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j. IX. 




Dispatches from Aboukir Bay Excitement at Naples Lady 
Hamilton struck senseless by Joy Maria Caroline's Extrava- 
gances of Delight 'Nelson and Victory 7 The British Admiral's 
Reception at Naples Gala on the Bay Ferdinand's Visit to 
the Vanguard Miss Cornelia Knight Nelson and his Wife 
The happiest Day of his Life His Contempt for the Neapoli- 
tans Fetes in his Honour The Birthday Banquet and Ball 
Josiah Nisbet's Indecorum Historical Romance Misconcep- 
tions touching Lady Hamilton Maria Caroline's Declaration 
against the French Nelson sails for Malta He returns to 
Naples His Advice to Ferdinand His Distrust of General 
Mack A Woman's War Mack's Fiasco. 

1798 A.D. 


Consequences of Mack's Fiasco Riots and Assassinations at 
Naple,s Ferdinand's Reluctance to leave Naples Maria Caro- 
line's Decision Preparations for the Flight Lady Hamilton's 
Part in them Ducats and Diamonds Secret Intercourse be- 
fween the Royal Palace and the British Embassy Sotrtfiey's 
4 Heroine of Modern Romance ' The, subterranean 
Hamilton's Preparations for Flight * Qur 
Miss KnightThe Party at Kelmi 


The Royal Family on Board the Vanguard The Fleet at Sea 

Two thousand Fugitives The stormy Passage Scene in. the 

State Cabin Lady Hamilton's Self-possession She is Everyone's 
Comforter Prince Albert dies in her Arms Arrival at Palermo 

Value of Ferdinand's Transported Treasures Levity and 

Luxury of the Court Lady Hamilton's abandoned Valuables 
Sir William Hamilton's Losses Lady Hamilton's Wild Talk and 
Notes Examination of them Lady Hamilton's ' self-delusive 

1798 A.B. 



Championet's first Proclamation Desperate Fighting round 
Naples Slaughter of the Lazzaroni Fall of the Capital The 
Parthenopeian Republic Its Extortionate Extravagances Dis- 
gust of the Neapolitans Reaction for the Monarchy Insurrec- 
tions in Calabria and Apulia Cardinal Ruffo's Successes 
Macdonald's Retreat Austrian Victories Election at Palermo 
Recovery of the Islands Blockade of Naples Nelson's 
Activity and Operations His Fleet before Naples Cardinal 
Ruffo's impudent Negociations Capitulation of the Castles 
Particulars of the Shameful Treaty Nelson's Repudiation of 
the Treaty His Reasons for annulling the Treaty Ruffo on 
board the Foudroyant Lady Hamilton acting as Interpreter 
between the Cardinal and the Admiral Misconceptions of 
Nelson's Conduct Consequent Calumnies Southcy's ' Life of 
Nelson ' Its deplorable Errors Alison misled by Southey. 

1799 A.D. 


The Prince's Career Commodore and Courtier, he turns Patriot 
His Employment under the Parthenopeian Republic Trou- 
bridge's Belief in the Traitor's Loyalty Nelson declines to think 
Caracciolo a Jacobin Nelson and Troubridge discover their Mis- 
takeThe Prince in open Rebellion His last Efforts for the 
Republic A Reward offered for his Apprehension He flies to 
the Mountains Is taken in the Disguise of a Peasant Prisoner 
on board the Foudroyant His Trial, Sentence and Execution 
Nelson's Mercy to the Culprit Slanders on Nelson Calumnies 
on Lady Hamilton Southey's Malice Alison's Carelessness 


Brenton's big Blunder Slaughter of the Slanders Maria Caro- 
line's Correspondence with Lady Hamilton Southey's vile Ques- 
tions An Answer for Each of them The Corsican's Spite His 
Palliation of Perfidy and Murder. 

1799 A.D. 



Alison's Inaccuracies The Hamiltons in Naples Bay Maria 
Caroline at Palermo The Queen and her Deputy Defeat of the 
French Party Punishments and Vengeance Maria Caroline's 
Resentments Her occasional Clemency and Forbearance Her 
Gifts to the Poor of Naples Lady Hamilton's Perilous Power 
Suitors for her Compassion Dr. Carillez implores her for Pro- 
tection Ferdinand leaves Palermo His Month's Stay on Board 
the British Admiral's Flag-Ship Lady Hamilton's Letter of the 
19th of July to Mr. Greville Naples or Minorca? Nelson's 
Momentous Decision His Disregard of Lord Keith's Orders 
He is censured by the Admiralty But justified by the Event 
Celebration of the Battle of the Nile The c Ruling Woman ' 
rejoices Preparations for Revels and Galas at Palermo The 
Foudroyant Sails for Sicily. 

1799 A.D. 


From Naples to Palermo Royal Gifts Diamonds and Coach- 
loads of Magnificent Dresses The Dukedom of Bronte Nelson's 
Assignment of Revenue to his Father Celebration of the Re- 
covery of Naples Nelson's Honour Lady Hamilton's Vindication 
Nelson as Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet 
His brief Visits to Palermo Capture of Le Genereux A Gallant 
Frigate Nelson's Letters to the Emperor Paul Lady Hamilton 
decorated with the Cross of St. John of Jerusalem Her Services 
to the Maltese Her Exaggeration of those Services Pettigrew's 
Account of Them Inquiries from the Herald's College Grant 
of Arms to Lady Hamilton She Assigns her Birth to Preston in 
Lancashire, instead of Great Neston in Cheshire Probable Reason 
for this Misdescription. 

1799 1800 A.D. 



Nelson at Palermo Sir William Hamilton's Recall The Plea- 
sure Trip to Malta Guests on board the Foudroyant Miss 
Cornelia Knight Her Intimacy with Lady Hamilton Her 
Character and Testimony Sir William Hamilton's Confidence 
in Nelson 4 Perfectly Natural Attentions ' Nelson's Disposition 
to the gentler Sex His successive Attachments The Nevis 
Ladies Nelson's Love of Fanny Nisbet His platonic Devotion 
to Mrs. Moutray His Marriage His Friendship for the Haunl- 
tons Naval and Scandalous Gossip Lady Hamilton's Influence 
Nelson's religious Disposition His Conception of the Deity 
His habitual Piety Lady Hamilton's unusual Sadness Causes 
of her Melancholy 'Come, cheer up, fair Emma' Sympathy 
and Passion The Deplorable Incident. 

1800 A.D. 


Frora Palermo to Leghorn Maria Caroline and her Children 
at Leghorn Parting Gifts The Livornese in Commotion 
Across the Peninsula From Ancona to Trieste The Triumphal 
Progress Rejoicings at Vienna Hospitality at Eisenstadt 
Adieu to Maria Caroline A Thousand a- Year Welcome to 
Prague From Prague to Dresden A Rebuff to Lady Hamilton 
A Menace to the Elector Lady Hamilton's indiscreet Talkative- 
ness The Departure from Dresden The Hamiltons amuse them- 
selvesWaiting at Hamburgh The Landing at Great Yarmouth 
Nelson in his Native County To London via Ipswich Dis- 
persion of the Party The Meeting at Nerot's Hotel Ungenerous 
Reflections on Lady Nelson Lady Nelson's Regard for Lady 
Hamilton Lady Hamilton's Reputation in England Scene at 
the Theatre Social Opinion and Tattle Sympathy with Lady 
Nelson Contention at Nerot's Hotel Miss" Knight is urged to 
withdraw from Lady Hamilton. 

1800 A.D. 



Bickering and Strife Social Distractions Nelson's Visit to 


< the City ' Sir William Hamilton's financial Position His De- 
mands for Compensation Nelson's Yiew of the Claims Friends 
in Council ' Vathek ' Beckford's Project for making Himself a 
Peer Lady Hamilton's Hope of becoming a Peeress Her Appli- 
cation to Henry Dundas Christmas Festivities at Fonthill 
The Hamiltons and Nelson in Wiltshire The Millionaire's Terms 
Renewal of Efforts for the Peerage Lady Nelson in Arlington 
Street The Scene at her Breakfast -Table Her quick Anger and 
firm Resolve Mr. Haslewood on Wifely Duty Lady Nelson 
leaves her Husband Review of the Case Faults on both Sides 
Excuses for Nelson His last Letters to his Wife Parted for 

1800 -1801 A.D. 


Nelson at Sea Horatia's Birth She is entrusted to Nurse 
Gibson Nelson's Correspondence with Lady Hamilton Mr. and 
Mrs. Thomson (alias Thompson) Controversy about Horatia's 
Parentage Sir Harris Nicolas in Error Lady Hamilton sells her 
Diamonds Her Reward for parting with them No 23, Picca- 
dilly The Hamiltons in Town Playing for the Hamilton-Beck- 
ford Peerage Lady Hamilton's Apologists Sir William Hamil- 
ton's Sale of Pictures His Testament and Last Will Nelson in 
Piccadilly The Hamiltons and Nelsons at Box Hill The Sojourn 
at ' The Bush Inn,' Staines Nelson resolves to have a Country- 
house He goes off again to Sea Lady Hamilton house-hunting 
Nelson's Purchase of Merton Place The Hamiltons at Deal - 
Sir William Hamilton's Description of Merton Place Nelson's 
first View of the Place His Home on Shore His Prayer for his 

1801 A.D. 



Now and Then Lady Hamilton's Deterioration Her Influence 
over Nelson Circumstances favourable to her Sway Terms of 
Nelson's Absence from her Times of their Personal Companion- 
ship Relmquishment of the Project for the Hamilton -Beckford 
Peerage The Nelsons and Hamiltons at Oxford Ducal Discour- 
tesy The Tour to Wales A Progress through Celebrations-r 


Blenheim put to the Blush Rejoicings at Milford Haven Lady 
Hamilton's pecuniary Extravagance Arrangement for paying 
her Debts Bickerings at Merton and Squabbles in Piccadilly 
Sir William Hamilton's Dissatisfaction with his Wife Their fre- 
quent Altercations He thinks of separating from Her Their 
Reconciliation Sir William's Illness and Death ' The forlorn 
Emma' Nelson's Departure for the Mediterranean Station 
Horatia's Baptism. 

1803 A.T>. 



Biographers at Fault Sir William Hamilton's Financial Posi- 
tion in 1803 His Provision for Lady Hamilton Her Hopes of 
a Pension Origin of these Hopes Sir AVilliam's Efforts for their 
Fulfilment Nelson's Efforts to get her the Pension of 500 a- 
year His Appeal to the Queen of Naples for this Purpose 
Maria Caroline's reluctant and cold Response Nelson's Morti- 
fication at the Queen's Coldness His Pecuniary Allowance to 
Lady Hamilton Particulars of her Income from April, 1803, to 
October, 1805 Her Intercourse with Nelson's Brother and Sisters 
Her Visits to the JBoltons at Bradenham Hall, co. Norfolk 
Her Trip to Canterbury Her Affection for Miss Charlotte Nelson 
Horatia's Infancy -Nelson's Solicitude for his Child's Welfare 
His Letters to the Child The Widow at Merton Alternations 
of Hope and Fear Letters from Sea Nelson revisits Merton 
His last and shortest stay there Southey's Melodramatic Story 
The Hero's Death The Nation's Joy and Grief Lady Hamilton's 

18031805 A.D, 



Lady Hamilton's Financial Position Nelson's Provision for Her 
and Horatia Had she Debts at the Time of Sir William Hamil- 
ton's Death? Did Debts grow upon her before the Battle of 
Trafalgar ? Her quick March to Pecuniary Ruin She is com- 
pelled to leave Merton Asks the Duke of Queensberry to buy 
the Place Causes of her Embarrassments Mr. Charles Grevi lie's 
Death Lady Hamilton's Relations with Nelson's Kindred' Why 
the Nelsons < made ' and ceased c to make ' the best of Her Bio- 


graphical Slanders against the First Earl Nelson Lady Hamilton's 
unreasonable Conduct The Publication of the famous Codicil 
Consequence of the Publication 'The Friends' and 'The Ene- 
mies ' Their long War of Words Final Survey of Lady Hamilton's 
' Claims ' and * Services ' Her rapid Deterioration Her Stay at 
Richmond At Bond Street Her last Will and Testament Her 
Vile Slander on the Queen of Naples Prisoner in the King's 
Bench Anniversary (1813) of the Battle of the Nile Evidence 
of Postal Marks Her Liberation from Prison Her Flight to 
Calais Date of the Flight. 

18051814 A.D. 



From Tower Wharf to Calais Harbour Lady Hamilton's De- 
signs for her Life at Calais Horatia at a Day-School Date of 
Emma's Arrival at Calais She Writes to the Hon. Robert Fulke 
G-reville Good Cheer and sound Bordeaux The Hon. R. F. 
Greville declines to send Lady Hamilton a 100 His Attitude 
to his Uncle's Widow Monsieur de Rheims, the English Inter- 
preter The Sieur Darny 1 s House in the Rue Fran^aise Lady 
Hamilton pawns her Trinkets and Plate Failure of her Health, 
Her last Illness Her Death and Funeral Her honoured and 
dishonoured Grave Announcements of her Death in the Gazette 
de France and Morning Post Confirmation of the Announce- 
ments Town-Talk about Emma Mr. Cadogan and Earl Nelson, 
at Calais Absurd Slander on the Earl Final Judgment on 
Lady Hamilton. 

18141815 A.D. 













1 888. 
All Rights Reserved. 






Dispatches from Aboukir Bay Excitement at Naples Lady 
Hamilton struck senseless by Joy Maria Caroline's Extra- 
vagances of Delight { Nelson and Victory ' The British 
Admiral's Reception at Naples Gala on the Bay Ferdi- 
nand's Visit to the Vanguard Miss Cornelia Knight 
Nelson and his Wife The happiest Day of his Life His 
Contempt for the Neapolitans Fetes in his Honour The 
Birthday Banquet and Ball Josiah Nisbet's Indecorum 
Historical Romance Misconceptions touching Lady Hamil- 
ton Maria Caroline's Declaration against the French 
Nelson sails for Malta He returns to Naples His Advice 
to Ferdinand His Distrust of General Mack A Woman's 
War Mack's Fiasco. 

1798 A.D. 

FOUGHT on the 1st of August, 1798, the Battle of the 
JSTile, that made Nelson a peer of the realm and the 
hero of all who loved Great Britain, was no sooner 
won, than the wounded Admiral and his secretary set 
to work on the papers, that gave England the chief 
particulars of her great victory. The dispatches 
committed to Captain Berry were lost at sea, but the 
duplicate dispatches, which the Honourable Thomas 
Oapel carried overland (via Naples) reached their 


destination. At Naples, the intelligence from the 
Nile was received with equal delight by the favourers 
of England and dismay by Monsieur Garat's disciples. 
Bringing an indescribable relief from dismal appre- 
hensions to the Neapolitan English, who had been 
anxiously awaiting the arrival of Nelson's squadron 
from the 4th of June, when the British Minister had 
announced to the eighty guests at his dinner-table, 
that Sir Horatio Nelson had been provided with a 
squadron for their protection, the news occasioned the 
Court and inferior populace of Naples a gladness that 
declared itself with characteristic vehemence. But 
in all Naples no two persons were more overpowered 
by painful ecstacies of joy than the two women, who 
had reason to congratulate themselves on having 
contributed to the success, which Nelson had declared 
beforehand should be known as their victory. On 
hearing the too joyful news, which was communicated 
to her without due forethought for the shock It would 
cause so emotional a creature, Lady Hamilton fell 
senseless to the ground, and sustained from the fall 
injuries that three weeks later were visible in bruises. 
Maria Caroline was affected no less violently, though 
in a more usual way. Crying and laughing hysteri- 
cally, the proud and strong-willed Queen surrendered 
herself to extravagances of natural feeling and 
womanly weakness. Kissing and embracing her 
husband and children, now hugging them passionate- 
ly and declaring loudly that they were c saved,' now 
throwing herself on the nearest couch to sob con- 
vulsively, now racing through the rooms of her 
palace, pouring forth ejaculations of undying grati- 


tude to the heroic Nelson, who had delivered her and 
her dear ones from the monsters who were thirsting 
for their blood, she displayed a most unqueenly ex- 
citement at the sudden change of fortune. 'How 
obliged and grateful I am to you !' she wrote to Lady 
Hamilton. c I cry, laugh, and embrace my children 
and husband .... If a portrait of Nelson is taken, I 
will have it in my chamber. My gratitude is en- 
graven on my heart ; vive, vive the brave nation and 
its navy ! I participate in the glory doubly, as being 
so greatly for our advantage, and also redounding to 
the fame of the first flag in the world ; hip ! hip ! my 
dear Lady. I am wild with joy ; with what pleasure 
I shall see our heroes this evening. I cannot say 
that this binds me to your brave nation, for I have 
always been, am, and shall be attached to it I' 

On coming to Naples, on the 1st* of September, 
1798, with a letter of introduction to Lady Hamilton, 
Captain Capel, the bearer of the duplicate despatches, 
and Captain Hoste, the captain of the brig Mutine, 
were welcomed to her house, and, without delay, 
carried by Sir William Hamilton to the Royal Palace, 
where they communicated their glad tidings to the 
Prime Minister. On leaving the palace, they were 
met by Lady Hamilton, who, taking them into her 
carriage, drove with them through the streets of 

* The precise day of Captain Capel's arrival in Naples is one 
of numerous points of Nelson's story, respecting which the 
authorities are at variance. Pettigrew makes it 1st of Septem- 
ber, 1798. But writing to Nelson from Naples, on the 8th of 
September, 1798, Sir William Hamilton says, 'Captain Capel 
arrived here on Monday last, about one o'clock in the afternoon, 
and was off next day: 7 the said Monday being the 3rd of 
September, 1798. 

B 2 


Naples till dark, the nature of the news from Egypt 
being declared to the populace by the words c Nelson 
and Victory,' that appeared in gold letters on the 
bandeau which she wore on her forehead. Catching 
the significance of this legend, the Lazzaroni rent 
the air with cries of 'Viva Nelson/ After dark, 
when bon-fires and other illuminations caused the 
thoroughfares of every quarter of the capital to be 
densely thronged with England's well-wishers, the 
people of the French party stayed at home. At 
the opera-house, the favourite play-room of French 
insolence, whither the two officers of the British 
Navy went with their host and hostess, the absence 
of French cockades from the theatre was noticed by 
the party in the Minister's bos. Lady Hamilton's 
bandeau had driven the cockades from ' the house.' 

Three weeks later. Nelson was received with hon- 
ours seldom rendered to a visitor of less than royal 
rank. On the approach of the Vanguard, with the 
conqueror on board, and his flag showing forth 
bravely over the noble ship, all the c well-affected ' 
of Naples who could get place on barge or boat 
went forth over the dancing waters, to welcome the 
Admiral who had shattered the Corsican's navy, and 
dashed the insolence of France. The royal barge, 
with Ferdinand of Naples, his brilliant entourage 
and musicians on board, was the first of the stately 
gala-boats to move from harbour seawards. Follow- 
ing the King's barge at a respectful distance, a 
gradually widening and lengthening train of holiday 
ships moved in the same direction. Heading this 
long procession of vessels, freighted with courtiers 


and nobles., the British Minister and Lady Hamilton 
were rowed by their liveried boatmen towards the' 
ship-of-war in a barge, gaily decked with national 
emblems and colours, and provided with a band, 
whose British airs were caught up by the musicians 
of the other barges, till sea, and air, and upper 
heaven resounded with c Rule Britannia' and c See 
the conquering Hero comes.' To be with the 
pleasure-fleet, that glided amidst these jubilant strains 
towards the Conqueror of the Nile, was to feel as 
though all Naples were moving out to sea in uni- 
versal gala in a vast and picturesque service of 
adoration to the Navy of the North. Springing from 
her barge as soon as it had come alongside one of the 
Vanguard's boats, Lady Hamilton flew to her hero's 
presence, and, exclaiming, C God! is it possible?' 
as she saw in an instant the change wrought by 
five years in her hero's appearance, threw her arms 
about him. She fell, 5 Nelson wrote to his wife, 
'into my arm more dead than alive. Tears, how- 
ever, soon set matters to rights.' It was, in truth, a 
moment for weeping, as well as for rejoicing, so 
strongly had the labours and mischances of war 
marked the conqueror in so many fights. Since 
the Hamiltons bade him < farewell' in '93, he had 
lost an arm and eye. " Care had ploughed yet deeper 
the lines of his resolute and anxious face, and there, 
on the high forehead, directly over the right eye, , 
appeared the surgical dressing that concealed his 
latest and still unhealed wound. No wonder he 
looked pale, and worn, and faint, for he was still 
only * getting-up ' from the fever, ' which/ as he 


wrote, on the 12th of August, to Earl St. Vincent, had 
so ' very near done his business/ that for ' eighteen 
hours his life was thought to be past hope.' 

Scarcely had Lady Hamilton escaped, through 
tears, from embarrassing emotion, when the King 
of Naples appeared on the Vanguard's deck, to take 
the Admiral by the hand, and to call him, gratefully, 
c Deliverer and Preserver.' The title thus accorded 
to him by Ferdinand the Bourbon was the same 
title that was assigned to him by popular sentiment. 
4 In short/ Nelson wrote to his wife, c all Naples calls 
me "Nostro Liberatore"; my greeting from the 
lower classes was truly affecting.' 

With what an air of mingled dignity and respectful- 
ness, with what simple cordiality and unassuming ease, 
Nelson received the King, and conducted him over 
the Vanguard, ' showing him every part of the ship r 
and (with characteristic considerateness for the in- 
valids) introducing His Majesty to the wounded 
seamen, we know from the account given by Miss 
Cornelia Knight (woman of letters and the Court, 
and an Admiral's daughter) of Ferdinand's visit to 
the hero's ship. After looking over the ship, the 
Bourbon sovereign took a seat with the Admiral's 
other guests at the breakfast-table, on which Miss 
Knight soon descried the small bird, hopping about 
amongst the plates and dishes, that flying on board 
the Vanguard on the evening before the great battle, 
forbore to leave the ship till she had safely made 
the voyage to Naples. For the moment, the lady 
of letters was more interested in the bird she now 
met for the first time than in the Prince Caraccioliy, 


whom she had often seen at General di Pietra's, 
and who, on coming to Nelson's presence shortly 
before breakfast, congratulated him on the famous 
victory with a fit show of heartiness and sincerity, 
as though he bore the British Admiral no ill for 
having passed before his frigate in the engagement 
off Corsica. 

The King having paid and finished the visit of 
welcome to the Vanguard^ Nelson went to the 
British Embassy at Naples, where as the guest of Sir 
William Hamilton he was nursed into good health by 
Lady Hamilton, who could not have ministered to 
him more assiduously and tenderly had he been her 
brother. ' I hope some day/ Nelson (vide Clarke and 
McArthur, vol. ii, p. 101) wrote to his wife, 'to have 
the pleasure of introducing you to Lady Hamilton ; 
she is one of the very best women in this world ; she 
is an honour to her sex. Her kindness, with Sir 
William's, to me, is more than I can express ; I am in 
their house, and I may now tell you, it required all 
* the kindness of my friends to set me up.' 

Whilst Nelson's letters to his wife afford super- 
abundant testimony that he and 'Fanny ' were not from 
the first the uncongenial and inauspiciously mated 
couple biography has declared them, and that his 
passion for Lady Hamilton had no commencement in 
their brief intercourse in 1793, there is no lack of 
evidence that weeks and even months had followed 
his reappearance at Naples in 1798, before his regard 
for her exceeded the limits of friendship, warmed and 
coloured by chivalric admiration. When Lady 
Knight (Miss Cornelia Knight's mother) enquired 


whether the day, on which he won the Battle of the 
Nile, was not the happiest of his whole life, Fanny 
Nisbet's husband answered stoutly, c No, Madam, 
the happiest was that on which I married Lady 

At Naples, Nelson needed Lady Hamilton's care for 
his health all the more, because the festive life ho 
necessarily led in the gay capital was far from 
favourable to his bodily welfare. Whilst he could 
not decline the hospitalities of the Royal Palace, it 
would have exposed him to misconstruction had he 
refused invitations from ministers and other great 
people. Hence the Admiral saw enough of Neapoli- 
tan high life to form a most unfavourable opinion of 
it by the 30th of September, 1798, on which day (vide 
Clarke and McArthur, vol. ii, p. 103) he wrote to Earl 
St. Vincent, c I am very unwell and the miserable 
conduct of the Court is not like to cool my irritable 

temper. It is a country of fiddlers and poets ' 

[a disdainful monosyllable of six letters for the 
ladies] c and scoundrels/ These bitter words clropt 
from Nelson's pen on the morrow of the grand fete (80 
people at dinner, and 1740 people at the ball, where 
eight hundred of the dancers partook of supper), with 
which Sir William Hamilton celebrated the fortieth 
anniversary of his guest's birthday. Had it been spread 
over an entire year, the money spent on this single 
fete would have maintained an ordinary minister's 
reputation for hospitable free-handedness. What the 
grand dinner of eighty covers cost Sir William does 
not appear, but he spent two thousand ducats on the 
ball and supper. Every dancer wore a button or 


ribbon, lettered in gold with i JELN. Glorious 1st of 
August.' In the middle of the saloon, where the 
fi . . . . and scoundrels' danced to the music of 
countless fiddlers under a magnificent canopy, stood 
the rostral column, displaying the words ' Veni, Vidi, 
Yici,' and the names of all the Aboukir heroes, which 
kept its place there to the Admiral's honour for 
three months, and would have remained longer had 
not a turn of Fortune's wheel dismissed the King 
and Queen of Naples, and the whole rabble of their 
courtly worshippers, to Palermo. When the British 
national anthem was sung with orchestral accompani- 
ment, it was sung with the additional stanza from 
Miss Knight's pen, 

Join we great Nelson's name 
First on the roll of fame ; 

Him let us sing ! 
Spread "we his praise around, 
Honour of British ground ; 
Who made Nile's shores resound. 

God save the King ! 

Even the splendours of the ball, given a few days 
earlier for Nelson's glorification by Count Francis 
Esterhazy, paled before the brighter brilliance of this 
Birthday F6te, where everything would have gone 
well, had the hero's stepson taken less^ champagne. 
What passed between Nelson and Josiah Nisbet is 
not upon the record ; but the youngster must have 
been guilty of extravagant indecorum, under the 
heat of temper and wine, as Captain Troubridge and 
another naval officer carried the angry young gentle- 
man by main force from his step-father's presence.' 
As Josiah Nisbet's misconduct resulted chiefly from 


annoyance at his step-father's frankly avowed admir- 
ation for Lady Hamilton, it was even less excusable 
than an outbreak of temper, proceeding altogether from 
tipsiness. For though it was already whispered about 
in the mess-rooms of the British squadron, Nelson's 
regard for his emotional hostess was a sentiment that 
permitted him incapable though he was of falsehood 
to write (vide Clarke and McArthur vol. ii, p. 112) to 
Lady Nelson on an early day of October, ' The Grand 
Signior has ordered me a valuable diamond ; if it were 
worth a million, my pleasure would be to see it in 
your possession. My pride is being your husband, 
the son of my dear father, and in having Sir William 
and Lady Hamilton for my friends.' If this associa- 
tion of Lady Hamilton's friendship with his pride in 
being Lady Nelson's husband points to danger, it is 
no less significant of the writer's frankness and 

Writing from notes, which Lady Hamilton put to 
paper, or enabled her friends to put to paper, in her 
later time, when she had talked herself into imagining 
that, instead of being Maria Caroline's worshipper and 
creature, she had imposed a policy of her own devis- 
ing on the Queen and Sir William Hamilton, and con- 
strained them to do their utmost to carry it out, Dr. 
Pettigrew gave his readers this curious bit of 
literature : 

6 The French Ambassador urged strongly upon the Nea- 
politan Court their breach of faith in supplying the British 
fleet at Syracuse contrary to treaty, and Lady Hamilton 
availed herself at this juncture, whilst the Court was flushed 
with joy at the Victory of the Nile, to exercise her influence 
still further with the Queen, and to urge upon her the bene- 


fits and honor likely to result by breaking boldly with the 
French, and dismissing their ambassador altogether. She 
also urged the raising an array to oppose the threats of 
invasion which were then put forth. The Queen, who had 
been obliged to cede to the necessity of receiving an Envoy 
from that nation, which was tinged with the blood of her 
sister, her brother-in-law, and her nephew, failed not to 
enter in the most lively manner into these proposals, and 
communicated them to the King. Lady Hamilton did the 
same to Sir William, and Sir Horatio Nelson, and the 
Minister, Sir John Acton, being brought into favour of the 
measure, the Council determined to dismiss the French 
Ambassador, who, together with his suite, was sent off at 
twenty-four hours' notice. An army also of 35,000 men 
was raised in nearly a month. They marched from St. 
Germain's, under the command of General Mack, the King 
himself accompanying the army. On the 21st of November 
they opposed a scattered and inferior force, but not with 
success, and in the course of one month only from that time 
the Royal family were obliged to quit Naples, and embark 
for Palermo.' 

In this way has tlie story of Lady Hamilton's 
doings been told by herself and her friends, in order 
to show that she was an extremely ill-used woman, 
because successive English Administrations declined 
to give her a pension of 500 a-year. The beautiful 
and naturally clever woman, who had been educated 
only to sing and enact tableaua-vivants, to deliver 
recitals from a few dramas and to talk Italian and 
French, to dance well and dress as showily as pos- 
sible on 150 a-year, and whose knowledge of Italian 
and European politics had been wholly picked up 
from her husband and the Queen of Naples, the 
chatter of courtly coteries and the anti- French talk 
of a few naval officers, is made accountable for the 
policy that had slowly shaped itself in the strong. 


resolute, and ruling brain of Maria Caroline. Till 
the Queen took her into favour, because she saw a 
way of nsing her for political ends, Sir William 
Hamilton had never encouraged Emma to be curious 
about matters especially interesting to statesmen and 
stateswomen. Three years and six months had 
barely passed since she wrote Mr. Charles Greville, 
< Send me some news political and private ; for, 
against nry will, owing to my situation here, I am got 
into politicks, and I wish to have news for our dear 
much-loved Queen, whom I adore.' Yet we are 
seriously required by grave historians to believe that 
this woman of beauty and music and elegant frivoli- 
ties, who had so lately e got into politicks/ not 
because she had an aptitude and taste for them, but 
because she wished to make herself more acceptable 
to her adorable Queen, was in the autumn of 1798 
so able and strenuous a stateswoman as to hold abso- 
lute sway in political matters over Maria Caroline, 
the Neapolitan Prime Minister, Sir William Hamilton, 
Nelson, Earl St. Vincent, and all the subtle and 
intriguing and practised people of affairs who at 
that moment determined the action of the Anti- 
French party of Naples. 

The story of the Queen's position and action may 
be told in a sentence. Knowing that France was 
plotting to upset her husband's throne, conceiving 
that a close alliance with Great Britain could alone 
save her from so great a catastrophe, and having for 
months desired to help openly the British Admiral 
whom she had heretofore helped * under the rose/ 
Maria Caroline seized the state of feeling occasioned 


by the recent destruction of the French fleet as the 
auspicious moment for breaking with France, turning 
Garat out of Naples, and putting herself before the 
world as the enthusiastic ally and peculiar proteg&e of 
the greatest Naval Power of Europe. In doing so, 
she only seized the moment for which she had long 
been waiting. Of course the Queen's cry of 6 To 
arms against the French !' had Lady Hamilton's ap- 
proval, but to hold the Court Beauty accountable for 
her mistress's resolve is to attribute to the proverbial 
fly the movement of the running wheel. 

It having been decided that the Sicilies should 
raise an army of 35,000 men, which King Ferdinand 
should himself lead against the French as soon as it 
should be ready to take the field, Nelson, already 
sick and weary of Naples, sailed for Malta in the 
middle of October, 1798, after resting for just about 
three weeks and as many days in the { country of 
fiddlers and poets, . . . and scoundrels.' Ever with 
a keener appetite for fighting than for ftes, Nelson 
went to Malta longing for a renewal of the delights 
of danger, and hopeful that on his promised return 
to Naples in the first week of the ensuing month he 
should have opportunities for contributing by sea to 
the success of important operations against the 
French in the heart of the Italian peninsula. In 
both hopes he was disappointed. Malta was not to 
be taken in a month. The naval expedition to 
Leghorn was fruitless, because the Neapolitan march 
against the French army that, lying in detached 
bodies all ready to be beaten in batches by an 
able commander and a sufficient army, belted the 


peninsula from sea to sea was a complete fiasco. 
From the first hour of his return to Naples, Nelson 
mistrusted the Neapolitan army, suspected the General- 
in-chief, and had a presentiment of the coming disas- 
ter. It was something that the army had been raised, 
and showed bravely in a march-past. Variously 
estimated at from thirty to forty thousand strong, it 
was made of handsome fellows, but Nelson's eye was 
quick to detect the signs of rawness and inexperi- 
ence, which justified a doubt whether they would 
fight as well as they looked. Trouble also camo 
from divided councils. Thinking with too little 
respect of the considerations, which caused the cau- 
tious Ariola to urge the King to refrain from match- 
ing his new levies against French vetei*ans till the 
Austrians should have come to his support, Nelson, 
ever impatient of delay when there was fighting to 
be done, and ever disdainful of the slowness of land- 
forces, exclaimed hotly to Ferdinand, ' Either advance 
sword in hand, ready for death, but trusting God to 
bless a just cause, or stay and be kicked out of your 
kingdoms !' words that were doubtless softened in 
some degree by the interpreter, who transmitted 
them from the Admiral, who could not speak Italian, 
to the King, who knew scarcely a word of English. 
To such an utterance, however softened, what could 
the Bourbon answer, except that he would go for- 
ward, trusting in God and Nelson ? 

But Mack, the Austrian General, who could not 
f move without five carriages/ was the chief source 
of Nelson's gloomy apprehensions. If this General 
was a competent soldier, he was a singularly unfortu- 


nate chieftain. Luckless in war, he could not even 
command success in a sham-fight, planned for the 
express purpose of exhibiting him to the admiration 
and confidence of the Neapolitans. On seeing the 
General with his troops surrounded by ' the enemy ' 
in a mock-battle, Nelson exclaimed savagely, c This 
fellow does not understand his business.' Southey 
remarks of this inauspicious general, e All that is now 
doubtful concerning this man is whether he was a 
coward or a traitor.' Less charitable historians 
maintain him to have been both. Even by the 
critics, who palliate his disgrace with references to 
the newness of his army and the treachery of his 
officers, it is admitted that he was incompetent. None 
but a writer of rare generosity and greater boldness 
would seriously attempt to prove that Mack was a 
General of genius. 

Whilst Nelson was troubled with secret misgivings, 
though urgent for putting the army at once to the 
test, Maria Caroline was a-glow with martial fervour, 
and whatever the Queen said Lady Hamilton repeat- 
ed with the music of her c strong voice.* The ladies 
of the Court were all for quick war and immediate 
victory ; and, though they are less powerful to win 
battles, women are all powerful in firing manly breasts 
with the desire to win them. The campaign of seven- 
teen days, with which General Mack's name is so 
ingioriously associated, was emphatically Maria Caro- 
line's war, and in its fate it resembled a far grander 
c woman's war' of more recent date. Eighteen thou- 
sand French veterans were in so short a time able to 
drive before them the forty thousand splendidly- 


dressed and picturesque soldiers who marched from 
Naples northward with flying colours and enlivening 
music. The worst consequence of their ignominious 
rout had been so clearly foreseen by Nelson that his 
intolerance of Ariola's prudent counsel is the more 
remarkable. Plis justification of his own scarcely- 
judicious advice was that alacrity offered Ferdinand 
his only chance of victory, or an escape from ignomi- 
nious defeat. 'If Mack is defeated,' he said, c in 
fourteen days this country is lost , for the emperor 
has not yet moved his army, and Naples has not the 
power of resisting the enemy. It was not a case for 
choice, but of necessity, which induced the king to 
march out of his kingdom, and not wait till the 
French had collected a force sufficient to drive him 
out of it in a week.' Had the Neapolitan army been, 
such a fleet as won the victory of the Nile, and could 
the fight have been fought at sea, Nelson would have 
managed matters so that there would have been no 
retreat to Palermo. 




Consequences of Mack's Fiasco Riots and Assassinations at 
Naples Ferdinand's Reluctance to leave Naples Maria 
Caroline's Decision Preparations for the Flight Lady 
Hamilton's Part in them Ducats and Diamonds Secret 
Intercourse between the Hoyal Palace and the British 
Embassy Southey's * Heroine of Modern Romance ' The 
subterranean Passage Sir William Hamilton's Preparations 
for Flight i Our Projects 'Lady and Miss Knight The 
Party at Kelim EffendTs House The Royal Family on 
Board the Vanguard The Fleet at Sea Two thousand 
Fugitives The stormy Passage Scene in the State Cabin 
Lady Hamilton's Self-possession She is Everyone's Com- 
forter Prince Albert dies in her Arms Arrival at Palermo 
Value of Ferdinand's Transported Treasures Levity and 
Luxury of the Court Lady Hamilton's abandoned Valuables 
Sir William Hamilton's Losses Lady Hamilton's Wild 
Talk and Notes Examination of them Lady Hamilton's 
' self -delusive Faculty.' 

1798 A.D. 

THE easy rout of the Neapolitan troops was followed 
by the incidents which Nelson foresaw would ensue 
quickly on a decisive defeat of Ferdinand's army. It 
was followed by riots and assassinations in and near 
Naples, and by a rapid growth of the party in the 
capital that had long been looking to France for the 
means of overthrowing the monarchy and replacing 
it with a republic. 

Under these circumstances, with no means or time 


to convert the brave Lazzaroni into an army capable 
of repelling the French veterans who were marching 
upon Naples, it is not wonderful that Maria Caroline 
decided on the withdrawal to Palermo, which in 
Nelson's opinion offered the only chance of security 
for her person and family, unless she determined to 
quit the Sicilies an alternative which he, of course, 
neither recommended nor suggested. The King, who 
had returned to Naples from his brief stay at Rome, 
was for several reasons reluctant to retreat from the 
capital, where he had the Lazzaroni with him to a 
man, albeit his very household harboured sympa- 
thizers with the French party. Though in crossing 
the water to Palermo he would only be moving from 
one point of his dominions to another, his flight from 
the capital at such a moment would naturally be re- 
garded by his enemies as a first step towards abdica- 
tion. But Maria Caroline was set on retiring to 
Palermo, and it was not in Ferdinand's weak nature 
to oppose her masterful will. Ferdinand, however, 
declared he would not leave Naples without his pri- 
vate store of gold, his jewels, the most precious of 
his works of art, and whatever specie remained in the 
public treasury. If he went to Palermo, he must go 
thither with the means to live like a King. On this 
point the Queen was wholly of his mind. It was, 
therefore, decided that no time should be lost in mov- 
ing the treasure of the Palace, and the best paintings 
from Caserta, on board the transports that would 
attend the vessels of war to the Sicilian capital. 

In her later time, when she had fully persuaded 
herself that the migration from Naples to Palermo 


was made at lier instance, Lady Hamilton used to 
tell how she imposed her project on the King, who 
disliked it strongly, and upon the Queen, in winning 
whose consent she never anticipated difficulty. 'I, 
however,' she wrote in one of the imaginative notes 
which Dr. Petti grew accepted in a spirit that pre- 
cluded him from making allowances for the writer's 
propensity to self-glorification, 'began the work my- 
self, and removed all the jewels, and then thirty-six 
barrels of gold, to our house; these I marked as 
stores for Nelson, being obliged to use every device to 
prevent the attendants having any idea of our pro- 
ceedings. By many such stratagems 1 got those 
treasures embarked, and this point gained, the King's 
resolution of coming off was strengthened the 
Queen I was sure of.' It is not surprising she * was 
sure of the Queen,' as it was Maria Caroline who 
directed the operations, merely using her confidante as 
an agent for carrying them out in some of their 
details. It is certain that Lady Hamilton did not 
move the jewels first and then the gold ; for Maria 
Caroline's letters prove that the removal of the jewels 
was preceded by the removal of the gold. It is 
certain that Lady Hamilton removed from the royal 
palace neither the jewels nor the gold, which were 
sent after dark by Maria Caroline herself to Lady 
Hamilton, who had already been instructed to put 
them in Nelson's charge. 

In the evening of the 17th of December, 1798, 
Maria Caroline was on the point of sending Saverio 
Rodino, Yeoman of the Chamber, with sixty thousand 
gold ducats to the British Embassy, when, on be- 



thinking herself that Lady Hamilton would be away 
from her house at the Marquis of Niza's fete, she 
deferred sending the money till the following even- 
ing. In the night of the 18th, Saverio Eodino 
brought the money under cover of darkness to the 
British Minister's house, together with a note in which 
the Queen (vide Pettigrew's 'Life of Nelson/ vol. ii, 
pp. 175 6) wrote to Lady Hamilton, *I venture to 
send you this evening all the money we have saved, 
both the King's and mine, amounting to 60,000 ducats 
in gold, which is our all, for we have never accumu- 
lated. The diamonds of the family, both male and 
female, will come to-morrow evening to be consigned 
to Lord Admiral Nelson. The General will have 
already spoken to him about our money, that is for 
paying the troops and seamen.' The money referred 
to in this last sentence was probably part of the 
money which Ferdinand was charged by Prince 
Caracciolo with carrying off to Sicily, instead of 
applying it to the proper use the payment of the 
army. Anyhow it was money which certainly Lady 
Hamilton cannot be said to have removed from the 
Royal Palace to c our house.' In the same note, 
dated 17th December, 1798, Maria Caroline wrote, 
4 Saverio, a faithful and sure man, accompanies the 
money. This was written yesterday, but knowing of 
the fete at Niza's, I would not send for fear of incom- 
moding : but to-night I shall send you everything 
jewels, money, and necessaries, for our misfortunes 
are pressing.' 

Later in the same evening of the 18th of December, 
the diamonds of the family,' together with more 


money and necessaries, were brought to the British 
Embassy, for consignment to Nelson. And yet later 
in the same evening, there came from the Eoyal 
Palace to Sir William Hamilton's house a third con- 
signment of goods, together with a note (dated 18th 
December, 1798) in the Queen's handwriting to Lady 
Hamilton, beginning with words to this effect, 
-My dear Lady, I send three more coffers and a small 
box; the three contain some linen for my children 
on board and some dresses, in the box there are some 
small things. I hope it is not wrong to send them, 
the remainder shall go by a Sicilian vessel to avoid 

In the evening of the 19th of December, 1798, 
Maria Caroline sent cases great and small to the 
British Embassy for consignment to Nelson, saying- 
in an accompanying note to Lady Hamilton, ' My 
dear Lady, I abuse your goodness as well as that of 
our brave Admiral. Let the great cases be thrown 
into the hold, the small ones are easier to dispose of. 

Unfortunately I have such a large family 

Pray send me> my dear friend, information of everything 
and be certain of my discretion! In the morning of 
the same day, the Queen had written to Lady 
Hamilton, announcing that these great and small 
cases would arrive at night. c I Mall,' she says in this 
earlier note of 19th December, 1798, i send some more 
cases to-night, but the things belonging to my 
family will be very numerous, as it is for life. Tell 
me frankly then, if I may send to the dock to-night 
by a trusty man (Lalo or Saverio) our trunks and if 
a transport can take them, or if that would be 


troublesome let me know, so that I may then take 
other steps/ The words of this last extract which I 
have printed in italics are a noteworthy indication 
how, in her dismay and depression at the news com- 
ing to her day by day, and hour by hour, of fresh 
disasters to the flying fragments of her army, Maria 
Caroline for the moment conceived of herself as on 
the point of leaving Naples for ever. 

The evidence of these letters by the Queen accords 
with Nelson's account of the preparation for the flight. 
<The whole correspondence, 3 the Admiral wrote to 
Earl St. Vincent on 28th Dec., 1798, < relative to this 
most important business was carried out with the 
greatest address by Lady Hamilton and the Queen, who, 
being constantly in the habits of correspondence, no 
one could suspect. It would have been highly impru- 
dent in either Sir William Hamilton or myself to have 
gone to the Court, as we knew that all our move- 
ments were watched, and even an idea by the 
Jacobins of arresting our persons as a hostage (as they 
foolishly imagined) against the attack of Naples,, 
should the French get possession of it. Lady Hamil- 
ton, from this time' [i.e. 14th Dec.] c to the 21st, every 
night received the jewels of the Royal Family, etc. 
etc., and such clothes as might be necessary for the 
very large party to embark, to the amount, I am con- 
fident, of full two millions five hundred thousand 
pounds sterling.' Reporting that the treasure of the 
palace was received every night by Lady Hamilton, 
Nelson says nothing to imply that she alone arranged 
the flight. 

Falling in with the humour of Lady Hamilton's 


partisans, Southey wrote in his 'Life of Nelson/ 

6 Meantime Lady Hamilton arranged everything for the 
removal of the royal family. This was conducted, on her 
part, with the greatest address, and without suspicion, be- 
cause she had been in habits of constant correspondence with 
the queen. It was known that the removal could not be 
effected without danger ; tor the mob, especially the lazzaroni, 
were attached to the King : and as, at this time, they felt a 
natural presumption in their own numbers and strength, they 
insisted that he should not leave Naples ...... Lady 

Hamilton, like a heroine of modern romance, explored, with 
no little danger, a subterranean passage, leading from the 
palace to the seaside : through this passage the royal trea- 
sures, the choicest pieces of painting and sculpture, and 
other property, to the amount of two millions and a half, 
were conveyed to the shore, and stowed safely on board the 
English ships/ 

As these words have been especially fruitful of 
misconception respecting Lady Hamilton's part in 
the removal of the royal family, they should be con- 
sidered carefully in connection with the aforegiven. 
scraps from the Queen's letters to the ' heroine of 
modern romance,' which afford conclusive evidence 
that, instead of being packed under Lady Hamilton's 
supervision, the royal treasures were prepared for 
removal by Maria Caroline and her confidential ser- 
vants ; that, instead of being removed by Lady Hamil- 
ton and her agents, the treasures were sent by the 
Queen, under charge of her own confidential ser- 
vants, to Lady Hamilton at the British Embassy, for 
consignment to Nelson ; and that, instead of busying 
herself at the palace in packing and removing the 
royal treasures during the days immediately preced- 
ing the flight, Lady Hamilton was no less careful 


than Sir William Hamilton and Nelson to avoid the 
palace, which she could not have visited just then so 
often and openly as romantic biography has alleged, 
without giving rise to suspicions in the populace of 
what was being done secretly. Had Lady Hamilton 
been in close personal communication with the Queen 
on the 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st of December, 
there would have been no need for Maria Caroline to 
write to her so often during those five days. Nor 
would the Queen have written on the 19th clay, en- 
treating Lady Hamilton to send her intelligence of 
what was being done at the British Embassy and the 
docks : c Pray send me, my dear friend, information 
of everything, and be certain of my discretion.' To 
the careful and critical reader of what is published 
in Pettigrew's book of Maria Caroline's letters to her 
confidante, it is obvious that the epistles were one 
side of a correspondence between two women, who 
during those days refrained from visiting one an- 
other, and in communicating with one another by 
letters were at pains to do so with the greatest 
secresy. Moreover, Lady Hamilton was too busy, in 
helping Sir William Hamilton to pack his vases and 
pictures, to have time just then for personal attend- 
ance on the Queen. 

Probably Lady Hamilton visited the subterranean 
passage before the night of the 21st of December. 
Soiithey used language, which could not fail to mis- 
lead hasty and romantic readers, when he wrote that 
c like a heroine of modern romance,' she ' explored, 
with no little danger, the subterraneous passage,' as 
though she were in some sense the discoverer of it. 


In implying, as his words certainly do imply, that 
the royal treasures, after being carried, under Lady 
Hamilton's personal superintendence, through this 
mysterious underground way, were shipt at the 
point, where on the night of the 21st the royal fugi- 
tives were taken on board Nelson's boats, Southey 
was inaccurate. On being conveyed out of the 
palace, the treasures were taken at night either to 
the docks, or to Lady Hamilton's house for transmis- 
sion to the docks, where some of them were put on 
board the vessels appointed to carry them to Palermo, 
whilst other things (like the gold, diamonds, and 
bullion) were put on board the craft appointed to 
cany them to vessels of war lying in the bay. In all 
cases the treasures, instead of being removed out of the 
palace by Lady Hamilton, were sent out of the palace 
by the Queen. In respect to those of the treasures 
which were sent to the British Embassy, Lady Hamil- 
ton was no more than the secret channel through 
which Maria Caroline sent them to Nelson, just as 
she had in former time been the secret channel 
through which the Queen sent political intelligence 
fo Sir William Hamilton and the English government. 
It had been intended that the royal fugitives 
should go on board the Vanguard (Nelson's flag-ship) 
in the night of the 20th of December, but almost at 
the last moment the erabarcation was postponed for 
four-and-twenty hours by a letter, in which Sir John 
Acton informed Nelson that certain money was not yet 
shipped, and that the King and Queen would not 
leave till it was in the British admiral's hands. < Their 
Sicilian Majestyes,' the Prime Minister wrote to Nel- 


son under date of the 20th of December, 1798, c are 
extremely sensible and thankfull to your Lordship's 
counsels and friendley as well as salutary assistance. 
But as the money, unfortunately, is not shipped yet, 
and secured yet under your protection, their Majestyes 
have suspended, till to-morrow night the 21st, their 
embaroation ' : words showing clearly that Ferdi- 
nand held steadily to his resolve of not leaving the 
money behind him, and that their Majesties were 
to the last moment of their stay at Naples not so 
completely at Lady Hamilton's disposal as fanciful 
biographers have represented. In truth, these bio- 
graphers are without a scrap of writing, dated in 
December, 1798, supporting their opinion that Lady 
Hamilton designed and arranged the retreat to Sicily. 
To give this opinion an appearance of resting on 
contemporary manuscript evidence, Pettigrew (vide 
c Life of Nelson,' vol. ii) published this undated and 
unsigned note of Lady Hamilton's writing : c My dear 
Lord, I have this moment received a letter from my 
Adorable Queen. She is arrived with the King. She 
Lad much to do to persuade him, but he approved 
of all our projects. She is worn out with fatigue to- 
morrow I will send you her letter. God bless you. 
Yours sincerely.' This brief note from Lady Hamil- 
ton to Nelson is clearly insufficient for the justifica- 
tion of the biographers. Showing that Ferdinand 
on his return from Rome disliked the notion of re- 
treating from Naples (a matter that has never been 
questioned), the note shows also that the projects, 
which had Nelson's and Lady Hamilton's approval, 
were also the projects of the Queen, who had with 


much difficulty persuaded the King to assent to them. 
But though it has been strangely exaggerated and 
miscoloured by romantic writers, Lady Hamilton's 
share in the arrangements for transferring the Nea- 
politan court to Palermo was far from trivial. In- 
deed, it was so singular and important as to need no 
overstatements and poetical embellishments for the 
enlargement of the title it gave her to be rated with 
famous Englishwomen. It is sufficiently romantic 
that a woman, who some twenty years before had 
been a London nurserymaid, was the one lady of 
quality on whose discretion and fidelity a proud 
queen could fully rely at a moment of overwhelming 
misfortune and extreme peril. She would have earned 
a niche in the historic Temple, had she only served 
Maria Caroline faithfully in receiving and transmitting 
the consignments of treasure, and in keeping the 
Queen precisely informed of Nelson's arrangements 
for moving the Court. But Lady Hamilton did more 
than this. Whilst proving herself a good medium of 
intercourse between Maria Caroline and the British 
Admiral, she aided the Queen with judicious advice 
touching the details of the measures in progress, and 
in various ways contributed so greatly to the success 
of the project, to the comfort of the royal fugitives 
during the stormy and perilous voyage, and also to 
their comfort after they had landed at Palermo, that 
Lord Nelson did not exceed the license of compliment 
in declaring that c she seemed to be an angel dropt 
from Heaven for the preservation of the Royal family.' 
She was also greatly serviceable to several people,, 
on whose secresy she could rely, in giving them timely 


notice to prepare for events, that might at any moment 
render them greatly desirous of leaving Naples in a 
well-convoyed transport. 

Of the brief notes she. penned for the guidance and 
encouragement of divers Englishwomen as the hour 
for flight drew nearer, the following undated scrap of 
writing may be given as a fair example: : 'Tis im- 
possible, my dear Miss Knight, to come to you to-day 
nor this even ; for we have to go out. Things are 
as they were, hit keep yourself in readiness, do pray. 
No embarcation for the things, the weather being so 
bad. So patience. We shall see the Queen this even. 
God blessyou booth. Your agitated and sincere Emma. 
I will advise you, my clearest friend, to-night, for 

Prince C lay. I am sure it will be done. 5 This 

brief note, which must have been greatly reassuring 
to Lady and Miss Knight, who had not received 
particulars of information that could not be safely 
communicated to a large number of persons, seems to 
have been written in the afternoon of the 21st of 

All arrangements for withdrawing the Eoyal family 
from a position of rapidly growing perils had been 
made before nightfall of that day. On the evening 
of the 21st it was necessary for the British Minister's 
wife to appear at a party given by Kelim Effendi, the 
envoy sent to Naples by the Grand Signior to put in 
Nelson's hands the Plume of Triumph. Had she 
failed to attend this assembly her absence might have 
roused suspicions that would have imperilled the 
enterprise, for which there had been so much hidden 
preparation. On stealing from the party when it was 


at its gayest. Lady Hamilton hastened on foot to the 
Eoyal Palace, thinking it best to leave her carriage 
and servants where they would cause spectators to 
imagine she was still at the fete. As she drew her 
wraps about her and lowered her veil, so that she 
might not be recognized by any of the throng about 
Kelim Effendi's house, it wanted only a quarter of an 
hour of the time when she had promised to be with 
the Queen, and attend her through the subterranean 
passage, at whose seaward exit they and their party 
would be received by Nelson and Captain Hope, ready 
to conduct the fugitives to three barges, lying close to 
shore at the corner of the arsenal. No hitch occurred 
in the execution of the well-matured arrangement. 
The Admiral came towards Maria Caroline and Ferdi- 
nand at the shore-end of the hidden viaduct, the well- 
manned boats were at the appointed spot, and at nine 
p.m. the King and Queen came on board the Vanguard 
with their family, the Queen feeling she had got out 
of Naples none too soon, whilst the King was of 
opinion he should have done wrong to stay there much 

Ferdinand and Maria Caroline safe on board the 
Vanguard, notice was given promptly to the British 
merchants, who had embarked property in the trans- 
ports bound for Palermo, that they would be received 
on board one or another of the ships of the squadron. 
These merchants having been provided with accommo- 
dation for the voyage, notice was given to the mer- 
chants of other nationalities that, if they wished to 
join in the retreat, they should lose no time in seeking 
admittance to the transports. Arrangements had of 


course already been made for the reception of high, 
official personages, well-affected nobles and loyal 
courtiers, together with some of their servants. Be- 
fore all these various people could gain their respective 
vessels, the royal personages on the Vanguard had 
passed two dreary nights and two long days at anchor 
in the bay, whilst a wind, that would have borne them 
gaily to Palermo, blew steadily from the north-east. 
At length on the night of the 23rd (Captain W. H. 
Smyth says 24th) the fleet, with some two thou- 
sand fugitives on board, moved out to sea, the 
Vanguard taking the lead of the Archimedes (a Nea- 
politan 74-gun ship of the line) and the /Smw'ta corvette, 
commanded by Francesco Caracciolo, and some twenty 
sail of merchantmen and transports. 

The wind still blew from the east, and all went 
fairly well till the fleet cleared Capri, when one of 
those sudden disturbances of the atmosphere, that are 
common in all seas, but are perhaps more frequent 
in the Mediterranean than in any other sea, gave a 
less agreeable prospect to the voyagers. Chopping in 
-a trice from east to west, the wind rose in squalls that 
were in themselves bad weather, and declared no 
better weather might be looked for till a fierce and 
boisterous gale had spent itself. Kain was falling in 
torrents, when, at about half-past one, a violent blast 
of wind from the west-south-west struck the Vanguard, 
rending her topsails, driver and foretopmast staysail 
to ribbons. The shock was not favourable to the 
dignity and bearing of the royal personages, the 
ambassadors, Neapolitan nobles, English gentlemen 
-and potential merchants, who had deemed themselves 


fortunate in getting safely to the British admiral's 
war-ship. For some hours it seemed to the landlubbers 
that they had escaped danger on land only to 
encounter death at sea. The scene in Nelson's cabin 
was superlatively wretched, though the prevailing 
misery was not without comical incidents, in a throng 
of people trained by years of courtly service to 
honour the rules of etiquette even more highly than 
the precepts of virtue. 

It was now that Lady Hamilton, an excellent 
sailor, displayed some of her most valuable qualities. 
Taking to her arms the younger of the royal chil- 
dren, who were very fond of her, she fondled them 
with the dexterity of a woman who had herself been 
a nursery-maid, and cheered them with kisses, as she 
carried them off to their berths. The babes having been 
disposed of, Lady Hamilton hastened to the Queen 
(whose attendants were all prostrate with sea-sick- 
ness) and waited on her like a servant. After putting 
the unhappy Queen in such poor ease as was attain- 
able under the circumstances, she went off in search 
of her husband, dropping on her way sympathetic 
words to the sufferers, who impeded her progress. 
When she at length came upon Sir William in his 
sleeping-cabin, she found him sitting calmly with a 
loaded pistol in either hand., as though he had a 
purpose of ending the hurricane with a bullet. On 
being asked what he was after, Sir William explained 
that, as soon as he felt the vessel sinking, he meant 
to shoot himself, so as to escape hearing the * guggle- 
guggle-guggle of the salt-water in his throat.' It is 
to be regretted that, whilst putting this droll story 


on paper. Captain W. H. Smyth omitted to put on 
record how Lady Hamilton replied to her husband 
with rallying laughter, before she hastened back to 
the state-cabin to offer her services to sufferers less 
capable of taking care of themselves. 

Soon it devolved on the British Minister's wife to 
nurse a drooping infant, whose faint spirit even her 
love and tenderness could not revive. On the morn- 
ing of the 25th, just as the storm was abating, Maria 
Caroline's youngest child, the Prince Albert, was 
taken by illness that, having its origin in sea-sickness, 
soon closed in death. Languishing throughout the 
day in Lady Hamilton's embrace, the seven years old 
child died in her arms during the evening. On the 
following morning (December 26th), the royal family 
landed at Palermo ; the Queen and Princesses being 
taken privately on shore so early as five a.m., and the 
King leaving tbe Vanguard four hours later, when he 
was welcomed to the island with every sign of loyalty 
and delight by a large multitude of people. When 
the passengers had been taken from the Vanguard, 
the fugitives who had come from Naples in other 
vessels were landed in turn. For some days the 
populace of Palermo found their chief diversion in 
watching the pallid faces and disordered dress of the 
wretched voyagers, who crept languidly to shore 
from the storm-beaten ships. Writing from recollec- 
tion, Miss Knight was under the impression that her 
turn for landing did not come till the 1st of Janu- 
ary, 1799. 

The value of the treasures brought to Palermo by 
Ferdinand and Maria Caroline has been variously 


estimated. Whilst some writers put the sum at two 
millions or two and a half millions of English money, 
others have assigned a much higher value to the 
transported property. In one account of the Prince's 
injudicious speech before the court-martial that sen- 
tenced him to death, Caracciolo is represented as 
saying, The King collected everything that could 
be converted into specie, on pretence of paying that 
army, embarked it in His Britannic Majesty's ship 
Vanguard, to the enormous amount of 500 casks, and 
fled with it to Palermo, there to riot in luxurious 
safety.' General Pepe computed the value of the 
antiquities, works of art, bullion and specie, thus 
carried away from Naples, at twenty million ducats. 
Computations depending chiefly on appraisements of 
chattels of uncertain value cannot be relied upon as 
precisely accurate statements of fact. But whilst It 
is certain that Ferdinand arrived in Sicily with the 
means of maintaining his court for a while in all its 
customary splendour, it is no less certain that, at a 
time of supreme national calamity, the transplanted 
court lived with a gaiety and profuseness that would 
have been adequate to its dignity and the require- 
ments of policy at a season of prosperity. Something 
no doubt may be urged in palliation, if not in defence, 
of the brilliant extravagance and costly pomp, with 
which the King and Queen diverted themselves in 
what might almost be called ' their exile.' It would, 
of course, have been unwise of him to live in seclu- 
sion from the nobles of the island; and as it was 
incumbent on him to receive them, he was not 
without good reasons for receiving them with regal 


state and a show of cheerfulness. But when, con- 
siderations of this kind have been urged in palliation 
of luxurious frivolities, it remains that the Court and 
the wealthier islanders displayed at this dark time of 
national distress a levity and eagerness for pleasure, 
that were alike discreditable to their patriotism and 

For the main purpose of this book, it is less im- 
portant to know how much treasure Ferdinand took 
with him from Naples than to ascertain how much 
the British Minister and his wife lost through the 
emergencies, that made them, the companions of Maria 
Caroline's flight. In her later time, when she was 
dominated by the most astounding misconceptions of 
what she had done and suffered in Italy for her 
country's good, Lady Hamilton used to aver that, in 
their zeal for the welfare of the royal family, and in 
their unwillingness to do anything to provoke sus- 
picions which might imperil the success of the 
measures for withdrawing the King and the royalists 
from the grip of the French party, she and Sir 
William Hamilton went on board the Vanguard to 
Palermo, without having packed and consigned to 
safe-keeping any of their most valuable possessions. 
Bather than lessen the chances of the royal family's 
escape, they left their houses at Naples, Caserta, and 
Posilippo, with all their artistic treasures, to be pil- 
laged by the revolutionists of Naples, and by the 
French who , were marching on Naples. She made 
this statement byword of mouth. She made it also 
in written notes, for the instruction of those of her 
partisans who urged successive Administrations to 


grant her a pension. Writing from some of these 
notes, Dr. Pettigrew produced these three sentences 
for the information of his readers, 

c To effect, however, the safe departure of the Royal 
family, together with the property which had thus been con- 
veyed on board the ships, it is obvious many sacrifices must 
have been necessarily made. The Ambassador was obliged 
to abandon his house, together with all the valuables it con- 
tained, nor was lie able to convey away a single article. 
The private property of Sir William and Lady Hamilton was 
voluntarily left to prevent discovery of the proceeding, and 
this Lady Hamilton estimated at 9,000 on her own account 
and not less than 30,000 on that of Sir William.' ' 

Because this wild statement, made on Lady Hamil- 
ton's authority, is curiously devoid of historic truth, 
it does not follow that she was conscious of the 
egregious inaccuracy of her assertions, or even had 
a purpose of qualifyiug the assertions with an ele- 
ment of serviceable exaggeration, when she made her 
friends believe, that with heroical disinterestedness 
she voluntarily abandoned nine thousand pounds 
worth of her own valuables, and that her husband in 
the same chivalrous spirit voluntarily abandoned 
thirty thousand pounds worth of his valuables, rather 
than do anything which might cause curious and 
dangerous Neapolitans to say to one another, * That 
the great people are preparing to fly appears from the 
number of cases that are being packed at the British 
Embassy, and sent night after night to the docks.' 
In her later time, Lady Hamilton forgot that, instead 
of being voluntarily abandoned, all her husband's 
choicest vases were packed with the greatest possible 
care, in eight several cases and shipt for England on 


board the Colossus. She forgot that, instead of being 
voluntarily abandoned, a large number of her hus- 
band's inferior vases, and most of his pictures, were 
carefully packed, sent to the docks, and put on board 
a certain British transport, that accompanied the 
fleet from Naples to Palermo in December 1798, and 
was lying, with the vases and pictures still on board, 
in the port of Palermo, so late as the 8th of April 1799. 
She forgot that these last-named cases and pictures 
eventually reached London and were sold in London. 
She forgot that, instead of being voluntarily aban- 
doned, the furniture, which her husband left at 
Naples, Caserta, and Posilippo, when he fled to 
Palermo, was reluctantly abandoned, because Sir Wil- 
liam Hamilton could not find time and men requisite 
for packing it and conveying it to the docks. During 
their brief occupation of Naples, the French, no doubt, 
took possession of most of this furniture. But to 
value at 3(1,000 what may have been worth 
3,000, but can scarcely have been worth 6,000, 
would be absurd. Lady Hamilton forgot that, whilst 
Maria Caroline and her confidential agents were 
packing goods at the Royal Palace of Naples, and at 
Caserta, for transmission to the docks, the same kind 
of work was being done at the British Embassy, by 
Sir William Hamilton, his wife, and the confidential 

How about the valuables, worth 9,000, which in 
her later time Lady Hamilton imagined herself to 
have voluntarily abandoned, for the advantage of the 
Eoyal family of the Two Sicilies, and for the good 
of Great Britain, whose honour and interest were 


concerned for the successful removal of that family to 
Naples'? No doubt, she had diamonds and other 
jewels, that were altogether of considerable value. 
But these valuables she carried from Naples to 
Palermo, and subsequently carried from Italy to Lon- 
don, where she is known to have parted with them 
for a particular purpose, to be mentioned hereafter. 
These precious things, therefore, were no part of the 
voluntarily abandoned valuables. She had several 
handsome dresses, given to her from time to time by 
Sir William Hamilton, and a considerable wardrobe 
of wearing apparel, bought with part of her allow- 
ance of 200 a-year. But she carried with her to 
Palermo at least some of her best dresses. A con- 
siderable proportion of her stock of wearing-apparel 
seems to have been left at Naples, and in some way 
to have been lost to her. But for this loss, she was 
compensated twice, thrice, and again by the gifts of 
clothing made to her by Maria Caroline. One is, 
therefore, driven to the conclusion, that the valu- 
ables which Lady Hamilton abandoned, on 'her flight 
to Palermo, and for whose voluntary abandon- 
ment she received no recompense, were imaginary 

At the date of the alleged voluntary abandon- 
ment, Lady Hamilton had been in Italy some fourteen 
years. She came thither with a slender wardrobe 
and a few pounds in her pocket. During these four- 
teen years she cannot on the average have spent 
more than a hundred-a-year on her clothes and other 
more or less durable chattels. In all, the things of 
dress cannot have cost her originally more than 1,400. 


Yet, she imagined that the voluntarily abandoned 
portion of them had a value of 9,000. 

In her earlier time, the emotional Lady Hamilton 
had a faculty of talking herself out of all reasonable 
view of the actual proportions of things. Even 
when he was bearing testimony to her truthfulness 
and sincerity, Mr. Charles Qreville used sometimes to- 
speak of this faculty, as one of the most distinguish- 
ing forces of her mental constitution. To this faculty 
it was, no doubt, in some degree due that, whilst still 
quite a young woman, she persuaded herself into 
thinking Mr. Greville a supremely good man. Even 
when it has been restrained and kept in abeyance for 
years, this faculty (not uncommon in highly emotional 
women) is apt to regain its power in a woman's mind, 
and, as she slowly loses her vigour in middle age, to 
dominate the other mental forces, with which it is 
associated. It was so in her later time with Lady 
Hamilton, who, on losing prematurely much of her 
physical activity and mental alertness, may be said to 
have surrendered herself to her faculty of talking her- 
self out of all reasonable view of the proportions of 
things. To this faculty must be mainly attributed 
her extravagant estimate of her c services to an un- 
grateful country.' 

