Single Letter

HAM/1/4/6/4

Letter from Henry Hamilton to John Dickenson

Diplomatic Text


1791

You who enjoy rural felicity I hope in Derbyshire, do you now and then
think of a certain old blade who vegetates at Bermuda 3000 miles distant
from fashion, amusement rational conversation and the well known faces
of well known friends -- you do, I promise myself and am flatterd in the
hope -- my gratitude is not yet out at elbows for the kind provocation you
gave me my dear boy to a correspondence, I did with pleasure accept the
challenge and am demonstrating to you that I thought myself honored by
it -- you are rich in information, anecdote, private and public, even
your fireside furnishes intelligence of an interesting kind to one who is of
the old fashioned breed, and thinks meanly of the fopperies and follies on
which the Women of the Age doat and the men follow them -- I aʃsert that
Women are the leaders of paʃsions and pursuits as well as fashions, I need
not to go to History for proofs I feel it, and I wish I had better pretensions
on which to ground my Assertions -- but let me not repine at my being
single or antient, perhaps my female directreʃs would not have chosen
a silken thing for my tether, but as Jerry says might have hectord &
domineerd like the Devil -- no intermediate condition for I should either



have buckled unconditionally and worn my badges of submiʃsion gilt or
plain without a murmur or have whistled off Madam to graze where she
might find her pasture most suited to her taste -- digreʃsions and parentheses
make the body of my letters in general, and I sometimes allow myself to
go down hill as chance directs and scarce know how to recover my former
ground -- You have been uncommonly amused no doubt with the extravaganzas
of the Neapolitan Knight,[1] pray tell me. I recollect a very virtuous little
fellow of C. College Oxford whose wig was the most orthodoxically buckled, &
his shoes rivaling the best Japanned tea=tray, called me to account
for ridiculing some of my Aunts, profeʃsed old routers,[2] who paʃsed by
far the greatest part of their lives with cards in their hands. his reproof
was couched in terms very well chosen and claʃsically correct, but I
could not help laughing at his solemnity, for in my idea our
relations are the fairest of all game, and it is from the consideration
of being parties, that we endeavor to conceal their foibles or palliate them
since we make no scruple of running down our fellow Christians if they
be removed from us a certain canonical distance -- If Mother Church was



to go into the reverends idea we should have a table of censure scandal
and ridicule beginning "A man may not laugh at his Grandmother"
continued down to "his Wife's Sister's daughter" -- now that would to me
be a very great confinement who have such a number of relations at
most of whom I have been laughing all my life. I know full well I
have payd my share of the reckoning and from the very egg was inured to
scoffings gibes mimickry and sarcasm till I was "No Minister so sore"[3]
I recoverd however and learned to act first on the defensive till years
fortifying these pleasant propensities I became sufficiently offensive --
      If by chance you should become a little wearisome in your retreat
perhaps Bath may be your resource, There is a band of ------ &
of course a set of good folk who in the Indian phrase will be well pleased
to brighten the chain of friendship, I could like well to be of the party
and to exhibit myself in a better light than when I was last there,
I was a little devoured with sulk gloom low pulse and other quiddities which
disqualifyed me for the society of my good friends who were at hearts
ease and tickled with a feather -- the uncommon vivacity & novelty of
Character of Lydia White[4] were by far the most antiphlegmatic lozenges
that Bath afforded, I hated myself all the time I was there, I am now



on better terms with myself, tho still a little queerish sometimes --
With all this crookedneʃs of disposition I am no mysogyne, no, I am
quite an advocate for Gay's principle, "if the heart of a man &ca"[5]
but then she must be such a one as you would like for a companion.
how many do I know! but then they are the properties of others, all
bespoke, no not all, but then they are hanging on boughs out of reach.
In sober sadneʃs I must content myself with being vieux garçon, sith 'twill
no better be
-- All this time I have not said ofa Word of what paʃʃes
in this little World of Rocks and Shoals, and I have so good reason for my
silence that I shall leave things as they are. one day is so like another
(except when a Veʃsel brings letters) that I may say night and day, clouds
or sunshine constitute the principal varieties if to this are added the
viciʃsitudes of roast and boiled, you may form a tolerable estimate of my
pastimes and resources -- If I should proceed to another sheet, perhaps I
may give a better account of myself for to confeʃs a truth this is one of
my un days -- on the 30th I must recollect how old I am perhaps the
approach affects my Spirits as one of Congreve's characters says upon the
appearance of his Wife, he felt a friʃson God help him --
You will tell me about home. Mrs: D. Louisa and whatever is nearest your heart
A Vessel offers for Dominica -- Adieu.

