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Contact and navigation 14 February, 2010

Posted by Molly Joyful in General.

I’ve added a CONTACT page to this blog. It contains some bits and pieces about myself, my e-mail address, posting rules and some information on navigating this blog and subscribing to feeds, posts and comments.



1. David Page - 19 February, 2010

I like the Collingwood cheese article, what a great idea and the caricature of the admiral is brilliant. Any product would help to bring this great hero to the nation’s attention. my wife had never heard of him! and she is quite well read.

Molly Joyful - 20 February, 2010

Of all the “Collingwoodia” out there, the cheese is by now my favourite; that caricature is fantastic.

His personality and achievements certainly should have secured Collingwood a place in the public’s memory, but for that, he was neither glamorous nor eccentric nor ruthless enough. That’s unfortunately the way history works. So it makes me very happy to see this “Collingwood Revival”, and I hope many, many people will (re-)discover this great man. By mean of books or cheese, I don’t mind! :-)

Granville Thompson - 21 February, 2010

Keep a sharp eye – my colleague Captain Rotheram has made a fair attempt to capture my likeness of late….

Granville Thompson - 21 February, 2010

I am told he has likewise sketched the Admiral…

ShipRat - 21 February, 2010

I’m all ears. Eyes.

Molly Joyful - 23 February, 2010

Found it! One of the first things I noticed on the website; it’s the one on the “Young Tars” page, aye? Very neat! The name “Rotheram” sounds very familiar; has he illustrated a book, maybe? (I’m sorry if this should be a daft question everybody but me knows the answer to; I have a terrible memory for names…)

Which reminds me: where may we find your portrait?

Jen - 24 February, 2010

Rotheram was the man who had grown so big and knew so little, wasn’t he? :)

ShipRat - 24 February, 2010

Yes, and Collingwood illustrated his not-so-pleasant sarcastic side: in effect he told his flag captain Rotherham how fat and stupid he was – openly, in front of officers and/or crew. In the most elegant manner, of course, with a sardonic bow and doffing of hat!
AFAIK they were scarcely on speaking terms right before Trafalgar -not an ideal situation. It’s reported that Nelson ordered C. and Rotherham to make up, framing it in a half joking manner: “There is the enemy! [each other] Shake hands!” And they did – shamefaced, no doubt.
(I wonder if Nelson’s comment in his last (?) letter to Collingwood, “We can have no little jealousies”, refers to the friction with Rotherham.)

And then the battle eclipsed any petty differences…

Granville Thompson - 25 February, 2010

Ha! 10/10 for Jen; 9.5 / 10 for ShipRat… ( half point deducted for misspelt surname ).

Given that it is a cartoon of the Admiral, might we see it perhaps as “Rotheram’s revenge…..!!

The cartoonist is of my acquaintance, but be assured, most certainly is not me. He has a far more skilled hand than I. He also has a soft spot for Rotheram, feeling (as you hint above) that, although a difficult man to work with, he was undoubtedly experienced, brave and capable and that he received a raw deal and uneccessarily cruel report from Collingwood. It is notable however that Collingwood took him with him when he moved to the Royal Sovereign, so he must have seen some decent qualities in him…

Molly Joyful - 26 February, 2010

D’ooooooooooooooh! Of course! :-D Hehe, where’s my dunce cap…

2. ShipRat - 26 February, 2010

Edward ROTHERAM… (my apologies to you, sir, wherever you are – 200 years later and people still can’t spell your name right)

…. Rotheram gets 20 out of 10 for not giving Collingwood a pop in the jaw.

Rotheram can entertain in his own right. He jotted down some sort of commonplace book during his years at sea and the bits I’ve read are pretty funny.

As for his being difficult to work with, well, Collingwood himself wasn’t always the easiest man to work with, as we know from some of his contemporaries. ;-)

Found the handshake story – from Southey’s Life of Nelson:

“Nelson’s column was steered about two points more to the 20
north than Collingwood’s, in order to cut off the enemy’s
escape into Cadiz: the lee line, therefore, was first engaged. [. . .]
Collingwood, delighted at being first in the heat of the fire,
and knowing the feelings of his commander and old friend,
turned to his captain, and exclaimed : ‘Rotherham, what
would Nelson give to be here!’ Both these brave officers,
perhaps, at this moment thought of Nelson with gratitude,
for a circumstance which had occurred on the preceding day.
Admiral Collingwood, with some of the captains, having
gone on board the Victory, to receive instructions, Nelson in-
quired of him, where his captain was, and was told, in reply, that they were not upon good terms with each other.
‘Terms!’ said Nelson; — ‘good terms with each other!’
Immediately he sent a boat for Captain Rotherham ; led
him, as soon as he arrived, to Collingwood, and saying, —
‘Look; yonder are the enemy!’ bade them shake hands
like Englishmen.”

Southey has Nelson referring to the French fleet with “Yonder are the enemy”- but this was on Oct. 20 and the French were still far out of sight.

I prefer my version :-)

And poor old Rotheram again. Southey spells him “Rotherham” but that’s not the worst of it. In the text version at http://www.archive.org, the OCR software has rendered his name throughout as: “BOTHERHAM” !

Molly Joyful - 26 February, 2010

Rotheram gets 20 out of 10 for not giving Collingwood a pop in the jaw.

No excuse for Collingwood’s behaviour in that case from my part. He was rude, not very gentlemanly and certainly not as “witty” as biographers make it out to be. “Snarky” comes to my mind, if that term had already existed. But as far as insults go, it was probably not the top of the Georgian Navy dissing-scale. And knocking a higher ranking officer’s lights out wouldn’t have been a very wise decision – others had their careers ruined merely because they had their hands in their pockets when their captain passed by.