No doubt, in the years of her premature failure, she 
was sometimes less truthful than, she should have 
been. On one matter, indeed, she was at least on one 
occasion betrayed into deplorable falsehood. But 
even to the last, after ill-health and bodily self-indul- 
gence and bitter mortification had sadly deteriorated 


her, she was in the main a loyal, generous, honest 
creature. As for her wonderful talk about the proper- 
ty she and her husband abandoned on their night to 
Palermo, I attribute it wholly to the dangerous 
' faculty/ and in no degree whatever to deliberate 




Championet's first Proclamation Desperate Fighting round 
Naples Slaughter of the Lazzaroni Fall of the Capital 
The Parthenopeian Republic Its Extortionate Extrava- 
gances Disgust of the Neapolitans Reaction for the 
Monarchy Insurrections in Calabria and Apulia Cardinal 
Ruffo's Successes Macdonald's Retreat Austrian Victories 
Election at Palermo Recovery of the Islands Blockade 
of Naples Nelson's Activity and Operations His Fleet 
before Naples Cardinal Ruffo's impudent Negociations 
Capitulation of the Castles Particulars of the Shameful 
Treaty Nelson's Repudiation, of the Treaty His Reasons 
for annulling the Treaty Ruifo on board the Foudroyant 
Lady Hamilton acting as Interpreter between the Cardinal 
and the Admiral Misconceptions of Nelson's Conduct 
Consequent Calumnies Southey's 'Life of Nelson' Its 
deplorable Errors Alison misled by Southey. 

1799 A.D. 

No long time after his landing at Palermo, Ferdinand 
was in possession of intelligence, which must have 
caused him to be thankful he was away from Naples. 
On approaching that capital with his veterans, Cham- 
pionet issued a proclamation, containing this an- 
nouncement of his temper and purpose: 'Be not 
alarmed, we are not your enemies. The French 
punish unjust and haughty kings, but they bear no 
arms against the people. Those who show them- 


selves friends of the Republic will be secured in their 
persons and property, and experience only its protec- 
tion. Disarm the perfidious wretches who excite you 
to resistance. You will change your government for 
one of a republican form : I am about to establish a 
provisional government.' The perfidious wretches 
were the brave Lazzaroni and other populace of 
Naples, who a few days later covered themselves 
with honour in bravely resisting the invader. To 
show that the French bore no arms against the peo- 
ple, Championet lost no time in sweeping down with 
volleys of grape-shot those of the Neapolitans who 
were patriotic enough to oppose the benevolent 
soldiers of France. As the populace rushed forward 
to defend their capital, they fell before the guns of 
the General who bore no arms against these people. 
In the fights of the 21st and 22nd of January, 1799, 
the gallant Lazzaroni were slaughtered to the num- 
ber of several thousands by the philanthropists, who 
only desired to liberate them from oppression. On 
the 23rd of January, 1799, whilst French infantry 
moved in dense columns towards the capital, so as to 
hold all the approaches to its various quarters, the 
guns of St. Elmo, directed by Neapolitan traitors, 
poured cannon-shot down upon the city. When 
night fell, Naples was in the hands of the liberators, 
Charnpionet's troops and the Neapolitan traitors. 

A provisional government having been already 
organized at Championet's head-quarters, with Charles 
Laubert for its controlling spirit, the fall of the 
capital was followed quickly by the establishment 
of the Parthenopeian Republic, with a constitution 


that could not have been formed in a way more cer- 
tain to achieve the end, had its chief object been 
to make the Neapolitan revolutionists repent their 
action against the monarchy. One of the govern- 
ment's earliest acts was to placard Naples with mani- 
festoes for the education of the populace. Signed 
by Championet, one of these placards contained 
words to the following effect : ' Who is the Capet 
who pretends to reign over you, in virtue of the 
investiture of the Pope ? Who is the crowned scoun- 
drel who dares to govern you ? Let him dread the 
fate of his rival, who crushed by his despotism the 
rising liberty of the Gauls!' Had not Ferdinand 
and his family escaped from Naples before the arrival 
of the General, who was capable of stimulating in 
this manner the murderous passions of the Neapolitan 
Jacobins, it is at least conceivable that the menace 
would have proved no idle threat, and that Ferdinand 
and Maria Caroline would, like Louis and Marie 
Antoinette, have died by the executioner. 

Established on the 27th t of January, 1799, and 
extinguished at the latest by the first anniversary 
of the Battle of the Nile (1st of August, 1799), the 
Parthenopeian Kepublic, or Vesuvian Kepublic, as 
Nelson used to call it, endured long enough to 
teach the Neapolitan Jacobins that it might be 
better for a people to endure the ills of a defective 
monarchical rule than to fly to the unknown evils 
of a brand-new republican government, maintained 
by foreign bayonets. Those of the Neapolitan nobles, 
who had secretly encouraged the Jacobins of the 
Neapolitan < French party,' under the impression that 


the new order of things would afford them greater 
powers and lighter taxes, were not long in discover- 
ing how incorrectly they had counted the changes, 
and forecast the consequences of the revolution. In 
a few weeks they learnt from bitter experience how 
far lighter Ferdinand's rod and rule were than the 
despotism of the liberating Directory. No conquered 
city has in modern times been handled more harshly 
by its victor than Naples was handled by the govern- 
ment, with which the French generals replaced the 
Bourbon's tyranny. To defray the first charges of 
the enterprise that was to have lightened the bur- 
dens of all classes, the inhabitants of the capital were 
required to provide immediately twelve millions of 
francs, whilst the citizens of the rest of the country 
were ordered to pay no less promptly fifteen millions 
of francs. On the arrival of Faypoult, to act as 
commissary of the Republican Convention, orders 
were made for the sequestration of all royal property, 
the estates of monasteries, banks containing the pro- 
perty of individuals, the * allodial lands, of which 
the King was only administrator, and even,' says 
Alison, < the curiosities of Herculaneum and Pompeii, 
though still buried in the bowels of the earth.' A 
financial genius, with as fine a scent for hidden 
as for overt treasure, Faypoult took all he could 
get, and then, like the daughters of the horse-leech, 
cried for more. All his notions and conceptions of 
financial administration may be summed up in the 
one word 'sequestration.' Even Championet, with 
all his greed and shamelessness, was so astounded 
and scared by this fellow's outrageous proceedings 


as to suspend the grand decree of the Convention, 
that might be described as a decree for the confisca- 
tion of almost everything not in the possession of 
republicans. Championet paid dearly for his rash- 
ness in questioning the discretion of Faypoult's 
official method. Summoned to Paris, to answer a 
charge of disobedience, he had the mortification of 
seeing Macdonald promoted to the supreme com- 
mand of the French army at Naples. 

In one respect the French generals and civil func- 
tionaries of the Parthenopeian Republic showed them- 
selves stern republicans. No one could charge them 
with tenderness to individuals from whom anything 
could be squeezed, and to institutions having anything 
that was worth the trouble of stealing. They pillaged 
arsenals, palaces, modest homes, nobles, merchants, and 
petty traders with even-handed rapacity. Wherever 
they came on bronze cannon they seized the guns in 
the name of the republic, and, melting them down, 
sold the metal to the highest bidder. Having dealt 
in this fashion with the cannon, they did likewise with 
bronze statues and other bronze ornaments of the 
streets of Naples. Nothing that could be converted 
into money was too small for these gentlemen to notice 
and pocket for the good of humanity. 

Such extravagant and exasperating extortion ne- 
cessarily gave rise to discontents that were no less 
bitter and vehement in the capital than in the rural 
districts, though the fury against the pick-pocket 
government broke into open rebellion in the provinces, 
where nascent insurrection could be hopeful of success, 
sooner than in Naples, where the authorities were 


vigilant to detect, and prompt to punish the first signs 
of popular disaffection. Several futile risings pre- 
ceded the revolts in Calabria and Apulia, which 
speedily assumed proportions that justified the exiles 
at Palermo in regarding them as signs of a strong 
reaction in favour of monarchy. Cardinal Ruffo may 
perhaps have been as bad at heart as he seemed to 
Nelson, who used to style him < The Great Devil, who 
commanded the Christian army;' but it can scarcely 
be questioned that, In the matter of the Calabrian 
insurrection, he rendered good service to the cause 
which he was suspected a few months later of wish- 
ing to injure. A reasonable explanation of the belli- 
gerent Cardinal's doubtful and curious game in the 
commotions of 1799 is, that, whilst sincerely desirous 
of ridding the country of the French Invaders, he 
wished to put himself on good terms with both parties 
of the state, and whilst retaining the King's sense of 
obligation for timely services, to have the grateful 
regard of the Jacobins for what Nelson used to call 
the ' shameful armistice.' Could it be justified by 
evidence, this hypothesis would explain what is 
especially perplexing in the Cardinal's conduct of the 
negociations for the surrender of the Castles Nuovo 
and Uovo. Anyhow, it must be admitted that in the 
early spring he did good service to Ferdinand and 
Maria Caroline by bringing together an army of fifteen 
thousand men, who, whatever may have been their 
military deficiencies, proved themselves capable of 
thrashing a numerous force of the Parthenopeian 
trained bands. It was even more to the good fortune 
of their Sicilian Majesties, that, whilst Cardinal Ruffo 


was doing thus much, for their eventual restoration, 
ihe French in the north of Italy were sustaining 
reverses, which speedily resulted in the order Mac- 
don aid received to withdraw from Naples and bring 
his army to Lombardy. 

Sanguine, from an early day of April, of recovering 
speedily all they had lost through Mack's incom- 
petence, Ferdinand and Maria Caroline no sooner 
heard that, leaving garrisons in St. Elmo, Nuovo, 
TJovo, Capua, and Gaeta, Macdonald had begun his 
northward retreat with twenty thousand men, than 
they were hopeful of being back at Naples in the 
earliest month of autumn. In considering the 
gaiety and lightness that distinguished the life of the 
Sicilian court during April, May and June, the reader 
should take account of the natural effect of this ex- 
hilarating confidence in the King who loved pleasure 
and ease, and in the Queen who delighted in pomp 
and power. 

In March, 1799, Nelson received the freedom of 
Palermo, where he had held the Royal family tinder 
his protection from the close of the previous year. 
On the 28th of that month he ordered Troubridge to 
take Procida and blockade Naples, acting thus prompt- 
ly on Ferdinand's verbal authority, which was not 
put in writing and formally dated till the ,30th of 
March. That Troubridge resembled his chief in 
promptitude and energy appears from the fact that, 
within twenty-four hours of the date of the Royal 
mandate for the blockade of Naples, and the recovery 
of the rebel islands of the bay, Nelson was master of 
the island, and had also their leading Jacobins close 


prisoners on board his ships. Five days later (April 
the 5th), the British Admiral celebrated with a salute 
from the guns of his squadron, the recent victories of 
the Austrians over the French the victories that, 
together with the animating news of Cardinal RufiVs 
successful operations against the Parthenopeian 
trained bands, so greatly elated the King and Queen 
of Naples. 

But whilst he was protecting the Sicilian court and 
acting so energetically for the restoration of their 
Sicilian Majesties to the nobler portion of their 
dominions, in accordance with the spirit and letter of 
the instructions with which he had been sent into the 
Mediterranean in the previous year, it may not be 
supposed that he was even for a single hour un- 
mindful of the larger and controlling part of those 
instructions, which required him to do his utmost to 
diminish and destroy the naval power of the French. 
In guarding the Royal family of Naples he was acting 
against the French. In seizing the islands he was 
acting against the French. In blockading Naples, 
still held by the garrisons of Graeta, Capua, St. Elmo, 
Nuovo and Uovo, he was acting against the French. 
At Malta, partly held and altogether blockaded by 
Captain (afterwards Sir) Alexander Ball, he was acting 
against the French. The Admiral's letters and dis- 
patches overflow with conclusive evidence, that, 
instead of yielding to the fascinations of Lady Hamil- 
ton and the enervating frivolities of the Court during 
his stay at Palermo, till he became for a time in- 
different to duty and careless of glory, as his calum- 
niators had the villainous folly to assert. Nelson 


never for a week, day, hour or minute was aught less 
than the good and supremely noble Nelson, who 
lives in the hearts of all chivalrous Englishmen as the 
greatest naval commander of all England's story, and 
the finest example of the human nature that has 
made Great Britain the greatest nation of the universe. 
On learning in May 1799, that a French fleet (of 
eighteen or nineteen ships-of-the-line and eight or ten 
frigates or sloops) had put out from Brest, and been 
sighted off Oporto, Nelson was confident the arma- 
ment would pass the straits, and infest the vast sea 
he had been appointed to hold against any combina- 
tion of Frenchmen and Spaniards. The intelligence 
came to him on 12th of May 1799, and on the same 
day, he wrote letters to Rear-Admiral Duckworth, 
Captain Troubridge, Captain (Sir Alexander) Ball, 
and Earl St. Vincent, touching arrangements for 
destroying the armament, should it presume to enter 
his sea. On the following day (13th of April), in his 
anxiety for Sicily, which had been confided to his 
keeping, and in his eagerness to be in the fray 
wherever British guns should batter the hostile force 
to pieces, he wrote (vide Pettigrew's c Nelson/ vol. i, 
p. 225) to Earl St. Vincent, c Should you come up- 
wards without a battle, I hope in that case you will 
afford me an opportunity of joining you ; for my heart 
would break to be near my Commander-in-chief, and 
not assisting him in such a time. What a state I am 
in ! If I go, I risk, and more than risk, Sicily, and 
what is now safe on the Continent ; for we know, 
from experience, that more depends on opinion than 
on acts themselves. As I stay, my heart is breaking.' 


After pushing on his preparations with characteristic 
zeal, as though every hour might be a lost opportu- 
nity, and chafing at a brief delay for needful rein- 
forcements, Nelson sailed on the 20th of May in 
the Vanguard for Maritime, "where he remained till 
28th of May, when he returned in the Foudroyant to 
Palermo, at Ferdinand's urgent entreaty, and none 
too soon for the King's needs. On the 12th of 
June, 1799, just four days after shifting his flag from 
the Vanguard to the Foudroyant, he wrote to Earl 
St. Yincent, ' Let me entreat you come to us with a 
force fit to fight. We will search the French out, 
and either in Leghorn, Espezia, or Naples, we will 
have at them. We shall have so much pleasure in 
fighting under the eye of our ever great and good 
Earl.' This to his Commander-in-chief from the 
Admiral, who was yearning to < have at the French * 
the Admiral, who, according to the slanderers and 
scribblers, had fallen so completely under the vitiat- 
ing sway of a lovely woman, as to prefer luxurious 
sloth to perilous activity, and to be careless for his 
own and his country's glory ! 

On the 13th of June, 1799, taking Maria Caroline's 
eldest son on board the Foudroyant, Nelson sailed 
with his squadron for Naples ; but, on receiving new 
intelligence of the French fleet's movements, he 
returned to Palermo, and after landing the Sicilian 
Hereditary Prince there, sailed again for Maritime, 
with sixteen sail-of-line, a fire-ship, a brig, a cutter, 
and high hopes of meeting, beating, defeating the 
enemy in another day or two. 6 Not one moment,' 
he wrote to Lord Keith, who had now succeeded 



Earl St. Vincent In the chief command, c shall be lost 
in bringing them to battle; for I consider the best 
defence of his Sicilian Majesty's dominions, is to 
place myself alongside the French.' But, though he 
was quick enough in sending intelligence, Lord 
Keith was exasperatingly slow in sending needful re- 
inforcements. On the 18th of June, 1799, Nelson 
(vide Pettigrew's ' Life/ vol. i, p. 236) wrote to Lady 

4 1 long to be at the French fleet as much as ever a Miss 
longed for a husband, but prudence stops me. Ought I to 
risk giving the cursed French a chance of being mistress of 
the Mediterranean for one hour ? I must have reinforce- 
ments very soon. Ah ! Lord Keith, you have placed me in 
a situation to lower me in the eyes of Europe ; they will say 
this cried-up Nelson is afraid with eighteen ships to strike 
twenty-two. The thought kills me. I know what I am. 
equal to, and what ships and men can do, and I declare to 
God if no more ships could join me, that I would instantly 
search out the French fleet, and fight them ; for, believe me, 
I have no fear but that of being lowered in the opinion of 
those I love and esteem.' 

Men, who are enervated by voluptuous ease, are 
not apt to write in this strain to their companions in 
sloth. That Nelson wrote in this style to Lady 
Hamilton is of itself strong testimony that he did 
i not regard her as an influence, baneful to his better 
self. But there is superabundant evidence, that 
he was scarcely more sensitive than she for his 
honour, nor readier to make sacrifices for either its en- 
hancement or its preservation. Let this b admitted 
in bare justice to the woman who, iix her vain and 
egotistic way, lived to find her chief pride and com- 
fort, in imagining she had contributed to his glory. 


Let us admit this, notwithstanding our reasonable 
irritation against the source of embarrassments, that 
threw a momentary vapour of passing discredit on 
Nelson's honour. 

Eeceiving on the 20th of June, 1799, from Lord 
Keith a dispatch, which caused him to change his 
plan. Nelson lost no time in returning to Palermo, 
and sailing thence for Naples, after taking the Here- 
ditary Prince and Sir William and Lady Hamilton on 
board the Foudroyant, Whilst the Hereditary Prince 
appeared in the Bay of Naples as the premier general 
of his father's army, Nelson was invested by virtue of 
the Order, to which reference has already been made 
in this chapter, with the powers pertaining to the 
Commander-in-chief of the expedition for the blockade. 
Under the peculiar circumstances of the case, there- 
fore, the British Admiral's ship became the seat of 
Ferdinand's government in the Bay of Naples. In 
taking with him the British Minister, who was wholly 
in the confidence of both the King and Queen, Nelson 
had an associate especially qualified to give him dis- 
creet counsel on civil matters, whilst acting as his 
interpreter. Lady Hamilton accompanied the expe- 
dition, in order that she might assist her husband 
with her pen and knowledge of Italian. How she 
acted as interpreter between Cardinal Buffo and 
Nelson, in their long and vehement altercation 
respecting the capitulation of the castles, will soon 
appear. It will also be seen, how she was again used 
as the channel through which Maria Caroline made her 
own and her husband's views on questions of state- 
policy known to the British Admiral. In fact, whilst 


acting as interpreter by won? of mouth between Nelson 
and the Italians who had personal conferences with 
him, Lady Hamilton acted in the same capacity with 
her pen between the Admiral in the Bay of Naples and 
their Sicilian Majesties at Palermo. That, in this last- 
named part of her functions on board the Foudroyant, 
she regarded herself at the time as the mere channel 
through which the absent Queen 6 gave her orders ' 
will be seen from a remarkable letter, soon to be sub- 
mitted to the readers of this work. At a later date, 
she was also constituted in an informal way Maria 
Caroline's representative and agent for the arrange- 
ment of multifarious matters with ladies of the Nea- 
politan nobility. Whilst thus acting as a mediator 
between the Queen and certain of Her Majesty's sub- 
jects, Lady Hamilton did not misdescribeher peculiar 
position and power, when she styled herself the 
Queen's representative. 

When Nelson entered the Bay of Naples with a 
powerful squadron on the 24th of June, 1799, vigor- 
ous measures were being taken by the combined 
British, Russian, Turkish, and Neapolitan forces for 
the reduction of the Forts of Gaieta, Capua, and St. 
Elmo. For four days active hostilities against the 
Castles Uovo and Nuovo had been suspended in con- 
sequence of Cardinal Euffo's negociations for the 
surrender of those two forts, commanding the anchor- 
age of the bay. Of the circumstances and particulars 
of these negociations something must be said. 

On the 18th of June, 1799, Captain Foote (acting 
tinder a general instruction from Nelson to co-operate 
with Cardinal Euffo's land-forces) drew up before the 


Castle Uovo in the Seahorse, with some Neapolitan 
frigates and several gun and mortar-boats; but before 
attacking the stronghold, he sent Captain James 
Oswald to the French Commandant of the fort, with 
a written offer of conditions for capitulation. Unlike 
the Fort St. Elmo, which was garrisoned wholly by 
French troops, Uovo and Nuovo were defended chief- 
ly by Parthenopeian rebels, some of them being 
powerful Neapolitans who had fled for shelter to the 
two castles, in the hope that even yet the arrival of a 
French fleet in the Bay of Naples would revive the 
fortunes of their republic, and preserve them from 
the vengeance of the royalists. On receiving Captain 
Foote's letter of conditions, the French Commandant 
of the Castle Uovo ordered Captain Oswald to begone 
with these insulting words, ' Nous voulons la Repub- 
lique une et indivisible ; nous mourons pour elle. 
Voila votre reponse. Eloignez-vous, citoyen ; vite ! 
vite !' These offensive words were communicated to 
Euffo by Captain Foote, who at the same time declar- 
ed his intention of taking prompt measures to teach 
the Commandant better manners. As Euffo intimated 
a cordial approval of Captain Foote's purpose, the 
latter was not a little surprised to receive on the fol- 
lowing day a letter from the Cardinal, requesting him 
to forbear from attacking the two castles, as nego- 
ciations were in progress for their surrender. No 
particulars of these negociations were given to Cap- 
tain Foote at the time when he was thus ordered to 
stay his operations. To the British captain's demand 
for prompt intelligence of what was going forward, 
Kuffo replied by referring him to Micheroux, the 


Russian Minister, who was said to be conducting the 
negociations a reference which Captain Foote pro- 
perly put aside with a statement, that he had not been 
instructed to act with any other person but the 
Cardinal in matters touching the Sicilian King's in- 
terests. On the morrow (the 20th of June, 1799) 
Captain Foote received from Cardinal Ruffo a draft 
of the terms for the capitulation of the two castles 
terms that had been negociated by the Cardinal ; 
terms on which Captain Foote had not been consult- 
ed; terms of which the Captain was not permitted to 
know anything till he saw them in the draft, already 
signed by His Eminence and the Russian General. 
To this draft Captain Foote, in his anxiety to do 
nothing to the prejudice of the Royal cause at so 
critical a moment, put his signature ; but on returning 
the document to His Eminence, the captain of the 
Seahorse protested against the terms as strangely 
favourable to the enemy. Had he imagined how 
greatly Ruffo had exceeded his powers, and violated 
express orders from the King, Captain Foote unques- 
tionably would have refused to agree to them. Three 
days later these terms figured in a formal Treaty of 
Capitulation, dated on the 23rd and signed by Car- 
dinal Ruffo (on the part of the Sicilian King), by 
the representative of the Emperor of Kussia, by the 
Turkish Commander, and by Captain E. J. Foote, 
on the part of the King of Great Britain. 

What were the terms to which Captain Foote 
assented, under the impression that Cardinal Ruffo 
was empowered to grant them to Neapolitan rebels? 
By the second Article of the Treaty it was provided 


that the garrisons should hold possession of the Forts 
till the vessels, appointed to transport to Toulon all 
individuals of the same garrisons wishing to go thither, 
should be ready to sail. By the third Article it was 
provided that the garrisons should leave the Forts 
with the honours of war, arms and baggage, drums 
beating, flags flying, matches lighted, and each with 
two pieces of cannon. By the fourth Article it was 
provided that the persons and property of all indi- 
viduals within the two forts should be respected and 
guaranteed. By the fifth Article it was provided that 
all these individuals should, at their choice, have 
secure transport to Toulon, or the privilege of remain- 
ing at Naples, without molestation by the Govern- 
ment, either to themselves or their families. By the 
sixth Article it was provided that the conditions of 
the Capitulation should cover ^all persons of both 
sexes shut up within the forts. 5 By the seventh 
Article it was provided that the same conditions 
should cover 'all the prisoners of the Eepublican 
army made by the troops of His Majesty the King of 
the Two Sicilies, or by those of his Allies, in the 
various encounters that have taken place before the 
blockade of the Castles.' By the eighth Article it 
was provided that < the Signiors the Archbishop of 
Salerno, De Micheroux de Dillon, and the Bishop of 
.Avellino, detained in the forts, shall be given up to 
the Commandant of the Fort of St. Elmo, where they 
shall remain as hostages until notice shall have beea 
received from Toulon that the prisoners sent thither 
have arrived.' 

Bearing in mind that, together with the actual 


belligerents, most of whom were Ferdinand's rebellious 
subjects, the Castles harboured a number of more or 
less powerful individuals of both sexes, who, being 
largely accountable for the establishment and most 
flagitious excesses of the Parthenopeiau Republic, 
had fled to the two castles for immediate protection, 
and also in the hope of sharing in the favour that 
might be accorded to the garrisons on their capitula- 
tion, readers will see that this marvellous treaty pro- 
vided for the impunity of numerous individuals who, 
on the King's restoration, would have no title, or 
only the faintest possible claim to his merciful con- 
sideration. Yet further, the seventh Article provided 
for the impunity of all prisoners, maclo either by the 
King's troops or those of his allies, ia the various 
encounters before the blockade of the Castles. The 
conditions of the treaty exempted so many rebels 
from punishment, that, had it been impossible to 
annul the flagitious instrument, the Government of 
the restored sovereign could not, with any show of 
even-handed justice, have proceeded against others 
of the insurrectionary culprits, whoso punishment was 
required by the interests of the entire state, no less 
than by the policy of a single party. By exempting 
so large a number of rebels from the penalties of 
rebellion, Cardinal Ruffo seems to have aimed at 
forcing Ferdinand to grant a general amnesty to the 
Neapolitan Jacobins. 

On what authority had the Cardinal taken so great 
and dangerous a step ? It is certain that for thus 
treating with rebels he had no authority whatever. 
.Yet more, in thus treating with tho rebels, he acted 
^tdirect and flagrant violation of orders given him 


by Ferdinand. He had been distinctly instructed 
that he was not to treat with rebels, a class of 
offenders who, one and all, would be required to sur- 
render themselves to law and justice, tempered in 
some degree by the royal mercy. Under these cir- 
cumstances, it would be absurd quibbling to argue 
that in this treaty for the capitulation of two castles, 
garrisoned chiefly with rebels and swarming with 
rebel civilians, the Cardinal did not exceed his powers 
because he negociated it with a French commandant. 
The order that he should not treat with rebels was 
an order that he should grant no terms to rebels but 
those of unconditional surrender. In granting im- 
punity to the multitude of rebels, male and female, 
covered by the comprehensive terms of the capitula- 
tion, the Cardinal was guilty of an excess of power 
and disobedience of orders, that deprived the instru- 
ment of all obligatory virtue. 

It is the doctrine of all jurists that, though obligatory 
when the parties to their execution have acted bond 
fide and within their instructions and powers, capitu- 
lations are not binding when they owe their existence 
to bad faith or excess of authority in the executing 
parties.* Martens says, 'Capitulations are obligatory, 

* Were 1 to go more fully into this question, I should provoke 
a charge of diffuseness ori matters not strictly pertaining to my 
subject, the Story of Lady Hamilton's Life. But readers who 
honour Nelson, especially those of them who would write justly 
of his doings in 1799, should peruse carefully all the Blackwood 
essayist (vide ' Nelson and Caraccioli,' Blackwood's Magazine, 
March, 1860) wrote so closely and unanswerably for the vindica- 
tion of the great Admiral's honour seven-and-twenty years since. 
If I knew the essayist's name, I should mention it, with the ad- 
miration and gratitude due to the writer who did much to remove 
the two darkest stains put upon the whiteness of Nelson's fame by 
Southey's biting and too hasty pen. J. C. J. 


unless the party by whom they are executed has ex- 
ceeded the limits of the power with which he was 
entrusted.' Kliiber says, < Capitulations are obligatory 
without acceptance or ratification by the respective 
sovereigns, provided that the commanding officers 
by whom they are signed have acted bond fide, and 
not exceeded their instructions, or acted beyond their 
powers.' That Cardinal Euffo exceeded his powers 
and disobeyed his orders in the negociations for the 
capitulations of the castles is certain. There is also 
ground for believing him to have been actuated by 
bad faith. The treaty, therefore, required the sove- 
reign's acceptance for its validity. This ratification 
was refused by the British admiral, who came to the 
Bay of Naples with powers so comprehensive and 
absolute as fully to justify the words he wrote from 
Malta on the 9th of May, 1800, ' As the whole affairs 
of the Kingdom of Naples were at the time alluded 
to absolutely placed in my hands, it is I who am 
called upon to explain my conduct, and therefore 
send my observations on the infamous armistice 
entered into by the Cardinal.' 

Had the invalid capitulation been acted upon, and 
had the allied forces actually taken possession of the 
castles (as Alison erroneously asserts the forces to 
have done) by virtue of the defective negociations, 
Nelson, on coming with his armament to Naples, 
would ail the same have been justified by the law of 
nations in setting aside the treaty, provided he had 
returned the garrisons to the castles, and placed the 
forts precisely as they were before the signature of 
the vain document. But fortunately nothing had 


been done under the powers of the treaty, when Nel- 
son appeared on the scene. The time was too short 
for much to have been done. After Captain Foote 
signed it on the 23rd of June, 1799, the Deed of 
Capitulation, even if Ruffo had not exceeded his- 
powers, would have required for its perfection the 
approval of the commandant of Fort St. Elmo, who 
delayed to sign it till the following day, possibly 
because he hoped the French even at the last mo- 
ment would come to the relief of the forts. If the 
commandant's dilatoriness was due to this hope, he 
was strangely disappointed in seeing Nelson's seven- 
teen sail of the line, instead of a strong fleet tricked 
with the French colours. Anyhow, the two castles had 
not been the losers by the capitulation, but, on the 
contrary, had escaped a hot bombardment from Cap- 
tain Foote's little squadron, when Nelson came up in 
the Foudroyant and ordered the flag of truce that was 
flying on the Seahorse to be hauled down. This was 
done on the 24th June, 1799 ; on the following day 
(the 25th), Nelson sent the castles a formal ratifica- 
tion of the annulment of the capitulation ; and on the 
26th, the day on which the evacuation was effected, 
'the rebels/ well knowing the unconditional terms* 
of the surrender, c came out of the castles ' (to use 
Nelson's words) ' to be hanged, or otherwise disposed 
of, as their sovereign thought proper/ 

On the 25th of June (the day before the evacua- 
tion), the state cabin of the Foudroyant witnessed 
a strange scene, when Cardinal Euffo had entered 
it for a colloquy with the British admiral. With 
Italian vehemence His Eminence threw in steady 


stream against the seaman, arguments upon, argu- 
ments, why the capitulation was a fit, reasonable, 
and altogether politic arrangement; why the Neapo- 
litan negociator of the terms should be commended 
for keeping well within the limits of his powers; 
why sound policy and royal responsibility were alike 
urgent on their Sicilian Majesties to regard the treaty 
with approval ; why, as matters had gone so far, it 
was simply impossible to set aside so clever an ar- 
rangement, to the inexpressible humiliation of its 
clever arranger. Of course, each of the Cardinal's 
fervid appeals and each of Nelson's rough and ready 
rejoinders gave work to one or the other of the inter- 
preters, Sir William and Lady Hamilton. It was 
fortunate for the disputants, who talked at one an- 
other for two hours, that their warm words lost some- 
thing of their original fervour in the process of inter- 
pretation ; for both principals in the wordy duel were 
more eager for victory than observant of courtesy. 
In the earlier part of the conference, the British 
Minister acted as interpreter, till ' vexed and wearied' 
by the Cardinal's persistence, he begged Lady Hamil- 
ton to see whether her persuasive voice would render 
the Admiral's sentiments more effectual on His Emi- 
nence. But for once Lady Hamilton addressed a man 
who was alike indifferent to the music and peculiar 
beauty of her mouth. At length Nelson (vide Harri- 
son's ' Life/ vol. ii, pp. 100) ended the bootless dis- 
putation by giving the Cardinal these written words, 
c Rear-Admiral Lord Nelson, who arrived in the Bay 
of Naples on the 24th of June, with the British fleet, 
found a treaty entered into with the rebels ; which, 


he is of opinion, ought not to be carried into execu- 
tion, without the approbation of his Sicilian Majesty 
the Earl of St. Vincent Lord Keith ;' the name 
of Earl St. Vincent, who had been succeeded by 
Lord Keith, having been no doubt written inadvert- 
ently. On receiving this ultimatum. Cardinal Ruffo 
could only withdraw from the presence of the Admiral, 
whose will he had failed to subjugate. 

It has been represented by successive writers, that 
in annulling what he used to style the infamous treaty, 
the British Admiral was animated by ferocious 
malignity towards the rebels, and a miserable desire 
to gratify Lady Hamilton's thirst for the blood of the 
Jacobins, who had driven her * adorable Queen ' from 
Naples. That writers of ability and moral worth 
slandered Nelson in this manner shows that men of 
letters are not exempt from the passions and infirmities 
of uneducated people. Nelson's motives and purpose 
in the business were wholly pure of the inhuman 
malice and ignoble meanness thus charged against 
him. His mission in the Mediterranean was to pro- 
tect their Sicilian Majesties from France, and in 
every way to weaken the French. From first to last 
' from the first sowing of the sentiments which had 
prepared the Neapolitans for the revolution, to the 
moment of Championet's triumph the establishment 
of the Parthenopeian Eepublic was the work of the 
French. To the last moment of its existence, the 
Eepublic owed its life to France. On the 24th of 
June 1799, Naples was still in the hands of the 
French, who, masters of the forts commanding the 
capital, had for weeks and months been looking for 


the arrival of tKe French fleet, that would make the 
Republican cause stronger than it had ever been in 
Southern Italy. The moment had now arrived for 
Nelson to extinguish the Parthenopeian government 
and restore the Monarchy ; and he was determined 
to accomplish this work in the way that would be 
most injurious to Prance. In bringing Ferdinand 
.and Maria Caroline back to Naples, he was set on 
restoring them under conditions that would enable 
them to rule the country with a firm hand. That 
they should so rule the country, it was necessary for 
them to have a perfect command of the French 
faction. By taking from their Majesties the power 
of dealing effectually with this faction, Ruffo's treaty 
with the rebels would enable the very same Nea- 
politans, who had planted the French in Naples, to 
renew their intrigues with Paris, and repeat their 
endeavours for the destruction of the monarchy. 
Hence Nelson's promptitude in annulling the infamous 
'Compact, which favoured France in proportion as 
it was hostile to the only policy that could afford 
the Sicilies a stable government. Setting it aside 
as an arrangement hostile to the interests of the 
King and Queen whom he had been ordered to 
protect, he set it aside, also, as an arrangement peril- 
ously favourable to those French interests, which he 
had been appointed to combat and destroy. 

The points for the reader to notice most particular- 
ly are, (1) that the instrument of capitulation was not 
completed till the 24th of June ; (2) that, on the very 
day of its completion, the people in the two castles 
.knew of its annulment, from the disappearance of the 


flag of truce ; (3) that formal notice of the annulment 
was sent to the two castles on the 25th of June ; (4) 
that, between the execution of the treaty and the 
formal notice of its nullification, no action affecting 
the status quo of the castles had been taken in con- 
sequence of the capitulation ; and (5) that, when the 
rebels came out of the castles on the 26th of June, 
they came out with the knowledge, that they were 
surrendering themselves unconditionally to their 
sovereign. These five points are facts of unqualified 
historic certainty. Yet Southey, writing at a time 
when he should have known better, says in his * Life 
of Nelson/ 

4 A flag of truce was flying on the castles, and on "board the 
Seahorse. Nelson made a signal to annul the treaty, declar- 
ing he would grant rebels no other terms than those of un- 
conditional submission. The cardinal objected to this ; nor 
could all the arguments of Nelson, Sir William Hamilton, and 
Lady Hamilton, who took an active part in the conference, con- 
vince him that a treaty of such a nature, solemnly concluded, could 
honourably be set aside. He retired at last, silenced by 
Nelson's authority, but not convinced. Captain Foote was 
sent out of the bay ; and the garrisons taken out of the castles, 
under pretence of carrying the treaty into effect, were delivered 
over as rebels to the vengeance of the Sicilian court. A 
deplorable transaction ! a stain upon the memory of Nelson, 
and the honour of England ! To palliate it would be in vain, 
to justify it would be wicked : there is no alternative for one 
who will not make himself a participator in guilt, but to 
record the disgraceful story with sorrow and with shame. 3 

In this way is popular biography written. To 
occasion an inference favourable to the assertion that 
Nelson abrogated the deed of capitulation in servile 
deference to Lady Hamilton's wishes, Southey says 


she took an active part in the conference, and also 
In the arguments, which failed to persuade Cardinal 
Ruffo that the treaty was to be honourably set aside. 
Lady Hamilton's only part in the conference was that 
of an interpreter. She had no share in the argu- 
ments, which turned chiefly on certain principles and 
rules of international law. By this time, the readers 
of this book are in a position to judge for themselves 
whether Lady Hamilton was likely to take a princi- 
pal's part in the discussion, and whether at such a 
moment and on such matters her husband and Nelson 
would have let her play the part of a prattling 
simpleton. What was required of her, she could do, 
and doubtless did, excellently well. When her 
husband's voice and energy failed, she translated 
alternately Nelson's words into Italian, and Ruffe's 
words into English. 

Had Southey known aught of the principles and 
rules, deciding the question whether the capitulation 
could be honourably set aside, he would not have 
made himself ridiculous by suggesting that the 
question could only be answered with the negative. 

In saying that the garrisons were < taken out of 
the castles, under pretence of carrying the treaty into 
effect? Southey made a definite statement that has 
not a single thread of truth in it. As Southey was 
an honest and conscientious man, though a self-con- 
ceited creature, it may be assumed confidently that 
he wrote the false words in absolute ignorance of their 
falseness. But, as he could have got at the truth 
with very little trouble, he must be held gravely 
culpable in adopting another writer's misstatement 


on so grave a subject without taking ordinary pains 
to test the erroneous averment. 

It would be vain to palliate a crime that was never 
committed. As the rebels were not 'taken out of 
the castles, under pretence of carrying the treaty into 
effect/ Nelson's admirers are not tempted to be guilty 
of the wickedness of justifying what never took 
place. South ey was strangely in error when he 
imagined that the only course open to him was 'to 
record the disgraceful story with sorrow and shame,' 
as a true story. Eobert Southey would have taken 
another and very different course had he written his 
popular story of Nelson's ' Life ? with proper circum- 
spection. He would have called the disgraceful 
story a monstrous untruth, and warned his readers 
not to believe a word of it. Were it not so irritating, 
exasperating, maddening, the notion of Southey (with 
a nature as far beneath Nelson's nature as earth is 
lower than heaven) speaking of Nelson's doings with 
sorrow and shame (!) would be comical. When S outhey 
(a good and clever man, be it ever remembered, 
though a self-conceited creature) was writing of Nel- 
son in this strain of stern and condescending severity, 
he little knew with what sorrow and shame (for the 
writer) his words would be read in coming time. 

Unfortunately for Nelson's reputation, Southey was 
so able a writer and so fine a literary artist, that 
whatever he wrote for general readers never failed 
to be popular. And of all the numerous productions 
of his versatile pen, the * Life of Nelson,' based on his 
Quarterly article, is the book which he was desirous 
of rendering acceptable to the entire reading public. 



Designed for universal favour, it achieved its pur- 
pose. For every copy that has been sold of any of 
the other biographies of the great Admiral, twenty 
copies have been sold of Southey's delightful ( Life 
of Nelson/ Moreover, whilst enjoying the highest 
reputation for careful research and conscientious 
exactness, Southey, even when writing with only a 
superficial knowledge of his subject, spoke with a 
certain air of justifiable authoritativeness that seldom 
failed to win the confidence of critical writers. 
Hence it came to pass that, whilst his ' Life of Nelson ' 
has been devoured by hundreds of thousands, even 
by millions, of hasty readers, its several serious errors 
have been adopted as sure truths by grave and 
usually careful historians. The injury, therefore, 
done to Nelson's fame by the most popular of his 
biographers has been deplorably great. 

To pass from the misleading biographer to one of 
the general historians whom he misled in respect to 
the capitulation of the two castles, Nuovo and Uovo. 

c Whether ' (says Alison, vide ' History of Europe/ vol. 
lv, pp. 89 91) * the capitulation should or should not have 
"been granted, is a different and irrelevant question. Suffice 
it to say that it had taken place, and that, in virtue of its 
provisions^ the Allied powers had gained possession of the castles 
of Naples .... In every point of view, therefore, the con- 
duct of Nelson in this tragic affair was inexcusable ; his 
"biographer may perhaps with justice ascribe it to the fatal 
ascendency of female fascination, but the historian, who has 
the interests of humanity and the cause of justice to support, 
can admit of no such alleviation, and will best discharge his 
duty by imitating the conduct of his eloquent annalist, and 
with shame acknowledging the disgraceful deeds.' 

That Alison's erroneous view of the capitulation 


of the castles, and of Prince Caracciolo's fate, was 
mainly, if not altogether, due to Southey 's influence, 
appears not only from the way in which the historian 
weaves into his text the words of the eloquent 
annalist, but also from the fact that, in a marginal 
note, he names Southey as his leading authority for 
his misstatements and misjudgments. 

At the close of this chapter, a few words should 
appear in grateful commendation of a naval officer 
to whose fame pertains the proud distinction of hav- 
ing been the first Englishman to use pen and ink 
for the vindication of Nelson's honour, in respect to 
proceedings which, according to Southey and Alison, 
admitted of no apology. After referring to the 
errors committed by Southey, James, Brenton, Alison, 
and Colletta in their accounts of Nelson's conduct 
in the Bay of Naples in 1799, Sir Harris Nicolas 
(vide ' Dispatches and Letters,' vol. iii, p. 520) speaks 
with fit commendation of the 'little tract, entitled 
"Vindication of Admiral Lord Nelson's Proceedings 
in the Bay of Naples," in which the late Commander 
Jeaffreson Miles exposed most of the errors of the 
writers, who have been alluded to, with much ability.' 
In his remarks on this spirited and trenchant bro- 
chure, which appeared in 1843, just two years before 
the publication of the third volume of 'Dispatches 
and Letters/ Sir Harris says, with equal warmth 
and justice, 'Commander Miles's book did him the 
more honour, as it was the first and then the only 
attempt to stem the torrent of abuse against Lord 
Nelson, by endeavouring to place the transactions 
at Naples in a favourable point of view.' The sailor 

p 2 


who thus honourably distinguished himself amongst 
writers about Nelson, at a time when it was the 
fashion to decry the great Admiral for crimes he 
never committed, was a descendant of Jeaffreson 
Miles, of the Tower of London, temp. George II. 




The Prince's Career Commodore and Courtier, he turns Patriot 
His Employment under the Parthenopeian Republic 
Troubridge's Belief in the Traitor's Loyalty Nelson de- 
clines to think Caracciolo a Jacobin Nelson and Troubridge 
discover their Mistake The Prince in open Rebellion His 
last Efforts for the Republic A Reward offered for his 
Apprehension He flies to the Mountains Is taken in the 
Disguise of a Peasant Prisoner on board the Foudroyant 
His Trial, Sentence and Execution Nelson's Mercy to the 
Culprit Slanders on Nelson Calumnies on Lady Hamilton 
Southey's Malice Alison's Carelessness Brenton's big 
Blunder Slaughter of the Slanders Maria Caroline's Cor- 
respondence with Lady Hamilton Southey's vile Questions 
An Answer for Each of them The Corsican's Spite His 
Palliation of Perfidy and Murder. 

1799 AJ>. 

FOR the accomplishment of his task, it is necessary 
that Lady Hamilton's biographer should say some- 
thing of Prince Francesco Caracciolo (or Caraccioli, 
as his name is spelt by some writers), who stands 
forth in Neapolitan annals as one of the meanest 
miscreants ever rated with men of honour and mar- 
tyrs for liberty by fanciful and misinformed idolaters. 
Born of a noble family, the son of a statesman 
who had been Viceroy of Sicily, this miserable man 
entered the Sicilian navy in his earlier time, and 


had attained to honour and a commodore's rank 
(and even vide Harrison's 'Life of Nelson' to 'the 
supreme command of the small remains of His Sicilian 
Majesty's Fleet '), when, after passing many years in 
the service of the Crown to which his allegiance 
was due, he committed the crimes that brought him 
to an ignominious death. So long as Ferdinand 
flourished, this martyr for liberty, as he has been 
styled, was the King's apparently devoted servant, 
and one of Maria Caroline's courtly worshippers. 
But, when Ferdinand fell into misfortune, he deserted 
his master at the moment when the royal reverses 
appeared irreparable. The hour came for him to 
charge Ferdinand with base desertion of his faithful 
subjects, in flying like a coward to Sicily, and with 
squandering in luxurious ease at Palermo the money 
that should have been spent on Mack's soldiers. 
These charges were not absolutely groundless. But 
so long as Ferdinand remained sovereign of the 
Two Sicilies, and likely to survive his troubles,. 
Prince Caracciolo was the King's man. Aiding the 
King to desert his subjects, the Prince attended 
the court to Palermo, where he lived like the other 
courtiers. It was not till the Lazzaroni had been 
slaughtered by thousands, Championet had made 
himself master of Naples, and the Parthenopeian Re- 
public had been established with a show of enduring 
success, that Caracciolo awoke to his master's de- 
pravity, and discovered the beauty and eternal truth 
of republican principles. On hearing that the new 
Republic had published an edict for the confiscation 
of the estates of all Neapolitan absentees, who should 


not return to Naples by a certain date, the Prince, 
who had considerable possessions in the capital, 
determined to be a virtuous patriot, and to sacrifice 
his position at court for the sacred cause of Divine 
Liberty. His "way of retiring from Palermo was 
characteristic of the man. The rat determined to 
quit the apparently sinking ship, under cover of 
the captain's permission to leave it ; so that, in case 
the ship after all should not sink, he might have 
a chance of returning to the vessel from which he 
had withdrawn, on regular leave of absence. Ap- 
proaching the sovereign, on whom he made war a 
few weeks later, Caracciolo begged for leave to go 
to Naples, so as to comply with the recent edict, 
and preserve his estate in the capital. Made at such 
a moment, the request must at least have shown 
Ferdinand that he did not possess the whole of the 
commodore's heart. The leave was granted ; but, 
together with the permission, Caracciolo received 
from the King a significant hint to be careful what 
he was after. Telling the commodore to 'beware of 
intermeddling with French politics,' Ferdinand added, 
'Avoid the snares of the Eepublicans. I know I 
shall recover the kingdom of Naples/ 

At no long interval from his departure for Naples, 
the news came to Palermo (in a letter dated by 
Troubridge to Nelson on 9th of April, 1799) that 
Caracciolo was serving the Republic as a common 
soldier, having refused higher service, from a senti- 
ment of fealty to his sovereign. c I believe,' wrote 
Troubridge, who was slow to think Caracciolo a 
traitor, ; they force every-one to do duty in militia/ 


Four days later, Troubridge learnt that Caracciolo 
had risen at a leap from the position of a common 
soldier to the supreme command of the Parthenopeian 
Marine. * I enclose your lordship,' Troubridge wrote 
to Nelson on the 13th of April, ' one of Caracciolo's 
letters, as head of the marine. I hope he has been 
forced into this measure.' Too honourable himself 
to believe readily in another man's baseness, Trou- 
bridge still clung to the hope that, in spite of ugly 
facts, Caracciolo would be found trusty and leal. 
6 Caraccioli,' he wrote to Nelson OQ the 19th of April, 
* I am assured by all the sailors, is not a Jacobin, but 
forced to act as he does. They sign his name to 
printed papers without his authority, as they have, in 
rny opinion, the Archbishop's.' Nelson also took 
Troubridge's charitable view of Caracciolo's sus- 
picious conduct, as long as it was possible for him to 
hold it. 'Many of the principal Jacobins have fled/ 
Nelson wrote to Earl Spencer so late as the 26th of 
April, c and Caraccioli has resigned his situation as 
Head of the Marine. This man was fool enough to 
quit his master when he thought his case desperate ; 
yet, in his heart, I believe he is no Jacobin.' 

But even the generous Troubridge was constrained 
to think Caracciolo a Jacobin and scoundrel, on re- 
ceiving conclusive evidence that he was both. On 
the 1st of May, Captain Troubridge wrote to Nelson, 
' Caraccioli, I am now satisfied, is a Jacobin. I in- 
close you one of his letters. He came in the gun- 
boats to Castel a Mare himself, and spirited up the 
Jacobins.' At the close of the same month, Captain 
Foote, then senior naval officer off Naples, wrote to 


Nelson, ' Caraccioli threatens a second attack, with, a 
considerable addition of force.' In June, Caracciolo 
was actively employed against his sovereign's forces 
and the troops of his sovereign's allies. In that 
month his gun-boats fired at the town of Annunciata 
and the adjacent houses, and also upon Buffo's 
' Christians ' and the Russians, when the allied troops 
captured the fort of Villema and the bridge of Magda- 
lena. He also fired on the Sicilian frigate Minerva, 
the vessel which he had himself commanded in 
former time. Thus active against his Sovereign and 
the allied forces, Caracciolo made no use of his repeat- 
ed opportunities for escaping from his military con- 
federates, and joining the forces he had opposed so 
energetically. South ey himself admits, that the 
Prince had these opportunities, and neglected to use 
them, as he would have done had he been acting 
under compulsion. c The sailors/ says Southey, 're- 
ported that he was forced to act thus ; and this was 
believed, till it was seen that he directed ably the 
offensive operations of the revolutionists, and did not 
avail himself of opportunities for escaping when they 

Fighting against his king thus desperately in the 
earlier weeks of June, soon after the middle of the 
month the wretched man thought only for his own 
personal safety. At first he took refuge either in the 
Castle Nuovo or the Castle Uovo ; but quitting the 
Castle before the 23rd of June, so that his case was in no 
way affected either by the Capitulation or its annul- 
ment, he retired to Calviranno, whence he wrote to 
the Duke of Calviranno at Portici, imploring the 


Duke to make representations in his behalf to Cardi- 
nal Ruffo. Whether this letter had any consequences 
does not appear. Busy just then about the negocia- 
tions for the abortive capitulation, KufFo may have 
wanted both inclination and time to give particular 
attention to Caracciolo's case. Possibly the Cardinal 
never heard of the Prince's prayer to him for protec- 
tion, because the Duke did not care to compromise 
himself by showing any concern for the fate of a 
traitor so little deserving of mercy. Getting no 
sufficient promise of protection from either the Duke 
or the Cardinal, Caracciolo, for whose apprehension a 
reward had been offered, fled to the mountains, where 
he was hunted out and discovered under the disguise 
of a peasant. Within twelve hours of his capture, 
the wretched caitiff was hanging at the end of a rope. 
Carried straight, from the place where he was 
taken, to the British Admiral's flag-ship, the culprit 
may well have been regarded with pity no less than 
with abhorrence, by the officers who received him on 
board the Foudroyant. Haggard from care and hun- 
ger, the short, thick-set man wore on his countenance 
a look of stern resolve, whose promise was not ful- 
filled during his few remaining hours. With charac- 
teristic humanity Captain Hardy ordered that the 
prisoner should be liberated from his bonds and be 
offered food and drink. Probably Nelson had been 
forewarned of the incident, which was followed in 
less than one hour by the assembly of a court-martial 
of Sicilian officers. Anyhow, as a reward had been 
offered for the Prince's capture, Nelson may be 
assumed to have considered before the morning of 


the 29th of June what he should do, if Caracciolo 
should be captured and brought alive to his presence. 
This assumption is countenanced bjthe promptitude 
with which Nelson issued this warrant, 

* To Count Thurn, Commodore and Commander of His- 
Sicilian Majesty's Frigate La Minerva. By Horatio Lord 
Nelson, &c. &c. &c. . . . "Whereas Francisco Caracciolo, a 
Commodore in the service of his Sicilian Majesty, has been 
taken, and stands accused of rebellion against his lawful 
Sovereign, and for firing at his colours hoisted on board Ms- 
frigate the Minerva, under your command, you are, there- 
fore, hereby required and directed to assemble five of the 
senior officers under your command, yourself presiding, and 
proceed to inquire whether the crime with which the said 
Francisco Caracciolo stands charged, can be proved against 
him ; and if the charge is proved, you are to report to me 
what punishment he ought to suffer. Given on board the 
Foudroyant, Naples Bay, the 29th June, 1799. NELSON.' 

Caracciolo having been brought on board the 
Foudroyant at 9 a.m., the court-martial created by 
this warrant opened its proceedings at 10 a.m., and 
closed them after a sitting of two hours. The sit- 
ting, no doubt, was short, but it was quite long 
enough for the necessities of the case. The indict- 
ment comprised only two counts, the general charge 
of rebellion, and the particular charge of firing on 
the Minerva. The court consisted of the six senior 
officers of the Minerva, some of whom, and probably 
all, were eye-witnesses of the particular offence. To 
establish such a charge, to such a court, there was 
no need for the elaborate examination and cross- 
examination of numerous witnesses. The prisoner? 
indeed, was in the position of a murderer, taken not 
only red-handed, but in the very act of plunging the 


knife into his victim's heart. Against the witnesses 
who saw him commit the particular offence he could 
not allege that, if he were given time, he could 
produce witnesses to show he had not done what 
the judges themselves knew him to have done. 
Proved so readily and surely, the particular charge 
on its establishment was of itself sufficient evidence 
of the general charge of rebellion. The prisoner had 
not the hardihood to deny the charges of rebelling 
and firing on the Minerva. From the two different 
accounts of his defence accounts which, though 
inconsistent in details, are not contradictory on the 
main points it appears that, whilst admitting him- 
self guilty of the offences, he palliated and even tried 
to justify his guilt by arguing that he was constrained 
against his will to rebel by the strong pressure put 
upon him by the Parthenopeian Government, and by 
the overpowering strength of his natural desire to 
preserve his estate for the benefit of his family. 
Though loyal at heart, he had rebelled because the 
Eepublican Government had made it so well worth 
his while to be a rebel, and because he was animated 
by a strong affection for the members of his family. 
As he had to choose between serving the re'public as 
-a common soldier, in which capacity he could not 
have done the King much harm, and serving the 
republic as Commander-in-chief of the Navy, he was 
not to be severely judged for accepting the more 
honourable and profitable post. Rebellion, in the 
case of a man who could enrich his family by it, was 
far less reprehensible than, rebellion, in the case of a 
man who took nothing more than hard usage and 


bare subsistence. Naturally the judges were of one 
mind that they could not acquit the prisoner of the 
crimes (which he admitted himself to have perpe- 
trated), simply because he could declare on his 
honour that it was, under the circumstances of the 
case, convenient and profitable for him to commit 

For what is known of the most offensive part of 
Caracciolo's speech in justification of his treason,, 
readers are indebted to Lieutenant Parsons, Nelson's 
signal-mate, who (vide e Nelsonian Reminiscences') 
reports him to have spoken to the following effect, 

1 I am accused of deserting my King in distress, and 
leaguing with Ms enemies. The accusation is so far false 
that the King deserted me and all Ms faithful subjects. It 
is well known to you, gentlemen, that our frontier was 
covered by an army under General Mack, superior to the 
advancing enemy, and you are aware that the sinews of war 
is money. The King collected every thing that could be 
converted into specie, on pretence of paying that army, 
embarked it in his Britannic Majesty's ship Vanguard, even 
to the enormous amount of 500 casks, and fled with it to 
Palermo, there to riot in luxurious safety. Who was then 
the traitor the King or myself 1 After such uncalled for, 
and, I must say, cowardly desertion by the sovereign, Mack's 
army disbanded for want of pay, and the French army 
occupied Naples. It is known to you, gentlemen, that my 
patrimonial possessions lay in the city, and that my family 
is large. If I had not succumbed to the ruling power, my 
children would have been vagabonds in the land of their 
fathers. Gentlemen, some of you are parents, and I appeal 
to your feelings ; let each of you place yourselves in my 
situation, and say how you would have acted ; but I think 
my destruction is predetermined, and this Court anything 
but a Court of Justice. If I am right, my blood be upon 
your heads and those of your children.' 


Of course this report must be read as nothing more 
than a summary of the more noteworthy passages 
of the prisoner's speech. Composed probably from 
memory, instead of from notes taken at the moment, 
the report may be erroneous in some particulars. But 
Ihere is no reason to donbt its substantial accuracy. 

After hearing the defence, which was a confession 
of the general charge, attended with seditious and 
malignant reflections on the King, and reviewing the 
evidence of matters that were affairs of their own 
personal knowledge, the judges were of one opinion 
ihat the prisoner was guilty. It was impossible for 
honest men to come to any other conclusion. The 
sentence, delivered by Commodore Count Thurn, was 
to this effect, 

* Admiral Prince Caracciolo, you have been unanimously 
found guilty of the charges brought against you ; you have 
repaid the high rank and honours conferred on you by a 
mild and confiding Sovereign, with the blackest ingratitude. 
The sentence of the Court is, that you shall be hanged by 
the neck at the yard-arm of your own flag-ship, in two hours 
from this time, and may G-od have mercy on your soul.' 

Delivered at or shortly after 12 a.m., this sentence 
was followed quickly by the issue of this mandate 
for the execution, addressed to Count Thurn, under 
kelson's sign-manual : 

'To Commodore Count Thurn, Commander of His 
Sicilian Majesty's ship, La Minerva. By Horatio Lord 
Nelson, &c. Whereas a Board of Naval Officers of his 
Sicilian Majesty hath, been assembled to try Francisco 
Caracciolo for rebellion against his lawful Sovereign, and 
for firing at t his Sicilian Majesty's frigate, La Minerva. And 
whereas, the said Board of Naval Officers have found the 


charge of rebellion fully proved against Mm, and nave sen- 
tenced the said Caracciolo to suffer death ; you are hereby 
required and directed to cause the said sentence of death to 
be carried into execution upon the said Francisco Caracciolo 
accordingly^ by hanging him at the fore-yard arm of his 
Sicilian Majesty's frigate La Minerva, under your command, 
at five o'clock this evening ; and to cause him to hang there 
until sunset, when you will have his body cut down, and 
thrown into the sea. 


' Given on board the Foudroyant, 
' Naples Bay, June 29th, 1799.' 

It is worthy of observation that, whilst ordering 
the sentence of the court-martial to be carried out 
exactly in every other particular, Nelson exercised 
his prerogative of mercy so far as to extend the 
prisoner's life by something like three hours. The 
sentence, delivered at twelve a.m., was that the 
Prince should be hanged * at two hours from this 
time,' i.e., at two p.m. The British admiral ordered 
that the culprit should be allowed to live till five 
p.m. To estimate this merciful concession rightly, 
readers must remember that, as a Catholic, Caracciolo 
belonged to a church whose members set great value 
on the last offices of religion, and prize more highly 
than Protestants the last hours permitted to them for 
religious exercises, before they pass from time to 
eternity. As much has been urged to Nelson's dis- 
credit about the indecency, with which he hurried 011 
the execution, this fact deserves consideration. In 
ordering the sentence to be carried into effect on the 
day of its delivery, Nelson only held to the usual 
practice of the British Navy when on active service. 
The mutineers of the St. George, off Cadiz, would 


have died on the evening of their conviction, had 
not their trial lasted till after sunset. That being so, 
they were hanged on the following day, though it 
was Sunday, and Earl St. Vincent demanded the 
immediate recall of Vice-Admiral Thompson, for hav- 
ing ventured to express disapproval of his lordship's 
conduct in ordering the mutineers to be executed 
on a Sunday. 

Unfortunately for Nelson's fame, the opponents of 
the English government, in their sympathy with revo- 
lutionary sentiments and persons, thought right to 
assail the British admiral for his politic and altogether 
praiseworthy measures for driving the French from 
Naples and extinguishing the Parthenopeian Republic. 
When Fox, without naming Nelson, had pelted the 
officers of the British fleet with odious charges, that 
were rightly taken by the politician's admirers and 
opponents as reflections on the admiral, scribblers of 
both sexes lost no time in doing their utmost to per- 
suade the public that the bright and spotless hero of 
the Nile was a monster of perfidious meanness aud 
cruelty. Treacherous and barbarous in annulling the 
unauthorized treaty for the capitulation of the castles, 
he was guilty of sheer, cold-blooded murder in the 
execution of Caracciolo. These were the charges 
brought against the truthful, humane, and chivalric 
Admiral by slanderous journalists and book-makers. 
Averring that Nelson had no lawful authority to send 
Caracciolo before a court-martial of Sicilian officers, 
these people insisted that he had murdered Caracciolo 
from no other motive than, a desire to please the 
wicked Lady Hamilton, who thirsted for the patriot's 


blood, because he had exposed Ferdinand's crimes 
and Maria Caroline's infamy, and done his utmost to 
replace their atrocious despotism with a virtuous 
form of government. 

To show how the British flag had been dishonour- 
ed by the Admiral, it was declared by the Admiral's 
slanderers that he had hung the virtuous Caracciolo 
at the yard-arm of the Foudroyant, and then thrown 
his body from the deck of the Foudroyant into the 
sea. To put it beyond question that Lady Hamilton's 
nature was chiefly remarkable for ferocious vindic- 
tiveness, these same artists in calumny told how she 
was present at Caracciolo's execution, and witnessed 
with fiendish delight the death-throes of the strangled 
martyr ; and how, not content with witnessing this 
hideous spectacle, she insisted an hour or so later 
that Nelson should take her out in his barge, in order 
that she might have another good look at the Prince's 
body, still dangling at the yard-arm of the Minerva. . 

Like the fabrications touching the capitulation, 
these slanderous fictions touching Caracciolo's fate 
and the pleasure it afforded Lady Hamilton, were 
adopted with variations, and sometimes with the 
latest improvements by writers, whose credit with the 
public caused the scandalous tales to be generally 
accepted for sure and indisputably veracious history. 
Southey, Brenton, and Alison were only three of 
many writers who were guilty of this wrong to a 
woman, whose gravest errors are entitled to charit- 
able consideration, and to the great Admiral whose 
honour should be dear to every Englishman. Sug- 
gesting that she hid herself from the lieutenant, 



who "would fain have induced her to entreat Nelson to 
commute in Caracciolo's favour the sentence of death 
b3^tke rope to the less ignominious sentence of death 
by shooting, Southey says, c As a last hope, Caracciolo 
asked the lieutenant if he thought an application to 
Lady Hamilton would be beneficial? Parkinson 
went to seek her. She was not to be seen on this occa- 
sion, but she was present at the execution. 7 The state- 
ment that she was a witness of the execution is 
wholly and absolutely untrue. If she refused to see 
the lieutenant because she knew he wanted her to 
interfere in a matter wholly outside of her official 
province, Lady Hamilton showed her good sense, and 
was guilty of nothing worse than womanly decorum. 
But, though he dared not say it outright, Southey had 
the baseness to insinuate that she kept out of the 
way because she was desirous of seeing the Prince 
killed in the most ignominious manner. 

Following carelessly in Southey 's track, Alison 
says of Caracciolo's fate, 

' He was betrayed by a domestic and brought on board 
the Britisli Admiral's flag-ship. A naval court-martial was 
there immediately summoned, composed of Neapolitan offi- 
cers, by whom he was condemned to death. In vain the old* 
man entreated that he might be shot, and not die the death 
of a malefactor ; his prayers were disregarded, and, after 
"being strangled by the executioners, he was thrown into 
the sea, Before night his body was seen erect in the waves 
from the middle upwards, as if he had risen from the deep 
to reproach the English hero with his unworthy fate/ 

* To provoke pity for Caracciolo, it was the practice of the 
false scribes to represent that he was an old man, seventy or over 
seventy years old. His age at the time of his death was forty- 


Here we have Sir Archibald Alison representing 
that the Prince was executed on the Admiral's flag- 
ship (viz., the Foudroyant\ and thrown from that ship 
into the sea ; and that, before the night of the day on 
which he was executed, his body was seen erect in 
the waves from the middle upwards. Though Sir 
Archibald gives Southey as his chief authority for 
these mis-statements, it is only fair to the biographer 
to say he should not be held accountable for the 
historian's errors, so far as this extract is concerned. 
Southey is quite clear that Caracciolo was hnng at 
the fore-yard-arm of the Minerva, and that his body 
was thrown from that vessel into the sea. Southey 
is no less clear that the apparition of the Prince's 
body was no incident of the day on which he was 
executed, but an event of ; between two and three 
weeks afterwards.' Thus inexactly have the stories 
about Nelson been passed on from one writer to 
another, the comparatively true stories growing less 
truthful, and the false stories more wildly fabulous in 
each transmission. 

The story of Lady Hamilton wishing for ' another 
look at poor Caracciolo ' was given in Captain Bren- 
ton's 'Naval History of Great Britain from 1783 to 
1822,' with improvements that may perhaps be assign- 
ed to the captain's peculiar taste and fancy. 

At the last fatal scene (says the Captain) she p.e., Lady 
Hamilton] was present, and seems to have enjoyed the sight. 
"While the body was yet hanging at the yard-arm of the 
frigate, ' Come,' said she, c come, Bronte, let us take the 
"barge and have another look at poor Caracciolo !' The "barge 
was manned, and they rowed round the frigate, and satiated 
their eyes with the appalling spectacle. 


It was thus, according to the Imaginative kelson to 
the c Naval History,' that Lady Hamilton of death 
address Nelson, more than six weeks before of death 
created Duke of Bronte. Scarcely had thtaracciolo 
History ' appeared, when one of its indignantation to 
John Mitford, a man well qualified to speak '.rkinson 
point, for he was one of the survivors of N Is occa- 
sea-mates wrote to the Morning Post, denyin^tate- 
story in forcible terms. The Captain hoped torn is 
himself right with the public by announcing, in see 
second edition of the ' Naval History,' that his critic 
* lodged over a coal-shed in some obscure street, near 
Leicester Square.' But, as the Blackwood essayist 
(vide 'Blackwood's Magazine' April, 1860) justly re- 
marked, it still remained for Captain Brenton to show 
why John Mitford was unable to tell the truth, because 
he had a cheap lodging near Leicester Square. In. 
course of time John Mitford's evidence was confirmed 
by a witness to whose social condition even Captain 
Brenton could not take exception. c Commodore Sir 
Augustus Collier/ says the Blackwood essayist, ' a 
most distinguished officer, who was on board the 
Foudroyant at the time, has, in manly and emphatic 
words, denounced the whole story as "an arrant 
falsehood." ' Another person, not to be suspected of 
lodging over a coal-shed near Leicester Square, also 
had good grounds for knowing and declaring the 
falseness of the story that Lady Hamilton was a wit- 
ness of Caracciolo's execution. Lord Northwick 
dined with Nelson and Lady Hamilton in Nelson's 
cabin on board the Foudroyant on the 29th of June, 
and was so dining with them when they heard the 


gun -which announced the Prince's execution at the 
yard-arm of the Sicilian frigate. Lady Hamilton, 
therefore, cannot have been a witness of the hanging. 
If, at any moment between five p.m. and sunset, she 
and Nelson left the Foudroyant in the barge to take a 
look at poor Caracciolo, their guest must have known 
it. The whole story is one monstrous lie, made up 
of several lies ; yet it figures as truth in serious 
histories. How a naval officer, so honourably remem- 
bered as Brenton for his professional services, his 
benevolence, and his ability in letters, could have 
believed so monstrous and manifest a lie a lie that, 
were it truth, would prove the noble and humane 
Nelson a creature to be abhorred by generous men 
of every social degree, is a puzzle. 

Even worse stories of Lady Hamilton's doings in 
Italy might be raked from scandalous literature. But 
I forbear for obvious reasons to rake together the 
revolting inventions in order to show how, whilst 
some of them contradict and disprove one another, 
all of them should be disbelieved. It is better to 
leave them between the covers of the forgotten 
volumes, where the curious may find them. It is 
another thing to explode the poisonous fictions that 
have been adopted by writers of credit. The readers 
of this book, however, maybe assured that, whenever 
and wherever they come upon an anecdote which 
exhibits Lady Hamilton as a revoltingly cruel or in 
any way an incredibly wicked woman, the anecdote 
is one of the wild lies which the present writer 
declines to touch. 

