Nelson & His World

Discussion on the life and times of Admiral Lord Nelson
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 Post subject: Edward Berry
PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 6:06 pm 
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The more he pops up in all the Nelson biographies and related books I read, the fonder I grow of Sir Edward Berry. There is also a painting of him catching Nelson when he was wounded at the Nile that I really like. Are there any biographies of him, or any other books or websites where I can find out more about him?

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 Post subject: Re: Edward Berry
PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 9:03 pm 
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Vicki:

like you, I have soft spot for Edward Berry; the description of him running along the bowsprit at the battle of cape St Vincent and leaping into the enemy ship is typical of his almost lunatic courage. Nelson admired that and reciprocated his affection, though it was on Hardy that he came to rely on in the long run.

You can read Berry's own words in his 'Authentic Narrative of the battle of the Nile.' I am always touched by Nelson's letter of thanks to Berry for his care when he was disorientated after the blow to his head at the Nile - 'thank you for your support for my mind.'

http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/A ... edir_esc=y

He had a sad end - an increasing weakness that left him an invalid which must have been dreadful for such a man of action. I often walk past the house where he spent his last days and died - 2 Gay Street, Bath. He is buried in St Swithin's Church (Walcot Church) in the city. His tomb and memorial were restored in 2005 to mark the 200th anniversary of Trafalgar.

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 Post subject: Re: Edward Berry
PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 10:42 am 
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Thanks Anna :)

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 Post subject: Re: Edward Berry
PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:05 pm 
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Vicki,

I found this Wikipedia article on Berry. I don't know if the the picture here is the one you had in mind, but I have not seen it before: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Berry

Berry was in Nelson's good books, at least on paper, but reading between the lines it would seem as though the admiral later counted Hardy's seamanship skills as being superior. It is perhaps worthwhile mentioning that Brian Lavery, in his book 'Nelson and the Nile', counted Berry's abilities as no more than adequate, and Ludovic Kennedy in 'Nelson and his Captains', writes of Berry's foolhardiness and impulsiveness. Kennedy also maintained that this impulsiveness severely limited his judgement, and furthermore, goes on to say that Berry 'was of no great intellect.'

Harsh words perhaps but one has to wonder, if true, whether these characteristics were behind what was probably his most embarrassing, and potentially dangerous episode, the dismasting of the Vanguard prior to the Nile. It would seem when reading the account, that Berry was caught off guard when the squall struck the squadron in the Gulf of Lyon, and that the flagship was carrying too much sail. Captain Ball's Alexander, which subsequently took the Vanguard in tow, and Saumarez' Orion were both in close proximity yet, apart from losing sails which could reasonably easily be replaced, neither lost yards or masts.

Both these officers were far more experienced than Berry, but they must all have been aware of this dangerous coast and its squalls, generated by the Mistral blowing down the Rhone valley and out to sea. Lavery notes from the Vanguard's log, that Nelson took more of a direct command of the ship following the incident. Was he perhaps even then having second thoughts, as to Berry's suitability as his flag captain? There is a view that he was at that time really too inexperienced for the position, so did Nelson's characteristic attitude toward those under him overide more practical considerations? One wonders too, whether any reconsideration on Nelson's part influenced his decision to send Berry home with the dispatches after the Nile and replace him with Hardy. The latter was then a mere commander, but with undoubted seamanship skills and one, furthermore, who also suited Nelson on other levels. Nelson's later comment, as Berry joined the fleet just before Trafalgar, 'Here comes that fool Berry, now we'll have a battle', might also perhaps be commented upon. Were his words meant as a joke, or was there some deeper meaning?

I agree that Berry on many counts is an attractive figure and that he had his good points like anyone else, but his later employment seems to have been patchy, so it would seem that he did not fill his superiors with wholehearted confidence.

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 Post subject: Re: Edward Berry
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 7:02 pm 
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Thanks for that post, Kester - somehow I missed it! :oops: Interesting point about Nelson's "Here comes that fool Berry..." comment. It's one of those comments that I would have loved to have heard Nelson say, because it's one of those that the meaning can be a little ambiguous without hearing the tone of voice. I take it to be an affectionate joke of the kind you'd really only say about/towards a friend, and that Nelson said it because he was happy to have Berry there.

Wasn't being the one to carry the dispatches home after a battle considered to be an honour?

I'm sure Berry's actions at Cape St Vincent would certainly have endeared him to Nelson - maybe that was what led to Nelson placing perhaps a little too much faith in his abilities as a flag captain?

