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AUTHENTIC ACCOUNT OF THE DEATH OF LORD NELSON.

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While transcribing posts from old newspaper articles regarding HMS Bellerophon, I came across the following today...

 

Belfast Commercial Chronicle - Monday 6 January 1806

AUTHENTIC ACCOUNT OF THE DEATH OF LORD NELSON.

            About the middle of the action with the Combined fleets, on the 21st of October, Lord Nelson was upon the quarter deck, where he had resolved to take his station during the whole of the battle.  A few minutes before he was wounded, Mr. Bourke was near him; he looked steadfastly at him, and said, "Bourke, I expect every man to be upon his station."  Mr. Bourke took the hint, and went to his proper station in the cockpit.

            At this time his Lordship's Secretary, Mr. Scott, who was not, as has been represented, either receiving directions from him, or standing by him, but was communicating some orders to an officer at a distant part of the quarter-deck, was cut almost in two by a cannon shot.  He was expired on the instant, and was thrown overboard.

            Lord Nelson observed the act of throwing his Secretary overboard, and said, as if doubtful, to a Midshipman who was near him, "was that Scott?"  The Midshipman replied, he believed it was.. He exclaimed, "Poor fellow!"

            He was now walking the quarter-deck, and about three yards from the stern, the space he generally walked before he turned back.  His Lordship was in the act of turning on the quarter-deck, with his face towards the enemy, when he was mortally wounded in the left breast by a musket-ball, supposed to have been fired from the mizen-top [sic] of the Redoubtable French ship of the line, which the Victory had attacked early in the battle.

            He instantly fell.  He was not, as has been related, picked up by Captain Hardy.  In the hurry of the battle, which was then raging in the greatest violence, even the fall of their beloved Commander did not interrupt the business of the quarter-deck.  Two sailors, however, who were near his Lordship, raised him in their arms, and carried him to the cockpit,  He was immediately laid upon a bed, and the following is the substance of the conversation which really took place in the cockpit, between his Lordship, Capt. Hardy, Mr. Bourke, and Beatty:

Upon seeing him brought down, Mr. Bourke immediately ran to him.  "I fear," he said, " your Lordship is wounded."---"Mortally, mortally."---"I hope not, my dear Lord; let Mr. Beatty examine your wounds."---"It is of no use," exclaimed the dying Nelson, "he had better attend to others."

            Mr. Beatty now approached to examine the wound---his Lordship was raised up; and Beatty, whose attention was anxiously fixed upon the eyes of his patient, as an indication the most certain when the wound is mortal, after a few moments glanced his eye on Bourke, and expressed his opinion in his countenance.  Lord Nelson now turned to Bourke, and said, "Tell Hardy to come to me."  Bourke left the cockpit.  Beatty now said, "suffer me, my Lord, to probe the wound with my finger; I will give you no pain."  Lord Nelson permitted him, and, passing his left hand around his waist, he probed it with the fore-finger of his right.

            The description of the surgeon, however, is so accurate and scientific, that, by his permission, we thankfully give it:

            "On his Lordship's being brought below, he complained of acute pain in about the sixth or seventh dorsal veterbra [sic], of privation of sense, and motion of the body and inferior extremities; his respiration was short and difficult; his pulse weak, small, and irregular; he frequently declared his back was shot through---that he felt every instant a gush of blood within his breast; and that he had sensations which indicated to him the approach of death.  In the course of an hour his pulse became indistinct, and was gradually lost in the arm; his extremities and forehead became some afterwarde [sic] cold: he retained his wonted energy of mind and exercise if his faculties; until the latest mement [sic] of his existence; and when Victory, as signal as decisive, was announced to him, he expressed his pious acknowledgements thereof, and heart-felt satisfaction at the glorious event, in the most emphatic language.  He then delivered his last orders with his usual precision, and, in a few minutes after expired without a struggle"

COURSE AND SITE OF THE BALL ASCERTAINED SINCE DEATH.

            "The ball stuck the fore-part of his Lordship's epaulette, and entered the left shoulder immediately before the prosessus acromion scapulae, which it slightly fractured: it then descended obliquely into the thorax, fracturing the second and third ribs; and, after penetrating the left lobe of the lungs, and dividing in its passage a large branch of the pulmonary artery, it entered the left side of the spine, between the sixth and seventh dorsal vertebrae, wounded the medulla spinalis, and, fracturing the right transverse process of the seventh vertebrae, it made its way from the right side of the spine, directing its course through the muscles of the back, and lodged therein, about two inches below the inferior angle of the right scapula.---On removing the ball, a portion of the gold lace and pad of the epaulette, together with a small piece of his Lordship's coat, were found firmly attached to it.

"W. BEATTY, SURGEON."

When Bourke returned into the cockpit with Captain Hardy, Lord Nelson told the latter to come near him.---"Kiss me, Hardy," he exclaimed.---Captain Hardy kissed his cheek,---"I hope your Lordship," he said, "will still live to enjoy your triumph."---"Never Hardy!" he exclaimed, "I am dying---I am a dead man all over---Beatty will tell you so---bring the fleet to an anchor---you have all done your duty---God bless you."---Captain Hardy now said, "I suppose Collingwood, my dear Lord, is to command the fleet."---"Never," he exclaimed, "whist I live," ---meaning, doubtless, that, so long as his gallant spirit survived, he would never desert his duty.

            What passed after that was merely casual: his Lordship's last words were to Mr. Beatty, whilst he was expiring in his arms, "I could have wished to have lived to enjoy this; but God's will be done."---"My Lord." exclaimed Hardy, "you die in the midst of triumph"---"Do I, Hardy I" [?" - sic] ---He smiled faintly---"God be praised!"  These were his last words before he expired.

 

            At the funeral of Lord Nelson of the 9th, the whole of the Morning Service will take place prior to the burial Service.  The cable that now extends from the top of the dome, in ST.PAUL'S, is intended to hang all the colours of the different powers, taken by the gallant Lord. At the top will be displayed the English flag of the Victory, which , on a signal being given, will be lowered into the grave, with the remains of the ever to be lamented Noble Tar.

            The Plate upon Lord NELSON'S coffin is gold.---The dimensions are to be thirteen inches by nine.  It is to be the same size as the Duke of GLOUSHESTER'S.  His MAJESTY'S goldsmith is preparing it.  The following inscription is to be upon it:---

DEPOSITUM.

The Most Nobel Lord HORATIO NELSON,

Viscount and Baron NELSON of the Nile,

and of

Burnham Thorpe, in the County of Norfolk.

Baron NELSON of the Nile, and of Hillborough, in the said

Country.

Knight of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath;

Vice-Admiral of the White Squadron of the Fleet;

and,

Commander-in-Chief of his Majesty's Ships and Vessels in the

Mediterranean.

Also,

Duke of BRONTE, in Sicily;

Knight Grand Cross of the Sicilian Order of St. Ferdinand,

and of Merit.

Member of the Ottoman Order of St. Joachim.

Born September 29, 1758.

After a series of transcendent and heroic  Services,  this Gallant

Admiral fell gloriously, in the moment of a brilliant and de-

cisive Victory over the Combined Fleets of France and Spain,

off Cape Trafalgar, on the 21st of October 1805.

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Great Find!!!  I, like you, sometimes find the hunt for contemporary information as much fun as the build.  I truly admire the pre-internet authors who's research was so thorough, but without the aid of the web!  

Allan

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