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#2058: Willa Cather to Roscoe Cather, April 18 [1908]

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My Dear Boy1;

At three oclock this afternoon we sighted Portugal, Cape St Vincent4, and ever since we have been sailing very softly along this shore which is pretty nearly holy ground to them as speak the English tongue. In a few hours we will be in Trafalgar Bay2, where Nelson5 broke Napoleon's6 fleet for good. He chased the French fleet all up and down this coast as far as Cape St–Vincent, and the bottom all along here is strewn with french and the bones of Frenchmen and Spaniards and Italians that went down. Our English captain confessed to me this afternoon that he never steams down this coast without thinking of it and setting his heels[?] tighter on his bridge. I keep seeing Nelson on his great column7 in Trafalgar Square in London8, and thinking of the letter he wrote Lady Hamilton9 the night before the battle, which I saw in the British Museum10. All up and down here Nelson chased them. "If Blood be the price of admiralty."11 I love to think of all those bones along the bottom here. I love to think of the little admiral chasing them up and down. I love to think how here the English navy was exalted above all the navies of the earth. And when he had chased 'em up and down and cleaned the waters of 'em, the little admiral up and died. And they put him up on his column in London and Landseer12 made his bronze lions to guard him, and the English people loved Lady Hamilton better than the queen because Lord Nelson had loved her.

I wish you could see these soft gray waters, and the wild bleak Portugal coast, and could sit here with me and think about all their bones down below.