1805 - Battle of Trafalgar


Next Page

Previous Page
Naval history of Great Britain - Vol. IV
William James
1805 Battle of Trafalgar 82

limbs and emaciated body. This recklessness about exposing his person afforded a strong proof of the injury done to his intellect ; and well would it have been for Lord Nelson's memory, had the listeners around his dying couch possessed discernment enough to distinguish, and friendship enough (as writers) to separate, the irrelevant utterings of a mind in a paroxysm of delirium, from the patriotic effusions of the same mind, when lit up, for a moment or so, by a ray of returning reason.

In about an hour and 10 minutes after Lord Nelson had received his wound, or at about 2 h. 35 m. P.M., Captain Hardy found a moment's leisure from his anxious duty on deck to comply with the frequently repeated request of the admiral conveyed through the surgeon, to visit him in the cockpit. " They shook hands affectionately, and Lord Nelson said ' Well, Hardy, how goes the battle ? How goes the day with us ? ' - ' Very well, my lord, ' replied Captain Hardy : ' we have got 12 or 14 of the enemy's ships in our possession ; but five of their van have tacked, and show an intention of bearing down upon the Victory. I have therefore called two or three of our fresh ships round us, and have no doubt of giving them a drubbing. ' -, ' I hope, ' said his lordship, ' none of our ships have struck, Hardy. '-' No, my lord, ' replied Captain Hardy; ' there is no fear of that. ' Lord Nelson then said : ' I am a dead man Hardy. I am going fast : it will be all over with me soon. ' "*

Captain Hardy, in a minute or two, returned to the deck. Soon afterwards the Victory opened her larboard guns upon Rear-admiral Dumanoir's squadron passing to windward, and fired a few of her foremost starboard guns at the Swiftsure, then preparing to rake the Colossus. The concussion of the firing so affected Lord Nelson, that, apostrophizing his ship, he called out : " Oh, Victory, Victory, how you distract my poor brain ! " Then adding, after a short pause, "How dear is life to all men '. " M. Dumanoir's ships passing on to the southward, and the Orion ranging up athwart the Swiftsure's stern, the Victory ceased her fire ; and, after an interval of about 50 minutes from the conclusion of his former visit, Captain Hardy descended a second time to the cockpit. Lord Nelson and Captain Hardy, shook hands again ; and while the captain retained his lordship's hand, he congratulated him, even in the arms of death, on his brilliant victory ; which, he said, was complete, though he did not know how many of the enemy were captured, as it was impossible to perceive every ship distinctly. He was certain, however, of 14 or 15 having surrendered. His lordship answered, ' That is well, but I bargained for 20 ; ' and then emphatically exclaimed, ' Anchor, Hardy, anchor ! '- ' I suppose

*  Beatty's Narrative, p.42

  See diagram p. 71

^ back to top ^