I wished Rotheram had returned the verbal “present” with a bit of snarkiness on his own part, though. Collingwood knew well that this wouldn’t happen, and then there was the power imbalance between the two – I guess that’s what irks me most.

On the other hand, I have to admit that I’m not exactly a stranger to lashing out at people who annoy me. So I shouldn’t cast the first stone.

“Botherham”?! *howl*

3. ShipRat - 26 February, 2010

Just kidding about the pop in the jaw! ;-) That would have meant court martial and exemplary punishment of a highly unpleasant variety.

Collingwood was a strict disciplinarian. (He was just as hard on himself as on others – probably more so, in fact.)

“Something of a martinet” says his distinguished biographer Oliver Warner.

Fortunately C. had strong humane instincts and was skilled at using positive reinforcement and psychological forms of punishment. I believe he genuinely disliked corporal punishment but he was perfectly willing to use it when other methods failed.

I don’t think he ever imposed capital punishment himself (?), but he had no objection to its use by the R.N. in extreme cases such as mutiny.

Collingwood was an amazing, gifted man – molded by his own society and life experiences.

With feet of clay. Thank goodness eh?

4. Granville Thompson - 26 February, 2010

We judge, do we not, on standards of behavior as we understand they should apply today? Protocol, political nicities and additional agendas as selectively reported third-hand from 200 years ago stir emotions and reactions in us that may, or may not, be justified.

Despite his obvious ability and bravery in numerous battles, remember that the Navy itself in the end had had enough of Rotheram. Remember too, that, even though his tongue could be (seemingly) cruel at times, Collingwood was clearly worshipped by his Geordie tars and various Midshipmen (myself included!!) and junior officers in particular. There are plenty other accounts from fellow offcers, politicians, diplomats, etc which speak of the Admiral in nothing but the highest terms, with not a single complaint of “bullying” or “public humiliation”. Maybe, just maybe, that was Collingwood’s way of dealing with Rotheram? And Nelson’s “hand-shaking” order – was that not a “man-management” gesture to Rotheram, to ensure his cooperation was secured in the hours ahead? (which I am sure Collingwood would absolutely have understood for what it was).

Today, HR would have a field day and the industrial tribunal would possibly be awarding thousands in compensation, but look at it in the context of the times….

Molly Joyful - 26 February, 2010

Collingwood was clearly worshipped by his Geordie tars and various Midshipmen (myself included!!) and junior officers in particular.

Which, to me, is the best testimony on his character and personality. Even an unpleasant officer could gain respect for zeal and success in battle, but winning the admiration and love of the men? That took far more. All military and diplomatic success and witty letters aside, there’s Collingwood, the honourable, decent man; a moralist in the best and truest meaning of the word, capable of looking beyond the rim of his teacup* and allowing others to succeed as well, sometimes to his own disadvantage. And here we are, discussing his life, reading his letters and remembering him in an affectionate way because his life and his words still touch us – 200 years after his death. That’s – pretty big, isn’t it.

*wineglass, tankard, bottle…

5. ShipRat - 26 February, 2010

G.T., very well said, I agree 1,000% and as an amateur I deeply appreciate your knowledgeable comments. I’m very happy to have my offhand remarks about the situation corrected.

A person can ONLY be judged by the standards of his or her own time and place. That’s what I was trying and failing to say just now in my inept way.

That’s exactly what interests me in reading about the past: the familiar human emotions played out on alien grounds – the sometimes alienating unfamiliar values and responses to events – they provide a bracing perspective on our life and assumptions today.

And Collingwood – here was a extremely intelligent, sensitive and humane introvert who found himself at age 12, with minimal education, in the 18th century Royal Navy. And he was stuck there, like it or not, war and peace, because he had to support his widowed mother and unmarried sisters, and later a family.

By nature this man was in many ways ill-suited to the life in which he landed. (he remained shy and prone to depression right to the end of his life, as he says in many letters)

The way in which he trained himself to excel in this environment – morally as well as professionally – is an amazing example of human adaptation.

As for the environment in which Collingwood found himself…

I was reading Jeffery Raigersfeld’s memoirs recently. While serving with Collingwood (or shortly thereafter) in the West Indies, Raigersfeld witnessed the … execution … of a slave. “Execution” is far too polite a word for the atrocity committed on the man. To describe his protracted nightmarish death would feel indecent.

I only mention it as an instance of the context in which Collingwood lived and acted. His humane impulses stand out in stark relief against that background.

Salt and vinegar and all, he was a MENSCH. He should be in the dictionary under “mensch”.

On a lighter note – Back to his sharp tongue – I find his tart comments on people extremely funny (and I mean LOL funny sometimes); I would just hate to have been on the receiving end of some of them, and I sympathized with Rotheram at that moment. C did not suffer fools gladly. He was so smart he could cut just about anyone to pieces. Verbally, that is.

Just between you and me and the Internet, I worship him too. He was a many-faceted diamond.

This lubber thanks you again for your insights.

6. ShipRat - 26 February, 2010

We need an actual discussion board here… :-)

FWIW – Collingwood to his sister in 1807:

” . . . I was sorry to hear of poor Rotheram who, though I think him a stupid man, I was in hope might have gone on in the ship I put him, which I believe was the only chance he had of being in a ship.”

Rotheram remains stupid but Collingwood’s heart is in the right place as usual. He’s done the right thing by Rotheram*, which is what matters.

*and spelled his name right too – we would expect no less

7. ShipRat - 26 February, 2010

“C did not suffer fools gladly. He was so smart he could cut just about anyone to pieces. Verbally, that is.”

just to be clear, I meant “could” potentially – not “did” in fact.

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