Single Letter

HAM/1/4/5/10

Letter from Lady Catherine Hamilton to Mary Hamilton

Diplomatic Text


9

Characters of
Queen & King She no courtier
      This part typed

Naples[1]
May 14th- 1778

      I am ashamed My Dear Miʃs
Hamilton of my own indolence, but I do asʃure
you, tho' my pen has not been employ'd in
telling you so, you take up much of my thoughts
& I hope I need not tell you how large a Share
you poʃseʃs in my Affections. -- but I must now
reproach you, & call you to account it is by
mere chance that I have just learnt that you
have been very ill of the Putrid Sore throat
but are perfectly recover'd
, if I had heard the
first part without the latter & let your own
heart tell you how much I should have Suffer'd
I hope this hint will be sufficient, & that all
my future intelligence about you will be from
yourself. -- We are at present at our Villa upon
the foot of Mount Vesuvius, (the Court being at
Portici) & I wish I could convey to your imagina
-tion
the beautifull prospect I have from the
place where I am writing looking over the Kings Bosquet[2]
& the Bay bounded by the Mountains of Sorrento,
I love this Villa, but my principal attachment
to it is the quiet I enjoy (altho' so near the gayest
Court in Europe) the fact is I never go near it



but when it is absolutely neceʃsary I should pay
my Court, or that the Queen sends for me, Her
Majesty has always treated me with the greatest kind=
=neʃs
, & says she wishes to see me more, & last Thursday
sent me word her Apartment was open for me a toutes
heures de jour et nuit
, that was her expreʃsion
but I shall continue my old Plan of keeping the
greatest & most respectfull distance, I am able, I am
a bad Courtier, & I know her Majesty's disposition too
well to place any confidence in any encouragement
she may pleases to give me -- I should not venture to
say all this to you if my letter was to go by the Post
but I send it by Mr Carnegie brother to Sr David
Carnegie who is order'd to join his Regiment & as
there are some Characters you may be curious to
know I may now speak freely to you -- & to proceed
with that of the Queen -- She is quick, clever, insinuating
when she pleases, hates & loves violently, but her Paʃsions
of both kind paʃs like the Wind, she is too proud, &
too humble, there is no dependence upon what she says,
as she seldom is of the same opinion two days, her
Strongest & most durable Paʃsions are Ambition & Vanity
the latter of which gives her a strong disposition to
Coquetry, but the former which I think is her principal
Object makes her use every Art to please the King
in order to get the Reins of Government into her
hands, in as great a measure as is poʃsible -- with
all this she is an excellent Mother, & is very generous
& charitable -- did you ever know such a compound!



The King is in many things a direct contrast to the
Queen, he has neither education or Art, it is a thousand
pitys he has not the former, for he deserves it, his heart
is excellent & his head by no means defficient, on the
contrary he has an uncommon deal of quickneʃs,
he is sincere constant in his friendships, benevolent,
a natural disposition to justice, & his love to please
is so genuine that I know numberleʃs instances where
he has done good natured actions, so entirely for his
own satisfaction that he has not wish'd it to be
known from whence their Source came he can
not bear a lie, nor does he ever forget the Man
whom he has caught in one he has a great
regard for the Queen, & She has some weight
with him, but he sees a good deal into her
Character & will have his own way the Queen
Shows some favour at times to the French
but The King detests them, & indeed is often
Scarcely civil to them - the next person whom
I shall mention to you is the Count de Clermont
the French Ambr. who is the weakest poor Man
Alive, so weak, that I wish he was first Minister
at Versailles, at the Age of fifty he has fallen
a Prey to the most Gallant Woman here (the
Marqse. de Santo Marco) who laughs at him
& ruins him, the Portuguese Minister is a good
sort of Man, The Sardinian, clever, but a true
Piedmontese
-- The Count de Lambert who is coming



