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Nelson in the News: 4th November 2012
Letter to Lady Hamilton to Go on Sale
A letter Nelson wrote to Lady Hamilton is to go on sale at Bonhams auctioneers
on the 13th November 2012.
|My Dear Lady,
I shall not come to your house after
what passed last night 'till you send for me when I shall
fly, I never will retract one Syllable I utter'd, or one
thought I felt, never will I sit tamely and see
you my Dear friend neglected or Insulted, for Believe me as Ever
your most Sincere and affectionate
The letter is undated, but given the way he signed the letter, it was most
likely to have been written between November 1801 and January 1802. This
is because after his victory at the Battle of the Nile, he had been signing
himself "Bronte Nelson of the Nile". Back in England, due to the
fact that Bronte was a foreign dukedom, and such titles being frowned upon, he
started to sign himself "Nelson of the Nile". But in November 1801,
after joining the House of Lords, he started to sign himself in the style
expected of an English peer - "Nelson", as in this letter. When he
went back to sea in January 1802 (leading up to the Battle of Copenhagen), he
began to sign his letters with "Nelson & Bronte", which he did for the
rest of his life.
This period of time saw the biggest turmoil in Nelson's private life. He
had returned from the Battle of the Nile in the company of the Hamiltons, and
Emma was very heavily pregnant with his daughter. At first, he, perhaps
naively, thought that he could continue life as a married man, with Emma as his
mistress. But of course his wife, Frances, was not happy with the
arrangement, and his marriage came to a tempestuous end, and the whole affair
scandalised high society. The incident Nelson speaks of in this letter,
and the passionate and emphatic way in which he writes and phrases it,
illustrate the turmoil Nelson experienced during this period.
There is some discussion as to what event the note could be referring to in
a thread on the "Nelson and his World" website.
Copyright Vicki Singleton 2013.