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George Henry Harlow 1787-1819
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George Henry Harlow 1787-1819

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Three quarter length portrait of Midshipman (later Captain) John Windham Dalling RN (1789-1853) memorialising his presence on HMS Defence at the Battle of Trafalgar

Oil painting on canvas 50 x 40 inches, and contained in its original giltwood George III frame

Provenance: By family descent

Exhibited: Royal Academy, 1806, catalogue number 392


George Henry Harlow was born on 10 June 1787 in St James's Street, London, the youngest child and only son of a merchant of Canton, China, who died in February 1787, four months before he was born.

Harlow was brought up by his mother, Elizabeth (1759/60–1809), who was widowed at the age of twenty-seven; of his five sisters only one survived to adulthood. From a young age he attended Dr Barrow's classical school in Soho Square, London; then he was sent to a Mr Roy in Burlington Street before his interest in drawing led to his being placed with the landscape draughtsman Henry de Cort. Next he became the pupil of the painter Samuel Drummond and, having rejected the offer made by friends of his father of a writership in India, when about fifteen entered the studio of the celebrated portrait painter Thomas Lawrence. A memorandum of an agreement dated 9 December 1803 made between Lawrence and Elizabeth Harlow records that from that day for one year Harlow would ‘faithfully serve and assist’ Lawrence ‘in his art or profession of a portrait painter’, and that in return Lawrence would ‘to the best of his abilities teach and instruct … Harlowe in the Art or profession of a portrait painter’ and ‘at his own expence find and provide … Harlowe with all such Canvas colours paints brushes and other ingredients’ (Lawrence papers, RA, Law 1/105). On the same day Joseph Farington noted in his diary that ‘Lawrence has got a young pupil of 15 years of age, who draws, Lane says, better than He does. His name is Harlow’ (Farington, Diary, 5.1943).

With his mother, who ‘spoiled her good-looking boy’ (Redgrave, Artists, 198), and two surviving sisters Harlow left Queen Street, Mayfair, to lodge with a Mr Hamilton in Dean Street, Soho. Two years later Mrs Harlow retired to the country leaving Harlow, aged seventeen, with one sister in London. Described by J. T. Smith, biographer of the sculptor Joseph Nollekens, as ‘naturally vain’, Harlow ‘became ridiculously foppish, and by dressing to the extreme of fashion, was often the laughing-stock of his brother artists’ (Smith, 2.410). John Knowles, biographer of Henry Fuseli, who supported Harlow when others remained critical, also noted that:
Harlow proved himself, on many occasions, to be among the vainest of men … It is said that he had affected a sort of swagger in his gait, and unlicensed audacity in speech, from a belief that they became him, and that it was proper to mark out a man of genius from the … crowds. (Cunningham, 5.286, 288)
His foibles led his friends to give him the nickname Clarissa Harlowe (many later references to Harlow include the final ‘e’ to his surname). Following a breach with Lawrence about a painting, Harlow stayed at the Queen's Head, Epsom, where, to discharge his bill, he painted a signboard in a style caricaturing that of his master which he signed ‘T. L., Greek Street, Soho’ (ibid., 279). After this rupture Harlow did not seek further instruction but went on to paint ‘at a low price many of the actors of the day, and thus fell into their society, and being of an easy, careless disposition, soon became embarrassed in his affairs’ (Redgrave, Artists, 198).
From 1804 Harlow had sent works for exhibition at the Royal Academy, where in 1806, as well as the present painting, he exhibited a drawing of his mother, who died in 1809 when Harlow was twenty-two. After completing a few historical pictures including Bolingbroke's Entry into London and Queen Elizabeth Striking the Earl of Essex (exh. RA, 1807) he turned his attention to portraits. He was an excellent draughtsman and his portraits, whether in oils, pencil, chalk, or crayon, show much sensitivity. Redgrave notes that:
in 1815 he commenced a series of small size [portraits], of eminent painters and some of the notorieties of the day; they are refined, yet broadly finished, and full of character. He also made portrait sketches in chalk, slightly tinting the face, many of them admirable in taste and manner. Several of his portraits were engraved. (Redgrave, Artists, 198)
They included one of Benjamin West, president of the Royal Academy (exh. RA, 1815; Sothebys, 9 November 1994, lot 62), who appears to have shown some encouragement to Harlow. In June 1817 Joseph Farington recorded that ‘West last night, was at the British Institution and had Harlowe under His care & introduced Him to many of the principal people there’ (Farington, Diary, 14.5029). At the end of that month he noted, ‘Lord Abercorn sitting to Harlowe’ (ibid.). Harlow also made a portrait of Colonel George Wyndham, first Baron Leconfield, eldest son of the third earl of Egremont, the munificent patron of J. M. W. Turner and other notable contemporary artists. In 1816 Harlow exhibited portraits of two Royal Academicians, James Northcote and Sir William Beechey, and the following year another of Northcote and one of Henry Fuseli (Yale U. CBA, Paul Mellon collection), which was commissioned by John Knowles and subsequently reproduced in his biography of Fuseli. He also made a drawing of the sculptor Peter Turnerelli and another of Thomas Rowlandson (1814; Hunt. L.). There is an oil sketch of Thomas Stothard at Petworth House, Sussex, showing, in the background, Stothard's Mars and Venus. Of two self-portrait drawings one, signed and dated 1810, is in the National Portrait Gallery and another, signed and dated 1813, is in a private collection. J. T. Smith commented:
of the immense number of portraits painted of Northcote, perhaps the one by Harlow may be fairly appreciated as the best likeness … [He] also made a highly spirited beginning of a portrait of Nollekens [and] produced one of the most dignified and characteristic likenesses of Fuseli, for which that artist threw himself into a position, and gave the Painter every possible advantage, by affording him numerous sittings … From its richness of colouring, grandeur of effect, and exquisite finish [it may be] fairly considered as the chef-d'œuvre of that highly-talented Artist, though perhaps most improvident of men. (Smith, 2.410)
Financially dependent, as most artists then were, on portrait commissions, and seeking further patronage through the exhibition of his work at the Royal Academy, Harlow evidently sought also to redeem his early loss of position as Lawrence's pupil by seeking the notice of other academicians and thus to gain a stronger foothold within the academy. His series of artists' portraits was done ‘con amore and gratis’ (Literary Gazette, 202). In 1816, however, his candidacy for associate status within the academy received only one vote (from Fuseli, who commented, ‘I voted for the talent—not for the man!’ (Cunningham, 5.281)).
Of Harlow's portrait drawings that of Haydon reproduced as the frontispiece to The Autobiography and Memoirs of Benjamin Robert Haydon (1926) is similar in format to several others, including a fine one of William Godwin, signed and dated 1816 (priv. coll.), and the elegant and highly finished chalk drawing of Lord Byron (c.1815; priv. coll.) engraved by Henry Meyer for the New Monthly Magazine (July 1815). The fashionable fencing master Henry Angelo recollected that ‘Harlow … whom I had known from a boy, made two drawings (through my recommendation), one of his lordship, another of his sister’ (Angelo, 131). While staying with Charles Madryll Cheere at Papworth Hall, Cambridgshire, Harlow wrote on 8 August 1815 to Henry Colburn, publisher of the Monthly Magazine, stating, ‘We are all great admirers of Lord Byron here and it would be very gratifying to give away a print or two of him to my friends’ (Michael Silverman sale catalogue). Harlow's obituarist recorded that ‘Mr Harlow was in the habit of drawing, and depositing in a book, the likenesses of eminent persons with whom he was struck on meeting them in company. These are among the most precious of his remains.’ (Literary Gazette, 202) Of those mentioned many are signed with Harlow's initials G. H. H. or sometimes G. H. Harlow and dated with the day, month, and year. Other sitters included the Gothic novelist M. G. (Monk) Lewis (engraving by J. Hollis, repr. in Finden's illustrations to … Byron, 1834); Horace and James Smith, authors of Rejected Addresses (1812); and the actors Elizabeth Inchbald (1814), Robert Elliston (1814), John Kemble, and Charles Mathews (first two, Garrick Club, London). Others are listed in the catalogue of the posthumous sale of ‘a few capital original pictures, studies and drawings, the works of G. H. Harlow’ held ‘by Mr Christie’ on 3 June 1820 (Catalogue).

