Is it true what they say about you, Emma?
They betrayed you, didn’t they? Everyone marching you down the line from birth to death used you even as they propped you up, the precious rag doll with the delicate fine porcelain mask you were. Your feckless foe and charms–your beauty and your sex–betrayed you. How could you know?
I could imagine your life that way, narrate it so. Or I could finger-trace the lines of the stolen silken bodily moments with your lover–impassioned with danger and secrecy, danger of the war with impending loss of your lover and the father of your child, as well as the secrecy of your affair. Your story. Who were they to take your lover, your secrets, your letters and your world with so little regard, to throw you in a prison of injustice and debt? The iron of your manacles was brutal in hypocritical cold, the jailers murderously callous. They took your love, money and life. I hate them.
I dreamed your dream once, was your dream, a sister from ecstatic vision and prescient sight, warming your mind like the lynx enwrapping your belly. The sweetness of half-lit rooms and pleasant chaise-lounge velvet bethroned bodies bathed in halogen bulbs of passionate witness. Give me your seed. Implant your vision of Veronese wood tables engraved with curled tresses that beckon our baby’s bonneted hair and make my cells crave yours in hours of the early morning upon awakening from suffering sleep. I ache. Take me with you. I will dust off your prison hurt and make your beauty mesmerize love again.
Perusing the Internet the other day, I came across the Daily Mail Online article entitled “Letter from Lord Nelson to his mistress Emma Hamilton written days after the birth of their secret love child expressing fears their relationship could be discovered goes on sale for £15,000,” which drew me in with curiosity about yet another clandestine long term love affair with the added delight of the phrase “secret love child.” However, like the promise of so many of these articles with impressive titles, I was not so much intrigued by Lord Nelson’s affair nor their “love child” of whom I learned nothing, but moreso the afterthought write up on the life of Ms. Emma Hamilton.
Ms. Hamilton (yes, the title is anachronistic) apparently fell into a career climb solely due to her sex–gender and activity. Her tale is reported as one of woman as object–body and womb. By virtue of her sex, she rises from poor beginnings, daughter of a blacksmith, to fodder for a “sexologist” (read: procurer of a bordello) to someone’s sole sex object to wife to mistress to abject poverty and death. The 18th Century afforded fewer other career options for a woman on the rise but sex and marriage. Her story seems to be the embodiment (pun intended) of all options exercised, what little agency I imagine she had to exercise. Of course, there is much untold in this skeletal “portrait of a mistress.”
Another noteworthy item is the scant mention of Lord Nelson’s wife, whom he appeared to love very much but was irresistibly drawn to Emma Hamilton upon meeting his future mistress. One can only surmise that the vast complexities of the motivation and underside of the players in this triangle are buried and returned to the soil from which they arose-only the letters remain from which to read between the lines.