3 June 2009
NELSON. Autograph letter signed ('Nelson & Bronte') to [the commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean], Major General William Anne Villettes, Victory, 3 August 1804, 6 pages, 4to, on bifolia, docketed on last blank by recipient.
ON DESERTERS, RECRUITING AND POLITICAL NEWS. Nelson has been vexed by the question of the exchange of deserters in his attempts to recruit near his base at the Maddalena Islands (off Sardinia), agreeing with Villettes on 'the general principle of deserters not being given up', but admitting that he has agreed with the Sardinian governement 'that if my deserters were given up that none of theirs should be received'; Nelson criticises the activities of Captain Morati in recruiting on the Sardinian Maddalena Islands, 'in direct breach of neutrality', which he would never have sanctioned if he had understood that his pledge 'never to receive a Sardinian deserter, was to be at the expence of deserters from the British fleet'; concerning the prospect of an incoming draught of seamen he remarks 'I am ordered and therefore obey but I am not very fond of too many foreigners in our ships'; the letter continues with a summary of political news from London, including the possibility of a change of ministry: 'I am of no party I hope and believe that any administration will ever act to the best of their Judgement ... I am not one of those who think that the safety of the state depends upon any one or upon one hundred men', concluding with news of a new French order of knighthood 'for certain persons in the Legion of honor, Red Ribbon, star with 5 points Buonaparte in the centre crowned with Laurels ...'.
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