[Sir William Napier, author of the 'History of the Peninsular War'.] Autograph Letter Signed ('W Napier') to 'Sir' Nicholas Trant, correcting and criticising the Marquess of Londonderry's rival history.

Author: 
General Sir William Napier [General Sir William Francis Patrick Napier], Anglo-Irish British Army officer and historian of the Peninsular War [Nicholas Trant; Charles Vane, Marquess of Londonderry]
Publication details: 
Without place or date. [With postmarked year 1828?]
£420.00
SKU: 21290

The present letter dates from the time of the appearance of the first volume of Napier's 'History of the Peninsular War' (1828-1840), and in it Napier criticises the recently-published rival 'Story of the Peninsular War by the late Marquess of Londonderry; with continuation by G.R. Gleig' (1828) Trant (1769-1839 was a knowledgeable correspondent, a British Army officer who distinguished himself at the head of Portuguese irregular troops in several actions during the Peninsular War, including the recapture of Coimbra from the French in October 1810 and the defence of the line of the Mondego River in March 1811. 1p, 4to. In poor condition, having been rescued from fire, aged and with burn marks along fold lines, and slight loss of text through chipping of charred parts. Addressed on reverse (on which an attempt at backing has been made), with postmarks and traces of black wax seal, to 'Sir N Trant KCB | &c &c | 7 Hartford Street | May Fair'. Undated, on paper with watermarked date 1825, and with one of the postmarks carrying the date 182[8?]' A letter of 32 lines, written in a close hand. Napier begins, with regard to the murder of General Freire at Braga in 1809: 'My dear Sir, I send you the Portuguese papers; I cannot make them out quite clearly but enough to see that they are not of importance to me[.] I have Eben's confidential report of all the circumstances of Frere's [sic] murder and I have also information upon which I can rely very important as shewing the animus of the old rascally Bishop.' He next clarifies points of fact concerning 'Talbot' and 'Beresford'. He continues: 'Lord Londonderry has been treated by you in a very gentlemanlike way and he ought to feel it. He is no authority whatever for anything Dates, Names, facts, reasonings all are wrong the hard things is [sic] to find an approach to such a work. I mean no offence to his Lordship for I think he wrote what he believed to be true, but when the brains are disturbed the pen wanders.' He reiterates here the points about Talbot and Beresford, and points out mistakes regarding Soult and Beresford, adding, 'whenever I have been able to trace the facts satisfactorily I have found the fresh account of the Enemies' positions extremely correct, and upon the whole I am sure they come nearer to the truth than any other published account'. He ask where he can acquire 'the Pamphlets you speak of as written by Beresford and Wilson', 'What were Beresfords movements in August and Sepr.' The letter ends: 'I would have answered you before but that I waited an opportunity the enclosed packet to you. I need not I hope say that I shall be happy to see you and I can make up a room for Miss Trant if she will do us the honour of accompanying you. Mrs Napier will be delighted to receive her.'