That Maria Caroline did not regard Lady Hamilton 


as a woman who would gloat with fiendish delight on 
the Prince's corpse, appears from the letter Her 
Majesty wrote to the British Minister's wife on Tues- 
day, the 2nd of July, 1799, immediately after receiv- 
ing her account of Caracciolo's execution. * My dear 
Lady/ the Queen wrote, < I received with great 
pleasure your kind and obliging letters, three of 
Saturday and one of Friday, with the list of the 
Jacobins who are some of the vilest we have had. I 
have seen also the sad and merited end of the unfor- 
tunate and mad-brained Caracciolo. I am sensible 
how much your excellent heart must have suffered, 
which increases my sense of gratitude to you.' It is 
well for the reader to observe the dates of the letters 
to which the Queen refers. On Friday, the 28th of 
June, Lady Hamilton dated an epistle to Maria Caro- 
line, containing a list of Jacobins. On the following 
day (Saturday, the 29th of June, the day of Carac- 
ciolo's trial and death), Lady Hamilton wrote the 
Queen no less than three letters. How she spent her 
time, whilst, according to her slanderers, she was 
keeping out of the way in order to avoid a petition 
that she would mediate between the condemned 
culprit and Nelson, is therefore fully accounted for. 
She was writing to Maria Caroline. In what vein 
she wrote to the Queen about Caracciolo may be 
inferred confidently from Her Majesty's words, ' I am 
sensible how your excellent heart must have suffered, 
which increases my sense of gratitude to you.' In- 
stead of inferring, from Lady Hamilton's letters, that 
in Naples Bay she was experiencing excitement con- 
genial to a breast stirred by fiendish vindictiveness 


against the Jacobins, Maria Caroline realized from 
those epistles how distressing to Lady Hamilton's 
' excellent heart ' was the position in which she had 
been placed. 

Something more must be said of Southey's misre- 
presentations of the circumstances of Caracciolo's 
trial and death. The biographer says of those cir- 
cumstances : 

Here, also, a faithful historian is called upon to pro- 
nounce a severe and unqualified condemnation of Nelson's 
conduct. Had lie the authority of Ms Sicilian Majesty for 
proceeding as he did ? If not, why was not the authority 
produced ? Why was the trial precipitated so that it was 
impossible for the prisoner, if he had been innocent, to pro- 
vide the witnesses who might have proved him so ? Why 
was a second trial refused, when the known animosity of the 
president of the court against the prisoner was considered ? 
Why was the execution hastened so as to preclude any 
appeal for mercy, and render the prerogative of mercy use- 
less f Doubtless, the British admiral seemed to himself to 
be acting under a rigid sense of justice ; but, to all other 
persons, it was obvious that he was influenced by an infatu- 
ated attachment, a baneful passion, which destroyed his 
domestic happiness, and now, in a second instance, stained 
ineffaceably his public character.' 

Southey never penned anything more discreditable 
to an eminent man of letters than this passage, with 
its string of maliciously suggestive and misdirecting 
questions, in which he showed himself a consummate 
master of the vile art of insinuating charges which 
he knew he could not substantiate, and therefore 
craftily refrained from making in direct terms. Let 
us examine the string of slanderous questions. 

'Had he the authority of his Sicilian Majesty for 
proceeding as he did T an insinuation that Nelson 


compassed Caracciolo's death by unauthorized and 
unlawful means, and therefore murdered him. Whilst 
there is not even a shadow of a reason for thinking 
that in this business Nelson exceeded, there is redun- 
dant testimony that he acted within the limits of, the 
powers accorded to him by Ferdinand. When Nelson 
entered the Bay of Naples on June 24, 1799, he was 
invested with the powers of supreme commander of 
the Sicilian marine, no less than of the British ships 
operating for the reduction of Naples. He was also 
invested with larger powers, most likely with un- 
limited powers, by Ferdinand. Of these larger powers 
the particulars have not been given precisely. It is 
conceivable they were never put in writing ; but, if 
they were not set forth in a formal commission, they 
were none the less valid. Royal commissions of the 
largest kind may be only verbal, though for the 
security of both the grantor and grantee of the com- 
mitted authority it is usual to express their limits 
precisely in a carefully drawn and solemnly sealed 
document. It may be imprudent for an officer to act 
by virtue of a mere verbal commission ; but iii morals 
and honour he is as fully bound and justified by a 
verbal as by a written commission. That Nelson 
was capable of acting on Ferdinand's mere word-of- 
month instructions, we know by the way in which 
he exercised the power of the supreme Sicilian com- 
mander of the naval expedition against Naples, and 
instructed Troubridge to take measures for the re- 
covery of the islands two full days before the 
authorizing letter of instructions was signed and 


sealed by Ferdinand. That the British admiral had 
authority to send Caracciolo for trial before a court- 
martial of Sicilian officers appears from the way in 
which Ms warrant was obeyed. Count Thurn obeyed 
the warrant without questioning its validity. The 
other senior officers of the Minerva did likewise, in 
perfect confidence that Nelson had authority to order 
the trial. Prince Caracciolo himself recognized the 
legality of the tribunal before which he was brought. 
Admitting the sufficiency of the tribunal by pleading 
before it in his own behalf, he again recognized Nel- 
son's authority to convene the court by petitioning 
the British admiral to grant him another trial before 
another court-martial, sitting under a president less 
hostile to him than Count Thurn. How could either 
the officers who composed the court, or the prisoner 
whom they tried, entertain a doubt of Nelson's au- 
thority for calling the court, when they knew him to 
be in supreme command of His Sicilian Majesty's 
fleet? Six weeks later, Ferdinand in a most em- 
phatic manner declared his approval of and gratitude 
for Nelson's conduct in this and every other affair, for 
the reduction of Naples, by making him a Sicilian 
duke, and giving him a considerable estate. South ey 
knew that the King, Count Thurn, the other senior 
officers of the Minerva, and Caracciolo himself were 
one and all witnesses to the legality of Nelson's pro- 
ceedings. Yet he could insinuate that, by acting on 
insufficient authority, Nelson had murdered the prince 
in order to gratify Lady Hamilton. 

' If so, why was not the authority produced ?' Be- 


cause the authority, known to every officer of the 
Sicilian fleet, was never questioned by any person 
concerned in the trial. 

6 If not, why were the proceedings hurried on 
without it?' The suggestive c if not' may be struck 
out, because it stands out on the record in black and 
white, that Nelson had the requisite authority from 
his Sicilian Majesty. Instead of being hurried on 
without the authority, the proceedings were carried 
out with all proper deliberation and regard for forms, 
in accordance with the authority. 

4 Why was the trial precipitated, so that it was 
impossible for the prisoner, if he had been innocent, 
to provide the witnesses who might have proved him 
so? 5 There was no doubt of the prisoner's guilt. 
His judges had themselves seen him in rebellion, and 
seen him fire on their ship. Prince Caracciolo ad- 
mitted his guilt, and only ventured to plead, in ex- 
tenuation of his crime, that he had been strongly 
tempted to rebel before he yielded to the temptation . 

< Why was a second trial refused, when the known 
animosity of the president of the court against the 
prisoner was considered?' Though it has been 
alleged, and was alleged by the traitor himself, 
Count Thurn's animosity against Caracciolo has 
never been proved. If the animosity really existed, 
it cannot be imagined to have affected the finding 
of the court. For, had the count been the prince's 
dearest friend, the court could not have come to the 
conclusion that the prince was innocent of the crimes 
of which he confessed himself guilty. The culprit's 
petition for a second trial was refused, because (to 


use Nelson's own words) he 'had been fairly tried b^ 
the officers of his own country. 7 

* Why was the execution hastened so as to preclude 
any appeal for mercy, and render the prerogative of 
mercy useless V For two reasons, one sufficient 
reason, and one overpoweringly strong reason. 
Caracciolo belonged to the class of ' leaders' to whom 
mercy, in Ferdinand's opinion, in Maria Caroline's 
opinion, and in Nelson's opinion, could not be shown. 
Moreover, under the circumstances it was necessary 
for the Commander-in-chief of the operations for the 
reduction of the capital, to show the people of Naples 
and the French holders of the forts, that he had come 
to do, and would do his appointed work, vigorously, 
rigorously, and thoroughly. The moment was critical. 
Gaieta, Capua, and St. Elmo were still in the hands 
of the French, who were holding out, in hope of the 
arrival of the French fleet. Having sailed for Naples, 
not without hope of winning a second Aboukir in the 
Italian bay, Nelson meant to make the most of every 
day given him by fortune, before the time when he 
should have enough to do in thrashing the hostile 
navy. He wished to close accounts with the French 
on land, before he should have to try conclusions 
with the French at sea. Was this a moment for him 
to shilly-shally about hanging an egregious traitor, 
whose quick execution would have a salutary effect 
on the anarchical capital and the hostile forts ? 

Whilst there is no evidence that, in the June of 
1799, Nelson was in any degree stirred by * a baneful 
passion ' for Lady Hamilton, there is no tittle of 
testimony that she ever swayed him from his duty ia 



ai o,ny matter, great or small, either before or after she 
became a chief object of his affectionate devotion. 

Yet Southey, on no better testimony than the anec- 
dotes of scandalous or perverse books and the tattle 
of violent political journals, could insinuate that Nel- 
son not only murdered Caracciolo, but murdered him 
at the Instigation of a supremely charming and 
wicked woman. When he displayed perhaps the 
meanest side of his essentially ignoble spirit by 
affecting to palliate Nelson's so-called Neapolitan 
* atrocities,' with a suggestion that the English 
Admiral would have acted otherwise had it not been 
for Lady Hamilton, Buonaparte knew what he was 
doing. Overflowing with rancorous spite against his 
greatest rival in martial glory, the Corsican saw that 
to make the world attribute Nelson's alleged perfidy 
and murders to his love of a pretty demirep was to 
^tab his honour at the heart. But, through some 
mental perversion or moral obliquity, Southey and 
Alison seem to have persuaded themselves that they 
did Nelson a service, and relieved perfidy and murder 
in some degree of their repulsiveness, by urging that 
he broke faith and shed blood unrighteously, because 
he was so unfortunate as to be the victim of e an in- 
fatuated attachment.' 




Alison's Inaccuracies The Hamiltons in Naples Bay Maria, 
Caroline at Palermo The Queen and her Deputy Defeat 
of the French Party Punishments and Vengeance Maria- 
Caroline's Resentments Her occasional Clemency and For- 
bearanceHer Gifts to the Poor of Naples Lady Hamilton's 
Perilous Power Suitors for her Compassion Dr. Carillez 
implores her for Protection Ferdinand leaves Palermo His 
Month's Stay on Board the British Admiral's Flag-Ship 
Lady Hamilton's Letter of the 19th of July to Mr. Greville 
Naples or Minorca ? Nelson's Momentous Decision His* 
Disregard of Lord Keith's Orders He is censured "by the 
Admiralty But justified by the Event Celebration of the 
Battle of the Nile The * Ruling Woman ' rejoices -Prepara- 
tions for Revels and Galas at Palermo The Fpudroyant 
Sails for Sicily. r 

1799 A.D. 

MORE or less wrong In nearly everything he says of 
Sicilian doings in the summer of 1799, Alison repre- 
sents that, when he came to the Bay of Naples with 
his fleet in the June of that year, Nelson was accom- 
panied by the King, Queen, and Court of the Two 
Sicilies. In all this, Alison is wrong. The Hereditary 
Prince was on board the Foudroyant, together with. 
Sir William and Lady Hamilton ; but, though impor- 
tant personages of the royal circle, they were not 
* the Court/ The King did not leave Palermo before 
the ^evening of the 3rd of July, when on starting for 


the Bay of Naples he left the Queen behind him. 
Coming on board the Foudroyant, which became the 
seat of his government for several weeks, he remained 
on the vessel for an entire month (from the 8th of 
July to the 5th of August), when he returned with 
Nelson and the Hamiltons to Sicily, where the Queen 
had remained the whole while. According to Alison, 
the King returned to Sicily, because his humanity 
shrank from the thought of witnessing the atrocities 
of the vengeance, that would soon be wreaked on the 
prostrate republicans. According to the same popular 
historian, these atrocities were personally, directed 
and superintended at Naples by the Queen and Lady 
Hamilton, whom the humane Ferdinand left there, to 
accomplish the bloody work he had not the fortitude 
to contemplate. 

The King (says Alison), whose humanity could not en- 
dure the sight of the punishments which were preparing, 
returned to Sicily, and left the administration of justice in 
the hands of the Queen and Lady Hamilton. Numbers 
were immediately condemned and executed ; the vengeance 
of the populace supplied what was wanting in the celerity of 
the criminal tribunals ; neither age, nor sex, nor rank were 
.spared ; women as well as men, youths of sixteen and grey- 
headed men of seventy, were alike led out to the scaifold, 
and infants of twelve years of age sent into exile. 

To exhibit Nelson as a cordial co-operator in the 
fiendish atrocities of Maria Caroline and Lady Hamil- 
ton, the historian of * Europe ' says, in a marginal note, 
'-Nelson &oncwr*s in these iniguitous proceedings? 

It is thus that popular history is written. 

Instead of returning to Sicily before the punish- 
ment of the recent insurgents, Ferdinand remained 


in the Bay of Naples, whilst the Parthenopeian de- 
linquents were being brought to trial. Instead of 
6 leaving the administration of justice in the hands 
of the Queen and Lady Hamilton/ he left the trial 
and punishment of political offenders to the criminal 
tribunals. The Queen did not put her foot in Naples 
from the time of her husband's departure from 
Palermo to the hour of his return to Sicily. Far 
from eager to re-enter her capital, Her Majesty was 
determined not to enter it again till she could do so 
with dignity and safety, and did not return to it till 
the trials of republicans were over. When the King 
returned to Palermo, he was accompanied by Lady 
Hamilton. The historian, who is so mistaken on 
these points, may be presumed to be a good deal less 
than severely accurate in what he says of the mea- 
sures taken for the punishment of rebels and the 
annihilation of their party. 

That those measures were sternly rigorous and in 
some instances even cruel is probable. That Maria 
Caroline was herself largely accountable for the 
severity and thoroughness of those measures may be 
inferred from several passages of her letters to Lady 
Hamilton. That the vengeance of the populace 
against the persons, whom they held chiefly account- 
able for their recent troubles, was more passionate 
and revolting than the vengeance of the law-courts 
may also be assumed, \ Revolutions are seldom 
brought about or effectually counteracted without 
excesses of violence. Napoleon the Third did not 
get the upper hand of Paris by washing the boule- 
vards with rose-water. In later time the Parisian 


Commune was not suppressed without a good deal 
of miscellaneous shooting and stabbing by unauthor- 
ized murderers as well as duly commissioned troops. 
The suppression of the communists in arms was 
followed by wholesale deportations of communists, 
who had laid down their arms. The death-sentences 
and sentences to exile against the communists were 
not delivered with nice regard to the age, sex, and 
social condition of the offenders. In truth, painful 
though they are to contemplate, the barbarous and 
vindictive excesses about which Southey and Alison 
wrote so passionately, as the immediate and hideous 
results of Ferdinand's restoration, were only such 
excesses as invariably attend the suppression of a 
formidable rebellion. According to Clarke and 
M'Arthur, 'the number of traitors who in conse- 
quence suffered at different times, after being regu- 
larly tried and condemned by the law of their 
country, amounted to about seventy persons.' 

If ever excuses may be made for the savage vin- 
dictiveness of mobs, they may be made for the 
excesses of cruelty, with which the Neapolitan popu- 
lace wreaked its wrath on the partisans of the fallen 
republic. By whom had the revolution, for which the 
populace paid so dearly, been brought about ? A small 
minority of the Neapolitans, a minority consisting of 
three or four hundred individuals of the aristocratic 
class, a handful of professors, and three or four thou- 
sand individuals of the merchants, official people, and 
richer bourgeoisie. It is indisputable that the revo- 
lution was distasteful to the populace. What was 
the moral quality of the handful of individuals who 


had imposed the republic on the people at large? 
Because It suited the purpose of a few partisan scribes 
to represent that the Neapolitan court-party consisted 
wholly of profligate men and unchaste women, and 
that the Neapolitan French party comprised all the 
few good people of Naples, it does not follow that 
the writers, who misled Southey, should be believed 
at the present day by sober and Intelligent inquirers 
for the truth. Doubtless the entourage of their 
Sicilian Majesties numbered not a few scoundrels 
and libertines of both sexes. But people of like and 
equal badness figured in the cliques of the French 
party. Indeed, some of the vilest people about the 
Court were in league with Monsieur Garat, and in 
the confidence of the French party. If it must be 
conceded on the one hand that many of the Nea- 
politan Jacobins were honest and in other ways 
virtuous enthusiasts, it is on the other hand no less 
certain that some of them were not unfairly described 
by Lady Hamilton as ' pretty gentlemen/ who * de- 
served to be hanged long ago.' By what means had 
this minority accomplished its design on the common- 
weal, in insolent disregard of the wishes -of the people 
at large ? A foreign army and a French occupation : 
a foreign army that had driven the Court beyond 
sea and slaughtered thousands of the populace: a 
French occupation, that had plundered sacred insti- 
tutions, multiplied taxes, almost extinguished trade, 
reduced countless families from competence to des- 
titution, despoiled the capital of its works of art, 
stripped the very streets of their public ornaments. 
To say that, on the fall of the minority, who had 


wrought them so much grievous wrong, the injured 
majority should have merely said 'Ah! my dear 
friends, you were sadly mistaken, but we forgive 
you and still love you !', is to chatter idly, in forget- 
fulness of the fact that, so long as human nature 
shall be in any degree like what it has hitherto been, 
grievous wrongs will produce fierce resentments. 

On what lines Ferdinand and Maria Caroline de- 
signed in June, 1799, to proceed for the secure 
re-establishmerit of their authority and the utter 
defeat of the French party, we know from the 
remarkable letter (vide Pettigrew's ; Life of Nelson/ 
vol. i, pp. 2335), in which the Queen, under date 
of June 25th, 1799, wrote Lady Hamilton, 

6 MY BEAR LADY, I have just received your dear letter 
"without date from tlie ship, with the Chevalier's for the 
General .... The General writes the wishes of the King, 
who incloses a note under his own hand for the dear Ad- 
miral. I accede entirely to their wishes, but cannot refrain 
from expressing my sentiments to you .... The rebel 
patriots must lay down their arms, and surrender at dis- 
cretion to the pleasure of the King. Then, in my opinion, 
an example should be made of some of the leaders of the 
representatives, and the others to be transported under pain 
of death if they return into the dominions of the King, 
where a register will be kept of them ; and of this number 
should be the Municipalists, Chiefs of Brigade, the most 
violent Clubbists, and seditious scribblers. No soldier who 
has served shall ever be admitted into the army ; finally, a 
rigorous severity, prompt and just. The females who have 
distinguished themselves in the revolution to be treated in 
the same way, and that without pity .... The Sedile, the 
source of all the evils, which first gave strength to the rebel- 
lion, and who have ruined the kingdom and dethroned the 
King, shall be abolished for ever, as well as the baronial 
privileges and jurisdiction, in order to ameliorate the slavery 


of a faithful people who have replaced their King upon the 
throne, from which treason, felony, and the culpable indiffer- 
ence of the nobles had driven him. This is not pleasant, 
but absolutely necessary, for without it the King could not 
govern quietly his people for six months, who hope for some 
recompense from his justice, after having done everything 
for him. Finally, my dear Lady, I recommend Lord Nelson 
to treat Naples as if it were an Irish town in rebellion 
similarly placed.' ( Vide Pettigrew's c Life of Nelson.') 

Twelve days later (7th July, 1799), in another long 
letter, Maria Caroline wrote to Lady Hamilton : 

' Migliano is a fool, a vulgar courtier, either royalist or 
republican, always poor ; she is a viper with an infernal 
tongue, a woman who has always openly defamed the Court 
and the G-overnment, who after we quitted first exhibited a 
diabolical character, and was one of the strongest female 
pillars of the aristocratic rebellion, which dethroned the 
King by expelling the Vicar-general before the coming of 
the French : in a word, my dear Lady, I unfortunately know 
the Neapolitan nobility and all the classes well, and I shall 
always say the same that there are but the Bourgeois, the 
working and the lower class, who are faithful and attached, 
the latter are sometimes misled by the passions, but their 
sentiments are good.' ( Vide Pettigrew's * Life of Nelson/) 

Eleven days later (18th July, 1799), speaking of 
individuals who had distinguished themselves in the 
Parthenopeian revolution, Maria Caroline wrote to the 
British Minister's wife : 

'When I saw the man arrested, and especially noticed to 
the King, I considered all was over, and that he must sub- 
mit to his punishment, which will be, in my opinion, an im- 
prisonment in the islands. There being so many leaders, it 
would be necessary to hang hundreds of them at least, before 
he could be justly condemned, as he never fought against 
the King, nor has he been a chief, nor published any of those 
infamous prints. I have since been obliged to abandon him 
to his fate, and you must treat him like all the others. There 

TT 9 


is Montemileto, the son of Cassano, who fought against the 
King; Stigliano, a military turncoat, is in the same case as 
Montemileto (except that he has not such a bad wife) ; they 
should all be punished alike, and I beg no particular favour 
may be shown to any. As to the others, the public might 
make very troublesome complaints, and certes, at this time, 
the motives influencing the judgments and the pardons grant- 
ed will be commented on, and their justice arraigned.' 
(Vide Pettigrew's < Life of Nelson/) 

The letters, from which these extracts have been 
made, may be found (translated into English) in the 
first volume of Pettigrew's c Life of Nelson,' together 
with numerous other letters from Maria Caroline, 
which should be studied carefully by readers who 
would have a complete and precise knowledge of the 
Queen's temper and policy at this point of her career, 
and of Lady Hamilton's part in the events, in respect 
to which she was again only the channel through which 
the Queen transmitted her sentiments to other persons. 
After perusing the letter of the 25th of June, which 
in substance and sentiment accorded with the epistles 
addressed to Nelson by the King and his prime 
minister, no reader is likely to persist in thinking that 
Nelson went beyond the King's purpose and instruc- 
tions in dealing so promptly with Caracciolo. That 
Maria Caroline was animated by vehement animosity 
against the revolutionary leaders, and by a strong 
opinion that the most should be made of the good 
opportunity for crushing the Neapolitan Jacobins, is 
obvious. It is impossible to think tenderly, difficult to 
think with fairness of the Queen, who, sitting in her 
cabinet at Palermo, wrote so bitterly and unrelentingly 
of the wretched men and women, who had been con- 


cerned in the rebellion. But Maria Caroline -was no 
mere Queen-Consort. The ruling woman would have 
shown herself insufficient for her peculiar position, 
had she been swayed at such a moment by com- 
passion for the malefactors to whose disadvantage 
she plied her pen. There are times when ruling 
persons, whether they be men or women, are required 
to send persons to death, slavery or exile, in the 
interest of society at large. In estimating the spirit 
of personal vindictiveness that is now and then dis- 
cernible in what Lady Hamilton called the Queen's 
* orders,' the judicial reader will remember the various 
circumstances, which almost justified the emotions of 
hatred and vengeance. 

In fairness to Maria Caroline it should also be re- 
corded that, whilst writing thus bitterly of her 
enemies, she was not indifferent to the sufferings of 
the unoffending Neapolitans, on whom the hateful 
republic had been imposed. S I send you again/ the 
Queen wrote to Lady Hamilton, on the 20th of July, 
1799, c 600 ducats to bestow as your benevolent soul 
suggests upon the unfortunate who need it, certain 
that it will be dispensed appropriately, for I know 
your heart.' Ten days later (30th July, 1799), 
Marie Antoinette's sister sent a larger sum of money 
to her envoy in Naples Bay, together with these 
words, c I beg of you to have the kindness to dis- 
tribute the 1,000 ducats which I send you as you 
think best; there is, besides that Luciana who calls 
herself Fortunata, another common woman called 
Piete de Pesce, at the statue of San Gennaro in 
Strada Nuova ; pardon these commissions, but I know 


your excellent heart, and take advantage of it. 
Moreover, evidence is not wanting, that, if she could, 
through Lady Hamilton, admonish her husband to 
deal unrelentingly with particular rebels, Maria Caro- 
line was also capable of commending offenders to 
his royal clemency. Writing to Lady Hamilton on 
the 28th of July, 1799, for the advantage of fi the un- 
fortunate Pignatelli,' towards whom Ferdinand had 
good reason to feel bitterly, Her Majesty remarked : 
c The King, on his return from the re-taking of Naples^ 
might, I think, grant pardon to him, and to Ppe 
and Migliano ; the three unfortunate beings have 
erred, but are not Jacobins, and they say that seven 
months' disgrace, apparently to please the Allies, 
ought to suffice.' Regard being had to the disdain- 
ful acrimony with which Maria Caroline wrote of 
Migliano three weeks earlier, and to her cogent 
reasons for thinking of Migliano's wife with aversion,, 
this intervention in behalf of the ' fool and vulgar 
courtier,' whose wife was * a viper with an infernal 
tongue/ indicates that Her Majesty's bark was some- 
times worse than her bite, and that she could 
sometimes relent speedily to those who had greatly 
incensed her. That Marie Antoinette's sister was 
capable of mercy as well as of persistence in revenge- 
ful emotion, is certified by Miss Cornelia Knight, who 
had good opportunities for observing Her Majesty's 
conduct at the very time, when she is supposed by 
most writers to have surrendered herself wholly and 
absolutely to passionate vindictiveness. c The Queen, 7 
says Miss Knight, ' who has been accused of so much 
vindictive cruelty, was, to my certain knowledge, the 


cause of many pardons being granted. -And there 
was one lady in particular whom she saved, who was 
her declared enemy, and at the head of a revolu- 
tionary association/ 

To argue from the letters which passed between 
the Queen at Palermo and Lady Hamilton on board 
the Foudroyant, that Ferdinand (to use Alison's words) 
placed * the administration of justice ' in the hands 
of the two ladies, would be to misrepresent the nature 
of the correspondence and the position of the British 
Minister's wife. Respecting the measures to be taken 
for the punishment of the Neapolitan Jacobins, Maria 
Caroline, in her letter of the 25th of June, only 
announced what had already been agreed upon by 
herself, the King, and the Prime Minister, and was 
communicated directly to Nelson by Ferdinand and 
Sir John Acton. But though they did not make her 
' an administrator of justice,' in the ordinary and fair 
sense of the term, the Queen's letters no doubt gave 
Lady Hamilton a dangerous power over the royal 
prerogative of mercy, and in a large number of cases 
instructed her how she was to exercise the power. 
By the Queen's favour and design, Lady Hamilton 
had for some time acquired much influence over the 
King, who had admired her from an early date of 
her residence in Naples, and this influence Lady 
Hamilton now used, in accordance with the Queen's 
wishes, for the advantage or disadvantage of a con- 
siderable proportion of the petitioners for their sove- 
reign's clemency. At the same time, she was no 
less influential over Nelson, who was regarded by 
Neapolitans of either party and all classes as having 


(to use the words of Dr. Carillez) c the power from 
the King of Naples to dispose of everything.' Under 
these circumstances, it is not surprising that, soon 
after Nelson's arrival in the Bay of Naples, Lady 
Hamilton was inundated with solicitations for the 
exercise of her mediatory influence with the Admiral 
and the King. Both before and after Ferdinand's 
coming on board the Foudroyant, she was the person 
on whose intercession hundreds of wretched people 
rested their hopes of pardon or lenient punishment. 
Letters came to her daily from captives, languishing 
in the castles or the prison-ships. At the same time, 
she was approached personally by supplicants who, 
being themselves under no suspicion of Jacobinical 
proclivities, had the courage and humanity to declare 
their concern for prisoners who had been sentenced 
to death or deportation, or were still awaiting trial. 
Ferdinand was still at Palermo, when, on the 3rd of 
July, 1799, the unfortunate Dr. Carillez (the King's 
physician, better known to students of Nelsonian 
literature as Dominico Cirillo) wrote the pathetic 
letter that will soon be submitted to readers. The 
King had been some days on board the Foudroyant, 
when, on the 17th of July, 1799, the officers of His 
Britannic Majesty's ship Leviathan wrote to Lady 
Hamilton in behalf of ' the unfortunate family of Peatti,' 
entreating her to submit an accompanying petition 
for pardon to His Majesty's favourable consideration. 
On the same day, Nelson wrote to Mrs. Cadogan at 
Palermo, * Our dear Lady' [i.e., Lady Hamilton] *is 
also, I can assure you, perfectly well, but has her 
time so much taken up with excuses from rebels, 


Jacobins, and fools, that she is every day most 
heartily tired. Our conversation is, as often as we 
are liberated from these teazers, of you and your 
other friends in the house at Palermo ; and I hope 
we shall very soon return to see you. Till then, 
recollect that we are restoring happiness to the 
kingdom of Naples, and doing good to millions.' 

The supplicatory epistle, written in English, from 
Dr. Carillez (Dominico Cirillo) to Lady Hamilton runs 

' On board the St. Sebastian* 

'3rd of July, 1799. 

' I hope you won't take it ill, if I take this 
liberty to trouble you with a few lines, in order to make 
you recollect that nobody in this world can protect and save 
a miserable and innocent being, but you. I have lost every 
thing, my house is but a heap of ruins ; I don't know what 
is become of my desolate family, I am quite in the dark, not 
knowing whether my poor old mother exists or not, after 
the general destruction. Milady, you are a sensible and 
charitable lady, I know your sentiments of humanity, there- 
fore you alone may do everything in my favour. You are 
the intimate friend of Lord Nelson, he justly esteems you, 
and he has the power from the King of Naples to dispose of 
everything. The conduct of my life, before and after the 
French Eevolution, has been always honest, pure, and loyal. 
I was often called in to attend French people, while they 
were ill, but never had any intimacy with them, and never 
entertained any correspondence whatsoever with them. 
When General Championnet came to Naples, he sent for 
me and appointed me for one of the members of the Pre- 
vesory (?) Government he was going to establish. The day 
after I sent to him a letter, and formally resigned the em- 
ployment, and saw no more of him. During three months, 
I did nothing else but support with my own money, and 
with that of some charitable friends, the great number of 
. . . existing in the town. I insisted (sic) all the Physi- 


clans, surgeons, and associations to go round to visit poor 
sick persons, who had no possibility of curing their disorders. 
After this period Abrial (?) came to settle the new Govern- 
ment, and he insisted upon my accepting of a place in the 
Legislative Commission. I refused the second and the third 
time ; at last I was threatened and forced. What could I 
do, how could I and what could I oppose ? In the short 
time, however, of this administration, I never took an oath 
against the King, never wrote, nor never said any single 
offensive word against any of the Eoyal Family, never appear- 
ed in any of the public ceremonies, never went to any public 
dinners, never put on the national dress ; no public money 
came through my hands, and the only 100 ducats in paper, 
that were given to me, where (sic) distributed to the poor. The 
few laws, that passed in my time, where (sic) only those that 
could prove beneficial to the people. All other affairs where 
(sic) transacted by the executive commission, which conceled 
every thing from us. These, Milady, are real facts, and 
even if I was to die this very moment I would not conceale 
the truth to you. Your Ladiship knows at present the true 
history not of my crimes, but of the involuntary faults I 
was carried in by the force of the French army. Now, 
madam, in the name of God, dont abandon your miserable 
friend. Eemember that by saving my life, the gratitude of 
an honest family will be eternal? Your generosity, that of 
your husband and of the great Nelson, are my only hopes. 
Procure me a full pardon from our merciful king, and the 
public will not loose an infinite number of medical observa- 
tions collected in the space of forthy years. Eemember I 
did all I could to save the Botanic Garden at Caserta, and 
tried to be as useful to the children of Mrs. Greifer as I 
could. I think it unnecessary, madam, to trouble you any 
longer, you must pardon this long letter and excuse me in 
the present deplorable condition. I beg you to present my 
best respects to Sir William, and to Lord Nelson, while I am, 

' Your most obedient humble servant, 


Though it cannot have failed to stir Lady Hamil- 
ton profoundly, this appeal (to which Sir Harris 


Nicolas, vide ' Dispatches and Letters,' vol. iii, p. 505, 
seems to refer in a note, touching c a petition from 
Cirillo to Lady Hamilton ? ) failed to save the writer's 
life. In one of his private notes (vide Clarke and 
M'Arthur) Nelson says, 'Donrinico Cirillo, who had 
been the King's physician, might have been saved, 
but that he chose to play the fool, and lie ; denying 
that he had ever made any speeches against the 
Government and [saying] that he only took care of 
the poor in the hospitals.' Attributing the doctor's 
execution to the King's severity, Clarke and M 'Arthur 
assert that c the Queen of Naples, on her knees, begged 
of his Majesty the life of Cirillo, but in vain,' a 
statement to be received with lively suspicion, as the 
Queen was at Palermo, when the doctor's case came 
under judicial consideration at Naples. As Sir Harris 
Nicolas justly remarks, c If the statement about 
the Queen's intercession be true, he [i.e., Cirillo] 
must have been executed after the King's return to 
Palermo, because Her Majesty was not then at 

The position, in which Lady Hamilton appeared at 
this moment of her greatest power, was a strange 
place of dignity, and of influence for the life or death, 
freedom or slavery of hundreds of miserable indivi- 
duals, to be occupied by a woman who had formerly 
been a London nursery-maid. 

On the 2nd of July, 1799, Maria Caroline wrote 
from Palermo of her husband's arrangements to Lady 
Hamilton, * This evening, whilst I write to you, the 
Portuguese brig is arrived, with letters of the 30th, and 
that of the dear Admiral to the King has determined 


him, and he will leave us to-morrow evening, which 
causes me many tears, and will cost me more, the 
King not thinking it advisable that I should go for 
the short time he calculates upon remaining there ; 
however he goes to-morrow evening General Acton, 
Castelcicala, and Ascoli will perhaps accompany him, 
and 1000 infantry and 600 cavalry will march [ ] 
Acton and Bourcard. The King wishes to embark in 
his frigate accompanied by the English and the Portu- 
guese brig. I shall remain solitary, offering petitions 
to heaven for a glorious and successful issue,' (vide 
PettigreVs 'Life of Nelson/ vol. i, p. 260). Five 
days later (7th July, 1799), having learnt that the 
barque, which left Naples for Palermo on the 5th, 
passed the King's frigate when he was about forty 
miles from Capri, Maria Caroline thought it probable 
that her husband had already reached Naples. From 
Lady Hamilton's letters it appears that Nelson's 
arrival in the Bay of Naples preceded the King's 
arrival by no more than fourteen days. Ferdinand 
seems therefore to have gone on board the Foudro- 
yant on the 8th of July, two days before the time to 
which the incident is assigned by Pettigrew and 
other writers. 

Under the royal standard, that floated over the 
ship, Ferdinand during the next four weeks held 
levees on the quarter-deck and councils of state in 
the chief-cabin of the Foudroyant. It was from the 
deck of the British Admiral's flag-ship, that Ferdinand 
a few days after his appearance in the bay saw the 
republican flag lowered from the Fort of St. Elmo, and 
witnessed the exaltation of the emblem of his own. 


royal sway over the stronghold, that commanded the 
capital : a spectacle that caused the King to em- 
brace successively each of the three persons (Lord 
Nelson, Sir William Hamilton, and Lady Hamilton) to 
whom he was chiefly indebted for his speedy restora- 
tion to his continental dominions. The reduction of 
St. Elmo was soon followed by the capitulations of 
Capua and Gaeta. 

How life went on board the Foudroyant, whilst she 
was the seat of Ferdinand's government and his place 
of abode, appears from the following letter, 

Lady Hamilton to the Honourable Charles Greville. 

c On Board the Foudroyant, Bay of Naples,. 
4 July 19th, 1799. 


< "We have an opportunity of sending to England, 
and I cannot let pass this good opportunity, without thank- 
ing you for your kind remembrance in Sir William's letter. 
Everything goes on well here. We have got Naples, all the- 
Forts ; and to-night our troops go to Capua. His Majesty is- 
with us on board, were he holds his Councils and Levees 
every day. General Acton and Castelcicala with one gentle- 
man of the bed-chamber attend His Majesty. Sir William 
and Lord Nelson with Acton are the King's Counsellers, 
and you may be ashured that the future government will be 
most just and solid. The King has bought his experience 
most dearly, but at last he knows Ms friends from his 
enemies, and allso knows the defects of his former govern- 
ment, and is determined to remedy them. For he has great 
good sense, and his misfortunes have made him steady and 
look into himself. 

' The Queen is not come. She sent me as her Deputy ; 
for I am very popular, speak the Neapolitan language, and 
[am] consider' d, with Sir William, the friend of the people. 
The Queen is waiting at Palermo, and she is determined, 
as there has been a great outcry against her, not to risk 


coming with the King ; for if it had not succeeded [on] his 
arrival, and he not been well receved, she wou'd not bear 
the blame, nor be in the way. We arrived before the King 
14 days, and I had privatly seen all the Loyal party, and 
Laving the head of the Lazerony an old friend, he came 
in the night of our arrival, and told me he had 90 thousand 
Lazeronis ready, at the holding up of his finger, with . . 
with arms. Lord Nelson, to whom I enterpreted, got a 
large supply of arms for the rest, and they were deposited 

with this man. In the mean time, the were 

waiting in orders. The bombs we sent into St. Elmo were 
returned, and the citty in confusion. I sent for Hispali, 
the Head of the Lazeroni, and told him, in great confidence, 
that the King wou'd be soon at Naples, and that all we 
required of him was to keep the citty quiet for ten days, 
from that moment. We give him onely one hundred of 
our marine troops. These brave men kept all the town 
in order. And he brought the heads of all his 90 thousand 
-round the ship on the King's arrival ; and he is to have 
promotion. I have through him made " the Queen's party," 
and the people at large have pray'd her to come back, and 
she is now very popular. I send her every night a messenger 
to Palermo^ with all the news and letters. And she gives me the 
orders* the same [way]. I have given audiences to those of 
henparty, and setled matters between the nobility and Her 
Majesty. She is not to see on her arrival any of her for- 
mer evil counsellers, nor the women of fashion, alltho 
Ladys of the Bedchamber, formerly her friends and com- 
panions, who did her dishonour by their desolute life. 

^All, all is changed. She has been very unfortunate ; but 
.she is a good woman, and has sense enough to profSt of her 
past unhappiness ? and will make for the future amende 
honorable for the past. In short, if I can judge, it may 
turn out fortunate that the Neapolitans have had a dose of 

'But what a glory to our Good King, to our Country, 

* It is obvious that Maria Caroline's special envoy and corre- 
spondent at the Bay of Naples regarded herself in the summer of 
1791? as nothing more than an agent for executing the Queen's 
orders, and sending Her Majesty budgets of intelligence. 


to ourselves, that we our brave fleet, our great Nelson 
have had the happiness of restoring [the] King to his throne, 
to the Neapolitans their much-loved King, and been the 
instrument of giving a future solid and just government to 
the Neapolitans ! 

1 The measures the King is taking are all to he approved 
of. The guilty are punish* d, and the faithfull are rewarded. 
I have not been on shore but once. The King gave us 
leave to go as far as St. Elmo's, to see the effect of the 
bombs. I saw at a distance our despoiled house, and town, 
and villa, that have been plundered. Sir William's new 
appartment, a bomb burst in it ! But it made me so low- 
spirited, I don't desire to go again. 

<We shall, as soon as the government is fixed, return 
to Palermo, and bring back the Royal family ; for I fore- 
see not any permanent government, till that event takes 
place. Nor would it be politick, after all the hospitality 
the King and Queen received at Palermo, to carry them 
off in a hurry. So, you see, there is great management 

* I am quite worn out. For I am enterpreter to Lord 
Nelson, the King, and the Queen ; and altogether feil quite 
shatter' d; but, as things go well, that keeps me up. We 
dine now every-day with the King at 12 o'clock. Dinner 
is over by one. His Majesty goes to sleep, and we sit down 
to write in this heat ; and on board you may guess what 
we suffer. 

* My mother is at Palermo. But I have an English lady* 
with me, who is of use to me in writing, and helping to 
keep papers and things in order. We have given the King 
all the upper cabbin ; all but one room that we write in 
and receive the ladies who come to the King. Sir William 
and I have an appartment ... in the ward room (?) ; and 
as to Lord Nelson, he is here and there and everywhere. 
I never saw such zeal and activity in any one as in this 
wonderful man. My dearest Sir William, thank God ! is 
well, and of the greatest use now to the King. We hope 
Capua will fall in a few days, and then we shall be able 
to return to Palermo. On Sunday last, we had prayers 

* Probably Miss Cornelia Knight. 


on board. The King asisted, and was much pleased with 
the order, decency, and good behaviour of the men, the 
officers, &c. Pray write to me. God bless you, my dear 
sir, and believe me, 

'Ever yours affectionately, 


tp.S. It would be a charity to send me some things; 
for in saving all for my royal and dear friend, I lost my 
little all. Never mind.' 

Whilst he was intent on reducing Naples, and 
driving the French, to their last man, out of the 
Neapolitan territory, Nelson found himself, neither 
for the first nor the last time, in a position peculiarly 
trying to the judgment and moral courage of a 
commander of a great military force. To accomplish 
the purpose for which he had approached Naples, 
it was needful for him, in the middle of July, 1799, 
to act on the resolution he was forming a few hours 
earlier, viz., to persist in his measures for the reduc- 
tion of Naples, even though the persistence should 
require him to jeopardize the British interest at 
Minorca, in direct disregard of an order from his 
commanding officer. 'Should such an order/ he 
wrote to Earl Spencer, on July 13th, 1799, ' come 
at this moment, it would he cause for consideration 
whether Minorca is to be risked, or the two king- 
doms of Naples and Sicily; I think my decision 
would he to risk the former.' The day on which 
he penned these remarkable words to the Admiralty 
was the same day on which, at a later moment, 
he had to decide finally whether he should secure 
Naples or Minorca. The ink with which the words 
were written had not long been dry, when he re- 


ceived Lord Keith's order (dated, 27th. of June, 
1799) to hasten, with the whole or greater part of 
his force, to Minorca, which, in Lord Keith's opinion, 
was menaced by the recent junction of the French 
and Spanish fleets. Instead of repairing to Minorca, 
with the whole or great part of his force, Nelson 
remained at Naples with his armament. Sis days 
later (19th of July, the day on which Lady Hamil- 
ton dated her long letter from the Foudroyant to 
her nephew, Mr. Charles Greville), Nelson received 
another order (dated, 9th of July, 1799) from Lord 
Keith, to make the safety of Minorca his first con- 
cern. To this second order Nelson was only a few 
degrees less disobedient than he was to the earlier 
mandate. Writing frankly to Lord Keith, that he 
thought it better to save the kingdom of Naples 
at the risk of Minorca, than to save Minorca at 
the risk of the ^kingdom of Naples, Nelson remained 
with his squadron in Naples Bay; but, on the 
22nd of July, he despatched Rear-Admiral Duckworth 
to protect Minorca with a small force. ( 

In thus disregarding orders, when he saw" Min- 
orca was distinctly menaced, though he had 
grounds for thinking it would not be attacked by 
the allied fleets, Nelson was painfully alive to the 
possible consequences of his disobedience, should the 
event discredit his judgment. In thinking he might 
under certain contingencies be * broken 5 for his heroic 
insubordination, he no doubt exaggerated the risk he 
incurred; for generous allowances would have been 
made by the Admiralty and by all England for an. 
error committed by so great a man, in his desire to 



do what was best for his king and country. But 
when It is remembered that he was actually censured 
by the Admiralty for the disobedience, it cannot be 
doubted that, had the allied fleet possessed them- 
selves of Minorca, he would have encountered a 
storm of adverse criticism, that would have lowered 
him in the esteem of the navy, and shaken public 
confidence in his discretion. Fortunately the event, 
by justifying 'his judgment, spared him so great a 
reverse, and even disposed England to applaud his 
technical misdemeanour. Whilst the allied fleets 
left Minorca alone, the French were expelled from 
Southern Italy. 

The first anniversary of the Battle of the Nile was 
celebrated in the Bay of Naples on the 1st of August, 
1799, by the British squadron and the attendant 
Sicilian ships, with feasting, music, and picturesque 
revelry. At the grand dinner on board the Foudroyant, 
King Ferdinand proposed the chief toast of the festal 
hour; and when His Majesty closed his speech by 
drinking the Admiral's health, a salvo of twenty-one 
guns was fired from all the Sicilian ships of war and 
from the castles on shore. In the evening there was 
an illumination of the combined fleets, one of the 
chief features of the gala being the Eoman galley 
whose oars were fitted with lamps, and whose centre 
displayed a nostral column, where Nelson's name out- 
shone the surrounding lights, whilst the stern of the 
vast luminous toy exhibited his portrait, supported 
by two angels. More than two thousand variegated 
lamps were hung about this vessel, on which an or- 
chestra of musicians and singers proclaimed in artful 


strains how the invincible and ever-conquering Nel- 
son had delivered Naples from the gloom of death 
and her children from a doleful fate. 

Of the many persons who were absent from this 
gala before Naples against their will, none felt the 
absence more acutely than Maria Caroline, who wrote 
(in French) to her dear friend on board the Foudroyant, 
6 My very dear Lady, You would scarcely believe how 
very desirous I felt to be with you on the 1st of 
August, at table with our hero, and all his fellow- 
heroes, companions and officers. I should have given 
so heartily the hip, hip f hip, that, in spite of the can- 
non's roar, my voice would have been heard, so deep- 
ly is my heart penetrated.' The Queen, whose spirits 
had been rising steadily from the opening days of 
last April, was regaining her appetite for pleasure. 
And surely, as she was a ruling woman, she had just 
now more reasons for gladness than sorrow. Naples 
had been cleared of the accursed French, and the crown 
of Naples was again upon her husband's brow. The 
* French party ' was crushed. The rope had settled 
accounts with the most pernicious of the Parthenopeian 
leaders. The less guilty of them had in mercy's 
name been sent to chains and slavery in the islands. 
Her enemies were biting the dust, from which few of 
them would ever rise. Should fate remove her docile 
husband, his crown would pass to her docile son. 
Under these circumstances it is not wonderful that 
Maria Caroline was capable of rejoicing. On the 
19th of July, 1799, she had written to Lady Hamil- 
ton, < They are making great preparations for the 
/to of St. Eosalie and the return of the King/ And 



now, in the opening days of August, when she had 
already heard of the fall of Capua, and the next 
boat might bring her tidings that the hitch in the 
proceedings for the capitulation of Gaeta was over, 
Maria Caroline was busying herself in the preparations 
for fetes and court-galas, and was counting the days 
and hours to the time, when at the latest she would 
go in state to the sea-shore, to embrace her husband 
on his triumphal return to Palermo, and put her 
royal arms about the neck of her dear Lady Hamilton. 
At the same time the King and his ' Grande Mai- 
tresse,' as he styled Lady Hamilton, were thinking 
how pleasant it would be to get away from the 
capital, where so much ghastly work had been, and 
was still being done, for the sake of order and good 
government, and to forget all about criminal infor- 
mations, and trials, and executions, and stern sen- 
tences, and teazing supplicants, in the elegant gaieties 
and delicious repasts of the fetes, and balls, and con- 
certs, with which the friends of order and good 
government would soon be showing their gratitude 
to Heaven and the British Navy at Palermo. 

Lady Hamilton to tJie Hon. Charles Greville. 

1 Foudroyant, Bay of Naples, Aug. 5th, 1799. 
c As Sir William wrote to you to-day, my dear sir, I will 
only say that the kingdom of Naples is clear. G-asta and 
Capua have capitulated, and we sail to-night for Palermo, 
having been here seven weeks [ ], and every- 

thing gone on to our wishes. "We return with a kingdom to- 
present to my much-loved Queen. I have allso been so 
happy to succeed in all my company, (sic) and e very-thing I M 
was charged with. The King is in great spirits. I have 
received all the ladies for him, and he calls me his G-rande 


Maitresse. I was near taking him at his word. But, as I 
have had seven long years service at Court, I am waiting to 
get quiet. I am not ambitious of more honours. We have 
had the King on "board a month, and I have never been 
able to go once on shore. Do you not call that slavery ? I 
believe we shall come home in the spring. It is necessary, 
for our pockets and bodys want bracing. Captain Oswald 
will give [you] this. He has been indefatigable under Trou- 
bridge, and goes home to be made Post. God bless you, 
and believe me, my dear Greville ('tis not a crime to call you 

' Your sincere and affectionate, 


' My mother is at Palermo, longing to see her Emma. 
You can't think how she is loved and respected by all. 
She has adopted a mode of living that is charming. She 
[h]as a good appartment in our house, allways lives with 
us, dines, &c., &c. Only, when she does not like it (for 
example, at great dinners) she herself refuses, and [h]as 
allways a friend to dine with her ; and La Signora Madame 
dell'Ambasciatora is known all over Palermo, the same as 
she was at Naples. The Queen has been very kind to 
her in my absence, and went to see her, and told her she 
ought to be proud of her glorious daughter that has done 
so much in these last suffering months. There is great pre- 
parations for our return. The Queen comes out with all 
Palermo to meet us. A landing-place is made, balls, sup- 
pers, illuminations, ah 1 ready. The Queen has prepared 
my cloaths in short, if I have fag'd, I am more than 
repaid. I tell you this, that you may see I am not un- 
worthy of having been once in some degree your eleve. 
G-od bless you !' 

In the postscript of her letter of the 19th of July, 
1799, Lady Hamilton wrote to her nephew, Charles 
Greville, c It would be a charity to send me some 
things; for in saving all for my royal and dear 
friend, I lost my little all,' viz., the same little all 
which she subsequently valued at 9,000 ! In the 


postscript of her last-given letter (of the 5th of 
August, 1799) to the same correspondent, Lady 
Hamilton says, * The Queen h\as prepared my cloaths, 
in short, if I have fag'd, I a*n more than repaid ' 
an announcement to Mr. GreviQe that there was no. 
longer any need for him to send her a present of 
wearing apparel. 




From Naples to Palermo Royal Gifts Diamonds and Coach- 
loads of Magnificent Dresses The Dukedom of Bronte 
kelson's Assignment of Kevenue to his Father Celebration 
of the Recovery of Naples Nelson's Honour Lady Hamil- 
ton's Vindication Nelson as Commander-in-Chief of the 
Mediterranean Fleet His brief "Visits to Palermo Capture 
of Le Genereux A Gallant Frigate Nelson's Letters to the 
Emperor Paul Lady Hamilton decorated with the Cross of 
St. John of Jerusalem Her Services to the Maltese Her 
Exaggeration of those Services Pettigrew's Account of 
Them Inquiries from the Herald's College Grant of Arms 
to Lady Hamilton She Assigns her Birth to Preston in 
Lancashire, instead of Great Neston in Cheshire Probable 
Reason for this Misdescription. 

17991800 A.D. 

LEAVING Naples Bay in the evening of the 5th of 
August, 1799, Nelson landed, on the 8th at Palermo, 
where the King was received with acclamations, 
and Lady Hamilton was welcomed by Maria Caroline 
with passionate expressions of delight, affection, and 

Controlled by these sentiments, the Queen lavished 
gifts on the c dear Lady,' to whom she felt herself 
scarcely less indebted than to Nelson for the recovery 
of Naples. After embracing the British minister's 
wife at the place of public welcome, she put upon 


her neck a rich gold chain, to which was attach- 
ed the donor's miniature portrait, set with dia- 
monds, so that some of the gems formed the words, 
c Eterna Gratitudine.' A day or so later, Maria Caro- 
line sent to her friend's house two coach loads of 
magnificent dresses, that were valued at upwards of 
3,000, together with a richly jewelled picture of 
King Ferdinand, worth a thousand guineas. At the 
same time, another jewelled picture of the King 
was sent as an offering to the British Ambassador. 
The value of the presents sent at this time by the 
Queen to the Hamiltons, was computed at sis thou- 
sand pounds. Lady Hamilton was therefore lavishly 
compensated for the loss of that part of her ward- 
robe, which she left behind her at Naples in the 
previous December, the loss on which she partly 
rested her claim for a national pension, when she 
had so completely 'talked herself out of a just view 
of the proportions of things ' as to think it a loss of 

At the same time, Nelson received a reward worthy 
of the services for which it was rendered and of 
the sovereign who requited them. Receiving from 
Ferdinand the Sicilian dukedom of Bronte, Nelson 
received also the feud of Bronte in the Farther Sicily, 
that yielded in fortunate times a yearly revenue of 
3,000 sterling. For some days Nelson declined this 
noble but not inordinate honorarium, from a fear that 
his acceptance of so great a gift would expose him 
to a *suspicion of having served the King of the 
Two Sicilies from an ignoble motive. It was not 
till the Hamiltons and King Ferdinand had entreated 


him to have due regard for the honour of the Bour- 
bon Prince, whom he had reinstated in the nobler 
part of his kingdom, that the British Admiral con- 
sented to accept the enrichment he would rather 
have avoided. It was characteristic of Nelson that, 
after yielding to the arguments which decided him, 
on the 13th of August, 1799, to take the feud, his 
first act was to assign from its revenue a first charge 
of 500 a-year for life to his father. 

Three weeks later (3rd of September, 1799), the 
Kecovery of Naples was celebrated at Colli (Palermo) 
by the splendid fete champetre, the preparations for 
which had been in progress for several weeks. The 
most curious, though scarcely the most effective, of 
the several theatrical scenes of this court-gala was 
enacted at the Temple of Fame, which had been 
built and filled with life-size figures, beautifully 
modelled in wax, for a chief diversion of the 
triumphal festivity. One of the statues represented 
Lady Hamilton in the character of "Victory, holding 
in, her outstretched hand a laurel- wreath, for the 
appropriate decoration of the effigy of the British 
Admiral, who was represented in the waxen tableau, 
as being introduced by Sir William Hamilton to 
the benignant Goddess. This trophy in wax had 
been prepared for the scene, with which Nelson and 
his two friends were welcomed to the f&te on their 
appearance at the steps of the Temple, where they 
were received by their Sicilian Majesties and their 
children, as the three chief guests of the gala, in the 
presence of a multitude of courtiers. After embracing 
each of the guests of highest consideration, Ferdi- 


nand toot from Victory's hand the wreath of laurel 
(sparkling with diamonds), and laid it on the brow 
of the hero of Aboukir, coronets of the same kind 
being subsequently placed by His Majesty on Sir 
William and Lady Hamilton. All that followed this 
droll bit of theatrical extravaganza the dances, suc- 
cessive concerts, dramatic interludes, warblings of 
courtly odes, picturesque distractions, torch-light 
processions, fire-works on land, and explosions of 
fire-ships on water may be left to the imagination. 
Enough for the present historian of the folly of Colli 
to record, that from first to last the f$te of the Ee- 
covery of Naples was a gala to the glorification of 
Nelson of the Nile. Whilst the Queen and her bevy 
of Princesses wore ornaments, that to every beholder 
declared them idolaters of the whole world's Supreme 
Admiral, the inferior ladies of the triumphant court in 
their dress and talk followed the fashion of the hour. 

In being thus honoured by the Sicilian Court, Nel- 
son was rewarded for services that were altogether 
honourable. In respect to Caracciolo, he only did his 
duty as Commander-in-chief of the Sicilian Navy. In 
handing over to Ferdinand the rebels of the two 
castles, he acted in accordance with the spirit of the 
instructions,, which placed the King of the Sicilies 
under his protection. So far as he can be held ac- 
countable for the punishment of the Neapolitan rebels, 
he merely gave Ferdinand the counsel and counten- 
ance that Wellington, or any other British commander, 
would under corresponding circumstances have given 
the Sicilian monarch. 

Lady Hamilton is to be no less fully acquitted of 


misconduct, in respect to lier part in the proceedings 
for the recovery of Naples and the annihilation of the 
Neapolitan * French party.' That she * shared' (to 
use Alison's words) ' in all the feelings of the court * 
may be admitted. No doubt, she regarded the 
French nation with aversion, as a supremely wicked 
people, for having murdered an inoffensive King and 
virtuous Queen, and for educating other peoples ta 
rise in rebellion against their appointed rulers. No- 
doubt, she detested the Neapolitan Jacobins as a 
confederation of atrocious individuals, who under 
circumstances favourable to their designs would sur- 
pass the Jacobins of France in excesses of cruelty 
and malice. But if in these respects she resembled 
the loyal minority of the Sicilian courtiers, she in the- 
game respects resembled nine-tenths of the educated 
Englishwomen of her period. It would have been 
strange, if the Court Beauty, whose superficial educa- 
tion only qualified her to excel in a few graceful and 
frivolous accomplishments, had taken a philosophical 
view of the revolutionary movement and a charitable 
view of its leaders. By every person, who had a 
share in the formation of her character, republicans 
and their sentiments were regarded with abhorrence. 
A narrow-minded though polite aristocrat, Mr. Gre- 
ville had trained her to think reverentially of aristo- 
cracies. On settling in Naples she passed several 
years under the intellectual dominion of Sir William 
Hamilton, whose political sentiments were those of a 
courtier, an old-fashioned tory, and a. patrician diplo- 
matist. On becoming Maria Caroline's protfyfo, she 
came under the influence of a Queen who necessarily 


regarded Jacobins as the worst and most pernicious 
miscreants of the whole universe. On becoming 
intimate with Nelson, she fell under the dominion of 
a man, who surpassed even Maria Caroline in detesta- 
tion of the French and all persons infected with their 
damnable principles. It is surely neither strange, 
nor a matter to be objected reproachfully against 
her, that the pupil of such teachers, a singularly 
sympathetic and highly emotional woman, thought 
and felt as they did. It will be time to reflect 
severely on the unenlightened narrowness of her 
political views, when some indiscreet eulogist of the 
faulty though charming woman shall extol her for 
having been in 1799 superior to the prejudices and 
antipathies of her associates. 

The strength and fervour of her anti-republican 
sentiments could not, however, be fairly pleaded in 
extenuation of the excesses of vindictive cruelty to- 
wards the Neapolitan Jacobins, with which she has 
been charged by libellers and careless historians. But 
in respect to these accusations she seems entitled to 
an unqualified acquittal. It has already been seen, 
how the worst of these accusations the charge of 
inhuman delight at Caracciolo's execution is affect- 
ed by critical examination. Nothing in the way of 
personal story can be more sure, than she did not 
exult at the Prince's fate, was not present at his 
execution, did not beg < Bronte ' (!) to take her in the 
barge for another look at the hanging body. That 
such monstrous statements were made to her infamy, 
in the total absence of justificatory facts and a corre- 
sponding presence of exculpatory circumstances, 


should dispose readers to think her guiltless of the 
several other offences, charged against her by the 
originators of the Caracciolo libels. The one grain 
of truth to bushels of falsehood in the stories of her 
visits to Neapolitan dungeons with gifts of poisoned 
fruit, is that after the fall of the fortress in July, 1799,. 
she paid a single visit to St. Elmo, in order to get a 
view of Naples from the summit of the stronghold. 
During her residence of more than seven weeks on 
board the Foudroyant in Naples Bay, her intercourse 
with those of the Neapolitans with whom she had 
business was held on board the flag-ship. 

Persons, as readers know, often came to her there 
with supplications addressed to her humanity ; and 
that she did not repel these suppliants with cruel words 
or an unfeeling manner, appears from the numbers of 
the petitioners who ' teazed ' her (Nelson's expression) 
with their importunities to the very day, on whose 
evening she sailed for Palermo. Some of the people 
to visit her on board the ship-of-war were poor people 
to whom she gave money, and the persons whom she 
used as agents for the distribution of money, which 
Maria Caroline put in her hands for charitable pur- 
poses. Containing no single passage, to justify an 
inference that the receiver of the epistles was ani- 
mated by ferocious vindictiveness to the Partheno- 
peian republicans, Maria Caroline's letters to the 
British Minister's wife are redundant with testimony,, 
that the latter was acutely touched by the miseries of 
Jacobins and the necessity for punishing them. A 
passage of one of these letters has already been put 
in evidence, to show how fully aware Maria Caroline 


was that her correspondent pitied a man so little de- 
serving of pity as the treacherous Caracciolo. 'I 
have seen/ wrote the Ruling Woman to her confi- 
dential friend, * the sad and merited end of the unfor- 
tunate and mad-brained Caracciolo. I am sensible 
how much your excellent heart must have suffered, 
which increases my sense of gratitude to you/ 
Whilst the written petitions, that came to the Queen's 
* deputy * on board the Foudroyant, exhibit an equally 
pathetic and significant confidence In the womanly 
softness of her nature, the evidence is abundant 
that Lady Hamilton repeatedly obtained pardons for 
rebels, and throughout those tragic weeks was an 
influence making for mercy towards offenders. 

Had I come on contrary evidence I should publish 
it for the sake of the truth, that is above all things 
requisite in personal history. In the total absence of 
such qualifying testimony, I declare confidently that, 
-throughout her stay in Naples Bay, Lady Hamilton 
was as miserable about and pitiful for the wretched 
rebels as so sensitive and compassionate a woman 
could not have failed to be, under all the circum- 
stances of the doleful case. 

Lord Keith having left the Mediterranean to follow 
the combined fleets, that had withdrawn to Brest, 
Nelson was appointed to the chief command of the 
Mediterranean station during Lord Keith's absence ; 
the letter, which thus placed the whole Mediterranean 
fleet under his control, being dated on the same day 
as the epistle, in which he was censured by the 
Admiralty far disobeying his commanding-officer's 


To discover how Nelson was slandered by the 
writers, who represent that, after the recovery of 
Naples, he spent in luxurious repose at Palermo 
the time and energies he should have devoted to 
official service and the interests of his country, read- 
ers should ascertain from the dates of his letters and 
dispatches 'the fewness of the days he passed in the 
society of the Hamiltons from the middle of Septem- 
ber, 1799, to the middle of April in the following 
year. Whilst taking measures for the reduction of 
Malta, the safety of Minorca, the blockade of Cadiz, 
and the discomfiture of the French in northern Italy, 
in accordance with his special instructions from the 
Admiralty, he discharged with characteristic zeal and 
thoroughness all the multifarious duties of the chief 
command of the Mediterranean fleet till the 6th of 
January, 1800, when he again placed himself under 
Lord Keith's orders. Always an early riser, he was 
almost incessantly at work upon his burdensome and 
multifarious correspondence from breakfast to supper. 
At the close of November, 1799, he could .boast that 
< he never relaxed from business till 8 o'clock at 
night/ except on the rare occasions when he attended 
the Sicilian Court, and that he had * never but three 
times put his feet on the ground since December, 
1798.' On ceasing to act as Lord Keith's locum 
tenens, he returned to his subordinate command with 
undiniinished zeal for the interests of the service. 
His visits to Palermo in the earlier months of 1800 
were few and brief; and it has yet to be shown that 
he ever passed two or three days with his friends on 
shore, when he should have been at sea. If he sailed 


for Palermo on the 16th of January, 1800, for one of 
these * short vacations ' in the society of Sir William 
and Lady Hamilton, he joined Lord Keith in the 
Leghorn Roads on the 20th, and was sailing with 
him on the 25th of the same month. His run to 
Palermo in the following month a trip made in the 
company of his Commander-in-Chief was for a 
longer stay, but the brief period of recreation may be 
called a flying visit. Coming with Lord Keith to 
Palermo on the 3rd of February, Nelson, on that 
occasion, loitered with his friends ashore for eight 
days. Had he just then been more eager for pleasure 
than thoughtful for duty, he would have prolonged 
the visit, so as to keep the ever-glorious Valentine's 
Day in the society of the witty old man and rarely- 
beautiful woman, with whom he had been so closely 
and peculiarly associated during the last seventeen, 
months. But he went off for sea on the llth of 
February, 1800, in good trim and humour for the 
gallant affair, with which he may be said to have 
closed the fighting part of his first grand term of 
Mediterranean service. On the 13th of February, 
1800, he was off Messina and writing to Lady Hamil- 
ton : ' To say how I miss your house and company 
would be saying little; but in truth you and Sir 
William have so spoiled me, that I am not happy 
anywhere else but with you, nor have I an idea that 
I ever can be/ Five days later (Tuesday, 18th 
February) he was chasing the French ship of the 
line, Le GMreux the ship of 74 guns that had 
escaped from the Battle of the Nile together with 
the Guillaume Tell and two frigates. The smart 


chase and brilliant capture of Le Gdndreux have been 
celebrated by several writers, but the story is best 
told in Nelson's Journal : 

c Tuesday 18th From 8 to noon in full chase of a 

French ship of the line, and three frigates fast up. Pray 
God we may get alongside of them ; the event I leave to 
Providence. I think if I can take one 74 by myself, I -would 
retire, and give the staff to more able hands. 1 o'clock, can, 
see the line of battle ship's upper ports ; but we are not com- 
ing up with her so fast as I could wish. At 10 minutes 
past 4, P.M. the Success frigate fired a broadside in raking 
the French ship, and the Foudroyant fired two guns at her, 
on which she fired two broadsides and struck her colours 
proved to be Le Genereux of 74 guns, Rear-Admiral Perree, 
with 600 troops on board for Malta. Thank God.' 

In this affair the giant fell to the dwarf; for, though 
Le Genereux struck to the British Admiral's flag- 
ship, she did not surrender till the plucky little frigate 
Success had shot away the French Admiral's legs, and 
made his vessel an easy conquest to the Northumber- 
land and Foudroyant. It was not Nelson's fault that 
he missed his chance of taking the c 74 by himself.' 
He had crowded every inch of canvas in the chase, 
and done his utmost to make the glory of the affair 
all his own. For what he failed to do, he was con- 
soled by the mark of honour which a shot from Le 
Gnreux had put on the Foudroyanfs mizen-stay- 
sail. In every other respect Nelson had cause to be 
satisfied with the day's work. By escaping from the 
rout and havoc of Aboukir Bay, Le G&n&reux had 
earned Nelson's cordial and reasonable resentment. 
She was taken in the act of conveying troops and 
provisions to Malta. The large store-ship that was 


captured together with Le GJndreux, ' had on board 
two thousand troops, with provisions aiid ammuni- 
tion for the relief of La Valetta.' Had Nelson been 
an ordinary admiral, he would have prided himself 
vastly on the record of this 18th of February. Even 
to the hero of the Nile it was an affair to be spoken 
of with self-complacence. In that vein he wrote of it, 
on the 26th of February, 1800, to the Imperial and 
Majestic Paul, Emperor of all the Russias, who, as 
Grand Master of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem 
at Malta, had recently made himself honourable to 
the British Admiral by decorating Lady Hamilton 
with the Little Cross of devotion of the said Order. 
For the more perfect elucidation of Lady Hamilton's 
curious story, one would fain know more of the par- 
ticulars of the services for which she was, through 
Nelson's influence, rewarded with the decoration 
which caused Captain Ball to style her a 6 Chanoiness 
of St. John' of Jerusalem.' That she was so decor- 
ated because Nelson thought she ought to be so 
decorated, and asked the Emperor so to decorate her, 
is well-known. It appears also from a letter, which 
he addressed to the Emperor on the 31st of October, 
1799, that Nelson deemed her entitled to the distinc- 
tion on account of her exertions in procuring a supply 
of food for the starving Maltese, at a time when the 
supply was needful for keeping them well affected to 
the forces that were blockading the French in Valetta. 
At the close of his long letter to the Emperor, who 
had been recently constituted Grand Master of the 
Knights of Malta, Nelson said, 


< The laborious task of keeping the Maltese quiet in 
Malta, through difficulties which your Majesty will per- 
fectly understand, has been principally brought about by 
the goodness of her Majesty, the Queen of Naples, who at 
one moment of distress sent 7,000, belonging absolutely to 
herself and children, by the exertion of Lady Hamilton, the 
wife of Sir William Hamilton, my gracious Sovereign's 
Minister to the Court of the Two Sicilies, whom your 
Majesty knows personally, and by the bravery and con- 
ciliating manners of Captain Ball. If your Majesty honours 
these two persons with the decoration of the Order, I can 
answer, none ever more deserved the Cross, and it will be 
grateful to the feelings of your Majesty's most faithful and 
devoted servant, 


Thus asked for, the decorations were of course 
immediately granted to Lady Hamilton and Captain 
Ball by the Emperor, who was of course well pleased 
to oblige the British Admiral so easily, and at the 
same time do what might confirm the Order's not 
unquestionable title to the island of Malta. The 
point to be observed is that, whilst commending 
Maria Caroline for giving 7,000 for the relief of the 
Maltese, Nelson only commended Lady Hamilton for 
* exertion ' in behalf of the islanders. The applica- 
tion to the Emperor was no doubt made by Nelson 
with Lady Hamilton's knowledge and approval. If, 
therefore, Lady Hamilton gave a large sum of money 
for the relief of the Maltese, Nelson could not well 
have been ignorant of the fact, and knowing it would 
scarcely have failed to mention it in the petition for 
her proper reward. 

