Posts tagged oh no
Posts tagged oh no
Captain Thomas Masterman Hardy appreciation post
While we commemorate Nelson today, I just wanted to post about Hardy. Because my Hardy feels are easily equal to my Nelson feels, and I think he deserves a look-in. It was Hardy to had to carry on commanding Victory through most of the battle, aware all the while that his friend was dying four decks below.
In many ways, Nelson and Hardy were perfect opposites. Where Nelson was mercurial, excitable, arrogant, and often difficult, Hardy was stoic, unflappable, humble, and reserved. Even physically, they were opposites, Nelson small and thin and sickly, Hardy tall and broad and robust. But their differences complemented each other admirably, and Nelson depended on Hardy’s steady, unassuming fortitude. Hardy himself is supposed to have summed up their relationship, when Nelson asked how they managed on so well despite their differences in temperament, thus: “It is, sir, from my always being first lieutenant when you like to be Captain, and Flag Captain when you have a fancy for being Admiral.”
Hardy probably met Nelson in 1793 while serving as a lieutenant in his squadron, but it wasn’t until 1797 that they became Heterosexual Life Partners. When Nelson ran into the Spanish fleet, Hardy, commanding the captured Santa Sabina, drew them away and fought until he was captured, allowing Nelson to make his escape. It wasn’t long, however, before Hardy was exchanged and rejoined Nelson aboard the Minerve. It was then Nelson’s turn to rescue Hardy. A topman fell overboard and Hardy was sent out in a boat to try to rescue him. At the same time, the Minerve was being pursued by two Spanish ships. Captain George Cockburn suggested withdrawing, essentially leaving Hardy to his fate, but Nelson was having none of that, and declared, “By God, I’ll not lose Hardy, back that mizzen topsail!” This confused the Spanish, who also stopped, giving Hardy enough time to row back to the Minerve (though, sadly, the unlucky topman couldn’t be saved).
Hardy first became Nelson’s flag captain in 1798, when he was promoted to the captaincy of Nelson’s flagship Vanguard after the Nile, when Captain Edward Berry returned to Britain. He followed Nelson to the Foudroyant in 1799. After that, Nelson always requested Hardy as his flag captain, and was disappointed when he couldn’t have him. But even when Hardy couldn’t serve as Nelson’s flag captain, he still assisted him. On the night before the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801, he went out in a boat to take soundings around the Danish fleet, which proved to be of great help: the two ships that went aground during the battle were the only ones that hadn’t followed his recommended route.
Nelson and Hardy transferred to the Victory in 1803, with Hardy proving to be the same loyal friend and invaluable help to Nelson that he had ever been. In a letter to Emma Hamilton, Nelson wrote simply, “Hardy is everything I could wish or desire.”
Perhaps surprisingly, for having such a mild-mannered temperament, Hardy as was a hard (hur hur) disciplinarian. While he was captain of the Victory, no other ship punished its crew more frequently or severely. This hardness, however, was tempered by a very paternalistic concern for the crewmembers’ health and welfare. The health of the men of the Royal Navy was one of the advantages it had over the French and Spanish navies, and in the opinion of the Victory’s surgeon William Beatty, the health of her men was “attributable solely to Captain Hardy’s attention to their subordination, temperance, warm clothing, and cleanliness”.
On the day of the Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805, Hardy stood with Nelson on the quarterdeck of the Victory as she led the weather column towards the enemy line. The wind was low, slowing the advance, and the French and Spanish were already firing heavily on the leading British ships. Captain Blackwood convinced Nelson to let the Temeraire and the Leviathan go ahead, to take the worst of the enemy fire away from the Victory, but when it became clear that Victory was going to pull ahead, Hardy declined to shorten sail, demonstrating his instinctive understanding of Nelson’s mind and, in Beatty’s words, “his ardour to get into battle”.
