Nelson & His World

Discussion on the life and times of Admiral Lord Nelson
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 Post subject: Re: Sir Alexander John Ball
PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2013 7:29 am 
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Good morning Ed, and all!

Thank you for that reminder and also for your continued interest in, and support for the forum.

Ball was a much valued and admired friend of Nelson. Perhaps this day is a good one to remind ourselves of the high esteem in which Ball was held by his lordship.

Here is an extract from my much-treasured letter from Nelson to Sir Alexander:

'I hope the fall of the Valette [Valetta] will soon happen and so far your labours finish, but for the happiness of the poor Islanders I wish your stay may be prolonged. Never, never will they agn [again] be so honorably governed. From my heart I wish you every happiness and as far as my voice will be attended to, your great merits shall be known in England.'

Nelson's inimitable voice, of course; what a wonderful tribute from one friend to another.

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 Post subject: Re: Sir Alexander John Ball
PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2013 9:45 am 
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Thanks for that Anna -- brought a tear to my eye!

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 Post subject: Re: Sir Alexander John Ball
PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 2:22 am 
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Collingwood (himself soon to die) mourned the loss of Ball.

Private Correspondence, ed. E. Hughes:

To his sister. November 1, 1809

.. Adml Thornbrough is very ill, and when I heard last from Malta, Ball was in a dangerous state. . . .

To Rear-Admiral Purvis, November 19 [1809]

I will answer your kind letter tomorrow. I am sadly hurried . . . The Ajax is come but I have not read half the letters. Ball's death is a great grief to me.

To his sister. Ville de Paris, Port Mahon, November 25, 1809

. . . Sir Alexr Ball is dead, and in him Malta has lost a governor who supported the interests of England with great ability. The Maltese adored him; he kept all quiet and in good order. I do not know any who can do it like him. I lament him much. We were midshipmen together when I went to America with Adml Graves in the year 74 and have been great friends ever since.

P. 254, note:
In his letter to the Secretary of the Admiralty Collingwood stated that Ball's services 'both in his naval and civil capacity were eminent. . . . His loss in the Island of Malta, where he was adored, is not to be estimated.' Letter Book, xii, fo. 197


Selected Correspondence, ed. Newnham Collingwood:

TO LADY COLLINGWOOD.
Ville de Paris, October 30, 1809.
. . . Admiral Thornborough has been out of health some time; he is impatient to get home to Bath, and is urging me very much to allow him to go. I do not like to part with so firm a man. He would be a host to me in battle. Sir Alexander Ball, too, I hear is very ill. There is hardly in England another person fit for Governor of Malta. He has all the knowledge and qualities for it, which few men have. These are great drawbacks on me.

TO LORD RADSTOCK.
Ville de Paris, November 3, 1809.
. . . By the last accounts I heard from Malta, Ball was very ill, — almost hopeless. I love him, and am in despair for him. He cannot be replaced in Malta, nor is there a man in England qualified to govern the Maltese but himself. They are all too little or too great.

["too great", i.e., too lofty]

TO J. E. BLACKETT, ESQ.
Ville de Paris, Minorca, Jan. 1, 1810.
Thus the years roll on; and as the season comes round, I congratulate you, at the same time, on entering a new year of the world and of your life, which, I hope, you will enjoy in health, and pass in happiness and comfort. . . . I have been very unwell lately. The physician tells me that it is the effect of constant confinement, which is not very comfortable, as there is little chance of its being otherwise. Old age and infirmities are coming on me very fast, and I am weak, and tottering on my legs.
I had a great loss in the death of Sir Alexander Ball. He was an able and industrious man; and I fear Malta will never be so well governed again. We were Midshipmen together, and have always been on terms of the greatest friendship. . . .

(E.Hughes)
The Duke of Northumberland writes to Collingwood:
Teignmouth, January 10, 1810
. . . I am truly grieved that this Country shou'd have lost so usefull a servant as A. Ball. I heard much of the Ability he showed in his Government of Malta and the affection the Maltese had for him, from an officer long resident in that Island. I believe the Cabinet have made as good a choice as they possibly cou'd and have done in appointing Sr R. Keates to succeed him.
I only lament that such an Active and able officer shou'd be taken just now from the service of our Fleet. But from your Lordship's account, I am a little reconciled ot it and believe that the Government of Malta, in the present situation of Affairs in the Mediterranean, is an Affair of the first consequence.

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 Post subject: Re: Sir Alexander John Ball
PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 2:55 am 
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NMM has a really wonderful miniature of Ball.

http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/42130.html

I haven't looked into it but I'm guessing it was a reference miniature made from life in Bowyer's studio.

...My attempt to embed a detail failed for lack of practice, so I'll just say:
He all but speaks.

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 Post subject: Re: Sir Alexander John Ball
PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 7:42 am 
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What a wonderful find, Galiano. Thanks for posting!

I love this portrait. Ball was without doubt 'un homme sérieux' and here is the image, certainly, of a mature and confident man, but one with a wry and twinkly humour too. One can imagine him having just made a dry joke to the artist as he went about his work - there is a wonderful immediacy here. It adds a further dimension to our perceptions of this admirable man.

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 Post subject: Re: Sir Alexander John Ball
PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 3:43 pm 
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Thanks Galiano for this Ball input.
The particular letter between the Duke of Northumberland and Collingwood has come up recently via Stephen Evans’ facebook forum ‘The Maltese Islands during the Napoleonic Wars’ and of the above letters, it is the one particular I haven’t got?
I have reference that ill health prevented Rear Admiral Sir Richard Godwin Keats from taking up the appointment as Ball’s successor.

If one travels back to General Discussion page – Christmas Greetings! – Dec 17 2011, you will find an odd version of the Ball miniature but I don’t think I can cap it this year!! :wink: :wink:

Just a side note:
Is there any possibility of combining subjects, ie; ‘Sir Alexander John Ball’ with ‘Sir Alexander John Ball 1756-1809’

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 Post subject: Re: Sir Alexander John Ball
PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:07 am 
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For the Facebook-impaired can you supply a link to Stephen's forum ? :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: Sir Alexander John Ball
PostPosted: Sat Nov 16, 2013 2:10 am 
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Galiano wrote:
For the Facebook-impaired can you supply a link to Stephen's forum ? :mrgreen:


https://www.facebook.com/groups/302894063184370/

or just type into Google -- The Maltese Islands During the Napoleonic Wars.

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 Post subject: Re: Sir Alexander John Ball
PostPosted: Thu Nov 21, 2013 4:07 am 
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Belated thanks - I joined the board but somehow forgot to thank you for the link...

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