Sunday, 12 August 2012

On This Day... 12th August 1803

Journal Entry (BL Add MS 34,966 f.5)
Fresh gales.  Sighted land not... at Cape St Sebastians... water much smoother.  In the afternoon fine weather sent the Maidstone to join the Active.
The French Admiral refused to receive a letter from ME.

What is this indignant last comment referring to?  Here is a letter Nelson wrote the next day, to some French officers who were prisoners of war at Malta. (from The Dispatches and Letters of Lord Nelson vol. V, Nicolas)

Victory, August 13th, 1803
I have sent to offer the French Admiral in Toulon an exchange of Prisoners.  After keeping the Boat waiting three hours, a message came down that the French Admiral would receive no letter or message, and ordered the Boat to return: therefore, you must blame the cruelty of your own Admiral for keeping you Prisoners.  At the same time, I shall be happy to do all in my power to render your captivity as easy as possible - always remembering, Do as you would be done by.  I am, Gentlemen, with great respect, your most obedient servant,
Nelson & Bronte

An example of Nelson's humanity even towards the enemy; and a demonstration of the slightly irritable side to his character.  Well, at least no one can say he didn't try.     


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