Of Harlow's other known portraits in oil, those of actors form a distinctive group. These include Robert Elliston (c.1808), John Philip Kemble as Coriolanus (c.1808), A Group of Portraits of Mr Mathews in Private, and in Various Characters (exh. RA, 1814; engraved Henry Meyer 1817, and W. Greatbach for Mathew's Memoirs, 1838), Sarah Siddons as Lady Macbeth (c.1813), another Sarah Siddons as Lady Macbeth (c.1814), and Catherine Stephens as Diana Vernon (c.1818; all Garrick Club, London, all repr. in Ashton). All these portraits were formerly in the collection of the actor Charles Mathews, who was a close friend of Harlow's. A small bust-length portrait in a painted oval of Catherine Stephens, afterwards countess of Essex (engraved by W. Say, 1816), is at Petworth. For portraits such as the small whole length of Sarah Siddons as Lady Macbeth, Harlow charged 20 guineas.

The picture for which Harlow became celebrated when it was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1817 was entitled Court Scene for the Trial of Queen Katharine: Queen, ‘Lord Cardinal, to you I Speak.’—Henry VIII (priv. coll.), an indication that it was as a theatrical rather than a historical picture that Harlow intended it to be received. A reduced autograph replica is in the Royal Shakespeare Company collection, Stratford upon Avon (repr. Solkin, 122). It was originally commissioned by Thomas Welsh, the singer and composer, for 100 guineas, as a portrait from memory of Sarah Siddons as Queen Katherine; the actress subsequently, and at Welsh's request, gave Harlow a sitting and he then expanded the portrait into the trial scene. Exhibited five years after Siddons's official retirement:
[that] Harlow's picture was one of the most enduring theatrical images of the 19th century is demonstrated by the fact that most subsequent productions of Henry VIII during that century used it as the basis for their arrangement of the trial scene. Even 70 years later, Ellen Terry based her interpretation of Queen Katherine on that of Sarah Siddons and her trial scene on Harlow's picture. (Ashton, 393)
In April 1817 Farington noted that ‘Sir G. & Lady Beaumont were strongly impressed with the excellence of a picture by Harlowe, representing the Kemble family in characters forming a Scene in the Play of Henry 8th’ (Farington, Diary, 14.4998), but that ‘it was certainly a work which approached towards vicious art, finery & ostentatious display’ (ibid., 5008). Intended for display on the densely hung walls of the academy's great room where exhibited works competed for the attention of a large crowd of viewers, this work, with the melodramatic expressions and gestures of its characters, heightened by rich colouring and a composition that conveys an impression of deep three-dimensional space, was nevertheless highly successful as a theatrical genre painting. Fuseli advised Harlow on compositional details, including the placing of the two page boys in the foreground ‘to throw the eye of the spectator into the picture’ (Cunningham, 5.285). Harlow included in the painting a self-portrait; he is standing immediately to the left of the cross behind the cardinal. The copyright to a plate for engraving the painting was sold for 500 guineas, and the mezzotint by George Clint further enhanced its popularity.

Following the exhibition of three of his works at the Royal Academy in 1818 Harlow left on 22 June for Italy accompanied by his servant, William Gravely. During the early part of his visit he made a second drawing of Byron (John Murray, London) that is inscribed in Byron's handwriting ‘Byron. Venizia Ao 6. 1818’. That Harlow visited Byron at the Palazzo Mocenigo, Venice, where he also made a pendent drawing of Byron's housekeeper, Margarita Cogni, La Fornarina (John Murray, London), suggests a degree of intimacy between sitter and artist that went beyond the conventions of a formal portrait sitting. It was at Byron's instigation that Countess Benzoni provided a letter of introduction for Harlow (‘forwarded to Mr. H. Poste Restante Florence’) to the celebrated Italian sculptor Antonio Canova in Rome (Christies autograph letter sale catalogue, 22 October 1980, lot 126). At Rome, Harlow worked extremely hard: in eighteen days he made a copy of Raphael's Transfiguration (1517–20; Pinacoteca, Vatican, Rome). Earlier, at Venice, he had copied Tintoretto's Crucifixion (1565; Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice). From his lodgings at ‘4 Piazza Rosa, secundo piano in casa di Polidori, Roma’ he wrote on 23 November 1818 to a friend in London, Mr Tomkisson, a musical instrument maker in Dean Street, Soho, ‘I shall send the Transfiguration, which I think will make a stare in England, with other pictures, sketches, and prints’ (Literary Gazette, 203). After exhibiting his painting Wolsey Receiving the Cardinal's Hat in Westminster Abbey together with other works at Canova's house, he presented Wolsey to the Accademia di San Luca, Rome, and sent the finished sketch to England (Tabley House, University of Manchester). He was elected to the Rome academy, and invited to submit his own portrait (1818) to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Painted in the bravura style of Lawrence, this self-portrait leaves no doubt of Harlow's intention to claim the mantle of his master. To Tomkisson, Harlow noted further that he ‘was much pleased with Naples, stayed ten days; went to Portici, Herculaneum, and Pompeii, and ascended Mount Vesuvius … red hot ashes came tumbling down continually where I stood sketching’ (Smith, 2.412). Canova ‘expressed the highest admiration for Harlow’ and introduced him to Pope Pius VII (Literary Gazette, 202):
I am to be presented to the Pope either on the 2d or 3d of next month … I leave Rome directly after; perhaps the next day—a day that I most sincerely dread, for I have become so attached to the place and the people, that I expect a great struggle with myself. (Smith, 2.413)
After his triumphal visit to Rome, Harlow was elected a member of the Florence academy on his way home and landed at Dover on 13 January 1819 with a sore throat. His complaint soon became more serious and he took to his bed at his home, 83 Dean Street, Soho, London, where he died on 4 February 1819. He was buried on 16 February in St James's Church, Piccadilly, where his funeral was attended by Sir William Beechey RA and the enamellist Henry Bone. Joseph Farington confided to his diary on 27 February that John Aytoun, who had seen Harlow shortly before he died, had spoken to him of Harlow's death:
He had an external swelling in His throat, which [was] supposed to be the Mumps. It increased to a very large size & so disfigured Him that He would only admit to His room, Mr. Andrews, a Medical friend and a Servant, so unwilling was he to be seen under such an appearance … Such was His situation when He died, that had not Tijou, the frame maker, come forward to take charge of his funeral, He must have been buried at the expence of the Parish. (Farington, Diary, 15.5333)
‘That Genius must have panted for posthumous fame’ (Lawrence to Farington, 20 March 1819, RA, Law 3/19, fol. 7). Lawrence's comment comes at the end of a letter written from Vienna—where, before proceeding to Rome, he was painting portraits of sovereigns, statesmen, and generals which form part of his brilliant series done for ‘His late Majesty [George IV] FOR THE WATERLOO GALLERY AT WINDSOR’ (Millar, 1.xxxv). Replying to Joseph Farington's letter bearing news of Harlow's death, Lawrence's letter covers three folio sheets in closely written small handwriting, and is wholly devoted to his reflections on his former pupil. Though, to his close friend, he referred candidly to Harlow's former ‘defects’ he averred that:
No one I believe appreciated his Genius more highly than myself … I for one, had prepared myself for many an arduous struggle with him hereafter. … When I heard that he had copied the Transfiguration at Rome … it confirmed my Impression of his Genius, and the superiority of his Taste. … While he was with me his application was unremitting; and although every now and then he was disquieting to his Profession, at so early an Age … [he] had more than the usual follies of Youth to combat … So rare as is the appearance of great power in Art, one must wonder … that it is given to the World so suddenly to be withdrawn. (Lawrence to Farington, 20 March 1819, RA, Law 3/19, fol. 7)
Farington replied, ‘He appears to have been sadly and strangely neglected during his illness, and, if better attended and with proper medical advice, might probably have recovered’ (Farington to Lawrence, 6 April 1819, RA, Law 3/26). An ‘Exhibition of paintings and drawings of the late Mr George Henry Harlow’ held at 87 Pall Mall, London, in 1819, which included his sketches and sketchbooks, helped to discharge Harlow's debts to creditors of whom Welsh was the principal. Two sales held at Fosters on 21 June 1819 and Christies on 3 June 1820 comprised paintings and drawings by Harlow, including his Italian studies, the original sketch for Wolsey, and casts from antique sculpture which he acquired in Italy.

