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questions of lord Nelson on the subject ended in 1805. disappointment. The four-decker's flag at the best mizen could be made out, and some signals were vain occasionally seen at the main of two or three of the search ships, but no french flag at the fore.* Often did fag. the little man himself, with his remaining eye, cast an anxious glance towards the franco-spanish line in search of the ship which he meant the Victory first to grapple with ; and so lightly did lord Nelson value personal risk, that, although urged more than once on the subject, he would not suffer those barriers from the enemy's grape and musketry, the hammocks, to be placed one inch higher than, to facilitate his view of objects around him, they were accustomed to be stowed. The Victory, meanwhile, was slowly advancing to a gun-shot distance from the enemy's line.
At 20 minutes past noon, which was about 20 minutes after the Fougueux had opened her fire upon the Royal-Sovereign, and about 10 after the latter had passed under the stern of the Santa-Ana, the Bucentaure fired a shot at the Victory, then, with studding-sails set on both sides, steering about Viceast, and going scarcely a knot and a half through tory the water. The shot fell short. Two or three minutes elapsed, and a second shot was fired; which, the Victory then about a mile and a quarter distant, fell alongside.
A third shot almost immediately followed, and that went over the ship. One or two others did the same, until, at length, a shot went through the Victory's main topgallantsail; affording to the enemy the first visible proof that his shot would reach. A minute or two of awful silence ensued; and then, as if by signal from the french admiral, the whole van, or at least seven or eight of the weathermost ships, opened a fire upon the
* It was probably signals, made when the Victory was much closer, that gave rise to the following entry in the log of the Spartiate: “Observed her bearing down between a spanish fourdecker and a french two-decker, with admiral's flags at the main.”
1805. Victory, such a fire as had scarcely before been Oct. directed at a single ship. In a few minutes a round
shot killed Mr. John Scott, lord Nelson's public Death secretary, while he was conversing with captain Scott: Hardy.
Since the commencement of the firing the wind had gradually died away to a mere breath. Still the Victory, driven onward by the swell and the remains of her previous impetus, was going slowly ahead, in the direction, now, of the interval between the Santisima-Trinidad and Bucentaure; both of which ships, aided occasionally by the Redoutable astern of the latter, continued upon her a very heavy and destructive fire. To this heavy and unremitting
cannonade the Victory neither did, nor from her Vic- position could, bestow any return. In a very few fires an minutes, however, after the firing had opened upon acci- her, one of the foremost guns on the starboard side
went off by accident. In a private ship this would scarcely have been noticed; but, as happening on board the ship of the commander in chief, it excited the attention of the fleet, and was minuted down in
the log of one ship, the Polyphemus, as a real comcaused mencement of the action by the Victory; thus : by it.
“ About 20 m. past 12 Victory fired upon by the enemy's van, which was returned with a few of her foremost guns on the starboard side.”
Seeing, by the direction of her course, that the
Victory was about to follow the example of the centre Royal-Sovereign, the french and spanish ships ahead
of the british weather column closed like a forest. bined This movement, aided by the stoppage in the head
way of the Santa-Ana, and by the bearing up of the two spanish ships ahead of her in the manner already related, divided the combined line nearly in the centre, leaving, including the Redoutable from her station astern of the San-Leandro, 14 ships in the van, and 19 in the rear, with an interval between them of at least three quarters of a mile.
Just as she had got within about 500 yards of the
The mis. take
the of the com
larboard beam of the Bucentaure the Victory's mizen 1805, topmast was shot away about two thirds up. A shot also struck and knocked to pieces the wheel ; Vicand the ship was obliged to be steered in the gun- tory room, the first lieutenant (John Quilliam) and mas- her ter (Thomas Atkinson) relieving each other at this mizen duty. Scarcely had two minutes elapsed before mast. a double-headed shot killed eight marines on the poop, and wounded several others : on which the admiral ordered captain Adair to disperse his men round the ship, that they might not suffer so much from being together. Presently a shot, that had come through a thickness of four hammocks near the larboard chess-tree, and had carried away a part of the larboard quarter of the launch as she lay on the booms, struck the fore-brace bits on the quarterdeck, and passed between lord Nelson and captain Hardy; a splinter from the bits bruising the left Capt. foot of the latter, and tearing the buckle from his Hardy shoe. “ They both,” says doctor Beatty, “ instantly ed. stopped, and were observed by the officers on deck to survey each other with inquiring looks, each supposing the other to be wounded. His lordship then smiled and said, “This is too warm work, Hardy, to last long; and declared that, through all the battles he had been in, he had never witnessed more :: cool courage than was displayed by the Victory's crew on this occasion."*
In a few seconds afterwards, as the Bucentaure slowly forged ahead, a large french ship was seen upon her lee quarter, and another ship astern of the former, in the act of ranging up, as if with the intention of completely closing the interval. Now it was that captain Hardy represented to lord Nelson the impracticability of passing through the line without running on board one of the ships. His lordship quickly replied, “ I cannot help it: it does not signify which we run on board of. Go on board
* Beatty's Narrative, p. 27.
1805, which you please : take your choice.”* At this Oct. moment, such had been the effect of the heavy and Vic- unremitting fire to which she had so long been extory's posed, the loss on board the Victory amounted to
20 officers and men killed, and 30 wounded ; a loss and da- that would have been still more severe, had not the
enemy's guns been pointed at the rigging and sails,
un boulet ne devait être perdu.”+
customary charge of one round shot and a keg
* Beatty's Narrative, p. 30.
According to the Victory's log, at four minutes past noon; but that would allow 14 minutes only for the Victory, with scarcely a breath of wind, to go a distance of at least a mile and a half. We know also that, owing to the death early in the action of the two persons whose places in succession) it was to take minutes, the log entries were written the next day. Moreover the log of the Spartiate, one of the best kept in the fleet, says: "At 12 h. 59 m. Victory commenced firing.'
decker, as she rolled, touched the vangs of her
opponent's gaff: so close indeed, that, had there been wind enough to blow it out, the large french ensign trailing at the Bucentaure's peak might, even at this early period of the action, have been a trophy in the hands of the Victory's crew. While listening, with characteristic avidity, to the deafening crash mediate made by their shot in the french ship's hull, the bri- effect tish crew were nearly suffocated with the clouds of the Vicblack smoke that entered the Victory's portholes; tory's and lord Nelson, captain Hardy, and others that were walking the quarterdeck, had their clothes covered with the dust which issued from the crumbled wood-work of the Bucentaure's stern. The position of the Victory just as, while receiving into her bows the foremost guns of a french 74 and the whole broadside of a french 80, she is about to pour her broadside into the stern of a second french 80, we have endeavoured to illustrate hy the first set of figures in the following diagram.