Nov-: 25th. 1791.[6]

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


Notes


 1. A reference to Sir William Hamilton, uncle of Mary Hamilton, returned to London from Naples.
 2. A router is a frequenter of 'routs' in sense 'a fashionable gathering; a large evening party or soirée of a type fashionable in the 18th and early 19th centuries' (OED s.vv. rout n.1, 8; router n.3, 2).
 3. Fuller context for the brief phrase from Pope's Epistle ,ll.75-80: Peace is my dear delight —- not Fleury’s more: | But touch me, and no Minister so sore. | Whoe’er offends, at some unlucky time | Slides into verse, and hitches in a rhyme, | Sacred to Ridicule his whole life long, | And the sad burden of some merry Song.
 4. Lydia Rogers White (c.1760-1827), literary hostess (ODNB).
 5. The allusion is to the following couplet from Macheath's song: 'If the Heart of a Man is deprest with Cares, | The Mist is dispell'd when a Woman appears'.
 6. Moved date here from right side of p.3.

Normalised Text



You who enjoy rural felicity I hope in Derbyshire, do you now and then
think of a certain old blade who vegetates at Bermuda 3000 miles distant
from fashion, amusement rational conversation and the well known faces
of well known friends -- you do, I promise myself and am flattered in the
hope -- my gratitude is not yet out at elbows for the kind provocation you
gave me my dear boy to a correspondence, I did with pleasure accept the
challenge and am demonstrating to you that I thought myself honored by
it -- you are rich in information, anecdote, private and public, even
your fireside furnishes intelligence of an interesting kind to one who is of
the old fashioned breed, and thinks meanly of the fopperies and follies on
which the Women of the Age dote and the men follow them -- I assert that
Women are the leaders of passions and pursuits as well as fashions, I need
not to go to History for proofs I feel it, and I wish I had better pretensions
on which to ground my Assertions -- but let me not repine at my being
single or ancient, perhaps my female directress would not have chosen
a silken thing for my tether, but as Jeremiah says might have hectored &
domineered like the Devil -- no intermediate condition for I should either



have buckled unconditionally and worn my badges of submission gilt or
plain without a murmur or have whistled off Madam to graze where she
might find her pasture most suited to her taste -- digressions and parentheses
make the body of my letters in general, and I sometimes allow myself to
go down hill as chance directs and scarce know how to recover my former
ground -- You have been uncommonly amused no doubt with the extravaganzas
of the Neapolitan Knight, pray tell me. I recollect a very virtuous little
fellow of Christ Church College Oxford whose wig was the most orthodoxically buckled, &
his shoes rivaling the best Japanned tea=tray, called me to account
for ridiculing some of my Aunts, professed old routers, who passed by
far the greatest part of their lives with cards in their hands. his reproof
was couched in terms very well chosen and classically correct, but I
could not help laughing at his solemnity, for in my idea our
relations are the fairest of all game, and it is from the consideration
of being parties, that we endeavor to conceal their foibles or palliate them
since we make no scruple of running down our fellow Christians if they
be removed from us a certain canonical distance -- If Mother Church was