Although expressive of a different facet of Romanticism, like those of his contemporary, the landscape painter Thomas Girtin, who died at twenty-seven, Harlow's late works, for example, The Proposal (c.1819; ex Christies, New York, 11 January 1995, lot 36), demonstrate an assurance of style and interpretation in which his artistic future is clearly evident. He was celebrated for his own ‘unrivalled brilliance’ and ‘incomparable ability’ (Millar, 1.xxxiii), and Lawrence's opinion of Harlow's ‘Genius’ acknowledges his pupil's ascendancy and confirms that, had he lived, Harlow's success at Rome would undoubtedly have consolidated his position at home among the first painters of his age.1

 

 

Less than a year before this portrait was painted and exhibited at the Royal Academy, the sitter who gazes confidently out of it had been present at the Royal Navy’s most important fleet action of the 19th century and one of the last great naval battles of the wars against France 1793-1815: the Battle of Trafalgar, 21st October 1805. In the remaining years of those wars and in the decades of peace that followed, the sitter was to have a varied career – participating in Boat Actions with one of the great frigate captains of the age, serving on a series of flagships, chasing smugglers in the North Sea and protecting British trade and political interests in the eastern Mediterranean – but, when this portrait was painted, all that lay ahead of the adolescent midshipman of robust appearance portrayed here.

 

John Windham Dalling was born on 1st August 1789, barely a fortnight after the Fall of the Bastille, and probably in the house that his father had inherited from his father-in-law, Burwood Park, near Walton-upon-Thames, Surrey. Dalling was the youngest son of Lieutenant-General Sir John Dalling, baronet, (c.1731-98) by his second wife, Louisa (d. 1824), daughter of Excelles Lawford of Burwood Park; his parents had married in about 1770. General Dalling had been governor of Jamaica 1777-82 and commander-in-chief at Madras 1784-86, had retired on pension in 1786 and was to be promoted to general in 1796; his youngest son was christened in Walton-upon-Thames on 14th May 1790. Nothing is known about the boy’s education but it is clear from surviving papers that he wrote an educated hand and so would have been schooled sufficiently to prepare him for the naval career on which he embarked at the age of fourteen.i

The Dallings were originally a Norfolk family and the manor and estate of Earsham Hall, near Bungay in that county and owned by the Windham family from the 1720s, was inherited in 1810 by John Windham Dalling’s elder brother, the second and last baronet Sir William Windham Dalling (1774-1864). The county’s significance as his family’s home may not have been lost on the young John Windham Dalling when he embarked from the Norfolk port of Great Yarmouth to join the Royal Navy, going aboard HMS RUBY (64 guns, Captain David Colby) as a supernumerary, borne on the ship’s books ‘for victuals only’ on 2nd December 1803. Great Yarmouth, then known as Yarmouth, was at that time the home port for the fleet employed in watching the Dutch coast and the ship for which he was ultimately bound was part of that fleet, cruising off the Texel under command of Rear Admiral Edward Thornborough (1754-1834). In the Muster Book for his first ship, it is recorded that he was entered ‘From Yarmouth to join the Defence’ and when he was discharged, four days later – on 6th December 1803 – it was to ‘HM Gun Brig Mallard for a passage to the Defence, his Proper Ship...’. He spent one day on HMS MALLARD (12 guns, Lieutenant Thomas Read) before being discharged to HMS DEFENCE (74 guns, Captain George Hope) on 8th December 1803: he was to spend the next two years aboard her.ii

Dalling’s first ‘proper’ ship, HMS DEFENCE, was a Third-Rate ship of the line of the ‘Bellona’ class, built at Plymouth 1758-63. During the War for American Independence, she saw action under Rodney in the capture of the Caracas convoy and the defeat of De Langara’s Spanish fleet, January 1780, as well as in the subsequent relief of Gibraltar, thereafter serving under Hughes in his final battle with Suffren off Pondicherry in 1783. After the outbreak of war with Revolutionary France in 1793, she was rarely out of action: The Glorious First of June, 1794; The Nile, 1798; Quiberon Bay, 1800; Copenhagen, 1801. In addition to those great fleet actions and battles, she had served in the Mediterranean in 1795, at the blockades of Cadiz and Brest 1799-1800 and off Portugal and in the West Indies in 1800; she was also involved in the Spithead mutiny of 1797, nineteen of her seamen being sentenced to death as a result of their complicity in that event. Unlike many 74-gun ships at the time, whose captains chose to supplement or supplant some of their ships’ main armament with carronades on the forecastle, poop and sometimes quarterdeck, DEFENCE’s armament was conventional: twenty-eight 32-pounder guns on the lower deck, the same number of 18-pounders on the gun-, or upper, deck with the same number of 9-pounders divided between the forecastle and quarterdeck.iii

