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Title: Patriotic Lady
Author: Marjorie Bowen
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Title: Patriotic Lady
Author: Marjorie Bowen

Patriotic Lady
A Study of Emma, Lady Hamilton, and the Neapolitan Revolution of 1799
a coloured cartoon
Marjorie Bowen

First published in 1936

* * * * *



* * * * *


It has been impossible to write this study of Emma, Lady Hamilton,
without touching upon subjects which are extremely controversial. It is
not within the scope of this book, however, to attempt to revive disputes
and arguments which have long since been worn threadbare, and which
concern not so much matters of fact as matters of opinion. Many writers
who have dealt with the career of Emma, Lady Hamilton, have set
themselves the task, not of discovering the truth, but of making out a
case according to personal prejudice. The works given in the bibliography
at the end of this volume cover the whole range of opinions held, and
judgments given, by Italian, French, Austrian and English writers on the
end of the Revolution in Naples in 1799. Any reader who doubts the
accuracy or fairness of the present writer's version of this event is
referred to the works of these authorities, all of which are easily

It must be added, however, that these writers differ considerably in
their points of view and their knowledge, are often confused by passion,
or are deliberately inaccurate through prejudice; therefore all, or
nearly all, the evidence must be read, if an impartial judgment is to be
formed on matters that have caused such bitter emotions and such fierce
differences of opinion.

It is useless, for instance, to read _Nelson and the Neapolitan
Jacobins_ by H. C. Gutheridge, without reading _Lady Hamilton et la
Révolution de Naples_ by Joseph Turquan and Jules d'Auriac, in which
the English author's points are carefully dealt with, and his arguments
often refuted. Further, it is impossible to understand the situation and
sentiments of the Patriots of Naples and the Italian point of view
without being acquainted with the Jacobins' own statements and the
opinions of Italian historians, which may be found embodied in the
writings of Vincenzo Cuoco, Francesco Lomanaco, Carlo Botta, P. Colletta,
and G. M. Arrighi, and in those of two modern Italian scholars of the
first rank, who have made impartial and patient researches into the
history of the _Novantanove_; Benedetto Croce and Pasquale Villari.
The latter, in his _Nelson, Caracciolo, la Rivoluzione di Napoli_,
published in _Discussioni critiche Discorsi_, gives a masterly
summing up of the whole controversy and of the works of all the writers
who have discussed the questions raised by the part played by the English
in the Bourbon reaction.

Another cool and detached account of the affair is given by Professor
Huefer in his article _La fin de la Republique Napolitaine_,
published in Nos. 83-84 of _La Revue Historique de Paris_, and a
useful book is that published under the same title as Professor Villari's
essay, by F. Lemmi, Florence, 1898.

Mr. David Hannay, in his edition of Southey's _Life of Nelson_, is
conspicuous for his fairness in dealing with the Neapolitan episode,
while the chapter on Caracciolo, in J. Cordy Jeafferson's _Lady
Hamilton and Lord Nelson_, may be cited as an example of the kind of
writing that has too often misled the English reader as to the characters
and events of Naples in 1799.

In conclusion, some words of personal explanation may be added. As very
little is known of Emma Hamilton before 1782, this account of her life
begins in that year, and references to her early youth are given as
rumours or gossip only. It is most likely that there was much truth in
these tales--some such life as they indicate Amy Lyon must have led--but
the evidence for this part of her career is flimsy and contradictory and
many of the well-known anecdotes of her early life rest on very doubtful

For the same reason several often-repeated stories relating to Lady
Hamilton have been omitted from the later part of the book, but there is
sufficient authentic material available from which to construct a
portrait of this woman, remarkable in herself and extraordinary in her
life and adventures.

July, 1935.

* * * * *









INDEX [Not included in this ebook]

* * * * *





It has been said that Cupid writes his epistles on the leaves of a
ledger; at any rate this quarrel was about money.

The great difference between the lovers was that, whereas Sir Harry could
pay for at least some of his pleasures, Amy was penniless. So, when the
final quarrel came, the girl, who had only her personal charms, was
utterly defeated by the young man who had birth, a title, relations,
friends and property.

The easy-going rake, who knew the ways of his world, certainly expected
to have to pay in cash for five months of amorous felicity with t he
pretty creature who had such a lively tongue and such gay romping ways.
But the bills were too high and came in far too frequently. Five guineas
for coach hire! This was a piece of insolence not to be endured; and
there were the milliners, dressmakers, haberdashers, all clamorous for
their dues, and the house-keeping had reached t hose crazy figures which
are only possible when a fashionable young bachelor entertains boon
companions and ladies of the town.

Sir Harry protested sharply that he was ruined and that the fault lay
with his wild, giddy mistress. She retorted insolently with t he
assurance of the petted toy whose impertinent follies had always been

But Sir Harry was in no mood to laugh at her flounces and grimaces; with
the revulsion following infatuation he felt that the girl was not worth
what she was costing him; even if he could afford so extravagant a
companion, would it be worth while to empty his purse to pay the expenses
of a creature whose favours he must share with all his friends?

In his opinion Amy had behaved exactly like the flower of the gutter she
was, and to the gutter she might return.

He was, besides, tired of her, sick of the long debauch of which Up Park
had been the scene during the autumn and winter, jaded with the drink,
the gambling, the din of the disorderly women, the tipsy men, the
confusion arising from bad service, the nagging visits from duns, the
insolence of unpaid servants.

Amy played into his hands by losing her temper, by tossing her head and
answering him in the rustic Welsh accent of which he was tired; he
replied brutally, and they shouted, one at the other, amid the litter of
the fashionable room in the smart mansion which occupied a hollow of the
South Downs.

Bottles, decanters and glasses cumbered the sideboards, packs of fingered
cards piled the small tables, wheezing lap-dogs sat on soiled lace caps
and kerchiefs, flung over satin chairs; dirty clay pipes,
tobacco-pouches, snuff-boxes, crowded the coquettish ornaments on the
mantel shelf; there were fowling-pieces in one corner, whips in another,
a basket of pups under the desk, a gross dog, smelling of the stable,
before the log fire--and everywhere a confusion of unpaid bills--_un
odor di femina_.

Amy, in stiff silks overtrimmed and gaudy, with stale powder dotted in
her heavy hair, holes in her stockings and kicked-out shoes, with
unpaid-for lace across her bosom, and a black velvet patch to show off a
complexion not well cared for, held her own with coarse words, with
violent gestures, maintaining her right as a young, seductive female, to
spend what she pleased, to do as she pleased.

"Not at my expense," was the burden of Sir Harry's reply, as he lounged
sulkily beneath pictures discreetly curtained even in that establishment,
against the case of books the indecencies of which had long been staled
by thumbings over.

The baronet's polished exterior had once seemed very attractive to Amy;
he had all the easy airs of his class and could be elegant when with
ladies, but he took a gentleman's privilege and was crude enough with
females who lived--as the term went--under his protection. When Amy, in a
passion at his refusal to submit to her tantrums, screamed out that she
would fling out of his house--he said that she not only might, but must,

She could be packed off more easily than could a maidservant as she was
without the written law. The right of appeal to the unwritten law she
had, in her lover's opinion, forfeited, when, in return for her keep and
her amusements, she had not given even a brief fidelity.

With such a mood on either side the scene could have but one ending; the
pretty young girl tossed out of the dishevelled mansion which had been,
for nearly half a year, a slut's paradise, and her whilom lover warned
her not to return. In the brutal phrase of the time, she was turned out
of keeping.

Sir Harry Featherstonehaugh saw her departure with relief. She was noisy,
she was common, she was expensive, she was losing her figure and he was
weary of her bright, pretty face, her cheerful ignorance, and the quick
insolence with which she picked up the vices and the airs that belonged
properly to gentlefolk.

* * * * *

Amy's temper soon cooled when she found herself shut out of Up Park; she
was good-humoured and had meant no harm by the outburst of rage that had
cost her so dear. Once the gates of that dishevelled mansion were closed
on her, she realized that she had forfeited an existence perfectly
agreeable to her tastes.

What could have been pleasanter than that slipshod life where dozens of
wax-candles guttered over the baize cloth, where guineas glittered and
cards were piled in the evening, where satin curtains kept out the
daylight in the morning while a lazy girl lay cosy in cambric and down! A
life where there were gentlemen to kiss, to jest with, to banter and
flatter; raised pies and spiced jellies to eat, champagne and fine red
wine to drink! A life where, at the cost of a few tears, a few caresses,
a pout, a jest, a girl might have shawls, gauzes, feathers and frocks.
Yes, a poor girl who knew all about poverty and hard work, who had been a
servant on a Welsh farm, who had toiled in a London basement, might, at
Up Park, enjoy all that ever gilded a kitchen-maid's dreams, just in
return for being pleasant to the gentlemen. Amy began to see that she had
been very wrong; she was quite ashamed of herself as she trudged to the
turn in the bleak road where she must meet and stop the London coach.

It was the dead time of year, when English scenery is veiled and
forbidding, when English towns are grey and chill, when a poor girl wants
to be cherished indoors, in a warm bed, close to a roaring fire, with
good food, glasses of wine, songs and games in the evenings and
milliners' boxes in the mornings.

No doubt there were other gallants besides Sir Harry, who would offer
consolation to Amy Lyon, but there was a good reason why she should not
engage in active adventure; for a few months at least she needed shelter
and a quiet life.

She possessed only the clothes she stood up in and a few pounds, won at
cards the night before, in her pocket; she thought of her mother, the
comfortable widow, discreet and obliging, who was always able to earn her
keep, if not much beside, with her excellent cooking; but Amy did not
want to appeal to Mrs. Lyon, who had only a servant's wages to dispose of
and could do nothing; besides had not the good mother given her some
hints on how to handle gentlemen? How disappointed she would be to hear
of her daughter's mistake! Amy was very fond of her mother and did not
want her to know the failure she had made of her splendid chance at Up
Park. One other resource remained to the distracted damsel, the old
grandmother who, in her mud-and-wattle cottage set in the dull street of
the Flintshire village, had once before proved a friend to a girl in

Amy was already, at nineteen years of age, used to ups and downs, and had
developed the simple philosophy of enjoying the former to the full and
making the best of the latter. So she paid out her remaining stock of
money for coach fare to Hawarden, where Dame Kidd looked after a dark
little girl whose origin was a matter for gossip among the neighbours.

* * * * *

Amy knew and detested that Welsh village; she had been born at Neston in
Cheshire and when she was three years old her mother, widow of Henry
Lyon, blacksmith, had come to Hawarden to share the poverty of Dame
Kidd's white-washed cottage, where the continuous mists from the gaunt
moorlands soaked the thatch and stained the plaster, and the frequent
rains spluttered on the one fire and slashed at the dirty panes of the
windows shadowed by the eaves.

To this miserable refuge the downcast girl returned because there was
nowhere else to go and her grandmother knew it; they kissed and cried
together; there was no need to ask for explanations, the case was
obvious. Amy Lyon sat down in her draggled silks and wondered what she
should do, while the dark-eyed toddling child in the red shawls eyed her

Dame Kidd regretted the fallen fortunes of her pretty grandchild who did
not seem to know how to make the most of her opportunities, but she
uttered no reproaches; the three women had lived together good-humouredly
in the lazy squalor of a Welsh peasant's life until Mrs. Lyon had gone to
London to better herself, and Amy had followed soon after, seeking the
fabled glories of the capital with the high heart of ignorant youth.

And here she was, returned for the second time without a penny in her
soiled pockets and with tears in her handsome eyes. What was to be done?

The old woman and the girl faced one another in some dismay in the
flicker of the scanty, cherished fire.

Amy could not be considered to have made a wise investment of her charms;
on her previous visit to Flintshire she had borne the swarthy child who
now clung to her silk skirts and clutched at her fingers. She was evasive
about the father of this uninteresting infant. Dame Kidd understood that
he had been a sailor on a pressgang ship at the Tower Wharf in London,
the captain, Amy had hinted--but what did it matter? He had sailed away
without leaving Amy a farthing and was quite outside the present
calculations, which centred round the fact that in two months' time Amy
would again be the mother of an unwanted child; nor was the delicate
question of the paternity of the coming infant likely to be settled to
the satisfaction of Amy, who, with tears, regrets, and a few outbursts
against her ill luck, confessed to Dame Kidd that she had been so very
wild and giddy at Up Park, had so romped and gambolled, been so anxious
to please all the gentlemen that it was useless to expect any one of them
to assume the responsibility for her trouble.

* * * * *

The poor cottage, the long, narrow, village street, with the squalid inn,
the forge, the tiny post office, the wide moors beyond, the scattered
farms, the straggling flocks of fat-tailed, silly-faced sheep, all
blurred and sodden in the wet grey winter weather, depressed Amy's
spirits to a melancholy most unusual to her cheerful temperament; she
felt as desperate as if she had been thrown into a lazar-house or Cold
Bath Fields Prison. She wept for all she had so suddenly left, the
warmth, the food, the drink, the games and caresses, the lazy ease of
hours spent before a mirror, lolling on a sofa or flinging cards on the
table where the _rouleaux_ of guineas were piled.

Dame Kidd had no consolation to offer; she knew that Amy's plight was a
common case. In the better farms hung series of cheap prints that told a
story with a moral. One of these might have been Amy's story--at least in
the first stages. There was a harsh title to these pictures, the first of
which showed the fresh, smiling country-girl descending from the coach
that had arrived in London from the provinces, looking about her on the
bustle of London, all agog for fun and soft living and a fine young man
to praise her and pay her bills. Even so had Amy at sixteen years of age
tripped for the first time through the dubious London streets, nosing
after pleasure.

Very quickly, both in Amy's case, and in that of the pictured belle, was
the rich protector found--such fresh charms are easily marketed. There,
in the print, she might be seen behaving as Amy had behaved at Up Park,
fashionably dressed, pampered, petulant, kicking over the tea-table in a
tantrum under her lover's nose.

If Amy were not very careful, she might fulfil the destiny so graphically
depicted in the first episodes of this savage warning to jolly
country-girls eager for town delights, she too might come to beat hemp in
Bridewell, to lie in a pauper's coffin with "_anno vicesimo tertio
aetatis suae_" on the cheap lid.

The way of virtue was not only closed to her but exceedingly distasteful;
she knew what it was to be a nursemaid in a Welsh farm, in the house of a
fashionable London doctor, in decent establishments, where mistresses
were careful of their maids' reputation; it would be quite impossible for
her to return to so odious an existence--a scrubbing-brush would be no
more incongruous in the hands of a nymph of Paphos than a serving-wench's
cap on the well-set head of Amy Lyon.

Nor did it seem as if she would be welcomed back to the path of
discretion and peace; Dame Kidd's neighbours looked askance at the
returned prodigal; the girls who in homespun shawls had once herded sheep
with her on the moors, sneered at the town finery that had so soon become
soiled, that looked so foolish in the wattled cottage; married women who
kept their own daughters respectable, wanted to know who was the teasing
baby who ran after Dame Kidd and who was sometimes kissed and sometimes
slapped by the despondent Amy.

Only one thing seemed possible in such a plight, an appeal to the late
protector, who might surely be won round from his ill-humour by cajolery,
by entreaties, as he had been won before.

Amy had learned, when in London, to read a little, to spell a little, and
she sat down in despair and wrote to Sir Harry Featherstonehaugh seven
letters, one after another; the gossips lounging at the village post
office grinned when they read the superscription and sniggered as the
days went by without a reply. In the seven unanswered letters was all her

* * * * *

Amy Lyon had learned some other things besides how to misspell a
love-letter; she had gathered a miscellaneous knowledge of the ways of
the world from the city streets, and at Up Park she had found she had a
good seat in the saddle, a quick hand with the cards, a ready tongue to
answer impudent gentlemen in their cups and the insolence to order
servants about as she had once been ordered. There she had learned to
like champagne, dainty food, silk next to her skin and luxurious beds, to
replace the slang of the kitchen by the slang of the aristocrat, the
jargon of the tavern by the jargon of the stable, and the gambling-room;
she had learned the intimate details of the private lives of English
gentlemen taking their ease. There, too, she had learned that these same
gentlemen, however spendthrift and gay they might be, however reckless
with their bets, their stakes, however extravagant in self-indulgence,
yet objected strangely when the bills came in and were not prepared to
ruin their fortunes for the sake even of the prettiest and most harming

Amy, in the gloom of the Hawarden cottage, where a farthing dip was the
only light in the winter evenings, and a child and an old woman her sole
company, bitterly repented of her mistake. The seven letters were full of
humility, of pleas for pardon, of promises for the future; never, oh!
never, would she be wild and giddy again, never do anything so outrageous
as run up a bill of five guineas for carriage hire. But the letters
remained unanswered and Amy thought of one of the other gentlemen who had
shared those pleasant parties at Up Park--one a little stiff and
proud--who had never been really jolly nor roaring drunk, nor had joined
in the most reckless amusements, but who had, nevertheless, shown himself
susceptible to her enticements, her whims and ways.

She considered him more than a little formidable with his cold face and
precise air and his hint of a sneer at the coarse frivolity of his
friends, but for these very reasons she respected him--besides she knew
that he had his yielding moments--if only he would deign to remember now
how she had sometimes, when Sir Harry's luck was turned, known how to
please him when he was a guest at Up Park. He had given her a franked
envelope addressed to himself; there was hope in that. In her distress,
struggling with poor scholarship, she wrote a letter, put it in the
envelope addressed to the Hon. Charles Greville at Portman Square,
London. It was answered with non-committal kindness and Amy wrote again
in the last days of the year. She signed this frantic appeal with the
romantic version of Amy which she had picked up in her adventures--Emily,
the favourite name of circulating-library heroines, and Hart, a tender
allusion to the warm emotions she felt and aroused.

This letter was undated, but endorsed with:

"Recd. Jan. 10, '82."

"My Dear Grevell,

"Yesterday did I receive your kind letter. It put me in some spirits;
for, believe me, I am allmost distrackted. I have never hard from Sir H.,
and he is not, I am sure. What shall I dow? Good God! What shall
I dow? I have wrote 7 letters, and no answer. I can't come to town caus I
(am) out of money. I have not a farthing to bless my self with, and I
think my friends looks cooly on me. I think so. O Grevell, what shall I
dow? what shall I dow? O how your letter affected me, when you wished me
happiness. O G, that I was in your posesion as I was in Sr H--what a
happy girl would I have been!--girl indeed! what else am I but a girl in
distres--in reall distres? For God's sake, (Grevell) write the minet you
get this, and only tell me what I am to dow...I am allmos mad. O, for
God's sake, tell me what is to become on me. O dear Grevell, write to me.
Grevell adue, and believe (me) yours for ever--Emly Hart.

"Don't tell my mother what distress I am in, and dow aford me some

* * * * *

Mr. Charles Greville was gratified to receive this letter; he had not
forgotten Emily Hart; he had often congratulated himself on the knowledge
and cleverness that had, on so many occasions, enabled him to secure a
treasure cheaply. He was used to bargaining for his pleasures, for he was
a poor man of elegant tastes, a collector of _objets d'art_, a
Maecaenas with a flat purse.

It had amused him to notice Sir Harry's blunder about Amy Lyon; the
stupid young baronet had picked her up and turned her off, just as if she
had been a mere good-for-nothing off the streets, and Mr. Greville knew
that she was a great deal more than that. Sir Harry and the crew at Up
Park had thought Amy merely pretty--like any other girl who could be had
for the asking. And so perhaps she was in the silly finery that she did
not know how to wear, with her hair stuck with pomade, rouge and white on
her face, her rustic accent and loud voice; but Mr. Greville was an
expert, he could detect a masterpiece even under a smear of thick
disfiguring varnish, he could recognize the gem even before it was cut
and polished.

He laughed in his sleeve at Sir Harry and answered the letter of the girl
in distress, not, however, impetuously, nor with the least touch of
impudence, nor with any disloyalty to his sex or his class. Amy had
behaved badly, even though he had received some benefit from her
naughtiness, and must be scolded. Sir Harry had been injured in a way he
could not be expected to overlook--infidelity and extravagance, insolence
and ingratitude! Amy had much to learn and Mr. Greville was quite willing
to teach her; he believed she would be docile; he smiled over the
sentence: "O. G. that I was in your posesion as I was in Sr. H. what a
happy girl would I have been."

Well, he was willing to see what he could make of Amy Lyon, but there
must be reform, a proper bargain; he loathed establishments like those of
Up Park and liked every penny of his income accounted for; he wrote to
Amy in a tone of gentle reprimand; nothing must be expected from Sir
Harry, least of all an acknowledgment of the unlucky child--but, if she
were patient, penitent and promised good behaviour for the future, he,
Charles Greville, would generously assist a naughty girl in distress.

Amy accepted the gracious offer with passionate gratitude--she would have
accepted something much less inviting in order to escape from the
monotony, the poverty, the hostility of Hawarden; her spirits soared at
the prospect of London again; she was ready to promise anything.

Two months after her hasty retreat to Dame Kidd's cottage, Amy's second
child was born without drawing breath; no one had wanted it to live,
least of all the mother who found her little girl a sufficiently
difficult problem; but Greville was equal to that difficulty--let the
child remain with Dame Kidd, who should receive a small allowance for her

* * * * *

Charles Greville was the second son of the Earl of Warwick; his party
being in power, a small post had been found for him in the Foreign
Office. It was not quite good enough for a second son of an earl, who was
always on the look out for a plump sinecure--since it was a mere £500 a
year; but better things might be looked for; if Mr. Greville's Government
friends were not able to find him something more worthy of his merits, he
had two pleasant prospects; his uncle Sir William Hamilton, a rich and
childless widower, had taken him under his wing and had half promised to
make him his heir. Then, whenever he chose, Mr. Greville, elegant,
personable, well connected, could follow this same uncle's example and
marry a woman with a comfortable income.

In the meanwhile he arranged his life with fastidious selfishness, so as
to obtain the utmost satisfaction for himself out of his means and
opportunities. He had remarked Amy Lyon among the disorders of Up Park
and had had the curiosity to acquaint himself with her circumstances, but
he did not know much of how she had spent the time since she had come to
London; rumour credited her with many adventures and Mr. Greville was
surprised that she could have found time for such varied experiences; she
seemed so young. He wrote to her for a copy of the entry of the record of
her birth, and received that of her baptism.

"Amy, daughter of Henry Lyon, blacksmith, of Neston, by Mary his wife, May
12th, 1765."

There were two crosses, one for the father, one for the mother. Flow old
had Amy been when she was baptized? Mr. Greville did not pursue his
enquiries further--it was sufficient that Amy was very young--say,
nineteen years old.

Nor was he much interested in learning of her adventures; she had been a
nursemaid with a Mrs. Thomas in Hawarden, a servant in the employ of the
fashionable and successful Dr. Budd, of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, in
the well-kept establishment his wife ran in Blackfriars--what then?

Employment in a tavern, in a shop, a brief sojourn with a lady of the
half-world, adorning a shoddy _salon_, an even briefer episode as
the companion of a sailor on leave, a mother at seventeen or less, an
exhibit in the Temple of Hymen run by Dr. Graham in the Adelphi and

Mr. Greville was not sure if the lovely Vestina, standing in a glass case
feeding a serpent from a cup, had really been Amy Lyon; was she the fair
female who had advertised the properties of the beautifying mudbath, by
sitting in it up to her shoulders, her smiling face surrounded by a
structure of powdered curls, braids of false pearls, rose feathers and
velvet flowers?

Had the Welsh servant-girl played Hebe Vestina in this dubious temple
where the virtues of the Electrical Throne and the Celestial Bed were
demonstrated--in the words of the charlatan's advertisement--to the
"_Amateurs des délices exquises de Venus_"? If she had assisted at
these catch-penny shows where quackery and science were impudently
mingled, it was odd that she had not secured a more useful admirer than
the commonplace Sussex baronet from the crowd of leering spectators.

Mr. Greville did not trouble to investigate further his charmer's
past--it was her future that was to be his concern. With a delibration
that was almost solemn Amy Lyon was installed in Edgeware Row, there to
live under the protection of the Hon. Charles Greville--upon terms which
he sternly dictated and she humbly accepted.

There was to be no more wildness and giddiness, no more tempers and
whims, above all, no extravagance. Amy must forget her common ways, her
coarse language, she must lower her voice, restrain her gestures, drop
any vulgar acquaintances who might claim her from the past, she must be
very careful, very quiet, faithful and docile.

Amy promised everything; she was anxious to put herself in the hands of
this kind master; she arrived from Hawarden rosy with retrieved health
and brilliant with good resolutions.

The austere country life, the pure moorland air had renewed the charms
that had been slightly tarnished in the close atmosphere of Up Park; far
from modish shops Amy had not been able to purchase tinsel or patches,
gewgaws or pomade; the finery for which Sir Harry had paid, had been
shorn of tattered trimmings and turned about into a neat, plain garment;
Mr. Greville was pleased with his blooming prize when she stood modestly
before him in the neat house off Paddington Green.

This was no little bounding rustic agape for crude adventure, but rather
a tender dryad fresh from the woodlands; she had an air of candour that
Mr. Greville found as gratifying as astonishing--with a little more
training she might be made to appear positively virginal. Mr. Greville,
most suave of dilettantes, looked Amy up and down through his quizzing

The expert was pleased with his purchase, lucky as he was, never had he
made such a good bargain.

* * * * *

It was decided that Amy Lyon should be forgotten and that Emma Hart
should take her place--a new name for a new part and a blotting out of a
past that it might not be convenient to recall. Emma, then, to Mr.
Greville, and Miss Hart to whatever world there might be for the mistress
of an aristocratic civil servant to move in.

Alexander Pope wrote--"out of a handmaiden we must make a Helen" and
Charles Greville set himself zealously to make a Beauty out of a pretty
Welsh peasant somewhat blown upon by town airs.

First, he set his house in order; he could not afford a mistress and a
housekeeper, and Amy was impossible for the latter role, so, by a stroke
of careful art, Mr. Greville added Mary Lyon to the establishment, a
trained manager of genteel households, an excellent cook, a duenna whose
personal interest would be in guarding her charge, a factotum who would
be economical and grateful.

She came eagerly, humble and thankful, dropping her curtsey, promising
obedience to Mr. Greville, a strict watch over Amy, a stern eye to the
pence; since there must be no connection with any little errors that
might be associated with the name of Lyon, Amy's facile parent was
re-named Mrs. Cadogan; two maidservants were engaged, one at nine pounds,
and one at eight pounds a year, and the elegant _faux ménage_ was

* * * * *

Mr. Greville moved from Portman Square and rented a modest brick house,
which stood in Paddington near the spot where the rich outlines of the
baroque church showed attractively incongruous on the prim sweep of the
village-green; it had a neat secluded garden, looked on trees back and
front; the neighbours were quiet, genteel, and not too close, the
tradesmen conveniently at hand and obsequious, as befitted those who
served an Earl's son who paid cash--at least for his smaller needs.

The interior of the house was well kept and contained some treasures, the
result of Mr. Greville's fine taste and careful buying. The panelled
walls were dark and the furniture had a masculine severity, walnut and
mahogany without cushions or fripperies, but in the parlour was a
Correggio where the tones of the hyacinth and the violet, the May rose
and the Italian skies melted on the canvas in voluptuous harmony. This
was balanced by a modern masterpiece that Mr. Greville had obtained
cheaply, a work by Sir Joshua Reynolds, the President of the Royal
Academy, of which a story was told to set the gossips sniggering.

Emily Bertie had engaged the fashionable artist, whose prices had lately
risen, to paint her portrait, had paid half the fee--seventy-eight
guineas--in advance and given Sir Joshua several sittings when some
crisis in her domestic affairs caused the lady to change her plans
abruptly, and her portrait remained unfinished in the studio. Such was
too often the end of the paintings of frail beauties, who lost their
protectors before their features could be completely transferred to
canvas. Sir Joshua, irritated by the unfinished bargain, and by hearing
that Miss Bertie was sitting for George Romney, had completed the picture
and sent it to the Royal Academy under the unkind title of _Thais
Setting Light to the Temple of Chastity at Persepolis_. This direct
allusion to Miss Bertie's profession amused the critics, but was
considered a piece of unnecessary spite on the part of a rich man towards
a fine girl who had paid him nearly a hundred guineas for which she had
had no return.

Mr. Greville had enjoyed the scandal, admired the picture, asked Sir
Joshua to retouch it here and there, according to his own ideals of
beauty and had bought it cheaply.

Besides the Correggio and the Reynolds there were other treasures for
Emma to admire, a cabinet of coins and medals, where the flattened,
polished profiles of Kings, Queens, Popes and worthies gleamed in gold
and silver from their padded drawers, a case of sparkling mineral
specimens, that Mr. Greville valued very highly, some spoils from the
vineyards of Tuscany in the shape of urns and vases, some curios from the
sulphurous earth of Sicily and the lava of Vesuvius. Emma was not
impressed when Mr. Greville tried to refine and widen her mind by showing
her the lovely curve of an Etruscan vase, the delicate modelling of a
royal medallion, or the manner in which Sir Joshua had handled his flesh
tints, but when he told her that she herself might become a work of art,
she began to be extremely interested, her vanity, hitherto that of any
pretty wench, took a higher turn, and she saw herself, through Mr.
Greville's eyes, as a potential beauty.

With gratifying intelligence she grasped the ideal he set before her, and
what she must do to achieve it; her behaviour became exemplary, she
watched Charles Greville with the pathetic keenness of the dancing-dog
balancing on a pole and eyeing the master who has the sugar and the
stick. All that Mr. Greville said was law to Emma; her quick docility
gave him much pleasure and he was patient at his task, though he did not
forgo long lectures, which Emma only half understood, on propriety,
decorum, genteel behaviour, good taste, what was and what was not done in
polished circles and by the mistresses of well-bred men.

Emma was taught to disdain finery; no tawdry ornaments, cheap showy
dresses, no fard, patches, curls stretched over pads or frames, no beads
nor posies; Mr. Greville chose her dresses himself, found her a
dressmaker and did not allow her a single flower for her bosom or hair.
He engaged masters to teach her singing, playing on the harpsichord,
deportment and dancing; he encouraged her to read refined and moral
books, he taught her how a gentlewoman entered a room, how she poured out
tea, how she listened to the conversation of gentlemen. There were no
more rich dishes nor glasses of champagne, Emma might have one half-pint
of beer daily, and that was all; she must take frequent exercise, go to
bed early, rise early, she must, above all, learn to consider money with
respect, to lay out every farthing to the best advantage. Mrs. Cadogan
helped her there with the anxiety of a woman who knew that her livelihood
depended on her zeal, neither mother nor daughter ever forgot that they
might be turned off at a moment's notice; Mrs. Cadogan had only to think
of the kitchen basements from which she had been rescued, and Emma of
that odious cottage at Hawarden, for them to redouble their efforts to
please kind Mr. Greville.

No marriage could have been quite so dull in its setting; Emma saw no one
outside the house beyond the tradespeople, the milliner and the
dressmaker; when she went for her dutiful walks, either her mother or her
lover accompanied her, when she was at home she must read an improving
book or study her music, or listen to Charles Greville's discourses on
manners and refinement, or admire the treasures of virtu that she did not

Further, she had to keep her accounts very carefully indeed; she had an
allowance of £20 a year, for her mother and herself and every item of
expenditure had to be noted down; she did this dutifully, "a mangle 5d.,
poor man ½d., cotton and needles 9d., apples 2d."

This was all a vast change from life at Up Park, from anything that life
had meant to her before; but she was not dull; she had two objects with
which to fill her days, Charles Greville, the god of her little secluded
universe, and the pursuit of beauty.

Her mirror assured her that she had improved under her lover's handling;
her teachers assured her that she might be not only a beauty, but an
accomplished beauty; she had a strong voice, sweet and powerful, she sang
with an emotional stress on moods and melody that disguised the
deficiency of her ear, her fingers learned to trip over the keys as
quickly as they learned to move among the tea equipage of egg-shell
china, beaten silver and lacquered caddy. She could strike an attitude
with rather more than the usual zest and grace of the servant girl
portraying a romantic heroine in a cracked mirror. Mr. Greville noticed
her poses and quietly encouraged her; he bought her a plain robe, made
her knot up her hair and asked her to stand in the position of one of the
figurines on the orange-ochre antique vases. He was astonished at the
ease and elegance with which she assumed the classic pose; he began to
think that Emma Hart was even a greater bargain than he had at first
supposed; surely no man had ever achieved material comfort and ecstatic
delight, gratification of body and mind, at a cheaper rate. Mrs.
Cadogan's exquisite little dinners were as perfect in their way as Emma's
caresses--and the whole establishment including the fees of the teachers
of accomplishments, cost no more than £300 a year.

* * * * *

Emma was touchingly happy in the charming little house, she was fonder of
Charles Greville than she had been of Sir Harry, he was so much kinder,
such a superior being to the sporting baronet with his low tastes; she
believed her master to be vastly superior to herself, and she thought all
his priggish airs and cold moralizings proofs of his wisdom and goodness.
She learned from him to talk of Virtue--she did not know quite what this
wonderful quality was, but she was sure that Charles Greville had it in

She had neither opportunity nor temptation to be unfaithful to her lover,
but she did not wish to be; he was young, personable, flattered while he
taught, caressed while he admonished, and raised her self-esteem. He had,
also, with his aristocratic good looks, his charming manners, his
fastidious habits captured her senses, she was as much in love with him
as her nature would permit, more in love with him than his nature could

* * * * *

By midsummer Mr. Greville had given his Emma, rescued from the
scrap-heap, at least a superficial polish, and he wished to have his good
taste and his labour applauded; he was in every thing a man of his world
and he followed the fashionable course of taking his mistress to the
studio of a popular painter in order that her charms might be
immortalized in some modish guise.

So Emma, one blowing blue day, tripped along gaily to No. 32, Cavendish
Square, where the formidable-looking mansions surrounded the plot of
grass and gravel where coaches and link men waited and loungers gossiped
by the pavement posts; Mr. Greville accompanied her and preceded her up
the wide stair to the studio that had for long been the scene of the
successful career of Francis Cotes, the charming portraitist and had for
eight years been the workshop of George Romney.

Emma was carefully dressed, according to Mr. Greville's direction, in a
long plain gown of white cambric, fastened under the bosom with a wide
blue ribbon, with a low bodice and short sleeves; the line of the
shoulders and bust was broken only by a light scarf, the girl's hair hung
in ringlets round her neck and a wide Leghorn straw-hat, with a low crown
shaded her face.

The painter was instantly and for ever enthralled by what nature and
Charles Greville had made of Amy Lyon, who, under the pretty name of Emma
Hart stood meekly in the large studio at Cavendish Square.

George Romney was a melancholy man gnawed by the bitter dissatisfaction
of the artist who had given up everything for art and did not find it
sufficient to fill his life. When Emma was brought into his presence by
her complacent protector, the painter was forty-eight years of age, dark,
stooping, with blunt features, and a manner shy to uncouthness.

His birth was little higher than that of the blacksmith's daughter; both
were close to the English peasantry; they came, on the male side, from
the same part of the country; George Romney's father had been a small
statesman of Walton-in-Furness, Lancashire, who worked at cabinet-making
and knew something of architecture; the painter's childhood had been
passed in the North, his youth in severe study of his chosen art. He felt
keenly that his lack of education, his limited social opportunities had
handicapped him as both man and artist; he had married early in life a
faithful woman who had borne him two children, and whom he had left
behind in the North when he started out to seek his fortune in the city;
that had been twenty years ago and it was fifteen years since he had
revisited Mary Romney, who remained silent, with an odd patience, in the
Cumberland farm that seemed so far from London.

George Romney had been successful; even when working in competition with
the fashionable, genial and magnificent Sir Joshua Reynolds, he had
earned enough by his portraits to enable him to travel in Italy, where he
had studied his art with exhausting concentration.

The patronage of the Duke of Richmond and of Charles Greville's brother,
the Earl of Warwick, had enabled him, on his return to London, to set up
in the studio of Francis Cotes, and to become, with great rapidity, one
of the most sought-after portraitists of the day. His life remained
gloomy; apart from a few friends such as William Hayley, who flattered,
pestered and bored him, and Richard Cumberland, who admired and
encouraged him, he had no intimates, and he avoided acquaintances,
diversions and distractions with a nervous dislike of his fellow-men and
a gloomy mistrust of himself that were fast developing into hypochondria.
He had toiled for years at the development of his art with a passionate,
impatient industry that had brought about the achievement of a perfect,
if limited technique.

Enraptured by the genius of Raphael and Titian, he remained for ever
dissatisfied with his own efforts, and the studio, where Emma entered
like a goddess, was littered by portfolios bulging with unfinished
sketches, jottings for pictures never begun, while the walls were
encumbered with incomplete canvases; some laid aside because a sitter had
failed or a model not been procurable, some abandoned in mere impatience
while the painter made another effort with equally short-lived

He made more than a handsome income by his portraits, but the money
brought him little pleasure; he was open-handed and had generously
supported a talented wastrel of a brother until death had relieved him of
that burden, and it concerned him little whether his portraits were paid
for promptly or indeed paid for at all; and his prices never rose to more
than half the fees demanded by Sir Joshua Reynolds, President of the
Royal Academy, from which George Romney stood nervously aloof.

When Charles Greville took Emma to the studio in Cavendish Square, he
brought much happiness to the painter and conferred a very great benefit
on posterity. The Grevilles had always admired and patronized Romney who,
in his Italian travels, had carried about with him a letter of
introduction to Sir William Hamilton, the British Minister at Naples,
written by Charles Greville but never presented by the painter, who did
not go so far south; the frigid dilettante had a genuine liking for the
uncouth artist with his gipsy blood, his gloomy face and his incomparable
talent for depicting the robust beauty of English women and children.

Greville, who always closely supervised Emma's wardrobe, had taught her
to dress in the style in which Romney painted his sitters, so that
everything about his patron's mistress enchanted the artist--the girl
herself and the taste with which she was set off.

George Romney fell in love with Emma, with all that Emma symbolized; he
had painted many fair and charming women, but so strong was his sense of
an ideal beauty that he had, perhaps, unconsciously, made these sitters
look much the same when he put them on canvas.

In the case of Emma there was no need of this infidelity to nature that
was fidelity to an inner vision, the girl was what all painters long to
find, the ideal woman in human flesh and blood.

When Emma stepped on the model's block and under the careful directions
of Charles Greville assumed her classic poses, Romney knew that he had
met the creature necessary for the fullest expression of his art; she
excited him as had Titian's canvases which he had seen in Venice, the
Raphael masterpiece he had copied in Rome; she was at once a stimulus, an
inspiration, a seal of his achievement--she would take his art as far as
it could go. And Emma, reading the plain, sad man's honest rapturous
delight in her charms as she posed in the becoming studio light, found
herself exalted, lifted out of herself, never more to be a pretty girl, a
naughty girl, a girl in distress, but for ever--a beauty.

* * * * *

Mr. Greville was well pleased with the success of his experiment; the
enthusiasm of George Romney confirmed his own judgment, rewarded his
labour, his expense; he was gratified to find himself the possessor of a
Thais in the flesh who far outshone the pictured charmer whom he had been
so proud to have on his walls.

Emma was more beautiful than Emily Bertie, more beautiful than any woman
in town. Romney proclaimed this truth in canvas after canvas, in hundreds
of sketches and drawings.

For the first time in his sombre, lop-sided life the painter was happy,
for the first time in a vagrant existence the model felt
self-justification, self-respect; they combined to produce works of art
that were, within definite limits, flawless.

Emma embodied Romney's faults as well as his merits; she was well within
his powers of achievement; she had no charm that it was not within his
perception to seize on and within his skill to reproduce. He was lucky to
find a model that not only inspired but flattered his art, and she was
lucky to find a painter who could celebrate her beauty with complete
acquiescence in its perfection.

Emma Hart, as set out by Charles Greville and painted by George Romney,
was, perhaps, as completely beautiful as any woman who has ever filled a
painter's imagination, and it was a beauty for every eye. She was not the
woodland lily visited by moonlight loveliness of Simonetta Vespucci,
celebrated by Sandro Botticelli, that some people might have found
fantastic and wan, nor the high-bred grace of the Lombard ladies with the
smile of the Grecian Hermes that soothed, if it did not satisfy, the
yearnings of Leonardo da Vinci.

Emma's charms neither raised nor solved any problem; she was neither
wistful, tormented, nor aspiring, her fine features did not hint at any
world of the spirit or at any whimsy of dreams. There was nothing of an
enigma in her smooth contours, no question in her eyes, no puzzle on her
lips, no subtlety in anything she did or was. Therefore she was
completely within the range of George Romney, who had his yearnings after
poetry and fancy, after "subject" pictures and illustrations of
Shakespeare and Milton, but who never was completely successful save when
dealing with the obvious graces of wholesome human nature.

Emma was the type to which he had already made some of his sitters
conform; an oval face, small features in exact proportion, large dark
eyes under sweeping brows, a fully curved mouth, a warm complexion richly
flushed with rose, a profusion of red-brown hair, falling in heavy
tresses. To these rare beauties Emma added a tall, finely shaped figure
with a generously rounded bust and shoulders and swift, lovely movements.

Her defects were slight; extremely young as she was, she had more the
solidity of a statue than the fragility of a flower; she was large-boned
and her feet were clumsy; the face was slightly too broad, the neck
slightly too long.

George Romney presented her under many names but with the fewest possible
accessories, a classic robe, a muslin frock, or chemise, a sash, a
Leghorn hat, a scrap of cambric to embroider, a spinning-wheel by which
to sit; he painted her direct from life, taking three or four sittings of
an hour or so each and finishing robes, hands and details from a
professional model. He never allowed his work to be touched by pupils,
and worked with great rapidity, often leaving one portrait unfinished, in
his haste to begin the next. In these beloved studies his painfully
acquired technique was never pushed beyond its limits; in painting Emma
he was always well within the bounds of what he could do, not only
easily, but almost unconsciously.

* * * * *

Mr. Greville was highly pleased that his mistress should be painted by so
admirable and fashionable an artist, and disdained any jealousy of George
Romney's open infatuation for the Emma who was partly his own creation.
Her lover often accompanied her to Cavendish Square, and helped to swathe
the gauze round her face, to dispose the ribbons round her waist, to tilt
the broad-brimmed hat over her face; often he advised this pose or that,
until Emma, under his guidance and that of the painter, could herself
take a pose to admiration, simulating by the position of her limbs, the
turn of her head, characters she never understood, emotions she was never
to experience. When Mr. Greville was occupied with his affairs or wished
for the company of his social equals, Mrs. Cadogan played the duenna and
accompanied her daughter, who had suddenly become so important and so
precious, from Paddington to Cavendish Square; it was all very decorous,
the neat civil servant liked his Thais to have the outward gloss of an
English gentlewoman; there was no touch of Sal Brazen or Moll Tawdry
about Emma now.

Yet, for all that, the gossips had their say; the painter was obviously
in love, the profession of the model was to be pleased with those whom
she pleased--by this alone she lived, and the mother who was the servant
in the establishment where her daughter was the kept woman could not be
supposed to be a very vigilant guardian of female fidelity or honour.

Romney, too, passed for a morose queer fellow, with a forsaken wife, whom
no one had seen, who led a secretive life, who was not a gentleman nor
bound by any social conventions, and who, well out of all ordinary
restrictions or obligations, might do as he pleased.

Nor need Mr. Greville, who was a gentleman and had his own code, trouble
himself if Emma's old giddy wildness flared up in the presence of this
new admirer, a man of her own class, of something of her own experience,
yet rich and famous. Think what you will, this is what the town thought,
and with no peculiar cynicism--that when Emma went from Mr. Greville's
house to that of George Romney, she went from one lover to another.

Why should she be more faithful to Mr. Greville than to any of her former
lovers, and why should George Romney resist the charms that had never
been resisted before? There might be reasons but they were not on the
surface and the question was one of little matter; what was important was
that a beauty had been created and endowed with as much immortality as
ever falls to the lot of mortals.

* * * * *

While Emma, who continued to behave herself to her master's liking, to
study music and water-colour drawing, to keep her accounts, and to lead
a very modest life in Edgeware Row, Romney painted her in at least
thirty completed canvases. To these he gave haphazard titles; classicism
was the fashion, and Emma's features were superbly classic, so Romney,
with a little smattering of knowledge, named the poses _Cassandra,
Bacchante, Diana, Euphrosyne, Alope_ or _Ariadne_. She was
_Sensibility_; she was painted as the _Spinstress_ and _The Seamstress_,
and knew how to imitate the modesty she had never known and the industry
she detested. She was painted as a _Wood-nymph_, as _Saint Cecilia_, as
_The Comic Muse_, as _Nature_, with a dog, with a goat, with a gazelle,
in the Welsh hat of her mother's country-women, and simply as Emma. This
last is the just title of all her portraits; the fancy labels make
little difference, it was always Emma, in one of her poses, whom Romney

Much was made of Emma's marvellous change of expression, which her
admirers so extolled, but neither Romney nor any other painter ever put
on canvas Emma's features distorted or transfigured by real emotion;
portrait after portrait shows the same smooth regular face undisturbed by
any feeling, the eyes sometimes open wide, sometimes cast down, the lips
sometimes parted, sometimes closed, now a look of gravity, now a smile,
but never anything but the most superficial change on the flawless
unlined countenance, which never showed either the dreadful grandeur of a
Cassandra, or the lofty exaltation of a Joan of Arc, but a certain
mildness, shallow loveliness that might pass for virginal candour.

Romney's technique was devoid of tricks; he made no dangerous
experiments, as did Sir Joshua, his downright style was suited to the
obvious beauty of his model, with clear steady sweeps of his facile
brush, with an expert curve of a limited palette, he placed on his canvas
the madders and umbers, the crimson lakes and siennas of his home-ground
paints and reproduced with them the firm, rosy flesh tints, the lustrous
blue-brown eyes, the auburn locks of Emma.

This method suited his talent, his highly finished work was inclined to
be hard, lacking in atmosphere and rather like a painting on porcelain;
but in these rapid studies there was breadth and freedom, and they
satisfy the eye even when they are unfinished.

In common with the portraitists of his day Romney painted his sitters in
a steady studio light that cast only a pale shadow on the face and with
imaginary backgrounds, like drop-cloths, that had no relation to the
subjects of the picture, but which were hastily roughed in to throw up
the figures to advantage. In his ardent studies of Emma, Romney kept to
the Titian-like colourings of which he was fond, solid, rich, a golden
cream, a rosy white in the carnation, fresh crimson lips, and hair
varying according to the scheme of the picture, but always warm in tone,
even too hot in the shadows.

Sometimes the Emma pictures were clumsy in finish, the face appearing
like a mask, the arms and hands boneless, the figure without structure,
the drapery wooden, but this body of work represented a definite
achievement in art, which must be credited to both painter and model.

Possibly the most beautiful of all these portraits of Emma is the
_Ariadne_, an exquisite, tender painting where the simple, downcast
girl in her plain English attire is as delicate as a rose-petal blown on
the canvas. Romney admired what he considered a natural beauty; he
disliked the great ladies of Francois Boucher, product of the dressmaker
and the dancing master, the grisettes and villagers of Greuze, product of
the theatre and the circulating-library novel, and he painted his Emma
without frippery or adornment.

Her loveliness was indeed natural, that of the moorland, not the Court,
the dairy, not the drawing-room, and even those who found it lacking in
breeding, subtlety or refinement had to admit that it owed nothing to the
cosmetic box, the hairdresser, the jeweller, or the costumier; Emma's
beauty shone most triumphantly in a gown cut like that of a servant-maid
with a yard of gauze for a scarf or a milkmaid's straw for a hat.

Romney, himself a peasant, saw no defect that needed softening in the
robust and lustrous Emma, when during four years she made his life happy
by posing to him, but it is possible that Charles Greville, looking at
her with the critical eye of familiarity, and the detached appraisal of
the expert, began to perceive the coarseness of the country-girl beneath
the glow of the Hebe, the vulgarity of the servant beneath the rich
outlines of the goddess; certain it is that after two years' possession
of this treasure, he began to scheme how he might be rid of her with full
advantage to himself.

* * * * *

Yet Mr. Greville believed that his Emma loved him; she had so dutifully
kept the promises she had made when he had rescued her from the squalor
of Hawarden; she had never even asked for anything more than the one or
two "creditable companions" he had been induced to allow her; she had
worked so hard at her music, her poses, her pencil, she had jotted down
so anxiously all her little items of expense. When she had had a little
rash on her elbows he had sent her to the seaside with her mother,
directing that her child was to accompany her; he thought that maternal
emotion might give another turn to her charms; if the child was pretty
what a subject for Romney! Emma and her offspring as _Motherhood_ or
_Venus and Cupid_!

Emma went dutifully and reluctantly from Paddington to Park-gate, trying
to amuse herself with little Emma as the child was named, but all the
while yearning to be home again with an impatience very gratifying to her

The distant coast was dull indeed after the cosy life in London; and the
contrast was the sharper as a new and delightful companion had lately
enlivened the neat establishment at Edgeware Row; one who amused and
flattered Emma and admired her with open, if respectful, rapture. Mr.
Greville's wealthy and famous uncle, Sir William Hamilton, was on leave
from his post at Naples and a frequent visitor at Paddington, he had been
very flattering to "the fair tea-maker" as Mr. Greville named his
mistress and she had found him delightfully kind and entertaining.

Sir William Hamilton's sister had been the late Countess of Warwick, Mr.
Greville's mother; Sir William was descended from two branches of the
noble and ancient family whose name he bore, but had not inherited any
great wealth. Pursuing fortune on the field of glory, he had served in
the Foot Guards under Prince Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, until delayed
promotion caused him to resign his commission in disgust. At the age of
twenty-eight, it seemed prudent to him to marry an heiress, though this
was, in his own words, "something against his inclination." A Miss Barlow
with a Welsh estate worth £5,000 a year was secured, and in 1782 this
lady put her husband under a further obligation by dying and leaving him
completely free; the only child of the marriage was dead and Sir William
at fifty-five (but looking, as he hoped, only forty) had nothing to
consider but his own pleasure, if indeed he had ever considered anything

Mr. Greville, who had for some years been tacitly regarded as his uncle's
heir, was disturbed by the persistent rumours that Sir William, with his
tidy little fortune, his elegant sinecure at Naples, his fine manners and
well-preserved charms, would soon contract a second marriage.

This growing anxiety was hidden under the cold serenity of the young man,
when he sent Emma off to cure the rash on her elbows in her native air
and doubtless absorbed him so much that he was not able to answer her
loving letters with the promptitude their devotion deserved, though the
post was something to blame for the delays that distracted Emma.

The truth was, that, despite his removal to Paddington from Portman
Square, despite Emma's care with the pence and Mrs. Cadogan's kitchen
economies, Mr. Charles Greville was in money difficulties. What was £500
a year to a collector of brie-à-brae, a man of fine taste, however
careful? And there was no sign that the long-promised Government sinecure
was coming his way. Marriage with an heiress was the obvious solution to
this difficulty, but nothing less than a fortune of £20,000 to £30,000
would do, and this was not so easily to be found.

Mr. Greville accompanied his uncle on visits to the great houses where
these gentlemen were welcome guests and confided to him his
situation--his inevitable debts, the inevitable crisis ahead--a state of
affairs by no means his own fault since he had lived so prudently,
indulging even his antiquarian tastes very cheaply.

With these same tastes Sir William had every sympathy; he was himself a
most distinguished virtuoso with a taste for the more sensational aspects
of science; he had ascended Vesuvius twenty-four times, visited Etna and
written a book on volcanoes and in 1767 he had presented to the British
Museum a collection of volcanic earths and minerals. Foster-brother of
George III and an intimate of the Royal Family, Sir William Hamilton had
used his influence with the Prince of Wales to obtain a pension of £100 a
year for a certain Father Antonio Piaggi; this he had increased by the
same amount from his own pocket and had employed the learned monk to work
on the Herculaneum papyri. Taking advantage of his comfortable income,
his fine taste, his position as British Minister at Naples, Sir William
had enriched his country with the Porticinari collection of Greek vases,
which he had purchased in 1766, added to, and sold at a handsome profit
for over £8,000 to the British Museum. He was at present engaged in
forming another collection of vases found in Sicilian tombs, which he
hoped to dispose of for a handsome sum to the King of Prussia.

Sir William possessed, not merely an eye for a bargain, but an eye for
beauty, grace and fitness, and he had added to his enthusiasm a careful
knowledge; his high position among the _cognoscenti_ of his day had
been recognized by an appreciative Government; the Star and Ribbon of the
Order of the Bath had brought him his title and the most fastidious of
learned English societies had been honoured to receive him as a member;
he was a Fellow of the Royal Society, of the Society of Antiquaries, and
a member of the _Dilettante_; a man of the world, well-bred,
tactful, amiable and used to making himself acceptable to the frivolous
and the ignorant. Sir William was nothing of a pedant, and had indeed
trained his monkey to quizz through a glass at a statue or a coin in
mockery of the dry antiquaries who wearied with their inelegant jargon.

Beauty was Sir William's idol, that beauty which, as Leonardo da Vinci
wrote, passes nature and becomes art; he received the most exquisite
pleasure from painting, sculpture, music, fine scenery, poetry and all
objects of _virtu_; in particular he was enamoured of the rich grace
and vivid colourings of the mural designs being brought to light as the
once gay city of Pompeii was excavated from the lava of centuries, and of
the voluptuous shapes and precise features of the statues being
discovered in distracting profusion on the sites of ancient cities and
patrician villas in Italy.

Sir William, who had already resided twenty years at Naples, was
Italianate to the core, and his antiquarian researches had produced in
him the same kind of renaissance as the discovery of classic treasures
had created in the refined minds of the fifteenth century; everything
with him, in order to be tolerated, must be antique, and he was as much
at home with the dancing-girls and nymphs of the Pompeian frescoes as
with the tight-laced, powdered ladies of his own world.

For the rest, he was a Sybarite, with no strong feelings, who had never
experienced a powerful emotion, _bon viveur_, an expert in
fastidious pleasures, alive to all the tricks and tones of an idle
aristocratic society, inoffensive, never meaning any harm, loyal to a
gentleman's indefinable code of honour, and perfectly satisfied with the
golden sinecure his embassy represented.

His modest ambitions had all been fulfilled; he was not vexed that he had
been passed over when important posts were being assigned to likely
diplomats, nor stung by the fact that, had his talents been brighter, or
his zeal more striking, he would not have been left so long at a Court
which was off the political map.

Indeed, the elegant Scotsman was only too happy to be left in his
brilliant backwater; he was credited with the saying: "My country is
anywhere that I am comfortable," and he had made himself comfortable, in
the highest sense of the word, at Naples.

In appearance he was tall, well made, with features like those of his
nephew, Charles Greville, neat and ordinary, but set off by powder,
curls, ribbons and smiles, to appear quite distinguished. His manners
were lively, racy with the gentlemen, arch with the ladies, and
flattering to everyone. He did not deceive himself when he glanced in his
mirror and thought that he appeared no more than in the prime of life. He
had always tried to balance self-indulgence with prudence whenever
prudence was not too galling; in his military youth, his elegant
debauchery had gone with a healthy devotion to athletics; he was a good
horseman, a graceful dancer, and when in Naples obtained exercise by
slaughtering animals in the great _battues_ in the royal parks.

In brief, Sir William Hamilton put up a very fine appearance indeed, was
a vast credit to his class, his country, his family, fulfilled strictly
all the obligations the world required of a fine gentleman, and was
everywhere admired.

But the brilliancy, both of appearance and of attainments, was only
superficial; behind that smooth façade of wit and taste, there was fast
setting in a rapid decay of a feeble character; behind that air of vigour
were many symptoms of encroaching ill-health. Sir William, who appeared
so jocund, so youthful at fifty-five, was in reality fast approaching
premature senility.

* * * * *

Emma had enraptured her lover's uncle; he had rather enviously
congratulated Mr. Greville on the possession of a real treasure; Charles
simpering a little over his good taste had declared: "She is as good as
anything in nature."

But Sir William's praise went higher--"She is better than anything in
nature, she is as good as anything to be found in antique art."

He gazed enthralled as this Pompeian nymph in flesh and blood posed for
him in the attitudes which Mr. Greville and George Romney had taught
her--a shawl, a tambourine, a tossing of a fleece of rich curls, a
downward or an upward glance, and the enraptured connoisseur gazed at one
of his favourite statues come to life, with as much enthusiasm as ever
Pygmalion watched his Galatea throb from alabaster into flesh.

In the studio in Cavendish Square he admired the brilliant canvases on
which the gloomy painter had cast the radiance of glowing young
womanhood. The ageing gentleman was in every way pleased, in his artistic
taste, in his classical knowledge, in his old man's relish for a bouncing
merry wench; why this was Ariadne, Cassandra, Diana, Alope, the Comic

As blind as Romney in his infatuation, he did not see that this was Emma,
always and nothing but Emma, and that the famous expressions that fleeted
across her smooth face disturbed it no more than a breath ruffles a
placid lake.

Then her singing!

Sir William was amazed at her full ringing notes, at the drama she put
into her songs, at the _bravura_ with which she shook out her
reckless trills. If her ear was slightly defective, that was hardly
noticeable and might soon be remedied--she was worthy of the most careful
training--in the opera house she would be an object of public admiration!

Emma responded gratefully to all this sincere flattery, and put Sir
William second only in her affection to Mr. Greville, he was so kind--he
was rich, too, and influential, he might be so useful; her lover had told
her what a very important person Sir William was, and as she tried to
pass the dull time at Parkgate, she thought of the wealthy uncle almost
as much as she thought of the beloved nephew.

Sir William was so very civil, he never scolded or admonished as Mr.
Greville did, no, he treated her just as if she were a great lady, he was
courteous and respectful, as if he were always at her feet. He did not
know what a romp she had been, nor anything of her past life, nor of the
existence of little Emma, of the nasty plight from which Mr. Greville had
so generously rescued her, nor of the squalid little cottage in Hawarden.

When she was with Sir William she was always careful to remember all that
Mr. Greville had taught her--the moods and gestures she must not use, the
references she must not make; a little _gaminerie_ suited her style
of beauty, a touch of Flintshire accent was not displeasing, but Mr.
Greville had always been as strict about vulgarity as he had about

The manner that Sir Harry Featherstonehaugh had approved had to be left
behind with the cards and wine-glasses, the oaths and indecencies of Up
Park. Emma, dutifully curing her marred knees and elbows with medicine
and sea bathing, was pleased to think how well she had behaved to Sir
William, what a good impression she had made on him with her demure
tea-table ways and her filial kisses when her fresh mouth--unique, Sir
William had declared, in its classic curve--had touched so lovingly the
powdered yellowing cheek of the old _virtuoso_.

Despite his careful dressing, Emma had taken Sir William for an old
gentleman when she had first seen him, but Mr. Greville had, with unusual
emotion, corrected her opinion, and Emma, always quick to take a hint,
never again referred to age and Sir William in the same breath; indeed,
when she came to know him better, she declared he was "the most juvenile
gentleman she had ever met," so coy, so arch, so lively, with such
spritely ways!

He had told her to call him Pliny the elder, who was, he said, a
philosopher, and also not unknown to the slopes of Vesuvius, though he
had never, like the industrious Sir William, written a book about the
volcano. Emma, to whom one name was as good as another, dutifully called
the brilliant gentleman Pliny, while Charles Greville was Pliny the
younger; so an air of classicism was cast over Paddington Green. If the
wit ran a little thin, Emma did not perceive it. As she moped in her
hired lodging, bored with the teasing child, loathing the seaside,
missing the poses, the visits to Cavendish Square, the music lessons, the
flatteries of Sir William, the company of her lover, she poured out her
anxieties on paper.

She was worried about money; Mr. Greville had told her to be careful, and
Pliny had hinted in his kind fatherly way, that dear Charles was really
in rather a tight corner from which it would take a good deal of skill to
extricate him; then there was the anxiety as to where Mr. Greville was
and what he was doing; supposing that, in that great world to which she
had no entry, he met someone who would induce him to forget poor Emma?

In a torment she rushed her feelings on to paper; she wrote better now
than when she had penned her seven unanswered epistles to Sir Harry, she
had picked up too, from reading fashionable fiction, from listening to
fashionable talk, some of the jargon of the moment, the language of
melting sensibility that disguised grossness, the high-flown phrases that
were such a specious form of hypocrisy. Emma's profession was to flatter
gentlemen; she knew Mr. Greville's weakness for being thought a Mentor,
the wise man who had made a good girl out of poor, wild, giddy Amy Lyon.
She paid him this homage readily and not entirely out of self-interest;
the man was attractive and her lover. It was not an unskilful letter that
Emma wrote from the boredom of Parkgate.

"Parkgate, June the 15th, 1784

"My Dear Greville,

"You see by the date where I am gott and likely to be; and yett it is not
through any neglect of seeking after other places. As to Abbergely it is
40 miles, and so dear that I could not with my mother and me and the
child have been there under 2 guines and a half a-week. It is grown such
a fashionable place. And High Lake as 3 houses in it, and not one of them
as is fit for a Christian. The best is a publick-house for the sailers of
such ships as is oblidged to put in there, so you see there is no
possibility of going to either of those places. Has to where I am, I find
it very comfortable, considering I am from you. I am in the house of a
Laidy, whoes husband is at sea. She and her grammother live to-gether,
and we board with her at present, till I hear from you. The price is
high, but they don't lodge anybody without boarding; and as it is
comfortable, decent, and quiet, I thought it would not ruin us, till I
could have your oppionon, which I hope to have freely and without
restraint, as, believe me, you will give it to one, who will allways be
happy to follow it, lett it be what it will. As I am sure you would not
lead me wrong, and though my little temper may have been sometimes high,
believe me, I have allways thought you in the right in the end, when I
have come to reason. I bathe, and find the water very soult. Here is a
great many ladys bathing, but I have no society with them, as it is best
not. So pray, my dearest Greville, write soon and tell me what to do, as
I will do just what you think proper; and tell me what to do with the
child. For she is a great romp, and I can hardly master her. I don't
think she is ugly, but I think her greatly improved. She is tall (has)
good eyes and brows, and as to lashes she will be passible; but she has
over-grown all her cloaths. I am makeing and mending all as I can for
her. Pray, my dear Greville, do lett me come home as soon as you can; for
I am all most broken-hearted being from you. Indeed I have no pleasure
nor happiness. I wish I could not think of you; but, if I was the
greatest laidy in the world, I should not be happy from you. So don't
lett me stay long. Tell Sir William everything you can, and tell him I am
sorry our situation prevented (me) from giving him a kiss, but my heart
was ready to break. But I will give it him, and entreat if he will axcept
it. Ask him how I looked, and lett him say something kind to me when you
write. Indeed, my dear Greville, you don't know how much I love you. And
your behaviour to me, wen we parted, was so kind, Greville, I don't know
what to do; but I will make you a mends by my kind behaviour to you. For
I have grattitude, and I will show it you all I can. So don't think of my
faults, Greville. Think of all my good, and blot out all my bad: for it
is all gone and berried, never to come again. So, good-by, dear Greville.
Think of nobody but me, for I have not a thought but of you. God bless
you and believe me,

"Your Truly and Affectionately

"Emma H--t."

"P.S.--Poor Emma gives her duty to you. I bathe her. The people is very
civil to ous. I give a guinea and half a-week for ous all together, but
you will tell me what to do. God bless you, my dear Greville. I long to
see you, for endead I am not happy from you, tho' will stay if you like
till a week before you go home, but I must go first. I hav had no letter
from you, and you promised to write to me before I left home. It made me
unhappy, but I thought you might (have no) time. God bless you once more,
dear Greville. Direct for me at Mrs. Darnwood's, Parkgate near Chest-ter,
and write directly."

In seven days she had not heard from Mr. Greville, the monotony of the
bland June season became unsupportable; she wrote again and on a more
emphatic note, giving Charles Greville just the stuff she thought he
would like; if the incense was rather thick and luscious, well Emma knew
that gentlemen liked it so, especially gentlemen like Mr. Greville who
had no sense of fun and were such superior beings. She began the long
epistle in the hope of having one to answer before it was finished, but
no! And so the letter was lengthened from the Wednesday to the Sunday
morning when at last Dame Kidd forwarded a letter that had wasted a
fortnight in Hawarden.

"Parkgate: June the 22nd, 1784.

"My Ever Dear Greville,

"How tedious does the time pass awhay tell I hear from you. I think it
ages since I saw you--years since I heard from you. Endead I should be
miserable, if I did not recollect in what happy terms we parted--parted
but to meet again with tenfould happiness. Oh, Greville, when I think on
your goodness, your tender kindness, my heart is so full of grattitude,
that I want words to express it. But I have one happiness in vew, which I
am determined to practice, and that is eveness of temper and steadiness
of mind. For endead, I have thought so much of your amiable goodness,
when you have been tried to the utmost, that I will, endead I will,
manage myself, and try to be like Greville. Endead, I can never be like
him. But I will do all I can towards it, and I am sure you will not
desire more. I think, if the time would come over again, I would be
different. But it does not matter. There is nothing like buying
experience. I may be happier for it hereafter, and I will think of the
time coming and not the time past, except to make comparrasone, to show
you what alterations there is for the best. So, my dearest Greville, don't
think on my past follies; think on my good--little as it has been. And I
will make you amends by my kind behaviour; you shall never repent your
partiality. If you had not behaved with such angel-like goodness to me at
parting, it would not have had such effect on me. I have done nothing but
think of you since. And, oh, Greville, did you but know, when I so think,
what thoughts--what tender thoughts (I have), you would say 'Good God!'
and can Emma have such feeling sensibility? No, I never could think it.
But now I may hope to bring her to conviction, and she may prove a
valluable and amiable whoman! True, Greville! and you shall not be
disapointed. I will be everything you can wish. But mind you, Greville,
your own great goodness has brought this about. You don't know what I am.
Would you think it, Greville?--Emmathe wild unthinking Emma is a grave
thoughtful phylosopher. Tis true, Greville, and I will convince you I am,
when I see you. But how I am running on. I say nothing about this giddy
wild girl of mine. What shall we do with her, Greville? She is as wild
and as thoughtless as somebody, when she was a little girl; so you may
gess how that is. Whether she will like it or no, there is no telling.
But one comfort is (that she is) a little afraid on me. Would you
believe, on Satturday whe had a little quarel. I mean Emma and me; and I
did slap her on her hands, and when she came to kiss me and make it up, I
took her on my lap and cried. Now do you blame me or not? Pray tell me.
Oh, Greville, you don't know how I love her. Endead I do. When she comes
and looks in my face and calls me 'mother,' endead I then truly am a
mother; for all the mother's feelings rise at once, and tells (me) I am
and ought to be a mother. For she has a wright to my protection, and she
shall have it as long as I can, and I will do all I can to prevent her
falling into the error her poor once miserable mother fell into.

"But why do I say miserable? Am I not happy abbove any of my sex, at
least in my situation? Does not Greville love me, or at least like me?
Does not he protect me? Does not he provide for me? Is not he a father to
my child? Why do I call myself miserable? No, it whas a mistake, and I
will be happy, chearful and kind, and do all my poor abbility will lett
me, to return the fatherly goodness and prottection he has shewn (me).
Again, my dear Greville, the recollection of past scenes brings tears in
my eyes. But they are tears of happiness. To think of your goodness is
too much. But, once for all, Greville, I will be good to you.

"It is near bathing time, and I must lay down my pen. I wont finish till
I see when the post comes, whether there is a letter. He comes in abbout
one a clock. I hope to have a letter so to-day.

"I must not forgett to tell you my knees is well, as I may say. There is
hardly a mark, and my elbows is much better. I eat my vittuels very well,
and I am quite strong and feel hearty, and I am in hopes I shall be very
well. You can't think how soult the watter is. And there is a many laidys
bathing here. But, Greville, I am oblidged to give a shilling a day for
the bathing horse and whoman, and twopence a day for the dress. It is a
great expense, and it fretts me now I think of it. But when I think how
well I am, and my elbows likely to gett well, it makes me quite happy.
For at any rate it is better than paying the doctor. But wright your
oppinion truly and tell me what to do. Emma is crying because I wont come
and bathe. So, Greville, adue tell after I have dipt. May God bless you,
my dearest Greville, and believe me faithfully, affectionately and truly
yours only--Emma H.

"Thursday Morning.

"And no letter from my dear Greville. Why, my dearest Greville, what is
the reason you don't wright? If you knew my uneasyness, you would. You
promised to write before I left Howeden, and I was much disapointed you
did not, but thought you might have a opportunity being at Wandower (?
Wendover) Hill. I have sent 2 letters to Haverford West, and has never
had no answer to them, and it is now 3 weeks since I saw you. Pray, my
dearest Greville, wright to me and make me happy; for I am not so att
present, though my arm is quite well.

"I think if I could but hear from you, I should be happy. So make (me)
happy, do, pray. Give my dear kind love and compliments to Pliney, and
tell him I put you under his care, and he must be answerable for you to
me, when I see him. I hope he has (not) fell in love with any rawboned
Scotchwoman, whose fortune would make up for the want of beauty, and then
he may soon through her (die) in a decline--Mum! For he is fond of
portraits in that whay, and then he must be fond of orriginals, and it
will answer every purpose. But don't put him in mind of it, for fear--But
offer and say everything you can to him for me, and tell him I shall
allways think on him with gratitude and remember him with pleasure, and
allways regret laeving is (leaving his) good company. Tell him I wish him
every happiness this world can afford him, that I will pray for him, and
bless him as long as I live. I am wrighting, 'tis true, but I don't know
when you will ever gett it. For I can't send itt, till I hear from you,
and the Post wont be in tell to morro. Pray, my dear Greville, lett me go
home soon. I have been 3 weeks, and if I stay a fortnight longer, that
will be 5 weeks, you know; and then the expense is above 2 guineas a
week, with washing and bathing whoman and everything; and I think a
fortnight or three weeks longer I shall not have a spot."

"Friday morning: 12 o'clock (25th June).

"With impatienc do I sett down to wright tell I see the postman. But sure
I shall have a letter to-day. Can you, my dear Greville--no, you
can't--have forgot your poor Emma allready. Tho' I am but for a few weeks
absent from you, my heart will not one moment leave you. I am allways
thinking of you, and could almost fancy I hear you, see you; and think,
Greville, what a disapointment when I find myself deceived, and ever nor
never heard from you. But my heart wont lett me scold you. Endead, it
thinks on you with too much tenderness. So do wright, my dear Greville.
Don't you remember how you promised? Don't you recollect what you said at
parting?--how you should be happy to see me again? O Greville, think on
me with kindness! Think how many happy days weeks and years--I hope--we
may yet pass. And think out of some that is past, there (h)as been some
little pleasure as well as pain; and endead, did you but know how much I
love you, you would freily forgive me any passed quarels. For I now
suffer for them, and one line from you would make me happy. So pray do
wright, and tell me when you will be returning, as I shall be happy to
see you again. For whilst Emma lives, she must be gratefully and ever

"Your Emma Hart."

"P.S.--This shall not go tell I have a letter from you, which I hope to
have in half an hour. Adue, my dear kind Greville."

"Sunday Morning (27th June).

"My Dear Greville, I had a letter on Friday from my Gran-mother, and she
sent me one from you, that had been there a fortnight. I am much oblidged
to you for all the kind things you say to me, and tell Sir William I am
much oblidged to him for saying I looked well. I hope he will always
think so; for I am proud of (his) good word, and I hope I shall never
forfeit it. I will at least study to deserve it. I am in hopes (to) have
a letter from you, for it is a great comfort to me to hear from you. My
dear Greville, it is now going on for a month since I saw you. But I
think how happy I shall be to see you again, to thank you for your
kindness to my poor Emma and me. She shall thank you, Greville, she shall
be gratefull, she shall be good, and make you amends for all the trouble
her mother has caused you. But how am I to make you amends? God knows. I
shall never have it in my power. But, Greville, you shall have no cause
to complain. I will try. I will do my utmost--and I can only regrett that
fortune will not put it in my power to make a return for all the kindness
and goodness you have showed me. Good-by. My dearest Greville...Emma is
much oblidged to you for remembering her, and she hopes you will give her
a oppertunity of thanking you personally for your goodness to her. I
think you wont be disapointed in her; though mothers (Lord bless me, what
a word for the gay wild Emma to say!) should not commend, but leave that
for other people to do."

There was one more letter written from Parkgate on July 3rd; it was on
the same note. Mr. Greville had suggested that little Emma should be
brought to London and sent to school, and the young mother was
submissively grateful--and wrote all the conventional things, hopes that
Emma would become good, mild and attentive--that she would not turn out
as her mother had--but then, if poor Emma the first had had the luck to
have such a fine early start--"what a woman she would have been!"

Here Emma wrote not from her feelings, but from her situation; every
Magdalen embarrassed by chance maternity has voiced these correct

Leaving the subject of the child, Emma again flattered her lover; how she
was longing to see him, to give him a thousand kisses--"My happiness now
is Greville."

She wrote truly; she had not much in the world besides her dear Charles;
but there was the rich, amiable uncle to please also. "Dear Sir William.
Give my kind love to him. Tell him (that) next to you I love him above
any body and that I wish I was with him to give him a kiss...My mother
gives her compts. to you and Sir W. Say everything that is kind and well
render me dear to him."

When Emma read over this letter she was not satisfied that she had
expressed all that she felt and she added a pretty postscript.

"P.S.--Good by, my dear Greville. I hope we shall meet soon, happy and
well. Adue! I bathe Emma and she is very well and grows. Her hair will
grow very well on her forhead, and I don't think her nose will be very
snub. Her eye is blue and pretty. She don't speak through her nose but
she speaks countrified. We squabble sometimes; still she is fond of me,
and indead I love her. For she is sensible. So much for Beauty. I long to
see you."

By August the impatient girl was back in Paddington, though Mr. Greville
and his uncle were still visiting in Scotland; a slight attack of measles
sent her to bed, but she soon recovered and was writing eagerly to her

"Edgware Row, Tuesday, August 10th, 1784.

"I must now inform you abbout my illness. My dear Greville, I had arash
out all over me and a fevour, and I should have been worse, if I had not
had the rash out. But I think I am better for it now; for I look fair and
seem better in health than I was before. I dare say I should have been
very dangerously ill, iff it had not come out. Pray, my dearest Greville,
do come to see me, as soon as ever you come to town, for I do so long to
see you. You don't know how it will make me to be happy--I mean if you
should come before diner. Do come (to dinner), because I know you will
come at night. I have a deal to say to you when I see you. Oh, Greville,
to think it is nine weeks since I saw you. I think I shall die with the
pleasure of seeing you. Indeed, my dearest Greville, if you knew how much
I think of you, you would love (me) for it, for I am all ways thinking on
you, of your goodness. In short, Greville, I truly love you, and the
thought of your coming home so soon makes me so happy, I don't know what
to do.

"Good-by, my ever dearest Greville. May God preserve you and bless you,
for ever prays your ever affectionately and sincerely...Emma.

"My kind love to Sr William; and tell him if he will come soon, I will
give him a thousand kisses. For I do love him a little."

* * * * *

While Emma, secured from mischief by the presence of her mother and her
child, was living in such respectable fidelity at Parkgate, Sir William
and his nephew were, in the intervals of their social duties, talking

The Knight had never been overreached in a bargain yet and Mr. Greville
was shrewd and careful, so it was in an atmosphere of even-tempered
prudence that they discussed their affairs, in which the uncle's appetite
and the nephew's pocket were concerned, but not the heart or the
sentiments of either.

The Hon. Charles civilly urged his uncle to take Emma off his hands with
the same ease as an Emir might have urged a neighbouring potentate to
accept a favourite odalisque.

She was, as Sir William could judge for himself, a gem of the purest
lustre; her beauty, her singing, her attitudes!

To increase her value, Mr. Greville vouched for other good qualities
possessed by Emma; she was nice-mannered, faithful, truthful, quick at
learning, obedient and docile; she was economical, always good-humoured
and lively. Then there was her mother, maid, duenna, cook in one, cheap
and efficient. How much better for Sir William to match his pleasant
leisure with a lovely, well-trained girl like Emma, than hamper himself
with a wife.

All the members of the family advised such an arrangement, the Rev.
Frederick Hamilton, Sir William's sole surviving brother, declared that
"to buy love ready made" was the best thing the gay widower could do.

As for himself, Mr. Greville simply could not afford such a luxury as the
keeping of the rare treasure he was passing on to his dear uncle.

Was it fair to keep Emma pinching and scraping in Edgeware Row when she
was fitted to adorn a Court? He could not afford the expensive tutors her
talents deserved, the carriage and pair she ought to have, the fine
clothes that were her right.

Besides, he had himself to think of; the Romney pictures had made Emma
quite famous, and everyone knew who her protector was. It was useless for
him to offer himself to an heiress until his charmer was dismissed; he
had thought of Lord Middleton's daughter, who had £20,000, but how could
he come forward as a suitor for the chaste Henrietta with Emma on his
hands? Another point, he wanted to see Emma well established; she
deserved a fair settlement, say a £100 a year from Sir William, which he,
Charles Greville, would try to add to by selling a few pictures, even
sacrificing the Correggio or the Thais for so laudable an end.

All this seemed very reasonable to Sir William; the complete absence of
romance or sentimentality pleased him; Charles Greville had always been a
man after his own heart,--but there were objections to the tempting
offer. "Naples is like a village for gossip, the thing can't be hidden.
Besides I don't want to be the wittol of every young rake being bear-led
through Italy."

