Misspelling in quoted matter (journal entries, correspondence, etc.) is preservedasprinted.Furthernotesmaybefoundattheendofthetext.
TheAdmiral ARomanceofNelsoninthe YearoftheNile By
HutchinsonandCo. PaternosterRow 1898
NOTE. The cover is an exact reproduction in the original colours of a rare old print. Thedateshaveofcoursebeenadded.Theclouds,towhichNelsonpointswith hissword,expressthewarsandrumoursofwars,withwhichtheyear1798was overhung.Theswordindicatesthespiritwithwhichheapproachedquestionsof nationalhonour.
SOME years ago, Professor J. K. Laughton’s admirable selection of “Letters andDispatchesofHoratio,ViscountNelson,”inspiredmewithsuchaninterest in Nelson’s wonderfully human and graphic correspondence that I studied the larger and earlier “Dispatches and Letters of Lord Nelson,” collected by Sir HarrisNicolas.Thepresentbookistheoutcomeofalongandaffectionatestudy ofthesetwoworks,andthewell-thumbedpagesofSoutheyandJeaffreson.
Butsince,atthetimeofmyfirstvisittoSicily,alittlemorethantwoyearsago,I had definitely before me the project of writing a Nelson novel for the onehundredthanniversaryoftheBattleoftheNile(August1st,1898),Ihaveread mostoftheimportantworksdealingwithLordNelson’slife,especiallyCaptain Mahan’s “Life of Nelson,” which is a monument of impartiality, research, and the application of professional knowledge to literature. I have also, by the kindnessofLordDundonald,Mr.Morrison,andothers,hadtheopportunityof seeing a quantity of unpublished Nelsoniana, which have been of the utmost valuetomeinformingafinalopinionofthecharacterofmyhero. The main object of this book is to present to the reader, in the year of the centenaryoftheNile,therealNelson,withoutextenuationormalice.Nodoubtit wouldhavebeeneasiertoensurepopularitybypassingovertheweaknessesin his character and representing him only as an ever-victorious warrior. But this didnotseemtometherightcoursetopursuewithacharacterlikeNelson.Those who have studied his letters in the pages of Nicolas and Laughton, and those who have studied his life in the pages of Captain Mahan (who, it must be remembered,isaprofessionalwriter,thechiefnavalexpertoftheUnitedStates, writing upon the greatest English sea-strategist), cannot fail to have been impressedbytheintenselyhumannotewhichhestruckinalmosteveryletter. People love to read about Nelson, not only because he was the greatest seacommander who ever lived, but because his own personal character was so extraordinarily vehement and interesting. He was a law unto himself. As a commander he forced his way into recognition by detecting, and acting in defiance of, the errors of his superiors, even of men like St. Vincent. He
continued to do so when he was an Admiral commanding fleets whose destructionwouldhavemeantalmostnationalruin.Andhewasasmuchalaw untohimselfinhisprivatelife.“Alawuntohimself”mighthavebeenhismotto. Itwasthekeynoteofhisforce. But even Nelson, absolutely fearless as he was of danger and responsibility, couldhardlyhaveextortedthelibertytoassertthisforceofcharacterifithadnot beentemperedbyoneofthemostlovabledispositionsrecordedofapublicman. Nearlyallwhowereeverthrownintocontactwithhimwerehiswillingslaves, oraffectionatefriends—eventhegrimoldSt.VincentandtheaustereHood.He wasthemostconsiderate,themostsympathetic,themostgenerousofshipmates. His very simplicity was fascinating, and he was wonderfully simple where his affections were concerned, though he showed such intuition in gauging the character of a knave or an enemy, and in forecasting the movements of politicians,aswellasofhostilecommanders. Nelsonhadthesamefaithinthosehelovedashehadinhisowngenius.Inthe