Admiral Nelson is considered by some to be the greatest naval commander in the history of modern sea warfare. To this day his tactics are studied from Anapolis to Portsmouth, and his life is recounted by no less than one thousand biographies. Admiral Nelson was known for his fearlessness in the face of death, his creative seafaring against insurmountable odds, and his resolute leadership. This genuine hero of England lost an arm in his thirties, an eye in his early forties, and eventually his life in the Battle at Trafalgar that ultimately saved England from Napolean's planned invasion of the island.
There was a short paragraph in Adkin's new book that caught my attention the other evening as I read it. It seems that Admiral Nelson strayed from his marriage vows on regular occasions, and even had a longstanding affair with Emma Hamilton, the wife of the English Ambassador to Sicily, by whom Lord Nelson fathered a child. Adkin's said that the people of England were aware of their hero's moral failure, but . . .
"The relationship between Nelson and Emma has often been portrayed as that of a vulnerable hero seduced by a calculating courtesan -- a view that stemmed from the Victorian need to explain away a 'fault' in an otherwise exemplary man. The truth was somewhat different."
I think there is something in all of us that leads us to often turn a blind eye to the faults of our heros. There is even a blatant attempt by some to cover up the moral ineptitude of our beloved leaders. It's as if we carry the Victorian attitude, "Those who have led us so effectively cannot have a penchant for inappropriate behavior, for if that were the case, how could they have accomplished all the great things they have done?"
It can be said that Admiral Nelson was a great commander, but it cannot be said he was a great man. May Christian people never be blinded by the world's tendency to turn a blind eye toward unethical behavior or immoral activity simply because the perpetrator of such activity is considered a hero. And may those of us who are considered Christian leaders never fall into the trap of living like Lord Nelson, growing in fame and reputation for our successes, but neglecting the more personal issues of integrity, faithfulness and moral fortitude.
"I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of power, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside me." Abraham Lincoln