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Letters and Dispatches of Horatio Nelson
June 12th through June 30, 1797


[From Tucker's Memoirs of Earl St. Vincent, vol. i. p. 411.]

H.M.S. Theseus, 12th June, 1797.

My dear Sir, The Flag of Truce was only to bring the letters sent herewith; but it brought out in conversation a circumstance which, though believed by many, I have my doubts about—at least, that the Spaniards would have acknowledged it—viz. that the Trinidad not only struck her Colours, but hoisted un Pavilion Parliamentaire;" the fact is now so well established that it cannot be done away. The next morning, when attended by the Frigate, seeing some of our Ships not far off, I suppose Egmont and Namur, she hoisted an English Jack over the Spanish Flag, to induce the English to suppose she was a prize. Everybody, their Officer says, expects Peace to be settled, and that it will be known here by the end of the month.

Believe me your most faithful,

[From Clarke and M'Arthur, vol. ii. p. 17.]

13th June, 1797.

The ladder sent is not so light as I wished, but we could not do any better with the stuff we had. Three men can rear it with pleasure, and, if possible, there should be ten men at a time on it : in short, the actors in our performance must not be too anxious to mount. Wishing that I may soon see them used,

Believe me yours faithfully,

[From Tucker's Memoirs of Earl St. Vincent, vol. i. p. 412.]

H.M.S. Theseus, June 18th, 9, P.M.

My dear Sir,
What the intentions of the Dons are, I know not; but their movements would assure me, if English, that they are on the eve of coming out. We see that thirteen Sail of the Line are unmoored and hove short. I saw Gravina cat his anchor, and they did it briskly; but the accommodation ladder of his Ship was not in at sunset. The signals which they have been making this day are not "their usual Harbour-signals. I will give them credit for their alertness, if they come out in the morning. This Squadron have their bulkheads down, and in perfect readiness for battle, and to weigh, cut, or slip, as the occasion may require. I have given out a Line of Battle,— myself to lead; and you may rest assured that I will make a vigorous attack upon them, the moment their noses are outside the Diamond. Pray do not send me another Ship, for they may have an idea of attacking the Squadron; and if you send any more, they may believe we are prepared, and know of their intention. It will, Sir, be my pride to show the world that your praises of my former conduct have not been unworthily bestowed. Believe me ever, my dear Sir,

Your most affectionate and faithful,

[From Clarke and M'Arthur, vol. ii. p. 19.]

15th June, 1797.

A few nights ago a Paper was dropped on the quarter deck, of which this is a copy :—' Success attend Admiral Nelson! God bless Captain Miller! We thank them for the Officers they have placed over us. We are happy and comfortable, and will shed every drop of blood in our veins to support them, and the name of the Theseus shall be immortalized as high as the Captain's. SHIP'S COMPANY.'

Yours, &c.;

[From Tucker's Memoirs of Earl of St. Vincent, vol. i. p. 414.]

Theseus, June 21st, 1797.

My dear Sir,
The history of women was brought forward, I remember, in the Channel Fleet last War. I know not if your Ship was an exception, but I will venture to say, not an Honourable but had plenty of them; and they always will do as they please. Orders are not for them—at least, I never yet knew one who obeyed.

Your most faithful,

[From Clarke and M'Arthur, vol. ii. p.21.]

June 29th, 1797.

My dear Sir,
The two Vessels which came out of Cadiz this day nearly agree in the same story, that the Spanish Fleet, twenty-eight Sail of the Line, is full manned, chiefly Soldiers, and is ready for sea, and there are two Sail also nearly fitted out which are not manned; the Toulon Ships and those from Carthagena are expected the first Levanter. The people of Cadiz have petitioned Government to order the Fleet to sail; for that, whatever may be the event, it must force us to quit this ground; and as three Ships from Lima are momentarily expected, and the Havannah Convoy (for every morning the Merchants are on the walls to see if they are in our Fleet), they declare if they should fall into our hands, that the Merchants in Spain would be ruined. They know we have a Bomb-vessel fitting at Gibraltar, and are in terror of a bombardment. I will write to Don Josef Mazaredo, and he shall have the letter soon after daybreak to-morrow: he is a Biscayner—they are not famed for politeness or gallantry. I hope I shall always have to boast, and truly, of your unalterable friendship, which it shall ever be my study to deserve.

I am, &c.;

[From Clarke and M'Arthur, vol. ii. p. 31.]

29th June, 1797.

