“What has poor Horatio done, who is so weak, that he, above all the rest [of your children], should be sent to rough it out at sea? But let him come, and the first time we go into action, a cannonball may knock off his head, and provide for him at once.”
Had Nelson’s uncle, Captain Maurice Suckling, been prophetic in this letter to Nelson’s father, the course of English history subsequent to the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) might well have been quite different from what it has been. The weakness of the twelve-year-old Horatio that Captain Suckling referred to was only physical. Weak though he was, Nelson had already given proof of the resoluteness of heart and nobleness of mind that were to characterize his distinguished career.
Always a stranger to fear and a companion of honor, Nelson led the exemplary life that his father foresaw for his son. Nelson’s father had always marked him for success in whatever profession he might follow. Through his indomitable spirit, his seafaring abilities, and his acumen in personal relationships, Nelson was a lieutenant at nineteen, a captain at twenty-one, and an admiral before he was thirty.
From his maiden voyage to India early in his career, Nelson, reduced almost to a skeleton by tropical disease, was returned home. Dejected by his physical condition and the diminished promise of success in his career, he considered suicide for a time. But from this state of mind he suddenly rallied...
(The entire section is 1550 words.)
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