Lady Hamilton – Horatio Nelson: In England (part 25) 

Arriving in England, Nelson received a hero’s welcome from the people, while Emma had a cooler reception, also because she could barely conceal her pregnancy.

She had never been unfaithful to Sir William since she had become his mistress in 1787, and then his wife four years later. Nelson too, in his own way, had been faithful to his wife, that is, in the way male fidelity was understood at the time: restricting himself to prostitutes.
Nelson and Emma shared a very emotional temperament, unlimited energy, ambition and craving for fame. Their emotions had been heightened by fleeing Naples and fighting the French, and as a result the two fell in love.

Now Emma was about seven months pregnant with Nelson’s child, but she tried to hide her condition by wearing the high-waisted dresses that were fashionable at the time.

When Nelson’s wife saw her, she was immediately aware of her condition, and this made her deeply unhappy. However, she wasn’t absolutely willing to accept the relationship and play the part of the compliant spouse, as Sir William Hamilton was doing.

Frances Nelson had only seen her husband for seven months in the last seven years,
Apparently unaware of her husband’s betrayal, Fanny had begun an exchange of letters with Emma and had even written to a friend, that “Sir W. and Lady Hamilton’s kindness, attention and real friendship, has been great indeed just such as yours.”

But soon she started to realize that Lady Hamilton had become more to her husband than a caring friend.
By the time they arrived in England, nearly everyone knew of their affair, and polite society was scandalized.

Lady Nelson had to follow the “Tria” as they attended parties and theatre performances, and after a fortnight of this impossible life, a further reference made by her husband to “dear Lady Hamilton” was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Some historians say she gave him an ultimatum:
“You must give her up or me”, to which the man, in a rage, retorted:
“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 admiration.”

He then decided to separate from his wife, and never saw her again. Frances was heartbroken, but unaware that she was no longer expected to take an active part in her husband’s life, and, when at sea, continued to write to him as if nothing had happened, and to send him, as she used to, copies of British newspapers.

She kept trying to bring about a reconciliation and repeating her willingness to forgive him, going so far as to believe that she was responsible for the coldness between them. Most of Nelson’s family and friends also seemed to encourage her to persevere in her attempts to win her husband back, but her offers were repeatedly rejected, with growing acrimony.

Emma, for her part, began to ridicule her and, from then on, she did all she could to tarnish Frances’s name.
She scorned her using the cruel nickname of “vile Tom Tit” referring to her way of walking. Lady Nelson had rheumatism in her legs, and was forced to walk somewhat awkwardly like a bird, a titmouse.
She also tried to disgrace her by calling her “…a very wicked artful woman…a wicked false malicious wretch who rendered Nelson’s days wretched and his nights miserable.”

Emma worked hard to bring out her version of the story, one in which Frances was cast as the villainess and, despite the caution of some historians, this biased version still appears in some biographies.

In 1801, shortly after returning to England, Nelson was sent back to sea: England seemed eager to separate him from Emma Hamilton and he seemed eager to get back to sea, away from the increasing complexity of his private life.

to be continued

Arrivati in Inghilterra, Nelson fu accolto dal popolo come un eroe, mentre Emma ebbe un benvenuto più freddo anche perché riusciva a malapena a celare la sua gravidanza. .

Emma non era mai stata infedele a Sir William da quando era diventata la sua amante nel 1787 e poi sua moglie quattro anni dopo. Anche Nelson, a modo suo, era stato fedele a sua moglie, cioè nella maniera in cui all’epoca veniva considerata la fedeltà maschile: frequentare solo prostitute.
Nelson ed Emma condividevano un temperamento molto emotivo, una grande energia, ambizione e fame di fama. Le loro emozioni erano state intensificate dalla fuga da Napoli e dalla lotta contro i francesi e la conseguenza fu che i due si innamorarono.

