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DEATH OF NELSON. It was from the Redoubtable, a ship that Lord Nelson had twice abstained from firing upon, that he received his death. The ship had a crowd of rifle men in her tops; a species of warfare to which Nelson hail a strong aversion, conceiving it to be individually murderous, and at the same time unimportant to the fate of a general engagement.
“ About fifteen minutes past one,” says Dr. Beatty (then surgeon to the Victory, and subsequently physician to the fieet), * which was in the heat of the engagement, he was walking the middle of the quarter-deck with Captain Hardy, and in the act of turning near the hatchway with his face towards the stern of the Victory, when the fatal ball was fired from the enemy's mizen top, which, from the situation of the two ships (lying on board of each other), was brought just abaft, and rather below the Victory's main yard, and of course not more than fifteen yards distant from that part of the deck where his lordship stood. The ball struck the epaulette on his left shoulder, and penetrated his chest. He fell with his face on the deck. Captain Hardy, who was on his right (the side furthest from the enemy) and advanced some steps before his lordship, on turning round, saw the Sergeant-Major (Secker) of marines with two seamen raising him from the deck, where he had fallen on the same spot on which, a little before, his secretary had breathed his last, with whose blood his lordship's clothes were much soiled. Captain Hardy expressed a hope that he was not severely wounded; to which the gallant chief replied: “They have done for me at last, Hardy.”' "I hope not,” answered Captain Hardy. Yes,” replied his lordship, “my backbone is shot through.”
Captain Hardy ordered the seamen to carry the admiral to the cockpit ; and now two incidents occurred strikingly characteristic of this great man, and strongly marking that energy and reflection which in his heroic mind rose superior even to the immediate consideration of his present awful condition. While the men were carrying him down the ladder from the middle deck, his lordship observed that the tiller-ropes were not yet replaced, and desired one of the midshipmen stationed there to go upon the quarter-deck and remind Captain Hardy of that circumstance, and request that new ones should be immediately rove. Having delivered this order, he took his handkerchief from his pocket and covered his face with it, that he might be conveyed to the cockpit at this crisis unnoticed by the crew.
Several wounded officers, and about forty men were likewise carried to the surgeon for assistance just at this time ; and some others had breathed their last during their conveyance below, Among the latter were Lieutenant William Andrew Ram, and Mr. Whipple, captain's clerk. The surgeon had just examined these two officers, and found that they were dead, when his attention was arrested by several of the wounded calling to him, “ Mr. Beatty, Lord Nelson is here: Mr. Beatty, the admiral is wounded." The surgeon now, on looking round, saw the handkerchief fall from his lordship's face; when the stars on his coat, which also had been covered by it, appeared. Mr. Burke, the purser, and the surgeon; ran immediately to the assistance of his lordship, and took him from the arms of the seamen who had carried him below. In conveying him to one of the midshipmen's berths, they stumbled, but recovered themselves without falling. Lord Nelson then inquired who was supporting him; and when the surgeon informed him,,his lordship replied, " Ah, Mr. Beatty! you can do nothing for me. I have but a short time to live: my back is shot through. The surgeon said, “he hoped the wound was not so dangerous as his lordship imagined, and that he might survive long to enjoy his glorious victory.' The Rev. Doctor Scott, who had been absent in another part of the cockpit administering lemonade to the wounded, now came instantly to his lordship; and in the anguish of grief wrung his hands, and said : “Alas, Beatty, how prophetic you were !" alluding to the apprehensions expressed by the surgeon for his lordship's safety previous to the battle.
