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The Life of Horatio Lord Nelson

Chapter 1. 1758 – 1783
Nelson's Birth and Boyhood--He is entered on Board the RAISONABLE-- Goes to the
West Indies in a Merchant-ship; then serves in the TRIUMPH --He sails in Captain
Phipps' Voyage of Discovery--Goes to the East Indies in the SEAHORSE, and returns in
ill Health--Serves as acting Lieutenant in the WORCESTER, and is made Lieutenant into
the LOWESTOFFE, Commander into the BADGER Brig, and Post into the
HINCHINBROKE-- Expedition against the Spanish Main--Sent to the North Seas in the
ALBERMARLE--Services during the American War.
*
HORATIO, son of Edmund and Catherine Nelson, was born September 29, 1758, in the
parsonage-house of Burnham Thorpe, a village in the county of Norfolk, of which his
father was rector. His mother was a daughter of Dr. Suckling, prebendary of
Westminster, whose grandmother was sister of Sir Robert Walpole, and this child was
named after his godfather, the first Lord Walpole. Mrs. Nelson died in 1767, leaving
eight out of eleven children. Her brother, Captain Maurice Suckling, of the navy visited
the widower upon this event, and promised to take care of one of the boys. Three years
afterwards, when HORATIO was only twelve years of age, being at home during the
Christmas holidays, he read in the county newspaper that his uncle was appointed to the
RAISONNABLE, of sixty-four guns."Do, William," said he to a brother who was a year
and a half older than him- self, "write to my father, and tell him that I should like to go to
sea with uncle Maurice." Mr.Nelson was then at Bath, whither he had gone for the
recovery of his health: his circumstances were straitened, and he had no prospect of ever
seeing them bettered: he knew that it was the wish of providing for himself by which
Horatio was chiefly actuated, and did not oppose his resolution; he understood also the
boy's character, and had always said, that in whatever station he might be placed, he
would climb if possible to the very top of the tree. Captain Suckling was written to.
"What," said he in his answer,"has poor Horatio done, who is so weak, that he, above all
the rest, should be sent to rough it out at sea?--But let him come; and the first time we go
into action, a cannon-ball may knock off his head, and provide for him at once."
It is manifest from these words that Horatio was not the boy whom his uncle would have
chosen to bring up in his own profession. He was never of a strong body; and the ague,
which at that time was one of the most common diseases in England, had greatly reduced
his strength; yet he had already given proofs of that resolute heart and nobleness of mind
which, during his whole career of labour and of glory, so eminently distinguished him.
When a mere child, he strayed a-birds'-nesting from his grandmother's house in company
with a cowboy: the dinner-hour elapsed; he was absent, and could not be found; and the
alarm of the family became very great, for they apprehended that he might have been
carried off by gipsies. At length, after search had been made for him in various directions,
he was discovered alone, sitting composedly by the side of a brook which he could not
get over. "I wonder, child," said the old lady when she saw him,"that hunger and fear did
 
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