The Mary Hamilton Papers : Diary of Mary Hamilton 22 June 1783 - 4 December 1783

Hamilton, Mary

The Mary Hamilton Papers

<p style='text-align: justify;'>The diary covers the period from 22 June to 4 December 1783 and records Hamilton’s many visits and social engagements. She writes of spending an hour at Frances Burney’s where they had very ‘pleasant conversation’, her dinner engagements, and her visits to Mary Delany and the Duchess of Portland. She also notes her relationships with servants.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Hamilton records the day she moves into Clarges Street with the Clarke sisters and lists the visitors to her house; these included Mr Pepys, who liked her house. She notes her visits to friends including a dinner at Mrs Garrick’s with the Veseys where the conversation was ‘animated & sensible’. Other guests included Miss Boyle and Horace Walpole. After dinner, the women left the ‘Gentleman for coffee’ and Mrs Garrick entertained them by showing them letters from Lord Monboddo; later they rejoined the men for tea in Mrs Garrick’s ‘Shakespeare’s Temple’, which had been decorated by Hogarth. Hamilton describes the Temple’s design and her whole day in detail and she notes that Horace Walpole wanted her to extend her visit so that she could call at Strawberry Hill. She also describes her stay at Mrs [Charlotte] Walsingham’s, of reading passages from the life of the Duchess of Marlborough, and of their interesting conversation, which kept her up later than she was used to. Hamilton writes of a visit to Hampton Court Palace where a ‘very sensible man’ showed them the pictures; she comments that he was ‘superior to the [usual] people who show fine houses’. Hamilton writes that Mrs Garrick came to dinner at Mrs Walsingham’s and was very entertaining. Mrs Walsingham’s daughter, Miss Boyle, read out chapters from the Old and New Testaments, and Mrs Walsingham herself played the harpsichord. Hamilton also records visiting the Duke of Newcastle’s estate, Oatlands [in Surrey], and entering the grotto there which is said to have cost £10,000. Throughout the diary, Hamilton details the poetry they read, the music they played and the conversations they had on such visits.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>On her return home from her visit to Mrs Walsingham, Hamilton writes of going over the river; the boat she took was steered by a woman dressed as a man, who was of ‘truly [a] masculine size’.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Hamilton continues the diary recording her other visits to friends and family including a visit to Horace Walpole. She describes Strawberry Hill and the other guests. ‘Mr Walpole came down to receive us [...] Mr Burke son of the famous Burke was there [...] W[alpole] was so obliging as to shew us Pictures – Busts – Drawings [...] not to forget the House w[hi]ch is all Gothic – every Window decorated with Painted Glass [...] there were also many Cabinets fill’d with rare & curious things – some w[hi]ch had belong’d to famous People others executed by the first artists [...] I left Strawberry Hill with regret as my curiosity was not half satisfied.’ She adds that Walpole expressed the hope that she would visit often.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Hamilton also records more day-to-day activities such as a visit to a bookseller in Bond Street to settle her account and interviewing a Madame Renaud as a prospective governess to Miss Wake, the daughter of her friend. She notes that she assisted at a ‘Globe lecture’ and took ‘a lesson in Italian’. Hamilton speaks of receiving gifts of a silver ink-horn and a Bible from Mrs [Charlotte] Walsingham and of reading from Walpole’s <i><i>Anecdotes of Politics in England</i></i>.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The diary includes general news of society and gossip. Lady Dartrey informed her that the Prince of Wales had made enquiries after her and the Clarkes told her of the death of a woman when a coach overturned.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Hamilton describes in great detail her lengthy stay at Bulstrode in November and December 1783, with Mary Delany and the Duchess of Portland. Whilst there she read newspapers, the Duchess gave her a book of drawings to examine, and she read manuscript poems. She writes of meeting Court Dewes, the nephew of Mrs Delany, and of discussing with Mrs Delany her uncle, Frederick Hamilton, and Delany making ‘remarks on artful characters’. Whilst at Bulstrode, her maid Betty informed Hamilton of the ‘high esteem’ in which she (Hamilton) was held by the other servants and of their hopes that the Duchess would press her to extend her visit. Hamilton was highly gratified by this report: ‘surely it is an innocent & laudable vanity to listen to commendations of this sort not only as it encourages one to endeavour to render oneself worthy of being esteemed but gives such universal satisfaction by behaving in a civil pleasing manner towards every individual of society – it seems all of the D[uche]ss of P[ortland’s] servants are quite delighted with me’.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>No. 2 written on cover.</p>

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