Wednesday, May 7, 2008

"He was struck with the notion of doing a very gallant thing"

I have decided for my next chapter to write on the naval captain that I mentioned last time. I am currently reading a biography of him written in 1866. It is very interesting as it has many Victorian trappings, and the style of language, 'dear readers', is so different from modern biographies and histories.

It is also very exciting! I have spent most of today nervously reading about the famous battle that this captain was involved in, taking an American ship with great speed, bravery and despite the obviously violent nature of war, compassion. This compassion, however, didn't do him any favours, as he was severely wounded, so that his 'brain was showing', by the very men that he was trying to save, though they were the enemy. After providing his men with a rousing speech which ended "I feel sure you will all do your duty; and remember you have now the blood of hundreds of your country men to avenge!" lead the boarding party onto the enemy ship calling to his men "Follow me who can!". It is fascinating learning more about this man and his naval endeavours, particularly compared to the modest picture he paints of himself in his letters to his wife. It also moved me to read, that when he was wounded and his officers brought him back onto his own ship and undressed him, they found a blue pouch around his neck which contained a lock of his wife's hair, which they saved, cleaned and returned to him.

I still have a lot to do, but am starting to feel excited again about things, which in something so long and potentially drawn out, can only be a good thing.



mscrankypants said...

As much as war sucks, I enjoy reading about gallant people who did their bit for the cause with such style. Got a bit emotional reading about the lock of his wife's hair -- sweet gesture.

HH said...

It is a bit emotional MsC, I just read the actual letter that the lock of hair bit came from (rather than the biographers description). He really was a big softie!

He wrote:

"Oh! my L_____'s little blue satin cover was, with the cherished lock of hair in my bosom when I was wounded, and got stained with my blood, though the hair was preserved dry so that I could kiss it with comfort; and and Lady James has made me another little blue cover for it, exactly like the former, and it lies on my table constantly, to remind me of my L______."

I think this collection of letters were the ones I was most affected by reading when I was in England, there is so much emotion and love between himself and his wife.