It is needful to look into this matter, because a 
few years later, when she had talked herself into 



believing strange and unreal things of her doings in 
Italy, Lady Hamilton put forward her great munifi- 
cence to the starving Maltese as one of the reasons 
why she ought to have a national pension. 

The account given by Pettigrew of Lady Hamil- 
ton's beneficence to the starving Maltese is to this 
effect. In 1799, when Nelson was away from Palermo 
with his naval force, seeking for the French fleet, 
there arrived in Sicily six Maltese emissaries, whom 
Captain (afterwards Sir Alexander) Ball had sent to 
the capital of the island to confer with Nelson on 
the state of affairs in Malta. Having Nelson's au- 
thority to open his letters and dispatches, and in 
other ways to act for him, during his absence, Lady 
Hamilton received these Maltese emissaries, opened 
their letters of credence, and learnt from the deputies 
that the hunger-goaded Maltese were for food's sake 
ready to join in any sortie the French might make. 
On learning how greatly the Maltese were in need 
of food, Lady Hamilton went down to the port, 
bought the cargoes of several vessels laden with 
corn, and hired vessels to cany the grain to Malta. 
6 To accomplish this, however/ says Pettigrew, ' Lady 
Hamilton was under the necessity of borrowing a 1 
considerable sum, which she repaid with her own 
private money, and thus expended, as she says, 
nothing short of 5.000, not a shilling of which, nor 
the interest, did she ever get returned.' According 
to Pettigrew, this service enabled Captain Ball to 
hold his ground in Malta. 

What is the truth of this story ? That at the time 
alluded to Lady Hamilton was directly and personally 


instrumental in sending an urgently needed supply 
of grain to Malta appears from Captain Ball's letters 
to her and Nelson. That she rendered this service 
is indisputable, though the importance of the service 
appears to have been curiously overrated, as the relief 
she afforded the Maltese by her distinctly commend- 
able action was so slight and transient, that Captain 
Ball was soon compelled to help himself with a strong 
hand to the grain lying in the port of Messina, which 
bold step he would of course have taken at an earlier 
date, had Lady Hamilton failed to supply his want 
for the moment. But how about the 5,000 which 
Lady Hamilton borrowed and eventually repaid out 
of her own purse, to those who lent it on her security? 
Of whom did she borrow so large a sum? Nelson 
did not lend it to her, for he was away from Palermo. 
Sir William Hamilton could not have lent it to her, 
for he was just then in urgent straits for ready money. 
Living at Palermo beyond his income, he had for 
some time been enabled to maintain his establishment 
there by Nelson's far from heavy purse. Maria Caro- 
line, who at Lady Hamilton's entreaty provided 7,000 
for the needs of the Maltese, certainly did not lend the 
5,000 to her. Money-lenders do not lend large sums 
to women of fashion on no security. Lady Hamil- 
ton's privy purse consisted of her modest allowance 
of 200 a year. So late as last July, she had been 
spelling for a gift of new raiment from her nephew, 
Mr. Charles Greville. She could no doubt have 
pawned her diamonds and two coach-loads of mag- 
nificent dresses for a considerable sum. But instead 
of leaving them in pawn at Sicily, she brought them. 


to London. How, then, did she get possession of the 
5,000, which she in later time declared herself to 
have spent at this crisis on corn for the Maltese. 
Had she spent so large a sum in the alleged way, 
Nelson would certainly have mentioned the fact in 
his letter to the Emperor Paul. I have no doubt that 
the story of the 5,000, which Pettigrew with such, 
simple credulity accepted for truth on her ; she says * 
was either one of those egregious exaggerations or 
one of those mere fictions, of which Lady Hamilton 
was so often guilty in her later time, when talking 
about her services to ungrateful England. 

She may possibly have spent five hundred ounces 
of silver on the Maltese, but she never spent 5,000 
upon them. Nelson preserved a copy of his second 
letter to the Emperor Paul, the letter, dated Feb- 
ruary 26th, 1800, in which he thanked the Emperor 
for conferring the cross of Malta on Lady Hamilton 
and Captain Ball ; and this copy Lady Hamilton (vide 
Pettigrew's 'Life of Nelson,' vol. i, p. 329) endorsed 
with these words of her own writing, c Lord Whit- 
worth, our then minister at St. Petersburg, had the 
Emperor's orders to write home that I might be per- 
mitted to wear the Order. I not only received the 
Deputies from Malta, but in a few hours I sent off 
three ships laden with corn> and got 7,000 from the 
Queen, and gave Jive hundred ounces of my own to relieve 
them. Nelson was out with his fleet at that time, 
looking for the French fleet.' This endorsement is 
not dated, but it is conclusive evidence that, before 
she came to imagine she had spent 5,000 on corn 
for the Maltese, she conceived herself to have given 


them only five hundred ounces of silver. It -was 
thus that her services to ungrateful England grew 
under the excited fancy of the woman, who was so 
apt to talk herself out of the true view of the propor- 
tions of things. 

How poor an authority she was in respect to her 
patriotic services, even in her most deliberate state- 
ments about them, appears from what she said of her 
exertions for Malta and the Maltese in the memorial 
and petition for a pension, which she addressed to 
George the Third. In this appeal she spoke of these 
exertions as ' services with which the Emperor of all 
the Russias, as your Majesty's Ally, and the Grand 
Master of Malta, was so perfectly satisfied, that he 
actually transmitted to your Majesty's humble mem- 
orialist, soon after the surrender of that island , the title 
and insignia of Lady of Malta, of the honourable 
order of the Petite Croix, accompanied by a cross of 
that order, and a very flattering letter signed by his 
Imperial Majesty's own hand.' Paul's letter, grant- 
ing the decoration, was dated on the 21st of Decem- 
ber, 1799; Malta was not taken by Major-General 
Pigot till the 5th of September, 1800. When Lady 
Hamilton went with Nelson to Malta in the spring of 
1800, she wore the Cross of Malta on her breast. 
During her stay at Malta, she and her companions 
must have talked daily of the French, who were still 
holding Yaletta. Yet the lady, on whose inexact 
and contradictory statements successive biographers 
have placed implicit reliance, a few years later could 
aver that she was not decorated with the Order of 
Malta till the island had surrendered. 


The King of England having assented to the Em- 
peror Paul's request, that Lady Hamilton should be 
permitted by her sovereign to wear the decoration, 
and that her enrolment in the order of Malta should 
be duly recorded at the College of Arms of her native 
country, it devolved upon the authorities of the 
Heralds' College of London to make inquiries respect- 
ing the place of her birth and the history of her 
ancestors. What she said of her father's social condi- 
tion is not recorded, but she appears to have assigned 
her birth to a town which she perhaps never visited, 
and a county that had not the honour of producing 
her. Anyhow, on the 16th of November, 1806 (for 
.the business hung on hand for several years) the 
widow of the late Eight Honourable Sir William 
Hamilton, K.B., received a grant of arms (Per pale 
Or and Argent, three Lions rampant, Gules on a chief 
Sable, a Cross of eight points of the second), by 
Letters Patent that declared her the only issue of 
Henry Lyons of Preston, in the County of Lancashire, 
instead of Great Neston in the County of Cheshire. 
That in 1806 Lady Hamilton had for some years 
hailed from Lancashire, appears from several extant 
letters. On the 21st of February, 1800, John Tyson 
(Nelson's Secretary and Prize Agent for the GJnfoeuas), 
whilst reflecting lightly on the advantages accruing 
from a Scotch descent to persons doing business with 
Lord Keith, wrote to her, <I almost regret that I had 
not been born a Scotchman, and had not Lancashire 
produced a Lady Hamilton, whom I am so proud of 
calling my countrywoman, I do not know, but I 
might hail from the north of the Tweed.' But I 


know of no reference to Lady Hamilton's Lancashire 
origin, whose date discountenances the suggestion 
that the inquiries of the Heralds may have determined 
her to conceal the real place of her nativity. Possi- 
bly Sir William Hamilton told the adventuress that 
she had better hail from the Lancashire town than 
tell the heralds she was a native of a rural parish, 
whose register indicated the extreme humility of her 
extraction. Busybodies, who went to Preston prying 
for particulars of her domestic story, would take 
nothing for their pains ; but, if she directed them 
to push their inquiries at Great Neston, they would 
soon discover enough to satisfy them that the famous 
Lady Hamilton was the offspring of plebeian parents.- 
Taking this view of the position, Sir William may 
have instructed his wife to tell the heralds a fib, 
that could not harm anyone, but might preserve 
them from a trivial, but slightly humiliating, annoy- 
ance. Anyhow, whilst coming upon proof that Lady 
Hamilton misdescribed her birth-place, soon after 
she received the Cross of Malta, I find in her papers 
no evidence that she was guilty of the venial decep- 
tion before the date of her military decoration. 

In assigning her birth to Preston in Lancashire, 
Henry Lyon's daughter may perhaps have been in- 
fluenced by the fact that a family named Lyon had 
formerly flourished at Preston, in Harrow, co. Mid- 
dlesex. It is conceivable that, when she was looking 
about for a place and family to which she should 
attach herself, it was suggested to her she would 
do well to declare her father akin to the honourably- 
remembered Founder of Harrow School. If this 


suggestion was made to the adventuress by her 
husband, she may, on consideration, have replied 
that, as she was known to hundreds of people to 
have come from the north of England, it would be 
more prudent for her to hail in heraldic story from 
Preston in Lancashire than from Preston in Middlesex. 




Kelson at Palermo Sir William Hamilton's Recall The Pleasure- 
Trip to Malta Guests on board the Foudroyant Miss 
Cornelia Knight Her Intimacy with Lady Hamilton Her 
Character and Testimony Sir William Hamilton's Confi- 
dence in Nelson 'Perfectly Natural Attentions' Nelson's 
Disposition to the gentler Sex His successive Attachments- 
The Nevis Ladies Nelson's Love of Fanny Nisbet His- 
platonic Devotion to Mrs. Moutray His Marriage His 
Friendship for the Hamiltons Naval and Scandalous G-ossip 
Lady Hamilton's Influence Nelson's religious Disposition 
His Conception of the Deity His habitual Piety Lady 
Hamilton's unusual Sadness Causes of her Melancholy 
4 Come, cheer up, fair Emma ' Sympathy and Passion The- 
Deplorable Incident. 

1800 A.D. 

AFTER capturing Le Genfoeux, Nelson went to Malta,. 
to superintend the blockade of Valetta, and remained 
there till the 10th of March, 1800, when he sailed 
again for Palermo. 1 was very desirous,' Captain 
Ball wrote, under that date, to Lady Hamilton, * that 
he should prolong his stay, but as I perceive he 
requires repose and the society of his good friends- 
at Palermo, I rejoice at his going, as the great and 
important services he has rendered to all Europe,, 
who are enemies to the French, entitle him to every 
honour and happiness.' 


It would have been better for Nelson's fame had 
he, after staying at Palermo for a few days, taken 
leave of the Hamiltons, and sailed for England in 
the ship of war that would, at the close of March 
or the beginning of April, have been assigned to 
him for the homeward voyage. He had for the 
present done his work the work no other officer 
could have accomplished so effectually in the 
Mediterranean. His presence in the southern sea 
was no longer required by his country. To all who 
love and honour his memory, that is to say, to 
every child of Great and Greater Britain, it is there- 
fore a matter for regret, that he did not now escape 
from the Hamiltons, and make good speed to Eng- 
land for the repose his shattered health so greatly 
needed. Great men seldom escape great disasters, 
and sometimes encounter them in matters so trivial 
or obscure, that they receive less than due historic 
notice. If the occurrence to which attention must 
now be called is scarcely to be styled a great 
disaster, it was at least a grave and lamentable mis- 
adventure, for its results did more than any other of 
the few questionable incidents of his story to lower 
Nelson in the esteem of a considerable proportion 
of his fellow-countrymen, and make many excellent 
people doubtful even now whether the great Admiral 
should be called a good man. Had it not been for 
the trip to Malta, which he now made less in the 
way of duty than of pleasure, Nelson would have 
escaped this misadventure and its consequent em- 
barrassment and discredit. 

By this time, Sir William Hamilton had been super- 


seded as British Minister at the Court of the Two 
Sicilies. There is nothing in the diplomatist's recall 
to occasion surprise. For years the worn and at- 
tenuated veteran had been steadily declining in 
health and official capacity, though in his brighter 
hours he was still a delightful companion, overflow- 
ing with quaint anecdotes and humorous jeux ff esprit. 
He may be said to have invited his recall, by the 
frequency with which he had of late written to the 
Foreign Office, as well as to his private friends in 
London, of his growing infirmities and need for 
repose. The veteran who asks for rest is apt to be 
regarded as longing and asking for retirement. 
Moreover, there were reasons (of which there is no 
need to speak) which disposed the British Govern- 
ment to think Sir William Hamilton's place in 
Southern Italy should be filled by a diplomatist 
less devoted to Maria Caroline, and less closely 
associated with her 'party.' Had he not already 
known himself to be out of favour with his official 
superiors in London, Sir William Hamilton would 
have inferred as much from the bearing of the gentle- 
man (the Honourable Arthur Paget) who was sent 
out from England to supersede him. Observing the 
signs of Mr. Paget's impatience to present his Letters 
of Credence to King Ferdinand, Sir William Hamil- 
ton also observed the signs of Mr. Paget's significant 
disincHnation to speak with him on the affairs and 
interests of the King's court and country. 

A period having been thus put to Sir William 
Hamilton's official career, it was natural for Lady 
Hamilton to wish to visit the home of the knightly 


Order to which she had been recently admitted, 
before she should return to England. To gratify the 
natural desire of the woman, whom he had now for a 
year and a half regarded with increasing admira- 
tion and tenderness. Nelson invited Sir William and 
Lady Hamilton, Miss Cornelia Knight, another English 
lady and gentleman, and an old Maltese nobleman, to 
accompany him on his flag-ship for a trip, in which 
te would take them to Syracuse, where, through 
Lady Hamilton's influence with the Sicilian Queen 
(as he put the case), he had watered and victualled 
Ms ships for the Battle of the Nile, and to the island 
with whose history Lady Hamilton would for ever be 
so honourably associated. Of course each of the in- 
vitations was accepted. On the 22nd of April, 1800, 
Sir William Hamilton presented his letters of recall 
to Their Sicilian Majesties, and on the morrow (if Miss 
Knight did not err ; or on the 24th of April, if Petti- 
grew is right about the date), the Foudroyant sailed 
from Palermo with the Admiral and his guests on 

Miss Cornelia Knight, of whose participation in the 
great flight from Naples to Palermo mention was 
made in a former chapter, had now been living for 
several months under Lady Hamilton's roof as well 
as under her protection. Lady Knight, who had 
long been an invalid, was fast sinking to death, when 
Nelson and the Hamiltons went off from Palermo in 
June, 1799, for their long sojourn in. the Bay of 
Naples. On taking leave of the dying lady on the 
eve of their departure from Sicily, the British Admiral 
and the British Minister had both promised her to 


take charge of her daughter, and provide for her safe 
return to England. The promise to the dying mother 
was of course fulfilled. As soon as Lady Knight had 
breathed her last breath, worthy Mrs. Cadogan came 
to assist Miss Knight in the arrangements of the 
funeral. The funeral over, good Mrs. Cadogan, acting 
on Lady Hamilton's kindly instructions, carried Miss 
Knight off to Sir William Hamilton's house ; and from 
that time till she parted with them in London, the 
Hamiltons cared for the woman of letters as though 
she had been one of their nearest kindred. From a 
passage of Lady Hamilton's 1 9th of July letter to Mr. 
Charles Greville it appears that, soon after her 
mother's interment, Miss Knight joined the Hamiltons 
on board the Foudroyant, and there acted as secretary 
and amanuensis to the lady who was Nelson's inter- 
preter, her husband's secretary, and Maria Caroline's 
special correspondent and deputy. c My mother,' 
Lady Hamilton wrote to her nephew Charles, 4 is at 
Palermo. But I have, an English lady with me who 
is of use to me in writing, and helping to keep papers 
and things in order/ Anyhow, from the moment of 
her return from Naples to Palermo, in August 179 9, to 
the hour of her arrival in London, Lady Hamilton 
had Miss Knight for her daily and confidential 

That Miss Knight was a clever woman of the world 
is certain. Whilst the position she held at the English 
Court and in English society, after her return to Eng- 
land in 1800, may be regarded as evidence of the 
sobriety of her taste and manners, it has never been 
suggested by any of her acquaintance that she was 


wanting in womanly discreetness, or indifferent to the 
social proprieties. From infancy she was trained to 
value and observe the rules of conventional decorum. 
By birth, breeding, official employment, and social 
circumstances she belonged to the kind of women 
who are most observant of social rules, and the least 
disposed to think lightly of their infringement. Being 
a woman of this kind, Miss Knight (vide her c Auto- 
biography 7 ), speaking of the time she spent under 
the protection of the Hamiltons, remarks : ' There was 
certainly at that time no impropriety in living under 
Lady Hamilton's roof. Her house was the resort of the 
best company of all nations, and the attentions paid 
to Lord Nelson appeared perfectly natural. He him- 
self always spoke of his wife with the greatest affec- 
tion and respect.' This testimony by a woman, who 
had the best opportunity for observing the intercourse 
of Nelson and Lady Hamilton, when they are sup- 
posed by some writers to have been the partners of a 
shameless and undisguised liaison, is noteworthy. It 
may, of course, be urged against the testimony, that 
its writer had interested motives in persuading 
herself and others, that she never connived at im- 
proprieties which womanly virtue required her to dis- 
approve. But to this objection it may be replied, 
that no one has ever ventured to impeach the lady's 

It is also to be remarked that Miss Knight's testi- 
mony to the apparent innocence of Nelson's inter- 
course with Lady Hamilton at this period of' their 
association is confirmed by Sir William Hamilton's 
treatment of the Admiral, and has enthusiastic 


admiration of the hero's moral character, From the 
autumn of 1798, Sir William Hamilton's delight in 
Nelson's society was no less remarkable than his 
wife's enthusiasm for her supreme hero of the British 
navy. In idolatry of Nelson, the British Minister and 
his wife went hand in hand. It may not be imagined 
that, in seizing every occasion for declaring affection 
for Nelson, and displaying unqualified confidence in 
his friendship and honour, that Sir William Hamilton, 
was insincere and deceptive. Nothing is more clear 
in this strange story than, that Sir William Hamilton 
approved and encouraged his wife's affection for their 
friend, and to the last neither saw nor suspected evil 
in it, though in the last two years of his life he was 
painfully sensitive of the discredit accruing to all 
three of them from their peculiar association. Had he 
connived at aught wrong he saw in her attachment to 
Nelson, the Lady and Admiral would have been cog- 
nizant of his insincerity, and after the incident ' of 
the unfottuuate trip to Malta would not have been at 
so much needless pains to keep him ignorant of the 
state of her health, and of Horatia's birth. 

At the moment considerably subsequent to his 
return to England, when he was charging her with 
neglecting him in her excessive care for their friend's 
interest, and was so far at war with her as to threaten 
her with ' separation,' the poor old man paused in 
his outbreak of petulance and splenetic jealousy to 
avow his undiminished confidence, that her affection 
for their hero was purely platonic. To the last, Sir 
William Hamilton believed Nelson had never done 
him dishonour. Giving utterance to this belief in 


a testamentary codicil, which he executed shortly 
"before his death, Sir William was soothed in his 
dying illness by Nelson's personal ministrations, and 
while expiring in his wife's arms lay with his right 
hand in the sailor's remaining hand. 

Though he had been failing for years. Sir William 
Hamilton to the last hour of his Italian career was a 
keen-witted, observant, and, by fits and starts, ener- 
getic old man. Moreover, though his moral nature 
had been lowered by the social usages and tone of 
the southern capital, in which he passed so large 
a portion of his life, they had not depraved and 
* italianated ' him into being capable, in his old age, 
of playing to Nelson the part that Count Guiccioli a 
few years later played to Byron. Holding to the 
main lines and laws of English chivalry, he had ever 
been sensitive for his dignity and title to the world's 
esteem; and in his failing years a sensitive man's 
jealousy for his honour seldom diminishes with his 
ability to defend it. That Sir William Hamilton 
detected nothing to resent in his wife's show of 
regard for Nelson is evidence that, having regard to 
Lady Hamilton's emotional demonstrativeness, Miss 
Knight was justified in saying the attentions * ap- 
peared perfectly natural.' 

It being part of her charming naturalness to say 
what she thought and to show what she felt, we may 
be sure that Lady Hamilton made no secret of her 
admiration of Nelson, but displayed it to all their 
common acquaintance by words and looks that, in 
the case of- any other woman, would Lave been re- 
markable. But the show of feeling, which conduced to 


Josiah Nisbet's unmannerly outbreak at the birthday- 
fte, was an exhibition of Nelsomania, that appeared 
* perfectly natural ' to Miss Knight, who was accus- 
tomed to Lady Hamilton's ways, and altogether 
delightful and commendable to the idolatrous hus- 
band, who admired everything his wife said or did. 

On the other hand. Nelson was in a different way 
no less communicative to the lady, and to all who 
saw them together, of his delight in her beauty, her 
cordial speech, and her several fascinating accom- 
plishments. Few naval officers of his period were 
less qualified by nature to charm the gentler sex 
than Nelson, who, whilst ever ready to worship them 
in silence, was singularly deficient in the personal 
endowments and colloquial readiness, that are a man's 
best passports to feminine favour. Winningly agree- 
able to officers of c the service ' when the talk over 
the walnuts and wine turned on naval matters, 
Nelson, with his small stature, lank hair, long visage, 
faulty costume, and general quaintness of appear- 
ance, was never seen to advantage in a drawing- 
room where men and women amused one another 
with trifles ; his several personal disqualifications for 
scenes of graceful frivolity being on such occasions 
rendered especially conspicuous by a shyness, that 
was chiefly due to constitutional infirmity, and a 
rusticity that was referable to Norfolk. The great 
Admiral, whose gaucheries and solecisms caused Mrs. 
Trench so much amusement at Dresden, was some- 
thing less homely and maladroit in the society of 
unfamiliar womankind than the young Captain Nelson 
of the Boreas, whose taciturnity and bluntness caused 


the Nevis ladies some three-and-twenty years earlier 
to question whether the ' superior mind,' that now 
and then revealed itself in his occasional sallies of 
startling communicativeness, was an altogether sound 
mind. After vainly essaying to lure him into socia- 
bility, and put herself mentally face to face with him, 
one of these charming Creoles came to the conclusion, 
that the likeliest woman of all her acquaintance to 
know how to handle so perplexing a naval officer 
was a certain Fanny Nisbet, whose husband had 
himself died mad after showing great skill and tact 
in the treatment of insane patients. If you,, Fanny, 
had been there/ the fair and vivacious Creole wrote 
to Mrs. Nisbet, 'we think you would have made 
something of him ; for you have been in the habit of 
attending to these odd sort of people/ 

To the Nevis ladies. Captain Nelson's taciturnity 
was the more curious and perplexing, because his 
disinclination to talk evenly and steadily with them 
could not be suspected of proceeding from dislike of 
them, as he was at much pains to give them oppor- 
tunities for talking to him, and was clearly well 
pleased to sit with them and regard them with re- 
spectful curiosity for hours at a time, whilst they 
gossipped vivaciously to one another. Just as in 
later time the Admiral of the Mediterranean fleet 
used to sail for Palermo to see the Hamiltons, the 
young captain of the Boreas used to run into Nevis 
harbour, to dine once and again at President Her- 
bert's table, pass one or two long evenings in listening 
silently to the prattle of the President's daughter and 
niece, and in the same tranquil fashion spend a few 


hours with the ladies in. the President's garden. On 
discovering that the seaman's alternate silence and 
brusquerie were wholly innocent of intentional rude- 
ness, and on the contrary covered and revealed by 
turns a flattering measure of personal esteem, Fanny 
Nisbet (still a young thing in her twenty-third year, 
though she was the widow of the late Josiah Nisbet, 
a Scotch M.D,, who had followed his profession as 
a general practitioner at Coventry, Co. Warwick, 
before emigrating to the West Indies), came to the 
sensible conclusion that, as he was one of * the odd 
sort of people ' who like to show their love without 
talking much about it, she had better say *yes' to 
one of the c occasional sallies of his superior mind.' 
So, after conference between the silent suitor and 
President Herbert about ways and means, and a 
correspondence on the same financial question be- 
tween the taciturn sailor and his uncle William Suck- 
ling of Norfolk, and a year-and-a-halfs prolongation 
of the engagement, during which the seaman said 
very little, but seized every opportunity of surveying 
his Fanny and listening to her small talk with Miss 
Herbert, the marriage of Horatio the silent and 
Fanny Nisbet was duly celebrated at Nevis, to the 
satisfaction of all parties in any way concerned in the 
matter, on the 12th of March, 1787, in the presence 
of His Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence, Nelson 
being then in his twenty-ninth year, whilst Fanny 
Nisbet was still in her twenty-fourth year. 

But though he wooed her thus silently, it is not to 
be inferred that Nelson won his wife without show- 
ing abundant devotion to her, or that their union 


was wanting in romantic attachment on either side. 
'Her personal accomplishments, you will suppose/ he 
wrote, at the beginning of his engagement to Presi- 
dent Herbert's niece, c I think equal to any person's I 
ever saw; but, without vanity, her mental accom- 
plishments are superior to most people's of either 
sex; and we shall come together as two persons 
most sincerely attached to each other from friend- 
ship.' Writing to an uncle on so delicate a subject. 
Nelson would have violated old-fashioned propriety 
had he written more warmly of his passion for the 
lovely young woman, whom he extolled for her men- 
tal endowments, whilst declaring her comparable for 
personal attractiveness with any person he had ever 
seen. She was young, beautiful, clever, but poor,, 
and of no distinguished family. What motive but 
love can Nelson have had for making her an offer ? 
The cordial affectionateness, with which he wrote to 
her from sea from 1793 to 1800, shows that he loved 
her. If the comparative strength of his attachment to 
Fanny Nisbet and his subsequent attachment to Lady 
Hamilton up to 1801 is to be measured by the sentiment 
of the letters he addressed to the ladies, the earlier 
attachment must be declared the stronger. It is the 
fashion of Lady Nelson's detractors to speak of her 
letters to her husband as weak and colourless effu- 
sions, but they were certainly more nervous and elo- 
quent of womanly devotedness than the epistles he 
received from Lady Hamilton. It is, however, more 
important to consider Nelson's letters to his wife. 
How did he write to her? To peruse the letters 
Nelson sent his wife from Italy up to the spring of 


1800, is to see that he was animated by steady and 
chivalric affection for her. 

Before he fell under the influence of Fanny Nisbet 
in the autumn of 1785, Nelson was swayed for several 
months by a virtuous attachment for Mrs. Moutray, 
wife of the commissioner at Antigua, the charming 
woman to whom Collingwood, another of her naval 
admirers in the season of Nelson's tenderest regard 
for her, wrote the lines, 

* To you belongs the wondrous art 
To shed around you pleasure ; 
New worth to best of things impart, 
And make of trifles treasure.' 

Of this lovely and amiable creature Nelson wrote 
from Antigua to Captain Locker on the 24th of Sep- 
tember, 1784, c Was it not for Mrs. Moutray, who is 
very, very good to me, I should almost hang myself 
at this infernal hole,' adding, c Our admiral is toler- 
able, but I do not Eke him : he bows and scrapes too 
much for me ; his wife has an eternal clack, so that 
I go near them as little as possible/ When Mrs. 
Moutray was preparing to return to England, Nelson 
wrote to his brother William these words of hope that 
their sister Kate (afterwards Mrs. Matcham of Ash- 
ford Lodge) would make the acquaintance of the in- 
comparable lady, and profit by intercourse with, so 
rare an example of feminine grace and goodness. 
* If my dear Kate goes to Bath next winter, she will 
be known to her ; for my dear friend has promised to 
make herself known. What an acquisition to any 
female to be acquainted with : what an example to 
take pattern from/ 


Nelson's admiration of Commissioner Moutray's 
-wife was preceded by his brief passion for the young 
lady, whose acquaintance he made at St. Omer 
(France) in the autumn of 1783, and whom he would 
have married had circumstances favoured his senti- 
mental disposition. At Quebec in the previous year, 
as Captain Nelson of the Albemarle (twenty-eight 
guns), he was saved by his friend Davidson from 
what would have been an imprudent, if not absolute- 
ly disastrous, match with a young woman who had for 
some months been the holder of his heart. 

The evidence is therefore conclusive that, though 
she had not in other respects fitted him for the part of 
lady-killer, nature had endowed him with a disposi- 
tion to regard women worshipiully, and to seek hap- 
piness in their society. From early manhood to his 
last hour he showed himself more than ordinarily 
susceptible of feminine influence. It is also to be ob- 
served that the successive passions, which stirred him 
In his earlier time, were virtuous attachments. His 
desire was to marry the young woman, from whose 
thraldom he was rescued in his twenty-fourth year 
by Alexander Hamilton's fortunate intervention. The 
girl whom he would fain have won and appears to 
have wooed ineffectually at St. Omer in 1784 (his 
twenty-sixth year), was an English clergyman's 
daughter, of good family and connections. Though 
Southey may have been justified in suggesting 
that the suitor in this affair would have been more 
persistent, had his passion been so lively as to 
render him indifferent to prudential considerations, 
the affair was at least significant of the young man's 


friendly disposition to the gentler sex. Whilst cruis- 
ing in the Leeward Islands, from March 1784 to 
March 1787 (from his twenty-sixtli to his thirtieth 
year) the young captain lived under the influence of 
virtuous gentlewomen, first under the gentle sway 
of Mrs. Moutray, whom he regarded as a woman his 
favourite sister would do well to imitate in all things, 
and then under the even more delightful dominion of 
the two ladies of President Herbert's household, one of 
whom became his wife when he was twenty-nine 
years of age. 

That he married Fanny Nisbet (some six years his 
junior) for love, and lived happily with her on nar- 
row means, whilst he was waiting in England for 
another ship from December 1787 to January 1793, is 
certain. The letters he wrote to her from the Medi- 
terranean afford abundant evidence that he regarded 
her tenderly and loyally, long after the time to which 
the birth of his passion for Lady Hamilton has been 
assigned by successive biographers. During his first 
stay at Naples (in 17 93), though necessarily observant 
of her personal charms, and delighted by her frank 
and hearty bearing, Nelson regarded Lady Hamilton 
without perilous enthusiasm as ; a young woman of 
amiable manners, who did honour to the station to 
which she had been raised/ and who had laid him 
and his wife under a considerable obligation by her 
c wonderful kindness and goodness to Josiah/ 

Whilst he was under surgical and medical treat- 
ment in England, from an early day of September 
1797 to the 1st of April of 1798, he found in his 
Fanny the dear wife, from whose love his heart had 


never strayed, since he bade her ' fare- well ' in the 
January of 1793. Even to the midsummer of 1798, 
Lady Hamilton was nothing more to him than the 
very charming young woman, who had been kind to 
him and good to his wife's boy, in the autumn of '93. 
The case, no doubt, was different from the first day 
after his return to Naples in the September of 1798. 
As he sailed in the Vanguard from Egypt to the 
Sicily, after fortune and his own rare valour and sea- 
manlike genius had made him the most glorious 
Admiral of Britain's navy, he thought gratefully of 
Sir William Hamilton's lovely wife, as the woman 
who had helped him to water and victual his ships 
at Syracuse, and to start with the greatest possible 
expedition on his second search for Buonaparte's fleet. 
The emotional vehemence, with which she embraced 
him and wetted his furrowed cheeks with her tears 
at their re-union on board the Vanguard, must have 
affected him deeply for many a day after thfe out- 
break of womanly agitation and tenderness, and may 
be presumed to have influenced in various ways his 
subsequent demeanour towards her. It should be re- 
membered that this equally passionate and subduing 
welcome was accorded to her hero by Lady Hamilton 
in the presence, and to the manifest approval, of her 
own husband, a fact, that may well have disposed 
Nelson to take the most generous and unsuspicious 
view of her subsequent exhibitions of affectionate 
concern for him. It was also from Sir William Hamil- 
ton's own lips that Nelson learnt, how she fell sense- 
less from too violent joy on receiving too abruptly 
the news of his glorious victory. Thus schooled and 


encouraged by Sir William Hamilton to view without 
alarm or sinister apprehension the vehement emotion- 
ality, that would otherwise hare astonished and 
troubled him, it is not wonderful that the hero attri- 
buted the lady's undisguised idolatry of his merits 
to the innocent fervour and frankness of an excep- 
tionally enthusiastic nature. In justice to Lady 
Hamilton it should be also believed, that at least for 
many months after Nelson's return to Italy, possibly 
almost to the hour of her husband's official connection 
with the Two Sicilies, she was animated by no re- 
prehensible motive in paying Nelson the attentions, 
which even before the end of September was a 
chief cause of Josiah Nisbet's unmannerly outbreak 
against his step-father, and soon afterwards gave rise 
to scandalous rumours throughout the squadron. 

By naval officers, unfamiliar with Lady Hamilton's 
peculiarities her ' charming naturalness ' and habit- 
ual demonstrativeness of approval to new friends and 
slight acquaintances the attentions, which appeared 
innocent and 6 perfectly natural ' to Miss Knight, may 
well have been regarded as significant of mischief and 
wickedness. In thus regarding them, the gentlemen 
of the British ships were necessarily influenced by the 
reputation of the woman, who had been Sir William 
Hamilton's mistress. They cannot be blamed for 
judging unfairly and too hastily the celebrated 
Beauty, stories of whose * former dissolute life * (to 
use Mrs. Trench's expression) were current every- 
where. But they would have been less quick to 
condemn her demeanour to the Admiral, had they 
been as well qualified as Miss Knight to regard it 


charitably. On the other hand, they would have 
been slower to think their Admiral over head and 
ears in love with the Patroness of the Navy, and to 
laugh at the suggestion that his manifest liking for 
her might be platonic, had they known how some 
twelve or thirteen years since he used to worship 
Mrs. Moutray. In like manner, had they known how 
whilst cruising about the Leeward Islands he used 
to run into Antigua and Nevis for social intercourse 
with his friends in those islands, the gentlemen of the 
navy would in 1799 and 1800 have been better quali- 
fied to take a just view of his occasional and brief 
visits to the Hamiltons at Palermo. 

There can be no question that, from the first hour 
of his visit to Naples in September 1798, Nelson 
showed a strong liking and admiration for Lady 
Hamilton. The manner of the seaman, guileless by 
nature and little given to concealment, showed he 
was charmed by her. But to say of him, as Southey 
does, that he was infatuated by the woman, who 
never lured or tried to lure him into negligence of 
his duty to his King and country, is to be libellous. 
It would have been strange had he not admired and 
delighted in her. For though she had in September 
1798 survived the brief perfection of her personal 
charms, she was still a singularly beautiful creature. 
She had fattened so as to lose much of her earlier grace 
and shapeliness, but hers was a form to endure con- 
siderable disfigurement from such a cause and yet 
remain greatly attractive. In all its features her 
countenance was a memorable type of the kind of 
feminine beauty, that accepts most graciously the 


enlargement of embonpoint. In truth, to a few connois- 
seurs of womanly attractiveness she had in some respects 
been improved by what had so greatly diminished her 
former elegance and delicate winsomeness. Younger 
than Nelson by something over four years, she was 
in her early middle-age a superb example of the kind 
of beauty, that was known to be especially fascinating 
to the Prince of Wales. At Dresden, in 1800, Mr. 
Elliot predicted that she would captivate the prince, 
and so play a great part in England. Her singing 
was as good as it had ever been. Her famous ' atti- 
tudes ' at this period of her career are admitted, even 
by the hypercritical and censorious Mrs. Trench, to 
have been c a beautiful performance, amusing to the 
most ignorant, and highly interesting to lovers of 
art.' To Nelson, ever more apt at listening than 
talking to women, the frank, cheery, cordial, piquant 
gossip of the beautiful woman was in the highest 
degree diverting and animating. Sometimes racily 
clever, never brainless, it satisfied the Admiral's robust 
intellect in his hours of relaxation. To a man so re- 
markable for sincerity and simplicity, the charming 
naturalness and candour of her small talk were de- 
lightful. Though she was capable of artifice, and 
occasionally in her later time of deliberate and un- 
qualified falsehood. Lady Hamilton was still in the 
main the same frank, outspoken, indiscreetly com- 
municative creature she had ever been. Observing 
how, in her practice of putting into words whatever 
was uppermost in her mind, she so often revealed 
what a woman of ordinary caution would have been 
at great pains to conceal, he conceived her to be 


genuine and guileless. Observing the kindliness with 
which she spoke of other people, he credited her with 
amiability, which he did not greatly exaggerate. 
Finding so much to approve and admire in the AVO- 
man, who admired him, and had a claim on his grati- 
tude, he naturally delighted in her society. All his 
reasons for liking her were reasons why the former 
worshipper of the unimpeachably virtuous Mrs. Mou- 
tray desired to worship Ernma Hamilton, and enjoy 
her friendship in the same platonic way. 

It should also be borne in mind that, whilst re- 
garding Lady Hamilton with cordial admiration, 
Nelson cherished a similar sentiment for her husband. 
Whilst Nelson's letters afford abundant evidence that 
he respected the Minister for his attainments, and 
found him a most congenial companion, Sir William 
Hamilton's letters yield conclusive testimony that he 
was not surpassed by his wife in enthusiastic idolatry 
of the naval hero. Combining to worship him, the 
minister and his wife were the equal sharers of the 
affectionate regard with which Nelson repaid their 
demonstrations of friendship. On hearing of the 
Earl's illness, Nelson wrote to Lord St. Vincent from 
Palermo on the 12th of June, 1799 : < Let me entreat 

you to come to us If you are sick, I will fag 

for you, and our dear Lady Hamilton will nurse you 
with the most affectionate attention. Good Sir 
William will make you laugh with his wit and inex- 
haustible pleasantry ; we all love you ; come, then, 
to your sincere friends.' It was thus, at least, for a 
considerable period, that the husband and wife were 
associated by Nelson as the two objects and equal 


sharers of the one affection he had for them. That 
he thought Sir William's 'wit and inexhaustible 
pleasantry' "would tend to restore the Commander-in- 
chief to health, shows how greatly Nelson enjoyed them. 
Another consideration, which cannot have failed to 
dispose Nelson to like Lady Hamilton's husband, was 
that the Minister had recognised his heroism before 
he won his place amongst the world's acknowledged 
heroes. After winning his peerage, the conqueror 
of the Nile found many worshippers. But Sir Wil- 
liam Hamilton had predicted his future greatness 
before it was achieved, and predicting had honoured 
it. Lodging him in the apartment that had been 
prepared for a prince, he had declared in '93 that 
Captain Nelson of the Agamemnon would * one day 
astonish the world,' and c become the greatest man 
that ever England produced.' Coming from such a 
man as Sir William Hamilton, the flattering prophecy 
bedded itself and turned to gratitude in the heart of 
Nelson, still an undistinguished man. Of course, 
readers know how much policy and diplomatic de- 
sign had to do with Sir William Hamilton's gracious- 
ness to Captain Nelson in '93 ; but it was not in 
Nelson's generous and grateful nature to take account 
of the design, or even to suspect it It was enough 
for him to remember that Sir William had befriended 
and applauded him, when he had few friends and no 
title to applause. Eemembering this of Sir William 
Hamilton, Nelson loved him for it. Thus the minister 
and the naval hero became friends, and in 1798 were 
friends in no common sense of the word. 

Forgetting for the moment that these two men 


were cordially sympathetic and strongly attached 
friends, that Nelson held to old-world sentiments of 
honour, and that he was averse to ordinary liber- 
tinism, the biographers who insist that he threw him- 
self precipitately into a vicious liaison with Lady 
Hamilton, and was infatuated by his love of her from 
the September of '98, or even from the September 
of '93, overlook also that he was an earnestly religious 
man, thinking of the Deity very much as the seven- 
teenth-century puritans thought of the Creator and 
Buler of the Universe. Though in moments of ex- 
citement he used to rattle forth an idle storm of oaths 
in sailor-like fashion, Nelson was at every stage of 
his career a devout and prayerful man. The courage, 
which Buonaparte drew from belief in fate and his 
star, came to Nelson from a simple and unwavering 
belief in the omnipresence of the ever watchful God 
Almighty, who, using his creatures for wise and 
merciful ends, punished for their misdeeds, and regard- 
ed them favourably in proportion to their righteous- 
ness. On the eve of battle he used to fall on his knees 
and entreat God to guard him in the coming perils, 
and give him the victory. If he came unscathed 
out of the fray, he attributed the escape to the bene- 
ficence of the personal God who, with an omnipotent 
right hand, had changed the course of deadly missiles 
or kept him out of their way. When his ship 
was shattered and his fleet driven to confusion 
by the wide-sweeping hurricane, he regarded the 
storm as the rod with which the Almighty had chas- 
tised his insolence. He had no sooner fought the 
glorious fight of AbouMr than he called upon his 


sea-mates to join Mm in returning thanks to God, who 
had given them the victory. Was a man of this sort 
likely to violate his most solemn notions of right on 
the first temptation to error, and to join lightly in a 
guilty league with his friend's wife, because she 
smiled upon him and proclaimed him her supreme 
hero f 

My opinion, held as strongly as a reasonable opinion 
may be held in the absence of conclusive evidence, 
is that the incident, that resulted in Horatia's birth, 
was preceded in the course of Nelson's friendship for 
Lady Hamilton by no similar occurrence. The reader 
should believe that until this lamentable misadven- 
ture, and also for a considerable period after their 
deviation from the way of virtue, the friendship of the 
famous and almost faultless man for the celebrated 
and far from faultless woman was what is ordinarily 
called a platonic attachment. 

Though she was little given to despondency, 
and anticipated pleasure from the trip, it is not sur- 
prising that Lady Hamilton came on board the 
Foudroyant and passed the first days of the excur- 
sion in low spirits. She had cause for dejection. 
Her husband had just ceased to be British Minister 
at the court, where she had now for so long a 
term played a brilliant part. The future could 
scarcely afford her a time of triumph, so flattering to 
her pride and fruitful of enjoyments as the passage 
of her career, to which his recall would soon put an. 
end. On leaving Italy she would separate, probably 
for ever, from numerous friends who were dear to 
her. No longer a queen's darling and daily associate, 


she would no longer be the delight and admiration 
of a royal circle, The joys that were passing from 
her could not be followed by equal pleasures, and 
possibly might not soon be replaced by moderate 
contentment. Old things were passing from her, 
and the new might yield her only sadness. In Eng- 
land she might be received with coldness, might 
even be avoided and shinned, through the influence 
of her enemies, whom she knew to be numerous, 
though she had been at so much pains to make 
friends of all sorts and conditions of men. Whilst 
things around her were thus changing, she thought 
of the change in herself. Though every mirror told 
her she was still beautiful, her former beauty had 
passed from her. How long would her present 
beauty last ? By what would it be succeeded ? In 
a few years her failing husband would be dead ; and 
then, a few years later, she who had so long been the 
brightest beauty of a court, might be leading a stupid 
and uneventful existence, with waning charms and 
few admirers, on a narrow income. The gloomiest 
feature of the near prospect was that she and Nel- 
son, must part. Possibly in a few weeks, certainly in 
a few months, she and he would be going different 
ways. He in the pursuit of glory would be winning 
honours in which his wife would participate, whilst 
Sir William Hamilton's widow would be falling out 
of ih world's view. To think thus was the bitter- 
ness of despair to the woman of pleasure ; for by 
this time, if Nelson's regard for her was nothing 
more than tender friendship, her regard for him was 


The woman, who had for years lived joyously in 
the present, may well have lost her usual gaiety, 
when events compelled her to think thus of the fu- 
ture. To dispel the dejection which possessed her 
friend, Miss Cornelia Knight wrote the song that a 
few hours later was sung at the Admiral's dinner- 
table : 

4 Come, cheer up, fair Emma ! forget all thy grief, 
For thy shipmates are brave, and a Hero's their chief. 
Look round on these trophies, the pride of the main ; 
They were snatched by their valour from Gallia and Spain, 
Behold yonder fragment : 'tis sacred to fame ; 
Midst the waves of old Mle it was sav'd from the flame 
The flame that destroyed the new glories of Prance, 
When Providence vanquished the friends of blind Chance. 
Those arms the San Joseph once claimed as their own, 
Ere Nelson and Britons her pride had o'erthrown. 
That plume, too, evinces that still they excel 
It was torn from the cap of the famed William Tell 
Then cheer up, fair Emma ! remember thou'rt free, 
And ploughing Britannia's old empire, the sea, 
How many in Albion each sorrow would check, 
Could they kiss but one plank of this conquering deck.' 

The trophies alluded to in the verses were the 
carving in wood of the feathers taken from the cap 
of the figure-head of the Guillawne Tell> four muskets 
taken from the San Joseph, and the flag-staff of 
E Orient, that were the chief ornaments of the Foudro- 
yant's ^tate cabin, which was well-provided with new 
books of belle lettres and magazines sent out to her 
husband by Lady Nelson. 

Whilst Miss Knight was composing this song, to 
be sung on the thirty-seventh anniversary of fair 
Emma's birthday, Nelson may be conceived to have 
troubled himself not a little with thinking what he 
could do to rescue his deax Lady Hamilton from the 


grip of sorrow. The more than ordinary tenderness, 
with which her manifest dejection caused him to 
think of her, may hare been one of the forces that 
rendered him the prey and victim of the sudden and 
irresistible impulse of Passion, that was followed by 
the birth of Horatia at some hour between the begin- 
ning of the 29th and the close of the 31st of January, 

If the passion, which occasioned this incident, 
operated under all circumstances with the same force 
and intensity in all human beings, and if all creatures 
of human Hnd were endowed with one uniform and 
known power of resisting it, we might by careful 
examination of circumstances be able to state in a 
large number of cases the degree in which a person 
is culpable and deserving of reprobation, for yielding 
to an impulse to break the seventh commandment. 
As it is, one can do little more than say confidently 
that, whilst in the greater majority of cases the mis- 
doer yields with greater or less reluctance or readiness 
to a power, with which he might and therefore should 
have battled successfully, there is a minority of cases 
in which the wanderer from the right path is no 
more accountable for his error than the wretched 
man who in madness slays himself, or the miserable 
mother who, in puerperal phrensy, Mils her own infant, 
Burns wrote wisely and well, 

* Who made the heart, 'tis He alone 

Decidedly can try us ; 
He knows each chord, its various tone 

Each spring, its various bias. 
Then at the balance le,t's be mute, 

We never can adjust it. 
What's cfone we partly can compute, 

But know not what's resisted. 7 


Few fair though severe judges of Nelson's violation 
of a sacred law will hesitate in saying it was an 
offence, surrounded with extenuating circumstances, 
that, whilst pointing to the vehemence of the assault 
to which he succumbed, must have reduced beneath 
the normal standard his power of resisting the fiercest 
and most unruly of passions. 

Whilst his character and whole story declare that, 
in respect to this affair, he should not be judged as 
one might fairly judge an ordinary worldling and 
pleasure-seeker, the known facts of his position 
towards his own wife on the one hand, and towards 
Lady Hamilton on the other hand, proclaim that at 
the worst his first error was a mere momentary frailty. 
With the exception of the few months which he 
passed in her society in 1797 8, the sailor had in 
the April of 1800 been absent from his wife for more 
than seven years. Absence is said to make the heart 
grow fonder ; and there is no evidence that it had 
not quickened and strengthened Nelson's affection 
for his wife. But the length of the absence is to be 
pondered by those who would view Nelson rightly in 
respect to this regrettable business. The longperiod 
had, moreover, been passed by him in a series of 
labours and perilous exploits, each of which had 
occasioned him the intensest excitement. The strict 
domestic orderliness, that may be fairly looked for In a 
man who lives habitually in a tranquil home with a 
congenial mate, is not to be demanded of the man 
who, at the period of life when the physical energies 
are usually at their fulness, passes his time year afteir 
year in laborious and intensely agitating services, 


far away from the shrine of his familiar affections. 

In the April of 1800, Nelson had during the pre- 
vious year-and-half seen much of Lady Hamilton, 
and throughout that time his brotherly liking for 
the woman, to whom he deemed himself under great 
obligations, had steadily increased. Admiring her 
beauty and delighting in her conversation, he had 
studied her character and satisfied himself that she 
was a woman of good sense and generous nature, 
who had several strong claims to his confidence and 
affection. She had worked for him with her brain 
and pen. Lightening his labours and lessening his 
anxieties, she had more than once nursed him when 
he was sick. During the several weeks of their 
residence on board the Foudroyant in Naples Bay, 
the silent admirer of womankind, who from his youth 
had been finely susceptible of feminine influence, 
may well have felt tenderly for the woman with 
whom he found himself so closely and strangely 
associated. And now, whilst himself thinking sadly 
of their approaching severance, and of the proba- 
bility that they would pass away from one another, 
and remain apart till a French shot should end his 
Hfe, he found the hitherto bright and joyous creature 
subdued to sadness by corresponding thought. What 
wonder that out of this sympathy there arose cur- 
rents of tempestuous emotion, which neither she nor 
he could for the moment either resist or escape from ? 

When a man of principle and honour is tempted 
to act towards another man's wife as Nelson acted 
ia the spring of 1800 towards Lady Hamilt^a, his 
power to resist the temptation is usually increased 


by thought for the injury his action may do the 
woman's character, by regard for the dishonour it 
may do her husband, by care for the shame it may 
put on her existing children, and by concern for the 
discredit it may cast over the family that gave her 
birth. Whilst t\ro of these considerations were neces- 
sarily in no high degree operative on Nelson, the other 
two cannot have affected him in any great degree. 
Lady Hamilton came of no family, whose social dignity 
and credit could be lowered by her conduct. Though 
she had children, or at least had given birth to 
children, Nelson as it will soon appear from a letter 
he wrote her in 1801 was unaware of the fact. 
The social discredit that could under any circum- 
stances accrue to Sir William Hamilton from the 
infidelity of the wife, who had formerly been his 
mistress, would be small. Any injury that would 
ensue to the reputation of a woman of Lady Hamil- 
ton's notorious career from another scandalous error 
would be scarcely appreciable. 

Hence, whilst the temptation to which Nelson suc- 
cumbed was exceptionally strong, he was unsustain- 
ed by the considerations that would have aided him 
to combat it, had Lady Hamilton's domestic story 
and personal antecedents accorded with the social 
place to which she had risen. I am not arguing thdft 
there was nothing to reprehend or regret in Nelson's 
momentary submission to an overpowering impulse 
of passion. There was something in the affair to 
blame, and very much to deplore. But to apply 
harsh epithets to the transient weakness and momen- 
tary error is to be wanting in historic discretion and 


human justice. The connoisseur who mistakes a fly- 
fleck on a work of art for a material blemish is 
less at fault than the moral censor, who discovers 
the evidence of deep-seated depravity in the mere 
record of a generous indiscretion. 

In consequence of adverse winds and difficulty in 
threading the Straits of Messina, the Foudroyant 
made a slow passage to the port, where Nelson 
watered his ships before taking them for a second 
run to Egypt. Landing at Syracuse on the 1st of 
May, 1800, the pleasure-party spent two days on the 
sights of the ancient city, before moving onwards to 
the blockading squadron off the island, which the 
Lady of the Little Cross was glad to visit. Joining 
the squadron in the evening of the 3rd of May, they 
spent sixteen or seventeen days either on Malta or 
cruising in Maltese waters, when on the 19th or 20th 
of the same month (Pettigrew and Miss Knight 
differ as to the day) they began the return voyage, 
carrying with them pleasant memories of Captain 
Ball's dinners, and of the hospitalities lavished upon 
them at General Graham's quarters. In the last day 
of May they were back again at Palermo, whence 
Nelson was under promise to convey Maria Caroline 
and four of her children to Leghorn. 




From Palermo to Leghorn Maria Caroline and her Children at 
Leghorn Parting Gifts The Livornese in Commotion 
Across the Peninsula From Ancona to TriesteThe Tri- 
umphal Progress Rejoicings at Vienna Hospitality at 
Eisenstadt Adieu to Maria Caroline A Thousand a-Year 
Welcome to Prague From Prague to Dresden A Rebuff to 
Lady Hamilton A Menace to the Elector Lady Hamilton's 
indiscreet Talkativeness The Departure from Dresden The 
Hamiltons amuse themselves Waiting at Hamburgh The 
Landing at Great Yarmouth Nelson in his Native County 
To London via Ipswich Dispersion of the Party The 
Meeting at Nerot's Hotel Ungenerous Reflections on Lady 
Nelson Lady Nelson's Regard for Lady Hamilton Lady 
Hamilton's Reputation in England Scene at the Theatre 
Social Opinion and Tattle Sympathy with Lady Nelson 
Contention at Nerot's Hotel Miss Knight is urged to with- 
draw from Lady Hamilton. 

1800 A.D. 

IN performance of the promise mentioned at the 
close of the last chapter, Nelson sailed from Palermo 
for Leghorn on the 9th of June in the Foudroyant^ 
having on board the Queen, her three daughters, her 
json the Prince Leopold, Sir; William and Lady Hamil- 
ton, the Prince Castelcicala, Miss Knight, and a 
numerous suite. Suffering so much in health at this 
time, that he wrote of his being in bed four days out 
of seven, Nelson landed with his friends and their 


attendants at Leghorn on the 16th, after passing 
more than six hours outside the harbour in a stormy 
sea. On coming to shore the Queen of Naples and her 
family, after visiting the cathedral, went to the 
palace, where they were provided with apartments, 
which they occupied during the next four weeks. 

That Maria Caroline expected Nelson and the 
Hamiltons to leave her soon after her arrival at Leg- 
horn appears from the gifts, designed for farewell 
souvenirs, which she gave them on, or within a few 
days of, the 16th of June, a jewelled portrait of King 
Ferdinand to Nelson; a gold snuff-box, set with 
jewels and ornamented with pictures of the donor 
and her husband to Sir William Hamilton ; and a 
diamond necklace to Lady Hamilton. But, whilst 
Maria Caroline's movements were uncertain, Nelson 
and the Hamiltons though set on re- visiting England 
had not definitely arranged their plans for the jour- 
ney. To this state of indecision a period was even- 
tually put by circumstances, that determined the 
Queen to carry out her project of going to Vienna, 
and decided Nelson and the Hamiltons to accompany 
her thither. 

Their stay at Leghorn closed with a curious popu- 
lar commotion, that is described in Harrison's c Life 
of Nelson/ Fretting and fuming at the approach of 
the French, now no more than four-and-twenty miles 
distant, the Livornese seized their arms and sur- 
rounded the palace, with a wild notion of securing 
the persons of the royal travellers, and compelling 
Nelson to lead them against the approaching enemy. 
To assuage the tumult* Lady Hamilton addressed the 


multitude from a balcony of the palace in a speech 
that, delivered in the orator's most theatrical style and 
best Italian, effected its purpose. Reproving the 
rioters for the display of violence, that was an insult 
to an amiable Queen and a frivolous impertinence to 
the British Admiral, the speaker declared that the 
great Nelson would not condescend to confer with 
such turbulent petitioners, until they should prove 
the honesty of their feelings by restoring their arms 
to the public arsenal. To people with weapons in 
their hands and threats on their lips, the Admiral 
would not speak a word in the way of friendliness. 
The address having the desired efiect on the crowd, 
Maria Caroline and her party availed themselves of 
the opportunity to withdraw from the palace and 
retire to the British war- ship Alexander, to which 
Nelson had moved from the Foudroyant, when the 
latter ship was ordered to Minorca to re-fit. 

Passing the night on the Alexander, Maria Caroline 
re-landed on the following day (the 17th of July) y 
when she lost no time in setting out for Florence 
and Ancona Nelson (who had struck his flag on the 
llth) and the Hamiltons, with Mrs. Cadogan and 
Miss Knight, being in her suite. From Leghorn to 
Vienna the journey, which thus began in what might 
be almost called a flight, was a triumphal progress. 
Wildly applauded by the populace of every town 
and hamlet through which they passed, the travellers 
were feted sumptuously at every place where they 
rested. Taking to the sea at Ancona, they landed at 
Trieste on the 2nd of August, 1800. At Vienna, 
where Maria Caroline's dearest Emma was presented 


by Lady Minto, the British. Ambassador's wife, to 
their Imperial Majesties, Nelson and his friends were 
received by the Court and populace with extravagant 
enthusiasm, and carried into a whirl of gaieties and 
pompous festivities, that were no less exhilarating- to 
the hero and Lady Hamilton than exhausting and 
hurtful to Sir William Hamilton's health. During 
the four days of their splendid entertainment at 
Eisenstadt by the Prince and Princess Esterhazy, the 
triumphal tourists feasted daily at a table where a 
hundred grenadiers, the shortest of whom was six 
feet high, acted as servitors. The concerts and balls 
equalled the dinners in cost and effectiveness. One 
of the four concerts was directed by Haydn, and at 
another of them the Prince's famous Maestro di 
Capella is said to have produced his oratorio of * The 
Creation/ The hospitalities of Eisenstadt were 
scarcely more elaborate and magnificent than the 
festivities to which the Archduke Albert invited the 
Yictor of Aboukir. Count Batthyany's contribution 
to the series of Nelson celebrations was the aquatic 
fete on the Danube, with its experiments of vessels 
especially constructed to resist the torrents of the 
mighty river. Whilst princes and nobles thus vied 
with one another in glorifying the trio of travellers, 
the Jew banker, Arnstein, surpassed the men of 
ancestral dignity by the splendour and prodigality of 
his tribute of homage to the glorious Admiral. 

On the questionable authority of Lady Hamilton it 
has been recorded in various ways how, at the close 
of her stay at Vienna (which came to an end on the 
of September, 1800) she declined the annuity of 


a thousand pounds for life, which Maria pressed upon 
her as a modest acknowledgment of her eminent 
exertions for the cause of order and wholesome 
government in Europe. Dr. Pettigrew asks his 
readers to believe that Maria Caroline put into 
Lady Hamilton's ' hands a paper, saying it was 
a conveyance of 1,000 per annum that she had 
fixed to invest for her in the hands of Friez, of 
the Government Bank at Vienna, lest by any possi- 
bility she should not be suitably compensated for the 
services she had rendered, the money she had gener- 
ously expended, and the losses she had so voluntarily 
sustained for the British nation ' and Italy, Readers 
are further requested by Pettigrew (vide 'Life of 
Nelson,' vol. ii, p. 621) to believe, that Lady Hamilton 
* declined the gift, and destroyed the instrument con- 
ferring it, saying, England was ever just, and to her 
faithful servants generous, and that she shouldf eel it un- 
becoming to her own beloved and magnanimous sove- 
reign to accept of meed or reward from any other hand/ 
Whilst the biographer's diction touching this mat- 
ter bears a suspicious resemblance to the language in 
which poor Lady Hamilton used, in her later time, to 
talk for a pension, the conduct attributed to the mag- 
nanimous lady is curiously unlike what she might be 
presumed to have done under the stated circum- 
stances. As she had received without any show of 
reluctance gift after gift from the Queen diamond 
necklaces, gold chains, carriage-loads of dresses, gifts 
to the value of five or six thousand pounds it is 
rather strange that she scrupled to take the annuity. 
After taking so much in things easily convertible into* 


money, without feeling she compromised her own 
sovereign's dignity and her own country's reputation 
by taking so much from a foreign Queen, how came 
she all of a sudden to discover that, as a British 
Minister's wife, she could not take the annuity 
from Her Majesty of Naples. As she knew that, 
instead of losing much through the recent troubles in 
Italy, Lady Hamilton was one of the very few per- 
sons to whom those troubles had been greatly profit- 
able, Maria Caroline was not likely to offer her the 
annuity by way of just and suitable compensation for 
losses and moneys generously paid out of pocket. 
There was no reason for the Queen to make' the gift, 
after already rewarding her friend's * services' so 
liberally. Eeaders may rest assured that it never 
entered the Queen's head to offer the annuity ; that, 
if the annuity had been offered, Lady Hamilton would 
have accepted it with alacrity; and that the paper of 
conveyance, about which Dr. Pettigrew writes so 
curiously, has no place amongst historic evidences, 
for the simple reason that it never existed. 

Leaving Vienna on the 27th of September, 1800, 
the travellers came on the following day to Prague, 
where they were received with attentions that accord- 
ed with the civilities lavished upon them at Vienna. 
From Prague they went to Lowositz, whence they 
journeyed by the Elbe to Dresden, where they arriv- 
ed on the 2nd of October and took up their quarters at 
the Hdtai da Pok>gne till the 10th, when, on receiving 
false intelligence that a frigate was awaiting them at 
Hamburg, flbey resumed the passage by water to that 
port, to which they came on the 21st of the month. 


Though she was cordially welcomed to Dresden 
by Mr. Elliot (the British minister) and his wife, 
whose influence was successfully exercised for her 
advantage with the several persons of eminence. 
Lady Hamilton endured a slight at that capital for 
which she was in no degree prepared after the 
courtesies that had been lavished upon her by their 
Imperial Majesties at Vienna. To an intimation of 
Lady Hamilton's desire to be admitted to her pre- 
sence, the Electress replied with a significant expres- 
sion of regret that the arrangements of her court 
denied her the pleasure of seeing the lady of whom, 
she had heard so much. * Sir/ Nelson is reported to 
have said to Mr. Elliot, on hearing of the Electress's 
disinclination to receive Sir William Hamilton's wife, 
' if there is any difficulty of that sort, Lady Hamilton 
will knock the Elector down,' a menace (recorded 
by Mrs. Trench*) that was not likely to operate bene- 
ficially for the English lady, on being reported to 
the Electress, who, whilst thus jealous for her *own 
and her court's honour, availed herself of a pretext, 
that rendered the refusal as little offensive as possible 
to Nelson's friends. It was probably in conversation 
arising out of this humiliating rebuff, that Lady 
Hamilton with characteristic frankness spoke to Mrs. 
Trench of her fear that the Queen of England might 
persist in her resolve to exclude her from St. James's. 
After conferring with Mrs. Trench [Mrs. St. George] 
on this delicate question, Lady Hamilton, touching on 

* In 1800 this lady was styled Mrs. St. George, the name she 
acquired by her first marriage, though she is ttsually spoken of in 
this book as Mrs. Trench, the name by which she is best known 
to readers. 


another delicate matter, remarked, <I care little about it. 
I bad much rather she would settle half Sir William's 
pension on me/ That Lady Hamilton was capable 
of gossiping in this fashion on two such delicate mat- 
ters to so recent and casual an acquaintance, shows 
how greatly she was misunderstood by those who 
have regarded her as belonging to a common kind of 
artful and designing women. 

On hearing from Mr. Elliot that an English frigate 
was awaiting them at Hamburg, Nelson and his party 
lost no time in re-embarking and starting for that port. 
From the Minister who attended them to the river and 
saw them off, Mrs. Trench received the particulars of 
her comical account of the departure of the celebrated 
voyagers. * The moment they were on board,' says 
Mrs. Trench, whose prevailing notion of the glorious 
admiral, the famous beauty, and her scholarly husband 
was that they were inexpressibly grotesque and 
ludicrous persons, 6 there was an end of the fine arts, 
of the attitudes, of the acting, the dancing, and the 
singing. Lady Hamilton's maid began to scold in 
French about some provisions which had been forgot, 
in language quite impossible to repeat, using certain 
French words which were never spoken but by men 
of the lowest class, and roaring them out from one 
boat to another. Lady Hamilton began bawling for 
an Irish stew, and her old mother set about washing 
the potatoes, which she did as cleverly as possible. 
They were exactly like Hogarth's actresses dressing 
in a barn.' It can be conceived what droll things 
Mr. Elliot, a perfect type of official decorum and con- 
ventional good-breeding, told of his last hour with 


these queer people, of Miss Knight, who was no- 
thing better than Lady Hamilton's obsequious com- 
pagnon de voyage ; of Dame Cadogan, who was just 
what Lady Hamilton's mother might be expected to 
be ; of the over-fed Beauty who dressed so ill, talked 
so loudly, and drank sparkling wine so freely ; of the 
old diplomatist, who had in his dotage linked himself 
to so strange a specimen of a waddling enchantress; 
and of the one-armed sailor, who had spoken proudly 
of Lady Hamilton's ability to strike the Elector to 
the ground. One can imagine the plaintive and de- 
precatory tone, in which the equally fastidious and 
humorous Mr. Elliot remarked after each of the 
piquant anecdotes, 'Now don't let us laugh to-night ; 
let us all speak in turn, and be very, very quiet.' It 
is thus that people of the best society and conven- 
tional good-breeding make fun of their casual 
acquaintances who are not in society, and whose 
manners want the self-control and other virtuous pecu- 
liarities of conventional good style. 

Finding no frigate at Hamburg ready to waft 
them to the Thames, Nelson and his companions re- 
mained there some ten days, feted and caressed by 
merchants and bankers, who deemed themselves great- 
ly fortunate in having the illustrious visitors so long 
upon their hands. Whilst the municipal authorities 
and the several subordinate corporations of the mer- 
cantile city vied with one another in hospitable pro- 
fuseness, individuals hit on eccentric ways of showing 
their enthusiasm for the strangers. One of the great 
wine-merchants of the port approached Lady Hamil- 
ton with a petition, that she would induce the glori- 


one Nelson to glorify him by accepting at liis hands 
six dozen bottles of a marvellous Rhine wine, as old 
as the year in which James the First of England had 
died. Nelson consented to accept six bottles of the 
ancient vintage, on condition that the donor dined with, 
him on the morrow, and helped him. to drink them. 
Another petitioner, the pastor of a village some forty 
miles away, was dismissed after obtaining his request, 
the autograph signature that Nelson was entreated 
to put on the fly-leaf of the Bible, which the pious 
applicant had for that purpose brought with him from 
his parish. 

The hoped-for frigate still failing to appear, the 
Admiral and his party eventually left Hamburg by 
the King George mail-packet, that, putting to sea on 
the 31st of October, brought the voyagers over 
stormy waters into Great Yarmouth harbour on the 
6th of November. There is no need to tell again how 
Great Yarmouth rejoiced at the visit thus paid them 
by the most celebrated of living Norfolk men ; how 
the Admiral's carriage was drawn by vociferous 
fishermen from the harbour to the ' Wrestlers' Inn ;' 
how the ships in the harbour showed their joy at his 
arrival by sending aloft their festal flags ; how the 
Mayor and Corporation hastened to their glorious 
guest and made him free of the town ; how the troops, 
regulars and volunteers, turned out in their pig-tails 
and pipe-clay, and paraded before ' The Wrestlers ' 
with, a fitting power of lifers and drummers ; how the 
hero went to church, to thank God Almighty for 
bringing him safe back to 'Old England'; how on 
leaving church he visited sick seamen in the hospital ; 


how at night the whole town went into illumination, 
whilst the two adjacent counties, near and far, blazed 
out into bonfires ; how on the morrow the hero of the 
seas began under an escort of volunteer-cavalry the 
journey to London via Ipswich, that was one long 
triumphal progress from the port at which he landed 
almost to the very threshold of Nerot's Hotel, King's 
Street, St. James's, where his old father and his wife 
gave him greeting. 

Holding together till the 9th of November, on 
which day they came to London, the fellow-travellers 
from Italy dispersed soon after reaching the capital, 
Sir William and Lady Hamilton finding a tempo- 
rary home in Grosvenor Square, where Mr. Beckford's 
house had been put at their service, whilst Nelson 
lived with his wife and father first at Nerot's Hotel, 
and afterwards at a lodging in Arlington Street. 
After passing two or three nights at an hotel in 
Albemarle Street, where she had Mrs. Cadogan for a 
companion, Miss Cornelia Knight became the guest 
of Mrs. Nepean. 

