Whenever I tell someone about my Nelson obsession, their first reaction is generally to ask why I'm such a huge fan, and to be honest, I don't really know either. So today, I'm trying to figure out why I love Nelson enough to want to dedicate my career to him.
First, I genuinely feel like I can relate to him, in terms of my personality. I'm not the most self-assured person in the world, so I try to cover that with bravado and false confidence. Unfortunately, this can lead people to assume that I am really like that, so they think I'm vain. The same thing was true of Nelson in his time, the difference being that most people still loved him regardless.
Second, there's always something amazing about anyone who can bounce back from the pit of despair caused by a serious injury. Most of the time, the examples we hear about concern disabled athletes. While their achievements are laudable and must not be disparaged, Nelson sets an equally sterling example in this respect. Not enough people fully understand or appreciate just how much pain, both physical and mental, that he went through after the loss of his arm. It is hard to imagine just how terrible it must have been for him to feel that his career was over just as he was on the cusp of glory. He felt that his whole life had been wasted. Fortunately, he was not, as he had feared 'a burden to my country' and his missing arm served as a very real reminder never to suffer defeat again.
Third, he seems to have been a genuinely kind and loving person. Yes, he left his wife, but that was out of character, and very few men at that time left their abandoned wives anything at all, let alone half their income. That aside, he was unfailingly generous, even when he couldn't really afford to be so, and earned the love and admiration of friends and strangers alike through his kindness and ability to appeal to everyone. He wasn't content with just his men's respect: he wanted them to love him, and love him they did, every one of them. The stories of sailors bursting into tears on hearing about Nelson's death are not myths or even exaggerations; they are a testimony to how much they loved their brave admiral, and how much he had cared for them. When he flew the signal 'England Expects', he knew already that every man would do his duty.
PS Just before I go: Exciting news! I am very lucky to get the chance to do a 6,000 word extended project that is wall-to-wall Nelson! My title is going to be 'Would Nelson have Succeeded without the Help of the Patronage Syst