from Vienna a very agreable Man -- The Danish
Minister just arrived (who is the only married one except the
Venetian Resident) I shall have little comfort
in as they cannot live without gaming -- as to
the rest they are not worth speaking of -- in the
Winter we have a fatiguing time, as we have
scarcely an hour to ourselves, the past one I
think would have killd me had it not been
for the friendship & kindness of that charming
Man & Woman, Ly Betty and Mr Mackenzie whose
goodneʃs to me I shall never forget, upon particularly
upon a foolish Affair where their aʃsistance
was very eʃsential to one of so anxious a temper
as you know mine to be -- the Affair I speak
of was concerning Ly Maynard whose Lord first
wanted to force me to receive her visit, & then
to present her to The Queen of Naples, neither
of which I chose to do, as I could not venture
to ask an Audience & answer (as is the Etiquette
of this Court) for a person I had reason to believe
My own Sovereign would not receive, (I suppose
you know who Ly Maynard was?) in conse=
quence
of my refusal I underwent a reall
persecution & by the end of the Winter I
was quite worn out with it -- if ever you
see Ly Betty she can give you an account
of the whole for I really am sick of the
thought, & still more as I hear they intend



returning here next Winter & they have already
declar'd they will do every thing to torment us --
but enough of this very unpleasant Subject &
I must now return to the Subject of our pre=
=sent
pleasant situation in the Country, where
we live as English a life as we can make
it -- in the Morning we go out in an Open
Chaise, I work, & draw -- & in the Evening we
have musick -- & afterwards I work & Sr Wm.
reads to me, & you cannot think with what
pleasure I heard him tell an Italian the
other day who wonder'd at our not going
to the Conversaziones a mile off, that our
Evenings paʃs'd so pleasantly that he could
not have the heart to try a change -- as to
me, in almost thirteen Years (which it is since
we first came from England) I have never made
a friendship or I should rather say intimacy, with
any Woman here tho' I have been upon a perfect
good footing with them all, their education &
way of thinking is so totally different from
ours that there is no temptation to it, & I am
convinced they like me much better for not
chusing to enter into their private Coteries, & by
that means I am now & then at liberty to



to
take that rest I am now enjoying at our
Sweet Villa -- we have a charming Room for
Musick, & my Piano forte is placed just Vis a
vis
to the Vesuvius which now & then heats
me with an explosion while I am playing, the
other Night there was the finest Girandole of
red hot Stones you can imagine, it made an
amazing report but we play'd on as you would
if you had heard a pop gun in the Street -- See
what custom does! -- I cannot help however longing
from time to time to be in England, & was my
My Mind at ease when I am there, I dare say
the Climate would aggree very well with me
but till our Circumstances are a little better &
our Estate clear I could not feel comfortable, not
that we are saving here, but we are not augmenting
the debt tho' we spend our own -- & we could not
avoid increasing it in England unleʃs I could per=
=suade
Hamilton to retire into Wales, which he
is not inclined to do, but he always tells me that
he dedicated his Services to his Sovereign when their
family was first form'd, & that he hopes to go
on in his Career & dedicate the rest of his life
to his Service -- You may imagine this is sufficient
to Silence me -- & I must comfort my self with the



thoughts of Visiting Dear England now & then,
What a now & then My Dr Miʃs Hamilton! upon
reflection I dare not look so forward -- I should grow
melancholy if I dwelt any longer upon this Subject --
pray let me know if you have seen much of
Ly Stormont, & how you like her? -- & write me
word every thing about yourself, you know how
much I have your happineʃs at heart -- I am
comforted when I think of your situation, know
how to prize your own happineʃs My Dear Miʃs
Hamilton -- I know you love and admire The Queen, but
did you know s other Sovereigns -- I think you would
doubly bleʃs the kind providence who had placed
you where you are -- I am ready to Say of our Queen
as Prince Poniatowski did of The King of Poland
I was asking him some questions relating to him
& he said "il a tant de Vertus, tant de qualités
aimables auʃsi bien qu'eʃsentiel, qu'il merite d'être
un Particulier" -- I think this Speech was strongly
expreʃsive of the loʃs private Society had, by the
Kings being so much above it -- if ever you have
a proper opportunity I wish you would present
my Duty in thae propermost respectfull manner to her Majesty --
& pray let me know in your next how their Royal
Highneʃses do -- ? & whether The Prince Adolphus is as



