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Item 418 - Horatio Nelson Catalog 539 (Nov 2018)

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(we are no longer accepting bids on this item)
Estimate: $5,000.00 +
Sold Price: $6,125.00 (includes buyer's premium)


ALS signed “Nelson,” one page, 7.5 x 9, August 11, 1799. Letter to Sir John Acton Bant, written a month after the French garrison on St. Elmo surrendered. In part: "I shall be very much obliged if your Excellency will have the goodness to send the enclosed letter to Commodore Troubridge. It is to say that if the two Portuguese ships can be spared from Naples to send them directly off Malta. I am satisfied there only wants now a little exertion to reduce the place, which would give me more pleasure to see, than all the fetes which will be given at Palermo. It is contrary to my feelings to be at entertainments 'till all our work is finish'd." In fine condition.

Early in 1799, Naples had capitulated to the French, but under the leadership of Cardinal Fabrizio Ruffo a successful revolt against the French was realized. On June 21, Nelson set sail for Naples, whereupon he learned that Ruffo had negotiated a three-week armistice with the Jacobins, an arrangement which was unacceptable to Nelson. There could be neither an armistice nor a treaty with rebels; he decided, therefore, that a joint declaration should be signed by Ruffo; but the cardinal refused. On June 28, Emma Hamilton received a letter from the Neapolitan Queen expressing dismay at the prospect of a compact with the rebels. Nelson was urged 'to treat Naples as if it were a rebellious Irish town.' It was an injunction that appealed to Nelson's temperament and judgment. Jacobins who, believing themselves protected by the truce, had embarked for their evacuation, were captured in their boats. Summary executions immediately began, and by early July, the French garrison on St. Elmo surrendered. It was also during this period that the relationship between Nelson and Lady Hamilton became notorious, and it was she who urged him to accept the duchy of Bronte that King Ferdinand had offered. Initially he was reluctant to accept a foreign title, but upon discovery that Bronte meant 'thunder' the title was particularly attractive and he graciously accepted it. Nelson spent the next two months sailing out of Palermo, anxious for King Ferdinand to return to Naples, desperate to serve on another station but fearful of losing Emma HamiIton's company.

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