Single Letter

HAM/1/3/2/4

Letter from Elizabeth Palombi to Mary Hamilton

Diplomatic Text


Naples March 20th 1804

My Dear Sister
      If paper were capable of blushing, I shou'd
not venture to appear thus in your presence, after a
Silence, wch: I am well aware must carry the appearance
of neglect, & a positive omiʃsion of what I confeʃs was
an absolute duty; & so conscious I am of my fault,
that I shall not attempt to vindicate myself, nor add
to this my trangreʃsion by a tedious apology: but at the
same time that I have so much to lament the fatality
of the various combinations wch: have tended constantly
to render me thus culpable in your eyes, so in justice
to my good intentions, I must beg leave just to
mention them. After receiving a kind letter from
you & my Brother the beginning of last year,
when I was about to reply to so many obliging
expreʃsions of affection &c, My Louisa began of
the small-pox, wch: she had in so violent a manner
at the beginning as to require the strictest attendance from me, besides
the state of anxiety wch: you may imagine I must
suffer for the other three children, who all broke out
at the same time; & as Servants are of no use here
on such occasions, you may have some very slight
idea of the life I led; tho' I had so much reason to
be thankful that the disease was so mild, as rarely
falls to the lot of the offspring of Italian Parents
These busy occupations were succeded by a most
tedious & uncomfortable state, wch: for the first months
never fails to render me incapable of any application
whatever; as a proof of this a letter began to my



Sister, when the children fell sick, in the month of Feby:
was finish'd in the month of June: to this succeeded the
news of the war, wch: then precluded all hope of letters
going safe: I sent my letter by a round about method
to our Dear Sarah, to whom I added a positive injunction
which was rather unbecoming from me, to plead my
excuse with you, wch: she tells me she transcrib'd verbatim
Having the favorable occasion of a private hand to carry
this to Manchester, I hasten to embrace such an opportunity
& to show you how much I am desirous to repair this
my former omiʃsion, I lose not a moment's time to take
up my pen, a week before the time, for fear of some other
unlucky impediment, which I have the greater reason to fear
as this very morning my eldest boy is, I believe, broke
out of the Measles: two of the children have had that
disorder, but as the number is now encreas'd to five
so the two youngest now have the risk very near them.
      I have here again to confeʃs that I ought to have
written sooner, to inform you of my having had another
most unexpected &, almost, unwelcome increase to my cares
in the latter end of November; but I had a tedious con-
-finement
on acct: of the severity of the weather at that
time; but tho I have not yet ventur'd out, I have the
pleasure to say that I have perfectly recover'd my
Strength, & flesh, wch: is a surprising proof at the
fineneʃs & salubrity of the air I live in, & it is very
rare to see a Nurse in a plump state, at the same
time that her charge comes on so well as mine does
this last is indeed one of the finest ever seen, & is a fat
strong, merry little girl, insomuch that before she
attaind the age of three Months, she sometimes stood
upright, by holding her under one arm only; tho we have
given her the name of a Queen (Henrietta) she looks
like a good farmers wife who lives on milk & butter



She is however extremely well proportion'd; her greatest beauty
at present, is a lovely mouth, & good eyes, with a handsome
forehead; the rest we must leave to time, which refines &
perfections all things. If I fill up this my letter with
an account of my olive-branches, you must attribute it not
to a foolish mother's fondneʃs, which I am not conscious of
having, but as I believe it the most innocent subject I can
touch upon, & the most interesting one to affectionate Relations
I sometimes mention them to our Dear Sarah, notwithstanding
she gives herself many old-maidish airs on the occasion,
& is very saucy, but I give her full credit for the
enjoyment she boasts of in being free from matronly cares
as I shou'd have done the same in her case; but as it
has pleasd Almighty God to bestow so many of what
are generally call'd bleʃsings on me, so I must in gratitude
be thankful for what estimable qualities, either
of body or mind, which I
flatter myself they poʃseʃs.
You, My Dear Sister, as a tender
Mother, naturally think as I do:
besides in your letter you seem
to wish for a better acquaintance with
your little Nephews & Nieces, which I had promis'd
myself the pleasure of giving you, had not so many imped-
iments
occurr'd; & I shou'd have been particularly induc'd to
do so, as you at the same time, flatterd me with the hope
of recieving a long letter from my sweet Louisa;[1] to
whom I feel to have a more particular claim than that
of a mere aunt: My affection for her was foster'd before
I had children of my own, & has ever since been kept
up with a most kindly warmth by the accounts I have
receiv'd of her amiable disposition & manners, so that
I feel proud of having her at least for my niece: &
I coud much wish that her name sake & God-daughter
might ever be brought to resemble her: She is of a very
different temper to manage, wch: may be attributed



to the great quantity of bile with which she abounds, which
makes her discontent &c; as she was born on the first of April
so I need only say that she resembles that capricious month
so her affectns & naturally tender feelings beam forth midst
showers & hail-storms: under proper management, & with a better
example than I can afford her, she might be corrected & induc'd
to apply; -- as she by no means wants abilities; on the contrary, her
ideas are quick, & much clearer than those of her eldest Brother,
& her hands seem form'd for every thing ingenious & elegant: she
is, at present, the plainest of the whole flock
                                                         but will I believe have a good
                                                         figure.


