Nelson & His World

Discussion on the life and times of Admiral Lord Nelson
It is currently Mon Jan 27, 2020 3:42 am

All times are UTC [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 5 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Nelson the generous commander
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2013 10:12 am 
Offline
Site Admin

Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 11:06 am
Posts: 2803
Location: mid-Wales
There has been a correspondence in The Times recently regarding Wellington's willingness to airbrush the contribution made by Blücher and the Prussians to the victory at Waterloo (200th anniversary in 2015).

Today, another correspondent has claimed that 'Wellington did jealously guard his reputation as sole victor after the battle but he was not alone in such behaviour. Nelson was a shameless self-publicist.' True, Nelson guarded his reputation but surely he was always generous in acknowledging the contributions of others, e.g. his generous praise of Collingwood after Cape St Vincent and of his officers after the Nile. And did he not almost invariably end his speeches in reply to expressions of thanks by saying: 'Any Admiral could have done what I did, having under him such gallant officers and brave seamen that I had the honour, and the happiness to command.'

If I get time, I'll send off a letter; but if anyone else chooses to do so, please feel free.

letters@thetimes.co.uk with your address and telephone number

***********
Additional useless information that might help you in a pub quiz: Wellington gave his name to a type of footwear, but so did Blücher http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blucher_shoe

I'm pretty sure that the Artful Dodger in Oliver Twist wore Bluchers.

_________________
Anna


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Nelson the generous commander
PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2013 9:10 am 
Offline

Joined: Sat Jan 21, 2012 10:41 pm
Posts: 151
I always feel like the self-publicist accusations are a little unfair. I think Nelson just felt that 'credit where credit's due' was very important, and that applied to others just as much as to himself. The Copenhagen medal thing is another good example - as I understand it, he refused to accept a medal himself unless his men also received one, and he wrote many letters to people in power insisting that all those present at the battle had fought as bravely as him and so deserved recognition as much as he did.

_________________
Vicki


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: Nelson the generous commander
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:50 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 6:30 pm
Posts: 284
Location: England
It's a question of balance I think.

Nothing wrong (or outrageous) about Nelson promoting himself as he did. It was the way the navy - and many other C18th trades - worked. Pushing themselves to be noticed - cultivating patrons - especially those who possessed little interest and had to shift for themselves.

Nelson was certainly good at it - in private life as well as in his public capacity. He had the personality for it too - no shrinking violet. And genuinely revelling in the (positive) attention would have helped.

But, he was also very fair when allocating credit, I think. Scrupulously so. But if he felt himself under threat or at risk of criticism. Well... he was human.

If Wellington was generally obtuse or heavy-handed in his glory grabbing, that says much about his personality and style - and the respect/relationships he had with those he worked with. If so, there's no comparison with Nelson (much more nuanced) who understood that a commander could both take and share in glory - all at the same time.

_________________
Jacqui


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Nelson the generous commander
PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 11:25 am 
Offline
Site Admin

Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 11:06 am
Posts: 2803
Location: mid-Wales
Yes, Nelson was never willing to accept all the glory without acknowledging his fellow warriors. His fury over the failure to award a Nile medal was characteristic - he refused to attend celebratory dinners or any rewards for himself until all the participants had been recognised. I don't think a Nile medal was ever awarded but he fought like a tiger to get one.

I have a little note in my possession written by Lady Hamilton to Captain Sutton thanking him for his 'yesterday's letter' and saying he will soon have a letter 'on that subject'. It is clear from the context that their common fury is about the lack of a Nile medal. Nelson was firing off letters the same day to all and sundry about this subject. Emma says Lord Nelson is 'very busy and I am helping him with his long post.' I have a wonderful picture of the two of them at Merton, writing their letters with Nelson intermittently storming about, kicking the furniture.

_________________
Anna


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Nelson the generous commander
PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 11:02 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:11 pm
Posts: 1258
Location: England
Apologies for my long silence, and apologies for breaking it with perhaps a rather negative post, but I can't agree that Nelson was always generous in acknowledging the contributions of others. Certainly there are plenty of examples of Nelson's fulsome praise of others, but often these were in situations where his pre-eminence was beyond question, and he could afford to be magnanimous. He was also intelligent enough to realize that praising the skill and bravery of his fellow combatants in dangerous situations was an excellent way of drawing attention to his own achievements.

However, when Nelson was a captain trying to make his name, he did not always give due credit to others. In the affair of the navigation laws in the West Indies, he failed to give due credit to his friend Cuthbert Collingwood and his brother Wilfred. In Corsica he failed to give due credit to the army officers with whom he worked closely. At St Vincent, despite his praise of Collingwood, his failure to give others (especially Parker) due credit is well known. And his exaggerated account of his heroics in the boat action at Cadiz completely fail to mention Captain Miller's simultaneous attack on the same Spanish boat from the other side.

Yes, he was human...

_________________
Tony


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 5 posts ] 

All times are UTC [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by p h p B B © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 p h p B B Group