Lot 134
  • 134

Nelson, Horatio Lord

15,000 - 20,000 GBP
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  • Nelson, Horatio Lord
  • Autograph letter signed ("Nelson & Bronte"), to Emma Hamilton, ON HIS IMMINENT DEPARTURE ON THE VICTORY
  • ink on paper
discussing the arrival of his personal effects on board ("...my sopha & the Large chair are not in any of the list therefore I fear for them..."), commenting on the state of organisation at Portsmouth and that "the Victory is in a pretty state of confusion and I have not moved my Cot from the amphion", expressing his yearning for her company ("...Believe me I hate every thing here the misery of the Place is striking and without you I am sure every place will be the same...") and some envy towards the Prince of Wales ("...I admire the Princes calling but I am confident that none will get into your Company I feel strong on that point and you must think the same..."), writing of the fellow officers also arriving to take their stations, including Admiral Lord Gardner ("... I shall get from him as soon as I can for they say there is much drinking..."), Alexander Davison, John Scott ("...almost worn out running about for me...") Samuel Sutton, Captain of H.M.S. Amphion ("a good man but not so active as Hardy"), Lord Minto, and George Elliot, 3 pages, 4to, integral address panel, Portsmouth, 19 May 1803, postal markings, divided imperfect impression of Nelson's "Emma" seal in black wax, seal tear, some nicks at folds, slight browning to address panel

"...the Wind is fair and I am mad at being detained..."


Catherine Matcham (née Nelson), thence by descent; Sotheby’s London, Trafalgar: Nelson and the Napoleonic Wars, 5 October 2005, lot 41


Extracts from this letter are printed in Matcham M Eyre, The Nelsons of Burnham Thorpe, 1911, pp.208-9.

Catalogue Note

NELSON PREPARES FOR WAR: A LETTER WRITTEN ON THE DAY NELSON RAISED HIS FLAG ON HMS VICTORY. This letter was written three days after Nelson received his commission as Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean fleet, and the day after war with France had been declared. Nelson was to sail two days later and would only return to Britain once more, for a brief period of shore leave shortly before the Battle of Trafalgar. This letter reveals the bustle around Nelson as he prepared to embark as he met with fellow admirals such as Gardner and Minto and gathered around him the men who would serve most closely with him in the coming years, such as Sutton, Hardy, and his new secretary John Scott (killed at Trafalgar). His concern at the state of the Victory was well-founded: her inexperienced crew was barely able to control the ship and three days out of Portsmouth Nelson was forced to transfer to the Amphion. His palpable excitement at his return to active duty was tempered only by his separation from Emma Hamilton (for Nelson's jealousy of the Prince of Wales see lot 131).    Nelson's "Emma" seal depicted her as a Bacchante and was taken from an intaglio by the Neopolitan based Teresa Talani (whose name is visible on the impression) given to him by Sir William Hamilton.