3 December 2003
NELSON, Horatio, Viscount (1758-1805). Autograph letter signed ('Nelson') to Sir Morton Eden (British Ambassador Extraordinary at Vienna), Naples, 10 December 1798, 2 pages, 4to, integral blank leaf (upper portion torn away).
Nelson supports Eden's view that the Emperor's indecisive action in Italy endangers the Neapolitan monarchy ('I will suffer to have my head cut off if the Emperor is not only defeated in Italy but that he totters on his throne in Vienna'). He sends assurances to the Empress that he will save the King and Queen and her brothers and sisters, and has ships at Leghorn for the purpose, concluding with a flourish of anti-French sentiment, 'down down with the French ought to be placed in the Council room of every Country in the World'.
Nelson had returned from the battle of the Nile to Naples in September, to a rapturous welcome from the Hamiltons and King Ferdinand I and his Queen, Maria Carolina, sister of the Emperor Joseph II. His duties were to promote active cooperation with the Neapolitan and Austrian armies, and to protect Sicily, Naples and the Adriatic, but he was much hindered by the complicated political situation at Naples. His secret preparations for the evacuation of the royal family to Sicily began only a few days after the present letter, and the French army entered Naples on 23 January.
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