“Let me alone: I have yet my legs and one arm. Tell the surgeon to make haste and his instruments. I know I must lose my right arm, so the sooner it’s off the better.”
Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson was a brilliant strategist and a highly successful navel commander. Perhaps the most beloved of all British military leaders, his men followed him with a loyalty that few have ever known. A captain at 20, Nelson served in the West Indies, Baltic and Canada. In 1793, when Britain entered the French Revolutionary Wars, he was given the command of the Agamemnon. He assisted in the capture of Corsica and lost the sight in his right eye at the battle at Calvi. He would lose his right arm at the Battle off Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1797.
Considered a man of bold action, he was extremely confident in his capabilities to the point of occasionally ignoring orders from his superiors. Fate rewarded him for his defiance by granting him victories against the Spanish off Cape Vincent in 1797, and at the battle of Copenhagen in 1801. He relished the spotlight and was partial to flattery. Nonetheless, his loyalty was unwavering. He once said, “Duty is the great business of a sea officer; all private consideration must give way to it, however painful it may be.”
Lady Hamilton was twenty-eight when she first met Horatio Nelson, a thirty-five year old captain, on September 12, 1793 when he sailed into Naples. Their next meeting, five years later, was during the frightening spectre of an impending French invasion. Fresh from the glorious victory over the French in the “Battle of the Nile,” Nelson was welcomed by all of Naples, as a liberator. Everyone believed that he would be the man to conquer the mighty Napoleon.
Nelson, exhausted from battle, and in pain from his wounds, was overwhelmed by the welcoming party that awaited him on the waterfront. It was said that Emma threw herself upon him, weeping with joy and thanksgiving. Lord Nelson would keep them safe.
“My greatest happiness is to serve my gracious King and Country and I am envious only of glory; for if it be a sin to covet glory I am the most offending soul alive.”