Horatio, Viscount Nelson, and Emma Hamilton | two autograph letter signed, to Catherine and George Matcham, 1805
Horatio, Viscount Nelson, and Emma Hamilton
(i) Horatio, Viscount Nelson, and Emma Hamilton, joint autograph letter, probably incomplete at the beginning, written and signed by both, to Nelson's sister Catherine Matcham, Emma urging Catherine and her family "to Come as soon as you Can" to visit them at Merton, and explaining that Nelson is very busy as "sir Peter Parker & god knows who" are at Merton; Nelson reiterating his desire to see her and her husband, and promising support to her husband's friends in New South Wales on behalf of the Governor; 2 pages, 4to, integral autograph address leaf signed by Nelson, Merton, 22 August 1805, postmarked,
(ii) Emma Hamilton, autograph letter signed, to George Matcham, sending greetings to him and is wife Catherine, assuring him that Nelson "shall be most most happy to see you at Merton", as she will be to see him at her London residence on Clarges Street ("...Nelson when he is in town goes to an Hotel the town is wild to see him what a day of rejoicing was yesterday at Merton how happy he is to see us all I have not time to say more..."); 2 pages, 4to, Clarges Street, London, fragment of integral blank, [late August 1805]
FAMILY LETTERS FROM NELSON'S FINAL SHORE LEAVE. The earlier letter dates just two days after Nelson struck his flag at Spithead, and the second probably dates from just a few days later. These were busy weeks for Nelson, who had numerous meetings with Pitt, other ministers, well-wishers, and opposition politicians, as well as naval figures such as Admiral of the Fleet Sir Peter Parker, as he prepared to depart on his final hunt for Villeneuve and the French fleet. Nelson was so busy with meetings for the forthcoming campaign that he took London rooms at Gordon's Hotel on Albemarle Street. Emma was not exaggerating the public adulation of Nelson just prior to Trafalgar: Lord Minto described how he was mobbed when he met Nelson on Piccadilly, "It is really quite affecting to see the wonder and admiration, and love and respect, of the whole world" (Knight, The Pursuit of Victory, p. 497). These letters show that despite being at the centre of the nation's attention, Nelson was very eager to have his family around him - and of course it would be their last chance to see their brother alive. Sadly Catherine and George Matcham lost a child in the days after this letter was written, but they arrived in Merton on 3 September.
Matcham family collection; Trafalgar: Nelson and the Napoleonic Wars, Sotheby's, London, 5 October 1805, lot 49
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