NELSON, Horatio, Viscount, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts



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NELSON, Horatio, Viscount (1758-1805). Vice-admiral.
Autograph Letter Signed ('Nelson & Bronte') to Sir Richard Strachan Bt. (1760-1828, naval officer), 1 page 4to, Victory, off Toulon, 6 October 1803. Revealing Nelson's subtle approach as a commander when writing to one of his subordinate officers, and one he held in friendly affection. The letter is headed 'Private' for obvious reasons.

Strachan was at this time on patrol in his ship HMS Donegal off Cadiz (then still neutral). Nelson was anxiously awaiting the break-out of the French fleet from Toulon. He now gives not so much orders as friendly encouragement to join in any impending battle and to make his own decisions.

'I send you Whitbeys [
sic] report and if you think that agincourt put under Gores Command in the Medusa is sufficient to fight l'Aigle or any Ships of War expected from St: Domingo I leave you at liberty to run up to me to gain a Laurel in the Battle which will soon be fought, but you must be sure of the force you have being sufficient for the above purposes - I do not expect you but leave that to yourself.'

[John] Whitby (d. 1806) was the protegé of (Admiral Sir William) Cornwallis and his flag captain. He was captain of the Belleisle and later (1804) the Ville de Paris. It was Whitby who broke the news of Nelson's death to Emma Hamilton after Trafalgar.

Captain John Gore (1772-1836) of the Medusa was to become Vice-Admiral Sir John Gore KCB, GCH. He was at this time commanding a small squadron based at Gibraltar with orders to look for French ships being sent to strengthen the fleet at Toulon.

Two words ('Turn over') erased at the foot. There is no writing on the back of the letter, which is complete but lacks the second or address-leaf. See Nelson - The New Letters, ed. Colin White (2005) page 61, where the letter is published (with some inaccuracies of orthography) for the first time.
[No: 25652]

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