The Mary Hamilton Papers : Diary of Mary Hamilton (4 November 1783 - 27 November 1783)

Hamilton, Mary

The Mary Hamilton Papers

<p style='text-align: justify;'>The diary covers the period from 4 to 27 November 1783 and details Mary Hamilton’s many social engagements and visits to her friends including Lady Spencer at Spencer House. Hamilton writes on literary subjects, on the theatre and on her many prominent friends and relations as well as her more obscure acquaintances.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The diary contains news of the Royal family and Court and of the Prince of Wales’s speaking of Hamilton to her friends. Hamilton describes going to see a play at the Convent Garden Playhouse and also attending a play in which Sarah Siddons appeared. Hamilton writes about many aspects of her day-to-day life, including her servants and the unwelcome attentions she received from William Wake, the son of her friend Lady Wake. She also refers to meeting a Mr Hunter, a miniature painter, who brought her some of his miniatures to show her (she wanted her portrait to give to John Dickenson). Hamilton records her many evenings spent with members of the Bas Bleu including Elizabeth Vesey, Elizabeth Montagu and Horace Walpole and with prominent members of Society such as Lady Spencer. She often notes the conversations that took place at these gatherings and remarks on the characters and personalities of those present. After one such gathering at Mrs Vesey’s, which she was unable to attend, Mrs Vesey told her that Walpole was disappointed not to see Hamilton there; he insisted that she write him ‘a note to invite him to her house on Saturday’. Hamilton writes of her friendship with Mrs Vesey and of correcting Mrs Vesey’s copy of Hannah More’s Poems for her.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The diary contains information on the fashions of the day. For instance, Hamilton notes that on a visit to Lady King’s a Mrs Garnett came in with ‘diamonds in her hair and dropped diamond ear rings’.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Hamilton also details a lengthy visit she made to Bulstrode to see the Duchess of Portland and Mrs Delany, and the people she met there, including the Queen and the princesses and Mrs Boscawen. The diary describes the conversations she had and the prints and ‘curiosities’ she viewed whilst at Bulstrode; she also writes of a visit to the greenhouse to look at caterpillars, of taking a ride in the park and of her alarm when she saw some animals. Mrs Delany showed her some material that the Queen had given her and some gold ‘notting’ that the King had presented to her. Hamilton also writes of helping the Duchess ‘look over a drawer’ of curiosities. She records the many interesting stories that Mrs Delany told her and writes of assisting Delany with her books of flowers. Hamilton also details a conversation she had with Delany’s servant.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Hamilton writes in detail about her relationships with members of her family, particularly her uncles Sir William Hamilton and Frederick Hamilton and her cousin Lady Stormont. Hamilton discusses at length Sir William’s passing on to her letters and a ring that belonged to his late wife, Lady Catherine Hamilton. The diary also documents Hamilton’s role in introducing Sir William and her cousin Charles Greville to the Duchess of Portland, facilitating the Duchess’s purchase of some of the art and antiquities that Sir William had brought to England from Naples, including the famous ‘Portland Vase’. Hamilton writes of her relations’ visit to Bulstrode and of Sir William’s entertaining the group with stories of the King of Naples, volcanoes and hunting. Mrs Delany commented that she went hunting at the age of thirteen in a mantua gown and hoop. They also talked about the Princess Dashkova.</p>

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