3 December 2003
NELSON, Horatio, Viscount (1758-1805). Autograph letter signed ('Nelson & Bronte') to Lady Hamilton (his 'Own Dear Beloved Emma'), Victory, 20 January 1804, 3 1/8 pages, 4to (traces of guard and paper hinges at centre-fold).
Nelson sends a gift for Horatia: 'I send a very neat watch for our God child and you will see it is by a good maker that is I suppose it will tick for a year instead of a month or so You will impress upon her that it is only to be worn when she behaves well and is obedient'.
An account follows of his current preoccupations, the first his relationship with the royal family at Naples, where 'Mr Elliott is a great minister but I doubt whether the Queen has much real friendship for him ... I believe that Mr E. had rather that Acton and the King & Queen looked to him for my services than applying to myself, but circumstanced as I have been and am with that Court Sir William gave it up and no other person shall deprive me of the immediate communication. No my dear Emma what I do for them shall be from myself and not through him'; the second, his negotiations with the Dey of Algiers whose insolent conduct (he had dismissed the British consul) Nelson attributes to Mr North's giving him £30,000.
Nelson had successfully lobbied Elliott to persuade the King of Naples to ask for his return, but was unhappy with the terms offered. In the course of the previous year, writing often of Horatia, he appeared close to requesting to leave the Fleet, and at the time of the present letter, Emma (to whom he is also sending the gift of a comb) was about to give birth to their second child, a daughter who did not survive. He had written some months before to Horatia to put on record that he was her father, although in his will she was described as his adopted daughter and Lady Hamilton appointed her guardian. In correspondence she was often referred to as his god child, preserving the fiction that she had been entrusted to his care in 1801 (some months before her actual birth).
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