I accidentally set my novella, Candle’s Christmas Chair, in the months that saw the naval power of France broken at Trafalgar. When I realised, I made sure that my hero was present at Bath’s premier coaching inn when the news arrived from London.
The victory was massive. The British navy won against a considerably larger force, and won decisively. They lost 449 men and none of their 33 ships; on the other side, the French and Spanish lost more than 4,000 men and, 22 of their 40 ships.
But joy in England was tempered by grief, as her greatest naval hero had died in the battle.
The Morning Chronicle (November 8, 1805)
Why o’er the dark and troubled deep
Is heard at times a mournful noise;
While Victors midst their triumphs weep,
The vanquish’d in their fall rejoice!
Why burst the sobs of yonder Tars,
But now triumphant o’er the foe;
Unmindful of their gory scars,
Their tears that now first learn to flow?
For NELSON’S death their tears are shed,
And grief alone their thoughts employs;
Ev’n Vict’ry’s self reclines her head,
And weeping checks her wonted joys.
Stern MARS, as ‘midst the fight he raves,
Shall ev’ry dreadful peal prolong;
And NEPTUNE roll his gory waves,
To sound their fav’rite’s fun’ral song.
And while on high her Warrior’s tomb
Thy weeping country grateful rears;
Thy laurels o’er it e’er shall bloom,
Still water’d by a Nation’s tears.