The Mary Hamilton Papers : Diary of Mary Hamilton (27 November 1782 - 10 June 1783)

Hamilton, Mary

The Mary Hamilton Papers

<p style='text-align: justify;'>The diary covers the period from 27 November 1782 to 10 June 1783 and records many aspects of the day-to-day life of Mary Hamilton, including her many social engagements such as her meetings with members of the Bas Bleu and attending plays in which Sarah Siddons appeared. The diary also records the gossip of the day. Hamilton writes of her family and friends and of the literature she reads.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Hamilton notes the social visits she made and the visitors she received each day. Included amongst the latter were her friends from Court, many prominent figures in society such as Frances Evelyn Boscawen, Frances Burney, Elizabeth Carter, Eva Maria Garrick and Hannah More, as well as various members of the aristocracy. She records breakfasting with her relation William Beckford, author and art collector. She writes of a visit from a Mr Vandergutch [probably Benjamin Vandergucht (1753-1794), painter and picture dealer] who came to look at pictures and ‘made a catalogue’. He later took away 39 pictures for £200, to be paid in two months’ time. At a dinner at Mrs Garrick’s she notes that Samuel Johnson was among the guests. Hamilton records a discussion she had with the Duchess of Portland about her having left Court. Hamilton attended a lecture given by Sheridan and ‘Miss Abrams benefit concert’. Mrs Garrick made her own box available to Hamilton to see Siddons play Calista in the <i><i>Fair Portrayal</i></i> and Hamilton also saw Siddons perform the role of Isabella, commenting that it was ‘very finely executed’. She also records a visit to an exhibition with her uncle, viewing a portrait of Mrs Siddons and dressing for a masquerade. Elizabeth Vesey took Hamilton and the Clarke sisters to see the ‘Masks’ at the Duchess of Bolton’s, but Hamilton writes of her disappointment at not being able to attend Lord Abingdon’s concert because of the lack of a suitable chaperone, and of cancelling a visit to the Duke of Devonshire because of the poor weather.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Having recently resigned from her position at Court, Hamilton’s diary details her growing independence including her search for a house to set up with her friends the Miss Clarkes. Hamilton records her decision to take a house in Clarges Street, the signing of the letting agreement and her complaints to the owner about leaks. The diary also includes information on Hamilton’s finances and on her family, including her signing a security bond for £600 that her uncle, Frederick Hamilton, is to pay her.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The diary details Hamilton’s friendship with the Glover family (see <a target='_blank' class='externalLink uom-purple' href=''>HAM/1/13</a>) and of the evenings she spent with them, and the conversations, card games and reading she enjoyed with them. The literature they read included pamphlets on the subject of the American war, a ‘private pamphlet relative to Robert Walpole’, and a manuscript of a tragedy that Mr Glover had written fifty years previously. Hamilton records that Richard Glover sat for his portrait by the artist John Opie, a portrait that was being painted for Hamilton herself.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Hamilton writes of poetry by her friend from Court, Mr Farhill (see HAM/1/7/4), and of her sending him a work called ‘Lines to a Lady’ to read. On a visit to Mary Delany, Hamilton notes that they examined prints and read together from the <i><i>History of the Reign of Queen Anne</i></i>. Hamilton records being asked by a young woman for her advice with regard to how she should conduct herself ‘with a Mr R’. She records news of the Royal family including the poor health of Prince Octavius and later his death, and her seeing and speaking with the Prince of Wales at Ranleigh.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The diary concludes with a visit to Lady Wakes at Courteenhall and after Hamilton’s return to London, a visit to Mrs Garrick’s where they ‘conversed upon [...] interesting literary subjects’.</p>

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