Mr. Greville was sure that Sir William's tact would be able to deal with
the Neapolitan gossips--Emma would be studying music, and the mother
would surely confuse, if not silence, the prudish. As for Emma's flirting
with the tourists the Minister had to entertain, Mr. Greville could
answer for her good behaviour--why the difficulty was that she was too
faithful; Mr. Greville showed the Parkgate letters: "The girl's in love
with me, and won't be got rid of so easily!" And he mentioned that she
had received several fine offers from wealthy men that she had
indignantly refused--nay, Emma might even have married quite respectably
had she not been so tenaciously fond of her Greville.

All this clinging fidelity might be transferred, the Hon. Charles was
sure, with time and tact to Sir William, who had the leisure, the person,
the means to lay siege even to the most difficult female heart.

How far from difficult of assault was Emma's heart, Mr. Greville did not
mention; he glossed over the girl's past with which Sir William, a
stranger to London, was not familiar and he said nothing of little Emma
now comfortably boarded out with a Mrs. Blackburn and her husband at £60
a year; in short, he did the best that he could both for himself and for
the poor girl in distress, to whom he had been so kind.

Sir William accepted the offer; he was to have Emma as soon as a decorous
occasion for the transfer presented itself; both the girl and society had
to be considered, she could not jump from one man's arms into those of
another without some little delay and tact; but that she should as soon
as possible pass into Sir William's possession was agreed between the two
gentlemen before the Minister departed for Naples.

Something else had been agreed to also; of course, Mr. Greville could not
sell his mistress, no such thing was to be thought of, but it just
happened, while the delicate Emma-negotiations were going on, that Sir
William was able to let his nephew know that he would be able to help him
pay his debts and to assist him in obtaining a wealthy wife.

Mr. Greville owed about £6,000, not much more than a year's revenue from
the Welsh estates of the late Lady Hamilton, and Sir William was so
obliging as to enter into a bond whereby the creditors were satisfied by
money raised on the estate to which Mr. Greville was made heir in tail.
Not only by assisting him in keeping his creditors quiet did the uncle
oblige the nephew, he gave him a letter written so as to be shown to a
third party, wherein he declared dear Charles to be his heir--it was
hoped that this epistle would help Mr. Greville in securing an heiress.

The will, leaving to Charles Greville not only the Barlow, but other
estates, was duly drawn up and Charles himself left sole executor. Sir
William promised to use his considerable influence at Westminster to
secure his nephew some honourable and lucrative sinecure.

Of course, all these benefits were conferred on Mr. Greville out of the
pure goodness of Sir William's heart and had nothing whatever to do with
the secret understanding that Emma should come out to Naples as soon as

* * * * *

All these arrangements having been carefully made, His Britannic
Majesty's Minister returned to his post at the Court of Naples, and Emma
took up again her modest life at Paddington, going to and from Cavendish
Square to console the moody gloom of George Romney with her bright looks,
amusing Mr. Greville with her poses, her songs and her lively chatter.

By the end of 1785 there came a letter from Pliny, written within sight
of Vesuvius, begging the fair Emma to come to Naples as his guest, there
to perfect herself in music and painting.

As dear Charles was busily setting his affairs in order, and thought of
taking a course of chemistry under Professor Black in Edinburgh, he would
not be able to accompany her, but in six months' time, or sooner, he
would go out to Italy and bring her home--meantime comfort and decorum
would be assured by the presence of Mrs. Cadogan. Emma was a little
bewildered, a little saddened; she did not want the Paddington idyll to
end, she did not want to leave the lover of whom she had grown so
fond--the painter who worshipped her charms.

But Mr. Greville was firm, even stern; he had a great deal of business on
hand, Emma would only be in the way; it was her plain duty to go to
Naples, there to learn to finish her music and painting--and also by her
pretty, graceful ways to keep the wealthy, useful uncle in a good humour
towards the absent Charles.

Emma consented; if she wept at the prospect of leaving Mr. Greville,
there was comfort in the thought of seeing foreign lands, perhaps a
foreign Court, of being admired and flattered once more by kind old

On March 4th, 1786, Emma and Mrs. Cadogan were entrusted to the escort of
Gavin Hamilton, one of Sir William's artist friends, and started for
Naples, where they arrived nearly six weeks later in the full flush of
the South Italian spring.

Emma, then twenty-three years old, was also in the full flush of her
ripening charms. Mr. Hamilton had admitted that he "had never seen
anything quite like her"--she fitted into the opulent landscape as a
picture into a frame and took possession of her apartments in the Palazzo
Sessa, the British Embassy in Naples, with the air of Venus returning to

* * * * *

Mr. Greville remained alone, but not forlorn, in Paddington; he certainly
did not intend to think of Emma again, to see her, or write to her,
unless absolutely forced to do so. He had seen the last of her without
regret, and proceeded to put his affairs methodically in order, selling a
few treasures, paying some debts, compounding others, closing the
Paddington establishment, at least for the present, while he freed
himself of business annoyances and kept his shrewd eyes wide open for a
rich wife.

He regarded himself as Emma's benefactor, and the harmless deception
whereby he had passed her on to his uncle under the false promise of
rejoining her later did not trouble him at all. There was no managing
women by any other means than such tricks as these, and one day Emma,
cosily installed as Sir William's _belle amie_, would be very
grateful to dear Charles for so thoughtfully providing for her future.

Emma did indeed owe Mr. Greville a heavy debt; he had rescued her from
squalid misery, restored her self-respect, taught her many things useful
for an adventuress to know, changed her from a pert, bouncing wench into
a rare beauty, brought out her talents for music, for poses, instilled
into her the wisdom of keeping her temper and her accounts, and pointed
out the advantages of Mrs. Cadogan's attendance. He had given her some
flavour of the great world, some inkling of taste and beauty--above all,
he had introduced her to Sir William Hamilton and to George Romney.

But for himself he had obtained a fair and amorous mistress very cheaply,
and he had entangled his uncle in a connection likely to prevent that
second marriage that he, the heir-at-law, so dreaded.

So, twice over, Emma had repaid her obligations to her friend, who had
never pretended to love her, and who had certainly kept his promise to
help a girl in distress.

* * * * *

Emma felt a little forlorn, frightened and homesick, when she first
arrived at Naples, and she wrote by the first post to Mr. Greville,
urging him to redeem his promise and come out to her as soon as possible.
It was all very splendid in the Palazzo Sessa--but what could compare
with the delights of love--"not fine horses, nor a fine coach, nor a pack
of servants."

Sir William was much more than kind--"he loves me, Greville...but he can
never be my lover."

She related to the absent Charles in much detail all the attentions shown
her by one whom she wished to regard merely as a kind sincere friend, she
ran over all the novelties of her position, she expressed herself with an
emphasis learned from the theatrical attitudes, the dramatic singing, the
false tone of the time, but which was touched by a sincere emotion; it
was not agreeable for the healthy young woman to have exchanged the
attentions of the young beau for those of the old rake. Death, poverty,
hunger, would Emma face to return to her dear Charles, she would walk
"bare foot to Scotland" where perhaps he was listening to Professor
Black's lectures on chemistry--"if my fatal ruin depends on seeing you
and I will and must (see you) in the end of the summer."

Then she scribbled on about Sir William's infatuation, his gifts, his
love for dear Charles to whom he had left everything in his will, the
success of her English gowns--"but the blue hat, Greville, pleases most."

Did Greville need money, well, Sir William might send some, "the tears
came into his eyes and he loves us boath dearly." But her hope, her
happiness was all with Greville and, after she had poured out her
rigmarole, she added the postscript:

"Pray, for God's sake, wright to me and come to me, for Sir William shall
not be anything to me but your friend."

* * * * *

This letter despatched and a few tears shed for the amorous joys of
Edgeware Row, Emma began to look about her on the novel scene.

Naples was as different from Paddington as one place could be from
another; Emma was lodged in a palace, waited on by servants, while His
Britannic Majesty's Minister hardly disguised a boundless infatuation,
within the radiance of a Court, almost in touch with a King and a Queen,
with Princes and great ladies. In a flash Emma had achieved the wildest
day-dreams of every poor girl who had taken her charms to market. She had
pleased a rich man, a powerful man, a man who could give her everything a
woman like herself admired and envied. Why, she really had to pinch
herself to make sure she was awake; her mother's approving smile hinted
at her luck; Sir William's adoration had that touch of senility that
promised everything.

He raved, he cut capers, she could not move a limb but he loudly praised
it; she was used to being admired to her face, Mr. Greville had often
pointed out her charms to his friends, but with a detached enthusiasm.
Mr. Romney had been deeply moved by her graces, but his homage had been
awkward, shy, until it was expressed on canvas. But Sir William revealed
himself in a rhapsody that would have seemed tiresome and foolish to a
well-bred woman, but which Emma enjoyed very much; amusing the old fellow
with good-humoured pleasantries, she kept him off while she waited for
Mr. Greville and looked about her on the strange city.

* * * * *

The Kingdom of Naples spread over half the map of Italy, reaching to the
frontier of the Papal States, the very gates of Rome, it also comprised
the rich, fantastic Island of Sicily.

For long a Spanish province under a Viceroy, Naples had been given a King
in the person of Ferdinand IV, third son of Carlos III of Spain.
Ferdinand, when a child eight years old, had been installed in Naples
under the tutelage of a Tuscan Minister, Bernardo Tanucci, who worked
wholly under the directions of the Spanish Cabinet.

This state of affairs came to an end with the King's marriage to a
daughter of Maria Theresa and Francis of Lorraine, who speedily broke off
connections with her father-in-law and gathered all the business of the
Kingdom into her own nervous hands; by a clause of her marriage contract
she was to have a seat in the Cabinet on the birth of a Prince, and the
heir had duly appeared.

To assist her in this responsibility Queen Maria Carolina had introduced
a foreign favourite into her Council, an Englishman of good birth, one
John Acton, who had been employed at her brother's Tuscan capital, and
who fitted very cleverly into the part of adviser of the passionate Queen
who ruled the foolish King. Acton had no idea in his handsome head save
that of personal aggrandisement and it mattered little to him how the
Kingdom was run, as long as he had money and power and Maria Carolina was

Under these three, the lazy ignorant King, touched with hereditary
imbecility, the ambitious, superstitious, violent Queen and the
incapable, greedy, unscrupulous favourite, Naples was as badly governed
as a country could be. A system already out-of-date was eaten into by
every manner of corruption and abuse; the King regarded his position as a
vulgar joke, the Queen hers as a chance to enrich and advance her brood
of sickly children, Acton his as a piece of luck to be exploited to the

To anyone of sense, who looked beneath the surface, it would have been
obvious that South Italy was in the state of the seething pot that so
nearly boils over, that bubbles already gather at the brim.

But this surface was very brilliant, and no one about the Court did look
beneath it. What did obsolete laws, a crazy system of finance, an
impoverished country, the discontent of the intellectuals matter, as long
as the sun shone and there was money for games and festivals, for hunts
and concerts?

Sir William had never looked below the glittering crust on which he had
sported so long and so gaily. While he had been going into raptures over
the discoveries at Pompeii he had never concerned himself with the
conditions of the country where he had resided for twenty years; while he
had been quizzing at his vases, or prying into the volcanic earths of
Vesuvius, he had not noticed other fires as dangerous as those of the
great mountain smouldering beneath the sparkling life of Naples.

The upper- and middle-class Neapolitans were proud, patriotic,
intelligent and cultured; in their ranks were many brilliant men and
women, philosophers, scholars, poets, writers, scientists, medical men,
highly educated, lofty-minded gentlewomen, ardent, brave, ambitious
youths. These people loathed the reckless, heartless tyranny under which
they lived, detested the alien Bourbon rule, the meddling Austrian Queen,
the sly, stupid English adventurer, and in their clubs, societies,
academies, drawing-rooms and cabinets, they absorbed and discussed the
highest culture of the day and ventured to dream of plans for the reform
of a country beloved and oppressed.

What did Sir William Hamilton know of this? Even if he knew, why should
he care? What did it matter to Emma, who had never minded anything but
her own affairs; she had lived in London through the war with the
American Colonies, the war with France, the trial of Warren Hastings, the
rise of Pitt, but if she had been stirred to a cheer at the victories of
Hood and Rodney, that was as far as her concern in the fortunes of her
country had gone. All she was ever to know of Italy she knew at once; the
superficial glance was always enough for Emma.

* * * * *

The celebrated beauty of the city of Naples lies in its situation and
colouring; on a closer view, the narrow streets, the huddled houses, the
featureless architecture are not of any peculiar distinction, but viewed
from the magnificent bay the design is splendid, a fitting setting for a
baroque fairy-tale. The flat facades of peach and cream-coloured plaster
rising in terraces, the stately bulk of the royal palace to the left, the
sweep out to the lighthouse on the mole to the right, the Castel dell'Ovo
supposed to have been built on a magic egg provided by the wizard Vergil,
to the left jutting out darkly into the bay, the majestic lines of the
Castel Nuovo in the centre of the city, while on the heights behind rises
the massive fort, the Castel Sant' Elmo, flanked by the long lines of the
Certosa di San Martino.

And over all, when Emma first stepped into her luxurious apartments, the
steady wash of sunshine, the azure sky reflected in the azure-violet
waters of the huge bay, bright light gilding the crowded shipping in the
harbour, flashing amid the stiff-leaved palm-trees, the black
cypress-boughs, the grey twisted olives on the slopes above the town; in
the drowsy gardens the dark green leaves and thick white stars of the
myrtle, the vivid purity of orange blossoms, the profusion of the
fragrant petals of roses, syringa and oleander, flowers Emma had never
seen even in dreams.

On gilded balconies stood pots of fringed pinks, of plumy basil, of
scented rosemary, while from behind the slats of green shutters came the
tinkle of mandolines and guitars, the lilt of amorous voices; in the
evening when the breeze blew cool from the purple sea, smart carriages
with liveried lackeys rattled to the flamboyant Opera House, to luxurious
balls, to concerts, or departed for delicious drives along the coast,
ending in suppers beneath the soft lamps that glowed amid the tamarisk
groves and citron glades of Caserta or Posilippo.

Over all the varied splendour of the surface-scene, consistent as the
sunshine, as brilliant as universal, were the menace and pomp of a
powerful religion sunk into gross superstitions that were shared alike by
Queen and beggars, pervading every corner of life, processions and
parades of monks, nuns, priests, banners, filth and ignorance. The
"religious" swarmed as thick as the flies in Naples, and the focus of
their gorgeous mummery was the grandiose Duomo, where, amid scenes of
frantic excitement, the Archbishop showed to the hysterical mob the phial
in which the blood of the patron saint of Naples, San Gennaro, changed
from a solidified drop into fresh-flowing crimson liquid.

* * * * *

On the surface the life of Naples was not only smooth but sparkling, at
once elegant and informal; society had become both gay and cultured under
the influence of the Austrian Queen, who, ignorant herself, liked to be a
patroness of the arts, of learning and philosophy.

The fashions of Paris and Vienna enlivened the vast city; the melodies of
Mozart and Haydn mingled with those of Gluck and Piccini, the nobles
swung along the streets in coaches as brilliant as those which filled the
court of honour at Versailles. Velvets from Genoa, laces from Venice,
silks from Lyons crushed gowns from the Palais Royal, and hats designed
by Marie Antoinette's milliners crowned fantastic, powdered locks that
framed vivacious southern faces. Young patricians black-eyed, with dark
curls heavily pomaded and coats sewn with tinsel and sequins rode their
blood horses along the winding, dusty roads above the city, while their
lackeys struck out of their way with canes the cringing, grinning
peasants. Before smooth palaces of dusty stone hung ornate coats of arms,
heavy amid the masks and wreaths cut between balconies and latticed
windows. Through the gilt trellis of high gates could be glimpsed
court-yards where fountains flashed in marble basins and marble Tritons
blew conchs of glittering metal. In the shade of arcades pots of
camellias, red white and striped, stood beside statues of ancient gods,
lately raised from the rich soil, or smooth blocks of lava of the
surrounding campagna. In cool, tiled salons philosophy was discussed, and
songs sung to harp, guitar or spinet; in the evening the fireflies danced
over the moonbeam walls that shaded strolling lovers, and the lanterns of
pleasure-boats glittered beyond the shipping in the bay.

Nature, too, kept up this show, this holiday, with glitter of steady
sunshine for weeks together, with lavish flowers and fruit, from the
first clusters of large, scentless violets to the last golden orange, the
last basket of dusky grapes, with the changing waters of the bay, jade
green, azure, purple, and lilac, melting to an horizon where sea and sky
were one radiance blurring the island. Nature provided a luxurious
background, the sloping hills where the convents and forts blazed white
beneath their belfries and flags, where the pines were black in the
luminous air, and beyond the vineyards and cornfields the sombre
splendour of Vesuvius rising from fields of lava and ashes to cones that
cast up fire and vapours.

Along the crowded quays the fisher-folk lounged, gossiped, and chaffered
over their wares; their striped trousers and short jackets, their red
caps and earrings were declared to be by all foreigners--"picturesque";
it was quite fashionable to leave a wax-lit Salon where an Italian melody
had been sung by a trained singer, to loiter down to the fisher-folk's
quarters to hear their nasal voices raised in "Santa Lucia" or "Stella
Maris." Fireworks were a popular diversion; from the gardens, from the
royal palace at Caserta, from the terraces of the noble villas at
Posilippo, at Castellamare often rose the mock fires of human artifice
that fell in fountains of fiery blooms before the brilliant stars, then
disappeared into the purple darkness of the bay where the sea-foam curled
along the indented rocks.

Naples indeed provided every device that could render life exciting and
agreeable; here was for sale every possible pleasure, from the grossest
to the most refined, and here, for ten months of the year, were a climate
and a scene that might be likened to those of a fabled paradise.
Moreover, to a casual eye the city seemed as happy as it was splendid, as
gay as it was luxurious. Priests, monks, nuns, beggars alike, appeared
light-hearted and indulgent towards their fellow-men and towards the
saints whose worship was so easy and whose benefits were so lavish; the
nobles seemed carefree with nothing to do but to spend their handsome
fortunes on amusements, and the middle classes disclosed to none what was
in their minds.

* * * * *

The British Embassy was housed in two floors of the Palazzo Sessa, which
Sir William Hamilton rented in Naples; these magnificent and sumptuously
handsome apartments looked out upon the glitter of the bay.

A suite of four fine rooms was given to Emma and her mother; the rooms
had been newly decorated by the British Minister for his dazzling
treasure; he had exhausted his taste, if not his purse, in preparing a
background worthy of so beautiful an occupant; couches of Pompeian shape
with gilt claw-legs and curved backs had their classic rigidity broken by
tasselled' cushions of brocade. The walls, exquisitely painted with light
arabesques, were kept to those melting hues of cream, amber and ivory
which best set off the vivid hues of Emma's carnation and the glint of
her opulent tresses. Here and there was a sculptured vase that would in
time come to be priceless, here and there a picture which represented the
climax of some master's art. Sir William searched through the garnered
hoard of a lifetime to find out the choicest pieces for the adornment of
Emma's sun-bathed chambers.

She had little appreciation of all this, but she could delight in the
soft canopied bed with the pale silk curtains, the carved wardrobe full
of handsome clothes, the toilet-tables lavishly plenished, the rich
draperies which kept off the heat, the dainty food, and the obsequious

She had done her best to please Charles Greville by being economical and
prudent, when she had lived in Edgeware Row, but it was a relief no
longer to have to count the pence, to content herself with one glass of
beer, and to sigh for frocks which she could not afford. Compared to the
maids at a few pounds a year who had been her sole servants at
Paddington, the troop of Neapolitan attendants were as amiable and
skilful as a host of genii.

Emma, like the princess in an Eastern tale, could have her every wish
anticipated; she might have fine wines to drink, rich food to eat. Sir
William never scolded, nor lectured, nor asked her to consider the cost.
Every kind of pleasure that it was possible for her to imagine was
offered her with humble delight in her acceptance. It was not possible
for Emma to do otherwise than bloom with an even brighter lustre than she
had worn at Paddington or in Romney's studio, to glow and smile and give
out a delicious radiancy of youth and joy.

The peasant girl who had passed her childhood on the misty moors of
Flintshire seemed to belong easily, as if by right, to this gorgeous
background; Sir William became every day more and more infatuated, more
and more excited over his good luck.

"Who was she?" Naples asked, between a smile and a shrug; and he, a man
of easy tact, had his answer ready--a young _protégée_ who had come
to Italy to learn music and was resting awhile under his roof with her
good mother.

Meanwhile, with that bad taste which infatuation will produce, even in
people of high breeding, he presented Emma with some of his wife's
clothes and toilet articles, a satin gown with Indian paintings on it,
for which he had given twenty-five guineas, and for the hot weather loose
muslin dresses something like those she had worn when sitting for Romney,
with sleeves tied back with ribbons and plain knotted sashes. He told
Emma that she might command anything, and she was grateful and wrote
again to Charles Greville in the last week of July: why should not the
fairy prince come to add the last touch of enchantment to this fairyland?

Why must she, when everything else was perfect, be content with an old
lover? When she took up her pen she began to write in a facile,
sentimental, emotional style, which was not wholly hypocritical:

"For God's sake send me one letter, if it be only a farewell. Think,
Greville, of our former connection, and don't despise me."

If he did not come to her, she must go to him; she would be in London at
Christmas at the latest, life was insupportable without him and her heart
was entirely broken. What were the language masters, the singing masters,
the music masters, without Greville? Why, nothing. She would return to
live with him if he would allow her but one guinea a week for everything.
Then she went on with an account of all that was happening to her, full
of pride and pleasure in her triumph, informing her beloved Greville that
she had no more eruptions on elbows or knees, and was become so fair that
the Italians declared she must use rouge and white. She had been to
Pompeii and the islands and there had been a dreadful storm of thunder
and lightning; she ran on with this and all the other chatter that came
into her mind. She was progressing with her Italian--she would write to
him in that language soon. "But Grevell, of fleas and lice, there is
millions." Then at the end a flourish of good-humoured tenderness: "Pray,
write to yours ever. With the truest and dearest affection. God bless
you. Write me, my dear, dear Greville. Emma."

Swift and dreadful storms, alternating with hot tempests marred that
resplendent summer. The heat was suffocating, and streams of lava began
to pour slowly from the fearful cone of Vesuvius, while plumes of smoke
hung stagnant in the heavy sky; there were rumblings of earthquake and
showers of ashes. All this to Emma was but an added excitement. It was
scarcely possible for her to grasp anything beside the fact of the great
success of her beauty.

When she went abroad, the cheerful, insolent _lazzaroni_ and the
idle, jolly, picturesque crew of beggars, fishermen, small tradespeople,
and loungers, who formed such a large part of the population of Naples,
followed her with cries of pleasure, delighting in her noble beauty,
which to them was of so uncommon a type; they praised the mass of rich
chestnut hair, her simple white gowns in the English or Turkish fashion,
the plain straw or the famous blue hat which Greville had sent from
London, and which cast such exquisite shadows over the entrancing face.

The Neapolitan aristocracy viewed, perhaps with a touch of irony, the old
man's darling who had so suddenly and so dramatically appeared to take
his dead wife's place in the Palazzo Sessa, but neither Sir William nor
Emma perceived the hint of subtle mockery in the homage the easy
Southerners paid to this fresh and uncommon charmer. The Queen was no
prude; she has been described by one who knew her, as a woman "whose
manners were so loose that it was possible to suspect her of every
excess," and it was commonly believed that she had countered the
incessant infidelity of the King with more than a few amours of her own,
and that the handsome and elegant John Acton had been for years more to
her than a friend. Whether the Queen was maligned or not, at least she
showed herself generous towards the girl who appeared in such an
equivocal position in the British Minister's house. Her Majesty did not
herself receive Emma, but she made no objection to her courtiers' doing

The Italian gentlemen, in their tinsel and pomade, their pearls and their
diamonds, sauntered laughing after Emma, when Sir William proudly paraded
her in the trim walks of the gardens of the Villa Reale. A sparkling
Viennese Prince was there; Emma could not spell his name, but he could
speak her language and they got on very well together. He entitled
himself her "cavaliere servente"; though the expression was new to her
she soon grew to understand what it meant. The elegant admirer often
dined at the Palazzo Sessa, and demanded a picture of the exquisite Emma
while he smiled at her over the wine-glass; she was delighted to hear
that he was a friend of the Queen:

"And he does nothing but entertain her with my beauty, accounts of it,

Emma also discovered that the King had a heart and that she had made an
impression on it. When, in the delicious summer evenings, after the
storms had passed over, Sir William took Emma out in his boat on the
waters off Posilippo, where he had a little casino or summer
pleasure-house, His Majesty made a point of being there also, and put out
in his own barge, which was filled with Court musicians.

Sailing close to the British Minister's party, Ferdinand gazed his fill
of the English Miss, _la Signora_ Hart, and ordered his musicians to
play her a serenade on the French horns, sitting the while with his hat
in his hand. When the concert was over His Majesty made a remark, which
was translated to Emma as meaning that he regretted he could not speak
English; after that he took occasion to be as often as possible in her
train of admirers, when she walked in the grounds of the royal villa or
when she took her seat with Sir William in the box at the Opera House,
where her radiance was displayed to the lorgnettes of the boxes and the
stares of the pit.

It was a curious experience for Emma. She had never seen a king before.
When she had been in London, King George had been as far away from her
sphere of life as an Archbishop from the village church in Cheshire where
she had been baptized. The Spanish Bourbon monarch was by no means
inaccessible nor fastidious; almost totally uneducated and delighting in
the company of his inferiors, he was as much beloved by the lowest
population of Naples as he was despised by the professional classes and
the aristocracy.

When Emma caught his easily pleased eye, His Majesty was about
thirty-five years old, heavily made with a rolling profile and an
enormous nose, which earned him the nickname of Il Re Nasone; an athletic
figure, he was careless in his dress, wearing for choice a Neapolitan
fisherman's cap on his blond hair and delighting in the rough jacket,
striped shirt and loose trousers of the Neapolitans who lounged on the
sea-front or sauntered round the quays. For preference, he spoke the
Neapolitan dialect, and indeed expressed himself with difficulty in any
other language. He was good-humoured, if not thwarted, and cared nothing
for what happened to anyone else as long as he was left undisturbed to
those enjoyments of his appetites and that indulgence in his pleasures
which were to him the beginning and end of his existence.

Ferdinand IV liked to catch fish in the bay and sell it in the
marketplace of Naples, haggling shrewdly over the price with the amused
fishermen; he enjoyed the native dishes and especially macaroni, which he
liked to eat with his fingers, and which he had been known to throw by
the handful from his box in the Opera on to the crowd below.

The big, brutal man was afraid of his Queen, who could on occasions prove
a screaming fury, and in order to escape from her passionate hysterics
and her scathing tongue he had handed over to her every department of
State, and was not in the least galled that Acton was virtually King of
Naples and that everyone knew it.

Such as he was, Ferdinand Bourbon was the King, and Emma had him in her
train. She had, for the first time in her life, a carriage and horses,
and servants in livery, not the livery of Sir William--discretion forbade
that--but still livery, and the outfit had the air of a great lady's

She threw herself with zeal into her lessons; she improved vastly in her
singing; her teachers agreed that she had a superb voice. How could they
do otherwise when the pupil was so beautiful and the paymaster so rich?
She improved, too, with her sketching, which she found as "easy as
A.B.C." In the light of Sir William's approving smile, she jotted down on
paper the outline of the great mountain, which was expected to erupt at
any moment. Vesuvius, dark in the brilliant light, sending forth gusts of
black smoke, rising gaunt and bare from fields of lava and opulent
harvests of grain and vines, was an odd subject for the fair amateur's
uncertain pencil; but everything she did pleased.

Every available artist painted her portrait; a favourite pose was that of
a Bacchante, and Italian admirers declared that she was exactly like
those classic nymphs, attendant on the god of Wine, whose laughing faces,
after the oblivion of hundreds of years, had been discovered beneath the
roots of vines in the fields around the city; she was also compared to
the famous Ariadne, with the firm outline, with the perfect features so
voluptuously curved; a different Ariadne from that painted by George

Every Sunday Sir William took his charmer to Caserta, where among the
fragrancies of orange and melon, of rose and lily, amid the sounds of
mandolines and guitars, Emma was ogled and quizzed, flattered and
praised; there she listened to the elegancies of the Austrian Prince who
assured her that she was "a diamond of the first water and the finest
creature on earth," and who, in the correct manner of a cicisbeo attended
her to her concerts, to her bath, to her promenade.

All this excitement she wrote about in her letter of August 1st to
Charles Greville. But with the cries of triumph were mingled cries of
heartbreak. He had written to her at last, and not kindly, but rather
with the impatience of a man bored with sentimentality and romance. He
had told her bluntly that never could she be his again and that she must
"oblige Sir William" and think herself fortunate for the opportunity of
doing so. Emma replied in the tone of a Clarissa Harlowe.

Nothing could express her rage; she was all madness; he, who used to envy
her smile, to advise her with cool indifference, to give herself to
another man! It was too much; she suggested dreadful alternatives--if she
were with him, she would murder him and slay herself; she would not have
a farthing from either of the gentlemen, she would return to London and
kill herself with excess of vice; her fate was a warning to young women
who tried to be "good."

Greville had taught her the ways of virtue, and then cast her off again
on to the path of vice. A girl that a King was sighing for to be so
lightly dismissed! But she would not complain--it was enough she had the
paper he had written on, the wafer that he had licked: "How I envy thee!
To take the place of Emma's lips"--she would give worlds if she had had
that kiss. But she could not rage long; she had a cold which made her
feel very ill; besides, there was her brilliant success to write about,
there was a charming present to acknowledge: "I am glad you have sent me
a blue hat and gloves. My hat is universally admired through Naples."

Then a sigh of good-humoured resignation. The young love was gone--why,
she must sell herself to the old man, but perhaps on her own terms. She
ended her letter with the sentence: "If you affront me, I will make him
marry me. God bless you for ever."

* * * * *

That was Emma's eighth letter and her last written to Charles Greville
before she resigned herself to become the mistress of Sir William
Hamilton. Her position in the society of Naples was quickly established,
and she was soon acknowledged as one of the wonders of the city; Naples
was always full of tourists and sightseers, and all of these must get to
see the fascinating Emma. Even discreet English ladies, careful of their
reputation, contrived to gloss the thing over, when they saw they could
not be received at the British Embassy on any other terms.

Useful rumours of a secret marriage were spread abroad and the Duchess of
Argyle, twice a British peeress and one of the famous Misses Gunning,
gave Emma her countenance when she visited Naples. Lady Elcho, too, was
kind to her, and though the salons of many of the Neapolitan aristocracy
remained closed to her, her life was as free from every social annoyance
as the life of one in her odd position possibly could be. Her "attitudes"
became one of the attractions of the brilliant capital.

In March 1787, a handsome young German poet, Goethe, visited Naples, and
noted in the inevitable journal that every traveller to Italy felt
obliged to keep: "The knight, Hamilton, who is still living here as
British Ambassador, after all his dabbling in art, after all his lengthy
studies in nature, has found the pinnacle of that art that nature can
afford. She lives in his house, an English girl of twenty years; she is
very beautiful and well-modelled. He has had a Greek robe made for her,
and it suits her excellently well. When she dons it she lets down her
hair, takes up a couple of shawls, and so changes her attitude, her
postures and her countenance, that a man at last comes to think he is
dreaming. He looks on what so many thousand artists have thought to
depict in the very flesh, moving before him through many poses. She
stands, she sits, she lies down, she kneels before you, now she is
serious, now she is sad, now she becomes most enticing, then she
withdraws, allures, approves, then gradually becomes shy. She knows how
to drape the folds of her shawl to suit each pose, and how to change them
again accordingly, and she makes a hundred different kinds of headgear
out of the same cloth. The old knight holds the light up to her, he gives
himself over heart and soul to this."

Sir William soon possessed a whole gallery of paintings of his charmer,
painted by Raphael Mengs, the fashionable Neapolitan painter, by Angelica
Kauffmann, by the fashionable French painter, Madame le Brun, who painted
her in her favourite attitude of a Bacchante, and found her very
beautiful indeed. Her face was cut on cameos and carved in stone; in
every possible way her features were immortalized and her singing was
almost as much admired as her beauty, and her attitudes. Sir William also
gave her lessons in deportment; he tried to finish the education Charles
Greville had begun; he told her how to move, how to speak, and even a
little how to spell. She picked up French and Italian very quickly, and
in these languages her Flintshire accent was not apparent; her youth, her
vivacity, her joy in herself covered up everything that might have
offended in one less lovely, or less self-assured.

* * * * *

It was true that the antics of the old man were a little
ridiculous--_Pantaleone_ in the flesh! The fine Italians laughed
behind Sir William's back, the ladies smiled behind their glittering
fans, the wits had their usual epigrams. The duenna, too, was most
amusing; Mrs. Cadogan, to the fastidious, might rather unpleasantly
foreshadow what Emma might become, but she was, at present, a piquant
contrast to Emma's rare charms.

The whole affair, to the jaded taste of Neapolitan Court society, had a
delicious air of novelty. Emma's peasant manners seemed to these
over-refined aristocrats to be deliciously "natural." Her simple vanity,
her joyous abandon to the pleasures of the moment, her free movements,
the dramatic swiftness of her poses, seemed to them to have the classic
nobility associated with the antiquity then so fashionable.

To the gentlefolk, a goddess from Olympus, to the common people Emma was
a saint, a madonna, an angel--to all, a wonder and a curiosity.

Emma soon reconciled herself to the loss of Greville; with a
good-humoured sigh for romance she settled down to a life of compensation
for lost illusion. She had not been in Naples a year, before she was
addressing Sir William in the same tone that she had used towards her
former lover. When he left her to go for a few days' hunting with the
King in the park at Caserta, she wrote to him at once in the arch style
she had learnt during her early adventures:

"Indeed, my dear Sir William, I am sorry. I told you one line would
satisfy me. When I have no other comfort than your letters you should not
so cruelly disappoint me, for I am unhappy and I don't feel right without
hearing from you, and I won't forgive you--no, that I won't."

The winter was exceptionally severe for the South of Italy; snow lay in
the narrow streets of Naples and frost glittered on the flat roofs of the
peach-coloured houses. It was quite a different cold from the clouded
damp that Emma had known in Flintshire or London, and it helped to set up
her spirits, and to give a sparkle to her eyes. She went richly in satin
and furs, and though those ladies of fashion who chanced to see her
whispered to one another that she showed an innate vulgarity when dressed
in fine clothes, and put aside her beauty with her classic robes and
poses, she continued to please the gentlemen very well. Madame de Boigne
and Madame le Brun might find fault with Emma, but they were in a

Her theme was still herself. With unctuous delight she wrote to her
protector of all her successes. She had been out to dine at one of the
houses which received her and where he allowed her to go, and where there
was such a profusion of food that it was impossible to describe; there
were compliments, songs and sighing, and the suave Italians had brought
out conventional similes of "diamond eyes" and "pearl teeth."

Purblind as he was, one there present, a certain abbé, had praised
her--"Oh, you can't think just as if he could see me and just as if I was
the most perfect beauty in the world."

Emma was pleased to tell her master also that she was praised for her
"perfectly beautiful and elegantly behaved manners and conversation." She
was becoming more careful too; she gave herself the air of dedicating her
beauty and herself entirely to Sir William. Modestly she objected that a
painting he was having done of her on a snuff-box lid was "too naked."
She had her copybook phrases trippingly on the pen:

"Those beauties that only you can see shall not be exposed to the common
eyes of all."

From the first few weeks of her stay in Naples she had noted his
obsession, she had observed that her hold over him was very different
from the hold she had had over her other lovers; she would have been a
very stupid girl, if she had not remembered, and Mrs. Cadogan would have
been a very remiss mother, if she had not reminded her, how very easily
she had been twice left by gentlemen whom she had seemed at one time to
please very much--she must not let fortune slip a third time through her

The man was old, older than he appeared under his trim exterior, and she
made a grimace over that; but the defect had its advantage too; she
perceived with good humour, for she was at this time without malice, that
Sir William was of that age when well-bred, fastidious, and brilliant
gentlemen, do very foolish things.

Indeed, she understood that she held him by the last surge of the
passions, by that half-senile adoration which caused his friends to sigh,
and the indifferent to snigger, and soon perceived that she might play
for marriage.

The sentence over which Charles Greville had shrugged his shoulders in
disdain: "If you affront me, I will make him marry me," was meant

Within a year she had become part of his life, and it was obvious to both
of them that they would never separate. Even in Naples, easy as it was,
she could not continue to live permanently as his mistress; already there
had been some difficulties.

A Mrs. Dickinson, who had shown herself prudish on the subject of Emma,
had to be, as the merry girl put it, "choked off," and even Sir William's
endless tact and adroit accomplishments in all manner of petty intrigues,
could not for ever maintain his false position.

Seeing Emma so admired, so successful, hearing that even the

Queen was prepared to look upon her with a favourable eye, knowing very
little more of her past than the easy Neapolitans knew, it did not seem
to Sir William so outrageous a thing that he should marry his treasure.

Already it had been convenient to spread abroad the rumour of a secret
marriage, so that the aristocratic English ladies he often had to
entertain at the Embassy might feel their delicacy satisfied. Then, this
success of Emma's was not the success of the ordinary kept woman who
could sparkle only in doubtful circles--it was the success of a great
beauty who could grace every occasion she attended; Emma did not have to
play very carefully so willing a fish.

That same bitter winter when it seemed to Emma colder than it had ever
been in England, she went in her favourite plain white dress with the
blue sash and Leghorn hat, under, however, a pelisse of sables, to visit
the Convent of Santa Romica, where the fashionable nuns led a gay and
charming life, and where they received Emma, as if she had indeed been an
angel from heaven, or rather an angel who had stepped from the canvas of
a Correggio or Raphael. For her part Emma thought she had never seen
anything quite so entrancing as the Mother Superior of this fashionable
convent, who was a charming lady of twenty-nine years of age, named
Beatrice Acquaviva, merry and arch. Brilliants flashed on her white hands
when she drew them from the depths of her fashionable muff and presented
Emma with an embroidered satin pocket-book, declaring that never had she
loved anyone so much; while Emma, who had seldom been so flattered by one
of her own sex before, thought her "the most good and amiable woman" she
had seen since she had come to Naples. Donna Beatrice was indeed very
flowery in her compliments, for she not only declared that Emma looked
like an angel, but she said she was a charming, kind creature, good to
the poor, and noble and generous--for such a one it would be worth while
to live.

To Emma's relief there was not one word of religion, but there was plenty
of good things to eat: "I promise you," she wrote, "they don't starve
themselves." Then with extremely bad taste, which did not however offend,
she gave Sir William the nuns' opinion of his late wife, who had also
visited the convent. "They did not like the looks of her--she was little,
short, pinch-faced, and received coldly." How different, said the
flattering nuns, from Emma, who was so tall and exactly like the marble
statues they had seen when they were in the world. It was all very
intoxicating and enough to turn anyone's head, and Emma found no
difficulty in expressing her gratitude to "good, kind, dearest Sir
William." and in writing to him as she had written to Charles Greville:
"Ah, what a happy creature is your Emma. She that had no friend, no
protector, nobody that I can trust [_sic_], and now to be the
friend, the Emma of Sir William Hamilton. Oh, if I could express myself,
if I have words to thank you, that I may not thus be choked with feelings
for which I can find no utterance."

She was learning to play and sing Handel, and her master, of course, was
delighted and declared it was the most extraordinary thing he ever knew,
especially "her holding on to the notes and going from the high to the
low notes so very neat," while Galucci, the musician who played the
_obbligato_ to her solos, seemed as if he would have gone mad with
admiration. He declared that Emma would turn the heads of everyone.

Her vanity increased under this adulation, until it filled her entire
world. She thought of nothing but the compliments she received and
repeated them, either to Greville, with whom she renewed her
correspondence, or to Sir William. She related how enchanted everybody
was, not only by her beauty, but her politeness, her dramatic and musical
talents--everyone who came to the Palazzo Sessa had compliments for her
accomplishments, her kindness, her good Italian.

* * * * *

When Emma had been eighteen months in Naples, Sir William ventured to
take her on a tour to some of the great country-houses, where the owners
would be gracious enough to receive her. In a gorgeous villa at Sorrento
Emma sang her songs and struck her attitudes to the admiration of a
glittering crowd of Italian nobility. There was sea-bathing every morning
and breakfast in a delicious little _gazebo_ which, on a jutting
rock, commanded a superb panorama of the Bay of Naples. Vesuvius was in
action, its smoke darkened half the azure of the sky, and again Emma's
facile pencil ran over the outlines of the rich landscape.

There was now a professor of music as well as a teacher of Latin in her
train, and every evening there were singing lessons in the great painted
_salon_ which was lit by wax tapers and opened on to the purple
night, the scene of every concert, where Emma with her heap of auburn
hair, her classic robe, her rich bravura, sang to Sir William Hamilton's
orchestra, arias from operas, _buffos_, some of the folk-songs of
Naples; she, dressed in character, with tambourine and coloured scarf.

By then Mr. Greville had been forgiven, and she was pleased to jot down
for his benefit all these triumphs, adding perhaps a little touch of
exaggeration, for she wrote: "In short, I left the people of Sorrento
with their heads turned, I left some dying, some crying and some in
despair. Mind you, these were all nobility and proud as the Devil, but we
humbled them."

The trip was in every way a success. At Ischia, an obliging Countess
covered her with kisses and admired the muslin chemise with the blue sash
which the English beauty had made famous. There was also a priest, who
lost his wits for love of Emma, and had to be comforted with her portrait
on a snuff-box. Emma, mounted on a donkey, also went some way up
Vesuvius, and viewed with the complacency of one entirely self-absorbed
the red-hot lava pouring down the sides of the mountain, licking up
pine-trees into sheets of fire and destroying, against all precedent, a
hermit's grotto in which hung several precious relics.

That same summer, while the volcano was providing an exciting background
to the frivolous pleasure-makers of Naples, Emma was taken to Sir
William's villa at Caserta, where he had at great expense redecorated
apartments for her and provided her with a music room. Her triumphs
continued and the eruption of the volcano seemed but a detail compared to
the importance of Emma and Emma's beauty. She was then entertained on
board a Dutch man-of-war, which came into the bay. She was given a salute
of twenty cannon and a banquet, and took the seat of honour at the board,
where Mrs. Cadogan also found a place; the Dutchmen were overwhelmed by
this vision of English beauty--the famous white muslin gown, blue sash,
straw hat and auburn curls, which Emma, a little over-excited on this
occasion, described "as curling round her heels" when she wrote an
account of the triumph to Greville.

She had hoped to attend the Opera that night at San Carlo, when the King
and Queen were to be present, but there had been so many compliments
paid, so many healths drunk, and so many salvos let off that when she at
last landed on the quay and got into the State coach which was to take
her and the Dutch officers to Sir William's box, she found there was no
time to put on the elaborate gown she had provided.

This had lately come from Paris and was a white and purple satin with
spangles, and a turban with a cluster of white feathers such as the Queen
of France wore. In it, Emma would have lost all distinction and looked
rather like a servant-girl in her mistress's finery.

Arriving late at the Opera in the muslin and the blue sash with the
flowing curls, she made, of course, a sensation.

There were other excitements to relate to Greville; "I must tell you I
had great offers to be first woman in the Italian Opera at Madrid, where
I was to have £6,000 for three years, but though I have not been
persuaded to make a written engagement, I certainly shall sing at the
Pantheon and Hanover Square except something particular happens. Sir
William says he will give me leave to sing at Hanover Square. It's the
most extraordinary thing that my voice is totally altered, it is the
finest soprano you ever heard, and what is most extraordinary is that my
shake or trill, what you call it, is so very good in every note my master
says that, if he did not feel that I was a woman he would think I was an
angel. Sir William is enraptured with me. He spares neither expense nor
pains nor anything." It is only right, Emma added seriously, that after
all this work with her singing and languages and drawing, she should have
exercise, so she went out for two hours a day in Sir William's carriage.

Signora Banti, first soprano at San Carlo, had come to one of Emma's
concerts and thrown herself into appropriate raptures. "Just God! What a
voice! I would give a good deal for your voice!"

"In short," said Emma frankly, "I met with such applause that it almost
turned my head. Banti sung after me and I assure you everyone said I sung
in a finer style than her. Poor Sir William was so enraptured with me."

She had forgotten the idyll of Paddington; she was quite on good-natured
terms with Charles Greville to whom, after all, she owed the introduction
to Sir William. He sent her, too, charming presents, which he put down to
Sir William's account. He purchased shawls, hats and gloves, for her
attitudes and posing; she ended her letters with gay postscripts. "I send
to you a kiss on my name. It is more than you deserve. Tell your brothers
to take care of their hearts when I come back. As for you, you will be
utterly undone, for Sir William already is distractedly in love, and
indeed I love him tenderly. He deserves it. God bless you."

Mr. Greville was not much moved by these epistles which probably were
exactly as he thought they would be. He was still, in a leisurely and
patient fashion, settling his affairs. The portrait of Emma as she sat
for him still stood in George Romney's studio; another connoisseur had
made an offer for it; Romney asked Greville if he would care to buy it,
but the Honourable Charles regretted that his purse would not run to this
luxury. Circumstances, he remarked sententiously, alter and control
feelings, "though it gave me some pain to part from the original of the
Seamstress, I do not feel myself in a position to buy her picture."

But with unabated zest Emma continued to write to her former lover of the
delicious life she was leading under the care of her new protector. In
letters full of gusto and bad grammar she told him again and again of all
her triumphs. When Sir William was out hunting she did the honours at the
Embassy--"and they are all enchanted with me." She emphasized the point
that "Sir William is really in love with me, more and more. He says he
cannot live without me. In short, I am universally beloved." She sang
tender arias that made everybody cry, the first tenor of the Opera
accompanied her in melting, romantic duets, but when she was crossed Emma
quickly reverted to the mood of Up Park. A certain Mrs. Stratford wished
to come and stay at the Embassy, but Emma soon stopped that, and inspired
Sir William to write that, if the lady wished to come to Naples, she
might stay at an inn; then, Emma quickly made herself mistress of a
letter which proved Mrs. Stratford to be by no means discreet, at which
Emma was not slow in at once giving the lady a coarse name which might
very well have been applied to herself by the ill-natured or the prudish.

Her self-assurance became overwhelming. "Sir William tells me I am
necessary to his happiness and I am the handsomest, loveliest, cleverest,
best creature in the world and no person shall come to disturb me."

In the spring of 1789 Emma accompanied the British Minister on a long
excursion into Calabria, where Emma played at being a good, obliging
girl, who did not mind a little hardship, and quickly acquired a
reputation for good-humour by not grumbling at the mean accommodation of
the Italian inns. These poor chambers were, no doubt, at least as
comfortable as had been those in the cottage at Hawarden.

On her return Sir William did up her apartment for her at the cost of
£4,000. He was beginning to spend money very freely. Emma cost him a good
deal more than she had cost Mr. Greville; large sums went in portraits
and statues to commemorate her exuberant charms; Madame Le Brun received
£100 for painting Emma with a wine-cup and an enormous quantity of
chestnut hair which completely covered her.

Emma's own allowance was not large, no more than £200 a year for herself
and her mother, but then, everything was paid for her, and hardly a day
passed but that she received presents. Much as she valued these there was
one splendour for which she was constantly sighing. She often coaxed and
pleaded with Sir William to give her diamonds, and in 1790 he gratified
her longing by an offering of these precious stones, which he had bought
at a bargain price of £500 and which made Emma supremely happy for quite
a long while.

The old man was now completely in her toils--he could no more escape from
his Emma than the fly can escape from the jar of honey into which it
falls. After nearly five years as his mistress, Emma was living as his
wife and doing the honours of the Embassy, presiding at concerts, balls
and entertainments; the lucky young woman had the sense to try to behave
herself: "I wish to be an example of good conduct, to show the world that
a pretty woman is not always a fool," she wrote to Greville. In the same
letter she apprised him of an approaching visit she and Sir William were
paying to London; Greville need not be afraid of her behaviour in
England. She was used, she said, to fine society: "On Monday last we gave
a concert and ball at our house. I had near four hundred persons, all the
foreign ministers and their wives, all the first ladies of fashion,
foreigners and Neapolitans. Sir William dressed me in white satin, no
colour about me, but my hair and cheeks; I was without powder. As it was
the first great assembly we had given publicly, all the ladies strove to
outdo one another in dress and jewels. Sir William said I was the finest
jewel among them." The letter ended complacently. "We shall be with you
in the spring and return here in November, and the next year you may pay
us a visit. We shall be glad to see you. I shall always esteem you for
your relationship to Sir William, and as having been the means of me
knowing him. As for Sir William, I confess to you I dote on him, nor can
I ever love any person but him."

Greville was not impressed by this letter with its rather impertinent air
of patronage, and its complete change of front. Since the day she had
written: "All must be as God and Greville pleases," he had not understood
what lay behind her excitement, what serious purpose was concealed by
these flourishes of pretty vanity.



In June 1791, Sir William and Emma were back in London. Greville was
shocked to see them openly living together; he thought this an outrage on
propriety, which might have been possible in Naples, but which would not
be tolerated in London. Emma laughed and Sir William smiled.

On September 6th, 1791, they were married at Marylebone Church with the
Marquis of Abercorn and a Mr. Dutens as witnesses. Emma signed the
register "Amy Lyon," writing the name for the last time; in the
_Gazette_ announcing the marriage she was described as Miss Hart.

Charles Greville was greatly vexed--he felt he had been fooled; there had
been no talk of marriage in his bond, and his relations with his wealthy
uncle became as cold and stiff as he dared make them. The letters
exchanged were somewhat frigid in tone, but what did Emma care? There
were others in London who were delighted to welcome her with tears of
lively gratitude. George Romney received her as if indeed she had been a
vision from that brighter world which was fast being clouded over for
him. For some time he had been sinking deeper into those glooms which
were soon to close for ever over his anguished mind. He had ceased to
take much pleasure in life and regarded his beloved art as so much
hack-work, and he was spending his time in sombre, solitary reveries,
when Emma stepped into the studio, radiant in a Turkish dress, announcing
her triumph, her marriage, showing off her resplendent beauty, which had
increased since Romney had last painted her, and was now indeed in its
full flower.

He at once began to sketch and paint her again, put all other work aside
that he might study from this model. He named her "The Divine Lady,"
adding: "I cannot give her any other epithet, for I think her superior to
all womankind." He was commissioned to paint two pictures of her for that
expert in female beauty, the Prince of Wales. He even went so far as to
abandon his usual unsocial habits and to give a party for her in his
studio, where she might display her attitudes. In terms of hyperbole he
wrote of this occasion to his friend Hayley: "She performed those both
the serious and the comic to admiration, both in singing and acting, but
her Nina surpassed anything I ever saw. The whole company were in an
agony of sorrow and her acting was simple, grand, terrible, pathetic. My
mind was so much heated that I was for running down to fetch you up to
see her."

Soon after, the charming lady, absorbed as she was in a thousand
pleasures, neglected her visits to the studio, and Romney, suspecting
unjustly a studied neglect, fell into a deeper gloom, and wrote: "It is
highly probable that none of the pictures will be finished, except I find
her more friendly than she appeared to me the last time I saw her." The
painter's terrible affliction took the form of doubt and suspicion, and
he was already so unbalanced in mind as to see even in the blooming,
friendly face of Emma, coldness and disdain. A few days later Emma had
returned and the painter was in raptures. "Sketching the most beautiful
head of her I have ever painted yet, for her mother," and noting, "I
think indeed she is cordial with me as ever and she laments very much
that she is to leave England without seeing you."

He painted her also as Joan of Arc, a brilliant headpiece, which was left

Emma's poses and songs were successful everywhere; she was offered £2,000
a year and two benefits to sing at the Opera, and Sir William said
complacently that "he had engaged her and for life." As a climax to all
this London gaiety and excitement, the bridegroom took his Emma to see
the millionaire hermit of Font-hill, William Beckford, a man much of his
own type, save that he chanced to be a genius; the two men were cousins,
one degree removed, and had always maintained friendly relations.
Beckford was rather more than eccentric; his reputation was tarnished by
scandalous rumours that were never either completely proved or disproved.
No one knew whether William Beckford had withdrawn in cold disdain from a
world he despised or retired in panic from the hostility of his fellows.
Sir William, at least, did not care, and to Emma, Fonthill and Beckford
were a kind of peep-show, to be gaped at without being understood.

Fonthill, in Wiltshire, where the author of _Vathek_, the most
gifted amateur that ever graced English literature, lived in gorgeous
retirement with a French _abbé_ and a few obsequious companions, was
a nightmare imagined by a genius. William Beckford had pulled down the
handsome mansion that his father, the wealthy Lord Mayor, had raised, and
had built a fantasy, only possible to a genius and a millionaire, with a
monstrous top-heavy tower, which had cost £20,000, an English park
circled by walls that gave an air of Eastern scenery to a domain that was
like a dream of Asia, expressed in the terms of the Gothic revival.

Beckford's huge chambers and long galleries were filled by treasures that
were reputed to be of fabulous value; odd proportions, fantastic objects,
lofty ceilings, arched windows, gave an air of bizarre enchantment to
this weird interior, to which Beckford had endeavoured to give the lurid,
smoky atmosphere of the Hall of Eblis.

The huge fortune and large income (£1,000,000 in hand and £100,000 a
year) that Beckford derived from his Jamaican estate, were expended in
this outlandish display, in the midst of which he moved, not in the guise
of a wizard or Arabian potentate, but in that of a fastidious English
gentleman, delicate and slender, with a fine profile and attired in neat
green and buff; he was then under forty years of age and engaged in
building a vast abbey in his grounds.

Sir William viewed his cousin's statues, pictures and prints, with shrill
cries of envy--but he would not, for all the nightmare of virtuosity that
encumbered Fonthill, have surrendered one charm of the wifely Emma, who
hung so coaxingly on his arm, and who so prettily pressed Mr. Beckford to
visit the British Embassy at Naples.

* * * * *

Only an eccentric like Beckford could have condoned this crazy marriage,
for the rest, London had sniggered, gossiped, and held aloof.

Sir William's relatives had done what they could to dissuade him from so
ridiculous a match, but he had replied with pettish humour that he was
marrying Emma "for himself alone"; in that he was mistaken.

Horace Walpole remarked that "Sir William was marrying his gallery of
antique statues" and added pertinently, that he was surprised that there
should be so much talk of the classic Emma's change of expression, since
expression was what antiques did not possess. However, the difficult wit
admitted that Lady Di, who had seen one of Emma's displays, had found
that her poses were very beautiful and striking. But the new Lady
Hamilton, according to her custom, avoided all society where she was not
likely to be received with applause, and decided soon to quit that London
where she might meet one of the gentlemen from Up Park, someone who had
seen her as a nursemaid, as a grisette, as the quiet little mistress of
Charles Greville.

Thomas Lawrence painted her--finding her "very agreeable to the eye of an
artist." Romney tried to hurry through as many likenesses of her as
possible in the time she could give him, Sir Joshua Reynolds represented
her as a laughing Bacchante. In his white mansion on the green banks of
the Thames at Richmond, where weeping-willows and stately swans, floating
on the grey river, found a pretty background for some of the more
broadminded of London society, the Duke of Queensberry entertained the
bride--the handsome Bacchante was quite agreeable to one who had the
reputation of being a satyr.

There Horace Walpole at last saw the famous poses and was
ravished--Emma's singing, too, was admirable--she sung "Nina" to

There was a dark side to these triumphs; despite his friendship with the
King, Sir William dared not take his lady to Court; the wife of the
British Minister at Naples had to leave London without dropping a curtsy
to the Queen.

Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, with her plain, pug face, her Bible
and her wool-work, her happy marriage that had not created happiness for
others, was not considered of much importance in a society where virtue
was associated with dullness, but she remained staunch to her ideals; she
had heard something of the past of Lady Hamilton, and Emma was not
received at St. James's Palace.

Paris held compensations. Emma powdered the rich fleece of hair, put in
it, among her feathers, her five hundred pounds' worth of diamonds, laced
herself into brocaded satins, and made her curtsy before the Queen of
France, whose weak eyes were already stained with secret weeping, whose
haughty face had long since hardened into a passive defiance of an
implacable destiny.

The National Assembly had been sitting for nearly two years, in this
September of 1791, and France was already split from side to side by the
first shudderings of the incredible upheaval that was soon to come.

But on the surface--and it was always on the surface with Emma--Paris was
gay enough, with the fading chestnut-trees yellow in the thick golden
air, with the smart shops in the Palais Royal showing a seductive array
of novelties for an Ambassador's lady's choice, with the gaily curtained
windows through which less fortunate Emmas peeped to see if any rich old
men were looking up, the well-filled theatres, the costly equipages that
rolled over the cobbles, and only here and there a hint of change in a
short-haired, dark-trousered deputy, in the tone of the free caricatures
in the print-shop windows, in the tricolour stuck here and there
incongruously, in the distant mutter of the ironic refrain--_liberté,
égalité, fraternité_.

So, with no notion of the first whisperings of the whirlwind that was
blowing so near, Sir William and his Emma rolled back to Naples across
the Italian cornfields and vineyards, through the last profusion of
autumn flowers and under gaudy southern skies, with the Hamilton livery
on the lackeys, and maids, and quantities of baggage.

Emma's gratitude to her kind husband overflowed; by the simple standards
of her class he had made an "honest woman of her," she was now honourable
and innocent, a wedding-ring had dowered her with all the virtues
necessary to gain feminine respect.

She had taken many poses in real life besides those she had taken in "the
attitudes," and now she had assumed another, as novel as delicious, that
of the married woman.

Her reception at Naples exceeded her expectations; since she delighted in
describing her own triumphs, she detailed her success to poor George
Romney in a letter that besought him to come to Naples, a kindly thought;
Sir William would pay the expenses, and it would be delicious to have the
adoring painter at her feet in Naples.

There was honest satisfaction with her astonishing luck, mingled with the
hypocritical phrases that Emma felt to be proper to the occasion.

"I have been received with open arms by all the Neapolitans of both
sexes, by all the foreigners of every distinction. I have been presented
to the Queen of Naples by her own desire. She [h]as shown me all sorts
of kind and affectionate attentions. In short, I am the happiest woman in
the world. Sir William is fonder of me every day, and I hope he will have
no cause to repent of what he [h]as done; for I feel so grateful to him,
that I think I shall never be able to make him amends for his goodness to
me. But why do I tell you this? You know me enugh. You were the first
dear friend I opened my heart to. You ought to know me, for you have seen
and discoursed with me in my poorer days. You have known me in my poverty
and prosperity, and I had no occasion to have liv'd for years in poverty
and distress, if I had not felt something of virtue in my mind. Oh, my
dear Friend! for a time I own through distress my virtue was vanquish'd.
But my sense of virtue was not overcome. How gratefull now then do I feel
to my dear, dear, husband, that [h]as restored peace to my mind, that
[h]as given me honor, rank, and, what is more, innocence and happiness.
Rejoice with me, my dear Sir, my friend, my more than father. Believe me,
I am still that same Emma you knew me. If I could forget for a moment
what I was, I ought to suffer. Command me in anything I can do for you
here. Believe me, I shall have a real pleasure. Come to Naples, and I
will be your model:--anything to induce you to come, that I may have an
oppertunity to shew you my gratitude to you. Take care of your health for
all our sakes. How does the pictures go on? Has the Prince been to you?
Write to me."

Then Emma had another kind thought; she wanted to pay a compliment to Mr.
Dutens, who had been one of the witnesses at her marriage before the
altar which had replaced that where Hogarth's Rake had stood with his old
heiress--would Romney give him the little picture of herself that he had

It was a valuable present, and Emma had not paid for it; she always
contrived so that others paid for everything to do with her; when Mr.
Greville himself had become coldly restive about paying for little Emma,
the mother had contrived to shift the bothersome child on to Sir
William--a protegée of her's, whom she was looking after out of
kindness--how often the word occurred in Emma's affairs!

Sir William accepted this simple tale without question and the Blackburns
continued to receive little Emma's allowance but from the uncle instead
of from the nephew.

The new Ambassadress's first winter at Naples was a triumph; when the
Queen had received her, everyone else could do so.

"We have a many English at Naples as Ladys Malmsbury, Malden, Plymouth,
Carneigee, Wright, &c. They are very kind and attentive to me. They all
make it a point to be remarkably civil to me. You will be happy at this
as you know what prudes our ladies are."

She was quite happy at it herself; at last she had learned all she ever
need know--how to please a gentleman who was worth pleasing.

She told Romney that she was reading _The Triumphs of Temper_ by his
friend Hayley, and that nothing had vexed her since her
marriage-day--with respectability had come peace, and Sir William should
never fear that she would be out of humour.

It was not only her amiability that held her husband; he was sixty years
of age, and she was the last love of this _flâneur_ who had had too many
loves; with the last despairing ardour of failing passions he doted upon
her superb femininity, which was a little more costly than any other
treasure he had ever bought, but undoubtedly more worth the price.

* * * * *

The Queen of Naples had her reasons for receiving so graciously the new
Lady Hamilton; European affairs had changed in the five years since Maria
Carolina had first heard of the new English lady at the Palazzo Sessa who
might amuse her royal husband as transiently as so many other women had
amused him; Sir William was no longer, to the Queen, a mere agreeable
companion, a pleasant ornament of her idle Court, he was the
representative of Great Britain, a country which, in the present
combination of European politics, might prove of infinite importance to
the Sicilian Bourbons.

It was obvious that his wife dominated him, and therefore obvious that
the Queen must gain over the wife. Maria Carolina did not find this
either difficult or distasteful; the daughter of the Caesars and the
English peasant-girl had much in common. Emma, who had dragged herself up
from the mud solely by the adroit use of her charms, was no more stupid,
vulgar, selfish or hysterical than the high-bred daughter of an Emperor.
Indeed, in a comparison between the two women's characters Emma would
have had the advantage; she was neither so vindictive, so superstitious,
nor so pretentious as the Queen, who, besides, lacked all the good humour
that softened the Englishwoman's monstrous vanity.

* * * * *

Maria Carolina had been born in Vienna on August 13th, 1752, and was
therefore three years older than her sister, Marie Antoinette, Queen of
France. In the spring of 1768 she had been married to Ferdinand the
Fourth. Her betrothal had followed the death of two sisters, both
destined to be Queens of Naples. On the birth of the Crown Prince in 1775
she had received a seat on the Council and had begun to dominate entirely
Neapolitan politics; she and her favourite, Sir John Acton, an English
baronet, from 1791, entirely ruled the kingdom between them--her supreme
authority being only occasionally disturbed by outbursts of jealousy from
the King, such as that which had set the French Chargé d'affaires
gossiping in 1778. The misgovernment of the Queen and the rapacity of her
minister were both an agony and a jest in Naples. Her mischief-making was
incessant, her domination absolute; she regarded Naples and every person
and everything in the country as her children's patrimony, to be treated
as she pleased; she had no ideals higher than those of Court and
intrigue, and her keenest ambition was to unite herself to Austria by
intermarriages between her children and those of the other members of the
House of Hapsburg. It was said of her "_la vie de la reine n'est qu'une
longue crise de vapeurs_." When her brother, the Emperor Joseph the
second, died in 1790 and Leopold, Grand Duke of Tuscany, succeeded, the
Queen contrived an alliance between Naples and the Empire, which took the
form of a triple wedding--her daughter Teresa married the Emperor's
eldest son, the Archduke Francis of Tuscany, Amelia married the Archduke
Ferdinand; the Prince Royal, still too young to marry, was affianced to
the Princess Clementine, sister of the Archdukes. This was very
satisfactory to the restive Queen, who, ruling as an absolute monarch in
Naples, and having her children handsomely betrothed or married, might
have considered that things were going very well for her, had it not been
for the horribly disagreeable news from France.

Although, like too many members of her House and like most of those of
her husband's House, the Queen kept her eyes shut to everything about
her, save what happened in her intimate circle, and although she had no
conception of modern tendencies or of the trend of events in Europe, she
could not for long remain oblivious of the French upheaval, which seemed
likely to cast the thrones of her sister and brother-in-law into ruin.
Maria Carolina possessed much of that passionate family affection which
is largely passionate family pride. She was a good mother and her
children were loved with the fierce possessiveness of the tigress for her

There could not have been much personal feeling in her anxious love for
Marie Antoinette, who had left Vienna to be married in her fifteenth
year. Two years afterwards Maria Carolina herself had departed for
Naples, so that the sisters had known each other only as children. They
were, however, sisters, and Royal sisters, and Maria Carolina could not
forget that the present Queen of France was a Hapsburg. She was
terrified, moreover, on her own account; her husband was a Bourbon and
not superior in intelligence, courage or resource, to Louis XVI, though
his very vices might make him more popular in Naples than the King of
France had ever been in Paris. As the French Revolution spread, from the
year 1789 to the years 1791-92, when Lady Hamilton installed herself in
triumph in the Palazzo Sessa, Maria Carolina was watching with intense
alarm and fury the progress of events in her sister's Kingdom.

The Liberal ideas that began to be voiced under the Gironde, and that
seemed to so many ardent and sensitive people all over Europe like so
many messages of hope and relief, were to the Queen of Naples incredibly
vile and dangerous, but what really shocked her so deeply that she lost
all the little patience and reason that she might have ever possessed was
the knowledge that these same hideous doctrines were creeping into her
own Kingdom.

Like all arbitrary governors, she and Sir John Acton employed an
elaborate system of espionage, and through this they learned that the
brilliant intellectuals of Naples, the cultured aristocracy, and the
scholarly middle classes were riddled by what the Queen termed "the
blackest treachery," but which was in reality an enthusiastic enquiry
into all modern and liberal ideas and a grave, if necessarily secret,
resolve to reform their own country.

When the Queen had first come to Naples, she had dabbled a little in
philosophy, in poetry and music; she had loved to preside at meetings in
elegant drawing-rooms where ladies touched the harpsichord or the guitar,
where there were charming little philosophic discussions between learned
priests and flattering bluestockings, and, ignorant and stupid as she
was, she had been quick to catch up a few superficial catchwords and
stale witticisms, which had been sufficient to give one of Royal birth a
reputation for culture and intelligence.

But when the Queen heard that these same witty ladies whom she had
patronized, these same learned abbés, doctors, botanists, antiquarians
and scientists, were meeting together under the excuse of freemasonry,
clubs, literary societies and academies, to discuss politics, her rage
and fear amounted to panic.

She and Sir John Acton at once resolved to crush all Liberal tendencies
in Naples as swiftly as they would have crushed a poisonous snake, had it
come winding among the luscious dishes of a picnic held on the grass of
the Palace lawns.

* * * * *

This, however, was not to be so easily accomplished, even by a Queen with
a furious passion for governing and a minister willing to obey her in
every detail. The Government of the Kingdom of Naples embodied a chaotic
mass that had originated in Roman, Ecclesiastical and Feudal Law, on
which had been superimposed the Charters of the various conquerors of the
country from the Norman to the Arragonese. Such efficient laws as there
were a system of complete and shameless corruption prevented from being
carried into effect. Naples, on which the Queen now cast such an angry
and suspicious eye, was, next to Paris, the largest city in Europe. Out
of a population of 437,000, 30,000 were _lazzaroni_, vagabonds,
fishermen or small tradesmen. There was a large population of idlers, who
lived at the expense of the wealthy, as well as some heavily endowed
convents and nunneries. Added to these two burdens on the State was the
enormous number of monks and priests, of whom there was said to be one in
every twenty-two of the population. Neither the Queen nor Sir John Acton,
however, nor even the King himself, had any dislike to the
_lazzaroni_, the monks, priests and nuns, and the idlers whom they
maintained, for these were loyal to the House of Bourbon and wished for
no reform whatever in a system of government under which they did so
remarkably well.

What the Queen began to dread was the native aristocracy and the literary
and scientific men who, under noble patronage, had founded many new
Chairs in the University of Naples, Academies of Painting, Sculpture and
Architecture, had endowed libraries and museums, founded a school of
anatomy, a chemical laboratory, and a botanical garden.

The reports that the Royal spies brought in showed the Queen with
alarming clearness that all these people, including many of the greatest
families in the Kingdom, were infected with the new doctrine which seemed
to have taken such appalling hold in France, and without a second's pause
to consider what might be the rights or wrongs of the matter, who these
people really were and what they really represented, Maria Carolina began
at once to regard them as her natural enemies, as a most dangerous menace
to her House and her family, to be stamped out at the first possible

When, at the end of 1791, the Queen so warmly welcomed Lady Hamikon not
only to her Court, but to her bosom, she had been for some time harassed
by all these terrible problems, of which the "lady of the poses" knew

On the Queen's return from Vienna, where she had been to be present at
the wedding of her children to their cousins, the King and Queen had
heard much disturbing news of the state of Europe. They had stopped at
Rome, and had there found, living under Papal protection, the two aunts
of Louis XVI, the Princesses Adelaide and Victoire, who had thought it
well to hasten from Paris before the tide of revolution rose any higher.
These ladies had entertained Maria Carolina with heartrending accounts of
the plight of the Royal Family of France, of the abominable behaviour of
the revolutionaries, and of the incredible martyrdom that appeared to be
waiting for the Hapsburg Princess who was Queen of France and Navarre.

Maria Carolina had returned to Naples in a state of fierce nervous
tension. She resolved not to find herself in her sister's predicament, if
energy or ingenuity could prevent it; she began by heavily policing the
city, putting the new force under the command of a certain Luigi di
Medici, on whom she believed she could rely. She also greatly extended
the espionage system so that nobody, neither the professor in his
laboratory, nor the poet in his cabinet, nor the lawyer studying his
case, nor the peaceful family in their parlour, was free from the
observation and snares of spies. Everything that was Liberal, that was
cultured, that was advanced, that was free, was to be suppressed, and, if
possible, persecuted. Not idle in other directions, the Queen, who
possessed the extraordinary energy that shallow, passionate women so
often misdirect, started on shipbuilding by day and night, filled the
arsenals with cannons and munitions of all kinds, quartered troops in
every village in the Kingdom, called upon the nobles to supply horses and
horsemen, conscripted the peasants, and invited foreign volunteers to
enrol themselves as hirelings in the Neapolitan Army.

The progress of the revolution in France justified Maria Carolina's most
sombre fears; every time she opened the Gazette she read bad news. She
shared her alarms, her misgivings, and her furies with her dear Lady
Hamilton, who, thus whirled so suddenly into high politics, knew nothing
about any of it, but was quite sure that a Queen in distress must be
right and was perfectly prepared passionately to champion the woman who
offered her this dazzling friendship. Nothing would have pleased her
better than to help her agonized Majesty to the best of her power, but
for the moment there did not seem anything she could do. Sir William was
harassed and did not know which way the British Government would lead; he
found the whole imbroglio inexpressibly boring--why did a world which
held the Tuscan vases and Emma, music and soft Italian airs, also hold
revolutionaries, wars, and such tiresome creatures as reformers and

It seemed as if England would allow the French to turn their country
upside down unaided. In 1792 William Pitt declared that he expected
fifteen years of peace; the same year saw the Empire and Prussia at grips
with France.

Maria Carolina, distracted with ravaging emotions, wished above
everything to help her sister and her brother-in-law, but she had not the
power to move either hand or foot.

After the King and Queen of France had been taken back to Paris from
their abortive flight to Varennes, the Emperor had refused to receive the
French Ambassador at Vienna, and the Baron de Talleyrand had resigned his
post at Naples leaving his secretary, as chargé d'affaires. Maria
Carolina did what she could by withdrawing the Neapolitan Ambassador, the
Marchese di Circillo, from Paris, and by permitting him to intrigue with
the French émigrés at Brussels. She dared not, however, break off all
diplomatic relations with France and she was obliged to accept M. de
Mackau, the new Ambassador sent by the Gironde Government. He chanced to
be an aristocrat, his mother had been "_gouvernante des enfants de
France_." and so, he was able to make himself more or less tolerable
at the Court at Naples, where he preached moderation and tried to break
the Austrian alliance.

The atmosphere of Naples was tense with fear and rage, the Queen hating
and dreading the French, the aristocracy and the intellectuals hating and
dreading the Queen and the Court, war rumbling in the background and no
one knowing which way Bellona would unloose her hounds, while the
representative of Britain fussed and lamented, did not quite know what to
do, and tried to forget everything in the pleasure of the concerts where
Emma sang, or of the receptions where she posed in her alcove.

The Queen went as far as she dared in affronting France, and it was
further than most women would have dared; but when the Neapolitan
frigate, the _Sirene_, chased two Algerian pirates into French
waters, Naples had to apologize to Paris. There were some affronts,
however, that the Queen could not swallow. When M. de Mackau put up the
tricolour cockade before his residence, and then waited on the King on
August 24th, when the news of the taking of the Tuileries had reached
Naples, the Queen showed her hand and refused to receive the
representative of revolutionaries and rebels. Nor could M. de Mackau
obtain satisfaction though a stormy scene passed between him and Sir John

The Queen of Naples's brother, Leopold, died and was succeeded by his son
Francis, who was married to Maria Carolina's daughter.

A Republic was proclaimed in France and M. de Mackau, although his papers
were from Louis XVI, performed a sharp _volte-face_ and remained in
Naples as representative of the French people; he was watched by the
Neapolitan police and Court spies to see that he was not in touch with
the aristocrats and the intellectuals whom Maria Carolina termed
"revolutionaries and Jacobins."

Hysterical with fear and vexation, however, the Queen had to give way on
the arrival of a French Fleet in the bay and of the news of the defeat of
the Austrians and Prussians at Valmy, followed by that of the French
invasion of Nice and Savoy; Britain did not move, no satisfaction was to
be gained from Sir William or his sympathetic lady. Naples had to play
for time and recognize the French Republic, while M. de Mackau, tricolour
or no, had to be received at the Court of Naples.

* * * * *

All these excitements Emma looked upon as the necessary, rather
monotonous background of a diplomatic life--they disturbed her no more
than the sullen rumblings and lurid flashes from Vesuvius did. After all,
the mountain had never yet dangerously erupted during her stay in Naples,
and the revolution might be equally considerate. She continued her
entertainments, her trips on horseback along the enchanting coast, and
her sailings in a canopied boat on the bay, nor did she cease to practise
her songs and her music, to invent new attitudes to charm Sir William and
his guests.

The old Minister, however, did not enjoy any diversion, not even his
Emma's poses, with his former relish. The excitement of pursuing,
possessing, and marrying Emma had been rather exhausting for one of his
decaying physique. He began, despite his care of his health, to pay for a
lifetime of persistent, if elegant, indulgence, and during the summer of
1792 was continually laid up with attacks of biliousness and dysentery,
which caused Emma to think rather dubiously of the future. It caused her
also to think of Charles Greville, and to play with a not altogether
displeasing idea. Perhaps, after all, they might enjoy the old man's
money together. In the end of the year she wrote to him very formally,
the aunt to the nephew by marriage, with fitting sentiment and

"Dear Sir,

"I have the pleasure to inform you that Sir William is out of danger and
very well considering the illness he has had to battle with. He has been
fifteen days in bed with a bilious fever, and I have been almost as ill
with anxiety, apprehension and fatigue. His disorder has been long
gathering and was a liver complaint. I need not tell you, my dear Mr.
Greville, what I have suffered...I was eight days without undressing,
eating or sleeping."

Emma found, however, as usual, compensation. "The English ladies and the
Neapolitans have been so kind; though they were at Caserta, fifteen miles
from Naples, Lady Plymouth, Lady Webster, several others, have sent twice
a day, the King and Queen, morning and night, the most flattering

Still, as Emma reflected, what would all this mean if Sir William were
lost? "For surely no happiness is like ours. We live but for one another.
Pray excuse me," added the lady of sensibility, "but you, sir, who loved
Sir William, may figure to yourself my situation at that moment."

Emma had not written to the Honourable Charles wholly in an attempt to
revive her charming image in his dry heart, nor to remind him how
dutifully she had nursed his uncle through an unbecoming illness. She
entrusted him with a little commission which did credit to her good

Would he please see that her grandmother, whose address was still Mrs.
Kidd, Hawarden, Flintshire, received the £20 that Emma had undertaken to
send her every Christmas? "I have two hundred a year for nonsense and it
would be hard if I could not give her twenty pounds, as she has so often
given me her last shilling."

The order was not to be got from Sir William, as he was too ill, and as
Emma did not seem able to raise the money herself, why would Mr. Greville
pay it? Sir William would refund later. "The fourth of November last I
had a dress on that cost £25...Believe me, I felt unhappy all the while I
had it on."

Yet Emma had not been able to save the price of these fineries to send to
her old grandmother, but must have this charity put to Sir William's

This letter was written in December, and in the following February
exciting news came to Naples. Chauvin, the Minister of the French
Republic, had been asked to leave London, and war had been declared by
Great Britain on France in February, 1793.

This was some balm to the woes, lamentations, and hysterical excitement,
of the Queen of Naples, whom Emma had done her best to comfort and
support during those anxious winter months.

