1 58 Concerning "the greatest sailor
since the world began."
—//—Tennyson?

In this matter of writing, resolve purpose
as one may to keep to the main road,
some ^ branching by-paths have an allurement enticement not
readily to be withstood. Beckoned by the
genius of Nelson ^ Knowingly I am going to err
into such a by-path. If the reader
will keep me company I shall be glad.
At the least we can promise ourselves that
pleasure which is wickedly said to be
in sinning, for a literary sin it the brief
divergence will be. [Very likely
it is no new remark that the inventions
of our time have at last brought
2 59 about a change in sea-warfare
in degree corresponding to the
revolution in all warfare effected
by the original introduction of
from China into Europe of gunpowder.
The first European fire-arm, a
clumsy contrivance , was, as is well
known, scouted by no few of the
knights as a base an nonoEL xxS implement basely
cumbersome and cowardly , good
enough peradventure for peasants varlets weavers
too craven to stand up crossing
steel with steel in frank fight.
But as ashore knightly valor tho'
shorn of its blazonry did not cease
with the knights, neither at ^ on the sea seas
3 60 though nowadays in encounters there
a certain kind of displayed
gallantry be fallen out of date
as hardly applicable under ^ to changed
circumstances, did the nobler qualities
of such naval magnates as Don
John of Austria, Doria, Van Tromp,
Jean Bart, and the long line
of British Admirals ^ and the American Decaturs
of 1812
become obsolete
with their wooden walls.
4 16 5 6 61 Nevertheless, to one anybody who can hold
the Present at its worth without being
inappreciative of the Past, it may be forgiven ,
if to him such an one, the memorable ^ ^ solitary solitary old hulk at
Portsmouth, Nelson's Victory , seems to float
there, not not alone as the decaying monument
of a fame xcorruptabl incorruptible , but also as a
poetic ^ reproach, softened by its picturesqueness, to
the Monitors and yet iron mightier^ hulls of the European iron- clad. clads clan .
And this not altogether because they these monsters such craft are
ugly unsightly, totally lacking in unavoidably
lacking in the symmetry , magesty, loftiness & and grand
lines of the old battle-ships, but
equally for other reasons. [with the mark on the deck
where he fell]
5 16 7 62 The sentiment There are ^ those some , perhaps, who while
not altogether inaccessable inaccessible to that poetic reproach,
just alluded to, may yet ^ as utilitarians and on behalf of the new order, be
disposed to parry it; and this this to the extent extent
of iconoclasm, if need be. For example, Prompted by the
sight of the star inserted in the Victory's quarter-
deck, designating the the spot where the
Great Sailor unique hero fell, they may su these ^ martial utilitarians Positivists
of war may suggest considerations implying that
Nelson's ornate publication of his
prescence person ^ in battle was not only unnecesary,
but not military, nay savored of
foolhardiness and vanity.
6 [guide line] 16 8 63 They may add, too, that under the
circumstances at Trafalgar it was in effect nothing
less than a courting challenge and to of death; and
death it came; and that but for his bravado
Nelson the victorious Admiral might possibly have
survived the battle, and so,
instead of having his sagatious sagacious
7 16 5 9 64 dying injunctions injudiciously overruled
by his immediate successor in command
he himself when the battle contest was
decided might have brought the his his
battered shattered shattered shattered ^ fleet to anchor, a proceeding
which would ^ would might have averted the
deplorable loss of life by shipwrck in the tempest ^ in the

elemental tempest that followed the martial
tornado. one.
Well, should we set aside the
more than disputable point whether oweing
for the weather various reasons it was
possible to anchor the fleet, then plausibly
enough the Bethamites of war may
urge the above.
8 65 But the
8 might-have-been is but boggy ground to build
on. And , ^ certainly, in tr foresight as with respect to the large larger issue of an
encounter, and anxious anxious preparations for it—
sounding and buoying the perilous ^ deadly deadly way and
mapping it out, as at Copenhagen—few
commanders have been so painstakingly
circumspec circumspect as this re same unrecking reckless reckless ^ ^ declarer
of his person in battle fi in fight.

Personal prudence even when
dictated by quite other than selfish considerations
surely is no special virtue in a military
man; while an excessive such as was Nelson's love of glory,^
energizing to impassioning ^ a less vital burning impulse the utter most the honest his the honest
heart-felt English sense of duty, is the first.
If the name of Wellington is not so
much of a trumpet to the blood as the simpler
9 66 name Nelson , the reason for this may
perhaps be inferred from the above.
Alfred in his ode funeral ode on
the victor of Waterloo ventures not to
call him the greatest soldier of all time,
tho' in the same ode he invokes Nelson
as "the greatest sailor since the world
began." If, as is not improbable, th
with the mysterious pres
At Trafalgar Nelson on the
brink of recei of opening the fight
sat down and wrote his w last
brief will and testament. If under
a the presentiment of a the most magnificent of all
victory victories to be crowned by his own
glorious death, a sort of priestly
motive led him to dress his
10 67 person in the jewelled vouchers of
his own shining deeds; if thus to
have adorned himself for the altar
and the sacrifice ^ were indeed vainglory, then affectation
and fustian is each ^ more heroic line
in the great epics and dramas, since
in such verse lines the poet but
embodies in verse those exaltations
and sublimities of sentiment that a
nature like Nelson, the opportunity
being given, vitalizes into acts. —//—