Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 40.djvu/211

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no company, and he refused permission to those under his command to accept or offer hospitality. Nelson's arrival changed this system. Those officers who already knew him thronged to greet him as an old friend, and those who were yet strangers to him were at once won by the fascination of his manner and kindly courtesy (Bourchier, Life of Sir Edward Codrington, i. 51).

From the first his aim was to get the enemy out of their port, and with this in view he tightened the blockade, completely stopping the coasting trade on which Cadiz was largely dependent for its supplies. At the same time he carefully kept the fleet out of sight of land, fearing lest his increasing numbers should give Villeneuve an excuse for staying in port. He did not of course know that Napoleon, on the other hand, was bringing very strong pressure on Villeneuve to invite an engagement. But, though confident that even with inferior numbers he should defeat the enemy, Nelson urgently begged the admiralty to send him reinforcements. ‘Should they come out,’ he wrote on 5 Oct., ‘I should immediately bring them to battle; but though I should not doubt of spoiling any voyage they may attempt, yet I hope for the arrival of the ships from England, that as an enemy's fleet they may be annihilated.’ And on the 6th: ‘It is annihilation that the country wants, and not merely a splendid victory of twenty-three to thirty-six—honourable to the parties concerned, but absolutely useless in the extended scale to bring Bonaparte to his marrow-bones. Numbers can only annihilate, therefore I hope the admiralty will send the fixed force as soon as possible.’ And all this time he was maturing a plan of battle which he is said, though on doubtful evidence, to have sketched out while still in England. On 9 Oct. he issued his celebrated memorandum, explaining his intention of fighting in the order of sailing in two columns, at once to save time and to concentrate his whole force on the rear of the enemy. The details were outlined, and during the following days the plan was talked over and discussed with Collingwood, the second in command, Northesk, the third, and the several captains, so that when the time came every officer in the fleet perfectly understood what he had to do.

Notwithstanding his desire to have a numerically strong fleet, Nelson was obliged to send a detachment of six ships to Gibraltar to water [see Louis, Sir Thomas], and Villeneuve hearing, on 18 Oct., the news of their arrival there, thought the moment a favourable one for yielding to Napoleon's orders and coarse invective. On the 19th the combined fleet began to leave the harbour, a circumstance immediately signalled to Nelson by the frigates and inshore squadron. On the 20th they were all out, and Nelson, judging that Villeneuve would make for the Straits, with the design of entering the Mediterranean, drew down so as to command the entrance. At daybreak on the 21st the enemy were seen off Cape Trafalgar, nearly due east from the English, and distant about twelve miles. They numbered thirty-three sail of the line, while Nelson had with him only twenty-seven. The wind was very light from the west-north-west, but a heavy swell foretold the approach of bad weather. Making the signals to form order of sailing in two columns and to prepare for battle, Nelson, leading the weather or northern column, at once stood towards the enemy. Collingwood led the lee or southern line, and, when Villeneuve, wishing probably to keep as near Cadiz as possible, tacked to the northward, he was able, without further manœuvring, to carry out the plan of falling on the enemy's rear. The wind, however, very light from the beginning, gradually died away to the faintest air, and the advance was extremely slow.

It was during this time, about eleven o'clock, that Nelson, retiring to his cabin, wrote the so-called codicil to his will, setting forth the services which he believed Lady Hamilton had rendered to the state, and leaving her, ‘a legacy to my king and country, that they will give her an ample provision to maintain her rank in life;’ leaving also ‘to the beneficence of my country my adopted daughter, Horatia Nelson Thompson.’ The codicil, witnessed by Hardy and Blackwood, was afterwards taken to England by Hardy, and lodged with the government. At the time it was thought inexpedient to make it public, on account of the reference to the Queen of Naples; and as Lady Hamilton was already amply provided for, and the government knew that as to the services rendered by Lady Hamilton Nelson had been wrongly informed, they did not feel it necessary to make any further grant (cf. Jeaffreson, Lady Hamilton, ii. 291–301). It has often been spoken of as a scandal that such services should have gone without reward. But the only point to which exception can be taken in the conduct of the government is that they did not relieve the woman whom Nelson had loved, and who was the mother of his child, after she had squandered the handsome income bequeathed her by Hamilton and Nelson, but allowed her to drag through her latter years in very reduced circumstances.

A little before twelve, as the head of the