And now for a daft question... I got a copy of Berry's service from the National Archive, but I can't make out what his first rank was, can anyone help me please? (image below) I'm sure I'm going to kick myself!

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Edward Berry
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:00 pm 
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Vicki

That is Volunteer 1st Class.

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 Post subject: Re: Edward Berry
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:51 pm 
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Thanks Mark :)

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 Post subject: Re: Edward Berry
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 12:39 am 
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It's interesting that he is recorded as Volunteer 1st Class in 1779. At that time he would have been rated as Captain's Servant, as the term Volunteer 1st Class was not introduced until 1794. Obviously the service record was compiled at a later date using the terminology current at the time.

By the way, early versions of Nelson's comment don't include the word 'fool', which entirely changes its tone!

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 Post subject: Re: Edward Berry
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 5:51 pm 
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Tony wrote:
By the way, early versions of Nelson's comment don't include the word 'fool', which entirely changes its tone!

Tony,

I had a quick look in Carola Oman, and the biographer of the moment John Sugden, who both have it as you say. Conversely both Tom Pocock and Oliver Warner not only have 'fool', but go a step further and write 'damned fool'. So, perhaps not surprisingly, it seems as though Nelson's words were elaborated on by later biographers – but not the latest.

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 Post subject: Re: Edward Berry
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:14 pm 
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Tony wrote:
By the way, early versions of Nelson's comment don't include the word 'fool', which entirely changes its tone!

Interesting... it does, doesn't it!

Anyone know where/who was the original source that mentioned that quote?

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 Post subject: Re: Edward Berry
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:32 pm 
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Vicki,

Starhawk wrote:
Anyone know where/who was the original source that mentioned that quote?

Vicki,

Do you mean the 'unadorned' version, the 'fool' version, or the 'damned fool' one? :wink:

Actually, I would have thought perhaps Southey. However, having a look there, he doesn't mention that particular Nelson quote at all – or at least I can't find it.

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 Post subject: Re: Edward Berry
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:43 pm 
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The first version may be Edward Berry's obituary in The United Service Journal 1831 Part 1, page 510:
Quote:
In 1805 he was recalled into service, being appointed to the command of the Agamemnon, and rejoined his noble chief on the 12th October, off Cadiz. When the ship was reported by the signal officer of the Victory, Nelson was at table, and observed to his guests with unusual glee, "Here is Berry — and now we shall have a battle."

As you say, Kester, it seems to be the usual story of biographers copying each other's embellishments (mistakes?).

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 Post subject: Re: Edward Berry
PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 1:58 pm 
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Devenish wrote:
Do you mean the 'unadorned' version, the 'fool' version, or the 'damned fool' one? :wink:


Haha, I guess I meant the original quote in which Nelson reacted to Berry's arrival in any way :lol:

Thanks a lot for that reference, Tony. :) But then, you still have to wonder which one of Nelson's dinner guests reported his comment! (well, I do... I find myself being overly picky with the details sometimes!). Anyway, Berry's obituary really highlights his close friendship with Nelson.

This is why I like the modern biographers that use primary sources and don't rely on what's already been written. I love the sources pages in Sugden's books, they are almost books in themselves! I guess with anecdotes, in particular, it must be tempting for a writer to pick the version that most suits what they would want Nelson to have said, or that puts his subject (in this case, Berry) in a favourable (or not!) light.

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 Post subject: Re: Edward Berry
PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 3:52 pm 
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Nicolas records his version as follows:

Quote:
When the Agamemnon was signalled, Lord Nelson rubbed his hands together with glee, "Here comes Berry; now we shall have a battle."


I can see why biographers might have removed the reference to Nelson's actions on hearing the news!

But I'm also a bit cautious of obituaries for telling the unvarnished truth.

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 Post subject: Re: Edward Berry
PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:07 pm 
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... Or even adapting Nelson's physical reactions, as well as his words.

Oliver Warner gets around the hand(s) rubbing narrative with:

Quote:
"Here comes that damned fool Berryl Now we shall have a battle," exclaimed Nelson, rubbing his "fin."

John Sugden introduces an element of caution in Sword of Albion:

Quote:
‘Here comes Berry,’ Nelson is reputed to have said. ‘Now we shall have a battle!’

By that, I can only assume Sugden didn't come across an original source during his immense researches. Makes me think that the source, whatever it was, must be submerged somewhere deeper than the Mariana Trench.

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