Friday, 14 September 2012

On This Day... 14th September 1805

On the 14th September 1805, Nelson boarded HMS Victory at Portsmouth for the last time, after just a few weeks spent with his family after more than two years at sea.  He was to take command of the fleet that would, in a little over a month's time, meet the combined fleet of France and Spain in the decisive Battle of Trafalgar.

Before boarding the Victory, Nelson had written the following heart-felt, melancholy and almost prophetic prayer in his journal:

Friday night at half past Ten drove from dear dear Merton where I left all which I hold most dear in this World to go to serve my King & Country.  May the Great God whom I adore enable me to fullfil 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 that I may leave behind.  His will be done Amen Amen Amen 
National Archive, catalogue reference PROB 1/22

Nelson had on several previous pre-battle occasions dramatically declared, in letters to friends and family, his likelihood to die during the action.  But somehow this is different.  It is a calm acceptance, yet also a plea, in one, between his own private thoughts, and his God.  Quite poignant, I think. 
Nelson leaving Portsmouth to board the Victory.

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