Lot 100: Nelson, Horatio. Two autograph letters signed twice, 3 pages, 9 and 10 February 1801.Platinum House
July 11, 2014
Calabasas, CA, USALive Auction
100. Nelson, Horatio. Two autograph letters signed twice (“Nelson and Bronte” and “Nelson & Bronte”), on a bifolium, 3 pages (8 x 7.75 in.; 225 x 198mm), 9 and 10 February 1801, to an unidentified confidant; first leaf trimmed at foot with loss of a line or two of text, only the top third of second letter is present. The losses appear to be deliberate to keep the anonymity of the recipient; red wax splotch on verso of first leaf.
A staggering pair of letters revealing Horatio Nelson’s despair upon learning of the future George IV’s interest in Lady Emma Hamilton.
In his letter of 9 February 1801, Nelson writes in full: O God who knowest the purity of my thoughts & the uprightness of my conduct, look down I beseech thee, on me, one I am of the most unworthy of thy servants, help and support me, for thou O Lord art my only comfort, and to thy Infinite Mercy alone do I look for support to bear me through this transitory life, and I beseech thee O most merciful God that in thy good time thou will take me by myself and remove me from this World where I have no friend to comfort or relieve me even on the Bed of Sickness. Relieve me O Lord from the misery of this World speedily speedily speedily amen, amen, amen. Nelson and Bronte In his letter of 10 February 1801, Nelson writes in part: . . . God knows I never wish to sett [sic] my foot out of the ship but I must go where duty orders it. Without your friendship and confidence I only wish myself removed from this World. The St. George is just arrived but it blows so strong & such a heavy Sea that my things cannot be moved . . . You cannot think how dirty the St. George compares to my own San Josef and probably her inside is worse than her outside appearance . . . The ship is not fitted for a flag . . . and is truly uncomfortable but it suits exactly my present feelings which are miserable in the extreme. I have not closed my Eyes all night and am almost blind and far from well & all brought on by fretting at false accusations . . .
Shortly after his arrival in England, Nelson was appointed to be second-in-command of the Channel Fleet under Lord St. Vincent. He was promoted to Vice Admiral of the Blue on 1 January 1801, and travelled to Plymouth on 22 January. He was granted the freedom of the city, and on 29 January Emma Hamilton gave birth to their illegitimate daughter, Horatia. Nelson was delighted but quickly disappointed when he was instructed to move his flag from the HMS San Josef to the HMS St George in preparation for a planned expedition to the Baltic. At the same moment he was moving his flag, Nelson learned the young Prince Regent, later King George IV, was smitten by Lady Emma Hamilton and paying her all too much attention. Nelson’s two letters herewith clearly reveal his inconsolable despair over another man focusing his attention on his mistress who just gave birth to his namesake.
$6,000 - $8,000