3 December 2003
NELSON, Horatio, Viscount (1758-1805). Autograph letter signed ('Your obliged & faithful friend Nelson & Bronte') to C[ornwall] Reynolds, Victory, 16 January 1805, 3 pages, 4to, docketed by the recipient with the date of receipt, (a few small spots, and slight wear in centre folds and edges).
An important letter, expressing Nelson's frustration at the unwillingness of the French fleet to put out from Toulon, and reflecting on the ironies of his reputation. Half the fleet think they [the Toulon fleet] will not make a move until I am gone, if that is so, I ought to take myself off as soon as possible for this fleet will send them to Hell let who will Command it and I am not so arrogant as to suppose its success in the least depends upon my presence'. Nelson also mentions that he expects Captain Layman with dispatches and refers to his superior officer, Sir John Orde ('You know I never was fortunes Golden favourite mine is the Age of Iron Sir John Orde's that of Gold.
The recipient of the letter appears to be Cornwall Reynolds, who had served under Nelson as surgeon in the Agamemnon. Sir John Orde had in the autumn of 1804 been appointed to keep watch off Cadiz which, as Nelson frequently complained, interfered with his command. Captain Layman, young and adventurous, was one of Nelson's favourites, and he interceded on his behalf several times when Layman's want of caution led to official censures and courtmartials.
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