So remember to check back- if you don't it'll be a dozen lashes of the Cat O' Nine Tails for you!
Dear fellow Nelsonites,The 207th anniversary of Trafalgar is almost upon us, and since it is the first Trafalgar Day since the start of HMS Hinchy, I thought I'd make a bit of a celebration of it, in the form of Trafalgar Week! I will be posting something new every day of the week (probably in the evenings), ending next Sunday on the 21st October.
I am very busy with college work, so some posts may be shorter than others, but I will try my best! I will not be defeated by teachers giving me too much homework! *Hint to college teachers: give me less homework!*If you follow our Twitter and Facebook pages (if you aren't, why ever not?), I'll let you know when a new post is up!
So remember to check back- if you don't it'll be a dozen lashes of the Cat O' Nine Tails for you!
Vice-Admiral Rae-Rae :)
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!
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!
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."
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.
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.
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.
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?
First and foremost, I offer an enormous apology for my absence- it's been over a month since my last post! I've been neglecting my blog for no other reason than lack of inspiration. I have some ideas in my head but I'm struggling to get them down. Writer's block, perhaps? :/
But, moving on, I thought I'd write a little about my holiday in Portsmouth a few weeks ago!
Anybody who knows me reasonably well would know that I am obsessed with Portsmouth- it is seriously my favourite place in the whole world. And, surprisingly, I remember liking the place before my interest in Nelson came about!
I think it has so much to offer, especially for anybody with an interest in naval history, and particularly for Nelson Nutters like me! :)
Me, my dad, his wife, Lizza, and my little sister, Skye, went for about a week and my auntie Sally also joined a couple of days later. We all stayed in a Travel Lodge, and, let me tell you, I just love Travel Lodges *sarcasm*.
But, to be fair, it wasn't all that bad, although the room was VERY warm. And I wasn't sleeping on a mattress on the floor for once- I had been upgraded to the sofa- huzzah!
During the holiday we always have a couple of visits to the Isle of Wight to visit the beach and the Donkey Sanctuary, the Chessell Pottery Barns- they have the biggest scones in the world!- and watch the fireworks display at the Needles, which they do on Thursdays through-out the summer.
We also usually have a trip somewhere else, often Brighton, but this year we instead planned to go to London on the Train... which didn't happen. Unfortunately, we didn't realise how expensive that would be, and in the end we decided to leave it for another day. Had we gone, one of the things we would have done would have been to see the Nelson effigy in Westminster Abbey. Alas, at almost a hundred pounds for the train journey alone, that joy has been denied me. :'(
I can't tell you how many times I've heard that. Whenever I tell someone about my interest that's usually the first thing they ask (and often they're not interested in my explanation either!).
Two hundred years ago Nelson was the most famous person in Britain. He has often been named the first popular celebrity in Britain, as people would come in their hundreds just to catch a glimpse of him, while shopkeepers sold prints, memorabilia and even clothing in celebration of his battles. For a country undeniably afraid of invasion, he was seen as the saviour.
His distinctive appearance made it easy for him to be instantly recongnisable, much helped by the caricaturists, and his scandalous private life only added to his fame. He was the "people's hero" and the public could both relate to him and revere him for his victories at sea.
His death confirmed his place in the people's hearts, as they generally took to mourning rather than celebrating the victory at Trafalgar. His funeral was enormous. A procession of ten-thousand soldiers, over thirty admirals and a hundred captains, and thousands of the public lining the streets.
His dramatic death in the moment of triumph earnt him immortality, he had given the ultimate sacrifice for his country and he was never to be forgotten.
A hundred years ago he was still a household name, and during the World Wars, people often looked to him for inspiration.
Nowadays, however, he his often confused with the Duke of Wellington, winner of the Battle of Waterloo, which ended the Napoleonic Wars, or (and I can imagine how mortified he would feel at this!) Napoleon Bonaparte, the very person Britain was so desperately afraid of.
Even worse, in a survey conducted on school kids a couple of years ago, in which the pupils were asked about British maritime history, the results were somewhat catastrophic (read the article here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/8075874/Horatio-Nelson-was-French-football-captain-say-children.html).
Now, I'm aware that newspapers tend to over dramatise things such as this, and also that the answers the children gave may well not reflect their actual knowledge on these events, however, I do believe that there is some truth in these results. It certainly does seem to me that the youth of today are not as well clued up on Britain's maritime history, and how that shaped our country, as they could be, and Nelson and Trafalgar seems to be almost completely forgotten.
So what happened that caused Nelson's popularity to decrease so rapidly within the last century?
Nelson visited Monmouth twice during his tour with the Hamiltons in 1802. They stayed in the Beaufort Arms on both occasions and Nelson gave a patriotic speech there on the second visit.
The museum has a very impressive collection of Nelson relics and memorabillia, including his short, undress sword and the sword of Villeneuve and Gravina, Fanny Nelson's wedding ring, and many letters from her and Nelson. Must-see museum for any Nelson fan!
The final installment in my little series, answering the question: what did
Nelson look like?
This one will be looking at his two life masks, done in 1800, and his wax effigy made in 1806, starting with the former.
There are two masks in existance: one with eyes open, and one with eyes closed. These were both done in Vienna in 1800, during Nelson and the Hamiltons' overland journey back to the UK from Italy. They were made for a bust which was to be made by Thaller and Ranson.
These were mistaken for death masks, but now we know for certain that they were indeed made while he was very much alive. So alive that he needed straws up his nose so he could breathe while the plaster set! Silly-looking, but necessary!
The one pictured to the left, we'll call it Mask One, is very obviously, the eyes closed one- which looks a little creepy because he has no eyelashes.
Nevertheless, out of the two, it is this one which should be looked at more when considering what Nelson looked like. This is because Mask Two would have been worked on in order to have the eyes open, and there are a few little differences between them both. So this one is slightly more reliable.