3 December 2003
NELSON, Horatio, Viscount (1758-1805). Autograph letter signed ('Nelson & Bronte') to Sir William Scott, n.p., 5 May 1803, 2 pages, 4to (on mourning paper, integral leaf removed).
'If we have the Blessings of Peace continued to us I will dine with you on the 14th with real pleasure. If war I shall either be gone or so near it that I trust you will excuse me'.
Writing on the eve of the outbreak of war with France, Nelson refers to the 'Prize bill', remarking that his correspondent would have made one in two hours 'after enquiring were [sic] the abuses existed'. The 'encouraging [of] seamen to fly to the Navy instead of from it is a subject which Mr Addington and all of us must have much at heart'. Nelson's concerns about the distribution of prize money were exacerbated by the insupportable delay in distributing it after the Battle of Copenhagen, two years before.
The letter is on mourning paper for Sir William Hamilton, who had died in Lady Hamilton's arms, and with Nelson holding his hand, on 6 April. Sir William Scott (later Baron Stowell) was judge of the high court of Admiralty from 1798-1828.
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