hourofdangerhisspiritrosetothesublime,andthebodilyailmentstowhichhe wassoconstantlyaprey,lefthim.Inthehoursofwaiting,whenanxietieswere accumulatingandactionwasimpossible,hisstateofhealthsankverylow.His passion for Lady Hamilton shows how infatuated he could become over a womanwhoappealedtohisimagination.Fewwomeninhistoryhavepossessed her great qualities in a higher degree than Lady Hamilton at the time when Nelsonfirstcameunderherinfluence,in1798,aftertheBattleoftheNile.Her letterstoMr.GrevilleandSirWilliamHamiltonprovethatshemusthavehada delightful disposition, and the part she took in the stirring events of 1798 and 1799showsherimagination,herdaring,andherability. I have endeavoured, at the risk of raising a stormy discussion, to present the characterofNelsonexactlyasitwasin1798andthefirsthalfof1799;andto present a general view of the historical events in which he formed the central figure, though I am aware that certain passages in the book, such as Chapter XVII.,formratherheavyreadingforanovel.But,tobringoutthecharacterof Nelson,itwasnecessarytodetailthetangledpoliticalproblemswithwhichhe was confronted. As Captain Mahan pointed out, Nelson was one of the most astutepoliticiansofhisday,aswellasthegreatestsea-commander. AlargepartofthebookisinNelson’sownwords.Appreciatingtheimportance, in treating a national hero, of keeping as close as possible to history, I have, wherever it was feasible, used, whether in dialogue or description, the actual
words of Nelson and his contemporaries. These I have derived from his own publishedandunpublished correspondenceandjournals, from thenarrativesof hisofficers,andsimilarsources.Similarly,Ihavederivedmychapteronhisvisit to Pompeii largely from an account of a visit to Pompeii written in 1802. The style of the narrator of the story, Captain Thomas Trinder, is founded upon unpublishedjournalsandlettersofthetime,inthepossessionofmyfather.They weremostlywrittenbyhisgodfather,Mr.HenryBrooke,wholivedatWalmer, and may be taken as fair specimens of the writing of the travelled and bettereducatedKentishgentlemanofhisday.Mr.Brookewasoneofthelastheadsof the now abolished Alien Office, and as such had much to do with the French princesexiledinEnglandduringtheNapoleonicrégime.Hewasalsopresentat the restoration of the French monarchy. Some of the pieces of queer grammar, such as “I have wrote,” were probably idiomatic at the time, others are mere loosewriting. The scene of the book is mostly laid in Naples and Sicily, and to acquire the requisitelocalknowledgeIhavepaidtwolongvisitstotheseplacesin1896-8. The Mont’ alto Palace and the Castle of the Favara, in fact nearly all the buildingsdescribed,actuallyexist,thoughinmostcasestheyaremuchdecayed or altered. The Hamiltons’ Palace at Naples, though now divided into apartments,remainsmuchasitwas,exceptthat,inNelson’stime,theseacame closeuptoit.Thefeaturesofthesea-frontofNaplesareverymuchalteredsince then; but the Comte de la Ville, who is at the head of the Storia Patria, the excellent historical society of Naples, was kind enough to show me almost contemporary plans of the places described. And here I wish to take the opportunityofpointingoutthattheNeapolitansandSiciliansofto-daydifferas muchfromthecorrupthangers-onoftheBourbonsastheEnglishpublicmenof to-daydifferfromthevenalfollowersofSirRobertWalpole.Ineedhardlysay thatthedenunciationsofthem,andabovealloftheFrench,arenotmyown,but alwaysderivedfromNelson’sexpressedsentiments,andnearlyalwaysgivenin hisexactwords. In criticising the characters of my heroines it must be remembered that the moralsoftheNeapolitancourtinthetimeofMariaCarolinaareindescribablein anEnglishnovel;butthis,asamatteroffact,istheonepointinwhichIhave shrunkfrompresentingthingswithoutextenuation.Itwillbenoticedthatatthe period of which I write, the year of the Nile, I believe Lady Hamilton to have been a lovely and enchanting woman, and that I believe that the connection betweenNelsonandherbeganasapureromance,eachworshippingtheotheras