* * * * *

Not only the Queen, but the woman, had been outraged by the terrible
accounts of her sister's suffering; Maria Carolina endured almost step by
step the martyrdom of Marie Antoinette, until, on the news of the arrest
of Louis XVI and his family, she had sunk for a while, overwhelmed by
this blow, which struck not only at her family affection, but her firmly
rooted family pride, and her implacable belief in the sanctity of

Emma sympathized passionately with all this Royal fury. She was willing
to believe that all Frenchmen were monsters, the Queen of France a saint.
She took an eager part in the campaign, instigated by the Queen, which
made the lives of every French person living in Naples, every
liberal-minded person, from aristocrats to shopkeepers, insupportable;
the drama in which she lived enriched her personality. When she sang her
dramatic songs, her voice took on a fuller, more emphatic note; when she
struck her impressive attitudes, they became those of an avenging
goddess, hastening to rescue a Queen in distress. A certain womanly
affection grew up between these two vain, undisciplined creatures; Emma
became really fond of Maria Carolina, who to her was indeed adorable, a
gracious Queen, a devoted mother, a charming friend. Unhampered by any
scruples, delicacy or reserve, the two women gossiped, lamented, condoled
together, with freedom and zest, they had many vices and a few virtues in
common. The Queen gave Emma carriages and horses with her livery; they
wandered together in the huge gardens of Caserta or sat in the sun-washed
chambers of the palace; they strolled together to the baths or loitered
side by side in groves of tamarisk and myrtle, the Queen raving about the
atrocious horrors of the French Revolution, the insolence of the
Neapolitan aristocracy, the appalling growth of atheism and republicanism
in the world, and Emma listening eagerly, and agreeing heartily, and with
complete sincerity.

* * * * *

Maria Carolina was not without personal attractions, and they were such
as would be likely to impress Emma Hamilton; Her Majesty was then forty
years of age and still possessed a certain beauty, a smooth pink and
white Hapsburg complexion, the full, impressive, Hapsburg underlip, blue
eyes, keen and formidable, but, like those of Marie Antoinette, weak and
red-lidded. Her jaw was too powerful, her forehead too high. Though her
walk was majestic, her limbs were clumsy; her arms and hands, however,
were well-rounded and delicate. Some critics considered her far more
beautiful than the Queen of France, some far less. Both the sisters were
able to play the dignified Princess to perfection, and looked superb with
towering structures of hair, knots of jewels, clusters of ribbons and
feathers, gems and pearls on the corsage, like a cuirass, with embroidery
and trailing brocades, and satins in yards of stiff, flounced skirts.
Both these Austrian arch-duchesses were very suited to sit for a
_portrait de parade_, and both could very well become a throne, both
were as much in place in the grandeur of a State ball as they were
disastrously out of place in the state cabinet.

Maria Carolina, however, unlike Marie Antoinette, had no passion for
dress, and on ordinary occasions was as careless and as untidy as Emma
herself, and, in a neglected chamber-robe, with her hair unbound, lost
her beauty and her distinction and disappointed the spectator as much as
did Emma, when she descended from the dais, put out the candles, took off
her Greek robe and slipped into an unbecoming, fashionable dress.

* * * * *

The menace of the French Revolution became an obsession with the harassed
Queen; she did not lack energy or courage and would willingly have cast
herself against France with every ducat and every soldier she could

But neither the King, comfortable and complacent, nor Sir John Acton,
cynical and incapable, dared to make any stand against the arms of the
Republic so oddly victorious.

A painful incident forcibly brought home to Maria Carolina her utter

The French Minister at Genoa, Semonville, had been writing and publishing
pamphlets in favour of Republicanism, despite the efforts of Sir John
Acton, who continued to intrigue against him at the Porte, where he had
afterwards been sent. Semonville complained to his Government and soon
after the French Fleet under the command of Admiral La Touche put into
Naples and demanded satisfaction, _égal à ègal_ for the treatment
that Semonville had received in Constantinople. This was a day of acute
humiliation for the Neapolitan Court, and one of great satisfaction for
the intellectuals of Naples.

Not only did the warships of France overawe the great city and overwhelm
the frigates in the bay, not only did the loathed tricolours flutter by
the dozen in the same air as that which Maria Carolina breathed, but a
simple grenadier of the National Guard came ashore, walked unescorted and
unarmed to the imposing entrance of the Royal Palace, and delivered a
sharp ultimatum from Admiral La Touche. The guns of the French Fleet were
pointed on Naples and King Ferdinand had one hour in which to decide
whether they should be fired or not.

While the Republican soldier waited contemptuously amid the leering,
timid, Bourbon lackeys in the gilded antechamber, Ferdinand, flabby with
fright, dictated terms of abject submission in his painted cabinet.

Naples cringed before the Convention, and the ponderous French ships
moved slowly out of the bay, in the pocket of La Touche the grovelling
surrender of the Sicilian Bourbon.

There were many Neapolitans who watched the departure of the tricolour
with keen regret.

* * * * *

This incident was a horrible warning to the Queen that she was not strong
enough to strike at France; she felt her position to be intolerable and
resorted to foolish, treacherous, and cruel means to gain her ends. Maria
Carolina was the type to whom La Rochefoucauld referred, when he wrote of
those who "were rogues because they had not wit enough to be honest."

Never for one second could the passionate woman see any points of view
save her own, nor even dimly realize that an honourable, tolerant policy
might bring success where dishonourable fanaticism would fail.

The Queen was unleashed for mischief; in all her designs she had Sir John
Acton, "endowed with every talent necessary for intrigue," at her
service, and Emma, representing Great Britain, to flatter and encourage.
Little did Emma know or care what might be the outcome of it all, she was
the Queen's champion and reckless of everything save the moment's

Maria Carolina did what she dared to annoy and insult the Minister of the
French Republic in Naples, but she was forced to countenance the sending
of a Neapolitan Ambassador, the Prince di Castelcicala, to Paris, while
she filled her arsenals, equipped her army and navy, and strengthened her
secret police and her spies.

The political position of Naples was not good; the King was on bad terms
with his nearest neighbour, the Pope, to whom he had refused the annual
tribute of a white hackney with eight thousand ounces of gold, which had
been sent to Rome by all former Kings of Naples.

M. de Mackau cunningly exploited this trouble between the two countries,
and the Papal States themselves were being irritated and insulted by
Mackau's secretary, the parvenu Hugo de Bassville, who, under the excuse
of negotiating with His Holiness, was making himself very unpleasant in
the streets of the Eternal City, calling the Cardinals "Purple geese of
the Capitol," and referring to the two refugee Princesses, the daughters
of Louis XV, as the _Demoiselles Capet_.

The haughty Romans soon put an end to this irritating foreigner; acting
under Mackau's orders, Bassville spoke to Cardinal Zelada, the Papal
Secretary of State, about the French Consul's still having the
_fleur-de-lis_ over his door. On receiving an unsatisfactory reply,
Bassville so far lost his head as to endeavour to put the emblem of the
Republic over the Academy of Painting in the Villa de' Medici. This
insolence so infuriated the mob that they tore him to pieces in the
street, before the authorities could intervene, and Mackau, furious at
the murder of his secretary, endeavoured to goad Naples into war with

* * * * *

At this critical moment arose the extraordinary situation that was
created by the execution of Louis XVI and the general European coalition
against France.

* * * * *

The news arrived at Naples in the midst of the _Carnevale_, when
Emma was taking out her diamonds for the State balls, when the San Carlo
was wreathed with tinsel roses for the gala performances, when on every
hand was noisy gaiety, added to the bustling preparations for festival.
All this was changed as suddenly as a transformation scene of gauze and
silver tissue fades when the Demon King leaps on the stage.

The finery disappeared, the theatres were closed, the balls and concerts
cancelled, upholsterers quitted the decorations of the Opera House and
the Palace to fasten up crape draperies in the churches, where, amid
black-veiled statues, the clergy held pompous funeral services.

The Queen went in heavy gloom, as if she had been a widow, spending hours
prostrate on the floor of the Royal Chapel, weeping away the last traces
of her sensual beauty.

She was indeed struck to the heart; she had never seen Louis XVI, but she
regarded him as symbolic of all crowned heads, and she agonized over her
sister's fate; her letters to Marchese di Gallo, her envoy at Vienna,
were full of heartfelt lamentations over the fate of Marie Antoinette and
pious hopes that death would soon put the Queen of France out of her
atrocious suffering. The execution of Louis XVI rendered M. de Mackau's
position impossible; the young aristocrat had been a personal friend of
the King of France, but, loyal to the Republic, he refused to wear
mourning, when he was ordered to do so by Sir John Acton. This caused the
final break; the French Minister withdrew from a Court where he knew he
would not be received, but owing to the difficulties of travel in time of
war, he remained in Naples.

* * * * *

Strained as the political situation was between Naples and France, it was
rapidly to become worse, and the Queen's most dreadful fears were to be

In the autumn of 1793, whilst the King and Queen were visiting the
Hamiltons, to drink tea in the English garden, and Emma and her husband
were practising their little pieces for voices and viola, news came from
France, long expected but none the less terrible, that plunged Maria
Carolina in an agony of sincere grief. She learnt of the execution under
atrocious circumstances of her sister, and though the first paroxysms of
her distress were sincere enough, they were soon disfigured by personal
fear and a vindictive desire for vengeance, not only upon the murderers
of Marie Antoinette, but upon everyone who bore the name of Frenchman or
might be suspected of bearing the name of Jacobin. She called her
children together in the Royal Chapel and made the dreadful announcement
to them with every circumstance of drama and fury; she wrote across the
portrait of her sister, which hung above her bureau: "Never will I sleep
till vengeance is satisfied."

The poor woman wept on the bosom of Lady Hamilton and-sent her a portrait
of the unfortunate Dauphin, bidding her look on the features of the
miserable child, "who was either slain or enduring a captivity worse than
death." Emma wept too; she thought it was all horrible and violently
championed her adorable and distressed Queen; she hoped that England
would do something, and do it soon; besides, all this was such an
interruption to her gorgeous life of praise and flattery; she saw only
one side of the question and she saw that vividly; knowing nothing
whatever about the case she delivered on it that emphatic judgment of
which only the vulgar and ignorant are capable; she cared nothing for the
Neapolitan Liberals, though there might be thousands of them and they
might be the most brilliant and cultured members of the population.

The Queen's methods of espionage, secret imprisonment, and tyranny which
were enforced by every possible use of reckless means, did not appal
Emma; she did not consider, any more than did Sir William, that possibly
in the methods of the Queen of Naples might be found the explanation of
the incredibly brutal fate of the Queen of France--how should she
understand what was happening around her, or know of anything save the
surface of life? It was not for Emma Hamilton to have one second's
glimpse of the minds and hearts of the brave, intelligent, patriotic
people who, hidden in the city, pursued quietly their ideals.

The continual emotional disorder of the Queen was increased when she
heard that the French Convention had published a decree promising help
"to all people wishing to be free." Soon after this La Touche's Fleet,
still cruising in the Mediterranean, was scattered by a tempest and the
Admiral put into Naples in his flagship to refit. The Neapolitan Court
was forced to offer him all the help he desired, and he had the
indiscretion to come ashore with his officers and to get into touch with
the patriots and the intellectuals who had been so long the subject of
Maria Carolina's suspicion and espionage.

The Queen held her hand until after the departure of the French Admiral,
then cast into prison all those with whom he had been in any way in
touch. In particular her vengeance fell on the young aristocrats who had
given a supper to the French officers at the Villa Rocca Romana at
Posilippo, a feast which each had left with a red cap, the emblem of
liberty, pinned in his coat lapel. These and many more young nobles and
intellectuals--Jacobins, as the Queen called them--were arrested
secretly, it appeared, during the night. It was some while before their
families discovered that they were in the underground dungeons of Sant'
Elmo, chained to the foul, bare ground, fed on bread and water, each in a
separate _fossa_ or grave. The result of this act of tyranny was the
formation of a patriotic society, which rose out of the suppressed
Freemasons' Lodges.

M. de Mackau did what he could to encourage these unhappy Neapolitan
patriots, but he did not go beyond the bounds of prudence, for, when the
Queen committed the outrage of searching the French Embassy and of
stealing the papers, she found nothing of a compromising nature. M. de
Mackau soon, however, found his position impossible; he was insulted
while the emigres were caressed, and on the occasion of the birth of an
Archduke openly affronted, when he arrived at the Palace to participate
in the fete that was held to celebrate the event.

Maria Carolina gave herself the satisfaction of turning her back on the
Frenchman, who was soon after recalled, but who still could not leave
Naples, as the way by land through Rome was closed, and he had to wait
till a French ship came to Leghorn. Another envoy, Maret, was sent from
France to Naples. General Maudet surrendered Toulon in the name of Louis
XVII to the English and as the triumphant result of the policy of the
Queen, Naples and Great Britain began to approach an understanding.

All these political thunders and lightnings did not disturb Emma's
cheerful mind. A year after the execution of the King of France, she
wrote again to Mr. Greville, who had now taken another and larger house
in Paddington, this time on the Green; her news was of the continuous
gaiety of her life. The Hamiltons had been living for eight months at
Caserta, going twice a week to town to give dinners, balls and concerts
in the Palazzo Sessa. Emma by then was used to entertaining fifty guests
to dinner and three hundred to a ball and supper, and, as she was careful
to inform Mr. Greville, she dined very, very often with the Royal Family.
Despite the war there were plenty of noble and fashionable travellers in
Italy, and none of them failed to arrive at Naples, where the Hamiltons
had to receive them, so that their house at Caserta was "like an inn."
Duchesses had been plentiful. Her Grace of Devonshire, Her Grace of
Lancaster; a rich sprinkling of the noble names of England. She had had
her dinner with that noble, amiable lady, the Princess Royal of Sweden,
and, most precious of all: "In the evenings I go to the Queen, and we are
_tête-à-tête_ two or three hours."

Emma had not neglected her music. She had learnt to sing duets with the
King, who was credited with a fine voice; Emma's comment, however, was
"It was but bad, and he sings like a king."

The beauty ascribed much of her astonishing success to her naturalness;
she informed Mr. Greville that, however familiar she might be with the
Queen in private, she always remembered to keep her distance in public,
"paying her as much respect as though I had never seen her before, which
pleased her very much; but she showed me great distinction that night,
she told me several times how she admired my good conduct."

Once more she repeated how happy she was with dear, dear Sir William. "We
are not an hour in the day separable; we live more like lovers than
husband and wife." She sketched in two pretty pictures of conjugal
affection for Mr. Greville's appreciation. One of her songs had been set
for a viol on which Sir William accompanied her; taking much pleasure in
providing a tender _obbligato_ for her soaring notes. Then they had
an English garden, in which the King walked every day, and where she and
Sir William were learning botany: "Not to make ourselves pedantical
creatures, but for our own pleasure." Politics, then so important a
factor in every life, Emma hardly mentioned in her letters to Greville.
She knew nothing of the noble families, the cultured middle-classes who
were maintaining Liberal principles and working for Liberal ends, even
while all they possessed and their very lives were under the heels of the
Bourbon-Hapsburgs. While the secret meetings were held, and spies crept
about, and the Neapolitan nobility encouraged the Neapolitan
intellectuals in opposition to the vicious queen and imbecile king, Emma
skimmed the surface of social life, gay as a May-fly on the brilliant
waters of a stagnant pool; her only real trouble was her husband's
health--the old man's constitution was breaking up; he was perhaps
slightly harassed by the constant din in which Emma lived, a little
dazzled by the frequent posing, a little deafened not only by the singing
of Emma herself, but by the ringing voices of the tenors and sopranos who
came to assist at her concerts.

In the autumn of 1794 she found time to write again to "dear Greville,"
congratulating him on having attained at last the sinecure which would
have made such a difference to them in the Paddington days:

"I congratulate you with all my heart on your appointment as a

She wrote with her usual good humour, never forgetting how much she owed

"I don't know a better, honest or more amiable and worthy man than

Unfortunately there was not good news of the uncle:

"My dear Sir William has had the disorder that we and all Naples have had
since the eruption. Violent diarrhoea that reduced him to so very low an
ebb that I was much alarmed for him."

But there they were in the Royal Palace at Castel del Mare "enjoying
every comfort and happiness that good health, Royal favour and domestic
happiness can give us."

Sir William had told her that he loved her better than ever and "never
for a moment repented." Greville was still executing little commissions
for her; he was to settle with Mrs. Hackwood, her dressmaker, "though the
last things were spoiled and I had no right to pay for them, but I will
settle it." He was also to get her "an English riding-habit, very
fashionable" and put it down to Sir William's account. "Mother is the
comfort of our lives."

Mrs. Cadogan had adapted herself excellently well to her daughter's life
of splendour. Placid, discreet, and an excellent housekeeper, she had
filled an odd position with credit to herself, and satisfaction to
others, and her comfortable presence rounded off Emma's brilliant

They were indeed halcyon days for the lucky young woman, on the stormy
waters of a universal tempest her little nest rode high and dry on a
becalmed patch of sunlight. Everyone whom she met was pleased with her,
those whom she was likely to disgust kept away from the Court.

To the crowd who circled round the King, the Queen, and Sir John Acton,
Emma was very acceptable with her classic beauty, her high animal
spirits, her bold manners which passed for "naturalness," her expensive,
free and easy parties, her perpetual good humour.

She had not enough reputation herself to permit her to be censorious, not
enough wit to be critical, and the glow of her immense luck was about her
like a radiance, so that she was very good company indeed for the idle,
the dissipated, the bored and the extravagant medley who formed the Court
of the Sicilian Bourbons. Sir William was delighted with his wife's
success; it had become his sole interest in life and supported him
through the vexation caused by a European war, the exhaustion produced by
a constant biliousness, and the secret burden of mounting debts.

Emma was soon, and in a most effective and even dramatic manner, to come
into direct touch with great affairs and a great man.

After the Allies had seized Toulon, a British ship was sent with
dispatches from Lord Hood to the British Minister in Naples, asking him
to raise Italian troops to garrison the French port; this ship was the
_Agamemnon_, which, with a fine show of canvas and the Union flag
flying, put into the bay one September evening.

The Captain, pacing the scrubbed deck that sultry night, admired the
magnificent outlines of Vesuvius from whose fiery cone the lava was
pouring and the smoke spreading. He wrote a letter to his wife, "at
anchor off Naples," mentioning how impressed he had been by the sight of
the flaming mountain. As soon as it was light, acting with his usual
energetic promptitude, he landed, and early in the morning presented
himself at the Palazzo Sessa, and gave his credentials to Sir William

The meeting was enthusiastic; the Captain of the _Agamemnon_ spoke
warmly of the success at Toulon, and Sir William promised the required
six thousand Neapolitans; the visitor was pressed to stay at the Embassy.
Emma was very willing to play the kind hostess; she put at the little
sailor's disposal the room prepared for the Prince Augustus, then on his
Italian travels, and for four days the Captain of the _Agamemnon_,
and his stepson Josiah Nisbet, were guests in the brilliant apartments
overlooking the bay.

When he sailed back to Toulon he wrote again to his wife, commenting on
the kindness and goodness he had received from the Hamiltons. His
beautiful hostess, however, he disposed of with a prudish comment. "She
is a young woman of amiable manners and does honour to the station to
which she is raised."

She had been kind to Josiah, noted the little Captain whose name was
Horatio Nelson; both the Hamiltons approved of him; they thought him
slightly odd, but Emma, at least, believed he had the air of a man who
would go far. Besides, despite, or perhaps in consequence of, her early
Tower Wharf adventure, she had a tender feeling for the British Navy.

Captain Nelson had wished to return the hospitality which had been
offered him by the British Minister; on board his ship, the pig-tailed
sailors with the striped shirts and flapping trousers cleaned and
polished and made ready the great cabin for the reception of notable
people; provisions came aboard, rowed across the bay in native boats,
lemons, oranges, onions, chickens, baskets of grapes and peaches.

But the _Agamemnon_ had to put out to sea hurriedly on a report that
there was a chance of prize money; news had come of a French frigate's
escorting a convoy into Leghorn Harbour; Captain Horatio Nelson cancelled
his breakfast party at which he was to entertain the Hamiltons and most
of the better-class tourists who happened to be in Naples, and put off
the luncheon which he was to have offered the King.

From her window Emma, leaning on the hot sill, watched the pale sails of
the splendid vessel, vivid amid the brown and amber canvases of the
Italian shipping, while the English flag and the swallow-tailed scarlet
Captain's pennant fluttered in the bright blue air.

This visit of the British battleship seemed to increase Emma's stature;
she was now something more than the wife of His Britannic Majesty's
Minister; she represented the country to whom her adored Queen was
looking for succour; if the Royal Family that had been so kind to Emma
were to be saved, who could save them but the British Navy?

A glow of patriotism stirred Emma's heart; this surely would be the most
impressive of the attitudes--Saviour of the Queen!

It was a time when everyone had to take sides; France had declared for
the "rights of man," and in the chorus of a nation's shouting denial of
this startling doctrine the voice of William Pitt, representing Britain,
was the loudest; Emma, impulsively embracing her Queen, who passed from
tears to furies when she thought of France, promised the protection of
the British Navy for Naples. She had every reason to feel self-confident;
it was so long since she had met with a rebuff.

And indeed it seemed that the Sicilian Bourbons, who were about to reap
the harvest of years of shameless bad government as surely as the
peasants on the slopes of Vesuvius were about to pluck the red and white
grapes for the Lacrima Christi wine, would soon need protection. The
Liberals of Naples, fired by the news from France, were ripe for revolt
and, as the Queen believed, for anarchy and murder; the city seethed with
suppressed panic.

News came of the _Agamemnon_; that she had missed the convoy, then,
that she was outside Toulon. When this superb naval base was attacked
from the land by the Republicans, Lord Hood was forced to abandon it,
amid scenes of frantic horror, which were not without a powerful effect
on the nervous, bitter little Captain of the _Agamemnon_.

In his austere cabin, amid the charts and maps, on the writing-case where
he had lately penned his approval of Emma Hamilton, Captain Nelson wrote
to his brother, the Rev. William Nelson, to his wife, his dear Fanny,
waiting for him on the Norfolk flats, to H.R.H. the Duke of Clarence, his
one distinguished friend, and told them what war meant at a close
view;--"the mob rose," scribbled the Captain, using those bombastic
phrases which Emma also liked to employ. "Death called forth all his
myrmidons, which destroyed the miserable inhabitants in the shape of
swords, pistols, fire, water. Thousands are said to be lost. In this
dreadful state, and to complete misery, already at its height, Lord Hood
was obliged to order the French Fleet, 20 sail of the line, 20 other
men-of-war, together with the Arsenal (dockyard), powder magazine, etc.,
to be set on fire...only three of the French Fleet saved: all the forts
are blown up.

"I cannot write all; my mind is deeply impressed with grief. Each teller
makes the scene more horrible."

Lord Hood removed his base to Corsica, which surrendered to Colonel John
Moore. Captain Nelson's small squadron tried to dislodge the scattered
Republican garrisons that held out along the coast. When the sudden
Southern spring covered the island with pink cyclamen, dark violets and
wild strawberry-flowers, the Captain of the _Agamemnon_ landed near
Bastia, ordered the cutting down of the Tree of Liberty, and with his own
hand struck the tricolour of the French Republic, which really did seem
to him a badge of the most shameless infamy.

Emma, with a palace full of painters, modellers and lapidaries, "striving
to outdo the life" with her famous features, expressed a vast interest in
the little Captain who seemed to have an heroic outline; he was often
mentioned in Naples; this was just the kind of Paladin for whom the
harassed Queen was looking; a reckless man who loathed the French.

In March came his greetings to her, when he wrote to her husband for the
artillery stores which he could not obtain owing to his squabbles with
Colonel John Moore--"respectful compliments" and a grateful memory of
kindness to a stranger.

The valiant Captain's mood fluctuated as the fleet prepared for the siege
of Bastia; to his wife he maintained a brave strain--"I am on active
service, which I like, I am well, never better. I have no joy separated
from you."

But there were no prizes, no rewards--"nothing but salt beef and
honour--we are absolutely getting sick from fatigue...I trust my name
will stand on record, when the money-makers are forgot."

Lord Hood slighted him, the attacks on the Corsican heights were perilous
and tedious, but he wrote spirited letters to Sir William, keeping him in
touch with events. Emma was intensely interested in the news; she was
sorry to hear in July of his wounded eye--a hurt received when he had
landed to attack Calvi, but there was a British victory and Emma glowed
in the radiance of that glory at the Bourbon Court; neither the war so
near on either side, nor the revolution seething so close underfoot, had
as yet impinged on her gorgeous life; these lurid cross-lights rather
enhanced her attitudes.

Captain Nelson, from the _Agamemnon_, who had then returned to
Leghorn, wrote bitterly: "What I have got at present is nothing. What I
have lost is an eye, £300, and my health, with the satisfaction of my
ship's company being absolutely ruined."

This last lament was sincere, he really loved his sailors; that year he
had written to his wife: "My seamen are now what British seamen ought to
be...almost invincible. They mind shot no more than peas."

The ambitious, worldly man was sharply disappointed that he had been once
more passed over, slighted; he had not made enough even to buy a cottage
in the country--and he hated cottages and the country, he wanted
splendour and glory, fame and applause. "They have not done me justice;
but never mind; I'll have a _Gazette_ of my own."

Within a few days of the dispatch of these letters to England, Emma was
writing to Charles Greville; she was still cheerful and jolly, though Sir
William was shrivelled and yellow as his own monkey with casting up bile
and swallowing the sovereign powders of Dr. James, and the war was
harassing them both.

She wrote from the charming palace of Caserta, where the palms and
tamarisks even in winter shaded the marble balustrades of the terraces,
and the painted walls showed beribboned amorini for ever pointing at
mirrors whence a dozen Emmas were reflected.

"Caserta: DEcember. 18th, 1794.

"I have onely time to write you a few lines by the Neapolitan Courier,
who will give you this. He comes back soon, and pray send me by him some
ribbands and fourteen yards of fine muslin worked for a gound or fine
Leno. Ask what Leno is, and she will tell you, and pray pay Hackwood's
(bill), and put (it) down to Sir William's account with his banker. He
told me I might; for I have so many occasions to spend my money, that my
2 hundred pounds will scarcely do for me, (with) a constant attendance at
Court now, once and generally twice aday, and I must be well dress'd. You
know how far 2 hundred will go. To-day we expect the Prince Augustus from
Rome. He is to be lodged at the Pallace here, and with us in town.
To-morrow we have a great dinner at Court for the Prince. The Queen
invited me last night herself. No person can be so charming as the Queen.
She is everything one can wish,--the best mother, wife and friend in the
world. I live constantly with her, and have done intimately so for 2
years, and I never have in all that time seen anything but goodness and
sincerity in her, and, if ever you hear any lyes about her, contradict
them, and if you should see a cursed book written by a vile french dog
with her character in it, don't believe one word. She lent it me last
night, and I have by reading the infamous calumny put myself quite out of
humour, that so good and virtus a princess should be so infamously

"Lord Bristol is with us at Caserta. He passes one week at Naples, and
one with us. He is very fond of me, and very kind. He is very
entertaining, and dashes at everything. Nor does he mind King or Queen,
when he is inclined to show his talents. I am now taking lessons from
Millico, and make great progress. Nor do I slacken in any of my studys.
We have been here 3 months, and remain four or five months longer. We go
to Naples every now and then. I ride on horseback. The Queen has had the
goodness to supply me with horses, an equerry, and her own servant in
livery every day. In short, if I was her daughter, she could not be
kinder to me, and I love her with my whole soul.

"My dear Sir William is very well, and as fond of me as ever; and I am,
as women generally are, ten thousand times fonder of him than I was, and
you would be delighted to see how happy we are,--no quarelling, nor
crossness, nor laziness. All nonsense is at an end, and everybody that
sees us are edified by our example of conjugal and domestick felicity.
Will you ever come and see us? You shall be received with kindness by us
booth, for we have booth obligations to you, for having made us
acquainted with each other. Excuse the haist with which I write, for we
are going to Capua to meet the Prince Augustus. Do send me a plan, how I
could situate little Emma, poor thing; for I wish it.

"E. Hamilton."

The last lines came in a little oddly; Sir William was paying for the
forsaken child, but only Mr. Greville knew her parentage; therefore, he
must be asked "to think of a plan." This posssible scheme could not
include any acknowledgment of the poor creature by her brilliant mother;
Sir William might, as one of his friends wrote to Greville, show "dotage"
in his fondness for his wife, but he could hardly be expected to permit
this second Emma to run about the Embassy, provoking curiosity and

Nor did Emma's frustrated maternity disturb her robust good humour, she
had no longing for a child, no longing for anything, her life was full of
achievement; if she had not had this new interest in the navy which had
provided Emma's father, perhaps she would never have remembered Emma at
all. She never lacked the excitements she craved; while the British
Mediterranean Fleet was cruising along the ragged Italy coasts, and the
French Republic, rising fiercely to the cry "_La patrie en danger_,"
was building a fleet at Toulon, Emma was entertaining the eccentric Lord
Bristol, whose bizarre personality fitted well into the gilded hubbub of
courtly Naples.

William Beckford, travelling with nearly a hundred servants, had set out
to visit his dear friends in the South, but had struck across the track
of war, been held up in Lisbon, then chased by pirates, and, after hiding
in a queer Spanish palace, much to his romantic taste, had returned,
disgusted at the barbarities of mankind, to England and safety.

In his place Emma had an entertaining creature, the Earl Bishop, who was
for ever travelling about in great pomp, diverting himself and amusing
others. He became at once Emma's _cavaliere servente_, flattering
her, admiring her, making her laugh with his racy stories and piquant

He viewed Naples with the eyes of a tourist--as a city of pleasure where
the _valets de place_ hung about the modish inns _I tre Re_ and
_Il Capello del Cardinale_, offering in broken English to show
"Milord" where vice and amusement might be found cheaply. His Grace was
surprised to hear from the Hamiltons of the troubles beneath the
surface--what--Jacobins in so brilliant a city!

As many as forty thousand, he was told, and the easy prelate was

* * * * *

The figure was higher, beyond the most anxious computation of the Queen's
spies; no anti-French movement, no setting up of a Giunta, no policing
could check the Liberals from organizing themselves while awaiting their
opportunity. Joseph Garat, the new French Minister, continually demanded
in vain the release of the patriots who had been imprisoned for dining
with La Touche's officers at the famous _Cena di Posilippo_; neither
the Hapsburg nor the Bourbon knew the meaning of generosity or common
sense. And Garat, who had announced the death sentence to Louis XVI, was
not likely to make himself acceptable to any Court, least of all to that
of Naples.

The French, bearing the cap of liberty at the point of the sword, swarmed
over Italy, a ragged, starved, inconquerable horde, organized by one man
of genius Lazare Carnot, led by another, General Bonaparte. A fleet
sailed from Toulon to retake Corsica. Prussia and Austria, who had been
beaten to their knees, made peace with the Republic, whose trees of
liberty were planted on the very frontiers of the Kingdom of Naples.

A violent epidemic of typhus that broke out in the unwilling army the
Queen had so ruthlessly recruited, profoundly encouraged the Neapolitan
patriots, who were hardly troubled to disguise their contempt and
defiance of the Court. Young Liberals wore trousers at the Opera, short
hair and scarlet waistcoats in the streets.

Emma often found the Queen in a convulsion, brought on by fear and rage;
Maria Carolina indeed worked with a heedless, reckless energy, the word
vengeance was frequently on her lips; she had all Emma's sympathy, she
too loathed this nation of which she knew nothing, save that they all
were monsters.

The two women did what they could, the King and Sir William were goaded
until a small fleet was sent out to help the British off Toulon, lying in
wait for the new Republican Armada. This fleet was under the command of a
Neapolitan Prince, who was known to be a sailor of genius and who had
devoted himself to clearing from his native coasts the Corsairs who had
infested them for centuries. In this task he had been very successful,
and both his equals and those under his command admired him for his
vigilant attention to duty, his patriotism, his honourable character, and
his high personal courage. His seamanship was superb, and he was greatly
beloved by the sailors of the Neapolitan Navy.

He took the blessing of the Queen and of Emma with him to Toulon, where
the captain of the _Agamemnon_ made his acquaintance and liked him.
This was the only time Horatio Nelson favoured a foreigner, but of this
gentleman, with his scanty line of ships, he wrote--"We all love Prince
Caragholillo or whatever his name is."

The name that the Englishman found so difficult was Francesco Caracciolo,
Duca di Bersina. He was a man of Horatio Nelson's own age, of middle
height, very swarthy, serious, but not melancholy, of few words, and
courteous manners; he was absorbed in two interests--his country, and

* * * * *

The Queen had to endure what she considered extraordinary affronts from
the Neapolitan aristocrats; noble ladies hardly disguised their Jacobin
leanings, lodges and clubs met to discuss the questions raised by the
French Revolution; despite the secret police, French newspapers and
pamphlets circulated freely.

One of the most splendid of the sons of the ancient families, the
handsome Ettore Carafa, Duca d'Andria, refused the scarf of the Order of
San Gennaro, when the King offered it to him on his father's death; in
consequence of this and his blacking out of his own arms in his family
chapel the highborn young democrat joined the hundreds of political
prisoners rotting mind and body, in Sant' Elmo.

The Giunta pretended to discover a conspiracy; the Queen and Sir John
Acton struck with the force of fear; there were sentences of
imprisonment, of exile, of torture, of death, which were passed without a
pretence of legality.

Three students, aged respectively twenty-two, twenty and nineteen, of
good families and characters, were chosen as victims and were hanged on a
gallows erected in the Largo del Castello; they died with that courage
which alone can render such scenes endurable. Mario Pagano, one of the
most famous jurists in Italy, who had defended them, was cast into
prison, where he remained four years.

A fellow-countryman wrote of these boys who were the first sacrifices to
the ideal for which so many were to perish; "they had no fault beyond
aspirations, discourses, and hopes."

The French Minister, Garat, reported that the prisons of Naples were
full of the most enlightened men in the country; but the Queen was still
afraid. Emma never mentioned these things, when she wrote to her former
lover about millinery and her domestic felicity.

Yet the Ambassador's lady was not without great ideas. Might not she,
with her influence over a doting husband and Maria Carolina, with her
lord who meant as much as and no more than the pavilion on which his
honours were emblazoned, play together a large part in Europe?

When the Queen received news from Spain that this country was likely to
join France, and sent a copy with a cipher-key to Emma to give to her
husband, the Ambassadress felt that she was directing high destinies and
beginning to render great services to her country.

Did not Sir John Jervis, when he took over the command of the
Mediterranean Fleet, name her again and again the Patroness of the Navy?
She was proud of the name--did it bring back to her some early memories
of a press-gang ship at the Tower Wharf, where she had joined the
laughing ladies of the pavement who had swarmed down dark gangways and
into foul cabins to comfort the homing sailors? Did it bring back
pictures of a Wapping ale-house, when the rolling seamen had come ashore
for their drink and their doxies, and her admired beauty had graced their
rough leisure?

Whatever she thought or remembered, she was discreet, the friend of a
Queen, representative of Great Britain in this dangerous, assailed spot,
and she learned to express triumphant self-assurance in every gesture.

* * * * *

In London, George Romney was building a vast picture-gallery out of his
garnered fortune and his sinking wits; involved in the appalling gloom of
incipient insanity, no thought of Emma came to cheer the doomed
painter--if he could have drawn her likeness then, when he was in the
frenzy of his dementia, and she in her half-crazy elevation, he might
have left something more magnificent than the lovely insipid pictures he
had made of her in Cavendish Square.

He had named her "the divine lady" and said that she surpassed all other
women, would he still have thought her divine, could he have seen her in
Naples, and glimpsed her background?

Emma, wearing English clothes selected by Charles Greville, walking by
clear leaping fountains, in blue cypress shade, by carved vases of
arbutus, the blonde hysteric Queen on her arm, the pale, pampered royal
children by her side, Sir John Acton with his smooth adroit face, never
far away, never intruding.

And the background--not only the great curve of the bay, the piled-up
hills, the towering volcano, the black spreading pines, the white-washed
churches and convents--but the huge prisons where the young, the noble,
and the brave, lay chained in their foul graves, the barracks where the
pressed soldiers died of typhus amid filth, the squares where the gallows
had been set up, the chamber where the Giunta (Committee for governing
Naples,) sat, the cabinets and taverns where the spies made their plans.

Emma in her gorgeous riding-habits, ahead of a cavalcade taking the coast
roads set with palms, laurel, and tamarisk. Emma lifting a tazza loaded
with grapes and peaches, while she stood on a terrace hung above purple
rocks where azure waves broke. Emma watching the light flowerets of
fireworks burst among the stars, the cresset lights of festival bloom
before the sullen flames of Vesuvius. Emma singing in a bark with golden
silk sails, reclining on a brick-red Pompeian couch--Emma like Cassandra
indeed, with raised arm and open mouth and fillet-bound hair, prophesying
the destruction of France. And, most inspiring picture of all, Emma
reading the _Gazettes_ that told of the triumphs of the British Navy
and of Captain Horatio Nelson.

But it was not all glory to be on such a pinnacle; the British Government
began to notice its Minister at Naples, who had now a delicate role to
play--that of making Ferdinand Bourbon and his Kingdom useful to the
Allies. All very well, and His Majesty eager enough and the Queen frantic
to help, but what of the chaotic conditions of the wretched country, the
revolution ready to break out, the French on the frontiers?

Sir William was past the work for which he had never been fitted; he fell
ill again, half-crazed by the clatter of his wife's parties, by the
_brouhaha_ of women's tongues, by the incessant flatteries cast on
the English, by the feverish abuse hurled at the French, by wondering
what he could or should do. Even Emma had her moments of depression, when
Naples was forced into keeping a humiliating peace by the stern terms
that General Berthier sent from Rome; but she dashed off a letter to
Greville; she had not forgotten her millinery.

"Naples, Sepbr. 21st, 1796.

"We have not time to write to you, as we have been 3 days and nights,
writing to send by this courrier letters of _consequence_ for our
government. They ought to be grateful to Sir William and myself _in
particular_, as my situation at this Court is very _extraordinary_, and
what no person [h]as as yet arrived at; but one [h]as no thanks, and I
am allmost sick of grandeur.

"We are tired to death with anxiety, and God knows w[h]ere we shall soon
be, and what will become of us, if things go on as they do now. Sir
William is very well, I am not, but hope, when the cold weather comes on
and we go to Caserta, I shall be better. Our house--breakfast, dinner and
supper--is like a fair; and what with attendance on my adorable Queen I
have not one moment for writing, or anything comfortable. I however hope
soon to get quiet, and then I will write to you fully. Pray settle
Hackwood's account. We desire it. And send me by the bearer a Dunstable
hat, and some ribbands, or what you think will be acceptable. Pray do you
never think on me? He is our Courrier; so pray, do not spare him. In

"Ever your sincere,

"Emma Hamilton.

"P.S...I have now to-night an assembly of 3 hundred waiting!"

There continued to be news of Horatio Nelson in the _Gazettes_ Emma
read in Naples, and he often wrote to Sir William--how could he forget
the kindness that the lady of the Embassy had shown him and Josiah
Nisbet, his stepson?

The captain of the _Agamemnon_ began to lose the embellishments
proper to a hero, his wounded eye darkened until it was useless; he had
to wear a patch and began to despair of the future, he was always
overlooked, he was done for, approaching forty years of age without money
or fame, in poor health and in partial darkness.

Then, by a rude chance of war, came something of what he had always so
desperately longed for--glory. Emma, with lustrous eyes and high cries of
joy could rush to her adored Queen with news of another British victory.

On February 14th, 1799, Sir John Jervis had beaten the top-heavy Spanish
galleons, manned by pressed men, reluctant foot-soldiers and ignorant
fishermen, flying the cheap canvas supplied by a monopoly, hampered by
slender masts, twenty miles off Cape St. Vincent, in the South Atlantic.

Horatio Nelson had commanded _The Captain_, and had snatched the
fame he so hotly pursued out of the bloody day; it was as if a goddess
with a trumpet had heard his name at last and shouted it abroad. He had
boarded the _San Josef_ and received an armful of swords from
vanquished Spanish officers; nothing could have been more dashing and

This exploit had been accomplished by disobeying orders and throwing out
of action the Admiral's plan for capturing the entire Spanish flotilla;
but it had been daring and showy, and had made Captain Nelson the hero of
the victory; "they shouted for _me_."

Sir John Jervis did not mention Nelson in his dispatches, but the little
captain knew how to look after his own fame; he sent an account of his
exploits to his friend, Sir William Locker, begging him to insert it in
the newspapers; he sent to the city of Norwich the sword of the captured
Spanish Rear-Admiral and set all his companions talking about "Nelson's
Patent Bridge for Boarding First Rates."

Unfortunately the _San Josef_ had already struck her flag to the
_Prince George_ (Captain Sir William Parker), when Captain Nelson
boarded her, so that the glory he so eagerly snatched really belonged, in
part at least, to another man.

But he was made Rear-Admiral of the Blue, Knight Commander of the Bath,
received a handsome share of prize money and just that kind of fame
relished by Emma--his name was on the lips of hundreds of people who did
not know what he had really done--a popular hero was in the making.

* * * * *

Affairs did not go well for the Allies, Ireland was in revolt, there were
two attempts to land French troops there, the Pope was made a prisoner,
the Roman Republic was proclaimed and Neapolitan patriots slipped over
the frontier to serve under the French generals, mutinies broke out at
the Nore and Spithead, and even in the fleet before Cadiz, where Sir
Horatio Nelson, K.C.B., was assisting in the blockade, and where he
hanged four malcontents on a Sunday dawn--"had it been Christmas Day I
would have executed them."

That summer, in a landing on the Mole at Santa Cruz, he was hit in the
arm by a grape-shot; the limb was at once sawn off by the ship's surgeon,
the torn ligaments being crudely dressed; the suffering was exquisite, a
peculiar agony was the jar of the cold steel on the nerves.

Emma learned that the wounded Sir Horatio had sailed home to join the
half-pay captains at Bath and to serve with his one eye and one arm, and
vivid personality, as a fine peg for the blatant patriotism of print-and
ballad-maker. The war had been so long, so disastrous, so costly, that
the Government had need of all the possible heroes to gild the pill which
must sooner or later be presented to a disgusted nation.

So popular was Sir Horatio that it was thought unwise to disturb an idol
suitable for the mob; the protests of Captain Sir William Parker were
ignored, and the affair of the _San Josef_ glossed over.

It was an ugly time in England, with Radicals and Pacifists shouting, "no
war, no famine!" with riots and risings, high prices, unemployment and
poor trade, and certain swelling mutterings, not unlike those that
frightened Maria Carolina, rising from secret meetings and stress-corner
knots alike.

The Government was very grateful to heroes, and Sir Horatio was
graciously received by the King at his Investiture, and given a Reception
at the Guildhall, where, in the presence of the Lord Mayor, Alderman John
Wilkes, once something of a Jacobin himself, gave the hero of St. Vincent
a gold casket and a handsome sword.

Emma exulted to read of all this; she began to think that she had
predicted a glorious future for the little captain who had passed four
nights in the Palazzo Sessa, and that she had some share in his fame.
There seemed, however, little chance of seeing him again; he was looking
for a cottage in which to settle down with his amiable, quiet wife, his
Fanny, and there was no longer any excuse for him to write to the

* * * * *

The British Minister's wife began to feel the strain of the Queen's
incessant anxieties; there were ten thousand French in the north,
twenty-five thousand along the coast round Genoa; the Toulon workshops
were still building and fitting out warships, the crust of authority over
the patriots of Naples began to wear as thin as the glaze over the cone
of Vesuvius before an eruption. The Queen believed herself threatened by
land and sea--and with no hope save in the British Navy--the name of
General Bonaparte created a panic in Europe; the British Fleet in the
Mediterranean seemed the last, the only weapon, in the hands of the old
order, which was struggling for existence with a new order so
dramatically successful.

Italian princelings were scattered, like the kings on a pack of cards,
before a flip of the fingers of the red caps, the tricolour flags showed
above the ramparts of ancient patrician cities; when all else in the
Continent had fallen before the French, it seemed that Ferdinand Bourbon
had little hope of maintaining his unstable throne--which, even in his
own country, had no supporters beyond his corrupt favourites, the rabble
of _lazzaroni_ and the discredited Church that was already defeated
in her great stronghold, Rome. There was, too, the danger from the sea;
for what purpose was the huge armament being built at Toulon?

The spies of William Pitt reported to Whitehall that eighty thousand
Frenchmen were to embark under General Bonaparte for Egypt as a step on
the march to India; French officers were already at the Court of Tippoo
Sahib, French agents were endeavouring to raise a revolt against the
British in Hindustan.

The Admiralty advised Lord St. Vincent, as Sir John Jervis had been
created, to dispatch a flotilla to the Mediterranean and to put it under
the command of Sir Horatio Nelson, then in the mouth of the Tagus, on
board _The Vanguard_, "to seek the armament preparing at Toulon"
order "to take, sink, burn or destroy it."

With fourteen first-rate line-of-battle ships, Sir Horatio set sail for
Naples, on his ship of seventy-two guns, with his square blue flag, his
blue ensign fluttering from the complicated design of sails and rigging.
He was hampered by losing sight of his frigates in a storm, by shortness
of stores, by damage to some of the ships; he wrote to Sir William
Hamilton, that he needed provisions, frigates, "the eyes of the navy,"
and "good pilots."

He thought that the French were off the Sicilian coasts and was
determined to follow them "even if they go to the Black Sea."

* * * * *

Sir William was distracted; Naples was not at war with the Directory, the
French Resident was watchful and arrogant; the French troops were on the
frontiers, and Ferdinand, when last he had in a panic conceded peace
terms to Berthier, had promised not to victual British ships.

When the fleet put into Naples Bay, Sir William could promise no open
help, though he had some useful information. The Frenchmen had passed
Sicily, making for the south-east; it was known that General Bonaparte
was on board one of the men-of-war.

As for obtaining an order for provisions, pilots and frigates, Sir
William could do nothing; the King had shut himself away in an agony of
fear, terrified of a rising in the city, terrified of the French,
dreaming of the guillotine's being set up in the Piazza del Mercato, of
his baroque splendours' being fired about his ears. Even Emma, with the
Queen's friendship, even the Queen with her seat at the Council, dared do
nothing; they had even to endure the action of the French Resident in
sending openly to Rome news of the British Fleet's movements.

The two women could only cling together in the long, shadowed rooms
behind the shutters that screened them from the June sunshine, vow
vengeance on the French, and pray for success for Sir Horatio Nelson;
chattering and weeping in unison, the daughter of the Caesars and the
daughter of Cheshire peasants, were perfectly in accord.

The Rear-Admiral of the Blue did not leave the _Vanguard_, which was
anchored in the bay, but Emma wrote to him; "God bless you and send
victorious...the Queen desires me to say everything that is kind...God
bless you, me dear Sir, your affectionate and grateful Emma Hamilton."

And at the last moment, when the straining canvas was set to catch the
wind for departure, another note from the Palazzo Sessa was brought to
the ship by a boat rowing swiftly across the harbour. This note enclosed
a message from the Queen, the few lines in Emma's hand bade the
consecrated hero kiss the royal letter and send it back; it was signed
"ever yours, Emma."

Sir Horatio sat down in his cabin, writing hurriedly, painfully with his
left hand, peering with his one eye.

"My dear Lady Hamilton,

"I have kissed the Queen's letter, pray say I hope for the honour of
kissing her hand when no fears will intervene. Assure Her Majesty that no
person has her felicity more at heart than myself, and that the
sufferings of her family will be a tower of strength on the day of
battle, fear not the event, God bless you and Sir William, pray say I
cannot stay to answer his letter here. Yours faithfully, Horatio Nelson,
6 p.m."

The ports of Syracuse were closed to the British Fleet, news came that
Malta had fallen to the French, and that the Knights had supplied
Bonaparte with provisions; the Republicans were sailing east.

Sir Horatio was now convinced that their destination was Alexandria; he
sailed to the Eastern port to find the enemy had not arrived; he cruised
round Syria, Crete, returned to golden Syracuse; the timid Bourbon was
still neutral, still invisible; Sir Horatio had been gone nearly a month
and his provisions were very low; he still had no light frigates; his
fleet was blind and deaf. He wrote to patriotic Emma, pouring out his
humiliations, his despair, but Emma and the Queen had saved him. Ignoring
her husband, the pact with France, Maria Carolina had struck straight at
her enemies; her hatred of the French found expression in the order she
sent to the Governor of Syracuse. The British Fleet was victualled,
watered and sailed with the first favourable breeze across the Tyrrhenian

Sir Horatio wrote to thank the Hamiltons for their exertions, "be that I
will return either crowned with laurels or covered with cypress."

A captured enemy vessel told him that General Bonaparte had landed in
Alexandria, the British had missed him by a day; Sir Horatio turned in
pursuit and on the last day of July his spy-glass showed him the
Republican Fleet anchored in the fairway before Aboukir Harbour; the
tricolours brilliant in Eastern sunshine.

In Naples Emma moved through the dazzling fruit-scented heat, attired in
her classic muslins, exhaling martial patriotism, a Bellona in a
Dunstable straw-hat.

She felt herself a goddess indeed; comforting the Queen, who, on her
knees, swallowed holy wafers and babbled to her saints, inspiring Sir
William, who was a little overwhelmed by the crisis, driving through the
streets where the _lazzaroni_ shouted for her, and the patriots had
a glance of contempt for _Emma Lyonna, la putana inglese_,
practising naval songs in her strong ringing voice, defying the French,
the rebellious Neapolitans, trusting in Nelson and the British--thus
Emma, the big woman, nearly forty years old now, whose beauty was
spilling over, like the petals of a loosened rose or the seeds of a split
pomegranate. While Horatio Nelson strove for the hero's renown, she
prepared for him the hero's reward.

* * * * * * * * * *





To the little Englishman, making his plans in the main cabin of the
_Vanguard_, the moment was of supreme importance; in his nervous
excitement he felt as if his life were rushing up to a climax; for years
he had longed for an opportunity of winning glory, and the chance that
had come his way at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent had only whetted
instead of satisfying his appetite for reward and fame. He was also
animated by two other passions--an hysteric loathing of the French
people, whom he regarded as monsters capable of all atrocities, and a
genuine desire to please the two beautiful women who, from the temptingly
brilliant city of Naples, had sent out their appeals and their

One of these women was a Queen, of the finest blood in Europe--the other
was an Ambassadress and a famous beauty. The simple and rather vulgar
mind of Horatio Nelson was fascinated by these words and all they meant
to him. His life, up to the moment when he sighted the French Fleet at
anchor in the fairway before Aboukir Bay, had not been happy. He had
always been tormented by two demons, ill-health and ambition.

If, then, on the eve of this great attempt at a great achievement, he had
looked back, as men at such a crisis will look back along the years, he
would not have been satisfied with what he saw.

He was within a few weeks of his fortieth birthday, and had from his
continued ill-health, anxieties, and his two severe wounds, the
appearance of a man at least fifty years of age. Nothing in those forty
years had been quite as he would have wished it, except perhaps his late
London triumphs, and there had been a sting in them; the glances and
smiles of those who really knew the truth of the San Josef incident and
the justified complaints of Sir William Parker.

* * * * *

Horatio Nelson had been born in a very quiet part of the world--the
village of Burnham Thorpe, in the county of Norfolk.

His early childhood had been passed in a place as dreary as the mind of
man could conceive--an eighteenth-century rustic rectory, where the
incumbent was both poor and fanatic. Horatio, one of a family of
motherless children, was brought up by his father, the rector, in an
atmosphere devoid of all pleasure and excitement, all gaiety or colour;
he was always delicate and nervous and his character took an unstable
turn from his constant fevers and agues.

The village of Burnham Thorpe was as dull as Hawarden; it was off the
high road, a cluster of cottages, an inn, the church, the North Sea
spreading a few miles away. The rectory was humble, the rooms dark and
damp; trees that allowed little sun to penetrate through the small
windows stood back and front. There was that constant wind and rain and
perpetual mist that Emma had learned to know so well, when she had herded
sheep on the Flint-shire moors.

The Nelsons were scarcely gentlefolk; they made the most of a connection
on the distaff side with Sir Robert Walpole, but they had little money
and little influence and all of them were sickly, gnawed at by constant
disabling ailments; Horatio in particular was a neurotic, undersized
weakling, but animated by a spirit that flamed with a passionate desire
to overcome circumstances. He received some local schooling in Norwich
Grammar School, little more than sufficient to teach him to read and to
write; he absorbed the grim theology of the evangelical section of the
Church of England from his father, the Rev. Edmund Nelson. The
clergyman's gaunt figure in his black gown and Geneva bands, preaching
death and damnation from the village pulpit to rows of drowsy yokels,
became merged in the boy's mind with that of God Almighty.

Not very intelligent, sensitive and quite self-absorbed, he accepted the
God who was so crudely drawn for him by a dull and narrow-minded father.
The loss of his mother was a deep personal grief and increased his
nervousness. At the Norwich Grammar School his schoolfellows jeered at
him for his effeminacy because he wore neat clothes and kept a pet lamb.

An uncle in the Navy seemed to indicate a career for Horatio. At nine
years of age he was sent from Norwich to Rochester where, homesick and
miserable, he was sent on board the _Raisonnable_, then under the
command of his uncle, his mother's brother, Captain Suckling, who had
suggested to the Rev. Edmund that the boy was far too weakly to be sent
to sea, but that a cannon-ball might supply the provision that did not
seem to be coming from any other quarter.

The young boy was worked hard, he sailed on a Polar expedition and to the
East; melancholy, sickly, his feeble constitution further shattered by
the hardships he had undergone, he returned home at eighteen years of
age, loathing the sea, loathing the Navy, and weighed down by a gloom
only broken by his own indomitable force of will. An immense vanity that
did not quite amount to pride, raised him above himself; in a
half-delirium of self-assertion he vowed: "I will be a hero, I will brave
every danger."

In 1777, he was sent out to Jamaica; a year later he got his own ship and
cruised about looking for prizes; he liked the life, but he soon became
desperately ill, and was invalided home to take the Bath waters, shrunken
and half-paralysed by poisonous fevers. As soon as he could stand on his
feet, he was sent on service in the Baltic; the nervous gloom and the
black depression returned; he lived in a continual state of physical
suffering; he worked very hard at his duties, was conscientious and
anxious and much liked by the sailors; he was frequently and desperately

A touch of brightness came through his acquaintance with Prince William
Henry, the King's son, who had been sent into the Navy to encourage
recruiting for the senior service. In 1782 Horatio Nelson sailed for the
West Indies, delighting in the company of the Royal Prince, in whom he
discovered many brilliant qualities. He took some prizes, had a few
brushes with the French, and returned to Portsmouth again, discouraged
and depressed. A doctor thought he had consumption "and quite gave me

He had some abstract consolation, to which he clung tenaciously.

"I believe there is not a speck in my character, and true honour, I hope,
predominates in my mind."

There followed a short stay in the Burnham rectory, visits to France,
where he hated everything, save two very beautiful English ladies, the
daughters of a Mr. Andrews, a clergyman. With one of these he fell
in love:

"Had I a million of money I am sure I should this moment make her an
offer of them."

But the beauty refused him, and he returned still more despondent to
England. He got some childish pleasure from discovering that a French
prisoner he had once taken was a great person, the Prince de Deux
Ponts--but as for the French, "I hate their Country and their manners."

In 1784, when Charles Greville was taking Emma to George Romney's studio,
Horatio Nelson sailed for the West Indies as Captain of the
_Boreas_. The discomforts and miseries of fever-smitten Antigua
bored him horribly; his one consolation was the company of the English
ladies on the island, in particular of a Mrs. Moutray, who was most kind
to him.

Through the sweltering heat and the hot, unwholesome damp days that
followed the rainy season, "were it not for Mrs. Moutray who is very,
very good to me, I should hang myself in this infernal place." It was
there that he met and married his dearest Fanny; she was a certain Mrs.
Francis Nisbet, a well-bred, pleasant, handsome young widow with a
wealthy uncle and guardian, Mr. Herbert, whose stock of negroes and
cattle was valued at £60,000 sterling. She was twenty-three years old and
had a little boy, named Josiah, by her husband, a medical man, who had
died in a lunatic asylum. He was married in March 1787; the ceremony was
honoured by the presence of His Royal Highness, the Prince William Henry,
who gave the bride away. The bridegroom's income had been assured by the
kindness of his uncle, William Suckling. The future, though it did not
look brilliant, was by no means dark. Horatio was really in love with his
charming Fanny, who, on her side, had thought him at first odd, and then
fascinating, and who was quite prepared to offer him all the esteem and
affection she had to give anyone. "With the purest and most devoted
affection I do love her," wrote the bridegroom to the benevolent uncle.

At this time Emma was already in Naples, and Sir William Hamilton holding
up a candle as he gazed with infatuated admiration at her famous

The year of his marriage the captain of the _Boreas_ came home, and
for a while there was no new appointment for the young captain. He had to
live in the old, damp rectory with his wife and his father, eating his
heart out because he felt himself neglected. He was much liked by his
intimate companions, but was not popular with those in authority. He was
apt to make trouble, to be difficult, quarrelsome and full of complaints;
his nerves were always out of order; his wretched health handicapped him
severely. Though he pestered the Admiralty for another ship, he was
allowed to remain in the boredom of the Norfolk rectory, where "dearest
Fanny" showed herself rather dull and uninteresting; she fussed about her
health and could not understand her husband's furious desire to be again
at sea. He tried to farm, he tried to take up country sports and
pastimes--he detested them all. All his education had been at sea;
everything he had learned he had learned on board a ship; here in his
native corner of Norfolk lie was out of place, disgruntled, and most
unhappy. It seemed a poor failure of a life.

Then had come the news of the French Revolution and nobody heard of it
with more genuine horror and rage than Horatio Nelson, next, war with a
life of action again, Toulon and the _Agamemnon_'s sailing into
Naples Bay, where there was such a fine view of Vesuvius, and where Emma
Hamilton entertained him so kindly. After that, the Battle of Cape St.
Vincent, the sudden honour, the casket and the sword, two wounds, a fine
advertisement of his services to his country, which made him dear to the
common people at home and caused his name to appear on the ballad-makers'
slips, and his figure to be seen in the prints sold in all the bookshops.

He still had his dismal moments: "I hardly think the war can last--for
what is it about?"

All this success, however, had not been cheaply purchased. His rudely
severed arm had meant much torment, when the only possible sleep had been
purchased by opium; his damaged eye caused him continual suffering; every
organ in his body was awry. Days and nights were made infernal by fevers,
agues, headaches, and uncontrollable attacks of nerves. Still, his
immense vanity, which was at once simple and cruel, led him on; disabled,
maimed, handicapped as he was, he still strained for the impossible goal;
the boyish boast: "I will be great" was again in his heart, almost on his
lips. A saying which was attributed to him when he beheld the French in
Aboukir Bay: "A peerage or Westminster Abbey," crystallized his thoughts.
It was a schoolboy's dream--to be a hero, to be crowned by a beautiful

* * * * *

Sir Horatio Nelson gave the signal for the attack on the afternoon of
August 1st, 1798. Admiral Francois Paul Brueys d'Aigalliers, the French
noble in command of the Jacobin Fleet, was unable to get his ships into
the abandoned and neglected port, though he had offered ten thousand
_livres_ to any pilot who would conduct his flotilla into the
harbour. He was, therefore, anchored in the open road, in what was
considered a fine, if not an impregnable, position. There were thirteen
French ships and four frigates; the guns numbered eleven hundred and
ninety-six and the men eleven thousand two hundred and thirty; they were
animated by much of that stern, fanatic enthusiasm which had enabled the
Republicans to win so many stupendous victories on land.

Under Sir Horatio Nelson's command were the same number of ships, but
slightly fewer guns and eight thousand and sixty-eight men. A north-west
wind bore the British Fleet towards the shoals where the French lay
anchored; at half-past six in the evening the guns of the _Goliath_
under Captain Foley, broke the hot blue silence. By a brilliant and
unexpected manoeuvre the British, to use technical language, "doubled the
enemy's van," that is, Captains Hood and Foley in the _Goliath_ and
the _Zealous_ got between the French ships and the shore, thus
escaping Brueys's gunfire, for all his cannon were pointed seawards, and
in a few minutes disabled the French ships. With six colours flying, so
that in case any were shot away, the flagship should not appear to have
struck, Sir Horatio opened a murderous cannonade, which permitted the
_Minotaur_, the _Bellerophon_, the _Defence_ and the
_Majestic_ to sail on ahead into the heart of the enemy's squadron
and anchor close to the French ships. The French gunners returned the
terrific British fire, but intermittently, and, as it seemed, without
much heart or direction. They had been discouraged by the unexpected
flank attack that was so brilliantly executed.

Admiral Brueys who was in command of the Republican Fleet, was a
Languedoc noble, in the prime of life, who had been specially selected by
the young General Bonaparte for this responsible charge; he was bold and
capable, had been trained in the famous "_gardes de la Marine_"
under the Monarchy and had since well served the Republic. His fault was
over-confidence; he had a superiority of 184 guns and 3,162 men over the
British and had not believed that they would venture to attack him; he
had made the best of his position in the fairway by anchoring in a strong
line of battle, but there were no shore batteries to protect him, and the
wind that filled his sails was blowing the British forward, nor had he
thought it possible for the enemy to anchor in the shallow water between
his van and the shore. There was a French garrison at Rosetta at the
mouth of the Nile, but this was too far off to do other than view the
engagement from a distance. The African coast was lined by Arabs and
Egyptians, who stood on the sandy shore or on the roofs of their flat
white houses, watching the Europeans slaughter one another, indifferent
to the course of the fight, but hoping for a spectacle and some plunder.

They were not disappointed; the French fought tenaciously, but with the
desperation of men who believed that, from the first, they were doomed to
defeat. Admiral Villeneuve, who commanded the rear, had lost hope from
the moment he observed Nelson's manoeuvre, which had opened the attack,
and the anchoring of the British ships between their enemies and the
shore, which exposed the French to the fatal crossfire.

The swift eastern night fell purple over the yellow coast and the violet
sea; it was broken by hundreds of lights; the constant red and orange
flash of the gunfire spurting from the decks of the combatants, the
groups of four lamps on the rigging of the British ships that were their
distinguishing marks in the dark, the random lanterns of the Republicans,
the reflections glowing in the dark waters, the bonfires kindled by the
watching Africans and the dull gleam in their windows as they lit up
their chambers. The frightful din of the combat filled the hot night with
a frenzy of sound; the sombre boom of the cannon was broken by the ragged
sounds of explosions, fierce shouts of command, the crackle of musketry,
the crash of falling sails and rigging.

The courage of the French was as great as that of the British, their
cause was at least as good, as they fought for an abstract idealism; but
they knew that they were no match for the jailbirds, pressed men, and
hardened ruffians, individually so wretched and base, but in combination
composing an invincible navy, who affronted them.

Many, perhaps the majority, of the British sailors, were there
unwillingly, their condition, as the two great mutinies had recently
proved, was that of slaves; they knew little of what the war was about;
the Frenchmen were mostly volunteers, animated by a lively patriotism,
enthusiastically prepared to die for a lofty, if impossible, ideal. Yet
the victory went to the nation always unconquerable at sea. The knowledge
that France had never beaten Britain at sea was in every heart during the
bloody struggle, stimulating Sir Horatio Nelson's men as it disheartened
the Republicans.

The British losses were heavy; the great ships were so closely entangled
that every cannonade swept off victims; three times the gunners on the
_Vanguard_ were dragged away dead, three times replaced by men naked
to the waist, while, in the flares of uncertain light, the powder monkeys
ran up, slipping in blood, with fresh ammunition or with pails of water
to dash over the red-hot guns.

Each British ship made for a Frenchman, anchored close to her, and raked
her at close range; the _Bellerophon_ anchored by the starboard bow
of _L'Orient_ (formerly the _Sant Culotte_), the French
flagship; so skilfully had the British movements been made that Nelson's
battle-line remained unbroken as ship after ship moved forward, closing
in upon the despairing, but obstinate enemy.

After an engagement of two hours the eighth French ship struck her
colours; the flag of the Revolution dragged amid shattered rigging. Sir
Horatio had scarcely received the news of the last surrender, when he was
hit by a stray shot that sent him down on his own quarter-deck with the
exclamation: "I am killed! Remember me to my wife!"

He was carried down to where the maimed and dying were huddled in the
cockpit, the ship's hospital, where the surgeon, with arms red to the
elbows, worked among the filthy, bloodstained straw by the light of
swinging oil-lamps. The Admiral insisted on taking his turn with the
other wounded; he waited in total darkness; the wound had cast a piece of
flesh down over his one good eye; when at length the surgeon lifted this,
Horatio could see again, but only through a rain of blood. He believed
that he was dying and again sent his remembrances to his wife, and called
the chaplain. He also sent for Captain Louis of the _Minotaur_ to
thank him for the help he had given the flagship, and made other
arrangements among his officers. The surgeon assured him that the wound
was not dangerous and prayed him to be quiet, but with heroic energy the
Admiral tried to dictate despatches. His secretary, Mr. Campbell, when he
was called to this task, was so overcome at the blind and bleeding state
of Sir Horatio, who appeared to be dying and yet was enthusiastic, that
he could not take down the dictated words, on which the wounded man
supported himself on his elbow, and, sightless as he was, endeavoured to
trace a few words on the letter-case he took from Campbell's shaking
hand, describing the state of the battle.

Close by, in the flame-split darkness another brave man was suffering
martyrdom--Admiral Brueys, thrice wounded, had refused to leave his post;
his tricolour sash soaked red by his own blood, the Frenchman lay along
his ship's deck, beneath the shot-tattered colours of the Republic, and
gave the only orders left to him to give--those to die unflinchingly.

Close beside him, in the glare and din, stood a boy of nine years of age,
wearing the colours of France in his little cap and looking out for his
father among the officers who hurried to and fro. A fragment from a
bursting gun almost severed the dying Admiral's legs from his body; he
gave orders that he was to remain on deck; it was plain to all on board
the flagship that she, hemmed in by six British ships and a target for
their incessant fire, could not last. The superb _L'Orient_, a
three-decker that carried a thousand men and a hundred and twenty guns,
towered above her assailants, like the bulk of a great beast brought down
by a pack of hounds; a treasure of £600,000 sterling was aboard her; she
was splendidly y equipped and richly furnished. About half-past nine one
of her sister ships, _Le Peuple Souverain_, dark and dumb, drifted
helplessly out of the line; from _L'Orient_ came only a slow,
uncertain fire, as some dying gunner dragged himself to his task; then,
dreadful, even in that dreadful scene, the cry went from vessel to
vessel, from mouth to mouth. _"L'Orient_ is on fire!" The vast and
majestic ship began to be outlined in flames, pots of oil and buckets of
paint were lying about on the deck, for the beautiful vessel had been in
progress of refurnishing when the British had come after her; the flames
soon licked these and then rose towering high, like infernal torches, to
light the hideous scene. So fierce and sudden was the conflagration that
it was impossible to use the fire-buckets or to take any means of saving
the blazing ship--the funeral pyre for the mangled body of Admiral
Brueys. The Republicans hurled themselves into the water, which was
reddened by blood and illuminated by the reflection of flames, covered by
huddled spars, tangled wreckage and the shattered bodies of men. The
battle continued, but even amid the din of battle the climax of horror
was the burning of the French flagship, and all the other ships' crews
saw one another by the light of these murderous flames, which rose above
them all till they seemed to lick the distant stars.

At eleven o'clock the fire reached the powder magazine of the
_L'Orient_, and with a burst of sound so violent as to drown even
the fury of the cannonading, the French flagship was blown up.

The magnificent structure was split into thousands of splintered
fragments, which were thrown high into the air, mere specks against the
vermilion-orange of the background; as the booming thunder died sullenly
away, there was a silence that meant a lull in the combat. The nearest
British ship, _The Alexander_, was desperately sluicing down her

The pause in the tumult brought Sir Horatio, half blind, staggering on
deck, leaning on the arm of his captain; the sight of the vast furnace
before him caused him to forget everything but a rush of human feeling;
he ordered the one boat he had available to be put out to save the
possible survivors of the _L'Orient_. About seventy of the drowning
Frenchmen were rescued by the British boat. Among them had been seen, for
a second, the white face of the French boy, the son of the Commodore,
Casa-Bianca, before he sank with his father.

There was something in this disaster that impressed even the most
excited, the most hardened, the most inured to scenes of horror.

The light of the explosion had revealed other French ships drifting
dismasted and helpless and silent. Even the brutalized victors felt a
touch of pity for so complete a defeat; but, as an English sailor,
Captain Miller, afterwards wrote: "All feelings of compassion were
stifled by the remembrance of the numerous and horrid atrocities this
unprincipled and bloodthirsty nation had committed, and when
_L'Orient_ blew up about eleven o'clock, though I endeavoured to
stop the momentary cheer of the ship's company, my heart scarce felt a
single pang for their fate."

The French did not accept their overwhelming defeat tamely. After a lull
of horror the ships in the rear began firing again and fought on with
heroic obstinacy, although little was left of them but damaged hulls.
Throughout the night they struck one after the other. With the dawn two
went aground; with the rising of the sun hardly a tricolour fluttered in
Aboukir Bay.

One of the French frigates, in proud despair, blew herself up; ten mere
riddled shells surrendered--five were sunk; the Généreux and the
_Guillaume Tell_ and two frigates escaped to the west. Over four
thousand Frenchmen died for the Republic that night; those that were cast
away on the shores were murdered by Arabs, who, in fascinated excitement,
had crowded along the edge of the waves and watched the fantastic
spectacle presented under the August night.

It was a great victory. It was, as Sir Horatio declared, more than a
victory, "it was a conquest," and one not too dearly gained.

The British had lost, in killed and wounded, not many more than eight
hundred men; none of their ships was completely disabled; the prize-money
would be handsome (though the huge fortune on _L'Orient_ was lost),
the honour overwhelming.

The wounded hero, with his wan face and bandaged head, ordered a public
thanksgiving on every ship of the Fleet and began his announcement of the
triumph with the usual formula: "Almighty God, having blessed His
Majesty's arms with victory--"

He was pleased with his men--how superior was "their discipline and good
order to the riotous behaviour of lawless Frenchmen."

He did not mention the captain of the _Goliath_ in his
despatches--was it the Sir William Parker episode over again? Glory was
not a commodity that Sir Horatio could afford to share. While Captain
Foley remained unnoticed, Nelson's friend and flag-captain, Edward Berry,
went to London to advertise extensively and skilfully the glorious
conduct and brilliant success of Horatio Nelson; no one quite knew
whether Captain Foley had acted on his own initiative or not in the
brilliant manoeuvre which had secured the initial success of the battle.

* * * * *

After victory, the fruits of victory! There were some gloriously
gratifying things to be done. There was the dead French Admiral's sword
to be sent to the City of London; there was a letter to be dispatched to
Sir William Hamilton.

"Almighty God has made me the happiest Englishman in destroying the
enemy's fleet, which I hope will be a blessing to Europe. You will have
the goodness to communicate this happy event to all the Courts in Italy.
My head is so indifferent that I can scarcely scrawl this letter. I have
intercepted all Bonaparte's dispatches going to France; his armies must
break and will not get out."

When General Bonaparte's letters were deciphered, they were found to
contain heartening news. The great Frenchman had been quarrelling with
his Generals; _L'Orient_ had had a cargo of ingots of gold and
diamonds. The French hoped to seize Egypt, and in time India. It was all
wonderfully exciting. Sir Horatio's head was splitting with the noise and
his wound, loss of blood, and the nausea of sea-sickness. He could not
forbear, however, from writing to the fair Ambassadress at Naples; the
hero was panting for his reward.

"My dear Lady Hamilton,

"You will soon be able to see the wreck of Horatio Nelson. May it count
for a kindly judgment if scars are marks of honour."

* * * * *

In Naples the suspense had been nerve-racking. So excited was the Queen
that it might have been thought that the French Fleet was on its way to
attack her capital, instead of having been engaged on quite different
business. Emma, too, was keyed up into a state of almost intolerable
tension, which, together with the August heat, the terror of the King,
and the agitation of Sir William, made her almost lose control of her
patriotic ambitions.

When the great news came at last through Captain Capel, on his way with
dispatches to London, she quite lost her control; the Queen and Emma both
fainted; but Maria Carolina soon revived to give a display of violent
hysterics. In a frenzy of enthusiasm she expressed herself with the
blatant manner only possible to an excited woman. Kissing her relieved
husband and clutching to her bosom her astonished children, embracing
everyone who happened to cross her path, she ran about the palace
exclaiming: "O, brave Nelson, O God bless and protect our brave
deliverer! O, Nelson, what do we not owe to you, saviour of Italy! O,
that my swollen heart could tell him personally what we owe to him."

She laughed, cried, clapped her hands, wept and prayed at the same
moment. An unprejudiced spectator might have thought that she had
received the news she was to be Queen of the world, in permanent

This excessive royal joy was equalled by that of the Hamiltons. Sir
William felt a great load off his withered heart and bent shoulders. His
nation had glorified itself by most emphatic action; he felt himself
deputy for a hero as he scribbled: "It is impossible for any words to
express in any degree the joy that the account of the glorious and
complete victory occasioned at this Court and in this city."

Taking refuge in hyperbole, he declared to Sir Horatio that no history,
whether ancient or modern, recorded such a magnificent action; and in his
excitement he forgot that he had had the acquaintance of the victorious
Admiral only for four days, and added: "You may well conceive, my dear
sir, how happy Emma and I are at the reflection that you, our bosom
friend, have done such wondrous good in having humbled these proud
robbers and vain boasters."

Emma, of course, had to have her say. When the Queen could be a little
quieted, when she could contrive a moment or two to herself, she scrawled
out her congratulations to Horatio Nelson:

"My dear, dear Sir, what shall I say to you? It is impossible I can
write, for since last Sunday I am delirious with joy and assure you I
have a fever caused by agitation and pleasure. Never, never has there
been anything so glorious. I fainted when I heard the glorious news, and
fell on my side and was hurt. I should feel it a glory to die in such a
cause. No, I would not like to die till I see and embrace the victor of
the Nile."

Characteristically, there was a postscriptum which related to millinery.
Emotion had deprived Emma of the careful restraint that, under Sir
William's anxious teaching, she had learned to keep over her essential
vulgarity. Without Charles Greville to choose her clothes or Sir William
to advise upon them, she went wildly astray. "My dress, from head to
foot, is all a Nelson; even my shawl is blue with gold anchors all over;
my earrings are Nelson's anchor; in short, we are be-Nelsoned all over."

She had found time, while the joy bells were ringing, and the

Queen screaming in hysterics, and the Royal children clapping their
hands, and Sir John Acton sobbing with relief, and the King grunting his
approval, to run to the shops and to the dressmakers and to order these
curious and unbecoming ornaments.

She had other pleasant tasks in hand, too; there was the Palazzo Sessa to
decorate, there was a festival to arrange; by now she was an adept at
festivals; there must be a supper and a ball, and of course, there were
the hero's apartments to prepare, and the Italian orchestra must be
taught to play "Rule Britannia" and "God Save the King" and some nautical

The heat was suffocating; fans fluttered in all the palatial apartments,
nets were drawn before all the windows; those who could, rested behind
shutters during the heat of the day, but Emma was abroad, ordering this
and supervising that.

She thought nothing of either trouble or expense; what did it matter if
Sir William was already somewhat in debt, if she had lately been
outrunning her income? This was not an occasion for economy or prudence.

Mrs. Cadogan, the smug mother, helped with the easy energy of a woman
used to these excitements. There was so much to be got ready--shawls for
Emma's attitudes, the tambourines she used when she danced the
tarantella, the lights for the alcove where she posed, her music to be
looked out, wax candles to be laid in by the hundred, baskets and baskets
of roses, peaches, nectarines, early grapes, roses, lilies and whatever
else could be obtained to be ordered, fresh servants to be hired, new
liveries to be commanded, wine in the cool cellars to be set ready to be
brought up, fireworks to be prepared, and the whole household to be
coaxed and scolded and drilled into an orgy of enthusiasm for "Britannia"
and "Britannia's" hero.

* * * * *

Neither the Queen nor Emma, nor, indeed, anyone in the Palace or the
British Embassy, noticed the cold and sullen calm with which the city of
Naples received the news of the French defeat. The Neapolitan patriots
were silenced, but not disheartened. Neither the crammed prisons, nor the
increased troops, nor the thousands of spies, nor the efforts of the
Giunta had been able to quell their spirits. While the Queen raved and
Emma bustled, the patriots waited and endured.

The defeat of the French at Aboukir Bay which left General Bonaparte shut
up in Africa with twenty-three thousand men, put an end to the hopes of
the Neapolitans of a speedy deliverance from the Bourbon through
intervention of French arms.

"Victory," said the victor, "is not a name strong enough for such a

Nor despair a word strong enough for the emotion felt by those oppressed
by the tyranny of Ferdinand, Maria Carolina and Sir John Acton, when they
heard the news that had sent the Queen and Emma unconscious to the

Unrepresented, silenced by a misgovernment as unjustified as it was
intolerable, the Neapolitans went on cautiously and bitterly with their
secret schemes for deliverance, while the alien Queen, with her foreign
Minister, and her foreign confidante, rejoiced so grossly at the foreign



Sir Horatio Nelson Was Fully Occupied, As Was Emma, with the fruits of
victory. He could not at once set sail for Naples; dizzy from the wound
in his head--the pain was so intense that he believed his skull was
fractured--sleepless, continually sea-sick, shaken by the nervous
reaction after the long pursuit and the tremendous battle, Sir Horatio
showed an heroic energy in striving to get the utmost out of his victory.