John-Vint. is rather too delicate for a boy, but begins to look more manly;
he poʃseʃses too general abilities to excell in anything particularly; & has no applicat[ion]
for what requires reflection, or study: whatever he does, must be frank & natural
which I think are proofs of genius; he is very mechanical & clever in imitating
what he sees, but has, alaʃs! few objects whereon to exercise his ingenuity
William is a very difft: character from the others; he promises to be solid &
systematical; is a fine stout Boy, with large Dark eyes, & features, but
tho' 5 years & half, he has yet all the simplicity & innocence of a younger child
he cries about the smallest trifle, & thunders terribly in my ears, wch: I'm sure
will make you smile, as you know how little I can bear noise. As for the sweet
little poppet Aurelia, I must reserve a description of her perfections for some future
period, as it wou'd require a whole foglio to make you acquainted with all the variety
of her engaging qualities, & beauties: she is the idol of us all, & everything a mother can wish
they are all too much indulged, more by the Chevr:[2] than myself, as he is too tender a
Father. I was happy to hear lately a good acct: from
                                                         Birch-Hall. I know your generous

heart will rejoice to find [th]at poor Mrs: M. has left
me such a handsome legacy: I was much shock'd to hear
of her melancholy death, as she was always very good
to me. Pray give my best love to my
Bror: & sweet Louisa. I shou'd be very
proud of a long letter from her: letters
come now very safe & cheap thro'
Germany. Remember me to Morrison
who I hope is still with you --
Excuse bad writing as it is for me
a difficult task, & my eyes are very weak[3]


                                                         Single Sheet
To
Mrs: Dickenson
      Leighton-House
      Leighton Buʃsard
Bedfordshire[4]


(hover over blue text or annotations for clarification;
red text is normalised and/or unformatted in other panel)


Notes


 1. Louisa Frances Mary Dickenson (1787-1837), daughter of John Dickenson and Mary Hamilton
 2. Chevalier Palombi, husband to Elizabeth Palombi (née Dickenson), one of two sisters of Hamilton's husband, John Dickenson.
 3. Moved section here from right side of address panel in centre of p.3 when unfolded, written vertically.
 4. Moved address panel here from centre of p.3 when unfolded, written vertically.

Normalised Text


Naples March 20th 1804

My Dear Sister
      If paper were capable of blushing, I should
not venture to appear thus in your presence, after a
Silence, which I am well aware must carry the appearance
of neglect, & a positive omission of what I confess was
an absolute duty; & so conscious I am of my fault,
that I shall not attempt to vindicate myself, nor add
to this my transgression by a tedious apology: but at the
same time that I have so much to lament the fatality
of the various combinations which have tended constantly
to render me thus culpable in your eyes, so in justice
to my good intentions, I must beg leave just to
mention them. After receiving a kind letter from
you & my Brother the beginning of last year,
when I was about to reply to so many obliging
expressions of affection &c, My Louisa began of
the small-pox, which she had in so violent a manner
at the beginning as to require the strictest attendance from me, besides
the state of anxiety which you may imagine I must
suffer for the other three children, who all broke out
at the same time; & as Servants are of no use here
on such occasions, you may have some very slight
idea of the life I led; though I had so much reason to
be thankful that the disease was so mild, as rarely
falls to the lot of the offspring of Italian Parents
These busy occupations were succeded by a most
tedious & uncomfortable state, which for the first months
never fails to render me incapable of any application
whatever; as a proof of this a letter began to my