themostsplendidhumanbeingintheworld.Thebeautifulletterofhero-worship which she wrote to him after the battle of the Nile I first saw in its entirety in ProfessorLaughton’ssumptuousvolume,“TheCompanionsofNelson.” BeforeIconcludeIhavetoexpressmythankstoMr.E.Neville-Rolfe,British ConsulatNaples;totheMarquisA.deGregorio,andtheMessrs.Whitaker,of Palermo;andtoMissA.Mason,agreat-nieceofNelson,besidesthosewhomI havementionedabove.IamalsoindebtedtothewritingsofMr.ClarkRussell; to the highly valuable and hitherto unpublished Nelson documents which have been appearing in Literature; to the accurate and splendidly illustrated NelsonianawhichhavebeenappearinginthepopularillustratedServicepaper, TheArmyandNavyIllustrated,andintheEnglishIllustratedMagazine;andto Lord Charles Beresford’s and Mr. H. W. Wilson’s “Nelson and his Times,” which was published as a supplement to the Daily Mail. I have followed Lord Charles’sviewofNelsonhimself morecloselythan anyother,because itisso sympathetic,andiswrittenbyonewhoisatonceabrilliantnavalexpertandthe sea-commandertowhomthenationlooksforexploitslikeNelson’s. Iampreparedformuchcensureandacrimoniousdiscussion,especiallyoverthe verypointuponwhichItakemystand,thatanoveldealingwiththecharacterof Nelsonoughtaboveallthingstobeahumandocument.Heis,tome,themost intenselyhumanfigureinHistory. DOUGLASSLADEN. PALAZZOMONTELEONE,PALERMO, April6th,1898.
MY Lord Eastry belonged to the grand old race of East Kent squires, who broughtuptheirsonstofearnothingandhatetheFrench,aye,andbroughtup theirdaughterstobethewivesandmothersofmenwhoshouldsailthesaltseas tilltoostiffwithageorwoundstoclimbtotheirquarter-decks.Forhowcould theirsonshelpgoingtoseawhentheysawtheboatmenofDealfromtheiropen beach defying the guns of the French and the might of the fiercest storms that blew? MyLordEastrybeganhisboldlifeasyoungersonofasquire,whoboretheold Kent name of Fleet. But of John Fleet, the eldest, there is only an empty memorialinEastryChurch,whichrecordsthat“hisbodyliesinthegreatSouth Seasinthehopeofajoyfulresurrection.”Hisship,fullofhonourandgloryand prize-money,wasspokentwodayseastofTrinidadinthegreatstormof1759; and mariners maintain that fighting Jack Fleet’s black frigate sails there still, wheneverthecycloneiscomingdown,withcanvasenoughonhertooverseta hundred-gun ship. And Dick had his call on the glorious 1st of June—had the van-shipandsailedintotheFrenchwiththegrandairofhisfamily,asifhenever couldhavehisbellyfulloffighting—laidalongsidehalfadozenofthematone time and another, and had a chain-shot through his middle just as he sent the Vengeurtothebottomwithhercoloursintheactofstriking.Oncehewashard pressed, though; and Harry, the Lord Eastry that, as he lay dying, drank Wellington’shealthwhenthenewswasbroughtofWaterloo,sawitand,leaving thelineflatinneglectofsignals,boreuptohim.Lord!whatafamilytheywere tofight!WhenthetallRamilliesraninbetweentheBrunswickandtheAchilleto receiveherfire,itwaslikeanexplosionofdevilsfromhell.Themen,menofthe CinquePortsthatallhadadeadfatheroradeadbrothertochargetotheFrench, wouldhavefollowedJack,Dick,orHarryintoNebuchadnezzar’sfieryfurnace. Well, Harry Fleet—the Lord Harry, as they called him in the Channel—came safeoutofthegreatbattle;andnotsomanymonthsafterwardsfelluponagreat convoyguardedbyshipsthatshouldhaveblownhissquadronoffrigatesoutof
