Quotes of Horatio Nelson
Biography of Admiral Horatio
I could not tread these perilous paths in safety, if I
did not keep a saving sense of humor.
country will, I believe, sooner forgive an officer for
attacking an enemy than for letting it alone.
3 May 1794, the attack on Bastin.
cannot, if I am in the field of glory, be kept out of
sight: wherever there is anything to be done, there Providence
is sure to direct my steps.
The Business of the English commander-in-chief being first
to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous
terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close
on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and
secondly to continue them there until the business is
It is warm work; and this day may be the last to any of
us at a moment. But mark you! I would not be elsewhere
- at the Battle of Copenhagen.
affairs require desperate measures.
Something must be left to chance; nothing is sure in a
sea fight above all.
- Before Trafalgar.
My character and good name are in my own keeping. Life
with disgrace is dreadful. A glorious death is to be envied.
- 10 March 1795.
If a man consults whether he is to fight, when he has
the power in his own hands, it is certain that his opinion
is against fighting.
- August 1801.
If I had been censured every time I have run my ship,
or fleets under my command, into great danger, I should
have long ago been out of the Service and never in the
House of Peers.
is no way of dealing with the Frenchman but to knock him
down - to be civil to them is to be laughed at. Why they
11 Jan 1798 after surrender of Capua.
is the great business of a sea officer; all private considerations
must give way to it, however painful it may be.
- letter to Frances Nisbet.
Firstly you must always implicitly obey orders, without
attempting to form any opinion of your own regarding their
propriety. Secondly, you must consider every man your
enemy who speaks ill of your king; and thirdly you must
hate a Frenchman as you hate the devil.
- to a midshipman in 1793 aboard the Agamemnon.
God I have done my duty.
- 21 October 1805, while dying.
England Expects that every man will do his duty.
- before Trafalgar.
I can do no more. We must trust to the Great Disposer
of all events and the justice of our cause. I thank God
for this opportunity of doing my duty.
- just after his England expects signal.
First gain the victory and then make the best use of it
- before the battle of the Nile 1 August
Recollect that you must be a seaman to be an officer and
also that you cannot be a good officer without being a
My greatest happiness is to serve my gracious King and
Country and I am envious only of glory; for if it be a
sin to covet glory I am the most offending soul alive.
- letter to Lady Hamilton, 1800.
The Neapolitan officers did not lose much honour, for
God knows they had not much to lose - but they lost all
- 1798 after French rout of Neapolitan army.
The bravest man feels an anxiety 'circa praecordia' as
he enters the battle, but he dreads disgrace more.
Unfit as my ship was, I had nothing left for the honour
of our country but to sail, which I did in two hours afterward.
When I am without orders and unexpected occurrences arrive
I shall always act as I think the honour and glory of
my King and Country demand. But in case signals can neither
be seen or perfectly understood, no captain can do very
wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy.
Gentlemen, when the enemy is committed to a mistake we
must not interrupt him too soon.
Never break the neutrality of a port or place, but never
consider as neutral any place from whence an attack is
allowed to be made.
To obey orders is all perfection. To serve my King and
destroy the French, I consider as the great order of all,
from which little ones spring; and if one of these militate
against it (for who can tell exactly at a distance), I
go back and obey the great order and object, to down -
down with the damned French villains! My blood boils at
the name of a Frenchman! Down, down with the French! …
is my constant prayer.
I have always been a quarter of an hour before my time
and it has made a man of me.
My seamen are now what British seamen ought to be … almost
invincible; they really mind shot no more than peas.
Time is everything; five minutes make the difference between
victory and defeat.
Buonaparte has often made his boast that our fleet would
be worn out by keeping the sea and that his was kept in
order and increasing by staying in port; but know he finds,
I fancy, if Emperors hear the truth, that his fleet suffers
more in a night than ours in one year.
I cannot command winds and weather.
Let me alone: I have yet my legs and one arm. Tell the
surgeon to make haste and his his instruments. I know
I must lose my right arm, so the sooner it's off the better.
after being wounded during the attack on Santa Cruz de