When Dalling joined her, off the Texel in early December 1803, she had recently been re-commissioned under a new captain, George Johnstone Hope (1767-1818). Captain (later Rear Admiral Sir) Hope was a Scot and a grandson of the 1st Earl of Hopetoun; he had joined the Royal Navy in 1782, been a captain since 1793 and served in the Mediterranean 1793-1801, seeing action off Toulon, Genoa and Alexandria as well as during the British invasion of Egypt. Dalling was first entered on the Ship’s Muster of HMS DEFENCE as a Volunteer, 1st Class – a rating introduced in 1794 to replace that of ‘captain’s servant’, explicitly for, ‘young gentlemen intended for the sea service’ and implicitly for young gentlemen who could expect rapid promotion to midshipman and ultimately commissioning as lieutenant, providing that they learnt their trade and survived the experience. Dalling remained a Volunteer 1st Class until 5th June 1804 and was promoted to the rate of midshipman on the following day: clearly, he had passed the first test in his career.iv

HMS DEFENCE remained on her North Sea station off the Texel until 8th January 1804, when she returned to Yarmouth, having experienced the tedium of blockade against an enemy – the Dutch – determined not to attempt to leave port and winter gales that reduced to smithereens anything breakable and not lashed down: as one of Dalling’s fellow midshipmen later recorded,

‘We had no cockpit berths in Defence, but all the mates, midshipmen and clerks messed together in the gunroom; the want of proper accommodation for the disposal of our mess utensils very soon reduced our “establishment” of crockery during this and the following cruise; though we replenished abundantly at Yarmouth. Many of us were obliged to drink our tea out of soup plates, the few tea cups remaining being always appropriated by the first that could get hold of them – and as to glass, there was scarcely an article left after the first gale of wind.’v

Returning to the Texel blockade in February 1804, DEFENCE remained on that station until late September that year, for much of the time wearing Admiral Thornborough’s flag and acting as his flagship. On 28th September, the ship returned to the Medway to refit and was then sent to the Isle of Wight preparatory to sailing to Spanish waters, Spain being thought to be about to declare war on Britain. DEFENCE was ordered to join a squadron commanded by Vice Admiral Sir John Orde, baronet, (1751-1824) and sailed from the Isle of Wight on 2nd November 1804, arriving off Cadiz ten days later and being joined by the remainder of the squadron in 16th November. War was declared on 12th December 1804 and in both the prologue to war and after its declaration Dalling’s ship was employed in blockading Cadiz, with interludes for repairs at Gibraltar between 21st December 1804 and early January 1805 and between 25th January and 5th February 1805. While attached to the blockading squadron, DEFENCE was occasionally sent away on cruises to capture stray enemy shipping, naval and commercial, and secured several prizes in this way. On 10th April 1805, the French Toulon fleet of eighteen ships appeared in the east from the Mediterranean and anchored off Cadiz where it awaited the sailing of the Spanish fleet; this force was too large to be engaged by Orde’s squadron, which left the area to join the Channel Fleet off Ushant, leaving the combined fleets of France and Spain to be chased to the West Indies and back by Nelson’s Mediterranean fleet for the next few months. HMS DEFENCE returned to home waters for a refit in Portsmouth, during which time Dalling enjoyed a month’s leave from 22nd May to 22nd June, and a short time in the Downs before rejoining the Channel Fleet off Ushant in mid-August 1805 and then returning to Cadiz, to which the combined enemy fleets had returned, following their crossing of the Atlantic and back, on 20th August. Gradually, the British fleet off Cadiz increased in size, with Nelson arriving from Britain in HMS VICTORY to take command on 29th September and Collingwood, Nelson’s second-in-command, shifting his flag to HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN on 1st October. The majority of Nelson’s fleet maintained its station some fifty miles off Cadiz (and was thus invisible from the shore) but Nelson kept a squadron of fast-sailing frigates at signalling distance from several battleships strung out between the frigates and the main body of the fleet. In a letter to Captain Hope of HMS DEFENCE of 15th October, Nelson wrote:

‘You will, with the Agamemnon [64; Captain Sir Edward Berry], take a station West from Cadiz from seven to ten leagues, by which means, if the Enemy should move, I hope to have information, as two or three ships will be kept, as at present, between the Fleet and your two Ships; and it seems thought by Captain Blackwood [The Hon. Henry Blackwood; HMS EURYALUS; commanding the inshore frigate squadron] that a Ship or two may attempt to drive the frigates off, and if that should be the case you will be at hand to assist.’

As a fellow midshipman of Dalling’s on HMS DEFENCE later recorded, ‘on the 19th [October] we observed one of the frigates running out to us with signal flying that the enemy’s fleet were coming out.’. DEFENCE repeated the signal, emphasising it with guns; it was thus passed on down the chain of ships to the main fleet and by early afternoon on the 19th that fleet had made all sail in order to concentrate south of Cadiz in order to prevent the combined enemy fleets from escaping into the Mediterranean – where such a force would wreak havoc and seriously affect the balance of power.vi

After some manoeuvring in inconsistent wind and weather conditions, the two fleets finally sighted each other early in the morning of 21st October 1805 off Cape Trafalgar, the combined French and Spanish fleets some eleven miles north-east of the British fleet, formed in a loose line of battle and thought to be heading back to Cadiz; Nelson ordered his fleet to intercept them and cut off their line of retreat to Cadiz. The British fleet divided itself, as pre-arranged, into two divisions – the weather and the lee divisions – each headed respectively by Nelson in HMS VICTORY and by Collingwood in HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN. HMS DEFENCE fell into her prescribed place in line towards the rear of the lee division and so her ship’s company were of necessity forced to watch the battle become joined for some time before their ship was able actively to participate. The two British divisions pierced the enemy line, with the consequence that the British ships had to receive fire for some time before being able to return it and also, once through the line, often found that they were required to fight several ships at once. Nothing is known that records where on DEFENCE Midshipman Dalling was stationed at the battle of Trafalgar and he appears not to have left any surviving account of the battle; it is most probable that he was in charge of a sub-division of the ship’s guns, under the overall command of a lieutenant, on either the lower deck or gun-deck since many captains stationed most of their midshipmen in those locations in battle – where they were less vulnerable to enemy fire than on the exposed quarterdeck, forecastle or poop. We are fortunate, therefore, in having brief personal accounts of HMS DEFENCE’s part in the battle left by two other of the ship’s midshipmen, Charles Reid and Thomas Huskisson.