Adesso Emma era incinta di circa sette mesi del figlio di Nelson, ma cercava di nascondere il suo stato indossando gli abiti a vita alta che erano di moda al tempo.

Quando la moglie di Nelson la vide, si rese immediatamente conto delle sue condizioni, e la cosa la rese profondamente infelice. Tuttavia non era assolutamente disposta ad accettare quella relazione e interpretare la parte del coniuge compiacente come stava facendo Sir William.

Negli ultimi sette anni Frances Nelson aveva visto il marito solo per sette mesi ed era stata apparentemente all’oscuro del suo tradimento. Aveva persino iniziato uno scambio epistolare con Emma, arrivando a scrivere ad un amico: “La gentilezza, l’attenzione e la vera amicizia di Sir W. e Lady Hamilton sono state davvero grandiose proprio come la tua.”
Poi piano piano si era resa conto che, per il marito, Lady Hamilton era diventata qualcosa di più che una semplice amica premurosa.

Quando arrivarono in Inghilterra, quasi tutti erano a conoscenza della loro relazione e la buona società ne era scandalizzata.
Lady Nelson doveva seguire i tre mentre partecipavano a feste e assistevano a spettacoli teatrali e dopo due settimane di questa vita impossibile, un ulteriore riferimento fatto dal marito alla “cara Lady Hamilton” fece traboccare il vaso.
Alcuni storici dicono che gli diede un ultimatum:
“Devi rinunciare a lei o a me”, al che l’uomo, infuriato, ribatté:
“Attenta, Fanny, a quello che dici. Ti amo sinceramente, ma non posso dimenticare i miei obblighi verso Lady Hamilton né parlare di lei se non con affetto e ammirazione.”

Decise quindi di separarsi dalla moglie, e non la rivide mai più. Fanny aveva il cuore spezzato, ma non si rendeva conto che era stata esclusa dalla vita del marito, e, quando fu in mare, continuò a scrivergli come se nulla fosse accaduto e a inviargli, come era solita fare, copie dei giornali britannici.

Cercò in vari modi di giungere a una riconciliazione e continuava a ripetergli la sua disponibilità a perdonarlo, arrivando al punto di credere di essere lei la responsabile della freddezza che si era instaurata tra loro. Anche la maggior parte dei famigliari e degli amici di Nelson sembrava incoraggiarla a perseverare nei suoi tentativi di riconquistare il marito, ma le sue offerte furono sempre respinte, con crescente asprezza.

Emma, da parte sua, iniziò a metterla in ridicolo e, da quel momento in poi, fece tutto il possibile per infangarne il nome.
La derideva usando il crudele soprannome di “infame Tom Tit” riferendosi al suo modo di camminare. Lady Nelson soffriva infatti di reumatismi alle gambe ed era costretta a camminare in modo un po’ goffo come un uccello, una cincia (titmouse).
Cercò anche di infangarne l’immagine definendola “… una donna astuta molto malvagia … una malvagia falsa spietata disgraziata che rendeva i giorni di Nelson miserabili e le notti infelici”.

Emma lavorò sodo per far emergere la sua versione della storia, quella in cui Frances era la cattiva e, nonostante la cautela di alcuni storici, questa è la versione di parte che appare ancora in alcune biografie.

Nel 1801, poco dopo essere tornato in Inghilterra, Nelson fu rispedito in mare: l’Inghilterra sembrava desiderosa di allontanarlo da Emma Hamilton e lui sembrava ansioso di tornare in mare, lontano dalla crescente complessità della sua vita privata.

continua

Image:  “Rear-Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson” by Lemuel Francis Abbott – 1799 – Royal Museums Greenwich

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59 thoughts on “Lady Hamilton – Horatio Nelson: In England (part 25) 

    1. Unfortunately, history has blamed her for the failure of their marriage, also because Nelson destroyed all the letters he received, but lately the correspondence between her and a mutual friend to whom she sometimes reported entire letters sent to her husband was discovered. and the truth came out

