Thursday, 21 October 2010
Good out of evil
‘Of course it was !’ I hear you say . . . but the reason I asked is because Nelson himself, although much loved by his sailors, was in fact not all that popular with a lot of other people : his personal life, for instance, was considered to be not altogether splendid . . .wasn’t he involved in a dubious relationship with Lady Hamilton, for instance – and whilst both of them were married to other people ?
To be honest, the fact that he is widely regarded as wonderful is probably due to his death, at the critical moment of the completion of a splendid achievement . . . the defeat of the French. Had he lived, who knows what might have happened . . . he might have been involved in a divorce, or died in a defeat, or a disgrace, or even a duel . . . and rapidly been hushed up.
Of course his death was evil in the sense that Britain lost a great sailor, and a great commander : but as it happened at a high point of his career, he is remembered as a giant . . . had he not died, who knows what we would remember of him ?
The fact is that, sometimes, it’s when things happen, and not just what happens, that is important . . . a point for us to remember : because sometimes our lives are shaped not by what we do, but the circumstances in which we do it. . . something we always need to bear in mind; and also to use in assessing whether what we think of is really good or bad, or merely appears to be so as a result of the circumstances srrounding it.