Imágenes de página


It was soon perceived upon examination, that the wound was mortal.

This, however was concealed from all except Captain Hardy, the chaplain, and the medical attendants. He himself being certain, from the sensation in his back, and the gush of blood he felt momently within his breast, that no human care could avail him, insisted that the surgeon should leave him, and attend to those to whom he might be useful ; "for,” said he, "you can do nothing for me."

All that could be done was to fan him with paper, and frequently to give him lemonade to alleviate his intense thirst. He was in great pain, and expressed much anxiety for the event of the action, which now began to declare itself. As often as a ship struck, the crew of the Victory hurraed; and at every hurra, a visible expresssion of joy gleamed in the eyes, and marked the countenance of the dying hero. But he became impatient to see Hardy ; and as that officer, though often sent for, could not leave the deck, Nelson feared that some fatal cause prevented him, and repeatedly cried : “Will no one bring Hardy to me? he must be killed ! he is surely dead ?" An hour and ten minutes elapsed from the time when Nelson received his wound, before Hardy could come to him.


“Dulce et decorum est pro patriâ mori.”

Mox inspecto volnere mortem impendere apparuit: quod tamen nemini nisi Petreio, sacerdoti et medicis patefactum. Ipse, se medicinâ sanari non posse acri in tergo dolore intraque pectus sanguine identidem prope profuso monitus, instabat ut a se abiret medicus, aliisque operam daret, quibus usui esse posset, quoniam sibi nihil profuturus esset. Itaque nihil manebat nisi chartâ ventilando refrigerare, frigidoque mulso assidue dato improbam sitim allevare. Gravi corporis dolori accessit animi gravis de inclinatâ jam pugna fortunâ sollicitudo. Quoties enim signa alicujus navis hostes demiserunt, toties, clamore læto a prætoriæ navis militibus sublato, gaudio fulgere visi sunt oculi morientis. At quum Petreius, quem convenire jamdudum gestiebat, sæpius arcessitus foros relinquere nollet, veritus ille ne quid amico humanitus accidisset, num quem, clamitabat, ad se Petreium ducturum ? Nimirum mortuum esse. Post hora spatium ex quo volnus acceptum erat, venit tandem

est moment.

They shook hands in silence: Hardy in vain struggling to suppress the feelings of that most painful and yet sublim"Well, Hardy," said Nelson, "how goes the day with us? "Very well," replied Hardy; "ten ships have struck, but five of the van have tacked, and show an intention to bear down upon the Victory. I have called two or three of our fresh ships round, and have no doubt of giving them a drubbing." "I hope," said Nelson, "none of our ships have struck." Hardy answered, "there was no fear of that." Then, and not till then, Nelson spoke of himself. "I am a dead man, Hardy," said he; "I am going fast it will be all over with me soon. Come nearer

to me."

By this time all feeling below the breast was gone; and Nelson, having made the surgeon ascertain this, said to him: "You know I am gone. I know it. I feel something rising in my breast," putting his hand on his left side, "which tells me so." And upon Beatty's inquiring whether his pain was very great, he replied, "so great, that he wished he was dead. Yet," said he, in a lower voice, 66 one would like to live a little longer too!" And after a few minutes, in the same undertone, he added: "What would become of poor Lady Hamilton, if she knew my situation!" Next to his country she occupied his thoughts Captain Hardy, some fifty minutes after he had left the cockpit, returned; and, again taking the hand of his dying friend and commander, congratulated him on having gained a complete victory. How many of the enemy were taken he did not know, as it was impossible to perceive them distinctly; but fourteen or fifteen at least. "That's well," cried Nelson, "but I bargained for twenty."

Petreius, qui, dextrâ silentio datâ, propter clarissimum magni hominis fatum inter gaudium doloremque dubius, se a lacrimis non potuit continere. “Nobisne,” inquit Pompeius, "bene est ?” “Optime," respondit, "cepimus enim decem naves, et quinque ex primâ acie velis retrorsum datis impetum jam in prætoriam facturas, integris aliquot navibus evocatis, facile profligabimus." "Num quæquam," inquit “nostrarum capta est ?” Quod cum negasset Petreius, tum primam de se ipso mentionem fecit; “Actum de me est, 0 Petrei; nec longa mihi in terris mora; accedes propius."

[ocr errors]


Quum autem nullum jam infra pectus sensum reliquum esse roganti ipsi jam rei gnarus medicus respondisset, “Scis," ait Pompeius, “me vixisse ; et ego scio; surgit enim nescio quid intra pectus (lævum latus ostendens) quod hoc prænuntiat." Tum, rogatus a medico num gravis

” esset dolor, adeo gravem, respondit, ut se mortuum esse mallet, at jucundum tamen fore, pergit dicere suppressâ voce, paullo longius vivere. Brevi postea eâdem voce, “Quid Corneliâ meâ fiet, si hæc compererit ?" (Patriæ enim primas illi secundas deferebat.) Redit tandem Petreius, qui horam prope abfuerat, et morienti, dextrâ iterum acceptâ, victoriam reportatam gratulatur. Se quot navium hostilium captæ essent discernere non potuisse, non minus tamen quatuordecim aut quindecim existimare. Bene esse clamat Pompeius: speravisse tamen viginti se circumventurum fuisse.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

The death of Nelson was felt in England as something more than a public calamity: men started at the intelligence, and turned pale, as if they heard of the loss of a dear friend. An object of our admiration and affection, of our pride, and of our hopes, was suddenly taken from us; and it seemed as if we had never till then known how deeply we loved and reverenced him. What the country had lost in its great naval hero—the greatest of our own and of all former times—was scarcely taken into the account of grief. So perfectly, indeed, had he performed his part, that the maritime war, after the battle of Trafalgar, was considered at an end.

The fleets of the enemy were not merely defeated, but destroyed; new navies must be built, and a new race of seamen reared for them, before the possibility of their invading our shores could again be contemplated. It was not, therefore, from any selfish reflection upon the magnitude of our loss that we mourned for him : the general sorrow

was of a higher character. The people of England grieved that funeral ceremonies, and public monuments, and posthumous rewards, were all which they could now bestow upon him whom the king, the legislature, and the nation would have alike delighted to honour; whom every tongue would have blessed; whose presence in every village through which he might have passed would have wakened the church-bells, have given schoolboys a holiday, have drawn children from their sports to gaze upon him, and “old men from the chimney corner Nelson ere they died. The victory of Trafalgar was celebrated, indeed, with the usual forms of rejoicing, but they were without joy; for such already was the glory of the British navy, through Nelson's surpassing genius, that it scarcely seemed to receive any addition from the most signal victory that ever was achieved upon the seas; and the destruction of this mighty fleet, by which all the maritime schemes of France were totally frustrated, hardly appeared to add to our security or strength; for, while Nelson was living to watch the combined squadrons of the enemy, we felt ourselves as secure as now, when they were no longer in existence.

to look upon

« AnteriorContinuar »