Nelson & His World

Discussion on the life and times of Admiral Lord Nelson
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 Post subject: Re: Book Reports: >Pero, the Life of a Slave in C18th Bristol<
PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 5:22 pm 
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... whoops, I've just realised that I should have told you about a book in this part of the forum. It is by Eickelmann and Small and called Pero, the Life of a Slave in eighteenth century Bristol.

It features Pero, who in the 1780s was taken by John Pinney from Nevis to Bristol (John Pinney was a friend of Nelson's wife, Fanny Nisbet). The first part of the book deals with plantation life in Nevis and, given that Nelson was stationed in Nevis and got married there, provides an interesting backdrop to his time in the West Indies.

Eva


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 Post subject: Re: Book Reports
PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2011 7:13 am 
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Nelson’s Hero: the story of his ‘Sea-Daddy’, Captain William Locker by Victor T. Sharman (pub. Pen & Sword Military 2005)

The details of William Locker’s life are sketchy which presents a difficulty to anyone wishing to write a full-length biography. Locker’s sea service has ended by page 47, but his friendship and correspondence with Nelson continued until Locker's death. The author focuses on the many letters Nelson wrote to his old friend and mentor, amplified by a commentary on the events Nelson narrates in them. Nelson's continued attentions to Locker, even though his sea service meant they rarely had a chance to meet, serve to show the high esteem in which Nelson held him, and how highly he valued his good opinion. Enhanced by a few anecdotes and family reminiscences, a picture emerges of a totally admirable character: brave, honourable, cultured, devout and kindly.

Nelson’s letter to Locker after the Nile gracefully attributes to him the skills that enabled him to achieve his victory: ‘I have been your scholar; it was you who taught me to board a Frenchman by your conduct in the ‘Experiment…’ Here, we learn just how resolute and heroic Locker was in that action. It is unsurprising that he made such a profound impression on the young Nelson and indeed, on many who knew him. King William 1V, who had served under him, described him many years later as ‘The best man I ever knew’.

In his declining years, Locker, working with Admiral John Forbes, compiled a repository of naval anecdotes and histories, both oral and written, which he ultimately handed over to John Charnock who used them as the basis of his ‘Biographia Navalis’.

Locker was a man much loved, not only by Nelson, but also by his family, his servants and even his horse. His chief companion of his old age was his servant , Boswell, a retired seaman, who, of an evening, would ask Locker if he had further commands. ‘No, Boswell, I think not,’ Locker would reply, ‘unless you are disposed for a glass of grog before you go.’ Boswell was given to wild tales of reminiscence: ‘Does your honour remember when we were up the Mississippi in the ‘Nautilus’...and saw a rattlesnake that your Honour killed with his cane, five and forty foot?’ ‘Avast, Boswell,’ Locker would respond, ‘mind your reckoning there. ‘Twas but twelve feet, you rogue, and that’s long enough in all conscience.’

Victor Sharman has done all enthusiasts of the period a service in collating what is known of this admirable man; and by bringing together in one volume the many letters that Nelson wrote to him, he creates a charming record of an enduring friendship in which the pupil never forgot his debt to his mentor, even as he eclipsed him in fame.

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 Post subject: Re: Book Reports
PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2011 7:06 pm 
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Has anyone read "The man who buried Nelson-the surprising life of Robert Mylne" by Robert Ward.Tempus.
Civil engineer who designed Nelsons sarcophasus.
Davy


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 Post subject: Re: Book Reports
PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2011 7:42 pm 
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Thanks for the info. Just checked this out on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Surprising-Life ... =8-2-spell

Another amazing 18th century Scot! And a friend of Boulton, Watt etc.

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 Post subject: Re: Book Reports
PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 7:15 am 
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'An Account of the Discovery of Tahiti, from the journal of George Robertson, Master of HMS Dolphin' edited, with an introduction by Oliver Warner, Folio Society, 1955.

I picked this up on ebay for a couple of pounds. It is very handsomely produced with a vivid, 'primitive' pattern on the boards and illustrated with alluring wood engravings by Robert Gibbings.

The journal covers only the few weeks that the Dolphin was at Tahiti during June-July 1767 so there is nothing about the voyage, the Dolphin's second circumnavigation in the search for the mythical 'Terra Incognita', thought to exist in the southern hemisphere.

