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    Sale 7471

    Valuable Printed Books and Manuscripts

    14 November 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 50

    NELSON, Horatio, Viscount (1758-1805). Autograph letter signed ('Nelson & Bronte') to Sir John Orde, 1st Bart, Victory, 6 April 1805, 1½ pages, 4to, docketed by recipient. Provenance: Sir John Orde, 1st Bart, and by descent; private collection.

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    NELSON, Horatio, Viscount (1758-1805). Autograph letter signed ('Nelson & Bronte') to Sir John Orde, 1st Bart, Victory, 6 April 1805, 1½ pages, 4to, docketed by recipient. Provenance: Sir John Orde, 1st Bart, and by descent; private collection.

    NEWS OF THE FRENCH BREAK-OUT FROM TOULON. A breathlessly unpunctuated letter reports the situation: 'The French fleet saild on sunday the 31st March from Toulon the wind at NE they steering SSW our frigates lost sight of them on Sunday Night ... I am between Sardinia and the Coast of Africa ... Their destination is entirely unknown but I should rather think it is Either Sardinia or Naples, Sicily the Morea or Egypt ...'.

    For once, Nelson's instincts were altogether wrong, for the destination of Villeneuve's fleet was westerly, to the Caribbean where he was intending to rendez-vous with the ships of the French fleet at Brest, before proceeding to the Channel to support Napoleon's planned invasion of England. Orde, with his much smaller squadron, prudently retreated northwards in the face of the break-out to cover the Channel entries, although his failure to track Villeneuve's fleet was to involve him in some considerable criticism.


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