Hey there blogosphere! Yes, I know I have been away for a long time and I am so very, very sorry :(. Quite a lot has happened since my last post and I haven't really been able to write anything.
Firstly, since going into Year 10 my workload has been ratcheted up quite substantially and so a lot of my free time has been spent obsessively scouring various websites looking for past papers and trying them out. (Nerd.)
Anyway, I'm back and today's topic is... The patronage system!
As I mentioned in my last post about a million years ago, over the summer I was working on a project on whether or not Nelson would have succeeded without the patronage system. I must say that I was quite surprised by what I found out. Before doing the project, I knew a bit about patronage and also its less honest side - falsifying sea time, lying about ages, most of the mids on a ship being friends or relatives of the captain and so on. So that wasn't what surprised me. What did surprise me was how much this went on and how terribly difficult it was to succeed without decent patrons.
I did know about this. I knew that those without patrons had to work extra hard to gain promotion and often had to endure watching less able but better supported contemporaries climbing the ladder before them. What I didn't realise was that this happened to almost all officers who were not lucky enough to have someone to speak for them. Even those who did could find themselves in a similar situation if their patron died or dropped them for whatever reason. Even those vouched for by Nelson himself found themselves suffering prolonged and sometimes permanent unemployment after he died. It is a terrible shame that such things went on and I can't help wonder how things might have turned out if all the talented but unsupported young officers had been given the chances that they deserved.
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
First and foremost, I think a huge round of applause for Rae-Rae is in order, for her amazing series on Nelson's appearance! The Great Man himself would most certainly have approved!
Now, as Nelson probably didn't say, 'give me attention NOW!' (Though he probably thought it on many occasions!) Yes, I now have a Tumblr blog, 'Nelson etc...', where I'll be continually advertising Hinchy and drumming up support for us. Please check it out if you get time!
Sorry this is short - I still have loads of homework to get done!
Hi there! Yes, I'm afraid that the day has come: time for a bit of weighty scholarship!
So, today, I was at the library, looking for a Nelson biography to cherish, and there were two to choose from. I won't name the books or authors concerned, but one was what we might call a 'conventional' view of the man, with a particular emphasis on the military side. I had also been for it for quite a while. However, the other book was a 'revisionist' view, and from what I had read about it, seemed like a pretty mean-spirited one at that. I decided to take the more conventional book, but while walking to the bus stop, I couldn't help but wonder who was right about Nelson.
The problem with some revisionist studies, at least from my experience, is that they focus on one or two specific events and use them to drag the subject into disrepute. In most cases, revisionist Nelson scholars tend to focus on his affair with Lady Hamilton or his sycophantic conduct at the Neapolitan court, although the two might be said to go hand in hand. They argue against a hagiography of Nelson that in fact rarely exists among today's scholars, and in fact has not really existed since the age of Victorian heroic idealism. Reputable scholars both acknowledge and censure the way he behaved at Naples, not only in the context of the actual event, but also in the way that it shows us a more general picture of his character; a man who slavishly devoted himself to those who represented the ideal royalty for whom he was fighting, his love of flattery, vanity and his love of gaining new titles - in short, being a hero. However, the affair with Emma is a more thorny issue. Some biographers side overwhelmingly with Emma, while others point out that his callous abandonment of Lady Nelson was unforgivable. Still others choose to avoid controversy entirely, stating the facts and offering only rather anodyne speculation as to what really went on.
Hmmm... That was very heavy! Feel free to put your own ideas in the comments box!
It's hard, isn't it? I suppose it's the same for anyone with an eccentric interest, but it's particularly troublesome when the one Nelson fact people know is that he was 'the guy with one arm'. However, it's not all bad, as I will be exploring today!
GOOD: It's unique, so you can really stand out from the crowd. So uncool that it's cool, really!
BAD: No-one, by which I mean NO-ONE of my age is interested (except my dear friend Rae-Rae), which means that any Nelson-related conversation is short-lived and generally thanks to extraordinary patience on the other person's side.
GOOD: It's easy to look clever if no-one knows when you're making mistakes!
BAD: People think it's weird and stereotype you as a nerd - it's easy to become a caricature of yourself.
GOOD: The books are always in the library. Some of the popular teenage bools at my local library have WAITING LISTS! However, Nelson biographies are always there on the shelf, and they never have waiting lists.
BAD: It's lonely if you don't know any other fangirls. I am very fortunate to have found Rae-Rae, but before I did it could be quite hard all alone with my books.
I hope you can relate to some of these points! I'll write more soon! :)