The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 27
Lord Nelson, being on board the Captain, in Gibraltar Bay, May 20, 1797, the Vice-Counsel of the United States of America wrote to him, representing that twelve vessels of the United States were, with their cargoes on board, then lying at Malaga, from which place they were unable to proceed on their respective voyages, as three French privateers were lying ready to seize upon them the moment they were from under the guns of Malaga, and that the masters were sure that the French Consul would adjudge them to be good prizes to those privateers, as they had seen in the course of the month several American vessels and cargoes adjudged by the Consul at Malaga good prizes to them, and that it was impossible to get protection for them unless Lord Nelson would be pleased to afford them the protection of His Majesty's flag. Lord Nelson replied as follows:—" I shall immediately grant the protection you have requested by sending a frigate to-morrow off Malaga, who shall protect them close to the coast of Barbary, where, you tell me, they will consider themselves safe. In thus page 19 freely granting the protection of the British flag to the subjects of the United States, I am sure of fulfilling the wishes of my sovereign, and, I hope, of strengthening the harmony which at present so happily subsists between the two nations.—I have the honour to be, dear sir, your most obedient servant, Horatio Nelson." Well, then, you see the generosity and the promptitude of this great man's action. His wish was first to wipe off decisively and plainly the aspersions which rested on his sovereign's character of dislike and hostility to the American people, and to make Great Britain serviceable to all nations that were on friendly terms with his country. If you will look to other letters of Lord Nelson, you will see how this great man was equal in all other respects to great occasions, when they arose. You will be able to ascertain why it was that men who were considered to be great men by their country, had also a claim to be considered great by other nations, and no nation would have considered a man great who was not prepared to act with promptitude, sincerity, and generosity at such periods of time.