person with 
whom they were intrusted. But that neither was 
nor ought to be the case with every officer of 
inferior station. Such person, however great his 
talents, should not go beyond a specified point ; for 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 271 

otherwise he might treat for whole provinces, 
and counteract his superior in command. Mr. 
Hobhouse observed, that if even a subordinate 
officer, intrusted with the direction of a parti- 
cular enterprise, entered, as Sir Sidney Smith 
had done, into a convention, which, strictly 
speaking, he had no powers to conclude, many 
examples could be found, of cases in which the 
commander-in-chief thought himself bound to 
ratify what the subordinate officer had done, and 
in which government had ratified the consent of 
the commanding officer. Was not this the case 
at Cape Nicola Mole, when General Whitelock, 
though a subordinate officer, without any specific 
powers, and without the consent of the com- 
mander-in-chief, agreed to a convention which 
General Williamson, the commander-in-chief, 
afterwards thought himself bound to ratify, and 
which was afterwards ratified by government ? 
An objection had been made to the form in which 
the motion was worded. This, indeed, Mr. Hob- 
house did not think quite so accurate, and re- 
commended it to his honourable friend to make 
some alteration in it. 

Mr. Yorke, after observing that the motion 
was not of a parliamentary form, because Parlia- 
ment could have no power over a letter which 
must be in the possession of General Kleber, ex- 



272 MEMOIRS OF 

pressed his astonishment that any one could have 
the confidence to say, in that house, that the 
British fleet was in the least degree injured by 
that which took place, on our behalf, in Egypt ; 
and that the more especially, after we had been 
in possession of the intercepted French corre- 
spondence on that subject. 

Mr. Percival said, that the English, after the 
orders from government had been communicated 
to them by Lord Keith, had done nothing to 
break the treaty. The English committed no act 
of hostility. But the French, on receiving the 
communication from Lord Keith, had chosen to 
break it themselves. If there was any breach of 
faith, it was on the side of the French. When 
government heard that the French had trusted 
and acted on the belief that this country would 
consent to the convention, it sent out orders not 
to ratify, but to respect it. With regard to the 
motion before the House, he could not recollect 
that he had ever heard one supported by less 
argument. He readily allowed that the publica- 
tion of a letter was not a sufficient means of in- 
formation for the purpose of founding on it any 
specific motion. But, if this was the intention, 
the supporters of the motion ought to have argued 
'from the contents of the letter, that it would 
afford ground on which to rest a motion. 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 273 

Mr. Jones, as a proof that this country was 
a party in the convention of El-Arisch, stated, 
that it was an article in this, that passports should 
be given to the French by the Porte, and by its 
allies, Russia and England. " As to the form of 
the motion," said Mr. Jones, " I am prepared. 
On such occasions as these I generally go doubly 
armed, and now move, That an humble address 
be presented to his Majesty, that he will be gra- 
ciously pleased to give directions that copies of 
all letters from the commander-in-chief of the 
fleet in the Mediterranean to General Kleber be 
laid on the table of this house." This motion 
was rejected by eighty noes against twelve 
ayes. 

Lord Holland also failed in the Upper House 
to bring this matter in full light, his motion being 
negatived by twelve votes to two. 

Mr. Pitt, in his speech, distinctly avers that 
Sir Sidney Smith had no authority to sign the 
treaty a sentence that must convey a severe 
condemnation upon the conduct of that officer. 
The question then is, what authority had he ? 
did he possess the usual powers of a plenipoten- 
tiary or were those powers so circumscribed, 
that for every delicate conjunction of circum- 
stances when slaughter that ought to have been 
stopped was going forward when the miseries 

VOL. I. T 



274 MEMOIRS OF 

of a whole friendly nation, that ought immediately 
to have been alleviated, were increasing was 
he, thus situated, to wait for months for instruc- 
tions? Common sense decides in the negative. 
Even the ordinary powers of a commanding 
officer on the spot were, in our opinion a suffi- 
cient justification for the course that he adopted. 
Well, we will grant, that neither as a plenipo- 
tentiary fully accredited, nor as a commander-in- 
chief fully endowed with the usual discretionary 
powers, had he authority to sign the conven- 
tion. But was he, was Great Britain, the only 
parties to it ? Who were the most concerned ? 
Against whom did the sharp edge of war come in 
actual contact ? Whose provinces were occupied ? 
whose subjects plundered and slain ? The Sul- 
tan's an independent sovereign of himself, per- 
fectly competent and free, by his proper ministers, 
without the sanction of the British government, to 
make what treaty or convention he pleased, that 
was not, according to the terms of his alliance 
with England, an actual peace with the enemy. 
Such a justifiable convention he made to rid 
his provinces of a consuming host, and his dia- 
dem of a galling insult ; and Sir Sidney Smith 
did no more than agree to the act on the part of 
his own government. What a mockery to say 
that he had not full powers to do so small a 
thing ! 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 275 

But we now come to the second category ; and 
in that Sir Sidney stands in a still more triumph- 
ant light. What he did was eminently well done, 
and the undoing of it very nearly proved the undo- 
ing of England's pre-eminence on the southern 
shores of the Mediterranean ; for, after the loss of 
some of our best generals, and many of our best 
officers, together with a dreadful slaughter of 
some of our bravest troops, our authorities at home 
were obliged to do tardily, and not very gloriously, 
that which Sir Sidney Smith had before done, with 
honour to himself and with glory to the English 
name, without, in the slightest manner, commit- 
ting an outrage upon humanity. 

It was this transaction that called forth, some 
time after, the honourable testimony to the great 
merits of Sir Sidney Smith, from one from whom 
eulogium must at all times have been most grati- 
fying and distinguishing : we mean the good, 
the philanthropic, and the pious Mr. Wilberforce. 
After mentioning our gallant officer's exploit at 
Acre, in which he observes, " that if he, Sir Sid- 
ney, had had with him regular officers of engi- 
neers, he must have reported the place untenable 
and abandoned it," he goes on to state, that 
" the extraordinary achievements of that gallant 
officer had been but ill requited," with many 
observations to the same effect. 

T 2 



276 MEMOIRS OF 

Mr. Wilberforce spoke truly. Sir Sidney 
Smith was not adequately rewarded. The peer- 
age was, at that time, plentifully lavished upon 
individuals who required that distinction to make 
them stand apart from their fellow men Sir 
Sidney Smith did not. 

As we have been just reverting to parliamentary 
proceedings, it may not be misplaced to mention 
that our late sovereign, William IV., when Duke 
of Clarence, thus spoke of Sir Sidney in the House 
of Peers : " The first important check which 
the formidable army of French invaders met, was 
from a handful of British troops, under Sir Sid- 
ney Smith, long before the landing of the army 
which became, in their turn, the conquerors of 
Egypt." 






SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 277 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

Sir Sidney Smith's personal appearance at this time His 
humanity to his crews The English government sends 
reinforcements to Egypt The state of the country 
English land at Aboukir Bay Battle of Alexandria 
Death of Sir Ralph Abercromby. 

BEFORE we proceed further in these Memoirs, we 
shall briefly state the appearance of their subject 
at this juncture. It is a very natural curiosity, 
that of being anxious to be acquainted with the 
looks and bearing of those who have been able, 
by their merits, to stand separate from their fel- 
low men. But alas ! man is still more variable 
in his physical than in his mental identity. The 
portrait of the youth of fourteen presents but lit- 
tle similitude to the man at the mature age of 
thirty, and the virility of thirty would look with 
disgust upon the lineaments of the same indivi- 
dual when he had numbered the average years 
allotted to humanity, three sicore and ten. 



278 MEMOIRS OF 

We have described Sir Sidney Smith's appear- 
ance as the fresh, amiable, and rosy-cheeked boy. 
We now, upon the testimony of one who was in 
daily communication with him, portray him in 
the vigour of his manhood, shortly after he had 
effected the expulsion of the French from Acre. 
Then, though small in stature, he had all the 
appearances that indicate a brave and generous 
hearted man, with a fine dark countenance, and 
eyes that sparkled with intelligence. His very 
appearance showed that he possessed an ardent 
imagination, which naturally prompted him to 
form and execute bold and important enterprises : 
he seemed, as it were, to be born to deserve glory 
and to acquire it. 

This testimony to the dignity of his presence 
is from a Frenchman, and, so far as his public cha- 
racter was concerned, an enemy ; and as the nar- 
rator was allowed, on all hands, to be a person 
of probity and honour, we must place implicit- 
belief that he has put upon record the actual im- 
pression that Sir Sidney Smith made upon him. 

But let us have recourse to other and less re- 
fined evidence. It is that of a worthy old Green- 
wich pensioner, who held an office about our 
officer's person, and who had the fullest opportu- 
nities of seeing him in all situations and in all 
moods, in full dress, ;n undress, and in no dress 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 279 

at all, and such is nearly the words of the vete- 
ran. 

" Why, sir, after we skivered the mounseers 
away from Acre, Sir Sidney was looking as taut 
set up as the mainstay by a new first lieutenant ; 
but, for all that, Sir Sidney was a weaselly man, 
no hull, sir, none ; but all head, like a tad- 
pole. But such a head ! it put you in mind of 
a flash of lightning rolled up into a ball ; and 
then his black curly nob when he shook it, it 
made every man shake in his shoes." 

" Was he then handsome ?" 

" Blest if I can tell ! You know, sir, as how we 
don't say of an eighteen-pounder, when it strikes 
the mark at a couple of miles or so, that's hand- 
some, but we sings out ' beautiful;' though, arter 
all, it's nothing but a lump of black iron. You're 
laughing, sir. And so you thinks I'm transmo- 
grifying Sir Sidney's head into a round lump of 
iron shot ! Well, I'm off like one. All I can 
say is, that he was most handsome when there 
was the most to do." 

This worthy old sailor's notions of the line of 
beauty being rather tortuous, we have only to 
endeavour to reconcile the two accounts, which 
may be done by the single word " soul." It pre- 
dominated in the expression of his features, and 
that, we conceive, is the noblest kind of beauty. 

At the time of which we write, the use of the 



280 MEMOIRS OF 

eat-o'-nine-tails was general throughout the navy, 
and as lavish as it was general. It therefore 
highly redounds to the humanity as well as to the 
good sense of Sir Sidney, that he was very sparing 
of the revolting infliction, but rarely having re- 
course to this brutal ultima ratio of naval com- 
manders ; and, when compelled to it by absolute 
necessity, never inflicting more than twenty-four 
lashes at one punishment. He had gained the 
entire confidence, and, though the word looks a 
little effeminate, we must add, the affection of 
all those who were so happy as to serve under 
him. Sir Sidney appears to have been distaste- 
ful only to those superior officers placed in com- 
mand immediately over him. 

Having thus been a little diffuse upon that 
which is merely personal to our celebrated com- 
mander, we must now proceed to trace the splen- 
did course of his services, which in order the 
more fully to appreciate, we must turn our atten- 
tion to the state of Egypt after the flight of Bona- 
parte, and the atrocious assassination of General 
Kleber. At this time, the fair average of the 
French troops occupying Egypt was twenty-six 
thousand men, with something more than eleven 
hundred Greek and Copt auxiliaries. In this 
average must be included sailors acting with 
the forces, commissioned and non-commissioned 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 281 

officers, the sick, the artillery, the commissariat, 
and every description of persons attached to the 
army. 

This force was at once both dispirited and 
exasperated; for, pining for their homes, and 
being deprived of the stimulus of spirituous 
liquors, they could hardly be prevailed upon to 
work on the fortifications, or even to throw up 
the necessary entrenchments for the safety of the 
posts of the army, yet, remembering the sup- 
posed injuries that they had received at the hands 
of the English, they were prepared to and ac- 
tually did fight, when the occasion offered itself, 
like so many furies. 

We know it to be admitted on all hands that 
General Menou had not the force of character or 
the martial intelligence of his predecessors in 
command. The dispositions for the defence of 
Egypt have been severely animadverted upon, and 
very generally condemned. He should have, 
before he thus dared the enmity of the English, 
either have possessed more military strength, or 
have been conscious of more military talent, be- 
fore he attempted to wield it. 

Whatever was the cause of all the misunder- 
standings with respect to the treaty of El-Arisch, 
or to whomever censure ought to have been 
justly charged for thus prolonging a needless 
and a bloody strife, our government was not 



282 MEMOIRS OF 

wanting in promptitude in taking steps to remedy 
these mistakes, and to clear Egypt from the pre- 
sence of the French. The Turks were stimulated to 
fresh exertions, and several of their corps put in 
motion in various points, whilst Sir Ralph Aber- 
cromby was appointed to the command of an 
efficient body of English troops, destined to act, 
in conjunction with Sir Sidney Smith and our 
Turkish allies, against Menou, now in the chief 
command of the republican forces. 

After receiving some reinforcements in the 
Mediterranean, and collecting a very respectable 
train of artillery at Gibraltar, the British army 
proceeded to its destination, but certainly not 
with that celerity which was expected from it, 
or which the urgency of the occasion seemed to 
demand. After various harassing arid unex- 
pected dela} r s, the armament, in conjunction with 
Lord Keith, at length proceeded to the coast of 
Egypt, and arrived off Alexandria on the 1st of 
March, 1801, and the next day sailed for Abou- 
kir Bay. 

Alexandria being then in possession of the 
French, and there being but two or three spots on 
the coast accessible to invasion, Aboukir Bay was 
necessarily chosen for the disembarkment of the 
British troops, and at a most favourable period, 
for, at this time, the force of the Mamelukes in 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 283 

the French pay seems almost to have been sub- 
dued, and the Arabs, after the manner of their 
tribe, trafficked equally with both parties, and 
waited for the termination of the contest, to side 
with the victorious party. The French, as we have 
before stated, dispirited by the flight of Bona- 
parte and the assassination of General Kleber, 
had fallen under the command of Menou, a man 
confessedly inferior to his predecessors in all great 
and wise qualities, and of so little moral influ- 
ence with those whom he commanded, that he 
had not the power to overawe into obedience the 
various parties into which his army had split 
themselves. 

By a singular oversight, Menou, instead of 
concentrating all his strength to prevent the land- 
ing of the English at Aboukir, divided his forces 
and sent bodies of them to oppose the Turks, and 
retained a large corps in garrison at Alexandria. 
This want of policy was the more absurd, as the 
Turks did not arrive on the confines of Egypt 
until the 27th of April, fifty days after the land- 
ing of the British. 

However, when the English fleet had arrived at 
Aboukir Bay, they found so high a sea running, 
and so violent a surf breaking upon the beach, 
that it was the 8th before any disembarkation 
could be attempted. On this occasion the inca- 



284 



MEMOIRS OF 



pacity of Menou was strikingly exemplified. He 
employed these six days of the inactivity forced 
upon the English, neither by sufficiently forti- 
fying the coast, nor by moving up fresh bodies 
of men, so that the sixteen thousand troops of 
the British found only four thousand men op- 
posed to them. However, the French were most 
advantageously posted, and made a most credit- 
able resistance to the disembarkation. The diffi- 
culties with which the English had to contend were 
neither few nor insignificant. They had to be 
conveyed, directly under the fire of the enemy's 
artillery, for a long space in open boats, and, 
when they neared the beach, to receive the 
incessant volleys of musketry that played upon 
them, whilst they were obliged to remain seated 
in a state of inactivity. The landing, under the 
superintendence of the Honourable Captain Coch- 
rarie, was brilliantly effected, and with a loss 
much less than was calculated upon, and imme- 
diately after, the enemy were driven from their 
posts, and their defeat made the more humili- 
ating and disastrous by the loss of several pieces 
of artillery. 

Sir Ralph Abercromby was struck with admi- 
ration at the admirable coolness and tact evinced 
by the naval officers and men on this all-impor- 
tant service. He bestowed upon them the high- 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 285 

est praises, and openly declared that, without 
their eminent services, he never could have 
brought his brave troops into action. 

It certainly was a most desperate service, and 
it is the opinion of the highest military authori- 
ties, that the event of this invasion would have 
been extremely doubtful if the whole French 
army, with their great superiority in cavalry, 
had been brought down to the coast, before 
their opponents were clear of' the sea, and, even 
had they effected a landing, before they could 
have gained time to organise and arrange their 
order of battle. 

The personal services that Sir Sidney Smith 
performed were, among others, the taking charge 
of the launches which contained the field artil- 
lery. After the debarkation and consequent vic- 
tory of our troops, Sir Sidney Smith, who had 
landed and reconnoitred this ground the year 
before, proposed that the battery at the entrance 
of Lake Maadie should be maintained when 
carried, or its assault, at all events, combined 
with the operations of the landing. Sir Robert 
Wilson confesses that this would have been a 
masterly movement, yet it was not adopted. 

After the action of the landing, the army em- 
ployed itself in finding water, as Sir Sidney 
assured the troops that wherever date trees grew 
water must be near. This assertion proved true, 



286 MEMOIRS OF 

and thus Sir Ralph Abercromby found himself 
relieved from an anxiety which might have de- 
termined him to relinquish the expedition. On 
the 20th of March an Arab chief sent in a letter 
to Sir Sidney Smith, acquainting him with the 
arrival of General Menou with a large army, and 
that it was his intention to surprise and attack 
the British camp the next morning ; but much 
confidence was not placed in this communication 
at head -quarters, although Sir Sidney was, in 
his own mind, convinced of the honesty and 
truth of the information, and assured his friends 
that the event would take place. 

This little trait shows of what vast importance 
was the presence of our hero with the army, and 
how useful were his counsels, for the next day 
the memorable battle of Alexandria took place. 
We shall not describe the technical movements 
of the respective armies, but confine ourselves to 
the stating of the manner in which the com- 
mander-in-chief met with the wound that was fatal 
to him. On the first alarm of the surprise which 
Sir Sidney foretold, and who was not believed, 
Sir Ralph, finding that the right was seriously 
engaged, proceeded thither. When he came near 
some ruins near which it was stationed, he de- 
spatched his aide-de-camp with some orders to the 
different brigades, and, whilst thus left alone, some 
French dragoons penetrated to the spot, and he 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 287 

was unhorsed : one of them was supposed to be an 
officer, from the tassel attached to his sword ; but 
just as the edge of the weapon was descending, 
his natural heroism and the emergency of the mo- 
ment so much invigorated him, that he seized 
the sword, and wrested it from the hand of 
his adversary, who, at the very moment, was 
bayoneted by a soldier of the 42nd. 

