Montreal Daily Star, 20 October 1900, page 6


To-Morrow is Trafalgar Day


And Britons all over the world will do honour to the Great Admiral.


Montreal’s Renovated Monument will be Unveiled this Afternoon by Lord Strathcona with appropriate ceremony.


(LondonDaily News)

On the 21st instant, the anniversary of Trafalgar, the Navy League will, as in Previous years, deposit memorial wreaths at the base of the monument o fLord Nelson.  In view of the fact that French and British soldiers are at present fighting shoulder to shoulder against barbarianism, the committee intimate that they consider it necessary to reiterate that the celebration is in no sense intended for the glorification of the signal victory over gallant foe-men in 1803, but solely to impress upon their fellow countrymen throughout the world that our national existence is dependent upon the command f the sea, and that such command can only be insured not by ships and guns alone, but by the resolve of the entire nation to lay to the heart of the lesson of Nelson’s life and death, unswerving devotion to duty.


After years and years of protest and agitation, the Nelson monument has been put into sound repair, and our citizens and strangers can now look upon it with some degree of pride.  Its erection was defrayed by the citizens of both races to the memory of the greatest of sea captains, who had in his early youth made the acquaintance of Canada and Canadians when in command of a sloop of war, on a visit to Quebec.  A romantic flirtation with one of the Ancient Capital’s “belles” came very near, it is said, losing his great services, and his fame to the British Navy.  As all historians state, and as every Briton knows, Trafalgar was a British victory of the greatest importance to the whole world, won by clever and strategic seamanship, great courage and devotion on the part of the sailors, dimmed by the death of Nelson.  It was his last fight and his grandest one.  On October 21st, 1803, the downfall of the great Napoleon again.  The great sea fight of Trafalgar was the forerunner of his defeat at Waterloo.  In fact many wise historians (military and naval) go so far as to state that Nelson won both Trafalgar and Waterloo.  Nelson, on the 21st October, 1805, with twenty-seven line-of-battle ships, attacked the French Admiral Villeneuve in the command of the combined fleets of thirty-three line-of-battle ships, French and Spanish.  The fight began shortly after noon and at 5 pm the battle was over, and the combined fleets ofFrance andSpain were totally defeated.  No fewer than eighteen ships of the line of the enemy were captured, destroyed, burnt or sunk.  The rest made to flight; and at that hour had practically ceased to exist as a fighting fleet.  So great an authority as Captain Mahan, USN, says of Trafalgar: “It has been an interest wholly unique as the only great naval campaign ever planned by this foremost Captain of modern times.”  And it is marvelous that Jervis, Nelson, Collingwod and Cornwallis, the great British Admirals, guessed so carefully at this crisis, the hidden plans and strategy of Napoleon and by more brilliant moves defeated them.  “Let us” said Napoleon, “be masters of the Straits for six hours, and we shall be masters of the world.”  The English Channel coast was the worst military problem the great French Emporer had to solve and found it a greater puzzle than crossing theAlps.  As Von Moltke is reported to have said after the Franco-German War: “There is no difficulty in getting an army intoEngland, the trouble would be to get it out again.” The German soldier was not forgetful of the British fleet if for the moment it had been  evaded. But “the streak of theSilverSea” guardedEngland, as it does to-day, from continental invasion, and as long as the British Navy is up to date and Nelson’s signal at Trafalgar warms up the blood of British Sailors, invasion will be found a cost costly affair to the power or powers who try it.


“Uprose the soul of him a star

On that brave day of ocean days;

It rolled the smoke from Trafalgar

To darken Austerlitz ablaze.

Are we the men of old, its light

Will point us under every sky

The path he took: and must we fight,

Our Nelson be our battle-cry!


He leads: we hear our Seaman’s call

In the roll of battles won:

For he isBritain’s Admiral

Till setting of her sun.”




Of Trafalgar Day, which still rouses and animates British tars wherever spoken or sung, has for many years been the cause of much learned and heated discussion among naval historians. According t Mr EE Fraser it was a little before twelve o’clock on the morning of Trafalgar, that Nelson directed his famous signal to be made to the fleet. The Victory was at the time about a mile and a half from the enemy’s line, slowly forging ahead before the faint breeze, under every sail she could set.  It is said that Nelson and Captain Blackwood, the officer commanding the frigate squadron were walking together on the quarterdeck watching the enemy’s fleet.  Presently the Admiral asked Captain Blackwood what he would consider a victory.

“If 14 of the enemy are taken” was the reply.

“I shall not be satisfied,” rejoined Nelson, “with less than 20.”

Then the Admiral asked if a signal was not advisable. 

“No, My Lord,” said Blackwod, “I think nothing more is needed.  The whole fleet seems to understand what they are about.”

But the admiral had already made up his mind, and turning in his last walk on the deck, went up to his Flag-Lieutenant, John Pasco, who was in charge of the signals.

Lieutenant (afterwards Admiral) Pasco states “His Lordship came to me on the poop, and after ordering certain signals to be made, about a quarter to noon, said : “Mr Pasco, I want to say to the fleet ‘England confides in every man will do his duty.’ “  He added, “You must be quick for I have no one more to add, which is for ‘close action.”

I replied, “If your Lordship will permit me to substitute ‘expects’ for ‘confides’ the signal will soon be completed, because the word ‘expect’ is in the vocabulary and ‘confides’ must be spelt.”

His Lordship replied in haste and with seeming satisfaction, “That will doPasco, make it directly.”

The famous message then went up, in twelve separate hoists, Lord Nelson’s word number rendered according to Sir Home Popham Telegraphic code- which had been supplied to the fleet as an experiment- with the numerical flags of the Admiralty Official Day Signal Book, the 1799 issue then in use.



233                  269                  863                  261                  471                  958

England           Expects            That                 Every               Man                 Will


229                  374                  4                      21                    19                    24

Do                    His                   D                      U                      T                      Y


On the last hoist being hauled down after being acknowledged by the ships of the fleet, Nelson is reported to have said to Blackwood: “Now I can do no more.  We must trust to the Great Disposer of all events and the justice of our cause. I thank God for this great opportunity of doing my duty.”

LieutenantPascosays, “When the Admiral’s message had been answered by a few ships in the van, he ordered me to make signal for “close action’ and to keep it up.  Accordingly I hoisted no 16 at the main top gallant mast head and there it remained until shot away.”  This signal, No 16, was Nelson’s favourite in all his great sea fights.


[Rest of article left off]




The unveiling of the recent repairs to the Nelson monument will take place this afternoon at half-past three o’clock, the ceremony being performed by Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal.  A detachment from the 1st Regiment Prince of Wales Fusiliers will act as guard of honour to His Lordship, and it is just possible that this will be supplemented by one from the Victoria Rifles, although nothing definite has been decided yet in regard to the latter.  The Imperial Army and Navy Veterans will be present, together with their fife and drum band.  Major Bond, president of the citizens committee under whose direction the repairs have been carried out, will preside.  At the close of the ceremony an informal reception will be held in honour of Lord Strathcona in the Chateau de Ramezay.

The Nelson monument was erected in 1808 to commemorate the battle of Trafalgar and the death of Nelson.  The contributors to the building fund included the names of French Canadians as well as those of their English-speaking fellow citizens.  One of the largest subscribers was the Seminary of St Sulpice.  About two years ago it was decided to repair the shaft and bas-reliefs and this work has since been done. The base of the monument is practically new, all the ornaments and inscriptions having been replaced by others cut out of solid limestone.  It is this portion of the monument which is to be unveiled to-morrow.


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