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From Sail to Steam, Recollections of Naval Life
written by "Mahan, A. T. (Alfred Thayer), 1840-1914"
...y were blemishes, and needed correction, they did not, and do not, to my mind affect the portrait—the conveyance of true personality. Of these errors the most serious, regarded as a fault, was an inadequate study of Nelson's course at Naples in 1799, so sharply challenged at that time and afterwards. I recognized the justice of a criticism which alleged that I had not sufficiently examined the other side of the case, as presented by Italian authors. This I now did, rewriting my account for the second edition. I found no reason to change my estimate of Nelson's conduct, but rather to confirm the favorable aspects; but what was more instructive to me was that even so large an oversight did not when remedied affect the portrait. The personality remained as first conceived; Nelson had acted in character. The same was substantially true of a more pregnant incident, the discovery of a number of his letters to his wife, which had escaped the diligent search made by the editor of his correspondence, Sir Harris Nicolas. After lying concealed for the half-century between Nicolas and myself, they turned up shortly after my book was in print. Here was more self-revelation; how might it modify my picture? The event was ushered in with a great flourish of trumPage 323pets, the walls of Jericho were about to fall, and I own I felt anxious. Some of the letters were published; permission to see the others was refused me. As these have not since been given to the world, I fancy that they sustain the opinion expressed by me on those that were; that beyond emphasizing somewhat his hardness to Lady Nelson during the period of his growing alienation, they add little to the impression before formed. A slight touch of the brush, another line in the face, that is all. The question of Nelson's action at Naples was brought forward in a way which required from me some controversial writing. To this I have no intention of alluding here, beyond stating tha...

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