Pleasing in his address and conversation, always kind and thoughtful in his treatment of the men and boys under him, Nelson was the best-loved man in the British navy,—nay, in all England.
When he was appointed to the command of the Boreas, a ship of twenty-eight guns, then bound for the Leeward Islands, he had thirty midshipmen under him. When any of them, at first, showed any timidity about going up the masts, he would say, by way of encouragement, “I am going a race to the masthead, and beg that I may meet you there.” And again he would say cheerfully, that “any person was to be pitied who could fancy there was any danger, or even anything disagreeable, in the attempt.”
“Your Excellency must excuse me for bringing one of my midshipmen with me,” he said to the governor of Barbados, who had invited him to dine. “I make it a rule to introduce them to all the good company I can, as they have few to look up to besides myself during the time they are at sea.” Was it any wonder that his “middies” almost worshiped him?
This thoughtfulness in small matters is always characteristic of truly great, large-souled men. Another distinguishing mark of Nelson’s greatness was that he ruled by love rather than fear.
When, at the age of forty-seven, he fell mortally wounded at the battle of Trafalgar, all England was plunged into grief. The crowning victory of his life had been won, but his country was inconsolable for the loss of the noblest of her naval heroes.
“The greatest sea victory that the world had ever known was won,” says W. Clark Russell, “but at such a cost, that there was no man throughout the British fleet—there was no man indeed in all England—but would have welcomed defeat sooner than have paid the price of this wonderful conquest.”
The last words of the hero who had won some of the greatest of England’s sea fights were, “Thank God, I have done my duty.”
In the year 1866 David Livingstone, the great African explorer and missionary, started on his last journey to Africa. Three years passed away during which no word or sign from him had reached his friends. The whole civilized world became alarmed for his safety. It was feared that his interest in the savages in the interior of Africa had cost him his life.
Newspapers and clergymen in many lands were clamoring for a relief expedition to be sent out in search of him. Royal societies, scientific associations, and the British government were debating what steps should be taken to find him. But they were very slow in coming to any conclusion, and while they were weighing questions and discussing measures, an energetic American settled the matter offhand.
This was James Gordon Bennett, Jr., manager of the New York Herald and son of James Gordon Bennett, its editor and proprietor.
Mr. Bennett was in a position which brought him into contact with some of the cleverest and most enterprising young men of his day. From all those he knew he singled out Henry M. Stanley for the difficult and perilous task of finding Livingstone.