Free Nelson by John Sugden

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Authors: John Sugden
rise to significance. Thecampaigns of the Nile, Copenhagen and Trafalgar, as well as the notorious affair with Emma Hamilton, must remain waiting in the wings.
    In writing this book I have tried to balance the needs of scholars and intelligent lay readers; Nelson, after all, always belonged to the public at large rather than to any narrow elite. The words of a favourite novelist, L. P. Hartley, have been one guide. ‘The past is a foreign country,’ he famously remarked, ‘they do things differently there.’ Hartley’s wisdom not only warned us that historical men and women must primarily be judged by the practices, attitudes and values of their own time and place, and not ours, a truth understood by all good historians, but suggested the path of the historical biographer. Like the foreign guide, we must lead readers gently through an alien world. Footnotes are a particular difficulty in a work of this kind. Some will have wanted more, while others are quickly intimidated by pages of apparently meaningless dates and docket numbers, and I have had to economise. To save space to source quotations and identify the most useful or unusual of the extensive manuscript materials on which this book is largely based, I have reduced references to the published documents in Nicolas and Naish. These last are easy to find, as both editors generally arranged their material in chronological order. On the other hand, the published transcripts contain errors, sometimes many errors, and where practicable I have worked from originals. Most of the manuscript files also employ a rough date order, but additional clarification has sometimes been necessary.
    Such a project necessarily incurs many debts, and it is pleasing to record here the names of those who assisted. As usual the staffs of many institutions extended hospitality and information during my search for material, and I would like to thank the Archives Nationales du Quebec; Linda Bankier of the Berwick-upon-Tweed Record Office; the British Library, London; the British Newspaper Library, Colindale, London; Roger Bettridge, County Archivist, and the staff of the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies, Aylesbury; Jane Smith, the Burrell Collection, Glasgow; the Central Register Office, Southport, Merseyside; Claire Bechu of the Centre Historique des Archives Nationales, Paris; the City Museum and Records Office, Portsmouth; John C. Dann, Barbara DeWolfe and John C. Harriman who ‘welcomed me aboard’ at the William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and introduced me to the most civilised tradition I have ever met in an archive – the mandatory break for midmorning English tea; James R. Sewell, City Archivist at the Corporationof London Records Office; Dr Jane Cunningham, librarian at the Courtauld Institute of Art; Martine de Boisdeffre, Direction des Archives de France, Paris; Janie C. Morris, librarian in the Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collections Library, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina; David Beasley, librarian of the Goldsmiths’ Company, London; Stephen Freeth, Keeper of Manuscripts at the Guildhall Library, Aldermanbury, London; the John Hay Library, Brown University, Rhode Island; Jennie Rathbun, Reference Assistant in the Houghton Library of the Harvard College Library, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Gayle M. Barkley of the Department of Manuscripts in the Huntington Library, San Marino, California; the Institute of Historical Research, London; Rosemary Reed, the Central Reference Library, Kingston-upon-Hull; H. M. Gilles, Emeritus Professor, and Dr Geoff Gill, Reader, both at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, the University of Liverpool; the London Library; Josh Graml of the Mariner’s Museum, Newport News, Virginia, a self-confessed fan of ‘Baron Crocodile’; Mrs Pia Crowley of the Mercers’ Company, London; Leslie Fields, Associate Curator, the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York City; Sandra Burrows of the newspaper division of the

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