Portsmouth Retains Its Nautical Character and Wellington’s Take on the Immortal Memory


Harbour rendevous.

As seen in the photographs, Portsmouth very much retains its nautical character.  There are far fewer pubs now than there were in the past, but when walking in the Old Port I could get a sense of how rowdy Portsmouth must have been when the fleet was in.


HMS Warrior, now a museum ship


The “Uncle Bill” work boat


Boats in the Camber


Fortitude Cottage — a former pub?


Nelson’s famous contemporary, whose name probably graces as many English pubs as Nelson.  See comment below for Wellington’s view of Nelson.


Anglican Cathedral Tower


Cross-Channel Ferry


Bridge Tavern with Early Morning Light


The Dolphin — Oldest Remaining Pub


Dockyard Clock Tower


The Still & West and “Willy” the artist’s house beyond


HMS Warrior Flying the Red Ensign


Fishing Boats at the Camber


Building near the Spinnaker Tower and the Gunwharf Quays retail complex. I couldn’t identify it, but it must have had a dockyard connection. It now appears to be condominiums — a good example of adaptive use of a historic building.

The Nelson-Wellington connection is intriguing and I will divert from Portsmouth because it illuminates the Nelson dual character more fully and emphasizes the difficulty of separating the “true” immortal memory from the legendary one. In London, Waterloo Place is adjacent to Trafalgar Square, and the former was established before the latter.  I suppose surviving one’s epic victory and becoming Prime Minister establishes a “first in time” right, but the fame of Nelson’s place in the Capitol has certainly surpassed Wellington’s.

The two famous men met only once, shortly before Nelson set sail for Trafalgar in September of 1805.  Wellington’s commentary on the chance meeting shows Nelson’s contradictory personalities.  They both were killing time in the same Colonial Office waiting room, awaiting the pleasure of Secretary of State for War and Colonial Affairs Viscount Castlereagh.  Wellington, who was only Sir Arthur Wellesley then, had recently returned from successful campaigning in India and was about to embark on the Peninsular Campaign that earned him his dukedom and eventually led to Waterloo.  Wellington also divined Nelson’s dual character.  During the first part of their conversation Nelson talked only about himself, and, according to Wellington, in “a style so vain and silly as to surprise and disgust me.”  As the conversation went on, writes Wellington, “something I happened to say made him guess that I was somebody,” Nelson left the room and came back a different man. Wellington surmised that he had asked and found out the identity of the young general sharing the waiting room and thereafter Nelson’s “charlatan style” vanished and Nelson “talked like an officer and a statesman”, a “really superior man,” instead of someone with “a light and trivial character.”   Wellington never suffered fools gladly and no doubt he wrote this character portrait with an eye for the historical record.  It shows, however, that part of Nelson that demanded attention, reveled in public adoration, and sought to impress.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s