His lordship was laid upon a bed, stripped of his clothes, and covered with a sheet. While this was effecting, he said to Doctor Scott, “Doctor, I told you so. Doctor I am gone;" and after a short pause he added in a low voice, "I have to leave Lady Hamilton, and my adopted daughter Horatia, as a legacy to my country." The surgeon then examined the wound, assuring his lordship that he would not put him to much pain in endeavouring to discover the course of the ball, which he soon found had penetrated deep into the chest; and had probably lodged in the spine. This being explained to his lordship, he replied, "he was confident his back was shot through.” The back was then examined externally, but without any injury being perceived; on which his lordship was requested by the surgeon to make him acquainted with all his sensations. He replied, that “he felt a gush of blood every minute within his breast: that he had no feeling in the lower part of his body, and that his breathing was difficult, and attended with very severe pain about that part of the spine where he was confident the ball had struck; for,” said he, “I felt it break my back." These synıptoms, but more particularly the gush of blood. which his lordship complained of, together with the state of his pulse, indicated to the surgeon the hopeless situation of the case ; but till after the victory was ascertained and announced to his lordship, the true nature of his wound was concealed by the surgeon. from all on board except only Captain Hardy, Doctor Scott, Mr. Burke, and Messrs. Smith and Westemburg. the assistant surgeons.
The Victory's crew cheered whenever they observed an enemy's ship surrender. On one of these occasions Lord Nelson anxiously inquired what was the cause of it; when Lieutenant Pasco, who lay wounded at some distance from his lordship, raised himself up, and told him that another ship had struck, which appeared to give
him much satisfaction. He now felt an ardent thirst, and fre quently called for drink, and to be fanned with paper, making usy of these words—“Fan, fan,” and “Drink, drink. This he con tinued to repeat when he wished for drink or the refreshment of cool air till a very few moments before he expired. Lemonade and wine and water were given to him occasionally. He evinced great solicitude for the event of the battle, and fears for the safety of his friend Capt. Hardy. Dr. Scott and Mr. Burke used every argu. ment they could suggest to relieve his anxiety. Mr. Burke told him “ the enemy were decisively defeated, and that he hoped his lordship would still live to be himself the bearer of the joyful tidings to his country.” He replied, “It is nonsense, Mr. Burke, to suppose I can live : my sufferings are great, but they will all be soon over.” Doctor Scott entreated his lordship “not to despair of living,” and said “he trusted that Divine Providence would restore him once more to his dear country and friends." *** Ah, doctor!" replied his lordship, “it is all over; it is all over.'
Many messages were sent to Captain Hardy by the surgeon requesting his attendance on his lordship, who became impatient to see him, and often exclaimed—“Will no one bring Hardy to me? He must be killed : he is surely destroyed.” The captain's aidde-camp, Mr. Bulkley, now came below, and stated that “circumstances respecting the fieet required Captain Hardy's presence on deck, but that he would avail himself of the first favourable moment to visit his lordship.” On hearing him deliver this message to the surgeon, his lordship inquired who had brought it. Mr. Burke answered, “It is Mr. Bulkley, my lord.” “ It is his voice,” replied his lordship : he then said to the young gentleman, “Remember me to your father.”
An hour and ten minutes, however, elapsed, from the time of his lordship’s being wounded, before Captain Hardy's subsequent interview with him, the particulars of which are nearly as follow. 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 twelve or fourteen 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. Come nearer to me. Pray let my dear Lady Hamilton have my hair, and all other things belonging to me.' Mr. Burke was about to withdraw at the commencement of this conyersation, but his lordship, perceiving his intention, desired he would remain. Captain Hardy observed, that “he hoped Mr. Beatty could yet hold out some prospect of life.' “Oh, no!" answered his lordship, “it is impossible; my
back is shot through ; Beatty will tell you so." Captain Hardy then returned on deck, and at parting shook hands again with his revered friend and commander.
