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gates; and, on their way, to tell all the captains of the
line of battle ships that he depended on their exertions;
and that, if by the prescribed mode of attack they found
it impracticable to get into action immediately, they
might adopt whatever they thought best, provided it led
them quickly and closely alongside an enemy. As they
were standing on the front of the poop, Blackwood took
him by the hand, saying, he hoped soon to return and
find him in possession of twenty prizes. He replied:
**God bless you, Blackwood; I shall never see you
again ! ' '

Nelson 's column was steered about two points more to
the north than Collingwood 's, in order to cut off the
enemy's escape into Cadiz: the lee line, therefore, was
first engaged. *'See,'' cried Nelson, pointing to the
Boyal Sovereign^ as she steered right for the center of
the enemy 's line, cut through it astern of the Santa Ana,
three-decker, and engaged her at the muzzle of her guns
on the starboard side; ''see how that noble fellow, Col-
lingwood, carries his ship into action ! ' ' Collingwood,
delighted at being first in the heat of the fire, and know-
ing the feelings of his Commander and old friend, turned
to his Captain, and exclaimed : * ' Rotherham, what would
Nelson give to be here ? ' ' Both these brave officers, per-
haps, at this moment, thought of Nelson with gratitude,
for a circumstance which had occurred on the preceding
day. Admiral Collingwood, with some of the captains,
having gone on board the Victory to receive instructions.
Nelson inquired of him where his Captain^ was ; and was
told, in reply, that they were not upon good terms with
each other. ' ' Terms ! ' ' said Nelson ; — ' ' good terms with
each other!" Immediately he sent a boat for Captain
Rotherham; led him, as soon as he arrived, to CoUing-

1. Eis Captain. That Is, the captain of Collingwood's flagship.

The Life of Nelson 347

wood, and saying, — ''Look; yonder are the enemy!"
bade them shake hands like Englishmen.

The enemy continued to fire a gun at a time at the
Victory, till they saw that a shot had passed through her
main-top-gallant sail ; then they opened their broadsides,
aiming chiefly at her rigging in the hope of disabling
her before she could close with them. Nelson, as usual,
had hoisted several flags, lest one should be shot away.
The enemy showed no colors till late in the action, when
they began to feel the necessity of having them to strike.
For this reason, the Santissima Trinidad, Nelson's old
acquaintance, as he used to call her, was distinguishable
only by her four decks ;^ and to the bow of this opponent
lie ordered the Victory to be steered. Meantime, an in-
cessant raking fire was kept up upon the Victory. The
Admiral 's secretary was one of the first who fell ; he was
killed by a cannon-shot while conversing with Hardy.
Captain Adair of the marines, with the help of a sailor,
endeavored to remove the body from Nelson 's sight, who
had a great regard for Mr. Scott ; but he anxiously asked :
"Is that poor Scott that's gone?" and being informed
that it was indeed so, exclaimed : ' ' Poor fellow ! ' ' Pres-
ently, a double-headed shot struck a party of marines,
who were drawn up on the poop, and killed eight of
them: upon which Nelson immediately desired Captain
Adair to disperse his men around the ship, that they
might not suffer so much from being together. A few
minutes afterwards a shou struck the fore-brace bits on
the quarter-deck, and passed between Nelson and Hardy,
a splinter from the bit tearing off Hardy's buckle, and
bruising his foot. Both stopped, and looked anxiously
at each' other : each supposed the other to be wounded.

1. Four decks. The Santissima Trinidad was tbe largest battleship
afloat, with 130 guns, mounted on the spar-deck and three gun-decka
below. Nelson had exchanged broadsides with her at Cape St. Vincent.
(See p 134.)

348 The Life of Nelson

Nelson then smiled, and said: "This is too warm work,
Hardy, to last long. "

The Victory had not yet returned a single gun ; fifty of
her men had been by this time killed or wounded, and her
mizzen-topmast with all her studding-sails and their
booms shot away. Nelson declared, that, in all his bat-
tles, he had seen nothing which surpassed the cool cour-
age of his crew on this occasion. At four minutes after
twelve, she opened her fire from both sides of her deck.
It was not possible to break the enemy's line without
running on board one of their ships: Hardy informed
him of this, and asked him which he would prefer. Nel-
son replied : ' ' Take your choice, Hardy, it does not sig-
nify much." The Master was ordered to put the helm
to port, and the Victory ran on board^ the Redout able,
just as her tiller-ropes were shot away. The French
ship received her with a broadside; then instantly let
down her lower-deck ports, for fear of being boarded
through them, and never afterwards fired a great gun^
during the action. Her tops, like those of all the enemy's
ships, were filled with riflemen. Nelson never placed
musketry in his tops ; he had a strong dislike to the prac-
tice : not merely because it endangers setting fire to the
sails, but also because it is a murderous sort of warfare,
by which individuals may suffer, and a commander now
and then be picked off, but which never can decide the
fate of a general engagement.^

