NELSON, Horatio, Viscount (1758-1805). Autograph letter signed ('Nelson & Bronte') to [Lady Hamilton], Brixham, 'Friday night 9 o'clock' and (on address panel) 'Feb[rua]ry 15th 1801', 3½ pages, 4to, autograph address panel, franking signature, red wax seal, bearing an impression (worn) of Lady Hamilton's portrait (worn, seal tear in blank margin, traces of guard). Provenance: Edwin Wolf 2nd Collection (Christie's sale, 21.6.1989, lot 241).
Nelson answers Emma's provocations and accusations of infidelity.: 'As for the P[rince] of W[ales] I know his character and my confidence is firm as a rock till you try to irritate me to say hard things, that you may have the pleasure of scolding me, but recollect it must remain 4 days before it can be made up not as before in happy times 4 minutes. Consider my dear friend what you ought to say if I did not fire at your scolding letters and suppose me, if it is possible for a mom[en]t answering your scolds with a joke. I know I should fire if I thought that of you, that you was indifferent; but firing like the devil with vexation, anger and retorting, can only proceed from conscious innocence'.
In the weeks after Horatia's birth, Nelson and Lady Hamilton conducted a tiff by letter, based on mutual accusations of infidelity, and in particular Nelson's frantic suspicions of the Prince of Wales. He repeatedly assures Emma of his own faithfulness, in the present letter describing his evening 'alone with all your letters except the cruel one that is burnt, and I have scratched out all the scolding words and have read them 40 times over and if you was to see how much better and prettier they read I am sure you would never write another scolding word to me'.
The letter also mentions Hardy, who is preparing his quarters on board [the San Josef], and gives details of the delivery of their letters by various friends including Davison, Troubridge and Evan Nepean, and Nelson remarks that he is better for giving up wine. The letter concludes more romantically, 'Good night, and good night. I could say it till tomorrow ... May the heavens bless you, good night'.