3 December 2003
NELSON, Horatio, Viscount (1758-1805). Autograph letter signed ('Nelson & Bronte') to Lady Hamilton ('My dear Lady Hamilton'), Plymouth, 26 January 1801, 3 pages, 4to, autograph address panel signed on verso of 2nd leaf, seal bearing an impression of Lady Hamilton's portrait (seal tear in blank margin). Provenance: Edwin Wolf 2nd Collection (Christie's sale 21.6.1989, lot 238).
A warning against the future George IV. 'When I consider that this day nine months was your birthday and that although we had a gale of wind, yet I was happy, and sung Come cheer me up fair Emma etc etc even the thought compared with this day makes me melancholy my heart is somehow sunk within me. I own that I wonder that Sir W[illia]m should have a wish for the Prince of Wales to come under your roof. No good can come from it, but every harm. You are too beautiful not to have enemies and even one visit will stamp you as his chere amie and we know he is dotingly fond of such women as yourself and is without one spark of honour in those respects, and would leave you to bewail your folly'.
In the days before the birth of Horatia, Nelson, absent from London, awaiting orders to sail to the North Sea and afflicted with a variety of minor illnesses, succumbed to suspicions and intense jealousy, centring particularly on the Prince of Wales's apparent interest in Emma. The Prince remarked to a group of friends that 'Lady Hamilton had hit his fancy', and observers had predicted some months before that she would captivate him.
Come cheer me up fair Emma was a set of verses composed by Cornelia Knight when sailing to Syracuse with Nelson and the Hamiltons the previous year and sung by her on Lady Hamilton's birthday, 26 April, to the tune of Heart of Oak.
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