Sir Ralph did not perceive that he was wounded 
when he received the musket-ball in his thigh, 
but complained greatly of a contusion on his 
breast, supposed to have been received from the 
hilt of the sword in the scuffle. Sir Sidney 
Smith was the first officer who came to Sir Ralph, 
and who, by an accident, had broken his own 
sword, which Sir Ralph observing, he instantly 
presented him with the one which he had so glo- 
riously acquired from the French dragoon. This 
sword Sir Sidney intends to place upon his mo- 
nument. 

A singular circumstance happened almost im- 
mediately afterwards. Major Hall, aide-de-camp 
to General Cradock, whilst going with orders, 
had his horse killed. Seeing Sir Sidne}^ he 
begged of him permission to remount himself 
upon the horse of his orderly-man. As Sir 
Sidney was turning round to the man, he was 
saved the trouble of giving directions, by a can- 
non-ball sweeping off the dragoon's head. 



288 MEMOIRS OF 

" This," exclaimed Sir Sidney, " is destiny ! 
Major Hall, the horse is yours." 

Very shortly after, Sir Sidney Smith himself 
received a violent contusion from a musket-ball, 
which glanced on his right shoulder. 

But to return to the wounded commander-in- 
chief. As the French cavalry was by this time 
repulsed, Sir Ralph walked to the redoubt on the 
right of the Guards, from which he could com- 
mand a view of the whole field. 

At ten o'clock in the morning the action 
ceased by an orderly and unmolested retreat of 
the French to the position from which they had 
emerged, and it was not until their defeat was 
thus absolutely assured, that Sir Ralph Aber- 
cromby, who had remained on the battery, where 
several times he had been nearly killed by cannon- 
shot, could be prevailed upon to quit the field. 

He had continued walking about, paying no 
attention to his wound, only occasionally com- 
plaining of a pain in his breast from the contu- 
sion. Officers who went to him in the course of 
the action returned, without knowing, from his 
manner or his appearance, that he was wounded, 
and many ascertained it only by seeing the blood 
trickling down his clothes. At last, his spirit, 
when no longer stimulated by exertion, yielded 
to exhausted nature ; he became faint, was placed 
in a hammock, and borne to the depot, cheered 



SIR SII)\KY SMITH. 289 

by the feeling expressions and the blessings of 
the soldiers as he passed. He was then put into 
a boat, accompanied by his aide-de-camp and 
esteemed friend, Sir Thomas Dyer, and conveyed 
to Lord Keith's ship. 

On the evening of the 23rd, Sir Sidney Smith 
went with a flag of truce to the outposts, and 
demanded to be permitted to communicate with 
the commandant of Alexandria. An answer hav- 
ing been returned that no person could be per- 
mitted to pass the outposts, Sir Sidney sent in his 
letter, as from Sir Ralph Abercromby and Lord 
Keith, proposing an evacuation of Egypt by the 
French, by which they might return to France 
without being considered as prisoners of war; 
but that their shipping, artillery, and material 
must be placed in the hands of the allies. This 
was angrily refused. 

On the 29th, Sir Sidney Smith again went 
with a flag of truce to the outposts, as on the part 
of the Capitan Pasha, Sir Ralph Abercromby, 
and Lord Keith. Admittance into the town was 
refused, and no answer was returned to the 
despatch. 

It was on the morning of this day that the 
death of Sir Ralph Abercromby was known. 
He had borne painful operations with great firm- 
ness, but the ball could not be extracted. At 

VOL. i. u 



290 MEMOIRS OF 

length, mortification ensued, and he died on the 
evening of the 28th, having always expressed his 
solicitude for the army, and irritating his body, 
through his mind, from the first moment of his 
accident, with a desire to resume his command. 
He died as should a brave officer at a good old 
age, loved and honoured. His fate was a happy 
one. 

On the 31st of this memorable March, eleven 
Arab chiefs came to Sir Sidney Smith. They 
were all very intelligent men, with uncommonly 
fine countenances, and they were well clothed. 
It was impossible to regard these chiefs without 
thinking of the wise men of the land, and to see 
the simplicity of their manners without remem- 
bering the patriarchs. 

On the 13th of April, we find Sir Sidney, with 
a party of dragoons, reconnoitring a position, 
and shortly after proceeding up the Nile with an 
armed flotilla, so far as El Arisch. This ubiquity 
seems astonishing. On the 18th, we next meet 
with him cannonading Rosetta from four dgerms 
that he had equipped with wonderful despatch. 

We now come to the termination of his inva- 
luable services on shore in Egypt. Sir Robert 
Wilson thus pays an honest tribute to his 
merits : 

" Sir Sidney was endeared to officers and men 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 

by his conduct, courage, and affability. With 
pride they beheld the hero of Acre ; with admi- 
ration they reflected on the convention of El 
Arisch ; they had witnessed his exertions, and 
calculated on his enterprise. The Arabs regarded 
him as a superior being. To be the friend of 
Smith was the highest honour they courted, and 
his word the only pledge they required. No 
trouble, no exertions, no expense, had been spared 
by him to obtain their friendship, and to elevate, 
in their opinions, the national character. But 
the order was given, and remonstrance would 
have been unworthy ; it is true, as a seaman he 
could not complain of being ordered to reassume 
the command of his ship ; but the high power he 
had been invested with, the ability he had dis- 
played as a soldier and a statesman, entitled him 
to a superior situation in this expedition, and the 
interest of the service seemed to require that the 
connexion he had formed with the Mamelukes 
should, through him, be maintained. The army, 
therefore, saw Sir Sidney leave them with regret, 
but he carried with him their best wishes and 
gratitude." 

It is thus that General Hutchinson mentions 
Sir Sidney in his despatch : 

" Sir Sidney Smith had originally the com- 
mand of the seamen who landed from the fleet ; 

u 2 



292 MEMOIRS OF 

he continued on shore till after the capture of 
Eosetta, and returned on board the Tigre a short 
time before the appearance of Admiral Gan- 
theaume's squadron on the coast. He was present 
at the three actions of the 8th, 13th, and 21st of 
March, when he displayed that ardour of mind 
for the service of his country, and that noble in- 
trepidity, for which he has ever been so con- 
spicuous." 



SIR sm\KY SMITH. 203 



CHAPTER XIX. 

Cursory sketch of the termination of the Egyptian cam- 
paign Sir Sidney feted by the Capitan Pasha Anecdote 
of another similar honour Bonaparte's impiety Sir Sid- 
ney returns to England with despatches Civic honours. 

As we have thus far glanced at the military 
operations of the combined forces in Egypt, it 
will not be thought superfluous to give a rapid 
sketch of the proceedings of the allied army, up 
to the treaty for the evacuation of Egypt. 

These proceedings were marked by most sin- 
gular delays and procrastinations. After the 
battle of the 21st of March, which was fought 
about four miles distant from Alexandria, we 
waited until the 14th of April before we presented 
ourselves at the gates of Rosetta, which were 
flung open at our approach. We remained con- 
tent with this advantage until the 5th of May, 
when we again commenced military operations 



294 MEMOIRS OF 

by investing the Fort of St. Julien, garrisoned 
by only two hundred and sixty men, which we 
reduced in two days. 

On the 5th of May, we commenced our march 
for Cairo from El Hamed, which was distant 
only one hundred and twenty miles, yet it occu- 
pied us forty-two days in the march. The only 
opposition that we experienced was at Rhama- 
meth, where we lost twenty men, the French 
suffering a defeat. This took place on the 9th of 
May. From this place the French retired from 
before General Hutchiuson, and reached Cairo in 
three days. However, we moved more deli- 
berately, occupying thirty-eight days to overcome 
the same distance, without seeing an enemy or 
firing a shot the whole of the way. 

Cairo capitulated on the 20th of June. We 
then proceeded against Alexandria, at which 
place Menou had stationed himself with the main 
body of the French army, and fifty days after the 
fall of Cairo, during which time not an hostile 
shot was fired, we opened the siege, and reduced 
the place in fifteen days. 

After this success, so long protracted, Menou 
consented to the evacuation of Egypt, upon pre- 
cisely the same terms as those which formed the 
original evacuation of El Arisen, and the republi- 
can army, with its baggage, was conveyed in 



Sill SIDNEY SMITH. 295 

ships of the allied powers to the nearest French 
ports. 

As we have before stated, it was only at the 
commencement of this campaign that Sir Sid- 
ney Smith served with the allied army. Is 
it hazarding too much to say, that if he had 
continued with it, he would have infused into 
its commanders some of the same spirit of en- 
terprise that made the defeat of Acre so success- 
ful ? There is no doubt but that the conquest 
of Egypt was glorious to our arms, but still we 
think that we did not reap the full measure of 
honour in the field that lay before us. 

Be this as it may, when the allied army ad- 
vanced towards Cairo, by a very unworthy 
compliance with the antipathies of the Capitan 
Pacha, Sir Sidney was sent on board his ship. 
The following, reason is assigned by Sir Robert 
Wilson for the aversion of the Capitan towards 
Sir Sidney. 

" Sir Sidney, on receiving Lord Keith's refusal 
to the convention of El Arisen, instantly sent off 
an express with it to Cairo, as he knew that 
General Kleberwas immediately to evacuate that 
city on the faitli of the treaty ; thus preferring 
the maintenance of his own and his country's 
honour to a temporary advantage. The mes- 



296 MEMOIRS OF 

senger arrived a few days before the evacuation 
was to have been completed, and the conse- 
quences are well known. But certainly, the 
Turks had so fully depended on its execution, 
that they had advanced without artillery and 
ammunition." 

We can well conceive this to have been a mortal 
offence to the Capitan, as he could have but a 
slight conception of the chivalrous character of 
Sir Sidney ; but, great as was the umbrage taken 
by the Turks, we should not have suffered the 
ignominy of permitting our barbarous allies to 
dictate to us what officers we should or should 
not employ. Of this we are well assured, that 
the presence of Sir Sidney Smith with the army 
was of more importance to its success than that 
of the Capitan Pacha and all his forces. 

Whatever might have been the pique on the 
one hand by the Turkish commander, and the 
resentment on the other, we find, shortly after the 
evacuation of the French, the naval Capitan 
Pacha giving a grand entertainment on board 
the Sultan Selirn, to Sir William Sidney Smith, 
to whom, with strong expressions of admiration 
and attachment, he presented a valuable scimitar, 
and, what was considered as the greatest compli- 
ment that he could confer on him, one of his own 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 29? 

silk flags, a badge of distinction which claims 
from all Turkish admirals, and other commanders, 
an equal respect to that which they owe to his 
highness the Pacha ; such as the obligation of 
personally waiting on him previously to their 
departure from, and on their rej unction with, the 
fleet. 

Honours of this sort seem to have been 
lavished on our officer with a prodigality that 
merit only such as his could have justified. 
Having, in 1799, rendered himself of much im- 
portance to the Grand Seignior, he received the 
Ottoman order of the Crescent from Constanti- 
nople, accompanied with a firman and seal from 
the Sultan, delegating to him unlimited authority 
over his subjects in the sea of the Archipelago, 
and of his Asiatic provinces, a power which Sir 
Sidney can exercise at any time by virtue of the 
seal and document above mentioned. The seal, 
the turban, and the aigrette, are the same 
with the Sultan's, with the exception of the in- 
scription which surrounds it, a text from the 
Koran in Arabic, of which the following is a 
translation. 

Speaking of the Christians, the Koran says, 
" They are a people which exist. They read of 
the wonders of God during whole nights, and 



298 MEMOIRS OF 

they adore Him with bended knees. They be- 
lieve in God and in the last day. They order 
the doing of good deeds, they forbid evil ones, and 
they are eager in works of charity ; therefore are 
they (the Christians) good." 

The Pacha, who was, on this occasion, the envoy 
of the Sultan to Sir Sidney Smith, having 
formerly incurred Sir Sidney's displeasure, was 
extremely troubled in his mind with appre- 
hension and fear all the time that he was invest- 
ing him with the order, and performing the other 
requisite commands; and, when finally he buckled 
on the rich sword, he fully expected to see the 
glittering blade flash in the light, and that, in 
the next twinkling of his eye, his head would fly 
off from his shoulders. Had this been the case, it 
would not have excited the smallest surprise in the 
by-standers ; for it is quite customary in Turkey, 
and among the Mahometans generally, in send- 
ing an embassy to a powerful prince or a pasha, 
to replace another, or, as in this instance, on a 
mission of importance, bearing honours and pre- 
sents from the Sultan, to select an individual who 
has offended the person whom the Sultan thus 
deigns to notice with favourable marks of confi- 
dence; and immediately after the unfortunate 
ambassador makes his salaam, he "is either re- 



SJU SIDNEY SMITH. 2 ( J9 

lieved of his head by the ready Damascus blade, 
or, with equal promptitude and facility, strangled 
by the mutes with the bowstring. 

No such fate, however, awaited the pasha sent 
by the Sultan to Sir Sidney. The commodore 
certainly enjoyed his embarrassment, and was 
highly amused at the trepidation and alarm which 
the old Turk displayed, and which he, in turn, 
endeavoured to conceal by an appearance of 
cheerfulness, a vivacity so awkwardly assumed, 
that even his own followers were quite surprised 
at his strange gestures and grimaces. The ob- 
stinate resistance that the muscles of his face 
made to represent anything like a genuine smile, 
and his fruitless attempts to force them to relax, 
were perfectly frightful, and provoked the laugh- 
ter of the whole assembly. This mirth was the 
means of reassuring him a little, for he took it 
for granted that such a man as Sir Sidney 
Smith could not look upon the depriving of a 
poor Turk like himself of his head, to be the 
most fitting subject in the world for merriment, 
and, on daring to look up into his face, he was con- 
vinced that he had conjectured rightly. Upon a 
more earnest survey, his astonishment equalled 
his joy when he found not the slightest indi- 
cation of resentment, or even of displeasure, in 
the admiral's countenance, as he turned his eyes 



300 



MEMOIRS OF 



upon him with an expression that he well under- 
stood, and began greeting him with words of 
peace and good- will, thus entirely removing from 
him any doubts or fears with which he might 
still be harassed concerning his personal safety. 
As a still further assurance of Sir Sidney's kindly 
intention, and because he knew that there were 
valuable qualities in the man, he made him, a 
few days afterwards, the governor of Cyprus. 

To return to our narrative. After the surrender 
of the French army, Sir Sidney Smith seized the 
opportunity of visiting the holy city of Jerusalem, 
where the following anecdote of Bonaparte was 
related to him by the superior of a convent. 
People may place what reliance they choose upon 
its authenticity, and either conceive it to be of 
no more value than is generally affixed to a 
monkish tale, or give it full credence, on the 
score that, at that time, so strong was the current 
of infidelity among the French people, that Bona- 
parte, who wished to float to power on its stream, 
might well have been guilty of the ascribed 
impiety. 

When his general, Damas, had advanced with 
a detachment of the army, within a few leagues 
of Jerusalem, he (Damas) sent to his commander- 
in-chief for permission to make an attack upon 
the place. Bonaparte replied, that " when he had 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 301 

taken Acre, he would come in person, and plant 
the tree of liberty on the very spot where Christ 
suffered ; and that the first French soldier who 
fell in the attack should be buried in the holy 
sepulchre." 

At this period, when men's minds are less ex- 
cited, such fanaticism of infidelity as is here dis- 
played seems altogether incredible. However, 
whether this anecdote be true or not, as it was 
uttered to suit the temper of those times, it is a 
curious record of the exasperation that was enter- 
tained, either by the one party or the other. That 
much of this kind of senseless bravado on the 
score of religion was promulgated by Bonaparte 
in his Egyptian career is but too certain, yet this 
man died a certified good Catholic, and in a faith 
the most credulous that ever existed. 

Sir Sidney Smith was the first Christian who 
was ever permitted to enter Jerusalem armed, or 
even in the customary dress of a Frank. By his 
means, his followers also, and all who visited it 
through his influence, were allowed the same 
privilege. 

On the 5th of September of the current year, 
the transactions of which we have been narrat- 
ing, Sir Sidney Smith and Colonel Abercromby 
embarked at Alexandria on board the Carmen 
frigate, with the despatches relative to the late 



302 MEMOIRS OF 

campaign. Every one will concede that this 
honourable mission was justly devolved upon the 
naval commander ; and not the less so was 'it 
shared by Colonel Abercromby, whose meri- 
torious services had been of the most valuable 
description, to say nothing of the selection of the 
herald of the intelligence that was to complete 
his father's fame being gracefully and properly 
assigned to a son that was assiduously following 
in his parent's steps. These two accomplished 
officers arrived in London on the 10th of No- 
vember following. 

We must presume that Sir Sidney Smith's 
diplomatic character had now altogether ceased 
on his accepting this mission with the despatches, 
even if they had not been supposed to have 
terminated at the disavowal, on the part of our 
government, through Lord Keith, of the conven- 
tion of El Arisch, which we maintain that he so 
wisely signed. However, we have it upon good 
authority, that, up to the present time, he was 
never pecuniarily remunerated for his ambassa- 
dorial functions. 

Sir Sidney, some very considerable time after, 
finding himself at Vienna, when the late Mar- 
quis of Londonderry, then Lord Castlereagh, was 
settling the affairs of the European world, stated 
to his lordship the disagreeable position in which 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 303 

lie found himself, and dwelt forcibly upon the 
injustice of letting claims for services so valuable 
as those which he had performed in Egypt remain 
so long unsettled. Lord Castlereagh immediately 
assented to the hardship of the case, and pro- 
ceeded directly to make use of the best remedy, 
by amply satisfying the demand. " But," as Sir 
Sidney expressed it himself, " as he thought 
proper to terminate his existence shortly after- 
wards, and neglected to leave an official memo- 
randum of the transaction, I was obliged to 
refund the money, and up to the present moment, 
although I have been perpetually promised by 
the different ministers that I should be indemni- 
nified and settled with, I have never received one 
farthing." 