The loss of his frigates, to his intense annoyance, prevented him from
following up his success as he would have wished. Two French ships
staggered away.

The British squadron had to be refitted, and it was only by the help of
his faithful friends, Troubridge, Ball, Hood and Hallowell, that the
Admiral was able to undertake this exertion. He also took upon himself to
send an officer overland from Alexandretta to India with dispatches to
the Governor of Bombay. He had complained of the bombastic tone he had
found in General Bonaparte's letters; his were no ill match.

"I trust that God Almighty will overthrow in Egypt the bane of the human
race. Bonaparte has never had yet to contend with an English officer, and
I shall endeavour to make him respect us."

Lieutenant Thomas Duval carried these letters, announcing the victory of
the Nile, overland; this done, the dispatches dictated, read through, and
Captain Edward Berry sent off with them to be a forerunner of Sir
Horatio's glory in London, the sick and nervous Admiral, shaken by his
own fatigue and his own glory, set about putting his victorious fleet in
readiness to sail.

Aboukir Bay through those blazing days of summer was a fearful sight with
corrupting swollen bodies floating about and tangled masses of the wrecks
of the noblest ships of France. On the shore the Arabs burned the dead
bodies and searched the driftage for any iron it might contain. The
_Swiftsure_ hooked up a portion of _L'Orient_'s mainmast out of
the ugly medley in the polluted water, and Captain Ben Hallowell, a
sardonic Canadian, ordered his carpenters to make a coffin of it, using
both wood and iron.

When this rude casket, made of such strange materials, was finished,
Captain Hallowell sent it to the Admiral with this note: "Sir, I have
taken the liberty of presenting you with a coffin made from the mainmast
of _L'Orient_, that, when you have finished your military career in
this world, you may be buried in one of your trophies, but that that
period may be far distant is the earnest wish of your sincere friend,
Benjamin Hallowell."

Sir Horatio ordered the coffin to be placed upright in his cabin, where
it might be constantly before his eyes.

It seemed that he might soon lie within it; he became extremely ill with
fever brought on by fatigue, nervous tension, the blow on the head, and
the queer kind of spiritual exaltation that was raging within his racked

He wrote to Lord St. Vincent on a note of despair: "I never expect, my
dear Lord, to see your face again. May it please God that this is the
finish to that fever of anxiety which I have endured from the middle of
June. Be that which pleases His goodness; I am resigned to His will."

The shattered man was, however, at what his contemporaries termed "the
summit of glory" and had no material occasion for his gloom and misery,
save only his wretched health. He longed to be at Naples, but not
immediately could he accept Sir William's passionate invitation: "Come
here, for God's sake, my dear friend, as soon as the Service will let
you. A pleasant apartment is ready for you in my house and Emma is
looking out for the softest pillows to repose the few weary limbs you
have left."

* * * * *

Maria Carolina and the Hamiltons were not the only people to become
hysterical upon the news of the victory of the Nile. A had swept through
England. Captain Edward frenzy of rejoicing Berry was knighted for
bringing the news; Lord Spencer wrote from Whitehall sincere
congratulations on the very brilliant and signal service you have
performed for your country, the glorious action of 1st of August last,
which most certainly has not its parallel in naval history"--while the
destruction of the French Fleet moved Lady Spencer to strains that Emma
could not have bettered:

"Joy, joy, joy to you, brave, gallant, immortalized Nelson. May that
great God whose cause you so valiantly support take you to his refuge at
the end of your brilliant career. All, all that I can say falls short of
my wishes."

There were now likely to be laurels enough, armfuls of them, not only
from his own country, but from all over Europe. Whatever reward he wished
for he was likely to obtain, but the sick, nervous man was as unhappy as
he had been in his neglected days of obscure struggle. Even his own
sailors thought him strange in his manner, they reminded one another of
the wound in the head, while the victor wrote to his wife, dwelling on
his victory, his illness, his splitting head; he had continually to sink
exhausted in his cabin, scorched with fever, light-headed from pain, but
he was soon up again and his work was well and swiftly done. Three of the
badly damaged prizes he burnt; he valued them at £60,000 and hoped that
he might count on the Government for so much. The other six prizes were
sent home under the escort of Sir James Saumarez; Captain Hood was left
with six ships in Aboukir Bay, and not much more than a fortnight after
the victory the British Fleet turned towards the brilliant city where
Emma was making ready her grandiose welcome.

The voyage across the Mediterranean was difficult for the disabled ships.
The _Vanguard_ had been so badly damaged that for the last part of
the voyage she had to be towed. Sir Horatio, lamenting that for four
years and nine months he had not had a moment's rest for mind or body,
lay in his cabin, struggling with nervous sensations more horrible than
any wound. He felt as if "a girth were buckled taut over my breast, and I
endeavour in the night to get it loose."

From the windows of the Palazzo Sessa, Emma watched the sea in a frenzy
of impatience. In the weeks that had passed since the battle the Queen's
hysterics had scarcely abated; she had written to the Neapolitan
Ambassador in London: "I wish I could give wings to the bearer of the
news, at the same time to our most sincere gratitude. The whole of the
sea coast of Italy is saved, but this is owing alone to the generous
English. This battle, or, to speak more correctly, this total defeat of
the Regicides' squadron was obtained by the valour of this brave Admiral,
seconded by a Navy which is the terror of his enemies. The victory is so
complete that I can still scarcely believe it, and if it were not the
brave English nation which is accustomed to perform prodigies by sea, I
could not save myself from doubting it...Recommend the hero to his
master, he has filled the whole of Italy with admiration of the
English...All here are drunk with joy..."

England was then to the Queen "that unique great and illustrious nation,"
that had beaten "the infernal French." Emma also referred to the nation
described by the Queen as "_ces monstres nos voisons_"--"as cursed
France!" "infernal French!" "the abominable French Council!"

While Maria Carolina was writing that everyone in Naples was drunk with
joy, she overlooked some details that might have been considered likely
to mar this delirium of delight. The British victory had decided her to
plunge into war with France--but her fever-racked army was undrilled,
unequipped and the only means of drawing the guns was by oxen, winter was
coming on and nothing was ready. In brief, despite the Aboukir Bay
success, the Queen had many difficulties to face before she could hope to
meet the French on equal terms, but she troubled about none of them; well
might Baron Alquier, who knew her well, write of her:

"The life of the Queen is nothing but a series of errors and
regrets...tormented by a desire to govern...her habit of meddling has
been nothing short of disastrous for Europe."

* * * * *

The third week in September the _Culloden_ and the _Alexander_
appeared in the bay, giving notice of the approach of the flagship; the
sight of the British colours in the harbour was the signal for an
explosion of delirious joy among the Court party and the anti-French the
patriots were silent, regarding one another with sad, ironic looks, the
aristocracy held contemptuously aloof.

In charge of the Neapolitan Fleet he had laboured so hard to equip,
Prince Francesco Caracciolo watched the hubbub without comment. The
French Resident, the charming aristocrat, General de Canclaux, whom the
Directory had sent to Naples, on being ignored, had left his impossible
post some time before. He had been succeeded by Mackau, his chargé
d'affaires, a shrewd and fiery _sans-culotte_, who had given great
offence by his efforts on behalf of the imprisoned patriots. Mackau had
been replaced by Garat, a pedantic idealogue who was, however, honest and
bold, and he had been followed by his secretary Lacheze. This man had now
to stand aside and watch Maria Carolina, in spite of all promises and
treaties, flaunt herself openly as an ally of Great Britain and an enemy
of the Republic.

The Queen's conduct however, caused Lacheze no surprise, his unsuccessful
efforts to obtain the release of the political prisoners had shown him
her temper; he remained watchful, in touch with Rome, where Masséna had
succeeded Berthier. Though it could hardly be said that General Bonaparte
"had turned the Mediterranean into a French lake" and had cut the British
trade-route with India, the French still occupied the whole of Italy save
Venice, which was held by the Emperor, and the tricolour still floated
above Valetta--twenty leagues from Sicily--Hompesch had surrendered Malta
to General Bonaparte six weeks before the Aboukir Bay battle.

Lacheze, a violent Jacobin, had, however, much to gall him; there were
five Portuguese vessels in the bay under the command of the Comte de
Puységur, a French royalist; there had been the alliance with the Empire
in May of that year; there was the murder of General Duphot in Rome;
there was the flagrant violation of neutrality in the watering of the
British Fleet at Syracuse--but Lacheze could do nothing but lower in the
background and cry: "Tout est vieux en Europe et tout s'achemine vers la
ruine, excepté la France!"

Cardinal Fabrizio Ruffo in Paris tried to persuade the Directory that the
warlike preparations of His Sicilian Majesty were against the Corsairs,
not against France, while the Directory decided to recall Lacheze, whose
Republicanism was too violent to be any longer fashionable, and to send
in his place General Lacombe Saint Michel to try moderate counsels.

Meanwhile Lacheze had to stand aside and watch the King and Queen of
Naples receive the man who had destroyed the French Fleet.

* * * * *

On September 22nd in the golden weather that was beginning to have the
thick, drowsy air of an Italian autumn, the _Vanguard_ patched and
shattered, came into the bay and was at once surrounded by hundreds of
barges, gaily decorated by fluttering pennons, and by boats flying the
English and Neapolitan colours, by music, and shouting, and huzzas; a
richly decorated barge, which flew the arms of Britain, carrying His
Britannic Majesty's Minister and his lady, came up alongside the battered
man-of-war; the Hamiltons were accompanied by a band of musicians, who
were energetically playing "Rule Britannia"; the stirring melody sounded
extremely well on the French horns.

Emma was attired in the special dress she had had designed for the
occasion--a blue shawl embroidered with gold anchors, the same nautical
emblems, designed in gold, dangling from her ears, a long white dress
with small buttons, on which were embroidered large initials of "N" in
gold, and a sash of the national colours.

Sir William was attired in a more orthodox fashion, in brocade, with
powdered hair, in those breeches and laces and elegant fopperies that
were fast becoming the mark of a past generation and a dead order of

With them was a thronging medley of secretaries and servants; lap-dogs
and monkeys were scrambling over tables, on which were the last
overblown, vivid Neapolitan flowers, flagons of iced sherbet, baskets of
fruit, wine and sweetmeats.

Emma had been shouting directions with great energy as the barge made its
slow progress across the bay, and as it neared the side of the
_Vanguard_, it seemed as if her emotion would prove too much for her
control; she began to strike one of her famous attitudes, clasped her
hands and cast up her eyes, until the captain of the barge, fearful that
it would upset, ventured to ask the patriotic lady to keep quiet, until
he had manoeuvred alongside the British man-of-war.

The Ambassador's lady subsided, but not for long; it was a great moment,
and one that suited her and pleased her from the crown of her head to the
tips of her toes.

She was swung on to the deck of the _Vanguard_ (from which all
traces of blood, fire and powder had been removed by scrubbing and
cleaning), in the basket used for conveying lady passengers on board a
man-of-war. Released from this grotesque contraption, she looked about
her and saw standing before her the long-expected hero. With a shriek:
"Oh, God, is it possible"--and bursting into the tears she could so
readily command, she cast herself at the disfigured hero, brushed his
breast, slid down his one arm, and then fell prone on the deck. Thus they
met, Moll Cleopatra and Mark Antony from a Norfolk vicarage.

Sir Horatio found the scene deeply affecting. When Sir William scrambled
up the side of the warship, Emma was raised between them and escorted
down to the state cabin; they all wept together.

From the boats clustered in the bay rose shouts of "Deliverer! Preserver!
Conqueror!" and strains of "Rule Britannia" and "God Save the King" came
from hundreds of different instruments.

The _lazzaroni_ lining the quay sent up cheer after cheer, and
encaged birds were released as a Symbol of Joy, till the blue air was
full of busy, winged things.

Emma was still sobbing, Sir Horatio and Sir William were leaning on each
other, all overcome with emotion, when news came that His Majesty, King
Ferdinand, with his Queen, was alongside the _Vanguard_; so the
three must go on deck at once to welcome the Sovereigns of Naples.

As the hero and the beauty came up into the sunlight together, they would
have been to an impartial spectator an ill-matched pair.

Easy living, freedom from care, plenty of rich food and fine wine, had
broadened and coarsened Emma since the days when George Romney had been
able to paint her as a wood-nymph or Ariadne. She had always been tall,
and now she appeared enormous the span of her shoulders vast, and her
waist unbecomingly thick; her feet, always large, had not improved with
the years, and she had developed the heavy, slightly wobbling walk of a
middle-aged woman who had run to flesh. She had lost, also, some of the
magnificent tresses which, in her own imagination at least, had once
fluttered round her heels; the famous chestnut locks had been clipped
close round the shapely head in the antique fashion, but still hung
richly in a profusion of curls; Emma might still be termed beautiful, a
goddess, a Juno, a superhumanly handsome creature, though her complexion
had coarsened from the lovely rose in which George Romney had delighted,
and was like a stain on the broadening cheek; her nose had developed a
slight aquiline curve and the flatness of the face, the length of the
neck, were now distinctly visible defects. There yet remained the vivid
colouring, the magnificent lustrous eyes, the beautiful mouth, the
woman's triumphant air of being an acknowledged beauty. Her fame was over
her like a golden veil, her self-confidence disarmed criticism. She was
Emma, fashioned by twenty years of praise, by the adoration of Romney, by
the homage of noblemen, by the friendship of a Queen. She had for long
held a position of authority. Her voice, once carefully modulated to
please Charles Greville and Sir William, had become loud and insistent.
She chattered Italian with a Neapolitan accent, interspersed with English
sentences, touched by the tones of Flintshire. She gesticulated
violently--at every third or fourth movement she struck an attitude,
graceful, dramatic, incongruous.

No one had cared to inquire what her character had become during these
Neapolitan years. Her position had been that of a friend of the Queen's
and the wife of Sir William; not much of grace or dignity, of honesty or
generosity, could be expected of a woman who successfully filled two such

Many scandals had gathered round her; the nobility loathed her as much as
the _lazzaroni_ liked her; her past and her present combined against
her. It was said in the intellectual _salons_ of Naples that she
owed her position, her domestic felicity more to Sir William's blindness
than to her own good conduct. To the Italians, the British Minister
resembled the well-known figure of their national comedy.

The senile pantaloon's wife need not be faithful, since he so stupidly
dotes on her, that, while he is kissing one of her hands, with the other
she is passing a note to a lover.

Such as Emma Hamilton was, there she stood on board the _Vanguard_
against her vivid background, beside the hero.

And the hero was satisfied with her; indeed, he wept with delighted,
gratified vanity, when he found himself so dazzlingly rewarded by so
beautiful a woman.

He saw no flaw in Emma. To him she was as beautiful as she ever had been
to Charles Greville or George Romney; a superb creature, incontestably
divine. Sir Horatio Nelson was himself of insignificant appearance,
frail, even mean looking; but the haggard, lined face, the drooping,
sensual underlip, the untidy tousle of hay-coloured hair, had already
become symbolic of British sea-power. The little figure in the
baffle-worn, weather-stained blue uniform with the empty sleeve, white
breeches falling over the shrunken legs, a patch over the inflamed eye, a
cocked hat set on with a reckless air, was already known all over the
world as a type of the naval glory of England. Ignorant of everything
save his chosen profession, uneducated save in the school of war,
scarcely a gentleman, and vulgar-souled, the hero had yet, for all his
nerves, vanities, humours, and eccentricities, a brilliant air of being
above his fellows, a flash of some genius and heroism that made him seem
superior to better men.

* * * * *

The King's gorgeous, cumbrous state-barge was alongside the
_Vanguard_, rocking on the blue-gold veiled waters of the bay.
Magnificent above all the magnificence in the harbour was the Royal
scarlet pavilion on which were emblazoned all the complicated honours of
the Spanish Bourbons. Good-naturedly pleased with the excitement, and
relieved from the strain of months of panic and fear, King Ferdinand
scrambled on board, an imposing figure with his rolling profile, his
staring pale eyes, and full lips; His Majesty chattered voluble
Neapolitan dialect, as he handed his Austrian Queen forward.

Sir Horatio could not understand a word that the Sovereigns said, nor had
they a syllable of English. But no interpreter was necessary; it was
understood that everything was joyful, fervent felicitations made the
very air glow.

When the British officers landed on the great quay, beneath the
semi-circle of flat-roofed houses, the colour of dead flowers, beneath
terraces of agaves and arbutus, the high, dark pines beyond, with the
Palace before them, and the great formidable fort above on one side, the
Castle and the lighthouse on the other, the whole edged by the radiance
of the Southern light, amid shouts of welcome and the flying flags, the
flutterings of the released doves, and the playing of "Rule, Britannia,"
there was created an illusion that this was indeed the summit of
felicity. It was Ulysses and his companions landing on the island of
Circe, it was Rinaldo and his knights entering the garden of Armida, it
was King Arthur and his fellows of the round table touching the shores of
the Fortunate Isles; it was all this and more to Horatio Nelson.

At night the luxurious city blazed with illuminations, the rockets split
into coloured stars in the purple air. In front of the Palazzo Sessa the
initials of the victorious Admiral blazed in fairy-lamps; all the
shipping in the harbour was outlined with strings of coloured lights; the
music was incessant--every fiddler was scraping out "Rule Britannia" or
the British National Anthem; fair fingers were plucking out these
melodies on guitars and zithers, crowds were singing them in the streets,
embracing the sight-seeing British sailors.

In the handsome apartments of the Palazzo Sessa Sir William's Etruscan
vases, his antique bronzes, his cabinets of ivories and coins, were
twined with laurel wreaths, and ribbons with the famous initial and every
nautical emblem that Emma could think of. To her the most familiar of
these was an anchor, and anchors there were in plenty, in ribbon, in gold
cord, in paste, in flowers, hanging on her own broad white bosom and
tangled in her own chestnut locks.

The conquering hero was flattered by the rescued Queen who, with her
children clinging to her ample skirts, would have made a touching picture
of beauty just rescued from distress, had she not been so obviously
courageous herself. Her firm, jutting jaw, her sparkling eyes, the energy
of her ferocious denunciations of the French were hardly suited to the
language of a timid female, snatched from her enemies. Vengeance was the
Queen's first desire.

Everyone was very happy; Sir William gave a great festival to celebrate
the fortieth birthday of the British Admiral, a dinner with covers for
eighty, a ball for nearly a thousand, for which he incurred debt to the
amount of six thousand ducats.

All the Court party were there. There was everything that a lavish hand
could provide, that a decadent society could enjoy, and a superb climate
adorn. Count Francis Esterhazy also gave a huge ball. But the hero was
still the son of the Norfolk parsonage; he believed himself a man like
David, raised up by God to do his work, and sick and giddy as he still
was, he doubted if the Calvinistic Deity, in whom he so firmly believed,
would have been quite at home in the Neapolitan Court, and he viewed at
first with disgust his surroundings.

The men seemed to him effeminate, the women depraved; he felt nauseated
by the rich, unfamiliar food, he was sickened by the powerful wine, the
pungent scent, deafened by the incessant music, the high voices of the
women, the inane compliments of the men. He did not like what he could
see of the government, corrupt, foolish, and treacherous. Nowhere did he
find his own spirit of nervous energy; neither King Ferdinand nor the
Queen nor Sir John Acton seemed to wish to do anything but laugh and
feast and talk. Even the violent and active spirit of Maria Carolina
seemed directed to random ends.

In the middle of all the gilded festival, wholly for his benefit, the
hero wrote: "This court is so enervated...I am very unwell and their
miserable conduct is not likely to cool my irritable temper. It is a
country of fiddlers and poets, whores and scoundrels."

But the bilious attack passed; and he began to recover some health and
spirit. In the golden rain of incessant adulation his simple vanity began
to expand. He wrote to Fanny:

"All Naples call me _Nostro Liberatore_, and my greetings from the
lower classes was truly affecting. I hope some day to have the pleasure
of introducing you to Lady Hamilton, she is one of the very best women in
the world, she is an honour to her sex; her kindness and Sir William's to
me is more than I can express. I am in their house, and I may tell you it
required all the kindness of my friends to set me up...

"Celebrations from Lady Hamilton, celebrating my birthday to-morrow, are
enough to fill me with vanity; every ribbon, every button was Nelson; the
whole service was marked, H.N., glorious 1st of August. Songs and honours
are numerous beyond what I can ever deserve. I send you the additional
verse to 'God Save the King,' and I know you will sing it with pleasure."

The pictures of the battle still hung in his disturbed mind and clouded
his spirits. Sometimes he felt a little uneasy that he was not wholly
pleasing the God with whom he had identified himself. He regretted that
the French ship, _Guillaume Tell_ had escaped.

"I trust God Almighty will yet put her into the hands of our King. His
all powerful hand has gone with us to the battle, protected us and still
continues to destroy the unbelievers. All Glory be to God."

To his father he wrote in an exalted strain:

"The Almighty has made me an instrument of human happiness and I am daily
receiving the thanks and prayers of Turks and Christians."

In a half-understanding of his own weakness, he added:

"All my caution will be necessary to prevent vanity from showing itself
superior to my gratitude."

The rewards came showering in. They were perhaps more than any man had
received before. On October 6th he was gazetted "_Baron Nelson of the
Nile, and of Burnham Thorpe in the County of Norfolk._" This was not
what he had expected, but at least it was a peerage.

There was an uproar among his friends in Naples that he had not received
an Earldom like Sir John Jervis or a Viscounty like Admiral Duncan.

"Hang them," cried Lady Hamilton, in a fury of partisanship; and the hero
himself was ill-tempered at the meagre degree of the honour. Was he, even
after such a victory as that of the Nile, still to be neglected and

It scarcely seemed so; there was another sword from the City of London,
valued at two hundred guineas. There was from Selim the Third, the
_Grand Seigneur_, who had lately joined the coalition against
France, one of the highest honours within the power of His Imperial
Majesty to bestow--a clasp of diamonds and an aigrette of heron's
feathers taken from a Royal turban, the _chelengk_, the famous plume
of triumph, and a huge pelisse of rich black sables. The Dowager Sultana
sent caskets blazing with brilliants, supposed to be worth a thousand
pounds; there were more brilliants from Russia--this time round a
portrait of the Tsar; from the King of Sardinia, another potentate
relieved from the fears of the dreaded Republicans, a box, also heavy
with diamonds; from the City of Palermo a gold box and chain; from King
Ferdinand, as an earnest of greater benefits to come, an antique Royal
sword; from the Island of Zante a gold-headed cane, whilst soon came news
that the East India Company meant to vote him £10,000 and from various
other companies and funds were sums of money and pieces of plate. There
were also medals in gold for the captains, and in silver for the other
officers., gilt metal for the petty officers, and in copper for the
seamen and marines, struck by Lord Nelson's old friend, Alexander
Davison, whom he had appointed sole prize-agent for the captures of the
Battle of the Nile.

The College of Heralds was kept busy, getting together the details of an
elaborate coat of arms, the supporters of which had augmented honours,
flags, palms and tattered flags. When the news began to come from
England, it was indeed very gratifying to the hero of the moment--London
had risen to a fervour of rejoicing over the news of the victory;
everywhere there had been illuminations, patriotic songs, flag-wavings,
transparency scenes in theatres and concert halls, showing the
destruction of the French Navy. No man, however vain, could have asked
for more adulation. He had, too, on every hand, through the good offices
of Captain Berry, now Sir Edward, a good advertisement. His loyal friend
acted as a first-class publicity agent and raised quite an agitation in
the country because the hero had not received at least an Earldom. It was
expected that the question would be mooted, when the Houses of Parliament
met in the following November.

Fanny, during all this, remained quietly at Burnham Thorpe, enjoying the
newly bestowed honours in the quiet company of her old father-in-law and
giving no hint how her mind or her heart lay. There were plenty of local
honours to cheer the old age of the Rev. Edmund; there was a village
collection for those wounded in the battle, a fat pig roasted whole, big
tankards of cider and beer drunk by the gratified yokels, patriotic
ballads sung in the sanded tap-room of the local inn, a public banquet, a
thanksgiving in the village church; all this news coming in gazettes,
prints, letters and broadsheets to Naples, helped to make the very air
the hero breathed warm with praise. Emma, echoing all the delightful news
with cries of joy, was his constant companion, he was frequently with the
Queen, who added feminine allure to regal airs, and whose very title was
imposing to the parvenu Englishman. An Imperial Archduchess, a Queen!
These titles never lost their zest for Horatio Nelson; he even accepted
Ferdinand, with all his obvious, crude faults, as an excellent person--it
was enough that he was the King. There were thousands of people in Naples
who viewed with bitterness and scorn the antics provoked by the Battle of
the Nile. There were those among them who noted that the face of the
Queen that smiled so graciously on Lord Nelson, showed "ferocity and
sensuality," while that of the King revealed "imbecility, cowardice and
frivolity." To these patriots, silent in the background of the festival,
"Giovanni Acton," was "corrupt, perfidious, flattering, gifted with all
the talents for intrigue" while to them, Sir William, bending and
scraping before his illustrious guest was the ridiculous "scimia del
ministro britannico."

And Emma? To these aristocratic and intellectual Neapolitans, "the Divine
Lady" was merely a woman of the streets and what King Solomon found so
hateful--a maid in the place of her mistress.

* * * * *

In the Palazzo Sessa Lord Nelson began to recover gradually his health
and spirits, and further, to find himself more at home in a world he had
at first so detested. The enchantress had waved her wand and everything
had become of magical shape and hue.

The hero had never known anything like it before; he was dazed by the
gorgeous ballrooms lit by hundreds of wax lights; the triumphal arches
with his name in a transparency, the caressing foreign tongue whispering
flatteries; the courtly melodies of Cimarosa, alternating with the heady
strains of "God Save the King," to which a new verse had been added:

"Join me in great Nelson's name,
Put on the rolls of fame,
Him let us sing."

Above all--the praise, crude but to this man delicious, of a King, of a
Queen, of Emma Hamilton, of dark-eyed ladies, of suave men of high birth.

His revulsion from "the fiddlers and poets, whores and scoundrels" soon
passed with the headaches left from nights spent at the gambling-tables
or in the ballrooms; he became overwhelmed by adulation, by the "kind
attentions" of the Hamiltons; he had lost all sense of proportion when he
wrote to his distant Fanny that Sir William and Emma "deserved the love
and admiration of the whole world," because of their care of him.

In the debauched atmosphere of Naples, in the honey-sweet sunshine which
fell over street after street of dusty stone houses devoted to pleasure,
the British sailors became gladly demoralized; there were many Omphales
ready to tame these fatigued demigods; an exhausted Hercules could find
soft couches in plenty on which to repose; officers and men alike rowed
across the crowded blue bay, landed on the busy quays, swaggered through
cheering _lazzaroni_ and picked lavish pleasures with fingers that
soon grew unsteady.

* * * * *

To serve in the British Navy was believed to be one of the hardest tasks
in the world; the recent mutinies at the Nore and Spithead had given a
discontented public an odd glimpse into the private lives of sea heroes.

When the red cloths had been run up on the flagships of Lord Rodney and
Earl Howe, the fighting men who were at once the pride and the scorn of
Britain, became, for the first time and briefly, articulate.

The rude stalwarts who had received their copper medals for sweating at
the red-hot British guns in Aboukir Bay, who had rendered possible these
gaudy Italian rejoicings, were described by their own advocates as
"scourings of jails, the friendless, the abject and the vile." The
sailors on the fighting-ships were treated like felons, fed on biscuits
as hard as flints, salted horse, Irish pork--some of which was kept so
long that it was "polished like a cornelian," putrid water, rancid cheese
and butter. Even these wretched supplies lay at the mercy of a cheating
purser; on a line-of-battle ship this office was valued at £1,000 a year,
the rum, contracted for from the Colonies, served out at the rate of two
gills of ardent spirits per head per day, gave temporary relief at the
cost of intense suffering. The pay was ninepence three farthings a day;
this was usually in arrears and often made in paper of dubious value. The
common seaman's share of prize money was small, he was seldom allowed on
shore, and he was entirely at the mercy of officers and petty officers,
who often treated him with great brutality; a flogging "to lay bare the
backbone" was not uncommon.

When sick or wounded the seamen received the roughest treatment, and the
least protest or complaint was regarded as insubordination, "Jacobinism,"
and the offender was liable to summary execution.

The sea voyages were long and there was little or no chance for the
seaman to communicate with his friends, nor indeed for them to learn if
he were alive or dead. This, in the case of pressed men, violently torn
from their homes and occupations, produced a despair that often killed.

As some compensation for these hardships, the Admiralty not only
permitted, but encouraged, vice and debauchery amongst both officers and
men; when a line-of-battle ship put in at an English port, women of the
street came on board in boat-loads and were allowed to disport themselves
in the men's miserable quarters, and even to share the bunks occupied by
the midshipmen.

Thus filth, disease, and excess extinguished what small chance of health
and happiness tyranny might have left the sailor after--"mean, endless
and unpitied hardships of food, clothing, and of pay which were
aggravated by long years of the most brutal and cold neglect."

The two great mutinies of 1797 had wrung a few paltry concessions from
Pitt's Government, on paper at least, but all the championship of Fox and
Sheridan had not been able to do much for the men on whose conduct the
safety of the country was admitted to depend; men were hanged and
transported in revenge for their blockading of the Thames, and the
hanging of Billy Pitt in effigy.

Such were the heroes who had won the Battle of the Nile, who had refused
to pity the Jacobins, perishing in the flames of _L'Orient_ and who
now reeled in and out of the wineshops and _bagnios_ shouting "Rule
Britannia" to the tinkle of mandolines.

The officers were mostly middle-class men, bred to the sea from
childhood, ignorant of everything save their profession, brutal, vulgar,
insensible, unbeatable at their work, greedy for prize money, for medals,
for glory. They, too, took their share of pleasure where they could find
it, and, scorning these soft foreigners, yet enjoyed strange delights in
the intoxicating weather, in the care-free City of Sin, which stood so
near the spot where Hannibal and the Carthaginian warriors had been
enervated by Campanian luxury.

* * * * *

The vague enchantment over Lord Nelson began to find a focus; when he was
writing a dispatch, he put at the end that his letter was "a glorious
jumble," because Lady Hamilton was sitting opposite to him; remembering
that he was God's chosen captain, he added: "Our hearts and hands must be
all in a flutter: Naples is a dangerous place, and we must keep clear of

He continued to complain of his health, "I hope," wrote Lord St. Vincent
frankly, "the luscious Neapolitan dames have not impaired you."

In November came more exciting news; William Pitt had had to excuse
himself in the Commons for the paucity of the reward given to the hero of
the Nile, and the Commons, by way of amends, had voted Lord Nelson £2,000
a year; the College of Heralds was still busy with lions devouring
tricolour flags, ruined batteries and palms, naval crowns and
_chelengks_, while Lord Grenville had looked out a motto:

"Palmam qui meruit ferat."

True, there was a murmur from Fanny, in Burnham Thorpe, a protest from
friends--why did not the hero return to where his family waited to
welcome him?

When Lord Nelson had heard of the sable pelisse he was to receive from
Turkey, he had expressed the pleasure it would give him to see his Fanny
wear it--but when it arrived in Naples, it was at once draped round the
splendid shoulders of Emma, while the plume of triumph was sported in her
luxurious locks.

The Court was beginning to smile at the junketings in the Palazzo Sessa,
at the orgy of patriotism and hero-worship; all that was best in the city
held aloof with bitterness or an ironic acceptance of the littleness of
the tyrants. Prince Francesco Caracciolo occupied himself with his
starved little navy, which was as efficient as his genius could make it,
and watched in silence the flamboyant honours paid to the successful

At the great banquets where covers were laid for eight hundred guests,
where Lord Nelson had the place of honour, where all the talk was of the
heroism of the British Navy, Prince Francesco sat silent, seemingly sunk
in thought, refusing the elaborate dainties, crumbling his bread on the
lace cloth. The displays the Neapolitan Court was making were not
pleasant spectacles for a man who happened to be both a patriot and a
gentleman. In the hearts of many men, placed as was Prince Francesco,
arose the question of other loyalties, more important than the
conventional loyalty due to an alien dynasty.

* * * * *

The two women ruled everything; the Queen would have her way and gratify
her spite with a war, Emma would have her way and gratify her vanity with
a hero.

She was past the need of pleasing the gentlemen; she could aim at
something more than a baronet or an earl's son--nothing but the victor of
the Nile would satisfy her now.

From the moment that she had slid her substantial person, hung with toy
anchors, on to the holystoned deck of the damaged _Vanguard_, she
had meant to have him--the man, his fame, his trophies, his money, a
share of the thanks from a grateful country. She saw at once his great
weakness and her ability to satisfy it; whatever flattery he required she
could supply; she really thought him a great man, but she added something
to her own estimate of his worth; she was prepared to see him with his
own eyes.

Ignorant of everything, save what profit could be made from masculine
passions, and the advantages to be gained from flattering a spiteful
woman, the Patroness of the Navy was quite prepared to believe that Lord
Nelson was God's elect and that the fight against the French Republicans
was a holy war. But this aspect of the case did not much concern her; she
wanted the successful man of the moment, as once she had wanted Greville
and Hamilton.

Unfortunately for her, the hero was not a man to touch a woman's senses;
mean in appearance, withered, yellow, mutilated and half blind, with
rough manners, untidy in his dress and uninformed on every subject save
the British Navy, weak in physique, continually sick, or coughing or
gnawed by nerves, he was, at the age of forty, scarcely a better specimen
of manhood than Sir William at sixty-five, and certainly not the sort of
creature to enthral an Emma of thirty-eight, hearty and experienced. But
she did not mind, she had found no difficulty in assuming love for her
old husband, and she would find none in assuming an heroic passion for
the battered Horatio. Besides, he was easy to get on with; mentally of
her own level, socially nearer to her rank than Greville or Sir William,
eager to accept her as she was, without trying to train her, or alter
her; he could never tease her into acting the gentlewoman, for he did not
know what a gentlewoman was, he would never check her vulgarity, wince at
her noisy voice, complain of her garish clothes, for he would never
notice these defects.

To him she was perfect; they were as easy in each other's company as the
seaman after a long voyage was easy with the fat doxy waiting for him in
the Wapping ale-house.

And each of them knew the jargon of the age, she from her cottage, he
from his Rectory, had learned somehow all the sentimentalities, the
moralizing, the tears, the poses, the affectations rendered popular by
the writings of authors neither of them had ever read or perhaps heard

He could believe that God was with him in all he did, and she could
babble about virtue and goodness with the air of a Julie or a Clarissa.
She soon had him completely enchanted; she had not to use many of her
arts before her personality had mopped up his, as a sponge mops up water.

He was soon as doting as Sir William, frantically and for ever in love,
as besotted as General Bonaparte with his Josephine Beauharnais, quite
lost to everything and everyone that did not circle round this woman.

What there was of heroism and genius in him, the fanatic courage, the
half-insane energy, the power he had to lead and inspire other men, was
not valued by Emma, who was no judge of greatness, but she resolved to
use his position and his fame for her own ends. And the sum of it all
was, that there was, by that autumn, a war with France, to gratify the

* * * * *

There were forty-five thousand Frenchmen left in Italy after the Battle
of the Nile, and with General Bonaparte shut up in Egypt, these were
disposed to keep quiet, and certainly had no intention of attacking

It was only obvious common sense to leave these dangerous enemies alone.
But the Queen still had the picture of her murdered sister hanging in her
cabinet with her own threat written beneath, and nothing could induce her
to forgo what she thought would prove an easy vengeance. She appealed to
the Emperor, who had just renewed war himself, for help; it was promised,
but not immediately; winter was coming on and the imperial troops could
not think of moving until the spring. Those who knew the leisurely
methods of the Viennese Cabinet might doubt if they would stir then.

However, to console his mother-in-law, the Emperor sent her one of his
more inefficient generals, the amiable and accomplished Bavarian, General
Carl, Freiherr Mack von Leiberich, who a few years before had been in
London arranging the campaign of 1794 with the Duke of York, his equal in
incapacity, and who had seduced the brilliant Dumouriez from his
allegiance to the French Republic.

The elegant imperialist arrived at Naples in a rich equipage with
outriders, followed by a staff that occupied five carriages; with his
charming manners, white, gold and scarlet uniform, and social graces, he
was a great asset to the festivities to which Emma led her Nelson.

Naples was prepared to put eighty thousand men in the field, there was
General Mack von Leiberich to lead them--so why not march straight on
Rome and dislodge the insolvent, atheistical Republicans who were
installed in the Eternal City?

Lord Nelson, then tacitly acknowledged as the arbiter of Neapolitan
destinies, strongly pressed this plan; he advised the uncertain king, in
language half of the Roman forum, half of the London pothouse, that he
had two courses open to him, either to die, sword in hand (with God's
blessing on a just cause) or to be kicked out of his kingdom.

This advice was the measure of the Admiral's infatuation; for to urge
Ferdinand into an attack upon the French was stupid to a degree, showed a
complete ignorance of the entire situation, and even a lack of ordinary

If war was to be resolved on, it was only common sense to wait until
spring should bring the Austrians and perhaps the Russians into the field
as allies, before provoking an enemy for the moment cowed; nor was winter
even in the South of Italy a desirable season for a campaign. Besides,
Lord Nelson knew the state of the Court, the corruption, the muddle, the
topsy-turvy finances, the inefficiency of every department; he had been
told that the bulk of the population was seething on the point of
revolution; he continually expressed a contemptuous opinion of every
branch of the Neapolitan service, and often dwelt on the expense and
difficulty of fitting out their costly, but neglected, fleet; he did not
trust General Mack von Leiberich, nor indeed any foreigner, and in his
quieter moments he must have seen that Ferdinand was a vicious fool and
that Maria Carolina was worse, a meddling, vindictive, hysterical woman.
But the first was a King, the second a Queen and Emma was their friend,
so Lord Nelson urged on the crazy war.

He had always been fond of ladies though in a slightly shamefaced way, as
one handicapped by both a religious training and an unattractive person;
fourteen years before he had written, self-consciously--"they trust me
with the young ladies, I am such an old-fashioned fellow."

Now he proved that there was one lady with whom he could not be trusted,
when Emma lured him into starting a campaign in the autumn of 1798.

There was another force at work within him too--fanatical hatred of the
French nation. He had himself been startled by the ferocity of his own
thoughts when he had written: "Sometimes I despair of getting these
starved Leghorners to cut the throats of the French crew--what an idea
for a Christian!" he had added. He had had many other odd ideas for a
Christian yet perhaps not unsuitable for a Christian trained by an
evangelical parson who believed in heaven above and hell beneath, and the
chosen and the saved.

When he heard that typhus had broken out among the French, Lord Nelson
rejoiced; every time he referred to his enemies, it was in coarse violent
terms that would have completely satisfied the Queen of Naples: "Down,
down, with the French, is my constant prayer!" he wrote to Mr. Windham,
the British Minister at Leghorn.

The glow of the Nile victory was over all the Court; the Queen had
forgotten the Battle of Lodi three years before, when her husband, in
common with all the Princes of Italy, had desperately cringed before
General Bonaparte, when Prince de Belmonte Pignatelli had followed the
conqueror from one camp to another in order to obtain an armistice. She
had forgotten how Admiral La Touche's grenadier had knocked at her palace
door with the ultimatum. She saw her troops, not only overrunning Italy,
and restoring the Pope, but seizing some of the Papal territory to which
she had long laid claim.

* * * * *

On November 21st there was, if not a formal declaration of war, a
manifesto issued in Naples stressing the insults to the Pope and to
monarchy lately offered by the French Republic, the seizure of Malta, the
occupation of Italy; to remedy these evils, the King of Naples would
march on Rome. General Lacombe, the newly arrived French Resident, was
fobbed off by the tale that all the preparations were against the Dey of
Algiers, but he was not deceived. He had noticed the state of affairs in
Naples, the crazy administration, the forced levies, the deflated paper
currency, the toppling banks, the ruined trade, the deep discontent, the
intolerable taxes, the spoliation of the churches, the universal
corruption, and he wrote home of this crazy war--"This Court boasts of
sixty thousand men, they have not more than twenty-five thousand, and
ought not to count on more than ten thousand."

The Frenchman also knew that the Neapolitan alliance with the Emperor was
merely a defensive one, and that, despite the Queen's assertions to the
contrary, it was most unlikely that the Emperor would move before the

In brief, no nation could have been less prepared for war than was the
Kingdom of Naples in the autumn of 1798. But Lord Nelson could not see
what was so obvious to Lacombe; he viewed the situation entirely through
the eyes of the Queen, and helped her and Emma to overcome the reluctance
of Ferdinand, which arose from cowardice, not wisdom, to take the
offensive. To the Englishman, the woman who had flattered him was "a
great Queen" and Emma was a goddess--the beautiful woman who had been
kind to him.

* * * * *

General Mack von Leiberich continued to inspect and parade the thirty-two
thousand reluctant Neapolitans whom he had already flattered as "the
finest troops in Europe," they were trained at San Germano, where Maria
Carolina and Emma had shown themselves on horseback. The Queen ignored
the fact that sixteen companies of her army, owing to the shortage of
free men, had had to be recruited from jails.

"Be to us by land, General," said the Queen, with her dramatic air of a
distressed wronged princess, "what my hero Nelson has been to us by sea."

It was a stimulating ideal, but Lord Nelson himself did not believe in
the Bavarian, he had seen him blunder his manoeuvres badly on the
parade-ground, and declared that "he did not know his business."

"I have formed my opinion," he wrote, "I pray heartily that I may be

Yet he was still strongly in favour of the silly march on Rome and hung
over Emma entranced at her lusciousness, as she scribbled a note to
Fanny, who might be beginning to wonder many things, and who had given a
most disconcerting hint that she might come to Naples.

Scandal was again busy about the enchantress; Lord Nelson's old friend,
Mr. Davison, wrote: "I cannot help again expressing my profound regret at
your continuance in the Mediterranean," while Lord St. Vincent hoped
"that the fascinating ladies of Naples would not seduce a man of mere
flesh and blood, who would be unable to resist their temptations."

But Emma knew how to deal with such situations. Penelope must be kept
quietly at home in the dull place that suited her so well, so Circe,
grinning a little, wrote:

"Lord Nelson is adored here and looked upon as the deliverer of this
country. He was unwell when first he arrived, but by nursing and asses'
milk...quite recovered...We only wanted you to be completely happy."

There were compliments to the Rev. Edmund and to "your ladyship" and the
clever little letter concluded--"your ladyship's ever sincere friend and
humble servant, Emma Hamilton."

There was an informal postscript.

"Sir William is in a rage with Ministers for not making Lord Nelson a
Viscount. Hang them I say!"

"Deliverer of the country"; she had, indeed, got him to the point, that
he looked upon himself, under God, as the Deliverer of Italy.

* * * * *

Five thousand Neapolitans seized Leghorn; Lord Nelson sailed to Gozo,
captured it, planted the Bourbon flag above the rocks and returned to
Naples, which was, he was convinced, the one place in the world that
required his presence.

He had quarrelled with General Naselli over the question whether Naples
was legally at war with France. Naselli declared it was not, and wished
to allow the French shipping to leave Leghorn Harbour; after much
shuffling on the part of Naples, the Englishman had his way, the French
privateers were detained, the crews dismissed, their cargoes dispersed;
these had largely consisted of grain for the troops.

Lord Nelson wrote wildly: "The enemy will be distressed, and thank God, I
shall get no money. The world, I know, think money is our God; and now
they will be undeceived, as far as relates to us."

There had been times when Lord Nelson had not been so indifferent to
prizes, but he now had no need to worry about worldly affairs; there was
a comfortable fortune awaiting him at home, and a royal treasury at hand
for his immediate needs. On his return to Naples after the Malta
interlude there were more rejoicings; sonnets fluttered thick as the
released doves. An Irish Franciscan predicted that the English hero would
take Rome with ships--despite geography. There were more balls, concerts,
illuminations, fireworks, and then Ferdinand of Naples and General Mack
von Leiberich departed for Rome, inspired by the tears and cheers of the
Queen and Emma, and followed by troops both unwilling and untrained. The
commissions had been sold to young fashionable men, incapable and

As their route was across Neapolitan territory, their progress was
unopposed, but the Bavarian General over-marched both men and horses and
arrived at Castalana with his troops in a condition of utter fatigue.

The King entered Rome with his motley army, his artillery drawn by oxen
taken from the plough; Championnet, the French General in command of the
garrison, withdrew at the approach of the Neapolitans.

It was a flash of triumph for the old order, bells clashed, the orthodox
rejoiced, the King, surrounded by his nobles, made a stately entry on
horseback between Roman palaces lit by wax-tapers and hung with
tapestries; there were plenty of orders, plumes, sashes and stars.

Ferdinand had promised protection to all who submitted, but for all that
he put to death some French residents who made no resistance; his
soldiery rewarded themselves for an uneventful victory by drowning the
Jews in the yellow waters of the Tiber, and by the indiscriminate murder
and pillage of supposed atheists and Republicans. While his troops were
thus celebrating the triumph of Christianity with murder and rapine, the
King gave himself up to receptions, eating and drinking, to issuing
proclamations, and inviting the Pope to return to Rome "on the Wings of
the Cherubim."

This show of friendship to His Holiness was not quite sincere; there was
a second plot in the drama of the struggle between the Allies and the
French in Italy, and that was the secret struggle between Austria and
Naples for the Papal territories. There was not only the question of
driving the French out of Rome, but that of seeing that the Imperialists
did not get much of the spoil. So King Ferdinand, as befitted a victor,
began pillaging what Papal treasures the French had not sent to Paris;
and the troops not employed in murdering Jacobins were busy packing up
His Holiness's pictures, statues, tapestries and bronzes.

King Nasone had no great taste for these things himself, but they were
worth money, looked handsome about a palace, and dear Sir William would
no doubt be delighted to see wagon-loads of _objets d'art_ coming
into Naples.

The tricolour still waved over the squat, formidable round tower of
Castel Sant' Angelo, but the King had silenced the French cannon by
informing the garrison that for every shot fired he would put to death
one of the sick Frenchmen in the hospitals.

Trees of liberty and red caps, with other republican emblems, were
diligently removed from the obelisks that had once proclaimed the pride
of people and Pontiff; the King sent messages to Naples ordering a public
thanksgiving, and the Queen and Emma were able to embrace each other with
tears of gratitude, while the cannons on the Neapolitan castles fired out
salvos of joy.

But Lord Nelson was uneasy; he had no inkling that his own advice had
been pernicious, but he could not bring himself to trust any foreigner.
In between the bouts of sickness caused by mingled champagne and asses'
milk, and when he could clear his mind of the dazzle of Emma's
overwhelming femininity and drag his shaking limbs off Emma's silk
cushions, he looked to the Fleet anchored in the bay. Despite the _Te
Deums_, he thought it likely that the ships might yet prove useful.
Events confirmed his poor opinion of Mack, as the Italians called von
Leiberich; that general was supposed to have given himself chronic sick
headaches by over-studying military science, but he was quite incapable
of putting this hard-won learning into practice.

Nor was his present command a test of any man's capacity, since he
distrusted, and was distrusted by, both officers and men, and the entire
army mistrusted the King. Cowardice and treachery completed the work that
inefficiency had begun, and the Neapolitans were soon starving, without
clothes or weapons.

San Filippo, commanding nearly twenty thousand Neapolitans, deserted to
three thousand of the enemy, shot through the arm by one of his own
soldiers, and the Republicans came in for a good haul of booty, which
more than balanced the losses they had suffered at Leghorn.

Mack von Leiberich, with the main body of disaffected, disloyal troops,
himself disheartened and uncertain, abandoned point after point, despite
superior numbers and many technical advantages, and fell back on Capua.

* * * * *

After three weeks of inaction in Rome, Ferdinand also began to feel
uneasy; he kept his eye on his line of retreat, carriages, wagons,
horses, mules were always ready for the signal for departure.

As the bad news came in, the King's nervousness increased; on December
2nd he cancelled a visit to a gala at the Alberti, on the 7th he was away
to the Alban hills; his army had indeed completely collapsed; at least
ten thousand men had been taken prisoner without making a show of fight;
and Mack von Leiberich's disorderly retreat was turned into a flight by
the desertion of hundreds of troops, who sacked the food-wagons and
straggled southwards across the winter landscape robbing and destroying
as they went.

During the twenty days of King Ferdinand's occupation of Rome,
Championnet had been quietly getting together his orderly, seasoned, and
disciplined battalions. He, a pupil of Hoche, was one of the best of the
magnificent generals the Republic had provided to lead those armies which
had overawed Europe; a gentleman, an idealist, cultured and humane, a
fine leader and an excellent soldier; he was also young, of a fine
presence and spoke Italian fluently.

His plans ready, he advanced on Rome, and re-occupied it without the
least difficulty, and ordered the redirection of the packages and bales
of Ferdinand's plunder "for the museums of France."

* * * * *

At Albano King Ferdinand heard with unspeakable fear of the downfall of
his hopes; he had but one thought, to get back to Naples and the
neighbourhood of the British ships. His frank cowardice gave his retreat
an air of _opera buffo_. When he heard that Championnet was in Rome,
Ferdinand asked the Duca d'Ascoli to change clothes and place with him.
Attired in the royal uniform, the Duke went ahead, while Ferdinand
followed, riding beside Prince Migliano Loffredo, and pleading in the
dialect of a Neapolitan _lazzarone_--"not to be left behind."

When the carriages were reached, His Majesty took one of the plainest and
sat on the left-hand side, pallid with emotion as he rolled over the
ravaged country to Naples.

Lord Nelson heard with disgust of these disasters; the Neapolitans had,
he declared, no honour to lose, "they seemed afraid of a sword or a
musket," but they had lost everything also; he was sickened and alarmed,
too, by the condition of the Court--"the state of this country is very
critical; nearly all in it are traitors or short, all are

He wrote in ignorance; there were thousands of noble, brave, and honest
people in the kingdom of Naples, but they did not belong to the Court
party. Nor did Lord Nelson trouble his head about them; all not on the
side of the King were to him "Jacobins" and worthy of destruction.

"Down with the French, ought to be written on the walls of every Cabinet
in Europe," he wrote.

Yet he knew what this King was, and considered his followers the scum of
the earth; but an unbalanced mind, one, indeed, almost overturned by
nervous reaction and excited vanity, prevented him from seeing even a
glimmer of the truth and even from reflecting that his poor opinion of
the Neapolitans should have prevented him from urging on a war at the
wrong time of the year, and a march on Rome that, in Ferdinand's hands,
was bound to be a grotesque failure.

* * * * *

When the rattling carriage with the sweating King inside rolled into the
courtyard at Caserta, the Queen who passed for a brave woman, sunk in a
panic of terror into Emma's arms, fearing "les scenes de Varennes avec
toutes leurs suites."

She might have known that in just such a fashion her wretched husband
would return, but she behaved with all the abandon of one profoundly
disillusioned, and went from one fit of hysterics to another.

Emma, far more level-headed, took counsel with Lord Nelson, who, uneasy
and out of his depth, fretted in the Palazzo Sessa.

No one troubled about His Britannic Majesty's Minister; Sir William was
now as much a part of the background as one of his own Etruscan vases; he
too felt bilious and nervous, but Emma, with a hero to wait on, no longer
fussed over him; he had to nurse her lap-dog, play with his monkey, turn
over his cabinets of coins, curse the French, and long bitterly for the
quiet days before the war.

With the perfume of Emma's presence over him, Lord Nelson rallied his
spirits and tried to take stock of the situation; he liked to be a
champion of distressed ladies, he tried to think what could be done for a
panic-stricken Queen, with a baby at her breast, a crowd of small
children, an incapable husband, a corrupt personnel; with a man like Sir
John Acton filling all the big government posts himself.

The task was not easy, even with Emma as inspiration; Vesuvius was in
eruption and the air heavy with gases and darkened by showers of fine
ashes; the nervous tension was heightened by the sight of the great dark
mountain with the flaming cones and gloomy spread of smoke; rumblings of
earthquake shook the streets where the British sailors drank and idled;
timid people spent the nights in their carriages, and the fishermen read
in the livid skies the presages of mighty storms.

The news that came into Naples could hardly have been worse; Championnet
and Macdonald had decided to advance on Naples; the foolish advice of
Lord Nelson, the impulsive fury of the Queen had roused a nest of
hornets. Von Leiberich's disbanded army moved in hordes over the country,
destructive as locusts, bloodthirsty as only human beings can be; the
towns of the Abruzzi fell without resistance into the hands of the
advancing French; Macdonald and Championnet, commanding the best troops
in the world, steadily fought their way through anarchy to the coast. In
Naples and the surrounding country was utter panic; streams of terrified
people followed the priests into churches crowded with images of saints,
and, fearful lest God had forgotten them, hid or sent away their
property, if possible, by sea.

The Queen and Emma, peeping from the great windows of the Palace, saw the
square filled by _lazzaroni_ begging for weapons with which to kill
the French and the Jacobins; the educated classes remained desperately
quiet, praying for the speedy arrival of the French; Maria Carolina urged
on the secret police, the spies, but they slackened in their zeal,
apprehensive of Championnet's approach. Yet the Queen contrived to have
hundreds of suspects arrested, including the Minister of War.

General Francesco Federici told the King roundly to his face that he
alone was to blame for this terrible crisis, Prince Caracciolo sat silent
and pale at the dinner-table of General Berta, not even unfolding his
napkin, nor drinking a glass of water. Sir John Acton began to pack a
lifetime's plunder, Sir William to make agitated arrangements for the
transport of the fine collection of Sicilian vases he had hoped to sell
to the King of Prussia, and now intended to offer at a bargain price to
the museum in Montague House.

Emma was everywhere, supervising everything with the air of a goddess who
"rides the whirlwind and directs the storm."

On December 21st an ugly little incident brought matters to a crisis; one
Ferrari, a Royal messenger, who was taking a letter to Lord Nelson, then
on the _Vanguard_ in the bay, was seized by the excited crowd,
dragged to the Piazza Reale and there murdered while the King gaped from
a balcony. The meaning of this was obscure; Ferrari, though in Royal
employ, was dispatched as a spy and a Jacobin, either under some mistake,
because he knew too much, or because, as the patriots said, the Queen had
engineered a crisis for her own ends.

In any case, Maria Carolina used the incident to make out that she and
her family and all the royalists were in danger of their lives, and to
pretend that _emigrés_ were being slaughtered in the streets of

The King remained in a state of passive terror; watching his wife, Emma
and Nelson, for a signal, with the rapt attention of a dog who longed to
know if it was to jump through a hoop, or stand on its hind legs.

Since his flight from Rome no one paid him any serious attention and the
squibs crackled.

"From his native shore
Marched our King with men galore
Whom he bravely led
Swaggering from home
Flourishing on Rome,
He came, he saw, he fled."

* * * * *

The victor of the Nile decided on flight before the French as quickly as
had poor King Big-Nose, when he was caught in Rome by the news of
Championnet's advance. Lord Nelson still saw everything through the eyes
of Emma; he believed that the mob was rising as it had risen in France in
1793; he could not understand that the vulgar people, the
_lazzaroni_, were entirely on the side of the King and Queen, and
that it was the intellectuals and the aristocracy who were against the

It might have been considered the duty of the British Admiral after his
once having undertaken to defend Naples, to remain in that city, to
fortify it as best he could, and with the men, stores and ammunition at
his command to defy the advancing enemy. Instead of doing so he resolved
on instant flight, and he used the British Fleet to convey the Royal
Family to Palermo across the Tyrrhenian Sea, and that despite hard,
winter weather and the gathering of mighty storms.

The political situation was still in a hopeless tangle, the atmosphere
full of suspicion, doubt, treachery and hysteric panic. It was still
doubtful whether Naples was yet officially at war with France.

The King and Queen, their Court and friends, resolved to escape from this
bloody chaos which Ferdinand's cowardice and Maria Carolina's
vindictiveness had done so much to bring about. In this design Emma was
the guardian angel and Lord Nelson the protecting knight. The Queen
clamoured that the mob wanted to keep them as hostages; this was utterly
untrue, but Lord Nelson believed it.

He made the fleet ready, and had already written to Troubridge:

"Things are in such a critical state that I desire you to join me without
one moment's loss of time..."

* * * * *

"Everything is as bad as possible. For God's sake make haste. Approach
the place with caution."

All his instructions were marked "Most Secret." He had so far deceived
himself that he did not realize that he was helping a couple of cowards
to flee from their posts, but rather saw himself as one who waited on
great events. He arranged for barges and cutters to lie outside the docks
and wharfs, men to be armed with cutlasses and the launches with
carronades. He himself came on shore heavily armed, as if in fear of an
attack, mounted to the Queen's room by a secret staircase, and found
Emma, assisted by the always useful Mrs. Cadogan, in a state of tragic

She was supervising the packing of all the valuables in the Palace;
pictures, tapestries, bronzes, ivories, clothes, furs, were being thrown
into boxes and baskets, and tied up in bales and marked "Biscuits" and
"Salted Pork"; ornaments and jewels were swept into every possible
receptacle. The same work had gone on at the Embassy; everything that was
of the least value, from Emma's famous five hundred pounds' worth of,
diamonds to the cashmere shawls she used for her poses, was packed up and
carted away.

For twelve nights in succession the energetic woman did not take off her
clothes, only snatching a few minutes' sleep here and there, then and
now, on a Pompeian couch or a satin arm-chair. Gems, curios and dresses
to the value of £2,500,000 sterling passed through her hands in less than
a fortnight. Under her vigilant eye all this booty was sent with the aid
of the British sailors to the British ships. Nor did this amount of
plunder blunt the avarice of the King and Queen; as if their design were
to ruin utterly the unfortunate country they were abandoning, they took
all the money out of the bank, all the treasure--much of it coined from
private plate and ornaments that had been gathered together for war--and
had this sent on board the _Vanguard_.

By not confiding their persons and their treasure to Prince Francesco
Caracciolo, they offered the Neapolitan Admiral, who had been a personal
friend of the King, a deliberate affront. Caracciolo was not only the
best sailor in the small Neapolitan Navy, but one of the best sailors in
the world. The English Admiral, Hotham, had publicly complimented him on
his brilliant services in the Mediterranean; but now, in this atmosphere
of universal suspicion where nobody seemed to be trusted by the Royal
party save the British, he was passed over, and the plunder of the
Bourbons deposited in the charge of the British Admiral.

Efforts were made to keep these preparations of the flight secret, but
the news leaked out. The _lazzaroni_ were in despair, believing that
their beloved King was abandoning them to be murdered by the French, as
indeed he was; while decent citizens secretly rejoiced. An underground
passage led from the Royal Palace to the Mole, and this was most useful
in conveying away bag and baggage. When everything that was valuable and
movable had been taken away, and news was coming daily of the quick
advance of Championnet and Macdonald, the Royal Family took the final
step and fled from Naples on the night of December 21st accompanied by
Sir John Acton, the Hamiltons, the Prince Castelcicala, Prince di
Belmonte Pignatelli and some other courtiers and ministers.

With the Queen were her children, the youngest of whom was an infant in
arms, and one of whom, the Crown Prince, had with him his wife
Clementine, the daughter of the Emperor; this Princess had to look after
her delicate and sickly child, who was so backward in intelligence that
Maria Carolina declared she believed it was an imbecile.

Lord Nelson watched over the whole proceedings with a solemn anxiety
which, considering the circumstances, had an air of caricature. The whole
affair was like the libretto of a melodramatic opera. From a city where
they were not in the least danger, where indeed a large number of the
populace were ready to fight for them, from an enemy who had not yet
arrived and who might without difficulty be defied and kept at bay, King
Ferdinand, his family, and Court, fled as if a thousand furies had been
on their heels.

The use of the underground passage was an unnecessary touch of drama,
perhaps the result of Emma's theatrical imagination. If they had gone
away openly, there was no one likely to stop them. Nelson, cloaked like a
Spanish conspirator, led the way through the passage, swinging a dark
lantern, and the party--women and children huddled together, men
nervously clutching their swords--came behind him, stumbling in the
half-light, shivering in the damp. They emerged at the wharf to find a
sharp gale blowing, tattered clouds scudding across a black sky, and the
waters foaming high among the rocks. The party sat huddled in the
_Vanguard_'s barge, whipped by the winter wind; they were rowed by
British sailors across the bay. When they reached the flagship they found
it already crowded with other refugees, among whom was the Imperial
Ambassador. The other British warships and some foreign merchant-men
which had no wish to encounter the French were ready to accompany Lord
Nelson. It was, however, by reason of the wind, impossible to leave the
bay, and for twenty-four hours the _Vanguard_ veered about the gulf,
now and then taking on board other Royalists, whose barges came
struggling up through the choppy sea.

Prince Francesco Caracciolo was in command of the _Sannita_ which,
though it was poorly equipped, he managed with superb skill.

The storm increased in violence and the ships were unable to pass Capri
until dawn on Christmas Day. Several Neapolitan ships which should have
accompanied the Royal party were unable to sail, because the sailors had
deserted, not so much from disloyalty to the King as from loyalty to the
families whom they would have been forced to leave behind to affront an
invasion. The passage across the Tyrrhenian Sea was made only with the
utmost difficulty. Emma kept up her spirits wonderfully; she bustled
about, making up beds, providing linen, nursing the prostrate Queen,
comforting her sea-sick children. Afterwards she wrote to her crony,

"All our sails were torn to pieces and all the men ready with their axes
to cut away the masts, and poor I to attend and keep up the spirits of
the Queen, the Princess Royal, three young Princesses, a baby six weeks
old, and two young Princes. The King and Prince were below in the
wardroom, my mother there assisting them, all their attendants being so
frightened and on their knees praying."

Maria Carolina lay on the plank in her cabin, vomiting into the basin
that one of the Neapolitan sailors brought, emptied, and returned,
continuously. Her children were alarmingly ill; their only relief was
rags, damped in vinegar, applied to their temples. Nelson, directing the
passage of the ship with the utmost anxiety, declared that never before
had he seen such a storm; at one moment it was doubtful whether they
would make Palermo; nor were the British Admiral's spirits raised by
seeing that the _Sannita_ under Prince Francesco Caracciolo's
command rode the tumultuous waves easily, despite the tempest, and kept
alongside the _Vanguard_ to encourage the King by its presence. High
in the wind and rain the vermilion standard of the Sicilian Bourbons
fluttered in the dark; the ship's lanterns were gloomy specks of light,
half-submerged in the whirl of the tempest. In one of the cabins Sir
William, who had been fretting himself to a string over the safety of his
antiquities that he had seen packed on board a British merchant-man, and
that for all he knew were by then at the bottom of the sea, sat,
incapable of rendering anyone assistance, holding a pistol to his head,
threatening, he said, to shoot himself if the ship went down, that he
might not hear the guggle-guggle of the water in his throat.

The Imperial Ambassador also made other preparations for what he believed
was his approaching end. He cast into the angry waves the snuff-box which
bore the nude portrait of his mistress. He did not wish, he said, to go
into the presence of the Almighty with such a profane article upon his

Lord Nelson, harassed and anxious as he was, did not fail to notice with
admiration the brave conduct of the beloved Emma. While all the
foreigners were groaning with fear and sea-sickness, the Patroness of the
Navy showed herself worthy of her title; she was brave, efficient and
cheerful, waiting on the Queen and the Royal children with real devotion.
It was in her arms that one of the unfortunate little Princes died from

On the afternoon of Christmas Day, as the _Vanguard_ battled round
Capri, the little fleet sighted Palermo; the scarlet pavilion and the
British flag were still flying from the topmast of the _Vanguard_ as
the battered ship lumbered into the harbour. The Captain of a Neapolitan
frigate that then chanced to be in the road had to help the British ship
into safety, while Prince Francesco Caracciolo showed his expert
seamanship by sailing in swiftly over the tempestuous sea; but the skill
that he showed on this occasion brought him neither admiration nor
reward. It was, if anything, felt to be unfortunate that it should have
been he and not the hero of Aboukir Bay to make this display of
marvellous seamanship. In the wake of the Royal flight were the red
flares of the Neapolitan ships then in the harbour, which, upon being
deserted by their seamen, were burnt by Commodore Campbell in command of
the Portuguese frigates.

Sick, dishevelled, and shaken with grief at the loss of her son, Maria
Carolina landed on the quay at Palermo, attended by her frightened
children and her ragged retinue. Emma, however, had kept up her spirits;
she and Mrs. Cadogan had shown their superiority to a parcel of
foreigners; indeed, so spirited had been her conduct that Nelson, writing
an account of the Royal flight to Lord St. Vincent, gave her official

"It is my duty to tell your Lordship the obligation which the Royal
Family as well as myself are under on this trying occasion to Lady
Hamilton. Lady Hamilton provided her own bed, linen, etc., and except one
man, no person belonging to Royalty has helped the Royal Family, nor did
her Ladyship enter a bed the whole time she was on board."

* * * * *

The reception given to the fugitives by the Sicilians was, as the Queen
bitterly remarked, what might have been expected--curiosity touched with
suspicion and contempt. The Royal visit was entirely unexpected, and
nothing was ready for the Queen's comfort. The accommodation available at
the Royal Palace was of the most wretched kind. Always voluble, a
prodigious letter-writer, and in need of a confidant, the Queen sat down
the day after her arrival in Palermo and scribbled off two long letters
to the Marchese di Gallo, the Neapolitan Minister at the Imperial Court,
a man whom she disliked and whom she had violently abused, but to whom
she now turned in her distress.

In her own breathless hysteric and vivid way, she described, in cipher
and lemon juice, the sufferings that seemed to her without parallel, and
despatched the letters to Vienna in the hope which underlay the hysteric
scrawl that di Gallo would be able to persuade the Emperor to come to her

"The most unhappy of Queens, mothers and women, writes this to you. I say
the most unhappy because I feel everything so acutely and I doubt if I
shall survive what has happened to me during the last forty days. We fled
from Naples on Friday. The arrangements for burning the ships kept us
till Sunday in the harbour, where we received deputations that came to
harangue us to try and make us return, but never thought of arming
themselves to defend us. Mack came on board Sunday morning, half-dead,
weeping, exclaiming that all was lost, that treason and cowardice were at
their height and that his only consolation was to see us on board
Nelson's ship. The sailors fled from the ship; at last we had to put
English and Portuguese sailors to replace them. At least 1,500 sailors
fled in one night. We had at last to man the _Sannita_ and the
_Archimede_--without which Nelson would not sail, with foreigners.
The Portuguese remained behind in the harbour to burn, to my eternal
grief, our beautiful Navy, which has cost us so much. We set sail at
eight hours of the evening. Our misfortunes which are such that I wish to
die! To begin with the most essential, at Palermo people seemed pleased
to see us but not enthusiastic. The nobles crowded round; they seem to
have no desire but to obtain all they can and my heart tells me that if
the Emperor does not soon put himself in action it will not be four
months before we are forced out of Sicily as we were out of Naples. I
would offer these vultures all the jewels and treasures which we have
with us, if they would only leave us to live and die in peace...

"Indeed, I feel desperate. I vow to you I do not think I can live in this
condition. I do not believe I shall survive. In the name of God, arrange
for my unhappy daughters to go to Vienna where marriages can be arranged
for them or they can retire to the Convent of the Visitation. My
daughter-in-law is very ill with her chest; she is not likely to survive.
Their father, though I should not speak of that, does not seem to feel
anything except what concerns himself personally and not much of that, or
to realize that he has lost the best part of his crown and his revenues.
He only takes notice of the novelties that amuse him, without thinking
that we are reduced to a quarter of our revenue, dishonoured, unhappy,
and have led others into the same unhappiness. Indeed, I am in despair, I
do not think I shall survive. Everything displeases me here, all I love
best has gone. The civilities here are such as would be given to a King
who has lost everything. I think no more of grandeur, nor of glory, nor
of honours, I only think to live retired in a corner."

After a pause for Emma's ministrations and a little repose, the unhappy
Queen continued to put her troubles on paper:

"The details of all our suffering will make you tremble. It has really
been beyond my strength to endure, and I feel that I shall not survive.
Friday the 21st, following a revolt in the town, people killed and
wounded under the windows of the King, talk of the people confiscating
the Castles, the arms, and forbidding anyone to leave the City, flight
was decided upon. What I suffered during the rest of this day cannot be
expressed. There was a cold north wind as we left at night. I trembled
like a leaf. Without my virtuous and attached Mimi I should have fallen a
thousand times. Think of the horror of this, with six children and my
young daughter-in-law and an infant at the breast! We arrived on board
all rigid with cold and I half-insensible with unhappiness. We passed
that first night without bed, without light, fire or supper. Saturday,
the 22nd, began with a letter from the deputation, everyone demanding to
speak to the King, who would see no one. The wretched day passed in this
misery and my heart was torn. We tried everywhere to find what was
necessary for so many children accustomed to every luxury, but in vain.
At last on Sunday morning arrived poor General Mack. We received him, and
he was much struck to see an unhappy, but honest, loyal, sensible family,
seated like beggars on the ground. The sailors fled; even by offering
them gold we could not keep them. At last four vessels, five frigates,
ten galleons, twelve corvettes, ninety shallops were condemned to be
burnt, proving the infamy of our sailors, who, though they cried 'Long
live the King' continued to flee, and so condemned to the fire the fruits
of so much trouble, so much money. Niza, the Portuguese Admiral,
performed this work so cruel to me, and the Sannita and the Archimede
left, the last with four hundred sailors, and the Sannita with two
hundred, of which half were English and Portuguese, all the Neapolitans
having fled. We raised anchor at eight o'clock in the evening. At
midnight the bad weather commenced, but the storm did not really break
till Monday, the 24th. We were all the voyage lying on the ground, eleven
of us in the demi-poop, the women half-unconscious, two sailors kept
bringing us vinegar and basins in which to vomit. At one o'clock after
midday there came such a tempest that the sails were all torn to shreds,
both in our vessel and that of Caracciolo. We began to think ourselves
lost. The mast broke, the sailors were climbing about with hatchets to
cut down the damaged rigging. Louise was in her chemise on her knees,
Amelia demanding a confessor who would come to give her absolution,
Leopold the same. I felt so unhappy to think of what had happened and
what must happen yet, that I saw death come without regret, trusting in
the Divine Mercy and content to perish with my children. Towards two
o'clock the danger ceased and Nelson said that in the thirty years he had
been at sea he had never seen such a storm, a wind and tempest. When
night came the sea was so heavy that everything had to be roped. We
remained still on the ground. Tuesday, Christmas Day, the storm
diminished a little, and at nine o'clock my son Albert, aged six years
and a half, who had never suffered from convulsions, though so very
delicate, suddenly took one so strong that, though he had never vomited,
he died at half-past seven in the evening in the midst of us, despite all
our remedies. Let any mother judge of my feelings. His dear little corpse
stayed with us until five o'clock in the morning, when we arrived, and I
hastened to disembark. The town of Palermo is large, the Palace
uninhabited, inconvenient, cold, lacking everything, neither chairs, nor
bed, nor sofa, nor anything. One half-furnished apartment, which was
warmed, had to serve for my daughter-in-law and her child. The former is
very sickly, but I hope to prolong her life. I have been bled, all my
children are ill, nobody has yet recovered from the voyage. I have
besides the frightful loss of my child and that of our realm. The King is
well, the Prince the same. The Princess suffers with her chest and keeps
coughing. My daughters and Leopold are sad, overcome, suffering, and
think as I do. I have seen little here, but everything affects me, and I
believe I cannot live long here; I am convinced that I shall succumb, and
my death is indifferent to me, if I can see my six daughters and Leopold
established in some religious institution in Austria. I see everything
black. Give all these frightful and truthful details to the Empress, my

"I feel everything, as I alone can feel. I foresaw all and no one would
listen to me. Religion can alone support me. Italy is in the hands of
barbarians, our commerce is ruined. Further, for the climax of
unhappiness, the few effects and the goods we saved have been lost in the
tempest. I do not even like to think how many honest people have
perished--only the diamonds are saved. I should have preferred to have
kept more useful furnishings. As for me, I am in true despair, convinced
that Sicily will soon follow the example of Naples, and that we shall
lose life and honour. If the sea voyage were not so long I would try to
get to Austria, but I fear too much to lose another child. The King
passes my comprehension. He has already taken a little house in the
country. Prince Jaci is his factotum. He goes each evening to the theatre
or the masked ball and is gay and content, is irritated if anyone talks
to him of Naples, will not give any audiences, will not show himself
officially in any public place, he grumbles at anyone who mentions
business to him and speaks as if nothing had happened; therefore they all
despise him and do as they please. I am quite sure I shall perish here; I
cannot live much longer and my children will remain without a mother,
abandoned orphans. O blessed tempest, why do you not engulf us all?"

Throughout that winter the Queen continued to write to the Marchese di
Gallo, a man whom she had scornfully declared to be "half a Frenchman,"
but on whom she now relied to urge the Emperor to assist her. These
letters were all of the same tone, full of lamentations, descriptions of
her miserable situation, and constant assertions that she "would not be
able to survive."

The King had, as his wife so bitterly noted, slipped easily into his old
comfortable ways. Avoiding his querulous wife and sickly family as much
as possible, he settled down to the only kind of life he relished. As
long as he had his boon companions and petty cash for his pleasures, he
was content, and considered himself to be well rid of Naples.

"He is a philosopher," said Lord Nelson, adding with zest, "God bless

Emma and Mrs. Cadogan, cheerful and resourceful, did what they could for
the Queen, but the winter was bitter, the Palace rooms gaunt and
unfurnished. The Royal children went from one illness to another. It was
believed that the Crown Princess, the Archduchess Clementine, was dying
of consumption. She was kept alive only by a milk diet. The stone-floored
Palace, with the long, uncurtained windows and undraped doors, lacked
every comfort. There were no cushions, no easy chairs, no good beds;
worst of all was the cold. The Queen's cries against the draughts, the
chilly atmosphere, and the bitter winds rose to heaven.

The British ships, men-of-war, and the merchant-men rode in the harbour;
the British sailors and refugees did what they could to accommodate
themselves in Palermo. The polished, elegant Sicilian nobility viewed the
Royal caravan with cynic amusement, those who hoped to get something out
of the King hung round him, all others remained aloof; there was always
somebody to give a masked ball, a company to perform at the theatres,
enough singers and musicians to get up a concert.

Emma's indomitable energy soon produced a fair imitation of the delights
of Naples; she did not relax any of the arts that fascinated Lord Nelson,
and she was constantly his companion during these trying winter months,
while her old husband sat shrunken in front of the smoking wood-fires
cursing the mighty winds that blew from Etna and lamenting over the cases
of vases which had been lost in the famous tempest.

Queen Maria Carolina, with her usual exaggeration, had greatly overstated
the Royal losses on the passage from Naples to Palermo. Most of the booty
besides the diamonds had been saved, and the only life lost had been that
of the unhappy little Prince Albert.

* * * * *

Never had a city been more completely abandoned than Naples. When the
populace saw that the harbour was clear of British shipping and that the
Royal Family had fled, they soon discovered that they had been despoiled
not only of every means of defence, but almost of every means of
existence. There was no money in the Royal Treasury or in the banks,
everything of value had gone from the Royal Palaces and museums; private
property belonging to Royalists and foreigners had been taken away by
British and allied ships. The army that had followed King Ferdinand to
Rome and back was now split up into marauding _banditti_; there were
not enough regular troops left in Naples to garrison one of the castles.
The sailors who had deserted the Royalist ships were without officers and
practically disbanded. There was no form of government; Prince Pignatelli
had been left as Regent with the foolish injunction "to defend Calabria
to the last rock."

On January 12th news came that General Mack von Leiberich, who had
returned to Capua, had surrendered to Championnet, who refused his sword
with the smiling remark that his Government had forbidden him to accept
goods of English manufacture.

The leading citizens hastily got together in some attempt at law and
order, and sent deputations to wait on the Regent, who put them off with
evasive replies. On December 28th the anxious inhabitants of Naples saw
smoke rising off the coast at Posilippo, and learned that the Portuguese
Commodore, the Marchese di Niza, acting under whose orders no one knew,
was burning the Neapolitan Fleet, which had been Prince Francesco
Caracciolo's pride and occupation for years and which had successfully
kept at bay the Corsair.

During the next few days the wintry seas about Castellamare and other
places along the coast were illuminated with bonfires fed by Neapolitan
ships. Some believed that the Portuguese Commodore had received his
orders from Lord Nelson, some thought that this was the Queen's meddling,
some thought that he had acted on his own initiative; the actual
destruction of the fleet had been carried out by Commodore Campbell, a
Scotsman in the service of Portugal. The wanton destruction of the Navy
which had cost so much to build, and which had been a source of
satisfaction to all honest Neapolitans, caused distress and indignation
in the heart of every patriot. One of them wrote: "It was a pitiful sight
to see the burning ships while the nation was robbed of its strength--so
many tears, so much substance and wealth of the citizens were consumed.
All night long they kept on burning, keeping the whole sea ablaze."

This strange act, which completed the defencelessness of the great city,
increased the panic in Naples; there were reports that all the wood
stored for shipbuilding and all the grain in the granaries at the Porta
della Maddalena were also to be destroyed.