the water, drove their escort under the guns of Martinique, and carried the convoy,withthearmyonboardthemthatshouldhavetakenourIndies,safeinto Antigua,fromwhichhebroughthomemoreprize-moneythanever.Hewasjust toolatetoclosetheeyesofhisfather,thetougholdsquireofEastrywholived hisfourscore-and-oddyearslikehisfathersbeforehim,thefewofthemthatdid notdiewiththeirshoesonandtheflagoverhead. They made him the Lord Eastry and a Knight of the Bath, but he had had so muchleadthroughhislegbythattime,thathecouldneverfightashipagain,so hecametotheoldhomeatEastrytofindhisfourteen-yearolddaughterthemost wonderfulbitofwoman’sfleshinallthehallsofKent.CaptainJackandCaptain Dickwerenevermarried.Whatchildrentheymayhavehadfellnotintoanylist ofthelandedgentry,andsoitcamethatthelong-descendedlandsoftheFleets, andAdmiralmyLordEastry’sprodigiouscoffersofprize-moneymustallcome toKatherineFleet,nowtheLadyKatherine. Now,nomanthateverbreathedwaslessofacoxcombthanAdmiralHarry,but asthenameofhisancientfamilywastopassoutoftheearthwithhisdeath,he lookedtoitthattheson-in-lawwhosucceededtohishonoursandhisgreatestate shouldbeofsuchrankandfamethatitmightbenoregretevenfortheFleetsof Eastrytobelostintheirgreaterhonours:someDukeitmightbe,oratleastan Earl, whose belted ancestors had fought for the White or Red Rose; and Katherine Fleet, aged now eighteen, might have had any such an one as came withinthemagicofhermoods. There are some women who are not completely graceful, and yet give the onlooker a great sense of satisfaction. There is a sort of wild freedom, a declarationofstrengthandhealth,anevidenceofcourageandhighspirits,which bespeakananimalperfectiontoointenseforthegentleeaseofgrace.Katherine wasoneofthosemettlesomewomenwhomakemen’sbloodtingle,andwhose own red blood never runs cold in the direst peril. I suppose she was tall. She would have looked it had she been more than common short. She was such a noblecreature,andshehadthesameblueeyesthatwereworthadozenpikesto the Lord Eastry, when, in his old frigate days, he had jumped aboard a Frenchman and a wave had checked half his boarding party—gay blue eyes withal, that could laugh like her dimples and white teeth—gay blue eyes that couldbeaslovingorrecklessasthemobilemouth.Andshehadthepurecurves ofcheekandeyebrowwhicharealmostnecessarytobeautyabsolutelikehers. What follows, I, Thomas Trinder, Captain retired on half-pay in His Majesty’s
Navy, and now of Beach Cottage, Walmer, who am writing this chronicle, had fromWillthenightbeforeIledhissistertoRippleChurch. One March night of 1798 was Katherine’s coming-out ball. And her father’s hopes looked like fulfilment, for the greatest of Kentish peers, the young Marquis of Dover, had been spending week after week at his mansion of Pegwell,whereneverwithinthememoryofthecountryside,whichnotedallhis doings,hadhespenttwodaysonend.AndKatherineinaball-roomwasawitch. She danced as such women do, light-footed and tireless, radiating health and highspirits,andwiththeunconscioussmileofconquestontheirlips,untilthe victorcomeswhomakesthemreplaceitwiththemostexquisitegentleness. People looked to see that in Lady Katherine, before the night was dead, for Ralph, Marquis of Dover, Earl of River, Viscount Ripple, and Baron Waldershare,allinthePeerageofEngland,andLordLieutenantoftheCounty of Kent. For he was a fine man, who rode straight to hounds, and had already climbedhighintheGovernment,andKatherinehadshownherselfwellinclined tohim.
