Tom Pocock

Half Hero Half Baby

Nelson: A Personal History


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When Nelson was under-rewarded with a barony for winning the Battle of the Nile, the furious Emma Hamilton wrote to him: ‘Hang them, I say! If I was King of England, I would make you the most noble puissant Duke Nelson, Marquis Nile, Earl Alexandria, Viscount Pyramid, Baron Crocodile and Prince Victory.’

Nelson himself was said to enjoy ‘quiet conversation … not unmixed with caustic wit’, but few of his own jokes have survived. One was delivered when a Yarmouth publican asked if he could rename his establishment The Nelson Arms and the Admiral replied, ‘That would be absurd, seeing I have but one.’ That may not have been as funny as Emma’s, but the story could provide a basis for the theory that he had, or at least appreciated, a sense of humour.

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