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Woohoo! Nelson was born 254 years ago today, on 29 September 1758, in Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk! Happy Birthday, Horatio! 

Of course, I will be spending it throwing on as many Nelson/Trafalgar related documentaries and films as I can possibly fit in! 

Now, let's give a cheer for Lord Nelson! 

Hip hip! Huzzah!

 
 
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On this day, Thomas Masterman Hardy died 173 years ago in 1839! He is well known for being Nelson's flag captain at the Battle of Trafalgar and for kissing the dying admiral goodbye after giving him the news that he won his greatest victory ever. 
 He went on to become the First Sea Lord and a Vice-Admiral of the Blue. He died as Governor of Greenwich Hospital, where he was buried.

Despite being the most famous of Nelson's captain's, he is also one of the least known about. There's something about him which greatly intrigues me, and I'd love to learn more about him. I'll have to do a fuller blog post on him in the future! ;)

Respect for Thomas Hardy!

 
 
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 After over two years of active service in the Victory, Nelson had only a few weeks break to spend with his beloved family at his home in Merton. His love for Emma was as strong as ever, and he was delighted by little four-year Horatia, his and Emma's only surviving child. 
 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."

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At about six in the morning, a drowsy Nelson finally arrived at The George Hotel, after travelling through-out the night to Portsmouth. Awaiting him was the Reverend Henry Lancaster, Rector of  Merton, who had with him his young son, who was to join HMS Victory as a midshipman. Lancaster left with a little note that Nelson hurriedly scrawled for Emma, expressing his well wishes for her and little Horatia. 
 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

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He then set off on his famous walk through Portsmouth before embarking on the barge which was to take him to the Victory. Accompanying him were Coffin, Rose, Canning, and his secretaries John Scott and Reverend Alexander John Scott. 
 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.  

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Awaiting him on the beach was Captain Hardy and the Admiral's barge ready to take him to the Victory which was anchored at St. Helen's on the Eastern point of the Isle of Wight. Deeply touched by the adoring crowds, and after giving one last wave of his hat to the cheering crowds, he turned to Captain Hardy and said "I had their huzzahs before: I have their hearts now".
 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. 

 
 
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I've heard Nelson being described as "incredibly vain" in the past. When his flaws are being discussed, usually vanity is one of the first things that is mentioned. This is probably because if he didn't get the praise he felt he deserved, he was known to get into a bit of a strop! Even he himself confessed to  having a considerable ego. he would always wear his medals and orders with pride, and he was a brilliant self-publicist, doing whatever he could to enhance his reputation.
 But, despite this, he was often able to acknowledge his own weaknesses. And, far from believing himself the greatest person to have ever lived, he often sought advice from fellow officers, some of which of lesser rank than himself, and readily admitted their superiority.  Also, while praise was obviously something he seemed to crave, he certainly wasn't stingy when it came to giving someone else recognition if he felt they deserved it- in fact he was always very quick to praise his comrades. He clearly thought it important for all officers to be given their due- and, of course, he himself was no exception to that rule.
 He was desperate for attention and he did what ever he could to stand out from the crowd. In his own words, "if it be a sin to covet glory, I am the most offending soul alive". 
 His seeking constant praise was, I think, much less a product of vanity, and instead evidence of insecurity. His relationships with women seem to support this, as he was hungry for their love, but also for their approval of his naval exploits- which played a huge part in his love for Emma Hamilton, who was an abundant source of both affection and adulation. 
 It is often suggested that this stems from being the middle-child of a large family, especially after his mother died. If any of the stories of Nelson's dauntlessness as a child are somewhere near true, they were probably caused by the young boy's need for applause from his peers. 
 Perhaps, rather than being daring out of pure courageousness and a longing to help, he became a risk-taker because of his own desire to impress those around him. Makes you wonder what would have happened if Nelson had been given all the praise and attention he'd been deprived of as a child, and he never became the risk-taking, glory seeking hero we celebrate today? How would history have gone then?

 

    Author

    Hi there! I am second in command here at HMSH!
     My name is Rae-Rae and and I live in Worcestershire in the UK.
     I am a teen Nelson enthusiast and my passion has lasted since I was only nine- over seven years!
     I aim (rather ambitiously!) to rekindle the love of Nelson and his Navy for the younger generations and make him a well-known hero again. I want his memory never to fade!
     Please do check my YouTube channel for any Nelson-related videos, as I do post on there from time to time!

    http://www.youtube.com/raeraeandbunty/

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