Horatia Nelson, a gift from Emma, Lady Hamilton, her mother
By Descent to the present owners
Formerly on loan the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
Given by Emma Hamilton to her eight-year old daughter, Horatia Nelson, the presentation on the front fixed endpaper reads "Richmond. August 26th 1809 Given to Horatia Nelson May she be good virtous & have wisdom knowledge & understanding love God & walk in his ways Prays her affectionate E Hamilton Amen".
A contemporary review in the Gentleman's Magazine for October 1807 noted approvingly that the volume was 'printed in a large and clear type, and... ornamented with some appropriate engravings'. The selection was made by Elizabeth Semple, as identified by Marjorie Moon (see John Harris's Books for Youth 1801-1843, 1992, number 746).
This book is a touching relic of a complex and unhappy relationship. Emma never admitted to Horatia that she was her mother, as this carefully worded inscription testifies. Horatia, in turn, "treated Emma as little more than a blowsy governess" (C. Simpson, Emma: The Life of Lady Hamilton (1983), p.209). She was to die unaware that Emma had been more than her guardian. Emma was often ill, increasingly overweight, drinking more heavily, and seriously in debt; she had by this time been forced to sell Merton Place, so she and Horatia were living at Heron Court, Richmond, at a discounted rent courtesty of the aged Marquess of Queensbury, Emma's last admirer. Her poignant hope that Horatia would "love God & walk in his ways" was met insofar as she married a clergyman, but her piety did little to encourage a more sympathetic view of her mother.
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