‘...We were the last station’d ship; so when we went down we had two Frenchmen and one Spaniard on us at one time. We engag’d them forty six minutes, when the Achille and Polyphemus came up to our assistance. The Spaniard ran away; we gave him chase and fought him one hour and forty six minutes, when he struck and we boarded him, and have him safe at anchor... . The ship we took, her name is the San Ildifonzo, eighty two guns and a very fine ship, new. ...’ [Reid]

‘The wind was light and so near aft after we bore up that we went down with topgallant studding sails on both sides, which were cut away when we got nearly alongside our opponent. ... At fifteen minutes past one we brought to alongside a French two-decker and opened our fire, having received hers for some minutes before we were near enough to haul up alongside. We engaged this ship until fifteen minutes past three, at which time her mizzen mast was over the side, her main and fore masts tottering, and her fire had become very languid. At the above time we perceived an English 74, Achille, range up through the smoke and fall on board our opponent. Our fire was consequently stopped, and almost at the same instant a few shots from a Spanish 74 on our lee bow came whizzing over us. We were very quickly alongside her, and engaged her until 25 minutes past four, when she struck her colours. We sent a boat on board and found her to be St Ildefonzo bearing the pendant of a brigadier or commodore, who was severely wounded, but his captain returned in the boat and delivered up his sword to Captain Hope, immediately afterwards very coolly he took a match out of one of the match tubs on the quarterdeck, lighted his segar and smoked it as unconcernedly as if nothing particular had occurred. ... St Ildefonzo was totally dismasted, her last remaining mast, the foremast, having fallen soon after we took possession. I was sent on board in the course of the evening and found the decks both above and below covered with the killed and wounded: in both which ways she had suffered very severely, the number of the former amounting to more than a hundred. ... Our toll in action was seven men killed and twenty-nine wounded, most of them severely and several of them suffered amputation. The mainmast was badly wounded in three places, gaff shot away, quarter davits and main piece of the rudder badly damaged; many of the small spars shot away, and the standing and running rigging, particularly about the main and mizzen masts, much cut up.’ [Huskisson]vii

The Captain’s Log for HMS DEFENCE on 21st October 1805 is more laconic than the two midshipmen’s accounts but equally punctilious about time-keeping:

‘...at daylight made all sail, saw the Enemy’s fleet in all 39 sail, bearing S. and our fleet NbW at 10:41 Enemy’s fleet to leeward forming the line; fleet running down with all sail...; at Noon Light Airs and clear, standing down on the Enemy with all sail. At 12:10 Enemy began firing at Rl. Sovereign, which she returned directly, at 12:40 Victory began, at 2:20 we engaged a French two deck Ship, at 3:15 our opponent hauled off to return the Achilles fire at which time we engaged a Spanish two deck Ship, at 4:15 San Ildefonso struck her Colours, sent a Boat on board, observed several of the Enemy had struck, remainder made sail away, lowered the Boats to take the Prize in tow, at 10 took her in tow.’viii

The authors of the book currently regarded by scholars as the best account of the battle of Trafalgar have observed, ‘Even today, no two accounts of Trafalgar are the same.’ and this is evident from the accounts reproduced above. By the time that DEFENCE – third from last in the leeward division of the British fleet – arrived in action, the battle had been joined for two hours and her first duel was with the Berwick, whose captain – Jean Filhol-Camas – was cut in half by a bar shot during the exchanges of fire. The Spanish 74, the San Ildefonso, is recorded as having already been in action with HMSs REVENGE, DEFIANCE and THUNDERER by the time she and DEFENCE engaged each other: it is to her previous battles with those ships as well as to that fought with DEFENCE that her enormous number of casualties are attributed. DEFENCE’s subsequent engagement with the San Ildefonso also involved HMS REVENGE and this combined and final assault led to the Spanish ship being the thirteenth prize taken by the Royal Navy on that day. DEFENCE’s final casualty list was seventeen men killed and fifty-three wounded.ix

The relatively undamaged state of Dalling’s ship after Trafalgar meant that she was able to take a greater share in the aftermath of the battle than she had in the battle itself. She rode out the gale on the 22nd and was able to retain her mast-less Spanish prize, whereas more damaged ships suffered during the gale and most of the prizes taken had to be cut adrift and were lost, wrecked. She was also able to take her place in a small flotilla of relatively undamaged ships ordered by Collingwood to chase away predatory Spanish and French ships that came out of Cadiz on the 24th to try and capture some of the disabled British ships and recover the remaining prizes. After that threat was rebuffed, the ship was one of those tasked with removing prisoners from the prizes, transferring them under flags to truce to enemy vessels and putting prize crews aboard the captured ships. On 31st October HMS DEFENCE was ordered to sail to Gibraltar, with her dismasted prize in tow, and she arrived there on 3rd November, remaining there until 9th November to make a few necessary repairs and then departing for England in company with a number of British men-of-war that Huskisson described as ‘all more or less crippled’. She arrived at Spithead on 1st December and a few days later went to Chatham to be paid off.x

Midshipman Dalling left HMS DEFENCE on 16th December 1805 to take a month’s leave during which he was formally discharged from the ship on 21st December. It is probable that it was during this month on leave in England that he sat to George Henry Harlow for the portrait that is the subject of this essay. His next ship was another 74-gun ship of the line, HMS POMPÉE: built in Toulon 1790-93, she had been surrendered to the British in 1793, been re-commissioned and served in the Channel Fleet 1794-95 and been caught up in the mutiny at Spithead in 1797 before fighting in the battle of Algeciras Bay in 1801. When Dalling joined her, the ship was under command of Captain (later Vice Admiral Sir) Richard Dacres (1761-1837) and was undergoing a lengthy refit in Plymouth. Dalling was rated midshipman and formally entered in the Ship’s Muster as having joined on 22nd December 1805 but did not actually join the ship until 17th January 1806, at the end of his month’s leave. Following her refit, HMS POMPÉE was ordered to the Mediterranean as the flagship of Rear Admiral William Sidney Smith (1764-1840) and Dalling remained serving as a member of POMPÉE’s ship’s company until April 1806 when, at Gibraltar, he was discharged to his next ship, HMS AMPHION.xi

AMPHION was a frigate, or Fifth Rate ship, of 32 eighteen-pounder guns built at Mistleythorn on the Stour estuary in north Essex 1796-98 and the eponymous frigate of her class. Since October 1805 she had been under command of Captain William Hoste (1780-1828), whose exploits in the Mediterranean and the Adriatic were not only to gain him fame, a baronetcy and a knighthood in his own time but also were to lead to some later measure of immortality as one of several naval officers on whom, and whose exploits, the author Patrick O’Brian (1915-2000) was to base his fictional character ‘Captain Jack Aubrey’. The Hoste and Nelson families were near neighbours in north Norfolk and Hoste and Nelson had been friends. This county connection may be the reason why Hoste took Dalling into HMS AMPHION as a midshipman in April 1806, although there is nothing in Hoste’s published correspondence to substantiate that, and it was to be while serving in Hoste’s ship that Dalling experienced a great deal of active service. The Ship’s Muster for AMPHION records that Dalling joined the ship on 17th April 1806, although he was entered as having formally transferred from POMPÉE on 4th April. Four days after Dalling joined his new ship, Hoste wrote home to his mother to say that he had been ordered to join a squadron under command of Rear Admiral Smith, with whom Dalling had travelled from England in HMS POMPÉE.xii