George Robertson comes over as a down to earth, honest man, sound, reliable and honourable, always trying to do his best in difficult circumstances. Captain Wallis and several other officers were sick during the stay, and poor Robertson was on very bad terms with the first lieutenant, nicknamed 'Old Growler'.

The account is much concerned with wind direction and strength, and the hunt for good anchorage and supplies. The perspective may be narrow but it gives a vivid impression of the burdens and responsibilities that faced those in charge of a ship in an 18th century navy.

Their relationship with the native Tahitans is recorded in detail and moves from curiosity, to some violence, then a cautious truce, then to a better understanding and finally a sad departure. It is instructive to note that orders were given by Captain Wallis to treat the native population with respect and courtesy and this they tried to do. However, it is unsurprising that, heavily outnumbered, they felt threatened on occasions, and actually fired shots and killed some of the Tahitans. Gradually, though, they make closer contacts, barter for food with trinkets and nails (highly prized). It is well-known that the seamen soon learned to exchange nails for the attentions of the girls ashore which produced two problems: the safety of the ship was impaired by the removal of so many nails; and food became harder to obtain when the Tahitans realised they could obtain nails by services (of which there was a seemingly inexhaustible supply) other than providing fowls, hogs etc.

Robertson records the customs of the people with careful respect, and, despite his rather prosaic style, captures the beauty and peace of the islands that must truly have seemed like paradise to a man from a chilly rain-swept island in the far north. To have this wonderful glimpse into a few weeks of an 18th century seaman's life, to share his experiences and observations of a world that is new, and strange and beautiful, is a real pleasure. Look out for this book on abebooks or ebay.

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 Post subject: Re: Book Reports
PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 6:47 pm 
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Has anybody read Bryan Elson's "Nelson's Yankee Captain", a biography of Sir Benjamin Hallowell?

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 Post subject: Re: Book Reports
PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 7:00 pm 
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Tony,

I'm afraid not. Sounds an interesting read though, and perhaps interesting from the point of view of an American in the British navy.

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 Post subject: Re: Book Reports
PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:45 pm 
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Devenish wrote:
.....These include the first biography of Sir James Saumarez, written in 1838 just two years after his death, by Sir John Ross one of the Admiral’s lieutenants during the Baltic Campaign, later an Arctic explorer: ’Memoirs and Correspondence of Admiral Lord Saumarez’, 2 Vols; ....



This is available as an ebook here - http://www.green-ebook-shop.com/ebooks/ ... 26031.html - and definitely worth reading thru - not just for Sir James's history but for the quotes from Nelson's letters and Admiralty orders etc - a great insight into his relationship with his captains and the style of those days.

Chapter X deals with the Battle of the Nile, amongst other things.

Cheers, MTS


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 Post subject: Re: Book Reports
PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 5:46 pm 
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MTS,

I would agree – although personally, I would rather read it in book form! :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Book Reports
PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:56 am 
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I've just finished reading Roy Adkins' Trafalgar: The Biography of a Battle, and really enjoyed it. It's far from being just the description of a battle - it goes into a lot of detail about life on a ship in general, from the dire food they ate on board and the uses they made of food that had become inedible so nothing was wasted, to the presence and roles of women and children, to vivid descriptions of the hot, dark, deafening and terrifying conditions on the gun decks during a battle. Virtually every page contains anecdotes and extracts from the journals, letters and reports of not only officers, but regular sea men, on both sides, the small details of which create an account that reads almost like a novel and paints such a picture of the horrors of battle that you are almost transported there. The descriptions of the conditions the surgeons worked in and the way they treated the wounded make particularly grim reading. There are also brief biographies of the main players and how they ended up, and the events leading up to the battle.

I really enjoyed reading an account of the battle that goes in to far, far more detail than a biography of Nelson ever could. Does anyone know of any similar books for his other major battles?

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 Post subject: Re: Book Reports
PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:40 pm 
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Vicki:

you might enjoy 'Nelson and the Nile' by Brian Lavery (Chatham Publishing 1998). The book doesn't simply give a narrative of the battle; the author also deals with the political background to the battle which was Nelson's first independent fleet command. He shows how Nelson forged the esprit de corpsthat was the hallmark of his command style. He also explore the pressures placed on naval commanders, often isolated from their political and naval masters and starved of information about the enemy's whereabouts.

