The moment I received your letter of the 11th of March from Leghorn, I went with it to General Acton: and, although I could not, from your letter only, in my Ministerial character, demand from this Court the assistance of some of their xebecs, corvettes, &c. that are the fittest for going near shore; as I think, with you, that such vessels are absolutely necessary on the present occasion, I told his Excellency—that I trusted, as this government had hitherto shewn itself as sanguine in the good cause, and more so, than any of the allies of Great Britain, that he would lay your letter before the King at Naples; and, without waiting for the demand which I should probably receive soon from Sir John Jervis, send you such small armed vessels as his Excellency thought would be proper for the service on which you are employed.
The General, without hesitation, said—that orders should be immediately given for the preparing of such a flotilla, which should join you as soon as the weather would permit. At present, indeed, it is not very encouraging for row-boats.
We wait a courier from Vienna, to decide the march of eight thousand eight hundred infantry, and artillery included, intended to join the Emperor’s army in Italy: and, although the Grand Duke of Tuscany has refused the permission for these troops to march through his dominions, the King of Naples has told his son-in-law that, whenever the safety of Italy should require it, he would, nevertheless, march them through Tuscany; a liberty which the Emperor would likewise take, whenever the good of the service required it.
However, the thousand cavalry sent from hence have taken their route, by Loretto, through the Pope’s state.
We have had, as I suppose you know, the Admirals Hotham and Goodall here, for some weeks. I can, entre nous, perceive that my old friend Hotham is not quite awake enough for such a command as that of the King’s fleet in the Mediterranean, although he appears the best creature imaginable.
I did not know much of your friend Lord Hood, personally; but, by his correspondence with me, his activity and clearness was most conspicuous.
Lady Hamilton and I admire your constancy, and hope the severe service you have undergone will be handsomely rewarded.
When I reported to Lord Grenville, in my last dispatch, the letter I received from you lately, I could not help giving you the epithet of “that brave officer, Captain Nelson.” If you do not deserve it, I know not who does.
With our love to Sam, I am, ever, dear Sir, your’s, sincerely,
Palermo, February 13th, 1799.
Having received an application from this government, that they might be supplied with lead from on board the British merchants ships in this harbour, that have that article on board—and that, without the help of about a hundred cantarra of lead, this country, and the common cause, would be much distressed—I am to beg of your Lordship to use your kind endeavours that this urgent want may be supplied as soon as possible: well understood, that the proprietors of this article should be perfectly satisfied with this government, as to the price of the lead, freight, &c.