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some place or other I shall find my linen, for there is scarcely any in this trunk.”
The letter is valuable as an indication of the wife's regard. Again, Nelson had been absent three years from England. During that time he had won for himself imperishable fame, and had made his wife a peeress.
He landed at Yarmouth amidst the enthusiasm of his fellow-countrymen, but no Lady Nelson was there to wish him joy upon his glorious and safe return. Such was the wife. Upon the other side all was temptation and witchery, incessant kindness, unlimited devotion. For his country Nelson was at any moment prepared to lay down his life. Lady Hamilton, if it would redound to his honour, was ready to share the same fate. The exertions of the ambassador's wife on behalf of her King were the subject of universal applause; but Nelson would have been blind had he not perceived that not for the ambassador, and not for the King, but to place laurels on his own brow, all the energy was called forth and every triumph won. Pray,” writes Earl St. Vincent to Lady Hamilton, “do not let your fascinating Neapolitan dames approach too
our hero.” There was no necessity for the advice, but it sufficiently betrayed the susceptible temperament of the man upon whom his own wife had not even cared to make an impression.
We content ourselves with this statement. No impartial reader of the whole case will fail to conclude that Lady Hamilton employed the rare gifts that nature and education had conferred
her to bring one of the greatest of his time to her feet, and to complete the history of her conquests by linking
NELSON SEPARATES FROM HIS WIFE.
her name and life with those of a man who will never be forgotten whilst the history of his country endures. As difficult will it be for the same reader to recognise any but the most enthusiastic, the most unselfish, the most devoted affection, in the hero thus sorely tempted and overcome. Nelson guilty never believed himself an offender. His language in his private journals and in his letters all testifies to the equanimity with which he regarded his liaison with Sir William Hamilton's wife. Of all the anomalies that reveal themselves in humanity, none is more singular than that of an individual in the act of committing crime calling upon Heaven to look down approvingly upon the exhibition of virtue. We repeat, we content ourselves with announcing Lord Nelson's fall. We shall not insult the reader by requesting him to pursue the history of the connection. Let it be sufficient to say that Lord Nelson, after separating from his wife, lived openly with Lady Hamilton, as her protector, her husband not being dead. Nelson perished at Trafalgar in 1805. Sir William Hamilton died in 1808. On the 30th of January, 1801, Lady Hamilton gave birth to a daughter, in London. Her name was Horatia; her father was Lord Nelson.
If this were all we had to say, we should have little excuse for thrusting the painful history upon public notice. The last act of the tragedy is, as usual, the most melancholy and instructive. The career of Lady Hamilton ends fitly for mankind, woefully and dreadfully for her.
Upon the return of Sir William Hamilton and his wife to England, after their heavy losses in Naples, the
former petitioned Government for compensation, and the latter parted with her jewels to support both until such compensation should be granted. Before it came Sir William died. Dying, he commissioned his nephew, the Hon. Mr. Greville, to pray to his Majesty for a continuation of his pension to his wife after his decease, in consideration of her zeal and services. The zeal and services, however, were never recognised.
On the 21st day of October, 1805, and on board the Victory, "then in sight of the combined fleets of France and Spain, distant about ten miles,” Lord Nelson retired to his cabin and made a codicil to his will. He recorded the services performed by Lady Hamilton (the reader is acquainted with them), and then wrote as follows:
“Could I have rewarded those services, I would not now call upon my country; but as that has not been in my power, I leave Emma Lady Hamilton, therefore, a legacy to my King and country, that they will give her an ample provision to maintain her rank in life.
“I also leave to the beneficence of my country my adopted daughter, Horatia Nelson Thompson; and I desire she will use in future the name of Nelson only. These are the only favours I ask of my King and country at this moment when I am going to fight their battle.
May God bless my King and country, and all those who I loved dear. My relations it is needless to mention; they will, of course, be amply provided for."
Within a few hours of his signing the document Nelson lay upon a bed, stripped of his clothes, and
THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR.
covered with a sheet. A shot from the mizentop of the Redoubtable had done its work. As the men placed the wounded hero on his back, he looked round for Dr. Scott. “Doctor," he said, “I told you so—I am gone." And after a short pause he added, in a low voice, “I have to leave Lady Hamilton and my adopted daughter Horatia as a legacy to my country.”
An hour and a quarter afterwards Captain Hardy was at his side.
“I hope,” said the dying man, "none of our ships have struck, Hardy?” No, my lord,” replied Captain Hardy, “there is no fear of that.” Lord Nelson then said, “I am a dead man, Hardy. I am going fast, it will be all over with me soon. Come nearer to me. Pray let my dear Lady Hamilton have my hair, and all other things belonging to me.”
Another hour elapsed, and Hardy was at the bedside again. He told the captain “he felt that in a few minutes he should be no more," and added in a low tone, “Don't throw me overboard, Hardy.” The captain answered, “O no, certainly not.” “ Then,” replied Nelson, "you know what to do. Take care of my dear Lady Hamilton ; take care of poor Lady Hamilton!”
A few minutes more, and Nelson uttered his last words. They were—“Thank God, I have done my duty ! ”
But the words that immediately preceded them were the old plaintive sounds—“Remember, Dr. Scott, that I leave Lady Hamilton and my daughter Horatia as a legacy to my country. Never forget Horatia."
Nelson's codicil proved waste paper. His last
imploring accents passed into the air. Lady Hamilton derived no help from either. We do not apologise for the Government that took no heed of the last breath of Nelson ; but on behalf of humanity we ask pardon for the treachery of the man who kept back the codicil. Captain Blackwood, faithful to * his friend, brought home that document after the battle of Trafalgar, and placed it in the hands of the Rev. Williain Nelson, the brother of the Admiral, and subsequently Earl of the name. At this period the rev. gentleman, his wife, and family, were residing with Lady Hamilton, and had partaken of her hospitality for many months. Indeed, for six years his daughter had been consigned exclusively to Lady Hamilton's care. The rev. gentleman, fearful that the codicil would affect the sum about to be voted by Parliament for Lord Nelson's family, quietly kept it in his pocket until the day when 120,0001. were duly voted for their support. On that day he dined with Lady Hamilton in Clarges-street, and with the satisfaction of a man amply provided for, produced the paper, and sarcastically told his hostess to do what she liked with it. Lady Hamilton registered it at Doctors’-Commons the very next day; there it has been ever since, and may be seen any day by the curious reader upon the payment of one shilling.
It is, perhaps, hardly necessary to add, that all the good and great people who flocked round Lady Hamilton during the lifetime of Nelson, became all at once shocked at the improprieties of a lady left destitute. As for the Rev. Williain Nelson, who tumbled into the title and fortune which Lady Hamilton had helped to earn, that respectable gentle