Single Letter

HAM/1/4/5/4

Letter from Lady Catherine Hamilton to Mary Hamilton

Diplomatic Text


3

Typed
      more probably Aug. or Sepbr.
May 1777

                             I have been such a Vagabond
of late My Dear Miʃs Hamilton that it has
been impoʃsible for me to perform my
promise of writing to you -- we arrived here
only the day before Yesterday after having
made the tour of North & South Holland
in the most agreable way in the World --
I am delighted with the mode of traveling
in Tracscutes,[1] & find it so adapted to my
natural indolence as well as my
constitution that I wish I could get to
Naples by the same conveyance -- you
know how much I dreaded the tour of
Holland, & contrary to my expectation it
has been a most pleasant one -- the
Country tho' flat, is beautifull, & there is a
look of Cleanlineʃs, & plenty thatwhich is very
agreable -- as to North Holland it is so



totally different from any thing one has seen
elsewhire, that I would give a good deal
to be able to convey to you an idea of what
I have seen there -- the first place we went
to, in the North was a place call'd Bruck,
it resembles the Chinese Villages you see
upon Screens -- the outsides of the houses are
painted carved & partly gilt, all look as
fresh as if done Yesterday, & the mixture
of colours are not tawdry, but elegant,
to each house there is a little garden
with a kind of Chinese paling, these gardens
are full of Parterres[2] of flowers mix'd wth.
shells of different colours, to each house
also there are two doors, one (which they
call the Porte fatal) is never open'd but
upon a Marriage or Funeral, when they
put a step to it (as it is a little raised
above the ground) & it is thrown open,
these houses are built round Squares
of Water, & along Canals, with little
light bridges thrown over every hunded
Yards, the whole is intermix'd with



tall trees which add to the beauty of the
prospect. These people are so very neat &
formal that they wash their Paths wch.
are done with brick & sprinkle the sand
in patterns, if you go of a Saturday (wch. is
their washing day) they will not admit
you into their houses, & the King of Pruʃsia
who forced his way into one of these houses
some Years ago, was surprised at being
taken up in the Arms of a great Dutch
maid who set him down at the outside
the door that He might not spoil the
room she had just wash'd -- as to their
dreʃs I cannot give you an idea of it
without inclosing a swatch of it by way
of description, & then you may make it
out in a better manner with your
Crayons -- I must not not talk to you any
more of Holland, it is un Champ si vaste
that would require volumes -- we stay'd
two days at Antwerp & were delighted
with Reubens Pictures, I had no idea
what a master he was before I saw



these, & particularly wch. they call the Chapeau
de Paille -- (wch by the by is not so but a Spanish
hat) it represents an beautifull girl about
Seventeen with her Arms croʃs'd & is much
beyond any painting I ever saw -- As to
Spa My Dr Miʃs Hamilton I wish to
grow partial to it, but hitherto I hate
it monstrously -- it is noisy, diʃsipated,
Nonsensical & very full of very bad com=
=pany
-- tho there are some exceptions
as par example, My Dear little Mrs
Graham who looks as beautifull as
an Angel & her husband & a few more
good people I could name -- both Ly
Spencer & I are sick, she with an
indigestion, & I with a violent cold wch
is a reall distreʃs as I have so little
a time to drink the waters & cannot
begin till I get rid of it -- in order to
which I must now go to bed & therefore
bid you a good night -- let me hear
from you as you promised -- My love
Sr Wms love[3] attends Mrs Hamilton & I am ever Yr. Most
                                                         Affect Aunt CHamilton

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


Notes


 1. An anglicisation of Dutch trekschuit 'canal- or river-boat drawn by horses, carrying passengers and goods, as in common use in Holland; a track-boat' (OED s.v. trekschuit | treckschuit).
 2. 'A level space in a garden occupied by an ornamental arrangement of flower beds' (OED s.v. parterre).
 3. The insertion lacks initial &.