1. Ran on hoard the Redouta'ble. When the Yictory drew in range
Bhe turned first to the right (helm to port) and then to the left to
come under the stem of Villeneuve's flagship the Bucentaure. After
she had done so, she came alongside the Redouta'ble, which had run up
nearly abreast of the French flagship to protect her.

2. Great gun. A cannon.

3. Decide the fate of a general engagement. In this case the
musketry at one time nearly cleared the decks of the Victory. It may
be said to have decided the battle in the fight between the Bonhomme
BicTiard and the Serapis.


The Life of Nelson



(40 ships)

BRITISH (30 ships)

( 6 fast
ships )



(lO ships) to

cut through

enemy center

( 12 ships ) to wear
simultaneously and
attack enemy rear



^ Neptuno
(^ Scipion

Vi Intrepide

\ Formidable\^ (i Duguay Trouin


^Ajax Vspartlate

Mt. Blanch |Rayo


- ' v-^ Neptune
^ Britannia C- e




J San Francisco
de Asisi


^San Augustino

Q Santissima

r^ Trinidad

^ /Redoutable
'^ U gSan Justo

Neptune (^
San Leandroii




___Aigle^ I

— ''"' Montanes

C'3lossLi_s ^ (jSwiftsure

,^' _^^-^Achil!e

',^ Defense

^ „_^


■^ Revenge

■— ■>

J San lldefenso
^ Achiiie


^ Berwick

Principe DeAsturias

^ Swiftsure

# Sao Juan Nepomuceno

of >-

fP^ Strait of G'J;;i°j ^euta
TangieTI9>-^ f

,'^ Polyphemus
^^'^^ Thunderer

^ BRITISH 27 ships, 5 frigates, 1 schooner


33 ships, 5 frigates, 2 brigs


350 The Life of Nelson

Captain Harvey, in the Temeraire, fell on board the
Bedoiitahle on the other side. Another enemy was in like
manner on board the Temeraire, so that these four ships
formed as compact a tier as if they had been moored to-
gether, their heads lying all the same way. The lieuten-
ants of the Victory, seeing this, depressed the guns of
the middle and lower decks, and fired with a diminished
charge, lest the shot should pass through and injure the
Temeraire. And because there was danger that the Be-
doiitahle might take fire from the lower-deck guns, the
muzzles of which touched her side when they were run
out, the fire-man of each gun stood ready with a bucket of
water; which, as soon as the gun was discharged, he
dashed into the hole made by the shot. An incessant fire
was kept up from the Victory from both sides ; her lar-
board guns playing upon the Bucentaure, and the huge
Santissima Trinidad.

It had been part of Nelson's prayer, that the British
fleet might be distinguished by humanity in the victory
which he expected. Setting an example himself, he twice
gave orders to cease firing upon the Bedoutahle, sup-
posing that she had struck, because her great guns were
silent ; for, as she carried no flag, there was no means of
instantly ascertaining the fact. From this ship, which he
had thus twice spared, he received his death. A ball
fired from her mizzen-top, which, in the then situation of
the two vessels, was not more than fifteen yards from
that part of the deck where he was standing, struck the
epaulette on his left shoulder, about a quarter after one,
just in the heat of the action. He fell upon his face, on
the spot which was covered with his poor secretary's
blood. Hardy, who was a few steps from him, turning
around, saw three men raising him up. ''They have
done for me at last, Hardy!" said he. — **I hope not,"
cried Hardy. — **Yes!" he replied ; **my back-bone is shot