The great minuet was to be at midnight, and Katherine was promised to Lord Dover for it. In his fine scarlet uniform of Lord Lieutenant, he was already waitingforherinthedoorofthegreatbarnwithtranseptslikeachurch,which had been turned into a ball-room, decked with the trophies of Lord Eastry’s wars. Forinanothertwoorthreeminutesthefirststrokewouldclangfromthetower ofEastry’slittleNormanchurch.Katherinehadbeenuptoherroom,—shehad girlishvanityenoughtowishtolookherbestinthegreatminuet,—andnowshe was stepping down the stairway with an eloquent hesitancy, her left hand clearing from her lovely feet the heavy shimmery satin, which, young as she was, it seemed natural for such an imperial woman to wear. Dividing the line betweenherbeautifulthroatandhershoulders,werethefamouspearlsthatwere thetrophyofLordEastry’swildestexploit. Who could doubt but that when she went out from that minuet, it would be to havethegreatestnameinallthekingdomofKentofferedforherkeeping? Butsuddenly,throughtheopen,ivy-shroudedElizabethanpaneattheturnofthe stair,camealowvoice,—ayoungvoice,withthelowdistinctnesswhichIshall
neverforget,—“KittyFleet,KittyFleet,isityou,KittyFleet?” A light came over the girl’s face, which, I am prepared to swear, the great MarquessofDoverhadneverseen,asshereplied, “Hush,Will!keepintheshadow,andI’llcome—butonlyforaminute.” But,insteadofdoingasshebadehim,hecamerightintothedoor,—intothefull blaze of light. He was then a fair boy of eighteen, and I can tell you that his charmingfigurewasshownofftogreatadvantagebythequaintdressofourday, —thetight-fittingNankeenhoseandshortdarkbluejacket.Andwhenhebared hisheadheshowedfairhair,asglossyandgoldenasKatherine’sown,inavery long queue. I can picture him fidgeting with his sugar-loaf beaver, for he had somethinggreatonhismind. “Oh,Will,”shewhispered,“weshallbediscovered.” “Nomatter.” “But why?” began Kitty; and suddenly prepared to fly, as the first stroke of twelverangoutpainfullycleartoheranxiousear. “I’mgoingwiththeAdmiral,Kitty,andyouknowwhatthatmeans.” “Yes,—thatis,whatdoesitmean?” “Itmeans,—well,it’sAdmiralNelson:anditmeansthatIshallnevercomeback atall,orcomebackaman.” “Whendoyoustart,Will?”askedKatherine,forgettingallabouttheminuetand hermarquess,andcomingforwardtotakehishandsandlookintohisface.At eighteenitwasabeautifulface,buteventhensoproudthatitsnaturalfrankness wasalmostobscured.Andyetyouforgaveitshaughtiness,foryoufeltthatsuch pride would not stoop to anything cowardly or mean, anything that would preventitskeepingitselfaloofandaloft.AsshetookhishandsinhersIknow howthestern,clean-cutmouthmeltedintooneoftheirresistiblesmilesthatsuch mouthsmostlyhaveonceinaway. “Oh,Will!”shesaid,“Iwaswonderingwhydidyounotcometomycoming-out ball—you,Will,mybestfriend.” “To see my Lord Dover’s triumph when he had won you, Kitty?” he asked almostbitterly:“Icouldnotbearit.No,IshouldnothavecomeatallifIhadnot
beengoingbythemorningcoachwithmymothertoPortsmouth.” “Why,Will,whatisLordDovertome?”sheasked. “Hemeanstomarryyou.” “Idon’tmeantomarryhim.” “Butwhatwillyourfathersay?” “Myfatherwillsaynothing.Ihavenoneedtomarrythefirstloverwithatitle whopresentshimself.Iamalord’sdaughter,passingrich—andpassablygoodlooking,Will?” “Beserious,Kitty.” “Indeed I must, and say good-bye, Will,” she cried, as the strokes had ceased ringingoutfromEastryTowersometwoorthreeminutes,“fortheminuetwas fortwelveo’clock,andIamengagedtoLordDover—forthatonly.Good-bye, dearWill.” With a sudden impulse she sprang forward, and laying her hands on his shoulderskissedhim. Hardlyhadshefinished,when— “What’sthis,what’sthis?”criedabluffvoice,withanaccompanyingthudofa lame man’s stick on the polished oak floor—“Will Hardres off to fight the French!Nay,lad,notsosudden!thecoachdoesnotstarttillsix,andCissy’sat school,andyourmothergoingwithyou.Thisway,thisway!” HeledWillintotheball-roomanduptotheMarquess. “I have a favour to ask you, my Lord Dover. I wish Will Hardres here,” the noblemanbowed,“toleadtheminuetwithmydaughter.WeFleetsthinkitthe greatesthonourintheworldtofighttheFrenchinaKing’sship;andWillisto havethespecialhonourofsailingwithAdmiralNelson—agreaterman,tomy mind,thanSt.Vincent,orHood,orHowe.” “Asyouplease,”saidtheMarquess,insuchachillingwaythatWill,ashesaid, couldhavekilledhim,andIknowthekindoflightwhichcameintoKatherine’s eyes. “IcannottakemyLordMarquess’splace,”saidWill.
