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    Sale 7471

    Valuable Printed Books and Manuscripts

    14 November 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 49

    NELSON, Horatio, Viscount (1758-1805). Autograph letter signed ('Nelson & Bronte') to Major General William Anne Villettes, Victory, Mad[d]alena [Sardinia], 31 December 1803, 2 pages, 4to, integral blank (minor discolouration to upper margin, offsetting onto integral blank).

    Price Realised  

    NELSON, Horatio, Viscount (1758-1805). Autograph letter signed ('Nelson & Bronte') to Major General William Anne Villettes, Victory, Mad[d]alena [Sardinia], 31 December 1803, 2 pages, 4to, integral blank (minor discolouration to upper margin, offsetting onto integral blank).

    THE FRENCH THREAT TO SARDINIA. Nelson explains why he has made an 'entirely official' request for troops from Villettes [in Malta] 'in case the French from Corsica should take possession of these islands [the Maddalena archipelago off northern Sardinia] in order to deprive us of the Harbour ... I hope that the French will remain quiet but they have threatened if the Sardinians do not shut their ports to us'; Nelson's ships are pinned down by the western gales, causing a frustrating separation from both their stores and their mails.

    William Anne Villettes, of Huguenot extraction, was 'one of the most popular and capable commanders in the British army' (ODNB); he had been commander in chief in the Mediterranean since July 1802. Villettes had earned Nelson's respect when they cooperated in the siege of Bastia (Corsica) in 1794. Nelson, the commander-in-chief of the Mediterranean Fleet, had made his base since the summer of 1803 at the Maddelena Islands with the aim of remaining far enough from the French fleet at Toulon to tempt them out, but near enough to catch them; he was to remain there until the dramatic French break-out in March 1805.


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