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TO SIR THOMAS TROUBRIDGE, BART, OR THE COMMANDING OFFICER OF HIS MAJESTY'S SHIPS AT MINORCA.
Palermo, November 10th, 1799.
My dear Troubridge, The miserable situation of the Minotaur makes it absolutely necessary for her to go to Minorca to re-fit, and it must be done in the best manner we are able, but should it be impossible to re-fit her there, she must go to Gibraltar without loss of time; and when re-fitted, join me as soon as possible, unless Admiral Duckworth should require her services down the Mediterranean. I am almost in desperation about Malta. If our General cannot help us nor the Russians, I see only that we must abandon the Island, and confine ourselves to a seablockade. I am anxious to see you here, that you may relieve Niza and the Portuguese, for they must come away. Ever yours faithfully,
TO THE MARQUIS DE NIZA.
Palermo, 11th November, 1799. My dear Marquis, I am afraid the French Ships are put into Ville Franche, and will not as yet come to pay you a visit. If they do, I have no doubt but you will take them all. I send you the Princess Charlotte; she may be of some use, although not to be calculated as an English-manned Frigate. I am wanting the Foudroyant very much, therefore, if she has not left you before this letter gets to you, pray send her to me. I expect the Russian Admiral's answer every moment, but I beg you will not draw a man from the Island till you have my directions. Ever believe me, my dear Marquis, your sincere and faithful friend,
Vol. IV. H
TO THE RIGHT HON. LORD MINTO.
Palermo, November 11th, 1799.
My dear Lord,
I beg leave to introduce my friend Captain Hardy to your notice; he was Lieutenant with Cockburn in the Meleager and Minerve. He will tell you precisely our state here. When you have read the letters, be so good as to direct their being sealed and delivered to Captain Hardy. I am all anxiety about Malta; I want the Army to help me, but I cannot yet succeed. Pray tell me if I can do anything for you here; if so, you have only to command, for believe me, as ever, your attached and affectionate friend,
You will know the Goliath is sailed for England; George,' a thorough seaman, and perfectly well.
TO MAJOR-GENERAL SIR JAMES ST. CLAIR ERSKINE, BART.* [From a Copy In the Admiralty.]
Palermo, November 12th, 1799.
My dear Sir James, I am uneasy at not having yet had answers to my last letter of October 26th by the Salamine; therefore I must in duty again state the very great importance of driving the French out of Malta, and endeavour to impress my opinion by such arguments as offer themselves to my mind. I consider the great order of all (implied by the commencement of the war) is to destroy the power of the French: to accomplish this in the quietest and easiest way, is the object of all lesser orders; and if it can be proved that a breach of the lesser order is a more strict compliance with the former, then there can be no doubt of the duty of the breach of the lesser order.
* The present Honourable Rear-Admiral George Eliott, C.B.
'Addressed to Sir James St. Clair Erskine, but it came to the hands of General the Hon. Henry Fox, who had arrived at Minorca in the interim, and taken the command of the troops.
I will suppose two Regiments ordered to England from Minorca,—certainly they not knowing of the important object of possessing Malta to us and our Allies, and probably believing, from reports, that La Valetta would fall to the present force employed against it,—the detaining these two Regiments for two months would probably, with the assistance of the Russians, give us Malta, liberate us from an Enemy close to our door, gratify the Emperor of Russia, protect our Levant trade, relieve a large Squadron of Ships from this service, and enable me the better to afford Naval protection to the Island of Minorca, and assist our Allies on the Northern coast of Italy, and to annoy the Enemy on the Coast of France. It would give us one 80-gun Ship, two 40-gun Frigates, French, besides a new Maltese 70-gun Ship and two Frigates, all ready for sea. With these in the scale against sending away the two Regiments, can there be a doubt as to the propriety of keeping them a little longer? In England or on the Continent, they would be like a drop of water in the ocean, and here they would be of the importance I have pointed out. I earnestly hope that you and General Fox will see the object in the same way as I do; if unhappily you do not, nor can allow the garrison of Messina to hold post in Malta till a force can be got to attack it, the worst consequences may be apprehended to our trade and that of our Allies. I have not yet received answers from the Russian Admiral and General at Naples. The weather has been so very bad. God forbid we should be obliged to give up the idea of taking La Valetta, only the thought of it almost breaks my heart .