Upon Sir Sidney Smith's return to England, 
one of the first honours with which he was 
greeted, and at which we have before hinted, was 
displayed in the following manner. 

The Corporation of London, anxious to ex- 
hibit a proof of their admiration of the gallant 
achievements of Sir Sidney Smith at the siege 
of Acre, resolved to bestow upon him the free- 
dom of their ancient city, and to accompany it 
with the present of a valuable sword ; on the 7th 
instant, the naval hero attended at Guildhall, in 
order to be invested with the civic privileges of 



304 MEMOIRS OF 

which he had been deemed worthy, and to re. 
ceive the symbol of valour he had so justly 
merited. 

The Lord Mayor, the Chamberlain, and 
several of the Aldermen were ready to receive 
him. He made his appearance between one and 
two, and was ushered into the Chamberlain's 
office. The Lord Mayor received him with the 
utmost courtesy, and introduced him to Mr. 
James Dixon, the gentleman who had done him- 
self the honour of voting the thanks of the court 
of common council in his favour. The Cham- 
berlain then addressed the distinguished officer 
in the following terms : 

" Sir Sidney Smith I give you joy, in the 
name of the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Com- 
mons of the City of London, in common coun- 
cil assembled, and present you the thanks of 
the Court for your gallant and successful de- 
fence of St. Jean d'Acre against the desperate 
attack of the French army under the command 
of General Bonaparte. And, as a further tes- 
timony of the sense the Court entertains of 
your great display of valour on that occasion, I 
have the honour to present you with the free- 
dom of the city and this sword. [Sir Sidney 
received the sword, and pressed it with fervour 
to his lips.] I will not, sir, attempt a panegyric 



Sill SIDNEY SMITH. 305 

upon an action to which the first oratorical 
powers in the most eloquent assemblies have 
been confessed unequal ; but I cannot help ex- 
ulting on this happy occasion at the vast acqui- 
sition of national reputation acquired by your con- 
duct at the head of a handful of Britons, in re- 
pulsing him who has been justly styled the 
Alexander of the day, surrounded by a host of 
conquerors till then deemed invincible. By this 
splendid achievement you frustrated the designs 
of the foe on our East Indian territories, prevented 
the overthrow of the Ottoman power in Asia, 
the downfall of its throne in Europe, and pre- 
pared the way for that treaty of peace, which 
it is devoutly to be wished may long preserve the 
tranquillity of the universe, and promote friend- 
ship and goodwill among all nations. It must 
be highly gratifying to every lover of his country 
that this event should happen on the very spot 
where a gallant English monarch formerly dis- 
played such prodigies of valour that a cele- 
brated historian, recording his actions, struck 
with the stupendous instances of prowess dis- 
played by that heroic prince, suddenly exclaimed, 
* Am I writing history or romance ? ' Had, sir, 
that historian survived to have witnessed what 
has recently happened at St. Jean d'Acre, lie 
would have exultingly resigned his doubts, and 
VOL. i. x 



306 MEMOIRS OF 

generously have confessed that actions, no less 
extraordinary than those performed by the gal- 
lant Cosur de Lion, have been achieved by Sir 
Sidney Smith." This speech was followed by 
universal acclamations. 

Sir Sidney Smith thus replied: 

" Sir Unconscious that I should have been 
thought worthy of being addressed by you on 
the part of the city of London in terms of such 
high and unqualified approbation, I am but ill 
prepared for replying in a manner adequately to 
express the sentiments with which I am im- 
pressed. My confidence would be lessened, did I 
not feel that I was surrounded by friends who 
are dear to me, and whose approbation I am 
proud to have received. It shall be the object 
of my future life to merit the panegyric you have 
been pleased to pronounce in my favour. For 
the freedom of your city, with which you have 
honoured me, I return you my sincere thanks, 
and shall implicitly conform to all the obligations 
annexed to it. Above all, I accept this sword as 
the most honourable reward which could have been 
conferred on me. In peace it will be my proud- 
est ornament, and in war I trust I shall be ever 
ready to draw it in defence of my country, and 
for the protection of the city of London." [Loud 
applause.] 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 307 

Sir Sidney Smith then took the usual civic 
oaths ; and having made a liberal donation to 
the poor's box, departed amidst the acclamations 
of the populace. 



308 



MEMOIRS OF 



CHAPTER XX. 



Sir Sidney Smith returned member of parliament for Ro- 
chester His speech in the House of Commons, and at 
the anniversary of the Naval Institution His appointment 
in the Antelope to the command of a squadron His ser- 
vices in that command. 

THE grateful countrymen of Sir Sidney Smith, 
eager to testify their feelings for his almost uni- 
versal talents, showed him, on every occasion, 
the most marked respect. Civic honours followed 
those of the battle, the ocean, and the court. At 
the general election of representatives for the 
second parliament of the United Kingdom, the 
citizens of Rochester evinced their good taste by 
choosing our officer, in conjunction with Mr. 
James Hulkes, to watch their own interests and 
those of the empire in the House of Commons. 
Sir Sidney accordingly took his seat for that an- 
cient city on the opening of the session, on the 
16th of November, 1802. 

At this period, the country was in a state of 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 309 

fitful repose, during a short and hollow peace ; a 
peace that seemed to be more like a mutual ces- 
sation of hostilities, only obtained in order to afford 
all parties a little respite to enable them to re- 
commence war with increased bitterness, fury, 
and devastation. 

In his Majesty's address to his parliament, 
whilst he assured both Houses that he was, with 
a paternal anxiety, most solicitous to maintain 
peace, he spoke as apprehensive of approaching 
war, and breathed forth the accents of defiance 
and preparation. In the Upper House, Lord 
Nelson, fresh in the glories of the victory of the 
Nile, seconded the address to the throne. This 
was commendable to all parties, and honourable 
to the ministry. 

At this distance of time it is impossible accu- 
rately to know, or if known, fully to appreciate, 
the various actuating motives of those who then 
ruled the destinies of England. But, looking to 
the services of Sir Sidney, and weighing how 
greatly his talents and activity had been the cause 
of gaining for England the peace, such as it was, 
we presume to think that he should have done 
that in the House of Commons, which Lord 
Nelson so gracefully performed in the House of 
Lords. 

For the short time that he was enabled to 



310 



MEMOIRS OF 



attend to his parliamentary duties, the commo- 
dore was, though by no means obtrusive, dili- 
gent and attentive. At that period Pitt, Fox, 
and Sheridan, with other men who have identi- 
fied themselves with the history of the country, 
were in the zenith of their glory. In the fields 
of oratory, competition with declaimers like these 
would have been vain. Besides, at that time, 
Sir Sidney conscientiously supported the party 
that was opposed to the latitudinarian principles 
of government, religion, and morals, that was 
then so lamentably gaining ground. The posts 
that a man of virtuous ambition would have been 
anxious to fill, were all occupied. Nothing was 
left for Sir Sidney, but to follow those who were 
so well able to lead ; and to support by his vote, 
and strengthen by his countenance, those princi- 
ples for which he had so gloriously fought, bled, 
and conquered. 

Yet, though by no means a clamorous or even 
a garrulous member, when the opportunity oc- 
curred, by which the House might benefit by his 
nautical or military experience, he knew well 
how to impart that experience in a manner both 
dignified and impressive. On the debate on the 
navy estimates, when Mr. Alexander moved for 
a grant of fifty thousand seamen for the service 
of the ensuing year, Sir Sidney Smith expressed 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 311 

considerable regret at the great reductions which 
were so suddenly made, not only in the king's 
dockyards, but also throughout the naval ser- 
vice. He remarked, feelingly, that by this pro- 
ceeding a prodigious number of men had thus 
been reduced to the utmost poverty and distress ; 
and thus, being goaded by a sudden and unde- 
served misery, they would be compelled to seek 
for employment in foreign states, and the very 
sinews of our strength and safety be wasted. He 
knew that, however distasteful foreign service 
might be to the English sailor, dire necessity 
would oblige him to enter into it. Though he 
supported the vote, yet, on the grounds that he 
had stated, he earnestly wished that the number 
of seamen to be employed were considerably 
greater than it actually was ; for he knew, from 
his own experience, that what was called an 
ordinary seaman could hardly find employ- 
ment, at present, either in his Majesty's or the 
merchant service. He then proceeded to in- 
form the House that he himself had been pre- 
sent at some of the changes which had lately 
taken place in France, and that they resembled 
more the changes of scenery at a theatre than 
anything else. In that versatile country every- 
thing was done for stage effect ; and, whether it 
were the death of Caesar, the fall of Byzantium, 



312 MEMOIRS OF 

or the march of Alexander, it seemed, to a 
Frenchman, almost indifferent. He looked only 
to the blaze of the moment, and the magic of 
effect. Knowing this trait in the Gallic charac- 
ter, he felt assured, that if the invasion of Bri- 
tain were to be produced for the amusement and 
excitement of that nation, it would have the 
stage effect sufficient to draw four hundred thou- 
sand volunteers to join in the procession. Under 
these circumstances, he wished that this country 
should always be in a situation to call together 
speedily a strong naval force a force equal to 
frustrate any attempts on the part of the enemy. 

The salutary nature of this advice events were 
not slow in making apparent, for, in a few weeks 
subsequent to the delivery of this concise and 
sensible speech, our subject was in the command 
of a portion of the naval armament, the increase 
of which he had so wisely and powerfully ad- 
vocated. 

In all those acts that had philanthropy for 
their end, or which could tend to ameliorate hu- 
man suffering, Sir Sidney Smith was always 
found in the foremost ranks of the beneficent. 
On the 2d of June in the year 1802, the anni- 
versary of the Naval Institution was held at the 
London Tavern. On this occasion Lord Bel- 
grave was the chairman, occupying that dis- 



Sill SIDNEY SMITH. 313 

tinguished post in the room of Earl St. Vincent, 
who was compelled to be absent on account of 
ill health. There were present some of the most 
distinguished heroes of the country, hardly one 
of whom now lives, saving in the memories of 
their grateful countrymen, with the exception of 
Sir Sidney Smith. Sir Hyde Parker, Lord Nel- 
son, Sir William Hamilton, with very many 
others, to whom the nation then looked up with 
confidence, graced this benevolent meeting. We 
have no space, nor is it our province to record, 
any of those proceedings, excepting those person- 
ally connected with our officer. 

Upon the health of Sir Sidney Smith being 
drunk with the warmest and most enthusiastic 
applause, he thus addressed the meeting : 

" He need not assure the company of his 
warm feelings towards them for that Asylum 
they had provided for the orphans of those brave 
men who had fallen in the late contest. Unfor- 
tunately for him, too many were in the list of 
his dearest friends." [Here Sir Sidney's feelings 
were too great for utterance his head sank 
the big tear rolled down the hero's cheek.*] A 
solemn silence prevailed for several minutes, and 
soft sympathy filled many a manly bosom, until 
Sir Sidney was roused by the thunder of ap- 
* This is an extract from the Naval Chronicle. 



314 



MEMOIRS OF 



plause which followed. He again addressed the 
company, stated that it was his intention to 
hand the governors a list of those sufferers; 
among them was his intimate friend Captain 
Miller, of the Theseus ; they had served together 
as midshipmen under Lord Rodney. Captain 
Miller lost his life off Acre, and had left two 
children. The next was Major Oldfield, of the 
marines. He would tell the company where the 
dead body of this brave man was contended for, 
and they would judge where and how he died. 
It was in the sortie of the garrison of St. Jean 
d'Acre, when attacked by General Bonaparte, 
that Major Oldfield, who commanded the sortie, 
was missing. On our troops advancing, his body 
was found at the mouth of one of the enemy's 
mines, and at the foot of their works. Our brave 
men hooked him by the neckcloth, as he lay 
dead, to draw him off; the enemy at the same time 
pierced him in the side with a halberd, and each 
party struggled for the body ; the neckcloth gave 
way, and the enemy succeeded in dragging to 
their works this brave man ; and here he must 
do them that justice which such gallant enemies 
are fully entitled to ; they next day buried Major 
Oldfield with all the honours of war. This brave 
man has left children. In the list also is Cap- 
tain Canes, late first lieutenant of the Tigre. 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 315 

He lost not his life in any of the numerous actions 
in which he was engaged, but in carrying de- 
spatches to the Mediterranean of the prelimina- 
ries of peace. He perished at sea with his ship 
and crew. This brave officer has left young or- 
phans who want support." Sir Sidney concluded 
a most affecting address thus : " That their or- 
phans, and the offspring of the many others who 
have so nobly fought and died in their king and 
country's service, may meet support equal to 
their claim, is the warmest wish of my heart." 

On the 7th of January 1803, Sir Sidney ob- 
tained from his sovereign permission to bear the 
following honourable augmentations to the armo- 
rial ensigns borne by his family, viz. on the 
cheveron a wreath of laurel, accompanied by two 
crosses Calvary ; and, on the chief augmentation, 
the interior of an ancient fortification in perspec- 
tive ; in the angle a breach, and on the sides of 
the said breach the standard of the Ottoman 
Empire and the union flag of Great Britain. 
For crest, the imperial Ottoman chelengk, or 
plume of triumph, upon a turban, in allusion to 
the honourable and distinguished decoration 
transmitted by the Turkish Emperor to Sir 
William Sidney Smith, in testimony of his 
esteem, and in acknowledgment of his merito- 
rious exertions in defence of Acre; and the 



316 MEMOIRS OF 

family crest, viz. a leopard's head, collared and 
lined, issuing out of an oriental crown, the same 
arms and crest to be borne by Sir William Sid- 
ney Smith and his issue, together with the motto 
" CCEUR DE LION." And although the privilege 
of bearing supporters be limited to peers of the 
realm, the knights of the different orders, and 
the proxies of princes of the blood-royal at in- 
stallations, except in such cases wherein, under 
particular circumstances, the king shall be pleased 
to grant his especial license for the use thereof; 
his Majesty, in order to give a further testimony 
of his particular approbation of Sir Sidney 
Smith's services, was also graciously pleased to 
allow him to bear, for supporters to his arms, a 
tiger gardant navally crowned, in the mouth a 
palm branch, being the symbol of victory sup- 
porting the union flag of Great Britain, with 
the inscription " JERUSALEM, 1799," upon the 
cross of St. George, and a lamb murally crowned, 
being the symbol of peace, supporting the banner 
of Jerusalem. 

Honoured thus by his king, and thus prized by 
his country, shortly after his Majesty's declaration 
against France, dated at Westminster, May the 
18th, Sir Sidney hoisted his broad pennant as 
commodore on board of the Antelope, of fifty 
guns, with the command of a squadron to be 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 317 

employed on the French coast. His appoint- 
ment to this ship bears the date of the 12th of 
March, 1803. 

Of the fatigue, the irksomeness, and the dan- 
ger of this service, a landsman can form no 
adequate opinion. The very seas in which 
the vessel is forced to remain, sailing hither 
and thither, within a very circumscribed com- 
pass, are replete with dangers. The pilot and 
the master have no longer to contend with the 
open sea, of which the dangers are, compara- 
tively speaking, frank though great. But in the 
waters that wash the French, Flemish, and Eng- 
lish shores, the soundings are variable, the sand- 
banks multitudinous, and continually shifting 
their positions. When we add to all these the 
impetuosity of the tides as they rush through the 
narrow races, and whirl round the low head- 
lands, it will be most apparent that the shot and 
shell of the enemy are to be reckoned among the 
least of the dangers to which a ship is exposed in 
the service on which the Antelope was employed 
when under the command of Sir Sidney Smith. 

The vessel was always either lying off the 
Texel, Ostend, or the coast of France opposite 
to England, sometimes at sea, sometimes at 
single anchor, excepting on those occasions when 



318 MEMOIRS OF 

she was obliged to repair to Yarmouth Roads for 
the necessary refits. 

When on the enemy's coasts, scarcely a day 
passed but some skirmish ensued, now with 
the ship, then with the boats. The prizes made 
were numerous, but singly of too little importance 
to call for observation. Sometimes these harass- 
ing services were performed by the crew of the 
Antelope alone, sometimes assisted by other 
vessels. 

Very much of this fatiguing service consisted 
of taking soundings in the mouths of the har- 
bours, and under the guns of the batteries. The 
danger and the damage encountered in these 
useful but little valued services, so far as either 
emolument or fame is concerned, are of an 
extent as little understood as it is appreciated. 
Arms and legs may be shredded off, and yet no 
room afforded even for five lines of glory to the suf- 
ferers in a despatch published in the Gazette. 
We acknowledge that the pension will be paid, 
but the man may be disabled for life, and all his 
hopes of future advancement in his profession 
destroyed. We have been induced to make these 
remarks, in order to impress upon the general 
reader that naval officers may have deserved well 
of the country, though they could never boast 



Sill SIDNEY SMITH. 319 

of 1 laving contributed to the success of a general 
action, or to the glory of some well-contested 
single encounter. 

Our officer soon made his presence felt by the 
enemy, for by his vigilance he kept them in a 
state of continual alarm. At this time, the 
French were employing all their skill and acti- 
vity in preparing, in the various seaports con- 
tiguous to Great Britain, a vast armament for 
the invasion of those shores that have never seen 
a successful enemy upon them since the Norman 
conquest. Nothing now was spoken of on one 
side of the Channel but praams, flat-bottomed 
boats, and flotillas ; and, on the other, sea fen- 
cibles, corps of loyal volunteers, and catama- 
rans. 

The service on which our commodore was now 
employed gave but little scope to his ambition, 
and he performed nothing brilliant, solely be- 
cause the enemy would give him no opportunity. 
But his untiring watchfulness, though it brought 
him no increase of glory, insured the safety of 
his country, and security to the commerce of 
England in the Channel. 

But he was not wholly confined to the duties 
of vigilance, for on the 17th of May, 1804, he 
made an attack on a French flotilla lying at 
anchor off Ostend. This was a bold, well- 



320 MEMOIRS OF 

planned, but unsuccessful attempt to prevent the 
junction of the enemy's flotilla at Flushing with 
that of Ostend. The failure principally arose 
from the want of a sufficient number of gun- 
boats, which, from the shallowness of water in 
which these vessels move, could alone act against 
the enemy with effect. Fifty-nine sail of the 
Flushing division reached Ostend in safety ; and 
the English force, on the falling of the tide, were 
compelled to haul off into deep water, after 
being nearly the whole day engaged, and with 
considerable loss. 