The Life of Nelson 351

through." Yet even now, not for a moment losing his
presence of mind, he observed, as they were carrying
him down the ladder, that the tiller-ropes, which had
been shot away, were not yet replaced, and ordered that
new ones should be rove immediately : — then, that he
might not be seen by the crew, he took out his handker-
chief, and covered his face and his stars. Had he but
concealed these badges of honor from the enemy, Eng-
land, perhaps, would not have had cause to receive with
sorrow the news of the battle of Trafalgar. The cockpit
was crowded with wounded and dying men ; over whose
bodies he was with some difficulty conveyed, and laid
upon a pallet in the midshipmen's berth. It was soon
perceived, upon examination, that the wound was mortal.
This, however, was concealed from all except Captain
Hardy, the chaplain, and the medical attendants. He
himself being certain, from the sensation in his back,
and the gush of blood he felt momently within his breast,
that no human care could avail him, insisted that the
surgeon should leave him, and attend to those to whom
he might be useful ; ' 'For," said he, ''you can do nothing
for me." — ^AU that could be done was to fan him with
paper, and frequently to give him lemonade to alleviate
his intense thirst. He was in great pain, and expressed
much anxiety for the event of the action, which now be-
gan to declare itself. As often as a ship struck, the crew
of the Victory hurrahed; and at every hurrah, a visible
expression of joy gleamed in the eyes, and marked the
countenance, of the dying hero. But he became impa-
tient to see Captain Hardy; and as that officer, though
often sent for, could not leave the deck. Nelson feared
that some fatal cause prevented him, and repeatedly
cried: "Will no one bring Hardy to me? He must be
killed ! He is surely dead ! ' ' — An hour and ten minutes
elapsed from the time when Nelson received his wound.

352 The Life of Nelson

before Hardy could come to liim. They shook hands in
silence; Hardy in vain strnggling to suppress the feel-
ings of that most painful and yet sublimest moment.
''Well, Hardy," said Nelson; ''how goes the day with
us?" — "Very well," replied Hardy; "ten ships have
struck, but five of the van^ have tacked, and show an
intention to bear down on the Victory. I have called
two or three of our fresh ships around, and have no
doubt of giving them a drubbing." — "I hope," said
Nelson, "none of our ships have struck?" Hardy an-
swered, ' ' There was no fear of that. ' ' Then, and not till
then. Nelson spoke of himself. "I am a dead man,
Hardy, ' ' said he : "I am going fast : — it will be all over
with me soon. Come nearer to me. Let my dear Lady
Hamilton have my hair, and all other things belonging
to me." Hardy observed, that he hoped Mr. Beatty
would hold out some prospect of life. "Oh no ! " he re-
plied : " it is impossible ; my back is shot through. Beatty
will tell you so." Captain Hardy then, once more, shook
hands with him ; and with a heart almost bursting, has-
tened upon deck.

By this time all feeling below the breast was gone ; and
Nelson, having made the surgeon ascertain this, said to
him : ' ' You know I am gone. I know it. I feel some-
thing rising in my breast" — ^putting his hand on his left
side — " which tells me so." And upon Beatty 's inquir-
ing whether his pain was very great? he replied, ''so
great, that he wished he was dead. Yet," said he, in a
lower voice, "one would like to live a little longer too!"
And after a few minutes, in the same undertone, he
added — ' ' What would become of poor Lady Hamilton if

1. Five of the van. In spite of VUlenenve's urgent orders "to take
positions that would bring them most rapidly under fire," the ten
ships of the van kept on their course until late in the battle. When
they turned, five passed to windward and five to leeward of the ships
In action. All save one escaped.

The Life of Nelson 353

she knew my situation ! ' ' Next to his country, she occu-
pied his thoughts. Captain Hardy, some fifty minutes
after he had left the cockpit, returned ; and again taking
the hand of his dying friend and commander, congratu-
lated him on having gained a complete victory. How
many of the enemy were taken he did not know, as it was
impossible to perceive them distinctly; but fourteen or
fifteen at least. ''That's well," cried Nelson; ''but I
bargained for twenty." And then, in a stronger voice,
he said: "Anchor, Hardy; anchor." Hardy, upon this,
hinted that Admiral Collingood would take upon himself
the direction of affairs. ' ' Not while I live, Hardy, ' ' said
the dying Nelson, ineffectually endeavoring to raise him-
self from the bed : " do you anchor. ' ' His previous order
for preparing to anchor had shown how clearly he fore-
saw the necessity of this. Presently, calling Hardy back,
he said to him, in a low voice, "Don't throw me over-
board : ' ' and he desired that he might be buried by his
parents, unless it should please the King to order other-
wise. Then reverting to private feelings: "Take care
of my dear Lady Hamilton, Hardy: take care of poor
Lady Hamilton.— Kiss me, Hardy," said he. Hardy
knelt down and kissed his cheek : and Nelson said, ' ' Now
I am satisfied. Thank God, I have done my duty!"
Hardy stood over him in silence for a moment or two,
then knelt again, and kissed his forehead. "Who is
that ? ' ' said Nelson ; and being informed, he replied :
' ' God bless you, Hardy ! ' ' And Hardy then left him —

