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Robert Fulton: A Letter to Lord Nelson

R. A. H. Smith


AMONG the thousands of documents preserved in the British Library's holdings of the papers of Horatio Nelson is a brief note, dated 4 September 1805, from one Robert Francis, writing from 13 Sackville Street, Piccadilly; the writer sought an interview with Lord Nelson concerning the former's naval inventions, while the Admiral was on his last brief visit to England. The note does not appear in Sir Nicholas H. Nicolas's standard edition. The Dispatches and Letters of Vice-Admiral Lord Viscount Nelson, 7 vols. (London, 1844-6). The document (Add. MS. 34931, ff. 68-69V; fig. i) relates clearly to naval matters, but seems at first sight to have no more significance than the other countless similar requests from promoters of far-fetched projects frequently received by men of Nelson's fame and then usually ignored.

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