Deputations of the more responsible citizens waited in vain on the
Regent, he would receive no one; petitions were ignored; Championnet was
at Spavanise, a few miles off, and the tumult, tension and fear, in
Naples became fearful; the militia, or town guard, paced before the
threatened stores, while there were bread riots in the streets, and the
citizens sat long hours in anxious conclave.

Anarchy was in sight; the situation resembled that of Paris in 1792, save
that, in Naples, the mob was loyal to the sovereigns, and the aristocrats
as well as the intellectual middle-classes, were republican in sentiment.

These people were hot against the Queen; it was said that she had been
heard to declare that she would "leave Naples nothing but its eyes to
weep with." Her hand was suspected in everything; the only hope of
safety--of existence--seemed to be in the coming of the French.

By January 11th, Pignatelli had made ruinous terms with the French
Generals; a two months' truce was purchased by ceding Capua with all its
military stores and a line passing from Acerra on the Mediterranean to
the mouth of the Ofanto on the Adriatic; the ports of the two Sicilies
were to be declared neutral, and Ferdinand was to indemnify the Republic
by a payment of ten million francs. After telling the city to raise the
sum the French demanded, Pignatelli took flight, disguised, appropriately
enough, as an old woman; when he reached Palermo, Ferdinand, for no
particular reason, put him in prison. The _lazzaroni_ were now
rising; they were still desperately and blindly loyal; furious at the
thought of the Frenchmen's succeeding without much difficulty, after
getting arms from two regiments which arrived from Leghorn they began to
parade the streets, shooting and sacking. Everyone in the confusion was
fighting with everybody else, not quite knowing why or how; the prisoners
in the Vicaria rose, the militia fired on the mob. The brilliant city was
falling into the convulsions of anarchy, while Maria Carolina sat in her
cold, marble room in the Palermo Palace, scribbling her lamentations to
di Gallo.

King Ferdinand was better served in Naples than he deserved to be; the
faithful _lazzaroni_ seized and captured the Castel Nuovo and ran up
the Royal banner, after carrying off all the arms and ammunition in the
fort. The Castel dell' Ovo and Sant' Elmo fell both rapidly and easily
into the hands of the people and all three forts soon displayed the
vermilion pavilion of the Sicilian Bourbons.

The better classes believed that the Regent Pignatelli, acting on orders
from the Queen, had arranged, before his flight, for the garrisons in the
forts to give way to the people. The Royal adherents, in other words, the
lowest, basest part of the population, then opened the prisons and began
massacring everyone whom they suspected of Jacobin principles, including
any young men whom they happened to see wearing trousers or short hair.
The turmoil was not soothed by the news that, when the Regent had fled,
he had taken with him the last five hundred thousand ducats of the public

On the 19th the mob barbarously murdered the Duca della Torre and his
brother. Della Torre was a mathematician and geologist, whose cabinets of
curiosities and scientific instruments were among the finest in Italy,
and whose collections of antiquities rivalled those of Sir William
Hamilton. He was a wealthy man and of an ancient family; he had wished to
accompany the King to Sicily, but for some reason been refused
permission. Like every other cultured gentleman in Naples, he was
suspected of Jacobinism. The mob broke into his Palace, which they
completely sacked, destroying among other rarities a priceless library,
pictures by Raphael, Titian, Correggio and Giorgione valued at upwards of
a hundred thousand ducats, an elaborate collection of mechanical
instruments and a costly laboratory. The Duca and his brother, after the
Palace had been stripped till nothing but the bare walls were left
standing, were dragged to the _Marinella_, there shot, and burned in
tar-barrels on bonfires.

When Maria Carolina heard of this, she was not disturbed. It rather
brightened her own exile:

"I believe that the people were entirely right," she wrote to the

Some of the other news from Naples was not so gratifying to the Queen.
The patriots by means of strategy had contrived to get possession of
Sant' Elmo, and from the great fort they ran up the tricolour flag. From
the ramparts they could see Championnet's camp-fires.

The Republicans marched on the city from every side; the _lazzaroni_
fought in a fury of bravery worthy of a better King. It was only after
three days of hand-to-hand struggling in the streets, which he had to
clear by firing guns at close range, and wherein he was assisted by the
batteries of the Patriots from the castles, that the French General was
able to occupy Naples. All parties of decent people, though they named
themselves Patriots, Republicans or Liberals, were united against the
_lazzaroni_, and ready to make common cause with the French.

The next news that reached Palermo was sufficient to send the Queen into
a faint, falling on Emma's resplendent bosom. Championnet was completely
master of the city; everyone, even the _lazzaroni_, was now subdued,
and won over by a compliment to San Gennaro.

Championnet had been welcomed by the Patriots and a Republic with the
pedantic name of Parthenopean had been proclaimed.

This name was in the popular, intellectual tradition, an echo of the
classical idealism of the dead Gironde, a tribute to that enthusiasm for
Brutus, Plutarch, and the heroes and heroines of Corneille and Racine,
that had proved at once so stimulating and misleading to the children of
the French Revolution.

But, childish and affected as the name might seem, it was not altogether
inappropriate: Parthenope was the ancient name of Neapolis or Naples, so
called from the name of a Siren whose dead body was cast up on this rocky

The ideals that these desperate, exalted, honest, gifted men followed,
might have been likened to the themes of the songs of the Sirens,
seductive, luring to destruction--the echoes of a melody uttered by a
Siren already dead.

General Championnet, an idealist himself, chose the most brilliant,
unselfish, scholarly and single minded, of the intellectuals, professors,
poets, doctors of medicine, scholars, and men of letters, to rule his new
Republic. Naples being what it was, a worse choice could hardly have been
made. The selection of a President was typical of the new government;
Carlo Lauberg, in a French uniform, with the office of chief chemist to
the Republican forces, seemed a fine combination of talent, efficiency
and science; but he was an unfrocked monk, who had married, and fled from
Naples some time before on account of his Jacobinism, he was, while
honest and zealous, a fanatic, and the last person likely to appeal for
long to the lazy, ignorant, superstitious, Neapolitans, while his
election was an unforgivable insult alike to the Church and the Bourbon.

The mob had committed hideous excesses during the struggle with the
French. In the middle of their patriotic efforts they had lost interest
in the battle and had begun to loot the city indiscriminately, including
the Palace of the very monarch for whom they so ferociously fought. While
some of the _lazzaroni_ were hurling stones from the house-tops on
the French, others carried off the doors and window-frames from the Royal
residence. Many of them had been heard to lament that if the fight in the
streets with Championnet's troops had lasted only another day, the
_lazzaroni_ would have been able to enrich themselves for life by
sacking the entire city. The French General lost a thousand men during
the battle in the streets; it was believed that four times that number of
_lazzaroni_ were slaughtered.

But the brilliant city quickly recovered its gay spirits. A popular
speech from the tactful Championnet, whose Italian was clear and easy, a
present to San Gennaro, a guard of honour for the Saint, a few promises,
a burst of sunshine, and the crowd was screaming; "Long Live the French";
in dark wine-shops and bagnios, where the British sailors had revelled
away their prize-money, the soldiers of the French Republic refreshed
themselves after their labours with the same zest and the same welcome.

The flags of the new Republic, red, blue and yellow, stitched together
from cloths taken from the Church of San Martino were flying above the
massive fortification of Sant' Elmo; the Carthusian monks feasted the
patriots in the Certosa. On Sunday a _Te Deum_ (despite the French
atheism) was sung in the Cathedral, Champion-net superintended the
planting of a Tree of Liberty before the King's residence which his own
loyal subjects had so zealously sacked; this was an elaborate affair, a
huge pine-tree, uprooted in the neighbourhood with all its roots and
branches, the famous Phrygian Cap crowned the topmost branch, while the
new colours of the Parthenopeans were bound to the trunk with those
tricolour ribbons the French always carried with them.

The King's supporters in Naples seemed as happy as Ferdinand himself, who
was in Palermo not in the least affected by the news which sent the Queen
into convulsions of rage; her husband shook it all off with his habitual
good humour; he had two and a half millions of money into which to dip,
several factotums to see to his pleasure, a nice little house in the
country, and Sicily seemed to him in every way as desirable as Naples.

With a shrug he dismissed all thoughts of his lost Kingdom, but the
Queen, thinking of that French-born Republic across the water, was ready
to die of rage and shame--"I cannot survive" was the burden of her
letters to di Gallo, who was not able to stir the Emperor into action on
her behalf.

* * * * *

The news of the French success across the water did not greatly affect
Emma; she, too, like the King soon settled down to the new conditions.
The Sicilian winter might be bitter, but it was soon over. Emma always
knew how to achieve a certain comfort; the new mode of life suited her
very well, for Lord Nelson, as a matter of course, had made his home with
the Hamiltons; he was no longer a guest in their Palace, but one, as it
were, of the family.

To the Sicilians the withered old husband, the buxom wife, and the
draggled hero, were three very familiar characters, who always made their
appearance in every farce and puppet-show, and whose antics were always
highly applauded.

When she was in Naples, one of Emma's famous impersonations had been a
young girl with a raree-show, she was now providing a raree-show in real
life and one much relished by the spectators. She was enjoying herself
hugely and cared nothing about what was happening in Naples or anywhere
else; Sir William had rented a grandiose Palace containing fifty great
painted rooms. There the three of them lived with Mrs. Cadogan in
attendance and a swarm of hired servants installed.

As the Queen had persuaded herself that all her plunder had been lost in
the tempest, so Emma was talking about nine thousand pounds' worth of
valuables left behind at the British Embassy. The truth was that she had
saved everything worth saving and had trunks of dresses, boxes of plate,
cases of china and every kind of luxury with which to furnish her new
abode, nor was it altogether unpleasing to her vanity to be able to pose
as the heroine of a great tragedy and the confidante of a Queen in
distress. She was not cowardly; besides, she felt sure there was no real
danger--the British Fleet was in the harbour, and the hero Nelson was as
much attached to her as the locket to her wrist; she kept open house for
all the British in Sicily.

By March the lazy, cynic city of Palermo had by then learnt that a hero
was dwelling in their midst, and presented Lord Nelson with the Freedom
of the City in a golden casket. The Sicilians, at once subtler, finer and
easier, than the Neapolitans, and completely indifferent to the Bourbon
dynasty which to them was an alien tyranny, viewed with detached
amusement the antics of the exiled royalties and of the foreigners, and
saw to it that a large portion of the plunder of Naples should pass into
their hands.

With Sir William, the convenient _mari complaisant_ fast becoming
decrepit, Emma found that the life at Palermo, which was even looser than
that of Naples, suited her perfectly. She had, in a way, put aside her
official position, and during this interlude she might forget she was the
wife of His Britannic Majesty's Minister, just as easily as King
Ferdinand forgot that he was supposed to be master of the Two Sicilies.
When she was not encouraging the Queen in the draughty marble Palace, she
was drawing closer her enchantments round the man whom she had long since
marked as her own.

Their relationship was perfectly well understood by all, and, when the
sudden spring adorned the gilded island with an intoxicating wealth of
flowers, Emma had passed to Lord Nelson as she had passed to Sir William
from Charles Greville.

His money was useful, too; the largesse given by a grateful nation went
to foot the bills that Emma ran up. Sir William, who had become petulant
in his new and humiliating position, had whined about the expense of
keeping an open table for all the officers of the fleet in Palermo
Harbour, and for all the British travellers who, even in this time of
war, managed to straggle down into Italy; but there was no need for Emma
to retrench; Lord Nelson's purse was now at her disposal; and she,
feeling that practically the gratitude of the British nation was at her
back to pay her expenses, became extravagant as she had never been in her
life before.

Every evening there was a banquet, every night, gambling. There were
wax-lights and liveried servants, costly dainties, and carriages and
horses, silk and satin dresses for Emma. There was no longer Mr. Greville
nor Sir William to keep her in check, to whisper to her how a gentlewoman
behaved, there was only Lord Nelson to admire and applaud. Sometimes she
would sit half the night at the green-baize tables, flinging down and
taking up the piles of gold, while the hero, trying to keep up with the
glittering activities of his Circe, would, drowsed with wine and fatigue,
often fall asleep, nodding over the piled cards; as much as five hundred
pounds was sometimes lost by Emma at these card parties, but she was
often lucky and always good-humoured.

The news of this fantastic establishment in the Sicilian capital spread
across Europe. The British Embassies and Chancellories, and the various
Courts, were, or affected to be, scandalized.

The Admiralty thought that Lord Nelson might be better employed, the
Foreign Office could hardly be gratified by the position occupied in
Palermo by His Britannic Majesty's representative. But how was the
scandal to be stopped ?--an odd combination of circumstances had given
the game into Emma's hands.

Fanny, Lady Nelson, was mute, and silently suffering, living patiently
with the Rev. Edmund in Burnham Thorpe; her son, Josiah Nisbet, had made
scenes in Naples, on his mother's behalf, but in vain. To her husband
Fanny was not only in another world, but non-existent. The possession of
Emma had given him a desperate courage; between that and the fumes of his
own glory his head was turned, and he was ready to defy the world.
According to the theology of Burnham Thorpe, Palermo was the headquarters
of all the sins, and the Palace which Nelson shared with Sir William and
Emma, a fit abode for the Scarlet Woman. By what jugglery the man who
thought that he had been raised up by God to pursue a holy war against
infernal monsters reconciled himself to his being the lover of his host's
wife, he alone knew; but, in some way, he had so justified himself to
himself; he felt neither remorse nor regret, and his clouded mind was
ready to believe that there was something divine in the woman who had
dazzled his senses so that their love for each other redeemed everything.
Love, the infatuated man named his passion, and the word was misused; but
it served, as so often before and since, as a cloak for passions with
uglier names. It was fashionable to affect to believe that "love"
redeemed everything, and these lovers had caught up this convenient
theory as aptly as if they had been characters in a French novel: "I hate
their country and their manners," Nelson had once written of the French;
but it was the French model of "sensibility" and illicit passion glossed
by the unchallenged divinity of love, that he was unconsciously
following. The man who prayed so fervently to a Deity he had never
understood, this product of a rustic parsonage was playing a part
familiar to the frequenters of the cheaper French theatres, the admirers
of the crudest French farces.

Curiosity, perhaps a touch of malice, brought English travellers who had
contrived to straggle across the seat of war to Palermo and to the Palace
where the British Minister and his wife entertained the hero of the
British people.

One such tourist who was received thus at Sir William's palace, noted
curiously how Emma came into the room "leaning on her old husband's arm,
her tresses floating round her full bosom." Short locks were unpopular
because of the Jacobins, and she had allowed her ringlets, once cropped
in classical fashion, to grow again. Emma clasped her bosom with an
affected enthusiasm, declaring that she was languishing for her beloved
Naples, but the visitor noticed that her colour was high and that her
health seemed excellent. She had, of course, a great deal to say about
the political situation. Her speech was a mixture of Lancashire and
Italian; she referred constantly to her "dear Queen" and lamented over
the valuable properties she had left behind in the Palazzo Sessa. One of
the tourists, Lord Montgomery, she claimed as a cousin and begged him to
stay to dinner. The hero came forward from a dark corner where he had
been sitting over his desk, and began to cross-examine the Englishmen as
to what was happening in Naples, as they had lately come from that city.
He insinuated, rather impertinently they thought, that they should not
have stayed in the rebel city so long; whereupon Lord Montgomery, who
happened to be of Liberal tendencies, replied hotly that he much admired
the Neapolitan Republicans, adding that true patriotism seemed extinct
nowadays, upon which Lord Nelson and his fair friend exchanged very
significant glances. The two Englishmen half-amused, half-disgusted, came
to dinner that evening in Sir William's great _Palazzo_, when Lord
Nelson took the opportunity to buttonhole one of them with:

"Say, sir, have you heard of the Battle of the Nile?"--continuing, "that
battle was the most extraordinary one that was ever fought, and it is
unique, sir, for three reasons. First, for having been fought at night,
secondly, for having been fought at anchor, and thirdly, by its having
been gained by an Admiral with one arm."

The Englishman was not impressed; he thought the speech more fitted to
after-dinner, when an extra glass of wine might have excused it.

There were other visitors who were not so tolerant. When the new British
Ambassador at Constantinople, Lord Elgin, came through Sicily, he noted
emphatically "the necessity of a change in our representative at Naples
and in our conduct there."

Captain Troubridge, no Puritan and attached to Nelson, who had been left
as Commander of the Mediterranean squadron, wrote urgently:

"Pardon me, my Lord, it is my sincere esteem for you that makes me
mention it. I know you can have no pleasure in sitting up all night at
the cards. Why then sacrifice your health, purse, even everything. If you
knew what your friends feel for you I am sure you will cut all the
nocturnal parties. The gambling of the people at Palermo is publicly
talked of everywhere."

Nothing had any effect--Emma might do as she pleased. The place was a
fitting background to her enchantment; every night there were serenades
on the water of the bay; moonlight began to fall on the breaking blossoms
of orange-groves, on the amber-coloured rocks of Palermo, on the rich
palaces with the twisted iron balconies where the luscious creepers hung,
on the magnificent church where Frederick Hohenstaufen rotted to dust in
his Imperial Purple. Everything was different from anything that Lord
Nelson had known before, even more gorgeous, unexpected than Naples had
been. In Palermo everything was for sale, and there was the money at hand
with which to pay. The Queen might complain of lack of comfort, but
neither the King, the Hamiltons nor Lord Nelson felt any pinch. In the
spring the gorgeous island was like a basket of flowers, of jewels round
the fruitful slopes of the snow-wreathed volcano. Blossoms plentiful
enough to wreathe all the vanished nymphs of Greece blazoned the fields
of which Theocritus had sung. Was not this an earthly Paradise to those
of the fogs, mists and damps? The art of man had cunningly enhanced
nature; there were gardens where fountains flashed in trim allies, where
temples shone white amid the perfumed boughs of syringa, oleanders and
pomegranate; there were walks where hedges of hornbeam, cut stiff as
walls, cast a purple shade. There was the Palace in the Conca d'Oro in
the Chinese style, where even the Christian chapel was hung with Eastern
bells like a pagoda, and where the superb garden was laid out in the
curve of the golden shell, where the corn-coloured cliffs rose bare into
the violet sky and to right and left could be seen the blaze of the
ocean. Within the toy-like palace were dainty contrivances for amusement,
for enjoyment, a table that rose, loaded with dainties, through the
floor, at the pressing of a button, alcoves where water slid over the
backs of kneeling marble Tritons offering rose-leaves in a shell,
lattices of scented wood through which the sunlight streamed in slats of
gold, couches piled with cushions filled with swansdown. And, when
flowers staled by their profusion, there were more costly ornaments to
please the eye, crystal dishes filled with coral and pearl, a
coffee-service painted with the portraits of the heroes of the Nile, some
of Sir William's rescued treasures--a bronze satyr, a Pompeian vase,
encrusted with masks, a Renaissance jewel that winked emerald and ruby.

And always there was Emma, with her Olympian beauty, her voluptuous
curves, her jolly laugh, her unfailing kindness, her high spirits that
filled the days with excitement.

She was so clever, too, at arranging those drama scenes that greatly
pleased the victor of the Nile; Emma's histrionics vivaciously expressed
something in his own temperament.

A Turk was sent by the Czar of all the Russias with a presentation
snuff-box, and Lord Nelson received him in the Pelisse and Plume of
Triumph sent by the Grand Seigneur. Emma worked this up into a gratifying
scene. The Turk was afterwards entertained to dinner, when he took too
much rum, and encouraged by Emma's smiles he leapt up, drawing his sword:

"With this weapon I cut off the heads of twenty French prisoners in one
day. Look, there is blood remaining on it."

Emma kissed the sword and handed it to Lord Nelson.

Then there was the excitement of the arrival of cases from England, as
much as fifty guineas' worth of prints of the Battle of the Nile, all the
caricatures in the newspapers, ballads and other evidences of the great
popularity of the hero, and the walls of the Sicilian palaces began to be
plastered with his exploits praised in his native tongue.

There remained a fear that Fanny might come out to join him; distasteful
amid all this excitement as it was to write to her, her husband forced
himself to pen such letters as would prevent this catastrophe.

"You would have seen how unpleasant it would have been if you followed
any advice which carried you from England to a wandering sailor. I could,
if you had come, only have struck my flag and carried you back again, for
it would have been impossible to have set up an establishment either at
Naples or Palermo."

But he was not for ever happy and was never content. Melancholia and
sickness often overtook him for days together; he wrote in a fanatic,
half-crazy strain to his friends:

"My only wish is to sink with honour into a grave, and when I do that I
shall meet death with a smile."

These delights did not grace any definite action; nothing much was done
by the Bourbons, the Hamiltons or Lord Nelson, to dislodge the French who
seemed to be firmly established in Naples, where the aristocrats and the
intellectuals were, with fervent honesty and energetic idealism, trying
to build up a Republic, and this in spite of every handicap. The women
had their petty intrigues to vex and confuse what Lord Nelson, unfamiliar
with classical names, termed the Vesuvian Republic, but for the rest, the
British Fleet idled, for no particular reason, in the Harbour of Palermo.

* * * * *

To one man at least the situation was intolerable. Prince Francesco
Caracciolo had been wounded in his pride as a man, as a patriot, and as a
sailor. He, who had devoted his life to the interests of the Neapolitan
Navy, had had to see it almost utterly destroyed in a moment of panic and
fear, he, who had been a loyal subject of the Bourbons, a personal friend
of the King, had had to see himself set aside, while a foreigner had been
overwhelmed with adulation and entrusted with the persons of the Royal
Family and with all their treasure.

He saw that neither Lord Nelson, nor Sir William Hamilton, nor indeed any
of the English, understood a jot of the political situation of his
unhappy country; he saw that they were committing blunder after blunder,
the results of which were tending to the utter ruin of the Kingdom of

Not only was Lord Nelson absolutely incapable of judging the political
situation of Italy or of Europe, but he was, in the estimate of a man
like Prince Francesco Caracciolo, of no birth--a parvenu. Indeed, Horatio
Nelson, proud as he was of his connection with the Walpoles, was, even in
the indulgent eyes of his own countrymen, scarcely a gentleman. He had
had during his whole career to complain of being neglected as an
outsider. Nor had he ever been able to acquire any veneer of breeding.

To a Neapolitan of ancient race, like Francesco Caracciolo, everything
the Englishman did and said, jarred, and the flattery so grossly showered
on him, that he so greedily accepted, was nauseating.

The burning of that fleet with which the Neapolitan Admiral had kept the
coasts clear of pirates was a hard blow to Caracciolo, and it was
reasonable to impute some of the blame for this frantic act to the
all-powerful Englishman. Lord Nelson indeed, and no doubt with sincerity,
repudiated Commodore Campbell's action and went so far as to say that he
would court-martial him were he under his command, but the Queen smoothed
the matter over.

In any case the fleet had gone and it was not easy to trust the word of
one obviously in such a hysterical condition as was the English Admiral,
nor to respect the good faith of the Queen. Indeed, in the exaggerated,
often lying letters she was writing frequently to the Marchese di Gallo
at Vienna, Maria Carolina described the destruction of the fleet as
having occurred on January 5th; it had taken place on the eighth of that
month, and the news did not come to Palermo till some days later.

It was not difficult, therefore, for Prince Francesco Caracciolo to
credit the bitter rumour that the property of the people of Naples, and
his own especial interest and pride, had been sent up in flames to
satisfy the spite and fears of the Queen and the wild, random policy of
Lord Nelson. No man of sense could have placed any reliance on the
judgment of the Englishman after his advice to Ferdinand to march on
Rome. Nor could the Italian aristocrat respect either the behaviour or
the morals of this son of a puritanical English rectory; manners were lax
in Neapolitan Court circles, but the spectacle which the Hamiltons and
Lord Nelson provided, while they raved of patriotism, glory, and virtue,
was too much even for southern Italian broad-mindedness.

Not only was the thing scandalous to the squeamish, it was in its
grossness, vanity, and lack of humour offensive to the well-bred.

No friends of Prince Francesco Caracciolo had fled with the Royal Family;
only the moral scum of Naples had shared that shameful flight; round the
King and Queen, as always, were the foreigners Maria Carolina had
encouraged at the expense of the Neapolitan nobility; Tuscans and
Austrians, flattering the Englishman Sir John Acton, who was amusing his
exile by making arrangements to marry his brother's daughter. Francesco
Caracciolo detested these people; across the sea in the abandoned city
were his family, his friends, his fellow-countrymen, all he admired, all
he loved. He knew their worth, the sincerity of their motives, the
desperate situation in which they had been left, the odious tyranny under
which they had suffered. These men, and Francesco Caracciolo himself,
were patriotic in a fashion unknown to Lord Nelson and the Hamiltons;
they did not expect honours, glory, stars, ribbons, praise, and pensions;
they were prepared to risk all they had, to dare utter ruin and an
ignominious and horrible death for the sake of an ideal--_la
patria_. Republicanism was in the air; intelligent people everywhere
were infected, sometimes to madness, by the hopes of a possible new order
for mankind, by visions of liberty, tranquillity, the spread of
intellectualism, humanitarianism, a reaching upwards to a universal

To such people the claims of Divine Right--all the intricate entanglement
of dying, dead or corrupting systems of government that encumbered
Europe--seemed disgusting and farcical. Francesco Caracciolo might well
ask himself if any loyalty was due to Ferdinand Bourbon, who had twice
forfeited his claims to kingship--(a claim at best founded on a dubious
foreign conquest)--first, by utter misgovernment, secondly, by despoiling
and abandoning his country in a moment of crisis.

After a few weeks at Palermo, Francesco Caracciolo requested permission
to go to Naples to look after his affairs. This was granted, not without
a sharp warning from Sir John Acton, and the Neapolitan Admiral arrived
in his native city on March 2nd; he was warmly welcomed by the men trying
to rule the kingdom. Carlo Lauberg, the President, chemist and
mathematician, Pasquale Baffi, one of the finest Greek scholars in the
world, Mario Pagano, the famous jurist, and Domenico Cirillo, a
celebrated botanist, Gabriele Manthoné, a brave high-minded soldier,
General Massa, the General Federici who had told King Ferdinand to his
face of his faults, and such brilliant young aristocrats as Ettore
Carafa, Gennaro Serra di Cassano, Prince Pignatelli di Strongoli, Prince
Ferdinando Pignatelli, Prince Moliterno, the Duca di Roccaromana and many
other like-minded patriotic aristocrats. Supporting these energetic,
talented, and devoted men, were a group of fervent middle-class
intellectuals, such as Vincenzo Cuoco, Vincenzo Russo and Ignazio Giaja,
the poet, and several high-born ladies conspicuous among whom were Giulia
Carafa, the Duchessa di Cassano, and Maria Antonia Carafa, Duchessa di
Popoli, noble and beautiful sisters, who were prepared to risk all they
possessed for republican ideals.

Francesco Caracciolo was welcomed also by the Madame Roland of this
Gironde--the muse of the Parthenopean Republic, Eleanora Fonseca
Pimentel, a poetess of merit, a cultured intelligent woman, who was then
devoting herself to editing, with skill and enthusiasm, the official
journal of the Republic--_Il Monitore_.

The Neapolitan Admiral thus found himself surrounded by all that was
familiar, inspiriting, agreeable; in contrast to what he had left, which
was alien, degrading, hateful. In Naples was all he liked, in Palermo all
he detested. No man who possessed any reasoning power, and who was
capable of a cool judgment, could have failed to see where his loyalty

* * * * *

Emma had to console the Queen for more bad news from across the water;
Francesco Caracciolo, loved, respected by all classes in Naples, the idol
of the disbanded sailors who were longing for revenge for their burnt
ships, had joined his friends and had entered the ranks of the Republican
army as a foot-soldier in the National Guard.

Maria Carolina was beside herself with fury at this dastardly treachery,
as she termed it, but she and Emma soon contrived to amuse each other
with a new intrigue.

This consisted in fomenting, by petty means, royalist risings in Naples.
The trick was to smuggle into Naples printed pamphlets, or leaflets, that
were written by the Queen, but purported to be Republican proclamations
likely to cause public indignation and trouble between the Neapolitans
and the French; some of these false manifestoes gave out that Easter, and
other great religious festivals were to be abolished, others gave notice
of imaginary conspiracies against Championnet, which were likely to
inflame him against the Republican middle-classes.

This stuff was slipped by Emma into the Minister's post-bag for Leghorn,
from there it was distributed to English residents who sent it through
the ordinary post to Royalist agents in Naples; these were mostly among
the _lazzaroni_, who enjoyed any excuse for making mischief. Anyone
of intelligence saw through the trick; only those, the very ignorant,
whose mentality was the same as that of the Queen, were deceived. But
some trouble was caused; French soldiers were murdered, when they were
caught unawares, and constant disorders broke out among the _basso
populo_. The Republican Government, as incapable as brilliant and
honourable, was harassed and bewildered.

The Queen continued to be unhappy in this Sicilian exile; she quarrelled
with everyone, and her lamentations were unending; her letters, ill
spelt, ill written, testify not only to her condition of life, but to the
state of her mind.

"My health is very poor. I inhabit a fresh, new apartment where nobody
has ever lodged before, without tapestries or furniture and a cold to
make one tremble. I had a high fever. At present I have a heavy cold on
the chest which nothing can remove except the opium which I take at night
to stupefy my sense a little. The King is quite well, I envy him. He is
not in the least afflicted, only irritated to see me always in tears. My
daughter-in-law makes me feel unquiet. She often has little fevers,
sweats at night, and dry coughs. The other day she coughed up two
handkerchiefs full of blood. She is horribly thin; she lives on a milk
diet and keeps in bed. Francesco has a cough, very often fever, and I
believe that another tragedy is preparing for me, and bow my head to
Divine Will. I believe that I cannot endure many more misfortunes. My
daughters are still ill from what they suffered on the sea, from the damp
here, from the cold, and from the privation of all conveniences that we
find here. My three daughters and Leopold are all this morning in my
chamber so that the apartment where they sleep can be aired a little.
There are fifteen beds in four rooms, where they pass the night. There is
not a single covered wall in the place, nor a sofa, nor an arm-chair;
nothing but white walls, a straw chair; and without a fireplace, the cold
is enough to kill one. Also I have a cold that never ceases, and each
evening causes me a little fever. I beg with tears in my eyes to remember
that the greatest act of friendship you can do for me, that which will
bring all my sincere and devoted gratitude, will be to find
establishments for my daughters. That will allow me to die in peace and

A letter sent later continues in the same strain.

"For me my only hope is for a miracle sent by Providence; it is no more
use relying on human means of succour, unless you can do something for
us. If you can, you will be indeed our saviour. For me, I only desire to
remain quietly at home, and far from the world. I vegetate in the narrow
circle of my friends and mix no more with anything. I see that you and I
have the same ideas as to the future of the Princess. This good young
person is always in bed, takes milk four times a day, with opium pills,
and despite that her dry cough never comes to an end. She is certainly in
a consumption and coughs up blood in quantities, has abundant sweat, and
always her young husband sleeps beside her. They ought to be separated.
My health is always bad. I cannot recover. The blow has been beyond my
forces, my strength to endure. Here everything afflicts me, and besides I
lack everything. The little that I have left must be for those who have
exiled themselves for us...The King is charmed to be in safety. He
economizes in a villainous fashion at our expense, torments us horribly,
goes out to a theatre, the country, and is not in the least affected. The
Prince and the Princesses are sick and suffering. My daughters and
Leopold suffer, but try to console me. I am desperate, nothing can
comfort me. The government here is in such a state that there is very
little one can do..."

In all the long correspondence there is no mention of the devoted Emma,
and very little of the hero of the Nile. The one object of the
correspondence was to goad di Gallo into teasing the Emperor to drive out
of Naples those insolent Republicans with their tricolours, Trees of
Liberty, and Phrygian caps, who made Maria Carolina feel ill every time
she thought of them.

In May, in the ripe heat of the Sicilian spring, news came that another
French Fleet had put to sea. It was believed to be making for the
Mediterranean and Lord St. Vincent ordered Lord Nelson to join him at
Minorca; the answer was a refusal to obey.

"I am sorry that I cannot move to your help. This island appears to hang
on my stay. Nothing could console the Queen if I departed, as I promised
not to leave them."

He added irrelevantly that his heart was breaking and he was seriously

On May 19th, however, he set sail on the _Vanguard_, writing
immediately to Emma:

"You cannot conceive what I feel when I recall you all to my

The French, through the laxity of the British blockade, slipped into
Brest, and in not much more than a week Lord Nelson returned to Palermo.
He was received with a fulsome flattery that would have made a sane man
wince. When he was twenty-four he had written:

"I have closed the war without a fortune, but I trust, from the attention
that has been paid to me, that there is not a speck on my character. True
honour, I hope, predominates in my mind far above riches."

Yet now he did allow Maria Carolina publicly to crown him with honour on
his return from an eventless voyage--he had not even seen the enemy.
There had been a time when he had considered the wearing of epaulets on a
naval uniform a little cheap; now he was pleased to wear Turkish
aigrettes, sable capes, and that most unbecoming of honours, a wreath of

His fortune was being rapidly spent; Emma kept no check on the
expenditure and Sir William never asked where the money came from as long
as the bills were met.

Long before, Lord Nelson had written of another woman, Miss Andrews: "Had
I a million of money, I am sure I should this moment make her an offer of
them." Had he had a million of money then it would have been at Emma's

* * * * *

The war began to take a turn against the Republicans; Russia took an
active share in hostilities and captured Corfu; the Austrians defeated
the French. Championnet and Macdonald withdrew from the City and Kingdom
of Naples, leaving only small garrisons behind, and the few-months-old
Republic was left totally defenceless.

To add to the peril of the unfortunate patriots who had hoped and dared
so much, Cardinal Fabrizio Ruffo, a Cardinal but not a priest, had landed
in Calabria as the King's Lieutenant to raise the country. As he advanced
and the French retreated, he gathered together a horde of men who, in the
name of the Roman Catholic faith and of Ferdinand of the two Sicilies,
were prepared to follow him in an attack on Naples. Among these strange
troops, whom he called the army of the Holy Faith, the _Santa Fede_,
were the Calabrese peasants, some priests and friars, criminals who had
escaped from the galleys in the confusion of the times, bandits who had
been roaming the country during the late disorders, and a large number of
the disbanded soldiers who had broken up on Ferdinand's retreat from

The Queen's hopes began to rise high; she saw herself returning, and
returning in triumph, to Naples, but she still needed the British hero
and the British ships; all Emma's arts were to be employed to induce
Nelson to return to Naples. It was true that Lord St. Vincent had ordered
him to follow up the French squadron at Toulon, but the infatuate man did
not long resist the pleadings of the enchantress and of the Queen. The
Bourbons needed the British Fleet to overawe the already lost
Republicans. Emma wrote to Lord Nelson:

"The Queen begs and conjures you, my dear Lord, to arrange matters so as
to be able to go to Naples. For God's sake consider and do it. We will go
with you if you will come and fetch us. Sir William is ill, I am ill, it
will do us good. God bless you."

Not without some agony did Lord Nelson give way:

"I am full of grief and anxiety," he wrote to Sir William, "but I must
go. It will finish the war."

He cared little whether it finished the war or not. All that mattered to
him was that he was pleasing Emma and would be in her company. When he
left for Naples in the middle of June, husband and wife accompanied him
on the _Vanguard_.

* * * * *

The islands between Sicily and the mainland had surrendered at once to
Captain Troubridge, who had come up from Alexandria to join Nelson,
bringing several ships with him. It was Nelson's wish to encourage the
loyalty of the inhabitants of the islands by distributing food and money
among them, many of them being in a state of famine, and, with a flash of
his native intelligence, his rage rose against the Sicilian Court when he
saw these reasonable demands refused.

"There is nothing," he said, "which I propose that is not as far as
orders go implicitly complied with, but the execution is dreadful and
almost makes me mad. I desire to serve their Majesties faithfully, as is
my duty, and has been such that I am almost blind and worn out and
cannot, in my present state, hold out much longer."

The assistance to the islanders was to be given only to the loyal remnant
left after a complete purge of Jacobinism; this did not show any merciful
spirit in either of the English officers. The Republicans made a
desperate effort at defence.

The Queen heard with despairing fury that Prince Caracciolo had been
elected head of the Republican Marine, the small remnant of the navy
which had been destroyed by Niza and Campbell.

On April 8th the Prince issued a proclamation in which he put, with
justification, the blame of his country's disaster on the English, who
had "sacrificed every right to their own interests" and who were
despoiling the fugitive King of the national treasure he had pillaged
before his flight. With hopelessly inadequate means, the patriotic
Neapolitan did what he could; flying the new flag of Naples, he put to
sea to challenge the English off Procida.

The coarse and brutal Troubridge was cruising about the islands on the
_Culloden_ (a sinister name for such an errand) and encouraging not
only the massacre of "Jacobins," but of all who had remained passive
under Republican rule. Among these were some harmless old priests; the
lonely islands had neither gallows nor hangmen and Vincenzo Speciale, the
miserable Sicilian lawyer who represented Bourbon vengeance, asked
Troubridge for these adjuncts of civilization. The English captain
indignantly refused, on the ground that the British Fleet was being asked
to do menial work, but he made no effort to save the priests nor any
other of the innocent victims of the Bourbon re-action; "the villains
increase so fast on my hands and the people are calling for justice;
eight or ten of them must be hung." Lord Nelson promised help, adding in
his reply: "Send me word some proper heads are taken off; this alone will
comfort me." The King wrote in the same strain with a touch of his usual
buffoonery, "the cheeses must be hung up to dry," with the help of the
Russians and of God, all the rebels would soon be strung up, and so on.

The Queen expressed the same sentiments in her violent, dramatic style,
the "vile, corrupt nation" must be punished; the traitors, Caracciolo,
Moliterno, Roccaromana, Federici, etc., must be put to death. "I would
have no pity used," "a massacre would not displease me," "the weeds must
be hunted out, destroyed, annihilated."

In brief there was a plan for a wholesale scheme of vengeance; Emma
approved, encouraged, was a busy go-between, quick at messages, and a
clever interpreter; Troubridge wrote to her of the progress of the
slaughterings in the islands and she fed him with the Royal flatteries so
that the son of a Westminster tradesman, so oddly in charge of the
fortunes of these Italians, wrote: "I feel highly honoured by Her
Majesty's notice. I wish I could serve them more _essentially and
quick_ (sic)."

* * * * *

On April 27th Prince Francesco Caracciolo was all day with his five
gun-boats between the fire of the Royalists in the fort at Castellamare
and that of the British ships at sea; the next day Macdonald arrived with
reinforcements by land, a few corvettes and Caracciolo's one frigate came
to his help; the British were driven off and the Bourbon colours captured
from the fort. Neither the Queen nor Lord Nelson was likely to forgive
this success. On May 16th Caracciolo again attacked the British at
Procida, from which fort the British ships had been called to meet the
Gallo-Spanish Fleet, which was then sailing into the Mediterranean.

He had eight gun-boats, six fire-boats, and some smaller vessels; a
spirited action was kept up all day; the new flag of the Parthenopean
Republic was floating from the little fleet as it attacked the coast

The Conte di Thurn, a foreigner in the Bourbon service, in command of the
_Minerva_, sailed out to defend the shore, and Caracciolo surrounded
and nearly captured the frigate; Thurn was saved by a stiff wind, which
caught the sails of the patriots and caused them to retreat.

The last success of the bankrupt, doomed Republic was that gained at
Torre Annunziata by General Schipani, assisted by the fire from
Caracciolo's gun-boats.

Misfortune closed round the adherents of the Parthenopean Republic.
Through Calabria Cardinal Ruffo's army of the Holy Faith advanced on
them. On the sea the British Fleet drew near. The _lazzaroni_ in
Naples and the peasants round about began to rise in favour of the
Bourbons, to whom, at heart, they had always been loyal. The fishermen
along the coast began to murder those they disliked on their own account.
Captain Troubridge received, with a basket of grapes sent for his
breakfast, the head of a Jacobin concealed beneath the leaves, and wrote
on the margin of the accompanying letter: "A jolly fellow."

Over the whole Kingdom of Naples the peasantry were rising in their
traditional manner and indulging in acts of hideous violence. The
Republicans did what they could, but their situation was such that no one
could do much.

Captain Edward Foote on the _Sea Horse_, with Neapolitan frigates
and a small British vessel, with a few regular troops--Russians, Turks
and Austrians--was sent ahead to co-operate with the land forces of
Cardinal Ruffo and the Royalists. He had no other instructions, he
awaited news of Ruffo's advance and of the arrival of the British Fleet
from Palermo.

Cardinal Ruffo advanced with his terrible horde of ruffians towards
Naples. On learning of his approach, the Republicans threw themselves
into the two great castles, dell' Ovo and Nuovo, while such French as
remained in the city went up into Fort Sant' Elmo, which so magnificently
commanded the city and bay. These forts were all very strong places,
heavily fortified, and the design of the Republicans was to hold them
until the French or Spanish Fleet came to relieve them, by driving off
the British ships, and landing troops to defeat Ruffo. This was their
only hope.

By Midsummer Day, after grim fighting at the Ponte della Maddalena,
Cardinal Ruffo had forced his way into the city and taken possession of
Naples in the name of King Ferdinand. As soon as they found themselves
successful and knew that the gorgeous city was at their feet, Cardinal
Ruffo's troops, the _Sanfedisti_, plunged into bloody excesses that
horrified him, cynic and insensible as he was. He did his utmost to stop
these scenes of carnage, but with little success.

Lord Nelson and the Hamiltons had not arrived and Ruffo was
plenipotentiary for his master, the King of the two Sicilies. He,
therefore, on his own authority, and acting in concert with Captain Foote
of the _Sea Horse_--then in the bay--arranged an armistice with the
Republicans. For five days the negotiations went on; a treaty was then
signed by the representatives of five nations, Great Britain, Naples,
Turkey, Russia, France. The most important article of the long
capitulation was "that the troops composing the garrisons will remain in
the fortresses till such time as the ships hereunder referred to, for the
transportation of those individuals who desire to proceed to Toulon,
shall be ready to set sail."

It had been arranged by the Cardinal, who was sick, anxious and
exhausted, wishful not to estrange so completely the Republicans as to
render the return of King Ferdinand impossible, and who was eager to
avoid further bloodshed, that the lives of all in the three great forts
should be spared, and that if they submitted they should either be
allowed to return to their own homes or go on board transports provided
for Toulon. The Cardinal also agreed that the garrisons should march out
with the honours of war, with their arms and baggage, drums beating,
colours flying, guns loaded, and each with two pieces of artillery.
Antonio Micheroux, who also represented King Ferdinand, was emphatically
for leniency.

The two generals in charge of the castles, Manthoné and Massa, signed the
treaty on June 19th; two days later it was accepted by Méjean in command
of Sant' Elmo, Captain Foote, for Great Britain, signed on the 23rd; the
Turkish and Russian commanders had already signed.

Both Ruffo and Micheroux were sincere in their desire for some sort of
issue from the bloody anarchy in which the country seethed. They knew
that Ferdinand, in his wife's words, "cared no more for Naples than if it
had been the country of the Hottentots," and they believed it their
interest and their duty to supply his deficiences. Ruffo was sickened by
the incredible excesses of his own followers that he could not check, he
wished to save as many of the Republicans as he could; on this point all
the Allies agreed with him. No one had any objection to the treaty
whereby the important forts, the very keys of Naples, would return to the
King, and the brave garrisons, together with any other people who might
have taken refuge with them, would be granted their lives, on condition
that they returned quietly to their homes, or, if they could not accept
King Ferdinand as master, went into exile in France. Transports were to
be provided for such as wished to go to Toulon, and Ruffo sent hostages
up to Sant' Elmo who were only to be released, when the patriots should
have reached French soil.

So far, so good; Cardinal Ruffo, disgusted, weary and shocked, was
thankful that he had been able to make so honourable an arrangement with
the remnant of the Parthenopean Republic, and Antonio Micheroux, a
sensitive, and humane man, was relieved to know that some lives at least
would be spared amid the slaughterings that marked the triumph of the
_Santa Fede_.

Micheroux had, from the first, protested strongly against Ruffo's policy
of arming the dregs of the nation and setting them on the Republicans and
he had, before the surrender of Naples, been in favour of very generous
terms for the vanquished. Both these men knew that neither the King nor
the Queen would like any leniency to be shown to the patriots, but,
confronted by an appalling situation, they hoped that expediency would
prove a fair excuse, even before the fury of Maria Carolina.

Captain Foote had signed the treaty without demur and nothing remained
but to put it into effect, and this Ruffo proceeded to do, though he had
received a letter from the Queen, confused, contradictory, yet clear
enough in its refusal "to treat with criminal rebels at their last
gasp...trapped like mice...low and despicable scoundrels."

* * * * *

On the morning of June 24th, the Royal hostages were released from Sant'
Elmo and the refugees began to leave Castel Nuovo where Massa had
persuaded the Republicans, who wished to die fighting, to surrender.

By the evening of that day the British Fleet had anchored in the bay,
with Lord Nelson and the Hamiltons on board the _Foudroyant_;
shortly before a boat had brought a letter from Sir William to Cardinal
Ruffo, informing him that Captain Foote had sent Lord Nelson a copy of
the treaty and that the British Admiral disapproved of it and was
resolved not to remain neutral.

Indeed, Lord Nelson, with the last light of the Midsummer Day, had beheld
an ugly sight through his spy-glass, the white flags floating from the
mast of the _Sea Horse_ and from the formidable bastions of dell'
Ovo and Nuovo, while from Sant' Elmo, dominating the whole city,
fluttered the colours of the French Republic.

The British Admiral was intensely angry at this sight. He knew well
enough the temper of the King and Queen of Naples, and, he declared, "as
to rebels and traitors no power on earth has the right to stand between
their gracious King and them," and he added that he thought the armistice

He proposed to send Captains Troubridge and Ball to inform Cardinal Ruffo
of his opinions and intentions, but Ruffo, deeply alarmed and agitated by
this turn of events, came on board the _Foudroyant_ that evening. As
a man of intelligence and spirit, he at once refused to accept this
dictation from a foreigner. Not only had he been given full power by the
King, his master, but Lord Nelson was not a subject of King Ferdinand and
had not been put in command of either the army or the navy. Neither had
Lord Nelson had anything to do whatsoever with the fall of Naples--that
was entirely the work of Cardinal Ruffo and the amy of the Holy Faith.
He, therefore, on every ground, considerd himself justified in standing
by the capitulation which had been approved by Captain Edward Foote
representing Great Britain, by France, by Turkey and Russia, as
represented by the officers of these nations then in Naples.

When Lord Nelson learned that Cardinal Ruffo intended to stand by the
capitulation, his fury flamed, and Emma was by his side to encourage him.
She knew, perhaps even better than he did, the temper of the Queen. They
had not been sent to Naples to make terms, but to inflict vengeance.
Maria Carolina had not wished the British Fleet to sail against her
capital in the hope of making some honourable compromise which would
allow her a more or less peaceful return to her throne--no, she had
wished it to go as the instrument of her vendetta against the Jacobins,
Republicans and Frenchmen. She had said and written that a massacre would
not displease her. To her the establishment of the Parthenopean Republic
had been an intolerable affront, which nothing but blood and a great deal
of blood could wipe out. Neither she, nor the King, nor Sir John Acton,
nor any of the ministers who had fled to Palermo had stopped to think
what the abandoned city was expected to do. It would seem that its
inhabitants had been expected to allow themselves to be massacred for the
sake of the Royal Family they had always loathed, and of that Government
which had not only abandoned them defenceless to an enemy, but which had
for years spied on them, imprisoned them, confiscated their property, and
insulted them in every possible manner. As they had not done this, but
taken advantage of the crisis to try and form their own government, to
introduce law and order into chaos, to make some sort of workable
constitution out of anarchy, they were to be treated as the most
dastardly rebels and traitors.

Lord Nelson knew, Emma knew, and Sir William knew, when they consulted
together in agitated anger on the _Foudroyant_, that the least talk
of mercy to Naples would be abhorrent to the Queen. Nor was the King much
less vindictive; his veneer of good humour had soon been rubbed off. He
had appeared indifferent to all his fortunes, he had amused himself in
Palermo with the money plundered from Naples, issuing his little edicts
that the women were not to cut their hair short or the men to wear
fringes _à la Brutus_, but when the chance of vengeance came he was
ready to take it.

He, too, wished the disobedient city to be punished--no thought of
magnanimity, nor prudence, nor policy, nor of what their future reign was
likely to be if they took this bloody vengeance when it was in their
power, troubled either of these sovereigns. Nor did it concern them, nor
Lord Nelson, nor Emma, that the most enlightened people in Naples, the
bravest, the most cultured, the sincerest and the most honourable, had
founded and run the brief Republic. There was only one man at this little
conclave who had some humanity, some common sense, some dignity--Fabrizio
Ruffo. He did not believe in the policy of blind cruelty that would turn
Naples into a shambles. There had already been hideous deeds enough; the
prisons were full of maimed and dying Republicans; the streets were piled
with corpses. Cardinal Ruffo was not a particularly enlightened
statesman, nor even a brilliant politician, but it did not seem to him
that it was possible for their Sicilian Majesties to return and reign
with even passable comfort and security in a city where the decent
inhabitants had been given over to slaughter by the lowest of the
population, where these ruffians and _banditti_ who composed the
army of the Holy Faith had been allowed to pillage and murder without let
or hindrance. Besides, he was the victor and felt he had a right to
decide what he should do with his victories. He had promised the
garrisons that the terms of the capitulation would be observed and he
intended to keep this promise, despite the King, the Queen, and Lord

He declared nobly that to violate the treaty would be an abominable
outrage against public honour, and that he would hold responsible before
God whoever should dare to impede its execution.

Cardinal Fabrizio Ruffo expressed himself thus in forcible Italian that
Sir William, harassed and peevish, and Emma, voluble and raucous,
translated to Lord Nelson, who seemed to have taken upon himself the role
of arbiter of the destinies of Naples.

His Eminence had a good case, which he put into eloquent words; alone
among the councillors of King Ferdinand he had some wisdom and humanity,
was a little far-seeing as a politician, and a little magnanimous as a
man. In everything he was a contrast to the British Admiral who listened
to him with nervous rage.

The Cardinal, worn and excitable, came of one of the oldest, and proudest
families in Calabria, had been Papal Treasurer, was brilliantly educated,
witty, infidel, active, energetic, and subtle, with all the faults of an
intellectual and of an aristocrat.

He was capable of ignoble actions, he was an opportunist, licentious, and
extravagant, for no man could serve King Ferdinand without lending
himself to some baseness. There had been some flaws and scandals in the
career of Fabrizio Ruffo, but he was in everything the superior of the
three people with whom he so passionately argued.

He was the only man that had done anything to regain Naples for the
Bourbons and from the first he had advised moderation in dealing with the
rebels. He had been firmly opposed to the Royal plan of vengeance, and
had argued, as a matter both of humanity and of common sense, that
Ferdinand's only reasonable policy was one of conciliation and mercy.

He had done his best to control the rabble of the _Santa Fede_, and
had been sincerely horrified by the excesses committed by ruffians who
were utterly beyond his control; all this he put before the three English
people. His present case he thought simple.

The great object was to obtain the surrender of the three great castles
which were capable of holding out for months, and which, in the event of
the appearance of the Gallo-Spanish Fleet, might prove extremely
difficult to deal with. This he had accomplished by means of an armistice
which the representatives of five nations had approved and signed.

The garrisons were prepared to disarm, to evacuate the forts, most of
them would exile themselves to Toulon; they had already released their

What was to be gained by breaking the armistice, by annulling Jr
violating the capitulation? Obviously nothing but the delights of
vengeance on helpless enemies.

But the two Englishmen remained obdurate, Emma, in her muslins, blowsed
with fatigue and heat, fanning herself and sipping iced water in the
great cabin of the _Foudroyant_, translated into French Lord
Nelson's contemptuous refusal to see any point of view save his own,
while Sir William repeated stupidly: "Kings don't treat with rebels."
Ruffo argued that the treaty, once made, must be observed, in the name of
common honesty. His honourable attitude was so odd to Lord Nelson that he
began to suspect the Cardinal of Jacobinism, he was utterly under the
sway of Emma, and behind Emma was the vindictive Queen.

Angered and indignant, Ruffo was rowed ashore to consult the other
signatories to the treaty, the Russian and Turkish commanders, and
Antonio Micheroux, King Ferdinand's other plenipotentiary.

All these men at once agreed that it would be impossible to violate the
treaty, and made the emphatic statement that it was "useful, necessary
and honourable to the arms of the King of the Two Sicilies and of his
powerful allies, the King of Great Britain, the Emperor of Russia and the
Sublime Porte, because without further bloodshed that treaty put an end
to the deadly civil and national war, and facilitated the expulsion of
the common foreign enemy from the kingdom."

It might have been supposed that here the matter would have ended. But
there was still the strange trio on board the _Foudroyant_ to be
reckoned with, and behind them the Bourbon and the Hapsburg.

On the 25th Troubridge and Ball went on shore with the messages for the
Commandants of the two rebel castles that Ruffo refused to send to them;
these stated Nelson's refusal to honour the treaty, Nelson also asked
Ruffo, if, supposing that he, Nelson, broke the armistice, would, he,
Ruffo, assist an attack on the forts?

The Cardinal refused and wrote to the British Admiral, reminding him that
Foote had signed the treaty in the name of the King of Great Britain, and
that if he, Lord Nelson, broke it, he would do so on his own
responsibility; and in such an eventuality he, the Cardinal, would put
the enemy _in statu quo_ and withdraw his own troops.

During the whole morning the messages went to and fro, then Fabrizio
Ruffo came again on board the _Foudroyant_, which lay anchored
within sight of the two great forts, which were flying the flag of truce,
and of the third, Sant' Elmo, from which the tricolour still floated in
the sultry June air.

No one's temper was improved by the tension of the last few days; Sir
William was peevish, Emma bored and "fag'd," Lord Nelson violent and
domineering. The Cardinal showed all the weary passion of the man who
felt he was in the right and was most unaccountably thwarted by the folly
and cruelty of an upstart.

He haughtily questioned the right of Lord Nelson to dictate terms to
another country's General, as he, Ruffo, was, but the three English
people knew whom the King and Queen would support.

There was a passionate discussion that lasted two hours, neither side
would give way; Emma was quite worn out with interpreting, when her lover
seized a piece of paper, and scrawled across it with his left hand:
"Rear-Admiral Lord Nelson, who arrived in the bay on June 24th with the
British Fleet, found a treaty entered into with the rebels, which he is
of opinion ought not to be carried into execution without the approbation
of His Sicilian Majesty."

Thus the attitude of Lord Nelson was clearly defined; Cardinal Ruffo
returned to Naples and, still considering the treaty binding, wrote to
General Massa, commanding in Castel Nuovo, advised him of the English
attitude, reminded him that Lord Nelson had command of the sea, and
broadly hinted that the garrison had better try to escape by land, to
which course he, Ruffo, would offer no resistance.

Massa suspected this generous and desperate attempt to save him from
Nelson to be a trap to induce him to break the articles of the
capitulation and so deliver him to Royalist vengeance.

He sent a reply which showed his firm reliance on the honour of the
signatories to the capitulation treaty and his determination to abide by
it in every detail.

Ruffo, deeply conscious of his dreadful situation, agitated and
distracted, made yet another attempt to save the men for whose lives he
believed himself responsible. He tried to induce the two rebel garrisons
to come out, by sending a herald with a renewal of his offer, and
proclaimed that he would shoot anyone that meddled with them or with
their property.

Again the patriots refused to listen.

The Cardinal now found that his authority was being undermined by
Royalists, who, encouraged by Nelson, and followed by armed
_lazzaroni_, were arresting suspected persons and taking them by sea
to Procida, where they would be out of the jurisdiction of Ruffo.

These people were also tearing down the Cardinal's humane proclamation,
which he had pasted up all over the city, forbidding any interference
with private citizens and commanding respect for the white flag; the
English and their emissaries were indeed encouraging the rabble to rise
against the Cardinal as a "Jacobin."

The Queen, on hearing the news from Naples, had at once written her mind
to Emma; along a copy of the treaty she had scribbled her indignant
comments on every article; she shared Lord Nelson's opinion that it was

"June 25th, 1799.

"My Dear Lady,--I have just received your dear letter without date from
the ship, with the Chevalier's for the General...The General writes the
wishes of the King, who incloses a note under his own hand for the dear
Admiral. I accede entirely to their wishes, but cannot refrain from
expressing my sentiments to you...The rebel patriots must lay down their
arms and surrender at discretion to the pleasure of the King. Then, in my
opinion, an example should be made of some of the leaders of the
representatives, and the others to be transported under pain of death if
they return into the dominions of the King, where a register will be kept
of them; and of this number should be the Municipalists, Chiefs of
Brigade, the most violent Clubbists, and seditious scribblers. No soldier
who has served shall ever be admitted into the army; finally, a rigorous
severity, prompt and just. The females who have distinguished themselves
in the revolution to be treated in the same way, and that without
pity...The Sedile, the source of all the evils, which first gave strength
to the rebellion, and who have ruined the kingdom and dethroned the King,
shall be abolished for ever, as well as the baronial privileges and
jurisdiction, in order to ameliorate the slavery of a faithful people who
have replaced their King upon the throne, from which treason, felony, and
the culpable indifference of the nobles had driven him. This is not
pleasant, but absolutely necessary, for without it the King could not
govern quietly his people for six months, who hope for some recompense
from his justice, after having done everything for him. Finally, my dear
Lady, I recommend Lord Nelson to treat Naples as if it were an Irish town
in rebellion similarly placed."

On the 26th Nelson, fortified by this letter, himself sent into the
castles copies of his manifesto that Ruffo had refused to handle.

The Cardinal, on learning of this, put his troops _in statu quo_; he
still hoped that the Republicans would come out and surrender
unconditionally, thus relieving him of the onus of breaking the

Neither of the Republican Commanders, however, took any notice of Ruffo's
desperate moves and clung to the articles of the treaty, which they were
resolved to observe scrupulously.

Riots and panic broke out in Naples as Ruffo withdrew his troops to their
original positions; thousands of fugitives streamed out of the city
fearing a renewal of the civil war.

News came from Capua that the French and Jacobins had beaten the
Royalists and were marching on Caserta; the hostages held by the French
sent out messages to say that, owing to the delay in carrying out the
terms of the treaty, they were in danger of their lives.

Ruffo put these matters before Lord Nelson, begging him to take some
decisive action; he himself expected nothing but a flare up of the
hideous conflict.

* * * * *

The terrible situation suddenly changed; on the same morning, June 26th,
Captains Troubridge and Ball came ashore, waited on the Cardinal and gave
him a letter written in French by Sir William, and dated early in the
morning of that day:

"Lord Nelson begs me to assure your Eminence that he is resolved to do
nothing to break the armistice that your Excellence has accorded to the
Castles of Naples."

Suspicious but relieved, the Cardinal asked the two captains to authorize
the following declaration, which he had written in Italian:

"Captains Troubridge and Ball have authority on the part of Lord Nelson
to declare to His Eminence that his Lordship will not oppose the
embarkation of the rebels and of the people who compose the garrisons of
the Castles Nuovo and Dell' Ovo."

Ball signed this declaration, Troubridge would not; of course, neither of
their signatures would have had any value; Ruffo argued with the
Englishmen, wanting a more precise undertaking, but had to be content
with Hamilton's and the dictated paper which he sent by ten o'clock to
Antonio Micheroux with a covering letter, saying that Lord Nelson had
consented to carry out the capitulation, and that he, Micheroux, was to
proceed to carry out the treaty; the two documents were sent to assure
the safety of the garrisons, but Micheroux did not use them, as the
Republicans trusted in his "simple word," as he put it himself. Acting in
good faith, Antonio Micheroux did as Ruffo directed; the garrisons
marched out, only the Russians giving them the stipulated honours of war;
those patriots who chose exile were given safe conducts and allowed to
embark on a transport waiting to take them to Toulon, others returned to
their homes in Naples.

The British sailors took possession of the castles; the transports did
not sail, but were anchored between the guns of the castles and those of
the British ships; on June 28th, the members of the garrison who had gone
home were arrested and taken back to the castles--this time to the

* * * * *

On the 29th, Sir William wrote from the _Foudroyant_ to Sir John
Acton at Palermo, touching on the tiresome disagreement between the
Cardinal and Lord Nelson--"however, after good reflection, Lord Nelson
authorized me to write to His Eminence this morning early, to certify to
him that he would do nothing to break the armistice...with the rebels."
Hamilton added that Nelson had promised "any assistance of which the
fleet was capable" (presumably in embarking the rebels) and added
complacently--"This produced the best possible effect. Naples had been
upside down in the apprehension that Lord Nelson might break the
armistice; now all is calm." In conclusion Sir William added the
banality: "If one can't do exactly what one wishes, one must act for the
best and that is what Lord Nelson has done."

On the following day Hamilton again wrote to Sir John Acton, coolly
exposing the cheat. "Lord Nelson, concluding that his Sicilian Majesty
has totally disapproved of all that the Cardinal has done in
contradiction to his instructions as regards the rebels of the castles,
and those rebels further being on board of twelve or fourteen
transports...Lord Nelson has believed himself sufficiently authorized to
seize the transports and have them anchored in the middle of the British
Fleet...I have reason to believe that we have Cirillo and all the
greatest traitors on board the transports and that the _coup_ will
have been totally unexpected."

Thus the Britannic Minister, writing of the cleverness of his wife's
lover to the lover of the Queen.

To Lord Grenville in Whitehall Sir William sent an inaccurate, garbled
account of the affair, which suffered both from the fact that a mind
always weak was breaking up as the result of age and fast living, and
from the Minister's desire to put a gloss over a most dishonourable
affair to the Home Government.

Sir William, nervously anxious to put himself right with his Government,
wrote a "separate and secret" dispatch to Lord Grenville, in which he
enclosed some of the Queen's letters to Lady Hamilton which he found did
"so much honour to the Queen's understanding and heart" and a copy of
Cardinal Ruffo's capitulation, to which document Sir William applied Lord
Nelson's term "infamous." In his letter the Minister (writing from the
_Foudroyant_, July 14th, 1799) mentions that he thinks of returning
to England on "the first ship that Lord Nelson sends downwards"--probably
this was to protect himself from the possible humiliation of a recall, as
Sir William seems to have had no sincere intentions of return. The
vindictive nature of the Queen's comments on the capitulation is
sufficiently shown by the last paragraph of her letter. No doubt Sir
William's object in sending this paper was to cover himself in case of
possible censure, but his taste in humanity was not as fine as his taste
in antiquities if he believed that Maria Carolina's cruel spite could be
accepted by anyone as showing either "understanding" or "heart."

After using the expressions "real insolence," "infamous," "absurd," "real
wickedness," "vile," "base," and other such terms about the rebels the
Queen summed up her sentiments in her usual breathless style and with her
usual fury.

"This is such an infamous treaty that if by a miracle of Providence some
event does not happen to break it or destroy it I count myself
dishonoured and I believe that at the cost of dying of malaria, of
fatigue, of a shot from the Rebels, the King on one side and the Prince
on the other ought immediately to arm the Provinces, march against the
Rebel city and die under its Ruins, if they resist, but not remain vile
slaves of the scoundrelly French and their infamous Mimics the Rebels.

"Such are my sentiments; this infamous capitulation if carried out
afflicts me far more than the loss of the Kingdom and will have far worse

Almost as great as the bitter wrong done to the garrisons of the castles
was the wrong done by Lord Nelson and the Hamiltons to Fabrizio Ruffo.
Ruffo had seen what was right and had tried to do it; against terrible
odds he had endeavoured to be just, merciful and wise. And these other
three, with the Queen behind them, had overwhelmed him, had broken his
resistance, had traded on his fundamental weakness. He was no hero and
did not believe in heroism; forced to an issue, he could not risk ruin by
offending the King and Queen; beyond a point he could not suffer for a
good cause. He saw the trick--the use of the word "armistice" instead of
"capitulation," he knew how little Lord Nelson was to be relied on, he
knew Sir William's quality, he knew Emma was on board the
_Foudroyant_, managing husband and lover for the Queen's ends. But
he pretended to be deceived; he even helped to deceive Antonio Micheroux
by making out that the English letter had undertaken more than it really
had; he abandoned the men whom he had tried so hard to save, because he
could not face the consequences of a longer resistance. He knew that on
every hand he was being intrigued against, that his estates, his rewards,
his life, might have to answer for his humanity, and he gave way. Like
Pilate he washed his hands, and while the shameful betrayal was taking
place, he went to the Cathedral to celebrate a _Te Deum_, cynic
misery in his heart, the ornate service sounding like jeering mockery in
his ears.

He wrote to the Queen, asking, on the score of fatigue, to be allowed to
resign his post. Maria Carolina replied with vague, false flatteries; as
he was well aware, she suspected and disliked him. To her, as to the
Hamiltons and Lord Nelson, humanity, wisdom, and magnanimity seemed to be
Jacobin qualities.

* * * * *

An actor in the scenes that were taking place in Naples, while Emma was
singing "Rule Brittania" on board the _Foudroyant_, has left an
account of them.

Guiseppe Lorenzo, of a respectable lower middle-class family, was a clerk
in one of the regiments of the Republican Guards. On the arrival of the
_Santa Fede_ Lorenzo obeyed the signal given from Sant' Elmo and
rallied with some others of the guards to the defence of the city, which
was being desperately undertaken by the Marchese di Monterone and the
Duca di San Pietro di Maio, seconded by General Wirtz with a legion of
Calabrese and a few cavalrymen. After fiercely disputing the ground inch
by inch, the Republicans were driven back, some threw themselves into the
Castello del Carmine, others dispersed, seeking for shelter from the
advancing hordes of Cardinal Ruffo's troops.

Lorenzo and a companion, Gennaro Grasso, ran to the house of the elder
Lorenzo, where they changed their uniforms for civilian clothes, and
hastened out again, with the intention of trying to get into the Castel
Nuovo, over which the flag of the Parthenopean Republic still waved; they
changed their minds, however, on the advice of Grasso, and made their way
to the barracks of their regiment, which was attached to the convent of
Monte Oliveto; they found this crowded with soldiers and other refugees.

Exhausted by fatigue they cast themselves across a table in the
guard-room and slept; after three hours they were awakened by shouts of
"_Evviva ii Re_," the war-cry of the rabble. Springing up, they
found that all their companions had disappeared and that the corridor
outside was crowded by a horde of armed people, all, including women and
children, waving weapons and shouting fiercely. The two young men escaped
by a side door in the guardroom to the convent.

A lay brother who knew Grasso hid them all night in his cell, and in the
morning shaved off their military side-whiskers and gave them monkish
habits and rosaries.

He had hardly done this, when the mob, searching through the convent,
broke into the cell; they were, however, satisfied that the soldiers were
genuine monks, and one man, remarking the pallor of Lorenzo, asked him
kindly if he felt ill. But as they were leaving, a barber who had
formerly been employed by his family recognized Lorenzo. Barbers and
hairdressers were all violently against the Republicans, who wore their
hair short and unpowdered, thereby diminishing considerably the trade of
the _coiffeur_. This question of long hair became a very important
one. A man could change his trousers for breeches and turn his red
waistcoat, but he could not at once grow his hair. Locks and queues of
tow and horse-hair were resorted to, usually in vain; the garb of a monk
remained the only disguise that offered much hope of escape.

This barber followed Lorenzo with threatening looks, muttering in his
ear: "Your life is in my hands." As Lorenzo hastened his pace, the barber
gave him a vicious thrust with the butt end of his musket that threw the
young man to the ground; he picked himself up, and, together with Grasso,
contrived to struggle through the press and out of the building. Hurrying
along, almost at random, with their hoods over their faces, the two
soldiers found themselves in the centre of the city, which was being
sacked by the victorious _lazzaroni_, who were destroying the houses
of so-called "Jacobins" and everything that was in them. They were
dragging out the clerks from the banks and shops and murdering them;
Lorenzo observed bands of ruffians driving along groups of naked women
and children; at the street-corners were already heaps of corpses, piles
of heads and of human limbs, recently hacked off.

Half-crazed by horror, the two young men decided to take refuge with an
uncle of Lorenzo's who was a monk in the convent of Santo Tolandino,
quite close to the Castel Sant' Elmo; this person not only refused to
receive them, for fear of compromising himself, but jeered at them,
saying: "Do you think Ferdinand IV will lose a kingdom with as little
fuss as if it were a handkerchief?"

The two youths turned away, and went on a desperate search for help,
followed by insults and suspicious looks from the swarms of Ruffo's men
who passed them. They tried in vain to persuade another relative of
Lorenzo's, who lived near the little Porta di San Lorenzo, to take them,
and were forced to retrace their steps across the city; they found
themselves pushed by the immense crowds on to the Piazza di Mercato,
where the congestion was so great that it was impossible to pass through.
The Tree of Liberty, which had been put up by the Republicans in the
middle of this square, was being degraded in the most bestial fashion by
the Calabrese and the _lazzaroni_, and this in the presence of a
great number of women, who assisted at the spectacle. A large number of
prisoners were being conducted in front of the tree, "just like cattle to
the butchers," and were being shot at. Most of them were not killed at
once. Dead, or half-alive, they were decapitated; the heads were rolled
on the ground as an amusement and formed the ball in a kind of game.

The two fugitives managed to push through this horrible crowd, and got
away by the Porta Alba. They were again held up before the convent of San
Pietro di Maio, against which the Calabrese were directing a fusillade,
declaring that the Jacobins were shut up inside it.

A good woman, the wife of a tailor, took them into her shop, believing
them to be monks. Soon after, she went out to explore the streets, to see
what was happening, and returned trembling, having been censured by the
crowd for sheltering two Jacobin monks. Almost at the same instant the
shop was invaded by armed men. The chief of them began to interrogate the
fugitives and demanded to see their papers; the presence of mind of
Lorenzo saved them. He was able to throw away secretly the two gold
earrings he had in his portfolio, and to show the holy relics on his
person which had been given him by his mother shortly before her death.

The ruffians then were persuaded that these were genuine monks, and the
chief of the gang offered their help in exchange for a consideration.
Lorenzo had in his pocket ten piastre, but he did not dare show this for
fear of exciting the cupidity of the mob, and therefore refused the
assistance. When they had escaped this peril, Lorenzo, who had never
ceased to remind his friend what stupid advice he had given him and how
much better it would have been if they had gone into Castel Nuovo, tried
to think how it would be possible to get into the fortress, after all,
and they set out to cross the city again with this purpose in view.

They saw on all sides the same tragic scenes; in the Piazza Trinita
Maggiore they saw people being massacred, by shooting and stabbing by
bayonets. Further they saw being murdered a certain Guiseppe Merendo, a
poor, honest man who had lost his reason, and who insisted on coming out
of his house with the French cockade in his hat.

In the same Piazza, Calabrese and brigands were seated on top of bodies
to eat their meals.

When the two young men reached the church of Santa Maria Nuovo they were
arrested by the armed people who were guarding the house of the
President, Molinare, and who suspected diem of being Republicans.
Lorenzo, however, showed such wit, and gave such meek, holy, and learned
answers to their captors that the mob were half-persuaded they had before
them two poor lay-brothers of Monte Oliveto, and when a man appeared on
the balcony of the President's house and declared that the two friars
were really two members of the Civic Guard, those who had arrested them
exclaimed that the gentleman must be mad or mistaken. This personage, who
had recognized the two young men, insisted that he was right, he knew
them very well, and they were soldiers and Jacobins.

Lorenzo continued to argue that he was a true religionist, and he and his
companion were conducted before the Castello at the Bridge of the
Maddalena; a rabble of ruffians accompanied them; Lorenzo arguing
tranquilly that he was really a monk. His companions disputed this. One
of the _lazzaroni_ cast a cord round Lorenzo's neck three times, and
drew it so tight that he felt his eyes starting from his head, as if all
the nerves of his forehead were bursting. He felt the effect of this for
eight days afterwards.

As a last resort he slipped the ten _piastre_ that he had in the
hand of a _lazzarone_, who was at his side. He soon saw that he had
done right, for from that moment this wretch became his protector.

When they reached the Bridge of the Maddalena, they found that most of
those who had been conducted in front of the Castello had been massacred,
not only men and grown-up people, but women, children, old men, girls,
and on two carts, like so much butcher's meat, were piled the bodies that
were thrown immediately into the sea, nearly all still half-alive.

A group of armed men came forward and wished to take the two newcomers
from the hands of those who had brought them to treat them in the same
manner, but those who had captured Lorenzo and his companion insisted on
conducting them in front of the Castello. The Calabrese officer at last
took them into the presence of the Cardinal.

Fabrizio Ruffo was at a half-gunshot distance, surrounded by all his
staff and many officers. The Calabrese presented to him the two monks and
informed him of the case.

Ruffo turned to Lorenzo and asked:

"Ah, well, who are you? Are you really monks?"

Lorenzo was about to reply, when the Cardinal pushed him back with both
hands, and said: "Stand away from me, and then talk," as if he feared,
when Lorenzo came to approach him, that he was going to be the victim of
a desperate attack.

When Lorenzo was about ten paces from the Cardinal, Ruffo repeated:
"Speak now." The young man said: "We are not monks--that is the truth."

He gave him then the whole story, from the moment they had been routed on
the Bridge of the Maddalena, told him they were not conspirators, but
only men who had been engaged in a humble capacity as secretaries in the
Civil Guard.

The Cardinal then wanted to know why they had been arrested. The crowd
shouted out they were certainly two perfidious Jacobins. There was then
an argument between the Cardinal and the crowd--the Cardinal wanted to
set the prisoners free, the crowd to shoot them. At last Ruffo, knowing
the fate that would have been theirs, if he released them, said to his

"Put these where the others are, in a safe place."

The crowd then broke out into a furious orgy of hate, biting their
fingers at the two victims they had lost, and screaming out: "Ah, dogs,
if we had known you were not monks, we should have carved you in pieces!"

Lorenzo felt, however, a little assured, as if he were in the power of
justice. He and his companion were taken first to a provisionary depot of
prisoners, and then to the courtyard of an empty palace in the Via de'

The escort which accompanied the column of prisoners was captained by a
Calabrese priest, armed with two pistols and a sword, who amused himself
by telling the prisoners they were all being taken off to be shot, and at
every forty steps made the column pause, telling them this was the place
where they were to meet their end, and then marched them on under the
pretence of finding a better spot in which to murder them.

Lorenzo made the great mistake of beginning to address this priest as
"citizen," having been accustomed for several months to use that form of

"Citizen, in the name of charity, tell me where we are going?" The
terrible priest replied:

"Ah, scoundrel, how is it you have the courage to call me citizen? I am
your enemy, and I assure you I am taking you to be shot," and added some
foul words and gave him a blow in the side that caused a severe wound.

Lorenzo was sent from one prison to another, from Portici to the Granili,
from the Granili to the Corbletta Stabia, and from there to the prison of
Santa Maria Apparente. His descriptions of the sufferings of the victims
of the Bourbons, of the spoliation and extortion committed by officials
and jailers, of the insults and torments inflicted by the
_lazzaroni_ on the prisoners, are almost incredible.

"The Neapolitan people," he wrote, "were tormented until the last moment
of imprisonment."

He was, however, once allowed to see his father, and had a visit from his
uncle, the monk, who showed himself so affectionate towards him on June
14th. He remained in prison till the first fury of the reaction had
passed. Judged and condemned at the end of the year, he was exiled for
ten years, and left for France and arrived at Toulon on January 1st,

He is thus described:

"Giuseppe Lorenzo of Naples, son of Alexandro, about twenty-two years of
age, five feet eight inches, dark chestnut hair, regular features,
chestnut eyebrows, dark-blue eyes, straight nose, clean-shaven."

* * * * *

Emma found life on board the _Foudroyant_ trying. It was a great tax
on her, energy and resource to have to manage husband and lover at once
in the restricted space of the man-of-war. Still, she did her best, as
she always had done, to please the gentlemen. Sir William was coaxed,
Lord Nelson flattered, and everyone on board ship kept in a good humour
as well as she was able to do it. Even in the boiling heat with the
continuous and hideous excitement and turmoil going on, she preserved her
cheerfulness and continued to keep one object in view--the pleasing of
the Queen by a clean sweep of all the rebels, by means of herself and
Lord Nelson. Not only would this be, in her opinion, in itself a most
meritorious action, it would bring more reward and glory to both the hero
and his supporters.

She had always hated politics and she found the whole situation extremely
tiresome; she would much rather have been in the Palazzo Sessa or in the
rambling old palace at Palermo, sitting at the faro-table gambling away
Nelson's prize-money, or posing in a well-lit alcove with wreaths of
flowers, shawls and vases. She neither understood nor cared anything
about the real situation in Naples, Italy or Europe, but she hoped it
would soon be over, that she could go back to the old, jolly life with an
obedient husband doddering at her side, a tame hero in her train.

Whenever she could get a few guests on board, she gave dinner-parties and
afterwards performed on the harp, singing patriotic airs or odes written
by Court poets in praise of Lord Nelson. Often in the evening the big
woman would hold a concert on deck, gathering the sailors round her in a
semi-circle to provide the chorus for her singing of "." Her powerful
voice went across the heavy night to where the transports, then turned
into prison-ships, were anchored in the middle of the British Fleet;
there the patriots, who had emerged from the castle trusting in the sworn
words of five nations, languished in misery, chained down in the heat and
darkness, without any comfort for mind or body, without a spark of hope,
while through the portholes would come the strains of the strident
British anthem and the ringing voice of the Patroness of the Navy.