Nelson now desired to be turned upon his right side,
and said, "I wish I had not left the deck; for I shall
soon be gone. ' ' Death was, indeed, rapidly approaching.
He said to the chaplain, "Doctor, I have not been a great
sinner : ' ' and after a short pause, ' ' remember that I leave
Lady Hamilton, and my daughter Horatia as a legacy to

354 The Life of Nelson


my country. ' ' His articulation now became difficult ; but
he was distinctly heard to say, ' ' Thank God, I have done
my duty ! ' ' These words he repeatedly pronounced ; and
they were the last words which he uttered. He expired at
thirty minutes after four, — three hours and a quarter
after he had received his wound

Within a quarter of an hour after Nelson was wounded,
above fifty of the Victory ^s men fell by the enemy's mus-
ketry. They, however, on their part, were not idle ; and
it was not long before there were only two Frenchmen
left alive in the mizzen-top of the Redoutable. One of
them was the man who had given the fatal wound ; he did
not live to boast of what he had done. An old quarter-
master had seen him fire; and easily recognized him,
because he wore a glazed cocked hat and a white frock.
This quarter-master and two midshipmen, Mr. Colling-
wood and Mr. Pollard, were the only persons left in the
Victory's poop; — the two midshipmen kept firing at the
top, and he supplied them with cartridges. One of the
Frenchmen, attempting to make his escape down the
rigging, was shot by Mr. Pollard, and fell on the poop.
But the old quarter-master, as he cried out, ' ' That 's he —
that's he," and pointed at the other, who was coming
forward to fire again, received a shot in his mouth, and
fell dead. Both the midshipmen then fired at the same
time, and the fellow dropped in the top. When they took
possession of the prize, they went into the mizzen-top,
and found him dead; with one ball through his head,
and another through his breast.

The Redoutable struck within twenty minutes after the
fatal shot had been fired from her. During that time
she had been twice on fire, — in her fore-chains, and in
her forecastle. The French, as they had done in other
battles, made use in this of fire-balls, and other com-
bustibles ; implements of destruction, which other na-

The Life of Nelson 355

tions, from a sense of honor and humanity, have laid
aside ; which add to the sufferings of the wounded, without
determining the issue of the combat : which none but the
cruel would employ, and which never can be successful
against the brave. Once they succeeded in setting fire,
from the Redoutahle, to some ropes and canvas on the
Victory ^s booms. The cry ran through the ship, and
reached the cockpit : but even this dreadful cry produced
no confusion : the men displayed that perfect self-posses-
sion in danger by which English seamen are character-
ized; they extinguished the flames on board their own
ship, and then hastened to extinguish them in the enemy,
by throwing buckets of water from the gangway. When
the Redoutahle had struck, it was not practicable to board
her from the Victory, for, though the two ships touched,
the upper works of both fell in so much^ that there was a
great space between their gangways; and she could not
be boarded from her lower or middle decks, because her
ports were down. Some of our men went to Lieutenant
Quilliam and offered to swim under her bows, and get
up there ; but it was thought unfit to hazard brave lives
in this manner.

What our men would have done from gallantry, some
of the crew of the Santissima Trinidad did to save them-
selves. Unable to stand the tremendous fire of the Vic-
tory, whose larboard guns played against this great four-
decker, and not knowing how else to escape them, nor
where else to betake themselves for protection, many of
them leaped overboard, and swam to the Victory; and
were actually helped up her sides by the English during
the action. The Spaniards began the battle with less
vivacity than their unworthy allies, but they continued
it with greater firmness. The Argonauta and Bahama

1. Fell in so much. Vessels of this period were considerably broader
at the waterline than at the deck, to give stability.

356 The Life of Nelson


were defended till they had each lost about four hundred
men ; the San Juan Nepomuceno lost three hundred and
fifty. Often as the superiority of British courage has
been proved against France upon the seas, it was never
more conspicuous than in this decisive conflict. Five of
our ships were engaged muzzle to muzzle with five of the
French. In all five, the Frenchmen lowered their lower-
deck ports, and deserted their guns ; while our men con-
tinued deliberately to load and fire, till they had made
the victory secure.

