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Horatio Nelson

Date de naissance: 29. septembre 1758
Date de décès: 21. octobre 1805
Autres noms:Lord Horatio Nelson

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Horatio Nelson, 1er vicomte Nelson, duc de Bronte, né le 29 septembre 1758 à Burnham Thorpe et mort le 21 octobre 1805 au large du cap de Trafalgar, est un vice-amiral britannique. Il s'est illustré pendant les guerres de la Révolution française et napoléoniennes notamment à la bataille de Trafalgar, où il remporte une victoire décisive pour la Grande-Bretagne, qui inaugure la suprématie de la Royal Navy, mais y perd la vie. Il est couramment appelé l’amiral Nelson par les Français et Lord Nelson par les Anglo-Saxons.

Nelson saura utiliser un large éventail de tactiques, sans rester prisonnier de schémas traditionnels au contraire de nombre de ses collègues, ce qui lui vaut une réputation d'officier insubordonné. Son coup d'œil et sa faculté d'adaptation lui permettent d'agir très rapidement, prenant souvent de vitesse ses adversaires. Il a le don d'inciter ses hommes à donner le meilleur d'eux-mêmes. Il attire le dévouement et la loyauté de ses subordonnés et en retour leur laisse une grande liberté d'action. Son courage physique dans les combats et l'image d'héroïsme que lui valent ses nombreuses blessures en font de son vivant même une figure vénérée par la population britannique.

En 1798, alors qu'il est marié depuis 1787, Nelson a une liaison passionnée avec Emma Hamilton, l'épouse de l'ambassadeur britannique à Naples, William Hamilton. Emma devient sa maîtresse, vit ouvertement avec lui à son retour en Angleterre et lui donne une fille, Horatia.

Au moment de sa mort en 1805, Nelson est considéré comme un héros et reçoit des funérailles nationales. De nombreux monuments célèbrent sa mémoire, notamment la colonne Nelson au cœur de Trafalgar Square à Londres.

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Citations Horatio Nelson

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„Thank God, I have done my duty.“

— Horatio Nelson
Statement among his final dying words.

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„My character and good name are in my own keeping. Life with disgrace is dreadful. A glorious death is to be envied,“

— Horatio Nelson
Context: The lives of all are in the hands of Him who knows best whether to preserve it or no, and to His will do I resign myself. My character and good name are in my own keeping. Life with disgrace is dreadful. A glorious death is to be envied, and, if anything happens to me recollect death is a debt we must all pay, and whether now or in a few years hence can be but of little consequence. Letter from Agamemnon at sea (10 March 1795), in Nelson's letters to his wife and other documents, 1785-1831 edited by Navy Records Society, p. 199

„I cannot, if I am in the field for glory, be kept out of sight.“

— Horatio Nelson
Context: !-- Had all my actions, my dearest Fanny, been gazetted, not one fortnight would have passed during the whole war without a letter from me: one day or other I will have a long Gazette to myself; I feel that such an opportunity will be given me. --> I cannot, if I am in the field for glory, be kept out of sight. Probably my services may be forgotten by the great, by the time I get Home; but my mind will not forget, nor cease to feel, a degree of consolation and of applause superior to undeserved rewards. Wherever there is anything to be done, there Providence is sure to direct my steps. Credit must be given me in spite of envy. <!-- Even the French respect me: their Minister at Genoa, in answering a Note of mine, when returning some wearing apparel that had been taken, said, ‘Your Nation, Sir, and mine, are made to show examples of generosity, as well as of valour, to all the people of the earth. Letter to his wife, Frances Nelson (2 August 1796), as published in The Dispatches and Letters of Vice Admiral Lord Viscount Nelson with Notes (1845) edited Nicholas Harris Nicolas, Vol. II : 1795-1797, p. 203

„To leave off action"? Well, damn me if I do! You know, Foley, I have only one eye,— I have a right to be blind sometimes . . . I really do not see the signal!“

— Horatio Nelson
Context: To leave off action"? Well, damn me if I do! You know, Foley, I have only one eye,— I have a right to be blind sometimes... I really do not see the signal! At the battle of Copenhagen, Ignoring Admiral Parker's signal to retreat, holding his telescope up to his blind eye, and proceeding to victory against the Danish fleet. (2 April 1801); as quoted in Life of Nelson, Ch. 7

„Wherever there is anything to be done, there Providence is sure to direct my steps.“

— Horatio Nelson
Context: !-- Had all my actions, my dearest Fanny, been gazetted, not one fortnight would have passed during the whole war without a letter from me: one day or other I will have a long Gazette to myself; I feel that such an opportunity will be given me. --> I cannot, if I am in the field for glory, be kept out of sight. Probably my services may be forgotten by the great, by the time I get Home; but my mind will not forget, nor cease to feel, a degree of consolation and of applause superior to undeserved rewards. Wherever there is anything to be done, there Providence is sure to direct my steps. Credit must be given me in spite of envy. <!-- Even the French respect me: their Minister at Genoa, in answering a Note of mine, when returning some wearing apparel that had been taken, said, ‘Your Nation, Sir, and mine, are made to show examples of generosity, as well as of valour, to all the people of the earth. Letter to his wife, Frances Nelson (2 August 1796), as published in The Dispatches and Letters of Vice Admiral Lord Viscount Nelson with Notes (1845) edited Nicholas Harris Nicolas, Vol. II : 1795-1797, p. 203

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„I have not shed a tear for years before the 21st of October and since, whenever alone, I am quite like a child.“

— Horatio Nelson
Context: Let the country mourn their hero; I grieve for the loss of the most fascinating companion I ever conversed with — the greatest and most simple of men — one of the nicest and most innocent — interesting beyond all, on shore, in public and even in private life. Men are not always themselves and put on their behaviour with their clothes, but if you live with a man on board a ship for years; if you are continually with him in his cabin, your mind will soon find out how to appreciate him. I could for ever tell you the qualities of this beloved man. I have not shed a tear for years before the 21st of October and since, whenever alone, I am quite like a child. Alexander Scott, the chaplain who attended to Nelson at his death, as quoted in Trafalgar: An Eyewitness History (2005) edited by Tom Pocock, p. 154; also in Seize, Burn, Or Sink: The Thoughts and Words of Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson (2007) edited by Steven E. Maffeo, p. 588

„In honour I gained them, and in honour I will die with them.“

— Horatio Nelson
Life of Nelson (ch. 9), when asked to cover the stars on his uniform to hide his rank during battle.

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