3 December 2003
NELSON, Horatio, Viscount (1758-1805). Autograph letter signed ('Nelson & Bronte') to 'My Dear Mrs Thomson' [Lady Hamilton], n.p. [San Josef, Torbay], n.d. [3 February 1801], 2¼ pages, 8vo, addressed in autograph to 'Mrs Thomson' on verso of 2nd leaf, traces of seal (small seal tear in blank lower left corner, tiny hole in 2nd leaf at inner edge, repairs to centre-fold). Provenance: Edwin Wolf 2nd Collection (Christie's sale, 21.6.1989, lot 245).
NELSON PROMISES TO MARRY 'MRS THOMSON'. 'Your good and dear friend does not think it proper to write with his own hand but he hopes that the time may not be far distant when he may be united forever to the Object of his wishes, his only only love. He swears before heaven that he will marry you as soon as it is possible which he fervently prays may be soon'. On behalf of 'Mrs Thomson's friend' he asks her to kiss and bless his daughter, and to name her Emma 'out of gratitude to our dear, good Lady Hamilton', saying that he is sending her a hundred pounds, and reassuring 'Mrs Thomson' of his care of her friend.
Nelson had learned of Horatia's birth two days before when he wrote that 'Mrs Thomson's friend will go mad with joy'. He began at once the subterfuge of addressing her as 'Mrs Thomson, care of Lady Hamilton'. He wrote as if on behalf of Thomson, so that all remarks and enquiries about the child would be attributable to her apparent parents. His difficulty in maintaining this disguise shows in frequent inconsistencies and slips of the pen in the 'Thomson' letters. Later, after his notional adoption of her, Horatia was referred to as 'Horatia Nelson Thomson'.
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