“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.”
Rose’s first husband was killed in the “reign of terror.” She had also been imprisoned for being too close to the counter-revolutionary financial circles, but was miraculously was freed with the fall of the dreaded Robespierre. Her second husband was Napoléon Bonaparte, who insisted that she would be forever called Joséphine.
Napoléon needed a rich wife and Joséphine saw him as a possible patron even though she knew him to be silent and awkward around women. Their marriage took place in March 1796. Napoléon’s gift to his beloved was a gold medallion inscribed with the words “To Destiny.”
Destiny would indeed be with them, even though their fates led them in separate directions. Napoléon required an heir. Even during the divorce ceremony, their love was unmistakable.
“Far from ever finding cause for complaint, I can to the contrary only congratulate myself on the devotion and tenderness of my beloved wife. She has adorned thirteen years of my life; the memory will always remain engraved on my heart.”
“With the permission of our august and dear husband, I must declare that, having no hope of bearing children who would fulfill the needs of his policies and the interests of France, I am pleased to offer him the greatest proof of attachment and devotion ever offered on this earth.”
There is a postscript. History has given Joséphine a prominent position through her two children from her first marriage. Joséphine was the maternal grandmother of Napoléon III, through her daughter Hortense. And through her son, Eugène, she was the great-grandmother of later Swedish and Danish kings and queens. The reigning houses of Belgium, Norway and Luxembourg are also her descendents.
“If the earth was a single state, Istanbul would be its capital.” Napoleon Bonaparte
This is not quite a tea quote, but it is one that reminds us that Istanbul has always been a city of international trade and commerce. What came as a surprise to me was that tea was a latecomer to Turkey, only becoming a widely consumed beverage in the 20th century in the aftermath of World War I. Coffee was an expensive import and tea was easily grown domestically on the eastern Black Sea coast which has the requisite fertile soil, mild climate and high precipitation. Turkish tea is usually prepared in two stacked kettles, and served in small tulip-shaped glasses which display the amber richness of the tea. Once you take a sip, you will be forever on an adventure.