We shall give the narrative of this little affair 
in his own words, in a despatch addressed to 
Lord Keith. 

" MY LORD, Information from all quarters, 
and the evident state of readiness in which the 
enemy's armaments were in Helvoet, Flushing, 
and Ostend, indicating the probability of a ge- 
neral movement from those ports, I reinforced 
Captain Manby, off Helvoet, with one ship, and 
directed Captain Hancock, of the Cruiser, sta- 
tioned in-shore, to combine his operations and 
the Rattler's with the squadron of gunboats sta- 
tioned off Ostend. The Antelope, Penelope, and 
Amiable, occupied a central position in sight 
both of Flushing and Ostend, in anxious expec- 
tation of the enemy's appearance. Yesterday, 






SIR SIDNKY SMITH. 321 

at half-past five A.M., I received information from 
Captain Hancock, then off Ostend, that the 
enemy's flotilla was hauling out of that pier, and 
had already twenty-one one-masted vessels, arid 
one schooner outside in the roads ; and at half 
past seven the same morning I had the satisfac- 
tion to see the Flushing flotilla, of fifty-nine sail, 
viz. two ship-rigged praams, nineteen schooners, 
and thirty-eight schuyts, steering along-shore 
from that port towards Ostend, under circum- 
stances which allowed me to hope I should be 
able to bring them to action. The signal was 
made in the Cruiser and Rattler for an enemy 
in the E.S.E. to call their attention from Ostend ; 
the squadron weighed the moment the flood made, 
and allowed of the heavier ships following them 
over the banks ; the signals to chase and engage 
were obeyed with alacrity, spirit, and judgment 
by the active and experienced officers your lord- 
ship has done me the honour to place under my 
orders. Captains Hancock and Mason attacked 
this formidable line with the greatest gallantry 
and address, attaching themselves particularly 
to the two praams, both of them of greater force 
than themselves, independent of the cross fire 
from the schooners and schuyts. I sent the 
Amiable by signal to support them. The Pe- 
nelope (having an able pilot, Mr. Thornton) 

VOL. I. Y 



322 MEMOIRS OF 

on signal being made to engage, Captain Brough- 
ton worked up to the centre of the enemy's line, 
as near as the shoal water would allow, while the 
Antelope went round the Stroom Sand, to cut the 
van off from Ostend. Unfortunately our gun- 
boats were not in sight, having, as I undersood 
since, devoted their attention to preventing the 
Ostend division from moving westward. The 
enemy attempted to get back to Flushing ; but 
being harassed by the Cruiser and the Rattler, 
and the wind coming more easterly against them, 
they were obliged to run the gauntlet to the west- 
ward, keeping close to the beach under the pro- 
tection of the batteries. Having found a passage 
for the Antelope within the Stroom Sand, she 
was enabled to bring her broadside to bear on 
the headmost schooners before they got the 
length of Ostend. The leader struck immedi- 
ately, and the crew deserted her : she was, how- 
ever, recovered by the followers. The artillery 
from the town and camp, and the rowing gun- 
boats from the pier, kept up a constant and well- 
directed fire for their support ; our shot, however, 
which went over the schooners, going ashore 
among the horse artillery, interrupted it in a de- 
gree ; still, however, it was from the shore we 
received the greatest annoyance ; for the schooners 
and schuyts crowding along could not bring 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 323 

their prow guns to bear without altering their 
course towards us, which they could not venture; 
and their side guns, though numerous and well 
served, were very light. In this manner the 
Penelope and Antelope engaged every part of 
their long line, from four to eight, while the 
Amiable, Cruiser, and Rattler continued to press 
their rear. Since two o'clock the sternmost praam 
struck her colours and ran on shore ; but the ar- 
tillery-men from the army got on board, and she 
renewed her fire on the Amiable with the pre- 
cision of a land battery, from which that ship 
suffered much. Captain Bolton speaks much in 
praise of Lieutenant Mather, who is wounded. 
Several of the schooners and schuyts immediately 
under the fire of the ships were driven on shore 
in the like manner, and recovered by the army. 
At eight, the tide falling and leaving us in little 
more water than we could draw, we were re- 
luctantly obliged to haul off into deeper water to 
keep afloat, and the enemy's vessels that were 
not on shore, or too much shattered, were thus 
able to reach Ostend, these and the Ostend 
division having hauled into the basin. I have 
anchored in such a position as to keep an eye on 
them ; and I shall endeavour to close with them 
again, if they move into deeper water. I have to 
regret that, from the depth of water in which 

y 2 



324 MEMOIRS OF 

these vessels move, gunboats only can act against 
them with effect : four have joined me, and I 
have sent them in to see what they can do with 
the praam that is on shore. I have great satis- 
faction in bearing testimony to your lordship, 
of the gallant and steady conduct of the captains, 
commanders, officers, seamen, and marines under 
my orders. Captains Hancock and Mason bore 
the brunt of the attack, and continued it for six 
hours against a great superiority of fire, particu- 
larly from the army on shore, the howitzer shells 
annoying them much. These officers deserve the 
highest praise I can give them. They speak of 
the conduct of their lieutenants, officers, and 
crews, in terms of warm panegyric. Messrs. 
Budd and Dalyell, from the Antelope, acted in 
the absence of two lieutenants of those ships. 
Lieutenants Garrety and Patful, commanding the 
Favourite and Stag cutters, did their best with 
their small guns against greater numbers of 
greater calibre. Lieutenant Hillier, of the An- 
telope, gave me all the assistance and support on 
her quarter-deck his ill state of health would 
permit. Lieutenant Stokes and Mr. Slesser, acting 
lieutenants, directed the fire on the lower and main 
decks with coolness and precision. It would be the 
highest injustice if I omitted to mention the in- 
trepid conduct of Mr. Lewis, the master, Mr. 



Sill SIDNEY SMITH. 325 

Nunn and Mr. Webb, pilots, to whose steadiness, 
skill, and attention, particularly the former, I 
shall ever feel myself indebted for having brought 
the Antelope into action within the sands, where 
certainly the enemy could riot expect to be met 
by a ship of her size ; and for having allowed her 
to continue engaged with Commodore Verheuil, 
to the last minute it was possible to remain in 
such shoal water, with a falling tide. It is but 
justice to say, the enemy's commodore pursued a 
steady course, notwithstanding our fire, and re- 
turned it with spirit to the last. I could not 
detach open boats in the enemy's line, to pick up 
those vessels which had struck and were deserted, 
mixed as they were with those still firing. Cap- 
tain Hancock sent me one schuyt that had hauled 
out of the line and surrendered. She had a lieu- 
tenant and twenty-three soldiers of the forty-eighth 
regiment, with five Dutch seamen, on board. She 
is so useful here, I cannot part with her yet. En- 
closed is a list of our loss, which, though great, 
is less than might have been expected, owing to 
the enemy's directing their fire at our masts. 
The Rattler and Cruiser have, of course, suffered 
most in the latter respect, but are nearly ready 
for service again. The smoke would not allow 
us to see the effect of our shot on the enemy ; 
but their loss, considering the number of them 



326 MEMOIRS OF 

under our guns for so long, must be great in pro- 
portion. We see the mastheads above water of 
three of the schooners and one of the schuyts 
which were sunk. 

" W. SIDNEY SMITH. 
" Lord Keith, K. B. Sfc. frc. fyc" 

In this little skirmish, Sir Sidney's squadron 
sustained a loss of two petty officers, ten seamen, 
and one boy killed ; and two officers, four petty 
officers, twenty-five seamen, and one marine 
wounded. 

This despatch will give the reader a tolerably 
accurate idea of the nature of the warfare that we 
were then compelled to carry on. It was of a 
most harassing nature, attended with great pri- 
vation and suffering, and involving a loss of limb 
and life, that seems no way commensurate to the 
combatants, either in fame or in advantage, even 
when the operations were the most successful. 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH 327 



CHAPTER XXI. 

The Court of Naples violates its treaty of neutrality with the 
French Naples overrun by them Sir Sidney Smith pro- 
ceeds to annoy them Relieves Gaeta Takes Capri His 
despatch. 

AT this momentous period, war was raging in 
almost every quarter of the civilised world ; and 
after Sir Sidney's term of command in the Ante- 
lope had expired, his services were of a nature 
far too valuable to permit them to remain, longer 
than the rules of the navy permitted, uncalled 
for. But his past conduct merited much more 
distinction, and far greater rewards, than it had 
yet received, though, about the beginning of the 
year 1804, he was promoted to the highly ho- 
nourable and somewhat lucrative appointment of 
a Colonel of Royal Marines, and, on the 9th of 
November 1805, was advanced to the rank of 
Rear- Admiral of the Blue. 



328 MEMOIRS OF 

During this interval, as he was not employed 
afloat, we do not find his name mentioned in the 
public records. He was assiduously and success- 
fully cultivating the arts of peace, and laying the 
foundation for that scientific proficiency, for which 
he afterwards became, in many branches of use- 
ful knowledge, so conspicuous. 

The progress of Bonaparte towards universal 
European dominion had now become most alarm- 
ing. He had nearly overrun the continent, and 
had really hardly anything to do but to look 
around him for fresh pretences for aggression, 
and such a pretence the imprudence of the Nea- 
politan government readily afforded him. 

By a treaty ratified by the King of Naples on 
the 8th of October of the year 1805, the French 
troops agreed to withdraw from the occupation 
of the Neapolitan territory ; and the king engaged, 
in return, to remain neutral in the war between 
France and the allies, and to repel by force every 
encroachment on his neutrality. He more par- 
ticularly became bound not to permit the troops 
of any other great power to enter his territories, 
or to confide the command of his armies or 
strong places to any Russian or Austrian officers, 
or to any French emigrant, and not to permit 
any belligerent squadron to enter into his ports. 

Hardly had six weeks elapsed when every one 






Sill SIDNEY SMITH. 329 

of tlie stipulations of the treaty had been violated. 
On the 20th of November, an English and Russian 
fleet appeared in the Bay of Naples, and landed a 
body offerees in that city and the vicinity. The 
French ambassador immediately took down the 
arms of France from over the gate of his hotel, 
and demanded his passport. 

The Russians, who were in number about 
fourteen thousand men, under General Lacey, 
landed at Naples, and the English, amounting to 
about ten thousand, under Sir James Craig and 
Sir John Stuart, landed at Castell-a-Mare. The 
Neapolitans now openly abetted these operations. 

But it was not long before the Court of Naples 
was made sensible of the full extent of its im- 
prudence. On the morning after the signature of 
the peace of Presburg, Bonaparte issued a procla- 
mation from his head-quarters at Vienna, declar- 
ing that " the Neapolitan dynasty had ceased to 
reign," and denouncing vengeance against the 
family, in terms that left no hope for accommoda- 
tion or pardon. 

From reasons only to be discovered in the 
arcana of those who conducted the political opera- 
tions of England, immediately after this denuncia- 
tion of vengeance, the principal cause of it, the 
Russian and English troops, withdrew from 
Naples, and left the King and his advisers in 



330 



MEMOIRS OF 



dismay, to repent of their folly as they best could. 
The immediate consequence of all this was, that 
the King of Naples, with his court, was forced to 
fly a second time to Palermo, whilst Joseph Bo- 
naparte was crowned, in his stead, at Naples, and 
all the constituted authorities took the oath of 
fidelity to him. No sovereign was, perhaps, more 
easily manoauvred out of his kingdom than was 
this unfortunate King of Naples. 

The assumption of the royal dignity in Naples 
by Joseph Bonaparte, and the defection of so 
many persons of distinction, excited the liveliest 
indignation at the court of Palermo. Though 
driven from Naples by their inability to resist 
the French arms, they were eager to attempt 
the recovery of that kingdom, and thus they con- 
tinued to excite the Neapolitans to rebellion 
against their de facto sovereign. 

These attempts only produced defeat and slaugh- 
ter; and though Abruzzo and Calabria were de- 
livered, for a short time, from the French yoke, the 
French prevailed in the end ; and after a fruitless 
waste of blood, and the perpetration of atrocities by 
both parties, disgraceful to humanity, those pro- 
vinces were again compelled to acknowledge 
Joseph Bonaparte as their sovereign. 

Notwithstanding these disasters, a fresh insur- 
rection was decided upon ; but so great was the uni- 



Sill SIDNEY SMITH. 331 

versal dread of the French arms, that the court 
would not have attained its ends, had not an Eng- 
lish army landed on the coast of Calabria, and 
begun its military operations by a most splendid 
and glorious victory. 

It was to forward these operations on an exten- 
sive scale that induced our government to select 
some enterprising officer. The choice naturally 
fell upon Sir Sidney Smith. About the middle of 
April he had arrived at Palermo in the Pompee 
of eighty -four guns, and had taken the command 
of the English squadron destined, among other 
things, for the defence of Sicily, consisting of five 
ships of the line, besides frigates, transports, and 
gunboats. 

With this force at his disposal, the gallant rear- 
admiral proceeded to the coast of Italy, and 
began his operations by introducing into Gaeta 
supplies of stores and ammunition, for the want 
of which its garrison had been greatly straitened. 
This operation produced the very best effects, 
as, through it, the enemy, though the besiegers, 
were immediately compelled to act on the de- 
fensive. 

Having performed this important service, and 
left at Gaeta a flotilla of gunboats, under the 
protection of a frigate to assist at the defence of 
the place, he proceeded to the Bay of Naples, 



332 MEMOIRS OF 

spreading consternation and alarm all along the 
coast, and so much intimidated the French, that 
they, in much haste, conveyed the greater part of 
their battering train from Gaeta to Naples, in 
order to protect the capital from insult, and secure 
it, if possible, from attack. 

By these operations, the rear-admiral thus vir- 
tually raised the siege of Gaeta, as all the batter- 
ing trains were removed from the trenches, and 
the attack was totally suspended. 

It happened that, at the very moment when 
he approached Naples, the city was splendidly 
illuminated, on account of Joseph Bonaparte 
being proclaimed King of the Two Sicilies. 
Indeed, with a fickleness that is much the 
character of the unthinking multitude, there was 
every demonstration of joy evinced on the part of 
the populace, in which the nobility and gentry 
seemed to do more than share. The nobles were 
most eager to show their attachment to their new 
king, by soliciting from him all manner of offices 
and distinctions, at the same time most zealously 
proffering their services. 

It was completely in the power of the English 
admiral to have disturbed these demonstrations of 
festivity, and to turn the place of rejoicing into a 
scene of mourning and desolation ; but, as the 
sufferers from his hostilities must have been the 



Sill SIDNEY SMITH. 333 

inhabitants of Naples, and not the French troops 
or the new king, he wisely and humanely for- 
hore to pour upon the city the devastations of 
war. He considered that the unfortunate in- 
habitants had evil enough already upon them, 
and that the restoration of his capital to the law- 
ful sovereign and its fugitive denizens, would 
be but of little gratification, if it should be found a 
heap of ruins ; and, lastly, that as he had no force 
to land and preserve order, in the event of the 
French retiring to the fortresses, he should leave 
an opulent city a prey to the licentious part of 
the community, who would not fail to profit by 
the confusion that the flames might occasion. 

From the Bay of Naples, the rear-admiral pro- 
ceeded with all despatch to the Island of Capri, 
determined to wrest that place from the enemy, 
which, by its position so effectually preserving 
their southern communications, were of a para- 
mount object to the French to possess. 

The commandant was accordingly summoned 
to surrender, and on his refusal, an attack com- 
menced, in which he was slain. The army then 
beat a parley, a capitulation was subsequently 
signed, and the garrison marched out with all the 
honours of war. 

The following is Sir Sidney Smith's despatch. 



334 MEMOIRS OF 

"Letter from Sir Sidney Smith, dated Pompee, at 
anchor off Scalia, May 24, containing an Ac- 
count of Proceedings in Calabria. 
MY LORD, I arrived at Palermo in the Pompee 
on the 21st of last month, and took on me the 
command of the squadron your lordship has done 
me the honour to place under my orders. I 
found things in the state that may be well ima- 
gined, on the government being displaced 
from its capital, with the loss of one of the 
two kingdoms, and the dispersion of the army 
assembled in Calabria. The judicious arrange- 
ment made by Captain Sotheron, of the ships 
under his orders, and the position of the British 
army under Sir J. Stuart at Messina, had, how- 
ever, prevented farther mischief. I had the satis- 
faction of learning that Gaeta still held out, 
although, as yet, without succour, from a mistaken 
idea, much too prevalent, that the progress of the 
French armies is irresistible. It was my first 
care to see that the necessary supplies should be 
safely conveyed to the governor. I had the in- 
expressible satisfaction of conveying the most 
essential articles to Gaeta, and of communicating 
to his Serene highness the governor (on the 
breach-battery, which he never quits) the as- 
surance of farther support to any extent within 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 335 

my power, for the maintenance of that important 
fortress, hitherto so long preserved by his intre- 
pidity and example. Things wore a new aspect 
on the arrival of the ammunition : the redoubted 
fire of the enemy, with red-hot shot into the Mole, 
(being answered with redoubled vigour,) did not 
prevent the landing of everything we had brought, 
together with four of the Excellent' s lower-deck 
guns, to answer this galling fire, which bore directly 
on the landing-place. A second convoy, with the 
Intrepid, placed the garrison beyond the imme- 
diate want of anything essential ; and the enemy, 
from advancing his nearest approaches within 
two hundred and fifty yards, was reduced to the 
defensive, in a degree dreading one of those sorties 
which the Prince of Hesse had already shown him 
his garrison was equal to, and which was become 
a much safer operation, now that the flanking fire 
of eight Neapolitan gunboats I had brought with 
me, in addition to four his highness had already 
used successfully, would cover it, even to the rear 
of the enemy's trenches. Arrangements were put 
in a train for this purpose ; and, according to a 
wise suggestion of his Serene highness, measures 
were taken for the embarkation of a small party 
from the garrison to land in the rear of the 
enemy's batteries to the northward. I confided 
the execution of the naval part of this arrange- 



336 MEMOIRS OF 

ment to Captain Richardson, of H. M. S. Juno, 
putting the Neapolitan frigate and gunboats 
under his orders. His Serene Highness, possess- 
ing the experience of European warfare, and a 
most firm mind, having no occasion for farther 
aid on the spot, I felt I could quit the garrison 
without apprehension for its safety in such hands, 
with the present means of defence, and that I 
could best co-operate with him by drawing some 
of the attacking force off for the defence of Naples. 
I accordingly proceeded thither with the line of 
battle ships named in the margin.* The enemy's 
apprehension of attack occasioned them to convey 
some of the battering train from the trenches be- 
fore Gaeta to Naples, The city was illuminated 
on account of Joseph Bonaparte proclaiming him- 
self King of the Two Sicilies ! The junction of the 
Eagle made us five sail of the line, and it would 
have been easy for their fire to have interrupted 
this ceremony and show of festivity : but I con- 
sidered that the unfortunate inhabitants had evil 
enough on them ; that the restoration of the 
capital to its lawful sovereign and fugitive in- 
habitants would be no gratification, if it should 
be found a heap of ruins, ashes, and bones ; and 
that as I had no force to land and keep order, in 
case of the French army retiring to the fortresses, 

* Pompee, Excellent, Athenienne, Intrepid. 






SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 337 

I should leave an opulent city a prey to the 
licentious part of the community, who would not 
fail to profit by the confusion the flames would 
occasion : not a gun was fired. 

" But no such consideration operated on my 
mind to prevent me dislodging the French 
garrison from the Island of Capri, which, from its 
situation, protecting the coasting communication 
southward, was a great object for the enemy to 
keep, and by so much, one for me to wrest from 
him. I accordingly summoned the French com- 
mandant to surrender : on his non-acquiescence, 
I directed Captain Rowley, in H. M. S. Eagle, to 
cover the landing of marines and boats' crews, 
and caused an attack to be made under his orders. 
That brave officer placed his ship judiciously ; 
nor did he open his fire till she was secured, and 
his distance marked by the effect of musketry on 
his quarter-deck, where the first lieutenant, J. 
Crawley, fell wounded, and a seaman was killed. 
Although Captain Rowley regretted much the 
services of that meritorious officer in such a criti- 
cal moment, he has since recovered. An hour's 
fire from both decks of the Eagle, (between nine 
and ten o'clock,) with that of two Neapolitan 
mortar-boats under an active officer, Lieutenant 
Rivers, drove the enemy from the vineyards with- 
in their walls; the marines were landed, and 

VOL. i. z 



338 



MEMOIRS OF 



gallantly led by Captain Bunce ; the seamen in 
like manner, under Lieutenant Morrell of the 
Eagle, and Lieutenant Redding of the Pompee, 
mounted the steps : for such was their road, 
headed by the officers, nearest to the narrow pass 
by which alone they could ascend. Lieutenant 
Carrol had thus an opportunity of particularly dis- 
tinguishing himself. Captain Stannus, command- 
ing the Athenienne's marines, gallantly pressing 
forward, gained the heights, and the French 
commandant fell by his hand. This event being 
known, the enemy beat a parley, a letter from the 
second in command claimed the terms offered, 
but being dated on the 12th, after midnight, some 
difficulty occurred, my limitation as to time 
being precise ; but on the assurance that the drum 
beat before twelve, the capitulation annexed was 
signed, and the garrison allowed to march out 
and pass over to Naples with every honour of 
war, after the interment of their former brave com- 
mander with due respect. We thus became 
masters of this important post. The enemy not 
having been allowed time to bring two pieces of 
heavy cannon, with their ammunition, to Capri, 
the boat containing them, together with a boat 
loaded with timber for the construction of gun- 
boats at Castilamare, took refuge at Massa, on 
the main land, opposite to the island, where the 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 339 

guard had hauled the whole upon the beach. I 
detached the two mortar-boats and a Gaeta pri- 
vateer, under the orders of Lieutenants Faliverne 
and Rivera, to bring them off, sending only Mr. 
Williams, midshipman of the Pompee, from the 
squadron, on purpose to let the Neapolitans have 
the credit of the action which they fairly obtained ; 
for, after dislodging the enemy from a strong 
tower, they not only brought off the boats and two 
thirty-five pounders, but the powder also (twenty 
barrels) from the magazine of the tower, before 
the enemy assembled in force. The projected 
sorties took place on the 13th and 15th in the. 
morning, in a manner to reflect the highest 
credit on the part of the garrison and naval force 
employed. The covering fire from the fleet 
was judiciously directed by Captains Richard- 
son and Vicuna, whose conduct on this whole 
service merits my warmest approbation. I en- 
close Captain Richardson's two letters, as best 
detailing these affairs, and a list of the killed and 
wounded on the 12th. 

"On the 19th ult., the boats of the Pompee, 
under Lieutenant Beaucroft, brought out a mer- 
chant vessel from Scalvitra, near Salerno, al- 
though protected by a heavy fire of musketry. 
That officer and Mr. Sterling distinguished them- 
selves much. The enemy are endeavouring to 

z 2 



340 



MEMOIRS OF 



establish a land-carriage there to Naples. On 
the 23rd, obtaining intelligence that the enemy 
had two thirty-six pounders in a small vessel on 
the beach at Sealia, I sent the Pompee's boats in 
for them ; but the French troops were too well 
posted in the houses of the town for them to suc- 
ceed without the cover of the ship. I accordingly 
stood in with the Pompee ; sent a messenger to 
the inhabitants to withdraw ; which being done, 
a few of the Pompee's lower-deck guns cleared 
the town and neighbouring hills, while the 
launch, commanded by Lieutenant Mouraylian, 
.and Lieutenant Gates of the marines, and Mr. 
Williams, drove the French, with their armed 
adherents, from the guns, and took possession of 
the castle, and of them. Finding, on my land- 
ing, that the town was tenable against any force 
the enemy could bring against me from the 
nearest garrison in a given time, I took post with 
the marines ; and, under cover of their position, 
by the extreme exertions of Lieutenant Carrol, 
Mr. Ives, master, and the petty officers and boats' 
crew, the guns were conveyed to the Pompee, with 
twenty-two barrels of powder. 

(Signed) " W. SIDNEY SMITH." 

After placing an English garrison in Capri, Sir 
Sidney proceeded southward along the coast, giv- 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH 341 

ing the greatest annoyance everywhere to the 
enemy, obstructing by land, and intercepting by 
sea entirely, their communications along the shore, 
so as to retard their operations against Gaeta, 
which was the chief purpose of undertaking the 
expedition. 

Encouraged by this success of our arms, several 
sorties took place from out of Gaeta, which we 
have stated Sir Sidney had so opportunely 
relieved. 

All this had, however, but little effect upon 
the fate of the place, as it was enabled to hold out 
only until the 13th of July, and was then com- 
pelled to surrender to the French. 



342 MEMOIRS OF 



CHAPTER XXII. 

Further operations for the recovery of Naples Their inu- 
tility Sir Sidney Smith receives the acknowledgments 
of their Sicilian Majesties Remarks on naval appoint- 
ments. 

ON the return of Sir Sidney Smith to Palermo, 
after the conclusion of this service, and a most 
harassing cruise to the enemy, the active turn 
and the sanguine temper of his mind induced 
him not only to enter into, but also to originate, 
projects that were, from time to time, suggested to 
the court, to second the King of the Sicilies' 
attempts for the recovery of Calabria from the in- 
vaders. Had all others, whose duty it was to 
carry these projects into execution, been actuated 
by half the zeal of Sir Sidney, and had they been 
possessed of enough humility and good sense to 
have followed in matters in which they were not 
qualified to lead, the re-conquest of Calabria 
would not have been long delayed. 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 343 

The eager yet incompetent advisers of the 
King, finding the admiral thus favourably inclined 
towards the furtherance of their schemes, and the 
latter being most anxious to distinguish himself 
by some great exploit, their Sicilian Majesties 
invested him with the most ample authority to 
be exercised in Calabria, and they even went to 
the extent of constituting the British admiral 
their viceroy in that province. 

But there w r ere obstacles that even the energy 
of Sir Sidney Smith could not surmount. Though 
active and indefatigable in the duties of his new 
dignity, and successful in distributing arms and 
ammunition among the Calabrians, and a great 
deal of money among their leaders and influential 
men, he soon discovered, that unless an English 
army made its appearance in the country, there 
was not the remotest chance of producing an in- 
surrection against the French. 

It became, therefore, necessary for the court of 
Palermo either to abandon the fruit of all its in- 
trigues and machinations, or to prevail on the 
commander of the English forces in Sicily to 
invade Calabria with the greatest part of his 
army. In this latter attempt the court succeeded. 

The operations, after this, being strictly and 
almost exclusively military, they do not fall with- 
in our province to record. Of course, the admiral 



344 MEMOIRS OF 

had to attend to the safe and convenient convey- 
ance of the troops to their destination to provide 
for their comfort on board, and their safe debark- 
ation on shore. All this was duly effected, and 
Sir John Stuart, with an army of four thousand 
five hundred effective men, shortly after gained 
that victory, than which one more honourable to 
the combatants, or more glorious to the arms of 
any nation, was never recorded the victory of 
Maida. 

Major-general Sir John Stuart, in his despatch, 
dated, " Camp on the plain of Maida, July 6, 
1806," published in the London Gazette Extra- 
ordinary of September 5, of the same year, states 
as follows : 

" The scene of action was too far from the sea 
to enable us to derive any direct co-operation 
from the navy : but Admiral Sir Sidney Smith, 
who had arrived in the bay the evening before 
the action, had directed such a disposition of 
ships and gun-boats as would have greatly fa- 
voured us, had events obliged us to retire. The 
solicitude, however, of every part of the navy to 
be of use to us, the promptitude with which the 
seamen hastened on shore with our supplies, their 
anxiety to assist our wounded, and the tenderness 
with which they treated them, would have been 
an affecting circumstance to observers, even the 



SIR S1DNLY SMITH. 345 

most indifferent : to me it was particularly 



so." 



This victory led to the desired insurrection, but 
it proved transient and unsuccessful. So sensible 
was Sir John Stuart of his inability to maintain 
the ground he had won in Calabria, that very 
shortly afterwards he withdrew all his forces from 
that country, with the exception of a garrison left 
at Scylla, and a detachment of the seventy-eighth 
regiment, under Colonel M'Leod, which had 
been sent in the Amphion frigate to the coast 
near Catangaro, in order to countenance and 
assist the insurgents in that quarter. 

General Acland was also despatched to the 
Bay of Naples ; and though he was not absolutely 
prohibited from landing his troops, yet was he 
directed not to expose them to that danger, 
unless he had the prospect of effecting some object 
of real and permanent utility. 

During all these operations, Sir Sidney Smith 
was most actively, if not judiciously, employed 
along the coast, assisting the insurgents with 
arms and ammunition, supplying them with pro- 
visions, and conveying them from one place 
to another, in the vessels under his command. 
Though we doubt that all this was a judicious 
acting, yet the manner in which the rear-admiral 
performed it was most judicious and effective. 



346 MEMOIRS OF 

He had nothing to do with the policy of this con- 
duct he had only to see that it was well done 
and well done indeed it was. His name became 
a very terror to the French. 

By these unremitting exertions he contributed 
materially to extend the insurrection along the 
coast, and to expel the enemy from the watch- 
towers and the castles which they occupied upon 
the shore. 

These spirited operations were, in some in- 
stances, of use, by securing a safer and better 
anchorage for his ships ; but in others, we are 
bound to say, and it is with grief we say it, that 
the blood and treasure which they cost far ex- 
ceeded the value of those temporary acquisitions. 

In one of these adventures for many of these 
exploits were more like the adventurous outbreaks 
of knight-errantry than the well-considered enter- 
prises of modern warfare he had in his own 
ship, the Pompee, a lieutenant and eight men 
killed, and thirty-four wounded, in an attack 
upon an insignificant fort on Point Licosa, which 
he destroyed when it fell into his hands. 

It would, of itself, form a volume to detail 
all the services that he performed in this de- 
sultory warfare services that really tended to 
no other result than to teach the seamen the art 
of gunnery, and to inure the ships' crews to the 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 347 

excitement of constant action. Geatawas lost, the 
country became one scene of social disorganisation, 
and rapine and bloodshed prevailed wherever the 
human species congregated. The land was ruined 
and depopulated, whilst every place and post worth 
retaining still remained in the hands of the French. 
While things were in this state, Sir Sidney was 
called away to other duties. 

The poor and despised court of Sicily was as 
grateful to Sir Sidney Smith as the bestowal of 
mere honours could prove them. The ex-vice- 
roy of Calabria received the orders of the 
Grand Cross of St. Ferdinand and of Merit, ac- 
companied by a letter from the then reigning 
Queen, expressive of the regret felt by the royal 
family at his departure, and the utmost gratitude 
for his exertions in their cause. 

The subjoined is a translation of the letter (from 
the French) from the Queen of the two Sicilies to 
Rear- Admiral Sir Sidney Smith, dated Palermo, 
January 25th, 1837, and enclosed in a packet 
that conveyed the order. 

" My very worthy and dear Admiral, 

" I cannot find sufficient expressions to convey 

the painful feeling which your departure (so 

very unforeseen) has caused, both to me and 

among my whole family. I can only tell you 



348 MEMOIRS OF 

that you are accompanied by our most sincere 
good wishes, and, more particularly on my part, 
by gratitude that will only cease with my life, 
for all that you have done for us ; and for what 
you would still have done for us, if everything 
had not thwarted you, and cramped your zeal 
and enterprise. 

"May you be as happy as my heart prays for 
you ! And may you continue, by fresh laurels, 
to augment your own glory and the number of 
the envious. I still cherish the hope of seeing 
you again in better times, and of giving you 
proof of those sentiments which, at the present mo- 
ment, I cannot express ; but you will find, in all 
times and places, (whatever may be the fate 
reserved for us,) our hearts gratefully attached to 
you, even unto the grave. 

" Pray make my sincere compliments to the 
Captain (Dacre) and to all the officers of Le 
Pompee, as well as my good wishes for their 
happiness. Assure them of the pain witli which 
I witness their departure. 

" I am, most truly, for life, 
" Your very sincere and devoted friend, 

" CHARLOTTE." 

We are now going to inflict a digression 
upon the reader, but one intimately connected with 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 349 

the subject-matter of these volumes, and bearing 
individually upon the usefulness and the great 
talent of Sir Sidney Smith. It consists in a consi- 
deration as to the best method of giving merit, and 
merit only, that due preponderance in the naval 
service, so that, when the greatest object is to be 
effected, the very best man should be appointed 
to effect it. 

We need not to be informed that a military 
autocracy, vested in one sole person an autocracy 
of a character so absolute that no one of its acts 
could ever be called in question, would be the 
best principle for making either an army or a 
navy perfect: we mean such a power as Bonaparte so 
advantageously and universally exercised over the 
troops that he commanded. But this power can 
never be used in a free country, and may we never 
see an approximation to it ; therefore, in a mixed 
government like that of the British Empire 
it is a most difficult question to solve, that 
of discovering the most efficacious method of 
rendering all public services the most available for 
the good of those for whom they should be insti- 
tutedthe public. It is but seldom that one 
isolated mistake of a civil servant can produce 
disastrous, perhaps fatal consequences : he has 
only to swim forward, borne quietly down on the 
stream of office, with etiquette for his compass, 



350 MEMOIRS OF 

custom for his helm, and precedent for his chart. 
So be it, for it is well that it is so. 

But in the military, and still more stringently 
in the naval service, one act of incapacity, one 
moment's vacillation, and a ship is lost, a fleet 
destroyed, or the very salvation of a nation en- 
dangered. And how are these men appointed, on 
whom contingencies so awful depend ? Like Crom- 
well's gallant Admiral, we meddle not with poli- 
tics we know it to be our primal duty, a duty 
sacred to good order and dear to humanity, to obey 
the powers that are legally constituted, however 
much we may condemn the policy of those who 
wield it, or despise their persons. We shall, there- 
fore, without reference to this or that adminis- 
tration, fearlessly though briefly discuss a point so 
important in itself, and not irrelevant to our 
subject. 

We freely confess that our hero, Sir Sidney 
Smith, sprang up to his glorious maturity from 
the very hotbed of corruption : but he was of 
a noble stock, and would have flourished in any 
soil. But this hotbed nourishes not only slug- 
gish but poisonous weeds, and, for the sake of 
one Sir Sidney Smith, we are not willing to 
risk the honour and safety of the country to 
troops of such commanders-in-chief, naval or 
military, that one's heart burns to expose. 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 351 

That promotion should take place in the navy 
solely by seniority is ridiculous. The sensible man 
and the fool, the gallant and cool sailor and the 
driveller and dastard, would have then equal 
chances of command, and the country be com- 
pletely at the mercy of accident. Besides, to pro- 
mote by seniority must necessarily throw the chief 
command into the hands of superannuated do- 
tards, or, if these were to be provided for until 
the list showed an active man, the nation would 
be soon burthened with useless pensions, and the 
service made ridiculous by the then almost in- 
terminable multiplying of officers of rank. 
Seniority should have its weight in, but should 
not be the rule of, promotion. Yet as high com- 
mands are now gained by interests decidedly not 
naval, by courtly influences, by weight in parlia- 
ment, by a bias most unjust, because carried to the 
extreme, in favour of the aristocracy, or to serve 
a party purpose, this system is still worse than 
the advancements of mere seniority. We have 
too often seen men in command of squadrons 
and of fleets, to whom we would not have en- 
trusted the conduct of a flock of geese, even had 
they served seven years of apprenticeship to the 
humble but honest employment. 

Well, then, it will be said, let merit determine 
the question. Alas ! who shall decide what me- 



35:2 MEMOIRS OF 

rit is ? It is never the most distinguished offi- 
cer that is the most meritorious, " Palmam ferat 
qui meruit," was a proud, a noble motto, and 
true also, and therefore the more noble. But it 
would be a libel, a gross calumny upon the 
British seamen of Nelson's glorious day, to say, 
though the hero bore the palm, that he the most 
deserved it if mere merit had been the a warder. 

