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north-west coast of Ireland, against adverse winds, till, on the evening of the 12th of August, he learnt that they had not been heard of there. Frustrated thus in all his hopes, after a pursuit, to which, for its extent, rapidity, and perseverance, no parallel can be produced, he judged it best to reinforce the channel fleet with his squadron, lest the enemy, as Collingwood apprehended, should bear down upon Brest with their whole .collected force. On the 15th he joined Admiral Cornwallis off Ushant. No news had yet been obtained of the enemy; and on the same evening he received orders to proceed, with the Victory and Superb, to Portsmouth.

CHAPTER IX. Sir Robert Calder falls in with the combined Fleets-They form a Junction

with the Ferrol Squadron, and get into Cadiz-Nelson is re-appointed 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 west of Cape Finisterre. Their force consisted of twenty sail of the line, three 50-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 eightyfour 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 inconsiderable victory a few years earlier; but Nelson had introduced a new era in our naval bistory, and the nation felt respecting this action as he had folt on a somewhat similar occasion. They regretted that Nelson, with luis 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 endered 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 a while 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 ! 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 quarterdeck, 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 on shore, and he would not give sixpence to call the King his uncle.” She

replied that she did not believe him—that she knew he was longing to get at the combined fleets—that he considered them as his own property—that he would be miserable if any man but himself did the business and that he ought to have them, as the price and reward of his two years' long watching, and his hard chase. “Nelson,” said she, “however we may lament your absence, offer your services; they will be accepted, and you will gain a quiet heart by it: you will have a glorious victory, and then you may return here and be happy.” He looked at her with tears in his eyes : “ Brave Emma! good Emma ! If there were more Emmas, there would be more Nelsons.”

His services were as willingly accepted as they were offered ; and Lord Barham, giving him the list of the navy, desired him to choose his own officers.

• Choose yourself

, my lord,” was his reply : “the same spirit actuates the whole profession; you cannot choose wrong." Lord Barham then desired him to say what ships, and how many, he would wish, in addition to the fleet which he was going to command, and said they should follow him as soon as each was ready. No appointment was ever more in unison with the feelings and judgment of the whole nation. They, like Lady Hamilton, thought that the destruction of the combined fleets ought properly to be Nelson's work; that he who had been

Half around the sea-girt bail,

The hunter of the recreant Gaul,* ought to reap the spoils of the chase which he had watched so long, and so perseveringly pursued.

Unremitting exertions were made to equip the ships which he had chosen, and especially to refit the Victory, which was once more to bear his flag. Before he left London, he called at his upholsterer's, where the coffin which Captain Hallowell had given him was deposited, and desired that its history might be engraven upon the

* Songs of Trafalgar.



lid, saying it was highly probable he might want it on his return. He seemed, indeed, to have been impressed with an expectation that he should fall in the battle. In a letter to his brother, written immediately after his return, he had said, “We must not talk of Sir Robert Calder's battle—I might not have done so much with my small force. If I had fallen in with them, you might probably have been a lord before I wished ; for I know they meant to make a dead set at the Victory.Nelson had once regarded the prospect of death with gloomy satisfaction; it was when he anticipated the upbraidings of his wife, and the displeasure of his venerable father. The state of his feelings now was expressed, in his private journal, in these words—“ Friday night (Sept. 13), at half-past ten, I drove from dear, dear Merton ; where I left all which I hold dear in this world, to go to serve my King and country. May the great God whom I adore enable me to fulfil the expectations of my country! and if it is his good pleasure that I should return, my thanks will never cease being offered up to the throne of his mercy. If it is his good providence to cut short my days upon earth, I bow with the greatest submission ; relying that he will protect those so dear to me, whom I may leave behind. His will be done! Amen! amen ! amen !"

Early on the following morning he reached Portsmouth, and, having despatched his business on shore, endeavoured to elude the populace by taking a by-way to the beach ; but a crowd collected in his train, pressing forward to obtain a sight of his face. Many were in tears, and many knelt down before him and blessed him as he passed. England has had many heroes, but never one who so entirely possessed the love of his fellow-countrymen as Nelson. All men knew that his heart was as humane as it was fearless ; that there was not in his nature the slightest alloy of selfishness or cupidity ; but that, with perfect and entire devotion, he served his country with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his

strength; and therefore they loved him as truly and as fervently as he loved England. They pressed upon the parapet, to gaze after him when his barge pushed off, and he was returning their cheers by waving his hat. The sentinels, who endeavoured to prevent them from trespassing upon this ground, were wedged among the crowd; and an officer who, not very prudently upon such an occasion, ordered them to drive the people down with their bayonets, was compelled speedily to retreat ; for the people would not be debarred from gazing till the last moment upon the hero, the darling hero of England !

He arrived off Cadiz on the 29th of September, his birthday. Fearing that, if the enemy knew his force, they might be deterred from venturing to sea, he kept out of sight of land, desired Collingwood to fire no salute, and hoist no colours, and wrote to Gibraltar to request that the force of the fleet might not be inserted there in the Gazette. His reception in the Mediterranean fleet was as gratifying as the farewell of his countrymen at Portsmouth; the officers, who came on board to welcome him, forgot his rank as commander in their joy at seeing him again. On the day of his arrival Villeneuve received orders to put to sea the first opportunity. Villeneuve, however, hesitated, when he heard that Nelson had resumed the command. He called a council of war; and their determination was that it would not be expedient to leave Cadiz unless they had reason to believe themselves stronger by one-third than the British force. In the public measures of this country secresy is seldom practicable, and seldom attempted : here, however, by the precautions of Nelson, and the wise measures of the Admiralty, the enemy were for once kept in ignorance ; for as the ships appointed to reinforce the Mediterranean fleet were despatched singly, each as soon as it was ready, their collected number was not stated in the newspapers, and their arrival was not known to the enemy. But the enemy knew that Admiral Louis, with six sail, had been detached for stores and water to Gibraltar. Accident

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