I much fear, something has been taken; for they never would, I am sure, have kept me so long in the dark. However, by management, and a portion of good luck, I got the account from Madrid in a much shorter space of time than I could have hoped for; and I have set the whole Mediterranean to work, and think the fleet cannot fail of being successful: and, if I had had the spare troops at Malta at my disposal, Minorca would at this moment have had English colours flying.
This letter, my dearest beloved Emma, goes—although in Mr. Marsden’s letter—such a roundabout way, that I cannot say all that my heart wishes. Imagine every thing which is kind and affectionate, and you will come near the mark.
Where is my successor? I am not a little surprised at his not arriving! A Spanish war, I thought, would have hastened him. Ministers could not have thought that I wanted to fly the service, my whole life has proved the contrary; and, if they refuse me now: I shall most certainly leave this country in March or April; for a few months rest I must have, very soon. If I am in my grave, what are the mines of Peru to me!
But, to say the truth, I have no idea of killing myself. I may, with care, live yet to do good service to the state. My cough is very bad; and my side, where I was struck on the 14th of February, is very much swelled; at times, a lump as large as my fist, brought on, occasionally, by violent coughing: but, I hope, and believe, my lungs are yet safe.
Sir William Bolton is just arrived from Malta. I am preparing to send him a cruise, where he will have the best chance I can give him of making ten thousand pounds. He is a very attentive, good, young man.
I have not heard from Naples this age. I have, in fact, no small craft to send for news.
If I am soon to go home, I shall be with you before this letter.
May God bless you!
Thomson desires to be most kindly remembered to his dear wife and children. He is most sincerely attached to them; and wishes to save what he can for their benefit.
As our means of communicating are cut off, I have only to beg that you will not believe the idle rumours of battles, &c. &c. &c.
May Heavens bless you! prays, fervently, my dear Emma, ever your most faithful and affectionate
NELSON & BRONTE.
Victory, March 9th, 1805.
I do assure you, my Dearest Emma, that nothing can be more miserable, or unhappy, than your poor Nelson.
From the 19th of February, have we been beating from Malta to off Palma; where I am now anchored, the wind and sea being so very contrary and bad. But I cannot help myself, and no one in the fleet can feel what I do: and, to mend my fate, yesterday Captain Layman arrived—to my great surprise—not in his brig, but in a Spanish cartel; he having been wrecked off Cadiz, and lost all the dispatches and letters.