It has been repeatedly used as a ground of com- 
plaint against Lady Nelson that, instead of being 
ready at Yarmouth to embrace her husband at the 
moment of his landing, c she coolly waited at an 
hotel in London, and then gave him * (to use Dr. 
Pettigrew's words) * a reception which has been de- 
scribed as cold and chilling.' There is, however, no 
evidence before the world, that the wife had been 
duly forewarned of her husband's course for the Nor- 
folk sea-port. Though she had for some months 
been looking for his re-appearance in England, it is 


conceivable that, even to the last moment, she did not 
know at what port he would land, and very much 
more than probable that she travelled to London 
with her aged and infirm father-in-law, in order to 
see her husband as soon as possible. 

So late as the middle of June, and possibly to a 
later time, she had good reason for thinking that her 
husband would return from Italy by sea, in some ship 
of the Mediterranean Fleet, 'if not in the Foudroyant. 
Even to July, Nelson in the uncertainty of his 
arrangements seems to have held to his design of 
making the whole of his homeward journey by water. 
That he accompanied Maria Caroline to Vienna was 
possibly due to a resolve, formed towards the close 
of Her Majesty's sojourn at Leghorn. Throughout 
the devious tour he was far too unsettled as to the 
details of the journey, to be able to give Lady Nelson 
precise information as to the place or time of his land- 
ing in England. At Dresden he was so prepared to 
hear a frigate had been sent out, to take him and his 
friends over the sea, that he went on to Hamburg 
without a misgiving as to the arrival of the frigate. 
At Hamburg he waited for days for the expected 
vessel, which, had it appeared according to his 
expectation, would probably have taken him to the 
Thames or some other port than Yarmouth, in accord- 
ance with instructions from the Admiralty. It was 
not till he had been disappointed of the frigate, that 
he went on board the mail-packet which conveyed 
Mm to Great Yarmouth. It is therefore conceivable 
that his landing at the Norfolk port wak an incident, 
for which in time prior to the electric telegraph Lady 


Nelson was prepared by no advertisement, that would 
have enabled her to meet him there, even if she had 
wished to receive him to her embrace in the presence 
f Lady Hamilton. 

Anyhow, what is there in the facts of the case to 
justify the imputation of unwifely coldness, preferred 
against her by Dr. Pettigrew and successive writers? 
At a time when she was uninformed as to thesdetails 
of her husband's movements, and knew only that in a 
month's or two months' time he would be again in 
England, she travelled up to London under the 
reasonable impression, that by doing so she would 
put herself in the surest way for speedy re-union with 
her husband. In this respect, she acted like her 
father-in-law, the old Norfolk rector, who was strong- 
ly attached to his famous and favourite son. It has 
never been suggested that the feeble and invalid 
clergyman showed a lack of paternal affection in 
moving from Norfolk to London, and settling in a 
London hotel, so as to be there in anticipation of his 
son's coming (by unannounced route) to the capital. 
On the contrary, readers have been encouraged, or at 
least left at liberty, to regard the old man's action in 
thus coming to town, as indicative of parental solici- 
tude and tenderness. 

On other matters, Lady Nelson has been treated 
ungenerously by her husband's biographers. It has 
been urged to her discredit, that her letters were * too 
trivial and insignificant to command her husband's 
attention,' though he answered them in a way which 
proves him to have delighted in them. As though 
it were a fault for which she was accountable, some 


of the personal historians make Illiberal reflections on 
the comparative humility of her first husband's posi- 
tion. Overlooking the fact that by birth and train- 
ing she belonged to the aristocracy of the Leeward 
Islands, the disparaging annalists hint that in marry- 
ing Dr. Nisbet's -widow Captain Nelson of the Boreas 
condescended to a match, that might almost be called 
a mesalliance. According to one of these disdainful 
writers, she was in no degree worthy of being a 
hero's wife/ though a woman so c highly virtuous and 
very respectable and exceedingly ill-tempered ' was 
well enough for the sphere from which she was un- 
fortunately taken, and ' would have been exemplary 
as the spouse of a village apothecary.' In the same 
spirit much has been written of the lady's ' Creole 
blood,' as though Creoles were somehow congenitally 
predisposed to wickedness, and Creole blood were 
necessarily less pure and generous than the blood of 
Europeans not born in the West Indies. It has also 
been charged against the gentlewoman (who gave 
her first husband a son), as though it were an offence 
for which she should be held solely accountable, that 
she failed to make her hero a father. 

The time has come for cancelling these spiteful 
reflections on a woman, whose misfortunes are not 
her sole claims to sympathy, and for erasing them 
from the scroll of English biography. Let there be 
an end to malicious chatter about the Creole blood of 
a lady wlio came of a gentle English stock, and was 
none the less a gentlewoman by birth for having been 
born in the "West Indies. Till it shall be proved that 
the pure-blooded English natives of our West Indian. 


dependencies are naturally less amiable than English 
people born in England, no more should be said of 
Lady Nelson's Creole ill-temper. In the total absence of 
evidence that she was wanting in amiability, no more 
should be said of the exceeding badness of her nature. 
No longer should it be accounted to her for unrighte- 
ousness that, before making Nelson's acquaintance, 
she had been so unfortunate as to lose a husband, 
who was a member of the medical profession. If she 
was a widow when Nelson fell in love with her, it 
remains that she was a young, lovely, well-mannered, 
and well-descended widow. No more than twenty- 
two years of age when he begged her to become his 
wife, she belonged to a family that was in no respect 
inferior to Nelson's people. Even by her detractors 
it is admitted that her conduct did not misbeseem 
either her own or her second husband's ancestral 
worth. In truth, she was so exasperatingly 'virtuous * 
and * respectable ' that, on looking about for a stick 
to throw at her, they could not venture to say any- 
thing worse of her than that, under the trials arising 
from her husband's regard for Lady Hamilton, she 
showed more sensitiveness than the circumstances 
warranted, and failed in the magnanimity and senti- 
mental indifference to be looked for in c a hero's wife.' 
Apart from this alleged failure, there is literally no 
evidence that the < highly virtuous and very respect- 
able ' Lady Nelson was an * exceedingly ill-tempered 
woman.' That she was not the exceedingly ill-tem- 
pered woman we are required to think her, appears 
from the affectionate terms on which Nelson (at times 
a quick-tempered and irascible, though essentially 


generous man) lived with, her for more than five 
years at a time, from, the cordial affectionateness 
with which he spoke of and wrote to her, almost up 
to the moment of his return to England in 1800, 
and from the pleasant relations that existed between 
her and her husband's father. In truth, nothing 
would ever have been written or whispered to the 
discredit of her domestic lovableness, had not the 
biographical busybodles conceived, that disparage- 
ment of her would work to Nelson's advantage. 

Towards the close of her long sojourn in Italy, and 
during her journey to England, it was Miss Knight's 
impression that Nelson was anticipating pleasure 
from re-union with his wife. At Leghorn he remarked 
in her hearing, that he hoped during his stay in Lon- 
don he and Lady Nelson would see a great deal of 
the Hamiltons. They should, he hoped, often dine 
together, before the Hamiltons went off to their 
musical parties, just about the time when he and 
Lady Nelson would be going to bed. One of his 
last acts at Hamburg was to buy some magnificent 
lace for a court dress for his wife, and a black lace 
cloak for a lady who during his absence from Eng- 
land had been very attentive to his dear Fanny. 
The husband who thus talked of his wife, and took 
thought for her personal equipment, cannot be sup- 
posed to have resolved on separating from her 
in a short time. It is, however, certain that he re- 
turned to England without a purpose of passing any 
considerable time in her society. For he had scarcely 
touched shore at Yarmouth, when he wrote to the 
Admiralty, announcing the restoration of his health, 


and asking for immediate employment. It would 
distress him if the Lords of the Admiralty regarded 
his recent land-journey as an indication of distaste 
for the sea. But it is conceivable that, in making 
this petition for active service, he was chiefly actuated 
by a prudential feeling that under the circumstances, 
which were seldom absent from his mind, he had 
better be at a distance from Lady Hamilton. 

It is easier to imagine that Nelson's first interview 
with his wife at Nerot's Hotel was fruitful of embar- 
rassment to both of them, than to conceive that he 
discovered umvifely coldness in her absence from 
Yarmouth at the moment of his landing. Had It 
been physically possible for Lady Nelson to get to 
Yarmouth in time to see him come ashore. Nelson 
would have known she was bound to remain by the 
side of his invalid father, instead of hastening to the 
coast to greet him eight-and-forty hours sooner. 
One may be confident that no words spoken by the 
Admiral in 1800 occasioned Dr. Pettigrew's utterance 
of regret that she * was not at Yarmouth to receive 
her husband.' Nor is it probable that Nelson, know- 
ing how much more cause his wife had to receive 
him with an air of nervous distress than to fly to him 
with loving alacrity, made any complaint at the time 
of her ; cold and chilling * response to his salute. 

In truth, the husband and wife came together in 
Nerot's Hotel under afflicting conditions, that would 
have rendered a show of mutual and unqualified 
gladness a piece of mutual hypocrisy. At least two ' 
years had passed since rumours first came to "Lady 
Nelson's ears, that her husband had so far and so 


openly yielded to the fascinations of Lady Hamilton, 
as to provoke an indignant protest from his stepson. 
It is believed that Josiah Nisbet wrote to his mother 
on the painful affair in the autumn of 1798. Even if 
the young captain exercised more discretion, delicacy, 
and forbearance than are generally understood to 
have influenced him in his correspondence with his 
mother ; even if he wrote no line on the distressing 
business to her, rumour had speedily earned to her 
ears strange and harrowing accounts of her husband's 
idolatry of the dangerous woman of beauty and 
pleasure. For two years the earliest rumours had 
been followed by a stream of confirmatory rumours. 
Throughout the same two years, Lady Nelson's 
reasonable jealousy had been quick to catch agoniz- 
ing tales of the doings and talents and tastes of the 
exemplary adventuress, whose fame had for more 
than twenty years lived in drawing-rooms to which 
she was personally unknown, and would never be 
personally admitted. It was in the nature of things 
for Lady Hamilton's reputation to be even more 
scandalous than her life. Whilst strangely shameful 
things were told of her in print, worse and more 
repulsive things were reported of her in the coteries. 
How much of this gossip had come to the ears of the 
Admiral's wife it is impossible to say ; but, if she had 
gathered only a little of it, she had good cause to 
think of her lord as the admirer of a superlatively 
wicked woman. In January, 1800, the gallant and 
fine-hearted Troubridge wrote repeatedly to Lady 
Hamilton, in the hope of rendering her more circum- 
spect in her conduct, and less fruitful of scandalous 


tales that, after flitting from ship to ship throughout 
the Mediterranean fleet, found their way to England. 

Be assured (Troubridge wrote to her on the 14th of Janu- 
ary, 1800, vide Pettigrew's ' Life of Nelson/ vol. i, p. 339) 
I have not written to you from any Impertinent interference, 
but from a wish to warn you of the ideas that were going 
about, which you could not hear of, as no person can "be 
indifferent to the construction put on things which may 
appear to your Ladyship innocent, and I make no doubt, 
done with the best intention still your enemies will and do 
give things a different colouring. I will not trust to paper 
the business of the Singer, the ill-natured turn it may get 
induced me to put your Ladyship on your guard. I think it 
is gone to Pisa, and from thence to London. You may not 
know you have many enemies, I therefore risk your dis- 
pleasure by telling you. 

Who the Singer was, what the particular indis- 
cretion may have been, are matters of no moment at 
this date. The purpose for reproducing the passage 
is to show, how busy scandal and her enemies were 
with the reputation of the woman, of whom Lady 
Nelson had, during the past two years, heard far more 
than enough for her own peace of mind, and much 
that was calculated to weaken and shake her con- 
fidence in her husband's discretion and in his loyalty 
towards her. 

During the last seven months, Lady Nelson's dis- 
satisfaction with her husband's friendship for the 
Hamiltons, and her natural jealousy of Lady Hamil- 
ton, had necessarily increased. From the spring of 
the year she had been impatient for the return of her 
husband, whose health required repose and temporary 
release from the anxieties of active service. But, 
instead of hastening to England for rest and recrea- 


tion, he had lingered in the Mediterranean, when 
urgent duty no longer ordered him to remain there. 
She had heard of the trip from Palermo to Malta, and 
was aware he made it in the company of Lady 
Hamilton. On leaving Italy, he spent months on the 
tour to Vienna, Dresden, and Hamburg in the com- 
pany of the Hamiltons, instead of returning by sea to 
his wife, who was pining to see him. Lady Hamil- 
ton was by his side when he landed at Yarmouth. 
And now Lady Hamilton had travelled with him from 
Yarmouth to London. Under these circumstances, 
should it appear that she could have posted from 
Nerot's Hotel to Yarmouth in time to embrace him 
on the Norfolk coast, and that she was under no 
obligation to stay with her invalid father in town, 
few readers would blame her for determining to re- 
main where she was. She may well have thought it 
better, both for herself and her husband, that she 
should see him before meeting Lady Hamilton and 
determining what course she ought to take towards 

Having regard to the thoughts that had been 
fretting and distressing her for months, and must 
have been in her mind when he at length came to 
her presence, who can condemn Lady Nelson for 
revealing something of the trouble that possessed 
herl One might say, that it would have been to her 
discredit, had she kept her genuine feelings to herself, 
and answered his greeting without any show of 
embarrassment and constraint. As they resulted 
naturally from conditions, for which she was in no 
degree accountable, it would be most unjust to 


censure Lady Nelson for the peculiarities of the re- 
ception she accorded her husband the reception 
'which' (according to Dr. Pettigrew) 'has been 
described as " cold and chilling." ' 

Whilst Lady Nelson was necessarily ill at ease, 
Nelson cannot be supposed to have approached her 
with an untroubled conscience and unqualified de- 
light. For weeks Lady Hamilton had been regarded 
by Trim as in a state of health, that promised to result 
in the birth of a child of which he would be the 
father, and of this prospect he could not say a word 
to his wife. To have such a secret from his wife must 
have been painful and humiliating to a man of his 
natural candour and truthfulness, when he was on 
the point of introducing Lady Hamilton to her as a 
woman, worthy of her confidence and friendship. 
The interview cannot have been the less embarrass- 
ing, because he had arranged with Sir William and 
Lady Hamilton, that they should dine on the same 
day at Nerot's Hotel with his father and Lady Nel- 
son. Indeed, it might be inferred, from Miss Knight's 
words, that, on going for the first time to the hotel 
where his wife was staying, Nelson was accompanied 
by the Hamiltons. c When we arrived in town,' says 
the woman of letters in her Autobiography,' < Sir 
William and Lady Hamilton went with Lord Nelson to 
dine with Lady Nelson.' It may, however, be as- 
sumed that, before the Hamiltons went with him to 
the hotel, Nelson had seen and spoken with his wife. 
Anyhow, whether it took place under the observation 
of the Hamiltons, or was a strictly private tite-ccr-Ute 
interview, the first meeting of the Admiral and Lady 


ISfelson must necessarily liave lacked the perfect 
cordiality that would have distinguished it, had no- 
thing occurred to shake their mutual confidence. If 
Nelson suffered from her lack of warmth, she no doubt 
suffered from his reserve and uneasiness. 

As Dr. Pettigrew was the first of Nelson's biogra- 
phers to produce the conclusive evidence of the state of 
health, in which Lady Hamilton returned to London, 
he should have foreborne to speak lightly * of those 
suspicions which took possession of Lady Nelson's 
mind/ as though they were groundless or extrava- 
gant. Nor can we concur with Dr. Pettigrew in 
thinking that, in consideration of his having c raised 
her to the rank of a peeress/ Lady Nelson should 
have hastened to meet her husband at a place, where 
she would encounter the woman whom she had 
reason to regard as his mistress. Her second mar- 
riage had no doubt afforded her social advantages, 
that would have in some degree consoled her for the 
loss of his affection, had she prized wealth and rank 
more than his devotion. Removing her from narrow 
means to comparative affluence, he had raised her 
from obscurity to eminence. She had received from 
his hands gifts, that would have strengthened his title 
to her admiration and gratitude, had he persisted in 
Ms former attachment to her. But rich gifts wax 
poor when givers prove unkind. Growing worse 
than worthless through the donor's change of feel- 
ing, they may by exasperating the sense of his un- 
kindness even operate like positive injuries. It 
would have been, fortunate for Lady Nelson, had she 
been so constituted as to be capable of finding in his 


benefactions a sufficient balm for her wounded feel- 
ings. But, whilst it cannot be fairly imputed to her 
for a fault, that she was less thoughtful of her acquired 
rank than sensitive for her natural dignity, it is to 
her honour that she rated the peerage he had given 
her, as a paltry toy in comparison with the love he 
seemed to be withdrawing from her. 

In justice to Nelson it should, however, be believed 
that he had no purpose of offering her indignity. 
If the result of * the lamentable incident ? forbade 
him to think of withdrawing from his friendship with 
Lady Hamilton, he was determined that henceforth 
the attachment should be as sinless, as it had been 
before one brief passage of tempestuous emotion. 
By virtue of this resolve, still able to think of it as a 
platonic attachment, notwithstanding the short tri- 
umph of passion, he would thus describe his friend- 
ship for Lady Hamilton to his father, a representa- 
tion so truthful a man could not have made, had his 
regard for her been for the moment other than what 
he declared it to be. While nursing this resolve, he 
deemed he could honestly invite his wife to participate 
in his feeling for his friend's wife, and was confident 
that both he and Lady Hamilton could and would so 
regulate their mutual affection, that it would afford 
Lady Nelson no occasion for resentment nor cause for 

This confidence would of course have been impos- 
sible to him, had he known all the reasons Lady Nelson 
had for thinking ill of Lady Hamilton, or conceived 
how mere feminine instinct would enable the woman 
who was his wife to detect the guilty secret of ids 


intercourse with, the woman, who had at least for one 
short hour been his mistress. That he conceived it 
possible for his wife to live in close and daily inter- 
course with, himself and Lady Hamilton without dis- 
covering the momentous secret, points to the sim- 
plicity that was one of Nelson's characteristics, and 
also to his ignorance of the gentler sex. 

Even if she had made her acquaintance without 
prejudice against her. Lady Nelson would have dis- 
covered instinctively in the ever-natural and demon- 
strative Lady Hamilton an enemy to her honour and 
domestic peace, a woman for her to fear, abhor, and 
avoid. For it was not in Lady Hamilton's power to 
pass an evening in the society of her hero and his 
wife, without revealing her idolatry of him by word 
or look. The efforts she made to ingratiate herself 
with Nelson's wife only quickened Lady Nelson's dis- 
like of the syren. Instead of being soothed and pro- 
pitiated by the colloquial complaisances, that com- 
mended the Beauty to the less discerning of her new 
acquaintances, Lady Nelson distrusted flatteries and 
blandishments that were intended to conciliate her. 
The naturalness, that charmed Lady Hamilton's ad- 
mirers, nettled and exasperated the suspicious gentle- 
woman, who rated it as the mere effrontery of a 
wicked adventuress. If the fretted and angry wife 
forbore to speak disparagingly of the lovely Emma, 
as soon as she had driven away from Nerot's Hotel, 
the forbearance must have cost Lady Nelson a pain- 
ful effort. Possibly on the first night of their re-union 
after so long a separation, poor Fanny was so far dis- 
honest to her husband as to congeal her aversion for 


' those Hamiltons,' tinder a few commonplace expres- 
sions of insincere approval. There are moments 
when a woman must be less than sincerely truthful or 
less than altogether wifely. 

The dinner at Nerot's Hotel was followed by the 
dinner in Grosvenor Square, given by Sir William 
and Lady Hamilton to Lord and Lady Nelson, Miss 
Knight, and other friends, the Duke of Sussex and 
Lady Augusta Hurray being amongst the guests, who 
came to the entertainment in the evening. It having 
been arranged that the Hamiltons and Nelsons should 
go together to the theatre on the following evening, 
Miss Knight was pressed to join the party, but she 
declined the invitation and consequently escaped the 
pain of being present at a scene that soon became 
the talk of the town. Overcome by emotions she 
may be supposed to have done her utmost to conceal, 
Lady Nelson fainted in the box, where she was sitting 
with her husband and Lady Hamilton. Matters hav- 
ing gone thus far towards public scandal, Miss 
Knight's friends urged her to lose no time in with- 
drawing from her association with Lady Hamilton, 
although the abrupt withdrawal might expose her to 
a charge of ingratitude to acquaintances, who had 
shown her extraordinary kindness. Whilst poor Miss 
Knight was debating how to extricate herself from a 
perilous entanglement, busy-bodies seized their op- 
portunities for telling Sir William Hamilton what the 
world said of his wife's relation to his illustrious 
friend, and for enlightening Nelson with respect to 
Lady Hamilton's reputation and antecedents. The 
tattle, which caused Miss Knight to take the first 


steps for gracefully retiring from ' a connection/ that 
after serving her in good stead for more than two 
years now menaced with social discredit, naturally 
disposed Nelson to be seriously annoyed with his 
wife, whilst it no less naturally confirmed him in his 
chivalrous concern for the woman who had befriend- 
ed Lira in the Mediterranean, and in two or three 
months would be the mother of his child. * He felt 
irritated,* says Miss Knight, * and took it up in an un- 
fortunate manner by devoting himself more and 
more to her' p.0. 5 Lady Hamilton], 'for the purpose 
of what he called supporting her.' 




Bickering and Strife- Social Distractions Nelson's Visit to f the 
City ' Sir William Hamilton's financial Position His De- 
mands for Compensation Nelson's View of the Claims 
Friends in Council ' Vathek 7 Beckford's Project for making 
Himself a Peer Lady Hamilton's Hope of becoming a 
Peeress Her Application to Henry DundasChristmas 
Festivities at Fonthill The Hamiltons and Nelson in Wilt- 
shire The Millionaire's Terms Kenewal of Efforts for the 
Peerage Lady Nelson in Arlington Street The Scene at 
her Breakfast-Table Her quick Anger and firm Resolve 
Mr. Haslewood on Wifely Duty Lady Nelson leaves her 
Husband Review of the Case Faults on both Sides Ex- 
cuses for Nelson His last Letters to Ms Wife Parted for 

18001801 A.D. 

WHILST Nelson was living uneasily with his wife 
from the 9th of November to the 19th of December, 
1800, they were fortunately preserved by his numer- 
ous social distractions from bickering incessantly 
about the causes of their growing estrangement. 
From the hour of his arrival in London to the mo- 
ment of his departure for Wiltshire, he was neces- 
sarily much in society. Coming to town on Sunday 
the 9th, he appears to have called on Earl Spencer 
before meeting the Hamiltons at his wife's dinner- 
table. On Monday, the 10th of November, he was at 
the Guildhall banquet, where he received the sword 


given him by the City. The acclamations of the 
populace, who on that occasion took the horses from 
his carriage and drew it triumphantly from Ludgate 
Hill to the festal scene, and the extraordinary enthu- 
siasm with which he was welcomed by the civic 
authorities and the Lord Mayor's guests, must neces- 
sarily have driven for many hours from his mind all 
bitter thoughts of his wife's manifest disinclination to 
see much of Lady Hamilton. The dinner at Grosvenor 
Square, to which reference has been made, may be 
assigned to Tuesday the llth. The public and cere- 
monious visit to the theatre was an affair of the next 
evening. As the days went on, the invitations that 
could not be declined without discourtesy became 
more numerous. On the 20th Lord Nelson took his 
seat in the House of Lords. Desirous of getting to 
sea again as soon as possible, he was under the neces- 
sity of paying frequent visits to the Admiralty. 
Personal affairs, which he had neglected during his 
long absence from England, claimed his attention 
and in various ways occupied much of his time. 
Busy with his own private matters, he was constrain- 
ed to concern himself in the pecuniary interests of 
the Hamiltons, and in Vathek Beckford's astounding 
project for sneaking into the House of Lords, under 
cover of a Patent that should in the first instance 
operate for Sir William Hamilton's elevation to the 
Peerage. With so many matters to engage his 
attention, and divert his mind from his supreme 
domestic difficulty, the hero fortunately escaped the 
incessant bickering and embroilment, that would 
Jiave attended his discord with Lady Nelson, had it 


been for the moment his sole source of excitement. 
Having lived so far beyond ids income at Palermo, 
that he was glad to accept pecuniary assistance from 
Nelson, Sir William Hamilton returned to England 
in what may be called circumstances of difficulty, 
though it would be an exaggeration to speak of the 
owner of the unencumbered Welsh estate as an im- 
poverished or seriously embarrassed man. In what 
remained to him of his art-treasures after the disas- 
trous wreck of the Colossus, he still possessed the 
means of liberating himself from debt without mort- 
gaging his land. Still he needed for his immediate 
arrangements a few thousand pounds of ready money, 
perhaps half as many thousands as he could get for 
his pictures and vases. This being so, it is not sur- 
prising that Sir William resolved to lose no time in 
applying to the Treasury for the pension usually ac- 
corded to superannuated diplomatists of his standing 
and services. Nor, as he loved money, is it surprising 
that Sir William determined, whilst suing for the 
pension, to press the Treasury for a grant of a goodly 
number of thousands, in compensation of the losses 
he had sustained through the Neapolitan revolution. 
From documents, published in Pettigrew's 'Life of 
Nelson,' it appears that in November, 1800, Sir 
William was making out his claim upon the Treasury, 
and in doing so was assisted by Nelson, who of course 
knew little or nothing of the particulars on which the 
claim was based, apart from what he was told by 
the claimant. A paper in Nelson's handwriting cer- 
tifies that, from the particulars thus submitted to 
consideration, he was of opinion Sir William might 


falrlv ask the Treasury to compensate him for his 
heavy and unforseen charges in settling and main- 
taining a new establishment at Palermo, and also for 
losses (computed at 10,000) of artistic works, fur- 
niture and domestic effects, which, in his zeal for the 
preservation of the royal family, he neglected to send 
to England, when he could have done so had he 
been chiefly thoughtful of his own interests. 4 The 
settling this new establishment/ Nelson wrote in this 
paper, 'together with the closing the accounts on 
his being superseded, cost, by bills drawn up in 
London, 13,213, between August, 1799, and June, 
1800, besides all losses which cannot be estimated 
less than 10,000 sterling/ Without bills, vouchers, 
and numerous other particulars of intelligence that 
are not attainable for the purpose of this work, it is 
impossible to form any opinion of the reasonableness 
of the demand for compensation, in respect to the 
alleged expenditure of 13,213. The second and 
smaller of the two sums is, however, especially de- 
serving the reader's attention. As the 10,000 
comprised the estimated value of the objets d'art 
shipped in the Colossus in October, 1798, and lost 
through the wreck of that vessel, the computation 
does not appear to have greatly exceeded the value, 
which their sanguine owner might have assigned 
to his multifarious chattels before losing them. But 
how does the computation agree with what Lady 
Hamilton lived to imagine to have been the value of 
the goods she and her husband lost, at the time of 
the Parthenopeian revolution, through their devotion 
to the honour of Great Britain and the interests of 


their Sicilian Majesties ? In later time Lady Hamil- 
ton valued the goods so unselfishly surrendered at 
39,000. Talking about them to Nelson in Novem- 
ber, 1800, Sir William valued the same goods and the 
things of art lost in the Colossus at no more than 
10,000. The difference of the two valuations indi- 
cates how wildly Lady Hamilton talked in her later 
years about her sacrifices, for the honour of her 
ungrateful country. 

Nelson was not the only person whom the Hamil- 
tons consulted about their claims on the Treasury 
for compensation. Whilst Nelson was invited to 
consider the particulars of those claims, an appeal 
was made to Vathek Beckford for his sympathetic 
consideration of the little bill, that was about to be 
sent in to the Treasury by his impoverished relatives. 
As a man of sentiment, Mr. Beckford was of course 
deeply grieved to learn, that his dear Sir William 
and Lady Hamilton were less prosperous than they 
wished and ought to be. As a good man of business 
(for the connoisseur and voluptuary knew much more 
about business than he allowed the world to suspect), 
Mr. Beckford saw at a glance, that his dear cousin 
and his dear cousin's lovely wife would whistle in 
vain to the Treasury for 20,000. At the same 
time, as a shrewd man ever with an eye to his own 
interest, the Fonthill millionaire conceived he might 
use Sir William and Lady Hamilton, for the attain- 
ment of what had been from early manhood his 
highest ambition. 

Eighteen years had now passed, since Mr. Beckford 
had fallen under the hideous suspicion to which 


reference was made In a previous chapter. During 
these eighteen years, the dark cloud had lost some- 
thing of its original blackness. By this time the 
abominable scandal had become an old, vaguely- 
remembered, time-worn, time-discredited story. All 
the persons to whom the circumstances of the 
scandal were best known, and all the personages 
of high society who were the culprit's most severe 
and authoritative censors, eighteen years since, had 
one by one passed from the scene. Even, from the 
scandal's birthday two or three powerful persons 
had questioned its truth, and been disposed to regard 
the man of evil fame as the victim of prejudice and 
malice. Since the Hamiltons visited him in 1791, 
shortly before their marriage, Mr. Beckford of Font- 
hill had drawn about him a better lot of friends than 
the entertaining people, who in that year trooped 
from town to applaud Emma Hart' s songs and atti- 
tudes in Wiltshire. In the London season of 1800, 
he had appeared in many a great house that ten 
years earlier was closed to him. In short, without 
having quite lived down his former infamy, he had 
so far survived it as to be capable of thinking it 
possible, that even yet he might become a peer. 

This being so, Mr. Beckford bethought himself 
whether he could not make the Hamiltons subser- 
vient to his ambition. Though rich enough for his 
needs and station, Sir William Hamilton, after the 
wont of old men, wished to be something richer. 
The old man wished to provide handsomely for his 
widow, without charging his Welsh estate too 
heavily. After the wont of her sort of womankind, 


Lady Hamilton was at the threshold of middle age 
growing as greedy of money, as In her better time 
she had been careless about it. They both wanted 
more money without working for it. Moreover, Mr. 
Beckford construed their recent appeal to him for 
sympathy and counsel, as a delicate hint that their 
millionaire cousin might aid them to enlarge their 
means. Could they make it worth his while to serve 
them? Sir William had claims on the country, 
claims which the Ministry would certainly be slow to 
satisfy with money, but probably quick to satisfy 
with a gift that would cost the Exchequer nothing. 
After serving his King and country for thirty-six 
years as Minister at a foreign court. Sir William 
could doubtless get a peerage, if he begged hard for 
it and abated his claims for compensation. His 
prayers would be supported by the several powerful 
peers to whom he was nearly related, by other peers 
whom he had treated well in Italy, and no doubt by 
the brand-new peer the nation's idol the glorious 
Nelson. The result of Mr. Beckford's deliberation 
was that he sent his agent, Mr. Nicholas Williams, 
on a secret and delicate mission to Sir William 

In the execution of this mission, Mr. Nicholas Wil- 
liams called on Sir William Hamilton In Grosvenor 
Square, on the 14th of November, 1800, and told him 
that if for the satisfaction of his claims on the country 
he should seek and obtain from the Crown a peerage, 
that on his death without male issue would devolve on 
Mr. Beckford and his heirs, the owner of Fonthill would 
secure to "hfm for the term of his life an annuity, a pro- 


portion of which should be continued to Lady Hamilton 
for the term of her life, in case she should survive her 
husband. In deciding to make this astounding pro- 
posal by a verbal message, Mr. Beckford was doubtless 
controlled by reluctance to create enduring evidence 
of the overture, without first ascertaining Sir William 
Hamilton's readiness to join in the project. That Sir 
William was disposed to entertain this oflfer, which, in 
the absence of evidence to the contrary, he might be 
presumed to have declined with laughter as a wild 
and fantastic suggestion, appears from the fact that, 
before dismissing Mr. Williams on the 14th of Novem- 
ber, he requested the envoy from Fonthill to put in 
writing an outline of the proposal. To this request 
for written words, that should preserve the principals 
in an equally important and delicate negociation 
from subsequent misunderstanding, Mr. Williams an- 
swered on the following day (November 15th) with 
a letter (vide Pettigrew's < Life of Nelson ') contain- 
ing this intelligible though not altogether lucid 

And as Administration, from the great pressure of the 
times, and the number of claims they must have upon them, 
may not find it convenient to accord with your expectations, 
as to making a provision beyond the distinguished mark of 
favour you will no doubt receive from his Majesty, Mr. 
"Beckford has authorised me to say, if a Peerage should he 
offered, and you could arrange it so that the grant may he 
made to yourself, with remainder to Mr. Beckford and his 
heirs, that he would, in case of Government, secure to you 
an annuity for life of whatever sum the consideration 
Government may make shall fall short of your expectations, 
with an adequate reversion to Lady Hamilton for her life/ 

Mr. Beckford's offer having been thus put into 


writing, the Hamiltons and Nelson held counsel on 
the feasibility of the project, and on the steps that 
should be taken for compassing, or at least for seeing 
whether it would be In their power to compass, so 
strange an arrangement for placing Sir William 
amongst the peers, exalting Lady Hamilton to a 
peeress, and eventually giving Yathek Beckford his 
desire. With his knowledge of official life and of 
the several strong reasons people had for regarding 
the Fonthill millionaire with disapproval and even 
with repugnance, Sir William Hamilton could not be 
sanguine for the success of the project. But partly 
because the arrangement would be so greatly bene- 
ficial to himself, and partly because he lacked the 
nerve to utter words of common-sense that would 
irritate his emotional wife, he adopted the scheme 
in a faint-hearted way, at her instance rather than 
of his own will and judgment. She, of course, was 
too excited by a project, so congenial to her ambi- 
tion and vanity, to be capable of seeing why she 
should laugh it out of serious consideration as a 
wildly ludicrous conceit. Moreover, the incidents 
of her own marvellous career had disqualified her to 
judge the case. To an adventuress, who from a 
nursery-maid had risen to be Maria Caroline's intim- 
ate friend, the prospect of becoming a peeress may 
well have seemed nothing more than a promise of 
further good fortune, congruent in quality and pro- 
portion with her previous social successes. Whilst 
Lady Hamilton took this view of her prospect of 
becoming Lady Nelson's equal in the regard of 
heralds, Nelson, sometimes a simpleton on land,, 


though never less than a hero at sea, deemed it only 
fair and reasonable that, as he had been made a peer 
for the victory of Aboukir, the Patroness of the Navy 
who had helped him to win the glorious battle 
should take her place amongst peeresses, by virtue of 
a peerage granted to her husband, who had in the 
way of diplomacy done so much for British interests 

in the Mediterranean. 

This being so, the trio concluded to close with Mr, 
Beckford's offer, and in their several ways to do their 
utmost to bring about an arrangement that would be 
alike agreeable to themselves and to the Wiltshire 
plutocrat. What they did for the attainment of their 
purpose, does not appear fully. But something is 
known, of their exertions for the end they had in 
view. Forbearing for the present to press the Mar- 
quis of Douglas and his other potential kindred to 
use their influence with ministers, Sir William Hamil- 
ton, who two years later confessed that in 1800 he 
did not ' embark in the business heartily/ probably 
did no more than intimate to influential personages 
of the Treasury and Foreign Office, that he should 
willingly make a large abatement of his pecuniary 
claims on the country, provided he were assured his 
services would be rewarded with a proper increase of 
his social dignity. Nelson, more likely to defeat his 
friends' cause by excessive zeal than to further it by 
discreet advocacy, may be conceived to have told 
Lord Spencer that Sir William Hamilton was entitled 
to nothing less from the country he had served so 
long and effectually, than a peerage, together with 
compensation for the losses he had sustained through 


the Neapolitan revolution. As for Lady Hamilton, 
it is known that she had an interview with Henry 
Dundas, in which she impressed upon the Secretary 
of State that her husband had claims to a peerage, 
which could not be disregarded by a ministry, having 
any wish to stand well with posterity. Your inter- 
view with D.,' Mr. Beckford wrote from Fonthill to 
Lady Hamilton on the 24th of November, 1800, c holds 
forth some hope. I agree with you in thinking him. 
the best of the tribe.' One may be sure that D. 
(the Right Honourable Henry Dundas) received Lady 
Hamilton courteously, listened to her with a re- 
assuring show of interest, and to the last moment of 
their interview rendered her all the homage of lip 
and eye, due to a woman of her rare beauty and 
remarkable story. But it may be questioned whether 
the lady's interview with the Secretary of State 
improved in any degree Mr. Beckford's chance of 
sneaking into fellowship with the Lords. Anyhow 
Lady Hamilton derived hope from her interview with 
Mr. Dundas ; and in her elation at the statesman's 
words, the ever too-communicative lady was talka- 
tive to her acquaintance about what she was scheming 
for. In conceiving what was said of the Hamiltons 
in high official circles, at a time when all ' society ' 
was prattling about Nelson's domestic difficulty, 
readers must be mindful how cognizant those circles 
were of Lady Hamilton's desire to range herself with 
the peeresses. 

To strike the bargain with their confederate in 
Wiltshire, and possibly also to come to a more precise 
understanding with him on the pecuniary details of 


the compact, the Hamiltons decided to visit him at 
Fonthill, in accordance with an invitation he had 
more than once pressed them to accept. Knowing 
they should please their wealthy cousin by journey- 
ing to his house in the coldest season of the year, 
they were aware they would gratify him in a higher 
degree, if they took Nelson with them. 'I exist,' 
31r. Beckford had written to Lady Hamilton on the 
24th of November, c in the hopes of seeing Fonthill 
honoured by his victorious presence, and if his en- 
gagements permit his accompanying you here, we 
shall enjoy a few comfortable days of repose, un- 
contarninated by the sight and prattle of drawing- 
room parasites.' Under these circumstances, Lady 
Hamilton besought the hero to accompany her to the 
country for the Christmas holidays, an invitation he 
perhaps accepted the more readily, because (vide 
Miss Knight's * Autobiography ') he felt it incumbent 
on his honour ' to devote himself more and more to 
her, for the purpose of what he called supporting her.' 
Anyhow, leaving his wife to spend Christmas at the 
Arlington Street lodgings, to which they had moved 
from Nerot's Hotel, Nelson started with the Hamil- 
tons for Fonthill on the 19th of December. 

There were brave doings in Wiltshire in the 
AdmiraTs honour. Received on the eastern confine 
of the shire by Captain Windham at the head of his 
troop, the carriage in which Nelson travelled in the 
company of the Hamiltons was escorted by mounted 
yeomanry for twelve miles, through the long lines of 
country people, who had come from near and far to 
get a view of the nation's brightest and dearest hero. 


At Salisbury, where he received the Freedom of the 
City, Nelson was cheered by a multitude more numer- 
ous and enthusiastic than any assembly, that before 
or since ever thronged the highways of the pictur- 
esque town, and blocked the approaches to the 
Council House; the riot of the tumultuous delight 
reaching its height when, on coming out of the 
municipal buildings, the Admiral recognized a sea- 
man who had fought in the Battle of the Nile, and 
after greeting him with characteristic heartiness gave 
the happy fellow a handsome tip. 

Though it can scarcely have yielded them the 
promised * repose, uncontaminated by the sight and 
prattle of drawing-room parasites,' Mr. Beckford's 
entertainment of his celebrated visitors was worthy 
of the occasion. Welcomed with music to the 
demesne and escorted through the park by their host's 
regiment of volunteers, Nelson and his companions 
were received at the door of the mansion with a feu 
dejoie. As the trio alighted from their carriage, the 
military band, ceasing to play f Rule Britannia, 5 struck 
up * Grod save the Bang.' A worthy occupant having 
been found for every guest-chamber of the million- 
aire's lordly pile, Lady Hamilton leaning on the 
hero's arm and preceded by her fluttered and per- 
petually bowing entertainer passed up the steps and 
into the house through a throng of excited people, 
gentle and simple, visitors and dependents, who on 
hearing the strains of *Eule Britannia' had hastened 
with alacrity from salon and gallery, court and corri- 
dor, to swell the acclamations that greeted the 
* famous three ' on the outer terrace, or to deepen the 


mnrmurcras hum of admiration that paid Lady Hamil- 
ton courtlier homage, when she had crossed the 
threshold of Vathek's home. Flushed with delight 
and radiant with gratified vanity, the matronly Queen 
of Beauty seemed for the moment to some of her 
welcomers no less charming and bewitchingly fasci- 
nating, than she was on the occasion of her former 
visit to Fonthill, when she was still Emma Hart, and 
Eomney's ' divine lady. 5 Her cup of happiness was 
for a trice full to the brim. Had Lady Nelson only 
been there to witness her rival's triumph, the cup 
would have overflowed. 

Made in the winter, Lady Hamilton's second visit 
to Fonthill necessarily differed in several particulars 
from the visit she paid the same place in the summer 
of 1791. But the two entertaintments had perhaps a 
larger number of points of resemblance. In respect 
to the indoor diversions, there is little to be said of 
the winter visit, that was not said of the summer visit 
in a previous chapter. There were dinners, at which 
Lady Hamilton feasted heartily without being dis- 
tinctly greedy, and drank the wine she loved above 
all other wines without drinking 'the glass/ that 
would have been scandalously <too much.' There 
were concerts, at which Lady Hamilton and Banti 
sang together. Possibly there was the more music 
after each of the series of dinners, because Lady 
Hamilton had been recently advised by her sensations 
to refrain from dancing with her customary enthusi- 
asm and perseverance. Of course, there were atti- 
tudes ' by the Queen of Beauty ; and if the writer who 
described these Fonthill Bevels in the Gentleman's 


Magazine (vide the Number for April, 1801) may be 
trusted, Lady Hamilton's impersonation of Agrippina, 
offering the ashes of Germanicus in a golden urn to 
the view of the Roman people, was an achievement of 
histrionic art, that entitled the performer to be rated 
with the greatest actresses of the Engliah stage. 

The Hamiltons, with Nelson, left Fonthill for the 
homeward journey on the 28th of December, and 
arrived in London on the following day. 

One consequence of the meeting at Fonthill was 
Mr. Beekford's definite engagement to settle 2,000 
a-year on his cousin for life, as soon as he should get 
the desired peerage with the contemplated remainder 
to the millionaire and his heirs, and further, in the 
same event, to secure to Lady Hamilton a contingent 
annuity of 500, to be paid to her yearly from the 
date of her husband's death to the end of her life. It 
is needless to say that nothing came of this scheme. 
Eeaders, however, may not imagine that it was 
relinquished soon after its conception, when Sir 
William Hamilton had obtained from the Govern- 
ment a pension of 1,200 per annum on the Irish 
establishment. Accepting this allowance for the 
term of his life, as a provision to which he had an 
indefeasible claim, in recompense for long official 
service, Sir William Hamilton still continued to de- 
mand compensation for the losses and exceptional 
expenses he had sustained, in the concluding years of 
his diplomatic employment. Mr. Beckford also per- 
sisted in hoping for the settlement of his cousin's 
claims, that would have made him a peer. So late as 
the 1st of July, 1802, Mr. Pebbles, the agent-in-chief 


of Mr. Beckford's West Indian estates, called upon 
Lord Nelson and Sir William Hamilton at Merton, to 
confer with, them on measures still to be taken for 
the satisfaction of his patron's prime ambition. A 
man of energy and affairs, hopeful of soon sitting in 
Parliament for one of Mr. Beckford's pocket-boroughs, 
Mr. Pebbles pressed the Admiral and Sir William so 
urgently for a renewal of their exertions in the 
millionaire's behalf, that they determined to make 
another and stronger effort for the achievement of 
the design, which had now engaged their attention 
for more than a year-and-a-half. Nelson undertook 
to use all his influence with Mr. Addington for the 
desired end, provided his application to the Minister 
should be cordially and cogently supported by the 
Duke of Hamilton and the Marquis of Douglas ; and 
to obtain this support of the Admiral's suit, Sir 
William Hamilton made a strong appeal to his power- 
ful kinsmen. But all was in vain. Sir William 
failed to get the 2,000 a-year, Lady Hamilton took 
nothing by her hero's assault on the wary and cour- 
teous Addington, and Vathek Beckford died a 

At war with Lady Nelson before he went to Font- 
hill, Nelson, on his return from Wiltshire to Arlington 
Street, found her in no kindlier mood towards him- 
self and Lady Hamilton. Had she received him with 
a smiling face and show of undisturbed affection, one 
would not like her any the better for a demeanour, 
so indicative of insensibility, servile submissiveness, or 
hypocrisy. Had she been made of stone the wife, 
to whose arms he had so lately returned, after an 


absence of years, would have been hurt by his action 
in leaving her for the Christmas holidays, at no re- 
quirement of duty, when he was daily looking for an 
order from the Admiralty, sending him off again to 
sea. She had the more reason to resent his conduct, 
because circumstances compelled her to regard it as 
an indignity, designed for her public annoyance and 
humiliation. She may well have discovered the 
death of his tenderness and chivalrous respect for 
her in the unfeeling levity and insolence, with which 
he left her at such a moment, to travel triumphantly 
through the country in the company of the notorious 
woman, with whom he had so recently made a long 
continental tour. The sorrow and displeasure with 
which she thought of Nelson, when he was amusing 
himself in the country, were necessarily qualified with 
emotions of tenderness for the man she still loved, 
and with reverence for his nobler qualities. But for 
Lady Hamilton the insulted wife can for the moment 
have had no gentler feelings, than those of repug- 
nance and detestation. If she had not formed the 
resolve before the 19th of December, we may be sure 
Lady Nelson did not see her husband on his return to 
Arlington Street, without having determined that no 
order, menace, or entreaty from his lips should induce 
her ever again to sit at the same table, or remain in 
the same room, or exchange words of formal civility, 
with Sir William Hamilton's wife. 

Of course, Nelson's bad treatment of his wife was 
not without extenuating circumstances. Knowing 
that no one but himself and his companion in 
error was aware of the deplorable incident, that had 


occurred during the pleasure trip to Malta, he was far 
less blamable in requiring his wife to associate with 
Lady Hamilton, than he would have been, had the in- 
cident been notorious. Capable (that incident notwith- 
standing) of declaring on his honour that Lady Ham- 
ilton was nothing more to him than a dear and hon- 
oured friend, he is not to be judged as a man guilty 
of forcing his mistress into intimacy with his wife. 
Considerations of honour forbade him to withdraw 
abruptly from his familiar association with the woman, 
whom his wife could not tolerate. Though he great- 
ly exaggerated, and in other ways misapprehended 
the services she had' rendered him, it is not to be 
gainsaid that he was under obligations to Lady 
Hamilton. For more than two years she had been 
his friend. After contributing (as he believed) to his 
success at Aboukir, she had nursed him in sick- 
ness, and cheered him in moments of sorrow. 
The one brief madness of their otherwise wholly 
virtuous attachment would in a few weeks make him 
the father of her child. Was it for Nelson to break 
abruptly from the woman, to whom he was so strongly 
attached and so largely indebted to throw her from 
him in callous selfishness at the moment she most 
needed his sympathy because his wife thought far 
too ill of her, and the world cried ' Fie ! ? upon her ? 
Could he have retreated from her just then, he would 
not have been Nelson the Nelson who, now that 
he has been dead for more than eighty years, holds 
the heart of mighty England as wholly and firmly as 
he held it, when he went out upon the deep to win 
lys last battle and die for us. 


On reviewing thoughtfully and dispassionately all 
the circumstances of his unfortunate entanglement 
with a woman who, though less wicked than history 
has proclaimed her, was lamentably unworthy of 
his love, most readers will come to the conclusion, 
that towards the close of 1800 he was right in * de- 
voting himself more and more to her, for the purpose 
of what he called supporting her/ But, if Lady 
Hamilton was entitled to his sympathy, Lady Nelson 
had a yet stronger claim to his generous considera- 
tion. Having ; supported ' Lady Hamilton by jour- 
neying publicly with her to Wiltshire, he should at 
least have returned to Arlington Street with a deter- 
mination to be very careful for his wife's feelings, 
during the brief remainder of his stay on shore, 
careful to say nothing to her, either in the hearing 
of others or when they were by themselves, that 
could quicken her animosity against Lady Hamilton, 
or in any way exacerbate her sense of injury. Un- 
fortunately, if he formed any such resolve, he did 
not act upon it. Even as the strong have their 
seasons of weakness, and good people sometimes 
give their enemies occasion to charge them with 
hypocrisy, it is possible for generous and chivalric 
men to be once ancl again wanting in common civility 
to the weak. As a hero never shows to worse advan- 
tage than when he is betrayed into miserable con- 
tention with one of his nearest womankind, it must 
pain the reader, to think of the great and good Nelson 
bickering with his wife at their fireside, and even 
showing her discourtesy in the presence of a third 
person. But it rests on the evidence of one of his 


partisans, that lie was guilty of these offences at least 
on one occasion, dining the few days that intervened 
between his return to Arlington Street and his de- 
parture for the fleet. 

Mr. Haslewood was breakfasting with Lord and 
Lady "Nelson at their lodgings in Arlington Street, on 
one of the earlier mornings of January, 1801, when 
Nelson put an abrupt period to ' a cheerful conver- 
sation on indifferent subjects ' by speaking eulogis- 
tically of something which had been done or said 
by c dear Lady Hamilton.' Flushing with indigna- 
tion at the enthusiastic and unseasonable reference to 
the friend, with whom he had spent the Christmas 
holidays. Lady Nelson rose from her chair and de- 
clared with much warmth that she was weaiy of 
hearing praise of Lady Hamilton, and had made up 
her mind to withdraw from a humiliating position. 
According to Mr. Haslewood (writing from Kemp 
Town, Brighton, to Sir Harris Nicolas on the 13th of 
April, 1846, more than forty-five years after the 
occurrence), 'Lady Nelson rose from her chair and 
exclaimed with much vehemence, "I am sick of 
hearing of dear Lady Hamilton, and am resolved 
that you shall give up either her or me," 'words to 
which Nelson is said by the same reporter to have 
repKed with perfect calmness, 'Take care, Fanny, 
what you say; I love you sincerely ; but I cannot 
forget my obligations to Lady Hamilton, or speak of 
her otherwise than with affection and admiration/ 
Of Lady Hamilton's answer to these scarcely con- 
ciliatory words, Mr. Haslewood could remember no 
particulars save that she said something of her firm 


resolve. 'Without one soothing word or gesture/ Mr. 
Haslewood wrote to Sir Harris Nicolas, < but muttering 
something about her mind being made np, Lady Nelson 
left the room, and shortly after drove from the house. 
They never lived together afterwards.' 

Bearing in mind that Nelson's eulogistic reference 
to Lady Hamilton was the last of a loug series of 
provocations, and should be considered in connection 
with the many galling incidents that had preceded 
it, few readers will concur with Mr. Haslewood In 
regarding Lady Nelson's vehement rejoinder as an 
almost unprovoked outbreak of feeling. For more 
than two years she had lived In a state of extreme 
soreness, with respect to Lady Hamilton. From the 
hour, when she heard of her son's unfortunate display 
of emotion at the birthday fete, Lady Nelson had been 
whipped by rumours of her husband's singular friend- 
ship for Sir William Hamilton's wife. For months It 
had been known to her, that the mutual friendship 
was regarded In the Mediterranean fleet as a liaison. 
In the spring and summer of the year just ended, 
she had spent months in expectation of her husband's 
re-appearance in England, only to hear at the end of 
July, that he had at the last moment altered his plans, 
and started on a tour of pleasure with Lady Hamil- 
ton,. From the hour of his long-deferred arrival in 
London, she had known that the town was chatter- 
ing about his scandalous attachment to his fascinating 
friend, and wondering whether the Admiral's wife 
would submit meekly and uncomplainingly to the 
Indignity put upon her. Mr. Haslewood knew, the 
whole town knew, how she had fainted at the theatre 


from overpowering pique and fury, at the attentions 
her husband was lavishing in her presence on the 
woman, who was universally regarded as his mistress. 
Mr. Haslewood knew, and Lady Nelson was keenly 
sensitive that he like the rest of the world knew, how, 
leaving her to get through the Christmas in town as 
she best could, her husband had travelled to Wilt- 
shire with Lady Hamilton, and spent the holidays 
with her at Fonthill. He had returned from Wilt- 
shire to Arlington Street so recently as the 29th of 
December, 1800, and now on an early day of the 
New Year he had broken away from c a cheerful 
conversation on indifferent subjects,' to speak to his 
wife and the guest at their breakfast-table of his 
* dear Lady Hamilton. ' Had Lady N elson maintained 
her composure and self-command so far as to hold 
her tongue and keep her seat, Mr. Haslewood would 
have glanced from the corners of his eyes to see, 
whether she changed colour at the reference to her 
rival, had he not with an effort looked away from his 
hostess or stared hard at his plate, in order to spare 
her the additional annoyance of feeling herself the 
object of his curiosity. 

Yet Mr. Haslewood could in his old age write as 
though there had been nothing for her to resent in 
her husband's outburst of enthusiasm for the woman, 
who was believed to be his mistress. < To the day,' 
says Mr. Haslewood, * of her husband's glorious death 
she never made any apology for the abrupt and un- 
gentle conduct above related, or any overture to- 
wards a reconciliation.' Surely the ungentle conduct 
was on the side of the husband who, to put the case 


mildly, had been so inconsiderate for her feelings. 
Surely it was for him to make the apology and the 
overture towards reconciliation. How in later time 
could she have decently made any such overture to 
him during his subsequent terms on shore, when he 
was domesticated with Lady Hamilton? It may, 
however, be admitted that Lady Nelson was less 
than duly mindful of her own dignity and her hus- 
band's honour when, in the presence of the visitor, she 
replied so warmly and acted so impulsively. In a 
quarrel between a husband and wife, the fault is sel- 
dom altogether on one side. There was fault on Lady 
Nelson's side, when in sudden anger she declared she 
would leave her lord, unless he gave up Lady Hamilton. 
Bearing in mind how soon he would be going to sea, 
she should have curbed her tongue and restrained her 
feelings, with a firm resolve to say nothing to precipi- 
tate a rupture, before he went off again to fight the 
enemies of his country. Had he, on returning from 
his next term of service, declared his purpose of per- 
sisting in a friendship that exposed her to social re- 
proach, she would still have been in time to guard 
her dignity by saying, * Choose between her and me/ 
In the meantime she should have been patient, for 
the sake of the man she still loved. 

Though they never again lived together after this 
wretched row at their breakfast-table, Nelson seems to 
have called on his wife and taken formal leave 
of her, before he started on the 13th of January to 
serve under Sir Hyde Parker. From Southampton 
on the evening of that day he wrote to her, * My 
dear Fanny, We are arrived, and heartily tired ; and 


with kindest regards to my father and all the family, 
believe me, your affectionate, Nelson/ a note which 
he should have rendered sufficiently apologetic by 
adding, * Dear Fanny, Forgive the husband, who loves 
you, what he repents.' It is doubtful whether Lady 
Nelson answered this note, which, though inade- 
quate, was intended to soothe and conciliate her. If 
she disdained to answer it affectionately, she was 
guilty of another fault. 

Possibly because he was nettled by her neglect to 
reply to the brief missive, Nelson addressed her in 
another strain from off Copenhagen some seven weeks 
later (4th. of March) when he wrote her the last letter 
she ever received from him, an epistle so harsh in 
sentiment and so offensively worded, that all who 
honour Nelson as he deserves to be honoured, must 
regret Dr. Pettigrew thought right to publish it. 
After reflecting on Lady Nelson's son with rude 
asperity, the writer concluded the brief letter with 
these words, c Living, I have done all in my power 
for you, and if dead, you will find I have done the 
same ; therefore, my only wish is to be left to myself; 
and wishing you every happiness, believe that I am, 
your affectionate, Nelson and Bronte.' 

Henceforth they remained asunder. But to Nel- 
son's credit be it said, he never penned nor with his 
lips uttered a word to his wife's discredit. Possibly 
the case would in this respect have been different, 
had he been a poet with a constipated liver, and a 
power of venting his rage in scathing and poison- 
ous satire. There were no proceedings in the Divorce 
Court, nor deed of separation by mutual agreement. 


As for alimony, Lady Nelson knew she could trust to 
his sense of honour and liberality, and was herself 
too proud to sue him for more, had ha been false to 
himself on such a matter of honour. Though he was 
poor for his rank, he allowed her 1,600 a-year far 
more than any court would have decreed for her 
maintenance. When the irritations attending the rup- 
ture had subsided, he necessarily judged her gener- 
ously. I doubt not that in his heart he honoured 
the proud and self-respecting woman, who cared no- 
thing for the rank he had given her, when it ceased 
to be associated with his devotion, and who on find- 
ing he no longer loved her, had said, with noble 
indignation, ' Then I will not be your slave.' I con- 
ceive that, had they each lived another fifteen years, 
they would have come together again by force of 
their never-uprooted love, and that had they sur- 
vived to old age, the grey-headed Nelson would have 
once and again reminded her proudly and tenderly, 
with simple and sailorlike frankness, of her fine 
courage in saying, * I will have your whole heart or 
none of it.* 




Nelson at Sea Horatia's Birth She is entrusted to Nurse Gib- 
son Nelson's Correspondence with Lady Hamilton Mr. 
and Mrs. Thomson, (alias Thompson) Controversy about 
Horatia's Parentage Sir Harris Nicolas in Error Lady 
Hamilton sells her Diamonds Her Reward for parting with 
them No. 23, Piccaddilly The Hamiltons in Town Playing 
for the Hamilton -Beckford Peerage Lady Hamilton's Apolo- 
gists Sir William Hamilton's Sale of Pictures His Testament 
and Last Will Nelson in Piccadilly The Hamiltons and 
Nelsons at Box Hill The Sojourn at The Bush Inn,' Staines 
Nelson resolves to have a Country-house He goes off 
again to Sea Lady Hamilton house-hunting Nelson's Pur- 
chase of Merton Place The Hamiltons at Deal Sir AVilliam 
Hamilton's Description of Merton Place Nelson's first View 
of the Place His Home on Shore His Prayer for his Child. 
1801 A.D. 

WHEN Nelson started from London for Plymouth on 
the 13th of January, 1801, Lady Hamilton was ex- 
pecting her accouchement before the end of the 
month an expectation that was fulfilled by the time- 
ly appearance of the female infant (Horatia), who was ' 
born no earlier than the 29th, and no later than the 
31st of January, 1801. That the father of this infant 
left London at the moment of his lively concern for 
the welfare of the mother in her time of peril, when 
by an urgent representation at the Admiralty he 


could certainly have obtained leave to prolong his 
stay In London, shows how completely his tenderest 
feelings were subordinated to his regard for * duty.' 
The same fact might also be produced in evidence to 
show how small the danger was, that he would be de- 
flected from the path of duty by Lady Hamilton's 
weakness. If on this occasion she entreated Hm to 
see her through her trouble before leaving her, he had 
the strength to refuse her prayer. If from regard for 
his feelings or professional honour, or from no higher 
motive than a prudent desire to preserve his good 
opinion, she forbore to make the entreaty, she only 
exercised the self-control which seems always to have 
distinguished her conduct, whenever his sense of 
duty conflicted with her wishes. 

Save that Lady Hamilton contrived to get through 
her illness without letting her husband discover or 
suspect her condition, nothing of importance is known 
of the immediate circumstances of Horatia's birth, 
which seems from uncertain testimony to have oc- 
curred at 23, Piccadilly, the house into which the 
Hamiltons moved on ceasing to occupy Mr. Beckford's 
mansion in Grosvenor Square. Prom one of Nelson's 
letters it appears that the invalid had some difficulty 
in getting a nurse. Another of his epistles shows 
that, in her sickness, she had the services and relied 
on the secrecy of more than one person. But the 
only matter of moment touching the clandestine inci- 
dent is, that Sir William Hamilton had no knowledge 
of what was taking place. 

Something more than a week after this furtive 
occurrence. Lady Hamilton brought her infant by 


night In a hackney-coach to the house (9, Little 
Titchfield Street, Marylebone) O f a certain Mrs. Gib- 
son, who had engaged to take charge of the nursling, 
and, in accordance with the engagement, tended the 
child for some years. On the occasion of this secret 
visit, Lady Hamilton had no one in attendance upon 
her; but in later time she was often accompanied to 
Little Titchfield Street by Nelson, who also (accord- 
ing to the testimony of Nurse Gibson's daughter, Mrs. 
Johnstone) < often came alone, and played for hours 
with the infant on the floor, calling her his own child.' 
In speaking to her daughter of the circumstances 
under which this infant of secret birth came to her 
hands, Nurse Gibson was certain that the little crea- 
ture, when first committed to her care, was c no more 
than eight days old.' Just as little Emily, soon after 
her birth, was put out to nurse with Dame Kidd of 
Hawarden, little Horatia was thus early confided to 
Dame Gibson. When little Emily was packed off to 
Hawarden, it was a question whether her mother 
should be described as a maid-servant out of place 
or a gay girl without a protector. But the gentle- 
woman, who brought little Horatia by night in a 
Tiackney-coach to Nurse Gibson's dwelling, was a 
lady of title, fashion, and celebrity, who was hopeful 
of soon being a peeress. 

Of the opening months of Horatia's Life we should 
know more, had not Nelson been careful to destroy 
the letters he received from Lady Hamilton in the 
February and spring of 1801, and should know less 
had she destroyed Ms letters, as he bade her in the 
following words : * I b^rn all your dear letters^ because 


it is right for your sake/ he wrote to her from sea on the 
1 st of March, 1801 , c and I wish you would burn all mine 
they can do no good, and will do us both harm, if 
any seizure of them, or the dropping even one of 
them, would fill the mouths of the world sooner than 
we intend/ Whilst careful to destroy her letters, 
Nelson, in writing to Lady Hamilton, used a curious 
bind of literary mystification, for the purpose of ren- 
dering his letters less easily intelligible fco unauthor- 
ized perusers of the compositions. Sometimes the 
letters were addressed to Mrs. Thomson, and read 
like letters from her affectionate husband. At other 
times, addressing his correspondent by her proper style, 
and signing with his own name or his initials, Nel- 
son affected to send messages from c Mrs. Thomson's 
friend ' at sea to Lady Hamilton's particular friend, 
Mrs. Thomson, on shore.* For example, in acknow- 
ledging on the 1st of February Lady Hamilton's 
announcement of their child's birth. Nelson wrote to 
her from bis ship : * My dear Lady, I believe poor 
dear Mrs. Thomson's friend will go mad with joy. 
He cries, prays, and performs all tricks, yet dare[s] 
not show all or any of his feelings. He has only me 
to consult with. He swears he will drink your health 
this day in bumper ;* words that were read by Lady 
Hamilton as, 4 1 believe I shall go mad with joy. I 
cry, pray, and perform all tricks, yet dare not show 
all or any of my feelings. I have only myself to 

* Nelson and Lady Hamilton both spelt tike name indifferently, 
k Thomson and Thompson; this want of uniformity of spelling 
Hpeing one of the minor indications of the fictitious nature ol the 


consult with. I swear I will drink your health this 
day in a bumper.'* 

Had Nelson invariably written in this mystifying 
style, when he had occasion to write to Lady Hamilton 
on matters touching their child of clandestine birth, the 
controversy about Horatia's parentage, in which Sir 
Harris Nicolas f played so ineffectual a part, might 
have been prolonged to this hour, by the less critical 
sort of disputants. But the Admiral sent Lady Hamil- 
ton by private hand one letter wholly free from mys- 
tification, in which he wrote (vide Pettigrew's 'Life,' 
vol. ii, p. 652) on the 1st of March, 1801 : c Now, my 
own dear Wife, for such you are in my eyes and 
in the face of heaven, I can give full scope to my 
feelings, for I dare say Oliver will faithfully deliver 
this letter. You know, my dearest Emma, that there 
is nothing in this world that I would not do for us to 

* Using ' Thomson ' (alias Thompson) in this fashion for pur- 
poses of mystification in 1801, Nelson employed the same simple 
artifice in his subsequent correspondence with his enchantress. 

f Admitting (vide t Despatches and Letters,' vol. vii, p. 371) 
that epistles, parts of which are printed in his seventh volume, 
afford conclusive evidence that the 'Thompson' of the secret letters 
was Nelson, and that ' Thompson's child ' was Horatia, Sir Harris 
Nicolas held that these i Thompson ' letters left it questionable 
whether Mrs. Thompson was Lady Hamilton. Further, on the mere 
strength of Mr. Hasle wood's assertion that Lady Hamilton was not 
Horatia's mother, and that" ; he could an he would ' tell the real 
mother's name, Sir Harris Nicolas conceived himself justified in 
writing, * and now, when the strong suspicion of her having been the 
mother of Horatia is at an end,' as though Mr. Haslewood's bare 
* ipse dixit ' had extinguished the suspicion by utterly disproving 
it. No doubt Mr. Haslewood was one of Nelson's confidential 
friends. But was it impossible for a man to be the Admiral's 
close and confidential friend, and yet be wildly mistaken about 
Horatia's parentage? Sir Thomas Hardy (' Kiss me, Hardy!') was, 
one of Nelson's dearest friends and most trusted advisers ; yet hf> 
was sure in 1835 that, instead of being Nelson's and Lady Hamiln 


live together, and to have our dear little child with 

tis I love, never did love anyone else. I 

never had a dear pledge of love till you gave me 
one, and you, thank my God, never gave one to 
anybody else. I think before March is out you will 
either see us back, or so victorious that we shall 
insure a glorious issue to our toils. Think what 
my Emma will feel at seeing return safe, perhaps 
with a little more fame, her own dear loving Nel- 
son,' On the morrow, the writer added in a post- 
script : ' Kiss and bless our dear Horatia, think of 

It may cause the cynical peruser of this letter some 
trouble to decide, whether to be more amused by Lady 
Hamilton's audacity in telling Nelson that Horatia 
was her first-born child, or by the sailor's simplicity in 
believing the statement. 

Whilst misleading her partisans with false assevera- 

ton's daughter, Horatia was the daughter of a sailmaker named 
Thompson and his wife, Mrs. Thompson. Sir Thomas's story was 
minutely circumstantial, but on inquiry all the alleged circum- 
stances were found baseless. Knowing how completely Sir Thomas 
was at fault in his honest story, it is passing strange Sir Harris 
Nicolas trusted so entirely to the bare, and not circumstantial, 
statement of another of Nelson's confidential friends, Here is 
an example, how in these mystifying letters Nelson sometimes 
revealed what he meant to conceal. On the 3rd (?) of February, 
1801, he wrote with his own hand, * My dear Mrs. Thomson, your 
good and dear friend does not think it proper at present to write 
with his own hand, but he charges me to say how dear you are 

to him I have given Lord N. a hundred pounds this 

morning, for which he mil give Lady H. an order on his agents; and / 
beg that you will distribute it amongst those who have been useful 
to you on the late occasion. 7 To maintain the concealment he 
aimed at, Nelson, for the words here printed in Italics, should 
jfeave written, * He has given me .... I will give Lady H . . . . 
gj^jT agents .... he begs that you will distribute, &c. T 


tions and garbled papers to erroneous conclusions 
respecting her association with Nelson and Horatia's 
parentage, Lady Hamilton was careful to withhold 
from her dupes the remarkable letter, that would 
have shown them how they were being trifled with. 
Fortunately, however, she preserved the letter, which 
long after her death enabled Dr. Pettigrew to put 
Horatia's parentage beyond the pale of reasonable 

It should be observed that, though he left London 
for Plymouth within a fortnight or three weeks of 
Lady Hamilton's accouchement, Nelson did not sail 
for the Baltic without having seen his child. Slipping 
away from the fleet, Nelson posted to London, arriv- 
ing there on the 24th of February, 1801, and resting 
there for two days. The object of the flying visit 
was to see Lady Hamilton and to gaze upon her 
child. On the 2nd of March, 1801, he sailed from 
Spithead for Yarmouth and thence to the Baltic. 
Eight days later (10th of March) he wrote from sea 
to Lady Hamilton, * I have seen and talked much 
with Mrs. Thompson's friend. The fellow seems to 
eat my words, when I talk of her and his child. I 
have had, you know, the felicity of seeing it, and a 
finer child never was produced by any two persons. 
It was in truth a love-begotten child ! I am deter- 
mined to keep "him on board ; for I know, if they got 
together, they would soon have another. But after 
our two months* trip, I hope they will never be 
separated; and then let them do as they please.' 