Every day boats rowed out from the quays to the transports and took
aboard numbers of the prisoners. They were delivered to the Giunta and
speedily tried, if the farcical preliminary to rapid executions could be
called a trial.

Negotiations continued with the French Commandant at Sant' Elmo. This
man, Méjean, chanced to be a scoundrel. It was therefore not difficult to
make terms with him. It would have been possible for him to have
obtained, even from the Queen, the lives of several Republicans. This
much concession the Court was prepared to grant in return for the
surrender of the formidable castle. But Méjean asked for nothing and even
betrayed those Neapolitans who were among his own men, and who could have
claimed the right of protection of the French uniform. It was said that
he accepted large sums of money from the Sicilian Court for this service.

When the garrison marched out of Sant' Elmo, many of the French officers
tried to disguise as fellow-countrymen the Neapolitans who had served
with them, but Méjean walked up and down the ranks, pointing out the
Republicans to their enemies.

* * * * *

Another excitement was provided for the party on board the
_Foudroyant_. Prince Francesco Caracciolo had been, ever since he
had joined the Republicans, an object of the Queen's peculiar spite. She
had accused him of base ingratitude in forsaking her husband's service;
but in truth the noble Neapolitan owed nothing to the Sicilian Court. His
honours were hereditary and his position he had won for himself by hard
work--he had never accepted pension nor favour from King Ferdinand.
Still, however, the Queen persisted in regarding him as a monster of base
ingratitude and perfidious disloyalty. Apart from these feelings she was
afraid of him. He knew, as she said in one of her letters, "every gulf
and inlet" in the long Neapolitan coast. He was far too dangerous a man
to be suffered to escape, and, whenever she ran over any particular
objects of her vengeance, she always mentioned Francesco Caracciolo.

When the Prince saw there was no more fighting possible, he had left the
castle secretly and, in disguise, gone to some of his mother's land
outside Naples, where he had hoped to remain concealed until he was able
to get out of the country.

Cardinal Ruffo, had endeavoured to save Caracciolo, a man whom he had
always liked and admired. He tried to convey to him certain passes which
would enable him to slip out of Calabria, but he found it impossible to
reach the fugitive Prince, who was betrayed by a servant into the hands
of the Royalists, and after two days in one of the abominable prisons of
Naples, corrupt as the grave and melancholy as hell, Francesco Caracciolo
was brought on board the _Foudroyant_ and delivered to Lord Nelson,
a man who had once been his companion-at-arms and who had affected to
admire him. "We all love Prince Caragholillo or whatever his name is."

Heavily chained, ragged, unshaven, and almost fainting from lack of food
and water, Francesco Caracciolo stood on the quarterdeck of the British
vessel. He was mute with the silence of one who knows both that his case
is hopeless and that his judges are contemptible. His fate had, indeed,
been decided, before ever he was dragged on board the British ship. The
Queen had written:

"I am very sorry about the flight of Caracciolo, for I believe that such
a ruffian on the sea may be dangerous to the sacred person of the King.
Therefore I could wish him put beyond the power of doing harm."

Both Nelson and Sir William Hamilton agreed with the Queen's views, which
they proceeded at once to put into execution. As soon as it was known on
board the _Foudroyant_ that Caracciolo had been arrested, Sir
William Hamilton asked for him, quite ignoring Ruffo, whose tendency to
humanity he knew and dreaded, and appealing directly to Sir John Acton.
Nelson made two applications direct to Cardinal Ruffo for the custody of
Caracciolo. Ruffo kept Caracciolo out of Nelson's hands as long as he
could, but when the Royal letters arrived from Palermo giving Nelson full
powers, the Cardinal retired bitterly to the background, and Caracciolo
was given to his enemies.

It was on June 29th when the Neapolitan Admiral was brought on board the
_Foudroyant_. On the 27th of that month Hamilton had written to Sir
John Acton:

"Caracciolo and twelve others of those insolent rebels will shortly be
given into Lord Nelson's hands. If I am not mistaken, they will be sent
cautiously to Procida to be judged there, and as they become condemned
they will return here for the execution of their sentence. Caracciolo
will probably hang from the yard-arm of the _Minerva_, where he will
remain exposed from daybreak till sunset to set such an example as is
necessary for the future service of His Sicilian Majesty's Marine in the
heart of which Jacobinism has already made such great progress."

This course of action having been decided upon, it would appear that it
was a waste of time to submit Francesco Caracciolo to the form of even a
brief court-martial, but this was done; judicial murderers often like to
be nice in their methods.

Hamilton wrote again to Sir John Acton soon after Caracciolo had been
dragged on board the flagship. The mincing senile _dilettante_ wrote
with the callousness of a man entirely without heart:

"Here we have the spectacle of Caracciolo, pale, with a long beard,
half-dead and with downcast eyes, brought in handcuffed on board this
vessel, where he is at this moment with the son of Cassano, D. Giulio
Pacifico the priest and other infamous traitors. I suppose justice will
be immediately executed upon the most guilty. In truth, it is a shocking
thing, but I, who know their ingratitude and their crime, have felt it
less painful than the numerous other persons present at this spectacle. I
believe it to be a good thing that we have the chief culprits on board
our ship now that we are just going to attack Sant' Elmo, because we
shall be able to cut off a head for every cannon ball that the French
throw into the City of Naples."

Lord Nelson immediately ordered a court-martial on Caracciolo to take
place on his flagship, that is, British ground. When, a few months
previously, he had been irritated by Commodore Campbell's burning of the
ships, he had declared that he would have court-martialled him had he
been under his command.

Francesco Caracciolo was no more under Lord Nelson's command than had
been the Englishman in Portuguese service, but all such considerations
were now brushed aside. Nelson was responsible, first, to Lord Keith, the
Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean, and, then, to the British
Government; he was a subject of King George _ and not of King
Ferdinand, who had not even officially given him the position of
Generalissimo of his forces or Admiral of the Sicilian Fleet, an office
which was nominally held by the Crown Prince. Lord Nelson had, therefore,
not a shadow of any authority to take any action whatsoever against any
Neapolitans or subjects of the Sicilian King. The full extent of his duty
would have been to hand the prisoners over to the representatives of King
Ferdinand, but he knew, and the Hamiltons knew, indeed, all the British
Fleet and all the Royalists knew, that he could do what he liked in the
way of ferocity against the patriots with the full applause and approval
of the Sicilian Court.

Conte di Thurn, a foreigner in the Bourbon service, was sent for by
Nelson, and with five senior officers formed a Council of War, to try, as
Thurn put in the report he sent to Ruffo that evening: "Cavaliere Don
Francesco Caracciolo, accused as a rebel against His Majesty, our August
Master, to be tried and awarded punishment adequate to his crime."

The court-martial was held in one of the cabins of the _Foudroyant_.
It lasted two hours. The prisoner had no one to speak in his defence and
was not allowed to call any witnesses. When he was asked what he could
say for himself, he replied that far from deserting the King, as he was
accused, the King had deserted him. No proper report of the proceedings
was taken. The prisoner could hardly hold himself upright from
exhaustion. "He seemed half-dead with fatigue," noted Hamilton. He made
one request--to be judged by English officers, saying that Thurn was his
personal enemy and they had lately been engaged in a bitter civil war. No
notice was taken of this request. He was judged guilty by a majority of
votes, four of the officers voting for death and two against.

When Lord Nelson received this verdict he ordered Thurn to inflict on
Francesco Caracciolo the most ignominious possible death--he was to be
hanged at five o'clock of the same day at the yard-arm, and left hanging
till sunset, at which hour, the cord being cut, he was to be let fall
into the sea.

It was one o'clock when Thurn received this order from Nelson; in another
half-hour he put Francesco Caracciolo on a boat, took him on board the
_Minerva_, the ship on which Caracciolo had fired and which he had
nearly captured in the action off Procida, and put him _in
cappella_. Not only was the mode of death the most degrading possible,
but the last proviso contained for the seaman a peculiar horror. Nelson
himself had a dread of being thrown uncoffined into the sea. Besides, it
meant that the Prince, a Roman Catholic, would be denied not only the
last rites of the Church, but all Christian burial. He would, indeed, be
treated as a dog, and his carcass as carrion. Conte di Thurn, himself no
friend of the prisoner, was a little uneasy at the severity of the
sentence. He ventured to point out to the British Admiral that it was
usual to give condemned prisoners twenty-four hours' respite, in which,
in company with a priest, they could attend to their soul's welfare. Sir
William Hamilton ventured to second this request, but Nelson refused to
listen to it.

During the time between Caracciolo's leaving the _Foudroyant_ and
the hour of the execution, which had been placed at five o'clock, two
requests came from the prisoner--one that he might have a priest, another
that he might be shot instead of being hanged. Lord Nelson refused both.

He could have saved Francesco Caracciolo. The death of this brave man and
the deaths of the garrisons of the two castles that were held by the
patriots were directly owing to his action. He, too, had the entire
responsibility for the hideous details of the execution.

At five o'clock precisely in the late, blazing Neapolitan afternoon, the
starved, hunted man, stumbling from fatigue, was brought on the deck of
the _Minerva_. The rigging of the British ship was dark with seamen
waiting to see the spectacle of a Neapolitan patrician hanged at the
yard-arm of a Neapolitan ship. None of the bitterness of an ignominious
death, none of the full taste of complete failure was spared Francesco
Caracciolo. He died like a brave man, finding a smile for a midshipman
who wept to see his fate, glancing even in that moment with interest at
the design of a British ship riding near. The noose was adjusted, the
haggard, thick-set man run up to the yard-arm, where he kicked out his
life in the blue air.

Sir William scribbled away to Sir John Acton, fit recipient of such

"All that Lord Nelson thinks and does is dictated to him by his
conscience, by his honour, and I believe that in the end his decisions
will be acknowledged as the best that could have been taken."

Yet there was something about this terrible action that struck uneasiness
even into the withered heart of the British Minister:

"For the love of God," he added, "contrive that the King comes and lives
on board the _Foudroyant_, that if possible his Royal Standard be
run up. The die is cast. Now we must be as firm as we can."

At sunset the body of the Neapolitan Admiral was cut down and flung like
offal into the darkening waters of the bay.

* * * * *

Emma had kept out of the way. She had seen to it that there was no record
of the proceedings on that occasion. Ugly stories were told about her.
One was that she and Nelson had taken a boat and rowed round the
_Minerva_, staring with coarse curiosity at the corpse of Francesco
Caracciolo; another was that on having a sucking-pig for supper she had
begun to weep, declaring that it reminded her of the man that had been
just executed--but afterwards, recovering her good spirits, she made a
hearty meal, devouring even the animal's brains. It is likely enough that
these stories are not true, but there were some women of whom they would
never have been said. She had played her part; she had been the Queen's
most efficient instrument, always at her husband's ear, always at her
lover's ear, urging that they must please the adorable Queen. And the
Queen was not unmindful of these services.

Whilst Caracciolo in his misery was waiting for death, Emma Hamilton
scribbled three letters to the Queen, which have not survived, but the
Queen's answer is in existence. It runs:

"I have received with infinite gratitude your dear, obliging letters,
three of Saturday's and one of anterior date bearing the list of the
Jacobins arrested, who formed part of the worst we have had. I have seen
also the sad end of the crazy Caracciolo. I comprehend all that your
excellent heart must have suffered and that augments my gratitude. I see
perfectly what you point out to me and am filled with gratitude for it."

Probably Emma had mentioned that her exquisite sensibility was a little
hurt by all the horrors that were happening around her. On shore the
executions were beginning; the garrisons of the castles were the first to

Gabriele Manthoné asked if it was true that the King had annulled the
capitulation; when told that it was so, he replied: "Then I maintain that
he is a tyrant," and refused to speak again.

General Massa, who was hurried from the court-martial to the square where
he was to be executed, said with ironic bitterness: "Make haste, make
haste, I have so little time to lose." He had before lamented that
through relying on the word of five nations he had betrayed his own

"Had I not got," he said, "men and ammunition and arms and provisions? I
could have held out for months, or, at the worst, I could have blown
myself, my fellow-soldiers, and the Castle into the air, and met a noble,
not a felon's death."

One by one they were beheaded in the broiling heat and amid the insults
and jeers of the _lazzaroni_ drunk with blood.

So indecent were the ghastly antics of the crowd that the Bianchi
(_padri confortatori_), the Brothers who, in Christian compassion,
waited on the last moments of those who were condemned as criminals,

These monks said that these unfortunate "rebels" were hurried to their
end so swiftly, that there was no time to think of their souls. The
Bianchi also complained that the dead bodies were left for hours at the
mercy of the mob, and that the most horrible scenes took place. It is
impossible to dwell on the orgies of obscene cruelty, of cannibalism, in
which the vile crowd indulged.

In thus loosing the basest of the savage populace on those who had
endeavoured, in the face of every difficulty, to maintain an ideal, in
thus hurling the brave, the noble, the gentle, the cultured, the learned,
the young, and the beautiful, to glut the foul passions of the
mob--passions, too, like her own, the Queen gratified at last her lust
for vengeance; one wish of hers was fulfilled; Naples was treated "like a
rebel Irish town"; many of the atrocities committed in that city were the
same as those which were being committed by Sir Ralph Abercrombie's
troops in Ireland. The mutilation of the dead, the eating of human flesh,
the use of human heads as footballs, were common to both the Bourbon
vengeance of Naples, and William Pitt's vengeance on Ireland.

As a meddling, vindictive woman is universally loathed more deeply than a
masculine tyrant, the victims of this fury found a focus for their scorn
in the Queen; she was not more detestable than her wretched husband, than
the worthless Sir John Acton, but she appeared more hateful because she
was a woman; her sex gave an added air of meanness, of degradation to
these ignoble horrors.

Already the patriots had quoted against the Queen the French verses
written to her sister, Marie Antoinette, about the violated treaty:

"Monstre échappé de Germanie,
Le désastre de nos climats!
Jusqu'à quand contre ma patrie
Commettras-tu tes attentats?
Approche, femme détestable.
Regarde l'abîme effroyable
Où tes crimes nous ont plongés!
Veux-tu donc, extreme en to rage,
Pour consommer ton digne ouvrage
Nous voir l'un par l'autre égorgés?
Plus prodigue que l'Egyptienne,
Dont Marc Antoine fut épris,
Plus orgueilleuse qu' Agrippine
Plus lubrique que Messaline
Plus cruelle que Médicis."

The attack was ferocious and extravagant, but these terms might more
justly be applied to Maria Carolina than the Queen to whom the stern
reproaches were addressed.

* * * * *

Nothing was gained by the massacres in Naples, by these savage
executions, save the gratification of Bourbon cruelty. It was a lesson to
a world that had been shocked by the excesses of _La Terreur Rouge_
in France, that _La Terreur Blanche_, as had indeed already been
proved in La Vendée and Marseilles, that the old order could be as
savage, as base, as insane, as any _sans culottes_, drunk and
starving from the slums. While among the followers and instruments of the
Bourbons could be found men like Charette, Speciale or Mammone, it was
merely ironical for any Royalist to appear shocked at the record of the

The odium of these atrocities was cast on the British, "ferocious wolves
of English," who became detested by all save the basest class; the final
political result was to drive the country into the arms of France, to
make Naples feel that anything was better than the renewal of the Bourbon

The ruined men who were thus martyred would, had they been exiled, have
been no trouble to the Neapolitan government, but, put thus infamously to
death, they became in their turn potent symbols of future vengeance.

The fanatic Garat, who had been the French envoy at Naples, exclaimed
with just fury:

"You say the dead do not return, that you murder these men to be rid of
them! Indeed, in this way you will never be rid of them. The dead do
return, in more terrible guise than ever the living came back--they come
to demand payment for their spilt blood!"

Nothing had been gained by the judicial murder of Francesco Caracciolo,
which Lord Nelson had intended as a frightful example to the rebel
Jacobins, and those French, "the mere mention of whom made his blood
boil." Caracciolo, ruined and a prisoner, would have done no harm to the
Bourbons alive; dead, he became a national hero, a reminder of what had
been done, an earnest of what might be achieved.

"The consecration of an heroic fall," neither the Bourbons nor the
British were fine enough to see that aspect of the fall of the "_figli
di Parthenope_"; in this desperate sacrifice lay the germ of Italian
unity, of Italian liberty; those who died for _la patria_ in 1799
prepared the way for 1806, for 1860, when Garibaldi and his patriots
chased the Bourbons and their parasites for ever from the fair countries
they had befouled.

In the Piazza dei Martiri--named after these martyrs--in Naples, the
mighty Lion of 1799 at the base of the memorial column is wounded but
still grips eternally the fasces.

On June 28th, Captain Foote, whom it was convenient to have out of the
way--he had signed the violated capitulation in the name of Great
Britain--sailed to Palermo to fetch the King, while Emma was making
herself useful by collecting lists of prisoners, which she sent to the
Queen. She wrote to Maria Carolina every day and the lists of condemned
persons passed to and from the women, till one would have thought that
they would have felt their fingers befouled by blood.

The Queen had long had a list by her of those on whom she would take
vengeance if the Republic fell; among them was the editress of _Il
Monitore_, the elegant and gifted poet Eleanora Fonseca Pimentel; she
had found refuge in the castle and then had been taken on board the
transports. She was among the number of the remnant of prisoners who were
at last told they could depart; she had given a guarantee never to return
to Naples and not to interfere in politics, and it was believed she might
be allowed to sail for Toulon. This was not to be. She had written
several scathing articles against the Queen and the Royal Family in the
columns of _Il Monitore_, and no pity could be extended to a severe
critic of Maria Carolina.

The Royalist guards came on board the polacca, arrested her and lodged
her in the prison that the Bianchi protested against entering, because of
the filth, foul air, and condition of the captives.

On July 8th the King came on board the _Foudroyant_; at the same
moment as this grand eloquent reception was taking place, and while he
and his smug courtiers were overwhelming the Hamiltons and Lord Nelson
with noisy gratitude, prisoners were still being rowed across the bay
from polaccas to the prisons in Naples.

This was a very pleasant sight for His Majesty, who listened with relish
while Sir William, who was flustered but relieved that the worst was
over, explained how cleverly Lord Nelson had stopped the transports just
as they had been about to sail for Toulon, and how he had acted so
promptly in getting Caracciolo out of the hands of Ruffo (who must be a
Jacobin at heart) and in having him hanged before there was time for
anyone to interfere. And there was Emma, blooming, but a little fagged
from the heat, to drop her curtsy and to receive the messages from her
adorable Queen.

The _Foudroyant_ was now to be a Palace and a Court, since His
Majesty, for all the triumph of the _Santa Fede_, dared not go

The Royal vengeance was hurried on. The accounts of this made a pleasant
diversion to amuse His Majesty, when he was at his ease after supping
with Emma and Nelson and Sir William. It was ordered that these hangings
and beheadings should all take place before twelve, because soon after
that hour there was a drawing of the lottery and the good King did not
wish to deprive his subjects of the excitement either of the executions
or of the lottery.

When Emma went on deck to obtain a little air in those stifling July
days, when the sun beat down from sunrise to sunset on the brilliant
waters, she could see the boats going to and fro, taking loads of
prisoners from the polaccas to the town; she could see the outlines of
the prisons where people of all ages and of both sexes festered alive in
filth and disease.

She knew what was taking place in Naples. She constantly received from
people she had known and from people who were strangers to her, but who
realized her influence, applications, supplications and entreaties; she
took no heed of them, and there is no record that she made any effort to
save anyone or even that she was the least affected by the circumstances
in which she found herself. She only wished that the whole affair was
over and that she was back again in the rich, luxurious life she liked so

On July 19th, she wrote thus to her old friend and love, Charles
Greville, who must have seemed a long way from these strange events in
which the girl in distress that he had rescued from the London streets
was taking so prominent a part.

"On board the _Foudroyant_,

"Bay of Naples, July 19th, 1799.

"Dear Sir,

"We have an opportunity of sending to England, and I cannot let pass this
good opportunity without thanking you for your kind remembrance in Sir
William's letter. Everything goes on well here. We have got Naples, all
the Forts, and to-night our troops go to Capua. His Majesty is with us on
board, where he holds his councils and levees every day. General Acton,
Castelcicala, with one gentleman of the bedchamber, attends His Majesty.
Sir William, with Lord Nelson and Acton, are the King's counsellors, and
you may be assured that the future government will be most just and
solid. The King has bought his experience most dearly, and at last he
knows his friends from his enemies, and also knows the defects of his
former government and is determined to remedy them. But he has great good
sense and his misfortunes have made him steady and looking to himself.
The Queen is not come; she sent me as her deputy and I am very popular,
speak the Neapolitan language, and am considered, with Sir William,
friends of the people. The Queen is waiting at Palermo and she is
determined, as there has been a great outcry against her, not to risk
coming with the King, for if it had not succeeded on his arrival and he
not being well received, she would not bear the blame, nor be in the way.
We arrived here before the King some fourteen days and I have privately
seen all the Royal parties, and having the head of the _lazzaroni_,
an old friend, who came on the night of our arrival and told me that he
had ninety thousand _lazzaroni_ ready at the holding up of his
finger, some supplied with arms. Lord Nelson, to whom I interpreted this,
has got a large supply of arms for the rest, and they were deposited with
this man...

"We gave him only one hundred of our marine troops and these brave men
kept all the time in order and he brought the heads of all this ninety
thousand round the ship on the King's arrival, and he is to have
promotion. I have through him made the Queen's party and the people at
large had prayed her to come back--she is now very popular. I send her
every night a messenger to Palermo with all the news and letters and she
gives me the orders in the same way. I have given audiences to those of
her party and have settled matters between her nobility and Her

"In short, as I can judge, it may all turn out fortunate. The Neapolitans
have had a dose of Republicanism. What a glory to our good King, to our
country, to ourselves, that we, our brave fleet, our great Nelson have
had the happiness of restoring the King to his throne, to the Neapolitans
their much loved King, and being the instrument of giving the future a
solid and just government to the Neapolitans...

"The guilty are punished, but the faithful are rewarded. I have not been
on shore but once. The King gave us leave to go as far as Sant' Elmo to
see the effect of bombs. I saw at a distance our spoilt house, the town
and villa that had been plundered. On Sir William's new apartment a bomb
burst. It made me low-spirited I don't desire to go back again. We shall,
as soon as the government is safe, return to Palermo and bring back the
Royal Family, for I can see not any permanent government till that event
takes place...

"I am quite worn out, for I am interpreter to Lord Nelson, the King and
Queen, and altogether feel quite shattered, but if things go well it will
set me up. We dine now every day with the King at twelve o'clock and the
dinner is over by one. His Majesty goes to sleep and we sit down to write
in the heat. On board you may guess what we suffer. My mother is at
Palermo and I have an English lady with me used to write and helping to
keep papers and the things in order. We have given the King all the upper
Cabin, all but one room that we write in and receive the ladies who come
to the King. Sir William and I have an apartment in the ward-room, and as
to Lord Nelson, he is here and there and everywhere. I never saw such
vigour and activity in anyone as in this wonderful man. My dearest Sir
William, thank God, is well, and of the greatest use now to the King. We
hope Capua will fall in a few days and then we shall be able to return to
Palermo. On Sunday last we had prayers on board. The King assisted and
was much pleased with the order, decency and good behaviour of the men,
the officers, etc. Pray write to me. God bless you, my dear Sir, and
believe me, Ever Yours affectionately, Emma Hamilton.

"It would be a charity to send me some things, for in saving all for my
dear and Royal friend, I lost my little all. Never mind."

Not all the men had been so decent and orderly as those whom the King
admired, when he saw them at their Protestant prayers on the
clean-scrubbed deck of the _Foudroyant_. One, John Jolly, had been
shot by Nelson's orders for insubordination, and a sailor for the same
reason had been strung up to the yard-arm.

Emma, when she had gone ashore, had noticed nothing but the damage to her
own property, but Naples at that moment was almost what Ruffo had
bitterly said it would become--"a heap of stones," and the blood was
drying on the hot pavements. The hangings, and beheadings, went on day by
day; the flower of Neapolitan civilization, all that was enlightened,
cultured, scholarly, humane, suffered the most hideous, degrading, and
painful of deaths in the packed square of the Mercato, where the mob,
drunk with blood-lust, blasphemed and rioted under the fierce sun, in the
sour stenches.

Emma went on compiling her lists of prisoners and condemned, the Queen
checking the names off with those other lists she held herself. The two
women estimated that there were still eight thousand left in the prisons;
no one counted those who had been massacred, killed in the street fights
or driven into exile.

* * * * *

The King, strolling on the deck of the British man-of-war after one of
his afternoon naps, saw a dark object in the bright, fouled waters of the
bay that roused his curiosity. He peered through his spy-glass and was
soon shrieking in terror. Coming rapidly towards the ship, visible to the
waist as if he walked through the polluted waves, was the body of
Francesco Caracciolo, bolt upright, with his long black hair hanging
round his livid swollen face. Frightened and convulsed were the
superstitious crowd--Ferdinand and those with him; only one of the
priests recovered sufficient wits to say--"Caracciolo has returned from
the dead to beg the King's pardon."

This slightly reassured Ferdinand, but he immediately ordered that the
corpse have Christian burial.

The body of Caracciolo was drawn up on board one of the Neapolitan ships,
rowed ashore in the twilight, and buried in the little church of Santa
Maria delle Grazie a Catena, built by the fishermen's savings, on the
shore of Santa Lucia, where the sailors and fisherfolk, who had greatly
loved the man who had so long defended their coast, and who had lived in
the great house in their quarter, laid him in his native soil beneath a
humble gravestone on which was written "Francesco Caracciolo, 1799."

The Brothers belonging to the fraternity of Santa Maria delle Grazie a
Catena helped to bury the body of the Captain who had carried the flag of
Naples to the shores of Tunis, and one of them gave it a benediction. The
porter of the monastery had known Francesco Caracciolo since, as a boy,
he used to run wild around these rocky coasts, and the old man recalled
how the Prince had been called "the madcap," with his streaming black
hair, quick limbs and merry laugh.

Long after the curious searched in vain for a trace of the grave of the
woman who queened it on board the _Foudroyant_, while Francesco
Caracciolo was furtively buried by his humble friends in the sea-shore
church, this inscription might be read:

Francesco Caracciolo
Ammiraglio della Repubblica Partenopea
Fu dall' astio d'ingeneroso nemico
Impeso all' antenna il 29 Giugno, 1799.
I Popolani Di S. Lucia
Qui Tumularono L'onorando Cadavere.

On August 5th, Emma wrote again to Charles Greville:


"Bay of Naples, August 5th, 1799.

"As Sir William wrote to you to-day, my dear Sir, I will only say that
the Kingdom of Naples is clear. Dasta and Capua have capitulated, and we
sail to-night for Palermo, having been here seven weeks and everything
gone to our wishes. We return with a Kingdom to present to my much loved
Queen. I have also been so happy to succeed in all my company and
everything I was charged with. The King is in great spirits. I have
received all the ladies for him and he calls me his _Grande
Maîtresse_. I was near taking him at his word, but as I have had seven
long years service in Court I am waiting to get quiet. I am not ambitious
of more honours. We have had the King on board a month and I have never
been able to go once on shore. Do you not call that slavery? I believe we
shall come home in the spring. It is necessary for our pockets and our
bodies want bracing...

"Your sincere and affectionate Emma.

"My mother in Palermo is longing to see her Emma. You can't think how she
is loved and respected by all. She has adopted a mode of living that is
charming. She has a good apartment in our house, always lives with us,
dines, etc. Only when she does not like it. For example, at great
dinners, she herself refuses, and has always a friend to dine with her
and la Signora Ambasciatrice Inglese is known all over Palermo, as she
was at Naples. The Queen has been very kind to her in my absence, went to
see her, told her she ought to be proud of her glorious daughter who had
done so much in these last suffering months. There is great preparation
for our return. The Queen comes out with all Palermo to meet us, a
landing place is made, all suppers, illuminations all ready. The Queen
has prepared my clothes. In short, I am fagged, I am more than repaid. I
tell you this that you may see I am not unworthy of having been once your
pupil. God bless you."

* * * * *

There was a faint shadow over all this glory in the thought of Fanny's
waiting in Burnham Thorpe Vicarage, and the letters, which became with
each one more peremptory in tone, from Lord Keith, reminding his
second-in-command that he could not for ever keep the British Navy in the
Bay of Naples.

As early as June, while the question of the rebel castles was distracting
Naples, Lord Keith, newly Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet,
had ordered Lord Nelson to "send such ships as you can possibly spare off
the Island of Minorca to await my orders."

Lady Hamilton's lover disobeyed, evading his superior's commands by
declaring that the safety of the Bourbon Kingdom demanded his presence
off Naples. Urged again, and more emphatically, he put forward as an
excuse for not moving the Fleet that the French were still at Capua,
giving it as his unasked-for opinion that it was better to save the
Kingdom of Naples and risk Minorca, than to risk Naples to save Minorca.
Taking no notice of this advice or comment, Keith retorted by a
peremptory command:

"Your Lordship is hereby required to repair to Minorca."

By this time he had heard or guessed something, perhaps a little too
much, of what had been happening in Naples: "Advise those Neapolitans not
to be too sanguinary. Cowards are always cruel," he wrote. "Give them
fair words and little confidence."

Again Lord Nelson disobeyed. He sent four ships to Minorca, but he could
not be expected himself to leave the Bay of Naples where the celebration
of the anniversary of the Battle of the Nile was to take place on a grand
scale; he had, however, to endure other annoyances besides Lord Keith's
vexatious dispatches. Above all there was the question of Fanny. Nelson,
when he had got an opportunity through Captain Hardy's going on leave to
England, had sent tactful messages to his wife and requested that she
would send Lady Hamilton some presents. Fanny had obeyed and dispatched a
cap and 'kerchief such as were fashionable in London. She had given him
scraps of news; she had ordered for him a suit of fine clothes for Her
Majesty's birthday and that the expenses of his new chariots were

"Nothing fine about it, only fashionable...Three hundred and fifty-two
pounds for harness, etc., for one pair of horses."

Lord Nelson cared little about matters of expense; the present from the
East India Company--£10,000--had just been paid to his English bank, and
he was glad of the chance of distributing it among his friends and
relations; not only was he, where money was concerned, generous by
nature, but it was a good opportunity of keeping his family quiet and of
swaying them in his favour. £500 was to be given to his father, £500 each
to his two brothers; there was plenty left over for his sister and for
Fanny, to whom he wrote pleasantly, begging her to distribute the money,
promising to return as soon as his health permitted, but carefully
emphasizing the poor state he was in. He was able to send Fanny also a
glowing account of the celebrations of the famous August 1st, when the
King had dined on board his flagship and the whole of the bay had been
illuminated, so that by night it might have seemed as if the town and
villages were all housing prosperous and happy people from Procida to
Sorrento. At night the outlines of the prisons were hidden, the scaffold
and the block concealed in the shadows, and the murdered bodies washed
ashore on the rocks were invisible.

"A large vessel," wrote the gratified hero, "was fitted out like a Roman
galley. On its oars were six lamps, in the centre was erected a triumphal
column with my name, at the stern were elevated two angels supporting my
picture. In short, my dear Fanny, the beauty of the whole was beyond my
powers of description. More than two thousand variegated lamps were
suspended round the vessel, an orchestra was fitted up and filled with
the very best musicians and singers. The scene of beauty was in a great
measure to celebrate my fame...(Describing their previous distress etc.)
But Nelson came, the invincible Nelson, and they were preserved and again
made happy. This must not make you think me vain."

More congenial even than writing his own praises was the task of writing
to dear Mrs. Cadogan about the beloved Lady.

"Our dear Lady is also, I can assure you, perfectly well, but her time is
so much taken up with excuses from rebels, Jacobins and fools, that she
is every day most heartily tired. Our conversation is, as often as we are
liberated from these teazers, of you and of your other friends in the
house at Palermo, and I hope we shall very soon return to see you. Till
then, recollect that we are restoring happiness to the Kingdom of Naples
and doing good to millions."

The honest dame must have been highly gratified to receive this letter
from so great a hero, and to hear that dear Emma was "doing good to
millions." Perhaps by then Mrs. Cadogan had learned to read and write.

* * * * *

One of the "Jacobins and fools" who pleaded with Lady Hamilton was the
famous Domenico Cirillo, a man respected and beloved by all who knew him,
a famous physician and a celebrated botanist. From the dark cabin of the
polacca where he writhed in heavy chains, he wrote a letter in English to
Lady Hamilton, reminding her of their one-time acquaintance, protesting,
and with truth, that he had done nothing to serve the Republic, but, not
being a man of politics, had endeavoured to live quietly under any
government that might be in Naples, and had spent his time administering
to the sick of all denominations and opinions.

This elegant and courteous appeal, written in such bitter extremity, from
such a man would have sickened with remorse and pity the hearts of most
women. There is no record that it disturbed that of Emma Hamilton. Nelson
scrawled at the side of the letter that Domenico Cirillo was a fool who
might have been saved if he had not been obstinate.

The meaning of this obstinacy was that, when the high-minded man
discovered at what price of humiliation he was expected to buy his
pardon, he refused. He went to his felon's death shortly afterwards as
precisely dressed as prison conditions allowed, wearing a jaunty French
cap with a bow. Like all the other Republicans, he died bravely--"_da
forte_" as General Massa said. Many of the Republicans preferred death
to shouting "_Evviva il Re._"

Emma was able to tell the Queen that Eleanora Fonseca Pimentel, whose
anti-Royalist articles had so infuriated Her Majesty, had been duly
hanged in the Mercato, the dreary square before the Church of the
Carmine, after drinking a cup of coffee and quoting a line of Horace.

Hanging, as practised in Naples, was not an easy death. The victims
mounted a long ladder, had the rope put round their necks, were then
pushed off by a man seated at the top of the gallows, an assistant, the
_tirapiede_, then leapt out on to the feet, swinging, struggling and
fighting with the victim, into space, while the man who had been at the
top jumped on the shoulders of the dying person. In this manner was the
elegant and cultured Eleanora Fonseca Pimentel destroyed. As she mounted
the ladder, she saluted the bodies of her friends which were lying below;
some had been hanged, some beheaded. She had in vain asked as a favour
the latter mode of death, to which, by reason of her noble birth, she was

But the ignoble gallows suited the rage of the Queen and the humour of
the mob; the _lazzaroni_ liked to see the three figures, victim,
hangman, and assistant, swinging about at the end of the rope; it was a
fine chance for ribald jokes.

The corpses that the brave woman hailed as she climbed the ladder were
those of the high-minded young aristocrats, who had worked ardently for
the Republic, Giuliano Colonna and Gennaro Serra. For the space of the
summer day the remains of the poetess swung in the Mercato, the butt of
the insults of the _lazzaroni_, Emma's friends whom she had been so
pleased to see crowding in their barges round the _Foudroyant_, and
whom Lord Nelson had supplied with British arms.

* * * * *

The fall of Capua, to which Emma had alluded in her letter to Greville,
was the final defeat of Ettore Carafa.

After an heroic defence of the fort, lack of provisions compelled him to
capitulate; he surrendered on the condition that the garrison should
march out with their property, arms, and with military honours, while he
himself and some of his officers were to be allowed to join the French
then in camp at Ancona, but again it was a question of "the King does not
make treaties with rebels."

The capitulation was broken and Ettore Carafa, the young, bold and
splendid patrician, was sent in chains .o Naples, where he was kept in a
foul, unlit prison, fastened by an iron collar round his neck to the
wall. Brought out to die in the rags of the French uniform that should,
by all the rights of nations, have saved him, since he had taken service
with the French Republic, he lay on his back with unbandaged eyes; as he
said contemptuously to the headsman: "Tell thy Queen that Ettore Carafa
knows how to die," his beautiful head was struck off.

The relation of this heroic death gave the good-humoured King Ferdinand a
chance for a joke. In his dialect of the streets, he chuckled: "So the
young Duke knew how to flourish to the last!"

The Giunta continued its work; many people were beheaded in spite of
heavy bribes; those who said that they had come out of the castles on
Lord Nelson's word were told that the King had annulled all promises of

* * * * *

On August 5th the _Foudroyant_ returned to Palermo, bringing, as
Emma had grandiloquently said, a present of a Kingdom for the adored
Queen. The daughter of the Hapsburgs was on the quayside to receive this
gift; behind her came a vast crowd, first, her own particular following
and sycophants, flatterers and underlings, and then the cynics of the
Sicilian nobility, who hoped for either pickings of the plunder or at
least a spectacle, and then the rabble of Palermo, agape for a
raree-show. These people, like the _lazzaroni_ of Naples, cared
little who was the ringmaster as long as there was a circus.

Emma and the Queen fell into each other's arms with tears, embraces and
exclamations of joy. The work was done. Naples had been ground down again
under the heel of Bourbon tyranny. The enlightened, intellectual and
honest people, who had made a desperate stand against ferocious
misgovernment, had been either murdered or exiled. The British Navy, with
no credit to itself or to the nation it represented, had made a semblance
of restoring Bourbon rule in South Italy. Caracciolo was dead, so were
men like Gabriele Manthoné, General Massa, Mario Pagano, Baffi, Pacifico.
All who had ventured a word, a gesture, a look against the Bourbons had
been punished; a noble and beautiful youth, whose gaiety had charmed even
his jailers, had been beheaded for the alleged crime of knocking the head
off a plaster statue of Carlos _, an offence really committed by the
King's dear friends, the _lazzaroni_. No trick, no subterfuge, no
chicanery had been spared to give the Queen her glut of vengeance. Even
those who had passively lived under the short Republic, who had
merely suffered the French out of indifference or timidity or
liberal-mindedness, had been slain, exiled, or ruined. No one could
complain that Maria Carolina had not found in Emma a willing tool, that
Hamilton had not loyally supported his wife, and that Lord Nelson and his
captains had not been most efficient executioners for the Bourbons. Now
the rewards began to come in.

"Those excellent Sovereigns," as Nelson afterwards named them in a frenzy
of snobbery, were lavish in their gifts and noisy in their gratitude. The
Queen had written about the festivities on August 1st:

"My very dear Lady,

"You will scarcely believe how very desirous I felt to be with you on the
1st of August at table with our hero and all his fellow heroes,
companions and officers. I should have given so heartily the hip, hip,
hip, that in spite of the cannon's roar my voice would have been heard,
so deeply is my heart penetrated."

Not having been able to assist at the banquet on board the
_Foudroyant_, she had done her best in making preparations for a
great festival in Palermo. It happened to be also the feast of Santa
Rosalia, which gave a popular air to the whole rejoicing.

There was something for everyone, and the Queen had chosen her gifts with
great tact, for they were exactly what suited the recipients. To Emma,
still lamenting "the goods" that she had left behind in the Palazzo
Sessa, there were cartloads of dresses valued at over £3,000, a gold
chain set with the Queen's portrait, surrounded with diamonds forming the
words "Eternal gratitude" in Italian, and another expensively mounted
picture of King Ferdinand supposed to be worth a thousand guineas.

Sir William had another jewelled picture of His Majesty. The value of the
dresses and of the pictures was supposed to be something like £10,000.

For Lord Nelson there was a gift extremely to his taste--the Sicilian
Dukedom of Bronte, "thunder" in English; it had a gratifying sound to a
hero's ear. His Majesty assured the new Duke that his revenues would be
in the neighbourhood of £3,000 sterling a year; Lord Nelson at once, with
his usual lavishness about money, wrote to his father that he should have
a charge of £500 on the estate. He was immensely pleased at his reward
and hoped to make his tenancy "the happiest in Sicily."

* * * * *

The _festa_ of Santa Rosalia, which coincided so happily with the
rejoicings for the conquest of Naples, was the most important social
event in the lives of the Palermitans, the most important religious
festival of the year for the people. Against the background offered by
the superb city, where the Saracenic and Norman palaces rose in a medley
of baroque splendour above gardens filled with the delicate fronds of the
pepper-tree, the glow of the pomegranate, and the metallic sharpness of
palms, took place the fantastic celebrations of the young virgin of
Charlemagne's blood, who, hundreds of years before, had fled from some
such scene as this, to die in holy seclusion in a grotto on Monte

One of Emma's excursions had been out to a rugged mountain from which the
glitter of Palermo could be seen below among the dark groves and golden
rocks, and where in a dark hollow of the ancient hill was the shrine of
the royal maiden. On the spot where Santa Rosalia had drawn the last sigh
of her pure breath reposed her statue in untainted white marble. Her gown
of solid gold, her golden coronal, her golden book, cross, staff and
skull, had all been given by Bourbon kings, who had also offered the
marble cherub who presented a golden lily to the dying saint.

Above the grotto, the mountain soared to a peak where stood another
statue of Santa Rosalia, in grey limestone, before an oratory; above her
was a beacon tower built to flash warnings along the coast on the
approach of those corsairs whom Francesco Caracciolo had beaten back to
the African shores.

The festival of the patroness of Palermo was usually held from July 1lth
to 15th; but this year the rejoicings were continued until the British
Fleet arrived from Naples.

The weather was superb and the Sicilians were adepts at this kind of
pageantry, which suited so well the luxurious promenade of the
_Marina_, or Porto Borbonico, which rivalled with its sea-wall,
carriage-way, Ionic temples, huge statues of Bourbon kings and rich
locust-trees, the fashionable Chiaja of Naples. Here the patricians on
the hot summer nights had displayed their carriages and horses, their
clothes and jewels, while they talked over the bloody scenes taking place
in Naples, and here a gigantic display of fireworks was arranged in
honour of Santa Rosalia, who had died a pure maiden in a mountain grotto,
and of Lord Nelson, who had achieved so much success by slaughtering his
fellow-men in the name of God and King Ferdinand.

There were plenty of novelties to amuse Emma, who had now got
"Jacobinism" off her mind, and could rest and enjoy all the fun. The
saint's car moved in procession down the Toledo from the Porta Felice to
the Porta Nuova; it was seventy feet long and eighty feet high; and
towered above the tall façades it passed. It was drawn by thirty-two oxen
and preceded by a squadron of Sicilian cavalry, while about it pressed a
crowd, delirious with enthusiasm, casting the brilliant flowers of Sicily
beneath the gilded hoofs of the sweating white beasts. The car itself,
mounted on a wheeled float, was in the form of tiers of seats on which
were grouped liveried court musicians, above them a temple rose where
groups of angels held up tabernacles; these were surrounded by festoons
of blossoms, flags and holy pictures. The gigantic structure was crowned
by a monstrous figure of the virgin saint, attired in silver, and half
veiled by a transparency of tissue clouds; beneath her a group of
children from the foundling hospitals, attired in brocade, struck up
hymns on zithers and guitars, when the Court band came to a pause.

This monstrous temple took two hours to jolt and stagger down the Toledo,
where the air was thick with the blue smoke of incense and the perfume of
the crushed flowers. If Emma was a delighted spectator of this scene,
which was so much to her taste, how much more exciting did she find the
spectacle on the _Marina!_ There, seated beside Lord Nelson and Sir
William and their Majesties in the Ionic loggia, built for Spanish
viceroys, she viewed against "the oriental sapphire" of the night the
famous fireworks. A huge fantastic palace had been built on the
sea-front; the facade, which showed transparencies depicting the glories
of the Bourbons and Lord Nelson, was lit skilfully from behind.

The surviving vessels of the Neapolitan Navy, among them the Conte di
Thurn's vessel, from the mast of which Prince Francesco Caracciolo had
been hanged, lay in the harbour, flying the Bourbon flag. These were
outlined by tiny fairy-lamps that made the rigging appear to be of
strings of stars. They began the display by firing their cannon; the
echoes from the mountains were much admired by the Royal party. The ships
then sent off water-rockets and bombs, which burst under the sea with
great effect; after half an hour of this amusement, the sham palace was
suddenly lit up, while fountains of fire spouted in front of it; as these
faded into sparks, a garden of flame was disclosed, palm-trees,
orange-trees, flower-vases glittering on a fiery parterre.

The palace then broke into suns, stars and wheels of coloured fire, which
consumed the entire structure. But the show was not over. From the ruins
of the firework building rose two thousand rockets, interspersed with
bombs, squibs, serpents, and devils in leaping fire.

As this display faded, another took place over the sea, where fire-balls
broke in showers of gold and silver over the dark waves that extinguished
them, while on the _Marina_ appeared enormous banana-trees swaying
in a rich green flame.

The climax of the pyrotechnics was the siege of a castle during a
thunderstorm, where bombs, lightning, thunder-bolts, and fire-balls
exploded together in one supreme conflagration.

After this there was mounting into ornate carriages, drawn by the
beautiful Sicilian horses, and Emma between husband and hero was taken to
the Flora to hear the music amid the roses, the mulberry and
pepper-trees, under the shade of cypress and palm. Then a parade along
the streets to see the illuminations, where Lord Nelson shared the
honours of initials and transparencies with the saint.

The next day there was horse-racing in the street, and the car was again
dragged down the Toledo, this time adorned with dozens of wax tapers; the
day after more races and a vast company pressing into the fantastic
splendour of the Duomo, where Norman and Saracen kings lay in robe and
crown, and where thousands of wax lights, hung from the roof, seemed like
a heaven full of stars.

Then, the public fountains were hung with lamps, the relics of the saint,
exposed in their silver case, were carried in procession across the
excited city, and more fireworks, music, and firing of cannon.

The Queen did not allow these rejoicings to come to an end; on September
3rd, while the hanging and beheading were taking place daily in Naples,
while the prisons there were crowded with dying and hopeless victims, a
splendid country fête was celebrated in some gardens at Colli outside
Palermo, where Saracenic pavilions stood among orange-groves. The great
moment of this festival was based on one of the famous attitudes. A
Temple of Fame had been erected, in which were life-size figures; the
principal of these represented Lady Hamilton as Victory, holding a laurel
wreath out to Lord Nelson, who was being led up to the Goddess by Sir
William Hamilton. At the climax of the gala, when music, wine and mutual
compliments had brought everyone into a state of high excitement, the
King advanced, took from the wax figure's hand the wreath of
laurels--which was then discovered to be sewn with sparkling
diamonds--and placed it on the untidy, tow-coloured hair and wrinkled
brow of the British hero. Wreaths of the same nature and value were also
available for Sir William and the Patroness of the Navy. The festival
then proceeded with every detail of extravagance that a theatrical mind
could conceive and a large purse execute. There were dances, dramatic
scenes, fireworks, torchlight processions, refreshments in
Sicilian-Gothic casinos, beneath the leaves of the magnolia, the papyrus,
and the citron, and, on the bosoms of all the ladies and on the shoulders
of all the men hung, amid the ribbons and the jewels, ornaments
glorifying the hero of the Nile.

* * * * *

The news that Lord Keith had followed the Gallo-Spanish Fleet to Brest,
and had therefore left Lord Nelson in command of the Mediterranean
station, could hardly damp these arduous festivities. Whatever commands
were sent to him, whatever responsibilities were laid upon his shoulders,
he refused to leave his Emma and his Queen, the golden flatteries, the
luscious sunshine of the sweet, brilliant autumn days in Palermo. Two
duties claimed him; he should have proceeded to the blockade of Malta,
and he had undertaken that not a Frenchman should leave Egypt.

Writing home, he stressed his poor health; he was almost blind and truly
very ill, told his wife that he scarcely expected "to rub through the
winter," that he never hoped even "to see Bronte." In the same letter he
begged her to send him prints of his famous exploits, such as the
boarding of the _Saint Nicholas_. He wanted also some of the
caricatures, and a good laced hat and a plain one, but always he
emphasized his ill-health. "I am heartily tired of war, I am fagged and
tired out."

The naval side of his work was done well; no laxity was allowed among his
men. A sailor who had been insolent to his officer was hanged at the
yard-arm "in the usual manner," and the Fleet was efficiently run, but
Lord Nelson could not bring himself to leave the baroque city of golden
stone and Saracenic towers nor Emma's luxurious palace, where long tables
were nightly strewn with gold pieces, where there was always champagne to
drink and delicate food to eat, rich and fantastic gardens to walk in,
and Emma herself with her lustrous eyes and her red lips and her loud
laugh and her incessant flattery.

There was also always La Favorita, the Eastern villa with the casino hung
with bells in the midst of the rich gardens, with the secluded walks
leading to the enchanted bay of Mondello.

There, between the yellow Doric temples, in the shade of the dark trees
backed by the golden rocks under the ilex, the plane, the olive, and the
flowering laurel, Emma wandered in her Sicilian satins, leaning on the
arm of the hero in his faded British uniform.

The interior of La Favorita contained tributes to the glory of Lord
Nelson and the enthusiasm of Emma and the Queen.

There was a chamber _à la turque_, furnished with luxurious divans
by the grateful Sultan, there was a Pompeian room, designed by Sir
William for the repose of his wearied countryman and adorned with
ornaments from the buried city, there were mosaics in the "Saracenic
style," and there were, in every possible place, prints, caricatures, and
paintings of the bravest of men, Horatio Nelson, and of the fairest of
women, Emma Hamilton.

The eccentric casino had an underground ballroom, cool and dim, corkscrew
staircases leading to a belvedere on the roof, called the temple of the
winds, from which the ornate gardens could be viewed, stretching beneath
the yellow cliffs.

Lord Nelson liked this atmosphere, this background, he enjoyed it with
the fierce enjoyment of the rustic nobody who suddenly comes to Court,
with the relish of Christopher Sly, snoring in the Prince's bed. He liked
the air that was heavy and rich with incense and the perfume of bursting
fruit; he liked the nights that hardly passed without the bursting of
fireworks among the stars that hung in the heavy, purple, Sicilian
heavens; he relished the concerts of music, the trill of mandolines and
of guitars, above all he liked the sensation that the most beautiful
woman in the world belonged to the bravest man alive and that a whole
Kingdom lay at their disposal; he was passionately "lost in love."

The Queen, with the hysteric energy that nothing could exhaust, made no
pause in her constant flatteries, in her showers of gifts. To everyone
who had served her to achieve her vengeance, there were portraits with
diamonds, jewelled snuff-boxes, watches, any and everything else
given.--Lord Nelson thought her "good and great."

* * * * *

Sometimes there was an unpleasant letter to write to Fanny which jarred
on this. One in particular had to be penned in a panic, when Lady Nelson
suggested coming to visit Lisbon. Her Lord assured her that it was the
dirtiest place in Europe and "more unwholesome than the worst part of
Portsmouth." He tried to quiet her by writing of the home they would have
when he returned, "a neat house near Hyde Park, on no account on the
other side of Portman Square."

On October 18th came bad news. General Bonaparte had contrived to slip
across the Mediterranean and to land in France. Nothing could have been
more vexatious to the Allies. It was Lord Nelson's peculiar business to
see that this dreaded enemy did not return to France; the fact that he
had done so made the Battle of the Nile fruitless; but the Admiral was
not ashamed of his disobedience and negligence--"no blame lies at my
door," he asserted.

* * * * *

Emma enjoyed herself thoroughly. As she had no imagination but plenty of
courage, she had no fear of the future. She was as happy as a child
glutting itself with sweetmeats and never guessing that the bottom of the
bag might be near. She was not even troubled by thoughts of what the
British Government might be thinking of Sir William's conduct, or of what
the British Admiralty might have to say about the lingering of the
Mediterranean Fleet in Palermo Harbour; she did not trouble herself about
what Josiah Nisbet might be saying about his stepfather's behaviour,
which had provoked him beyond the restraint of good manners; the golden
episode was coming to an end, but Emma did not realize this, and it was
without any fear of the future that she lapped up these Sicilian
delights, as an overfed cat deigns to lap the rich cream in the porcelain

Emma had recently had an agreeable addition to her establishment; this
was Miss Cornelia Knight, something of an authoress in a genteel way,
who, with her mother, Lady Knight, had shared the flight from Naples.
Soon afterwards Lady Knight had died, kindly ministered to by the
efficient Mrs. Cadogan, and the shrewd, well-bred Cornelia had been left
in the charge of the British Minister's lady who kindly promised to see
her safely to England, when the occasion for that trip should arise.
Cornelia had soon established herself in the queer household and acted as
a secretary to Emma. She was a neat, precise, fairly intelligent young
woman who was quite clever enough to sacrifice her prudery to her
interests. In brief, she saw nothing whatever wrong in the fantastic
admiration Lady Hamilton showed for Lord Nelson; it seemed to her quite
natural that her dear friend should feel thus ardently for so great a

Miss Knight, then, in these Palermo days, fetched and carried, and
listened and coaxed and flattered, and was altogether a very useful
adjunct to the extravagant household.

These delights were too brilliant to last; Emma at last noticed, first,
with vexation, then, with alarm, signs that they were coming to an end.
In January Lord Keith returned to the Mediterranean command; this time
Nelson could not refuse to meet him at Leghorn; he received what he might
have expected--a cold and haughty greeting. Keith said nothing about the
Bay of Naples business, nor did he mention Emma, but his manner conveyed
that he had heard a good deal.

The two Admirals came to Palermo together; Lord Nelson had already
written to Emma:

"Having a Commander-in-Chief I cannot come on shore till I have made my
manners to him. Times are changed. It has been no fault of mine that I
have been so long absent. I cannot command, and now only obey."

The Queen held no festival to amuse and dazzle Lord Keith, who spent over
a week in the Sicilian capital and marked it with a disenchanted eye; he
happened to be a gentleman, and that made it awkward for everyone.

Another blow fell. Sir William was recalled. Lord Grenville had decided,
soon after receiving the dispatch describing the capitulation of the
rebel castles, that the old dilettante could no longer retain his post.
The old man received this news in a spirit of bitterness.

"I have, after thirty-six years' service to this Court, been either
kicked up (or down) out of my post. It gives much uneasiness to this
Court and poor Emma is in the greatest distress."

Arthur Paget, a gentleman and distinguished diplomat, a product of
Westminster School and Christ's Church, Oxford, was sent to take Sir
William's place. He also viewed Palermo, the Hero and the Beauty, the
King and the Queen, with the cold eye of disenchantment. His dispatch to
Grenville would not have made pleasant reading to the Hamiltons or their

"I am sorry to say that Lord Nelson has got more or less into all this
nonsense. His Lordship's health is, I fear, sadly impaired, and I am
assured that his fortune is fallen into the same state, in consequence of
great losses which both his Lordship and Lady Hamilton have sustained at
faro and other games of hazzard."

Keith wrote even more emphatically:

"The whole was a scene of fulsome vanity and absurdity all the long eight
days I was at Palermo."

The Queen, too, began to weary as if all the glory had become tarnished,
like a mirror a breath had been blown on.

The joys of vengeance began to nauseate even Maria Carolina. An
uneasiness, a fear not untouched by a vague remorse, depressed the
melancholy, excitable woman. It was apparent, even to her intelligence,
that never again could she set foot in Naples, that the Bourbon rule in
South Italy was over, and over in shame and disgrace. Even in the midst
of a relentless war the slaughtering in Naples had roused and sickened
Europe; the good opinion of everyone in every part of the world had been
lost. The Queen never paused to think reasonably on any subject, but it
began to be apparent even to her that the recapture of Naples with the
help of the British Navy and the enthusiastic co-operation of the
Hamiltons had led to nothing except the creation of an almost universal
hatred; nor were her own circumstances much improved. The letters she
continued to write to di Gallo in Vienna were still full of lamentations
and complaints. Of her husband, His Sacred Majesty, whom she wished to
set up as an absolute monarch, an arbiter over the life and death of
thousands of other people, she wrote with the utmost contempt:

"The state to which we have been reduced has rendered him excessively
avaricious. He directs the Royal house and all the accounts. We lack
everything. When the Kingdom of Naples was reconquered every demand on
the Royal purse was satisfied, but I, my daughters, son, and my
daughter-in-law, we have only the half of what was owing to us. He paid
no pension, no minister, nothing to anybody. Everyone is complaining. I
know not how to remedy it. It is a tyranny and nobody can stand it. He
will not hear of going back to Naples and says he will live and die in
Sicily, from which country he will not budge. This is a true calamity. As
for affairs, I have them very heavily on my heart and they are black on
all counts. I suffer mostly from the violent severities that are being
used. The number of guilty was so enormous that they had to be used
according to justice. My heart is oppressed."

In the next letter the moment of regret, real or assumed, had passed, and
Maria Carolina noted vindictively:

"Justice has been done on Cirillo--he was insolent to the last. The two
sisters, to the great scandal of the public, had seven years of exile.
What an end is mine, after having passed the good, beautiful, best years
of my life in one long sacrifice! But one must bow one's head to the
Divine will. Buy me a fine pelisse with large warm sleeves but not very
expensive; it is for the warmth and not for the luxury that I need it. I
suffer so much from the cold. My finances are much restricted. Whatever
expenses the King undertakes, he always takes good care to cut mine down.
He counts every farthing. It is incredible and passes all imagination. I
only hold to life by a thread."

The two sisters to whom the Queen referred were the two Duchesses, Giulia
and Maria Antonia Carafa. By huge bribes they had contrived to save their
lives and had received what the Queen considered such a scandalously
light sentence--seven years of exile. These two women had behaved with
great devotion during the last dreadful days of the existence of the
Parthenopean Republic, working among the sick and wounded, and in the
end, like heroines of antiquity, with cropped hair and bared arms,
helping the men who were defending the Mole.

There was also another woman against whom neither the King nor the Queen
would relax their _vendetta_. This was that sad little heroine of
romance, Luisa Molinos, or Sanfelice, who, to save a lover, had betrayed
a Royalist conspiracy, under the rule of the Republic, in consequence of
which some Royalist conspirators, members of the Bacher and Della Rossa
family had been shot in the courtyard of the Castle Nuovo.

While the Queen was writing to di Gallo about her heart's being
distressed by the horrors that were taking place in Naples, this poor
young woman, beautiful, gentle and nobly born, was lying under sentence
of death in the degradation and misery of one of the vile Neapolitan

The little Crown Princess, who had been so ill and so uncomplaining,
demanded the life of Luisa Sanfelice as a favour from the King, when she
gave birth to an heir to the throne, but it was roughly refused.

After agonizing delays and desperate attempts on her own and her friends'
part to save her life, after being tried, condemned, twice _in
cappella_, and sent to Palermo and then back to Naples, Luisa
Sanfelice was, nearly a year after Queen Carolina wrote the above letter,
beheaded on September 11th, 1800, amid the public rejoicing and
illuminations for the birth of another Bourbon Hapsburg. She was the last
and the most pitied of the victims of Maria Carolina's _vendetta_;
in her case, in that of Francesco Caracciolo, and in those of Carafa,
Massa and Manthoné, there was, even for the taste of the Royalists, too
apparent an element of bitter, implacable, personal revenge. The odium of
all these events was cast with added bitterness on the British. Ruffo, in
a letter to Sir John Acton, stated that the English would always be hated
in the country, because "of the destruction of the Navy, which had not
only been in itself a great loss but had spoiled the bottom of the Gulf."

But the sun still shone in Palermo and there was one more supreme honour
for Emma. Off Malta, Lord Nelson had performed one of his dashing, heroic
exploits. After a stern fight he had taken one of the ships that had
escaped from the Battle of the Nile, _Le Généreux_, which was
conveying troops and provisions to Malta. This was a useful as well as a
showy piece of work; the troops numbered two thousand and there was a
great store of provisions and ammunitions for the relief of La Valetta.
The engagement indeed deserved the word "glorious"; it had been
thirty-two small to eighty large guns and Lord Nelson was justified in
writing under the entry in his journal: "Thank God."

Even this gratifying success did not, however, bring Lord Nelson into the
good graces of Lord Keith, who gave him a reception by no means to the
hero's taste. Nelson wrote to Emma:

"Had you seen the way that Peer received me I know not what you would
have done, but I can guess."

Lord Keith had heard and seen too much at Palermo; the official account
of the engagement off Malta, which he sent to the British Admiralty, Lord
Nelson considered likely to be so little favourable that he wrote
privately to Lord Grenville. Anxious as he was to put himself right with
the powers at home, Lord Nelson could not risk disobeying his superior in
command who had ordered him to take command of the squadron now off Malta
and had pointedly said: "that Palermo was an inconvenient place of

The two officers quarrelled on this subject, Nelson insisting that his
state of health was such that nothing but staying with his friends for a
few weeks would enable him to survive. He had written to Emma a little
earlier that year: "to say how I miss your house and company would be
saying little. It is true that you and Sir William have so spoiled me
that I am not happy anywhere else but with you, nor have I an idea that I
ever can be."

This was true enough; it was also true that he was ill--reckless and
nervous away from Emma. She seemed to support him with her energy, her
self-confidence, her brilliant flatteries. He had succeeded in getting
for her another reward beside those bestowed on her by the grateful
Queen. She had helped, with a few pounds from Sir William's store, the
starving Maltese, and had also exerted herself to obtain food for the
refugees from the islands. This service was exaggerated by Lord Nelson
into one sufficient to justify a demand for a handsome recognition from
the Emperor Paul, who was then Grand Master of the Order of St. John of

Nelson wrote to the Czar of All the Russias thus:

"The laborious task of keeping the Maltese quiet in Malta, through
difficulties, which Your Majesty will perfectly understand, was
principally brought about by Her Majesty, the Queen of Naples, who at one
moment of distress, spent £7,000 belonging absolutely to herself and
children, by the exertions of Lady Hamilton, the wife of Sir William
Hamilton, my gracious Sovereign's minister to the Court of the two
Sicilies. If your Majesty honours these two persons with the Decoration
of the Order, I can answer that none ever more deserved the Cross, and it
will be grateful to the feeling of still Your Majesty's most faithful and
devoted servant, Bronté Nelson."

These services of Lady Hamilton's were greatly exaggerated. She had never
spent large sums of money on any cause, nor was she a woman likely to
give away in charity what she would have found useful for herself, but
Paul did not concern himself with the rights or wrongs of the matter; the
little Cross of Devotion of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem was sent
to Palermo together with a pleasant letter signed by His Imperial

This honour brought a new excitement; it was necessary that all
enrolments in the Order of Malta should be recorded at the College of
Arms, London, so Emma began to occupy herself with the questions of her
birth and ancestry. This business was likely to take, and in fact did
take, a long time, and it was a pleasant if agitating occupation to get
together some story for the Heralds and to dream of the day when she
would be able to quarter her own arms. With a view to stopping any
inconvenient enquiries in her native place, she described herself as the
daughter of Henry Lyon of Preston, in the County of Lancashire, instead
of Neston in the County of Cheshire.

* * * * *

Sneering and bitter against Keith, Nelson loitered in Palermo: "Great
changes are coming on and none that I can see for the better. We of the
Nile are not equal to Lord Keith in his estimation, and ought to think it
an honour to serve under such a clever man." He directed the blockade of
Malta from Palermo; the Island capitulated April 1800.

While he was ashore his ship captured the last survivor of the Battle of
Aboukir Bay, the _Guillaume Tell_; Nelson was not pleased that he
had missed this glory by being ashore and his ill-humour was augmented by
the news from London. There was the dispatch of recall from Lord Spencer:

"It is by no means my wish or intention to call you away from service,
but having observed that you have been under the necessity of quitting
your station off Malta, on account of your health, it appears to be much
more advisable for you to come home at once than to be obliged to remain
inactive at Palermo while active service is going on in other parts of
the station."

Nelson and the Hamiltons visited Malta in state, then returned to

Lord Keith was told that Nelson should be permitted to take his passage
in the first ship home, but the Scotsman had no frigate available.

Could not this be made an excuse to travel with the Hamiltons? Emma had
done what she could to put off the day of departure. She had made things
extremely unpleasant for Arthur Paget, "Cursed Paget," as the Queen
called him, even to the extent of rendering it difficult for him to find
rooms in which to lodge. He had been detained at Naples by the intrigues
of the two women, who made it a tedious business for him to get a passage
across the Tyrrhenian Sea; Emma and the Queen had contrived that any
official reception should be much delayed, that it should be of a
humiliating character when it took place.

The cool young diplomat was neither flurried nor confused by these crude
tactics. On March 25th, he wrote to Lord Grenville:

"From what I can collect there does not seem as if there were a shadow of
anything like order or regularity in any individual department in the
state. I have seen and conversed with the persons at the head of them
all; they all complain at the situation of affairs...

"I hear that the _Giunta_ (Commission which carries on the
government of Naples) is composed, with one or two exceptions, of a
corrupt, bad set of men. Law and justice are neither practised nor

"It is not to be told the pains that were taken by Lady Hamilton to set
the King and Queen and the whole Court against me, even before I arrived.
I was represented as a Jacobin and a coxcomb, a person sent to bully and
to carry them back to Naples, and it is enough to know the character of
the people here to be sure that all the jargon has had its effect."

In Arthur Paget's opinion matters could not have been worse. The events
of which the Hamiltons and Nelson had been "the mainspring," in their own
words, and which, as Emma declared, had "given happiness to millions,"
had left the country, in Paget's opinion, in this state:

"Every department of the state, ecclesiastical, civil and military, has
assumed the most untoward appearance. Instead of religion there is an
excess of bigotry, corruption has succeeded to justice, and the fact of
calling in foreign troops in itself proves what the state of the army
must be...

"I really don't know whether any good can be done with the present
generation. So corrupt and so insensible to all principles of honour and
morality do I think it. A total reformation on the largest and most
comprehensive scale ought to take place...all the honest, trustworthy
people either have been murdered or are in exile or in prisons."

And with an oblique but emphatic reference to the actions of the
Hamiltons and Lord Nelson, he wrote:

"Nothing good or useful can be effected by the introduction and direct
interference of foreigners."

After twelve months' residence in Palermo, Paget summed up the situation
in the following words:

"When I look around me and reflect upon the persons employed in the
different departments of the government, I do not understand how the
thing goes on at all. The fact is that General Acton will not employ
people who are not blindly devoted to him and he has certainly brought
himself to think that it is a well-governed state. I always return to a
position I formerly made. There is neither army, navy, commerce, justice,
agriculture or religion, or roads in these Kingdoms, and as long as
General Acton remains at the head of affairs I despair of seeing any
change for the bettering of them. He will listen to none but those who
flatter him; at the same time there is not a man in this Kingdom fit to
hold his situation."

Such was the opinion of a cool, cold and impartial observer of the Court
and Kingdom of Naples after the suppression of the Revolution and the
meddling of Lord Nelson and the Hamiltons. Beyond the badly governed city
there was anarchy; at Castelluccio the infamous brigand, Mammone, and his
_banditti_ ruled without interference and the outrages committed by
him and other outlaws passed from the horrible to the grotesque in their
crazy ferocity.

In the Castel Sant' Elmo political prisoners still rotted naked in the
damp dungeons; one reckoning stated that forty thousand families had some
of their members thus imprisoned and were not able to obtain either their
release or their trial.

Over the face of Italy, nay, of France and of Europe, wandered the
starving Neapolitan exiles, begging their way, dying by the roadside.
Petitions from the innocent and the wronged lay unopened in the bureaux
of Sir John Acton's secretaries; such resources as the country had were
strained to offer rewards to Nelson, Troubridge, Ruffo, Thurn, and others
who had been the executors of the King's will and the Queen's

Cardinal Ruffo received the Abbey land of Santa Sofia at Benevento, which
was worth an annual pension of fifteen thousand ducats. Perhaps when he
enjoyed this handsome estate, he sometimes thought of the capitulation of
the castles, the thirty pieces of silver and the potter's field. Thurn,
who had presided over the court-martial which had condemned Caracciolo,
and a certain Scipione La Mara, who had helped to betray him, were both
rewarded with annual pensions. La Mara received, too, the splendid house
and rare botanic gardens that had belonged to Domenico Cirillo. There
were few spoils left in the devastated Kingdom; such as they were, they
were distributed to the unworthy and the base, the servile courtiers, the
abject tools of tyranny.

* * * * *

Nothing would suit the Queen but that she must go to Vienna to see her
daughter, the Empress; even Sir John Acton complained of this
considerable and unnecessary expense. Somehow, although the Queen was
always complaining of poverty, and even begging for a fur coat from her
own ambassador, money could be found for useless extravagance; Maria
Carolina was restless and impatient, and had no wish to be left in
Palermo without dear Emma, obliging Sir William, the heroic Nelson and
the British Fleet, so it was arranged that the whole party should travel
together overland as far as Vienna.

Emma's spirits, dashed by the recall, rose at the prospect. She was
always accommodatingly good-humoured at changes of circumstance.
Everything had been delightful both in Naples and in Palermo, but then
the future might be delightful too. She began to visualize a triumphal
progress across Europe with a doting husband on one side, a Queen on the
other and a hero in her train; she foresaw dazzling receptions at every
Court they passed, and then in the future was London. There, she
believed, she would conquer everyone, even the Queen of England, and
become a very great lady indeed. It was hardly possible to believe that,
after all the flatteries she had enjoyed in Naples, she would get the
cold shoulder in her native city; of course, in England there was also
Fanny; but Emma and her lover always thrust that figure out of their
minds; the mistress, always resourceful, was sure that the unwanted wife
could be somehow dealt with, when the moment came.

Unpleasant news from London there certainly was; with the bundles of
newspapers, caricatures, and prints of the great victories and portraits
of the one-armed, one-eyed hero, were reports of Mr. Fox's stern
denunciations in the House of Commons of the Neapolitan barbarities. The
orator had not been careful in his choice of expressions; publicly and
vehemently he had denounced a campaign promoted by "murders so ferocious,
cruelties so abhorrent that the heart shudders at the recital"; he flung
out the ugly story of the violated capitulation for the Commons to
digest; he made the Tories sullen, the Whigs excited, by his fierce
account of the miserable victims savagely murdered and the way the
British name had been disgraced; the ferocity and stupid cruelty and
treachery of the darling, laurell'd hero, Lord Nelson became the topic of
the drawing-rooms, the coffee-houses, and clubs.

There was, too, the question of Emma to be discussed in London; her past
was too well known for anyone to take a generous view of her relationship
with Lord Nelson, and the spectacle of the patient wife, waiting in the
little Norfolk vicarage with a stately old father, touched the public
imagination; popular feeling began to run high against the hero of the

When rumours of these things came to Palermo, Lord Nelson was defiant and
bitter. He fiercely condemned Fox for not having behaved with "the wisdom
of a Senator or the politeness of a gentleman or an Englishman," and, he
added: "The rebels came out of the castle as they ought, to be hanged,
and I hope all those who are false to their King and Country will be

He sent this statement to his faithful friend Alexander Davison (the army
contractor, afterwards imprisoned for fraud), who had before been so
useful with the Press and told him to get it in the papers. The case was,
however, not such that any publicity could make much play with; still,
Emma was there, Emma, stout-hearted cheerful and energetic, and the
future could be thrust aside, though it began to assume a hideous shape.

* * * * *

On St. George's Day, the last year of the old century, April 24th, 1800,
the Queen of Naples with her daughters and retinue, Sir William Hamilton,
Emma, Mrs. Cadogan, Miss Cornelia Knight, a French maid and several
Italian servants, sailed for Leghorn in two battleships, which Lord
Nelson had taken from the squadron blockading Malta.

This short voyage was done in the grand style; Maria Carolina and Emma
had much the same tastes; they loved to live in a state of theatrical
display, and the state cabins were soon made fit for the reception of a
queen, of a beauty, and of a hero. Apart from all comforts and luxuries
provided by the Queen there were plenty of trophies; the figurehead of
the _Guillaume Tell_, which was a painted plume of feathers, a stand
of arms from the _San Josef_ and the flagstaff of _L'Orient_;
in the corner was a _memento mori_, the coffin presented by Captain
Ben Hallowell to Lord Nelson. Despite this, however, they were very gay
and merry. Miss Cornelia Knight composed some verses for the occasion,
which were frequently sung during the voyage:

"Come, cheer up, fair Emma! forget all thy grief,
For thy shipmates are brave, and a Hero's their chief.
Look round on these trophies, the pride of the main;
They were snatched by their valour from Gallia and Spain.

Behold yonder fragment: 'tis sacred to fame;
'Midst the waves of old Nile it was sav'd from the flame--
The flame that destroy'd the new glories of France,
When Providence vanquish'd the friends of blind Chance.

Those arms the _San Josef_ once claimed as her own,
Ere Nelson and Britons her pride had o'erthrown,
That plume, too, evinces that still they excel
It was torn from the cap of the famed _Guillaume Tell_.

Then cheer up, fair Emma! remember thou'rt free,
And ploughing Britannia's old empire, the sea,
How many in Albion each sorrow would check,
Could they kiss but one plank of this conquering deck."

These were halcyon days, a fit epilogue to the Neapolitan and Sicilian
romance; the tempest seemed stilled while Emma's ship rocked on the

When Emma beguiled her leisure by turning over the romances, novels and
magazines, the packets of prints and newspapers, sent from England by
Lady Nelson, she could not avoid some thought of the future, but always
her confidence was unabated.

Not so with Lord Nelson; he was truly sick and suffering; his mangled
body gave him continuous torture; he was agitated by the fear of an
approaching blindness; only his vanity and his passion for the gorgeous
woman who scarcely ever left his side held him to life. When he thought
of the waiting Fanny, he became nauseated with agitation; home-sickness
pierced him; behind was the "apple-tree, the singing and the gold,"
before, the foggy common place of England.

Emma's courage and her lover's nerves might well indeed have been shaken
by the situation, which was one to which neither could be blind. Three
months before, Captain Troubridge had taken upon himself to write to Lady
Hamilton informing her, as he put it, "of the ideas that were going about
on things which may appear to your Ladyship innocent, and which I make no
doubt were done with the best intention, but which your enemies will give
a different colouring." And Troubridge had warned her of definite
scandals, which had gone to Pisa and from thence to London. "You may not
know you have many enemies. I therefore risk your displeasure by telling

The lovers had seen, too, some of the ill-natured English prints, some of
the spiteful paragraphs in the English papers. While Emma laughed, Lord
Nelson groaned; he viewed the future in dark colours.

When the British arrived in Leghorn Harbour, the party landed and were
accommodated in one of the more stately hotels; there, while the Queen
and Emma fussed and shouted, and the medley of servants ran about with
the unwieldy travelling comforts, the worst possible news was brought
into the town by a sweating courier.

Young General Bonaparte, who had been allowed by Lord Nelson to escape
from Egypt, was marching again on Italy, at the head of a magnificent
army, which he seemed to have raised from the ground like the ancient
hero, Cadmus, by a stamp of his heel; he had taken the tricolour flag
across the Alps and broken the Imperial forces at Marengo. While Lord
Nelson had been enjoying the fame of Aboukir and assisting the Bourbons
to revenge themselves on Naples, the French General had displayed the
heroic activity that was making him the dread and admiration of Europe.
Even the destruction of the French Fleet had not ruined his designs; he
had defeated the Mamelukes, taken Gaza, stormed Jaffa and returned to
Paris in October; while the punishment of the patriots was continuing in
Naples, General Bonaparte had accomplished a _coup d'état_, known as
the 18th Brumaire (November 1799), which re-organized France, restored
Christianity, gave an amnesty to political offenders, and raised General
Bonaparte to the position of First Consul in a Government founded on the
Roman model.

To give a lustre to this new France, which had arisen from that now
completed episode, the Revolution of 1789, the young General had resolved
to wipe out the tarnish of his arms due to the Italian disasters and the
successes of Suwarrow.

Marengo, where the forty thousand French, brought through the St. Bernard
Pass, had fallen on the flank of General Mélas, and Hohenlinden, Moreau's
victory, more than counter-balanced any advantages that the Allies might
have derived from the Battle of the Nile and the recovery of Naples.

The French advance, and the French victories, made the captured trophies,
so jealously stored in Lord Nelson's cabin, appear slightly foolish, and
both the bloodshed in Naples and the rejoicings in Naples seem useless
and ridiculous.

* * * * * * * * * *



--Lord Nelson




Maria Carolina was in despair at the news of the French advance; she
remembered 1796, when at Lodi, Mondovi, Lonato, Roveredo, Arcola and
Rivoli, General Bonaparte had overturned the Imperialists and the Princes
of Italy, and Naples had had to cringe to him for terms. Of what use had
been the illusive successes which had been gained by the Bourbons and the
British Fleet, while the conqueror of Italy was shut up in Egypt if the
First Consul was again to march into the peninsula?

The Queen thought of her Sicilian retreat; could not the British warship
take her back to Palermo? Lord Nelson was willing to consent, but
dispatches from Lord Keith arrived from Genoa; his orders were that all
the men-of-war were to join his squadron.

Emma, the Queen, implored--just one ship--if not for Palermo, then for

Lord Nelson sent the request; it was refused and Lord Keith, in the worst
of humours, arrived from Genoa and presented himself before the odd
company in the Leghornese hostelry, the re-called Ambassador, the
invalided Admiral, the Queen, the Princesses and their retinue, taking
this senseless journey to Vienna.

