Nelson & His World

Discussion on the life and times of Admiral Lord Nelson
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 Post subject: Lord Nelson-A Different Point of View
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 1:41 pm 
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Lord Nelson-A Different Point of View

http://mmbennetts.wordpress.com/2012/07 ... t-of-view/


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 Post subject: Re: Lord Nelson-A Different Point of View
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:02 pm 
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Urg. To me that is the standard 'Nelson can do no wrong' approach. He relies on conjecture and tales to slag off Nelsons wife and happily uses provable lies (Emma Hamilton was apparently THE prettiest woman in the whole of EUROPE when I do not doubt she was attractive she, like the Empress Josephine, she had her weaknesses and detractors especially by the time she met Nelson) to show how Nelson could not have avoided breaking his word and honour.

I admire and respect Admiral Nelson but believe that the histories that look at him as a man with the follies and foibles and weaknesses that we all have give you a better picture than any amount of hero-worship can do.

Basically you have to decide what you want - do you want to have an understanding of Horatio Nelson, the man, who lived and did some amazing things or do you want to know about a fictional gloss built up to make a historical personage a demi-god. I am a historian so have no time for fictionalising though somewhat confusingly that was the entire original purpose of history and Herodotus would entirely have approved of the uplifting of Nelson from human to demi-god, but that is an entirely different discussion.

Joss.


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 Post subject: Re: Lord Nelson-A Different Point of View
PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 1:26 am 
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:shock: WOW. Poor Fanny! That was extremely harsh towards her. She is portrayed here as being the coldest person on the planet! A very old-fashioned view, I think, and from what I see, totally wrong. Why is it usually only Emma or Fanny who get blamed when Nelson often gets very little? Nelson was human, he made mistakes and while, generally, he was a good person, he did bad things. He was an adult and was responsible for his own actions. He had no excuses. Yet the blame is often shifted onto Fanny or Emma, yet Fanny deserves none, and Emma deserves no more blame than Nelson does. I'm shocked that people today are still so unbalanced and narrow-minded!

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 Post subject: Re: Lord Nelson-A Different Point of View
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 8:12 pm 
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I have to agree here, and the article would seem to have been written from something of a sensasionalist viewpoint, maybe in order to generate 'lively' discussion on the site.

Nothing wrong with that, perhaps, but it does seem rather unfortunate that he (from the style of writing, I actually though it was a she) has to degenerate Lady Nelson in the process. As has been said, this is also a somewhat dated view of Francis, and upon which I believe the late Colin White wrote an article some while ago. He refuted, with the aid of her surviving letters and other references, the traditionally held view of Lady Nelson as being rather 'prim and proper', having no warmth and offering no affection. I have thought that this view stems from the Victorian period (and I think they have a lot to answer for, when it comes to how history has been viewed in general by subsequent generations) and their attempt to place Nelson on a heroic pedestal – in belief as well as in fact! In their world it was as if Nelson could do now wrong, he certainly had no intimate relations with Emma Hamilton, and he was himself the epitome of virtue. We all know, of course, that this is very far from the truth – as did the Victorians, except that they chose not to believe it!

Returning to the relationship beween Nelson and Francis, I had thought that Nelson didn't actually love Fanny in the fullest sense of the word. His letters to her speak of affection, regard and 'esteem' (the latter surely rather a strange word to use), terms which don't convey any feelings of intimacy. I have a thought that Nelson married her, almost out of what he perceived as his duty. Here he was, a young captain on the Jamaica Station, being reminded of the marital state by other young captains marrying all around him, and so he thought he should aspire to do the same, in order to 'get on'. He had also had one unfortunate love affair, and other dalliances, so when the widow of Nevis, perhaps the most eligible woman on the island, was available it is perhaps not so suprising he snapped her up. It was though, perhaps not for the best of reasons, for basing a marriage upon!

Returning to England, those five years that Nelson spent 'on the beach' between 1787 and 1793 put a strain on the marriage for both of them. One can't really blame Fanny for not liking the cold of Norfolk, after the life she had been used to, but she made the best of it and struck up quite a surprising relationship with the Reverend Nelson. Nelson himself of course was pining for a ship, and was often away at the Admiralty or other business which relieved the boredom. However, Nelson's position is thought to have been of his own making, through his actions whilst in the West Indies, so it must have been absolute balm when he was offered the Agamemnon in 1793, and he was to remark, 'after clouds comes sunshine.'

I don't really understand how Fanny suddenly became 'infertile' since she had, to all intents and purposes, a happy marriage to her former husband which produced Josiah!

As for Emma not being allowed to Nelson's funeral, methinks MM Bennetts doth protest to much! In the first instance, I am not exactly sure how many women were allowed to attend such events. In the second, I imagine Lady Hamilton would not have been elegible in any case, seeing she was only Nelson's mistress – not his legal wife!

In passing, I tend to think that not enough thought is given by modern writers to the sensibilities of past ages, and how ludicrous it is to put upon them present day thoughts and perceptions. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Lord Nelson-A Different Point of View
PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2012 1:14 pm 
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I will never understand people's need to justify Nelson's actions by portraying Fanny in a good or bad light, or Emma in a good or bad light, or even by saying that Nelson did good or bad. His decision to leave his wife for another woman does not need justification as such. People fall in and out of love all the time, and it's not anyone's fault. He just fell in love with someone else, his actions weren't good or bad and it's not a reflection on either him, Fanny or Emma, in my opinion.

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 Post subject: Re: Lord Nelson-A Different Point of View
PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2012 7:11 pm 
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Vicki,

Good point, and as you imply, we are no different today – or at least, not as much as many might like to believe! The times and technology might change but, very often unfortunately, human nature doesn't that much!

However, returning to MM Bennetts webpage, he doesn't care to make the point that liasons and affairs were frequent in Georgian society, but that they were normally kept private. Nelson and Emma went against this 'code', and paraded their affair in public. That, I think, was the difference and for which they were criticised. Emma probably suffered for the indiscretion more than Nelson himself, and certainly paid for it after Nelson's death. I suppose in that sense they were before their time, but I believe it's rather unfair to bring the whole Georgian way of life and moral code into question to account for it! That's how society was in those days, and Nelson and Emma chose to 'go against the grain'. They both knew it, and knew there would be a reaction, but probably to them it didn't matter.

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