Rest assured of my most perfect love, affection, and esteem for your person and character, which the more I see of the world, the more I must admire. The imperious call of honour to serve my Country, is the only thing which keeps me a moment from you, and a hope, that by staying a little longer, it may enable you to enjoy those little luxuries which you so highly merit. I pray God it may soon be peace, and that we may get into the cottage.

I have to thank many friends for their kind congratulations, and have had a long letter and genealogy from the York Herald, Mr. Nayler, whom I have referred to my brother Maurice. I have sent my brother my Supporters, Crest, and Motto: on one side a Sailor properly habited, holding in his hand the Broad Pendant on a staff, and trampling on a Spanish flag; on the other side the British Lion tearing the Spanish flag, the remnants hanging down, and the flag in tatters. Motto, what my brother William suggested, turned into English—" Faith and Works.'"

I hope you will like them. I intend my next winter's gift at Burnham should be fifty good large blankets of the very best quality, and they will last for seven years at least. This will not take from anything the Parish might give. I wish inquiry to be made, and the blankets ordered of some worthy man; they are to be at my father's disposal in November. I have received my dear father's letter. God bless him and you.

Yours, &c.;

[Autograph, in the possession of Albert William Woods, Esq., Lancaster Herald.]

Theseus, off Cadiz, June 29th, 1797.

Sir, I am honoured with your letter of May 29, relative to my Pedigree; and I have desired my Brother to deliver you this letter, and to arrange such matters as are proper with you. As Government have always, I believe, on occasions like the present, paid all the Fees of Office, Installation, &c., I expect they will do it on the present occasion, for I cannot think of being at one sixpence expense : but my Brother will express my sentiments fully on this head, and I have the honour to be. Sir,

Your most obedient servant,

[Autograph, in the possession of Sir John Bickerton Williams.]

Theseus, June 30th, 1797.

My dear Sir,
As I have desired my dear William to write you, I shall only express my anxiety that his Time should be sent to me. I hear he was borne some short time on the Grampus' books, but of this you know more than I can do. My health is so very indifferent, that longer than the 30th September I cannot serve without a short respite from fatigue ; but I hope the War will be over by that time; for, unless we are united at Home much good cannot be expected,—let it be a War of the Nation, and what signify France, Holland, and Spain.

We are looking at the Ladies walking the walls and Mall of Cadiz, and know of the ridicule they make of their Sea Officers. Thirty Sail are now perfectly ready, and, the first east wind, I expect the Ships from the Mediterranean, which will make them forty Sail of the Line. We are now twenty; some of our Ships being always obliged to be absent for water, provisions, &c. However equal we may be to do the business, yet I cannot bring myself to believe that it is good policy to leave us so inferior, whatever honour there may be in it. The merchants of Cadiz have repeatedly petitioned Government to force out the Fleet; and say truly, that ten Sail of the Line had better be sacrificed than the loss of their three Ships from Lima, and their Homeward Convoy, which must fall into the hands of the English, if they are not forced from before the harbour. I am of opinion that some morning, when least expected, I shall see them tumbling out of Cadiz. We in the advance are, night and day, prepared for battle ; our friends in England need not fear the event. At present we are all quiet in our Fleet; and, if Government hang some of the Nore Delegates, we shall remain so. I am entirely with the Seamen in their first Complaint. We are a neglected set, and, when peace comes, are shamefully treated; but, for the Nore scoundrels, I should be happy to command a Ship against them. We have reports through Spain that Pitt is out: it is Measures must be changed, and not merely Men. I beg my respects to Mr. Coke and Mrs. Coke, and believe me, dear Sir,

Your very obedient servant,

[From Harrison's Life of Nelson, vol. i. p. 188.]

30th June, 1797.

I am directed by my worthy Commander-in-Chief to inform your Excellency, that numbers of the Spanish fishing-boats are found at such a distance from the land as plainly to evince that they have something farther in view than catching fish ; and, therefore, that orders are given, that no Fishing-vessel be in future, permitted to go farther from the shore than their usual fishing-ground, which, we understand, is in about thirty- five fathoms water.

Your Excellency, I am confident, will receive this communication as an addditional mark of attention from my Commander-in-Chief to the inhabitants of Cadiz, and its environs, and will take measures for the information of the fishermen, that their boats will be sunk, if found acting in contradiction to this notification of the British Admiral. With every sincere good wish towards your Excellency, believe me, your most obedient,


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