George Elphinstone Keith, the Scots patrician who had seen such long and
honourable active service, was a man of intelligence, courage, breeding,
and one whose career had been adorned with brilliant exploits; he had a
pretty shrewd knowledge of the state of affairs in the Mediterranean,
where he had been for some while second-in-command to Lord St. Vincent,
which officer he had succeeded on his retirement in 1799. As Captain
Elphinstone he had served under Lord Howe, under Lord Hood before Toulon,
and had commanded a squadron off the Cape of Good Hope. Three years
before he had been promoted to Vice-Admiral and made an Irish Peer with
the title of Baron Keith of Stonehaven Marischal, the last title because
his mother was the niece and heiress of the line of the last Earl

When he arrived to take command of a perilous situation at Leghorn, he
was a man of fifty-four years of age, of wide experience and sound j
udgment, resolute and self-contained, the last man in the world to be
influenced by romantic or sentimental considerations. Handsome and
robust, of a virile and energetic appearance, he viewed without sympathy
or compassion the strange party that was awaiting his pleasure in the
painted rooms of the Leghorn hotel.

Lord Nelson, indeed, made an effort to keep up appearances. In the
presence of Miss Knight (he perhaps knew she was keeping a diary) he
mentioned that he hoped during his stay in London that he and Lady Nelson
would see a good deal of the Hamiltons, and he added that they would
"probably dine together, that he and Lady Nelson would retire to their
rest while the Hamiltons would be going to one of their musical parties."
This pitiful attempt at placating the proprieties did not soften Lord
Keith. He rapidly summed up the four people whom he saw before him.
Hamilton, the tired, battered dilettante, the elegant figurehead who had
meddled with such horrible results in politics was, in Lord Keith's
opinion, senile. Withered and yellow, Sir William set about lamenting
anything that interfered with his personal comfort; his private
misfortunes he seemed to feel more deeply than he did any of the bloody
events of Naples or of the war; he complained that in the great storm off
the Neapolitan coast the ship, bearing his collection of vases to London,
had been wrecked and only a few cases rescued; he occupied himself with
his wife's pet dogs, with his own pet monkeys, and protested against
everything; Lord Keith paid him no attention.

Emma was loud-voiced and dominant, directing the whole party as if she
were indeed Britannia and they the waves; Lord Keith had at Palermo taken
a dislike to the Patroness of the Navy. He considered Lord Nelson so
wrapped up in this enervating atmosphere "as to have lost all zeal for
the public service."

The Queen was, as always, hysterical and dramatic. She flung herself on
her knees before the British Admiral and begged, with all her habitual
gestures of a wronged princess, for the loan of a British ship to take
her back to Palermo.

The situation was, indeed, unpleasant; General Bonaparte was supposed to
be only a day's march from Leghorn. Emma tried to add her persuasions to
those of Maria Carolina. Striking one of the most effective of her
attitudes, Beauty in Distress, she besought Lord Keith to grant Her
Majesty's request. The Scotsman was unmoved; the quartet seemed to him
disgusting and disgraceful. He told the Queen, with no attempt at
civility, that she could either go on to Vienna as quickly as possible by
land or else return to her dominion in one of her own Neapolitan
frigates, of which there were several in Leghorn Harbour, but none of
which Her Majesty dared to trust.

Upon this, in Lord Keith's words, Her Majesty had "a sort of convulsive
fit." The British Admiral took no heed of these feminine wiles, of the
ravings of Sir William or of the sulks of Lord Nelson, nor of the
screamings and flutterings of the Princesses and their attendants. He
strode out of the hotel, out of the town, and sailed away towards Genoa
with all the British battleships, leaving the stranded party to do what
they could.

* * * * *

There was nothing to do but continue the journey by land. On July 15th
the cavalcade started out, taking over a day and a night along the bad
road to reach Florence; it was impossible to stay at the Tuscan capital
because of the advance of the French; they had to jolt on again, a slow,
unwieldy procession. At Loreto there was an accident to the Hamiltons'
cumbrous coach--a broken wheel, that detained them, nervously fretting,
for three days, tormented by the news of Bonaparte's approach, by the
monotone of Sir William's lamentations that he was dying, by the Queen's
hysterics and the disorder of the Princesses and their retinue, who were
in a state of panic lest any moment they should have their throats cut by
those monsters, the French. As the procession struggled along again in
the sweltering heat over the broken road, they passed some Imperialistic
stragglers, who informed them that General Bonaparte was not two miles

After this there was not even the relief of pauses for repose at the
wretched, flea-infested, filthy inns; they had to travel night and day in
the greatest discomfort under the blazing Italian heat, until they were
out of the territory which belonged to the House of Hapsburg, the
Archduchy of Tuscany, and into the Papal States.

Emma and Mrs. Cadogan were the most cheerful of the disordered crowd.
They had the quality, not uncommon to their class, of what is known as
"rising to the occasion." They were always handy and good-humoured in a
crisis, while Lord Nelson was sick and agitated, the Queen almost
unconscious from terror.

At Ancona things were a little better. An Imperial frigate was ready to
convey the Queen to Vienna. It was handsomely furnished with temptingly
soft beds, silken tapestries and Persian carpets; but the crew looked
sullen and menacing, and the Queen declared they were all Jacobins who
would murder the royal party as soon as the ship set out to sea. The only
other available vessel in the harbour was Russian, and Maria Carolina
decided to sail under the Czar's flag to Trieste.

While they stayed at Ancona their spirits rose; the terrible menace of
the French seemed to recede into the background. The Queen opened her
baggage to distribute largesse. She had brought a fine booty with her;
snuff-boxes in gold and diamonds, jewels, watches, chains, rings, and
money. The Imperialist soldiers, then in garrison at Ancona, were each
given a florin, with which to drink her health. It was quite like old
times. There were cheers and _vivas_ and mutual congratulations.

But once on board the Russian ship, things were bad again. It was all
excessively uncomfortable--the ship dirty, badly equipped, inefficiently
run. The expert sailor in Lord Nelson revolted at the condition of the
Czar's vessel, which was, in his opinion, scarcely seaworthy. The
captain, overcome by sea-sickness, did not put in an appearance, and the
second-in-command was a Neapolitan who did not seem pleased at the sight
of his rightful Queen; indeed, he behaved himself like "the most insolent
of beings." It seemed touch and go whether they would make Trieste or
not, but luckily the sea was as calm as a mill-pond and they landed on
August 2nd.

There was a fine reception in the Austrian Port, people shouting in the
streets, illuminations at night, admirers crowding round the British hero
whenever he showed himself abroad. Three weeks' journey took them across
the mountain roads to Vienna, and there their reception was everything
that either the Queen, Nelson or Emma could have wished.

The old imperial city lay heavy and weary under the rich September sun.
It seemed neither dead nor alive, but stagnant. It was very different
from the violent life of Naples, from the lively splendours of Palermo,
the cities which had known so many different governments, revolutions,
upheavals and wars. Here there was an air of Imperial stability, even if
it was the stability of decay.

When everything else in Europe had changed, when the greatest transition
that mankind had ever chronicled was taking place in the world, Vienna
remained of yesterday. Still in the enormous baroque palaces that seemed
too vast and grandiose for human needs, built from the spoils of long
wars and for plumed and' laurelled heroes, moved men and women in brocade
and jewels, with powdered locks, hooped skirts and diamond-hilted swords.
Here were no patriotic songs, no strains of "Rule, Britannia," no
flourishings of the "Marseillaise," no hymns of the Liberal or
Republican, but the music of Mozart and of Haydn sounding like the elegy
of a dying age.

Queen Marie Antoinette's nephew wore the diadem of the Caesars; his wife
was his cousin, Maria Carolina's daughter.

Into this rich calm, cynic yet smiling, war-weary yet serene, the Queen
of Naples slipped naturally into place, a link in the Imperial chain of
the Hapsburgs, daughter of Maria Theresa, an Imperial Arch-Duchess. In
the enormous _salons_ where stone giants upheld the canopied
ceilings and thousands of perfumed wax-lights glittered before mirrors
twice the height of a man, Maria Carolina queened it as if she had never
lain seasick in the cabin of the _Vanguard_ or gone on her knees at
Leghorn to Lord Keith. Because of her, Emma was accepted by the pale,
powdered ladies, whispering over the disaster of Marengo, by the defeated
or helpless Generals in their white, gold, and scarlet uniforms, by the
elegant ministers already foreseeing the peace of Lunéville.

Emma was eyed a little curiously perhaps; the great gilded city, where
everyone was a little fatigued, a little melancholy, where everything was
very fine and subtle, was a curious setting for the flamboyant charm and
noisy vitality of Lady Hamilton; her vices were those of the peasant, the
vices of the Austrians were the vices of an aristocratic decadence.

But there was the presence of the hero to gild over everything. The
British Admiral was a picturesque and fascinating figure, with his one
arm and his one eye, the faded, stained blue uniform, and the cocked hat
set defiantly on the mop of unruly hair that never seemed to take a curl
nor to accept a ribbon.

An Empire which had found the French invincible was likely to make much
of the man who had destroyed the navy of the Republic, even if that
victory had been fruitless.

There was a repetition of the Neapolitan and Sicilian fetes; the
Englishman set the fashion; the ladies tried to give their frocks a
Nelson touch, an anchor in the hair, a bust of Britannia at the bosom,
the British colours on the shoulder; the shops displayed nautical
designs, intended to honour the British hero; his carriage was followed
when he went abroad, and women held their children up for him to bless.
Emma was for ever beside him; her florid beauty graced the festooned box,
when he went to the gala at the Opera House, and she helped to
acknowledge the cheers that greeted him as he bowed to the audience.

At the banquet given by Prince Esterhazy in the style made popular by
Prince Eugene nearly a hundred years before, when there were heyducks and
hussars in attendance and healths were drunk to the sound of trumpets and
cannon, Emma was beside the hero in her satin, jewels and brocade. She
had long left behind the simplicity so carefully taught her by Charles
Greville, the classic robes so precisely designed for her by Sir William
Hamilton; she now appeared, as far as attire went, a woman of fashion,
and in these rich and modish clothes lost much of her beauty and all of
her distinction.

Haydn waited on the Hamiltons and Lord Nelson in the handsome mansion
where they stayed, and Emma displayed her ringing voice and dramatic
gestures in singing a verse in honour of the hero, while the master
accompanied her on the spinet.

But the aristocratic English in Vienna were sensitive to what they
considered the ridiculous figure that the famous beauty cut; if the
Viennese ladies could tolerate her with a smile and a shrug, her own
fellow-countrywomen could not. She seemed to them strident, ill-bred and
tiresome, while her relations to her doddering husband and to her maimed
lover offended the tastes of the English colony in the imperial city. She
was always at her lover's side; while Sir William followed with her
lap-dogs, the hero would carry her pocket-handkerchief.

"He has the same shock-head and the same honest, simple manners," wrote
Lady Minto. "He is devoted to Emma. He thinks her quite an angel and she
leads him about like a keeper with a bear."

Lord Harris had expressed himself more emphatically: "It is really
disgusting to see her with him. She is without exception the most coarse,
ill-mannered woman I ever met with."

Emma's lack of breeding indeed offended that fastidious society; she had
the bad taste to play cards while Haydn was performing, and her raucous
voice rose through the tender melodies of the exquisite music, as she
cleared up nearly £400 from the baize table while the concert was in

Nor were the manners of the hero as much admired as they had been by the
Queen's party in Naples. The English considered him very much the
parvenu; ladies smiled behind their fans, and the gentlemen lifted their
brows to see the little man strutting about wearing, whenever he went
abroad, every ribbon, order and star he possessed, while in his cocked
hat was stuck the Grand Seigneur's aigrette; this ornament was thought in
Vienna very ugly and not valuable. The son of the Norfolk parsonage had
not the air which could carry off baroque splendour against the
background of Vienna; what might have appeared splendid on a Duke of
Lorraine, a Prince of Savoy, was on him merely foolish.

But neither of the pair seemed to notice that they had caused offence or
laughter. They acknowledged cordially and with no touch of ironic humour,
the cheers of the people, and they received as their due the formal
compliments of the great world.

* * * * *

The day came when the Hamiltons must he on their homeward way and Emma
had to leave the Queen. It was the end of a strange partnership, an odd
friendship. After so many years of intimate association, neither woman
knew if she were really fond of the other or not; it had always been a
question of expediency; the Queen had thought to make of Emma a political
cat's-paw, and Emma had willingly kissed the hand which had held out to
her the bounties that had made life a fairy-tale to the former London
servant-girl. Now it was over. Out of it, this odd friendship, the Queen
had had her vengeance on Naples, the British Fleet for months between
Palermo and Naples, vengeance executed on some of her rebellious
subjects. She knew that she could hope for nothing more from Emma
Hamilton, whose flighty mind was already fixed on other schemes. She was
nervous, melancholy, weighed down by premonitions of ultimate disaster as
she bade good-bye to Emma, who, after all, had not been so very useful
once Lord Keith had come on the scene.

On her side, the British Minister's wife had two coach-loads of fine
dresses, some jewels and treasures, and the glory of being able to go
back to England boasting that she had been the intimate friend of the
Queen of Naples. Then with tears, protestations, hysterics, and promises
for the future, the two women parted--the Queen to remain with the
Hapsburgs, Emma to go in the great coach with her husband and Lord Nelson
northwards towards Prague.

The meeting with Fanny was coming nearer. Ulysses had written to Penelope
that he had asked his friend Davison to take a house in London, that he
hoped to meet her there, that she must expect to see a worn-out old man.

* * * * *

The next stopping-place was Dresden, where they were received very
civilly by the British Minister, Mr. Hugh Eliott, and his wife, and where
they made a worse impression than they had made in Vienna. There was a
shrewd, sharp-minded Englishwoman, Mrs. St. George, to watch and to note
what they looked like and what they did and to put down her observations
in a journal she was keeping.

This lady went on October 3rd to dine at Mr. Eliott's beautiful villa;
Lord Nelson was present, the Hamiltons, and Miss Cornelia Knight, famous
for her _Continuation of Rasselas and Private Life of the Romans_.
These famous people, whose praises had been celebrated all over Europe,
appeared slightly obscured in the cool estimation of the English
gentlewoman. She wrote:

"Lord Nelson thinks of nothing but Lady Hamilton, who is totally occupied
by the same object. She is bold, forward, coarse, assuming and vain. Her
figure is colossal, but, excepting her feet, which are hideous,
well-shaped. Her bones are large and she is exceedingly
_embonpoint_. She resembles the bust of Ariadne; the shape of all
her features is fine, as is the form of her head, and particularly her
ears. Her teeth are a little irregular, but tolerably white, her eyes
light blue with a brown spot in one, which though a defect takes nothing
away from her beauty and expression. Her eyebrows and hair are dark and
her complexion coarse. Her expression is strongly marked, variable and
interesting, her movements in common life ungraceful, her voice loud yet
not disagreeable. Lord Nelson is a little man without any dignity...

"Lady Hamilton takes possession of him and he is a willing captive, the
most submissive and devoted I have seen. Sir William is old, infirm, all
admiration of his wife, and he never spoke to-day but to applaud her.
Miss Cornelia Knight seemed a decided flatterer of the two, she never
opens her mouth but to show forth their praise; and Mrs. Cadogan, Lady
Hamilton's mother, is what one might expect. After dinner we had several
songs in honour of Lord Nelson, written by Miss Knight and sung by Lady
Hamilton. She puffs the incense full in his face; but he receives it with
pleasure and sniffs it up very cordially. The songs all ended in the
sailors' way, with 'Hip, hip, hip, hurrah,' and bumper with a last drop
on the nail, a ceremony I have never heard of or seen before."

Mrs. St. George also accompanied the travellers to the Opera House, where
she was amused by Lady Hamilton's obvious flattery of herself and noticed
"she and Lord Nelson were wrapped up in each other's conversation for the
best part of the evening." She thought that the hero resembled, in his
person, the Russian Suwarrow, infamous for his cruelties.

On the following day Mrs. St. George received a strange invitation; it
was from Lady Hamilton and requested the presence of the English lady to
see the British hero dressed up for the invitation to Court he was
expecting to receive from the Elector; thus Mrs. St. George describes
Horatio Nelson as she found him, arranged and posed by Emma:

"On his hat he wore the large diamond feather or ensign of sovereignty
given him by the Grand Signior, on his breast the Order of the Bath, the
Order he received as Duke of Bronte, the diamond star including the sun
or crescent given him by the Grand Signior, three gold medals obtained by
three different victories, and a beautiful present from the King of
Naples. On one side is His Majesty's picture, richly set and surrounded
with laurels which spring from two united anchors at bottom, and support
the Neapolitan crown at top; on the other is the Queen's cipher which
turns so as to appear within the same laurel and is formed of diamonds on
green enamel. In short, Lord Nelson was a perfect constellation of stars
and orders."

On October 7th, Mrs. St. George was allowed to see the famous attitudes
which had so entranced Sir William Hamilton and pleased the romantic
tastes of Goethe.

"Breakfast with Lady Hamilton and saw her represent in succession the
best statues and paintings extant. She assumes their attitudes,
expressions and drapery with great facility, swiftness and accuracy.
Several Indian shawls and chairs ant antique vases, a wreath of roses, a
tambourine and a few children are her sole apparatus. She stands at one
end of the room with a strong light to her left and every other window
closed. Her hair (which, bythe-by, is never clean) is short, dressed like
an antique, and her gown a simple calico chemise, very easy with loose
sleeves to the wrist. She disposes the shawls so as to form Grecian,
Turkish and other drapery, as well as a variety of turbans. Her
arrangement of the turbans is absolute sleight of hand, she does it so
quickly, so easily and so well. It is a beautiful performance, amusing to
the most ignorant, and highly interesting to the lovers of art. The chief
of her imitations are from the antique. Each representation lasts about
ten minutes. It is remarkable that, though coarse and ungraceful in
common life, she becomes highly graceful and even beautiful during this
performance. It is also singular that in spite of the accuracy of her
imitation of the finest ancient drapery, her usual dress is tasteless,
vulgar, loaded, unbecoming. She has borrowed several of my gowns and much
admires my dress, which she cannot flatter as her own is so frightful.
Her waist is absolutely between her shoulders. After showing her
attitudes she sang, and I accompanied; her voice is good and very strong,
but she is frequently out of tune. Her expressions are strongly marked
and various, and she has no shape, no flexibility and no sweetness. She
acts her songs, which I think the last degree of bad taste...

"To represent passion with the eyes fixed on a book and the person
confined to a spot must always be a poor piece of acting _manqué_.
She continues her demonstrations of friendship and said many fine things
about my accompanying her to sights. Still she does not gain on me. I
think her bold, daring, vain even to folly, and damped with the manner of
her first situation, much more strongly marked than one would suppose
after having represented majesty and lived in good company fifteen years.
Her ruling passion seemed to me vanity, avarice and love for the
pleasures of the table. She showed a great avidity for presents and has
actually obtained some at Dresden by the common artifice of admiring and
longing. Mr. Eliott says 'she will captivate the Prince of Wales, whose
mind is as vulgar as her own, and play a great part in England.'"

After the dress rehearsals and the expectancy of more festivals and more
flattery, it was a severe blow to both Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton to
discover that the Electress would not receive Emma--"On account," noted
Mrs. St. George, "of her former dissolute life."

To avoid a downright refusal to meet the wife of the British Minister,
the Electress resolved to hold no Courts while Emma continued in Dresden.

Lord Nelson, in furious disappointment, cried to the British Minister:
"Sir, if there's any difficulty of that sort, Lady Hamilton will knock
the Elector down, and damme, I'll knock him down too."

On October 9th there was a great breakfast at the Eliotts' given to the
Nelson party. Lady Hamilton repeated her attitudes with great effect.

Mrs. St. George wrote:

"All the company, except their party and myself, went away before dinner,
after which Lady Hamilton, who declared she was passionately fond of
champagne, took such a portion of it as astonished me. Lord Nelson was
not behindhand, called more vociferously than usual for songs in his own
praise, and after many bumpers proposed the Queen of Naples, adding, 'She
is my queen, she is queen to the backbone.' Poor Mr. Eliott, who was
anxious the party should not expose themselves more than they had done
already and wished to get over the last day as well as he had done the
rest, endeavoured to stop the effusion of champagne, effected it with
some difficulty, but not till the lord and lady, or, as he calls them,
Antony, and Moll Cleopatra, were pretty far gone. I was so tired I
returned home soon after dinner, but not till Cleopatra had talked to me
a great deal of her doubts whether the Queen would receive her, adding,
'I care little about it. I had much sooner she would settle half Sir
William's pension on me.' After I went Mr. Eliott told me she acted
_Mina_ intolerably ill and danced to the _Tarantola_. During
her acting Lord Nelson expressed his admiration by the Irish sound of
astonished applause, which no written character could imitate, and by
crying every now and then 'Mrs. Siddons be ----!' Lady Hamilton expressed
great anxiety to go to Court, and Mrs. Eliott assured her it would not
amuse her, but the Elector never gave dinners or supper. 'What,' cried
she, 'no guzzling!' Sir William also this evening performed feats of
activity, hopping round the room on his backbone with arms, legs, stars
and ribbons all flying about in the air."

Mrs. St. George added on October 10th:

"Mr. Eliott saw them on board to-day. He heard by chance from a King's
messenger that a frigate waited for them at Hamburg, ventured to announce
it formally. He says: 'The moment they were on board there was an end of
the fine arts, of the attitudes, of the acting, of the dancing and the
singing. Lady Hamilton's maid began to scold in French about some
provisions which had been forgot in language quite impossible to repeat,
using certain French words which were never spoken but by men of the
lowest class and roaring them out from one boat to another. Lady Hamilton
began bawling for an Irish stew and her mother set about washing the
potatoes, which she did as cleverly as possible. They were exactly like
Hogarth's _Actresses dressing in a barn_.

"This evening I went to congratulate the Eliott's on their deliverance
and found them very sensible of it. Mr. Eliott would not allow his wife
to speak above her breath and said every now and then, 'Now don't let us
laugh to-night; let us all speak in our turn; and be very, very quiet.'"

* * * * *

While the hero and heroine, who in their own opinion had "done good to
millions," were returning home, two young Neapolitans, ruined and in
exile, who by some chance had escaped the massacres and the judicial
murders in Naples, were writing in Milan their accounts of the late
Revolution. One was Vincenzo Cuoco, who was completing in the Northern
city the manuscript he had begun in prison. In eager words that flowed
one after another from his pen, he gave the Republican side of the
glories that Nelson and Emma were still celebrating. He sketched the
Neapolitan Revolution as it had been seen by a young man of intelligence,
culture and high ideals. "I intend to write the history of a Revolution
that should have formed the happiness of a nation, but that instead
reduced it to ruin."

Cuoco in his first paragraphs surveyed the state of Europe. There
was a tremendous desire everywhere for liberty, liberalism,
humanitarianism--"the English would have broken into a revolution if they
had not disdained to imitate the French." Cuoco described the Queen of
Naples as the linchpin of European coalition against France, and indicted
her court as "irresolute, vile, perfidious," the King as "a feeble enemy
and a faithless friend." Sir John Acton he dismissed as a miserable
adventurer, "the minister who came from a State that had no marine, to
create one through Naples."

Skilfully and clearly the young exile sketched the state of the kingdom
under the foreign domination of the Queen and Sir John Acton, the horrors
of the prisons, the deplorable state of every department of the
government, the great folly of the advance on Rome, the worthlessness and
the obstinacy of General Mack.

When he described the flight of the King, he wrote: "With the Royal
Family went the most precious furniture from Caserta and Naples, the
greatest rarities from the museums of Portici and Capo di Monte,
20,000,000 ducats, perhaps more, in cash, and precious metal not yet
counted, the spoils of a nation that remained in poverty."

The people watched the Court go "without displeasure and without joy."
After describing the arrival of Championnet and the setting up of the
Republic, the pleasure given to the populace by observing their religious
festival ("what was religion to the mob but holidays?") Cuoco went on to
describe the arrival of Francesco Caracciolo from Sicily.

"This raised our hopes. Caracciolo was worth a fleet. How daring and
courageous was his combat with the English, undertaken with a few poor

Cuoco described the arrival of the army of the _Santa Fede_. He had
himself witnessed atrocities that he felt incapable of putting on paper.
"Altamura was a heap of ashes and bloody corpses." In Naples hell
opened--all that was good, great, industrious was destroyed, "and those
few illustrious men, who escaped as by a miracle from the wreck, wandered
without family, without country, homeless on the face of the earth;
80,000,000 ducats were lost in industry, the same amount in furniture, in
private fortunes confiscated, and in confiscated goods. The product of
four centuries was destroyed in a moment. Works of art stolen in the
anarchy were sold cheaply to the English. The Court hoped to find
security in the poverty and ignorance of the country."

This is what Vincenzo Cuoco in his garret in Milan wrote of the beautiful
Emma and her heroic lover: "In the affair of the castles the Queen sent
Lady Hamilton to Naples with messages to Nelson. To please the Queen the
Hamiltons lent themselves to dishonour, so did Nelson. His honour, and
that of his arms, that of his nation--this is what the world did not
expect and what the English nation should not have suffered." Cuoco
added: "I have read a letter from one of Nelson's secretaries: 'We commit
horrid villainies to put again on his throne the most stupid of Kings.'
Oh, the English know how to pity their victims!" With inexpressible
anguish and bitter wrath the young Neapolitan wrote down his
recollections of those summer days in Naples, when Emma had "fag'd" on
board the _Foudroyant_ and Lord Nelson had been secretly arming the
assassins, those _lazzaroni_ who had British weapons with which to
do their bloody work.

Vincenzo Speciale was sent from Sicily, and he began with "a butchery of
human flesh in Procida." When the Giunta was in Naples, Speciale tricked,
under profession of friendship, Nicola Fiani into a confession and then
sent him to death. "All sense of humanity seemed to be gone from those
who judged the Republicans." Conforti, under promise of life, wrote a
treatise on _The Pretensions of the Sicilian Bourbons to the Roman
State_ and was then executed. The wife of Baffi, the famous Greek
scholar, was treated with revolting cruelty.

None of the Republicans showed signs of cowardice. When Gabriele Manthoné
was dragged before Speciale, the soldier said: "I capitulated," and
refused to speak other words. When Cirillo was brought before the Giunta,
the judge demanded: "What were you before the Republic?"

"A professor of medicine."

"And what are you before me?"

"Before _you_? A hero!"

Cuoco commemorated in his anguished lines the great courage of
Carlomagno, Granalé and Nicola Palomba.

"I shall send you to death," said Speciale to Palomba. "I shall die,"
replied the prisoner, "but _you_ shall not _send_ me to
death"--and he threw himself from the window of the judge's room.

Grimaldi escaped from his Russian guard after a month in irons and ran
for a mile; when he was overtaken, he disarmed two soldiers before he was
captured half-dead.

Cuoco gave a special note to Francesco Caracciolo:

"He was, without contradiction, among the first men of genius in Europe.
The nation esteemed him, the King loved him; but what could the King do?
He was envied by Acton, hated by the Queen, therefore always persecuted.
Acton did not spare him any species of mortification. Caracciolo was
among those few to whose genius can be added the purest virtue. Who loved
his country better? Who did more for her? He created the Neapolitan
Marine in a short time. He died a victim to the jealousy of Thurn and the
cowardice of Nelson. When his sentence of death was announced to him, he
was on the bridge discussing the construction of an English ship, and
tranquilly continued his observations. A sailor who had been ordered to
prepare him for execution was overcome by grief; he wept at the fate of
the man under whose orders he had served for so long. 'Cease,' said
Caracciolo. 'But it is pleasing that if I must die you should weep for
me.' Caracciolo's body was seen suspended like a criminal's from the
masts of the _Minerva_; his body was thrown into the sea.

"The King was on board Nelson's vessel; after two days the body of
Caracciolo appeared beside the vessel under the eyes of Ferdinand. It was
recovered by the sailors who greatly loved him and he was buried in the
church at Santa Lucia, near to his house. In despite of those in power he
was laid to rest amid the tears of all the poor of that quarter."

Vincenzo Cuoco was misinformed as to the date of the King's arrival on
the flagship and the appearance of Caracciolo's body.

The last pages of his little book Cuoco devoted to eulogies of his
murdered friends--Domenico Cirillo, and Conforti, who had always
supported the Court against the pretensions of Rome and who had saved the
King 50,000,000 ducats by his reforms, Mario Pagano, Ettore Carafa,
Russo, Eleanora Pimentel, Scotti and Federici.

The young exile concluded with this stern indictment: "The King, misled
by false counsel, brought about the ruin of the nation. The Republicans
had pure intentions, warm love of country, and courage. What will be the
future of Naples, of Italy, of Europe? I know not. A profound darkness
surrounds all the future."

At the same time Francesco Lomonaco was writing a report to Lazare
Carnot, who had just taken Berthier's place as French Minister of War,
heading his report "From the Neapolitan Patriots to Citizen Carnot,
Minister of War, on the Secret Causes of Principal Events of the
Neapolitan Catastrophe, on the Characters, Conduct, of the King, the
Queen of Sicily, and the famous Acton."

The young Neapolitan began by a quotation from Tacitus. "A picture of
horrid events sufficient to make humanity tremble will surely interest
everyone possessed of sensibility."

"Citizen, I do not write for idle curiosity, but to place in true
perspective the arbitrary and ferocious character of the King, the ruin
of the most beautiful spot in the world, horrors such as mankind have not
seen before. Many times the pen has fallen from my hand, my reason has
nearly overturned, my paper been wet with bitter tears at the
recollection of those tragic events. What I have to relate will recall
the conduct of the imbecile Claudius, the dissolute Messalina and the
vile Sejanus--the martyrdom of a nation."

The author then added that he wrote to satisfy the curiosity of Citizen
Carnot as to what happened after the French left Naples; he proceeded to
attack Méjean, who had tried to cover up his own bad conduct by calumny.
"I will now relate the truth of the fate of those heroes who threw
themselves into the fire of the Revolution. A holocaust of inhabitants of
the coast and the islands was made by the ferocious English, armed in all
their fury. Tortures were inflicted on the patriots; what horror, what
barbarity! The streets of the city of Naples were strewn with corpses.
After the departure of the French sounded the hour of the destruction of
the Republic." Lomonaco then came to a passionate denunciation of the
violation of the capitulation, telling Carnot "of the Sicilian despots,
the cruel Nelson," referring to "a St. Bartholomew, but one more horrible
than that which took place in Paris. Switzerland, Holland, England
herself, and all the civilized nations were shocked; did not the English
Whigs, Fox and Sheridan, raise their voices in protest? I cannot describe
the atrocities that took place, the memory of them moves me too deeply.
The patriots may be compared to the Gracchi."

Lomonaco then proceeded to celebrate the self-sacrifice and illustrious
heroism of his friends, the men already mentioned by Cuoco, to make a
list of the names of 135 victims, most of whom were beheaded, some few
condemned to perpetual imprisonment in the fosse or living graves of the

"Heads of citizens were stuck up all over the country; the Queen was the
most perverse and dishonoured of the daughters of Maria Theresa,
dissolute in every way, maddened by boundless ambition, blind
incredulity, bigotry, vulgar in her sentiments, intriguing, voluble, only
firm in cruelty. Acton was gifted with all the talents of intrigue, never
had a fine idea in his head or a generous sentiment in his heart;
corrupt, perfidious, flattering, the British Minister was a ridiculous
old ape. While still at peace with France the Neapolitan Court supplied
arms and provisions to Nelson. Ferdinand was a puppet in the hands of
England, a prisoner on board Nelson's ship. As well expect loyalty from
wolves as from these metallic souls. The crimes of the English are worthy
of Attila, what of the theft of the Dutch Fleet, the murder of Wolfe Tone
and the other brave Irish? The English behaved in the matter of the
Castles with barbarous bad taste. Nelson was bought by Sicilian gold and
the pompous title of Duca di Bronte. Cruel tyrant!--as the intrepid Fox
said in the English Parliament--Nelson behaved with black treachery,
dazzled by the flatteries and gems of the despots, of which last he made
an insolent display. Infamy covers his abominable memory! How excellent
in contrast to him was the brave Caracciolo, the _Duilius_ of the
Republic, slain by the jealousy of the barbarous Nelson! Would not this
be a suitable inscription for Caracciolo's tomb: Here lies one who always
watched over the glory of his nation."

The two little works, written in the agony of defeat, in a frenzy of
indignation for murdered friends, penned in poverty and exile, published
by charity, never came to the eyes of Emma or of her hero and would have
been dismissed by them as libellous nonsense had they chanced to see

But their story is not complete, unless it relates how the famous pair
appeared in the eyes of survivors of those slaughterings in which they
had assisted with such a firm conviction that they were "doing good to

* * * * *

While the half-starved exiles in Milan were penning their accounts of
that Neapolitan summer, Lord Nelson was buying a black lace shawl in
Hamburg for Fanny, and Emma, helped by Miss Cornelia Knight and Mrs.
Cadogan, was looking over her gowns to see which would be most suitable
to wear at the many public receptions that a grateful nation was sure to
give the Patroness of the Navy. She did not despair of going to St.
James's; her glory would surely blaze away the virtue of prudish old
Queen Charlotte, as the sun burns up straw.

At Hamburg all was very pleasant again. They met the exiled Dumouriez,
General of the Gironde, the victor of Valmy, and the poet Klopstock, who
first celebrated and then abused the French Revolution in a series of
terrific odes; this author introduced the party to a Lutheran pastor, and
the Christian hero signed his name on the flyleaf of his Parish Bible; it
was to be treasured as that of "the Saviour of the Christian world."

By November 6th the trio were at Yarmouth, depressed and vexed by a
stormy passage and by the reports that a humiliating peace was in sight.

The journey had cost them over £1,000; Lord Nelson had paid the expenses
of everyone with a lavish hand, but he only cared for money to spend it,
never to hoard it, and Emma had been for long the mistress of his purse.

There was a hearty British welcome awaiting them. Their carriage was
drawn by some of the mob to the inn where they were staying, where the
Mayor and Corporation, important with the splendours of the occasion,
were waiting to offer Lord Nelson, the Freedom of Yarmouth. When he
appeared on the balcony of the inn's best room to bow to his admirers
below, Emma was blooming by his side. Her dress was appropriate, white
muslin with flounces embroidered with gold anchors, and medallions
bearing the emblems of Nelson and Bronte.

After that they all went to the parish church for a thanksgiving service.
"See the Conquering Hero Comes" was played. Emma was in her element and
highly delighted as Lord Nelson escorted her among the Protestant pews.
There was some compensation after all for the regretted joys of Naples,
and she believed that she was going to have a very pleasant time in
England as the Patroness of the Navy, as the Britannia in classic robes
whose spirit had hovered over the Battle of the Nile. In the evening
there were patriotic songs, bawled out in front of the inn, bonfires,
congratulatory messages; but Lord Nelson found time to sit down and write
to Fanny:

"We are at this moment arrived. We shall set off to-morrow noon and be
with you Saturday for dinner. Sir William and Lady Hamilton beg their
best regards and accept your offer of a bed."

The next day they set out on the last stage of the journey, after
distributing largesse and taking a cordial farewell of the town of
Yarmouth. At Ipswich there was another triumph, and all along the
highroad the cottagers turned out to curtsy and cheer in the November
mists. The journey came to an end at Nerot's Hotel in St. James's Street.
This was the appointed rendezvous where, after three years, Fanny and the
old father must be met and the old life somehow taken up or somehow

London looked very dull and shrunken, very drab and shabby, after Naples
and Vienna, even after Prague and Dresden. It took all the shouting of
the dirty crowds who ran behind the carriages, all the cheering of the
people who opened the tall windows and leaned out, waving handkerchiefs,
to gild the commonplace scene for Emma and Lord Nelson.

This long-dreaded meeting with Fanny took place against a dull
background--the prim, public parlour of the hotel with its conventional
furnishings and chill autumn light. Fanny herself was very quiet, perhaps
also a little drab, as befitted a respectable woman of forty-two years of
age. Her clothes were fashionable, but they were not such as Emma wore; a
lace cap fastened under the chin, a fichu folded neatly over her
shoulders; Lady Nelson had a certain elegance, but no ostentation; she
was attired in good taste; but that was a quality her husband did not
admire; her face was unsmiling, a little downcast. She knew herself to be
in an impossible position.

What all Europe knew could scarcely be concealed from Lady Nelson; she
had had plenty of time in which to turn over her son Josiah's indignant
tales of those Neapolitan days. She knew that she had lost her husband.
The question was, could she win him back? Was there a possibility of a
renewal of their old life? She had nothing on her side except the power
of convention; there was nothing on which she could rely save the
technical fact--she was his wife.

Her husband entered, accompanied by the Hamiltons. There was Edmund
Nelson, who was now old, a little frigid, a little embarrassed, hardened
into his narrow virtue, an odd father for a hero. The mutual effusiveness
saved the delicacy of the situation; Lord Nelson thrust into his wife's
hands the lace trimmings he had bought at Hamburg; Emma was easy,
self-assured; she felt as she had felt now for many years--that she held
all the winning cards.

She filled the genteel parlour, as she had filled the Palermo palace of
dusty golden stone; Fanny Nelson was a farthing rush-light beside her
blaze of self-confident charms; Edmund Nelson withered in the brazen
light of this trophy that his too-celebrated son had brought home; Sir
William minced and chattered and flattered before the wife and father of
his wife's lover, who had for some time been paying his bills.

* * * * *

It was soon clear, even to Emma's optimism, that the attitude of everyone
who mattered was as hostile as that of the mob, which could do nothing
but provide a gratifying background of huzzaing and flag-waving, was

Lord Nelson had done much to please the Government of William Pitt; he
had provided just that lustre which the Minister required to gloss over a
long, costly, badly managed war, which had proved disastrously expensive
to the country in motley, materials, and men. Without such naval
victories as the Battle of the Nile, without such heroes as Horatio
Nelson, the Government would have had nothing to offer to a war-weary,
discontented, and, to some extent, revolutionary-minded people. There had
been, certainly, blacks spots in this blaze of glory; there had been
Captain Foley's story, Sir William Parker's story, Captain Edward Foote's
story--but all these might have been ignored; indeed, it had always been
the Ministry's wish that such tales should be ignored and that the people
should be allowed to have their hero without a blemish.

But what could not be swallowed was, first, the relationship of Lord
Nelson with Emma, and secondly, the atrocities at Naples out of which the
Whigs had made so much party capital.

A large section of English society believed that, by the violation of the
capitulation of the castles, the honour of Britain had been smirched;
that Sir William had behaved, not only in a cruel and foolish, but in an
illegal fashion; the hanging of Prince Francesco Caracciolo was termed
bluntly by many "a murder." Though even these things might have been
denied and excused by the Tories, yet Emma could be neither denied nor

There had been one chance for Lord Nelson of obtaining social forgiveness
for the long dalliance in Naples and Sicily, for his disobedience to
orders while in the Mediterranean, for his flagrant infatuation for
another man's wife. If he had returned at once to Fanny and kept the
Hamiltons at a distance, he might have been received and applauded, even
by the Court. But he had done nothing of this; his relations with Emma
continued, and almost openly; he made no effort to disguise his
infatuation. It could be in the mind of every reasoning person, only a
question how long Fanny would endure the intolerable position.

If Emma had been a gentlewoman, if she had even learned some of the arts
of a great lady, she might have contrived to keep her lover and render
herself inoffensive to society. It was not a prudish nor a squeamish
period, and it might have been supposed that, where a husband was
pleased, everyone else might have been charitable. But there was too much
against Emma; her past was too well known in London (where it could be
said without much chance of contradiction that she had been, and indeed
still was, a kept woman who had passed successively to five protectors),
and her manners and her appearance, which had not, strangely enough, been
improved by fifteen years at Court and the warm friendship of a
Queen--testified to facts, which even her friends could scarcely deny,
and to which her enemies could easily add a host of fiction, slanders,
and libels.

Sir William was so obviously senile, so completely hoodwinked, or so
successfully pretending to be, that it was not difficult to suppose that
Emma's behaviour had been indiscreet while she was at the Court of
Naples. There were cynics who refused to believe that the robust and
blooming beauty had waited till Lord Nelson sailed into Naples Bay on
board the _Vanguard_, before she had taken a lover to console
herself for an old, doddering husband. Then, also, Lord Nelson himself
was of very modest birth; he had no friends or relations to speak for
him, no high-placed acquaintances to give him countenance. The only great
personage whom he had ever known--His Royal Highness, Prince
William--seemed to have forgotten the Boreas days, and held aloof; and no
one else came forward.

Miss Cornelia Knight, prudent and well-bred, looked round, sensed the
atmosphere, and took her departure from the Hamiltons' _ménage_,
with a shocked haste.

"Most of my friends," she sniffed, "were very urgent with me to drop the
acquaintance. Things became very unpleasant."

Even Captain Troubridge, who had flattered Emma at Naples and willingly
been Lord Nelson's lieutenant in the severities of 1799, stayed away and
warned his friends to do so also.

Lord St. Vincent, who had, perhaps in irony, given Emma her famous title
of "Patroness of the Navy," but who afterwards described her and her
lover as "a pair of sentimental old fools," considered the whole
situation impossible. As he put it, not without kindliness: "Lord Nelson
is evidently doubtful of the propriety of his conduct. I have no doubt he
is pledged to get his Lady Hamilton received at St. James's and
everywhere, and that he will get into much _brouillerie_ about it."

The opinion of the more tolerant was summed up by Lord Holland, who
thought that Nelson's conduct in Naples showed a violation of good taste
and judgment, and that it was "owing to the ascendency that an artful and
worthless woman had obtained over a mind ignorant of the world."

Even while Fanny stayed with her husband, the fashionable world ignored
the Hamiltons, who had taken a fine house in Grosvenor Square, where Lord
Nelson was daily entertained. Fanny tried to push her complaisance too
far; she undertook more than she could carry through; she accompanied her
husband and the Hamiltons to a box at the theatre. The sight of the
obvious relationship between Emma and her hero was too much for the
neglected wife and she fainted and had to be taken home. For once Emma
had to stand aside while another woman struck an attitude; she had to
experience also the new sensation of watching her hero receive glory that
she was not invited to share.

The victor of the Nile was again triumphantly received at the Guildhall;
there were gaudy arches, shouting crowds of Londoners, and a sword from
the City, this time gold-hilted and studded with diamonds. There was the
installation of Lord Nelson in the House of Lords with traditional
ceremony, but the three moved in a void as far as London society was
concerned; all doors that were worth knocking at were closed to them;
Emma's hopes of being received by the Queen, if indeed she had ever
seriously cherished them, vanished when she learned from her indignant
lover at the dinner-table in Grosvenor Square of the reception he had met
with in St. James's. Charlotte had cut him dead with a coolness only
possible to the completely virtuous when confronted with vice. The King
had given him only a few curt words, turned his back on him, and then
spoken for half an hour to a General of little importance. It was,
indeed, an ironical situation.

Horatio Nelson had showered on him those honours and glories which it had
been his wildest dream to obtain and which he had always considered it
would make him supremely happy to receive; all his life he had yearned
and worked for exactly those rewards which he now enjoyed, yet they were
rendered unpalatable, almost repulsive, by social ostracism; he began in
his sick disillusion to loathe London and long for Naples. He wrote to
Emma during a brief stay at Greenwich, where he attended the funeral of a
friend: "Although I have had my days of glory, yet I find this world so
full of jealousies and envy that I feel doubtful of even a little future
comfort." Depressed and exasperated by what he termed "the cold looks and
cruel words of my enemies," with a sigh of homesickness for Sicily, he
said: "I would sooner stay abroad for ever."

* * * * *

Towards the end of the year one invitation was extended to the trio whom
London ignored; William Beckford invited them down to Fonthill. In a
letter to Emma, couched in the fulsome tones which brought back a glimmer
of the pleasures of Naples, he wrote: "I exist in the hopes of seeing
Fonthill honoured by his victorious presence, and if his engagements
permit him to accompany you here we shall enjoy a few comfortable days of
repose, uncontaminated by the sight and prattle of drawing-room

Lady Nelson was not included in the invitation. William Beckford was
probably the only man who, in inviting Lord Nelson to stay with him,
would have asked Lady Hamilton also and ignored the wife. Fanny remained
alone that Christmas in the Arlington Street lodgings to which they had
moved from Nerot's Hotel, a sad commentary on the grotesque situation.

Leaving behind them an ungrateful London, and trying to forget the
slights and injuries they had received, the Hamiltons and Nelson started
again on one of their odd journeys. It was a triumphal progress, as
usual. An escort of mounted yeomanry, "freedoms of the city" here and
there. In the words of a contemporary "the illustrious naval hero was
everywhere received with an ovation worthy of him, the anxiety of the
townspeople trying to get a glimpse of him beggaring description."

The climax of all this enthusiasm was a reception at Fonthill. As soon as
they reached the park gates William Beckford's own special corps of
volunteers was ready to receive them, and a burst of music, swelling to
the familiar strain of "Rule Britannia," floated through the wintery
trees. At the door of the comparatively modest mansion which William
Beckford had had built, close to the famous abbey he was erecting, the
author of _Vathek_ stood ready to bow before his guests, and, as
they ascended the steps, the strains of music changed from "Rule
Britannia" to "God Save the King."

The house was crowded with flatterers, dependants, and such people as
curiosity had induced to countenance the entertainment offered by the
host, under a social ban, to the three people whom London would not
receive. The crowd of guests, swarming out of every corridor and chamber
on to every gallery and window-place, greeted the Hamiltons and the hero
with loud acclamations. It was almost Naples and Palermo all over again.
Emma was triumphantly herself.

A spread table, such as is usually described as "a magnificent
collation," awaited them; there was more music, more cheers and plenty of
that "guzzling" which Emma had missed so terribly at the Court of

This was only the beginning of the excitement. Great preparations had
been made for a festival on the morrow, an out-of-door affair though the
season was scarcely appropriate. In order to have the famous abbey as
complete as possible for the great occasion, William Beckford had had
gangs of men--seven hundred it was said--working by torchlight for weeks,
and the next day the admiring guests were taken out to see what was known
as "the wonder of the West," a huge Gothic abbey which, when it was
viewed through the bare trees of the park, was visible in all its
grandeur, the gargoyles, pediments, and pinnacles imparting to it the
more salient features of an enormous monastery; the hall was spacious and
lofty, the tower, which was in the centre of the building, was visible at
a distance of four miles. Three wings stretched from it, eastward,
northward and southward, each totally unlike the others, yet each
constituting in itself "an elegant and commodious residence."

While the grand climax of the visit was being prepared behind a high
screen of timber that hid everything from the guests, festivities
entirely to the taste of Emma were taking place in Fonthill mansion. She
gave her famous attitudes, to the applause of all--one especially was
admired as being so perfectly just and natural as to draw tears from
several of the company. This pose represented "Agrippina exposing the
ashes of Germanicus in a golden urn to the view of the Roman people."

As the afternoon passed on, printed programmes were distributed to the
guests, and there was much mystery and expectancy in the air. When the
short day came to an end, carriages escorted by the Fonthill volunteers
in their smart uniform came to the door, and the guests took their places
and were driven down the road towards one of the great avenues leading to
the abbey. The language of a contemporary is needed to describe the scene
that followed:

"At a particular turn every carriage stopped and one long, loud, ringing
shout of amazement and delight burst from every throat. The enormous body
of visitors found themselves in an instant transported as by magic to a
fairy scene. Through the far-stretching woods of pine glittered myriad on
myriad of variegated lamps forming vast vistas of light and defining the
distant perspective as clearly as in sunshine. Flambeaux in profusion
were carried about by bearers stationed wherever they were most needed.
The Wiltshire volunteers, handsomely accoutred, were drawn up on either
side. Bands of music, studiously kept out of sight, were placed at
intervals along the route, playing inspiring marches, the whole effect
being heightened by the deep roll of numerous drums, so placed in the
hollows of the hills as to ensure their reverberation's being heard on
every side. The profound darkness of the night, the many tinted
lamps--some in motion, others stationary, here reflected on the bayonets
and helmets of the soldiery, there seen through coloured glass, and so
arranged as to shed rainbow hues on every surrounding object--the music,
now with a dying fall, now waking the dormant echoes into life with
marshalled clangour, riveted to the spot the lover of striking contrasts.

"Gradually the procession drew near to the Abbey itself, the tracery of
its splendid architecture relieved by strong shadows, the inequalities of
the building marked out by myriads of lights, and revealing, to the
wondering eyes of the spectators, battlements and turrets and flying
buttresses. No grander feature was there in the whole edifice than the
tower shooting up three hundred feet, the upper part lost in total
eclipse. Reared above the main entrance fluttered the national banner,
and by its side the Admiral's flag, catching light enough as they flapped
in the night breezes to display their massive folds to advantage.

"All present stood entranced. The moment the Abbey was fully disclosed,
everyone, animated by a common impulse, sprang from his carriage and
walked towards it; when the 'conquering hero' attended by his host
entered the walls, the organ thundered forth a resounding peal of
welcome, which shook the edifice to its foundations; while notes of
triumph resounded from galleries and corridors around.

"From the Abbey they adjourned to the Grand Hall, which had been arranged
for the banquet. An entire service of silver and agate of medieval
pattern was laden with the fare of other days. On the board, and against
the walls of the room stood wax-candles six feet high in silver sconces,
while huge blazing logs of cedar, dried and prepared for the occasion,
and continuously renewed, contributed to the material comfort.

"The banquet ended and the guests, well-nigh surfeited with the fanciful
and gorgeous display they had witnessed, were desired to pass up the
grand staircase. On each side of it stood, at intervals, men dressed as
monks, carrying waxen flambeaux in their hands. The company were first
ushered into a suite of sumptuous apartments hung with gold-coloured
satin damask, in which were ebony cabinets of inestimable value, inlaid
with precious stones and filled with treasures collected from many
lands--then through a gallery two hundred and eighty-five feet long into
the library which was filled with choice books and rare manuscripts, and
fitted up with consummate taste, the hangings of crimson velvet
embroidered with arabesques of gold, the carpets of the same colour--the
windows of old stained-glass bordered with the most graceful designs.

"At last the guest% reached the oratory, where a lamp of gold was burning
by itself, shedding just light enough to display to advantage in a niche,
studded with mosaics and jewels of great price, a statue of St. Anthony
by Rossi. Here again the illusion of the monastery was well maintained.
Large candelabra, in stands of ebony inlaid with gold and multiplied by
huge pier-glasses, formed an exquisite perspective and enhanced the
surpassing brilliancy of the scene.

"When the entire company was collected in this marvellous gallery, a
stream of solemn music came floating through the air, none knowing from
whence it issued. Beckford had always thought the effect of music heard
under such circumstances irresistible. After gazing their full on the
multitude of delights that met them at every turn, the guests were
requested to retire in the direction opposite to that from which they had
come. But, before they were allowed to depart, spiced wine, sherbet,
lemonade and ice-water in flagons of ruby-coloured glass, and carafes of
rose-water and little cases of attar-of-roses freshly imported from
Shiraz and choicest fruit in baskets of gold filigree were handed round.

"It was long after midnight before the visitors could tear themselves
away. But their host would not permit them to linger in case they should
retire with their impressions impaired by familiarity. So that, before
the lamps began to wane, several bands, accompanied by the mighty organ,
struck up their most exhilarating airs, and as these yet hung upon the
ear of the departing guests, the night breeze wafting their melodies
through the air till distance drowned it, they left the Abbey grounds
scarce able to believe that they had not been enjoying an Arabian night's
entertainment instead of an English one."

* * * * *

There was, however, a keen business proposition behind this fairy-tale
splendour. William Beckford had an ambition odd in one so eccentric, so
gifted and so fastidious--he wanted a dukedom.

He considered that he had lived down what some people unkindly called his
"former infamy," and he had thought out an extraordinarily complicated
scheme by which he hoped to attain the desired honour. Sir William
Hamilton was sadly in lack of money and Emma also would like a peerage
and a pension. Could not every scrap of possible influence and the great
hero of the Nile's prestige be used to obtain this end? William Beckford
thought so, and he had already, through his agent, made a suggestion to
Sir William Hamilton a few weeks previously--that, if in recognition of
his services to Great Britain in Naples he could obtain a dukedom, he,
Beckford, would give, first, Sir William, then, his widow, a handsome
present on condition that he was made the heir to the honours which Sir
William would have no son to inherit, and which would, through Beckford's
relation to the Hamiltons, remain in the family.

Emma was much excited and elated by the offer, and both her husband and
Lord Nelson approved of it. The eager lady, with her usual energy, had
gone so far as to ask for and obtain an interview with Henry Dundas, who,
Mr. Beckford declared, "was the best of the tribe"--that is, the
Ministry. The object of this interview, and one which Emma had not
hesitated to put before the Minister, was that her husband's and her own
services in the Mediterranean were worthy of a peerage.

Mr. Beckford had another scheme connected with this, whereby he hoped to
obtain the Duke of Hamilton's consent to the transfer to Sir William of
his dukedom, then likely to become extinct, in which case Emma would be a
Duchess, receive a pension for life, and the millionaire-owner of
Fonthill eventually become a Duke. All this complicated and quite
unfeasible and impracticable arrangement was discussed between the four
in the intervals of the Fonthill festivals.

Despite all the splendour Emma was distressed to see that her lover was
very ill at ease; he seemed in a state of continual nerves. Once, driving
in the grounds, he insisted on being set down and walking home.

The party returned to London on December 27th; Lord St. Vincent, who met
them on the road, remarked on the hero's lowness of spirit. "He appeared
and acted as if he had done me an injury and felt apprehensive that I was
acquainted with it. Poor man, he is devoured with vanity, weakness, and
folly. He was strung with ribbons, medals, etc. yet pretended that he
wished to avoid the honours and ceremonies he everywhere met with upon
the road."

Soon after he had left Fonthill Lord Nelson learnt that he had been
appointed Vice-Admiral of the Blue. His ship was the _San Josef_,
the flagship of the Spanish Admiral at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent.

The Hamiltons returned to Grosvenor Square still in an agitation over the
peerage, and the hero to Fanny in the Arlington Street lodgings. The
meekest of women would not have been in the best of humours after such
open neglect, and, well-bred as Lady Nelson was, the inevitable moment
came when her temper and her patience snapped. After a fortnight of this
impossible life a reference to "dear Lady Hamilton" made the slighted
wife retort with justified indignation: "I am sick of hearing of dear
Lady Hamilton. You must give her up or me." Her husband retorted, as he
was bound to retort, with an unforgivable sentence: "Take care, Fanny,
what you say. I love you sincerely, but I cannot forget my obligations to
Lady Hamilton nor speak of her otherwise than with affection and

"Then my mind is made up."

Fanny left the room and the house.

This action on his wife's part would, Lord Nelson knew, involve him in
endless social difficulties and make his position with the Hamiltons
almost impossible; but he could not bring himself to conciliate the
unwanted woman; he even felt a relief of his nervous tension in seeing
her go; an obsession such as his admitted of no restraint, no obstacle.

The situation was saved for a short while by his having to leave to join
his ship at Plymouth. On the road he wrote Fanny a civil note, in which
he sent "kindest regards" to his father. Before he had reached Plymouth,
however, his agitation and anxieties had brought on a severe attack of
illness. Covered with sweat and yet half-insensible from cold, he sat in
his halted carriage panting for air with the windows down.

When he reached Plymouth, he was in no state to see anyone, avoided
company and remained shut up in his room, bathing his eye in cold water
and enduring as best he could the pain that racked his mutilated body.
Emma wrote to him a budget of trivial news; the dog "Nile" he had given
her had been lost, she had caught a cold looking for it, Fanny had gone
to Brighton. The infatuated man wrote back coarsely: "Let her go to
Brighton or where she pleases. I care not. She is a great fool and thank
God you are not the least like her."

* * * * *

Emma had her own trouble, and a considerable one. It was the same as that
which had caused her lover's agitation, illness and collapse of spirit;
but she remained cheerful and arranged the new house, 23, Piccadilly,
which she and Sir William had rented, with her usual gusto. One of the
many stories that were going round the gossips about the hero and the
siren concerned this house; one of the men engaged by the landlord of the
place was going over it with an upholsterer and a servant, when he
observed "an emaciated, weather-beaten person, rather shabbily dressed,
follow us from room to room with seeming anxiety. At length he said,
'Pray, gentlemen, what is it you are about?' I answered, 'We are taking a
list of fixtures in the house to annex by way of schedule to the lease.'
'Oh, oh!' he replied, 'if that be the case I think you should include me
in the list.'

And fixture in the house of the Hamiltons Lord Nelson had continued to be
until he was forced to go to Plymouth.

Soon after, however, they had taken possession of their new abode, Emma
was seized with a sudden indisposition which caused her to be confined to
her room for several days.

Sir William was assured by Mrs. Cadogan that it was nothing serious, and
the old man himself spoke of his wife's illness as "a foul stomach," and
commented complacently on the bile she had thrown up in her frequent
attacks of vomiting. Indeed, he believed, or pretended to believe, that
Emma was suffering from the surfeit of good cheer--"that fare of olden
days"--she had consumed during the Foothill revelling. But she, Mrs.
Cadogan, a few other confidants, and Lord Nelson, who wrote every day
from the _San Josef_, off Plymouth, knew better; the climax of most
secret anxiety and anguish was approaching.

On January 29th Emma gave birth to a daughter, which she contrived to
keep for a week in the house under Sir William's nose and then to take
away in a coach to a woman who had already been prepared to receive it, a
Mrs. Skipton at 9, Little Tichfield Street, Marylebone, quite close to
the handsome church where Emma had married Sir William nearly twenty
years before. This business over, Emma, recovering in health and spirit
and greatly improved in figure, mingled once more in the noisy society
which she encouraged in the Piccadilly house.

She had arranged with her lover before he had gone to Plymouth a crude
little fiction. They invented a Mr. and Mrs. Thompson--Mrs. Thompson was
supposed to be in touch with Emma, who was to report all news of her to
Lord Nelson, who, in his turn, would relate everything to Mr. Thompson,
who was supposed to be continually with him. By this very transparent
subterfuge Emma told her lover of the birth of the child, and received
every day notes of hysteric joy and enthusiasm on these lines:

"I believe poor, dear Mrs. Thompson's friend will go mad with joy. He
cries, prays, and performs all tricks, yet dare not show all or any of
his feelings, but he has only one to consult with. He swears he will
drink your health this day in a bumper, and damn me if I don't join him
in spite of all the doctors in Europe."

In the transport of his infatuation, which had thus come to a climax in
the birth of his first child, or, at least, of the child that he
implicitly believed to be his, the hero of the Nile wrote in strains from
which good taste and good feeling as well as common sense were entirely
absent; the ferocity he had shown at Naples appeared in the fierce words
of a letter written to "Mrs. Thompson": "Your good and dear friend does
not think it proper at present to write with his own hand, but he hopes
the time may not be far distant when he may be for ever united to his
only love. He swears before Heaven he will marry you as soon as possible,
which he fervently prays may be soon."

Such a prayer has an ugly sound coming from one who prided himself on his
orthodox Christianity. Two lives stood between him and any possible union
with Emma Hamilton.

Emma and Mrs. Cadogan manoeuvred through all this excitement and hysteria
with their usual robust good-humour. They were adepts at anything in the
nature of intrigue. Emma was glad to have the child, because it was a
strong hold upon her lover; it was the last handful of incense on the
altar of his vanity, one that this time did not enhance his glory as a
hero, but deliciously gratified his pride as a man. She had held him
securely enough before; now he was certainly for ever hers, and she was
happy in her dream of being a Duchess--twice over a Duchess, for there
was the Sicilian Dukedom.

Sir William was very old and daily failing; Fanny had always been
delicate and was reported as "being tortured with rheumatism"--she was
also unhappy, perhaps heartbroken. Emma had good prospects.

The invincible Nelson was at sea again--probably there would be more
victories, more honours, more stars and ribbons, more prize money, more
pensions from a grateful country. Emma would never have any need to
economize; she began to throw the money about with both hands.

* * * * *

But though his wife might dream of a golden future, Sir William began to
feel the economic pinch; despite all the assistance he had received from
his wife's lover, he had returned from Italy loaded with debts, which
began to accumulate unpleasantly. To satisfy insistent tradesmen Emma was
obliged to sell and pawn some of the diamonds she had received from her
husband and from the Queen of Naples. She had totally forgotten all those
nice economies and delicate adjustments of household expenses which
Greville had so carefully taught her. She had forgotten, too, how to live
within her allowance. Her account at Coutts's fell to a few shillings and
she owed on her personal account £700. Sir William gave his wife £150 on
account and began to look round for something to do to better his
fortunes. He had no more Etruscan vases or treasures to sell; his
household effects were not worth so very much and were rapidly being sold
or pledged for current expenses.

Emma's extravagance seemed to have suddenly run beyond all bounds. She
still tried to live as if she had the treasury of Naples to dip into. The
large ornate house was always full of people, the kind of people who will
go anywhere for drinks and food and noisy talk; covers were laid every
night for twelve or fourteen persons; there were continual concerts at
which Emma performed or entertainments at which she gave her attitudes;
there were carriages, horses, and liveried servants to keep up. Sir
William was tired of the din, of the riots, and the increasing vulgarity
of Emma. He protested, he made scenes, he was peevish, but his wife took
little heed. To her he was only a piece of furniture and one that was
rapidly becoming worn out.

Mr. Hugh Eliott, the Minister at Dresden, had expressed the opinion that
the Prince of Wales might be interested in Emma. He was a man who admired
buxom charm, and now at this unpleasant juncture of Sir William's
fortunes, the suggestion arose (nobody knew quite where) that the Prince
should be entertained in Piccadilly and view the famous attitudes of
which he had doubtless heard so much. The cynics, of course, suggested
that Sir William, under a social cloud, hampered by debt, uncertain of
the continuation of his pension, slighted owing to the scandal of
Caracciolo's hanging and the Naples murders, was anxious to secure the
highest influence in the land, that of His Royal Highness, the Prince of
Wales. And how could he secure it?--except by interesting His Highness in
the fair and marvellous Emma. There was nothing very extraordinary in the
idea. Sir William had taken the fair tea-maker of Edgeware Row in return
for the payment of his nephew's debts, and possibly the highest personage
in England might take her, albeit she was slightly blowsed and tarnished,
in exchange for money and possibly a peerage.

The unhappy Admiral of the Blue, a prisoner on the _San Josef_, at
least took this view of the situation, and, when he heard of the proposed
visit of the Prince of Wales to the Piccadilly mansion, his letters
became incoherent with jealousy and alarm. Fearful lest the Prince might
do exactly as he had done himself, seduce his host's wife, or allow her
to seduce him, he wrote of his future sovereign: "He is dotingly fond of
such women as yourself and without one spark of honour."

There was not the least sign that His Royal Highness, with his own
favourites and always surrounded by easy dames, was in the least
interested in Emma, who was so long past her first beauty and so
notoriously the property of another man; but Nelson continued to torment
himself: "He will make every means to get into your house. I know his aim
is to have you for a mistress. The thought so agitates me that I cannot
write. I am in tears--I cannot bear it."

These continual anguished reproaches were too much for Emma's equanimity.
She retorted by simulating a little jealousy herself. Why had he said
that the West Country women wore black stockings? How did he know? He
defended himself passionately: "Suppose I did say the West Country women
wore black stockings. What is it more than if you were to say--what
puppies all the present young men are?"

Sir William insisted that there was an absolute necessity of asking the
Prince of Wales to dinner, and he wrote to Nelson that "Emma has
acquiesced in my opinion."

At this bitter news the wretched lover wrote a letter, crazy in its
uncontrolled jealousy and couched in terms more proper to a fond husband
writing to a virtuous wife than from a man like Horatio Nelson to a woman
like Emma Hamilton. "Your character will be gone. Good God, he will be
next to you and telling you fond things. Oh God, that I was dead. I
tremble and God knows how I write. I am gone almost mad. It will be in
all the newspapers with pictures. I am mad, almost blind. He will put his
foot near you; he wishes, I dare say, to have you alone. God strike him
blind if he looks at you. This is high treason and you may get me hanged
by revealing it. Oh God, that I were. Will you sing to the fellow, and
the Prince will be unable to conceal his passion. Does Sir William want
you to be a wanton to the rascal? Will you sit alone with the villain for
a moment? No, I will not believe it! Oh God, Oh God, I lose my senses.
This is what no real, modest person would suffer, and Sir William ought
to know that his views are dishonourable."

All this dramatic excitement was baseless; the Prince did not come to
dinner at 23, Piccadilly. The excuse was that Emma was unwell and His
Royal Highness does not seem to have pressed the point. But the emotional
letters continued; Horatio Nelson, who read nothing and went nowhere
where he could have met intellectual or literary people, was full of the
cant of his age, and expressed himself in terms that would have done
justice to a hero of one of those circulating-library romances descended
from Richardson, Diderot, Rousseau, Sterne or Mackenzie.

When Captain Troubridge preceded him to London on leave, he wrote: "It
rushed into my mind that in ten hours he would see you. A flood of tears
followed. It was too much for me to hear." Sometimes the more natural
tone of the quarter-deck would prevail. Of one lady whom he was pressed
to visit he said: "I am told she likes a drop and looks like a
cook-maid"--expressions that some had been unkind enough to apply to the
divine Emma herself. He was particular not to arouse his mistress's
jealousy by even looking at another woman. His infatuation had reached,
with the birth of a child, a pitch that was painful to himself and all
others; his letters were passionate, sensual, outspoken.

At the end of February he had three days' leave; Emma received him with
cheerful self-confidence and took him round to Little Tichfield Street
and showed him the baby, whom he played with in what could only be
described as "a transport of delight."

Lady Nelson writing from Brighton made her timid offers to come to town,
but was repulsed. Emma, with her usual atrocious taste, made fun of "Tom
Titt" as she called the abandoned wife: "Tom Titt does not come to town.
She offered, but was refused. She only wanted to do mischief to all the
great Jove relations. They are a vile set, Tom Titt and cub, hated by

By the 27th the lover was back again in his dull ship and Emma was
absorbed in her gay life. The letter he wrote immediately showed a tinge
of disappointment. Was Emma getting too absorbed in extravagance and
dissipation, putting their great love second to her own amusement? It
seemed rather like it. Instead of spending the evenings alone with him,
she had gone out to routs and parties, including one with a lady who was
very coarsely described. It was true, of course, that Emma was enjoying
herself hugely and thinking more of Emma Hamilton than of Horatio Nelson.
Adoration of such a type to such a woman was bound to be a little tedious
and boring, but she kept her hold on the hero, sending down to the
_Saint George_ (to which he had been transferred) love-letters by
the hand of a servant. These provoked an outburst of enthusiastic
affection: "My own dear wife, for such you are in the eyes and estate of
Heaven, there is nothing in this world I would not do for us to live
together and to have our own dear little child with us. I firmly believe
that after this campaign I will give up the sea, then we shall set off
for Bronte. Unless all matters accord, it would bring hundreds of tongues
and the slander of the Court if I separated from her, which I would do
with pleasure the moment we can be united. I want to see her no more.
Therefore we must manage till we can quit this country or your uncle
dies. I love you, I never did love anyone else. I never had a dear pledge
of love until you gave me one, and you, thank God, never gave one to
anyone else. My beloved Emma and my country are the two dearest objects
of my fond heart, a heart sensible and true."

For the harmless, helpless Fanny there were cruel, harsh lines. "I
neither want nor wish for anyone to care what becomes of me, whether I
return or am left in the, I have done all in my power for
you, if dead, you will find I have done the same. Therefore, my only wish
is to be left to myself. Wishing you every happiness."

Emma took no notice of any of these agonies of love, but behaved exactly
as she wished to, enjoying herself up to the hilt. She still was ignorant
enough of the ways of the world, or at least of the London world, to
suppose that the Beckford scheme might be carried through, that she might
find herself in this manner possessed of a pension of £2,000 a year for
life and the title of Duchess.

Sir William also had sufficiently lost touch with reality in his own
country to put some faith in this impossible intrigue; but he continued
to pester the Government with demands for compensation for the losses and
expenses he had sustained during the Neapolitan trouble.

Emma, who had left the walls of the Palazzo Sessa bare, talked about
£9,000 worth of clothes and jewels which had been left behind before the
royal flight; and Sir William had got an extraordinary dossier of
imaginary expenses. A Mr. Peebles, to whom had been promised one of Mr.
Beckford's pocket Boroughs, interfered in the affair and tried to push it
forward while Nelson used all his influence with Mr. Addington for the
same end; Sir William Hamilton canvassed all his kinsmen and clan, and
every possible string was pulled, but in vain. Beckford, Sir William,
Emma, Nelson, all were in bad odour at Court; there were no pickings for
any of them from the well-gnawed bone of Court favour.

Sir William began to be seriously troubled by the state of his affairs
and by the reckless extravagance of his wife, but she was faultless in
the eyes of the man who wrote from sea in an ecstasy about the little
Horatia: "I never saw a finer child produced by any two persons. It was,
in truth, a love-begotten child. I am determined to keep him (the
mythical Mr. Thompson) on board, for I know if they got together they
would soon have another, and after our two months' trip I hope they will
never be separated. Then let them do as they please."

But he could not resist complaining of the Piccadilly extravagance,
reports of which came to him as he fretted and idled on his flagship, but
he wholly blamed the old man--who was not responsible--and totally
exonerated the wife, the real offender.

"What," he wrote, "can Sir William mean by wanting you to launch out into
expense and extravagance? That he, that used to think a little
candlelight and ice-water would ruin him, should want to set off at
£10,000 a year, for a less sum would not afford concerts and the style of
living equal to it!"

Nor did Lord Nelson like the idea that the Hamiltons should retire to a
house to be lent them by Sir William's kinsman, the Duke of Queensberry:
"If you were to take the Duke's house, a house open to everybody he
pleases, you had better have a move at once. You never could rest. Why
did not the Duke assist Sir William when he wanted assistance, why not
have saved you from the distress which Sir William must have every day
been in, knowing that his excellent wife sold her jewels to get him a

Here Nelson probably echoed Lady Hamilton's own account of the affair.
She certainly had sold and pledged some of her jewels to keep
tradespeople quiet, but in return Sir William had made over to her all
his property, including plate, furniture, ornaments, pictures, and
paintings. Soon afterwards some of these paintings, part of his valuable
collection, had to be sold. Among them were some portraits of Emma

"I wonder Sir William could do it," wrote Nelson. "Sooner than sell a
picture of you, I would have starved."

Other pictures of Emma were standing face to the wall in the odd gallery
which George Romney had built at Pineapple Place, Hampstead. The painter
himself, completely insane, was dying in the care of his patient wife in
his native northern air; it was as well, perhaps, that he should not have
painted another portrait of Emma.

The scandal swelled, besmirching all with whom it came in contact except
Emma herself, who remained unperturbed and cheerful, well-fed and
flourishing. She had the countenance of the Rev. William Nelson, his wife
and children, who were quite clever enough and quite tolerant enough to
take a very liberal view of the connection which might benefit the entire
family so considerably; the sisters, too, were friendly with Emma, the
old father alone held aloof and refused to have anything to do with the
enchantress; he remained faithful to his daughter-in-law and his son, and
to the conventions that he had always so sternly taught.

* * * * *

Early in the first year of the new century, 1801 Lord Nelson was ordered
to sea. The neutrals of Northern Europe had leagued together in what they
termed "Armed Neutrality"--a piece of impertinence which brought down on
their heads the wrath of Great Britain. From Denmark in particular--this
country having refused to allow her ships to be searched for war
materials--an explanation was demanded. The Danish Cabinet was believed
to be under the influence of the First Consul.

A squadron set sail in March from Yarmouth Roads; the command of this
Baltic expedition was given to Vice-Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, greatly to
the fury of Lord Nelson, but after his conduct at Naples and Palermo the
Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty did not see fit to trust him with
the Chief Command. He was, however, inevitably the leading spirit of the
expedition, burning with energy and that spark of fascinating heroism
which gave him such a hold over his fellow-officers and the men who
served under him.

Emma, in the midst of her Piccadilly splendour, soon had good news: "My
dearest friend, that same Deity who has on many occasions protected
Nelson, has once more crowned his endeavours with complete success.
_Saint George, April 2nd, 1801, nine o'clock at night. Very tired after
a hard-fought battle._"

This was "the great and glorious" victory of the Battle of Copenhagen,
which taught the Danes a lesson--that it was dangerous to challenge the
majesty of Great Britain--at the cost of 943 officers and men killed and
wounded and very heavy damage to the British battleships; the British had
gained a few batttered Danish ships, only one of which was worth
retaining as a prize.

The Danes, who had fought with conspicuous heroism and devotion, lost
1,600 killed and wounded. To Nelson and not to Sir Hyde Parker was
undoubtedly due the victory, but the hero had gained his glory in his
usual manner, by flagrant disobedience to orders. It had been, from first
to last, a superb piece of work, but one not likely to commend him to the
Lords of the Admiralty. And Sir Hyde Parker had the wording of the
dispatches which contained the reports of the battle.

* * * * *

The Battle of Copenhagen had been carried out in dashing style, with
several of those heroic, dramatic touches that so endeared Lord Nelson to
his fellow-countrymen; the conflict had begun soon after ten in the
morning; the Danish Fleet was close under the batteries of their own
coast, and stretched for nearly four miles under Elsinore and Cronenberg
Castles, which crowned the rocky shores of the strait. Lord Nelson,
though worn out in mind and body by the incessant labour of watching his
ships through the Channel--unknown and therefore dangerous to the British
sailors--had offered his services for the attack.

After three hours of a fierce engagement, Sir Hyde Parker, who had been
unable to get to the assistance of Lord Nelson by reason of a contrary
wind and tide, signalled to his second-incommand to retreat.

Lord Nelson who had just remarked "that it was warm work but that he
would not be elsewhere for thousands," ignored the signal to "cease
action" and ordered his own signal for "close action" to remain flying.

"I have only one eye," he remarked. "I have a right to be blind

He put the spyglass to his sightless eye and exclaimed: "I really do not
see the signal! Keep mine nailed to the mast!"

By early afternoon the Danes were too distressed to continue firing, and
Lord Nelson, who did not entertain for them the hatred he felt for the
French, but rather regarded them as "brothers," sent an officer ashore
with a flag of truce and an offer of an armistice, his object being as he
declared, "humanity."

The slaughter had been, on both sides, horrible; some of the British
losses were due to the pride of one of the officers in command of some of
the troops on board one of the warships; these men were useless and might
have been sent out of danger, but were instead drawn up on deck to be
shot down by the enemies' guns.

Lord Nelson went on shore and continued his negotiations in person with
the Crown Prince; these were conducted in a lofty, chivalrous strain,
oddly different from that used during the Naples business; but there was
some high-feeling between Lord Nelson and the Danish Commander-in-Chief,
and afterwards between Lord Nelson and Sir Hyde Parker. "I may be
hanged," the disobedient second-in-command had said; he had himself
hanged men for a less offence against discipline.

But Lord Nelson had again been successful; if the country had gained
little but glory at this battle and paid for that dearly, glory was very
necessary at this juncture of affairs, and the defeat was supposed to
have acted as a useful warning to Denmark not to league with the enemies
of Great Britain.

Sir Hyde Parker was recalled and Lord Nelson appointed
Commander-in-Chief; there followed a brush with Russia, whose intentions
were dubious, and this gave Lord Nelson an opportunity of making a
statement which sounded ironic enough to those who remembered
Naples--"the word of a British Admiral...was as sacred as that of any
sovereign in Europe"; perhaps Ferdinand IV was not a European sovereign.

The death of the Czar Paul ended all fear of a Northern Coalition against
Great Britain.

Emma celebrated the victory at Copenhagen by dancing a tarantella so
vigorously that she exhausted several partners, including Sir William, a
Neapolitan duke, and a black servant.

* * * * *

A severe illness followed the nervous tension of the Baltic expedition.
Again Lord Nelson believed himself dying, but he had his dreams; he and
Emma would escape to Sicily; they would live under the chestnut-trees at
Bronte, they would enjoy again the golden friendship of a king and queen,
all the glories of the old Neapolitan, Sicilian days would revive. Once
more there would be fireworks breaking against the cones of Etna,
decorated boats floating in the purple waters of the bay; he and Emma
walking amid the orange groves, beneath the cypress trees, beneath the
Sicilian moon; a dream, but one that kept the battered man alive,
tormented by fear of total blindness.

On the way home his illness increased; he was constantly seasick: "I cast
up what everyone thought was my lungs," he wrote.

On July 1st, 1801, he landed at Yarmouth. His brother Maurice had died
during his absence, and to his blind wife Lord Nelson was, as always
where money was concerned, most generous. He sent £100 at once to his
sister-in-law and offered to look after her lavishly during the future,
but to his own wife he could not be generous. She wrote a frank letter
giving him news of his father: "I will do everything in my power to
alleviate his infirmities. What more can I do to convince you that I am
truly your affectionate wife?" But he would have none of Fanny. It was
London for him and the Piccadilly house.

Emma, with her usual resource, arranged a holiday. They must all away to
Box Hill with the Rev. William and his family as chaperons. Then there
was a rural episode at the Bush Inn at Staines, where Sir William spent
his days angling in the Thames, and Emma made everything delightful for
Lord Nelson amid the rural pleasures; the idyll was broken up by the
scare of an invasion. The First Consul was concentrating at Boulogne what
he termed "the army tor the conquest of England."

The lovers had again to part; Lord Nelson was given the command of a
patrol of light vessels that was to cruise about in the Channel watching
out for signs of the enemy. This was dull work, and he tried to enliven
it by an attack on Boulogne, which was, however, unsuccessful. He was
constantly seasick, and only his daily letters to Emma and her answers
provided any spark of interest in the dreary days.

