The Mary Hamilton Papers : Letter from Lady Catherine Herries (née Foote) to Mary Hamilton

Herries (née Foote), Catherine

The Mary Hamilton Papers

<p style='text-align: justify;'>Letter from Lady Catherine Herries to Mary Hamilton. She writes of her brother Edward Foote, and his new appointment as Captain of the <i>Princess Augusta</i>, and of his former wife, Nina Herries.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Lady Herries had not received the letter that Hamilton had written to her prior to her last dated a month ago (HAM/1/17/278). She would have remembered reading it and she also keeps a letter book, which she finds 'necessary', as she has many correspondents and 'many being so bad that all would go into utter confusion if I did not'.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Herries thanks her friend for her 'kind words' on her brother Edward Foote's appointment. She had heard the news from the newspapers and, like Hamilton, 'could not believe he was the person meant'. Herries had always thought a yacht to be an insignificant thing for an old Captain but she understands that they are 'always considered an honourable appointment even in peaceful times'. Edward's yacht the <i>Princess Augusta</i> along with another 'commanded by Captain Grey form part of what is called the floating Defence of the River'. There is, however, little chance of profit in the position, though this may change as a new regulation is being considered.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Herries continues on Edward's new wife (Mary) and on his former wife (Nina). Nina Herries is somewhere in the country but she will not tell Herries where. Nina does not have any of her children with her, 'the one which was the sad consequence of her offence having died last spring'. Herries writes frankly to Hamilton that if it had lived, it 'might have been fortunate for her'. Herries hopes again that through her future conduct she may truly express remorse for her actions, though she does not think that this will be the case. Her 'character is so dark mysterious & strange that there is no getting at the bottom of it indeed there ever was' how she will act. Herries continues on the letter she had written to Nina (HAM/1/17/277), in which she tries to offer her some comfort and advice. She has never received a response, but a message via a note addressed to another one Herries believes meant for her.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Herries changes the subject to one more pleasant. Her young 'charge', Caroline (Nina and Edward's youngest child) is three years old and is healthy, 'though not at all a beauty nor ever will be yet she has a pleasing intelligent countenance & pretty sparkling eyes'. It is too soon to talk of her 'understanding', but seems 'clear & strong' for her age. She hopes that she will not inherit 'those dreadful properties' of her mother, Herries will observe her developing character closely. At the moment Caroline 'is a charming, intelligent little Being'. Herries wishes that she was a little older so that she could see her grown, but thinks that this will be unlikely. All she can do is to ensure that she lays 'a good foundation' for her future behaviour.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Herries has called on Hamilton's cousin, Mrs [Jane] Holman (see <a target='_blank' class='externalLink uom-purple' href=''>HAM/1/4/3</a>), who is still in Cheltenham at the moment but who is soon to go to London where her husband now is. She adds a note informing Hamilton that the newspapers had reported the failure of Mr Holman's play. Herries has not had the chance yet to ask Mrs Holman any of Hamilton's questions, though she herself has said that Mrs Holman's brother [Robert Hamilton] is in London, but 'he had not gone into any profession & spoke& of him as a single man'. Mrs Holman is respected for her 'propriety of conduct' and 'has been much noticed by the best Company' in Cheltenham.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Herries continues on Hamilton's family and with news of friends. Louisa Dickenson has had her 'debut'. In answer to Hamilton's enquiries, Herries writes that Mrs Hunter lives with her sister, Miss Howe, but they do not have a carriage, which 'is a sad privation'. Mrs Hunter's daughter, Mrs Campbell, often visits but she herself lives in Devonshire Street, Portland Place. On public news, Herries writes on the health of the King, who she hopes is recovering, and that she has heard that Mr Pitt and Mr Fox are to go into administration together, 'this is like mixing oil & water'.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dated at Cheltenham.</p>

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