If you don't already know about abebooks.co.uk - it is a wonderful website for finding out of print or second hand books.

PS - just checked abebooks - there are numerous copies of the book available - you can get a hardback for about a fiver plus postage - cheaper than a new paperback.

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 Post subject: Re: Book Reports
PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 10:13 am 
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Vicki,

Since you have just finished Roy Adkins book about Trafalgar, perhaps you might enjoy another (if you haven't read it already!)

This is 'Trafalgar – the Men, the Battle, the Storm', by Tim Clayton and Phil Craig. The title really says it all, but I was really taken by the last part, the Storm. One really feels as if you are experiencing it for yourself, and one suspects that it may have been even more frightening than the battle itself. The book describes the actions and gives the impressions of ordinary people from both sides, from diaries and accounts of the time, but it reads like a story and is not in any sense 'dry'. Obviously, I don't want to give anything away and spoil it for you, but I found it a rivetting read. I think you will too.

Another book I can recommend is 'Nelson – Britannia's God of War', by Andrew Lambert. This, as it's title suggests, is a general book about the Nelson 'story' but Lambert, one of the foremost naval historians today, and Professor of History at King's College, London, sheds new light on many aspects of it. He questions many of the various traditionally held views about Nelson debunks a few of them. I found it a refreshing read.

Both are available in paperback.

Enjoy!

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 Post subject: Re: Book Reports
PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 8:32 pm 
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Thanks Anna, Nelson and the Nile is now on its way to me :) I have used Abebooks before, I got a small leatherbound 1897 copy of Robert Southey's The Life of... for £3.00, in excellent condition, having seen one in considerably worse condition go for £36 on ebay!

Kester, I'm actually halfway through Lambert at the moment! I love his style and his fond but level attitude towards his subject. From the title I'd half expected a bit of hero-worship, but I find his approach very rational. I like that he not only questions some of the 'legends' themselves (like whether Emma really was such an important influence on Nelson as many have believed) but also questions (and dismisses) other biographers' cynicism. I've read Knight's Pursuit of Victory and found that, though it's overall an excellent book, he sometimes got a bit bogged down in telling us why previous biographers were wrong, and was very cynical towards some of the 'legends' (for example, his simple "it was a myth" dismissal of the 'I don't see the signal' story, with no reasoning, really annoyed me!). I'm finding that Lambert seems to have a good understanding of Nelson's character, too.
I will look at that Trafalgar book too, thanks!

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 Post subject: Re: Book Reports
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:06 am 
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Anna mentioned this book, 'Nelson's First Love - Fanny's story', by Patrick Delaforce, (although I can't find the reference.)

I seem to remember that she was wondering what the reviews on Amazon would be. Well, so far, there has been only the one – and she gave it three stars, so not that good. The review is actually more about Nelson himself, with mention of his relationship with Josiah, no mention of Fanny at all – so what does that tell you!

I also came across this:

http://stumblingpast.wordpress.com/2011 ... important/

The article is really about footnotes, but highlights 'Nelson's First Love' – as, annoyingly, not having any!

Not one to be recommended, I think, unless you want to see how bad it is – although that hardly warrants paying the price!

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 Post subject: Re: Book Reports
PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 3:33 pm 
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I bought a copy of "Nelsons First Love........." last year on ebay and yes, it is a very disappointing book. Written in the first person, it attempts to tell the story as Fanny would have told it. But unfortunately the style is very bland and really just repeats most of what we already know of her life. A number of the events and anecdotes are repeated more than once throughout the book, particularly in chapters that purport to tell Josiah's side of the story as well. Certainly not a book I would recommend.

I have however just finished reading "Horatia Nelson" by Winifred Gerin, published in 1970. This isn't a book I have seen referred to on previous posts but is an excellent biography written by an author who certainly appears to do her research in depth and incorporates a great deal of detail and comment about each phase of her life, as well as giving a superb insight into Nelson's wider family, particulaly the Matchams and Boltons. Particularly interesting too was the chapter on her various meetings with Sir Nicholas Harris Nicolas when he was compiling The Dispatches and Letters...................."

A book I can definately recommend.

Phil


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