Sister, when the children fell sick, in the month of February
was finish'd in the month of June: to this succeeded the
news of the war, which then precluded all hope of letters
going safe: I sent my letter by a round about method
to our Dear Sarah, to whom I added a positive injunction
which was rather unbecoming from me, to plead my
excuse with you, which she tells me she transcrib'd verbatim
Having the favourable occasion of a private hand to carry
this to Manchester, I hasten to embrace such an opportunity
& to show you how much I am desirous to repair this
my former omission, I lose not a moment's time to take
up my pen, a week before the time, for fear of some other
unlucky impediment, which I have the greater reason to fear
as this very morning my eldest boy is, I believe, broke
out of the Measles: two of the children have had that
disorder, but as the number is now increased to five
so the two youngest have the risk very near them.
      I have here again to confess that I ought to have
written sooner, to inform you of my having had another
most unexpected &, almost, unwelcome increase to my cares
in the latter end of November; but I had a tedious confinement
on account of the severity of the weather at that
time; though I have not yet ventur'd out, I have the
pleasure to say that I have perfectly recover'd my
Strength, & flesh, which is a surprising proof at the
fineness & salubrity of the air I live in, & it is very
rare to see a Nurse in a plump state, at the same
time that her charge comes on so well as mine does
this last is indeed one of the finest ever seen, & is a fat
strong, merry little girl, insomuch that before she
attained the age of three Months, she sometimes stood
upright, by holding her under one arm only; though we have
given her the name of a Queen (Henrietta) she looks
like a good farmers wife who lives on milk & butter



She is however extremely well proportion'd; her greatest beauty
at present, is a lovely mouth, & good eyes, with a handsome
forehead; the rest we must leave to time, which refines &
perfections all things. If I fill up this my letter with
an account of my olive-branches, you must attribute it not
to a foolish mother's fondness, which I am not conscious of
having, but as I believe it the most innocent subject I can
touch upon, & the most interesting one to affectionate Relations
I sometimes mention them to our Dear Sarah, notwithstanding
she gives herself many old-maidish airs on the occasion,
& is very saucy, but I give her full credit for the
enjoyment she boasts of in being free from matronly cares
as I should have done the same in her case; but as it
has pleased Almighty God to bestow so many of what
are generally call'd blessings on me, so I must in gratitude
be thankful for what estimable qualities, either
of body or mind, which I
flatter myself they possess.
You, My Dear Sister, as a tender
Mother, naturally think as I do:
besides in your letter you seem
to wish for a better acquaintance with
your little Nephews & Nieces, which I had promis'd
myself the pleasure of giving you, had not so many impediments
occurr'd; & I should have been particularly induc'd to
do so, as you at the same time, flattered me with the hope
of receiving a long letter from my sweet Louisa; to
whom I feel to have a more particular claim than that
of a mere aunt: My affection for her was foster'd before
I had children of my own, & has ever since been kept
up with a most kindly warmth by the accounts I have
receiv'd of her amiable disposition & manners, so that
I feel proud of having her at least for my niece: &
I could much wish that her name sake & God-daughter
might ever be brought to resemble her: She is of a very
different temper to manage, which may be attributed



to the great quantity of bile with which she abounds, which
makes her discontent &c; as she was born on the first of April
so I need only say that she resembles that capricious month
so her affections & naturally tender feelings beam forth midst
showers & hail-storms: under proper management, & with a better
example than I can afford her, she might be corrected & induc'd
to apply; -- as she by no means wants abilities; on the contrary, her
ideas are quick, & much clearer than those of her eldest Brother,
& her hands seem form'd for every thing ingenious & elegant: she
is, at present, the plainest of the whole flock
                                                         but will I believe have a good
                                                         figure.


John-Vincent is rather too delicate for a boy, but begins to look more manly;
he possesses too general abilities to excel in anything particularly; & has no application
for what requires reflection, or study: whatever he does, must be frank & natural
which I think are proofs of genius; he is very mechanical & clever in imitating
what he sees, but has, alas! few objects whereon to exercise his ingenuity
William is a very different character from the others; he promises to be solid &
systematical; is a fine stout Boy, with large Dark eyes, & features, but
though 5 years & half, he has yet all the simplicity & innocence of a younger child
he cries about the smallest trifle, & thunders terribly in my ears, which I'm sure
will make you smile, as you know how little I can bear noise. As for the sweet
little poppet Aurelia, I must reserve a description of her perfections for some future
period, as it would require a whole foglio to make you acquainted with all the variety
of her engaging qualities, & beauties: she is the idol of us all, & everything a mother can wish
they are all too much indulged, more by the Chevalier than myself, as he is too tender a
Father. I was happy to hear lately a good account from
                                                         Birch-Hall. I know your generous

heart will rejoice to find that poor Mrs: M. has left
me such a handsome legacy: I was much shock'd to hear
of her melancholy death, as she was always very good
to me. Pray give my best love to my
Brother & sweet Louisa. I should be very
proud of a long letter from her: letters
come now very safe & cheap through
Germany. Remember me to Morrison
who I hope is still with you --
Excuse bad writing as it is for me
a difficult task, & my eyes are very weak


                                                         Single Sheet
To
Mrs: Dickenson
      Leighton-House
      Leighton Buzzard
Bedfordshire


(consult diplomatic text or XML for annotations, deletions, clarifications,
quotations,
spellings, uncorrected forms, split words, abbreviations, formatting)



 1. Louisa Frances Mary Dickenson (1787-1837), daughter of John Dickenson and Mary Hamilton
 2. Chevalier Palombi, husband to Elizabeth Palombi (née Dickenson), one of two sisters of Hamilton's husband, John Dickenson.
 3. Moved section here from right side of address panel in centre of p.3 when unfolded, written vertically.
 4. Moved address panel here from centre of p.3 when unfolded, written vertically.

