James Morris, in Pax Brittanica (1968), described some British Naval Officers of the late Victorian Era.
Nothing in Nelsonâ€™s life appealed more to the British than his loyal disregard of orders, and in the 1890s the Royal Navy was rich in highly individual commanders. Algernon Charles FieschÃ© Heneage, ‘Pombo’ to the Navy, habitually carried a stock of 20 dozen piquÃ© shirts in his ship, was alleged to break two eggs every morning to dress his hair, and took off his uniform code when he said his prayers, because for a uniformed British officer to fall on his knees would be unthinkable. ‘Prothero the Bad’, Reginald Charles Prothero, was one of the most alarming persons ever to command to warship, with a black beard down to his waist, flaming eyes, huge shoulders, an enormous hook nose and a habit of addressing everyone as ‘boy’, even sometimes his eminent superiors. Arthur Wilson, ‘Old ‘Ard ‘Art’, when he commanded the Channel Squadron, used ride out of Portsmouth Dockyard on a ratty old bicycle, gravely saluted by the sentries, and on June 6, 1884, laconically entered in his diary: ‘Docked ship. Received the V.C.’ Gerard Noel, greeted with a cheery good morning on the bridge of his ship in the small hours, turned with a snarl and replied: ‘This is no time for frivolous complements.’ Robert Arbuthnot was so absolute a martinet not that when, soon after he handed over a ship to his successor, a seagull defecated with the plop upon the quarter-deck, the Chief Bosunâ€™s ate remarked without a smile: ‘That could never ‘ave ‘appened in Sir Robert’s day.’ William Packenham instructed his Turkish interpreter, when sent ashore to quell a rising in Asia Minor, and surrounded on all sides by angry brigands, ‘tell these ugly bastards that I am not going to tolerate any more of their bestial habits’: when an elderly lady at a civic luncheon asked him if he was married, he replied courteously: ‘No, Madame, no. I keep a loose woman in Edinburgh.’