Normalised Text




     

                             I have been such a Vagabond
of late My Dear Miss Hamilton that it has
been impossible for me to perform my
promise of writing to you -- we arrived here
only the day before Yesterday after having
made the tour of North & South Holland
in the most agreeable way in the World --
I am delighted with the mode of travelling
in Trekschuiten, & find it so adapted to my
natural indolence as well as my
constitution that I wish I could get to
Naples by the same conveyance -- you
know how much I dreaded the tour of
Holland, & contrary to my expectation it
has been a most pleasant one -- the
Country though flat, is beautiful, & there is a
look of Cleanliness, & plenty which is very
agreeable -- as to North Holland it is so



totally different from any thing one has seen
elsewhere, that I would give a good deal
to be able to convey to you an idea of what
I have seen there -- the first place we went
to, in the North was a place call'd Bruck,
it resembles the Chinese Villages you see
upon Screens -- the outsides of the houses are
painted carved & partly gilt, all look as
fresh as if done Yesterday, & the mixture
of colours are not tawdry, but elegant,
to each house there is a little garden
with a kind of Chinese paling, these gardens
are full of Parterres of flowers mix'd with
shells of different colours, to each house
also there are two doors, one (which they
call the Porte fatale) is never open'd but
upon a Marriage or Funeral, when they
put a step to it (as it is a little raised
above the ground) & it is thrown open,
these houses are built round Squares
of Water, & along Canals, with little
light bridges thrown over every hundred
Yards, the whole is intermix'd with



tall trees which add to the beauty of the
prospect. These people are so very neat &
formal that they wash their Paths which
are done with brick & sprinkle the sand
in patterns, if you go of a Saturday (which is
their washing day) they will not admit
you into their houses, & the King of Prussia
who forced his way into one of these houses
some Years ago, was surprised at being
taken up in the Arms of a great Dutch
maid who set him down at the outside
the door that He might not spoil the
room she had just wash'd -- as to their
dress I cannot give you an idea of it
without inclosing a swatch of it by way
of description, & then you may make it
out in a better manner with your
Crayons -- I must not not talk to you any
more of Holland, it is un Champ si vaste
that would require volumes -- we stay'd
two days at Antwerp & were delighted
with Rubens Pictures, I had no idea
what a master he was before I saw



these, & particularly which they call the Chapeau
de Paille -- (which by the by is not so but a Spanish
hat) it represents a beautiful girl about
Seventeen with her Arms cross'd & is much
beyond any painting I ever saw -- As to
Spa My Dear Miss Hamilton I wish to
grow partial to it, but hitherto I hate
it monstrously -- it is noisy, dissipated,
Nonsensical & very full of very bad company
-- though there are some exceptions
as par example, My Dear little Mrs
Graham who looks as beautiful as
an Angel & her husband & a few more
good people I could name -- both Lady
Spencer & I are sick, she with an
indigestion, & I with a violent cold which
is a real distress as I have so little
a time to drink the waters & cannot
begin till I get rid of it -- in order to
which I must now go to bed & therefore
bid you a good night -- let me hear
from you as you promised -- My love
Sir Williams love attends Mrs Hamilton & I am ever Your Most
                                                         Affectionate Aunt Catherine Hamilton

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quotations,
spellings, uncorrected forms, split words, abbreviations, formatting)



 1. An anglicisation of Dutch trekschuit 'canal- or river-boat drawn by horses, carrying passengers and goods, as in common use in Holland; a track-boat' (OED s.v. trekschuit | treckschuit).
 2. 'A level space in a garden occupied by an ornamental arrangement of flower beds' (OED s.v. parterre).
 3. The insertion lacks initial &.

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/1/4/5/4

Correspondence Details

Author: Lady Catherine Hamilton

Place sent: Spa (certainty: high)

Addressee: Mary Hamilton

Place received: unknown

Date sent: May 1777
when May 1777 (precision: low)
notBefore 1777 (precision: high)
notAfter September 1777 (precision: high)

Letter Description

Summary: Letter from Lady Catherine Hamilton to Mary Hamilton. The letter relates to Lady Hamilton's tour of North and South Holland in a 'Tracscutes' [canal- or river-boat]. Contrary to her expectations, the tour has been most pleasant. The first place they visited in North Holland was called Bruck, which 'resembles the Chinese Villages you see upon Screens', the exteriors of the houses being carved, painted and gilded. 'These people are so very neat & formal that they wash their Paths w[hi]ch are done with brick & sprinkle the sand in patterns'. They stayed two days in Antwerp and were delighted with the Rubens pictures. However, Spa is 'noisy, dissipated, Nonsensical & very full of very bad company', though there are some exceptions, such as dear little Mrs Graham, who looks as beautiful as an angel. Lady Hamilton and Lady Spencer are both sick.
    Original reference No. 3.
   

Length: 3 sheets, 693 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 2016/17 provided by The John Rylands Research Institute.

Research assistant: Sarah Connor, undergraduate student, University of Manchester

Transliterator: Xiaoge Liu, undergraduate student, University of Manchester (submitted May 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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