The Mary Hamilton Papers : Letter from Mary Sharpe (later Beauvoir) to Mary Hamilton

Beauvoir (née Sharpe, later Douglas), Mary

The Mary Hamilton Papers

<p style='text-align: justify;'>Letter from Mary Sharpe to Mary Hamilton. Sharpe writes on her engagement to marry. She also writes on the value she places on her friendship with Hamilton and on her relationship with Elizabeth Carter.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Sharpe notes that she has never 'known any duration of real comfort strange as it may appear'. Her life has been one of 'sorrow'. She notes that her early years affected both her health and spirits. From the age of twelve to eighteen she lived in the 'severest solitude with my father'. Although left with a large fortune, she had no friend at home and a governess whom she once loved treated her with 'tyranny'. Sharpe resolved that she would never marry and would live a life of independence, as her short experience she had been 'oppressed by every one whom I once had reason to love'. The time when she most 'smitten' with the idea of independence she was forced to leave her house to escape the ill-treatment of her governess 'and at 22 years of age had much difficulty in freeing my-self from my slavery to her'. It was at this time that Sharpe became acquainted with Elizabeth Carter and she quickly became attached to her. Her character justified me 'to my-self, & her manners won my heart'. Sharpe writes that she 'sacrificed every thing to my feelings for her'. Sharpe's own poor health and spirits would have been opened her eyes to her and showed her 'that death of infinately worse wou[l]d befall me, if in some degree I did not alter my mode of life'. With much struggle she did so. The letter continues on her life and the loss of a friend she considered to be her 'guardian Angel' [a Dr Fothergill], after which Carter became anxious about the change this caused in Sharpe.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Over the last year, Sharpe notes, far from being independent, she has been more dependent on others for support. After confessing this to Hamilton she hopes that she will not be too surprised at a decision she never thought she would take and that is to marry. The person in question [Mr Beauvoir] is neither young nor wealthy. The difference in age may be an objection to a 'mind less singular than mine'. To her his age and his 'goodness' gives her a sense of security. Sharpe has known Beauvoir for seven years and has long been a friend to his daughters. The letter continues on the proposed marriage and on its effect on Sharpe's relationship with Mrs Carter. An 'unhappy division has arisen between [...] Mrs C & me, on this occasion, principally about Eliz'. She asks Hamilton not to mention this 'coolness' between them to anyone and hopes that in time they will be reconciled. Sharpe intends to settle £8000 on Elizabeth, £4000 on the day of her marriage and £4000 on Sharpe's death. 'She is by her fathers desire to go to Miss Moore's school at Bristol'. She is to give an annuity to Mrs O'Keefe (see HAM/1/22/13) of £200 to be settled on her during Sharpe's lifetime and £7000 on her death. Sharpe will also settle money on Mrs O'Keefe's daughters when they marry.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Sharpe ends her letter noting that by mutual agreement the Miss Beauvoirs are to be independent from her and to have their own servant and apartment. 'We know one another well and to live each without being a restraint on the other is the wish of all parties'.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dated at North Parade.</p>

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