Victory broke the enemy line at approximately 12.45, coming between the French flagship Bucentaure and the Redoutable, which she laid alongside and engaged. Not half an hour later, Hardy was walking the quarterdeck with Nelson, when he took a few steps, and realised that Nelson was no longer beside him. Turning, he was then faced with the sight of Nelson falling onto his side, having just been struck by a musket-ball fired from the mizzentop of the Redoutable.
“They have done for me at last, Hardy,” said Nelson.
“I hope not,” said Hardy, to which Nelson replied, “Yes, my backbone is shot through.”
Hardy ordered some of the men to carry Nelson below, his face covered with his handkerchief so he wouldn’t be recognised by the rest of the crew. Hardy probably would have wanted to go with him, but his place was on the quarterdeck, commanding the ship, especially now that the fighting was at its height. Victory had engaged the Redoutable so closely that her yards had become entangled with the rigging, and her guns couldn’t even be run out fully. You can only imagine what must have been going through Hardy’s head as he turned to resume his command. Did he know already that Nelson’s wound was fatal, or did he try to tell himself that it wasn’t as bad as Nelson supposed? His naturally stoic demeanour must have been a blessing them in putting on a strong front for the men.
Nelson was taken down to the orlop, where he informed Surgeon Beatty that his wound was fatal. After an examination, Beatty was forced to admit that he was right, but decided to keep this quiet from most of the crew, save for a select few - including Hardy. Yet still Hardy had to remain on the quarterdeck, probably desperate to go below and see his dying friend, but knowing that he was required him to stay where he was. After all, England expected that every man would do his duty.
While Hardy would have been deeply worried for Nelson, Nelson was frantic for him. From his deathbed in a midshipman’s berth, he constantly asked after Hardy, fretting, “Will no one bring Hardy to me? He must be killed; surely he is destroyed”, and refused to be comforted by Purser Walter Burke and Reverend Alexander Scott who attended him, and prompting Beatty to send up constant messages requesting Hardy’s presence on the orlop.
According to Beatty’s account, it was over an hour before Hardy was able to come below. ”How goes the day with us?” asked Nelson. Hardy replied very well, and that about twelve or fourteen of the enemy ships had already been captured, with no British ships lost. Nelson was gratified to hear it, but now he said, “I am a dead man, Hardy.” Hardy obviously refused to believe it, and said that “he hoped Mr. Beatty could yet hold out some prospect of life.” But Nelson knew he was dying, and knew that Beatty knew it, too. In any case, it was time for Hardy to return to the quarterdeck, and the two men shook hands (very Britishly), and Hardy took his leave, no doubt with a heavy heart.
It was another fifty minutes before he could return to Nelson’s side, obviously determined to see him as often as he could. By now, things were looking decisive for the British, and Hardy congratulated him on his victory, certain that fourteen or fifteen enemy ships had now surrendered. “That is well,” said Nelson, probably trying to keep a light mood, “but I bargained for twenty.”
Nelson knew that a storm was threatening, and now he implored, “Anchor, Hardy, anchor!”
Hardy, obviously reluctant to presume evende facto command of the fleet, said tactfully, “I suppose, my Lord, Admiral Collingwood will now take upon himself direction of affairs.”
But Nelson obviously regarded Hardy as his natural successor to the command of battle, and, attempting to raise himself up from his bed, exclaimed, “No, do you anchor, Hardy!”
Now, perhaps exhausted by his exertion, he said, “Don’t throw me overboard, Hardy.” Apparently he had discussed with Hardy his preference to be buried on land - in St. Paul’s Cathedral, or in Burnham Thorpe beside his father - and Hardy understood him: “Oh! No, certainly not.”
Nelson now entrusted to Hardy the care of Emma Hamilton and their daughter Horatia: “Take care of my dear Lady Hamilton; take care of poor Lady Hamilton.” He had said the same thing to Reverend Scott, obviously (and rightly) worried that the codicil he had included in his will, to bequeath Emma and Horatia “to the nation” wouldn’t be enough, and now implored his closest friends to care for them.
Now he said it: “Kiss me, Hardy.”