“Then, by G—d, you shall take my daughter herself, if she’ll have you,” said Lord Eastry, more thoroughly roused and vexed with himself for the slight he hadputupontheMarquess. “ByG—d,heshall,ifhe’llhaveme,”saidKatherine,alsoroused,andusingher father’snotveryelegantlanguage. PoorWill,theverypatternofgoodmanners,whichwerewellnighallthathis widowed mother had to bestow upon him, was dumfounded. In a moment of piqueKatherineandherfatherhadbestowedherhanduponhim—thatwhichhe coveted more than anything else in the world, and dared not covet; and the bestowalhadbeenmadeinamannerandlanguagesoextraordinarythathewas atalosshowtoeffecttheacceptance. ForthemomenttheMarquesscametotherescue. “IthinkIamtohavethehonour—fortheminuet.” It was not natural to Katherine not to be gracious; and she had months of rememberedkindnessestothisman’scredit.Indeedshehadcomewithinanace ofthinkingofhimasherhusband.Sosheacceptedthesituationwithwomanly tact,sheafterwardsmaintainingthatshespokeaslittleasshemight. She danced the minuet with grave sweetness and gentleness, which, in a mischievousgirllikeKatherine,whowaslittlemorethanachild,was,initself, anominoussignfortheMarquess. Shealsocastfromtimetotimeatenderglance,aspeakingsmile,toWill. “It seems to me,” said his lordship, bitterly—he could not be chilling to Katherine,whohadhisheart—“thatyouaresteppingwithme,anddancingwith thatboy.” “I am but lately affianced to him, my lord,” retorted Katherine, this time with mischiefinhereyes. “You don’t mean to say that you’re taking this tomfoolery seriously, Lady Katherine—Kitty?” “Itisnotomfoolerytome,mylord,”shesaid,withaflashofrisingangerthat warnedhim.“Ihadkissedhimmylove,beforeyounettledmyfatherintogiving metheleavehemightneverhavegivenotherwise.”
Bythistimetheminuetwasover,andKatherinehadsufferedherselftobeled intooneoftheaislesofthebarnwhichhadbeenriggedintoaball-room. “Oh, Kitty,” cried the Marquess, with a change of tone, which made her woman’sheartgentletohim,“Iwon’tcallitthatnameagain,becauseitmakes youangry;buttellmethatyoudidnotmeanitseriously,foryouknowIhave loved you three months past, and been waiting for the opportunity you have alwaysfencedoffwithsomejestorpieceofmischief.” “Andcouldyounotguesswhy,mylord?” “Why?”heechoed,sadly. “BecauseIknewIdidnotloveyouhonestly,and,warmlyasIlikedyou,Iwas waiting to see if I could love you. You may rely on it, that when I felt myself conquered, I should have thrown down my weapons and surrendered at discretion.” “Andcanyounotlovemeyet?” “Nevernow,mylord,morethanafriend.” “Whysosuddenly?” “Why?Becauseeventshavebeenlikerunawayhorsesto-night.Theyhavetaken thebitsbetweentheirteethanddashedusoveraprecipice.” “Againstyourwill?” “Nay,notagainstmywill;butitwasaleapImightneverhavedaredtotake.” “Andyoumeantomarryhim,Kitty?” “Yes,mylord;whenheisaman.” “Andwhenwillthatbe?” “I know not; but manhood comes quickly in these piping times, and lives are short,”sheadded,withalittlebreakinhervoice. “Andhegoestoseato-morrow?” “Itisto-day,”sheanswered,withabiggerbreak. “ThenIamanillfriendtobekeepingyoufromhim,”hesaid,hisbetternature
assertingitselfatthesightofthesorrowofthewomanhelovedsowell.“Goodbye,Kitty,”hesaidgravely,bowingtokissherhand. “Good-bye,mylord.Youarenotangrywithme?” “No; not with you. Not angry, but hurt, and heart-sick. You will be my friend still,littleLadyKitty?” “Iamfivefeetsix,LordDover.IsthattallenoughtobethefriendofaMarquess andtheLordLieutenantofKent?” “Itistallenoughformyheart,Kitty.” “Youmustnottalkofyourheartanymore,orIshallnotletyoucomeandsee me.” “ButImaycomeandseeyoustill,andwalkandridewithyoustill.Howoften mayIcomeandseeyou?” “Asoftenasyoucanbringmenewsofthefleet—AdmiralNelson’sfleet.” Thisaccountoftheleave-takingfromLordDoverIhadfromKatherine,theday I had the honour of becoming her brother-in-law, through Will’s sister Cecilia. Butwhattookplaceatherleave-takingfromherboy-loverIneverhad,forthat issacredtothegirlandboy,whohavethehonourofbeingloversstill.