A truly great man, as a naval commander, 
was the justly immortal Nelson. But we say it 
boldly, and we say it proudly, that in the fleet 
there were hundreds of men in every sense im- 
measurably better seamen, more skilful, and quite 
as brave as he the hero whose memory no one 
can more deeply venerate than ourselves. 

But who were they ? It is a vain and an unfair 
question. The individuals cannot be pointed out, 
but they existed notwithstanding. They were 
hedged round by the rank weeds of favouritism 
they were crushed down by the weight of au- 
thority they lacked friends on shore and oppor- 
tunities afloat accident, that was the midwife to 
others, was, to them, the cause of abortions. It is 
ten millions of chances to one, that the single grain 

7 O O 

of gold in the vessel filled with sand shall be the 
uppermost. 

It would then seem that the officers should be 
elected and promoted by the votes of those who 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 353 

best understand, ami are most immediately in- 
terested in their merit. That each ship should be, 
in itself, a floating, independent democracy, for 
certainly the crew of one vessel could not pos- 
sibly be cognisant of the quantity or the quality 
of the talent in another. Already does the pro- 
position begin to appear absurd, even before it is 
fully stated. The free discussion, the soliciting, 
the canvassing, the caballing who would obey 
an irksome order, that knew he must be cajoled 
for his vote by the orderer ? the notion would be 
preposterous ; and yet the crews are the only wit- 
nesses, the only true appreciators of nautical 
merit. As a mass, the seamen of the royal navy 
have ever been, and still are, a rightly-minded 
and shrewd body they best know when their 
ship is well worked, well disciplined, well navi- 
gated, and well fought. 

Another great and insurmountable objection 
exists to the principle of the power of self-election 
to commands being vested in the navy. Valuable, 
nay, beyond all value as is the service, still, it 
must be a service a subordinate body to defend, 
and neither to intimidate nor control the na- 
tion for whose good it was created. Directly that 
they were made an independent body, relying 
upon themselves for promotion, and all the good 

VOL. i. A A 



354 MEMOIRS OF 

tilings the service has to bestow, they would soon 
cease to be a service, for they would no longer be 
subservient. It may be said, that there is al- 
ways a check upon this fear of a naval usurpation, 
because the body of the people would cease to 
pay or to victual them, and thus, in a very short 
time, they must necessarily be subjugated. 

But this reasoning would not hold good. 
Every one must perceive that, if the navy were to 
become a body distinct from and independent of 
the community, the army must become so too. 
The army, if the paramount power as a military 
despotism can always pay and victual itself 
from the resources of a prostrate country, and, 
in order to secure its power, it would imme- 
diately extend the privilege to the brother ser- 
vice, the navy. 

Self-election must be vested in the members of 
neither the army nor the navy, if the liberties and 
the well-being of the community are to be pre- 
served* 

It then appears that those appointed by the 
forms of the country must still wield its naval 
and military powers keep them under control 
command them despotically and distribute among 
their members all the prizes worth contending 
for. But, as yet, they have ever done, and must 
still do this, in comparative darkness and igno- 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 355 

ranee a darkness and an ignorance that afford 
them the apology for the disgusting exercise 
of a patronage, that we boldly affirm is fast un- 
dermining the best interests of the navy. The 
high officials at home cannot tell who really the 
most deserve promotion, and thus, that promotion 
is bestowed, but too, too often on those who do not 
deserve it at all. 

Now, these men in high places should no 
longer be permitted to shelter their gross and 
nefarious partialities under the plea of ignorance. 
The light should be brought to their very faces 
in spite of themselves, and then, if they wilfully 
and wickedly close their eyes against it, the 
country at large would know how properly to 
appreciate them. 

To effect this, every ship's company, officers 
included, at stated intervals, should be called upon, 
as a duty, to recommend the most deserving 
among them as fit objects for promotion ; at 
the same time it should be fully understood, 
that it was not to be looked upon as a rule that 
actual promotion should follow such nomination : 
the names of those persons thus virtuously dis- 
tinguished should be published duly in the 
Gazette. This alone would be a great check upon 
unfair private patronage. 

A A 2 



356 MEMOIRS OF 

We well know that a system of secretly report- 
ing to the Admiralty, by the captain of each 
vessel, has long existed ; we also know,, that 
such reports are but seldom acted upon excepting 
the reporter have other influence, not connected 
with his official station. We are glad of this ; 
for what is this reporting but nursing in the 
mind of the captain all bad tendencies, pander- 
ing to his spirit of favouritism, of pique, of re- 
venge : he becomes, in reality, nothing better 
than a dignified spy we will allow that the 
majority exercise this function with discrimina- 
tion and impartiality we sincerely believe that 
they do ; but the mischief that the few evil-dis- 
posed among them may cause, by far outbalances 
the very uncertain good. 

That accident, that seniority, and that blind 
patronage, have promoted admirals to important 
and extensive commands, is but too disgracefully 
true in the annals of our naval history. W r e 
have ourselves served under men at once tyran- 
nical, brutal, and fatuous animals of such 
limited intelligence, that we would not have en- 
trusted to them the most insignificant com- 
mand ; we have seen such men manoeuvring 
fleets, with the safety and welfare of thousands 
at their disposal ; and, still more revolting, witli 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 357 

the power of life and death in their hands. We 
will mention no names, but only refer to those 
commanders-in-chief, who once were a by- word 
and a mockery in the navy, of whom the most 
ridiculous stories were continually told, and who 
were really so stolid, that no story, however ridi- 
culous, was too absurd to admit them as its 
heroes. 

We deny not that even victories have been 
gained under the names of these men, and well- 
written despatches have given a false impression 
to their countrymen of their worth and of their 
services. But if so much have been achieved 
under such imbecility, how much more would 
have been performed under men of activity and 
talent, and who had been recommended by 
those who knew them, to their respective com- 
mands, before they had been promoted to 
them. 

We do not mean that this power of recom- 
mendation should be anything but a limited one. 
The navy must be under the control of the high 
civil authorities ; it should be taught obedience 
to the constituted powers, and patriotism and loy- 
alty impressed upon it to the utmost. We know 
all this, so much to be desired, might be fully 
attained, although the navy should be permitted 
at intervals, but not frequently, to name those 



358 MEMOIRS OF 

of its own body who deserve well of their coun- 
try, and upon whom promotion, if bestowed, 
would be bestowed worthily. 

In resuming the course of our narrative, we 
think that it will be acknowledged, that, notwith- 
standing the great merit, and the enlightened 
bravery of the commander-in-chief, to whom the 
expedition against Constantinople was entrusted, 
had the conduct of it fallen to the lot of 
Sir Sidney, or the wish of the fleet been con- 
sulted, other and more brilliant results would 
have attended the British arms. We say this 
hesitatingly, for who can safely speculate upon 
mere probabilities ? But we speak more decidedly 
when we say, that had it been demanded who, 
of all naval officers then fit for service, was the 
very best to have had the sole direction of this 
nice experiment upon the Turks, common sense 
would have replied " our officer," and the ap- 
plause of the navy would have been the echo to 
the sentence. That we are not singular in our 
opinion, we quote the following extract from a 
publication cotemporary with the proceed- 
ings. 

" As impartial observers, it seems to us that 
there were several circumstances which ought to 
have pointed out Sir Sidney Smith as the most 
proper officer that could be selected for the con- 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 359 

duct of an expedition against Constantinople. 
His local knowledge of the country, it is thought, 
might have been an object of some consideration: 
he spoke the language ; he had proved himself 
the saviour of the Ottoman empire, at St. John 
of Acre ; and he had been accredited as a joint 
minister plenipotentiary to the then reigning 
sultan, Selim III. Yet, palpably absurd as it 
must appear, he was taken from the active station 
of Sicily, where he commanded, and placed, not 
first, nor SECOND, but THIRD " in command of 
an expedition, of which he alone was competent 
to be the commander-in-chief ! and, as an aggra- 
vation of this absurdity, when on the spot, he was 
not employed in the only diplomatic part of the 
proceedings which Sir John Duckworth entrusted 
out of his own hands ! At the very time that the 
commander-in-chief was complimenting Sir 
Sidney Smith, Sir Thomas Louis was officiating 
as his deputed diplomatic agent ! " 

Let us again repeat, that we mean nothing- 
invidious against Sir John Duckworth ; his 
name stands deservedly high in the naval records 
of his country ; more than one splendid victory 
have been gained under his flag, and the navy 
are indebted to him for many very facetious 
stories. Having thus done him all the justice 



36*0 MEMOIRS OF 

that his warmest admirers can demand, we may 
be permitted to say, that he was not the best 
commander who could have been selected cun- 
ningly to display a force that he was not to 
employ, but under extremities, against a power 
in possession of much greater force, and possess- 
ing infinitely more cunning than himself. 

On this delicate and very important subject 
we have been favoured with the enlightened and 
highly honourable opinion of Captain Montagu 
Montagu, who served under Sir John, as flag- 
lieutenant, in the memorable expedition which we 
are about to relate. We had candidly submitted 
our idea to the Captain, that Sir Sidney Smith 
would have been, for that particular service, a 
more efficient commander. Captain Montagu's 
reply was as follows : 

u History is stern, she deals alone in facts, and 
makes no compromise with actions, as her busi- 
ness is above all truth. But, at the same time, 
she also estimates motives, as far as they can 
fairly be traced, and still more circumstances, 
which are, in fact, the deponing witnesses of that 
to which general reasoning is but the presumptive 
evidence. A Chief, and he alone, has upon him 
the responsibility of command, and which is not 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 361 

of a simple but very compound nature, in the 
discriminating obedience he owes to his orders, 
the reference to public opinion not that of the 
vulgar, and lastly regard to his own conscience, 
which, to one of a mind suitable to his station, 
is most serious an immense charge ; consider- 
ing that, in naval warfare, besides the ships' com- 
panies numerous invaluable lives, the supremacy 
as well as the honour of his country's flag, are all 
confided to his care. 

" No one who has not been invested with 
command can sufficiently estimate its weight ; 
and I will say more, that none can judge of the 
just line of conduct to be pursued in any specific 
case but he who has to decide upon it. Others, 
feeling their own powers, might perhaps fancy 
they would have done more than those who may 
be thought to have done too little, who, if in their 
place, would have found that more was not to be 
done. And, as for those who know not the se- 
riousness of that responsibility, and still less 
juniors and subordinates, who have to fear neither 
condemnation censure nor self-reproach, with 
whom, naturally, every advance is a triumph 
and miscarriage is only ' the fortune of war,' 
little store will be set on their opinions by those 
who have passed the age of first hope, who have 



362 MEMOIRS OF 

added reflection to experience, and above all- 
who are not interested in the decision. 

" That Sir Sidney would have * dared all that 
may become a man/ nobody will for a moment 
doubt. That he may have imagined that he 
might have accomplished more, is also possible ; 
but even he cannot say he would have done so. 
It is not unlikely, that, certainly better acquainted 
as he was with the character of the Turks than 
Sir John Duckworth, and both more sanguine 
and more adventurous, he would, in negociating 
with them, have used more of both cajolery and 
menace: he would have glittered brightlier, and 
have frowned more darkly : but it may be alto- 
gether doubted, whether this would have been one 
whit more successful than the dignified severity 
of his older chief ; for it would not have been 
backed by one gun more, nor would all his skill, 
suavity, and determination have drawn one 
breath more wind to bring the British broadsides 
to bear on the Seven Towers. 

" So long as circumstances prevented the 
Squadron from acting, and every hour made that 
acting less to be feared from the preparations 
making to resist it, the Turks were not to be 
hectored into submission ; and Izaac Bey (whom 
I well remember) with all his long beard and his 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 363 

Mussulman impassibility, was, at short-handed 
diplomacy, a match for the most wily Euro- 
pean. 

" This was the second time that Sir John Duck- 
worth had been placed in these most trying and 
cruel circumstances ; the first, two years before, 
in the presence of a French squadron ; of appear- 
ing to decline an encounter with the enemy. But, 
in both, I am persuaded that Time, the great 
truth-teller and retributor though often a sadly 
slow one, has done him ample justice ; and re- 
echoed the voice of his own conscience, the 
noblest approver of a good man, as he was, who 
submitted to obloquy for doing what he felt to 
be right, where less scrupulous or reflecting 
men would have hazarded all for the gratifica- 
tion of their own personal vanity for an ap- 
plause that is seldom refused to an Englishman 
who fights, though with an utter disregard to 
the real interests of his Country. 

" From what I have said, then, you may infer 
my opinion on the subject ; though, even if it were 
different, and I could incline to your view, you 
could not expect me to alter it, attached as I was 
to the good and brave man, whose conduct on 
this important occasion it goes to call in ques- 
tion. My conscientious persuasion my convic- 
tion is altogether in his favour and against your 



364 MEMOIRS OF 

conclusion ; as, I firmly believe, was that of all 
the senior officers of the squadron. 

" I must, then, leave you altogether to your- 
self in this matter ; merely suggesting the danger, 
in all cases of this sort, of an over though na- 
tural, as scarcely avoidable partiality for one's 
hero. 

" As minutes of evidence are always of use, 
though those of a log-book or a ship's journal, 
from their cut and dry record of facts, are not 
very amusing, I send you a copy of the flagship's 
log for the time actually engaged, that is from 
our appearing before to after repassing the Dar- 
danelles," &c. &c. 

The gallant officer thus concludes : 

" I will only add, that, with the exception of 
the greatly calamitous Walcheren expedition, 
this to Constantinople was the most crudely 
planned rash and insufficient, that to use the 
term ever left the British shores ; and that, as it 
was, its escape from destruction was next to 
miraculous." 

We are now about to narrate the expedition, 
and, if we still feel induced to suppose that it 
would better have prospered under the control 
of Sir Sidney Smith, we think so, solely because 
he had more accidental advantages for its happy 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 365 

accomplishment than Sir John Thomas Duck- 
worth. 

But before we proceed to it, we must devote 
one chapter to some very important affairs that 
were transacting in England at the time, and 
which materially affected the character of our 
officer. 



366 MEMOIRS OF 



CHAPTER XXIII. 



The Princess of Wales's vindication against the charges 
affecting her and Sir Sidney Smith. 



WHILE Sir Sidney Smith was thus actively and 
usefully employed in the service of his country 
abroad, men's minds were put almost into an uni- 
versal agitation by a most delicate investigation 
at home, an investigation that deeply implicated 
the honour of the future Queen of England, toge- 
ther with that of many persons of high character, 
some of whom had made the nation their debtors 
by the value of their official exertions, and, among 
these, we are sorry to say, that our hero stood 
prominently forward. 

It was the natural consequences of Sir Sidney's 
brilliant achievements, and his position in society, 
to be much sought for, and greatly admired. 



SIR SIDNF.Y SMITH. 367 

To these advantages he added a graceful vivacity 
of manner, tinctured, at times, with an eccen- 
tricity as engaging as it was original. These 
physical advantages, and the fluency of his con- 
versation, replete with anecdote, made him a 
dangerous man in female society, to which, we 
are bound to state, he was always most chi- 
valrously partial. 

His high connexions, and his deserved repu- 
tation, at length brought him within the circle 
over which Caroline Princess of Wales presided 
with so much imprudence and good-heartedness. 
His conduct, at that period, will ever be in- 
volved in an impenetrable darkness a darkness 
made the more deep and inscrutable by the 
solemn and yet ridiculous attempts of commis- 
sioners and privy counsellors to dispel it. We 
have carefully perused and reperused all the de- 
positions sworn to as affecting the continence of 
that unfortunate Princess, during her residence 
on Blackheath, and the only safe conclusion 
at which we can arrive is, that the laxity of 
morals, and the licentiousness of the manners of 
almost all concerned in that investigation, make 
us feel shame for the conduct, with but a few 
exceptions, for all the parties concerned. 

Whether the attractions of Sir Sidney Smith, 
were only incitements to, or actually the cause of 



368 MEMOIRS OF 

criminality with the Princess, he now only knows. 
That he was much in her society, that his conver- 
sation amused and his attentions pleased this 
unfortunate woman, cannot be doubted. It is 
also no less certain that he was discovered in her 
company at times, and in situations, that neither 
befitted her rank, nor his position as a future 
subject to the heir apparent. 

This intercourse, of whatever nature it might 
have been, continued with unabated strictness for 
several months. To render it the more uninter- 
rupted, Sir Sidney went and partly resided witli 
his old companion in arms, Sir John Douglas, the 
huband of that Lady Douglas who, throughout 
these transactions, procured for herself an unenvi- 
able notoriety. 

Having thus made himself conveniently proxi- 
mate to the Princess, he was seen for weeks daily 
in her society ; and being thus unguarded in his 
conduct, he gave too much scope for the voice of 
scandal to breathe guilt upon the fame of a per- 
son, already too much open to suspicion, and, as 
moralists, we are bound to say, to leave a stain 
of no very light dye upon his own. 

We wish to tread lightly upon the ashes of the 
dead, who, when living, we think was hardly 
dealt with. We shall, therefore, not go into 
details of the evidence which imputed criminality 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 36(J 

to our officer, but merely state that, first, a cold- 
ness, and then a quarrel, having occurred between 
him and the object of his attentions, he shortly 
after forsook her society altogether, and was soon 
after found most actively employed in that scene 
so natural to his genius, and so conducive to his 
own fame and his country's glory. 

The following is a description of Sir Sidney's 
appearance at the time of his acquaintance with 
the princess, to whom the world so generally 
gave him as a favoured lover. He had an air 
of general smartness, and was extremely gentle- 
manly in his deportment. He had a good-hu- 
moured, agreeable manner with him, with a cer- 
tain dash and turn of chivalry that was very 
taking with the ladies. We are not using our 
own words, but the very expressive ones of a 
good judge upon these matters. 