In years to come, Victorian historians would panic at the thought of two men kissing, and try to insist that he had said, “Kismet, Hardy.” Kate Williams, in her biography of Emma Hamilton, suggested that he might have been trying to say, “Kiss Emma for me, Hardy.” But both Rev. Scott and Dr. Beatty said that he said, “Kiss me, Hardy”, and Hardy was obviously under the impression that that’s what he said, for he knelt down and kissed Nelson on the cheek.
“Now I am satisfied,” said Nelson. “Thank God I have done my duty.”
This kiss has gone down in history as one of the iconic moments of British history, but in all honesty, it’s the part that comes next that moves me to tears. After kissing Nelson, Hardy stood again, looking down at Nelson “in silent contemplation”. Maybe he was worried that Nelson would think he had only kissed him because he was asked, maybe he just wanted to affirm the gesture, or maybe he knew instinctively that this was his last chance to let Nelson know what he meant to him. Whatever his reason, he knelt at Nelson’s side once more, and kissed him on the forehead. Nelson stirred and asked who it was.
“It is Hardy.”
“God bless you, Hardy.”
This meeting lasted about eight minutes, and Hardy could spare no more time, and was forced to return to the quarterdeck. It was the last time he saw Nelson alive.
Nelson died at half-past four in the afternoon, after holding on for three long, agonising hours, long enough to know that he had won the battle and saved his beloved country from the threat of a seaborne invasion. The British victory was resounding, but shadowed with grief at the loss of their beloved commander. It’s reported that men broke down and wept openly at the news. Captains rowed across to each other’s ships to offer their condolences to each other. With a storm fast approaching and the Victory badly battered from the fight, Hardy was remained as steadfast as ever, but even if he didn’t show his emotions, they were only too easy to guess. Captain Edward Codrington of the Orion wrote to his wife, “Poor Hardy has been here […] I feel for him more, perhaps, than our short acquaintance justifies.”
Hardy himself, ever reserved, wrote simply, “It has cost the country a life that no money can replace, and one whose death I shall forever mourn.”
Hardy left Victory in January 1806 when she had returned to Portsmouth, and was one of the chief mourners at Nelson’s state funeral, carrying the Banner of the Emblem. He was created a baronet the same year, and went on to have a distinguished career, eventually becoming First Sea Lord of the Admiralty in 1830.
In 1838, Hardy was invited to join the organising committee for a monument to Nelson’s memory (the one that was to become Nelson’s Column), but dropped out after just two meetings. Considering his usually diligent and dependable nature, that seems strange. Maybe he didn’t have the energy for it, or maybe it was too painful for him.
What is known is that Hardy cherished Nelson’s memory for the rest of his life, and when he died in 1839, a miniature of Nelson was placed in his coffin with him. Subsequent biographers, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, constantly referred to him as “Nelson’s Hardy”, a poignant testament to the closeness of their friendship.
Hardy may not have been the flashy bastard that Nelson was, but in his own way, he was equally as BAMFy, and he deserves to be remembered on Trafalgar Day, too. I think Nelson would expect nothing less.
…Well, that was a lot longer than I’d meant it to be. I JUST HAVE LOTS OF HARDY FEELS. And so should you.
It is Shadow and Robot.
21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity
People aren’t always awful. Sometimes, they’re maybe even just a little bit wonderful. Here are 21 pictures to remind you of that fact .. for more click..
gyzym: stiles will NEVER trust derek until scott does
nat: true true true
nat: but it still hurts me
gyzym: like i love stiles, but stiles has TWO PEOPLE
gyzym: HE REALLY TRUSTS
gyzym: AND ONE OF THEM IS HIS DAD, WHO HE DOESN’T REALLY TRUST
gyzym: SO IT’S REALLY
gyzym: thus, so long as scott doesn’t trust derek, stiles won’t either
gyzym: because that relationship is too important to him
It makes a considerable difference to me, having someone with me on whom I can thoroughly rely.
“I really don’t know what ‘I love you’ means. I think it means ‘don’t leave me here alone.’”
- Neil Gaiman
Benedict Cumberbatch #03