His lordship now requested the surgeon, who had been previously absent a short time attending Mr. Rivers, to return to the wounded, and give his assistance to such of them as he could be useful to; " for,” said he, “you can do nothing for me." assured him that the assistant-surgeons were doing every thing that could be effected for those unfortunate men; but on his lordship's several times repeating his injunctions to that purpose, he left him surrounded by Doctor Scott, Mr. Burke, and two of his lordship’s domestics. After the surgeon had been absent a few minutes attending Lieuts. Peake and Reeves, of the marines, who were wounded, he was called by Doctor Scott to his lordship, who said, “ Ah, Mr. Beatty! I have sent for you to say what I forgot to tell you before, that all power of motion and feeling below my breast are gone; and you,” continued he,“ very well know I can live but a short time.” The emphatic manner in which he pronounced these last words left no doubt in the surgeon's mind that he adverted to the case of a man who had some months before received a mortal injury of the spine on board the Victory, and had laboured under similar privations of sense and muscular motion. The case had made a great impression on Lord Nelson; he was anxious to know the cause of such symptoms, which was accordingly explained to him; and he now appeared to apply the situation and fate of this man to himself. The surgeon answered, “My lord, you told me so before;" but he now examined the extremities to ascertain the fact; when his lordship said, “Ah, Beatty, I am too certain of it; Scott and Burke have tried it already. You know I am gone.' The surgeon replied, “My lord, unhappily for our country, nothing can be done for you;" and having made this declaration, he was so much affected that he turned round and withdrew a few steps to conceal his emotions. His lordship said, " I know it: I feel something rising in my breast," putting his hand on his left side, “which tells me I am gone." Drink was recommended liberally, and Dr. Scott and Mr. Burke fanned him with paper. He often exclaimed, “God be praised, I have done my duty!” and upon the surgeon's inquiring whether his pain was still very great, he declared, it continued so very severe, 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 pause of a few minutes, he added in the same tone, What would become of poor Lady Hamilton, if she knew my situation?".
The surgeon, finding it impossible to render his lordship any further assistance, left him, to attend Lieutenant Bligh, Messrs Smith and Westphall, midshipmen, and some seamen, recently wounded. Captain Hardy now came to the cockpit to see his lordship a second time, which was after an interval of about fifty minutes from the conclusion of his first visit. Before he quitted
the deck, he sent Lieutenant Hills to acquaint Admiral Collingwood with the lamentable circumstance of Lord Nelson's being wounded. * 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 see every ship distinctiy. He was certain, however, of fourteen or fifteen having surrendered. His lordship answered, “That is well; but I bargained for twenty :” and then emphatically exclaimed, “ Anchor, Hardy, anchor!” To this the captain replied, “I suppose, my lord, Admiral Collingwood will now take upon himself the direction of affairs.” “Not while I live, I hope, Hardy !” cried the dying chief, and at that moment endeavoured ineffectually to raise himself from the bed. "No," added he,“ do you anchor, Hardy.” Captain Hardy then said, “Shall we make the signal sir?” “Yes,”' answered his lordship, “ for if I live, I'll anchor.”† The energetic manner in which he uttered these his last orders to Captain Hardy, accompanied with his efforts to raise himself, evinced his determination never to resign the command while he retained the exercise of his transcendant faculties, and that he expected Captain Hardy still to carry into effect the suggestions of his exalted mind-a sense of his duty overcoming the pains of death. He then told Captain Hardy," he felt that in à few minutes he should be no more;” adding in a low tone, “Don't throw me overboard, Hardy.' The captain answered, “Oh, no! certainly not.” “Then,” replied his lordship, "you know what to do ;I and,” continued he, “ take care of my dear Lady Hamilton, Hardy; take care of poc: Lady Hamilton. Kiss me, Hardy.' The captain now knelt down and kissed his cheek ; when his lordship said, “Now I am satisfied. Thank God, I have done my duty: Captain Hardy stood for a minute or two in silent contemplation ; he then knelt down again, and kissed hi lordship's forehead. His lordship said, “Who is that?” Tho captain answered, “It is Hardy ; to which his lordship replied, “God bless you, Hardy!” After this affecting scene Captain Hardy withdrew, and returned to the quarter-deck, having spent about eight minutes in this his last interview with his dying friend.
* Captain Hardy deemed it his duty to give this information to Admiral Collingwood as soon as the fate of the day was decided ; but thinking that his lordship might feel some repugnance to this communication, he left directions for Lieutenant Hills to be detained on deck at his return, till he himself (Captain Hardy) should come up from the cockpit. Lieutenant Hills was dispatched on this mission from the Victory, at the very time when the enemy's van ships that had tacked were passing her to windward and firing at her.
† Meaning, that in case of his lordship's surviving till all resistance on the part of the enemy had ceased, Captain Hardy was then to anchor the British fleet and the prizes, if it should be found practicable.
| Alluding to some wishes previously expressed by his lordship to Captain Hardy respecting the place of his interment.