NELSON Horatio - Autograph Letter Signed 1803 on board the Victory while blockading Toulon
Horatio NELSON (1758-1805)Autograph Letter Signed (“Nelson & Bronte”) to Major General William Villettes [Commander in Chief of the British Army in the Mediterranean, based at Malta], giving news of the situation in Spain, Genoa, Toulon and Sicily.
2 pages 4to, Victory, 27 August 1803.
“You can hardly expect news from us when one day merely passeth away & another cometh, patience is a virtue with us, the Enemy are ready to come forth, and we are perfectly ready to meet them, the time must be left to them, but it will arrive and soon in my opinion, & hope keeps us alert & healthy. By the French papers which probably you have seen you will know that there has been a serious riot, not to call it Rebellion in Dublin. Lord Kilwarden the chief justice was killed, but I am sure that all is quieted again. Spain as yet is friendly to us, how long it will last must be as the French please. Large bodys of Troops are collected at Genoa & at Toulon, that they are fixed & in rade. Sardinia is also certain, and in that Island no preparations are making to resist them and those in Sicily are very trifling indeed it seems more to keep us from interfering than to keep the French out, God grant us an honourable Peace and soon is the sincere wish of my Dear General of Your faithful friend.”
In a postscript, he adds “When you have read the papers send them to Sir Alex. Ball and then they had better be burnt.”
The short-lived peace of Amiens had collapsed in May 1803, only days after Nelson was appointed to the Mediterranean command. By June he was in the Mediterranean, and a month later he joined the fleet blockading Toulon. As the French found themselves blockaded on all sides of their coast, both Atlantic and Mediterranean, Nelson’s hope was that they could be lured out to face him in battle. Those hopes, and his prediction that the enemy would come “soon in my opinion”, were not realized, despite the fact that Nelson later stated that he had never actually blockaded the port of Toulon, but rather gave the enemy “every opportunity . . . to put to sea”. His “enemy” was French Rear Admiral Louis de La Touche-Tréville, who died in Toulon in August 1804, while Nelson was still on board the Victory, hoping for a battle. La Touche-Tréville’s replacement was Admiral Pierre Villeneuve who, in January 1805, finally sailed out of Toulon, unseen by the British in a storm. Nelson’s next encounter with Villeneuve was to come ten months later at Trafalgar.
The rebellion in Dublin mentioned here was headed by Robert Emmet, who had spent some time in France trying procure French assistance for an Irish uprising, with no results. Returning to Ireland, Emmet headed an unsuccessful attempt to capture Dublin Castle. Lord Kilwarden, the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland much reviled for the prosecution and execution of William Orr, was caught in the resulting disturbances in the streets of Dublin and killed.
The integral blank leaf, docketed, has become detached from the letter.
Not in Nicolas.
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