During his life, and in the years following his death, Cochrane was frequently compared to Nelson, but such a comparison does him no favours: their backgrounds were very different, their naval careers had little in common, and their achievements were not remotely comparable. Nelson had the good fortune to be born at the right time so that he was in a position of relatively high command when the opportunities arose; in addition to his personal courage and his qualities as a bold tactician and an inspirational leader, he was the supreme exponent of pitched battles between fleets. Cochrane never commanded a squadron, let alone a fleet, until he arrived in South America and the circumstances and conditions there bore little resemblance to those that Nelson faced in Europe. A more meaningful comparison would be with those seamen who excelled at coastal raids such as Sir Francis Drake and Sir Henry Morgan - or John Paul Jones, a fellow Scot who became an American hero, made his name with some spectacular single-ship actions, but ended his career fighting for the Russian navy.
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