• $3.99

Publisher Description

If the reader should at any time find himself a visitor to the first naval port of Great Britain—which he need not be told is Portsmouth—he will find, lying placidly in the noble harbour, which is large enough to accommodate a whole fleet, a vessel of modern-antique appearance, and evidently very carefully preserved. Should he happen to be there on October 21st, he would find the ship gaily decorated with wreaths of evergreen and flags, her appearance attracting to her side an unusual number of visitors in small boats from the shore. Nor will he be surprised at this when he learns that it is none other than the famousVictory, that carried Nelson’s flag on the sad but glorious day of Trafalgar, and went bravely through so many a storm of war and weather. Very little of the oft-shattered hulk of the original vessel remains, it is true—she has been so often renewed and patched and painted; yet the lines and form of the old three-decker remain to show us what the flag-ship of Hood, and Jervis, and Nelson was in general appearance. She towers grandly out of the water, making the few sailors and loiterers on deck look like marionettes—mere miniature men; and as our wherry approaches the entrance-port, we admire the really graceful lines of the planks, diminishing in perspective. The triple battery of formidable guns, peeping from under the stout old ports which overshadowed them, the enormous cables and spare anchors, and the immensely thick masts, heavy shrouds and rigging, which she had in old times, must have given an impression of solidity in this good old “heart of oak” which is wanting even in the strongest-built iron vessel. Many a brave tar has lost his life on her, but yet she is no coffin-ship. On board, one notes the scrupulous order, the absolute perfection of cleanliness and trimness; the large guns and carriages alternating with the mess-tables of the crew. And we should not think much of the man who could stand emotionless and unmoved over the spots—still pointed out on the upper deck and cockpit below—where Nelson fell and Nelson died, on that memorable 21st, off Trafalgar Bay. He had embarked, only five weeks before, from the present resting-place of his brave old ship, when enthusiastic crowds had pressed forward to bless and take one last look at England’s preserver. “I had their hurrahs before,” said the poor shattered hero; “now I have their hearts!”And when, three months later, his body was brought home, the sailors divided the leaden coffin into fragments, as relics of “Saint Nelson,” as his gunner had termed him.

March 18
Library of Alexandria
The Library of Alexandria

More Books by Frederick Whymper