Reproducing in his valuable, though fax from 
faultless, book one of the many droll misrepresenta- 


tiong, by which Lady Hamilton's indiscreet partisans 
thought in her later time to strengthen her claim to 
a public pension. Dr. Pettigrew in reference to the 
ex-ambassador's financial difficulties remarks, * Lady 
Hamilton absolutely sold her jewels at a great loss for 
his support, but Sir William fully relied upon the 
generosity of the British Government and nation to 
compensate Lady Hamilton for the great services she 
had been able to render her country.' The originators 
of the statement, that Lady Hamilton sold her jewels 
'for her husband's support,' of course meant to imply 
at the least that, but for this wifely sacrifice of her 
diamonds, Sh* William could not have lived in accord- 
ance with his quality. To the majority of readers, 
the words of course signified much more. That the 
recipient of a pension of 1,200 a-year and the owner 
of a landed estate, yielding a revenue sufficient for 
his dignified maintenance, was in no such urgent 
straits as the words suggest, there is no need to 
repeat. It is, however, true that Lady Hamilton 
parted with her jewels, for the prompter payment of 
the tradesmen,, who furnished the house (No. 23) in 
Piccadilly into which the Hamiltons moved, on 
leaving Mr. Beckford's Louse in Grosvenor Square. 
Aiming at a peerage, Sir William and Lady Hamilton 
concurred in thinking they ought to maintain the 
appearance of being able to support the dignity with 
adequate splendour, Intent on figuring as a person- 
age of the beau-monde, Lady Hamilton wished for a 
house in a fashionable quarter, where she could give 
grand dinners, brilliant routs, and concerts, that should 
be the talk of the town. To furnish such a house and 


pay the bills for famishing it. Sir William was for the 
moment unable. Having a prudent reluctance to 
buy plate and other furniture of London tradesmen 
on credit terms, he hesitated to set up the establish- 
ment his wife desired to have, until he could do so 
-without running further into debt. Under these cir- 
cumstances Lady Hamilton, not for her husband's 
support, but in order that she might have her town- 
house without delay, offered to sell her diamonds for 
money, that should be expended on the needful 
'furniture, plate, et cetera.' 

How about the t great loss ' she is represented to 
have sustained through thus parting with her dia- 
monds? Probably the jewels were sold for less than 
the sum at which Lady Hamilton valued them. On 
selling their jewels, ladies seldom get a price equal to 
their expectations. But certainly Sir William Hamil- 
ton's wife lost nothing by her contribution to the 
charges of setting up the new establishment ; for, to 
compensate her for the loss of her diamonds, Sir Wil- 
liam on the 4th of February, 1801, executed a deed, 
by which he conveyed and assigned all c the plate 
linen china glass furniture ornaments pictures paintings 
and household goods of every kind now standing and 
being in or about the capital messuage or mansion- 
house of him the said Sir William Hamilton situate at 
and being in Piccadilly * to Alexander Davison of St. 
James's Square, co. Middlesex, esq, In Trust to hold 
the same during the joint lives of Sir William and 
his wife Dame Emma Hamilton, and, in case Sir 
William should pre-decease his said wife, immediately 
on his death to convey the same chattels, &c., or such 


of them as should remain In the hands of Sir William 
Hamilton at the time of his death, absolutely to the 
use of the same Dame Emma ; And also In Trust to 
allow the said Dame Emma Hamilton during the 
joint lives of herself and her husband * to hold use 
enjoy or dispose of the articles and other premises 
hereby assigned or expressed by her last -will or 
testament &c./ or during her said husband's life to 
dispose of the same chattels * to the end and intent 
and so that the same may be wholly free from the 
engagement or controul of the said Sir William Hamil- 
ton and to all effects and constructions whatsoever 
be the separate exclusive and peculiar property of 
the said Dame Emma Hamilton. 5 Thus Lady Hamil- 
ton, in compensation for her diamonds, obtained the 
largest and most complete property she, as a married 
woman, could acquire, not only in the plate, furniture, 
&c., bought with the money obtained by the sale of 
the same jewels, but also in the whole of the other 
furniture of the house, including the * ornaments 
pictures and paintings,' that were a part of her hus- 
band's valuable collection of works of art, Thus, far 
from sustaining any loss through her magnanimous 
surrender of her diamonds * for her husband's sup- 
port,' she acquired several thousand pounds* worth of 
ornaments, pictures and paintings, &c., in addition to 
all the things bought with the diamonds. On such 
terms many ladies with diamonds would be well 
pleased to sell them. 

That Nelson encouraged Lady Hamilton to speak 
of the sale of her diamonds as a noble example of 
wifely self-sacrifice, or at least fell in with her 


humour of so describing it, appears from a letter he 
wrote to her from the Downs, on the 31st of August, 
1801, on hearing that she and her husband thought 
of going for rural retirement to a place, which the 
Duke of Queensberry (one of Sir William's powerful 
kinsmen) had put at their service. fi If,' wrote the 
Admiral, 'you were to take the Duke's house, a cake 
house, open to everybody he pleases, you had better 
have a booth at once; you never could rest one 
moment quiet. Why did not the Duke assist Sir 
William, when he wanted assistance ? why not have 
saved you from the distress, which Sir William, must 
every day feel, in knowing that his excellent wife 
sold her jewels to get him a house f As Nelson 
could write thus of Lady Hamilton's action in selling 
her diamonds to get a house for her husband, it is 
not surprising that, in later time, persons less accur- 
ately informed about the business wrote of her, as 
having supported her husband by selling her personal 

Sir William and Lady Hamilton, having taken 
possession of their home in Piccadilly no long while 
before little Horatia raised her first thin, sharp wail 
in this world, they did not let many weeks elapse 
before sending cards to their friends for a house- 
warming. Other entertainments followed in quick 
succession, dinners for those of their acquaintances 
who cared chiefly for the enjoyments of the table, 
and concerts for the lovers of music. To Nelson 
at Bea it was a matter for astonishment, and even 
for protest, that his friends, who a few weeks before 
had been complaining of their poverty, entered so 


alertly on a way of living, that seemed likely to 
exceed their assured income. That in her corre- 
spondence with the hero on the deep, Lady Hamilton 
attributed the prodigality of her domestic arrange- 
ments to her husband's disposition, appears from a 
passage of the letter which Nelson dated to her on 
the 10th of March, 1801, when little Horatia had 
been little more than a month in Nurse Gibson's 
keeping. 'What/ wrote the Admiral, *can Sir 
William mean by wanting you to launch out into 
expense and extravagance ? He that used to think 
a little candle-light and iced water would ruin him, 
to want to set off at 10,000 a-year, for a less sum. 
would not afford concerts and the style of living 
equal to it ! Suppose you had set off in this way, 
what would he not have said ?' Obviously, it had 
not occurred to the simple and unsuspicious sailor, 
that his adorable Lady Hamilton was in some degree 
accountable for the extravagance which he discom- 
mended, and that the concerts were given quite as 
much for the gratification of the lady, who liked to sing 
with the vocalists of the opera-house, as for the pleasure 
of her husband. Still it may be admitted that, for 
the moment, and indeed for the whole of that season, 
Sir William was more disposed to stimulate than to 
check his wife's taste for display and gaiety. As 
she had spent her diamonds in fitting the house, he 
thought it only fair that she should have the pleasure 
of filling her rooms with brave company. Playing 
for the Hamilton-Beckford peerage and a pension 
of two thousand a-year, the superannuated diplo- 
matist conceived his chance of winning the double 


prize would be heightened by ostentations hospi- 
tality. Moreover, the season -was still in its youth, 
when he was put in financial ease by a good sale 
of pictures. ; I am glad to hear/ Nelson wrote from 
sea to his child's mother, on the llth of April, 1801, 
' that Sir William's pictures sold so well, but believe 
me, before I would have sold a picture of you, I 
would have starved. I wonder Sir William could do 
it.' Could the pictures have been sold to advantage 
a few months earlier, Lady Hamilton would not have 
parted with her diamonds. 

With her house in Piccadilly, her carriage and 
horses (she and Sir William each had a carriage), 
her numerous servants, her dinner-parties and musical 
parties, Lady Hamilton lived throughout the Lon- 
don season of 1801 in a style of show and luxury, 
affording a noteworthy contrast to the quiet and 
economical life she led in Edgware Road, when she 
was Romney's idolized model. As she had displayed 
her diamonds in London and at Fonthill before she 
parted with them, society had occasion to remark 
on the disappearance of the ornaments, unless she 
condescended to wear paste in lieu of the gems 
that had been converted into plate and furniture. 
Anyhow, with paste or without it, she made a bril- 
liant figure in the world of fashion, though, with 
her diminished elegance and impaired charms, she 
cannot be conceived to have caused such sensation, 
as her beauty and accomplishments occasioned the 
town in the year of her marriage. 

That people of the highest fashion and unimpeach- 
able character went to her entertainments, notwith- 


standing all that was whispered and muttered to her 
discredit, will surprise few readers who bear in mind 
how much more tolerant English society was of 
libertinism eighty years since, than it is at the present 
time. Moreover, though Lady Hamilton's relation 
to Nelson was freely talked about, people could still 
believe it compatible with wifely duty. Sir William 
and Lady Hamilton were not only still living to- 
gether, but in their bearing to one another seemed 
to be animated by strong mutual affection. It was 
averred that the nature of Nelson's regard for and his 
association with the lady could not be unknown to 
her husband, who was not a man to be suspected 
of conniving at his own dishonour. Of Horatia's 
birth and Lady Hamilton's visits to Nurse Gibson's 
abode, the world knew no more than Sir William 
Hamilton. Beyond the narrow circle of Nelson's 
nearest relatives, and Lady Nelson's closest friends, 
it was not known that he and she had parted com- 
pany ; and even in that circle, the rupture was pro- 
bably regarded as a transient severance. Nelson's 
brother, a clergyman of whom no one at that time 
spoke evil, was a frequent visitor at Lady Hamilton's 
house, whilst his wife, the bright, clever little wo- 
man, who had everyone's good word, maintained 
the friendliest relations with Lady Nelson on the one 
hand, and with Lady Hamilton on the other. It was 
asked, whether it was likely that this clergyman's 
wife would leave her daughter for weeks at a time 
in Piccadilly with a woman, wliom she suspected of 
intriguing guiltily with her husband's famous brother 1 
Moreover, though they were known to live aJFec- 


tionately with Lady Nelson, the Admiral's married 
sisters (Mrs. Bolton and Mrs. Matcham) showed Lady 
Hamilton every mark of respect. No doubt. Lady 
Nelson was jealous, and not without cause, of the 
famous Beauty, and had been so foolish as to show 
her jealousy to the world. Goose enough to faint 
at the theatre, she had sulked in Arlington Street 
throughout the Christmas holidays, instead of going to 
Fonthill for the revels. Apart from Lady Nelson's 
jealousy, and a few facts that rendered it a -natural 
and excusable state of feeling, there was literally no 
evidence that old Sir William Hamilton was a base 
and contemptible creature. It would be time to 
look more closely into, and think more gravely of this 
quarrel of two women, when Lady Nelson should 
take proceedings for a divorce. Whilst it was possi- 
ble for people to take, or affect to take, this view of 
the Nelson scandal, it is not surprising that ladies of 
high degree (who had in former times been civilly 
treated by Sir William Hamilton in Italy) and the 
great peers and other august personages of the 
Hamilton connection, and the high official people 
who had long liked the ambassador, and the naval 
people who wished to stand well with the Admiral, 
and the Mayfair idlers of both sexes, with a natural 
taste for c being in the swim ' of the season's festivity, 
thronged Lady Hamilton's salons, whenever she threw 
them open. 

But whilst the majority of the leau-monde& 
majority consisting chiefly of the most frivolous and 
least scrupulous members of the coteries of fashion 
saw no harm in going to Lady Hamilton's house, a 


minority (not a small one) of the same polite circles 
studiously held aloof from the adventuress. Persons 
wishing to stand well with the Queen, of course kept 
away from the lady, whom Her Majesty had resolved 
never to recognise ; and those prudent and timid 
persons comprised not a few individuals of both sexes, 
whom Lady Hamilton was especially desirous of 
numbering amongst her acquaintance. But for their 
disdainful neglect. Lady Hamilton was consoled by 
the civilities paid her by Princes of the royal family. 

The season of 1801 was at its height when, on the 
28th of May, Sir William Hamilton made the will 
(proved after the testator's decease by the sole 
executor, Mr. Charles Greville) by which he be- 
queathed an immediate legacy of 300 to Lady 
Hamilton, and an immediate legacy of 100 to Mrs. 
Cadogan, and further assigned to Lady Hamilton an 
annuity of 800 for the term of her life, secured to 
her on the revenue of Welsh estate, and a contingent 
annuity for life of 100 to Mrs. Cadogan, secured to 
her on the same revenue, in case she should survive 
Lady Hamilton, to whom the aforementioned 800 
per annum was bequeathed * in confidence that she 
will during her life provide for her mother as also ia 
full satisfaction and in bar of any right title or inter- 
est she may have or claim in or out of ' the testator's 
6 real estates or any part thereof by way of Dower or 
Free Bench or otherwise.' On the 8th of March, 
1803, when he was nearing his end, Sir William 
Hamilton appended to this will a codicil, whereby he 
raised the immediate legacy to his widow from 300 
to 800, and further bequeathed a portrait of Lady 


Hamilton and two guns to Lord Nelson, in e token ' 
(to transcribe the words of the codicil) c of the great 
regard I have for his Lordship the most virtuous 
loyal and truly brave character I ever met with 
God bless him and shame fall on those who will not 
say Amen.' 

On his return from the Baltic with enhanced glory, 
at the close of the London season through which 
Lady Hamilton had * supported her husband ' with 
her diamonds, Nelson hastened from Great Yarmouth 
(where he landed) to 23, Piccadilly, which he regard- 
ed as his London home to the end of Sir William 
Hamilton's days. But the re-united friends were in 
no humour to pass in a hot and deserted town the 
few weeks Nelson could spend on shore. Running 
to the country. Nelson rested for a few days in the 
soothing quietude and delightful scenery of Box Hill 
with Ms clerical brother and Mrs. Nelson, their son 
and daughter, Sir William and Lady Hamilton, and 
* brave little Parker' (Captain Parker, E.N.) soon to 
lose his life in the defence of his country. A few 
days later, the party of eight, with their carriages and 
servants, had taken possession of the Bush Inn at 
Staines, where Sir William found congenial sport in 
angling, whilst his companions loitered in the garden 
and took drives in the pleasant country. The holiday 
was soon over: for, on the 26th of July, 1801, the 
Lords of the Admiralty despatched Nelson to provide 
for the safety of the mouths of the Thames and Med- 
way, see to the defences of the coast from Beachy 
Head to Orfordness, and counteract the measures 
that were being taken by the French for a naval ex- 


p edition against England. On the following day 
(the 27th of July) Nelson wrote from Sheerness to 
Lady Hamilton, describing his condition in the brief 
postscript c A little tired.' 

One consequence of the brief rural vacation was Is el- 
son's determination to have a house, that should be the 
country home of himself and his two friends, whilst he 
made their Piccadilly mansion his place of abode in 
town. Instructed to discover a dwelling suitable to 
his means and purpose in the neighbourhood of Lon- 
don, Lady Hamilton accepted the commission with 
delight, and spent the next three weeks in driving 
from one suburban neighbourhood, in search of a fit 
resting-place for her hero. At one time she thought 
of making him a householder of Turnham Green. A 
few days later she was thinking of a place at Chis- 
wick. Had she spent three years in house-hunting, 
she could not have made a happier choice than II er- 
ton Place, co. Surrey a cheery, well-built, homely 
villa, skirted with shrubberies, nestled In finely- 
timbered paddocks, and within an easy drive from 
Hyde Park Corner. A house to take the fancy of a 
wealthy banker indifferent to display, it was a place 
that could be maintained well and liberally on 1,500 
or 2,000 a-year, as money went at the beginning of 
the century. c My dearest Friend,' Nelson wrote 
from the Downs to his agent, on the 20th of August, 
1801, who certainly in this business justified his con- 
fidence in her discretion, * I approve of the house at 
Merton/ Liking the place from her account of it, 
he delighted in it, when he saw it for the first time 
on the 22nd of October, 1801. When the Hamiltons 


went to Deal, where they stayed with Nelson from a 
late day of August to the 21st of September, 1801, a 
chief purpose of the journey was to confer with the 
proprietor of Merton Place on questions, touching the 
improvement, furnishing, and equipment of the resi- 
dence which he had bought on Lady Hamilton's report, 
without having seen it. In October the Hamiltons 
went to llerton to welcome their hero to his modest 
estate. On the 16th of that month, Sir William 
Hamilton wrote from the house so pleasantly and in 
some respects BO sadly associated with the Admiral's 

<MY DEAR LORD, We have now inhabited your Lord- 
ship's premises some days, and I can now speak with some 
certainty. I have lived with dear Emma several years. I 
know her merit, have a great opinion of the head and heart 
that God Almighty has been pleased to give her, but a sea- 
man alone could have given woman full power to choose and 
ft up a residence for Mm without seeing it himself. You 
are in luck, for in my conscience, I very believe that a place 
so suitable to your views could not have been found, and at 
so cheap a rate : for if you stay away three days longer, I do 
not think you can have any wish but you will find it com- 
pleted here ; and then the bargain was fortunately struck 
three days before the idea of peace got abroad. Now every 
-estate in this neighbourhood has increased in value, and you 
might get a thousand pounds to-morrow for your bargain .... 
It would make you laugh to see Emma and her mother fitting 
up pigstyes and hencoops, and already the canal is enlivened 
with ducks, and the cock is strutting with his hens about the 
walks. Your Lordship's plan as to stocking the canal with 
fish is exactly mine, and I will answer for it that in a few 
months you may command a good dish of fish at a moment's 

(Vide PetfcigreVs < Life of Nelson,' v. ii, pp. 224-5.) 

This was the home, in which Nelson passed the 


greater part of the term he spent on shore from the 
22nd of October, 1801, to the 18th of Hay, 1803, 
the longest period of repose he enjoyed after going 
to the Mediterranean in 1793. It was the home, 
where he uttered his last adieu to Lady Hamilton 
after visiting the bed-room of little Horatia, and on 
his knees praying the Almighty to protect and bless 
the sleeping child. It was the home he rendered 
historic, though the whole time he actually spent in 
it was considerably less than a year and half. 




Now and Then Lady Hamilton's Deterioration Her Influence 
over Kelson Circumstances favourable to her Sway Terms 
of Nelson's Absence from her Times of their Personal Com- 
panionship Relinquishment of the Project for the Hamilton- 
Beckford Peerage The Nelsons and Hamiltons at Oxford 
Ducal Discourtesy The Tour to Wales A Progress through 
Celebrations Blenheim put to the Blush Rejoicings at 
Milford Haven Lady Hamilton's pecuniary Extravagance 
Arrangement for paying her Debts Bickerings at Merton 
and Squabbles in Piccadilly Sir William Hamilton's Dis- 
satisfaction -with his Wife Their frequent Altercations 
He thinks of separating from Her Their Reconciliation 
Sir William's Illness and Death l The forlorn Emma' - 
Nelson's Departure for the Mediterranean Station Horatia's 

1803 A.D. 

DIFFERING- greatly In personal appearance from the 
Emma of Edgware Koad, Lady Hamilton of 23, Pic- 
cadilly differed also in morals from Mr. Greville's 
proUgie ; and it cannot be said that the change in 
character, taste, and habits was to the advantage of 
the lady of fashion, celebrity, and equivocal position, 
who had sold her diamonds for the better decoration 
and equipment of her reception-rooms. The veriest 
angel of a woman would have lost something of her 
goodness in the atmosphere the Signora Hart breathed, 


and in the society of the men and women, with whom 
Lady Hamilton consorted for some fourteen years in 
Southern Italy. As the Younger Pliny's mistress 
was at the best a faulty creature, whose girlhood had 
been reprehensible for worse faults than wildness, it 
is not wonderful that the Elder Pliny's wife returned 
from long residence in a luxurious court a distinctly 
deteriorated woman. Less to her shame than to the 
reproach of those who depraved her, it must be 
recorded that in 1800 she had survived her finest 
moral graces, as well as the subtler charms of her 
personal loveliest. 

So careless in Edgware Road for her material interests, 
that Mr. Greville declared her absolutely indifferent 
to them, she returned to England with a hunger for 
money and the pleasures it could purchase, and with 
a fierce resolve to have her desire. In her earlier 
time, so precisely exact and punctiliously honourable 
in her pecuniary dealings, that Mr. Greville com- 
mended her for being nicely conscientious and pre- 
cisely exact in such matters, the adventuress of 23, 
Piccadilly, had completely outlived her old reluctance 
to incur debts, without having a reasonable prospect 
of paying them punctually. Content in her old, but 
still not so very far away, Paddington time with 
simple food for the satisfaction of her healthily eager 
appetite, she had been so trained and petted into 
epicureanism as to have become an habitual gourmande. 
Never in that former time desiring stronger beverages 
than water, tea, and mild table-ale, the fine lady of 
Piccadilly drank wine daily up to the very boundary 
line of intemperance, causing the ladies of her ac- 


quaintance to open their eyes with astonishment at 
her thirst for and delight in champagne. Happy, in 
those not very remote years, to spend her tranquil 
time in. attending to the simple matters of her house, 
and pursuing her musical studies, when she was not 
chatting with Mr. Greville or sitting to E-omney, the 
Lady Hamilton, whose friendship for Nelson had set 
countless tongues talking, was possessed by an in- 
cessant and insatiable craving for gaiety and dissipa- 
tion. Truthful as sunlight so long as she had lived hard 
by Paddington Green, she was incapable of telling a 
fib even to escape Mr. Greville's displeasure. In the 
main, Lady Hamilton was still truthful. That is to 
say, she was still as frank, open, and sincere, as the 
charming naturalness of her manner declared her, 
when she had no temptation to be otherwise. But 
when they were likely to serve her purpose the 
great lady, whose house stood in Piccadilly, told 
fibs without compunction, and told them so cleverly 
that people believed them and persisted in extolling 
her candour and genuineness, notwithstanding all that 
was said against her. Deceiving her husband habitual- 
ly, she sometimes practised on Nelson's credulity. An 
honest mistress when she went to Italy in the spring of 
1786, she returned to England in 1800 a faithless wife. 
It may be asked by readers, how it was that so 
faulty a woman held for several years the confidence 
of so good a man as Nelson ? It is not difficult to 
answer the question. Nelson was less enamoured of 
what she was than of what he imagined her to be. 
It is in the nature qf a generous and romantic lover to 
value his mistress chiefly for the qualities his fancy 


attributes to her. Were it not so, poets and novelists 
would have less to say of love's illusions. Several 
forces combined with love to make Nelson exagger- 
ate his Emma's good traits, and to blind him to her 
failings. His desire to justify to his own conscience 
the homage he rendered her, incited him to multiply 
and magnify her titles to his devotion. Mannish 
pugnacity against the wife, who had withdrawn her- 
self from his control, confirmed him in his admiration 
of the woman she held in aversion. It was the 
easier for him to persist in idolizing Lady Hamilton, 
because she was cognisant and nicely studious of his 
conception of her nature, and in her desire to main- 
tain her influence over him, was at infinite pains to 
speak and act in accordance with his opinion of her. 
In feeding his idolatry with false appearances, she was 
aided by her sympathetic temperament and her nice 
discernment of his misapprehensions respecting her. 
She was also assisted by the charming naturalness of 
her manner. Showing him so much of her true self 
as would contribute to his enthralment, she kept Mm 
in ignorance of those of her failings, that were likely 
to lower her in his regard. Notwithstanding his close 
intimacy with the Hamiltons, Nelson was imperfectly 
acquainted with the woman who made him believe 
Horatia was her first-born child. Had he known in 
the summer of 1801, all that the readers of this 
work know of Lady Hamilton's career up to that 
time, it may be questioned whether he would have 
bought Merton Place. 

Moreover, it should be borne in mind that, though 
it endured to the moment of his death. Lady Hamil- 


ton's sway over Nelson was of no long duration. 
On the 13th of January, 1801, the day of his de- 
parture for sea immediately after Lady Nelson's 
withdrawal from him. Nelson was within four years and 
ten months (to speak exactly, four years, nine months, 
two weeks and a day) of his death. Had he passed 
this time (a considerably shorter period than the time 
he and Fanny Nisbet lived together in Norfolk) in 
conjugal domestication with Lady Hamilton, Nelson 
would have had better opportunities of forming a 
just estimate of her character than circumstances al- 
lowed the sailor, who was absent from her for nearly 
two-thirds of the four years and ten months. He saw 
nothing of her from the 13th of January to the 3rd 
of July, 1801 (five months and three weeks), from 
26th of July to about the 26th of August, 1801 (one 
month), from the 21st of September to the 22nd of 
October, 1801 (one month), from the 18th of May, 
1803, to the 20th of August, 1805 (two years and 
three months), from the 13th of September to his 
death (five weeks). Thus he was away from her for 
three years of the brief time of their association, sub- 
sequent to his severance from Lady Nelson. The 
terms of his personal companionship with Lady 
Hamilton between the 13th of January, 1801, and the 
hour of his death on the 21st of October, 1805, were : 

Tear Months Weeks Days 

3rd July to 26th July, 1801 3 . 2 

26th August, to 2] st September, 1801 . ...*." 3.5 
22nd October, 1801, to 18th May r 1803 .1.6. 3.5 
20th August to 13th September, 1805 3.3 

Year 1.9. 2 . 1 


The whole of the time they spent together cannot 
have exceeded one year, nine months, and fifteen 
days. Necessarily it was much less, for Nelson's en- 
gagements when he was on shore required him to be 
sometimes absent from the woman whose society was 
his chief source of pleasure ; and till the 6th of April, 
1803, (the day of Sir William Hamilton's death, which 
took place only thirty-two days before Nelson went 
off to sea for two years and three months) Lady Hamil- 
ton's domestic and social obligations precluded her, 
from spending so much time in Nelson's company, as 
fche could have spent with him had he been her husband. 

During his stay on shore from the 22nd of October, 
1801, to the 18th of May, 1803 (the only long term of 
companionship they had in England), Nelson had the 
fewer opportunities for studying his Emma's character, 
and getting beneath the fair show of her amiable 
demeanour, because they were always in the society 
of other people, whether they were living in Picca- 
dilly, or enjoying the green trees of Merton, or travel- 
ling about the country. During the season of 1802, 
life went at 23, Piccadilly, very much as life had gone 
there in the previous season, dinner-parties, routs 
and concerts following one another in quick succes- 
sion. The house was seldom without staying visi- 
tors ; so that poor old Sir William, who longed for 
quietude, had cause to murmur querulously that his 
home was like an inn, and that the party at his 
dinner-table seldom numbered less than twelve or 
fourteen persons. At Merton Place there was the 
same sort of open house for visitors from London, 
though Nelson would fain have had fewer guests, less 


racketting, and lower weekly bills. Living with the 
Hamiltons in this way. Nelson found in Lady Hamil- 
ton a delightfully complaisant and entertaining 
hostess, even as he had found her an always charm- 
ing companion at Naples and Palermo. But his at- 
tachment to her and admiration of her were never tried 
and tested as they would have been, had they lived 
together, as he lived with Fanny Nisbet in the Nor- 
folk parsonage house, in mutual dependence on one 
another for daily contentment and hourly diversion. 

That Lady Hamilton hoped and schemed to com- 
pass a grant to the Hamilton-Beckford peerage till 
the summer of 1802, readers have already been told. 
But if she persisted till the end of the year in longing 
and pulling strings for the realization of the fantastic 
project, she can scarcely have been encouraged in the 
persistence by her husband, who certainly surrendered 
all hope in July, 1802. of winning the two thousand 
a-year from Mr. Beckford's exchequer. The terms, 
in which the Marquis of Douglas declined to raise so 
much as a finger in furtherance of the droll enter- 
prise, must have made Sir William Hamilton regret 
having opened his mind to the Marquis on the affair, 
and may be assumed to have convinced the Fonthill 
millionaire that, if he tried to enter the House of 
Lords, he would not do so by clinging to his cousin's 
coat-tails and Lady Hamilton's skirts. 

The month (July, 1802), that saw Mr. Pebbles in 
conference with Nelson and Sir William Hamilton 
about the peerage that was never granted, was also 
the month in which the Nelsons and Hamiltons (viz. 
Lord Nelson, Sir William and Lady Hamilton, and 


the Reverend Dr. Nelson with Ms bright little wife 
and son) started for the tour, that opened "with the 
visit to Oxford, where Nelson was made a Freeman 
of the city and a D.C.L. of the university, the same 
academic honour being at the same time bestowed 
on Sir William Hamilton. Before bidding Alma Mater 
farewell, the tourists (who had been joined at Oxford 
by Nelson's sister Mrs. Matcham, with her husband 
and son) made the excursion to Blenheim, that ex- 
posed them to a slight from the Duke of Marlborough, 
who (possibly because the ducal ladies had a dis- 
inclination to make Lady Hamilton's acquaintance), 
instead of welcoming the party to luncheon within 
the palace, sent to them in the park the refreshments, 
of which they declined to partake. From the scene 
of this rebuff, which has been attributed to the Duke's 
shyness, the tour was successful and triumphal to its 
last hour. Journeying from Oxford to Gloucester 
(where the Matchams went off by themselves to Bath), 
from Gloucester musical with multitudinous bells to 
Ross, thence to Monmouth by the river Wye, from 
Monmouth to Brecon, from Brecon to Milford, from 
Milford to Haverfordwest, from Haverfordwest to 
Swansea, from Swansea back to Monmouth, thence to 
Ross, from Ross to Hereford, from Hereford to Lud- 
low, from Ludlow to Worcester, and homeward by 
Birmingham, Warwick, and Coventry to the hero's 
home in Surrey, they travelled through a land, whose 
one object seemed to be the fit and affectionate treat- 
ment of the beloved admiral. Wherever they went, 
the cathedrals and churches rang out their joy 
wildly and well. At every point where they passed 


from one shire to another, they were received by a 
fresh escort of yeomanry. What with militia and 
volunteers, all England seemed set on presenting 
arms in the Admiral's honour. As he and his party 
went upon the Wye, they passed through banks lined 
with spectators, and resonant with feux de joie^ and 
the airs of " God save the King ' and e Rule Britannia/ 
in the towns the populace went mad with delight at 
gazing at him. Cheering him loudly, they drew his 
carriage through streets spanned by triumphal arches. 
So many Corporations feasted and glorified him, that 
ere he returned to Merton on the 5th of September, 
his horses suffered from the weight of the municipal 
* Freedoms in Boxes/ that were given him during the 
tour* At Birmingham, where he went to the theatre, 
medals were struck to commemorate his visit, and 
his carriage was escorted from the play-house by a 
multitude of torch-bearers. Whilst city and borough, 
market-town and hamlet celebrated his heroic worth 
in this enthusiastic fashion, all the great county- 
houses along his route put Blenheim to the blush, by 
proffering hospitality to the chieftain and his fellow- 

The chief purpose of the Welsh trip being to in- 
spect the works, which Mr. Charles Greville had been 
carrying out, during the last ten years, under parlia- 
mentary authorization, for the improvement of the 
harbour and development of his uncle's Welsh estate, 
there were grand rejoicings at Milford-Haven on the 
1st of August, which, as the anniversary of the Battle 
of the Nile, was chosen for the principal day of the 
local fete. To render honour to Nelson, and celebrate 


Sir William Hamilton's re-appearance amongst friends 
and dependents, whom he had not seen for many 
years, Mr. Charles Grevflle had invited the chief 
people of Pembrokeshire to the great dinner, at 
which the victor of Aboukir made a speech that called 
attention to the magnificence of the harbour, and 
Lady Hamilton was attended worshipfnlly by the 
three men, who were so strangely associated by her 

That Lady Hamilton's personal expenses had for 
some time considerably exceeded her quarterly allow- 
ance of 50, for her own and her mother's strictly 
personal needs, appears from the fact that, soon 
after her return from Merton, she was under the 
necessity of speaking to her husband about her 
debts, and confessing that they amounted to 700. 
If this admission was a complete and unreserved 
confession of her liabilities to tradesmen, the lady 
of fashion may perhaps be deemed guiltless of egre- 
gious prodigality during the twenty-one months, in 
which the debts seem to have been contracted. If 
Lady Blessington was right in thinking it impossible 
for a lady to dress, like a gentlewoman, on 800 
a-year, unless she exercised nice and vigilant economy 
in every department of her personal expenditure, 
Lady Hamilton is not to be severely blamed for 
spending 600 a-year on her own and her mother's 
dress and casual requirements. Still it cannot be 
denied that the gentlewoman, who in seven succes- 
sive quarters outran her quarterly income of 50 
by so much as 100 a-quarter, was something less 
watchful over her expenditure -than she should have 


been, and iniglit even be said to have entered boldly 
on the straightest and easiest course to financial 
rain. That from the time of her return from foreign 
parts, in November 1800, to the summer of 1802, she 
spent at least 600 for every 200 she should have 
spent, will enable readers to account in some degree 
for the involvements that, within a few years of 
Nelson's death, lodged her in King's Bench prison. 

Accepting his wife's confession, and answering her 
prayer for financial relief with his usual kindness, 
Sir William gave her an order on Coutts's for 120, 
and promised to pay the other 580 gradually, as 
the tradesmen sent in their bills and pressed for 
payment. Subsequently, in December, 1802, when 
her balance with Thomas Coutts and Co. had fallen 
to twelve shillings and elevenpence, he gave her 
farther credit on his bankers for 130. Something 
more than three months later (31st of March, 1803) 
and little less than a week before his death, he 
directed his executor, in the already mentioned 
codicil to his will, to pay to her, in fulfilment of 
his promise to put her out of debt, the remaining 
450 out of the arrears due to his estate from the 
Treasury of the King's Minister at Naples/ 

Could he do so without a sacrifice of the pre- 
cise veracity that should always distinguish a 
personal historian, the present waiter would gladly 
countenance and support all the pleasant things that 
have been written about the harmony, that to the 
last attended the domestic association of Nelson and 
the Hamilton^. But, unfortunately, it stands out in 
extant documents that, however agreeable it may 


have been to the Admiral, and also to Lady Hamil- 
ton, in so far as her relations with Nelson were con- 
cerned, the curious association was much less fruitful 
of contentment to Sir William Hamilton than readers 
have been led to imagine. Upon the whole, the 
ex-ambassador was far from happy and at his ease 
in the joint-establishment. Soon after it became 
Nelson's town residence, Sir William began to fret 
at being something less than the master of 23, Picca- 
dilly ; and, though he did his best to feel at home 
in his friend's Surrey villa, he was not restful at 
Merton Place, after ceasing to be nothing more than 
a guest under its roof. Without ever questioning 
the purity of his friend's attachment to Lady Hamil- 
ton, the veteran saw with pain how much more con- 
cern she had for the Admiral's interest at Merton, 
than for her husband's interest at 23, Piccadilly. 
Acutely sensitive of the social disesteem and suspicion, 
which he knew himself to have provoked by acquies- 
cence in a domestic arrangement, that necessarily 
quickened the scandalous chatter about his wife's 
attachment to Nelson, he was at times nettled to 
fury by the questions and hints of busybodies, who 
thought it c only right, you know, to let the old 
man understand what people were saying, you know/ 
His position was the more painful and humiliating, 
because in proportion as he had more need of his 
wife's tenderness and sympathy, she became, or at 
least seemed to him to become, less considerate of 
liis feelings. Whether the trio were in Piccadilly or 
at Merton, the veteran soon felt himself a burden and 
a source of embarrassment to his companions. 


Under these circumstances, it is not surprising 
that the whilom cheery and light-hearted old. man 
grew dejected, fretful, peevish, and at times querul- 
ously exacting towards his wife ; and that, instead 
of humouring him out of his ill-humour, and tenderly 
bantering him into brighter spirits, the always quick- 
tempered Emma answered him waspishly, when he 
worried her by his petulance, or wounded her by 
his gloom. In their altercations there was, of course, 
fault on both sides. If there were materials for 
judging between them, the trouble of forming the 
judgment would be bootless. It is enough to know 
the altercations became so frequent and bitter, that 
the angry husband thought seriously of withdrawing 
from an association, so fruitful of bitterness and con- 
tention. The two had gone far towards rupture, 
when Sir William Hamilton wrote this curious paper, 
and put it where it would be sure to come under her 
notice : 

' I have passed the last 40 years of my life in the hurry 
and bustle that must necessarily be attendant on a Publick 
character. I am arrived at the age when some repose is realy 
necessary, and I promised myself a quiet home, altho' 
I was sensible, and said so when I married, that I shou'd be 
superannuated, when my wife wou'd be in her full beauty 
and vigour of youth. That time is arrived, and we must 
make the best of it for the comfort of both parties. Un- 
fortunately, our tastes as to the manner of living are very 
different. I by no means wish to live in solitary retreat ; 
but to have seldom less than 12 and 14 at Table, and those 
varying continually, is coming back to what was become 
so irksome to me in Italy, during the latter years of my 
residence in that country. I have no connections out of 
my own family. I have no complaint to make, but I feel 
that the whole attention of my wife is given to Lori Nelson 


and his interest at Merton. I well know the purity of Lord 
Nelson's friendship for Emma and me. And I know how 
very uncomfortable it wou'd make his Lordship, our best 
Friend, if a separation shou'd take place, and am therefore 
determined to do all in my power to prevent such an. 
extremity, which wou'd be essentially detrimental to all 
parties, but wou'd he more sensibly felt by our dear Friend 
than by us. Provided that our expenses and housekeeping 
do not encrease beyond measure (of which, I must own, 
I see some danger), I am willing to go on upon our present 
footing ; but, as I cannot expect to live many years, every 
moment to me is precious, and I hope I may be allowed 
sometimes to be my own master, and pass my time accord- 
ing to my own inclination, either by going [with] my fish- 
ing-parties on the Thames, or by going to London to attend 
the Museum, Boyal Society, the Tuesday Club, and Auctions 
of pictures. I mean to have a light chariot or post-chaise 
by the month that I may make use of in London, and run 
backwards and forwards to Merton or to Shepperton, &c. 
This is my plan, and we might go on very well, but I am 
fully determined not to have more of the silly altercations, 
that happen too often between us, and embitter the present 
moments exceedingly. If really we cannot live comfortably 
together, a wise and well-concerted separation is preferable, 
but I think, considering the probability of my not troubling 
any party long in this world, the best for all wou'd be to 
bear those ills we have rather than fly to those we know 
not of, I have fairly stated what I have on my mind, 
there is no time for nonsense or trifling. I know and admire 
your talents, and many excellent qualities, but I am not 
blind to your defects, and I confess having many myself. 
Therefore let us bear and forbear 

* For G-od's Sake/ 

On discovering that tor aged and failing husband 
was capable of separating from her, should she per- 
sist in giving Him what he deemed just cause for 
serious displeasure, Lady Hamilton may well have 
determined., by timely amendment of demeanour, to 


prevent him from taking a step which, as he justly 
observed, could not fail to be painful to Nelson and 
hurtful to her reputation. If she hesitated to make 
this prudent resolve till she had consulted Nelson, 
one may be sure his influence was exerted on the 
side of propriety, friendly feeling, and wifely duty. 
Probably, he was neither consulted on the matter, 
nor informed of the degree to which she had incensed 
-Sir William Hamilton. Anyhow, the dissension of 
ihe husband and wife closed in mutual reconciliation. 
This happy adjustment of differences was followed 
at no long interval by the death of Sir William 
Hamilton, who, in his dying illness, received both 
irom his wife and his friend the last and saddest 
services of affection. Nelson sate by the side of his 
dying friend throughout the last six nights of his 
mortal illness ; and when the old man yielded his last 
breath, at 10.10 a.m. of the 6th of April, 1803, his 
pillow was supported by his wife, and his right hand 
was held by the seaman, who, in the course of the 
day, wrote to the Duke of Clarence, c My dear friend 
Sir William Hamilton died this morning : the world 
never, never lost a more upright and accomplished 
gentleman.' Dying in ignorance of Horatia's birth, 
and in unshaken confidence that Nelson's friendship 
for Lady Hamilton was a platonic attachment, Sir 
William Hamilton persisted to the last in honouring 
Nelson as * the most virtuous, loyal, and truly brave 
character' he had 'ever met.' Had he known of 
Horatia's birth, and all the circumstances of the 
one brief victory of passion that resulted in the 
^child's existence, it is conceivable the generous old 


man would have taken the true and charitable view 
of the one (possibly unrepeated) act, and, declining to 
qualify his testimony to the hero's goodness, would, 
all the same, have written in the codicil of his will, 
' God Bless him, and shame fall on those who do not 
say Amen.' 

On the day of her husband's death, Lady Hamil- 
ton wrote on a paper, that long afterwards came 
into Dr. Pettigrew's hands, 'April 6th. Unhappy 
day for the forlorn Emma. Ten minutes past ten, 
dear blessed Sir William left me/ So sensitive and 
emotional a woman was necessarily subdued by 
affectionate regret for the husband, who had raised 
her from a position of insecurity and shame to social 
eminence and wifely estate, and in the seventeen 
years of their familiar association had found his chief 
contentment in contributing to her happiness. Six 
weeks later, when Nelson (on the 18th of May, 1803) 
had started for Portsmouth, to enter on the long 
term of service that kept them apart till the 20th 
of August, 1805, she had stronger reason to style 
herself desolate and * forlorn.* 

Just five days before Nelson gave Emma Hamil- 
ton the farewell Mss, on his departure for the Medi- 
terranean, their child was christened at Marylebone 
Church. The record of the ceremony, at which 
neither parent was present, stands in the Marylebone 
register thus : 

Baptisms, 1803. 

May 13. Horatia Nelson Thompson. 
B. 29 October, 1800. 


It lias often been asked -why the child's birth was 
thus ante-dated. The probable explanation of the 
mis-statement is, that in May, 1803, Nelson and 
Emma designed at some future time, when they 
should be the married parents of legitimate offspring-, 
to account for Horatia's presence in their domestic 
circle by representing that she was an orphan child, 
whom they had adopted from motives of compassion, 
shortly before their return from the continent to 
England at the close of 1800. 




Biographers at Fault Sir William Hamilton's Financial Position 
in 1803 His Provision for Lady Hamilton Her Hopes of 
a Pension Origin of these Hopes Sir William's Efforts for 
their Fulfilment Nelson's Efforts to get her the Pension of 
500 a-year His Appeal to the Queen of Naples for this 
Purpose Maria Caroline's reluctant and cold Response 
Nelson's Mortification at the Queen's Coldness His Pecu- 
niary Allowance to Lady Hamilton Particulars of her In- 
come from April, 1803, to October, 1805 Her Intercourse 
with Nelson's Brother and Sisters Her Visits to the Boltons 
at Bradenham Hall, co. Norfolk Her Trip to Canterbury 
Her Affection for Miss Charlotte Nelson Horatia's Infancy 
Nelson's Solicitude for his Child's Welfare His Letters to 
the Child The Widow at Merton Alternations of Hope 
and Fear Letters from Sea Nelson revisits Merton 
His last and shortest stay there Southey's Melodramatic 
Story The Hero's Death The Nation's Joy and Grief- 
Lady Hamilton's Despair. 

18031805 A.D. 

BIOGRAPHERS have been strangely at fault in their 
statements respecting Sir William Hamilton's financial 
position in Ms closing years, and respecting the 
provision he made for his widow, who was forty 
years of age at the time of his death. 

In Rose's * Biographical Dictionary,' he is described 
as having * died in indigence, 7 though to the end of 
his days he kept house in Piccadilly, had a pension of 



1,200 a-year, possessed a considerable real estate in 
Wales, and bequeathed to his favourite nephew and 
principal heir, Charles Greville, seven thousand 
pounds in the three per cents., and other moneys 
lying at Coutts's, besides an immediate and chief 
interest in the "Welsh property. 

Silent about the immediate legacy, the able essay- 
ist of the < Temple Bar' (October, 1884) understates 
by a hundred pounds the annuity, with which Sir 
William Hamilton charged the Pembrokeshire estate 
for his widow's benefit. Forbearing to state the 
amount of the provision, to which he refers as though 
it were an insignificant pittance, Pettigrew declares 
it c scarcely likely that Sir William would have left 
her with so little to supply her wants,' had he not 
been confident that on his death the < Government 
would recognize her claims and provide for her.' 
Relying doubtless on some authority, whom he 
regarded as trustworthy, the usually accurate and 
always entertaining Dr. Doran says, * Sir William left 
his widow totally unprovided for. He thought, as 
Nelson thought, the Government would not hesitate 
to make her an ample provision for her services.' 
Whilst it is certain that Sir William Hamilton never 
thought the Government would grant her an annuity, 
sufficient for the gratification of her extravagant 
tastes, it is no less certain that, for some time previous 
to his friend's death in 1803, Nelson was troubled by 
doubt whether the country would make any provi- 
sion at all for her. Instead of leaving her 4 totally 
unprovided for/ Sir William bequeathed to his widow 
an immediate fegacy of 800, and an annuity of 800 


for life, charged upon the Welsh estate. But these 
legacies were not the whole of the provision he may 
fairly be said to have made for her. At the time of 
his death, little more than two years and two months 
had elapsed since he assigned to a Trustee for her 
benefit c the plate linen china glass furniture orna- 
ments pictures paintings and household goods of 
every kind ' in his Piccadilly House ; and there is 
reason to believe that in April, 1803, she had not 
exercised, at least to any considerable extent, the 
power reserved to her under the Trust, to dispose of 
any or all of the same chattels during his life. What 
was the value of these goods does not appear. But 
it can scarcely have been less than 5,000, and pro- 
bably was very much more. Let it be computed at 
5,000, a sum that, invested in Government securi- 
ties, yielded at the beginning of the present century 
250 a-year. However extravagant she may be, 
and however inadequate such a provision may be for 
her requirements, a widow with a life-annuity of 
800 and other property to the value of 5,800, can- 
not fairly be described as having been left totally 
without provision. 

If the provision was insufficient for a woman of 
her luxurious habits and costly tastes, Lady Hamilton 
was not surprised by its smallness ; for Sir William 
Hamilton had been frank to her, respecting the cir- 
cumstances in which she would be left. Having 
concluded that he could not in fairness to his nephew 
Charles charge the Welsh estate with more than 800 
a-year for her benefit, Sir William told her so. From 
the end of the year 1800 (and probably from an 


earlier date) she had known that by her husband's 
will she would take nothing more than an annuity of 
that amount, and a small immediate legacy, that 
would start her in her widowhood with a substantial 
balance at the bank. As he raised this immediate 
legacy, from 300 to 800, in the last week of his 
life, she found herself richer after his death by 500 
than she had expected to be on that event. She was 
therefore spared the mortification of finding herself 
less liberally provided for than she had hoped to be, 
and consequently could not plead, in palliation of her 
subsequent extravagance, that she had contracted 
expensive habits, under the impression, that as a 
widow she would be much more handsomely endowed. 
In Italy she had not been used by Maria Caroline 
for many months, as a channel of communication be- 
tween the Royal Palace and the British Minister, 
before she entertained the notion that, in serving her 
own immediate social interests by acting in accord- 
ance with the Queen's wishes and instructions, she 
was rendering her country services, that should and 
would in due course be requited with a pension from 
the national purse. In nursing this pleasant anticipa- 
tion, which she probably entertained in the first in- 
stance at his suggestion, she was steadily encouraged 
by her husband, who during their last years in the 
Two Sicilies, and afterwards from the moment of 
their arrival in England to the very day of his death* 
told her that she had rendered Great Britain services, 
that entitled her to pecuniary reward. Whilst press- 
ing the Government for the pension that was granted 
him, Sir William had asked that she should be as- 


sociated with Mm in the grant. Unable to get 
this recognition of her sendees, he asked in vain for 
an assurance that on his death her claim should 
meet with due consideration. Throughout the brief 
remainder of his life, he seized every occasion for 
forcing his wife's claims upon the consideration of 
ministers. Unsuccessful in his efforts for her benefit 
in the closing months of the Younger Pitt's long 
administration, he renewed them on Addington's ac- 
cession to power. Begging for her in the closing 
weeks of 1800, he begged in her behalf to the 
moment of his death. Indeed, he may be said to 
have begged in her behalf after ceasing to breathe. 
For, when Mr. Charles Greville delivered to the 
King the Insignia of the Order of the Bath that 
had been worn by Sir William Hamilton, he is be- 
lieved, in the execution of his dying uncle's solemn 
injunction, to have told His Majesty that the deceased 
knight's last prayer was, that * his pension might be 
continued to his widow for Jier zeal and services.' 

It is not, howevei*, to be inferred from the account 
given by Dr. Pettigrew of this post-mortem petition, 
that Sir William considered his wife entitled to so 
large a pension as 1,200 a-year, though on his 
death-bed he may have conceived it to be just 
possible that the sovereign would, in his tenderness 
and benignity, concede so much to his foster-brother's 
last prayer. The pension, to which he deemed his 
wife entitled, was an allowance of 500 a-year for 
her life. At Dresden, when she brimmed over with 
indiscreet communicativeness to Mrs, Trench, Lady 
Hamilton revealed her hope of having *half Sir 


William's pension : continued to her after his death. 
But this hope of a pension of 600 exceeded Sir, 
William Hamilton's estimate of her claims by 100' 
a-year. In the fruitless negociations touching the 
project for the Hamilton-Beckford peerage, to be 
granted in satisfaction of the petitioner's pecuniary^ 
claims, it was arranged that Lady Hamilton should, 
after her husband's death, have 500 a-year from Font- 
hill. In seeking the Marquis of Douglas's aid for 
the attainment of the wished-for peerage, Sir William 
spoke of his desire that Lady Hamilton should get 
the pension of 500 a-year, which, together with 
the 800 a-year he meant to leave her, would put 
her in sufficient affluence. Taking Sir William's 
view of the pension, to which the Patroness of the 
Navy was entitled, Nelson exerted himself to get, 
her a pension of that amount; and, when he saw 
it was useless to make any further applications to 
Ministers in her behalf, he made the codicil to his 
will, by which he left her 500 a-year out of the 
revenue of the Duchy of Bronte, in fulfilment of the 
promise he made to her in these written words, sent 
to her from sea in November, 1804 : c I do not believe 
that Pitt will give you a pension any more than 
Addington, who[m] I supported to the last moment 
of his ministry. There is no gratitude in any-one 
of them. However, if they do not do it, I will give it to 
y&u, OKA of Bronte? 

Having moved Ministers and official persons for 
the pension during Sir William Hamilton's life, Nel- 
son redoubled his efforts to get the allowance for 
Lady Hamilton, as soon as she had become a widow. A 


letter to Nelson by Lord Melville, dated from Wim- 
bledon on the 17th of April, 1803, shows that within 
a few days of Sir William's funeral, the Admiral 
and Lady Hamilton both wrote to Lord Melville 
about the pension, and wrote so effectually, that his 
lordship spoke to Mr. Addington, in accordance with 
their wishes, on the 16th of April, when the premier 
f seemed fully possessed of the circumstances of the 
case, and disposed to give favourable attention to 
them.' Having done that much in his friend's behalf 
before leaving England, Nelson wrote from the Medi- 
terranean Station to powerful people, in furtherance 
of her cause. One of his extraordinary measures for 
effecting his purpose was to move the Queen oi 
Naples, to bear testimony to the importance of the 
services, for which Lady Hamilton was seeking a 
material reward, and in doing so to intimate to the 
British Government how greatly it would please Her 
Majesty to know that the merits of so worthy a 
petitioner as the late Sir William Hamilton's widow 
had been recognized by her sovereign and country. 
* With respect,' Nelson wrote warmly to Mr. Elliot, 
on the 7th of July, 1804, c to the Queen's writing 
to this minister or that, whether Addington or Pitt, 
it cannot matter. It depends upon Her Majesty's feel- 
ings towards the best friend die ever had.' Three 
days later (July the 10th, 1804), he wrote to the Queen 
herself, * Mr. Elliot has informed me, by writing, of 
what your Majesty wishes to say on the subject of 
writing to the Minister respecting the pension for 
your Emma. Poor Sir William Hamilton believed 
that it would have been granted, or it would have 


"been unpardonable in him to have left his widow 
with so little means. Your Majesty well kno^JtP^ 
it was her capacity and conduct which gttgSrged 190 
diplomatic character during the last year 3 c^ich 
he was at Naples. It is unnecessary for me tcTfe^^jk 
more of it. 7 Thus pressed by the Admiral, to whom 
she and Jber husband were deeply indebted, and for 
whose wishes they were bound by prudence and 
self-interest to be considerate, Maria Caroline reluc- 
tantly consented to intimate through the Sicilian 
Minister in England to the London cabinet, how 
highly she esteemed Lady Hamilton, and how lively 
a concern she took in her welfare. That Nelson 
looked for more cordial co-operation from Maria Caro- 
line, and was far from satisfied with the result of 
his appeal to Her Majesty's grateful and affectionate 
regard for c her Emma/ appears from passages of his 
letters to Lady Hamilton. 

On the 27th of August, 1804, he wrote to the mis- 
tress of Merton Place, ' Eespecting your business he ' 
(i.e., General Acton) 'says, "I see what you tell me, 
my Lord, on Lady Hamilton's settlement by Sir Wil- 
liam ; I think it very just that she should be helped. 
I have wrote to her Majesty on the subject, and she 
is pleased to answer me that she will do whatever is 
in her power on the subject, and has acquainted your 
Lordship lately by one of her letters." I suppose, 
my dear Emma, that letter is the one which I sent 
you, and if her application through Castelcicala is as 
cold, I do not expect mnch from it ; never mind/ In 
November, he wrote to Lady Hamilton in the same 
tone of disdainful irritation, f You will see what effect 


your Queen's letter has through. Castelcicala a very 
pretty channel!' Two months later, however, it 
seemed for a brief while to Lady Hamilton, that she 
was on the point of getting her desire. On the 
6th of January, 1805, Mr. Alexander Davison (vide 
Pettigrew's c Life of Nelson,' vol. ii, p. 448) wrote her 
a cheering account of his recent conversation with 
Lord Melville. It will,' Mr. Davison wrote, c afford 
you great satisfaction to know how much Lord Mel- 
ville interests himself in your favour. He tells me he 
has spoken to Mr. Pitt of the propriety of your having 
a pension settled upon you of 500 per annum, and 
that he will speak to him again very shortly about it. 
I asked Lord Melville if I might say as much to you. 
He immediately said, " Yes, certainly." He spoke 
very handsomely of you, and of your services in 
favour of this country when in Naples.' But Lady 
Hamilton was again disappointed of the reward, for 
which she had been asking and pulling strings for 
something more than four years. 

It may not be imagined, however, that whilst 
vainly pursuing the prize she never won, Lady 
Hamilton had no means of subsistence but the provi- 
sion for which she was indebted to her husband, 
whilst Nelson was away from England with his fleet. 
From the hour of her husband's death to the glorious 
and fatal day of Trafalgar, she received from Nelson 
in punctual payments an allowance of 1,200 a-year 
an allowance that raised her yearly income to 2,000, 
to say nothing of her immediate legacy. During the 
same time she was as completely the mistress of Mer- 
ton, with its furniture and cellar, as she would have 


been had kelson already given, them to her. Doubtless 
she had expenses that were not manifest either to her 
ordinary acquaintance, or to the circle of her intimate 
friends. Nurse Gibson was a dependent, whom 
prudence enjoined her to pay handsomely. The 
secrecy of dependents is not purchased with a song ; 
and at the time of Horatia's birth Lady Hamilton 
seems to have been compelled to put perilous confi- 
dence in more than one person of humble degree. 
But living chiefly at Merton so long as she wore 
widow's weeds, with no rent to pay for her pleasant 
home, Lady Hamilton might by the exercise of 
ordinary prudence have lived with dignity, enter- 
tained her friends liberally, and acted bountifully to- 
wards her trusted dependents, without exceeding her 
income of two thousand pounds a-year. I have no 
conclusive evidence that her expenditure outran so 
ample an income during Nelson's life. But the 
magnitude of the pecuniary involvements, that com- 
pelled her to seek help from her friends before Nelson 
had rested three years in St. Paul's Cathedral, causes 
one to suspect that financial embarrassments had 
been growing upon her from the first year of her 
widowhood, and possibly from a still earlier time. 

Whilst Nelson was at sea, Lady Hamilton lived on 
affectionate terms with his brother and sisters, receiv- 
ing them at Merton for staying visits, and making 
trips to their homes in different parts of the country. 
c I long,' Nelson wrote to her on the 12th of July, 
1803, < to hear of your Norfolk excursion, and every- 
thing you have been about, for I am ever most warmly 
interested in your actions.' In the autumn of the fol- 


lowing year (1804) she was again with, the Boltons at 
Bradenham HalL, co. Norfolk, the wooded home of the 
Norfolk Haggards, that more than half-a-century later 
became the birth-place of the author of King Solomon's 
Mines. In the summer of the same year (1804) she 
was staying for some time with the Nelsons at 
Canterbury, where the Reverend Dr. Nelson had a 
prebendal stall. Possibly Dr. Pettigrew slightly over- 
stated the case, in recording that the prebendary, 
though, c as a clergyman, he could not but feel the 
impropriety of Nelson's mode of life with Lady 
Hamilton, hesitated not to place his children under 
her roof, to entrust one of Ms daughters at least to her 
guidance and controul, and to heap adulation upon 
her, in order that she might exercise the great influ- 
ence she possessed over his brother for his advance- 
ment.' But though it may be questioned, whether 
the Doctor's daughter Charlotte (afterwards Lady 
Bridport) was < almost exclusively under Lady Hamil- 
ton's care and education for six years,' the evidence 
is superabundant, that the girl stayed for months at 
a time under Lady Hamilton's roof in Piccadilly, and 
from the spring of 1803 till Nelson's death was more 
at Merton Place than with her parents. At all times 
fond of children, Lady Hamilton conceived a genuine 
affection for this child, and possibly liked her company 
none the less because her presence at Merton was 
testimony that, whatever rumour might say of Nel- 
son's relation to his friend's widow, it was a relation 
that had the sanction of his clerical brother. 

In telling Captain Ward, in 1828, that Horatia 
'remained with Nurse Gibson till she was five or 


six* Tears old/ Mrs. Gibson's daughter (Mrs. John- 
stone) seems to have overstated the period of the 
child's residence in the nurse's dwelling. Mrs. Gib- 
eon may have been the child's nurse for five or six 
years, and even for a much longer time ; but some 
of Nelson's letters from the Mediterranean dispose 
one to think that in the spring of 1804, when she 
was little more than three years and a month old, 
Horatia became a permanent feature of the Merton 
circle, though she was occasionally in Nurse Gibson's 
charge during the next year and a half. Giving 
directions for improvements and other matters at 
his Surrey home, Nelson wrote to Lady Hamilton, 
on the 14th of March, 1804, 'The footpath should 
be turned. I did shew Mr. Haslewood the way I 
wished it done ; and Mr. will have no objec- 
tions, if we make it better than ever it has been ; 
and I also beg, as my Horatia is to be at Merton, 
that a strong netting, about three feet high, may 
be placed round the Nile, that the little thing may 
not tumble in ; and then you may have ducks again 
in it. I forget at what place we saw the netting ; 
and either Mr. Perry or Mr. Goldsmid told me where 
it is to be bought. I shall be very anxious till I 
know this is done,' words showing plainly, that 
Nelson looked upon it as settled, that little Horatia 
would henceforth live chiefly (if not altogether) at 
Merton, and be often playing on the lawn near the 
ornamental water. The child was at Merton when 
Nelson came back from sea on the 20th of August, 
1805, and he left her there three weeks and three days 
later, when he drove from his house for the last time. 


The passage in which lie gave the directions, for 
his child's preservation from death in the duck- 
pond, is only one of numerous passages of his letters, 
in which the hero, who was familiar with the dangers 
of the deep, displayed a fine and touching care for 
his offspring. In the opening month of the same 
year (20th of January, 1804), he sent the barely 
three years old child a present that must have de- 
lighted her prodigiously, together with a brief note 
giving her permission to wear the gift (a watch) 
'on Sundays and very particular days/ when she 
was dressed, and had < behaved exceedingly well 
and obedient.' Three months earlier (on the 21st 
of October, 1803), when the tiny pet could of course 
neither read a word of the writing, nor understand 
the epistle on its being read to her, the father, who 
might at any hour die in battle, dated from the 
c Victory, off Toulon' the pathetic letter in which 
he told her how he had recently made a codicil to 
his will, bequeathing her 4,000. < I shall only say, 
my dear child,' he said, at the ending of the epistle, 
penned with the design of making her, years hence, 
think tenderly of him, when he possibly should have 
been as many years in the grave, 'may God Almighty 
bless you, and make you an ornament to your sex, 
which I am sure you will be, if you attend to all 
Lady Hamilton's kind instructions; and be assured 
that I am, my dear Horatia, your most affectionate 
' father, NELSON AND BRONTE.' 

In imagining Lady Hamilton's life at Merton, 
readers should therefore think of it as the life of a 
gentlewoman who, possessing an income more than 


adequate to the maintenance of her dignity, enjoyed 
the companionship of all the persons, with the ex- 
ception of her absent hero, who were most dear to 
her. It made for her contentment, that she had for her 
daily companion the mother whom she had cherished 
from the time they lived together in Paddington, 
and towards whom, it maybe averred without reserve 
of any kind, she never failed in filial fondness and 
devotion. At all times of her career delighting in 
children, she had in one of Prebendary Nelson's 
daughters an object of affectionate interest and a 
source of domestic diversion. From the spring of 
1804, the presence within her walls of her last-born 
-child afforded her a field of sympathetic activity, 
from which she was peculiarly qualified to draw 
enjoyment, and now perhaps drew all the more 
happiness, because circumstances had hitherto denied 
her the delight, that results to nervous and emotional 
women from the unrestrained indulgence of the 
maternal instinct. Living on terms of affectionate 
intimacy with Nelson's brother and married sisters, 
-she was encouraged by their not altogether disin- 
terested complaisance to regard herself as a member 
of the family, to which she hoped ere long to be 
united by marriage. Upon the whole, she was for- 
tunately placed, and had many causes for thankful- 
ness. It not being in the nature of an adventuress 
to suffer acutely from compunction for the injury she 
has done, or for the anguish she occasions, a defeated 
rival, Lady Hamilton, at this point of her career, 
would have been a happy woman, had it not been 
for her mind's disquieting undercurrent of ceaseless 


anxiety, and its occasional acute alarms for Nelson's 
safety. She had no fear of losing her sway over 
his affections, so long as he should live. But the 
Admiral, so reckless for his own safety, when guns 
gave forth their thunder, might any day be swept 
from the forces of this life. 

Still, though the undercurrent never ceased alto- 
gether from troubling, and the alarms continued to 
come and go, Lady Hamilton's prevailing mood was 
hopefulness : hope that the Admiral would escape 
the cold touch of Fate, confidence that he would 
win greater glory and brighter fame, conviction that 
all the honour and wealth he snatched from danger 
would be shared with her. He would come out of 
the fire of successive battles ; and, when he had done 
with fighting, he would be more than ever her lover. 
He would rise to be the English Duke of Thunder, 
even as he was the Sicilian Duke of Bronte, and in 
the course of years she might become his wife and 
Duchess, yes, a double-Duchess, like the handsome 
Duchess of Argyll, who had been so good to her in 
former times at Naples, when she was nothing better 
than the Signora Hart. At the opening of 1803, 
two lives stood between her and the place to which 
she aspired. One of those lives had passed away. 
The other might soon come to an end. Lady Nelson, 
ever a delicate woman, had of late years suffered 
much from ill-health. Now she was wrathful and 
wretched. Anger and mortification would not tend 
to prolong her days. 

Nelson himself encouraged Lady Hamilton to hope, 
and even to entreat the Almighty, for the removal of 


the one remaining obstacle to their marriage. As he 
was being wafted to the scene of his glorious death, 
he wrote to her from off Plymouth, ' I entreat you, 
my dear Emma, that you will cheer tip. We will 
look forward to many, many happy years and bepng] 
surrounded by our children's children. God Almighty 

can, when he pleases, remove the impediment \ 

startling words of strange evidence that, after Lady 
Nelson had withdrawn from his society, Nelson was 
so far from thinking his attachment to Lady Hamilton 
a sin for which he needed the divine forgiveness, as 
to be capable of thinking that the Almighty, out of His 
illimitable goodness and mercy, might regard it with 
favour, and satisfy its desire. From the Admiral's 
letters to Emma, several other passages could be 
produced in evidence that he had promised to marry 
her at the earliest opportunity. 

In her prevailing mood of hopefulness. Lady Hamil- 
ton was sustained by a steady stream of letters 
from sea. Unfortunately, most of those letters are 
known to us only by the book, which affords suffi- 
cient grounds for questioning the authenticity of 
numerous passages of its printed documents, and even 
for thinking some of its compositions wholly spuri- 
ous. But when severe scrutiny has purged these 
letters of their romantic seasoning and sheer fiction, 
the residue affords a mass of testimony to the sim- 
plicity of Nelson's nature, the tenderness of his heart, 
the honesty of his manners, and the generous beauty 
of his attachment to the woman, whom he should not 
have loved. Is it wrong to speak thus tenderly of 
the misdirected passion? On the contrary, is it not 


well for people to be reminded, once in a while, that 
in rare and exceptional cases men may be greatly 
good, even though they are in some respects living- 
ill, and undeserving of the severest censure, even 
when they are doing what social sentiment justly 
declares to be very wrong? 

Animated by affection, that avoiding protestations 
of its depth and vehemence reveals both qualities by 
tender and sensitive considerateness for the feelings 
and welfare and daily comfort of the person to whom 
they were addressed, these simple, frank, warm- 
hearted, right-minded letters could not have been 
written by any but a good man. Moreover, Nelson 
could not have written them, had he not deemed Lady 
Hamilton essentially a good woman. How he came to 
think so far too highly of a woman who, though 
much less evil than historians have declared her, was 
a very faulty creature, is perplexing. But personal 
history is fruitful of such perplexities. Because it is 
puzzling, it is none the less true that the greatest 
martial hero of England in the present century thus 
thought of the woman, whose very picture, hanging 
in his cabin with her child's portrait near it, was not 
more beautiful to his vision, than sacred to his rever- 
ential fancy. 

So the time went fairly well with Lady Hamilton 
at Merton Place till the hour of the 20th of August, 
1805, when a slight, small man, with a scar on his 
brow and deep lines in his furrowed visage, leapt from 
a carriage at the villa's door, and putting his sole 
remaining hand on her shoulder looked into her eyes 
for the welcome, that was wine to his soiiL The 



happy meeting was followed all too soon by the last 
sad parting. They had not spent a fortnight together, 
when at an early hour (5 a.m. of the 2nd of Septem- 
ber) Captain Blackwood of the Euryalus came to 
Merton, on his way from the sea to the Admiralty, 
with momentous news for the Admiral, who (ever an 
early riser when in health) was already tip and 
dressed. The combined fleet had put into Cadiz. 
c Depend on it, Blackwood, I shall yet give Monsieur 
Villeneuve a drubbing,' Nelson ejaculated repeated- 
ly, when he had heard the news. Again and again, 
since Southey put the story into his charming book, 
it has been told how, after giving this characteristic 
utterance to a purpose he was not the man to relin- 
quish at a woman's prayer, Nelson lacked for a few brief 
minutes the nerve to tell Lady Hamilton, how soon 
his brief holiday would end. As Southey tells it, the 
story almost requires us to conceive it possible, that 
at this moment Nelson might have fallen miserably 
beneath his own high standard of heroic worth, and 
have failed to complete his glory, had not Lady 
Hamilton urged him to do his duty to England. 