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Luisa ! I have heard that the Spanish abuses are quite sweet . And it is said that Earnest Hemingway had learnt Spanish language simply to know , in detail , about the Spanish abuses as such . But here I find English abuses are not less attractive . ‘Vile Tom Tit’ , a cruel name for Lady Nelson by Emma , is not less attractive . Had Lady Nelson be in Naples, Emma in connivance with Queen would have sent her in gallows . In her eyes , Frances Nelson was a very wicked artful woman , though fact was that Frances Nelson was suffering from rheumatism . When Nelson reached England , he received a Hero’s welcome . But Emma had a cooler reception because she concealed her pregnancy by wearing high waisted dresses . Devil ultimately is recognized in whatever robes she/he comes . Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Arbind for sharing your views, which I totally endorse.
      I greatly appreciated this keen observation; If Lady Nelson had been in Naples, Emma in connivance with Queen would have sent her to the gallows.
      Maybe she couldn’t have gone that far, but what you say portrays her feelings perfectly

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What is fascinating is that power corrupt eventually and when you consider her origins, you also see all kinds of sides here. i mean I have totally rooted for her in the past coming from nothing to what she became, BUT I didn’t know all this later bit, largely because it is often airbrushed out the narrative here. So now I am wondering if power corrupted this unconventional woman or she was always a horror out for everything she could get! The true colors just became more apparent. Whatever, this has all been wonderful

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Your narrative opens the doors to a sordid world of those characters, like Nelson, that one had the idea of a life full of adventures and proezas to admire them. Instead, his more personal life is reflected here, which leaves much to be desired. Have a great week Luisa.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think the same as you, dear Manuel. He was a valiant fighter, but also very cruel and disloyal, and he let himself be blinded by his passion for Emma, despising those who could suffer from it
      Wishing you a great week, as well 😘

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my God! Emma was such a cold hearted vamp. Her story began with her being an innocent victim and now she turned into an incarnation of devil . How could she plot against another innocent woman? Luisa, dear. Your blogs are a must read for all. ‘I once again appreciate your excellent research and narrative. ♥️♥️😊😊😊☕

    Liked by 3 people

  4. It continues to amaze me ~ the absolute corruption of the men we choose to adulate.

    If Nelson were a woman, his very first indiscretion would have been his downfall ~ even if never actually made!

    Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette and Zora Neal Hurston all fell beneath spurious charges of sexually assaulting their sons…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Luisa, So much work you have put in to this complicated story! Thank you.

    All I remember of my British schooldays is what a hero Nelson was and how romantic this whole thing with Emma. Reading your post is the first I have ever heard of the name of his abused wife!!

    Today he would have been ousted out of the Navy and sent packing by Metoo!

    This has been a lot of research and precis, no doubt.

    I heard a reminder recently: people tend to listen to podcasts and read posts on blogs once only. They rarely go backwards in time and listen to or read something published earlier.

    I hope, if it suits you, you will revive and revise old posts because there may be gems there which you can find better than we can! And you might have time to do some Christmas shopping also!

    Sarah

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dearest Sarah,
      Thank you so much for your generous appreciation and for always being supportive and encouraging.

      As you have understood, I did a lot of research, even though in the beginning it wasn’t my intention to go that deep. I only knew the romantic side of their passion, but then something made me wonder that maybe there was a darker side, too ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Just excellent! It was wonderful to return to the two main characters, Nelson and Emma and read all about their villainous, scandalous exploits. Totally thrilling! Thank you so much Luisa for continuing this epic saga of their lives. I’m thoroughly enjoying it! Love and light, Deborah.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dire che all’inizio l’avevamo adorata Emma, si è rivelata una persona davvero deludente, scorretta e perfida. Povera Frances Nelson. Ma il karma non è acqua 💧 fresca.
    Grazie cara Luisa, ti abbraccio e ti auguro la buonanotte 🥰😍

    Liked by 1 person

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