Morrison, Alfred.


2 Vols., 1st.eds., 1893 & 1894. Printed for Private Circulation Only. Vol. I : Viii + 231 pp. Vol. II : Vii + 430 pp. Both volumes bound in qtr. hessian ; boards ; paper-title-pieces to spines ; edges uncut & unopened. 28 x 19cm. Foxing to binding & endpapers ; corners bumped ; small surface scuff to front board of Vol. I & a few marks to rear board of Vol. II, o/w externally V.G. and internally FINE. Alfred Morrison (1821'1897) was a man of great wealth who amassed at his houses at Fonthill and Carlton House Terrace, huge and important collections of art and manuscripts. He had many of the latter transcribed and privately printed into handsome catalogues as gifts to his friends ' only a few hundred were printed ' and the second in this series contains his remarkable collection of autograph letters concerning Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton. Professor Laughton writing in 1896 describes these two volumes as "A work of the highest possible value" ; and Oliver Warner writing in 1955 adds "Generally referred to as the 'Morrison MSS', this privately printed collection is of great importance. It is a primary source, since it amplifies Nicholas's collections of 1844-46 and illuminates the history of Lady Hamilton". These papers had come Morrison's way during the 1880s. He had acquired at auction the papers amassed by Joseph Mayer of Bebington, Wirral. Hilda Gamlin, a local historian and biographer of Lady Hamilton, tried in vain to discover how Mayer had acquired them. Certainly some of them had been owned and used by Pettigrew and some had been owned by Croker who had purchased the letters in 1817 after they had caused a great scandal by being published anonymously in 1814 resulting in the blackening of Nelson's name. Also at Sotheby's, Morrison bought an important collection which had been the property of Mr. E. H. Finch-Hatton, to whom they had been bequeathed by his mother, the Lady Louisa, daughter of Robert Greville, by his marriage with the Countess of Mansfield. (Greville had himself inherited them from his brother, Hon. Charles Francis Greville, nephew and heir of Sir William Hamilton, to whom Emma had been mistress in her youth). These and other sources brought together a remarkable collection of papers extending from 1756 to the year of Emma's death at Calais in 1815. Their publication in 1893 ' 1894 finally laid to rest the vexed question of Horatia's parentage that had raged on through most of the 19th century. The papers threw new light not only on Nelson's professional career but also on his domestic affairs as well as those of Sir William and Lady Hamilton ' and of course the relationship between Nelson and Emma itself. Morrison's collection was dispersed at auction in 1919 during a sale that lasted three days. The 'Morrison' is referred to constantly in biographies and studies of Nelson and of Lady Hamilton, from Jeaffreson who was given access for his two works during the 1880s after examining the papers, onwards. Their importance and usefulness as a source of reference cannot be over-emphasized.

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