|Admiral Lord Nelson
(29 September 1758 – 21 October 1805)
Marianne Spencer-Stanhope to John Spencer-Stanhope.
November 20th., 1805. Farnely.
We begin to be impatient for more news. Think of poor Lady Collingwood—she was in a shop in Newcastle when the Mail arrived covered with ribbands, but the coachman with a black hat-band. He immediately declared the great victory, but that Lord Nelson and all the Admirals* were killed. She immediately fainted. When she heard from Lord Collingwood first he wrote in the greatest -grief for his friend, and said the fleet was in a miserable state. Perhaps that may bring him home.
Are you not pleased with his being created a Peer in so handsome a manner. Why has not Lady Nelson some honour conferred upon her? Surely the Widow of our Hero ought not to be so neglected.
Yesterday we drank to the immortal memory of our Hero. Mr Fawkes has got a very fine print of him.
* Lord Collingwood was a Vice Admiral in Nelson’s fleet.
|Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood
A Letter from Mrs. Fitzherbert to Mrs. Creevey.
“Nov. 6, 1805.
“The Prince has this moment recd, an account from the Admiralty of the death of poor Lord Nelson, which has affected him most extremely. I think you may wish to know the news, which, upon any other occasion might be called a glorious victory—twenty out of three and thirty of the enemy’s fleet being entirely destroyed—no English ship being taken or sunk—Capts. Duff and Cook both kill’d, and the French Adl. Villeneuve taken prisoner. Poor Lord Nelson recd, his death by a shot of a musket from the enemy’s ship upon his shoulder, and expir’d two hours after, but not till the ship struck and afterwards sunk, which he had the consolation of hearing, as well as his compleat victory, before he died. Excuse this hurried scrawl: I am so nervous I scarce can hold my pen. God bless you.
|The Prince of Wales, afterwards King George IV
Correspondence from Mrs. Creevey to Mr. Creevey.
“Nov. 7, 1805.
“. . . [The Prince’s] sorrow [for Nelson’s death] might help to prevent his coming to dinner at the Pavillion or to Johnstone’s ball. He did neither, but stayed with Mrs. Fitz; and you may imagine the disappointment of the Johnstones. The girl grin’d it off with the captain, but Johnstone had a face of perfect horror all night, and I think he was very near insane. I once lamented Lord Nelson to him, and he said:— ‘Oh shocking: and to come at such an unlucky time!’ . . .”
|Emma, Lady Hamilton
“. . . The first of my visits this morning was to ‘my Mistress’ (Mrs. Fitzherbert) … I found her alone, and she was excellent—gave me an account of the Prince’s grief about Lord N., and then entered into the domestic failings of the latter in a way infinitely creditable to her, and skilful too. She was all for Lady Nelson and against Lady Hamilton, who, she said (hero as he was) overpower’d him and took possession of him quite by force. But she ended in a natural, good way, by saying:—’ Poor creature! I am sorry for her now, for I suppose she is in grief.'”
“. . . It was a large party at the Pavillion last night, and the Prince was not well . . . and went off to bed. . . . Lord Hutchinson was my chief flirt for the evening, but before Prinny went off he took a seat by me to tell me all this bad news had made him bilious and that he was further overset yesterday by seeing the ship with Lord Nelson’s body on board. . . .”
From an undated letter written by Vice Admiral Collingwood to Edward Collingwood –
My dear friend received his mortal wound about the middle of the fight, and sent an officer to tell me that he should see me no more. His loss was the greatest grief to me. There is nothing like him for gallantry and conduct in battle. It was not a foolish passion for fighting, for he was the most gentle of human creatures, and often lamented the cruel necessity of it; but it was a principle of duty, which all men owed their country in defence of their laws and liberty. He valued his life only as it enabled him to do good, and would not preserve it by any act he thought unworthy. He wore four stars upon his breast and could not be prevailed to put on a plain coat, scorning what he thought a shabby precaution: but that perhaps cost him his life, for his dress made him the general mark.
He is gone, and I shall lament him as long as I live.
Originally published October 21, 2011