Friday, October 21, 2005

Trafalgar 200

Today, Britain celebrates the battle of Trafalgar, the final victory of Lord Nelson and the one that really put paid to Napoleon's extra-Continental hopes. Aboard HMS Victory tonight, the Queen will offer the traditional toast to "the Immortal Memory." Lots of good links on the BBC page here.

In the morning hours as the British fleet approached the combined French and Spanish fleets, Nelson retired to his cabin for a few moments and wrote this beautiful prayer which I would like to share:

May The Great God whom I worship grant to my country and for the benefit of Europe in general, a great and glorious victory; and may no misconduct in anyone tarnish it; and may humanity after victory be the predominant feature of the British Fleet. For myself individually I commit my life to Him who made me, and may this blessing light upon my endeavours for serving my country faithfully. To Him I resign myself and the just cause which is entrusted to me to defend. Amen. Amen. Amen.

Shot by a French sniper, the great admiral died hours later at the moment of victory. Probably there could have been no more appropriate end to the battle and to Nelson's remarkable life.

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