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.