3 December 2003
NELSON, Horatio, Viscount (1758-1805). Autograph letter signed ('Nelson') to Frances Nelson ('My Dear Fanny'), Palermo, 10 April 1799, 2½ pages, 4to, autograph address panel, red wax seal (seal cut affecting one letter of text, a few tiny holes in folds of second leaf). Provenance: Edwin Wolf 2nd Collection (Christie's sale, 21.6.1989, lot 226).
Nelson makes excuses for the infrequency of his letters, and reminds Fanny of the impossibility of her joining him. 'You must not think it possible for me to write even to you so much as I used to, in truth I have such quantities of writing public letters, that my private correspondence has been and must continue to be greatly neglected. You would by Feb[ruar]y have seen how unpleasant it would have been had you followed any advice which would have carried you from England to a Wandering Sailor, I could if you had come only have struck my flag and carried you back again for it would have been impossible to have set up an establishment at either Naples or Palermo ... Good Sir William, Lady Hamilton and myself are the mainsprings of the machine which manage what is going on in this country'; the refers too to the death of Sir William Suckling (his uncle).
Written when the euphoria surrounding his arrival at Naples had worn off, and Nelson and the Hamiltons had delivered the King and Queen safely to Palermo. His friendship with Lady Hamilton was to become more intense only later in the year, when the tone of his infrequent letters to Fanny became noticeably more distant. He finally parted from her in February 1801.
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