London, South Kensington
8 June 2004
NELSON, Horatio, Viscount (1758-1805). Autograph letter signed ('your faithful & affectionate friend, Nelson & Bronte') to Captain [Thomas] Foley, 'Victory off Toulon', 13 October 1803, 3¼ pages, 4to, the date repeated in a different hand on the last page (slightly browned, stains in upper corners, small tears in centre fold and lower edges, 4 small holes touching 3 words); and a copy of J.B. Herbert's Life and Services of Admiral Sir Thomas Foley (1884).
A characteristically warm letter on hearing of Foley's loss [the death of his brother Richard]. 'My dear Foley I only desire that you will always charge yourself in reminding me of your Nephew in whatever station I may be. I should be most ungrateful if I could for a moment forget your public support of me in the day of battle or your private friendship which I esteem most highly'. Predicting that he 'shall certainly not be employ'd until 1806 -- not probably till 1804', Nelson expects the French to put to sea 'every hour', adding that 'We are all in good humour, well manned and in high spirits. What can a Commander in Chief want more, only to get alongside the French fleet'. He gives news of other Commanders, and suggests that the Mediterranean might suit Foley better than 'the Black Rocks, North Seas, or West Indies'.
Nelson was appointed Commander in Chief in the Mediterranean in May 1803, and throughout the late summer waited off Toulon to engage the enemy while being much occupied with the provisioning and general administration of his fleet. Thomas Foley was one of the 'Band of Brothers', the captains who had served with Nelson at the Battle of the Nile and in the Baltic.
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