He used then to wear mustachios; they were 
not then vulgarised, as now ; which fashion he had 
adopted when so much associated with the Turks. 
He was about the middle height, rather under 
than over, and of slender construction, which 
much helped his activity. He was generally 
very showily dressed, perhaps with some singu- 
larity ; but there was not a particle of cox- 
combry about him. In features, he something re- 
sembled Bernadotte, though with not so promi- 

VOL. I. B B 



370 MEMOIRS OF 

nent a facial angle. The countenance of Southey 
the poet still more closely resembled that of Sir 
Sidney Smith, when both were in their younger 
days. 

The following is the best means in our posses- 
sion of vindicating Sir Sidney Smith's character, 
being an extract from the letter dated 2d of Octo- 
ber, 1806, that the Princess of Wales sent to 
his Majesty George the Third. 

" And I will begin with those which respect 
Sir Sidney Smith, as he is the person first men- 
tioned in the deposition of W. Cole, 

" W. Cole says, " that Sir Sidney Smith first 
visited at Montague-house in 1802 ; that he ob- 
served that the princess was too familiar with Sir 
Sidney Smith. One day, he thinks in February, 
he (Cole) carried into the blue room to the 
princess some sandwiches which she had ordered, 
and was surprised to see that Sir Sidney was 
there. He must have come in from the park. 
If he had been let in from Blackheath he must 
have passed through the room in which he 
(Cole) was waiting. When he had left the sand- 
wiches, he returned, after some time, into the 
room, and Sir Sidney Smith was sitting very 
close to the princess on the sofa : he (Cole) 
looked at her Royal Highness ; she caught his 
ey^e, and saw that he noticed the manner in 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 371 

which they were sitting together ; they appeared 
both a little confused." 

" R. Bidgood says also, in his deposition on 
the 6th of June, (for he was examined twice,) 
" that it was early in 1802 that he first observed 
Sir Sidney Smith come to Montague-house. He 
used to stay very late at night ; he had seen him 
early in the morning there ; about ten or eleven 
o'clock. He was at Sir John Douglas's, and 
was in the habit, as well as Sir John and Lady 
Douglas, of dining, or having luncheon, or sup- 
ping there every day. He saw Sir Sidney Smith 
one day in 1802 in the blue room, about eleven 
o'clock in the morning, which was full two hours 
before they expected ever to see company. He 
asked the servants why they did not let him 
know Sir Sidney Smith was there ; the footmen 
told him that they had let no person in. There 
was a private door to the park, by which he 
might have come in if he had a key to it, and 
have got into the blue room without any of the 
servants perceiving him. And in his second de- 
position, taken on the 3d of July, he says he 
lived at Montague-house when Sir Sidney came. 
Her (the princess) manner with him appeared 
very familiar ; she appeared very attentive to 
him, but he did not suspect anything further. 
Mrs. Lisle says, that the princess at one time ap- 

B B 2 



372 MEMOIRS OF 

peared to like Sir John and Lady Douglas. 
' I have seen Sir Sidney Smith there very late 
in the evening, but not alone with the princess. 
I have no reason to suspect he had a key of the 
park-gate; I never heard of anybody being 
found wandering about at Blackheath.' 

" Fanny Lloyd does not mention Sir Sidney 
Smith in her deposition. 

" Upon the whole of this evidence then, which 
is the whole that respects Sir Sidney Smith, in 
any of these depositions, (except some particular 
passages in Cole's evidence, which are so import- 
ant as to require very particular and distinct 
statement,) I would request your Majesty to 
understand, that, with respect to the fact of Sir 
Sidney Smith's visiting frequently at Montague- 
house, both with Sir John and Lady Douglas, 
and without them ; with respect to his being 
frequently there at luncheon, dinner, and supper, 
and staying with the rest of the company till 
twelve, one o'clock, or even sometimes later, 
if these are some of the facts e which must give 
occasion to unfavourable interpretations, and 
must be credited till they are contradicted,' 
they are facts which I never can contradict, for 
they are perfectly true. And I trust it will im- 
ply the confession of no guilt, to admit that Sir 
Sidney Smith's conversation, his account of the 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 373 

various and extraordinary events, and heroic 
achievements in which he had been concerned, 
amused and interested me ; and the circumstance 
of his living so much with his friends, Sir John 
and Lady Douglas, in my neighbourhood on 
Blackheath, gave the opportunity of his increas- 
ing his acquaintance with me. 

" It happened also that about this time I fitted 
up, as your Majesty may have observed, one of 
the rooms in my house after the fashion of a 
Turkish tent. Sir Sidney furnished me with a 
pattern for it, in a drawing of the tent of Murat 
Bey, which he had brought over with him from 
Egypt. And he taught him how to draw Egyp- 
tian arabesques, which were necessary for the 
ornaments of the ceiling : this may have occa- 
sioned, while that room was fitting up, several 
visits, and possibly some, though I do not recol- 
lect them, as early in the morning as Mr. Bid- 
good mentions. I believe also, that it has hap- 
pened more than once, that walking with my 
ladies in the park, we have met Sir Sidney 
Smith, and that he has come in with us through 
the gate from the park. My ladies may have 
gone up to take off their cloaks, or to dress, and 
have left me alone with him rand, at some one 
of these times, it may very possibly have hap- 
pened that Mr. Cole and Mr. Bidgood may have 



374 MEMOIRS OF 

seen him, when he has not come through the 
waiting-room, nor been let in by any of the foot- 
men. But I solemnly declare to your Majesty, 
that I have not the least idea or belief that he 
ever had a key of the gate into the park, or that 
he ever entered in or passed out at that gate, 
except in company with myself and my ladies. 
As for the circumstance of my permitting him to 
be in the room alone with me ; if suffering a man 
to be so alone is evidence of guilt from whence 
the commissioners can draw any unfavourable 
inference, I must leave them to draw it, for I 
cannot deny that it has happened, and happened 
frequently ; not only with Sir Sidney Smith, but 
with many, many others ; gentlemen who have 
visited me ; tradesmen who have come to receive 
my orders ; masters whom I have had to instruct 
me in painting, in music, in English, &c., that 
I have received them without any one being by. 
In short, I trust I am not confessing a crime, for 
unquestionably it is a truth, that I never had an 
idea that there was anything wrong or objection- 
able in thus seeing men in the morning, and I 
confidently believe your Majesty will see nothing 
in it from which any guilt can be inferred. I 
feel certain that there is nothing immoral in the 
thing itself; and I have always understood that 
it was perfectly customary and usual for ladies of 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 375 

the first rank and the first character in the 
country, to receive the visits of gentlemen in a 
morning, though they might be themselves alone 
at the time. But if, in the opinions and fashions 
of this country, there should be more impropriety 
ascribed to it than what it ever entered into my 
mind to conceive, I hope your Majesty, and every 
candid mind, will make allowance for the differ- 
ent notions which my foreign education and 
foreign habits may have given me. 

" But whatever character may belong to this 
practice, it is not a practice which commenced 
after my leaving Carlton-house. While there, 
and from my first arrival in this country, I was 
accustomed, with the knowledge of his Royal 
Highness the Prince of Wales, and without his 
ever having hinted to me the slightest disappro- 
bation, to receive lessons from various masters, 
for my amusement and improvement ; I was 
attended by them frequently from twelve o'clock 
till five in the afternoon ; Mr. Atwood for mu- 
sic, Mr. Geffadiere for English, Mr. Tourfronelli 
for painting, Mr. Tutoye for imitating marble, 
Mr. Elwes for the harp. I saw them all alone ; 
and, indeed, if I were to see them at all, I could 
do no otherwise than see them alone. Miss 
Garth, who was then sub-governess to my daugh- 
ter, lived certainly under the same roof with me, 



376 MEMOIRS OF 

but she could not be spared from her duty and 
attendance on my daughter. I desired her some- 
times to come down stairs, and read to me, dur- 
ing the time when I drew or painted, but my 
Lord Cholmondeley informed me this could not 
be. I then requested that I might have one of 
my bed-chamber women to live constantly at 
Carlton-house, that I might have her at call 
whenever I wanted her ; but I was answered that 
it was not customary that the attendants of the 
royal family should live with them in town ; so 
that request could not be complied with. But, 
independent of this, I never conceived that it was 
offensive to the fashions and manners of the 
country to receive gentlemen who might call 
upon me in a morning, whether I had or had 
not any one with me ; and it never occurred to 
me to think that there was either impropriety 
or indecorum in it, at that time, nor in con- 
tinuing the practice at Montague-house. But 
this has been confined to morning visits, in no 
private apartments in my house, but in my 
drawing-room, where my ladies have at all times 
free access, and as they usually take their lun- 
cheon with me, except when they are engaged 
with visiters or pursuits of their own, it could 
but rarely occur that I could be left with any 
gentleman alone for any length of time, unless 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 377 

there were something, in the known and avowed 
business, which might occasion his waiting upon 
me, that would fully account for the circum- 
stance. 

" I trust your Majesty will excuse the length 
at which I have dwelt upon this topic. I per- 
ceived, from the examinations, that it had been 
much inquired after, and I felt it necessary to re- 
present it in its true light. And the candour of 
your Majesty's mind will, I am confident, sug- 
gest that those who are the least conscious of 
intending guilt are the least suspicious of having 
it imputed to them : and therefore that they do 
not think it necessary to guard themselves at 
every turn, with witnesses to prove their inno- 
cence, fancying their character to be safe as long 
as their conduct is innocent, and that guilt will 
not be imputed to them from actions quite dif- 
ferent. 

" The deposition, however, of Mr. Cole, is not 
confined to my being alone with Sir Sidney Smith. 
The circumstance in which he observed us to- 
gether he particularises, and states his opinion. 
He introduces, indeed, the whole of the evidence 
by saying, that I was too familiar with Sir Sidney 
Smith ; but as I trust I am not yet so far degraded 
as to have my character decided by the opinion of 
Mr. Cole, I shall not comment upon that observa- 



378 MEMOIRS OF 

tion. He then proceeds to describe the scene 
which he observed on the day when he brought in 
the sandwiches, which I trust your Majesty did 
not fail to notice, I had myself ordered to be brought 
in. For there is an obvious insinuation that Sir 
Sidney must have come in through the park, and 
that there was great impropriety in his being alone 
with me. And at least the witness's own story 
proves, whatever impropriety there might be in 
this circumstance, that I was not conscious of it, 
nor meant to take advantage of his clandestine 
entry from the park, to conceal the fact from my 
servant's observation. For if I had had such con- 
sciousness, or such meaning, I never could have 
ordered sandwiches to have been brought in, or 
any other act to have been done which must have 
brought myself under the notice of my servants, 
while I continued in a situation which I thought 
improper and wished to conceal. Any of the cir- 
cumstances of this visit, to which this part of the 
deposition refers, my memory does not enable ine 
in the least degree to particularise and recal. Mr. 
Cole may have seen me sitting on the same sofa 
with Sir Sidney Smith. Nay, I have no doubt he 
must have seen me over and over again, not only 
with Sir Sidney Smith, but with other gentlemen, 
sitting upon the same sofa ; and I trust your Ma- 
jesty will feel it the hardest thing imaginable, that 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 379 

I should be called upon to account what corner of 
a sofa I sat upon four years ago, and how close Sir 
Sidney Smith was sitting to me. I can only so- 
lemnly aver to your Majesty, that my conscience 
supplies me with the fullest means of confidently 
assuring you, that I never permitted Sir Sidney 
Smith to sit on any sofa with me in any manner, 
which in my own judgment was in the slightest 
degree offensive to the strictest propriety and de- 
corum. In the judgment of many persons, per- 
haps, a Princess of Wales should at no time 
forget the elevation of her rank, or descend in 
any degree to the familiarities and intimacies of 
private life. Under any circumstances, this 
would be a hard condition to be annexed to her 
situation. Under the circumstances, in which it 
has been my misfortune to have lost the neces- 
sary support to the dignity and station of a Prin- 
cess of Wales, to have assumed and maintained 
an unbending dignity would have been impos- 
sible, and, if possible, could hardly have been 
expected from me. 

" After these observations, sire, I must now re- 
quest your Majesty's attention to those written de- 
clarations which are mentioned in the report, and 
which I shall never be able sufficiently to thank 
your Majesty for having condescended, in compli- 
ance with my earnest request, to order to be trans- 



380 MEMOIRS OF 

mitted to me. From observations upon these 
declarations themselves, as well as upon comparing 
them with the depositions made before the com- 
missioners, your Majesty will see the strongest 
reason for discrediting the testimony of W. Cole, 
as well as others of these witnesses, whose credit 
stands, in the opinion of the commissioners, so un- 
impeachable. They supply important observations, 
even with respect to that part of Mr. Cole's evi- 
dence which I am now considering, though in no 
degree equal in importance to those which I shall 
afterwards have occasion to notice. 

" Your Majesty will please to observe, that there 
are no less than four different examinations or de- 
clarations of Mr. Cole. They are dated on the 
llth, 14th, and 30th of January, and on 23rd of 
February. In these four different declarations he 
twice mentions the circumstances of finding Sir 
Sidney Smith and myself on the sofa, and he men- 
tions it not only in a different manner, at each of 
these times, but at both of them in a manner which 
materially differs from his deposition before the 
commissioners. In his declaration on the llth of 
January, he says, that he found us in so familiar 
a posture, as to alarm him very much, which he 
expressed by a start back and a look at the 
gentleman. 

" In that dated on 23rd of February, however, 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 381 

(being asked, I suppose as to that which he had 
dared to assert, of the familiar posture which had 
alarmed him so much,) he says, ' there was nothing 
particular in our dress, position of legs or arms, 
that was extraordinary ; he thought it improper 
that a single gentleman should be sitting quite 
close to a married lady on the sofa, and from that 
situation, and former observations^ he thought the 
thing improper. In the second account, therefore, 
your Majesty perceives he was obliged to bring in 
his former observation to help out the statement, 
in order to account for his having been so shocked 
with what he saw, as to express his alarm by 'start- 
ing back/ But unfortunately he accounts for it, 
as it seems to me at least, by the very circumstance 
which would have induced him to have been less 
surprised, and consequently less startled by what 
he saw ; for had his former observations been such 
as he insinuates, he would have been prepared the 
more to expect, and the less to be surprised at, 
what he pretends to have seen. 

" But your Majesty will observe, that in his 
deposition before the commissioners, (recollecting, 
perhaps, how awkwardly he had accounted for his 
starting in his former declaration,) he drops his 
starting altogether. Instead of looking at the 
gentleman only, he looked at us both ; that I caught 
his eye, and saw that he noticed the manner in 



382 MEMOIRS OF 

which we were sitting, and instead of his own 
starting, or any description of the manner in which 
he exhibited his own feelings, we are represented 
as both appearing a little confused. Our confusion 
is a circumstance', which, during his four declara- 
tions, which he made before the appointment of 
the commissioners, it never once occurred to him 
to recollect. And now he does recollect it, we ap- 
peared, he says, ' a little confused.' A little con- 
fused ! The Princess of Wales detected in a 
situation such as to shock and alarm her servant, 
and so detected as to be sensible of her detection, 
and so conscious of the impropriety of the situa- 
tion as to exhibit symptoms of confusion ; would 
not her confusion have been extreme ? would it 
have been so little as to have slipped the memory 
of the witness who observed it, during his first 
four declarations, and at last to be recalled to his 
recollection in such a manner as to be repre- 
sented in the faint and feeble way in which he 
here describes it. 

" What weight your Majesty will ascribe to 
these differences in the accounts given by this 
witness, I cannot pretend to say. But I am 
ready to confess that, probably, if there was no- 
thing stronger of the same kind to be observed in 
other parts of his testimony, the inference which 
would be drawn from them would depend very 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 383 

much upon the opinion previously entertained of 
the witness. To me, who know many parts of 
his testimony to be absolutely false, and all the 
colouring given to it to be wholly from his own 
wicked and malicious invention, it appears plain, 
that these differences in his representations are 
the unsteady, awkward shuffles and prevarications 
of falsehood. To those, if there are any such, 
who from preconceived prejudices in his favour, 
or from any other circumstances, think that his 
veracity is free from all suspicion, satisfactory 
means of reconciling them may possibly occur. 
But before I have left Mr. Cole's examinations, 
your Majesty will find that they will have much 
more to account for, and much more to reconcile. 
" Mr. Cole's examination before the commis- 
sioners goes on thus : ' A short time before this, 
one night about twelve o'clock, I saw a man go 
into the house from the park, wrapt up in a great- 
coat. I did not give any alarm, for the impres- 
sion on my mind was, that it was not a thief.' 
When I read this passage, sire, I could hardly 
believe my eyes ; when I found such a fact left 
in this dark state, without any farther explana- 
tion, or without a trace, in the examination, of 
any attempt to get it further explained. How he 
got this impression on his mind, that this was not 
a thief? whom he believed it to be ? what part of 



384 MEMOIRS OF 

the house he saw him enter? if the drawing- 
room, or any part which I usually occupy, who 
was there at the time ? whether I was there ? 
whether alone or with my ladies ? or with other 
company ? whether he told anybody of the circum- 
stance at the time ? or how long after ? whom he 
told ? whether any inquiries were made in conse- 
quence ? these, and a thousand other questions, 
with a view to have penetrated into the mystery 
of this strange story, and to have tried the credit 
of this witness, would, I should have thought, 
have occurred to any one; but certainly must 
have occurred to persons so experienced and so 
able in the examination of facts, and the trying 
of the credit of witnesses, as the two learned lords 
unquestionably are, whom your Majesty took 
care to have introduced into this commission. 
They never could have permitted these unex- 
plained, and unsifted hints and insinuations to 
have had the weight and effect of proof. But, 
unfortunately for me, the duties, probably of their 
respective situations, prevented their attendance 
on the examination of this, and on the first ex- 
amination of another most important witness, Mr. 
Robert Bidgood and surely your Majesty will 
permit me here, without offence, to complain that 
it is not a little hard, that, when your Majesty 
had shown your anxiety to have legal accuracy, 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 385 

and legal experience assist on this examination, 
the two most important witnesses, in whose ex- 
aminations there is more matter for unfavourable 
interpretation than in all the rest put together, 
should have been examined without the benefit 
of this accuracy, and this experience. And I am 
the better justified in making this observation, 
if what has been suggested to me is correct 
that if it shall not be allowed that the power of 
administering an oath under this warrant or 
commission is questionable, yet it can hardly be 
doubted that it is most questionable, whether, 
according to the terms or meaning of the warrant 
or commission, as it constitutes no quorum, 
Lord Spencer and Lord Glenville could adminis- 
ter an oath, or act in the absence of the other 
Lords ; and if they could not, Mr. Cole's false- 
hood must be out of the reach of punishment. 

