The Life of Horatio Lord Nelson HTML version

Chapter 9. 1805
Sir Robert Calder falls in with the combined Fleets--They form a Junction with the Ferrol
Squadron, and get into Cadiz--Nelson is reappointed to the Command--Battle of
Trafalgar--Victory, and Death of Nelson.
At Portsmouth, Nelson at length found news of the combined fleet. Sir Robert Calder,
who had been sent out to intercept their return, had fallen in with them on the 22nd of
July, sixty leagues off Cape Finisterre. Their force consisted of twenty sail of the line,
three fifty-gun ships, five frigates, and two brigs: his, of fifteen line-of- battle ships, two
frigates, a cutter, and a lugger. After an action of four hours he had captured an eighty-
four and a seventy-four, and then thought it necessary to bring-to the squadron, for the
purpose of securing their prizes. The hostile fleets remained in sight of each other till the
26th, when the enemy bore away. The capture of two ships from so superior a force
would have been considered as no inconsider- able victory, a few years earlier; but
Nelson had introduced a new era in our naval history; and the nation felt respecting this
action as he had felt on a somewhat similar occasion. They regretted that Nelson, with his
eleven ships, had not been in Sir Robert Calder's place; and their disappointment was
generally and loudly expressed.
Frustrated as his own hopes had been, Nelson had yet the high satisfaction of knowing
that his judgment had never been more conspicuously approved, and that he had rendered
essential service to his country, by driving the enemy from those Islands where they
expected there could be no force capable of opposing them. The West India merchants in
London, as men whose interests were more immediately benefited, appointed a
deputation to express their thanks for his great and judicious exertions. It was now his
intention to rest awhile from his labours, and recruit himself, after all his fatigues and
cares, in the society of those whom he loved. All his stores were brought up from the
VICTORY; and he found in his house at Merton the enjoyment which he had anticipated.
Many days had not elapsed before Captain Blackwood, on his way to London with
despatches, called on him at five in the morning. Nelson, who was already dressed,
exclaimed, the moment he saw him: "I am sure you bring me news of the French and
Spanish fleets! I think I shall yet have to beat them!" They had refitted at Vigo, after the
indecisive action with Sir Robert Calder; then proceeded to Ferrol, brought out the
squadron from thence, and with it entered Cadiz in safety. "Depend on it, Blackwood:" he
repeatedly said, "I shall yet give M. Villeneuve a drubbing." But when Blackwood had
left him, he wanted resolution to declare his wishes to Lady Hamilton and his sisters, and
endeavoured to drive away the thought. He had done enough, he said: "Let the man
trudge it who has lost his budget!" His countenance belied his lips; and as he was pacing
one of the walks in the garden, which he used to call the quarter-deck, Lady Hamilton
came up to him, and told him she saw he was uneasy. He smiled, and said: "No, he was
as happy as possible; he was surrounded by his family, his health was better since he had
been an shore, and he would not give sixpence to call the king his uncle." She replied,