NELSON (HORATIO) Autograph letter signed ("Nelson & Bronte"), to "My Dear Lord" [William Eden, Lord Auckland], Postmaster General, Merton, 10 July 1802
Lot 148
NELSON (HORATIO)
Autograph letter signed ("Nelson & Bronte"), to "My Dear Lord" [William Eden, Lord Auckland], Postmaster General, Merton, 10 July 1802
Sold for £3,750 (US$ 6,018) inc. premium

Lot Details
NELSON (HORATIO)
Autograph letter signed ("Nelson & Bronte"), to "My Dear Lord" [William Eden, Lord Auckland], Postmaster General, recommending "My Old Pilot Mr Yawkins" for the command of the newly-established postal cutter from Milford Haven to Ireland ("...I pledge Myself he is in every respect as well qualified for such a Command as any Man in England. I assure You I would not recommend Mr Yawkins if I was not sure of My Man...") and assuring him that "Your Kindness will truly Oblige My Dear Lord Your Most faithful Servant Nelson & Bronte", 1 page, on paper with watermark date of 1796, guard overleaf on stub of integral leaf, pinhole at head and feint stains but overall in fresh and attractive condition, 4to, Merton, 10 July 1802

Footnotes

  • NELSON PLEADS FOR A POST ON BEHALF OF AN OLD SAILOR. "My Old Pilot Mr Yawkins" had, the year before, acted as Nelson's pilot during what was a daring reconnaissance of the enemy's invasion flotilla at Flushing; pilots of his calibre being hard to find: 'vessels were paralysed by the lack of pilots. Some of the older and better pilots refused to abandon their livelihoods on oyster smacks or fishing boats, and sent their less experienced, and therefore less useful, sons to stand in for them, while others refused to serve in inconvenient situations or indeed anywhere, given the government's rate of pay was less than half a guinea a day. Not a few pilots declared that "scarce any money" could tempt them to face naval discipline. An able and patriotic pilot such as William Yawkins, an old smuggler, was a genuine treasure, for the generality were so self-serving that St Vincent and Trowbridge branded them fifth columnists and swore they would drive them to work' (John Sugden, Nelson: The Sword of Albion, 2012, p. 301).

    Nelson reported on his expedition with Yawkins to his superior, Earl St Vincent, on 24 August 1801: 'I weighed from the Down; sending, after we were under sail, for old Yawkins, a knowing one. I examined him and some others, separately, respecting Flushing'; the next day telling St Vincent: 'I this morning went on board the King George Hired Cutter, Mr Yawkins, Master, who carried me up the Welling Channel, four or five leagues from our Ships, and near three from the Enemy; the tide running strong up, and the wind falling, it was necessary to get out again. From this distant observation of Captain Gore and myself, with the local knowledge of Mr Yawkins, I believe the Enemy's whole force consisted of a Ship of the Line, Dutch, French Frigate, another small Ship, and two or three Brigs laying close to the town of Flushing' (Nicolas, Dispatches and Letters). Yawkins was one of those laid off with the coming of the Peace of Amiens. He clearly enjoyed an intimacy with Nelson and his immediate circle in a way – so typical of Nelson – that transcended barriers of both rank and class, as is shown by the postscript of a letter to Emma of 17 October 1801: 'Yawkins is in great distress: his Cutter is paid off, and he, like many others, very little to live upon. He begs his best respects to Sir William. He breakfasted here this morning. Many very long faces at Peace!' (Nicolas).

    Lord Auckland, recipient of this letter, had been appointed Postmaster General by his close friend and political ally Pitt in 1798: neither this nor any other letter to him by Nelson is printed by Nicolas, or in Colin White's New Letters.
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