beautifull as ever? -- likewise let us know
circumstantially how Their Majesties do? we
may depend upon what you tell us, but not
upon the Newspapers or other intelligence, &
when we read of the indisposition of either it
makes us very uneasy as you may readily
imagine -- Hamilton joins with me in very
kind love & I am ever My Dr Miʃs Hamilton
                             Yr Most Affectionate Aunt
                                                         & Sincere friend CHamilton

Our United love to Mrs Hamilton
Sr Wm. has been laughing at my Ardour as he
calls it, I have been longing that Old Ad. Knowles's
Scheme should be put in execution, he said it
could be easy for three or four Ships to run into
Brest with a fair Wind & burn all their Shipping
& he would willingly be the first Ship -- only
think of my being grown a Politician, but I am
out of patience with french Deceit --

in the corner of this letter you will find a
Maltese Ring

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


Notes


 1. The text has been presented in logical order, with no attempt to indicate departure from an original pagination which in the present image PDF is uncertain.
 2. Bosquet 'plantation in a garden, park, etc., of underwood and small trees; a thicket' (OED).

Normalised Text




Naples
May 14th- 1778

      I am ashamed My Dear Miss
Hamilton of my own indolence, but I do assure
you, though my pen has not been employ'd in
telling you so, you take up much of my thoughts
& I hope I need not tell you how large a Share
you possess in my Affections. -- but I must now
reproach you, & call you to account it is by
mere chance that I have just learnt that you
have been very ill of the Putrid Sore throat
but are perfectly recover'd
, if I had heard the
first part without the latter let your own
heart tell you how much I should have Suffer'd
I hope this hint will be sufficient, & that all
my future intelligence about you will be from
yourself. -- We are at present at our Villa upon
the foot of Mount Vesuvius, (the Court being at
Portici) & I wish I could convey to your imagination
the beautiful prospect I have from the
place where I am writing looking over the Kings Bosquet
& the Bay bounded by the Mountains of Sorrento,
I love this Villa, but my principal attachment
to it is the quiet I enjoy (although so near the gayest
Court in Europe) the fact is I never go near it



but when it is absolutely necessary I should pay
my Court, or that the Queen sends for me, Her
Majesty has always treated me with the greatest kindness
, & says she wishes to see me more, & last Thursday
sent me word her Apartment was open for me a toutes
heures de jour et nuit
, that was her expression
but I shall continue my old Plan of keeping the
greatest & most respectful distance, I am able, I am
a bad Courtier, & I know her Majesty's disposition too
well to place any confidence in any encouragement
she may please to give me -- I should not venture to
say all this to you if my letter was to go by the Post
but I send it by Mr Carnegie brother to Sir David
Carnegie who is order'd to join his Regiment & as
there are some Characters you may be curious to
know I may now speak freely to you -- & to proceed
with that of the Queen -- She is quick, clever, insinuating
when she pleases, hates & loves violently, but her Passions
of both kind pass like the Wind, she is too proud, &
too humble, there is no dependence upon what she says,
as she seldom is of the same opinion two days, her
Strongest & most durable Passions are Ambition & Vanity
the latter of which gives her a strong disposition to
Coquetry, but the former which I think is her principal
Object makes her use every Art to please the King
in order to get the Reins of Government into her
hands, in as great a measure as is possible -- with
all this she is an excellent Mother, & is very generous
& charitable -- did you ever know such a compound!



