Lord Nelson – Image: Wikipedia
Lady Emma Hamilton – Image: Encyclopedia.com
Lord Nelson had a love affair and he was a hero ‘at sea’, but was a really a hero in his personal life. How many people really do know about this scandal? I only got to know about it when I read about Lady Emma! Lord Nelson was – apparently – also a chess player.
A poem from Lady Emma to Lord Nelson – from here:
EMMA TO NELSON. I think, I have not lost my heart; Since I, with truth, can swear, At every moment of my life, I feel my Nelson there! If, from thine Emma's breast, her heart Were stolen or flown away; Where! where! should she my Nelson's love Record, each happy day? If, from thine Emma's breast, her heart Were stolen or flown away; Where! where! should she engrave, my Love! Each tender word you say? Where! where! should Emma treasure up Her Nelson's smiles and sighs? Where mark, with joy, each secret look Of love, from Nelson's eyes? Then, do not rob me of my heart, Unless you first forsake it; And, then, so wretched it would be, Despair alone will take it.
Born Emma Lyon, she became the mistress of Charles Greville, then of Sir William Hamilton , ambassador to Naples, whom she married (1791). She gained enormous influence with Neapolitan Queen Marie Caroline. Her intimacy with Nelson began in 1798, and after returning to Englandwith him, she bore him a daughter, Horatia, in 1801
Nelson’s affair with Emma Hamilton was the biggest scandal of the age. Their actual liaison lasted only six years, but it transformed their lives, their respective positions in society, and the public’s perception of them both.
Horatio Nelson first met Lady Hamilton on 12 September 1793. He was a 35-year-old post captain and she was the 28-year-old wife of Sir William Hamilton, the British Envoy to Naples. Emma was a great beauty and a celebrated artists’ model, and she was also famous across Europe for performing ‘attitudes’, which were performances in which she moved quickly from one dramatic pose to another.
Mired in retirement in Norfolk for the previous five years, Nelson had hardly seen a woman since he had returned to sea six months before their meeting, and he was impressed by Lady Hamilton. He wrote to his wife Fanny that Emma was a ‘young woman of amiable manners who does honour to the station to which she is raised’.
Although the newspaper-reading public savoured every detail about Nelson and Lady Hamilton, others condemned their relationship and some friends and colleagues refused to visit them. Most aristocrats and rich men kept mistresses, and many, like the Duke of Wellington, humiliated their wives by flaunting courtesans in public. Nelson, however, was the first high-profile man to actually leave his wife and many were scandalised by his actions.
Six Wood Relics Related to Admiral Lord Nelson – you can see a turned chess piece to the right on this photo.