NELSON, Horatio, Viscount (1758-1805). Autograph letter (unsigned at the end, but with 'Nelson' written three times in the text) to Lady Hamilton, n.p. [Foudroyant at sea], incompletely dated 'Wednesday 29 January - Thursday January 30 - Friday - Sunday noon [29 January - 2 February 1800]', 2½ pages, 4to, later annotation on blank verso of 2nd leaf (small tear from previous mounting touching one word, 2 tiny holes and small tear in blank area of 2nd leaf, traces of guard, annotated 'Lord Nelson' in an early 19th-century hand). Provenance: Calvin Bullock Collection (Christie's, New York, sale 19.12.1986 lot 200).
A PASSIONATE LOVE LETTER DESCRIBING AN EROTIC DREAM. The earliest of Nelson's love letters to Lady Hamilton which has survived.
'Seperated [sic] from all I hold dear in this World what is the use of living if indeed such an existence can be called so, nothing could alleviate such a seperation but the call of our Country but loitering time away with nonsence [sic] is too much ... Continue only to love your faithful Nelson as he loves his Emma, you are my guide I submit to you ... I can neither eat or sleep for thinking of you my dearest love, I never touch even pudding ... Last night I did nothing but dream of you altho' I woke 20 times in the night. In one of my dreams I thought I was at a large table you was [sic] not present, sitting between a Princess who I detest and another, they both tried to seduce me and the first wanted to take those liberties with me which no woman in this world but yourself ever did, the consequence was I knocked her down and in the moment of bustle you came in and taking me to your embrace wispered I love nothing but you my Nelson, I kissed you fervently and we enjoy'd the height of love ... '
This remarkably uninhibited passage, written during Nelson's return voyage to Palermo from Leghorn where he had been summoned for a meeting with Lord Keith, offers the earliest unequivocal evidence that his increasingly amorous friendship with Lady Hamilton had been transformed into a passionate love affair. The depth of Nelson's commitment is unmistakeable, regretting 'with the bitterest anguish that there any obstacles from us being united in the closest ties of this World's rigid rules, as we are in those of our love'. His marriage to Fanny was now merely an obstacle, and his daughter by Lady Hamilton, Horatia was conceived a few weeks after his return to Palermo.