Dalling was to spend three separate periods as a member of the ship’s company of HMS AMPHION: the first of these was from 4th April 1806 to 16th April 1807, during which period he was rated by Hoste as a midshipman. The activities of Admiral Smith’s squadron were centred upon Sicily and southern Italy, where the Bourbon Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was threatened by French expansion down the Italian peninsula; the role of the squadron was as far as possible to protect and support the Bourbon kingdom in order to prevent it from being wholly conquered by France. By the end of May 1806, when AMPHION arrived off Sicily, French forces had occupied most of the mainland and only Sicily remained as a bastion of Anglo-Bourbon power, providing safe anchorages for British ships and being garrisoned by eight thousand British soldiers. By the time that Midshipman Dalling and his ship arrived at Palermo, Smith’s naval and military forces had reinforced a Bourbon garrison at Gaeta, north of Naples, and stormed and captured Capri. In June, AMPHION’s boats led an attack on a castle at Cirello in Calabria, which was blown up. On 30th June, the frigate was part of the force that landed five thousand British troops on the Calabrian coast at Euphemia Bay, troops which deployed rapidly ashore and, on 4th July 1806, overwhelmed a superior French force at the Battle of Maida. Smith was anxious to exploit this setback to French land forces in Calabria and so sent Hoste and AMPHION, with a detachment of the 78th Highlanders, initially to support landings at Reggio di Calabria and Scilla and subsequently to aid Calabrian partisans in eastern Calabria between Catanzaro and Crotone, both of which towns were garrisoned by French soldiers, although much of the coast and the interior was in the hands of the partisans. Hoste was given a small flotilla to accomplish this task and arrived off Catanzaro on 14th July, subsequently heartening the partisans by effectively bombarding a French expedition from the town aimed at capturing stores on the coast and causing it to retreat with considerable loss. The flotilla then moved east towards Crotone, which caused the French to send reinforcements from Catanzaro, reinforcements that were accurately bombarded and largely dispersed by AMPHION as they marched along the coast road between the two towns. Crotone was next bombarded and all-but evacuated by the French, who retreated towards Taranto leaving a skeleton garrison that surrendered to Hoste on 30th July. By 4th August, AMPHION had returned to Palermo, the Sicilian seat of the exiled Bourbon court while Naples was occupied by the French. AMPHION remained in the Mediterranean, cruising back and forth between Sicily and Malta, where she was refitted twice – October-December 1806 and February-March 1807 – before being ordered back to England on 24th March 1807.xiii

It seems that, despite her orders, AMPHION was still in Malta when Midshipman Dalling was discharged from her, with effect from 16th April 1807, to join HMS ROYAL GEORGE and so end his first period of service under Captain William Hoste, since, in a note signed by Hoste on 16th April, Dalling’s captain noted that the ship is still in port on that island. The note would have been intended for Dalling to keep and to show, among his logs and other papers, to the board of captains that would eventually examine him for his fitness to be commissioned lieutenant: it reads as follows.

‘Mr John Windham Dalling served as a Midshipman on board His Majesty’s Ship Amphion under my Command from the fourth day of April 1806 to the sixteenth day of April 1807; during which time he behaved himself with diligence, attention and sobriety, and was always obedient to Command.’xiv

It is known that Midshipman Dalling joined HMS ROYAL GEORGE on 17th April 1807 and probable that his new ship was in Malta at the time, having returned from a controversial expedition to the Dardanelles, in which she and the rest of the squadron of which she had been the flagship had been damaged by Turkish gunfire – some of it involving marble cannonballs of immense size and resultant destructive power. His new ship was a First Rate ship-of-the-line of 100 guns built in Chatham 1784-88 and which had seen her first battle on 1st June 1794; her captain was Richard Dalling Dunn, who is said to have been a protégé of the admiral whose flag the ship wore, Vice Admiral Sir John Duckworth KB (1748-1817). Since the ship’s captain’s middle name suggests a personal connection between him and Midshipman Dalling’s family, it is possible that Dalling’s appointment to ROYAL GEORGE owed something to personal influence. Since Admiral Duckworth had served as an officer on the West Indies station in the late 1770s and as a captain at Jamaica in the early 1780s – the period when Midshipman Dalling’s father was governor of the island – it is also possible that the admiral had reasons to favour the newly joined midshipman and so may have influenced his transfer to the flagship, the largest ship on which Dalling had ever served by that point in his career. Although Dalling served aboard ROYAL GEORGE for six months, and clearly came home to England in her, we know little of his service at that time; his surviving midshipman’s log records just the period 14th June to 18th October 1807, during which period the ship was at Plymouth being refitted, and the Ship’s Muster records that he was on leave 20th June to 17th July 1807.xv

On 18th October 1807, Dalling left HMS ROYAL GEORGE and returned to HMS AMPHION, being entered in her Ship’s Muster as joining on 19th October and appearing on 4th November 1807; at the time, the ship was in Portsmouth harbour undergoing the last stages of a prolonged refit and awaiting orders to escort a convoy to the Mediterranean. As Dalling’s surviving midshipman’s log records, the ship moved from Portsmouth harbour out to Spithead on 14th November 1807, where she was badly damaged on her starboard bow by HMS SUPERB colliding with her four days later – the repairs necessitating work that occupied the time until 4th December. On 18th January 1808, her convoy having assembled, HMS AMPHION ‘weighed and stood for the Needles’, subsequently mooring off Yarmouth at the western end of the Isle of Wight awaiting a fair wind to take her and the convoy south-west down the Channel; this wind arrived on 20th January and by the 23rd the convoy was anchored in Carrick Roads, Falmouth, where it remained for three days. Foul winds and gales from the south-west prevented any progress being made until early February but eventually the weather improved and the convoy arrived in Malta on 26th March 1808. At the end of the month AMPHION was ordered to proceed to Sicily and thence to Corfu to observe the activities of the French fleet but once that fleet had evaded its pursuers and had returned to Toulon, the ship’s time was taken up in patrolling the waters between Menorca and Sardinia. It is clear that Dalling had impressed Hoste with his grasp of seamanship by this point in their relationship because, with effect from 18th April 1808, Dalling ceased to be a midshipman and was thenceforth rated master’s mate, or ‘mate’ for short: this was not altogether a promotion but more of a recognition that Dalling was capable of exercising a large degree of responsibility in managing the ship, was able to lead men and was a reliable navigator. In his new rating, Dalling would have taken a full part in such actions as that at Rosas on 12th May 1808, when AMPHION drove ashore and severely damaged a French armed storeship mounting thirty guns and moored under the protection of three heavy shore batteries.xvi

With the French in control of the Italian peninsula, the east coast of the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian archipelago, the Adriatic was an area in which huge amounts of French commercial traffic flourished and one in which, because of anti-French partisan activity on the east coast, many aspects of the French war effort could be successfully harassed by British warships – ideally ones, such as frigates, that could operate close inshore. In the spring of 1808 HMS UNITÉ (40; Captain Patrick Campbell) was sent by Collingwood to the Adriatic. Campbell, who died a vice admiral and a knight, was quickly very successful in capturing or destroying quantities of both commercial and naval craft, most enemy naval ships in the Adriatic at that time being little larger than gunboats. In June 1808 Hoste and AMPHION were ordered to the Adriatic, a sea in which Hoste was to enhance his already considerable reputation and Dalling was to take part in an action that would see his name appearing, albeit mis-spelled, in The London Gazette. After an initially successful cruise, AMPHION returned to Malta to refit at the end of December 1808. At that time Hoste noted that, in the Adriatic, his ship’s boats had taken 38 enemy vessels and burnt six; the following year was to be even more successful for the captain one of his biographers was to call ‘Lord of the Adriatic’.xvii

