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Horatio, Viscount Nelson (1768-1805)
Horatio, Viscount Nelson (1768-1805)
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Horatio, Viscount Nelson (1768-1805)


Horatio, Viscount Nelson (1768-1805)
Letter to George Galway Mills. 2 April 1799
NELSON, Horatio, Viscount (1758-1805). Autograph letter signed ('Nelson', as Baron Nelson of the Nile) to George Galway Mills, Palermo, 2 April 1799.

One page, 232 x 189mm. Integral address panel to Mills in Moreton-in-Marsh, redirected to St James's Street, London, with date of receipt noted as 15 July. Tipped onto a mount.

On his victory at the Battle of the Nile: 'no officer ... ever commanded such a squadron ... I should have been a beast not to have made use of them'. Nelson writes in response to a letter of congratulation from an old Caribbean acquaintance: 'I thank you most sincerely for your kind congratulations on the event of the Battle of the Nile. As no officer I will venture to say ever commanded such a squad[ro]n I should have been a beast not to have made use of them, thank God for all things'. Nelson is delighted to agree to be godfather to Mills's son, jointly with the former Governor of Bengal, Warren Hastings (the subject of a long impeachment trial for corruption which had ended in 1795): 'pray assure Mr H[astings] that I have long desired the honor of his acquaintance and that I have always considered his Eminent qualifications as having drawn upon him the hatred and malice of his envious persecutors. I regret not having at that period been in the house of Peers that I might have join[e]d the worthy in the protection of Innocence'. The letter closes with enquiries about and good wishes to Mills's family, including his uncle and aunt on the island of Nevis.

Nelson's comprehensive destruction of the French fleet in the Battle of the Nile on 1 August 1798 was perhaps his most brilliant victory, and his strong attachment to the squadron he led into the battle is crystallised in his use of the phrase 'band of brothers' to describe the Nile captains. The recipient of the letter, George Galway Mills (1765-1828), was a member of a plantation-owning family of St Kitts in the Caribbean, and his acquaintance with the Nelsons presumably originated there (Fanny Nelson came from the neighbouring island of Nevis). The letter is apparently unpublished.

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