Nelson [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Victoria Carolan
eBook Category: History/People
eBook Description: Nelson continues to fascinate academics as well as the general public. He is still considered one of Britain's greatest heroes and featured within the top ten of the BBC poll of such figures. But why does Nelson still remain such a prominent figure in the national imagination? With 2005 being the bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar, Victoria Carolan embarks on a timely reappraisal of Nelson, the myth and the man. Beginning with Nelson's early life and an analysis of the condition and practice of the Navy at the time of Nelson's entry into service, Carolan goes on to examine Nelson's naval battles before Trafalgar, particularly the pivotal Battle of the Nile in which the then Rear Admiral Horatio Nelson, with a fleet of fourteen ships, captured six and destroyed seven French vessels out of a total of seventeen and in the process achieved one of the most decisive victories in the age of sail and re-established British command of the Mediterranean. Devoting a full section to the Battle of Trafalgar, Carolan looks in detail at the build-up to the battle, the events and progress of the battle, at the Admirals of the French and Spanish navies and explains why the battle was so decisive in the Napoleonic Wars. She goes on to look at the immediate aftermath of Nelson's death and his state funeral and then to his legacy, the building of monuments (particularly Trafalagar Square and Nelson's Column), the development of the Nelson myth, his depiction in film, his value for propaganda purposes during the two world wars and the current state of scholarship on Nelson.
eBook Publisher: Accent Press/Accent
Fictionwise Release Date: December 2005
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When Horatio Nelson was born on 29 September 1758 there was little to indicate that he was destined to be arguably the greatest admiral that Britain has ever seen. He was the third surviving son of Edmund Nelson, the rector of Burnham Thorpe, in Norfolk. Edmund was himself the son of a rector and, while he was by no means poor (he was able to keep four servants), he was neither rich nor a member of the gentry. Nelson's mother, Catherine Sucking, however, did have some illustrious connections and, more importantly for young Horatio, a brother who had distinguished himself in the Royal Navy.
Catherine was daughter of Dr Suckling, the Prebendary of Westminster, and her grandmother was the sister of Sir Robert Walpole, the prime minister to both George I and George II. Nelson's family was not considered of a high enough social position to be invited to Houghton Hall, the nearby seat of the Walpoles: however, from time to time, the Nelsons received a gift of a brace pheasants from the estate. At the time of Horatio's birth, Catherine Nelson's brother, Captain Maurice Suckling, was fighting the French in the Caribbean, and had become something of a family hero.
Little is known for sure about Nelson's childhood, and he does not appear in his father's records of the family history until he joined the Navy at the age of 12. There are, however, various tales that may or may not be true that have often been repeated in accounts of his life. Most of these stories come from a book, written in the year after Nelson's death, by James Stainer Clarke and John McArthur. The biography contained many inaccuracies, most of which can be traced back to Nelson's brother William who wanted to present an unblemished account of his sibling. It is illustrated with various tales of Nelson's childhood which are chosen to show that heroism and compassion were evident in his character even when he was a small boy. For example, it is reported that Nelson once became lost while out looking for birds? nests. His grandmother worried that he had been carried off by gypsies and, when he found his way back, she said to him ?I wonder that fear did not drive you home?. Young Nelson replied: ?I never saw fear. What is it? It never came near me?.
In a similar vein is the tale of Horatio and William trying to get the coach to school after heavy snow and returning home to say that they could not get through. Their father sends them out again, telling them not to return until they have made quite sure that it is impossible to get to the school. When William decides that, indeed, it is impossible, Horatio disagrees, saying ?Remember, brother, it was left to our honour?. Whether these are myths or not, there is a ring of truth in them when one considers his adult devotion to duty and honour, and his tendency towards arrogance and confidence in his own ability. Certainly his family regarded him as a boy of spirit.
The most traumatic event of Nelson's childhood was the death of his mother in 1767, when he was just nine years old. He later said that ?the thought of former days brings all my mother to my heart, which shows itself in my eyes?. Her influence on Nelson was clearly a strong one. It was known that she had a patriotic and vehement dislike of the French and held naval officers, like her brother Maurice, in great esteem. Nelson was the only one of her sons to join the navy, although he was later to take one of his brothers to sea with him as a ship's chaplain.