I have so many Ships looking out for the Ships which sailed from Toulon the 16th October, that I do not think they can easily get to Malta. I beg that this letter, if General Fox is with you, may be considered as addressed to him as yourself; and ever believe me, with great truth and regard, your obliged friend,
TO THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE VICTUALLING BOARD.
Palermo, November Uth, 1799.
I have received by post your answer to my letter from the Bay of Naples, in which you beg me to accept your acknowledgments for the trouble I had taken in investigating the report made by Mr. Lock, on the subject of the purchase of fresh beef. I must own, that I conceived your letter couched in terms of such coldness, as a little surprised me; but it was not till this moment of the departure of Captain Hardy, that I have heard a report, circulated by Mr. Lock, that you had received a letter from him on this subject, and that you had thanked him for having saved Government 40 per cent. If it is true, which I cannot believe, that you have wrote Mr. Lock any letters on this subject, I desire to say, and not to be misunderstood, that the conduct of the Board is very reprehensible, and scandalous in its treatment to me, the Commanding Officer of his Majesty's Fleet in the Mediterranean. I hope you will send these expressions to our superiors, the Board of Admiralty; for if it is true, which I cannot believe, it would make it more scandalous not to have sent me copies of these letters. I will never, for any power on earth, retract a syllable of what I have wrote in this letter. I defy any insinuations against my honour. Nelson is as far from doing a scandalous or mean action as the heavens are above the earth. I will now tell you the result of the inquiry of an honest man, a faithful servant of his King and Country, was, (from the papers I sent to your Board,) that the accusation of Mr. Lock was malicious and scandalous; and if any Board or individual apply any softer terms to the papers sent you by me, I desire to apply the same terms to them.
I have ever treated all Boards, and every individual, with the greatest respect and consideration; but when my honour, or that of my brave friends is concerned, I will never stop till the examination is made; for Mr. Lock would not, or could not, (which I believe,) but both are equally criminal, bring forward any single point of accusation. I therefore demand that you will direct (subject to my inspection) a strict and impartial inquiry to be made into this saving of 40 per cent. I have only to observe, that Mr. Lock never made any complaint of the price, until I wrote a Note to say that I should not interfere in the purchase—that he that sold the best and cheapest, would, of course, be the seller.7 I have desired Captain Hardy to call on your Board on this subject, as he was Captain of the Foudroyant at this time, and knows perfectly my opinion of Mr. Lock. I had every inclination to serve him, but never at the expense of the State, by giving a monopoly against a competition. I am, Gentlemen, your most obedient servant,
TO CHARLES LOCK, ESQ., CONSUL, NAPLES.
Palermo, November 15th, 1799.
Sir, You having told Sir William Hamilton that your conduct respecting the purchase of fresh beef had not been disapproved of at home, and, as Captain Hardy understood you, that you had been thanked for saving Government 40 per cent., I do, therefore, in consequence of these reports circulated by you, demand in my situation as Commanding his Majesty's Fleet in the Mediterranean, from you, as his Majesty's Consul for the Kingdom of Naples, copies of all Public letters' which you have wrote respecting the Fleet under my command, and of all the answers which you have received to those letters, in order that I may know what steps it may be proper for me to take. I am, &c,
7 Vide vol. iii. p. 420.
■ The Commissioner of the Victualling Board, in reply to this letter, on the 20th of December, said, " After declaring to your Lordship that we never had any correspondence with Mr. Lock on the subject to which it relates, we submit to ;our Lordship's own reflection the manner in which you have thought proper to arraign the conduct of this Board merely upon a rumour, the authenticity of which you twice profess yourself to disbelieve."—Original in the Nelson Papers.
'Mr. Lock complied with this demand. Vide p. 129, infra.