" Returning then from this digression, will 
your Majesty permit me to ask, whether I am 
to understand this fact, respecting the man in a 
great-coat, to be one of those which must neces- 
sarily give occasion to the most unfavourable 
interpretations ; which must be credited till 
decidedly contradicted ? and which, if true, de- 
serve the most serious consideration ? The un- 
favourable interpretations which this fact may 
occasion, doubtless are, that this man was either 

VOL. i. c c 



386 MEMOIRS OF 

Sir Sidney Smith, or some other paramour, who 
was admitted by me into my house in disguise 
at midnight, for the accomplishment of my 
wicked and adulterous purposes. And is it pos- 
sible that your Majesty is it possible that any 
candid mind can believe this fact, with the un- 
favourable interpretations which it occasions, on 
the relation of a servant, who, for all that ap- 
pears, mentions it for the first time four years 
after the event took place ? and who gives, him- 
self, this picture of his honesty and fidelity to a 
master whom he has served so long, that he, 
whose nerves are of so moral a frame that he 
starts at seeing a single man sitting at mid-day 
in an open drawing-room, on the same sofa with a 
married woman, permitted this disguised mid- 
night adulterer to approach his master's bed 
without taking any notice, without making any 
alarm, without offering any interruption ? And 
why? because (as he expressly states) he did 
not believe him to be a thief : and because (as 
he plainly insinuates) he did believe him to be 
an adulterer. 

" But what makes the manner in which the 
commissioners suffered this fact to remain so un- 
explained, the more extraordinary, is this : Mr. 
Cole had, in his original declaration of the llth 
of January, which was before the commissioners, 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 387 

stated, ' that one night, about twelve o'clock, he 
saw a person wrapped up in a great-coat, go 
across the park into the gate at the green-house, 
and he verily believes it was Sir Sidney Smith/ 
In his declaration then, (when he was not upon 
oath) he ventures to state, ' that he verily be- 
lieves it was Sir Sidney Smith.' When he is 
upon his oath in his deposition before the com- 
missioners, all that he ventures to swear is, 
" that he gave no alarm, because the impression 
upon his mind was, that it was not a thief!' 
And the difference is most important, ' The im- 
pression upon his mind was, that it was not a 
thief !' I believe him, and the impression upon 
my mind too is, that he knew it was not a thief 
that he knew who it was and that he knew it was 
no- other than my watchman. What incident it 
is that he alludes to, I cannot pretend to know. 
But this I know, that if it refers to any man 
with whose proceedings I have the least acquaint- 
ance or privity, it must have been my watchman, 
who, if he executes my orders, nightly, and 
often in the night goes his rounds, both inside 
and outside out of my house. And this circum- 
stance, which I should think would rather afford, 
to most minds, an inference that I was not pre- 
paring the way of planning facilities for secret 
midnight assignations, has, in my conscience, I 

c c 2 



388 MEMOIRS OF 

believe, (if there is one word of truth in any part 
of this story, and the whole of it is not pure in- 
vention,) afforded the handle, and suggested the 
idea, to this honest, trusty man, this witness, 
' who cannot be suspected of any unfavourable 
bias/ ' whose veracity in that respect the com- 
missioners saw no ground to question/ and 
t who must be credited till he received decided 
contradiction/ suggested, I say, the idea of the 
dark and vile insinuation contained in this part 
of his testimony. 

" Whether I am right or wrong, however, in 
this conjecture, this appears to be evident, that 
his examination is so left, that supposing an in- 
dictment for perjury or false swearing would lie 
against any witness examined by the commis- 
sioners, and supposing this examination had been 
taken before the whole four. If Mr. Cole was 
indicted for perjury in respect to this part of his 
deposition, the proof that he did see the watch- 
man would necessarily acquit him ; would es- 
tablish the truth of what he said, and rescue 
him from the punishment of perjury, though it 
would at the same time prove the falsehood and 
injustice of the inference, and the insinuation, 
for the establishment of which alone, the fact 
itself was sworn. 

" Mr. Cole chooses further to state, that he 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 389 

ascribes his removal from Montague-house to 
London to the discovery he had made, and the 
notice he had taken of the improper situation of 
Sir Sidney Smith with me upon the sofa. To 
this I can oppose little more than my own asser- 
tions, as my motives can only be known to my- 
self. But Mr. Cole was a very disagreeable 

j 

servant to me ; he was a man who, as I always 
conceived, had been educated above his station. 
He talked French, and was a musician, playing 
well on the violin. By these qualifications he 
had got admitted, occasionally, into better com- 
pany, and this probably led to that forward and 
obtrusive conduct which I thought extremely 
offensive and impertinent in a servant. I had 
long been extremely displeased with him ; I had 
discovered, that when I went out he would come 
into my drawing-room, and play on my harpsi- 
chord, or sit there reading my books ; and, in 
short, there was a forwardness which would have 
led to my absolutely discharging him a long 
time before, if I had not made a sort of rule to 
myself, to forbear, as long as possible, from re- 
moving any servant who had been placed about 
me by his Royal Highness. Before Mr. Cole 
lived with the prince, he had lived with the Duke 
of Devonshire, and I had reason to believe that 
he carried to Devonshire- house all the observa- 



390 MEMOIRS OF 

lions he could make at mine. For these various 
reasons, just before the Duke of Kent was about 
to go out of the kingdom, I requested his Royal 
Highness the Duke of Kent, who had been good 
enough to take the trouble of arranging many 
particulars in my establishment, to make the 
arrangements with respect to Mr. Cole; which 
was to leave him in town to wait upon me only 
when I went to Carlton-house, and not to come 
to Montague-house except when specially re- 
quired. This arrangement, it seems, offended 
him. It certainly deprived him of some perqui- 
sites which he had when living at Blackheath ; 
but, upon the whole, as it left him so much more 
of his time at his own disposal, I should not have 
thought it had been much to his prejudice. It 
seems, however, that he did not like it ; and I 
must leave this part of the case with this one ob- 
servation more That your Majesty, I trust, will 
hardly believe, that if Mr. Cole had, by any 
accident, discovered any improper conduct of 
mine towards Sir Sidney Smith, or any one else, 
the way which I should have taken to suppress 
his information, to close his mouth, would not 
have been by immediately adopting an arrange- 
ment in my family, with regard to him, which 
was either prejudicial or disagreeable to him ; or 
that the way to remove him from the opportunity 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 391 

and the temptation of betraying my secret, 
whether through levity or design, in the quarter 
where it would be most fatal to me that it should 
be known, was by making an arrangement which, 
while all his resentment and anger were fresh 
and warm about him, would place him frequently, 
nay, almost daily, at Carlton-house ; would place 
him precisely at that place from whence, unques- 
tionably, it must have been my interest to have 
kept him as far removed as possible. 

" There is little or nothing in the examinations 
of the other witnesses which is material for me 
to observe upon, as far as respects this part of the 
case. It appears from them, indeed, what I have 
had no difficulty in admitting, and have observed 
upon before, that Sir Sidney Smith was fre- 
quently at Montague-house that they have 
known him to be alone with me in the morning, 
but that they never knew him to be alone with 
me in an evening, or staying later than my com- 
pany or the ladies ; for what Mr. Stikeman says, 
with respect to his being alone with me in an 
evening, can only mean, and is only reconcile- 
able with all the rest of the evidence on this part 
of the case, by its being understood, to mean 
alone, in respect to other company, but not alone 
in the absence of my ladies. The deposition, in- 
deed, of my servant, S. Roberts, is thus far ma- 



392 MEMOIRS OF 

terial upon that point, that it exhibits Mr. Cole, 
not less than three years ago, endeavouring to 
collect evidence upon these points to my pre- 
judice. For your Majesty will find that he says, 
* I recollect Mr. Cole once asking me, I think 
three years ago, whether there were any favour- 
ites in the family. I remember saying that Cap- 
tain Manby and Sir Sidney Smith were fre- 
quently at Blackheath, and dined there oftener 
than other persons.' He then proceeds ' I never 
knew Sir Sidney Smith stay later than the 
ladies ; I cannot exactly say at what time he 
went, but I never remember his staying alone 
with the Princess." 

" As to what is contained in the written de- 
clarations of Mr. and Mrs. Lampert, the old ser- 
vants of Sir John and Lady Douglas, (as from 
some circumstance or other respecting, I con- 
ceive, either their credit, or their supposed im- 
portance,) the commissioners have not thought 
proper to examine them upon their oaths, I do 
not imagine your Majesty would expect that I 
should take any notice of them. And as to what 
is deposed by my Lady Douglas, if your Majesty 
will observe the gross and horrid indecencies 
with which she ushers in and states my confes- 
sions to her, of my asserted criminal intercourse 
with Sir Sidney Smith, your Majesty, I am con- 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 393 

fident, will not be surprised that I do not descend 
to any particular observations on her deposition. 
One, and only one, observation will 1 make, 
which, however, could not have escaped your 
Majesty, if I had omitted it. That your Majesty 
will have an excellent portraiture of the true 
female delicacy and purity of my Lady Douglas's 
mind and character, when you will observe that 
she seems wholly insensible to what a sink of 
infamy she degrades herself by her testimony 
against me. It is not only that it appears, from 
her statement, that she was contented to live in 
familiarity and apparent friendship with me, after 
the confession which I made of my adultery, (for 
by the indulgence and liberality, as it is called, 
of modern manners, the company of adulteresses 
has ceased to reflect that discredit upon the cha- 
racters of other women who admit them to their 
society, which the best interests of female virtue 
may perhaps require ;) but she was contented to 
live in familiarity with a woman, who, if Lady 
Douglas's evidence of me is true, was a most 
low, vulgar, and profligate disgrace to her sex ; 
the grossness of whose ideas and conversation 
would add infamy to the lowest, most vulgar, and 
most infamous prostitute. It is not, however, 
upon this circumstance that I rest assured no re- 
liance can be placed on Lady Douglas's testi- 



394 MEMOIRS OF 

mony ; but after what is proved, with regard to her 
evidence respecting my pregnancy and delivery 
in 1802, I am certain that any observations upon 
her testimony or her veracity must be flung away. 

" Your Majesty has, therefore, now before you 
the state of the charge against me, as far as it 
respects Sir Sidney Smith. And this is, as I 
understand the report, one of the charges which, 
with its unfavourable interpretations, must, in the 
opinion of the commissioners, be credited till de- 
cidedly contradicted. 

" As to the facts of frequent visiting on terms 
of great intimacy, as I have said before, they 
cannot be contradicted at all. How inferences 
and unfavourable interpretations are to be de- 
cidedly contradicted, I wish the commissioners 
had been so good as to explain. I know of no 
possible way but by the declarations of myself 
and Sir Sidney Smith. Yet we, being the sup- 
posed guilty parties, our denial, probably, will 
be thought of no great weight. As to my own, 
however, I tender it to your Majesty in the most 
solemn manner ; and if I knew what fact it was 
that I ought to contradict, to clear my innocence, 
I would precisely address myself to that fact, as 
I am confident my conscience would enable me 
to do, to any, from which a criminal or an unbe- 
coming inference could be drawn. I am sure, 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 395 

however, your Majesty will feel for the humili- 
ated and. degraded situation to which this report 
has reduced your daughter-in-law, the Princess 
of Wales ; when you see her reduced to the ne- 
cessity of either risking the danger that the most 
unfavourable interpretations should be credited ; 
or else of stating, as I am now degraded to the ne- 
cessity of stating, that not only no adulterous, or 
criminal, but no indecent or improper intercourse 
whatever, ever subsisted between Sir Sidney 
Smith and myself, or anything which I should 
have objected that all the world should have 
seen. I say degraded to the necessity of stating 
it ; for your Majesty must feel that a woman's 
character is degraded when it is put upon her to 
make such statement, at the peril of the contrary 
being credited, unless she decidedly contradicts it. 
Sir Sidney Smith's absence from the country 
prevents me calling upon him to attest the same 
truth. But I trust, when your Majesty shall find, 
as you will find, that my declaration to a similar 
effect, with respect to the other gentleman referred 
to in this report, is confirmed by their denial, 
that your Majesty will think that in a case 
where nothing but my own word can be adduced, 
my own word alone may be opposed to whatever 
little remains of credit or weight may, after all 
the above observations, be supposed yet to belong 



396 MEMOIRS OF 

to Mr. Cole, to his inferences, his insinuations, 
or his facts. Not, indeed, that I have yet finished 
my observations on Mr. Cole's credit; but I 
must reserve the remainder till I consider his 
evidence with respect to Mr. Lawrence ; and till 
I have occasion to comment upon the testimony 
of Fanny Loyd. Then, indeed, I shall be under 
the necessity of exhibiting to your Majesty these 
witnesses, Fanny Loyd and Mr. Cole, (both of 
whom are represented as so unbiassed, and so 
credible,) in flat, decisive, and irreconcilable 
contradiction to each other." 

After all the deliberatious and meetings of the 
commissioners, as far as regards Sir Sidney 
Smith, and other questions in connexion with the 
Princess, his Majesty says 

" On the other matters produced in the course 
of the inquiry, the King is advised that none of 
the facts or allegations stated in the preliminary 
examinations, carried on in the absence of the par- 
ties interested, can be considered as legally or 
conclusively established. But in those exami- 
nations, and even in the answer drawn in the 
name of the Princess by her legal advisers, there 
have appeared circumstances of conduct on the 
part of the Princess, which his Majesty never 
could regard but with serious concern. The 
elevated rank which the Princess hold in this 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 397 

country, and the relation in which she stands to 
his Majesty and the royal family, must always 
deeply involve both the interests of the state and 
the personal feelings of his Majesty, in the pro- 
priety and correctness of her conduct. And his 
Majesty cannot, therefore, forbear to express, in 
the conclusion of the business, his desire and ex- 
pectation, that such a conduct may in future be 
observed by the Princess, as may fully justify 
those marks of paternal regard and affection 
which the King always wishes to show to every 
part of his royal family. 

" His Majesty has directed that this message 
should be transmitted to the Princess of Wales, 
by his Lord Chancellor, and that copies of the 
proceedings which have taken place on the sub- 
ject should also be communicated to his dearly 
beloved son, the Prince of Wales." 

Therefore, from the charge of levity and im- 
prudence, the Princess must still be deemed as 
not exonerated. 

We should not have adverted, in the slightest 
degree, to the affair narrated in this chapter, 
had it not assumed, to all intents and purposes, 
the features of a public transaction. We have 
called these volumes by a name no more pre- 
tending than that of " Memoirs ;" and having 
meant to do no more than the title warranted, 



398 MEMOIRS OF 

we have only given so much of our hero's 
private adventures and family concerns as was 
needful to form something like continuity in the 
narrative. Indeed, we are well aware, so replete 
as Sir William Sidney Smith's life has been of 
" moving accident by flood and field," so rife 
has been his prolonged days with private enter- 
prise and wonderful surprises in a word, the feats 
he has performed and witnessed have been so 
numerous and so strange, and his memory is 
stuffed so full of anecdote, that none but himself 
could be his biographer : for no one can tell the 
tales of himself that he can ; and if any one 
could, disappointment would still be the result, 
for to achieve his happy manner of telling them 
would be utterly impossible. 

Many of these anecdotes have found their way 
into the public periodicals : generally speaking, 
they do not read well, because the hero did not 
himself write them. They are turgid and over- 
strained, being miserably bloated and swelled out 
with too much panegyric. We shall quote a few 
of them at the end of these volumes, and en- 
deavour to divest them a little of their inflated 
laudation. 

We may just now, moreover, observe, that to 
write a good life, in the extended sense of the word, 
of the gallant veteran, would be a matter of no 



SIR SIDNEY SMITH. 399 

small difficulty, were it rigidly a true one ; and a 
biography, however amusing, if not true, could 
not be good. It is in this that the difficulty lies, 
the impossibility to find a person sufficiently im- 
partial. Were Sir Sidney himself to attempt it, 
much of it would appear, from him, like gasconade, 
simply because his adventures have been so sin- 
gular that it would be hazardous for a man to 
publish them of himself; and unfortunately, such 
are his qualities, that his friends are very friends 
indeed, and verge too much upon idolaters ; and 
his enemies are contemning sceptics of anything 
good or great about him. Whilst the one party 
would extol him, as the ne plus ultra of heroism, 
the other would designate him merely as a 
successful charlatan brave, but without con- 
duct, cunning without being sensible arrogant 
and supercilious in his youth, and, in his after 
life, immersed in the vapours of his intolerable 
vanity ; that all that ever was sterling in the man 
is totally evaporated, and that nothing remains 
of him but a gaudy shell, tricked out with rib- 
bons and stars, and all the blazonry of which 
beggarly monarchs are so lavish, and fools so 
greedy. 

That Sir Sidney has nothing of the latter cha- 
racter about him, those who attentively read 
these memoirs must be convinced. They must 



400 MEMOIRS OF 

also be convinced that he is, properly speaking, 
truly a great man, and had more favourable op- 
portunities presented themselves, would have been 
a much greater, perhaps the very greatest man of his 
time or nothing. We have always thought, and 
always said, that he possessed wonderful but 
dangerous faculties ; that he is a sort of warrior 
Lord Brougham, though a much pleasanter fellow. 
We do not mean to say that his lordship is not 
a very pleasant man ; but still, after his public 
avowal of his inability to play the courtier, he 
will not consider us as libellous in saying, that 
it is possible there may be pleasanter men, and 
that our fine old admiral is one of them, though 
we fear he will not take the comparison alto- 
gether as a compliment. 

We must resume our narrative in the next 
volume. 



END OF VOL. I. 



LONDON : 
IBOTSON AND PALMER, PRINTERS, SAVOY-STREET, STRAND.