According to the story, after Captain Blackwood' s 
departure. Nelson told Sir William Hamilton's widow 
that he had done enough for his honour, and won 
enough for his contentment. Why then should he 
risk losing all he had set his heart on enjoying? 'Let 
the man trudge it who has lost his budget,' he said, 
in his homely way. He was happy where he was ; 
his health had improved during his fortnight's rest ; 
as for more glory and higher rank, he would not give 
sixpence to call the king his uncle. He was talking 


in this way, as lie paced up and down one of the 
walks of his garden, the quarter-deck as he called 
it, 6 the Admiral's walk' as it came to be called In 
later time when Lady Hamilton told him c that she 
did not believe him, that she knew he was longing 
to get at the combined fleets, that he considered them 
his property, that he would be miserable if any man 
but himself did the business, and that he ought to 
have them, as the price and reward of his two years' 
long watching, and his hard chase.' After rallying 
his fortitude in this style, she said, in a vein fit for a 
transpontine drama, e Nelson, however we may 
lament your absence, offer your servicQs ; they will 
be accepted, and you will gain a quiet heart by it ; 
you will have a glorious victory, and then you may 
return here, and be happy.' Regarding her with 
tearful eyes, Nelson ejaculated, < Brave Emma ! 
Good Emma! If there were more Emmas, there 
would be more Nelsons 1* a piece of stilted, vain- 
glorious fustian, of which Nelson was incapable. 

The probable truth of the story is that, after tell- 
ing her what he meant to do, and showing by voice 
and look the strength of his purpose, Nelson talked, 
of his inclination for inglorious repose, in order to put 
his Emma in the congenial position of a heroine,, 
advising him to do what he intended to do, and 
what she knew no woman's words could prevent his 
doing. Of course, the woman, who never put herself 
between the hero and his duty to England, had no 
wish to hold him back from this opportunity of 
crowning his career. Jealousy for his honour and 
the selfish promptings of her own ambition made her 


desirous be should win. more glory and wealth.. Had 
she in her heart wished to keep him by her side, 
fear of his displeasure, dread of losing the good 
opinion which she prized more than all her other 
possessions, would have made her keep the wish 

Eleven days later (13th of August, 1805), after 
kneeling in prayer at his child's bedside, and kissing 
his dear Emma for the last time, Nelson drove from the 
home he was fated never to revisit. Nine weeks and 
six days later (21st of October, 1805), he commended 
them to his country, and died. There is no need to 
speak of the great victory, or repeat the incidents of 
the Admiral's death. They belong to a story that is 
written in the brain and heart of every English man 
and every English woman : a story that, for more 
than eighty years, has fired generous English boys 
with a noble ambition to resemble Nelson, in living 
and dying for their country. 

When the glorious and dismal tidings reached 
England, and passing from port to port and from, 
town to town, from hamlet to hamlet and from 
homestead to homestead, made all the people of all 
the various sorts and conditions of men for a brief 
while feel and think alike, the country had perhaps 
never before been so deeply and strongly moved by 
two conflicting emotions, an impulse to rejoice and 
an impulse to mourn, to leap for gladness and to sink 
under a subduing sorrow. The enemies of England 
were shattered and scattered, but England's chieftain 
was dead. In every breast, stirred by this combat 
of feelings/ joy for the glory &nd blessings of the 


great success contended with grief for the fallen 
warrior, the leader who had been so frank and fear- 
less, so tender and true, so magnanimous to his rivals, 
so steadfast to his friends, so considerate for his * tars/ 
so generous to all men. 

But to the woman who had loved him intensely, 

perhaps all the more intensely because of the selfish- 
ness that qualified her affection for him the tidings 
brought grief, unrelieved by exultation at his triumph, 
unmitigated by a single thrill of patriotic emotion. 
For the moment, it afforded her no comfort to reflect 
that he had clothed himself with imperishable glory, 
and would be the favourite and prime hero of his 
race throughout the coming ages. He had been her 
love and delight, her honour and power, the founda- 
tion of her hopes for higher rank and brighter dignity. 
He had gone from her, and her honour, power, and 
hopes had perished with him. 




Lady Hamilton's Financial Position Nelson's Provision for Her 
and Horatia Had she Debts at the Time of Sir William 
Hamilton's Death? Did Debts grow upon her before the 
Battle of Trafalgar? Her quick March to Pecuniary Bum 
She is compelled to leave Merton Asks the Duke of 
Queensberry to buy the Place Causes of her Embarrass- 
ments Mr. Charles Greville's Death Lady Hamilton's 
Relations with Nelson's Kindred Why the Nelsons made ' 
and ceased ' to make ' the best of Her Biographical Slanders 
against the First Earl Nelson Lady Hamilton's unreasonable 
Conduct The Publication of the famous Codicil Conse- 
quence of the Publication The Friends' and 'The Ene- 
mies' Their long War of Words Final Survey of Lady 
Hamilton's * Claims' and"* Services' Her rapid Deterioration 
Her Stay at Eichmond At Bond Street Her last Will 
and Testament Her Vile Slander on the Queen of Naples 
Prisoner in the King's Bench Anniversary (1818) of the 
Battle of the Nile Evidence of Postal Marks Her Libera- 
tion from Prison Her Flight to Calais Date of the Flight. 
18051814: A.D. 

THOUGH It plunged her in deep and stupefying woe, 
from which she emerged to talk with egotistic boast- 
fulness of his glory, as though it were her peculiar 
property, and in a large measure a thing of her crea- 
tion, Nelson's death did not, as many persons have 
imagined, reduce Lady Hamilton to comparative 
poverty. The Admiral had made a far larger pro- 
vision for her necessities, and also for her luxurious 
ease, than is generally known. 


By his will and certain of its codicils he left her 
(1) his diamond star, (2) a sum of 2,000, (3) an 
allowance of 500 per annum for the term of her life 
out of the revenues of his Duchy of Bronte in the 
Farther Sicily, and (4) Merton Place, viz., the villa, 
with its furniture, outhouses, offices, gardens, and 
pleasure-grounds, and such parts of his real estate in 
Merton, Wimbledon, and Mitcham as she should 
select, and as should not altogether, with the afore- 
said gardens, &c., exceed seventy acres of land, an 
estate that may be computed to have been worth at 
least 10,000. It was valued at a higher sum, and, ; 
offered to purchasers under favourable circumstances, 
could have been sold for 12,000, or even 14,000. 
In estimating the value of the annuity from the 
Bronte estate, readers must remember that, at the 
date of Nelson's death, Lady Hamilton was still in 
her forty-third year, enjoyed good health, and bade 
fair to live to old age. Moreover, the trustees, to 
whom he bequeathed 4,000 for the benefit of little 
Horatia, were instructed by the testator to pay yearly 
to Lady Hamilton the interest of the same 4,000, 
for her to spend at her discretion on the child's main- 
tenance and education, till she (Horatia) should have 
completed her eighteenth year. Hence the hero 
assigned out of his estate considerably more than 
20,000 (say 25,000) for the endowment of his ille- 
gitimate offspring and the child's mother. This pro- 
vision was made by Nelson for a lady, to whom Sir 
William Hamilton had bequeathed some two and a 
half years earlier a well-secured yearly income of 
800, and an immediate legacy of 800, to say 


nothing of the furniture and objets d'art, &c., of 23, 
Piccadilly, appraised at 5,000, which he settled 
upon her soon after their return to London from 

Thus, if she had not contracted debts beyond her 
income, nor otherwise lessened her resources by some 
kind of extravagance or imprudence during the two 
years and something more than six months that 
intervened between her husband's death and Nelson's 
death, Lady Hamilton entered on what may be called 
the closing term of her singular career i.e., from 
Nelson's death, in October, 1805, to her own death, 
in January, 1815 with these -several sources of 
income : 

(a) Sir William Hamilton's immediate legacy of 800, yielding 40 

() Her income from Sir William Hamilton's Welsh estate 800 

(c) Nelson's legacy of 2,000, yielding 100 

(d) Her annuity from the Bronte estate 500 

(e) The interest of the 4,000 settled on Horatia 200 

(/) Merton Place, which could have been let for 500 

Total yearly income 2,140 

This schedule takes no account of interest for the 
5,000, for which the pictures, plate, and other furni- 
ture of 23, Piccadilly, could have been sold. 

Had she decided to leave Merton, and establish 
herself elsewhere, she would have had a clear income 
of 2,140 for her housekeeping and personal expenses. 
Preferring to live at Merton, she had the sufficient 
income of 1,640 a-year. Readers who question the 
sufficiency of the income will dismiss the doubt after 
visiting the villa (which still stands within an easy 
drive of Eegent Street), if they bear in mind the 
several reasons why an income of that amount was 


in the earlier years of the present century a better 
income than2,000 a-year at the present time. Though 
she had some poor relations at Liverpool, and other 
poor relations (such as Sarah Eeynolds and Cecilia 
Connor*) in or near London, to whom she gave 
money and discarded raiment with characteristic 
freehandedness, Lady Hamilton seems at this time 
to have had no near kindred who can be regarded, 
i.e., fairly described, as dependent on this income, 
with the exception of little Horatia and Mrs. Cadogan, 
the one little girl, who was clothed and nurtured 
for some forty pounds a-year ; and the thrifty, active, 
busy, managing Mrs. Cadogan, who delighted in house- 
keeping, and knew better than most women how to 

* Whilst dealing munificently with her other cousins, Connor 
ahas Carew, Lady Hamilton conceived a vehement detestation of 
Mary Anne Connor, who seems to have tattled indiscreetly about 
her famous cousin's history and affairs. ' I do not,' she wrote in 
a destroyed -will, dated at Merton on October 7th, 1806, ' leave 
anything to Ann or Mary Ann Connor, the daughter of Michael 
and Sarah Connor, as she has been a wicked story-telling young 
woman, and tried to defame her best friends and relations/ 
Speaking yet more precisely of this wicked, story- telling young 
woman in a later destroyed will, dated at Richmond on October 
16th, 1808, Lady Hamilton says, { I declare before God, and as I 
hope to see Nelson in Heaven, that Ann Connor, who goes by the 
name of Carew, and tells many falsehoods that she is my daugh- 
ter, but from what motive I know not, I declare that she is the 
eldest daughter of my mother's sister, Sarah Connor, and that I 
have the mother and six: children to keep, all of them, except two, 
having turned out bad ; I therefore beg of my mother to be kind 
to the two good ones, Sarah and Cecilia. This family having, by 
their extravagance, almost ruined me, I have nothing to leave 
them ; and I pray God to turn Ann Connor's, alias Carew's, 
heart. I forgive her, but as there is a madness in the Connor 
family, I hope it is only the effect of this disorder that may have 
induced this bad young woman to have persecuted me by her 
slander and falsehoods.' These two destroyed wills are printed in 
Sir H. Nicolas's 4 Despatches and Letters of Lord Nelson,' vol. 
vii, pp. 387, 388. 


keep house economically. A gentlewoman, who is 
mistress of a sound, well-furnished house, and a clear 
income of at least 1,600 a-year, has no strong claim 
to compassion on the score of her poverty, when she 
has no one to provide for but herself, her one child, 
and a pensioner of Mrs. Cadogan's quality. 

la considering the sufficiency of Lady Hamilton's 
apparent means for the satisfaction of her apparent 
requirements, from the hour of her husband's death 
to the time when her pecuniary embarrassments con- 
strained her to invoke the aid of her friends, readers 
should be mindfiil that, though in the later years of 
her association with Sir William Hamilton circum- 
stances disposed her to financial extravagance, she 
had for a much longer term lived under conditions, 
that schooled her to be habitually economical in 
matters of personal expenditure. In Edgware Road, 
whilst maintaining an appearance of gentility, she 
knew how to make the most of her half-crowns. 
Throughout the earlier term of her residence at 
Naples, whilst figuring brightly in the gay capital, 
the Signora Hart dressed herself well and her mother 
somehow on a curiously small allowance. Even 
when she had risen to be a chief lady of Maria 
Caroline's entourage, she was required by Sir William 
Hamilton to keep her personal expenditure for her- 
self and her mother within the allotted 200 a-year ; 
and, though he supplemented the 50 a-quarter with 
occasional gifts of jewellery, it is certain, that Sir 
William did not raise the sum of the regular pay- 
ments, and that she seldom gave him occasion to 
reprove or pardon her for outrunning her personal 


Income, up to the time when Maria Caroline set c her 
Emma ' up with silks and satins for the remainder of 
her Mediterranean career. 

To _ escape the difficulty of believing that the 
woman, who for a series of years spent her pin-money 
so carefully and cleverly, could not contrive to live 
within the ample income that came to her from her 
husband's will and Nelson's munificence, one is in- 
clined to suspect that, before Sir William's death, 
she was encumbered with debts of which he knew 
nothing, and that, after his death, debts multiplied 
upon her whilst she lived at Merton under Nelson's 
protection. No doubt, during his last illness, Sir 
William was under the Impression he was leaving 
his wife free of creditors ; but the lady, who gave 
birth to Horatia without allowing Sir William to 
discover her state of health, was capable of having 
secrets from her husband. Nelson also appears to 
have left Merton for the last time, without imagining 
that his enchantress was troubled by financial em- 
barrassments ; but the woman, who made him think 
Horatia was her only and first-born babe, did not 
tell her hero every detail of her own story. Still 
I am not aware of any direct evidence that the 
liberal revenue, which certainly came to her from 
her husband's estate and Nelson's estate, was 6 power- 
less to afford her pecuniary ease, on account of the- 
magnitude of her long-growing debts. 

It is, however, certain that, in April, 1808, when 
her husband had been dead only five years, and 
Nelson had been dead for about half the time, Lady- 
Hamilton had already so greatly exceeded her means,* 


as to be under the necessity of asking her friends, 
what steps she had better take for the satisfaction. 1 
of her creditors, and the re-arrangement of her affairs. 
Thus soon after Nelson's death, it was made mani- 
fest to Lady Hamilton that, to escape from embar- 
rassments which threatened to put her at no distant 
date in a debtors' prison, she must sell the house 
and land which Nelson had bequeathed to her. In 
the spring of 1808, it was computed by Mr. Willock, 
of Golden Square, that Mert on Place, with its furniture, 
exclusive of books and wine, was worth 12,930. 
For a few months, the debtor nursed a hope of 
finding a purchaser of the estate at this price, and 
getting quit of her debts by means of the sale. But 
seven months later, when she had vainly implored 
the Duke of Queensberry (her husband's cousin) to 
buy the villa and all its contents (with the exception 
of the portraits of Sir William Hamilton, Nelson, and 
Maria Caroline) for 15,000, Lady Hamilton was 
assured that she took far too hopeful a view of her 
position. A thorough examination of her liabilities 
showed that she owed 8,000 to creditors, exclusive 
of the 10,000 required to pay off annuitants, who 
had furnished her with the means of persisting in 
a course of reckless and quickly ruinous expenditure. 
These figures are taken from Dr. Pettigrew's book. 
For the payment of debts and the extinction of 
annuities, the residue of Lady Hamilton's property 
was now valued at 17,500, i.e., a sum less by 500 
than what was needful to pay off both classes of 
creditors. In the absence of particulars, one can 
only open one's eyes in amazement, and close them 


in perplexity, at so staggering a statement of totals, 
No woman ever went to financial ruin with less 
excuse for doing so. In the April of 1803, soon 
after liberating her from all her acknowledged debts. 
Sir William Hamilton left her an immediate legacy 
of 800, and a well-secured pension of 800 per 
annum. Sir William was no sooner in his grave 
than Nelson planted her at Merton, with an additional 
allowance of 1,200 a-year. Thus, whilst living 
rent-free in a well-furnished house from the date 
of her husband's death to the date of Nelson's death, 
she had a clear income of 2,000 a-year. Nelson's 
arrangements for her comfort after his death were 
munificent. Yet, within three years of that event, 
she had so squandered her ample provision, as to 
be in danger of immediate arrest for debts to trades- 
men and money-lenders. The 800 left her by Sir 
William Hamilton, the 2,000 left her by Nelson, 
and the monies she raised by granting annuities, had 
all slipped like water through her fingers, and no- 
thing remained of the provision made for her by 
her two principal benefactors, but the interest of the 
four thousand pounds settled on Horatia, and so 
much of her two pensions (1,300 a-year) as might 
remain for her sustenance, after the sale of Merton 
and the satisfaction of the claims of her creditors and 

How did she waste so much money in so short 
a time ? For the most part, the money had been 
squandered in profuse hospitality, and the usual 
forms of ostentatious prodigality. She had dressed 
beyond her means, and kept a better carriage and 


costlier horses than were needful for her position. 
Not content with her home in the country, where 
"her London acquaintances could have visited her, 
she had spent two successive seasons in town, enter- 
taining a mob of dangerous friends at her house in 
'Clarges Street. At a time when she was living thus 
profusely on credit and borrowed money, she was 
required to pay the Herald's College a heavy bill 
for the ridiculous patent of the absurd arms (Per 
pale Or and Argent, three Lions rampant, G-ules on 
a chief Sable, a cross of eight points of the second) 
that were granted to her on the 19th of November, 
1806. She seems also to have suffered severely from 
a pecuniary misadventure, arising from a generous 
indiscretion rather than from prodigality. Writing, 
in 1814, to her nephew, the Honourable Robert Fulke 
Grreville (Mr. Charles Greville's brother) about her 
financial involvements, she attributed them, at least 
in a considerable degree, to 'her good 'nature in 
being bail for a person whom she thought honour- 
able.' Of course no statement made by Lady Hamil- 
ton in her later time respecting her affairs is a state- 
ment to be received with implicit confidence, or 
without suspicious mindfulness of the - inexactness 
that qualified most of her utterances in her closing 
years. But to the nephew, to whom she looked for 
payments of her Hamilton annuity, after his brother 
Charles's death in 1809, she would scarcely have 
written such words, had not circumstances in some 
degree justified them. Writing to him for the purpose 
of inducing him to send her money, she would hardly 
bave penned words directly at variance with what 


he probably knew of the principal cause of her 
pecuniary distress. It may, therefore, be assumed 
that one of the immediate causes of her withdrawal 
from Merton, and appeal to her friends for assist- 
ance, was her folly in becoming surety for some one 
who, on escaping from gaol, left her to pay the 
penalty of misplaced confidence. During the same 
period she was doubtless drained of much money 
by her necessitous cousins, though she may be as- 
sumed to have exaggerated their exactions, when 
she wrote in the destroyed will (16th of October, 
1808) about her cousins Connor. She is said to have 
gambled, but I have no evidence that she lost much 
money by cards or dice. 

Whilst Lady Hamilton was living with wild and 
reckless prodigality at Merton and in Clarges Street 
during the two years next following the victory of 
Trafalgar, she quarrelled bitterly with Nelson's 
clerical brother William, and dropped in the esteem, 
without falling altogether out of the friendly regard, 
of other members of the Admiral's family. To the 
busy and excited people, who sided with Lady 
Hamilton in this quasi-family contention, it appeared 
that, while Nelson's sisters were distinctly wanting 
in generous consideration for the woman whom their 
brother had loved, the Earl who had succeeded to the 
Admiral's dignities treated her with scandalous harsh- 
ness, ingratitude, and malignity. Thinking this, they 
expressed then* low opinion of the Earl in terms of 
excessive fervour. To believe all they averred to 
the Earl's shame, is to believe that, after fawning 
for years on Lady Hamilton, and using her influence 


for the attainment of his selfish ambitions, he was 
quick to cheat, insult and defame her, as soon as she 
had lost the power to do him good and work him harm. 
By successive biographers it has been recorded, with., 
scathing disdain for so egregious an example of human 
falseness, how this clergyman thought no praise too 
great for his brother's mistress so long as he could 
hope to win through her influence a bishopric or 
a deanery, and how a few months later, when he no- 
longer needed her favour and feared her displeasure, 
he became keenly alive to the wickedness of her 
nature and the infamy of her career. 

It is not the present writer's purpose to offer the 
first Earl Nelson to the world's regard, as a faultless 
priest or stainless gentleman. On the contrary, he 
concurs in much that has been urged to the discredit 
of the whilom Norfolk parson, who lacked the scholar- 
ship and moral graces that usually distinguish the 
notables of the clerical order, and was in various 
respects a most unsatisfactory brother for so exem- 
plary a hero as Nelson. But justice requires it to 
be asserted in this chapter that, though he was an 
inferior and rather vulgar creature a noisy, self- 
indulgent priest, whose professional merit would have 
been fully rewarded by his appointment to the poor- 
est vicarage of his native county the Rev. William 
Nelson, D.D., prebendary of Canterbury, and first 
Earl Nelson by Fate's contrivance, was not so despic- 
able a person as successive biographers have declared 
him. Of the several charges brought against the 
Earl by Lady Hamilton's violent partisans, the gravest 
is that he forebore to prove at Doctors' Commons 


the famous codicil, by which. Nelson commended 
Horatia and her mother to the nation's care, and kept 
the existence of the document from the country's 
knowledge, until Parliament had voted the money 
for the maintenance of the hero's nearest kindred and 
successors ; his conduct in thus withholding the paper 
being attributed to his opinion that, in proportion as 
it might operate to Lady Hamilton's advantage, the 
publication of the writing would work to the disad- 
vantage of the Nelson family. ' The Earl,' says 
Pettigrew, ' fearful that Lady Hamilton should be 
provided for in the sum Parliament was expected to 
grant to uphold the hero's name and family, kept the 
codicil in his pocket until the day 120,000 was 
voted for that purpose. On that day he dined with 
Lady Hamilton in Clarges Street, and hearing at table 
what had been done, he brought forth the codicil, and 
throwing it to Lady Hamilton, coarsely said she 
might now do with it as she pleased. She had it 
registered the next day at Doctors' Commons.' 

This statement is strangely wanting in justice and 
truth, and Dr. Pettigrew is certainly none the less 
reprehensible for making the statement, because in 
subsequent pages of his Memoir of Lady Hamilton, 
he published with insufficient perspicacity certain 
facts, that demonstrate the essential falseness of the 
libellous allegation. The Earl may have given the 
paper to Lady Hamilton in Clarges Street, immedi- 
ately after hearing of the parliamentary vote ; and on 
giving her the paper he may have spoken words that 
were deficient in delicacy. But it is absolutely untrue 
that he kept the paper in his pocket, i.e. 9 withheld it 


from the knowledge of those, to whom he was bound 
in honour to exhibit the writing, until the money had 
been voted for himself and his family. 

The existence of the document and also its sub- 
stance appear to have been known to individuals, \vhc 
were Lady Hamilton's especial friends in ministeria 
circles, even before they were known to Nelson'* 
brother. The Victory in its homeward passage, witl 
Nelson's lifeless body on board, encountered adverse 
winds and rough weather, so that she did not read 
Spithead before December, 1805. The hero's inter- , 
ment in St. Paul's took place on 9th January, 1806. 
As soon as the well-named ship had anchored off 
Spithead, Captain Hardy hastened to Cuffhells to the 
Right Honourable George Rose, who, on the 9th of 
December, 1805, weeks before the interment, and 
months before the parliamentary vote for the Nelson 
family, wrote to Lady Hamilton a long letter, con- 
taining these words : 'You will learn from the Cap- 
tain that Lord Nelson, within the hour preceding the 
commencement of the action in which he immortalized 
his name, made an entry in his pocket-book, strongly 
recommending a remuneration to you for your ser- 
vices to the country when the fleet under his com- 
mand was in Sicily, after his first return from Egypt, 
on. which subject he had spoken to me with great 
earnestness more than once.' In the same long letter 
the Right Honourable George Rose promised Lady 
Hamilton, that he would take an early opportunity for 
communicating the memorandum to the prime minister, 
and supporting its prayer to the best of his ability. 
This promise would of course have been fulfilled by 


the most cordial and staunch of Lady Hamilton's sup- 
porters in high official circles, had it not been for 
Pitt's unanticipated illness and death. Thus soon 
after its arrival in England, was the codicil made 
known to the Privy Councillor, who undertook so 
promptly to use all his influence with the prime 
minister, for the achievement of the Admiral's pur- 
pose in making the entry in his pocket-book. Had 
Earl Nelson wished to keep the writing a secret from 
the persons, most capable of rendering its prayer 
effectual, he could not have done so, because they 
were no less cognizant than he of the existence and 
purport of the composition. There is no tittle of 
evidence that he had the wish. His action accords 
with the opinion, that he desired Lady Hamilton to 
have the full benefit of so solemn a record of his 
brother's desire. 

When he proved his brother's will, with, its seven 
codicils, in London on the 23rd of December, 1805, 
he took with him to Doctors' Commons the pocket- 
book containing the famous entry, and conferred with 
Sir William Scott on the propriety of dealing with the 
m emorandum as an eighth codicil. It was the opinion of 
certain high official persons that, as it spoke freely of 
Maria Caroline's action in assisting the British fleet, 
the famous entry should not be published to the 
Queen's possible injury ; and as the writing was not 
then dealt with like the other codicils, Sir William 
Scott seems to have concurred in this opinion. As the 
memorandum touched no item of the Admiral's estate, 
and in no way whatever affected the executor's power 
to deal with the estate, there was, of course, no need 



to prove the so-called eighth codicil, which, though 
drawn in the form of a codicil, was not really 
codicil, but merely a memorandum of a strong desire 
that two individuals should be cared for by the nation, 
and of the considerations which in the memorialist's 
opinion justified the desire. It having been decided 
that there was no need to prove the memorandum, 
which in no way related to the testator's estate, anc 
that, under the circumstances, it was better to regarc 
it as no part of the Admiral's testamentary writings 
Nelson's brother forbore to ask for probate of the 
note of commendation. But instead of ' putting it in 
his pocket,' in order that it should be seen by the 
fewest people possible, William Nelson left the note 
in the hands of Sir William Scott, who was known to 
told a strong opinion in favour of Lady Hamftori's 
claim to a pension. Writing to Lady Hamilton from 
Canterbury, when her mind was more occupied by 
her renewed hopes of getting the long-desired 500 
a-year than by grief for the loss of her hero. Lady 
Charlotte Nelson (afterwards Lady Bridport) said y 
c Sir William Scott came on Friday, and left us on 
Monday. He slept at our house. He talked a great 
deal about you, and says that you have great claims 
on Government, and we all sincerely wish they would 
do all they ought.' 

The so-called codicil, about which there has been, 
so much strong writing, remained in Sir William 
Scott's custody from the 23rd of December, 1805, to 
the 15th of February, 1806, when Nelson's brother 
recovered it from the judge (who wished well to 
Lady Hamilton) and carried it off not to keep it 


hidden in his pocket, but to lay it before Lord Gren- 
ville, who had succeeded Pitt in the premier's office, 
and who, from having been Foreign Secretary at a 
time when Lady Hamilton acted as a channel of inter- 
communication between her husband and Maria Caro- 
line, was peculiarly qualified to estimate the import- 
ance of the services, on which she based her claim to 
the nation's gratitude. In a memorandum, written 
by the first Earl Nelson, touching his action in respect 
to the famous codicil, it is said : c Accordingly Lord 
Nelson ' (the writer is speaking of himself) c took it 
from Sir William Scott and gave it ' (i.e., the pocket- 
book) c to Lord Grenville on the 15th of February 
last, and at the same time he read it to his Lordship 
and strongly pointed out to him the parts relative to 
Lady Hamilton and the child, and in doing this Lord 
Nelson observed to Lord Grenville that he thought 
he was most effectually promoting the interest of 
Lady Hamilton, and doing his duty, in which Lord 
Grenville acquiesced/ The writing was made known 
to Lady Hamilton's special champion, the Right 
Honourable George Kose ; it was carried by the first 
Earl Nelson to Doctors' Commons and left in Sir 
William Scott's hands for seven weeks and five days ; 
it was laid by Earl Nelson before the prime minister. 
Yet we are required to believe that Nelson's brother 
'kept the codicil in his pocket,' i.e., hidden away, 
lest it should operate to his disadvantage, in respect 
to the public grant for the maintenance of the digni- 
ties conferred on the hero during his life, and the 
higher dignity awarded to his family after his death. 
It is neither surprising, nor to their discredit, that 


Nelson's nearest kindred, without actually breaking 
with Lady Nelson, took towards Lady Hamilton the 
only course that offered them a fair chance of main- 
taining their affectionate familiarity with the man, 
who had been a steadily dutiful and considerate son 
to his old father, had at every point and turn of his 
career overflowed with generous tenderness for his 
sisters, and had been to his brothers what he was to 
every man with whom he joined hands a staunch, 
loyal, and unassuming friend. To the brother, who 
had ennobled them by his achievements and seized 
every occasion for furthering their welfare, the Rev- 
erend William Nelson, Mrs. Bolton, and Mrs. Matcham 
were under heavy obligations ; and, whilst owing him 
loyal service for the many services he had rendered 
them, it is certain that they regarded him with the 
strongest affection for qualities, which would have 
endeared him to them, had he never risen to be cap- 
tain of a c 74.' No shame to them that they did their 
utmost to live on easy terms with Lady Hamilton, 
and to think the best of her. It is not to be supposed 
that they ever in their hearts thanked her for Causing 
the rupture between him and Fanny Ijlisbet, putting 
him at war with his stepson Josiah, and throwing a 
cloud of scandal over his brilliant fame. Small cause 
had they to delight in her and rate her as a benefac- 
tress. But they were right in straining a point, and in 
truth several points, for the maintenance of harmony 
between themselves and the lovely woman, under 
whose dominion their brother had fallen. Though it 
was indicated by prudence, the way they took towards 
Lady Hamilton was none the less recommended by 


love ; and when, in a domestic difficulty, near kindred 
take the course, which is at the same time most 
agreeable to their affection, and most convenient to 
their self-interest, they should be assumed to have 
chosen it from generous rather than from sordid con- 
siderations. In dealing prudently with Lady Hamil- 
ton, William Nelson and his sisters probably felt they 
were doing what was best for Lady Nelson's chance 
of eventual reconcilement with her husband. 

It was the easier for Nelson's nearest kindred to < make 
the best ' of the lady, whom they must have regarded 
as a distinctly inconvenient and injurious intruder into 
their domestic circle, because circumstances spared 
them the necessity of thinking the worst of her inti- 
macy With the Admiral. The terms, in which Nelson, 
assured his father of the innocence of his attachment 
to the Patroness of the Navy, had utterly extinguished 
the o}d clergyman's suspicions, and fully satisfied him 
there was nothing to reprehend, on moral grounds, in 
his son's curious association with Sir William Hamil- 
ton's wife. Since their father's mind was so com- 
pletely set at rest on the suspicious point, it was the 
less difficult for his daughters to think the intimacy 
a platonic attachment. With his sure knowledge of 
Horatia's parentage, the cynical reader of this page 
may smile at old Mr. Nelson's simplicity ; but though 
he may smile and smile, he will think thrice, and then 
hesitate, before declaring it impossible for Nelson's 
nearest relations to have believed, that his regard for 
the Patroness of the Navy was a sinless sentiment. 

Dr. Pettigrew was rash and hasty in saying that, as 
a clergyman, William Nelson must have 'felt the 


Impropriety of his brother's mode of life with Lady 
Hamilton/ and was guilty of a deliberate outrage of 
social sentiment 'in placing his children under the 
roof of the woman, whom he must have regarded 
as the Admiral's mistress. If Dr. Nelson believed 
that his brother's alliance to Lady Hamilton was a 
platonic attachment, he only took the view which, 
after a careful consideration of the circumstances, 
Sir Hams Nicolas was strongly disposed to take, and 
scores of clever essayists have taken, of the same 
perplexing affair. Some readers of this chapter will, 
perhaps, concur with the present writer in thinking 
it upon the whole less probable, that the habitually 
truthful Nelson was wholly untruthful on this particu- 
lar business (to his father as well as other people), than 
that the incident, which resulted in Horatia's birth, was 
a never-repeated incident, and that, apart from the one 
incident, the intimacy was platonic, i.e. (to use Sir Harris 
Nicolas' s expression) was not ' in the usual sense of 
the word of a criminal nature.' It certainly makes 
for this view of the singular friendship that, though 
he had no second child by her, Nelson could so soon 
before his death write hopefully to Lady Hamilton 
of a time when they would have ' children,' should 
the Almighty remove the one impediment to their 

Whilst it is neither surprising, nor to their discredit, 
that during his life Nelson's nearest kindred lived on 
friendly terms with Lady Hamilton, there appears no 
sufficient reason for censuring them harshly because 
they saw less of her after his death. They did hot ' 
withdraw from her with an abruptness, that would 


have been insulting, and might therefore be stigma- 
tized as cruel. Lady Charlotte Nelson (afterwards 
Lady Bridport) wrote to her with sympathetic affec- 
tionateness after the Admiral's death. The first Earl 
Nelson moved Lord Grenville to compass the fulfil- 
ment of the desire, expressed in the famous codicil. 
For months after his brother's death he was in the 
habit of calling upon, writing to, and dining with 
Lady Hamilton. That she remained on affectionate 
terms with the Boltons for some time after Nelson's 
death appears from the destroyed will (dated on 7th 
October, 1806), in which she bequeathed Merton to 
Mrs. Bolton's heirs, in case Horatia should die with- 
out issue, and without making by her last will another 
disposal of the estate. That she was never treated 
with disrespect or coldness by the Matchams appears 
from the fact, that she appointed Mr. Matcham to be 
an executor of her last will, and confided her daugh- 
ter to Mrs. Matcham's care. Extravagantly untrue 
things have been said of the way in which Nelson's 
people abandoned the poor woman, as soon as her 
favour ceased to be valuable to them. 

That they saw less of her and liked her less in the 
three years next following Nelson's death, than in the 
four preceding years, was less due to their selfishness 
than to her perversity. Assiduous in conciliating 
them so long as Nelson lived, she became less than 
duly considerate for their feelings when he was dead. 
On recovering from her first and violent grief for the 
loss of her hero, she displayed a disposition to talk 
of his greatness as though she were largely account- 
able for it, and of the dignity that had come from his 


achievements to his kindred, as though they had 
reason to thank her for it. ' As her association with 
Nelson had in various ways been injurious to him, 
the Admiral's brother and sisters may be pardoned 
for remembering how hurtful it had been to them. 
As they were poor for the position, to which Nelson 
had raised them, the magnitude of the provision he 
had made for her and her child (a provision to be 
appraised at something like 25,000) may well have 
caused them to reflect, how much better it would 
have been for them, had 'their brother Horatio never 
fallen under the sway of Sir William Hamilton's wife. 
As, Nelson was the maker of his own high fortune, he 
had of course a right to do what he liked with his 
wealth, and they had no right to murmur at his dis- 
posal of so large a proportion of it. But, as his pro- 
vision for Lady Hamilton was so munificent, they 
were justified in thinking she should be grateful for 
it, and contented with it. When, instead of being 
satisfied with the hero's bountifulness to her, she 
spoke as though she were entitled not only to the 
25,000, but to a goodly portion of the money which 
Parliament was about to vote for the suitable endow- 
ment of his family, the Nelsons certainly had cause 
to think her grasping and greedy. On learning that, 
in her fury at missing the hoped-for slice of the 
nation's provision for the Nelson family, 'she charged 
him with having withheld the codicil, for the purpose 
of putting into his pocket money which, had he acted 
fairly, would have passed to her pocket; the first Earl 
Nelson may well have thought her an exceedingly 
unreasonable woman. 


On receiving the so-called codicil from the first 
Earl Nelson, Lady Hamilton caused it to be register- 
ed at Doctors' Commons. From the register of the 
Wills'-Office it passed quickly to the public papers. 
Lady Hamilton's claims to pecuniary recompense for 
her momentous services to her country having been 
thus put before the world, with a directness and 
universal publicity that had distinguished none of her 
previous solicitations for a pension, and at the same 
time in a form peculiarly qualified to commend them 
to general consideration, English society quickly 
formed itself in two parties, that for several years 
fought and wrangled with extravagant violence over 
the details of c a case,' so nicely suited to dinner-table 
controversy. Just as it squabbled and stormed in 
later times over Caroline of Brunswick's grievances, 
the Byron scandals, the Grorham controversy. Governor 
Eyre's doings in Jamaica, and the Wapping butcher's 
right to the Tichborne baronetcy and estates, English 
society went into eloquent madness over Lady 
Hamilton's case. Whilst the lady had a party of 
< friends/ who vowed to get her a pension in accor- 
dance with the dying Nelson's last prayer, she had a 
party of 'enemies' who deemed no noise excessive in 
showing reason, why England would forfeit her place 
as a Christian nation, if she pensioned the woman wha 
had murdered Caracciolo, lapt blood in southern Italy, 
distributed poisonous sweetmeats in Neapolitan prisons, 
tarnished Nelson's glory, and been the shameless 
paramour of five successive keepers. The frantic 
nonsense talked over * the case ' did not, of course, 
proceed altogether from one party. If the enemies y 


painted the lady far blacker than she was, and made 
far too much, of her peccadilloes, the c friends ' were 
guilty of corresponding absurdities in their eagerness 
to prove that Emma Hamilton was an angel of light, 
and the supreme benefactress of her native land. Of 
course, also, the disputants of either party comprised 
many persons, who uttered their views on 'the case ' 
with good sense and moderation. Whilst some of the 
i enemies ' were content to urge that to give a woman 
of Lady Hamilton's peculiar story a national pension 
would be a dangerous precedent, some of the c friends,' 
avoiding the multifarious questions anent her merits 
and demerits, merely insisted that, remembering how 
much they owed him, the people of Great Britain 
should have complied with their great Admiral's dying 
request, even if it had been something far more ex- 
travagant than a prayer for pensions to a woman and 
child, in whom he was interested. 

It was not from want of persuasive advocates and 
powerful friends, that Lady Hamilton failed to the 
last in her repeated solicitations for the pension, which 
surely might have been granted to her without any evil 
consequence to the country. George Rose did all he 
could for her in the matter, and Canning also favoured 
her cause after Pitt's death; and both these honour- 
ably-remembered statesmen would have continued to 
befriend her to the last, had she not said what was 
untrue of them in a petition which she addressed to the 
Prince Regent. In losing their countenance she was 
severely, though justly, punished for the failing, that 
makes it so difficult to say what reliance should be put 
on any statement she made in her later years, a fail- 


ing all the more remarkable, as in her earlier time she 
was incapable of any form of falsehood. That she 
missed the pension, for which she begged so impor- 
tunately, may doubtless be attributed in some degree, 
to the violence of the rank-and-file of her * friends ' 
and her < enemies.' As no pension they dared grant her 
would have satisfied the ' friends,' and any pension they 
could grant her would have infuriated the c enemies,' 
ministers thought it best to do nothing for her, and to 
forbear to offend fi the powerful influence,' that had 
watched her whole course with disfavour. Of course 
she did not deserve the pension, which, had she 
obtained it when she first sued for it, or in the winter 
of 1805-6, when she doubtless felt the loss of Nelson's 
allowance, would have proved impotent to save her 
from financial ruin, after the passion for throwing away 
money had taken possession of her. What could an 
additional 500 a-year have done for the permanent 
comfort of the woman, who had in so few years wasted 
to a trifle the ample income left to her by her hus- 
band, and the handsome provision Nelson made for 
her. Her services to England were her services to 
Maria Caroline, who paid her for them with queenly 
munificence with, social recognition, place at court, 
her royal friendship and kisses, with diamonds and 
coach-loads of dresses. She had no more to do with 
the battle of St. Vincent, than she had to do with the 
battle of Solebay. The King of Spain's letter in. 
cypher, a copy of which she transmitted to our 
Foreign Minister after extorting it from Maria Caroline, 
was a letter given to her freely by the Queen of the 
Two Sicilies, who had already furnished Sir William 


Hamilton with the key to the cypher. Had she never 
teen born, Nelson's ships would have watered and 
victualled just as readily at Syracuse. Her services 
to humanity, of which the clever Blackwood essayist 
wrote so strenuously, were as fictitious as her alleged 
services to England. She no more saved Maria 
Caroline and Ferdinand from the guillotine, than she 
consigned Louis and Marie Antoinette to death. Her 
part in the flight from Naples to Palermo was only 
the part of an efficient court-lady, who did what her 
royal mistress told her. The services to humanity, 
for which she has been commended, are no less 
imaginary than the crimes against humanity, for 
which she has "been condemned, by fanciful writers. 

No wonder the 'cold-hearted Grenville,' (as she 
called him), received her prayer for a pension in a 
way that nettled her. He knew too well for her pur- 
pose what had been her real position at the Neapolitan 
court ; and he answered her c friends ' frigidly, not 
because his heart was cold, but because his head was 
clear. It is ludicrous to say, or even suggest, that she 
deserved a pension. And yet one cannot help feeling 
that the pension ought to have been granted to her, 
since Nelson begged so solemnly with his dying breath 
that it should be given. 

Lady Hamilton had already retired from Merton, 
&nd established herself at Eichmond, when she wrote 
unavailingly, on the 4th of September, 1808, to the 
Duke of Queensberry, begging him to give her 15,000 
for Nelson's villa, with its furniture. Something 
more than two months later (25th of November, 
1808), when some of her wealthier well-wishers met at 


the house of Alderman Sir John P erring, baronet, 
to confer on the state of her affairs, and see what 
could be done to extricate her from her difficulties, 
the already- given statement of her debts and assets 
was laid before them. The result of the conference 
was that she assigned Merton Place and her effects 
to Sir John P erring, Mr. Alexander Davis on, Mr. 
Abraham Goldsmid, Mr. Richard Wilson, and Mr. 
Germain Lavie, in trust, with power to sell them 
at their discretion, for the satisfaction of her creditors 
and the re-adjustment of her affairs. At the same 
time, six of the gentlemen at the meeting (Mr. Davi- 
son, Mr. Goldsmid, Sir Robert Barclay, Mr. John 
Gooch, Mr. Wilson, and Sir John Perring) subscribed 
3,200 for her immediate relief. 

Between the date of this arrangement with c her 
friends ' and the date of her af ore-mentioned letter 
to the Duke of Queensberry, Lady Hamilton dated 
at Richmond, on the 16th of October, 1808, the later 
of the two destroyed wills, to which several refer- 
ences have been made in foregoing pages. The 
will, made at Richmond, is chiefly noteworthy for 
these opening sentences : { If I can be buried in 
St. Paul's, I should be very happy to be near the glori- 
ous Nelson, whom I loved and admired ; and as once 
Sir William, Nelson, and myself had agreed we should 
all be buried near each other, if the King had [not] 
granted him a public funeral, this would have been, 
that three persons who were so much attached to each 
other from virtue and friendship, should have been 
laid in one grave, when they quitted this ill-natured, 
slanderous world. But 'tis past, and in Heaven, 1 


hope, -we shall meet. If I am not permitted to be 
buried in St. Paul's, let me be put where I * shall 
be near my dear mother, when she is called from 
this ungrateful world.' That she could think her- 
self morally entitled not only to interment in St. 
Paul's Cathedral, but to a place in Nelson's tomb, 
shows what a wildly unreasonable woman Emma 
Hamilton became in her closing years. 

Having deteriorated steadily from the date of her 
return to England, the prematurely waning Beauty, 
henceforth till her death in a foreign land, deteriorated 
quickly in figure, complexion, style, tact, tone. Her 
day was over; but there still remained years for 
her to pass, under growing troubles and humiliations. 
In the year following her withdrawal from Merton, 
she lost her nephew and former protector, Mr. Charles 
Greville, on whose death, without known issue, Colonel 
Robert Fulke Greville (whilom Equerry to George 
III., and Gentleman Usher of Honour [for the one 
day] in attendance upon the Prince of Wales at the 
celebration of His Royal Highness's unfortunate mar- 
riage with Caroline of Brunswick, at the Chapel 
Royal, St. James's) succeeded to his Uncle Hamil- 
ton's Pembrokeshire estate, and was responsible for the 
payment of Lady Hamilton's annuity of 800. That 
this annuity was paid punctually to Lady Hamilton 
for some time subsequent to Mr. Charles Greville's 
death, appears from a noteworthy letter, that will soon 
be submitted to the reader. 

I am unable to state precisely how long Lady 
Hamilton lived at Richmond after leaving Merton; 
but she certainly had her home at Richmond on the 


12th of December, 1809, when she wrote this note 
to Messrs. Cadell and Davis, the publishers : 

'Lady Hamilton presents her compliments to Messrs. 
Cadell and Davis, and will be much obliged to them, if 
they will send her a copy of the Life of the glorious, good, 
and great Nelson by the bearer, and allso the price, as 
she does not know what the expense of the work is, and 
she will remit the money emediatly.' 

At the foot of this note appears the publishers* 
memorandum, fi Resides at Richmond.' It is probable 
that she moved from Richmond into Bond Street 
lodgings in the spring of the year 1810,, but she may 
have remained at the rural town to a later date. 
Anyhow, on leaving Richmond, she lived for a while 
with Horatia in lodgings at 150, Bond Street, where 
she was residing on the 4th of September, 1811, 
when she made this curious and characteristic will, 
which was registered at Doctors' Commons after her 
death : 

c September the fourth 1811. 

I Emma Hamilton of ISTo. 150 Bond Street London 
Widow of the Right Honourable Sir William Hamilton 
formerly Minister at the Court of Naples being in sound 
mind and body do give to my dearly beloved Horatia 
Nelson dau r of the great and glorious Nelson all that I 
shall be possessed of at my death money Jewells pictures 
wine furniture books wearing apparel silver gold-plated 
or silver-gilt utensils of every sort I may have in my house 
or houses or of any other persons' houses at my death any 
marbles bronzes busts plaster of Paris or in short every 
thing that belonged to me I give to my best beloved Horatia 
Nelson all my table linen laces ornaments in short every- 
thing that I have I give to her any m6ney either in the 
house or at my bankers all debts that may be owing to 
me I beg that she may have I give to Horatia Nelson all 
silver with inscription with Yiscount Nelson's name on or 



his arms I give to her wou'd to G-od it was more for her 
sake I do appoint George Macham Esq re of Ashford 
Lodge in the County of Sussex and the Bight Hon ble 
George Eose of Old Palace Yard Westminster my Ex ora 
and I leave them Guardians to my dear Horatia Nelson 
and I do most earnestly entreat of them to be the Protectors 
and Guardians and be Fathers to the Dau r of the great and 
glorious Nelson and it is nay wish that H.E-. Highness 
the Prince Regent or if before my death he shall become 
King that he will provide for the said Horatia in such 
a manner that she may live as becomes the dau r of such 
a man as her victorious Father was and as His Royal 
Highness often promised me that he wou'd have me re- 
munerated when he had it in his power for the services 
that I have rendered to my King and Country and as 
I have never been remunerated nor ever received one six- 
pence from Government let me on my knees beg of His 
Royal Highness to provide for the said Horatia Nelson 
the only child of the Great and Glorious Nelson and I 
beg after my death that a copy of this my last will and 
testament may be sent to His Royal Highness the Prince 
Regent or if he is King it may be sent to His Majesty for 
His high worth honor and probaty and the friendship which 
he had for Nelson will induce him to protect his child for 
me H.H.H 8 always shewed me the greatest kindness and 
for the sake of Sir William Hamilton whom His R. High- 
ness so highly honoured that he will provide for the orphan 
Horatia when my head is laid low she will want pro- 
tection therefore to God Almighty to His R. Highness 
and to my Ex ora do I most earnestly recommend her on 
my knees blessing her and praying for her that she may 
be happy virtuous good and amiable and that she may 
remember all the kind instructions and good advice I have 
given her and may she be what her great and immortal 
Father wished her to be brought up with virtue honor religion 
and rectitude Amen Amen Amen I do hereby annull all 
wills made by me formerly and I beg that this may be con- 
sidered as my last will and testament written with my own 
hand this September the fourth 1811, Emma Hamilton. If 
I shall have any money in the Funds or landed property at 
my death I give to the said Horatia Nelson all and every- 


thing belonging to me and if she shall dye before she shall 
be able to make her will I give all that I have bequeathed 
her to the dau rs of Mr. John and Amy Moore my late Aunt 
and Uncle and now living in Moore Street Liverpool and I 
pray to God to bless them but I hope my dear Horatia will 
live to happy and marry well and I hope that she will make 
her will as soon as I am dead for I do absolutely give her all 
I have I still hope Mr. Macham and Mr. Rose will see to 
the educating of Horatia and that she may live with Mrs. 
Macham's family till she is disposed to some worthy man in. 
marriage I forgot to mention that I also give Horatia all my 

china glass crockery ware of every sort that I have 


Signed sealed published and declared by Emma Lady Hamilton 
as her last will and testament in the presence of Thomas Coxe 
A.M. William Haslewood of Fitz Roy Square, Middlesex. 

The registration of this curious essay in rigmarole is 
followed, in the Wills' Office register by a memorandum, 
that (George Macham esq. and the Right Honourable 
George Rose having disregarded the court's citations 
for them to accept or refuse probate and execution of 
the will, and Horatia Nelson, a minor, having in like 
manner disregarded the court's citation for her to 
accept or refuse letters of administration with the 
said will annexed) administration (with the will 
annexed) of the goods etc. of Dame Emma Hamilton 
late of Calais in France was granted on the 6th of 
March, 1816, c to William Tabor of Camaby Market 
in the county of Middlesex gentleman, as a person 
na,med by and on the part and behalf of John Smith 
and George Goodwin gentlemen, limited to the purpose 
only to attend supply substantiate and confirm the 
proceedings which have already been had or which 
shall or may hereafter be had in certain causes or 
suits commenced or intended to be commenced in the 


High Court of Chancery or any other causes "or suits 
which may hereafter be commenced between the said 
parties or any parties touching and concerning the 
premises etc.,' words pointing with sufficient direct- 
ness to the litigation that resulted from Lady Hamil- 
ton's financial embarrassments, both before and after 
her death. 

A noteworthy feature of the will is Lady Hamilton's 
steady forbearance to speak of Horatia as her off- 
spring, whilst repeatedly declaring her to be Nelson's 
daughter. Lady Hamilton was persistent in denying 
that she was the mother of the child, to whom she gave 
birth (probably at 23 Piccadilly), under already stated 
circumstances. In his edition of Nelson's * Dispatches 
and Letters' (vide vol. vii. pp. 369, 389) Sir Harris 
Nicolas declared himself to have the authority of Mr. 
Haslewood, for stating in the most positive manner 
that Lady Hamilton was not Horatia's mother. 
According to Sir Harris Nicolas, Mr. Haslewood could 
have told who was the child's mother, had not an 
obligation of honour constrained him to keep the 
name secret. What authority Mr. Haslewood had for 
speaking to this effect of Horatia's parentage does 
not appear. He was, no doubt, one of Nelson's con- 
fidential friends, and on divers matters one of his pro- 
fessional advisers; but it is not conceivable that 
Nelson was in any degree the cause of his friend's 
egregious error respecting the child, on whose birth 
Nelson congratulated Lady Hamilton as the birth of 
their child, saying, C I never had a dear pledge of love 
till you gave me one, and you, thank my God, never 
gave one to anyone else/ It may be assumed con- 


fidently that Mr. Haslewood's misconception resulted 
from statements made to him by Lady Hamilton, who 
made and left behind her in writing this shameful 
piece of false testimony respecting her own child's 
maternal parentage : c She is,' Lady Hamilton wrote 
in a paper, that was submitted to Sir Harris Nicolas, 
'the daughter, the true and beloved daughter of 
Viscount Nelson, and if he had lived, she would have 
been all that his love and fortune could have made 
her ; for nature has made her perfect, beautiful, good 
and amiable. Her mother was TOO GREAT TO BE 
MENTIONED, but her father, mother, and Horatia had 
a true and virtuous friend in EMMA HAMILTON.' It 
was thus, whilst cautiously forbearing to mention 
Maria Caroline by name, Lady Hamilton had the un- 
utterable baseness to declare her own illegitimate 
child to be the illegitimate offspring of the Queen, 
who had distinguished her with caresses, loaded her 
with favours, and rewarded her services, with royal 

It is not surprising that Lady Hamilton denied, and 
persisted in denying, that she was the mother of the 
illegitimate child to whom she gave clandestine birth, 
whilst living with her husband. On the contrary, it 
would have been passing strange, had she confessed to 
her acquaintance a truth so discreditable to her as a 
wife, and so certain, were it divulged, to deprive her of" 
the sympathy of the most respectable supporters of 
her claims to the nation's consideration. For her 
denial of a fact she was under no obligation to 
publish to her own discredit, for tbe negative untruth 
respecting a matter about which no One had a right 


to question her, no generous censor will throw hard! 
words at the adventuress. Nor is there any need to 
judge her severely for the many exaggerations and 
the several wholly baseless statements, with which 
she garnished her story of her services to, and 
sacrifices of property for, the honour of her country. 
In respect to a large proportion of these last-named 
inaccuracies, it may indeed be fairly urged that she 
was not so much the utterer of wilful untruths, as the 
mere victim of her own delusive fancy. But her 
positive untruth to Maria Caroline's infamy admits of 
no apology. It lives and must ever live in personal 
story as about the vilest lie ever told by one woman 
of another woman. 

Maria Caroline was no angel. She has no strong 
title to admiration and sympathy, albeit she has some 
weak claims to both. But, having regard to Emma 
Hamilton's vile and poisonous lie about her, most 
readers of this page will find themselves so far on the 
slandered Queen's side, as to rejoice that, when Nelson 
entreated her to use her influence with the court of 
St. James's in support of Emma Hamilton's claim for 
a pension, she disappointed and nettled Mm by the 
coldness with which she replied to his prayer, and 
the reluctance she displayed to do anything more for 
the woman whose services she had already requited 
lavishly. Had she shown alacrity and fervour in 
supporting the prayer for her pension, had she on 
hearing of Emma Hamilton's straitened circumstances 
sent her money or another gift of diamonds, her 
action would have been tortured by Lady Hamilton'^ 
partisans into evidence, that the- Queen could not ven~ 


ture to disregard the appeal of the confidante, who 
was cognizant of Her Majesty's liaison with the Eng- 
lish admiral, and was the custodian of its issue. 

It was not in the nature of things for Lady Hamil- 
ton's creditors to allow her to rest at peace in any of 
the places she inhabited between her retirement from 
Merton and her flight to Calais. After leaving her 
lodgings in Bond Street, she found for a brief while 
an asylum at Fulham under the roof of her friend, 
Mrs. Billington the actress. Powerless to elude for 
any long period those of her creditors who were set 
on extreme measures against her, Lady Hamilton 
was arrested for debt and sent to the King's Bench 
prison in the summer of 1813. In saying that she 
was a prisoner for about ten months, her biographers 
seem to have been guilty of no exaggeration ; but 
they were not justified in representing that she spent 
these months actually within the prison. If for a brief 
while she was held within the prison itself, she soon 
obtained permission to live at 12, Temple PJace, within 
'the rules' of the Bench, where she received her 
friends, and enjoyed a degree of liberty that rendered 
her detention far less galling and irksome than the 
lot of a prisoner within the walls. 

She was thus lodging with Horatia at 12, Temple 
Place, within c the rules,' when, on the last day of 
July, 1813, she wrote this characteristic note to Sir 

or Mr. Thomas Lewis, 

1 12 Temple Place : Saturday. 

c Mr DEAR SIR THOMAS, Will you come to-morrow to meet 
our good pope and Mr. Tegart. It is the first of Agust 
(sic), do come, it is a day to me glorious, for I largely con- 
tributed to its success, and at the same time it gives me pain 


and grief, thinking on the Dear lamented Chief, who so 
"bravely won the day, and if you come we will drink to his 
immortal memory. He cou'd never have thought that his 
Child and my self shou'd pass the anniversary of that vic- 
torious day were we shall pass it, but I shall be with a few 
sincere and valuable friends, all Hearts of Gold, not Pinche- 
back, and that will be consoling to the afflicted heart of your 
faithful Friend, 


The good pope, as she styles Mm with heavy play- 
fulness, seems to have been the Abbe Campbell, who 
is said to have paid her frequent visits in the King's 
Bench 'rules.' Though the addressee of the in- 
vitation is styled c Sir Thomas ' in the note, he is 
styled c esquire ' in the superscription, ' Thomas Lewis, 
Esquire, Buckingham Street, Strand/ The note 
bears on the outside four postal stamp-marks and 
two written memoranda : (1) fc Two Pence Unpaid 
Circus,' showing that the writer omitted to prepay 
the letter; (2) 1 o'clock Jy 31, 1813, Nn.,' the day 
on which the letter was written and posted ; (3) 2 
o'clock 2 Au, 1813, Nn. ; (4) 12 o'clock 3 Au, 1813, Nn. ;' 

(5) the written memorandum, c Not known in Bucking- 
ham Street, Strand Jas. Welch,' showing that the 
postman, James Welch, could learn nothing about 
Sir or Mr. Thomas Lewis in Buckingham Street; and 

(6) the written memorandum, c Gone away W. Hay- 
ward,' showing that the postal officer, W. Hay ward, 
certified that Sir or Mr. Thomas Lewis had gone 
away. Let it be added that in 1813 the anniversary 
of the battle fell on Sunday the 1st of August, 
whereas in 1812 it fell on Saturday 1st of August, and 
in 1814 fell on Monday 1st of August. The three* 


several postal brands put it beyond question that the 
letter was posted in July, 1813, and remained in the 
keeping of the post-office on at least the three fol- 
lowing days. No letter was ever in England stamped 
on three several days with three several postal brands, 
each of which marked the wrong year. It is there- 
fore certain that Lady Hamilton was living within 
the Bench prison 'rules' on the 31st of July, 1813, 
and was then preparing to crack a bottle with a 
few staianch friends at 12, Temple Place, on the mor- 
row, in celebration of the victory of the Nile. It is 
well that this should be made clear to the reader. 

I cannot speak precisely as to the dates of the 
beginning and ending of Lady Hamilton's term of 
detainment in the King's Bench 'rules.' After allud- 
ing to her residence in the Bond Street lodgings, 
Pettigrew says, 6 She was, however, soon obliged to 
secrete herself from the pursuit of her creditors, 
but in 1813 she was imprisoned in the King's Bench. 
From this confinement, after ten months, she was 
liberated by the kind assistance of Mr. Alderman 
Joshua Jonathan Smith, a man of most upright con- 
duct, and kind heart and disposition,' but he says 
nothing that points to the month in which her in- 
carceration began. It is, however, certain, as she 
was at 12, Temple Place, on the last day of July, 
1813, that several writers have erred in repre- 
senting that her flight to Calais was made before the 
4th of that month. For reasons that will be given 
in the next and last chapter of this memoir, it may be 
regarded as certain, that her flight to France was 
made in the spring or summer of 1814 instead of the 


summer of 1813, and that her sojourn at Calais, where 
she died on the 15th of January, 1815, cannot have 
much exceeded six or seven months, and was shorter 
by about a year than some of her biographers repre- 

Her liberation from prison seems to have been 
consequent on Alderman Smith's action in offering 
himself as her surety. The worthy alderman's inter- 
vention, however, was less beneficial than he hoped it 
would prove to her. The creditor, in respect to whose 
claim the alderman became her bail, was only one of 
several creditors who were pursuing her with just 
or fictitious claims. Apprehensive of reconsignment 
to gaol at the suit of a coach-builder, Lady Hamilton, 
had not long regained her liberty, when she used it 
(with her surety's permission and assistance) to escape 
from England. Embarking one evening at the Tower 
with Horatia (by this time a bright, clever, well- 
grown girl in her 14th year) for her companion, she 
dipt down the river, and made a rough and tedious 
passage to the French port. From a letter she wrote 
to the Right Honourable George Rose on the 4th of 
July, 1814, after she had recovered from her sea-sick- 
ness, put Horatia to a day-school, and enjoyed the 
diversion of a * fete-champtre pour les bourgeois ' that 
took place at two miles' distance from Calais, it is 
manifest that, if the evening of her ejnbarcation at 
the Tower was not on an evening of June 1814, it 
was an evening of an earlier month. 




Prom Tower Wharf to Calais Harbour Lady Hamilton's De- 
signs for her Life at Calais- Horatia at a Day-School Date 
of Emma's Arrival at Calais She Writes to the Hon. Robert 
Fulke Greville Good Cheer and sound Bordeaux The Hon. 
B. F. Greville declines to send Lady Hamilton a 100 His 
Attitude to his Uncle's Widow Monsieur de Rheims, the 
English Interpreter The Sieur Damy's House in the Rue 
Franchise Lady Hamilton pawns her Trinkets and Plate 
Failure of her Health Her last Illness Her Death, and 
Funeral Her honoured and dishonoured Grave Announce- 
ments of her Death in the Gazette de France and Morning 
post Confirmation of the Announcements Town-Talk 
about Emma Mr. Cadogan and Earl Nelson at Calais 
Absurd Slander on the Earl Final Judgment on Lady 

18141815 A.D. 

THE letter Lady Hamilton wrote to Mr. Eose on 4th 
of July, 1814, when she had been at least some days in 
Calais, as it appears in the diary of the Eight Honour- 
able George Eose, with editorial emendations of the 
writer's spelling and an erroneous year date, runs thus,, 

1 Hotel Dessin, Calais, 

< July 4, 1813. 

* We arrived here safe, dear 3 sir, after three days' sict> 
ness" at sea-r-as, for precaution, we embarked at the Tower> 
Mr. Smith v got me the discharge from Lord Ellenborough. 
I then begged Mr. Smith to withdraw his bail, for I 
would have died in prison sooner than that good man 
should have suffered for me, and I managed so well with. 


Horatia alone, that I was at Calais before any new writs 
could be issued out against me. I feel so much better from 
change of climate, food, air, large rooms, and liberty, that 
there is a chance I may live to see Horatia brought up. I 
am looking out for a lodging. I have an excellent French- 
woman, who is good at everything ; for Horatia and myself 
and my old dame, who is coming will be my establishment. 
Near me is an English lady, who has resided here for 
twenty-five years ; who has a day-school, but not for eating 
and sleeping. At eight in the morning I take Horatia ; 
fetch her at one ; at three we dine ; and then in the evening 
we walk. She learns everything; piano, harp, languages 
grammatically. She knows French and Italian well, but 
she will still improve. Not any girls but those of the first 
families go there. Last evening we walked two miles to a 
fete-ckampetre pour les bourgeois. Everybody is pleased with 
Horatia. The General and his good old wife are very good 
to us ; but our little world of happiness is in ourselves. If, 
my dear sir, Lord Sidmouth would do something for dear 
Horatia, so that I can be enabled to give her an education, 
and also for her dress, it would ease me, and make me very 
happy. Surely he owes this to Nelson. For G-od's sake do 
3ry for me, for you do not know how limited. I have left 
everything to be sold for the creditors who do not deserve 
anything ; for I have been the victim of artful mercenary 
wretches, and my too great liberality and open heart has 
been the dupe of villains. To you, sir, I trust, for my 
dearest Horatia, to exert yourself for me, and that will be 
an easy passport for 

Every reader must regard this epistle as having 
Tbeen penned after the writer had been a good many 
days, probably three or four weeks, possibly a couple 
of months in Calais. She has regained her spirits and 
bodily vigour, finds herself much better for the 
change of air and diet, is looking out for a desirable 
apartment into which to move from the hotel, has 
selected a school for her child and put her into it, is 
in the habit of taking her to the school at eight a.m., 


is satisfied with the progress the girl is' making in 
her studies, and delighted by the good opinions people 
have of the darling. Such a letter cannot have been 
written within a week of the writer's arrival in Calais, 
The writer must have been two or three weeks in 
Calais, may have been there for two months. 

Biography would have us believe that this letter 
was written on the 4th of July, 1813, by the woman 
who on the 31st of that month was calling her 
London friends together to crack a bottle on the 
morrow at 12, Temple Place, in celebration of the vic- 
tory of the Nile. Clearly the editor of the statesman's 
c Diary ' is wrong by an entire year as to the date of 
the epistle. I have not seen the MS. of the epistle ; 
but from my knowledge of Emma Hamilton's epis- 
tolary ways, and from my experience of editorial slips? 
I see how the error may be accounted for. She 
usually gave the day-date, but as often as not omitted 
the year-date, in the headings of her letters. The 
epistle in the original was, perhaps, dated ' July 4 y 
without the year. Sir Harris Nicolas (vide 6 Dispatches 
and Letters/ vol. vii, p. 395) gives c the 6th of Janu- 
ary, 1814,' as the date of Lady Hamilton's death. 
Settling the letter's date by Sir Harris's authoritative 
book, the editor of the Diary would think the epistle 
written in July, 1813. 

There having been some curious misrepresentations 
of Lady Hamilton's way of living at Calais, and also 
of her pecuniary circumstances at the time of her 
coming there, readers will be thankful for some 
information on both points. 

Hitherto, it has been the humour of biography (a 


lying jade !) to represent that Lady Hamilton had 
utterly exhausted her pecuniary resources when, she 
arrived at Calais ; that, on coming to Calais with only a 
trifle in her pocket, she gladly accepted the shelter of 
a small house which Monsieur de Eheims (the English 
interpreter) charitably lent her ; and that, after sub- 
sisting miserably on a few sous a- day, till the 
charitable Mrs. Hunter provided her with meat and 
wine, she died in extreme destitution. < Mrs. Hunter,' 
says Dr. Pettigrew, 'was in the habit of ordering 
meat daily at a butcher's for a favourite little dog, 
and on one of these occasions was met by Monsieur 
de RJheims, who followed her exclaiming, " Ah ! 
Madame ! Ah, ! Madame ! I know you to be good to 
the English ; there is a lady here that would be glad 
of the worst bit of meat you provide for your dog !" ' 
The result of this pathetic appeal, according to the 
biographer and his several followers, was that Mrs. 
Hunter bade Monsieur de Rheims provide Lady 
Hamilton with proper viands and wine. Biography 
did not quite go the length of averring that Lady 
Hamilton lived on dog's-meat. It was enough for the 
famous Beauty's personal historians to assert that she 
would have been glad of the flesh, bought for a 
favourite little dog. But from the fanciful exagger- 
ation of the lady's 'want of pence' the notion has 
arisen, that Nelson's Lady Hamilton lived in her later 
time on scraps of meat, given her by the charitable Mrs. 
Hunter, then of Calais and afterwards of Brighton. 

What are the facts of the case ? 

Though she had in a few years made * ducks and 
drakes ' of a provision, that might be called a ' fine , 


property ' for a "widow with only a single child on her 
hands, the state of Lady Hamilton's finances, when she 
arrived at Calais, was not so desperate as biographical 
romance has declared it. Kindly and free-handed 
Alderman Smith did not press her hand for the last 
time without having first put a purse of gold into it. 
She still had for her own and her child's maintenance 
the yearly interest (200 per annum] of the 4,000 
settled on Horatia. Though she had pledged a con- 
siderable proportion (perhaps, three-fourths) of her 
Hamilton pension to annuitants, she was still entitled 
to some of it. Moreover, by one of the twenty-five 
incomplete codicils to the will he left behind him at 
his death in 1810, that not wholly graceless old scamp, 
the Duke of Queensberry, had left her an annuity of 
500 for her life, to console her for the failure of her 
attempts to extort a pension of that amount from the 
country. It is true that the Chancery lawyers were 
wrangling over the Duke's incomplete codicils; but 
the opinion that the legacies would be paid was so 
prevalent, as to give them a marketable value. Con- 
sequently, Emma Hamilton's resources were not 
utterly exhausted when she came to Calais, some 
seven or eight months before her death. As life and 
prices went at Calais in the earlier decades of the 
present century, the 200 a-year from the money * 

* That Lady Hamilton used the interest of this money at 
Calais for her own necessities, as well as for her child's main- 
tenance and education, we know from Horatia herself, who (vide 
Sir H. Kicolas's 'Despatches and Letters of Lord Nelson,' vol. 
vii, pp. 395, 396) wrote in later time, ' With all Lady Hamilton's 
faults and she had many she had many fine qualities, which, 
had she been placed early in better hand?, and in different cir- 
cumstances, would have made her a very superior woman, It is 


settled on Horatia was enough, for the child's main- 
tenance and education, and also for her mother's 
sustenance in the ways of gentility. 