Once, amidst his sufferings. Nelson had expressed a
wish that he were dead ; but immediately the spirit sub-
dued the pains of death, and he wished to live a little
longer ; — doubtless that he might hear the completion of
the victory which he had seen so gloriously begun. That
consolation, — that joy, — that triumph, — was afforded
him. He lived to know that the victory was decisive ; and
the last guns which were fired at the flying enemy were
heard a minute or two before he expired. The ships
which were thus flying were four of the enemy's van, all
French, under Rear-Admiral Dumanoir. They had borne
no part in the action ; and now, when they were seeking
safety in flight, they fired not only into the Victory and
Royal Sovereign as they passed, but poured their broad-
sides into the Spanish captured ships; and they were
seen to back their topsails, for the purpose of firing with
more precision. The indignation of the Spaniards at
this detestable cruelty from their allies, for whom they
had fought so bravely, and so profusely bled, may well
be conceived. It was such, that when, two days after
the action, seven of the ships which had escaped into
Cadiz came out, in hopes of retaking some of the dis-
abled prizes, the prisoners in the Argonauta, in a body,
offered their services to the British prize-master, to man
the guns against any of the French ships : saying, that

The Life of Nelson 357

if a Spanish ship came alongside they would quietly go
below ; but they requested that they might be allowed to
fight the French, in resentment for the murderous usage
which they had suffered at their hands. Such was their
earnestness, and such the implicit confidence which could
be placed in Spanish honor, that the offer was accepted ;
and they were actually stationed at the lower-deck guns.
Dumanoir and his squadron were not more fortunate than
the fleet from whose destruction they fled: they fell in
with Sir Richard Strachan, who was cruising for the
Rochefort squadron, and were all taken. In the better
days of France, if such a crime could then have been
committed, it would have received an exemplary pun-
ishment from the French government : under Bonaparte,
it was sure of impunity, and, perhaps, might be thought
deserving of reward. But, if the Spanish court had been
independent, it would have become us to have delivered
Dumanoir and his captains up to Spain, that they might
have been brought to trial, and hanged in sight of the
remains of the Spanish fleet.

The total British loss in the battle of Trafalgar
amounted to 1587. Twenty of the enemy struck ; but it
was not possible to anchor the fleet,* as Nelson had en-
joined ; — a gale came on from the southwest ; some of
the prizes went down, some went on shore ; one effected

* In the former editions it was said that unhappily the fleet did not
anchor : implying an opinion that Nelson's orders ought to have been
followed by his successor. From the recently published Memoirs and
Correspondence of Lord Collingwood, it appears that this was not
practicable, and that if it had been, and had been done, the conse-
quences, from the state of the weather (which Nelson could not fore-
see), would, in all likelihood, have been more disastrous than they

Having thus referred to Lord Collingwood's Life, I may be allowed
to say that the publication of this volume is indeed a national good.
It ought to be in every oflBcer's cabin and in every statesman's cabinet.
— Southey'8 Note.

358 The Life of Nelson

its escape into Cadiz ; others were destroyed ; four onh
were saved, and those by the greatest exertions. The'
wounded Spaniards were sent ashore, an assurance being
given that they should not serve till regularly exchanged ;
and the Spaniards, with a generous feeling which would
not, perhaps, have been found in any other people, offered
the use of their hospitals for our wounded, pledging the
honor of Spain that they should be carefully attended
there. When the storm, after the action, drove some
of the prizes upon the coast, they declared that the Eng-
lish, who were thus thrown into their hands, should not
be considered as prisoners of war; and the Spanish
soldiers gave up their own beds to their shipwrecked
enemies. The Spanish Vice-Admiral, Alava, died of his
wounds. Villeneuve was sent to England, and permitted
to return to France. The French government say that
he destroyed himself^ on the way to Paris, dreading the
consequences of a court-martial : but there is every reason
to believe that the tyrant, who never acknowledged the
loss of the battle of Trafalgar, added Villeneuve to the
numerous victims of his murderous policy.

It is almost superfluous to add, that all the honors
which a grateful country could bestow were heaped upon j
the memory of Nelson. His brother was made an Earl,)
with a grant of £6000 a year ; £10,000 were voted to each ^
of his sisters; and £100,000 for the purchase of an estate.'
A public funeraP was decreed, and a public monument.^

1. Destroyed himself. It has been proved by later Investigation that|

Online LibraryRobert SoutheySouthey's Life of Nelson → online text (page 28 of 29)