to go into the reverends idea we should have a table of censure scandal
and ridicule beginning "A man may not laugh at his Grandmother"
continued down to "his Wife's Sister's daughter" -- now that would to me
be a very great confinement who have such a number of relations at
most of whom I have been laughing all my life. I know full well I
have paid my share of the reckoning and from the very egg was inured to
scoffings gibes mimicry and sarcasm till I was "No Minister so sore"
I recovered however and learned to act first on the defensive till years
fortifying these pleasant propensities I became sufficiently offensive --
      If by chance you should become a little wearisome in your retreat
perhaps Bath may be your resource, There is a band of ------ &
of course a set of good folk who in the Indian phrase will be well pleased
to brighten the chain of friendship, I could like well to be of the party
and to exhibit myself in a better light than when I was last there,
I was a little devoured with sulk gloom low pulse and other quiddities which
disqualified me for the society of my good friends who were at hearts
ease and tickled with a feather -- the uncommon vivacity & novelty of
Character of Lydia White were by far the most antiphlegmatic lozenges
that Bath afforded, I hated myself all the time I was there, I am now



on better terms with myself, though still a little queerish sometimes --
With all this crookedness of disposition I am no mysogyne, no, I am
quite an advocate for Gay's principle, "if the heart of a man et cetera"
but then she must be such a one as you would like for a companion.
how many do I know! but then they are the properties of others, all
bespoke, no not all, but then they are hanging on boughs out of reach.
In sober sadness I must content myself with being vieux garçon, sith 'twill
no better be
-- All this time I have not said a Word of what passes
in this little World of Rocks and Shoals, and I have so good reason for my
silence that I shall leave things as they are. one day is so like another
(except when a Vessel brings letters) that I may say night and day, clouds
or sunshine constitute the principal varieties if to this are added the
vicissitudes of roast and boiled, you may form a tolerable estimate of my
pastimes and resources -- If I should proceed to another sheet, perhaps I
may give a better account of myself for to confess a truth this is one of
my un days -- on the 30th I must recollect how old I am perhaps the
approach affects my Spirits as one of Congreve's characters says upon the
appearance of his Wife, he felt a frisson God help him --
You will tell me about home. Mrs: Dickenson Louisa and whatever is nearest your heart
A Vessel offers for Dominica -- Adieu.

November 25th. 1791.

(consult diplomatic text or XML for annotations, deletions, clarifications,
quotations,
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 1. A reference to Sir William Hamilton, uncle of Mary Hamilton, returned to London from Naples.
 2. A router is a frequenter of 'routs' in sense 'a fashionable gathering; a large evening party or soirée of a type fashionable in the 18th and early 19th centuries' (OED s.vv. rout n.1, 8; router n.3, 2).
 3. Fuller context for the brief phrase from Pope's Epistle ,ll.75-80: Peace is my dear delight —- not Fleury’s more: | But touch me, and no Minister so sore. | Whoe’er offends, at some unlucky time | Slides into verse, and hitches in a rhyme, | Sacred to Ridicule his whole life long, | And the sad burden of some merry Song.
 4. Lydia Rogers White (c.1760-1827), literary hostess (ODNB).
 5. The allusion is to the following couplet from Macheath's song: 'If the Heart of a Man is deprest with Cares, | The Mist is dispell'd when a Woman appears'.
 6. Moved date here from right side of p.3.

Metadata

Library References

Repository: The John Rylands Library, University of Manchester

Archive: Mary Hamilton Papers

Item title: Letter from Henry Hamilton to John Dickenson

Shelfmark: HAM/1/4/6/4

Correspondence Details

Author: Henry Hamilton

Place sent: Bermuda (certainty: high)

Addressee: John Dickenson

Place received: Taxal, Chapel-en-le-Frith (certainty: medium)

Date sent: 25 November 1791

Letter Description

Summary: Letter from Henry Hamilton to John Dickenson. He asks if on occasion Dickenson thinks of 'a certain old blade who vegetates at Bermuda 3000 miles from fashion, amusement [and] rational conversation'. Henry Hamilton enjoys his correspondence with Dickenson, the information he provides and his anecdotes. Writing of Sir William Hamilton [Mary Hamilton's uncle], he states that he assumes that Dickenson 'has been uncommonly amused no doubt with the extravaganzas of the Neopolitan Knight', and asks for information. He continues on his relations and declares that to his mind relations are fair game for laughing at.
   

Length: 1 sheet, 954 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: Natalia De La Torre Bromley, undergraduate student, University of Manchester (submitted May 2018)

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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