The Mary Hamilton Papers : Letter from Jean Baptiste Louis Georges Seroux d'Agincourt to Mary Hamilton

Seroux d'Agincourt, Jean Baptiste Louis Georges

The Mary Hamilton Papers

<p style='text-align: justify;'>Letter from [Jean Baptiste Louis Georges Seroux] d’Agincourt to Mary Hamilton. He begins by mentioning that, not very long ago, someone unknown to him left a small souvenir from Hamilton at his home in Paris. He explains that for a time he was unsure whether a message from him would be appreciated, that for some time ‘Milady Hamilton’ had been quite unwell and that he had not dared to get in touch to hear her news for fear of the worst. He spoke with a friend who was in touch with Hamilton who informed him that she is doing much better and has been ordered to take walks by the sea; treatment that has brought down the swelling in her legs that everyone had feared was dropsy.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Wanting to explain what he is doing in Italy after three years, he writes that for the past fifteen months he has been examining and drawing monuments related to the three arts; architecture, painting and sculpture. However, he has fallen ill with a fever that has kept him in his bed for eleven months. He knows that despite Hamilton’s youth and her charming cheerful demeanour, that she us also capable of philosophical thought and as a result he would like to describe his surroundings to her. He describes the world in which an author called Young wrote his <i><i>Nuits Sombres</i></i>; the catacombs of Rome, ancient cemeteries full of persecuted Christians and in which, for almost three centuries, they hid themselves away and were buried. The subterranean world that was hollowed out to unearth the sand and cement that helped to built the city. He continues on in this vein to paint a very vivid picture of the ancient city and its history to Hamilton, ending on a grotesque image of him, after making his way through the dark, long streets of the city, opening a tomb to discover a skeleton covered in centuries of dust. He apologies for the sinister images he has relayed to her and goes on to describe some of the other work he is completing in Italy, such as chair that he is painting and engraving with a monstrous image on it. In stark contrast to the previous passage, he ends the letter on a more ordinary note, sending Lady Hamilton his regards and asks her to send his best wishes to the Queen.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dated at Albano, near Rome, [Italy].</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Original reference No. 6.</p>

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