Beresford’s complicated life is best summed up by the
publishers of a 2012 biography of Beresford, Admiral Insubordinate
by Richard Freeman.
“The British Navy never had any more wild, eccentric and
outrageous Admiral than Lord Charles Beresford.
In this new biography, the best-selling naval historian Richard Freeman tells
the story of Britain’s most insubordinate admiral, a man who mixed courage,
audacity and pomposity with spite, venom and malevolence.
Three times commander-in-chief, a Member of Parliament for twenty years, and a
public speaker who filled halls throughout the land – Lord Charles Beresford
was all of these. Yet he was also a naval captain who had so little sea
experience that he scrambled to qualify for flag rank. He endured long periods
of unemployment when in disgrace with the Admiralty, while his one foray into
ministerial life ended in resignation. He was also the most reprimanded naval
officer of his time – perhaps of all time.
Few men have enjoyed such fascinating and adventure-packed lives. The first ten
years of Beresford’s naval career took him to every corner of the globe. He saw
it all, from gold-mining to crucifixions, from the wild tribes of Terra del
Fuego to the shadowy figure of the Emperor of Japan. When not recklessly
throwing himself into perilous riding and wild hunting, he could be found
risking his life to rescue fellow sailors.
Yet, after a shaky start, Beresford’s career changed when, at the bombardment
of Alexandria in 1882 his tiny HMS Condor took on the guns of one of the
massive Egyptian forts. He was an overnight hero and remained so to his death.
Three years later his even more spectacular adventures in the Sudan made him
the hero of the failed campaign to rescue General Gordon from Khartoum.
But his official life was marred by his persistent hostility to the Admiralty
and government. He achieved the dubious honour of one Prime Minister (Lord
Salisbury) vowing never to employ him again in a political capacity, and one
First Lord of the Admiralty (Reginald McKenna) vowing never to employ him again
in the Navy. So antagonistic did he become that his naval career was
ignominiously ended by the curtailing of his final command. At the age of 64
all public appointments were closed to him. Never again did the Admiralty or
government call on him for any purpose. He still, though, made his mark and, as
an MP and then as a peer, he remained centre stage, speaking in Parliament up
to a few weeks before his death and still writing letters on the day he died.”
This is a fine ink signature, cut from a letter on a piece measuring 3.25" x 1.75". In very good condition.