NELSON, Horatio, Viscount (1758-1805). Vice-admiral.
Good Autograph Letter Signed ('Bronte Nelson of the Nile'), to Sir Alexander John Ball, 1 page 4to with blank leaf and an endorsement on the second page, Gozo, 22 May 1800. Referring to affairs in Malta, complimenting Ball's governing ability, assuaging his feelings of regret on the transfer of Commodore Troubridge, giving news of his own removal to England, and sending greetings from the Hamiltons.
'... I hope the fall of the Vallette will soon happen and so far your labours finish, but for the happiness of the poor Islanders I wish your stay may be prolonged. Never never will they ag[ai]n be so honorably governed. ... Lord Keith has sent the P[rince]ss Charlotte to carry me to England but I have other arrangements, and I am not apt to alter. May God Bless you my dear Ball in which real wish join our good Sir William & Lady Hamilton ...'Earlier in May, Nelson, who had been in attendance at the court in Palermo, visited Malta in the company of the Hamiltons. Ball had proceeded there two years previously, after the Battle of the Nile, on Nelson's orders, and had engineered the blockade of the island. Nelson, for health reasons, had been given leave to return to England. He had already planned to travel overland in company with the Hamiltons, and therefore rejected the offer of a passage in the Princess Charlotte. The journey through Europe turned into a triumphal parade for the hero of the Nile, and there were so many stops en route that the journey, which might have been made in a few weeks, took three and a half months. No doubt Nelson was not unhappy to be so long in the continuous company of Emma.
The tone of the letter makes clear Nelson's intense admiration for Ball, whom he regarded as a trusted friend as well as an able sea captain. Nelson's wish of a prologned stay for Ball was to be fulfilled when Ball was made Governor-General of Malta.
The letter is signed with Nelson's longest signature 'Bronte Nelson of the Nile'. On being granted his peerage Nelson had originally signed simply 'Nelson', as was usual for a peer. When he learned of the grant of the dukedom of Bronte by the King of Naples he changed to 'Bronte Nelson'. However, on finding that his English title included the words 'of the Nile' he tagged on these words as well. It was not until Nelson returned to England that it was pointed out that he should perhaps not prefix the foreign title to his English one, and he then reversed them and simplified the whole thing to 'Nelson & Bronte', as appears in all his later letters.
There is a note in another hand on the second page, possibly signed 'JT' or perhaps 'TT' [Troubridge?] to the following effect: ' I have rec[eive]d and delivered your Letters to My Lady and Miss K. God Bless you'.
Not in Nicolas, Dispatches and Letters, nor in The New Letters, ed. Colin White (2005).