IWASsittingwithWillinthemorning-roomofhismansionofEastry,whichhe had with Katherine, when one of his footmen came in to announce that a lady wishedtospeaktohimveryparticularly.Sherefusedtogivehername,butshe came on a matter of great importance connected with Lord Nelson, whose confidence Captain Hardres had enjoyed. It was, she told the footman, a very intimatepersonalmatterinconnectionwithhislateLordship. Now,Willwasnotordinarilywhatiscalledanapproachableperson;butshehad hituponthepasswordtowhichhenevercouldturnadeafear,andhedirected thatsheshouldbeshownin. Nosoonerhadsheenteredthedoor,carryingabundle,which,tothefootman’s evidentdistress,shehadrefusedtotrustoutofherownhands,than,seeingme, shestopped.ButWillsaid,incoldtonesthatwouldhavefrightenedanyonenot sure of her mission, “This gentleman also had the honour of serving under the Admiral.”To allwhohadservedunderthatimmortalmanhewasalways “the Admiral.” Shelookedatusboth,andIamvainenoughtothinkthatshefeltmypresence wouldmakewhatshehadcometosayeasier,ratherthanmoredifficult,though Will’s facehad softened when he saw that she was a gentlewoman of reduced circumstances. The bundle she had brought with her, tied up in a piece of faded green silk, containedsomethinghardandsquare.Whensheunknotteditandproducedthree leather-boundvolumesofthekindusedforjournals,andopenedoneatrandom, Willmighthaveseenaghost. This wasinthe year1819, youmustremember,—longyearsaftertheAdmiral had seen his work finished, and had passed away like Moses in sight of the fulfilledpromise.AndWill,whohadbeeninconstantpersonalattendancenearer and more confidential than a secretary, saw before him, as plainly as his eyes could show him, three volumes of the identical kind always employed by the Admiral for his private affairs, and written, as it seemed to Will, by the
Admiral’sveryownhand.AndWill,thoughhewasnotwiseinbook-learning, nor had given much attention to such matters, had had the very best opportunities for observing the Admiral’s writing. He knew every turn in the clearbutshakycharacters,writtenwiththelefthandbyoneaccustomedtillhe was morethan thirty-fiveyears old to penning withhis right.The binding,the paper,andtheink,aswellasthehandwriting,werethecounterpartsofwhatWill hadseensooftenbeforetheAdmiralonhisdesk. Theoldladydidnotofferawordofexplanationuntilwehadexaminedthemfor someminutes,and,lookingup,hadlaidthemdown,andthenshetoldusalikely storyenough. ItcameoutthatshewasMrs.Hunter,andthegoodsoulwhohadtakenmyLady Hamilton,thenliketodie,andingreatdestitution,intoherhouseatBoulogne, and had sheltered her and maintained and nursed her free of charge until her death. “Thesethreevolumes,”shesaid,“wereherLadyship’slastandgreatesttreasure, whichsheneverwouldhavefarawayfromher,andwhich,whenshewasalone, shereadtohergreatcomfort.” WhenLadyHamilton,somehoursbeforeherdeath,feltthattheendwassurely coming, not having (after all the fortune which had poured through her hands) thewherewithaltopayalawyer’sfeefordrawingupawill,shehadgivenher thesebooks,biddinghertosellthem,andtakewhattheybroughttorecompense herforherkindnessandtheexpensetowhichshehadbeenput.Theywere,her