The Mary Hamilton Papers : Diary of Mary Hamilton (15 July 1783 - 22 September 1783)

Hamilton, Mary

The Mary Hamilton Papers

<p style='text-align: justify;'>The diary covers the period from 15 July to 22 September 1783 and records Hamilton’s many visits to her various friends, including members of the Bas Bleu, and to her family, and her various social engagements during this period. The diary also documents the news, politics, literature and gossip of the time.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Hamilton records a visit she made to the Duchess of Devonshire to see her ‘pretty baby’, and seeing the Prince of Wales who kissed her hand. She describes her visit to the Duchess of Portland at Bulstrode and the Duchess’s interesting collections of books, art, prints, geological specimens and other ‘curiosities’. She also writes of attending a lecture which she found ‘horrid and the Company was bad’ and she details her crucial role in assisting her uncle, Sir William Hamilton, to sell his famous Roman vase to the Duchess; it has ever since been known as the Portland Vase.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Hamilton lists her reading such as the works of her friend Hannah More and the Blair lectures, and she describes her reading from her own manuscript volumes (see HAM/3/1 and HAM/3/2 of prose and poetry to Mrs Delany as she sat and worked. Hamilton notes that her friends also read to her from their own manuscript volumes; Lady Wake, for instance read to her on the subject of marriage and the duties of a wife. Hamilton often shared and read aloud from the letters she received from friends such as Hannah More and Elizabeth Carter to her other friends. Carter had written to Hamilton on the subject of learned women; she showed the letter to Lady Wake after Wake had shown her writings on the subject of women.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Hamilton writes about more general aspects of her day-to-day life including attending a furniture sale, a coach accident where one of the passengers ‘lost the use of their limbs’, and herself being thrown from her horse. She describes a visit to Waltham Abbey with Lady Wake and details the architecture and interior of the Abbey. Hamilton also describes a ‘ball of fire’ (meteor?) that her friend Mr Lambe and others saw one night. She notes being asked for a lock of her hair by William Wake, the son of Sir William Wake, and his constant visits and declarations of admiration for her.</p>

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