Letter by Horatio Nelson to Lieutenant-General The Honourable Charles Stuart, 16 February 1799
Catalogue reference: ADM 1/399 (N36 and N44)
Palermo 16 February 1799
My dear Sir,
What a State we are in here! without Troops, and the Enemy at the Door: for altho’ there are 4000 Neapolitan regular troops, these are not to be trusted; 13,000 Sicilian Troops are raising, and 26,000 Militia; but I fear, before these are got together, the active French will get possession of Messina, the Key of Sicily. There is a good Citadel, and might be defended for a long time but there is such treachery, that probably it will be given without a shot. I know, my dear Sir, your Situation at Minorca, and I regret that you cannot, I fear, send here and save us, for 1000 English Troops in the Citadel of Messina would, I am convinced save Sicily. I dare not hope such a thing but having ventured to mention this Subject, I leave it to your excellent judgment. With every sentiment of Respect, believe me
My dear Sir Your most obedient and faithful humble Servant
I have sent my letter to Lord St Vincent open, for Duckworth to read, which tells all the News I can learn.