The King is in many things a direct contrast to the
Queen, he has neither education or Art, it is a thousand
pities he has not the former, for he deserves it, his heart
is excellent & his head by no means deficient, on the
contrary he has an uncommon deal of quickness,
he is sincere constant in his friendships, benevolent,
a natural disposition to justice, & his love to please
is so genuine that I know numberless instances where
he has done good natured actions, so entirely for his
own satisfaction that he has not wish'd it to be
known from whence their Source came he can
not bear a lie, nor does he ever forget the Man
whom he has caught in one he has a great
regard for the Queen, & She has some weight
with him, but he sees a good deal into her
Character & will have his own way the Queen
Shows some favour at times to the French
but The King detests them, & indeed is often
Scarcely civil to them - the next person whom
I shall mention to you is the Count de Clermont
the French Ambassador who is the weakest poor Man
Alive, so weak, that I wish he was first Minister
at Versailles, at the Age of fifty he has fallen
a Prey to the most Gallant Woman here (the
Marquise de Santo Marco) who laughs at him
& ruins him, the Portuguese Minister is a good
sort of Man, The Sardinian, clever, but a true
Piedmontese
-- The Count de Lambert who is coming



from Vienna a very agreable Man -- The Danish
Minister just arrived (who is the only married one except the
Venetian Resident) I shall have little comfort
in as they cannot live without gaming -- as to
the rest they are not worth speaking of -- in the
Winter we have a fatiguing time, as we have
scarcely an hour to ourselves, the past one I
think would have killed me had it not been
for the friendship & kindness of that charming
Man & Woman, Lady Betty and Mr Mackenzie whose
goodness to me I shall never forget, particularly
upon a foolish Affair where their assistance
was very essential to one of so anxious a temper
as you know mine to be -- the Affair I speak
of was concerning Lady Maynard whose Lord first
wanted to force me to receive her visit, & then
to present her to The Queen of Naples, neither
of which I chose to do, as I could not venture
to ask an Audience & answer (as is the Etiquette
of this Court) for a person I had reason to believe
My own Sovereign would not receive, (I suppose
you know who Lady Maynard was?) in consequence
of my refusal I underwent a real
persecution & by the end of the Winter I
was quite worn out with it -- if ever you
see Lady Betty she can give you an account
of the whole for I really am sick of the
thought, & still more as I hear they intend



returning here next Winter & they have already
declar'd they will do every thing to torment us --
but enough of this very unpleasant Subject &
I must now return to the Subject of our present
pleasant situation in the Country, where
we live as English a life as we can make
it -- in the Morning we go out in an Open
Chaise, I work, & draw -- & in the Evening we
have music -- & afterwards I work & Sir William
reads to me, & you cannot think with what
pleasure I heard him tell an Italian the
other day who wonder'd at our not going
to the Conversaziones a mile off, that our
Evenings pass'd so pleasantly that he could
not have the heart to try a change -- as to
me, in almost thirteen Years (which it is since
we first came from England) I have never made
a friendship or I should rather say intimacy, with
any Woman here though I have been upon a perfect
good footing with them all, their education &
way of thinking is so totally different from
ours that there is no temptation to it, & I am
convinced they like me much better for not
choosing to enter into their private Coteries, & by
that means I am now & then at liberty to


take that rest I am now enjoying at our
Sweet Villa -- we have a charming Room for
Music, & my Piano forte is placed just vis-à-vis
to the Vesuvius which now & then heats
me with an explosion while I am playing, the
other Night there was the finest Girandole of
red hot Stones you can imagine, it made an
amazing report but we play'd on as you would
if you had heard a pop gun in the Street -- See
what custom does! -- I cannot help however longing
from time to time to be in England, & was my
Mind at ease when I am there, I dare say
the Climate would agree very well with me
but till our Circumstances are a little better &
our Estate clear I could not feel comfortable, not
that we are saving here, but we are not augmenting
the debt though we spend our own -- & we could not
avoid increasing it in England unless I could persuade
Hamilton to retire into Wales, which he
is not inclined to do, but he always tells me that
he dedicated his Services to his Sovereign when their
family was first form'd, & that he hopes to go
on in his Career & dedicate the rest of his life
to his Service -- You may imagine this is sufficient
to Silence me -- & I must comfort my self with the