Early in January 1809, AMPHION returned to the Adriatic, from which HMS UNITÉ’s departure in February made Hoste the senior British naval officer in that sea for a time. During the year, Hoste’s flotilla grew in size and most of AMPHION’s actions in the Adriatic were undertaken in company with other, generally smaller, ships or by AMPHION’s boats in company with the boats of other ships. Further evidence of Hoste’s confidence in Dalling’s abilities came on 4th January 1809 when the master’s mate was given the acting commission of lieutenant and seconded for two months to the brig-sloop IMOGEN, which was one of the small craft operating under Hoste’s command in the Adriatic. IMOGEN’s captain was Commander William Stephens and she mounted sixteen 24-pounder carronades on slides; Dalling remained aboard her as an acting lieutenant until 1st March 1809, when he returned to his former rating aboard HMS AMPHION. Throughout 1809, a constant series of raids were made upon ports, forts, batteries and anchorages on the coast of the Adriatic, with considerable loss being sustained by the enemy and, by late December 1809, Hoste was able to write to his father from off Trieste that, ‘from the 23rd June 1808 to Christmas Day 1809, Amphion has taken and destroyed two hundred and eighteen vessels of the enemy.’. This figure does not include the signal stations destroyed, the stores captured or burnt, the forts blown up or the shore batteries pulverised by sustained naval bombardment and it also only accounts for the destruction meted out by one ship: as one of Hoste’s biographers has stated, the actions of Hoste’s flotilla and its successor formations resulted in, ‘virtually stopping the coastal trade’ in the Adriatic. In April 1809, Hoste was superseded as senior officer in the Adriatic by Captain (later Vice Admiral Sir) Jahleel Brenton (1770-1844), commanding the 32-gun frigate HMS SPARTAN, and AMPHION was part of Brenton’s flotilla that bombarded the port of Pesaro on 23rd April, an action that resulted in the destruction of the town’s fort, the capture of thirteen heavily laden merchant vessels and the sinking of every remaining vessel in the anchorage. As he noted in his record of service, Master’s Mate John Dalling was a witness to this remarkable campaign of destruction and he specifically noted that he participated in the action at Pesaro, probably serving in one of the ship’s boats that were so much a part of raids into ports and operations in shallow waters. Despite Brenton’s seniority in the Adriatic, Hoste often acted independently of the senior officer’s flotilla and the one occasion on which Dalling’s participation came to be mentioned by Hoste in an official letter that ultimately appeared in The London Gazette occurred on 27th August 1809 in an assault by AMPHION’S boats upon the fort at Cortellazzo, at the mouth of the River Piave, north east of Venice. The fort at Cortellazzo protected an anchorage in which the French had stationed a flotilla of gunboats whose role was to convoy the coastal trade between Venice and Trieste; although in the open sea gunboats were no match for a frigate, their being powered largely by oars meant that they had greater versatility of movement inshore and in shallow waters – their capture or destruction was, therefore, of some considerable importance. xviii

Hoste’s plan was that a force of seamen and marines from AMPHION would land from boats under cover of darkness on the coast south-west of the fort of Cortellazzo, advance upon the fort, capture it and train its guns and their muskets on the anchorage, which would then be assaulted from the sea by the remaining ship’s boats, whose task it would be to cut out and remove from the anchorage the gunboats and as many commercial vessels as could be secured; the fort’s guns would then be spiked and the fort itself blown up. The operation was faultlessly executed, was carried out without the loss of a man and with only one marine wounded. Hoste’s letter of 28th August 1809 to Collingwood was published in The London Gazette on 2nd December 1809 and recorded the capture of six heavily armed gunboats and two laden merchant vessels, with five more merchant vessels being burnt in the estuary. Among those officers named in Hoste’s letter as being, ‘employed on Shore and in the Boats of His Majesty’s Ship Amphion, W. Hoste Esq; Captain, at the Attack of the Enemy’s Force at Cortellazzo, on the Morning of 27th August, 1809’ was ‘J. Dalleny, Master’s-Mate’, an unfortunate mis-reading by a type-setter of Dalling’s name that he noted in his record of service as, ‘miscalled in the Gazette Dalleny’.xix

HMS AMPHION remained in the Adriatic until being ordered to Malta to refit in January 1810, to which island she returned on 5th February 1810. Dalling’s period of service with Hoste and AMPHION ended on Malta on 22nd February 1810 when he was discharged to HMS CENTAUR (74; Captain William Henry Webley), the flagship of Rear Admiral Sir Samuel Hood, Bart., KB (1762-1814). Dalling later recorded that he served in CENTAUR as a supernumerary ‘awaiting promotion’ and during the six months that he served as part of the ship’s company she spent most of the time on station off Toulon as part of the Royal Navy’s sustained blockade of that important French naval base. By the time of his transfer to HMS CENTAUR, Dalling would have qualified for commissioning as a lieutenant – the minimum requirements being the attainment of the age of at least twenty and six years spent at sea with at least two of those years spent as either a midshipman or master’s mate – and so it seems likely that, while on the Toulon blockade, he was waiting for the necessary examining board of captains to be convened. Dalling left HMS CENTAUR on 18th August 1810 but while serving on that ship may have made the acquaintance of Midshipman Frederick Marryat (1792-1848), who is known to have served as a midshipman on CENTAUR in 1810 and who later became famous as the first notable naval novelist. On 19th August 1810 Dalling became an acting lieutenant on HMS VILLE DE PARIS (110; Captain Richard Thomas), the flagship of Rear Admiral Thomas Fremantle (1765-1819), who had commanded HMS NEPTUNE at Trafalgar. Dalling served on the ship under a succession of captains before having his commission as lieutenant confirmed with effect from 19th October 1810 and he remained a lieutenant on VILLE DE PARIS on the Toulon blockade until 3rd October 1811.xx

Dalling’s final period of wartime service was as a lieutenant on three different ships stationed at the Cape of Good Hope between August 1812 and 14th June 1814. His first ship on that station was HMS LION (64; Captain Henderson Bain), the flagship of Rear Admiral Robert Stopford (1768-1847), the commander-in-chief at the Cape until late in 1812; as a captain, Dalling was to serve again under Admiral Stopford when that officer was commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean in 1840. His second ship was HMS SEMIRAMIS (36; Captain George Richardson), an Apollo class frigate, and his third ship was another flagship, HMS MEDWAY (74; Captain Augustus Brine), which wore the flag of Rear Admiral Charles Tyler (1760-1835), Admiral Stopford’s successor as commander-in-chief at the Cape and captain of HMS TONNANT at Trafalgar, where he was severely wounded. On 15th June 1814, Dalling was promoted master and commander and returned home to await a command of his own.xxi