But Emma, as usual, had found something interesting to do. She was
looking for a house. When Nelson had a few days on shore at Deal in
September, she came with Sir William and the lap-dogs and the liveried
servants in the heraldic carriage to meet him at the inn, "The Three

There they drank champagne, the best champagne, and discussed the future,
all in high spirits. Emma had found a house at Merton. Emma thought it
cheap, but the deposit demanded was £6,000, and Lord Nelson was in nearly
as bad a financial condition as Sir William Hamilton; Copenhagen had
brought in a mere Viscountcy and there were many claims on the other
rewards which had seemed so handsome. But Emma was to do as she pleased.

Nelson was forced to put to sea again, bowed and shaken by that
separation from Emma; but she, on her part, had a congenial occupation,
the purchase and furnishing of Merton.

This was a modish, dignified mansion of the correct suburban style,
palladian, with a flat, white front, trim lawns round about and a sweep
of gravel with neat posts and chains; bargain as Emma thought it, to
complete the purchase it took all the money that Lord Nelson possessed;
he considered it well spent. He would not have her stint in anything; she
spent £1,000 on furniture, encouraged by letters such as these: "I come
on board, but no Emma; no, no, my heart will break. I am in silent
distraction. The foul pictures of Lady E. H. are hung up, but alas I have
lost the original! We part, only to meet very soon again. It must be. It
shall be. My dearest wife, how can I bear our separation? Love my Horatia
and prepare for me the farm, Amen, Amen."

He was the more disconsolate and wretched, because it seemed to him in
his seasickness and loneliness, as his little fleet patrolled the coast
through the autumn mists that filled the Channel, that he had been
forgotten once more, slighted, and overlooked, that Copenhagen had not
been adequately rewarded. His sole interest besides Emma was the
furnishing of Merton; she had everything that was his, the keys of his
plate chest, his tea-urns, breakfast-sets; there was nothing for Fanny
beyond a wife's pension.

Old Sir William endured as best he could this lavish spending of another
man's money on the house he was to inhabit; he got away as often as
possible from the bustle of the women and sat fishing in the Wandle,
which meandered near the grounds of Merton, while Emma and Mrs. Cadogan
with a host of servants and dependants rushed here and there fixing up
hangings and trophies, arranging furniture, pictures, and statuary with
great gusto and delight. Merton was to house all the trophies collected
by Nelson's heroism and Emma's beauty; it was to be a temple consecrated
to their combined achievements.

* * * * *

The Peace of Amiens released Nelson from his dreary patrolling of the
coast. He hastened back to Merton, ignoring the huzzas and triumphal
arches on the way in his eager desire to be beside his Emma again. In his
mind hung brightly the golden dream of Naples. He and Emma would some
day, perhaps soon, escape to Bronte, where, in an enchantment, Duke and
Duchess, friends of the King and Queen, with little Horatia growing up
beside them, they would revive all those joys which a few years before
the little sailor had found so intoxicating. It was a desperate and
pathetic project, "a search for lost time."

For a while there was perfect felicity at Merton; the sick man was
supremely happy again with Emma, admiring Emma and Emma's cleverness at
arranging everything, recovering in the breezy incense of Emma's
flattery, enjoying the solid comforts that Mrs. Cadogan provided--all
these things for a while were enough. But the world would break in--he
had to take a seat in the House of Peers; he made a little speech that
had no great effect, the visit to London forced him to notice that
everyone still held aloof from him and Emma, everyone, that is, save
those who had nothing to lose and something to gain by hanging round
Merton; it is odd that he should have considered anything else possible;
his passion had put everything out of focus for him.

But there was something worse than the mere cold shouldering of society.
A personal affront was in preparation. Lord Nelson soon learnt that the
Battle of Copenhagen was to be ignored. The City of London voted its
thanks to the Army and Navy then in Egypt, but did not mention the Danish
defeat. Nelson wrote to the Lord Mayor protesting, and sent a copy of his
letter to St. Vincent, who was dry and unsympathetic. Nor was the victory
mentioned in the King's speech and there was to be no medal.

Nelson, encouraged by the outraged Emma and the peevish whimperings of
Sir William who feared for his pension, and despaired of his dukedom,
raged. He even interviewed the Prime Minister, but all was in vain. The
hero came face to face with what were evasively termed, "private
reasons." The reasons were not so very private; nothing could have been
more flaunting than Emma, and Lady Nelson was there for all to see. Over
one of his brief, harsh letters: "I have done my duty as an honest,
generous man, living, I have done all in my power for you, if dead, you
will find I have done the same." She had written--"This is my Lord
Nelson's letter of dismissal." Yet she brought herself to write to him
again; a plea for reconciliation arrived at Merton.

It was, despite everything, magnanimously worded: "Do my dear husband,
let us live together. I have now to offer you a warm, comfortable house.
Let everything be buried in oblivion, it will pass away like a dream."
The letter was endorsed--"Opened by mistake by Lord Nelson, but not

In giving his wife a handsome allowance, Lord Nelson thought that he had
done everything. Out of his income, which was no more than £3,000 a year,
she had £1,800; lavish as he was in financial dealings, he grudged
Fanny's pension, because he could easily have spent it on Emma. When
Merton was completely paid for and furnished, there was more selling of
diamond boxes to meet current expenses, and this time they were some of
the prize trophies which had celebrated the victory of the Nile.

Yet Emma held a miniature court at Merton. Sometimes she had the
Piccadilly house open as well. Her housekeeping was often as much as £100
a week, and her table was seldom laid for less than twelve people. Sir
William became more and more peevish and difficult. There were frequent
quarrels, as the old dilettante, who could never quite forget that he had
been born and bred a gentleman, ventured to protest against the
senseless, extravagant vulgarities that both Emma and her lover enjoyed
so much. Things became so bad that the harassed old man, tasting at last
the lees of his wretched bargain with his nephew, wrote a paper not
without pathos, either in its refusal to see the truth or in its resolve
to be conveniently hoodwinked.

"I have passed the last 40 years of my life in the hurry and bustle that
must necessarily be attendant on a Publick character. I am arrived at the
age when some repose is really necessary, and I promised myself a quiet
home, altho' I was sensible, and said so when I married, that I shou'd be
superannuated, when my wife would be in her full beauty and vigour of
youth. That time is arrived, and we must make the best of it for the
comfort of both parties. Unfortunately, our tastes as to the manner of
living are very different. I by no means wish to live in solitary
retreat; but to have seldom less than 12 and 14 at Table, and those
varying continually, is coming back to what was become so irksome to me
in Italy, during the latter years of my residence in that country. I have
no connections out of my own family. I have no complaint to make, but I
feel that the whole attention of my wife is given to Lord Nelson and his
interest at Merton. I well know the purity of Lord Nelson's friendship
for Emma and me. And I know how very uncomfortable it wou'd make his
Lordship, our best Friend, if a separation shou'd take place, and am
therefore determined to do all in my power to prevent such an extremity,
which wou'd be essentially detrimental to all parties, but wou'd be more
sensibly felt by our dear Friend than by us. Provided that our expenses
and housekeeping do not increase beyond measure (of which, I must own, I
see some danger), I am willing to go on upon our present footing; but, as
I cannot expect to live many years, every moment to me is precious, and I
hope I may be allow'd sometimes to be my own master, and pass my time
according to my own inclination, either by going (with) my
fishing-parties on the Thames, or by going to London to attend the
Museum, Royal Society, the Tuesday Club, and Auctions of pictures. I mean
to have a light chariot or post-chaise by the month that I may make use
of in London, and run backwards and forwards to Merton or to Shepperton,
&c. This is my plan, and we might go on very well, but I am fully
determined not to have more of the silly altercations, that happen too
often between us, and embitter the present moments exceedingly. If really
we cannot live comfortably together, a _wise_ and _well concerted
separation_ is preferable, but I think, considering the probability of
my not troubling any party long in this world, the best for all wou'd be
to bear those ills we have rather than fly to those we know not of.--I
have fairly stated what I have on my mind, there is no time for nonsense
or trifling. I know and admire your talents, and many excellent
qualities, but I am not blind to your defects, and I confess having many
myself. Therefore let us bear and forbear.

"For God's Sake."

But Emma knew how to gloss even this over and things went on as before;
the wife not only lived openly with her lover, treating her old husband
as part of the background, but she introduced little Horatia into the
household under some tale that it was a little protégée of hers, the
child of a friend; under the same excuse she had got Sir William Hamilton
to pay the expenses of little Emma for so many years; now no one knew
what had become of Emma the second; she had disappeared like other
inconveniences of the past. Lord Nelson did not know of her existence and
Sir William never troubled about her any more than he troubled about
little Horatia; it was part of his code to accept the inevitable, the
disagreeable with an air of breeding. Besides, he was too old and tired
to concern much about anything; for Emma he had sacrificed not only his
honour and his domestic happiness, his official position and his dignity,
but even, what perhaps he valued most of all, his taste.

The man who had taken such keen pleasure in arranging the spacious rooms
of the Palazzo Sessa with Tuscan vases and antique busts, with the relics
of Pompeii and Herculaneum, whose collection of treasures had been world
famous and whose taste and judgment had never been disputed, was now
forced to live in what was half an old curiosity shop and half a

Emma had collected together all the portraits, some masterpieces, some
poor daubs, painted of herself that she could lay her hands on. Under
dozens of names and in dozens of attitudes she smiled or frowned, laughed
or languished, from the walls, which were also crowded with prints of all
the exploits of Lord Nelson that the busy woman could get together; every
victory was represented dozens of times over in the crude drawings of
hack draughtsmen. There were also genuine trophies--the flagstaff of the
_L'Orient_, pieces of French ships fished out of the water after
engagements, figureheads and coats of arms from Bonaparte's frigates,
busts of Lord Nelson, on which Emma kept laurel leaves freshly plucked
from the shrubberies, cameos of Emma, gifts from the Royal Sovereigns of
Naples--a proper museum of dead glories.

The few decent people who joined the racket that filled Merton found this
display ridiculous and disgusting; but no one could stop it. Once Sir
William had given up his attempt as he expressed himself, "to bring his
wife up roundly," no one else could interfere. Emma, triumphant over the
deserted wife, carried the war into the enemy's camp. As is usual with
her type, she wanted to have not only the rewards of vice, but the halo
of virtue--so a hack writer was employed to compose stories to defame
Lady Nelson and to create the impression that her bad-temper,
selfishness, and coldness had caused her husband to leave her.

Among Emma's eager, even obsequious, admirers, was Nelson's brother, the
Rev. William, his wife and daughter, who were frequent visitors to
Merton, where their respectable presences helped to testify to that
"purity" of Emma's attachment to Lord Nelson in which Sir William so
firmly believed.

* * * * *

In the year 1802 Edmund Nelson died, unreconciled with his famous
son--death put an end, too, to George Romney's insanity. Two links with
the past were snapped for Nelson and Emma--no more letters from the old
vicar, no more portraits from Romney's brush.

Lord Nelson became restless and melancholy, his blindness seemed
increasing, his old internal trouble returned; he was always sick, in
pain, nervous. The resourceful Emma was, as usual, ready with a
distraction. Why should they not all go to the estate in Wales where
Charles Greville in his late, sober middle age was busy improving the
land he hoped soon to inherit? Those famous estates with which Miss
Barlow had dowered Sir William long ago.

That summer they all set off, highly gratified by a fine reception at
Oxford, where Lord Nelson received an honorary degree and the city's
Freedom in a gold box. This satisfaction, however, was set off by a
severer mortification. Most ill-advisedly, they called at the grandiose
pile of Blenheim, the monument of a nation's extravagant gratitude to
another hero, who had not hesitated to present a heavy bill for services

They were not received, but a cold luncheon was at their service; Emma,
dismayed and furious, a goddess of wrath on the vast stone steps of the
monstrous palace, shouted: "Had I been a Queen, you should have had a
Principality after the Battle of Aboukir, so that Blenheim should only
have been as a kitchen-garden to it!"

They left the luncheon untouched, and Nelson, sick with mortification,
vowed that he had not yet "finished gathering his laurels."

The episode was not without its ironic touch. The hero who had founded
the Churchill fortune, was scarcely more scrupulously moral than Lord
Nelson, though he had chanced to be in love with his wife. Perhaps some
of Horatio Nelson's honest, puritanical yeoman ancestors would have
refused to receive Colonel John Churchill, when he travelled in the train
of the King's mistress, Lady Castlemaine, as her avowed lover.

There were continuous, if petty triumphs, brass bands and official
welcomes from small towns and cheering rustics until they reached Wales.
There, on Sir William's estate at Milford, all the tenantry came out;
there were the usual manifestations of joy at the appearance of the hero
and the beauty, and the old pantaloon who ran behind them carrying the
lap-dog and shawls.

Emma hoped that Lady Nelson and the fashionable world would hear of these
receptions, and that it would "burst some of them."

She again met, after all these years, Charles Greville; he acted as their
guide over the estate of which he was steward. He had not married his
heiress after all, but he was on the verge of securing the fortune for
which he had sold Emma. He had done quite well for himself in a small,
comfortable way and the selfish, withered, fastidious man could view with
irony and relief the blowsy, vulgar woman who had once been his
wood-nymph and his Ariadne; he had, after all, secured the best of the

* * * * *

Next spring Sir William died, his wife holding one hand, her lover the
other; he had been so long old and useless and tiresome that his going
made little difference to anyone. His will left Emma comfortably off and
expressed a belief in the purity of her affection for Nelson and in
Nelson's honour that was either the last ironic gesture of a broken man
of the world or a profession of senility. Emma had all her late husband's
goods and chattels as left in the house in Piccadilly, she had a revenue
of £800 a year on the Welsh estate, a legacy of a like amount, while good
Mrs. Cadogan was provided for by £100 a year and a legacy of another
£100. Nelson immediately added to this £1,200 a year, so that Lady
Hamilton enjoyed an income of £2,000 a year, the contents of the
Piccadilly house, and the free use of Merton, with the servants,
carriages and horses and other luxuries that Nelson had paid for.

Now was the opportunity for Circe to whisk her Ulysses off to the
enchanted isle. Bronte had not brought in the promised revenues, but it
was always there--a dukedom and a palace beneath the blazing blue of the
Sicilian sky. Yet they hesitated, each perhaps conscious in a different
fashion that it was too late to search for the "Fortunate Isles."

They had ceased to care how they affronted London opinion. They could
not, after all, be more ostracized, more cut off from decent society than
they were. And to retire to Sicily meant that Emma would give up the life
she enjoyed very much, and Nelson all hope of the further glories after
which he hungered. They put off the exile for which they had so often
sighed; and then, before Sir William had been more than a few weeks dead,
came war again and once more the threat of invasion for England. News of
a huge army concentrating on the French coast came to the ears of the
Cabinet in London. Again, and this time it seemed with more reason than
ever, England feared a landing of French troops under General Bonaparte.

Lord Viscount Nelson was appointed in May 1803 to the _Victory_ as
Vice-Admiral of the White to command in the Mediterranean Sea. His first
duty was to cover Toulon and to prevent the French Fleet from leaving the
harbour there. During this dull, monotonous work, which lasted for
months, he became ill and melancholy again, homesick for Emma, for
Horatia, for Merton, endeavouring to console himself with her pictures
hung in his cabin, and as usual with him when he became dispirited,
thinking that he had not long to live, and seeing all eclipsed by

But Emma was quite happy and busy at Merton. She had everything her own
way now, with no peevish Sir William to fuss over. The future, to her
robust optimism, looked encouraging. The Beckford project had fallen
through, and she had not yet received the pension she considered her
right both as Sir William's widow and in return for the services she had
rendered Britain when in Sicily; but one of the lives that had stood
between her and the hero had gone, and Fanny was supposed now to be
ailing, broken with rheumatism and dispirited. Emma was quite confident
that her lover would return with fresh glories; this time they would not
be able to deny him a Dukedom--and who would share it with him but Emma?

While he was off Capri, writing to her at every chance he got of sending
a letter, pressing a lock of her hair to his lips, she was bearing him
his second child--this time without much trouble at concealment. He sent
Horatia a watch with a priggish, old-fashioned letter such as his own
father might have written, and for Emma there was a curious novelty--a
muff made of the beards of mussels. The big, opulent, easy-going woman
accepted this homage placidly; both her children took smallpox in the
midst of the war fever, and little Emma died and was laid in Paddington
Churchyard close to the house where Emma Hart had carefully noted down
how she had spent her small weekly allowance given her by Mr. Charles

In the fierce excitement of that year of the renewed war and the dread of
invasion no one bothered much about Emma. At times, as the news from
Paris reached London, there was something of a panic, General Bonaparte
gave a tawdry gloss to his project and an increase to his own splendour
by being crowned Emperor of the French in Notre Dame; Spain joined him;
the future looked black for Great Britain, a long struggle seemed in
sight, and everyone was tired of the wars, save those who made money out
of them.

"'Twas in that memorable year
France threatened to put off in
Flat-bottomed boats, intending each
To be a British coffin
To make sad widows of our wives,
And every babe an orphan."

Lord Nelson was doing his utmost for his country, fretting to be at his
old, heroic job of fighting once more, and longing to return with an
armful of trophies for Emma. He did not forget her interests; he had
never ceased to work for rewards, pensions, and honours for Emma. Off
Naples he tried to renew the old relationship with the Queen, but Maria
Carolina was distant. The flighty woman had had all she could hope for
from both Emma and Nelson, arid the man whose head she had once turned
with coarse adulation was obliged to write home bitterly that things were
not as they had been, and that it was only with great reluctance that Her
Majesty had been induced to sign a paper stating that she believed Lady
Hamilton was entitled to some reward from Great Britain for the services
she had performed in Naples. His Franco-phobia had not diminished since
he was last in these waters; upon the British Resident's offering him the
services of a friendly Frenchman, he replied that the members of that
nation were all alike and that he would not have one on board any of his
ships, save as a prisoner; "forgive me," he added: "my mother hated the

* * * * *

In 1805 Spain declared war and in the spring of that year Lord Nelson
performed magnificent service to his country by heading off the Toulon
Fleet under Admiral Villeneuve, which was making for the West Indies in
co-operation with the Spaniards; he intercepted the enemy, forced them to
turn back, and the Indies were saved. But there had been a deep
humiliation; the four treasure-ships that would have proved so rich a
prize to Lord Nelson's "band of Brothers" were denied them, and Sir John
Orde was sent to Cadiz to reap this fine harvest.

Nelson's lamentations were pointed with a heavy sarcasm: "I had
thought--I fancied--but, nay; it must be a dream, an idle dream;--yet, I
confess it, I _did_ fancy that I had done my country service; and
thus they use me!" That year, too, saw the end of the Emperor Napoleon's
project for invasion of Britain. Attacked landwards by Austria and
Russia, he was obliged to withdraw his forces from the French coast; the
tension was relieved in England.

Arthur Wellesley, who had just returned to England, met Lord Nelson for
the first and last time, when he returned home after the check to
Villeneuve, and did not like him; the reserved, aristocratic soldier was
offended by the sailor's fiery boastfulness, which marred the

"If I can call it conversation--for it was almost all on his side."

Even after his last service he was still ignored by society; how could it
be otherwise when all his thoughts were of Emma? With her at Merton he
was desperately happy in the last mellow days of summer. There was
Horatia, there was old Mrs. Cadogan, there were his brother and his
sister-in-law and some old friends to come and go: Emma wondered what he
was going to get for his services in the Indies; were there no more
honours, trophies, ribbons, crosses, rewards?--it seemed not. The King
took no notice of him, the last victory had meant no more than the barren
honours of the Viscountcy, the thanks of Parliament.

The thought of money, of Horatia's future, troubled him, but he tried to
put it all aside, Emma could make him even forget how broken he was in
body and that he was nearly blind, the menace of complete darkness was
always before him; he dreaded the day when he should no longer be able to
see the beauty of Emma--to him still without a blemish--or the infant
charms of little Horatia. These September days in Merton could be, they
knew, only an interlude; Viscount Nelson was in command of the
Mediterranean Fleet, and might at any moment be recalled to his post, he
had been allowed only a little space in which to repose, there was still
Admiral Villeneuve with his Gallo-Spanish Fleet to be chased and beaten.

Horatio Nelson was the only man who, during the long war, so weary, so
costly, so mismanaged, had achieved that spectacular glory which alone
can make war acceptable to a nation, and he had been handsomely rewarded.
Yet, by an odd irony, the titles, swords, medals, the pensions and formal
thanks had been given with an aloof coldness that destroyed half their
value. The people might shout warmly for their hero--symbol of the sea
power of the country--but it was clear that in choosing Emma, Lord Nelson
had chosen social isolation.

Not for a second did he regret his choice, but the price exacted for his
great loss was a bitter one for a man brought up in such firm
respectability, at heart such a snob, so narrowly religious, so avid of
worldly honours, to pay.

Never did he see himself in the wrong, and Emma he always found flawless;
to what then could he impute the fault? He vaguely and bitterly blamed
"the world" that would not see the dazzling merits of his Emma, that
would not recognize the exalted nature of his attachment to her, the
brilliant services she had rendered to her country. Everyone was wrong
and he and she were right; he had, however, to admit defeat, victorious
everywhere else, he could not make English society accept Emma.

This was a horrible blow to a man already sunk by disease, wounds, and
the effect of continuous excitement on a mind always delicately balanced.
Yet he was fiercely happy in a heart-rending fashion; for his happiness
had the desperate zest of a child at a forbidden, entrancing game. His
joy in Emma, in all that Emma did, was, or had, was of that pathetic
quality only possible to simple people, a passion so intense as to burn
up gradually the very springs of his life.

He appreciated, in an agony of delight, the home she had made for him,
the children that she had given him, the flatteries she offered him, the
trophies she had arranged for him; he alone of her lovers did not find
her crude, a little vulgar, in need of training. Emma in satin or
feathers, Emma as a wife, Emma playing the harp, Emma carving his meat,
Emma in any pose, anywhere, was to him perfection.

One side of him, too, glorified in their connection, in the sheer
advertisement-value of it; when he thought of the Wandle, purling so
charmingly past the Merton lawns, and himself and Emma idling there, he
reflected--"Emma rowing her one-armed Admiral! What a subject for the

Society might treat him as it would, he had, besides a genius for
fighting, a genius for publicity.

* * * * *

While the love-sick hero agonized at her side, Emma was calm. Though she
had that deep streak of cruelty, of malice which had shown in Naples and
in her treatment of Fanny Nelson, she was always outwardly easy and good
natured, and even her very vindictiveness was more due to ignorance,
selfishness and greed than to active spite. She hit out at all who
offended her or who got in her way, in everything she was shallow, but
when she was not crossed, and to those who served her, she was very
agreeable. Her lazy voluptuous personality warmed the very air her lover
breathed. She did not love him, she had never loved anyone save only,
perhaps, for a short while, Charles Greville, the middle-aged gentleman
now so decorously aloof from her life, her nephew-in-law, perhaps she was
only at her old game of pleasing the gentlemen which by now she knew so
well, but whatever the game, it satisfied her lover.

And she was satisfied, too; she had always been confident, courageous,
clever at seeing her own advantage, and now, as they were together in
Merton, she had none of his worries, or fears, or nervous dreads.

After all, she was not so deeply stung by the hostility of a society that
had never received her; looking back down the years she might consider it
more remarkable that she had escaped Bridewell than that she was not
admitted to St. James's Palace.

Amy Lyon had done pretty well for herself; her life was as she liked it,
"everything that money can buy," and she had never wanted anything that
money could not buy.

It was, gorgeous as well as a comfortable life at Merton and she knew
plenty of jolly people who were not squeamish at coming to eat and drink
at her lover's expense, to flatter and to admire.

She was not troubled even by the loss of her beauty; she had been as
prodigal of that as Horatio Nelson had been of his money; at forty-two
years of age she was all to pieces, for she had always put her appetites
before her charms, but she did not care if a big, heavy, highly coloured
woman with broad features and coarse complexion had taken the place of
Ariadne and Cassandra, she looked impressive enough by candle-light, with
her magnificent eyes and thick dark hair, and a few glasses of champagne
would bring oblivion of any regret.

Besides, it was difficult to believe that her luck was at an end; Sir
William had gone, and God Almighty might any moment remove "the
impediment," poor Fanny, who did not know how to please the gentlemen,
and then she would be the hero's wife--and, after he had had another of
his victories, they would not be able to refuse him a Dukedom. It was a
good prospect.

And even if the unwanted wife persisted in surviving, and Horatio
succumbed to his complication of diseases--why, there were others, that
amusing old satyr, the Duke of Queensberry, for instance.

Emma's lovers had always so obligingly provided a successor; under Sir
Harry's roof she had met Charles Greville, who in his turn had been at
such pains to arrange things with Sir William, who had been more than
easy with Lord Nelson--so surely, Emma, being still Emma, need not bother
about the future.

So her lazy content soothed his restlessness in those last days of
August; a Saint Martin's summer, the sequel to those blazing Sicilian
days. The quiet English weather had a wistful charm; the mellow sunshine
fell tranquilly on the shaven lawns, the emblematic laurels, the grey
rippled stream, where Sir William used to fish, the garden of late
flowers, where Horatia ran and laughed in her muslin frocks.

There was a sweet flavour of domesticity about this illicit union, Emma,
flamboyant as a siren of a Wapping inn over the card-tables at night,
could be homely and cosy over the tea-cups in the morning with the child
pulling at her skirts, as another child had pulled over twenty years ago,
at the flounces of a girl crying in a Hawarden cottage.

It had to come to an end, these two had often played at melodramatics,
and here real drama touched them; early in September Lord Nelson was
recalled to his command. He could not have disobeyed now, as he had
disobeyed in Sicily, the orders to leave Emma, nor did he wish to; he was
wrought up into a state of exaltation that could find relief only in
heroic action; but the parting was an agony. Social recognition came at
last, from an unexpected quarter; always ready to irritate the Court and
the Government, the Prince of Wales invited Lord Nelson and his lady to
Carlton House, where he amused himself by looking them over, afterwards
allowing without any sign of regret Emma to depart; Mr. Eliott had been
mistaken when he had predicted that Emma would be a great success with
His Royal Highness, and Lord Nelson's desperate jealousy had been

The Prince and the peasant beauty met a few years too late; he was a
little faded, she a little over-ripe.

The couple returned to Merton where there was the final leave-taking;
while the baggage was made ready, the carriage ordered, and the household
in a confusion of preparations for the hero's departure for the war, he
was kneeling by the child's cot, in a transport of sentimentality,
patriotism, and adoration of that strange God whom he had so curiously
identified with himself, the God in whose name he had sanctioned the
Naples massacres, hanged Caracciolo, beaten the French, and saved the
Sicilian Bourbons from the consequences of their own crimes and follies,
the God to whom he had prayed to unite him to Emma by removing Fanny, and
in whose sight he believed Emma was his wife.

To this crude Deity he addressed this strange petition: writing it down
as he drove from Merton: "Friday night at half-past ten drove from dear,
dear Merton, where I left all that I hold dear in this world to go and
serve my King and country. May the great God whom I adore enable me to
fulfil the expectations of my country and if it is his good pleasure that
I should return, my thanks will never cease to be offered up to the
throne of his mercy. If it is his good providence to cut short my days
upon earth, I bow with the greatest submission, relying that he will
protect those so dear to me, that I leave behind. His will be done. Amen,
Amen, Amen."

At Portsmouth, where he had a frantic reception from the people, to whom
he had always been a hero, he did and said some things that seemed to
show a mind half-unbalanced by excitement, grief and self-sacrifice.

He had been to look at Ben Hallowell's coffin made from the wood and iron
of the _L'Orient_, which was stored in a warehouse and remarked that
he thought he might want it on his return; his usual boastings had a
sublime air: "I shall outdo my former achievements, but I shall not
return to enjoy the glories I acquire."








The news struck England with the alarm of an unexpected calamity, with
the joy of an unparalleled glory. It was felt by everyone--felt most
keenly by the simple and the ignorant--that the peculiar island renown
had been incredibly heightened. The enemy, an arrogant, insulting godless
enemy, who had dared to threaten shores free for hundreds of years from
the menace of an invader, had been utterly destroyed, and in that
destruction a hero had been sacrificed. Lord Nelson had been slain at
Trafalgar, thus providing a page of British history that would never need
a commentary. As no sacrifice is complete without the offering of a
living victim, so no victory blazes so brightly as that where the victor
is slain.

The country was shaken by an event that was at once splendid, tragic, and
noble enough to increase the national fame; the islanders' naval genius
had found for ever its supreme expression. The man who had left Merton
under a social cloud became a demigod, one of those half-fabulous
creatures who shake the thunderbolt and stride the cloud.

Everything concerned with him became at once more worthy and larger than
his eccentric life and dignified by his honourable deed. Lord Nelson was
dead and for a while a cold bleak wind seemed to wither Emma waiting at
Merton, which became suddenly the store-house of a dead man's
possessions--from his clothes and slippers in the pleasant bedroom to the
mast of the ship that had taken Napoleon to Egypt, the coloured prints of
former victories, and the laurelled busts that stood in the hall crowded
with trophies. Here was a chance to strike an attitude more effective
even than that of Agrippina displaying the ashes of Germanicus to Rome,
which had so delighted William Beckford and his guests. But there was no
longer anyone to applaud; the big, robust woman sat down, without
dramatics, to read with anxiety, with grief, and with an odd tingling of
an emotion new to her--regret, the newspapers that related the glorious
fight in Trafalgar Bay.

* * * * *

On October 6th, Lord Nelson had written: "I verily believe that the
country will soon be put to some expense on my account; either a monument
or a new pension and honours"; on the 9th of that month he sent his old
friend, the honoured and valiant Cuthbert Collingwood, a plan of battle
that he termed "the Nelson touch"; he had already used this expression in
a letter to Emma, and told her how when he explained "the Nelson touch,"
it was like an electric shock. Some shed tears, all approved.

This plan, however, was not original; it had already appeared in a book
of naval tactics written by John Clerk twenty years before, and when Lord
Nelson came up with the enemy he did not use the tactics that had so
moved his officers.

The Gallo-Spanish Fleet was sighted on October 21st; the wind was blowing
up for a storm and the sky becoming overcast; Admiral Villeneuve, who had
been present at the Battle of the Nile, was not a very spirited or
energetic commander, and the men under him were depressed by
international rivalries, by the memories of past defeats, by long,
tedious inactivity during blockades in forts; they were out of condition
mentally and physically, and, moreover, hampered by all those formal
rules of naval warfare that the genius of Lord Nelson had long since
dispensed with; worst of all, the French officers were at feud among
themselves; Dumanoir and Villeneuve being on particularly bad terms.

In size of ships, in weight, in numbers of men they had the superiority;
among the four thousand soldiers on board were expert Tyrolese riflemen.
The signal for attack was made soon after daylight; Collingwood had the
command of the lee line, his ship was the _Royal Sovereign_.

As the British canvases swelled in the increasing West breeze, Lord
Nelson sat in his cabin, under the portrait of Emma, and in his awkward,
left-hand scrawl wrote out a prayer of unexceptional sentiments, and a
codicil to his will, in which he left Emma, Lady Hamilton, as "a legacy
to my King and country" and which was signed by two witnesses.

When his cabin was being cleared for action, he asked that Emma's picture
should be treated as that of his guardian angel and he went on deck
wearing a miniature of her under his uniform.

He seemed sure of a victory, and as expectant of death as if he were
about to seek it; this was, however, the less remarkable as he had so
often considered himself doomed.

The enemy, under the skilful direction of Villeneuve, spread out in order
of battle, and the _Victory_ ran up against the cloudy sky the
signal which was considered not only inspiring but sublime. "England
expects every man to do his duty."

The first word would have been _Nelson_ had that been in the code.

His companions begged Lord Nelson to hide the four stars embroidered on
his coat, but he refused, and continued to walk his quarter-deck, a clear
target for the riflemen crouching in the French rigging.

Intermittent sunshine glittered on the splendid ships of the enemy as
they opened fire shortly before noon; the long billows rolling into Cadiz
Bay carried forward the British ships, Collingwood and Nelson leading;
Collingwood was first under fire, and the action immediately became
fierce and desperate; the _Victory_ was in the very heart of the
battle exposed to a continuous fire; she was frequently struck;
broadsides were aimed at her rigging, the marines on deck were shot down;
Lord Nelson's secretary was killed; a shot flew past the Admiral as he
was talking to Captain Hardy. This punishment had been endured without
reply; fifty men had been put out of action, and much of the rigging
disabled before the flagship opened a return fire, and ran into the
_Redoutable_, which met the _Victory_ with a broadside and a
crackle of musketry from the snipers in the rigging.

This practice of putting musketeers in the tops of battleships was
considered foul play by the British, who likewise condemned another
practice, of which they accused the French--that of firing red-hot balls.
This device had, however, been used by the British Admiralty against the
mutineers of 1798, and the warfare was savage enough on both sides for
complaints of individual ferocity or unfairness to be as useless as

The _Téméraire_ (Captain Eliab Hervey) closed with the
_Redoutable_ on the other side, and she in her turn was engaged by a
Frenchman, so that the four great half-disabled ships were jammed
together on the darkening sea, beneath the increasing hurry of the

A shot from the mizzen-top of the _Redoutable_ struck Lord Nelson
shortly after one o'clock, and he fell down on the stain left by his
secretary's blood.

With a handkerchief over his well-known face and the four stars he was
carried to the surgeon's room, where in the light of a swinging lantern,
pressed on by mutilated and expiring men, he lay in agony and anxiety for
more than three hours; dying at half-past four in the afternoon; soon
after the British victory was complete; twenty French ships had struck
and there were many prizes, though many more were lost through
disobedience of Lord Nelson's last orders, which were--to anchor against
the gale then rising.

Only these things had been in his mind as he lay dying--Emma and the
glory of the victory; once he had whispered--"Don't throw me overboard."

It is possible that into his distressed and clouded mind had crept some
memory of Francesco Caracciolo. But his ever-present anxiety was Emma,
and after Emma, his daughter.

He suffered greatly; slowly bleeding to death in the foul air, amid the
cries and groans, the curses and laments, of those who died horribly for
the glory of Britain; his whisper was for lemonade, for the waving of a
sheet of paper, that stirred the stagnant atmosphere. He thanked his God
that he had done his duty, he was glad that he had given the French "a
drubbing," he thought that he had "_not_ been a _great_
sinner"; when he learned that it was another glorious victory, he seemed
to die at peace; the last cannonade of the defeated enemy sounded as he
was sinking into darkness and with his last breath there was silence
among the shattered fleets blown upon by the swelling gale.

* * * * *

The news shook England; coaches, carriages, horsemen stopped one another
in the streets and on the highroads; strangers spoke to one another;
there was a general cessation of normal life, as if the country had been
dealt a heavy blow and drew a deep breath of pain. Then from everywhere
suddenly appeared mourning scarfs, funeral serge, brocade, streamers of
crape; everything was bordered with black. Shop-windows, on the instant,
became full of weeping Britannias, funeral urns, mournful lions--every
possible symbol of victory and mourning. No one talked of anything else
but this; A great victory had been won in Trafalgar Bay; Villeneuve's
Fleet had been shattered, but Lord Nelson had been in that supreme moment
of success killed by a shot from the enemy's rigging.

Then the nation heard with desperate excitement that the _Victory_
was coming up the river with the hero's body, preserved upright in a cask
of spirit.

Emma, still waiting at Merton, was left very much alone. Of all her
lovers and protectors none was left now but him, who was neither lover
nor protector--Charles Greville, who had recently inherited the price for
which he had transferred her. But Emma had her consolation. When the
first paroxysm of tears and grief was over, it was consoling to know that
the hero had left her as a legacy to the nation, and that she, and she
only, had been the beloved of the man who, so shortly before despised and
neglected, though made use of, had now become a national hero such as had
never been known before--so a mourning nation did not hesitate to

She soon heard the famous details, how he had insisted on walking his
quarter-deck in the thickest of the fight with the famous stars and
orders embroidered on his coat, of the bloody fight between the
_Victory_ and the _Redoutable_ and the end of it and his last
words: "They have done for me at last--my backbone is shot through."

He had not forgotten her: "I have to leave Lady Hamilton and Horatia to
my country. Remember me to Lady Hamilton, remember me to Horatia. Tell
Mr. Rose I made a will, left Lady Hamilton and Horatia to my country.
Take care of dear Lady Hamilton, poor Lady Hamilton. Remember that I
leave Lady Hamilton and my daughter Horatia as a legacy to my country.
Never forget Horatia."

In the child's little cabinet at Merton lay his letter, dated: "_The
Victory_, off Toulon." He had sent this with the watch that she was to
wear on Sundays and very particular days, when she had behaved
exceedingly well and been obedient.

"I shall only say, my dear child, may God Almighty bless you and make you
an ornament to your sex, which I am sure you will be, if you attend to
all Lady Hamilton's kind instructions. Be assured that I am, my dear
Horatia, your most affectionate father, Nelson and Bronte."

* * * * *

Britannia mourned her hero in the manner of great nations. It was more
easy to honour Nelson now that death had separated him from Emma. His
body was placed in the famous coffin made from the _L'Orient_'s
mainmast and enclosed in a superb casket. It lay in state for five days
at Greenwich, surrounded by all the things the dead man had loved in
life--his coronet, the Turkish plume, the shields, and trophies befitting
a hero. Then it was removed down the river from Greenwich with every pomp
that the simple vanity of Horatio Nelson could have desired, drums and
fifes playing the "Dead March in Saul," trumpeters sounding the 104th
Psalm, Admirals, Vice-Admirals, Captains, and Chaplain, the State Barge
which had belonged to Charles II to put the coffin on, the Lord Mayor and
Corporation of London, Regiments of Foot, squadrons of cavalry, pieces of
cannon, pensioners, and seamen from the _Victory_, all in mourning
with black neckerchiefs and stockings, the _Victory's_ flag torn and
bloodstained, the Heralds, the City Companies, the Knights Bachelors, the
Knights of the Bath, members of the House of Lords, six Dukes of the
Blood Royal, and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. In Christopher
Wren's gloomy monumental cathedral the hero was buried with every
circumstance of splendour that the occasion and the time could devise;
Flaxman was to design the tomb and Sheridan to write the inscription on
it; all the principal cities of the United Kingdom were to have a
monument; everything that could be done was to be done.

The heir to the hero's reward was his brother, the Rev. William Nelson.
He received an earldom, a pension of £5,000 per annum, and a gift of
£120,000 in cash; it was a handsome expression of national gratitude, a
pleasant consolation for the loss of a brother.

Lady Hamilton received without dispute the diamond star, £2,000 in cash,
£500 a year for herself, £400 a year for Horatia, the whole totalling a
fortune of £25,000, including Merton and its contents which also were
left to Emma and valued at £10,000 to £12,000.

When the grief and the excitement and the hysterics had worn off and Emma
turned round to count her gains, she found herself not so ill-provided
for. Between husband and lover she had an income of £2,140 a year, and a
handsome house, full of valuable furniture and effects. But she hoped for
far more. Surely, in the tremendous excitement of the victory of
Trafalgar the Patroness of the Navy would not be forgotten? The hero had
deliberately left her as a legacy to his country--surely this was a
request that could not be ignored. Even before the funeral she had
learned of his dying request to his country. Captain Hardy had given Earl
Nelson a codicil to his brother's will, written in a note-book and
directed to one of his friends, George Rose, who, even before the
magnificent funeral in St. Paul's, had written to Lady Hamilton:

"You will learn from the Captain that Lord Nelson, within the hour
preceding the commencement of the action in which he immortalized his
name, made an entry in his pocket-book strongly recommending a
remuneration to you for your services to the country, when the fleet
under his command was in Sicily after his first return from Egypt, on
which subject he had spoken to me with great earnestness more than once."

This note, which took the form of a codicil to his will, enforced the
claims that Lady Hamilton had always made with regard to her services in
Naples; it declared that Lord Nelson had personal knowledge that Emma had
obtained the King of Spain's letter in 1796, upon which Sir John Jervis
_might_ have acted against "the arsenals of Spain or her fleets"; it
was not Lady Hamilton's fault that nothing was done.

The second service was that of securing the breaking off of Neapolitan
neutrality, whereby the British Fleet had been watered and provisioned at
Syracuse before the Battle of the Nile.

"Could I have rewarded these 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 I hold dear! My relations it is needless to mention; they will,
of course, be amply provided for.

"Nelson and Bronte."

This might be accounted a document at once noble and pathetic, and the
legacy one that the country should have been delighted to honour. Indeed,
continual reproaches have been cast on the various Ministries, the Queen,
the Prince Regent, and all who refused to grant the hero's dying request.

All sentiment was on the side of Lord Nelson, all reason against him; in
truth the annoying part of the business was not that such a request
should have been ignored, but that it should have been made.

This famous codicil, for all its noble air, was, in fact, written by a
man completely blinded by an obsession.

The writer was a married man whose wife, as he himself admitted, had no
fault and he expected his country to provide not only for her, but for
his mistress and his natural daughter.

Any government that had pensioned Lady Hamilton and Horatia would have
created an embarrassing precedent. It was computed that nearly sixteen
hundred men had perished at Trafalgar; all of these from the spruce
officer to the shabby pressed seaman might have had adored unlawful loves
and cherished misbegotten children, whom they would have been thankful to
leave to a grateful country.

There remained the question of Lady Hamilton's services in Naples; those,
whom she had, ever since her husband's death, importuned for pensions and
rewards, knew that these services were non-existent.

The Spanish letter had been sent in the ordinary way by the Queen to Sir
William, and Emma had been only the go-between, while in the more
important matter of the Syracuse outfitting of the British Fleet anyone
that knew anything of Neapolitan affairs must have been aware that Maria
Carolina, with her seat in the Council and her predominant influence in
the Government, was perfectly able and willing to break the treaty with
the French without any urging on the part of Emma Hamilton. That Lord
Nelson should have stated solemnly his belief in these services, and his
sense of their value was consistent with his long efforts to obtain
something from the country for Emma and a proof of his complete
infatuation, which caused him to be incapable of reason or judgment on
any subject connected with Emma. The painful situation had another
aspect; even if Lady Hamilton had made great efforts to forward the cause
of Great Britain, these efforts were diminished by the clamour that she
made for their recognition; the patriotism that has such a decided cash
value ceases to be a virtue. For all she had "fag'd" in Naples Emma had
been well paid, with jewels, dresses, the Cross of Malta, with festivals,
flatteries and countless spoils; when both her husband and her lover had
gone, she was left with a comfortable little property and a fair income,
while her child was provided for; she scarcely, therefore, presented a
pathetic figure and those who might have been moved to pity her were
hardened by her crude extravagance and her quick recovery from grief.

Madame Le Brun had been in London soon after Sir William's death and had
noted that Emma, a colossal figure in crape, seemed for all her streaming
black veils to care little about her loss, and it was noticed that soon
after Trafalgar the concerts and parties were continuing at Merton. It
might also be argued that, in as far as heroism can be rewarded, Lord
Nelson had been duly honoured; he was much admired for dying with the
word "duty" on his lips, but, if he considered that he, in common with
every man under his command, was merely doing his duty, by what reasoning
did he suppose that he could leave not only his family but Emma and
Horatia to the care of a country which had already lavishly recognized
his success?

The situation, that Emma was, for the rest of her life, to endeavour to
exploit, was wildly illogical.

A man cannot be a single-minded hero, who thinks that dying for his
country is a mere act of duty--not only for himself, but for others--and
at the same time expects extravagant rewards, honours, and applause, and,
to crown all, to leave, as a final insult to an innocent wife, a mistress
and a child to be provided for from public money.

Nor can a woman be a pure patriot, glad to work for her country's good,
indifferent to everything but her national glory, and at the same time be
observed openly scheming to obtain the utmost in money for her services.

At first Emma's hopes ran high. In the intoxication of reflected glory
and in the expectancy of the substantial gratitude of her country she
almost forgot her loss. Lord Nelson had been so often away from Merton
that life there went on very well without him.

Soon the fortunes of Napoleon shone again; Arthur Paget, whose arrival at
Palermo had been so distasteful to Emma in the old days, sent a dispatch
from Vienna with such bad news, so graphically expressed, to Whitehall
that Pitt, already a sick and disappointed man, died of the blow. The
victory of Austerlitz did much to balance the victory of Trafalgar, and
when the smoke of the cannons that had fired Lord Nelson's funeral salute
had faded away, when all tears were dried and the crape bands untied, the
black bows taken from the standards and a businesslike reckoning made up
of the whole of the affair, it was felt that the hero had been
sufficiently honoured and sufficiently paid. Lord Nelson would never he
able to be useful to the British Government, and they had done, they
considered, all that could be expected of a country grateful, but
harassed; there was the tomb in St. Paul's, there were, in several
cities, monuments.

The new Earl, formerly the Rev. William Nelson, behaved correctly to the
woman whom he had flattered eagerly in the days of her glory; he took a
common-sense view of his brother's uncomfortable loss. He accepted the
memorandum in the note-book as a late codicil to the will, but as it did
not deal with practical matters, he did not ask for probate of it, but
gave the few lines which left Lady Hamilton as a legacy to his country to
one of Nelson's friends, a certain Sir William Scott who "talked a great
deal about you and said that you have great claims on the Government and
they all sincerely wished they would do all they ought," as little
Charlotte, the new Earl's daughter, wrote.

The second Earl Nelson, who could certainly afford to be generous, since
he had received a large fortune and earldom through no exertion of his
own, also brought the matter to the notice of the new Premier, Lord
Grenville, read it to his Lordship and strongly pointed out to him the
parts relative to Lady Hamilton and the child.

But in spite of so many good intentions and fine promises nothing was
done. Queen Charlotte set her face against Emma, as always. The
Government knew well enough that Emma's services to Britain in Naples had
been greatly exaggerated and they held it to be only a rather lamentable
proof of Lord Nelson's strange infatuation for his mistress, that he had
borne witness to what he must have known was not true. And as for the
£9,000 worth of clothes and jewellery and all the other properties that
Emma was supposed to have lost on the occasion of the flight from Naples,
no one who had seen the dresses and treasures which had arrived in London
could have believed that story. In brief, the Government set its face
against Emma's claims.

It might be not unreasonably supposed that, even allowing that Emma's
fascination would no longer prove profitable to her pocket, she was
reasonably well provided for, besides it was a question of creating a
precedent. There might be a succession of heroes who would expect not
only their own widows, but those of other men, provided for out of the
public purse.

Emma had her friends who bombarded the Government in her favour and she
was herself already an expert at a kind of superbegging-letter writing,
but none of these arts availed her. Her behaviour was not such as to
arouse compassion. She continued to live with sumptuous luxury, both at
Merton and in Piccadilly, and she had not then either a husband to give
her an air of respectability or a lover to pay her debts.

Grotesque slanders began to be spread of the Neapolitan and the Sicilian
days, and other slanders, perhaps not so grotesque, of her present mode
of life.

Everything about Emma's story begins to diminish in interest after
Trafalgar; for everything she had lived for had slipped through her
fingers, save money, and that too, was flowing away even faster than

She did everything that might have been expected of her; most of the
incidents of this part of her career were those common to daughters of
Joy, when Joy begins to take his departure. She entertained all those who
cared to accept her tasteless hospitality; she appeared in public to
faint when Barham sang "The Death of Nelson," to collapse when, in
"Hearts of Oak," Miss Wheatley's pretty voice rose on the strain of
"Rest, warrior, rest."

She began to spread about the tale that Lord Nelson had left Merton for
the last time at her patriotic urgings; it was she, and she only, who had
given the hero to his country and made possible the victory of Trafalgar.
She related a story that had only too clear a ring of truth; on the final
parting Lord Nelson had said--"Brave Emma, good Emma, if there were more
Emmas, there would be more Nelsons!" Through all the flamboyant episodes
there was a steady fall downwards.

"Lives" of Nelson appeared in which he was depicted as an impossible
hero, and in which she was very delicately handled; his love-letters
(hers had been, mercifully, destroyed) got somehow into print; Emma said
that they had been stolen from her; memoirs were written under her
directions by a hack; these made racy reading and were composed of that
mingled truth and falsehood that pleases most. In these pages, for
instance, her first strayings from virtue were gilded with a noble
air--she had sacrificed herself to the amorous naval captain in order to
save a fellow-countryman from the press-gang; there were other lively
anecdotes in these lively pages.

The name of Emma began to be whispered in connection with some
publications even less creditable; libels, some of them of a peculiarly
abominable description, were circulating in print on the Queen of Naples.
These contained details that it was thought could not be known except to
someone who had lived in Her Majesty's intimacy--Emma was pointed out as
the source of these foul publications; as she had already employed a hack
to libel Lady Nelson, might she not have done the same to defame the
Queen of Naples, whose neglect she so resented?

These pasquinades, exposing the private life of Maria Carolina to the
jeers of Europe, circulated all over the Continent and were employed as
some of the fiercest weapons against the Queen in her final downfall,
when the French again took possession of Naples. If Emma's hand guided
these secret attacks, she indeed took, what one of her biographers terms,
"a base and terrible revenge."

Showing a brave front to her misfortunes, Emma went her way with a
certain cheerfulness. There were great suppers, dinners, receptions to an
easy-going crowd who ate and drank at her expense, and rewarded her with
applause; there were concerts and attitudes and dancing of the
tarantellas; but there were now no heroes to clap their hands. Put what
face on it she would, Emma was entering the courtesan's
purgatory--middle-age; her beauty, withered more by reckless living than
by the years, had almost gone; het health, ruined by excesses, was

With the death of the man who had for long not been her lover, Charles
Greville, the last of her lovers had gone. The gossips said she was
angling for the tarnished dukedom of her late husband's kinsman, the
eccentric old Duke of Queensberry. He certainly was kind to her and lent
her one of his houses at Richmond. It was from there, Heron's Court, that
she wrote on December 4th, 1808, to His Grace, asking him for £15,000 as
the price of Merton and of all its heroic trophies. The offer was
refused, but Emma continued to live in the neat mansion on the sloping
banks of the Thames, among the willows and formal gardens, the tidy
houses and well-kept roads of the pretty suburb.

She was credited with one more attempt to please the gentlemen--it was
reported that Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg admired her, and that she
tried to make terms with him, but that her poverty and his money were
both insufficient to strike a satisfactory bargain.

So Emma lived alone with Horatia, who had come to a difficult age, and
with whom her mother quarrelled, taking the usual tone of disappointed
self-sacrifice adopted by parents bored by their children.

Her worldly prospects began to be very clouded. Kind and well-to-do
friends, examining her affairs, found them in almost hopeless confusion.
She owed £8,000 and had anticipated £10,000 of her revenues by mortgaging
the income to different persons. All that these zealous gentlemen who
were so anxious to help Emma could do, was to take over Merton and all
her assets with the intention of selling them for her benefit and that of
her creditors, and to allow her £2,300 for her expenses. A little
chastened by this crisis in her worldly affairs Emma sat down at Richmond
in the neat retreat by the waters of the Thames, where the swans glided
and the willows drooped, and wrote her will, which opened with a curious
passage: "If I can be buried in St. Paul's, I should be very happy to be
near the glorious Nelson whom I loved and admired, and as once Sir
William, Nelson and myself had agreed, we should all be buried near each
other if the King had not granted him a public funeral, it would have
been that three persons so much attached to each other in virtue and
friendship should have been laid in one grave when they quitted this
ill-natured, slanderous world. But 'tis past and in Heaven I hope we
shall meet. If I am not permitted to be buried in St. Paul's, let me be
put where I shall be near my dear mother, when she is called from this
ungrateful world."

Everything went, bit by bit, all the portraits, all the trophies, "Dear,
dear Merton," the christening cup Lord Nelson had sent to Horatia, the
bloodstained waistcoat that he had worn at Trafalgar. It was a sad
spectacle, but who could have prevented it? Who could have saved Emma
from herself? Even if "the coldhearted Grenville" had given the insistent
petitioner a few thousands out of the Secret Service Fund and a handsome
pension, it would only have delayed for a while the inevitable end.

For two years longer Emma resided at Richmond, punctually receiving the
money paid to her by her husband's nephew, Colonel Robert Fulke-Greville,
who had inherited the Welsh estate.

In 1811, she was living in lodgings in Bond Street, where she wrote a
second will:

"September the fourth 1811.

"I Emma Hamilton of No. 150 Bond Street London Widow of the Right
Honourable Sir William Hamilton formerly Minister at the Court of Naples
being in sound mind and body do give to my dearly beloved Horatia Nelson
daughter of the great and glorious Nelson all that I shall be possessed
of at my death money jewells pictures wine furniture books wearing
apparel silver gold-plated or silver-gilt utensils of every sort I may
have in my house or houses or in any other persons' houses at my death
any marbles bronzes busts plaster of Paris or in short every thing that
belonged to me I give to my best beloved Horatia Nelson all my table
linen laces ornaments in short everything that I have I give to her any
money either in the house or at my bankers all debts that may be owing to
me I beg that she may have I give to Horatia Nelson all silver with
inscription with Viscount Nelson's name on or his arms I give to her
wou'd to God it was more for her sake I do appoint George Macham Esquire
of Ashford Lodge in the County of Sussex and the Right Honourable George
Rose of Old Palace Yard Westminster my Executors and I leave them
Guardians to my dear Horatia Nelson and I do most earnestly entreat of
them to be the Protectors and Guardians and be Fathers to the Daughter of
the great and glorious Nelson and it is my wish that H.R. Highness the
Prince Regent or if before my death he shall become King that he will
provide for the said Horatia in such a manner that she may live as
becomes the daur of such a man as her victorious Father was and as His
Royal Highness often promised me that he wou'd have me remunerated when
he had it in his power for the services that I have rendered to my King
and Country and as I have never been remunerated nor ever received one
sixpence from Government let me on my knees beg of his Royal Highness to
provide for the said Horatia Nelson the only child of the Great and
Glorious Nelson and I beg after my death that a copy of this my last will
and testament may be sent to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent or if
he is King it may be sent to His Majesty for His high worth honour and
probaty and the friendship which he had for Nelson will induce him to
protect his child for me H.R.H.s always shewed me the greatest kindness
and for the sake of Sir William Hamilton whom His R. Highness so highly
honoured that he will provide for the orphan Horatia when my head is laid
low she will want protection therefore to God Almighty to His R. Highness
and to my Executors do I most earnestly recommend her on my knees
blessing her and praying for her that she may be happy virtuous good and
amiable and that she may remember all the kind instructions and good
advice I have given her and may she be what her great and immortal Father
wished her to be brought up with virtue honor religion and rectitude Amen
Amen Amen I do hereby annuli all wills made by me formerly and I beg that
this may be considered as my last will and testament written with my own
hand this September the fourth 1811, Emma Hamilton.--If I shall have any
money in the Funds or landed property at my death I give to the said
Horatia Nelson all and everything belonging to me and if she shall dye
before she shall be able to make her will I give all that I have
bequeathed her to the daurs of Mr. John and Amy Moore my late Aunt and
Uncle and now living in Moore Street Liverpool and I pray to God to bless
them but I hope my dear Horatia will live to be happy and marry well and
I hope that she will make her will as soon as I am dead for I do
absolutely give her all I have I still hope Mr. Macham and Mr. Rose will
see to the educating of Horatia and that she may live with Mrs. Macham's
family till she is disposed to some worthy man in marriage I forgot to
mention that I also give Horatia all my china glass crockery ware of
every sort that I have--

"Emma Hamilton. (L.S.)

"Signed sealed published and declared by Emma Lady Hamilton as her last
will and testament in the presence of Thomas Coxe A.M.--William Haslewood
of Fitz Roy Square, Middlesex."

Even in this will Emma did not admit the truth about Horatia.

She continued to insist that the child was Nelson's, but not hers,
hinting with that odd mixture of drama and bad taste which seemed her
special tone that her mother was too great to be mentioned, that her
father, mother, and Horatia had a true and virtuous friend in Emma
Hamilton. This might have been considered as an insinuation that the
Queen of Naples was the child's mother, did not a brief consideration of
dates render such an idea impossible.

This curious document reveals Emma as still obsessed by the idea that the
Government owed her both gratitude and money, and reveals her as still
possessing, or as fancying she possessed, the remnant of Sir William's
_objets d'art_. Perhaps this was a delusion; the interest that she
believed the Regent took in her seems to have been imaginary, nor is
there any evidence that George IV had any "friendship for Lord Nelson."

* * * * *

Mrs. Cadogan died (1813) and Emma lost a useful, steady friend, a
tireless servant; she continued in the various apartments she occupied to
live luxuriously; she could not resist either the gratification of her
appetites or the lure of the gambling-table.

She remained hopeful and cheerful; a good meal, a soft bed, a fine dress,
a bottle of wine, and gay company and the day was always bright for Emma.

But there came an ugly day when Colonel Robert Fulke-Greville ceased to
pay the £800 annuity from the Welsh estate. He had heard that it had been
mortgaged, and that if he paid it to Emma he might be liable to be called
upon for it again by those to whom she had sold it. This produced real
distress; everything went, the last jewels, the remnant of the treasures,
and, when these were gone, there was a flight to lodgings at Fulham,
where Emma lived for a while in retreat with Mrs. Billington, the

But in 1813 Emma could no longer evade her creditors; she was arrested
for debt and went to the King's Bench Prison. No great severity was
exercised. She was allowed to live at 12, Temple Place, where she was
within the rules of the Bench, and where she had a fair measure of ease
and liberty. From there she wrote a sad little letter redolent of the old

"31st July, 1813.

"12 Temple Place:


"My Dear Sir Thomas,

"Will you come to-morrow to meet our good pope and Mr. Tegart. It is the
first of Agust (_sic_), do come, it is a day to me glorious, for I
largely contributed to its success, and at the same time it gives me pain
and grief, thinking on the Dear lamented Chief, who so bravely won the
day, and if you come we will drink to his immortal memory. He coul'd
never have thought that his Child and my self sho'd pass the anniversary
of that victorious day were we shall pass it, but I shall be with a few
sincere and valuable friends, all Hearts of Gold, not Pincheback, and
that will be consoling to the afflicted heart of your faithful Friend.

"Emma Hamilton."

This letter stamped "Twopence--unpaid," never reached the person to whom
it was addressed, and was marked "Gone away"--an expression which might
have suited many of Emma's friends.

In the spring of 1814, through the renewed kindness of Alderman J. S.
Smith, Emma was released from King's Bench Prison, but other creditors
were waiting for her, among them a coach-builder who was determined in
his suit. Emma had still her friends, but no one could any longer do
anything for her entangled affairs; time, her worst enemy, had triumphed.

She had passed from the courtesan's purgatory to the courtesan's hell,
every expedient had been tried, every device exhausted. There was nothing
for it but flight. Mrs. Cadogan was dead. There were few to assist, or
even to be interested in, "The Divine Lady."

One July evening a harassed, ageing woman, panting from her weight, but
gaily dressed, stood on the Tower Wharf holding by the hand Horatia, then
a charming, clever girl fourteen years old, keen and dark; the servants
were with them, a decent quantity of luggage, and generous Alderman Smith
was there to see them off.

The spot had memories for Emma; here beneath the towers of the ancient
fort she had met her first lover amid the bustle and licence of the
press-gang ship.

She was still cheerful, though the features, once compared to the noblest
profile on the superb Sicilian coins, were now lost in coarse flesh, and
the body, once of such "antique" grace, was now shapeless beneath the
finery; she lived for the moment only and the future did not seem so
dark; the Country would surely do something, Colonel Fulke-Greville could
be appealed to, and there were monies due to her under old "Q's" will.

But, as the ship put off down the Thames, Emma, fanning herself in the
best cabin, was leaving them all behind, for ever.

Lord Nelson under the gilt dome, looming behind her, George Romney in the
Westmorland churchyard, Sir William--"Pliny the elder," and Charles
Greville, the man who had moved her heart and stirred her senses more
than any, but whose cold relations with her had for long been only those
of a nephew with an aunt--all, all left behind and for ever.

* * * * *

When Emma landed in France, the country she had always so detested, and
to which she had done every possible ill-turn, she put up at Dessin's,
one of the best hotels in the country, celebrated for good service, fine
cooking, and handsome, well-kept apartments.

Soon after her arrival in Calais Emma wrote to one of her friends, the
Hon. George Rose, President of the Board of Trade, who had tried in vain
to obtain some pension for her; the letter was characteristic in its
account of a quiet life likely to impress and move an ungrateful country,
in the self pity, the sham philosophy, and in the usual bankrupt's
cry--"my virtues, not my vices have undone me."

"Hotel Dessin, Calais,

"July 4, 1814.

"We arrived here safe, dear sir, after three days' sickness at sea--as,
for precaution, we embarked at the Tower, Mr. Smith got me the discharge
from Lord Ellenborough. I then begged Mr. Smith to withdraw his bail, for
I would have died in prison sooner than that good man should have
suffered for me, and I managed so well with Horatia alone, that I was at
Calais before any new writs could be issued out against me. I feel so
much better from change of climate, food, air, large rooms, and
_liberty_ that there is a chance I may live to see Horatia brought
up. I am looking out for a lodging. I have an excellent French-woman, who
is good at everything; for Horatia and myself and my old dame, who is
coming will be my establishment. Near me is an English lady, who has
resided here for twenty-five years; who has a day-school, but not for
eating and sleeping. At eight in the morning I take Horatia; fetch her at
one; at three we dine; and then in the evening we walk. She learns
everything; piano, harp, languages grammatically. She knows French and
Italian well, but she will still improve. Not any girls but those of the
first families go there. Last evening we walked two miles to a a
_fete-champetre pour les bourgeois_. Everybody is pleased with
Horatia. The General and his good old wife are very good to us; but our
little world of happiness is in ourselves. If, my dear sir, Lord Sidmouth
would do something for dear Horatia, so that I can be enabled to give her
an education, and also for her dress, it would ease me, and make me very
happy. Surely he owes this to Nelson. For God's sake do try for me, for
you do not know how limited. I have left everything to be sold for the
creditors who do not deserve everything; for I have been the victim of
artful mercenary wretches, and my too great liberality and open heart has
been the dupe of villains. To you, sir, I trust, for my dearest Horatia,
to exert yourself for me, and that will be an easy passport for

"E. H."

Emma's situation in the French town was dismal compared to what it had
been in Naples or London, but not by any means uncomfortable or
dramatically sordid, the £400 left by Lord Nelson to his child was
regularly paid every quarter, Emma was still entitled to some of her
revenue from the Hamilton's Welsh estate; the Duke of Queensberry had
left her an annuity of £500 a year for life, legal disputes were going on
about His Grace's will, but it was considered certain that Lady Hamilton
would receive at least some of the money, she could, at a pinch, always
be able to raise a little cash on this prospect; besides, Alderman Smith,
who had so generously taken upon himself to assist her to escape from
prison and to fly to France, had given her sufficient ready money with
which to start her last adventure. She had a French maid and an old
servant, when she left the luxurious Hotel Dessin she went to good
lodgings, then to a comfortable farmhouse outside the town.

A few months after her exile she wrote the following letter to Colonel

"Common of St. Piere, 2 miles from Calais.

"Direct to me, chez Dessin, September 21, (1814).

"Sir,--You know that my jointure of eightt hundred pounds a year has been
now for a long time accumulating. If I was to die I should not have left
that money a way, for the anuitants have no right to have it, nor can
they claim it, for I was most dreadfully imposed on for my good nature,
in being bail for a person whom I thought honourable. When I came a way I
came with honor, as Mr. Alderman Smith can inform you, but mine own
innocence keeps me up, and I despise all false publications and
aspersions. I have given every thing up to pay just debts, but anuitants
I never will. Now, sir, let me intreat you to send me a hundred pound,
for I understand you have the money. I live very quiet in a farm house,
and my health is now quite established. Let me, Sir, beg this favour to

"Your humble servant,

"E. Hamilton."

"P.S.--Sir Wm. Scott writes me there is some hopes to my irresistible
claims. Such are his words.

"The best meat here five pence a pound, 2 quarts of new milk 2 pence,
fowls 13 pence a couple, ducks the same. We bought two fine turkys for
four shillins, an excellent turbot for half-a-crown fresh from the sea,
partridges five pence the couple, good Bordeux wine white and red for
fiveteen pence the bottle, but there are some for ten sous halpeny. Lord
Cathcart past thro 3 days ago. Horatia improves in person & education
every day. She speaks french like a french girl, italian, german,
english, etc."

The answer to this appeal was not satisfactory. Colonel Fulke-Greville
would send no more money, till he knew exactly how things stood, and Emma
was reduced to the usual expedient of pawning some pieces of plate and a
few articles of jewellery that she had brought with her from England.
Soon after the letter to Colonel Fulke-Greville was written Emma moved
into rooms in Calais, the farmhouse affording but a bleak sojourn for the
winter; her means were then straitened, but she was not galled nor even
greatly inconvenienced by poverty.

Her circumstances were not those of dramatic, romantic privation, the
garret, the hard pallet, the crust, the bowl of water; they were worse,
of a drab and tedious respectability.

It was all very mean compared with the sumptuous splendours of Naples and
Sicily, with the easy living of London, but it was very comfortable and
even pretentious compared with the cottage at Hawarden. But her health
failed from day to day, the winds swept over the sands and brought on
discomforts that caused her to ease herself with opium; she had, some of
her fellow country-people said, another consolation also; she had, they
declared become a member of the Roman Catholic Church.

It was hardly a wonder if Emma, like so many who have sucked dry worldly
delights, should have taken refuge with a Faith at once magnificent and
kind; the priest is the natural consolation for the vacant minds of such
women, as the drug is the natural consolation for their worn-out bodies.

Life had for some while been over for Emma, she had been merely existing
in the dull exile, in the monotonous idleness of Calais that gradually
eclipsed even her high animal spirits, that slowly extinguished the last
faint hopes that had gilded her flight from England, and the winter of
1814, nine years after Trafalgar, saw the heavy woman going slowly
through the cold alien streets, lying long in the furnished bedroom,
where wind and sleet beat on the window-panes and the heaped-up fire
could not warm her, nor the glasses of wine bring any sparkle into her
sluggish blood.

Horatia went to and fro to school, a spirited, long-faced girl with an
air of distinction, asking questions, wondering--"whose daughter am I ?"

There were no more attitudes because there were no more audiences.

The last scenes in this gaudy drama were played quietly enough without

In the neat, decorous bed Emma drowsed, spread beneath the quilts, heavy
in the pillows; no need now for shawls or roses, tambourines, wine or
daggers, the parted lips, the upturned eyes; there was no one to see save
the restless girl with her unanswered questions, the indifferent bonne a
little curious, a little sorry, the cool French doctor who understood the
case too well, and who waited for nature to draw the curtains across the
last of the attitudes--not Magdalene dying, lovely and weeping, in the
Egyptian desert, as Emma had once shown her--but Amy Lyon in a
respectable four-poster with a table of medicine-bottles at her side, a
warming-pan at her feet, and on her face, no look of anguished penitence,
but the mere apathy of boredom.

* * * * *

On January 20th, 1815, it was announced in the _Gazette de France_
that--"Emma, widow of Sir William Hamilton," had died at Calais.

A few days later this item of news was copied into the _Morning
Post_. A few people were interested; Colonel Greville wished to know
if he might consider his estate free from the charge of £800 a year; and
those to whom Emma had mortgaged her income were concerned about their
prospects of repayment; Earl Nelson felt it his duty to repair to Calais.
He found that Emma had left behind her a small sum of money, a few
pawn-tickets, a modest wardrobe. Her death had not been dramatic, nor
indeed very interesting, a stout woman with an inclination to dropsy had
caught a chill that had settled on her liver and had died in a few days
quietly enough; there had been nothing romantic about her funeral which
had been decorous, dull, and attended by fifty people. Earl Nelson did
his duty as one of the trustees of Horatia's little fortune; he took the
girl back to England with him, together with such of Emma's trifling
possessions as he had been able to get out of pawn. He did not feel
himself obliged to do anything to mark Emma's last resting-place, nor
would it have been to much purpose, if he had; for the cemetery was,
before many years were over, turned into a timberyard, and all traces of
the lady's grave lost. There were romantic stories about a strange hand
that had planted a wooden cross with "Emma Hamilton, England's
Benefactress" on it, that another strange hand twice removed it; there
was, after a while, a decent stone with a correct Latin inscription which
became half-effaced by time, and then nothing.

Emma's wish that she might be laid in St. Paul's Cathedral beside Lord
Nelson had no doubt a grotesque air, but the fulfilment of it would have
pleased the hero better than all the monuments with which a gratified
nation honoured his genius and his valour.

Emma Hamilton, however, did not need St. Paul's Cathedral to keep her
name alive; her memory was as secure as that of her illustrious lover's,
but through a means that it would have surprised both of them to know of;
it mattered little what she had been or where she was buried. Emma, was,
when all else was forgotten, for ever famous as the inspiration of the
most seductive and popular of George Romney's paintings, where the
glorification of English beauty will always gratify English eyes.

_"O Love, what art thou, Love? a wicked thing?
Making green misses spoil their work at school
A melancholy man, cross gartering?
Grave ripe faced wisdom made an April fool?
A youngster tilting at a wedding ring?
A sinner, sitting on a cutty-stool?
A Ferdinand de Something in a hovel
Helping Matilda Rose to write a novel?"_



_A Modern History of England_, G. R. Stirling Taylor. London, 1932.
_Emma, Lady Hamilton_, Walter Sichel. London, 1907.
_Emma, Lady Hamilton_, H. Gamlin. London, 1891.
_Morrison Papers_, British Museum.
_National Dictionary Biography_, Various headings.
_Journal, 1799-1800_, Mrs. St. George (afterwards Trench). Privately
_Horace Walpole_. Travels.
_Memoirs of the Life of Nelson_, Dr. Pettigrew. London, 1849.
_Nelson and the Neapolitan Jacobins_, H. C. Gutheridge. Navy Records
Society, London, 1903.
_Robert Southey's Life of Lord Nelson_, Annotated David Hannay.
_Robert Southey's Life of Lord Nelson_, Annotated M. Macmillan.
_Life of Lord Nelson_, The Old Sailor. 1838.
_Life of Lord Nelson_, Rev. James Stanier Clarke and John M'Arthur.
_Life of Lord Nelson_, Clennell Wilkinson.
_Life of Horatio Lord Viscount Nelson_, Harrison (written under the
supervision of Lady Hamilton). 2 vols. 1806.
_Robert Southey's Life of Nelson_, Edited Geoffrey Callender.
London, 1922.
_Dispatches and Letters of Vice-Admiral Viscount Nelson_, Sir
Nicholas Harris Nicolas, G.C.M.C. 1845.
_Memoirs of Lord Nelson_, John Charnock. 1802.
_Memoirs of Lord Nelson_, Foster White. 1806.
_Letters of Lord Nelson to Lady Hamilton_. 1814.
_History of the Mutiny at Spithead and the Nore_, W. J. Neale.
London, 1842.
_Nelson at Naples, a Journal for June 10-30, 1799_, F. P. Badham.
London, 1900.
_Autobiography_, Cornelia Knight. 1861.
_Lady Hamilton_, J. C. Jeafferson. London, 1888.
_Queen of Naples and Nelson_, J. C. Jeafferson. 2 vols. 1889.
_Saggio Storico sulla Rivoluzione Napoletana del 1799_, Vincenzo
Cuoco. 1799. Printed with:--
_Rapporto al Cittadino Carnot_, Francesco Lomanaco (Edited by Fausto
Niolini). Bari, 1913.
_Archives_, Naples.
_Carteggia di Maria Carolina_, Edited Palembo, 1877.
_Saggio Storica, etc._, G. M. Arrigni. Napoli, 1809.
_Storia d'Italia dal 1789 all 1814_, Carlo Botta.
_Monitore Napoletano_, Newspaper. Issued in the year 1799.
_Memoire Storiche, etc._, Sacchinelli. Napoli, 1836.
_L'Esame della Soria del Reaume de Napoli_. Carriatore, 1850 .
_La Rivoluzione Napoletana del 1799_, Benedetto Croce. Bari, 1912.
_I .Napoletani del 1799_, G. Fortunato. 1877.
_Napoli dal 1789 al 1796_, L. Conforti. Naples, 1887.
_Gabriel Manthoné_, F. Masci. Casalbordino, 1900.
_Napoli_, R. Ficini. 1878.
_Correspondence inédite de Marie Caroline Reine de Naples et de Sicile,
avec le Marquis de Gallo_, Edited by H. M. Weil and M. C. di Somma
_Discori critiche_, P. Villari. 1905.
_Francesi e Napoletani nel 1799_, R. Polmarocchi. 1913.
_Real Museo Borbonico_, Stamperia Reale. Napoli, 1824.
_J. N. Goethe_, Voyage in Italy; var. ed.
_Works of l'abbé Winckelmann on Herculaneum and Pompeii_ 1764-1784.
_I Borboni di Napoli_, A. Dumas. to tomes. Napoli, 1862.
_Lady Hamilton et la Révolution de Naples_, J. Turquan and J.
D'Auriac. Paris, 1913.
_Lady Hamilton_, Fauchier Magnan. Paris, 1910.
_Mémoires_, Mme. de Boigne.
_Mémoires_, Mme. Vigée le Brun.
_Marie Caroline, Reine de Naples_, André Bonnefons. 1905.
_Marie Caroline,_ M. A. Gagniere. Paris, 1886.
_Storia di Napoli_, 1734-1825, P. Colletta. Mémoires, Madame de
Lichtenau. Paris, 1808.
_Mémoires_, General Thiébault.
_Horatio Nelson_, Edinger and Neep. N. D. Mémoires, General
Macdonald. Paris, 1892.
_Histoire de Nelson_, E. D. Forgues. 1860.
_Fabrizio Ruffo_, Von Helfert.
_Lord Nelson and der Herzog Franz Caracciolo_, Robby Kossman.
Hamburg, 1895.
_Captain Footes Vindication of his Conduct._: 1807.
_A Memoir of C. AL Young_, J. C. Young. London, 1871.
_Memoirs of Lord Malmesbury_. 1845.

The above authorities contain all the material used in the foregoing
sketch of Lady Hamilton.

The _Thompson_ letters, published by Dr. Pettigrew, arc of doubtful
authenticity since the originals arc not in existence. They bear in
themselves, however, every mark of being genuine, and a few quotations
from them have been used in _Patriotic Lady_ since these do not in
any way alter what is known of the facts from other sources. This
question of the _Thompson_ letters must be left to historians, as
must the problems of Horatia Nelson's parentage and the precise nature of
the friendship between Lady Hamilton and Maria Carolina; these matters
have often been the subject of acute and learned controversy, and it was
not thought necessary to dilate on them once more; those interested will
find no difficulty in obtaining what information is available on these
delicate matters, which must, from their very nature, remain always in

In this portrait of Emma Hamilton the usual explanations have been
followed and on these points all controversial matter avoided. For the
vexed question of the _Arethusa_ letter, which may have been forged
in the interests of Lady Hamilton, the reader is referred to the various
excellent lives of Lord Nelson in existence.

Emma Hamilton has appeared so frequently in fiction that it is impossible
to give here the names of the novels, romances, dramas and poems in which
she has been used. The following list contains some little-known literary
curiosities which introduce Emma in a guise unfamiliar to the English

Luisa Sanfelice was for long a popular heroine with Italian romancers,
and when her talc was related Emma Hamilton usually appeared as the
villainess of the piece.

In 1852 there appeared on the Italian stage an historical drama entitled:

_Emma Lyonna o i martiri di Napoli_, by David Levi.

An elaborate romance on the same subject is:

_Luigia Sanfelice_, by Mastriani.

In 1882 one Richard Viss had a book published under this title: _Luigia
Sanfelice_--and two years later the energetic pen of Alexandre Dumas
had produced two volumes _Emma Lyonna_ and _Sanfelice_, for
which he had abundant material in the mass of original matter he had
already incorporated in his history of the Bourbons in Naples.

One of Giuseppe Verdi's early operas has for its libretto and title
_Luise Miller_.


A coat of arms for Lady Hamilton was concocted by the College of Arms
after she received the Cross of Malta, begged for her by Lord Nelson from
Paul I. How even a lunatic Czar came to be concerned in this business of
giving decorations to Lady Hamilton requires some explanation.

The power, virtually the existence, of the Knights of Malta, was shaken
by the French Revolution and ended with the capitulation of Valletta
11-12th June, 1798, when the Grand Master Ferdinand Hompesch ceded the
Islands and all the rights of the Order to General Bonaparte; the
articles of surrender were signed on board _L'Orient_, and the
Republican Flag (the Gallic Cock between two bundles of fasces) floated
over Malta until the Mediterranean Fleet, under the command of Lord
Nelson, retook it by blockade, April, 1800.

The Empress Catherine had entertained a great liking for the Order and
had wished to establish a Russian Priory; in her son, Paul I, this
inherited interest rose to a passion, and this despite the difference
between the Latin Church and the Greek Rite. When "the standard of
Liberty floated over the Forts of Malta" the last Grand Master, Hompesch,
went in exile with a few faithful knights on board a French frigate; he
died at Montpellier in 1805.

This was, in reality, the end of this famous Order, but a few knights,
indignant at the surrender of Hompesch, went to Russia, where the Czar
sheltered them; in return, in 1799 they issued a manifesto deposing
Hompesch, and soon after elected Paul I to a position which really no
longer existed. Paul, however, took this business so seriously that the
British seizure of Malta and failure to restore it to the knights was one
of the causes of his breaking with the allies.


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