On his last day, he exchanged rings with a very emotional Emma at Merton Church, the closest they could get to marriage, and just before leaving for the final time, he sat by his little girl's bedside and watched her sleep, saying a prayer for her future. I can't help but wonder whether it crossed his mind to not return to his fleet. He had the family he had always longed for, and it must have been heart-breaking to leave them again, not knowing when he would come back, or even if he would come back. Either way, he finally tore himself from Emma and left Merton Place on Friday 13 September, writing in his journal, "At half past ten, drove from dear Merton, where I leave all which I hold dear in this world, to go and serve my king and country."
After breakfasting, Nelson visited the Royal Dockyard and discussed with the Commissioner, Sir Charles Saxton, the ships that were being fitted out to join his fleet. While he was there, he had time to witness the new Block Mills in action. These produced pulley blocks for ships and were the first stationary steam engines used by the Admiralty.
Accompanied by an old friend, Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin, he then returned to The George Hotel be bid farewell by the Vice President of the Board of Trade, George Rose, and Treasurer to the Navy, George Canning, who were to be joining him for dinner aboard the Victory.
The crowds were enormous, and Nelson left out the back of The George which went onto Penny Street. The masses of admires soon caught on, however, and anxiously followed him, trying desperately to catch a glimpse of him or (if they were very lucky!) shake his hand. He must have been feeling pretty epic at this point!
He walked down Pembroke Road and either crossed or walked on the path alongside the Governor's Green, where the Royal Garrison Church stands, and then went through a tunnel through the King's Bastion. He walked through a passage through the Spur Redoubt wall and onto the beach near to where the Clarence Pier is today.
On the long row to the Victory, which was anchored three miles away, Nelson must have had a lot of time to reflect. One cannot help but wonder how he must have been feeling.