Dalling’s first independent command was the brig-sloop HMS NIMROD, a Cruiser class ship built at Sheerness 1811-12 which had seen wartime service in North American waters during the War of 1812-14, participating in the capture of the American privateer Yorktown on 7th July 1813. NIMROD mounted sixteen 32-pounder carronades and two 6-pounder bow-chasers and when Dalling took command of her, on 1st January 1817, was based on the Leith station in south-east Scotland. She was aptly named since her role, in patrolling the south-east coast of Scotland and especially the Firth of Forth and the smaller Scottish ports of Fife and East Lothian, was to hunt for smugglers operating in that area. As Dalling’s letter-book reveals, he and his ship spent most of his period of command patrolling the Scottish south-east coast from the Fife fishing ports down as far as Eyemouth, regularly stopping and searching vessels suspected of smuggling and chasing others that resisted being stopped and searched. NIMROD regularly returned to Sheerness and the Nore for repairs and was paid off there on 24th June 1819, when Dalling’s command ceased. It is clear that Dalling was liked and respected by his subordinates since, at the end of 1819, the three captains of the Revenue cruisers ROYAL CHARLOTTE, REGENT and PRINCE OF WALES that had been under his command presented him with a silver cup, the letter accompanying the gift asking that, ‘you will honor us with the acceptance of the accompanying cup as a small mark of our respect and we beg to assure you that we shall feel most happy to serve again under your Command.’.xxii

After being paid off from NIMROD, Dalling was unemployed and on half pay for nearly seven years, although he was appointed trustee and named as principal legatee in the will of his mother and since she died in 1824, that will inevitably have involved him in the administration of her will in that year. On 18th April 1826, he took command of HMS RALEIGH at Chatham; RALEIGH was a sister-ship to NIMROD, also being a Cruiser class brig-sloop, and had been built at Newcastle 1806-07. She had had extensive wartime service – in the Bay of Biscay, the North Sea, the Baltic, North American waters and at Jamaica – and Dalling was under orders to sail with her to the Mediterranean. RALEIGH left Chatham on 11th July 1826 and, touching at Portsmouth eight days later, arrived in Malta on 2nd September. Since 1821 much of the eastern Mediterranean had been in a ferment during the Greek War for Independence from the Turkish empire: Britain maintained the strongest naval presence in the Mediterranean and also had important trading interests throughout the Near East and Levant, particularly in the port of Smyrna (now Izmir) – which had been a major trading centre between east and west since the late Middle Ages. Because of the instability in the region, and also because of the rivalry between Britain, France and Russia for influence in the eastern Mediterranean, one of the tasks of the Royal Navy in that area was to secure and maintain British political and trading interests. Smyrna was RALEIGH’s first destination, as Dalling’s letter-book reveals, and the ship arrived there on 5th November 1826, having left Malta on 12th September. Dalling and his ship remained in the vicinity of the port until late in November, after which RALEIGH sailed to Alexandria, where she remained until early January 1827. After a lengthy period in Malta, 26th January to 1st April 1827, Dalling was ordered to Corfu and RALEIGH seems to have remained cruising in the area between Corfu and Smyrna – although occasionally returning to Malta – until March 1828. Dalling and his ship were not present at the great battle of Navarino, or Navarin, on 20th October 1827, when the combined fleets of Britain, France and Russia destroyed a Turkish fleet, but HMS RALEIGH – for all that her main armament was equal at close range to that of a medium-sized frigate – would have been outgunned in any fleet action between line-of-battleships. Dalling was promoted to post-captain on 2nd January 1828 and so had to be superseded in his command, a post-captain being too senior to command a sloop. Dalling’s successor arrived in Smyrna, where RALEIGH was moored, on 19th March 1828 and Dalling handed over command of HMS RALEIGH to him. On 21st March 1828, the principal British merchants trading in Smyrna wrote him a letter of congratulations on his promotion that went on to thank him for his, ‘courtesy in personal intercourse as well [as] attention and zeal for our protection and general Commercial interests whilst Superior Commanding Officer in this port and [while] the functions of our civil Authority [are] suspended [.these] call for our sincere thanks and will ever be held by us in grateful remembrance.’. Dalling transferred to the sloop HMS WEAZLE, in which his successor had travelled to Smyrna to relieve him, and returned to Malta in her.xxiii

Dalling was on half pay for the next decade but from 1830 to 1835 acted as secretary to a committee of naval officers established to raise funds for and commission a monument to Captain Sir William Hoste, Bart., KCB, who had died of tuberculosis on 6th December 1828. In the first three months that Dalling acted as secretary to the committee, March to June 1830, the funds raised for the monument jumped from £165 to £770.6.0 (£770.30; approximately £38,000 in 2012) and the sculptor for the monument was chosen. The sculptor was Thomas Campbell (1791-1858) and the marble for the monument was bought at Carrara and conveyed to England on a ship of the Royal Navy by arrangement with Vice Admiral Sir Pulteney Malcolm KCB (1768-1838), then commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean. The monument was erected in St Paul’s Cathedral in 1834.xxiv

Dalling received his final command, that of HMS DAPHNE, on 15th November 1838. DAPHNE was an 18-gun corvette and the eponymous ship of her class, being rated a 6th Rate ship and carrying her main armament on an open upper deck; she had been built in Pembroke Dockyard 1835-38 and Dalling was her first captain, charged with commissioning her and taking her to the Mediterranean. According to the abbreviated log that survives among Dalling’s private papers, DAPHNE cleared the Isle of Wight, presumably having been commissioned in Portsmouth, on 2nd February 1839 and arrived off Lisbon fifteen days later, cruising off Cadiz and in the western Mediterranean until arriving in Malta in July 1839. Thenceforth, for the remainder of her commission, DAPHNE cruised in the eastern Mediterranean, with Malta as her base, visiting Sicily twice and Smyrna and Naples once but spending considerable amounts of time in Malta. Late in 1840, under command of Admiral Sir Robert Stopford GCB GCMG (1768-1847) – in whose flagship at the Cape of Good Hope Dalling had served as a lieutenant in 1812, HMS DAPHNE was involved in operations off the coast of Syria, where the balance of power in the eastern Mediterranean was being threatened by a revolt among the Sultan of Turkey’s Egyptian subjects, led by Egypt’s governor and tacitly encouraged by the French. DAPHNE was among the British fleet that covered the landings of British Royal Marines and allied forces on the Syrian coast on 9th September 1840 and she remained stationed in that area and off Smyrna until March 1842. She left Malta to return home on 20th March 1842, arrived off Beachy Head on 8th May 1842 and was paid off at Chatham later in May 1842.xxv

On 10th June 1844, Dalling married Frances Anne Fanshawe (1813-1901), eldest daughter of Colonel Edward Fanshawe CB, late Royal Engineers; there were no children of the marriage. Dalling remained on half pay until 1848, when he retired from the Royal Navy on pension; in the same year, he was awarded the Naval General Service Medal 1793-1840 with the two clasps Trafalgar and 28 Aug. Boat Service 1809, the second clasp being dated in respect of Captain Hoste’s official letter and not the actual date of the Boat Action that had resulted in Dalling’s name appearing in The London Gazette. Captain and Mrs Dalling seem to have gone to live at Earsham Hall in Norfolk, one of the seats of Dalling’s elder brother, Sir William Windham Dalling, Baronet, and Captain John Windham Dalling was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for Norfolk on 23rd November 1852. Dalling died at Earsham Hall on 10th October 1853 and was buried in the churchyard of the parish church of All Saints in Earsham.xxvi


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