Metadata

Library References

Repository: The John Rylands Library, University of Manchester

Archive: Mary Hamilton Papers

Item title: Letter from Elizabeth Palombi to Mary Hamilton

Shelfmark: HAM/1/3/2/4

Correspondence Details

Author: Elizabeth Palombi (née Dickenson)

Place sent: Naples

Addressee: Mary Hamilton

Place received: Leighton Buzzard, Beds.

Date sent: 20 March 1804

Letter Description

Summary: Letter from Elizabeth Palombi to Mary Hamilton. The letter begins by stating that, if paper were capable of blushing, Palombi would so appear to Hamilton after so neglectful a correspondence. Her excuse for such a delay was that her daughter Louisa was ill with smallpox and required constant attention. Palombi writes of her worries for her other three children 'who all broke out at the same time'. She continues noting that 'as servants are of no use here at such occasion', Hamilton may have some idea of the type of life she was living. Luckily the disease was mild. She writes that she had begun a letter to her sister in February when her children became sick and could not finish it until June. The letter continues that the War followed the illness and prevented any safe correspondence. She notes that she has now the opportunity of sending this letter by a private hand to Manchester and states that she is making the most of this before another impediment is put in her way, which, she adds, is very likely, as her eldest boy seems to have broken out with measles that very morning. Two of her children have already had measles, but she writes of the risk to her two other children. After noting this she apologises that she had not informed Hamilton of the birth of her fifth child, which she describes as an 'unexpected &, almost, unwelcome increase to my cares'. Palombi has not yet been outside since the birth, but has now recovered her strength. The baby is described as 'strong' and 'merry' and has been named Henrietta, and is known to the family as 'Queen'. Palombi describes her daughter as being well proportioned but looking 'like a good farmers wife who lives on milk & butter'. She writes of her interest in her children and notes that Sarah, her sister, is very 'saucy and 'boasts' of her enjoyment 'in being free from matronly cares as I should have done the same in her case', but as it has 'pleased almighty God to bestow so many of what are generally called blessings on me, so I must in gratitude be thankful for what estimable qualities, either of body or mind, which I flatter myself they possess'.
    Palombi writes of Hamilton's own daughter and how her affection for Louisa had been cultivated before she had her own children. One of her own daughters was named after Louisa and Palombi notes that she hopes she will take on her temperament as well as her name, as she has such a 'difficult temper to manage'. The letter continues in some length to describe Louisa Palombi and her other children, their characters and their abilities.
    The letter ends with Palombi noting the death of Mrs M., who had left her a 'handsome legacy'.
   

Length: 1 sheet, 1453 words

Transliteration Information

Editorial declaration: First edited in the project 'Image to Text' (David Denison & Nuria Yáñez-Bouza, 2013-2019), now incorporated in the project 'Unlocking the Mary Hamilton Papers' (Hannah Barker, Sophie Coulombeau, David Denison, Tino Oudesluijs, Cassandra Ulph, Christine Wallis & Nuria Yáñez-Bouza, 2019-2022).

All quotation marks are retained in the text and are represented by appropriate Unicode characters. Words split across two lines may have a hyphen on the first, the second or both fragments (reco-|ver, imperfect|-ly, satisfacti-|-on); or a double hyphen (pur=|port, dan|=ger, qua=|=litys); or none (respect|ing). Any point in abbreviations with superscripted letter(s) is placed last, regardless of relative left-right orientation in the original. Thus, Mrs. or Mrs may occur, but M.rs or Mr.s do not.

Acknowledgements: XML version: Research Assistant funding in 2014/15 and 2015/16 provided by the Department of Linguistics and English Language, University of Manchester.

Research assistant: Isabella Formisano, former MA student, University of Manchester

Research assistant: Carla Seabra-Dacosta, MA student, University of Vigo

Transliterator: Pablo González-Cabrera, undergraduate student, University of Manchester (submitted May 2016)

Cataloguer: Lisa Crawley, Archivist, The John Rylands Library

Cataloguer: John Hodgson, Head of Special Collections, The John Rylands Library

Copyright: Transcriptions, notes and TEI/XML © the editors

Revision date: 13 April 2020

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