Lettera di Horatio Nelson, contrammiraglio inglese, a William Hamilton ambasciatore inglese a Napoli.
TO HIS EXCELLENCY SIR WILLIAM HAMILTON, K.B.
Vanguard, off Elba, June 12th, 1798.
My dear Sir,
If the Transfer Sloop of War has arrived at Naples, you will know that the British Fleet is in the Mediterranean, and that I have the honour of commanding it. It has been a misfortune that a Fleet was not ordered a fortnight sooner; but, no blame attaches itself anywhere, and from Sir Roger Curtis' junction with Lord St. Vincent, we are much sooner on the Coast of Italy than could have been expected. But I hope we are in good time to save Naples or Sicily from falling into the hands of the Enemy. I beg you will assure the King and Queen of Naples that I will not lose one moment in fighting the French Fleet, and that no person can have a more ardent desire of serving them and of fulfilling the orders of the good and great King our Master. As I am not quite clear, from General Acton's Letters to you of April 3rd and 9th, what co-operation is intended by the Court of Naples, I wish to know perfectly what is to be expected, that I may regulate my movements accordingly, and beg clear answers to the following questions and requisitions:—
Are the Ports of Naples and Sicily open to his Majesty's Fleet? have the Governors orders for our free admission? and for us to be supplied with whatever we may want?
If it is convenient, I much wish for some Frigates and other fast-sailing Vessels, for, by a fatality all mine have left me. I want information of the French Fleet; for I hope they have passed Naples. I want good Pilots—say six or eight, for the Coast of Sicily, the Adriatic, or for whatever place the Enemy's Fleet may be at; for I mean to follow them if they go to the Black Sea. As the 12,000 men had not sailed from Genoa on the 2nd of June, nor, indeed, were they all embarked, I trust, if the French are landed in the Neapolitan territory, that the Kingdom will not be lost in a few days, for I again repeat, that when it is considered that the orders for a Fleet to go into the Mediterranean were only dated May 2nd, and that Sir R. Curtis only came in sight of Lord St. Vincent on May the 24th, on which moment Captain Troubridge was sent away with the Detachment to join me off Cape Sicie, that the British Fleet is much sooner on the Coast of Italy than could have been expected at this season of the year.
I trust to your Excellency's goodness in impressing General Acton with a favourable opinion of my zeal in our Master's service, and although, I most readily admit that many more able Sea-Officers might have been selected for this service, yet one more anxious to approve himself a faithful servant to his King is not to be met with, than your Excellency's most obedient Servant,