Trafalgar: A perspective on Nelson

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Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson KB was shot by a single bullet to his left breast during the pitch of the battle of Trafalgar. Was it a stray bullet, one of many, or a concerted effort by a marksman to take out the Commander in Chief? Who knows. I am left thinking, however, about what in the world Nelson was doing wandering pointedly up and down deck whilst others were keeping their heads down. Looking at the facts, there were two burning concerns on his mind: that he had (a) stormed men into battle in such a direct way that could be termed reckless by historians less liable to respect Nelson's status as a 'hero', and (b) he was aware that the prevailing weather conditions were about to get very nasty indeed. Grounds, I would say, to down a few jars of ship's rum in order to mettle up some courage and support the old British 'gung ho' spirit, pardon the pun.

So here's Nelson, puffed up with alcohol like one of the lads on a Saturday night scratching cars with keys, daring his mates to balance on the viaduct wall over the motorway, because it seems like a good laugh at the time.

With the two issues plaguing his conscience, did it cross Nelson's mind that the battle may be futile, that there was no chance of the British fleet coming out of it in victory?
His words beforehand...
"Thus it may be exemplified by my Life that perseverance in any profession will most probably meet its reward. Without having any inheritance, or having been fortunate in prize-money, I have received all the Honours of my Profession, been created a Peer of Great Britain and received many rewards from different potentates and states. Therefore I may say to the Reader: Go thou, and do likewise!"

Nelson was proud to represent his monarch and country; he knew that in the very depths of his darkest imaginings, if the fleet were to suffer at the hands of his enemy, he could not bear the stigma of failure. Yet he also knew that to take his own life was the mark of a coward, and he would not tolerate such weakness.

So was it suicide that made him walk the deck, head aloft, when all else were dodging fire?

Well, it's a thought.

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