thoughts of Visiting Dear England now & then,
What a now & then My Dear Miss Hamilton! upon
reflection I dare not look so forward -- I should grow
melancholy if I dwelt any longer upon this Subject --
pray let me know if you have seen much of
Lady Stormont, & how you like her? -- & write me
word every thing about yourself, you know how
much I have your happiness at heart -- I am
comforted when I think of your situation, know
how to prize your own happiness My Dear Miss
Hamilton -- I know you love and admire The Queen, but
did you know other Sovereigns -- I think you would
doubly bless the kind providence who had placed
you where you are -- I am ready to Say of our Queen
as Prince Poniatowski did of The King of Poland
I was asking him some questions relating to him
& he said "il a tant de Vertus, tant de qualités
aimables aussi bien qu'essentiel, qu'il merite d'être
un Particulier" -- I think this Speech was strongly
expressive of the loss private Society had, by the
Kings being so much above it -- if ever you have
a proper opportunity I wish you would present
my Duty in the most respectful manner to her Majesty --
& pray let me know in your next how their
Highnesses do -- ? & whether The Prince Adolphus is as



beautiful as ever? -- likewise let us know
circumstantially how Their Majesties do? we
may depend upon what you tell us, but not
upon the Newspapers or other intelligence, &
when we read of the indisposition of either it
makes us very uneasy as you may readily
imagine -- Hamilton joins with me in very
kind love & I am ever My Dear Miss Hamilton
                             Your Most Affectionate Aunt
                                                         & Sincere friend Catherine Hamilton

Our United love to Mrs Hamilton
Sir William has been laughing at my Ardour as he
calls it, I have been longing that Old Admiral Knowles's
Scheme should be put in execution, he said it
could be easy for three or four Ships to run into
Brest with a fair Wind & burn all their Shipping
& he would willingly be the first Ship -- only
think of my being grown a Politician, but I am
out of patience with french Deceit --

in the corner of this letter you will find a
Maltese Ring

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



 1. The text has been presented in logical order, with no attempt to indicate departure from an original pagination which in the present image PDF is uncertain.
 2. Bosquet 'plantation in a garden, park, etc., of underwood and small trees; a thicket' (OED).

Metadata

Library References

Repository: The John Rylands Library, University of Manchester

Archive: Mary Hamilton Papers

Item title: Letter from Lady Catherine Hamilton to Mary Hamilton

Shelfmark: HAM/1/4/5/10

Correspondence Details

Author: Lady Catherine Hamilton

Place sent: Naples

Addressee: Mary Hamilton

Place received: unknown

Date sent: 14 May 1778

Letter Description

Summary: Letter from Lady Catherine Hamilton to Mary Hamilton. The letter relates to the Queen of Naples and Lady Catherine's life in Naples. Lady Catherine describes herself as a bad courtier and says that she knows the Queen's [of Naples] 'disposition too well to place any confidence in any encouragement she pleases to give me'. Lady Catherine notes that she would not be so open if she were not sending this letter via a friend. The queen is described as clever and quick witted, and she 'hates & loves violently, but her Passions of both kind pass like the Wind'. Lady Catherine notes that you cannot depend on what she says, as she frequently changes her mind. She continues that the Queen's 'principal Object makes her use every Art to please the King in order to get the Reins of Government into her hands in as great a measure as is possible'. She also describes her as an excellent mother, and generous. The King is very different and has 'neither education or art', although he has 'an uncommon deal of quickness'. He is very kind and a sincere friend. Lady Catherine Hamilton notes that although the Queen shows some favour for the French, the King 'detests them'.
    Concerning her life in Naples, Lady Catherine Hamilton writes that she tries to live as 'English a life' as possible and continues her letter on this subject. She also writes on the French ambassador and on Lady Maynard, and Lady Catherine's refusal to present her to the Queen. Dated at Naples.
    Original reference No. 9.
   

Length: 2 sheets, 1876 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 2017/18 provided by Department of Linguistics and English Language, University of Manchester.

Research assistant: Georgia Tutt, MA student, University of Manchester

Transliterator: Carmen Salas, undergraduate student, University of Seville (submitted November 2017)

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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