Ladyshipsaid,journalsoftheyears1798,1799and1800;thehappiestyearsof herlife,whichshehadspentinhisLordship’sfriendshipontheshoresoftheir belovedMediterranean,andpresentedbyhimtoherasamemorialofthem.Had theungratefulnationnotneglectedhislastchargethatitshouldmaintainher,she would have bequeathed these volumes to it; but seeing that Mrs. Hunter had proved herself her best friend since Lord Nelson’s glorious death, it was right thatsheshouldhavethemtosellandrecompenseherself. Accordingly, having been given by My Lady Captain Hardres’s name, among othersofhisLordship’sdearestfriends,—Willbowedgravely,—andthesailing packet which had brought her from Boulogne having landed her at Dover, she hadcometohimfirst,asbeingthenearestofthegentlemenmentioned(Eastryis butafewmilesfromDover);andthenshecamedirecttothepoint—wouldWill purchasethesejournalsoftheAdmiral?
Shenamedaverygreatprice;butthenWill,livinginsuchamansion-houseas Eastry,inthestylethatheaffected,wasclearlyamanofgreatmeans. AsIexpected,hewouldnotpromiseheratonce,andinquiredwhereshewould sleepforthenight;and,Ithink,hewasabouttorequirehertoleavethemwith himuntilthemorning,whichIamsuretothesimplesoulwouldhaveseemed likeleavingherpurseinastrangehouse,whenKatherinecamein,lookinglike herowndaughter,withtheaddedgentlenessofyearsofhappywifehood,though shewasamettlesomecreature,andnottobefrightenedbyWillorthedevil. Will put his arm round her youthful waist, and led her into the oriel to repeat everything,sheglancingfromtimetotimeatMrs.Hunter.Whenhehadfinished theycamebackagain,andWillbegan,withsomehesitation,“Mrs.——,”when Katherine, reading what was in his eyes, said, “You are never going to let her who performed the last offices for the woman the Admiral loved with all the wealth of his great heart—you are never going to let the lady sleep in a poor villageinn,whentherearetwooftheAdmiral’sofficersinthisveryhouse?” TowhichWillrepliedgallantly,“Youarethemistressofthishouse,Kitty,and suchaninvitationshouldcomefromalady.” Ithinkhewasgladoftheproposal,foritgavehimtheopportunityofjudging the woman that would sell the books, as well as the books she would sell. Thoughnotalker,Willwas,assilentmenareapttobe,anobserverofcharacter, andIcouldtellthathewasnotwhollysatisfied. Andsoitwassettledthatagroomoragardenershouldbringherboxfromthe inn, and she dined and slept and breakfasted the following morning at Eastry Place.Willhadheronhisrighthandatmeals,andtalkedwithherwhilewewere in the ladies’ company after dinner; though I own we joined them late, for we hadthejournalsatthetablewhilewesatoverMadeirawinethathadlaidinthe GoodwinSandsformanyayearinawreckthatwasbaredbytheirshifting—as fineawineasevercameintoEastKent,dutyornoduty. Katherine, of course, saw much more of her than we, and had the more opportunityofjudgingher.Katherinewasnomeanjudge,thougheverinclined tocondonethosewhomherjudgmentcondemned.ToKatherine’seye,aswellas our own, the creature had certain faults. As she felt the more at home her garrulityandvanityranawaywithher,tillshealmostclaimedhershareofcredit fortheAdmiral’svictoriesbysomeretrospectiveprocessofmerit.Infact,like othergarrulouspersons,shewasinclinedtofirewithoutloading.Buttheredid