Nelson’s Spy? The Life of Alexander Scott, published by Meriden Publications, 6 Victoria Road, Bridgnorth, Shropshire WV16 4LA. Tel: 01746 765298 ISBN 09543495 £9.95 plus £1.10 p&p and obtainable frome the above address.
AMIDST rising sales of Patrick O’Brian’s nautical fiction featuring his maritime hero of the Nelson era, Jack Aubrey (aka Russell Crowe as Aubrey in the film epic Master Commander: The Far Side of the World), and in advance of the bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar in 2005, comes this fascinating little book written by Nelson’s close friend and his chaplain from 1803-1805, the Reverend Scott and based on his journals, now lost.
These recollections were published by Scott’s daughter Margaret and her husband in 1842 and this now very rare book is available as a reprint. By Nelson’s side as he lay dying amid the carnage of battle on HMS Victory – described by Scott as “like a butcher’s shambles” – the reverend was possibly Nelson’s spy, gaining vital and secret information about the movements of the French fleets.
A bibliophile, Scott also collected Nelson memorabilia during the hero’s lifetime and after Nelson’s death he sold and made donations of a number of these pieces. Scott’s books from his huge library regularly come up for sale with his bookplate, as does other Nelson memorabilia, including six handpainted heraldic silk panels which had formed part of Nelson’s funeral procession to St Paul’s on January 8, 1806, accompanied by Scott. They were entered for sale last year to Dreweatt Neate by Scott’s great-great-granddaughter and sold for £31,000.