It does not appear whether Emma Hamilton estab- 
lished herself in an apartment in Calais with her 
French maid, her ' old dame ' and Horatia, in accor- 
dance with the purpose she communicated to the 
Right Honourable George Rose. If she occupied at 
any time a house belonging to Monsieur de Rheims, 
she can have occupied it for only a few weeks. But 
dates dispose me to regard Monsieur de Rheims' s c small 
house' as having existed only in Mrs. Hunter's fancy . 
Probably Lady Hamilton lived en pension at the best 
hotel of Calais (Dessein's), until she moved into the 
lodgings in a farm-house two miles distant from 
Calais, which she was occupying in September, 1814, 
when she wrote the following letter to her nephew, 
the Honourable Robert Fulke Greville : 

4 Common of St. Piere, 2 miles from Calais. 

'Direct to me, chez Desin, Sep tr 21, [1814.] 
4 SIR, You know that my jointure of eightt hundred 
pounds a year has been now for a long time accumulat- 
ing. If I was to die I should and have left that money a 
way, for the anuitants have no right to have it, nor can 
they claim it, for I was most dreadfully imposed on for my 
good nature, in being bail for a person whom I thought 
honourable. When I came a way I came with honor, as 
Mr. Alderman Smith can inform you, but mine own inno- 

"but justice on my part to say that through all lier difficulties she 
invariably till the last few months expended on my education, 
&c., the whole of the interest of the sum left me by Lord Nel- 
son, and which was left entirely at her control. 7 The last few 
months ' of this passage, cover the months spent at Calais, and 
may perhaps cover some of the time Lady Hamilton and Horatia 
passed mthin the ' rules ' of the King's Bench prison. 


cence keeps me up, and I despise all false publications and 
aspersions. I have given every thing up to pay just debts, 
but anuitants I never will. Now, sir, let me intreat you to 
send me a hundred pound, for I understand you have the 
money. I live very quiet in a farm house, and my health 
is now quite established. Let me, Sir, beg this favour to 

' Your humble servant, 


4 P.S Sir W m Scott writes me there is some hopes to my 
irresistible claims. Such are his words. 

4 The best meat here five pence a pound, 2 quarts of new 
milk 2 pence, fowls 13 pence a couple, ducks the same. We 
bought two fine turkys for four shillins, an excellent turbot 
for half -a- crown fresh from the sea, partriges five pence the 
couple, good Bordeux wine white and red for fiveteen pence 
the bottle, but there are some for ten sous halpeny. Lord 
Cathcart past thro 3 days ago. Horatia improves in person 
& education every day. She speaks french like a french 
girl, Italian, german, english, &C.* 

Receiving this letter at his house, Great Cumber- 
land Street, Oxford Street, on the 26th of September, 
the Honourable Robert Fulke Greville answered it on 
the following day. 

For some time after it devolved on him to pay 
Lady Hamilton's annuity, the Honourable Robert 
Fulke Greville had made the payments with precise 
punctuality, when he received a letter from certain 
lawyers informing Mm, that Lady Hamilton had 
assigned c the greater part ' of the 800 a-year to one 
of their clients, for moneys paid by him to her. 
Under these circumstances the lawyers warned the 
^Honourable Robert Fulke Greville to discontinue 
paying to Lady Hamilton the proportion of the 
annuity she had sold to their client. On receiving 
this notice, Sir William Hamilton's nephew assumed 



he should soon hear from Lady Hamilton about what 
he deemed to be a mysterious business ; but she sent 
him no letter in accordance with this reasonable 
anticipation. Her silence determined him to hold the 
annuity with a firm hand, and pay her no part of it, 
till she explained to him how matters stood ; and in 
this resolve he was confirmed by his own legal 
advisers. Thus the affair remained, without any 
correspondence between the owner of the Welsh 
estate and Lady Hamilton, till on the 21st of Septem- 
ber, 1814, she wrote 1 to him asking him for a hundred 
pounds of the moneys, that had accumulated in his 
hands. The application was unsuccessful. Instead 
of getting a remittance from Great Cumberland 
Street, Lady Hamilton only received a notification of 
her nephew's resolve to pay her no more money, till 
he was assured by competent advisers that he should 
be perfectly secure from loss in doing so. This dis- 
appointing announcement of her nephew's attitude 
and temper may be assumed to have come to Lady 
Hamilton at the end of September or on an early day 
of October, 1814. 

Remaining at the farm-house till the shortening 
days grew colder, Lady Hamilton returned to Calais 
on the approach of winter and became the tenant of 
the little house in the Rue Franqaise where she died 
a few weeks later. Dr. Pettigrew says, on the 
authority of Mrs. Hunter, c When Lady Hamilton fled 
to Calais, Monsieur de Eheims gave to her one of his 
small houses to live in/ a statement that implies 
something more than that Monsieur de Kheims 
accepted her for his tenant, and, instead of requiring 


the first rent to be paid in advance, consented to wait 
for it till she received money from England. But the 
little house in the Kue Franaise did not belong to 
Monsieur de Bheims. The records of the Municipality 
of Calais show that it belonged to the Sieur Damy, 
when Emma Hamilton lived and died in it. Mrs. 
Hunter's memory or fancy must have betrayed her on 
divers points when, long after 1814, she spoke to Dr. 
Pettigrew of the circumstances under which she made 
Lady Hamilton's acquaintance. It is improbable 
that Mrs. Hunter, who was living in retreat at Calais 
and there superintending her boy's education, dis- 
covered Lady Hamilton's name and made her ac- 
quaintance only a few days before her death. In so 
small a place as Calais, where she lived openly for 
several weeks atDessein's Hotel and was daily receiv- 
ing letters, addressed to her under her own notorious 
name, Lady Hamilton must surely have been known by 
sight and name to every coterie and individual of the 
English colony of so small a town. That she was on 
terms of intimacy with several of the Calaisians is 

The dog's-meat story is a thing to be laughed over, 
not believed. Such meat was no food for the lady 
who, at the farm-house, lived on turbot and turkey, 
fricasseed chickens and roast ducks, partridges and 
omelets, washed down with good Bordeaux wine. 
There is, however, no room for doubt that, on return- 
ing from the farm to Calais at the approach of winter, 
without the hundred pounds she hoped to get from her 
nephew Robert Fulke Greville, Emma Hamilton suffer- 
ed from the eternal want of pence, that has troubled so 



many charming people. To raise a sufficient fund of 
pocket-money, with which to tide over the weeks that 
lay between her present needs and the next remit- 
tance of the 200 a-year from Horatia's money, she 
was compelled to pawn some of the few trinkets and 
small pieces of plate, which she had brought with her 
from England. But to her last hour the fallen 
Beauty, who could have raised money on what re- 
mained to her of her Hamilton annuity, and on what 
there was reason to think she would get from the 
Duke of Queensberry's estate, and who still had 
friends like Alderman Smith and Alexander Davison 
to help her at a pinch, never suffered at Calais from 
the extreme indigence in which she is generally 
imagined to have perished. 

That she died at the comparatively early age of 
fifty-one is not surprising. From, the outset of her 
Neapolitan career, her habits were unfavourable to 
her chances of longevity. Delighting in the pleas- 
ures of the table, she had been an epicurean gour- 
mande for a quarter-of-a-century, and, without doing 
anything to justify the worst stories of her intemper- 
ance, had taken the champagne she 4 loved ' with a 
freedom, for which she had now for some time been 
paying the customary penalties. In the case of a man 
one would not hesitate to apply the term ' hard living' 
to the kind of self-indulgence that had for years 
incapacitated Lady Hamilton for invigorating bodily 
exercise, and made her, in various ways, much older 
than her years. A long succession of keenly-worrying 
excitements, closing with ten months of imprisonment 
in the purlieu of an unwholesome gaol, had wrought 


her constitution irreparable injury, before she started 
from the Thames on a voyage, that was scarcely less 
stormy than her flight from Naples to Palermo. That 
the poor woman, who had of late shown a disposition 
to dropsy, died in a few days of a chill that nipped 
her liver and clogged her lungs, was only what might 
have been anticipated. But to the last Emma Ham- 
ilton had so riant a smile, and so hearty a voice, and 
a presence so delusively significant of physical energy, 
that Londoners read with astonishment the paragraph 
of the Morning post, which, so late as the 25th of 
January, 1815, announced that she had ceased to live. 
^Respecting her illness and funeral, I can add no- 
thing to the scanty particulars which Pettigrew 
gathered long afterwards from Mrs. Hunter, who 
cannot be regarded as a strictly reliable authority, 
though there is no reason to suspect her of wilful 
inaccuracy in what she said to the biographer. The 
facts of her services to Emma Hamilton had been 
dressed and coloured by her fancy, when she spoke 
of them to the man of letters. It may, however, 
be believed that, on hearing of Emma's extreme 
illness from Monsieur de Bheims, she sent her needful 
offerings of food and wine ; that, after thus providing 
for -the invalid's necessities, she received expres- 
sions of gratitude from her lips; and that, when 
Lady Hamilton had breathed her last breath, she 
made th& arrangements for the funeral of the fallen 
adventuress, who lived in her recollection as * beauti- 
ful in death.' Placed in a cheap deal coffin, that, 
on its way from the Eue 3?ran9aise to the appointed 
grave, was covered by a pall, which Mrs. Hunter had 


made somewhat after the English fashion out of a 
white curtain and a black silk petticoat, Emma 
Hamilton found her last home in ground just outside 
Calais, a piece of the whilom Duchess of King- 
ston's garden, that had been consecrated for inter- 
ments. There being just then no English Protestant 
clergyman discoverable in Calais, an Irish half-pay 
officer, at Mrs. Hunter's request, read the Anglican 
order for the burial of the dead over the plain deal 
coffin, that was a few minutes later covered with 
earth, in the presence of the few witnesses of a, less 
pompous than pathetic ceremony. 

The graveyard, in which the once lovely Emma 
was thus put away at small charges for the under- 
taker, soon lost its sacred character, and became a 
yard for the storage of timber. After it had been 
thus put j to profane use, the graves ceased to be 
cared for, and, through want of pious attention, ere 
long passed from sight. Mrs. Hunter recalled how 
she had marked the spot of Emma's interment 
with a small piece of wood, bearing the words, 
'Emma Hamilton. England's Friend.' Speedily 
removed by some person whom it oif ended, this 
modest memorial was no less speedily replaced by 
Mrs. Hunter with a similar piece of wood, that, 
like the former tablet, soon disappeared from the 
ground in which it had been planted. As an armed 
sentry gave her to understand that, if she repeated 
the offence, he might feel it his duty to put a bullet 
or a bayonet into her, Mrs. Hunter forbore to make 
a third attempt to mark Emma's resting-place. la 
later time, however, the mound over her coffin was 


Illustrated by a stone bearing a Latin inscription. 
But the stone endured for only a brief term. Petti- 
grew says that it existed, albeit with a mutilated 
inscription, so late as 1833. But when he visited the 
whilom cemetery in the August of that year, my friend 
John Doran failed to discover either the memorial or 
any sure indication of the tomb. c The grave itself/ 
he says, ' was pointed out to us by a Calaisian, but its 
locality was only traditionary.' 

The length of time that followed her death, on 15th 
January, 1815, before the event was known in England, 
is an example of the slowness with which the news of 
interesting occurrences occasionally travelled from 
the Continent to London in George the Third's time. 
Five days had elapsed since her last breath when 
the Gazette de France announced that the celebrated 
Emma, widow of Sir William Hamilton, (had died 
at Calais, adding that her body would be carried 
across the water for burial in her native land. Five 
more days elapsed before the Morning Post of the 
25th of January, 1815, took this 'piece of news from 
the Gazette, and offered it to English readers. The 
news stirred various people who were wholly indif- 
ferent to questions touching the lady's moral worth 
or worthlessness. The Honourable Robert Fulke 
Greville was eager for a confirmation of the report, 
which declared his Pembrokeshire estate to be freed 
from a charge of 800 a-year. To divers litigants 
in the Court of Chancery, to the lawyers of those 
litigants, and to the actuaries of certain offices in 
which Lady Hamilton's life had been insured, for 
the security of people who had lent her money, and 


to the rank and file of her numerous creditors, the 
momentous question of the remaining days of Janu- 
ary, was whether the news of her death, was true 
or false. To ascertain the truth, the Honourable 
Eobert Fulke Greville lost no time in writing to 
the Prgfet of the D&partement du Pas de Calais, 
frankly owning that his interest in the matter was 
wholly of a pecuniary nature. When he had received 
the Prdfet's answer, during the evening of the 31st 
of January, it was soon rumoured throughout the 
town that Romney's * divine lady' had certainly 
passed away. 

For a few weeks the gossip of the town turned 
much on the famous Beauty's death. By her ; enemies * 
it was told how she had perished miserably, whipped 
in her last hours by agonizing anticipations of eternal 
punishment, and by ghastly visions of the murdered 
Caracciolo.* Her futile screams for the divine for- 
giveness had disturbed her neighbours in the Eue 
Fran^aise, throughout the closing days and nights 
of her mortal torture. According to rumour, she had 
been a deep drunkard In her last years. It was 
alleged, as though it were a matter to her discredit, 
that the poor woman had embraced the Catholic 
faith at Naples, and used to receive the sacrament 

* That this gossip had no foundation in fact, Sir Harris Nico- 
las was assured by a witness peculiarly qualified to speak on the 
matter. { Upon the authority of a lady who lived many years 
with Lady Hamilton,' says Sir Harris (vide 'Despatches and 
Letters, 7 vol. iii, p. 522,) ' and who scarcely ever quitted her room 
during the last week of her life, it is now declared that Lady 
Hamilton's ^ screams " and " remorse " about Caracciolo existed 
only in the imagination of the writer who described them, as she- 
was never known to have mentioned his name.' 


in the King's Bench 'rules' from a Catholic priest 
(the Abbe Campbell), who visited her regularly for 
spiritual purposes throughout the months of her 
residence in Temple Place. 

Whilst such things were said by her enemies, Lady 
Hamilton's ' friends ' were loud in declaring that she 
had saved England from the French, had lived and 
died a staunch Protestant, and would not have left 
an unpaid bill behind her, had England only treated 
her according to her deserts. 

On one point the 'friends' and 'enemies' told the 
same story. Lady Hamilton had died in extreme 
poverty. Indebted to the charity of strangers for 
the few comforts that alleviated the sufferings of her 
fatal illness, and for her almost beggarly interment, 
she had left behind her only a few francs (amounting 
to just twelve shillings of English money), a ward- 
robe and a few trifling effects that would be a poor 
equipment for a maid-servant, and a few duplicates 
of pawned plate and trinkets. That her possessions 
at Calais had indeed dwindled to a few articles, ap- 
praised at 228 francs, appears from an inventory of 
the effects, that was for some years, and probably 
still is, preserved at the bureau of the Juge de Paix. 

Whilst the Hon. Kobert Fulke Greville was await- 
ing the Prdfefs answer to his request for sure inform- 
ation of the truth or error of the Morning Posfs an- 
nouncement, two Englishmen Mr. Cadogan and the 
first Earl Nelson were on their way to Calais. 
What occasioned Mr. Cadogan's strong interest in 
Lady Hamilton and her affairs does not appear. Any- 
how, he hastened to Calais, and a few days later 


returned to England with Horatia, whom he in due 
course committed to Mrs. Matcham, in accordance 
with a desire of the child's mother. As he was one 
of the trustees of Horatia's 4,000, and had more- 
over reason to think her his brother's daughter, Earl 
Nelson only did his duty in crossing the channel to 
provide for her safe passage to England. In jour- 
neying to Calais he may also have been actuated by 
a wish to ascertain whether Lady Hamilton had left 
behind her any papers, whose existence should be 
known to the head of the Nelson family. That 
Pettigrew was justified in recording that the Earl's 
purpose in hurrying to Calais was c to demand ' and 
get possession of Lady Hamilton's effects, no discreet 
reader is at the present date likely to believe. ' He 
wished,' Pettigrew ssfrys of the Earl, ' to take away 
the pledged trinkets and plate without payment.' 
Going beyond the words of his authority, Doran says, 
that Earl Nelson, ; in his cupidity, wished to take the 
pledged trinkets without paying the necessary ex- 
penses for getting them out of pawn.' Though no 
one is likely to commend him for virtue or extraor- 
dinary intelligence, Nelson's clerical brother was 
neither "& sheer simpleton nor a thief. He must have 
been both if he hoped to recover the pawned trinkets 
from the Mont de Ptiti without redeeming them with 
money, and from sheer cupidity tried to get posses- 
sion of articles of property, to which he had no 
shadow of a lawful title. Mr. Cadogan may have 
set this wild story going. But it is more probable 
that Mrs. Hunter was the originator of the slander, 


that may be said to be disproved by its grotesque 

So ends the story of a singularly charming, and 
for a brief season singularly successful adventuress, 
of whom it may be recorded in strict and cold 
justice, that she started in her far from edifying 
career with some noble moral endowments, which she 
retained for many years under circumstances pecu- 
liarly unfavourable to feminine goodness ; that the 
evil things she did were trivial in comparison with some 
of the offences of which history has falsely accused 
her; that for her evil behaviour she is less blame- 
worthy than the men who determined her course in 
the earlier passages of her womanly years; that she was 
upon the whole far more sinned against than sinning. 
As she won for herself a place amongst historic 
womankind from which she cannot be pushed, and, 
for good or ill, is an imperishable feature of England's 
story, it is well for readers to know precisely what 
manner of woman she was. England is to be acquitted 
of treating her with cruel ingratitude. The woman 
is to be acquitted of crimes and vices which, had she 
been guilty of them, would have placed her outside 
the pale of Christian sympathy and even of human 
toleration. A devoted mother to the last and youngest 
of the children she might not own, she was herself 
an exemplary daughter. At every turn of her jour- 
ney through life she was compassionate and free- 
handed to the poor. In judging her, men should 
remember that, in those respects in which she was 
most faulty, she was what masculine selfishness 


made her. Ere they condemn her for her manifold 
weaknesses and wanderings, women of gentle birth 
and nurture should pause and ask themselves what 
they might have done and become, had they been 
born in the cabins of the poor, been constrained in 
childhood to live and work with domestic servants, and 
then been tempted by indigence, beauty, and flattery, 
as Emma Hamilton was tempted at the threshold of 
her womanly time. 



IN this Memoir of Lady Hamilton ? I have made the smallest 
possible use of the well-known and far from uniformly re- 
liable ' Letters of Lord Nelson to Lady Hamilton ; 2 vols. 
(1814),' and in no single case have relied on any passage of 
those letters, whose authenticity appears questionable. In 
dealing with Lady Hamilton's career from the date of her 
return to England in 1800 to the date of Nelson's death, I have 
avoided several matters about which we have no other in- 
formation, than what has come to us from the least reliable 
documents of the reasonably suspected collection. It seem- 
ed to me that, in respect to these not important matters, it 
would be better for my book to be incomplete from excess 
of caution, than inaccurate from misplaced confidence in 
dubious records. 

Having fully satisfied myself, by a most careful examina- 
tion of the conflicting evidences and arguments, that Dr. 
Pettigrew was right on the main issue, I have given my 
account of Horatia's birth and parentage, without troubling 
my readers with all the details of what may be called the 
Nicolas-Pettigrew controversy. But in the introduction to 
his excellent abridgment of Nelson's i Letters and Des- 
patches,' Mr. John Knox Laughton M.A., the eminent Pro- 
fessor of Modern History at King's College (London) and 
Lecturer on Naval History at Greenwich College, deals with 
certain points of the old controversy in a way, that has 
determined me to set forth my reasons for differing on those 


points from so considerable a man of letters, and also my 
reasons for thinking him scarcely justified in calling the 
4 Fountain of Arethusa' letter a ' palpable forgery.' 

I. Mr. Laughtoris Remarks on Questions touching 
Horatids Parentage. 

Speaking of Nelson's regard for Sir William Hamilton's 
wife, Mr. Laughton says, 

* But concerning the nature of that attachment it is quite impossible 
to decide. Those will speak the most positively who have least ex- 
amined it. That Nelson was passionately devoted to Lady Hamilton 
is certain ; but whether the devotion took the form of adultery may be 
doubted ; and whether Horatia was the child of Nelson and Lady 
Hamilton, or of either of them, is a question that cannot be categorical- 
ly answered. It may however be pointed out that though Horatia was 
born in January 1801, a femmine critic, so keen and out-spoken as 
Mrs. St. George, saw no trace of an approaching confinement in Lady 
Hamilton's figure, in October 1800 ; and that Lady Hamilton, during her 
stay in Dresden, not only gave repeated representations of her celebrated 
attitudes, but danced the Tarantola, and went through a' great deal 
more exertion than a woman in her supposed condition would be likely 
to undertake. It may further be noted that Horatia's eyes are spoken 
of as " sloes,"* whilst Nelson's were grey, and Lady Hamilton's light 
blue ; that Nelson never spoke of the child except as his " adopted 
daughter," and that Lady Hamilton positively denied being the 
mother. One letter indeed, given by Pettigrew (vol. ii/p. 652), would 
be conclusive, if its authenticity were established ; but Pettigrew, in 
quoting it, has given no details of the letter itself ; and its matter is 
too strange, too widely different from anything else either Nelson or 
Lady Hamilton ever wrote, to permit its acceptance without a close 
scrutiny. At present it rests merely on Pettigrew's statement ; and 
Pettigrew was far from an exacting critic.' 

Eespecting the several expressions of opinion, in the first 
four sentences of the fore-going extract, I would only say, 
that long, careful, and repeated examinations of all the 
evidences touching the points have made me certain on all 
the questions, about which Mr. Laughton is so doubtful, 
and also dispose me to think that few critical persons, who 
trouble themselves to study and weigh the evidence, will in 
the end hesitate to answer the questions positively. It is 
something in favour of my judgment, that after examining 
the evidences pro and con, MX. Laughton admits he is not in 
a position to deny that < Horatia was the child of Nelson and 
Lady Hamilton.' For the establishment of the paternity of 
* Egertxm MS. 1623, f. 85. 


a natural child, all that can be fairly required of a personal 
historian, is to show that a man strongly and unwaveringly 
believed himself to be the child's father, that the man was 
morally and mentally competent to form a sound judgment 
on the matter, and that his strong belief accords with all 
the known circumstances. The evidence that Nelson be- 
lieved himself to be Horatia's father is conclusive. The 
delight her existence occasioned him, the great pleasure he 
took in playing with her when she was still in her first 
year, the tenderness he lavished upon her from the time of 
her own birth to the hour of his death, the pains he was at 
to provide for her education and maintenance both during 
his life and after his death, and the earnest words with 
which, in two letters of unquestionable authenticity, he assured 
her that he washer father, are sufficient evidence of his belief 
that she was his own child, the belief which, in the total ab- 
sence of evidence that it was a mere delusion, must be accepted 
as a reasonable and true view of the Admiral's relationship to 
the object of his strongest affections. Quoting a familiar 
proverb, the cynic may of course smile superciliously, shrug 
his shoulders, and hint that after all the belief may have 
been a delusion, that Nelson may have been in this affair the 
sport of his own fancy, and of Lady Hamilton's, or some other 
woman's, artifice. The cynic may, also, sneer in precisely 
the same way at any evidence of any parentage. The fact re- 
mains that Nelson believed himself to be Horatia's father, 
and that, in the absence of proof that he was a madman, 
the belief must be assumed to have accorded with certain 
previous incidents of his own personal story. 

It is worthy of remark that, in holding it to be doubtful 
whether Horatia was really Nelson's child, Mr. Laughton 
differs wholly from Sir Harris Nicolas, who was never 
troubled by a moment's doubt as to Horatia's paternity. 
Whilst arguing that she was not Lady Hamilton's child, Sir 
Harris Nicolas had no hesitation in declaring her the 
daughter of Nelson, who (to use Sir Harris's words), 
* during a long separation from his wife on the Public 
Service, so far yielded to temptation as to become the 
father of a child/ Elsewhere, in his Critical examination of 
the evidences of Horatia's parentage. Sir Harris Nicolas re- 
marks, e That Lord Nelson believed Mmself to be the, father 


of this child is placed beyond dispute by his whole conduct 
towards her/ Declaring stoutly that Nelson believed him- 
self her father, Sir Harris Nicolas declared no less strenu- 
ously his opinion that Nelson was Horatia's father. The 
thoroughness and emphasis with which Sir Harris spoke on 
these points, are evidence, to be considered by Mr. Laughton, 
that a man may answer questions touching Horatia's parent- 
age i most positively/ although he has examined them most 
thoroughly. .. 

Mr. Laugh ton's inability to come to a positive conclusion 
on any of thp points, certainly does not result from a dis- 
inclination to assign the fullest value to every consideration, 
making against the prevalent view of Horatia's parentage. 

(1) 4 It may however be pointed out/ says Mr. Laughton, 
16 that though Hpratia was born in January, 1801, a femin- 
ine critic, so keen and outspoken as Mrs. St. G-eorge, saw 
no trace of an approaching confinement in Lady Hamilton's 
figure in October, 1800.' Mrs. Sir. George [Mrs. Trench] 
never set eyes on Lady Hamilton till 3rd October, 1800, and 
took her last view of her at Dresden on the 9th of that 
month. Horatiawas born between the 2 9th and3 1st (inclusive) 
of January, 1801. Let the earlier day be taken for the birth- 
day. In that case, four full lunar months intervened be- 
tween Mrs. Trench's last view of Lady Hamilton at Dres- 
den and Horatia's birth in London. As Lady Hamilton had 
a tall and stout figure, that would not display obtrusively the 
* trace ' to which Mr. Laughton refers, it is conceivable Mrs. 
Trench had no suspicion of the interesting state of the 
Beauty's health. Mr. Laughton's words imply that the 
keen and outspoken lady put it on record, that she saw no 
such trace/ No such intimation appears in the lady's 
diary. But she does tell the readers of her diary one or 
two things which accord with the other evidence respecting 
Lady Hamilton's condition. She was so struck by Lady 
Hamilton's stoutness as to record in the diary, * She is ex- 
ceedingly embonpoint/ Yet further, ' the keen and out- 
spoken critic of Lady Hamilton, says in her journal, 
6 Her waist is absolutely between ' (? beneath) * her shoulders/ 
Yet further, it is recorded in Mrs. Trench's diary that Lady 
ilton, whilst performing her attitudes, wore < for ner 
^a simple calico chemise 3 (viz., a garment resembling 


what is now-a-days called a tea-gown) c very easy wifli loose 
sleeves to the wrist.' As Mrs. Trench, observed that Lady 
Hamilton was exceedingly embonpoint, had the waist of her 
dress unusually near her shoulders, and whilst performing 
her i attitudes ' wore precisely the kind of tea-gown dress 
that would be most serviceable in veiling any suspicious 
contours of her 'exceeding stoutness/ it surely cannot be 
urged that the famous Beauty, who engaged Mrs. Trench's 
attention at Dresden, had an appearance inconsistent with 
the statement, that four full months later she gave birth to a 
child. Instead of being strengthened, Mr. Laughton's e case ' 
appears to me to be distinctly weakened by the ' testimony of 
his own witness. By the way, there is evidence that, soon 
after Horatia's birth, a keen observer noticed in Lady 
Hamilton's appearance a change that, to adopt Mr. Laugh- 
ton's convenient expression, may be called a- distinct * trace 
of a recent confinement.' As he had never seen her before, 
Mr. Alexander Davison, on making her acquaintance on 
some day subsequent to November 9th, 1800, may, like 
Mrs. Trench in the previous month, have regarded Lady 
Hamilton's exceeding stoutness unsuspiciously. But, on 
seeing her some six or 'seven days after Horatia's birth, he 
was so struck by her loss of flesh and increase of beauty, 
that on February 6th, 1801 T he spoke of the change in her 
appearance to Nelson. Writing from sea to Lady Hamilton 
on February 7th, 1801 (vide Pettigrew's ' Life,' vol. i, p. 
651), Nelson says: 'Mr. Davison came whilst I was at 
dinner yesterday, and gave me your letter. He says you 
are grown thinner, but he thinks you look handsomer than 
ever/ As for the exercise taken by Lady Hamilton four 
full months before her accouchement, the family doctors 
and matrons will, I am sure, decline to think it ' more 
exertion than ' such ' a woman in her supposed condi- 
/ion would be likely to undertake.' To perform her * atti- 
tudes,' a series of tdbleaux-vivants, it was not needful for 
Lady Hamilton to exert herself greatly. Mrs. Trench did 
not see the lady danfre the Tarantola, and it does not ap- 
pear that the Beauty danced it with excessive energy. All 
that Mrs. Trench says of the matter is, t After I went, Mr. 
Elliot told me she acted Nina intolerably ill, and danced 
the Tarantola.* It should be observed that Lady Hamilton 


had long "been in the habit of dancing the Tarantola ; and 
that to persons who are in tlhte habit of dancing it, the dance 
is much less fatiguing than it is to those who dance it only 
once in a while. It is no unusual thing for an English 
gentlewoman to be whirling in the waltz round a London 
drawing-room within a few weeks, and playing a brilliant 
part at assemblies within a few days, of her accouchement. 
In the working-classes it is usual for enceinte women to per- 
sist in their ordinary toil almost up to the very hour of 
travail; and this ancient fashion of the poorer classes (to 
which Lady Hamilton belonged by birth) has rendered their 
women much more capable, than gently descended women, 
of taking strong bodily exercise up to the very moment of 
calling on Lucina. Moreover, as she was especially desirous 
of keeping her husband in ignorance of her condition, and 
could not have refrained from her usual exercises without 
making him inconveniently inquisitive and suspicious, Lady 
Hamilton had the stronges^ motive for dancing and perform- 
ing her ' attitudes' as long as she could safely do so. 

(2) The dark-eyed children of light- eyed parents are 
much commoner than Mr. Laughton seems to imagine. 
People so often misdescribe eyes, that no one ordinary "witness 
could be sufficient to prove Horatia's eyes to have been 
1 sloes.' Had they been black as jet, she might all the same 
have been the offspring, of light-eyed parents. Mr. Laugh- 
ton would have done more, though not much, for his case 
by showing that Lady Hamilton's parents and Nelson's 
parents were all four light-eyed people. Again, if historical 
inferences are to be drawn from the colour of Lady Hamil- 
ton's eyes, those eyes should be described precisely. The 
nicely accurate Mrs. Trench says, i Her eyes ' were 'light 
blue, with a brown spot in one, which, though a defect, takes 
nothing away from her beauty or expression/ a spot which 
may perhaps be regarded as an indication, that the blue-eyed 
Beauty had a strain of dark-eyed ancestry. Moreover, to 
raise a suspicion or even to prove that, instead of being Lady 
Hamilton's child by Nelson, Horatia was Lady Hamilton's 
child by some dark- eyed -man, would not affect the greater 
part of the evidential value of Nelson's conviction that' 
Horatia was his daughter. How came the conviction Ib 
hold his mind ? 


(3) ' Nelson,' says Mr. Laughton, * never spoke of the 
child except as his ei adopted "daughter," and Lady Hamil- 
ton positively denied being the mother.' - If it could be 
shown (it cannot be shown) that Nelson invariably spoke of 
Horatia as his 4 adopted daughter/ the fact would be no 
evidence that she was not his natural daughter. On the 
contrary, it would rather be confirmatory evidence of her 
reputed blood-relationship to him. After being acknow- 
ledged and so taken by the male parent out of the legal 
class of 4 no one's children, 7 a natural child is often styled 
' an adopted child ' in kindly social parlance, the ternrbeing 
regarded as a gentler and less disparaging description than a 
* natural child/ Instead of weakening the general opinion 
that she was Nelson's own child, the fact of his describing 
her in the codicil as his * adopted daughter ' confirmed 
people in their belief, that she was his natural daughter, 
whom he had adopted by acknowledgment. Differing from 
Sir Harris Nicolas in holding it doubtful whether Horatia 
was Nelson's daughter, Mr. Laughton differs still more widely 
from him in thinking it doubtful, whether Nelson believed 
himself to be her father. It is puzzling that so able a man 
as Mr. Langhton should, at the present date, differ on the 
former point from Sir Harris Nicolas, and all the competent 
critics, who have studied with suspicious care all the evi- 
dences of Horatra's parentage. It is more perplexing that 
he should be doubtful on the second point, and have no 
better reason for the doubt than that in the codicil the 
document which bequeathed Horatia to the beneficence of 
the country and also in certain other documents Nelson 
described her by a term, no less appropriate to an illegiti- 
mate child who has been acknowledged by her father, than 
to a child adopted by persons not related to her in blood. 
In a writing designed for the public eye, Nelson could 
not with exact' propriety have described her by any other 
term. Had he styled her his ' daughter/ without any 
qualifying word, he would to some people have seemed guilty 
of disrespect to his wife, and to a larger number of people 
, would have appeared something less than precisely 4ruthful. 
Had he spoken of her as his < illegitimate child * or his 
' natural child,' he would have done violence to his own 
tenderness for her, by putting on an historic record words, 

Z 2 


that would cause her needless pain, should she peruse the 
writing on coming to years of discretion. Had he used 
either of those terms, he would have provoked from numerous 
worthy, though extremely narrow-minded persons, a charge of 
referring to his immorality with deficient delicacy and shame- 
less candour. In calling her his < adopted daughter,' he used 
the term most agreeable to his own paternal fondness, the 
description least likely to offend and most calculated to con- 
ciliate social sentiment. The term misled no^one. ^ Every 
reader of the codicil apprehended the sense in which the 
two words were used. If Horatia was not his offspring, Nel- 
son was guilty of a fantastic extravagance, when he solemnly 
required the country to provide for some unknown individ- 
ual's child, for whom he had already made a good provision 
out of his own estate. He was guilty of something worse than 
fantastic extravagance, when he made this request not for 
his own, but for some unknown man's infant in terms which 
he knew would be construed by the whole country as an 
announcement that Horatia was his own offspring, born out 
of wedlock. If he styled her his ' adopted daughter ' ^when 
speaking of her to the world, Nelson wrote to her, infant 
though she was, two remarkable letters, each of which appears 
to have "been written in the hope that, on growing to be 
a woman, she would regard it as an assurance, that she wa& 
Ms offspring by blood as well as his child by adoption. In the 
letter, touching his provision for her education and mainten- 
ance, dated off Toulon, 21st October, 1803, he wrote to her, 
< My dear child, Receive this first letter from your most affec- 
tionate Father,' and in the closing words of the epistle said, 
6 and he assured that I am, my dear Horatia, your most affec- 
tionate Father Nelson and Bronte.' Again, in the letter 
he wrote the little girl from the Victory, October 19th, 1805 
so soon before his death he begins by addressing her as- 
Ms c dearest angel,' and concludes the words with tMs- 
solemn benediction : ' Receive, my dearest Horatia, the 
affectionate Paternal Blessing of your Father, Nelson and 
Bronte.' Almost the last minutes he spent at Merton, be- 
fore going forth to serve his country for the last time, wer,e 
spent by Nelson in prayer at the bedside of the child. It 
possibly escaped Mr. Laughton's memory that Nelson used; 
to call Horatia c his own child' in the hearing of other 


people. Speaking of the visits Lady Hamilton and Lord 
Nelson paid Horatia atTitchfield Street, Mrs. Johnstone told 
Captain Ward, ' Lady Hamilton constantly visited her ; 
Lord Nelson was frequently her companion in her visits to 
her, and often came alone, and played for hours with the 
infant on the floor, calling her his own child.' As for Lady 
Hamilton's denials of being the child's mother, few readers 
will concur with Mr. Laughton in thinking they affect the 
evidence of Horatia's maternity, when they bear in mind 
Lady Hamilton's several strong motives for untruthfulness 
about the matter. 

(4) Speaking of the testimony respecting Horatia's 
parentage, afforded by Dr. Pettigrew's book, Mr. Laughton 

' One letter indeed, given by Pettigrew (vol. ii, p. 652) would be 
-conclusive, if its authenticity were established ; but Pettigrew, in quoting 
it, has given no details of the letter itself ; and its matter is too strange, 
too widely different from anything else either Nelson or Lady Hamil- 
ton ever wrote, to permit its acceptance without a close scrutiny. At 
present it rests merely on Pettigrew's statement ; and Pettigrew was 
far from an exacting critic.' 

Pettigrew's documentary evidence touching Horatia's 
parentage does not consist of only the one letter, which, if 
genuine, is by itself conclusive, but comprises numerous let- 
ters, which without the one letter are sufficient for nice and 
-exacting critics. Take away the epistle, which (if genuine) 
by itself settles the question, the other epistles of the 
Thompson-series of letters (if authentic) settle the question. 
Dr. Pettigrew does not produce the one letter until he has 
proved his case by the other letters. As he gives the exact 
date of the letter, indicates by asterisks the point where he 
omits a part of the composition, calls particular attention 
to words which he regards as referring to a piece of poetry, 
with which Nelson seems to have been familiar, and says 
that the letter was sent to Lady Hamilton by a private hand 
(whose name appears in the epistle), Dr. Pettigrew is scarcely 
to be charged with suspicious uncommunicativeness about 
the letter, which he prints, after having first proved his case 
by other documents. Instead of ' being strange and widely 
different from anything else either Nelson or Lady Hamil- 
ton ever wrote,' the one letter is congruent with the 
.admissions touching Horatia's parentage, made by Nelson 


inadvertently in his Thompson -letters to Lady Hamilton, 
and congruent with the substance of all the Thompson- 
letters, so far as they relate in any way to Horatia's parent- 
age. It is congruent with everything Nelson is known to 
have written about the same subject, and is in every 
respect just such a letter as, from the general tenor of the 
previous Thompson-letters, Nelson might be expected to 
write to Lady Hamilton, as soon as he 'could write to her 
frankly and freely, without fearing a postal miscarriage or 
loss of the epistle in transit. No doubt, the letter is widely 
different from much that Lady Hamilton is known to 
have said and written. But (and this is a matter of much 
more importance) whilst congruent with all Nelson's 
action towards and for the infant, whom he believed to be 
his daughter, the letter accords in a very remarkable way 
with Lady Hamilton's known action towards and for 
Horatia, during the first year of the child's life. Doubtless, 
Pettigrew was no exacting critic, and no nice discerner of the 
peculiarities of literary style. But he 'was an honest and 
upright gentleman (Mr. Laughton does not suggest the 
doctor was less than honest), and whilst showing adequate 
knowledge of the manuscripts committed to his editorial 
discretion, he was unquestionably familiar with Nelson's 
handwriting. The channel, through which we receive the 
letter, entitles it to a larger measure of credit than needs 
be given to a letter, published in a book, bearing no such 
editor's name on the title-page, and containing documents 
of extremely questionable genuineness. A letter, congruent 
with all the authentic evidences respecting its subject, dis- 
playing no signs of fraudulent production, and submitted to 
students by a well-reputed man of letters, is not to be set 
aside, merely because the critic is not in a position to collate 
the printed transcript with the original document, as c a Mr. 
So-and-So*s mere statement/ and a i writing of no established 
authenticity.' In denouncing the Arethusa-letter as *a palpable 
forgery,' Mr. Laughton points to certain particulars of the 
letter in justification of his strong opinion, and in doing so 
he takes the usual and only proper course. Instead of merely 
setting the Thompson-letter aside, as a thing of no established 
authenticity and an editor's mere statement, he should have 
called attention to those particulars of the epistle, which He 


deems to be evidential of forgery or dishonest manipulation. 
To his general statement that the letter is widely different 
from Nelson's other -writings on the subject, I venture to 
oppose my carefully-formed opinion that the letter is con- 
gruent with all Nelson's known words about and action 
towards the child. 

Though the one Thompson-letter (if genuine) is by itself 
conclusive proof of Horatia's parentage, and the other letters 
of the Thompson-series (if genuine,) settle the question no 
less conclusively, there is no need of those curious writings 
to demonstrate that the girl, whom Nelson believed to be his 
own daughter, was Lady Hamilton's offspring. 

(a) As Horatia was born between the 29th and 31st of 
January (inclusive), 1801, and Nelson (a sane man) believed 
her to be his daughter, he must in the spring of 1800 have 
enjoyed a degree of intimacy with some person of the gentler 
sex, sufficient to account for his firm belief that he was 
Horatia's father. In the spring of 1800, Nelson was on 
peculiarly intimate terms with Lady Hamilton, and had for 
more than a year and a half been so strongly possessed by 
admiration for and attachment to her, as to render it in the 
highest degree improbable that, since his expedition to Egypt, 
he formed with any other woman but Lady Hamilton a 
friendship, likely to result in Horatia. It was indeed sug- 
gested by Sir Harris Nicolas that the Admiral might per- 
haps have had a liaison, of which no one ever heard, with 
some woman other than Lady Hamilton in the Mediterranean, 
and that Horatia was the issue of the attachment. But the 
suggestion was a mere hypothesis, that may be pointed to 
as a good example of the way, in which a controversialist 
will sometimes give his own imagination such licence as 
he would declare in no degree permissible to his opponents. 
From September, 1798, to the spring of 1800, no officer of 
our Mediterranean Fleet ever heard of Nelson's name in 
association with any such mistress as Sir Harris Nicolas 
coldly imagined, in order to escape from the conclusion that 
Lady Hamilton was Horatia's mother. No one in the 
spring of 1800 had ever heard of any such intrigue as 
the one which Sir Harris Nicolas invented for his own 
controversial convenience, and offered to the world as a 
reasonable hypothesis some forty years after Nelson's death. 


Fortunately the daring hypothesis may be dismissed with 
a smile ; for to entertain it as a piece of possible history, 
the reader must take a very low view of Nelson. But 
though in 1800 rumour never associated him. with any other 
enchantress than Lady Hamilton, his generous passion for 
that lady was an affair for go'ssip in every vessel under his 
command. The incident, that resulted in Horatia's biith, 
must have occurred at the time when Nelson was in the 
daily enjoyment of Lady Hamilton's society. The child's 
appearance in this world is clearly referable to what took 
place during the pleasure-trip to Malta. If the child whom 
Nelson believed to be his daughter was not Lady Hamilton's 
offspring, her mother must be sought for amongst the few 
other ladies with whom he associated during the trip. Dur- 
ing the excursion three ladies were on board the Foudroyant, 
Lady Hamilton, Miss Cornelia Knight, and a third Eng- 
lish lady, whose name does not appear. Doubtless, both at 
Syracuse and at Malta, the Admiral and Sir William 
Hamilton chatted with other ladies. The thing to be ob- 
served is, that Nelson, who cannot be supposed to have 
cared much for any other woman during the trip, was the 
constant daily companion of Lady Hamilton at the time of 
the incident, that resulted in the birth of the child whom 
Nelson believed to be his daughter. 

(b) After holding some intercourse with Lady Hamilton, 
under circumstances that gave her the best opportunities for 
scrutinizing the appearance and demeanour of the famous 
adventuress, and also for studying the indications of Nelson's 
regard for her, Lady Nelson a gentlewoman not wanting 
in discernment and feminine instinct determined to break 
with her husband rather than maintain a show of friendship 
for his enchantress. 

(c) On calling upon Lady Hamilton some six or seven 
days after Horatia's birth, to receive the letter which he 
had undertaken to carry to Nelson, Mr. Alexander Davison 
remarked how much thinner she had become. 

(d) Horatia made her appearance in this world just as 
Nelson was again at sea<, and preparing for another great 
naval expedition. Had the child been, as Sir Harris 
Nicolas suggests, the offspring of Nelson and some womaa 
other than Lady Hamilton, what coarse would he naturally 


have taken when the child was thrown upon his hands? 
Nelson had in Mrs. William Nelson a sister-in-law, and in 
Mrs. Matcham and Mrs. Bolton two married sisters, who, 
in their gratitude to and affection for him, were ready to do 
everything in their power for his comfort. For all these 
three women he had the strongest affection and respect. 
Surely, then, he would have committed his illegitimate 
child to the care, of one of these ladies of his own family, 
rather than to Lady Hamilton, to whom he could not commit 
the infant without risk of exposing her to serious scandal. 
Notwithstanding his high respect for her, she was the 
very last person on whom he would have put the work of 
providing nurses and a home for the child, and superintend- 
ing the child's progress through infancy. Regard for her 
reputation, which needed his consideration all the more for 
"being so "battered, would have made him feel that, of all 
living women, she was the one whom it would be least fit 
for him to employ in so delicate a business, that would 
require her to be continually writing letters to him about 
the nursling. His sister-in-law or either of his sisters 
could have done the work for him quite as effectually, and 
without any risk of scandal. The task, so likely to expose 
her to fresh scandal, was imposed by Nelson on his friends' 
wife. Rather say, the task devolved upon her because she 
was the infant's mother. 

(e) If Lady Hamilton had not been the child's mother, 
how would she naturally have acted, on receiving her com- 
mission to find a fit home and nurse for the child, and to 
superintend its nurture ? Surely she would have done with 
openness what was required of her in a matter, not affecting 
her own honour. As there would in that case have been 
no need for secrecy, she would have spoken to Sir William 
Hamilton, when he and she would have taken measures for 
the execution of their friend's wishes, and taken them in a 
way consistent with decency and, dignity, the dignity of 
persons of condition, who were hoping to be soon admitted 
to the peerage of the realm. How did Lady Hamilton 
act * There is no need to repeat here in brief what has 
already been said at large. But it is well to show more 
precisely the unimpeachable character of the evidence re- 
specting Lady Hamilton's way of putting Mrs. Thompson's 


infant out to nurse. In 1828, when she had married an 
English clergyman (the Reverend Philip Ward) Horatia 
asked her husband's brother (Captain James Ward of the 
81 st Regiment) to call on Mrs. Johnstone (Nurse Gibson's 
surviving daughter), whom she remembered as ' a little de- 
formed woman/ Mrs. Johnstone had recently written to 
Mrs. Ward, when the latter thus requested her brother-in- 
law to call on the worthy woman. The captain's mission 
was to gather all he could respecting his sister-in-law's par- 
entage and infancy from Nurse Gibson's daughter. On 
making Mrs. Johnstone's acquaintance, Captain Ward form- 
ed a most favourable opinion of the woman, whose circum- 
stances were so far prosperous as to preserve her from the 
suspicion of having been actuated by sordid motives in re- 
calling herself to Mrs. Ward's recollection. The most im- 
portant facts Captain Ward learnt from this respectable 
woman were, (1) That c Lady Hamilton brought the child 
to Nurse Gibson's house in a hackney-coach one night in 
January or February ;' (2) That on this nocturnal visit to 
Nurse Gibson's house, Lady Hamilton was c unattended,' 
and did not give Nurse Gibson any information as to the 
child's parents ; and (3) that Nurse Gibson declared the 
child was at that time 'no more than eight days old.' 
How are we to account for Lady Hamilton's behaviour? 
If she was not Horatia's mother, what need had she to 
bring the child thus clandestinely to the nurse's house by 
night and unattended, when the infant was only eight days 
old ? If she was Horatia's mother, one has not to seek for 
reasons why she smuggled the child from the place of birth 
to the nurse's house as soon as she could safely do so ; why 
she came by night, and allowed no servant to accompany 

(/) Here, surely, is a strong mass of evidence that the 
child was the offspring of Nelson and Lady Hamilton. In 
the spring of 1800 they had for a considerable period been 
strongly attached to one another ; in that spring they were 
together in the Mediterranean, and in constant and daily 
companionship, when the incident occurred that caused Nel- 
son nine months later to think himself Horatia's father;- 
there is not a tittle of testimony that he was at this time 
attached to any other woman in the Mediterranean ; on 


seeing Lady Hamilton, feminine discernment and sensibility 
caused Lady Nelson to resent her husband's attempt to force 
so unsuitable an acquaintance upon her ; Horatia's birth 
was followed by just such a change in Lady Hamilton's ap- 
pearance as an accouchement might be expected to produce 
in a woman of her beauty and habit ; within eight days of 
her birth in London, Horatia was taken secretly at night by 
the unattended Lady Hamilton, and hidden away in the nurse's 
house ; from the hour of her birth Nelson cared for the child as 
his daughter ; from the hour of her birth he confided the child 
to Lady Hamilton's care ; from the moment of Sir William 
Hamilton's death to the moment of his own death, he cared 
for Lady Hamilton as though she were his child's mother. 
All these facts are proved without the aid of any one of the 
Thompson-papers, or of a single document of questionable 
authenticity. Historians are in a bad way if all this mass of 
evidence is aught less than strong enough (in the almost total 
absence of contrary evidence) for a proof of Horatia's parent- 
age. But the evidence is far stronger. All the attempts to 
show that Horatia was the child of some other woman than 
Lady Hamilton have failed wholly. Thomas Allen's story 
was broken to pieces. Sir Thomas Hardy's fanciful tale was 
utterly disproved by critical examination. Sir Harris Nico- 
las's suggestion was only offered as an hypothesis. He never 
affected to know of any woman but Lady Hamilton, to whom 
Nelson was attached in the spring of 1800. Lady Hamil- 
ton's monstrous statement to Maria Caroline's infamy was 
never supported by the faintest evidence, and was proved 
a mere slander, first by the coldness with which the Queen 
replied to Nelson's appeal on Lady Hamilton's behalf, and 
then by the testimony that the infant was only eight days 
old when brought to Nurse Gibson. Mr. Haslewood's 
sense of honour preserved him from making a definite 
declaration of Horatia's parentage on the maternal side. A 
word about the documentary evidence. The Thompson- 
papers, which came to Mrs. Ward's hands through Mrs. 
Johnstone, show that at least as early as the 15th of March, 
1801, Lady Hamilton used to write to Nurse Gibson about 
Miss ' Thomson/ pretending that Horatia was the child of 
a certain Mr. and Mrs. Thomson. The authenticity of this 
group of the Thompson-papers has never been questioned ; 


and their evidence that Horatia was thus early spoken of as 
Miss Thomson by Lady Hamilton and Nurse Gibson, must 
at least dispose readers to think it probable that Lady 
Hamilton and Nelson wrote to one another from an earlier 
date about Mr. and Mrs. and Miss Thomson [alias Thompson]. 
As the editor of ' Letters of Lord Nelson to Lady Hamilton, 
2 Yols., 1814,' does not appear to have had any knowledge of 
the Thompson-letters, which JJrs. Johnstone gave to Mrs. 
Ward no earlier than 1828, the separate preservation and 
coming to light of Mrs. Gibson's set of Thompson-letters 
4 make ' for confidence in the authenticity of Thompson-letters 
published in the c Letters of Lord Nelson to Lady Hamilton,* 
and in Pettigrew's book.* 

(g) What evidence is produced against this weighty mass 
of cogent testimony ? Nothing but Lady Hamilton's denials 
of being the child's mother, and the bare statement to the 
same effect by a gentleman, who in his old age, more than 
forty years after Nelson's death, conceived himself qualified 
to state authoritatively that Horatia was not Lady Hamilton's 
child, but the child of some other woman, whom he could 
name, if honour permitted him to do so. What counter evi- 
dence ! Whilst there is no reason to suppose he was in 
Nelson's confidence respecting Horatia's parentage, it is cer- 
tain that Mr. Haslewood, one of the witnesses of Emma 
Hamilton's last will and testament, saw a good deal of her 
just about the time of her slanderous utterance against 
Maria Caroline. 

(A) To prove that Horatia was Nelson's child by some 
other j woman than Lady Hamilton would be gravely hurtful 
to Nelson's reputation. No words can do away with the 
notorious fact that, in the spring of 1800, Nelson was 
animated by sentiments of admiration for and devotion to 
Lady Hamilton sentiments so vehement that they could not 
have co-existed in Ms breast with any feeling akin to love for 
any other woman of his Mediterranean acquaintance. To 

* As they appear in his book, Pettigrew's series of Thompson-letters 
afford no indications either of substantial forgery or of fraudulent 
manipulation. Should the letters ever be shown to be wholly or partly 
spurious, by an examination of the original MSS., the discovery will not 
touch the overpoweringly strong circumstantial evidence that Horatia r 
warS-Lady Hamilton's offspring, and that Nelson believed the child to be 
his daughter. 


prove, therefore, that during his passion for Lady Hamilton, 
he had a liaison with another woman of his Mediterranean 
acquaintance, would be to prove that the hero of the navy 
was one of those animals who delight in gross and loveless 
amours. The demonstration would, at the same time, dis- 
prove by far the most important of the several extenuating 
circumstances of his later intercourse with Lady Hamilton, 
and of his quarrel with his wife. Believing that she was his 
child's mother, one can sympathize with his steadfastness to 
Lady Hamilton, and almost admire him for it. Deprived of 
that belief, one looks in vain for any decent excuse for his 
conduct to his wife. 

II. Mr. Laughton 9 s Remarks on the ' Fountain of Are- 
tlmsa ' Letter, said to have been written by Nelson on 
the 22nd of July, 1798. 

Mr. Laughton says, 

' But the whole of the Nelson-Hamilton correspondence is in a very 
unsatisfactory state. Few of the originals are known, and the letters 
published by Harrison, or in " Letters of Lord Nelson to Lady Hamil- 
ton," are certainly garbled, even when they are not altogether ficti- 
tious. Of this last nature is one which has been often quoted, but 
which I have not admitted here into the text, as being a palpable 
forgery. It is supposed to have been written from Syracuse on 22nd 
July, 1798, and runs : 

' " MY DBAS FBIENDS, Thanks to your exertions, we have victualled 
and watered ; and surely watering at the fountain of Arethusa, w 
must have victory. We shall sail with the first breeze, and be assured 
I will return either crowned with laurels or covered with cypress " 

' The laurel and cypress sentence may possibly be Nelson's ; but 
assuredly he never meddled with the fountain of Arethusa ; and the 
" Thanks to your exertions, we have victualled and watered " is flatly 
contradicted by the letter to Sir "William Hamilton of the same date. 
But this fictitious letter is the only evidence on record of the action of 
Lady Hamilton in this matter. That she afterwards taught Nelson 
to believe in her action we know from the solemn expression of his 
last wishes, but the reality of it seems very doubtful.' 

"What are to Mr. Laughton sufficient reasons for calling 
the 'Fountain of Arethusa' letter c a palpable forgery/ 
appeared to Sir Harris Nicolas nothing more than grounds 
for being < suspicious ' of the epistle's genuineness. Sir Harris 
Nicolas says, 

* It appears from the Letters to Sir "William Hamilton of the 22nd 
and 23rd of July that Nelson was not aware that any private order for 


supplying Ms squadron had been issued ; and as those letters (which 
are unquestionably authentic) do not agree -with the other Letter to Sir 
"William and Lady Hamilton^ a suspicion arises as to its genuineness, 
which is strengthened by the facts, that Harrison was then endeavour- 
ing to support Lady Hamilton's claim to a pension, founded mainly on 
her having obtained an order for victualling Nelson's squadron ; that 
the classical allusion is not in Nelson's style ; and that the conclusion 
is in nearly the same words as occur in the Letter in p. 34.' 

Let the reader give his "best attention to the following 
matters : 

(A) Under date of 20th of July, 1798, in a letter which Mr. Laughton 
admits to be authentic, Nelson wrote from Syracuse to Lord St. Yin- 
cent, ' We are watering, and getting such refreshments as the place 
affords, and shall get to sea by the 25th.' 

(B) Under date of 22nd of July, 1798, in a letter which Mr. 
Laughton admits to be authentic, Nelson wrote from Syracuse to Sir 
William Hamilton, ' I have had so much said about the King of Naples' 
orders only to admit three or four of the ships of our fleet into his ports 
that I am astonished. I understood that private orders, at least, 
would have been given for our free admission. If we are to be refused 
supplies, pray send me by many vessels an account, that I may in good 
time take the King's fleet to Gibraltar. Our treatment is scandalous 
for a great nation to put up with, and the King's flagia insulted at every 
friendly port we look at.' 

(C) Under date of 22nd of July, 1798, in the letter which Mr. 
Laughton calls ( a palpable forgery,* Nelson is represented as writing 
from Syracuse to Sir William and Lady Hamilton, ( My dear Friends, 
Thanks to your exertions, we have victualled and watered : and sure- 
ly watering at the fountain of Arethusa, we must have victory. We 
shall sail with the first breeze, and be assured I will return either 
crowned with laurels or covered with cypress.' 

(D) Under date of 23rd of July, 1798, Nelson wrote in a letter, 
which Mr. Laughton admits to be authentic, from Syracuse to Sir 
William Hamilton, i The fleet is unmoored, and the moment the wind 
comes off the land, shall go out of this delightful harbour, where our pre- 
sent wants have been most amply supplied, and where every attention 
has been paid to us ; but I have been tormented by no private orders 
being given, to the governor for our admission.' 

(1) To some readers it may appear a ground for suspect- 
ing the authenticity of C, that it was dated on the same day 
as the unquestionably authentic B.. But "because B and C 
were "both dated on the 22nd of July, 1798, it does not 
follow that they were dated without the intervention of a 
night. The nautical day ends and begins at noon. A sailor 
in all things, Nelson ended and began his days at noon, and 
dated his letters in accordance with nautical usage, at least 
wnen he was at sea. Consequently it may be assumed that 


B was dated in the afternoon of one day, and C in the fol- 
lowing forenoon. 

(2) Unquestionably the classical allusion in C is not in 
Nelson's style, but it is in the style of the classical archaeologist, 
Sir William Hamilton, who was at the time corresponding 
with Nelson about the supplies to be taken at Syracuse. 
As Nelson may have caught up the allusion from his corre- 
spondent, there is not much force in the objection, based on 
the single expression. 

(3) In C, Nelson wrote or is represented as writing to 
Sir William and Lady Hamilton on the 22nd of July, 
* Thanks to your exertions we have victualled and watered,* 
whereas in the afternoon of the previous day he wrote in 
the unquestionably authentic B to Sir William Hamilton, 
{ If we are to be refused supplies, pray send me by many 
vessels an account, &c.,' as though lie had not succeeded in 
getting supplies at Syracuse. But this discrepancy can 
scarcely be urged as strong evidence of the spuriousness of 
C ; because the same discord exists between B and A, both 
of which are of unquestionable authenticity. Nelson wrote 
from Syracuse to Lord St. Vincent so early as the 20th of 
July, 1798, 'We are watering and getting such refreshments 
as the place affords and shall get to sea by the 25th/ 

(4) Consideration must now to be given to a less appar- 
ent discrepancy between C and the authentic B, and between 

,^nd the authentic D. In C, Nelson wrote, or is repre- 
^ented to have written, on the 22nd of July, 1798, * Thanks to 
your exertions, we have victualled and watered,' whereas he 
wrote in B on the previous afternoon to Sir William Hamilton, 
k I understood that private orders, at least, would have been 
given for our free admission,' and on the 23rd of July, 1798, 
wrote to Sir William Hamilton inD, 'but I have been tor- 
mented by no private orders being given to the governor for 
our admission/ Though they may be construed as meaning 
much less, the words, c Thanks to your exertions/ have been 
regarded, alike by Lady Hamilton's friends and by her 
enemies, as meaning, * Thanks for your exertions in 
getting me the Queen's letter.' Hence, it has been argued 
that, since in authentic B, and in authentic D, Nelson speaks 
expressly of his annoyance at no { private orders ' having 
been sent to the Governor of Syracuse, critical readers must 


necessarily conclude, that Nelson never received a Queen's 
warrant, for which he was indebted to Sir "William and Lady 
Hamilton, and that therefore the letter, in "which he thanks 
them for their exertions,' and attributes his having water- 
ed and victualled to those i exertions/ must be regarded as a 
writing of questionable authenticity, if not as a palpable 
forgery. But here again the apparent discord of the writ- 
ings may be no real contradiction, but only a mere appear- 
ance of discrepancy. 

That Nelson obtained the supplies at Syracuse with singular 
expedition is unquestionable. His own unquestionably au- 
thentic letters are also in evidence, that he obtained them 
without the aid of any such 'private orders ' to the Governor 
of Syracuse, as are referred to in B and D. There is no 
reason to think he employed menace to get them. How, 
then, are we to account for the singular expedition with 
which he got needful water and victuals at Syracuse, at a 
time when the Sicilian government was bound by treaty with 
Frarce to admit only ' two' (according to some authorities), 
or ar%he most three or four, vessels of war into their ports 
at the same time ? He certainly did not get his supplies in 
the ordinary way. By what &etfra-ordinary means, then, did 
he get them? Pettigrew tells us that the Queen herself 
wrote a warrant, and gave it to Lady Hamilton, in order 
that she should transmit it to Nelson. We may believe 
this credible part of Pettigrew's story, whilst rejecting the 
fanciful and romantic adornments of the narrative. That 
Pettigrew was right in the main fact, there is strong, though 
perhaps scarcely conclusive, evidence. No very long time 
after so watering and victualling at Syracuse, Nelson (who 
died within seven years and three months of the busiriess) 
was unquestionably held by the strongest conviction, that 
the facilities afforded to him for watering and victualling at 
Syracuse resulted from < letters,' which the Queen of Naples 
c caused to be wrote to the Governor of Syracuse/ and there 
is not a particle of positive evidence that he was not pos- 
sessed by this conviction when he sailed for the second time 
to Egypt. There is no positive testimony that this con- 
viction was a delusion. All that can be urged to the dis- 
credit of this conviction is, that it is not confirmed "by any 
official writings, and is in apparent discord with 


words written by him in July, 1798, which words, how- 
ever, are far from absolutely irreconcilable with the solemn 
statement of the famous codicil, dated on the 21st of October, 
1805. Unless we conclude that, in respect to this particular 
matter, Nelson's vigorous mind was the victim of a marvel- 
lous misconception, that might be fairly called a delusion 
(the suggestion that he ever spoke or wrote fraudulently on 
the subject, and only feigned the conviction, is of course 
not to be entertained for an instant), we must come to the 
conclusion that the Queen's letters to the G-overnor of Syra- 
cuse did occasion the facility with which Nelson got his sup- 
plies there. What were those letters? From Nelson's 
epistles, it is clear they were not the * private orders ' which, 
to his annoyance, were not sent to the Governor ? Were 
they not the secret warrant the single document referred 
to by Pettigrew ? In speaking of a single royal warrant as 
'letters,' Nelson would be speaking in accordance with 
official and diplomatic usage. 

If such a document was confided to Nelson, it may well 
have been drawn in terms, that in case of mischance would 
compromise the Queen as little as possible. It may well 
have been a document to which the G-overnor of Syracuse 
might hesitate to give the fullest effect, till he should receive 
6 private orders for free admission ' of the whole fleet. On 
seeing the Queen's letter on so delicate and dangerous an 
affair, the Governor of Syracuse only showed a proper care 
for his own official safety, if he hesitated to put the most 
liberal interpretation on its words, and averred that till he 
received 'private orders,' supplementing the secret warrant, 
he could only regard the warrant as a mandate, that he 
should afford the British Admiral every facility, not wholly 
inconsistent with ' the King of Naples' orders only to admit 
three or four of the ships ' of the British fleet at a time, 
and should strain those orders to the utmost, for the Admiral's 
advantage. On finding how much more Nelson required 
not facility for watering and victualling three or four ships 
at a time till the whole fleet should be supplied, but facility 
for watering and victualling all the ships at once the 
Governor of Syracuse might well plead his need of further 
and more precise instructions. One can imagine how, in 
such a case, Nelson fumed and stormed at the Gover- 



nor's representations ; and how, 'after resisting, or making a 
prudent show of resisting the British Admiral's exorbitant 
demands, the' Governor gave way. To this hypothesis I 
cannot conceive any serious objections will be made either 
"by naval or official critics. Anyhow, instead of being in 
flat contradiction, the letters only exhibit a discord that is 
susceptible of explanation and compatible with the authen- 
ticity of C. 

(5) Mr. Laughton says of Lady Hamilton and her alleged 
service to Nelson in this particular business, ' That she after- 
wards taught Nelson to believe in her action we know from 
the solemn expression of his last wishes, but the reality of 
it seems very doubtful/ There is nothing in the famous 
codicil, from which we may learn that Nelson's conviction 
respecting Lady Hamilton's 'action 5 resulted from her 
artifice. No sufficient evidence can be produced that Nel- 
gon made his second voyage to Egypt without the conviction, 
which is said by Mr. Laughton to have taken possession of 
his mind at some later time, and to have resulted from Lady 
Hamilton's teaching. 

In the body of this work I have expressed a strong 
opinion, that both Nelson and Lady Hamilton magnified 
egregiously whatever services she rendered him in the way 
of his profession, the exaggeration on his part resulting 
from the generous and chivalric delight he took in honour- 
ing the woman to whom he was really under 'some obliga- 
tions, whilst the exaggeration on her part resulted chiefly 
from the action of her amazing vanity and self-conceit. On 
this subject they unintentionally deluded one another. But 
I am not aware of any evidence that his extravagant estimate 
of her so-called services to England was in any degree refer- 
able to deliberate falseness and craft on her part. For their 
misconceptions respecting her claims to -national gratitude 
and a pension, I am disposed to think her the less account- 
able of the two. 

But to say that he magnified the services she had rendered , 
him, is a different thing from saying that the services for which 
he extolled her were perhaps altogether imaginary, and 
$ still more different thing from suggesting, that he would 
never have thought himself to be her debtor for consider- 


able services, had she not deverly and artfully taught him 
to think so. 

By playing artfully upon it, a beautiful and designing 
woman often, no doubt, does what she likes with the weaker 
side of a" strong man's nature. It must be acknowledged 
that Lady Hamilton did nearly what she pleased with the 
weaker side of Nelson. But to represent Lady Hamilton 
as teaching Nelson to misremember one of the remark- 
able passages of his naval career, and to accept her mere 
fables about his greater doings as sure history, is to repre- 
sent her as having what she never had, her will with the 
stronger side of his intellect and life. Had he lived to old 
age, and crossed the threshold of decay, when she is said to 
have thus played with his wits, the story would be less in- 
credible. But he died when he was still young for an admiral, 
and when little more than seven years had passed since the 
Battle of the Nile. His mind had never been stronger than 
on the eve of Trafalgar. Throughout their curious associa- 
tion, Lady Hamilton had never known his mind otherwise 
than alert and vigorous. Yet she could teach him to believe, 
that she had caused the Queen of Naples to send out to the 
Governor of Syracuse those 4 private orders ' which, to his 
positive torment at the time, were not sent to the Governor. 
Making him believe this, she also made him believe those 
very same secret orders (that, to his acute annoyance in July, 
1798, were not given to the Governor) had enabled him to 
water and victual his ships so expeditiously. 

As it was quite as much to her interest that Nelson should 
attribute momentous consequences to her action touching the 
Spanish king's letter, as that he should conceive himself to 
have been greatly assisted by her action for getting his fleet 
victualled at Syracuse, it is strange that, whilst teaching 
him to think so. highly of the later, she did not teach 
him to attribute imaginary results to the earlier service. 
As the writer of the codicil remembered so distinctly, that 
Lady Hamilton's action in sending the Spanish letter so 
promptly to London in 1796 was fruitless of good to the 
British Navy, it is fair to assume his memory was not wholly 
at fault, when he recorded so solemnly that two years later 
she had aided him materially in getting supplies at Syracuse. 


Though. I concur with Sir Harris Nicolas in suspecting 
the genuineness of C, I cannot join with Mr. Laughton in 
declaring it ' a palpable forgery.' The suspicious letter may 
be an honest record. Though in the preceding memoir I ex- 
press a strong opinion that, % had Lady Hamilton never been 
born, Nelson's ships would have watered and victualled just 
as readily at 'Syracuse/ I cannot conceive the Admiral was 
absolutely without) grounds for thinking Emma Hamilton 
was greatly serviceable to him in that particular business. 

J. C. J.