19 October 2005
HORATIO, VISCOUNT NELSON (1758-1805)
Autograph letter signed ('Nelson & Bronte') to Sir John Orde, 1st Bt, Victory, 1 April 1805, 1½ pages, 4to.
Provenance: Sir John Orde, 1st Bart; and by descent.
BICKERING WITH A RIVAL ADMIRAL. Nelson writes with thanks for Orde's good wishes to him, but 'I fear that respecting either my health or the meeting with the Enemy [they] will not soon happen', going on, with scarcely concealed envy, 'I can wish you nothing that you have not obtain'd, (as far as money will purchase) for by reports you will be the Richest Admiral that ever England saw'. He ends by reporting his own impending departure for England, and that 'my worthy Second' [Bickerton] is to be left in command in the Mediterranean.
The Admiralty's decision, in response to Nelson's repeated requests to for a recall on health grounds from his Mediterranean command, to place Admiral Sir John Orde with a squadron to blockade Cadiz, caused an unholy row, with Nelson unreasonably assuming that this was a deliberate move to deprive him of the rich prize money to be gained from the Spanish trans-Atlantic trade. Variations on the phrase 'the richest Admiral that ever England saw' appear repeatedly in letters around this date, although, writing on the same day as this to Lord Radstock, Nelson claimed that 'my soul soars above this consideration'.
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